Bowser quipped that it seemed she was Trump’s new obsession — “living in his head, and apparently there’s a lot of empty room in there ... just like tonight’s half-empty Tulsa arena.”
D.C. Election Officials Say They Lost 1,100 Absentee Ballot Requests Ahead Of June 2 Primary
By Martin Austermuhle, DCist, June 19, 2020
At least 1,100 requests for absentee ballots were lost by the D.C. Board of Elections ahead of the city’s June 2 primary, forcing hundreds of voters to cast ballots in-person while others apparently did not vote at all.
The revelation came during a D.C. Council hearing on Friday, where members of the public complained about multiple problems ahead of and during the primary — from missing absentee ballots to hourslong waits at polling places on Election Day — and election officials tried to explain to exasperated lawmakers why things went wrong and how to prevent a repeat during November’s general election.
DC Council unanimously approves sweeping police reforms in emergency legislation
The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to approve emergency legislation that includes sweeping police reforms.
The police reform legislation put forward by Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen prohibits neck restraints, or “chokeholds” — moves the D.C. Council declared lethal force, “an unnecessary danger to the public” and limited in 1986.
D.C. Council Approves $5 Million In Funding For Undocumented Workers Impacted By Coronavirus Crisis
By Andrew Giambrone, DCist, June 9, 2020
Two months after Events DC, the District’s sports, entertainment, and conventions authority, set aside $5 million for undocumented workers who were laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the D.C. Council on Tuesday approved the contract that enables the money to get into those workers’ hands.
The action came during a meeting of the D.C. Council at which lawmakers ratified various legal changes meant to alleviate the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis. The contract authorizes the Greater Washington Community Foundation to manage the $5 million so that it’s disbursed, via local nonprofit organizations, to undocumented families, many of whom work in the region’s hospitality industry. That industry, including hotels, restaurants, and event firms, has seen severe damage because of the pandemic.
The Cybersecurity 202: D.C.’s use of email voting shows what could go wrong in November
Joseph Marks and Tonya Riley, The Washington Post, June 4, 2020
The District of Columbia’s last-minute decision to allow voting by email in this week’s primary is sounding warning bells for election security hawks.
The practice puts election results at higher risk of hacking because there’s no way for voters to verify their votes were recorded accurately, they say.
And the scramble is a disturbing preview of how election officials beset by challenges may bargain away security if they’re not better prepared by November.
D.C. Officials Say They’re Demanding Answers On Long Lines And Lost Ballots On Election Day
By Martin Austermuhle, DCist, June 4, 2020
The bevy of problems around Tuesday’s D.C. primary—including hours-long lines at the polls and absentee ballots that were never delivered—have prompted calls for accountability, with Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council asking the city’s independent elections board to explain why things went wrong.
Speaking on Wednesday, Bowser—who herself voted in person in Ward 4—called Tuesday’s primary “nothing short of failed execution,” and said she would be asking the D.C. Board of Elections for answers. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who oversees the board, also announced a public hearing on June 19 at which election officials will be asked to testify.
AG Barr Says He May Remove Some Federal Law Enforcement From D.C.
By Jordan Pascale, Ally Schweitzer, Rachel Kurzius, and Andrew Giambrone, WAMU, June 4, 2020
3:28 p.m.: Attorney General William Barr told reporters Thursday that he may pull back some law enforcement from the District now that demonstrations are increasingly peaceful.
Demonstrators and members of the media have pushed back against characterizations of violent protesters, describing the presence of police and military forces as excessive. Barr has been heading up the federal response to D.C. protests from an FBI command center in Chinatown, the Washington Post reports.
Brandon Todd loses his D.C. Council seat, and voters soundly reject Jack Evans
By Fenit Nirappil and Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, June 3, 2020
D.C. voters upended city hall politics in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, ousting an ally of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser in favor of an insurgent left-leaning candidate and ending the political career of a veteran lawmaker tarred by scandal.
D.C. Council member Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4) lost his reelection bid to Janeese Lewis George, a lawyer and self-identified democratic socialist who had been endorsed by her former employer, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D).
Voting problems in D.C., Maryland lead to calls for top officials to resign
By Julie Zauzmer, Jenna Portnoy, and Erin Cox, The Washington Post, June 3, 2020
They called for top elections officials to resign after botched delivery of absentee ballots and hours-long waits at polling places left some voters disenfranchised.
Long Lines at DC Primary Polls Were ‘Failed Execution,' Mayor Says
By Sophia Barnes and NBC Washington Staff, NBC Washington, June 3, 2020
The mayor of Washington, D.C., called long lines at polling sites during the primary election Tuesday a failure. Voters reported waiting for hours at polls and some said they never received mail-in ballots.
“I know that D.C. voters spent hours at the polls yesterday and that is nothing short of failed execution,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Unofficial Election Results: Janeese Lewis George Overtakes Brandon Todd In Ward 4, Brooke Pinto Narrowly Leads In Ward 2
By Rachel Kurzius and Rachel Sadon, DCist, June 3, 2020
After an election night marked by wait times stretching past four or five hours at polling sites, Janeese Lewis George appears to have bested incumbent Brandon Todd in Ward 4 in the Democratic primary, while Brooke Pinto holds an extremely narrow lead in Ward 2, according to unofficial election results that don’t include special and some absentee ballots.
Incumbents Vincent Gray and Trayon White, in wards 7 and 8, appear to be handily holding on to their seats. Both lead by margins of around 2,000 votes.
Bowser ally Brandon Todd loses D.C. Council primary to left-leaning challenger; Evans far behind in Ward 2 race
By Julie Zauzmer and Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post, June 3, 2020
BREAKING: D.C. Council member Brandon T. Todd lost Tuesday’s Democratic primary to challenger Janeese Lewis George, according to preliminary returns, while attorney Brooke Pinto narrowly leads a crowded field for the Ward 2 council seat.
Former council member Jack Evans — who relinquished the Ward 2 seat in January while facing expulsion for ethics violations — trailed far behind in the mostly mail-in primary.
Lost Ballots And Long Lines Mark A Bumpy First Foray Into Vote-By-Mail In D.C.
By Martin Austermuhle, DCist, June 3, 2020
It was an inauspicious start to an election season: Only days after the D.C. Board of Elections announced in late March that it would try and conduct a majority of the June 2 primary by mail, a number of staff members developed COVID-19 symptoms, forcing the board to quickly shutter its offices.
And in the two months that followed, the city’s independent elections office scrambled to piece together a vote-by-mail election that many states implemented over the course of years. It received some 90,000 requests for absentee ballots, a tenfold increase over the prior election cycle.
D.C. Voters Wait Past Midnight To Cast Ballots In Primary Election
By Rachel Kurzius, Dee Dwyer, and Andrew Giambrone, DCist, June 2, 2020
More than four hours after polls closed for D.C.’s primary election, some District voters throughout the city were still waiting in line to cast their ballots, as the June 2 primary stretched into June 3.
At Ida B. Wells Middle School in Ward 4, more than 100 people remained in line to vote as of 11:15 p.m., per Andrea Crooms, a volunteer for the campaign of Ward 4 candidate Janeese Lewis George. Crooms, who voted by mail, says that most people at the polling center are sticking it out—many have been on line since 7 p.m.—and “people are really positive and patient.”
D.C. opens two more coronavirus testing sites, one open to walk-ups
By Adam Zielonka, The Washington Times, June 1, 2020
The District has opened two more COVID-19 testing sites, one of which will accept walk-ups without an appointment required.
The walk-up site opened in Northwest on F Street between 4th and 5th streets.
In D.C.’s Ward 8, Trayon White’s grass-roots activism approach is on the ballot
By Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post, May 31, 2020
No one charts their own way in District politics quite like D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8).
Voters in Ward 8 — the most impoverished, heavily African American part of the city — elected White as their representative in 2016, following a grass-roots campaign in which he vowed to be the “people’s champ.”
Coronavirus upends campaign season as D.C. primary nears
By Lou Chibbaro Jr., Washington Blade, May 29, 2020
Nearly all of the 25 candidates running in D.C.’s June 2 Democratic primary for five D.C. Council seats and three congressional seats have expressed strong support for LGBTQ rights, prompting activists to predict that LGBTQ voters will likely choose a candidate to vote for based on non-LGBTQ issues.
Early voting for the primary began on May 22 and was scheduled to continue each day except Memorial Day on May 25 at 20 voting centers located throughout the city from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The 20 voting centers were scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 2. The location of the voting centers can be found at dcboe.org.
How This Primary Could Shift The Direction Of The D.C. Council
By Rachel Kurzius, DCist, May 28, 2020
D.C. legislators are duking it out over the direction of the D.C. Council this primary season.
On the one side, you have the powerful chairman. In the upcoming D.C. Council primary, Phil Mendelson has endorsed Brandon Todd, the sitting council member in Ward 4, and Patrick Kennedy in Ward 2, the candidate supported by many of the former backers of longtime council member Jack Evans, who resigned in January amid a growing ethics scandal. In making those endorsements, he is joined by At-large Council member and former chair of the local Democratic Party Anita Bonds.
From unions to The Post’s editorial board: An overview of endorsements in DC’s June elections
By Amanda Menas, The DC Line, May 22, 2020
The ethics scandal that prompted Jack Evans to resign from his longtime seat as the Ward 2 council member is just one of the storylines figuring into the upcoming June 2 primary and June 16 special election for the seat. With early voting now open and absentee ballots available on request through May 26, here is a breakdown of endorsements that candidates have secured across the at-large and four council seats on the ballot.
Many are watching the endorsements of progressive groups, as incumbents Brandon Todd and Vincent Gray face challengers from their left, and which candidates are using public financing through the new Fair Elections program. Incumbent Trayon White is participating; Robert White is not but says he will not take contributions from corporations, either.
Endorsements, Voting Changes Ramp Up as D.C. Primary Looms
By James Wright, The Washington Informer, May 20, 2020
The upcoming June 2 primary has produced important endorsements in the ward D.C. Council seat races and changes in the city’s voting system that includes absentee mail-in ballots.
Candidate forums have been taking place throughout the District, including a May 16 virtual event primarily sponsored by the Ward 8 Democrats. The forum featured D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), shadow Sen. Paul Strauss (D), D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At Large), Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D) and Ward 8 council hopefuls Mike Austin, Yaida Ford and Fred Hill.
As Bowser Proposes Budget, Some D.C. Lawmakers Eye Tax Increases
By Martin Austermuhle, DCist, May 20, 2020
Faced with the first budget in almost a decade stricken by revenue shortfalls instead of surpluses, D.C. lawmakers on Tuesday alternated between praising Mayor Muriel Bowser for her proposed 2021 spending plan and gently hinting that they’re looking for new sources of money — including possible tax increases — for affordable housing, schools, health care, and violence prevention programs.
Bowser’s $8.5 billion budget, which she unveiled on Monday, largely relies on a pay freeze for D.C. government employees and the use of rainy day funds and past budget surpluses to make up for a $774 million shortfall in revenue caused by the pandemic’s shutdown of the city’s economy.
DC Council passes emergency relief bill; small landlords required to offer rent plans
By Will Vitka, WTOP, May 19, 2020
The D.C. Council passed an emergency coronavirus relief bill Tuesday that is aimed at helping residents and businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis as the District’s economy has slammed to a halt.
Included in the bill is an amendment pushed by Council members Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Charles Allen (Ward 6) that requires landlords with five or fewer units to establish alternative options with tenants facing hardships during the pandemic.
DCision 2020: Your Primary Voting Guide During The Pandemic
By Rachel Kurzius, Martin Austermuhle, Andrew Giambrone, and Colleen Grablick, WAMU, May 19, 2020
D.C.’s primary election is happening June 2. In the heavily Democratic District, the primary is usually more competitive than the general election, with the winner often sailing to victory in November. (There’s one major exception, which we note below.) The District has a closed primary, meaning that only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary. The deadline for party registration was May 12.
This year’s primary promises to be like no other, thanks to the pandemic. D.C. officials are promoting mail-in ballots this year as a way to avoid crowds in polling places on Election Day. (Here’s more information about how to obtain an absentee ballot — registered voters need to request them from the D.C. Board of Elections by May 26.) Early voting starts May 22 with 20 voting centers throughout the city. And on Primary Day, D.C. won’t have its typical 144 polling centers open — it will still be those 20 locations, all requiring social distancing. D.C. allows for same-day registration in person.
D.C. Council must approve the new St. E’s hospital deal. Some issues still need to be resolved.
By Sara Gilgore, Washington Business Journal, May 12, 2020
D.C.’s new agreement with George Washington University Hospital’s majority owner to run a planned Ward 8 hospital must get the D.C. Council’s green light, something that’s sure to bring up points of contention new and old.
Council members are aware of the overall contents of the agreement with Universal Health Services Inc. (NYSE: UHS), which owns 80% of George Washington University Hospital, but the specific terms are still going through legal and financial review. The deal is expected to come before the council in June, but there already appear to be a few sticking points for some council members, including what it means for existing employees of United Medical Center, the only hospital currently east of the Anacostia River, and how the planned facility will improve existing health inequities.
D.C.’s Ward 2 special election is far from irrelevant
By Colbert King, The Washington Post, May 11, 2020
But the special election is far from irrelevant.
The victor on June 16 will almost immediately assume office and get plunged into the District’s most consequential budget battle since 1996, when the city returned from the brink of disaster to fiscal solvency.
Coronavirus Latest: Northern Virginia Leaders Say They’re Not Ready To Reopen
By Staff, DCist, May 10, 2020
May 10, 1:45 p.m.: As Virginia moves to enter Phase 1 of its reopening plan on Friday, local leaders from Northern Virginia say it’s too soon for them to move forward.
The top elected officials from Northern Virginia’s five biggest jurisdictions sent a letter on Sunday asking the governor to delay the region’s reopening. While the leaders support Northam’s plans in general, they believe their jurisdictions haven’t met the criteria for entering Phase 1.
Press Release: Councilmember Nadeau Introduces Foreclosure Moratorium To Protect Homeowners and Prevent Displacement
By the office of Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, May 5, 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, in an effort to pause foreclosures during the ongoing public health emergency and for 60 days after, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduced the Foreclosure Moratorium Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. The emergency legislation was passed unanimously by the full Council.
The mortgage relief previously passed by Council was not applicable to all homeowners, and the foreclosure moratorium included in the federal legislation Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act only applies to homeowners with federally backed mortgages. The legislation introduced by Councilmember Nadeau closes the existing gaps by providing explicit and clear language to broaden the protections to all homeowners. By enacting this measure, the District joins 15 other states that have passed similar protections.
DC Announces Plans for 2 New Hospitals in Wards 1 and 8
By Sophia Barnes, NBC Washington, April 30, 2020
Washington, D.C., has announced plans to open two new hospitals in Wards 1 and 8 over the next six years, investing more than $700 million in new health centers operated in part by Howard University Hospital and George Washington University.
The mayor's office says the hospitals will help address health care inequality in the District, which has been highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic. The new hospitals will replace Howard University's current hospital and United Medical Center in Southeast D.C.
D.C.’s paid family leave debate reignites amid coronavirus fallout
By Alex Koma, Washington Business Journal, April 29, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has forced D.C. leaders to confront very new and uncomfortable questions these days, but one debate covers some well-trodden ground: what to do about paid family leave.
The District’s new leave program has taken years to pull together amid a back-and-forth between activists and prominent business leaders, enduring a bruising legislative fight and even a local election centered on the issue. It’s finally set to launch July 1, but the pandemic has prompted new questions about whether businesses can afford the program’s payroll taxes or if it’s even a good use of the city’s suddenly limited resources.
Bowser’s ReOpen D.C. Advisory Group Includes Allies And Lobbyists
By Martin Austermuhle, DCist, April 28, 2020
A crop of well-connected allies and lobbyists have been named to serve on Mayor Muriel Bowser’s ReOpen D.C. Advisory Group — but D.C. Public School parents and owners of local bars and restaurants say they are underrepresented on the panels that will guide the mayor on how and when to start lifting restrictions in the city.
Bowser unveiled the members of the advisory group on Monday, starting with two prominent chairpersons: former National Security Advisor and UN Ambassador Susan Rice and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.
Business tax relief proposal inspired by coronavirus raises questions from D.C. Council
By Alex Koma, Washington Business Journal, April 20, 2020
A business-backed tax relief proposal for industries hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis is earning a decidedly lukewarm reception among some District leaders, who still have questions on how to fund it amidst a sizable budget hole.
The pitch from the newly formed business group DC2021 would involve District officials waiving a full year of property taxes for all restaurant, retail, hotel, sports and entertainment companies to offset the impacts of the pandemic, in addition to the creation of several other targeted tax relief provisions. That would come with a hefty price tag, costing upward of $400 million at least per council estimates, but the business executives want to secure another $750 million in federal stimulus funding to fill the revenue void left by those tax changes.
Now in effect, DC’s follow-up COVID-19 relief legislation includes varied consumer protections
By Amanda Menas, The DC Line, April 17, 2020
As residents continued into week four of social distancing, the DC Council unanimously passed the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Act of 2020 last week during its first-ever virtual meeting. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill last Friday, putting a diverse set of measures into effect.
“I think we all recognize that our worst days are probably still to come, but this city has shown that we will stick together, that we will rise to the occasion. And I think that this bill speaks to our ability as a city to protect our residents and to be sensitive to both what people are going through and also to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for strong recovery on the tail end,” said at-large Council member Robert White.
District business leaders warn of bankruptcies and permanent closures, plea for rapid help
By Steve Thompson, The Washington Post, April 16, 2020
A newly formed business group made an urgent plea to the D.C. Council on Thursday for tax abatements and other help for restaurants, retailers, hotels and entertainment venues devastated by the coronavirus-related shutdown.
During a hearing held online and via teleconference, members of the recently launched DC2021 forecast a wave of bankruptcies and permanent closures for District businesses unless the city steps forward with help.
Laid-off workers wait weeks to get unemployment benefits in DC
By Matt Gregory, WUSA9, April 14, 2020
WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus pandemic grows in our area, so do jobless numbers. In D.C., it is estimated, by the end of the week 60,000 people will have applied for unemployment in a month.
The overload caused many problems with the city trying to get benefits to the workers. Many workers said between the obsolete website and call centers, they’ve spent weeks trying to get benefits, but have had no luck.
Update on unemployment benefits for 1099 and gig workers
Letter to the Editor, PoPville, April 10, 2020
I know a lot of readers (myself included) have been anxiously waiting for DC to update their system to be able to process unemployment claims for 1099 and gig workers. I found this update posted yesterday on Elissa Silverman’s website. Pretty crazy it’s taking them a whole month to roll this out since the legislation passed!”
Ed. Note: Elissa Silverman’s office and website have been very helpful answering folks various questions about unemployment.
In First-Ever Virtual Meeting, D.C. Council Passes Bill Halting Rent Hikes, Offering Some Mortgage Payment Deferrals
By Martin Austermuhle, WAMU, April 8, 2020
The votes may have come from their living rooms, but on Tuesday the D.C. Council unanimously approved an emergency bill extending additional relief to residents and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure — approved during the Council’s first-ever virtual meeting, conducted via Zoom — puts a halt on rent increases during the ongoing public health emergency and 30 days after it ends and requires some mortgage companies to offer property owners a 90-day deferral on payments.
D.C. mayor implements hiring freeze amid pandemic
By Sophie Kaplan, The Washington Times, April 6, 2020
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an executive order Monday implementing a hiring freeze for the city government as a means to cut costs during the pandemic.
“Just as residents and businesses are making tough choices, the District will make tough choices too,” the Democratic mayor said.
Undocumented Immigrants Laid Off From D.C. Restaurants Worry About the Future
By Jessica Van Dop Dejesus, Washington City Paper, April 6, 2020
Immigrant workers keep restaurants going, whether they be hip bistros in hot neighborhoods or fast-food chains. Many of these line cooks, bussers, and servers are undocumented or waiting for the resolution of their immigration cases. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C. area restaurants have closed or reduced their operations to take-out and delivery only and many of these workers were laid off. Without access to unemployment benefits or other formal support, this group is especially vulnerable.
Although they worked at different types of restaurants, these D.C. area residents encounter similar challenges. Many of them lack information and immediate income, and fear that a lack of work will jeopardize their futures. Some also worry about not being able to assist relatives in their home countries. Four of these workers discussed their situations with City Paper in Spanish. We are only identifying them by first name to protect their privacy.
A Delayed Makeover of D.C.’s Unemployment Website Impacts Tens of Thousands of Residents
By Mitch Ryals, Washington City Paper, April 2, 2020
When D.C. first announced plans to modernize its antiquated unemployment insurance system, Adrian Fenty was mayor, Barack Obama lived in the White House, and LL was too young to legally drink.
That was in June 2010, and at that time, the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) estimated it would cost about $11 million to upgrade the system, which features components that date to the 1970s. The goal was to upgrade both arms that make up the unemployment insurance system: tax collection and benefits.
Delays in overhauling D.C. unemployment site add to turmoil of coronavirus layoffs
By Fenit Nirappil and Darran Simon, The Washington Post, April 2, 2020
Long before the coronavirus began to decimate the local economy, the D.C. Department of Employment Services promised a modern, user-friendly portal for submitting unemployment claims.
The agency told the federal government and the D.C. Council that the project could be finished as early as 2018. Then they said the winter of 2019, and later July 2019, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
The Immigrants Who Feed D.C. Don’t Have the Same Safety Net as Other Out-of-Work Employees
By Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper, March 26, 2020
Ana Cristina Plaza and her colleagues at Ayuda have been making runs to the Capital Area Food Bank and dropping groceries off at clients’ houses, along with essentials like diapers. Food runs are outside the organization’s usual scope of work. So is writing rent checks. Ayuda typically provides translation help and legal assistance to immigrants and social services for immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.
Seventy-five percent of the 120 families Ayuda supports include at least one restaurant industry worker, according to Plaza, a caseworker and Ayuda’s manager of emergency assistance programs. Many have been laid off and told to apply for unemployment. But doing so requires a Social Security number, which Plaza says 99 percent of her clients don’t have because they’re undocumented.