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|Vol. 5, No. 1
Editor: Sandra "SS" Seegars
|Marvin Gaye, 4-2-39 to 4-1-84
When Will Ward Eight Vote?
MARVIN GAYE, 4-2-39 T0 4-1-84
In memory of you. It has been fifteen years since Mr. Gaye was with us. He is often spoken of. His music still fills the airways, with that silky smooth tone.
Ward 8 continues to be the most neglected ward in the District. As other wards progress with economic development, Ward Eight regresses.
As elected officials come and go, fewer Ward registered voters vote. In addition, Ward Eight has fewer registered voters than any other ward.
The last general election brought about a majority white City Council.
Ward Eight voters have control over one ward Council member and five at-large members, including the chairperson.
The present at-large members are Harold Brazil (D-A/A-W6), Carol Schwartz (R-W-W1), David Catania (R-W-W1) and Phil Mendelson (D-W-W3).
In the last general election, November 1998, Ward Eight had the opportunity to elect two at-large members who resided in Ward 8; Linda Moody (D), and Sandra "SS" Seegars (I). (By law an Independent does not compete in the primary election, only the general election.)
Many voters, east of the river, believe their votes do not count, and elected officials disregard east of the river, especially Ward 8. However, in viewing the overall condition of the city, east of the river is lacking in many aspects.
To change that perception, east of the river residents need to register, learn about the candidates, and vote in every election.
In election year 2000, perhaps there will be a vast awakening.
Chief Charles Ramsey has been on the job for one year. Even he admits to no vast improvement. Initially, he was optimistic about tackling crime in the District.
Given the personnel he has to work with, there is not much hope for improvement.
Ramsey said, "If you keep getting what you are getting, you're going to keep getting what you get."
Perhaps if he practices what he preaches, he can improve the department. The majority of the higher ranked officers are from the previous administration. They are used to the old way. It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.
Ramsey is new to the city, and does not know his way around, yet, he will not listen to the public when they complain about the problems that has been existing for years within the department.
In interviewing residents in various wards, they all seem to think Ramsey has a problem with non-officials telling him what to do. They think he uses extra effort to defy any suggestions for improvement, if it comes from non-officials.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Contractor-owned and/or Contractor-operated correctional facility (prison) to be built within 300 miles from the Capitol.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is one of the bidders. They want to build it in Ward Eight, at Oxon Cove (in the DC Village area).
The opposing parties are led by Ward 8 residents, Joyce Scott - FOR, and Eugene Kinlow AGAINST.
The majority of the low to medium security inmates are incarcerated because of drug related offenses. What motivates Scott to work to keep them in the District is her dedication in helping others. She counsels reformed addicts, runs successful welfare to work and job placement programs, and provides social service assistance to her many clients.
Kinlow is against the prison because he wants something more positive built in the ward, and thinks the natural environment would be destroyed if the prison were built in Oxon Cove.
On Scott's team there are Robert Yeldell, former ANC Chairman, William Lockridge, Ward Eight Board of Education representative, Wanda Lockridge, Ward Eight's Woman representative on the Democratic State Committee, Linda Moody, former Ward Eight Board of Education representative, Anthony Motley and Leon Lipscombe, both Ward Eight ministers, Marion Barry, former mayor, Mary Cuthbert, former ANC chairperson, Hanna Hawkins, founder and director of Children of Mine, and Rahim Jenkins, founder of Righteous Men, Association, Inc.
On Kinlow's team are OV Johnson, ANC member, Winnifred Freeman, ANC chairperson, Sandra "SS" Seegars, activist and publisher of One Page At a Time, Cardell Shelton, Ward Eight Republican Party chairperson, Retta Gilliam, director, East of the River Community Development Corporation, Nathaniel and Stephanie Howard, president and member of ( Congress Heights Civic Association, Wilhemenia Rolark, former Ward Eight Council member, and Mary Parham Wolf, president of the Ward Eight Democrats.
The present mayor is against a prison in Ward 8. The former mayor, Marion Barry, is for it.
The original RFP was one contract, to house 2,200 inmates. The latter part of 1998 the RFP was changed to two contracts, one to house 1,200 and the other to house 1,000 inmates. The contract for 1,000 inmates was awarded in April, to a facility in Texas who plans to build in Pennsylvania.
CCA still has hopes for the second contract. However, before CCA can get the contract they have to complete an environmental impact study, get the land swapped from the US Department of Interior, get the land zoned to build a prison, and have the contract awarded to them. So far, none of these things has happened.
The zoning hearing has been postponed several times, thereby, lessening CCA's chance of getting the contract that should be awarded before June.
There were three separate rapes on Morris Rd. SE in November and December, whereas, the three females were snatched off the street, carried a short distance away, and raped.
One suspect was arrested on a parole violation. He has not been charged with the rape, but he is still in custody. Another suspect is being questioned. There were at least five suspects.
The community was not properly notified after the first and second rapes occurred. The Sex Branch and Seventh District blamed each other for the lack of notifying the community. The two divisions. were not in communication with each other.
Sandra "SS" Seegars, Ward Eight activist and candidate in the last at-large election, and Joyce Scott, Ward Eight activist and advocate for safe streets, began a campaign to seek the removal of 7D Commander Winston Robinson.
His nonchalant attitude and the lack of respect from his officers seemed to have affected his supervisory effectiveness.
Seegars and Scott survey, surveyed other Ward Eight residents who also wanted Robinson removed.
They held a press conference to notify the community that the rapes had occurred, and to ask Robinson to voluntarily remove himself as commander. He refused.
Before having a meeting with Ramsey, Seegars met with Harold Brazil, At-Large City Council Member, and chairperson of the Judiciary Committee. He wrote a letter to Chief Ramsey to try to resolve the matter.
A meeting with Ramsey turned out to be futile. He said he would give Robinson a short time to improve, although he has had five years to do so.
The other six police districts have had new leadership put in place, recently.
Seegars and Scott had a rape alert program in February, at New United Baptist Church on Hunter Pl., to let that community know they had not been forgotten.
Scott has proposed to the police department to permit her office, Citizens for a Progressive Ward 8, to be a contact point for citizens to file complaints against police officers.
In April, Seegars sponsored a self-defense class at 7D, taught by the Rape Crisis Center.
As of this printing, there have not been any more of those types of attacks in that area, nor any arrests.
There have been several fires on MLK, Jr., Ave., in the last year or so, that have been suspicious in nature, thereby, the fire department ruled them arson.
The majority of them were set in businesses, located from the 2700 block of MLK, Jr., Ave., SE, to the 3100 block.
If you walk along that corridor, you can smell the burnt rubbish.
Out of nearly a dozen fires, only three of the businesses, two barbershops and a laundry, have reopened.
The fire department met with the community to explain as much as they could about the fires. The fire chief said it is difficult to make an arrest in arsons because the evidence is usually destroyed. He also said the police department play, plays a great role in capturing an arsonist; then there would be a matter of winning the case against the accused, in court. He said it is difficult to win an arson case.
At this time, no one has been arrested.
The fire chief urges anyone who knows anything about the fires to contact the fire department.
THE ISSUES IN THIS SECTION WILL INCLUDE A GROCERY STORE, CAMP SIMMS, OXON COVE, AND A CHARTER SCHOOL.
The Safeway store located at 645 Milwaukee Pl. SE, at MLK, Jr., Aye., closed in 1998. There have been discussions of several businesses buying the building.
Among the proposals are a grocery store, a charter school, a mini mall, expanding the Boys and Girls Club that is located behind the building, a drug treatment center, and an organization (Bread for the City).
A community meeting revealed that the majority of the residents want and need a grocery store there.
At this meeting it was discovered that the project, most likely, to go there would be a charter school. The charter school has already been approved by the school board; now they only need a location.
The Safeway learned that the charter school would need some type of bonding by the District government. It was at this time Seegars was informed by Safeway personnel that a buyer had given them money to open a grocery store, and had pulled out because of fear of the competition he would have if a mall were to be built as planned. The mall would be about a half a mile from the MLK., Jr. Ave. location, at the Camp Simms site.
Seegars contacted all parties involved and was able to talk to the potential buyer, Yong Yun. Yun, speaking through his attorney, said he was reinterested. He had one stipulation; he wanted a police substation in the building with him.
Comdr. Robinson said there would be no problem to put a police workstation in the store.
For the umpteenth time, there is another proposal to build at Camp Simms. At one time Camp Simms was an army base. The District bought the land several years ago.
There have been groups who have been interested in building a mall or homes, at this location.
In the past, there had been problems with the land. The Corp of Engineers has dug for munitions on several occasions. They are now saying they have all been removed. However, if a company begins to dig, the Corp would monitor the site. The Corp said there is lead in the land on the south side of Mississippi Ave., near the creek.
Kevin Williams, developer with Dominion Development, Inc., has the contract to build the mall. They plan to bring a large grocery chain and a multiplex movie theater. So hr. they have not been able to sign on either.
Department of Housing and Community Development has given them another extension, until May 17, 1999, in order to sign on the companies.
Their premature notice has caused others not to open at the old Safeway store site.
The location at Camp Simms is off the beaten path. To the east of Camp Simms is Parkland Apartments; to the south is Oxon Run, which includes a creek, a small wooded area and an open field; to the north is a public housing complex; and to the west is an elementary school, a nice apartment complex, a troubled apartment building and a Pepco site.
Within the next year, the Congress Heights Subway Station will be open, but it really will not enhance the area that much.
Oxon Cove is a 42-acre parcel of land owned by the National Park Service (NPS). To the north is the DC Impoundment Lot, to the south is Oxon Creek, to the east is the DC MD boundary line, and to the west is Interstate 295.
This parcel of land is unzoned and unimproved. Congress has directed NPS to do a land swap that will give this land to Corrections Corporations of America (CCA).
CCA wants to build a correctional facility to house low to medium security inmates.
The Sierra Club said it is parkland and should remain as such. They want a biker trail routed through the cove to connect with the trail on South Capital St.
The original plan was for a golf course.
The land is located at the southern most point of Ward Eight.
The following statement con be found on page nine of CCA's application to the Office of Zoning (As per the 1990 census)
In 1986, Mayor Marion Barry designated DC Village as one of three Economic Development Zones, for intensive development. In 1988, the City Council authorized tax abatements and other financial incentives in DC Village, Alabama Ave., and Anacostia Development Zones as the Economic Development Zone Incentives Amendment Act.
These zones are in Ward Eight and were selected because of high rates of poverty and unemployment.
Ward Eight has:
In Ward Eight there are close to 200 churches, 21 public schools, 2 small grocery stores (Murray's and Lee's Market), about 10 convenient stores, and 3 hospitals, including St. Elizabeth.
The Safeway closed last y ear, leaving the building up for sale. One of the first propositions for the vacant building was from Rehoboth Baptist Church, for a charter school.
Hearing this, many Ward Eight residents voiced strong objections. Every time a building becomes vacant, someone says a prayer, occupies the building, puts up a cross, and Sunday services begin.
As if the churches are not taking up enough of the prime properties, they want to take the only space in the ward that is large enough to operate a grocery store, to put a charter school.
A charter school does not have to comply with the red tape that the public schools do. They get dollar for dollar what a public school gets for each student.
They are exempt from most state and local laws, and regulations. They can operate as long as they adhere to the contract formed between them and the school board. To gain renewal, the charter school must prove that their students have gained the educational skills specified in the initial contract.
Charter schools select and hire their own personnel. determine their budget and school policies, contract goods and services, and lease or purchase facilities. Charter schools cannot charge tuition, teach religion, or discriminate in admission.
About a month ago, the new mayor, Tony Williams, had the bright idea, or someone gave him an idea, to move the entire University of the District of Columbia (UDC) to an unknown location east of the Anacostia River, and sell the site on Connecticut Ave.
He often calls every place east of the Anacostia River, Anacostia; however, the entire east of the river is not Anacostia. There are many subdivisions east of the Anacostia River.
The first group of people to form a committee to support the moving of UDC was Ward Seven, the Marshall Heights Community Development Corporation, 3939 Benning Rd., NE. This group invited members from each ward east of the river, six, seven and eight.
This newly formed group called themselves East of the River Citizens Coalition (ERCC).
To represent Ward Eight was Jephunneh Lawrence, Jim Taylor and Sandra "SS" Seegars.
Lawrence is a member of the Ward Seven Hillcrest Heights Civic Association, and he was a member of the original draft Tony Williams Committee, that comprised mainly of Ward Seven residents.
Taylor is a member of a Ward Eight civic association, Skyland Civic Association.
ERCC decided to go along with Williams, although they said a satellite campus would be just fine. Two days later they held a press conference. They included a few residents from wards six and eight, but the majority of the members were from Ward Seven.
Seegars did not want to go along with Williams, just because he was the mayor. Seegars and Cardell Shelton, Ward Eight activist, formed a group and named it, East of the River for UDC (ER for UDC). They pulled together a press conference, to get an overall view from a cross section of community entities. The conference was held a week after ERCC announced their position.
The press conference included people from east and west of the river, UDC Vice President Beverly Anderson, the president of, and members of the student body, residents, businesses, and organizations.
Not everyone at the press conference agreed. ER for UDC was interested in the ones who agreed with a satellite campus east of the river.
Seegars, Shelton, Anderson and Fred Bradley, Ward Six resident and contractor, got a guided tour of the west campus of St. Elizabeth, to identify a site for the satellite campus. The A building was ideal for the first set of classrooms.
About a week later ER for UDC held a meeting to discuss how to best sell the idea to Williams.
A week later Williams backed away from his notion of moving the entire school. Plus, he found out he could not sell it because it was a land grant institution.
Anderson has a meeting scheduled with the mayor's office, soon.
ONE PAGE AT A TIME WISHES A SPEEDY RECOVERY TO TYRONE BULLOCK, PRESIDENT OF ANACOSTIA BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION. HE SUFFERED A MASSIVE STROKE EARLIER THIS YEAR.
Mayor Williams proposes to provide health care coverage to thousands of uninsured District residents by reducing the city's subsidy to DC General Hospital and public clinics.
Sandy Allen, Ward 8 Council member, and chairperson of Human Services, thinks Williams's proposal will only hurt the underprivileged who have to use public health care.
Allen said, "What good does it do to give a person a health insurance card and then close the hospital in their neighborhood?"
Williams's proposal will allot $70 million to give health insurance to adults who have no children and not eligible for Medicaid, but their income is not more than double the poverty level.
Williams wants to reduce the subsidy to DC General by $22 million dollars in order to cover the health insurance.
Williams is only looking at the budget, he is not considering the people who will be affected by his decision to make cuts.
Williams' supporters agreed with him. Seven Council members who were at the hearing, and health care providers disagreed.
Williams kept saying the status quo is not acceptable. In making drastic changes, is he trying to upset the apple cart just for the sake of doing so, or is he really trying to improve conditions?
Shealia Tyson, Ward 4 resident, real estate broker/housing consultant, and activist, is trying to stop the City Council from passing legislation to permit the out of towners to benefit from Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP).
The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) proposes to change the residency requirement for HPAP to allow the participation of non District residents.
Tyson is appealing to the City Council not to approve the proposal.
AL WILLIAMS, FORMER ANC FOR 8E, HAS UNDERGONE KNEE SURGERY. HE IS ON THE MEND. ONE PAGE WISHES HIM A SPEEDY RECOVERY.
There is a big push to put meters in the District's taxicabs. Every few years the issue of meters comes about. This year it may happen.
Novell Sullivan, former Taxicab Commission Chairperson who was automatically dismissed when the new mayor was sworn in on January 2, has been attending all the Commission meetings this year that arc pertaining to meters.
There is a concern that something underhanded may be occurring between Sullivan and George Crawford, the acting chairperson.
The mayor is considering Sandra "SS" Seegars to an appointment on the Taxicab Commission. She is primarily against the meters because she believes there will be a greater opportunity for drivers to cheat the riders, by taking longer routes, taking routes with more traffic lights, taking routes with heavier traffic, or letting air out of their tires.
Seegars and many of the drivers she surveyed agreed about the meters. They said many riders who lived in the out skirts of wards five, six, seven and eight would not be able to afford a taxi ride because the metered rate would be too high.
There is a question as to whether the Commission properly held public hearings on the meters.
The City Council hearing on meters will be May 11.
Mayor Williams and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton are in favor of meters.
The major problems in Ward 8 are not being completely ignored. The at-large council members are lending a hand. However, the Council's voice is not as strong as the mayor's.
The at-large members who are lending a hand are:
CONGRATULATIONS GO OUT TO WARD I EIGHT RESIDENT VERA M.R. ABBOTT. MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS APPOINTED ABBOTT TO THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL BOARD.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ASSISTING WITH ANY OF THE TOPICS LISTED IN THIS ISSUE! CONTACT ONE PAGE AT A TIME, 202/561-6616.
There will be a self-defense class on Sat. June 5, at 2629 Douglass Rd. SE, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.
After Joyce Scott and Seegars confronted Comdr. Robinson about the problems the citizens were having with the police department; and Chief Ramsey about the removal of Robinson, Robinson invited them to attend the Seventh District Citizens Police Academy.
He wanted them to see situations from the police's point of view.
The academy is a three-month class held every Tuesday, from 6:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M., at the Seventh District. The facilitator is Sgt. M. Cook.
The class members are Phyllis Hill, Charles Ware, Eugene Davis, Willet Moore, Barbara Kemp, Norine Gorham, Erline Bradshaw, Arnita Shelton, Constance Thomas, Hope Etienne, Sherri Cook, Melissa Peebles and Seegars. Scott did not attend.
So far in the course of the class, there have been field trips to the chief's office, Public Information Office, Explosive Ordinance Division, Emergency Response Team, Communications, Firearm Division, Photography, and Central Cellblock.
There have been visits from the Seventh District Commander, Detectives and Officers, US Attorney Office, Grand Jury Section, Domestic Violence Division, Parole Office, Felony Section, Criminal Prosecution Office, Corporation Counsel and Crime Scene technicians.
The last day of class is May 18. Graduation is May 25.
The class is such a success that there will be more to come. If you are interested in taking the next class, call Sgt. Cook at 7D 202-645-0011.
There will be a background check done on enrollees.
THE ZONING BOARD WILL HOLD A SERIES OF PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE ZONING OF OXON COVE FOR A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY (PRISON). THE FIRST TO BE HELD ON MON. MAY 17, 99 1:00 P.M., AT THE DEPT. OF COMMERCE, 14TH ST. AND CONSTITUTION AVE., NW. THE SECOND HEARING WILL BE MON. MAY 24, 99 7 00 P.M. THE THIRD HEARING WILL BE THUR. MAY 27, 99 7:00 P.M.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT THE ZONING OFFICE, 202-727-6311.
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