Wednesday, October 31, 2007

North Capitol Main Street Wine Tasting

Here are some photos I took at the October 19th NCMS event.
The event was fantastic for bringing the community together (although my understanding is that NCMS did not have control over what wines were made available for selection).
Bloomingdale Liquors has interesting wines on its shelves, ones unavailable at Giant for example, that should be the subject of a future tasting.

Tom Usselman conducted the beer tasting (you can see him sneaking a taste in the background of one of these photos)-- that selection was delicious.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is This Running a Red Light or Revenue Raising?

On September 29, at the intersection of 1st and Rhode Island Avenue N.W., my car crept into the crosswalk at 14 MPH. The automated red light camera recorded me as a red light runner, and MPD sent me a $75 ticket, due by November 15. Should I pay the ticket or challenge it?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Recap of the Past Week

This is my first entry in 12 days, but whenever there is a lag in posts (12 days is long time in the blogging world) know that I am stilling going to the meetings and trying to advance our neighborhood's objectives.

This past week was busy. Last Saturday, I attended the Octoberfest at Florida Avenue Park (1st and Florida N.W.) at the behest of Alice Thompson, Ward 5 Outreach & Services Specialist. Many police officers and other ANC 5C commissioners attended... and Chair Anita Bonds volunteered to help serve food.

On Monday, I attended the D.C. police PSA 501 meeting, held in conjunction with the Bloomingdale Civic Association meeting.

On Tuesday, the ANC 5C meeting at St. George's church lasted more than three hours. That meeting presented some difficulties and highlighted areas where ANC 5C can improve... a subject to tackle in a separate entry.

On Thursday, I attended the 2007 Fifth District Citizens' Advisory Council Awards Dinner at the The Washington Navy Yard, which recognized police officers and citizens who have served our community with distinction. Some notable honorees who have served Eckington/Truxton Circle include Officer Brian Glover as PSA Officer of the Year, Supervisor of the Year Sgt. Charles Woodard, special award receipients (outgoing) Commander Jennifer Greene and Commander Melvin Scott. James Berry received the Frank E. Braxton, Sr. Award.

Then on Friday, I joined residents at North Capitol Main Street's Fall Wine Tasting at Bloomingdale Liquors (1st and Rhode Island Avenue NW). Folks who know me know that I had all sorts of thoughts for future wine tastings. (Photos posted when I receive them from Pat Mitchell.)

Finally, on Saturday three community leaders joined me in meeting with Melissa of the Borf Brigade at Big Bear Cafe. More to report on that soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

North Capitol Street Business Cooridor Advancing

As a result of a discussion after tonight's Eckington Civic Association meeting, I have information that potential business development is advancing on North Capitol Street in a major way. Residents should expect an announcement in the near future concerning a number of marketable store fronts. I believe this is the most significant development for "N. Cap" (you saw that shorthand here first) in years, but I have been asked to keep the details mum. Stay tuned.

I also spoke with Brian Brown, the force behind EC-12, the projected renovation of the retired DC firehouse into a restaurant on North Capitol Street N.W. Brian told me that the exterior permits have been secured and that residents may begin to notice exterior improvements as early as January, depending on the weather. This news is most encouraging.

Sebring Sans Wheel

This morning I approached my car on the unit block of S Street N.W. in order to move it and comply with D.C. streetsweeper parking regulations. However, this jesture proved to be an impossible task because my car only had three wheels.

This evening I called 311 to file the police report and Officer Black showed up at my door within the half hour. Fortunately, the officer told me that this is the first stolen wheel that he has recorded, so residents need not fear a wheel theft epidemic (albeit I plan to obtain wheel locks).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Area Residents Fighting Back Against Criminals

Ward Five has experienced a substantial increase in crime lately, particularly shootings, and a lot of that crime is taking place in our neighborhood. But citizens are gathering together to fight crime with a determination that I have never seen before. I attended four crime-focused meetings in the past month.

On September 7, Bloomingdale residents responded to a double-shooting of two woman who were shot while walking a dog (the dog was killed in the incident) by holding a meeting. I wish I could share with you the name of the individual who organized this meeting, but given that the meeting was confidential, I won't. It wasn't a commissioner or politician, it was a long-time resident. Bloomingdale residents didn't approach the meeting with questions of the police or politicians, but rather with very specific demands. The deadlines for meeting these demands were very short and the phrasing of the demands was (understandably) terse, but then-Commander Jennifer Greene responded very well. Meeting the demands was a matter of when, not whether.

On September 11, the
experiment of a joint PSA 501-civic association meeting proceeded for the first time. I believe it was a success-- instead of virtually no citizen attendance (other than myself, Tom Usselman, and the police), 17 people attended the meeting hosted by Eckington Civic Association. Lt. White reported the rash of shootings, adding that there were 41 burglaries in PSA 501 in July. The police arrested four burglars, two of whom were out of jail pending sentencing. The police and residents discussed community strategy as well as the reasons behind the reoccuring crime (many of the criminals are back on the street three days after their arrest).

On September 22 (10 a.m. on a Saturday), seven residents attended my monthly constituent meeting at Sursum Corda Library. That meeting, which was attended by Sgt. Woodard and two other officers, focused almost entirely on crime issues faced by residents on Hanover Place N.W. Sgt. Woodard made the interesting comment that there are hardly any armed robberies of citzens, which stood in marked contrast to the tensions expressed over the Eckington listserv about safety in the New York Avenue area.

Finally, on September 25, the Bloomingdale residents held a follow-up meeting with police and government officials to verify progress. At least 40 people attended this meeting, including Mayor Adrian Fenty, Councilman Harry Thomas, Chief of Police Cathy Lanier, Capt. Scott, Lt. Wright, Lt. White, other officers, and four Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. Again, the meeting details are secret, but problem property owners providing havens for drug activity should expect contact with police and community leaders in the near future about what they must do about tenants.
The only demand that gave me pause was a proposal to place speed humps on R Street N.W. It seemed that the speed hump demand would be implemented without wider community input (beyond petitions on the immediate block), even though R Street acts as a signficant rush hour artery.

Clearly, if the current level of citizen vigilance is maintained, the criminals will move on. The question is how to sustain the intensity.