May 19, 2020
Officers Present: Dan Schramm, Helen LaCroix, Terence Hardy, Renè McCray, Kathy Jacquart
Dan: Let’s get started. Thank you for joining us. I see many familiar faces, and that is awesome. We have officers on the line, Rene, Terence, Kathy, Helen, and Fred.
Hello to all members and attendees.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day for the meeting. Teleworking seems to take up time. This meeting is about staying connected…it’s important to continue to meet and discuss what’s happening in our neighborhood, to continue to bring a sense of community to the Brookland neighborhood.
For our agenda today we have a couple of items on which we wanted to take some votes. I teed these up last meeting, and sent some emails flagging these items. There should be time to discuss and then have a quick vote. We should also have guests from the Board of Elections on how to vote remotely, what the options are, and to answer questions. I have a question, which is what happened to my ballot–I requested it but haven’t received it. But first I’ll turn it over to our Treasurer Terence for his report.
Nolan: Dan, first, real quick: You can track your ballot online: https://www.dcboe.org/Voters/Absentee-Voting/Track-Absentee-Ballot
Dan: Thanks Nolan.
Terence: Thanks Dan. Here’s my Treasurer’s report for May reflecting activity for April. Our beginning balance was $4688.52. We had some membership dues deposited thru PayPal, and one through our PO Box. Our income for April was $783.22. Our expenses included some fees for renewals, such as our PO Box for $216, and BRA-25 Nonprofit corp renewal fee for $80. I paid with my credit card and reimbursed myself, and we donated $1,100 to Pathways to Housing. $1396 in expenses, which left us with a $4086.74 ending balance. I hereby move to submit the report to membership for approval. I also want to quickly note that the paper statement fee is now gone.
Dan: It’s a bittersweet moment. Is anyone opposed to accepting the treasurers’ report? I should note, we voted last meeting to conduct business remotely and that was passed unanimously. Voting is limited to members who are in good standing. We voted last time by voting in the chat window in Zoom. Since there are no objections we can call this vote passed.
Dan: We’re trying to raise $5,000 for Pathways to Housing based in Brookland. I did send one note out to members to remind them but plan to shut down the fundraiser in the next few days. If you are intending to give please do take a moment to do that. Also my wife has been making and donating masks and with the value of her mask donations taken into account that amounts to over $5,000 so we did make our goal.
Dan: Let’s move to CARES act and BNCA’s resolution on that. Congress decided not to give DC the amount of funding it would receive if it were a state which has been the practice for many years, but instead fund at the level of a territory that didn’t pay taxes. About $750m that city lost. Anne Anderson, longtime members, shared a letter about this.
Anne: In fact, the Heroes Act that just passed the House has made us whole. To get into the weeds, DC has been designated to be included on any funds that go to counties, municipalities, states, counted in three ways. Only entities that manage elections are counties all over the country. We needed to be a county because the Heroes act has funding to support elections. Passed the house. Now in the Senate and we’re having trouble passing the Senate. Real issue is getting through the Senate. So we should be getting people in states with Senators to tell their Senators they really need to pass the bill as it was passed by House. Our resolution is appropriate but we need to just send it to the Senate.
Dan: Very useful update.
Renè: Are there other avenues that the Council would consider to get additional funding? I heard we got additional funding for WMATA but what else?
Zachary Parker: It’s very much a work in progress. Still requires bipartisan support.
Nolan: I don’t have much more insight. Mayor continues to advocate on the Hill. Not much firm to report.
Anne: Under this law, DC being treated as state, county, municipality, will be required in all future bills for COVID-19 funding. It’ll be a big deal if we can get it through the Senate.
Dan: Our resolution would be targeted to treatment of DC and funding of DC. I can amend it to reflect the latest information about the Heroes act and encourage the Senate to pass the Heroes act with language saying that House language should stand.
Helen: I move that we adopt the resolution.
Motion passed unanimously in chat.
Dan: I’ll get it amended and sent out to the relevant representatives. Sounds like what we could all be doing is being in contact with folks in states with representation to get them to support us. That’s a tactic endorsed by DC statehood folks.
For the next item we’ll take up the item from the last meeting relating to full funding for birth-to-3 legislation in DC. We had some discussion on this last month to set the stage. Zachary Parker, the representative on the School Board for Ward 5, asked us to support this effort to fund the bill. He gave us some draft language which has been used by other groups. We talked about the substance of the issue and what this is about for funding–legislation has been passed, this is about getting money from the Council, we talked about how the city is going into tough budget season, and whether this affects this priority, and we talked about how this is an important issue for the City, providing resources for younger generation. People were generally supportive but reluctant to vote without reviewing the text of the resolution. Our board reviewed it at our meeting and feel it’s worth supporting.
ZP: Thank Dan, you did a great job of framing this discussion. The Mayor released her proposed budget yesterday. The birth-to-three Legislation passed council unanimously, speaks to the importance of the matter at hand. It speaks to the significance of early childhood for setting the stage later in life. I’ll also share some education highlights from the Mayor’s budget. There’s a $75m allocation for early childhood education. $64m to renovate Browne Education Campus and build an early childhood center, $3.5m for Bunker Hill to create an early childhood center, $29.8m for renovation of Burroughs and to build an early childhood development center, and other funds for early childhood centers at Langdon and Wheatley campuses. (See also: Mayor Muriel Bowser’s FY 2021 Proposed Budget – Ward 5 Investments) As you know the budget now goes to the Council, we can double down and demand that the youngest DC residents have health and educational supports they need. CM McDuffie supported and included EC in his priorities and your resolution will be a signal that Brookland neighbors stand behind him.
DS: How does $75m compare to what you sought in previous years?
ZP: I will need to follow up with you to get a better answer–at a high level, it will provide more seats, but will keep things flat for the city in terms of services. There isn’t a significant amount of money put into a reimbursement program so low income families can get access to those services. I can get back to you in a week to let you know how this budget addresses early childhood.
Dan: Thanks Zachary. Nolan, do you want to add anything about the Mayor’s budget?
NT: I have no additional insight. It was released yesterday and we’re still reviewing.
ZP: it’s a welcome investment, advocates are thrilled, but there’s more that can be done.
AA: glad there will be space but how do you fill it with teachers and programs and so forth? That’s the kind of funding we’d need.
ZP: Great point. Ward 5 has about 2500 kids on a waitlist for EC programs. No challenge in filling seats but how do we get qualified teachers in those schools? That’s a great question and top of mind for advocates as well.
DS: Is there anything in the draft resolution that needs to be updated?
ZP: It stands as written — we should push as much as possible to get full funding, crisis notwithstanding. Mayor made a promise to increase per pupil funding by 4% and she did it to 4% and that deserves applause, but people still are pushing for more. For example, there’s “at risk weight funding”– for kids classified as “at risk” (lowest income, learning disability)–schools get added weight in the funding formula. That hasn’t moved and advocates are pushing for that to be increased. Also mental health supports including counselors and therapists, and nurses and technology. Pandemic showed us we’re unprepared to deal with virtual learning. We want to make sure every kid has access to a laptop and WiFi.
RM: Kids are so adapted to using phones they’re not computer literate, they don’t have computing skills.
ZP: Yes, great point.
DS: I heard a motion to move this to a vote. Seconded. No opposition.
We’ll vote again in the chat function. Motion passes unanimously.
Dan: I’m open to ideas on positions we want to take related to budget. In past years we have emphasized funding for DDOT, street improvements, ONSE and public safety. I haven’t had time to look at what’s in the budget, don’t know where there’s more that needs to be done, I haven’t really engaged, you are all encouraged to share thoughts.
Fred: I talked to my neighbors with teenagers. Programming for teenagers would be a topic–making sure we can put in place activities for kids who may not have parents, so they don’t stray. Would be great to expand beyond ONSE and Cure the Streets. Nolan, do you have any ideas on opportunities for teenagers in the community?
NT: CM McDuffie will be advocating on violence interruption, we’re sifting through that. Mayor will be providing an update on the Summer Youth Employment program on Friday. It’s worth having a conversation in the community about what we can do.
DS: I know CM and his staff will be looking at this closely, and if you see things you need community support on, like last year we weighed in on NEAR act, let us know.
NT: I will do that.
AA: Back in 1999 I worked with CCF in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. The Government organized young people to go around with chlorine tablets to stop cholera. Maybe there are ways to give young people things to do that would help in terms of the pandemic. The US is different with liability issues that aren’t there in Honduras but I would encourage people to think about how to help young people help us.
DS: City suspended community services requirements for graduation which is the opposite direction.
ZP: Yes, so as not to interfere with graduation requirements, which I think was the right thing to do. I’m glad the Mayor’s funding Marion Barry’s youth employment program.
Helen: what if we married public health messaging and violence interruption–public health corps to do the messaging and encourage social distancing.
Dan: Ok, great. Do we have our representatives on the line from the Board of Elections?
Anthony Hales: I’m from the DC Board of Elections, our rep was supposed to join but there was a scheduling issue. I’ll send over their slides and please to share any questions, we’re running around to a lot of meetings. We’ve been working with the Board to encourage people to request mail-in ballots, you have May 26th to make your request. There will be vote centers to vote in person but you can also call to request a mail-in ballot or send a written note, or fill out the form online. There are six ways to request a ballot and three ways to vote. Please email questions and I’ll get them answered. Currently the office is closed to the public, but you can still request a ballot. We’re trying to protect everyone, keep folks safe.
Dan: Typically there are 140 vote centers?
Anthony: Yes, we have much reduced capacity for in person voting and are encouraging people to vote by mail if at all possible.
Dan: I’ve been posting this information frequently through list servs etc.
Anthony: We’re also holding a public webinar every Wednesday at 10:30 if people want to ask questions of staff.
DS: Someone shared a link to track your ballot. How worried should I be if my ballot doesn’t show up?
Anthony: It’s coming, be aware that the Postal Service is slow. Your ballot has up to a week after election to arrive to be counted.
DS: what if it got lost in mail?
Anthony: I’ll have to follow up on that.
DS: Thank you for joining. Community announcements:
DS: Next Weds at 5 pm we’ll do a showcase of the Brookland Intergenerational Oral History project. We have been collaborating with Brookland Middle Schooland Woodridge Library for the last year. We had 10 middle schoolers sit down with older residents and kids did oral history interviews with community members. This originated with the Right to the City exhibit at the Anacostia Museum. The coronavirus blew up our capstone project. Instead we’re going to get 5-6 students to share what they learned from the project, tell a few stories, community members and librarians there, and curator from Anacostia Museum to provide closing remarks. Should be a fun event. Zoom info in email newsletter.
NT: Council continues to pass covid response, today requiring utilities to do repayment plans, shutoffs are prohibited but we don’t want people stuck having to pay lump sums. Dan had an update email on the Comprehensive Plan –the Mayor sent that down and it’s with Council. Expectation of significant engagement on that. Focus on the budget now and turn to the Comp Plan later since it will be a big undertaking. Mayor will be updating us Friday on plans for the summer. The data is trending in a good way for 9 days but we want 14 days of good days. Last 20 years of doing pretty well with the DC govt, we have hefty reserves to call on –there’s some cushion to move forward yet and there’s not yet draconian cuts. Council will be having hearings and there will be engaging. Each Committee will hold hearings via Zoom where the public can testify. And the government’s testimony will be on a different call. Also transcription line– you can call in and state your piece and it gets transcribed and read into the record.
The goal is that the budget will be passed in July and the Council goes on recess in August.
Fred: will DC govt officials be going back to offices in June?
NT: I don’t think so but I don’t know for sure. 60% of DC govt workforce telecommuting now. Won’t be a flip of the switch–more of a slow return to normal.
DS: Brian McClure is legislative director for the CM, correct?
NT: Correct, yes. I copied and pasted blurb from the BNCA newsletter and sent it to him so he can get up to speed on your positions.
DS: There’s a couple things BNCA is concerned about–Brookland Green and development around RIA and tracks. Let Brian know we’ll be planning to set up something with him pretty soon to start talking about this.
NT: will do.
Ra: ANC 5B will be meeting on 5/27 at 6:30 p.m. via WebEx. Presenter will be the Director from the Mayor’s Office to speak about the budget. I’m in conversation with Malik to know which Director we get. May be Jeff Maroootian from DDOT. 4/30 approval of Slowe Diggs house 1256 Kearny St. historic designation. I sat through a review and the great presentation about Lucy Slow Diggs and her partner. Would love to get that presentation out to the public. We could work together to do a presentation in person. Within the smaller community GBIV and Brookland Traditional Schools formed a partnership to bring aspects of community together–bring youth, family, and elders together, receiving and giving service. Neighbors are concerned that Noyes Park isn’t open for community gardens. As I see it we’re a park first before a community garden. I didn’t respond and waited for officials responsible to respond but that hasn’t happened yet. I want to get feedback on the idea that if you have a plot you should get a special pass or key.
Kathy: The community gardens at Turkey Thicket are open. TT track is closed. Don’t know if it’s officially open or not.
HL: we should follow rules, if the city is shutting stuff down for our benefit, follow the rules.
Ra: what would the response be if people climbed the fence to play ball?
DS: it’s public land, it’s in the public interest. If I had a plot I’d be annoyed but I can see the logic of shutting down.
DS: Committee of 100 has submitted a letter to Council urging them not to take up Comprehensive Plan during a pandemic or until we have a better sense of what pandemic might mean for pace of growth, employment, revenue changes. Makes the case for Council not taking up CP at this juncture.
Rachel is here from the Board of Elections.
Rachel: My sincerest apologies for being late. I’m a public information officer for the Board. We’ve been doing community meetings a couple of times a night and our scheduling got messed up. I joined late because I want to make myself available to answer questions
Dan: What happens if you request a ballot and it doesn’t come?
Rachel: Please call our office at 202-741-5283. The deadline for your request is May 26. You don’t even have to sign the form. If you vote in person we’re making adjustments like allowing 10 voters in at a time max, cleaning polling equipment between use, requiring masks and handing them out to those who don’t have them.
Ballots need to be postmarked on or before Election Day but will counted until June 12. Vote in person starting Friday. 8:30 a.m. to 7. Please email me at email@example.com if you have questions.
Dan: Thanks everyone for joining. The meeting is adjourned.