Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mayor's Budget Townhalls

Ward 7 2012 Budget Briefing
Saturday May 7, 2011
Hillcrest Recreation Center

Monday, April 25, 2011


Tomorrow is the Special Election to fill the seat vacated by Kwame Brown when he became Chairman. For more information, visit this Special Election website.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Plenty of time to reflect

As a follow-up to the fatal accident on the 3600 Block of Alabama Ave SE on April 19, 2010, Ajene Jones was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


District Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Deadly Crash

Wrong-Way Driver, on PCP, Killed Mother of Four

Ajene Jones, 35, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault stemming from a traffic accident in April 2010 that killed a mother of four and injured her children. (Case# 2010CF1006987, PSA 606)

Evidence showed that Jones was under the influence of PCP at the time of the crash.

Jones pled guilty in January 2011 and was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas J. Motley in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Judge Motley sentenced Jones to consecutive

sentences of 132 months for the charge of voluntary manslaughter and 54 months each for two counts of aggravated assault for a total sentence of 240 months.

The crash took place April 19, 2010.

FACTS: According to the government’s evidence, at about 6:50 p.m., Mary Wimbush, 37, was driving a 1997 Toyota Camry in a southwesterly direction in the 3600 block of Alabama Avenue

SE with her four children riding as passengers. She had just passed through the intersection of 36th Place and Alabama Avenue, which is controlled by a traffic light, when her car was struck head on by a 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 Conversion van.

Investigation revealed that the van, driven by Jones, was traveling northeasterly on Alabama Avenue and was completely on the wrong side of the double yellow lines at the time of impact. There was no indication of braking on the part of either vehicle.

Witnesses told police that the van had been on the wrong side of the street for some period before striking the victim’s car. The impact of the crash caused the Toyota to be pushed backwards and rotated approximately 180 degrees. During the rotation of the Toyota, it struck a utility pole and mounted the sidewalk. It traveled approximately 47 feet backward after impact.

The Dodge continued forward after striking the Toyota, coming to a final rest approximately 141 feet from the area of impact. Preliminary calculations based only on the momentum loss indicate the defendant traveling at a minimum speed of 52 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone, but the speed was likely higher. Civilians helped pull Jones from behind the wheel.

Ms. Wimbush was pinned in the Toyota, crushed under the dashboard. It took the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department more than 45 minutes to extricate her. She died as she reached Medstar after being airlifted to the hospital. Her children – ages 2, 4, 7, and 10 – were hospitalized after the crash, with broken bones, lacerations and cuts.

Jones was also taken to Medstar with minor injuries. Toxicology screening indicated that he was positive for PCP. This, along with his physical condition, indicates that the defendant was under the influence of PCP at the time of the crash. The defendant did not have a valid license at the time of the crash and he had been convicted for DUI in the District of Columbia and sentenced to probation on December 9, 2009.

Far Southeast Livability Study Meeting #3

Friday, April 15, 2011

Testimony - FY12 Budget DPW

Here is testimony I submitted to the Committee on Public Works & Transportation for the Department of Public Works.

I am submitting my written testimony as a public witness.

The Department of Public Works has played an instrumental role in improving the quality of life for residents in my community. The divisions for which we have regular interactions with are parking enforcement, and sanitation enforcement and abatement. In light of the recent report from the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, I have some recommendations for the fleet management division. My specific recommendations for each division are outlined below:

Parking Enforcement
The sun rising in the East is the only thing that is more predictable than our parking enforcement officer. This around the clock enforcement helps tamper crime. For example, during September 2010 we had stolen cars left on the public streets. DPW is responsible for alerting MPD to have the vehicles removed expeditiously.

For FY2012, an untapped source of revenue is enforcement on private parking lots. Fairfax Village IV has a private parking lot including garages that are accessed via a public alley. In order to have cars towed from our lot, an authorized representative of Fairfax Village IV has to contact DPW or MPD with the make, model, and tag number to come out an issue parking tickets. Given the time and resources we have to expend, we are unable to adequately enforce parking to a level that discourages illegal parking. In addition, we have residents who avoid converting their tags to DC by parking off the street.

An opportunity would be for communities with private parking lots with a parking permit requirement to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding that allows DPW to enforce “basic” parking rules. By “basic” parking rules I mean proper DC tags, recent emissions testing, parking in fire lane, parking in private alley, and not having proper permit for the private lot. Given that parking enforcement officers have specific areas, it would be relatively easy to manage the MOU. For example, the parking enforcement officer in my area only has a handful of private lots that would be added to her rounds.

Sanitation Enforcement
Abatement of litter, trash and other debris places an important role in quality of life of my community. We have regularly called on DPW to abate trash on vacant lots and commercial properties. For example, 2250 38th Street SE is a house that a developer never completed. The lot routinely becomes a dumping ground, in addition, to the overgrowth of bushes on the sidewalk. DPW brought out a crew to clean up the trash and cut back the bushes. I do not know whether or not the property owner was assessed a fined.

Another example is a DPW has issued citations and assessed fines to the commercial property owner in my neighborhood. However, since the fines for sanitation enforcement are so low, the commercial property owner pay the fines as the cost of doing business, but does nothing to mitigate litter on the property. The fines, especially for commercial owners, need to be a level that gently encourages owners to spend the money to mitigate litter. In addition, the fines need to increase incrementally based the number of repeat violations.

I recommend DPW take cues from the private sector when determining a fine policy. Specifically DPW should conduct a break-even analysis and prepare a profit and loss statement in order to ensure the fines are more than the cost to DPW (if feasible). For example, if the cost to DPW to enforce sanitation at a commercial property is $1000 (based on person-hours, equipment, vehicle, etc), but the fine is only $250, then they are operating at a loss, which isn’t sustainable.

Fleet Management
The operations of this division need to be evaluated to ensure the use of vehicles is optimized. I still struggle with the rationale for agency directors to have a dedicated vehicle and for each agency to have a dedicated fleet. Other than positions that require constant travel such as building inspectors or social workers that make home visits, it seems most employees (including directors and executives) can use public transportation during the day. Most government buildings are along rail or heavily serviced bus lines.

I recommend DPW benchmark best practices from neighboring jurisdictions, cities of comparable size, and cities with public transportation systems. For example, the City of Alexandria and Arlington County have a shared-fleet program between different agencies. In addition most of their fleets are Toyota Prius or comparable hybrid vehicles. Implementing best practices will allow the agency to operate efficiently and reduce operating costs.

Testimony - FY12 Budget ABRA

Here's the public testimony I submitted to the Committee on Human Services regarding the Alcohol Beverage Regulatory Administration.

I am submitting my written testimony as a public witness (private citizen).

The Honorable Mayor Vince Gray’s proposed Fiscal Year proposal includes $2.4 million in revenue from increased alcohol tax and extended alcohol sales. I support increasing the alcohol tax as proposed in the Mayor’s budget. My community’s proximity to a liquor store, give me serious concerns related to the provision to extension liquor sales to midnight.

Village Liquors, located in the Fairfax Village Shopping Center, currently has a “Retail A” liquor license. Since there is no voluntary agreement between the owners and the community, Village Liquors would be eligible for requesting extended liquor sales under the Mayor’s proposal. This would be detrimental to our community.

Fairfax Village, a sub-neighborhood of Hillcrest, is a family-friendly residential community made of up condominiums and townhomes. The Fairfax Village Shopping Center abuts our community with neighborhood-oriented retail. Due to our proximity to the shopping center, liquor and beer bottles are tossed on our lawns, people loiter at the shopping center in front of the liquor store, and there is constant foot traffic through our community. I cannot (an do not) wish to imagine this continuing until midnight.

I have two major concerns with putting a provision like this in the budget:
  • Community losing leverage in liquor license process: Putting a provision like this in the budget means that ABRA is depending on that projected revenue. If ABRA begins to fall short of the $2.4 million projections, I fear that the financial needs of ABRA will trump the community’s desire to not want extended liquor store hours in their respective communities. I do not wish to bear the burden of extended liquor sales in order for ABRA to meet budget projections.
  • The revenue does not take into account indirect costs: The $2.4 million revenue does not consider indirect costs such as additional police presence and sanitation enforcement. For example, an on-duty Metropolitan Police Department officer sits in the parking lot and/or inside the liquor store through closing. If that is extended two additional hours, police resources may be pulled from other locations in the Police Service Area to cover the shopping center.
In conclusion, I support an increased alcohol tax. I do not support extended liquor store hours for liquor stores within walking distance of my community.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Respect our community

The photo of a little boy holding a sign that reads "Respect our Community" sums why we were at Uncle Lee's this morning. We tried diplomacy. We when that didn't work we took to the streets to demand better, because we deserve better. Fairfax Village and Capitol View residents made the trek to Deanwood because we are tired too. We are tired of Ward 7 being only good enough for liquor and lotto. We say "No more".....

After two protests, the fight isn't over.... We need to show a presence at the Alcohol Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) hearing on Wednesday, April 13th at 4:00 PM at the Reeves Center (2000 U Street NW), 5th Floor.

Amani demands better

In the face of adversity, we stand united

Councilmember Alexander says "No More Liquor Stores"

Sylvia reminds the people that Deanwood was founded on activism

Friday, April 8, 2011

Community Dinner at Thai Orchid

Community Dinner
April 12, 2011, 7-8:30PM
Thai Orchid's Kitchen
2314 Pennsylvania Ave SE

Bring your kids, bring your wife, and bring your husbands, because we're feeding everybody... $11/per person for buffet (does NOT include drinks, tax or tip)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Speaking of Liquor Stores

(photo from http://chudbusters.blogspot.com/)

Ms V has begun tackling the Mayor's proposed FY 2012 DC government budget. Because of my role on the Hillcrest Community Civic Association Board, my focus will be getting my arms around the transportation budget. However, there is a revenue initiative in the budget that gives me pause.

Hidden on page 35 of the Budget overview, is the following bullet

Allowing off-premise liquor sales until midnight $2.4 million
To that Ms V says H-E-Double Hockey Sticks NO. The liquor store at Fairfax Village Shopping Center closes at 10pm. It's bad enough we have to deal with loitering at the shopping center and all the issues that come with loitering until 10pm. In addition, the patrons of the liquor store throw liquor and beer bottles all over our community. One morning I collected 13 liquor bottles and beer cans. Let's not prolong this another two hours.

I know we are leaking retail sales to the suburban jurisdictions, but as my granddaddy would say "all money isn't good money". Some money comes at a high social cost. For example, will this $2.4 million be used for sanitation enforcement to fine property owners for not properly abating litter including impact to abutting properties? The Fairfax Village Shopping Center currently has a officer that sits either in or outside the liquor store from 8pm-close at 10pm. Will this $2.4 million be used for additional police presence at the shopping center and surrounding communities through the extended hours?

I can't speak for all of Ward 7, but something tells me they probably share my position. If the Mayor wants to make money on booze sales, then I would like to request an exemption for the Fairfax Village liquor store. I'm not one to jump on the NIMBY bandwagon, but on this issue I'm willing to jump behind the wheel. Writing my ANC Commissioner now.

It's ain't over, til it's over

We came. We protested. We chanted. What started out as 2, became 3, which eventually became 10 and then multiplied into 20. Ward 7 needs a lot of things. Another liquor store is most definitely NOT one of them.

Uncle Lee's Seafood has applied for a class A liquor license. We say "NO MORE". The fight has just begun. Please come out to the next protest on April 9th. Bring signs, noise makers, and a spirit to fight for injustice. We will be at Uncle Lee's (corner of Sheriff Road and Eastern Ave) at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm.

This isn't just a Deanwood thing.... This is a Ward 7 thing. We need to fight as a community.

DC Water Town Hall

Click image to enlarge

Taking Advantage of Hiking Trails

Ward 7, take advantage of all the beautiful greenspace while getting in a good workout. Here is some information about a Hiking event with National Park Service.
Hike the Hiker-Biker Trail with a Ranger

The Hiker-Biker Trail which connects a number of Civil War forts in SE Washington is one of Washington DC’s best kept secrets and it is right here in your neighborhood! If you want a chance to hike the trail with a ranger and see the trail for yourself, join us for a series of hikes during the month of April. Each Tuesday for 3 weeks, beginning on April 4th we will

hike a section of the trail as a group. All hikes begin at 5:30 p.m. and will cover 4 to 5 miles. Plan to be on time because to cover this distance before dark, we have to start on time. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water.

Call (202) 426-7723 for more information.

4/5 Meet at the Fort Dupont Earthworks off of Alabama Avenue (just north of Mass Ave. turn left into the park). This week we will hike north to Fort Mahan near the Minnesota Ave. Metro.

4/12 Meet at the Fort Dupont Earthworks off of Alabama Avenue (just north of Mass Ave. turn left into the park). This week we will hike south to around Branch Avenue.

4/19 Meet at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum and we will hike from there to near Branch Avenue.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Community Crime Alert: Shooting

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that there was a shooting in the public alley leading to the Fairfax Village IV Parking lot (3900 block of Pennsylvania Ave SE) last night around 9:50 pm. The "victims" drove themselves to the Fire Station on 2800 block of Pennsylvania Ave. From there the "victims" were transported to the hospital for injuries. MPD officers and detectives were on scene in the parking lot until around midnight.

MPD believes this was a domestic situation and not a random act of violence. They will be providing more up to date information as the investigation unfolds, but I wanted to make sure everyone was aware. If you have any tips (no matter how insignificant you think it might be) regarding this incident, please contact MPD at 888-919-CRIME or Text to 50411.

Ms V is a little dismayed because this incident will forever leave a "Scarlet Letter" on our community. There is already a perception that this area is unsafe and incidents like this further perpetuate that stereotype. Despite this was a shooting, this is the first incident of this magnitude in my five years living here. Ms V is confident this was an isolated incident, but (regardless if you are in Georgetown or Fairfax Village) please be aware of your surrounds. Also, call a neighbor to look out the window if you are coming home late.

I've jumped on my soapbox several times, be a nosey neighbor. MPD can't see everything, but we can.