Forward to January 2000 Federation News Back to Federation of Citizens Associations main page Back to November 1999 Federation News
Volume 5, Issue 4, December 1999
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax
|Will Mediation Take Hold as City-Wide
Dispute Resolution Mechanism?
Federation Quarterly Luncheon
Glimpse of the Telecom Future at Federation November Meeting
$5,000 D.C. Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended
Mark the Calendar Date
|Officers and Board
The Mayors November Citizens Summit
Future Federation Assembly Meeting Dates
Will Mediation Take Hold As City-Wide Dispute Resolution Mechanism?
On the initiative of the D.C. Office of Planning, mediation sessions have been held and are winding down between George Washington University's Mount Vernon College and the communities of Palisades and Foxhall regarding the college's ambitious expansion plans. The college campus sits squarely within the residential community and abuts Foxhall Road. Any major expansion, particularly of on-site students and commuting professors and ancillary personnel is viewed as likely to become objectionable to neighboring property because of noise, traffic and other objectionable conditions, and to impinge negatively on the surrounding low-density districts.
The mediation effort is part of the new planning initiative for the city announced recently by Mayor Anthony Williams and new Director of the Office of Planning Andrew Altman. Apparently, this is the first dispute resolution attempt of the kind to be made by the new OP. (New in the sense that, in addition to the director, there has been a considerable turnover of senior personnel at the OP, with authorization for new additional hirees.)
Community representatives report that the mediation sessions have gone "well", after an initial refusal of the college and GWU attorneys to enter into discussions of potential negative impacts of new and extensive plans to expand Mount Vernon's student enrollment and major reconfiguration on and about the campus. Insiders have stated they see, mirabile rnirabilis, for the first time a key District agency intervening pro-actively, in advance, to head off a potential explosion during community-college conflict resolution. For the record, both Palisades and Foxhall are upscale, well-funded and well-organized neighborhoods and are well able to prosecute their concerns up and down the city regulatory apparatus as well as the in the courts. Both are members of the Federation. The mediation is timely, provided the college refrains from being greedy.
The communities hope to accomplish as much as possible through the novel prior-mediation mode, before the campus issue comes before the Board of Zoning Adjustment. The last (of six) session took place December 6.
FEDERATION QUARTERLY LUNCHEON
|Patrick H. Allen Esq.
Citizens Association of Georgetown
Gracie V. Baten
Allen E. Beach
Dino J. Drudi
|Kay A. Eckles
Residential Action Coalition
M.R. Peggy Snyder, Esq.
Alice F, Stewart
A.L. Wheeler, Esq.
Dr. Marc Weiss
As the Federation approaches the millennial year, it is worthwhile to look both backward and forward, take stock, and carefully eye the future. In the year 2000, the Federation will reach a venerable 90th birthday. We may look back proudly on a near century's record of, at first, serving as one (of two) principal direct channels of citizens concerns to the D.C. Board of Commissioners. Upon the advent of Home Rule and the creation of ANCs as part of the charter process, the Federation necessarily regrouped and concentrated on representing D.C. citizen concerns before boards, commissions, the city council and other fore, as well as operating behind the scenes for civic objectives. Latterly, we are adding to these activities more pro-active ones, which will likely include the imminent establishment of the legal aid foundation, and should complement as well as work with the ANCs.
ANCs are, among other things, unable to oppose the city meaningfully, have "no general authority to affiliate on a city-wide basis, or finance a city-wide assembly" and, in practice, may not testify before the U.S. Congress. The Federation has no such disabilities, and can weigh filling this gap beginning in 2000, alone or in combination with other parties depending on the situation and carefully considered.
The Board of Directors at its most recent meeting adopted principles for emphasis in 2000 as being of most pressing importance for the city and community. These are:
There is reason to believe that the ailing city is on the road to recovery under new leadership, as spotty as this initially must be. The Federation's role is basically what we make it, as shrewdly and effectively as we can. It will be a long haul, but what are we at age 90 if not a united long-haul assembly of communities?
On-another, lighter note, delegates and alternates are urged to get in their reservations for the millennial quarterly luncheon December 14. It's time to celebrate.
Federation delegates were in abundant evidence at the November 20 Citizens Summit at the downtown Convention Center. The summit's stated purpose was to enable the organized citizenry, individual citizens, small business, big business and organized labor to, in effect, be polled concerning principal issues facing the troubled metropolis.
Polling was electronic, fast, state-of-the-art and keyed to a wide variety of multiple choice concerns, identified in advance by the Mayor's office. Such, however, was the breadth and scope of the selected issues that there were no complaints that the summit preparation committee had unduly restricted the agenda. Each (of some 240) table of from eight to ten persons was equipped with a computer that connected to a central computer, with voting results tabulated by the latter being quickly projected onto huge screens at the front of the meeting hall.
High among areas of principal concern were rejuvenation of residential neighborhoods, improvement of public secondary education and making the city government work. Unlike previous meetings of the sort in both the District and elsewhere, Harvard Business School--style study groups and group reports were not the end result of the exercise, although that process had been predicted by some mayoral personnel. Majority results of around-the-table voting effectively comprised the summit's reporting. The Mayor assured the large and heterogeneous audience (of a claimed 2,600, all told) that the administration will take the summit's results to heart, and factor them into as well as use them to shape ongoing administration efforts to revive and improve the city.
Federation delegates were usually key to the formation of opinion and voting at their numerous tables, with special attention being paid to the computer operator and the actual messages and vote counts forwarded for tabulation. One Federation member organization, Columbia Heights, occupied four tables. Others, particularly in the regionalized afternoon session, witnessed strongly for community welfare. (Regionalized in that tables were regrouped according to neighborhoods, usually contiguous ones.) The morning session's composition of tables was randomly based on the order of arrival of attendees. For example, the Federation president's morning table included two recent university graduates from the Cleveland Park area, an ax-convict now engaged in social work in the North Capitol Street corridor projects near Union Station, two of his colleagues, a North Michigan Park Civic Association activist, the table's pre-appointed chairman from a Virginia suburb, an elderly woman activist from Southeast and a mid-level city official.
A propos, one official from the Mayor's office is reported to have remarked that, "if the summit did nothing else, it got the various areas of town talking to one another". The going impression is that that was of secondary, if salutary, importance. Most delegates reportedly left with the impression that the broad-based summit meeting did and will continue to make a difference, although there was disagreement on the degree of importance. Based on the clear success of this Citizens Summit, there will likely be further ones. Federation delegates, alternates and associates should be in the thick of any future action.
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, January 25
Tuesday, February 22
Tuesday, March 28
Tuesday, April 25
Tuesday, May 23
Tuesday, June 27
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