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Mayor Muriel Bowser’s $392 million revenue snafu brought a rocky start to the 2023 budget season. Now the D.C. Council will pick apart Bower’s proposal before they vote in May. This week marked the first round of D.C. Council budget hearings, and D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson used her time to make some calls to action.
The Office of the D.C. Auditor, which has exposed hidden HVAC issues at a D.C. school and how an MPD officer’s reckless actions led to Deon Kay’s death, expects to bring in a deputy auditor for public safety with eight additional support staffers. The positions were funded in the previous budget, but Patterson is waiting for the Council to pass legislation to authorize them. The role was a major recommendation from the DC Police Reform Commission last April. The deputy auditor would focus on internal police investigations and look into incidents involving officers’ fatal shootings, uses of force, and conduct at protests. A bill introduced in July, if passed, would officially create a deputy auditor for public safety.
Patterson also raised one of her recommendations that’s overdue: a new D.C. jail. ODCA called for the city to build a new facility in 2019 to address yearslong issues with room temperatures, lighting, sanitary conditions, pests, and other facility standards. The funds to build a new jail, which Bowser has presented as a $251 million investment in her fiscal year 2023 budget presentation, aren’t actually included in the upcoming year’s budget, Patterson pointed out. The bulk of the $251 million for construction is planned for fiscal years 2027 and ‘28. Bowser only included $500,000 in 2023.
“Perhaps the Council will take a leadership role in securing a new facility that everyone agrees is needed, and needed today and not another five years from now,” Patterson said.
Patterson also said she wants to scrap outdated audits from her office’s mandate, something Council Chairman Phil Mendelson encouraged during the office’s performance oversight hearing and that would require legislation. One such obsolete audit would be a review of the D.C. police department’s approval of surveillance, which Patterson introduced to the Council back in 2004 and now says is a moot point.
“The point is … to make sure the police department is not unfairly targeting political organizations and not unfairly sending undercover officers to meetings and things like that, but the world has changed since we put that audit requirement into law,” Patterson said at the performance oversight hearing in February. “The police department doesn’t do that type of surveillance. Simply look at social media; I’m not sure the fact of social media is something we need to audit.”
The ensuing workload balance would allow the ODCA to continue conducting “after-action” audits that review outcomes for schools, rec centers, and library renovation projects. ODCA is also working on reports that would examine the District’s first major spending of CARES Act-funded COVID relief, how D.C. nursing homes fared during COVID, police officer termination cases, the District Department of Transportation’s response to Vision Zero resident requests, and whether the D.C. crime lab is meeting the independence requirements in the law, among others.
—Ambar Castillo (tips? email@example.com)
Correction: This article mischaracterized the funding for the deputy auditor for public safety and the status of ODCA’s “after-action” audits. Those details have been corrected.
- To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
- A last-minute tentative deal struck between Howard University administrators and non tenure track faculty members averted a strike set to happen today. [WTOP]
- Yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Clean Water Act, advocates said the Potomac River is safe for swimming … most of the time. They called for the city to end its swimming ban. [WUSA9, DCist]
- Here’s how Arlington residents connect with their Ukrainian sister city, Ivano-Frankivsk, and how DMV locals can help. [DCist]
By Ambar Castillo (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Council Chairman Phil Mendelson was “completely taken off guard” by Mayor Bowser’s appointees to a commission studying D.C.’s tax structure. He wants the group to be more “creative” finding new revenue sources for the city (and he’ll get to appoint members to it as well). [Axios]
- Businessman Graham McLaughlin is entering the at-large Council race as an independent. He’s focused on working with returning citizens alongside his private sector work, but his campaign theme so far seems to be cutting “red tape” for businesses. [Post]
- The People’s Convoy, which is somehow still here, says it wants to perform “citizen’s arrests” of both Mayor Bowser and MPD officers. [Twitter]
By Alex Koma (tips? email@example.com)
- The Silver Lyan will host a cherry blossom pop-up bar with cocktails from two world’s best bartenders. [Washingtonian]
- Tiki on 18th has a new sit-down bar and curacao cocktails. [Eater]
By City Paper staff (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
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- King Tutankhamen, the boy who became pharaoh of Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, is the subject of the National Geographic Museum’s exhibit recognizing the centennial anniversary of his tomb’s discovery. [WTOP]
- As someone who once called it “Silver Springs” (I’m sorry!), here are a few musicians who got the suburb’s name wrong too. [Washingtonian]
- Round House Theatre’s inaugural National Capital New Play Festival starts April 5. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
By Sarah Marloff (tips? email@example.com)
Nationals Manager Dave Martinez Feels Hopeful About the Team’s Rebuild
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- Team 980—the flagship station for the Washington Commanders—and 106.7 The Fan will not broadcast any of the team’s games this upcoming season. Team 980 host Kevin Sheehan made the announcement on his show and the station released a statement stating that the team and station “disagreed on the value of the broadcasts.” [Audacy.com, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
- The Caps lost 5-2 to the St. Louis Blues in their first game since the NHL trade deadline. [Post]
- City Paper reported last week that the Spirit intended to hire former NWSL star Angela Salem as an assistant coach. The team made that move official today. [Twitter]
By Kelyn Soong (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
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