Thursday, July 30, 2009

Free online mandated reporter training

On July 6, Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) announced the new online training for those required by law to report suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect in the District.   The training covers:
  • How to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect
  • How to talk to child and youth victims
  • When to report
  • How to report

The training includes pre- and post-tests and learning activities.   This online education opportunity allows users to start, pause and re-start the training.   To participate, go to dc.mandatedreporter.org/.

The training was developed by Western Illinois University's Center for the Application of Information Technologies.

Susie's commentary:   This training is long overdue as became abundantly clear after the Jacks tragedy when the number of mandated reporter trainings dramatically increased.   Good, right?   Not really.   Some of the post-tragedy trainings misinformed attendees, incorrectly representing the law and its mandates.

This should be the required training for all mandated reporters.

Privatizing APRA

One month ago, the Office of Contracting and Procurement issued a solicitation for proposals to operate the District's substance abuse, assessment and referral center and a detoxification and stabilization center.   Currently, APRA, the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, in the Department of Health operates these soon-to-be contracted services.   The closing date is August 31.

Will this lead to better services for District residents?   The answer, of course, depends on the quality of the proposals submitted.   Of course the other question is, what will the effect of the privatization have on FTEs at APRA?

Is the Council making the right decision on using Medicaid in FY 2010?

In response to the City Council’s recent assessment of and changes to the mayor’s revised FY 2010 budget proposal, the Office of the City Administrator sent a letter to CM Tommy Wells (Ward 6, chair of the City Council Committee on Human Services).

The letter explains why some of the decisions will negatively affect current District negotiations with the federal government.   Neil Albert, city administrator, describes how the council's change to a greater reliance on Medicaid in FY 2010 will jeopardize sensitive and on-going collaboration between CMS and the District to fix the city’s problems with Medicaid billing not just in CFSA but in DCPS as well.

Further, the letter reports how the council's recent decision will effect children and youth -- in a bad way.

Graphics of DC, Wards

Need to highlight a Ward of the city and require a graphic to do that?   Then check out the cool graphics at Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adding a personal face to DC's ed reform efforts

The DCPS Stories Project, whose goal is to document personal experiences with DC’s education reform efforts, is encouraging parents, teachers, students, and community members to tell their story.   This project will put a face on the ed reform issue.   The personal accounts will at first be shared with local and federal officials and later others.   Confidentiality is guaranteed by the project organizers.   Information about what information is needed is available by emailing dcstories [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Follow Mike Neibauer's budget discussion tweets

The Examiner's Mike Neibauer is now on Twitter reporting on the City Council's budget discussions.

Data analysis + performance management = A terrific job opportunity

The DC Public Charter School Board is seeking a data analyst to join their team.   As if data analysis is not exciting enough, the person who gets this job will play a key role in the implementation of the DC Public Charter School Board's Performance Management Framework this fall.

Sanctioned families = hurt kids

The resilience exhibited by children and youth in the District should be recognized as a significant achievement.   Too many young people in DC grow up with few positive adult male and female role models; neighborhoods bereft of caring, nurturing adults; and well outfitted outlets for youth curiosity and learning.

But with the changes being proposed in the TANF program, this adaptation to life circumstances may be turned on its head.   Some young people have reported to community-based service providers that they have stolen food to put on the family dinner table.

What currently restrains many young people to adhere to the laws may be severely tested if, in fact, households receiving welfare are sanctioned as the mayor proposes and apparently the City Council supports.

There is an argument currently being made against the TANF changes proposed by Mayor Fenty as part of his FY 2010 revised budget.   I will leave the technicalities to those who understand the intricacies of the program far better than I.   What I will comment on, though, is that children and youth cannot bear the brunt of any changes that will negatively affect their well being.

Research shows that child abuse and neglect increases as the economy worsens.   And we are seeing first hand the risks children will take to put food on the table because the adults in the household cannot find work.   It is not as though other parts of the budget can rescue TANF families – cuts are being made across the board.

Yes, people should be responsible and accountable.   If parents are on TANF, they should do what they are supposed to.   But what about the responsibility and accountability of the government to fully implement federally allowed TANF program exemptions and programs to support the hardest to train and employ?   Doing this would provide the basics for children and youth.

On the campaign trail and at non-budget times, elected officials talk about how important children and youth are . . . that that young people of the District are our future, that we must protect children at all costs.   Hollow statements all when basic services are being cut left and right.

Times are tough and the pain must be shared.   But children and youth, the poorest in the nation, have endured quite enough pain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Join DC VOICE to assess whether schools are ready to open to support students

You can answer the question "Will the D.C. Public Schools be ready for the students when school opens this fall?" by participating in DC VOICE's annual Ready Schools Community Action Research Project.   You can make a difference!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Re-tweeting the City Council closed budget session

Yes, the City Council's first closed session to revise Mayor Fenty's July 27 budget proposal was July 27.   But all was not lost.   Washington City Paper's Mike Debonis (he is also Loose Lips) and WTOP's Mark Segraves live tweeted the meeting.   If you missed the tweets, or you just can't bring yourself to figure out how to use Twitter, no worries!   Mike and Mark gave me permission to reprint their tweets from the session.

Mark will start tweeting on July 28 after his show; expect him online at about 11:30.   Mike reports he will be there at least part of the day.

Get involved with Medicaid policy making

The DC Medical Care Advisory Committee (MCAC), which advises the Medicaid program on how it can best meet the needs of people on Medicaid, seeks new members.   Information about the MCAC is here and the nomination form is here.   I've known a good number of people who have been involved with this group and they learn a great deal and do, in fact, inform the work of the Medicaid program staff.   Plus, it's a good way to meet government and nonprofit folks working on Medicaid and health more generally.

DC drop out prevention intiatives

If you are interested in preventing students from dropping out of school, then you will want to learn more about the joint DC Education Compact (DCEC)/Community in Schools of the Nation's Capital America's Promise Alliance (APA) work.   Lots of interesting and exciting happenings as part of this initiative.   Check out the DCEC July newsletter for more info.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two things I learned today

The first thing I learned is that the District of Columbia Archives holds the original wills of George Washington and Frederick Douglass.   (See the Secretary's FY 2008 annual report for more information.)   The other thing I learned is that
Mayor’s Memoranda are issued by the Mayor or agencies under the authority of the Mayor to direct the application or implementation of a policy, announce an action or event, provide guidance or clarify a previously stated policy or position.

The memoranda are found at the bottom of the page with the Mayor's Orders.   Didn't find much of interest, but nonetheless an interesting find.

Council to vote on FYs 2009 and 2010 budgets

In the July 24 DC Register, the City Council gave notice to take action on two measures at the July 31 legislative meeting:
  • B18-412, "Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request Act of 2009"
  • B18-413, "Second Fiscal Year 2009 Balanced Request Amendment Act of 2009"

Hearing on youth promise bill, July 29

Public hearing on B18-367, "Youth and Young Adult Promise Act of 2009":   The Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation (CM Thomas, Ward 5, chair) and the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, At-large, chair) are holding this joint hearing on July 29 at 10:00 am in the JAWB Council Chamber.   Details here.

Final Medicaid rules in 7/24 DCR

The Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) issued final rules in the July 24, 2009 DC Register regarding Medicaid reimbursement rates.   The rules create a new section of the DC Municipal Regulations (DCMR) entitled "Medicaid Physician and Specialty Services Rate Methodology."   This rule will establish a new rate methodology that will increase Medicaid reimbursement for physician and specialty services.

Low reimbursement rates have kept specialty docs, who might accept Medicaid, out of DC.   The Medicaid program projects total annual expenditures of $11.34 million as a result of the proposed change in the fee schedule for physician and specialty services.

Medicaid is also amending the State Plan for Medicaid Assistance (State Plan) to reflect these changes.   The District’s State Plan Amendment (SPA) has already been approved by the Council of the District of Columbia (August 15, 2008) and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (effective April 25, 2009).

New reports document schools, youth, plus much more

In the past month, nonprofits and various government agencies (local and federal) have issued reports advocates should read and use.   They include:
  • District of Columbia Public Schools: Important Steps Taken to Continue Reform Efforts, But Enhanced Planning Could Improve Implementation and Sustainability:   This report from the GAO on June 26, online here.
  • District of Columbia Public Schools: Implementation and Sustainability of Reform Efforts Could Benefit From Enhanced Planning:   This testimony from the GAO on July 23, online here.
  • Out of State, Out of Mind: The Hidden Lives of D.C. Youth in Residential Treatment Centers:   By University Legal Services (ULS).   The report is online here.
  • America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009:   This recent release from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics continues the annual reports on key indicators of child well-being.   View, download, and print the report by going here.
  • Ending Childhood Hunger by 2015:   The Essential Strategies for Achieving the President's Goal:   This report was released in early July by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).   It sets out seven strategies essential for the nation to meet President Obama's goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.   Go the the FRAC site to download the report.
  • Multiple Response System and System of Care: Two Policy Reforms Designed to Improve the Child Welfare System:   The Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy’s policy brief highlights the innovative work by the North Carolina Division of Social Services integrating their Multiple Response System Initiative with their Systems of Care Initiative.   It is useful to policymakers and practitioners.   Online here.
  • F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009:   This annual report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) ranks states and makes recommendations to turn the tide of obesity in America’s children and adults.   The executive summary and full report are online here.
  • On the Road to Adulthood: A Databook about Teenagers and Young Adults in the District:   This report from the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates and NeighborhoodInfo DC details the status of District youth.   Get the report here.

Community engagement activities

There are a number of activities coming up designed to meet the needs of children and youth and engage the community at the same time:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Urgent action needed to ensure open City Council budget process

DCFPI and others are encouraging providers, advocates, and residents to sign on to a letter to City Council Chair Vincent C. Gray to open two meetings next week.   The meetings are being held to review the mayor's most recent budget proposal and make $100,000 million in cuts.   Letter sign ons are needed immediately - the deadline is COB July 24.   To see the letter and sign-on info, go here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How will the City Council cut $100m?

You may have heard that the City Council wants to cut 6-10% of the mayor's revised FY 2010 budget.   That means $100,000 million will be cut.   All council committees have been instructed to find money in the agencies under their purview.   How the cuts will be balanced with funding essential programs for residents is unclear.   Stay tuned here for information as it becomes available.

The draft witness list for gap-closing hearing

So here it is - the draft witness list.   Where are YOU on the witness list?   If you are testifying about a child-related issue and you don't have a Web site, email me your testimony and I'll post so others may read it.

Memorials for Jan Eichhorn

The Ward 6 Dems memorial for Jan is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Cava (formerly Marty’s) on the roof-top deck.   The address is 527 8th St SE.   There will be a cash bar.

The memorial planned by family and friends is being held on Saturday, September 12 at 3:00 pm.   It is being held at the 6th and I Historic Synagogue (600 I St NW).

Bring a snack tomorrow for hearing on revised budget

Yeah, yeah, I know you can't eat in the Chamber, but packing a lunch and bringing some reading material or a laptop is advised if you are planning on attending the hearing on the mayor's proposed revised budget tomorrow, July 24.   There are more than 120 people signed up to testify.   Now we all know that not all will show up.   But if you decide to go down to the JAWB, know that there are beverage machines in the building and of course the Reagan Building has the food court.   Hydration and nutrition are key.

Oh, and a fashion tip, late I know:   Don't wear light or granny smith apple green - you will blend in with the walls.

New events added Advocacy in DC Calendar

Be sure to check out the calendar at the bottom of the page for just-added events -- such as trainings, forums, hearings, and much more!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Library of Congress vids on Web

As was reported by The Washington Post, Community Matters DC, and others, the Library of Congress is sharing some video content on YouTube and Apple iTunes.   Another terrific resource available to advocates!

Job opening: PINS director at DHS - updated 7/25

The wait is finally over:   the Department of Human Services is officially looking to hire a director of PINS diversion program.   The position description is here.

DHS is hiring the project director as part of the launch a service intervention program to prevent the formalization of status offenders.   The Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) diversion program will bring much needed reform to the District’s status offender system by creating a social-service oriented, single point of entry system to prevent status offenders and their families from entering the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

Revised CYITC budget for FY 2010

Learn more about the cuts to the Children and Youth Investment Collaborative (the funding mechanism for Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp.) in this two-pager I've prepared.   In it you will learn how the Fenty Administration came to the $3,255,000 in reductions resulting in a revised budget for FY 2010 of $10,360,000.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CM Thomas takes issue with Mayor Fenty's personnel decisions

Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas, Jr. takes issue with some of the personnel decisions made by Mayor Fenty in the revised FY 2010 budget forwarded to the Council of the District of Columbia and the public on July 17, 2009.   At issue is the protection of senior-level positions while lower level positions are RIF'd.   Read the letter to Council Chair Gray here.

Testimony of CFSA director Gerald on Medicaid-related spending pressures

The Committee on Human Services (CM Wells, Ward 6, chair) held a public roundtable on July 17 to learn more about the Medicaid-related spending pressures facing Child and Family Services Agency in FYs 2009 and 2010.   In his testimony, CFSA director Dr. Roque Gerald discussed (1) progress on improving outcomes for the DC residents CFSA serves; (2) general background on Medicaid as a resource for child welfare; and (3) the joint work of CFSA and the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) to build the appropriate infrastructure for claiming.   The complete testimony is here.

Council Chair Gray puts everything on the table to balance FY 2010

Out of the gate, Council Chair Vincent C. Gray took issue with the revised budget proposal put forth by Mayor Fenty on July 17.   Part of what the chair said at the July 20, 2009 briefing on the revised budget is that he is proposing a different approach that "responsibly addresses the problem now."   The bottom line?   "For me," Gray said, "everything is on the table."   Read the full opening statement here.

Susie's commentary:   Does this mean that the 60% across the board cuts of earmarks are tossed in favor or a more responsible approach that funds essential services, legal and legislated obligations, and work done for the government before anything else gets funded?   If, as Council Chair Gray suggests this is a time to place everything on the table, it also means that nothing is sacred.   This new and different approach hopefully signals that competitive grants replace earmarks resulting in greater accountability and maybe even better performance.   Time will tell.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Corrected DC Open Government URL

To those who tried the link and it didn't work, alas, rushing is bad.   Try this one, www.dcogc.org/.   My apologies!

Changes to CFSA budget resulting from recent revisions

Interested in child welfare?   Then this summary is for you.   It pulls out the changes made to Child and Family Services Agency and points out some errors in the book.

Highlights of BSA re: kids

This document summarizes the key child- and youth-related changes in the budget support act made by Mayor Fenty and his team for FY 2010 to balance the budget with reduced revenues.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All the budget docs are now in one location!

Finally, all the budget docs in one place!   The revised budget is now available at budget.dc.gov along with the BSA, BRA, transmittal letter and previous editions of the District's budget.

We've got a budget!

So heaven forbid I look at the OCFO site for the budget rather than the budget site; but alas, old-school is the way to go today.   Check out the revised FY 2010 budget proposed by Mayor Fenty on the OCFO Web site.   Some analysis later.

***Important update on budget revision

The BSA to read is the one on budget.dc.gov, not the one posted last night here.   Still waiting for the budget book. . . .

Friday, July 17, 2009

FY 2010 revised budget transmittal now posted

The transmittal letter from Mayor Fenty regarding the revised FY 2010 budget is here.   Not terribly informative, but we are making progress.

Just in - news on the budget

OCA reports the revised budget was just submitted to the City Council.   It should be on the Web around 9:00 pm.

Revised BSA and BRA

The revised budget is not public yet but we do have the revised budget support act (redline version; 265 pages) and the revised budget request act.   More as it becomes available.

D.C. Open Government Coalition seeks members

The D.C. Open Government Coalition, a new organization in the city, is inviting individuals and organizations to join founding members of the Coalition.   Charter membership identifies members as a dedicated supporter of open government.   Further, these members will receive periodic updates about the status of open government in the District, invitations to Coalition events, and the opportunity to provide input that will help shape the Coalition's agenda.   There are other benefits.   For this info and/or to sign on as a founding member, contact executive director Melissa Davenport by July 31:   (202) 489-8576 or mdavenport [AT] dcogc [DOT] org.

The D.C. Open Government Coalition seeks to enhance the public’s access to government information and ensure the transparency of government operations of the District of Columbia and believes that transparency promotes civic engagement and is critical to responsive and accountable government.   More about their mission and some fab materials are on their Web site.

The city's new budget director

As reported in LL Daily today and known to some of us for a while, Merav Bushlin is the new Will Singer.   She is now the budget director for the city and works in the Office of the City Administrator.

Mourning the passing of Jan Eichhorn

With the recent death of Jan Eichhorn, former chair of the Ward 6 Dems and longtime community activist, DC has lost a committed friend, ally, leader, and advocate.   I will try to post memorial plans here but keep on the lookout in the Post.

Revised budget delivered to CC and public today at 5:00 pm

The Office of Budget and Planning (OBP) has stated that the mayor's revised FY 2010 budget will be released to the City Council and public today at 5:00 pm.   It will be posted on the District's budget Web site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lead Medicaid agency will not testify at 7/17 CFSA roundtable

To me, no witness list for the Committee on Human Services roundtable on CFSA's FY 2009 and FY 2010 spending pressures meant that there was no purpose because the list contained only government agencies.   Those involved with the issue are CFSA, naturally, and the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF).   Turns out only CFSA will be testifying.   Odd because one of the reasons DHCF was created was to provide guidance and technical assistance to agencies billing Medicaid.   Wonder what the story is here?

Arrangements for Desi Deschaine

CM Evans today shared the arrangements for Desi:
  • Sunday, July 19 – Wake, 4:00 - 7:00 pm (O’Brien Funeral Home, 24 Lincoln Ave, Forestville, CT)
  • Monday, July 20 – Funeral, 9:00 am (O’Brien Funeral Home, 24 Lincoln Ave, Forestville, CT)
  • Monday, July 20 – Funeral Mass, 10:00 am (St. Matthew’s Church, 120 Church St, Forestville, CT)

Arrangements/Flowers may be sent to:   O’Brien Funeral Home, 24 Lincoln Ave, Bristol, CT 06010 (n.b.: different city/zip for mailing/shipping).

Fenty presents 2009-2010 gap closing plan

Today Mayor Fenty released a summary of his proposal to close the FY 2009 budget gap.   It deals with a projected $453 million budget shortfall this year and $150 million gap next year.   The summary is here.

Yes, there is a roundtable on CFSA and Medicaid!

As soon as I hit "publish post", I received the notice.   The Committee on Human Services public roundtable will be at 2:00 pm on July 17 in the JAWB, Council Chamber.   The focus is on spending pressures in FY 2009 and FY 2010.   While the hearing is open to the public, only invited witnesses will be allowed to testify.   Others may submit a written statement.   Details are here.

Will there be a public hearing on CFSA's Medicaid spending on July 17?

Word is that Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells, chair of the council's Committee on Human Services, is going to hold some sort of hearing/roundtable on CFSA's Medicaid spending pressures on Friday, July 27.   Since the event has not been "noticed" yet to the Secretary of the Council of the District of Columbia, we don't know just yet whether this important issue will have a public airing.   There are rules governing notice and none, seemingly, have been met.   If the event happens, it is said to be at 2:00 or 3:00 pm.   This would be after the shelter hearing at 10:00 am.   More info as it becomes available.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WPC shares training opportunities

Washington Peace Center (WPC) does it again, this time by sharing training resources on their Web site.   You will find a range of training available locally and across the country as well as some basic documents on things like media workshops and planning actions.   You can even share your training with WPC for listing on their site.

FY 2010 revised budget briefing and hearing scheduled

Plan to attend, or at least watch online or on tv, the July 20, 1:00 pm briefing of the City Council by Fenty Administration leaders on the mayor's proposed revised FYs 2009 and 2010 budgets.   Also on the agenda for the briefing are gap closing plans for FY 2009.   Details about the briefing are here in the notice.

The public's opportunity to testify on the revised budget is scheduled for July 24 at 10:00 am.   The council is soliciting testimony on alternative proposals and ideas for closing the gap in FYs 2009 and 2010 and the "strike-and-insert" version of the enrolled BSA.   Details about the hearing are here in the notice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Community College of UDC

Who knew the new community college has a name -- it does -- or that there is a Web site -- there is?   Check them out here.   What you'll find, for example, is that it has "taken over the existing associate degree, certificate and workforce development programs at UDC" and will begin offering classes in the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year.

"You can't make this stuff up."

So wrote DCist's Sommer Mathis about the latest in the Barry debacle.   That statement referred, of course, to this from the D.C. Wire about Barry's anger at the contract story going public.

If you are interested in the City Council's response to the alleged Barry misconduct, check out this press release from the council chair today on the passage of a resolution independent investigation of contracts and earmarks.

CM Evans' office statement about Desi Deschaine

As reported on WUSA9, CM Evans' office has issued this statement about the death of Desi Deschaine:
Councilmember Jack Evans and staff, with great personal regret, join in mourning the tragic passing of Evans' staff member and friend Desi Deschaine.

Desi served as Councilmember Evans' Director of Communications and as a liaison to the Ward Two community.   Desi also served as a Vice President of the Logan Circle Community Association; a national committee representative for the D.C. Young Democrats; and a voting member of the DC Democratic State Committee, as well as a member of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.   Desi also served with the administration of Mayor Anthony Williams, as well as worked with the Washington National Opera.   Desi was a graduate of The Catholic University of America.

"Desi Deschaine was a bright, bubbly, enthusiastic, and wonderful person who you just could not help but love.   I had the great pleasure of knowing and working with him not just on my staff, but on my campaigns, and over the years with Mayor Williams' staff, the Opera and numerous other capacities and roles.   He brought his passion, energy and good spirits to everything and everyone he touched over the years.   My staff and I share the grief of and extend our condolences to Desi's family and friends, and deeply mourn his untimely loss."

No revised budget today - try the 17th

Well, it was wishful thinking for some City Council staffers who hoped to see the mayor's revised budget today.   The Office of the City Administrator and Office of Budget and Planning are on track to have it finished by July 17.   That will give the council two days to review it before the hearing tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 20.

RIP Desi Deschaine

I have nothing to add to what is being reported by Tom Sherwood and others other than I will miss Desi.   He was a joy to be around and work with.   My thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues.

Check out the calendar -- events added

Be sure to check out the calendar for events that have just been added.   New listings re: community meetings, public hearings, etc.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Youth violence prevention resources

Who knew the Department of Health Care Finance, working with the Maternal and Child Health Library at Georgetown University, would provide a youth violence prevention resource list?   Well, they have and it is here at the Bright Futures Web site.   It is extensive so if you are looking for data or prevention info, check out this site.

'Tis the season for. . . school supplies!

Mentoring Works2 is gathering school supplies and backpacks for 250 low-income children and youth.   They will distribute the backpacks on August 22 at their block party and backpack giveaway event.

Upcoming City Council hearings

The Committee on Human Services (CM Wells, Ward 6, chair) has scheduled a public oversight roundtable on “Shelter Capacity for Those who are Homeless” on July 17 at 10:00 am in the JAWB Council Chamber.   The purpose of the roundtable is for the council and public to be briefed by DHS on existing shelter capacity provided by the District government for those who are homeless.   The public is encouraged to testify. Roundtable details here.

The Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation (CM Thomas, Ward 5, chair) and the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, At-large, chair) will hold a joint public hearing on B18-367, "Youth and Young Adult Promise Act of 2009", on July 29 at 10:00 am in the JAWB, Council Chamber.   The purpose is to learn about the best ways of collecting and analyzing data on the criminal behavior of youth and young adults.   Hearing details here.

Council expects mayor's amended budget on Tuesday

Sunday was apparently pencil's down for FY 2010 budget revisions from OCA.

As previously reported, the Office of the City Administrator will be printing a short book of changes and rationale; the Council expects to receive this document on Tuesday, July 14.   What we anticipate seeing is a Table 5 and narrative for each agency; the narrative will explain the cuts/efficiencies.

Still unconfirmed is the date of the City Council hearing on the mayor's amended budget proposal; talk has been that it will be held July 20.   Details will be posted here when a decision has been made.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Congressional appropriation to DC

Did you know that the District government has money it can spend that is not approved by the mayor and council?   Yes, it's true.   The council and mayor only approve the budget request that is sent to the Hill for approval.   They approve the budget support act and budget request act.

This other federal money, sometimes referred to as the "federal payment", comes from Congress as part of their DC budget appropriation process, part of the federal appropriation/budget process.   The DC appropriation is approved along with the rest of the annual budget and is signed by the President.   Once approved, the funds are included in the city's accounting system and show up in the budget as Federal funds.   The DC government must file special reports for these monies.

Congress also appropriates funds to nonprofits; this money flows through the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.   Yes, these are earmarks.   Special reports are required for these funds as well.

So why do we care?   Well, this is just another bit of knowledge that explains how the city is funded and why we get some of the money we do.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Strategic resources for activists

The Washington Peace Center provides a number of strategic resources for activist organizations and individuals including:
  • Color copier:   $.25/color copy, $.05/black and white copy. (a fraction of corporate costs!)
  • Sound system for activist events (donation requested)
  • Stages:   two 2x4x8 platforms available for activist events
  • Bullhorns
  • Fax machine with mass fax capabilities (media blasts!)
  • Information about the DC permit process

To avail yourself of these resources, contact the WPC at (202) 234-2000 or wpc [AT] igc [DOT] org.

FY 2009 cutting info on Council site

If you have missed the wealth of information on FY 2009 budget cutting on the City Council's Web site, all is not lost.   Check it out now.

Must-have resource for youth workers

If you work with young people and do not yet have a copy of Guide to the DC Juvenile Justice System just published by Council for Court Excellence you are missing out on a terrific resource!

The Guide rocks!   First, it is easy to read – the layout is perfect and navigating it is a dream.   Second, the content is useful and again, easy to read.   The three sections that describe how the juvenile justice system works, beginning to end.   Each section starts with a summary of the stage and then goes right into frequently asked questions.   Best of all, this is what is known as a "plain language" document, meaning it takes complex and complicated information and makes it understandable to the rest of us non-lawyers.

What you’ll find in the Guide:

  • The investigation stage
  • The trial/fact-finding stage
  • The sentencing/rehabilitation stage
  • Special situations – drug court, transfer into the adult system, traffic offenses, juveniles not competent to stand trial
  • The lawyers’ responsibility to the young person
  • Additional information for victims and eyewitnesses
  • Glossary
  • Important contact information

This publication is being sold as an important resource for parents, victims and youth – but providers of services who play a role in the lives of young people also should get a copy and read it.   The Guide is free and available online and in print in English and Spanish.   For online copies, go to the Council for Court Excellence Web site:

For printed copies, call CCE, (202) 785-5917.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

CFSA promotes Ganoe

Congratulations go out to Loren Ganoe; she has been promoted to Chief of Staff to Roque Gerald, director of CFSA.

Update on the revised FY 2010 budget

So it seems that OCA will be producing a slim book to explain the budget changes being proposed by Mayor Fenty in the latest effort to close the budget gap.   The new document will include the rationale for the cuts, making decisions easier to understand (we hope).   While July 20 is being held for a hearing on the changes, the council's budget office is waiting to issue the notice until it is clear that OCA will meet the July 10 deadline.

Stay tuned here for up-to-the-minute news on the budget changes and process.   If you've not already signed up for daily emails, do it right now so you don't miss anything of import!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Civil gang injunction language

As previously reported here, the Council of the District of Columbia had the first reading on the permanent crime legislation on June 30.   CMs Graham, Evans, Bowser, and Catania co-offered a civil injunction amendment which I just managed to get my hands on.   Here it is.

Could the AG be an elected position?

The Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, At-large, chair) is holding a public hearing on B18-0065, "The Attorney General of the District of Columbia Clarification Act of 2009", on July 10.   The hearing will be held at Noon in the JAWB, Council Chamber (Room 500).

The legislation was introduced in January by CM Mendelson and co-sponsored by CMs M Brown and Catania.   The bill was naturally referred to the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, chair).    The purpose is

to establish appointment requirements and minimum qualifications for the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, and to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to establish the Attorney General for the District of Columbia as an elected position.

The idea of an elected AG has long been on the agenda of At-large CM Catania.    Consider, for example, PR 12-671, “Sense of the Council Regarding the Establishment of an Office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia Resolution of 1998." (See dcwatch.com).

Monday, July 6, 2009

The crime legislation debate continues

It seems like crime is all we talk about these days.   And we are not done yet.   The City Council will have a second reading on B18-151, "Public Safety and Justice Amendments Act of 2009", on July 14.   The first reading was June 30.

At-large CM Phil Mendelson had before him two bills.   B18-151 was introduced by CM Mendelson and co-sponsored by Ward 6 CM Wells.   B18-138, "Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Amendment Act of 2009", was introduced by Council Chair Vincent Gray at the request of the mayor.   According to the staff of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, there were similarities between the two bills but B18-151 had the provisions CM Mendelson thought essential in permanent legislation.   Notably absent was the civil gang injunction, perhaps the most contentious of the provisions of the various emergencies.

Ward CM Harry "Tommy" Thomas offered three amendments to the crime bill during the first reading, all of which were accepted by his colleagues:

Even though the civil gang injunction provision was not included in the bill up for a vote, the issue was not dead; CMs Evans, Graham, Bowser, Wells, and Catania supported an amendment that would implement this tool for a six-month trial period in Wards 1, 2 and 4.   The amendment was defeated 8-5.

The final vote on the first reading, by roll call, was 10-3:

  • Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) - Yes
  • Marion Barry (Ward 8) - Yes
  • Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) - No
  • Kwame R. Brown (At-large) - Yes
  • Michael A. Brown (At-large) - Yes
  • David Catania (At-large) - No
  • Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3) - Yes
  • Jack Evans (Ward 2) - No
  • Jim Graham (Ward 1) - Yes
  • Vincent C. Gray (At-large) - Yes
  • Phil Mendelson (At-large) - Yes
  • Harry Thomas (Ward 5) - Yes
  • Tommy Wells (Ward 6) - Yes

Update on the Jacks-Fogle legislation

Today Mayor Fenty -- along with Peter Nickles, Clarence Carter and Roque Gerald – announced the introduction of the Jacks-Fogle Family Preservation Case Coordination Authorization Act of 2009, aimed at enhancing inter-agency information sharing in an effort to prevent tragedies, like the Banita Jacks case.   The post-press conference release is here on the dc.gov Web site.

As was previously reported here, this case management system will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the city’s service delivery system, all to the benefit of children, youth and families.

The Committee on Human Services (Wells, Ward 6, chair) reports that the committee will consider the legislation after the recess.   The Committee on Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) and then CHS will consider the legislation, sequentially.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What a great idea!

This in from the July 5 edition of Undernews:
MAINE LIBRARIES TURNING REFERENCE ROOMS INTO CAFES

Kennebec Journal, ME - On a bleak rainy day, the homey smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts out of the reference room at the Kennebunk Free Library.   Inside the room, people sit at tables talking while nibbling on muffins and scones.   Not a single hushing librarian is in sight.   That's because the librarians have turned the reference room into the Reference Room Cafe, where beverages, snacks, sandwiches and salads are on sale every day during library hours.   Library Director Stephanie Marshall Limmer and her staff want people to chat.   They don't care about the crumbs.

They are even looking for ways to open up the cafe to teenagers as a coffeehouse.   "The hope is the reference collection becomes more of a browsing collection," said Janet Cate, assistant director.   Kennebunk Free Library, which opened its cafe June 17, is among a number of public libraries in the state that are going into the coffee shop business.   Libraries across Maine are adding cafes for a new source of revenue and as a way to entice customers away from the national bookstore chains that have long offered such services.

Susie's commentary:   This is the kind of creative thinking that DC needs now because of the budget shortfall and all the time because it speaks to keeping up with the times.

Advocacy and learning opps added to the calendar

Events have been added to the calendar including the Take Action to Save Public Property (July 7), Advocacy and Communication Webinar (July 8), Ward One Dems meeting (July 9), and Popular Education: tricks and techniques of educating for social change (July 28).   So scroll to the bottom of the page for these and other happenings.

Important news from the Committee on Health

The latest newsletter from the Committee on Health (Catania, At-large, chair) highlights the hearings and committee meetings which will be held prior to summer recess to get up-to-date on important issues affecting residents.
  • Update by the Department of Health HIV/AIDS Administration on its progress and projects regarding HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and testing since the release of District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Update 2008.   It and other reports are HIV/AIDS Administration Web site.   The meeting is scheduled for July 8 at 11 am in the JAWB, Room 123.
  • Update on the quality of care at United Medical Center on July 9 at 2:00 pm in the JAWB, Room 123.
  • Update on tobacco cessation programs in the District, July 13 at 10:00 am in the JAWB, Room 120.
  • An examination of the purpose, roles, and responsibilities of a fiscal agent with respect to the administration of District health care grants.   This is scheduled for July 13 at 2:00 pm in the JAWB, Room 123.

While the Council is delaying its recess to resolve the required FY 2010 budget changes, the Committee on Health does not expect to hold any hearings or mark-ups between July 15 and recess.

Results of Ward 6 Dems Elections

The Ward 6 Dems recently held their elections; the elections were uncontested and results are:
  • President - Charles Allen
  • 1st Vice President - Betty Pierce
  • 2nd Vice President - Chuck Burger
  • 3rd Vice President - DeLeon Ware III
  • Corresponding Secretary - Jesse B Rauch
  • Treasurer - Ray Williams
To contact the executive committee, send an email to ward6dems [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Public input sought on NCLB report card

Members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback to the DC State Board of Education (DCSBOE) on Wednesday, July 8 to make the No Child Left Behind report card (see page 4647) better.   At this public hearing, Board members want to hear ideas on how to make the report card more easily understood by students and families, what specific information should be incorporated, and how would it be made most accessible.   The hearing is at 6:00 pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th St NW, in the District of Columbia State Board of Education Chambers, located on the lobby level of the building.   Details on tetifying are online (see link above).   The meeting will air live on DSTV Comcast Channel 99 and RCN Channel 18.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Case coordination legislation to be announced July 6

Mayor Fenty, joined by key administration officials, will announce the introduction of the "Jacks-Fogle Family Preservation Case Coordination Authorization Act of 2009."   The purpose of the legislation is to improve agency information sharing to better protect the District’s vulnerable population.   The legislation argues
The inability to share information has inhibited the District’s health and human services agencies from coordinating public benefits, services, or supports that would improve the administration and management of these services to best serve the individual or family.   Access to protected health information in accordance with HIPAA by the District’s health and human services agencies will help to create a more person-centered approach to providing public benefits, services, or supports to an individual or family by ensuring through coordination that all of the individual or families health and human services needs are addressed by the District’s health and human services agencies.

The announcement is scheduled for July 6 at 10:30 am at the IMA-Anacostia Services Center (2100 Martin Luther King Ave SE).   Peter Nickles (Attorney General), Clarence Carter (Director, Department of Human Services), and Roque Gerald (Director, Child and Family Services Agency) will join the mayor.

The legislation (B18-356) was actually introduced on June 26 and circulated to members of the Council on June 29.   It is available in LIMS.   The health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) and human services (CM Wells, Ward 6, chair) committees will review the legislation.

This case coordination system effectively replaces the costly (think millions) Safe Passages/HSMP database that was started under Mayor Anthony Williams and his close advisor Carolyn Graham.

Free trainings on ballot measures, petitions, etc.

So you've heard about how slots supporters and those supporting the re-election bid of Anthony Williams have erred in collecting petition signatures. . .   These free brown bag lunch training sessions from the DC Boards of Elections and Ethics will show you the correct way to do things. Attendees will learn about ballot measure (initiatives, referenda, and recall measures) petitions and more.   Check out the flier ASAP -- the first session is scheduled for July 7!   All are welcome -- you don't have to be a candidate to attend.

Next Council leg meeting July 14

At the June 30 Council meeting, the body rescheduled the legislative meeting to Tuesday, July 14 at 10:00 am.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

School budget "go to" gone

An era came to and end when the Washington Lawyers Committee ended its public education reform work conducted by Mary Levy and Iris Toyer on June 30, 2009.

Both will certainly be missed but the loss of Mary is especially devastating to the budget discussion and debate.   Mary has single-handedly made the DCPS budget accessible.   Parents, students, policymakers, and advocates are indebted to her for her timely and thorough work through the years.   SHAPPE and others are working to keep the work alive; more information is available in the SHAPPE newsletter story "Lawyers Committee to Discontinue Public Education Reform Project" which is online at the 21st Century School Fund Web site in the lower right hand column.

Can’t find a document you saw here?

Looking for a document and just can’t find it?   Then check out all the documents I have posted by going here.

Help for TANF recipients now only one call away

The Legal Aid Society of DC and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP have launched an exciting new project:   the TANF Hotline, 202-887-4170.

There are many reasons why TANF recipients do not comply with the various requirements (child support, work, etc.).   The hotline sponsors, suspecting that many TANF recipients are unaware of their rights to claim good cause, have been unable to do so because of the challenges they are facing in their lives or have been wrongfully denied good cause when they have requested it.   These daily challenges make it difficult to seek legal help.

According to Legal Aid’s blog Making Justice Real, the hotline

is part of a broader project that also includes outreach to caseworkers at other social service agencies in the District.   These outreach efforts provide the opportunity to educate those who work with this client population about TANF rules and the challenges we have seen with sanctions.   The hotline is an integral support for the trainings so that caseworkers can refer TANF recipients to us when appropriate.

Legal Aid is particularly well suited for this training and TA of caseworkers.   When welfare reform was legislated in the District in 1997, Legal Aid was a leader in advocacy for responsible, family-friendly policies and practices.   Their expertise in what the law allowed was a major force in policymaking.   Further, this legal services nonprofit has continued to monitor TANF implementation and has worked with others to ensure the best possible policies and on-the-ground work for those who rely on welfare.