23 Jul 2010

Coffee with Wells

Uploaded to flickr by Professor Bop.

I see it on the listservs every month:  H Street community office hours with Tommy Wells.  I’d never been because I didn’t want to get caught up in glad handing (not my forte) or find myself in an Evita-style line with people waiting to plead their case about some problem or other.  The last couple of weeks, though, have been rather eventful in that part of our neighborhood, so I decided to swing by SOVA Thursday morning between 8 and 9:30 to check it out.

For leaving the house extra early, I was rewarded with my favorite iced chai and a pleasant surprise.  Unlike the meet and greets that used to be my stock-in-trade as a lobbyist, there was no ‘invisible’ queue that Wells traversed — you know, the one where everybody stands around, talking but not really talking to their neighbor, waiting for a chance to get their two minutes before he moves on.  Rather, this was actually a lot more like friends getting together for happy hour.  Everyone got a chance to air their issue and chat about it with the Councilman and his chief of staff, Charles Allen.  And then, well, they all just hung around to continue talking with each other, with Wells circulating around to join in all the different conversations.

I certainly got more than I bargained for.  I had two things I wanted to talk about.  First, I wanted to ask how things are progressing with Pepco after the power outages and whether people are actually being reimbursed for any resulting damage.  The answer to that question is: we’ll see.  Wells has a staffer, Linda O’Brien, dedicated to that issue, but as far as reimbursements it is probably too early to tell because of the time it takes to file and process claims.  The second item on my agenda was bike racks for H Street, because sometimes there just aren’t enough available trees to lock up my bike.  I got the answer to this before I even asked the question.  Good news too, because Wells is working on racks for high use areas, like the 1300 block of H.  Stay tuned to see how this develops.

Then I got two bonus prizes for my attendance.  I met Tawanna Shuford, Wells’ director of constituent services and one of those people whose name I’ve seen many times on the listservs but never met in person.  She’s definitely the person to ask when you have a question and don’t know where to start.  Plus I ran into a few familiar faces that gave me a chance to get caught up on all the latest plans for H Street this fall.  Oh, and Wells pointed out a bell I didn’t even know was on the bike I just bought to replace one stolen from Eastern Market metro a couple of weeks ago.  (Thanks Councilman!)

All in all, definitely a worth while morning.  I may just become a regular.  Wells hosts community office hours on H Street the fourth Thursday of the month.  There won’t be office hours in August, but mark your calendar for September.  The event is normally in the morning, but they are occasionally scheduled for the evening, too.


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