Monday, August 31, 2009

No One Saw This Coming? (Updated)

View Shootings & Select Crimes in a larger map

Another shooting, this one ends in murder, on 5th Street NW between N and O Streets NW. It is in precisely the same area of continuous shootings over the last two months. [UPDATE: The victim, Salim Hylton (right), formerly lived with his parents on the 400 Block of M Street NW. He was 27 years old and was living in Southeast when he visited the 2nd Northwest Coop. on Saturday. Salim was to have started a job as an teacher at a charter school this week.]

This particular block has an expensive police camera on each end that apparently yields no identification of shooters and a police cruiser or two that is almost always stationed there...waiting. Yet, the gang violence continues.

It is a sad end to a day that featured at least three block parties in the immediate area on the 1200 Block of 5th (2nd NW Coop) and 1400 Blocks of 5th (Shirley's Annual Block Party) and Shaw Community Day sponsored by the Third Street Church of God at the New Jersey/O Street (Dunbar) Park, and leading into the United House of Prayer's major annual event.

This killing comes on the heels of last Thursday's double stabbing of transgendered women on the 200 Block of Q Street NW with one dying of her injuries, and a report of automatic gunfire at 4am Friday night/Saturday morning at 9th and Q Streets NW with no injuries reported. Still fresh is the hail of bullets in which 2 youths were hit three weeks ago just around the corner from last night's murder on the corner of 5th and N Street NW.
----- Original Message -----
From: Kishter, Jacob (MPD)
Sent: Sun Aug 30 00:50:46 2009
Subject: Shooting

At approximately 1130 PM there was a shooting in the 1300 block of 5th St NW. The victim is an adult male. He was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

Anyone with information please contact the Metropolitan Police Department on 202-727-9099.

Jacob Kishter
Metropolitan Police Dept.
Third District Substation
750 Park Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Office: 202-576-8222
Cell: 202-528-8612

From: "Kishter, Jacob (MPD)"
Date: August 30, 2009 9:29:09 PM EDT
Subject: [MPD-3d] Re: Shooting


The gunshot victim from last night in the 1300 block of 5th St NW, has succumbed to his injuries and has been pronounced dead.

Anyone with information please contact the Metropolitan Police Department on 202-727-9099.

Inspector Jacob Kishter
Metropolitan Police Dept.
Third District Substation
750 Park Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Office: 202-576-8222
Cell: 202-528-8612

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Updated Shooting Stats

The Convention Center Community Association has upload new maps
of shots fired and calls for drug activity to its blog.

In case you missed it, the Convention Center Community Association has stats for sounds of gunshots and drug calls for the year to date on its blog. The accompanying maps show where the gunfire is concentrated, although it does not indicate the precise location as noted on my earlier posting.

According to the statistics, there is less gunfire in Ward 2 than any other Ward, by far, except for Ward 3. Gunfire in Ward 2 is 1/3 of that found in Wards 1, 4, and 6, 1/2 of that experienced in Ward 5, and 1/6 of Wards 7 and 8 (areas that may have more gunfire than Afghanistan). The difference is that gunfire in Ward 2 is heavily (perhaps, exclusively) concentrated in a single part of the Ward -- the northeast corner, i.e. Shaw.

UPDATE: Another murder over the weekend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great New Parks

Photos of the Chevy Chase Playground and Recreational Center. (Compare to 600 N Street NW Park). The camera phone, however, does not do the park justice.

One arriving at the Chevy Chase Playground and Recreation Center might think they'd died and gone to Montgomery County. A large wrap-around playground for kids with all the amenities. A ballfield in tip-top shape with netting, dugouts, and stadium seating. Two lit tennis courts and two lit basketball courts, which appear newly resurfaced. There's even a poop bag dispenser, demonstrating that kids, adults, and dogs happily co-exist.

But the park is on the D.C. side of the line, and it is managed by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (with the assistance of a "Friends of Chevy Chase Playground" group that donated the new playground equipment last year). DPR renovated the baseball diamond in March.

Tomorrow, as the Shaw community sits down with DPR to consider, yet again, plans for renovating the park on the 600 Block of N Street NW, consider the potential to make that park, as well as the Bundy Field/Lot and for New Jersey and O Street (Dunbar) Park, great!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo: Don't Give Me a Heart Attack!

Kosta, the owner of the Greek Deli on 19th Street between L & M means business. The place is so popular that the line of customers often goes out the door. The problem: air conditioning is costly. Kosta has posted a plea on his window: "My friends! Please keep the door closed before I have a heart attack!" Photo credit: Anonymous source who fears the wrath of the great Kosta.

Dogs Who Commute

A stray dog rides the Moscow metro to "work" downtown. Source:

Some lighthearted news to start your Friday. Earlier this week, Stephen Colbert mentioned this story (video).

Apparently, stray dogs in Moscow are known to take the subway from their suburban homes into the city each morning, where it is easier to get food, then travel home in the evenings. The dogs have lots of tricks for catching a meal. The videos accompanying the story are hilarious, including one of the K-9s learning to use the escalator.

The story is not exactly new. The Wall Street Journal covered the subway-taking, green-light crossing Moscow dogs, estimated at 26,000, in May 2008 and there's even a Russian website devoted to the fellas, which allows those of us with fading Russian language skills to practice translating the witty captions.

Given the string of bad news for Metro lately, some DC dogs might opt to bike to work.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Madison, I mean, Mount Vernon, Square Gardens?

The Washington Business Journal reported this week (via GreaterGreaterWashington and JDLand) that the owners of New York's Madison Square Garden are considering opening a 6,000 seat concert venue in Washington, D.C. Requirements: 100,000 square feet; must be near public transit and shopping. While the focus seems to be a potential location in the ballpark district, the Mount Vernon Square area is also said to be under close consideration. There is no official comment from the DC government or MSG, but discussions have been said to be ongoing for months.

Jonathan O'Connell of the WBJ makes some "educated guesses" about possible site in the Convention Center area:

Hines - CityCenter DC. The old convention center site will be the city's most high-end major development and has 111,460 square feet along New York Avenue between 9th and 11th Streets. Close to downtown, subway stations and dining options, it may be the most New York City-esque part of D.C.

The Wilkes Co. - Mount Vernon Place. Sandy Wilkes apparently met with the
MSG team and he is planning 2.2 million square feet of development two blocks
east of Mount Vernon Square. Not much further from the action.

Douglas Development - Mount Vernon Triangle. Ever since assembling 1.2 million square feet across from the convention center, Douglas Jemal has been pursuing an entertainment attraction.

Some critics say a location in Mount Vernon is too close to the 20,000 seat Verizon Center. Competition for the new MSG venue would more likely come from smaller venues, such as the 1,600-seat Warner Theatre downtown, the 3,702-seat DAR Constitution Hall in Foggy Bottom, and the DC-owned 1,200 seat Lincoln Theatre on U Street NW.

But can the Mount Vernon neighborhood comfortably sustain such a large venue?

As a member of the Residential Advisory Committee of CityCenter DC, I have not heard such a proposal even floated around. At this stage of the development, where groundbreaking on a portion of the site is theoretically around the corner, one would think that such a significant addition would need to be incorporated into the plan. The site might be conducive to the MSG venue, but it may be too late.

The Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association has met several times with Douglas Development (see June 2009 meeting notes, November 2008 post). They've promised a breathtaking entertainment venue, which would most likely have its entrance on Seventh and New York Avenue NW. They are so close -- they just can't disclose what it is yet. Could a 6,000 seat venue work on that site? My instinct is that while the neighborhood is very supportive of bringing life to that entire vacant square block of New York Avenue/7th/L Streets, a concert hall of that size might be too much to handle given the nearby Convention Center and proximity to the historic residential area.

Mount Vernon Place seems like the location to watch, though it is the greatest distance from a metro station (about 5 blocks from both the Gallery Place/Chinatown and Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center stops). Several condos and apartment buildings have opened in the "Triangle" area, such as the Sonata and Madrigal Lofts, but large semi-vacant surface parking lots continue to occupy a substantial area. Additional restaurants and retail will soon open along the 400 Block of K Street NW in CityVista. Otherwise, this portion of the neighborhood continues to lack streetlife.

Is Mount Vernon Place a viable site for the MSG arena? Are any of Mount Vernon locations? Or is the ballpark district a better option?

Another question -- is the DC government planning to subsidize this project ala ballpark or will MSG fully finance the project?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Franklin School: Plan Fails

The Franklin School, located at 13th & K Street NW, was designed by Adolph Cluss in 1869.
It is a National Historic Landmark. Photo:
army.arch on Flickr.
Plans to transform the Franklin School into a home for one or more charter schools have failed, according to a District government official.

The Franklin School, a historic landmark located in the heart of downtown, had most recently served as a 400-person men's homeless shelter. Mayor Fenty abruptly closed the shelter in September 2008, pledging to establish new transitional housing for the homeless and rely on smaller temporary emergency shelters, a noble and worthy goal. The Franklin School has remained vacant since that time.

City officials had long considered closing the shelter, restoring the Franklin School, and putting it to a private use, as discussed here. The historic school has a rich history, both architectually and from an educational standpoint.

The most recent plan, announced by the Office of Property Management on April 7, 2009, was to use the Franklin School to house one or more charter schools.
According to the city's Request for Offers (RFO), its goals for the reuse of the property included: (1) Providing space that could be leased or owned by public charter schools; (2) Where non-school functions are included, providing space that could be leased or owned by non-profit service providers; (3) Where non-school functions are included, creating new workforce / affordable housing opportunities for District residents; (4) promoting revitalization of District neighborhoods; (5) optimizing the unique amenities of each site (e.g., gymnasiums, cafeterias and multipurpose space); and (6) Where construction is proposed, promoting sustainable development practices.

The RFO provided qualified applicants (public charter schools) until May 5 to submit a proposal describing the program it would operate at the site, how it would redevelop the property, its experience with similar projects, and the private and public sources of funds it intends to use for any acquisition, construction, and ongoing maintenance and operational costs.

The Office of Property Management was to evaluate proposals between May and June.
According to a DC government official, however, the RFO closed and offerors were informed that no awards were made.
"There are no plans pending with respect to this property here at the Department of Real Estate Services," she noted.
No additional detail as to what organizations had applied for use of the space was provided.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which also manages dispositions of closed schools, may now hold the key to the future of the Franklin School.

That public charter schools were unable to make a convincing proposal for use of the Franklin School should come as no surprise. Although some upgrades were made to the Franklin School in recent years, the building needs substantial work before it can host a school or any other use. It's difficult to see where a public charter school would have the finances for such a massive undertaking, particularly in this economy.

Was the District's RFO a legitimate, good faith attempt to open the building for the use of charter schools or was it is just a step to putting the building up for private sale or lease? Were applicants required to meet an impossible standard? The District can now say, "we tried an educational use - it just was not possible" - or "there was a lack of interest."

There are other options. The Franklin School could become the flagship building of a new community college for the District. The college would open its doors onto Franklin Square Park, where one can envision students preparing for class. It would be a convenient location for students working a daytime job downtown who take classes in the evenings. Perhaps it could be incorporated into UDC's new community college program as a downtown campus.
Turning the building into a boutique hotel may have appeal, but this historic building should -- no, must be -- something more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SOLD: Whitman, Unit 610

Unit 630 is now under new ownership.

According to building residents, Joseph Honaker, who had rented his unit in The Whitman to anti-gay marriage leader Reverend Harry Jackson, has sold the property. The move closes a chapter for residents of the Convention Center condominium, many of whom were surprised to learn that the leader of the anti-marriage iniative claimed to live in their midst.

The arrangement facilitated Bishop Harry Jackson's ability to claim District residency and serve as the primary proponent of an initiative to reverse a D.C. law recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

According to documents we filed with the Board of Elections prompted by a Washington Blade investigation, Jackson owned 2 homes in Silver Spring, and he worked and voted in Maryland. Whitman residents, including those living in adjacent units, reported that they had not seen Jackson in the building or that he would only stop in occasionally. In addition, the rental agreement appeared to be in violation of condominium's bylaw that placed a cap on the number of units that could be rented in the building.

Honaker purchased the condo for $669,900 when the building first came online in May 2007. The recent sale price has not yet been reported.

Jackson traded his $3,700.00 per month (yes, that's what the lease says) one-bedroom unit at the Whitman for a posh new apartment located near National's Park, according to documents filed with the D.C. Board of Elections to maintain his voter registration. The month-to-month lease is a relative steal at $2,082 per month. In fact, the apartment has thrown in three months of free rent and parking.

Jackson states that he "moved into" the Whitman on April 10 and "moved out" by June 20. I guess he just packed up his petition and left. Reverend Jackson, we hardly knew you.

The "move was precipitated by Mr. Honaker's decision to resume living in the District and my concern for protecting my family from the threats prompted by my involvement with the recent Referendum Concerning the Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009," according to a letter to the registrar of voters filed by Jackson's Alliance Defense Fund attorney and an affidavit signed by Jackson.

But Honaker's sale confirms that he had no intention of moving back into his Whitman condo. Were Whitman residents so threatening to Reverend Jackson?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fixing Earmarks?

Aside from essentially placing his girlfriends on the payroll, the Mayor for Life gave thousands of dollars in earmarks to organizations connected to him in his Ward. According to a CityPaper investigation, Barry had a hand in creating and controlling the very organizations that received the money. In fact, some of the organizations were incorporated after they were slated to receive city money.

Barry made headlines because (1) he's Barry and (2) he’s brazen and blatant. Like Teflon, nothing seems to stick to the man. The fact is that many Councilmember use earmarks. Each year, millions of taxpayer dollars are given to politically-connected organizations. “Designated appropriations” are tucked away in budget legislation that the average citizen won’t be able to find. Usually, it is the Ward councilmember that inserts earmarks for organizations centered in his or her own ward.

There are legitimate questions as to what benefits some of these supposed one-time, no-bid grants produce for the taxpaying residents of the District.

Rest assured, Councilmembers benefit when re-election time arrives. Organizations whose programming or salaries are dependent on the cash infusion turn around and endorse the incumbent (unofficially through their individual leadership because they would jeopardize their tax exempt status should they do so as an organization), supply volunteers, and, in some cases, even hold lucrative fundraisers in support. For example, when I ran for the Ward 2 seat on the Council last year, I was shocked to find the Greater Washington Sports Alliance openly touting that it was hosting a VIP fundraiser for Councilmember Jack Evans because he had obtained a $500,000 earmark for the organization. Maybe that's not a quid pro quo, but it comes dangerously close.

During that period, which involved a similar surge in gang violence that we are experiencing now in Shaw, Mr. Evans held one of his “crime forums” At this one, he brought out the leadership of organizations such as Peaceoholics and the Alliance of Concerned Men to discuss their programs. (Peaceoholics received a $1 million for FY 2009 for anti-gang intervention and $500,000 in FY 2008 for mentoring). When residents plagued by gunfire despite the allocation of this money asked how this money was used, they were met with defensiveness and attacks from some members of the panel, and wholly nonresponsive answers. I've listed some of the crime-fighting, gang intervention-type organizations, but there are quite a few more. Would such money be better spent on more police officers, community college and vocational training, lengthening recreation center hours, or youth sports leagues?

Aside from anti-gang organizations, "big art" stands out as the other major recipient of earmark money in DC-- whether it's $10 million for Fords Theatre or millions to organizations such as the Washington Ballet and Washington Opera. The one-sentence explanations accompanying these outlays often states a purpose related to youth education and outreach. Who's against children? Well, given the amount we've been spending, taxpayers should expect DC's youth to be among the most cultured in the nation. Are they? Do deserving local artists and smaller organizations receive similar DC government support?

DC taxpayers have a right to be skeptical. When a Councilmember earmarks money for a nonprofit organization, he or she is essentially making a charitable contribution with your money. Only, you don't get a tax deduction and you don't have a choice in the matter.

I’m not ready to say we should eliminate all earmarks. There are truly worthy services provided by many of these organizations, who do their jobs well and better than the DC government could accomplish directly. Here are a few principles DC ought to consider:

1. Move toward more competitive grants. Earmarks, by their very nature, allocate money to politically connected organizations. Other groups, who may be more effective or in need of funds, may be overlooked. Give more organizations an opportunity to apply for funds for beneficial projects.

2. Transparency. Try finding the list of earmarks... I dare you. (Hint: you’ll need to go to the District’s Legislative Management Information System, find the final version of the annual Budget Support Act among other budget bills, make certain you have the approved final version of the bill, then find the 20 or so pages of earmarks tucked in the 150 or so page bill). If earmarks continue, the DC government should maintain a publicly available website listing:

  • each organization that receives a DC government grant;
  • the date of each allocation;
  • identify which councilmember sponsored the allocation;
  • explain, in detail, the purpose of the funds;
  • include a detailed budget for the funds;
  • provide contact information for the individual at the organization responsible for administering the funds;
  • include a record of each and every expenditure from the government allocation with an explanation; and
  • contain a link to a mandated report, filed by the organization at the end of the fiscal year, detailing the results achieved through the use of the earmark or grant money.
3. Accountability. The information provided on the DC website would provide citizens with the ability to better assess if their money is spent wisely. Organizations that do not show results should not be eligible for taxpayer funds in the future. Councilmembers who repeatedly give away our money to organizations based on politics instead of merit, should face consequences at the polls. The Council should also hold an annual oversight hearing related to the use of the previous year's earmarks.

I’d be interested in your perspective on this issue. How should the DC Council handle earmarks in the future?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Your Neighborhood Earmarks

Earmarks are now front and center in DC. They are the subject of Marion Barry's latest scandal. They are the target of legislators attempting to deal with a budget shortfall and the concern of nonprofits that rely upon them. Councilmember Mary Cheh has suggested a moratorium and Chairman Vincent Gray noted he might eliminate them completely so as to avoid favoritism.

Here are highlights of earmarks allocated to organizations that are either located in Ward 2 or that have programs serving the area. Later this week, I'll provide some thoughts on DC's earmarks and potential ways of improving the system.

[Note: Council rules adopted in January 2009 limited earmarks to $250,000, or $1 million for capital projects.]

Fiscal Year 2010

In FY 2010, proposed earmarks for nonprofit and arts organizations were included in the budget, many at the maximum level permitted ($1 million for capital improvements, $250,000 for other purposes), then slashed, then completely eliminated. I have not yet been able to confirm that all of those below are among the funds for social service and arts organizations that are gone, but you can see the amounts originally proposed and then the amounts after they were reduced.

  • Originally $1 million, reduced to $400,000, to the Phillips Collection for a capital grant for repairs and renovations.
  • Originally $1 million, reduced to $400,000, to the Washington Ballet to support facility modernization of a recently acquired structure.
  • $150,000 to Shaw Main Streets (not reduced).
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to the Friends of Kennedy Recreation Center to expand youth mentoring and community service programs at the Kennedy Recreation Center, to include a program by the Washington Chiefs to involve Shaw youth in sports and fitness programs, promote team building, teach healthy lifestyles, and promote leadership development.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to the Kennedy Center to support cultural programming, including free performances.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to Washington National Opera to support education and community programs for District youth.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to Washington Performing Arts to provide performing arts education programs serving District children.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to Safe Shores to provide additional support for operating the newly expanded DC Children’s Advocacy Center at the Bundy School.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to the DC Jewish Community Center to expand cultural and artistic programs and services as a neighborhood hub in Dupont Circle.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to Bread for the City.
  • Originally $250,000, reduced to $100,000, to DC Vote to support education, outreach, and advocacy efforts on District voting rights and related home rule issues.
  • $100,000 to the Mid-City Business Association ($60,000, reduced from proposed $150,000, for unspecified purposes, and a separate $40,000, reduced from proposed $100,000 to support its promotional and programmatic activities, including business promotional activities associated with the rebuilding of U Street).
  • Originally $100,000, reduced to $40,000, to the Alliance of Concerned Men.
  • Originally $100,000 reduced to $40,000, to the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce.

Fiscal Year 2009

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute has a full, easily readable list of the $64 million in earmarks to more than 150 organizations included in the FY 2009 budget. Some highlights are below.

  • $10 million to Ford’s Theatre Society for a capital project.$1 million for the Washington Ballet for capital fund for their new building.
  • $1 million to Peaceaholics for gang intervention and support for at-risk youth.
  • $1 million for the Lincoln Theatre for operating and capital expenses, including structural upgrades, among other purposes.
  • $600,000 to the Historic Society of Washington for support for services that preserve and commemorate the history of the District of Columbia.
  • $500,000 to the Greater Washington Sports Alliance for operational support, specifically for efforts to attract sporting events to the District.
  • $500,000 to the Washington National Opera from maintaining and expanding education programs.
  • $500,000 to D.C. Vote for operational support.
  • $200,000 to the Alliance of Concerned Men for community services to families and at-risk children.
  • $200,000 to “Cease Fire . . . Don’t Smoke the Brothers” for stopping gang violence with a special concentration for preventing “beefs” or disputes among troubled youth.
  • $100,000 to the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce for youth fashion vocational program and entrepreneurial fashion incubator.
  • $100,000 to the Chinatown Cultural Center to support the center that seeks to preserve and promote Chinatown and celebrate Chinese culture, history, language, and heritage.
  • $50,000 to Friends of Kennedy Playground for a capital project to include a water play area at the park and support for additional programming.

Fiscal Year 2008

  • $5 million to the Washington Ballet.
  • $1 million to the Washington Performing Arts Society.
  • $500,000 to Peaceoholics to support positive mentoring for youth.
  • $500,000 to Woolly Mammoth Theatre.
  • $500,000 to the Historical Society of Washington ($250,000 through Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development and $250,000 through Commission on the Arts and Humanities)
  • $300,000 to Cease Fire . . . Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters, Inc.
  • $300,000 to CityDance to support general operations, outreach, and education programs at Mt. Vernon Square.
  • $150,000 to Friends of Kennedy Playground.
  • $125,000 Chinatown Community Cultural Center.
  • $100,000 to Bread for the City.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Out of Control: Shaw Shootings Continue

View Shots Fired (Past 6 Weeks) and other reported crimes in a larger map

It sounded like firecrackers. That many shots, so close by, in such quick succession. It had to be some kid's leftover stash from July 4th.

I was on my way into my house after a late night of walking my dog and attempting to clear the grass that had slowly overtaken the brick sidewalk on my block, when I heard them. I jumped. As did the man turning the corner. He had the same reaction. Must have been fireworks.

Denial ended when one of the locals pounded on my door at 1:30am. By his account, two teens who were involved in no good were shot and killed. I checked the MPD listserve. According to Third District Commander George Kucik's 10:49pm post, "Members of the Third District are on the scene of a shooting in the 400 block of N St. NW. Two subjects were hit and are suffering non-fatal gunshot wounds to the leg and arm." So apparently, they'll survive.

A look at the map above puts this latest shooting into perspective. Over the past six weeks, the Shaw area has had at least 15 reports of shots fired, including tonight's hit, as well as an incident in which a suspect pulled a gun on a victim in neighborhood park, but ran away when he saw the police.

The police have been out in force. There is typically a squad car parked in front of my house (a few feet away from tonight's shooting) most nights and a good part of the day. I've seen officers walk the neighborhood a bit more often and even the occasional motorcycle or bike cop. MPD is also using "compliance checkpoints" in the immediate area. But it's obviously still not solving the problem. Just last week, Mayor Fenty signed his new crime bill just three blocks from these shootings with Attorney General Peter Nickles, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, and Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D Phillips by his side (video / press release).

What is the solution?

Well, first there needs to be good detective work to put these shooters away. We have police camera's mounted on these intersections. Have they helped identify shooters? Are they vigorously pursuing leads or is each report of shots fired only a momentary blip on the Shotspotter machine and, unless someone is hit, a non-crime? And this includes pursuing leads related to lower level crimes. For instances, I'm willing to bet that those involved in the shootings tonight have also been involved in uninvestigated car break-ins around the neighborhood.

Second, we need prosecutors who don't let killers slide. For example, Tony Randolph Hunter was beaten and
killed at 8th and N about a year ago on his way to Bebar. It was initially considered a hate crime and murder. But his attacker pulled "gay panic" defense (the attacker claimed he was defending himself against an advance from a gay guy who apparently, in Shaw no less, went up to the attacker and three others and grabbed the attacker sexually, then the victim died as a result of "hitting his head on the sidewalk" after an "altercation"). That's what the prosecutors apparently presented to the grand jury and the killer is charged with simple assault subject to a max of 180 days. We should give serious thought to electing our Attorney General and getting full local power over our prosecutors and courts.

Third, the city needs to make sure it is spending its public safety dollars wisely. That means requiring measurable progress and accountability when it gives
millions in grants and contracts to organizations such as Peaceaholics. Could those funds be better spent on youth sports leagues, extended recreation center hours, or job training programs?

Fourth, with respect to Shaw, the city has to take responsibility for the condition of the neighborhood. That means: (1) selling off DC owned vacant lots and houses (there are quite a few) and putting them into productive use; (2) strictly enforcing nuisance property laws and the higher vacant property tax, which might lead to new retail and housing; (3) renovating parks (such as those on the 600 Block of N and at
NJ/O); (4) improving infrastructure (i.e. grass overgrown sidewalks, utility issues); and (5) reducing the feeling of lawlessness or preferential treatment by more consistently enforcing the law. Instead, the DC Council is considering rolling back the vacant property tax. It is putting a social service agency with a 59-space surface parking lot at Bundy School
(located right in the midst of these shootings) rather than use the vacant property as an opportunity for a residential and recreational use, as envisioned by the its own still warm off-the-press Comprehensive Plan. Is there a plan and timeline for reopening Shaw Middle School or it add another vacant building to the neighborhood for the foreseeable future? Why didn't the city include a cafe in the new Watha T. Daniel Library to add vibrancy to the streetlife?

Fifth, the city has to stop repeating mistakes, such as not building out the Convention Center retail and lining up tenants before it opened. Don't be fooled into believing that major projects, such as the planned Convention Center hotel, spur development unless other issues are addressed before it arrives. Are tenants lined up for the new O Street Market project?

Sixth, the city ought to consider taking more aggressive legal action against the owners of the properties from which many of these shootings originate. Police officers are not and cannot be private security guards. They cannot routinely patrol private property (apartment buildings, coops), but must await a call for service or personally view suspicious activity. Years ago, after one too many shootings and known drug dealing, prosecutors brought a nuisance action against the owners of the apartments along the 1400 Block of R Street NW in Logan Circle. The litigation ultimately led to a settlement that required the owners to hire new/additional private security guards and evict problem tenants. It made a difference.

Finally, residents need to step up. Quite a few people know who is involved in the shooting. Start talking.