DC Residents Rally Take Back DC, Council Legislates to Save Childcare Centers But Mayor Ignores Law

Calling Mayor Adrian Fenty a “rogue Mayor,” more than a hundred District workers, labor activists and community allies gathered outside the DC City Council September 22nd to demand an end to Fenty’s anti-worker and anti-family behavior. As DC Councilmembers gathered for their morning breakfast, residents marked their return from recess with a rally and press conference to demand a halt to the impeding privatization of public services in the City, an impact assessment of recently-privatized facilities, greater transparency and accountability, and stronger oversight from the City legislators.rnrnThe rally, organized by Take Back DC, a broad-based campaign led by labor and community groups, focused on impeding closure and privatization of 13 childcare centers at the Department of Parks and Recreation set for September 25th. “I have no idea how I will be able to find childcare for my son,” said Jane Andrews, a member of Empower DC and mother whose son Andre was on the waiting list for one of the centers now closed. “There are so few centers that accept children with disabilities, I simply don’t understand why the Mayor is shutting down these high-quality, badly-needed child care services.” rnrnThe highly-accredited centers have been serving low-income families since 1974.rnrnWard 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas sponsored the press conference and during the Council’s legislative session, amended the Budget Support Act to direct the Executive to continue to provide daycare services for children with disabilities. “I am pleased that my colleagues and I were able to amend the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Act to restore this very important day care program until the Council has the opportunity to review and approve third-party providers,” said Thomas after the vote.rnrnNonetheless on Friday, September 25th, defying Council legislation, the Executive closed the centers. “Hundreds of DC residents have lost their child care services, 160 workers lost their jobs and the city has lost high-quality programs operated since 1974,” explained Parisa Norouzi, director of Empower DC, which is organizing parents who until Friday used DPR’s day care services. rnrn”The daycare workers are gone,” added Ben Butler, President of AFGE Local 2741 which represents rank and file DPR workers. “The morale of workers has plummeted under DPR Director Hartsock who has followed the Mayor privatization agenda, creating a climate of fear and intimidation. People don’t know what will come next. Meanwhile, experienced union workers are being terminated and replaced with inexperienced non-union employees. Hartsock and the Mayor are trying to eliminate the union by attrition, reconfiguring entire job categories as non-union.”rnrn”What’s mind-boggling is that the federal grant is still there to fund the program,” Beverley Jackson (below, center) from Family Voices of the District of Columbia told Council staff. “We are supposed to help place children with disabilities in childcare programs, but we can’t do our job because all the sites have been closed,” she added. rnrn”Families with children who want to break the cycle of poverty simply can’t,” said Debbie Billet-Roumell, Coordinator of DC Women’s Agenda for Wider Opportunities for Women, “you can do all the job training you want but without childcare centers, women cannot access these trainings or find a job.” rnrnA week after hundreds gathered to Take Back DC, the words of Roger Newell, chair of DC Jobs with Justice, ring truer than ever.“Since coming into office the Mayor has consistently defied the will of the people in order to move public resources into the private hands of the corporate interests that fund his campaign. It’s time for the City Council to step up and hold this rogue Mayor to account.”rnrn”It’s clear that the Council needs to revisit its toolbox and figure out how to hold the Mayor accountable to the legislation they pass,”asked Parisa Norouzi (below, 2nd from right), coordinator of Empower DC and organizer of the day of action.rnrnDuring the Council’s legislative session, Thomas did introduce a resolution to explore the initiation of a lawsuit against the executive for failure to follow the law regarding day care program closures, “Consistent noncompliance with District laws usurps the authority of the Council,” said Councilmember Thomas. “We have no choice but to explore the possibility of initiating a lawsuit to defend and protect the laws of the District of Columbia.”rnrnCheck out photos of the Rally to Take Back DC by clicking http://www.flickr.com/photos/32622018@N07/?saved=1.rnrn– Ruth Castel-Branco, DC Jobs with Justice. Origionally printed in Union Cities

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.