Wednesday, December 28, 2011

40 free art events for 40 days starting January 4

There is something for everyone—dance, music, jewelry making, photography, and more—at CHAW's 40th anniversary celebration kickoff starting in January 2012.

Arts for DC Kids has graciously allowed this repost of details about the offerings.

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Hosts 40 Free Events in 40 Days
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop hosts 40 free events in 40 days running January 4 through February 12, 2012 at 545 7th Street, SE.   The 40 events explore how art continually engages, inspires, informs, and excites by featuring concerts, performances, workshops, and classes for various ages.   The program culminates in a 40th Anniversary Concert on Sunday, February 12 at 4:00 pm at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church (4th Street and Independence Ave., SE).

"This event is not only a thank you to the community and a celebration of 40 years of art-making, but a launching off point for future innovations in building community through the arts," says Amy Moore, CHAW’s Director of Education and Programs.   "It is a testament to the arts, not as a luxury or something optional, but as a lifestyle."

Here is the complete catalogue of the 40 free events.   Pre-registration is required for some events.   Register on-line here or call (202) 547-6839.

Council's first event of 2012, leg meeting January 4

The DC Council comes back from recess January 3.   The first legislative meeting of the year is scheduled for January 4 at 10:00 am.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rules and more noticed 12/9, 12/16, 12/23

(UPDATED 12/27, 7:45am)   Apologies for the delay in sharing information from the December 9, 16 and 23 issues of the DC Register.   Please remember to check emergency and proposed notices for comment requirements and deadlines.   This information is not included in the items below.
  • Final rules for administrative hearings:   The Office of Administrative Hearings' December 9 final rules (Word, .doc) allow parties in OAH cases to file papers by email.
  • Final rules about supported employment certification:   The Department of Mental Health issued final rules December 9 (Word, .doc) creating a new DCMR title to "create certification standards for Supported Employment Programs that offer supported employment services to individuals who receive services from the Department or Department-certified mental health providers."
  • Final rules from the Department of Health:   DOH published final rules (Word, .doc) in the December 9 DCR to grandfather in individuals who were enrolled in doctoral programs prior to April 15, 2011.   This allows these professionals to become licensed in the District of Columbia.

Monday, December 26, 2011

DC Council hearings (noticed 12/9, 12/16, 12/23)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The latest poll ratings from Clarus

Tune in to WPFW at 11:00 am to hear Chuck Thies talk about the latest Clarus poll about elected and appointed officials in DC. (UPDATE: Link fixed 12/22, 10a)

FYs 2012 and 2013 budget update, December 22

  • Spending caps in place for balance of FY 2012:   On December 1, Mayor Gray signed Mayor's Order 2011-188, Allocation of Spending (FY 2012) (PDF).   This order restricts certain spending in FY 2012 (the fiscal year we are in).   Limits include a freeze on vacancies except when funded by Federal funds and a freeze on out of town travel and training except that which is required for certification.   Exceptions may be granted.

    A senior administration official has said that the limits should not tie the hands of any DC agencies since this early-in-the-fiscal-year freeze is fairly commonplace in DC.   Whether commonplace, the fact that programs may be left without staffing is significant.   The same goes for any FTEs required for planning or evaluation.   I'm curious about what agencies will not do or will not do well as a result.

    It will be interesting to see if Mayor Gray rescinds the order with the December 22 release of the revenue estimate which, according to Michael Neibauer, will be $45 million higher than the early fall estimate.

  • FY 2013 capital budget development:   The FY 2013 capital budget process is moving along as planned.   OBP staff are on track to make decisions by mid-February as prescribed by the budget instructions.
  • Community feedback for the FY 2013 DCPS budget:   DCPS reports an interest in having residents, parents, and other stakeholders play a "substantial" role in budget development.   There are several ways to provide input; go to the budget feedback page and start commenting.
  • Updated revenue estimate:   The CFO will formally release the December revenue estimate December 22.   WBJ's Michael Neibauer reported December 21 that revenue in FY 2012 will be $45 million higher than projected in the early fall estimate but that out year revenue will decline.   Look for the December estimate on the CFO's website.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

CM Cheh outdoes herself with 2011 holiday gift to colleagues

In what has become an annual rite of the holiday season, Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh presented her colleagues with her holiday gift in "the most anticipated move of the legislative session."    The public announcement of the gift says, in part:
"I consider this to be the crowning achievement of not only this legislative session, but also of my entire tenure on the Council," said Councilmember Cheh, Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation. "I regret that this gift may overshadow other legislative matters of relative note that took place this week, such as the vote on the ethics bill."

Take a moment to read the release; it's a nice, light conclusion to what has turned out to be an incredibly tough year for the DC Council.

Bread for the City's southeast skillshare

Every Friday from 10:00 am - Noon at Bread for the City's southeast location (1640 Good Hope Rd SE), the organization offers a Skillshare session.   What's a Skillshare?   It's an informal gathering of people to exchange practical skills for everyday life.   Bread's Skillshare sessions will be related to technology and media.

Hands-on learning is an essential part of the sessions as is making participants comfortable.   The sessions are free and no reservations are required.   Direct questions to Zachari Curtis at (202) 587-0529.

Do you have a skill to share?   Email your skill idea; put "My Skills" in the subject line.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mayor Gray on 12/20 leg meeting

Mayor Gray sent this letter (PDF) to the DC Council regarding measures under consideration at the December 20 legislative meeting.

COW and legislative meetings December 20

Tune in today at 10:00 am for the DC Council's regular Committee of the Whole meeting.   The agenda and more info are online.

Following the COW is the Legislative Meeting at 11:00 am.   At the top of the agenda is the final reading and vote on B19-511; here is the draft amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS) for Bill 19-511, "Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011" (PDF, 221 pp).   NOTE: The final ANS will be distributed to members on the dais.   Not sure if a final version will be available for public consumption prior to.

My advice for the morning?   Take Helder Gil's advice:

Very cool and useful editorial calendar tool

The Lightbox Collaborative has shared on their blog a cool and useful tool for advocates and communicators: A 2012 editorial calendar.

I've added some DC- and issue-specific items and posted the DC 2012 editorial calendar here.   If your organization has day, week or month celebrations or recognitions you hope others will rally around, please add them to the DC calendar.   It's open to the public for editing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Make the call when it's cold

Thanks to Marina Streznewski for this fab idea!

Lemon ricotta cake recipe

If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen tweets about trying a ricotta cake.   Since it turned out okay, I thought I would share the ricotta cake recipe.   Note, I replaced the almond extract with one teaspoon of lemon rind and one teaspoon of lemon extract.   I used a large springform pan; check the cake after about 70 minutes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Making coats and hats for people who are homeless

For the crafty among you, there are a number of free patterns to make coats and hats for homeless people.   Sites with patterns include:

College scholarship application deadline December 31

The Korean-American Grocers Association of Greater Washington (KAGRO-DC) wants current college students or high school students planning on attending college next year to apply for the KAGRO-DC scholarship.   Ten winning students will each receive $1,000.

More information and the application form are online.

The deadline is December 31, 2011.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If you learn one technology trick today. . .

Becky Katz, government employee, knitter, and blogger extraordinaire shares a valuable search tip in blog post "If you learn one technology trick today...":
I am going to tell you, here and now, how to find reports from the Office of the Inspector General in a focused, efficient manner, rather than by scrolling through the titles on their webpage, month by month.

Go to Google. (I haven’t used a search engine other than Google in about a skillion years, so I don’t know if this would work in any other engine.) Say you’re looking for OIG reports about the Department of Parks and Recreation. For your search terms, instead of (for example) "DC parks recreation," use "parks recreation" Then you can preview your results by scrolling down the right side of the text in your search results.

To summarize:

To find OIG reports, search in Google using ""

To find DC regulations and Mayor’s Orders, search using ""

There may be others. Keep this in mind.

To learn additional things from Becky, check out DC.Nerd; even better, subscribe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's the impact of DC nonprofit code changes on membership orgs?

Attend the December 15, 6:45 - 8:45 pm DC Federation of Citizens Associations session and find out!   The meeting will take place at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church (2300 Cathedral Ave NW; entrance off the church parking lot on Woodley Pl NW).

The federation has invited tax expert Regina Hopkins, Director of the DC Bar Pro Bono Program to explain important changes to the District’s Nonprofit Code that may affect member associations.

Wit list for Env, PW & Transpo hearing today

If you will be watching the Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation (Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh, chair) December 13 at 10:30 am on various transportation bills, follow along using the witness list (Word, .doc).   You can watch the hearing live online by going to the hearing page.

A last-minute, hand-crafted affordable gift idea

These handmade pins, made by yours truly, are approximately 1.5" square (except B which is ~1.5" x 2").   I've made them with quilt fabric, beads, tulle, and other goodies.   They are for sale for $7 each (including postage).

A.   Red and purple fabric; white tulle; copper, bronze, brown, and red multi-size beads

B.   White and mutli (pink, dark green, and magenta) fabric, burgundy tulle, white and pink beads

C.   Orange and dark green fabric, orange trim, orange and brown beads

D.   Purple and gold fabric, purple tulle, copper and bronze beads

E.   Brown and green fabric, green fuzzy trim, gold accent bead

F.   Pale pink, dark pink and orange fabric; white tulle; clear and various shades of pink beads

G.   White (with a little black) and blue fabric, white tulle and a silver accent (follow your dreams)

If you would like to purchase a pin, email me your selection and I'll send an invoice.   Email me Tuesday or Wednesday and the pin will go in the mail right away.   Pins ordered on Thursday and Friday will be put in the mail late in the day.

NOTE: I have cats and dogs.   If the person the pin is for is allergic to either, please do not order.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12 exec branch update

  • DOH has a new communications director:   Najma L. Roberts is the new communications director at the Department of Health.   Her contact information is:
    899 North Capitol St NE
    Room 537
    Washington, DC 20002
    202-724-7481 - Voice
    202-578-1394 - Cell
  • New, permanent director named to CFSA:   Mayor Gray has appointed Brenda Walker to run Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).   This will be Donald's second time at the helm of this agency.   Donald will start in early January 2012.   For more information, read the press release.
  • It's YouTube for the Mayor:   Mayor Gray is now on YouTube.   That's right, in mid-November, EOM launched the mayor's YouTube channel .   Content includes mayoral press conferences, agency policy statements, and current discussions on the future of District.
  • December 17 youth town hall:   Mayor Gray will meet with youth December 17 from 12:30 – 2:30 pm at Wilson Senior High School (3950 Chesapeake St NW) for one of his regular community-based youth-focused events.   As with all the others, only youth age 21 and younger are permitted to speak their mind; adults may attend the event.   More information is in the flier (Word, .doc).
  • Community feedback needed on Ward 5 Great Schools Initiative:   DC Public Schools seeks public input into this middle school initiative.   The link to the survey (see Give Feedback bullet) is on the Ward 5 Great Schools Initiative webpage.

Will you create advocacy guide for Spanish-speakers in DC?

Do you have Spanish-speaking clients?   Want to help them become more comfortable at meetings with elected officials and staff?   Want to help them improve their advocacy skills?   I would be thrilled if you would translate the Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years into Spanish.   What you do with the translation is up to you; you can sell or give away.   Interested?   Email me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New favorite eggnog cake recipe

Moist Eggnog Cake (Word, .doc) is my new favorite eggnog cake recipe.   It's easy and quick to make.   I highly recommend you try it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

FY 2013 budget update, December 9

(Oops fixed 12/9 at 10a)

The development of the FY 2013 is moving along at the pace detailed in the budget instructions and in law.   Updates are below:

  • FY 2013 proposed budget requirements:   The DC Council voted on December 6 to require Mayor Gray to release his proposed budget March 23, 2012.    PR19-449, "Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Submission Requirements Resolution of 2011" (PDF) also requires the inclusion of specific information, such as crosswalks and other comparisons.   More on this is available in an earlier blog post.
  • Public hearing on budget for DC Public Schools:   The legally-required pre-mayoral release DCPS public hearing on the FY 2013 budget was held November 30.   To get things rolling and to share the context in which the budget will be developed, DCPS budget staff presented essential information about the budget development process, focusing on the revenue outlook as projected by the OCFO (read both 9/16/11 links).   The presentation (on the DCPS website) also includes a schedule of budget development.   The bulk of the event was spent hearing testimony from the public.   DCPS reports 13 of the hearing's 25 attendees testified; some testimony is on the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators (S.H.A.P.P.E.) website.
  • DCPS has a new CFO:   Long-time human support services cluster associate CFO Deloras Shepherd has moved to DC Public Schools.   She is replacing Interim CFO George B. Dines.   Delicia Moore has moved from the Department of Disability Services to become Acting Associate CFO for HSSC, replacing Shepherd.
  • One City Performance Review and its impact on FY 2013:   DCFPI's Elissa Silverman contributed important intelligence to the budget issue with her recent discussion of the One City Performance Reviews.   Silverman shared information from government sources that Suzanne Peck, the volunteer managing the reviews, has asked agencies to identify ways to reduce their budget by 10%.   The impact on FY 2013?   Not known right now.

    But more troubling to me than the reductions are the cuts and policy and practice changes suggested by Peck.   For example, word is that she has recommended that certain agencies increase their projections for Medicaid and other federal funds.   Thus far, agencies and deputy mayors have managed to stave off these ideas.   But there are still three months before Mayor Gray releases his FY 2013 budget proposal and a lot can happen in that time.

Participate in International Anti-Corruption Day, 12/9

Today is International Anti-Corruption Day—are you going to take action against ethical lapses of DC elected and appointed officials?   The UN Convention Against Corruption has made taking action easy with its action matrix (PDF).

Let's do what the UN Secretary-General has called on each of us to do: "pledge to do our part by cracking down on corruption, shaming those who practice it and engendering a culture that values ethical behaviour."

Community meetings about charter school report cards

The DC Public Charter School Board is holding a series of meetings for parents and community members to explain the recently released school report cards.   Meetings are:
  • Wards 2 and 3: December 12, 6:00 ‐ 7:00 pm, Center City, Shaw Campus PCS (711 N St NW)
  • Wards 7 and 8: December 13, 6:00 ‐ 7:00 pm, Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS (2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE)
  • Wards 1 and 4: December 14, 6:00 ‐ 7:00 pm, Capital City PCS, Lower Campus (3047 15th St NW)

The meeting for Wards 5 and 6 was held December 8.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

International Anti-Corruption Day, December 9

December 9 is International Anti-Corruption Day and the UN Secretary-General calls on each of us to "pledge to do our part by cracking down on corruption, shaming those who practice it and engendering a culture that values ethical behaviour."   Perhaps you can take a few minutes Friday to take the UN Secretary-General's challenge; the UN has created an easy-to-read and –follow call to action matrix (PDF) for just this purpose.

While the recent problems in DC have been largely framed as ethical violations and lapses, the United Nations Convention against Corruption deems the DC officials' alleged offenses corrupt.   The convention's list includes bribery of national public officials; illicit enrichment; trading in influence; and embezzlement, misappropriation, or other diversion of property by a public official.

According to the Transparency International report Corruption Perceptions Index 2011, the United States rates fairly "clean" in the index of 183 countries and territories.   The rating of 7.1 (10 is very clean and 0 is highly corrupt) places the United States in 24th place behind the likes of New Zealand, Switzerland, and Germany.

Corruption in the District may pale in comparison to that of other countries, but the fact remains that ethical lapses undermine the authority of elected and appointed officials and detract attention from managing and governing.   The DC Council is considering legislation (Bill 19-511, "Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011", final committee report and committee print online) to address the issue of ethics in government.

Notwithstanding DC Council actions to address the problem, some members of the public remain skeptical that the legislation will make the positive difference people believe is needed and want.   Chuck Thies, for example, advocates for the expulsion of ethical offenders holding office.   Writes Thies, "Ethics reform will not be comprehensive until the D.C. Council creates a mechanism for expelling members who break laws or bring shame on the institution and our city."

What we know about corruption is that it is often hard to identify, time going by—sometimes years—before enough evidence is found.   That's why Transparency International uses perceived levels of public sector corruption in their annual report.   According to Transparency International,

The 2011 index draws on assessments and opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. These surveys and assessments include questions related to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and the effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts. Perceptions are used because corruption is to a great extent a hidden activity that is difficult to measure. Over time, perceptions have proved to be a reliable estimate of corruption.

Permanent CFSA director announcement 12/8

Mayor Vince Gray is announcing the permanent director of Child and Family Services Agency today at 1:30 in the JAWB, Room G-9.

Community forum on Skyland, December 17

The December 17, 10:30 am - Noon community forum about the history and future of the Skyland is sponsored by the Living Wages, Healthy Communities Coalition and The Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church.   Residents and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend to learn and share concerns, thoughts, and priorities for this important development.   More information is in this flier (Word, .docx)

Celebrate the holidays with FAPAC

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Volunteers and donations needed for Santa's Secret Gift Shop

Volunteer at this fun annual event for children and you will ensure they have a fun time shopping for family members.   The Santa's Secret Gift Shop at Joseph Cole Recreation Center (1299 Neal St NE ) takes place December 15 from 5:00 - 6:30 pm.   The event is for children 12 and under.

This is a great opportunity to donate all those gifts that weren't your style, the knick-knacks you've decided no longer match your decor, and any other unwanted items suitable for re-gifting.   Gift wrap and gift boxes are also needed.   Deliver donations to the rec center by December 13.

More information is available by calling Zenobia Moton at (202) 442-9262.

Personal note:   I've participated in this event and had a terrific time!   And, it makes a great office effort.   Volunteer and then have your holiday party.

DC Public Library news

DC Public Library has great and not-so-great news to share.

The great news is the December 5, 2011 to February 5, 2012 Check It In: Fine Forgiveness Campaign.   The goals of the campaign are to reclaim overdue books and other materials and get library card holders back into the library to participate in the wondrous world of literature!

This is a no questions asked campaign.   No matter the condition of the material, no matter how long you've had it, all you have to do it return it.   The same goes for lost books and CDs.

The not-so-good news?   BooksPlus, the library's gift and used book store, is closing December 30.   Sales will not end with the closing, though.   There is a link on the DCPL website to the online store.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6 DC Council COW and leg meeting

The Committee of the Whole (Council Chairman Kwame Brown, chair) is meeting December 6 at 10:00 am for an additional meeting.   Details and the agenda are on the meeting page online.

Following the COW will be the 24th legislative meeting of the council; details are on the meeting page online.

Volunteers needed for Green Tomorrows Program

Common Good City Farm needs outreach volunteers for its Green Tomorrows Program.   Green Tomorrows is a gardening and education program providing fresh food to low-income individuals and families in DC.   If you are interested in helping low-income folks and improving the local food system, this is the opportunity for you.   Email Jeremiah for more information and/or to express your interest.

New, spam-free Ward 8 electronic discussion group

Ward 8 map
Photo by By Dcmacnut (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Tired of the spam on Ward8net, a long-standing Yahoo group?   Check out and join DCWard8, a new, spam-free Yahoo group.   The new group will feature resident-contributed announcements and more, just as the older one does.

And if you are a resident of Ward 8, or a stakeholder of this great ward, please join and share your comments about what will make a good group moderator.   Or, volunteer to moderate the group.   I own the group but want a stakeholder to run it.

Please join today and encourage others to do so!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do you subscribe to Susie's Budget and Policy Corner? It's free!

Do you subscribe via email to the blog?

If not, you should.   When you subscribe, you will receive in your inbox each morning the blog posts for the day.   On any given day there will be information and/or intelligence about budget and policy issues, other important government news, child- and youth-related nonprofit news, and much more.

Your can also follow the blog using an RSS feed.

Finally, follow me—about the blog and more—via Twitter.

Make reading the blog easy.   Sign-up today—scroll down a little bit until you see the email sign-up box on the right.

Whether or not you choose to sign up, I appreciate the time you spend on the blog.

Remember: Community forum on child sexual abuse, 12/8

Register soon for the December 8 Safe Shores - The DC Children's Advocacy Center free Community Learning Forum on child sexual abuse.   Space is limited.   RSVP by December 6 via email or by calling 645-4436.

Flier is here (PDF) and below.

From the December 2 DCR

  • Public oversight roundtable on special education:   The Committee of the Whole (Council Chairman Kwame Brown, chair) is holding a public roundtable on the issues of special ed transportation and special ed services for preschool children December 12 at 10:00 am.   The purpose of the roundtable is to learn the status of the city's efforts to improve transportation to special ed students and respond to the recent federal court ruling that the city failed to provide services to hundreds of preschoolers.

    The public is encouraged to testify; details are in the hearing notice (PDF)

  • Excepted services positions published:   DC Law requires excepted services positions be published annually; the 2011 list is here in Word.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DC State Fair needs board members—apply by December 9

DC State Fair, a relatively new DC nonprofit, provides DC's gardeners, cooks, bakers, photographers, and artists with a way to showcase their talents and residents a way to celebrate these home-grown talents.

DC State Fair needs board members to replace those whose tenures are up.   So if you have nonprofit management experience, a community development and engagement background, or just a passion to bring agricultural, culinary, and arts education to the community to develop and encourage neighborly showcasing of talent and competition, then DC State Fair wants you to apply.   Email your resume, letter of intent, and one or two supporting documents (if you’d like) by December 9.

New events added to Advocacy and Learning Calendar (12/5)

Events new to the Advocacy and Learning Calendar are:
  • The State of Young America, December 5
  • Housing and Transportation Affordability in Washington, DC, December 6
  • Coffee for Kids Open House at Safe Shores, December 8
  • Food Policy Implementation Research Workshop, December 8
  • DCAYA meeting with UDC-CC and DOES, December 9
  • UnSectored Talk, December 13
  • Committee on Health Staff Meet and Greet, December 16
  • TANF Information Session, December 17
  • Will Free Benefit the Rich? How Free and Open Education Might Widen Digital Divides, January 17, 2012

If you've got an event to add, email me the information (text and PDF or JPEG) and link to the information on your website.   DCAYA did just this and so their December 9 meeting was added to the calendar.   Thanks, DCAYA!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Upcoming learning and advocacy events (12/2 update)

Some of the events recently added to the Advocacy and Learning Calendar are:
  • "Can Small Businesses Survive in Ward 4?", December 7
  • Ward 8 Health Council, December 9
  • 2011 Regional HIV AIDS Forum, December 9
  • The Importance of Collaborative Practice Agreements to Improve Health Care for Teens, December 14
  • CHF’s 2012 Annual Meeting, Connecting Communities: Advancing Regional Solutions for Health Equity, January 12, 2012

If you've got an event to add, email me the information (text and PDF or JPEG) and link to the information on your website.

Give yourself a free treat for the holidays

An easy and free treat for yourself this holiday season:   A DC Public Library library card!   That's right.   A library card.   Use it to explore the world, learn new languages, find old friends, and escape.

Getting a card is easy and free.   All the information you need is on the DCPL website.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sign up for DCist Daily

Sign up for this incredibly useful resource, "DCist Daily." (UPDATE: Link fixed 12/2, 9:35a)

Make the call when it's cold

Thanks to Marina Streznewski for this fab idea!

More free webinars from Wild Apricot!!

The latest list of free webinars for nonprofits from Wild Apricot presents a wealth of opportunities to learn how to recruit, train, and best utilize volunteers.   You will also find webinars related to development.   Take a look; even better, take a look and sign up for emails.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The next step in ethics reform, November 30

The ethical lapses of elected officials have some in the community stewing and others, like Martin Austermuhle of DCist, suggesting that simplicity is the best solution.   Austermuhle contributed to WaPo's November 4 piece The ethics reform that D.C. needs most, writing that the solution is to have members of the DC Council think simplistically (no snarky response here, folks, this one is just too easy).   The example is an "Ethics Quick Test" (see the DC government's here on DCist) which is similar to one used by Texas Instruments:
  • Is the action legal?
  • Does it comply with our values?
  • If you do it, will you feel bad?
  • How will it look in the newspaper?
  • If you know it's wrong, don't do it!
  • If you're not sure, ask.
  • Keep asking until you get an answer.

Laugh, snicker, snort if you must; I did.   I'm with DCist's Aaron Morrissey on this one:

Of course, this "quick test" assumes that the person thinking about committing a violation would actually be sentient enough to honestly answer such questions, which, as we all know, is quite the assumption to be making.

Back to the serious discussion.   The fevered pitch of the public outcry has died down over the past month or so but the need for reform remains.   Former Councilmember Kathy Patterson is spot on when she said this (Word, .doc) at the October 26 public hearing on multiple ethics bills:

only the Council can restore public trust in the Council and ensure that trust is retained in the future; that cannot be accomplished by outside entities no matter what their scope and responsibility.

The same can be said for the mayor.

I don't have any answers.   But I do have expectations and I expect elected and appointed officials to behave ethically.   I am sure we cannot legislate ethical behavior any more than we can legislate moral or socially acceptable behavior.   That doesn't mean we don't try and it certainly doesn't mean the community should not hold elected officials accountable.

Part of this thing called accountability is weighing in on legislation.   Eighteen members of the public have registered to testify (see the draft list, circulated November 29) (Word, .doc) at the Committee on Government Operations (Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser, chair) public roundtable on the Draft Committee Print of Bill 19-511, the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011 November 30 at 11:00 am (PDF) in the JAWB.

Watch the event via OCT.

The November 30 roundtable is focused on the specific proposal of the Committee on Government Operations, not the issue generally and not about the numerous bills before the committee.   The committee may make changes to the proposal depending on comments made at the roundtable.

A gift idea for your favorite advocate

Looking for a gift for your favorite DC advocate?   Consider giving them Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years.   The guide makes a perfect holiday or job-well-done gift.   Also a terrific item for new staff.

You can learn more about the guide and purchase it here on the blog.

Community learning forum on child sexual abuse—a must-attend event

Safe Shores - The DC Children's Advocacy Center is hosting a free Community Learning Forum December 8 from 6:00 - 8:30 pm at Safe Shores (429 O St NW).

Attendees will leave with an increased awareness of the prevalence, consequences and circumstances of child sexual abuse and new skills to prevent, recognize and react responsibly when you suspect or witness abuse occurring.   The organization, which services children in the District who have been sexually or physically abused and offers affordable prevention and identification training to child- and youth-serving organizations, was spurred to offer this forum following the recent child sexual abuse allegations at Penn State and Syracuse University and the ensuing national dialogue.

Dinner will be provided.   This event is free, but space is limited.   RSVP by December 5 to Jada Irwin via email or by calling 645-4436.

Safe Shores' Community Learning Forum is co-sponsored by National Children's Alliance, Children's National Medical Center, Metropolitan Police Department, Child and Family Services Agency - Child Protective Services Administration, and Downtown Cluster of Congregations.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rules published in the 11/25 DCR

  • Final rules protecting kids in foster care from identity theft:   Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) issued final rules (Word, .doc) to protect children and youth in a variety of ways.
  • Proposed rules for assessing families who may be abusing or neglecting their children:   CFSA issued proposed rules (Word, .doc) detailing the procedure for referring a family for a family assessment in lieu of an investigation in response to certain reports of abuse or neglect.    The public is encouraged to comment in writing on the proposal; more information is in the proposed rules.    The public has 30 days to submit comments.

Walmart in DC: Good, Bad, Indifferent?

Seems like there are mostly lovers or haters of Walmart with a few agnostics thrown in for good measure.

On the lover side is Mayor Vince Gray.   On November 22, he announced a deal with Walmart that "represents an unprecedented, citywide commitment from a retailer that is already poised to help create more than 1,800 permanent jobs in our city."   The mayor is touting as a major success the community benefit agreement—calling for filling jobs with DC residents, investing $21 million over the next seven years in local charities, and forming a Community Advisory Committee to broker retailer-community relations.

The hater side is somewhat more nuanced.   Some simply loathe the retailer, the emotion typically fueled by Walmart's less than worker-friendly business practices and impact on small business.   But there are others in this camp; these folks exercise extreme caution when talking about/working with Walmart.   Marina Streznewski, Executive Director of the DC Jobs Council, is an example of the extreme caution group.   She has invested significant time and energy in getting the most for the community out of Walmart and offers this assessment:

Walmart really did not commit to anything specific, such as paying a living wage, or guaranteeing a certain percentage of full-time jobs. And there is a big question as to whether this agreement is legally enforceable; the second-to-last paragraph seems to suggest it is not.

The second to the last paragraph?   "Any intentions or commitments contained in this document are subject and contingent upon business conditions that will continue to ensure a productive relationship with the city and its residents."

According to the DC Environmental Network (DCEN), the plan Mayor Gray presented was actually a document created by Walmart.   And the nonprofit environmental group takes the mayor to task for failing to "include any substantive environmental commitments beyond following laws already on the books."   Surely, this response is to be expected from an environmental group.   But there's substance behind the criticism.   DCEN and others saw the promise of Sustainable DC, a collaborative effort to make the District the greenest, healthiest, and most livable city in the country.   While it's true that there has been considerable public input so far in the initiative, it's ironic that the Walmart decision was made before the project ended.   (The kickoff for Sustainable DC working groups is November 29, a week after the Walmart announcement.)

Learn more about the environmental and other impacts of Walmart on the community at the DC Environmental Network's "Walmart & DC: How Walmart's Sustainability Plan is Not So Green" December 1 at Noon.   The event is free and open to the public.   More information is on the DCEN website.

As to the issue of whether Walmart will be good for the District, there is something to be said for new jobs going to DC residents.   I'm not naive enough to believe all the government hype, but I do believe that the public can and will try to get real benefits for the city and her residents.   My advice?   Attend the DCEN event even if the environment is not your main cause and participate in Sustainable DC.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rules noticed in the 11/18 DCR

  • Proposed rules from the DC Housing Authority (DCHA):   DCHA issued proposed rules (Word, .doc) concerning the waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher Program.   Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from the date of publication.   Details about submitting comments are in the rules.
  • Proposed rules for mental health services:   The Department of Mental Health issued proposed rules (Word, .doc) for peer specialist certification.   Peer specialists will deliver Medicaid-reimbursable mental health rehabilitation services to children, youth, and adults.   Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from the date of publication.   Details about submitting comments are in the rules.
  • Proposed rules from UDC about issuing a warning during an emergency:   The UDC Board of Trustees issued proposed rules (Word, .doc) regarding the establishment of policies and procedures for timely warning in the event of an emergency.   Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from the date of publication.   Details about submitting comments are in the rules.   (Presumably, these rules are a result of crises like that at Virginia Tech.   One wonders why it has taken so long for UDC to develop these plans.)
  • Proposed rules to implement a discrimination and harassment policy at UDC:   The UDC Board of Trustees issued proposed rules (Word, .doc) to implement a discrimination and harassment policy at UDC that conforms with local and federal laws.   Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from the date of publication.   Details about submitting comments are in the rules.
  • Proposed rules for UDC to comply with crime notification law:   Proposed by the UDC trustees, the purpose of the proposed rule (Word, .doc) is to comply with the Campus Safety Act, also known as the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires college and universities to report annual crime statistics, provide timely warnings of serious crimes when there may be a threat to others, and to keep a public log of campus incidents.   According to Complying With The Jeanne Clery Act, the law ties disclosure to participation in federal student financial aid programs.   Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from the date of publication.   Details about submitting comments are in the rules.
  • Proposed rules to establish alcohol policy at UDC:   The purpose of the proposed rule (Word, .doc) is to establish an alcohol policy in compliance with the Higher Education Act, Campus Safety Act and other federal and local laws.   Public comments will be accepted for 30 days from the date of publication.   Details about submitting comments are in the rules.
  • Proposed and emergency rules from CFSA:   CFSA has just issued these emergency and proposed rules (Word, .doc) about foster homes even though they were effective in August.   CFSA seeks comments on these rules.   They've explained that these rules include substantial revisions from the previous emergency and proposed rules on the same subject.

DC Council hearings noticed in the 11/25 DCR

Need some help preparing your testimony for one of these hearings?   No worries.   Buy the affordable Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years and you can follow the outline or use the template.   The PDF guide offers instructions, tips, and notes for writing letters, preparing and delivering testimony, holding briefings, templates for written communications, and much more.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quick and easy hermit bar recipe

Got a bit of time and a hankering for something sweet and spicy?   Take a few minutes to make these Hermit Bars and you'll be happy you did.   They are moist and yummy and easy to make.

Friday, November 25, 2011

DC Council hearings noticed in 11/18 DCR

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nonprofit news

  • Connecting Classrooms with Careers, December 5:   The Brookings Institution is holding this roundtable to discuss the recent Brookings report, Strengthening Educational and Career Pathways for D.C. Youth and the broader issue of rebuilding career and technical education in DC high schools.The event is being held December 5 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at Brookings (1775 Massachusetts Ave NW ).   RSVP to Karen Slachetka via email by December 1.

    The report recommends the District adopt the goal that by 2022, 90% of DC youth will earn a post-secondary credential and obtain full-time work by age 24.   Ross contends that one way to improve outcomes for District youth is to reinvigorate Career and Technical Education (CTE) in public schools.   Career Academies are a particular form of CTE that blend small learning communities, integrated academic and occupational curriculum, and strong partnerships with employers.   Research shows that Career Academies provide strong labor market payoffs and do not reduce post-secondary enrollment and completion.   Come hear about the opportunities and challenges for CTE programs in DCPS and public charter schools and participate in a roundtable discussion.

    Event speakers are:

    *Martha Ross, Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program
    *James Kemple, Executive Director, Research Alliance for New York City Schools and formerly with MDRC, where he was principal investigator of the Career Academies evaluation
    *Thomas Penny, General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center and Board of Trustees, Hospitality High School
    *K-12 representative TBD
  • New report on employment opportunities for previously incarcerated:   The Council for Court Excellence has just released the first major study to document the enormous obstacles to employment facing DC residents with a criminal record. Unlocking Employment Opportunity for Previously Incarcerated Persons in the District of Columbia offers practical and inexpensive solutions for addressing the issue of reentry and unemployment.   This free report is in PDF.
  • How supportive housing is funded:   CNHED's Elizabeth Falcon offers a look into the daunting issue of funding for affordable programs in DC with this November 7 blog post Supportive Housing Funding.
  • Fair Chance has moved:   Their new address is
    2001 S Street, NW
    Suite 310
    Washington, DC 20009

    Their phone and email are unchanged.

  • Bread for the City's now farming:   The University of the District of Columbia has granted access to 1.8 acres to Bread so the nonprofit can plant about 1,000 apple and Asian pear trees along with hundreds of blueberry and blackberry bushes.   City Orchard, as the new project is called, is just outside of the District.   Learn more about the project in this WAMU piece and in this blog post.
  • DCFPI continues to offer valuable insights:   DC Fiscal Policy Institute continues to offer solid evaluations of public policy and budget ideas along with well thought out recommendations for improving people's lives through policy.   Be sure to follow them on their blog District's Dime.
  • Safe Shores ED featured in Essence magazine:   Michele Booth Cole was featured in the October 2011 issue of Essence magazine in an article entitled "The 10 Principles of Power" (and in PDF here) about successful women in leadership positions.   Booth Coles is featured on the title page of the article; she talks about her work to secure Safe Shores' newly renovated home at the former Bundy School in northwest DC.   She also discusses some of the obstacles she encountered and how she overcame them to ultimately ensure that Safe Shores acquired a larger, child-focused facility to serve children and families affected by abuse, trauma and violence in the District.

    You can learn more about what inspires and drives Booth Cole in 7 Questions – Michele Booth Cole (Safe Shores).

  • Workshop on crimes against children, December 8:   Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW) and Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington are sponsoring "Facebook Gangsters and Other Computer Crimes Against Children" December 8 from 4:00 – 7:30 pm at the Ophelia Egypt Health Center (3927A Minnesota Ave NE).   More info below.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New community calendar for Ward 5

Ward 5 resident Nolan Treadway has started the Ward 5 Calendar, a terrific resource for the community.   The calendar will include community events, ANC meetings, Single Member District meetings, education events, book events, community gatherings, and political events relating to Ward 5.

Submit events to Treadway via email.

Think child abuse happens only happens in poor families?

Think child abuse happens only happens in poor families?   Check out Wednesday's Child, an episode of Prime Suspect.   True, it is a tv show, but it reflects the truth.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Make the call when it's cold

Thanks to Marina Streznewski for this fab idea!

Where things are on the improved DC Council website

As I use the new and improved DC Council website I sometimes wander around looking for things.   'Cause you might do the same, I thought I'd share two bits of useful information.   Note Catherine Wigginton, queen of the council website, pointed me in the right direction.
Looking for a page listing all the hearing notices?   Here's the page.   You can get to this page from the home page by selecting Hearing Notices under the top right General Info menu.   Also, once you’re anywhere else in the site, you’ll see the sidebar links for Hearing Notices, Register to Testify at a Hearing, Watch Hearings Live, and Register to Vote in DC.

Looking for CM and committee office numbers?   You can find that in the Council two-page directory, found on the About the Council page.   You can get to the About the Council page from the home page in three ways.   First from the middle row with images (Watch Hearings; About the Council; Current Legislation; etc).   Second at the very top right of the home page are three header links (RSS, Press Center, General Info).   Look under the General Info tab, "About the Council."   Third in the home page footer section, "Learn, Engage, Find."   Look in "Learn" and you'll find another link to About the Council.

Public hearing on release of DYRS escapee photos

The Committee on Human Services (Ward 1 CM Jim Graham, chair) issued an abbreviated hearing notice November 17 about a public hearing on B19-301, The "Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services Escapee Photo Identification Release Amendment Act of 2011".   The hearing is scheduled for December 2 at 11:00 am.

B19-301 would amend Title 16 of the District of Columbia Official Code to provide that if a respondent escapes from a secure juvenile facility, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) shall release to the public any and all information subject to disclosure, including a photograph, within one hour of the absconding or escaping, shall list the respondent as a fugitive from justice with any other designation deemed appropriate, and shall release additional information if it is necessary to protect the respondent or the public safety and welfare.

The public is encouraged to testify.   Details are in the unofficial hearing notice.   Note:   Official notices are published in the DC Register and there is no notice in the November 18 DCR.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nearly 150 witnesses for 11/18 oversight hearing on re-entry programs

The witness list for the oversight hearing on re-entry programs being held November 18 at Noon should help viewers follow along.

Student essay contest about democracy

The DC Arts & Humanities Education Collaborative is sponsoring an essay contest, encouraging students in grades 5-12 to write about the topic, "As a citizen of DC, what does democracy mean to me?"

The contest is open to students in public and public charter schools.   The top ten contestants in each grade grouping will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in April 2012.   Winners from each grade grouping will be awarded $1,000 and have the opportunity to read their essay aloud at a library, as well as win a new book for their schools and professional development opportunities for their teachers.

The submission deadline is February 29, 2012.

Mediation now available for time-sharing schedules during holidays

Superior Court's Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division has kicked off "Same Day Express", a mediation service being offered to discuss time-sharing schedule of children surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and/or school winter break.   More information is in this flier (Word, .doc).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving baskets for foster kids

There's still time to participate in CFSA's Thanksgiving food basket drive to benefit children and youth involved in the child welfare system.   Donations are to be dropped off at CFSA November 22.   Need more info?   Call Beatrice Williars, 497-4264.

Advocacy and Learning Calendar updates

Some of the events recently added to the Advocacy and Learning Calendar are:
  • Public Dialogue on Community Needs and Community Spaces, November 21
  • Poverty, Inequality, Mobility, Oh My!, November 22
  • Webinar about "Criminalizing Crisis: The Criminalization of Homelessness in America", November 29
  • Paid Sick Days for Tipped Workers Briefing, December 5
  • Housing and Transportation Affordability in Washington, DC, December 6

If you've got an event to add, email me the information (text and PDF or JPEG) and link to the information on your website.

Mayor Gray on NewsTalk, November 17

Mayor Vince Gray will appear on NewsChannel 8’s NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt November 17 from 10:00 - 11:00 am.   Watch online.   Tweet questions to TBDNewsTalk, call (703) 387-1020, or email DePuyt.

Are DC Council URLs correct on your website?

Do you have links to the DC Council on your website?   Have you checked them since the council revamped its website?   You should since URLs have changed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writing competition: What does home mean to you?

What makes where you live a home?   Is it the memories, family gatherings, or friendly neighborhood?   Have you struggled to find a place that you could call home?   What is important to you about your home? The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) wants to hear your stories.

CNHED is having their first writing competition where we are asking youth and adults to answer the question: "What does home mean to you?"

Prizes will be awarded in a youth and adult category and will be recognized at the December 10 Housing for All Rally.   For more information about the entry process and prizes, click here. Submissions are due November 21, 2011.

Getting personal with local journalists

Do the names Mike DeBonis, Sommer Mathis, and Harry Jaffe ring any bells?   Aside from being DC-based journalists, they all call Borderstan home.   (A map of Borderstan, as shown on the Borderstan blog illustrates the multi-neighborhood area.)

Learn something more personal about each of the journalists by reading interviews with them: Mike DeBonis, Sommer Mathis, and Harry Jaffe.

Federal grant information now online

CFO Natwar Gandhi announced November 15 that information on federal grants is now available via   You can now see info by agency, program (in EOM-speak, division), federal grant and by program/division, and expense type.

According to the press release (Word, .doc),

"This is just the latest step in our ongoing efforts to improve transparency of the District’s budget and finances," said Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. "We will continue to seek new ways to provide more detailed data to our citizens and taxpayers," Gandhi added.

No matter what Gandhi says, this is only a mini step toward transparency.   District government agencies budget to the activity level (human services) and the service level (including public safety agencies).   This means that CFOInfo is keeping a tremendous amount of information off the website, away from the public.

Even with this significant shortcoming, this new info is useful. The site slices and dices the data in some very helpful ways as shown below.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15 Committee of the Whole

The Committee of the Whole (At-large CM Kwame Brown, chair) is scheduled to meet November 15 at 10:00 am.   The agenda is online (PDF).   If you can't make it to the JAWB, you can watch the session from the COW meeting page or via the OCT website.

Test your knowledge of DC Council committees

Here's a little something to test what you know about DC Council committees: A game (Word, .doc) wherein you match the committee to the committee director/clerk.   (UPDATE: List corrected 9:45 a 11/15.   Thanks to Karen Sibert in chair's office for correction!)   Feel free to use in workshops or with colleagues.

Rules noticed in the November 11 DC Register

  • DC ONE card replacement fee final rules:   The Office of the Chief Technology Officer issued final rules (Word, .doc) on this issue in the November 11 DCR.
  • Fuel surcharge on cabs emergency rule:   The DC Taxicab Commission issued emergency rules (Word, .doc) to extend a fuel surcharge of $1.00 per taxicab trip originating in the District of Columbia.   The emergency rule will be in force for 120 days unless changed earlier by the commission chair.   The rules become effective November 18.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The real Penn State story

Much of the mainstream press would have you believe that the Penn State/Sandusky child abuse story is about Joe Paterno, a football legend.   Many in the public believe this too.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Indulge me while I tell a real-life story.

There once was a seven-year-old girl living in a solidly-middle class family that loved and did all they could for her.   This little girl and her family lived in a solidly middle-class neighborhood.   The adults in the neighborhood looked out for the girl and her younger brother, as they did all children in the neighborhood.   Step out of line and an adult admonished the child.

This child could not have lived in a more stable environment.   She lived in luxury compared to the children in the Hartford public school in which her mother volunteered.   She may have wanted toys that she did not get but there was nothing about her upbringing that had her wanting for the important things—love, shelter, food, medical care.

This young girl was molested by two adults and an older teen.

That's right, this solidly middle-class girl was molested by solidly middle-class people.

Skip ahead to young adulthood and the girl acted out knowing full well the cause.   People around her didn't know and she didn't tell her parents until she was in her mid-20s.

This woman was lucky and had a great support system to get through the disclosure.   Her family was incredibly supportive.   This young woman bravely went public in a healing service at the church in which she grew up.   All was going well during the service until her father broke down in tears, almost inconsolable.

Back to the Penn State story.

The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh got it right in Penn State's Paterno deserves no pity with this: "Save your pity for the trusting boys who may grow up into tortured men, not JoePa."   And this: "Right now, I still see a guy who was one of Pennsylvania's most powerful people who looked away and failed to protect children."

When I hear stories about child sexual abuse, I cringe, get mad, reflect on my past, and move on.   Not possible with this story.   There is something so wrong with the narrative that focuses on the adults at Penn State who knew what Sandusky is alleged to have done to boys.   The story is about the boys, about the impact of the abuse now and forever, about their families now and in the future.

Sexual abuse is not something you can just shake off.   Take it from me.

I wish I could make the pain go away for those Sandusky abused.   I can't.   What I can do is to continue my work in the area of child abuse and neglect and to speak out when I hear folks pity the likes of the abusers or those who knew and took the easy, cowardly road of saying nothing.

DC Council hearings noticed in the November 11 DC Register

  • A continuation public oversight roundtable on the winter plan for homeless people:   The Committee on Human Services (Ward 1 CM Jim Graham, chair) is holding this roundtable November 18 at 10:00 am.   The purpose is to hear more from the director of the Department of Human Services, David Berns.   Berns' first appearance on the issue was October 20; watch the hearing here.   More information is in the notice (PDF).   Watch the hearing live via the hearing's event page.
  • Oversight roundtable on the role of DPR and DC Public Library in emergency preparedness:   The Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation, and Planning (Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells, chair) is holding this roundtable November 30 from 1:00 – 5:00 pm.   The public is invited to testify; details are in the revised notice (PDF). More about the roundtable and to watch it live, go to the roundtable page.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Join the 12/1 discussion of the transformation of the District's juvenile justice system

Notorious to Notable: How the Foundation Community Pushed to Transform the District of Columbia's Juvenile Justice Agency is taking place December 1 from 11:45 am – 2:00 pm at Public Welfare Foundation (1200 U St NW).   The event will feature a briefing on the new report Notorious to Notable, an interactive discussion among juvenile justice system stakeholders, and a screening of "The Road to Rehabilitation and Reform: a short film about D.C. and its disconnected youth."

Space is limited.   RSVP by November 22 to Sarah Joy Albrecht via email.