Sunday, January 31, 2010

How low can you go???


The Washington Post (aka Wapo) had an article in today's paper on Mayor Fenty's rapidly dropping approval ratings. I can't say that the results are shocking. Congress Heights on the Rise conducted an informal poll last week that yielded similar results. I make no bones about the fact that I'm in the Anybody-but-Fenty camp.

My reason for not liking Fenty is a very simple one.... Let's say I overlook his selection of Michele Rhee as the School Chancellor, who I'm embarrassed to say is a fellow Cornell Alum **shaking my head**. Let's say I pretend that he isn't careful in selecting the company of people he keeps **raises brow**. Let's say I ignore the fact that he is out of touch with what the real issues in my neighborhood. Let's say I even put behind the ongoing power struggle between the Mayor and the Council.... there is still one reason above all others that is the root of all my issues with the Mayor.

My biggest issue with Major Fenty is his lack of humility. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) says "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Mayor Fenty has run this City with disregard to the people that elected him and with disregard to the Council the people elected to represent them. His arrogance has led to in-fighting in the City's Executive Branch of government. National's Tickets??? Really???

As a leader, there are times when you have to make unpopular decisions. The difference between a good leader and Mayor Fenty is a good leader will justify why they felt that was the best decision where Mayor Fenty feels an explanation isn't needed. Mayor Fenty's standard answer is "I don't have to answer that" (believe me he's said it enough, that I mute the TV when it's time for Fenty on FOX). A Mayor that isn't accountable to the people?

I encourage the Mayor to search his soul and have a large helping of humble pie between now and the primaries. A great quote by C.S. Lewis, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Miss V Alert: Do NOT drive right now

I was at Councilmember Alexander's Leadership Council Meeting this morning. I was driving back home around noon I can tell you the roads are SLICK. To preface, I know how to drive in the snow. I grew up in New Jersey and I went to school for 2.5 years in Upstate New York. Even with all my driving experience, I was struggling to maintain control of the car. This powder snow is great for skiing, but I would argue the most dangerous to drive in. If you do not need to drive, I recommend staying where you are.

On a side note, two snaps for DDOT. They plowed and salted both Fort Davis and V streets around 1pm!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Happenings...

Saturday, January 30, 2010
FLY Bake Sale
12:00 - 3:00 PM
2021 MLK Ave SE
For more information: Click here

Saturday, February 6, 2010
Hillcrest Community Civic Association Meeting
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Hillcrest Recreation Center
3200 Denver St SE

Sunday, February 7, 2010
East of the River: Continuity and Change
Presented by the Historical Society of DC and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
1:30pm to 3:30pm
801 K Street NW

RSVP at 202.383.1828 or By email: rsvp@historydc. org

Monday, February 8, 2010
Public Hearing on "Bill 18-549, Community Impact Statement Amendment Act of 2009"
DC Council Committee on Public Safety and Judiciary
10:30 AM
John A. Wilson Building, Room 412

To testify contact: Ms. Lisa Abrams, Legislative Counsel or Ms. Deborah Kelly, Legislative Clerk, at (202) 724-7808, by fax at (202) 724-6664, or via e-mail at Dkelly@dccouncil.us

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Red-headed Step Child of Hillcrest

For the record, Fairfax Village is within the legal boundary of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association. Hence and therefore we ARE part of the Hillcrest community. We are a neighborhood within a neighborhood. For some reason we are the unmentioned part of Hillcrest.

Every few years there is an article on the Hillcrest neighborhood. Mainly because we have beautiful homes that mimic anything seen in Cleveland Park. Not to mention all three Councilmembers that live in Ward 7 live here. Two things are always consistent about the articles... 1) come see this place in the east with the beautiful homes and 2) Hillcrest is the neighborhood to live in (in so many words).

Yesterday the Washington Examiner had an article entitled "Hillcrest on the Rise". First and foremost Hillcrest never fell to have to "rise" again. BUT more importantly no mention of Fairfax Village. The author describes Hillcrest as "Located roughly between Pennsylvania Avenue, Southern Avenue and Naylor Road, the neighborhood is a collection of single-family homes with large lawns, soaring trees and friendly people."

Now if you know your geography then you know that Fairfax Village is the part of Hillcrest that touches Pennsylvania Ave and Southern Ave. Yet, he specifically states it is a collections of single family homes. ***Sigh*** What about Fairfax Village??? We are garden-style 1940 condominiums. As a matter of fact I think we are the only medium density development in Hillcrest (I need to fact check that). Naylor Gardens is the other medium-density development in Hillcrest.

I'm writing a letter to the author.... ***pouts***

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Buses, and Bills, and Bait.... OH MY

Oh what a day what a day. Today I attended and testified at the DC Council Committee hearing on on Bill 18-592 District Facilities Plan Amendment Act of 2009. Before I go into my summary of the hearing, let me start by saying that WMATA is HORRIBLE!!! The M6 used to be the most reliable bus that services Fairfax Village. This morning the 8:53 am bus showed up at 9:15 am. This afternoon going home the 2:40 and 3:00 pm buses never showed up. I guess their new bus schedule is "we'll pick you up when we feel like it."... On to the hearing.

Very interesting hearing the morning. There were about 14 witnesses that spoke on behalf of organizations or as individuals. The general consensus was there is a need for transparency and inclusion in the process, there needs to be a clear definition of the role of the Facilities Planning Advisory Committee, and the needs of the community need to be in balance with each other and future development. All good stuff.

The highlight of the hearing was three speakers who just threw down the gauntlet and went no holds barred. The first one was a public witness who started off describing how he's lived all over the world. I wasn't sure where he was going... and then... he.... went there... He basically said the District is the worst managed government he's ever seen. It's full of corruption and cronyism. The District government gives a false sense of participation and then deals are made behind close doors. The part that had me almost falling off my chair is when he ended with "Do you manage your life like this? Do you manage your money like this? Just give it away? Then why do you do this with public money."

Another was this woman who had just came from playing Sharks and Minnows with fifth graders. She drew the analogy that the Sharks are the developers and the public are the minnows. The poor little minnows are left to fend for themselves, while the sharks do what they want.

The one that had me gasping for air and Councilmember Cheh ready to blow a gasket, was Parisa Norouzi from Empower DC. She asked CM Cheh very pointed questions. The long and short is she asked who was in bed with the Council (metaphorically speaking). She made a great observation that no developers were in the room then asked CM Cheh was she having private meetings with them. Then she brought up the revolving door of District employees going to developers and developers becoming District employees and the conflict of interest related to deals involving those people. CM Cheh responded with she's not going to rise to the bait.

The hearing ended with the Director of Real Estate Services giving her testimony. I was unimpressed. Now I just need to gear up and get ready for the next round.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Giving my expert testimony tomorrow

Tomorrow the DC Council Committee on Government Operations and the Environment is holding a hearing on Bill 18-0592 District Facilities Plan Amendment Act of 2009. It is NO SECRET that District-owned land is being given away to private developers. As my mama always says, "It's better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it." While we are giving away property were are spending approximately $140 million annual in leasing space for DC government agencies. ***shaking my head***

Needless to say yours truly, who has over seven years of planning experience, will be providing testimony as a public witness tomorrow. I wanted to share my written testimony. I'm limited to 3 minutes, so my actual oral testimony will be truncated.

***********************************************************************************

My name is Miss V. I am a Partner/Principal Planner at Nspiregreen, LLC and a proud resident of Ward 7. I would like to thank Councilmember Chen and the honorable Committee members of the Committee on Government Operations and Environment for the opportunity to speak this morning on Bill 18-0592, the District Facilities Plan Amendment Act of 2009.

I commend the Committee for having the foresight and leadership to consider this bill. The Committee has shown clear understanding of the importance of asset management of public facilities. I fully support the creation of a District Facilities Plan. My testimony will focus on six key recommendations that I am presenting for consideration.

Recommendation 1 – Inclusion of the definition and purpose of the District Facilities Plan
The bill should clearly define what the plan is and how it should be utilized. The plan should be a comprehensive assessment of all District owned-facilities and properties, which includes a strategic plan for future use. The purpose of the plan should be to assist the District with strategically investing in the maintenance, use, expansion and upgrading of public facilities.

Recommendation 2 – The development of the initial plan should be an interagency planning effort
As the bill is currently written, Section 3b part (a) departments and agencies notify the Department of Real Estate Services of their facility needs including types and general locations. Then in Section 3b part (e), the Department of Real Estate Services is to conduct a study of the proposed facilities, which includes location and feasibility of costs. As this is a planning document, I recommend that the Department of Real Estate Services and Office of Planning jointly lead in the development of the initial plan. In addition, I recommend that an interagency working group be formed to ensure that as we look to the future we consider ways to collocate uses across multiple agencies.


Recommendation 3 – The District Facilities Plan should be a comprehensive and strategic long-term plan
While Section 3b part (c) infers the plan should be identify short and long-term needs, the bill should clearly define short and long-term. I recommend that long-term be defined as 20-years, which is consistent with the timeframe for the District’s Comprehensive Plan. I recommend short-term be defined as 5-years, which is consistent with the District’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Recommendation 4 – The District Facilities Plan should guide and inform the District’s Annual Operating Budget and Capital Plan
The District’s Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) is designed to help the City strategically plan for short-term capital improvements such as City utilities, transportation infrastructure, facilities, and open space. The CIP includes projected funding for the next five years across all agencies. Rather than create a separate process, the District Facilities Plan should lay the groundwork for any facility project proposed for the CIP. I recommend the Bill include language that outlines the connection between the District Facilities Plan and the District’s CIP.

Recommendation 5 – The District Facilities Plan should include opportunities for other uses of District-owned facilities
Section 3b part (c) outlines the components of the District Facilities Plan. I encourage the Committee to consider including in the plan opportunities for other uses of District-owned facilities that provide a re-occurring financial benefit to the City. For example, the City could transform an unused school building into a small business incubator and charge for office space. Another example is leasing space to non-profits and other community groups to enable them to carry out their missions. This provides an income stream to the City, while providing an opportunity for organizations to thrive.

Recommendation 6 – The process used to create the District Facilities Plan should be transparent and inclusive
As the bill is currently written, there is a provision for at least one public hearing during the bi-annual revision. I recommend that bill include provisions for a transparent process and public outreach during the development of the initial District Facilities Plan. Comparable to the process used for the development of the District’s Comprehensive Master Plan, there would be at least three strategically- located community meetings, in addition to a public hearing after the release of the Draft District Facilities Plan.

The bill mentions a District Facilities Planning Advisory Committee. I recommend the bill provide a definition of the committee’s purpose and composition.

In closing, this bill is a step in the right direction. In this economic climate, now is the time to think about the long-term sustainability of government functions. Before any more District property is sold to private development, we need to ensure that we can meet the needs of the future residents of the District. Thank you for your time.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

National Marathon: Good or Bad for SE?

The National Marathon is scheduled for March 20, 2010 and for the last two days my neighborhood listserv has been a buzz over whether the National Marathon is good or bad for SE. As someone who lives off Pennsylvania Ave, I can personally attest to being trapped on race day. Traffic on Penn Ave can back up all the way into Suitland, MD. SE is towards the end of the race, so Pennsylvania Ave is closed at Minnesota Ave from 8 something in the morning until almost 2 PM. For those of you that aren't familiar with this part of town, it basically means our access to 295 and Southeast/Southwest Freeway is cut off. To get to the other side of the river, you have to hobo your way down Good Hope Road.

Without bogging you down in the detailed (and at some moments comical) discussion, below are the basic arguments

Arguments for the Race is Good:
  • Brings visibility to Ward 7
  • Provides Ward 7 residents with an opportunity to see the marathon
  • Opportunity for Ward 7 business to make money (raises brow on this one)
  • Fosters Community

Arguments for the Race is Bad:

  • Cuts off access for Ward 7 residents
  • Some Metro Bus services are suspended, which makes it difficult for public transportation dependent residents to get around
  • Residents can't park on the street in an area where parking is already limited

I personally don't think the arguments on either side are pretty strong. One solution that was proposed was to alternate the location of the starting point. Because we are at the end of the race, we have the longest road closure (up to 4 hours). Where the roads towards the start of the race are only closed for an hour or two.

Although it is a pain in the butt for one day, I'm just honored that we are even on the route.

Chaos and Disorder??

In the three short months that I have been President of Fairfax Village IV HOA, I have dealt with more drama than a season of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Part of the issue is that we are too tribal over here. I know I mentioned this before, but we have seven HOAs under one Community Association. Did you miss that??? That means seven HOA boards... One Community Association Board. TRIBAL. My board is the only full HOA board. The CA hasn't had quorum at a meeting in months.

The President of the Community Association resigned today. Most people keep it simple. Not our little melodramatic President (ahem... former President). No need to get in the nitty gritty of the letter, but let's just say there was name calling, mentions of conspiracies, a review of her accomplishments as President, and ends with a warning not to listen to unqualified people. ***shaking my head***

The Community Association is in shambles (okay maybe now I'm be dramatic...). In all seriousness, we need to rebuild the organization. I can't reveal my hand, but there will be more surprises in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home Base

Remember back in the day when you actually had time to play (being an adult is overrated)??? Be it tag, manhunt, or capture the flag, one thing remained consistent, Home Base. As long as you had some part of your body on whatever tree or boulder that was designated Home Base, no one could touch you. You were safe.

Last night I had dinner at Matchbox in Barracks Row. In the half-mile stretch on Pennsylvania Ave SE between 8th St SE and the Sousa Bridge I was met with two separate incidents involving MPD. The first one police were just swarming to the scene as I made my turn on Pennsylvania Ave from 8th St. Six MPD cars pulled over one beat-up little vehicle that had one occupant. They had the driver of the vehicle standing behind it handcuffed. I don't know what he did, but to warrant SIX MPD cars at 10 o'clock at night, he must have done something serious. No worries for him though. I'm sure the D.C. Justice System had him back on the street before I could even publish this post (shaking my head)... But I digress.

The second incident was about three block east from the first incident. This one had five MPD and caution tape around a corner store. According the police alert I got on my Blackberry, there was a robbery hold-up on 15th St SE. Seven black men attempted to either rob or carjack an Asian couple around 9 PM. It was about 10 PM when I drove through the area, so I assume MPD was conducting their investigation.

Needless to say with all this police activity, I was soooo happy to get my hindparts back on the east side of the river to PSA 606 where it's safe. According to MPD, PSA 606 is one of the safest PSA (if not THE safest) in the District.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Big Chair Coffee!!!

I finally made it to Big Chair Coffee in Ward 8. I LOVE IT!!!! Granted I wish it was walking distance from my house, it's only a 5 minute drive from Fairfax Village and there was ample parking on the weekend at least. During the work rush hour, the V5 bus will get me within a block. All other times I believe I can take the W4 to the 92 or 90 bus.

I met the Ward 8 River East bloggers (Congress Heights On the Rise, Barry Farm (re)mixed, and And Now Anacostia) for coffee, breakfast, and discussion about an idea we are working on (shhh it's a secret).

Big Chair is small, but quaint. The manager is super friendly. He addressed me by my first name the entire time I was there. This place has the makings of being the SE version of CHEERS. I think I overdosed on mochas (photo above)!!! For breakfast I had the steak omelet with hashbrown and toast. Hashbrowns were undercooked, but The Advoc8te and Urban Architect are determined to work with the owners on making perfect hashbrowns.

Given I'm now self-employed, I can definitely see myself working in Big Chair once or twice a week. Here's my review on yelp.com http://www.yelp.com/biz/big-chair-coffee-washington


2122 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE
(202) 492-8608
Open 7 days a week, 7am - 7pm

Thursday, January 14, 2010

East of the River Cares...


I want to thank my parents for instilling the importance of charity and goodwill. I'm thankful I don't know what it's like to be hungry or homeless. I find that the more I extend a hand to others the more God blesses me to give more to others. Despite my pitbull in a shirt aggressiveness, Miss V is extremely sensitive to the plight of those that are unable to help themselves.... now those than can help themselves and don't I give the side-eye. But I digress...

By now I'm sure you are experiencing Haiti overload. One of my friends (shown in the photo above) is the founder of the Famine Relief Foundation. They run an orphanage in Haiti. He collects money and other donation, then he personally goes to Haiti once a month to ensure that it is delivered to the orphanage. Unfortunately the orphanage is located 4 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

They need financial donations to cover medical care, bandages, food and other supplies. If you have anything to give (even if it's only 50 cents), please donate to my friend's charity and the orphans of Haiti.

Here is the link to their website: http://faminerelieffoundation.com/

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where are the people on their grind??? YESH.

Since I have a captive audience, please forgive me as I diverge a little today.. I might even get a little preachy. Effective next Monday I'll be working for myself, which means my time is money. In preparation for life getting even more hectic, I started thinking of parts of my life I can outsource.

For example, I HATE opening mail. Mail can easily pile up a month or two before I go through it. I would LOVE to hire a personal assistant to come in once a week to open, sort, file and shred my mail. Before you even go there, YES, I could call to get my name off the lists, but that takes time. My personal assistant could make those calls for me. Another example, I keep my house very clean, especially since I have two dogs. I would LOVE to hire someone to come in once a month and thoroughly clean every nook and cranny of my house.

While these services exist, NONE of them are Wards 7 or 8 based businesses. With all this unemployment going on, where are the people that are determined to make a way even if there is no way? Where are the people that are tired of making someone else rich and ready to make life happen for themselves? Think about it... a cleaning service is a nice little hustle for anyone.

My grandparents where not academically educated people. My grandmother was nurse at night, but she turned the basement into a beauty salon and did hair during the day. My grandfather was a bellhop in hotel. He saved his pennies and eventually started his own taxi service. My grandparents put FIVE kids through college, owned their home, and made it work.

So how is it that two non-academically educated people in the South during Jim Crow where able to make it work, but the people living in DC with PLENTY of government services can complain that they can't find work? If you can't find work, start your own company. It's 2010 people... Let's do better and expect more of ourselves.

Monday, January 11, 2010

FINALLY getting attention

One talent that I've had since I was a little wee one, is getting attention. In elementary school I was the know-it-all AND class clown (don't ask). Finally Fairfax Village is getting some much needed attention.

We had a training for the HOA boards that fall under the Fairfax Village Community Association yesterday morning. I knew that Councilmember Mendelson and his staff were going to be in attendance to talk about some of the things they have helped us with as a result of our Security Walk. I felt there was a 50/50 chance that Amin Muslim from Ward 7 Councilmember Alexander's office would show up and he did. BUT be still my beating little heart when Councilmember Alexander herself walked in. I almost fell out my chair.

We talked through some of the bigger issues. It was encouraging to hear Councilmember Mendelson talking about the potential of the Council initiating a study to look the Justice system as it relates to repeat offenders and people being released hours after they are arrested. I appreciate BOTH of the Councilmembers and their staff for attending the meeting.

After the Councilmembers left, we discussed some issues that we are having at the Community Association level. DRAMA and DYSFUNCTION... too much to even begin to dissect. For the Community Association to function properly, the seven HOA boards need to function properly. Right now Fairfax Village IV (MY BOARD) is the only one that has a full board. *shaking my head* I don't want to show my entire hand, but Village IV is about to make some noise throughout all the villages. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Avoid Southeast-Southwest Freeway going eastbound

Several email and text alerts when out last night warning motorist of lane closures. Below is the message from DDOT with alternative routes. PLAN ACCORDINGLY. Looking into my crystal ball, I predict SE-SW Freeway is going to be a HOT MESS with backups all the way down I-395 in Virginia. This demolition is part of the 11th Street Bridge project.

Work Scheduled Over Next Two Weekends
(Washington, DC) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is scheduled to temporarily close lanes on the eastbound side of the Southeast Freeway over the next two weekends for the demolition of two RFK access ramps. The ramps cross over the freeway. On the weekend of January 10 and 11, and again on January 17 and 18, the left lane and shoulder will be closed just prior to the I-295 South and Pennsylvania Avenue split. That means all traffic approaching the split will have to take the I-295 exit.

There will be no access to RFK Stadium or Pennsylvania Avenue from the SE Freeway

Motorists may use the following detour route to reach Pennsylvania Avenue:
Take the Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue exit
Turn left on Good Hope Road, SE
Turn left on Minnesota Avenue, SE Detour Ends -
Turn either right or left on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

In addition, motorists can avoid the detour by taking alternate routes including:·
From the SW Freeway, take the South Capitol Street exit
Cross the South Capitol Street (Frederick Douglas) Bridge
Take the Suitland Parkway Exit
Take the ramp for I-295 North

A brand new day

Happy New Year faithful readers. I'm back with a renewed energy. On a personal note, I quit my job to step out on faith and start a consulting company with a friend. As a result, I've cleared some stuff off my plate to make time for the new venture. What does this mean for Life in the Village?

Do not fret, my friends. I will be the same Miss V you know and love (or hate depending of if you been previously put on blast by me...LOL). As a matter of fact, I'm about to turn up the heat in 2010. I will be holding more people accountable. This includes, but not limited to, the leadership and residents in Fairfax Village, the City Council, and our beloved mayor. We all have to do our part to make this City a better place. I am MORE than willing to hold up my end of the bargain.

Speaking of which... Another big shot out to Councilmember-at-large Mendelson's staff, Ofc LaFrance, and DC Housing for stepping up to the plate to fix the issue of residents receiving public housing vouchers while violating the law and the rules of the program and the by-laws of the Village.

***Side note: notice a certain Ward Councilmember (cough) and their staff are noticeably absent from my shout outs (raises brow)***

I'm happy to report that two detectives from DC Housing were on-site today to inspect one of the units causing troubles for Village IV. In addition, I provided DC Housing with a map of the village. They are going to cross-reference the addresses with their database to check up on the residents to ensure they are complying with the rules.

I spy with my little eye a change coming to Fairfax Village. There are enough residents willing to stand up to protect and enhance the community. We WILL rid ourselves of drugs, prostitution, and tomfoolery.