- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2016

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser offered few measurable achievements Monday in her first annual Accountability Report, in which she claimed success in fulfilling most of her transition agenda items during her first year in office.

Of the report’s 131 items, only five are listed as “Not Done.” The report lists 121 items as “Done,” “Launched” or “To Launch,” referring to a mayor-backed initiative that is set to be implemented at a future date.

Some of the “Done” items include things as simple as retaining Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and public schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

But many of the “Launched” items identify less tangible goals. For example, Ms. Bowser’s public safety plan — “A Safer, Stronger DC” — is listed as “Launched,” with an asterisk noting that it is “awaiting legislation action.”

The bill has caused some friction between the mayor and D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Last week Ms. Bowser criticized the council for failing to act on the crime legislation, saying it had been 131 days since she proposed the plan to combat violent crime and that city lawmakers had “failed to act on this vital legislation.”

That indictment came just days after the Metropolitan Police Department announced that homicides in the District in 2015 had surged by 54 percent over the 2014 level, with more than 160 people killed in the nation’s capital.

Mr. McDuffie shot back, saying the mayor’s office and the police department have failed to provide information about Ms. Bowser’s proposal that his panel has long sought. He said he wants to see data that support Ms. Bowser’s call for stiffer sentences for crimes committed on buses, on subway trains and in city parks as a deterrent to crime — information that has been promised but never delivered.

Mr. McDuffie has said that he has crafted his own legislation, which will add preventive measures to Ms. Bowser’s proposal, such as an approach that focuses on how city health workers can play a part in fighting violent crime.

Another “Launched” initiative that has proven to be controversial is a plan to raise traffic fines as a way to eliminate transportation-related deaths in the District by 2024. That particular provision is part of a larger plan called “Vision Zero,” and includes a proposed fine of $1,000 for motorists traveling 25 mph over the posted speed limit. The current fine for the speeding offense is $300.

Ms. Bowser’s original administration goal was to keep using speed cameras deployed in “a manner that is supportable by data showing a reduction in driver speed and an increase in pedestrian, bicyclist and motor safety.” At some point that goal morphed into the larger “Vision Zero” plan.

Though the mayor does not need council approval to move on her plan to raise traffic fines, Council member Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat and chair of the Transportation Committee, has questioned Ms. Bowser’s plan and whether there was any proof increased fines would create safer roadways. In a committee hearing last week, Leif A. Dormsjo, director of the District Department of Transportation, said that there’s no conclusive research that shows higher fines reduce speeding or transportation-related deaths caused by speeding.

Ms. Bowser apparently has backed off support for the high fines, as Mr. Dormsjo said that the mayor has concerns about issuing $1,000 speeding ticket and that DDOT isn’t digging in on that provision.

The report notes nine goals as “Done” and five as “Reconsidered,” meaning that the Bowser administration has rethought an initiative and has elected to take a different action.

Of the “Not Done” goals, two are related to affordable housing — one that would improve the District’s affordable housing website to allow residents access to information on all affordable housing in the city, and another that would have increased expanded eligibility for grants designed to help low-income residents refurbish their homes or make them accessible for seniors.

The report says Ms. Bowser also failed to take action on a plan that would have created a Healthcare Employment Opportunity Council to advise the mayor on strategies to help hospitals and health care providers meet the growing needs of city residents.

• Ryan M. McDermott can be reached at rmcdermott@washingtontimes.com.

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