DC disability advocates have been disappointed by the lack of representation on the mayor’s ReOpenDC advisory group (https://coronavirus.dc.gov/reopendc), which was to submit its report to her this week. Based on information from DDS director Andy Reese during a focus group call last Saturday May 9, there were no clear plans to extend the advisory group beyond that time, and perhaps it’s just as well. There wasn’t even representation by people with disabilities on the “Equity and Vulnerable Populations” committee, much less the other ReOpen committees addressing education, transportation and many other issues clearly affecting DC’s disabled residents. In his regular community briefing today, however, Andy announced intentions to form a task force addressing concerns among the disability community about how to go about “reopening.” This will be welcome, although it remains clear the mayor herself does not place a high priority on the concerns of our community. We will need to use our time wisely to make our views heard clearly both now and when restrictions begin to be lifted on June 8 (https://coronavirus.dc.gov/release/mayor-bowser-extends-stay-home-order-and-public-health-emergency-through-june-8).
Budgets speak louder than words, in any case, and we will know on Monday how Mayor Bowser foresees dividing a pie that will be hundreds of thousands less than originally projected for fiscal year 2021. It will be a busy week after that:
- Tuesday, May 19, DC council hearings on the mayor’s budget, starting at 10:00 a.m.
- Wednesday, May 20 at 2:00, a virtual briefing on the DDS budget (contact Charlisa Payne, Charlisa.Payne2@dc.gov)
- Friday, May 22, 9:00-3:00, community testimony on the DDS budget before the council’s human services committee (along with testimony on other departments the committee oversees)
- Tuesday, May 26, 9:00, government testimony on the DDS budget (and other human services)
See the council calendar of hearings here: https://dccouncil.us/events/. To testify orally on May 22 (only the first 90 people to sign up will be accepted), contact the committee immediately (no later than Monday) at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will let you know if you have a speaking slot or whether you will have to submit written testimony, which also will be part of the record. Let the committee know that we won’t let our needs continue to be overlooked.