Newsletter: Help Tell Congress to Leave D.C. Alone!

Dear Resident,

The days since Jan. 20 have been long and taxing on our city, on our country, and, indeed, on ourselves. But, ImmigrationRally.jpgin this challenging time, I have been uplifted by the activism and engagement of D.C. residents and others across the country and the world. Keep it up! The District of Columbia and our residents are particularly vulnerable, and we will need to work together as a community to protect the policies our city values.

Let’s pause for a moment on this. You may have read in the Washington Post that Republicans in Congress are working to repeal the Death with Dignity Act recently passed by the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor, to loosen our gun-control laws, and to restrict the use of local funds for reproductive health services in the District. And that’s just for starters. That’s why I joined with our Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton on Capitol Hill last week, along with Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, and other colleagues, to tell Congress to let locally elected officials do the job that our voters asked us to do and to leave us alone! Give us local control to set the policies that work best for our community, such as being a sanctuary city. Let me repeat: The District will remain a sanctuary city despite threats and bullying by Congress, and we will not support any legislation this new administration puts forth that forces residents to live in fear of their safety or well-being.

I am working with our mayor and her federal relations team, along with my colleagues, to craft effective strategies to deal with this Congress and this White House. But I want and need your help! First of all, keep up the activism and engagement. Second, many of you have expertise in the federal realm. Send me your ideas on how to protect the best interests of D.C.! The best way to do that is send me an email at esilverman@dccouncil.us. I look forward to putting them into action!

 WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

I’m excited to serve as the chairman of the newly-created Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. Committee_on_Labor_and_Workforce_3.pngOur committee has five members including Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, and At-Large Councilmember Robert White. I’ve sat down with all my colleagues to discuss their interests in the committee. They are extremely engaged. At our open house, I look forward to discussing priorities with many of you!

New Committee Staff Addition: I’m thrilled to introduce employment and labor policy expert Liz Weiss as our committee director! Liz is a graduate of both George Washington University and Columbia University. She previously worked in the U.S. Senate for the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions under the leadership of then chair Tom Harkin. Liz2.jpgMost recently she served in the Obama administration as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Labor, under the leadership of Tom Perez. Liz is a proud Washingtonian who has called the District home for more than twenty years. Welcome Liz to local government!

You can meet Liz and the rest of my committee staff today, February 6, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. at our committee open house at the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 115). We’ll have light refreshments and look forward to seeing new and familiar faces.

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Performance Oversight Hearings: Throughout this month and next, I’ll be participating in agency performance oversight hearings which will inform our spring budget process for the next fiscal year. This is your opportunity to let me and my colleagues know what District services are working well and which need improvement. You can see the full schedule of hearings here. If you can’t attend in person, I encourage you to email my legislative director, Sam Rosen-Amy, at srosenamy@dccouncil.us with questions for District agencies or general comments.

Aiding Our Homeless Residents: On the evening of Jan. 25, my staff and I participated in the Annual Point in Time Census of Homeless Residents hosted by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and coordinated by the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness. It was truly an eye-opening experience—revealing the extent of adult and youth homelessness across the city while confirming why the budget decisions we make are so important. From 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., our team visited four homeless encampments and shelter locations across five wards. It is clear that we can do more to provide effective reentry programs for returning citizens, proper mental health services, and better family planning services and education to residents. I look forward to working with DHS Director Laura Zeilinger to address these issues and improve the safety of our existing shelters so that more residents in need feel that they have a place to go.

IN THE COMMUNITY

Statehood Coalition Lobby Day: Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Capitol Hill. Join your fellow residents in telling Congress to let D.C. residents decide how to spend D.C. dollars and what policies are best for our nation’s capital.

Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Summer Camps: DPR is now accepting reduced rate applications for its 2017 summer camp season. You must visit the Summer Camp Office located at Columbia Heights Recreation Center (1480 Girard Street NW) with correct documentation to qualify for the discount. Camp registration will open on Monday, Feb. 27.

Here are a few other events coming up in the community and at the Wilson Building this month:

Thanks so much for reading, and I look forward to seeing some of you today at the open house!

Elissa.