Since January, 2003
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A group of Near Southeast residents* met tonight to discuss the best way to fight Marion Barry's announced desire to take the neighborhood around Nationals Park out of Ward 6 and into Ward 8 as part of the city's redistricting process. Tommy Wells addressed the group, giving them a quick primer on how exactly redistricting works, emphasizing that one of the stated goals of the process is to not split up "contiguous" neighborhoods, and also making clear his feelings about Barry's plan (while never actually mentioning the Ward 8 council member's name): "I don't want to lose one inch of Ward 6," Wells said, because "Ward 6 works."
Saying that it's unfair that Ward 6 should be the only ward to give up residents, he said that he will propose a map that would return Kingman Park to Ward 6; he also suggested that the portion of Penn Quarter that isn't in Ward 2 could be moved there, allowing some of Ward 2 to be shifted to Ward 5 (which would then allow some of Ward 5 to be moved to Ward 7, and then some of Ward 7 shifted southward into Ward 8).
But the bulk of the discussion was advising the residents on how best to make their opposition to Barry's idea known to the council members who are in the forefront of the redistricting battles (some of whom are at-large representatives up for election next year). He spoke of the best ways to voice opposition in terms of mechanics, saying that petitions are a good idea (and there are two already circulating, an electronic one with more than 100 signatures and a new one handed out tonight by resident and meeting organizer Bruce DarConte), as well as group visits to councilmembers' offices and high volumes of phone calls to the Wilson Building.
But Wells also stressed that residents who want to fight this need to describe how such a move would negatively impact Near Southeast's "cohesiveness" with its surrounding neighborhoods, especially with Capitol Hill just to the north and with Southwest. (It would be interesting that, if the Ward 8 "annexation" were to happen, the residents of school-less Near Southeast would be sending their children to the "neighborhood" schools that would still in be Ward 6.)
He also emphasized that arguments against a move to Ward 8 move should not center on "personalities." That concept was not really expanded upon but, if you've read the comments on my post last week on this issue, you might infer it to mean "don't rant about how you don't want Marion Barry as your councilmember." Wells also said to not mention not being able to park elsewhere in Ward 6 as a reason for opposition, which did seem to come up an awful lot at last week's hearings, to the dismay of many in the DC Twitterverse. "This is about how you view your community."
Near Southeast's ANC commissioner David Garber mostly echoed Wells's remarks, and said that he will be drafting a resolution for next week's ANC 6D meeting that would show the support of all Near SE and SW commissioners for remaining in Ward 6. (Garber has also launched a Near Southeast mailing list that residents are using to organize their resistence to being "annexed.")
With the council set to unveil its suggested map of new boundaries within a few weeks, there will be a flurry of activity on this front--including the Ward 6 Democrats' redistricting meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 7 pm at Chamberlain Elementary School. The final vote by the council on the new boundaries will be in July; and "there's a very good chance" Near Southeast can win the fight, Wells said.
[*I didn't take a head count; you know how much trouble the media gets in for crowd estimates! But the community room at the Capper Seniors apartment building was quite full.]
Comments (17)
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David Garber says: (5/4/11 9:57 PM)
This is a re-post from the post I just put up on the Near Southeast Google Group list-serve:

Thank you to everyone who came out to the neighborhood meeting this
evening. Here is what we need to do to make sure our voice is heard.

------What to do------

1) Call DC Council members Jack Evans (202-724-8058), Michael Brown
(202-724-8105), and Phil Mendelson (202-724-8064), and Mary Cheh
(202-724-8062) ...Cheh is not on the committee but she has voiced
support for the Ward 8 move.

2) Email DC Council members Jack Evans (jackevans @ dccouncil . us),
Michael Brown (mbrown @ dccouncil . us), Phil Mendelson (pmendelson @
dccouncil . us) and Mary Cheh (mcheh @ dccouncil . us)

3) Go to the DC Council offices of above members and ask to meet with
member and/or chief of staff. The DC Council offices are at the Wilson
Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

------When to do it------

CALL TOMORROW. Put it on your Google or Outlook calendar for tomorrow,
Thursday May 5, to call the above Council members to voice your
opinion on the matter.

EMAIL in the next 4 business days. Send an email to the Council
members saying why you identify with Ward 6 and why we need to stay

VISIT in the next 4 business days. Coordinate with other neighbors or
go alone. Use this or other networks to communicate when you are going
so that others can join if they can.

------What to say------

Topics to focus on:

-Why you identify with Ward 6
-Connection with Capitol Hill, etc
-Shared social base, amenity base with Ward 6
-Goal of redistricting to make wards "Compact and Contiguous"

Topics to stay away from:

-Marion Barry
-Real Estate Development


Again, thank you all for coming out. Please respond on the Google Group with additional
comments, coordinated efforts, and questions. Also, please remember to
sign the petitions going around and online:

David Garber
Commissioner, 6D07

Bruce says: (5/4/11 10:09 PM)
Thank you for your help David!

Andrew in DC says: (5/4/11 10:57 PM)
I know its an argument that Wells and Garber told us to shy away from - but I find it extremely suspect that the man who says he wants to "stop gentrification" and "keep the city black" is attempting to take over one of the fastest-gentrifying, fastest-whitening precincts in the District... and choke it in its crib.

I think Wells has it all wrong. It's not a play to annex our development dollars into his ward. It's a move to ensure that we have as little political clout as possible by burying us in his (Barry's) vest. Example: Patrick Mara got 70 votes in our precinct in the last special election ... and 68 in the whole of Ward 8. Our concerns will never be heard. Cut off from Ward 6 by a Ward boundary and our "neighboring" Ward 8 ANC SMDs by both the river and the NPS-controlled park.. we will become practically invisible -- An appendage to the ballpark that people just happen to pass through.

Meetings during recess? And with the fact that no one's even talking about putting Ward 5 on the table? I fear Wells is overstating our chances. Alexander, Barry, Orange, Michael Brown and Thomas are going to carve Ward 6 up like a turkey. Unless we can turn Cheh, this is going to very real, folks.

Eric says: (5/5/11 1:08 AM)
As a new homeowner in near Southeast, I am kind of scared. And by kind of scared, I mean absolutely petrified.

We In The Suburbs says: (5/5/11 1:19 AM)
Live by the Ward, die by the Ward: Omar comin'!
< laughs and laughs some some >

Adam says: (5/5/11 8:48 AM)
Devil's Advocate here, but will the fact that a lot of neighborhood residents are not registered voters impact this?

Obviously as a current Ward 6 resident, I identify closer with the Hill and the rest of the Ward than with Ward 8 and areas south of the river, but wondering how the lack of registered voters in all of the apartment buildings would impact many of them are Hill staffers who maintain voter registration in their home district.

anonymous says: (5/5/11 1:52 PM)
I was at a Georgetown anc meeting Monday, and Jack Evans' representative said that comments should be in by the middle of next week to get into an initial report. That coincides with the timeline David gives above, but wanted to note the reason I heard for the deadline. One more thing: I understand Wells' admonition to stay away from attacking Barry, but I think Barry's reasons for wanting our area -- as outlined in DeBonis' Post article anyway -- are so insulting that they have to be addressed. Such bald statements about ginning up median income and education numbers do not make me want this person to represent me.

Bob says: (5/5/11 4:43 PM)
It would be great to be in Barry's Ward! Imagine the stories we could tell to out-of-town friends and relatives. I for one look foward to our new Ward 8 overlord.

DC says: (5/5/11 5:04 PM)
From signer of David's online petition:

The DC Official Code states that the redistricting process requires the redistricted wards to be "compact and contiguous". Contiguous is defined by Webster's as "being in actual contact and touching along a boundary or at a point; touching/connected throughout in an unbroken sequence". From a geographic and community perspective moving this neighborhood to Ward 8 flies in the face of the definition of "contiguous" and would reflect poorly on the DC Council as a whole. Moving this neighborhood to Ward 8 would cast shadows of doubt on the Council as a truly representative deliberative body.It could provide political fodder for those that view DC gov negatively and undermine statehood efforts

Meredith says: (5/6/11 8:30 AM)
@ Andrew, I agree: why haven't elected representatives and community members been mentioning the absolutely critical fact that our political voice will be subsumed should we be absorbed into Ward 8? Creating a voiceless minority group as a byproduct of redistricting flies in the face of ethical redistricting guidelines. Election exhibit A might be Mara, but exhibit B could be Fenty/Gray. Near SE doesn't vote like Ward 8 votes,and that really, really matters.

MJM says: (5/6/11 9:35 AM)
There is a webster defintion of contiguous and there is the DC Council defintion of contiguous which would make no sense.

Is by saying we are different from Ward 8 play into Barry's hand that our little island needs to become more intergrated/mixed?

JD says: (5/6/11 9:59 AM)
If you didn't see it on the mailing list or on Twitter (and weren't at last night's meeting), Mary Cheh has told Tommy to tell everyone to stop calling her, that the calls "worked."

I won't be reporting officially on last night's meeting (I'm guessing Lydia DePillis at WCP will), but it was a huge crowd, perhaps 200 people from across Ward 6, who spent two hours really hammering on Phil Mendelson (the only member of the redistricting committee who showed up).

Bruce says: (5/6/11 10:27 AM)
I love it when residents unite for a good cause!!

Andrew in DC says: (5/6/11 10:51 AM)
Can anyone figure out what Mendelson means when he says that if the reunification of Fairlawn is all we "give" to Ward 8, that "they'll be angry"? Does he really expect riots in the streets if the redistricting process doesn't play a shell-game with the Ward 8 econ stats? And if he is so craven, how can he stand there with a straight face and say he even gives a tinkers cuss about neighborhood continuity or geographic contiguousness?

Justin says: (5/9/11 12:20 PM)
...and then some of Ward 7 shifted southward into Ward 8.

Ooooh. Did he just recommend putting Hillcrest into Ward 8? Does he really want to go there politically?

Andrew in DC says: (5/9/11 3:22 PM)
@ Justin -- "Ooooh. Did he just recommend putting Hillcrest into Ward 8? Does he really want to go there politically?"

Mendelson kept bringing up Hillcrest because he kept (wrongly) stating that both Fairlawn AND Hillcrest would have to go to Ward 8 to make numbers - and he stated it in such a way that he was opposed to that idea.

However, since he was either inadvertently or deliberately citing incorrect facts - and just the reunification of Fairlawn would do it, then it's not really much of a political risk.

Bruce says: (5/10/11 1:09 PM)
The meeting with Mendelson is set for Monday May 16 (6:30PM) at the
Senior Center. Located at 900 5 street SE. (same place we had the
Meeting with Tommy Wells.)
I urge everyone to attend.
These folks a re hearing us loud and clear
and we are making an impact.
See everyone there and bring your tough questions....

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