25 May 2011

When's That At-Large Council Race Again?

Councilmember Wells addressing yesterday's rally. Photo courtesy of Julia Christian.

[Thus far, we have offered our readers perspectives on redistricting from ANC 6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells.  Today we turn to Hill East resident and THIH contributor Tim Krepp for his perspective.]

As many of you already know, I, and many of the eastern fringe of Capitol Hill, may soon be split off from the rest of Ward 6. This has been an extremely frustrating process for myself, my family, and my neighbors and to say that we are near uniformly disappointed with the indifference and callousness of our elected leaders is an understatement. Shame on you, Phil Mendelson and Michael Brown. Jack Evans at least has the thin excuse that he represents the citizens of Ward 2, but you guys might want to at least consider feigning concern at your constituent’s issues.

Despite the rancor and shrill comments on all sides of this issue, the silver lining has been the overwhelming support from the rest of the Hill community. From our Councilmember’s steadfast attention, to the many neighbors who turned out yesterday, to my friends who have encouraged us, it’s been gratifying to see that Capitol Hill truly is a united community. It’s sad that obeying the forms but not the spirit of democracy are driving us apart politically, but I have faith that we will remain close as a neighborhood. Even if you can only hang out at my house for 1 hour and 59 minutes from now on!

There’s been a lot harsh things said about Ward 7, and that’s been unfortunate. The truth is, we have little to do with our neighbors across the river, and I’m disappointed that that distance, coupled with the outrage many of us have felt, has caused us to become even more distant. Not very One City of us, but it takes more than plastering a slogan on stationary for that admirable concept to become reality. You have to get out and lead to make it happen, and I’m not seeing that happen. I really wish some leader, perhaps a Mayor, a City Council Chair, an at-large Councilmember (bonus points if you’re on the redistricting committee), or even my (possibly) future Ward 7 Councilmember would stand up and give a better rationale than “well, someone’s got to get screwed, and I guess it’s you guys”. I’d also like a unicorn.

But on the subject of our fellow Washingtonians across the river, I’d like to elaborate why we have little kinship with each other. It’s not elitism, it’s access. Much has been said about the Anacostia River dividing us, but if that was the only obstacle, I’d be happy to reach across. No, the problem is that I can barely even get to the river. Between myself and it is the desolate wasteland of the RFK parking lot, the dilapidated dumping ground of the DC General campus, and the forbidding bulk of the DC Jail. All tied together by the trash-strewn empty promise of the Anacostia Riverfront trail. Just to get to the river I have to walk by generations of Washington’s failures. Hell, the river is downright inviting by the time I get there.

Even there, I’d have to go well out of my way to cross, using the very unfriendly East Capitol or Pennsylvania Avenue bridges. A depressing walk in the best of times, it borders on dangerous with my kids. Once across, I still wouldn’t see many signs of life. The Anacostia Riverfront has so much promise, but is itself barricaded from current Ward 7 by the monstrosity of 295 and the railroad tracks. To walk or bike to my nearest Ward 7 neighbor east of the river would be a journey of well over a mile. Small wonder that I’ve visited Ward 7 less than I’ve visited London in my time living on the Hill. I hear Ward 7 has quite a bit going for it. But it’s not accessible enough for me to give you a first hand account.

I hope, some day very soon, that we tear down those divisions between us. That Reservation 13 is a vibrant expansion of the Hill to the river. That my kids play with their classmates from Eliot-Hine and Eastern after school in parks and playgrounds along the Anacostia. That they can bike to each other’s houses via safe and welcoming bridges joining us together. That I don’t have to get in a car to drive miles away to community meeting affecting my Ward. But all of that will take sustained commitment, and we’re not there yet. We’re not even close.

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30 responses to “When's That At-Large Council Race Again?”

  1. Amber says:

    As your neighbor, I completely agree. Usually I am not a one issue voter, but in this instance…I will be. Michael A. Brown is up in 2012 and Phil Mendelson in 2014 (boo to the fact that I just voted for him and he could care less).

  2. mappo says:

    “Someone’s got to get screwed, and I guess it’s you guys”. The fact of the matter is that Wards 7 & 8 have to expand geographically, and the only place for them to expand is across the river. That’s just the way it is. The above quote might not be the most diplomatic way of saying it, but it’s the unvarnished truth.

  3. RH says:

    quick side question from an uninformed constituent – what is the deal with the 2 hour visitation limit? does this have to do with parking?

  4. Tim Krepp says:

    RH, 2 hr limit on parking outside of Ward. So when folks come who drive, they won’t be able to park past that time. Much as I love walking/biking/mass transit etc. some neighbors just can’t do that. Especially with physical disabilities and or small kids.

  5. Tim Krepp says:

    Mappo, there are other options. Moving Carver Langston in it’s entirety would be my suggestion, but not the only one.

  6. Jmt321 says:

    @mappo- wrong, redistricting is first about population not geography.  Additionally, the fact remains Mendelson didn’t give a better reason then essentially, “Someone’s got to get screwed, and I guess it’s you guys.” Brown didn’t give a better explanation
    other than “Nobody like’s being redistricted, but it has to happen. But don’t worry; all options are still on the table.” I never heard any of the CM’s try to suggest that one Ward is not a good candidate because it is more compact and contiguous than others.
    Nor did any of the CM’s suggest that Ward 2 should bear the brunt of losses because they are they only Ward that needs to lose population; if the exception in the statute isn’t used to raise the population deviation from +/- 5% to +/- 10% for “compact and contiguous

  7. mappo says:

    Tim – yes, there are other options as to who “gets screwed”. But somebody has to get scre…uh, added to Ward 7, plain and simple. To complain that Ward 7 is mostly east the river is to complain that the sky is blue. 7 has to expand, and it has to expand across the river. That you don’t want it to be your neighborhood, and have suggestions as to what other neighborhood it should be, is just plain ole NIMBYism. Don’t get me wrong, if it were my neighborhood on the table I’d be unhappy about it as well. But let’s call it what it is.

  8. wrong says:

    Mappo, Wards 7 and 8 do not have to cross the river, they can easily rotate north and solve the problem without dividing a geographically and socially close knit neighborhood.

    Brown and Wells have lost my vote over this one. Brown for not listening and Wells for wringing his hands, but not DOING anything. We could just roll out a scarecrow dressed as Tommy for public photo ops and our representation would be just as strong as it currently is.

  9. C in DC says:

    The sad truth is that folks need to be moved from Ward 2 to Wards 7 & 8, and the easiest way to do that is to shift Ward 6 westward. It sucks.

  10. todd says:

    @wrong – I think that Wells has done quite a bit on this issue. You clearly have not been paying attention.

    @C in DC – Isn’t it just as easy to move Carver Langston and add Shaw to W5? That is a question-question, not a rhetorical question. The only reasons I have heard for not doing that are: 1) Thomas wants to keep the golf course in W5, 2) W7 does not want additional public housing from C-L, 3) a good part of eastern W5 is unpopulated.

    Are there any other reasons?

  11. wrong says:

    todd, what has Tommy DONE. Where is his effectiveness as a legislator. Where did he use his power/votes etc to get a better deal for his constituents. He did what he always does, he listens, takes photos and gladhands. Then he gets rolled. Look at reservation 13 as a prime example of Tommy’s effectiveness. There are work horses and show horses. He’s a show horse. I hope you enjoyed the show.

  12. gina a says:

    Several areas of the city that I know of have split ward parking signs. I pass by the ones for Ward 1/2 all the time. The least Tommy and Yvette can do would be to compel DDOT to put up split ward parking signs, as they have done elsewhere. The whole situation does suck. I had a question also earlier when thinking about this: it seems that there is no motivation for wards 7 and 8 councilmembers to improve their wards if they can just keep taking ward 6 over. Where does it all end? In another 10 years, will ward 7 come all the way to Lincoln Park? and ward 8 all the way past Garfield park? It is pretty disturbing.

  13. JPS says:

    wrong is correct

  14. todd says:


    I recognize that this is the kind of debate that never leads anywhere. I will, however, point out that Wells’ legislative proposals for alleys, H ST performance parking, increased CaBi funding, keeping parking meter rates in place, etc. passed today. Also today, he managed to cancel (at least thus far) the planned buy-back of taxes on out-of-state municipal bonds.

    That was today. You might not agree with any of these accomplishments, but I do not think that it is correct to claim that he has not accomplished anything.

  15. Crowley says:

    It shouldn’t be just a numbers game of warm bodies, districts should reflect neighborhoods, communities of common interests. All along the Anacostia riverfront from Haines Point to past RFK is a geography that creates Capitol Hill. As Tim noted, it’s more than the River, it’s railroad tracks, highways, huge parking lots, abandoned buildings, a graveyard, a prison. This geography curls around and embraces the community.
    Within this geography we’ve worked long and hard to improve the schools, the parks, the neighborhoods, the commercial districts. Personally I’ve put 20 years into rejuvenating Congressional Cemetery, along with many many neighbors. Now the City Council hands it off to a community that has no connection to it, no history, no reason to care. And you know the Ward 7 councilman will give no time to an entity with no living voters and no citizens who care about it.
    And Mendalson? Doesn’t give a rat’s ass about our community. I will support anyone who opposes him. How about a recall?

  16. wrong says:

    Todd, I’m glad he was focusing on alleys while our neighborhood got carved up. Glad he is prioritizing correctly.

  17. SD says:

    I have to go with @wrong on this one. i think wells actually got a great deal out of this and dare i say i think behind the scenes he did little/nothing to prevent this from happening (might have even helped it happen). hear me out – res 13 was a thorn in his side as he seemingly had zero effect on moving the development along but then had to listen to people complain constantly about the social svcs dumping ground it has become. he also gets part of shaw in this deal, which is undergoing its own revitalization that he can eventually take credit for, and he got eastern high in the “compromise”. he’s already got H st, barracks row, the ballpark/yards park, etc. hill east did nothing for him – and he did nothing for it – and i think he was probably happy to give it up.

    clearly we will never know his true motivations, but something stinks here. granted, i could say that for ALL dc politics , as it makes my skin crawl sometimes. and don’t even get me started on brown/mendelsohn/evans. they seriously suck and make me want to move to the suburbs (gag).

  18. wrong says:

    SD, I think you are right on the money. As one still in Ward 6, I will be casting votes on behalf of those of you now in Ward 7 at the next election. I suggest each of you find some friends on the west side of the new divide and ask them to do the same. You might not be able to vote against Wells, but those in your community can and we will show him what a mistake he made by ignoring that we are a cohesive community that looks out for one another.

  19. D says:

    I think that gina a has a point about someday ward 7 stretching all the way to lincoln park. maybe by the time 2020 comes around we’ll be able to convince dc to put in more wards. we are under represented by a gov’t that acts as city, county, and state. adding more wards/seats to the council is something i hope gets taken up int he future (though i think congress would have to make a law amending home rule for that)

  20. Tim Krepp Tim Krepp says:

    Look folks, I get the anger. I’m blood-pissing angry myself. But blaming Tommy Wells seems weird.

    I’m disappointed he hasn’t been successful in keeping me in Ward 6. But everything he’s said, everything he’s done indicates to me he’s seriously committed to keeping Ward 6 intact. I count his participation in the rally, his guest post here, his statements elsewhere, and behind the scenes reports of numerous people in the Wilson building. If he was complicit in this, it would have to be a wide ranging secret in a city that can’t keep them.

    If there was evidence he was talking out of the corners of his mouth, I’d turn on him in an instant, and I think he’s been a great Councilmember. But I’d need more than poorly defined conspiracy theories and general disgust with politics in general and DC in particular.

    Meanwhile, there ARE actual Councilmembers who have screwed the Hill over. Jack Evans, Phil Mendolson, and Michael Brown are doing it to us as we speak. Tommy Wells sin seems to be in not preventing them from doing it. I know who I’m angry at right now.

  21. wrong says:

    Tim, Tommy can use his bullhorn at the Wilson building and make it clear he will do everything in his power to vote against every initiative put forth by Evans, Mendolson, Brown and work to ensure instead of siphoning all the economic development funds off to the well-heeled in NW that he will grind the council to a halt unless Res 13 is moved forward. Unfortunately, there isn’t much fire in his belly if it means moving upstream IMO.

  22. Tim Krepp Tim Krepp says:

    Go watch the video of today’s hearing and tell me there’s no fire in his belly.

  23. wrong says:

    Tim… it’s a great show after the bell has rung. This a month ago, with action… might have gotten something done. Now it’s just theatre.

  24. Calvin Gurley says:

    CAPITAL HILL…the rooster has come home to roost.

    Capital Hill you get what you sow. You commanded that Sharon Ambrose cut off Ward 6 at the John Phillip Sousa Bridge [Black Folks] and then steal S.W. Waterfront [white] from Jack Evans’ Ward 2.

    Capital Hill you were deceitful in this gerrymandering to make Ward 6 predominately white with the inclusion of S.W. Waterfront and excluding/ ditching the Black Fairlawn area, Greenway up Minnesota Avenue and the Good Hope Road up to the Panorama Room S.E. areas.

    Now, Ward Seven is coming to your neighborhood. Capital Hill you should have left Ward 6 in Anacostia. Then Ward 8 would claim S.W. Waterfront and Ward Severn would take Ward 5 beyond the Langston Area and up along Gallaudet or New York/ Avenue.

    Capital Hill you have to give up S.W. waterfront to avoid Ward Seven from taking parts of you. Can you do that? And you have to go back to include Anacostia as a part of Ward 6 – can you do that?

    Capital Hill you should have left good enough alone.

    Wake Up Trusting Citizens.

    Calvin H. Gurley

  25. Calvin Gurley says:

    Crowley…who are you and this one area [Congressional Cemetery] dedication. You are talking about DEAD PEOPLE!!! DID you care for the living?

    Lived and raised on 18th block of Bay Street, S.E…when the 17th block was known as “White Bay Street”. Hine Jr. High and Eastern H.S. grad.

    Why did you allow the Boys and Girls Club to close to be handed over to developers???

    And you cry about Ward 7 Council member not being in touch with you and your neighbors. Crap.

    I lived in Anacostia after college graduation and was the President of the Fairlawn Civic Association
    [Harold Brazil – Councilman]. Ward 6 Capital Hill proper did not like or respect Ward 6 –Anacostia across the bridge. Capital Hill closed down Hine Jr. High and handed it over to developers.

    My Sister was an ANC Commissioner 6b who met at the old Mansion 9th and Penn. Avenue [Mr. Caesar was the ANC office manager]. Many meeting s where Jamie Pratt, Vanderhouse and other white Capital Hill commissioners were trying to usurp authority from commissioners in the Old City part of Capital Hill [Kentucky Ave./ D.C. General area and Potomac Ave. area].

    Crowley…folks on Capital Hill will just have to learn to accept and live with Black D.C. families.

    Wake Up Trusting Citizens.

    Calvin H. Gurley

  26. Tim Krepp says:

    Is this Calvin “The City Owes You” Gurley? Yeah, I tore down your campaign sign as you had so little respect for my neighborhood you left it up months after the election.

    Seriously folks, this isn’t about race. There are those, who out of intellectual laziness or past resentments, chose to make race the discussion, but this debate is about keeping neighborhoods together, not artificially driving them apart.

    And it wasn’t a mansion. It’s the Old Naval Hospital. Know your history, man.

  27. Calvin Gurley says:

    Tim Krepp: I give no excuse [as minor as it is] for the Old Navy Hospital being named a mansion; even though it was scheduled to be the mansion for the Mayor T. Wms.

    Krepp if race is not your reality on Capital Hill –Ward 6…then it speaks for itself.

    Did you ask those folks in Old City [where my sister former ANC Ward 6b – Burke Street lives],
    my mother and neighbors on Bay Street, and the Bay Street Club association along with ANC Commissioner Francis Campbell IF THEY WERE SLIGHTED when they were not included
    in the now demolishing of the D.C. General Children’s Ward [19th & Independence Ave, S.E.]?

    The talks were held on Capitol Hill proper and a new development is being built. No say from the Black folks in Old City. Why should they not fell race is not a factor? They tell me that it is.

    Do you understand the takeover of EASTEN high school by the Capitol Hill Cluster System and
    this opening year only allowing a freshman class to attend in September? What happens to our
    10th and 11th graders who attend the school now?

    Krepp…you don’t know jack about Black residents in Ward 6 and what they are feeling and going through.

    Ward 6 is my home base…and I am in touch with friends, neighbors, seniors and
    the next generation of youth in Ward 6.

    And, you can’t tell them what is racial and what is not racial.

  28. B. Pate says:


    I feel compelled to respond to you–because you are way off base.

    One of the very reasons many of us in Cap Hill would like to keep our neighborhood intact is to preserve diversity in our body politic. This group of people includes blacks and whites, new and old residents. No–we’re not perfect, and sometimes we fail miserably at managing the ills of gentrification, but we’re miles ahead of most neighborhoods, and in many ways copacetic. If you’d attended the rally last Tuesday, you would have seen this in full effect.

    Eastern High is not part of the Cluster System.

    Francis Campbell does not want to be redistricted, nor does Lisa White, the ANC Commissioner for Kingman Park. Doesn’t that speak for itself?

    Undoubtedly race and gentrification are issues on the Hill, but to assume that they are driving factors in our collective desire to keep the Hill whole is simply old think, reflective of a fading ideology and politics in Washington, D.C. If you choose to make this a race issue, that is your myopic prerogative.

  29. Calvin Gurley says:

    B. Pate….you ask all the wrong questions and give all the wrong answers.

    Redistricting if you read my piece stemmed from Ward 6 during Sharon Ambrose period that gerrymandered Ward 2 into Ward 6. Cutting off Fairlawn, Greenway, up to Good Hope Rd.

    My dear man…the gerrymandering was already performed then…the majority in Ward 6 is White residents that assure a white Ward 6 Council person. That is reality and it is what it is.

    What does this redistricting of Ward 6 becoming Ward 7 is about? Ward 6 should have keep the territory of Anacostia, Greenway and Good Hope Rd. [PAST] then this new Ward 7 threat would not have the posing affect of coming into Ward 6….[today]

    The HOT RACE ISSUEs…that are not about re-districting…but are racial- you do not want to talk about.

    Ask the two ANC Commissioners did they want Hine Jr. High School to close for new development. That answer is NO.

    Ask is they did not have any say in the tearing down of the old child ward at D.C. General Hospital? They would tell you now they were not invited to the major/determining meeting.
    They two were left out.

    Ask the two if they wanted the 17th Boys and Girls Club to remain for the children and not give in to developers? They would say keep the Club for the children of the community…who drove the development take-over…the Capital Hill folks.

    What about the above do you not understand???????

    Now, B. Pate…if you don’t included participation from Ward 6 Black residents but continue in your effort to change, develop and modify the neighborhood and Black residents are not involved then WHAT IS IT? Race or absentmindedness?

    This re-districting is baloney compared to the other three issues I have raised.

    And, oh yes the Capital Hill Cluster group do have strings attached to Eastern H.S. ! Oh, have you heard yet…about this. What about the 10th grade only attendance…you have no commented on that.

    But, you careful chose Redistricting as an illustration that Ward 6 are all together [Black and White] on this ONE issue AVOIDING THE OTHER ISSUES.

    Nice move.

  30. Calvin Gurley says:

    B. Pate…forget being perfect…how about giving Black folks in Ward 6 a say in what’s happening to their Ward also.

    If you Ward 6 kicked –out the Black folks in Ward 6 across the bridge and took the majority white folks in S.W. –Waterfront; why wouldn’t the same folks ignore the remaining Black residents in Ward 6?

    B.Pate stop being ignorant about “FULL” community participation. I just brought the past history of Ward 6 gerrymandering so I would have a strong basis on what White folks are still doing to Black families in Ward 6 today.

    And, as good as your heart may be about Ward 6 Black residents on your block…that is you. But, the Capital Hill folks behind this exclusion may not be in your circle…so that makes you and the few like you a together, diversified Ward 6. But, all of WARD 6 do not share your beliefs.

    So remember you can not wipe out Racism in Ward 6, a lone. But, be mindful of it outside your box.

    Vietnam saying; “…one bird can not bring the Spring…”

    So it going to take a few more of you to convince those like you to relax and be a diverse community…and please include all into the affairs of Ward 6. That’s all.

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