City Council


Councilmember Michael A. Brown to Give Away 600 Backpacks in Southeast, Tonight

Courtesy of Office of Councilmember Michael A. Brown

D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown will give away 600 backpacks filled with school supplies tonight, between 6-8 p.m. while supplies last. School starts Monday.

The backpacks are strictly for District residents and will be distributed during the “Back to School Community Cookout.” The event, at 2845 Alabama Ave SE, will also feature food and entertainment.

Councilmember Brown is quoted in a press release as saying, “I look forward to meeting with students and parents as we prepare for the upcoming school year and am grateful I can assist in a small way with needed supplies. More importantly, I hope to encourage our youth to understand that anything is possible with a strong education.”

Unwrapping the Controversy at Chipotle

Courtesy of

The protest at Chipotle was preceded by a march through Columbia Heights.

Thirty-five people marched last week from a local church to the Columbia Heights Chipotle to protest how the restaurant chain fired 40 employees for allegedly lacking forms that prove they’re allowed to legally work in the U.S.

According to the workers, when they returned from a 30-minute break, they found their replacements were already behind the counter. The workers allege that they were not offered any proper notice before or due compensation after the mass termination and “could not even have a lawyer, organizer, or any other person present in order to discuss their demands,” wrote Aaron Morrissey, at DCist.

Courtesy of

Fired Chipotle employee Miguel Bravo, demonstrating on 14th Street.

“We are here to protest the bad treatment of workers. We were fired in a very unjust manner and we feel that’s another form of discrimination against the Latino workers of this place. After they fired us unjustly, they told us they were going to give us a severance payment of $2,000 and now they have refused to follow through with that promise and we are here to demand that they pay us,” Miguel Bravo, one of the workers said at the rally last week with the help of a translator.

Chris Arnold, communications director of Chipotle, denied workers’ allegations that they were treated unfairly. He said the company is responsible for ensuring it is hiring employees without breaking the law.

“The circumstances here relate to a group of about 40 employees, all of whom provided new documents to verify their work authorization status over the span of just a few days. All of those documents proved to be fraudulent. Under the law, we cannot employ any individual who is not legally authorized to work in this country. When we communicated this to the employees, most of them simply walked off the job, others were let go. But there was no mass firing during a break,” Arnold said.
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Fired Workers March on Columbia Heights Chipotle

Flickr: Mr. T in DC

Heading to Columbia Heights to see the the latest protest against the firing of Chipotle workers.

A coalition of leaders, activists, religious organizations and community groups in the Washington D.C. area will soon descend on Chipotle’s doorstep…They intend to gather at 5 pm at The Sacred Heart Church in Columbia Heights, at which point those in attendance will march to the store in a powerful expression of protest against the disgraceful actions of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

According to the article “On May 5th, (Cinco de Mayo, no less) fired workers will team up with everyday citizens to restore the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals in our communities”. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

This will be the second protest for the workers at the Columbia Heights Chipotle who were allegedly fired over documentation issues.

According to, the workers said the firings occurred during a 30-minute break and when they came back from the meeting their replacements were already wrapping burritos. New allegations by the former employees say Chipotle hasn’t compensated them for back wages and won’t meet with City Council Members Jim Graham and Michael A. Brown, who marched for the workers in the first protest.

Check back tomorrow for an update.

Kwame Brown’s Luxurious Black Lincoln

Flickr: Chad Horwedel

A spiffy Lincoln Navigator. Not Brown's.

Budget shortfall. Procuring a luxury SUV. Should a city suffering from the former do the latter? Too late– we already did. Twice. As mentioned in our morning roundup a few weeks ago, our Council Chair Kwame Brown– or someone acting on his behalf– required a top-of-the-line Lincoln SUV, complete with 600-watt sound system and DVD-entertainment, and it had to be here before the beginning of the year.

In the Sunday Post, Mike DeBonis outlines exactly how a city with budget woes purchased one luxurious Lincoln for Brown, only to have it rejected for the trifling flaw of having a gray interior vs. the requested black one. A dealer from Coldwater, Michigan drove a second, more suitable SUV to D.C. to deliver it in time for Brown’s inauguration. Did I mention that the city isn’t exactly flush with cash right now?

…when he was asked on television why taxpayers should foot the $1,900-a-month lease payments, Brown (D) said he had merely requested a black sport-utility vehicle and was driving the vehicle that the District had procured for him.

E-mails written by members of his staff and city officials – and obtained by The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act – tell a different story, beginning with a Department of Public Works solicitation in November for a 2011 Lincoln Navigator L series, an extended-wheelbase version of the Navigator. The e-mail specified “Fully Loaded Required” and indicated that the vehicle was being sought at Brown’s request…

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Bryan Weaver Decides to Run

Twitter is chock full o’ nuts and news that a candidate who is popular among D.C. bloggers has decided– along with a few others– to run for the City Council’s at-large seat. WAMU’s Patrick Madden has more:

The race for a D.C. council at-large seat is getting crowded. Wednesday, two more candidates threw their hats in the ring.

One is Republican School Board Member Patrick Mara, who announced via YouTube that he’ll seek the at-large seat. The other is Bryan Weaver, a Democrat who lives in Ward 1. Both have unsuccessfully run for council seats in the past…

The biggest challenge at this point for any of the candidates is getting on the ballot. Candidates have less than one month to pick up 3,000 signatures.

I have a feeling Weaver will be able to get those signatures, especially if he asks everyone who tweets about him to help out. And speaking of YouTube, like the City Paper, when I think of Bryan Weaver, I think of his excellent use of the video site. See one of his campaign ads, after the jump– it’s so nice, Wonkette blogged about it:

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No Social Security Number? No problem!

Flickr: mar is sea Y

Phil Mendelson

Do you live in D.C.? Do you wish that you could drive, but lack a license because you refuse to get a social security number? You’re in luck! Via the Washington Examiner:

At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson is introducing a bill Tuesday that will allow D.C. residents to get a drivers license without a Social Security number.

Mendelson said he decided to introduce the bill after hearing from residents who are “philosophically opposed” to having Social Security numbers, but are legal U.S. citizens.

“There’s no rational reason for saying in order to drive a car, you have to have a Social Security number,” Mendelson said. “I’m much more interested in whether you’re texting while driving, paying attention and know how to drive.”

Tax Yoga, Help the Poor?


Double-taxes for this well-groomed, flexible Frenchie!

No one enjoys higher or additional taxes, but judging from some of the pleas for support I’ve received from various groups that are worried about how budget cuts will affect the poorest, youngest, most vulnerable residents of our city, I wonder if taxing yoga and sweet-smelling dogs is preferable (or more ethical). Via the City Paper:

Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry wants to extend D.C.’s sales tax to include: pet grooming, health clubs, armored car services, private investigations and admission to live performances.

You’ll recall that similar measures were considered last budget go round, but the all-powerful Yoga lobby put a squash to them.

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Ganging up on Food Trucks


Fojol Bros, a popular D.C. Food Truck.

This is disappointing, short-sighted and a few other words I’m not allowed to type; Councilmember Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) is thinking about emergency legislation to prohibit new food trucks while taxing the existing mobile nom-purveyors who got in while the getting was good. But, wait! There’s more (via WCP)!

Indeed, D.C. Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Janene Jackson confirms that she’s teamed up with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the Apartment and Office Building Association to ask for the cap, as well as a 10 percent sales tax, since proposed regulations that would govern food trucks are unsatisfactory.

“It’s not that we don’t want mobile food vendors,” Jackson said. “We’re in a deficit, and if bricks and mortars have to pay up, then we all have to pay up.”

My colleague Alan Suderman is also hearing that the issue could come up as soon as tomorrow’s Council legislative meeting, where members will be voting on a plan to close the budget shortfall.

I’m reminded of Love Bites, the truck I profiled here which is run by a local, African-American, mother-daughter team, who are using family recipes to create something delightful. It’s unfortunate that the City Council would bow to pressure from the Chamber of Commerce and the Restaurant Association to bully entrepreneurs. Yes, we need to address the budget– but if that’s all this were about, then they’d be talking about just taxes (which is understandable), not taxes AND a moratorium (which is not).

On Limiting Welfare in D.C.


What am I reading? “Social supports, not time limits, will reduce poverty“, by Linda Laughlin, a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. It was posted at Greater Greater Washington:

Instead of placing limits on welfare, the DC council should support the TANF Opportunities and Accountability Act of 2010 sponsored by Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and Michael Brown (at-large). The bill would invest in job training and educational programs as well as develop a better system to track welfare recipients in order to better understand when and why families enter and exit social programs.

The welfare system is far from perfect, but as the District faces continued economic turmoil brought on by the recession, this is not the time to limit access to important social safety nets. District food banks, shelters, and other social services are already strained and woefully unprepared to face coming economic hardships as the economy tries to build itself back up. Families that have not been able to leave welfare are some of the most disadvantaged families without any means of support other than social programs.

Down-Ward Spiral



I never noticed it until BeyondDC posted about it, but the Wards are numbered in a clockwise-pattern:

I use the trick in the image at right to keep track of wards. It’s simple: Starting with Ward One in the center of the city, drawing a clockwise spiral results in a line that goes through the wards in ascending order.

If you can remember the spiral, you can remember which ward is which.

I ended up surfing over to Wikipedia to see another map and I read that there are 127 neighborhoods in D.C.:

The District of Columbia is divided into eight wards and 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) within these wards. The total number of named neighborhoods is 127.

I’m filing that away for trivia night.