All Politics is Local

Jefferson Memorial Dance Arrests Poorly Handled

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Poorly handled by the demonstrators, that is.

The above video splices together several perspectives on yesterday’s arrests at the Jefferson Memorial of Adam Kokesh and others who were there to demonstrate against restrictions on personal expression at the memorial site.

The BoingBoing crowd is making a lot of the way Kokesh is brought to the ground, which is a highly unfortunate distraction from the more important issue of “free speech zones” in modern America. You can skip forward into the video to about the 2:20 mark and see the two more physical arrests. The first is of an unidentified individual; the arrest starts out with little physicality until another individual runs in and attempts to pull the first man away from the officer. Both are taken down to the ground and restrained.

The third arrest is of Kokesh and starts around 3:00. Viewing from there and listening to the audio it’s clear that the officer first attempts to tell Kokesh to submit to arrest without touching him, then endeavors to turn him around and detain him. Kokesh ignores the requests, continues to walk away, then refuses to kneel. It’s at that point that the officer lifts him and throws him to the ground to restrain and arrest him.

The selectively edited highlight reelJames O’Keefe would be proud – doesn’t show the first man interfering with the other man’s arrest nor do you see the officer attempt to arrest Kokesh without violence. It’s hard to tell to what extent anyone is resisting against the officers once they’re prone; while they don’t get any limbs free it’s clear they were physically resisting before that point. They could be straining against the hold the officers have on they – it’s impossible to tell from the video.

I’m personally a big supporter of civil disobedience against unjust laws and I was all the way behind Kokesh and the others… till the second the officers attempted to arrest them. The law against peaceful non-disruptive demonstration is baloney, but it’s the current law of the land. Getting charged with it and fighting it – although this is pretty pointless since there’s already a case in play that may be further appealed above the circuit court level - is great, but resisting that arrest is not.

Changing the law and changing public opinion via non-violent demonstration and challenging the constitutionality of an arrest is fine, but the additional escalation in this circumstance is entirely on Kokesh and the other demonstrators. They had the opportunity to get arrested for that they believe in and show the world the status quo – the arrest of the couple gently swaying, for example, is a perfect demonstration of how silly this restriction is. Forcing the encounter to be violent by resisting arrest cheapens the whole thing and distracts from what should have been the core issue.

Kokesh and the others could have chosen to go limp and non-violently resist the arrest. Instead they made this mess. Too bad.

Adventures, All Politics is Local, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, News, People, The Daily Feed, The District

Help Find Lost Dog Sassafras

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It’s been 6 weeks since beagle-jack russell mix and kill shelter rescue, Sassafras, escaped from her daytime caretaker in the AdMo area. Since then, her family and dedicated volunteers have hung 2000+ posters, received 4500 phone calls, created a “Find Lost Beagle Sassafras” blog, posted numerous tweets, facebook entries and listserv entries, brought in two professional trackers, and united the DC dog community to help find Sassafras. As a result, there have been numerous reported sightings of Sass with the latest at Rock Creek Cemetery on May 11, but she has yet to be reunited with her family.

In their search to find Sass, the owners have uncovered both the positive and negative facts of recovering their dog, including:

1) The city department charged with disposing of dead animals, does not notify pet owners even if the dead animal has tags and other easy identification.

2) While many area shelters post pictures of animals brought to their shelters online, the DC shelter does not, even though they have the capability. Continue reading

All Politics is Local, The District, The Features

A Conversation with Eleanor Holmes Norton

Photo courtesy of
‘EHN @ Artomatic’
courtesy of ‘tbridge’

Last weekend Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sat down with We Love DC for conversation over a number of topics particularly  focusing on the recent federal budget negotiations and the resulting protests.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is still angry.  After weeks of negotiations between the White House and both Congressional Republicans and Democrats over the federal government budget narrowly averted a shutdown, Norton believes the District became a pawn in the negotiations with the inclusion of two policy riders in the budget agreement.  These riders banned the District from using local funds to provide abortions primarily for low-income residents and authorized the continuation of the school voucher program which helps pay for private school tuition.  “Congress is too busy messing with the DC code,” said Norton.

Continue reading

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Georgetown Waterfront Update

Photo courtesy of
‘Video: Scenes from around flooded Georgetown waterfront’
courtesy of ‘brownpau’

Despite yesterday’s fears, the 9pm high tide came and went without the Georgetown waterfront breach reaching K Street. As of 8:30am this morning, the Georgetown Waterfront is still completely shutdown with very, very limited access. The K Street side of the Waterfront is filled with emergency flood repair vehicles, workmen, Pepco vans, etc., all awaiting instructions from site surveyors. Local buildings continue to monitor their basements and lower level garages for flooding and seepage.

I managed to gain access to the 31st Street walkway that leads to the waterfront, and saw a heavily pumping Potomac river and the front side flooding. While the flood barricades along 31st street were all in tact, I could see where the waterfront walls leading into the fountain area had been breached. At that time the river was below fountain area level, and I could see some evidence of water being pumped out of the fountain pool back into the river.

All Politics is Local, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, News, The Daily Feed, The District

Union Station Birds Target New York

I was in Union Station this morning, waiting for a train and zoning off, when I noticed a striking difference between the Acela’s DC, Philly, NYC and Boston overhead posters. While all the posters feature a stylized Acela train speeding through each city’s unique skyline and all hang from the rafters in very similar positions, the New York City poster was the only one covered in bird poop, especially towards the bottom of the poster.

Upon noticing this difference, I began looking for some simple explanation for this avian vandalism. Perhaps the NYC poster was simply, and unfortunately, hanging in an already popular bird hang out? No. No birds insight. Perhaps the NYC poster featured some sort of bird attracting color? Nope. Posters were all fairly similar in color scheme.

After surveying the poster scene, I could come to no other conclusion then that the Union station pigeons, sparrows and starling clearly dislike Amtrak’s NYC Acela poster, and NY by association, and they have decided to express their 2nd amendment rights by strategically bombarding it with their poop. Case solved.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Report: Kwame Brown’s SUV is illegal, along with 41 others

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‘IMG_4631′
courtesy of ‘dbking’

The Committee on Public Works and Transportation, chaired by Council Member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), has completed the initial investigation into the District’s fleet management practices, launched as a response to the controversy surrounding Council Chair Kwame Brown’s city-provided, “fully loaded” Lincoln Navigator.

In 2002, the District passed a law forbidding the procurement of SUVs or any vehicle rated at less than 22 miles per gallon, unless it’s for emergency, security, rescue, or an armored vehicle. Since that time, the District has obtained 42 such prohibited vehicles, including the two involved in Navigatorgate.

The report, released this morning, also calls for additional investigation into who is driving these vehicles. Under District law, only the Mayor may have an on-staff driver, and any other assignment of District employees to act as chauffeurs must be approved in writing either by the Mayor or by the appropriate agency head, depending on the situation.

I encourage you to read the report for yourself; it’s only a few pages long, and is pretty hair-raising stuff when it gets to the part about how many vehicles remain unaccounted for.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Sulaimon Brown’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

Sulaimon

Don’t know who Sulaimon Brown is? That’s not a surprise. He was a Democratic Candidate for Mayor in this past summer’s mayoral primary with a penchant for speaking his mind about Adrian Fenty…and then telling everyone to vote for Vince Gray.

“Wait, what?” you say. Yeah, you heard right. He pushed for Vince Gray, despite appearing on the dais at debates and at other events as a candidate himself. I’m just as baffled as you.

It was revealed by the City Paper’s Alan Suderman, that along with Kwame Brown’s SUVs and the growing salaries in the Mayor’s office, Mr. Brown received an auditor’s position in the DC Department of Health Care Finance, making $110,000 per year.

This morning Brown was let go, and escorted by police out of the office of the DHCF by police after troubling remarks made during his termination arrangements.  Then he decided to show up for Mayor Gray’s afternoon press conference. That’s when things got hilarious. Continue reading

All Politics is Local, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, News, The District, The Features

DC Farm To School Network

Photo courtesy of
‘i fear school lunch’
courtesy of ‘amarino17′

Although I’m not THAT far out of high school, my memories of cafeteria lunches are fairly limited, which leads me to believe that the food served was…well…unmemorable. That is, it wasn’t good enough to be noteworthy and it wasn’t bad enough to be permanently seared into my mind. I have foggy images of square pizza, sloppy joes, grilled cheese, lasagna, and a salad bar which in the 1990s (and I’m dating myself) was a groundbreaking, yet sadly disappointing and unappetizing, addition.

Given my, and I’m supposing most people’s, middling school lunch experience, I was extremely inspired when I learned about the DC Farm to School Network, a coalition of advocates working to connect Washington, DC schools to local farmers to get more healthy, local foods into school cafeterias. With the ultimate goal to improve child health, reconnect students with where food comes from, provide health, food, and environmental education opportunities and support the local food economy. Continue reading

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed, The District

At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown considering At-Large run

Photo courtesy of
‘dc election day’
courtesy of ‘Paige Weaver’

Yes, you read that correctly.

D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown (I-at Large) is considering running for D.C. Council in the upcoming special election to fill Kwame Brown’s soon-to-be-vacant at-large seat. Brown, who was elected to the Council as an independent in 2008 has been itching to switch his party affiliation back to the Democratic party. Everyone in the world knows that Brown is actually a Democrat, and his father, the late Ron Brown worked for the Clinton Administration and served as chair of the DNC. Brown shed the (D) from his name two years ago to run for one of the two seats reserved for minority parties.

So what does this mean for the special election? If Michael A. Brown entered the race, he’d have a pretty strong advantage out of the gate. He’s got pretty strong name recognition across the city and has the advantage of incumbency. However, that ignores the fact that this entire maneuver is completely ridiculous, self-serving and most of all, absurd. If Brown were to win and “switch” seats, that would result in yet another special election, this time reserved for minority parties. That would also cost the city at least another $500,000. Money the city does not have. Continue reading

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

OCFO staff clueless at budget hearing

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‘one {red} cent’
courtesy of ‘christaki’

After over 100 people testified last night, and the council took its last break of the evening, Neil Albert, the City Administrator, and Gordon McDonald, the Deputy CFO took the stand to discuss the situation that the city is in regarding the $188M budget gap for FY2011.  To the frustration of the Council, McDonald and the 20 members of the OCFO staff in the room were unable to quickly and cogently sum up the changes that the OCFO had recommended.

Questions that went unanswered without significant delay included, “How many people in the OCFO were decreased in this budget?” and “What does it cost us to finance these transactions?”  As the hearing went on, the council grew more and more frustrated with the absence of answers, and more importantly, the absence of the CFO himself.  When asked as to the location of the CFO, McDonald replied that Mr. Gandhi had an engagement that he could not break due to the hastily scheduled hearing.

This might just be me, but if my job was having a meeting in my area of responsibility that required a deep and clear understanding of the subject at hand, I might try and rejuggle my life to be there.  Short of the wedding of an immediate offspring, I can’t think of what could possibly had such a hold over Gandhi.  The council was incredulous, as well.  Chair-Elect Kwame Brown lit into several staffers when they smiled and said they didn’t have the numbers, suggesting that they might want to be cleaning out their cubicles.  Of course, I suspect that many of them have already done so, not intending to return under the new administration, but last night’s performance in front of the council was absolutely shameful.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

Council Hearing becomes sparring match over tax increases

Photo courtesy of
‘Luc the Boxer’
courtesy of ‘mikecogh’

This morning’s budget gap hearing (live on Channel 13, if you want to watch on TV, or watch online) has seen testimony from many different groups protesting proposed cuts to their budgets, and some heated moments from the council. As Lydia DePillis of the City Paper notes, the sides are shaping up as follows: Michael A. Brown, Jim Graham, Tommy Wells and Harry Thomas vs. Jack Evans and David Catania. At issue once again appears to be the “Millionaire’s tax” designed to add progressive tax brackets above the District’s current $40,000 upper tax bracket, and to tax those brackets aggressively. This morning’s hearing has seen heated moments as groups like Jews United for Justice and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute have advocated for a 1% increase on those households who make more than $200,000 year.

Councilmember David Catania, returning to his Republican roots, is against tax increases for just some of those taxpayers in the District, and fought significantly against the testimony of JUFJ and DCFPI and questioned specifically their finance numbers, suggesting that their numbers were flawed and wouldn’t produce the $75M that they claimed. That got Councilmember Thomas’ goat, and he was quick to lash out without specifically naming Catania, he indicated a gentleman’s agreement had been previously struck concerning not questioning the witnesses and to let them speak. Councilmember Thomas was just short of shouting at Catania with regard to perceived disrespect for the JUFJ and DCFPI, and I would say that Mr. Catania was fairly brusque and prosecutorial with his questioning of those groups’ revenue numbers.

The hearing will continue probably well into the evening, so tune in and see what the city’s looking at cutting.

All Politics is Local, Business and Money, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Turkeys Missing at Barry’s Giveaway

Photo courtesy of
‘Jive Turkeys’
courtesy of ‘F1RSTBORN’

Early this morning, a throng of people showed up at Union Temple Baptist Church in Ward 8 to collect on their Marion Barry-sponsored turkey. And walked away empty-handed.

According to a press release from Barry’s office, the 2,000 promised turkeys were delayed in arriving this morning due to “Giant Grocery Store’s corporate inflexibility.” It seems that the corporate execs at Giant were not amiable to the idea of sending such a large amount of food without full payment from Barry’s office. The $26,000 was required in full by the grocery store chain before they would deliver the turkeys; Hizzoner’s office had only raised $17,000 of the required amount.

“First of all, I must apologize to the Ward 8 community for Giant’s failure to provide timely support to the Community. It’s simply pathetic and incomprehensible to me that a multi-billion dollar corporation, like Giant, would take a position that would deprive children, seniors and other adults of food for the Thanksgiving holiday”, Barry said in the press release. Continue reading

All Politics is Local, News, The Daily Feed

Vince Gray laments budget situation

Photo courtesy of
‘rainy tuesday’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

This morning’s speech by Mayor Elect Vincent Gray before the press was fairly somber in tone, thanks in part to the massive $181M gap in the FY 2011 budget, and the $345M gap in the FY 2012 budget.  Gray promised to keep tax increases off the table in the speech until such time as they’ve identified potential sources of waste in the current budget.

As Gray points out, out of the $5.3B total, less than a billion of that total can be considered even remotely discretionary.  $1.5B is related to fixed costs, debt service and things like Metro, and the rest is divided into four pools: salaries at DCPS/MPD/DCFEMS, salaries of District employees, Medicaid/Charter Schools, and everything else.

As part of identifying potential sources of savings, Gray is recommending that all capital projects that the city is considering, but hasn’t spent money on, be frozen until further notice. He’s also pulling for a blue ribbon commission to help manage the capital positions of the District.  We’re going to be calling this the Pabst Blue Ribbon Commission, given the subject, if you’ll pardon the joke.

If you’d like, you can review the Mayor Elect’s speech and budget supplemental numbers.

All Politics is Local, The Features

A Conversation about the TSA with Eleanor Holmes Norton

Photo courtesy of
‘tsa scanner’
courtesy of ‘silas216′

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton may not have a vote on the House floor, but she does serve on several powerful committees and subcommittees where the esteemed Delegate for the District of Columbia does have a vote and a good deal of clout.  One of those committees is the Transportation committee, on which she sits, and is also a member of the Aviation Subcommittee.  In addition, she serves as a member of the Homeland Security Committee which oversees the DHS and their sub agency, the Transportation Safety Agency.

The TSA has come under heavy fire in the past two weeks over the deployment of millimeter-wave and backscatter scanners which allow the TSA to peer through a passenger’s clothing and look for harmful objects.  Many object to these new imaging solutions as they can tend to be fairly graphic, (potentially NSFW) and have lead to mockery of genital size among TSA employees and assaults.

Yesterday, we had a few minutes to spend with the Congresswoman and asked her about these new scanners, and what she thought Congress might do.  The transcript is below the cut, but I can spoil it a bit: I was hoping for better from the Congresswoman.

Continue reading

All Politics is Local, The Features, WTF?!

A Modest Proposal for DCDSC

Photo courtesy of
‘Real World DC House’
courtesy of ‘TheGirlsNY’

With Kwame Brown’s At-Large city council seat vacating due to his move to the Council Chair’s office, the DC Democratic State Committee is in a rare position of power: they get to appoint his replacement to serve a shortened term.  At least a dozen people have picked up petitions to serve in this capacity, and the final choice rests with the DCDSC alone.

We have a modest proposal for DCDSC: make the contest a reality show.

The citywide general election for Brown’s final replacement is going to be an absolute circus, sure, but there’s no reason that DCDSC can’t make their replacement process just as fascinating for the public to watch, and at the same time, they can call attention to issues that are prevalent in the District and could use some nationwide exposure.  So here’s my proposal…

Continue reading

All Politics is Local, News, The Daily Feed

Committee of 100 to Gray: Fire Gabe Klein and Harriet Tregoning

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

Lydia DePillis from Washington City Paper this morning published a letter (and some very astute analysis) from the Committee of 100 to Mayor-Elect Gray asking him to please fire Gabe Klein and Harriet Tregoning and appoint new (and more friendly to them) leadership at DDOT and the District Office of Planning. Specifically, the C100 cite the loss of a Streetcar Grant (which wasn’t Klein’s fault) and Tregoning’s choice of input tolerance (which DePillis correctly identifies as meaning disregard for their input) and send the whole thing to Gray.

Now, here’s my two cents. It may be early in the transition, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gray make a clean sweep of Fenty appointees, rockstars like Gabe Klein included.  Klein’s Circulator buses are popular in the downtown-going crowd, but not across any of the bridges except those to Virginia, and his Streetcar program has raised the ire of one of Gray’s biggest allies, Marion Barry.  Gray can certainly use this letter like an excuse, and part ways with Klein and Tregoning, lose little political capital, and come away with a stronger ally in the Committee of 100, for what good that would be worth.

Personally? Klein has made DDOT a lot more visible to its residents, increased popular services, and added a bike-share program that has taken off.  While that means public transit has been the focus of DDOT instead of cars, it’s provided the opportunity to strengthen a part of DC that has been suffering for a long time, and in light of Metro’s recent suffering, that’s a necessary part.

Adventures, All Politics is Local, Business and Money, Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, News, The Daily Feed

MoCo To Serve Booze On Sundays

Photo courtesy of
‘LIQUOR at Kenny’s and Kovak’s…’
courtesy of ‘ellievanhoutte’

Before today, if you were looking to buy booze on a Sunday, then Montgomery County was not your friend as it tightly controlled the 24 county-owned liquor stores and prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

Now in an executive order from County Executive Ike Leggett, that  should pass today and will be in place by the end of November, county-owned liquor stores will be able to open for business on Sundays. This six-month trial has some estimating that the county will pull in an additional $2 million a year . Skol!

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TEAISM to be Carrotmobbed

Photo courtesy of
‘Every Food Fits: “What’s Up, Doc?”‘
courtesy of ‘staceyviera’

This Saturday, November 13th starting at 10am at TEAISM’s Penn Quarter location,  the Restaurant Opportunities Center of DC (ROCDC) is organizing DC’s first ever Carrotmob to promote paid sick days for DC restaurant workers.

You might say: “But Rebecca, what the heck is a carrotmob?” And up until 15 minutes ago, I would have responded “I have no clue. Perhaps a pack of redheads angrily waving orange vegetables?”  And, unsurprisingly, I’d be dead wrong.

In reality the term “Carrotmob” comes from the phase “use the carrot, not the stick,” and is a method of activism in which consumers use their buying power to reward businesses that take socially responsible actions.

The TEAISM mobbing is in response to the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, which passed two years ago and provides 3-7 days of paid sick/safe leave to many District workers. However, the law left out your server, waitress, waiter, and bartender, so they’ve been working (aka serving you) while they’re sick. Despite this TEAISM has gone above and beyond the call of duty and provides all their workers 5-7 sick days; They are indeed truly worthy of a good old fashioned carrotmobbing.

You can join the mobbing by visiting the Penn Quarter TEAISM this Saturday and by RSVPing at the event’s Facebook page.

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Slurpee Me!

Photo courtesy of
‘frozen treat’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Thanks to President Obama’s shout out last week, the 7-Eleven Slurpee truck brigade is en route from Dallas, TX to Washington, DC in what’s being billed as the “Slurpee Unity Tour 2010.” The trucks are making pit stops to hand out free samples of the newly launched, bi-partisan beverage “Purple for the People” flavor. The half red, half blue flavor will allow Americans to reach across the aisle and cast a vote for taste bud reform. Something we all know is much, much needed.

Today the trucks stop in Florissant, MO and Springfield IL. Tomorrow they’re headed to Chicago. You can track the trucks as they make their way here for the Slurpee Summit via the Slurpee Facebook page or on Twitter @slurpee #slurpeeunity.