Comment

Grosso Responds to Police Killings in Baton Rouge

For Immediate Release: 
July 18, 2016

Contact: Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso Responds to Police Killings in Baton Rouge

Washington, D.C. – In response to yesterday’s tragic killings of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) released the following statement:

“I am appalled and deeply saddened by yesterday’s killings of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  My heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed. These cruel attacks against law enforcement underscore the urgency we have as a nation, and locally as a community, to commit to nonviolence.

“Last week, I released a statement in response to the recent killings that we saw in St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas. Lives were lost – police officers and civilians. These killings – all killings – must stop. But the killings will not end without bold leadership.

“There is too much hostility in every corner of the globe and we as community leaders must stand against it. President Obama has called on our nation to temper our words and open our hearts.  As government officials – elected leaders, law enforcement officers, agency heads, and school principals – we must be the first to follow this call and commit to nonviolence. 

“I ask that D.C. government leaders commit to nonviolence to help our communities channel our collective grief and frustration into just and peaceful resolution of conflict in our homes, neighborhoods, and schools. It starts by opening our hearts, recognizing each person’s humanity, and treating each other with dignity.”

###

Comment

Comment

Birth Certificate Fee Waiver for Homeless Individuals Included in Budget

Over the past year, Councilmember Grosso has been working to make it easier for D.C. residents to get access to identity documents, including birth certificates, identity cards, and driver’s licenses.

These documents are critical to modern daily life and Grosso began to learn in 2015 from advocates about the challenges that many residents face in obtaining them. Since then he has worked with his colleagues and groups like Bread for the City, Miriam’s Kitchen and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless to tackle these issues.

Grosso introduced legislation to waive fees for various identity documents for low-income residents, worked with the Department of Human Services and Department of Motor Vehicles to help homeless residents get IDs more easily, and co-introduced legislation to make driver’s licenses more accessible to undocumented immigrants and low-income residents.

The latest victory in these efforts happened during the budget process. Grosso was able to secure language in the budget to waive the fee for copies of birth certificates for residents who are homeless.

The Department of Health will implement this policy starting October 1, 2016, the start of the new fiscal year.  Until recently, some social service providers in the city would help cover these costs, but they are no longer providing that service.

A birth certificate is critical to helping an individual exit homelessness, yet is easy to lose during the course of unfortunate events that someone who is homeless might experience. Including this language in the budget is a small but important win, and Grosso will continue the push to make it easier for residents to obtain identity documents. 

Comment

Comment

Grosso Introduces Sense of the Council Resolution to Implement Police Reform

For Immediate Release: 

July 13, 2016

Contact:

Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso Introduces Resolution Calling for Police Reform

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced a “Sense of the Council to Implement Police Reform” resolution to support families of victims lost to police violence; to implement widespread police reform; and to acknowledge support for all persons fighting for equal treatment under the law.  The move comes in the wake of the gun violence that occurred in Dallas, St. Paul, and Baton Rouge last week.

“I am tired of standing by and simply offering my condolences every time another person has been fatally shot,” Grosso said. “Violence is not a solution to our problems.  We must proactively examine our policies to reduce the use of violence as a solution to conflicts.”

The resolution states that the Mayor and the Council should study Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) policies and practices to assess their impact and make necessary improvements to reduce incidences of police shootings and use of violence in D.C.

The killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police galvanized Grosso to introduce the measure, though they were just the latest in a string that highlights the systemic racial disparities in our criminal justice system.  Recent analyses indicate that African-Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

While D.C. has not experienced fatal shootings on the same scale as other cities, Mapping Police Violence found that police fatally shot 17 people, 16 of which were African-Americans, between January 2013 and April 2016.

“As the Chair of the Education Committee, I’m particularly concerned about the kind of message that these shootings send to our children of color about how they are perceived,” Grosso said.

Grosso sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser asking her to establish a citywide call to action to implement data-driven police reform measures and to strengthen police-community relations. He also sent a letter to Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, requesting he hold a hearing in the fall to examine MPD’s implementation of recommendations made last year in a report from the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor.

Grosso also acknowledged the horrific killing of five police officers in Dallas and his desire to strengthen the relationship between residents and police.

“To acknowledge that this nation and our city faces a serious problem does not mean that we do not respect and appreciate the vast majority of police officers who risk their lives to protect us every day,” he said. “As we mourn the loss of those officers, we must hold our police, government, and each other accountable for treating every person equally and with dignity under the law so that confidence is restored between our communities and those charged with their protection.”

###

Below is the resolution, as introduced:

 

Below is the letter Councilmember Grosso sent to Mayor Bowser:

 

Below is the letter Councilmember Grosso sent to Councilmember McDuffie:

Comment

Comment

Grosso Commits to Advancing Family Leave Legislation this Fall

For Immediate Release: 

July 11, 2016

Contact:

Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso Commits to Advancing Family Leave Legislation this Fall

Washington, D.C. - It was determined last week that the Council of the District of Columbia will not consider the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015, a measure introduced by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that provides 16 weeks paid leave to all workers in D.C., before it adjourns for its summer recess.

"The working families of the District of Columbia need the security and stability this legislation provides," Councilmember Grosso said.  "I'm disappointed that we're not moving forward, however I remain committed to the goals of the bill and to enactment by the end of the year."

The bill, which Grosso co-wrote with Councilmember Elissa Silverman, would allow any employee in D.C., or any D.C. resident employed outside of the city, to access a government-run fund that would pay for up to 16 weeks of leave for a qualifying event. Qualifying events include a baby born or adopted or major medical operations for the worker or a family member. The bill's definition of family and major events are inclusive of the diversity of D.C.'s workers and families, including low-income workers, single-parent households, caregiving for non-child family members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and more.

"I greatly appreciate the efforts of Chairman Mendelson, Councilmember Silverman, the D.C. Paid Leave Coalition, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Family Values @ Work, and the many other advocates working on this measure.  We will continue our efforts over the summer recess to get a bill that is progressive and fiscally responsible that we can act on in September."

"As a country we lag behind the rest of the world on family leave-we need pro-family policies that encourage care taking and nurturing," said Grosso when he introduced the legislation last October. "The Universal Paid Leave Act will support our D.C. workers and families, while giving our local businesses a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly qualified employees."

Comment

Comment

Grosso Statement on Recent Gun Violence Across the Country

For Immediate Release: 

July 8, 2016

Contact:

Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso Statement on Recent Gun Violence Across the Country

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the recent acts of gun violence in Dallas, TX, St. Paul, MN, and Baton Rouge, LA:

“My heart breaks over the senseless violence in this country that continues to be ignored by our national leaders. My heart breaks over the killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five Dallas police officers, whose lives were cut short without cause.  My heart breaks for the family, friends, and communities torn apart by this bloodshed. My heart breaks especially for the children of the victims, some who witnessed firsthand these horrific acts, forced to carry that trauma with them the rest of their lives.

“We have serious questions to reflect on as a city and as a nation. Why is it that in our country shooting another human being is even considered a solution? Why are unarmed African-American men seven times more likely than unarmed white men to be killed by police?

“I cannot stand by, simply offering thoughts and prayers.  To say that it does not happen here in the District is simply untrue and ignores the reality faced by our residents.  My hope is that the Mayor and the Council can seriously study the Metropolitan Police Department’s policies to determine what improvements can be made to reduce incidences of unnecessary shootings and violence in our city.

“It is critical that we are proactive to ensure all residents of D.C. are treated equally with dignity under the law and to restore the necessary trust between our citizens and those charged with their protection.”

Comment

Comment

Congressional GOP Continue Attempts to Upend Grosso's Non-Discrimination Law

For Immediate Release: 

July 7, 2016

Contact:

Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Congressional GOP Continues Attempts to Upend Grosso's Non-Discrimination Law

Washington, D.C. - The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on attempts by Republicans in the House of Representatives to ban funding to enforce the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which he championed:

“Congressional Republicans never cease to amaze me with their continued efforts to overturn the actions of the District of Columbia’s locally elected government,” Councilmember Grosso said.  ”We will not allow discrimination on the basis of a person’s private reproductive health decision to occur in the District.”

The RHNDA, which was passed unanimously by the D.C. Council and signed by the Mayor, is now law and prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their reproductive health choices.

“Regardless of Congressional actions, discriminating on this basis is still prohibited and individuals will not lose their right to sue to enforce the law,” he said.

Grosso’s bill was already the target of a House vote last year to disapprove-or overturn-the law, an action that has not been pursued for decades and was ultimately ineffective without subsequent passage in the Senate and approval of the President.

Additionally, Republicans have introduced a variety of other amendments to weaken the District’s gun safety laws, and overturn both the budget autonomy and marijuana decriminalization referendums.

“It’s time for Congressional Republicans to focus on the serious issues facing our nation, like comprehensive gun safety reforms,  and stop meddling in the local affairs of the District of Columbia. These efforts to overturn my legislation and other measures reiterates, once again, the urgent necessity for D.C. to have budget and legislative autonomy, and ultimately statehood.” 

###

 

Comment

Comment

Grosso Bill Would Improve LGBTQ Health Data

For Immediate Release: 
June 28, 2016

Contact: Matthew Nocella
(202) 724-8105
 

Grosso Bill Would Improve LGBTQ Health Data

Washington, D.C. — Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced a bill to improve the documentation of health outcomes and behavioral risk factors of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community by the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH).

“Earlier this year, I wrote to the Department of Health to ask why this data was not being collected, and I was told it would cost too much,” said Grosso. “But not collecting data on the District’s LGBTQ community costs us even more as we cannot appropriately respond to critical health issues facing these residents.”

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Health Disparities Documentation Act of 2016, would require the District Department of Health (DOH) to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity through its annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS).

The BRFSS is a cross-sectional telephone survey conducted by state health departments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with technical and methodological assistance provided by the Center for Disease Control.  All levels of government rely on the data when making policy choices to address public health issues.

Additionally, the bill would require that the data collected be used in the annual report on the health of the District’s LGBTQ community, a collaborative effort of the Department of Health and the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

“We have the highest estimated percentage of LGBTQ residents in the nation living in the District. Not including these questions as part of the annual BRFSS is a missed opportunity and disservice to the community,” said Grosso.

 ###

Comment

Comment

Grosso to Hold a Hearing on the DCPS School Food Contracts

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on Proposed Contract CA21-443 between DC Public Schools (“DCPS”) and DC Central Kitchen and Proposed Contract CA21-446 between DCPS and SodexoMagic, LLC. The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 6, 2016 in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building. 

Comment

Comment

Grosso Receives Update from Department of Health on Medical Marijuana

In June, Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to Dr. LaQuandro Nesbitt, Director of the D.C. Department of Health about the department's medical marijuana program after hearing concerns from constituents about barriers to participation in the program.  Below are the original letter and the response from DOH.

Below is the response from the Department of Health on questions raised by Councilmember Grosso:

Comment

Comment

Grosso and Department of Health exchange letters on LGBTQ health

In May, Councilmember Grosso wrote to Director of the Department of Health Dr. Nesbitt regarding implementation of his bill LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act of 2015, which became law on April 6, 2016, as well as other LGBTQ health issues including data collection under the BRFSS and a local survey. On June 10, the Director responded. You can read both letters below:

Councilmember Grosso's letter:

Director Nesbitt's response:

Comment

Comment

A Look at the Anacostia River

By:  Mariama Conteh*

The Anacostia River has been unsafe as far as many can remember, but according to documents, this river has been paying the price of human actions since the Europeans were here. Industrial toxic chemicals also had a great impact in making the river unhealthy for residents to even be near the water due to its harmful attributes. Unfortunately, many people throw their waste products in the river, adding to the contamination resulting in its current state. Further, factories took advantage of the watershed and started to pollute the Anacostia River by leaving their toxic chemicals behind. These companies are the main cause of why the river is causing health related problems, for example when left unabated, these chemicals release carcinogens into the air, opening doors for cancer.

It could be argued that the pollution of the Anacostia River has worsened the sickness and unemployment rates in Wards 7 and 8, as these rates are significantly higher than across the rest of the city. The health of the Anacostia River is a direct reflection of the health of the communities it surrounds. Research has revealed that, “one of the most notable chemical pollutants in the river is polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which have immune, reproductive, endocrine, and neurological effects, and may cause cancer and affect children's cognitive development. This and other chemicals build up in the river bottom, where they make their way up the food chain and become stored in the tissues of fish, posing a health threat if people consume them.[1]” This cannot continue because it puts D.C. residents in danger, especially if they ingest a fish caught in the river.

Recognizing the environmental and health harms associated with the river, several nonprofit organizations as well as the D.C. government have stepped up to proactively address the health of the river. Councilmember David Grosso has, each year, participated in volunteer clean-up efforts of the Anacostia River.  Additionally, Councilmember Grosso has collaborated with the Seafarers Yacht Club and visited several sites along the river. Meanwhile, schools have the opportunity to do some community service work and to also make a change in their Wards. Schools such as the one that I currently attend, Cesar Chavez PCS Capitol Hill, have frequented the river in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers associated with a river containing harmful toxins and enable students to participate in clean-up efforts. The unfortunate truth of the river is that people and their actions have caused this situation; however, people also have the power to change the river’s course and agencies like the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment are doing the best they can, to undo the damage that has been caused.  I hope that in my lifetime I will be able to enjoy an Anacostia River where I can swim freely, fish and generally be able to have a stable and healthy river and community at large.

*Mariama is a rising senior at Cesar Chavez PCS Capitol Hill and is participating in the school’s Public Policy Fellowship, with Councilmember Grosso. This post is part of an ongoing series of posts by Councilmember Grosso’s staff to support professional development. All posts are approved and endorsed by Councilmember Grosso.


[1] http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/study-reveals-dc-community-anacostia-river-eating-and-sharing-contaminated-fish.html

Comment

Comment

Grosso Proposes to Codify Objective School Modernization Approach

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

 

Grosso Proposes to Codify Objective School Modernization Approach

Washington, D.C. — Today, Committee on Education Chairperson David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the “Planning Actively for Comprehensive Education Facilities Amendment Act of 2016,” also known as the PACE Facilities Amendment Act. The bill would codify the Committee’s objective approach to determining the prioritization of inclusion in the capital improvement plan for D.C. Public Schools, based on equity and data, not politics. It would also update the requirements for a Master Facilities Plan for public education facilities in D.C.

Comment

Comment

Grosso to Hold a Hearing on State of School-Based Athletics in Public Schools and B21-601, “District of Columbia State Athletics Consolidation Act of 2016”

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing of the Committee on Education on the state of school-based athletics in public schools and B21-601, “District of Columbia State Athletics Consolidation Act of 2016.” The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

Comment

Comment

Grosso to Hold Roundtable on the Confirmations of Donald Soifer, Kamili Anderson, and Karma Cottman

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on PR21-722, Public Charter School Board Donald Soifer Confirmation Resolution of 2016, PR21-669, Board of Library Trustees Kamili Anderson Confirmation Resolution of 2016, and PR21-624, Board of Library Trustees Karma Cottman Confirmation Resolution of 2016. The roundtable will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, 2016 in Hearing Room 120 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

Comment

4 Comments

Thoughts on DCPS FY17 Capital Budget

In 2008, D.C. released a new Master Facilities Plan for DCPS to prioritize renovations of schools, with an emphasis on improvements to the academic learning environments—i.e. classrooms. This was to allow for enhancements to all schools within 5 years, rather than pursuing more capital-intensive full modernizations, which would have required more than a decade to complete. However, over time, priorities shifted. Last year, the Committee on Education was surprised to learn that even after spending over a billion dollars since 2008, 24 schools still had not received any form of renovation.

4 Comments

Comment

D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the D.C. Council took its first vote on the "Fiscal Year 2017 Local Budget Act of 2016", "Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Portion Budget Request Act of 2016", and "Fiscal Year Budget Support Act of 2017", which together comprise the fiscal year 2017 budget. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. Grosso made the following statement:

"I am proud of the hard work and collaboration that happened during the budget process on behalf of D.C. residents. My colleagues and I were tasked with balancing the city's many priorities. Through this arduous process, we produced a budget that is fair and puts the needs of the people at the forefront.
 
"Budgets are about choices and unfortunately we could not do everything that we wanted or that was asked of us. Nevertheless, I believe this budget will continue to move us forward and help ensure that we are putting students in the District of Columbia in the best position to learn and succeed. The Committee on Education's budget and policy recommendations that passed a couple of weeks ago were strong, reflecting the needs and issues raised during the performance and budget oversight hearing process, and I am delighted to see that the Committee of the Whole builds upon our efforts. For a second year, the Committee utilized an objective process that evaluated the status of DCPS facilities and ranked them for modernization based on 4,600 data points.
 
"I am especially grateful that my colleagues once again supported the Committee on Education's approach to depoliticize funding of our school modernizations. Our model, based on equity, student demand, community-centered schools, and transparency, prioritizes the schools in greatest of need. 

"Particularly important is inclusion in this budget of funding for the replacement and closing of D.C. General, a goal that I have championed for years. I commend Mayor Bowser for taking on this important and difficult task. While I acknowledge the great deal of work ahead, the changes that the Council made will strengthen the plan, while saving money and ensuring stability. I was glad to help identify capital funding necessary for D.C. to own the new shelters rather than lease them, while working with my colleagues to ensure that Coolidge High School will still complete its full renovation onthe Mayor's schedule."

Grosso's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Victories
Education
Under Grosso's leadership, the Education Committee approved a $3.9 billion budget improving public education, literacy, and career readiness for all District residents, including:

  • $1.8 million to increase the subsidy rate for child care providers;
  • $2.3 million to increase additional capacity for the Strong Start Early Intervention program that provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays;
  • $1.6 million to continue the early literacy grant initiative targeting third grade reading success, which Grosso created in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • $11.9 million in capital funds for data systems infrastructure at OSSE, to improve data collection, transparency and coordination in the education sector;
  • $800,000 to restore the 21st Century Learning Grants at OSSE;
  • $200,000 for the establishment of a D.C. Oral History Project
  • $440 million in FY17 for school modernizations and other repairs for D.C. Public Schools;
  • $2.5 million for Show Up Stand Out, ACE, and PASS, programs that support student attendance and divert young people away from the criminal justice system;
  • $700,000 to increase the library collections budget including opening day collections for Palisades, West End, and Capitol View branch libraries;
  • $600,000 to support the success of the Books from Birth program at DC Public Library;
  • $1.2 million to expand the school-based health centers located in 7 schools throughout D.C.; and
  • $650,000 for the Department of Health to continue funding for the teen pregnancy prevention programming and teen peer sexual health educators.

Capital Improvement Plan for DC Public Schools
This year, the Committee on Education continued its objective approach to capital modernizations. The model was refined to include 4,600 data points throughout 10 categories to rank all 112 schools in the DCPS portfolio, and was based on the following principles:

  • Ensure that the Capital Improvement Plan reflects equity focused planning, aligns investments with student demand, upholds the values of community centered schools, and builds facilities to support quality educational programs;
  • Exercise greater discipline in managing the scope and budget for the projects; and
  • Increase transparency in the capital funding process, including delineating general stabilization fund categories such as roof repairs, boiler repairs, ADA compliance, and electrical upgrades to school specific projects.

As a result, the Committee approved a $440 million Capital Improvement Plan for FY17, enhancing the Mayor's plan by $13 million.

Arts
As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector, which includes:

  • $4.6 million to increase Arts Building Communities to provide more grants to more artists and provide larger grants to organizations that currently apply for multiple grants in order to meet their need;
  • $1.45 million to conduct educational activities and outreach to youth and young adults;
  • $30,000 to increase training and employee development of new staff of the Commission on Arts & Humanities; and
  • $20,000 to increase legislative and grants management for the processing of additional grants by the Commission on Arts & Humanities.

Health and Human Services
As a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services, and recognizing the impact health and human services has on the success of students at school, Grosso is glad to see important investments in this sector including:

  • Over $100 million in capital funds to build smaller, more humane shelters for families experiencing homelessness, resulting in the closure of D.C. General, fostering more stability, and saving over $165 million in the process;
  • $2 million for additional Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $2.5 million for additional Targeted Affordable Housing for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $4.9 million for youth development funding that will be issued in FY17 while the government and community create a new strategy to replace the D.C. Trust; and
  • $1.2 million for Produce Plus to support low income individuals eating healthy and fresh food.

To learn more about the Committee on Education's budget and priorities on the Committee on Education, please visit www.davidgrosso.og.
 
 
###

Comment