Was spending some time on the computer yesterday double-checking some information about a local matter back up in DC, and happened to come across some really amazing news that took place in the long-beleaguered Shaw neighborhood of Washington, something that should've taken place years ago if the city was run more for the benefit of its citizens and residents instead of the commercial interests.
The amazing photos tell the tale better than I ever could.
Whether they represent gang territory, a drug market, the
site of other criminal activity or some combination of all those things, DDOT and MPD crews were out this morning removing all of the shoes from one of the trees on the south side of the 400 block of Q Street NW. This particular problem has been ignored for years and residents have stated that the sight of these shoes caught up tree branches, or on cobra-style street lights, contributed to a threatening environment — much like gang tags.
I found this most happy nugget on the post of January 29th on the forum and blog of DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2CO2's Commissioner Kevin Chapple.
See also the cogent blog comments and photos at both the dcist and jimbo.info
http://dcist.com/2008/01/29/ddot_removes_sh.php and http://www.jimbo.info/weblog/2008/01/the-deshoeing-of-the-sycamore.html
I can only imagine what people coming home from work all around the greater Washington area must've thought when they first turned on their TV.
Rather than being confronted with the latest in a series of never ending bad news, whether drive-by shooting of innocent kids, or the latest account of ethics/criminal charges involving some local pol, actually heard some positive and uplifting news for a change: nothing.
They were too dumbfounded for words!
I'm sure that the whole electronic armada of Washington's local TV news satellite trucks were on hand to record the event for posterity, and get the somewhat dazed comments of happy neighbors, who, in all likelihood, probably thought the shoes might never come down before the whole tree did.
South Florida public policy types like myself can only look from afar and sigh wistfully when confronted with this.
Not only the actions taken but also the impressive way that Mr. Chapple has empowered his community with useful information to communicate to the general public and neighborhood activists -and the outside world- the likes of which I've never seen or heard about in this part of the world.
Knowing how things are really done down here, we can only bow our heads in shame when comparing Commissioner Chapple's efforts to the rather shocking bare-bones or even schlock government website portals that so many local elected officials down here hide behind.
Let me remind you of but one example I've already written about before in this space.
This past summer, during the height of the drought, when I tried to alert the City of Aventura to a rapidly spreading water leak on a sidewalk alongside U.S.-1, after nobody at Aventura City Hall would take my phone call shortly before 5:00 p.m., I sent an email with all the particulars to the mayor, city manager and assorted council members, hoping that someone would see it.
Moments later, my email to them was returned to me, marked as possible spam by Aventura's own website!
What a slap in the face!
After this confounding affair, I called the Aventura Police Dept., and reported the water situation, but only after asking the officer I spoke with why it was that the Police Dept. were the only folks in the so-called "City of Excellence" actually answering their telephone during normal city business hours.
And let's not forget life in the the postage stamp-sized duchy where I live, the City of Hallandale Beach.
Nearly a year after I first alerted City Hall officials to some rather obvious longstanding problems on A1A, U.S.-1 and Hallandale Beach Boulevard, as well as at the public beach, and later placed supporting evidence by way of photographs of just some of the offending problems on my blog, www.HallandaleBeachBlog.blogspot.com , the city STILL hasn't done a single thing to rectify these solved problems!
In fact, recent walking tours of the offending areas show it's actually worse!
There is a car fender/bumper and other small auto parts, as well as broken glass, from some sort of car accident that took place almost three months ago, on the south sidewalk of the 1100 block of East Hallandale Beach Blvd.
There's been yellow tape around it all this time, but it never gets cleaned up!!!!!!!
I'll have photos of that perfect example of the city's incompetency up on my Hallandale Beach Blog in a few days, including some from a point of view that show how ridiculously close it is to the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce.
It's not hiding, it's in plain sight: on one of the three main roads of the city.
In November, I had what I thought at the time was an earnest one-hour talk at City Hall with two people from City Manager Mike Good's office about the myriad problems I'd publicly
identified in this blog, and discussed over and over with my family, friends and fellow citizens.
Armed with enough facts & figures and logic & reason to leave them somewhat dazed at the amount of specific information I could give them without notes, I started telling my story.
After about thirty minutes of recounting one embarrassing anecdote after another of the city's cluelessness -like placing giant water pipes in the Fire Lane of an apt. complex full of senior citizens, without anything around it!- I got my second wind.
After a while, the two city employees seemed to get a bit shell-shocked at the sheer amount of detailed information I could identify that was self-evident to anyone with eyesight.
Towards the end, they seemed somewhat pained at how far short the city seems to be in delivering for its citizens and residents, if not outright embarrassed.
But maybe I'm projecting.
I recounted many anecdotes, only a fraction of which I've ever mentioned in my HBB blog.
The ones I did mention all had one thing in in common: how poorly the City of Hallandale Beach continues to be managed, administered and coordinated, regarding even the most basic of services.
When I reminded them that the problems were so obvious that I'd placed photos of them on HBB, they just sighed.
Most galling of all, of course, is that I told them that there seem to be a complete absence of any sort of real punishment or rebuke for city employees NOT doing their jobs properly, or ignoring problems that could hardly be more obvious.
And here we are, more than two months-plus since that conversation, and an observant walk around the city reveals that nothing's changed!
Welcome to the City of Hallandale Beach in the year 2008.