It's officially spring (and Opening Day for the Nationals)! Get ready to see Ward 6 neighborhoods truly shine as flowers and trees bloom once again. And, of course, it means the city undertakes both Alleypalooza and Potholepalooza repairs after a long winter. I'd really love to see the same "-palooza" treatment applied to our sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes. Call it whatever you'd like, but I'm in favor of putting that same energy into improving pedestrian safety with a Crosswalkpalooza! A quick reminder - I'll be holding office hours tomorrow near Eastern Market at Radici.
Hate Speech Has No Place in DC - Last Wednesday, some Ward 6 neighbors woke up to find hateful, Anti-Semitic, and cowardly fliers dropped on their front steps. We reject those words and deeds in our loudest possible voice. These aren't DC values and our community is stronger than this hate. No matter when or where, we must always condemn hate speech and stand in solidarity with our neighbors. We simply have too much in common as brothers and sisters and too much important work to do together to allow the hateful actions of a few to hurt our community.
You Don't Have to be a Wonk to Care about DC's Budget - Last week, the Mayor sent the Council her proposed budget for next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Next, the Council will hold a hearing for each agency to hear from the public and the agency on funding recommendations, then the Council will finalize the budget. If you're interested in rolling up your sleeves, here's where the proposed budget lives. Here's the calendar with every public Budget Oversight Hearing if you want to urge the Council to make adjustments to the proposed budget.
If that process seems overwhelming or you can't commit that much time but you still want to ask for funding for something you care about, join me at my annual Ward 6 Budget Town Hall at Arthur Capper Community Center on Tuesday, April 23. Over the course of an hour and a half, I'll cover what the current budget proposal contains, some of my priorities, and then open up the floor to residents. You don't have to be an expert to let me know about improvements to your block or funding for programs you care about - and your feedback helps me and my team do our job better.
The Council Reprimands Councilmember Evans - Last Tuesday, the Council unanimously voted to reprimand my colleague, Councilmember Jack Evans, for using government resources and the prestige of office for personal gain. It was a clear violation of the Council's code of conduct. Along with the reprimand, the Council removed several agencies from the Committee on Finance and Revenue, which is chaired by Mr. Evans, and all tax-related matters will be moved to other committees. Keep in mind, this reprimand only dealt with the use of government resources and did not weigh in on any matters that are currently under investigation. This is very challenging and disheartening for everyone on the Council. The trust of residents is borrowed by those of us who are fortunate enough to serve as an elected official, and anytime that trust is broken by one of us, it hurts the larger body.
All Publicly-Funded Schools Should be Accountable to Taxpayers - Two weeks ago, I announced a new bill that would extend two critical accountability tools to all publicly-funded schools - the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act. For several years, I've talked about the need have more transparency in how your tax dollars are spent, because that can lead to better accountability and investments. Better data can help us analyze how we spend your money, how it can make a difference for every child's education, and how we can do better. In Ward 6, and across our city, we have both great charter schools and great traditional public schools. This bill is simply about giving parents, teachers, and community members the same tools in all public schools to hold leaders accountable, be informed, and participate in meetings. To me, this is a no-brainer and in case you're curious, is something already in place in 39 states across the country. You can find coverage of the bill in the Washington City Paper and on ABC 7.
Ever Wonder Why Some Parks in Ward 6 Take Forever to Fix? If you've lived in Ward 6 for some time, you're probably familiar with the many National Parks we are lucky to have in our neighborhoods. In fact, there are so many parks that the National Parks Service gave them their own web page. Since these parks are federal property and not locally controlled, it has led to some challenges with maintenance and repairs. Well, good news -- thanks to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a law passed allowing the District to enter into cooperative management agreements with the federal government to do that work - read more in DCist! I know it seems fairly bureaucratic, but this change can make a big difference for Ward 6.
Alert! DPR Expands Summer Camps in Ward 6! - Good news! DPR's Summer Camps have expanded at several Ward 6 locations (Amidon-Bowen ES, Brent ES, Miner ES, Seaton ES, Watkins ES, and Capper Community Center). Registration for these DPR camps opened on Monday, March 25 at noon.
Making Maryland Avenue NE Safer for Everyone - Over the past few years, I have worked hard on getting a project started to remake the stretch of Maryland Avenue from 2nd Street, NE near Stanton Park to 14th Street, NE near H Street into a safer and more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. Finally, this week, we got started. The street redesign recognizes that for decades, Maryland Avenue was most accommodating to commuters and not residents - it's busy for 30-45 minutes twice a day, but we live here 24 hours a day. The new design aims to slow down traffic, make it safer for neighbors and pedestrians, and adds in a bike lane in each direction. WTOP has more information.
Washington Aquaduct Spring Cleaning Begins Today - Just a PSA from DC Water that as part of annual cleaning and maintenance, the water might taste, smell, or look slightly different. Here's what's going on (spoiler: your water is fine).
Moving Ahead on Reducing DC's Maternal Mortality Rate - Recently, I held a public hearing to review the nominees to serve on the District's first Maternal Mortality Review Committee. You may recall this was a priority for me in the last Council period, when I wrote the new law creating this important Committee, as one way for the District to reduce its unacceptable rate of death for mothers during pregnancy, birth, and after - including a stark disparity based on race. I think we have a great group who have stepped up to serve with years of expertise in many disciplines within the maternal health field. The Maternal Mortality Review Committee will study each related death - both the medical causes as well as the context for each death - to evaluate what can help better inform the District's response. More from the Washington City Paper.
Everything I Love About Books From Birth in 2 Minutes - Earlier this year, Books From Birth turned 3 years old. Voice of America did a great story looking at the program that came from my first law as your Councilmember. Since then, more than 35,000 DC children have participated in DC Public Library's Books From Birth Program, including both of my children. For all the families who participate, I hope Books From Birth has had as positive of an effect on your family as it did for the Clarke family!
New Jersey Ave, NW Safety Meeting - Getting the word out to Mt. Vernon Triangle neighbors about a transportation safety meeting tonight, Thursday, March 28, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Northwest One Library (155 L St., NW). This meeting will discuss safety improvements for the stretch of New Jersey Avenue, NW between H St, NW and N Street, NW, as well as an update on reconstructing New York Avenue, NW from First to Fourth Streets. These are two stretches of road I've been working with neighbors on improving, so I'm grateful DDOT is convening this meeting. This is your opportunity to highlight challenges and be sure the solutions are going to work -- no one knows your streets better than you.
Update on #HailNo RFK - It's been a while since you heard any news from me on efforts to ensure the 190-acres at RFK campus are put to use extending and growing our city and not giving the land and taxpayer support to Dan Snyder to build an NFL stadium. One thing all sides agree on, however, is that DC should have control of that land instead of the federal government. More than a generation of DC residents have grown up near RFK where the space has been almost entirely an empty ocean of asphalt while the space sits empty and unused. Once we have control of the land, it'll be up to District residents to strongly support using the space to for more than eight football games a year. Add your name to the petition if you want to stay involved (we're closing in on 4,000 signatures!).
Evening Office Hours in NoMa on April 8 - The schedule through April is up on the website now, including an evening office hours in NoMa on April 8 if Friday mornings don't work with your schedule. I'll be at Radici in Eastern Market tomorrow, looking forward to chatting with neighbors.
Upcoming Events I'll Be Attending:
Eastern Market Office Hours: Friday, March 29, 8-9:30 am
Mt. Vernon Triangle Office Hours: Friday, April 5, 8-9:30 am
NoMa Evening Office Hours: Monday, April 8, 6-730 pm
Southwest Office Hours: Friday, April 12, 8-9:30 am
Ward 6 Career Fair: Wednesday, April 17, 9 am - 1 pm
Hill East Office Hours: Friday, April 19, 8-9:30 am
Ward 6 Budget Town Hall: Tuesday, April 23, 6-7:30 pm