Mayor Muriel Bowser

Mayor Muriel Bowser

Mayor Muriel Bowser released her annual budget earlier this month, sparking debate over affordable housing, fiscal responsibility and priorities for the District. She joins us in studio to talk about her 2020 budget, plus other major local news stories, like ethics violations among councilmembers and the future of the RFK Stadium site.

Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we’re at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Produced by Mark Gunnery

Guests

  • Muriel Bowser Mayor, District of Columbia (D); @MayorBowser
  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; Contributing Writer for Washington City Paper; @tomsherwood

Live Video

Transcript

  • 12:00:11

    KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to The Politics Hour, starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a contributing writer for Washington City Paper. Tom, welcome.

  • 12:00:33

    TOM SHERWOODGood afternoon.

  • 12:00:35

    NNAMDIAnd our guest today is the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser. Madam Mayor, thank you so much.

  • 12:00:41

    MURIEL BOWSERThank you, Kojo. Thanks for having me.

  • 12:00:42

    NNAMDITom Sherwood, I wanted to talk about what's happening in Maryland first where three overrides have taken place of vetoes of Governor Larry Hogan, one of them having to do with the $15 minimum wage by the year 2025, a second one having to do with the governor's insistence that schools do not start until after Labor Day. Well, legislation has been passed to say schools jurisdictions can choose to start before Labor Day. He vetoed that. It's been overturned. And the third having to do with the Comptroller Peter Franchot --

  • 12:01:13

    SHERWOODYes, Peter Franchot, the legislature took away his authority to regulate alcohol and tobacco in the state. It's seen as a punitive political measure. Peter Franchot has strong support throughout the state when it comes to votes. But in Annapolis they don't like Peter Franchot cozying up to the governor and the way he conducts some of his business. So they stripped him of some important powers. The minimum wage thing is very important. It will go to $15 by 2025. Small businesses with fewer than 15 employees will get till 2026.

  • 12:01:47

    NNAMDIAnd in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the governor has -- according to a piece in the The Post by Laura Vasela, amended motorists measures with race inequities. One of them having to do with state budget to end license suspensions for unpaid court costs, a practice that disproportionately affects the poor. And in Alexandria, another amendment to ban handheld cell phone use while driving with the requirement that the state tracks citations to ensure that minorities are not unfairly targeted for enforcement.

  • 12:02:20

    SHERWOODWell, these are both good policies. But there's also the reeducation of the governor after the black face incident. But it's important, you know, people who lose their license for some administrative infraction in the state or in any place, then they can't drive. Then they can't get to work. And it creates a spiral downward. So both of those are considered very important.

  • 12:02:41

    NNAMDIAnd accusations against former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder of sexual harassment. A student who was working with him at the Virginia Commonwealth University School named after the governor said the governor invited her out, gave her alcohol, tried to kiss her and then later --

  • 12:03:02

    SHERWOODInvited her to live in his house.

  • 12:03:03

    NNAMDIYes, and promise he would take her on trips and the like.

  • 12:03:05

    SHERWOODAll right, this is -- given the controversy already over the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, but for Doug Wilder, who has been such an important voice in the last 50 years in Virginia this is -- first of all people are concerned about the young woman, who has made this allegation and she should be taken seriously and respected for what is a very detailed report she's given. But also just to have Governor Wilder whose 88 years old now I think to have this occur in the later years of his very important life to the state of Virginia, it's very distressing. But the important thing is to find out exactly what happened as best we can.

  • 12:03:40

    NNAMDIOur guest is the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser. If you have questions for her start calling now, 800-433-8850 or send us a tweet @kojoshow or email to kojo.wamu.org. Mayor Bowser, you gave the 2019 state of the District speech last week at UDC where you announced an increase to the city's annual contribution to the housing production trust fund. Everybody these days seems to agree that affordable housing may be the number one issue facing the city right now. Nevertheless your address was disrupted by protesters saying that increase is not enough. How do you respond to housing advocates pushing for a higher percentage of the budget going toward housing?

  • 12:04:23

    BOWSERWell, thank you for your questions, Kojo. And it's great to be with you. And I did have the pleasure of giving my fifth State of the District Address right here at the University of the District of Columbia just across the street from where we are now and present my fifth balanced budget to the Council of the District of Columbia. And I'm proud of the increases that we have been able to make in my first term to what we invest in affordable housing. Many people don't remember, but when I became mayor we were investing about $50 million in the housing production trust fund. I promised to double it. I did that for each of my four years of my first term.

  • 12:04:59

    BOWSERAnd in this year, we were able not only to increase the housing production trust fund by $30 million, but create a new tool for work force housing. How many times have we heard people say, we need more housing in our city for our teachers and firefighters and police officers and government workers? And presently we have scant funds to incentivize the production of those units.

  • 12:05:25

    BOWSERSo this budget for the first time creates a fund that will do exactly that so that we can create more work force housing units in addition to a $30 million increase in our housing production trust fund. And all of these funds attract private investment that gets us well over the $200 million threshold.

  • 12:05:47

    SHERWOODYou've talked about how you need to create 36,000 units of housing by the what?

  • 12:05:54

    BOWSER2025.

  • 12:05:54

    SHERWOOD2025. You talked about work force housing. The trust fund, you certainly -- people have given you credit for moving it from $50 million to $130. Although, you know, some advocates want you to move that specific fund to $200 million. There are other people who are worried about public housing. So I understand if you put about $200,000 in the budget to study the problem with a rapidly deteriorating housing stock in public housing, but I'm just wondering, do we need to study? The Housing Authority itself in January said 7,000 out of it's 8,000 units are either in bad or very bad shape and it needs hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • 12:06:36

    SHERWOODSome people say we need a Marshall Plan, an aggressive plan like we did with libraries and other things to fix public housing. Or do you think we're moving away from public housing to private public partnerships where public housing will be torn down? These places will be torn down and you'll build mixed use housing.

  • 12:06:55

    BOWSERWell, I think the federal government is moving away from public housing.

  • 12:06:58

    SHERWOODYes.

  • 12:06:59

    BOWSERBut we want in the District of Columbia to be able to preserve public housing units and invest in them. The model, however, is broken. The federal government has walked away from its responsibility. And we locally provide over $160 million of operating costs to support public housing. We allow our lapsed local rent supplement vouchers to be converted to money so that the Housing Authority can also make capital investments. And while we applaud them for studying the kind of nature of the problem, we don't yet have a solution to fund what they say they need. I mean, what they say they need is over $300 million in a single year.

  • 12:07:45

    BOWSERSo put that into some context. We needed $500 million a year for Metro of which we were responsible for one third. And you know the type of study that we went through to be able to justify first of all that that's what's needed. That the governance in management could actually spend that money, and they demonstrated how they were able to spend that money. And we increased a tax in order to create a dedicated fund to do that. So what I have asked our CFO to do is to start getting into the finances of the Public Housing Authority. They operate independently from us. So we will need to understand how their finances are working and what their plan would be to spend that kind of money in any given year.

  • 12:08:38

    SHERWOODThey've gotten money, federal money, which they have not spent. And that's part of the issue is there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency to do immediate necessary repairs on lead and plumbing and housing. While you work on a long term plan, it's not a lot of hope. People are concerned about -- for the people, who are stuck in some of those worst units right now.

  • 12:09:01

    BOWSERThat's correct. And part of our discussion -- I'm leading the National League of Cities in a housing task force right now. And we're focused. Mayors from across the nation and public officials on what more we need from the federal government when it comes to keeping people in their housing, emergency rent supplements, homelessness, and the like. But also what they're doing with the public housing units they've supported.

  • 12:09:29

    NNAMDIAnd there was a recent report that said that between the years 2000 and 2013, the District of Columbia lost 20,000 of its low income African American residents. And the cause for concern over affordable housing in particularly the African American community is the cost that this will be to the African American community of losing more residents in the city. Is there anything you can say about that?

  • 12:09:55

    BOWSERWell, certainly we don't want to lose any of our residents. And the investment in housing is key to that. And making sure that we are investing in our public housing is part of it, but creating more units has been certainly been our focus. But I would add, Kojo, that the pinch about housing crosses all income levels in our city. And that is why we have to have a plan. I've been proud of the work that we've done with the housing production trust fund, because though the law allows to spend on 30 percent of AMI, 50 percent AMI and 80 percent of AMI, we focused our investments on 50 percent and below. But we know there also exists a gap in that work force housing ban.

  • 12:10:45

    NNAMDIThis one won't take you long to respond to Cookie in Northeast Washington. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:10:52

    COOKIEYes. Hi, Mayor Bowser. Hi, Kojo, how are you?

  • 12:10:56

    NNAMDIHi, Cookie.

  • 12:10:57

    COOKIEI would like to say that I am pleased that our mayor has presented us with another balanced budget and I really appreciate the removal of the tax on the diapers for the families. And I think folks, who don't understand that need to understand sometimes a tax makes a difference in whether a mother can make a purchase or not.

  • 12:11:16

    NNAMDIThat was personal.

  • 12:11:17

    COOKIEI know that is really really a big thing. And folks who don't, you know, pay attention to tax, they may not get it. But I know the mayor gets it and it's very appreciated.

  • 12:11:27

    BOWSERThank you. Thank you.

  • 12:11:27

    NNAMDIGets it now for sure.

  • 12:11:29

    BOWSERYeah. Absolutely. And I should add that that measure was moved by Councilmember Anita Bonds. It included the tax on menstrual hygiene products and diapers. In last year's budget, we were able to fund the removal of the -- we call it the pink tax. And this year we've been able to do it for diapers. And I'm hopeful that the Council is going to support that measure.

  • 12:11:50

    NNAMDIOur guest is Muriel Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia. Thank you for your call, Cookie. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:12:00

    NNAMDIWelcome back to The Politics Hour. Our guest is Muriel Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia. Tom Sherwood, March Madness is in town tonight. Games are being played at the Capital One Arena.

  • 12:12:09

    SHERWOODDuke.

  • 12:12:09

    NNAMDIIt was baseball day yesterday, opening day. The Nats played yesterday and somehow or the other you manage to bring sports into this Politics Hour conversation.

  • 12:12:15

    SHERWOODWell, you know, there are lots of issues around sports. But the city has progressively become more and more of a sports center.

  • 12:12:22

    BOWSERSports capital. We like to call it the sports capital.

  • 12:12:24

    SHERWOODYou were at the ballpark with -- was that Miranda in the picture with the shirt on?

  • 12:12:28

    BOWSERYes. Miranda joined me.

  • 12:12:29

    SHERWOODYou're going tonight to the NCAA Capital One Center. The Caps this week made it back into the playoffs. The Audi Stadium is doing well for D.C. United. We all could win a little bit more. But the city is --

  • 12:12:46

    NNAMDINotice you didn't mention the Wizards. But go ahead.

  • 12:12:47

    SHERWOODWell, you know. Wizards, we keep hoping for you. We keep hoping for you. But all of those are really good things. But also you've got to decide going forward you're trying to get the 190 acres around the RFK Stadium and that stadium itself for the city to develop as it wants and it needs. And you've said you'll discuss that issue whether it will be a stadium or not down the road. But you've publically have said you'd like to see the Skins come back to town. If you could work out the details and the name and all of that, would you still welcome them?

  • 12:13:18

    BOWSERWell, you just outlined why sports is so important to our city and our region. It brings people from all walks of life together. Sports teams are doing right by their communities. They make investments in the communities and it just raises the collective spirit of a town. So we have invested in our professional sports teams, but we've also invested in our recreational activities across the city. If you look at our pools and fields and playgrounds, we want D.C. residents to enjoy sport. Get outside and get moving. RFK for us, Tom, is we have to decide locally what's happening. Having 190 acres that is mostly parking lot, a stadium that is crumbling, and sitting on the banks of the Anacostia River in line with the United States Capital is not something any of us should sit by and watch happen.

  • 12:14:19

    BOWSERAnd since I've been mayor, we've been focused on alternate uses for RFK through Events D.C. The community engagement has been robust for the last four years. And we are very grateful that the congresswoman has introduced a bill that would allow for transfer of RFK to D.C.

  • 12:14:41

    SHERWOODAnd you've got three athletic fields opening this year.

  • 12:14:44

    BOWSERAbsolutely.

  • 12:14:45

    SHERWOODBut the big if is the Washington football team as some people call it. The Skins I call it. Can they still be part of the mix? Are you saying that's much farther down the road?

  • 12:14:56

    BOWSERI think it's a decision certainly for a later day. And it's a decision to be made by us not by congress people from various places across the country. It's a decision for D.C. What we know though is that anything that happens there, it couldn't just be a stadium. It would have to be a mix of uses from residential to commercial to hotel. That 190 acres could accommodate all of those uses.

  • 12:15:23

    SHERWOODThe local resident needs and the business needs of the city.

  • 12:15:26

    BOWSERAbsolutely.

  • 12:15:27

    SHERWOODAll right. Let me ask you about the budget because Chairman Mendelson said he didn't like the fact that you didn't -- that you're spending a lot of money. That you're raising some taxes and you're not doing enough for schools, number one. I'm just going to make this one question. Kathy Patterson, the D.C. Auditor, who works for the Council, testified this week that she thought the budget was spending too much money giving the down years that could be coming ahead. And she questioned the soundness of it even though the budget is technically balanced.

  • 12:16:01

    BOWSERNo. It is balanced.

  • 12:16:02

    SHERWOODWell, is balanced.

  • 12:16:03

    BOWSERIt is balanced. It is structurally balanced and is certified by the Chief Financial Officer.

  • 12:16:09

    SHERWOODBut you -- somebody in your administration gave the Post a quote in which you said that Kathy Patterson's views and two dollars will get you a ride on a Metro bus. And I'm just wondering if that was -- and then on Wednesday, when we had a meeting with reporters you questioned whether Kathy Patterson is even a financial budget expert suggesting she's not. Others say she is. I don't want to defend her here, but she has her own record as the auditor and three time member of the Council. Why the criticism on the personal level?

  • 12:16:41

    BOWSEROh, I'm not criticizing anyone on a personal level, but --

  • 12:16:44

    SHERWOODYou didn't say that the two dollars in the bus -- will get you a bus ride. That's your -- your communication staff put that out.

  • 12:16:52

    BOWSERWell, I think that the Council's Auditor made a political statement that was not factual. And the way our city is set up, we have an independent Chief Financial Officer, who is responsible for looking at our revenues and our expenses and certifying a balanced budget. And that's exactly what happened. So, when anybody is making a political statement about our budget they should expect us to respond with facts.

  • 12:17:21

    SHERWOODSo, it wasn't personal to say, two dollars will get you a bus ride on Metro? I mean, somebody in your staff said it. And Coby King, the Post's columnist tweeted that was a bad thing to say. Couple of other people --

  • 12:17:58

    BOWSERNo, what's bad to say is to make a...

  • 12:18:00

    SHERWOODThey thought the tone was wrong.

  • 12:18:02

    BOWSERWell, I don't -- look at the tone from all sides, if you will. And we are not going to allow anybody to make nonfactual statements about the tremendous work that has gone on from my budget staff. And this is what they do all year, every day, focus on our budget and the work of the CFO, who is actually responsible for certifying a budget. More than that, Tom, the council's auditor is the council's advisor. And the council members put forward to us $1.6 billion in requests for new spending. So, the auditors' work might be best served advising the members of the council what she thinks is appropriate for them to spend.

  • 12:18:52

    SHERWOODAnd the chairman's saying that there's not enough education focus in this budget. They're not saying there isn't any, because there's a lot, but the chairman seemed to just -- he didn't suggest, he said he's disappointed that some schools will be losing money, because of the student formula and all those different types of things. But there's just not enough money for education.

  • 12:19:13

    BOWSERWell, let me say this, Tom. Our education spending increased by $56 million, so you can't say on one hand that you don't want -- that the budget increases were too much, and then say that a $56 million increase in schools is not enough. And it doesn't stand to reason. That $56 million represents a 2.2 percent increase in per-pupil student funding. And if the councilmembers and the chairman are concerned about some schools who have lost money, they've largely lost money because they've lost students. And the way our schools are funded is by student.

  • 12:20:00

    BOWSERWe will look at -- and this budget funds an opportunity for us to study to make sure the funding weights are being administered by school and by student, the way the council intended. So, we'll keep working on that, and we'll keep working with the council. So, this is the time where the executive proposes a budget, the council holds hearings and weighs in on that budget. And, at the end of the day, we will have a balanced budget. It won't have everything that I want, probably, and it won't have everything that the council members want. But it will be balanced.

  • 12:20:35

    NNAMDIA Tweet from Kegan: please ask about bike lane delay and inaction, especially with this talk about Vision Zero being a priority in the city.

  • 12:20:43

    BOWSERAbsolutely. Vision Zero is a huge priority for us. And the transportation improvements that we advance in this budget are critical. First and foremost -- and I tell everybody -- I put at top of my Vision Zero strategy making sure we have a functioning public transportation system. We had over a $54 million increase in Metro, to the point of our budgets going up. Our Metro expenditure, just on the operating side, went up $54 million.

  • 12:21:14

    BOWSERWe've also made huge investment in our own transportation system, making DC circulator-free, adding a new DC circulator route to cover Ward 7. That gets more cars off the road, which is part of our Vision Zero strategy. We're making a huge investment in a very problematic intersection, the so-called Dave Thomas Circle. We're making a huge investment in transforming K Street, so it'll be more of a shared-use road and improve our east-west access across the city.

  • 12:21:48

    NNAMDIHere now is Leslie, in Columbia Heights. Leslie, your turn. Please make your question or comment brief.

  • 12:21:53

    LESLIEI will. Thank you. And thank you, Mayor Bowser, for coming on the show. I'm calling, I guess, to tie into your transportation discussion, I'm calling about the District's efforts to repair the roads, the potholes, and also the residential alleys in the District. I live adjacent to an alley that has been in terrible disrepair. Twenty other families live next to it. It's a mosquito lagoon in the summer, an ice pit in the winter. I realize it's been a very tough winter, and you guys are having an increased focus. I'd like to know if...

  • 12:22:25

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Your question, Leslie?

  • 12:22:27

    LESLIE...if you have a, increase in your budget for those repairs, and also how my alley can get on AlleyPalooza. It was on AlleyPalooza 6, but the work didn't get done. So, two questions.

  • 12:22:39

    BOWSEROh. Well, it should be, and I'm going to find out why something didn't get done. If it was promised in six, it should've been done in six. So, we will ask you, Leslie, to get in touch with my office by calling 311 and asking for the mayor's office. Yes, we do have increases for local road paving, as well as alleys. We've done over 500 alleys in four years through two sets of AlleyPaloozas each year. We actually think that that model is also going to help us remove poorly rated roadways with increased funds for residential streets. So, we have a long plan and charts that show how we get to zero poor roads in the city with our increased funds.

  • 12:23:26

    SHERWOODThis is the first time since Tony Williams did the big rebuild of the streets that you, our mayor, has taken an aggressive repaving of so many roads. Very briefly, on the bike -- before we go, I think that DPW testified this week that there are many more bike lanes, more to come, some protected, some not, but that they are now being used as parking lots by cars and trucks. DPW said, I think, there's going to be 20 new traffic control aids who are going to be hired specifically to patrol -- and the fine has gone up, too, to make sure people stop parking in bike lanes.

  • 12:24:03

    NNAMDIYou're going to have to hold your thought in response to that, because we now have to take another break in the broadcast. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:24:12

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation with Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia. Here's Tom Sherwood.

  • 12:24:17

    SHERWOODMayor, let's talk about the Board of Ethics and Accountability. It only exists because you, as a councilmember, created it in early, like, 2011 or 12. It's had some problems in its membership. It's down to, like, two members. You've nominated a couple of people, which Charles Allen on the council has rejected. But also has gotten criticism that it took for over a year for it to look at the former school chancellor, Antwan Wilson, and your former deputy mayor for education, about what they did or didn't do in terms of breaking the child placement laws in schools.

  • 12:24:51

    SHERWOODOverall, is BEGA working the way you want it to? It seems to me it's not -- well, let me just say, I don't think it's working the way it should, but you created it. What do you think needs to be done beyond the council approving your nominees?

  • 12:25:03

    NNAMDIThe Post says you need to work to strengthen the agency.

  • 12:25:06

    BOWSERWell, I think that the council, since I've been there, has made some changes to membership requirements. They may have done some other things, but I think that the BEGA has been very aggressive in training staff and finding wrongdoing and investigating it and issuing consequences. We sent down two qualified members to the council. The council decided not to give them a hearing or move them. We have another qualified -- same qualified candidate at the council now. We're looking forward to his hearing in moving them. And then we are vetting other candidates. We are seeking non-majority, non-Democratic members to add to the current members, as we speak.

  • 12:25:59

    NNAMDIWell, a report out this week from Public Citizen found that most of the money raised by DC elected officials for their constituent services funds are not being spent the way they are supposed to. Isn't that the kind of thing that BEGA should be looking at?

  • 12:26:12

    BOWSERWell, I don't -- I take issue with a lot that the Public Citizen writes. It's often not nonpartisan the way I think they should operate. I was...

  • 12:26:24

    NNAMDI(overlapping) But some of the funds are being used to include tickets to games, sporting events, advertising and...

  • 12:26:29

    BOWSERWell, the council allowed -- in the same set of legislation that Tom referred to when I created the BEGA, I also changed the legislation for constituent services funds. I reduced, first of all, the amount that could be spent in any given year, and I also put parameters around how the funds could be used. They didn't, at that time, include sports tickets. The council went back later and made sports tickets allowable. So, now I don't think...

  • 12:27:01

    NNAMDI(overlapping) I wonder why?

  • 12:27:02

    BOWSER...sports tickets should be used, but I would look at all of the other categories of supporting emergencies, educating constituents, having community-serving events, having a means of communicating with constituents about important issues as being appropriate for the constituent services fund.

  • 12:27:23

    SHERWOODI think -- very quickly on this, because I've paid attention to this a lot when it was raised from 40 to $60,000. The law is very broad. You can pretty much do anything in the name of constituent services. I'll just read this for ten seconds: any expenditure can be allowed for any activity service program which provides emergency, informational, charitable, scientific, educational, medical or recreational services to and for the primary benefit of residents. So, sports tickets comes under that. If you give somebody who can't afford to go, tickets to go to a game, that's a constituent service. So, the law needs to be changed if people want to limit what they can be used for, or as most people say, get rid of them at all.

  • 12:28:07

    NNAMDISpeaking of constituent funds, the actions of Councilmember Jack Evans -- including how he spent constituent funds -- have been scrutinized recently. He's been reprimanded for an ethics violation by a unanimous vote of his colleagues on the council. Do you feel that was a fair action, an overstep? Did the council go far enough?

  • 12:28:24

    BOWSERWell, certainly. I think that I've been disappointed by some of the things that I've heard, and I think the council did an appropriate thing in disciplining the councilmember. And I think that BEGA has a role, certainly. If the council didn't act, and any of the other investigative bodies that have been mentioned should be very focused on the work. Councilmember Evans has certainly done a lot for the city, and I am hopeful that he is cooperating so that this matter doesn't take up any more of our attention, but the attention of what needs to be done in the District at the near focus.

  • 12:29:00

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) I think the city administrator received a preserved documents subpoena from the US Attorney's office, asking your own administration, the government and the council members to preserve any documents dealing with all these issues alleging around Jack Evans. So, I presume you've been complying with the subpoena.

  • 12:29:03

    BOWSERWe absolutely will be cooperative.

  • 12:29:06

    NNAMDIHere is Ellen, on Capitol Hill. Ellen, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:29:10

    ELLENThank you. Good afternoon, Mayor Bowser.

  • 12:29:12

    BOWSERGood afternoon, Ellen.

  • 12:29:14

    ELLENI'm calling about the historic Eastern Market, which is currently managed by the city, unfortunately under the city's management -- which is, by the way, contrary to the Eastern Market statute. The market's failing. The merchants inside are having a very difficult time, and the people on the outside, the vendors. Will you work to support enforcing the Eastern Market law and ensuring Eastern Market survival? It's supposed to be managed by a private nonprofit, and not by the city.

  • 12:30:11

    BOWSERI will certainly reengage this conversation. I've mentioned it to your councilmember. I've also mentioned it to some other concerned folks in Ward 6. And it's been a couple of years since we have talked about the governance of Eastern Market. And I'm happy to reengage that conversation.

  • 12:30:32

    SHERWOODAnd there's more competition there, now that Trader Joe's is open next door.

  • 12:30:35

    BOWSERThere's absolutely more competition.

  • 12:30:37

    SHERWOODA lot more competition.

  • 12:30:38

    BOWSERWell, and that's a good point, that we all have to think about how -- and it's competition from Union Market, as well, and there's competition from farmers markets that are around the city. So, just like other retailers, it is appropriate to rethink how they're doing business, to make sure that they're capturing as many customers as they can.

  • 12:30:58

    NNAMDIBack to Vision Zero, in a way, here's Nana in Alexandria, Virginia. Nana, your turn.

  • 12:31:04

    NANAAll right. Thank you very much. Good afternoon, Mayor.

  • 12:31:07

    BOWSERGood afternoon.

  • 12:31:10

    NANAYes. I come to the city to do business, and this is the season that a lot of businesses come to the city, which is great. But my concern is pedestrian crosswalk at Vantage traffic light, where the light come on at the same time traffic is also given the signal to move. And sometimes, it turns out to be very unsafe for both drivers and pedestrians. There's one traffic light there at 12th and 5th Street Southwest, where the traffic light comes from only for pedestrians for crosswalk. No cars will be moving, and that's where pedestrians have all the time they need to crosswalk before traffic moves. And it's a very good technology...

  • 12:31:59

    BOWSEROkay.

  • 12:32:00

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Okay. Well, here's the mayor's response.

  • 12:32:02

    BOWSERI think that's a great idea, and we will continue to study places where those types of tools can be used. Similarly, there's some places that a bus might get the signal before oncoming -- for adjacent traffic, as well. So, those are some ways that we can get our buses moving and our people safe.

  • 12:32:28

    SHERWOODYeah, I've noticed around town, the pedestrian light comes on a few seconds, two or three seconds...

  • 12:32:32

    NNAMDI(overlapping) I like that.

  • 12:32:34

    SHERWOOD...before the traffic light turns for you to go. And it works out really well in Southwest, which, of course, is a very busy area where I live. I think it's worked out pretty well, although people still make illegal left turns all the time. Can I ask about immigrant health care?

  • 12:32:46

    NNAMDISure.

  • 12:32:47

    SHERWOODMayor, you have led the city in doing much more for immigrants who come to the city who may not be citizens, but we're allowing them to have access to Medicare -- Medicaid, excuse me. There is some concern -- Legal Aid Society, among others -- are concerned that in order to get healthcare, the immigrants have to recertify who they are twice a year, and that it creates a backlog and long lines at the Department of Human Resources, I think it is. And some people just end up not getting healthcare because, administratively, it's too difficult. And there was testimony this week that maybe you should go back to once a year authorizing Medicare services. Your thoughts?

  • 12:33:30

    BOWSERWell, certainly, our healthcare finance agency is working diligently on making sure that people have access to insurance. Unfortunately, we have seen the costs of that program just go through the roof. And we also look for ways to streamline our processes at DHS, our Department of Human Services. And so we will continue to look at ways to streamline it, because there is a pretty significant fiscal impact of changing the way we currently recertify.

  • 12:34:07

    NNAMDIScott emails: can you ask the mayor about the ongoing construction and repair of 295, and if there's any finish line to finally have this important transportation route for DC finally updated and paved?

  • 12:34:20

    BOWSERI don't know specifically the schedule on 295. There's a big project at the interchange with Malcolm X. And I think that is on schedule.

  • 12:34:31

    SHERWOODSports...

  • 12:34:33

    NNAMDIYou've got about 20 seconds.

  • 12:34:34

    SHERWOODTwenty seconds? Well, the question -- I'm not asking it, then. I want to ask about sports gambling and the money that will be used, but we'll address it another time.

  • 12:34:43

    NNAMDII'm afraid that's about all the time we have. Muriel Bowser is mayor of the District of Columbia. Thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:34:49

    BOWSERThank you, Kojo. Thank you.

  • 12:34:51

    NNAMDIThis week, Maryland governor Larry Hogan told a crowd of journalists, quoting here, "You may not always get it right, but you are not fake news." He also told them that they're not the enemy of the people, and that he respects their, quote, "noble profession." We've been trying to book the governor on our show for quite a while, since the start of his first campaign to become governor. So, in fact, this is your -- yet another invitation, Governor Hogan, to join us on the air. We are, indeed, not the enemy.

  • 12:35:19

    NNAMDIToday's Politics Hour was produced by Mark Gunnery. Coming up next week, I've got April Fool's Day plans. Let's just say if you're catching a ride share on Monday, watch out. And Monday on the show, we'll be discussing the services cliff, when people with intellectual and developmental disabilities turn 21 and age out of certain social service programs. What resources are available to help navigate that transition? That all starts Monday, at noon. What's up this weekend, Tom Sherwood?

  • 12:35:46

    SHERWOODOh, there's something. I've forgotten what it is. It's important, whatever it is.

  • 12:35:49

    NNAMDINo more baseball games?

  • 12:35:51

    SHERWOODOh, I'm going next Tuesday, when Bryce Harper returns to town Tuesday night. I want to see who boos and who cheers. I will be sitting quietly, watching.

  • 12:35:59

    NNAMDITom Sherwood will be booing. (laugh)

  • 12:36:01

    SHERWOODNo, I'm not booing. I don't like to boo.

  • 12:36:02

    NNAMDIThank you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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