28 April 2006

WaPo Clearly Does Not Endorse Orange

Between the Home and Garden feature last Thursday and this District section article (also published on 4/20, but somehow overlooked until I sifted through my Bloglines account later that day), it's obvious WaPo doesn't take Orange nearly as seriously as he takes himself. I'm finding it hard not to giggle at the irony; surely Orange thinks the media attention (ANY media attention) will boost the seemingly slim support currently keeping him afloat.

27 April 2006

Spring Book Sale at the Woodridge Library Saturday, April 29th

What: The Friends of the Woodridge Library Spring Book Sale

When: Saturday, April 29th, 2006 from 9:30am to 4pm

Where: Woodridge Library, 1801 Hamlin Street, NE (corner of 18th and Rhode Island Avenue, NE)

About: Find cooking, fiction, self-help, religion, history, romance, biography, children's, books on tape, videos, records, and much more. All proceeds from the sale will benefit the Woodridge Library. For more information, call the library at (202) 541-6226 or e-mail the Friends at woodridgefriends@yahoo.com.

I'll be working the book sale all day - I'd love to see you there!

Woodridge Community Gateway Beautification Saturday, April 29th

What: Clean-up and planting at the Woodridge gateway triangle parks

When: Saturday, April 29th, 2006 from 8am to 12pm

Where: Meet at the triangle park at 8am near Taft Recreation Center at the corner of 20th Street and South Dakota Avenue, NE

Etc.: Wear appropriate clothing and bring your gloves - everything else will be supplied

You Already Knew This...

Housing prices in "transitional" neighborhoods have increased considerably in the past few years. Today's WaPo looks at some changes from 2004 to 2005:

When Connie Maffin bought her Victorian townhouse near Logan Circle 32 years ago, she had no inkling of the transformation that would overtake the neighborhood in the coming decades.

Now friends ask Maffin, who heads the D.C. Real Estate Board and is an associate broker with Coldwell Banker, how she had the foresight to buy in an area where prices have escalated to well over $1 million for similar houses. She says she

But she can tell you about similar transitional neighborhoods that still have "affordable" housing but are on their way up.

"I'm thinking LeDroit Park, Shaw east of Ninth Street, Northeast in Brookland and Michigan Park," she said. "These areas all have good housing stock. There are young people coming in. The neighborhoods are looking better and better."

A median sales price of $412,000 for a single-family house or townhouse in the District last year was $7,000 below median for the entire region, according to a Washington Post analysis of government sales records. But at a median sales price of $365,750, the city's condominiums were among the costliest in the area, although they appreciated at only 12.3 percent last year vs. 28.8 percent for single-family houses and townhouses, according to that analysis.

The median is the midpoint in prices: Half of all homes cost more than the median, and the other half cost less. While some sought-after areas such as Cleveland Park have median prices of more than $1.1 million, many neighborhoods have median prices of less than $400,000. But would-be buyers should be aware: Many lower-priced areas are where real estate values are appreciating most rapidly.

The neighborhoods around the New York Avenue-Florida Avenue-Gallaudet University Metro station on the Red Line have shot up in value. The station, in Zip code 20002, opened in November 2004; that year, the median price of a single-family house or townhouse in that Zip code was $258,000. In 2005, the median was $376,000, a jump of 45.7 percent.

Other neighborhoods that have traditionally been among the city's more affordable have seen similar price spikes. To the north of 20002, Brookland and the rest of Zip code 20017 saw the median house price rise 44.8 percent, from $230,000 to $333,000.

Just to the east of that in Zip code 20018, which reaches to the city's eastern boundary, prices shot up at nearly the same rate, with a median house price of $350,000.

Though I was surprised to see that Woodridge's (20018) median price was higher than Brookland's. When we were looking for a home last spring - with 20/20 hindsight, not the best time to be naïve on the market - we couldn't afford anything in Brookland proper. Out of the 7 (!) houses we bid on, 1 was in Brookland, 1 in Lincoln Park, and 5 in Woodridge, where we are today. And, imho, I don't reccommend anything other than a traditional mortgage, particularly for first-time homebuyers still establishing credit.

25 April 2006

ANC-5A Monthly Meeting Wednesday, April 26th

What: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5A Monthly Meeting

When: Wednesday, April 26th, 2006 at 7pm

Where: Friendship Edison Charter School, 2959 Carlton Avenue, NE

Agenda Includes: Zoning regulations as they relate to renovations (perhaps like the house on 24th and Lawrence?); Woodridge Warriors Youth Organization; Meet new business neighbor Rita's; 4th and 5th District crime reports; Communtiy concerns.

Next ANC-5A monthly communtiy meeting May 24th, 2006

24 April 2006

Friday Afternoon Homicide in the 1600 Block of Rhode Island Avenue, NE

I haven't been able to find out any more than the following MPD news release:

April 21, 2006

Homicide in the 1600 Block of Rhode Island Avenue, NE

On Friday, April 21, 2006, at approximately 3:19 pm, Metropolitan Police were called to the 1600 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NE, for the report of a shooting. Upon arrival police located 18-year-old Brandon Day, of the 1500 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NE, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the body. He was transported to the Washington Hospital Center's MedStar Unit and pronounced dead at 3:48 pm.

The case is currently under investigation by members of the MPDC's Violent Crimes Branch. Anyone who has information regarding this case is asked to call (202) 727-9099.

The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person persons responsible for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia.

Ward 5 Council Candidate Forum TONIGHT, Monday, April 24th

What: Ward 5 Council Candidate Forum

When: Monday, April 24th, 2006 at 7pm

Where: Bertie Backus Middle School, 5171 South Dakota Avenue, NE (between Hamilton and Galloway Streets near the Ft. Totten Metro)

Who: Joe Harris, III; Regina James; Ron Magnus; Bruce Marshall; Miriam Moore; Audrey Ray; Steve Rynecki; Debbie Smith; Carolyn Steptoe; Harry Thomas, Jr.; Frank Wilds; Vera Winfield; Raenelle Zapata

A bit more detail from this week's DC Watch:

Ward 5 Council Candidates Forum, April 24
Hazel Thomas, thomashazelb@aol.com

The Ward 5 Democrats organization will host a Ward 5 council candidates forum on Monday, April 24, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bertie Backus Middle School, 5100 South Dakota Avenue, NE. Backus School is located on South Dakota Avenue between Hamilton and Galloway Streets near the Ft. Totten Metro Station. The program will begin with a brief business meeting and conclude with announcements about upcoming economic development and community projects; however, the focus of the meeting will be the Ward 5 Council candidates forum. The Forum is planned to give Ward 5 residents an opportunity to review the key platform issues of all the candidates competing for the Ward 5 City Council seat. Critical topics to be addressed include: housing, economic development, employment, public safety issues, youth, family, seniors and retiree issues. Each of the candidates will have two minutes to give an opening statement, followed by questions from a media panel, and questions from the audience. The forum will conclude with a closing statement from each candidate.

As of April 19, the persons who have filed their candidacy for Ward 5 Council seat with the DC Board of Elections or the Office of Campaign Finance are: Joe Harris, III, Regina James, Ron Magnus, Bruce Marshall, Miriam Moore, Audrey Ray, Steve Rynecki, Debbie Smith, Carolyn Steptoe, Harry Thomas, Jr., Frank Wilds, Vera Winfield, and Raenelle Zapata.

This is the second in a series of candidate forums hosted by Ward 5 Democrats. On March 27, the organization hosted an audience of 300 at Israel Baptist Church to presentations from the five primary candidates running for mayor. On May 22, the organization will present candidates vying for the At-Large and Council Chairman seats at McKinley Technology School, 4th and T Streets, NE (near the New York and Florida Avenues METRO station, just north of the FEDX office. For more information about the Ward 5 Democrats' Mayoral Forum, contact Anita Bonds, Chair of the Ward 5 Democrats at 492-1199, or Hazel Bland Thomas, Press Officer, at 491-4295.

As usual, I'm unable to make this forum due to an ongoing Monday evening commitment....Please, if you go, send along any observations in the comments. Also note the three Mayoral Candidate forums this week: tonight's hosted by the Crestwood Neighborhood League, tomorrow's hosted by Trinity University; and Wednesday's (while I'm at the ANC-5A monthly meeting - I will make it to one these forums soon!) hosted by Edgewood Terrace.

20 April 2006

If Only Something Rhymed with Orange...

Photo by Lois Raimondo - The Washington Post
I want to believe that Jura Koncius, author of "The House of Orange" in today's WaPo, was snickering while writing "[t]he man whose name is plastered on 10,000 orange-and-blue 'Vincent Orange for Mayor' signs sprouting from utility poles from Anacostia to American University Park has a serious thing for his namesake color." Snickering, that is, about Orange having a thing for his namesake's color, not about plastering the city's utility poles with his campaign posters. The latter just isn't all that funny....

Oh, and then there's the line, "The guy is a walking theme park." Perhaps I'm reading far too much into this, but this clearly isn't just in reference to Orange's affinity to orange, but it also alludes to "his occasionally over-the-top publicity stunts: He has pumped gas to draw attention to its high cost, and he has made a folksy 10-minute biographical video to show at fundraising events. In speeches, he quotes -- and performs -- from the music of James Brown."

Well, you read this Home & Garden piece for yourself and then take a stab at the other Orange coverage in WaPo here and here. Personally, I'd like a bit more substance from the largest paper in the region as we enter the last 4 1/2 months of the mayoral race.

2nd Arrest Made in Connection with Carjacking and Robbery Spree

From the latest update in the WaPo, it looks like the 16-year-old kid arrested at the National Zoo early Tuesday is connected:
Police officials said they also had renewed interest in the 16-year-old District youth arrested after a car chase early Tuesday. The pursuit began about 12:30 a.m. after police spotted another Nissan that had been carjacked just an hour earlier in Northeast Washington.

The youth was caught inside the National Zoo, arrested and charged with unlawful entry. Police said Tuesday afternoon they did not think he was connected to the spate of crimes.

That night, crime scene technicians realized a key seized from the youth belonged to another carjacked vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe stolen in Northeast Washington Monday afternoon, police said.

And there's just nothing better than getting caught in front of a pawnshop tearing the speakers out of a stolen vehicle:

John West was ordered held without bail pending a hearing Friday in D.C. Superior Court. West, of no fixed address, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of a pawnshop on Georgia Avenue NW. He was driving one of the carjacked vehicles, a tan Chevrolet Blazer, police said.

As West tried to rip out one of the speakers in the hopes of selling it to the pawnshop, he was arrested, police said. In West's pocket, investigators found the key to the carjacked vehicle of the off-duty officer, police said.

Video of the carjacking at the Universal Ballet Academy on Harewood Road NE here.

18 April 2006

DC, MD Hit by Carjacking-Robbery Wave

Map By Laris Karklis, The Washington Post - April 18, 2006WaPo article here. Looks like the last, and possibly related, carjacking took place at 24th and Perry Streets NE.

This update was given by Lt. Donald Craig this morning on the MPD-5D listserv (includes additional crimes):

Last night there was a homicide in the 2000 block of 3rd Street N.E. The decedant was the target and we made an arrest for Carrying a Pistol Without a License. The case should be closed out rather quickly on the homicide charge.

Then we had an Armed Carjacking at 24th and Perry Place N.E. About an hour later the vehicle was spotted at 4th and Franklin Street and fled from our officers. The stayed with the car until the suspects bailed out in the Third District. One arrest was made but the other suspect(s) got away. We are checking to see if they are related to the robberies and carjackings that occurred yesterday.

Then there was an attempted robbery in the 3100 block of Rhode Island Avenue N.E. The complainant was shot and then drove himself to the hospital. If anyone has any information about this please send Lieutenant Hughes an e-mail.

Finally Officers Oden and Hinton answered a call for a Theft from Auto at 123 W Street N.W. They caught the subject in the act and tried to arrest him but he resisted. During the struggle Officer Hinton was injured (nothing too serious though). They finally were able to handcuff him. He was charged with Assaulting a Police Officer and First Degree Theft.

Updates: The article now has more details (it's grown from 1 page to 2), and a new graphic of the crime spree is here. MPD's press release is here.

17 April 2006

DCPL Events Saturday, April 22nd: "Fix It Up" Campaign and Town Hall Meeting on the Mayor's Proposal for a New Central Library

Please, if at all possible, attend the townhall meeting this coming Saturday, April 22nd, at 1pm. The letter below, sent to neighborhood Friends of the Libraries (I belong to the Friends of the Woodridge Library), outlines the many concerns of community members. Whether or not you were able to attend one of the "Listening Sessions" earlier this year, I urge you to make your voice heard this weekend (it looks like you should call in advance if you plan on providing testimony; I hope there is some time carved out for open comments/discussion...).

I am a bit dismayed at the timing - this weeked the Woodridge, Capitol View, Francis A. Gregory, and Chevy Chase branches are closed on Saturday (Earth Day!) for a "Fix It Up" campaign from 9am - 2pm. We still need volunteers (and a working elevator at Woodridge, but I digress), yet it is imperative that the community continues to give input into the future of DCPL. Please come out early to volunteer for a few hours and then make your way downtown in time for the meeting. There's very little we can get done at the branches in just 5 hours with a handful of people, and I guarantee you that the Mayor, the Council, and the DCPL Board of Trustees can't be held responsible for their decisions if we aren't there to tell them what we expect for the future of DCPL.

Note: All emphasis below is mine.
Friends –

I wanted to alert you to an emerging issue surrounding the potential disposition of the main DC Public library, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G Street, NW. Councilmember Kathy Patterson has scheduled a "Town Hall Meeting" on the specific provisions of the Mayor's legislation for this Saturday, April 22 at 1:00 pm in the main hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

Mayor Williams has inserted language into the Budget Support Act of 2007 that would allow the current home of the main DC Public Library to be leased to a private entity for 99 years. A relocation of the main library is currently proposed somewhere on the Old Convention Center site some two blocks form the current building. The Mayor's legislation goes on to grant the Mayor or his designee powers to negotiate both PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) and TIFs (taxes in lieu of financing) as well as issue bonds to finance the construction. All funds are directed to go into or come out of a Library Development Trust Fund that was established in a January 2006 law, the Library Enhancement, Assessment and Development Act (LEAD Act).

As the President of the Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library, I am concerned by both the lack of public involvement and the lack of clarity regarding the final product and how it will serve the residents of the District of Columbia. The Board of Library Trustees has never discussed any of these specifics in public session and they have passed no resolution in the last two years beyond a general "sense of the board" that they would support a relocation of the main library.

The Councilmember has scheduled this hearing during a Council recess in order to give the public a chance to comment on the proposal before the District budget is considered by the Council's Committee of the Whole in early May. One hearing on the Budget Support Act was already held (Tuesday, April 11) and the Mayor brought in Directors from two library systems (Brooklyn and Salt Lake City) to testify. There was no testimony from the public at that time because the specifics of the Act had not been brought to the attention of Councilmember Patterson (Chair of the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation), the Board of Library Trustees, or the Friends of the Library.

Whatever your personal opinion about the current home of the main library, I hope that you will consider joining me in speaking out at the town hall meeting this Saturday. The Council and the residents of the District of Columbia need to hear clearly that citizen involvement is not a hurdle but a tool for achieving real progress. The main library of the District of Columbia should not be a political football, tossed between politicians, developers, and bureaucrats. The residents of the District of Columbia deserve a living memorial to Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A living memorial dedicated to improving the lives of every resident of the District of Columbia and supporting their dreams while improving their reality.

If you would like to provide testimony at the hearing, please contact the Council Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation at 202-724-8195. I hope to see you at the Town Hall Meeting this Saturday, April 22, 2006 at 1:00 pm in the lobby of the MLK Library, 901 G Street, NW.

Richard Huffine, President
Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library

ANC-5C Monthly Meeting Tuesday, April 18th

What: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C Monthly Meeting

When: Tuesday, April 18th, 2006, 7:00 - 9:00pm

Where: Archbishop Carroll High School, 4300 Harewood Road, NE

Invited Guests: Tom Carroll - Holland + Knight; Topher Cushman - Macy Development; Eric Welp - Shaw Eco Village; Dr. Bi Tazong - Washington Hospital Center; MPD-5D

Agenda: PDF posted here

12 April 2006

Orange Attempts to Script Ward 5 ANCs at Tonight's State of the Ward Convention and Address

From The Washington Post's "DC Wire" blog:

Will Ward 5 ANCs Erase The Script?

D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) wanted the ward's Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners to join him during his State of the Ward address today.

So Orange's office announced that he plans to do a roll call of the ANCs during the "convention and address," where Orange and the commissioners will talk about the ward's past improvements and future steps.

To make sure that the council member and the commissioners would be on the same page, Orange's office sent them "scripts" to read.

There is only one problem: some of the commissioners don't want to read them. They don't like the idea of Orange telling them what to say. After eight years on the council, a few commissioners rhetorically asked why Orange now wants the ANCs to tout the ward's accomplishments on his political stage.

"I was infuriated that my intelligence had been insulted ... that someone would have the nerve to write a script for us to deliver," said Mary Currie, one of the outspoken commissioners. "It would have been a lot more personalized if Mr. Orange had called the ANCs and talked to people. There was no personal touch. It was 'Just do this' like we're on his payroll."

We won't know whether they'll read the scripts or erase Orange's plan until today's program, which will be held at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, 610 Rhode Island Ave NE at 6 p.m.

Also of interest: "April is Vincent B. Orange Sr. Month!"

11 April 2006

Ward 5 Convention and State of the Ward Address Wednesday, April 12th

(from the Eckington Listserv)


6:00PM - 9:00PM



Sponsored by the Office of Councilmember Vincent Orange, Ward 5

I learned about this too late and won't be able to make it, but I'd love to hear comments and feedback from those who do attend.

BAWA Poetry Reading Wednesday, April 12th

What: Brookland Area Writers & Artisits National Poetry Reading Month Poetry Reading. Michael Gushue, Dan Vera, Sue Scheid and other memebers of BAWA will be reading poems by Brooklanders such as Sterling Brown, poets who have lived in DC, poets celebrating National Poetry Month, as well as their own work. There will also be time for open mic readings as time permits

When: Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 at 6pm

Where: Woodridge Library, 1801 Hamlin Street, NE (at the corner of 18th and Rhode Island Avenue, NE), 202.541.6226

07 April 2006

Woodridge Coalition of Concerned Neighbors Meeting Monday, April 10th

What: Woodridge Coalition of Concerned Neighbors Meeting

When: Monday, April 10th, 2006, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Where: Woodridge Library, 18th and Rhode Island Avenue, NE (202.541.6226)

Special Guests: Marie Johns - Candidate for Mayor; Regina James - Candidate for Ward 5 Council; Carolyn Graham - Candidate for Chair of the Board of Education; James Berry - ANC Assembly; Public Safety Update - MPD-5D

* The Coalition of Concerned Neighbors will be hosting the first annual DC ANC Citizen Conference to be held at McKinley Technology High School Saturday, May 6th, 2006, from 8am - 2pm (this event has been postponed - I'll post new info when it's available). If you would like to volunteer, sponsor, or support this endeavor, please call Ms. Lloyd at 202.903.6197 or Janae Grant at 202.365.8303.

The coalition of Concerned Neighbors meeting is held on the second Monday of every month.

Brookland Civic Association and ANC-5A SMD-06 Community Meeting Tuesday, April 11th

What: Brookland Civic Association and ANC-5A SMD-06 Community Meeting

When: Tuesday, April 11th, 2006, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Where: Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michighan Avenue, NE

Agenda: Includes CSX-Toxic Train Update; MPD-5D Update with invited guests Commander Green, Captain Taylor, and Lieutenant Stroud; Newton Theatre (CVS) Landmark Nomination Presentation by John Freely; Ward 5 Neighborhood Planning Coordinator Debra Crain

Next meeting is Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

For additional information contact Mary Baird Currie at 202.635.1970

06 April 2006

ANC-5B Monthly Meeting Thursday, April 6th (Today)

What: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B Monthly Meeting

When: Thursday, April 6th, 2006 at 7:30pm

Where: Washington Center for Aging Services, 2601 18th Street, NE

Agenda: According to the Brookland Heartbeat newsletter, the guests include the developer of the 13th & Rhode Island Avenue site. I'd love an update on this from anyone who attends.

04 April 2006

Still Here....

There's nothing like a kick-ass case of the flu to knock the momentum out of everything you've been working on....Before the virus I was deftly (imho) juggling a number of "extracurricular" activities, including this blog, attending community meetings, taking Shambhala Buddhism classes, working on improv 2-3 days/evenings a week, volunteering for WIT, washing the dishes every so often, etc. Getting sick just showed me how close to the edge I was. At any rate, I'm getting back on track, and I wanted to let any readers still out there know.

Also, I know I've mentioned it before, but I feel my absence requires me to say it again: I want this blog to be useful to the Ward 5 community and DC as a whole. Please send me any links, news, updates, etc. that will help further this mission.