>From the Washington Post:
EEOC Is Moving On; Fast Food and a Dicey Neighborhood Await
By Al Kamen
Friday, April 27, 2007; Page A21
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in an uproar over a decision by Chair Naomi C. Earp to move its 500-employee headquarters from fine offices in downtown to a "developing" -- but not quite arrived -- area in desolate Northeast near the old Woodie's warehouse on New York Avenue.
At a hostile meeting yesterday to quell a growing rebellion, Earp told several hundred employees -- and others viewing on closed-circuit television -- that "the determining factor is price" in her decision and that employees "should not overreact to concerns about safety."
Some at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission fail to see the upside of moving from downtown Washington to Northeast. The new headquarters' neighbors will include "one of the largest open-air drug markets in the region." (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
The agency has been at 18th and L streets NW since then-Chairman Clarence Thomas blocked Reagan administration efforts in 1989 to ship it to the suburbs. The downtown location also houses the Washington field office, which is where people go to file discrimination complaints.
But the current landlord didn't renew the lease, and Earp said she did not want to "pick a fight with" the General Services Administration over the location. So the employees -- mostly civil rights lawyers -- are out by July 2008.
Some employees surveyed the new neighborhood. They found, according to an e-mail Monday about their field trip, that across from the proposed headquarters there's a seven-acre empty lot with "lots of garbage, empty wine and liquor bottles, broken glass, and condoms ringing the perimeter of the (chain link) fence." The nearest business is a "dilapidated liquor store two blocks away."
There are also warehouses in the area and self-storage buildings and, across from the employee parking lot, another big vacant lot. There are a few small dilapidated buildings and a building under construction, the surveyors reported.
For lunch, instead of Luigi's, the Palm or several excellent Asian bistros near the current headquarters, there'll be only a McDonald's 3 1/2 blocks away and a Wendy's a block beyond that. For a change of pace, there's the upscale Chez Roi, also known as Roy Rogers, just four blocks away.
Some employees are disabled, opponents of the move note, and on dark winter evenings they would be especially vulnerable to criminals. The McDonald's parking lot, next door to the city's largest methadone clinic, was named in 2002 "as being one of the largest open-air drug markets in the region." "It is unclear whether this has improved," the employees said.
Still, the area is clearly changing. And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives headquarters is nearby, and those employees don't seem to be worried about crime.
"Give me a handgun and a bulletproof vest and an ATF windbreaker, and I wouldn't worry either," an unhappy EEOC official told us.