I hope you had a wonderful and festive holiday season and wish you many more in future years. I personally enjoyed spending time with the many community organizations, business associations, schools, and religious celebrations during the season. Among the highlights was the Mayor’s Annual Senior Holiday Party at the DC Armory with 3,000 of our elder residents.
The 2015 New Year begins with many exciting changes and opportunities. Muriel Bowser promises a fresh start as our 7th elected Mayor. Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Charles Allen (D- Ward 6) update the Council’s perspective.
On January 2, following the Inauguration ceremony, the council met and approved the assignments of committee chairmanships and standard operating rules. I was selected to chair the Committee on Housing and Community Development. The newly created committee is a clear indication by the Council to address the District’s housing affordability crisis. Whether one is very low-income, homeless or middle class, the high cost of rent makes housing unaffordable and middle class homeownership almost unobtainable in most DC neighborhoods where the median home sales price exceeds $700,000.
As many already know, I’ve spent the better part of my adult life advocating for justice and equality, working to uplift communities and ensuring that all people regardless of their age, race, identity, sexual orientation or religious beliefs have an equal opportunity to succeed. I hold these tenets dear and will adhere to them as your chair of the new committee. For the past year, I’ve been hosting a working groups comprised of tenant associations, developers and owners, landlords, government officials, affordable housing advocates, ANC’s, realtors and bankers to ensure that the numerous aspects challenges of housing affordability are met. I believe that working together, we will make an impact.
On January 2, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Muriel Bowser was officially sworn-in as the seventh elected Mayor of the District of Columbia. Preceding her ceremony and remarks, swearing-in ceremonies were held for the District’s first elected Attorney General Karl Racine, followed by Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, At-Large Councilmembers Anita Bonds and Elissa Silverman, and Chairman of the Council Phil Mendelson.
Sons, Michael Bonds and A. Colin Bonds, and grandson Ian Bonds joined Councilmember Bonds on stage while the Honorable Inez Smith Reid, District of Columbia Court of Appeals Senior Judge, administered the oath of office.
Distinguished guest from across the region in attendance included Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Alexandria Mayor William Euille, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former Mayors Adrian Fenty and Anthony Williams and several past and present councilmembers and government officials.
Later that afternoon, elected officials administered the oath of office to our elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners.
INAUGURATION OPEN HOUSE
Over 125 guests attended Councilmember Bonds at her Inaugural Open House following the ceremonies. The guests celebrated the councilmember’s first full term as an At-Large member of the council and toured her new offices located in Suite 110 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Councilmember Bonds joined residents from across all 8 Wards in celebration of the Inauguration of Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Ballroom featured entertainment by Shelia E. and Dc’s own award winning rap artist Wale was in attendance.
During the January 6, 2015 Legislative Meeting, Councilmember Anita Bonds co-introduced the following legislation.
- B21-0006 “Healthy Hearts of Babies Act of 2015” The bill will require hospitals and maternity centers to perform critical congenital heart defect screenings on newborns prior to discharge.
- B21-0016 “Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act of 2015” This bill repeals the current prohibition and penalties for surrogacy agreements and sets up parameters designed to ensure that the legal status of all parties, especially the child, is adequately protected.
- B21-0004 “Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2015” The bill will allow bicyclists, pedestrians, or other non-motorized users involved in a collision with a motor vehicle to sue in court for recovery unless the plaintiff’s negligence is the cause of the injury or if the negligence is greater than the total amount of negligence of all the defendants.
- B21-0014 “Council Contract Review Repeal Act of 2015” The bill will eliminate the Council’s ability to review and approve all Mayoral contracts.
- B21-0001 “Pre-K Student Discipline Amendment Act of 2015” The amendment will prohibit the suspension or expulsion of a student of pre-kindergarten age from any publicly funded pre-K program and will establish expulsion and suspension reporting requirements for each local education agency.
- B21-0025 “Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Act of 2015” The bill will prohibit the employer from testing potential employees for marijuana use during the hiring process, unless otherwise required by law.
- B21-0021 “Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015” The amendment will increase the fines applicable to distracted driving, phoning or texting while driving and provides language that would suspend the license of frequent offenders.
Also, during the January 6 Legislative Meeting, Councilmember Anita Bonds co-sponsored the following pieces of legislation.
- B21-0010 “Fairness in Public Engagement During Sale of Public Lands Amendment Act of 2015” The amendment would require a public hearing in all affected communities preceding the surplus or disposition of District-owned lands.
- B21-0020 “Access to Contraceptives Amendment Act of 2015” The amendment will require that a health benefits plan authorize the dispensing of up to 12 months of women’s prescription for contraception at once.
- B21-0017, “Unemployment Profile Act of 2015” The bill will require the District Department of Employment Services (DOES) to produce and submit a complete profile of unemployed and underemployed residents to aid the district in providing adequate job training for future jobs by 2017.
- B21-0011 “High Technology Investment Authority Establishment Act of 2014” The bill will establish a High Technology Investment Authority to invest in and coordinate the growth of tech sector businesses in the District of Columbia.
- B21-0013 “Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption Act of 2015” The bill will provide a veteran classified as having a total or permanent disability or who is paid at the 100% disability level to be exempt from a portion of property tax.
- B21-0010 “Pennsylvania Avenue Development Act of 2015” The bill would establish the District Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation to oversee and guide the development of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Area, establish a Board of Directors and a development fund, to authorize rule making.
- B21-0003 “Rail Safety and Security Amendment Act of 2015” The bill would provide the State Safety Office within FEMS with the authority to carry out rail safety inspection activities and coordinate with the state safety office of any state with a rail system that operates in the District. It would also establish an Office of Civil Defense, and for other purposes require the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency to receive and review rail transportation security plans.
1st Legislative Meeting of Period 21 of the Council of the District of Columbia.
Announcements & Community Updates
We’ve seen some brutal cold temperatures. Be aware of these facts to keep prepared and survive the cold.
Information About Cold Emergency Alerts
A Cold Emergency Alert is called when the temperature falls, or is forecasted to fall, to 15˚F or below including wind chill, or 20˚F, including wind chill, and one or more of the following conditions exists:
- Steady precipitation for 60 consecutive minutes
- Snow accumulation of 3 inches or more
- Other meteorological conditions or threats as determined by HSEMA
Under a Cold Emergency, additional services and supports are put in place to protect homeless residents beyond what is provided in the Winter Plan during a Hypothermia Alert. These additional measures are put in place to ensure all residents, workers and visitors are protected from extreme cold weather to prevent illness, injury, and death.
To request support for DC residents who are homeless and on the street now, contact the Shelter Hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 399-7093, 211, or 1(800) 535-7252 (for toll-free calls from a pay phone).
Pets should be brought indoors during hypothermia alerts and extreme cold weather. To report cruelty, neglect, and animal emergencies 24 hours a day, call the Washington Humane Society at (202) 723-5730.
Tips to Prevent Cold Related Illness
The best way to prevent hypothermia and frostbite is to stay inside. If you must go outside, here are some tips to stay warm and frostbite-free.
PREVENTING HYPOTHERMIA AND FROSTBITE
- Wear layers of loose, warm clothes; wool is best.
- Wear mittens (they are better than gloves) a hat that covers your ears, and well-fitting, waterproof boots.
- If you are outside, cover your mouth to protect your lungs from the extreme cold. Do your best to stay out of the wind.
- Keepdry.Changewet clothingfrequently toprevent a loss of body heat.Wetclothingloses all of itsinsulatingvalueand transmitsheatrapidly.
- Do not put dry feet and socks into wet boots. If dry boots are not available, put on clean, dry socks, and then slip a plastic grocery or trash bag over socks before placing feet into wet boots.
- Don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages or smoke cigarettes.
- Avoid taking the young and old outside in extreme cold. They are most susceptible to the cold.
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition occurring when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees (95°F). It occurs most commonly outdoors in sub-freezing weather.
What are the signs of hypothermia?
Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, confusion, disorientation, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion, slurred speech and fumbling hands. Hypothermia affects the brain, leaving the person unable to think clearly and move easily. The body becomes too cold to function normally. Those affected may not be aware of their condition or be able to do something about it.
How is hypothermia treated?
If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, call 911 immediately (time is very important). Get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first. You may apply warm first-aid compresses to the groin, arm pits and neck only, but be careful not to cause burns. Cover the person with blankets and put a cap or towel on their head until help arrives. Keep the person immobile and quiet with their feet slightly elevated. If the person is conscious and alert, give them small quantities of warm sweet liquids, broth or food. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages. If the person is not breathing and has no pulse, cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be attempted until paramedics arrive.
More cold-related information is on dhs.dc.gov and via @DCHypothermia and @DC_HSEMA
CARING FOR PETS IN COLD WEATHER
TIPS FOR CARING FOR PETS
- Don’t leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision.
- Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.
- No matter what the temperature, wind-chill can threaten a pet’s life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If your dog is an outdoor dog, however, he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
- Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
- Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, which may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
- The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.
- Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze- coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
- Always have a winter disaster plan in place for you, your family and your pets.
DOH may set up one or more emergency animal shelters at designated locations in the District. Additional pet safety information can be accessed through http://doh.dc.gov/page/pet-sheltering.