A.U. Professor Sentenced for Stealing Prescription Drugs

November 29, 2015

On March 20, American University professor David Pitts was sentenced to serve one year and a day in prison for second-degree burglary. Pitts was arrested in September 2014 after breaking into an office building on New Mexico Avenue. According to the D.C. Superior Court, Pitts will also serve 182 days for theft of the first degree.

Prosecutors claimed Pitts broke into the building intending to steal prescription medications. He was arrested after he lit several fires in the area. He was caught in an office building trying to steal prescription pads, medication and controlled substances.

The police later found more than 5,300 prescription pills and blank prescription pads in Pitts’s apartment. In January, he pleaded guilty to the burglary charge.

Judge Zoe Bush acknowledged Pitts’s longstanding mental health and substance abuse issues during the sentencing hearing. However, the judge said the professor needs to spend time in prison as the fires he set prove that he presents danger to society.

Pitts is the former chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy. His employment status is now on review, said Kelly Alexander, University Director of Public Relations.

”I owe my people an apology,” Pitts said of the university, its students and his partner of six years. “I ask for their forgiveness and the opportunity to earn their trust.”

New Traffic Signal Timing Begins Friday for Downtown, Georgetown

May 11, 2015

The District Department of Transportation has announced that it will implement new traffic signal timing plans for almost 650 intersections in the greater downtown Washington, D.C., area. The so-called timing optimization will be start 8 p.m., Friday, April 24, and continue throughout May.

This is expected to reduce motorist travel times and reduce emissions and fuel consumption, DDOT says. It will improve traffic flow, reduce transit running times and optimize pedestrian crossing times. The citywide signal optimization initiative started in 2012, and it will enhance D.C.’s entire traffic signal network of more than 1,650 signals by the end of 2016.

The project will be done in various downtown areas. A few intersections in Georgetown along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue are included in the effort. The project area boundary also includes 23rd Street NW to the west, North Capitol Street to the east, U Street and Florida Avenue NW to the north and I-395 to the south.

DDOT says it will be monitoring and making adjustments to the traffic signal timing operations, throughout April and May. DDOT advises motorists to use caution in these areas as drivers become acquainted with the new signal timing patterns.

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Helping to End Human Trafficking: Two Women, Two Organizations

May 7, 2015

April 16 was the 153rd anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 enslaved persons were freed in the District on that date in 1862, eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation called for the end of slavery on Jan. 1, 1863. To mark the anniversary, a fundraising event dedicated to preventing child trafficking was held in Georgetown at M29 Lifestyle.

Human trafficking – the trade in human beings, mostly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others – is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today. It may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy.

Every day, young women and children are being bought and sold, used and tortured. In Washington, D.C., alone, trafficking innocent children is a $100,000 business. Two individuals, and the organizations they founded to help prevent human trafficking, are described below.

Deborah Sigmund
Founder, Innocents at Risk

Deborah Sigmund is the founder and director of Innocents at Risk, a nonprofit organization established to help stop the trafficking of women and children. Its mission is to educate citizens about the issue of global and local human trafficking. “We are dedicated to protecting children from all forms of abuse, and work to end child exploitation and child trafficking everywhere,” Sigmund says.

Officially launched in 2005, Innocents at Risk has been working since then to raise awareness about child trafficking in America. The organization regularly presents at seminars nationwide. Sigmund believes that people need to know that children are being targeted, kidnapped and abused.

In addition to their seminars, Innocents at Risk launched a Flight Attendant Initiative program in 2008. “Through this program, many lives have been saved,” Sigmund said.

Because many people don’t know what actions they can take – some aren’t even familiar with the term human trafficking – Innocents at Risk has partnered with the Department of State and Homeland Security to make the public aware of this issue. “In every single aspect, we need people to create awareness,” Sigmund said.

Dr. Ludy Green
Founder, Second Chance Employment Services

Dr. Ludy Green is an expert on U.S. domestic violence and human trafficking issues, as well as an internationally acclaimed speaker. Green founded Second Chance Employment Services (SCES) to help women at risk find stable employment and assist them in achieving financial independence.

SCES was founded in February 2001. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization educates, trains and places women in meaningful long-term careers, providing them with the financial independence and confidence they need to take care of themselves and their children.

Green has created an alternative approach to survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and other forms of extreme oppression. In her book ”Ending Domestic Violence Captivity: A Guide to Economic Freedom,” the link between financial independence and freedom is drawn. A tool to help victims of domestic abuse, the book details Green’s volunteer experience at My Sister’s Place, which led her to a better understanding of the importance of economic independence. Her next goal is to have the book included in university curricula.

SCES’s placement program specializes in helping clients from shelters, faith-based organizations and other nonprofits. The organization works with companies that are interested in offering priority placement to SCES’s clients, such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Macy’s, SunTrust Bank and IBM. SCES also provides comprehensive employment services throughout the community.

Tour Couture: 84th House Tour

May 6, 2015

This issue’s cover celebrates a contemporary take on the Georgetown House Tour. The photo of models Alessa Fisher and Leanne Mayo (of THE Artist Agency) by Svenja Herrmann was taken at 3425 Prospect St. NW, sometimes called Quality Hill-Worthington House. Hair ad makeup were done by Lexi Martinez for THE Artist Agency while styling and set design were completed by Lee Will. The dress worn by Fisher is designed by Jason Wu, and the pants and top worn by Mayo is designed by Yigal Azrouël. [gallery ids="102059,134542,134544,134546,134540,134548,134551,134550" nav="thumbs"]

Lawsuit From Charlie Sheen Escort Goes to Trial

April 23, 2015

”This is a clear violation of the District of Columbia Whistleblower Protection Act,” said Metropolitan Police Department officer Hilton Burton, as he initiated a lawsuit against MPD Chief Cathy Lanier in August 2012. The suit finally went to trial last week.

Burton filed a whistleblower lawsuit after he was demoted two ranks and transferred from his position in the Special Operations Division following a police escort of actor Charlie Sheen nearly four years ago.

In the lawsuit, Burton claims that the MPD did not have a ”clear policy in place to safeguard the health and safety to the public as it relates to non-dignitary escorts.”

Burton is suing for alleged violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act and seeking $1 million in compensatory damages. He also wants $1 million in punitive damages, lost wages, further attorney’s fees and costs, plus reinstatement to his previous police rank. Lastly, he’s looking to impose a civil fine in the amount of $10,000.

Lanier said that Burton’s demotion was performance-related, but he believes it was retaliation for questioning the veracity of the chief.

On April 19, 2011, Sheen traveled to Dulles International Airport to D.C. He received a police escort in order to be able to make an appearance at an event held at Constitutional Hall.

Sheen was so impressed by his escort that he tweeted with a photo attached: ”In a car with Police escort in front and rear! Driving like someone’s about to deliver a baby!”

After the details of the Sheen escort were revealed, the MPD released a statement informing the public that the incident was under investigation. More importantly, it said that it wasn’t its practice to utilize emergency equipment for non-emergency situations.

Burton said the MPD provided new policies on its escort procedure earlier this year, but at the time of the Sheen incident, Lanier told the Washington Post that the department did not give escorts to celebrities.

“There are limited circumstances where we do police escorts,” Lanier said in April 2011. She explained that those circumstances are based on security need and that protocols are needed to be followed when they do escorts.

In a curious twist, Charlie Sheen visited D.C. earlier in the week and tried to get Old Ebbit Grill to stay open past closing time on Super Bowl night. On Feb. 3, Sheen was at Charlie Palmer Steak along with his agent to have lunch with his father, actor Martin Sheen.
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SoulCycle on Wisconsin Avenue


The trendy spin studio SoulCycle will take over a former Georgetown restaurant and hookah bar later this year. The company has been growing in and around D.C. over the past few months, most recently opening locations in the West End in 2014 and Bethesda earlier this year.

Two new locations are in the works for the Washington area this year, according to SoulCycle, and the company has signed a lease for 1024 Wisconsin Ave. NW, where the poorly regarded Prince Cafe closed last fall. The Georgetown SoulCycle will have a 56-bike studio to host its signature classes. SoulCycle’s classes combine spinning on stationary bikes with upper-body workouts. The new location will include a SoulCycle lifestyle boutique.

Where in the World Is Walter Fauntroy?


Washington, D.C., civil rights leader Walter Fauntroy has fled the country. According to friends and family he is somewhere in Africa.

Fauntroy has been missing for the last year after a bench warrant was issued for his arrest in nearby Prince George’s County, Md. The 82-year old pastor and former Congressman, who was a trusted aid to Martin Luther King Jr., has had his passport revoked as a result of the warrant.

According to WUSA9, the warrant stems from an event to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama in Maryland in 2009 that Fauntroy was involved in organizing. He is wanted in connection with a bad $50,000 check he allegedly wrote more than six years ago.

Fauntroy’s family became suspicious of his whereabouts when he missed the events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma march in Alabama earlier this month. His friends are concerned about his mental state and well-being without any source of income.

Fauntroy claimed he had a relationship with former dictator Muammar Gaddafi when he first went to Libya. Since the State Department revoked his passport, Fauntroy will be taken into custody as soon as he returns to the U.S., his attorney said.

Recognition for Hometown Tennis Heroes of Jim Crow Era


Few people know that the Williams sisters weren’t the first African American siblings to take tennis by storm. Before Venus and Serena, Margaret and Roumania Peters were an unbeatable pair in the Jim Crow tennis era of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Council member Jack Evans will ask the District Council to name Rose Park tennis courts at 26th & O Streets after the sisters.

Having begun playing tennis as young girls in Georgetown, the sisters were eventually offered tennis scholarships to Tuskegee University in Alabama. Due to segregation, the Peters sisters could play only in the all-black American Tennis Association. Established in 1916, ATA is the oldest black sports organization in the country.

During their time in Alabama and for a decade after leaving, the Peters sisters dominated the women’s game, winning 14 doubles titles between 1938 and 1941 and between 1944 and 1953. Roumania won ATA national singles titles in 1944 and 1946. Films of their ATA victories were shown at black movie theaters, including the Mott on 26th Street NW near P Street in Georgetown, where they were local heroes. The Peters also played matches in front of the British royalty on a trip to the Caribbean. Celebrities such as actor-dancer Gene Kelly practiced with them when he was in Washington.

Both Peters sisters earned master’s degrees in physical education from New York University and returned to Washington to work. The little-known predecessors of Althea Gibson, who, in 1956, became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (and went on to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals), their wider recognition is long overdue.

Great Meadow Prepares for Nations Cup


“We are very proud to be able to bring three-day eventing to Great Meadow. It is probably the most difficult of any of the equestrian sports, since it involves all three disciplines,” said Robert Banner, president of the Great Meadow Foundation, which operates the famous field events center and steeplechase course in The Plains, Virginia.

On April 3, Banner announced that, in connection with building a new arena, the foundation will bring back three-day eventing to Great Meadow.

Three-day eventing is the sport of horse trials. It presents the ultimate challenge of horsemanship because it requires horse and rider to perform three totally different activities within the same competition: dressage, cross country and show jumping.

Construction of the new arena will start July 1, so that it can be ready for Nations Cup 2016, should Great Meadow’s bid be selected. A new acquisition of land has provided 174 acres dedi-cated to this type of competition. The new, world-class arena will be 300 feet by 250 feet, with a warm-up arena 400 feet by 70 feet. It will have an all-weather surface or footing, which will pre-vent competitions from being canceled due to rain.

Great Meadow’s new international-level venue will host top horses and riders from around the world. At the Olympics in London, the U.S. team failed to medal at all, their worst performance since 1956. This venue will raise the bar by bringing the nations that won to the U.S., so that the team can train and face the competition at home. This is expected to help the U.S. reclaim its rightful position on the international medals podium.

The new competition will be called the Land Rover Great Meadow International and feature the Nation’s Cup format annually. There are plans to live-stream coverage on the internet this year. Next year, the plans are to broadcast the competition on NBC Sports.

A big spectator-based event, FEI Nations Cup is organized by Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines. It is the most prestigious competition series for national teams in the world.

”The Nations Cup has been going on for a long time for show jumping, but we have never had one for three-day eventing,” said Banner, former publisher of the Chronicle of the Horse.

Banner and the Great Meadow Foundation expect the new facility and level of competition will draw numbers similar to those for the Virginia Gold Cup races and other major events at Great Meadow.

Great Meadow will host a Concours International Combiné (CIC) 3 Event, which means the competitors do their dressage on Friday night. The show jumping takes place on Saturday night, and they run over a shortened version of the cross country course on Sunday morning. There are VIP dining and entertainment options throughout the weekend. CIC competitors are required to qualify for the same level of CCI competition, therefore the horse/rider combinations in the CIC tend to be slightly less experienced than in the CCI.

Course designer Mike Etherington-Smith, chief executive of British Eventing, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, has already completed renderings and layouts. The groundbreaking ceremonies and pep trials will be held June 19 to 21.

Get Active, Get Ready — Summer Is Coming


Sometimes, sessions in the gym seem long and dull. Going out for a run can be impossible on days when the weather isn’t the best and the couch temps. These newly opened fitness studios in D.C. will motivate and give you that extra push you need to shape up for summer.

If bicycling outside seems too dangerous to you, try out indoor cycling. Or why not tone your body with high intensity interval training (HIIT) and — or bodyweight exercises? No matter your skill level, there’s something for everyone in D.C. But remember to find an exercise that you enjoy and make sure you’re having fun. The most important thing is that you get active; the best exercise is the one that actually happens.

Off Road DC:

The local cycling studio Off Road DC provides a great fitness experience with a diversity of classes to make sure clients get a full body workout. Tali Wenger and Tammar Bergen opened the studio in October 2012, wanting to bring something new to D.C.
Tali Wenger, main instructor and co-owner of the fitness center explains that Off Road strives to maintain a welcoming environment for their clients. ”Off Road DC provides something for everybody, with any background and every fitness level. We want to make sure our clients are safe, especially when attending our cycling classes,” she says.

In addition, the Off Road DC team makes sure that beginners and veteran athletes both feel comfortable, welcome and fulfilled by HIIT (high intensity interval training), mixed cycling and running classes. ”We want clients to feel they can take any class and at their own pace.” Wenger explains.

Every class is different and instructors are given the freedom to express themselves in both music and teaching style. Off Road DC also has a wide range of offerings tailored to every person’s fitness goals. At the studio you can train indoor cycling, TRX, boxing, bootcamp and mixed classes. The mixed classes combine both cycling, running and core.

The first Thursday of every month, Off Road DC partner up with the 9:30 Club for a special spinning class. Tali Wenger encourage beginners to join the free intro class on Saturdays at 11:15 a.m. to walk through the bikes and get a 30-minute workout. ”The first step for anyone is coming in the door,” Wenger says.

Off Road DC is located on 905 U St. NW Washington, D.C.

[Solidcore]

Fitness fanatics, listen up. The innovative Solidcore workout is a 50-minute, full body tune-up in a class-based fitness studio with no more than 13 clients in class at a time. It is basically a hardcore pilates class where you use slow and controlled full-body movements with tension to work the muscle fibers to failure. This low-impact process forces your muscles to rebuild a stronger, more toned and sculpted you.

Since every workout experience is different, the body doesn’t stop responding to the exercise. With small class sizes at Solidcore, you can get a personalized experience. The certified Solidcore instructors motivate you to push yourself further than you would on your own.

Solidcore is one of the hardest and most intense workouts you will ever do, and is like nothing else you’ve ever done. As written on their website, ”This is the athlete’s workout, not your grandmother’s pilates class. Prepare to sweat, be pushed to your edge, and for the most intense workout of your life”. The Solidcore team encourages you to have fun while building the best version of yourself. You will be amazed by this workout and its results — guaranteed.

Solidcore has three D.C. locations; in Shaw, Mt. Vernon triangle and Cathedral Commons at 3308 Wisconsin Ave NW.

Flywheel Sports:

The popular indoor cycling studio Flywheel Sports recently opened a new studio in Dupont. ”Flywheel is the ultimate, revolutionary cycling experience”, says Danielle Devine-Baum, master instructor and creative director for the northeast region.

Flywheel is a full body training combined with an arm sequence at the end of every class. The Torqboards on the bikes allow riders to view and keep track of their rate per minute (RPM), power and torque. The results are uploaded to patrons’ accounts online and on the Flywheel app after every class. In addition, you can see calories burned and how mileage biked in the app and online.

If you’re not into indoor cycling, you can try out FlyBarre classes. FlyBarre helps tone and work up long, lean muscles. The classes focus on lightweight leg, arm and abdominal exercises with many reps. ”Flywheel Sports is a perfect fit for all fitness levels and our instructors are trained to help set up beginners so the intimidation factor disappears,” Devine-Baum says.

”The Dupont location is Flywheel’s thirty-third studio and with more than 60 bikes, the location is the largest studio today, which is very exciting for us,” Devine-Baum continues. The studio has showers, lockers, changing rooms in addition to a blow dry bar with spa equipment. Seat cushions and shoes are complimentary at every Flywheel Sports studio.

Flywheel Sports studio is located on 1927 Florida Ave NW.