Upcoming Forums for Ward 8 Councilmember Special Election

The mayoral debate at Anacostia High School nearly got out of control. What will happen when candidates for the Ward 8 City Council position debate?

Mayoral debate at Anacostia High School.

March 24th, Tuesday, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsement forum, Bethlehem Baptist Church, 2458 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE.  The moderator will be Sam Ford,WJLA-TV reporter.  Only candidates who are registered Democrats will be eligible to participate.  Anyone who is a member of the club 30 days before this forum will be eligible to vote and a candidate must receive 60% of the votes to receive the endorsement.  Potential members can join the club at http://www.steindemocrats.org/membership/.  For more information contact info@steindemocrats.org.

March 25th, Wednesday, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, DC Federation of Civic Associations (DCFCA) forum, Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School, 2437 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE.  Tom Sherwood, WNBC-TV reporter has been invited to be the moderator.  The DCFCA will sponsor forums for the special elections in Wards 4 and 8 on its regular meeting dates (the fourth Wednesday) in March and April.   You are encouraged to become a member of a DCFCA affiliate.  For more information, contact the First Vice President, Philip Pannell, at philippannell@comcast.net.

March 31st, Tuesday, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Ward 8 City Council Collaborative Candidates Forum and Straw Poll, sponsored by the Anacostia Coordinating Council, Ballou High School PTSA, ANC 8C and other organizations, Ballou HS, 3401 4th Street, SE.  For more information,contact the forum chairman, ANC Commissioner Charles Wilson (8A05), at charleswilsonhu@gmail.com.

April 8th, Wednesday, 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, Anacostia/Bellevue/Congress Heights AARP Chapter #4870 forum, Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, 3845 South Capitol Street, SW.  Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer and former DC AARP state president has been invited to moderate.  For more information, contact the chapter president, Philip Pannell, at philippannell@comcast.net.

list via Anacostia Coordinating Council 


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DC City Council Ward 8 Candidate Forum [We Act Radio, Feb. 25, 2015]

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“ASSAULT ON COLORED FARM HANDS.” in Anacostia [Evening Star, Jan. 17, 1866]

ASSAULT ON COLORED FARM HANDS. – Yesterday, Mr. Contee, of Maryland, engaged fifteen colored hands in this city to work upon his farm. He put them in charge of his former, a white man, who them to Uniontown, east of the Anacostia, and stopped at the tavern of Robert Martin to get drinks. While in the house the negroes were attacked by white men, and one of the negroes, named Wm. Tucker, was shot through the left shoulder, inflicting a painful but not dangerous wound. The wounded man was taken to the eighth precinct station-house by officer Clements, and Dr. McKim was called to attend him. The Doctor probed the wound, but did not succeed in finding the ball. The injured man will be sent to the contraband hospital.

This morning, Officer Duvall, at the first precinct, arrested a man names McNerhany on the charge of being one of the assailants, and Justice Cull held him to bail for court.


Evening Star, 17 January. 1866, p. 2.

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Staff Report: 1234 W Street SE [HPRB, Feb. 26, 2015]


Landmark/District: Anacostia Historic District (x) Agenda

Address: 1234 W Street SE ( ) Consent

Meeting Date: February 26, 2015 (x) New construction

Case Number: 15-204

Staff Reviewer: Tim Dennée (x) Concept

The applicant, property owner W Street Acquisition LLC (with architects Shinberg & Levinas), requests the Board’s review of a concept for the construction of a branch DC Prep charter school. The Board looked at a concept in December and apparently agreed that that design was too large for the available parcel, but the applicant withdrew that application and filed another.

Although not expressly proposed at the moment, a subdivision would be necessary for this project. Such a subdivision would be compatible if the new construction is determined not to be incompatible. The subject parcel consists of seven lots, which would have to be consolidated into one. The largest lot has a pipe stem that runs through the block to V Street and would be used as an access to a basement garage for employee parking. The remainder of the lots, all with W Street frontage, are situated between that lot (Lot 1022) and 13th Street.

The exterior wall materials would include brick, EIFS, fiber-cement panels, and aluminum column covers.

Background At the time the historic district was designated, the subject parcel contained a single house, the former 1242 W Street, and open-air storage for cars. It has since occasionally been used for overflow parking for the church across the street. Since that time, this block of W has lost a total of six historic houses, four that stood where Union Temple now does, one that stood at 1222 W, and 1242 W itself, which was neglected for decades before collapsing in 2009.

In 2007, the Board reviewed a proposal for three-story townhouses on this site. The Board’s principal concern was with the height of those buildings relative to the surrounding two-story historic homes, but after some tweaking of the designs to address these concerns, approved in 2011 a resubmitted concept at that height, but with a single unit on the V Street pipe stem capped at two stories. Another condition was that 1242 W would be reconstructed to break up what would otherwise be an unrelieved W Street frontage of similar three-story buildings. The project did not come to fruition because of the difficulty of obtaining construction financing.

Evaluation The school design is still massed in two sections, but it has been reduced in height, and its plan has been shifted some so that the western end of the building stands nearer the street.

There is no reason that the applicant should not have had its ideal program for essentially two schools within the building. It is simply the case that the parcel was too small to accommodate the original plan. Ideally, such a school would be situated on a deeper site, i.e., deeper than a typical Anacostia house lot, with its program arranged in a deeper central section with wings as necessary to accommodate uses such as gymnasium, cafeteria, library, etc. In other words, more like a traditional school. The revision largely retains the old program by sinking the gyms and cafeterias underground, not ideal for egress, light or cost and perhaps for use, if the gym heights have to be reduced to limit excavation.

While there are some educational, religious and government buildings sprinkled through the neighborhood, few are large, and they are islands surrounded by houses. In this instance, the site’s proximity to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue essentially stretches the avenue’s largerbuilding character into the residential neighborhood and, in so doing, isolates the two little historic houses west of the parcel. Such a large building will tend to dominate the remaining residences, likely reinforcing the erosion of residential uses on the block that commenced with the demolitions mentioned above, the construction of Union Temple and its parking lot, and the church’s acquisition of many of the adjacent homes.

Still, the zoning regulations permit schools in this zone, and this design is a significant improvement over the initial one. The formerly four-story school has been reduced to three, the height limit for residential buildings in this zone. The third story is set back at points, better relating to the diminutive homes of 13th Street. Also crucial is the elimination of the rooftop play area with its tall fencing. The shift of the west wing toward W Street is also an improvement, as it better reinforces the street wall while managing to break up a long elevation. With that shift, and setting off a bit from the west property line, the building relieves the house next door of overwhelming mass and foundation problems resulting from deep excavation.

The previous staff report made reference to the townhouse project the Board approved in 2011 as representing the likely limit of height and bulk for the parcel (as well as a preferable knitting together of the residential neighborhood). The present school design apparently models itself after that residential project, lacking the porches of course, but rendered as repeating three-story three-window-bay units, with even the formerly proposed mansard roof expressed through a color and module change in the siding material. This gives the building some rhythm, but would be relentless were it not relieved by the various façade setbacks and the introduction of some brick. Overall, the size of the building is comparable to the aggregate size of the 23 rowhouses previously approved in concept as sufficiently compatible with the character of the historic district.

A building of this purpose and size, especially with a tall story sunk below grade, reasonably must economize with its exterior materials, yet it is arbitrary to approve for a school project materials that are considered incompatible for other types of projects, unless there is a particular affinity between a building type and a certain material. The Board has typically considered large expanses of EIFS and fiber-cement panels, especially when prominently visible from a street, to be incompatible materials. The 2011 residential project was to use fiber-cement products on the lower two floors, but applied as narrow-exposure lapped boards, interrupted by corner boards, window and door casings and porches. While lapping the boards exposes the thinness of the material, their shadow lines mitigate it. At a larger scale—a bigger building with less relief of the wall plane—fiber-cement panel is flat and featureless except for very narrow joints, although there is some flexibility to play with joint width in a rain screen installation with a primary weather barrier behind the cladding. Even a traditional material like true stucco, which EIFS imitates, is less successful when applied over such a large expanse of a rectilinear mass, because such large, boxy construction does not contain the fine-scaled changes in plane that a stuccoed building would historically have.

The staff seeks the Board’s comments on the compatibility of the materials as much as on the character and massing of the project as a whole.


HPO recommends that, if the Board finds the project not incompatible with the character of the historic district, it approve the concept of a subdivision (consolidation) of the lots and delegate further review of the subdivision to staff. The new construction will presumably return for revision or design development in any case.

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New City Administrator will attend Anacostia Coordinating Council meeting, Feb. 24th

 Anacostia Coordinating Council’s monthly meeting


Rashad Young, the new DC City Administrator, will speak at the Anacostia Coordinating Council’s monthly meeting next Tuesday, February 24th, 12 pm to 2 pm, at the Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place, SE.

Arrington Dixon, Chairman
Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC)

Philip Pannell, Executive Director
Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC)


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Special election for Ward 8 Councilmember is a “Civil War”

More than twenty potential candidates have gathered their nominating petitions and begun organizing for the April 28th Special-Election to fill the Ward 8 City Council seat left vacant by Marion Barry’s death on November 23rd. In order to qualify for the ballot candidates must secure 500 valid signatures by January 23rd.

The mayoral debate at Anacostia High School nearly got out of control. What will happen when candidates for the Ward 8 City Council position debate?

The mayoral debate at Anacostia High School nearly got out of control. What will happen when candidates for the Ward 8 City Council position debate?

In recent weeks vitriol has been exchanged between candidates on social media platforms and between campaign staff and volunteers on neighborhood streets. Rev. Oliver “OJ” Johnson, a community activist in Ward 8 for more than four decades and a former campaign organizer and ground operative for Mayor Walter Washington and early Barry campaigns, says Marion Barry’s death has made, “Ward 8 a political battlefield. We are witnessing a Civil War, brother against brother, family against family.”

Some candidates, such as Sandra Seegars, Nate Bennett Fleming, Trayon White and Eugene Kinlow, are recognized across the ward while others, such as Greta Fuller, and Karlene Armstead, are more closely associated with their respective neighborhoods. While many aspirants currently serve as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners or have held the office in recent memory, other potential candidates face the challenge of being largely unknown.

Sheila Bunn, a high-ranking member of Mayor Gray’s staff and daughter of recently deceased Congress Heights’ business owner James Bunn, announced her candidacy upon the swearing-in of Mayor Bowser. After much speculation within the media and community, Marion Barry’s son, Christopher, has picked up his nominating petitions making the continuance of a local political dynasty possible.

Factious political climate
Johnson says the opportunity to replace Barry has brought out nearly every possible community leader the ward has to offer, which has the potential to create long-term problems.

“You see a lot of support for candidates along geographic and demographic lines–young people, professionals, public housing residents, ex-offenders, established homeowners, single moms,” Angela Copeland, administrator, and sometimes referee, of the Great Ward Eight Facebook page where many candidates have posted in recent weeks, wrote in an email. “Each group saying their candidate is THE candidate. The choice candidate will have to cross those boundaries and represent the entire ward, take us into the future; free of the morass of ward in-fighting. It’s going to be a ‘show-up’ moment for Ward 8 in many ways.”

“When Marion was alive many of today’s candidates didn’t have the courage to challenge him. Therefore they were part of Barry’s campaign structure. That has all splintered now. This election could cause bad feelings among folks for years. Marion, whether or not he truly delivered results in the Ward, could maintain the peace among these different groups and their organizers. There wasn’t infighting when Marion was on the council because there wasn’t anything to fight over. Now we are seeing the lack of political infrastructure and sophistication in the Ward because for more than a decade there was very little organizing.”

In addition to Johnson’s analysis of the current special-election process, he says the short turnaround, with the four-year term coming up in 2016, means the factious political climate will likely endure.

“There is no time for these groups to coalesce because in less than two years they will be battling each other for the council seat. For those that qualify for the April ballot but lose they will try and keep their ground organization together. To run an effective campaign, a winning campaign, you have to have campaign workers, precinct captains, sign wavers and others. There are a lack of experienced workers available in the ward with so many candidates running, which means those with finances can import workers. Now that funding may help get you over the top and win, but once you’re in office you realize money doesn’t maintain support. Everyone who lost is going to be attacking the Councilmember because they’re calculating for 2016. It’s some madness that I’ve never seen before and I’ve damn near seen it all.”

Copeland offers a similar assessment, “It’s really early in the game and folk are posturing themselves and readying their squads. Some are out doing the work–getting petitions signed, shoring up their team—those are the serious candidates that will make it to the next step. Others are blowhards with a lot of talk of yesteryear associations, ad hominem attacks, and no platform. We’ll have a better idea of the playing field once the petitions are turned in and they clear the challenge period.

From the nearly two dozen potential candidates it is probable that a half-dozen will qualify with a likely field of Sandra Seegars, LaRuby May, Natalie Williams, Marion C. Barry, Sheila Bunn, Trayon White and possibly Nate Bennett Fleming. While it may be too much to hope that the tone will change, there is discontent building as the candidates personally attach each rather than advancing policy.

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Anacostia needs to learn some lessons… Capitol Hill Historic District Amendment-Expansion Nomination on the books.

Boschke _ Uniontown _ 1861For those that have formed organizations in advocacy of “Historic Preservation” and spoken on expanding Anacostia’s boundaries … Capitol Hill is already doing it. HPO and the city has requirements. You can’t wish on it. It takes research, documentation and procedural awareness.

Homes from the 1880s just up from 16th & W already gone. Harambe House gone. Old Barry Farm — the Freedmen’s Bureau Barry Farm — not protected.

Capitol Hill Historic District Amendment-Expansion Nomination

 Monday, December 29, 2014
Case 15-01

A nomination to expand the Capitol Hill Historic District boundaries to include all of Squares 753 and 778 and portions of  Squares 752 and 777 was filed by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C in December 2014.

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