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What Is DCWatch?
|Government of the District of
Executive Office of the Mayor
Office of Communications
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 15, 2004
|CONTACT: SHARON GANG
Mayor Highlights 2004 Accomplishments
Priorities Include Public Safety, Education and Economic Development
(Washington, DC) During his weekly press briefing today, Mayor Anthony A. Williams highlighted the District of Columbia’s accomplishments for 2004. Mayor Williams said that over the past year, he has provided opportunities for District residents—in housing, jobs, health care and economic development. Specifically, he cited the July 2004 issue of
Black Enterprise magazine which selected Washington, DC, as the second best city in the country to live and work in for African Americans.
2004 Year in Review
- We’ve made excellent progress in public safety. With 2004 almost over, the level of reported crime in the District continues to decline. Preliminary data through the first 11 months of 2004 shows that crime in DC is down more than 11 percent when compared with the same time period in 2003.
- In the District’s 14 crime “hot spots,” the reduction in crime has been even greater. Since February when the hot spot initiative began, overall crime in the 14 areas is down 25 percent and violent crime is down 34 percent when compared with the same time period last year. The hot spot initiative brings together police, other government agencies and community resources in a concentrated attack on crime.
- We continue to reduce the call pickup time in our 911 center. In October, our operators answered 94 percent of the 911 calls within five seconds — many were answered without the caller ever hearing a ring.
- The District’s Public Safety Wireless Network has been expanded into Metro’s tunnels. Firefighters and emergency medical personnel now can communicate above and below ground clearly and seamlessly. The project completes the District’s transition from an outdated wireless system providing limited coverage and interoperability, to one of the finest coordinated public safety radio networks in the nation.
- The Metropolitan Police Department this year established its Family Liaison Specialist Unit, which will offer survivors of homicide victims a wide range of services, including basic crisis intervention and emotional support, information about the criminal justice system, advocacy and updates on the status of homicide investigations.
- The District also established an Office of Victim Services, the first Administrative-level office dedicated to victims’ issues. The Office of Victim Services will help us coordinate services provided by the city and the community so that victims receive the comprehensive care they need.
- In March, we broke ground on a state-of-the-art communications facility for public safety and government operations, the Unified Communications Center on the East Campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital. Combining the District’s critical communications functions into facility will make our responses to emergencies more efficient and more effective. The UCC will serve as the call-taking and dispatch center for Police and Fire 911 and 311 calls, the Mayor’s Call Center, the Mayor’s Emergency Command Center, the DC Emergency Management Agency and the Regional Incident Command and Control Center.
- With the hiring of 20 officers in September, the MPD reached its goal of 3,800 sworn members on the force — a milestone that will further enhance neighborhood safety. The hiring of additional officers means even more community policing resources in our neighborhoods, which should translate into even safer streets.
- In October, we launched the “Connected Communities” initiative in conjunction with Prince George’s County which will work to improve the quality of life for residents who live on or near the borders of the two jurisdictions.
- In November, I signed into law the omnibus Juvenile Justice Act, legislation that will ensure the fair treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system while it holds offenders accountable for their actions. Some of the provisions in the legislation came out of a meeting I held at Davis Elementary School in July near where a number of juvenile car thefts had taken place.
- We passed legislation establishing the Youth Rehabilitation Services Agency, a Cabinet-level agency that will ensure a high and sustained level of effort in advancing the Blueprint of Reform for the juvenile justice system.
- With the termination of Women Prisoners of DC v. District of Columbia class action lawsuit, the DC Department of Corrections ended 33 years of court oversight and court orders. The director and staff of the Department of Corrections continue to demonstrate their commitment to meeting the highest standards.
- In July, we unveiled “Alert DC,” the District’s new citizen emergency notification system. This innovative and high tech program provides citizens with three different ways to learn about emergencies in the District and surrounding areas. Alert DC provides immediate emergency notification and information to citizens using a variety of communication methods, including text alert and voice
- In time for the first day of school in September, Dr. Clifford B. Janey began serving as DCPS superintendent. I am pleased to have been involved in the interview process that resulted in Dr. Janey being chosen to lead the DC Public Schools. I support many of Dr. Janey’s ideas on reforming the school system. We are working together to identify ways that District agencies can better coordinate with DCPS to provide services for District young people. I support Dr. Janey’s efforts to introduce rigorous academic standards and curriculum for our public school systems. Dr. Janey is also working closely with MPD Chief Ramsey to improve school security.
- In November, we launched the DC Education Compact, the outgrowth of widespread concern over the need for systemic reform of the school system. The Public Sector Group will work collaboratively to develop, implement and monitor, as appropriate, the education policies necessary to improve outcomes for students and restore trust in our public school system.
- In August, we launched the Lifelong Learning Initiative, a $20 million, three-year citywide program designed to help at least 10,000 District residents achieve their learning goals, and a new public service campaign called “Read Out Loud” will encourage adult learners to take advantage of the city’s improved lifelong learning services.
- This year, Congress approved my plan for school choice in the District of Columbia. This program has brought $40 million of new federal funding to our public education system -- $13 million for scholarships, $13 million for DCPS and $13 million for charter schools. There are currently 1,015 scholarship students attending 53 non-public schools.
- Congress funded $25.6 million for our Tuition Assistance Grant program for 2005 and reauthorized the program through 2007. Funds from this program are currently assisting more than 6,600 District residents attend eligible colleges and universities throughout the United States.
- The State Education Office’s Summer Food Service Program served a total of 1.17 meals during the summer of 2004 – a 20 percent increase from last year. The number of children fed increased to 25,458 – an increase of 5,724 from 2003. Sponsor participation in the program increased by 29 percent, and the number of food service program sites increased by 13 percent to 296 sites.
- In December, I announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of DC Libraries which will assess the current state of the city’s public library system. It will also evaluate my plan to build a new central library and redevelop the branch system; and, make recommendations for implementing the revised plan. This commission brings together some of the best minds in the library field to help us redefine our system.
- Senator Mary Landrieu helped to create a congressionally-funded program, the City Build Charter School Initiative, which will provide $1 million incentive grants to charter schools that plan to locate within 12 specific neighborhoods.
- In June, we broke ground for St. Coletta of Greater Washington which will be the first special education charter school in the city dedicated to serving children with severe and multiple
- In total, between the city’s developments and private developments, there are more than 37,000 units of housing either complete, in production, or in the citywide pipeline. In addition to new housing, the District’s Housing Authority (DCHA) operates 8,997 units of public housing, with 99 percent Housing Choice Voucher Program utilization rate, 98 percent public housing occupancy rate, 11,555 Section 8 voucher residents, 9,355 HCVP tenant-based residents and 2,200 Project based residents.
- In April, the District’s Housing Finance Agency announced that it made $340 million in mortgage revenue bonds available for the acquisition, rehabilitation or construction of affordable housing in the District. From Columbia Heights to Congress Heights, HFA-financed apartment buildings have helped transform neighborhoods into vibrant, new communities.
- In June, the DC Housing Authority was awarded a $20 million HOPE VI Grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for the revitalization of the Eastgate Gardens community, a 230-unit public housing development in the Marshall Heights neighborhood.
- In June, I released a draft plan to end homelessness by 2014, which is based on the recommendations of a broad spectrum of city and business leaders, homeless providers and advocates and homeless people who worked together for more than a year on it. The draft plan proposes to increase homeless prevention efforts at local and federal levels; provide supportive services coordinated to include homeless programs and special needs housing; set a goal of developing 6,000 units of affordable, supportive permanent housing to meet the needs of the District’s homeless and other very-low-income people who are at risk.
- Our plan is to transform the city’s worn out and sometimes dangerous emergency shelters into Homelessness Assistance Centers. They will offer improved living conditions that include amenities not often included in the facilities of the last two decades – conveniences you and I might take for granted like decent bathrooms, showers, laundry, cafeterias, lounges and classrooms. Additionally, services like health screening and follow up care and job readiness training and employment assistance are being built into the centers, to offer people a helping hand towards self sufficiency.
- The city’s first two Homelessness Assistance Centers have been acquired and renovated. Located at 1355 New York Avenue, NE, and in the 801 East Building on the Saint Elizabeths campus, they have been well received by their residents.
- Design work is underway on another three: new construction at 14th and Irving Streets, NW; the renovation of the Federal City Shelter at 425 2nd Street, NW; and the transformation of the Gales School into a women’s shelter at 65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. We are searching for two more sites for centers.
- We have a new director, Dr. Gregory Pane, and a new senior deputy director for HIV/AIDS, Lydia Watts, both extremely qualified and enthusiastic health professionals.
- The DC Department of Health opened the city’s first multi-service center offering substance abuse treatment and prevention programs in the Latino community.
- The Department of Health worked with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the World Bank/IMF, American Red Cross and other vital partners to create a model plan to address the nation’s flu vaccine shortage. Dr. Pane issued an Emergency Rule on October 15 that designated priority groups to receive flu vaccines. The Department distributed over 32,000 doses of flu vaccine this season.
- At the beginning of 2004-2005 school year, 94 percent of all children enrolled in our public schools were up-to-date for immunizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented the Department of Health’s DC Immunization Registry with the 2004 “Protect” Registry Award for its outstanding work in improving the District’s public school immunization rates.
- The Department of Health developed a comprehensive web-based tracking system that enables Medicaid providers to access valuable and much needed child health data.
- The Department of Health collected $7 million through third party liability activities — an increase of $4.6 million over fiscal year 2003. In addition, the Department of Health implemented the Managed Care Casualty Collection effort, a contract requirement of the managed care organizations. This effort will enhance third party liability collections in fiscal year 2005.
- DOH released the most comprehensive ever report on diabetes in the District, “The 2004 District of Columbia Diabetes Surveillance Report.” The report provides information about the prevalence, mortality, complications, risk factors and costs of the disease in the city.
- I assembled a team to lead the development of the National Capital Medical Center on the old DC General campus which will be the first hospital built in the District since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. We are working with Howard University on our shared vision for a comprehensive academic medical center that will serve the National Capital region and bring economic benefits to the surrounding
- Every day, we are helping residents find jobs. In July, we celebrated the grand opening of Project Empowerment Plus, a federally funded pilot program to help serious and violent ex-offenders as they seek to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Funded by a $2 million grant from the US Department of Justice, Project Empowerment Plus is authorized to serve 205 individuals during its first year with wrap-around services to deal holistically with problems confronting offenders and their families.
- Effective January 1, 2005, the standard minimum wage for employees in the District will increase from $6.15 per hour to $6.60 per hour, the first minimum wage increase since 1997.
- Major League Baseball decided to bring the Washington Nationals to the District. A new team and ballpark could mean billions of dollars in new development that will revitalize Southeast Washington while creating jobs and economic opportunity. According to city projections, ballpark construction would support 3,500 jobs and generate $5 million in new tax revenues. Annual team and ballpark operations would create more than 350 jobs and nearly $30 million in new tax revenues. Our proposed site for the new ballpark on the Anacostia Waterfront has both Metro and highway accessibility.
- I secured approval from the Council for more than $120 million in tax increment financing to catalyze economic development in neighborhoods, including the following projects:
- A family-oriented (DC-USA) retail center in Ward 1
- Construction of the Frank Gehry wing of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Ward 2
- A parking garage at Rhode Island Place to support mixed-use retail and residential development in Ward 5
- A shopping center in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood in Ward 5
- A high-quality shopping center at the Skyland Shopping Center in Ward 7
- In July, the Council approved my legislation to establish the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, a new public entity charged with leading the revitalization of the District’s Anacostia Waterfront. This corporation will be the springboard for fundamentally remaking life along the shores of the Anacostia. It will coordinate the implementation of a 25-year plan that calls for the redevelopment of land currently either underutilized or not utilized at all.
- Today, everywhere you look, we see cranes traversing our skyline, and we’ve made every effort to get those cranes into our communities. We have 12,000 units of affordable housing — half of them are east of the Anacostia River; 4,500 units are planned for the Anacostia Waterfront; we have a new Best Buy and Container Store in Tenleytown; the reality of a true retail center at Skyland; and negotiations are underway for a Costco at Ft. Lincoln. We opened the Pavilion at Gallery Place, the District’s newest urban desination with movies, stores and other entertainment.
- In The Milken Institute’s 2004 report on America’s best performing cities, Washington, D.C., ranked 11 — up from 19 in 2003.
- In March, the new Washington Convention Center celebrated its one-year anniversary. In its first year of operation, the Convention Center attracted nearly one million attendees and generated 438,000 hotel-room nights netting approximately $426.5 million in new spending in the District. On December 18, the former Washington Convention Center is scheduled to be imploded.
- In October, I announced that Target signed a purchase agreement to build its first store in the District in Columbia Heights at 14th Street and Park Road, NW. It is expected that Target will bring 500 construction jobs, 1,000 direct permanent jobs and $240 million in net direct new taxes over the first 20 years of the development. In December, we re-opened the Tivoli Theatre in the same neighborhood. It is expected to be a catalyst for more
- Last week, I was elected president of the National League of Cities. I will use the position to enlighten thousands of city officials about the District’s efforts for autonomy from the federal government and voting rights in the U.S. Congress.
- In April, Moody’s Investors Service improved our bond rating from Baa1 to A2. This is the first time since at least 1990 that Moody’s has given the District an A rating. The upgrade reflects the sustained improvement in the District’s economy and property tax base as well as the District’s multi-year record of improved financial management, controls and results. In November, we announced that Standard & Poor’s upgraded the District’s general obligation bonds to A with a stable outlook from A-. This shows that we continue to receive the confidence of Wall Street analysts.
- District residents can now dial 211 to receive social services information and referrals through the DC Department of Human Services. Our citizens can simply dial 211 to get food and medical care and to find out about government agencies and nonprofit, community-based organizations with helpful programs and services.
- In January, we cut the ribbon on the District’s Adoption Resource Center which provides support for parents, families and children in any stage of the adoption process. In April, I signed into law the Language Access Act to provide greater access and participation in public services, programs and activities for residents of the District who have limited or no English proficiency.
- And in November, we broke ground on a six-station, 2.7-mile passenger rail demonstration project to serve the Anacostia area.