It has not been a good two weeks for the District.
Two Sundays ago, District residents learned from the Washington Post that Kwame Brown, the Chairman of the City Council, was responsible for the city leasing two "fully loaded" 2011 Lincoln Navigator SUVs at $1600 and $1900 per month respectively. It wasn't enough that the cost was excessive in these difficult times but also that he rejected the first SUV because the interior was the wrong color. The fact that the city already had a car for the Chairman made it even worse.
The Post also ran a story that Mayor Vincent Gray had hired many senior staff at record salaries and had hired the children of some of his staff members. Also, the Mayor himself had a "fully loaded" 2010 Lincoln Navigator SUV leased for him by the Metropolitan Police Department at $1900 per month. As the week went on, the stories got worse.
It was also learned that the administration had hired Mr. Sulaimon Brown for $110,000 per year. The next day after it was discovered that Mr. Brown had a checkered past, he was fired. This led to a press frenzy and allegations that the Mayor was hiding from reporters.
Then, as if it couldn't get any worse, it was disclosed that Dr. Allen Sessoms, President of the University of the District of Columbia, had spent thousands of dollars on travel and, you guessed it, had leased a "fully loaded" Lincoln Navigator SUV.
Everyone in the city was taken aback by these events. At a time when the city is struggling to balance its budget and show Wall Street and the new Republican Congress that we are acting responsibly, these revelations have done nothing to bolster the District's image.
Mayor Gray, Chairman Brown, and President Sessoms all need to address these issues head-on. In the case of Kwame Brown, the Attorney General is negotiating to return the two SUVs. Whatever cost the city incurs must be paid by Kwame Brown and not the taxpayers. If it means paying the city $17,000, so be it. Dr. Sessoms must also explain and justify his expenses or, as in the case of Kwame Brown, reimburse the University.
Let's hope that the events are one time lapses in judgment and are not repeated. The District cannot afford to once again become the butt of late night television jokes. It took many of us too long to undo the damage the last time this happened.
Evans Breaks Ground on
Georgetown Street Rehabilitation
Evans is joined by (L-R) ANC 2E Commissioners Jeff Jones,
Bill Starrels, and Ron Lewis (Chair), Mayor Gray,
ANC 2E Commissioner Ed Solomon, and
DDOT Interim Director Terry Bellamy.
Councilmember Jack Evans last week joined Mayor Vincent Gray, DDOT Interim Director Terry Bellamy, and several Georgetown ANC Commissioners to break ground on the long awaited O and P Street rehabilitation project in Georgetown.
"This project has been a long time coming and I am grateful we are finally getting it off the ground," said Evans.
The project, which spans O and P Streets between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street, will entail removing the existing cobblestones and trolley tracks, laying a new foundation, all while reusing as much of the existing materials as possible.
"The historical significance of this neighborhood and project cannot be overstated," Evans said. "This rehabilitation will resolve a long-standing safety issue as well as preserve the historic nature of one of the District's most beautiful neighborhoods."
Construction on the project will begin this spring and be completed by summer/fall 2012. Those looking for additional information can visit the project website here.
Ruth Werner is Evans' Georgetown liaison.
Evans Attends Ward 2 Neighborhood Meetings
Councilmember Evans recently attended several Ward 2 neighborhood meetings, including Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) 2C in Shaw and 2F in Logan Circle.
At ANC 2C, Evans discussed the many neighborhood development projects in the area including the O Street Market, Convention Center Headquarters Marriott Marquis Hotel, Kelsey Gardens, and City Center DC.
"In addition to make the neighborhood a better place to live and work, these projects will generate additional tax revenue which will be instrumental in propelling Shaw and the city forward," said Evans.
The redevelopment of Shaw Junior High School was discussed as another important neighborhood project and Evans expressed the importance of the community's involvement in determining what it would like to see on the site. He asked the ANC to take the lead role in gathering community input.
The discussion later moved on to the District's budget and addressing the deficit.
"The challenge that we face is that we must live within our means and make the difficult decisions," Evans said. "That being said, I would not trade our financial situation with any other state or jurisdiction and the good news is that our revenue estimates indicate that the city is on the upswing again."
Evans also explained to attendees the upcoming redistricting process, which will work to equalize the District's ward populations. Evans will co-chair the Redistricting Committee with At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown. In late March or early April, the city will receive Ward specific census information about potential population changes, after which public hearings will be held. A committee, consisting of individuals from all over the city, will then be set up to work on changes to ward and ANC boundaries. After completion of the redistricting process, no ward will have a population of less than 72,000.
In Logan Circle, at ANC 2F, Councilmember Evans also addressed the District's financial situation and answered several questions about DC's finances, including the District's relationship with the Wall Street bond rating agencies, as that affects the rate at which the District can borrow money.
"Some of my colleagues talk about raising taxes, but one of the reasons I'm opposed to that is that it is a short term fix," said Evans. "It will cover this year, but what about subsequent years? We can't continue spending money we don't have."
Residents applauded Evans for his role looking into the SUV's that are being leased by the city. ANC 2F Chair Charles Reed said he had more calls about this issue than anything else in recent memory.
Windy Abdul-Rahim is Evans' Shaw liaison.
Sherri Kimbel is Evans' Logan Circle liaison.
West Dupont Moratorium
Report & Recommendations
Over the past several months, an ad hoc committee established by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B has held public meetings and gathered comments regarding the liquor moratorium in western Dupont Circle, which is set to expire on March 23. The Committee has drafted a final report that proposes extending the Moratorium with notable modifications.
"I appreciate the hard work that went into developing this report by the ANC and other civic leaders," said Evans. "This is an important neighborhood issue and one that requires input from a significant number of stakeholders."
The report's recommendations include removing the cap on restaurant licenses, while keeping the current limit on tavern and nightclub licenses. Additionally, it encourages engaging new restaurant licensees to enter into Voluntary Agreements and establishes measures to track the impact of new licensees on western Dupont Circle.
If approved by ANC 2B at their March 9 meeting, the proposal to extend the Moratorium will go before the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, which will then hold hearings to determine whether or not to adopt the ANC's proposal.
The entire Moratorium report can be viewed here.
Andrew Huff is Evans' Dupont Circle liaison.
DDOT Announces DC Circulator
The District's Department of Transportation (DDOT) is hosting the first semi-annual public forum for the DC Circulator on Thursday, March 17 from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm to give passengers an opportunity to discuss current and future bus service. The forum will take place at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel (140 L Street, SE).
"I encourage everyone who uses this service to attend the meeting and let DDOT know how they are doing," said Evans. "The discussion will certainly affect the future of the Circulator."
The forum will cover a range of topics including potential changes to the span of the Union Station-Navy Yard route, a proposal to end service on the Smithsonian-National Gallery of Art route, and changes to the Convention Center-SW Waterfront route to accommodate the pending closure of Water Street, SW.
Residents requiring special accommodations or language assistance services (translation or interpretation) should contact Sandy Castor at 202-671-3499 in advance of the meeting. These services will be provided free of charge.
Small Business Resource Office
The District's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) recently announced plans for a Small Business Resource Center, scheduled to open this spring at the agency's headquarters at 1100 4th Street, SW.
The new center will strive to serve as a one-stop shop for residents interested in opening a small business, as well as to help residents maneuver the agency's permitting process. The goal of the Small Business Resource Center will be to cut in half the time required to receive permits. This will be accomplished by acting as a liaison between small business owners and the many District agencies involved in the permitting process.
"This new office will be of great benefit to the many small businesses that really define our neighborhoods and city," Evans said. "I am pleased to see DCRA taking additional steps to help and support them."
Sherri Kimbel is Evans' Director of Constituent Services.
District Offers Residents
Graffiti Removal Options
Have graffiti in your neighborhood or on your property and not sure how to have it removed?
The District's Department of Public Works (DPW) offers residents several ways to quickly remove graffiti.
DPW crews will remove graffiti from private property, but first require a waiver from the property owner. Please click here to download DPW's release form.
Alternatively, DPW will provide a voucher to property owners that may be redeemed at several local paint stores. Call 311 to obtain a voucher, which provides property owners with paint, primer, a brush, roller, pan, drop cloth, and graffiti scrubs free of charge.
Property owners may remove graffiti on their own by requesting a graffiti removal kit, also available from DPW by calling 311. The kit includes a non-toxic solvent that is applied and then sprayed off with a garden hose.
Sherri Kimbel is Evans' Director of Constituent Services.
The Committee on Finance and Revenue, chaired by Councilmember Evans, is conducting its Fiscal Year 2010 and 2011 Performance Oversight Hearing on Monday, March 7 in the Council Chambers. Agencies within oversight of the Committee, and will be providing testimony at the hearing include:
- The Office of the Chief Financial Officer
- DC Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board
- Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals
- Washington Convention and Sports Authority
The Committee on Finance and Revenue is also holding a public hearing on March 16 at 1:00 pm in room 120 on the following measures:
PR 19-65 the "Washington Convention and Sports Authority Board of Directors Lorraine A. Green Confirmation Resolution of 2011"
This resolution would appoint Lorraine A. Green as a public member and chairperson of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority Board of Directors, for a term to end May 16, 2015.
PR 19-102 the "German Marshall Fund of The United States Revenue Bonds Project Approval Resolution of 2011"
This resolution would authorize and provide for the issuance, sale, and delivery in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $14 million of District of Columbia revenue bonds in one or more series and to authorize and provide for the loan of the proceeds of such bonds to assist the German Marshall Fund of the United States in the financing, refinancing, or reimbursing of costs associated with an authorized project pursuant to section 490 of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act. The bond proceeds will be used to assist The German Marshall Fund of the United States in financing the renovations, furnishings and equipping of 2 separate units located at 1700 18th Street N.W., and 1744 R Street N.W., in Ward 2.
Bill 19-73, the "SOME, Inc. and Affiliates Transfer and Recordation Exemption And Equitable Tax Relief Act of 2011"
This act would provide exemption and equitable transfer and recordation tax relief to SOME, Inc., Affordable Housing Opportunities, Inc. and entities controlled, directly or indirectly by them.
To sign up to testify at either of these hearings, please contact Sarina Loy on the committee staff.
Councilmember Evans introduced several bills at the March 1 Legislative meeting, including:
"Automobile Lease, Procurement and Disposal Reform Act of 2011"
Co-introduced with Councilmember Biddle, this act addresses several aspects of the city's fleet of vehicles provided for official government use. The bill requires the Mayor to submit an annual report accounting of all government vehicles that are leased, owned or operated by the District of Columbia Government. The bill also states that the Mayor shall not renew any automobile leases for the District and not enter into any new automobile leases for the District without council approval.
"Charter School Participation in DCIAA Approval Resolution of 2011"
This legislation would allow Charter Schools who meet and provide proof of insurance, employ a full-time athletic trainer, agree to abide by DCIAA rules and regulations, and provide proof of academic eligibility and health physicals of their student athletes, to gain entrance into the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association.
"The Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2011"
Co-introduced with Councilmembers Cheh and Catania, this act would permit a notary public to officiate marriage ceremonies in the District of Columbia.
Ruth Werner is Evans' Legislative Aide.
Councilmember Evans is pleased to announce that he will be speaking to several civic and community organizations in March.
"I always look forward to the opportunity to hear directly from residents about what's working and what could be improved in the District," said Evans. "Attending these meetings on a regular basis allows me to do just that."
Evans will attend the following community meetings in March:
Resumes in the District on March 21!
Look for new signs in your neighborhood.
More Info Here!
Councilmember Jack Evans
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004