From Charles Allen <[email protected]>
Subject Ward 6 Update: Climate & Budget, Public Safety, and Park Upgrades
Date April 26, 2024 10:57 PM
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Friend --

The work to finalize the city's next budget is in full swing. This week and next week are the final public hearings held at the Council. That also means plenty of DC residents and advocates are walking the building to fight for their priorities - including some passionate students from Mundo Verde public charter school and School Without Walls High School who stopped by to advocate for environmental programs in their schools (pictured). 

It's been a busy and exciting few weeks in Ward 6, with several major improvement projects to our parks and public spaces moving forward, including a DPR meeting for the renovations of the basketball court, dog park, and field entrance at Kingsman Park, upgrades to the playground and basketball courts at Watkins Elementary, and RFPs issued for planning and design work to begin for the Garfield Park Connector and Rumsey Aquatic Center on Capitol Hill and Randall Rec Center in Southwest  -- all projects I secured funding for in past budgets. And don't miss the new playground that's just opened at 17th and C NE <[link removed]> (known as Spielberg Park) -- another project I funded in the budget years ago when this park was in Ward 6, but it's finally, finally now completed and is a great space for a lot of families!

Quick Links: Budget Town Hall <#budget%20town%20hall> | Public Safety <#public%20safety> | Dangerous Drivers <#dangerous%20drivers> | Bike to School Day <#Bike%20to%20School> | WMATA Budget <#WMATA%20Budget> | WMATA Future <#WMATA%20Dedicated> | Planned Parenthood <#PPMW> | Watkins Rec Upgrades <#watkins> | Early Voting <#early%20voting> | Mass Ave NE <#Mass%20Ave> | Safety Around Amidon ES <#Amidon> | Pepco Scam <#Pepco%20Scam> | Anacostia River Festival <#river%20festival> | Volunteer to Help Senior Neighbors <#Volunteer> | Friends of Lincoln Park <#Lincoln%20Park> | Estate Planning & Probate <#Probate> | RFK Events Hotline <#RFK> | Tickets! <#tickets>


Ward 6 Budget Town Hall -  I Want to Hear Your Priorities.

The Council is headed toward our first round of budget votes in the coming weeks. But before we do, I want to hear from you. By now, you've heard the District's budget is going to be tighter than usual with difficult decisions ahead. I've worked through difficult budgets and tough choices before, but we also have to ensure our city's budget reflects our priorities, is fair to our residents and businesses, and any burden is shared so that it doesn't all fall on one group of neighbors. With the budget proposed by the Mayor, we're looking at 200 DC Public School positions being eliminated (including in Ward 6 schools), the elimination of the fund that pays our early childcare workers a better wage and grows our childcare industry for families across DC, sweeping the money that builds our solar and clean energy infrastructure, cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit rebate (effectively raising taxes on low-wage workers), and a lot more. I won't pretend there are easy decisions to solve these challenges, but we need to talk about the tough trade-offs, and I want to hear from you. More than 100 neighbors have RSVPed to join in person and online. Join me on Monday, April 29 at the Northeast Library from 6-7:30pm for our Budget Town Hall. RSVP here <[link removed]>, and invite your neighbors along, as well. If you want to join online, click the link, and you'll get more details.


Public Safety Update

Public safety remains the top priority for me and every elected leader in our city. And while MPD is reporting significant decreases <[link removed]> in crime so far this year (they've shared that in Ward 6, carjackings are down 32%, homicides 75%, and robberies 15%), we know it's not nearly enough. And of course, all the stats in the world don't matter much if a crime happened to you, to someone you know, or to a neighbor down the block. The trends MPD are reporting is good news, and I believe Chief Smith and her District commanders deserve a lot of credit for adjusting tactics and deployments to be responsive to what they're seeing and hearing -- including on their regular community walks in the Ward <[link removed]> like the ones my team and I joined in the last week around Stanton Park in NE, near King-Greenleaf Rec Center in SW, along H Street NE, and in Mt. Vernon Triangle in NW.

There continue to be a lot of serious issues facing us, and I'm still focused that until we resolve issues with the crime lab, the 911 Call Center, our juvenile justice agency, and in ensuring good arrests lead to good prosecutions, DC won't be addressing many of the key reasons underlying the 2023 crime spike. I'll also plug my bill, the Ensuring Safe Forensic Evidence Handling for Sexual Assault Survivors Amendment Act of 2023 <[link removed]>, which would absolutely help catch sex offenders by preserving criminal evidence when a victim isn't ready to immediately come forward. A hearing has been held, and I'm hopeful we'll see a vote in the Judiciary Committee soon (or just efforts by the Mayor to preserve these rape kits without needing legislation to do it). 

I wanted to share a few other timely updates:

Real-Time Crime Center Opens: One tool that could help is better coordination immediately after a crime. Earlier this month, DC's Real-Time Crime Center opened and helps coordinate among law enforcement agencies following an incident to provide responding officers with information in minutes rather than days from video surveillance. As you'll see below, MPD has credited this center with helping officers make several arrests quickly. 

Four People Arrested and Charged in 33 Carjackings in DC and Maryland: Earlier this week, the US Attorney's Office announced <[link removed]> charging four men with 76 counts related to 33 carjackings that took place between December 2022 and June 2023. Read more in WTOP <[link removed]>. I applaud the investigation and coordination it took to bring these charges, and it's a reminder how much damage a small number of people can do and why making these arrests is so important. When our response is focused on those individuals most likely to be involved in crime, it can make a big difference.

Arrest Made in Two Robberies on Capitol Hill: On Monday, MPD arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with two robberies <[link removed]> from late March near I Street SE and 2nd Place SE.

Arrest Made in Gun Shots at 17th and Independence SE:MPD made an arrest <[link removed]> using info from the Real-Time Crime Center following gun shots near 17th and Independence SE, an area that's been hit with far too much gun violence in recent months.

Ward 6 Organizations Receive Mini-Grants for Violence Prevention:Congratulations to the seven award winners for the Spring 2024 Building Blocks grants in Ward 6. These are grants meant to fund interventions at the hyper-local level and allow existing organizations to best tailor their work to reach at-risk people. The grants fund a range of programs, including targeted childhood therapy at Shirley Chisholm Elementary School (formerly Tyler), which has shown to help children de-escalate conflicts and improve behavior. 

Arrest Made in CVS Theft: For Navy Yard neighbors, MPD made an arrest <[link removed]> following a theft at the CVS by a group of people -- something that made the rounds on social media. They're searching for additional suspects still.


Cracking Down on Dangerous Drivers

Dangerous driving is an issue I hear about nearly every time I head to a community meeting. I want to recommend this thread from David Zipper <[link removed]> about why American roads are uniquely deadly, even among peer nations. David is a well-informed commentator on urban issues and planning, and his insights around driver behavior getting worse because of a lack of accountability rings true here, just as it does in public safety issues. 

<[link removed]>This is why I introduced and led the Council to pass the STEER Act earlier this year, a law that gives teeth to our Automatic Traffic Enforcement cameras to ensure there's actually a consequence (coverage in WTOP <[link removed]>, Fox5 <[link removed]>, DC News Now <[link removed]>). For those drivers who drive with impunity while racking up multiple dangerous driving violations, the law prioritizes getting them off our roads. And with the lack of regional reciprocity for tickets (and no progress from the Executive on the horizon) it also gives the DC Attorney General authority to go after those drivers - and the cars themselves - in court. Notably, both of those provisions apply to vehicles from DC, Maryland, Virginia, and any other state. 

Why am I talking about this now? Because the law can't go into effect until it's funded. The Mayor didn't include any money to fund these accountability tools in her proposed budget, but it's going to be a priority of mine during this budget cycle. 


Kicking the Can: Proposed Budget Defunds Clean Energy and Environment Investments

On Monday, I'll hold a public hearing on the proposed budgets for the Department of Energy and the Environment and the DC Green Bank, which is really a hearing on the budget for the District's efforts to mitigate climate change and make sure residents have clean air and water.  

The cuts proposed in the Mayor's budget basically zero out most of the ways the District funds clean energy infrastructure and our environmental programming, and in particular, our programs benefitting low- and moderate-income households. Specifically, the Mayor's budget cuts much of the money in the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (a city fund you chip into every month on your utility bill) and uses that funding - which is intended for a whole host of investments and to unlock private and federal funds - to instead literally just pay the District's electricity bills (and to move away from renewable sources in doing even that).

This proposal stops affordable housing development, would cost DC jobs, keeps seniors on fixed incomes from modernizing their homes (pictured to the right are new, electric heat pumps installed in a 500 household community in Ward 7), and for anyone thinking about adding solar to their homes, creates a much longer payoff timeline. It's harmful and short-sighted. We're also seeing major cuts to the funds that come from our plastic bag fee, which supports a lot of waterfront clean-up, education, and programming. Next Monday, I'll be looking for answers on why this budget was proposed and ways we can walk back some of the cuts, if not all. The hearing will be streamed live on my Facebook page <[link removed]> and the Council's website <[link removed]>.

I also want to share this Vox piece in light of everything I've just said above <[link removed]>. We're making progress on lowering emissions, which means increasing the likelihood we avoid the most dire future scenarios for our children and grandchildren. The situation remains urgent, but it's important to recognize progress where it's real. This is not the time to kick the can on our climate commitments. The District has been a leader in making the transition to a clean energy future built around electricity sourced from renewables, and on cleaning up our land and waterways. Now's not the time to let up. 


Bike to School Day is May 8

A favorite tradition for students returns - Bike to School Day! Join me, hundreds of your neighbors, and plenty of friends for Ward 6 Bike to School Day at Lincoln Park. We'll stretch, tune up our bikes, and then each school will head off for to school together. It's a great way to celebrate biking to school as an option and meet your neighbors. We get started at 7:50 am and head off by 8:20 am. See you there!


WMATA Approves FY25 Budget, Avoids 'Doomsday' Cuts

There is good budget news out there though! Remember just a few months ago when there were several news cycles about WMATA's fiscal cliff and doomsday budget? Well, with very little drama, this week, WMATA's Board of Directors approved a $4.8 billion dollar budget for its upcoming fiscal year that avoids any major reductions in service. This is entirely because of the hard work we did in recent months with my elected colleagues around the region so that the District, Maryland, and the Virginia all came together and identified funding to support WMATA in the upcoming budget.  

Nationwide, WMATA is one of the few major systems where ridership is growing and service is improving <[link removed]>. It’s also one of the major systems without dedicated funding. It’s time to recognize that WMATA is the lifeblood of our region and secure its future, instead of careening from one fiscal crisis to the next.

Speaking of...


I'm Convening Regional Leaders and WMATA on a Long-Term Solution to WMATA's Budget

Putting on my hat as Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (which we call "COG"), I'm happy to share that the COG Executive Board and the WMATA Board will meet next week to kick off a new regional initiative to secure dedicated funding for our WMATA system. COG is the perfect body to bring people together like this <[link removed]> because it includes elected and government leaders from every city, county, and state served by WMATA as members. I'll be co-chairing this meeting along with WMATA Board Chair Paul Smedberg.


Reproductive Rights are under Attack. Join Me for a Conversation with Planned Parenthood.

On May 20 at 6:30pm, I'll be joining Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC's CEO Laura Meyers for a special conversation and Q&A on the state of reproductive rights in District. We've seen unprecedented setbacks for people across the country and at the federal level in recent years, and given DC's unique vulnerability to Congress, we have to always be looking ahead and thinking about ways to both protect and expand reproductive rights. And of course, we'll take audience questions as well. The event is free. RSVP for your ticket here <[link removed]>.


Watkins Playground & Rec Center Walk & Talk

For my neighbors near Watkins Elementary School and the connected playground, field, roller rink, and courts, I have good news. First, our long saga to repair the fence is finally close to over, with temporary repairs made a few weeks ago. Second, and even better, two years after I funded the project, DPR and DGS are moving forward with a larger modernization of the rec center spaces. I want to be sure neighbors can share with DPR and DGS directly what they want to see in the modernization, so I'm partnering with both agencies to host a Walk & Talk on the playground on Monday, May 6 at 6 pm. My team and agency staff will be there to hear from you on what issues need to be addressed and what they should consider as they redesign the space. Let's build a beautiful rec center we can all be proud of! RSVP here <[link removed]>.


Early Voting and Mail-In Ballots Are Just Around the Corner!

If you hadn't heard, 2024 is an election year, and the District's Primary Election is around the corner. Remember that we still have in-person voting on Election Day itself - June 4 - at centralized Vote Centers across the District, but every registered voter also will automatically get a ballot in their mailbox. This was a change we made after COVID to modernize our elections. And they're coming soon - next week, in fact!

Here are all the important dates you need to know:

- Monday, April 29: The Board of Elections starts mailing ballots to registered voters. Return postage is paid on every ballot, so it's easy to just drop your completed ballot in the mail to vote.
- Friday, May 10 - Tuesday, June 4 (at 8pm): Ballot drop boxes are open. If you prefer to use a drop box rather than put in the mail, you can find the closest drop box to you here <[link removed]>, with six across Ward 6. 
- Sunday, May 26 - Sunday, June 2 (but not Memorial Day), 8:30am-7pm: Early voting at Early Vote Centers.Here's the full list <[link removed]>, and note the Ward 6 sites at Walker-Jones MS/Terrell Rec, King-Greenleaf Rec, and Sherwood Rec (and Ward 6-adjacent sites at Rosedale Rec and Arthur Capper Community Center). Remember that you can vote at any Vote Center, regardless of your Ward residency.
- Tuesday, June 4, 7am-8pm: Primary Election Day with in-person voting at Vote Centers; postmark those mail-in ballots by today! Here's the full list <[link removed]> of Election Day Vote Centers, including nine in Ward 6. You can also vote at any Vote Center in the District on Election Day.
- Friday, June 14: Deadline for the Board of Elections to receive the ballot you mailed in on or before June 4. 

Make a plan to vote using this cool map <[link removed]>, view sample ballots, and ensure your registration is up to date all in one place: [link removed]


Bike and Multimodal Safety Improvements Coming to Mass Ave NE Near Stanton Park

DDOT has announced planning to install improved bicycle and multimodal safety improvements on Massachusetts Avenue NE between 2nd and 4th Street NE and along C Street NE between 4th and 6th Streets. This is the beginning of a planning process, one that will involve ANC 6C for those who want to get involved. But it's one that's sorely needed to improve the safety for all road users -- I've seen plenty of crashes, including a flipped car, on that stretch of Mass. As far as next steps, keep an eye on the agenda for upcoming ANC 6C transportation committee meetings <[link removed]> where DDOT project managers will introduce the project and take feedback from neighbors on existing conditions. 


Additional Safety Signage at Amidon-Bowen Elementary in SW

Here in Ward 6, we celebrate big wins and little ones. And let me tell you, I'm very glad to see DDOT make safety changes in response to requests from me, ANC 6D, and Amidon-Bowen parents and school leadership. That includes a floating pedestrian island, flashing pedestrian signage, and signage making clear where parents can pick-up and drop-off at the school. This is a small, but important, step toward safe passage, and it could make the difference between life and death for our smallest pedestrians. 


Warning on New Pepco Scam 

Sharing this important alert from DC's Office of the People's Counsel (OPC) on a scam misleading residents on their Pepco bill. Here's what OPC wants you to know: 

"Recently, the Office of the People's Counsel has received reports of utility scams targeting seniors, low and moderate income consumers, and limited English-speaking District consumers. Based on information from consumers, the scammers are calling Pepco customers, explaining they have done meter work and explaining the customer will now be disconnected in 15 minutes if they don't pay their adjusted bill. The scammers may also ask for your account or social security numbers. Most often they will tell you that your service will be shut off unless you make an immediate payment to them.

OPC warns consumers to remain ALERT:

- Unless there is a public safety emergency, or after multiple disconnection notices have been mailed to you, utility representatives rarely come to your home or make rate offers by telephone.
- NEVER give anyone, especially telephone solicitors, any personal or account information such as your social security number, utility account number or credit card number.
- NEVER agree to make a payment using a “green dot” or fast payment card at a convenience store.
- BEFORE making any decision regarding your utility service, check with your energy supplier for your current account balance to ensure that your service is not going to be disconnected.
- DO NOT be pressured to choose a “limited time” offer to sign up for any services. Ask for any offer made by phone to be provided to you in writing, so that you can review it carefully.

OPC has contacted Pepco to inform them of this latest attempt to steal from consumers. If you suspect you have been contacted by a scammer or that your personal information may have been shared, contact OPC immediately at (202) 727-3071 to talk with a Consumer Outreach Specialist who can investigate your complaint."


The 10th Annual Anacostia River Festival is May 4

From our friends with the 11th Street Bridge Park team: 

"2024 marks the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of the Anacostia River Festival presented by the 11th Street Bridge Park, the National Park Service, and National Cherry Blossom Festival. On May 4th, visitors can experience Southeast DC’s vibrant arts scene and shop locally from talented entrepreneurs east of the river. Guests can explore the beautiful Anacostia watershed with activities and fishing at the Anacostia River Festival. Enjoy sounds from the Navy Band, Adamare Music, & Junkyard Band. It's Free & Family Friendly!

- When: Saturday, May 4th, 2024; 1 pm – 5 pm 
- Where: National Park Service’s Anacostia Park. Marion Barry Ave & Anacostia Drive SE
- Who: FREE and open to the public.
- For more <[link removed]>


Volunteer Opportunity: Help Seniors with Yard Work

My office is partnering with Capitol Hill Village for its Gardenpalooza event on Saturday, May 4, from 9am-12pm, and we need your help! We’re looking for 25 volunteers to help Capitol Hill seniors spruce up their yards. Volunteers will meet at the Capitol Hill Village headquarters, 1335 E Street, SE, at 9am.  Bring a pair of gloves, and supplies will be provided. If this sounds like something you'd want to do, please contact Kimberly Kennedy <mailto:[email protected]> on my team for more information.


Friends of Lincoln Park Group Enters Formal Relationship with National Park Service

Lincoln Park is a wonderful, beloved park that's active most weeknights and packed on a beautiful weekend day. It's also one of the more challenging public spaces to get repairs, since it's technically national park land managed by the National Park Service, meaning the federal government. That's why I'm excited to share that the Friends of Lincoln Park are stepping up their engagement to keep Lincoln Park in good repair. The group recently signed a philanthropic partnership agreement with the National Park Service to formalize a sustained and long-term collaboration. The Friends of Lincoln Park is a group for all neighbors, visitors, parents, picnickers, dog walkers, runners, sports-players, and others representing the diverse uses of this neighborhood treasure. You can join the Friends of Lincoln Park’s listserv here <[link removed]>.


Learn about Estate Planning & Probate in Hill East Tomorrow

Join me, the Hill East Civic Association, and several legal services providers tomorrow, April 27, from 10-2 at St. Coletta's for a community gathering on estate planning, probate, and property. From the organizers:

"Learn about your rights and the steps you can take to plan for your future and protect your property, possessions, and loved ones. At this event, DC residents will have the opportunity to complete on-site intake and may be paired with a lawyer at no cost from a participating organization. This free event is open to DC residents, with priority given to residents of the Hill East neighborhood. Advance registration is required here <[link removed]>."


New RFK Campus Events Community Hotline

It's festival season at RFK, and with that comes impacts to the community. Events DC, which manages the RFK campus, has created a new community hotline for neighborhood concerns like traffic, trash, and noise. The number will be staffed from 1 hour before doors open for an event to 1 hour after doors close each day of the planned upcoming outdoor festivals. Call 202-249-3400 to avoid 311 and 911 for non-emergency issues related to RFK operations. Heads up for neighbors: this weekend, Project GLOW is back, and doors open at 1pm and close at 11pm. The Fields will also be closed to the public tomorrow and Sunday. 


Ticket Giveaway, Spirit Edition! Sat, May 18 v. Angel City FC

You made it to the end! If you'd like to enter a raffle for Washington Spirit tickets to the Saturday, May 18, match against Angel City FC, just reply to this email.

See you around the neighborhood,

Charles Allen

Councilmember Charles Allen - 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 110, Washington, DC 20004, United States
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