Newsletter: Safety Tips for a Spooky Weekend

Dear Resident,

Today and tomorrow, I am meeting with progressive local officials from across the country at the 4th annual Local Progress conference (www.localprogress.org). I am looking forward to meeting counterparts in places such as Kansas City, New York City, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Baltimore—sharing ideas on how to close our income and opportunity gaps and creating economically vibrant, competitive, and inclusive communities. I hope to learn a lot from what has—and hasn't—worked elsewhere. But there is a lot going on in our city and at the Wilson Building. I want to give you a few quick updates, and I'll be writing more in the next newsletter.

Public Safety

Public safety and effective public policy approaches to divert crime remain a front-burner issue. I know that many of my Capitol Hill neighbors have been rattled by a series of armed robberies in Ward 6. Last week I met with Ward 6 Councilmember Allen and spoke with MPD officials about increasing patrols and visibility in areas that have seen an uptick in violent crime. Councilmember Allen and his staff have been very focused on this, and I have offered my assistance in reinforcing his message.

Commander Brown and Chief Lanier have made this a priority, and in the last few days I have noticed much more visible presence of officers on bike and in patrol cars in the area around H Street NE and Union Station. MPD has made arrests in connection with the robberies, and Councilmember Allen is working closely with First District Commander Brown and MPD leadership to address concerns about safety and answer any questions you may have.

I want to make you aware of several public safety meetings you can attend this week. I regret that I will be out of town, but my staff will be in attendance:

Tonight: Mayor Bowser will be speaking to the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly at Arena Stage, 1101 6th Street SW, at 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow
: Councilmember Allen will be holding a community meeting at Friendship Public Charter School, 1345 Potomac Ave SE, at 7:00 p.m. Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Kevin Donahue and Chief Lanier will be outlining their response plan and answering questions directly. You can find more information about the meeting and safety updates on his website.

The Ward 6 Mayor’s Office of Community Relations (MOCRS) will also be holding office hours in Ward 6 over the next few weeks to hear directly from residents regarding issues and concerns. This week’s office hours are on Tuesday at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 1636 East Capitol Street NE, from 3:00 – 6:30 p.m. Contact Seth Shapiro for additional information at seth.shapiro@dc.gov.

Wednesday: The Second District Community Advisory Council will meet at the Second District police station, 3320 Idaho Avenue NW at 7:00 p.m.

Police and media reports about the Hill robberies made me think about my own practices while walking. A few reminders:

  • Be aware of your surroundings by not using ear buds and not checking email on your smart phone while walking and taking public transportation. This makes you an easy target for robbery.
  • Call 911 if you witness a crime or suspicious activity. You can also text MPD at 50411 or call the district police station. The police station numbers are here.
  • Attend your Police Service Area (PSA) meetings and get to know your officers! Our MPD officers are helped by knowing residents and business owners. Need to figure out your PSA? Type your address in here if you need help figuring out your PSA.

Affordable Housing

I’m excited to have recently been asked to join Mayor Bowser’s Housing Preservation Strike Force. At the Mayor’s request, city representatives, nonprofit housing experts, and private industry professionals have teamed up to address one of the most serious problems our community faces – the lack of affordable housing. While the Council and administration are doing everything we can to encourage creation of new affordable housing, it is just as important for us to preserve the affordable housing we have now. Our group is working to identify properties in danger of losing affordability and evaluating all of our tools for ensuring their long-term affordability. The Strike Force has a tough job ahead, but there are a lot of very smart people working on it, and I thank Mayor Bowser for asking me to be part of this important effort.

WHERE I’VE BEEN

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DC Public Schools Food Services Site Visits: Last Friday, I visited five DC public schools to taste their school meals, meet with food services staff, tour kitchen facilities, and hear from students on how we can improve the food options that are provided to them. Thank you to Rob Jaber, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, for helping coordinate the site visits and accompanying us throughout the day. Community Outreach Director Ashley Fox and Policy Advisor Sam Rosen-Amy from my office attended as well. The recent decision by Chartwells to exit their contract with DCPS brought a new sense of urgency to making sure that quality food service is provided to our students. While oversight is important to making sure we’re getting what we paid for, I wanted to hear from those who receive these services for added accountability as we develop a sound solution for the coming school years.

If you have a child that attends one of the following schools, they may have spotted us at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School (Ward 6), Kelly Miller Middle School (Ward 7), Anacostia High School (Ward 8), Malcolm X Elementary School (Ward 8), and Shepherd Elementary School (Ward 4). I walked through the line with students at each site and sampled a DCPS breakfast, lunch, and snack throughout the day. I was able to try at least one meal from every vendor that currently holds a food service contract with DCPS—Chartwells, DC Central Kitchen, and Revolution Foods. There are several themes from my cafeteria conversations with students at all grade levels:

  • Students like having control over their food. Including them in the conversation about how to best provide nutritious, tasty meals is the first step toward better school food service in the District.
  • Vegetables are good…when they’re seasoned. Elementary school students are required to have all five nutritional components on their trays, while middle and high school students have more selection over what items they choose to eat from the components provided to them. In either case, the kids we spoke with said they liked vegetables that had a little more flavor. You can take a look at the DCPS nutritional standards here on their website.
  • Friendly, well-prepared kitchen staff is as important as the meal. I was happy to see the personal relationships many of the younger children had with the food service staff and hope we will keep a high standard for food service employees and training.

A new request for proposals to secure a food services contract for DCPS will be going out soon. As the Office of Food and Nutrition Services prepares for this, they want to hear your feedback and ideas on how to better serve students, schools, and families. You can read more about DCPS nutrition and meals on their website and share your feedback by emailing Allison D’Aurora, DCPS Community Engagement Coordinator, at allison.daurora@dc.gov.

IN THE COMMUNITY

Career Fair: In collaboration with Councilmember Allen and Arena Stage, we are hosting a career training workshop for registered individuals and a job fair with local companies looking to hire new employees. If you know someone you know would benefit from attending, please make sure to share this information. Pre-registration is required, and you can register by contacting one of the partner agencies listed here.

  • When: This is a two-part event on Friday, Oct. 30. Registration is required for both parts. The career training workshops are from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., and the career fair is from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
  • Where: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th Street Southwest, Washington, DC 20024


Halloween Festivities:
There are two safe trick or treating events I’ll be supporting this year that are sure to be a lot of fun! Both events are free and open to all children and their families. I’ve been brainstorming costume ideas and am accepting candy suggestions, so I hope you will join the community for a safe, fun, and sugar-filled night out.

  • Hill-o-ween on Capitol Hill
    • When: Friday, Oct. 30, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    • Where: 7th Street SE between Pennsylvania Avenue and North Carolina Avenue SE
  • Ward 8 Trunk or Treat: I’m excited to join Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May as an honorary co-chair of Ward 8’s Trunk or Treat this year! Trunk or Treat is held with a collection of cars that decorate their trunks to create a safe place for kids to grab candy and treats. I’ll be donating my (decorated!) 2007 Prius and handing out goodies on Saturday. The organizing committee is still accepting donations of candy, food (hotdogs, hamburgers, buns, chips), water, and other beverages. You can also register your trunk or sign up for a volunteer shift until Friday, Oct. 30 if you are able to donate your time. Contact Ashley Fox in my office at afox@dccouncil.us for more information.
    • When: Saturday, Oct. 31, from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    • Where: The Big Chair at the intersection of Martin Luther King Ave. and V Street SE.


Thanks so much, and stay safe this weekend.

Elissa.