The District Notebook in the June 14 District Extra misidentified a shopping center in Southeast Washington. It is the Skyland Shopping Center, not the Skyline center. (Published 7/21/2005)
Are you a political junkie looking for a serious fix? Do you want to work long hours for little pay and deal with the District government full time? Most important, do you think you can help a two-term councilman win a tough citywide reelection campaign?
If so, call (202) 724-8064 and ask for Phil -- that's Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). He is losing his aide-de-camp, chief of staff Alec Evans, and is looking for a new top aide heading into another tough reelection.
Evans, 26, is heading over to a top job with the mayoral campaign of Adrian Fenty (D-Ward 4).
"I really like his politics, especially when you consider the others who are considering running in the race,'' Evans said.
Mendelson has a reputation as a nice guy and policy wonk but not a natural pol like, well, Fenty. He has never received more than 50 percent of the vote in past Democratic primaries against multiple candidates. He is expected to face challenges from David Bowers, an affordable housing executive and anti-crime activist, and A. Scott Bolden, former D.C. Democratic Party chairman.
The city's peripatetic mayor, Anthony A. Williams (D), was joined at the baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday by council members Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).
The two council members were strong supporters of building a new stadium for the Washington Nationals last year.
Orange, who would like to replace Williams as the city's baseball fan-in-chief, said they were out at the game to inspect Comerica Park, which was designed by HOK, the same architects hired to design the Nats' stadium.
He said the D.C. VIPs would get a super-special-secret tour of the stadium.
But hey, who needs an excuse to go to Detroit?
Target or Bust
It only took a decade or so, but the city is moving forward on the conversion of the Skyline Shopping Center into a place where people actually want to shop.
Of course, it is no coincidence that it happened just months after the "Roar from the East" -- last year's elections that threw out three incumbents and replaced them with council members Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) and Marion Barry Jr. (D-Ward 8). All three live east of the Anacostia River.
The National Capital Revitalization Corp. is seeking permission in D.C. Superior Court to buy the 1940s-era Skyland Shopping Center and replace it with a Target store and other nationally known retailers and sit-down restaurants.
The failure of Kevin Chavous, the former Ward 7 council member, to get it done was an issue in his campaign defeat at the hand of Gray.
It is also no coincidence that the three have pressed hard on making Skyline happen, particularly Brown and Gray. Gray especially has established himself as a quiet workhorse who has won the respect of his council colleagues and the administration.
He designed a legal-sized chart with specific tasks and deadlines and then held the NCRC accountable for progress on Skyland. He sent a staff member to NCRC's meetings to monitor progress.
"What gets measured gets done,'' Gray said.
Kwame and the Bobcat
Speaking of Brown, the freshman council member was fined $500 for running afoul of the city's building codes.
But he is the first one to tell you that he wants to be treated like any other District resident. Absolutely, no special perks for this rookie elected official. He even stood in lines himself at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, a trying trial for any city resident.
It started when Brown discovered that a retaining wall at his house had fallen.
He called a construction company to repair it. After using a Bobcat -- one of those small bulldozers -- to move the dirt, the contractor used plywood to frame the wall on both sides. Brown called another contractor to bring a dumpster to remove the excess dirt and bricks.
On Monday, Brown called the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to see whether he needed a permit to rebuild the wall. The answer: a resounding yes.
To his surprise, the council member learned he had already violated the city's building code. Brown should have applied for an emergency permit. An inspector came out Monday evening, examined the work on the wall and issued Brown a stop-work order. Along with the citation came a $500 fine.
Like many other residents of late, Brown saw the city's aggressive campaign to cut down on illegal construction firsthand.
Brown said when he went downtown to pay the fines, "I told them 'Don't give me a break,' " Brown said.
"Even though I disagree with the fine, I'm a council member. I know what the law is designed for."
Maybe the surprising success of the Washington Nationals can rub off on the long-suffering effort to win full voting rights for District citizens. A 10-by-20-foot banner in the design of a D.C. license plate is now attached to RFK Stadium's west wall. "Go-Nats!" is printed in the style of a vanity plate.
But there's also a more subtle message.
Under "Go-Nats!" is the "Taxation Without Representation" slogan, just like real tags have. Voting rights advocates hope the banner will draw attention to D.C.'s lack of voting rights in Congress.