2019 Media Briefing and Announcements
On Monday, January 7, Mayor Bowser held her first official press conference for 2019. During the briefing she outlined what she expects for her second term and new staff announcements. The Mayor began by announcing the three pieces of legislation her administration will advance to the Council at the start of Council Period 23.
Sexual Assault Victims Rights Act of 2019 – Since the Council had not acted on this measure during the last council period, the Mayor is re-introducing SAVRAA 2.0 to further enhance the District’s response to sexual violence. SAVRAA 2019 creates a definition of sexual assault counselors that mirrors the definitions of domestic violence counselor and human trafficking counselors already in DC law. It will require additional training for advocates working with youth who are victims of sexual assault; clarifies confidential communications between sexual assault counselors and sexual assault victims; creates the opportunity for the provision of coordinated SANE exams in other locations throughout the District; and expands membership of Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to include all community-based organizations providing advocacy services.
- Councilmember Charles Allen’s office, in response to the Mayor’s announcement, stated that they intend to re-introduced SAVRAA 2.0 and look forward to working with survivors and advocates on comprehensive legislation to support all survivors.
Ghost Guns Prohibition Act of 2019 – advances gun reform at the federal level. The measure will prohibit the registration and possession of undetectable ghost guns specifically defining a “ghost gun” as a firearm that, after the removal of parts other than a receiver, cannot be detected by a metal detector. The bill also establishes the corresponding definition of a receiver.
Second Chance Amendment Act of 2019 – rethinking how second chances are created for residents, the bill will reform the District’s record sealing process by mandating automatic sealing for non-convictions, shortening the waiting periods before a person is eligible to seal his/her record, and expanding the eligibility of who can seal their record. For individuals who are arrested but not prosecuted, and for individuals who are charged but not convicted, the legislation would result in their records being automatically sealed within 90 days of the termination of the case. For those with convictions, the legislation mandates that a panel of legal experts review the types of convictions that should be eligible for sealing; it also reduces the waiting time to seal those records.
New Appointments and Reappointments
- Hanseul Kang reappointed for a second term as the State Superintendent of Education. Kang has led OSSE since 2015.
- Lindsey Maxwell, named as Director of the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining. He has served as the supervising attorney to the Public Employee Relations Board.
- Andrew Trueblood formally appointed as the Director of the Office of Planning. Trueblood has served as the interim director following former Director Eric Shaw’s departure. Truebloood previously served as Chief of Staff for Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner. He will play a key role in changing the District’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations.
- Lindsey Parker, appointed as the District’s Chief Technology Officer. Parker has served in several roles in DC government most recently as the Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff. She has experience in cyber-security having previously served as the Director of Internal Communications at Semantac. Parker’s focus will be on brining efficient operations and solutions at OCTO.
- Mayor Bowser also says she will reappoint Peter Newsham as the D.C. Police Chief and is working to extend his contract that expires at the end of the month
Additional items addressed by the Mayor and the City Administration during the press briefing:
- On question about her plan for 36,000 housing units over next 6 years, Bowser says she’s considering many things, including housing at RFK/Poplar Point/McMillan, etc.
- The Mayor indicated that DC needs more “density and taller buildings where they make sense” to accommodate growth, but she clarified that she’s not intending to target the District’s “monumental core” area.
- On building new hospital, Bowser says the period for exclusive negotiations with GW are expected to end mid-Feb. Says the Administration is currently requesting more information from GW Hospital and Howard University Hospital.
- The Mayor continued to express confidence in her DCPS chancellor pick, Dr. Lewis Ferebee.
- The impact from the shutdown remains unclear but the District has not experienced shutdowns during the holiday season. So far there is no impact on SNAP benefits (food stamps) from the shutdown, says City Administrator Rashad Young, but that could change if the shutdown extends towards the end of January and beyond. The Administration will meet this week to discuss contingency plans if the shutdown continues.
- The Administration continues talks with Democrats on the Hill regarding RFK and its use.
- The Administration remains focused on making sure members of the LGBTQ community feel safe in reporting hate crimes.
- Public safety and illegal gun use remains a primary focus and emphasizes the importance of the Ghost Gun legislation.
- The Mayor stated that she expects to announce a legislative proposal for taxing and regulating marijuana “soon.” But the rider prohibiting the city from actually doing so is still in draft spending bill being considered in Congress.