Posts Tagged ‘anc


Veterans on the Avenue

It’s not unfamiliar to hear about one more shelter, warehouse, trash facility or group home being planted in Ward 5. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the first place these businesses chose to look. “Dumping ground” is how some residents describe the Ward.
Just recently, a developer bought the 1935 Tourist Home on Rhode Island Avenue NE (located at 2900 RIA NE) for only $800,000. That’s not a bad price for a building with 20 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, and approximately 7,740 square feet of living space. Except it’s not going to be a revitalized house with rented rooms for travelers or some nice affordable apartments or reasonably priced condo units. Instead, it’s going to be a homeless shelter for Veterans. The location is zoned R-1-B which permits matter of right development for single-family residential use. There will be 32 male residents at this proposed shelter. The maximum occupancy for this zone is 40.
The shelter will be operated by the nonprofit organization Veterans on the Rise (VOTR). VOTR’s mission “is to provide or assist Veteran’s in obtaining the treatment and support necessary for leading a healthy and productive life.” According to their website, they are funded by the Veterans Affairs Administration and numerous donations through individual donors.
Charles W. Avery is the Executive Director for VOTR. He attended the Single Member District 5A11 meeting along with the developer Dixon Oladele and the architect Martin Barnes to present the plans for the shelter. Unfortunately, the presenters were unprepared for the community meeting. A rendering of the building was presented but it did not show the height elevation compared to neighboring houses. The developers are planning to build a third floor on to the existing building. A plan of the interior space was also presented, but very few people were interested in living quarters. They were interested in VOTR’s programs, safety and crime prevention.
VOTR provides employment placement but with an 11 pm curfew there were doubts by many in attendance at the meeting that the residents at the shelter would be able to work at any late shift businesses. Also, the Veterans will not be housed at the shelter for more than 6 months. Many attendants of the meeting expressed concern about the transient nature of the shelter and the possibility of increased crime associated with them.
Mr. Avery explained that none of the residents at the shelter will be former criminals with violent pasts or pedophiles. Mr. Avery also explained during the meeting that 96% of the veterans who successfully complete the program move into permanent housing. Eight parking spaces will be provided for the staff and there will always be security on the premises. No families are allowed and all of the residents of the shelter must be sober and substance free.
So, what’s the big deal…well, Mr. Avery was willing to work with the neighbors so the shelter would be welcomed into the community. The developer on the other hand was mostly interested in getting the construction started and having tenants begin making lease payments. This didn’t go over very well with the Woodridge neighbors. The handouts we received provided information about the organization but it failed to provide detailed information about the proposed shelter at 2900 Rhode Island Avenue NE. The Woodridge residents were neither convinced nor satisfied with the inadequate presentation delivered by Mr. Avery, the developer and the architect; however, they decided to give it a second try with the community.

An informative meeting to provide refined insight and conception is scheduled for December 11th at 6:30 within the Friendship Public Charter School located at 2959 Carlton Avenue, NE. If any residents within the immediate area would like to express their support, opinions, or concerns, please feel free to attend.

Antonette E. Russell

ANC Commissioner-Elect


RIA Dream Team: Insider Endorsements for ANC

I think we can all agree that we know who’s running for President on November 6 but do you know who is running to represent you on the most local level that you can get? The Advisory Neighborhood Commission elections are also on the ballot on November 6. If you don’t know what an ANC is, click here before proceeding and take special note of the new ANC lines in Ward 5…you may not be in the same ANC next year as you are today.

So, now you know that your ANC Commissioner represents you on the most intimate details of your neighborhood and this ANC election is one that will impact you the most. Since these elections will allow us to select Commissioners within the newly drawn boundaries and several of these new ANC districts will be focused on the future of RIA NE, the Rhode Island Insider is proud to make the following endorsements. Each of these candidates have a firm commitment to a livable, walkable, and revitalized Rhode Island Ave NE and they represent a key section of RIA that needs strong and thoughtful leadership.


For ANC 5C01: The Insider endorses Antonette Russell.

Antonette Russell is a native Washingtonian who is dedicated to improving her neighborhood and being a committed public servant for the residents of the District of Columbia. Antonette is a former resident of Ward 6 where she served as an ANC Commissioner for the neighborhood that includes Barney Circle and Hill East (ANC 6B09). She began her community service as the Secretary of the Barney Circle Neighborhood Watch Association and then she became the President of the neighborhood group.

For more information, go to Antonette’s website here.


For ANC 5C02: The Insider endorses Karla Butler.

Karla Butler is a proud Ward 5 resident and homeowner in the Woodridge (Langdon) community.  Since purchasing her home in 2011, Karla has been extremely active in the community.  She believes everyone, new and old residents, carries the same vision for living in a vibrant area.  Not only has Karla attended meetings to voice concerns regarding issues in the Langdon community, she created a community newsletter, Hello! Neighbor, to inform residents on emerging and current events throughout Ward 5.

More information on Karla, go to her website here

For ANC 5C07: The Insider endorses Nolan Treadway.


Nolan Treadway is a lifelong Democrat who has lived within 3 blocks of Rhode Island Avenue since moving to DC to attend graduate school at American University. Since then, Nolan, and his wife, Joan, a PG County native and product of public schools, have become homeowners in the Woodridge neighborhood of Ward 5.

You can find more information about Nolan at his website here.



The candidates at their recent Meet and Greet at Lace on the Avenue


Woodridge Library Meeting on New Design

Last night, the Friends of the Woodridge Library held a meeting to review the draft model of the new Woodridge Library design and solicit feedback. Nolan Treadway, candidate for ANC, FoRIA Boardmember, and contributor to the Insider, was present and kept some good notes and pictures via his Twitter feed of the meeting… check out his notes here.


“Full confidence” of negligence at ANC5B

As reported in the recent edition of the Brookland Heartbeat, it appears that Ms. James, current chairperson of ANC5B, has “full confidence” in the Commissioner Smith-Daniels, the current Treasurer of 5B who admitted to not performing her duties that allowed then-Chair William Shelton to alledgedly steal $30,000. Yes, you read correctly, Ms. James has “full confidence” in negligence. But it doesn’t stop there.

Apparently, Ms. James is positioning her friend and confidant, Tony Dugger, to become the next paid person of ANC5B as its Executive Director. Ms. James and Mr. Dugger, I am told, wrote the job description for the position and Mr. Dugger is already “volunteering” his time for many of its duties. Ms. James is doing what any self-serving public official would do to ensure that there is conflict and non-transparency: surround herself with cronies.

That brings us to the current situation. ANC5B will soon have no money and NO OFFICE. Commissioner Bennett brought it to my attention that because of Ms. James’ behaviour at the Harbor Center, where the current ANC5B office is located (and where no one can gain access to), has given 5B a 30 day termination notice. Below is Mr. Bennett’s recollection of events, which has been echoed by Kathy Henderson on the Ward 5 listserve.

Denial of Access to ANC Office                                                      September 26, 2011


11:00am          I entered the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center lobby to gain access to ANC 5B’s office. I showed the staff person, Mr. Curry, at the security desk my ANC identification and told him that I wanted to go to the ANC office. I was informed that Regina James was in the office. Mr. Curry called the ANC office and then told me that Regina James said that she was not seeing anyone. I explained to Mr. Curry that I am an ANC Commissioner and wanted to into the ANC office.


11:10               Mr. Curry took my ANC identification back to the ANC office in order to present it to Ms. James.


11:15               Mr. Curry returned with my identification and again told me that Rgina James said that she is not seeing anyone. I asked Mr. Curry if he would contact Ms. Mary Lynn Logsdon, Executive Director of theSalvationArmyHarborLightCenter, or Mr. Robert Smith, Business Manger for the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center. Mr. Curry told me that they were not available and that he could not allow me access to the office because Ms. James said that she is not seeing anyone.


11:20               Patsey Staten ANC 5B’s staff person enters the building, signs in and proceeds to the ANC office. I asked Mr. Curry why Ms. Staten would be given access to the ANC office and not an ANC Commissioner. Mr. Curry went back to the ANC office.


11:26               Mr. Curry returned and told me that Regina James had instructed him that she is not seeing anyone. Mr. Curry said that Ms. James told him that if I create a disturbance to have me removed.


11:36               Ms. Logsdon enters the lobby and tells me that Regina James would be right out.


12:00pm          Ms. Logsdon returned and informed me that Regina James had called the police. I asked Ms. Logsdon why she had called the police Ms. Logsdon said she had no idea.


12:05               Four officers of the Metropolitan Police Department show up, Officer Stewart Badge #3677, Officer Rodgers Badge #2342, Officer Barber Badge #2212, Officer Stewart Badge #5777. Officer Stewart told me that I was not to talk to any of the other Officers but him. I asked him why the police had been summoned, he could not (or would not) give me an answer.


12:10               Regina James walks into the lobby of theHarborLightCenterand states that “the Councilmember (Harry Thomas) called” and that she “needed to be escorted to her car.” Ms. James walked out of the building. The Officers did not escort her to her car.


12:12               I called Ms. Logsdon and told her that Regina James had just left and I asked if I could enter the ANC office. Ms. Logsdon said absolutely.


12:13               Mr. Curry called Patsey Staten and told her that Regina James had left and that she needed to “come out here and deal with this.


12:15               I signed in. Mr. Curry told me that I had to wait for Ms. Staten.


12:20               Patsey Staten comes into the lobby. I asked her if I could go to the ANC office Ms. Staten said, “The office is not open. I am not in the office.”


12:23               I called Ms. Logsdon and told her that Patsey Staten would not allow me into the office and asked if she would allow me access. Ms. Logsdon told me that she could not do it and that, due to the reprehensible behavior displayed by Commissioner James and Ms. Patsey, she was going to be giving a thirty day notice for ANC 5B to vacate the premises. Ms. Logsdon told me that the Salvation Army had donated the space, computer and telephone and that they were not going to be involved with Commissioners denying access to other Commissioners.


I still have never been in the ANC office over the nine + months I have been an ANC Commissioner and I was Recording Secretary for ANC 5B until Wed. September 21, 2011. 

On September 21, the ANC5B removed Mr. Bennett from his role as Recording Secretary and gave no explanation why. Earlier comments from Ms. James and the apparent personal issues that Ms. James has taken with Mr. Bennett’s candor with the public of ANC5B dealings (which is called transparency, Ms. James), is the believed reason.
And now since ANC5B is without a Recording Secretary, they need to rush and get one voted in at a hastily called Special Meeting on Sept 30 to fill the position with someone who will most likely be another crony of hers that does not question her or procedure. Ms. James is creating her own little fiefdom at ANC5B. Will residents stand for it?
Below is Mr. Bennett’s version of events:

During ANC 5B’s Special Meeting, (held last week Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011), when the community residents asked why I was being removed as ANC 5B’s Recording Secretary, Commissioner Regina James told them that there did not have to be a reason.

I think the reason is very clear. More $$$.
Ironically, (sorry to romanticize), during ANC 5B’s meeting held September 1, 2011, the Treasurer, Pat Brown-Daniels, stood up in front of more than fifty people and announced that she had not seen 5B’s bank statements, did not write the financial reports and was not going to resign as treasurer.
There are major questions screaming to be answered regarding the expenses, purchases and management (or mismanagement) of ANC 5B’s public funds, far beyond the $30,000 that was stolen. The financial records of 5B paint an ogre of possible misappropriation that, in my opinion, has a much longer history.
  • Our staff assistant, (who has worked since January with no contract and says we owe her $5,450), signed her own time sheets. No one else ever signed them! ANC 5B paid her, on average, over $20,000 per year at $25.00 an hour; to answer telephones that most of the time did not ring, collect voicemail and mail, make copies and spend ANC 5B’s money.
  • In 2010 ANC 5B spent (staff assistant purchased) hundreds of dollars on office supplies from a company in Gaithersburg that sold us cases of soda at $15.00 apiece.
  • One Commissioner wrote checks to himself.
  • Etc., etc.
The ANC Security Trust Fund (STF) is a fund set up to give reinbursement to ANC’s when their money (public funds) is misappropriated.
Yesterday evening there was an STF hearing, at 5:30pm in Room 120 of the John Wilson, regarding ANC 5B’s request for reimbursement. Commissioners Pat Brown-Daniels, Regina James, Berneice Blacknell and myself testified in the presence of STF Board Members; D.C. Auditor Yolonda Branch, Atty. David Zevenyach, Cynthia Brock-Smith and Gottlieb Simon. There is a real prospect and possibilty that 5B may be reimbursed up to $16,000 from the STF!
ANC 5B currently owes an $8,000 ATT Blackberry bill, the highly questionable $5,450 mentioned above, and an assortment of smaller bills.
My belief is that, as a Commission, ANC 5B should seize the grand opportunity, (during this period of disaster and utter dysfunction), to inform, educate, unite and empower the people we serve. All  of the residents (or as many as possible) of our Commission should be involved with virtually every single move we make.
Transparency should be the order of the day; but in my opinion, too many of my fellow Commissioners would rather stick their head further in the sand from fear; or act as puppets, instead of upholding the law and being the leaders they took an oath to be. 

ANC 5B faces a serious dilemma; the continuation of a damning culture of laziness, irresponsibility and false sense of entitlement. We really need the people’s help.
Consider that, as a Commission, we have not vetted nor interviewed Mr. Tony Dugger! Regina James announced Mr. Dugger at the September 1, 2011, as her volunteer; yet James and Dugger have taken it upon themselves to create and publicly announce a brand new PAID position of ANC 5B “Executive Director”. Now James, (without Commission approval), tells Mr. Dugger that he can take the Commission’s reponsibilty for notifying the almost 24,000 residents of 5B.
If Tony Dugger gets the job he wrote, wouldn’t that be considered a conflict of interest for Regina James? 

Guest Commentary: Backstabbing, Squabbling, and Utter Denial – What Else Would We Expect From ANC 5B?

Transparency was the word of the evening, rolling several times off of the newly elected commission chair Regina James’ tongue as she and other commissioners attempted to breeze past the financial scandal and hide a maneuver to oust one of their fellow council members. The constituents clamored for resignations and explanations, citing the financial scandals as only the tip of the iceberg in the ways in which the commission has failed the people. The overwhelming response from the commission was hostility and refusal to accept blame.

 In the spirit of ANC 5B ambiguity, the commission could do no more than plead ignorance and provide dodgy answers when confronted. In regard to the recent financial scandal brought on by former commissioner Chair William Shelton, the only consistent response was that the commission had simply been too trusting and that they too had been betrayed, which she cited this as being akin to a spousal betrayal. Ms. James also could not provide one concrete reason as to why she and others felt that Commissioner Bennett was not fit to serve as recording secretary (Commissioner James motioned to call a special meeting to review quarterly reports, which were not prepared. When pressed by Commissioner Bennett on the agenda, only then did she admit that they would also be reviewing a commissioner’s service in office. Additional prompting led James to name Bennett as the person to be reviewed for removal from office. How’s that for transparent?), even though there was no mention of removing the commissioner, Treasurer Patricia Daniels-Brown, for her very concrete failure to notice $30,000 disappearing from the ANC 5B account. According to Ms. James, there were “issues they felt inappropriate” in regard to Mr. Bennett, and it was “taxing” on the commission. The meeting continued in this fashion as she also railroaded through her agenda, ignored public request for clarification on business matters (e.g., refusal to read aloud an ANC letter of request for money) and a mad motion after motion without providing any detail to the public regarding the business being conducted. (editor’s note: The commission disregarded Robert’s Rules of Order, the governing system of conducting public meetings, which would have allowed public comment on new business motions brought before a vote.)

 Just as the intensity of the public sentiment reached a boiling point, the citizens in the audience were finally allowed to comment on the ongoing scandal and abuse of power by the commission. The commission’s reaction was at times, less than respectable. One commissioner replied to a citizen’s comment with something to the effect of, “who are you to tell me that I belong in my position?” Commissioner James’ knee jerk reaction was to motion for dismissal when at least half dozen constituents still had not been heard. At least one commissioner had the decency to make a plea for the people and shame the rest of the commission into agreeing to hear additional comments.

 The conclusion of the meeting was no disappointment. In an attempt to clear her name, Daniels-Brown made a clueless and inept statement that because she is a reverend (irrelevant), she would not and did not steal money. She then admitted that she did not prepare one quarterly report since January because she “didn’t have time.” What Daniels-Brown and most of other commissioners ultimately failed to grasp is that that the people clearly asked those commissioners who failed to do their jobs to step down.

 In all fairness, some of the commissioners were less vocal than others and not all immediately jumped on the Ms. James’ bandwagon. However, if the rest of the commission doesn’t start reading their bylaws and standing up for their citizens, then they should enjoy their remaining time in office, because as one citizen put it, “the ANC 5B commission got off easy tonight”.

 Note: The special-but PUBLIC-meeting to review quarterly reports and to review the recording secretary Vaughn Bennett’s position will be held either September 14th or 15th. Plan on attending. If it’s anything like the September 1st meeting, you won’t forget it.

Editors Note: The above commentary was written by a resident of ANC5B who attended the commission’s meeting on Sept 1, 2011. It is apparent that the commission made no efforts to be open and transparent at this meeting and Regina James’ attempt to oust a fellow commissioner because he has opposing views on how the commission’s business should be run (according to bylaws and rules, no less) shows that as a leader, Ms. James fails miserably. A lesson in leadership is being able to accept differing views and negotiate to a compormise. This is lost on the new Chairperson of the commission. I wanted to thank Commissioner Davis for her resignation and service, as she gave her 30-day notice to step down. For anyone’s interest:


Corruption with the ANC5B…anyone surprised? (Part 1)

Some news is many times swept under the rug but ANC Commissioner Vaughn Bennett is trying to pull that rug up. As many already know, ANC5B has been under investigation for some alleged wrong doing in regards to its finances. Back in June, News Channel 9 broke a story about the misappropriation of nearly $30,000 of the city funds from the ANC. This story came a week after Councilmember Thomas’ own issues with campaign funds (ANC5B is in Ward 5). The allegations say that the money was taken from the ANC bank accounts through an ATM card in Chairman William Shelton’s name over a 8 month period. This coincides with Shelton’s loss of employment 6 months prior. The money was spent on a car note (Lexus, which Shelton drives), Bloomingdales, and other retail locations. Click the picture or here to see the news segment.

After this story broke, William Shelton and deputy chair of the ANC resigned leaving a power vacuum at the ANC. It appears that the DC Government has ordered the ANC to get its affairs in order, including what to do with the ANC5B staff person, who alleges that the ANC owes her more than $5,000 for her services. It is unclear at this point as to her involvement in the misappropriations of funds. Regina James, a Commissioner on the ANC, held an ad-hoc meeting on Sept 1 that another commissioner, Vaughn Bennett, cried foul over saying that the public was not properly notified. Another source has claimed that the commission is trying to let this issue settle in hopes of it going away, saying that the ANC commission has operated as a “good ‘ole boys and girls club” by a small group of people.

Vaughn Bennett is holding an “Emergency ANC5B04″ meeting on Monday, August 22 from 7-9pm at the Woodridge Public Library (1901 Hamlin Street NE). He recently put fliers on the doors in his Single Member District with the intended agenda:

A critical discussion and update on the status of ANC 5B.

  • Did you know that that (sic) over $30,000 was stolen from ANC 5B, and that we have $7.00 in the bank?
  • What are the responsibilities of an ANC? “Each Advisory Neighborhood Commission (“Commission”) may advise the Council of the District of Columbia, the Mayor and each executive agency, and all independent agencies, boards and commissions of the government of the District of Columbia with respect to all proposed matters of District government policy…”
  • What are the responsibilities of a SMD (5B04) Commissioner? To be the eyes ears and mouth of the people. We are on the same team!
  • Did you know that ANC Commissioners do not get paid?
  • Did you know that ANC 5B has an office that only one Commissioner (out of 12) has access to?

I think there are a lot of unanswered questions going on with our ANC. How can we expect anything to move forward in our community when our own ANC is misappropriating monies, cannot work together, and does not keep the public THEY SERVE involved?

In my opinion, it is time that the entire ANC step down and allow new leaders help bring dignity back (or for the first time) to our community.


Proper Redevelopment Takes You to Demand It

The Neighborhood Commercial (NC) Overlay District is established to preserve and enhance neighborhood shopping areas, by providing the scale of development and range of uses that are appropriate for neighborhood shopping and services.

Since May of this year, the Council as a Whole enacted the small area plan for Rhode Island Ave NE, setting forth a process of encouraging redevelopment. I am sure we all understand that this process will take time but in the meantime, what is the type of development that should go to the RIA corridor, especially the “Main Street” area between 18th and 24th Streets? This is largely unknown at this point.

One major issue, right now, is that there are more than two dozen store-front churches occupying commercial spaces in a very small segment of RIA. This doesn’t benefit a cash-strapped City since it is losing an opportunity to get taxes from these commercial spaces (in fact, many of the churches are not even registered with the City). The community doesn’t get a benefit because the store front churches are rented, generally, by Maryland residents and its participants are from Maryland. To add on to this problem, another property along RIA has recently been purchased for yet another church. It is about time that residents start taking action to move RIA in the direction of redevelopment that we want.

So why not a Neighborhood Commerical Overlay District for RIA? 

According to Municipal regulations, the purposes of the NC Overlay District are to:

 (a)  Encourage a scale of development, a mixture of building uses, and other attributes, such as safe and efficient conditions for pedestrian and vehicular movement, all of which will be as generally required by the Comprehensive Plan;

 (b)  Encourage retention and establishment of a variety of retail, entertainment, and personal service establishments, predominantly in a continuous pattern at ground level, so as to meet the needs of the surrounding area’s residents, workers, and visitors; and

 (c)  Limit the maximum permitted height of new buildings so as to encourage a general compatibility in scale between new and older buildings.

Many areas around the City that has seen positive redevelopment have a Neighborhood Commercial Overlay District. These areas include Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, H Street, Takoma, and Eight Street. 

Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr was not opposed to an overlay district that will allow residents and planners to have input on the zoning and uses. In fact, he responded during an interview with this blog earlier this year that he is “happy to work with residents and Office of Planning staff to investigate whether a commercial overlay district would be beneficial for Rhode Island Avenue between 18th and 24th Streets. If such a district would help advance redevelopment of the corridor, I will of course support it.”

Perhaps it is time we hold him to his word? Perhaps our local ANC could step up and lead this charge?

WHAT CAN WE DO? One suggestion would be for residents to create and organize behind a single community group focused on the redevelopment of RIA. In fact, the City was looking for such an organization to serve on its committee when reviewing the small area plan. Perhaps Vaughn Bennett or another member of the ANC could work on an overlay plan? Perhaps he could plan a meeting with a planning official?

To read more on Neighborhood Commercial Overlay districts, click HERE.

To read more on the Rhode Island Ave Small Area Plan, click HERE.

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