THE NEWS:

The Council has been itching to overhaul the beleaguered department in charge of everything from enforcing D.C. housing code for rentals to licensing business owners. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson would do this by breaking up the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

There’s a hearing today at 11:30 a.m. on Mendelson’s bill, “Department of Buildings Establishment Act of 2019.” The bill would do away with DCRA and establish two new agencies: the Department of Buildings and Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. To put it simply, the former would be responsible for rentals while the latter would be in charge of businesses. 

At least 25 public witnesses are scheduled to testify, along with the DCRA director, Ernest Chrappah. Many have already testified about the troubles with DCRA before—in fact, less than a month ago. Kathey Zeisel, with the Children’s Law Center, told the Council about the tragic consequences of having too few housing inspectors during November’s public hearing on a deadly fire

There was a hearing last year on the chairman’s idea to split up DCRA, after he first introduced the bill with a majority of support from Council. Mendelson’s communications director, Lindsey Walton, says the notable difference now is that “there’s more content to this hearing” than last. She’s referring to a report from the Office of the Inspector General on the bill

A private firm, hired by OIG to conduct the report, says “we could not provide meaningful insight that would inform decision makers on the likelihood [Department of Buildings Establishment Act of 2019] would achieve intended results.” (H/t to Andrew Giambrone for first flagging the report.) 

But the firm also says “to identify the underlying reasons why it is necessary to create the Department of Buildings and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection, the Council should validate the problems noted during public hearings … Validating the problems would ensure the Council has critical information and data to inform their decision about whether to enact [Department of Buildings Establishment Act of 2019].” 

Meaning, today’s public testimonies could give Mendelson the ammunition he needs to break up DCRA .—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

  • Washington Met students and teachers fight to keep the alternative high school open at Monday night’s meeting. Chancellor was almost a no show. [WJLA, Twitter]

    • Here’s what D.C.’s first school closure in 5+ years could mean for kids. [WCP

  • D.C. & NYC street vendors team up to demand better treatment from the police. [DCist]

    • ICYMI: One councilmember has a fix for vendors who get harassed by cops. [WCP

  • Video shows a person committed suicide by jumping infront of a Metro train. (If you or someone else needs help, call 1-855-320-5433.) [Twitter]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals(tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • The ad hoc committee recommending Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ expulsion published its final report. [Ad Hoc Committee]

  • The committee voted unanimously to approve the report. [Twitter]

  • Neither the imminent threat of expulsion, nor a little rain, is going to keep Evans from a ribbon cutting. [Twitter]

  • Funds possibly stolen from a Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s bank account. [WJLA]

  • D.C. is trying out discounted Metro fare for low-income residents. [Post]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Another patron accuses Alero Restaurant of racial profiling, and this time the restaurant called the police. [WCP]

  • Where to dine out on Christmas Day. [Washingtonian]

  • How drinking changed in 2019. [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall(tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • The Sleigher: Bryan Adams “Joe and Mary.” [WCP]

  • The Aeronauts is a weird movie—but at least the hot air balloon action is cool. [WCP]

  • Photographer Steven M. Cummings has powerfully documented black D.C. [DCist]

  • D.C. is all over theWonder Woman 1984 trailer. [Washingtonian]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Remember the controversial 2012 Strasburg Shutdown? Well, it ended up working out. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is returning to the Nats after signing a seven-year, $245 million deal. [ESPN]

  • World Cup champ Kelley O’Hara will be joining November Project DC tomorrow morning at 6:20 for a free workout at the Lincoln Memorial—snow or shine. [WCP]

  • Here’s an in-depth look at Bruce Allen’s awful record as the local NFL team’s president by the Post’sNeil Greenberg. [Post]

  • Two highlights from the Nats’ 2018-19 season are on the Ringer’s 41 favorite sports moments of the year. [Ringer]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here. Send tips, ideas, and comments to newsletters@washingtoncitypaper.com.

More from WCP