On Monday, I joined Councilmembers Cheh, Allen, and Grosso in sending a second letter to the Public Service Commission urging rejection of the revised Pepco-Exelon merger proposal.
Under the merger agreement, we are getting reliability standards that are worse than Pepco’s current performance, along with employment promises that are misleading. The merger is also setting ratepayers up for a spike in electricity costs come 2019. I believe there are few, if any, long-term benefits to this merger.
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost a year since taking the oath of office! Being a new councilmember is much like being a new business owner--or a new parent: I’ve spent a lot of time putting people, systems, and infrastructure in place. We’ve even knocked down a wall (and closet)! Thanks to everyone, but particularly Chief of Staff Kitty Richards, Senior Policy Analyst (and construction chief) Sam Rosen-Amy, and Community and Communications Coordinator Ashley Fox for implementing these changes.
We’ve spent a lot of time this year laying the foundation, and now we’ve entered a very exciting time of seeing those pieces in action. This week I’m especially excited to share with you legislative efforts I consider central to our core mission of a more progressive, effective government that creates opportunity for all: universal paid family leave and elections/campaign finance reform.
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Bill to Increase Election Transparency and Accountability in the District
Today, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman introduced the Clean Elections Amendment Act of 2015 to strengthen District laws that ensure elections are financed fairly and transparently. The legislation, co-introduced by Councilmembers Charles Allen, Mary Cheh and Brianne Nadeau, intends to make compliance with campaign finance laws simpler, as well as increase public confidence in the integrity of District elections and associated fundraising.
“We have all run campaigns. We know that they are fast-moving. Making the financial contribution rules simple, transparent, and uncomplicated makes compliance easier,” said Silverman when introducing the bill.
Under the legislation, District law would clearly outline when election contributions to political action committees and other groups would be considered independent expenditures and when they would be considered coordinated with or controlled by candidates or public officials.
The District of Columbia is a wonderful place to live—if you can afford it.
I am very concerned that our city’s housing is becoming too expensive for residents of all stages of life, and I am particularly worried that many residents who are trying to provide for themselves and their families don’t make enough money to rent or buy even a one-bedroom apartment.
The high cost of housing makes ending homelessness in our city more of a challenge. Yet I am optimistic that this is a challenge we can and will overcome. No District resident who works, or who has spent a life working, should be in poverty and homeless. Those who have struggles which cause homelessness should be housed in a safe, humane shelter until those difficulties can be addressed.
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is here! It is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives, and I am certainly grateful for wonderful colleagues both in my office and in the Wilson Building working to make our city a place of opportunity for everyone. I also want to thank all of you for your support--and for taking time to read this newsletter every other week!
Our office has been involved in several holiday-related activities. Not everyone has the resources for a bountiful holiday dinner, so we were happy to donate food to both the WHUR food drive and to Community Connections so our most vulnerable neighbors can have a happy holiday. Yesterday our office headed over to Food & Friends, to help pack meals for those in our community who might not be able to prepare their own due to long term illnesses. On Thanksgiving Day, I’ll be participating in the So Others Might Eat (SOME) Trot for Hunger 2015. If you’re looking for a great event to participate in with your friends or family this week, consider joining me that morning to support the housing and employment programs that put our neighbors back on a path to stability and the pursuit of happiness.
I wish you a happy Thanksgiving whether you are spending it with family, visiting with friends, or taking a little time for yourself.
Talking to District residents and businesses, I often hear that it is difficult to understand what fees and regulations apply to them. Today I introduced the Fee Transparency Act of 2015, legislation to make those fees more transparent.
This legislation would require the City Administrator to publish a list of every fee charged by the District government. It has been done before, and this legislation would make it a yearly practice. In 2012 and 2013, the Gray administration published a master fee schedule that listed more than 2,500 fees across almost 40 different agencies.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks!
First, a report back from the Local Progress Fourth Annual National Convening, where I met more than 100 progressive local elected officials from across the country. It was a great learning experience. I had the opportunity to discuss fair elections, police reform, and inclusive and equitable economic development, among other topics. A very impressive contingent from Brooklyn, NY helped me understand New York City’s public financing of elections, and two great legislators from the other Washington, Mike O’Brien and Nick Licata, explained a very innovative proposal that was approved by Seattle voters last Tuesday. The proposal would give publicly-funded “Democracy vouchers” to expand who donates to and participates in city elections. I was also excited to answer questions and share information about the District’s legislative proposal for Paid Family and Medical Leave. Almost everyone said they heard about it on NPR or read about it in newspapers and were very interested!
Today, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman introduced four amendments to the Local Jobs and Tax Incentive Act of 2015, the legislation to give a $60 million property tax abatement to the property expected to be leased by the Advisory Board Company (ABC). The amendments sought to ensure that economic development incentives for private companies continue to benefit District taxpayers and support job growth and security for District residents.
“While I’m not convinced we need this abatement to keep the Advisory Board in the District, I believe there are ways we can make this a better deal for the District and our residents,” said Silverman about the proposed legislation. “When we’re making an investment in a company like this, we need to think critically about our return on investment for the District and our residents.”
Today and tomorrow, I am meeting with progressive local officials from across the country at the 4th annual Local Progress conference (www.localprogress.org). I am looking forward to meeting counterparts in places such as Kansas City, New York City, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Baltimore—sharing ideas on how to close our income and opportunity gaps and creating economically vibrant, competitive, and inclusive communities. I hope to learn a lot from what has—and hasn't—worked elsewhere. But there is a lot going on in our city and at the Wilson Building. I want to give you a few quick updates, and I'll be writing more in the next newsletter.
THE MEAD CENTER FOR AMERICAN THEATER
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2015, 9:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.
At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, in partnership with Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, will join with over 10 non-profit organizations to provide a job training workshop and hiring event on Friday, October 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Mead Center (1101 Sixth St., SW/Waterfront Metro).
The two-part event will focus on providing job training, hiring services, and professional development resources to participants with a job search and interview training workshops in the morning, 9:00 a.m.- noon, followed by an afternoon job fair with hiring organizations, 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Participants must pre-register with one of the partner agencies to receive personalized resources and career guidance. Event information and details on how to register can be found by visiting arenastage.org/careerfair. Opening remarks will begin at 10:00 a.m.