Newsletter: Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Resident,

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.

LEGISLATIVE WORK

Making D.C. Fees and Fines Transparent: Do you think all the fees and fines we charge in the District should be knowable and in one master fee list? I do. So last Tuesday, I introduced the Fee Transparency Act of 2015, legislation to make these charges clear to all. Residents and businesses often tell me how difficult it is to identify and understand what fees and regulations are applicable to them. This legislation would require the City Administrator to publish a list of every fee charged by the District government. In 2012 and 2013, the Gray administration published a master fee schedule that listed more than 2,500 fees across almost 40 different agencies. The master fee schedule I am proposing would list each fee, identify its administering agency, identify the authorizing legislation or regulation, and list the total monetary amount collected. I think this is an important step toward making the District more business-friendly and accessible to residents.

Thank you to Councilmembers Allen, Bonds, Cheh, May, and Nadeau for their support of the bill. You can follow the bill’s progress here and read more on my website about why District residents and businesses should have a comprehensive list of costs available.

Housing Preservation Strikeforce: My work on the housing preservation strikeforce continues. The 18-member group has started to get into the meat of the agenda, discussing how the District will assess those properties most at risk and prioritize keeping them affordable. Several members, including myself, are pushing the group to make big, bold recommendations to the Mayor. I will be spending part of Thanksgiving weekend poring through the data and research. More to come soon.

WHERE I’VE BEEN

Creating A Job and Career Pipeline in DC: A majority of jobs in our city are not held by District residents, but in certain parts of D.C. residents cannot get work. That is a puzzle we need to solve. Last Friday we took some steps toward putting the pieces together at the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Summit, a meeting of government, business, and community representatives from across the city. We have a great opportunity with the revision in the federal workforce law to map blueprints to create career pathways for all our residents, particularly those who have had trouble getting work. I have told Mayor Bowser that I want us to focus on creating true pathways to the middle class. Friday’s event was focused on making sure those pieces are in place. I look forward to working with the Bowser administration on this work.

Game Changer Awards: I had the pleasure of attending the annual Family Values @ Work Game Changer Awards reception last week and was excited to receive an award with Councilmember Grosso for our efforts to bring paid family and medical leave to the District! Thank you to Family Values @ Work for the wonderful award and to my colleagues on the Council for their continued attention to championing this legislation.

IN THE COMMUNITY

Stay Safe This Holiday Season: Public safety continues to be a top concern. This is peak season for crimes of opportunities, but there are ways to minimize your risk of robbery, burglary, and theft. Thank you to the MPD Second District for sharing a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not walk around in public with your cell phone out and/or with headphones in your ears. This makes you a prime target.
  • Do not leave your valuables in plain view when exiting your vehicle. Make sure you lock all your car doors and, if possible, use some sort of anti-theft device for your vehicle.
  • Keep your porch lights on at night. Keeping your house well-lit serves as a deterrent to criminals who lurk around at night.
  • Remember to lock up your bicycles even if you're just stepping away briefly. It only takes a matter of seconds to walk away with an unsecured bicycle.

St. Jude’s Project: Pat Joseph, my constituent services director, was recently notified of a new program that provides free counseling supports to patients and their families who are dealing with Huntington’s Disease and other life-limiting illnesses such as ALS, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. The services are able to be offered at no cost to patients or their families as a result of the generous support of the Griffin Foundation. The St. Jude’s Project will begin accepting referrals on Tuesday, December 1. Please contact Kimberly Washington at 202-635-5951 or kimberly.washington@catholiccharitiesdc.org for more information. If you believe you may qualify for these services, please contact Pat Joseph in my office at pjoseph@dccouncil.us.

Shop Local!: Join me this Saturday in supporting our great locally owned businesses on Small Business Saturday! I am excited to join Ana Harvey, our director of the Department of Small & Local Business Development in supporting our small businesses in various events that day. Small businesses employ many of our residents, contribute to our communities, and create dynamic shopping for us. DSLBD has already launched the Shop Small. Shop DC. campaign which makes available a full listing of small businesses in the District. I encourage you to take a look at the list and choose a few places to support this year. You’re also welcome to join me after the holidays!

Thanks so much. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Elissa.