Mayor Fenty Promises More Improvements
This one is about a town hall style meeting I went to where DC Mayor Adrien Fenty spoke about the future of D.C.
Mayor Adrian Fenty and Councilman Jack Evans promised to continue working on renewing neighborhoods and improving D.C.’s image at a meeting for the Dupont Circle Citizen’s Association on Monday.
The meeting, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church on 6th Street NW, included speeches by Jack Evans, D.C. Councilman, and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.
“Even though our nation’s economy continues to struggle, the District of Columbia saw a $191 million surplus for the 2008 fiscal year,” he said. “This shows that we are able to balance and manage a budget well.“ Mayor Fenty’s current challenge, Evans said, lies in the 2010 budget. “Because we had such a surplus we’ll receive much less,” he noted.
Evans encouraged those with tough questions to make sure to ask them of Mayor Fenty. “I always get hit with the hard ones,” he joked. “And all the easy questions are left for the Mayor.”
Fenty emphasized the turnaround in the perception of the city that he has been able to achieve so far in his time as mayor. “We can now keep reaching higher up on the tree,” he said. One of his key initiatives, he said, is one to work to find housing for the homeless and to move more people into affordable housing. Fenty also emphasized economic development and renewal of neighborhoods through bringing more resturaunts in. “They are usually the ones to go into neighborhoods first,” he noted.
“We’ve made a number of achievements so far,” he said, “including the new baseball stadium, its surrounding area, and the new parks opened in D.C.” Fenty said that all issues with the baseball stadium’s rent being paid had worked out. “They will pay their rent,” he said.
Fenty also stressed his efforts to gain more D.C. voting rights in congress. “Obtaining voting members in the house will be able to get a few key things for the District,” he said. “Once we have more momentum, we can then go after getting two senators.”
Residents of D.C. were not allowed to vote for President until 1961, which granted D.C. three votes in the Electoral College. In 1973, the District of Columbia Home Rule Act passed, granting D.C. a local government administered by an elected mayor and a thirteen-member council. However, Congress still has the right to review and overturn laws passed by the council and to intervene in local affairs.
The District has drafted a proposed state constitution, but the necessary authorization from Congress has never been granted. D.C. still selects members of a shadow congressional delegation, which lobbies for statehood of D.C. but has no official voting rights.
Nancy Bearg said she was surprised by a few of the things Fenty said. “I didn’t know about the notion of going not only for voting members in the house, but for two senators. “That was definitely a new development,” she said.
Fenty also said he was surprised by a topic brought up by one of the audience members – the chief librarian’s opposition to hiring volunteers to keep the libraries open later. “I will look into that and find out exactly why that is right away,” he said.
Fenty encouraged attendees of the meeting to reach him at any time with questions, comments, or concerns via his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jo Freeman, a member of the DCCA, said she’s been listening to politicians like Fenty and Evans for 60 years – and nothing has changed. “They’ve been saying the same things for that whole time,” she said. “They’re masters at saying something while still saying nothing.”
A special session held after the meeting brought attention to the “Rooftop Robber”, a burglar who lifts up unsecure hatches of row houses, particularly in the Dupont area, and drops into the bathrooms. The hatches are often covered only with a piece of plywood and a brick, and many residents do not even know they have this security risk in their homes.
The first robbery occurred in December, with 20 robberies occurring
since. There was a strong pattern in early December, and then they stopped
abruptly for awhile, only to pick back up in mid-January. In the last two weeks alone, the “rooftop robber” has hit five times successfully and attempted another burglary.
Police Lieutenant Eric Biller said that the MPD is devoting all of its available resources to catching the “rooftop robber”. “We’ve been using helicopters, covert officers and have been positioning ourselves on top of tall buildings to try to view any suspicious activity on top of rooftops.” He asked residents to call 911 with any suspicious sightings or information they may have.
Lt. Biller said that he is trying to get the word out on how to secure hatches. He said that the information he provided residents with was not sanctioned by the MPD, but instead simply some options to consider. “There have been six attempted robberies over the past two weeks, five of them successful,” he said, encouraging residents to be pro-active to protect themselves and their homes.
Some of the suggestions Biller had included finding the any potential hatches in your home and securing them with a lockable hatch or skylight. He recommended installing a security system, or even simply putting a security system sticker over a secured hatch – noting that sometimes, the possibility may be enough to scare someone away.
Fenty said the “Rooftop Robber” was another of his major concerns. “Once we figure this out, it will stop,” he said.