Newsletter: Jobs, Schools, and Initiative 77

Dear Resident, 

Welcome to summer!

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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 esilverman@dccouncil.us.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Building Pathways to D.C. Gov’t Jobs: Less than half of the jobs in the District are filled Silverman-7.jpgby D.C. residents, and that’s true for our D.C. government workforce as well. I want to increase those percentages and make sure that every District resident can compete for the great jobs we have in our government and in our city! That’s why in April, I introduced a bill that would create a public-sector apprenticeship program for District residents and give graduates of District high schools a clear pathway to entry-level District government jobs. Apprenticeships are one of the most promising strategies for reducing unemployment and preparing youth for work after graduation. I held a hearing on the bill earlier this month and, with all of the Committee members serving as either co-introducers or co-sponsors of the bill, I look forward to holding a Committee vote very soon. You can follow the bill’s progress here.

Ensuring Our First Source Law Works: On a related note, you may have seen recent press reports raising questions about how many District residents get work from projects or contracts supported by your District taxpayer dollars, such as the proposed $46 million tax abatement for The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. These are long-standing concerns that are rooted in the District’s First Source law, which was put in place to make sure that District residents benefit first when District government helps fund projects. The D.C. Auditor released two reports in April identifying a significant lack of policies and procedures at the Department of Employment Services (DOES) to effectively monitor our First Source program. These reports show why many residents see construction projects springing up in their neighborhoods but don’t see themselves or neighbors getting jobs from them.

I held a hearing the other week to look seriously into how many residents are actually getting First Source jobs, how we currently confirm the hiring data, and how we raise the bar to get more residents jobs on our taxpayer-funded projects. We have to get First Source right—that means making sure the law works effectively, is enforced properly, and provides real benefits to District residents, taxpayers, and businesses. You can watch the hearing here and submit written testimony until 5:00pm on Friday, July 6, to labor@dccouncil.us.  

Preparing Students for Graduation and Beyond: The future of our city depends on theMikva_Civic_Actions_Fair.JPG success of our public schools to prepare our youngsters not only for work but for adult life. Like many of you, I am troubled by the ongoing turmoil facing our public school system right now. I am working with my colleagues to focus on a plan and real strategy for moving forward in tangible ways: reducing chronic absenteeism, improving graduation rates without violating truancy and grading policies, and building more transparency into the D.C. Public Schools’ (DCPS) central office.

I recently attended the Education Committee’s hearing on graduation rate accountability to ask State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang, Interim DCPS Chancellor Amanda Alexander, and D.C. Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson about what they are doing to ensure these problems don’t carry into the next school year. While changes in approach are certainly needed, the Council also has an opportunity to put resources in place to better meet the underlying needs of some of our most disengaged and complex students. I am eager to hear more from parents, students, teachers, and administrators about what resources are needed and where. If you fall into one of those categories, I would love to hear from you. You should also hold the date for two community forums being hosted by DCPS on Thursday, July 19, at 9:00am and 6:00pm.  

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Joining Neighbors Across the City: Over the last couple of weeks, my staff and I Pop_Local_Site_Visit_2.JPGhave enjoyed meeting residents at Columbia Heights Day and the Shepherd Park Community Association Picnic, celebrating the grand opening of Martha’s Table in Ward 8, and joining summer participants at the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program Kickoff. Special thanks to the Ward 8 Arts & Culture Council for hosting me at their Pop Local pop-up shop at L’Enfant Plaza to talk about expanding workforce opportunities East of the River.

The summer is young, so take a look at what else is coming up:

Ongoing

  • D.C. Free Summer Meals Program: Available Monday, June 18, to Friday, August 17, and open to all children in the District ages 18 and under. There is no registration, no identification, and no parental guidance required to participate.
  • Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series: Every Friday through August 24 from 6:00-8:00pm at the corner of South Dakota Ave. NE and Galloway St. NE

Upcoming

  • Barracks Row Fourth of July Parade: Wednesday, July 4, from 10:00-11:00am from 8th & I Streets SE to 8th & E Streets SE
  • Palisades Fourth of July Parade: Wednesday, July 4, from 11:00am-2:00pm from Whitehaven Parkway & MacArthur Boulevard NW to the Palisades Recreation Center (5200 Sherier Place NW)
  • Hearing on SALT cap bill: Friday, July 6, at 10:00am at the John A. Wilson Building (Room 120, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
    • Details here for the District of Columbia Education Charitable Donations Amendment Act of 2018
  • Hearing on driver's license revocation bill: Friday, July 6, at 11:00am at the John A. Wilson Building (Room 500, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
    • Details here for the Driver's License Revocation Fairness Amendment Act of 2017
  • Education Town Hall (Ward 1): Monday, July 9, from 6:00-7:30pm at Mt. Pleasant Library (3160 16th Street NW)
  • Roundtable on implementation of paid family leave: Wednesday, July 11, at 1:00pm at the John A. Wilson Building (Room 120, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
  • Education Town Hall (Ward 4): Wednesday, July 11, from 6:00-7:30pm at Shepherd Park Library (7420 Georgia Ave NW)
  • Hearing on DCRA reform bills: Thursday, July 12, at 9:30am at the John A. Wilson Building (Room 500, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) 
    • The hearing will focus on two bills: Substandard Construction Relief Amendment Act of 2018 and Blighted Property Redevelopment Amendment Act of 2018. Bill details here.

Thanks so much for reading.
Elissa.