See the #FOIACakes Documents; Court Hearing Set for Wednesday

[Note: My earlier post in May 2016 on this topic engendered indifference and/or hostility from the few who cared, though it led to one Capitol Hill-area ANC commissioner to refer to me as a jackass, which is now part of my Twitter bio. Krepp, the only ANC commissioner to be opposed in ANC 6B, easily won re-election 59%-24%. Also, this has nothing really to do with DC bars. Even in light of all this, I’m writing this post anyways.]
[12/13 Note: This article has been updated to include responses from Krepp]

The #FOIACakes lawsuit finally has its day in court: Wednesday, December 14th, although it’s unclear exactly why. Since at least mid-August (if not earlier), Capitol Hill East ANC commissioner Denise Rucker Krepp has possessed the very DC prosecution data she originally sought and sued to get, but her lawsuit against the Department of Justice still continues. Barred in DC has obtained (this sounds dramatic but I just signed up for a PACER account and paid $15 or so to download the documents) this data and is posting it here for the public (including Krepp’s neighbors and local businesses who contributed nearly $1900 to cover FOIA fees that never existed in the first place). The data includes prosecution statistics (including convictions and guilty pleas) for various crimes from 2010-2015, overall and sorted by the seven DC police districts (maps of DC police districts can be found here). Analyze yourself to draw your own conclusions about DC’s prosecutions (or lack of). Krepp apparently received the data after DOJ provided it to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 15th (The Committee requested it in May and June after the lawsuit was filed). Krepp says she’s still in court because DOJ has yet to give documents directly to her, and that Barred in DC could have asked for the statistics directly from her.

Krepp sued DOJ in May when DOJ failed to release detailed statistics about arrests and prosecutions in DC in response to Krepp’s FOIA request and appeal. Because Krepp asked for the data by ward, and DOJ only maintains the info by police service area or district, DOJ said it didn’t have the data she asked for, but suggested that she file another request for data it actually had. Wednesday’s hearing is regarding DOJ’s motion for summary judgment (essentially that the facts aren’t in dispute and the judge just needs to make a legal ruling); most, if not all, FOIA lawsuits are settled by motions for summary judgment, not a full blown trial. DOJ filed this motion on August 4th, Krepp’s attorneys opposed on August 17th, and DOJ responded on October 3rd.

Documents filed as part of the case do show that DOJ acted like jerks in responding to Krepp’s FOIA request. Last December, the DOJ employee tasked to search for the data suggested that DOJ ask Krepp if she wanted data by the way it was actually organized (district/service area) rather than ward (see below). DOJ never did, waiting until the appeal was adjudicated months later and telling her she could file a new request then. (Barred in DC filed his own request as suggested by DOJ in May and has not heard back himself.)

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Indeed, Krepp’s lawyer, Jay Williams (chair of the ANC alcohol subcommittee covering most H Street bars-see there is a connection to DC bars after all,) forcefully argues (and rightfully, in my opinion) that DOJ failed to reasonably interpret Krepp’s request in the first place, contrary to judicial precedent, DOJ FOIA policy, and President’s own proclamations.
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DOJ argues that Krepp clearly only wanted information about wards so it reasonably interpreted the request. I don’t buy it.

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Less convincing is Williams’ contentions that DOJ treated the request from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the “powerful” Senator Grassley, differently than an average citizen (Krepp), primarily to ingratiate itself with Congress to push through the confirmation of the nominee for DC US Attorney, Channing D. Phillips.

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Although DOJ for some reason did not argue this in its filings, the requests from Committee and the replies from DOJ aren’t even covered by FOIA. Although individual Congressmen must be treated like any other FOIA requester, FOIA doesn’t apply to requests made by Congressional committees acting through its chairman, as was done here. Federal agencies provide information to Congress (but not necessarily individual Congressmen) all the time outside FOIA, and it’s totally legal.

Again, given that Krepp now has the information she’s asked for and DOJ might get a judicial opinion restricting its ability to narrowly construe requests, it’s not clear why the lawsuit continues (perhaps attorney’s fees, the principle of the whole case-how to interpret FOIA requests, and/or the optics of being able to say that you fought the law and you won are all reasons). Barred in DC will keep you updated, whether you like it or care or not.

Filings (mostly linked already)

In the interests of some disclosure, a significant part of my job at the federal agency I work at involves FOIA, so the results of any litigation could theoretically affect the work I do. The views stated above are, of course, my own personal views and do not constitute the views of the U.S. Government. I’m also a resident member of the ANC6B alcohol subcommittee.

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Shake-Up on Barracks Row – Say Hello to Finn McCool’s (Again) & Tio Javier

Molly Malone's has been renamed Finn McCool's
Molly Malone’s has been renamed Finn McCool’s
Pacifico Cantina is now Tio Javier
Pacifico Cantina is now Tio Javier

Visitors to Barracks Row will see some changes to a few of the eateries/bars on the 8th Street SE strip owned by Xavier Cervera’s group.  Molly Malone’s is now called Finn McCool’s, which was the name of the bar that previously occupied the space before Molly’s opened in 2009. Pacifico Cantina is now Tio Javier.

In addition, Chesapeake Room closed for renovations (a similar fate befell Lola’s earlier this year) [UPDATE-This reopened with name Ophelia’s Fish House]. Even Senart’s Oyster House changed its last part of its name to Grille Room (from Chop House). So far, these name changes, which are not surprising after Cervera recently took back control of these restaurants, have included new menus and more changes are forthcoming. However, Barred in DC has not seen any recent trade name change applications approved by the ABRA Board for these spots, so stay tuned on that issue [UPDATE-ABRA approved the bar name changes on 11/30]

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New menu at Finn McCool’s

Barred in DC’s Hot Takes

A list of hot take opinions that Barred in DC actually holds, with varying levels of rational thinking or time spent considering the implications or impact on others. I’m guessing many will not be popular (particularly the last one). Subtweets are encouraged.

  1. Adams Morgan is the best neighborhood in DC 150 hours of the week.
  2. Brunch sucks.
  3. Visiting Georgetown feels like you’re on vacation.
  4. Dan Silverman is the man (I stole these list ideas from him).
  5. Calling someone the “man” is still cool.
  6. Comcast/Xfinity isn’t terrible.
  7. DC politics/neighborhood developments are infinitely more interesting than national politics.
  8. There are fun people and places to visit in the suburbs.
  9. Clarendon is nice.
  10. Retrocession > statehood.
  11. The DC Streetcar is/will be a success.
  12. 14th Street, Shaw, meh.
  13. It’s fun to be around DC tourists sometimes.
  14. Having a car in DC isn’t all that hard/expensive.
  15. Strict parking enforcement in DC is a good thing.
  16. NPR is terrible.
  17. Churchkey is an incredible place to drink beer and fall asleep of boredom.
  18. People who stand on the left side of the Metro escalator are fine.
  19. Barred in DC is an amazing blog/Twitter account.

Bardo River Brewery Approved – Kind Of, Sort Of

[UPDATE: Bardo is appealing order to DC courts, claiming that ABRA engaged in illegal ex parte communications with ANC and Nationals. See Bardawg’s comment below: https://barredindc.com/2016/10/06/bardo-river-brewery-approved-kind-of-sort-of/comment-page-1/#comment-57491]

Yesterday, ABRA issued an unusual preliminary decision regarding the proposed new Bardo brewery just south of Nationals Park. Basically, ABRA is allowing Bardo to operate a brewery on the Anacostia River site but says it can only serve customers on-premises if it agrees to close at 10p everyday of the week. If Bardo doesn’t accept this condition the Board basically says they’ll have a hearing and may deny the ability for Bardo to serve beer on-premises at any time. Concerns that plagued previous Bardo applications-noise, parking, and pedestrian safety-still remain.

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Where to Watch the Presidential Debates in DC – 2016

Credit: TheHill.com

Because it’s DC, plenty of bars will be hosting Presidential (and VP) debate watch parties in the lead up to the 2016 general election. Whether this is terrible or “This Is Why I Love DC” is debatable (as someone who cares more about my local ANC and ABRA decisions than Congress, it’s clear where I stand). That being said, these parties are usually fun times and it’s nice to have the shared bar experiences that sports towns have. So whether you’re a Hillary Clinton fan (reluctant or not) or a rare DC breed (a closeted Trump voter), here’s a list spots that are hosting parties for at least the first debate on Monday, September 26th and will likely host parties for the others (Oct 4th-VP, Oct 9th-perfect for many gov’t workers since it’s Columbus Day eve-and Oct 19th). Expect most bars in DC that have TVs to show the debate

Best bets (for both fun and crowds) are highlighted.

  • Capitol Hill/Eastern Market/Barracks Row
    • The Ugly Mug 
      • hosted by comedian
      • bingo
      • prizes
    • Capitol Lounge
      • Clinton/Trump impersonators
      • drink specials
    • The 201 Bar
      • Cloture Club debate drinking game
    • Union Pub
      • Cloture Club debate drinking game
  • Adams Morgan
  • 14th Street/U Street
    • Bar Pilar
      • 4 Election cocktails
      • bingo
    • Sudhouse
      • $3 PBR, $5 Drafts, and $5 Rail drinks
      • $4 Corn Dogs with fries or pork sliders for $6
    • Busboys and Poets
      • Post-Debate Community Discussion with Panelists:  Bill Ayers, Jared Ball, Medea Benjamin, and Fatemeh Keshavarz.
      • Also at Brookland & Mt Vernon Square
    • Local 16
      • DC Young Democrats
  • Dupont Circle
    • Teddy and Bully Bar
      • $5 Clinton BBQ Sliders and Trump Steak Bites
      • $11 Hillary/Trump-themed cocktails
  • Downtown
    • Lincoln Restaurant
      • $5 Clinton BBQ Sliders and Trump Steak Bites
      • $11 Hillary/Trump-themed cocktails

Bardo Plans to Shutter Trinidad Location and Sell Cans if Nats Park Location Approved

At a contentious ABRA fact-finding hearing on August 10th, Bill Stewart, the owner of Bardo, told the board that he would close the Trinidad/Bladensburg Rd. location if the ABRA approves his manufacturer’s license application for Bardo River Brewery just south of Nationals Park on the Anacostia in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The owner also expects to brew 5000 barrels of beer in the first year of operation, with 7000 barrels to follow (note Bardo in Arlington never brewed more than 2500). He also plans to set up shop like the famous Mcmenamins in Oregon, establishing satellite bars in Virginia and Maryland that Bardo would sell its cans through, as well as selling cans in retailers throughout the DC Metro area. The 150-page transcript is worth a read, including

  • Bardo’s lawyer strongly objecting to ABRA inviting the ANC representative to sort of testify, calling it “illegal”
  • an ABRA Commissioner telling Bardo’s lawyer to basically “Come at me bro” and inviting him to sue him
  • Bardawg officially becoming part of the security plan
  • a discussion about how open air tanks can be targets of shootings and terrorist attacks

Barred in DC will have more on the transcript later. A week earlier, Stewart stormed out of the originally-scheduled fact finding meeting because ABRA had invited folks from the Nationals and the ANC to participate, saying that he’ll lawyer up.

Despite all this, Barred in DC predicts that ABRA will grant the manufacturer’s license to Bardo, and if it doesn’t, its denial will be overturned on appeal.

[9/1 PM Update: Transcript excerpts from DCBeerBill and Aaron Morrissey saved below]

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