Newsletter: Impeachment and Expulsion
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.
I’ve written about this before, and I want to update you on where we are. Last Monday, councilmembers received a 97-page report from O’Melveny & Myers, the law firm hired by the Council to conduct an independent investigation. Councilmember Evans submitted a 40-page written response. We are making public all the documents related to the investigation; you can access them online at dccouncil.us/ad-hoc-committee-on-cm-evans/. As the press has reported, the firm identified 11 situations in which they believe Councilmember Evans violated the Council’s Code of Ethics by taking official actions that had a direct and predictable effect which benefitted Evans and/or his clients. Later this month, the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee, which is made up of all members except Councilmember Evans, will meet with the firm to discuss and ask questions about the report. In the beginning of December, Councilmember Evans will come before the Committee to make a statement about the report and answer questions.
I found the report offered clear and convincing evidence that Councilmember Evans willfully violated our Code of Ethics. Councilmember Evans has said that he had a “misunderstanding” about the rules, including whether he needed to disclose his clients. With all due respect, I find Councilmember Evans’s explanation not believable or credible, because the earlier WMATA investigation found that WMATA’s ethics officer warned Evans four years in a row that he needed to provide additional disclosure.
In light of the multiple investigations and findings, at this time I will support a recommendation of expulsion to the Ad Hoc Committee. I hope that Councilmember Evans will resign before this is necessary. Councilmember Evans has violated the foundation of the Council’s code of ethics and repeatedly acted in ways that predictably worked to the benefit of his private and business interests.
Fairness for Property Owners Who Incur Damage from Developers: Last week, the Committee of the Whole held a hearing on my bill to provide homeowners stronger, more reliable protection against property damage caused by negligent construction work at a neighboring property. My Substandard Construction Relief Amendment Act gives homeowners the option of choosing a different contractor to repair the damage at the expense of the contractor who caused the damage. Unfortunately, our Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs continues to provide unsatisfactory answers. My bill will fill a critical gap for District homeowners, and I hope that Chairman Mendelson will hold a committee vote soon so that my bill can provide relief to residents as soon as possible.
Negotiating Fairer Salaries: At last Tuesday’s legislative meeting, I introduced a bill that will allow District government employees, particularly those in a union, to negotiate fair salaries that are aligned with major US cities. District law currently limits unions and its members to negotiating within a range of salaries in our surrounding area. This means an MPD police officer is compared to a police officer in suburban counties in Virginia, but not other comparable cities like Baltimore, New York, or Chicago. My Collective Bargaining Fair Compare Amendment Act, which was supported by ten of my colleagues, lifts those limitations and allows for more fair comparisons with peer cities. I look forward to helping District employees maintain DC residency by paying more competitive salaries, and ultimately attracting and retaining good talent with compensation laws that are more aligned with the private sector and major cities across the country.
Fall 2019 Workforce Roundtables: The second of two workforce roundtables I’m holding this fall is coming up in just one week. As part of my oversight of workforce training programs that received conditional funding based on unclear performance outcomes in the most recent budget cycle, I’ll be holding a roundtable on Project Empowerment and DC Career Connections on Thursday, November 21, at 11:00am in Room 500 of the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Please note the time change from 10:00am to 11:00am! Anyone interested in testifying can contact Charnisa Royster in my office at [email protected].
The latest data from the Department of Employment Services regarding all of the programs under consideration—Project Empowerment, DC Career Connections, the DC Infrastructure Academy, and the Local Adult Training Program—is on my website here: elissasilverman.com/workforceroundtables.
Prioritizing Workforce Development Nationally: This week marks two important national weeks in the workforce development world: Opportunity Week and Apprenticeship Week! The Council recognized both by passing two ceremonial resolutions last week commemorating the importance of workforce development training and dedicated programming.
Opportunity Week focuses on the promise of young people who are out of school and out of work (called Opportunity Youth), which describes about 10,200 young people in our city between the ages of 16 and 24. This puts us 33rd in the nation by states—far too high. Here’s why engaging these young people is critical: People who experience a period of disconnection as young adults go on to earn less and are less likely to be employed, own a home, or report good health by the time they reach their thirties. I was pleased to fund legislation in this year’s budget that enables disengaged youth to remain in the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program for six additional weeks. I remain committed to continuing to address youth disconnection to work opportunities by supporting youth who are most vulnerable, keeping youth connected, and re-engaging those who are already out of school and work.
I was also proud to fund my Pathways to District Government Careers Act this year to launch a public-sector apprenticeship initiative within District government. Apprenticeship Week celebrates the benefits of apprenticeships in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across industries, and I look forward to District government leading by example and providing more high-quality, high-demand apprenticeship programs in the coming year.
Student Visits to the Wilson Building: Recently I’ve had some great visits from students from Whittier Education Campus and DC Bilingual Public Charter School. We have talked about how local government works and how to advocate! These young people are quick studies. The Whittier 3rd graders were very concerned about transportation issues. And as all politics is local, the pre-k4 class universally advocated for monkey bars that are more suited for smaller hands and bodies! I enjoyed hearing from some of my younger constituents and look forward to welcoming more young advocates to the Wilson Building again soon.
Honoring DC Access: It was my pleasure to recognize one of the District’s exceptional local businesses, DC Access, with a ceremonial resolution as they celebrate 20 years in business as the city’s only local internet service provider! Owners Matt Wade and Martha Huizenga have brought thousands of residents, primarily on Capitol Hill and in Adams Morgan, affordable, reliable internet with the promise of great customer service and customer privacy. They are a true small business success story, and the District is lucky to have them. Congratulations, Matt and Martha!
Toys for Tots: The holiday season is quickly approaching, and families in need of some additional help providing holiday gifts to their children can register with Toys for Tots. District families can register online or in-person at any of the following ward-based locations until December 1:
Serve DC's Toys for Tots Distribution (Wards 1-4)
- DC Children’s Trust Fund (Ward 5)
- Trinidad Recreation Center (Ward 5)
- Rosedale Recreation Center (Ward 6)
- Southwest Comm-Unity Forum (Wards 6 and 7)
- Benning Stoddert Recreation Center (Ward 7)
- Deanwood Recreation Center (Ward 7)
- Girls Rule the World Annual Toy Distribution (Ward 8)
- Delaware Ave Baptist Church (Ward 8)
- St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church (Ward 8)
- Freedom Chapel International Christian Center, INC Distribution (Ward 8)
- D.C. Veterans Hiring Fair: Friday, November 15, from 10:00am-3:00pm (2001 E. Capitol St. SE)
- Metrobus Operator Training Program Open Testing Session: Saturday, November 16, from 9:00am-2:00pm at the Ronald Reagan Building (1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
- Labor Committee Roundtable on Project Empowerment & DC Career Connections: Thursday, November 21, starting at 11:00am in Room 500 at the John A. Wilson Building
Thanks for reading!