Last Thursday we celebrated the 10thAnnual Ward 6 Brickie Awards at the new Apollo DC building on H Street. It was a great way to kick off the holiday season and celebrate the people, places, and organizations that make the Ward 6 community great. We received hundreds of nominations -- thanks to everyone who sent in a suggestion. This year's Brickie Award winners included Nicky Cymrot (2016 Neighbor Award), Shaw Main Streets (2016 Community Organization Award), The Pretzel Bakery (2016 Business Award), Paul "South" Taylor, Department of Parks & Recreation (2016 Public Service Award), and The Hill Rag (2016 Civic Pride Award). Thanks to all our wonderful sponsors for making this event possible and congratulations to this year's recipients. We shared photos from this year's event here.
The recent Washington Post series on repeat violent offenders in the District is an important one, and I hope everyone has been reading it. In many of the cases cited, I've worked with the residents and victims involved in the aftermath of these crimes. The stories and events they've reported on are horrendous and infuriating. The pain that these victims have suffered is unimaginable.
Over the past year, I've spent a great deal of time working on public safety issues, but clearly our work isn't done. I know there are a variety of perspectives on the Youth Rehabilitation Act (YRA), the law discussed in the Post series. I believe we shouldn’t be afraid to re-examine our laws to understand what’s working, what isn't, and what needs to change.
This evening, Ward 6 DC Councilmember Charles Allen will host the 10th Annual Ward 6 Brickie Awards and community celebration. The awards are an annual celebration of the people, places, and organizations that make the Ward 6 community great. Begun nine years ago by then-Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells as the Livable Walkable Awards with engraved bricks as a special honor, the event was nicknamed “The Brickies” by the local newspaper Hill Rag.
I'm impressed! We've worked hard to make early voting as accessible as possible before the big day tomorrow and DC responded in a big way. More than 101,000 people have already cast their ballots during the two weeks of early voting! That's nearly 40,000 more early voters than in the 2012 Presidential election. Ward 6 has cast more than 13,000 ballots already, a more than 50% increase in early voting from 2012. Did you vote early? Let me know what your experience was like!
As the DC Council’s current two-year legislative session winds to a close next month, many important bills advanced toward final approval at today’s Legislative Meeting.
It's been a busy few weeks here at the Council. As the Council's session nears its end in December, the pace picks up at an even faster clip! Just a sampling, but in the last week or so, I've testified at a hearing with Congresswoman Norton on behalf of several neighborhoods across Ward 6 about the federal Bureau of Prisons' consideration of new halfway houses. I've met with the Southwest Waterfront Chapter of the AARP to talk about aging-in-place and issues facing our senior neighbors. As a guest of Navy Yard Washington, I joined the men and women of our US Navy to get a taste of Fleet Week in Baltimore (and talked to several people about how we could bring some similar events to the growing waterfront in the District). We held hearings on school modernization and several broken promises to school communities. The Council gave initial approval to my legislation to create Automatic Voter Registration for DC residents (you can read more in the Washington Post). And of course, I got to take a sneak peek at the new REI flagship store opening in NoMa!
Today the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary voted unanimously to move forward Councilmember Charles Allen’s Automatic Voter Registration Amendment Act, a bill to remove barriers to voter registration by automatically registering residents to vote when they fill out an application for any identification at the DMV.
Today DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced his intention to reorganize the Council committees to create a new subcommittee on small business to be chaired by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. The subcommittee will have responsibility for several issues impacting small and local businesses and entrepreneurs across the District of Columbia. The agencies under the subcommittee's purview will include: Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), Public Service Commission (PSC), and Office of People’s Counsel (OPC).
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.
Next Monday is the first day of summer, but you could have fooled me. It's been a busy past few weeks at the Council. Last weekend we celebrated Pride in DC, and like you, I was outraged at the horror and hate that unfolded in Orlando, Florida. I was proud to see leaders like Senator Chris Murphy lead a national call to action on gun violence, but I was frustrated that we don't have our own Senators who could have joined the effort. This week, we've seen big election news for the District and I'm proud that Ward 6 turned out to vote - nearly double the turnout from four years ago! Also this week, DC Public Schools wrapped up the school year and most charter schools have ended the academic year as well. But as summer officially begins for our students, don't forget that the DC Public Library Summer Reading program is already underway. You can sign up now online. And, of course, to all the fellow Dads out there - Happy Father's Day this weekend!