Journal Entries for November, 2005
(not many entries this month)

click here for archives of previous entries

Saturday morning, November 19: The lights are on again at 1715-1717 Madison Avenue. That's good. Don't know if it was the email I sent to HUD, comments here or the persistence of security staff. It is funny how things do seem to happen once I've written of them here.

Still no progress on the big gate. It just sits there, rendering the entire fence investment useless, a waste of both time and money. Still a great delaying tactic by a desperate property management firm trying so hard to stay at the teat of the federal gravy train.

There are dents in the steel door to the substation. I noticed one not long back. Now there are several. Doesn't look like rocks. There'd be more scratches.
Don't know what to make of it. It's a pretty stout door. I don't know why we haven't heard the making of these dents since one of us is usually here. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

There are offers for the lot and house on the dining room table. Had a long talk with my dad last night. He tells us we have done our tour of duty and if we want to leave, we should. It's not like we needed his permission, but hearing the old Navy chief give it doesn't hurt. Vaughndo and I respect him more than he could imagine. I have such mixed emotions. Hearing that he was proud of us and that we had done good made me want to stay when the purpose of the conversation was to give us license to leave, or so I thought. If we sell, I will feel a bit as if we're abandoning our post. We weren't raised that way. But there are times when you have to admit you're beaten. That there are things beyond your control. That maybe you were naieve to think you could press your values on others.

There was a posting in the guestbook a couple years ago. Something about wishing us success in our local war. From a reader in Sweden. The internet has made this a small planet. It may be that Vaughn and I are done tilting at windmills. That we may be fleeing the city just as yuppies with more money than sense are flocking back. I've never been good at timing. I bid on a house in Biloxi, Mississipi, a stone's throw from the beach, five years before gambling was allowed. Lost the bid by $500 on the $20k price. I would have made a killing. Of course, that house is likely now demolished either from casinos or hurricane. Timing is everything.

Monday, November 14, 2pm: Spoke to a veteran city officer very early this morning who was grateful to use our clean restroom. She said she just couldn't use the restroom at the laundromat on the beat. She wouldn't touch it. Of course, that's what our place is for.

Have noticed more officers on foot patrol around at night. Police brass knows that's a very effective tactic, as everyone agrees. No doubt an effort to keep the murder number down as year end approaches. Very important for a new police commissioner and a candidate. Priority is politics. Proactive policing is just a good side effect. I recall officers thawing themselves out in the pit stop while on short breaks from foot patrol in the snow the first December we had the place open.

The new owner of 1712 Madison has new tenants. They weren't told what the trash disposal days and rules were. I called the owner about trash they'd deposited in front. He came to remove their garbage and moving debris right away and promised he would do the right thing with trash, unlike some other owners on this block. Refreshing.

The generator driven floodlamp at the corner of Madison and Wilson is humming still, right now. The police forgot to turn it off again. Brightly burning lights, making noise, wasting diesel. Tried calling the Central District Major's office this morning. Got voicemail.  A few hours later, I called 311, non emergency police. Had to explain to Ms. Johnson over and over what I was talking about. She couldn't seem to grasp it but finally said "OK, that's been transmitted to police dispatch." They usually turn it off at 4am. It looks like what some would call typical city sloppiness to leave it on all day. Same thing with the larger, taller, permanent, brighter and quiet street lights right next to it that have been burnt out for two years. Parks and Recreation department and passing the buck there.

I can't get the police to turn off their floodlamp during the day and I can't get Pedestal Gardens management to light theirs at night. First one and now two of the floodlamps on the Madison Avenue side of their building at 1715-1717 Madison are out. Casts that side of the building in darkness. Those lights were put in a couple years ago at the demand of tenants and neighbors. Can't be good for the security officers who should be patrolling and watching in those areas now dark. I've reminded them a few times to tell property management to no avail.

Spoke to a prospective buyer of our place. Yes, it's finally come to that. One of his first questions was how long the lease was on the substation. He was incredulous there is no lease, that no penny has ever been paid by anyone for use of that space. I'd say it's a given that if and when we sell, the substation will be no more. No doubt turned into yet another meager apartment for those who do not mind, or even prefer the convenience of living in such a popular crack and heroin market.

No movement at all on 1704 still. No word. I'm certain the city's selected another wheeler dealer developer they so love. He and the Housing Department bureaucracy are playing games amongst themselves, residents, and with the future of this block, with no oversight we know of. Just one more straw on the camel's back, as far as we're concerned. Pedestal Gardens management will no doubt be pleased to hear that. Their tactics of promises and stalling are helping wear us down at last. PG's driveway gate has not been touched still, for weeks. Stuck open.
The fence and its controlled access system useless without it  Nothing of the supposed security improvements are making a difference we can see, as Commissioner Hamm (our neighbor two blocks up) personally guaranteed they would when he visited me early last spring. He should be embarrassed at the drug dealers thumbing their noses at him in his own neighborhood.

Monday, November 7, 10am: New security company at Pedestal Gardens as of the first. Fifth change in a year. Property management is putting on a good show, intent on stalling any action by HUD to disqualify them for their irresponsible management. "Look, we've changed security companies, we've put in cameras and a new fence, see, we're trying..." Yeah, they're trying. Trying to keep milking a broken system. I say new security company, though we have Kirk, Jimmy and Claude back. They'd worked here for years with another company. Deja vu to see them on the beat again. They do make the rounds, visible. Heard rumor the off duty officers are still being employed here. I can't imagine why.

The pedestrian gate to PG is functional. Contractors finally put on door returns so they don't just wave open in the breeze anymore. One needs a card to get in, but you can be buzzed in from the apartments, too. Apparently a print out is made of which apartment buzzes someone in and when. Might be useful information if there's intelligent life using the information. The same "if" I wonder about the new cameras.  The new pedestrian gate is not very effective, though. The driveway gate next to it remains wide open. And no one's worked on that in a week. It's important to Pedestal Gardens that the fence system be delayed as long as possible. The jury can't assess whether it was worth the wasted time until it's finished. "You haven't given the new fence a chance to control the property. It's not done yet."

The floodlight at the corner is still there. Yesterday someone forgot to turn it off. It just hummed all day long, burning brightly in the sunshine. Some of the parishioners of Payne Church muttered about the waste. I called Central District offices twice to remind them. It did get turned off this morning at 4, as usual. We appreciate the light. It does discourage customers, but it's a temporary fix as is any "change up" around here. As soon as they know that's all it is, they'll get more confidant and the deals will happen as if it wasn't there. That's already beginning to happen.

Did see city officers on foot two nights of the last few. A welcome sight when it's proactive, not reactive. One time was when we had shot gun blasts intermittently about a block west. They'd happen quick, then stop for a while. Then one, then two.
Aggravating. Definitely not fireworks or handgun. Don't know if they found out who or why. Last night was to investigate a fight between two girls that turned nasty with a blade. Seemed to originate at 1709 McCulloh, a house that reminds everyone on the block of the thriving crack and whorehouse that once was 1704 Madison.

Speaking of which, the long awaited and oft postponed closing on that house was supposed to be Halloween Day. I don't know if it happened or not. I see nothing happening there. Don't know if the man selected to develop the property has had cold feet. Have been tempted a few times to call him again, but have lost interest. The place is securely boarded and I'm very tired of caring about that damned property. No one else does. I wish I'd long ago taken the advice of neighbors and found a buyer before it fell into the city's hands. Foolish me, believing the bureaucracy would help this block.

Was out with the dogs Saturday about noon. Watched as a young man left the back yard of 1712 Madison with a large and heavily loaded trash bag over his shoulder and a yellow construction level. Obviously a burglary. Called it in. Gave a good description and where he was headed (straight down Laurens toward the Pennsylvania Avenue pawn shops). The police called me back, asking my address again. They had picked up a suspect. Wrong clothing. Wrong street by a long shot. No trash bag. No level. Got ahold of the owner. He seemed surprised someone would burglarize the place in broad daylight. Obviously doesn't know the neighborhood yet. Of course, if he did, he probably wouldn't have bought the apartment house. At least we got the chance to exchange numbers. He appreciated my caring enough to report it and contact him so he could fix the open window.

I was disturbed to hear his rental agent saying to a prospective tenant on the steps "no, we only accept cash, I'm sorry you weren't told." He was talking to a confused looking fellow who was concerned about walking to the bank before it closed. The new owner of 1712 told me that the top floor is done and both apartments there rented. I haven't seen the new neighbors. I'm skeptical they'll be a positive influence on the block. Another case of no one living and owning or caring here, just taking what they can get. Then again, maybe I'll be surprised.

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