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Government and People
December 6, 2011
The Honorable Kwame R. Brown
Dear Chairman Brown:
I write to communicate the Administration's position on legislation that will be before the Council for vote at the December 6, 2011 Legislative Meeting.
There are several measures for which I request the Council's support. I strongly urge the Council to consider the following:
"Workforce Intermediary Establishment and Reform of First Source Amendment Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to approve the Workforce Intermediary Establishment and Reform of First Source Amendment Act of 2011. As I said in my November 1st letter, you and Councilmember Michael Brown have crafted a strong bill that will give the District the tools necessary to ensure that the money we are spending in economic development projects across the city also gives our residents priority in hiring on those same projects. This is a common sense bill that will put District residents to work, improving their economic opportunities and increasing the District's tax base
I am aware that Councilmember Michael Brown intends to introduce an amendment in the nature of a substitute making largely technical changes to the bill, but also modifying three sections that will increase the bill's effectiveness. I urge the Council to adopt his amendment in the nature of a substitute without alteration. I am also aware that Councilmember Orange intends to offer an amendment that would reduce the number of infractions needed for debarment as well as the time period in which those infractions could occur. While I support the Councilmember's intention to ensure compliance, I believe the bill provides a better method for that utilizing multiple tools such as pro-rated fine and preference points during the bid process for past compliance in combination with debarment as it stands in the bill. As such, I do not support Councilmember Orange's amendment."William O'Neal Lockridge Memorial Library Designation Act of 2011"
I continue to urge the Council to approve this legislation to designate the Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library, in Ward 8, as the "William O'Neal Lockridge Memorial Library." Furthermore, I understand the Council may consider including an official Bellevue neighborhood designation, in conjunction with the designation for Mr. Lockridge, at this site. I would support this option, as well.
"Oak Hill Conservation Easement Approval Temporary Act of 2011"
I continue to urge the Council to approve this legislation. The Council approved the emergency version of this legislation at the November 1, 2011 Legislative Meeting. It is necessary to authorize the conveyance, to a non-profit conservation group, of a conservation easement for over 250 acres of undevelopable land. This land is adjacent to wetlands that are part of the 827 acre Oak Hill site in Laurel Maryland, and the proposed conveyance is pursuant to a 2010 settlement agreement between the District government and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the District does not allow this easement, we will be subject to nearly $ 1 million in fines and penalties associated with storage tank violations previously cited by EPA against the District government.
"Economic Development Special Account Revival Temporary Act of 2011"
I continue to urge the Council to approve this legislation. The Council approved the emergency version of this legislation at the November 1, 2011 Legislative Meeting. It is necessary to restore the Economic Development Special Account, which was originally established to receive assets transferred from AWC and NCRC to the District. Although the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Act abolished this Special Account, and many other O-type accounts, with the goal of sweeping any balances into the General Fund, it was recently realized that this particular Special Account currently includes approximately $2.5 million in funding for various economic development programs and initiatives, including funding for 20 of the 56 FTE positions within Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development ("DMPED"), the dollars for which are actually accounted for in the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget and Financial Plan. The Special Account also includes a sub-account that regulates the receipt and expenditure of the federal Community Development Block Grant funds subject to HUD reporting requirements.
The Special Account also includes DMPED's existing grant-making authority. Although the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Act abolished this Special Account, the CFO has not yet administratively implemented this abolishment.
"Captive Insurance Company Amendment Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the Captive Insurance Company Amendment Act of 2011. This legislation amends several sections of the D.C. Code to bring the District into compliance with National Association of Insurance Commissioners accreditation standards for risk retention captive insurers, which underwrite the business risks of subsidiaries to parent companies. Each of the laws, individually and collectively, will provide the Commissioner with the tools to regulate risk retention groups in the District more rigorously and more effectively.
"Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to approve the Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011. As you are aware, enacting establishment legislation for the Health Insurance Exchange is an important milestone for Health Care Reform which the District is poised to meet through the Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011. In support of this effort, I formed the Health Reform Implementation Committee in May 2011. My charge to this Committee was to develop a series of recommendations to inform the policy deliberations around heath care reform in the District and I received their first report on the governance for the Exchange in October 2011.
This legislation, which sets the governance framework for the Exchange, is consistent with many of the recommendations from the Health Reform Implementation Committee, which I strongly support. Notably, it is very important that the Executive Board be configured in such a way that its members be free from any conflict in the conduct of the business for the Exchange, that the role of advisory boards be limited to that of advice and recommendations, and that the Board possess the authority to make decisions to ensure the system's sustainability - including the discretion to limit the number of health plans with access to the Exchange.
In the coming months, the Health Reform Implementation Committee will complete its work on the financing requirements of the Exchange. While it is anticipated that federal grants will pay for most of the cost of the Exchange through 2014, the law requires that the Exchange be selfsustaining by 2015. Accordingly, it is important that the proposed legislation currently under consideration by the Council preserve the existing flexibilities to accommodate the federal mandate of fiscal sustainability.
"Government of the District of Columbia Comprehensive Merit Personnel Amendment Act of 2011"
I generally support the Government of the District of Columbia Comprehensive Merit Personnel Amendment Act of 2011. However, the provision to limit the number of Excepted Service Positions can possibly cause an unintended burden that may result in a severe loss of efficiency in our government. For several reasons, the current number of 160 Excepted Service positions is appropriate and should remain unchanged. First, it is important to examine Excepted Service appointments as a means of providing the Executive branch with flexibility to use deliberate speed and effectiveness to respond to ever-changing circumstances-many of which may be outside control of the Mayor or agency head. Second, the number of actual Excepted Service appointments fluctuates based upon several factors, including: (a) the number and type of new programs being introduced in a new Administration; (b) unanticipated circumstances that might necessitate implementing new programs to quickly deal with a problem or set of problems affecting one or more agencies; or (c) filling vacancies caused by turnover at one or more agencies due to the potential policy changes in order to better meet the Mayor's goals and objectives. Third, one of the primary benefits of the Excepted Service position is that agency heads are able to quickly fill important positions. Both the Mayor and agency heads need an accelerated hiring process to appoint the most qualified personnel who are the best fit for their administration by the swiftest means possible.
Therefore, if this language were removed, I urge the Council to approve this legislation without reservation.
"Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to approve the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011. While I understand there maybe an Additional Legislative Meeting later in the month, I strongly recommend that Second Reading on this bill take place at the first Legislative Meeting in January. The version of the bill the Committee marked-up adds an additional 51 pages to the proposed bill that was the subject of the hearing in November. It was explained that this vast addition to the bill is due to the Committee's desire to recodify existing ethics provisions, throughout various sources of existing law, into one section of the DC Code for convenience and efficiency. I have no concern with that intent. However, this greatly amended legislation was circulated during the weekend prior to the Council's vote. Because such extensive revisions to existing law were made, it would be prudent to take an additional two weeks prior to final vote to ensure there are no negative unintended consequences by the action. I support the measure on First Reading because whatever challenges or concerns that may develop can very likely be resolved between now and January 3, 2012. Moreover, I greatly appreciate Councilmember Bowser, Chair of the Committee on Government Operations, and her staff, for working with the Administration to incorporate important provisions and suggestions by the Office of the Attorney General.
"Director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development Harold B. Pettigrew, Jr. Confirmation Resolution of 2011"
I urge the Council to approve the Director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development Harold B. Pettigrew, Jr. Confirmation Resolution of 2011. Prior to his career in District government, Mr. Pettigrew was previously employed with the New York City Department of Small Business Services, where he worked in the Minority and Women-owned Enterprise program. He returned to Washington. D.C. in 2005 where he worked with the District Department of Transportation, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Office of the City Administrator. He accepted a position in 2007 to work as Chief of Staff for the Department of Small and Local Business Development. In 2010, he went on to serve as the Administrator for the Business and Professional Licensing Administration at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).
Since his appointment as Acting Director, Mr. Pettigrew has moved vigorously to redesign and streamline Department functions. Mr. Pettigrew's priorities for the Department of Small and Local Business Development focus on the following four areas: compliance and performance, business certification, business and industry development, and commercial revitalization.
"Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Ruthanne G. Miller Confirmation Resolution of 2011" "Alcoholic Beverage Control Board L. Jeannette Mobley Confirmation Resolution of 2011"
I urge the Council to approve these nominations to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Ms. Ruthanne G. Miller has a history of stellar service to District residents as a member, and later Chair, of the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Mrs. Miller's previous experience will be invaluable in leading the Board through complex regulatory practices. Moreover, Mrs. Miller's background in volunteer service on behalf of the District further demonstrates her commitment to public service. I have nominated Ms. Jeannette Mobley to be a member of the Board for similar reasons. Ms. Mobley is currently Managing Principal of the JPM Group, LLC, which provides consulting, and training in resume writing, interviewing, job search strategies, team-building and performance management.
"Director of the Office of Unified Communications Jennifer A.J. Green Confirmation Resolution of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the Director of the Office of Unified Communications Jennifer A. J. Green Confirmation Resolution of 2011. Ms. Greene served with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for 29 years - as a uniformed patrol officer in ID, Sergeant. Lieutenant. Captain, Inspector, and finally Commander of the 5D. Ms. Greene also served as Police Liaison to the OUC while still at MPD and is uniquely suited to manage and modernize this vital agency.
"Receiving Stolen Property and Public Safety Amendments Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the Receiving Stolen Property and Public Safety Amendments Act of 2011. This legislation would eliminate the defense of impossibility in situations where persons charged with receiving stolen property can exculpate themselves of this charge by proving the goods they received are not actually stolen. This is particularly relevant in MPD sting operations. The legislation updates the statute governing aggregation of penalty amounts received for bringing charges against an individual, and contains several clarifying and technical amendments. The legislation corrects an error in the recently enacted Anti-SLAPP Act of 2011 (D.C. Law 18-351) with regard to the type of discovery permitted under a special motion to dismiss, corrects an unintended drafting error in the code provision relating to solicitation for prostitution, and clarifies the legislative history with regard to the Council's enactment of D.C. Law 18-160, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia Clarification and Elected Term Amendment Act of 2010.
"Streetscape Fund Emergency Amendment Act of 2011"I strongly urge that the Council not approve this legislation and its associated declaration on emergency basis. This legislation seeks to expand, on emergency basis, the type of relief available to individuals or entities operating a retail business that is adversely impacted by a streetscape construction or rehabilitation project. I implemented an interest free loan program with the finite resources, and worked hard with affected communities to draft rules to assist the maximum number of businesses and property owners with the resources available. This amendment would essentially create a grant and abatement program. By creating a loan program, the District balanced the need to assist entities that were adversely affected while also having a mechanism to replenish the fund for future use. By providing grants and abatements, the Streetscape Survival Fund will be depleted without recovery. A loan program, however, would be self-sustaining.
I remain committed to working with the Council, the Office of Tax and Revenue, and all relevant stakeholders to find prudent administrative protocols to allow businesses to apply for certain relief. Furthermore, I will work with the Council towards a long-term comprehensive strategy to assist businesses adversely affected by streetscape projects. However, by acting on this measure by emergency, we will not achieve the maximum positive outcome for this fund.
"District Department of Transportation Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the District Department of Transportation Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (and emergency declaration). The proposed legislation is necessary to correct or clarify certain provisions in the District Department of Transportation ("DDOT") title of the Fiscal Year 2011 Supplemental Budget Support Act of 2010 ("BSA") adopted by the Council in December 2010. One BSA provision inadvertently dedicated Fiscal Year 2012 revenues derived from rental fees for public space to the local road construction fund. These revenues should instead continue to be recognized in the General Fund where they support appropriations in the operating budget for purposes other than road construction. If this emergency action is not taken, then the operating budget for Fiscal Year 2012 would have a deficit of over $30 million.
The legislation also clarifies that all unobligated and unexpended revenues in the District Department of Transportation's Unified Fund at the end of Fiscal Year 2011 shall be deposited into the District's Highway Trust Fund. This provision is necessary to ensure that the District has sufficient local revenues to match federal highway grants in Fiscal Year 2012. Finally, the legislation corrects the statutory citation in the BSA provision that dedicated parking meter revenues to the District's annual operating subsidy for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
"Modifications to Contract No. POAM-2005-C-0039-DR Approval and Payment Authorization Emergency Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the Modifications to Contract No. POAM-2005-C-0039-DR Approval and Payment Authorization Emergency Act of 2011 (and emergency declaration). The proposed legislation authorizes spending of funds that are available in the budget of the District's Department of General Services (DGS) for construction administration services to the Consolidated Forensics Laboratory. Design services were approved in 2006, and Council approval of construction administration services is necessary to ensure no interruption in Architect/Engineering services related to the CFL. Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, P.C. (HOK) has been providing these services for the duration of the project. The retroactive approval will allow the District to pay for services previously rendered by HOK, and for the firm to continue the vital provision of construction administration services for the largest District government construction project currently underway.
"Task Orders and Invoices to Human Care Agreement No. POJA-2006-H-0040-06 Approval and Payment Authorization Emergency Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the Task Orders and Invoices to Human Care Agreement No. POJA2006-H-0040-06 Approval and Payment Authorization Emergency Act of 2011 (and emergency declaration). This measure would approve, on an emergency basis, three task orders and three invoices to Human Care Agreement No. POJA-2006-H-0040-06 to provide therapeutic family homes services to the District's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and to authorize payment for the services rendered under the agreement.
"Department of Health Functions Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2011"
I urge the Council to pass the Department of Health Functions Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (and emergency declaration). The proposed legislation authorizes the Department of Health to issue grants for the purpose of providing clinical nutritional home delivery services for individuals living with cancer and other life-threatening diseases and commodity food, nutrition education, and related services to pregnant and post-partum women, children, and seniors with funds reprogrammed from the Department of Health Care Finance in fiscal year 2012.
Thank you for the opportunity to express the Administration's views on these important pieces of legislation. I urge the Council to take prompt action.
Vincent C. Gray Mayor
cc: Members of the Council of the District of Columbia
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