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Volume 5, Issue 3, November 1999
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax
|Federation Guest Speaker Is Hottest
Property in Town
Federation Committees: Something for Everyone and Getting Better
The Mayors Citizen Summit
Officers and Board
Federation Delegates Just Appointed
Housekeeping: Annual Dues
Federation Quarterly Luncheon December 14
Future Federation Assembly Meeting Dates
NEXT FEDERATION ASSEMBLY MEETING
Federation Guest Speaker Is Hottest Property In Town
Mr. Andrew Altman, the Mayor's newest senior appointee and now the District's Director of the Office of Planning, has hit the ground running. Speaking with numerous citizen groups already, Mr. Altman has demonstrated a well- developed style of fielding any and all queries comments complaints and quizzing with both ease and (some) humor. But there is an underlying seriousness in this new man that gives rise to hope.
What specifically does a Director of Planning do other than, well, plan? The Mayor's office announces that Mr. Altman will "... assist the Mayor in developing and managing land use and development policy, implementing the Comprehensive plan, and coordinating all the planning activities of the District of Columbia."
Prior to his Washington appointment, Mr. Altman was Director of City Planning in Oakland, California, from 1996 to 1999. Oakland is one or the most diverse cities in the country, and has or had many of the same problems of the District faces: rundown city services, large distressed areas requiring revitalization, a land use mess, and a slack enforcement and zoning process. Probabilities are that Mr. Altman will feel at home in the District of Columbia. At any rate, the going opinion is that Mr. Altman is a definite catch, and the Mayor is obviously pleased to have him on his clean-up, re-do team.
One aspect of Mr. Altman's apparent approach to some of Washington's long- standing problems is that of arbitration between communities, developers, universities, other institutions and the like. There is even word out that binding arbitration is being considered as a possible expedient.
This may trouble some of our member communities in simmering disputes with large, shrewd encroachers. An obvious response to the arbitration mode -- which usually ends in a splitting of differences -- is for detractors of communities to ask for the moon and then to bargain downward. Very possibly with this process as with the current shaky city approach to zoning and other dispute resolution, the tax-base residential communities lose. In fine, the principle of arbitration, induced or not, bears close scrutiny and due wariness.
Mr. Altman's November 23rd visit with us will he one of the more important ones on his agenda. And it is a worthwhile opportunity for all delegates and guests to attend, both to bring up specifics and to become better informed concerning current core issues.
At the November 11 meeting, principal decisions of the Federation Board of Directors were:
FEDERATION COMMITTEES: SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE AND GETTING BETTER
If armies run on their stomachs, healthy civic organizations run on their committees, as the sayings go. Inter alia, several Federation ad hoc and standing committees afford good opportunities for delegates, alternates and even others to take part in and make a difference in ongoing Federation activities. Some interesting existing committees are:
A number of delegates will soon be asked to serve on specific committees. Please consider joining.
The Federation is backing Mayor Anthony Williams' blockbuster Citizens Summit project, to be held Saturday, November 20 at the downtown Convention Center. Our hope is that sornething concrete and beneficial will come of the city-wide meeting. Our reasoning is (1) we need to cooperate to give the new man a chance, and (2) the political leadership of the District of Columbia may have evolved to the point where organized, small-business, large-business, organized-labor and other-interest voices may be listened to.
There is naturally some feeling of "been there, done that," but previous, admittedly sterile, efforts in the same direction took place within a largely different political milieu. Also, practical thought, the symbolic value of mayoral-administration, citizenry and commercial elements all working together for once is considerable, It's worth a shot.
The format of the November 20 Summit activity will be a full-day conclave, with attendees dividing themselves into and participating in subject task forces/groups. The task forces will address a range of areas of citizen concern such as zoning, public works, code enforcement and the like, with a view to producing at the end of the day the basic content of a recommendation for action. (As these processes go, more polished, finished versions of recommendations are produced two or so weeks subsequently, signed off on by task force members and submitted.)
Federation delegates will likely make an outsized contribution to the citizen summit effort, simply because they are among the best informed and most articulate of District residents and taxpayers, For effect, we plan to have Federation badges for all delegates and alternates to wear. Individual associations may be written.
Federation participants -- and the more the better -- should chair or actively participate in task force discussions. Afterwards, they are urged to take charge of and/or actively work in producing the final reports. These reports are the crunch of the exercise, and in the past special interests have made a bee-line for this aspect of the process. Good citizen participation will help insure good citizen-oriented final reports.
The Citizen Summit begins at 9 a.m. Delegates are urged to arrive at 8:30 a.m. or earlier.
President's Message Guy Gwynne
We are starting the millennial year in a systematic way, with a view to placing the Federation on a sounder organizational footing and at the same time making Federation participation more interesting, rewarding, and effective for all delegates, alternates and associates.
The Federation now has a critical mass of active member organization that makes it likely the District's primary concentration of (1) politico-intellectual ability as well as (2) collective access to money ON THE CITIZEN SIDE. As we all know, large developers, legal firms, universities and other forces within the District have all along had excellent funding and legal representation to readily and effectively pit on occasion against citizen groups and individuals in disputes.
It is my earnest hope that we, all of us, will be able to level this playing field in the near future with the establishment of the Federation Legal Defense Foundation. While this founding is not absolutely certain at this point, we have virtually all of the necessary preparations in place.
Once established, the foundation would concentrate on issues of city-wide importance, necessarily. However, it is probable that some neighborhood(s) and citizen coalition issues and disputes may well be extrapolated as having wider applicability. We're moving.
On another note, many of us may want to car pool and bring fellow delegates and alternates to the Tuesday, November 23rd assembly meeting. New Office of Planning Director Andrew Altman, our speaker, may represent the iceberg tip of a dawning city government awareness and concern for taxpayer and neighborhood affairs and well-being. This city, as well as others, may well sink or swim on just these concerns.
Mayor Williams has nominated the following Federation delegates to serve on the Solid Waste Transfer Facility Site Selection Advisory Group:
Because of the turnover of Treasury functions, Federation dues notices for 1999-2000 are only now being sent to member organizations. The following citizens associations will want to send in their dues checks for $60 at an earliest convenience to new Treasurer Dr. Marc Weiss, 426 0 Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024.
While the Federation takes a somewhat relaxed view of eligible voting members and meeting participants, by rights only delegates and alternates from member organizations in good financial standing are eligible. Let's try to achieve a 100% paid-up membership by January and start the voting year in good standing.
FEDERATION QUARTERLY LUNCHEON DECEMBER 14
Everyone will want to mark calendars for Tuesday, December 14, the somewhat delayed date for the millennial, elegant Federation quarterly luncheon.
As in the past, the luncheon will be held at 12 noon, at the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Club at 1801 F Street, N.W. The clubhouse is the red brick mansion on the corner. Weather permitting, sherry will be served in the walled garden. Otherwise, service will be in the upstairs drawing rooms.
Cost is $15 per person. There are no formal speakers. Delegates, alternates and their guests take the opportunity in optimal conditions to get to know one another and exchange ideas.
Future Federation Assembly Meeting Dates
The Sumner School has reserved. the following dates for the Federation's Assembly meetings. Each will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the School and Museum, which is at 1201 Seventeenth Street, at the corner of M Street, N.W.
Tuesday, November 23 Tuesday, January 25 Tuesday, February 22 Tuesday, March 28 Tuesday, April 25 Tuesday, May 23 Tuesday, June 27
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