Speakers Table

Resort to yoga

November 28, 2011

I love my morning ritual. To wake up and be able to enjoy the stillness that comes along with early morning rising is one of my favorites things in life. As I sit here with a hot cup of French Press I am realizing just how much I love the mundane of the everyday.

As humans we are creatures of habit.  And with life being as impermanent as it is, we rely on the comfort our daily routine offers.

But only so much is possible in this routine state because we can only grow as much as our space allows.  And when we reach our limit, change becomes essential in order to expand the experience of self.

Down Dog’s Yoga retreat at the Haramara Resort is fast approaching, and I can still remember how I felt the first time I experienced life there. It was incredible.

Admittedly, the mind is fickle, and it can be easy for us to lose details along the way. But what we never forget are the feelings that we felt and the people that we felt them with.

What I hold onto the most are the memories of how the group grew together in this shared experience; each one of us discovering a piece of ourselves that we never knew existed. 

So I invite you to join me, and the Down Dog team in March to make our own wonderful memories together.

So what if you’ve never surfed before? Who cares?

Whether it be surfing, cooking class, or just enjoying the beauty of the ever-expansive ocean, I dare you to break your routine and step into what newness a week away from the norm can offer. I dare you to discover a new side to you.

Grab your passports, suntan lotion, and your yoga mats, and meet me down at the Haramara Resort ( haramararetreat.com) in Mexico for a week of yoga, surf, adventure, good food, and great company as you explore the depths of you.

Sometimes a simple change in scenery is exactly what we need to appreciate life for what it is.

See you there!

Patty Ivey


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Take this ethics bill...and improve it

November 27, 2011

After a reading the ethics bill "Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011" introduced by Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, I have many questions.

One of the biggest problems with the bill concerns why councilmembers would still be allowed to collect money for what are euphemistically called Constituent Service Funds but in reality are personal slush funds. The bill cuts these back from $80,000 to $40,000, but we should ask why are they allowed at all? Among other problems, these funds give councilmembers an unfair advantage over any challenger as they can literally buy votes from constituents with donations to individuals from these funds.

I would question why the Council isn’t forced to go on the record regarding a nomination to this Board? Section 202 (2) states, “Within 45 calendar days of the effective date of this act a nomination shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the nomination by resolution within this 30-day review period, the nomination shall be deemed disapproved.”

Is it a 30 or 45 day review period and why should they not have to vote to disapprove a nomination and go on record doing so? Then it states, The Mayor shall, from time to time, designate the Chairman of the Board. 

Either he always designates the Chair or not.

How large does the staff of this new board need to be to accomplish their directives? Someone needs to think about this and look at comparable organizations around the nation.

Other concerns with this bill are the low fines and lack of specificity for penalties for infractions of the rules. At one point the bill states that aggregate fines for certain infractions can’t exceed $5,000.  Who can pay these fines? Are they just another charge to a councilmember’s campaign committee?  There appears to be no set fines for not abiding by the new regulations for transition committees, inaugural committees etc. If the fines aren’t large enough, they will have very little meaning.

There is a saying “Half a loaf is better than none.”  In this case I don’t think that’s true.  If we allow the Council to pass an ethics bill with only half a loaf and then pat itself on the back for a job well done, we are giving them a pass. We need to hold their feet to the fire and demand that any ethics bill have real teeth and is strong enough to curb the sleazy practices that some councilmembers are guilty of.  In the long run, every elected official in the District is tainted.

The people of the District deserve an open an honest government. While I personally believe that we aren’t necessarily any better or worse than governments around the nation, we now have the opportunity to set an example on how to run a clean, honest, open government.

Let’s pass a bill that others can emulate for its comprehensiveness, not for its loopholes.  

By Peter D. Rosenstein

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Georgetown businesses prepare for vote

November 13, 2011

This Wednesday evening, the Board of the Georgetown Business Association (GBA) will meet to elect its officers for the coming year. Is this important to Georgetown businesses and residents? As I consider my own role, in the organization, a few thoughts draw my focus:

During first several meetings I attended as a new GBA board member in 2007, many members were debating whether or not GBA had outlived its usefulness in Georgetown. Membership had fallen dramatically. Board meetings seemed more like a chore than a privilege or responsibility. GBA events often attracted fewer than 15 people. It was clear to all of us that GBA was at a crossroads, and it either had to regroup and reconsider its mission and activities, or let other organizations take its place.

But many board members—I was one of them—were not ready to give up on GBA, as they still believed we could successfully achieve our mission of connecting Georgetown businesses with clients and advocating on behalf of the needs of the Georgetown business community. Subsequently, through the determination and the hard work of the GBA board, dedicated members of the Georgetown community, and elected officers, GBA successfully re-launched and rebranded itself into a thriving and vibrant business organization. Gone are the days when we had small turnouts for our networking events. Now, our monthly events have to be hosted in venues that can hold 100-150 people.

GBA membership has finally returned to the levels from before 2008, and in this year alone, 40 new members have joined.  GBA has also joined the social media revolution on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Additionally, our partnerships with local media outlets in Georgetown have given GBA more visibility, and GBA has become more respected on a city-wide level, having hosted events for Mayor Vincent Gray, Councilmember Vincent Orange (At-large) and Council Chairman Kwame Brown.

GBA also hosts quarterly events to foster conversations and collaboration between Georgetown organizations, such as CAG, the BID, Georgetown University, and the ANC. GBA has also made an arrangement with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce so that GBA members can become members the local Chamber for a nominal fee. Moreover, we are working with the Small Business Development Corporation, which has been charged by the government to help with loans to small businesses in the community.

We have also brought back some former GBA favorites, such as the GBA Annual Senior Advisory Luncheons, which include former GBA board members and recognize the contributions of some of the longest-standing businesses in the Georgetown community.

None of this could have been accomplished without the dedication and hard work of every single GBA board member who has stepped up this year whether as chair of or participant in a committee. We have all worked hard to make GBA a vibrant business organization that offers real value to its membership. I would be remiss if I did not single out Joe Giannino, outgoing GBA President who has demonstrated great leadership skills in moving the organization forward and creating an organization in which everyone plays a role.

Building on my participation as a board member, as Vice President of GBA for the past two years, I have been encouraged by my colleagues to consider running for GBA President. As I reflect on how much GBA has accomplished in the last few years and how proud I am of what we have done, I would be honored to continue my service with such a great organization.

It is the leadership of Joe Giannino and others that I hope to emulate and build upon if I become GBA President.

In 2012, legislation will be the number one-priority for the GBA because of the need to reestablish a strong lobbying organization for local interests. We will also continue collaborating with other Georgetown groups—indeed such cooperation is currently underway—to develop ideas about how to make Georgetown the most competitive shopping destination in Washington, D.C. while also respecting the needs of local residents.

Additionally, we will continue to build on the momentum already achieved by GBA in reaching out to new members, supporting the varied needs of our current members, and developing a stronger social media presence online. We also plan to continue streamlining GBA operations to ensure that processes are more efficient for our members. For example, next year we hope to implement an automated membership management system that will make it easier for members to pay their dues online. Finally, because networking is one of the most important activities for GBA members, we will continue to host a variety of our most popular activities, including new “members only” events.

I am proud to have been a part of such exciting developments with GBA, and I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings. Thank you for your ongoing leadership and participation in this important endeavor for our community and our nation's capital.

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