Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oversight/budget schedules coming soon!

Today, the Council approved the overall calendar for the budget.   The highlights are:   1) The CAFR briefing is being held February 6 at 10:00 am in the Council Chambers, 5th floor of the Wilson Building and 2) the oversight hearings begin on February 18.

The oversight hearings end on March 16, just in time for Mayor Fenty to present his budget on March 20.   The briefing on the mayor's proposed budget is being held on March 23 at 10:00 am in the Council Chambers (5th floor).   The bad news is that the budget hearings start March 24, four days after the budget is released.   While the Fenty Administration is working on a fabulous new Web site for all things budget, there are sure to be complaints about the timing of it all.

Keep checking back here for more on the hearing schedule (the detailed one) and any budget intelligence.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Get ready for the DC budget considerations!

The City Council will vote on the FY 2008 audit/FY 2009 oversight hearing schedule and the FY 2010 budget hearing schedule at the Tuesday, January 27 Committee of the Whole meeting. The COW will meet at 10:00 am in the Council Chambers (5th floor) in the Wilson Building.   Check back here for the approved skeds, including a list of child- and youth-related hearings.

These hearing schedules are important:   They kick off the most important debates the District (government and community) will have this year.   It is expected that both the audit/oversight and the budget hearings will be hard, painful and full of angst for all. Why? The Fenty Administration is trimming more than $450 million from the Local funds target of $5,816,110,000. This figure is based on the CFO's December 2008 revenue estimate (See the CFO Web site.) and is in anticipation of future rev estimates.

And now the shameless plug:   Contact me about working with your organization this budget season to up the effectiveness of your advocacy. I have relationships, skills and a solid track record of success developed over the past 12 years in DC.

Friday, January 23, 2009

More news about CFSA

The LaShawn court hearing has been postponed one week -- it will now be held on February 6.

In other news, the interviews are over for the permanent CFSA director. No news on when an announcement will be made.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Update on DC's child welfare system

Take a look at the Public Catalyst Group's (PCG) report to the District government on CFSA.   The report was written as part of the fall 2008 court stipulation.   The report was underwhelming, especially in light of the fee paid to PCG -- think many thousands of dollars.

Onto a more useful exercise:   Get ready for the Council's Committee on Human Services' public round table on the one-year anniversary of the Jacks' tragedy.   The round table -- a Review of the "Repairing the safety net for at-risk children and families reform plan" one-year after the Jacks' Tragedy -- is being held on February 11 at Noon in Room 123 of the Wilson Building.   More information is available from the committee by calling 724-8191.

Also important is the CHS public hearing on Bill 18-0012, "The Adoption and Safe Families Amendment Act of 2009."   The hearing is being held on February 11 at 9:00 am in Room 123 of the Wilson Building.   The legislation is on-line at the City Council Web site."   Additional information on the legislation is in the Child- and Youth-Related Legislative Tracking Database.   More information is available from the committee by calling 724-8191.

Former CC Member Kevin Chavous on education reform

Former Ward 7 Council member Kevin Chavous spoke on education reform on MLK day in his role as Chairman of the NYC-based Democrats for Education Reform. Read his comments here.

Also on this site is a publication about Pre-K, Partners in Closing the Achievement Gap: How Charter Schools Can Support High-Quality Universal Pre-K.

Not sure where I stand on charters, but since Pre-K is a huge issue in DC, wanted to share.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tracking child- and youth-related legislation

I've just started a tool to track child- and youth-related legislation. Check back often for updates on Council and Mayoral action (yes, the Council is the legislative branch but the Chair can introduce legislation at the request of the mayor).

If you have thoughts about the tracking tool, please email me.

Council requires greater transparency in FY 2010 budget

In the final days of CP17, the City Council passed PR17-1210, Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Submission Requirements Resolution of 2008. Among other things, the resolution requires Mayor Fenty to submit his proposed budget by March 20, 2009. Earlier this month, Council Chair Gray listed changes from FY 2009 in a letter to Mayor Fenty.

This Council action was achieved in large part by the work of tireless advocates including those from DCFPI and the Arc of the District of Columbia. That said, the Council under Chairman Gray has adopted transparency as one of its goals.

As good as this resolution is, significantly more must be done to improve budget and policy transparency. Those interested in taking part in this work should stay tuned here for opportunities to take action.

Check out the calendar for important advocacy opportunities

The Advocacy Calendar lists a number of advocacy opportunities -- from meetings to discuss needed public policy changes to actions to government meetings. Check back regularly!

Am I the only one who has been missing out on LL Daily?

Washington City Paper's Loose Lips emails us every morning -- and has since last fall -- about the latest and greatest DC news as only LL can. While I have just recently subscribed, I am in love! A must read for advocates.

To sign up, go to Loose Lips Daily sign up! You won't regret it!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Are you ready for the audit/oversight hearings in February and March?

Each year, the Council of the District of Columbia holds hearings following the CFO release of the CAFR* (the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report). The Council holds hearings for each District government agency and selected boards and commissions. The hearings provide an opportunity for the public to tell the Council and the agencies themselves what is going well and not so well. This year, the hearings will focus on what happened in FY 2008 and what is happening thus far in FY 2009. The hearing schedule will be posted on the City Council Web site.

The hearings follow the release of the CAFR. The FY 2008 CAFR will be released by February 1, 2009.

There are numerous ways the public can have a say in these hearings:

  • Testify;

  • Submit a statement in lieu of making a public appearance;

  • Suggest to Council committees what information they should ask of agencies/boards/commissions in preparation for the hearings; and

  • Suggest to Council committees what questions they can ask at the hearings.

There are also things that can be done after the hearings, including:

  • Following up with committees. Sometimes, Councilmembers ask for more detailed information about a particular subject – you may want to provide that. You may also want to correct what you think were errors in the testimony of others, or provide more explanation.
  • Helping committees prepare for the budget hearings that will take place between March and May 2009.

In the event you are interested in more detailed guidance or advice, I am available.

*The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is responsible for preparing the District's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The OCFO ensures that the CAFR is released each year on time and with a clean opinion from the city's independent auditors. A clean opinion indicates that the District's financial books are in order, that the CAFR fairly presents the city's financials, and that the results of the city's fiscal year operations are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

The District's fiscal year is from October 1 to September 30. The CAFR must be issued by February 1 following the end of a fiscal year. The District of Columbia Citizens' Report (DCCR) is a summary of the past, present, and future conditions of the District of Columbia. It provides a brief history about how the District's government is operated and why; it explains the District's increased residential construction, improved infrastructure, and enhanced economic development; and it explains the District's future challenges and economic outlook. (This is taken directly from the Web site of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

CP 18 committee assignments-updated 1/6/09

There are new committees and revamped committees in Council Period 18. The list of agencies/boards/commissions under the purview of the Council committees are found in CP18 Committee Assignments, updated 1/6/09.

Policy Analysis: Barriers to TANF parent participation in education

This analysis includes a brief summary of welfare reform in the District of Columbia, persistent challenges to moving people from welfare to self-sufficiency, and a comparison of research on barriers to DC TANF data. The purpose of this analysis is to inform those interested in increasing parental involvement in their children’s education about why punitive actions such as this will not achieve the desired outcome. By addressing the challenges confronting welfare recipients, including their own bad experiences with school, parents will become more engaged with their children’s learning.

Go to Barriers to TANF parent participation in education to read the complete policy analysis.

Policy Analysis: Increasing parental participation in education in DC

This policy analysis designed to inform the discussion about improving parent engagement in their children’s education. We will present information on the following:
  • The current status of parent engagement in DC Public Schools;
  • The barriers to parent engagement in their children’s education;
  • Best practices related to increasing parent engagement in their children’s education and in schools; and
  • Recommendations for the District of Columbia.

Go to Increasing parental participation in education in DC to read the complete policy analysis.