- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2000

HUD hopes for resolution in Alexandria

This is in response to the July 8 "Nobles and knaves" editorial that named Telesis Corp. President Marilyn Melkonian and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) knaves of the week.

In 1998, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) was awarded a HOPE VI grant for $6,716,250 for the revitalization of the Samuel Madden Homes public housing development. The competition for HOPE VI grants had been extremely competitive that year, and the Alexandria proposal was selected for funding because of its excellent quality. HUD was excited about the development and looked forward to working closely with ARHA to implement the plan outlined in the application. Unfortunately, litigation has delayed the project.

Though it is not required under the law, a housing authority has the discretion to offer a property for sale to a resident organization. The previous administration at ARHA decided to exercise that option, offering the property for sale to a newly formed residents association at the Samuel Madden site and not to a longstanding, citywide tenants organization, the Alexandria Resident Council (ARC). Upset by this action, ARC challenged the decision, and both the Federal District Court and the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that ARC should have been offered the property. ARC subsequently submitted to the ARHA a proposal to purchase the Samuel Madden Homes in conjunction with Telesis Corp.

One of the requirements of the HOPE VI grant agreement is that the grantee submit a revitalization plan within 120 days of the date the agreement was signed. Because it had been 12 months since the implementation grant had been awarded and no physical progress had been made on the redevelopment program, HUD issued a grant-default letter and provided its position with respect to certain items at issue in the litigation.

HUD's correspondence was faxed from our headquarters to ARHA, the HUD Washington Field Office, Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley and Michele Chapman, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, that same evening. A copy of the letter also may have been faxed to the attorney for ARC/ Telesis in advance of the hearing. It is customary for HUD to fax copies of relevant correspondence to all parties involved in requests for HUD's position, particularly in cases in which the situation involves a public housing authority and a residents council. Unfortunately, no one from ARHA was in the office the evening the fax was sent, and ARHA staff members did not have an opportunity to visit their offices in the morning. Apparently, ARHA staff, thus, did not have the fax before the hearing. We do not understand how The Washington Times can conclude that faxing the letter to all affected or interested parties resulted in a court action that otherwise would have had a different outcome.

After the court ruling, in an effort to move the project ahead, HUD brought in an expert in mixed-finance development, with approval by ARHA, to work with ARHA and ARC/Telesis to facilitate an agreement that would permit the development to proceed. A good process of communication was established, and an agreement was near completion.

On July 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the district court judge did not have the authority to order the ARHA to accept the offer of ARC/Telesis. HUD will assess the impact of this ruling and will work closely with ARHA to move the development forward. Public housing residents and the residents of Alexandria are being harmed by the delays, and it is in the best interests of all parties to bring the legal issues to resolution and complete the program expeditiously.

ELINOR BACON

Deputy assistant secretary

Office of Public Housing Investments

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Washington

Cyclist's feat deserved more coverage

Each morning, The Washington Times is my first source of news. I always have enjoyed your headlines and excellent coverage of world, national and local news. As a sports enthusiast, I also read your sports section closely.

I was greatly disappointed Monday to find coverage of Lance Armstrong's second consecutive Tour de France victory on the fourth page of the sports section. I had expected to find coverage of this iron man and hero on Page A1. When I didn't find it there, I figured it would be on the front page of the sports section, but no, I had to turn to B4.

Let's cheer loudly for this athlete, who spent almost a month racing more than 2,000 miles over grueling mountain climbs and down fiercely paced straightaways not to mention his miraculous recovery from cancer.

Unfortunately, I had to go to the Web site of my hometown newspaper in Connecticut to find a front-page picture of Armstrong hoisting his infant son in the air as he celebrated. This was a picture of victory of life over death, of hope over despair and of Armstrong's winning for the second straight year one of the most grueling tests for any athlete.

KATHRYN A. HAYES

Bowie

DNC chairman offers attacks, not solutions

Joe Andrew, national chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), once again has demonstrated the shortsightedness and lack of cohesive solutions that consistently plague the Democratic leadership.

In his rebuttal to Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Andrew achieves only one milestone ("Who can be trusted?" Commentary, July 16). He extends the Clinton legacy of spin by avoiding the answer to a straightforward question about a recent Colorado State Board of Education decision to recommend the posting of our national motto, "In God We Trust."

Instead of taking a stand on the issue and discussing the party position or the stance Vice President Al Gore may take in the matter, Mr. Andrew turns to attack-style politics by spewing his rehearsed partisan vitriol at Mr. Nicholson and the Republicans. He questions Texas Gov. George W. Bush's policy stances and political overtures to formerly underrepresented groups within the Republican Party, namely, Hispanics and blacks. Yet Mr. Bush secured more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in the last Texas gubernatorial election, and whether Mr. Andrew was watching or not, Mr. Bush was received warmly in Baltimore at the recent convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Mr. Andrew attacks Mr. Bush's legitimacy concerning blacks because Mr. Bush does not support affirmative action. Mr. Andrew is on shaky ground making such a broad-based statement about one of Mr. Bush's policy stances. Mr. Andrew then goes on to describe the Democrats' "earth-shattering" proposals for public education, which have been a constant of the Democratic platform but have produced negative results during the Clinton-Gore era. Mr. Andrew tells of the evils of school vouchers and how they would destroy public education. He does not, however, discuss the tremendous success of the voucher programs already in place, nor does he dispute the educational gains of those in the programs.

Mr. Andrew should stop taking the Hispanic and black vote for granted. He should stop playing lackey for the National Education Association and other teachers unions and look at the reality of our public schools. Mr. Andrew should stop avoiding questions and stances by using the Clinton policy of attack politics. The country needs leaders with solutions, not puppets who pander.

LIAM TAGGART FORSYTHE

Bethany Beach, Del.

President's 'gift'

Amazing. President Clinton doesn't remember a 1992 conversation about $1 million but recalls a 26-year-old conversation his wife had with his campaign manager back in Arkansas ("Clinton doesn't recall $1 million pledge from Riady," July 25). What a gift.

DONALD D. DENTON

Mechanicsville, Va.

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