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The District is closing the year with a lot to brag about.
We became a winning sports town thanks to the Mystics and Nationals following up on the Capitals’ accomplishment last year, and Congress held its first hearing on D.C. statehood in more than 20 years.
Unfortunately, not every record-breaking highlight gave us something to be proud of. This year’s homicide count passed last’s, hate crimes are on track to do the same, and 12 members of the Council voted to recommend expelling its longest-serving member, Ward 2’s Jack Evans. (To be clear, plenty of residents want Evans off the Council and are pleased lawmakers are taking steps to remove him from office.)
There were also many moments of solidarity, from residents gathering at 14th and U streets NW to celebrate go-go at Moechella to residents uniting online to bash national media for misrepresenting local D.C.
Before we say hello to a new decade, let’s look back at D.C. news in 2019:
Jan. 25: The federal government reopens after a 35-day shutdown, with no new money for Trump’s border wall included in the plan.
Feb. 28: Bryce Harper skips town and agrees to a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
March 13: News breaks that Wards 7 and 8 will finally get a 24/7 urgent care center.
March 15: Hundreds of local students stage a walkout to rally against gun violence. “I am tired of having to see how many kids die from violence every single day in this country,” said 16-year-old Jeniffer Guandique, a junior at Northwood High School in Silver Spring. (Young people also led demonstrations around climate change and immigration this year.)
March 16: Amazon announces it’s coming to Northern Virginia, thanks to a $23 million incentives package from Arlington County.
March 19: A report confirms what residents feel: D.C. is the most gentrified city in the country. According to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, between 2000 and 2013, more than 20,000 African Americans were displaced from their neighborhoods by mostly affluent white people.
April 4: News breaks that the only hospital in Southeast will close its cancer center in 90 days.
April 6: D.C. finally creates a committee to address maternal deaths after the Council confirms committee members. The city has one of the highest maternal mortality rates countrywide: 36.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2018.
April 19: Passionate bike advocate Dave Salovesh is killed by a motorist running a red light. In July, the driver pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
May 7: Moechella shows how far Washingtonians will go to defend their music, culture, and legacy. The musical rally, held at the corner of 14th and U streets NW, coincided with the #DontMuteDC movement, which began to push back against the erasure of go-go music after neighbors asked Shaw’s Metro PCS store to turn down the sound.
May 25: Dan Snyder marks the 20th anniversary of his ownership of the local NFL team. Fans are not cheering.
May 28: Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, is named as the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He is the first African American person to hold the position in the Smithsonian’s 173-year history.
June 21: Federal agents raid Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ Georgetown home.
July 1: Restaurants and other eateries begin to enforce plastic straw bans in July, and the minimum wage increases from $13.25 to $14.00 per hour, as new laws kick in.
July 9: The D.C. Council awards Intralot a $215 million, no-bid contract to operate its lottery and establish its sports betting program after months of contentious debate and questions about Evans’ potential conflicts of interest with Intralot’s lobbyist.
July 18: Eleven-year-old Karon Brown is fatally shot—making him one of the youngest homicide victims in 2019.
July 23: A new citywide tenant union launches. “More and more minorities are being pushed away,” said Ronnie Jackson, Waterside Towers Resident Association president. “We need to be unionized because chunk by chunk, place by place, ward by ward, gentrification is taking over.”
Aug. 8: The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability hits Evans with a $20,000 fine for using Council resources to send business pitches seeking outside employment. Evans, according to the settlement, admits no wrongdoing.
Aug. 13: D.C. gets mopeds on top of everything else. And in 2020, D.C. is more than doubling the number of scooters on the street.
Aug. 21: Seth Hurwitz, co-owner of 9:30 Club and The Anthem, is arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution. (He later pleaded guilty to sexual solicitation and gets three years’ probation.)
Aug. 30: Mayor Muriel Bowser attempts to seize control of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ art collection. AG Karl Racine later says she can’t do that.
Sept. 1: Selected pharmacies finally start dispensing life-saving overdose-reversing drug Naloxone.
Sept. 9: The Metropolitan Police Department finally releases detailed stop-and-frisk data, three years after the D.C. Council required it with the passage of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act. The data provided were only for one month, but show great racial disparity—70 percent of people stopped between July and August were black.
Sept. 12: Express, the free newspaper for commuters published weekdays by the Post, shuts down after a 16-year run. We lost a number of media companies based in D.C. this year, leaving many workers without jobs and security.
Sept. 19: The House of Representatives holds the first hearing on D.C. statehood since 1993. And Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was more concerned about his staff’s parking than enfranchising hundreds of thousands of residents.
Sept. 25: St. Elizabeths Hospital goes without running water due to evidence of dangerous bacteria in its water supply. The outage lasted for a month and we still don’t know why the water tested positive for bacteria.
Oct. 2: The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability neglected a whistleblower’s complaint for more than a year, a D.C. Auditor report reveals. To make matters worse, At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds outed the whistleblower during a public hearing.
Oct. 8: Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduces the Healthy Beverage Choices Act of 2019 with the support of the majority of her fellow councilmembers. It repeals the existing sales tax on sugary drinks and replaces it with an excise tax.
Oct. 10: The Washington Mystics win their first WNBA title with a victory over the Connecticut Sun at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Ward 8.
Oct. 12: For the first time in the District, Columbus Day is, instead, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Oct. 16: Nearly two decades after snipers terrorized the D.C. region, killing 10 people and injuring three others, the Supreme Court considers whether Lee Malvo, who was a teenager at the time of the attacks, can challenge his prison sentences. He was initially sentenced to life without parole.
Oct. 22: The District breaks last year’s suspected hate crimes record of 204 total reports, reaching a new high.
Oct. 17: The Council holds an unprecedented hearing about decriminalizing sex work. It lasts 14 hours.
Oct. 30: The underdog Nationals, who had a .01 percent chance to win the World Series in May, defeat the Houston Astros in seven games to become World Series champs.
Nov. 4: The law firm hired by the Council to investigate Evans’ potential ethics violations related to his outside employment releases a 100-page report laying out more than 11 violations and failures to disclose personal financial interests.
Nov. 12: Federal prosecutors finally release a verdict in the Bijan Ghaisar case. The Justice Department says the U.S. Park Police officers that shot (nine times) and killed the unarmed driver after a minor fender bender will not be charged. “I’m trying to learn how to live with the grief, the permanent hole in my heart,” said Bijan’s father, James Ghaisar. “It is a nightmare every day.”
Nov. 12: Bye Bye, Bei Bei. The National Zoo’s beloved panda leaves for China.
Nov. 13: A slumlord finally pays up. In a settlement reached with the Office of the Attorney General, Bethesda-based landlord Sanford Capital agrees to return more than $1 million in rent to tenants.
Nov. 15: Bowser and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities come to an understanding about who has access to the city’s art collection—bringing an end, for now, to the tussle between the mayor and the commission.
Dec. 3: 12 D.C. councilmembers vote to recommend expelling Evans from the Council. The final vote is expected in January; if all goes according to plan, it will be the first time a sitting councilmember is expelled from the legislative body.
Dec. 12: The year ends without a final agreement for a new hospital expected to replace United Medical Center in Southeast. Negotiations have been going on since 2018, but the Bowser administration promises the Council will be able to review a proposal in “early 2020.”