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Newsletter: I Know You’ve Been Reading About the Wilson Building

Dear Resident,

Goings-on at the Wilson Building have been front-page news, so let me begin with my thoughts on the controversy surrounding my Ward 2 colleague Jack Evans. As many of you may recall, when The Washington Post published a story in early March disclosing how Councilmember Evans used his Council email to pitch a private law firm on his public office connections, I joined two other colleagues in calling for an investigation. I renewed the call for investigation last week after The Post published a 20-page memo from a law firm hired by WMATA (Metro) to investigate Councilmember Evans’s conduct as a D.C. representative on the WMATA Board of Directors and its board chair. The evidence and conclusions reached by the firm are very troubling, and I am glad that Chairman Mendelson has decided to form an ad-hoc committee which will hire an outside law firm to investigate Councilmember Evans’s conduct on the Council.


Silverman Statement on Councilmember Jack Evans

D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) issued the following statement regarding WMATA Board Chair and Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans:

“I have just read the memorandum from Schulte Roth & Zabel regarding WMATA’s investigation into the conduct of Jack Evans, WMATA Board Chair and my Ward 2 colleague on the D.C. Council. In light of the report, it is the right decision for Councilmember Evans to step down from his role as a D.C. representative on the WMATA Board of Directors. The memorandum raises troubling questions about actions taken by Councilmember Evans in his role as a public servant on the WMATA board.

“I am also renewing my earlier calls for the D.C. Council to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Councilmember Evans. I have asked Chairman Mendelson to initiate this action. I suggest the D.C. Council hire an outside law firm to investigate any alleged violations of our law and Code of Conduct. Those findings and recommendations should be brought forth quickly, and Councilmember Evans should be given a chance to respond.

“In the end, we need to make sure that the Council acts with the highest ethics and follows the rule of law. Maintaining the public’s trust in our government is vital to our city and our democracy.”


The Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and the Line Hotel Tax Abatement

Earlier today, the D.C. Council took the second and final vote on authorizing language for next year’s District budget, which includes provisions regarding a $46 million tax abatement for the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. The Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget will redirect a little more than $1 million from the abatement to the D.C. Housing Authority for the repair of public housing in Ward 1, a move that was certified by the District’s Chief Financial Officer. The rest of the abatement will remain in place, contingent on the Line Hotel meeting all the requirements in its tax abatement law.


Newsletter: We Passed The Budget!

Dear Resident,

I promise, this is the second-to-last FY 2020 budget update! We are almost done (I hope)! Last week, my colleagues and I took the second and final vote on the Local Budget Act, which appropriates money for next year. A second and final vote on the Budget Support Act, which provides the enabling language for the now-approved budget numbers, will come later this month.

We face challenging issues in our city when it comes to funding our schools, providing health care, and financing the preservation and building of affordable housing. These were the flashpoints last Tuesday, and I’ll provide some updates below. You may have seen in the press that the Council went in a new direction by funding a new Banneker Senior High School at the site of the shuttered Shaw Jr. High campus. The current Banneker site was also reserved for a Shaw Middle School. You also may have seen that the Council slightly reduced the commitment to providing money for public housing maintenance because the city’s Chief Financial Officer disagrees that surplus reserve funds can be redirected from Events DC, the former convention and sports authority. You might have also read that there was a lot of debate about how to fund our city’s only hospital east of the Anacostia River, and there’s more on that below.


Silverman Presses for Transparency in Housing Production Trust Fund Dollars, Highlighting Concerns Over Competitive Process Raised in New Auditor’s Report

D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) responded to a new report released earlier today from the Office of the D.C. Auditor, which raises concerns about the integrity of the competitive application process for the city’s Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). The report found that the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) often deviated from its own scoring system to select lower-ranked projects for the fund, which provides critical gap financing to developers of affordable housing.


Silverman Applauds New FY20 Funds for Public Housing Repairs, Affordable Housing, and Healthcare Needs in Ward 8

In Tuesday’s second and final vote on next year’s budget appropriations, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) championed the redirection of $1 million to public housing repairs in Ward 1, the restoration of over $7 million to United Medical Center in Ward 8, and the allocation of $15.3 million to support early education and affordable housing needs across the District. These investments were largely part of a series of amendments wrapped into the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which passed unanimously.


Attorney General Racine Says Line Hotel Needed to Meet All Legislated D.C. Hiring Targets for $46 Million Tax Abatement

In response to a request from two D.C. Council members, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has issued a legal opinion concluding that the Bowser Administration does not have authority to waive specific D.C. hiring requirements put in law in order for the Line Hotel to qualify for a taxpayer subsidy worth up to $46 million. Earlier this month, the Department of Employment Services (DOES) found that the hotel had not met two of seven specific requirements legislated by the Council but said the agency had the ability to create an alternative compliance plan.


Newsletter: First Budget Vote on Tuesday!

Dear Resident,

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council will take the first of two votes on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which will begin this October. This will determine much of the direction for our government resources next year. As a reminder, both the specific money allocations and any enabling legislation supporting that funding require second votes, which will happen in late May and early June.

I have heard from many of you this budget season. Thank you for your emails, your calls, and visits to the Wilson Building. It’s no surprise that your top concerns were equitable funding for our public schools, additional money to preserve and build affordable housing, resources toward preventing homelessness, and continued support for innovative approaches to public safety. Transportation-related advocacy, including support for Vision Zero efforts, has picked up in these last several weeks. Budget season is a good reminder of the breadth of programs and services our government funds, from health care to business corridor grants to parks and recreation.


Silverman, Nadeau Request Attorney General’s Opinion on $46 Million Tax Abatement for Line Hotel After D.C. Hiring Requirements Not Met

D.C. Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) sent a letter earlier this week asking D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine to give his legal opinion on whether the executive branch has authority to waive District resident hiring requirements put into law as conditions for the Line Hotel receiving a $46 million tax abatement. The D.C. Council passed special legislation in 2011 requiring the hotel to meet specific hiring targets beyond the District’s First Source hiring law in order to receive the subsidy. The Line Hotel opened last year in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Ward 1 and is still in the process of being deemed eligible for the tax abatement.


Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Prioritizes Funding Programs that Advance Residents on Path to Employment in Fiscal Year 2020

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, chaired by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), approved budget and policy recommendations for upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 that put an emphasis on investing in programs that have data-driven track records of putting D.C. residents on paths to work. In statements supporting the decisions, each Committee member stressed how critical agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction are to ensuring all residents, especially returning citizens, benefit from the city’s prosperity. Agencies under the Committee’s purview include the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the Workforce Investment Council, and the D.C. Department of Human Resources.

“We have designed programs to help residents get work, particularly in our high-demand industries, yet the numbers don’t point to success. Data has been either unclear or in some cases unavailable to the Committee,” Silverman said. “However, anecdotal evidence from residents who testified at hearings was straightforward: Many of our high-profile workforce programs are not delivering what was promised to get our residents into jobs and put them on paths to long-term career success. The status-quo of spending lots of money on programs that don’t help our residents can’t continue.”