During an oversight hearing with the D.C. Public Library this spring, Councilmember Grosso asked Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan and Board of Trustees President Greg McCarthy about an incident at Shaw Library in March. A DCPL police officer asked a library patron to remove her hijab, a headcovering used by many Muslim women, and allegedly threatened her with arrest if she did not comply. Mr. Reyes-Gavilan and Mr. McCarthy both committed to following up on the incident and ensuring that similar incident would not happen again. Grosso sent a letter this summer to inquire about the library's complaint process, training, and other actions taken to address the incident. You can read Grosso's letter and the library's response below.
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Today, the Committee on Education along with the Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a joint oversight roundtable on District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) modernizations. This followed the Committees' joint oversight roundtable on the topic on July 8, 2015, when the D.C. Auditor released her report on the lack of accountability and transparency within the DCPS modernization program in fiscal years 2010-2013.
Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, and Councilmember Mary Cheh, chairperson of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment announces the scheduling of a joint public oversight roundtable on DC Public Schools (DCPS) school modernizations. The hearing will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2015 in Hearing Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Hearing on Early Learning and Early Care in the District of Columbia and B21-0019, “Thurgood Marshall-Marion Barry Early Learning Academy Act of 2015”
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing of the Committee on Education on early learning and early care in the District of Columbia and B21-19, the “Thurgood Marshall-Marion Barry Early Learning Academy Act of 2015”. The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 14, 2015 in Hearing Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Hearing on B21-0361, “Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015” and B21-0319, “Assessment on Children of Incarcerated Parents Act of 2015”
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing of the Committee on Education on B21-361, “Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015” and B21-319, “Assessment on Children of Incarcerated Parents Act of 2015”. The hearing will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 in Hearing Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public oversight roundtable of the Committee on Education on the modernization of DC Public Library facilities. The roundtable will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 22, 2015 in Hearing Room 120 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Please join Councilmember Grosso and the Committee on Education for the following hearings and roundtables this fall:
Hearing on B21-0243, The "Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator Requirements Amendment Act of 2015"
On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education, will hold a public hearing on Bill 21-0243, the “Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator Requirements Amendment Act of 2015”. The hearing will be held in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., at 2:00 p.m. The hearing will be immediately followed by a related hearing on the State of Emergency Medical Services in the District of Columbia and Bill 21-0290, the “Office of Unified Communications Training, CPR, and Modernization Amendment Act of 2015”.
During the March Performance Oversight Hearing with the Department on Disability Services (DDS), a number of public witnesses raised concerns about how the agency was performing its duties. After the hearing, Councilmember Grosso heard from constituents and advocates with further concerns and complaints about DDS. On March 30th, Grosso sent a letter to DDS Director Laura Nuss, and received a short response a little over a week later, which the Councilmember found to be unresponsive to the issues that he sought to address. Grosso felt that these issues required close attention as they concern some of the most vulnerable residents of the city.
After a Budget Oversight Hearing during which Grosso continued to feel unsatisfied with the agency's answers to his questions, the Councilmember asked the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Brenda Donald to look into what was happening at DDS. On July 2, Grosso received a memo from DDS Director Nuss to Deputy Mayor Donald, which went into much more detail regarding the many issues that constituents, employees of DDS, and advocates had shared with Grosso's office. You can view all three documents below. Councilmember Grosso will continue to monitor DDS and listen to complaints about the agency from constituents and advocates.
Today, Councilmember David Grosso issued the following statement on the recently announced $19.4 million settlement with the food service contractor for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS).
The schedule for upcoming budget hearings for the Committee on Education of the D.C. Council.
This morning Mayor Gray presented his his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 to the D.C. Council. Over the next month, Council committees will hold hearings on the budget, with opportunities for the public to testify, as well as hearing from government agencies. Here we present the presentation the Mayor made to the Council about the budget (a broad overview); the Budget Support Act (authorizing legislation that will be amended and eventually passed); and the Supplemental Budget Plan (re-allocation of funds for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014). Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions, including on Twitter!
Here is the Budget Support Act--it's big! It is subject to amendments and approval by the Council:
Here is the Supplemental Budget Plan--it outlines how the Mayor plans to re-allocate funds from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, to spend unspent funds and cover cost overruns.
The winter weather has decided to stick around a little while longer and as a result of the snow, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment rescheduled the performance oversight hearing of the Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) several times. Finally, on Friday, March 21, the hearing got underway, and ran for six hours.
Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC):
- In FY13, the BAC was unable to access the $10,000 budgeted for them due to a lack of clarity on the process to access the funds.
- Frequently, the BAC makes recommendations to DDOT as it relates to bike safety and infrastructure. BAC’s facilities committee is working to develop a mechanism to track their recommendations and whether or not DDOT has made progress to implement them. The BAC noted that there is still not strong follow-through on the part of DDOT.
Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC):
- In FY13, the PAC created the Enforcement & Education Committee as well as the Walking Environment Committee. These committees work to increase awareness around pedestrian safety.
- The PAC is continuing their efforts to advocate for more traffic control officers and expressed support for photo enforcement.
- The PAC still has concerns with the slow progress of DDOT on addressing sidewalk gaps.
District Dept. of Transportation (DDOT):
- For residents living within the District’s 68.3 square miles, parking can often be a challenge. DDOT is reviewing the District-wide residential parking program (RPP) and making changes to the wards that were re-districted, as well as updating their files. The review process is 95% complete.
- Wouldn’t it be nice to tweet confusing parking signage to DDOT and get a response immediately? Well Councilmember Grosso recommended this and DDOT explained that they currently receive pictures and complaints via Twitter and emails, as well as, receiving calls through 311. DDOT officials noted that there is a 311 mobile app that allows users to upload pictures, which are then submitted to DDOT’s work order management system and assigned a ticket number. DDOT continues to make improvements to streets signs, working block-by-block to fix confusing signage.
- Food truck advocates expressed that while few signs do exist for street vendors, more are needed and all signs should specify the times for which vendors can park. DDOT explained that the rollout of the Mobile Roadway Vending (MRV) locations has, overall, been good; however, they are trying to work out a few kinks. Specifically, DDOT explained that there is a challenge with creating permanent signage (currently they provide temporary signs) because once a permanent sign goes up, it is increasingly more difficult to go back and make any adjustments to them.
- Safety is always a priority and each year DDOT works to identify 50 dangerous intersection locations, a process that tends to take 2 years to address with the first year dedicated to design plans and the 2nd year devoted to construction. This year, DDOT is working to provide pavement markings, high visibility signs and more.
- More construction is on the way! Councilmember Grosso explained that the intersection located at 4th Street, Massachusetts Avenue and H Street NW is extremely dangerous and confusing. The Councilmember requested that a traffic control officer be placed at this location; however it won’t happen. DDOT expressed their concerns with this intersection but stated that in a few weeks massive construction will be taking place at this site. To assist residents with their daily commutes, DDOT stated that they will be able to produce some site maps informing residents of where major construction is taking place and offering alternative routes.
Councilmember Grosso's Opening Statement for the Finance & Revenue Oversight Hearing of the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities
When a city has a thriving arts community, it signals support for, and recognition of, the value that a creative economy brings to a city. A creative economy exists when the ideas of individuals generate public ideas, products, and services through financial assistance. A creative economy integrates multiple artistic and entrepreneurial disciplines. Investment in all stages of creation fosters innovative and artistic benefits for our homes, schools, offices, and streets.
To cultivate a creative economy, the government must play a larger role because while we have the funding, we lack the mechanisms to support the distribution of funds. Our city will have a thriving, artistically expressive, and vibrant community if it collectively supports all of the sectors that make up the creative economy. There are at least four steps we need to take in order to do this successfully:
- First, we need to have plans in place to fund the space where an artist works. This means funding for studios, living quarters, theater space, galleries, and public outdoor spaces that can house large installations.
- Second, we must cultivate relationships with new artists and maintain on-going relationships with established artists in the city. We must insist that art is present everywhere and in order to do this we must support the artists and musicians. We should be able to easily track the artists in our city and what projects they are working on and what support they need. There should be an identifiable connection between our community and the networks of artists in D.C.
- Third, we must support the institutions that are already serving our city and have been for decades. These theater companies and music and dance studios are already executing the production process. The support they need is with capital projects, infrastructure, and wrap around services in order to sustain their businesses. We should broaden our idea of what supporting the arts means and not only invest in the finished product, but also invest in what is necessary to sustain ongoing production.
- And lastly, we need to finance finished products. We have acres of government owned, unused or underutilized land throughout the city, particularly in neighborhoods that would greatly benefit from public art pieces. We need to be financing music, dance, and performing art schools so that all of our residents can access it, learn about it, and participate in it organically. Again, this should be the responsibility of the government and not the people of District.
In order to accomplish all of the categories that I mentioned, we need a strong, capable, and willing Commission that can think broadly about how we can create these opportunities and will take on the burden to grow the creative economy in the District. We need creative minds at the Commission, those who are thinking about ways to spend funds with vision and efficiency. If DCCAH can execute a strong plan then it will be in the position to be a recognized leader in how arts and humanities support should look. There is no reason why our jazz festival cannot compare to New Orleans’, our film festivals to Sundance, or our public art shows to Basel or the Biennale.
I am interested to hear the Commission’s plans for its future and to know what they are doing in the community. I look forward to the witness testimony and engaging with you in the discussions that follow it. Thank you.
In addition to posting our summaries of agency performance oversight hearings over the past weeks, we also want to share with you the follow-up oversight that happens in this process. After a hearing, Councilmembers often send letters to agencies with further questions. Here is Councilmember Grosso's letter to the D.C. Department of Employment Services, and the Office's response:
In addition to posting our summaries of agency performance oversight hearings over the past weeks, we also want to share with you the follow-up oversight that happens in this process. After a hearing, Councilmembers often send letters to agencies with further questions. Here is Councilmember Grosso's letter to the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, and the Office's response:
In addition to posting our summaries of agency performance oversight hearings over the past weeks, we also want to share with you the follow-up oversight that happens in this process. After a hearing, Councilmembers often send letters to agencies with further questions. Here is Councilmember Grosso's letter to the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, and the Office's response: