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Long story coming next week, but in the mean time, a few items that wouldn’t fit!
– WARD 5 IS A DEN OF CORRUPTION: You’ve probably heard of Councilmember Harry Thomas‘ alleged difficulty keeping his hands out of the kids’ piggy bank. But lower down on the political totem pole, the malfeasance gets even more brash: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B chairman Bill Shelton, resigned the chairmanship yesterday after the D.C. Auditor* found that he had liquidated the ANC’s bank account using an illegal debit card. What does this have to do with Walmart? Nothing, necessarily, except that Thomas is a big Walmart supporter, and Shelton is a big Thomas supporter, and Shelton’s ANC approved the Point at Arboretum development without so much as sending comments to the Office of Planning on the project’s large tract review application.
Even more fishily, the commissioner for the proposed Walmart, Jacqueline Manning, declined comment when I asked her about the project. Arboretum Neighborhood Association vice president Mildred Stevenson is feeling railroaded. “How I perceive this is that Harry Thomas is driving the bus,” Stevenson says. “He’s saying to Commissioner Manning that ‘This is going to happen, so I’m leaving it to you to sell this to your community.”
– V.O.’s HEARING NOISES: At last week’s Respect D.C. rally, it didn’t look like any councilmembers were going to come out to Freedom Plaza to support activists asking for a binding community benefits agreement (Mayor Vince Gray‘s press shop, meanwhile, was announcing Walmart’s $665,000 contribution towards summer programming for youth). But then, United Food and Commercial Workers Union organizer Tony Perez noticed Councilmember Vincent Orange emerge from the Wilson Building across the street, and convinced him to say a few words. Orange said he’d met with Walmart reps recently, and thought that there should be public hearings on their entry into the District—-making him the first councilmember to do so. But how real was that promise? Orange doesn’t even have his own committee to hold hearings in, after all. I called and emailed his chief of staff this week to ask when they might be scheduled, and got no response.
– ANC 4B GETS TOUGH: In marked contrast to 5B, ANC 4B met on Monday and approved an 11-page resolution with conditions including traffic management, community engagement, and local business assistance. The District Department of Transportation had just a few days before approved developer Foulger-Pratt’s previously-inadequate traffic study. Now, the Office of Planning will look through everybody’s recommendations for its final review.
* Corrected to reflect the fact that it was the Auditor, not the Inspector General, that did the report on the ANC’s finances.