We have two big civic-oriented holidays coming up: Scherzday/Strasmas and Halloween!
First, Scherzday/Strasmas! Many of you know I grew up in a baseball-rooting family, so I can’t hide my excitement that our Washington Nationals are in the World Series! This has been an exciting couple years in D.C. sports with a Stanley Cup championship, a Women’s NBA championship, and now a World Series bid. Let’s #StayInTheFight and cheer on our Nats.
Many of you also know I apprentice as a balloon maker, and I’m trying to learn how to make Baby Shark balloons. I’ll be rocking the red and twisting balloons at one of my favorite kids’ costume celebrations in the District this Friday at Hilloween in Eastern Market! I’ve ordered a hefty batch of candy for the festivities. For those with little ones, I hope you will dust off your favorite Halloween wig and stop by! The Department of Parks and Recreation is also back with a full schedule of Halloween activities happening this week in every ward for both kids and adults. Our Metropolitan Police Department will be hosting citywide Halloween events this Friday too. Take a look at where to stock up on candy, do some pumpkin carving, visit a haunted house, and even join a Halloween game night.
Now onto legislative updates!
Happy Fiscal New Year!
October 1 marked the beginning of a new fiscal year (FY 2020) for District government. That means the budget we worked so hard on last spring is implemented, and we're now starting new investments in resources for District residents and workers! I want to highlight a few items that residents and workers can look forward to in FY 2020:
- New wage garnishment protections and procedural safeguards for low-wage earners through my Wage Garnishment Fairness Amendment Act
- An apprenticeship initiative within D.C. government for District residents and students with the launch of my Pathways to Government Careers Act
- An expanded Career Pathways Innovation Fund grant program that combines literacy and occupational training for the District’s adult jobseekers
- A new work-based learning coordinator position within D.C. Public Schools and enhanced career and technical education programs in District public charter schools
- Additional support for community-based organizations to help workers understand their rights under District employment law through a Wage and Hour Education Grants Program
- A boost in education efforts around tipped wage workers’ rights and workplace protections by increasing workplace posters, informational websites, and public education campaigns
D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) today introduced legislation that would ban the use of non-compete agreements in entry-level and moderate-income employment. These agreements, which are often a condition of employment, unfairly limit a worker’s ability to earn better pay and benefits by restricting employees from taking an additional job or future job with another business in the same industry. The bill would apply to D.C. workers who earn up to three times the minimum wage.
“We need to remove every barrier keeping District workers from earning what they deserve and from taking advantage of better pay and working conditions,” Silverman said. “These non-compete agreements are particularly unfair for low-wage workers and contribute to income inequality in our city.”
It’s officially the first week of fall, and the D.C. Council is back in full swing!
Post-recess has been action-packed so far: Last Thursday, I joined my colleagues at a historic hearing on D.C. Statehood before Congress. Thank you to everyone who showed up at the Rayburn House Office Building, called members of the House and Senate to support the statehood bill, wrote an email, sent a tweet, told a friend, or simply wore a statehood button. The hearing was a step forward in highlighting this voting rights and civil rights injustice. I hope you will continue to lend your voice to the call for District statehood and stay engaged on ways to advocate. We need each of you to make D.C. the 51st state!
A copy of this letter may be downloaded here. It was originally sent on August 30, 2019 to D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter and D.C. Department of General Services Director Keith Anderson.
Today starts summer recess at the D.C. Council!
Of course, the people’s business never stops, but for the next nine weeks the Council will not meet as a legislature. We’ll still be working on constituent concerns, as well as doing research on policy proposals and continuing oversight of executive agencies. Summer recess is also a time to give my great staff a chance to take vacations and spend some time with family and friends out of the office. I’ll be taking some time, as well.
Councilmember Silverman sent the following letter to her colleagues before the D.C. Council's July 9 Legislative Meeting regarding an emergency resolution she introduced on July 9 to remove Corbett Price from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors in response to ethics concerns:
I am writing to explain my reasons for moving the emergency resolution removing Corbett Price from the WMATA Board of Directors. I ask for your support and vote in favor of the resolution.
I am moving this emergency because, especially at this time, the District needs a voting member on the WMATA board who is well-regarded, credible, and always acts in the city’s best interests. Mr. Price’s actions suggest he is not the right person for this role:
Councilmember Silverman made the following remarks on the dais at the D.C. Council's July 9 Legislative Meeting in response to the decision by Chairman Phil Mendelson to reorganize the Finance and Revenue Committee without consulting all members of the Council:
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank Councilmember Cheh for moving this amendment.
Today there is a spotlight on Council ethics, on how we as elected officials and public servants are supposed to act in the public interest and not get any direct or predictable personal benefit for our votes.
This is a sad day for the Council to have to take this type of action regarding a fellow member, and to have to reorganize the Council in reaction.
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.