Like most of us, last week left me frustrated and concerned with what I saw taking place around our country. I struggle with how I'll explain the events of last week -- the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the horrific murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas -- to my young daughter. But I realize I'll have to, and most importantly, I must work to prevent it from happening again.
At home, we also had many other issues to work on last week. On Tuesday, I joined parents and neighbors from all over the city to march from Lincoln Park to the US Capitol to call for action on gun violence and to protect DC's gun laws. On Wednesday, I joined an important hearing on DC Public Schools' proposed contract with Sodexo to provide school meals for our students. After a lengthy hearing, I still had a lot of concerns and I'm not yet convinced this is the best way forward. What and how our kids eat are critical questions that deserve good answers.
Ward 6 Day at the National Building Museum's ICEBERGS Exhibit
The National Building Museum invites Ward 6 to its popular ICEBERGS installation with FREE ADMISSION on Tuesday, July 19, 9:00 am until 11:00 am, as part of their second annual Summer Block Party. ICEBERGS invites visitors to explore a fantastical glacial sea designed by landscape architects, visit an undersea bridge, and slide down an ice chute. Japanese kakigori shaved ice will be provided by the restaurant Daikaya. More information about this great FREE event is on my website here. Hope you can join us!
Thanks to everyone who organized, supported, and marched in this year's 15th Annual Barracks Row 4th of July Parade. This is one of my favorite community events -- a true slice of small town America in the big city -- and always a lot of fun. A special thanks to Phil Guire, the parade's coordinator, for all his work to pull things together, and to MPD, Barracks Row Main Street, and the Capitol Hill BID for keeping the route clean and safe.
FY2017 Budget Receives Final Approval From DC Council
Recently, the DC Council gave final approval to the city’s budget for next fiscal year. Without question, this budget is a great investment in many of the things you and I both care about. To fight for a more equitable city that helps make sure everyone can call DC home, there are significant investments in affordable housing, the Homeward DC plan to finally close DC General, improved access to healthcare, and more. In addition, there are significant investments in public safety, WMATA, public transit, local schools, neighborhood parks, and small business supports. While there is always more to do, I’m proud to have worked together with my Council colleagues on a FY17 budget for the District of Columbia that funds important Ward 6 priorities. I wanted to share a few specifics that I thought you might be interested in. This budget will:
- Fund MPD for 300 new recruits, 60 experienced officers, and will civilianize 16 positions, putting more police officers back on the street.
- Add $5.3 million to assist those impacted by violence and crime in the District.
- Add $600,000 annually to DC Public Library to continue growing the successful Books From Birth program. The Council also restored cuts to DCPL’s collections fund, staffing, and maintenance budgets, as well as funding open day collections at newly modernized libraries across the District.
- Provide $4 million to Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan in FY17 for much-needed repairs and facilities improvements.
- Modernize Jefferson Middle School with a budget of $73 million, including an additional $1,000,000 for immediate repairs.
- Invest $86 million to modernize Eliot-Hine Middle School, beginning in FY18.
- Provide an additional $11.6 million to address overcrowding at Maury Elementary.
- Accelerate the modernization planning process at the Southeast Library to coordinate with the renovation of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza.
- Keep the planned $18 million for the Southwest Library modernization on track, with work beginning in FY17.
- Sustain the Office of the State Superintendent for Education’s Environmental Literacy Leadership Cadres, a fund that supports school garden programs at Ludlow-Taylor ES, Maury ES, Peabody ES, SWS @ Goding ES, Seaton ES, Tyler ES, Van Ness ES, and Watkins ES in Ward 6.
- Provide for the immediate implementation of the Access to Emergency Epinephrine in Schools Act, making undesignated EpiPens available for emergency use in every DC public school starting in school year 2016-2017.
- Add 5 new positions in Customer Service, Inspections and Permitting at DCRA to help address many of residents’ concerns and help the agency keep up with the growing demand of housing and commercial inspections.
- Invests $100 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund to increase the supply of affordable housing
- Fund a pilot program to assist low and moderate-income tenants through the process of buying their homes using the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.
Small & Local Business Development
- Fully fund the Made In DC program through the District Department of Small, Local Business Development to support local makers and grow the market for DC-made products.
- Fund a new Eastern Market Main Street program, a community-supported organization that will be accredited following open applications through the Department of Small & Local Business Development to support the retail corridors on 7th Street, SE and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE near Eastern Market.
Transportation & Environment
- Implement the Tree Canopy Protection Act, helping save the District’s oldest and largest “heritage” trees and increasing tree planting on District-owned property.
- Restore cuts to DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration funding to plant and maintain trees across the District.
- Provide $200,000 for the District Department of Energy & Environment to conduct a planning study for an environmental education center on Kingman Island.
- Create a citywide Department of Public Works Composting Pilot Program with weekly compost collection from one site per ward.
Parks & Community
- Sustain programming at Randall Recreation Center in Southwest by adding $250,000 in ongoing operating funds.
- Add $235,000 for programming at Fort Dupont Ice Arena, including the popular Kids On Ice program.
- Provide $25,000 to create an ANC Sign-Language Interpreters Fund pilot program to increase ease of access and funds for ASL interpreters to facilitate participation of Deaf constituents in ANC proceedings.
- Fund 38 new full-time employees at the Department of Parks & Recreation to serve as front-lines customer service representatives to improve the public’s experience at DPR sites.
- Allocate $500,000 to Department of Parks & Rec to build a spray park at Watkins Rec in FY17.
- Invest $500,000 at Lansburgh Park in Southwest for park improvements such as lighting, seating, water fountains, sidewalks, and other infrastructure improvements.
Health & Human Services
- Reallocate $105 million within the FY17 budget to fund the land acquisition and construction of the seven District-owned family shelters proposed in the Homeward DC plan to close the DC General family shelter.
- Restore cuts to the Produce Plus, Healthy Corner Stores, and Joyful Markets programs to increase access to fresh, local food across the District.
- Fund the Healthy Tots Act, providing $1,00,000 in local subsidies to support child development facilities that serve nutritious meals and provide high-quality wellness programming.
- Extend Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits through FY17 for thousands of District families facing cut-offs due to federal time limits.
The budget also gives permanent status to an existing temporary bill, the Classroom Animals for Educational Purposes Act, which allows schools to have animals in the classroom for educational and instructional purposes. I've heard from many parents and teachers over the years we've been working on this bill and know that animals are a valued part of many classrooms, helping children learn academic lessons as well as responsibility, compassion, respect, and connection with the natural world.
My Ballot Access Modernization Act was also passed as part of this budget package. The Board of Elections will now modernize the ballot access signature process and allow for the collection of electronic signatures for candidate nominations, referenda, ballot initiatives, and recalls (in addition to maintaining the traditional paper process). They will develop a mobile app for use beginning with the November 2018 general elections, helping streamline the collection of signatures while also improving the accuracy of the process.
Wednesday, July 13, 10am: DC Council hearing on DCRA Oversight
Thursday, July 14, 6:30pm: Future of Buzzard Point Park Planning Meeting
Friday, July 15, 8am-9:30am: Ward 6 Community Office Hours in Hill East (Pretzel Bakery)
Tuesday, July 19, 9am-11am: Ward 6 Day at the National Building Museum ICEBERGS Exhibit
Thursday, August 11, 10am-3pm: Congresswoman Norton's DC Job Fair
As always, thank you for your support and please let me know if there’s anything I or my staff can do to help you or your neighborhood.