Information and links related to Nov 11 “Community thru Covid”
We Still Here from Marc Lamont Hill
We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest, and Possibility by Marc Lamont Hill was just released (yesterday, 11/10/20) by Haymarket Books.
Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago, a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change. Visit HaymarketBooks.org for deeply discounted ebook of We Still Here and a paperback at reduced cost as well, along with many other useful titles.
We discussed several themes of this book on the 11/11 “Community thru Covid” and here is a succinct expression of much that the program has discussed in the past seventh months:
“In the United States, being poor and Black makes you more likely to get sick. Being poor, Black, and sick makes you more likely to die. Your proximity to death makes you disposable.”Hill, We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest, and Possibility, p.35
Get hold of this book, one way or another, as soon as you can.
A bio, FYI: Marc Lamont Hill is Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions at Temple University. He is an author and host of BET News. In addition, he is the owner of Uncle Bobbie’s Bookstore in Philadelphia, PA, which opened in 2017.
$43 Million More for DC’s Police
In late October, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser requested a budget reprogramming of $43 million for the Metropolitan Police Department, taking $29 million from DC Health Care Finance, $12 million from workforce investment, and $2 million for Children and Family Services (October 28 program). Although a number of Council members requested further information about the funding change, none submitted a formal disapproval motion, and so the transfer was deemed approved on 11/6/20.
Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1 Councilmember and chair of Human Services Committee, issued this statement just prior to the deadline for issuing a disapproval:
The City Administrator responded with a letter confirming MPD’s overtime costs and supporting the reprogramming. The Mayor allowed this expenditure without notifying the members of the Council directly. Now, the District must foot the bill.
I intended to file a disapproval resolution, but over the last week I could not find a path out of the position that the Mayor put the Council in. A disapproval of costs already incurred would neither stop MPD from receiving payment for their overtime expenditure nor result in those funds being immediately reallocated to human services priorities. Instead, it would require the Mayor to find a different,& potentially more problematic, funding source & it would result in the $43M reverting to the General Fund-not available for use for many months.
As a matter of principle, I am expressing my disapproval of this reprogramming. I express my disapproval to the idea that MPD’s reckless overspending and over-policing of our communities should be prioritized above health and human services programs. Residents have been sprayed with chemicals, kettled and intimidated for exercising their first amendment rights. The Council has still not received the results of the investigation. This reprogramming is adding insult to injury, and it’s outrageous. While we cannot reverse the existing MPD expenditures, we can strengthen the Council’s checks and balances to ensure the Mayor does not write another blank check to MPD in the future.
Today, along with Councilmembers Charles Allen and Robert White, I circulated the “Metropolitan Police Department Overtime Spending Accountability Emergency Act of 2020” to our colleagues at the Council. This legislation will require MPD to notify the Council when it reaches 5% more than the approved overtime pay budget in a fiscal year, and to provide an overtime pay spending report for each subsequent month for the rest of the fiscal year. This legislation will help us increase transparency and accountability on police spending in the District.
CM Allen, Chair of the judiciary committee, plans to incorporate this emergency legislation into future permanent legislation.— Brianne K Nadeau’s 11/5/20 Tweet (original in 9 parts)
Stop Police Terror Project DC responded, also via Twitter:
Things a disapproval resolution would have done: 1) Forced councilmembers to vote on the record for or against giving an additional $43 million to the MPD by taking from essential services.
And 2) If actually passed, (though we know that would require the Council showing actual courage) forced the mayor to request the money again or use the contingency fund.
No other agency would be permitted to overspend by millions then demand to be paid. DC police spend their nights pepper-spraying children and kettling protesters, and not only do they get away with it with barely a word from councilmembers – they get paid extra for it.
We are disappointed by CM Nadeau’s and the entire Council’s unwillingness to even try to symbolically stop this move – and are not satisfied by yet another bill citing “transparency,” with no apparent enforcement mechanisms.
But we also understand that this is a bigger problem, one of a police department with a half billion dollar budget and no accountability, which has been given free reign to terrorize DC residents.
It will soon be a new year bringing a new Council. We look forward to working with all the councilmembers who have claimed they want to change how the DC MPD is allowed to operate in this city…
Covid Alert Notification
DC is just one jurisdiction trying an election alert system via smartphone. For months, Electronic Frontier Foundation has been offering related research. Here are some pertinent stories:
Basic Q And A (April 2020)
Tracking Technology Will Not Save Us (Sept 2020)
“Ready for Its Close Up” (Sept 2020)
and here’s one from the ACLU about privacy
DC’s local press:
DCist announcement (Oct 19, 2020)
Local medical society‘s discussion
August story about Virginia’s effort