D.C. Mayor's Office Live: Vincent C. Gray on jobs, safety and more

Jun 06, 2011

District Mayor Vincent C. Gray will set up the summer with a live Q&A focusing on teen jobs, safety and more.

The Mayor will be joined by these officials today:
- Paul Quander, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice
- BB Otero, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services
- Cathy Lanier, Chief of Police
- Lisa Mallory, Director of the Department of Employment Services

Good afternoon and welcome to "D.C. Mayor's Office Live!"


There is a lot going on in the city and we are here to answer any questions you may have.


Joining me today to answer your questions about what your D.C. Government is doing to ensure a safe and fun summer are:


BB Otero, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services


Alfred Durham, Assistant Chief of Police, Metropolitan Police Department


Lisa Mallory, Director of the Department of Employment Services


Jesus Aguirre, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation


Thank you for joining us today. 



Mayor Vincent C. Gray

Why have you not given a statement totally and completely denouncing Lorraine Green, her communication with Judy Banks,  and Howard Brooks's refusal to testify before the body that you used to chair?Many residents feel that your lack of a denouncement of these people and their actions are akin to supporting their actions and behaviors that have hurt many residents and your base of support.

Mayor Gray:

I have responded to these and like issues on many occasions. As the first person to call for the investigation, I will respect the process and let it run its lawful course. It would be most inappropriate for me to speak about this issue at this time.

Mr. Mayor, has the city ever thought about how it can make the summer jobs program more effective? There needs to be more structure put in place such that the kids and the companies actually get something out of it. Please consider turning summer jobs into summer internships, where the companies pay part or all of the salaries. The internships would be based on career interest/discipline and the kids have to get stuff done. This would be in all areas, from professional interests like law to trades like welding or auto mechanics. Then you can get bang for the buck.

Mayor Gray and Lisa Mallory:

We've substantially revamped the program this year with a  more extensive orientation program that better prepares the youth for the work experience. We also have added the ability for each youth to select five career areas of interest to allow for a better match based on the youths' interests and abilities. In addition, this year, the employers had the opportunity to interview all of the applicants to discuss preliminary expectations.


An enormous amount of effort has been put into ensuring that every youth has a real job with real expectations and real outcomes.


We are adding a community service component that allows participating youth to also fulfill community service obligations as required for graduation from high school.

How many summer youth jobs are you going to create and what will be the date of hire for these youths?

Lisa Mallory:

There are 12,000 youth who will be employed this summer and the program begins on June 27, 2011. Registration for the Summer Youth Employment Program began in February 2011. The program runs for six weeks ending August 5, 2011.

Jesus Aguirre:

The Department of Parks and Recreation still has openings for lifeguards. Please visit http://www.dpr.dc.gov

Mayor Gray, Phelps High School with its modernized trade labs/shops is charged with providing students with entry-level skills in the building trades and other technical fields. Yet three of the five slots that DCPS officials allowed Phelps to excise were CTE (career-tech) positions. For the past two years, trade instructors have not received the materials they need to provide students with the hands-on practice they need. Can you see that these positions are restored and that they have the shop materials they need? 

Mayor Gray:

$70 million was invested in the modernization of Phelps and we are committed to operating the school in the manner intended.


Hello, Mayor Gray. Thank you for taking my question. Will the city require Walmart, a new employer in the District, to pay its taxes to the District to keep that money inside our borders to help residents here? Also, is the issue of a commuter tax completely dead?

Mayor Gray:

Walmart will be expected to function in the same manner as any other corporate citizen. That includes paying appropriate taxes.


Unfortunately the District does not have the authority to impose a commuter tax. We are continuing to work towards increased autonomy for the 600,000 residents of our city.

With Washington, DC maintaining a high HIV infection rate and a need for continuing education with the city's youth on this issue, would you speak about your budget plans and how programs that effect sexual education will be affected?

Mayor Gray:

HIV / AIDS and STDs in general are a high priority for this administration. Even in difficult budget times we have not reduced the budget in these areas. We have also  appointed a new HIV / AIDS Commission and have established a treatment on demand program for those who are HIV positive or who have full blown AIDS. We are one of very few cities in the nation offering such a program.

Will the growth in popularity of our elementary schools translate into increased enrollment in our middle schools? Are middle schools a bottleneck - with great elementary schools and great high schools on either end?

Mayor Gray:

We are the only city in America to offer universal Pre-K.  That has resulted in enrollment increases in the very early grades. It is our hope to use that as a catalyst to improve all grades so that we may retain young children and young families through their elementary and secondary education. We are seeing a trend of young families returning to the city.

I would like to know why D.C. does not make the summer job program a priority. There are a lot of children who depend on the summer job program because it keeps a lot of children out of the street. Second, there are juveniles who are committing a lot of crimes, and if a juvenile can go out into the street and get a gun at 15, he or she should do the time. It is a revolving door at the court system for not only juveiles but adults as well. There should be stiifer penalties in place for these people.

Assistant Chief Durham, Lisa Mallory, and Jesus Aguirre:


In addition to the Summer Youth Employment Program, the District of Columbia Government, as a whole through its many agencies and grantees, is taking a comprehensive and proactive approach to providing youth with positive activities for the summer months.


For example...

  • We will be sending youth to Camp Brown
  • Partnering with the Summer Youth Employment Program by identifying youth for the Junior Police Academy and the Students Taking Another Route to Success (STARS) Program
  • Making summer school available to students who need to complete academic credit towards high school graduation


For more information on summer activities, please visit, http://onecitysummer.dc.gov beginning June 8, 2011.


Dear Mayor Gray:

D.C. needs to do more to advocate for statehood & voting rights by raising the issue beyond the borders of D.C. The recent arrests of D.C. officials accomplished nothing (other than to glamorize lawlessness in a city already overrun by out-of-control crime). Renaming streets and stalking Speaker Boehner's home are also ridiculous ideas. As the nation's capital, it seems like Washington would have plenty of opportunities to increase the profile of D.C. statehood, but little is done or planned.  What is being done now to use this event in order to promote statehood?

- B. Beu (writer, DC State Song)

Mayor Gray:

I recently appeared before a House of Representatives Oversight Sub-Committee regarding the District of Columbia. Much of the discussion focused on increasing the District's budget autonomy, which we know is an important component of achieving statehood. We are continuing to work on ideas that will increase our authority to make decisions on how we spend our own money. 

For a person with teenagers, where does one go to find out what programs there are, where they are, and is it too late to register? How does one register and are these still spaces left in most of these programs?

Mayor Gray:

The District of Columbia Government, through its agencies and community grantees, is providing numerous activities for all ages during the summer months.

Please visit http://onecitysummer.dc.gov on June 8, 2011 to learn more about these activities.

I have a 19-year-old who attends UDC and he appliedfor a summer job. How long does it take to get his job assignment?

Lisa Mallory:

Youth who have successfully enrolled in the Summer Youth Employment Program will be notified of their job assignments by June 17, 2011. Jobs begin on June 27, 2011.

Hi Mayor Gray,

Would you commit to convening your four top deputies on a regular basis, in a public setting, to discuss and coordinate policy around youth issues in the District? We here at the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates feel this would be a good start at a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to youth policy in the District, and would welcome the opportunity to participate in such a discussion with the leaders of your adminsitration on a regular basis.

- Ram Uppuluri, Executive Director, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

Mayor Gray:

We recently held a Youth Town Hall Meeting on the budget on May 21, 2011. I was quite impressed with the level of youth involvement at this hearing and I am looking forward to hosting monthly Youth Town Hall Meetings in each ward to continue the dialogue. The next Youth Town Hall Meeting will be held in July 2011.

My plan is to use the Youth Town Hall Meetings as a venue for ongoing conversation with youth and the leadership of my administration. 

DC spends more per capita than any surrrounding jurisdiction - even when you account for the state's portion of spending in the local cities. All of those areas are cutting expenses but DC keeps spending more. How can you justify these unprecedented levels of spending? If there had been a real recession in DC we would be in huge trouble, because there is no fiscal control on DC and it has been living in a federally simulated bull economy.

Mayor Gray:

We just faced a $322 million deficit for FY 2012. Closing the gap included $187 million in budget cuts.

As far as fiscal control is concerned, this is the first in a number of years that we will have a structurally balanced budget which means that the city will not spend more than the revenue that comes in during the fiscal year.

Thank you, again, for taking time out of your busy day to  discuss critical issues facing the District of Columbia.


I look forward to continuing these chats with you on a monthly basis.


Have a great week.




Mayor Vincent C. Gray

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Mayor Vincent C. Gray
Vincent C. Gray was elected the sixth mayor of Washington, D.C., in November 2010. A District native, Gray served as city councilman from Ward 7 starting in 2004, and was elected city council chairman in 2006.
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