Before the ANCs

Everyso often I see on other blogs commentary about the ANC system here in the District. Suggestions on how to improve them varies, but I wanted to share something, which may or may not add to the discussion. The ANC system came about after Home Rule in the 70s and are in line with the Ward system. Before Home Rule there were the civic (black) and the citizen (white) neighborhood associations that would advocate for city services.
I noticed, when poking around in early 20th century DC history, some associations’ borders kept changing or had proposed changes due to population changes or other reasons. In 1925 the North Washington merged with the North Capitol and Eckington Citizens Asssociations to become the North Capitol Society. The reason was the two groups tended to overlap and replicate each others work.
Even after the ANC system, there were changes in size and number. The system that was put in place in 1974-1976 does not look the same as the one we have today. So changes can be made, because they have been made.

How not to run a green campaign

I walked home from work, and found DDOE’s Green.DC trash strewn all on my street’s sidewalk. Little door hangers like you see pictured, weren’t even on the fence. They were on the ground in front of the gate like someone didn’t even try. Later, walking around the neighborhood, I saw more of these things on other fences, on doorsteps, on security door gates, but not on any actual doors, as the items are designed to go on. More than often I saw them on the sidewalk, in the gutter, in treeboxes and in the streets.
And to date this witnessing, I had a continuous soundtrack of Micheal Jackson music playing from various houses along my route, as the King of Pop had just died a few hours ago. I swear yesterday/this morning someone (can’t remember who, PoP?) blogged about the “Green” trash littering the neighborhoods and someone from the DC government saying that was a mistake and they’d clean it up.
Maybe I could suggest to DC Green to just stop. You stop now, and don’t distribute anymore at this moment, you’ve cut down on trash by prevention. Then I suggest oh, an hour or two in training distributors on the finer points of the door notice. Note that it is supposed to go on a door. Not a fence. Not a gate. But a door. More specifically, a door handle. A door handle is the thing people use to open a door. I recommend the guy who distributes the Chinese carryout, which managed to make it to my mailbox. Though not correct, better than the sidewalk in front of my house.
Maybe the city can lead by example by not trashing my hood like a bunch of thuggy teenagers with a finished bag of Rap Snacks.


There is a fair amount of unhappiness on the Shaw Neighborhood Listserv. Part of me is a little detached as it’s over in Ward 2, Jack Evans Land, and I am over in Ward 5 (dang Ward system separating us from the rest of Shaw), so as a voter I don’t have Jack, I just got jack. But, Bundy is on the edge, close to the TC. I’ve not nothing useful to add but links.
DC Gov Responds on Bundy Parking Lot– from the BACA blog
One unhappy email on the Shaw Listserv, and a response from Jack Evans.

No surprise this happened as BACA had been surprised about the future use of the Cook School.

Dead cat

found in the rain, on the sidewalk at the corner of NJ and Q St on the Ward 2 side of the street, so don’t walk your dogs over there.

Yes, I called the city’s 311 number.
No, nobody answered because I found the tuxedo kitty after 4:30pm, when phone calls go straight to a machine.
Yes, I called animal control. They don’t do dead. I was told I should call DPW.
At this point, I gave up. I’ll file a report which someone will get to it when they get to it.

MAR Location Fun

The DC Goverment has given us a lovely toy, weeeee! The District of Columbia Master Adress Repository has a cool feature… pictures. I plugged in 424 Q Street NW, which is up for sale but has no picture. So in addition to the location information, there is a tiny thumbnail photo of the house in question. Click on the tumbnail and there is a larger pix. The one for 424 Q St NW has a guy hanging out in the front…. nice.
Hat tip to Imgoph of Bloomingdale (for now).

The Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings (BCIB)

Broken Windows
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

I was about to blog about horrendous vacancy rate taxation on houses that are not vacant. But one of the example houses was recategorized to normal…. now all the owners have to do is get their homestead exemption. But while poking around for info I came across the Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings.
I didn’t know there was such a board until I found a letter from a similar sounding agency in the personal papers of a landlady. In the 1930s & 40s the landlady had owned my house as well as several other properties in DC, and one townhouse on the 1700 block of 4th Street was in danger of being condemned by the city.
Since I hadn’t really heard of anything about the city condemnation agency, I just assumed it was one of those defunct city agencies, like dairy inspectors. But no. There is the BCIB, and they are under DCRA.

City Websites Compare and Contrast

I was asked for input on something DC related and to attempt to be fair in my expectations I looked at other cities’ and towns’ websites addressing similar issues. Looking at different cities sites on other urban topics of interests there are different things that pop out. Whether a city is good at communicating or addressing one or another thing through their web presence could be related to a whole host of things. Regardless, lets take a look.

I use DC.GOV for a lot of things, mainly looking up tax assessments. I tend to ignore most of the top and scroll down to “Popular Online Services” and “Online Services”. Why these aren’t closer to the top beats me. It seems the most popular things relate to cars, as in finding the DMV, paying parking tickets and locating a towed car. Those are the things the people want. The only thing near the top that I have any mild interest in is a reminder that the Mayor’s call center number is 311 and the location of free Wi-Fi hotspots.
What is at the top that is useful when I’m not looking at assessments are the tabs “DC Guide”, “Residents”, “Visitors” and such. This s where I go to take the long way to the DC Council, MPD, and other agencies I don’t visit often. There are sections under the umbrella of DC.GOV that I really like, others that have lots of room for improvement, and others that seem pointless. Instead of getting into those I want to move on to other city’s sites.

I have to admire the entrepreneurial spirit of the right hand frame of this site, labeled “Make a Payment”. This is a city that knows it can make money providing its citizens services. You can pay and view police reports and deeds. You can pay your water bill, gas bill, parking tickets, and pay your taxes by clicking a link on their homepage.
Also on the home page on the left hand side is “Help Me” which looks like “Help Us Help You.” Its links let you report a pothole, illegal activity, fraud, etc.

I had high expectations but this site has a whole lot of room for improvement, starting with the URL. What it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in simplicity.
Moving on.

Who knew the S.I. Ferry Schedule was in such demand? But it is, along with getting birth certificates, and paying your property taxes. Though not at the top, the most popular items don’t require scrolling to get to. Because I’ve been looking at individual NYC departments’ and agencies’ sites, the home page for the city government doesn’t even hint at how great those sites are. Like Chicago, the home page is a little bit of a let down.

Boston CityofBoston.Gov
Here students get their own friggin tab. The Student tab links you to city information you need to know if you’re a student moving to Boston. You can find out about housing, pets, what to do with your car, etc. In some ways the Boston site is simple and requires a good amount of scrolling, but the feeling I get from the site is, “Hi, I’m Bahstan and I’m here to help.”

Taxes don’t seem to be popular as I can’t find on the home page anything about tax assessments or property taxes. But you know what’s popular? The Live 911 Dispatch.

Lastly or this will be too long
Los Angeles
Hate it. Slow loading, and once it did load the characters were too small and the home page was too busy. Oh and look at that URL.

So far my favorite is Philly. Something about “Block Party Permit” on the home site that makes me think the city can be fun, and encourages the citizenry to organize a good time.

Inauguration Day in the TC part 4

We just… Just had a fender bender on the corner.
I called 911. Busy signal.
So. We have all these National Guardsmen all over the place, and they did make themselves useful. Upon not reaching 911, I run out of the house and ask them to make the call. When I headed back to the house, about 4-5 of them took control of the situation.
An hour or so before our block had a visit from the EMS. Seems a young visitor from one of the neighbors’ house needed to be taken to the hospital. So I guess they were able to get through earlier.
Just too much going on.

City Sponsored Murals

Ken’s Carryout Mural
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Shiloh Baptist has one on it’s child care center buildings, and there are a few more I’ve spotted around the hood. This is one on the corner of 4th and Florida Ave. It replaces faded mural that advertised Coca-Cola. Off on the side is a statement one can read whilst relieving oneself in the alley, about how it was a city sponsored project.

DC Archives Holdings, pt 2

See Part 1, and I take no responsibility for the accuracy of this catalog.
Mayor’s Office (and predecessor, the Board of Commissioners)
Minutes, Including orders, of the Commissioners. 1953-67
Records relating to executive session meetings of the Board of Commissioners(“Confidential Memorandum”), 1957-1966. (6 cu ft)
Photographic prints and negatives, slides, and other visual records from the Office of Communications and its successors, ca. 1946-1990. (22 cu ft)
General Correspondence of Mayor Walter E. Washington, 1967-1969. (18 cu ft)
Speeches of Mayor Marion Barry, 1979-1990. (12 cu ft)
Office files of Mayor Marion Barry, ca 1985-1990 (bulk) (2.74 cu ft)
Subject files of the Mayor’s Press Secretary, ca 1989-90. (4 cu ft)
Records of he 1978 & 1982 Mayoral Transition Committees; records of cabinet meetings, 1979-82; and “Pre-Policy” meetings, 1984-85; and Policy Discussion Group meetings, 1982. (9 cu ft)
Subject files of Mayor Walter Washington,, 1967-69 (ulk), 1961-70 (inclusive) (18 cu ft)
Subject files of Deputy Mayor Thomas Fletcher, 1967-69 (bulk), 1961-70. (inclusive). (17 cu ft)
“Chron files” Reading Files. Mayor’s Correspondence Unit, 1979-85. (8 cu ft)
Letters Received, Board of Commissioners, ca. 1908-28. 18 cu ft. [Estrays from the Letters Received in RG 351 in the National Archives]

Planning Office
Project files, re. to building the Convention Center, 1965-84; and correspondence and other records, 1985-87. (ca 13 cu ft)

Police Department
“May Day Report, 1971. (1.5 cu ft)