Ward 6 Neighborhood Update

Later this week, our city (and our neighborhoods) will play host to hundreds of thousands of visitors. At times, we're the District of Columbia. At other times, we're the Nation's Capital. This week, we'll be both -- and I couldn't be more proud of what I've seen from our neighbors and the values we share for our community.
Last week, I held a hearing on the District's preparations for the inauguration on Friday and the Women's March on Saturday. As Chair of the Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I felt it was important to hear from District leaders about the work our local government is doing in partnership with federal law enforcement and security agencies to ensure safe events throughout the Inauguration, including the march on Saturday the 21st. Our values demand that we are a city that protects every individual's right to participate or protest. I came away from my conversation at the hearing confident that the District is prepared for all of the events and is committed to the idea that everyone participating in this week's activities will have their rights respected and protected. 

We're no stranger to major events here in DC, but we also know an Inauguration places a special spotlight on our community and impacts how we live our lives. To help everyone plan and manage the next few days, I've pulled together information that I think will be helpful.

For the official website for DC's Inauguration Plans, CLICK HERE.
For the official twitter handle for DC's Inauguration Updates, CLICK HERE.

Presidential_Inauguration_2017_Capitol_Hill_Event_Jan_19_20170116_4.jpgAnd now, for the really important stuff:
  • As we near the 20th, more and more security measures will be put in place that impact roads and parking. The Secret Service will begin with parking restrictions on Wednesday the 18th and road closures on Thursday the 19th. For a full list and map of impacted streets, CLICK HERE.
  • The District government, including DC Public Libraries and District of Columbia Public Schools will be closed on the 20th. In addition, DC Public Charter Schools will be closed on the 20th. DCPS will resume classes on Monday, January 23. To check the operating status of your child’s public charter school, please CLICK HERE.
  • DC services like trash collection will continue throughout the Inauguration. Due to the Monday MLK holiday, DPW is on a sliding schedule for collections. Trash and recycling that would normally be collected on Thursday will slide to Friday. Collections normally on Friday will slide to Saturday. For more information on these and other city services, CLICK HERE.
  • For a full listing of transit and transportation updates on how to get around during these events, including pedestrian, bike, taxi, and other modes, please CLICK HERE.
I've also heard from many people with questions about how to protect their rights to protest. While District officials have outlined their commitment to protecting First Amendment rights, I want to make sure you know your rights and are prepared. There are two great resources, and even an app you can load on your phone. First, check out the ACLU guides, downloads, and tips, as well as their #MobileJustice app by CLICKING HERE. Second, the DC Office of Police Complaints will have observers deployed alongside officers, but if necessary, you can file complaints directly through their website by CLICKING HERE.

Whether you're protesting or watching the parade, I want everyone to have a safe experience as the District hosts the 2017 Inauguration. Our values on the morning of the 20th will be the very same as when we wake up on the 21st. I look forward to working with you for an inclusive, respectful, and thriving Ward 6 and District of Columbia.

Surprise School Lunch Visits

school-lunch.jpgLast week, I joined students at several Ward 6 DC Public Schools for lunch to see how our school food program is working. I set out to eat at three different schools on surprise visits -- Van Ness ES, Payne ES, and Eastern HS. Last year, I did the same with stops at Watkins ES, Walker-Jones Education Campus, SWS at Goding ES, and Tyler ES. I've been very involved in oversight of the DCPS school food contract as it changed hands this year. If our kids aren't eating well - healthy, nutritious, tasty meals - then they aren't going to be at their best in the classroom. Taking time out to go eat with students to see (and taste) first-hand how our schools handle meals is important. This is the first year of the new contract with SodexoMagic and I was not impressed. Last year, I took the very unusual step of voting against this contract because I wasn't convinced they had the ability to ensure high quality, nutritious, and tasty meals for our kids. My taste test at three different schools yesterday didn't do much to change my mind. DC Public Schools has already outlined immediate steps they're taking to correct what I found, but I will continue to work on improving food service at our schools and help with oversight of this contract. To read my full report on my surprise visits: CLICK HERE.

Welcoming New Staff to the Ward 6 Team

I'm thrilled to announce three new members of our Council staff and Ward 6 team! Andy Le, a Ward 6 resident, is my new Director of Communications. Prior to joining us, Andy was an Obama appointee and served as Senior Director of Digital Strategy at the U.S. Department of Education. He also led digital engagement at DC Water and DC Public Schools. Kate Mitchell is my new Committee Director for the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. She previously served in the same capacity for Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and is a graduate of Smith College and University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. Chanell Autrey is now my Deputy Committee Director for the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. Also previously with the committee, Chanell grew up in the District and attended Ward 6’s Jefferson Middle School, before graduating from School Without Walls High School, Pennsylvania State University, and The George Washington University Law School. I am incredibly excited to have Andy, Kate, and Chanell on my team. They all bring a wealth of experience, a dedication to public service, and have hit the ground running. They are great additions to my staff and I look forward to the work we’ll do together on behalf of Ward 6 and the District.

Are You Winter Ready?

distrcit_Snow_team_Logo.jpgWe haven't faced tough winter conditions yet, but don't let last year's record-setting snowfall fade too far from your memory. There are several steps you can take now to be ready before a storm hits. Get all the facts and connect to information at Snow.DC.Gov. One of the biggest questions I get about winter readiness is related to Sidewalk Shoveling Exemptions. DC residents and businesses are required to clear those sidewalks. It's a safety issue to make sure everyone can get around their neighborhood following a storm. But senior residents and those with disabilities can get an exemption from the shoveling requirement. Here's how: CLICK HERE.

Getting Rid of Holiday Trees and Greenery?

Don't forget that the District's Department of Public Works will collect holiday trees and greenery through January 27, 2017. Please place these items on the curb or between the sidewalk and curb for collection, and do not put the trees in plastic or cloth bags. All trees collected through January 27 will be chipped and composted, and any trees not collected by January 27 will be picked up as space in the trash trucks allow over the following weeks. Please note, trees will not be collected Friday, January 20, but will resume on Monday, January 23rd.

New Legislative Session Underway; My First Introductions Focus on Good Government and Public Schools

JudiciaryCmte.jpgOn January 10th, the Council kicked off the new session and I introduced several bills focused on good government and public schools. First, I introduced the Voter Address Confidentiality Amendment Act of 2017, to help protect survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking by maintaining the confidentiality of their address with the Board of Elections. This bill is an important step forward for survivors of domestic violence and stalking. No one should have to give up their right to vote in order to stay safe.

Aiming some early efforts on good government reforms, I introduced the Lobbyist Activity Reporting Transparency Amendment Act of 2017 to provide the public with a greater sense of transparency and accountability by requiring lobbyists to report their activities in a more timely fashion and in closer alignment to their lobbying expenditures. I also co-introduced the Government Contractor Pay-to-Play Prevention Amendment Act with Chairman Phil Mendelson to address possible conflicts of interest by banning businesses and individuals with District government contracts from making campaign contributions to elected officials.

Focusing attention on schools-related efforts, I introduced the Community Use of School Facilities Task Force Establishment Act of 2017 to address the community’s desire for greater access to school buildings and fields. I co-introduced the Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017 with Councilmember Grosso to require that all elementary and secondary public and public charter schools have a qualified health professional on site at all times. And working with Councilmember Cheh, I co-introduced the Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention Amendment Act, to ensure safer drinking water at our schools and child development facilities. This package of education-related legislation is really about serving District families and students better. Better access to athletic fields and facilities; better access to medical services; and better, safer drinking water.

As always, thank you for your support. Please let me know if there’s anything I or my staff can do to help you or your neighborhood.

Charles Allen

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