I hope the week wrapped up well for you and that you have fun plans for the weekend! My newsletter this week focuses on our Ward 4 Senior Jubilee, which is coming up this Wednesday! I also detail three new simple but important bills that I introduced this week to address constituent headaches. And I share important updates on the bivalent COVID booster for children ages 5-11, the Monkeypox clinic, ballot drop boxes, and DC paid family leave. And of course, we have a full sweep of great events happening in Ward 4 in the coming days.
Ward 4 and Legislative News
New Bills: Work Orders, Swing Spaces, and Paper Alleys
As your Councilmember, my role is not only to deliver constituent services — but also to take legislative action to address constituent issues and make government work better. Over the summer, my team drafted a handful of bills that tackle some of these issues I hear repeatedly about from neighbors. You’ve already heard from me about two of those bills: legislation to halt the unilateral removal of public litter cans from our neighborhoods and to provide equal access to public indoor pools on weekends. This week, I introduced the other three bills we worked on:
School Work Order Integrity Act: Some legislation is complex, but this one is simple: my new bill requires DGS to get approval from a school staff member (like a principal or foreman) before closing a work order in their school. For two years now, I’ve visited every Ward 4 DCPS school to review maintenance issues that need to be addressed before students return. The most common issue principals, staff, and teachers raise is work orders being closed without a permanent fix or even any work done at all. School leaders shared that contractors often come to their buildings to observe an issue and decide that it’s best fixed by school staff or another contractor. But rather than communicating their findings with the school, they simply close out the ticket without telling anyone. This causes long delays where the school assumes an issue is in the process of being fixed, but DGS considers the issue resolved. I have also seen work orders closed when only temporary patchwork measures were installed – rather than addressing the underlying cause of an issue. These work order discrepancies delay important repairs to inoperable HVAC systems and leaky roofs or drag out smaller issues for months. Broken playground equipment, water fountains and door locks can go a year without repair if the corresponding work order is prematurely closed. This bill will improve coordination between schools, DCPS, and DGS — and will help prevent repairs from falling through the cracks.
Swing Space Transportation Support Act: This bill updates a little-known but impactful policy in our school system. Each year, several DCPS schools undergo modernization or major capital renovations. During that time, the school moves to a temporary site known as a “swing space” until the work is done. DCPS’ current swing space transportation policy is to only provide free transportation for students if the swing space is both outside the school’s neighborhood boundaries and more than a mile from the school’s regular address. But a mile is not really a walkable distance. We’ve seen schools hit hard when moved to a distant swing space without transportation. One DCPS school recently undergoing modernization had its enrollment plummet by 18% (!) after being assigned to a swing space a mile away from its building without transportation support. Other DCPS schools slated for modernization face a similar risk if this policy remains in place: Tubman Elementary in Ward 1, as well as Drew Elementary, Nalle Elementary, MLK Jr Elementary and Hart Middle School — depending on where DCPS builds the modural complexes in Wards 7 and 8. Truesdell Elementary’s future swing space will also be a mile from the current building. This bill requires DCPS to budget for transportation if a swing space is located more than a half mile from a DCPS school.
Paper Alleys Planning Act: Is there an unkept gravel or dirt alley in your neighborhood? These are “paper” alleys — DC-owned alleys that only exist on paper and aren’t regularly maintained. In some cases, paper alleys can be unsafe to be on, exacerbate public safety issues and illegal dumping, and cause blight. DC has at least 45 paper alleys, but we’re only on track to address one or two of these alleys per year. I introduced the Paper Alleys Planning Act with Councilmembers Trayon White and Councilmember Silverman to require DDOT to develop a plan and budget by March 2024 to improve all of DC’s paper alleys — starting from high-usage alleys and alleys in under-resourced communities.
The DC Council has a legislative session this coming Tuesday, so next week I’ll report on actions taken there. I also want to share a reminder to sign up to speak at the Council’s hearing on the Green New Deal for Social Housing on Thursday, November 17 (a month away!) by emailing your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, next Friday, October 21 at 2:30pm will be the hearing on the CLEAN Collections Act. I introduced this bill to address trash overflow and rodent infestation across the District by requiring adequate trash and recycling cans and more regular waste collection in multifamily buildings. Neighbors have until Wednesday at 5pm to sign up to speak at the hearing.
Ward 4 Senior Jubilee on Wednesday, October 19
I’m excited that our Ward 4 Senior Jubilee event is finally upon us! On Wednesday, October 19 from 1pm-3pm my team and I will be hosting our Ward 4 seniors at Fort Stevens Rec Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) in Brightwood! Join us for an afternoon of music, dancing, prizes, vendors, a resource fair, and more! After a period of separation and isolation due to the pandemic, I’m grateful for the opportunity for us to come together and be in community. Please remember to RSVP by filling out this form or calling my office at 202-724-8052 to reserve your spot. I’m looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday!
DC Ballot Drop Boxes Open Today!
Last week, the DC Board of Elections started mailing out ballots for the 2022 DC General Election to all registered voters in DC. Residents can check their voter registration status and address at this link, and they can register to vote or update their registration at this link. Today, 55 mail ballot drop boxes across the District opened, and residents can also return their completed ballot by mail or in person at any voting center. Early voting will run from October 31 to November 6, and General Election Day is November 8, 2022. Here is a guide with all the information you need on voting this year!
COVID Bivalent Booster Soon Available for Children Ages 5-11
Bivalent boosters are now recommended for all individuals 5 years of age or older if it has been at least two months since they have completed their primary vaccination series, or at least two months since they received a previous booster dose. Yesterday, DC Health announced that the bivalent booster will soon be available for newly eligible age groups at all DC COVID Centers as well as all DC Health pop-up, mobile, in-home, and community vaccination locations. The Moderna bivalent booster, which was previously available to people 18 and older, will become available to children ages 6–17 beginning on Friday, October 14. The Pfizer bivalent booster, which was previously available to people 12 and up, becomes available to children ages 5–11 on Monday, October 17.
Monkeypox Vaccine Clinics Move to COVID Centers in Wards 2, 3, and 8
Effective Saturday, October 15, DC’s Monkeypox vaccine clinics (including the Ward 4 clinic) are moving to the COVID Centers in Ward 2, Ward 3, and Ward 8. The Monkeypox vaccine will continue to be available for first and second doses without an appointment at these three centers. DC has had a steep decline in new Monkeypox cases since the July peak because eligible residents are choosing to get vaccinated, so if you’re eligible please get your shot!
DC Public Library Evil Laugh Contest!
As we firmly enter spooky season, it’s time to submit your nomination for the DC Public Library’s Evil Laugh Contest. All you need to do is submit a 10-second video of yourself doing your most wicked, spine-tingling evil laugh by October 21. Prizes will be distributed and a mash-up video of the best entries will be released for everyone’s enjoyment.
Important Note on DC Paid Family Leave Expansion
On October 1, the maximum number of benefit weeks in a year increased to 12 weeks for parental, medical, and family leave. Claimants who filed a claim before October 1 and wish to receive additional weeks should submit a new claim for benefits as long as the additional requested weeks occur after September 25, 2022. Existing claims cannot be amended to include the additional weeks.
Community Clean Up in Crestwood
On Saturday, October 15 at 9am, 4A08 Commissioner Khoobchandani and Crestwood Citizen Association Treasurer Carey Dematteis are teaming up for trash cleanup of Lower Blagden Avenue and the Triangle in Crestwood. They’ll provide gloves and trash bags, so you just need to bring yourself. RSVP at this link.
Takoma Sidewalk Fun for Sidewalk Palooza
On Saturday, October 15 at 2pm 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer and 4B01 Commissioner Evan Yeats will host a Sidewalk Palooza event outside of Takoma Elementary School. They’ll meet with neighbors outside of Takoma Elementary School to walk, talk, and sidewalk chalk about pedestrian safety and infrastructure. There will be events and goodies for kids and families. Come to document Takoma’s pedestrian infrastructure needs and build community.
Fall Festival Block Party on 13th & Quincy NW
On Saturday, October 15 from 3pm-7pm neighbors around 13th and Quincy NW are organizing a Fall Festival Block Party with music, games, and food. If you live in the neighborhood, come out to celebrate with your neighbors and bring food to grill. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Percussion Performance at Takoma Park Library
On Saturday, October 15 at 3pm-3:45pm the Takoma Public Library (416 Cedar Street NW) will host a percussion music performance by the Luis Garay Percussion World duo. The library will open at 10am that day and offer many activities that honor Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as craft opportunities and refreshment. Thank you to the Friends of Takoma Park Library for helping bring this event together!
Final Movies on the Lawn at the Parks at Water Reed
On Saturday, October 15 from 4:30pm-9pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host a free family STEAM outing with delicious food, snacks, and craft beverages provided by local vendors, as well as a huge screen for the whole crowd to enjoy. There will be a STEAM play area and showcase at 4:30pm-6:30pm, a screening of ENCANTO at 6:30pm, and a short film screening of DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World at 8:30pm. Blankets will be available (if the ground isn’t too wet). Bring your own chairs, picnics, and popcorn to enjoy this family-friendly lineup.
Ward 4 Senior Jubilee at Fort Stevens!
On Wednesday, October 19 from 1pm-3pm I will be hosting our Ward 4 Senior Jubilee Festival from 1pm-3pm at Fort Stevens Recreation Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) in Brightwood! I’m inviting Ward 4 senior citizens to join us for an afternoon of live music, dancing, food, and a senior-focused resource fair. Sign up here to attend or call my office at 202-724-8052 to reserve your spot.
Community Open House on Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Project
On Thursday, October 20 from 11am-1pm 4C07 Commissioner Paul Johnson will host a community open house on the Georgia Ave Bus Priority Project at First Baptist Church (712 Randolph St NW). Residents will be able to share their input and ideas on the initial project design for streamlined bus service and safety upgrades on Georgia Ave with DDOT officials.
And take some time to visit a local Farmers Market:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette Elementary on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm (featuring Tara Hoot and Tater Tot this week for songs and stories)
It’s always a joy to be at the Coolidge Alumni Association Breakfast! There is so much rich history and close ties between the alums, who are always giving back to Coolidge and DC.
Petworth News: Rue Cafe brings coffee and more community to 14th Street
Next Stop Riggs Park: Complete Community Green Space Survey by October 15
Washington City Paper: Vote for your Ward 4 Favorites in Best of DC 2022
DC Fire and EMS: Helpful Tips for Fire Prevention Week
DCist: Scathing Federal Audit Of DCHA Spurs Calls For Reform At Troubled Agency
DCist: Messy Data And Poor Communication Bungle DC School Vaccine Enforcement
DCist: DC Council Could Extend COVID Vaccine Mandate Deadline For Students
Upper Georgia Ave: Join the Main Street’s Holiday Decorating Committee
Press Release: Introducing the Work Order Integrity Act to Improve Repairs at Schools
Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Legislative Recap, Weekend Pool Access, and Down in the Reeds
This week I was also grateful for the chance to give away gift cards and school supplies to Roosevelt students with the Friends of Carter Barron and our SBOE Rep, Frazier O’ Leary!
In closing, I want to give a shoutout to Down in the Reeds for an incredible festival last weekend! Thank you to Chris Naoum and every organizer, artist, worker, volunteer, sponsor, vendor, and attendee who played a part in the day. It was a true tribute to transformative power of art and music to bring people together across communities and across cultures.
Stay tuned for next week’s update, which will include our Halloween events in Ward 4!
Yours in Service,