Viewing entries tagged
good government

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Pending racial equity legislation must include requirements for D.C. Council

For Immediate Release: 
April 25, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Pending racial equity legislation must include requirements for D.C. Council

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, a member of the Committee on Government Operations, on today’s committee hearing on B23-38, the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2019:

“In recent years, the word ‘equity’ has become trendy—but it is so much more than a buzzword. It is a recognition that we do not all start at the same place. Equity recognizes that persistent disparities faced by those who start furthest behind or face additional barriers will not be solved without targeting opportunities, resources, and supports to those individuals.

“We must directly name and work to address racial disparities so that one's racial identity is not a predictor of their educational, health, economic or other outcomes. As chairperson of the Committee on Education for the past 4 years, I have seen how explicit and implicit biases have affected our students of color and their academic success. The achievement gap between these students and their white peers has persisted and we will not narrow it until we fully approach our policies through an equity framework. Not only in education but in housing, in our health system, in workforce development and business—it is imperative that we do more to recognize the historical legacy and persistence of racist systems, policies and institutions.

“I want to thank Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie for his leadership on and commitment to addressing racial equity issues. Earlier this year I was excited to participate in a symposium he convened on this topic and later enthusiastically joined him as a co-introducer of the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2019, which is receiving a public hearing before the Committee on Government Operations today. The District of Columbia Government is long overdue for this conversation and even longer overdue for action.

“The changes the bill makes to executive branch operations are necessary. Requiring that employees of the Mayor and her agencies undergo racial equity training and that agencies apply a racial equity framework when implementing policies and assessing performance will create a government that better serves the needs of all its constituents.

"Part of our government is the Council, which is not covered under the requirements included in this legislation. As a co-equal branch of government, the Council’s actions have a profound impact on our residents. Our work to fund District services through the annual budget, hold agencies accountable for meeting residents’ needs, and propose and debate solutions to our constituents’ concerns should also be subjected to the same standards we seek to impose on the executive. I fear it will be too easy to reverse, intentionally or unintentionally, the positive outcomes this legislation would produce if we do not implement our own racial equity framework and require councilmembers and staff to participate in ongoing racial equity training.

“The work certainly will not be easy but it is absolutely necessary. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we improve and advance this legislation to bring about meaningful change to how our government serves our residents.”

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Grosso revives efforts to reform constituent service funds

For Immediate Release: 
April 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso revives efforts to reform constituent service funds

Washington, D.C. – Often misused constituent service funds could see radical change aimed at improving the provision of assistance to constituents and reducing the influence of private donors under new legislation introduced by Councilmember David Grosso today.

Constituent service funds allow elected officials in the District of Columbia to raise money from private donors and provide emergency assistance to residents when a financial need arises.

However, a recent report from the non-profit Public Citizen entitled Misused, Inequitable and Ethically Fraught found that, in the last seven years, only a quarter of expenditures from constituent service funds have been used to meet the immediate needs of D.C. residents.

Rather than using funds to help residents pay bills, buy groceries, or make funeral arrangements, some elected officials have purchased items like sports tickets and branded t-shirts or calendars.

“Worse than what these funds are misused for is where the money comes from. Private donations­–from those seeking business with D.C. government or campaign funders who have reached their contribution limits–raise the specter of pay-to-play politics,” said Grosso, who does not maintain a constituent service fund because of the ethical challenges they present.

The Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019 establishes a central, publicly-funded constituent service fund for the Mayor, Attorney General, and the members of the Council, providing each the ability to direct up to $40,000 annually for immediate constituent needs.

The legislation also adds new limits on constituent service funds expenditures, specifically prohibiting questionable perks like sports tickets and branded advertising, and empowers the Chief Financial Officer to administer the program and approve expenditures.

“The bill I introduced today would allow us to both meet the immediate needs of constituents while also removing the undue influence of monied interests in this important work,” Grosso said.

It further prohibits private donations or transfers from unused funds campaign, transition, inaugural and legal defense accounts to constituent service funds.

“This legislation builds on the work undertaken in recent years to put our ethical house in order, continuing us down the road that both the Fair Elections and Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Acts have set us on to win back the public’s trust in our work,” Grosso said.

Councilmembers Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Robert White joined Grosso as co-introducers of the bill.

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Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019

Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend the Campaign Finance Act of 2011 to repeal the existing constituent-service program and related language; and to amend Chapter 3 of Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code to establish a government-funded constituent services program.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, and Robert White, I am introducing the Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019.

Misused, Inequitable and Ethically Fraught. That’s the title of a report on the use of Constituent Service Funds by councilmembers, released last week by Public Citizen.

The report found that, in the last seven years, only a quarter of expenditures from constituent service funds have been used to meet the immediate needs of our residents.

Sports tickets, branded t-shirts, membership dues, calendars, greeting cards¬–the list goes on–are just some of the items that have been purchased with funds intended to help our residents in need pay bills, buy groceries, or make funeral arrangements.

Worse than what the money is used for (or rather NOT used for) is where the money comes from.

Private donations raise the specter of pay-to-play politics, with maxed out campaign donors and those seeking government business able to further contribute financially to an elected official.

Last year, as part of the debate and passage of the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2017, which became effective law two weeks ago, provisions to reform constituent service funds were removed at the markup.

During that debate councilmembers touted the important role these funds play in helping their constituents on a day to day basis and raised concerns about meeting constituents’ needs if we were to eliminate these funds or place restrictions on donations to them.

The bill I am introducing today would allow us to both meet those IMMEDIATE needs of constituents while also removing the undue influence of monied interests in this important work.

The legislation establishes a central, publicly-funded constituent service fund for the Mayor, Attorney General, and the members of the Council, providing each the ability to direct up to $40,000 annually for immediate constituent needs.

Elected officials will not be able to solicit donations from private donors or move unused campaign, transition, and other funds to constituent service funds, removing even the appearance of corruption from the equation.

New requirements will ensure expenditures directly benefit constituents and prohibits using funds on questionable perks like sports tickets and branded advertising.

And finally, the bill empowers the Chief Financial Officer to administer the program and approve expenditures, creating a new system of accountability and removing the burden from the Office of Campaign Finance.

This legislation builds on the work undertaken in recent years to put our ethical house in order, continuing us down the road that both the Fair Elections and Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Acts have set us on to win back the public’s trust in our work.

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Grosso urges quick implementation of protected bike lanes on 6th and 9th Streets NW

Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter last week to Director of the D.C. Department of Transportation expressing his disappointment at the lack of progress of protected bike lanes on 6th Street and 9th Street NW between Florida and Pennsylvania Avenues, NW.

Changes in the area, including the reopening of MLK Library and removal of bike and bus lanes, necessitate a speedy implementation of both these protect bike lanes to improve mobility and safety for cyclists on corridors that touch Wards 1, 2, and 6.

You can read the full letter below and here.

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Councilmember Grosso remains committed to a special Council investigation of Councilmember Evans’ behavior

For Immediate Release:
March 5, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso remains committed to a special Council investigation of Councilmember Evans’ behavior

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement by Councilmember David Grosso on Chairman Phil Mendelson's proposed reprimand of Councilmember Jack Evans:

"Chairman Mendelson’s proposed reprimand of Councilmember Evans is merely a slap on the wrist, allowing the Council to check a box and move on. It stops short of any real accountability as Councilmember Evans will remain at the helm of the powerful Finance and Revenue Committee from which he peddled his influence using the prestige of his office. Additionally, he remains on the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which has oversight of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. True consequences for his behavior should necessitate the reorganization of the current committee structure.

"Based on media reports over the past year, this does not appear to be an isolated incident, but rather a pattern of behavior. While I appreciate the role of the press in bringing Councilmember Evans’ actions to light, it is incumbent upon the Council to conduct its own investigation into the extent to which our colleague has violated our Code of Conduct, policies, and laws and ensure public trust in the work of this body.

“If we solely rely on the press as our investigative branch, we could be back here in a few weeks voting on another reprimand, and then another. A full Council investigation by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Chairman will provide a thorough accounting and then allow the Council to weigh its full options to hold Councilmember Evans accountable."

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Councilmember Grosso requests information from City Administrator on D.C. government's acceptance of cash

Last month, Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to City Administrator Rashad Young requesting a full accounting of which D.C. government agencies accept money from the public, for what services, and, of those, which cannot be paid in cash.

Federal data indicates that 1 in 3 D.C. residents are underbanked, while 1 in 10 are unbanked. Additionally, many residents prefer to use cash to better manage their budgets and protect their identities.

Last year, Councilmember Grosso also introduced legislation to stop the trend toward cashless-only payments at local food establishments over concerns about equitable access for residents who are unbanked or underbanked.

Councilmember Grosso also has been monitoring the impact of the pilot program being undertaken on the 79 express bus route.  This pilot will ban the use of cash payment or SmarTrip reloading and Grosso fears that the change could worsen commute options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

Councilmember Grosso expects a response from City Administrator Young by January 18, 2019. You can read his letter below:

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Grosso's Fair Elections Act becomes law

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso's Fair Elections Act becomes law

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the signing into law of the Fair Elections Act of 2017, the third version of a public campaign finance bill he has introduced since 2013:

"I want to thank Mayor Bowser for signing into law the Fair Elections Act of 2017, which the Council unanimously passed last month. Further, I applaud her commitment to fund the legislation in her fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

"Fair Elections establishes a strong public campaign finance system for our local elections, amplifies the voices of everyday D.C. residents, and combats the corrupting influence of outsized campaign spending. This public financing system incentivizes candidates to spend more time meeting with residents and constituents, empowers residents of ordinary means to have a meaningful ability to compete for elected office, reshapes our donor class to be more inclusive and representative of the entire population of the District of Columbia, and combats the perception of pay-to-play politics.

"I would also like to thank Councilmember Charles Allen and his staff, who worked tirelessly to shepherd this legislation through the Council and Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who has been an original co-introducer of this legislation with me since 2013. I would also like to thank the Fair Elections Coalition, which organized events throughout D.C. to mobilize people to support public financing of campaigns, including at the mayor's budget engagement forums in recent weeks. Their commitment to ending the perception of pay-to-play politics and restoring faith in our local democracy is truly admirable and what got this effort across the finish line."

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Council Unanimously Approves Grosso's Fair Elections Act On Final Vote

For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

 

Council Unanimously Approves Grosso's Fair Elections Act On Final Vote

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the D.C. Council's unanimous final passage of the Fair Elections Act of 2017, which he introduced in March 2017:

"I am extremely pleased that the Council has again spoken with a unanimous voice and passed my legislation to establish a strong public campaign finance system for our local elections.

"Fair Elections is about amplifying the voices of everyday D.C. residents and combating the corrupting influence of outsized campaign spending. This public financing system incentivizes candidates to spend more time meeting with residents and constituents, empowers residents of ordinary means to have a meaningful ability to compete for elected office, reshapes our donor class to be more inclusive and representative of the entire population of the District of Columbia, and combats the perception of pay-to-play politics. 

"I remain fully committed to ensuring the success of this program and will work with the mayor and my colleagues through the fiscal year 2019 budget process to make a strong investment in our local democracy by funding this legislation.

"I would also like to thank Councilmember Charles Allen and his staff, who worked to move this legislation out of the Judiciary Committee; Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who has been an original co-introducer of this legislation with me since 2013; as well as the Fair Elections Coalition, which organized events throughout D.C. to mobilize people to support public financing of campaigns."

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First round results of graduation investigation highlight need for continued scrutiny

For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

 

First round results of graduation investigation highlight need for continued scrutiny

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, regarding the first report of the independent investigation of graduation and attendance at public high schools in the District of Columbia:

“Today, the Committee on Education received the results of phase one of the investigation into attendance and graduation at Ballou High School and internal procedure of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), as conducted by independent contractor Alvarez & Marsal through the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE).  Additionally, we have received OSSE’s own report on citywide attendance of DCPS high schools and the oversight and review of the Public Charter School Board (PCSB) methodology.

“The results are extremely troubling. I am deeply concerned with the findings of inappropriate use of credit recovery courses, intentionally misleading attendance coding, and the pressure exerted by administration to pass students with failing grades. It was the hope of the community that these allegations were isolated or inflated, but the first wave of reports tells a much more harrowing tale. We still await the internal investigation being conducted by DCPS and on the remaining portions of the independent investigation to understand the full scope of the issues. I have spoken with State Superintendent Hanseul Kang and Chancellor Antwan Wilson about their initial reactions to the reports and expressed my grave concerns.

“On February 8, 2018 I will reconvene the public roundtable that began on December 15, 2017 to publicly review the findings of the Chancellor’s internal report on DCPS high schools and OSSE’s independent investigation. I will be looking to government leadership to present their findings as well as offer immediate and long-term solutions that address the systemic issues we are facing in our neighborhood high schools.

“I continue to encourage the public to build on the testimony we received over the course of the last month by submitting testimony to the Committee on Education. Testimony will be compiled as part of a formal Committee Report and anonymity or redaction will be granted upon request.

“I encourage the public to review the initial reports and provide comments here  and sign up to testify for Committee on Education performance oversight hearings for DCPS, OSSE, PCSB, and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education this February and March. 

“It is heartbreaking that we have failed these students. In all likelihood, their senior year was not the first time they struggled with school related subject matter or with attendance. Therefore, as a city, we must all come together to find immediate solutions that move us forward and rapidly away from these unethical practices.” 
 

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Grosso celebrates unanimous first vote for Fair Elections Act

For Immediate Release:
January 9, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

 

Grosso celebrates unanimous first vote for Fair Elections Act

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the unanimous D.C. Council first vote on the Fair Elections Act of 2017, which he introduced in March 2017:

“Today, the Council of the District of Columbia gave resounding, unanimous approval to establish a strong public campaign finance system for our local elections.

“I believe strongly that public financing of elections is one of the most vital tools to combat the corrupting influence of outsized campaign spending. Public financing of campaigns was among the first bills I introduced when I joined the Council five years ago, and I have introduced some version of this bill in every Council period since.

“This public financing system incentivizes candidates to spend more time meeting with residents and constituents, empowers residents of ordinary means to have a meaningful ability to compete for elected office, reshapes our donor class to be more inclusive and representative of the entire population of the District of Columbia, and combats the perception of pay-to-play politics.

“Fair Elections is about amplifying the voices of everyday D.C. residents.

“I look forward to final passage at the Council’s next legislative meeting. Furthermore, I remain fully committed to ensuring the success of this program when it becomes law and will work with the mayor and my colleagues through the annual budget process to make a strong investment in our local democracy by funding this legislation.

“I would also like to thank Councilmember Charles Allen and his staff, who worked tirelessly to shepherd this legislation through the Council; Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who has been an original co-introducer of this legislation with me since 2013; as well as the Fair Elections Coalition, which organized events throughout D.C. to mobilize people to support public financing of campaigns.”

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Instant Runoff Voting Amendment Act of 2017

Instant Runoff Voting Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: July 11, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh

Summary: To provide for the election of the Mayor, the Attorney General, members of Council, and members of the State Board of Education using instant runoff voting, to require that District voting systems be compatible with an instant runoff ballot system, and setting a date and conditions for implementation.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Reforming the District of Columbia’s campaigns and elections to ensure more residents are engaged in the political process and their voices are accurately reflected in government remains a high priority for me.

Earlier this year, I introduced the Fair Elections Act of 2017, which aims to reduce the influence of big money in local campaigns by establishing a strong public financing system.

This morning, along with Councilmember Nadeau, I continue that push by introducing the Instant Runoff Voting Amendment Act of 2017.

Instant Runoff Voting ensures that individuals receive a majority of the vote of the electorate, by allowing voters to rank the choices on their ballots in order of preference.

Tabulation of results proceeds in rounds. The first round eliminates the person with the fewest votes, then reallocates those votes to the voter’s second choice in the next round. This continues until one person receives a clear majority of the vote, and we can be sure that this is the preferred candidate of the electorate.

Unlike traditional runoff voting, this method does not require the expense of an additional election since it all happens on one ballot.

Many times in the District of Columbia, we have crowded primaries, open seats and special elections. These are opportunities for individuals to make an attempt at running for public office and giving back to their communities. Therefore the candidate field is often crowded, and victors emerge with less than a majority of the vote.

This will help change how we run for office, and force fields of candidates to focus on vigorous and spirited policy debates that appeal to a wide range of voters.

Instant runoff voting is currently used in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro California; Minneapolis, and St. Paul Minnesota; Portland, Maine; Takoma Park, Maryland; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Many states also use instant runoff on their military and overseas ballots.

The potential benefits to the District through instant runoff voting are immense.

We can expect higher voter turnout - as voters will be free to mark their ballot for the candidate they truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their least preferred candidate.

We can expect positive and more widespread campaigning - since candidates will not only be seeking to be a voters first choice but all will be asking to receive the voter’s second-choice and third-choice.

Instant runoff voting will make our elections more competitive and fair, and strengthen confidence in our electoral outcomes.

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Contract Interference Mitigation Resolution of 2017

Contract Interference Mitigation Resolution of 2017

Introduced: July 11, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Mary Cheh, and Kenyan McDuffie

Summary: To Declare the sense of the Council that the District of Columbia is committed to government transparency and consistency with regard to contracting and procurement; and to call upon the Mayor to more accurately document interactions with lobbyists, especially regarding contracts, to update and standardize the solicitation and bid review process across government agencies, and to take steps to combat the perception of favoritism in the contracting process to mitigate the potential for interference in the contracting process.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Today I am introducing the Contract Interference Mitigation Resolution of 2017 along with Councilmembers Cheh, Bonds, and McDuffie.

The Committee on Transportation conducted an investigation into the resignation of Admiral Weaver from the Department of General Services, the firing of two DGS employees by a member of the Mayor’s executive team, and the handling of two contracts awarded by DGS.

The Committee combed through thousands of pages of documents, including e-mails, correspondence, meeting records, personnel files, and documents related to those contracts, and heard over twenty hours of testimony in December of 2016. 

On June 14, 2017, Councilmember Mary Cheh released findings and recommendations, which included steps that the executive can take, independently of Council action.

While I know there is pending legislation that addresses some of the short-comings raised through Councilmember Cheh’s findings, I thought it would be appropriate for the Council to at least encourage the Executive to take these necessary steps as soon as possible.

That is why we are introducing this resolution to declare the sense of the Council that the District of Columbia is committed to government transparency and consistency with regard to contracting and procurement; and to call upon the Mayor to more accurately document interactions with lobbyists, especially regarding contracts, to update and standardize the solicitation and bid review process across government agencies, and to take steps to combat the perception of favoritism in the contracting process to mitigate the potential for interference in the contracting process.

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Grosso introduces bill to promote individual power in local elections

For Immediate Release: 
March 22, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso introduces bill to promote individual power in local elections

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today introduced legislation to encourage greater participation in District of Columbia elections by providing for public financing for campaigns, shifting power and influence from big donors to smaller, individual contributors.

“Public financing of campaigns would give greater voice to all voters and reduce the disproportionate influence of big donors in D.C. politics,” Grosso said. “We must ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in and positively influence the political process, regardless of how much or how little they are able to contribute, or if they do not contribute at all.”

Under the legislation, the Fair Elections Act of 2017, qualified participating candidates are eligible to receive base amount allocations and matching payments. In exchange for receiving public financing, participating candidates would no longer be able to accept direct corporate contributions or traditional political action committee (PAC) contributions.

The contribution limits and matching funds are tiered by the office being sought, ranging from a limit of $20 for Ward State Board of Education candidates to $200 for mayor. Candidates would receive a 2-to-1 match before qualifying for the ballot, then a 5-to-1 match after.

“In addition to fighting corruption, a public financing system empowers residents of ordinary means to have a meaningful ability to compete for elected office,” Grosso said.  “This bill is about amplifying the voices of everyday D.C. residents.”

Eight of Grosso’s colleagues, Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Mary Cheh, Kenyan McDuffie, Trayon White, and Brianne Nadeau, joined him as co-introducers.

“The Fair Elections bill is about putting more power in the hands of DC residents. Changing the way we fund campaigns in a way that prioritizes the low-dollar donor means candidates can spend more time focused on their constituents and neighbors, rather than chasing big-dollar donors,” said Councilmember Charles Allen, chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary, to which the bill was referred.

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Fair Elections Act of 2017

Fair Elections Act of 2017

Introduced: March 22, 2017

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, and Trayon White

Summary: To reform campaign financing and to provide for publicly funded political campaigns.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with my colleagues Councilmembers Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Mary Cheh, Kenyan McDuffie, Trayon White and Brianne Nadeau, I am reintroducing the “Fair Elections Act of 2017.”

Since I’ve been in office, I have introduced some version of this bill in every Council period because I believe strongly that public financing of elections is one of the most vital tools to combat the corrupting influence of outsized campaign spending.

As we all know, campaign donations are a necessary, though sometimes complicated aspect of politics.

Support for candidates in the District of Columbia today generally comes from three sources: Friends of a candidate who know his or her qualifications and support their aspirations for democracy and the common good; Citizens who have views on governance and public policy, or citizens with grievances with governance; and individuals with commercial interests that either benefit or risk loss due to decisions of governance.

All of these sources are appropriate in a functioning democracy; however, the situation we face today is that we are out of balance—big donors outweigh the ability of others’ to influence campaigns.

My legislation helps to restore that balance by establishing a robust public financing program.

In Council Period 21, then-Chair of the Committee on Judiciary, Councilmember McDuffie held a hearing on this bill, which brought about important feedback and healthy criticism.

Following that hearing, my staff worked to make the changes recommended by the Attorney General and completed an in-depth analysis of the previous3 election cycles to understand what is truly needed to run a successful campaign in the District of Columbia.

Under the legislation, qualified participating candidates are eligible to receive base amount allocations and matching payments, the latter both before qualifying for the ballot and after.

In addition to fighting corruption, a public financing system empowers residents of ordinary means to have a meaningful ability to compete for elected office.  Establishing this system will allow those who may not have personal wealth or access to high-powered connections to launch competitive campaigns.

This is bill is about amplifying the voices of everyday D.C. residents and I hope that all of my colleagues will stand up for publicly funded elections and cosponsor this legislation.

I yield the remainder of my time to my co-introducers and I welcome any co-sponsors.

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Grosso introduces bill to promote greater transparency in D.C. government

For Immediate Release: 
March 17, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso introduces bill to promote greater transparency in D.C. government

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso introduced legislation on Tuesday to foster more open and responsive government by strengthening existing open government laws.

“An open and transparent government is more likely to be an effective and ethical government—a good government,” said Grosso. “When we open up the government for our residents to see, it increases confidence in our work, and lets the public highlight areas for improvement.”

The Strengthening Government Transparency Amendment Act of 2017 strengthens D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, Open Meetings Act, and Open Government Office Act and codifies key components of past mayoral orders on open data.

The bill establishes in D.C. law the principle that if government information is deemed appropriate to share with one person under a Freedom of Information Act request, it should be shared with everyone and ought to be proactively published. It also shifts the Freedom of Information Act appeals process from the mayor’s office to the independent Office of Open Government, bringing more objectivity and expertise to the appeals process.

Additionally, the Open Meetings Act is reinforced by requiring that a public meeting is one where the public is permitted to be present, creating a complaint process for alleged violations, and a private right of action for residents when a meeting that should be open is improperly closed.

“Having an open and accountable government is something we should constantly strive for in D.C.,” Grosso said.

Councilmember Mary Cheh co-introduced the bill with Grosso.

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Strengthening Government Transparency Amendment Act of 2017

Strengthening Government Transparency Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: March 15, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmember Mary Cheh

Summary: To amend the Freedom of Information Act to clarify procedures for public bodies to make information available to the public, to extend the time a public body has to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request, to clarify certain exemptions from Freedom of Information Act requirements, to establish the Open Government Office as the body to resolve appeals regarding Freedom of Information Act requests, to clarify reporting requirements on public body Freedom of Information Act activities, to clarify the public bodies covered by the Freedom of Information Act; to amend the Open Meetings Act to include Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and other bodies, to require that a public body’s meeting is considered open only if members of the public are permitted to attend, to create a complaint process for instances of alleged non-compliance, to create a private right of action for an individual alleging non-compliance; to amend the Open Government Office Act to change the name to the Office of Open Government, to clarify the Office’s roles and responsibilities, to require boards, commission, and task forces to make available certain information in a central location online, and to create uniform procedures for processing and tracking requests for public records.

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Grosso writes to Board of Elections about voter registration problem

Over the weekend, Councilmember Grosso heard from a long time resident, who has been voting in D.C. elections since 1964, that she received a notice of no longer being registered to vote from the D.C. Board of Elections. Subsequently, other residents also reached out with the same problem. After looking into it, Grosso found the agency's response inadequate and wrote to the Board today to ask that they address the issue immediately, as early voting for the 2016 election starts next month. See the letter below, followed by an example of what residents received--and the registration card that shows a birthdate in 1800, which is the source of the problem.

Update: Less than a day later, the Board of Elections responded to Councilmember Grosso's letter saying they will be sending a clarifying mailer to voters affected by the original confusing notice.  You can see their response below. 

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Grosso to Hold Hearing on Lead in Schools this June

For Immediate Release
April 22, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin 
(202) 724-8105


Grosso to Hold Hearing on Lead in Schools this June

 

Washington, D.C. -- Councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education stated today that he will hold a joint hearing with the Committee on Transportation and the Environment on the testing of lead levels in all of D.C.'s traditional and charter public schools.  This hearing is a follow up to on-the-record questioning inquiries made by the Committee on Education to D.C. administrators during performance and budget oversight hearings regarding the testing of lead levels in schools. Representatives from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Department of Energy, and the Department of General Services will be called to testify.

"It is well documented and widely reported that the impact of lead has grave consequences on a child's mental and physical development.  As government leaders, we have a responsibility to protect our most valuable resource --our children--by exhaustively testing all water in our schools. I have called on DCPS and PCSB leadership to oversee the completion of testing all waters sources and report back to the Committee in June about the status of their schools. Parents, teachers, our community and, most importantly, our young people deserve the assurance that their government is acting in their best interest."

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Grosso Introduces the Search Warrant Execution Accountability Act of 2016

 

For Immediate Release
April 5, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin 
(202) 724-8105

 

Grosso Introduces the Search Warrant Execution Accountability Act of 2016

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.--At today's D.C. Council Legislative Meeting, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation to strengthen the District of Columbia's search warrant requirements and to require the District of Columbia to pay reasonable expenses to a property owner whose property is damaged or destroyed in a police search when the search is executed on the wrong property. 

"While I understand and recognize that officers, when executing a search warrant, may on occasion damage property in order to effectively perform their duties; I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact our residents are negatively impacted when the police carelessly execute search warrants at the wrong address," said Grosso.

"Many people in minority communities have, for good reason, become afraid of interacting with the police and when an unassuming resident is subjected to a police raid that was not executed on the appropriate property, it certainly does not instill confidence in police practices and further frightens our residents. As a government, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and implementing this legislation will ensure that our residents have a clear course of action when they have faced an injustice."

Grosso's legislation proposes to:

  • Strengthen the requirements related to an application for a search warrant by ensuring that when a request is made for a search warrant to be executed at any hour of the day or night, the standard is based on a preponderance of the evidence, not the current probable cause standard.
  • Requires that when an application for a search warrant is made to search the purported residence of a suspect in an ongoing police investigation, the Court must be satisfied that the police have done their due diligence to determine that the suspect owns the premises or is likely to reside there.
  • Establishes a claims process to enable eligible property owners to receive the reasonable expenses required to replace property or restore property to the condition it was in prior to a search, if the execution of the search warrant resulted in damage or destruction to the property and MPD executed the search warrant on the wrong premises.
  • Defines "wrong premises" for the purpose of this act.

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