Author Archive for Jason Cherkis

Was Marshall Brown Right About White Residents?

Late today, At-Large D.C. Councilmember Sekou Biddle fired Marshall Brown from his campaign staff, a day after Brown made comments about white residents in a Washington Post article on the city's changing demographics. Here's what the long-time politico—and father of Kwame Brown—said:
The longtime white population, the people who got involved in statehood, civil rights and environmental [...]

Jack Evans Takes On FEMS

Leave it to the D.C. Council to face down the tough issues of the day.
Councilmember Jack Evans announced today that he would be taking on a cause dear to, apparently, every D.C. fire fighter. No, this doesn't have anything to do with the hydrant issues or suspect arson investigations. This has to do with the [...]

Gray’s Budget Targets Mental-Health Services

A quick scan of Mayor Vincent Gray's proposed budget shows that a majority of cuts going to social services. Sixty percent of the cuts target health and human services.  While the mayor proposes those cuts, he has sought an increase of $16.7 million to pay for kids to be shipped out of the city to [...]

Emails Show D.C. Struggling With Homeless Shelter Capacity

It may be easy to paint D.C. as being a pretty harsh place for homeless families. After all, there is D.C. General—its controversial and problematic emergency shelter. And there is the on-going capacity problem. The city just doesn't have enough space for every homeless family. Placing families at the Comfort Inn on New York Avenue [...]

DYRS On Track To Overspend On Outsourcing Kids

WaPo's Mike DeBonis reports today that Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi notified Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council members this morning that several city agencies are projected to go over budget this year by tens of millions of dollars.
One of the biggest costs putting the city in the red: the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services' continued [...]

Child Welfare Hearing Shows City Agency Still Struggling

At Thursday's oversight hearing before Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham's Committee on Human Services, a mother recounted what life has been like for her 13-year-old daughter since she was taken into D.C.'s child-welfare agency's custody. It has been a horror show.
Since coming into the system six months ago,  the daughter has been raped twice.
The city [...]

Kid Brings Cocaine Into Thomson Elementary, Shares His Stash

Today, a kid briefly turned his elementary school into Studio 54, bringing in a little cocaine. At least enough to share with four other students. DCPS has the details:
"Today, a student Thomson Elementary School brought an undetermined amount of cocaine to school and shared it with others in his class. Four of the students who [...]

City Officials Find Solution To Homeless Crisis: The Comfort Inn

Updated at 5:25 p.m.
Throughout this hypothermia season, the District has managed to keep D.C. General's emergency family shelter from becoming overcrowded. The good news is there aren't families sleeping in hallways next to trash cans or enduring sleepless nights in the cafeteria (see here, here, and here). D.C. General has been held at a capacity [...]

Defending Pershing Park Cost D.C. Millions

On Sept. 27, 2002, the Metropolitan Police Department rounded up hundreds of citizens inside Pershing Park. They then arrested them and detained them. For those hours and hours in police custody, these citzens were hogtied. And as soon as the last person was released—the city dropped all charges against everyone in this case—everyone knew that [...]

Should Child Welfare Hearings Be Public?

On Feb. 3, Judith Sandalow, the executive director of the Children's Law Center, testified before the D.C. Council on the state of city's child-welfare agency. Her verdict [PDF] was brutal:
"The District's child abuse and neglect system requires dramatic reform at all stages. On the front end, the government does not adequately prevent abuse and neglect. [...]

CFSA Tries to Explain Role in Attempting to Force Homeless Family Out of Town

Last week, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless reported that a D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) social worker had attempted to force a homeless mother to make a brutal choice: Either get on a bus out of town or risk having your three children put in fostercare. City Desk followed up on [...]

Gray Transition Team Notes CFSA’s ‘Weak Management’

In its report on health and human services, Mayor Vince Gray's transition team outline key areas that need improvement with various District agencies. The report [PDF], submitted by Maria Gomez and Peter Edelman, suggests the District's Child and Family Services Agency needs a lot of work.
Among the five issues highlighted, the team noted the agency [...]

D.C. Social Worker Offers Brutal Choice To Homeless Mother

The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless posted this item on its blog a few days ago, but I thought it was worth a write up. The D.C. Council's recent passage of a strict residency requirement for the homeless entering shelters had faced serious opposition from just about every local nonprofit. They—and the New York [...]

‘He Then Squeezed His Arms To Force The Blood Out’

Reading University Legal Services' latest report on conditions at St. Elizabeths, one story popped out as particularly horrifying. It's worth repeating here. The story involves a man the lawyers refer to as Mr. Jones (his name has not been made public due to confidentiality requirements).
Mr. Jones had been hospitalized multiple times over the years after [...]

Wal-Mart Opposition Needs Stronger Talking Points

From today's McCartney column in WaPo, two anti-Wal-Mart residents made this argument against the chain:
"'There'll probably be a lot of shoplifting going on. They'll need a lot of security,' Terriea Sutton, 35, said.
Brenda Speaks, a Ward 4 ANC commissioner, actually urged blocking construction of the planned store in her ward at Georgia and Missouri [...]