I hope you had a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend despite the rain on Monday (okay... the Dad in me wants to note that we really needed that rain).
Today the Council and the Mayor marked the beginning of Pride Month at the Wilson Building by raising the pride flag to fly with the DC State Flag.
If you can believe it, summer's right around the corner! I’ve been taking advantage of the warmer weather to spend a lot of time in the Ward, for everything from Bike to Work Day and running the Capitol Hill Classic 10k with my family, to community meetings with residents about public safety and traffic safety to blessing of the fleet down on the Southwest waterfront. Down at the Wilson Building, we wrapped up the second and final vote on the District’s FY24 budget this week. I shared some details about what’s in the budget for Ward 6 and the District as a whole after the first vote, which you can dive into here if you missed it. We’ve now locked in the final numbers for the FY24 budget (which begins this October), and I’m pleased to share more below on the exciting projects we're delivering on for Ward 6.
Quick Links: Public Safety Update | FY24 Budget Finalized | Remembering Linda Harllee Harper | Traffic Safety Roundtable | WMATA Better Bus Network | Pride Kickoff on Barracks Row | Fort Totten Transfer Station | Capitol Hill Area Sidewalk Survey | Outdoor Movie Nights | Eastern Market Jazz | Go-Go at the MLK Library | Free Walk-Up Health Clinic | NPS Town Hall with Congresswoman Norton | SW Waterfront Art Exhibit | Climate Talk at Burke | Barracks Row Office Hours Tomorrow
Public Safety Update
Everyone will note the level of gun violence in the District, the region, and in so many places across the country is unacceptable. Public safety remains our top priority. And because the Council just passed next year's budget, I'm going to use this newsletter's public safety update to highlight a few notable public safety and gun violence reduction items in the budget, from short-term to long-term investments:
- For the third straight year, the Council approved the Mayor's proposed MPD's staffing budget. This includes a $25,000 signing bonus for new recruits, tuition and rental assistance to retain officers, and a continued first-time homebuyer program that I created for first responders a few years ago. The budget also includes funding to hire more civilians to do administrative work within MPD and thereby free up sworn officers to patrol.
- Some of our violence interruption programs and grants received less funding in this year's tight budget, but not in a way that should disrupt any ongoing placements in Ward 6. This work is critical to interrupting cycles of violence and intervening in personal conflicts.
- The fight over standing up an independent "crime lab" - the Department of Forensic Sciences - will continue when the Council takes up the Budget Support Act (that's the policy part of the budget) in a few weeks. This is a complicated issue but one that's vital to prosecution of gun crimes. Just last year, the Council passed my bill to make DFS an independent agency. You may recall the agency had lost accreditation under poor management and systemic quality assurance challenges. As the agency works toward re-accreditation, it's very important to have an apolitical lab, focused on the science, be able to hold up in Court, and with strong internal oversight mechanisms. The purpose of the lab is to neutrally evaluate evidence as part of investigations and prosecutions. When we don't have a functioning lab, we can't test evidence or rely on those scientists' testimony or analysis in court prosecutions. The consequences have been significant for our entire justice system in terms of cases being dropped or otherwise in limbo, and the Council needs to speak with one voice in support of a well-functioning, independent lab.
Shooting at Tony’s Place at 14th and H St., NE: On Tuesday, there was a shooting inside Tony’s Place located at 14th and H St., NE. Early reports from MPD indicate it may have been a customer who shot an employee over a dispute. MPD's detectives report plenty of video is available to aid them in identifying a suspect. I'll be sure to share any updates as we have them. I've been working closely with H Street businesses in recent weeks to improve public safety, including walking through the commercial corridor with MPD and our Main Street leadership (photo to the right).
Robbery on 300 block of 12th Street, SE: Over the weekend, there was a robbery and assault on the 300 block of 12th Street, SE. I've been in touch with MPD and many residents in the days since, and MPD is sharing images of two suspects here. I'll be meeting with neighbors but also want to remind folks about our Private Security Camera Rebate Program, a program my office created when I first joined the Council. It helps offset the cost of security cameras that residents register with MPD for use in investigations. These videos help identify suspects and make arrests in both property and violent crimes. It's an easy step any resident, business, or non-profit can take to help hold people accountable and solve crimes.
Council Approves the FY24 Budget
On Tuesday, the District's budget for FY24 passed the second and final vote at the Council. I shared the details a couple weeks ago following our first vote (you can read them here, if you missed it), and the key items remain the same, particularly some sorely needed Ward 6 projects like school modernizations, road safety improvements, and rec center upgrades that I was able to get funded.
This year's budget revealed some stark differences and competing views on how to move our city forward. Coming out of the pandemic, we still have critical gaps to fill in our social safety net. The budget originally sent to the Council didn't come close to meeting those needs and slashed funding in priority areas. I'm proud of the budget we've ultimately approved, as funding from my Committee, as well as from the Chairman at the full Council, restores funding for programs like emergency rental assistance, legal aid for vulnerable residents, and more, as well as ambitious investments in transit equity, street safety, clean energy, and public safety.
Here are a few city-wide priorities the Council funded in the first, and now final, vote, in addition to the new Ward 6 wins above:
- $35M for emergency rental assistance (for a total of $43M), $18.6M (for a total of $31.6M) for civil legal services, and $9M in new permanent supportive housing vouchers (up from zero).
- Full funding of MPD's requested budget for officers and recruitment and retention incentives, as well as fully restoring $10.5 million in funding for crime victims.
- An important part of my Metro for DC legislation to expand service for 13 WMATA bus routes to run 24/7, a huge win for transit accessibility that will help workers with early morning or late night hours, as well as those who are out dining or attending concerts late at night. The lines are the 32, 33, 52, 70, 90, A6, A8, B2, H4, S2, V2, W4, and the X2.
- Funding more than 40 street safety projects.
Related: In addition to the city's budget, the other big priority this week at the Council was a bill from my colleague and Housing Committee chair Councilmember Robert White to lower allowable rent increases for rent-controlled apartments. Members offered a few different amendments to his emergency legislation, and there was some confusion on procedure that ultimately led to the vote being delayed by one week, so it will be back up for a vote at next Tuesday's Legislative Meeting. I gave a quick explainer of the issue on Instagram and will be sure to keep you updated on where we land after the vote next week.
Remembering Linda Harllee Harper
The District suffered a significant loss last week when Linda Harllee Harper, the District’s first Gun Violence Prevention Director, passed away. Linda was a beautiful person, and I'm just shocked and saddened. She was a longtime and true public servant, committed to her core to saving lives. She shined around young people and all those who need a second chance in life. She was a natural and skilled leader in the fields of juvenile justice and violence prevention, and she commanded every room she entered with her smile, poise, and stature. My heart goes out to her friends, family, colleagues, and all those she shaped and supported. As I mentioned, Linda was the city's first Gun Violence Prevention Director, a position I created a few years ago to coordinate city-wide efforts, and she was also the Director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, an agency which runs most of our violence prevention programming.
Traffic Enforcement and Safe Streets Council Hearing
Last week, I held a public oversight roundtable on the District’s efforts to curb dangerous driving. It's a top concern I hear from neighbors, and our data on crashes and high-risk corridors tell a troubling story. One of my main concerns is that the District's response isn't well-coordinated or urgent, which lets repeat dangerous drivers jeopardize public safety without consequences.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in the many ways the District failed to keep Nakita Walker from being legally able to get behind the wheel, the woman who has been arrested after fleeing a police stop and tragically killing three people in a car crash in Rock Creek Park earlier this year. Someone who has had multiple DUIs and DWIs across the region should not still have a valid driver’s license. As we asked how this could have happened at the roundtable, it became clear there’s a major issue at the DMV with suspending licenses following a criminal conviction. I've sent letters to the Superior Court and DMV to better understand the suspension process and identify gaps on the DMV's side.
The roundtable also focused on broader failings with enforcement, particularly given the District’s heavy reliance on automated traffic enforcement cameras. A major challenge remains reaching an agreement with Maryland and Virginia on what it would take to implement ticket reciprocity (basically, you wouldn’t be able to renew your license without having paid any outstanding tickets across all three states). Of course, I’ll note your ability to pay a fine doesn't mean you're a safer driver. Accountability doesn't just mean paying the ticket; it means changing behavior. Another strategy might be to rethink how and where we deploy our DPW tow trucks and boot crews, one of the best modes of enforcement we have against dangerous drivers who try to skirt accountability.
This is an area you're going to see me lead on, including drafting legislation to strengthen the District’s focus on dangerous drivers. More on the hearing from DCist.
Related: I recently went on a traffic safety walk with Ward 7 ANC commissioners and residents along East Capitol Street. As they were quick to point out, the road's design invites people to drive dangerously -- and they do so every hour of the day. This is exactly the kind of thoroughfare where we should be making immediate changes to street design. Thanks to all those neighbors for having me, and if there are other intersections you'd like my team to see first-hand, please let me know.
Weigh in on the Better Bus Project for Ward 6 Routes and Join Me for a Community Town Hall on June 14
As I wrote in the last newsletter, WMATA is in the process of a massive redesign of our bus network across the region for the first time in 50 years. I want to hear from you on what you think about the proposed routes. The Better Bus Network Redesign will include modified and new routes, upgraded facilities, added bus lanes, and more. It's a huge undertaking, but I'm excited that WMATA is thinking big about how to ensure our bus system is keeping up with our fast-changing city and region to improve accessibility, frequency, and safety. While WMATA has done a solid job of providing plenty of digestible explainers, an overhaul of this scale requires feedback and input from those who will be most impacted — you! I strongly encourage you to dive into the links below to learn more about the plan, and provide your feedback through WMATA's interactive comment map for specific routes. I'll also be preparing a formal letter with WMATA with your and my recommendations — so please fill out this form to share your thoughts.
- Better Bus Network Project Overview
- New Trip Simulator
- Draft map of new high-frequency routes in the District
- Draft map of regional 24-hour service routes
- "Your guide to Metro’s Better Bus Network redesign" from Greater Greater Washington
Additionally, I'm planning to hold two events: a Council roundtable on the entire plan on Thursday, June 8, at 9:30am (watch live here) and a community town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 14 from 7:30–8:30pm focused on the details of the Better Bus Network Redesign and how it will impact Ward 6. Location for the town hall is TBD, but you can go ahead and RSVP on my website and receive an update when we have a spot confirmed.
Kick Off Pride Month on Barracks Row!
It's June, which means it's Pride Month! You can kick off the month with DPR and Barracks Row Main Street with a Pride concert and carnival this weekend at Eastern Market Metro Park. The concert is this Friday, June 2, from 5-6:30pm (you can head over right after stopping by my Barracks Row office hours at as you are. at 4pm), and the carnival will take place Saturday, June 3 from 12-3pm. I'll also be marching with a Council contingent in the Pride Parade downtown in the afternoon of the 10th, so call out for beads as I walk by!
DPW Fort Totten Transfer Station is Re-Opening
Starting next Tuesday, June 6, DPW's Fort Totten Transfer Station at 4900 John McCormack Rd NE will reopen after a year of construction. The redesigned station has a new residential drop-off platform to facilitate safer and cleaner disposal of trash, recyclables, bulk items, yard waste, metal, tires, and appliances. The Benning Road Station will close this Sunday, June 4.
Capitol Hill Area Sidewalk Survey
ANC6A, ANC6B, ANC6C, and Capitol Hill Village want to learn more about your experience with the sidewalks on Capitol Hill. Take this survey to share your input on sidewalk conditions, falls, injuries, and anything that could be done to improve our sidewalks. The data will be used to inform safety and repair requests to DDOT. Individual answers won't be linked to your email address or other identifying information. The entire survey can be responded to anonymously and should take fewer than 5 minutes. Please share the survey with your neighbors, too.
Outdoor Movie Nights
Looking for some free outdoor fun this summer? Check out these upcoming outdoor summer movie nights with the CiNoMatic movie series in NoMa and Sunset Cinema at the Wharf.
CiNoMatic Screen Series (Alethia Tanner Park)
- Every Thursday until Labor Day
Eastern Market Friday Night Jazz Concerts
Two of the best summer jazz concert series are back at Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Barracks Row! Come out to EMMP every Friday from 5-6:30pm for “Live, on The Hill.” And on the first Friday of every month, come for Jazz First Fridays on 8th Street, with live shows at various Barracks Row locations every month.
Live Go-Go in June on the Roof of MLK Library
June is Black Music Month, and to celebrate, MLK Library is hosting free Go-Go concerts on its rooftop garden throughout the month of June! The Go-Go on the Rooftop concert series will take place on June 4, 11, and 18 from 2-4pm and feature the bands Sirius Company, Rare Essence, and Black Alley.
One Minute Clinic at Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center
There will be a free “One Minute Clinic” on June 10th at the Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center at 901 A Street, NE. This is a chance to meet with doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and mental health providers and to get your vitals checked. The clinic is free, no registration is needed, and simply walk up from 9am-12pm.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's National Park Service Town Hall
On June 14, from 6-7:30pm, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is holding a virtual Town Hall Meeting for constituents with representatives from the National Park Service to answer questions and address concerns about federal park land in the District and preview some NPS summer programming. If you can't attend, you can submit comments by filling out the registration form. The recording will also be shared with those who register.
Southwest Waterfront Village Art of Ages Exhibit
Don't miss the opportunity to check out art from seniors in the Navy Yard and Southwest communities on June 9 and 10 at the Waterfront Village. Details and RSVP here.
Talking Climate Change, Energy, and Transportation w/ Students
Last week I was invited to speak with 11th graders at Edmond Burke School about environmental justice, how the DC Council works, questions about bike lanes and making it safer to ride, and even questions about single-family zoning and the way policy and laws get passed at the Council. I really enjoyed the conversation and, as is the case any time I get to speak with students, I felt hopeful for the next generation. If I can ever come meet with your school or a group, I'm happy to try and make it work.
Come Chat with Me at Barracks Row Office Hours this Friday
Thanks to everyone who stopped by our Mount Vernon Triangle community office hours last week! We're excited to be coming out again this Friday, June 2, at as you are. on Barracks Row from 4-5:30pm. Swing by to chat with me and my team about anything that's on your mind, or just say hello and Happy Pride! You can RSVP on my website.
Whew, that's enough from me. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!
See you around the neighborhood,