Washington, DC


Locations of Likely Human Trafficking Cases in the U.S. via Polaris

PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line.

Fully decriminalizing the sex trade in Washington, D.C. would increase the risk of sex trafficking
Brad Myles, CEO of Polaris

Proponents of legislation headed for hearing before the D.C. Council in mid-October would have you believe that the question of how to handle the sex trade in our city is a binary one: Either you decriminalize sex work, or you don’t. Period.

That’s no accident. Even the name of the bill – the “Community Safety and Health Amendment Act” – is designed to send this misleading message. The reality is far more complicated. This bill does not solely decriminalize sex work in an attempt to help keep people in prostitution safer. It also repeals crimes related to pimping, brothel-keeping, and sex buying, on the grounds that people in prostitution should not have their livelihoods interfered with in any way. In doing so, it increases the risk of sex trafficking for vulnerable people in the District.

Here’s the more complicated, honest version. The sex trade in DC is heterogeneous – a market ecosystem involving many different actors and impacting tens of thousands of lives. Some people are in the sex trade out of intentional choice. They exist, but it is a minority of the trade. Some of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our society are exploited in the sex trade, or get involved out of desperation and lack of other options. Read More

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1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

ANC6B10 Commissioner Denise Krepp is a resident of Hill East. PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line.

Ed. Note: The Post also published an editorial on this subject, ‘D.C. has gone too far on criminal-justice reform’

DC Council and Violent Crime

Over the weekend, The Washington Post published an article about legislation under review by the DC Council that enables individuals convicted of rape and murder to be released early from prison. Instead of helping rapists, DC Councilmembers should be asking why the Department of Justice isn’t prosecuting rapes occurring in Washington, DC; why millions of DC tax dollars are being spent on sexual harassment settlements; and why DC agency employees who commit sexual harassment are still employed.

Currently, DC law enables judges to reduce prison sentences for crimes committed by individuals under the age of 18. There are no disqualifying crimes. The law simply states that the individual must served 20 years in prison.

Until recently, judges reviewing petitions for early release were required to consider the nature of the crimes committed. The DC Council removed that requirement from the law in January 2019.

Now, the DC Council wants to expand the early release policy to individuals who committed crimes under the age of 25. And again, there is no limitation on crimes. An individual can commit rape and receive early release if that individual was under the age of 25 when the crime occured. Read More

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The following was written by Nina Yamanis1, Taryn Morrissey1, Lisa Bochey2, and Cristiana Little2 (1Faculty and 2students at American University.) “As accomplished professors and graduate students at American University, we have been collecting stories and data about the effects the re-certification process has on the immigrant population and on DC’s overall public health outcomes.”

“The DC Health Care Alliance is a model public insurance program. But its burdensome requirements cause many eligible residents – and their health – to lose out.

The DC Alliance is a Model

DC has a public health insurance program — the DC Health Care Alliance — its residents should largely be proud of. Since 2001, the Alliance has provided health insurance to low-income District residents not eligible for Medicaid, including many immigrants. But there is one glaring problem that should be a source of embarrassment.

It’s far too easy for people enrolled in the program to lose coverage, even while they’re still eligible. Every 6 months, Alliance beneficiaries must recertify their eligibility in person, typically standing in long lines at crowded service centers. For well-meaning reasons — because they have to work or care for children, for example — many cannot do this and lose coverage.

Last month, Ricardoa, an Alliance recipient for eleven years, took time from work to see a doctor about a mouth infection and learned his Alliance coverage had expired. Because he couldn’t miss work again, his infection worsened, and he ended up admitted to the hospital with a much more severe condition. Read More

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Dan Silverman: Citizen of the District of Columbia. Photo by Hugh Clarke

So as most people know by now Wawa opened their first D.C. location yesterday and there was a massive turnout. And there was a massive, predictable, “I don’t get it” counter-reaction. And the even more predictable – “it’s just gas station food.” But what pushed me over the edge was a twitter response from someone reacting to Jessica Sidman’s viral photo of the huge line inside:

“This is why DC is the worst city in the world, these hipsters think Wawa is some kind of authentic poor people thing and they want to be a part of it.”

No, no, no. NO. First of all we’re not even the worst city in the mid-Atlantic. Second of all look at the God damned photos – these people are not hipsters. If anything they are the opposite of hipsters. And third of all “authentic poor people thing”? What? Anyway it got me thinking how the anti reaction to anything popular in D.C. is so reflexive these days. Can we not just be happy for whatever reason for one half second?

People excited about a Nordstrom Rack opening? “You bastards, don’t you realize all that clothing is made in China.” Excited about a Sweetgreen opening? “You stupid lettuce fetishist – don’t you realize they are a chain now?” Excited about a Christmas pop up bar? Read More

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw

The following was written by by Robert Robinson Chair, DC Consumer Utility Board. PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line.

Ed. Note: DC Water has tweeted: “Each of our customers pays the Impervious Area Charge (IAC) on their bill. Here’s the history behind it.”

“For years DC’s Combined Water and Sewer (CSS) system spewed sewerage into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek during heavy storms or snowmelts.

For years, beginning in the 1980s, my DC water bills informed me that I was paying charges to replace the CSS.

I doubt that any of that work was done before 2005.

Now there’s hell to pay.

Low-, middle-, and fixed-income families, senior citizens, churches and nonprofit organizations, and small businesses are paying the lion’s share of the clean-up costs–with ever-rising water bills.

So, kudos to NBC4 Investigative Reporter Jodie Fleischer for for shining a light on DC Water rates that threaten to drive residents off of their property.

At the heart of the problem is D.C. Water’s $ 2.6 billion system to stop the Combined Sewer System’s overflows from contaminating the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek, by containing the effluent in a mammoth two-tunnel system and sending it to DC Water’s 153-acre Blue Plains wastewater treatment facility.

The system is funded by the Impervious Areas Charge (IAC) under a Clean Rivers Project created by a 2005 Consent Decree.

But why does St. Paul’s Rock Creek Parish Church cemetery — thick with trees and graves and few impervious roads — pay a $200,000 impervious Area Charge annually, comparable to the $209,000 paid by the Washington, DC Nationals Stadium?

It’s not like the cemetery’s dead are producing stormwater runoff, drinking water, showering, flushing toilets and doing laundry at the rate of a 44,000-seat stadium that operates 19 parking lots. Read More

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57 N Street, NW

“I am Bradley A. Thomas, Chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5E and the Commissioner who represents Single Member District 5E, the SMD which includes the unit block of N Street, NW, where the proposed new restaurant, Republic Cantina, seeks to open. For the past four days, I have been reading e-mail messages and comments on the Prince of Petworth blog [Ed. Note: To clear up any misunderstandings, since 2013 this website has been called PoPville as illustrated in the logo and URL.] regarding ANC5E’s protest of the application for a Class C liquor license recently filed by the proprietor of the prospective new restaurant. The comments I have read, in general, reflect a misunderstanding of both the process of an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) protest and the factual background pertinent to this particular application. In the course of my responsibilities as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, I don’t usually respond to blogs but in this case, since many of the comments have cast my colleagues on the Commission in what I believe is an unfairly harsh and demeaning light, I felt compelled to do so at this time. Read More

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motel
Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

Marc lives in NoMa. PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line and the neighborhood in which you reside.

The following is written testimony that has also been submitted to the Council of DC.

“Testimony Opposing the Anti-Airbnb Bill, 22-92. by Marc Gersen

I live and vote in Ward 6 and I host on Airbnb. I urge you to vote “no” on this bill. First, I will explain how the 15-day limit harms ordinary D.C. residents like me. Second, I suggest a more targeted approach to regulating short-term rentals. Don’t regulate natural persons sharing their own home. Instead, focus on large apartment rental buildings, which advertise entire units online. These are the real de facto hotels. Read More

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ward5 shelter rendering
Rendering of 1700 Rhode Island Ave, NE via DC Department of General Services

Henri Makembe is a ANC commissioner of SMD 5B03 and resides with his family in Brookland. When not conducting ANC business, he enjoys playing pick-up soccer and watching the English Premier League.

PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line.

My family and I are lucky enough to live in Brookland, but I know that this is not an opportunity available to everyone in our city. There is not enough affordable housing in the District. Family homelessness in DC is an acknowledged problem. And DC General is not an appropriate solution for families experiencing homelessness. Mayor Bowser is attempting to fix this problem by opening smaller housing facilities across the city. As many of you know, one of these facilities is slated to open in ANC 5B at 1700 Rhode Island Ave, NE.

Since the announcement of this plan, there has been a great deal of support for these smaller facilities as a way of combatting family homelessness.  Given the numerous reports of abuse at DC General and the tragic disappearance of Relisha Rudd, there is no doubt that the new facility will be a marked improvement for families currently residing at DC General. Advocates for people experiencing homelessness also agree that this proposed approach of smaller facilities, rather than one large shelter, will better support families.  As Councilmember Cheh shared in a letter to her constituents, “studies show that smaller shelters that allow for greater interaction between residents and staff make these traumatized individuals feel safer and more comfortable. And, as is true with healthcare and schools, the smaller the ratio between individuals and service-providers, the better people fare. And, finally, smaller sites mean greater potential for more community partners and non-profit relationships…Smaller shelters will allow us to diversify and take advantage of new and dynamic methods of providing human services..”

While canvassing our neighborhood to increase awareness about the proposed site, I have heard from many of our neighbors who are ready to welcome our new families with open arms. In fact, a couple of them shared their story of experiencing homelessness at some point of during their life. Others shared their experience hosting a relative going through a rough time with no roof over their head.  Many more shared their concerns about living paycheck to paycheck and reflected on the benefit of having such facilities for those who experience an emergency before that next payday. These stories made me proud to be a Brookland resident. As I said during  my campaign, Brookland has a history of community members coming together to support each other through good times and bad. After all, one of the reasons that we all chose Brookland as our home was due to the diverse, open community that we have worked to build.

However, since the location of the facility was announced, there also has been much discussion and criticism. Some of this criticism encompasses valid concerns about the height of the proposed facility, design aesthetics, parking, and a general lack community involvement in picking the site.

A more concerning undercurrent, however, are comments that reinforce the worst stereotypes about families experiencing homelessness. Some neighbors assert that a temporary housing facility for families will somehow lead to increased crime or plummeting property values. Others indicate the proposed location, near bus routes, grocery stores, a library, and park, is somehow unsuited for homeless families. Then there’s the false outrage about nearby liquor stores and a suggestion that families should use the alley to enter and exit the facility, so as to not increase neighborhood foot traffic.These types of comments do not represent Brookland. They do not represent the neighborhood we’ve built.

Let me be clear: DC’s rollout plan for the facility in our ward was not particularly well-executed. Read More

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me
Photo by PoPville flickr user Hugh Clarke

I’ve gotten a few emails lately asking me, nicely, to stop posting so many political posts. All I can say is that, no, I will not stop. I’ve been chronicling the happenings in the District for ten years now and elections have always been a big deal. For the most part I simply post what readers send me without personal commentary. And while I do try to be relatively impartial – this is not the Washington Post – it’s a neighborhood blog run by one guy who does have opinions.

Now, I’m not saying we’re facing 1933 all over again but I have seen that movie. I remember very well what happens even if this is a different version. So I will break impartiality for this and say publicly that I am an ally to those in DC who need an ally. Whether it is someone who faces intimidation, fear, harassment, whatever in the current climate – I am here for you. I will be your ally and I will amplify your story. Whoever you are. A woman, an immigrant, LGBTQ, Muslim – I will stand with you. That is my pledge. Believe me, I hope I don’t hear from you. I hope the fears and concerns of many do not continue to pan out. But if they do, and you live in the District of Columbia or the greater area – I am here and I have faith the greater PoPville community will support you. I can always be reached at [email protected] should you need to contact me.

text
from the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II

If I lose readership over this – so be it. I prefer to sleep well at night. Having said all that, I don’t plan on being a partisan hack either. I am not a politician and I don’t intend to become one. I’m just saying I’m not a robot either. It’s funny, honest to God, I’m consistently attacked by some far right nuts who accuse me of being a pinko commie and at the same time I’m consistently attacked by left wing wackos who accuse me of being a mini Trump. It never ceases to amaze me and make me laugh. Truth be told, which is obvious to many long time readers, for the most part I tend to associate with the words sang by the great Patterson Hood: “And all them politicians, they all lyin’ sacks of…”

And for those who do stay with me – fear not – coverage of restaurants, bars, real estate, pets, trees, transoms and all the other regular neighborhood news will continue with full force!

-Dan Silverman: Citizen of the District of Columbia

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