As always, I want to update you on what is happening at the Council and in our community. Check out the Council’s action this week, public safety updates, the latest on school boundary changes, leaf collection news (Petworth and Brightwood Park, you’re next), the start of 24-7 MetroBus service, applications opening for the DC School Lottery, Ward 4 events, and more!
Passing the Work Order Integrity Act
During my readiness tours and visits to schools, I often see the frustration caused when work orders for needed repairs are mistakenly marked as complete without the work being done. It is not uncommon for a long-awaited work order to be closed without the school being notified, meaning the school is left waiting for fixes that are no longer even on DGS’ radar. And in some cases, important maintenance is delayed because work orders are repeatedly closed with insufficient evidence — like a post-it note saying “DONE.” At Tuesday’s legislative meeting, we took a major step in addressing these issues by passing the Work Order Integrity Act. Our bill empowers school staff to confirm if work orders were completed properly and improves communication between schools, DCPS, DGS, and DGS’ contractors. Under the Work Order Integrity Act, school-level staff will have 14 days to confirm if repairs at their school were done properly or not. And if school staff do not respond or do not have the needed expertise, DGS will be required to review the work order and confirm it was completed.
Our legislation also addresses issues we uncovered through oversight. School staff currently have varying levels of training and access to Salesforce — preventing many from being able to even track DGS work orders for their school. That is why our bill requires annual Salesforce training for relevant school staff. Additionally, years ago DCPS and DGS created a notification system so school staff could receive updates on work orders at their school. But we discovered that these distribution lists stopped being updated as staff members left or joined new schools — meaning most school staff stopped receiving relevant updates on work orders altogether. Our bill requires these lists to stay updated every year. I am grateful that this bill was co-introduced and passed by my colleagues unanimously, and that DGS has already recognized some of these issues and is taking steps to address them. When our school communities need repairs, they deserve certainty that the work will get done.
Closing DC’s Minimum Wage Loophole
On Tuesday, we also passed my legislation to close a major loophole in DC’s minimum wage law that allows some companies to still pay their workers poverty wages. DC’s minimum wage currently only applies to workers who work a majority of their hours inside the District. Some companies — especially in construction, custodial services, and retail — rotate workers between job sites in and out of DC to keep them under that 50% threshold and deny them a living wage. As a result, many of the workers who keep our city running have been making poverty-level wages for years despite DC having one of the highest minimum wages in the nation ($17 per hour). The Minimum Wage Clarification Act closes this loophole by expanding DC’s minimum wage protections to apply to all workers who work at least 2 hours per week in DC. Thank you to Councilmember Anita Bonds for advancing this bill through the Council’s Committee on Labor, and congratulations to the workers who led the fight for this change. Both this bill and the Work Order Integrity Act (described above) will become law after their second vote before the full Council and the required Congressional review period.
Council Action: 911 Call Center, Salary Transparency, and Prosecutions
Here is a quick recap of other actions the Council took this week on several issues:
- We passed emergency legislation authorizing retired firefighters and police officers to be hired as temporary OUC call-takers and dispatchers without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. This measure will help address the serious hiring shortages at DC’s 911 Call Center and bring in staff who are already familiar with our dispatching system.
- We passed a permanent bill on the first of two required votes to boost salary transparency by requiring most employers to post minimum and maximum salary ranges in all job postings, requiring them to provide a full list of job benefits to applications prior to their first interview, and prohibiting them from requesting a potential employee’s wage history or screening them on that basis.
- We officially named a new alley in Petworth between Georgia & 9th Street & Crittenden & Buchanan NW after distinguished DC artist Elizabeth Catlett. There was strong community support for this designation, including a unanimous ANC 4D resolution.
- We hosted US Attorney Matthew Graves during our legislative breakfast to identify ways to have USAO bring charges consistently when crimes are committed in our communities. We discussed having DC provide funding to increase their evidence testing capacity while DC’s crime lab remains decertified, as well as increasing coordination between MPD and USAO so officers can make the types of arrests and gun recoveries that make for stronger cases in court.
Stay tuned for more legislative action as we approach the end of the calendar year!
New Real-Time Regional Crime Center
This week MPD and other local and federal law enforcement agencies launched a new partnership to combat crime: a Real Time Crime Center where agencies will be able to monitor closed-circuit camera footage, emergency calls, and other technology in real time to monitor and respond to criminal activities in real time. The new center, which is modeled on similar centers in other cities, allows law enforcement to begin addressing crimes as soon as they are reported — rather than later when an officer arrives at the scene. Once it opens in February, the new center has the potential to improve crime prevention in several ways. First, the real-time data and regional collaboration between law enforcement agencies will help DC better address ‘crimes of opportunity’ like robberies, carjackings, and car break-ins where suspects move in and out of DC to evade law enforcement. By monitoring closed-circuit cameras and other data, MPD can also cover more ground at a time when the agency is struggling to recruit more officers. In order for the new Real Time Crime Center to be successful, we need to have enough cameras in place to ensure they are deterring crime and capturing valuable evidence that can help close cases. Since early last year, I have been working to address coverage gaps in Ward 4 — funding six new CCTV cameras for our community in the FY23 budget. At the same time, MPD has also been increasing its investments in cameras significantly. Since this summer, we have more than doubled the number of CCTV cameras at Fourth District with more on the way. I will also work to ensure the necessary safeguards are in place so that the Real Time Crime Center is focused on addressing crime without infringing on neighbors’ reasonable expectation to privacy.
School Boundary December Town Halls
Next week, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education will be hosting three town halls on future changes to school boundaries and student assignments. Community members will have the chance to review and provide feedback on different scenarios that are being considered for changes to DCPS boundaries, feeders, and student assignments. Although these scenarios have not been published yet, we know there are options being considered that could affect Ward 4 families when it comes to issues like feeder rights, dual language schools, and school building expansions. The town halls will take place on Tuesday, December 12 from 6pm-8pm at Anacostia High School, on Wednesday, December 13 from 6pm-8pm virtually, and on Thursday from 12pm-2pm virtually. Please RSVP at this link if you plan to participate. Thank you to Vanessa Rubio, Diana Delgado, Julie Patton Lawson, and Cathy Reilly for thoughtfully representing Ward 4 and DC families on the Advisory Committee on Student Assignment and Boundaries. Join one of the town halls next week to weigh in!
Feet on the Street: Improving Safety for Students
Our Whittier, Ida B Wells, and Coolidge school communities are asking for community support with improving safety in the area around the schools by getting “feet on the street.” The new initiative calls on neighbors to have an active presence in the neighborhood by going for a walk, taking out their dog, riding their bike, or sitting on their porch on weekdays between 8am-10am and 3pm-5pm when students are coming and going from school until December 21. If neighbors see something suspicious, they should call 911 or text 50411 immediately. My team and I will be supporting this important community-led effort to improve safety for students.
24-hour MetroBus Service Begins December 17
This week WMATA announced that the launch of 24-hour MetroBus service will begin on the evening of Sunday, December 17. Between 9am-7pm, MetroBus will operate every 20 minutes or better along 14 key routes: A6, A8, B2, H4, S2, V2, W4, X2, 32, 33, 52, 70, 80, and the 92. Each ride will cost $2, riders will be allowed ‘courtesy stops’ so they can get off closer to their destination, and Metro Transit Police will be available 24/7 to enhance safety. This was an important investment we made in the DC budget to expand access to public transit, especially for late-night and early-morning essential workers in hospitality and healthcare. Read WMATA’s full announcement for more details.
Attend EdFest for Grades 9-12 this Saturday
EdFest is DC’s annual public school fair. EdFest for Grades 9-12 is taking place this Saturday, December 9 from 10am-1pm at Eastern High School. Representatives from DCPS schools and public charter schools will be there to highlight their programs and answer your questions.
MySchoolDC Lottery Opens this Monday
This Monday, December 11 applications will open for the MySchoolDC Lottery, where families will have the opportunity to apply for DCPS and PCS schools for next school year ranging from PK3 through Grade 12. Families will have until February 1 to submit high school applications and until March 1 for PK3–Grade 8. Visit the MySchoolDC website for more information.
New Speeding and Stop Cameras in Ward 4
DDOT recently announced new traffic enforcement cameras across DC, including new speeding cameras on the 5500 block of North Capitol Street NW (southbound), the 5400 block of South Dakota Ave NE (northbound), the 3900 block of Georgia Ave NW (southbound), the 4900 block of Georgia Ave NW (southbound), the 5400 block of Georgia Ave NW (northbound), and the 5700 block of Georgia Ave NW. DDOT is also installing new stop sign cameras at 13th & Randolph NW (southbound), 13th & Madison NW (southbound), 5th & Webster NW (southbound), and 13th & Quincy NW (northbound). For new cameras, warnings are sent out instead of tickets for the first 30 days, and then tickets start being issued. Please remember to drive cautiously to avoid tickets and improve safety for all road users. You can find the full list and learn more from DDOT’s November and December announcements.
Improving DC PLUG Operations
I share neighbors’ frustration with how construction has been managed under the DC PLUG Project, including the lack of communication about upcoming work, burdens on schools, and unnecessarily disruptive construction. In response to these issues, I have worked with DDOT and the project team to make some initial improvements. The project team now has a dedicated contact to address constituent inquiries: Ann Walters (email@example.com). There is also a DC PLUG hotline (844-758-4146) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) where residents can ask questions directly. DC PLUG has also started releasing a three-week preview to give neighbors more notice of upcoming work. We will continue pushing for improvements in both communication and in making the work less disruptive for neighbors.
Run for ANC in SMD 4B10 in Riggs Park
We still have an ANC Commissioner vacancy in Single Member District 4B10 in Riggs Park. If you live in this area and are interested in serving your community, please consider running for ANC. Petitions to run can be picked up from the DC Board of Elections starting December 11.
Holiday Toy Drive in Manor Park
In Manor Park, 4B06 Commissioner Tiffani Johnson is organizing a Holiday Toy Drive for Manor Park youth. New toys can be dropped off at 5806 3rd Street NW (in the box on the porch) anytime through December 15.
Free Rapid COVID Tests at DC Libraries
DC residents can now pick up free rapid COVID tests at DC libraries during their regular operating hours, including our local Petworth, Takoma, Chevy Chase, Juanita E Thornton/Shepherd Park, and Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J Huff libraries. Check out the full list of libraries with free rapid COVID tests. Distribution is expected to continue until March.
Consumer Alert: Retailers Must Treat SNAP Customers Equally
This week DC Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb issued a consumer alert to DC residents reminding them that retailers must treat SNAP customers equally. Retailers may not charge a transaction fee, set a minimum transaction fee, require a minimum SNAP card balance, or require a pre-purchase SNAP card balance inquiry for customers paying with SNAP. If you know of SNAP retailers in DC that are not following the law, report it by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 202-442-9828, emailing email@example.com, or filing an online complaint.
DC Private Security Camera Incentive Program
If you haven’t yet, please consider taking advantage of DC’s Private Security Camera System Incentive Program, which helps cover the cost for DC residents, businesses, non-profits and religious institutions to install security camera systems on their property. Cameras can help deter crime and aid with law enforcement investigations if a crime occurs.
Leaf Collection Starts in Petworth and Brightwood Park
On Monday, December 11, leaf collection will begin in Section 4D, which includes Brightwood Park and Petworth east of Georgia Avenue. So if you live in this area, please plan to rake your leaves on your tree box, curb, or easement by Sunday, December 10. DPW will also collect leaves in paper bags, but they will not collect leaves in plastic bags. If you live in Section 4C — Takoma, Manor Park, South Manor Park, Lamond, or Riggs Park — and your leaves are not collected by the end of this weekend, please submit a 311 request for ‘Leaf Collection Missed’ and include a photo. All neighborhoods will get two rounds of leaf collection.
Annual Crestwood Holiday Party
On Friday, December 8 from 6:30pm-9:30pm the Crestwood Citizens Association will host its annual Crestwood Holiday Party at the National Conservatory of Arts (4408 16th St NW). The event will feature live entertainment, finger foods, and drinks — and neighbors are welcome to bring a favorite dish or dessert. Please RSVP if you plan to attend!
Ward 4 School PTO Holiday Craft Fair
On Saturday, December 9 from 10am-1pm several Ward 4 school PTOs are teaming up for a Ward 4 PTO Holiday Craft Fair at John Lewis Elementary (1335 Farragut St NW). Come enjoy food, drinks, kids activities, and lots of crafts while supporting our John Lewis, Brightwood, Dorothy Height, Powell, Takoma, Truesdell, and MacFarland local schools.
Miracle on Upshur! Upshur Holiday Craft Fair
On Saturday, December 9 from 11am-4pm the annual Upshur Street Craft Fair will take place on the 800 block of Upshur Street NW. Come enjoy local artists and makers, a Gingerbread House Contest, a Pop-Up Holiday Lounge with delicious wintery treats, amazing activities by Upshur Street businesses, and an appearance from Santa from 11am-2pm!
Hellbender Brewery Holiday Market
On Saturday, December 9 from 1pm-7pm Hellbender Brewery (5788 2nd Street NE) will host a free holiday market featuring jewelry, candles, art, pottery, gifts, and sweet treats from local vendors, as well as music, food trucks, and plenty of beer.
Lamond Community Action Holiday Social
On Saturday, December 9 from 1pm-2:30pm the Lamond Community Action Group will host a social event and holiday drive at Lamond Rec Center (20 Tuckerman St NE) with music by DJ Barry Parks, light refreshments, and gift cards donated to CFSA’s foster child program.
LRCA Family Holiday Movie and Fun Day
On Sunday, December 10 from 2pm-4:30pm the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association will host a Family Holiday Movie and Fun Day at Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library (5401 South Dakota Ave NE) with hot chocolate, cider, popcorn, and neighborly company.
Treehouse Neighborhood Meet and Greet
On Sunday, December 10 from 3pm-5pm Treehouse Dreamers — a mixed-use arts and music venue in Sixteenth Street Heights — is hosting a meet-and-greet event for the neighborhood to get to know their team, learn about their yoga, music, and dance programs, and to spread holiday cheer. Swing by at 4722 14th Street NW!
Metropolitan Branch Trail Happy Hour with DDOT
On Monday, December 11 from 5pm-7pm the Friends of the Metropolitan Branch Trail will host a happy hour at Wunder Garten (1101 First St NE) with DDOT officials Mike Alvino and Samer Alhawamdeh. The event may not be in Ward 4 — but this is a critical project for Ward 4.
Holiday Toy Drive for Truesdell Families
On Tuesday, December 12 from 6pm-8pm Moreland’s Tavern (5501 14th St NW) will host a Holiday Toy Drive for Truesdell Elementary families who need presents for the holiday season. Neighbors who bring a toy for children ages 3-12 will receive a free drink.
Brightwood Community Association Holiday Party
On Tuesday, December 12 from 7pm-8:30pm the Brightwood Community Association (BCA) will host its Annual Holiday Party & Raffle at St. John United Baptist Church (6343 13th St NW). The event will also feature a raffle with a 58-inch Smart TV and other prizes.
DPR Holiday Party at Shepherd Community Center
On Friday, December 15 from 3:30pm-6pm DPR will host a community holiday celebration at Shepherd Park Community Center (1425 Jonquil St NW). All are welcome!
Opening Reception: “Her” by Redeat “Red” Wondemu
On Friday, December 15 from 7pm-10pm Art of Noize Gallery in Petworth (821 Upshur St NW, rear) will host a free opening reception for “Her,” a new exhibit featuring the platinum & cyanotype photography of Redeat “Red” Wondemu that will be on display through January 20.
DC Tutoring and Mentoring at Zeke’s Coffee
On Saturday, December 16 from 11am-12pm the DC Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative (DCTMI) will host an event at Zeke’s Coffee in Sixteenth Street Heights (4602 14th St NW) for neighbors to learn about volunteer opportunities to support DC students. DCTMI pairs elementary, middle, and high school students with tutors and mentors — and encourages community members to take an active role in supporting our youth. RSVP on Eventbrite!
NEW DATE: Live Nativity and Petting Zoo
On Saturday, December 16 from 3:30pm-5:30pm Simpson-Hamline United Methodist Church will host a Live Nativity and Petting Zoo on its lawn at 16th & Allison NW. They will have live animals, music, warm treats, and space to gather in fellowship. The church will remain open during the event so neighbors can also check out the building. RSVP on Facebook.
Petworth Community Cleanup
On Saturday, December 16 from 12pm-2pm join 4C01 Commissioner Casey Swegman, 4E01 Commissioner Vanessa Rubio, our Ward 4 Council Office, students, and neighbors to clean the area around Roosevelt, MacFarland, Petworth Library and Upshur Street. Meet by the Petworth Library front steps at noon — grabbers, gloves, and trash bags will be provided.
Ward 4 in the News
Washington City Paper: Bowser Opts to Ignore the Law, Raiding Money for Increased SNAP Benefits Mandated by the Council
Next Stop… Riggs Park: Update on the Metropolitan Branch Trail South Manor Off-street Alignment and Its Takoma Segment
Petworth News: Volunteer for the Uptown Pride Planning Committee!
Next Stop… Riggs Park: Run for ANC 4B10 Seat in Riggs Park and Lamond
DCist: Looking Glass Lounge Will Stay Open After Reaching a Deal With Landlord
Afro News: DC Go-Go Legend Bo Sampson Reflects on 30-year Career in Entertainment
The Wash: Rock Creek Conservancy Series Highlights Ugly Past of a Beautiful Space
Petworth Market: Join the Petworth Farmers Market Board of Directors
Hillrag: Unlocked — Failing Security at DC Public Schools
Washington Post: DC Schools Bar Students from Classrooms for Missing Vaccines
WTOP: DC Councilmember Says Her Plan Would Improve 911 Response
WMATA: Plan Ahead for Red Line Construction on December 18-30
Washington City Paper: Despite Fearmongering and Congressional Pushback, DC Could Soon Have Its First Noncitizen Elected Official
DPR and DGS: Update on Crestwood Triangle Park Construction
DCist: Proposed Law Aims To Prevent Slumlords From Renting Out More Apartments
Ward 4 Dispatch: Social Housing, Safety Updates, and Holiday Markets!
This week I’m sharing warm wishes for a Happy Hanukkah to our community and across the District. May each candle that we light on the Menorah kindle hope, wonder, and unity for the upcoming year. Chag urim sameach.
Have a great weekend, neighbors. See you at one of our awesome holiday events coming up soon in Ward 4!
Yours in Community,