In a time of much needed reckoning over systemic racism and racial inequities in our country, it is distressing to see the DC Council watering down the REACH Act at the eleventh hour. Recent revisions by Councilmember Mendelson to the REACH Act would:
- Completely eliminate the commission that would allow community input into and oversight of the city's racial equity progress
- Move the Office of Racial Equity out of the City Administrator's office and into the Office on Human Rights, effectively demoting the prominence and authority of racial equity leadership in the executive branch
- Strike the language that establishes a council racial equity coordinator office. Instead, the Chairman proposes to establish that office through council rulemaking rather than legislation, leaving much more up to his discretion.
These changes are unacceptable. The fact is that communities should absolutely be able to give input to, and have oversight over, the racial equity work being done by their city’s government. The fact is that the DC Council needs an official racial equity coordinator. And, the fact is that the Office of Racial Equity needs to be in the Mayor’s office, a place of prominence and authority, in order to make the full commitment to racial equity in this city that is so desperately needed.
Much work has been done by the DC Initiative on Racial Equity and Local Government and members of this community to get this important bill to where it is today. With comprehensive and extensive input from the community, the REACH Act passed unanimously through committee. The DC Council must respect our voices and should roundly reject any revisions to the version of the REACH Act passed by communities.
We stand with our community partners in the DC Initiative on Racial Equity and Local Government in demanding the DC Council take racial equity seriously, and pass the REACH Act in its full form, rather than a watered down half-measure.
Dear DC Council,
I am here to represent the Roosevelt Network at George Washington University, a student run think tank working to write and advocate progressive policies across the DMV area. After the shocking and horrific deaths of, among far too many others, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it is abundantly clear that big change is needed to end systemic racism in this country. While the solutions need to go far beyond criminal justice reform, it’s obviously a place to begin, as the events of the last few weeks have demonstrated a desperate need for reform.
While we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which as you obviously know is putting significant strain on municipal budgets, it is incredibly upsetting to see that there is an $18.5 million increase in the MPD’s budget for FY 2021. It’s clear that over policing communities, rather than actually making investments in them, has not worked. And while there are simple reforms that absolutely should be taken to reform how police departments operate, such as have been proposed by Campaign Zero in their project “8 Can’t Wait” (which the District does have work to do on), it’s obvious that these changes alone are not sufficient.
We need to dramatically rethink the role that police should play in our society. The role that American police play within society is incredibly uncommon when compared to the rest of the world. Our police officers are more like armed soldiers entering into a war zone than productive members of our communities, and trained more to treat members of our communities more like enemy combatants than the citizens they’ve been charged to protect.
We call on the DC Council to decrease, rather than increase, funding to the MPD and instead invest that money into the communities that have, for so long, been held back by the scourge of systemic racism. We call on the DC Council to de-arm a significant amount of the MPD, as the majority of their work does not require an officer with a gun. DC should instead invest heavily in social services and take a public health approach to supporting communities and reducing crime, similar to the Safe Streets and Cure Violence programs that other cities have implemented to impressive results. We call on the DC Council to defund the MPD as we know it in order to finally create a Washington DC where all people, regardless of race, have the right to feel safe and protected in their communities.
Dear of Board of Trustee,
I am here representing the Roosevelt Network at GW, a progressive student-run advocacy and policy writing organization here on campus, and our comments on the Environmental, Social, & Governance Responsibility Task Force recent recommendations. We would like to begin by commending the committee's recommendation to completely divest from the fossil fuel focused companies by 2025. As students of the University and members of the generation that will begin to face some of the dire consequences of climate change, we strongly welcome this long overdue action. We also appreciate that the Task Force brought this commitment to sustainability beyond just divestment by recommending that the school take additional steps to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. GW Roosevelt, along with many other students organizations, asks that the Board accepts these recommendations in full.
While we applaud the Task Force works we have additional concerns about climate justice and sustainability at GW. First, we believe that the school must draft a comprehensive plan on how it will achieve these recommendations and allow for a public comment on any proposed plan. Second, the Board must address the insidious and non-scholastic research from the Regulatory Studies Center. Specifically, we ask that the University cut all ties and funding with the Center going forward. Finally, we ask that University commits to INVESTING a portion of our endowment, at least 5 percent, into renewable energy and sustainable development initiatives going forward. This could be easily accomplished as a multitude of profitable ETFs and index funds are dedicated exclusively to renewable energy. In fact, renewable ETFs like iShares Global Clean Energy (ICLN) have gained 60% in value over the last 3 years before the pandemic, an increase larger than the Dow Jones Industrial average over the same period.
Thank you for listening to our comments and we hope the Board accepts the Task Force and our own recommendations.
The Roosevelt Network at GW
Dear DC Council,
I am here to represent the Roosevelt Network at George Washington University, a student run a think tank working to write and advocate for progressive policies across the DMV area. As students at GW and residents of the District, our organization provides a unique perspective on
DC government's policy. Like many other groups throughout the district, we are especially concerned about the housing affordability crisis and the high levels of displacement currently occurring within the city. DC has been experiencing a gentrification driven phenomenon known
as “Black Flight,” as the black share of the district's housing population has fallen from over 70% in 1970, to under 50% in 2015. We believe that the Comprehensive Plan must be used to help address this crisis and appreciate the steps the currently proposed updates to the plan would
take to address this issue.
While our group has comments and concerns on other components of the plan, we will focus on comments here on the Near Northwest section of the plan. Having Howard, Georgetown, and George Washington University's main campuses covered within this element
of the plan means that it will have significant ramifications for the city's student population. As a student run organization, we hope that we can provide a relevant perspective on school specific issues and the wider policy in the near Northwest region.
We appreciate the commitment to providing more affordable housing in the area, like the redevelopment of Parcel 42 into affordable housing units and the implementation of DC Housing Preservation Strike’s to protect existing affordable housing in the area and prevent displacement.
We also appreciate the deletion of certain high limits in the Dupont Circle area and the development of new affordable housing in Foggy Bottom. However, we are concerned about changes to the existing plan that would eliminate existing language promotes and incentivizes
specific concrete methods to encourage affordable housing (see Policy NNW 1.1.9 and Action
Outside of housing, we support the creation of more multimodal transportation in near Northwest, especially developments of better public transportation to get to and from Georgetown. Better public transport will allow all city residents, no matter their level of income,
to access previously unreachable jobs and economic opportunities, while also helping businesses
attract new customers and grow.
While we appreciate the plan’s commitment to protecting the Georgetown Waterfront from environmental degradation, we are deeply concerned about the deletion of Policy NNW-1.2.10 , which encourages sustainable development in all developments in the Northwest
region. It is crucial that the city maintains its commitment to protect the environment, especially in areas with as many new developments as near Northwest.
Finally, we wish to touch on changes to GW and student specific elements of the plan. We support changes to the plan that would encourage renovations, instead of expansions, to student dormitory housing (Policy NNW-1.1.8 ). We also appreciate the plans reaffirmed promise
that GW will stay within its campus plan boundaries and discontinue undergraduate off-campus housing. However, in the next section (Policy NNW-2.5.1 ) the plan seems to contradict this promise by replacing wording that the University should maintain “its current boundaries and
enrollment” with the phrase “applicable limits for both campus development and enrollment.” This change creates a more lenient limit to expansion and is deeply concerning. GW already has a large portfolio of real estate holding throughout the city, owning over $1 billion dollars in real estate according to their most recent financial statements. They do NOT need greater expansion. To prevent the University and its students from crowding out existing communities, the Comprehensive Plan should ensure that the University be held to its current physical boundaries.
Adam Graubart's Response to Paid Leave
Our president Adam Graubart testified before the DC Council asking Chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 2 Rep Jack Evans to end their #AttackonDCPaidLeave. The Universal Paid Leave Act sets up an equitable insurance system, preventing discrimination. It's time to end the efforts to repeal and replace an equitable, progressive policy for an employer mandate or hybrid model. When asked about the employer mandate by Elissa Silverman, Adam discusses how GW and other institutions of higher education/large businesses can not be trusted to equitably administer paid leave, given their history of prioritizing profits over people and students' needs. Want to help protect DC Paid Family Leave Campaign? Call or Tweet and ask to end #AttackonPaidLeave and fully focus on the implementation of the Universal Paid Leave Act #UPLAorbust Phil Mendelson (At-Large) (202) 724-8032 Twitter: @ChmnMendelson Anita Bonds (At-Large) (202) 724-8064 @AnitaBondsDC Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) (202) 724-8028 @kenyanmcduffiePosted by Roosevelt at GWU on Thursday, October 12, 2017