Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The DC Operating Budget Explained

If you want to better understand the budget process, this is the workshop for you.   Attend and you will learn:
  • the budget process
  • the roles of the various agencies
  • advocacy intervention points
  • key terms
  • what those darned acronyms stand for
  • where to get a copy of the budget

Cost is $40 per person; fee includes materials and refreshments.   More information is in the event flier (PDF) (and below).   Register here. (UPDATE: Link to flier fixed 1/31, 2p)

Budget update, January 31

  • CAFR presentation:   Mayor Vince Gray and CFO Natwar Gandhi released the FY 2011 audit January 30.   Review the presentation here (PDF).   Watch the press briefing here.
  • CSFL released:   The OCFO released the FY 2013 Current Services Funding Level budget January 27.   The CSFL represents the cost of operating the District government in FY 2013 at FY 2012 service levels (Local funds only) and no new policy decisions.   Doing the same things will cost the city $151 million more in FY 2013 than in FY 2012.

    The bulk of the document contains agency by agency comparisons of FY 2012 and FY 2013 budget numbers.   But the most interesting part is the very end, the general and specific assumptions that built the FY 2013 CSFL.

  • COW CAFR briefing:   The time of the COW's CAFR briefing February 6 has changed to 11:00 am to accommodate the regular pre-legislative meeting press briefing at 10 am.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Make the most of your advocacy efforts during oversight and budget season this year

Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years can help you make the most of the oversight and budget season.

Chuck Bean, Executive Director of Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, says this:

"Communications for DC Advocates" takes the guesswork out of writing testimony and planning events with elected and appointed officials and staff. This guide will surely become a go-to for nonprofits which engage DC government officials to make a difference.

The guide provides basics of and advanced suggestions and tips for advocacy communications.   Buy it here.

Budget update, January 30

  • CAFR release, January 30:   CFO Natwar Gandhi will release the FY 2011 CAFR January 30 at 11:00 am in the Mayor's Press Briefing Room in the JAWB.   If you can't make it to the Wilson Building you can watch online via OCT Channel 16.

    The CAFR will be available on the CFO's website today or tomorrow if the OCFO follows its posting pattern for the report.

  • Committee on Health oversight hearing sked:   The Committee on Health has published their oversight hearing schedule in their January 26 newsletter (PDF).   The newsletter also includes other news.
  • Oversight and budget hearings on DC Council calendar:   The council has added oversight and budget hearings to the main calendar rather than just in the hearing schedule documents.   Be sure to check back frequently as the schedule does change.

    DCFPI's Jenny Reed was one of the advocates recommending this change so be sure to thank her.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The race is on to secure a summer job

Today at 3:15 pm young people ages 14 to 21 will be applying for a job through the 2012 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).   There is currently local funding to support 12,000 in the program.

Young people can access the application by visiting www.summerjobs.dc.gov.   Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis and all applications must be received by February 17 in order to be considered.

SYEP will officially kick off today from 3:15 pm until 12:00 midnight at DOES HQ (4058 Minnesota Ave NE).   Mayor Gray will participate and DOES staff will be on hand all night to assist youth and their families, and to answer any questions.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Budget update, January 26

  • Oversight and budget hearing schedule released:   The DC Council has posted the FYs 2011 and 2012 oversight and FY 2013 budget hearing schedule with the following additional information:   1) the hearings will be added to the main DC Council calendar by COB January 26 and 2) hearings (including times and rooms) may change.

    Note:   The addition of the hearings to the main calendar happened because DCFPI's Jenny Reed and I, among others, asked for it.

  • DCFPI's take on the FY 2012 supplemental:   DCFPI analyst Jenny Reed testified before the Committee of the Whole January 24 about the mayor's FY 2012 supplemental budget plans.   What did DCFPI have to say about the supplemental? Here's some (find Jenny's testimony using the link above):
    Today, the DC Council held a roundtable on Mayor Gray’s proposed supplemental budget for this year. Why are we looking again at this year’s budget? Two reasons: Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi reported $42 million in additional revenue for this year, and certain programs need more money to operate, in what some like to call a "spending pressure."

    DCFPI’s take? Let’s not make rash spending decisions. We’re only four months into our fiscal year. Let’s put the additional money aside until we get a clearer picture of what our spending pressures will be for the entire fiscal year.

  • Committee on the Judiciary's hearings:   The Committee on the Judiciary's regular legislative update (PDF) includes information about the FYs 2011 and 2012 oversight hearings.
  • More from CM Jack Evans on the budget:   Ward 2 CM Jack Evans (chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue) wrote this in his January 19 newsletter:
    Any of you who have heard me speak recently have probably heard me talk about the fact that the District of Columbia is in a better financial position than any other city, county, or state in the country. Our finances remain strong and the development projects in our city are the envy of our neighbors.

    I have the firm belief, however, that we would be doing even better if we had a more straightforward business regulatory structure and took steps to roll back some of the substantial disincentives to those who consider relocating to the District to start a business and raise a family, or who consider moving out of our city when they reach retirement age. Therefore, in our next budget, I am recommending a number of specific proposals that I hope you will support.

    First, our corporate income tax is a tremendous burden at 9.975%, much higher than the 6% Virginia charges and even the 8.25% levied by Maryland. Particularly when times are tight, how can we expect a business to choose to sacrifice an extra 2-4% of their already slim profit for the privilege of doing business in our city? I propose lowering this tax to 6%. Secondly, on a similar note, the District charges a tax of 9.975% on unincorporated businesses, while our neighbors do not. We should phase out this tax entirely.

    Third, our income tax is too high and is based on bad policy. As I have said before, a member of the Council cannot claim to be in favor of small business and also of an increase in the income tax, which falls heavily on many small businesses. I propose to create a more progressive income tax structure by lowering them - those earning above $350,000 would pay 8.5% rather than 8.95%; those earning between $100,000 and $350,000 would pay 8.0% rather than 8.5%; those earning between $40,000 and $100,000 would be placed in a new bracket and pay 7.5% rather than 8%; and those earning between $10,000 and $40,000 would be taxed at 5.5% rather than 6%.

    Fourth, the District made a mistake by decoupling our local estate tax from the federal estate tax. We should eliminate the District's estate tax to encourage our retirees to remain residents of the District, investing in our local economy and contributing to our civic and cultural life.

    Fifth, we need to repeal the wrongheaded tax on formerly tax-free municipal bonds. As predicted, the implementation of this tax appears to be resulting in an administrative nightmare. For example, it is unclear whether taxpayers have enough information to determine whether a share held in an ostensibly grandfathered municipal bond mutual fund nevertheless has become partially taxable as the fund manager executes future trades. This unfortunately may be just the first onslaught of many where the supposed grandfathering provision could be chipped away.

    Sixth, we must sunset the sales tax increase as promised and lower it from 6% back to 5.75%. Part of why I was so skeptical of the deal to grandfather current holdings of municipal bonds while taxing new purchases is that I have been in the government long enough to see promises like this made, and promises broken. The city promised it would sunset the sales tax increase this year, then broke this promise when the city decided it needed the money in order to pass the largest budget in our history. We are only a quarter of the way through fiscal year 2012, and the mayor is already projecting $45 million in government overspending despite having raised every tax on the books. This has to stop.

  • Fair Budget's new organizer:   Janelle Treibitz is back doing organizing around the DC budget, this time for Fair Budget Coalition.   Questions about FBC's campaign or other work?   Email her.

State of the District Address, February 7

Mayor Gray will address the city February 7 at 7:00 pm at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue (600 I Street NW).   Mayor Gray will report on the status of the city and his administration and outline his agenda and priorities for the coming year.

"Reducing Gun Violence: Lessons from Research and Practice", February 22

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy has opened registration for the Center's Fifth Congressional Briefing, "Reducing Gun Violence: Lessons from Research and Practice."   The event takes place February 22 from 10:00 am - 12:15pm at the U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn Building.

The briefing will be led by George Mason University's Dr. Christopher Koper, and will include the top experts in the firearms and crime research field including Anthony Braga, Catherine Gallagher, Jens Ludwig, Ed McGarrell, Glenn Pierce, Daniel Webster, Charles Wellford, and Garen Wintemute.

For more information or to register for this free event, click this link to the event page.   Space is limited so register early.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mayor Gray's January 25 schedule

The Mayor-Council Monthly Breakfast takes place today from 9:30 – 11:00 am.   Learn what is happening by following Mark Segraves, @SegravesWTOP, Patrick Madden, @Patrick_Madden, Liz Farmer, @LizFarmerDC, and Mike DeBonis, @mikedebonis.   (Note: This is a best guess of journos who will be tweeting from the breakfast meeting.)

Mayor Gray's regular biweekly press briefing is today from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm in the Mayor’s Press Briefing Room (Room G-9).   Can't make it down to the JAWB?   Watch online.

Who knew so many WaPo staff were on Facebook?

The Washington Post has made it easy to follow your favorite WaPo staff on Facebook.   Mark Luckie tells us how in the January 19 blog post Subscribe to Washington Post staff on Facebook

Facebook's new "Subscribe" feature allows you to receive updates from FB users without friending them first.   Luckie's post describes how to make this work for you.   So check it out.

What will you contribute to the One City Summit?

Are you prepared to fully participate in and contribute to the One City Summit agenda?   Have you thought about the issues important to you?   Can you identify barriers to better implementation of programs/services?   Have ideas about policy and practice changes that would result in better outcomes for residents, businesses, and the local economy?   What would your prioritize and put on the back burner in terms of the budget?

You can share your answers and address the highlighted issues (to be announced) at the February 11 summit.   Attendees will participate in small group discussions with people from all over the city.

There's no time like the present to register for the Gray Administration's One City Summit February 11 at the Convention Center.   For those with access to a computer, register online.   You can also register using a printed form (English) (PDF) and Spanish printed form (PDF); this is perfect for registering clients, asking folks at community meetings to register, etc.   Fax completed forms to Sheila Bunn at (202) 727-8527.   You can also email the forms, scanned first, obviously, to onecitysummit@dc.gov.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Election update, January 24

  • Straight Up Politics, Ward 5 voter education and engagement effort:   Straight Up Politics is a
    series of candid candidate forums designed to provide residents with a relaxed atmosphere to ask tough and pointed questions that will hopefully make deciding who the new Ward 5 CM is a little easier.

    The forums will be focused on economic development, education and crime.

    The events will take place on Tuesdays and run until the special election (May 15).   The first forum is January 24.   The forum before the special election will be a straw poll.   The schedule for the first forum is on the Rhode Island Insider blog.

  • Do's and Don'ts for Nonprofits in an Election Year:   During this free webinar (January 31 at 2:00 pm),
    the Alliance for Justice will educate you and your organization about what actions are legally permissible during an election year, especially as you plan possible activities and opportunities to lift the anti-poverty frame. You’ll get AFJ’s advice about allowable activities during this election year and practical examples of things your organization can do.
    More info and registration are on the Coalition on Human Needs website.

Nonprofits, this is about you

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is in its final days of collecting comments on the December 16 emergency rules regarding corporate fees (Word, .doc).   And nonprofits, you are included in the emergency and proposed rules.

What are the rules about?   Fees.

This chapter establishes the fees and charges for filings, certifications, and reports submitted to or requested of the Corporations Division of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Do you have something to say about the 31 fees proposed?   If so, the instructions for commenting are in the notice (link above).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Witness list for COW highly effective teacher hearing January 23

Watching the January 23 COW public hearing on B19-0576, "Highly Effective Teacher Incentive Act of 2011"?   Follow along using the witness list (Word, .doc).

Budget update, January 23

Today there are two updates to the January 19 budget update.   The first is DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown's letter (PDF) to Mayor Gray following the release of the December 2011 revenue estimates.   Brown suggested the mayor use a portion of the revenue to bolster the fund balance.

The second update concerns Mayor Gray's FY 2012 supplemental budget.   Today we have the FY 2012 supplemental budget docs:

In other budget news, the Committee on Human Services has shared their oversight and budget hearing schedules.   The oversight hearing sked is here:

  • Child and Family Services Agency oversight hearing, February 10, 11:00 am
  • Department on Disability Services oversight hearing, February 27, 10:00 am
  • Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation oversight hearing, February 27, 1:30 pm
  • Department of Human Services Part I oversight hearing, March 1, 11:00 am
  • Board of Social Work oversight hearing, March 7, 10:00 am
  • Department of Human Services Part II (Adult Protective Services) oversight hearing, March 7, 11:00 am
  • Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services oversight hearing, March 9, 10:00 am

The budget hearing schedule is:

  • Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation budget hearing, March 29, 1:00 pm
  • Child and Family Services Agency budget hearing, April 2, 11:00 am
  • Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services budget hearing, April 4, 11:00 am
  • Department of Human Services budget hearing, April 19, 11:00 am
  • Department on Disability Services budget hearing, April 24, 11:00 am

The final budget news of the day is Mary Levy's Public Education Finance Reform in the District of Columbia: Uniformity, Equity, and Facilities (PDF).   Also take a look at what WaPo's Bill Turque has to say about the Levy report.   Turque has more, this time about charter schools' demand for equitable funding.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Corrected Tomato Soup Cake recipe

I was itching to bake yesterday so decided to make a Tomato Soup Cake using the recipe I blogged in the fall.   Lo and behold, there was a mistake in the recipe; it is now fixed and available here (Word, .doc).

Returning citizens appreciation day

The Office of Returning Citizen Affairs is holding a social event January 28 for returning citizens, support services, and others.   The flier in PDF is here and below.

FAPAC recognizes devotion to children and families

The Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center (FAPAC) 3rd Annual Valentine's Day Dinner is being held February 14 at the Holiday Inn-Georgetown.   Roselyn Williams and Harvey Schweitzer have been chosen to receive the FAPAC’s Caring Heart Award in honor of their lifetimes of service to foster, kinship, and adoptive families.

In addition to the awards presentation, the festive, spirit-filled evening will include music by FAPAC's own talented Marilyn Egerton and ensemble, dancing, and a silent auction.   FAPAC hopes you can join them as they honor Roz and Harvey for their lifetimes of dedication to our children and their families.   Tickets are available on the FAPAC website or by contacting FAPAC's Toni Carr at 269-9441.

Personal note:   FAPAC's recognition of Roz is particularly meaningful to me.   Roz was one of my supervisor's during my first internship at Lutheran Social Services.   Roz challenged me to be and do better professionally and personally.   She was tough and caring and I appreciate this more than she can ever know.   Congrats Roz!

How hungry are DC residents?

Kathryn Baer, author of Poverty & Policy, is a consultant in policy communications.   Her blog is "an effort to share information, foster dialogue and promote action to improve policies that affect homeless and other disadvantaged people."

Baer recently summarized the U.S. Conference of Mayor's annual report Hunger and Homelessness Survey: A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities, A 29-City Survey (PDF).   Baer has given me permission to share her blog post here.

DC Reports 72 Percent of Emergency Food Needs Unmet
The headlined figure is erroneous and other D.C. figures doubtful. Brief explanation in the update at the end.

For the first time in at least four years, the District of Columbia is represented in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual report on hunger and homelessness in America’s cities.

We learn some interesting — and disturbing — things about hunger in the District. We’ve already gotten more detailed (and more accurate) information on local homelessness.*

So here’s about hunger, with some prefatory remarks to put the figures in perspective.

About the Survey
The reported figures reflect the District’s responses to a survey that the Conference distributes to all cities represented on its hunger and homelessness task force.

This year, 29 cities responded — some very large, some quite small. And some very large cities, e.g., Miami and New York City, absent.

I mention this because, as the report acknowledges, the survey results aren’t necessarily representative of conditions nationwide — not even those in the Conference’s 1,139 members.

They do, however, provide some context for what the District reported about needs for emergency food assistance, i.e., requests for take-home foods at local pantries and meals at dining rooms for low-income residents.

These are how the survey measures hunger — another reason we should be cautious about conclusions.

Key Figures
Between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011:

  • Requests for emergency food assistance in the District increased 24%.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Will you improve your advocacy skills this year?

Will you take the time to buy and use Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years this oversight and budget season?

Will Singer, former clerk to the DC Council Committee on Human Services and former budget director for Mayor Adrian Fenty has said this about my advocacy communications guide:

Susie Cambria has written an easy-to-use guide that allows readers to benefit from her experience and insight as an influential advocate. This valuable resource will help new voices speak with persuasive force on public policy issues. Even seasoned insiders will find useful notes and reminders here.

The guide provides basics of and advanced suggestions and tips for advocacy communications.   Buy it here.

Annual Eleanor Holmes Norton Tax & Financial Services Fair, February 25

Budget update, January 19

  • DC Council budget office takes more active role in budget hearings:   Historically, each council committee queries the agencies under their purview in advance of budget hearings.   For the FY 2013 process, the council budget office led by Jen Budoff is itself issuing a standard set of questions to each agency prior to its budget hearing.   Committee staff have participated in the standard list development.   The responses will be shared with CMs and staff and hopefully the public.

    Committees may still ask their own questions before and following agency budget hearings.

  • Committee on Health reaches out:   The Committee on Health (At-large CM David Catania, chair) mentioned FYs 2011 and 2012 oversight in their January 13 committee newsletter (email Email Molly Moulton to be added to the list).
    Committee on Health Oversight
    January marks the beginning of the Council’s Oversight season. As you may know, the Committee on Health has oversight responsibility for the Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Health Care Finance, along with the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, the various Health Professional Boards, and United Medical Center. The Oversight process allows the public and the Committee to ensure our agencies are running smoothly, producing desired results, and managing their funds in a responsible manner.

    Oversight season is your opportunity to communicate to the Committee what is working, what is not working, and what changes can be made to improve health programming in the District. If you have any suggestions for the Committee during Oversight, please reach out to the staff in the coming weeks. Your input is critical to ensuring a successful and productive Oversight season.

  • Disagreement about FY 2012 revenue:   In late December, CFO Natwar Gandhi briefed DC Council chairman Kwame Brown and Mayor Vincent Gray about the latest revenue estimates.   As discussed on the blog January 9, there is a bump in revenue in FY 2012 but less revenue than projected in September 2011 for FYs 2013 - FY 2016.   According to Michael Neibauer's article "Revenue poured in to D.C. in 2011, but flat period coming",
    As for the projected $42.2 million fiscal 2012 surplus, Brown has suggested two possibilities — shift 50 percent of it into the District's fund balance, or set it all aside to offset the projected gap in 2013.

    "Both of these alternatives represent responsible fiscal management tools that will maintain the District's financial strength," the council chairman wrote in a Dec. 21 letter to Gray.

    Mayor Gray wrote back (PDF) and explained why addressing the FY 2012 spending pressures is the responsible and appropriate thing to do.

  • Public roundtable on FY 2012 supplemental:   The Committee of the Whole (DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown, chair) is holding a public roundtable on "Fiscal Year 2012 Revised Budget Request Emergency Adjustment Act of 2012" January 24 at 10:00 am.   The public is encouraged to testify.   The details are in the roundtable notice (PDF).   Jen Budoff has asked the Gray Administration a series of questions in advance of the roundtable.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Have you registered for the One City Summit?

There's no time like the present to register for the Gray Administration's One City Summit February 11 at the Convention Center.   For those with access to a computer, register online.   You can also register using a printed form (PDF); this is perfect for registering clients, asking folks at community meetings to register, etc.   Fax completed forms to Sheila Bunn at (202) 727-8527.   You can also email the forms, scanned first, obviously, to onecitysummit@dc.gov.

And remember to prepare for the summit so you can make the most of it for you, your neighbors, and the mayor.

Are you prepared for oversight hearings?

There is more to the oversight hearings being held in February and March than testifying.   Effective advocacy includes giving committees questions to include in the pre-hearing question submission.   It includes talking with committee staff about current challenges so they understand what the issues are.   It is developing questions for CMs to ask of agencies from the dais.   It is follow-up.

Are you comfortable doing these things?   Do you need help or guidance?   You will find information about pre- and post-hearing activities in Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years.   The guide provides basics of and advanced suggestions and tips for advocacy communications.   Buy it here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Budget update, January 17

The DC Council approved the FYs 2011 and 2012 oversight and FY 2013 budget hearings schedule January 17.   The approved schedule is not the detailed one; that will come in the next week or so.   In the meantime, here are some of the key dates:
  • CAFR released, February 1
  • DC Council briefing on the CAFR, February 6
  • FYs 2011 and 2012 performance oversight hearings, February 8 – March 9
  • DC Council retreat, February 14
  • Mayor Gray transmit proposed budget to DC Council, March 23
  • DC Council briefing on mayor's proposed FY 2013 budget, March 27
  • DC Council FY 2013 budget hearings, March 28 – April 27
  • DC Council recess, April 6 - 14
  • FY 2013 committee mark-ups, April 30 – May 3
  • Vote on BRA and first vote on BSA, May 15
  • Second vote on BSA, June 5

DC Council hearings noticed in January 6 and 13 DCR

Recently noticed hearings and roundtables are:

Need help writing testimony or a statement for the record?   Buy a copy of Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years.

Notices in January 6 and 13 DCR

  • Meeting regarding surplussing Webb and Young Schools:   The Department of General Services is holding a meeting on the disposition of Webb School and Young School January 23 at 6:30 pm.   The meeting takes place at Trinidad Recreation Center (1310 Childress St NE).   The public is invited to testify.   More information is in the notice (Word, .doc).
  • Final rules about the DCPS out-of-boundary lottery:   DC Public Schools issued final rules (Word, .doc) regarding the out-of-boundary lottery process.   Specifically, the rules clarify and standardize the phrase "within a reasonable walking distance."   More information is in the rules.   The rules became effective January 6.

COW and leg mtg January 17

The Committee of the Whole will hold a regular COW meeting January 17 at 10:00 am.   Tune in to hear about hearings scheduled and more.   One item of particular importance is the consideration of the oversight and budget hearing schedule (editorial note: Yipppeeeee!).   The agenda and link to the meeting are online.

Following the COW is the Twenty-Seventh (Additional) Legislative Meeting.   The agenda and link to the meeting are online.

Watch both the COW and leg meeting online.   In my opinion, the best way is using OCT link to Channel 13 live.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Comment on the city's plan to best meet needs of students

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is taking the federal Department of Education up on its invitation to propose a DC-specific way to improve the quality of instruction for students and improve student academic achievement.   The feds' offer is known as ESEA Flexibility.

OSSE is taking its plan on the road and soliciting input for the plan due to the feds in February.   The plan targets schools that don't make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).   And DC did not meet AYP in SY 2009-2010 (PDF) because only 38 of 64 indicators were satisfied in elementary and secondary schools.   OSSE plans to change the city's school accountability system, redefine measurements of school success, and modify how OSSE allocates resources and supports to schools.

Learn more about OSSE's proposed plans in this presentation (PDF) and at a number of community meetings:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Updated Advocacy and Learning Calendar, January 13

A number of events have been added to the Advocacy and Learning Calender; items include:
  • CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds Presents: The Science Base for the Prevention of Injury and Violence, January 17
  • Stop the Shame and Discrimination! A Community Activism Workshop on Stigma, January 21
  • DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative: Supporting Cradle-to-College Success, January 24
  • Hub DC Citizen Circles Winter Kickoff Party, January 24
  • Child and Family Policy Forum, February 9
  • Youth Development's 100 Year Legacy: Lessons to shape future research and practice, February 13

January 13 public hearing on child welfare legislation

The Committee on Human Services (Ward 1 CM Jim Graham, chair) is holding a public hearing on B19-466, "Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Amendment Act of 2011" January 13 at 11:00 am.   The legislation would make the following changes to current law:
  • Not require the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) to make reasonable efforts to reunify or preserve the family if a parent has committed certain crimes against a child or if the parent must register with a sex offender registry;
  • Require health care professionals to notify the CFSA when a child under 12 months of age is diagnosed with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD); and
  • Expand and clarify the definition of neglect to include an infant that has been diagnosed with FASD.   (Language taken from DC Council website.)
Two members of the public are scheduled to testify: Judith Sandalow from Children’s Law Center (her testimony is here in PDF) and Kevin Emmanuel Quick from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).   CFSA's general counsel Lionel Sims, Jr., will be testifying for Child and Family Services Agency.

If you cannot attend the hearing in person, you can watch it online via OCT.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Save the date for Ward 7 Transportation Summit

The Hillcrest Community Civic Association (HCCA) Street, Traffic, and Transportation Committee is sponsoring the Ward 7 Transportation Summit Part II to follow up on the one held in March 2011.   The event is being held February 25 from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm Noon - 2:00 pm at the Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library (3935 Benning Rd NE).   The purpose of the event is to revisit successes and create a transportation agenda for 2012.

The March 2011 event—Ward 7 Transportation Summit and Listening Tour—provided the opportunity and space for transportation advocates in Ward 7 to focus and work together.   Learn more about the event and what was accomplished (see second bullet, starting "In March".)

UPDATED: January 17, 8:20p.

Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity on C-SPAN tonight

Watch "Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity" this evening from 6:30 - 9:00 pm on C-SPAN.   The panel discussion, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the AARP Foundation, will be moderated by Tavis Smiley.   The purposes of the event are to explore ways to restore prosperity in the United States and discuss a to-be-released white paper from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.   The paper examines the "new poor" and how the face of poverty in America has changed.

Panelists include Cornel West, author and professor at Princeton University; Suze Orman, financial advisor and television host; Michael Moore, filmmaker; and Barbara Ehrenriech, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

The conversation will rebroadcast January 16 - 18 on Tavis Smiley on PBS.

Make the most of the One City Summit February 11

Mayor Vince Gray has announced his first citywide summit One City Summit will be held February 11 from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm at Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Pl NW).

Are you prepared to attend and fully participate in the summit?   Before the summit, prepare yourself.   Think and talk about the topics before you arrive; you can do this around the dinner table and in a staff meeting.   No matter where you do it, prepare and encourage others to attend.   A bit more about preparing is in this make the most of the summit flier (PDF).

The overarching goal of the summit is to have a "frank and open conversation about what needs to be done to create Washington, DC as One City."   Summit participants will vote on action items for the coming year, brainstorm ideas about how the government can work more effectively with residents, learn about current efforts to improve the city, and work in small groups to share and discuss ideas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Budget update, January 11

Are you ready for oversight and budget?
The latest news from the DC Council is that the council will vote on the schedule for the FYs 2011 and 2012 performance oversight and FY 2013 budget hearings at the January 17 COW meeting.   Important dates in the process are:
  • February 1: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) released by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.   There is typically a press briefing associated with the release and it is open to the public.   Members of the public generally do not receive a printed copy of the CAFR the day it is released but it is posted on the CFO website, cfo.dc.gov
  • March 23: Mayor Gray transmits his proposed FY 2013 budget to the DC Council.   The date was set by the council in PR19-449, "Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Submission Requirements Resolution of 2011"
  • May 15: First DC Council vote on Budget Request Act and Budget Support Act
  • June 5: Second vote on the Budget Support Act

Remember, Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years is available to help you prepare for the oversight and budget hearings.   The guide includes tips and directions for preparing CMs and staff for hearings, writing and delivering testimony, following up, and much more.

FY 2013 budget intelligence
  • Budget development in context: The Current Services Funding Level CSFL is $150 million greater than the current revenue outlook.
  • "Pencils down": The mayor's budget office is expected to finish the proposed budget by the first week and at the latest, the second week of March.
  • FY 2013 CSFL: The Office on Budget and Planning hopes to publish the Current Services Funding Level in the next week.
  • One City Summit, February 11: Many, including Mayor Gray and senior administration officials, view the summit as an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the FY 2013 budget.
  • Budget briefings: It's expected that the Gray Administration will hold briefings on the proposed budget in each ward as the administration did for the FY 2012 budget.

Be green and honor Martin Luther King, Jr. January 16

Photo from Washington Council of Governments
Be green, get some fresh air, and honor Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 6th Annual Pope Branch Park Clean-up Event January 16 from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm.   This community service project is part of the national day of service, celebrates those who have given to others, and restores and beautifies the Pope Branch tributary of the Anacostia River.

More information is in the event flier (PDF).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mayor Gray's regular press briefing is January 11

Reading is a skill I seem not too be using to well lately.   The press briefing is NOT January 10 but January 11 at 10:00 am.   The correct text should read:
Mayor Vincent Gray's regular biweekly press briefing takes place January 11 immediately following the World Environment Day announcement at 10:00 am at Anne Beers Elementary School (3600 Alabama Ave SE).   The briefing takes place in the library.   (Parking lot entrance on 36th St SE, blue double-door entrance for media.)

Many apologies for any confusion this caused.

Election update, January 10

  • "Being Nonpartisan", the presentation:   Nonprofit Vote's online training presentation Being Nonpartisan is now available online.   The presentation explains the basics of nonpartisan voter engagement work for 501(c)(3)s.
  • Hosting a forum presentation:   Nonprofit Vote's online training presentation Hosting a Candidate Forum is now available online.   The presentation walks nonprofits through the steps of planning and holding a nonpartisan forum.
  • Registering new citizens:   U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services' (USCIS) revised guidelines now allow voter registration at naturalization ceremonies.   Demos has explained what this means for voter registration efforts by nonprofits in "Voter Registration for New Americans".
  • Information from the Board of Elections and Ethics:   DCBOEE shared some valuable information some time ago (as conversation starters at the Thanksgiving table, actually) that is still relevant. The info is:
    *You must be registered with a political party to vote in their primary election.   In April, the so-called "major" parties in the District - Democratic, Republican and D.C. Statehood Green - will select candidates to represent their political party.   No one is actually elected to office until the November election, when candidates of all parties appear on the ballot, along with independent candidates, and everyone votes. You can learn more about the difference between a primary election and a general election and check to see whether you are registered with a political party on our website.

    You have three choices of where to vote in April: at the polls, at your choice of eight early voting sites, or by mail. While the list of sites is not final, the Board expects to open voting locations throughout the week before the election at: Columbia Heights Community Center (Ward 1); One Judiciary Square (Ward 2); Chevy Chase Community Center (Ward 3); Takoma Community Center (Ward 4); Turkey Thicket Recreation Center (Ward 5); King Greenleaf Recreation Center (Ward 6); Dorothy Height/Benning Library (Ward 7); and the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (Ward 8). You can vote at your polling place, at any early voting location, or you can vote by mail.

    You do not need ID to vote in the District of Columbia. You do need to show proof of residence if you register for the first time by mail or during the two weeks before an election. The Board accepts proof of residence for up to ten days after an election. Acceptable proof of residence include a driver’s license, utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck, lease, college dormitory residency verification letter, homeless shelter occupancy statement, or any government document that shows your full name and the address where you live in the District.

  • A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep in 30 Seconds: Confirm Your Voter Registration:   The Board of Elections and Ethics is urging voters to check their registration.   Log onto dcboee.org and click on "Check Your Registration Status."   If you want to vote in the April 3 primary election, be sure you are affiliated with the Democratic, Republican or D.C. Statehood Green party.

Mayor Gray's January 10 press briefing (update: it's January 11)

Reading is a skill I seem not to be using too well lately.   The press briefing is NOT January 10 but January 11 at 10:00 am.   The correct text should read:
Mayor Vincent Gray's regular biweekly press briefing takes place January 11 immediately following the World Environment Day announcement at 10:00 am at Anne Beers Elementary School (3600 Alabama Ave SE).   The briefing takes place in the library.   (Parking lot entrance on 36th St SE, blue double-door entrance for media.)

Mayor Vincent Gray's regular biweekly press briefing takes place January 10 immediately following the World Environment Day announcement at 10:00 am at Anne Beers Elementary School (3600 Alabama Ave SE).   The briefing takes place in the library.   (Parking lot entrance on 36th St SE, blue double-door entrance for media.)

(UPDATED: 1/10, 11:19a)

Learn about how revisions to the DC nonprofit code affect your organization

Regina Hopkins, Assistant Director for Community Economic Development at the DC Bar recently shared the following information.

Information about DC code changes
The District of Columbia requires every nonprofit corporation which operates in D.C. to register with the D.C. government, either when it incorporates or, in the case of a nonprofit incorporated elsewhere, when it first begins operations in D.C. Thereafter, the nonprofit must file a report with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ("DCRA") every two years to remain in good standing.

The D.C. Council recently overhauled the Nonprofit Code, effective January 1, 2012. The new Nonprofit Code makes several changes to the law governing nonprofits, including the biennial report. Under the new Nonprofit Code, nonprofit organizations now have until April 1 to file the report. This is a change from the old law, which required nonprofits to file the form by January 15.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My apologies

So Friday's blog posts, as I'm sure you noticed, were a big fail.   My apologies.   I encourage you to go back and read them; they are now fixed.

Budget update, January 9

  • Revenue in FY 2013:    The December 22 revenue estimate (PDF) and summary (PDF) from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer reported good news for FY 2012:   Nearly $43 million more in revenue than was projected in September 2011.   The same is not true for the projection for FY 2013.    The December 22 estimate reduces revenue for FY 2013 by $46.4 million.

    What is your organization going to do with this information?   One course of action is to talk with the mayor's budget staff about your budget and policy priorities.   Another might be to talk with the appropriate deputy mayor's staff.   No matter what you do, time is of the essence.

  • Jack Evans on the FY 2013 budget:   In his January 6 newsletter, Ward 2 CM Jack Evans presents his priorities for the FY 2013 budget:   Lowering the top tax rate, reducing spending, banking savings, and moving forward with tax and real property commissions.   And a sample of the Ward 2 CMs take on the council's past budget actions:
    We can raise money in the short term by perpetually increasing taxes and fees, as my colleagues prefer to do, but when we create disincentives for new businesses to locate here we do more harm than good down the road.

    Nothing about what Evans wrote is new, but it is early in the year and process.

  • Budget meetings:   The mayor's budget office expects to have all budget review team meetings (BRTs) completed by the end of January.
  • The List, DCFPI-style:  DCFPI started the new year with their own in and out list and it puts others to shame.

    So we read in the Washington Post Style Section that wonks are out, and tradesmen are in. We have a few other beefs with this year’s "The List," so if DCFPI’s wonk-dom is headed out of fashion, we plan on taking a few others out with us. So here’s our version…


    Will 2012 be the year that parents, teachers and anyone else interested in school reform can finally read and understand the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) budget? We hope so, and we’ll be working collaboratively to help bring about needed transparency in this large and important area of our budget. The good news is that DCPS is aware of the public’s desire for more clarity and is working on changing how information is presented in the upcoming FY2013 budget. We’re also eagerly anticipating the recommendations of the Public Education Finance Reform Commission, which is chaired by our own Ed Lazere. The commission is taking on a range of critical issues facing DC’s public education system, including the rules and rationale behind the Uniform Per-Student Funding Formula and its impact on both DCPS and DC public charter schools.


    It’s been six years since DC last outlined a housing blueprint to tackle how to preserve affordable housing for low-income and longtime residents while still welcoming newcomers to our city. This year would be a good time to update our plans. Time is of the essence, given that the District is expected to add over 150,000 new jobs over the next two decades and could need nearly as many new housing units for workers that will fill them. At the same time housing costs continue to soar making it harder for low- and moderate income residents to stay or move into the District.


    It’s always good to know the who, what and why’s of spending our public dollars, right? CFO Info is the CFO’s newest resource for online budget information. And while it is off to a promising start, it could be improved by providing additional spending details that cannot be found in published budget documents—namely, the ability to look at local and federal spending at the 'activity level' over time. This is where most of the programs and services that DC residents use are found.


    Our New Year’s wish for economic development is that the Tax Review Commission will take a comprehensive look at the effectiveness of DC’s "tax expenditures" — including exemptions, deductions, abatements, credits, and rebates — and develop frameworks for determining which should continue, which should be altered, and how and when new ones should be instituted. According to the most recent tax expenditure report by DC CFO Natwar Gandhi, DC currently has more than 100 tax expenditures that cost the city roughly $2 billion in foregone revenue each year.


    Mayor Gray’s One City One Hire is a good start, but this year we need to start tackling how we can best use our resources to help prepare our residents for the jobs that will be available in the future. We plan on working with the executive and legislative branches to review programs like our DC Works! Career Centers to effectively deploy local and federal monies to help our neighbors get and keep jobs.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Start the year off right: Learn something!

A number of events have been added to the Advocacy and Learning Calender; items include:
  • Program Strategies to Improve Housing Stability for Vulnerable Families, January 11
  • Follow-up meeting for the Public Dialogue on Community Needs and Community Spaces, January 11
  • The Politics of Economic Opportunity: Will Growing Poverty Affect Election 2012?, January 17
  • Green Places, Play Spaces, Income, and Race: How Parks and Recreation Can Support Physical Activity among Diverse and Underserved Populations, January 18
  • Five Steps for Engaging and Maintaining Strong Partnerships, February 7

Council Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED) is offering a free five-week advocacy series to improve the skills of those advocating for increased affordable housing.   The workshops take place on Wednesday evenings in January and February and attendance at all is required.   More information in English and Spanish is on the Housing for All Blog (UPDATED: 1/5, 7 pm).

And of course there are the opportunities catalogued by Wild Apricot in their regular monthly list of free nonprofit webinars.   The January 2012 list is here.

Lemony lusciousness

Calling all fans of lemon.   You have got to try the lemony lusciousness known as Susie's Lemon Sour Cream Cake (Word, .doc).   The cake is lemony (duh), moist, and crispy on the sides and top.   Notes: 1) I did not use the glaze and 2) I used parchment paper on the bottom but would add to sides the next time around.   The cake was sticky and a little hard to get out of the tube pan.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yummy and easy granola recipe

In my 14-week effort to eat meat- and dairy-free, I'm on the lookout for yummy recipes.   I found one in this Crunchy Cranberry Granola recipe.   Made some this morning and it is outstanding.   I don't have almond extract so just used the vanilla and replaced cranberries with blueberries.   As for other ingredients, used coconut and walnuts.   (My pantry is lacking as you can see!)

Youth-created films sought for March festival

The 2012 Pendragwn Youth Film Festival is a terrific opportunity for budding filmmakers according to a recent post at Arts for DC Kids.   The arts blog has graciously allowed this repost:
Youth Film Festival Seeks Entries by 11-18 Year Olds
The Pendragwn Film Foundation will hold its second annual Pendragwn Youth Film Festival on March 24, 2012 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Students ages 11 to 18 years old can submit entries for the festival to "make us laugh, make us cry, educate us or give us hope but do it through film."

You may submit any of the following types of films:

  • Documentary
  • Narrative (live action or animated)
  • Music Video
  • Super-short

Films must be between 3 and 5 minutes and the Super-short must be exactly 30 seconds.

The deadline is February 10, 2012.

Get all the rules and FAQs answered here.

See last year’s finalists’ and winners’ films here and below is a highlight video from the 2011 Pendragwn Youth Film Festival: [Videos at Arts for DC Kids.]

Returning citizen legislation to be moved today

At today's legislative meeting, At-large CM Michael Brown will move to remove from the table B19-138.   When that is done, he will move B19-138, "Office of Returning Citizen Affairs and Commission on Re-entry and Returning Citizen Affairs Renaming Act of 2011" ANS (PDF).   Watch this and more via computer.

First legislative meeting of 2012, January 4

The DC Council is holding the first legislative meeting of 2012 January 4 at 10:00 am in the JAWB Council Chamber.   The agenda is online (PDF).

Recap of January 3 leg meeting briefing
Drama surrounded the discussion of the vote on "Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2012" (PDF). (NOTE: This is the version with the amendments made at the December 20, 2011 council session.)   DC WATCH's Dorothy Brizill asked Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser when the community would have access to the ethics bill including amendments approved at the December 20 council session.   The response?   The public will receive it when the mayor receives it to sign it into law.   Council Chairman Kwame Brown jumped in saying that the public would have access to the legislation following circulation among council members January 3.   Here is the emergency declaration (Word, .docx) related to the vote on the legislation.

The more tweeted about item was the bill Council Chairman Kwame Brown is introducing today that would require high school students to take the SAT or ACT and apply to at least one institution of higher learning.   WaPo's Tim Craig summarized the legislation and reactions to it.   The chairman's ed staffer Lisa Raymond jumped in with some additional information.   (Note this Raymond's personal Twitter account.)

You can watch the legislative meeting today at 10:00am via computer.

What are your suggestions for improving taxi service in DC?

Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh—chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation—is encouraging District residents, stakeholders, Virginia and Maryland residents, and others to share ideas on ways to improve the city's cab service.   People can provide input by using this link on CM Cheh's website.

CM Cheh has said "Taxis exist to serve the public", ergo the CM's opportunity for resident and stakeholder input.   The survey is one way to collect information.   Additional input can be made at a formal public hearing on taxi service reform legislation in early 2012.

One of the ways service providers and civic organizations can help improve service is to 1) share information about the survey with clients and members, respectively, and 2) provide opportunities for clients and members to take the online survey.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recap of important end-of-year/first-of-year blog posts

In case you missed some blog posts over the past two weeks, here's a recap of government-related ones:

Legislative meeting media briefing, January 3

DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown has announced regular legislative meeting briefings.   The first briefing takes place January 3 at 10:00 am in Room 412 of the JAWB.

All CMs were invited to attend and participate; only four (Mendelson, Michael A. Brown, Cheh, and Bowser) had confirmed their attendance according to a media release January 2.

Starting in February, the media briefing will take place on the first Monday of each month at a location to be determined.   Briefings will focus only on the major legislative actions to be taken at the next day's legislative meeting.

Items from December 30 DC Register

  • Public hearing on surplus government property:   The Department of General Services has published a notice (Word, .doc) about surplussing JF Cook School and Langston School.   The hearing takes place January 12 at 6:30 pm at Community Academy Public Charter School (1400 1st St NW).   More information is available from Althea O. Holford at 478-2428 or via email.
  • Public hearing on surplus government property:   The Department of General Services has published a notice (Word, .doc) about surplussing Webb School.   The hearing takes place January 19 at 6:30 pm at Trinidad Recreation Center (1310 Childress St NE).   More information is available from Althea O. Holford at 478-2428 or via email.
  • Public comments sought on 14th St corridor plan and strategy:   The Office of Planning has published 14th Street Corridor Vision Plan and Revitalization Strategy (PDF), OP's draft plan for redevelopment opportunities, land use issues, and community development issues.   Comments on the draft are due by February 3.   Details about submitting comments are in the notice (Word, .doc).

    Comments may also be made at the OP-sponsored mayoral hearing on February 2 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at West Education Campus (1338 Farragut St NW).

    Additional information on the draft plan and work done on the project so far is on the project page.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Start the year off right: Learn more about advocacy communications

There are myriad ways to communicate with elected and appointed officials including:
  • Briefing them
  • Meeting with legislative and executive branch staff
  • Facility tours

And what cannot be overrated is the value of nice.

Details about communicating with electeds and appointeds and their staff is contained in Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years.   The guide provides basics of and advanced suggestions and tips for advocacy communications.   Buy it here.

Loren Ganoe leaving Child and Family Services Agency

Loren Ganoe, chief of staff at CFSA, sent around this email last week:
I’m writing to let you know that I’m moving on to a new opportunity. My last day with CFSA will be on January 6, 2012. Since joining the agency in 2007, it has been an honor to work with the many child welfare professionals here at CFSA and in the community who are so dedicated to ensuring the safety, permanence and well-being of the District of Columbia’s most vulnerable children. Thank you for your partnership and support. I wish you the best of luck in the New Year.

Going forward, if you need assistance with CFSA related matters, please contact Yolanda McPhail-McKinley at yolanda.mckinley@dc.gov.