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Want to get involved? Consider serving on Trinidad Neighborhood Association board

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From Trinidad Neighborhood Association:

That’s right—we can’t do this without you and the support of the community! At our January meeting, on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, TNA will hold an election for a new Board of Directors. To vote, and/or to be eligible for the Board, you simply need to be a current TNA member, and that’s just $5 per year.

The Trinidad Neighborhood Association is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is elected among the membership. Any member in good standing may be nominated and, if elected, serve as a member of the Board of Directors for a term of one year. You can read a copy of our current bylaws, revised and adopted on February 20, 2013.

Members of the Board of Directors are responsible for the general governance of TNA. Additionally, Board members serve an advisory function toward the aim of developing a long-range strategic plan as well as annual goals and targets for TNA. Some board members may serve as Officers. Officers of TNA are elected among the members Board of Directors.

So be sure to become a member and attend our upcoming meeting—we’ve got some great ideas in store for 2014! And don’t forget to share this information with your friends and neighbors.

Michael Kingsbury’s Death Ruled Accidental; Police Looked in Car 5 Times Without Seeing Missing Child

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NBC Washington reports that the death of local 7-year old Michael Kingsbury has been ruled accidental with no signs of foul play.

The autistic child wandered away from his home on Sunday morning in early July, the mother called 911 and the police took a report, but the response left much to be desired.  Incorrect police descriptions of the child, a noticeable lack of missing child posters, and a “minimal” search for the first day were among possible missteps.

In the meantime, the small child suffered in sweltering heat in a neighbor’s car, in a backyard area secured by police officers and only 40 feet from where he went missing.  Police report that officers looked in the car at least 5 times, with no sign of the chile.  Volunteers who offered to assist with searching for little Michael were told help was not needed, and the area in which the car was located had been secured by police tape.

We previously posted a timeline of public events back in July, with more detail on the Kingsbury case.

DC Ambulances Available Only 17% of the Time

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Fire at Webb Elementary in 2012.

Fire at Webb Elementary in 2012.

Earlier this year, we were one of the first to report deplorable fleet tracking and maintenance issues at the DC Fire and EMS Department.  Fire officials provided false records to the DC Council about the fire engines, ambulances, and other equipment needed to save lives.  Officials overstated fleet inventory, misstated records, and some vehicles listed as “in use” were found to have been sent to the scrap yard years ago. Most concerning, no one seemed to know how many fire trucks and ambulances were owned by the city, much less how many were available for use.

Over the summer, maintenance problems plagued the city’s fleet, with claims that not enough ambulances were available to handle the city’s call load. To reassure the public, Mayor Gray announced that DC would place 30 new ambulances in service to ease problems.  So far, says a fire department official, approximately a dozen new ambulances have been placed in service, but they don’t seem to be the magic bullet.

A tipster provided copies of what appeared to be maintenance documents apparently discarded in a city trash can on a public sidewalk near a DC government facility.  20131025-134213.jpgWe confirmed the authenticity of the documents with a senior official in the DC government with knowledge of fleet operations, who acknowledged the data was consistent with FASTER, the fire department’s fleet maintenance tracking system.  He explained that the “availability” of a vehicle is calculated by dividing the number of hours a vehicle is not down for maintenance by the total number of hours in the period.

For example, in a 24-hour day, an ambulance may be taken out of service for maintenance for 6 hours due to an issue that would risk patient care.  For that 24-hour period, the ambulance was out of service for 6 hours but available for 18 hours, thus 75% availability.

According to city records, ambulance availability hovered between 70-80% from October 2012 through spring of 2013.  That is, on an average 24-hour day, the average ambulance may only be available to work 17 hours.  During the summer, when the plethora of equipment problems came to light publicly, the average ambulance was available less than 35% of the time- about 8 hours/day- according to the maintenance documents.

After that, however, the city has placed renewed focus on getting its lifesaving vehicles in tip-top shape, and placed new ambulances into service with much fanfare.  The public was reassured time and again that the problems were being resolved, and that earlier reports were blown out of proportion.  As the city added 12 new ambulances, surely availability would increase, perhaps significantly.

However, for the quarter ending September 30, 2013, the Department’s fleet tracking system shows that ambulance availability dropped to an appallingly low 17.03%.

That’s right- even with a dozen brand new ambulances, the city’s medical response may still be suffering, with DC’s 111 ambulances able to respond to emergency calls about 4 hours per day on average.

summary

Why is that? The numbers certainly raised some interesting questions. Namely, why is the ambulance fleet down 83% of the time, even with a dozen new ambulances in service?

One fire official we spoke with says just yesterday (October 24) the department had to remove 17 units from service during a single 8-hour shift. Reasons for the downtime included engine warning lights, fuel system problems, radio failure, oxygen system leaks, and more. One unit was even down due to a staffing shortage due to FLSA public safety regulations.

But even the new ambulances have troubles. According to one official we spoke with, the city decided to save money and use older, used stretchers on the new ambulances. Since the new ambulances are a few inches taller than the old ones, the old stretchers don’t line up properly, causing stretcher brackets to prematurely fail.

Have a tip for us? Contact us using our online tip form.

The raw reports from the DC Fire & EMS fleet tracking system (FASTER) are below:

Comcast Kicks off Third Year of Low-Cost Internet Option for Low-Income Families

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comcast

Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen yesterday held a special event at Neval Thomas Elementary School here in DC to kick off the third year of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which provides low-income families with high-speed Internet service for only $9.95 per month and low-cost computers for $149.  In the first 22 months of the program, Internet Essentials has connected more than 5,000 families (or more than 20,000 residents) in the Washington, D.C. market to broadband service at home.

“Compared to a year ago we have more than doubled the number of families here in the D.C. area who are now able to complete school assignments, access government resources, apply for jobs and scholarships and pay bills at home,” said Cohen.  “With the unwavering support of schools, community organizations, legislators and other partners in Washington, D.C. and nationwide, our Internet Essentials program has been making demonstrable progress in closing the digital divide.”

In addition to Comcast representatives, the event was attended by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel; Alma J. Powell, chair of America’s Promise Alliance and honorary chair of DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI); Ayris T. Scales, executive director of DCPNI; and other civic and community leaders.

In addition to re-launching Internet Essentials in the Washington, D.C. area, Comcast and DCPNI announced a partnership to help increase digital literacy and connect more families to the Internet in the Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood in the Northeast section of the District. As part of the partnership, 300 families with children who attend Neval Thomas Elementary School, the Parkside Campus of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy and Educare of Washington, D.C. will receive a free computer upon enrollment in the Internet Essentials program.  In addition, Comcast will sponsor five Internet Essentials digital literacy training courses offered by DCPNI that will focus on Internet basics, finding and applying for jobs and online safety.

“The partnership between Comcast and the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative does more than create greater learning opportunities for the children and families of Kenilworth-Parkside, it serves as a model for the rest of the nation about the role and impact the business community can have,” said Powell.  “It is initiatives like this, and through the collaboration of nonprofit organizations, educators, community and civic leaders, businesses and families, that we can make real and significant progress in this work to help more children succeed.”

In the Washington, D.C. area, Comcast is working with a growing network of community-based organizations, including Asian American LEAD, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Byte Back, D.C. Public Library, Greater Washington Urban League, Latin American Youth Center, United Way of the National Capital Area and more to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training.

The high-speed Internet service is $9.95/month with no increases, equipment fees, or activation fees, and Comcast also offers low-cost computers for $149 as well as free Internet training.  For more information, or to sign up for the service, visit http://www.internetessentials.com/ or call 855-846-8376.

“2 Million Bikers to DC” Denied Permit, But Coming Anyway

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2 million bikers

A group called “2 Million Bikers to DC” organized a large 9/11 memorial bike ride, with a planned route they call fairly typical of DC rides.  However, their permit was denied, and the bikers are coming anyway. The ride is to honor victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the men and women of our armed forces.

Although the bikers say they plan to follow all applicable laws and traffic regulations, you may want to be prepared for some traffic disruption this Wednesday.

UPDATE: DCRA reports, “To clarify: No special event permit for this event was submitted to our office…A special event permit covers a single location (e.g., Truckeroo) or a few specific blocks (e.g., Adams Morgan Festival). What the organizers appear to have wanted is a parade permit. Those generally go through MPD and/or NPS. ”  It’s unclear to whom the permit application referenced by the group was submitted, but they may have applied to the National Park Service and/or the Metropolitan Police Department.

UPDATE 2: We’ve confirmed that the permit was denied by the National Park Service due to resource issues.

From their Facebook page:

Washington DC has DENIED our permit for a no-stop ride through Washington DC. We find this regretful for the residents and businesses of that great city, and humbly offer our apologies. What could have been a one or two hour ride through will now likely be an all day event. We will be obeying all laws. We will be stopping at all stoplights, stop signs, and yielding to all pedestrians.

RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES OF WASHINGTON DC: On behalf of the National “2 Million Bikers to DC” Team, please accept our sincere apologies. We did the right thing and went through the proper channels to secure a no-stop permit to ride through your great city. We wanted to ride an established route, which would have taken us past the Viet Nam Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, across the bridge into Virginia, and that’s it! We would have been completely out of Washington DC, and your city would have been back to normal.

The National Team fully expected our permit to be rejected, and have already drafted a Plan-B. That Plan-B will be posted a little later today once the final details have been bolted down.

We know that California and Texas riders had kicks stands up yesterday. Many other western states have kickstand up today and throughout the weekend.

RIDERS: You are true, blue Patriots and we salute you for your participation in this event! Many of you have taken time off of work to be here. You have freely given of your time, your funds, and your bikes to ride shoulder to shoulder in this event. You have have left your families and your jobs to be here. Those of us who ride come from different clubs, chapters, and organizations. Some of us ride with family and friends and some ride alone. But on September 11th, we ride as one!! We ride to pay tribute and offer respect to those that lost their lives on that day 12 years ago, and to salute our troops engaged in the War on Terror. Riders!…we are the best of the best in America!! Our love for these people and this country is staggering, and we will make a display of Patriotism and solidarity America won’t soon forget!!

Riders!…we lift you up to the Lord and pray that His hand and divine protection will ride with you all.

Rubber side down, brothers! See you Wednesday morning!!

Tonight: Food Trucks, Bicycle Giveaway, Movies, and Dog-friendly Fun at Bardo

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Bardo movee

 

Seriously, Bardo’s great and has something for everyone.  Tonight, they’ll have food trucks, a bicycle giveaway, movies, and dog-friendly fun.

From the folks at our neighborhood beer garden, Bardo (1200 Bladensburg Rd NE):

Food trucks tonite! Indian food provided by Merlindia, Korean BBQ Tacos provided by TaKorean, subs provided by Mother Ruckers. Linus bicycle giveaway.

Bring ur dog by this weekend, we open @ noon. Over 15000 sq ft to roam off leash. It’s like a dog park with beer (and cornhole).

Friday’s free outdoor movie: Breaking Away @9

 

In addition, they report that the city inspector approved the concrete forms so they can get started on pouring concrete for their brewery equipment next week:

Inspector approved the forms, Brewery’s concrete pouring commencing next week

 

Awesome!

 

DC Woman Calls 911 Because She’s Stuck in Traffic

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A DC 911 calltaker, interested in hearing your complaints about traffic.

DC 911 calltakers have nothing better to do than hear your all-important complaint about being stuck in traffic for a few minutes.

Thanks to a reader for sending this in.  A Brookland woman recently reported that the traffic on Michigan Avenue NE in Ward 5 was so burdensome that she just had to call 911 (emphasis added):

from:     K [redacted]
to:     Brookland@yahoogroups.com
date:     Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 4:10 PM
subject:     [Brookland] Gridlocked Brookland traffic

I’m hoping that someone in our city government gets the message to start paying attention to traffic patterns after seeing the gridlock nightmare that’s resulted this afternoon — before rush hour even started — from the closing of the Michigan/Monroe intersection.

I called 911 shortly after 3 p.m. when it took me forever to continue northbound on Harewood Road from 4th Street, because Michigan was gridlocked. I hope the city gets some traffic control folks to Brookland to handle today’s rush hour.

Except for someone’s posting to this list in the past week, I never heard any announcement from the city that the Michigan/Monroe intersection would be closing today and traffic would be detoured. Did the city announce this to anyone?

Considering that Michigan and Monroe are major east-west commuter routes into and out of D.C. from Maryland, shouldn’t the city have posted some advance warning signs for commuters to read?

Kathy [redacted]
[redacted] Street NE

UPDATE: A reader forwarded us a message from this morning in which the woman stated, “I don’t think there was anything wrong with me calling 911 yesterday to alert the police…I have no idea if they responded.”  We’re willing to bet they had other things to do and are probably well-aware that construction on a major thoroughfare probably creates some traffic delays.

Florida Ave Transportation Study: Meeting June 19

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florida ave-multimodal-transpo-study-area

First Public Meeting

When: Wednesday, June 19, 7:00-9:00pm

Where: Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave. NE – Chapel Hall (campus map)

Purpose of the Study

The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has initiated a multimodal safety and planning study of Florida Avenue, NE. Focusing on the Florida Avenue corridor from New York Avenue to H Street/Benning Road (open a larger study area map here), the study will evaluate safety, streetscape, and operational enhancements to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists while ensuring all users have safe access within and through this important corridor.

A critical link in the District’s roadway network and part of a bourgeoning area of the city, Florida Avenue, NE is a complex corridor with multiple land uses, varying roadway conditions, and important transit connections. The corridor serves as the main street for the Gallaudet University campus and residents of Wards 5 and 6, as well as an increasingly popular regional destination following the development of Union Market and the NoMa business district. This study seeks to effectively balance the transportation needs of all users of the corridor.

Get Involved

DDOT is committed to ensuring that Florida Avenue, NE is a safe transportation corridor and wants to engage with those who live, work and recreate in the area. The study process will include three public meetings at key stages in the planning process, and all interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend. In addition, the public is encouraged to submit ideas and input regarding transportation improvements along Florida Avenue, using the online mapping and comment features on this web site. In addition, a Community Outreach Advisors group will be providing guidance to the DDOT team throughout the planning process.

Initial concepts and alternatives, as well as public meeting materials, will be posted on the study web site as the study progresses.

Additionally information will be posted at http://www.floridaavesafety.org.

Post-Fire Frager’s Hardware Fundraiser

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Frager's Hardware Fire, photo by @alex_block

Frager’s Hardware Fire, photo by @alex_block

Frager’s Harware, a local hardware store in the Eastern Market neighborhood since 1920, suffered a devastating fire last night.  Although all customers and staff made it out without harm, Councilmember Tommy Wells calling it a total loss.  The owner has stated he will rebuild.

Frager’s has been a fixture in the community for over 90 years, always providing great customer service with a small business hometown feel.  If Frager’s didn’t have it, you probably didn’t need it.

If you’d like to donate, local resident Julia Christian has setup an online campaign to help Frager’s out with expenses not covered by insurance.

To donate, visit the donation page here, or use the donation widget in the sidebar.  As of this posting, the community ahs donated over $8,000 in just a few hours.

Councilmember McDuffie Fires Staffer for Unauthorized Expenditures

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Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie announced this morning that he has terminated a staffer for making unauthorized expenditures from his Constituent Services Fund:

May 31, 2013

Dear Ward 5 Residents,

It is with deep regret that I report that following a routine, internal review of my Constituent Service Fund, I learned on Wednesday that a member of my staff made $225.07 in unauthorized expenditures from the Fund. This obviously is a very serious personnel matter, and I am disheartened that this incident occurred.

I hold myself and my office to the highest standard of personal integrity and have acted swiftly to address this matter. To this end, yesterday I took the necessary steps to terminate the employee and reported the violation to the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF). Now that this matter is under review, I have full confidence that OCF will conduct a thorough and prompt investigation.

Best,

[Kenyan McDuffie signature]

It’s good to see that there exists 1) accountability for the funds and routine reviews, and 2) swift consequences for abuses.   You can view a copy of the release here.

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