Councilmember McDuffie’s Ward 5 Report
Ever wonder what our Ward 5 Councilmember has been up to? Here is a copy of his monthly report of his activities.
The Ward 5 Report
It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mr. Frank Braxton, a proud Ward 5 resident who dedicated his entire life to public service. Frank died after living over 100 amazing years.
Born and raised in the District, Frank lived through some of the most challenging years in the city. Frank’s unwavering devotion to his community left an indelible impression in my, and everyone’s mind who had the privilege of knowing him. Frank’s life was full of experiences that touched so many of our lives. It was because of his loving spirit and because he had invariably been in our shoes at one point in time that Frank could talk with anyone, making us feel as if he had known us for years. From starting as a shoe shiner, to working as a mail carrier, to serving our country in the United States Army, to serving as a civic leader, Frank had been there and done that.
Over his span of many years in public service, we will remember Frank for his dynamic civic leadership as a founding member of the Ward 5 Democrats. We thank him for his vision to empower Ward 5 residents by creating and sustaining a platform for our voices to be heard on issues that impact us. He also served the Edgewood community in various roles since 1958.
Frank proudly served our country in the United States Army. Frank’s federal government service also includes his work as an employee for the Government Printing Office and the United States Postal Service. Additionally, Frank served as the Vice President and Financial Secretary of the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees Union.
Most recently, what many residents recall about Frank is his contribution to public safety in the District. Frank served as a Charter member of the Metropolitan Department Chief’s Advisory Council, served as the Chair of the Fifth District Citizens Advisory Council, and served as an appointee to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Frank was a fixture in the public safety community, and was sought after for advice on a myriad of policing issues.
Frank’s proven track record of public service and commitment to Ward 5 led to one of his many recognitions, a ceremonial resolution on his 100th Birthday by the Council of the District of Columbia, which I was proud to introduce.
Today, in memory of Frank, and with the support of Ms. Frances Penn – Chairwoman of the Fifth District Citizens Advisory Council, I have written to Chief Cathy Lanier to ask that the community room in the Fifth District Police Station be named after him. Naming a community room after a man who dedicated himself to his community pales in comparison to his lifelong body of service, but is nonetheless a gesture that will serve to remind us all of his selfless nature.
Frank was an inspiration to me as I am sure he was to many others across the District. Let us all keep the Braxton family in our thoughts and prayers.
Legislative & Committee Updates
On October 21, the Committee on the Judiciary convened a public hearing to consider legislation to implement the District’s Body-Worn Camera program. Mayor Bowser has proposed the purchase and use of 2,800 body-worn cameras for the Metropolitan Police Department, however the Council must pass legislation creating regulations for the program before it can be implemented. Expert testimony at the hearing underscored the importance of putting forward thoughtful regulations that balance public access to the footage and the privacy of recorded individuals.
On October 21, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie and Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D – Ward 7), Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Human Services, also held a joint public hearing on Councilmember McDuffie’s Bill 21-0360, the “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act of 2015” or “NEAR Act”; Mayor Bowser’s Bill 21-0357, the “Public Safety and Criminal Code Revisions Amendment Act of 2015”, Bill 21-0382, the “Bail Reform Amendment Act of 2015”, and Bill 21-0384, the “District of Columbia Good Time Credits Amendment Act of 2015”; and Councilmember Cheh’s Bill 21-0189, the “Police and Criminal Discovery Reform Amendment Act of 2015”.
Residents and advocates packed Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building for a seven-hour hearing with forty-five public witnesses. Councilmember McDuffie started the hearing by noting that the Committee on the Judiciary’s Violent Crime Hearing on September 15th gave him the opportunity to hear from many individuals in the community who testified about the importance of community engagement and building partnerships. As a result, he worked on developing policies and programming that would engage the community, which culminated in the introduction of Bill 21-0360, or the “NEAR Act”.
Councilmember McDuffie also noted that each of the bills represented an opportunity to implement meaningful criminal justice programming that combines legislative, executive, and judicial reform. Many witnesses testified in support of viewing violent crime as a public health crisis and investing in evidence-based, front-end programs that address underlying factors such as trauma, mental health, and lack of opportunity. Witnesses also expressed their concern about responding to violent crime with over-policing, prosecution and incarceration, noting that if community members do not see criminal justice agencies as legitimate and fair, community-police relations would be negatively impacted.
Councilmember McDuffie recently appeared on News Channel 8 News Talk with Bruce DePuyt to discuss the surge in crime, and his upcoming violent crime roundtable on Wednesday, September 16, the first day that the D.C. Council reconvenes after summer recess. See the full video here:
McDuffie Kicks off 2015 DMV Week of Non-Violence
Photo Credit: Paul Holston/Tru1Photography
On Friday, October 9, Councilmember McDuffie joined the Black Women for Positive Change; Courtney Snowden, Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity; Benjamin Crump, National Honorary Co-Chair; Mayor William Euille (Alexandria, V.A.), Honorary Co-Chair of the DMV Week of Non-Violence Steering Committee; and Mel Franklin, Chair, of the Prince Georges County Council to kick off the 2015 DMV Week of Non-Violence held October 17-25 to promote and raise awareness of violence prevention.
Kenyan in the Community
McDuffie #YouthSpeakDC Non-Violence Summit
Teens packed the house at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center on Saturday, October 17, for McDuffie’s youth-led summit against violence, #YouthSpeakDC. The summit, facilitated by WPGC 95.5 radio personality SunniAndTheCity was also a kick-off to the Black Women for Positive Change 2015 Week of Non-Violence, October 17-25, of which Councilmember McDuffie is a Co-Chair.
#YouthSpeakDC, brought forth an open and candid discussion with the panel consisting of 11 youth addressing topics on the spike in violent crime in the District, the power of social media, bullying, and the dangerous impact of synthetic drug usage. The youth ended the conversation providing recommendations of resources that they need to be productive such as mentorship opportunities in every recreation center with robust programming.
As a result of the summit, Team McDuffie created a #YouthSpeakDC page on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so that our youth will have this platform to engage on issues that impact them.
This ongoing effort will be in conjunction with the many partners that were active in planning, promoting and identifying youth.
Please join the conversation:
Celebrating the Continuing Rebirth of Bertie Backus
On Monday, October 26th, Councilmember McDuffie joined Mayor Bowser, President Mason of the University of the District of Columbia, and the rest of the UDC community to celebrate the opening of a newly renovated wing at the Bertie Backus campus in Ward 5.
The East Academic Wing at Bertie Backus includes thirteen newly renovated classrooms, including labs for Information Technology, Nursing, and Architecture. As part of the continuing revival of Bertie Backus, the renovated space will help connect thousands of District residents to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the workplace. The renovation also included necessary upgrades to campuses utilities, ensuring that the space can be used efficiently and sustainably well into the future. Additional renovations are planned for the campus that would open even more space for the use of the UDC Community College.
Councilmember McDuffie took the opportunity to describe his own experience as a UDC student and to express his continued support for the growth and development of UDC. The Councilmember also voiced his support for the leadership and vision of the newly appointed President of UDC, Robert Mason, and Dr. Phillips, the Chief Executive Officer of the Community College.
McDuffie Visits John Burrough’s Elementary School
On Friday October 23, Councilmember McDuffie had the opportunity to read to one of John Burrough’s Elementary School’s classes. The occasion was made even more special because Ward 5 superstar, Ms. Samendy Lloyd, was surprised with a $10,000 donation from Carmax in her honor to kickstart the renovation of the library facilities. In addition to Principal James, TV One was on hand to record the event.
Meet with Kenyan, Team McDuffie, and your Neighbors
On Thursday, October 22, 2015, Councilmember McDuffie hosted the first series of a new initiative called Kenyan In the Community. The concept behind Kenyan in the Community is for the Councilmember to informally meet with residents, allow neighbors to get to know each other, and for residents to engage with staff. With the major increase in homicides and criminal activity in Ward 5, McDuffie hosted this first series on the 1800 block of Otis St NE at the Dwight T. Mosley Field.
The week before selecting this location, the Councilmember did an impromptu neighborhood walk through with MPD’s Assistant Chief Diane Grooms, MPD’s 5th District Commander William Fitzgerald in addition to a host of staff and neighbors who joined in to express concerns or to just to say hello. During this time, the Councilmember, MPD, and staff brainstormed ways to better engage the community and to help curb some of the criminal activities in this particular area.
The first series of Kenyan in the Community brought out over 30 residents and community groups from all over Ward 5, not just those in the North Woodridge neighborhood to discuss topics ranging from crime/public safety, legislative concerns, and individual constituent questions. As a result of this event, Councilmember McDuffie will host the next Kenyan in the Community today in the Truxton Circle/Eckington neighborhood.
COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD