Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mayor Gray's weekly press briefing sked through May

Mayor Vince Gray distributed this schedule (Word, .doc) of his weekly press briefings through May.   NOTE:   The April 6 presser may be cancelled since the mayor is scheduled to present his budget and officially brief the Council that day.

"Like" Roti Mediterranean Grill and help Safe Shores win moolah

Help Safe Shores - The DC Children’s Advocacy Center benefit from the generosity of Roti Mediterranean Grill’s Roti Loves DC Back Nonprofit Contest.   And, of course, the generosity of Roti customers who will be making donations.

Residents and colleagues and friends of Safe Shores are encouraged to vote for Safe Shores before April 22.   Voting is easy:

  1. Go to the Roti Mediterranean Grill Facebook page
  2. Like Roti
  3. Click the "Vote Now" button
  4. Click "Like" at the top of the page AND THEN click on the Safe Shores logo
  5. You can add a comment on the Safe Shores page if you'd like

What does Safe Shores win if it garners the most votes?   Safe Shores would get all the donations collected during the opening of each Roti Free Lunch Day.   Each Roti opening will offer customers lunch on the house in return for a donation to the selected non-profit organization.   All proceeds raised during Free Lunch Day will go to the organization with the most votes.

Need more info or just want to see the lovely flier for the help Safe Shores by voting for it on the Roti Facebook page?   Then click here (PDF).   Want to find the Roti closest to you?   Check out their locations.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another change has been made to the FY 2012 budget hearing sked

The FY 2012 budget hearing schedule has changed yet again.

CM Catania presser on major youth mental health and juvenile justice initiative, 3/30 at 1p

Today at 1:00 pm in Room 123 of the Wilson Building, CM Catania will present the solution, "South Capitol Street Tragedy Memorial Act of 2011."   CM Catania will be joined by Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, CM Sekou Biddle, Nardyne Jefferies (mother of Brishell Jones), and Shelly Proctor (mother of William Jones III).

Those advocates, including me, who played a significant role in the development of the legislation will also be attending the press conference.

Following the South Capitol Street tragedy one year ago, At-large CM David Catania took action, launching an initiative to determine what the city could do better to prevent such violence and identify and treat youth with mental health issues.

On July 8, 2010, the Committee on Health and the Committee on Human Services (Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells, then-chair) held a joint public oversight roundtable to hear from the law firm Nixon Peabody LLP about their preliminary findings on the range of solutions to the city's long-standing problem of youth violence.

Since that time, the Committee on Health has been interviewing local policy and practice advocates and conducting research toward the goal of developing a legislative solution to the problems of youth mental health and violence challenges.

More information about the event and the initiative are available from Brendan Williams-Kief, (202) 724-7772 or via email.

Join with MWPHA for focus on creating a healthier generation, April 12

The Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association's 2011 Annual Meeting on April 12 will focus on implementing health reform as a way to have healthier residents.   MWPHA naturally seeks attendees.   But it is also seeking sponsors and exhibitors.   Information about attending, sponsoring and exhibiting is in this information packet (PDF).

Mayor Gray's weekly presser, March 30

Mayor Gray's weekly presser is today from 10:00 - 11:00 am in the JAWB.   There are various topics on agenda including the recent SNAP (Food Stamp) award to the District.

The city's new interactive zoning map

So this is not new to people interested in zoning, but cool and new to me:   the city's interactive zoning map.   The release contains all the hype if you're interested but I'll summarize.   This map lets you determine the zoning classification for any property; search for zoning information by address, square and lot, parcel, or Zoning Commission case; and determine info on property for which a Planned Unit Development (PUD) has been granted by the Zoning Commission.   Users can also take a look at the street with the "street view" and customize the map with various layers of data.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FY 2012 budget hearing schedule change, 3/28

The FY 2012 budget hearing schedule has changed again, including a new date for the Child and Family Services Agency hearing, now April 18 at 11:00 am in Room 123.

Learn about the proposed FY 2012 CFSA budget April 11

Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) has announced they are holding a briefing on the agency's proposed FY 2012 budget April 11 from 4:00 - 6:00 pm at CFSA.   More information about the event is in the invitation (PDF).

Youth mentoring, salvation to youth crime and delinquency -- if only it were true

My problem with the March 27 Hamil Harris piece, "Direct mentorship key to halting youth violence crisis, say prayer event leaders" is the belief that action to help young people is good.   Harris writes,
The ballroom was packed. There were police chiefs, ex-offenders, a White House official and a federal judge. Their message was the same:

Help us turn lives around. Help us steer young people away from crime.

Be mentors. Build programs. Step up to keep them off the streets and be productive, not destructive.

This belief, that action is better than inaction, delivered as it was, ignores what we know about what works and what doesn't.   And so I commented:

The solution is not to start a program. Rather, the solution is to institute quality programming that is a best practice or evidence-based and regularly evaluated. The problem is that we (DC, at least) have a plethora of programs very few of which are rigorous, based on a model/theory of change, evaluated, and demonstrated to work.

It is, in fact, the "just jump in and help" idea that is not helpful. This approach results in depleting scarce resources and diverting from those efforts that do work and could/should be taken to scale.

Moreover, jurisdictions need a plan. This is a serious problem and thus requires a serious and deliberative approach.   This doesn't mean volunteers are not needed.   It means that reason and demonstrated effectiveness rules the day through research, not individual stories that are, it is true, compelling.

If we want to effect lasting change, we need a new approach.   Residents, on the delivering and receiving ends, deserve no less.

Does mentoring work?   It can.   Is keeping youth engaged and off the street productive?   It can be.   The problem is that not all programming is good and we have to understand that what should come first is effectiveness and later staffing, including engaging volunteers and members of the community and their talents.

Those interested in effecting positive change must understand the solution is not about us but rather about a model that has been shown to be effective.   Effecting positive change will require rigor and commitment and funding and evaluation and, oh, rigor.   To the extent that a mentoring model fits into this framework, we should implement the program.   But we have, in my view, funded too many programs for too long that are not effective.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Will Mayor Gray support a "Just DC Budget and Tax Plan"?

DC Statehood Greens are certainly hoping that Mayor Gray will support a "Just DC Budget and Tax Plan" and will be talking more about the plan and the need before the State of the District Address this evening.

DC Statehood Greens will be holding a press conference March 28 at 6:00 pm in front of Eastern High School (1700 East Capitol St NE).   According to the release, "Statehood Greens will offer a progressive alternative to DC's present regressive income tax.   The progressive plan would generate $250 million in additional revenue that should go into essential social services cut in recent years."

State of the District address, live and on TV and computer

Mayor Vince Gray's March 28 State of the District Address, live from Eastern Senior High School (1700 East Capitol St NE) at 6:45 pm, will stream live on Channel 16 on television and via computer.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Results are in: Sources of DC budget information

The results are in and they are not terribly surprising.   DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) is the leading source of DC budget information, followed by Susie's Budget and Policy Corner.   The next most common sources are The Washington Post and Fair Budget Coalition.   All the results are shown below in the graph entitled "Top-ranked Sources of DC Budget Information."

Survey participants were also asked what sources of DC budget information other than those listed (see the graph "Top-ranked Sources of DC Budget Information.") they used.   The results are a mix of media, social media, organizations, and people; the results are shown here:

  • Organizations (CNHED, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Revenue Coalition, Nonprofit Roundtable, Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Think Twice Campaign, Save Our Safety Net of DC)
  • Media (Washington Business Journal, television news)
  • Professionals (community organizers, colleagues and co-workers)
  • Nonprofits, general (action alerts from nonprofits, individual inquiries to nonprofits)
  • Twitter
  • Other (word of mouth,

What is more interesting to me is the number of sources used by each respondent.   The most common number of sources, as is illustrated in the graph entitled "Number of Sources Respondents Use for Budget Information", is four.   Seven respondents, out of a whopping 25, use four sources to learn about budget hearings, details and the process.   The most common sources used by the seven respondents are DCFPI, Susie's Budget and Policy Corner and Fair Budget Coalition.   The Washington Post was the next most-common source.

This interests me more because I am a firm believer in getting as much information from as many and as many different kinds of sources and perspectives as possible.   Certainly, few are able to make time for expanded breadth and depth of DC budget sources, but those who are primary sources could be the conduit for such information.

I think there is plenty of room for more DC budget information sources, whether they be straight journalism sources or sources with a point of view.

Are you kidding me?

The first time I got this "Breaking News from Alert DC" about the March 28 State of the District event, I gave the government a pass.   Why, I'm not sure since that was a few days ago, days before the event.

Not feeling so generous today, I have to ask, "What is so breaking about the news that Mayor Vince Gray is holding his first State of the District address March 28?"   Rest assured, you will see this email multiple times if you subscribe as I do to even a few community Yahoo groups.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Can you hear me now? Council taking action on improving audio

Council Chairman Kwame Brown has recognized those of us who have been complaining about the incredibly poor quality of audio on City Council hearings using the Council's Granicus system:
A quick note about the streaming video on our site: we've heard from many of you about the audio problems. Thank you for contacting us. We are aware of the problem and have been trying to get to the bottom of it, running tests and trying out different speakers, microphones, and other equipment. We sincerely apologize. Our technology team is working hard to resolve this as soon as possible. (From News from DC Council Chairman Brown - March 25, 2011)

I do believe the Council's IT department, led by Chris Warren, is working on the issue.   My issue really is their success in dealing with the audio challenges.   My recommendations?   Keep paying attention and providing feedback to Chris via email.

Have a house party with the Council chair on the FY 2012 budget

Council Chairman Kwame Brown is asking DC residents to invite him into their homes for small gatherings to talk about the FY 2012 budget.   This is a new approach for the City Council.   Time will tell how effective it is.   But you've got to give the chairman credit for trying a new-to-the-Council way of communicating and connecting with residents.   Details are in his latest newsletter and excerpted here:
A Responsible Budget

Next week, the Mayor will deliver his proposed FY12 budget to the Council. We'll then begin the critical task of evaluating the budget, agency by agency, department by department. I have already made it clear that we will not raise taxes on income or property, but we will still have to find a way to pay for all of the essential services the city provides. Unfortunately, there will have to be spending cuts in many areas, but I promise you that we will do this deliberately and responsibly.

We can't do this without you. Please email or call us with your comments, concerns, and input. Or, let me come to you. A number of constituents have invited me into their homes to talk with their neighbors about the budget and answer any questions they might have. If you would like to host a neighborhood meeting with me, you can send an email to Nicole Streeter: (For all other inquiries about the budget, please contact Committee of the Whole:

What prevention events are you holding in April, Child Abuse Prevention Month?

No matter where you work or what you do, there is something you and your organization can do to prevent child abuse and participate in Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Safe Shores, for instance, is co-sponsoring child sexual abuse training sessions with five Councilmembers.

Child and Family Services Agency is collecting events to put on the city's official Child Abuse Prevention Month Calendar.   Email information to Yolanda McPhail-McKinley.   Got questions?   Call Yolanda at (202) 442-6003.

Last day for budget information survey

Today is the last day to take this brief survey to tell me (and others when I share the results on the blog) where you get information about the DC budget process, numbers and the like.   Thanks for taking the time to share!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BBP Author Event: "Democratic Destiny and the District of Columbia"

This free March 27 Busboys & Poets Author Event will feature Democratic Destiny and the District of Columbia:   Federal Politics and Public Policy co-editor Toni Michelle Travis and contributor Darwin Fishman.   This volume critiques the mayors of Washington, DC since 1968 and considers the public policies which have confronted the city since Home Rule.

The book available for purchase at the online Global Exchange store, the Global Exchange store at 5th & K and at Amazon using the link to the left.

The event takes place at 5:00 pm at Busboys & Poets on the corner of 5th and K Sts NW.

The Washington Peace Center does it again

New from the Washington Peace Center is this How to Organize a Fundraising Concert.   This new resource is written by David Rovics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The FY 2012 budget hearing sked has changed, again

The budget hasn't even been released and the hearing schedule keeps changing!   Here (PDF) is latest, dated March 22.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What $270 a month means

DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) and So Others Might Eat (SOME) are using their platforms and talents to share via text and video (see Interim Disability Assistance at Risk: A DCFPI Video) the value of the District's Interim Disability Assistance program.

Take a minute to watch the video and learn from IDA recipients what $270 a month means.

Child Abuse Prevention Month Policy Forum, April 21

Child and Family Services Agency and The Washington Children's Foundation are hosting a policy forum on preventing child abuse and neglect April 21 from 9:00 am - Noon at the National Press Club (529 14th St NW).

The event, part of Child Abuse Prevention Month, will feature experts presenting from national and local perspectives   District policymakers and leaders from both the public and private sectors can engage with a panel of experts to explore:

  • The latest research about effective prevention efforts
  • Innovative practices from across the nation
  • Implications for new local policy directions

Register online here.   Unable to make the event but want to be on the list for future events?   Regret here.

Mayor Gray's weekly presser, March 22

Mayor Gray's weekly press briefing (I refuse, BTW, to call it the City Hall briefing) is being held March 22 from 10:30 - 11:30 am in the JAWB.   On the agenda are a number of items including the recently launched FY 2012 budget survey.

If you missed my thoughts on the budget survey, you may read them here.   DCist's Martin Austermuhle also considers the mayor's budget survey.

Used book sale March 26

The Friends of the Palisades Library is selling used books on the cheap (10 cents - $1 each or fill a bag for $10) March 26 from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm at the Palisades Neighborhood Library (4901 V St NW, corner of MacArthur Blvd and V St NW).   Thousands of books of all types will be for sale and all fiction will be alphabetized and nonfiction categorized for easy browsing.   Proceeds benefit the Palisades branch library.   Questions?   Call (202) 966-2873 or (202) 362-4492.

CFSA seeks contractor to provide transitional services to youth

Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) is seeking to contract for Youth Transitional Living Support Services for youth between the ages of 15-21 and who are transitioning out of the foster care system.

CFSA seeks collaboration and partnership with a youth-focused community based organization to deliver youth empowerment and career development services to include life skills training, educational services and college preparation, and job readiness/job placement.   More information and the official solicitation are online (PDF). (Thanks to reader for pointing out typo on March 22.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Contact info for Ariana Quiñones-Miranda

My bad for not blogging this earlier.   The new contact information for Ariana Quiñones-Miranda, former FOCUS staffer and new COS to DM BB Otero, is:
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Suite 223
Washington, DC 20004
Main Number: (202) 727-7973
Direct Line: (202) 727-1751

Another change made to FY 2012 budget hearing schedule

Another change (or maybe changes) has been made to the FY 2012 budget hearing schedule.   The updated schedule dated March 9 is online here (PDF).

The Mayor's budget survey--thumbs up or down?

On Friday, March 18, Mayor Gray launched a citizen’s survey on the District’s website,, to gather input from residents about their priorities for FY 2012.   The survey also seeks ideas about how the FY 2012 could be balanced.   The short survey will remain online until April 1.

The good news is that Mayor Gray and his budget team officially asked for public input on the budget.   The bad news is the timing of the survey.   If the Gray Administration truly wanted ideas from the public, the survey should have been done in January and February when the results could have been considered, researched, massaged, and included. The survey notice is clear that the survey results "will help shape some final decisions about the budget."   How this is possible is unclear since the the budget timeline, included in the Office of Budget and Planning (OBP) budget instructions, has EOM pencils down March 9 and OBP pencils down March 23.

Doing the survey now feels like the administration is trying to engage the public but not understanding how the process works.   It also feels like a communications decision.   I'm actually not sure about what to take away from this.   Is this amateur hour, a rookie mistake or something else?   I give the mayor a -1.

No matter, take the survey.   It takes but a minute and you never know if your ideas will be included in the mayor's FY 2012 proposed budget.

REMINDER: Where do you get information about the DC budget? survey

Please take this brief survey to tell me (and others when I share the results on the blog) where you get information about the DC budget process, numbers and the like.   The survey closes March 25.   Thanks for taking the time to share!

A new place for coffffeeeeeeee!

Looking for a new place to grab a cup o' joe and have a meeting?   The Bates Area Civic Association writes about Florida Avenue Coffee, a new coffee shop offering coffee, pastries and free wifi.   I'll be stopping by soon, that's for sure.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Executive branch is on FB

If you have visited the DC government's website, in the past two days, you likely will have seen that the executive branch is on Facebook.   That's right, One City is on Facebook.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mayor Gray is on Twitter!

Follow Mayor Gray on Twitter--@mayorvincegray.

CFSA performance oversight hearing witness list

The CFSA performance oversight hearing is today at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber.   The witness list is here (Word, .doc).

Creating solutions to youth violence

Columbia Heights/Shaw Family Support Collaborative is hosting a meeting to brief the community on its new three-year federal grant to reduce youth violence in the city.   But the meeting and the effort go well beyond briefing.   The Collaborative wants to engage others in the effort known as "Creating Solutions Together."

The meeting is March 22 from 9:30 - 10:30 am.   More information is in the event flier (PDF).

New FY 2012 affordable housing advocacy campaign

Looking to get involved in a campaign to assure affordable housing for DC residents this budget season?

Then join with Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development's "Housing for All" Campaign led by campaign organizer Elizabeth Falcon.   The campaign will be fighting for no cuts to housing programs in the FY 2012 budget.   Join the campaign on the CNHED website.   Contact Falcon for more information (202) 745-0902 or via email.

Ward 7 child sexual abuse prevention training rescheduled

The Safe Shores/CM Yvette Alexander-sponsored child sexual abuse prevention training has been rescheduled to April 16.   The flier with all the details is here (PDF); note the first 30 registrants attend for free.

Can't attend the Ward 7 event?   There are others; the entire schedule is here (PDF).

Digging into the latest political mess on WPFW today at 11a

Tune in today from 11:00 am - Noon for WPFW's "DC Politics with Eugene" with Eugene Dewitt Kinlow and Chuck Thies and guests Mike DeBonis from The Washington Post and Jonetta Rose Barras from The Washington Examiner.   The show is billed as one that will "dig into DC politics"--I think there will be smart commentary with a tad of snark thrown in for good measure.

Listen on the radio (89.3FM) or streaming online.   And remember, you can send questions or comments to Kinlow and Thies via Twitter (@DiscussDC) or email.

Troubling: Few are testifying at DOH oversight hearing March 17

The Committee on Health (At-large CM David Catania, chair) is holding a performance oversight hearing on the Department of Health (DOH) March 17 at 10:00 am in Room 412 of the Wilson Building.   The Committee will hear testimony from the following DOH administrations: Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA); Community Health Administration (CHA); HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STDs, and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA); Center for Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (CPPE).

What strikes me as odd (best case) and pathetic and scary (worst case) is that fewer than 20 people will be testifying at the hearing.   Why pathetic and scary?   These administrations comprise nearly 80% of the DOH budget.   Moreover, these administrations are responsible for incredibly important issues and services including nutrition; child, adolescent and school health; substance abuse prevention and treatment; HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; and the more mundane yet equally important policy and planning.

Do you have any sense of why more folks are not testifying at the DOH performance oversight hearing?   Let me know anonymously on Google Docs.   I will report the responses soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

OSSE hearing today at 1:00 pm

State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley is the only government official scheduled to testify before the Committee of the Whole (Council Chairman Kwame Brown, chair) at the performance oversight hearing of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.   The hearing will be held March 16 starting at 1:00 pm in the Council Chamber.

Watch the hearing live on OCT's Channel 13 or via Granicus, the City Council's service.   I find the audio on OCT better.

State of Ward 3 schools, March 17

CM Mary Cheh and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson are hosting the March 17 event "State of the Schools in Ward 3" forum.   The program will feature an expo of Ward 3 Schools at 5:30 pm, and a town hall meeting starting at 6:15 pm where the Chancellor will provide a overview of DCPS, and be able to take questions.   The events are taking place at Alice Deal Middle School (3815 Fort Dr NW)

Public hearing on B19-50 (First Source)

You can watch the March 14 public hearing on B19-50, "District of Columbia Workforce Intermediary Establishment and Reform of First Source and Living Wage Amendment Act of 2011" (PDF) on-demand at OCT.   The public hearing was convened by the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development (CM Michael Brown, chair).   The witness list is here (Word, .doc).

Mayor Gray's weekly presser, March 15

Mayor Gray's regular briefing will be held March 16 from 10:00 - 10:45 am in the JAWB.   According to the schedule, he will announce the city's aggressive Medicaid reimbursement plan, local efforts to help Japan and appointments of agency heads.

World premier of A Community of Gardeners, a documentary about DC

Learn more about how all kinds of folks in the District of Columbia are gardening for fun, sustenance, sense of community, and calm by watching A Community of Gardeners, part of the DC Environmental Film Festival.   The hour-long documentary is being shown twice:   March 24 at 7:00 pm at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (nominal entrance fee) and March 25 at 4:00 pm at THEARC (free entrance).   More information about the film and the showings are online.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where do you get information about the DC budget?

In a quest to learn where folks get their information about the DC budget--the process, analyses, hearing schedules, and so on--I have launched a brief survey.   Please take a moment to take the survey, telling me what sources you use for all your budget info needs; the survey closes March 25.   Thanks for taking the time to share!

DC Public Library needs your input on services, hours, and more!

DC Public Library (DCPL) is planning for the future of library facilities, staffing, hours, and services.   DCPL recently issued the DC Public Library Services and Facilities:   A Framework for Continuing Success Draft Report comprised of the Draft Executive Summary, Draft Recommendations and a ton of appendices.

The work is nowhere near done with the publication of the report.   DCPL is asking residents and other users of the library system to provide feedback on the report and recommendations.   The survey is open through April 4.

Ways we can help DC foster children

CFSA is requesting volunteers to help out the agency's Partners for Kids in Care program.   Volunteers are urgently needed to help with
  • Receiving and distributing donations
  • Sorting clothes and supplies in the Children’s Closet/Donation Center
  • Sorting books on our Children’s Library Shelves

To volunteer, contact Beatrice Williar via email or phone, (202) 727-7101.   This is a perfect opportunity for adults or youth in need of community service hours.

In other CFSA news, they are once again gearing up for prom season.   As pointed out in this Thoughts and Observations.... blog post, you can do some spring cleaning and help out kids in foster care at the same time!

Project Prom is CFSA's Annual Project Prom Collection event.   This year, the collection takes place from April 11 - 15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Child & Family Services Agency (400 6th St SW in the first floor Children’s Donation Center).   Items needed include formal dresses, suits, shoes, jewelry, and accessories.

CFSA's Partners for Kids in Care is also recruiting volunteers for the May 7 Annual Project Prom Boutique Day.   The purpose of this one-day event is to pamper the teens--help them find the right outfit and get a make-over from make-up artists.

Interested in one or both prom volunteer opps?   Contact Beatrice Williar via email or phone, (202) 727-7101.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Witness list for mayor's March 14 education budget hearing

As is to be expected, lots of folks testifying this evening at the mayor's public hearing on the FY 2012 public schools budget.   The event starts at 5:00 pm at Eastern High School (1700 East Capitol St NE).   Don't know all the players?   Use the witness list (Word, .doc) to follow along.

Committee on the Judiciary 3/14 witness list

The Committee on the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, chair) will be busy today, holding performance oversight hearings on nine agencies.   To follow along, check out the witness list (Word, .doc).   The hearing starts at 10:00 am and will be held in Room 412.   Watch the hearing here (be sure to select the correct room).

DHS performance oversight hearing

On March 11, CM Jim Graham convened the public oversight hearing on the Department of Human Services. The video (on demand) of the hearing is worth a watch.   And take a moment to read the CM's opening statement (Word, .doc).

WaPo's Childhood Obesity Summit, March 15

The Washington Post, GEN YOUth Foundation and Fuel Up to Play 60 are sponsoring a summit on childhood obesity March 15 at 9:00 am.   Join the chat online.   To submit questions in advance, use the WaPo web form.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

News and updates from CM Catania and the Committee on Health

  • CM Catania's new Director of Communications and Community Relations:   Brendan Williams-Kief recently joined the At-large member's staff following a stint at WRC-TV as manager of the evening assignment desk.   You can reach Williams-Kief at (202) 724-7772 or via email.
  • The March 11 newsletter (PDF) includes hearings information and community announcements
  • March 4 newsletter (PDF) (my apologies for not posting sooner)

Friday, March 11, 2011

DHS 3/11 performance hearing witness list

Aaaannnnnnnd here is the witness list for the Department of Human Services performance oversight hearing at 10:00 am March 11.   Apologies for not sharing sooner.   Age and forgetfulness catching up with me.

Ward 8 Dems candidate endorsement event, March 19

The Ward Eight Democrats will hold their At-Large Candidates' Endorsement Forum March 19 from Noon - 2:00 pm at Mathews Memorial Church (2632 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave SE).

All Democrat candidates who have been preliminary validated by the Board of Elections and Ethics have been invited with confirmations from (as of March 9):   Sekou Biddle, Dorothy Douglas, Joshua Lopez, Vincent Orange, and Jacque D. Patterson.

WJLA's Sam Ford has been tentatively confirmed as the moderator.

For more information about the forum, contact Kim Bell at via email or (202) 465-1596.

What prevention events are you holding in April, Child Abuse Prevention Month?

No matter where you work or what you do, there is something you and your organization can do to prevent child abuse and participate in Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Safe Shores, for instance, is co-sponsoring child sexual abuse training sessions with five Councilmembers (UPDATED: March 17).

And then there is the play To Kill A Kelpie: A Play Inspired by Stop the Silence on stage in DC April 9 - 11 at the DC Arts Center (2438 18th St NW).   The new and original play by Scottish playwright and actor Matthew McVarish is about two brothers, who, after living with a secret since their boyhood, divulge the truth to each other.   The play and after-show discussion are free and open to the public with advance seating (hint, call now for tickets).   For tickets, contact Jacob Wilkins at (512) 522-6231.

Child and Family Services Agency is collecting events to put on the city's official Child Abuse Prevention Month Calendar.   Email information to Yolanda McPhail-McKinley.   Got questions?   Call Yolanda at (202) 442-6003.

Preventing child sexual abuse is an adult responsibility

Learn how adults can prevent child sexual abuse by taking the one of the evidence-based Stewards of Children training events sponsored by Safe Shores - The DC Children's Advocacy Center and five CMs.   The events are taking place:
  • April 2 in Ward 2 co-sponsored by CMs Jack Evans and Phil Mendelson (Ward 2 flier (PDF))
  • April 2 16 in Ward 7 co-sponsored by CM Yvette Alexander (Ward 7 flier (PDF)) (UPDATED: March 17)
  • April 12 in Ward 1 co-sponsored by CM Jim Graham (Ward 1 flier (PDF))
  • April 19 in Ward 4 co-sponsored by CM Muriel Bowser (Ward 4 flier (PDF))

The first 30 to sign up for each training participate for free.

These events are in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Have you congratulated Kaya Henderson?

As you know, Kaya Henderson is Mayor Gray's choice for Chancellor of DC Public Schools.   Have you taken a moment to send her a note (email or handwritten, mine was the latter) of congratulations?

Results of quick poll on community input in the FY 2012 budget

Not the biggest deal in the world and not a scientific study, that's for sure, but 88% of the 17 folks who took the "Have you been invited to a DC gov-sponsored meeting to give input for the FY 2012 budget?" quick poll reported they had not been invited to such an event.   One respondent had been invited and one respondent had not been invited but had been asked for input.

What does this mean?   Nothing definitive, but here are some thoughts:

  • The promised tool kit/talking points to be prepared by the Mayor's Office on Budget and Finance, were not given to agencies.
  • Some agencies and staff do not have robust lists of advocates or interested parties, thus making it hard to invite the community to a meeting.
  • This is a complete shift from prior administration, where agency/community access and especially messaging were controlled.   It appears that neither the government nor the public have adjusted to this new openness.

I'm not sure what my takeaway is.   But I can tell you what it's not:   That the community had their input restricted; members of the public can, at any time, go to agencies and the mayor's budget office with ideas.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anyone in the nonprofit world coordinating a "One City" event?

On Mayor Gray's March 10 schedule is participation in the Faith-Based/Corporate "One City Roundtable" Partnership meeting.   As described in the sked, religious and business leaders are partnering (with the city?) to increase educational and employment opps for DC residents.

This leads me to wonder whether any in the nonprofit or philanthropic communities have planned a similar event.   There is, after all, a huge difference between contracting with the city and being a partner in change.

Info on health care finance agency public hearing March 10

The Committee on Health (At-large CM David Catania, chair) is holding a FYs 2010 and 2011 performance oversight hearing on the Department of Health Care Finance March 10 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber.   To follow along, read the witness list.

Lesson for the day: The value of meet and greets

In my experience, "meet and greet" events are low-cost, high-return investments. They are most often held at the beginning of a Council Period and mayoral administration.   When held in the John A. Wilson Building, staff can easily drop by, an essential element of their success.

I wanted to learn from current and former City Council staffers their thoughts about meet and greet events.   Seven current and former staffers took the survey; still, the information they provided is useful to all kinds of organizations and businesses.

The takeaways for me:

  1. The relationship with the staffer is central to an effective relationship.
  2. There is great value of the in-person event.   It allows staffers to put a face to a name—and vice versa.
  3. Knowing and respecting the processes, which entity is responsible for what, and the calendar are essential and can if not make or break a relationship, certainly negatively affect it.

For more on this, check out the two-pager, The Value of Meet and Greets (PDF).

For more information about the Planned Parenthood Truth Tour, go to Truth Tour blog.   If you are one of the 1 in 5 American women who has been to Planned Parenthood, raise your hand.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DCRA testimony before CM Alexander March 9

Apologies for the delay in getting this link to the DCRA testimony for today's performance oversight hearing up.

Ariana Quiñones leaves nonprofit land, joins DC government

Effective March 15, Ariana Quiñones will be Chief of Staff to BB Otero, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.   Quiñones comes from FOCUS, Friends of Choice in Urban Schools.

Mayor's weekly press briefing

Just a reminder that Mayor Gray is holding his regular press briefing today at 10:00 am in the JAWB.   The rest of the March briefing schedule is online here in this blog post.

Another candidate forum

The Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force (GACDTF) is hosting a Candidate's Forum March 14 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary School (3560 Warder St NW, auditorium).

The organizers have commitments from:   Sekou Biddle (tentative), Dorothy Douglas, Josh Lopez, Patrick Mara, Alan Page, and Bryan Weaver.

For more information is available from Sylvia Robinson by calling (202) 462-2285 or via email.

Housing and financial literacy fair, April 2

This Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Industrial Bank Housing and Financial Literacy Fair is taking place April 2 from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at Ward 8's Ketchum Elementary School.

Attendees will learn the basics of banking, about the rights of tenants and much more.   More information is in the event flier (PDF).

Budget hearing schedule changes

Some non-child and youth-related changes to the FY 2012 budget hearings schedule have been made.   The updated schedule dated March 4 is online here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Witness list for UDC hearing March 8, 10a

Two government witnesses are testifying at the Committee of the Whole's UDC performance oversight hearing today:   Dr. Allen L. Sessoms, President of the University of the District of Columbia, and Joseph L. Askew, Jr., Chairman of the UDC Board of Trustees.   Tune in today at 10:00 am; you can go to the JAWB or watch online.

Only two days left to take quick poll

There are only two days left to take the quick poll about whether agencies have been having community events to get input for the FY 2012 budget.   The poll is near the top of this blog in the right-hand column.

Budget TA document updated

I've just updated Where to Find Budget-related Documents and Resources (Word, .doc) to reflect Council website changes.   A great resource to keep handy during budget season.

More changes on City Council website (updated March 9 7a)

The IT department at the City Council has been busy.   Some changes to the site include:
  • The FY 2012 budget hearing schedule has been moved.   If you lose this link, don't worry.   UPDATE 3/9 7A: You can get to the schedule from the "Headline News" on the right under the calendar left next to picture/slide show.
  • The performance oversight hearing schedule has moved, too.   UPDATE 3/9 7A: Like the budget hearing sked, you can get to the schedule from the "Headline News" on the right under the calendar left next to picture/slide show.   Perhaps bigger news is that some of the questions and answers are posted on this page.   For now at least, the Q&A link scrolls in "In The Spotlight."

DCEN budget forum event on YouTube

The DC Environmental Network recently held a forum on the FY 2012 budget.   Thankfully,they taped the event and you can watch it on YouTube:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Witness list for Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing, March 7

Here (Word, .doc) is the witness list for the March 7, 9:30 am Committee on Finance and Revenue performance oversight hearing on agencies including the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Tax and Revenue and Office of Revenue Analysis.   You can watch the hearing on Channel 13 or via computer.

Brown bag lunch book review of Beating Heart

The DC Environmental Network is hosting this March 16, Noon - 1:30 pm brown bag lunch book review of the Anna El-Eini novel Beating Heart.

Anna El-Eini, author and former director of the DC Environmental Network, will talk about what it takes to make a difference in the lives of others.   Chris Weiss, DCEN executive director, will moderate.

The event takes place at Global Green USA (1100 15th St NW, 11th Floor).   Register online.   Those unable to attend in person may call in; dial 775-269-3893 and when prompted, enter 399602.

Community news

Lots of news around the community worthy of sharing.   We've got training opportunities, funding changes, public education, and more.
  • ANC 3F has a redesigned website.
  • ANC 3F has a new electronic discussion list on Yahoo Groups.   This new list will be used to distribute ANC 3F-specific notices including agendas, minutes and more.   If you wish to join the list serv, please feel free to sign up online or via email.
  • There is a new political events tweeter in town, @DCPolEvents.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Upcoming At-large candidate forums

March 10, 6:30 pm:   The focus of this At-Large Candidates forum is HIV prevention including sexual abstinence and youth and family health.   The event is being held at 1330 7th St NW.

March 17, 7:00 pm:   This At-large candidate forum is sponsored by the Kalorama Citizens Association and is taking place at at Good Will Baptist Church, 1862 Kalorama Rd NW.   The candidates are:   Sekou Biddle, Tom Brown, Dorothy Douglas, Arkan Haile, Josh Lopez, Patrick Mara, Vincent Orange, Alan Page, Jacques Patterson, and Bryan Weaver.

Intel on the DC budget, March 6

  • Two offices play a role in the budget support act:   OPLA (Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs) and the Mayor's Office on Budget and Finance.   In the latter, Justin Constantino is the lead.
  • The Current Service Funding Level (CSFL) is now expected to be public the week of March 7.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Witness list for 3/4 DCPS oversight hearing

Sorry for the delay in posting the witness list for the Committee of the Whole hearing on DCPS.

Quick poll on the DC budget

Please take a quick poll about the DC budget.   I want to determine if agencies have been having community events to get input for the FY 2012 budget.   The poll is near the top of this blog in the right-hand column.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

DHS has an interim director

Perhaps the most poorly kept news in the city of late is that Deborah Carroll is the interim director of the Department of Human Services.   The mayor has not made the announcement but the DHS org chart reflects the change in leadership.

City Council transparency improvement

Went to the City Council website just now to tune in to Committee on Health public hearing.   I clicked where I usually do and didn't end up at the Granicus page.   Went back to the home page and guess what:   Found that introductions are being posted on the web almost as soon as they are made!   I know, who knew?!

This is an outstanding improvement.   Please take a minute and email Council Chairman Kwame Brown and email Christopher Warren, Chief Information Officer.   Thank them for making this change.

UPDATE 3/4 8:15 am:   Also thank Nyasha Smith, Council secretary, for making the legislation available so quickly.

Info about the March 3 DMH public hearing

The Committee on Health, chaired by At-large CM David Catania, is holding a performance oversight hearing for the Department of Mental Health March 3 at 11:00 am in Room 412 of the JAWB.   If you are not able to make it to the Wilson Building, you can watch the hearing live via computer.

Sixteen More than 15 members of the public are scheduled to testify; DMH director Steve Baron testifies last.   Given the importance of the issue; the links between mental health and violence, child neglect and abuse, job stability, and substance abuse; and the number of individuals and organizations seemingly concerned in the issue, I am struck by the small number of public witnesses.

Community ideas to improve Council communications

In January, I posted a survey to collect your ideas about how the City Council could improve its communications.   The results have been categorized and now published in Results of "What you want from City Council communications" survey (PDF).   The recommendations fall into one of six categories:
  • Push content to users via RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter
  • Use social media (Facebook and Twitter) to listen to residents and answer questions
  • Improvements related to legislation and Council actions
  • CM newsletters
  • Prompt response
  • Miscellaneous improvements in communications with the public

This collection is not enough.   We now have to encourage the City Council to make this improvements.   Should you have any success getting one or more implemented, please let me know via email.   I will blog the successes.

You are busy and I can help ease the burden this budget season

I am currently available to work with your organization on a retainer basis reviewing testimony, talking through advocacy strategies, and more.   The benefit for you is that you get an an experienced budget and policy advocate for a reasonable amount of money.

Learn more about what I can contribute to your work by reading this letter in which I outline my areas of expertise and rates.

Have you congratulated Bill Turque and Valerie Strauss?

You may have read that WaPo's Bill Turque and Valerie Strauss received awards from the Education Writers Association (EWA).   Turque first prize for beat reporting and Strauss second prize for journalism blogging.

The question is, have you congratulated them yet?   It takes all of five minutes if you write a hand-written note like I did or less if you send an email.

I think it's definitely worth the time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

News and events from CFSA

  • April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month:   National estimates are that over 700,000 children are victims of child abuse or neglect each year.   In 2010, over 2,600 children were found to be victims of child abuse and neglect in the District of Columbia.

    Join Child and Family Services Agency and others across the District as they participate in activities designed to raise awareness, educate and inform, and skill-up those who work with children and youth.   Civic associations, schools, faith-based organizations, and communities can make an appreciable difference in the prevention of child abuse.   Some ideas about what you can do are online (Word, .doc).

  • Life After Foster Care: Expectations and Realities:   This first in a series of youth permanency forums organized by CFSA's Office of Youth Empowerment (OYE) will feature young adults who transitioned from the CFSA foster care system and a multi-disciplinary panel adding insight to the discussion from their respective professions.   The event is being held March 16 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at The Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th St NW).   RSVP by Noon March 9 by calling 727-7505.

    Future forums are tentatively scheduled for the months of June, September, and December.

  • CFSA's budget hearing:   The date for the CFSA budget hearing has been changed to April 18.   As of March 1 at 8:00 pm, the City Council's budget hearing schedule did not reflect this change.

Witness list for charter schools hearing March 2

More than 30 public witnesses are scheduled to testify before the Committee of the Whole today at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber according to the witness list (Word, .doc).

3/2 OPEFM hearing witness list

Here is the witness list for the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization public hearing today at 3:00 pm in Room 500 in the JAWB.

I must say I am quite surprised there are only three public witnesses when so many in the community regularly talk about school facilities.

OPLA staff responsibilities

The Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, led by Janene Jackson, now has a full complement of staff.   The preliminary committee assignments are:
  • Committee of the Whole:   John Coombs (education) and Rob Miller (all other issues)
  • Committee on Aging and Community Affairs:   Deborah George
  • Committee on Finance and Revenue:   Rob Miller
  • Committee on Health:   Adam Aljoburi
  • Committee on Human Services:   Adam Aljoburi
  • Committee on the Judiciary:   John Coombs
  • Committee on Public Works and Transportation:   Zachary Weaver
  • Committee on Economic Development:   Rob Miller
  • Committee on Government Operations and the Environment:   Zachary Weaver
  • Committee on Housing and Workforce Development:   John-Paul Hayworth
  • Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation:   Natalie Harris
  • Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs:   John Coombs (UPDATE 3/3 1:00 pm: This committee has been added to the list)

OPLA is in Suite 533 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Office space available on U St NW

CITI is searching for a great tenant for some space that's available on the 1300 block of U St NW.   If you refer someone who ends up signing a lease, CITI is offering $250 as a thank-you for the referral.

The ideal organization is one that's a social mission organization and that would appreciate the great environment that U Street has to offer.   Only 1/2-block from the metro and with innumerable nearby restaurants, it's a great location for an office.

Free webinars in March!

Wild Apricot's list of free webinars for nonprofits is outstanding.   Offerings include fundraising, social media, media relations, board development, capacity building, and more.

BB Otero's email

It is

Staffing Office of DM for Human Support Services

BB Otero, the latest to be appointed deputy mayor, officially started work as Deputy Mayor for Human Support Services February 28.

Because there is no legal authority to create the office in FY 2011, all staff in the office are being funded by agencies in the human services cluster with vacancies.   Not to put too fine a point on this, if a vacancy identified for use by the new DM's office is in Agency A, then Agency A bears the burden for the cost of the FTE through the end of FY 2011.

What remains unclear about this way of staffing and funding this office is whether agencies have any say in which vacancies are used for the office of the DM.   What also remains unclear is how the mayor and his staff, along with agencies, will handle any spending pressures resulting from this imposition, particularly when an agency's revised budget accounts does not anticipate filling particular vacancies.

The mayor's budget office plans to create the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Human Support Services in FY 2012.