I’m still trying to figure out what exactly happened in the 5th inning of Game 5 of the Nationals vs. Cubs. To those who don’t follow baseball and the Nationals, I’ll move quickly to other matters. To those who cheer for our hometown team, I wish I could pass a bill to make sure the Nationals win a Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Maybe for next year.
The night of Game 1, I had the opportunity to visit Ward 8’s Excel Academy for a screening of Zero Weeks, a moving documentary about the need for paid family leave in the US. One of the film’s subjects, Kesha Scrivner, is a Ward 8 resident who is currently battling cancer. Her daughter is a student at Excel (pictured in photo). You can read more about Kesha’s story and ways to support her here. Echoing Kesha, people can’t heal if they can’t rest. And they can’t rest if they can’t pay their bills. More thoughts on why we shouldn’t get distracted with last-ditch efforts to delay providing paid family leave to District residents and workers are in my full statement from last week’s hearing online here. You can also watch testimony from the 10-plus-hour hearing here and catch the Twitter conversation here.
One other small note on the Attorney General’s decision not to appeal the Wrenn gun case to the U.S. Supreme Court: I agreed with AG Racine. It was too big a risk. But the Council can come back to this issue, using the Appeals Court decision as a roadmap. Along with my colleagues, I’ll do everything in my power to keep guns off the street. However, even the most restrictive guns laws have limited impact when most guns on DC streets are illegal but purchased legally in other states with much more lax gun laws.
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Legislation Helping Seniors and Workers Afford to Live in the District
Earlier today, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) introduced two bills which will aid struggling D.C. senior homeowners and incentivize D.C. businesses that support working families. The two pieces of legislation are part of her increased effort to help residents afford to live, work, and stay in the District long-term.
The first bill, the Reverse Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2017, will create an assistance program for District seniors who are facing foreclosure under a reverse mortgage. The program would pay overdue property taxes and insurance for reverse mortgage borrowers who might lose their homes because of nonpayment of taxes. The program would be income-based.
“We see better health outcomes when our senior residents stay in their homes and more stable neighborhoods when properties are continuously occupied,” said Silverman. “The city also saves money: providing a subsidy is much less costly than providing replacement housing for residents who might lose their homes.”
It’s been a busy week, kicking off our fall legislative agenda. More on this below. DC Auditor Kathy Patterson released a report this week on another policy area we are working hard to improve: vacant and blighted properties. As our loyal readers know, we introduced a bill that became law last year trying to streamline putting vacant properties on the list and adding more manpower resources to enforcement of the law. We were asked by the Auditor to share our knowledge of this policy area as her team began their investigation, and we will continue to work to make sure these properties are not a blight on our neighborhoods.
This past week also welcomed a new year, 5778, for me and others who observe Rosh Hashanah. L’shanah tovah and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and peaceful year ahead for all of us whether you celebrate the holiday or not.
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Legislation Supporting Small Businesses, Seniors, and Spending Transparency
D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) today introduced three bills to help make the District more accessible, affordable, and transparent by proposing a Small Business Advisory Council, a housing subsidy for severely rent-burdened seniors and disabled residents, and a searchable public grants database that tracks District spending.
Councilmember Silverman introduced the Small Business Advisory Council Act of 2017 to provide a forum for businesses to advise the D.C. Council on ways to improve the city’s regulatory processes and address systemic issues with District agencies. The Advisory Council would include one small business community member nominated by each Council member, in addition to a representative from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Office of Tax and Revenue, the Department of Employment Services, and the Department of Small and Local Business Development. It is modeled after the successful pedestrian and bicycle advisory councils.
The legislation was co-introduced by Councilmembers Robert White (D-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6). Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) were co-sponsors.
“Better supporting small businesses means being better listeners and troubleshooters. A Small Business Advisory Council helps us do that,” Silverman said.
On Wednesday, Councilmember Silverman, as chair of the Council's Committee on Labor and Workforce Development sent a letter to the District's Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, asking for more information on Yelp's plans for hiring and training District residents. Yelp recently announced it will be opening an office in the District, bringing 500 new sales and marketing positions to the city over the next five years.
Where did the summer go?
As we head toward Labor Day weekend, many of you are back to your non-summer routines, as both our DCPS and public charter school students are back in class. Here at the Wilson Building, the DC Council is more than two-thirds through our summer legislative recess; our first official meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 19. Our office has been using the summer to work on legislative proposals, do a lot of site visits, and meet with residents and businesses.
There's still time to enjoy some summer fun! This year, The Shakespeare Theatre Company's free community summer series returns with performances of Othello. We have 45 free tickets for the show happening next Saturday, August 26 at 2:00 p.m. at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW). You can learn more about this year’s production here. Please email Ashley Fox in my office at email@example.com if you would like tickets (two per person limit).
I hope to see you there!
Starting today, the D.C. Council joins many of our public schools and public charter schools in taking a summer break — or legislative recess, as we call it. This means there will be no official D.C. Council legislative business for the next nine weeks: No Council hearings, markups, or legislative meetings. This doesn’t mean we completely shut down: My staff and I will be taking vacation time for sure, but we’ll also be brainstorming, researching, writing, doing site visits, and holding our own meetings in and out of the office to put together our fall legislative agenda. Please send along your ideas!
Though we officially kick off summer July 15, I always feel summer unofficially kicks off with the July 4 parades. For all those who say D.C. is a transient town lacking identity, they haven’t been to the Barracks Row or Palisades Independence Day celebrations. It was fantastic seeing so many of you on the parade routes—and if we missed saying hi or you missed the cameo appearance by Teddy Roosevelt at Barracks Row and our award-winning Wonder Woman theme in the Palisades (yes, we actually did win an award)—take a look back at pictures from the day on my office Facebook page!
While we work on getting a head start for the fall, I’ll be taking some vacation time to visit family and friends who live out of the District. I’ll also be taking an adult swim class at Anacostia pool with our Department of Parks and Recreation so I can use the inflatable kayak I just got to explore the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers more. I’ll be sending email updates a little less frequently until the Council gets going again in September, but keep reading to see what’s new and what exciting things are coming up!
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Bill to Increase Transparency and Accountability in Workforce Spending
Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) today introduced legislation to comprehensively assess how the District spends an estimated $100 million on workforce development, detailing not only spending but performance outcomes to determine the programs and providers which succeed at placing residents into good jobs and keeping them there, and which ones do not.
“We need to be strategic and work with our big and small businesses to be a good match maker—being empirically outcome driven—so that we fund programs that lead to long-term, living-wage employment,” said Silverman. “Almost every day, I meet with D.C. employers who say they simply can’t find D.C. residents qualified to fill their jobs, and we can’t sit idly by and let that happen anymore.”
Happy Fourth of July! My staff and I are getting excited about joining neighbors tomorrow at the 16th Annual Barracks Row 4th of July Parade and the Palisades Citizens Association's 51st Annual July 4th Parade and Picnic.
Neighborhood Parades: If you're interested in walking with us tomorrow, please do! For Barracks Row, half of my office will meet at 9:30 a.m. at 8th and I Streets SE. For Palisades, the other half will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Whitehaven Pkwy NW (between Foxhall Rd and MacArthur Blvd behind The Lab School of Washington). All you need to bring is your patriotism—and maybe your dancing shoes.