Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cleveland Park Citizens Association -- at it again

The DC Board of Ethics and Elections recently conducted a hearing regarding a petition for ANC 3 C candidate Gregory Hair to appear on the November Ballot. A 13 year resident of Cleveland Park, Mr. Hair is frustrated with the continued reactive and divisive activities routinely undertaken by the local ANC and neighborhood groups such as the Cleveland Park Citizens Association. As a result, Mr Hair gathered the necessary petition signatures from friends and neighbors in his Single Member District (ANC 3C 05) to appear on the November Ballot.

The process hit a bump on the road when a challenge was filed on his petition. Apparently George Idelson, doing the bidding for his pal Bruce Beckner, the current ANC Commissioner for ANC 3C 05, challenged the petition based on legibility of the signatures. The BOEE staff and Board ruled in favor of Mr. Hair.

This is not the first time Mr. Idelson has taken such action. Two years ago, Mr Idelson publicly called into question the integrity of a last minute write-in candidate for the same seat, claiming

I note that (the write-in candidate) has criticized Bruce Beckner for not being on the Cleveland Park listserv. That's a choice people can make, but as a courtesy, I am posting a message (see below) for Bruce. I note, too, that (the write-in candidate) is not a member of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association. That's also a matter of choice, but there is much to commend it for anyone who cares about our community. Long before there was an Historical Society or a listserv, the Cleveland Park Citizens Association worked to protect and improve the quality of life in Cleveland Park and the city at large.

Of course, in that case, Mr. Idelson was completely mistaken (not that membership in a neighborhood organization should be a litmus test for an ANC Candidate) as he had to post a correction. In addition to making this false claim, he willfully mispelled the candidates last name, lest a challenge be necessary after the election.

Is this appropriate, for the President of the CPCA to be defending the "honor" of ANC candidates? How is Mr. Hair supposed to react when Mr. Idelson moderates the ANC Candidate Forum on October 7th?

And people wonder why the ANCs and slanted Citizens Associations have little credibility when they claim the mantel of "great weight" before city agencies and the Council.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Harry Jaffe: There are still Republicans in DC?

Realistically, Republicans have few prospects for triumph in the Nov. 7 general election, but the party does offer a slate of candidates. In addition to Kranich, Republican nominees are contesting in three D.C. Council races: Marcus Skelton for an at-large seat, Theresa Conroy for Ward 3 and Tony Williams for Ward 6.

During a recent Ward 3 community meeting, Conroy said her opponent, Democratic nominee Mary Cheh, was introduced as the next Ward 3 council member. Conroy, a former Marymount University professor, was forced to explain there is still a race, that “it’s not over.”

“The system accepts the primary as the de facto result,” Conroy said. “I don’t know what the Republican Party in the District can do.”

It is conceivable for a Republican to win in one of the District’s upper-income wards, if the GOP were to run as a “Rockefeller-type” Republican, said Harold Wolman, professor of public policy at The George Washington University.

But a citywide seat is out of the question, Wolman said, at least for now.

“African-American communities vote Democratic,” he said. “That’s the beginning and end of it. Unless the demographics change enormously, I don’t see Republicans citywide becoming competitive.”

Tom Knott comments on Advisory Neighborhood Commissions

All too many denizens of the city instinctively rail against corporate America as an article of their political faith but inevitably undermine the entrepreneurial spirit of the mom-and-pop tavern operators in their neighborhoods.
This disconnect is played out in various areas of the city, initiated by civic association groups and the elected officials of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Their hubris is surpassed only by their thorough misunderstanding of the marketplace.
Most know no more about the challenges of running a small business than they do about building a car engine from scrap.
Yet their lack of business acumen does not dissuade them from passing along their so-called expertise. It does not stop them from implementing obstacles, whether through moratoriums on liquor licenses, not granting license renewals, urging the owners of restaurants and bars to close their establishments earlier than necessary or even lodging protests with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.
A common complaint of protesters is the noise emanating from a particular establishment in the wee hours. This complaint would prompt laughter all around if the sober-minded did not treat it with the utmost seriousness and put the small business on notice.
As you hear these sleep-deprivation tales of woe, you want to ask: "What made you think that moving behind a commercial strip was an idyllic idea?" The chain restaurants -- TGIF and the like -- have the deep pockets to play this exhaustive game with the NIMBYs of the city. They have their corporate lawyers and public relations sorts. They have the time and expertise to sift through the choking bureaucracy.
The small-business owner has no such support system at his disposal. The person already is working long hours and doing everything possible to increase a slim profit/margin line. The civic association groups and ANC members do not have the faintest notion of what it takes the small-business owners to survive.
These groups do not know that a small-business owner may be paying as much as $8,000 a month to lease a building in a good part of town. They do not know about the problem of "spillage" and a portion of the goods going through one door and out another. They have not heard the lament of one longtime restaurant/bar owner in the city. To the question of what erodes the profit/margin line, he said, "Salt and pepper shakers." It seems many of his patrons saw the items as parting gifts, just another variation of the industry's old refrain: "It fell off the truck."
ANC commissioners and community activists sometimes say, "That is not the kind of business we want to attract to our neighborhood." These well-meaning types apparently think that if they pine hard enough for a shoe store or an upscale boutique to take up residence in an empty storefront, then one day it magically will happen.
That is not how the marketplace works, as city lawmakers know only too well. They have all but handed the combination to the city safe on occasion to lure this or that big-box retailer to an up-and-coming neighborhood.
The riddle of urban life reveals a surprising scene along H Street Northeast, the target of yet another redevelopment plan. Several nighttime hot spots have emerged amid the series of boarded-up storefronts, no doubt with the encouragement of the city and neighborhood.
These eclectic places, one of which features magic acts, would draw a sniff and a huff from many of the do-gooders in Northwest. That sort of entertainment fare never would be considered by a prospective owner, as it would require the person to go before the ANC to petition for a substantial change to the license.
It is preferable to buy an existing business, stealthlike, and leave the imagination to those owners in more receptive neighborhoods.
The last thing any small-business operator wants in this city is a mandatory date with the ANC and community activists who purport to know what is best for a community's commercial strip.

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Comprehensive Plan debate continues

The Council kicked off the first of a couple of days of testimony on the proposed Comprehensive Plan. Created to replace the document city planners have been operating under since 1984 (!), the new Plan is designed to be the blueprint for planners, developers, civic organizations, etc for the next 20 years.

proponents of the plan include the Mayor, several council members, the Office of Planning staff, ANCs and civic groups from around the city who have spent thousands of hours in neighborhood meetings, one on one discussions crafting this plan with activists from all corners of the city.

Opponents (comprised of activists, civic groups and ANCs) are claiming that more time is needed to craft the perfect document, and further that there hasn't been enough time to parse through the draft. Once example was cited in the NW Current regarding the WMATA Bus garage.

Nat Bottigheimer testified that WMATA needed the flexibility of additional floors to attract the kind of development options necessary to 1) make a parcel on top of a Metro Station more viable and 2) return critical funding to WMATA for other initiatives. Many were disappointed with Ellen McCarthy (Director of the Office of Planning) characterizing the "wishes of the community" as preferring not to upzone the parcel. Excuse me? Who is she listening to in making that statement? The 12 angry voices of Ward 3 or the thousands who supported a sweeping change in Ward politics just a couple of weeks ago?

Is this a perfect document? Of course not.

However, it is meant to be a flexible document which can be amended over time and as conditions change. It is meant to be a framework.

I think enough time has been spent on this that it should be passed.

If I am Adrian Fenty and Vincent Grey, do I want to have this draft hanging over my head for the first 1-4 years of my office, or do I want to start with a clean slate? Where Mr. Fenty had campaigned on listening to the community, he is quoted yesterday as "respecting the three year planning process" and to "move forward" with the Plan.

I certainly hope so. Enough time and money has been spent. What more is there to gain?

Friday, September 22, 2006

City Paper: Avalon Theater is Secure Hands

Posted by Mark Jenkins
The future of the Avalon Theater, D.C.'s only nonchain cinema, got a little more secure earlier this month. The Avalon Theater Project, the nonprofit group that rescued the Chevy Chase moviehouse in 2002 and reopened it in 2003, has bought its building from local developer Douglas Jemal for $3.5 million.

Jemal had only recently purchased the 1923 building, which he had leased with an option to buy from John Kyle, who owned the theater when Cineplex Odeon abandoned it in 2001. Bill Oberdorfer, executive director of the Avalon Theater Project, says he doesn't know when Jemal bought the structure, which also holds a Ben & Jerry's outlet. But the maverick real-estate magnate, who put an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 into theater renovations, was still leasing from Kyle when the Avalon reopened three years ago.

There are two advantages to owning, Oberdorfer explains. “Basically, the mortgage is less than the rent,” he says. “The other element…is that we filed for an exception from property taxes, which you can do in the District as a nonprofit owner, but not as a nonprofit lessor.”

Although ownership doesn't directly give the nonprofit more flexibility to operate, Oberdorfer says it does “just in the sense that it's less expensive for us. What it allows us to do is free up more funds for programming and the like. More staff to do more things than we were doing before.”

The Avalon shows independent, foreign, and offbeat Hollywood films on its two screens and also hosts special events and regular repertory series, including “indieWIRE Undiscovered Gems” and “Asian Cinevisions.” Oberdorfer says the project's organizers are considering additional ventures, including some sort of film education program for children. “But that's very much in the idea stage,” Oberdorfer notes. “We have do a feasibility thing on it to figure out basically what the community would like to have.” After all, the Avalon is now a neighborhood theater in every sense of the term.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Loose Lips follows my lead

As I reported here right after the election the 2006 campaign was unprecedented in terms of monies raised and spent. The City Paper's Loose Lips followed the lead of this blog in terms of analysis:

Not long before the Sept. 12 primary election, mayoral contender Vincent Orange reported a $67,000 personal loan to his faltering crusade. It didn’t make much difference. Orange finished with 2.87 percent of the vote. A quick review of the results page of any newspaper spells out who the losers were in each election. But determining true political futility requires a little math. Like Orange, a host of candidates piled up a huge campaign war chest, only to garner paltry vote tallies on Election Day. As the chart below reveals, some candidates can’t buy a vote in this city.


Bill Rice (Ward 3 D.C. Council) $154,768 $182.50 custom-packaged Rice Krispies treats
Eric Goulet (Ward 3 D.C. Council) $45,820 $103.45 home-office-produced campaign manifesto
Paul Strauss (Ward 3 D.C. Council) $121,092 $64.17 doughnuts, bagels, and coffee for volunteers before weekend neighborhood walks with candidate

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The ANC's, cornerstone of democracy in DC

The Home Rule Charter for the District of Columbia created the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions to provide the micro-grass roots voice for citizens of the city. Each ANC is comprised of several Single Member Districts (SMD) each representing around 2000 residents. The ANC's pass resolutions which go to city agencies such as DDOT, DCRA, DC Parks and Recreation to affect policy. The Executive Branch and City Council are supposed to give "Great Weight" to the voice of the ANCs. The ANCs provide voices on issues of street construction/traffic policy, commercial licenses (ABC), planning and the comprehenisve plan, etc.

Currently in Ward 3, most of the incumbant commissioners are running unopposed for this volunteer elective position. Several seats are currently void of any candidate at all:

3C-07 (Cathedral Heights)
3D-07 (American University)
3D-08 (Spring Valley, New Mexico, Sutton Place/ Mass Ave)
3E-02 (Spring Valley, Brandywine/Western and 44th Street)
3F-01 (North Cleveland Park around International Drive)
3F-03 (Forest Hills between Audobon Terrace and Broad Branch and Nebraska)
3F-06 (North Cleveland Park, Upton/Reno Road/Nebraska Ave)

These open seats are great opportunities to engage the community, get involved and provide new voices to the City Government. A write-in campaign can do wonders to energize a neighborhood.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A new job for Kathy Patterson?

It would have been very easy for outgoing Ward 3 Council Person Kathy Patterson to simply run for re-election. However, she made a choice to become the Coucil Chair, and lost to Ward 7 Councilman Vince Grey. Because her seat was up, Ms. Patteron had to choose between Council jobs and forfieted the opportunity to run for the Democratic Nomination captured by GWU Law Professor Mary Cheh. What to do now? The DC Examiner is reporting that presumptive Mayor Adrian Fenty is considering asking Ms. Patterson to take over as deputy mayor for public safety and justice:

As presumptive mayor-elect Adrian Fenty weighs the future of D.C.’s chief of police, he already has spoken to District Council Member Kathy Patterson about supervising the city’s emergency agencies, Fenty’s spokesman told The Examiner on Sunday.

Fenty and Patterson spoke Friday about the soon-to-be-open job of deputy mayor for public safety and justice, Fenty’s spokesman Alec Evans said.

“He and Kathy spoke about the possibility of her exploring a position, but it didn’t go much further than that,” Evans said.

Nonetheless, the two have been allies on the Council and personal friends for a long time. Both have been outspoken critics of the police department under Chief Charles Ramsey.

“I know Adrian has a high level of respect for Council Member Patterson — very high,” Evans said.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More from Marc Fisher

In the city, however, voters resoundingly rejected candidates backed by the vocal but tiny minority of residents who have made enough noise to stall or kill transit-oriented developments that the District requires to expand its tax base and serve citizens most in need. Voters in upper Northwest's Ward 3 chose Mary Cheh, the one council candidate who forthrightly said she will stand up to the NIMBY crowd and fight for a denser, more urban feel to the upper Wisconsin Avenue corridor.

Clearly, this is a conversation that will continue on political, philosophical and economic terms for the foreseeable future.

Sam Smith reacts to Marc Fisher


MARC FISHER seems to quite happy with the Rosslynization of Washington. On the Post's chat page he commented, "An easy, dominating win for Mary Cheh. . . That's a powerful endorsement by the silent, pro-development majority against the NIMBYs and suburban wannabes who have fought against transit-oriented development around Metro stations."

This is typical of the self-defeating arrogance of the "smart growth" folks, starting right with what they call themselves. As we have pointed out, real people live in the communities that the SG types want to change and they call these communities home, not sprawl. There are lots of ways of increasing density and reducing reliance on the car, but cottoning to the greed and Soviet-style esthetics of DC developers is not the right one.

Ward Three was designed around two major streetcar lines - Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenue with a residential thoroughfare - Reno Road - in between. This plan produced some pretty good density - check out the old apartment buildings on Connecticut - but still made it an attractive community.

There is nothing attractive in the sort of buildings being dumped into DC and elsewhere in the name of smart growth. They are ugly manifestations of power without grace.

There are other ways of going about adding density. Better design - in the historic European tradition - is one. Letting people add apartments to their existing homes is another. Adding a story or two of apartments over first floor retail is another. Giving these communities more accessible services rather than just more housing is yet another. And we have suggested that UDC's campus be redesigned as an attractive commercial quadrangle with shops on the first floor and classrooms above.

But dumping more tasteless ten-story boxes is about the dumbest sort of growth you can imagine.

And Right to Work

Nikita Stewart of the Washington Post reports on the DC Wire blog, that Adrian Fenty and other City Government Officials attended the Congressional hearings on DC Voting Rights, "Further down the row, Council members Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), David A. Catania (I-At Large) and Kwame Brown (D-At Large) were joined by Mary M. Cheh, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 3 council seat".

Mary M. Cheh, a George Washington University law professor who won the Democratic nomination in Ward 3, said she would like to head the council's judiciary committee, according to Yolanda Woodlee.

Tom Knott on the General Election (9/14/06)

Theresa Conroy, one of the last of the Republicans in a one-party city, is endeavoring to state her case in Ward 3 against D.C. Council Democratic nominee Mary Cheh in the weeks leading up to the general election in November.
She has been satisfied with the response she has received from voters, most of whom do not recoil in horror at the mention of her political affiliation. As Mrs. Conroy jokingly notes: "I've maybe had only a few voters say, 'Well, some of my best friends are Republicans.'" This is Mrs. Conroy's acknowledgment that hers remains an uphill struggle, especially in a city that views the victors of the Democratic primary as virtual locks to claim the race in November.
"It is a challenge to continue to get out there and say I am a credible candidate," the 55-year-old resident of Cathedral Heights said. "It is a slow process, but I think the name recognition is gradually coming." Despite the leftist bent of the city, Mrs. Conroy notes that Ward 3 does have a maverick's sense about it. It does have the highest concentration of registered Republicans in the city. It does have a large number of registered independents. And it does have a fair number of closeted Republicans who register as Democrats in order to participate in the Democratic primary.
She talks the talk of a fiscally prudent Republican. She sees a desperate need to add a sense of efficiency to the city budget. She sees an equally desperate need to hold city agencies accountable.
Hers are hardly the suggestions of a radical, although anyone who claims the Republican Party as their own in this bluest of precincts is uniquely set apart from the groupthink that so dominates many of the institutions in the city.
As one D.C. Council member told her in private after learning of her candidacy: "You're brave." Brave is not a word Mrs. Conroy would employ. She is idealistic enough to think the two-party system should not be dead in her beloved city. She is idealistic enough to think that competency is not an old-fashioned concept and that having two do the job of one is an act of bureaucratic surrender.
Mrs. Conroy sees weaknesses in Ms. Cheh's sudden civic-mindedness. Ms. Cheh concedes she never has attended a civic association or Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in her neighborhood.
As impressive as Ms. Cheh's academic credentials are -- she is a constitutional scholar at George Washington University -- the classroom environment is hardly an apt preparatory course in the oft-times down-and-dirty dealings of politics. Her word would be one of 13 on the council, and it hardly would be the final one, no doubt a change from students jotting down her every word.
Ms. Cheh also recognizes the potential appearance of a conflict of interest in touchy matters involving her employer and the residents of Foggy Bottom. In such instances, she says she would recuse herself from the voting process. Her ability to juggle her professorial and council duties, if it comes to that, was a subject of concern in the Democratic primary race as well.
Mrs. Conroy no doubt plans to amplify these unsettling elements in the weeks ahead, while touting her ample portfolio, stuffed with both an academic and political background.
She earned a doctorate in politics from Catholic University in 1981 and was a lecturer at Marymount University for 16 years. She co-founded the Institute for Republican Women in 1992 and serves as president of the D.C. League of Republican Women.
Now she is fighting the good fight in a city that often thinks no deeper than the D next to a candidate's name.
It won't be easy to cut through the Democratic political machine.
As Mrs. Conroy knows only too well: As much as the city embraces diversity, it is a diversity that does not include the diversity of thought.

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another money analysis

Well, the unofficial votes are in and the 8 day filings are in, so I thought I would look at the Ward 3 race from a different perspective. Given the earlier posts about monies raised, I thought it would be interesting to see what the dollar per vote cost was in this race.

Here are the vote totals (unofficial):

Mary Cheh 6,006
Paul Strauss 1,987
Sam Brooks 1,107
Robert Gordon 1,060
Cathy Wiss 1,042
Erik S. Gaull 962
Bill Rice 888
Eric Goulet 469
Jonathan Rees 29

Here are the most recent financial numbers (9/5/06):

Cheh $84,500
Strauss $121,092
Gordon $87,831
Wiss $26,412
Brooks $66,820
Gaull $71,051
Rice $154,769
Goulet $45,820
Rees $500

The efficiency quotient is thus

Cheh $14.06
Rees $17.24
Wiss $24.25
Brooks $60.36
Strauss $60.94
Gaull $73.85
Gordon $82.86
Goulet $97.70
Rice $174.29

I am not sure who managed Bill Rice's campaign, but clearly, they should probably be thinking about doing something else. Raising all that money from outside the Ward, only to use it with excessive robo-calls that did nothing more than infuriate the electorate from within the Ward. Bravo!

Cheh in a Virtual Landslide

Despite shill chatter from supporters of various candidates on local Yahoo Groups, anonymous attacking robo calls, and a moderate turnout at the polls, GWU Law Professor Mary Cheh prevailed in the hotly contested race to replace Kathy Patterson. Marc Fisher of the Washington Post commented late on election night:

An easy, dominating win for Mary Cheh, with 46 percent of the vote so far in a nine-way race. That's a powerful endorsement by the silent, pro-development majority against the NIMBYs and suburban wannabes who have fought against transit-oriented development around Metro stations.

The final results are as follows:

Mary M. Cheh 44.13% 6,006
Paul Strauss 14.60% 1,987
Sam Brooks 8.13% 1,107
Robert Gordon 7.79% 1,060
Cathy Wiss 8.09% 1,042
Erik S. Gaull 7.07% 962
Bill Rice 6.53% 888
Eric Goulet 3.45% 469
Jonathan Rees .21% 29

The good news, we probably do not need to hear it from the sour grapes corwd that there is no mandate for Ms. Cheh, or that there needs to be a runoff for this result to hold (although, there probably be a runoff law instituted for future elections).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Election Day words from Mark Plotkin

Ward 3: Should I say "Hey" to Mary Cheh? She seems like the only candidate in Ward 3 with a real plan and who hasn't driven me absolutely nuts with campaign ads and telephone calls. Bill Rice's calls yesterday drove me crazy and killed any chance he had of getting my vote. Paul Strauss' army of paid campaign workers and misleading calls also turned me off. Gordon's steroids-infused campaign signs totally negated his pledge to not use such obnoxious campaign tactics, so he's off my list of choices. Gaull also used too many paid workers and annoying calls; and his description of his million-plus jobs was tiresome. Goulet has little experience other than being a council committee clerk. Wiss is a great ANC person, but has no big picture vision. Sam Brooks has a nice smile and desperately wants to be elected to something - anything! So that leaves Cheh as my only realistic option.


Mark Plotkin: Cheh has been helped enormously by the Post endorsement. The great advantage is that she got the nod early, so she could publicize it and the word of mouth was worth a lot. Some people have told me that they found her somewhat cold in terms of personality. Bill Rice has a good record in government and feels, I think, frustrated that a newcomer to city politics, like Cheh, has garnered such support. Your description of all the other candidates makes me feel that you have a promising career in the field of political analysis. I'll let you know when I'm on vacation.


DC- Ward 3: Totally disagree with your assessment of Rice. The guy was the spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Transportation, yet the way he talks about it at various candidate forums, he was single-handedly running the entire department, filling in each and every pothole himself, and making transportation a pleasant experience for D.C. residents. But what made me question his judgment was the use of three (3!!) robocalls yesterday! My answering machine was on my apartment window ledge when I got home from work yesterday! It just couldn't take anymore calls from Rice or Strauss or Fenty or Gordon or mysterious calls from a Nevada number that were trashing Mary Cheh without saying who paid for them. That last call ticked me off so much that I decided to vote for Cheh out of sheer principle.

Memo to Rice: You lost me at that infernal Rice-A-Roni song you left on my answering machine! My answering machine now needs therapy as a result!

Mark Plotkin: I think candidates go a little berserk toward the end of the campaign. They get frantic and want to do everything they can to reach you. Some people will say "I don't want to vote for a particular person because I was never asked." So it does cut both ways. The robocall is not the most personal form of communication, but it accomplishes the element of voter contact. Nobody should be voting because of a robocall. All it is is psychic insurance for nervous candidates. I wouldn't vote for somebody just because they didn't robocall me.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Washington Post Poll on Eve of Primary

In Ward 3, nine Democrats are competing to replace Patterson, and education has been the top issue. Front-runner Mary Cheh, a George Washington University lawyer, has key endorsements and a growing reputation for being tough like Patterson.

A recent poll conducted by Greenberg showed Cheh with 27 percent of the vote. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss and Erik Gaull, former special assistant to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, each had 11 percent. Political consultant Sam Brooks and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robert Gordon each had 10 percent.

Final Ward 3 Forum

There will be one final candidates forum for Ward 3 Council candidates on Sunday, September 10 at 7 pm at the Sibley Hospital Auditorium.

Washington Times reporter Matt Cella will moderate the debate, which is being hosted by ANC 3E. All the candidates have indicated they will be in attendance.

If you have yet to hear the candidates on the issues, this is your last opportunity.

WHO: Ward 3 D.C. Council Candidates
WHAT: Debate/Forum
WHEN: Sunday, September 10, 2006 -- 7 pm to 9 pm
WHERE: Sibley Hospital Auditorium

While all candidates have indicated they will be in attendance, the lateness of the scheduling of this event (it was put together in about a week) makes it very difficult for those candidates who had long standing committments on the books, such as meet and greets, campaign meetings and other events.

By the way, can an ANC sponsor an event like this? A recent discussion on the Tenleytown listserv indicates that such activity as partisan forums, and endorsements may put ANC Commissioners in violation of the Hatch Act ( -- follow the thread for several posts, pro and con).

Even if they are in violation, what is the penalty for volunteer commissioners? This is something that the Special Council's Office will have to determine before the next DC election in 2008.

Friday, September 08, 2006

DC Examiner Weighs in

Harry Jaffe:

In Ward 3, businessman Robert Gordon is not a native, but he’s been here 30 years and sent his kids through Washington schools. That’s enough street cred for me.

Editorial Page:

Ward 3: Eric Goulet

Of the many Democrats running in Ward 3, only Eric Goulet expressed alarm about the city’s financial future. “We’re running the highest per-capita debt of any jurisdiction in the United States during a time of surplus, and I’m very, very concerned about that,” Finance Chairman Jack Evans’ former clerk told The Examiner. District residents better be concerned too; in an economic downturn, the combination could be disastrous.

To prevent another fiscal meltdown, Goulet wants to link residential property tax increases to the inflation rate and limit annual growth of the city’s budget to a sustainable 5 percent. These proposals are not politically sexy, but the council could have prevented the humiliation of the Control Board years ago had it been following such sound advice.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

City Paper Endorsements

Ward 3
Too often during this political season, commentators have talked about an embarrassment of riches in the Ward 3 council race. Bullshit. Voters in the city’s wealthiest ward will find their champion through process of elimination.

Paul Strauss: This man is currently the city’s shadow U.S. senator, an unpaid position responsible for lobbying Capitol Hill for D.C. Statehood. It’s a joke of a position. If Strauss somehow won the Ward 3 race, the elections board would be in the unprecedented position of having to organize a special election for a shadow senator. No way, Paul.

LL is very sad to purge Bill Rice. He has written for the Washington City Paper, and his propensity for gossip is unrivaled among true D.C. political geeks. Rice entered the race after resigning his post as spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Transportation, and as a candidate, he’s adopted the kind of ridiculous bravado he’s mocked in others. His campaign lit stated, “Only Bill Rice can fix the D.C. Schools.” He touted his experience at DDOT by saying that as spokesman he was intimately involved in a turnaround of that agency. Sorry, Bill.

Sam Brooks is a smart and energetic guy. But Brooks’ second run, after moving a few blocks into Ward 3 in January, only proves what worries LL about the young hunk: Brooks is desperate to get elected to something because he wants to get elected to something. Get a job for a few years, Sam.

Erik Gaull failed to sell voters on his long résumé of public-safety bona fides. He joins Rice in the trying-a-little-bit-too-hard-for-his-own-good club. See you during the 2010 election, Erik.

That leaves George Washington University Law School professor Mary Cheh, a smart, fresh face untainted by years of political chicanery. She will undoubtedly be frustrated by all the petty maneuvering on the council. But she’ll also bring the same crusading zeal to the council that Patterson did.

Say “yay” to Cheh.

What a about Robert Gordon, Cathy Wiss and Jonathan Rees?

Washington Post voter guide for Ward 3

The Washington Post has released its voter guide for the Ward 3 Council candidates. There are profiles and brief blurbs about each candidate.

Enjoy, as the race comes down to its final days!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Metro and Ward 3

Progressive Review publisher and former Ward 3 resident Sam Smith postited in a recent blog entry that Metro has actually undermined and exacerbated some of the issues it intended to mitigate.

Given some of the traffic situations (albeit extreme) we are seeing this week on Connecticut Avenue, we as a community have to continue to think about the shape and form of development in the comming years and decades. One group is putting for a new perspective and outlook for the community. Ward 3 Vision is a coalition of Ward 3 residents and civic groups working to ensure that new development coming to our community forward-thinking and beneficial to our area. They recognize that our city and Ward are growing, and that if done right, new development can give Ward 3 residents the community amenities we all desire.

Their vision includes maintaining the quiet, residential neighborhoods just a few blocks away from Wisconsin Avenue while anticipating increased demands for housing, transportation, and parking. They are committed to working with city planners and developers to ensure that new development maximizes walking and public transit, minimizes commuter traffic, and brings much needed amenities to our neighborhood.

Indeed, members of the group have been active in recent weeks, working with various Ward 3 candidates for Council, and helping shape discussion amongst residents about the future of our community, particularly along the Wisconsin Avenue Corridor.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Beware of traffic on September 7th

A recent alert indicates that there will be a closure of 3 lanes on Conn. Ave. on Sept. 7. The notice that was distributed to the Conn. Ave. merchants and signed by Crystal Palmer came from the DC Film Office. The closure is for a premiere for "The Guardian." This premiere will be a benefit for the US Coast Guard. Apparently, the entire day is needed to prep the area, including laying the red carpet and installing pedestrian barriers, and implementing security regulations.

The two lanes that will be open to traffic from 10:30AM to 11PM will have one northbound and one southbound lane throughout this period. Police will be helping with traffic cntrol throughout the day.

Brace yourself, however.

Neighbors of the Washington Cathedral received this notice:

Dear Neighbors, you may have read about the September 7th visit to the Cathedral by former Iranian President Khatami. We expect between one and 2 thousand invited guests to attend the 7:30 p.m. event. The invited guests have been directed to take public transportation, taxicabs or be dropped off at the Cathedral. (For security reasons, the roads of the Close will be closed to traffic beginning in the afternoon.) Here is what we know at this point:

DC MPD has informed us that there will be some road closures around the Cathedral...

Ergo, both Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues will be bottlenecked on September 7th. Combined with the ongoing Reno Road construction and the new Bridge Construction over Klingle Road, it should make for one challenging day.