Andy's Plan for DC

We must make DC an affordable city that works for all, not just a few; a city that rewards effort but shows compassion for those most vulnerable – our children, our seniors, our working poor; a city that welcomes newcomers but also values the families, communities and neighborhood businesses that give DC its resilient soul.

Hardship is not a statistic but an everyday reality for too many Washingtonians.

By some economic measures, the city is booming. But if you look beyond the headlines and the sound bites, you will see too many people falling further behind, dispirited and losing faith that elected leaders even care anymore.

We need fresh leadership. We need a mayor with a fundamentally different vision and the unquestioned integrity to lead DC toward shared prosperity and equal opportunities in all parts of the city.

Andy will:

* Make affordable housing truly affordable for all income levels
* Fund more programs for adult literacy and job readiness
* Reduce poverty by creating good jobs with a living wage and paid sick leave
* Help small businesses prosper
* Put the public voice back into the public education
* Improve government services like the DMV and DCRA
* Provide more assistance to returning citizens
* Reform the tax code
* Reduce wasteful government spending

Below are some highlights of Andy's plan for DC. 

Fostering Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

I am known for creating vibrant, cultural spaces. My vision is to make the city less stodgy by drawing on the city’s history for inspiration.  We need to bring back the funk and create a culture where people can “bring their whole selves” to government and civic life.

We are the most inequitable city in the country. But we’re a city full of people who want to make the world a better place.  I am committed to equitable development that takes into account the people most impacted.

Read more here

Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education

You can count on me to reclaim the promise of public education for all of our children. The “Principles that Unite Us” align powerfully with my experience, beliefs and core values. These principles I will stand for as your mayor of the District of Columbia.

As the Nation’s capital, we should be leading the way on public education, using proven, state-of-the-art strategies to meet the profound needs of our students. Instead educators have been forced to operate on a one-size-fits-all basis more suited to the Industrial Age than a Knowledge Based Economy. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have narrowed the learning experience of our children to a factory conveyer belt of test prep and rote memorization.

Read more here.

Closing the Job Readiness and Literacy Gaps

According to DC government, in November 2013, there were 736,000 jobs available in DC. But the U.S. Census estimates that there were only 646,449 people living in the District. Even though there are more jobs than people in the District too many DC residents do not have the education and the skills to fill those jobs. I will work with private sector partners, community-based organizations, and NGOs to pull together a multi-pronged skills agenda to make it possible for DC residents to fill all those jobs. As Mayor, I will:

  • Increase funds for adult literacy programs by a factor of 5.
  • Hire more workforce “intermediaries” to make sure that residents are trained for actual jobs and connected directly to those jobs.
  • Strengthen vocational programs at both high school and community college levels.
  • Support programs with demonstrated outcomes in helping residents find and keep living wage jobs.

Read more here.  

Mobilizing to End the Affordable Housing Crisis

The lack of affordable housing is one of Washington, DC’s most serious, most challenging problems. Since the year 2000, we have lost half of our low-cost rental units (under $750 a month). The list of people waiting for affordable housing has reached almost 70,000.

We do have several programs aimed at supporting affordable housing. But the funding for these programs has been both inadequate and erratic from year to year. Even the recently announced plan to build 10,000 new units by 2020 falls far short of satisfying even today’s demand. In the meantime, people live in fear that their neighborhood might become the next “hot spot” for gentrification.

We need a much more aggressive program to deal with the city’s chronic shortage of affordable housing. We can draw on the best practices of other cities around the U.S. and around the world to develop a multi-pronged assault mobilizing every city department, private builders, and nonprofits. As Mayor, I will:

  • Dramatically increase funding for the Local Rent Supplement Programs and Permanent Supportive Housing. These programs create housing that is affordable for people with very low incomes below 30 percent of AMI and the chronically homeless. Funding for these programs has been flat in recent years.
  • Commit $100 million annually to The Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). Funding for this program has ranged from a high of $76 million in 2008 to a lower of $14 million.
  • Create a “Gentrification Tax Relief” program to prevent long-term residents from being forced out of their homes by higher property taxes caused by gentrification.
  • Establish an Office of Development and Accountability to evaluate whether developers are actually complying with their agreements with the city to build affordable housing on public land.
  • Enforce laws barring landlord harassment.
  • Provide incentives for landlords to provide affordable rents.
  • Add additional requirements on inclusionary zoning to provide space for seniors and returned citizens
  • Provide educational and informational programs to combat predatory lending.
  • Provide foreclosure prevention assistance and other support to reduce risks of foreclosure.

Read more here.  

Shifting Focus from Developers to Small Business 

An overwhelming body of evidence shows that the businesses that generate the greatest economic development are locally owned. As Mayor, I will shift course dramatically, turning away from giving endless tax subsidies to developers who have not really been required to do anything in return (See Getting What 

We Pay for from Developers). Instead, I will fight focus on creating jobs by accelerating the growth of locally-owned small business. As Mayor, I will:

  • Increase Selective Procurement – I will overhaul the city’s procurement system to make it more open to bids from local business. Today’s system, for example, does not accord businesses adequate credit for spending their contract dollars in DC and generating tax dollars (and other benefits). I will introduce a new system where bidders must represent the minimum percentage of a contract that they will spend locally, and bids will be adjusted – objectively through appropriate studies– by the additional taxes they generate for the District. This change will enable the District to get better bids, while increasing support for local business.
  • Establish a Small Business Blue-Ribbon Commission – I will convene the top small-businesspeople to serve on an advisory commission for my administration. I will charge this body with preparing an annual report reviewing programs intended to support small businesses, including indicators on the health of DC’s small businesses. This commission would also explore best practices for promoting small business from around the country, and make suggestions for eliminating ineffective policies and adopting promising new policies. The report also will contain indicators on the health of the local small business community.
  • Create Tax Incentives for Residents Who Invest in Small Business – I will propose a 5% income tax credit for any and all investment dollars residents put in qualified local DC businesses. As other states have demonstrated, tax credits can be a powerful mechanism for changing the investment behavior of residents. But unlike most tax-credit programs around the country, this one will be focused on the local businesses that can contribute the most to local economic development.
  • Turbo Charge the Anacostia Business Improvement District (BIID)- The city has used BIDs successfully in other parts of the city and I want to adapt this useful tool to deal with specific local problems, starting by supplementing the mandatory assessment fees paid by merchants in order to extend the BID’s reach and impact. In other areas, BIDs have traditionally had small staffs that provide cleaning, hospitality, safety, and beautification services. In Anacostia, a BID could take on new community projects, like assisting in the education of children or supporting the care of seniors.

Read more here

Getting What We Pay for from Developers

Year in and year out, DC’s Mayors and City Council members have been giving away hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to big developers in the form of tax incentives and other so-called subsidies for economic development.

The evidence that such give-aways result in long-term economic gains is weak. But in our city, the Mayor and the Council don’t even bother to find out what kind of return they’re getting for these enormous give-aways. As Mayor, I will:

  • Enforce Existing Agreements: Despite having given away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives and subsidies to developers, the Mayor and the City Council have failed to evaluate whether these developers have been delivering the benefits that they promised in return for their tax incentives. I will ensure that we hire sufficient personnel to conduct a thorough evaluation of all existing agreements, and to “claw back” monies or assess penalties from developers who have failed to meet their obligations.
  • Reduce Giveaways: I propose that the city significantly reduce its tax incentives and other subsidies to major developers, freeing up large sums of money which we can use to fund city programs that directly improve the education and skills of our workforce.
  • Require Transparency: Any DC dollars spent on behalf of economic-development will be allocated after a careful and open RFP process. Every business, including local businesses that have been all but shut out of our existing economic-development programs, will have a fair opportunity to propose how many jobs they will create for, with the support received from the District.

Read more here

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Showing 9 reactions

commented 2014-01-10 15:55:48 -0500 · Flag
The reason I was looking at Andy’s website was because I thought as an entrepreneur he might bring a fresh perspective to the entrenched DC political machine and I still hope that is possible. More than other places, it seems that politics gets in the way of good decisions. DC is incredibly fortunate to have the strong talent base that we have here but it goes largely untapped from a pure business perspective. As a business person myself, I know how bad and how arbitrary DC tax law can be – forever picking favorites instead of creating an attractive level playing field for all. The Living Social deal was a horrible example of this. DC offered huge tax breaks to a business that makes no money and pays no taxes. Yet at the same time many large and profitable businesses have left as a result of DC policies or in some cases the arbitrary implementation of policy. I have lived in DC for 14 yrs now and truly love the city and it’s increasing vibrancy but am constantly amazed at the poor decisions coming from the council. I hope that you can bring a truly fresh and outside perspective to the race.
commented 2014-01-09 12:50:34 -0500 · Flag
It would be good to talk about all this in person some time. One reason I support Andy so strongly is that he believes in dialogue, not denunciation. My tone was, perhaps, a bit too judgmental. You are right that TVA and CCC were not long-term solutions, but they suggest the power of government to be creative, not just wasteful. And they point to a long-term principle that I believe in: a job should be a right, not a privilege dependent upon the vagaries of the market. The market did not “create this country”; it was created by people and can be recreated by them. Government DOES need to be reconceived and reinvigorated, which is why candidates like Andy are in demand right now.
commented 2014-01-09 12:23:18 -0500 · Flag
Old fashioned – meaning I believe in the free market that created this country and the constitution – yes guilty as charged.

If you really believe the TVA and CCC were long term solutions, you just have to look back to the Barry administration to disprove that fact.

Look at the tax code before you make rash conclusions. Why do you think relocating companies skip DC? And you might want to relook at the PWC data – it covers the DC metro area (including VA).

Only someone who never visited a DC government office would assume that the DC government could be a source of innovation.
commented 2014-01-09 11:42:17 -0500 · Flag
As a quick look at his Tweets demonstrates, Mr. Yost is an old-fashioned apostle of “free markets” (?) who never met a gun, Walmart branch, or charter school he didn’t like, and never encountered a government office or regulation he approved of. To compare Andy’s proposed Office of Innovation to “an old Soviet style planning office” is the crassest sort of red-baiting — plus, Yost is totally wrong to say that “government does not create jobs.” Tell that to the millions saved from unemployment in the 1930s as a result of TVA, the CCC, WPA, and other New Deal programs! Furthermore, despite the DC businesses taxes Mr. Yost deplores, start ups are “exploding” here (see Brian Fung in the Washington Post, 11/12/13)! A modicum of research would have shown him that we are ranked 5th in the country in attracting new investment by PricewaterhouseCooper. The problem he complains of simply does not exist. And Andy’s proposed Office of Innovation is exactly the sort of public boost that private enterprise needs to become more socially and environmentally responsible.
commented 2014-01-09 11:08:30 -0500 · Flag
Andy, I think your Entrepreneurship plan is misguided at best. While I agree the city needs to be a hotbed of start up activity, there is no way that the DC government is going to drive this. An Office of Innovation in the DC government sounds like an old Soviet style planning office. At best the government can create an environment that allows this to flourish but government does not create jobs! A DC business tax code that double taxes small businesses is very onerous – and is only 1 of 2 places in the country that does this. Why would a start up ever locate here with that hurdle? Please focus more on knocking down road blocks to success than assuming government has all the answers.
commented 2013-12-11 17:26:21 -0500 · Flag
Natalie Marra’s comment is well intended, but I’m afraid she has reversed cause and effect. If we want to improve the quality of education in the District, we need to empower the “customers” — at least those 17 years old, who will be high school juniors or seniors — and voting rights are one way to empower people. Once upon a time, people objected to votes for people without property, people of color, and women for the same reason: they were considered not well enough educated to exercise their power responsibly. The answer to this was, and still is, give them the vote, and responsibility will follow!
commented 2013-12-11 11:37:11 -0500 · Flag
I question the dropping of voting age to 17. Perhaps, if the 17 year old voting age were to be implemented after the civics curriculum has been
implemented and presumably understood by the students.
Isn’t it ironic that students in our nations Capitol are so poorly
educated.
commented 2013-11-17 20:28:05 -0500 · Flag
Saving McMillan Park ties right in to Shallal’s vision for huge change in DC. A system of trails, woods, hiking paths envisioned in 1904 by Sen. McMillan.This should be just a start for an Eco-campus of historic preservation and Glen Echo style 365 days a year activities. The Dc govt. wasted this Central Park in utter contempt of our needs for 27 years. Bowser, Evans, Wells and Orange should be rejected and let’s support Shallal! The way to correct this theft of recreation value is to open the park, a park we can all walk to. A model of community process, environmental entrepreneurs projects, youth and family activities, music and art festivals, and especially adaptive re-use of existing magical underground 20 acres as City Bazaar. Preserve the beautiful sunsets, grow urban agriculture, a “healing garden” and an urban beach, and much, much more.
The illegitimately elected Mayor Gray has his hypocritical “Sustainable DC” plan for “2035” a farce. Even though every word in his “plan” would call for preserving and opening McMillan Park, he is “surplussing”, literally giving away McMillan to big developers, giving them decades of tax beaks, and a $319 million subsidy. To build on our land,, not his, a “National Harbor” of 50 ugly buildings, an artificial neighborhood constructed on the Park’s demolition. Shallal talks about a disenfranchised city, not just “let’s move forward” like all his incumbent opponents. Let’s move into a real representative democracy and prepare for statehood by forming the Assembly Neighborhood Congress, a voting legislature, and get rid of the tainted, corrupt city council. End the miserable, dictatorship of the 13, whose priorities are for 6 Walmarts, devastation to DC small businesses, they made a mess of travel in DC, and are filling up all the remaining open space, instead of furthering the L’Enfant/ McMillan Plan. The legacy that can still make DC a gracious living environment. We need a govt. for the environment, we are the Capitol of the country, so let’s lead with Shallal. Lead in more than traffic congestion, most development selling us out, and city officials under federal prosecution and swinging unethical deal after deal for the Corporate developer’s profits. The same construction mega-corporations, and DC’s wonderful small tradesman can work on helping seniors and low income residents to save the existing housing stock, insulating, and upgrading homes, and train the youth and under-employed for good careers, at McMillan Park, while we restore our park and legacy.

Development goes around the park, with park views, breezy days and cool nights, and shady tall mature trees. Mayor Gray and his “smart growth” Office of Miserable Planning just have it backwards!
commented 2013-11-17 16:49:49 -0500 · Flag
Finally — some radical AND practical ideas about transforming our city. Count me in, Andy!

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