CM Charles Allen Tells ANC6A Recovery Will Take Several Years – and Situation at DC Jail
by Larry Janezich
Charles Allen participated in ANC6A’s virtual April meeting last night. He plans on doing the same for other ANC’s this month, to talk about the city’s strategy for dealing with day to day crisis management re COVID-19.
In his update for the commission, he said he participates daily in a conference call with the Mayor, the City Council, and city administrators. Right now, the city is focused on trying to get out money as fast as we can to the 56,000 people who filed from unemployment insurance. He called the figure “astronomical” and noted that although the city has a strong trust fund, but “we need to look at the recovery to sustain it.”
Recovery will not be easy, and Allen says that the virus has been like a “wrecking ball through the economy. Tens and tens of thousands have lost jobs and there will be local business which will never reopen. We are looking at several years for recovery.” The budget will take a massive hit, and tough decisions lie ahead. He said we have to urgently pursue what the recovery will look like while we still have the ability to minimize the impact, and that he would like to have “something rosy to focus on, but it’s hard right now”. In addition, he said, everyday we are undermined by the federal government – we’ve received one-half of 1% of what we asked for from the strategic stockpile and we’re treated as a territory instead of a state for purposes of federal financial relief, receiving a fraction of what we would have otherwise been entitled. The city is working with Congress to rectify the latter in upcoming legislation.
Allen said that the Mayor has appointed a recovery team working under DMPED to plan the process. Allen is participating in the planning, especially on education and transportation recovery. As the process unfolds, he anticipates public participation in the form of town hall meetings for the solicitation of ideas and feedback. He said recovery “will require big thoughts and sacrifices. We’re not going to see mass service cuts right now – there are lots of people in need – but we’re still examining how deep and wide the pain is going to be before we get out of it.”
Allen took questions from on-line commissioners and participants, many of which concerned issues reported on this blog in a report covering Allen’s virtual Town Hall meeting earlier this week.
An issue which Allen expanded on more thoroughly than in the Town hall was the situation at DC Jail. As of Wednesday, there were 41 positive cases at the jail. Allen says he talks to the Director of the Department of Corrections on a daily basis about the situation. He says that there are three approaches being taken to control the spread of the virus. 1) aggressive screening and quarantining – medical isolation, 2) reducing the number of people in the jail by having MPD cite and release with a summons to reappear instead of incarceration, and 3) early release for good time credits and compassionate reasons, while making sure those released get access to housing and healthcare.