I hope you're having a restful and fun second half of summer! If you're like me and also mourning the Nats trade of Juan Soto and Josh Bell earlier this week, fill up on some positive local baseball news: our Capitol Hill Little Leaguers won the 10U DC State Little League title and are headed to Rhode Island to play against other state champs on the East Coast! I was excited to visit with the kids and wish them luck earlier this week.
Although the Council remains on legislative recess, there's still a lot going on. Most importantly, don't miss next week's Ward 6 Week - it's a fun week of free activities throughout the Ward (photo to the right from the last Ward 6 Week we held pre-pandemic). More below on that. Now, let's jump into the updates.
Quick Links: Public Safety | Monkeypox | Ward 6 Week | Water Bill Relief | Heat Help |Union Station | Back-to-School Vaccines | Backpack Giveaways | Payne Elementary | Farmshare | Bikeshare for All | IT Jobs | Zero Waste | ANC | DCPL Summer Reading | Saving a Field
As usual, I want to begin by diving into public safety challenges, which remain a top priority for me. On Monday evening, right on the border of Ward 6 and 7 in Rosedale, we experienced a mass shooting of six people, with one fatality. This neighborhood has endured multiple violent incidents in the past few months, and my team has engaged in two different meetings in the last two months with MPD, the Attorney General, the building owners, and neighbors to strategize. This latest incident is completely unacceptable and tragic.
A few updates on what's happening now. I've met and talked with MPD leadership, ATF agents, OAG representatives, our ANC Commissioners, and spoken again with the building owners. First, MPD had a significant physical presence in the neighborhood at the time of the shooting because of the ongoing personal disputes. At the time of the shooting there were 3 units within two blocks and they were on scene in less than 60 seconds. Those patrols will continue. I've also spoken with the MPD District Commander and neighbors can expect to see an MPD security camera tower installed, if it hasn't been already. MPD recovered multiple weapons and other evidence in the aftermath that should help in the investigation. The Office of the Attorney General has been involved in this site, and in particular with pushing Horning Brothers (the owner and property manager for the apartments where a lot of this activity has been happening) to be much more involved in owning responsibility for public safety on their private property -- including bringing their private security team on premises more and ensuring their security cameras are functioning. I've reached out to the DDOT director about adding speed humps to the alley that has been used for quicker getaways and higher speeds of driving in general - a change I know local officers would welcome as well as neighbors. We need to see a "whole of government" approach happen with much greater urgency. I'll keep you posted on updates in the investigation.
Pulling back, the work of preventing violence often takes place out of sight for most residents. I wanted to share two recent articles highlighting the people behind the scenes working both to prevent shootings in the first place, and to work with those who have done harm to rejoin society. First, DCist profiled DC's Peace Academy, which helps prepare people for a career in violence interruption. I've written many times about the important role of violence interrupters in understanding and heading off disputes that could lead to violence. The role of the Peace Academy is to begin to professionalize this work and turn it into a career path for those who are called to it. Second, the Washington Post profiled LEAD Up!, a very effective program working within DC Jail with incarcerated residents that has a strong track record for program participants to be successful when they return home rather than reoffending. Their piece described a ideas fair held this week inside the Jail where residents offered solutions to reduce gun violence on the outside. LEAD Up! and its counterpart for released residents, LEAD Out!, were going to run out of funding next month, but I made sure both programs have funding indefinitely through the upcoming fiscal year's budget. These are both important parts of the effort to fully fund community safety efforts. As I've said many times, making permanent, sustained reductions in violence takes a "both / and" approach that requires focus and a new approach to public safety that includes rehabilitation. Here's a specific and thorough plan that puts that approach into action. I support it and want to see District leadership embrace it.
Other Ward 6-Specific Public Safety Updates:
- Arrest Made in Hill Dry Cleaner Robberies: You may recall earlier this year Capitol Hill Cleaning Emporium near Lincoln Park was robbed. It was a brazen day-time armed robbery that alarmed many of us, and of course was deeply traumatic to the owners. I wanted to share that an arrest has been made in the case, with multiple charges being made. The individual suspected of this crime is currently in custody and being held. Law enforcement was able to partner with regional efforts and forensics to use DNA testing on a mask he dropped during the robbery, which speaks to the important role forensic labs play in investigations (and why I introduced legislation to overhaul the District's lab that lost it's accreditation under it's previous director). I spoke with many neighbors (and loyal customers) after this robbery and I know the arrest and charges are something many will want to know about.
- Arrest Made in Burglary on 700 Block of 15th St., NE
- Two Men Found Guilty of 2017 Killing at Potomac Gardens
I've mentioned this previously, but now that DC has the highest per capita rate of cases of monkeypox in the country, with almost 250 confirmed, stronger precautions and vaccination efforts are needed. DC Health has shifted its strategy to prioritize getting first doses of the vaccine out to more people, over reserving shots for second doses. Eligible District residents have two options: you can now pre-register for monkeypox vaccines through DC Health or walk up on Fridays (starting today) to one of three DC Health monkeypox vaccination clinics. I will be following DC Health's recommendations closely to share as they evolve. Make no mistake, this virus can affect anyone. DC Health's approach currently is to focus on communities where we are seeing the outbreaks and that are particularly vulnerable. But all residents should use caution. Residents who pre-register will be notified when appointments become available, and then have 48 hours to claim their appointment. More information at the link above about how to do just that.
We're in the dog days of August. It's a little slower. So, if you're in town next week, join us for some fun and off-the-beaten path activities in the Ward. All of the events are free (though you can purchase food or drink when events are at businesses). Notably, there are 200 free tickets to check out Artechouse's summer exhibit, Ase: Afro Frequencies (here's how to get tickets). Other events include a splash park picnic, trivia night with me, live music and more live music, and volunteering at the Hopkins garden that feeds hundreds of neighbors. This is always a fun week and a good way to check out the neighborhood and catch up with me and my team. Take a look at the jam-packed week of Ward 6's best summer activities and RSVP for any and all events. There's something for everyone!
If you're struggling to pay your water bill, help's available! You may be eligible for an assistance program from DC Water Cares. Disconnections that were halted at the beginning of the pandemic are scheduled to resume this summer, so if you need assistance, it's important that you contact DC Water as soon as possible. My constituent services team can help you get started. Reach out to Jeanne, Jen, or Kimberly for help.
You don't need me to tell you: it's brutally hot out right now. Temperatures in the District have been consistently in the 90s or above lately, and we've had several days of Heat Emergencies activated. Remember to drink water, stay in the shade, and check in on your neighbors, especially seniors and those experiencing homelessness. If you know someone who needs relief, take a look at the map of cooling centers throughout the city and other heat emergency resources available.
Union Station was in the news this week as Starbucks announced it was closely 16 stores nationwide allegedly due to security concerns. Now, I'll be honest, I'm very skeptical that Starbucks is being forthright as it battles with many unionization efforts and there are five other stores selling coffee in Union Stations. If you've been in Union Station in the past year, you know there are a lot of empty storefronts and very little activity overall, which is a major reason why I've been very involved in the future plans to completely overhaul one of the nation's busiest rail stations pre-pandemic. But since the pandemic, foot traffic has dropped tremendously as commuting patterns have changed significantly and the shortcomings of Union Station's design and management come into sharp focus. I think this Washington Post story does a nice job getting at the heart of the challenges - and also notes that incidents of crime have actually dropped at Union Station - which only drive home the fact we really need to get the once-in-a-generation renovation right.
DCPS is requiring students be up-to-date on vaccines before returning to school later this month. Don't get caught with a kid at home instead of in the classroom. The list of vaccines includes COVID-19 for children 12 and older. District law requires all schools ensure students are fully immunized to attend school, and childhood immunizations are important to keeping our community safe. Visit your pediatrician or register for one of the DC Health mobile vaccination clinics. Learn more about required back-to-school vaccinations.
Speaking of going back to school, your kids will also need backpacks and other supplies. There are two community giveaway events coming up I want to put on your radar:
- The annual King-Greenleaf Community Backpack Giveaway from DC Department of Recreation and Good Projects on Friday, August 26 (you must reserve a ticket on the DPR website)
- Serve Your City's Back to School Bash at Audi Field on Saturday, August 27
I was honored to join a "pep rally" this week at Safeway to celebrate their yet another yearof raising funds for local schools. Joining me at the Safeway on 14th Street SE was Santana Moss, several anchors from Fox 5, Denise Rolark-Barnes from the Informer, WPGC, and most importantly, Principal Byrd and dozens of students from Payne Elementary, just one block away. The funds raised through Safeway's efforts will go to support the classrooms at Payne. If you've worked with me on school issues, you know I believe we aren't doing enough to get schools more funding in the classroom. It's a fight I'll keep fighting every day. That being said, whether or not you have a child in your neighborhood school, we all benefit when kids and teachers have the supplies they need, classrooms are well maintained, and we're meeting all of our students' needs. Kudos to Safeway for leading the way.
CRISP (Community Raised, Inspired, and Sourced Produce) is a farmshare and market run by Building Bridges Across the River, the group helping lead the way on the 11th Street Bridge Park we secured funding for in the budget. The farmshare (also called community supported agriculture, or CSA) is a subscription for a weekly bag of fresh and seasonal produce that supports community farmers and growers. Prices are on a sliding scale, and there are individual and family options. Learn more and apply for the summer session. Those who are not CSA members can still purchase locally grown produce at the CRISP Farmers Market from 10am-2pm on Saturdays.
Related: During Ward 6 Week, we'll be volunteering at the Hopkins garden next Wednesday, which provides some of the fresh produce used in the farmshare packages. If you enjoy getting your hands in the dirt and helping share fresh food with your neighbors, this is the perfect activity for you.
DDOT recently launched a program to expand access to Capital Bikeshare for residents who might not otherwise be able to afford a full membership. The equity program, called "Capital Bikeshare for All", allows those who qualify for state or federal assistance programs like SNAP or TANF to sign up for a $5 annual CaBi membership (usually $95) - what a deal! Visit the Capital Bikeshare for All website to learn more about eligibility requirements and to sign up.
The VETS Group is offering IT Certification, training, paid internships, and jobs to eligible DC residents. The trainings include online classes as well as in person practice labs at the Vets Group DC Center. Participants must be 18 years or older, DC residents, have a low income or be currently unemployed, have a high school diploma or GED, and pass a drug test and background check. Contact [email protected] for more information.
The Office of Waste Diversion has begun the public engagement phase of the development of its ambitious Zero Waste Plan, with the goal of diverting 80 percent of solid waste away from landfill and waste-to-energy by 2032. The five-month long public engagement cycle aims to connect residents, government officials, and businesses to share concerns and discuss ideas to address everything from rodents to infrastructure related to Zero Waste goals. The first Ward 6 virtual engagement session, with a focus on protecting our rivers, is happening Monday, August 8, from 6-8pm. Register here, and learn more about the the plan on the Zero Waste DC website.
I want to remind you again that because of redistricting, all 42 of our Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats will be on the ballot this November. There are a lot of openings for this important work serving the community. Petitions to run (you only need 25 signatures from your neighbors) are due back to the Board of Elections next Wednesday, August 10. If you think you might be up for it, I'm happy to talk more. Check out the email I sent out a few weeks ago about all things ANC or reply to this email and I'll link up with you.
Calling all DC book lovers! If you're not yet registered for Discover Summer, there's still a month left of the DC Public Library's all-ages summer celebration of reading and learning. Discover Summer includes great books, events, and fun activities around DC, including a Museum Day at the Phillips Collection on August 13.
A few years ago, we fought to add money to the budget to improve the condition of several fields around the city, including the field at Kingman Park. The work took place, but then the contractor hired by the city forgot to turn on the brand new irrigation system and the grass died. Watchful neighbors brought this to my attention, and my team was able to get in touch with DGS and DPR to get on it. The agencies held the contractor accountable and got them to assume the cost of repairing and reseeding the field, and the new irrigation system is up and running (and turned on, this time). This was the community helping to make sure government was working for you - and holding us accountable when it's not. I'm grateful to the neighbors near Kingman Park and ANC 6A's Amber Gove and Laura Gentile for bringing this issue to my attention. If you see something like this in your neighborhood that needs attention, I encourage you to reach out to me and my team so we can help.
See you around the neighborhood and hopefully at Ward 6 Week soon!