August 22, 2018

Dear Neighbor,

As students and families go back to school this week, we are reminded of the central importance of education in our city and our society. More than anything, education is the single most critical factor in determining the path one takes in life. That is why this week I have focused intently on education and our schools.

From cutting the ribbon on a newly-modernized MacFarland middle school, to visiting Ward 4 schools with DCPS Chancellor Amanda Alexander to see instruction and learning up-close, to welcoming students back to class all across the Ward, I have valued the opportunity to engage with students and educators of all stripes. Last week, we heard from Chancellor Alexander in aguest letter. In this week’s newsletter, read about efforts to support and strengthen education in the District of Columbia.

Our city’s education system has made enormous strides over the past decade. That is something we must acknowledge and take pride in. But we know that considerable work remains to ensure that we are meeting our commitment to students and that we are giving them the tools they need to succeed in their higher education and career. Having spent considerable time in our schools this week, I am confident that District schools have the talent and resources necessary to continue improving as we remain focused on achieving equity and excellence in our education.


Brandon T. Todd
Councilmember, Ward 4

Guest Letter

Dept. of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs Director:
Melinda M. Bolling

Greetings Ward 4!

I’m Melinda Bolling, director of the Department and Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). It’s my honor to share with you some of the progress being made at our agency during the Bowser Administration.

DCRA has several online tools that can provide information on permits issued and property information. The Data Connect portal allows users to find permits issued throughout the city, but also in their ward. The Property Information Verification System (PIVS) portal allows users to search for information on a specific property by an address or square/lot number (SSL).

There were about 3,930 permits issued in Ward 4 from January to July 2018 which represents a 7.5 percent increase from the same time period in 2017; approximately 3,650 permits were issued last year during the same seven-month period.

Permits provide a glimpse into the economic future of our city. Whether it’s home or school repairs, new signage, solar panel systems, elevators or new restaurants, a permit could offer some insight as to what’s new and exciting in your community. These are just some of the projects that are happening in Ward 4!

With so much activity, there are some who try to go unnoticed and attempt to work outside of our regulations. Therefore, this summer we began our “Illegal Construction Blitz.” Inspection teams, comprised of a lead inspector and staff member, travel pre-determined routes using data analysis of issued permits. Each team identifies and takes action on illegal construction projects and housing code violations.

Any construction in the District of Columbia done without required building permits is illegal and presents a public danger that can hurt people or damage property. The “blitz” is a very proactive tactic that will help us ensure the work being done is legal, safe and within the scope of a permit.

We remain diligent in our pursuit to protect the health and safety of our residents, visitors and businesses.

In January, DCRA successfully earned accreditation for our Building Department from theInternational Accreditation Service (IAS). An IAS Accreditation for Building Departments demonstrates that departments implement best practices for public safety; display competency and meet nationally recognized standards; and enhance the stature of the organization.

This accreditation is a testimony that all the hard work implementing new standards, finding the right people and delivering quality service to our stakeholders has been worthwhile.

As our agency moves forward, there’s more to do. But I am very excited and proud of what we have accomplished. We look forward to sharing with you our progress along the way. 

Melinda M. Bolling
Director, DCRA

Did You Know?

Rhonda Henderson:
Ward 4 Resident Improving Her Community

Rhonda is a DC girl who grew up in Manor Park (where she lives), and graduated from Banneker Academic HS before attending college and graduate school out of the city. She returned to her hometown to become an educator, to advocate for young women and girls in DC, and to strengthen relationships and resources in her community.

Banneker students were required to complete 240 hours of community service to graduate, and it was through this service Rhonda came to understand the power of voice, vision, and action. She volunteered at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) doing the grunt work of stuffing and stamping envelopes for mailers. While she did these mundane tasks, her supervisor would school her and the other high school students on CDF’s latest campaigns for children’s health or juvenile justice reform. It was a phenomenal experience to hop on the metro at Shaw-Howard, and arrive at Union Station to the world of national advocacy. Rhonda firmly believes that with vision and commitment, the District can offer every child a similarly life-shaping opportunity.

Rhonda currently serves as the President of the Manor Park Citizens Association, which is dedicated to making the neighborhood a great place to live, learn and work. For three years, she has mentored a Capital City PCS alum with Capital Partners for Education, an organization led by another amazing Ward 4 resident, Khari Brown. She supports a community of mentors as president of the Mentor Leadership Council. Lastly, Rhonda is a strong supporter for the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, which creates pathways out of poverty for women and girls.

While these community commitments are extremely rewarding, what really gives her life is hanging out with her niece and nephews, (the twins, lovingly known as “Chips and Guac” and older nephew, “the Mack Daddy), attending New Bethel Baptist Church, and punching a heavy bag at the gym.

Week In Review

Councilmember Todd Cuts Ribbon
On Modernized MacFarland Middle School


This Monday Councilmember Todd joined Mayor Bowser, Interim DCPS Chancellor Amanda Alexander, and members of the MacFarland community to celebrate the modernization of MacFarland Middle School in Petworth. The Councilmember was delighted to see this $63 million investment come to fruition, and was extremely impressed with the thoughtfulness and care that was put into designing and constructing this state of the art facility. Councilmember Todd was proud to support the project by ensuring funding remained in place across numerous budget cycles, and enjoyed welcoming students, faculty, and staff to their new world-class school. Go MacFarland Mustangs! 

Councilmember Todd Celebrates
First Day of School Across Ward 4

Councilmember Todd and the Ward 4 Council team have been all across Ward 4 this week welcoming students back to school and giving out complimentary Ward 4 pencils at Lafayette and Powell Elementary Schools, Takoma, Raymond, and Whittier Education Campuses, Roosevelt High School, and Imagine Hope Charter – Lamond Campus. Yesterday, Councilmember Todd joined Interim DCPS Chancellor Amanda Alexander for a tour of Shepherd and Dorothy Heights Elementary Schools, where he had the opportunity to engage with students and teachers in the classroom and discuss needed improvements with school leadership. Councilmember Todd specifically enjoyed watching students learn the PEEL Paragraph Writing method for structuring their writing: Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link.

Mark Your Calendar

Petworth Jazz Project,
Sponsored By Councilmember Todd & Mayor Bowser: Saturday, August 25th, 5:30-8:30 PM, Petworth Rec Center


Come enjoy the last show of the Petworth Jazz Project season on the lawn at the Petworth Rec Center (8th & Taylor St, NW), sponsored by Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd and Mayor Bowser! Janelle Gill (piano) will be our featured artist. Joining Ms. Gill will be Michael Bowie on bass and Quincy Phillips on drums. Opening kids performance featuring Baba Ras D. Crepe Love food truck on site!  Free and on the lawn at 801 Taylor Street NW. Bring a neighbor and tell a friend! RSVP on the facebook event.

Important Announcements

Support Students At Back To School Supply Drives

Do you Scripture Whisper Minitries, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization sponsoring their 1st Virtual Back To School Supply Drive. Please help them collect school supplies and backpacks for students who are working toward achieving academic excellence: Saturday, August 25th from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Drop-off location: 612 Randolph St, NW. If you donate $25.00 or more in financial contributions, your name will be interested in the grand prize drawing to win a $100 visa gift card. To make a financial contribution, visit the drop-off location or Questions? Contact Pastor Cassandra Santos Dryden at 240-230-7311.

“People. Animals. Love” Story Time At Lamond-Riggs Library: Tuesday, August 28th, 7 PM

Join dogs from People Animals Love (P.A.L.) for a special story hour at Lamond-Riggs Library on the fourth Tuesday of each month featuring an opportunity for children to meet and read with dogs. P.A.L. story hours provide a great way for your budding reader to get some reading practice in with an attentive and patient audience. Lamond-Riggs Library is located at 5401 South Dakota Avenue, NE.

For the safety of the children and the dogs, this story hour is for children ages 4 through 12. Children under 9 must be accompanied by an adult. The dates are as follows:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018, 7:00 pm
Tuesday, September 25 2018, 7:00 pm
Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 7:00 pm.

Free Business/Employer Training On Civil Rights Protections: Tuesday, August 28th, 6:30-8:30


Commemorate The First Woman Marine At St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery: August 29th, 1 PM

In 1918 the first women voluntarily joined the Armed Services showing the world their patriotism and courage to face the unknown. Opha May Johnson enlisted for duty on 13 August 1918. That simple oath opened doors for women in the Marine Corps for generations to follow. From secretarial jobs to now serving shoulder to shoulder in the field as Marines.

The Women Marine Association (WMA) is celebrating and honoring Opha May Johnson as the first woman Marine. Opha May is buried in St Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC in the Jacob family plot in an unmarked grave. On August 29,2018 the Women Marines Association will be holding an unveiling of a monument for Opha May at the grave site commemorating 100 years of women serving in the Marine Corps. There will be dedication ceremony commencing at 1pm.

This is one of the many events that are a prelude to the 2018 Women Marines Association Convention and Professional Development Symposium which celebrates the 100th Anniversary of women serving in the Marine Corps. More information on the events surrounding the WMA Convention can found at

PARCC Scores Improve For Third Consecutive Year,
Explore Assessment Results On OSSE’s Website

Last week, Mayor Bowser announced that students in the District continue to gain in educational achievement for the third consecutive year, as measured by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment results for 2018. Compared to 2015, the scores for English Learning Arts are up 8.5% District-wide, and up 7.3% for math. While these improvements are encouraging, considerable work remains to ensure that DC students are on track for college and career readiness.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education has compiled the results into an interactive platform that allows users to explore assessment results at a school level. To view the page, visit

LIHEAP Funding Available To Assist With Paying Energy Bills, Apply By September 30th

The District Department of Energy and Environment assists eligible low-income District households with energy costs associated with heating and cooling through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Eligible households may receive assistance towards their energy bill between $250 and $1,500 as a one-time regular energy assistance benefit. The regular energy assistance benefit is based on household size, total household income, heating source, and type of dwelling.

An emergency energy assistance benefit is available to low-income District residents who are currently disconnected from electric or gas service, or have a depleted supply of home heating oil. Apply by September 30th while funds are still available. To learn more visit:

Ward 4 Council Staff

Brandon T. Todd
(202) 724-8052

Sherryl H. Newman
Chief of Staff 
(o) (202) 724-8052
(c) (202) 215-5455

Jackson Carnes
Director of Constituent Services
(o)(202) 741-5293
(c)(202) 316-9078

Keiko Yoshino
Legislative Director
(o) (202) 724-7774
(c) (202) 717-2782

Faye Caldwell
Special Assistant
(202) 724-6663

Dolly Turner
Deputy Chief of Staff
(o) (202) 654-6406
(c) (202) 412-2024

Gary Johnson
Constituent Service Coordinator
(o)(202) 724-8029
(c) (202) 304-8123

Joshua Fleitman
Director of Communications
(o) (202) 724-8191
(c) 202-294-2506

Manny Geraldo
Senior Legislative Counsel
(o) (202) 724-8035

LaRoya Huff
Deputy Director of Constituent Services
(o) (202) 724-8106
(c) (202) 368-2518
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Office of Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon T.Todd
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