Welcome to summer!
And this week is that annual rite of this time of year: No, I’m not talking about walking out your front door into what feels like a sauna! I’m talking about the Capitol Hill and Palisades Fourth of July parades! They are some of my favorite District traditions. I’ll be participating in both, and shoot me an email if you’d like to walk with me!
Even with the hot temps, the D.C. Council isn’t quite in summer mode just yet! We have two more weeks of official business before heading off on legislative recess starting July 15. The lead up to recess is busy with important hearings on bills I introduced regarding reform at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), not punishing low-income residents through driver's license suspensions, and helping District residents hurt by the Trump tax law. See a list of upcoming hearings on these bills below. Many of you also wrote to me about the state and local deduction (SALT) cap; my bill will create an option similar to what has been implemented in New York to give you a local income tax credit for donating to a D.C. educational fund that can be applied to the D.C. income tax you owe. The hearing is this Friday.
Baseball is also a staple of summer, and I want to thank everyone who braved the threat of rain to join me at Silverman Night with the Nationals a week or so ago! My evening with the Nationals came at the end of an eventful week. I’ve gotten many emails both in favor and against Initiative 77, which passed by a 55 percent to 44 percent margin. Initiative 77 will gradually phase out D.C.’s subminimum wage for tipped workers in the restaurant, hospitality, and service industries. As chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, I am setting up small discussions with owners and managers of restaurants in D.C. about Initiative 77, as well as with workers in these industries, to discuss how we can best move forward. If you would like to be part of those, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday we experienced what is great about sports: It can unite people and bring us pure, unbridled joy. After recent years of what else sports can bring—the agony of an earlier-than-expected playoff exit—it was so thrilling to celebrate a championship win as a community. Seeing the Stanley Cup sit in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol was something else, and then the sea of red that flooded Constitution Avenue, every cross street, and the Mall was unbelievable. Congratulations again to our Washington Capitals, our fantastic fans both longtime and newly indoctrinated to #RockTheRed, and all the D.C. agencies and public employees that made last-minute watch parties and our championship parade so amazing.
On to….Let’s Go Nats! That’s right, Michael Wilbon. We are a major league sports town!
I want to take a moment to also talk about something else exciting this summer: expanded outdoor pool hours! This year pools are opening one hour earlier because of additional money put in the budget last year after hearing from residents. I hope that the additional hours better accommodate working families and families with small children, and I’ll be looking for more ways to open even earlier in the future.
There are more budget updates and community news below, so keep reading!
Yesterday I joined with all my colleagues to give preliminary approval to the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which will fund all the agencies and programs for the District next year. It is an immense task to review and make changes to our $14.5 billion budget, and I want to take a moment to thank my outstanding legislative and committee staff. They work hard on your behalf all year round, but during these last eight weeks they have spent late nights and weekends away from family and friends to do the analysis, negotiating, and cajoling needed to put in place some of the innovative initiatives we are funding.
Full details on the budget are below in the legislative update.
As many of you also know, budget season coincided with other challenging moments at the Wilson Building. I want to make sure you are aware of the statements I put out regarding the troubling remarks made by my colleague, Trayon White. They can be found here and here. Hate speech of any kind has no place in our city, and I sent a letter to Mayor Bowser and my colleagues the morning after a detestable rally was held on the steps of the Wilson Building. I am pleased that the rally’s organizer has resigned from his position on the board of the D.C. Housing Authority.
Earlier today, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) voted with her colleagues to unanimously pass the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget. This was the first of two votes on next year's budget allocation and the legislation supporting it. Silverman, who chairs the Council's Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, championed programs that have a proven track record of putting D.C. residents to work and funded housing programs that ensure residents can afford to live in the city.
“Putting our tax dollars and efforts toward making sure every District resident can get a living wage career and affordable housing was my North Star, my guiding principle, of this budget,” Silverman said. “We have an immense task before us as a city to make D.C. more equitable and affordable. What we do in next year's budget bends our city a little more toward opportunity and justice.”
The budget also includes landmark investments in maintenance for Metrorail and Metrobus, as well as increased funding for education, housing, healthcare, and public safety.
Highlights of Councilmember Silverman's efforts in the FY 2019 budget are the following:
Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who chairs the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, today held a Committee vote on budget recommendations for the District’s 2019 Fiscal Year budget for agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction. The recommendations include investments to expand job training in the hospitality industry, provide literacy training for adults, and improve transparency and oversight of the District’s workforce spending.
“My goal is to put the District’s workforce dollars into programs and workforce opportunities that will make the most difference for our city and its residents,” Silverman said. “I want our investments to prepare people for good, living wage jobs—and ensure that District workers actually get the wages and benefits they earn.”
Yesterday, at a rally organized by D.C. Housing Authority Board member Joshua Lopez held outside of the John A. Wilson Building, an attendee called At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) a “fake Jew” and referred to Jewish people as “termites.” Councilmember Silverman sent the following letter to her colleagues earlier today:
Dear Mayor Bowser and D.C. Council colleagues:
The hateful words spoken yesterday outside the Wilson Building have absolutely no place in our city. It is unconscionable that event supporters brush off these repugnant words of prejudice simply as “wrong things” to say and speakers going “rogue.” Not at all: This was a deliberately misleading, intentionally designed attempt to stir up division and hatred, particularly for me as a Jewish, At-Large Council member, who represents the entire city including Ward 8.
It is part of a disturbing tolerance within our city for anti-Jewish hate speech, which has made these last several weeks increasingly hurtful and difficult for me and others at the Wilson Building who are Jewish, as well as for the entire D.C. Jewish community.
Silverman Statement on Reports Councilmember Trayon White Supported Chicago Event Headlined by Louis Farrakhan
D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) released the following statement on media reports that money from Councilmember Trayon White’s (D-Ward 8) constituent services fund went to a Chicago event headlined by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan:
Anti-Semitism and hate speech have no place in our city, and District leaders should not support in any way those who have a history of bigotry and prejudice. The Washington Post’s report that Councilmember Trayon White may have used his constituent services fund to support Saviours’ Day, a yearly gathering in Chicago which Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has repeatedly used as a platform to spew anti-Semitism and espouse dangerous, extremist conspiracies, is upsetting and improper. My understanding is that the Office of Campaign Finance is investigating this contribution, and I ask for the findings to be released as quickly as possible so the Council can take proper action.
Councilmember Silverman Responds to D.C. Auditor Reports on Ineffectiveness of D.C. First Source Law
D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who serves as chairman of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, issued the following statement in response to D.C. Auditor reports released this morning that detail inadequate compliance and enforcement of the District’s First Source Hiring Law by the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES):
First Source was put in place to make sure that when District tax dollars fund projects, District residents benefit by getting a first shot at the new jobs created. Today’s reports from the D.C. Auditor show why many residents see cranes in their neighborhood but don’t see themselves or their neighbors getting employment out of it: Our government has never properly implemented the law since its inception in 1984. It’s amazing to think that First Source has been cited for decades as a key part of our strategy to provide job opportunities and reduce unemployment, yet until a few months ago the program lacked any formal or informal written monitoring policies or procedures.
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Bill Creating Pathways to DC Government Jobs for DC High School Graduates
DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) today introduced the Pathways to District Government Careers Act to help District residents enter into District government jobs. The bill would create public-sector apprenticeship programs for District residents and also give graduates of District high schools a first shot at entry-level government jobs. The legislation comes on the heels of a renewed conversation about better preparing District young people for life after high school, as well as providing more opportunities for District residents to gain a foothold into middle-class, public service careers.
“Our young people, especially our DC high school graduates who live in Wards 5, 7 and 8, need opportunity. They want meaningful living wage work, they want mentors, they want careers,” said Silverman. “This bill does that by leveraging jobs in our own government.”
Last night, Jaelynn Willey, one the students shot at Great Mills High School in Maryland on Tuesday, was taken off of life support. She was 16 years old.
The effect of guns infiltrating schools across the country is devastating, but youth and families are not just being affected by guns at school. The District knows this far too well. Lives are being lost to preventable gun violence in every quadrant of the city.
That’s why I’m joining District students and residents tomorrow at the Rally for DC Lives before walking to the March for Our Lives. I hope you will join us to support the city’s youth, help preserve our strong gun safety laws, and call for stronger gun control in our region and across the country.
Here’s how you can participate: