Community Caroling today 4:00pm!

Come out and bring the family! at 4:oopm today, Sunday December 4, 2011, meet at IHOP on Alabama Ave. and come with warm vocal chords. Caroling will take place up Alabama Ave. to the Henson Ridge playground on Tobias & Fredrick Douglas Pl. Hot drinks and cookies will be served.

Come and participate in the holiday spirit!

Caroling

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Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees..Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving! Today marks the beginning of the season focused on acknowledging our blessings, family and sharing our fortune with others. A wonderful time of year.

Amid the turkey pardoning, sweet potato pie preparation, football and anticipation for black Friday; it’s sometimes hard to remember why we have the day off and long weekend ahead. I won’t keep you long because there are families to get to, finishing touches to put on that bird and all manner of celebratory items to complete; but here’s a brief history of how we got to where we are.

Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a holiday in 1863. The declaration in part reads:

“…and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” – Abraham Lincoln

Until just now as I type this I never realized Thanksgiving was created in response to the abundant fortune the country was experiencing at the time. I think it’s ironic that 1863 is the same year the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law – the document widely credited for freeing the slaves in America. A year perhaps for those of African decent to be doubly thankful.

During this time where we are in very heated discussion about our freedoms, and how we protect them and the pillars on which this country was founded, I believe it’s important to recognize that we are still blessed as a country. We are in tough times, but we will overcome. Dont’ let the beauty of the forest that is this great nation be overshadowed by the trees that we must manage day to day.

So as you celebrate today, and this time each year, keep in mind that we are still abundantly blessed and I think we our collective fortune should continue to be “reverently and gratefully acknowledged.”  Happy Thanksgiving!

#HensonRidge Community Meeting De-breief

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A huge thank you to those who came out to voice your opinions at the Henson Ridge community meeting with Council Member Barry on Monday night at the Parklands Turner Library. An equal sized thank you to Reggie McComb for requesting the meeting from the council members office and seeing it through. There was a healthy dialogue about the concerns and issues residents (homeowners and renters alike) are facing. We left with a measurable action item list to hold the council member, and ourselves, accountable to.

Resident action items include:

  1. Developing committees for the following:
  • Communication – focused on doing more to keep residents informed.
  • Property Management – to interact with the current property manager and attempt to become more of an influencer in property management decisions.
  • Crime – to address issues we all share related to security of our neighborhood.
  • External community issues – to address things that affect the larger community but are not directly related to Henson Ridge.
  • Planning and logistics – to more effectively plan and implement community conversations and events.

The Council Members action items include:

  1. Follow up with the builder and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to find out if there are grounds for repercussions due to sub-standard construction. During the meeting Council Member Barry said that DCRA was outsourcing inspections to third party contractors and if we (Henson Ridge residents) have similar issues with our homes, there may be some form of government assistance we can get due to items not being identified in inspections that otherwise would have been discovered. In the interim, the residents will do a survey and collect a list of the property problems we’re aware of.
  2. Get to the bottom of where we are in terms of percentage sold. This is important because once we reach a certain threshold, the home owners association must be turned over to the community and cease to be run by the developer. I dusted off my bylaws after the meeting and a few things related to this action item stood out to me:
  • Every owner of a lot is a member of the association (pg. 15). Meaning the developer will still have a vote on the board of directors because they own the elderly public housing, family public housing and family rental units.
  • The “Development Period” is defined on page 8 and is described as “the period commencing as of the date of this Declaration [October 24, 2002] and ending on the latter of: (i) substantial completion of the Development; or (ii) the earlier of (a) December 31, 2007, or (b) the date on which eighty-five percent (85%) of the Homeownership Townhouses are owned by Homeowners.” In the meeting the information we were given was: There are 600 total units built, 285 units sold, 280 rented units, with 35 units left to sell. By my calculation that would make us 89% sold.
  • The composition of the board is defined on page 17 and after the development period the board shall consist of 11 directors. Three (3) directors to represent the home owners, five (5) directors to represent the Rental I Declarant and the Rental II Declarant combined, one (1) director for Phase I renters, one (1) director for Phase II renters and one (1) director appointed by the Authority (meaning the DC Housing Authority). Each director shall serve a period of one year with unlimited right to be re-elected (pg. 18).

Residents also raised concerns related to the lack of communication coming from the property management office and the fact that there are no bike racks in the Giant shopping center. As I was live tweeting from the meeting, I connected with several Ward 7 residents that have successfully had bike racks installed (win for social media). More to follow on this but I believe we will be able to get bike racks installed in the near future. This one you can add to my accountability list.

Council members multiple streams of income…..

Bill 19-482 is currently under consideration that would amend the DC Home Rule Act to establish full time employment for the members of the DC Council. Council member Vincent Orange’s says outside employment causes “conflicts of interest, unethical behavior, corruption and divided loyalties.”  (DCist October 1, 2011)

Several articles have been written on the subject, some of which are highlighted here. I’m interested in your thoughts. Does DC need a full time council? Why or why not? Here are a few recent posts on the subject to get the juices flowing (click the title to see the full story):

Why We Kill? Pannel seeks to understand the psychology of murder.

Join the joint venture community meeting hosted by ANC’s 8A, 8C, 8D and 8E. The meeting will be:

Monday, November 21, 2011 from
7:00pm-9:00pm
Community of Hope Church, 905 Alabama Ave. SE 20032

Attendees will hear from members of the DC Department of Mental Health, Metropolitan Police, National Park Police, DC Housing Police and the Metro Transit Police department. Contact Commissioner Sandra “S.S.” Seegars at 202-561-6616 or sstrulyyours@aol.com for more information.

Councilman Barry to address Henson Ridge residents – Mon. 11/21 @6:30pm

Councilman Marion Barry will be holding a Henson Ridge Community meeting at Parklands Turner Library at 1548 Alabama Ave. SE at 6:30pm Monday, November 21, 2011.

He’s seeking a dialogue on community concerns and other issues related to Henson Ridge. If you are a resident of Henson Ridge, please plan to come to the meeting and express your concerns, or give positive feedback to the councilman directly. If you are a community member that signed the petition to have zone signs installed in the 1500 block of Tubman, please be sure to join and express your desires in person. The original denial letter and subsequent denials from Mr. Damon Harvey and Mr. James Cheeks are available for background in advance of the meeting (click the links to read the correspondence.) The signed petition is here for review as well.

See you there!

ANC8E Meeting Tomorrow Night! 11.15.11 – 7pm

Tomorrow is the monthly ANC 8E meeting at the SE Tennis and Learning center, 701 Mississippi Ave. SE. We have a fantastic line up of speakers including representatives from DCRA, DPR and DC Housing Authority.

Hope to see you there!