D.C. Lowers Some Speeding Fees

April 11, 2016

Mayor Vincent Gray has lowered speeding ticket fees within the District of Columbia. Effective Nov. 5, those caught speeding on camera will encounter lower fines.

Eric Goulet, Gray’s budget director, noted that automated traffic enforcement generated a surplus of $27 million in fiscal 2012, and this was expected to reoccur in fiscal 2013. Now, lowered fines are expected to bring the extra revenue down to $3.5 million.

Violators caught at 10 miles-per-hour above the limit will be fined $50, rather than $75, and violators caught at 11 to 15 miles-per-hour above the limit will be fined $100 rather than $125.

However, this new regulation will hurt those who are caught exceeding the speed limit by 25 miles-per-hour. These violators will face and increased fine of $300 instead of $250.

These changes do not apply to tickets issued by officers who pull over violators. These fees, and the fine for running a red light, will remain the same.

The bill was introduced by D.C. council members Mary Cheh, Tommy Wells and Marion Barry. Wells argued that fines did not need to be as high as they previously were to have a deterrent effect on speeding.

Gray was able to enforce this bill immediately, working through a regulatory fix rather than the District Council’s lengthier process to amend traffic-camera fines.

Gray noted that he is not seeking a rift with lawmakers. “I’ve said many times that we would have our own plan, so we’re pursuing that,” he said, “If there are other issues on the table, we’d be happy to work with the council.”

Bird Talk

In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had grown up watching Sesame Street, learning from the likes of Elmo, Count, and, of course, Big Bird.

The beloved yellow creature was mentioned during last week’s presidential debates, but the topic of discussion was not the lessons he’s taught Sesame Street’s viewers. Rather, Governor Romney pledged to cut funding from public broadcasting and put Big Bird on the chopping block. Romney’s willingness to eliminate the bird that has been a childhood fixture to so many and in actuality receives very little amounts of funding from PBS is indicative of a greater pattern in Romney’s behavior: he has done little to endear himself to a large percentage of the American population. Instead, there seems to be a divide between Romney and the average American.

This was evident during Romney’s April lecture at Otterbein University in Ohio. He suggested that students borrow money from their parents to pay for their education, seemingly indifferent to the idea that such a luxury is simply not feasible for all Americans. While Romney was able to use a stock portfolio his father had given him to support his family during his college years, many other college students are dependent on public funding.

Romney’s 47 percent comments are now infamous, and they further contribute to the divide between the candidate and the average American. He referred to a large percentage of the population as acting “entitled.”

“They should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said. He ultimately stated that his job was “not to worry about those people.” Though Romney later admitted that these comments were “completely wrong,” the damage had already been done. His earlier statement had painted a self-portrait of callousness and indifference, and that is not something easily forgotten.

Between wanting to eliminate a central childhood figure, showing an indifference to the financial realities of a college education, and referring to nearly half of the population as irresponsible and entitled, Romney has done little to make himself a relatable or even likable figure. He has shown indifference to factors that are significant to many Americans, and it will be interesting to see how this will influence his results in next month’s elections. Meanwhile, Big Bird, unsupported by Romney, continues to educate the youth of the nation.

Sprig & Sprout Shuts Down Temporarily — to Improve

December 13, 2012

Well, this is refreshing: a restaurant gives itself a bad review — and plans to re-open as a better operation.

After experiencing unmanageably large amounts of customers and order on its opening day, the new Pho and Viet sandwich shop Sprig and Sprout on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park near Whole Foods closed it doors until Friday while it reassesses the way it runs its business.

Sprig and Sprout on Monday and was unable keep up with the high volume of customers, causing them to temporarily close in order to reassess just one day after their initial opening.

“Boo,” commented Ri Das on the Sprig and Sprout Facebook page, “After all that waiting you guys ran out of food before we could order. If you had answered your phone, could have at least saved us the trip.”

However, in spite of these initial hiccups, many people have positive things to say about Sprig and Sprout, and support for the restaurant seems to be strong.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day!” said Diana McLaughlin Forbes said on Facebook, “You’ll get it right, and soon. Good luck Friday!”

People also praised the business’s transparency and quality of food. Starting on Friday, Sprig and Sprout will re-open with limited hours.

“It’s going to take a few weeks for us to get better and find our groove, so instead of jumping into the deep end we are going to get in slowly,” the owners explained on Facebook.

The restaurant, located at 2317 Wisconsin Ave., NW, has posted new hours:

Friday, lunch only, 11 a.m to 4 p.m.
Saturday, dinner only, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Volunteering the Holiday Cheer

December 12, 2012

In addition to exchanging gifts with family and friends, helping the less fortunate is another great way to spend time during the holidays. D.C. is filled with many volunteer opportunities that can enrich your holiday season.

Georgetown Ministry Center Coat Drive. Georgetown Ministry Center, located at 1041 Wisconsin Ave., NW, serves the homeless in the winter. Several Georgetown businesses, including the Georgetowner, have teamed up to warm up the community with a coat drive. Winter coats can be dropped off at the Water Street Gym, 3255 K St., NW. You can also organize a drop off at your own place of employment – contact trish@waterstreetgym.com. Water Street Gym will be collecting coats through Jan. 31, 2013. Last year, the drive collected over 90 coats for the homeless, according to the Georgetown Ministry Center’s blog. Hats, gloves, scarves and other warm winter items are also welcome donations. Please help homeless people in our community by supporting this worthy cause.

The Holiday Project, a nonprofit serving DC, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, brings cheerful holiday spirit to those in nursing homes and hospitals. You can get involved by donating funds or participating in a one of their Christmas visits. For a list of dates and more information, visit www.holidayproject.org.

The Cathedral of St. Matthew is once again sponsoring their Adopt-a-Family program. This program has given helped hundreds of families over the years by providing them with clothing, household items, furniture, and toys. Volunteers are needed to interview families, organizes wish lists and help wrapping and distributing gifts. To get involved, email socialjustice@stmatthewscathederal.org.

The Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service is organizing a day of volunteering on December 25. Opportunities include visiting seniors, organizing Christmas parties, preparing food, serving meals, caroling or playing music, donating blood and spending time with Children. There are special projects for both families and small groups. Visit www.dcjcc.org to sign up.

The Capital Area Food Bank takes volunteers as well as monetary donations. For those wanting to do even more, the Food Bank also has information about organizing your own food drive. More information can be found on their website, www.capitalareafoodbank.org.

Food & Friends supports those with cancer, HIV/Aids and other illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals. Holiday volunteer opportunities include helping with meal delivery Dec 25 – Jan 1 and kitchen assistance Dec 24 – Jan 3. For more information email dpitz@foodandfriends.org or visit
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Exquisitely Evil Arrives at Spy Museum

December 5, 2012

Nov. 16 marked the opening of Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains at the Spy Museum. Tied in with the recent 50th anniversary of Dr. No and the release of Skyfall, the exhibit commemorates a different side of the James Bond franchise – the villains of the series. Exquisitely Evil looks at Bond each villain and how his nemeses have evolved over time.

This was one of the first times that the villains of the series were a main focus, and many of the museum staff were eager to see the franchise in this light.

“Where would Bond be without villains?” asked Milton Maltz, founder and chairman of the Spy Museum.

Exquisitely Evil aims to cater to a wide audience. Accordingly, the Spy Museum worked for fifteen months on an exhibit that would engage everyone, from Bond aficionados to families with children. Numerous articles are on lend from EON Productions, the London-based producer of the James Bond films. The exhibit’s displays are both interactive and static and are full of Bond related information and artifacts.

Items on display include Jaw’s teeth from The Spy Who Loved Me, the destroyed satellite from Goldeneye and Dr. No’s infamous tarantula from the first Bond film. The exhibit’s interactive displays include a very dynamic, motion activated shark tank and the opportunity to create a villainous persona and lair.

“My favorite part of the exhibit is the shark tank,” Maltz said, “People will find it interesting – it’s safe danger.”

Profiles of Bond villains can be seen throughout the exhibit. These feature a biography and a summary of their evil schemes. All of Bond’s major nemeses are present, from Irma Bunt to Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

The exhibit also features stories from real spies, made possible by former members of the CIA that shared their experiences.

With the 50th anniversary of the series, Bond has been on everyone’s mind recently. Exquisitely Evil brings the villains to the forefront, and the exhibit’s visitors will be surrounded by characters that so many have loved to hate.

Many people have their personal favorites among Bond’s nemeses.

“Rosa Klebb [is my favorite villain],” Dame Stella Rimington, former head of MI5 and attendee of the exhibit’s opening, said, “When I first became head of MI5, I had a journalist tell me that I wasn’t at all like her, like she had expected. I was kind of offended.”

Exquisitely Evil will remain at the Spy Museum until 2014.
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Real Estate for Real People

November 28, 2012

Washington’s dynamic new brokerage company Real Living | At Home promises a one of a kind experience for those who looking to buy a house in the area. With its extensive use of social media, Real Living aims to strongly engage with its clients and give them an authentic idea of what living in DC is like.

The company hopes that these objectives will foster true connections with clients.

“If clients are going to work with Real Living, I want them to know exactly what kind of agents we have,” company CEO and founder Darrin Friedman said, “And we have fantastic agents who really understand what it means to connect with today’s consumer.”

Founded earlier this year, Real Living is a full service brokerage company. Where they dif- fer from other companies of the sort is with their commitment to community and engagement.

“For us culture is everything. Vision is every- thing,” Friedman explained, “Responsiveness, taking care of our clients is everything. And we work through social media, different flavors of social media engagement, and also something as simple as a letter. Every new client gets a letter. It says welcome to our family of clients, if you need anything this is how you reach us. It’s more than just an island with one agent. There’s no such thing as an island with us.”

Real Living specifically targets potential home buyers and sellers between the ages of 24-44. According to Friedman, 70% transactions in real estate involve someone in this age group. As a result, proper communication with this group is key.

“You must know how to communicate, you must know how to market to know how to reach that primary age group or you’re really going to be left behind,” Friedman said.

In today’s age of smart phones and ipads, Real Living has found social media to be an invaluable asset in their goal of connecting with consumers. The company has been using Facebook and Pintrest to engage with clients. Their Pintrest site highlights their favorite house fronts and interiors in D.C., and they held a contest via Facebook page that entailed guess- ing a picture of a D.C. streetfront that was taken twenty-five years ago with a Starbucks gift cer- tificate as a prize.

“I have not yet put up a listing on our Facebook page,” Friedman said, “That’s not the point, that’s not true engagement.”

“We do have big goals,” Friedman said, “But we also view our goals as quality…I’d much rather grow organically and with talent than quickly with herds of people that just fall out.”

GBA Announces New Leaders, Sets New Goals for 2013

November 26, 2012

The Wednesday meeting of the Georgetown Business Association saw the election of a new member to its executive board and gave new roles to existing officers.

Riyad Said of Wells Fargo Advisors, previously vice president of the Business Association, will now serve as president. Janine Schoonover of JSWGroup will now serve as vice president. Karen Ohri of Georgetown Floorcoverings will remain in her previous position as treasurer for another year. And Molly Quigley of Clydes Group, the Business Association’s new executive member, will fill the role of secretary.

During the meeting, Schoonover presented a list of goals for the next year. Among these goals are:

– Taking on more of a lobbying role

– Increasing benefits to GBA members

– Getting GBA members involved in the re-zoning of Georgetown and the parking pilot initiative

– Building upon Georgetown’s sense of community

– Having GBA become more civically involved and charity oriented

– Building upon communication between GBA, CAG, BID, ANC and OGB

Schoonover said that she was ultimately “honored and proud to serve with [her] fellow officers and [is] excited for the differences in leadership styles and communication.”

Also, on Dec. 12, the GBA will have its annual holiday meeting at the Dumbarton House. The 2012 GBA annual awards will be presented. These awards include the Jose Pozell Public Safety Award, the Art Schultz Communitarian Award, the Business Person of the Year, the Business of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Georgetown Business Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving and maintaining business in Georgetown. Their two principle goals are to “connect Georgetown businesses with potential customers, other businesses and Georgetown/DC leadership” and “advocate on behalf of the Georgetown businesses and professionals.”

Celebrating America’s Heroes This Veteran’s Day

November 15, 2012

D.C. is rich with history soldiers helped create, and this weekend the District, as well as the rest of the country, will honor these veterans. Veterans Day weekend in D.C. will feature a wide range of events to honor those who have served the country.

On Saturday, November 10:

The American Freedom Festival will feature rock bands Chicago and Kansas. The concert will honor veterans and Armed forces; proceeds will benefit organizations that serve and support our veterans, active duty military service members, and injured soldiers. The event will also feature a Veterans Career Hiring Event. Tickets: Ticketmaster.com

The National Marine Corps Museum will celebrate the both Marine Corp’s birthday and Veteran’s Day with a ceremonial sword cake cutting.

The Manassas Veterans Day Parade at 11:00 a.m. features military and high school bands, pipe and drum corps teams, military units from the various Armed Services, and military vehicles.

On Veteran’s Day, Sunday, November 11:

The National Veterans Day Service will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. featuring a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Seating is limited and visitors are encouraged to arrive at least a half hour prior to the event.

From 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Boston University CDIA is sponsoring a walkabout for photographers of all ages. Participants will visit places of historical interest, such as the Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, The Air Force Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. RSVP to 202.625.1110.

The World War II Memorial will have a wreath laying ceremony at 9:00 a.m.
The Air Force Memorial will have a wreath laying ceremony and a two-minute moment of silence on at 11:00 a.m.

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial will have a color guard, speakers, and a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of all who served during the Vietnam War. 1:00 p.m.

The ceremony at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial will feature stories of veterans from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as their children, told firsthand. The event will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and 2:00 p.m.to 4:00 p.m.

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens will have many special activities, including a concert by the all-veteran barbershop chorus at 11:00 a.m. and wreath laying at the tomb of George Washington at 2:00 p.m. Active duty military personnel and veterans get in free of charge; the concert wreath and laying ceremony are included with regular Mount Vernon admission.

How to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Sandy

November 9, 2012

There are several sources though which to get involved if you want to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Many organizations have said that the best way to help is to donate money, and they made doing so as easy as a text message or a few clicks online.

American Red Cross: The Red Cross is accepting blood donations as well as monetary ones. There are a variety of ways to get involved. Text REDCROSS to 90999 in order to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can also call 1-800-733-2767 for English and 1-800-257-7575 for Spanish. You can donate money (http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations) and find information about donating blood (http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood) online.
Also, there’s a link on the iTunes homepage to donate to the Red Cross via your iTunes account. According to Apple, 100 percent of your donation will go to the Red Cross.

Salvation Army: Salvation Army is working to provide meals and shelter to those in need after Sandy. A press release last Tuesday announced that “At this point, in-kind donations, such as used clothing and used furniture, are not being accepted for hurricane relief.” You can text STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation; to confirm the donation, reply with yes. You can also call 800-725-2769 or donate online (https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/disaster).

Habitat for Humanity: Habitat is doing its usual work of rebuilding homes. To make a donation, call 1-800-422-4828, and press 0 when prompted.

Catholic Charities: You can donate online by calling 1-800-919-9338.

Humane Society: The Humane Society’s Animal Rescue Team are working to rescue any pets in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast who were unable to go with their owners to safety. You can donate by calling 301-258-8276.

A Night at the C&O Canal, Oct. 13

November 6, 2012

Residents and visitors will have a rare opportunity to view the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal by twilight this Saturday, Oct. 13. The canal is sponsoring its second annual Park After Dark fundraiser. With proceeds supporting the Canal Trust, the park’s official nonprofit, the event will allow visitors to spend a night in the park, which traditionally closes at dusk.

Last year’s benefit was a sold out success and brought 250 guests to the C&O Canal. Around $60,000 was raised to support programs at the park, including Canal Quarters and Canal Discoveries. This year’s benefit is shaping up to be another big event – attendance now allows for up to 300 guests. The event will feature stargazing, live music, chili and cornbread, beer and wine, live and silent auctions, campfires and a Civil War encampment.

The C&O Canal dates back to the 19th Century with a groundbreaking ceremony in 1828 by President John Quincy Adams signaling the start of construction. One of its primary purposes was to carry mail between the District of Columbia and West Virginia. The canal was taken over by the National Park Service in 1971 and receives more than 3 million recorded visitors per year.

Tickets to this year’s Park After Dark fundraiser are $150 each and must be purchased in advance; $115 of this price is tax deductible. Tickets can be bought online at www.canaltrust.org.

The event will take place at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, Md — 301-767-3714 — Oct. 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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