After John McNamara was killed in the Capital Gazette shooting, his wife Andrea Chamblee took it upon herself to publish his last book — a love letter to D.C. hoops: "The Capital of Basketball."
It’s your turn to set the agenda and let us know what you think about DMV headlines. Call in and share what’s on your mind.
WAMU reporter Martin Austermuhle joins us to talk about the latest D.C. news. What do you think about Mayor Muriel Bowser’s efforts to bring government agencies east of the Anacostia River? Do you think drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III should receive a reduced sentence for cooperating with investigators?
Seven undocumented immigrants in Montgomery County have been arrested on sexual assault charges, drawing the county into the national debate about how local jails and law enforcement should interact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. How do you think jurisdictions should work with ICE?
And this Wednesday marks 18 years since the September 11 attacks. How are you commemorating the day?
Join the conversation starting at noon on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, by calling 800-433-8850. Or, tweet at us @kojoshow or comment below.
Produced by Cydney Grannan, Julie Depenbrock and Monna Kashfi
- Martin Austermuhle Reporter, WAMU; @maustermuhle.
KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5. Welcome. Today it is your turn to call in. Share what's on your mind. What do you think of Montgomery County's policies on interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement? The Metro shutdown is over. Are you back to commuting on the Blue and Yellow Lines or have you found alternative transportation that you're sticking with? Three couples are bringing a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia over the requirement to list race on their marriage license applications. What do you think about the Commonwealth requiring that information? Drug kingpin Rayful Edmond could be released if a federal judge agrees to reduce his sentence, because of his extensive cooperation with investigators. Do you think he should be released?
KOJO NNAMDIWhat else is sparking conversation in your community? It is your turn. Joining me in studio is Martin Austermuhle. Martin is a Reporter for WAMU 88.5. Martin, thank you for joining us.
MARTIN AUSTERMUHLEThanks for having me.
NNAMDIIn an effort to drive business and development east of the Anacostia River, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a mayoral order last week that will move more government agencies to Ward 7 and 8. The hope is that more District employees in an area will lead to a quoting here, "Demand for products and services such as grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, healthcare providers, professional services and other local business," according to the order. Martin, what exactly is the mayor requiring government agencies to do?
AUSTERMUHLESo she is basically saying that if you're a D.C. government agency and you know that over the next five years you're going to need new office space, you're going to have to lease new office space that you have to give priority to opportunities that are east of the Anacostia River so in Wards 7 and 8. It doesn't speak to necessarily, you know, agencies that already own their building or are in an owned facility, but just the ones that are leasing. And more of the D.C. government is moving in that direction of leasing office space instead of owning their buildings.
AUSTERMUHLESo basically it's just saying, listen, if you're going to do this, if you have to move, which you might have to, I mean, government agencies move all the time, consider spots outside of the traditional downtown core or kind of parts west of the Anacostia River. Look to Wards 7 and 8 instead.
NNAMDIWhat does it mean -- do we know how the mayor's office will be monitoring how this order is carried out?
AUSTERMUHLESo she basically said that there has to be -- I think every D.C. agency that is looking for a new lease has to report to the mayor's office to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. That office will put a report twice a year basically just kind of making sure that agencies are complying with the order, just making sure that they are looking for office space or getting office space if they find it.
NNAMDIWhere are most D.C. offices, government offices currently located? Are there any already east of the river?
AUSTERMUHLEYeah, so they're relatively well spread out in the city. I mean, you have a good chunk of them down at One Judiciary Square not far from the D.C. courthouse. You have a number of some of the bigger agencies, there's some in new buildings in southwest kind of by the waterfront area. That's where DCRA is for example. You do have some already east of the Anacostia River. The Department of Housing and Community Development moved down there in 2009. The Taxi Cab Commission now known as the Department of For-Hire Vehicles is down there.
AUSTERMUHLESo they're not all kind of in one big massive kind of government facility that other cities may have or even like, you know, state governments may run. But I think the idea is to kind of push not just big agencies, but also small commissions, boards, small offices and things like that to look for other opportunities instead of just being in kind of one part of town that's west of the river.
NNAMDIDo you know of any agencies looking to lease office space that may lead them to consider Wards 7 and 8?
AUSTERMUHLEOff the top of my head -- I know there's a bunch now only, because the big building at One Judiciary Square that holds a lot of D.C. government agencies that is slowly -- they're trying to empty tenants out, because MPD, the Metropolitan Police Department, they're building down there the daily building. It's very old. If you've ever been there it's retro. It's vintage. But it needs to be fixed up. So they're going to be moving MPD out of there and into One Judiciary Square, which means that the tenants that are currently there are going to have to look somewhere else.
AUSTERMUHLESo I think there's a lot of movement right now, because of the fact that there are some agencies that own their buildings that need those buildings to be fixed up. And you can only do that by moving people out. So there should be a fair amount of movement.
NNAMDIThat MPD building has been there forever.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or not questions, it's your turn to offer comments, analysis, opinion. Is this the first time a D.C. mayor has tried to use government agencies to revitalize neighborhoods?
AUSTERMUHLEAbsolutely not and I'm sure you know. You've been around for --
NNAMDIThe Reeves Center.
AUSTERMUHLEExactly, the Reeves Center down at 14th and U. That was opened in 1986 by then mayor, Mayor Marion Barry.
NNAMDIAmidst a great deal of skepticism at the time about what it would do.
AUSTERMUHLEAbsolutely. Exactly. And that actually -- he opened the building in part because neighbors down at the U and 14th area, the Shaw area, had complained about the fact that after the 1968 riots and all the devastation of local businesses down there that, you know, people had just fled the area. Kind of it was down on its luck. And they said, we need something to kind of spur businesses to bring foot traffic to give it a sense that there's a comeback on its way. And Marion Barry, who originally hadn't planned -- hadn't looked at that part of town for his new municipal center, he was convinced and he finally opened the Reeves Center. Like I said opened in '86.
AUSTERMUHLEAnd now there's people down there, I spoke to one a couple of years ago when I did a story about the anniversary of the riots. I mean, there's folks down there who still credit Mayor Barry and the Reeves Center for eventually leading to what we see today, the revitalized neighborhood that it is.
NNAMDIThat and, of course, Metro.
AUSTERMUHLEYeah, no doubt, no doubt.
NNAMDIThe District government has also supported efforts to put federal government agencies in underserved neighborhoods to boost development. Tell us about that.
AUSTERMUHLESo yeah. I mean, well, east of the river you do obviously have very long complicated troublesome efforts to put the Department of Homeland Security over there. They're still kind of working on that. But more recently the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is down by Union Station has a building right next to Union Station was looking for new space. And one developer who owns a plot by the new sports arena east of the river in Congress Heights had said, listen, this is a great spot. There's a lot of development going on. You should totally put a building here. We can build it for you. It's going to be great for your purposes. The mayor was very excited about the possibility, wrote a letter in favor of it.
AUSTERMUHLEThe SCC eventually decided they wanted to stay in Union Station or that side of town, which again the mayor was none too pleased by. But, yeah, the argument there being, listen you bring that many professional people with good paying jobs to that part of town, businesses theoretically will follow. They're going to have to provide food services, all that sort of stuff, which you do see in other parts of town that have high concentrations of any sort of office building.
NNAMDIWhat do you think about the mayor requiring government agencies to prioritize office space in Wards 7 and 8? Do you live in Ward 7 or 8? How do you think the presence of government agencies would change the area? We're interested in hearing your opinion.
NNAMDIDrug kingpin Rayful Edmond III was sentenced to life in prison in the late 1980s for running an extensive drug trafficking operation in the District. Now the U.S. Attorney for D.C. Jessica Liu is asking a federal judge to reduce his sentence, which means that Rayful Edmond could be released soon. Do you think that Rayful Edmond should have his sentence reduced due to his cooperation with investigators and prosecutors? Martin Austermuhle, before we get into what's happening now, remind us why Rayful Edmond was arrested and the extent of his impact on the city.
AUSTERMUHLESo he was in the late -- sorry, in the mid -- kind of early to mid-1980s he was kind of the drug kingpin of the city to a certain extent. I mean, he operated out of one specific area just south of Florida Avenue in northeast D.C. But he was shipping in just thousands of kilos of Columbian cocaine on a monthly basis. That was eventually turned into crack and that was kind of sold. Found very healthy market share in the city. And the flip side of that, of course, there was a lot of violence associated with his operation and other related operations across D.C. So he did that for about four years. He was eventually caught by the feds.
AUSTERMUHLENow he was never charged nor convicted for any violence associated with his operation, but rather with the drug trafficking. He was sentenced to life in prison for that. He went to a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania and then was caught again by basically he was still running his trafficking ring from this prison in Pennsylvania. So he was sentenced again to another charge, and that was 30 years on top of his life sentence.
AUSTERMUHLESo needless to say he was going to be serving the rest of his life in prison or at least that's what people assumed.
NNAMDIWhy, therefore, is the U.S. Attorney for D.C. Jessie Liu now requesting that his sentence be reduced?
AUSTERMUHLEWell, Rayful Edmond has been credited with essentially what prosecutors say is two decades of cooperation.
AUSTERMUHLEHe turned. After he got busted in Pennsylvania for running his drug trafficking empire, you know, remotely he essentially first to save his own mother, who also got sent to prison for drug trafficking related crimes. He basically made a deal. He said, listen, you let her get out soon, get out early and I will help you with other drug investigations. And he did. I mean, all the filings the prosecutors have put into the case have said that he has helped them bring cases against I'd say dozens if not more than that drug traffickers across the eastern seaboard.
AUSTERMUHLEAnd they say, listen, this merits him some sort of consideration for shorter sentence, which this late last week they said should be 40 years in prison instead of the life sentence that he's currently serving.
NNAMDIWe're interested in what you think about Rayful Edmond possibly having his sentence reduced. What do District residents in general think about his sentence being shortened according to what we know so far?
AUSTERMUHLEWell, it's a really -- what's most interesting about this actually is that when the federal judge preceding over Edmond's case kind of called a hearing earlier this summer specifically regarding this request from the U.S. Attorney's Office, he said, all right. This is fine, but this is a big deal. So I think we should have some sort of way to get input from D.C. residents. So he tasked the city's Attorney General Karl Racine with calling some community meetings or finding some way to get some input from D.C. residents, which the attorney general did. He had three big public meetings over the summer and also took input over the phone and over email, and produced a report that was recently submitted to the judge. And he said in the report that there was 510 people, D.C. residents, who had comments to share. And it was basically split down the middle between the people --
AUSTERMUHLEYeah, evenly divided between the people who were like, keep him in prison. Versus the folks who are like, listen, he served his time. He helped prosecutors out. He deserves a second chance.
NNAMDIWhat's the timeline for the federal judge to consider this request?
AUSTERMUHLESo mid-October is when the next hearing is.
NNAMDIAnd it is Judge Emmet Sullivan, isn't it?
AUSTERMUHLEIt is Judge Emmet Sullivan, yeah, who is a D.C. native. And there was kind of some chatter that that's why he decided to give the District's attorney general a role in this case, which otherwise the city would have no role in whatsoever. So mid-October is the hearing. After that, I mean, the judge take's his time to decide. He can weigh any number of factors in deciding whether Mr. Edmond gets that sentence reduction. If it ends up being 40 years that the U.S. attorney is requesting that means Edmond could be out pretty soon, because he's already served more than three decades. He could get credit for good behavior, any number of things. So we'll see.
NNAMDIAnd we don't know if the request is that he be released back in the District of Columbia or whether it's the request that he just be released period.
AUSTERMUHLEWell, that was the big question. Folks were saying, would he come back to D.C.? And then, you know, some of his family members some of his supporters were saying it's unlikely that a guy of that sort of prominence would come back to D.C., and especially, because he has been an informant and is currently in witness protection in the prison system, like no one knows what prison he's at. It's just not publically available. So the fair assumption is that he would either formally go into witness protection as a free man or just live quietly somewhere outside of the District.
NNAMDIU.S. Attorney for D.C. is also weighing in on a D.C. Council bill that would grant reduced sentences to violent offenders, who committed crimes when they were young. Briefly can you tell us about this bill and why U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu is weighing in?
AUSTERMUHLESure. So there's a current law in the books that says that if you committed a crime when you were 16 or 17 years old, it was a violent offense and you've already served 15 years of your prison sentence, you can ask a judge to give you a sentence reduction. The idea being you were young, I mean, you should get a second chance effectively. So this new bill that was introduced in the D.C. Council this year would expand the range of ages that could be considered. So anybody who commits a crime under the age of 25 and has served their 15 years could then make that petition to a judge.
AUSTERMUHLEAgain, the logic being, you were young. We understand that young people make mistakes. They should be given a second chance if they've proven that they've rehabilitated themselves that they've learned their lesson so that they can be productive members of society. Now U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu is very strongly and very publically opposed to the bill because she thinks it's a threat to public safety. You'd be putting people out who could commit crimes again. She also thinks it's just too big of a universe of people that could be given a chance to get out of jail.
AUSTERMUHLEShe says north of 500 people who committed violent felonies could petition for shorter sentences, which she's not a fan of.
NNAMDIIn making her case, however, she and her office put out some incorrect information, which they had to retract. They were claiming that Washington D.C. has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the nation. That turned out to be incorrect.
AUSTERMUHLEYeah. They were saying -- to their credit, they very quickly admitted that they had completely miscounted the number of prisoners in D.C. They just counted folks in the D.C. jail.
NNAMDIThat's where not most of our inmates go.
AUSTERMUHLENo. Most of our inmates are in the federal system. There's many more there. They corrected themselves, but for a brief moment there it seemed -- I mean, you had this weird debate where half the room was saying, no, we have the highest incarceration rate. And the U.S. Attorney's Office is saying, no, we have the lowest. It was a little surreal.
NNAMDIBefore we let you go, the D.C. Council returns on Monday. What are you going to be keeping an eye on during this session?
AUSTERMUHLEThere's always a lot of activity at the D.C. Council. I think one thing that's going to be happening, one bill that was introduced I think it was earlier this year that would decriminalize sex work in the District will get a hearing. That doesn't mean it will move forward. It doesn't mean it will get to a final vote. But it will get a public hearing in the fall. There's also most likely going to movement on bills to legalize the sale of marijuana, because it's expected that in September Congress will finally lift its prohibition on D.C. legalizing the sale of marijuana. I think there's also going to be some action on the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, DCRA, that's basically the consumer cop in the city.
AUSTERMUHLEAfter this fire on Kennedy Street, at a row house on Kennedy Street over the summer where two people including a nine year old boy were killed, and it's come out that a housing inspector employed by DCRA basically wasn't, you know, didn't do what he should have been doing. So that just kind of piles onto the criticism of DCRA. There's also a bill that would force charter schools to comply with the city's open records laws just like all public agencies do.
AUSTERMUHLEThat's very controversial and I'm sure there will be a lot of fighting in the Council over that one. And yeah, there's that, things always come up. I mean, the Council is never not active.
NNAMDIMore than enough to keep Martin Austermuhle busy. He's a Reporter for WAMU. Martin, thank you so much for joining us.
AUSTERMUHLEThanks for having me.
NNAMDIIt is your turn. If you've called, stay on the line. As soon as we come back from this break we'll be coming to you to hear your opinion about these issues or any others in the news. You can still call us 800-433-8850. Shoot us a tweet @kojoshow or email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back, it's your turn. Engaged couples in Virginia are challenging the Commonwealth requirement to list your race when applying for a marriage license. That requirement a holdover from the time before Virginia's ban on interracial marriage was struck down in 1967. In Virginia, it's a felony to falsely fill out the application for a marriage license. So it's not an option to leave the race column blank. Now three couples are challenging that law in Virginia federal court. What do you think about Virginia's requirement to list your race on your marriage license form? Now on to the phones, we go with Ben in Washington D.C. Ben, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BENYes. Hi. Thank you so much for taking call, also this conversation. I find it interesting that's there's an interesting connection between Rayful's case and as well as "Freeway" Ricky Ross where neither one of them, you know, cultivated the cocaine, but in oftentimes we look at the 80s and the role of that explosion, you know, had on black communities. And so there was a book that was written by Gary Webb called "Dark Alliance" and has a forward written by Maxine Waters. And it talked about how at least, you know, the government at the time was aware of the massive amounts of cocaine into -- especially teens of color. So I wonder --
NNAMDII read the Gary Webb book and I interviewed Gary Webb. And a lot of that had to do with the Iran-Contra relationship.
BENCorrect. Correct. And so, you know, not to say that this person did not play a role. But, you know, is there a broader question about should this be the person that we all blame for the circumstances or do we have a broader conversation about the geo political factors that created the conditions by which he could monetize this very popular commodity?
NNAMDIAnd that I think was part of the conversation that was taking place when the Attorney General for the District of Columbia had hearings. People saying that Rayful Edmond, yes, may have been running one of the largest drug operations in the city, but he was essentially a link in a chain. And in that chain it turns out that the people who ended spending most time in jail happen to be African Americans and African American males in particular. And that the people at the upper ends of those chains did not in fact have to serve that kind of time. So it's an ongoing conversation. Thank you very much for raising it. Onto Sarah in Virginia, Sarah, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SARAHHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I remember the D.C. that area Florida and all that in the early 80s and mid-80s and, well, I guess, I can say I don't remember, because we knew that this was an area that was not to venture into. And, you know, the crack epidemic and everything that happened. You know, this gentleman devastated his own community, you know, he really did and it was a huge thing. You know, that said, you said he was one person, you know, in the link, but, you know, he was major. Now that said, you know, he's a snitch. Yeah, let him out. Let him on to the streets and maybe he get handled that way.
NNAMDIWell, I think that's the concern a number of people here have and that is that he has turned against many of his former accomplices and there might be people here trying to get revenge, which is why I raised the question about whether or not Washington D.C. is necessarily the place he would like to come back to. Of course, this is where his family still is. So we don't know and we don't know the extent to which those wounds so to speak of people, who were victims of the drug operation that he had or people who he turned against whether they are still around and still carrying that grudge. I guess that's one of the things we'll find out. Sarah, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIOn the issue on marriage in Virginia and the requirement to list race on the application for a marriage license, Stacey tweets, Kojo Show should interview the attorney who filed the complaint. It's an epic tour of hundreds of years of legal racism from an attorney, who worked on Loving versus Virginia. The case, of course, that resulted in interracial marriages finally being allowed in Virginia in 1967. On now to Ramon in D.C., Ramon, your turn.
RAMONYes. Good afternoon, Kojo. I was going to say basically regarding the Iran-Contra scandal, I mean, if Oliver North didn't serve any time for the Iran-Contra scandal for the government, which was proven that the government was a large part of bringing drugs in the black community and decimated them, actually killing thousands if not tens of thousands through the drugs that they, the government put in our community. And Ronald Reagan, which was the president at that time who provided power to Oliver North gets the biggest government building in the United States. I feel that therefore, Rayful Edmond should be released immediately.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your opinion. And as we found out when the D.C. attorney general conducted hearings, opinion is really divided on that issue. It is your turn however. You can weigh in on that issue or whatever other issue you would like. On the Rayful Edmond, Katelynn emails, I have only lived 20 years in D.C. and did not personally suffer from drug violence, but this man has served many years, enough. The person who should go to jail for life is the CEA of the University of Virginia, who has been railroading middle class and poor people while overbilling for medical charges and enriching herself by nearly a million a year in the name of fiscal caution. The extent of harm that people like her cost the society equals that of any illegal drug dealer.
NNAMDII don't know whether you might be comparing apples and oranges there. However, Katelynn, but of course it is your turn. Montgomery County has been pulled into the national debate about how local jurisdictions should work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. Seven undocumented immigrants living in Montgomery County were arrested on sexual assault charges over the summer. Last week the White House posted about this on its official Facebook page saying that, quoting here, "Montgomery County Executive Mark Eldridge ordered the county's agency not to cooperate with ICE and protect criminals instead."
NNAMDITwo days later Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tweeted about the country's quoting here, "Sanctuary policies leading to assaults and rapes," and challenged County Executive Mark Eldridge to a debate. Eldridge called Cuccinelli's tweet a stunt and said that the county should not be considered a sanctuary county. At the center of this issue is something called, "detainer requests." ICE agents use federal detainer requests to have local jails alert them to when a suspect who ICE think might be in the country illegally is released from custody.
NNAMDIUnder Mark Eldridge's orders Montgomery County jails only notify ICE for someone, who has been charged with serious crime like murders or sexual assaults. How do you think counties should interact with ICE? It's your turn. Give us a call. Do you think Montgomery County officials should give ICE access to local jails?
NNAMDIMetro's 100 day-plus closure of the sixth station south of D.C. came to an end on Monday. All of those stations now open, but Metro says some construction will continue for several more weeks, although they don't expect any of that work to interfere with train schedules. The summer long closures affect more than 17,000 riders in northern Virginia. New data suggests that the shutdown drove about 10 percent of Virginia riders off of Metrorail. The closure was phase one of WMATA's outdoor platform renovation efforts.
NNAMDIEight stations on the Orange and Green Line will shut down next summer. Metro said that it will release more details on closures in the coming weeks. Were you affected by the station shutdowns on the Blue and Yellow Lines this summer? How did you navigate it? Have you used one of the reopened stations? What do you actually think about the new renovations? It is your turn.
NNAMDIIn the past week, jurisdictions around the region took symbolic steps in confronting the legacy of racism. Street signs along Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington County are being replaced with the road's new name, Richmond Highway. Maryland's first lynching memorial was erected in Annapolis over the weekend. And in western Maryland, four signs for, quote-unquote, "Negro Mountain" were removed.
NNAMDIDo you think street names and monuments honoring the Confederacy should be removed, or do they still have a place in today's society? It is your turn --give us a call, 800-433-8850. Here, now, is Jane in Silver Spring, Maryland. Jane, you're on the air. It's your turn.
JANEHi, Kojo. I really enjoy your show. I'm questioning what the municipalities in this area, including Washington, D.C., are going -- organizing to commemorate the 1619 time, in which the first African slaves were brought to North America. And I know that many places are doing some things, but I have not heard much about this event in this area.
NNAMDII know there were events taking place in Virginia. I do not have a list available to me at this time about events taking place here. Are you aware of any such events at all?
JANEWell, I'm working with two committees in Westchester County in New York about it. There is also some events in the Boston area. But I have not heard very much, other than Prince Georges on Saturday. But I'm hoping that we'll go forward with more events, since this is a year commemoration.
NNAMDIWell, hopefully, we'll get calls from people who can tell us a little more about events. It is your turn. You can call about anything on your mind, and if that's one of the things on your mind and you have some information about it, give us a call. Here is Jim, in Virginia. Jim, your turn.
JIMThank you very much. A real simple comment -- Montgomery County shouldn’t let ICE anywhere near its prisons, or anywhere else in Montgomery County.
JIMICE is racist. ICE doesn't get into the true details. ICE is run by a crooked Trump administration. That's why. They do things to children and to immigrants that are unfair, and they don't take the time to do anything, basically, except make arrests. Now, there are exceptions, but you get my drift.
NNAMDIWell, what do you say to people who say, look, if an individual is accused of a serious crime -- and as we said during the course of the summer, seven undocumented immigrants in Montgomery County were accused of sexual assault -- and that individual is released and is at large, people feel that Montgomery County should, at the very least, cooperate with ICE if ICE has a warrant out for that individual. That they should allow ICE to go and get that person. What do you feel about that particular issue?
JIMWell, I think they should be treated like any other -- like a citizen of the United States. If they have access to our legal system, that's fine. But not simply because of immigration stuff and ICE's -- I'll say preference that is given to ICE in that regard.
NNAMDISo you believe Montgomery County simply should not cooperate with ICE at all?
JIMWith regard to letting ICE into its prisons, yes. They don't have any business being there. They're there for one reason -- to track down and get rid of what they say may be illegal immigrants.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. It is your turn. And the saga of the dog park in Chevy Chase might have come to an end for now after months of back-and-forth between neighbors of the park, who complained about excessive barking, and dog owners who saw the park as an asset for the community.
NNAMDILocal leadership stepped in. On Monday, the Chevy Chase board of managers voted to dismantle the dog park. But they tried to reassure residents that Montgomery County officials were planning to build additional dog parks in the area soon. One board member said the fight over the dog park was, quoting here, "The most contentious and emotionally charged issue in the community's history."
NNAMDIAll of this unfolded as the tensions in the Chevy Chase neighborhood -- where many of the residents are both wealthy and very well-connected politically -- made national headlines and went viral on social media. Now, it's your turn. What do you think about that standoff over the dog park in Chevy Chase? I mentioned earlier in the station's billboard that the irony here is that long-time African-American residents in the district resented dog parks because they thought they are markers of gentrification.
NNAMDIMarkers that wealthy white people are taking over their neighborhoods, and have been, either silently or loudly, pushing against them for years with no success. Success, however, has come in Chevy Chase, Maryland -- success, that is, in getting rid of a dog park. Dog owners were not very pleased. It's my understanding that at that meeting last night, they were loud, they were vociferously objecting to what was taking place. What do you think about it all? The dog park controversy. It's your turn. Here is Zachary, in Alexandria, Virginia, about Metro. Zachary, your turn.
ZACHARYHi, good afternoon, Kojo. Thank you so much for taking my call.
ZACHARYI just wanted to talk about my personal experience with the Metro reopening.
ZACHARYWhen it first closed down, I said, okay, I'm gonna try to navigate the shuttle bus system. I live very close to the King Street Metro station. My first trip on the bus -- you know, Metro had to sort of contract, a lot of these third parties to come in and drive some charter buses. The driver actually had to stop and ask us, the passengers, directions (laugh) for where to go. So, personally, I am --
NNAMDI(overlapping) I've had that experience on an interstate bus coming here, but that's another story. (laugh)
ZACHARYOh, really? (laugh)
ZACHARYWell, we have that in common, then. So, I personally am very much looking forward to normal Metro service resuming, and have observed a couple of the new stations -- well, not new, but renovated; Eisenhower and King Street -- and applaud Metro for how good they look. The new LCD screens for the station displays look fantastic. And I'm just very pleased with the reopening.
NNAMDIWell, we'll see if everybody shares your enthusiasm. Howard County School Superintendent Michael Martirano had released a plan to redistrict more than 7,300 students for the 2020/2021 school year. The superintendant says the new school boundaries will alleviate overcrowding, increase socioeconomic diversity in schools, and establish better feeder patterns for the county's new high school.
NNAMDIBut the plan has drawn criticism, outrage, from parents who say that the new boundaries will disrupt their kids' education and force them into longer commutes while having little impact on the school's poverty rate. It's important to note that in 2014, Maryland school systems were the third most racially segregated in the country, with one-quarter of its schools deemed "highly segregated."
NNAMDIThe Howard County school board would vote on the plan on November 21st. What do you think? Do your children attend school in Howard County? How do you feel about the proposed redistricting? Give us a call. It's your turn -- 800-433-8850. We're gonna take a short break, but when we come back, if you have called, stay on the line, we will be getting to your calls. (music) Should school boundaries be redrawn to take into consideration socioeconomic and racial diversity in schools? It's your turn. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's your turn, whether you want to talk about Howard County schools redistricting, the Chevy Chase dog park brouhaha, the Metro stations reopening, Virginia marriage license requirement for noting race, or anything on your mind, give us a call: 800-433-8850. Send us a tweet @KojoShow.
NNAMDIWe got a tweet from @Tacoma22D: "I am so over the #ChevyChaseDogPark. Please -- first world inanity." Here now is Aisha, in Washington. Aisha, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
AISHAHi, thank you for taking my call. I just wanted to respond to the comment about whether or not we should take down memorials that commemorate the losing side of the Civil War. I think that the monuments should absolutely come down. Just as you would not have monuments in Germany commemorating Adolf Hitler's reign, nor should General Lee or any supporters of slavery be commemorated today.
NNAMDIWhat do you say to people who say, "But this is an important part of our history, and we would like it remembered?"
AISHAI'm sure Germans in Germany who were on the side of Hitler feel the exact same way. It was historical. The Olympics were held in Germany under the rule of Nazi Germany. So, that same argument could be posed there. I'm sure a lot of Jews would feel a particular way of that commemoration of Hitler, as should we as African-Americans and all Americans should feel some kind of way about anything associated on the losing side that supported slavery in America.
NNAMDII would add not just Jews would feel that way about Hitler. A whole lot of other people would, also. And I would say the same for Confederate monuments. Not just African-Americans resent Confederate monuments. A lot of other people do, also. But thank you very much for your call. On now to Cathy, in Washington, D.C. Cathy, your turn.
CATHYHi, Kojo. I'm calling about the ongoing battle with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
CATHYAnd specifically the Art Bank, because I heard, you know, the doors were locked to the collection.
JANEAnd then they were unlocked, I think. Staff was given the keys. However, I've called, and I know several other artists have called, because we've got works that are being considered for purchase by Art Bank for this fiscal year. And we have heard nothing, you know, and like most people, we like to sell our work. And we're kind of holding those in abeyance until we find out what the Art Bank is going to do. And, normally, we've heard by now, so that's my concern.
NNAMDIWell, it's between the mayor's office, or among the mayor's office, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the mayor's new Office of Creative Services -- is that what it's called? Creative Affairs -- the mayor's new Office of Creative Affairs. So, exactly who have you been trying to get in touch with?
CATHYWell, the --
NNAMDI(overlapping) Because the new Office of Creative Affairs falls under the D.C. Office of Cable, Television, and all the other things included in that name. (laugh)
CATHYWell, I did call the D.C. Commission, and I asked to speak to the person that monitors the Art Bank. And they gave me a name, I left a voicemail on that person's voicemail. It's been a week now, and still nothing back.
NNAMDIHmm. Well, I don't know. I guess you'll just have to keep calling. But I think that until this whole matter of who's in charge of what actually gets straightened out, that there will be this level of confusion. So, good luck.
CATHYWell, thank you. And the fiscal year is running out, so thank you very much, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd thank you for your call. Here's Betty in Rockville. Betty, your turn.
BETTYYes, I do not feel as though we need ICE here. Their main purpose is to try to get immigrants, and I think that's wrong.
NNAMDIWhen you say "their main purpose here is to try to get immigrants," do you mean --
NNAMDI-- to try to arrest immigrants?
BETTYRight, right, and I do not agree with that.
NNAMDIThere are people who feel that people who are, in their view, "in the country illegally," should be arrested. How do you feel about that?
BETTYNo, I don't feel that way.
NNAMDIOkay. How do you feel?
BETTYWell, no, I think that this is an open country, and that we do not need to arrest people just because they're here.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. It is your turn. You can offer your opinion on this on any topic. Natalie emails: "What on Earth is the rationale for licensing female prostitutes, ostensibly as a protection of the women? P.S.: Such a law would not go a long way to gain support for D.C. statehood. That bill, currently before the D.C. Council, or will be coming before the D.C. council in the next session, would legalize prostitution in the District of Columbia, in order, as Natalie's email said, to protect prostitutes, would also mean that the customers, the so-called johns, would not be prosecuted, either.
NNAMDIAnd there are arguments to be made on both sides of that issue. Some people believe that it is a good thing to protect the women. Others believe that it will encourage women to be forced into that life, and that it could make D.C. a destination for sex tourists, that you don't want a brothel popping up in the house next door to you. But we'll have to see.
NNAMDITailor-- the tailor -- CuetheTailor tweets: Please stop folks from saying slaves were brought to this country, when it was human beings stolen and made slaves. Also, the country was populated by brown and copper-colored folks already. On, now, to Martin. Martin, you're on the air, it's your turn. Go ahead, please.
MARTINOh, yes, thank you for taking my call. I am calling about the issue that ICE can get access to the jails. I think -- I am agreed. I am an immigrant myself, and I think when you come to this country, legally or illegally, you have to follow the law. If you make something wrong, if you commit a crime, you have to face the consequence.
NNAMDIExcept for this small detail -- the individuals we are talking about have not yet been convicted of a crime. They are accused of sexual assault. They have not yet been convicted. Do you think that people who are accused of these obviously very deplorable crimes should be delivered to ICE based on the fact that they are accused?
MARTINWell, I think -- I believe there is a legal system that, first of all, you have to prove if this person commit the crime, and then they will be referred to ICE. Otherwise, no.
NNAMDIBecause the people who are -- who ICE have been looking to pick up are people who have been accused of sexual assault in Montgomery County. They have not yet been tried or convicted. So, we'll have to see what happens with that. In response to the closing of the dog park (laugh) in Chevy Chase, @BlackLivesMatterDC tweets: Blame it on the affluenza. The reference to the affluence of that local community. (laugh) Here's Paula, in Arlington. Paula, your turn.
PAULAHi, Kojo. I wanted to return to a topic that you had discussed on other shows that absolutely breaks my heart.
PAULAThe issue of the death of so many trans women in D.C., especially women of color. I had tried to -- first of all, it also broke my heart when that one show -- you had said that no one had called about that issue, and I called, but I was driving. And so I wasn't allowed to talk, and couldn't pull over before the show ended.
PAULABut it's an issue that just -- it doesn't get enough press. I'm not sure what to do about it. I speak Spanish, and several years ago ,I had gone -- I didn't go there, but I filled out their volunteer form for Casa Ruby, and never heard back from them, which is not atypical for volunteer, you know, charitable organizations. I didn't follow up, because it's not the most convenient place for me.
PAULABut -- and I found other areas to use my Spanish. But it just -- every time I see another death, it just makes me so angry and fills me with such sadness that nobody cares about these people. And then you didn't get one phone call, and that made me even sadder and angrier, because you're chock full of phone calls. What can we do about this?
NNAMDIWell, I think your expression of concern is one of the things we can do about it. If citizens are aware that this is happening and they're concerned that trans individuals seem to bee being targeted for assault and murder, then they would be pressing their local officials and their law enforcement agencies to do a great deal more to protect transgendered people. So, thank you very much for your call. Maybe this is the call that I was looking for. Thank you very much, Paula. On now to Rory in Burke, Virginia. Rory, your turn.
RORYHi, Kojo, big fan of the show. I wanted to take it back to the dog park situation
RORYYou know, I heard that they were kind of bringing up gentrification. I just see that as being, you know, a little cynical, to put, like, a political spin on --
NNAMDI(overlapping) No, that was -- it was -- that was I who brought that up. I was talking about --
RORYOh, I know, but I'm saying a political spin on a situation -- I mean, so many people in America, they love their dogs. Dog owners, one myself. In a big city in particular, dogs need a place really to run free, and by having a park designated for them, even if you're not a dog-walker, you're going to keep them out of, you know -- from parks where they shouldn’t be, or causing problems and going to the bathroom in, you know, kids' parks. I just feel like we really need to give them, like, you know, their own spot, even if you're not an owner of a dog.
NNAMDI(overlapping) But did you pay attention to what was happening in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where the nearby homeowners were saying that they were disturbed by the constant barking of the dogs, and they couldn't take it anymore?
RORYI did see that, but I think that's kind of a not-in-our-backyard situation, where we know that everybody wants -- everybody needs a sewage plant, but they don't necessarily want one in their backyard, you know?
RORYSo, I mean, I hear them about the barking, but there needs to be one of those. That's just my point. But thanks so much, Kojo.
NNAMDIThank you very much. Here now is Derek, in Delaware. Derek, your turn.
DEREKYeah, you were speaking with the gentleman earlier in regards to the crack cocaine --
NNAMDI(overlapping) Crack cocaine epidemic, yes.
DEREK-- that was being -- having his sentence reduced. I just find it hypocritical that the government is now charging these big drug companies with the whole opioid crisis. And, granted, it is a major deal for the families. But what about the federal government's involvement in that whole crack cocaine epidemic? And how can they walk away from that situation entirely free, it seems?
DEREKI just find it very hypocritical.
NNAMDIWell, the involvement of the federal government is, in some circles, debatable. And after all, they're the federal government. They can walk away from anything they want to, unless -- unless -- unless people have filed lawsuits that the government has to defend. And I don't know about any lawsuits that hark back to the spread of crack cocaine in the United States. But thank you very much for your call. We're almost out of time, but here is Ernie. Ernie, you're on the air. It's your turn.
ERNIEIt has to do with this business with the county of Montgomery County and ICE. I just find it dangerous when local officials like County Council people and city officials make these decisions about not enforcing the laws or enforcing the laws. I think it should be brought to a referendum for the citizens of the county or the city or the municipality to make this decision.
ERNIEBecause these are really important decisions, and, all of a sudden, we get hit with them because the vociferous people on one side get to the politicians, the politicians should not have that much power. That's all I wanted to say.
NNAMDIAnd thank you. He thinks, Ernie, that there should be a referendum on issues like this. And, finally, here is Pat in Columbia. Pat, your turn.
PATThank you. I'm calling, Kojo, to alert your listeners that today could very well be the death knell for the Refugee Resettlement Program, the 40-year-old program, humanitarian program that, over the last 40 years, has resettled three million refugees. There is a meeting today at the White House.
PATIt has been announced that they're considering setting the ceiling for refugee admissions at zero for the coming year. If they do that, then the Refugee Resettlement infrastructure will be destroyed.
NNAMDIWhat do you think people need to do today?
PATI think we need to call our congressmen and get on the White House fax line or the White House website and send messages.
PATCall the White House phone number. I was able to actually get through this morning, so it's not impossible to get through.
PATSo, urge your listeners to do that.
NNAMDIWell, you just did, Pat, and thank you very much for your call. It's your turn. Just about out of time. We got an email from Richard, who says: The Confederate memorials honor treason, nothing more. Gina emails: There need to be listings of all the stops on the platforms -- speaking of Metro.
NNAMDII was at Foggy Bottom, wanting to get to Metro Center. The only map was electronic that changed too quickly to get the info. There used to be poles listing all the stations. Bring them back, please. Brian tweets: I grew up in Montgomery County and saw how fear from ICE trickled down into the public school system, with threats of deportation regularly joked about and deployed against students.
NNAMDIAnd Tom tweeted: Please tell your caller wanting to help with trans people to contact the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community. And then -- I think I have time for one more. Annie emails: I live in Old Town, Alexandria, and dearly missed Metro this summer. My commute to Georgetown typically takes 20 to 30 minutes, but it took that long just to get to D.C. on the shuttle. That said, I'm a huge supporter of public transportation, and shutdown shows how important designated funding and regular maintenance is to ensuring smooth operations. I feel frustrated when I hear people complain about Metro service, because we have not invested in it nearly enough.
NNAMDIAnd that's it. Today's show was produced by Cydney Grannan, Julie Depenbrock and Monna Kashfi. Coming up tomorrow, the Second Look Act calls for reduced sentences for people charged with violent crimes in the District before their 25th birthday, and it's controversial.
NNAMDIWe'll hear from both sides of that debate. (music) Plus, we'll find out what it takes for exonerees -- people who have been wrongly convicted and later exonerated -- to get compensation for the time they served behind bars. That all starts tomorrow, at noon. Until then, thank you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
If you're a federal worker, now is the time to make changes to your health insurance plan.
D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) on his re-election campaign and Jack Evans; Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker on the county's new economic development platform, racial equity proposals and widening the American Legion Bridge.
It's been two years since an unarmed man, 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar, was shot and killed by police in Fairfax County. Kojo sits down with Bijan's family to discuss their quest for answers.