Ward 1 Update
Hi Ward 1,
I know that many are focused on the national news cycle, especially with Election Day less than a week away, but things are still moving on the local level, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes to catch up on some important legislative and community updates!
To develop a more just local economy and safer communities, I introduced the Sidewalk Vending Zones Amendment Act to establish sidewalk vending zones for sidewalk vendors to legally operate, reform the enforcement response, and launch the first designated zone. For many in Ward 1 and across the District, vending is a main source of income and a way to share their culture. This legislation will allow them to continue working, but now as small business owners in full compliance. It also addresses public safety through a racial justice lens. It will exempt vendors of criminal penalties to minimize police interactions. Unlicensed vending is not a public safety issue & our response should not be to send armed police officers to enforce these regulations. I want to thank Vendedores Unidos and Many Languages One Voice for their partnership and hard work in making this legislation possible. Full release here.
In an effort to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race, I have introduced the CROWN Act in the District of Columbia. The legislation will amend the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act of 1977 to explicitly add ‘protective hair styles’ to the Code of the District of Columbia and create a definition for the term to ensure that District residents are more fully protected. Residents should feel safe and empowered to wear their hair in natural or protective styles. Full release here.
Ward 1 won't be the same if we lose our music and performance venues. Emergency legislation can't appropriate funds to keep venues open, so I've been looking for existing programs that can be used for the same purpose. I sent a letter to the Commission on Arts and Humanities to elevate this urgent need. Click here to read the letter and response from the commission.
For months, I have been asking for specific details on how we will safely reopen schools, and I have not gotten adequate answers from our education agencies. On October 23rd, the Committee on Education held a public hearing on returning to in-person instruction in DC Public Schools. The hearing was limited to one government witness, and Councilmembers were only given ten minutes to speak and ask questions. I shared my opening statement online prior to the hearing, so that I could use my ten minutes to ask questions on behalf of parents and teachers. Watch my opening statement here.
The hearing was only two hours, and not all of the concerns that have been raised were addressed. I continue to hear from parents and teachers who are worried about reopening schools on November 9th. I am in communication with Ward 1 principals and school leaders, and I will keep pushing to get answers to questions and more information on protocols that will be in place.
To watch the full education hearing, click here.
Reprogramming Request from Mayor
I recently raised concerns when the Mayor requested a reprogramming of $43 million to cover “First Amendment protests.” The funds being reprogrammed are coming from the Department of Health Care Finance ($28.3 million), the Workforce Investment Fund ($12.7 million), and the Child and Family Services Agency ($2 million). I joined my colleagues in requesting a full explanation for Reprogramming Request 23-141. You can read the full letter here, but here are the key highlights:
Right now, we know that the bulk of the reprogramming funds will be used to repay overtime costs for MPD - $10 million more than the entire approved overtime budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The costs have to be paid or we risk deficiency, but
1. We need to know why the agency was allowed such a massive expenditure.
2. The $28 million found in DHCF should remain for healthcare programming. The Council has been trying to fund the modernization of the Alliance program for years. The program provides healthcare coverage to vulnerable populations; but requires that they recertify 2 times a year (1 time in-person). We need to fully fund the program so that our residents can recertify electronically 1 time a year and have consistent access to preventative care.
3. Reprogramming $2 million out of CFSA when there is a waitlist of 35 families in need of financial assistance from the Grandparent Caregiver Program, an effective tool to prevent youth from entering the foster care system, should not be an option.
Assuming we have to pay, we look forward to also discussing with members of the Mayor’s team how to ensure critical health and human services programs are funded optimally. The City Administrator has notified me that they will be providing a response to our letter.
Upcoming Committee on Human Services Hearings
I will be chairing a Committee on Human Services roundtable to allow for public comment on the Human Services agencies' response to COVID-19. To sign up to testify, email email@example.com and provide your name, telephone number, organization/title (if any), and the agency you’d like to testify about.
Wednesday, November 4th at 12:00p.m.
Department of Disability Services
Office of Disability Rights
Friday, November 6th at 10:00a.m.
Department of Human Services
Interagency Council on Homelessness
Child and Family Services Agency
Comprehensive Plan Ward 1 Open House
Monday, November 16th at 6:30p.m., I will be holding an open house to discuss how Ward 1 can benefit from amendments to the Comprehensive plan and hear feedback from constituents. Click here to register.
In-Person Early Voting
If you did not receive a mail-in ballot by now, the Board of Elections recommends that you make plans to vote in-person. There are currently 32 Vote Centers open for early voting, and you can vote at any of the locations between 8:30a.m. – 7:00p.m. There are three Vote Centers in Ward 1. I highly recommend voting early! Most locations have wait times of less than five minutes.
Ward 1 Locations
Columbia Heights Community Center, 1480 Girard Street NW
Prince Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 1000 U Street NW
Marie Reed Elementary School, 2201 18th Street NW
As of October 26th, the Board of Elections has received 49,981 ballots by mail and 96,211 ballots from drop boxes! You can also still return your mail-in ballot to drop boxes through Election Day, click here for a list of drop box locations.
Leaf collection will begin on November 9th. This year, you won’t see the large groups of employees from Department of Public Works (DPW) collecting leaves. The agency is trying to limit the exposure and spread of the virus, so residents will be required to bag their leaves. DPW will distribute 20 paper bags to each household. Bag distribution will begin on October 30th, and you will be able to track when your bags will be delivered and picked up here: http://leaf.dpw.dc.gov/leafcollection/
My team has been in communication with DPW to learn about the new leaf collection process, so if you have any questions or concerns, please email Oscar Montiel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Allie Bobak at email@example.com
Health Guidance for Halloween and Día de los Muertos
The Department of Health has issued guidance to help keep community members safe during the upcoming Halloween and Día de los Muertos celebrations, including what activities are considered low, medium, or high-risk. I encourage you to take a look at the guidance as you plan for the weekend so we can all avoid high-risk activities. Click here to see the guidance.
Black Restaurant Week
The 3rd Annual DMV Black Restaurant Week is November 8th - 15th. Check out the participating Black-owned DC restaurants here!
Human Rescue Alliance
There have been recent operational changes at the DC Health Animal Care and Control Facility. The Humane Rescue Alliance has shifted most of its services to the 71 Oglethorpe Street NW location, with limited services at the New York Avenue NE location by appointment only. More information here.
We continue to see positive COVID-19 cases reported. Please continue to follow health guidance (social distancing, wearing masks, hand-washing) and encourage family and friends to do the same. DC is still providing free COVID-19 testing. No appointment needed. Click here to find a testing site near you.