Key Issues

GUN VIOLENCE AND VIOLENT CRIMES

Issues

How many times have you heard the current mayor, in the wake of a shooting say “We’ve got to get these illegal guns off the streets.”  Well, we all know that!  What workable solutions has the current administration come up with to address gun violence for the past near 8 years?  Homicides are the highest in the District since 2003.

For the past 17 years or so, violent crime has continued to rise in the District.  Some want us to keep supporting decades of failed public safety policies that have led to mass incarceration of mostly people of color without reducing violent crime.  As a former ANC Commissioner in a high crime area, James knows this approach not only does not work, but it has also caused a public health crisis in our city.  To get us on the right track, we need to take bold action.  Among other things, this means getting guns off of our streets.  As your next mayor, James will combine his legal experience, advocacy, and city leadership experience with a bold agenda to ensure a safer future for all DC residents.

 

Solutions

James will NOT be soft with violent offenders who use guns to carry out their crimes.  James has always had, and fostered, a good working relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).  As a Commissioner, he worked tirelessly with MPD’s 5D to help reduce crime.

As a Citizen, James also was a part of the MPD Citizens Police Academy Cohort 14.  James enrolled in this prestigious program to learn how he can work with police to keep communities safe.  James knows that safe communities are happy communities.

First, to reduce gun violence, James will label gun violence as a public health crisis and will put the full efforts and public health funds and resources to address it as such.

Next, James will implement a Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit with MPD.  This Unit will specifically and solely work to target and tackle all illegal, unregistered, and ghost guns coming into the District from neighboring and other states. The Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit will be in addition to our current MPD Gun Recovery Unit and continue to increase the work with our federal partners to ensure we intercept illegal guns and save lives.

James will also work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to target ghost guns.  James will work with the ATF to change laws to make it more difficult to produce ghost guns and also work with the ATF to increase punishment for those that unlawfully create ghost guns!

James will also work with Cure the Streets and similar organizations, as well as continue to work with non-profit organizations  geared towards violence prevention.

James will also seek to get the support of the DC Council to enhance penalties for illegal gun possession in the District.

POLICING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Issues

For decades racism in policing, has been and continues to be a serious issue for people of color. Recently, however, this issue taken center stage in our country, allowing more white Americans – perhaps some for the first time – to see racism and its offspring of police brutality in action through the senseless killing of George Floyd, Ernie Serrano, Breonna Taylor, and many other people of color by police who are charged with protecting and serving all Americans, including people of color.

James by no means will be soft with violent offenders who use guns to carry out their crimes.  James has always had, and fostered, a good working relationship with MPD.  As a Commissioner, he worked tirelessly with MPD’s 5D to help reduce crime.

As a Citizen, James also was a part of the MPD Citizens Police Academy Cohort 14.  James enrolled in this prestigious program to learn how he can work with police to keep communities safe.  James knows that safe communities are happy communities.

However, we are at a moment of reckoning.  Will we allow police and our system of government to continue to fail and harm people of color by violating their civil rights under the Constitution and treat them as second class citizens?  Will we continue to ignore the reality that incremental, piecemeal reforms to policing do not work?

Solutions

Under James’ leadership, the answers to these questions is a resounding “NO!”  We believe that eliminating or reducing racism in policing in the District will require us to take bold steps. So, we will:

Reimaging Public Safety

Reimagine what public safety “would look” like, by shifting appropriate resources away from law enforcement to community resources, thereby expanding mental behavioral health services as well as other important services to meet each ward’s particular needs.

Specialized Divisions

Create specialized divisions in our city’s police departments to better equip officers in those divisions to respond appropriately to our residents. 

Abolish Qualified Immunity

Support and sign a DC law to abolish qualified immunity, a legal defense that allows a police officer to engage in unconstitutional and illegal acts and escape liability except when the officer’s legal violation was so obvious that it could only have been committed by “the plainly incompetent or [by] those who knowingly violate the law.”

REPARATIONS FOR AMERICAN DESCENDANTS OF SLAVERY

One of the best ways to fight gentrification is with reparations.  A hallmark of James’ candidacy is the push to identify and secure payments of long overdue compensation to Black American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS).  James is one of the first Mayoral candidates of any Major U.S. City to address and promise implementation of reparations. 

James commits to making the District’s push for reparations the model for other cities to follow!

These reparations will be in the forms of:

1) Cash payments to eligible recipients
2) Retention and repair of housing and programing to obtain housing
3) Specific child care programs targeting eligible recipients
4) Public/Private organizational relationships to deliver up to the first 4 years of college free to aspiring students.
5) Focused support for returning citizens to ensure their positive readjustment to full, positive citizenship

This is not some kind of “free ride” gambit which will only benefit a small number of people. This is America settling a just debt and investing in her future where ALL will participate and reap its benefits.

All Non-Black Americans benefit from making this investment by:

1) Recognizing and redressing some of the major wrongs done to a significant portion of its population for over 400 years
2) Ensuring that marginalized citizens resulting from those wrongs are enabled to participate successfully in the American society
3) James knows when the tide of the city rises, everyone rises together

 

All Black Americans benefit from this investment by:

1) Removing major roadblocks to full, positive participation in American life
2) Providing a “leg up” which permits, encourages, and rewards that participation

Reparations will help fight gentrification, reduce crime, gun violence, improve the city’s tax base… and improve the District for EVERYONE!

REDUCED OR FREE METRO TRANSIT

Issue

Thousands of DC residents cannot afford to pay for basic public transportation.

This issue, which disproportionately affects marginalized communities of color, has plagued the District for years and is a social, economic, and racial injustice issue we must face and resolve. 

Solutions

Under James’ leadership, we will address and solve this problem by instituting heavily subsidized low-income fare options across our transit system to better serve low-income riders who rely on it to get to work and meet their other obligations like taking their kids to childcare. 

However, James will not stop there.  Among other things, James will encourage all DC residents to support our downtown businesses, which were hit hard by COVID-19. James will accomplish this by strategically offering them free or reduced rides on our metro system on the weekends during certain hours.

 

Combined, these changes will:

1) Make our transit system more affordable, accessible, and equitable.
2) Expand access to transit service to more DC residents, reduce pollution, and help our local economy and business owners
3) Enable low-income residents to use money saved on bus fare every month to pay rent, food, and utility bills.

In summary, James’ approach to resolving this challenge will ensure we strike a balance between providing affordable public transit and generating sufficient revenue to sustain and improve our transit system, so it can provide high quality service for all DC residents.

REFOCUS ON THE DC HOUSING POLICY

Issues

Of all the major U.S. Cities dealing with gentrification, the District has seen the highest level of displacement of black and brown families…displacing black and brown families in the tens of thousands.  This current mayor administration has simply cozied with developers and has taken large campaign contributions from big developers.

Gentrification has taken a toll on the District, causing lifelong residents to flee the city in record numbers because they can no longer afford to live in the District and requiring other residents, including millennials, to have multiple roommates and struggle to find affordable housing.  It has also created major eyesores throughout the city, with new construction of dwellings adversely affecting our city’s skyline and sometimes disrupting our way of life.

Solutions

James will bring rent control to DC.  Furthermore, he will update our rent control laws to include all development, not just to buildings constructed before 1976, and will infuse income-based housing into the new law.

James will not stop until so-called affordable housing is truly affordable.  To do this, he will have to first look at how to calculate Area Median Income (AMI) to determine what is affordable.  Presently, the District uses HUDs formula which factors in neighboring counties of the District…this artificially hikes, or raises, what is affordable in the District.  No law prevents him from changing this—and he will change the law to create our own localized formula and make housing truly affordable.

James will also reduce tax breaks to developers for horizontal development unless these developers provide guarantees that they will create affordable housing based on DC medium income standards for each particular ward of the city. 

He will not stop there, however.  James will not tolerate uncontrolled gentrification because our residents deserve better than that.  So, he will fight to preserve the District’s character and improve access to high quality affordable housing.  Toward this end, through strategic partnerships, he will accomplish a number of goals.  Among other things, he will monitor and, when necessary, reduce building permits until vacant units are filled to serve residents in our communities, and will intermingle income-based housing with affordable housing, allowing residents to have an opportunity to live in different wards in the city.

 

HOMELESSNESS IN THE NATION’S CAPITOL

Issues

Despite campaigning in 2015 on the promise to end homelessness in the District “by 2018,” making it “rare, brief, and nonrecurring” by 2020, the current Mayor failed to deliver on these promises.

Between 2008 and 2010, our city was a national leader in the fight against chronic homelessness, providing income-based housing for more than 1,000 families.  Now, under the current administration, more money has been spent on managing this crisis than on ending it.

Solutions

James believes that the right to housing is a basic human right. He also believes the District is spending more money to manage the public crisis of homelessness than it is spending trying to end homelessness.

Under James’ leadership, this will change.  He will end homelessness in the District by building on the work plans that were in place between 2008 and 2010.  For example, he will eliminate tax cuts for commercial developers who do not provide income-based housing.  James believes this requirement should be a prerequisite for any commercial developer wanting to do business with the District. 

James will work with grassroots non-profit organizations such as Mariam’s Kitchen, Martha’s Table, Bread for the City, and other organizations to collaborate and create public private partnerships where necessary to help end homelessness. 

James also understands that mental and behavioral health issues frequently afflict persons experiencing homelessness.  James will demand that the District provide full and effective Wrap-Around services, where needed, to be part of any housing plan for those experiencing homelessness. 

“We will end homelessness with a three-part process: engaging churches and nonprofits, providing a replacement for D.C. General, reducing dollars reserved for abatements (reduction of taxes) for developers and redistributing those dollars.” 

—James Butler 
Feb 21, 2018

Read the rest of the article here on Street Sense Media

DC SCHOOLS AND CHILD CARE

Issues

DC public schools are – and have been – in a state of turmoil for more than a decade.  Under the current administration’s lack of leadership, there has been little-to-no progress from that administration’s efforts to improve standardized test scores for students in DC public schools, causing the City Council to declare that our schools are in a state of emergency and require immediate turnaround strategies.  Also, there has been little-to-no accountability in either the public or charter school sectors because rules governing each sector are not streamlined or effective.  These are but a few examples of the current administration’s lack of leadership.

In 2007, the City Council decided to make a change in leadership by transferring control of the public school system to the Office of the Mayor.  Because the lack of progress from other reform initiatives showed no improvement in standardized test scores, the consensus of the council was that our schools were in a state of emergency and required immediate turnaround strategies.  While they believed a realignment of the system might quickly improve student achievement, the reality was it did not.  There was little-to-no accountability in either the public or charter school sectors because rules governing each entity were not streamlined – teaching qualifications and administrative guidelines differed in each of those systems.  The complexity of monitoring public and charter systems became glaringly clear when people unfamiliar with education operations were suddenly assigned to “fix it.” 

James will end this public nightmare by bringing a new vision for excellence to DC public schools.  Under his leadership, we will identify new and innovative ways to improve attendance rates, student-suspension, and graduation rates. James will:

Solutions

End mayoral control of the District’s schools.  James will also include subsidies of childcare in the education budget.  Under mayoral control, the District has been mired in controversies over attendance rates, student-suspension rates, teacher turnover, the school lottery system, and graduation rates – particularly of students graduating despite having excessive absences throughout the school year.  Coupled with that, in 2017 the District of Columbia was #1 in the nation for pregnancies in girls 15-19.  While in 2020, our city is no longer ranked in the top ten jurisdictions with high teen pregnancy rates, we must be proactive in helping our young girls graduate high school.  Our history shows that the District had school facilities dedicated to young mothers which proved successful in educating and graduating students on time.  Moving forward, childcare for young mothers wanting to complete their education should be factored into our school budget as well. 

Sorting out these complexities should be the responsibility of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).  OSSE should be our go-to agency for “all things education,” including setting the standard for both public and charter school operations.  OSSE currently oversees federal funding, enrollment, and education standards in the city.  Let the mayor’s office divorce itself from managing education operations and let OSSE, the agency put in place for oversight of our education system, do just that.  

A FULL AND COMPLETE, EXTERNAL AUDIT OF ALL DC PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

Get In Touch

Paid for by the Committee for Butler for Mayor 2022, 1600 Maryland Avenue, NE  Terrence Jordan, Treasurer