Back to legislation introduced in Council period 14
COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
At Work For A Better WashingtonThe Legislative Agenda for the Council of the District of Columbia
Council Period Fourteen
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword: Chairinan's Message
Producers: Office of the Chairman, Linda W. Cropp
Washington, DC is a success story. The District continues to make a dramatic comeback from the days when our municipal bonds were considered "junk" and we were financially "challenged" to meet certain basic municipal needs. In early 2001, the District celebrated a major boost in municipal bond status when three bond rating agencies increased DC bond ratings to investmentgrade4status. This means that investing in District projects is now more attractive and our money goes further.Today, we herald restored authority over our own fiscal affairs, with the end of the reign of the Financial Authority in September 2001. All this ranks as evidence of how well the city has done over the last few years. We have begun to restore the confidence not only of Wall Street, but on streets throughout the city as new housing development and housing renovation occurs, businesses move in and our neighborhoods begin to come back to life. Citizens once again take pride in their communities.
But we still have a long way to go. The economic development that has come to downtown has not fanned out to the neighborhoods evenly and many residents join the Council in waiting for the success to hit closer to home. Many of our poor, elderly and otherwise most vulnerable citizens need to be included in the economic boom the District's downtown is now experiencing.
Our concerns and our collective optimism about the future of the District were among the guiding principles that led to the Council's establishing the legislative priorities for Council Period 14, or the 2001-2002 legislative session. The Council came out of the annual legislative planning meeting with a commitment to promote fiscal discipline, further economic growth, continue and broaden services to those in need, tighten government oversight over service delivery and expand Home Rule. The Councilmembers identified, developed and discussed 64 legislative goals spanning seven broad categories. We promise to work diligently to meet these goals. Last term (1999-2000) we achieved almost 80% of the goals we set. This term, we have named nearly twice as many goals as last term and we have already begun to build on our success.
The District is on its way to becoming a much better place to work, visit, live, and raise a family. The Council is working to make a better Washington a reality. The thirteen members of the Council, though we may represent different sections of the city and different viewpoints, all agree that we are a part of a true success story in the making. It is our commitment to do the best job we can at enacting legislation and bringing to the table issues and concerns that impact our citizens. It is our pledge to continue to make the District a better and more safe place to live, work and partake of all the benefits and privileges offered to Americans throughout the nation.
Linda W. Cropp
Legislative Priorities/Council Goals
INVESTMENT IN YOUTH
PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE RESIDENTS
OVERSIGHT OF EXECUTIVE PERFORMANCE OF SERVICE DELIVERY
CONTINUED ECONOMIC STABILITY AND GROWTH
EXPANSION Of HOME RULE AND DEMOCRACY
Continue to define neighborhood stabilization strategies:
Maintain Office of Planning funds for neighborhood cluster planning, to achieve goal of linking particular neighborhood needs (e.g. public safety, public works, recreation, etc.) with identification of proposed capital improvements in budget process.
Work with National Capital Revitalization Corporation to prioritize neighborhoods in need of leveraged financial assistance.
Use Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to support neighborhoods:
Focus available TIF dollars towards neighborhoods. Support special assessment and business improvement districts for neighborhood-serving retail projects.
Strengthen neighborhood planning:
Continue to support rebuilt Office of Planning and neighborhood planning resources.
Explore structural and other changes necessary to ensure more comprehensive and efficient reviews of proposed development projects in neighborhoods, with special emphasis on improved coordination between Office of Planning review and transportation and environmental reviews.
Review proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and ward plans that grow out of neighborhood planning efforts.
Increase police presence:
Use budget and oversight to increase police presence in neighborhoods and strengthen Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) performance generally. Focus particular attention on homicide investigation and closure rate, the excessive use of overtime by members of the Department, and the Department's critical role in the investigation of child abuse and child fatalities.
Increase affordable housing for home ownership and rental:
Explore options to make rental housing and home ownership more affordable to more District residents. According to many statistics, DC currently ranks last among jurisdictions in homeownership. Just over 40% of DC residents own their own homes, compared with the national average of 66%.
Over the past few years, the Council's emphasis has been on restoring the delivery of basic Public Works services. While service delivery .functions have been restored, dedicated analytical support does not exist. Also, the Council supports the creation of Rapid Response Team in each ward to address emergency solid waste problems within the District. The duties of the team would be to provide an immediate and visible response to non-routine citizen requests such as trash dumping, minor tree limb removal, sign replacement and graffiti removal.
Improve the District's financial and accounting system:
The financial and accounting systems of the District need to be timely, accurate, and reliable. The Council will continue to work with the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Technology Officer to improve and implement the System of Accounting and Reporting (SOAR) and other accounting systems to ensure these systems function properly.
Ensure an independent Chief Financial Officer (CFO):
After four consecutive years of balanced budgets, the Financial Authority, by legislation, is dormant as of October I, 2001. The Council will work to pass legislation creating an independent CFO. This legislation will protect the independent judgement and the integrity of the financial accounting of the CFO while insuring the CFO is responsive to the needs and public policy goals of the Mayor, Council and the public.
Develop a reliable cash reserve:
The Council will continue to ensure that the District maintains an adequate and reliable cash reserve to meet its financial needs at all times. Monitoring the District's cash flow is a critical function that works in concert with the District's budget process. Monthly and quarterly accounting, and concurrent reports to the Council, are important to ensure sound financial management practices are followed.
Monitor the Chief Financial Officer's operations:
The Council remains committed to regular and rigorous oversight hearings with the CFO and agencies under his/her jurisdiction. These functions include the Office of Budget and Planning, the Office of Tax and Revenue, the Office of Research and Analysis, and the Office of Financial Operations and Systems.
Improve capital budget process and financing:
The Council will expand its committee/budget staff operation to insure proper oversight of capital budget operations.
Monitor compliance by agencies with the Single Audit Act:
The Committee will work with the CFO to monitor the single audits of the District agencies where significant federal grants or contracts are spent, in accordance with federal law, to ensure the funds are spent in a manner consistent with federal law and accepted accounting principles.
Improve educational and recreational facilities:
In order to provide holistic as well as adequate educational and extracurricular activities for District children that will address the intellectual, social and other needs of the child, there must be an environment conducive to learning, creativity and the sharing of ideas. The Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation is working with the public agencies to ensure development of long-range facilities plans that are viable and that support the collaboration of agencies.
Integrate Technology into education:
A resolution was introduced in 2000 that would establish the McKinley Technology Campus and Conference Center (MTCCC) on the 22acre grounds of the former McKinley Technical High School. Once open, the MTCCC will function as a state-of-the-art public school and vocational training center aimed at producing students for entry level jobs in the technology industry.
Monitor the District-based special education plan:
The need for providing special education services for District children increases every school year. A Council committee has established the State Education Office to provide recommendations for an increase in funding for the education of special needs children.
Develop initiatives to reform early childhood education:
The education of children should not begin during the elementary age level but at the preschool/prekindergarten level. The Council is committed to the development of an early childhood program that meets national accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education standards.
Enhance the budget for the after-school programs:
After-school programs provided by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DCPS) serve as a deterrent to delinquent behavior and provide a safe social environment for the city's youth.
Create a campus plan for the University of the District of Columbia:
The Council intends to monitor the expenditures and reprogramming requests of UDC in order to ensure that funding earmarked for specific capital projects is not used for operating functions and that the capital projects are actually executed according to the spending plans and time schedules.
Establish American Sign Language (ASL) as a school language credit:
The District has over 20,000 deaf and hard of hearing citizens-many of who use ASL as their primary language. Legislation currently before the Council would recognize American Sign Language as the modern language of choice for many deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing residents, and recognize American Sign Language as a foreign language course eligible for credit and satisfaction of a student's foreign language requirement.
Strengthen welfare-to-work initiatives:
Legislation to allow welfare-towork participants to take college level classes and other education courses that would apply towards work experience requirements is under consideration. Under such legislation, there would be a greater focus on preparing Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) clients for career tracked living wage employment. Efforts to move TANF clients into not only a job, but a way of life, in order to provide more stability and growth opportunities, will be considered.
Efforts must be undertaken to expand welfare-to-work initiatives by providing job training opportunities for individuals in various programs. One example would be to use individuals involved in welfare-to-work programs to help keep our city's gateways, business centers and neighborhoods clean. The Council believes that a clean city will attract more residents, businesses and visitors.
Expand day care hours and slots:
The Council will work to ensure that 100% of those eligible for subsidized day care receive those services as well as work to expand the number of licensed and subsidized day care slots available in the city.
Enhance the infrastructure budget for the health care delivery systems:
In expanding health insurance coverage to more District residents, the city must ensure the provision of high-quality health services on the grounds of DC General Hospital. Primary care must be a focus of the city. Also, there must be adequate trauma, critical care and beds for our insured and uninsured patients.
Strengthen services for the homeless population:
The Council will work to ensure better agency coordination of the provision of services to the homeless.
Fund Wellness Centers for Seniors:
The Council will continue to fund capital projects to include the design and construction for two new Senior Wellness Centers at locations yet to be determined.
Oversight of Executive Performance of Service Delivery
Mandate a plan for infrastructure needs:
It is the opinion of the Council that the District must obtain a centralized location for government facilities and for the storage of vehicles, equipment, asphalt, salt, an impoundment lot, Jersey barriers and a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver testing site. The Department of Public Works, DMV and other government agencies are facing relocation possibilities.
Use oversight and budget to improve performance in the Corporation Counsel's Office:
The Council intends to use the budget and oversight process to improve performance of the Corporation Counsel. Building on the work of the Appleseed Center, the Council will continue to monitor reforms proposed for the Office of Corporation Counsel, including oversight of the implementation of the Legal Services Act and Adoption of Safe Families Act reforms.
Create an effective adjudicatory process:
The Council intends to consider establishing a civil infractions adjudicatory court to consolidate all of the government's adjudicatory hearings under one unit of government.
Improve Procurement Operations:
The Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) represents a sustained commitment to a centralized and professional procurement structure, with the goal of preparing, monitoring and awarding contracts. The resulting centralization, training and professionalization have fostered the development and implementation of standards and common procedures for all procurement. Continued progress in procurement reform hinges on the independence of the OCP, with final authority over all hiring and firing decisions and appropriate budget support, as well as a fully functioning automated procurement system.
Continued Economic Stability and GrowthThe Council has set the following goals to meet this priority:
Review and define tax policy:
The Council will work with the Mayor and the CFO to guarantee that the District remains competitive both regionally and nationally as an attractive place for both businesses and residents to locate. In addition, we will continue to monitor the implementation of recent tax changes, such as the Tax Clarity Act and changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Council is especially interested in reviewing any impacts that recent changes in federal tax policy, namely the Restoring Earnings to Lift Individuals and Empowering Families (RELIEF) Act of 2001, which was signed into law by President Bush on June 7, 2001. The Committee is especially interested in working with the CFO to see what impact, if any, this new federal law will have on District finances and tax collections.
Review and approve regulations to improve Tax Incremental Financing:
The Council is committed to working with the Mayor and the CFO, to make this type of development financing more streamlined and functional, while making it a financially wise and prudent practice for the District to perform.
Monitor improvements to Gateways to the District:
The Council intends to conduct oversight hearings on proposed Gateway Improvements.
The Council will participate in efforts to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Review the triennial tax assessment:
With the District's decision to move back to a system of annual property tax inspections and assessments, the Council will remain active in performing oversight over property tax assessments, especially in light of the very strong housing market we are currently facing where housing values in some areas of the District have surged.
Enhance government energy conservation:
The Council will encourage the District government and regional bodies to use energy efficient alternative fueled vehicles, reduce energy consumption by 10% in all District government buildings and install energy efficient lighting fixtures whenever street lights or government building lighting fixtures are replaced.
Secure federal funding to enable a feasibility study for the New York Avenue corridor development project:
The New York Avenue corridor is one of the prime vehicular gateways to the District. Over time, however, the avenue has deteriorated both aesthetically and economically. Reversing this decline and bringing about the vibrant redevelopment of the corridor will not only help revitalize the nearby commercial and residential areas, but will also present a more welcoming and positive image of the District to both visitors and residents. Federal government involvement is crucial to the successful redevelopment of the New York Avenue corridor.
Review and monitor implementation of the District's comprehensive technology plan:
The mission of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer is to develop an "information technology legacy" for the District, supported by four primary objectives-to develop the District as the preeminent portal in the United States; to develop a Uniformed Communications Center which will serve as the center for the District's e-government; to establish a Urban Internet Village that will provide incubator space for start-up internet companies; and to fulfill the aspirations of the Mayor and Council to make McKinley Technical High School a first tier technology high school.
Streamline the regulatory process:
The Council will continue its work on nuisance abatement, electronic deregulation, a complete revision and enactment of the alcoholic beverage control law, protection from predatory lending law, and multiple insurance and securities legislation. In addition, the Council will be considering legislation to review the building codes, insurance and securities laws, banking and financial institution laws, and natural gas deregulation.
Advocate federal actions to address structural revenue barriers:
Under consideration by the Council is a plan to advocate restoration of fair and formula-based Federal payment to the District for services provided by DC to the Federal government and for costs incurred due to foregone property and income taxes and height restrictions.
The Council will support creative strategies, including new litigation and Charter amendments, to remove Congressional prohibition on taxing income at its source.
The Council will support Congresswoman Norton's proposal to divert to the District a portion of Federal taxes paid by Maryland and Virginia residents who work in the District.
The Council will seek Federal financial assistance for other state-like functions that no other municipality pays for alone.
Establish recycling government-wide:
Effective contract monitoring is the key element to ensure that the District gets what it pays for from private contractors. Historically, monitoring has been a weak link in the District's contracting efforts. In the area of recycling, DPW does not have the ability, using existing funds, to properly monitor the recycling contract. The Council recommends that a recycling contract monitoring team be established to ensure the contract is performing up to District standards, and that the government pay only for the service provided.
Expansion of Home Rule and DemocracyThe Council has set the following goals to meet this priority:
Support Charter provisions to enhance Home Rule and Democracy:
The Council intends to advocate for legislative and budget autonomy from Congress.
The Council intends to determine authorities currently held by the Financial Authority and not possessed by locally-elected officials which need to be transferred to increase accountability and performance.
The Council will advance creative strategies, including new litigation and Congressional legislation, to obtain Congressional voting rights and to remove prohibition on taxing nonresident income earned in the District.
Promote the election of an attorney General:
Currently, prosecutorial authority in the District is divided between the U.S. Attorney, appointed by the President, and the Corporation Counsel, appointed by the Mayor, with no one person answerable to the people for enforcing all District laws. If established, this new Office of the Attorney General, headed by an elected Attorney General, would supercede the powers and authorities of the current Office of the Corporation Counsel and become the chief legal officer in charge of all law matters of the District.
The Attorney General would be responsible for prosecuting all violations of DC laws and would be in charge of all civil actions by and against the District. In addition to assuming those powers and duties, the new office would assume additional responsibilities by becoming the chief representative for the District in local criminal justice matters.
Promote local appointment of judges:
The Council intends to review the Federal-District Criminal Justice/Judiciary Relationship. This includes legislation encompassing an elected Attorney General, legislation requesting that the Congress "return" control of the local judiciary to the District, and legislation requesting that the Congress revise the Charter to permit local selection of judges rather than Presidential appointment of judges.
Heighten voting rights and statehood:
The Council continues to support full voting rights and greater independence for the District. The newly formed Subcommittee on Labor, Voting Rights, and Redistricting intends to hold hearings on the issue of national representation and expanded Home Rule.
Fund and monitor implementation of new optical scanning voting machines:
The new optical scanning machines are being funded through a $1 million allocation in the FY 2001 capital budget at the Council's initiative. The ballots used in the system can be marked by pen or pencil, and can be designed in-house. Vote tallies can be immediately calculated and sent by modem to the Board's headquarters, allowing for faster reporting of results. The new machines have the capacity to recognize and "reject" an overvoted or blank ballot so that the voter can mark a new ballot properly and have his or her vote counted. Efforts to educate the public about the new machines will be critical as will regular monitoring to make sure that there are no unforeseen problems.
Monitor the implementation of electronic filing of campaign finance reports:
The comprehensive electronic filing system being implemented by the Office of Campaign Finance will allow for the direct electronic submission of financial reports via a webbased system, and will automatically apply the OCF processes used for disclosure and review of the reports. OCF will have the capability to receive, store and provide the public with real time disclosure data through the Internet. These technological advances will strengthen the ability of the OCF to execute its statutory responsibilities and to provide information to the public.
Reestablish the Wilson Building as the seat of local government:
During the District's financial constraints, the Council executed agreements with private developers to undertake renovation and restoration of the John A. Wilson Building, with private funds. The Wilson Building is formerly known as the District Building and is located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. The contract called for the lease of two-thirds of the building to the United States General Services Administration. With the District's financial recovery, the Council was able to negotiate a settlement which allows for the executive and legislative branches of government to occupy all of the building and reclaim the building as the seat of the District government.
Complete redistricting based on the decennial census:
Every ten years the Council is required to re-draw ward and ANC boundaries based on the decennial census. The Council has passed a proposal submitted by the Subcommittee on Labor, Voting Rights and Redistricting.
Strengthen Campaign Finance Laws:
The Campaign Finance Amendment Act of 2001, legislation in the Council, amends the Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act of 1974 to prohibit the use of District government resources to encourage individuals to support or oppose any candidate, initiative, referendum, or recall measure. The legislation prohibits the use of personal services of employees during their hours of work, and nonpersonal services such as supplies, materials, equipment, facilities, telephones and other utilities. Elected officials may express their views on elections as part of their official duties which do not involve the expenditure of District funds or use of District resources.
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