Happy Spring, Ward 6! I hope you've been able to enjoy this transition into (slightly) warmer weather. And, of course, hopefully you were also able to enjoy the cherry blossoms without all the traffic (and maybe even take in a secret Ward 6 spot instead of the Tidal Basin).
As the Council works on the budget for next year, I've got plenty of updates to share with you, so let's dive right in.
Quick Links: Budget Town Hall | Eastern Market 150 | Public Safety | Great Ward 6 Spring Clean | Jazz at Eastern Market Metro Park | Expanded DPR Hours | Covering Prostate Exams | Fixing Delivery Fees | DDOT and DOEE Hearings | E-Bikes | Compost Pilot | Street Sweeping | Belmont-Paul | SWNA | Last Caps Tickets
Ward 6 Budget Town Hall is Tonight!
Join me tonight at School-Within-School at Goding for the Ward 6 Budget Town Hall to dig into the District's next budget. We've received the Mayor's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024, and the Council has started to explore it in detail at the committee level. But before we get too far into the process, I want to hear from Ward 6 neighbors, businesses, and organizations. How do you want us to spend your tax dollars? What are your priorities? You don't need to be a budget wonk or even have a fully formed ask of us to participate. I'll walk through the big picture budget and process, outline where investments are being made and cuts are being proposed, offer some of my thoughts, and then turn it over to you.
We'll post my presentation on our website later today, in case you'd like to have it handy.
We get started at 6:30 pm and will plan to stream the town hall for folks who can't be there in-person. RSVP here. And plan to join me at 6 pm if you can for a tour of SWS (one of our most recently modernized public school buildings and our host for the evening!) to get inspired by what we can accomplish when we put your tax dollars to work.
2023 Marks Eastern Market's 150th Anniversary
Our beloved Eastern Market turns 150 in November, but I'm helping lead the effort for a year-long celebration of Eastern Market, the oldest continually operating public market in the nation. The celebration kicked off with Eastern Market Main Street's transformation of the North Hall during cherry blossom season. Throughout the year, we'll have many more opportunities to celebrate the history of the Market, its future, and of course, the role it plays in our community each day.
This weekend is the last weekend for Blossoms at the Market -- it'll be open both Saturday and Sunday (tip: a great spot for Easter lunch). Be sure to check it out. And the 150th celebrations are just getting underway, with more exciting events and opportunities coming soon.
Public Safety & Congressional Interference
In a shorter email last week, I wrote about the congressional hearing where I testified along with Council Chairman Phil Mendelson -- linking here if you missed it. I also discussed the hearing on The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi last Friday.
Many of you have seen some of the clips making the rounds on the late night circuit of an exchange in the hearing between me and Rep. Lauren Boebert, in which she was very intently - and incorrectly - questioning me about language that wasn't actually included in a bill she didn't realize Congress had already overturned. While the moment proved how unserious the entire hearing was, I do want to emphasize there are steps Congress could take to make the District safer - today. And I'm not only talking about the full statehood and autonomy we deserve (but shout out to the many committee members from the Minority who defended the District and statehood in the hearing, like Congresswoman Norton, Ranking Member Raskin, and Congressman Connolly). Recognizing that statehood isn't on the immediate horizon, I'm also focused on concrete actions federal elected leaders could take, like giving us local control of our criminal justice system. For example, our prosecutor for almost all adult crimes is federal, as are the judges and the courts, and many DC residents are incarcerated in the federal system, not in our local jail. Last year, our federal prosecutors didn't bring charges in about 65% of all cases before them, though they did bring more charges in cases involving violent crime. This Post article gets into some of the reasons why (staffing, quality of evidence, forensic work), but it also highlights how prosecutors aren't communicating with our local police when charges are dropped about their decision making or ways to either improve the case or their policework. The Council can't hold our federal prosecutor's office accountable like we can our Attorney General, who handles juvenile cases, but local control of prosecutions could change that.
The theatrics of the Majority's hearing aside, crime - especially homicides and carjackings - is a persistent and urgent challenge in the District. This coming budget is an important opportunity to fully fund the District's public safety response, and I welcome your feedback on public safety and justice funding at tonight's Ward 6 Budget Town Hall.
The Great Ward 6 Spring Clean was Wet and Wonderful!
I want to give a huge shout out to the many Ward 6 neighbors who braved the rain and/or the wind this past weekend to do some cleaning around the Ward. From H Street to Southwest to Eastern Market to Hill East to Stanton Park to C Street NE to many of our schools, we had more than 100 people volunteer to get outside and spend some time giving back to their community in a simple way: by picking up trash and tidying our blocks, alleys, and parks. Thank you! And remember, you can help out every day - just taking 5 or 10 minutes to pick up around your block or on the walk to work or school makes a big difference!
Live Jazz Returns to Eastern Market Metro Park Friday
It was such a success last year, we're doing it again. I was proud to identify funding in the budget for live music and programming throughout the year at Eastern Market Metro Park. Barracks Row Main Street is leading the effort once again, and it kicks off this Friday at 5 pm as "Live, On the Hill" begins. Bring a chair, bring a friend, and enjoy some live music. Full schedule available here, but you can go ahead and book every Friday evening in April.
DPR Hours Expanded. Let's Go Further.
In February, I introduced a bill to expand hours at all of our DPR Recreation Centers (read more here). Well, I'm happy to report the Mayor agrees with me and went ahead and expanded hours at a number of sites, which is a great start. I'd still like to see hours expanded at all locations and more programming available at no-cost. For many of the same reasons we love our libraries, I want to see our rec centers become welcoming, safe community hubs where residents of all parts of the community can come together. My bill still proposes further expansions, so hopefully a hearing can help explore what DPR and the community would want to see happen.
Related: DPR is hiring! Lots of different jobs are opening up as the weather warms and pools get ready to open in just under two months. Find your next gig here.
Let's Make Prostate Exams a Little Bit Easier
I introduced legislation in March to require insurers to cover one annual exam for prostate cancer free of charge. Did you know that the District has the highest rate of death from the disease in the nation and the seventh highest rate of new cases? This is a simple step we can take to ensure prevention is prioritized and cases are detected earlier. Read more here. Thanks to ZERO Prostate Cancer for all their help with the bill, as well as the leadership of the National Cancer Institute.
Fixing Delivery Fees for Our Local Restaurants
You may not realize it, but when you order delivery from your favorite local restaurant using an app like Door Dash, GrubHub, or Uber Eats, most of the extra cost for that delivery comes out of the restaurant's take, not an extra fee paid by the consumer. When the pandemic hit, every restaurant turned to delivery apps to survive (and many did!), and to protect them, the Council capped the cut from big tech at 15% of the total cost, considering demand was skyrocketing, and there weren't many options.
As we come out of the pandemic and that cap expires, these companies are starting to demand a larger percentage -- and punishing restaurants that aren't willing to agree to an even higher cut by pushing them further down in searches or even excluding them outside of small geographic distances in the app. I don't think that's right, and I'm leading an effort at the Council to tighten up our laws after many Ward 6 restaurants reached out to me panicked that they were either being hidden on delivery apps or seeing larger parts of their sales going to the apps. I met with several restaurants on Monday morning, and many told me that as delivery remains a key part of their business, rising rates mean they're regularly cooking food without making any money on the order.
The Council started to consider the bill this week at our legislative meeting, but a majority unfortunately chose to delay for another month. I'll keep leading on it, because your favorite local restaurants are truly barely hanging on while companies like Door Dash and Uber are pulling in record profits year-after-year, having come to dominate the post-pandemic delivery market. Get caught up on where we stand with reporting from DCist.
Two Important Oversight Hearings Coming Up
Putting on my hat as Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, I'd like to flag our two big budget oversight hearings on the horizon.
First, today, I'm going to spend the day with the Department of Energy and the Environment, the key agency in the District's efforts to transition to a carbon zero future and improve the health of our air and water. Tune in.
Second, next Monday, April 10, we'll have the second part of our budget oversight hearing with the Department of Transportation. And I've got a long list of questions, many from you reaching out to us!
E-Bikes Public Hearing Shows a Lot of Support
In mid-March, I held a public hearing to consider if the District should advance legislation that would create a rebate program to incentivize more DC residents to buy an e-bike (or be able to afford one at all). It was an incredibly robust conversation, that began with some early morning testimony from folks in Denver on lessons learned from their own program, tapped into ways the bill can equitably help residents in all parts of the city and at all income levels, and how we make sure this works for our local bike shops and how it can create a new industry of jobs for DC residents. If that all sounds good to you, tune in to the hearing here.
Composting Pilot Program Announced
The District is about to begin a curbside composting pilot program as we look to ramp up our composting efforts. If you're interested in signing up for the pilot program, enrollment opens on April 22 with limited availability in each Ward. More here.
In the meantime, don't forget you can bring food waste to Eastern Market and other locations every weekend. Here's the schedule and sites.
Street Sweeping Has Resumed
Spring is in the air, the warm weather has returned, and that means DPW's street sweeping has resumed. Please be diligent about moving your car during street sweeping days -- it should be posted clearly on your street. More here.
Preview of Revamped Belmont-Paul Women's Equality Monument
I also was honored to join Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for a preview of the soon-to-reopen Belmont-Paul Women's Equality Monument here in Ward 6. Short video here, expected to re-open this summer.
SWNA Meeting with Mayor Bowser
Earlier this week, I joined Mayor Bowser in Southwest to speak at the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly's regular meeting and hear from residents. I was glad to be there to welcome her and have her listen in on a wide-ranging conversation about priorities for Southwest neighbors - from transportation to development to affordable housing to public safety to live-aboard community issues. SWNA covered a lot of ground, and thanks to everyone who came out!
See the Caps Play the NY Islanders on April 10
Well, both the Caps and Wizards are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2004, so there's just a few games left. But that doesn't mean it can't be a fun night out! Reply to this email if you'd like to be entered into a drawing to see the Caps play the New York Islanders on Monday, April 10. I'll draw the winning email tomorrow and notify the winner ASAP.
That's enough from me. Hopefully, I'll see you tonight at the Ward 6 Budget Town Hall. Or this weekend out and about in this great spring weather!
See you around the neighborhood,