Washington Informer: H Street Revitalization Hits a Snag
I wanted to get this up earlier, but I felt compelled to just stare at my screen in disbelief for a while after I read the article. The article focuses on the struggles of small business owners along the H Street Corridor during construction. It also mentions that property taxes have risen on the Corridor. The author gets some quotes from business owners, and from Tommy Wells. She then jumbles that all together into what might just be the biggest ball of bullshit, racebaiting, crap I've seen published as an actual news item in a contemporary newspaper. Wow. Just wow. I'll probably write more soon, but go ahead and experience it for yourself.
There so many things wrong with this article and the author's argument that I find it difficult to even know where to start.
Let's start with history. According to the article the corridor bustled with a variety of successful businesses. But things reportedly changed in the late 1960s with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King: in the wake of rampant looting, arson and vandalism the area declined and many businesses closed and never reopened. Actually, H Street had already been in decline for more than a decade when the riots hit in 1968. It wasn't a night and day change, and that's pretty much what the author appears to imply.
The H Street Shuttle did not operate during the day. That is true. It's because most people are at work or school during the day. Running the shuttle only at night presented the best value.
On property taxes: She added that with property taxes having escalated, she wondered why minority businesses would have to pay as much in taxes as the new white-owned bars and clubs.
“So I see it as discrimination with the city providing selective assistance to certain types of businesses,” Johnson said.
What? For clarity's sake I'll say that the selective assistance thing refers to the H Street Shuttle. But the property taxes? Giving property owners on a street under construction a break on property taxes, or at least extra time to pay, makes sense. It makes a lot of sense (one could rightly say that articles like this one harm the argument because they bury it under a bunch of propaganda). But you do still have to pay them, and you don't get to pay less because you have been on the street longer, operated a particular business longer, or happen to be a certain race. If that sounds obvious, well...good. But the article seemed to me to suggest that Ms. Johnson disagreed with at least one (possibly) all of those points. I really hope she was misunderstood.
The rest of the article is heavily slanted, and that's obvious from the language, so I'll just leave it alone.
This whole annoys me because this could have been a decent article. It could have just been a piece on the trials and tribulations of business owners during construction (the Post wrote that one). It could have been a story on demographic changes on H Street (The City Paper wrote that one). Want a particular African American experience? Maybe profile a few longtime business owners, and talk to them about everything. Maybe research your history a little, and try to be a little bit accurate when you talk about it, or really about anything for that matter.