Mayor Chris Otten Chris Otten for Mayor
The 'Undoing The Damage' Campaign 2006

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Otten's 3 Point Platform

My platform points intend to address the most serious problems facing our city today.

Educational and Economic Stewardship Retain Citywide Diversity Empower our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions


1) Educational and Economic Stewardship

Creating more opportunities for education and jobs is critical to the positive growth of our city, especially for our families. Please send me your comments about how I address this priority in the statements below.

  a) Education
    DC Public Schools -- Step into our schools for a moment. We must end the mismanagement. The school board must be entirely elected by the general public and thus be held completely accountable by District residents. This also means that school board representatives are DC residents and so must be our superintendent. We must shift more of the school budget from top-end administration to classroom level needs such as books, musical instruments, and other supplies missing in today's DCPS classes. DCPS bureaucratic inefficiencies result in delayed work orders and improper recording and reporting of school data. These inefficiencies must be eliminated, as they tend to steal the vitality from our hard working principals, teachers, and children. I will work with the School Board and Superintendent to do this.

Charter Schools -- The public-charter movement has succeeded... in dividing our communities about their value. It has become clear, since their inception a decade ago, that charter schools are not necessarily the answer to DCPS woes. For the most part they are doing only as well as our traditional schools with some which standout as academic stars. I stand against the creation of more charter schools until we make a real and impartial assessment of these schools and remind ourselves of the intentions of the original Charter school movement -- this was to think outside of the box, practice new experimental curriculums, free principals from red tape to broaden academic freedom and then take winning models found from this experiment back to traditional public schools. The original intention was not to expand the growth of Charter schools exponentially and blindly, without proper assessments, at the expense of DCPS.

Vocational Schools -- Why is only one vocational school left in the District, a nursing school. This must immediately be addressed. My focus will be on Information Technology vocational training as there is alot of resources in the DC Metro region, also known as the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. Participating students will be able to apply their skills to careers almost immediately thus giving folks who are struggling to stay afloat in this city a chance to advance their careers significantly.

Special Education -- One of the highest DC budget appropriations involving education is for our students with special needs. This is not because DC offers quality special education to many students, rather its due to the fact that DC transports our special students to private institutions in Maryland and Virginia because we don't have the facilities to teach them at home. High gas prices have driven up transportation costs and vouchers for out-of-state tuition continues to rise, as they know we are stuck for it. This must end. We can and we will build and facilitate special education training centers throughout the city when I am Mayor.

Libraries -- While city leadership stands tall on the argument of tremendous growth in the city they forgot to take time out to peruse what should be the centers of our community, our DC Public Library system. They need more funding, better management, and revitalization. They don't need to be closed down! Click here to read my Federation of Friends of the DCPL Library System Mayoral Survey completed in June 2006.
   
   
   
   
 
b) Economic Stewardship
   

Small Business Promotion -- Small businesses have empirically been shown to be the economic engines of urban development. The current city leadership has it backwards, they want big stadiums and nationwide big-box retail stores to "anchor the centers of new communities." Time and time again this has been shown not to work. Truly at the end of the day, small businesses --"moms and pops"-- create more jobs with better pay and benefits and are typically operated by local folks, not multinational CEO's. Hence, as mayor I will promote those small businesses that have the support of their community with tax relief that will be tiered based on how long the business has been operating. Additionally, the city will expand seed money financing to minority DC entrepreneurs so to grow our own economic base. And, DC residents who are longtime leaser's of their property to small business owners will be offered tax relief so to encourage keeping longtime small businesses serving our residents. In recent years overzealous city tax assessors are slamming many property owners with huge increases in tax assessments and they are passing the bill down to small business owners who then either have to raise their retail prices or close shop. This is just not fair to the entire community.

Jobs Programs Through Environmental Protection -- As mayor I will foster creative jobs programs that will inspire our budding professionals at all levels while simultaneously tackling an issue that faces all of us, the degradation of Mother Earth.

  • Computer Equipment Reintegration -- Being at the center of the East Coast Silicon Valley, we have the opportunity to remove toxic materials from our waste stream by implementing a strong citywide computer equipment reintegration program. Right now Mayor Williams and the City Council are ok with hosting a biannual computer-recycling day whereby folks can drop off equipment that is then brought to technicians found in surrounding areas like Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. This would change dramatically under my administration. There exist many models nationwide that DC can mimic to grow a workforce around reintegrating computer throw-aways and the opportunities for private-public partnerships would be endless. Plus this equipment can then be reintegrated back into our schools, libraries, and citywide offices as needed!

  • Public Transportation -- The District's air is a mess. Code Red days are at all time records. Isn't it time the city leadership step up to demand that Metro provide more efficient and cleaner busses using new alternative technology. This helps to set up an opportunity to train the next generation of mechanics, those who know how to repair the next generation of alternative transportation. Additionally, have you taken a moment to watch some city busses at various times of the day? Typically at night, ridership is much lower than during morning and evening rush hour... then why are we hustling a handful of folks around in large inefficient diesel busses? I would support the purchase and use of jitneys and other smaller forms of alternative transportation thus creating more positions for drivers and additional mechanics.

  • Large-scale Recycling -- The DC recycling program is virtually nonexistent. I'm not even sure the recyclable goods we put in the blue bins actually get recycled. But I do know that I am embarrassed by the fact 'DC' is not proudly emblazoned on each glass bottle and aluminum can which gets thoughtlessly tossed away at street corners around the District or gets dumped by the tons behind the many bars and restaurants which line our commercial streets. Isn't it time the Nation's capital city take stand against the abuse of our environment while simultaneously showing that this proud endeavor can create jobs. A strong citywide recycling program will do both. And, whatever our recycling crews can't recover, the thousands of homeless folks will as they collect money without begging and help to keep our city clean.

Reopen General Hospital -- The closing of the emergency ward at our only public hospital not only imperiled the lives of our residents on the east side of the city, but simultaneously eliminated high-end professional healthcare careers. It can be shown hundreds of our poorest neighbors have died because they have had to be driven across the city to seek medical attention for serious injuries. It's time to bring back this beacon of hope for our city, especially when you consider the huge scandal for why it was closed. Additionally, we can use our public hospital to train and employ our residents who want careers in professional healthcare. This proud endeavor has largely been lost due to the early demise of what can be a world-class public hospital in the nation's capital. Share that vision with me. Click here for a closer examination on why our only public hospital was closed.

   
   


2) Retain Citywide Diversity through Affordable Housing and Tenant Protection Programs

Why can large scale construction be done on a baseball stadium and not on our libraries and schools? Are city officials and developers asking you how you'd feel about a large condominium being built across from your house or perhaps replacing the apartment complex where you live? Why are the Mayor and Council members comfortable selling our public land to rich developers for pennies on the dollar? Until these questions are answered and there is an impartial impact survey done by and for District residents, there will be no more large-scale private development of former or current public land! Help me refocus the City's priorities from that of helping multinational corporations build their next District office to really helping people who live here by rebuilding and refurbishing our libraries, schools, and hospital. I look forward to hearing suggestions about my plans below.

 

No More Condos -- Until impartial impact surveys are done by and for District residents we must halt the condonization of DC. Condonization helps to raise area rents, property costs, and taxes while simultaneously ushering in waves of gentrification. If there is new construction it must be on our schools, recreation centers, libraries, and other important social systems.

Fair Swapping and Inclusionary Zoning -- Currently the city leadership has given the thumbs up to tearing down affordable housing for seniors and the working poor under the guise of creating "new revitalized communities." These words actually mean "We are not going to listen to your needs, get the hell out!". This happens most explicitly to the poorest, the homeless. They constantly face eviction as their shelters and emergency beds are typically the first to be demolished or removed without any adequate replacements. Such bold and devious action is happening all over the city such as with Sursum Corda, around the footprint of the baseball stadium project, throughout Columbia Heights, and the list is too big to continue. I stand for fair swapping... if we need to revitalize communities, it should not be at the expense of the poor. If a building is deemed too old to be safe, then we can build a new one, and the folks who lived there before can move back in. The city should also be responsible for providing interim housing while this revitalization occurs. In regards to new private construction, developers must be held to solid citywide inclusionary zoning regulations, whereby the developer offers prices to buy or rent at levels truly affordable by longtime working-class DC families and residents.

Rent Control -- We are seeing a period in DC's history where longtime locally based landlords are retiring and selling their properties to large real estate managers who generally have no tie to the District besides wanting to make massive profit. Hence, we are seeing rents skyrocket and thus why the ultimate safety net for most of DC's working folks, rent control, is such a big issue right now. I stand for strong rent control policies especially targeting brand new landlords with little connection to the city. I want our rent control policies to be tiered on a Consumer Price Index that is based solely on DC. Currently the city uses a CPI based on the entire DC Metro region -- vastly increasing the value of our CPI. And, I believe Rent Control and Rent Subsidies are drastically different. I will focus my efforts on enacting strong rent control and not giving city dollars to profit-driven landlords in the form of rent subsidies.

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3) Empower our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC's)

There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC's) in the District. Each ANC has an average of 7 ANC Commissioners who are elected by their neighbors every two years. According to the ANC website, "The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget. Please read and send me feedback about my ANC plan below.

 

The Power of Referendum and Initiative -- ANC's shall be given the power to create referendums and initiatives and get them on the citywide ballot. Currently, a coalition of DC residents who typically have FT jobs have to form volunteer teams to gather tens of thousands of signatures citywide in order to have initiatives placed on the ballot. Needless to say many necessary initiatives don't make it to the ballot. In the case of referendums, we need to rely on what typically has been a close-vested City Council to offer true democracy to the people and thus place the referendum on the ballot. I believe that since ANC Commissioners are elected every two years by their neighbors they are the most accountable elected position in the District today. Hence, ANC's, after assessing community needs and vetting referendum and initiative ideas through a democratic process at the citywide ANC level, should have the power to place such referendums and initiatives on our ballots during election season.

Increased ANC Funding -- Approximately 900 thousand dollars is divided up by 37 ANC's a year. This equates to an average of $27,000 for each ANC. The Office of the DC Auditor transmits a quarterly budget allocation to the ANC's and also audits all ANC expenses quarterly for any misuse. ANC's can use this money to operate an office and fund staff although many don't as they look to spend the money in other gratifying ways. I've come to find out that ANC's can grant their allocated budgets to local community-based organizations and non-profits for important local projects that meet the needs of that ANC. This is a very commendable use of this money but when speaking with ANC's who have serious needs to fill in their community it is not nearly enough. Since ANC's are the eyes, ears, and heart of each neighborhood in this city, they are most aware of our residents' desires and the services they need. Thus, I'd like to increase the ANC budget allocation by ten times and give our ANC Commissioners a real PT-level stipend to help them become stronger stewards of neighborhood level politics. Because when I become mayor they will be the elected officials I mainly listen to when I set my priorities.

Binding Decision Making -- Time and time again, I will see anguished ANC Commissioners testifying before our City Council and Mayor's offices and presenting a voice for their neighbors. They lend important suggestions to city legislation and bureaucratic control and ask the city to humbly help them meet the needs of their neighborhoods. Do the appointed officials at the Executive level listen? Do you think the City Council members listen? Maybe, sometimes, but for the most part our ANC Commissioners and their important opinions are ignored. This must end. Currently, under DC law, "great weight" is given to the testimony of our ANC's. It is time to rid DC code of this straw language and give our ANC Commissioners the respect they deserve - binding local decision-making. If an ANC decides they don't want a developer in their neighborhood then the Mayor's zoning commission or Office of Planning can't force it there. ANC's will have a larger pot of money as I detail in the point above, so they will be able to enact binding legislation at the local level that uses these funds to meet their neighborhood needs. If they make mistakes, like the Mayor and City Council do regularly, they will pay for it as they have to face reelection at the neighborhood level every two years and perhaps face nightly protests right outside their doors. As Mayor, I will help facilitate the wishes of the ANC's and not dictate to them what will happen with the direction of the city. They are the eyes, ears, and hearts of our neighborhoods -- they deserve more respect and power and as Mayor I promise to make this happen.

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» Chris's Platform
» Otten's Info
» DC Statehood Green Website

» ENDORSE CHRIS

Statehood Otten  Now!
» Contact the campaign
» Volunteer
» Help Get the Word Out

» TELL A FRIEND

Otten for Mayor 2006
The 'Undoing the Damage' Campaign

Feel free to contact the Otten06 office at:
202-234-7075 || mayorchrisdc@fastmail.fm

Chris Otten for DC Mayor 2006