D.C. Council member David Grosso recently convened a public meeting on the policies of the Trump administration and how should the city respond to them.
Grosso, who is an independent at-large council member, held the meeting at the Columbia Heights Education Campus on July 10 with an audience of 50 people. Grosso said the city political leadership is committed to preventing the Trump agenda from harming the city’s education, health and resource systems. He said he wants to hear from people.
“This is an opportunity to directly address the leadership of the city,” Grosso said. “We have begun to prepare what could happen and what will happen with this administration.”
In the 2016 presidential election, Trump did poorly in the District, getting only 4.07 percent of the vote while Democrat Hillary Clinton had 90.48 percent. Even in the District’s Republican caucus on March 16, 2016, Trump came in third to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) but got no convention delegates at that time.
Grosso said he, his council colleagues and other city leaders are committed to keeping D.C.’s values.
“Everyone has a right to freedom, education and quality health care,” he said.
Grosso said he is concerned with the direction of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in her support of charter schools, vouchers for private schools and undermining the nation’s public school system. He also expressed concerns about the Trump administration’s cavalier attitude toward cleaning up the Anacostia River and it’s gutting of the National Endowment of the Arts that finances cultural, artistic and humanities projects in the city.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and the council has taken issue with the president by standing by deciding to remain a sanctuary city for undocumented workers and residents, openly opposing the president’s budget that was submitted in May that cuts drastically programs that benefit residents and refusing to cooperate with the Voter Fraud Commission.
Residents lined up at the microphone to address Grosso, with a television crew from the city’s cable channel to record the event. Shana Bartley is the acting executive director for the DC Action for Children, an advocacy organization and she is worried about programs affecting the District’s young people.
“I am concerned about Medicaid,” she said. “Seventy percent of children rely on Medicaid and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] for coverage. CHIP is up for re-authorization by the Congress and I am concerned about what they are going to do.
“I am concerned about what health care is going to look like in D.C. The threats are huge and the implications are serious and real.”
Grosso agreed with Bartley, saying that Trump has proposed cutting Medicaid by $800 billion over the next 10 years and mentioned that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is getting a $6 billion slash.
“We will stand up for the city and its residents on these cuts and do what we need to do for the city,” the council member said.
Kevin Petty, a resident of Ward 8, journeyed across the Anacostia River to attend the meeting. Petty expressed his apprehension about the growing economic inequality in the city.
“Washington, D.C. needs to have shared prosperity,” Petty said. “That prosperity is not reaching Ward 7 and 8. The city now has abundance but that abundance is not reaching Ward 7 and 8.
“We know the next frontier of development is in Wards 7 and 8 but that development hasn’t come yet.”
Grosso agreed with Petty and said that cuts in programs such as Community Development Block Grants and social services want help communities east of the Anacostia River develop properly.
Some residents, however, didn’t think the White House should bare all the blame for the city’s problems.
“I don’t want to wait for the Trump administration to solve the city’s problems,” Marie Drissel, a Ward 2 civic and political activist, said. “There needs to be a serious audit of D.C. public schools.”
Drissel expressed frustration that the Columbia Heights Education Campus isn’t getting the funds that it has been promised by city leaders and said that the University of the District of Columbia should be more involved in the city’s school system.