Ward 6 Update 6-10-22

Pools are open, splash parks are splashing, and we've had an incredible run of weather and temperatures to make getting out into the neighborhood easy. Hopefully you've been able to enjoy. Lots of updates in this newsletter below for your summer planning, as well as the latest news from the Council. 

Pools are open, splash parks are splashing, and we've had an incredible run of weather and temperatures to make getting out into the neighborhood easy. Hopefully you've been able to enjoy. Lots of updates in this newsletter below for your summer planning, as well as the latest news from the Council. 

Shortcuts: Budget Done | Redistricting Done | Public Safety | New Crime Lab Bill Early Voting | Mobile Phone Voting | Pools and Splash Parks | The Wharf Job Fair | Tuition Assistance | No NFL Stadium | Clean Energy | Metro Closures | DCRA Contracting System | SW Clean-Up Office Hours

Council Work Complete on FY23 Budget

As of Tuesday, we've completed our work on the next fiscal year's budget. I want to thank the many Ward 6 neighbors, businesses, and organizations who worked with me and my team to help ensure we have a fantastic budget that benefits every corner of the ward (photo to the right from a walkthrough with neighbors at Kingsman Park earlier this spring, where we ended up funding some upgrades in the budget). In case you missed the previous updates, here's a link to updates in the budget on Ward 6 specificallypublic safety budgets, and a few citywide items. Two quick items I'd like to share that were late additions to the final budget:

Helping Teachers and Educators Live in DC: During our final deliberations on the budget, I was proud to work with my colleagues - particularly Councilmembers Bonds and Henderson - to expand a home purchase assistance program specifically for teachers and educators in next year's budget. I've helped grow a similar program for first responders like our fire fighters, EMTs, and police to help choose and afford to live in the District, and it can make a difference for our educators as well. The help we're providing will be eligible for DCPS, DC Charter, and UDC educators to purchase a home in DC. This is a small step among many others needed to improve teacher retention in our school system by ensuring more teachers can afford to call DC home and live closer to where they work.

Creating a Tax Incentive to Bring a Full-Service Grocery Store South of M St., SW: I also was able to include in the budget an expansion of the District's Supermarket Tax Incentive to help bring a full-service grocery store to Buzzard Point and the neighborhoods south of M St., SW. While development on Buzzard Point is underway, the neighbors living in James Creek and Syphax Gardens and the surrounding neighborhoods just north are more than a half mile from the nearest grocery store and deserve better access to healthy foods. The purpose of the Supermarket Tax Incentive is to attract grocery stores to parts of the city where retail grocers haven't located and access to fresh, healthy food is difficult for anyone who isn't easily mobile. This map shows the existing zones where the tax incentive applies, but doesn't yet reflect the change we just made on Tuesday.

Redistricting is Finally Complete!

Also on Tuesday, the Council completed its work on the ANC and Single Member District (SMD) boundaries for every ward (note there were changes to the Ward 7 ANC boundaries not reflected here), thus wrapping up the federally-mandated redistricting process following the US Census. I want to begin by once again thanking the members of the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force -- all volunteers and all your neighbors in Ward 6 -- who spent hours sorting through the challenges and priorities of our community in setting our new boundaries. I think they did a wonderful job, and there was no controversy on the Ward 6 map for the final vote, which I think speaks to their inclusive and thoughtful approach.

On the broader changes made by the Council, I want to note that I'm grateful the final map creates an SMD just for the residents in and adjacent to the DC Jail. For too long, those voices haven't been represented in our hyper-local system of government, and it hurts both our residents inside and outside of the Jail. The final map ensures an elected ANC representative from the DC Jail can serve, strengthen connections with the community, and lift up incarcerated residents' concerns and priorities.

ICYMI: Here's the new Ward 6 map, which doesn't include the ANC and SMD boundaries (that map is linked in the paragraph above and the image to the right).

Public Safety Update

I continue to work closely with neighbors on public safety issues in several parts of the ward where cycles of violence need to be broken through a combination of public health-based intervention and policing. As I've written before, we need to see much improved coordination and strategy between the many different efforts we are funding to reduce violence. Just this week, the Council's DC Auditor completed an analysis of the implementation of the District's violence prevention and interruption legislation, the "NEAR Act", which became law way back in 2016. I've been careful to grow violence interruption programs in a sustainable way, understanding both their importance and the relationship-driven nature of their work. The audit is a helpful analysis and offers critiques and shines a light on where we need to see the Executive Branch commit further to implementing the NEAR Act and related-violence reduction initiatives that have all been passed and funded by the Council. More in WTOP.

I'd also recommend this Washington Post story digging into the challenges of bringing charges after gun seizures. I want to be clear - getting guns off of the street is critical work, but we badly need federal legislation making it harder to go into nearby states and buy guns to bring back into the District. While I've written laws at the Council to go after so-called "ghost guns" and extended clip magazines and  that do so much harm and are too commonly seen in gun violence in the region, we know the vast majority of guns recovered and tracked by the ATF are from out-of-state.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, DC's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council released a very specific, goal-oriented plan to reduce gun violence that needs to be adopted. You can read what I shared here. The reason I'm including it here is because that plan takes a different approach to responding to shootings and focusing our policing efforts to holding violent offenders accountable, prioritizing the core group of people most likely to be involved in gun violence. I think when you see the challenges our officers and prosecutors face in bringing charges simply for gun possession, it's clear we need to embrace a more evidence-based and targeted response.

Bill to Overhaul Forensics Lab Introduced: Last week, I introduced a bill to overhaul the District's Department of Forensic Sciences, which used to process evidence for criminal prosecutions, including ballistics, firearms, DNA, fingerprints, and digital evidence. I say "used to" because DFS lost its accreditation in June 2021 and hasn't been able to serve this critical role since then. This legislation includes many recommendations made by an independent analysis of DFS from top to bottom, several public hearings, and testimony from the US Attorney's Office, the Office of the Attorney General, the Public Defender Service, and the Innocence Project. You can read more about the issue and the legislation on DCist, WTOP, CBS 9, and the Washington Post.

The role of DFS in the administration of justice is incredibly important, and the loss of accreditation is having major impacts on the entire system. In the short-term, it has forced the prosecution and law enforcement to identify other labs, which have at times meant shipping evidence to other states' labs or to a federal partner. It has implications for cases that have been closed, including potential wrongful prosecutions and convictions. And it has due process concerns for ensuring the timely administration justice.

My legislation takes the long view and tries to fix the management and structural issues that allowed serious lapses in the work of DFS in the first place. We need an independent, trusted, and transparent forensics lab that can neutrally analyze evidence in service to justice for everyone involved.

Ward 6 Public Safety Updates: 

Arrest Made in Assault with a Deadly Weapon in SW
Arrest in Unauthorized Use of Vehicle on Kentucky Ave, SE
Suspect Sought in Burglary at 1300 Block 2nd St., NE

Early Voting Begins, Mail-In Ballots Underway

Around 20,000 residents have filled out and returned a mail-in ballot so far. And starting tomorrow, June 10, Early Vote Centers across the city will open. If you're an eligible voter, you can go to any Early Vote Center to cast your ballot during operating hours. Or you can still fill out your mail-in ballot and either return it by mail or via a dropbox. If you're old school, you can wait until the last day of the election on Tuesday, June 21, to cast your ballot at additional polling sites around the city.

A Note on "Mobile Phone Voting:" In the past few weeks, there's been a concerted effort targeting me by a tech billionaire to push for mobile voting to come to the District. Yes, that's a strange sentence to write. So, quickly, I'd just like to run through my thinking on the related legislation that's pending at the Council. Over and over, I've heard from cybersecurity professionals that the technology and security required to assure the integrity of mobile (i.e. on your phone) elections is simply not ready or close to being ready. In other words, there's a big difference between something sounding like a good idea, and actually being a good idea. As someone who has led the effort to bring Automatic Voter Registration, Fair Elections, permanent Mail-In Voting, putting polling locations inside the DC Jail, expanding voting to DC residents serving in federal prison, and more, I care deeply about making it easier to vote and greatly believe in the many benefits of civic engagement. But I also take seriously my responsibility as chair of the committee with oversight of our elections to ensure they're safe and secure. So, despite the deep pockets and targeted campaign involved, it's clear from those that work in cybersecurity that the technology for this type of voting is not mature enough or ready to move forward. That said, there are a number of respected individuals and organizations - with a long history of partnering with me on expanding voting rights and protections - that would ultimately like to see mobile voting in the future. I don't disagree that one day, we will likely have a safe and secure way to vote on our phones. And I look forward to working with them to further study and explore the idea and how the technology may grow in the coming years.  

DPR Outdoor Pool Hours, Splash Park Locations

As we near the end of the school year, I know folks might have questions about when pools are open or not. Good news: DPR has all the information you need right here (tl;dr pools open on weekends only until Monday, June 27, when they're open daily). And if Splash Parks are more your speed, they're open daily right now. Get out there and cool off!

Related: Late Night Hype (Friday evening bounce houses, music, fun at rec centers) returns, and DPR is launching Late Night Drip to open a different pool on Friday evenings. Learn more from WTOP here.

From The Wharf to the Yards Job Fair - June 28 at Arena Stage

Save the date neighbors. After a two year break, we're bringing back our job fair and hoping to get as many Ward 6 residents connected to jobs as The Wharf Phase II opens and more and more businesses are looking to hire along the waterfront. The Job Fair, organized by my office along with the great team from At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman's team (who chairs the Committee on Labor) and Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White's office, will take place Tuesday, June 28 from 10 am to 1 pm at Arena Stage. You can register to attend here. Please share this far and wide with neighbors or organizations connected to folks who could use a job. 

Tuition Assistance Available for DC Residents to Attend College

Passing on an opportunity for residents who are attending, or would like to attend, one of three local universities (Catholic, Trinity, UDC) in pursuit of their first bachelor's or associate degree. There is funding available (up to $8,000 annually) to help with tuition or fees associated with college. Learn more if this might be you: https://osse.dc.gov/node/1574551

Majority of Council Support DC Controlling RFK, Oppose an NFL Stadium

I led an effort this week to send a clear message that a majority of the DC Council supports a transfer of the 192-acre RFK campus (an empty stadium and a bunch of empty parking) from federal control to local control, but there's no support for returning an NFL stadium to the site. It's time to move on from this debate and finally, finally put that land to use, building more city and neighborhoods we can all enjoy after it's sat vacant for a generation. Taxpayer support for NFL stadiums, no matter who the owners are, is a bad deal and doesn't provide a significant economic boost. For too long, the process has been stymied in a debate about a stadium for the Washington Commanders and their billionaire owner, who has tried to play DC, Virginia, and Maryland against each other to get the most taxpayer support to pay for his new stadium.

For years now, we've maintained a mailing list through "Hail No RFK". If you'd like to sign the petition and be included on any updates, visit HailNoRFK.com. And you can read the letter here.

If You Care About Clean, Local Energy, the PSC Needs to Be On Your Radar

I know there are a lot of Ward 6 residents who a) care deeply about taking local action to reduce the use of fossil fuels as we battle climate change, b) have a career working to reduce fossil fuel use, or c) both. So let me point you to this great piece from WAMU, "D.C.’s climate change response is in the hands of an obscure, unelected commission" or the accompanying radio hit via podcast. Both pieces focus on the role of the Public Service Commission, or PSC, a small, three-person body that has rulemaking authority over the District's utility companies, including Pepco and Washington Gas. The PSC has enormous power when it comes to forcing utilities to comply with laws, including DC's expanding solar programs that could make energy generation a significant localized industry, rather than continuing to send money to buy fossil fuels outside of the District. It also greenlights new infrastructure projects for both, which are ultimately paid for by residents. And to me, the simple question is this: if we're trying to phase out the use of fossil fuels in the next decade or so, why are we considering paying for infrastructure projects that will keep us reliant on fossil fuels for the next 30-50 years? I'm focused on ensuring that the PSC is keeping District residents' interests front and center, understanding we must make these transitions in order to meet goals set by law and to do our part to mitigate the most serious impacts of climate change.

Orange Line Metro Closures Underway

While it doesn't affect any stations in Ward 6, I certainly want to be sure residents are aware that WMATA is undergoing major station upgrades with temporary closures through Monday, September 5, for the New Carrollton, Landover, Cheverly, Deanwood and Minnesota Ave stations. Metro will provide free shuttle bus service along three routes and offer free parking for Metro customers at the closed stations. More from NBC.

Constituent Services Tip: DCRA System for Verifying Contractors 

Here's a tip to have handy from DCRA: For property owners, you can verify the licensure of a business using Scout, DCRA’s online consolidated database, and also identify a highly-rated contractor by using the Contractor Rating System, which arms residents and businesses with information so that you can hire contractors with a proven track record of proper licensing, construction, and inspections.

Join the Next Southwest Clean-Up on June 18

Just a quick plug that my team and officers from MPD's First District will be holding a community clean-up on Saturday, June 18 at 10 am. We'll be meeting at Greenleaf Rec Center (201 N St., SW) and working on the 1300 block of Canal St., SW and the 1400 block of First Street, SW. If you want to get a little more engaged in your community, this is an easy way to do so in just an hour or two. Hope you can make it! 

Office Hours Return to NoMa

Next Thursday evening, I'm headed to NoMa's Wunder Garten for office hours. I'd love to have you join me and say hello. I'll be there with my team from 5-6:30 pm. You can RSVP here. I hold these events often at local businesses to bring some extra support their way. But please don't feel like you have to make a purchase in order to speak with me or my team! Hope you can come out!

See you around the neighborhood,

Charles Allen


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.