Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ward 7 Town Hall through my eyes

(Photo courtesy of DCist)
Miss V thought she was being slick by arriving 30 minutes earlier. Boy was I wrong. The parking lot was packed and I ended up parking on O Street. As I was walked in, my first mission was to find a church fan. Something in my soul told me that it was going to end up being hot in the church. Despite a sleeveless shirt AND a church fan, I was roasting. But enough about me.

The Town Hall brought out all the politicos. Of course CM Alexander was one of the first to arrive as the host Ward CM. I know I'm tough on the CM, but I will give her props for one of the best lines of the night. "We must use our political power to move Ward 7 forward." Vincent Orange sat in the front row. CM Thomas walked in as part of Gray's entourage. CM M. Brown snuck in through the side door. CMs Alexander, Thomas, and M Brown sat on the pulpit. For whatever reason it reminded me of a scene from "Coming to America" (don't ask). I was told CM K. Brown was a no-show, because he was attending the DC Vote banquet. Mike Panetta and his DC Vote peeps were in attendance as well.

Gray started out with a speech about his plans as Mayor. I'll be honest to say I zoned in and out, because he's stated these talking points before. Despite the repetitiveness, I give Gray props for giving a consistent message since the start of his campaign. He spent most of the time talking about education. I don't have kids in the school and I have yet to hear a plan for getting young professionals without kids engaged in the school system, so I tuned out. It's not that I don't care, but my level of care is a lot different than someone with kids. I did retain some highlights:
  • Hillcrest and Palisades connection is model for how we can become One City
  • Many public safety workers don't live in DC. Personally, I think affordable communities such as Fairfax Village are IDEAL places for MPD, EMS, Fire and even teachers. Our community needs more homeowners living in their units (but that is a blog post for another day)
  • 37% of adults in DC are functionally illiterate. With all the improper grammar and mispronunciation of words I heard at the Town Hall, apparently adults can't speak either. I want to take this time to thank my dad for teaching me the "King's English".
Eventually, the Q&A period started. I sincerely hope at future Town Halls some of the questions will be vetted ahead of time. Most of the questions people asked were very personal, which needed to be addressed offline. For example, one young lady was asking about identity theft. Then there were people who gave long soliloquies that had no question or suggestion at the conclusion. A question about the MPD-6D substation was asked and Gray stated he fully supports the substation at its current location. He thinks the City should look into purchasing the building (um... that's what we said).

Someone mentioned a non-profit that does HIV testing and some other things (sorry, I have a short attention span and he was just blabbing) is moving into the 2900 Block of Minnesota Ave SE. In my head I was thinking, "I sure hope he's working with the ANC, because if they catch wind it could be the death of the organization at that location."

During the Town Hall, I tweeted the Gray campaign to request they ask some questions people submitted prior to the Town Hall that are less personal. Soon after my question was read "Let's fast forward to the end of this four year term. What does Ward 7 look like?" Gray responded that he would like to see more restaurants, Skyland and Penn Branch Shopping Centers would be completed, and other developments would be moving forward. "People will feel good about living in Ward 7". Me likes that answer. Whether it happens or not, he at least has a vision for the Ward.

One woman stood up to give Rhee props. She was promptly greeted with "Sit down" followed by booos. The meeting ended with three gentlemen from the local electricians union asking what the City will do to enforce the First Source Agreements to hire DC residents. Gray seems to be committed to ensuring jobs for DC residents.

Well that was the Town Hall through my eyes. Thankfully, Miss V didn't die from heat exhaustion and I wore my sport performance deodorant.


  1. Thanks Veronica! Great recap for those of us that couldn't go!

  2. Hey Ms. V, I ditto your observations. I don't know how they can vet the questions with almost a thousand people in attendance, everyone wanting to put their 2 cents in (lots of hands were raised). I would like to have heard broader questions akin to your tweet. I will be attending the Ward 8 Town Hall next week - it will be interesting seeing a possible contrast. Will you be attending?

  3. Very good observations Ms. V. I arrived at 5:30 and got, I believe, the last parking spot! Rucker, the lady who was booed, is former DPR/Aquatics. She mentioned swimming classes at Deanwood for kids through DCPS! My applause. But she definately didn't think before mentioning the name Rhee in a volatile environment. Not well thought out.

    Poignant points: First Source Agreements for DC residents; illiterate adults; length of detox in DC (2 days); community partnerships using Hillcrest-Palisaides model - what community would you partner with?

    I believe the HIV, sex trade worker, substance abuse business (HOPE) is located at Minnesota & Nelson Place. I'm sure VJ is aware of this place. He lives around the corner.

  4. Only one comment Ms. V and that's that we in our age group were taught the Queen's English. As there is no King of England. Great recap.

  5. Ms. V...
    Great recap... I didn't make it inside the sanctuary and the overflow room was definitely overflowing. The best meeting was the parking lot.

    Ok, I know I am going to get beat up with this question... But, shouldn't the School Board Rep for Ward-7 be concerned about the status of our Ward schools. Her question about jobs in our community was baffling especially when Chairman Gray has talked about jobs over, and over, and over again... When do we talk about remodeling our Ward-7 schools, teaching support programs for our students and teachers in Ward -7, a QUALITITY Parent/Family Resource Center, increasing the graduation rate in Ward-7, A Mentor program in Ward-7 schools.

    When will our elected leadership stand up for us...instead of grandstanding for themselves...


  6. It seems as though you read my mind Ms. V and put it in your blog. I arrived late after playing a flag football game and just went up to the front and sat along the wall on the AC unit. I've heard the Gray speech before and the questions were ridiculous. I won’t go to another town hall unless there’s a process for vetting the questions…, or long statements.

  7. @Carrie... No problem

    @Irv... The ANC 7B meeting is that night, so it will depend what is on the agenda.

    @DC Dolly... Thanks for you comments. I completely forgot about the detox. My mouth dropped with the 2-day detox. I have a cousin who is an addict and was in a 2 month detox program.

    @Anon... Touche'. Speak the "Queen's English"

    @Lisa... Great comments. I couldn't agree more.

    @Boyle... Perhaps if the town halls continue after the elections there will be less retail politics and more getting down to business.