Yesterday, the Council held its first Legislative Meeting of Council Period 23. With the new year comes new opportunities to advance smart and innovative policies that address real issues facing the District. After working closely with education advocates, touring every Ward 4 public school, and engaging with students, parents, teachers, and administrators, I have crafted and introduced three bills that are aimed at improving quality, access, and innovation in the District’s education system.
Everywhere I go across Ward 4 and the District, parents tell me that they want more options for dual language immersion, because they are consistently frustrated by long wait-lists and limited availability. That is why I introduced the Dual Language Immersion Accelerator Program Amendment Act of 2019. This legislation would add eight dual language programs to the 19 currently offered in the District. These additional programs would be available for parents to choose from in the December 2019 My School DC Lottery for the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, the bill requires the Mayor to create a road-map to triple the number of dual language immersion seats available by 2025. States such as Utah, Delaware, California, and North Carolina, and cities like New York and Portland have already implemented similar initiatives. We live in a globalized information age, where there are tremendous opportunities for those who can analyze, collaborate, and communicate in a variety of languages. Investments in dual language immersion programs serve not only as workforce development, but also to boost critical skills such as cultural competency, reading, writing, and cognition.
As the economy increasingly demands more advanced education from the workforce, our government must expand access to higher education to bring new opportunity to the next generation. That is why I also introduced the District Promise Scholarship Program Amendment Act of 2019, which would create a scholarship that offers free community college tuition for eligible students of the University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC). Every student in the District deserves a quality education and a chance at earning a college degree, no matter their financial background, and this bill would help the District meet this obligation for our residents.
During my tour of every Ward 4 public school, I was struck by a recurring theme: the lack of funding for technology upgrades and applications. To address this, I introduced the Classroom Innovation Grant Program Act of 2019. This legislation would establish a grant program administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education that expands access to technology and enhances elementary students’ classroom learning experience. The grant program would provide non-taxable grants to DC public and public charter elementary schools to develop teacher training modules, better integrate technology into education, and create an online, digital curriculum.
I thank everyone who helped advocate for these bills and look forward to seeing them through the legislative process as we continue to focus on fostering quality, access, innovation, and equity in our schools.
Brandon T. Todd
Councilmember, Ward 4
On Tuesday, January 8th, the Council met in room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building for their regularly scheduled Legislative Meeting. Councilmember Todd introduced 3 bills at the Legislative Meeting:
The Committee of the Whole will have its next meeting on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 10:00 AM in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Thursday, January 31, 2019, 10:00 AM, Room 412 JAWB
The Committee of the Whole & the Committee on Education will hold a Public Oversight Hearing on Improving School Attendance: Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism, and the Implementation of Reform Initiatives.
Monday, Councilmember Todd was proud to swear-in the new Commissioner for ANC 4B07, Geoff Bromaghim. Councilmember Todd understands the importance of our Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners’ work. They are on the front lines of our communities, ensuring that our government works at the local level, and that all members of the community feel they have an opportunity to participate in the process and make their voices heard. Councilmember Todd congratulated Commissioner Bromaghim on his election, thanked him for his service to Ward 4 and the District of Columbia, and looks forward to working with them to make progress on a variety of fronts.
Councilmember Todd Provides Comprehensive Public Safety Update,
Remains Focused On Reducing Crime
Councilmember Todd issued this comprehensive public safety update for Ward 4 in light of recent homicides:
January 7, 2019
I am writing to you under what I wish it were under better circumstances. Last night, our Petworth community experienced a homicide on the 800 block of Varnum Street, NW. And last week, on New Years Day, a shooting occurred on the 100 block of Kennedy Street, NW.
I share your concern and outrage at the brazenness and brutality of these recent shootings. They strike at the heart of our sense of safety, which is absolutely unacceptable. The most important part of my job is working with the community, law enforcement, and other components of our government to ensure that everyone feels safe. It’s central to the high quality of life that people come to Ward 4 to enjoy.
A few specific updates to share on these incidents:
A suspect is in custody in relation to the Kennedy Street shooting, and the victim, Alex Morse, remains in critical condition. I was on-scene with Chief Newsham and Fourth District Commander Griffin on New Year’s Day and have shared my thoughts and prayers with the Morse family.
My office has been on-scene on the 800 block of Varnum St, NW. MPD has shared this information regarding last night’s homicide, which remains under investigation:
“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch are investigating a homicide that occurred on Sunday, January 6, 2019, in the 800 block of Varnum Street, Northwest.
At approximately 10:54 pm, members of the Fourth District responded to the listed location for the report of the sounds of gunshots. Upon arrival, officers discovered an adult male victim suffering from gunshot wounds. DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victim to an area hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries. After all life-saving efforts failed, the victim was pronounced dead.
The decedent has been identified as 28-year-old James Lamont Stewart of Capitol Heights, MD.
The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by sending a text message to 50411.”
I have been in constant communication with Commander Griffin and Chief Newsham. I have asked them for additional patrols in these areas, and they have been extremely responsive. The full resources of the Metropolitan Police Department are out to deter criminal activity and bring to justice those who attacked our sense of safety and our entire community.
The common denominator in many of these violent incidents is the widespread availability of illegal guns. While the District has some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation, illegal weapons and their frequent usage in violent crimes is a challenge that we continue to confront. MPD’s gun recovery units are working around the clock to find and remove dangerous illegal guns from our streets. In 2018, MPD recovered 163 illegal guns in the Fourth District alone. This critically important work will continue unabated.
Additionally, knowing that we cannot merely arrest our way to a safer community, I am working closely with the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE), which takes a public health approach to safety. ONSE has deployed violence interrupters to Kennedy Street and I will continue to push for additional ONSE resources in Ward 4 so that we can work towards addressing the root causes of violence in our communities.
While our government agencies are working diligently to improve public safety, we also rely on our residents to serve as eyes and ears on the ground. You can help our efforts:
Call 911 whenever and wherever you see anything remotely suspicious. Please don’t worry about tying up the 911 line – they have plenty of operators. Calling 911 not only helps mobilize patrols, but It establishes a data record of crime trends that helps inform long-term strategy.
Participate in the Private Security Camera Incentive Program. The District will give you a rebate for installing outward-facing security cameras, and this footage can be invaluable in making arrests. I helped secure $500,000 in funding for this year’s budget so please do take advantage if you haven’t yet. Learn more at https://ovsjg.dc.gov/service/private-security-camera-system-incentive-program
I will continue to stay in close contact with MPD, ONSE, our ANCs, and other neighborhood stakeholders as we all work together to make our community safer.
While these terrible incidents still occur too often, in so many ways, our community is taking positive strides to curb these acts of senseless violence. We must continue this work, together. The safety of our residents is paramount and my number one priority; and I will not cease these efforts until we reach all-encompassing solutions.
Thank you again for your partnership in this important effort. If I can ever be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me or a member of my constituent services team:
Councilmember Todd Hosts Office Hours
In The Ward In Chevy Chase & Takoma
Councilmember Todd invites you to mark your calendar for two upcoming office hours events in the Chevy Chase and Takoma neighborhoods:
Chevy Chase: Friday, January 24th, 8:00 – 9:30 AM, Location TBD
Takoma: Monday, January 28th, 8:00 – 9:30 AM, Starbucks (232 Carroll St NW)
This is an excellent opportunity for residents to sit down one-on-one with the Councilmember for up to 10 minutes to discuss important issues in Ward 4 and the District of Columbia. Residents will be seen on a first come, first served basis, and are welcome to discuss any issues important to them and their neighbors. If you have questions, please contact Jackson Carnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 724-8052.
District Implements New Traffic Safety Measures
To Advance Vision Zero
The District Government has announced a suite of new policies and strategies to improve safety in light of increasing traffic fatalities. Councilmember Todd is fully supportive of these efforts. Below is an overview:
Left Turn Hardening
The District Dept. of Transportation (DDOT), has installed new roadway infrastructure designed to reduce motorists’ speed and prevent cutting across crosswalks and lanes of traffic while making left turns at five intersections across the District (7th St & T St NW; 9th St & M St NW; 11th St & I St SE; 14th St & Columbia Rd NW; and 13th St & I St NW). DDOT will install similar infrastructure at a total of 85 intersections over the next two years.
No Turn On Red
Starting in February, DDOT will begin installing no right turn on red signs at approximately 100 signalized intersections across the District. All signs are expected to be installed by the end of July 2019. A complete list of intersections where right turns will be prohibited is available here. Intersections were identified based on crash history, level of pedestrian activity, and other factors and criteria identified in the federally mandated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and the District of Columbia Municipal Regulation, DCMR §18-4013.
A Notice of Intent (NOI) for the prohibition of right turn on red was posted on December 20, 2018. All comments must be filed in writing by Tuesday, February 5, 2019 with the District Department of Transportation, Transportation Operations Administration at 55 M Street, SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. If you would like to check the status of this Notice of lntent (NOI), please visit DDOT’s website at: https://ddot.dc.gov/service/ddot-notice-intent
Lower Speed Limits & Tougher Fines
The following went into effect on January 1, 2019:
Unless otherwise signed, all roadways adjacent to schools, youth facilities will have a 15 MPH speed limit from 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Unless otherwise signed, all roadways adjacent to recreation facilities, playgrounds, pools, athletic fields, and senior centers will have a 15 MPH speed limit from 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM
A three point penalty and a $500 fine will be issued for drivers who overtake a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian.
Drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 mph face a $500 fine, up from $300.
Rolling through a no-right-turn-on-red intersection face a $100 fine, up from $50.
Speeding 30 MPH in excess of the speed limit is a criminal offense, and speeding 26 MPH in excess of the speed limit will carry additional fines on highways and typical roadways.
Additionally, DDOT is studying the establishment of 20 MPH “slow zones” and “pedestrian-only” zones in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
Councilmember Todd is extremely disappointed in the continued partial shutdown of the Federal Government, and he is concerned about the significant impact on furloughed Federal workers and contractors. He shares these resources to assist:
If you’re a federal employee and you’re not working because of the shutdown, you can apply for unemployment benefits through the D.C. Department of Employment Services, which is running on extended hours, to 6:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. To find how much of a benefit you’re entitled to, click here. The Office of Personnel Management also has a handy FAQ and resource page for just this occasion.
Pepco is reminding customers in need of utility assistance that they can apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides grants based on a household’s income size, type of fuel, and type of dwelling. D.C. residents can apply online though the Department of Energy and the Environment. Also available for D.C. residents: the Utility Discount Program (UDP), which assists eligible D.C. residents with utility costs up to $475 annually, or the Greater Washington Urban League, which provides up to $500 in assistance to eligible customers facing disconnection. Washington Gas said federal employees affected by the shutdown who want to make arrangements should call customer service representatives at 1-844-WASHGAS (844-927-4427) to discuss their individual situations.
K2 Emergency Alert, Resources Available To Help
District agencies are alerting residents to a potentially fatal batch of K2. Smoking or ingesting K2 or Spice may lead to overdose or death. K2, also known as “Spice”, is a dangerous synthetic drug that is often packaged as potpourri or incense. If you see signs of an overdose, call 911. Overdose signs include collapse, unconsciousness, vomiting, and physical aggression.Resources to help are available:
Seek substance use disorder treatment: Call the Assessment and Referral Center (The ARC) at 202-727-8473
Get connected to behavioral health services: Call the 24/7 Access HelpLine at 1-888-793-4357
Contact an outreach worker: 202-442-4634 (DHS) or 202-673-9124 (DBH)
Requests are being accepted NOW for Spring 2019!
The Spring 2019 Permits Window is now open and your application(s) for field/gym/court/pool space needs to be submitted before the window closes on January 13th, 2019.
Answer request questions and continue to process request
Please be advised:
~ The DPR Spring season runs from 3/16 to 6/16.
~ If approved, payment is due February 15th
~ No requests will be accepted after January 13th
~ All available space will be open for purchase to the public on a first come first serve basis on February 15th
~ Full fee schedule is listed online at https://dpr.dc.gov/page/fee-schedule
The Parks at Walter Reed:
Seeking Parents For Focus Group TONIGHT & 90-Day Look Ahead
Calling All Parents! Are you a parent of young children (ages 0-12) and interested in giving feedback on family-friendly recreational activities and design at The Parks? The Parks at Walter Reed development team wants to hear from you! Please join us for a focus group designed to solicit your ideas for family-friendly recreational activities and design across the campus. TONIGHT, Wednesday, January 9th, from 6:30 – 8:30 PM, at DC International School (1400 Main Drive, NW). Please enter through the school’s back entrance along Aspen Street NW. Parking will be available in the rear parking lot at the intersection of Aspen Street NW and 14th Street NW. Food and drink will be provided.
RSVP at: https://www.paperlesspost.com/flyer/go/7oznXjRi9d0b0RhZk2Gz
ALSO: The Parks at Walter Reed 90 Day Look Ahead has been updated and posted at the site. Click here to download a PDF version of the update.
East Rock Creek Village Open House: Sunday, January 13, 3 – 5 PM
Learn more about how to enhance your quality of life or that of your loved one or neighbor! Come to an Open House for conversation and light refreshments:
Sunday, January 13 — 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the home of an East Rock Creek Village board member at 6706 5th St NW, close to the corner of Aspen St.
East Rock Creek Village is a nonprofit organization in upper Ward 4 committed to helping our neighbors (age 50 or older) age in place. We are a neighbor-to-neighbor network with volunteers providing services such as transportation, running errands and doing tasks around the house plus social and educational programs and activities.
Everyone is welcome to attend. Come and bring your neighbor! Or let us know of someone who might be interested so that we can invite them personally.