Thursday, February 22, 2007

VOH Covers Progress on Noise Fix

The Voice of the Hill this week carries a story about the latest developments in the H & 8th St NE community’s effort to gain relief from hours of amplified speech every weekend.

The story offers residents’ views, as well as those of the D.C. labor unions. To clarify, H Street NE residents and businesses have no desire to regulate speech. We only want limits placed on noise levels.

After all, one person’s free speech does not mean another must be forced to hear. Such a draconian interpretation of the First Amendment would mean you, the reader, should be forced to read this blog just because I have the right to publish it. Nonsense!

Reporter Ben Weinstein’s full story (H Street Preachers, Amplified Speech Might Get Turned Down) is available online.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On Radio, Union Leader Affirms Cooperation

Mr. Joslyn Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, and I participated Tuesday in an eight minute live interview on Washington Post Radio. The topic was D.C.’s noise statute.

While the program perhaps positioned the segment as two opposing points of view, Mr. Williams and I echoed similar themes about crafting a mutually agreeable solution.

Mr. Williams’ comments reaffirmed his cooperation with the H Street NE community and the city to resolve the problem, which currently enables unreasonable groups to blast homes and businesses with unlimited levels of noncommercial speech.

We have committed to a second meeting with D.C. Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh, along with the Office of Attorney General, to work out the details.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Noise Issue to Air Live on Wash Post Radio

Washington Post Radio today at 2:30 p.m. ET will air a live interview about D.C.’s broken noise ordinance. I will participate via phone along with the impeccably credentialed Mr. Joslyn Williams, president, Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO. Mr. William’s group apparently opposes the community’s desire for peace and quiet. Surely we can find some common ground.

Listen at 1500 AM or 107.7 FM, or on the website.

Washington Post Radio’s Sam Litzinger will host.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wash. Times Covers H Street Noise Issue

Today's Washington Times carries a front page story about the latest developments in the H Street NE community's efforts to fix D.C.'s broken noise statute. Reporter Gary Emerling interviewed Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, as well as representatives from D.C. labor unions, Office of Attorney General and the H Street NE community. Advocates for reform make clear the issue is about noise. Read the story, Bellowed brimstone raises ire on Hill, online.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Council, OAG, Unions and Community Converge on Noise Fix

District of Columbia Ward 6 City Councilmember Tommy Wells and the council’s Public Services and Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Mary Cheh (Ward 3) met Jan. 30 with representatives of the D.C. Office of Attorney General (OAG), D.C. Labor Council and the H Street NE community to address mutual concerns in an effort to fix a loophole in the city noise statute.

The loophole allows unlimited decibel levels of amplified noncommercial speech to blare anywhere in the city, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Several groups use amplifiers every weekend at the H and 8th St NE. The intersection enjoys a proud legacy of street preaching. Current groups include the Rev. Dallas Williams, Evangelist Woodward, the Nation of Islam and the Israelite School of Universal School Practical Knowledge.

However, some unreasonable groups abuse the law, and blast residents and businesses with more than four hours of peace-disturbing noise every Saturday.

Acting D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer penned a Jan. 29 letter to the councilmembers. She explained her office has pursued all legal options related to noise, and only a legislative solution can provide relief.

Wells and Cheh--who also is active in the American Civil Liberties Union--are pursuing a thorough approach to crafting a solution acceptable to all stakeholders--especially church leaders and organized labor.

As a former card-carrying member of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 39, I know union groups often rely on amplifiers in public protest to reach collective bargaining objectives. But for whatever reasons--irrelevant to this decibel discussion--some noisy groups have no interest in negotiating.

Some people want to be loud because the law says they can be loud.

Thus, residents and businesses are left to wither under endless hours of amplified lectures--unlike a passerby who can refuse to accept a printed handbill or the resident who can close the door on a solicitor.

Mr. David Rubenstein, from the Office of Attorney General, committed to drafting proposed legislative language, on which the groups will meet to review in the coming weeks. It will focus on decibel levels applied to amplifiers for all speech during daytime hours.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cold, Clear and Quiet

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Looking north toward the southeast corner of H and 8th St NE on Saturday evening, car tail lights flash past people waiting at the bus stop. (Copyright © 2007. David Klavitter)

Saturday’s crisp February temperatures retreated under clear and moonlit skies, with no sign of any amplified groups. One regular barking band typically blasts the community until well after dark from near the bus stop in photo above.

Extreme weather is bittersweet for the noise-plagued community: Most amplifier-wielding groups don’t assemble, but then neither do residents open their windows or linger outside.