The Mayor Gray Report — October 23, 2012

THE MAYOR GRAY REPORT

October 23, 2012

District Unemployment Rate Drops For the Seventh Straight Month

Mayor Gray welcomed news that the District of Columbia’s unemployment rate continued to steadily decline, as preliminary September job estimates show a decrease of 0.1 percent to 8.7 percent. The number of unemployed District residents dropped by 300 from 31,200 in August to 30,900 in September. September’s numbers mark seven straight months of unemployment decline in the District. Since Mayor Gray took office in January 2011, the District economy has created over 23,300 jobs. September job estimates show an increase of 7,600 jobs for a total of 736,000 jobs in the District.

“The first strategy of my One City Action Plan is to grow and diversify the District’s economy to create jobs and today’s numbers show that we’re on the right track. The continued drop in employment is further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” noted Mayor Gray. “I welcome the drop to 8.7 percent, but we must continue to push to lower unemployment in all wards of the city.

From the Washington Post: ‘DC Had the Nation’s Third-Highest Job Growth in September’

“Only Texas and Pennsylvania added more than the 14,200 jobs D.C. added, according to seasonally adjusted numbers. The District had by far the largest over-the-month job growth by percentage (2 percent), ahead of Maine (0.9 percent). The growth, according to Labor Department statistics, was mainly driven by 11,700 additional government employees.

But according to unadjusted numbers released by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the city added 7,600 jobs in September, all but 200 of them in the private sector. Education jobs — particularly in “colleges, universities, and professional schools” — were by far the largest driver, adding 6,900 jobs for the month. That would suggest a seasonal bounce as higher-ed students come back to classes; the seasonally adjusted numbers show only 2,800 new jobs in the education and health sectors.” Read more.

Mayor Gray Announces Reforms to District’s Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Program

Mayor Gray and Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) Director Harold B. Pettigrew announced comprehensive program, regulatory and legislative reforms to strengthen the District’s Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program and support DC’s small businesses. The announcement follows Mayor Gray’s request for a comprehensive review of the CBE program and recommendations for its reform.

“Building resilient, diversified small and local businesses is a critical part of my strategy for developing a new economy in the District of Columbia,” said Mayor Gray. “The CBE program supports the businesses that anchor our communities and create jobs for District residents. By addressing its shortcomings now, this administration is strengthening those businesses and ensuring that they can continue to grow and create jobs for District residents.” Read more.

Mayor Gray, District Officials and Civic Leaders Open New Rosedale Library

Mayor Gray, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells and DC Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper joined Ward 6 community members for the grand opening of the new Rosedale Library. Located at 1701 Gales Street NE, Rosedale increases the number of libraries in the District to 26.

The state-of-the-art, 5,000-square-foot library features separate spaces for adults, teens and children, 15,000 new books, DVDs and other library materials, 22 computers (including four Macs for teens and four PCs for children), an early literacy station for young children and comfortable lounge seating.

“Across our city, I’ve been talking about how important it is for our children to receive a great education and for adults to be able to get quality training in growing job fields,” said Mayor Gray. “Libraries help make this happen, and in this new building, the things that make our city’s libraries great will all be available to the Rosedale community.” Read more.

Mayor Gray Kicks Off District’s Largest Tree Planting Season

Mayor Gray and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) officially kicked off the District’s tree planting season by planting a tree on Edmunds Street, NW near the Naval Observatory. This year’s campaign will be the largest single planting effort DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) has ever undertaken.

“This is an investment that will help grow a more sustainable DC,” said Mayor Gray. “Trees are so important to our quality of life and future generations will reap the benefits of the work we’re doing to expand the District’s canopy.” Read more.

Top Federal, District and Maryland Leaders Unveil the Design for the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail’s Final Link to Maryland

Following up on a commitment made last fall to deliver this key trail project, officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland and key U.S. federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Transportation, gathered at River Terrace Park along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to unveil the design of the final trail link, which will connect the District of Columbia and Maryland. This four-mile trail project, known as the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment, will be advertised by the end of the year with construction to begin next spring.

“This latest segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is an important part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative’s efforts to create a healthy, green, equitable and prosperous city – goals that go hand-in-hand with my Sustainable DC plan,” said DC Mayor Gray. “I’m excited today to unveil the trail’s unique design, which will give the public a window into the host of benefits this new regional trail link will provide to our neighbors in Maryland as well. We look forward to continued collaboration with our regional and federal partners as we move forward with construction and press ahead with our efforts to create a world-class Anacostia Riverfront in our city.” Read more.

Mayor Gray Announces DC Streetcar Financing and Governance Task Force

Mayor Gray announced he has established a Streetcar Financing and Governance Task Force to advise him on potential sources of funding and forms of governance for the District of Columbia’s emerging streetcar system.

“The District has the most ambitious streetcar plan in the nation. We are the only city talking about putting down 37 miles of tracks,” said Mayor Gray. “I want to make sure we have the best minds inside and outside the government working on the important issues of financing and governance to ensure the system has a firm foundation.”

The 14 member Task Force will be chaired by City Administrator Allen Y. Lew and will include 6 public members, appointed by the Mayor, with expertise in transportation systems design or engineering, public-private development partnerships, project financing and/or economic development. Read more.

Mayor Gray Congratulates Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright on New Position

Mayor Gray congratulated Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright on his appointment to the top education post in the nation’s third most-populous state. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that he was naming Wright Deputy Secretary for Education, the Empire State’s highest education official.

Jennifer Leonard, Wright’s Chief of Staff, will transition to serving as Interim Deputy Mayor for Education in November, and serve in that capacity through the Fiscal Year 2014 budget season.

“De’Shawn is a brilliant educational innovator and a tireless public servant, and our loss is definitely New York’s gain,” Mayor Gray said. “He has done a spectacular job serving the children, families and educators of the District of Columbia, and we will miss his extraordinary gifts sorely. I congratulate Gov. Cuomo on a wise choice for his state. I’m also thankful that Jennifer has agreed to step-in in the interim and provide a seamless transition as we continue to move forward with ensuring that every child in the District of Columbia has access to a top-quality education.” Read more.

Mayor Gray Announces Largest Playground Renovation Project in DC History; 32 Playgrounds to be Renovated in Fiscal Year 2013

Mayor Gray, DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Director Jesús Aguirre and Department of General Services (DGS) Director Brian Hanlon announced that the District government would be undertaking the largest playground renovation project in its history. The announcement was made at Benning Park Recreation Center, one of the sites scheduled to be renovated under the expanded and accelerated Playground Improvement Project.

“Improving every resident’s quality of life is one of the main goals of my One City Action Plan, and every child in the District should have a safe and inviting place to play,” said Mayor Gray. “Renovating these playgrounds is an investment in the well-being of our children that will pay dividends for years to come.” Read more.

Mayor Gray Unveils Plans for St. Elizabeths East Gateway Pavilion

Mayor Gray announced the design-and-construction team and unveiled plans for the new St. Elizabeths East Gateway Pavilion. KADCON, Davis Brody Bond, and Robert Silman Associates – a collaboration of firms whose individual portfolios include such internationally renowned landmarks as the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, the reconstruction of Eastern Market and the forthcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture – were awarded the contract by the District Department of General Services (DGS) on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

“We now have a seminal opportunity to activate the site for commercial activity prior to the St. Elizabeths East project’s Phase I completion in 2015,” Mayor Gray said. “The design excellence and architectural and construction prowess that the winning firms will bring to the Gateway Pavilion are what the District’s proposal for interim use here demanded, and we look forward to its construction and use by local and regional consumers.” Read more.

Mayor Gray Breaks Ground on Renovation of Engine Company 28 Fire Station

Mayor Gray, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander, Jr., Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS) Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe, and Department of General Services (DGS) Director Brian J. Hanlon officially broke ground on the construction project to renovate Engine Company 28’s fire station.

FEMS is currently implementing a capital modernization program that includes replacing the deteriorated HVAC, structural and electrical components, and architectural features at several fire stations. The $4.7 million renovation of Engine Company 28’s fire station includes widening its doors to provide firefighters/paramedics with safer working conditions while also maintaining the station’s historic features. Read more.

From the Hill Rag – ‘Making Obamacare Happen in DC: Key Steps Ahead’

“Health care reform is not a new thing for the District. For more than a decade, our city has been in the forefront of innovative health care policies. The city provides health insurance to a broad range of families with children, and it created the DC Healthcare Alliance to offer locally funded health care coverage for our low-income neighbors who don’t qualify for programs such as Medicaid.

Now DC officials are using the same proactive approach to tackle national health reform – the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.” Full implementation begins in 2014, but the District is facing a few big decisions this fall that will determine how health reform will play out here.

Compared to many other states, the District starts in a strong place. DC has a low rate of uninsured residents and a high proportion of employers providing health benefits, due to the large presence of the federal and local governments. But these statistics don’t tell how well insurance plans are actually meeting the needs of residents or of small businesses trying to provide benefits for employees. For many, full and affordable access to essential services does not easily happen even if they have health coverage.

The District is weighing three major pieces of federal health reform: the “health insurance exchange, which is the regulated market individuals and small businesses will use to shop for insurance; the package of what will be considered “essential health care benefits,” the minimum floor of services that plans must offer in the market; and the way in which low-income residents can access coverage.” Read more.

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