Monthly Archives: May 2018

An attack on one is an attack on all – Help DCist get up and running…

An attack on one is an attack on all – Help Dcist get up and running…

by Larry Janezich

When DCist was shut down last November by its owner Washingtonians lost an important source of community news.  News reports pointed out that the closure happened days after employees voted to unionize.  See WaPo story here:  https://wapo.st/2saROkK

Three public radio stations – including the local station WAMU – are helping to bring it back but they need assistance.  DCist has launched at Kickstarter page to raise $75,000 to get the site up and running.  For more information and to donate, see here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1685005597/lets-relaunch-dcist-together?ref=498376&token=6142aa5b

 

 

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New Player Says Eastern Market Is in Trouble – Releases Report on How to Save It

Ellen Opper-Weiner, President of Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corporation, releases a report on how to save Eastern Market.

Not everyone agreed the Market needs saving – pictured is Joe Snyder, an artist and street vendor whose business would suffer if one of the report’s recommendations – the opening of 7th Street to traffic on weekends – is implemented.

New Player Says Eastern Market Is in Trouble – Releases Report on How to Save It

By Larry Janezich

Last Tuesday morning, a new non-profit community organization – Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corporation (EMPDC) – held a news conference to release a report it commissioned from an expert in urban markets, listing a series of recommendations (see below) for saving Eastern Market as a food market.  The organization – currently with half a dozen or so members – is headed up by longtime community activist Ellen Opper-Weiner, who said, “The merchants and vendors at Eastern Market are an essential part of the Capitol Hill community.  Their businesses are being run into the ground by a bullying management who threatens retaliation when concerns are raised as opposed to addressing problems brought to its attention.  Eastern Market needs our support.”  A link to the group’s website and petition is here:  http://bit.ly/2s5vOsh

To that end, the group commissioned a study at a cost of $6,000 plus $2,100 in associated expenses, to bring in an outside expert – Aaron Zaretsky, executive director of Public Market Development, Inc., who the report states, has consulted on historic market operations for 40 years.  Zaretsky conducted 20 formal hour-long interviews with Eastern Market principals over four days in March of 2018, as well as “many informal discussions with a variety of tenants, residents and customers”.  Despite several attempts, he said, he was not able to interview current market management.

In related developments, at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) – established by the city to provide oversight and advice on the Market – Chairperson Donna Scheeder announced that $300,000 from the Eastern Market operating funds derived from Market revenues would be transferred to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to fund a long term strategic plan for the Market and its associated Special Use Area comprising the close-by streets and plazas where Market-related activities occur.  She also said that $25,000 would be transferred to the city’s budget to fund a security study anticipating the possible use of bollards to protect the Market and street vendors from vehicles on weekends.

At that meeting, Opper-Weiner told EMCAC about the new Eastern Market Preservation group and said they wanted to work with EMCAC for the benefit of the Market.  EMCAC board member Chuck Burger (who represents Capitol Hill’s micro Chamber of Commerce – CHAMPS – on EMCAC) said he had been interviewed for the report, and agreed with much of it.  “I don’t have a problem with the report”, he said, but was concerned that the public might confuse the new group with EMCAC given the similarity of the two groups’ logos.  He went on to say, “The report is a positive thing and should be put in the pool of ideas. “

The list of Zaretsky’s 29 recommendations – some of them new, some of them familiar, and some of them controversial include the following:

Immediately transfer management of the market to a temporary placeholder.

Contract Market management to a non-profit entity with a 12 member governing board with positions for market representatives, community representatives, and business experts, with designated seats for minority representation.

Open 7th Street and C Street to vehicular traffic seven days a week.

Move the weekend flea markets elsewhere.

Reconfigure the layout of the South Hall food merchants’ stalls and move refrigerated units to the basement to increase retail space.

Provide more special events and target programs for special populations such as ethnic food festivals and senior days with 10% off.

Strictly limit outside market vendors to artists and craft makers who create their own products.

Do not allow people who are not producers to sell at the market and do not allow real farmers to sell products such as oranges that are never locally produced.  Do not allow farmers who were grandfathered in 1997 to pass that right to their relatives.

Relocate the event functions of the North Hall to the Hill Center and fill the North Hall with complementary fresh food production and fresh food uses.

Fine any merchant or employee who parks on the street within two blocks of the Market.  Cancel all current tenant parking spaces in alleys or streets adjacent to the Market.

Efforts should be made to recruit additional African American vendors.

Provide fair, long term leases with Market tenants as soon as new management entity is formed.

Resist the temptation to offer uniformly upscale offerings.  Intentionally appeal to a racially and economically diverse customer mix.

The report states that the South Hall merchants (all but one were interviewed) were highly and universally critical of the current market management.  The report emphasizes that statute requires the city to contract with a nonprofit to manage the Market and that states that the market manager “should have experience operating an historic urban fresh food or farmers’ market”.  Asked for reaction to the report, representatives of South Hall merchants said they had not read the report and were uncertain whether merchants would take a position on the recommendations.

A link to the report with the complete list of issues and recommendations is here:  http://bit.ly/2kl0qS4

 

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Brick Lane Restaurant to Open on Barracks Row

The former home of Las Placitas on Barracks Row

Brick Lane Restaurant to Open on Barracks Row

By Larry Janezich

Brick Lane restaurant has applied for a liquor license for a new outlet located at 517 8th Street – the space formerly occupied by Las Placitas.  @Eat_DC  first reported the move on Twitter yesterday and a second source confirmed it.

The eatery will be Brick Lane’s second, their restaurant at 1636 17th Street, NW, opened in March of 2016.  The menu of that restaurant features a diverse selection of comfort food.  See their website, here:  http://bit.ly/2x5X1A0

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The Week Ahead…A New Player Enters the Battle over Eastern Market’s Future – See Tuesday

…and it looks like they’re starting to get serious over at the SE Safeway site.

The Week Ahead…A New Player Enters the Battle over Eastern Market’s Future – See Tuesday

By Larry Janezich

Monday, May 21

ANC 6A Transportation & Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm, Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street, NE. (ANC 6A is seeking volunteer committee members.)

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation from DDOT regarding progress of the 17th Street NE redesign project.

Consideration of ANC 6A recommendations regarding the C Street NE Rehabilitation project.

Request by On the Rocks (1242 H Street NE) to offer valet parking.

ANC 6A Community Outreach Committee meets at 7:00 pm at Eastern High School, Parent Center, 1700 East Capitol Street, NE. (Enter from East Capitol Street).

Among items on the draft agenda:

Committee Business

Tuesday, May 22

Representatives of the recently revived Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corporation – including President Ellen Opper-Weiner – will hold a press conference at 11:00 am on the plaza outside of Port City Java, corner of 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue, SE, to release a report: “DC’s Eastern Market: How to Save an Endangered Treasure”.  The group’s press release describes the report as “regarding the mismanagement of Eastern Market and solutions.”

Wednesday, May 23

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm, North Hall, Eastern Market, 225 7th Street, SE.

Among items on the draft agenda: 

Report from the Executive Committee

Update on Budget Matters

Market Managers Report

Tenant’s Council Report

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Touché Survivors Look to Open a New Restaurant on H Street & Dangerously Delicious Pies Expands

The former Kitty’s Saloon at 1208 H Street, NE, could become The Smokin’ Pig.

 

And Dangerously Delicious Pies at 1339 H Street, NE, is getting bigger and going later.

Touché Survivors Look to Open a New Restaurant on H Street & Dangerously Delicious Pies Expands

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, representatives of Cynthia Gibson, owner of the building which housed Touché – the troubled and now closed H Street supper club – announced a plan to open a new restaurant – The Smokin’ Pig – at 1208 H Street, formerly Kitty’s Saloon.  The plan involves transferring the Touché’s liquor license to the new location.  The announcement came at ANC6A’s Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee, chaired by Jay Williams, one of two cases on the Committee’s agenda.

The proposed Smokin’ Pig was described as a 50 seat, two floor casual restaurant with full bar.  There are no plans for live entertainment or outdoor seating.  The target date for opening is July 1.

During the meeting, Touché came under fire from committee members for ignoring ABRA laws and the Settlement Agreement for operations signed with ANC6A – despite pledges of Touché that it would be completely different from the notorious XII Lounge which preceded it.  On April 6, 2016, the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration held a hearing on ANC6A’s protest of Touché’s liquor license renewal for operating violation, but the license was renewed.  Touché closed after running afoul of the law at a December 23, 2017, event which apparently involved bartering and consumption of marijuana, which is prohibited in an establishment holding a liquor license.

Cynthia Gibson – who apparently holds the Touché liquor license – did not appear at the meeting, and committee members expressed their disappointment, saying they needed more assurances regarding the operation of the new restaurant and more answers about what happened at Touché.  The committee’s skepticism grew when Gibson’s representatives said that the kitchen manager and the bar manager from Touché would serve in those capacities at The Smokin’ Pig.

Williams told Gibson’s representatives, “I want you to succeed, but have to balance that with history.”  The Committee took no action, and told Gibson’s agents that they would like to hear from Ms. Gibson at the full ANC6A Committee meeting on June 14.  The Committee will then take up the matter at its next meeting on June 19 and the full Committee could act on any recommendation at its July meeting.

In the second case before the Committee, one of the co-owners of Dangerously Delicious Pies at 1339 H Street, NE, told the Committee that the company is in the process of building out the second floor and will apply for a full liquor license allowing them to serve liquor, beyond the beer and wine they now offer.  They are also planning a roof top summer garden, which will be shielded from residential neighbors by a hayloft which occupies the rear portion of their building  They also want to expand their Friday and Saturday operating hours from the current 11:00pm until 2:00am.  The Committee agreed to support a 12midnight closing on Friday and Saturday for three months and reconsider a request for later hours after that.  DDP is hoping to open the expansion for business in three weeks.

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The Week Ahead….

Looks like Sephora cosmetics has staked a claim on the prime retail spot in the Hine project.

The Week Ahead…

Monday, May 14

ANC6D meets at 7:00pm, 1104 4th Street, SW.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Public Safety Report- First District MPD (PSA 105 & PSA 106) Capt. Pulliam, Lt. Queen

Presentation:  DDOT Briefing on Nats Ballpark TOPP & Public Safety

Presentation:  250 M Street, SE, WC Smith, DDOT, DGS

Presentation:  Save Our Tips – Kevin Wrege

Presentation:  Crown Castle Wireless Communications Facilities – Adam Shapiro

Liquor license:  District Hardware, 730 Maine Avenue, SE: Amendment 1 to Settlement Agreement – additional inside hours

Letter from ANC6D to ABRA/ABC Board re: summer gardens & pedestrian/vehicular traffic 8:05 5 Min,

Letter from ANC6D to ABRA/ABC Board re: differences between CAs/Board Orders & licenses 8:10 5 Min.

Discussion: Wharf Phase 2 Adjustment

Letter to DDOT RE CSX Vibrations Report

Buzzard Point Letter

49 L Street, SE, Public Space Application:  Construction Permit

Update RE 325 & 425 M Street Parcels – Forest City

Tuesday, May 15

ANC6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE. 

Among items on the draft agenda:

Discussion of new establishment, Smokin’ Pig, 1208 H Street, NE, potential transfer of license from Touche, 1123 H Street, NE, and request for a stipulated license while the placard is pending.

Discussion of request by Dangerously Delicious Pies (1339 H Street NE, License No. ABRA-087422) for expansion to second floor with outdoor seating, and for a stipulated license while the placard is pending.

Wednesday, May 16

ANC6A Economic Development and Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm at Sherweed Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Emerald Street Historic District Design Guidelines:  Review of proposed new HPRB design guidelines for the Emerald Street Historic District.  Community feedback and discussion of any proposed changes.

220 14th Place, N.E. – Bureau of Zoning Adjustment Application for special exceptions to construct a rear addition to an existing nonconforming structure in the RF-1 Zone.

Thursday, May 17

Sector 2 (PSAs 104, 107, 108) Community Meeting at 7:00pm, place to be announced. 

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Mayor Bowser Launches Bike to School Day with Hundreds of Student Bikers– Photo Essay

Bowser Rallies with Hundreds of Student Bikers to Launch Bike to School Day – Photo Essay

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday morning, Mayor Muriel Bowser launched Bike to School Day at Lincoln Park in Hill East.  Several hundred students on bikes and scooters participated.  Built on the popularity of National Walk to School Day, National Bike to School Day was created to provide an opportunity for students across the nation to highlight the importance of safe, healthy transportation options, and biking safely to their learning institutions.

Master of Ceremonies CM Charles Allen arrives at the event via bicycle.

Mayor Bowser, introduced by CM Allen (at left), exhorts students to bike, but to bike safely.

Here’s the scene – circa 8:15am – looking north.

Here’s another angle a few minutes later, looking south.

Here’s a shot of eager bikers on the park’s north side jockeying for position to depart the ceremony.

Mayor Bowser and “This Is My Street” Banner, awaiting a phalanx for student bikers on the west side of the park.

A J.O. Wilson student biker about to break through…

and Breaking Away.

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The Week Ahead… Ebenezer Church Curb Cut Back before ANC6B on Tuesday 

700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Wednesday, April 25, circa 1:30pm.

The Week Ahead… Ebenezer Church Curb Cut Back before ANC6B on Tuesday 

by Larry Janezich

Monday, May 7

ANC 6C Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, Kaiser Permanente, 700 2nd Street, NE. 

Among items on the draft agenda:

Capitol Fine Wine & Spirits, 415 H St., NE, Renewal, Retailer’s Class “A”.

Schneider’s Liquor Co., Inc., 300 Massachusetts Ave., NE, Renewal, Retailer’s Class “A”.

Picantelli, LLC d/b/a The Ministry, 601 New Jersey Ave., NW, New License Application Retailer’s Class “C” Tavern.

Starlight, Inc. d/b/a Kogod Liquors 441 New Jersey Ave., NW, Renewal, Retailer’s Class “A”, plus Tasting Endorsement.

Sidamo Coffee and Tea, Inc., 417 H Street, NE, New License Application , Retailer’s Class “C” Restaurant.

Tuesday, May 8

ANC6B meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center. 

Among items on the draft agenda: 

Presentations:

PEPCO: update on major service upgrade work.

DC ballot initiative on tipped wages.

          Diana Ramirez: Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.Kevin Wrenge: Restaurant Association of Greater Washington.

          K&W Legacy, LLC, t/a Capitol Hill Wine & Spirits 323 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License plus Tasting Endorsement.

Ventura, LLC, t/a Albert’s Liquors, 328 Kentucky Avenue, SE, Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License.

RMG, Inc., t/a World Wine & Spirits, 1453 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License with a Tasting Endorsement.

AKB Enterprise, Inc., t/a Gandel’s Liquors, 211 Pennsylvania Ave SE; Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License with a Tasting Endorsement.

Bhuller’s Corporation, t/a JJ Mutt Wine & Spirits, 643 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License.

Hayden’s Inc. t/a Hayden’s, Inc., 700 North Carolina Avenue, SE, Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License.

B&) Liquors, Inc., t/a Chat’s Liquor, 503 8th Street, SE; Renewal of an existing Class A Retail License with a Tasting Endorsement.

Sefarer’s Yacht Club – Draft Boathouse Row and Anacostia Waterfront planning update

Public Space application for curb cut for Ebenezer Church cut.  (The Historic Preservation Review Board approved a curb cut for Ebenezer Church on February 22.  ANC6B has filed an appeal based on lack of consultation with the ANC.  In addition to HPRB approval, the developer also needs a public space permit to make the curb cut, and it is that application that is before the ANC.  Because the Economic Development and Zoning Committee did not meet in May, the application will be taken up by the full ANC.)  For additional background, see CHC post here:  http://bit.ly/2FEUe0j

Wednesday, May 9

ANC6C meets at 7:00pm, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Council Member Elissa Silverman, update.

310 E Street, NE – potential BZA appeal of permit, issued March 27, 2018.

1125 7th Street, NE – potential BZA appeal of permit, issued April 18, 2018.

Capitol Fine Wine and Spirits, 415 H Street NE, Class A license renewal.

Schneider’s Liquor, 300 Massachusetts Ave NE, Class A license renewal.

Kogod Lliqors, 441 New Jersey Avenue NE, Class A renewal plus Tasting.

New liquor license:  Sidamo Coffee and Tea, 417 H Street NE, new license.

Public Space permit:  Cava Grill, 523 H Street, NE, application for unenclosed sidewalk café.

Report on Union Station Expansion Project.

Update on Union Pub sidewalk café.

222 8th Street NE, Historic Preservation Application—concept approval for a rear addition.

732 4th Street NE, Historic Preservation Application —concept approval for rear and rooftop additions.

732 4th Street NE, Board of Zoning Adjustment application—special exception from lot occupancy requirements.

Thursday, May 10

ANC6A meets at 7:00pm, at Miner Elementary School, 601 15th Street, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Anthony Hall, Director, Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, Department of Behavioral Health.

ANC6A send a letter of support to BZA for a special exception to operate an animal boarding use in an existing building at 1371-1375 H Street, NE.

ANC6A send a letter of support to BZA for special exceptions to construct a two-story addition to an existing one-story rear addition to an attached principal dwelling unit at 121 Tennessee Avenue, NE, on condition that the applicant make best efforts to get signed letters of support from neighbors of 121 Tennessee Avenue, NE.

ANC6A send a letter of support to the Zoning Commission for Gallaudet University’s request to amend their 2012 Campus Plan to remove the Ballard North dormitory so that it can be demolished.

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Three Ward 6 City Council Candidates Are Grilled in Public Forum

The candidates prior to the beginning of the public forum. Moderator Andrew Lightman is at far left, then left to right: Michael Bekesha, Charles Allen, and Lisa Hunter.

More than 150 supporters turned out to hear their candidates. Not shown is the spillover room and those listening in the hallways.

Candidates react at the end of the forum.

Three Ward 6 City Council Candidates Are Grilled in Public Forum

by Larry Janezich

Three candidates – incumbent Charles Allen, Democratic challenger Lisa Hunter, and Republican Michael Bekesha – participated in Monday night’s forum.  According to Chuck Burger, Ward 6 Democrats chair, the Republican was included to make it a better and more interesting debate “rather than having two Democrats yelling at each other.”  Including the Republican candidate had the effect of diluting the participation of Hunter, who has been running to the left of Allen, supporting a roll back of council-passed corporate and estate tax cuts and spending the money on social programs.

More than 150 residents turned out for the forum held in the Hill Center.  The event was moderated by Hill Rag’s managing editor, Andrew Lightman.

Allen had the clear advantage, not only as incumbent but also from his record of the last four years as councilmember and current chairmanship of the city council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.   Hunter, while lacking Allen’s ability to rattle off accomplishments as a councilmember, proved herself a capable advocate for her candidacy.  Bekesha articulated a series of positions, finding much common ground with the other candidates on social issues while pushing a more conservative fiscal and small government agenda.

In their opening statements, Allen cited his long personal history in health care and Democratic politics and his “proven record.”  Hunter said the city was not doing enough to show leadership in education, housing, public safety and healthcare, and said that the incumbent was hand selected by a political machine “meant to keep people like me out.”  She staked a claim in the progressive movement, saying, “We’re progressive – we don’t leave neighbors behind.”  Bekesha made a case for cutting the size of the city government in order to handle residents’ concerns more efficiently and criticized the council’s current make up, citing “too much group-think … fewer ideas and less accountability” and the need for more diversity of thought.

Here’s what the candidates said on some of Ward 6’ top issues and those issues which most clearly distinguish them from each other.

What are the three top issues facing Ward 6, and what makes you uniquely qualified to solve them?

Allen:  Affordable housing, schools and education, and a living wage – Allen cited work undertaken and accomplishments he has already achieved in these areas.

Hunter:  Education, affordable housing, homelessness.  Hunter said she is the only candidate with classroom experience and recounted her experiences in interacting with the homeless.

Bekesha:  Public safety, housing/education, and accountability.  He offered support for putting more officers walking the beat, suggested subsidized housing in the city for teachers, and supported telling colleagues – like Jack Evans and Trayvon White – when they’re wrong.

What are your top three budget priorities and how would you pay for them?

Hunter:  Invest more in housing and homelessness (provide case managers for the homeless and access to city services) by reversing the city’s tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

Bekesha:  Provide more money to address the rat problem and congestion on roads, and redirect education money from the central office to students.  (Did not address how to pay for this.)

Allen:  Put more funds into housing, education – school modernization – and invest in non-car based ways to get around.  (Did not address how to pay for this.)

DC’s justice system is currently divided between the federal and DC governments.  Do you support making the justice system solely the city’s responsibility?

Hunter:  Would like to hear more from activists and stakeholders on this issue, but would initiate education reform to break the school-to-jail pipeline by providing support and technical training to keep kids out of jail.

Bekesha:  Before saying yes, we have to think about where we’re going to get the money to take over the justice system.  We should work with federal prosecutors to figure out what charges are going to be prosecuted and decriminalize those which are not.  He urged focusing on reforming the entire criminal justice system, claiming that one-third of those arrested are prosecuted.

Allen:  We should have complete control of the judicial system.  Currently, DC sends criminals to federal prisons across the country making re-entry problematic.  The shortage of judges has resulted in a backup in DC Jail.  The combination of federal and local justice systems couldn’t be a worse design.

What one thing about campaign financing would you change?

Allen:  Said he takes no donations from corporations, PACs, or LLCs.  He would get rid of the “Constituent Services Funds” which have turned into political slush funds – “I made sure I don’t have one.”   He said 90% of his contributions come from individuals and 80% come from Ward 6 neighbors.

Hunter:  Urged campaign finance reform and transparency and “making sure we address shady money.”  Said she would make sure we know where campaign contributions are coming from and require disclosure from those who lobby the city council.  Hunter went after Allen on the contribution issue, saying he claims not to take money from corporations but developers are allowed to contribute their individual maximum donation to his campaign.  (In rebuttal, Allen said he had led the way on disclosure of contributions from lobbyists and dismissed the notion that small businesses in Ward 6 could be categorized as corporations.}

Bekesha:  Said he would change the primary elections to non-partisan – everybody should vote in the primary – the top two vote getters would run in the general election.

What’s the proper role of public financing in private development?

Bekesha:  Make sure public funds go to things people need and want.

Allen: Use public resources to finance affordable housing, transportation, public space.  Leverage power of the city to help provide financing.  Make sure we hold developers accountable.

Hunter:  The city should get more bang for the buck.  The city is not doing enough to enforce local hiring or achieving goals regarding a living wage, affordable housing, and addressing displacement.

All three candidates oppose returning Washington’s football team to RFK and agree on the  closing of DC General Homeless Shelter.  All three support giving Attorney General Karl Racine authority to receive complaints and begin investigation of parents enrolling their children in DC schools illegally.  All three admitted to being card carrying members of the DC Public Library.

The three candidates will meet again at a public forum on June 5, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm at Westminster Presbyterian church, 400 I Street, SW.  The DC Primary is on June 19.

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