Mayor Vincent C. Gray Announces End-of-Year Accomplishments
Mayor Vincent C. Gray Announces End-of-Year Accomplishments
On January 2nd, 2011, Vincent C. Gray became the sixth mayor of the District of Columbia. One year later, Mayor Gray has been aggressive about moving the District forward despite a challenging economy. From day one, the Mayor has steadfastly remained focused on job creation and economic growth, quality education, fiscal stability and safe communities while tirelessly promoting self-determination and sustainability for the District of Columbia.
CREATING JOBS AND GROWING OUR ECONOMY
The Gray Administration is reducing unemployment: Despite taking office amid a still-sluggish national economy and historically high unemployment rates in the District, Mayor Gray’s efforts to get District residents back to work have been successful in reducing the unemployment rate. In November alone, the rate dropped by nearly half a percentage point. Although we still have a long way to go, the number of private-sector jobs in the District has increased by 17,100 (or 3.7 percent) since Mayor Gray took office.
Long-stalled major development projects are now moving ahead: While development in most American cities is dormant, the District of Columbia is brimming with new development, including 14 major projects currently under construction. There are currently $2.14 billion worth of District-affiliated projects under construction, creating over 3,350 temporary construction jobs and almost 6,000 permanent jobs. They include massive private-sector-funded projects that were long stalled or tied up in red tape – such as the City Center project on the site of the old Convention Center and the City Market at O project. When complete, they will grow our economy, create jobs and bring in millions of dollars in additional revenues to the District through sales and property taxes as well as income taxes for new residents whom they will attract.
Additional major development projects are in the pipeline for construction: Through the Gray Administration’s hard work, the District is on track to leverage $11 billion in private-sector investment that will create more than 56,000 construction jobs and more than 50,000 permanent jobs over the next three years.
The One City ● One Hire Program is connecting unemployed District residents with jobs: The new Department of Employment Services-led project has, in its first four months, placed more than 1,400 previously jobless D.C. residents in positions for which they are qualified – and in its second phase, is registering employment seekers who were previously unknown to DOES and connecting them with jobs and job-training opportunities. More than 350 employers have signed on to participate in the program, and new ones are signing up almost daily.
More District contractors are hiring District residents: Mayor Gray stepped up enforcement of the District’s First Source Law, which requires city contractors to hire a certain percentage of District residents. From the passage of the First Source law in 1984 until the beginning of the Gray Administration, there were zero enforcement actions for violators. Since Mayor Gray took office, he has elevated the enforcement mechanism to the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and issued 22 enforcement warnings – with more to come. Mayor Gray has also signed new legislation strengthening the District’s capacity to implement First Source, and has launched a pilot program to incentivize contractors to hire more District residents this summer on five school modernization projects. These efforts have already catapulted the District to a 51 percent hire rate in March 2011 for the first time in over a decade.
Mayor Gray re-formed the long-dormant Workforce Investment Council: Mayor Gray has appointed two respected business and labor leaders to lead the council -- PNC Bank Senior Vice President Michael N. Harreld as chair and Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO president Joslyn Williams as vice chair -- to lead the council. The panel is assisting the Mayor in revitalizing and refocusing the District’s job-training strategy so that District residents have the skills they need to compete for jobs in the high-growth industries projected for our region’s future.
The Gray Administration has officially made the District the nation’s first 100-gigabit city: The first link in the D.C. government’s new high-speed fiber network, the D.C. Community Access Network (DC-CAN), has gone live with 100-gigabit-per-second (100G) service – enabling the kind of technology-infrastructure development vital to competing in a 21st-century economy. The initial link serves communities east of the Anacostia River, but the ultra-high-speed network will soon serve the entire District – providing infrastructure not currently available on such a large scale anywhere else in the country, and doing so at affordable prices.
Mayor Gray has worked with the D.C. Council to initiate the transition of the Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC) into an independent institution: Separation from the University of the District of Columbia will better enable CCDC to provide cost-effective post-secondary skills training in high-job-growth industries for District residents.
Mayor Gray successfully reformed the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP): Unlike in past years -- which were marred by huge cost overruns and significant programmatic glitches -- this year the program employed thousands of youths, matched young people to jobs that suited their skill sets and career goals, had virtually no complications and came in under budget.
PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL
Education reform is moving forward under Chancellor Kaya Henderson: Mayor Gray has supported D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson in her efforts to continue the successes of school reform in the District, including ensuring teacher accountability and classroom performance through the IMPACT system while observing proper due process for employment decisions and avoiding costly litigation.
DCPS enrollment is growing: DCPS has seen a reversal in its long decline in enrollment, with the first increase in decades coming this year – including dramatic growth in Pre-K and elementary-school enrollment made possible by Mayor Gray’s leadership when he chaired the D.C. Council.
School modernization efforts are continuing and expanding to new campuses: Mayor Gray has cut the ribbon on five new or modernized state-of-the-art school campuses – including the grand opening of a new Science, Technology, Electronics and Math (STEM) campus at H.D. Woodson High School; the modernized and expanded Woodrow Wilson High School and Anacostia High School; a brand-new Janney Elementary School and a new Takoma Education Campus. Mayor Gray has also held groundbreakings for the modernization of Cardozo and Dunbar High Schools, and has made a commitment to build a brand-new Ballou Senior High School. In addition, the administration has secured $100,000 in private funds for the development of an enhanced facility plan for schools.
More special-education students are being mainstreamed from private placements into D.C. Public Schools: Mayor Gray has made substantial progress towards meeting his goal of reducing by half the number of children with disabilities in non-public school placements while ensuring they receive the appropriate educational services they deserve. These students now have the chance to study with their peers and neighbors and experience shorter commutes to school. These changes also save District taxpayers millions of dollars in tuition and transportation costs. At the time Mayor Gray took office, there were 2,204 students enrolled in non-public placements. As of December 13, there were 1,783 students enrolled in such placements -- a nearly 20 percent decrease. In only the first year of Mayor Gray’s efforts, he has reached nearly 40 percent of his goal to reduce the number of District students in such placements to 1,102 by 2014.
Mayor Gray is implementing ways to increase transparency and accountability in the District’s public charter schools: In December, Mayor Gray and the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB) debuted school performance reports, the result of a two-year process of engagement and feedback from the education community and government stakeholders. The reports reveal school scores from the PCSB's Performance Management Framework. Schools are ranked by performance into 3 tiers, enabling transparent information sharing about school quality and communication to the public about the performance of the city's public charter schools.
PROTECTING THE DISTRICT’S FISCAL STABILITY
For the first time in years, the District is not spending from its critical reserve funds to balance its budget: Although the previous administration had balanced budgets by spending down the District’s savings account by hundreds of millions of dollars, Mayor Gray has protected the city’s top-tier credit rating by making hard choices to balance the budget structurally – including spending cuts and employee furloughs as well as modest revenue increases. He worked with the Council to establish a budget that not only protects the city’s reserve fund, but also begins to replenish it – and he accomplished this despite inheriting a massive (approximately $325 million) budget gap.
Mayor Gray is implementing ways to make the District government more fiscally efficient now and in the future: Mayor Gray has created a Capital Improvement Plan to manage capital projects strategically, consolidated capital-improvement and management functions from multiple agencies into a new Department of General Services to reduce redundancies and inefficiencies across the government, and instituted the One City Performance Review process, which is engaging in an extensive top-to-bottom review of the District’s government and budget to find more ways to save money for taxpayers while still delivering quality city services.
The Gray Administration has reduced spending pressures rather than neglecting them: Mayor Gray created a task force that identifies spending pressures caused by unexpected cost increases and immediately seeks ways to remediate them. The efforts of this task force have kept spending pressures to a lower amount at this point in the fiscal year than any other year in the post-Control Board era.
BUILDING SAFE COMMUNITIES
The District is on pace to have its lowest number of annual homicides in half a century: As of December 30th, there have been 108 murders in the District – approximately 18 percent fewer than at this time last year. This figure is bolstered by the Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide-case-closure rate of 94 percent, which is significantly higher than the national average.
After several years of decline, the number of sworn officers in the Metropolitan Police Department is now increasing: Mayor Gray identified funds in his Fiscal Year 2012 budget to recruit and hire 300 new officers for the first time in years – including reopening the Metropolitan Police Academy. Despite significant budget cuts across the government, Mayor Gray proposed and passed a FY 2012 budget that maintains current levels of spending for public-safety agencies.
Fire and Emergency Medical Services have been strengthened: Mayor Gray reopened the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) Academy to new recruits for the first time in several years, and the response time for EMS calls is improving thanks to investments in advanced software applications, which promote greater service delivery for 911 and 311 services.
Mayor Gray signed an executive order increasing the trust between the District’s public-safety officials and the immigrant community: The Mayor’s order ensures that the District’s law-enforcement personnel will not be used as agents of federal immigration law enforcement, increasing their ability to prevent crime in immigrant communities.
OTHER MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Mayor Gray brought international attention to the District’s self-determination cause: Through his arrest for protesting a congressional budget deal that sacrificed D.C. autonomy, Mayor Gray focused the media spotlight on the District’s lack of self-determination and representation in Congress. The attention also helped Mayor Gray and other District leaders secure a commitment from the Republican leader of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), to work toward finding a way to bring budget autonomy to the District.
Mayor Gray has launched the Sustainable D.C. initiative, pledging to make the District the world’s most sustainable city. Led by the District’s Office of Planning (OP) and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), the initiative brings a government-wide focus on environmental sustainability as well as other agencies across the government.
The Gray Administration is in the final stages of settling the 37-year-old Dixon lawsuit: On September 12, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan gave preliminary approval to a settlement agreement that moves the District closer to an end to court oversight of its public mental health system, instituted when Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital was managed by the federal government. The judge also set December 31, 2011, as the deadline for public comment.
Mayor Gray is bringing D.C.’s taxicab system into the 21st Century: Mayor Gray has begun reforming the District’s taxicab system by appointing a forward-thinking Taxicab Commission chairman and working with Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), taxicab drivers and taxi companies to propose reform legislation that will improve regulatory capacity and modernize amenities (including credit-card payment, GPS and electronic record-keeping). The reforms will ensure that the system will work better for drivers, businesses and customers alike.
The Mayor stepped up efforts to battle the HIV epidemic in the District: Mayor Gray established the Mayor’s Commission on HIV and AIDS and began planning for AIDS 2012, a massive international conference which will bring approximately 20,000 HIV researchers, service providers and activists to Washington this summer. The HIV/AIDS Commission will study and recommend strategies for curbing the District's high rates of infection, as well as better treating residents already living with the disease. The Gray Administration has also implemented immediate measures to reduce the rate of HIV infection – including the establishment of a treatment-on-demand program with rapid assistance for those who learn they are HIV-positive.
Mayor Gray has re-established a focus on transparency in the District government: Prior to his election, Mayor Gray was vocal about prioritizing his availability to the greater community and being responsive to the District’s press corps. Since January, Mayor Gray has been involved in over 200 community meetings, ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings, self-determination events and press conferences – including regularly making himself available for scores of interviews and press briefings. He has tirelessly represented the District government at local events to hear first-hand the issues of District residents and businesses, engaging in upwards of 700 external meetings working on solutions to problems facing the city.
In November, Mayor Gray instituted an ethics pledge for all Cabinet-level staff: Signed by all members of his Cabinet, the pledge affirms that government employees are public servants and guardians of the public trust, underscoring the administration’s commitment to ethical and conscientious government. In early 2012, the rest of Mayor Gray’s political appointees will sign the pledge.
To ensure the highest-quality leadership for the District government, Mayor Gray has instituted rigorous background checks for all administration political appointees: The extensive investigations include criminal and civil history as well as credit checks – steps beyond what previous administrations required.
Mayor Gray has worked diligently to fill an unusually high number of vacancies on the District’s many boards and commissions: The Office of Boards and Commissions has vetted hundreds of candidates for their credentials to fill hundreds of vacancies on the vital panels that carry out much of the business of government and community engagement.
Mayor Gray has restored a working relationship and a sense of trust between the Executive Branch and the D.C. Council: The relationship between the two branches of government had been deeply strained under the previous administration and now enjoys more channels of communication and opportunities for cooperation and collaboration to advance the interests of the people of the District of Columbia.
The Gray Administration has reviewed and upgraded the District’s capacity to respond to severe winter weather: Mayor Gray and public-safety officials instituted a multi-agency review of equipment, response plans and personnel policies to ensure that DDOT, DPW, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agencies and other District entities are capable of responding quickly and effectively to snowstorms and other wintry precipitation. The effort includes the purchase of new plows and other snow-moving equipment, adoption of new personnel policies to prevent traffic difficulties during sudden winter-weather events and the launch of a comprehensive District winter-weather-preparedness website at www.snow.dc.gov.
Mayor Gray has convened citywide meetings with Advisory Neighborhood Commission chairs: A series of quarterly meetings with ANC chairs has established stronger lines of communication and a more collaborative working relationship between the Mayor’s staff and elected neighborhood leaders to ensure residents are receiving timely, high-quality city services.
Mayor Gray has transitioned the Lincoln Theatre to new leadership to preserve the historic landmark and put it on a sustainable financial footing for the future: With the theater at the brink of closing under an old, unsustainable business model and asking for another bailout from the city, Mayor Gray decided to transition it to new management under the leadership of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He committed $1 million to repairs in exchange for a mandate to modernize the historic performance venue’s business model to adapt it to its current environment and move it toward sustainability.
Independent analysis confirms that city services are continuing to improve under Mayor Gray: A recent analysis by The Washington Post and a Georgetown University researcher showed that the average amount of time it takes city agencies to respond to service requests has continued to decline over the last year – and that disparities in response time between different parts of the city has continued to equalize.