Loose Lips (3/26) did a good job of describing the petty corruption that has characterized the advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) I am ashamed to call my own. The D.C. Auditor’s report on ANC 2C’s financial indiscretions and the D.C. Council’s subsequent wrist-slap may have turned things around a little; at least the ANC meets regularly now and has even gone so far as to publicize its meetings in the community. I only hope this trend continues.
Because Shaw is a poor neighborhood sitting on valuable real estate that developers are tripping over themselves to conquer, the residents need strong, proactive advocacy from our so-called community leaders. We don’t have that. It is, after all, our ANC’s compromising attitude that’s partially responsible for Shaw residents getting screwed with the MCI Center and the convention center. Commissioners Leroy Thorpe, Rodney Foxworth, and others may think that by caving in to the Convention Center Authority they’re gaining a “seat at the table,” but they fail to realize that they’re being seated after the meal’s already been consumedall they can bring home to the community as a result of their capitulation is leftover crumbs.
Those commissioners who decry the inevitable gentrification of Shaw that will result from a baseball stadium are to be commended for being on the right side this time (at least for now). However, they should also look closely at the current situation with the low-income housing adjacent to the convention center site that they supported. Section 8 apartments will lose their low-income designation this year, forcing their residents out and beginning the process by which those apartments are converted to condos and hotels, all as a direct result of the convention center. There’s your gentrification for you!
The lesson should be clear: When some rich outsider comes into a poor community waving a lot of money and lavish promises in order to get residents to sign off on his latest “development” project, his promises should be taken as lies, and his advances should be rebuffed, not welcomed.
Having said that, I don’t want to leave the impression that ANCs are the main problem. The ANCs are really just being manipulated by the real enemies, who are the developers, the Board of Trade, the hospitality industry, and the councilmembers they keep in their pockets. The baseball stadium is only one of their pet projects. Far more egregious is the “Intermodal Transportation Center” they want to build under it. This has been in the city’s plans since at least as far back as 1996, and bought-off councilmembers like Jack Evans, Linda Cropp, and Charlene Drew Jarvis have banked on it for years, although they may publicly declare only scant knowledge of it. This enormous parking lot is essential to the convention center, as well as to future plans for the extension of I-395 up New York Avenue and through Shaw, the downtown entertainment complex, and all the other big-money projects that will completely and permanently wipe out affordable residential housing in the area. I’d love to see the Washington City Paper do an in-depth article on this scandal. You’ll certainly never see such reporting in the Post.
Finally, Loose Lips shouldn’t be so quick to assume that community opposition to the stadium is not organizing simply because he hasn’t been informed of it. Believe it or not, much goes on in this city that does not end up in the pages of the City Paper. And I hope readers elsewhere in the city will not come away thinking that the only thing Shaw activists do is oppose development projects in our neighborhood. One thing we don’t oppose is the improvement of our community according to the demands of the residents, rather than outside speculators who only look at Shaw with dollar signs in their eyes. For once we’d like a real commitment from city officials to decent jobs, affordable housing, safe streets, good schools, and the means to allow people who live here to stay here. That’s not asking too much, is it?
via the Internet