Saturday, June 27, 2020


Well, the House of Representatives did it!  They voted yesterday to create the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, leaving a smaller federal district containing the core of downtown federal buildings.  This is a hugely historic event, marking a level of acceptance even by the national Democratic party that we’ve never seen before. (The only Democrat who opposed was Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota - - whose biography doesn’t explain why he opposes democracy.)

Okay, we all know that in spite of all the arguments about our paying more taxes per capita than any state, having a larger population than two states, etc., etc., the current Senate will never take up this bill.  (We'll see about the future Senate!)  Nevertheless – nevertheless – THIS IS HUGE! 

I do not always agree with our mayor, but I have to say her statement yesterday, in today's Post (, is one I think we all can share: “ ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. And statehood is our demand,’ the fifth-generation Washingtonian said in a statement, referencing a famous quote from abolitionist and onetime D.C. resident Frederick Douglass. She added: “I was born without representation, but I swear — I will not die without representation. Together, we will achieve DC statehood, and when we do, we will look back on this day and remember all who stood with us on the right side of history.’ “


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

And Now - So Much to Say!


The trouble with having written infrequently in recent weeks is that now, I suddenly can’t write fast enough.  This blog post is about a number of upcoming events and important issues – I know I won’t think of everything but feel free to add something in the Comment box below if you like.  Here goes:

-          TOMORROW! June 18 – will be our second quarterly DD Council meeting.  Last time we had a number of technical difficulties, but hopefully there will be fewer this time around.  On this page you’ll find the “Click Link to Join” button. 

-          On June 23, 3-5 p.m., Quality Trust will host another session in its Family Town Hall series, this one on hospital visitation in the era of covid-19.  Key information on registering is here and you can contact Rhonda White at for further information.

-          June 23 is also the deadline for testimony to be sent to the DC council’s education committee on the DC public library (DCPL) budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021.  The very bad news for our community is that there will likely be reduced library hours and even closures of a number of branches.  Write to and let the committee know we can’t let this happen!

-          I wrote in my last blog post ( about the issuance of regulations for the proposed Individual and Family Services waiver and for amendments to the existing IDD waiver.  Here is updated information on those, as promised:

o   New IFS waiver:  Note that there will be a public forum on June 24 and that comments are due by July 13.

o   Waiver amendments:  Note that there will be a public forum on June 25 and that comments are due by July 13.

-          If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I care about DC statehood.  One positive outcome of the president’s disgraceful photo op and military show of force on June 1 was to attract more attention to D.C.’s second-class status and lack of representation.  Now the House of Representatives has, at last, scheduled a vote on H.R. 51 – it’s scheduled for June 26!  Read more:

o   Here:

o   Here:

o   And here:

Keep reading, keep the comments coming, and again:  Stay safe, stay determined.


I’m gearing back up and hope to be writing more often.  This blog post will quickly be followed by one on several upcoming events and issues, so read both of them.  I had planned to get that one out first, but I now realize I need to get an important issue before you today, because it’s evolving very quickly indeed.

As you know, the District is in Stage One (or Phase One, the terminology seems to keep changing), which has allowed things to open up somewhat for most of us.  How soon we get to Stage Two is still unclear.  But this issue has to do with whether people getting supports under the DDA waiver are able to enjoy the same rights as the rest of DC’s residents as we move through the different stages.  I know this is a complex issue with many different facets, but we need to make sure we don’t throw out years of civil rights efforts in our zeal to keep people “safe.”  I put quotes around the word “safe” because there are indeed mental-health aspects of continuing to be isolated which, as we all know firsthand, are unsafe in and of themselves.

As a parent of someone receiving supported-living services in DC, I’ve been grappling with this issue myself over the past week to ten days, instinctively feeling that Stage One should apply to my son but observing that this was not quite the message he was receiving in his ISP meeting, nor apparently in his day-to-day life.  I sympathize with provider agencies who are trying to navigate this without clear guidance.  Last Friday on the DDS call, one provider did ask this question, specifically with respect to people going out with family (we all know, or should, that visits BY family to people’s homes is still prohibited).  I was very happy to hear Andy give the sort of answer I had hoped for:  namely, people DDS supports have the same rights as any other resident of the District – to go out for any allowed activity and to any place that is open under Stage One, as long as they are respecting necessary public-health guidelines.

That is what Andy said, and I know his heart was in the right place.  However, a verbal response during a Q and A is not definitive, and I’ve heard through the grapevine that some other issues are now coming into play – guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that may or may not apply, other local guidance, as well as pending guidance from DDS itself.  I know that all of this is a lot to absorb and analyze, but I hope DDS was already doing so, at least from the moment that Stage One came into effect on May 29.  Folks cannot be flying blind at such a critical moment.

And it should go without saying that I hope whatever guidance DDS issues will tip clearly in favor of the rights of people with disabilities – they should be able to go out and do the same things the rest of us can, with the appropriate support and ensuring that necessary CDC and local health guidelines are being followed.  We can’t let Covid erase the hard-fought gains of recent decades for people with disabilities – rights are rights.  And I say this even as a frightened mother.

Let DDS know where you stand –  And I hope you stand with me.

Friday, June 5, 2020

So Much to Take In

So much has happened since I last blogged on May 17.  The mayor’s phase 1 reopening on May 29 coincided with the national tsunami of reaction to the George Floyd murder, and now the country’s president is riding roughshod over lawful protesters and the District of Columbia.  It’s a time for coming together to combat racial injustice, and coming together as a D.C. community to demand our rights as American citizens.  All while we try to keep safe as covid continues to move among us.

It’s a lot.  And in the midst of it, I’d like us to remind ourselves (many will not need the reminder) that there are many people served by the Department on Disability Services and the Department of Behavioral Health who are people of color, and who therefore have dual risks in their dealings with law enforcement.  In recent days our local spotlight has been more on the misbehavior of federal authorities and not so much on the MPD, but this may be a timely moment for us to regroup as a community around the issue of police interactions at the local level.  The DD council, with Project ACTION!, is planning to facilitate a conversation among self-advocates along these lines as a starting point.

I really don’t know what else I want to say.  Like many of you, I’m a little in shock, a lot worried, and trying to think which way to turn. 

But since our world does continue to turn, and there is work to be done, I’d like to call attention to some upcoming deadlines that deserve your attention:

-          DCPS is soliciting feedback from families with school-age children about how to reopen schools in the fall, at this link, until 10 p.m. on June 8.

-          SchoolTalk and the DC Youth Leadership Network are currently recruiting DC youth with IEPs (ages 14-21) to apply for PAID Summer 2020 Virtual Work-Based Learning Experiences, with a deadline for applications of June 12.  Here is the application:

-          Comments can be submitted on DDS’ proposed new Individual and Family Services waiver until June 24, and on proposed amendments to the existing IDD waiver until June 25.  So far I only have these links: and, but maybe one of my DDS readers can provide the link with fuller details.

Stay safe, stay determined.