The Council has officially entered its summer legislative recess after a very busy final few weeks. Below I've covered some important legislative updates. My office remains open through the legislative recess and we will still be working on improving issues around Ward 6 - please reach out with any ongoing challenges and we'll be happy to help. Over the summer, I hope you and your family can take time to enjoy our parks, pools, and the many neighborhood activities that bring us together as a community (including Ward 6 Week events, coming up August 6-11 -- details below).
Ward 6 shines while hosting 2018 MLB All-Star Game: For five incredibly fun days, Ward 6 played host to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park. I want to congratulate Capitol Riverfront BID, Southwest BID, the Wharf, and many other organizations for making the most of the opportunity to showcase our neighborhood. On Friday, July 12, I helped cut the ribbon on a brand new mobile dental van that will serve communities in Wards 6, 7, and 8 with free dental care for kids. The van was donated by MLB and the Nationals as part of their All-Star game legacy program and will be operated by Children's National Medical Center. The van has four dental suites inside to work on patients -- dental health is an often overlooked health need for young people.
Ward 6 Week 2018 is coming August 6-11: Last year, Ward 6 Week was the biggest it has ever been! We went kayaking and boating, we watched movies under the stars, did some biking, visited the National Building Museum, and many more fun activities. We've been busy planning another fun week to bring neighbors together from all parts of Ward 6 - another bike ride, perhaps coffee by the Anacostia River, and a walking tour to remember the history of the riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Shaw 50 years later. I'll send out the full schedule for RSVPs and sign-ups when it's been finalized... so stay tuned! If you are in town that week, I'd love to have you join me throughout the week.
A Note on Initiative 77: Two weeks ago, a majority of my colleagues introduced a bill to repeal Initiative 77, the ballot initiative that would end the tipped minimum wage in the District. While I personally didn't support the initiative at the ballot box, I know a majority of Ward 6 did vote in support of the measure and I don't take that lightly. That's why you did not see me add my name to the bill that was introduced. Just to be clear, a bill was only introduced -- there was no Council vote. And there won't be any legislative action over the summer recess until Council's back in session September 15. While I have a lot of reservations about the initiative's wording and its placement on the primary ballot rather than a general election, I know many of the voters I spoke with carefully considered their vote. I do not take the results lightly. I voted against the initiative because I heard from hundreds of tipped workers who were strongly opposed. And I am a strong supporter of raising DC's minimum wage to $15, I have worked to strengthen DC's wage theft laws, and funded full-time attorneys in the Office of the Attorney General to ensure the city is prosecuting wage theft aggressively.
Were you confused and concerned over DC Water's Boil Water advisory? From Thursday, July 11, through the weekend, DC Water issued a boil water advisory for a large part of the city, including Shaw and parts of Mt. Vernon Triangle after a valve malfunctioned, causing water pressure to drop and create opportunity for contaminants to enter the system. I heard from a lot of concerned parents and neighbors with medical sensitivities who had already had a glass of water or brushed their teeth before hearing about the advisory. I had the same concerns. I've been in contact with DC Water and DC's Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA). If you want to be sure you receive notifications in the future, I strongly recommend signing up for their DC Alerts system -- there was a notice pushed out to affected areas, but only those who had opted-in. I spoke with the Washington Post about my concerns and how the city can improve.
Public Oversight Roundtable on Policing: Two weeks ago, I held an all-day public oversight roundtable to discuss policing and public safety, with a special focus on policing tactics and experiences for residents in Wards 7 and 8. Given a number of recent negative interactions between police and the community, including the stop and frisk incident at Nook's Barbershop in Ward 7 that was recorded and shared widely, I wanted to have a conversation to hear from both Chief Newsham and the community. That's why I held a portion of the hearing at the Wilson Building in the morning and then reconvened for the evening at Deanwood Recreation Center without the presence of MPD, in order to make sure all residents felt comfortable sharing their experiences and speaking candidly. While I have always had positive interactions with our MPD officers, I realize that in my role as Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I represent the experiences of every resident -- good and bad. If we aren't having honest conversations about the balance between public safety and individual rights, we aren't ensuring the District is a safe and just city for all residents. It was a day with a lot of tough conversations and important policy ideas. And I know many residents who don't live in Wards 7 or 8 have similar experiences and perspectives on public safety -- I expect to have more conversations in other parts of the city, including Ward 6.
Banning Non-Disclosure Agreements around sexual misconduct: I introduced a bill that would prevent the use of non-disclosure agreements from hiding sexual misconduct. Building on decades of work by innumerable women, the #MeToo movement has heightened public attention to the prevalence of sexual misconduct. This bill would help ensure we aren't silencing those voices - read more on my Facebook page.
DC has Automatic Voter Registration: Just a quick note that as of June 26, the District's DMV has fully implemented automatic voter registration, a bill I authored in 2015. That means applicants for an ID or driver's license will be automatically opted-in as a registered voter and will need to choose to opt-out. At a time when many states are creating new barriers to voter participation, I'm proud the District is removing them.
Audi Field is here -- DC United has a new home in Ward 6: I had the opportunity to help cut the ribbon to officially open Audi Field in Southwest ahead of DC United's home opener (which was a big win for the team). The new facility is beautiful -- a complete transformation of the site's former use as a scrapyard. The opening was a success on the field, but we're following up with the ANC and neighborhood leaders about how parking, traffic, communications, and other aspects worked (or didn't work) with nearby neighbors of the stadium. DC United has partnered with our local Southwest community and schools for several years -- a few months ago, they held a job fair exclusively to hire residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium, and DC Scores, their youth soccer partner, has ongoing programs at many area schools.
Watkins Spray Park: A quick note that I'm beyond frustrated with the ongoing issues with Watkins Spray Park -- I've been in contact nearly every day with DPR to get it fixed and ask them better communicate residents when the park isn't working. Thanks to everyone who has been reaching out to my office about this -- we are on it, but always welcome your information and feedback.
Contacting my office during summer recess: As I mentioned earlier, the Council officially goes on summer recess. Don't worry, my office will still be open Monday-Friday as usual (I admit I'm going to take a little time off with my family during part of the break). Recess just means a pause from the legislative process, but you can still reach me and my team with any neighborhood or city concerns here: http://www.charlesallenward6.com/constituent-services | Office Number: (202) 724-8072
Upcoming Events I'll Be Attending:
Ward 6 Week: Monday, August 6 - Saturday, August 11
Upcoming Community Events:
Older Adult Pedestrian Safety Conversation: Weds, July 25, 10 am - 11:30 am | River Park Mutual Homes, 1301 Delaware St., SW