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Most of us in Ward 3 are fortunate to have a happy Thanksgiving to look forward to. Sadly, there are many District residents who do not. As we begin this holiday season, let’s remember them and their families as we spend time and make memories with ours. I encourage you to volunteer your time or donate in other ways during this festive period.
Also, if you are traveling to see your families and loved ones, please be cautious on the roads. DDOT is predicting heavy traffic patterns, as usual, during this week. I want all of my neighbors and fellow Washingtonians to remain safe and enjoy a beautiful season.
D1 Morning Service Unchanged
Last month, I testified before the WMATA board on the importance of certain bus lines in Northwest D.C. The board was considering several cuts to service throughout Ward 3 specifically, including the morning D1 route and the late night D2 route. As many of our neighbors know, WMATA’s proposed cuts to the D1 route would have caused delays and crowding during the morning rush hour period. Last week, Metro let me know that the D1 will continue to operate each morning, running between Glover Park and the Federal Triangle Metro Station. Unfortunately, however, WMATA did cut the late night D2 service, which operated after 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Many of you followed with great interest the debate surrounding the taxation of municipal bonds. Thankfully, I was able to secure a grandfather for all out-of-state municipal bonds purchased before January 1, 2012. The change in the law, though, has prompted many questions about how it will be administered and how will affect individual holdings. At my urging, the Office of Tax and Revenue has compiled a Question & Answer sheet that addresses many of these concerns. It can be found here.
EPA Honors D.C. with Green Power Community of the Year Award
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded its 2011 Green Power Leadership Award to the District of Columbia. The annual award recognizes the country’s leading green power users for their commitment to advancing the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market. The EPA presented the District with the Green Power Community of the Year award on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, in conjunction with the 2011 Renewable Energy Markets Conference being held in San Francisco.
The District is one of only two communities nationwide to receive a Leadership Award for the collective green power purchases by residents, institutions, businesses, and local government. D.C. is currently using more than 772 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough green power to meet 8 percent of the community’s electricity use. Green Power Communities (GPCs) distinguish themselves through their green power usage, leadership, citizen engagement, renewable energy strategy, and impact on the green power market. Washington is the largest GPC in the country. As Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation, I could not be prouder of this honor.
Ticket Amnesty is Still Available
Residents with unpaid tickets, parking and otherwise, may still take advantage of the ticket amnesty program. Ticket amnesty is a temporary program that allows customers to pay outstanding tickets issued prior to January 1, 2010 without paying the penalty that has been assessed on the ticket. The program will end January 27, 2012. Residents can pay their amnesty tickets online at www.dmv.dc.gov , over the phone (866-893-5023) or in person at DMV Adjudication Services, located at 301 C Street, NW, Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The city is seeking your suggestions on how to make Washington more sustainable. Sustainable DC offers a convenient way for residents to submit ideas and vote on the initiatives that they want to see most. So far, these include removing non-recyclable plastics from restaurants, converting the lots around RFK stadium into public athletic fields, and, my personal favorite, getting more locally-grown food into D.C. schools. To submit your idea and vote, visit green.dc.gov.
Consumer Protection Amendment Act of 2011
After working with the National Consumers League and other groups for several months, I introduced the Consumer Protection Amendment Act of 2011 at last Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. This bill will address two significant issues.
The first deals with the private right of action that currently exists in the District’s consumer protection statute. The current Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which grants individuals the right to bring a suit against alleged consumer protection violations, has ambiguous language. This bill would clarify it, affirming the Council’s desire to empower individuals to bring suit against fraudulent consumer practices.
The second portion of the bill would create a unit pricing law in the District. Unit pricing allows consumers to make informed decisions about the products they see in retail stores. Though many stores have proactively decided to provide this helpful information, the District lacks uniform standards. Clear and accurate information helps consumers make buying decisions and finding the product that’s right for them easier.
Please check my website www.marycheh.com for additional information on the status of this bill as it moves through the legislative process.
Upcoming Hearing on ANC Boundaries Act
Councilmember Michael Brown and Councilmember Jack Evans, Co-Chairpersons of the Subcommittee on Redistricting, will hold a public hearing on B19-528, the “Advisory Neighborhood Commissions Boundaries Act of 2011”. The public hearing will be held on November 29, 2011, at 10 a.m., in the Council Chamber (Room 500) of the John A. Wilson Building. Please note that the submitted recommendations of each ward task force are available on the Council website under the Subcommittee on Redistricting tab. Those who wish to testify should contact Carol Sadler at (202) 724-8198 or
, and provide your name, organizational affiliation, and title of organization by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 28, 2011.
The District Debt Recovery Act of 2011
Earlier this year, I introduced the District Debt Recovery Act of 2011, or B19-008. B19-008 would grant authority to the Mayor to improve and centralize the efficiency of ticket collection as well as require an annual report on debt collection activities. This bill will come to a vote by the Council on Tuesday, December 6th at the Council’s monthly legislative meeting.
Ensuring that fines are collected is an important aspect of ensuring that the law and regulations issued pursuant to the law are followed. The District needs considerable improvement in ensuring that outstanding fines are paid.
The District government lacks a centralized collections system which causes multiple agencies to share responsibility for collecting a single ticket. Many agencies involved in this process often lack interest, staff, and expertise in collecting unpaid fines and do not see it as a core duty of their agency. Consequently, a substantial number of fines go unpaid each year. The District government is owed more than $235 million from unpaid parking tickets issued between FY 2006 and FY 2010. Some agencies collect as little as one third of the millions of dollars in fines they issue each year and have no staff assigned to seek payment from debtors. In total, the District is owed hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected fines. I believe that this bill can change that.
As promised, I will keep you abreast of the latest developments via this update, my Twitter feed, and my Facebook page.
Friends of the National Zoo invites you to attend ZooLights, powered by Pepco, at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. ZooLights starts this Friday, November 25, 2011 and is open the weekends of November 25-27, December 2-4, and December 9-11. In addition, the event will take place each night beginning December 16th through January 1st (except December 24, 25, and 31), from 5 - 9 p.m. Guests will enjoy twinkling LED holiday lights, animal sculptures, and musical entertainment from the area's talented youth, as well as access to view the Zoo's animals at night. Entrance to the event is free.