Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Friends of McMillan Park: "District pays developer lawyers to oppose residents DC Court of Appeals to hear McMillan appeal: What’s Holland & Knight afraid of?"

Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2015 15:04:53 +0000
Subject: PRESS RELEASE: District Pays Developer Lawyers to Oppose Residents DC Court of Appeals to Hear McMillan Appeal: What’s Holland & Knight Afraid of?

Friends of McMillan Park

FOR RELEASE: August 5, 2015
CONTACT: Erin Fairbanks, erinwhite@yahoo.com240-506-6777, @czarinamaude

District Pays Developer Lawyers to Oppose Residents
DC Court of Appeals to Hear McMillan Appeal: What’s Holland & Knight Afraid of?

District taxpayers are apparently paying the city’s premier developer law firm to oppose a group of four District residents--the McMillan Four--from participating in the appeal of the DC Zoning Commission’s approval of the development of McMillan Park.*  

The firm, Holland & Knight, which has been paid more than a half million dollars by the District last year alone, is asking the DC Court of Appeals, the District’s highest court to not allow the McMillan Four-- Andrea E. Rosen, Deborah Hanrahan, Keshini Ladduwahetty, Camille Bourguignon--to join the case because, Holland & Knight claims, their filing was untimely.

Holland & Knight represents Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), which is a LLC that includes the Trammel Crow Company, “one of the nation’s leading developers and investors in commercial real estate,” plus a number of local entities and the District government.  Overall, according to The New York Times, the city is paying “$78 million in predevelopment costs, including fees to lawyers” to turn McMillan into a mixed-use complex with over a million square feet of medical office buildings.
The McMillan Four, proceeding without a lawyer (i.e. pro se), calculated the deadline to file their appeal from the date the zoning decision was published in the DC Register according to DC Zoning Commission rules.

Holland & Knight, (which gave 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, the John A. Wilson Building, as its business address in their McMillan Subdivision Application**) contends that a ruling in a prior appeals case means that they missed the filing deadline. However, as the Four point out in their brief, in that case the Court “sought to expand judicial inclusivity,” not restrict it.

Holland & Knight’s argument on behalf of VMP seems to seek the same ends as VMP’s previous documented partnership with Fontaine & Co, a Baltimore public relations firm, and VMP partner.  Fontaine was hired to “maximize local support/effort while effectively discrediting opposition,” and to “… provide continuous political cover to local elected officials.”***

When the Fontaine scheme was revealed via FOIA-obtained documents, it was condemned by several Councilmembers.  “It really doesn’t look good to have a PR firm…discredit the community,” said Chairman Phil Mendelson while at-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman called the actions “very questionable.”  Even Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, a VMP supporter, said the Fontaine campaign raised “deep concerns with me.”  VMP was forced to disown its partner.

“Once again, it appears that District taxpayers are footing the bill for VMP to undermine us, the residents, first with Fontaine, now through high-priced lawyers, Holland & Knight,” said Debby Hanrahan, a Ward 2 resident and supporter of keeping McMillan a park.

“This is an all-too-typical example of the unholy collusion between this city government and favored developers to silence the voices of citizens. Our elected officials should tell VMP/Holland & Knight to back off, and use District lawyers if they truly believe in this terrible deal.  What are they afraid of?"

Holland and Knight continues to bill the City hundreds of thousands of dollars, albeit circuitously through the front-group VMP LLC, to pay for services fighting District residents on all legal fronts.
VMP has also used City dollars to purchase experts, consultant reports, yard signs, and a variety of other technical and lobbying services to support their proposed project and to oppose on-the-ground facts and public outcry to the current McMillan deal.****   

Both the Mayor's Agent and DC Court of Appeals should be issuing decisions about McMillan soon.

**See page 10 of McMillan Four’s Response
***See page 19 of McMillan Four’s Response
****See page 14 of McMillan Four’s Response


  1. I think FOM and the four are terrorists! They had harassed many who support this development in an attempt to ouch thief white rich gentrified agenda! They don't care about homeless jobless they care about only themselves and their selfish wants instead of the needs of the true DC residents

  2. I'm glad you're not engaging in hyperbole..... I'm sure many many people have hidden economic interests at heart in this matter (don't you own some property around the new McMillan Commiss?)..... anyway there are valid points on both sides. I personally am not excited about a business park taking this valuable space, but whatever... i'm tired of fighting what seems like an inside job between big business and little gov't.

  3. Commish, I know your not getting checks from Fontaine or EYA, though you are on their NOM, Neighbors of McMillan list, to be a local contact in their "astroturf" fake grass roots PR campaign, "neutralizing opposition". Neutralizing your neighbors and friends, which is UGLY, and everyone is disgusted by it. DC govt. paying for such unethical stuff and Trammel Crow VP, turned Deputy Mayor, Jeff Miller committing perjury to cover it up, in testimony to Bowser Herself! YUK!
    I know you are sincere, that's the scary part. I wish you were being paid off, it would be much more comfortable all around.
    You support jobs, right, like the 3000 jobs at "McMillan" will be door men, clerks, and receptionists, all who contribute to the 20,000 additional auto trips on N. Cap and Michigan daily, over the existing 30,000,,fine, great jobs and mass gridlock, and polltion!

    So, Commish, consider this, because parks are development everywhere but DC, where parks are fenced off since 1941, if they are not in upper income white sections. Why? Maybe McMillan was fenced off because it was integrated and was a bad example in a city of segregated parks. Commish, you know everything, why was it kept fenced off from 1945 to 1987 when offered for free to DC. But the stupid corrupt Dc govt started it's "theft of enjoyment" from the African-American sections, and it's horrendous wasteful "stewardship" began. You know, the Dc govt, could care less about green space east of 16th St, that is why there is so little green space! And it was the local discriminatory practice back then, and now too.
    In adaptive re-use of he 20 acres "McMillan Underground", numerous commercial and community activities will create careers. McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture, along with the global movement for urban agriculture will train people in real careers producing millions of pounds of fresh vegetables, tilapia, and provide food security for our city, while California's water crisis destroys the farm resources we depend on. The community will own the park, own the "urban agriculture", run the Glen Echo type arts/education campus, own the Wolf Trap DC concert stage, OWN it, like we already OWN IT!
    Our young people and under-employed will restore the park, training to be masons, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and then serve the community in a City Conservation Corp.
    Do you consider those trades good , stable jobs with lucrative pay, or do want more doormen at a private condo development. Commish you are making a mockery of historic preservation and the memory of Sen. James McMillan, you choose Commissh.
    Support the McMillan Four, Smite The Pharaoh !
    I know you are a visionary thinker Commish, and understand that the "greenest" building is the one already built, like all the other cities in the world that save historic sites and do marvelous things.
    You Commish, are so environmentally conscious, of course you know the clean water security of DC depends on saving the sand filtration cells, the most natural fresh water system as a back up to Dale Carlia Reservoir. In Spring Valley right next to the city water supply, WW1 American University nerve gas dumps, leaking into the ground water, shouldn't be ignored. I know you, like any sensible resident, want an existing park restored to serve their children and grand children, a real park like in the white sections of town. I know you think it is offensive for one of the most corrupt governments, a national disgrace, that has had so man investigations, felony convictions, and electoral fraud, to now be abusing corporate welfare for their Real Estate investor OVERLORDS, when they really need to clean house. Just ask "test my resolve" Federal Prosecutor Ronald Machen. Oh, right Commish, Ron Machen abandoned his tough 5 year "investigation" of Vincent Gray(of McMillan Development fame) and went back o work for his big hot, juicy corporate law firm,, bye bye!