March 8, 2021
March 7th marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID in the District.  Every corner of the city has been affected. The virus has impacted so many elements of our lives; those we’ve lost, the businesses that have closed, and the families that are struggling to make ends meet and educate their children. With my wife, Christy, and I working from home with young kids, we have struggled along with many other parents with brutal daily schedules. And, like so many of you, Covid cases and deaths have hit close to home. But with vaccine rollouts in the District and across the country, I hope we all are finding new hope.

In the face of our challenges, I’m continually inspired by the many stories I hear of friends and neighbors doing the best they can to help each other. These residents deserve a government that is doing the best it can. Here are some of the ways I’m fighting for that. 

  • Vaccine Registrations: We had a hearing last week to discuss the many problems residents experienced with the vaccine registration system. Since then, we’ve had two new registration periods that have gone more smoothly, and the District will be moving to a pre-registration system this week to allow eligible residents to register in advance of appointments opening up every Thursday and Friday. I will keep working to make sure our vaccination registration system is functional and fair for our residents. 

  • Biased Threat Assessments: Our residents also deserve fairness when it comes to law enforcement. In February, I introduced legislation that would mandate the Office of the Attorney General to conduct a study to examine bias—conscious or unconscious— in the Metropolitan Police Department’s threat assessments. Law enforcement biases when assessing threats have been a danger to people of color for years. On January 6th, bias left us underprepared for the deadly insurrection by predominantly white homegrown extremists. The study will analyze historical bias in MPD’s assessment of threats and help prepare the District for future threats from homegrown extremists.

  • Education: District schools are not working for students of color, English Language Learner students, or students with disabilities. With less than 16% of at-risk students and less than 30% of Black students on grade level, I proposed a Special Committee to review our education governance structure. I’m disappointed that The Council did not take this up at our latest legislative meeting, but I remain committed to work with urgency to identify and fix what is not working in our schools. Yes, this is a very real challenge, but educating our children is our greatest responsibility as a city.

As we work to bring equity across everything the government does, we can’t lose sight of the fact that our policies, from criminal justice reform to equity in education all serve to create a gentler landing when people fall. Education, though, serves to prevent people from falling in the first place. Let’s determine what is and what is not working and bring about meaningful change. Let’s continue to listen, talk to each other, and be committed to stronger schools for all students. 


 
OTHER NEWS

During Black History Month, I worked with Colgate Bright Smiles, the Xi Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, and the Omicron Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to read stories every Tuesday night for children of the District. Additionally, my office planned the DC Council’s Black History Month program, a discussion about the history and importance of Black Greek Lettered Organizations. 

It came to my attention that all Returning Citizens were not receiving their one-time $1,000 financial hardship payment. COVID makes no distinctions between returning citizens who live in halfway homes and those who don’t, and we shouldn’t either. So, I sent a letter to Mayor Bowser asking her to work with me to make sure we are providing appropriate guidance to administering agencies. 

I testified before the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee to urge passage of a bill to create a civilian police complaint board for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The DC Council passed this in 2020, but Maryland and Virginia must do the same for it to take effect. I am encouraged by steps the Metro Transit Police Department is taking. I believe they want to increase trust and improve policing practices, but they must go further.

We don’t teach personal finance in our schools, and yet all adults need this skill set. I was proud to re-introduce a bill to create a financial literacy program in DC public high schools to teach students basics like budgeting, taxes, investing, borrowing, and interest. 

I also reintroduced a bill that would protect and support small businesses during this trying financial time. The bill would help businesses working on DC government contracts get paid quicker, help DC businesses get more government contracts, and close loopholes that hurt local businesses, like preventing outside companies from claiming to be local businesses.

DC Government is working to connect up to 25,000 households with students enrolled at DC public and public charter schools that receive SNAP or TANF benefits to one year of free at-home internet provided by Comcast or RCN. If your family or a family you know needs internet access, please help them sign up.


NEED TO REACH ME OR A MEMBER OF MY TEAM?
My office is teleworking, but still available to you. Connect with me and my staff via phone or email. Please call my personal office at (202) 724-8174, committee office at (202) 741-8593 or email any of my team members.
PERSONAL OFFICE STAFF








COMMITTEE OFFICE STAFF




Robert C. White, Jr. Councilmember, At-Large | Council of the District of Columbia
Phone: (202) 724-8174 | Fax: (202) 727-8210 | www.RobertWhiteAtLarge.com