Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nothing like a Toles Cartoon to brighten the day

It's rainy and I'm in a bad mood. However, Tom Toles, cartoonist for the Washington Post, never fails to get a chuckle out of me. Here is today's cartoon.... I remember when Fenty was the Washington Post's goldenbody.... Oh Fenty.... Even the Post has turned on you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How do you feel about PEPCO

I make no bones about the fact that I can't stand PEPCO. They tried to okie doke me last year with my electricity bill. They hit me with a $200 bill. I live in a small condo, keep my heat at 65 degrees in the winter, I unplug all small appliances, and I'm almost never home. I could run ever appliance in my house and not draw that much energy. I received an email from the D.C. Office of the People's Counsel regarding Public Hearings. PEPCO wants to raise your rates.

I will be signing up for the November 19th hearing. Hope to see you there.

Dear Consumers,
The D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel, your ratepayer advocate, is alerting you to Public Hearings scheduled before the D.C. Public Service Commission in Formal Case No. 1076. OPC is seeking your input on PEPCO’s request for a $51.7 million increase in its electric distribution rates. OPC is calling for a $10.4 million decrease in PEPCO’s current rates.

OPC is challenging components of PEPCO’s request for a rate increase because the Company has not provided adequate justification to support its proposed increase.

OPC believes this case raises critical issues utility consumers face now and will face in the future.

For example,
1) PEPCO seeks to shift certain business risks from Company shareholders to consumers with no guarantee that service quality will be improved.
2) PEPCO has failed to adhere to its statutory mandate to provide District consumers safe, adequate and reliable electric service.
3) PEPCO has not detailed how consumers/ratepayer s will be prepared and educated for a wave of future technologies, such as smart meters and the Smart Grid, or how the costs of these new technologies will be allocated.

OPC believes it is important for consumers to understand that this rate increase request is part of a continuing march toward higher electric bills. Residential rates over a five year period have increased by 98 %. For example, in 2004, a residential consumer paid $49.00 for 750kWh per month. Today, the same consumer will pay $97.00 per month even before PEPCO’s requested rates are increased. If PEPCO’s request is approved in its entirety, consumers will pay an additional $6.43 each month.

These are your dollars and your service. It is imperative that you attend at least one of the community hearings and raise your issues and voice your concerns on the public record.
To participate in the hearings, you should sign up in advance by contacting the Commission Secretary at 202-626-5150 by the close of business, at least 3 days before each hearing and ask to be placed on the public witness list.

Persons with special needs are encouraged to call the Public Service Commission in advance to assist with any arrangements to facilitate your participation.

If for any reason you are unable to attend the hearings you may submit your written testimony to be included on the public record to Ms. Dorothy Wideman, Director, Office of the Commission Secretary, DC Public Service Commission, 1333 H St. NW Washington DC, 20010. You may also send your testimony by email to
dwideman@psc. dc.org.

The three community hearings will convene at the following locations on the dates specified below:

Chevy Chase Community Center
5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 12 Noon

Hilcrest Recreation Center
3100 Denver Street, SE
Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 6:30 pm

DC Public Service Commission
1333 H Street NW
Hearing Room 7th Floor East Tower
Friday, November 20, 2009 10:00am

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You abandoned me... Love don't live here anymore

I saw this on D.C. Wire this morning:

A Year Ahead of Election, Fenty Slumps in Ward 7

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who is up for re-election in less than a year, hit Ward 7 Monday evening.

Fenty, who made a name for himself by knocking on doors and literally wearing a hole in his shoe in his first mayoral bid in 2006, is again going door-to-door.

He was spotted in Precinct 106, which had 33 percent voter turnout in the 2006 primary.
On Tuesday night, he is scheduled to speak to the Fort Davis Civic Association, which represents the neighborhood in Ward 7.

Oh Mayor Fenty... NOW you want to come to Ward 7. In his years as Mayor he has hoboed his way to Ward 7 for plenty of ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings, but try to find him any other time... And those ribbon cuttings... most of those projects had their genesis in the Williams Administration, so let's not give him too much credit for the little progress that has been made in Ward 7.

I didn't vote for Fenty last democratic primaries... Why? Well I was having a hard time deciding between Cropp and Fenty. Then I realized, this isn't a hard decision. I got ONE piece of literature from Fenty the entire campaign, while Cropp was blowing up my mailbox almost every week. What that told me is Fenty didn't care about my vote. I tried to give him my love and the benefit of the doubt... but... love don't live here anymore.

I'm still waiting for the all candidates to throw their names in the hat to see who I'm endorsing. I do know that I am in the "Anyone-but-Fenty" camp.

War of the Words

Most of the time the Hillcrest and Ward 7 listservs are people posting things going on in the community. However, every now and then it gets exciting.... Today happened to be one of those days. I blogged several times about the conflict between Old Washingtonians and New Washingtonians. Today's conflict was no different...

It all started on a dark and stormy night... Okay seriously, someone from R.E.E.L. sent an email inviting people to their membership drive event on Thursday. The first email this morning was from a Old Washingtonian asking why a Chicago-based organization was recruiting in DC (side note... River East is a neighborhood in Chicago). A member of R.E.E.L. wrote back give a little information about the organization and the why and hows it was started... it was all downhill from there.

Excerpt from email from Old Washingtonian: "Pardon me if my tone is a spoonful or two short of saccharine, but it is simply incredulous how 15 residents/strangers who did not know each other suddenly felt empowered, after engaging one another in a few meetings, to enlighten the East of the River community at-large on its long-standing ills and pathologies." The email when on for several more sentences and ended with a clever "Class is recessed."

The member of R.E.E.L. (bless her lil' heart) writes back inviting the Old Washingtonian to the meeting to engage with the members of the organization. Then there was another few exchanges between those two.

Another relatively New Washingtonian tried to jump in to help: "We certainly don't want anyone new to get involved or to bring in any new ideas. We who have been here for years doing (or not) the same thing over and over again are doing quite well, thank you. And you will never hear us complain about anything East of the River. The people attracted to REEL are not being engaged at the grip, rewind, grip, rewind... but don't ask me to do anything sessions with ears turned off, the "pick up your NO answer at the door then tell us what you are proposing" and the you have to be born here 40+ years ago to speak attitudes that are the essence of many of the existing groups/meetings here. We need to listen to ourselves sometimes."

Another great quotable email from an Old Washingtonians was this one: "If you were perchance addressing me, my cup runneth over. Perception like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If you saw it as negative, perhaps it was not my tone but the tint in your eyes. I was not and intended not to be negative whatsoever. First off, I offered a disclaimer so that my message would be not blurred. Let me clarify this one thing for you personally, I can care less how long any one has been a resident in our community for sir, it is their DONATION not their DURATION that adds value or liability. Take care, have a wonderful day."

All of this occurred before 9:30 AM... Whew. Everything eventually worked itself out, but it leaves me to believe this conflict isn't going anywhere any time soon. Perhaps Wards 7 and 8 need an old school leader who can bring everyone together. Despite how we feel about "East of the River" or "River East" at the end of the day we are all residents of Wards 7 and 8. From the emails we are all passionate about the place we call home.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The block is hot

I don't know what is going on this week, but Pennsylvania Ave has been jumping with bad accidents. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of sitting in traffic on the portion of Penn Ave from the Sousa Bridge and the Baptist Church (no I don't know street names... I know landmarks). Two cars in the eastbound direction had somehow collided and landed completely in the westbound lanes. There was only one lane open that was shared between both directions of traffic.

Then today I'm coming home and yet again, I had the pleasure of sitting on Penn Ave and Minnesota, due to a car accident. There was only one car, so I'm not exactly sure what happened. The police were literally arriving on the scene as I was going through that area.

Penn Ave is my main drag to and from work, so I have intimate knowledge of every issue and dangerous intersection that exists between the Sousa Bridge and Southern Ave SE. There are three parts of this street that I absolutely hate...

1. The intersection of Penn Ave and Southbound Minnesota Ave
When you are going eastbound, the traffic light at this intersection is outside of your peripheral vision. Your eyes automatically focus on the traffic light at Penn Ave and Northbound Minnesota Ave. It wouldn't be a problem, except for the lights are NOT synchronized. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people run that light, because their eyes are focused on the second light.

2. Pennsylvania Ave between the Exxon on Branch and the Laundromat going Eastbound
I know I mentioned this before, but I really hate this area. At Branch there are three eastbound lanes, then all of a sudden it become two lanes. There is NO warning. No merge signs. NOTHING. Speaking from personal experience, I've had a few heart thumping moments there.

3. I hate the fact that the middle lane switches direction during rush hour
I've seen several head on collisions and several that could have been head on collisions. I have NEVER driven in the middle lane. It just scares me.

I hope the Penn Ave Great Streets improvement project starts sooner rather than later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And speaking of the gays....

I feel like "GAY" is the theme of the week. I just got this email via my neighborhood listserv:

Special Board Meeting on the Proposed Initiative, Marriage Initiative of 2009

The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics announces that there will be a Special Board Meeting on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 10:00 AM. The hearing is to determine whether the proposed initiative measure entitled "Marriage Initiative of 2009" is a proper subject for an initiative in the District of Columbia. The hearing will be held in the Old Council Chambers, first floor of the One Judiciary Square building at 441 Fourth Street, N.W. Seating will be limited. For more information, the public may call 202-727-2525 (TDD: 202-638-8916) .

I know this is off topic from Life in Fairfax Village, but it's a DC issue and darn it I 'm a DC resident who pays DC taxes. Not to mention it's my blog and I'll do what I want, but I digress. The long and short of the proposal is to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Let me preface this discussion with, I am a heterosexual Christian woman. Now... if you can bare with, I will make sense (perhaps too much sense for some).
But the Bible says....
Now I've seen people say the Bible says this about gays and that about gays. Many of the verses people reference are subject to interpretation. However, the one thing the Bible is VERY clear about is divorce. In Malachi 2:16 , God says "I hate divorce". I mean can it get any clearer. (bet you didn't think you would get a little Bible lesson on my blog)... Yet these ministers don't call divorce an abomination or an infringement on their religious beliefs. I don't recall seeing any initiatives to prohibit divorce... I'm just saying.... Moving on.
Miss V's Position
Before I give you my solution, here's how I feel... Nowhere in the Bible does God say "use the Word to judge your neighbors." God gave two commandments to hang all the laws of the prophets and those are: 1) worship no God but me and 2) love one another as I have loved you. Therefore, if two men and two women want to spend the rest of their lives together and that makes them happy, it's none of my darn business. I have enough of my plate to worry about. I do think there should be a separation of Church and State.
Miss V's Solutions
With that being said... we are really dealing with two separate realms: the spiritual realm and the civic realm. If we are saying that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman then let that exist in the spiritual realm. Therefore, anyone who's wedding is presided by an officiant of a religious institution ,then you can call it a "marriage".
In the civic realm EVERYONE (man and man, woman and woman, man and woman) who enters into a legal agreement under "State" (yes I know DC isn't a State... yesh) law has entered into a "Civil Union."
How does this work?
Let's say Boris Kodjoe (don't hate) and I decide to spend the rest of our lives together and we are residents of DC. The District would recognize our "Civil Union" then we would go to whatever church, temple, mosque to get married. If John and Ted want to spend the rest of their lives together, then the "District" would recognize their "Civil Union" and the religious institutions can decide whether they want to perform a marriage ceremony.
Why my solution is brilliant?
It satisfies everyone... 1) It doesn't impose on anybody's religious beliefs, 2) Same sex couples would receive all the legal benefits (not to mention relationship headaches) of heterosexual couples, 3) DC can tax them as a married couple (more money... woooo whoooo), and 4) I said it... hehehe.
So that's where I stand....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's in your neighborhood?

I just got this email through the Hillcrest listserv

Hello Hillcrest,
I just wanted to pass on the news that Curtis Christopher Robinson, Tuskegee Airman and Hillcrest resident ,died at the age of 90 on October 12th. Some of us met him in 2006 through his neighbor George Norfleet who was helping him promote his book, "A Pilot's Journey". Mr. Robinson agreed to put his yard on the garden tour that year, and several neighbors worked with him to get his gardens ready.

Mr. Norfleet asked me to pass on the news of Mr. Robinson's death, along with his obituary with funeral arrangements. See http://www.hillcrestdc.com/docs/obituary-robinson.pdf

In my hometown in NJ, there was a Tuskegee Airman who went to my church. He and I sat and talked for hours about being an airman and the desire to fly. I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. I sat in awe. I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Robinson, but reading his obituary, he seemed like a remarkable man. I will be ordering my copy of Mr. Norfleet's book. THIS is the type of history that I get excited about. It would be nice if the media would do spotlights on living legends in DC.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can we stop worrying about the gays and get our own mess together???

Between the Black ministers tirade against the D.C. Council passing legislation to recognize gay marriage performed in other jurisdictions and the backlash against President Obama’s stance on the military “don’t ask, don’ tell policy” it has me wondering if we are focusing on the wrong things in life. (Side note: I have a solution to gay marriage, but that is a post for another day.) There is this fear that if we let Tom and John get married that it will threaten marriage and the definition of family. (On no gloom and doom). I am particularly disappointed in the Black ministers…

Newsflash the black family structure is beyond threatened. It’s darn near non-existent. What is the world coming to when a young black kid who was raised in a two-parent household is the exception to the rule as opposed to the norm???

Looking at the statistics for Ward 7 and Ward 8…. According to the DC Ward profile, Wards 7 and 8 have the highest number of baby mamas. In 2000, the percent of female headed households with children in Ward 7 was 67% and Ward 8 was 68%, compared to Wards 1, 2, and 3, which were 46%, 34%, and 12%, respectively. I hate to say it, but I doubt the 2010 census will show improvement in this statistic. To throw more salt on this lack of black family wound, the percent of births to teen mothers in 2006 was also highest in Wards 7 and 8, 20% and 18%, respectively.

So let’s us stop and enjoy this WTF moment…. Why are we worried about gays getting married, when we have more black children are being raised by babymamas or grandmamas than in a family with two parents. Where are these Black ministers when another black baby is born to an unwed mother? Where is the outrage when a black child doesn’t know who their dad is? I mean yesh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What about me???

Before I get too deep into my thoughts, I want to start by saying I'm bitter. I feel left out. Forgotten. Unimportant... I can't think of any other adjectives to describe what I'm feeling. Why all the dramatics? Well 2010 is quickly approaching... So what? Well that means the 2010 Census forms will be mailed out in February and March. That's less than 4 months away and I haven't heard boo from the DC government about efforts in Wards 7 and 8 to make sure everyone is counted.

Maybe I'm too needy... Maybe I'm being a little selfish expecting a special focus on Wards 7 and 8. There is push from the Office of Latino Affairs to outreach to the Latino/Hispanic community. But Wards 7 and 8 are largely African American residents. Who is outreaching to us? In the jurisdiction that I work in, we started our outreach to all minority communities back in April of this year.

My big concern is the importance of the Census is NOT being communicated to the residents of DC. Why is the Census important? Well on a larger scale it determines Federal funding, political redistricting, and all that good stuff. BUT why this is soooooooooo critical to Wards 7 and 8 and why am I so frustrated? For the next 10 years, the 2010 Census will serve as the basis for demographics for our area. Demographics that will be used by real estate brokers and developers to determine which businesses to court for our area.

I have seen the current demographics for the my neighborhood cluster, I do not think it represents who lives here today. I predict the 2010 Census will show a higher median income (which is going to be crucial for attracting higher end businesses), lower percentage of adults without a high school diploma, AND I think it is going to show a high population in the 25-34 age demographic.

Is SOMEONE going to step up and spread the word? Bueller, anyone, Buller? (reference from Ferris Bueller's Day Off... in case you missed it)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Experience Fredrick Douglas Performance and Reception

I really want to go to this event, but I have to be at the Planning Commission meeting for my project. If you attend, please email me to know how it was.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Let the reign begin

Today is my first official day as President of the Fairfax Village IV board. The Vice President is also a woman. Women Unite!!! In all seriousness, we have some work to do. As an urban planner (I think I say that too much, but whatevs... it's my blog and I'll do what I want), I'm used to analyzing the existing conditions (Point A), visualizing the future (Point B) and figuring out a plan to get from Point A to Point B.

On my to do list for this weekend is to figure out where we are financially, in addition to thoroughly reading the by-laws. As a community, I want us to identify all of our major problems (their is a careful art to this... don't want to open Pandora's box). Then work collaboratively with the property managers, homeowners, and board to develop solutions and develop a 5 year strategic plan.

One of my motivations for running for the board is I'm a firm believer that if you want to see change then you need to get a little dirty. I hope that we will be able to improve the quality of life for all residents.