Mark your ballots!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

D.C. Should Aim Higher

A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming is seen at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year  
Washington, D.C. recently rated near the top of American cities for income inequality. Perversely, D.C.’s economy is a welfare state for the rich, or at least the upper middle class: The federal government imports thousands people with law or other graduate degrees to D.C. monthly, and pays them between $75,000 and $150,000 a year.
Lobbying and law firms hire, at even higher salaries, other demographically similar people to navigate the expanding federal government. The new residents bid up real estate prices — both sale prices and rents — displacing D.C.’s long term residents, who have less money, are more likely to be minorities, and less likely to have graduate, or even undergraduate degrees.


Read more at: The Daily Caller.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pranav Badhwar on the Hill

Ward Six Councilmember Candidates: Pranav Badhwar

March 20th, 2014 by Maria Helena Carey · No Comments · Capitol HillDC

Pranav Badhwar at home. Photo by María Helena Carey
Pranav Badhwar at home. Photo by María Helena Carey
It is no secret that Capitol Hill, like D.C., leans strongly Democrat.
So when Pranav Badhwar stepped forward as the Libertarian candidate for Ward Six council member, we at The Hill is Home wanted to know how his campaign would appeal to Hill voters.
Although this is Badhwar’s first time running as a candidate for any office, he has always strongly identified with Libertarian principles. He became more actively involved with the party when he helped Ron Paul’s campaign during the last election. It wasn’t until his friend Bruce Majors ran for the D.C. Delegate seat and obtained enough votes to make the Libertarian party a viable party that Badhwar gave serious thought to running for office (currently, Bruce Majors is running for D.C. mayor).
Pranav is quietly philosophical, quoting Cicero and other philosophers during our conversation. He also cites Gallup polls, scientific studies, and all manner of interesting articles.
He is a careful thinker who urges to be thoughtful in all aspects of government. He is aware that his delivery is not nearly as polished as that of the other candidates, but he hopes that people focus on the content of his ideas.
Originally from India by way of Toronto and New York City, Badhwar moved to Washington with his wife in 2000. After living in Northwest for a couple of years, and with the impending birth of their daughter, they started looking for a larger house in 2003. “Our realtor insisted in showing us places only in Capitol Hill,” Badhwar says. Since then, his family fell in love with the Hill and started getting involved in neighborhood activities.
At the core of Badhwar’s campaign is job creation and the curtailing business regulations in the city. A job, he argues, gives life, purpose, and meaning. He highlights the fact that in Washington D.C., part of what keeps the income disparity going strong is a lack of jobs, especially trade labor and unskilled labor. In order to make a livable wage in the city, Badhwar argues that the status quo makes it necessary to have a graduate degree, but it should not be that way.
He also feels like the regulations in place control tradesmen-type jobs — he cites at least 41 different professions that have lower education requirements and which are currently affected by too many regulations.
He is against raising the minimum wage across the board. To him, this would only place undue amounts of financial stress on smaller business. Since larger corporations are able to expedite and automate processes, they can afford to pay employees more. This is not always the case with smaller mom-and-pop shops, he says. Badhwar also supports giving business owners more free enterprise, especially in a places that cater to smaller business, like Capitol Hill.
When the subject of schools comes up, Badhwar says the schools have been run by politicians and bureaucrats, making it’s easier to “mask failures.” DCPS’s problems are due to its central office, he says. Decentralizing schools and pushing for charter-like autonomy is a priority, which would allow schools to self-regulate and govern as they see fit.
He also opposes the CSX Virginia Avenue rail tunnel expansion. Even though he is pro-rail and pro-industry, he is aware of the potential hazards to Ward Six.
Regarding crime, Badhwar talks about how a large percentage of crimes in DC are nonviolent in nature. This is due to the high penalties associated with the criminalization of drugs, he says. Badhwar supports decriminalization, a position that tends to be polarizing.
Although Badhwar is aware that he may not win this election, he is hoping to raise awareness of the Libertarian party and a more thoughtful approach to political issues. If you want to learn more about the candidate, you can visit his website at http://www.pranav4dc.com/ or follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My answers to the TENAC questionnaire - set D.C. housing free!

Many of the current Council members support these issues, what say you?
(Me: It's curious that the City Council supports the proposed solutions, but the problems remain - that should be cause for reflection, no?)
If elected:

Housing has become unaffordable for many in DC, and costs are rising rapidly.
---  Will you work with the tenant community to make housing once again affordable in DC?

Me:  It's simply supply and demand.  The federal government has imported tens of thousands of people a year to D.C. who have law and other graduate degrees and it pays them on one side or another of $100,000.  They bid up prices.  You cannot compete with this or change it.  They will always be offering to buy or rent property for more than others can afford.  The best solution would be encouraging long term residents to buy homes in areas just beyond the area where gentrification is driving up prices, if you can still find such an area in D.C.

Recently and supposedly temporarily, the amount of annual rent increase for rent controlled apartments has been figured by adding 2% to the inflation (CPI) rate.  Through the power of compounding, that added 2% is killing rent control. 
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the elimination of the added 2%?

Me:  I would support eliminating the 2% as I would eliminate all rent control regulation now existing, the remnant of Nixon's wage and price controls, and seek other solutions.

Presently, many landlord petitions and voluntary agreements allow housing providers to effectively remove their apartments from rent control. 
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the elimination of these loopholes?

Me:  Small investors who buy smaller multi-unit buildings are leaving D.C. and selling their buildings to people who convert them to condos or tear them down and build luxury high rises.  They do this because they no longer want to deal with rent control and the D.C. government generally.  In some cases, they simply abandon properties.  We must remove government from the housing market, including getting rid of the absolute prohibition on building tall buildings, to increase the supply of housing.

When rent control was enacted in DC in 1975, all non-exempt rental apartments were subject to rent control protection.  The laws have not been updated to include buildings constructed after that time, so now more and more apartments lack the protection.
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the phasing-in of rent control to apartment buildings constructed after 1975 (thereby starting to restore the original intent of the law to apply rent control broadly to existing apartments)?

Me:  Rent control laws and other such interventions do not protect tenants, since they reduce the housing supply and ultimately drive rents up.  Imagine what would happen if we mandated that no one could buy a loaf of bread priced at over a nickel.  A funny story I heard once when at a Thanksgiving dinner at the Van Ness North cooperative.  Another guest lived in the rental apartment next door, that is between the Van Ness North, which is a co-op, and the Van Ness East, a condo.  She told me long ago, before the housing boom, the tenants in her building had started to buy their building and make it another co-op.  Self-described "Tenant's Right's" activists persuaded them not to do so, since it would "reduce the supply of rental housing."  And there sat my dinner partner year's later, still at the mercy of a landlord.  Whatever solutions can be engineered cannot be ones that reduce the supply of housing and prevent people from home ownership.

The Mayor's Summit designated the lack of affordable housing as DC's number one problem.  But on the City Council, housing concerns have been divided among committees and swallowed up by economic development.  The word, "Housing," was even removed from the name of the council committee, Economic Development and Housing.
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the establishment of a DC Council Standing Committee solely focused on Housing, so that the lack of affordable housing will receive the attention it deserves?

Me:  I pledge to eliminate and cut D.C. government agencies and not to create new ones.  No other candidates will do that. I will happily eliminate agencies that prevent people from building more housing.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Disability Forum

I didn't attend the Disability Forum and it seems most candidates did not.  In my case I had been previously invited to two other political events that day that both were heavy with a libertarian base.

It seems a number of candidates also did not answer the questionnaire on disability issues, which I did do.

I will be happy to meet with the disability group to learn about their concerns, or attend their general election forum.

Here is their questionnaire, my answers, and some other candidates answers:










1. What would you do to make Washington DC a more disability-friendly city?
Muriel Bowser
I am pleased that Washington, DC has already made many accommodations for residents with disabilities, especially in the realm of mobility issues and the streetscape. There is always more that we can do, however.


Jack Evans
As Mayor, I will work to develop a comprehensive plan for those living with disabilities. With 1 in 5 Americans living with a disability, it is vital that family, friends, and advocates collectively work to provide and access resources to live in the District. Persons living with various disabilities face a 33.4% unemployment rate compared to 8% for those without disabilities. People with disabilities are also disproportionately behind in access to higher education, housing opportunities, and trail in average household income.
I will collaborate with stakeholders such as the Department of Disability Services, Project ACTION!, D.C. Advocacy Partners, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and Disabled Veterans of America to make D.C. accessible and convenient to every resident, especially for those living with disabilities. I will aggressively address housing issues for people with disabilities, close the affordability gap for residents relying on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and ensure units across our city offer specific features and technologies accommodating to people with disabilities.
Vincent Gray
In order to make the District of Columbia more disability-friendly, I would encourage universal design in new construction. By designing for the lifespan of our residents, we make the city accessible not only to people with disabilities, but also age-friendly.
I also commit to working with the DC Council to establish and pass “Visitability” legislation, requiring zero step entry into homes and an accessible ½ bathroom on the ground floor, to apply to newly constructed single-family homes and town or row homes.
I will also work towards universal installation of accessible paths of travel, including properly positioned and marked curb cuts and walk signals with audio and numeral signals in business and residential areas. 
Reta Jo Lewis
 
It all has to start with a solid understanding of the needs – only then can we find solutionsMy entire career has been about inclusion and developing and building sustainable partnershipsI believe that far too often, our government takes what they think is the quickest and most cost-efficient route to issues impacting our cityThe problem with this is that we fail to include all stakeholders in decisions and we fail to leverage other potential resources to ensure that we are really making an impact.
There are many things that immediately come to mind, like making sure elevators are functional at all metro stations, repairing our city sidewalks, ensuring full accessibility in our technologies (like the D.C. government website), and ensuring cultural competencies in our agencies – just to name a fewAdditionally, I think it is incumbent on our local government to ensure that they are hiring people with disabilities, that assistance is provided to businesses and employers regarding information on reasonable accommodations, that existing laws are modernized where necessary and enforced, and that barriers to employment and educational opportunities for people with disabilities are eliminated.

But what we really need to do is to start with openness and transparency in our government so that we can engage the public and the nonprofit and advocacy groups in helping us to solve these critical issues.
Bruce Majors
 
I believe public property should have reasonable access to all people with disabilities, including both new construction and retro-fitting.


Andy Shallal
The most important action that I will take as the next Mayor of DC will be to phase in strict enforcement of the ADA. Almost a quarter-century after the passage of the ADA, far too many of our public and private buildings are not in compliance with the ADA. A study released by the ARC of DC reported that “about 40% of District residents with disabilities report having a physical disability and may need some accommodations to access housing and public building.”

This question of physical access represents an acute problem for people in wheelchairs. As a restaurant owner, I am especially aware of the very high number of restaurants which do not have ADA-compliant bathrooms, creating truly nightmarish scenarios for people who find they cannot access the facilities. It is long past the time when every establishment serving the public should at the very least provide ADA-compliant bathrooms.

I will fight to end the shameful number of elevator outages on the Metro. The repeated failures are the bane of existence for anyone counting on them. Metro should have installed at least two elevators at every station.
Candidates who did not submit a questionnaireresponse
Carlos Allen
Vincent Orange
Tommy Wells

2. What will you do to ensure that students with disabilities in DC have access to a quality education and receive the supports and services they need?
Muriel Bowser
Regarding schools, I will require the Office of the State Superintendent for Education to survey and report on a quarterly basis. Schools must be retrofitted to ensure ADA compliance.We can and must better serve all of our students. I am concerned that we have enough counselors and behavioral specialists to work with students whose needs are not physical, and I look forward to getting the recommendations from advocates.
Jack Evans
We must ensure that special need students are able to attend public schools and that these schools are equipped to handle their needs. It is federal law that students with special needs be educated in the least restrictive environment—with as much exposure as possible to the general curriculum and a wide range of peers. We must ensure that teachers (DCPS or DCPCS) have the appropriate special need certification and experience. When students with special needs in public schools are given the appropriate tools and services, they are more likely to graduate, and are more likely to succeed in post-secondary opportunities.
Vincent Gray
My administration will work to ensure that students and parents are informed of their right to education, the process for requesting services through either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, or both.

I will continue my commitment to promoting and providing early intervention services through Part C & Part B, including assessment services to detect and identify developmental delays in infants and toddlers.

I am dedicated to ensuring that all eligible secondary students with disabilities attending traditional public, public charter schools and non-public schools are connected to transition services provided through DC Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) during the last two years of their secondary education.
Reta Jo Lewis
 
We have seen how much transportation has become an issue for students with physical disabilities, and we have to make sure that we are providing reliable and predictable transportation services for our children. But we also have to make sure that we are providing top quality special needs education for students with disabilities, including learning disabilities. Currently, we do not have adequate services in our public charter schools to provide special needs education, which limits the options parents of special needs students in school choice. We also have to absolutely ensure that our facilities, technologies, and resources are fully accessible to students with special needsThis is not just about making sure that we have functional ramps and elevators, but also our computers, books, and other learning tools.

You know, I grew up in Statesboro, Georgia – a city with less than 30,000 people – in the heart of the segregated South. Growing up, we had separate water fountains. The summer camp nearby shut down when black kids started trying to attendMy parents never let us go to the local movie theater, because they did not want us to have to face being told that black kids had to sit in the balcony. But when I was 13, my parents went to court to change things, and won the right for me and my sisters and brother to integrate our public schools.

I remember those first months at Marvin Pittman Junior High – I was an outsider, I was different. I tell this story because, while it was a tough transition, that experience helped to shape my life and made me understand the importance of inclusionThroughout my life and career, I have always worked to ensure that all voices are represented and included. This has to be the case for our children in our schools as well. I often hear elected officials discuss the “burden” that special needs children put on our schools, but I believe that is absolutely the wrong way to look at this issue. Our city has the resources to ensure that all children, regardless of their disability, have access to top quality learning and that is a commitment I make.

But what we really need to do is to start with openness and transparency in our government so that we can engage the public and the nonprofit and advocacy groups in helping us to solve these critical issues.
Bruce Majors
 
I favor expanded school choice and education tax credits and vouchers for all children, including the home schooledDC spends tens of thousands of dollars per pupil, much of which is eaten up by an administrative bureaucracyI believe parents should be able to claim these funds directly as a voucher or tax credit to use on the special needs of their children.
Andy Shallal
I would start by having a system-wide review of all school facilities to evaluate whether they were ADA-compliant, followed by making all necessary changes to bring our buildings into compliance.

Bringing our physical plant into compliance is necessary so all students can function, but by itself, such changes are not sufficient to guarantee that students can take advantage of all of the opportunities for education that are available in the school. We have to make sure that our disabled students are not simply sitting in their classrooms, unable to fully participate. This question is acute when it comes to participation in school sports and extracurricular activities. We have to provide alternative ways to participate in school life that are possible for disabled students.

I would also like to see special training for teachers and academic advisors on what the opportunities are for disabled students in the world of higher education. Advising for kids going on to college-what opportunities exist; most academic advisors don’t know about this stuff.
Candidates who did not submit a questionnaireresponse
Carlos Allen
Vincent Orange
Tommy Wells

3. What will you do to improve transition services and access to higher education for youth with disabilities?
Muriel Bowser
Question not answered
Jack Evans
Education is a fundamental right deserved by every resident no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or physical handicaps. In 2011, just 29 percent of persons with disabilities held a high school diploma, 23.5 percent held some college or associate level training, and only 16.8 percent possessed at least a bachelors degree.

As Mayor, I understand that in order for students with disabilities to have a successful transition to, through and beyond college, a team effort is necessary. It starts with access to information. Students, parents, and professionals must be better informed of their options. Under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, colleges and universities are required to provide academic adjustments to ensure students with disabilities have access to higher educationI will work closely with the Department on Disability Services, students, and parents to increase awareness of options concerning housing options that exist, the availability of disabled student offices, and how post-secondary offers a different approach to IEP/504 plans. It is also critical that students in DCPS and DCPCS have access to arrangements with ETS and are prepared for standardized exams such as the SATs.
Vincent Gray
I will encourage dialogue and planning about transition to occur before the youth’s junior or senior year in high school, when it is legally requiredYouth without disabilities begin considering what they want to be/where they want to go after high school as early as kindergarten; this process should begin just as early for students with disabilities and their parents, so that they have time to truly consider their options.

My administration will work to ensure that young adults and their families are aware of their rights under the ADA and the Rehab Act once they graduate and receive the necessary support to transition from high school to post secondary options, whether they are pursuing education or employment.

I will raise the expectations so that by 2020, 60% of secondary students with IEPs receive their high school diplomas.
Reta Jo Lewis
 
I see this as a major issue for all students in our public schoolsWe have huge deficiencies in the number of students that are matriculating and going on to higher educationAmong our students, however, there are a number of young people that do not to aspire to attend college.For those students, we must put in place a robust plan to teach life skills, job skills and a trade and vocationWe have to ensure that students that elect to not attend college are prepared for the workforce and to assist them in getting meaningful employment post-school.

Additionally, for our students that do aspire to attend college following graduation, we must ensure that we are preparing a pathway for them to succeedThis includes offering AP courses, working closely with the colleges and universities right here in our city, as well as across the country, to ensure we have partnerships in place for our students to gain access to these programs.

I recognize that there are specific needs in transition services and access to higher education for youth with disabilitiesIn addition to offering the same commitment to youth with special needs to provide vocational and technical training, as well preparing a pathway to higher education, I would work closely with our nonprofit and community partners and experts in the disability community to make sure that we are providing the appropriate tools and resources to make these pledges a reality for thousands of students.
Bruce Majors
 
Most students cannot access higher education because of its exploding costs or because their high school education left them unprepared for collegeI believe in expanding school choice, including on line education, which I think would make it more accessible to many disabled peopleI think DC government hiring should not discriminate against people with on line andother innovative educations or degrees.
Andy Shallal
As I mentioned in the previous question, we need to make sure that our youth with disabilitiesare fully informed about their opportunities to get more advanced degrees, and that there are well-funded transition services. Programs that feature counseling by peers who’ve been successful in earning higher degrees would be especially helpful.
Candidates who did not submit a questionnaireresponse
Carlos Allen
Vincent Orange
Tommy Wells

4. What will you do to help people with disabilities get prepared for entering the workforce? How will you help them get jobs and careers?
Muriel Bowser
Question not answered
Jack Evans
Physical disabilities should not hinder residents from entering the workforce. Unfortunately, 37.5 percent of District residents with disabilities are living in poverty while 32.5 percent suffer from unemployment and 22 percent continue to search for work. As Mayor, I will continue my success as Councilmember in getting residents back to work. I will ensure the Office of Disability Rights administers effective guidance connecting residents to services and benefits. My administration will encourage the D.C. Commission on Persons with Disabilities to work with the Workforce Development Council in developing innovative methodologies for preparing disabled residents for the job market.
Vincent Gray
I am committed to advancing DC’s Employment First Initiative, so that adults with disabilities consider employment as their primary option. I will continue to work with DDS and all District Government agencies that provide employment support services and private sector employers to encourage customized employment tailored to the individual’s strengths.

I will seek feedback from the Association of People Supporting Employment (ASPE) and the Employment First Leadership Consortium on the barriers facing individuals in the District who are seeking employment, and what can be done to address them, and to connect qualified job seekers with available positions.

My administration will ensure that people with disabilities are aware that they are an asset to the workplace, and that they know their rights including that reasonable accommodations are available to them from application process to their first day on the job.

I will encourage a greater emphasis on recruiting a substantial number of young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities into the Summer Youth Employment Program and other seasonal internship opportunities.

My administration will develop, establish, and implement a mentor-mentee program within the District Government and DC Council, pairing up professionals with students and job-seekers with disabilities.







Reta Jo Lewis
 
Looking at the statistics you presented at the top of this questionnaire regarding higher education, employment rates, income, and poverty, it is clear that we need to have a better course of action.

In my previous answer, I spoke about pathways to higher education and/or vocational training for youth, but it’s not just limited to our young peoplePeople of all ages aspire to do more and we should provide and promote those opportunities.

I would work closely with the nonprofit and advocacy community, our government agencies like the Department of Employment Services (DOES), and our partners in the labor community and the private sector to find solutions to bridge the very deep divides in the statistics you sharedWe have opportunities to create solid programs that will provide pathways to additional training and education, to create jobs that offer advancement opportunities, and to look at ways to provide incentives to employers who hire people with disabilitiesIn fact, there are numerous programs that nonprofits (often times the service provider in many of our communities) already haveOur government can and should leverage those programs with resources, relationships and promotion.
Bruce Majors
 
I believe all people disadvantaged in the workplace, including graduates of bad public schools and returning citizens, are mainly helped by reducing the unemployment rate and encouraging job creationI think we need to remove all the impediments to locating jobs in DC, includingdemonizing certain employers like big block storesI think a program of tax credits for hiring or training the disabled (and others) can be justified, especially if it means they become independent.
Andy Shallal
The city should work with both public and private employers to encourage them to include youth with disabilities in their internship programs. If such internships are scarce, the city could foster their development within city agencies, and work with local businesses to develop similar internship opportunities. What we want to move away from is the historical pattern of “gimp ghetto” jobs, the dead-end jobs that have all too often been the destination of youth with disabilities looking for career experience.
Candidates who did not submit a questionnaireresponse
Carlos Allen
Vincent Orange
Tommy Wells

5. How will you use your entrée into the business community to see the disability community as an important part of their consumer base?
Muriel Bowser
Question not answered
Jack Evans
The disability community, like any other community, deserves to benefit from responsible economic development. It is important to remember that many of the tourists coming to visit our city live with disabilities. We must ensure that they enjoy the same rights and access to our great city as everyone else. Creative financing opportunities and public-private partnerships can tremendously benefit the disability community.

The disability community constitutes a key consumer base. As Mayor, I will use my influence, experience, and leadership within the business community to make sure that the disability community is respected and valued for their contributions. 
Vincent Gray
I will create and develop city-wide public service announcements educating businesses that customers with disabilities help grow their financial market and wealth.

Because customers seeing employees with disabilities are more likely to support and buy from those businesses more often, I will actively partner and work with businesses on recruiting and hiring qualified residents with disabilities.
Reta Jo Lewis
 
I do not believe the community is just an important part of the consumer base, but the workforce as wellI have been fortunate over my 35-year career to work with the business community and trade associationsI know that there many in the business community that would be delighted to join our city in tackling some of our most difficult challengesBut there are issues with that – our government has been under a persistent air of corruption, our political officials have failed to adequately engage in conversations or leverage the commitments of our private sector partners.

I will use the relationships and networks that I have amassed over 35 years with the private sector, government at all levels, and with the advocacy and nonprofit community to advance all of our goals and objectives.

And in discussions with potential large employers that want to invest and do business in our city, I will ensure that all stakeholders are included from the beginning.

I will reiterate part of my answer to the previous question, however, which is that we can work with businesses to ensure more inclusion of people with disabilitiesThis could be in a number of ways, from incentives to assisting with ramps and other equipment or technologies to make businesses more accessible.

Bruce Majors
 
I think most businesses are capable on their own of figuring out that there is a         market, but I would be happy to highlight it.
Andy Shallal
As the owner of five restaurants in the Washington metro area (3 in DC, 1 in Maryland, and 1 in Virginia), I value every single customer. My staff is trained to be attentive to the various needs of people from the disability community.

According to a recent report from ARC of DC, U.S. Census figures show that roughly 20% of District residents, or 114,000 people, are persons with disabilitiesI would make sure that city agencies include this information in all their work on economic development and small business outreach. And as discussed above in (1), I will phase in strict          enforcement of the ADA.
Candidates who did not submit a questionnaireresponse
Carlos Allen
Vincent Orange
Tommy Wells

6. What will you do to improve DC transportation options for people with        disabilities, such as Metro, Metrobus, MetroAccess, and taxis?
Muriel Bowser
Question not answered
Jack Evans
I would prioritize investing in our infrastructure - whether it be roads, sidewalks or mass transit. Making sure our city is attractive and inviting to everyone will be a priority of my administration. A key element to any strategy is implementation, and as such I would look to partner with ODR, DDOT, WMATA, and other interested stakeholders to create an infrastructure that is disability friendly.


​ ​ DC Disability Community Mayoral Candidates Forum Questionnaire Responses Saturday, March 8, 2014 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. National Youth Transitions Center 2013 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 1. What would you do to make Washington DC a more disability-friendly city? Muriel Bowser I am pleased that Washington, DC has already made many accommodations for residents with disabilities, especially in the realm of mobility issues and the streetscape. There is always more that we can do, however. Jack Evans As Mayor, I will work to develop a comprehensive plan for those living with disabilities. With 1 in 5 Americans living with a disability, it is vital that family, friends, and advocates collectively work to provide and access resources to live in the District. Persons living with various disabilities face a 33.4% unemployment rate compared to 8% for those without disabilities. People with disabilities are also disproportionately behind in access to higher education, housing opportunities, and trail in average household income. I will collaborate with stakeholders such as the Department of Disability Services, Project ACTION!, D.C. Advocacy Partners, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and Disabled Veterans of America to make D.C. accessible and convenient to every resident, especially for those living with disabilities. I will aggressively address housing issues for people with disabilities, close the affordability gap for residents relying on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and ensure units across our city offer specific features and technologies accommodating to people with disabilities. Vincent Gray In order to make the District of Columbia more disability-friendly, I would encourage universal design in new construction. By designing for the lifespan of our residents, we make the city accessible not only to people with disabilities, but also age-friendly. I also commit to working with the DC Council to establish and pass “Visitability” legislation, requiring zero step entry into homes and an accessible ½ bathroom on the ground floor, to apply to newly constructed single-family homes and town or row homes. I will also work towards universal installation of accessible paths of travel, including properly positioned and marked curb cuts and walk signals with audio and numeral signals in business and residential areas. Reta Jo Lewis It all has to start with a solid understanding of the needs – only then can we find solutions. My entire career has been about inclusion and developing and building sustainable partnerships. I believe that far too often, our government takes what they think is the quickest and most cost-efficient route to issues impacting our city. The problem with this is that we fail to include all stakeholders in decisions and we fail to leverage other potential resources to ensure that we are really making an impact. There are many things that immediately come to mind, like making sure elevators are functional at all metro stations, repairing our city sidewalks, ensuring full accessibility in our technologies (like the D.C. government website), and ensuring cultural competencies in our agencies – just to name a few. Additionally, I think it is incumbent on our local government to ensure that they are hiring people with disabilities, that assistance is provided to businesses and employers regarding information on reasonable accommodations, that existing laws are modernized where necessary and enforced, and that barriers to employment and educational opportunities for people with disabilities are eliminated. But what we really need to do is to start with openness and transparency in our government so that we can engage the public and the nonprofit and advocacy groups in helping us to solve these critical issues. Bruce Majors I believe public property should have reasonable access to all people with disabilities, including both new construction and retro-fitting. Andy Shallal The most important action that I will take as the next Mayor of DC will be to phase in strict enforcement of the ADA. Almost a quarter-century after the passage of the ADA, far too many of our public and private buildings are not in compliance with the ADA. A study released by the ARC of DC reported that “about 40% of District residents with disabilities report having a physical disability and may need some accommodations to access housing and public building.” This question of physical access represents an acute problem for people in wheelchairs. As a restaurant owner, I am especially aware of the very high number of restaurants which do not have ADA-compliant bathrooms, creating truly nightmarish scenarios for people who find they cannot access the facilities. It is long past the time when every establishment serving the public should at the very least provide ADA-compliant bathrooms. I will fight to end the shameful number of elevator outages on the Metro. The repeated failures are the bane of existence for anyone counting on them. Metro should have installed at least two elevators at every station. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells 2. What will you do to ensure that students with disabilities in DC have access to a quality education and receive the supports and services they need? Muriel Bowser Regarding schools, I will require the Office of the State Superintendent for Education to survey and report on a quarterly basis. Schools must be retrofitted to ensure ADA compliance. We can and must better serve all of our students. I am concerned that we have enough counselors and behavioral specialists to work with students whose needs are not physical, and I look forward to getting the recommendations from advocates. Jack Evans We must ensure that special need students are able to attend public schools and that these schools are equipped to handle their needs. It is federal law that students with special needs be educated in the least restrictive environment—with as much exposure as possible to the general curriculum and a wide range of peers. We must ensure that teachers (DCPS or DCPCS) have the appropriate special need certification and experience. When students with special needs in public schools are given the appropriate tools and services, they are more likely to graduate, and are more likely to succeed in post-secondary opportunities. Vincent Gray My administration will work to ensure that students and parents are informed of their right to education, the process for requesting services through either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, or both. I will continue my commitment to promoting and providing early intervention services through Part C & Part B, including assessment services to detect and identify developmental delays in infants and toddlers. I am dedicated to ensuring that all eligible secondary students with disabilities attending traditional public, public charter schools and non-public schools are connected to transition services provided through DC Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) during the last two years of their secondary education. Reta Jo Lewis We have seen how much transportation has become an issue for students with physical disabilities, and we have to make sure that we are providing reliable and predictable transportation services for our children. But we also have to make sure that we are providing top quality special needs education for students with disabilities, including learning disabilities. Currently, we do not have adequate services in our public charter schools to provide special needs education, which limits the options parents of special needs students in school choice. We also have to absolutely ensure that our facilities, technologies, and resources are fully accessible to students with special needs. This is not just about making sure that we have functional ramps and elevators, but also our computers, books, and other learning tools. You know, I grew up in Statesboro, Georgia – a city with less than 30,000 people – in the heart of the segregated South. Growing up, we had separate water fountains. The takeholders to create an infrastructure that is disability friendly. Currently, D.C. is one of the lowest rated cities for the physically disabled. As Mayor, I will implement innovative ideas to improve transportation. I would investigate the feasibility of operating paratransit buses throughout the city. Some cities in the U.S. have already successfully incorporated such means of transportation for their residents. I will also work to make rail stations are 100% ADA compliant. As Mayor, I will propose the creation of a Healthy Community Mapping System for residents to track the actual accessibility of buildings, fitness centers, sidewalks and stores. The system will also notify residents of where they can find amenities where they may encounter steep sidewalks or narrow doors. Vincent Gray I will begin by communicating the intricate connection of readily available transportation options to higher quality of life, employment, and social and recreational opportunities. I will work to ensure that DC Taxi drivers, both old and new are trained on disability sensitivity/etiquette. Presently the DC Taxi Commission (DCTC) has an accessibility workgroup which includes ODR, OHR, the DC Commission on Persons with Disabilities and the Developmental Disabilities Council. The workgroup is charged with assisting the DCTC in increasing the number of accessible taxis in the District. The taskforce just submitted their report which provides a blueprint for achieving enhanced accessibility over the next 7 years to me and the Council. My administration will work with WMATA to ensure that DC Government participates on the Accessibility Advisory Committee, so that the city can stay abreast of the issues relevant to Metro rail\bus and MetroAccess riders with disabilities. Reta Jo Lewis I would look at ways to make sure that we are providing all our residents with quality transportation. In particular for the disability community, however, we have to make sure that our public transit options are accessible, and this includes not just getting on or off the bus or metro, but also making sure that individuals with disabilities have a safe and clear pathway to get from their residence to the bus stop or metro. There are miles of sidewalks in our city that are currently impassable or unsafe for people with mobility issues Bruce Majors I'd be happy to do anything reasonable to expand this access, but I would also encourage the deregulation of barriers to entry to more transportation providers in D.C., like Uber and Lift, which could develop special services for the handicapped if they were allowed to and saw a market for them. Andy Shallal I believe that the city has never given a high-enough priority to providing affordable, reliable transportation options to people with disabilities. As a result, we end up with a subway system with only one elevator per station, a decision that was guaranteed to result in making the use of the Metro much less desirable for those dependent on these elevators. As Mayor, I would fight to put the needs of the disabled first in all city and metro transportation planning. As I mentioned in (1), in the short run, I would fight to end the shameful number of elevator outages by whatever means possible, like increasing the frequency of inspections and maintenance. I would push for Metro to include at least two elevators in all new Metro stations. I would also push for sufficient funding to make other services like MetroAccess available at little or no cost to people with disabilities. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells 7. As the District implements the Affordable Care Act, how will you make sure people with disabilities have access to quality healthcare, including necessary specialists? Muriel Bowser Question not answered Jack Evans I believe it is essential that residents, including our most vulnerable residents, receive adequate health care. As the District rolls out the Affordable Care Act, I will be mindful that people with disabilities are fully resourced and matched with the appropriate specialists. I also expanded the number of persons eligible for healthcare services provided by the Health Care Safety Net Administration. I co-sponsored legislation establishing a process for qualified individuals to make decisions on behalf of incapacitated patients, by involving the Superior Court of D.C in appointing a health care guardian in consideration of the patients best interests. Vincent Gray I will ensure that people with disabilities are aware of the services provided to them by the Health Benefit Exchange, including the opportunity to explore varying insurance plans, and familiarize themselves with the changes to DC Medicaid under the ACA. I commit to utilizing the Medicaid Incentives for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) available to the fullest extent possible (i.e. options involving 1915(i), health home services, Community First options, Balancing Incentive Payments Program). District residents need to be educated and understand Medicaid-funded Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). My administration will communicate the commitment to three fundamental principles: 1) Establishing Protections for Individuals with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions; 2) Ensuring Access to Appropriate Care and Qualified Providers, and; 3) Ensuring Managed Care Systems Do Not Discriminate Against People with Disabilities. In addition, we must recognize and communicate that successful MCOs possess tailored approaches to meet unique long-term support and service (LTSS) needs of Districts residents with disabilities and that services must be directed by individual choice, person-centered planning, and consumer self-direction. Reta Jo Lewis The mayor has the ability to expand on the new regulations in the ACA at a local level. I would start by working with disability experts to identify what additional protections are needed and how we could remedy this through executive action and/or the regulatory process. I believe that all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, have a right to have access to great and affordable healthcare services. I do not believe that individuals who are in need of a specialist’s care should have to bargain with their insurance providers. These decisions should be made between a patient and their doctor. Bruce Majors I doubt the Affordable Care Act is going to survive. If we are lucky its disastrous consequences will be the springboard for long overdue intelligent reforms of our sclerotized health care system, where consumers have been denied choice and competition for decades. I believe if we had free markets in health care many disabled people would already have been restored to wholeness and wellness. In the freest parts of the healthcare market we see rapid innovation and falling prices (for example, Lasik surgery). If we had this nationally across the entire health care industry I think we would already have many more cures and treatments, from gene therapy to medical devices, that would greatly improve disabled people's lives. Andy Shallal Many people with disabilities are unable to get health care, or only at exorbitant costs, because insurance companies treat their disabilities as pre-existing conditions. The ACA is a huge step forward because it removes the heavy yoke of pre-existing conditions. And by severing the tie with employment-based health insurance, the ACA makes it possible for disabled people fortunate enough to have employer-provided insurance to leave jobs with no opportunities for advancement to look for better careers without losing their health care. As Mayor, I will be a strong defender of the ACA. Loss of the ACA would mean the loss of the Community First Option. Without the federal funds from this program to support home-based care, people with disabilities would undoubtedly be forced back into less desirable nursing homes or other forms of institutionalized care. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells 8. What will you do to increase affordable, accessible housing proportionally across the District? Muriel Bowser One of the most talked about issues during this cold winter has been the homelessness crisis. Not all of our homeless neighbors have disabilities, nor do all those in need of affordable housing, but the members of these communities who are living with disabilities face even more challenges. My plan to create and preserve affordable housing will ensure that more affordable units are available to more residents, but as we create new and remodel older units, they will be brought into ADA compliance. Jack Evans I am committed to ensuring that all District residents can afford to both live and work here in the city and am a proven supporter of affordable housing. That is why I created the funding mechanism for the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). Unfortunately, my colleagues have voted to redirect substantial amounts of this funding in order to balance our budget during tough economic times. As Mayor, I will continue my efforts to ensure HPTF dollars are not used for other purposes during the inevitable periods of financial duress. I will continue my commitment to ensuring it is at the forefront of the housing conversation. As the Chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, I have a strong record of supporting tax incentives to create affordable housing throughout the District. I was instrumental in creating the Housing Strategy Task Force, which is designed to assess the quality and availability of housing for residents and workers at all income levels. I also introduced legislation to create a “Community Impact Fund,” an offset program that provides support to the District’s social benefit programs and could be utilized by the District to provide new revenue sources for various projects such as affordable housing Vincent Gray I will begin instituting and enforcing 6-8% set asides of accessible units in large, newly constructed condo and rental unit complexes. I will work to establish and provide tax breaks and other incentives to businesses/owners of large, newly constructed condo and rental unit complexes to set aside 10-15% in affordable housing units for individuals representing the disability, low-income, marginalized, and/or under-represented communities. I will also ensure that these units are effectively marketed to people with disabilities. I will provide substantial first time home-buyer incentives and other financial options in the form of grants and low percentage loans to the disability, low-income, marginalized, and/or under-represented communities. Reta Jo Lewis Affordable housing has become a crisis in our city. A decade ago, it was a problem, but today it is a crisis. As mayor, I plan to recreate the standards by which development takes place in our city. While we have standards on the books right now regarding development projects and ensuring that we are creating a percentage of affordable and accessible housing units in each new development, those standards are often exempted or simply not enforced. This has to change. Further complicating the issue is that we have not replaced the affordable housing units that have come off-line in the past decade, which has forced thousands of residents to have to relocate outside of the city. We need some serious solutions to this crisis, including ensuring a full commitment of $100 million each year to the Housing Production Trust Fund. A consistent and predictable funding source would allow us to leverage private dollars for investment as well. I will make these investments as your mayor. I will also partner with our community and nonprofit organizations, many of whom are service providers to our residents in need, to ensure that we are working collaboratively to help our residents holistically – from housing support, to support for food assistance, childcare, etc. Navigating our government’s agencies is extremely difficult and tedious. We need to do a better of job of breaking down siloes and caring for our residents in a comprehensive manner. Bruce Majors Zoning and other regulation has been shown to increase the cost of housing by 30-40% in urban areas with more layers of government. Additionally DC restricts the supply of housing by limiting the height of buildings. DC also has allegedly pro-tenancy laws that drive small investors out of DC, inducing them to sell small multi-unit building to people who convert them to condominiums or raze them to build luxury apartment buildings. I am in favor of ending all laws and regulations that restrict the supply of housing. I also favor a tax credit for developers who choose to build include some units for moderate income or disabled residents. Andy Shallal Throughout this campaign, every single candidate except the current Mayor has been critical of what we have all been referring to as an “affordable housing crisis.” And every candidate has promised to spend far more than the city has been spending over the last five years, at least $100 million a year, to produce several tens of thousands of new housing units. (Not to mention the explosion of high-rise condo and apartment building that has been going on, creating thousand of additional private units.) But as the wording of this question makes clear, the crisis is really one of affordable and accessible housing. We are missing a great opportunity during this public and private building boom to create an unprecedented but very-much needed change in the availability of accessible housing at every income level. I mentioned earlier an estimate by the Arc of DC that as many as 40% of DC residents have some kind of physical disability, and that many of them need some accommodations to access homes and buildings. But with the Boomers moving into their elderly years, the number of people with physical disabilities is about to soar. As the Boomers age, more and more will no longer be able to function in the homes which they are currently living in. I have been a supporter of inclusionary zoning, which requires developers to provide a fixed percentage of “affordable” housing in any major development. As Mayor, I will work to add “accessible” as a separate, although sometimes overlapping, category which all developers must meet. In its most expansive form, universal design, we might require that all housing be built as accessible housing. Such a change would make it much easier for aging boomers to make the transition to increasing restrictions on mobility. But even if we should decide not to embrace such a complete change, we need to require enough accessible housing so that there is housing at every price range that is both affordable and accessible. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells 9. How will you implement the District’s Olmstead Community Integration Plan? Muriel Bowser Question not answered. Jack Evans Implementing and enforcing the District’s Olmstead Plan simply requires leadership. In 2009, the Supreme Court spoke and told us to eliminate vestiges of unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. I will enforce President Obama’s proclamation that launched the “Year of Community Living,” and will redouble enforcement efforts. As Mayor, I will ensure the District is in compliance by working with local government officials, disability rights groups, ODR, and the local community Vincent Gray The District has a comprehensive Olmstead plan in place, “DC – One Community for All.” The plan, which was released in 2011, is one of the most comprehensive in the country and incorporates the planning needs and services of children and adults served by nine DC Government Agencies. The plan ensures interagency collaboration among the participating agencies to ensure that people transitioning from non-community based settings into the community of their choice have the proper supports to live and participate meaningfully in the community. I understand that transition does not end once a person is placed in the community; transition is a process, and thinking ahead to each individual’s goals and how DC government agency’ can work together to provide the support to reach them is a key component to the spirit of the Olmstead mandate. Reta Jo Lewis I am supportive of the overall objectives of the Olmstead Community Integration Plan, but what I would want to make certain of are a couple of key elements: • Do the goals meet the objectives not just of the high court’s ruling, but do they go far enough for ensuring both equality and inclusion (the decision was handed down 15 years ago); • I would want to make certain that there was adequate involvement from the community at large, as well as from experts in the disability community and our nonprofit and advocate groups; and • This is a clear example of why our agencies cannot operate in siloes. I would want to make certain that every organization charged with responsibilities under this plan are working collaboratively in an inter-agency manner, as well as working collaboratively and effectively with our partners outside of government. I would be supportive of a review board that is comprised on not just government officials and employees, but of members from the public and our partners as well. Bruce Majors I generally oppose federal mandates and federal definitions of who is or is not disabled (who is or is not a Native American, etc. etc.) D.C. often finds itself at odds with the federal government on policy issues from same sex marriage to reproductive choice. I don't favor federal control of how D.C. formulates policies. Andy Shallal The plan calls for cooperation across a range of city agencies that are better known for their silo-ed isolation than their ability to work together. The challenge of complying with the Olmstead decision is formidable. As Mayor, I will make implementing the plan a priority of my administration. We need to make as many people who can to live on their own, outside the strictures of nursing homes or other forms of institutionalization. My goal would be to have this plan fully operational before the end of my first term in office. In addition to staying on top of the activities of the many city agencies involved, I would also reach out to nonprofit groups that work on these problems for regular assessments of the city’s actions (or non-actions) from their perspectives. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells 10. How will you ensure that your administration and appointees include people with disabilities? Muriel Bowser I look forward to working with the disability communities and ensuring that all District residents are included in and have a voice in my administration. Jack Evans In my administration, I will be proud to have representation from a diverse demographic. There is no better way to ensuring the disability community has a voice than to start from the top down. I am committed to working with all stakeholders to make D.C. the most attractive place in the world. My administration will model that diversity. Vincent Gray I will actively recruit qualified individuals with disabilities for jobs in the District government. I will ensure that DCHR has an inclusive pre-employment, offer, and post-employment process where individuals are made aware and encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunity to request reasonable accommodations. My administration will implement the proposal drafted by DSS, ODR and DCHR to give “point preference” for applicants with disabilities when applying for District employment. Mirroring the Federal Government’s “Schedule A” program, the “point preference” is parallel to the “point preference” provided to Veterans. Reta Jo Lewis I have fought my entire life for the inclusion of people. As your next mayor, I have pledged that my administration will be the most inclusive administration our city has ever seen, and that includes people with disabilities. I have also pledged to have the most transparent and accountable government our city has ever had. To that end, I will make all my appointments transparent to the residents of the city and I would expect to be held to a high standard to ensure that we are appointing the right people to the right positions and that the administration I would lead is truly representative of our city Bruce Majors I would do an active job search for qualified candidates. Andy Shallal I would begin by including at least one person from the disability committee on my transition committee to make sure the disability community had a voice at the table on this important group to identify qualified nominees from the disability community. Likewise, I would charge all of my appointees to be equally rigorous in their outreach to the disability community for job applicants. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells 11. How would you like to see the disability community hold you accountable during your administration? Muriel Bowser Question not answered Jack Evans I believe it is important to have community input. Together, we can hold each other accountable and work to make D.C. a city that works for all. Transparency and efficient government have been a staple of my tenure as Ward 2 Councilmember. As Mayor, I will continue the policies that have made me the longest serving Councilmember in D.C. history. Vincent Gray I encourage you to use the informal dispute resolution process available through ODR when issues doing business with DC government arise. Please communicate with us and let us know when we’re doing well, and when there are barriers we should address. Please also contact agency ADA Coordinators as they can provide a connected lifeline for assistance in issues that may arise when dealing with a particular agency. Reta Jo Lewis As I have previously stated, my career has been about inclusion and partnerships. As mayor, I hope that the disability community would rate my effectiveness in being a good partner, ensuring their inclusion on matters that are important to them, and working in an honest and collaborative way to help address the most pressing needs in the disability community. More specifically, I believe that this means holding me accountable to ensure that our government is actively hiring and employing people with disabilities, that we are providing assistance to businesses and employers regarding information on reasonable accommodations, that we are enforcing existing laws and modernizing the laws where necessary, and that we are working every day to eliminate barriers to employment and educational opportunities for people with disabilities. The theme of my campaign is to create a “21st century world-class city that works for everyone.” I believe in this theme because D.C. will never truly be world-class until we do work for all. I know that, together, we can make this happen. Bruce Majors In the same way as any other voter. Andy Shallal I would hold regular meetings with representatives of the disability community where I could hear their issues of concern and get feedback on the actions of my administration. I would also have a staff person within my office to be a liaison between my office, relevant city agencies, and the disability community. Candidates who did not submit a questionnaire response Carlos Allen Vincent Orange Tommy Wells Vote April 1! Absentee Voting by Mail March 1 - March 25 Deadline to request: March 25 Early Voting One Judiciary Square March 17- March 29 All 13 Early Voting Centers March 22 - March 29 (Closed Sundays)

Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6
Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

Campaign 2014

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