City Desk

Adams Morgan Liquor License Moratorium Lifted for Restaurants

D.C. alcohol regulators have lifted a moratorium restricting new liquor licenses for restaurants in Adams Morgan while extending for three years the current ban on new licenses for taverns and nightclubs. The Alcohol Beverage Control board announced the decision at a meeting this morning.

The liquor license moratorium expired on April 16, 2014, but the board voted on an emergency basis to keep it  in place for 120 more days so that it could hear the concerns of the community, which was divided: Some residents wanted the moratorium on all liquor licenses to remain intact, while the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission supported extending it for five years but lifting the moratorium for restaurants. Others said the moratorium had failed to curb the neighborhood's loud nightlife, so the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration should just ditch it all together.

Among the moratorium absolutists: the Kalorama Citizens Assocation, whose president, Denis James, said today that "the board has opened the door for more bad players in our neighborhood, more restaurants posing as nightclubs." James' group supported extending the moratorium for all establishments, which has been in effect in the neighborhood in some form since 2000, for five years.

ABC board chair Ruthanne Miller said today that the board recognizes problems remain with "peace, order, and quiet" in Adams Morgan, but opted to lift the moratorium on restaurants because the current ban may have "had some negative consequences on Adams Morgan such as economic stagnation and a deterrence on quality restaurants choosing to locate there."

Read more Adams Morgan Liquor License Moratorium Lifted for Restaurants

District Line Daily: D.C.’s Biking Twits

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to citydesk@washingtoncitypaper.com.

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D.C. cyclists are nastier than a motorcycle gang, according to Post columnist Courtland Milloy. Bicycling "terrorists," he somewhat argues, are trying to take over the roads in D.C. But are they? WCP's Aaron Wiener weighs in, saying that Milloy has a blase attitude toward cyclists who are hit by cars and that it doesn't appear he's even aware there are people in wards 7 and 8 fighting for very basic biking rights.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Police are investigating an assault at Mount Vernon Square's Safeway in which a woman punched a man while calling him a gay slur. [News4]
  • Take a look at these gorgeous photos from last night's double rainbow. [Post]
  • Despite an increase in bicycling in D.C., there's actually been a decrease in the number of citations issued to cyclists this year so far. [Post]
  • Councilmember Mary Cheh fires at DDOT over the condition of the roads and the high number of potholes, but DDOT says it's not their fault, since roads haven't been adequately funded for some time. [WAMU]

Read more District Line Daily: D.C.’s Biking Twits

The Needle: Let Them Eat Cake!

Cupcake Apocalypse: Crumbs Bake Shop announced it will close all of its stores nationwide, including three in D.C., signaling a potential end to the cupcake craze. Which cupcake shop is next? +3

Big Whoops: Employees at the National Institute of Health stumbled across 16 vials of smallpox sitting in a laboratory room in Bethesda last week. There is no indication that anyone has been exposed to it, but still, smallpox!  -4

Read more The Needle: Let Them Eat Cake!

16th Street Heights Corner Store Owner Killed in Robbery

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The owner of a 16th Street Heights corner store has died after being beaten in a July 4 robbery at the store, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

James Oh, the owner of the Gold Corner Grocery & Deli at 5501 Colorado Ave. NW, and his wife Soonai Oh were both assaulted during the Friday robbery. James Oh, a 76-year-old resident of Rockville, was transported to the hospital, where he died this morning, according to a neighbor who spoke to Soonai Oh and asked to remain anonymous.

According to the MPD, the incident took place at 5:19 p.m. on Friday. MPD is on the lookout for two people of interest. Both are black males between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall and of slim build. Both were wearing black masks at the time of the robbery, and one was carrying a small handgun. They left in a black Jeep Cherokee with the D.C. license-plate number DP 6033.

Calls to the store were not answered, and Oh's family could not be reached.

The people of interest can be seen in this video provided by MPD:

Image via Google Maps

At Spa World, Questions of “Abduction” and “Willful Refusal to Pay Wages”

The people giving you massages and fresh towels in between your bubble teas at Spa World, court records show, might not be getting paid, and some might not be able to leave.

The popular Korean spa in Centreville, Va., is the subject of a police investigation into accusations of nonpayment of wages, slave-like labor conditions, and prostitution, according to court papers first reported by Jeff Goldberg of WJLA-TV. Detectives from Fairfax County’s new human trafficking unit conducted a search of Spa World last Wednesday and seized files and electronic records. Police haven't yet filed any charges against Spa World owners, though the search warrant lists "abduction" and "willful refusal to pay wages" as potential criminal offenses under investigation.

An affidavit for the search warrant obtained from Fairfax Circuit Court reveals that the investigation began in December 2013, when a Spa World employee contacted police over nonpayment of wages. Since then, the human trafficking unit has interviewed several other alleged victims, who may be owed a total of up to $500,000 in back pay.

One 60-year-old Korean worker told authorities that a Spa World manager recruited him from San Francisco as a body scrubber, a popular exfoliation treatment called ddaemiri, which Spa World offers in its bathing areas. Court records show the man says that upon arriving in Centreville, that manager confiscated his shoes and luggage. He was not allowed to leave the Spa World premises and was forced to sleep on the floor, he told police. He was later moved to an apartment owned by Spa World, the affidavit says, which he shared with other employees and for which he paid rent to his boss, though others cited in court records say some workers live at Spa World in an unfurnished room on the second floor and also pay rent. A coworker and roommate of his, a woman in her 60s, told police a manager confiscated her ID when she arrived from New Jersey to take the job. Several employees say in the affidavit that they were told to put fraudulent information on employment applications and instructed to not talk to law enforcement; during inspections of the premises, some employees were hidden in a “secret room” on the second floor.

Several of the alleged victims told police of not being paid at all for their first month’s work, having 15 percent or more of their subsequent wages withheld (being told the owner was opening another business and would pay them back, but never did), having paychecks bounce, and in the case of one worker, being forced to pay her boss $2,400 in cash to be allowed to quit, payment her boss claimed was for rent, court records show. They also describe being denied lunch breaks or any kind of leave for illness or injury, despite the heavy physical demands of body scrubbing and massage work, which was largely relegated to Chinese nationals (many of them ethnic Koreans), with Korean nationals at the front desk and Latino employees assigned to custodial work, the affidavit says. The body scrubber said that other Spa World employees, who are undocumented immigrants, are not paid for their work at all, describing them as “slaves.” The body scrubber also claims that prostitution occurs on the premises, though no alleged victims of sex trafficking were interviewed in the affidavit.

Spa World owner Sang K. Lee didn't respond to multiple requests for comment. Fairfax County pollce wouldn't comment, either, saying the case is still an active investigation. Read more At Spa World, Questions of “Abduction” and “Willful Refusal to Pay Wages”

Blogger Hired By Washington Football Team To Defend Team Name Resigns

 

 

The liberal blogger hired by the Washington football team to defend its controversial team name didn't last a month on the job before he announced on Twitter last night that he would be resigning from the newly created post.

The team hired Tribbett right after the U.S. Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled the team's federal trademark because it is considered to be disparaging to Native Americans. 

Tribbett ran the now-shuttered Not Larry Sabato blog and made a name for himself when he broke the story of former Virginia Sen. George Allen calling an Indian-American man affiliated with his opponent's campaign "macaca," a slur meaning monkey.

Read more Blogger Hired By Washington Football Team To Defend Team Name Resigns

District Line Daily: Zebras Go Extinct

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to citydesk@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

D.C.'s Department of Transportation will get rid of the zebra barriers that were intended to prevent cars along Pennsylvania Ave. NW from making U-turns through the bike lanes, because the zebras are not working. They'll be replaced by new barriers called park-its, which are rubber, six feet long, and four inches high.

LEADING THE MORNING6 NEWS:

  • Under the D.C. budget, a law exempting certain senior homeowners from property taxes was changed to allow these seniors to defer their property taxes. [WAMU]
  • Some relics stolen by a satanic cult 20 years ago from Congressional Cemetery are finally being returned. [Post]
  • Why do so many bicyclists ride on sidewalks in D.C.? [Post]
  • Area firefighters are struggling to solve hundreds of cases involving cars that were intentionally set on fire. Many people set their cars on fire to collect insurance payments. [News4]

Read more District Line Daily: Zebras Go Extinct

The Needle: Winning Streak

Sunny Sundays: The District has had "spectacular" weekend weather for 14 straight weeks, with an average high temperature of 78 degrees and an average low of 58 degrees during this period on the weekends. Let's hope this doesn't jinx it. +3

Game On: Rep. Andy Harris–the Maryland Republican who introduced an amendment to block D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law—played it real mature on Twitter and taunted D.C. residents, who have no representation in Congress, by saying that traffic was really heavy from D.C. to the Eastern Shore this holiday weekend. In the wake of Harris' effort to kill D.C.'s local law, Mayor Vince Gray had called on D.C. residents to boycott holiday destinations on the Eastern Shore, which Harris represents. Of course, most of the roads that lead from D.C. to the Eastern Shore of Maryland also lead to Delaware, but maybe Harris didn't realize that. -5

Read more The Needle: Winning Streak

Chatter: Paid in China

eb5What you said about what we said in our June 27 issue

In a rare moment of agreement, Washington City Paper readers have sounded in accord, and on a somewhat unlikely topic: a little-known federal visa program. In our June 27 cover story, Aaron Wiener reported on EB-5, which grants green cards to foreigners in exchange for their hefty investment in U.S. development projects, and the role it’s played in D.C. real estate. Turns out that, to a lot of readers, this exchange is kind of gross.

On Twitter, @ryanjweber summed up the unease: “So I guess you can kinda sorta buy a green card.” The cash-for-status exchange also rubbed @parkyhee the wrong way. “Want to be an American citizen? With enough money, you can be!”

The story caused some readers to pose additional questions. “Is this an artificial layer of development, or true demand-based construction?” @jbrindger asked. But mostly folks just wanted to declare their displeasure. “U.S. cities up for sale!” tweeted @DCbarragan. “An appalling fed. law. No regard for fairness, equality & sovereignty. Few win, millions lose.”

Read more Chatter: Paid in China

District Line Daily: On A Roll

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to citydesk@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

The D.C. Cannabis Campaign says it has collected twice the number of required signatures to get its pot legalization bill on the ballot this November. If D.C. voters approve the initiative—and it's allowed to go into effect—it would be legal to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants, and share—not sell—up to an ounce of marijuana to anyone 21 or older.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • Miss the fireworks in D.C. this year? Here they are in less than a minute. [Post]
  • Former D.C. Mayor Tony Williams endorsed Muriel Bowser for mayor. [WAMU]
  • The D.C. Fire Department responded to 17 outdoor fires after dark on July 4. [Post]
  • The District located enough funds to build a playground at the D.C. General homeless shelter. [WAMU]

Read more District Line Daily: On A Roll

District Line Daily: Do Ya Feel Lucky, Punks?

A morning roundup of news, opinion, and links from Washington City Paper and around the District. Send tips and ideas to citydesk@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here.

D.C. almost lost its Fort Reno concert series this summer. Our latest cover story looks at why it was canceled, why it was uncanceled, and what the fight was really about.

LEADING THE MORNING NEWS:

  • How the great Supercan saga of 2014 left the Gray administration looking like "idiots." [Loose Lips]
  • The number of HIV and AIDS cases in D.C. continue to decline, according to a new report from the D.C. Department of Health. [City Desk]
  • D.C. Mayor Vince Gray is urging residents to boycott the Eastern Shore of Maryland after the area's congressman, Rep. Andy Harris, introduced an amendment to block D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization bill. [AP]
  • Councilmember Mary Cheh wants animal rescue workers to be able to use sirens for animal emergencies. [Post]

Read more District Line Daily: Do Ya Feel Lucky, Punks?

The Needle: Son of a Beach

Protest City: Mayor Vince Gray thinks D.C. residents should consider ditching their summer vacation plans after Rep. Andy Harris, who represents all of Maryland's Eastern shore, successfully introduced an amendment in Congress to block D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization bill. If residents do decide to vacation there, Gray said he would not be averse if they "picket places that he may frequent or picket his office or whatever." +4

Panda Daddy:  The ever-elusive Rusty the Red Panda became the father to three baby cubs last week. Congrats, Rusty! +1

Read more The Needle: Son of a Beach

Navy Yard Residents Still Aren’t Convinced About Train Tunnel Plan

CSXtunnelThe details of how the government will permit the owners of the 100-year-old Virginia Avenue tunnel, CSX Transportation, to reconstruct the train route will likely be finalized by the end of the summer. But before any decisions are issued, Navy Yard residents who live nearby want its owners and the involved government agencies to finally listen to their grievances, something they say hasn't been done yet despite countless public hearings on the project.

About 200 people packed into a community meeting at the Capitol Skyline Hotel last night to grill representatives from CSX, the D.C. Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration about the construction project. CSX wants to widen and deepen the 4,000-foot tunnel to allow for double-stacked freight trains and a second track for two-way traffic, with the construction expected to last more than three years. The tunnel runs from under 11th and L streets SE to 2nd Street and Virginia Avenue SE and provides a bypass around Union Station. The trains do not carry passengers, just cargo.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, outgoing Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, and Ward 6 Democratic nominee (and likely next Councilmember) Charles Allen were all in attendance at last night's public meeting,

Residents have long said they don't want trains running through the tunnel while it's under construction and instead want them rerouted during the renovation period. But last month, the FHWA and DDOT issued a final environmental impact statement which recommended that CSX go about the construction without rerouting the trains. The agencies instead would have the trains run through the old tunnel while CSX builds a new tunnel adjacent to it. Once the new tunnel is complete, the plan is to knock down the old tunnel, have the trains run through the new one, and build another new tunnel where the old one used to be to allow for two-way traffic.

Rob Doolittle, a spokesman for CSX, says this plan would involve trains running through an open trench for approximately 230 feet, but that they'd never be operating in an open trench in front of residences. He says this option was developed in direct response to residents' concerns about trains operating in an open trench near neighborhoods.

The environmental impact statement is currently under a 60-day review period. (The review period is typically 30 days, but Norton requested an extension from the U.S. Department of Transportation.) After that review period, the Record of Decision will be issued, which will allow CSX to obtain the necessary permits and begin construction.

But on Tuesday, residents tried to get more answers from the government agencies and CSX in the one of the last public meetings before the final decision comes in.

"You say you listened to the community, but you have not heard us," resident Melissa Lee said. "You need to hear us and you need to listen harder." Read more Navy Yard Residents Still Aren’t Convinced About Train Tunnel Plan

Report: D.C. HIV and AIDS Cases Decline in 2012

vincegrayhivtest

Mayor Vince Gray takes an HIV test at today's press conference

The number of new HIV cases in the District continues to decline while the number of people with HIV are living longer, according to a new D.C. Department of Health report, which looks at the state of HIV and other diseases considered to be epidemics in the District in 2012. At a press conference today, Mayor Vince Gray hailed the report as great progress in a city that has long been considered one of the nation's epicenters of the disease.

There were 680 people diagnosed with HIV in the District in 2012, a decline from the 718 cases diagnosed in 2011 and a 42 percent decrease from the 1,180 new cases in 2008. In all, 16,072 people, or 2.5 percent, of the District's population was living with HIV in D.C. in 2012. That number represents an increase from the 15,056 people living with the disease in 2011, which city officials attribute to the reality that people are living longer with the disease.

The number of new AIDs cases declined by 35 percent between 2008 and 2012, from 567 cases to 370, suggesting that treatment for HIV is effective and more people are seeking treatment earlier.

The statistics coming out today, however, show that black residents are still disproportionately impacted by the disease, accounting for nearly 75 percent of new infections. While 2.5 percent of the District's entire population is living with HIV, 3.9 percent of black residents have it, and 5.7 percent of black males have it. The World Health Organization defines an epidemic as a disease that infects at least 1 percent of the population, which means that in D.C., HIV is still very much an epidemic—and, for black residents, it's a severe epidemic.

The good news is that the number of new cases in the black population did decrease, from 541 new HIV cases in 2011 to 489 in 2012. (There were 918 new cases in 2008.) For whites that figure  increased from 103 cases in 2011 to 105 cases in 2012, which is still a drop from 152 cases in 2008.

"The District of Columbia continues to make progress," Mayor Vince Gray said at the press conference, where he took his annual HIV test. "We have a lot of work yet to do. We cannot rest until we have no new cases and are on our way to a cure."

Here are some other important takeaways from today's report:

  • The "magnitude of the [hepatitis C] epidemic in the District is at a minimum, comparable to that of HIV." There were 15,915 cases documented between 2008 and 2012.
  • Wards 8, 5, and 7 have the highest rates of new cases, with one in every 100 people living in these wards diagnosed with HIV in the past five years.
  • There were no confirmed reports of a baby being diagnosed with HIV in 2012.
  • There was an 81 percent decrease in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases where the reported mode of transmission was injection drug use.
  • The number of deaths among people with HIV decreased by 36 percent from 345 in 2008 to 221 in 2012.
  • D.C. handed out 6.9 million male and female condoms in 2013, a 14 times increase from 2007.
  • D.C. removed 647,000 needles from the street in 2013 through its needle exchange program, up from 550,000 in 2012.
  • There were 177,000 publicly supported HIV tests in 2013, an increase from the 138,000 in 2012.
  • There were 7,258 new cases of chlamydia, 2,605 new cases of gonorrhea, and 173 new cases of primary and secondary syphilis reported in 2012.

Photo by Perry Stein

Photo: Sports Bar

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Laughing Man Tavern, July 1

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