City Desk

Phil Mendelson Gets An Earful at Ward 8 Public Safety Forum

The crowd outside Covenant Baptist Church in Congress Heights last night seemed none too friendly toward Councilmember Phil Mendelson, organizer of the evening's community meeting on public safety.

Clark Ray, who is challenging Mendelson for his at-large council seat, and his campaign team greeted all of the meeting's attendees with a targeted flier: "Another election year meeting in Ward 8. We Deserve Better: Communities need to be involved every day to solve the issue of crime, not just during an election."

The crowd inside was scarcely more welcoming toward Mendelson, who chairs the Council’s committee on public safety and the judiciary, or the other panel members he brought with him, including representatives from the Office of the D.C. Attorney General, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the Office of the U.S. Attorney General for D.C., and the D.C. Superior Court. 

Gathered just a block away from site of the March 30 shooting that left four dead, the group of roughly 70 victims' relatives, concerned community members, and anti-violence activists voiced tremendous frustration with how they've seen the D.C. government deal with violent crime.

Patricia Jefferies, the grandmother of 16-year-old shooting victim Brishell Jones, asked why Attorney General Peter Nickles had the time to look into Councilmember and mayoral hopeful Vincent Gray’s controversial fence but was too busy to meet with family members of those killed on March 30. Another Congress Heights resident wanted to know why another murder she witnessed firsthand was still an open case.

Naturally, the most vocal audience member was Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten, who railed against Mendelson’s harsh policies regarding PCP and his lenient stance on curfews. But what he seemed most peeved about was Councilmember Gray and Harry Thomas Jr. doling out money for anti-violence initiatives in what he described as an unethical manner.

When Moten called for him to launch an investigation into the nonprofit allocations, Mendelson attempted to diffuse the issue by telling him the U.S. Attorney’s Office would be in charge of investigating such claims. That prompted Moten to remind him the Council had no problem investigating the Dominican firetruck donation on its own.

“When are you going to stop these dog and pony show hearings?" Moten asked. “All y'all doing is playing political games. And because we speak out about it, we get punished.”

Much of the meeting focused on how the D.C. government treats youth offenders. There was one agency conspicuously absent from the panel: the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). Mendelson was quick to announce that representatives from DYRS were slated to attend, but sent an “interesting” email that afternoon that “suggested they were told not to come,” he said.

Despite being stood up by DYRS, the group discussed youth issues at length, particularly the problem of truancy and how it contributes to high levels of violent crime.  According to Second Seventh District Commander Joel Maupin, MPD picked up 7,000 truants last year, including over 1,000 in Ward 8.

“If the kids aren’t in school, they’re not going to get employment,” said Lee Satterfield, the chief judge of the D.C. Superior Court. “It’s not rocket science in terms of where you need to start.”

When Mendelson asked why youngsters who went on to be involved in shootings were let out of juvenile supervision, however, he found the heat turned back on himself and his Council colleagues. Because of the District’s strict juvenile confidentiality laws, Deputy D.C. Attorney General for Public Safety Robert Hildum said government officials cannot share that kind of information with the public.

“In my experience, [the confidentially laws] don’t protect the child as much as the agencies in charge of that child,” Hildum said. “It’s within the Council’s power to change that.”

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  • Manor

    Good lord I hope Mendelson gets voted out this fall. And ya know, the more I hear of Moten the more I like him, except for his unprofessionalism in that Ward 8 meeting and various other places.

  • DeanwoodCitizen

    Juliana, please update Maupin's title as Seventh District Commander.

  • Brahmin

    Manor the more you hear about Moten the more you like him.

    You are either a campaign flack or an idiot. What do you like, him bullying people, selling city property in the Dominican Republic, yelling at a young girl on the stand when she testified against his colleague who was later convicted for molesting her on school property.

    Something is wrong with you.

  • Brahmin

    I follow this link from Clark Ray's facebook page. I thought to myself when I saw this funny "Is he running against Mendelson. "I really don't view Clark Ray as running any competition for Mendelson. He will stomp on all in the race and spit them out without a problem.

    I saw Clark as running against Kelvin Robinson , possible Adam Clampit, possible Deborah Royster, Vincent Orange to replace Kwame Brown as he sails to the Chairman seat.

    His association with Moten is cause for pause. Troubling.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    To the residents of Ward 8, you need to clean out the den of vipers that are in your neighborhoods!

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Moten's an ex-con hustler who's made millions because of his relationship with Fenty. Mendelson should have bitched his ass out. He's pissed because his no-bid funding for the bullshit he does or claims to do, has been cut.

  • Manor

    Moten is obviously very rough and not suited for any sort of decent political discussion, but he's not afraid to yell at the powers that be in a relatively rational way. He reminds me of Barry before Barry become the corrupt coke hoover and punchline for DC leadership. He's a fighter man, and I always like a fighter. I just wish he'd learn a little more civility so he didn't alienate people right away. Go ahead, call me an idiot, time will tell, or maybe it won't.

    I do hope Mendelson finds himself jobless though, that man is a travesty. How much blood is on his hands?

    Regardless, any truly intelligent person needs to get out of DC, the place is just not tenable and populated by fools. Best of luck, but get out...

  • Chris Shott

    Thank you, DeanwoodCitizen. The item has been corrected.

  • Taye

    I'd really like to know who told DYRS reps not to attend this meeting.

  • in the know

    Clark Ray will do nothing for my Ward(8) I trust Phil Mendelson. He has experience Don't let Clark Ray pull the wool over the eyes of Ward 8 residents like Adrian Fenty. We don't need no savior in Ray

  • Jesse Helms

    Phil Mendelson is a liberal idiot and Ron Moten is a bad virus like Adrian Bent-Me over.

  • Columbia Heights

    I am beginning to think, none of these candidates are worth voting for and they aren't worth shit.

  • WARD4NDC

    I will not be casting a vote to re-elect D.C. At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson. I don't know anything about Clark Ray. D.C. voters/taxpayers/residents are doomed in the District of Columbia.

  • No to Ray

    Dont let Fenty/Moten/Ray trick you again. We all know Moten is doing Fenty's bidding and if elected, so will Ray Clark. He and Fenty recognized from the very start that if Fenty publicly backed Ray against Phil it would only help Phil out but make no mistake about it.... Ray is Fentys candidate. Don't get it twisted. Fenty has made backdoor deals to have one of his people run against everyone on the council that he can't work with (ie. that won't kiss his behind) so be very careful WHO you run out of office AND who you replace them with. It would be a shame for Fenty to actually get what he wants, a council he can control. He already has that in Graham, Evans and Bowser. With the other two riding the fence, all he needs is two more people to vote his way and he controls all of them. Hopefully it won't matter because he will be voted out as well but you can never be too careful.

  • ChinainDC

    Where in this article does it state that Clark Ray is a friend and ally of Moten? Come on folks, let's focus on the article and maybe some facts?

    Here's one worth noting:

    Fenty FIRED Clark Ray, and furthermore, during Ray's tenure with Tony Williams, he worked in Ward 8 as the Neighborhood Services Coordinator. I don't live in Ward 8, but Ward 8 would be lucky to have Clark Ray.

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