Once we hold the Brickies, every December just seems to fly by. In part, that's because Ward 6 shifts into a stunning holiday mode that fills up the calendar and brings a little sense of wonder to our neighborhoods. From decorated houses to holiday markets to concerts to annual parties, it certainly is a great time of year. I'd like to run through a few things happening around Ward 6 and provide a quick update on what I've been working on at the Council.
Ward 6 Brickies! Annually, the Ward 6 Brickies are one of my favorite evenings of the year. It's neighbors spending time together, enjoying some food and drink donated from some of our favorite local businesses. And then we have some fun handing out awards (that are real sidewalk bricks) as a way to recognize and celebrate some of our neighbors who went above and beyond for their community. I want to say a great big thank you to everyone who made it out, to DC Water for hosting, and to all of our sponsors who made the event possible. Check out photos and read more about the 2019 Brickie Winners here.
Related: Let's not gloss over Thanksgiving too fast! Cora and I had a great time at the annual Safeway Feast of Sharing Thanksgiving meal that feeds thousands of DC residents at the Convention Center and we joined James Creek residents for a special Thanksgiving meal as well. Thanksgiving deserves some love!
Council's Ad Hoc Committee Recommends Expulsion for Councilmember Evans: Earlier this week, the Council's Ad Hoc Committee completed our work by formally voting unanimously on a report to expel Councilmember Jack Evans. This is not something any of us wanted to have to do, but it was necessary to show residents the Council is willing to take steps to earn back the trust that has been lost. The Hill Rag has a recap and video of my remarks (text here) if you'd like a more full explanation for why I voted in support of expulsion.
Ensuring All Students Can Apply to Selective Public High Schools: Part of fighting for a better school system is ensuring every student has an equal shot. And sadly, we know that's not true. When it comes to high school, we need to remove barriers, especially for students already facing hurdles. For some, they can't even get in the door to apply to the District's top selective high schools. We put too much weight and value in the results of standardized test scores that tend to reward students and schools with more resources. And that leads to the inequality we see in our school outcomes. This Post article is a good foray into the challenges with offering selective public schools that serve all residents of the District. Mentioned in there is legislation I introduced that would do away with application minimums (meaning a barrier to being considered for entry, not a guarantee of admission) that I think was impractical and problematic.
Study to See If Making Public Transit Cheaper for Low-Income Riders is Helpful: The District and WMATA announced this week a pilot program that would provide for 2,500 qualifying low-income DC residents to be part of a study looking at how their travel habits change if they receive discounted or even free public transit rides. I am really glad to see the District government is partnering with WMATA to look into this and I hope the study is approved by the WMATA board. But I'll say also this: I don't think we need to wait on the results of the study to take action. We know that if people have access to affordable or free public transit, their ability to get to work, school, day care, doctor's office, the grocery store, or anywhere else will be improved. Still, it's an encouraging start on what is an important investment and source of success for the region -- and critical at highlighting what transit inequity looks like. Read more in the Post.
Peterbug Matthews is Still Here Thanks to CPR: Many, many Ward 6 neighbors know and love PeterBug Matthews, owner of PeterBug Shoeshine and Repair on Capitol Hill. Not as many know PeterBug suffered a heart attack back in May. Thanks to the quick work of a neighbor who called 911 and then performed CPR until an ambulance arrived, PeterBug is doing well today. DC Fire and EMS held a press event where the neighbors and first responders were recognized for their fast action and used the moment to remind folks that Fire and EMS offers regular CPR training. You never know when you might be called on to save a life. More from the Hill Rag and on Facebook.
Council Looking Into 295 Speed Camera: I wanted to share a quick update because I've heard from many residents who regularly use 295 and have received tickets for an area they believe is being enforced unfairly. My office has been working with these residents, DDOT, and my colleague, and Chair of the Transportation Committee, Councilmember Mary Cheh. As of yesterday, DDOT has removed the work zone signage, since we heard from many Ward 6 residents who believe they were ticketed in a work zone where there was no actual work. I will send a letter to the DMV to ask they consider the signage in ticket appeals. I think many speed cameras successfully slow down drivers and save lives, especially in our neighborhoods. But I also want the District to be more dynamic in employing cameras to make our streets safer -- that's why I'm working with Councilmember Cheh to move the speed camera program out of MPD and into DDOT, where a more data-informed approach can help improve safety.
The Region Needs to Invest in Trails: The Washington Post highlighted an issue that rarely makes its way into the news, but one I believe deserves greater investment from regional governments: additional trails for walking and biking away from busy streets. At some point soon, we need to recognize as our region continues to grow, we badly need to invest in alternatives to driving if we're going to avoid even worse congestion and massive environmental impacts. Until we provide safe, reasonable, and useful alternatives, it's hard to expect many people to change behavior.
Related: In case you missed it, DDOT has issued permits and regulations around who can operate scooters in the District of Columbia.
Reminder Lead Pipe Replacement Funding is Available: Just a quick reminder the Council set aside funds to cover anywhere from 50-100% of the cost to replace lead service pipes to your home from the street. The pipes connecting DC Water's service lines to your house might be lead, even if your internal pipes are not. It's worth checking into while these funds are available. Here are the links you need:
- Landing Page and Link to Program FAQ: https://www.dcwater.com/voluntary-replacements
- Check the service map for your address: https://www.dcwater.com/servicemap
- Info on Lead in Water: https://www.dcwater.com/lead
Holiday Recycling Tips: Zero Waste DC is a great year-round resource on what goes in the trash and what can be recycled. And they've come out with a special holiday edition with guides to decorations, wrapping paper, and more that's worth keeping handy this holiday season. And as a reminder, if you don't have your own compost pile, DC offers free food waste collection year-round at Eastern Market every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.
Related: If you're worried about your carbon footprint, but really love those holiday lights, make the switch to purchase clean energy for your home.
Where to Shop Local This Holiday Season: Just a reminder that there are really wonderful small and local businesses in every corner of Ward 6 that deserve a visit as part of your holiday shopping. Eastern Market and Barracks Row are always great choices, but there are also great stores in Shaw, H Street, The Wharf, Capitol Riverfront, Mt. Vernon Triangle. Many of the makers you know and love have storefronts at the Downtown Holiday Market near the Portrait Gallery. Washingtonian Magazine dedicated its cover story this month to Made In DC (a brand I am proud to say I wrote the bill to create) and shopping local. We've recently seen a few beloved businesses close in Ward 6, so it never hurts to remember to support the businesses that help make your part of Ward 6 special.
Familiar Policies in Neighboring Jurisdictions: I recently discovered two different bills of mine have siblings in nearby jurisdictions. First, did you know our next door neighbor to the east, Prince George's County, has their own Books from Birth Program? Earlier this year in DC, we celebrated the 1,000,000th book being mailed to kids under the age of five -- I'm so grateful to see this program keep spreading. And in Richmond, 1st District Councilmember Andreas Addison introduced a Vision Zero bill that incorporates much of the changes I introduced earlier this year in DC's Vision Zero Omnibus Bill. Great to see the region taking steps together to improve early literacy and make streets safer.
DCRA Office Hours this Friday: If you have questions or concerns for DCRA, they'll be holding public office hours at the Northeast Branch Library (330 7th Street, NE) this Friday from 2-5 pm.
Friday Night at Atlas Performing Arts: As part of the launch of their new production "Eureka Day," Atlas Performing Arts is offering discounted tickets to Friday night's show to Ward 6 neighbors. Order online here for Friday, December 13 and use the code "ward6" at checkout for a $10 ticket! And, keep an eye out for a special cameo by someone you might know during the show. Here's a little background about the play from the New York Times.
257th Army Band Holiday Concert: Join me as the District of Columbia National Guard hosts the 257th Army Band at Holy Comforter Church (1357 East Capitol St., SE) on Monday, December 16 at 7pm. I'll be there to do a reading from "The Night Before Christmas" as part of the performance. The event is free, though guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation. More here.
Last Office Hours of the Year: My final office hours of 2019 will be at Lot 38 in Capitol Riverfront / Navy Yard this Friday. Stop by for a cup of coffee and let's chat about what's going on in your neighborhood or the District. My staff and I will be there from 8:00 am until 9:30 am. Hope you can make it. We'll finalize our Spring office hours schedule shortly and will share it on my website.
Capitol Riverfront Office Hours: Friday, December 13, 8-9:30 am | Lot 38 Espresso
DCRA Office Hours: Friday, December 13, 2-5 pm | Northeast Branch Library
Ward 6 Night at Atlas Theater - Eureka Day: Friday, December 13, 8 pm | Atlas Performing Arts Center
257th Army Holiday Performance: Monday, December 16, 7 pm | Holy Comforter Church
Capitol Hill Menorah Lighting: Sunday, December 22 | Reformation (212 East Capitol St., NE_