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Volume 5, Issue 1, September 1999
1642 Thirty-fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20007-2334
(202) 337-6505, phone; (202) 337-6504, fax
|Neighborhood-based planning? The
Mayor outlines his thinking
Nominations for Federation officers and board
Safer Streets for DC: Getting a handle on threats to public safety
Federation news "nuggets"
Officers and Board
ANC legislation aimed at reforms: Catania bill addresses many criticisms
New group to focus on schools future: Governance for Effective Public Education forums set
Future Federation Assembly Meeting Dates
WEDNESDAY - September 29
Neighborhood-based planning? The Mayor outlines his thinking
"I envision a city, energized and enthusiastic, with its citizens, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government working together toward a common vision for the District. Please join me on November 18 and 20 in launching a unified action plan for the District. I believe we can and will meet the challenges of the next millennium if' we rely on our greatest strength each other." Anthony A. Williams, Mayor
Many District leaders have decried the absence of integrated planning in the governance of the District.
Last winter, the Federation joined with the Committee of 100 and many other citizen groups and criticized the process by which the Comprehensive Plan was adopted: with inadequate and untimely citizen input, with contrary recommendations from various parts of the government, with dates and unwise priorities and with special-interest "goodies" tucked away in secret corners.
Mayor Williams has promised a new approach to integrated, grass-roots planning, and his proposals are being formulated in a plan that will be presented to the Federation delegates at our September meeting.
Called Neighborhood@action, the Williams initiative is intended to overcome the painful, historic shortcomings in centrally planned, "hide-the-ball," planning for District priorities.
The Williams process anticipates using the months of September and October to integrate all previous planning initiatives, in preparation for a Citizen Summit in November, with a celebration, an announcement of Mayoral priorities, for and an opportunity for hands-on workshop involvement.
The time between this summit and the Mayor's budget proposals in March of next year will include many neighborhood based forums and other events geared to assuring that a broad range of residents' concerns are reflected in the final, consolidated, District wide plan and budget.
The November events, at the Convention Center, will include a Thursday evening celebration on November 18 and a day-long summit on November 20, with break-out sessions and workshops.
How will citizens benefit from this process? The Mayor's goals are to improve communication between all sectors of the community and create a partnership between government, business, civic organizations, and citizens ... to develop a unified plan for the District ... to provide better, more responsive service from the government ... and to transform how we work together as a community.
Federation delegates will be asked to support this initiative and participate in the efforts to assure the greatest support for residents' concerns.
This year's nominating committee is chaired by Dick Wolfe of Capitol Hill Restoration Society (543 4353); Harold Gray of the Oldest Inhabitants has served with him, but as is noted elsewhere, Harold has made a brief detour for surgery. Gary Smithwick of Hillandale also served with Dick and Harold. The slate of officers they have recommended is:
For the non-officer members of the Board:
Constitutional requirements: Voting Each paid member organization is entitled to a maximum of three votes from its designated delegates; designated alternates may cast votes if one or more of the designated delegates is unable to attend.
Representation: If two persons who are delegates from the same organization both accept nomination, the highest vote-getter will be elected (regardless of the relative standing of the other delegate from that same organization against other persons on the slate) since each organization may have only one member on the Executive Board.
Qualification: Officers must be designated delegates from associations whose membership is in good standing. Non-officer board members may be either delegates or alternates. No officer may serve in the same off ice for more than three one-year terms.
SAFER STREETS FOR D.C.: Getting a handle on threats to public safety
No, not drug markets. Not drive-by shootings. But drive-bye of a different sort.
District streets can be made dangerous when heavily laden construction vehicles are operated unsafely. The tragic events of a summer day two years ago when young Ben Cooper was killed by an overloaded truck with defective brakes and a driver in a hurry.
In a sad irony, the area ANC had written to the construction contractor about heavy truck traffic and overloaded dump trucks; the firm's rejection of the requests arrived one week before the accident. The network of subcontractors and lack of articulated legal standards made blame-shifting all too easy. And besides, it would cost $75,000 to change routes from residential streets, said the contractor.
In light of the volume of construction that has been triggered by the rapidly improving local economy and the public expenditures funding large-scale projects there are more reasons than ever to work for safer streets, and safer projects.
The price that was paid in Ben Cooper's case was more than a promising young life ended. The insurance company settled the wrongful death lawsuit for $4.6 million, making the cost of safety as relevant as the cost of "efficiency."
Ben Cooper's parents have done two things to honor their son - and to try to keep other parents from experiencing their grief. They have donated the proceeds from the settlement of the lawsuit to charities and they have formulated a code for construction and excavation companies which, if followed, would reduce the dangers to drivers and pedestrians.
The recommendations are repeated in the box below, in the form used by the Washington Post.
Community organizations and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions can seek to have the developers making proposals for their neighborhoods adopt the Cooper Code.
They can also learn about the records of individual trucking firms through a website: www.safersys.org, created in cooperation with the FHWA.
SAFETY STANDARDS FOR CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES
Federation news nuggets: Association activities and celebrations
This month saw a wonderful celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association, complete with festive commemorative dinner and a Washington Post column by Colby King (Federation award recipient in 1998) extolling the virtues of this grass-roots, citizen-led movement. Colby's words could not have been more correct or more welcome.
Frank Senger's four decades of leadership
Pastor Frank Senger, leader of the Hillcrest CCA (and another 1998 Federation awardee) had an anniversary celebration of his own last week. A special mass celebrated by the Lutheran Bishop of Washington marked the fortieth year of Pastor Senger's ministry. His many contributions include his support for both Federations, for the Greater Southeast Community Hospital, and of course for the Hillcrest Community Civic Association.
DCWatch: The power couple strikes again
DCWatch, the online "place to be" created by Federation members Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff (1999 Federation awardees!) has been cited as one of the best political websites. The Washington Post District weekly carried the story of their remarkable accomplishment and the unique contribution made by this "backyard fence" in the ether world. News, columns, information resources, links to other websites, and so much more are part of the world of DCWatch.
Harold Gray again sets new standards
On a more cautionary note, Oldest Inhabitant delegate Harold Gray has just undergone surgery at the Sibley Hospital. Normally a run-of-the-mill procedure, this surgery was a little more eyebrow-raising when Harold's technical age of 92 is factored in, but that's all put in perspective by Harold's remarkable constitution, his joie d'vivre, his marvelously energetic engagement in all things. No doubt, Harold will be back in the front row at Assembly meetings before we know it.
Burleith celebrates anniversary
The Burleith Citizens Association, representing the "village in the city" recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. BCA President Patricia Scolaro presided over the special diamond anniversary celebration on June 12, noting the continuing commitment to fostering civic responsibility and pride in Washington. BCA was one of the earliest civic associations in the District of Columbia.
Patrick Allen, Citizens Association of Georgetown, 337-8760
Somehow I get to say a second "good-bye" as your Federation President. That may not be a bad thing, inasmuch as these three years have been such a rich mixture of experiences for me.
This moment in the District's life seems well matched for this moment in the Federation's experience. The need to marshal residents' concerns -- and their many talents -- for a better future for this city will test the next team of Federation leaders.
I have agreed to help the slate of nominees proposed by the Nominating Committee in whatever way they most need me. I believe this slate represents the best effort at balancing the historic and geographic concerns of our member organizations. They also represent a commitment to working in closer partnership with our sister Federation of Civic Associations, in furtherance of the goals we share.
Because I believe in that process, I will not agree to support -- or be part of -- any competing slate of candidates. This election, with competition for many offices offers a chance to set the future direction of the Federation.
I welcome all those whose energies are much needed to join us in the arena. I It promises to be a most interesting meeting.
Key to neighborhood stability are viable public schools. On page 7 there is a description of a process for public debate on the future of our schools. It is not a process designed to undermine the elected school board or to replace it. It is a process intended to sort out the responsibilities for improved public schools for all the District's children. With a recent report indicating that as many as a third of the District's high school students drop out, there is no time to waste. Federation association members who want to be part of that process should let me know of their interest so they can be included in the forum participants.
My warmest regards -- and gratitude for what we've been able to do together.
ANC legislation aimed at reforms: Catania bill addresses many criticisms
Many voices have called for ANC reform in recent years, with Congress threatening to cut off all funds completely. The Federation joined those voices that sought reforms, strengthening, and support for accountable ANC operations.
In the past year, Councilman Councilmember David Catania, Chair of the Committee on Local and Regional Affairs, has assumed responsibility on Council for ANC operations and has provided initial rounds of training and support for ANCs.
Just released is Catania's draft legislation for further ANC reform, sure to be the topic of extensive discussion in neighborhoods and among Councilmembers.
The sources for many early criticisms misuse of grant funds, improper gifts to ANC members, and unaccountable ANC members have been addressed in the draft legislation.
Specifically, changes included in the bill cover the following ANC restraints:
Citizens (or the Commission) may petition for a seat to be declared vacant after a commissioner fails to attend at least 4 regularly scheduled meetings in a calendar year.
Yet, the bill balances this greater accountability for ANCs with greater ANC authority. With passage of this measure:
Further, ANCs will be freed of some administrative demands, such as filing annual reports and living with a miniscule limit on petty cash funds.
Prohibitions on use of ANC funds for minimal commissioner training have been removed, along with the prohibition against using ANC funds to purchase property liability insurance for ANC equipment.
Moreover, there will be an Office of ANCs to provide support for the unpaid, voluntary commissions.
The Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions is intended to provide technical, administrative, and financial reporting assistance to ANCs.
It would be headed by an Executive Director nominated by the Mayor and approved by the Council. Two thirds of the ANCs by resolution could create a "no confidence" majority to recommend replacement of the Executive Director.
Council will be considering this legislation during the fall session. Much discussion is likely to accompany consideration of this legislation.
New group to focus on schools' future: Governance for Effective Public Education forums set
Transitions in leadership of the District's public schools will occur shortly:
In order to seize the moment, and make this time of change the most productive it can be, a broad based group of interested organizations has been called together by D.C. Agenda.
D.C. Agenda is the group that sponsored a series of forums on governance two years ago widely believed to have formed the framework for the Clinton Administration bail-out program for D.C.
The Task Force will sponsor a series of forums outlined below, geared to participation by parents, community leaders, the education community, and business leadership.
Steering Committee members have been drawn from both Federations, from the Appleseed Center, from Parents United and the Washington Teachers' Union and the PTAs, as well as from the Chamber of Commerce and the Federal City Council.
The Federation will be asked to endorse the series of forums and to participate in the events.
Governance for Effective Public Education Forum Series
I. Setting the Stage: An Overview of Governance Effects on Public Education and a Review of the DC Reform Agenda (October): National and local perspectives ... the Charter's treatment of the Board of Education ... the views of current leadership
II. Governance Options: The Appleseed Center Report (November): A review of the findings of this important: report
III. Experience of Other Cities: What Works? What Doesn't? (November): Representatives of cities where school governance reforms have been tried
IV. Views of Public Officials: What have we learned? (December): The Mayor, Council Chair, Control Board Chair, Congressional Delegate
V. Findings, Conclusions, Recommendations (January): What the community sees as a the best future options for the District's public schools.
The Sumner School has reserved the following dates for the Federation's Assembly meetings. Each will begin at 7 p.m. at the School and Museum, which is at 1201 Seventeenth Street, at the corner of M Street, N.W.
Tuesday, October 26
There will be a holiday luncheon in December, and either the April or May date will be replaced with our annual banquet at Fort McNair.
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