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RE: “WHO FOUGHT J.R.’S?” (The District Line, 9/8): me, among many others. Why? J.R.’s came into the community under a cloud of deception that continues to this day. Before it opened, it advertised itself to the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) as a new deluxe restaurant, specializing in “southern-style ribs.” Instead, it delivered nothing but another barroom. What kind of food it purveys from its microscopic kitchen remains a mystery. Appetizers must be the size of subatomic pellets, and entrees probably no bigger than an enriched M&M. Now J.R.’s wants to expand that deception outside onto publicly owned space.
In supporting the J.R.’s license, the current chair of ANC-2B serves up enough red herrings to feed J.R.’s clientele for a year or two. First, he says the J.R.’s proposal “could almost be seen as a gay versus straight issue,” a not-too-subtle aspersion of homophobia to opponents. Next, he wants some kind of loyalty oath from ANC commissioners against J.R.’s application never to take a public stance against an ANC vote, even though the chairman himself set a new Olympic speed record undermining a nearly unanimous vote by the prior ANC against J.R.’s. Finally, he lauds himself for entering into a so-called “voluntary agreement” with J.R.’s, never mind that those agreements are not worth the paper they are written on, and that he was not delegated to do so.
There is great sanctimony at work here. In the name of “diversity,” the wishes of the overwhelming proportion of the surrounding high-density residential community, suffering from noise, late-hour operations, trash, and a considerable amount of rowdy behavior, are consigned to oblivion in favor of a string of outdoor cafe operations. The myopia of some ANC-2B commissioners is breathtaking. For them, the whole neighborhood begins and ends with these outdoor cafes. In their view, thousands of residents abutting J.R.’s on three sides apparently deserve neither consideration nor representation.
The J.R.’s application has come up again and again. Each time, a more responsible ANC, the community at large, and the D.C. Public Space Committee said, “No.” They should do so again.
President, Bay State Tenants’ Association, Dupont Circle