December 4, 2019
Paul J. Wiedefeld
General Manager and Chief Executive Officer
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency
600 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC, 20001
As we enter the sixth week of Amalgamated Transit Unit 689’s strike at the Transdev-operatedCinder Bed Road Bus Garage, I am concerned that little is being done to help resolve the conditions that led to the strike.
A bill introduced today by D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) would reduce dangerous driving incidents in the District by targeting routinely reckless drivers and requiring them to take a restorative-justice-focused course before returning to the road.
The “Reckless Driver Accountability Act of 2019” allows the District to boot or impound any car that has either three tickets for speeding by more than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit, or five tickets for speeding or running a red light. The law would apply to all vehicles located in the District with qualifying offenses, even if they are registered outside of the city.
Like many of you, I went about the business of yesterday with one eye on the impeachment hearing that took place on Capitol Hill. The proceedings are of pivotal importance to the health of our democracy, and the issues that brought us to this point deserve our attention. Unfortunately, however, it is not the only inquiry into government ethics and the rule of law happening in DC. On the local level, the DC Council is engaged in an investigation about the actions of my colleague, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans.
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.