Friday, November 30, 2012

Recap of National Health Blog Post Month on Susie's Budget and Policy Corner

Today is the last day of National Health Blog Post Month.   I've participated, sharing information about children's mental health, map of early childhood resources, healthy hash recipe made with apples, trauma-focused work at CFSA, and the review of God's Hotel.

But there is more to come.   I've got content waiting to be blogged and a few folks who will be guest posting.   So please stay tuned for additional health posts.


DC Medical Marijuana Patients Forum, December 12

The Department of Health, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and ASA's DC chapter are sponsoring the D.C. Medical Marijuana Patients Forum December 12 at 7:30 pm at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle NW).   The purpose of the event and related survey is to answer questions about implementation of the new law.

More information about the forum is on the Safe Access DC website.


Holiday cheer for veterans--handmade cards by DC children

DC resident Sarah Gabriel is collecting handmade holiday cards created by children from across the city to deliver to the residents of DC's Old Soldier's Home/Armed Forces Retirement Home (Old Soldier's Home/Armed Forces Retirement Home (Wikipedia)).   Sarah's message on the subject:
If you know a child, daycare, or school that would be interested in making holiday cards to bring some joy to these individuals who have spent years or a lifetime in service to all of us, please spread the word and help us hand out a card to every retired soldier we can this holiday season.

... The deadline for this small but meaningful way to help our kids experience the joy of giving back in our own backyard is December 15th. If you would like to be involved in the delivery of cards or need more information to make your holiday card brighten the day of a member of our community please send me an email!

Important Tax Commission meeting December 3

Thanks to DCFPI we know why we should care about the DC Tax Revision Commission.   Tell the DC Tax Revision Commission What You Think On Dec. 3rd! explains the importance of the December 3 meeting:
... we wanted to let you know of an important public meeting of the D.C. Tax Revision Commission on December 3rd at 4 pm in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.

This will be your chance to provide comment and input on the commission’s research agenda, which will guide its work and ultimate recommendations to the mayor and DC Council. The proposed research agenda is available on the Commission’s website ( You can also access all materials and resources the Commission has considered and studied—including presentations and reports provided at previous Commission meetings—on the website’s resource page (!documents/cp9p).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The cost of bottled water

Water―clean water―is essential.   But not all water is the same as Annie Leonard explains in "The Story of Bottled Water."   Leonard and her team explain the cost of bottled water in this easy-to-understand video.   Details, including sources, are in the footnoted script (PDF).


Important events sponsored by Miriam's Kitchen

Miriam’s Kitchen is hosting two events in December.   The first is Advocacy Action Hour! on December 7 from 7:30 - 8:30 am in Miriam’s Kitchen Conference Room.   The hour-long conversation will bring you up-to-speed on all things advocacy at Miriam’s Kitchen.   Coffee and treats will be provided.   What you can expect to learn:
  • What chronic homelessness and permanent supportive housing are
  • Why Miriam’s Kitchen does advocacy
  • Miriam’s Kitchen’s advocacy successes and future plans
  • Ways volunteers can get involved in advocacy

The second event, Housing Homeless Veterans: Why Permanent Supportive Housing Matters, takes place December 12 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm at Miriam’s Kitchen (2401 Virginia Ave NW).   The event involves a cross-section of speakers about a hot topic at the local and national levels.   Learn about how vets are being housed in DC, how Miriam’s Kitchen is a part of this initiative, how you can be involved in this effort, and the broader advocacy efforts at Miriam’s Kitchen.   More information is in the event flier.

More information is available by emailing Jean Badalamenti.

Mayor Gray's November 29 sked

Mayor Vince Gray will guest on NewsTalk November 29 at 10:00 am.   Tune in to NewsChannel 8 streaming here:   If you have questions or comments, call (703) 387-1020 or email the show.

Later in the day, the mayor will attend the swearing in ceremony for DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson at JAWB.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chairman Mendelson's swearing in, November 29

At-large CM Phil Mendelson will be sworn in as chairman November 29 from 5:00 – 5:30 pm in Room 502 of the JAWB.

Pennsylvania Ave entrance to JAWB closed

The Pennsylvania Avenue entrance to the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW) is closed until March 1, 2013.   Workers are erecting the District’s Presidential Inaugural viewing stand inside the fenced-in area near the entrance to the building.   In addition, pedestrian traffic is also restricted on the sidewalk.

Enter JAWB through the rear entrance on D St NW (between JAWB and the Reagan Building).

Mayor Gray's November 28 sked

Mayor Vince Gray's regular biweekly presser is being held November 28 from 10:00 - 11:00 am at Hillcrest Recreation Center (3100 Denver St SE).   One agenda item is to offer comments and answer questions about Play DC, a collaborative effort between the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of General Services to improve DC playgrounds.

Meridian Hill neighborhood gets Little Free Library

A Meridian Hill neighborhood resident has set up a Little Free Library in the garden in front of his house at 1312 Florida Ave NW.   DC's first Little Free Library founder Philip Vahab recently wrote this to the community:
The Little Free Library is a fun way for our Meridian Hill Neighborhood community to share books and to promote reading for the four schools in our neighborhood. This will be the first Little Free Library in DC! You can hear more about it on NPR and watch a video on the sites below. So if you want to promote reading and dontate to this great community project, go to and chip in today!

Also from Vahab's email:

The Little Free Library is a movement sweeping communities and neighborhoods across the nation. It's a charming Little house about 2 feet by 2 feet resting on a post and costs $372 including shipping. In this little house are 10-15 books. The concept is simple; you take a book, then you leave a book.

Learn more:

More healthy recipes

Here are more recipes from a loyal blog reader.   Some, like Good-enough-for-guests Green Salad, are here (PDF).   Others are on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website (recipes page).


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Budget update, November 27

On November 14, the DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced "Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Submission Requirements Resolution of 2012" (PDF).   The resolution requires the mayor to submit the FY 2014 proposed budget by March 22, 2013 and include a spreadsheet summary of capital budget (details below).   The latter is a new provision from the FY 2013 budget resolution (PDF).

CLC on children's mental health

The Children's Law Center has called on the District to improve the public mental health system for children, youth, and families in their report Improving the Children's Mental Health System in the District of Columbia (full report and executive summary here).   The report demonstrates the need and offers actions to address the current limitations and gaps.

This is some of what CLC has to say on the subject:

Nationally, 12.4% of children aged 6 to 17 who receive Medicaid have mental health conditions. Yet the District’s public mental health system is only serving—by the Department of Mental Health’s most recent count—5.48% of children in the District. This count includes all children receiving at least one mental health service, without taking into account whether children are receiving the correct treatment or all the services they need to truly improve their health and quality of life. Given that such a large percentage of the District’s children receive Medicaid—61%—the fact that there is such a large gap between the children who need services and those receiving them is particularly worrisome.

Children on Medicaid are legally entitled to a comprehensive range of support including emergency services, inpatient hospital care, outpatient physician visits, prescription medications and rehabilitation services. In addition to all of the services individually listed in the District’s Medicaid State Plan, children have a right to any services that are medically necessary based on the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) provision of federal Medicaid law (which is also referenced in DC’s Medicaid State Plan). However, this legal entitlement can only be fully realized by the District’s children when there is a complete array of services available. To be effective, these services must be high quality and well-coordinated. Providers must be willing to work in the District, and it must be easy for them to accept all forms of DC Medicaid. Recognizing that children live in families and communities, our treatment models must move beyond a child-only focus to more inclusive approaches that involve parents and other caregivers.


Coming of Age Retreat, an event for women, December 1

The Womens Collective is holding the first "Coming of Age Retreat" December 1, 9:30 am - 5:30 pm at The Women's Collective (1331 Rhode Island Ave NE, several blocks from Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail stop on the Red Line).   The goal is to get a dialogue started between mothers and daughters about sexual health and how women can work together to ensure that the current generation and generations to come, are reducing the rate of teen pregnancies and STDs within their communities.   The event is free of charge and guests are encouraged to bring their mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers.

The event will feature a performance by the Young Women's Drumming Empowerment Project.

More information is in the event flier.


Mayor's November 27 sked

Mayor Gray and members of the DC Council have their regular meeting November 27 from 9:00 – 10:00 am at the JAWB.   Follow the tweets of Mark Segraves, @segravesWTOP, Patrick Madden, @Patrick_Madden, Martin Austermuhle, @DCist_martin, Mike DeBonis, @mikedebonis, and Alan Blinder, @alanblinder.

What a great idea!

The Hillcrest Community Civic Association reports having media reps participate in a panel focused on discussing innovating ways for residents to engage the media in neighborhood/community issues.   (From the December 2012 newsletter (PDF)).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advocacy and Learning Calendar, November 26 update

Webinars and events have been added to the Advocacy and Learning Calendar.   There are many more on the calendar than those highlighted here:
  • Meeting on School Closures and DCPS Consolidation Proposal (November 26)
  • Emergency Town Hall Meeting regarding the DCPS proposed closing for Francis-Stevens Educational Campus (November 27)
  • The Fiscal Showdown and What’s at Stake for Struggling Families in Your State (November 28)
  • Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare In-Home Services: The Why and How (November 29)
  • Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church abuse awareness seminar (November 30)
  • 6th Annual Livable, Walkable Awards (December 7)
  • Yarn-bombing Workshop (December 8)

If there are events you think belong on this calendar, email me the information and I will add it.

Forum on November elections and peek at 2013 special election, November 27

The Ward 6 Democrats are holding a special, open to the public, meeting November 27 featuring reporters and media who will
dissect the results from the November 6th city-wide elections and tell us what they think it all means. Plus, they'll provide a sneak peek of the upcoming special election - who's running, what's at stake, and how will it all play out. They'll take your questions and expect a fun and wide-ranging conversation.

Event deets:

Tuesday, November 27, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Eastern Market Metro

More info is available from the Ward 6 Dems via email.

Housing For All Campaign is heading to Ward 5 December 5

The Housing For All Campaign―with Open Arms Housing, Manna Inc, and others from across Ward 5―are getting together December 5 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm at a town hall meeting focusing on the housing needs and opportunities in Ward 5 and across the District.   More information is on the Housing for All blog. (UPDATED 11/26 1P: Date of event corrected)

Recap of some health-related posts for National Health Blog Post Month

As you know, I've been blogging a health item every day for National Health Blog Post Month (#NHBPM).   Highlights since November 12 are:


More from Science Daily, November 26

In the past week or so I've found more interesting summaries in Science Daily.   My favorites are here:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Make a free, anonymous call and help someone with Parkinson's

Wouldn't it be great if you could participate in an important medical study with no poking or prodding?   Well now you can with a three-minute phone call.

The Parkinson's Voice Initiative is collecting voices of those with and without Parkinson's Disease.   Test creator Max Little explains how the voice test works in the TED Talk video below.   But know that all recordings are non-identifiable and no personal information is stored.

The initiative's goal is to gather 10,000 recordings from around the world.   Let's help this project reach its goal.

This was first blogged August 15, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Healthy recipes for diabetics and pre-diabetics

Two great recipes from a loyal blog reader:


Friday, November 23, 2012

World AIDS Day, November 30, at JAWB


Trust gets permanent ED

The board of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation recently appointed Ed Davies permanent executive director of the organization.   Robert Bobb, chair of the board, had this to say:
"Ed brings a long history of working to improve the lives of children and youth in the District," said Robert C. Bobb, chairman of the Trust’s board of directors. "I anticipate that Ed will have an immediate and sustained impact on the human resources and fiscal responsibilities of the Trust as it continues its unrelenting commitment to serving the children of DC through the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, afterschool programs and the Summer Youth Employment Program."

Wards 7 and 8 community conversation, November 27

The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) is holding a community conversation for youth-serving organizations, youth, and advocacy allies in Wards 7 and 8 November 27 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm at the Anacostia Library (1800 Good Hope Rd SE).   Attendees will have an opportunity to network, learn about what others are doing, and talk about the issues you are working to address and those that remain.

Attendees will also identify ways that DCAYA can better support the work of community members (individuals and organizations) particularly regarding FY 2014 budget advocacy.

More information is available from Tommia Hayes, 587-0616 and via email, and in this event flier (PDF).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being thankful for freedom fighters, advocates, and activists

From the Free State Foundation's Randolph J. May's Thanksgiving message:
So, as we celebrate this Thanksgiving, it is worth remembering Ronald Reagan's injunction:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Green is good

The District of Columbia has been recognized for being ahead of the green curve according to the Department of General Services' Facebook post.   Sam Brooks, Associate Director of Sustainability & Energy at DGS has said,
DGS realizes that green buildings aren't just better for the environment -- they're better for the bottom line. From LEED to exploring net-zero, DGS aims to lead by example when it comes to energy efficiency that saves taxpayer dollars, storm water management that creates cleaner rivers and recycling that leaves a minimum impact on the planet.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learn to detect Alzheimers early, November 29

Ryland Epworth United Methodist Church and the Alzheimer's Association are hosting a seminar on the early detection of Alzheimers.   The event takes place November 29 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm at Ryland Epworth UMC (3200 S St SE, near the intersection of Pennsylvania and Branch Aves SE).

See the event flier (PDF) for more information.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kale chips, perfect for Thanksgiving!

My elder daughter made Kale Chips some time back and they rocked.   They are easy and not so bad for you, perfect for Thanksgiving as a snack before the big meal or as a side dish.   So thank you, older daughter for sharing this recipe!


  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Remove the thick stems from the leaves and tear into bite size pieces
  3. Wash and dry the kale
  4. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper
  5. Spread kale on baking sheet. Bake until edges are brown, not burnt 10 - 15 minutes, longer if needed (We let the kale go longer, to a half hour, to get a nice crisp on them)


Cash is (often) king when it comes to helping disaster victims

Listening to "Want To Help Sandy Victims? Send Cash, Not Clothes" on WAMU last week brought back lots of memories from Katrina.   I remember reading an email sharing a message from Mayor Anthony Williams that basically said "give money not stuff."   Unfortunately, that message did not resonate with District residents or some District government agencies.   MPD, for example, opened up the 1D station to accept material goods.   And by goods I mean window air conditioners, clothing, diapers for babies and adults, food, water... you name it, people donated it.

Turns out, what Katrina victims brought to the armory needed were shoes, clothing, housing, medicine, and baby items such as food and strollers.

I'm not sure what happened to all the donated items housed at MPD but I can tell you this: Well meaning people did not heed the guidance from those in the know.   They were not, apparently, interested in what people actually needed.   I'm not quite sure how to address this going forward.   What I do know is that we are slow to learn the lesson shared by NPR:

Lots of people and companies are making donations to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, but food and clothing aren't always the most helpful things. Most charities would prefer money so they can target help to the greatest needs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

DC Council Chairman Mendelson on FY 2013 legislative challenges

DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will speak about the legislative challenges facing the city and even the nation in FY 2013 at the November 27 Federation of Citizens Association of DC meeting.   According to the release, the chairman will likely get audience questions about the
pending fiscal cliff, possible worsening unemployment, likely tax increases, DC post- 'Sandy' public safety readiness, proposed modifications to EMS/Zoning/ABC regulations, Health Insurance Exchange oversight and on-going neighborhood crime.

The meeting takes place from 6:45 - 9:00 pm at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church (2300 Cathedral Ave NW in the church hall).   The church is near the Woodley Park Metrorail stop on the Red Line.


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Do you have recipes for diabetics or pre-diabetics?

I have a friend who is pre-diabetic and I am committed to stop sharing my full-of-sugar treats and replace them with better things.   Do you have good recipes I can 1) eat myself and 2) share with this friend who especially likes sweets?   Just email them to me and I'll share here.


A Drop's Life

This video from DC Water is part of the Clean Rivers Project,

DC Water's ongoing program to reduce combined sewer overflows into the District's waterways - the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek. The Project is a massive infrastructure and support program designed to capture and clean water during heavy rainfalls before it ever reaches our rivers.

Protecting Our District
With the Clean Rivers Project, DC Water will protect the public from possible harmful substances in our wastewater. It is also cleaning up our waterways, by reducing the pollutants that enter our rivers and can be harmful to our wildlife.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Health-related items in November 16 DC Register

The November 16 edition of the DC Register contains three health-related items:
  1. Introduced, B19-1040, "Organ Donors Save Lives Act of 2012"
  2. Introduced, B19-1043, "Controlled Substance, Alcohol Testing, Criminal Background Check and Background Investigation Amendment Act of 2012"
  3. The FY2013 Latino Community Health Grant (Word) is managed by the Office on Latino Affairs (OLA).   OLA is soliciting grant applications from qualified nonprofit community-based health clinics with proven expertise and a history of serving the Latino community in DC.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Another morning must-read, Daybreak Daily

Get local news early by reading WJLA's Daybreak Daily.   The part I like most?   Guest list for NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt.

Gotta try eggnog cake recipes

My obsession with eggnog cake continues and this week I've tried two recipes.   The first, Eggnog Pound Cake is a true pound cake, dense and moist with a crunchy top.   As usual, I baked a bunch of small cakes.   The second cake, Overnight Eggnog Coffee Cake w/ Nog Glaze.   This was also baked in small tins.   I chose not to make the topping or the glaze; I don't think either is needed.

I would make both again and likely will given the amount of eggnog left!

Braised collard greens recipe

Another recipe for National Health Blog Post Month: Braised collard greens from A Veggie Venture.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Virginia Williams Family Resource Center gets new home November 19

From Amber Harding, attorney at Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless:
Starting Monday, November 19, the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center will no longer be open at 920 Rhode Island Ave, NE. It will instead be located at 33 N Street, NE. For shelter, ERAP, or other referrals, please send people to the new address as of Monday.

Many thanks to Harding for sharing this information.

DC Council actions November 15

The COW takes place November 15 at 10:00 am (November 15 draft COW agenda (PDF)).   The leg meeting follows the COW (November 15 measures here).

If you can't make it to the Wilson Building you can watch using the DC Council link.

Add to your calendar: The next leg meeting will be held December 4 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber.

More than 20 adoptions to be finalized November 17

More than 20 adoptions out of foster care will be the highlight of DC's 26th Annual Adoption Day in Court November 17 from 10:00 am - Noon at Moultrie Courthouse (500 Indiana Ave NW, 3rd floor atrium).

Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield, Family Court Presiding Judge Zoe Bush, and 2012 US Olympic Bronze Medalist Reese Hoffa (adopted out of foster care at age 6), will play a key role―though none as important as the children and families―at the event.

From the DC Superior Court announcement:

DC Superior Court and the DC Child and Family Services Agency will co-host their 26th Annual Adoption Day in Court ceremony on Saturday, November 17, 2012. The ceremony is designed to celebrate the joy of adoption and encourage area residents to consider adopting or fostering a child in the District’s public child welfare system. Approximately 120 children in D.C. foster care are awaiting adoptive homes.

Over 20 adoptions will be finalized at this year’s ceremony. Each child and his or her family will be introduced to the audience to come forward as their judge signs the adoption decree...

Those interested in finding out more about becoming an adoptive or foster parent are urged to call 202/671-LOVE, the CFSA hotline for prospective foster and adoptive parents. CFSA volunteers will also be present at the event to talk about fostering and adopting in D.C.

High school student smoking still common in DC

The Great American Smokeout is today, November 15.   And none too soon for young people in the District of Columbia.

While fewer high school students in the District than their peers across the country have ever smoked, 43.1% is still high.   The pattern holds for smoking before the age of 13 and smoking on school property; fewer DC high school students have done these things than other youth nationwide.   DC high school students do reverse the trend when it comes to buying their own cigarettes in a store or gas station.   Fifty percent more DC students do this than their peers across the country.

This and other information is contained in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) maintained by the CDC.   More specific information about US stats related to youth smoking is here.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mayor's November 14 sked

Mayor Gray's regular biweekly presser is being held November 14 from 10:00 - 11:00 am at Kennedy Recreation Center (1401 7th St NW, at the corner of 7th and P Sts).   As part of the regular press event, Mayor Vincent C. Gray will unveil his administration's five-year economic development strategy for the District, a strategy that is designed to bring 100,000 new jobs and $1 billion in new tax revenue.

According to the release,

The Five-Year Economic Development Strategy delivers on the Mayor’s promise to provide a bold, comprehensive plan to guide the District’s economic-development work across multiple agencies. The press briefing will serve as an opportunity for District officials to highlight the plan’s six economy-centered goals for the District and the way officials will allocate resources to meet those goals. The plan is the result of collaboration between a Strategy Advisory Group composed of representatives from the private and public sectors in cooperation with the District’s university community. The strategy will serve as a roadmap for bringing 100,000 new jobs and $1 billion in new tax revenues to the District over the next five years.

Leg meeting media briefing, November 14

On November 14 at 11:00 am, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will hold the regular Legislative Meeting Media Briefing in Room 123 of JAWB.   Mendelson will preview the November 15 COW and Legislative Meeting.   If you can't make it to the Wilson Building you can watch using the DC Council link.

The COW takes place November 15 at 10:00 am (November 15 draft COW agenda (PDF)).   The leg meeting follows the COW draft leg meeting agenda (draft 11/13/12) (PDF).   If you can't make it to the Wilson Building you can watch using the DC Council link.

Community meeting about K2, synthetic marijuana

K2, synthetic marijuana, is the subject of the November 27 roundtable of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's Commission on Black Men and Boys.   The event takes place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (901 G St NW) from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

Attendees at the roundtable will discuss the growing use of synthetic marijuana by young people in the District.   The commission will hear from experts and residents, and, in keeping with its usual custom at community hearings, will ask residents in the audience to offer brief testimony.

Norton established the commission, which is chaired by former D.C. police chief Isaac Fulwood, to provide a thoughtful forum for discussion and problem-solving on some of the most persistent and controversial issues faced by African American men and youth, including drug use, crime, high unemployment, and education deficits.

More information is in the event flier.


Salute to Sylvia Brown

Sherice A. Muhammad, candidate for the ANC 7D-06 seat recently sent this email to the Deanwood Yahoo Group.   I agree completely!
I'm trying to slow my motor now that Election Day is a wrap! I just wanted to say thank you to Commissioner Sylvia C. Brown for her years of hard work and service to the communities of the SMD 7C-04.

She has been on the front line to speak for our community relentlessly and steadfastly. ANC Commissioner is a thankless job and makes you wonder sometimes, "Why am I doing this?" But, I have to say, publicly, thank you Sylvia for all that you have done and attempted to do in speaking for the voiceless.

Best wishes to you in your future endeavors!

Best regards,

Sherice A. Muhammad
ANC 7D-06 Candidate
Friends of SAM (Google +)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Perry Center Open House, November 14

Get regular information about recovery

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Details about signing up to receive the e-letter are below.


Monday, November 12, 2012

And the race for interim At-large CM is on...

The DC Democratic State Committee announced the process (PDF) for filling the vacancy on the DC Council resulting from the election of At-large CM Phil Mendelson as Chair.

At the end of the 30-day process (December 10), the DC Democratic State Committee will appoint an At-Large Councilmember to serve on an interim basis until the outcome of the Special Election is known (the special election is held between 70-174 days of the vacancy).

Follow each step along the way via the DCDSC website.

Blog highlights from week of November 5

Highlights from the blog during the week of November 5 are:

Health-related items in November 9 DC Register

There were two items in the November 9 edition of the DC Register:
  1. Roundtable about use of antipsychotics in children (Word) November 13.   Only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide statements at the roundtable.   Members of the public may submit written testimony which will be made part of the official record.
  2. Health Information Exchange Policy Board meeting (Word), November 14


(UPDATED: 11/12 8:10a)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Speak up and inform DPR about "Play DC"

The Department of Parks and Recreation is holding community meetings in November in order to elicit input about playground improvements across the city.   The meetings follow the October 12 announcement that the city would embark on the "largest playground renovation project" in District history.

"Play DC" is a multi-year effort to rehab 32 DPR playgrounds.

At the community meetings, DPR and Department of General Services staff will present the broad project scope and plans for each project; residents and other stakeholders will have the opportunity to comment.   The meeting schedule is on the DPR website.


Friday, November 9, 2012

DC’s Health Exchange: A Good Deal for Small Businesses

DCFPI's Wes Rivers contributes today's health post, part of National Health Blog Post Month (#NHBPM).
DC has been a leader in health care reform, subscribing to the belief that having healthy residents leads to healthy outcomes in other areas such as school performance and work participation. Recently, the board in charge of local implementation of federal health reform—known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare—made some key decisions about insurance options in DC.

While a few small businesses have expressed concerns about these decisions, the board’s actions may actually improve benefits for small businesses and their employees.

Starting in 2014, the District’s health benefits exchange will be the sole marketplace for health insurance plans purchased by individuals and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Keep in mind, under the Affordable Care Act, these types of small businesses are exempt from the so-called "employer mandate" to provide insurance, but this decision will be good for these businesses and workers for several reasons. First, the exchange combines risk pools, meaning insurers will no longer differentiate between small businesses and individuals when calculating premiums. Also, District regulators will set minimum quality standards for all insurance products sold on the exchange – such as providing an adequate number of physicians and offering plans that meet higher levels of need—so we can all count on an expected level of care.

Some small businesses have questioned whether mandating this level of care may be too limiting and hurt their bottom line, but the concerns often ignore key provisions that also help businesses and their employees. Here’s why the District’s decision is a good move.

Reason #1: Choice for the sake of choice does not necessarily give small businesses and employees better, more affordable health care.
Some small businesses have expressed concern that limiting choice to the exchange and its minimum quality standards will reduce plan options for small employers and raise costs. In reality, the current insurance market provides small businesses with very few choices. The entire purpose of the District’s exchange is to provide individuals and small employers with a robust selection of quality and affordable plans. By making the health exchange the sole marketplace for insurance, insurers will have to play by the same rules and truly compete for consumers. Such competition will lead to more choice and hopefully lower costs. The minimum quality standards should ensure that the choices available to small businesses actually provide essential services and adequate options among doctors and specialists.

Reason #2: Small employers will be able to keep a long-term, trusted insurance plan if they feel it is best for their business and employees.
Even though all new insurance sold must go through the exchange, it is expected that the same types of insurance products that exist today will exist on the exchange. With that said, the Affordable Care Act also allows small businesses to keep or "grandfather" their current plans if they were purchased before March 2010 and do not change premiums or coverage drastically. While businesses can keep true long-term plans, it is expected that many businesses will opt for other plans on the exchange due to incentives or a better deal.

Reason #3: Combining risk pools in the end should keep health insurance affordable.
Early estimates indicate that District small employers will see a slight increase in premiums, perhaps three percent. However, combining risk pools will help stabilize the highly variable year-to-year changes in premium costs, making them more modest and predicable. Moreover, through the first couple of years, most small businesses with fewer than 25 employees will be eligible for tax credits that cover up to 50 percent of their premium costs. This will help tremendously with small business operating expenses.

Overall, the design of the DC health exchange and provisions of the Affordable Care Act should alleviate many of the fears in the small business community. The District kept employers in mind when they designed the exchange: Help small businesses get more for what they pay and ensure plans on the exchange produce a healthier and more productive workforce.

DC revenue, bond rating, and more

According to Reuters November 6, Fitch rates District of Columbia's income tax revs 'AA+':
Fitch Ratings assigns an 'AA+' rating to the following District of Columbia (the district) income tax-secured revenue bonds:
   --$745 million revenue bonds, series 2012C and
   --$30 million revenue refunding bonds, series 2012D.

The series bonds are expected to sell via negotiation Nov. 7, 2012. Series 2012C finances the district's on-going capital plan while series 2012D refunds outstanding revenue bond anticipation notes.

This is good news for the city.

For more information about income tax and other revenues, as well as general economic trends, read October 2012 Review of District of Columbia Economic and Revenue Trends (PDF).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make the call when it's cold--Help the homeless get warm

With November came the beginning of hypothermia season.   It lasts through March 31, longer if weather warrants.   When the temperature or wind chill is 32°F or below, the District issues a Hypothermia Alert.

Hypothermia can be life-threatening.   It happens when a person's internal body temperature is less than 95°F, a little below the normal temp of 98.6°F.

SOME provides additional information.

Thanks to Marina Streznewski for the fabulous idea of programming your mobile phone with the Hypothermia Shelter Hotline number!

Community meeting on the One City Action Plan, November 15

CM-elect Grosso on NewsTalk8 Nov. 8 at 10a

Councilmember-elect David Grosso will guest on NewsTalk November 8 at 10:00 am.   Tune in to NewsChannel 8 streaming here:   If you have questions or comments, call (703) 387-1020 or email the show.

A community in action

Ward 5 resident Ileana Schinder wants to improve the look, feel, and utility of Harry Thomas Sr. Recreation Center (1743 Lincoln Road, NE).   Schinder has created a HTS rec center survey to learn what others in Ward 5 think, especially those who live in Bloomingdale, Eckington, Brookland, LeDroit Park, Shaw, and other areas around the Rec Center.   If you live in the area, you are encouraged to take the survey.

The survey follows up on the homework done by this Ward 5 resident; see documentation of her impressions of the rec center.   This is a great example of the kind of work needed to effect change: documenting the problem.

Spotlight on youth homelessness, November 15

In preparation for the event, take a look at Join Our Advocacy on Behalf of Homeless Young People!, a blog post about homeless youth in the District.   If you are interested in doing more about youth homelessness in the District of Columbia, DCAYA has identified ways to learn and do; check out their webpage about National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

More information is available by contacting Susan at DCAYA, 587-0616 or via email.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Advocacy assistance - Communications for DC Advocates

Are you ready for the rest of this Council Period and the next one starting January 1, 2013?   Communications for DC Advocates: How-to's and lessons learned over 15 years can help.   The guide details how to prepare and deliver testimony and the steps to take to schedule a visit to your organization by elected and appointed officials.

Buy the guide here for only $35 and have important how-to steps to engage elected officials at your fingertips.

Advocacy and Learning Calendar, November 7 update

A number of interesting webinars and events have been added to the Advocacy and Learning Calendar.   There are many more on the calendar than those highlighted here:
  • "Lessons of the Sixties: A History of Local Washington, DC Activism for Peace and Justice from 1960 to Now" (November 11)
  • Telling a Shared Story about Immigration Issues (November 15)
  • Environmental and Climate Justice—A Blueprint for Community Wellbeing (November 17)
  • Environmental Justice and Environmental Health Disparities Symposium (December 1)

If there are events you think belong on this calendar, email me the information and I will add it.

Health items in November 2 DCR

There were three items in the November 2 edition of the DC Register:
  1. Public Oversight Roundtable Notice (Rescheduled) on "The New Park Policy and Programs Division at the Department of Parks and Recreation and the New Park Improvements Capital Project" (Word), November 29
  2. Public Oversight Roundtable Notice (Rescheduled) on "The New Park Policy and Programs Division at the Department of Parks and Recreation and the New Park Improvements Capital Project" (Word), November 29
  3. Notice of the Not-for-Profit Hospital Corporation - Annual Community Board of Directors Meeting (Word), November 8, 2012


Tell your clients: Job event December 5

Be sure to tell your clients about the rescheduled jobs event "21st Century Workforce Development for Youth & Adults."   It is being held December 5 from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm at DOES (4058 Minnesota Ave NE).

The purpose of the event is to share with young people and adults with limited workforce experience insights from industry professionals―insights on practical strategies and considerations for entering and succeeding in different careers.

More information is in this flier (Word).

The event is sponsored by the DC Jobs Council and the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Community forums on arts funding

(UPDATED 11/7 7am; name of DCCAH corrected) The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) is hosting two fora to hear from the community their ideas for the increased FY 2013 funding for the commission.   The forums are being held November 8 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm at UDC (Building 44, Room A05, map here) and November 14 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm at DCCAH (200 I St SE in the conference room; photo ID required to enter the building).

The focus of both events is to discuss the agency's new grant program, the Arts Stabilization Grant (ASG).   ASG is one-time funding to support cultural organizations that have demonstrated a long-term impact within the District of Columbia.   ASG provides general operating funds to arts and humanities organizations whose primary function is exhibition, presentation or training in the arts and humanities.

More information is available from Ebony C. Blanks via email or (202) 724-5613.

DCCAH encourages the community, attending for fora or not, to take a short survey about ASG.


HBX November meetings

The District's Health Benefit Exchange has just announced November meetings―November meetings in PDF and November meetings online.

Sign up for HBX email updates.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Office space available at Ward 1 nonprofit

From The Emergence Community Arts Collective:
Office Space is available for lease at ECAC, 733 Euclid St NW, for a non-profit organization. The building is on Euclid between Georgia and Sherman Avenues near Howard University. The space is 325 square feet (25ft X 13ft) on the second floor of the building. There is space for at least three workstations. There is an elevator lift to the 2nd floor, accessible from the parking lot at the rear of the building. The lease includes access to a full bath, a small non-commercial kitchen and wifi. There is also a large meeting room (seats 40) available for daytime use that can be scheduled hourly. The rent is $900/month + utilities (less than $100 per month). Preference will be given to an established organization willing to commit to a 2-3 year lease. For more information contact Sylvia Robinson at (202) 462-2285 or via email,

Trauma-focused treatment new approach at CFSA

On October 21, 2012, Child and Family Services Agency announced the receipt of a federal grant to make trauma-informed treatment the bedrock of CFSA's work with child victims of abuse and neglect.   CFSA will receive $3.2 million―$640,000 per year for five years.

According to the CFSA announcement,

Trauma-informed treatment has been shown to dramatically speed and improve healing of child victims of abuse and neglect without relying on medications, hospitalizations, or prolonged counseling. Using the latest scientific findings about the effects of trauma on brain development and functioning, trauma-informed treatment focuses not just on the child or youth but also on his or her relationships and surroundings. It looks for triggers in each child’s environment and seeks to minimize them while also teaching the child new ways to feel safe and in control.

This is important, but more important is what we know about abuse and neglect in DC.   Consider, for example, in CY 2011, CFSA substantiated 1,506 incidents of child abuse and neglect.   Of these, 58% were neglect, 34% physical, and 7% sexual.

Mindy Good, CFSA PIO, says this:

By the time children/youth come to the attention of CFSA, they’ve already experienced one or more traumatic events: never knowing where the next meal is coming from, witnessing domestic and/or street violence, being reliant on a parent or caretaker with erratic behavior due to substance abuse or untreated mental illness, being homeless or moving a great deal or both, being left alone or with strangers, being responsible for younger siblings, being severely physically punished and/or molested and fearing what will happen if anyone finds out—and more.

There’s a strain of "common wisdom" that thinks: "If child welfare would just get kids out of those bad homes, they’d be fine." And when child welfare intervenes, the first goal is to stop the abuse/neglect.

But what probably isn’t well recognized is that for child welfare, that’s just the start. Child abuse/neglect leave scars—sometimes physical but nearly always emotional as well. So as soon as child welfare gets a child to safety (keeping in mind that removal may be necessary but is an additional traumatic experience), then the next challenge of healing begins. Child/youth victims are great kids who have been through bad things. As a result, most have strong and often conflicting emotions that they struggle to process—sometimes productively and sometimes destructively.

Trauma-informed treatment will increase the capability of all of us in the system to understand and help these young people come to grips with their feelings, rise above their traumas rather than be defined by them or stuck in them, heal, and move on to broader horizons. Trauma-informed treatment offers methods that are much more effective and far less traumatic than the overused responses of hospitalization and medication.


Highlights from week of October 29

Highlights from the blog during the week of October 29 are:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hash recipe featuring apples from CAFB

Today's National Health Blog Post Month post comes from Capital Area Food Bank.

Just take a look at this Sweet Potato, Apple, Onion Hash―does it not look amazingly good?   And good for you.   According to the food bank,

This Sweet Potato, Apple, Onion Hash is a great way to "Get Your Plate in Shape," as it is filled with orange veggies, fiber, and satisfying flavors that span the sweet and the savory....A versatile recipe, the dish is great with grilled chicken or eggs, tossed into a soup or rolled into a whole grain tortilla.

The recipe features apples, November fruit of the month.   Later this month, you will see recipes for vegetables of the month, one of which is kale!

Picture courtesy of CAFB.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Free webinars in November 2012, listed by Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot's list for November 2012 is heavy on fundraising but also includes sessions about volunteers and social media.   Be sure to take a look and share with others.

COW and leg meetings through year-end 2012

The DC Council's secretary has shared the dates of COWs and Legislative Meetings taking place through the end of the year. The dates are:
  • November 15
  • December 4
  • December 18

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DC Early Childhood Funding and Services: A Visual Resource Map

This post by Soumya Bhat of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute is part of National Health Blog Post Month.
Did you know that DC has more than 30 programs across six city agencies that deliver early childhood education and development services for young children and their families? The DC Fiscal Policy Institute recently released an early childhood resource map (PDF) that offers a snapshot of these programs and their funding levels. To help families better understand what public resources are available to them, this map offers a visual guide to our city’s public investments in programs serving children from birth to age five.

The map highlights what services are offered, the target population for each program, and how much was spent in fiscal year 2011. Readers can quickly find programs by budget cluster or DC agency, and then scan down the program columns for at-a-glance funding and service information. Narrative descriptions are also included that provide more detail on individual programs.

DCFPI hopes the resource map is useful for DC residents and policymakers alike, as we work to increase transparency and coordination between agencies and programs serving children from birth to age five in the District.

Interested in receiving education updates from DCFPI? Sign up on the DCFPI website.

Health-related funding DCFPI includes in the map are:


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review of God's Hotel

A review of God's Hotel by Lissa Muscatine, co-owner of Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. as part of National Health Blog Post Month (#NHBPM):
In God's Hotel (Riverhead, $27.95), her evocative, unvarnished, and brilliant writing debut, doctor and medical historian Victoria Sweet traces her evolution as a medical practitioner caring for society's poorest and most down-trodden. Her experiences as a physician at one of America's last almshouses, along with her studies of pre-modern medicine, challenge us to consider more honestly how the essence of diagnosing, treating, and caring for patients is too often devalued by modern medicine. Told through the stories of her patients, God's Hotel is at once deeply personal, highly entertaining, and above all, important.

Politics & Prose has the book in stock in hardcover and as Google eBook.   Search the title, add to your cart, and voila!


Mayor Gray's November 1 sked

Mayor Vince Gray will join Mark Segraves November 1 from 10:00 - 11:00 am on WTOP for "Ask the Mayor/Ask the Chief."   The focus will be about Hurricane Sandy.   Listen to WTOP live.

DC Council actions, November 1

The DC Council will hold a Committee of the Whole meeting November 1 at 10:00 am.   The DC Council's November 1 leg meeting starts at Noon or soon after the COW ends.   The agendas are packed.   You can watch the two meetings using the council's tool Granicus.

The next leg meeting will be held November 13 at 10:00 am.

Today is the first day of National Health Blog Post Month

Today is the first day of National Health Blog Post Month.   I'm participating and will be blogging about health every day during the month.   Thanks to nonprofits and at least one business, you will have access to a wide variety of information and perspectives about health.

The plan is to blog recipes, information about effective programs, health outcomes for children and health, and public policy and legislative information.   If you are interested in contributing a post, email me.