Rent-control coalition wants changes in D.C. policies

WASHINGTON — As a rent control extension bill makes its way along the legislative process, tenants and rent control advocates have issued a call to the D.C. Council for tighter laws that prevent what they describe as the rampant tenant and building neglect that exacerbates displacement.

Some of the people leading this charge live in 220 Hamilton Street NW, a rent-controlled apartment that the D.C. Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs cited for more than 170 housing violations last year. When tenants attempted to purchase the building under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, their landlord filed bankruptcy and sold it to another party.

Rent-control protections allowed tenants to petition the new owner for substantial rehabilitation. Legal negotiations made it so that the more than 20 people temporarily leaving 220 Hamilton Street NW at the end of this year can come back to their newly furnished abode within 18 months and without incident.

However, to pay for the substantial repairs, rent will increase 10 percent. Landlords can also lease vacant units at market rate.

During a recent gathering on the lobby steps of 220 Hamilton Street NW, some tenants recounted the aforementioned events and alleged landlords’ abuse of current rent-control laws as a key factor in building vacancies and sales across the city.

“Simply reauthorizing rent control isn’t enough. It keeps us locked in the housing crisis,” said David Bonilla, a member of Reclaim Rent Control, a campaign centered on stronger protections for rent-control tenants and expansion of the rent-controlled housing stock.

His organization, comprising nonprofits, tenant unions and advocacy groups, has advocated for the city to change the process to hold landlords more accountable to building and financial management.

Since Sept. 17, D.C Council members have been reviewing the Rental Housing Act Extension Amendment Act, which is before the Committee of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.

Councilwoman Anita Bond leads the committee.

“It is a complex topic, but the council member, the staff of the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, and the committee members will review the details and work towards developing an approach that meets the needs of District residents in a responsible manner and satisfies the Council member’s ultimate goal of maintaining and expanding rent stabilization policies in the District,” Emmannuel Brantley, Bonds’ director of communications, wrote in an email.

— Washington Informer

Grant to help renovate Jim Crow-era rail car

SPENCER, N.C. — North Carolina has received a federal grant to renovate a 1920s rail car that was built to comply with the racist Jim Crow laws of the 20th century.

State officials said the National Park Service awarded a grant of more than $287,000 to renovate the railroad car, which is located at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer. The 44-seat coach hasn’t been used since 1969.

The car has 22 seats in the rear designated for African Americans so that it complied with segregation laws. It needs extensive renovation, including asbestos removal.

The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources says it’s one of few such cars held by a museum for public viewing. Another one is at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

— The Associated Press

Virginia parents sue school district over racist 2017 video

HENRICO, Va. — The parents of a student who say their son was assaulted and bullied by his middle school football teammates in an incident captured on video two years ago are suing the school system near Richmond.

The video, which showed football players simulating sex acts on Black students in a locker room and was overlaid with racist language, sparked outrage after it was shared on Snapchat. It led to the cancellation of the rest of Short Pump Middle School’s football season and a police investigation. No charges resulted.

Local media reported the complaint filed Thursday seeks $350,000. It alleges three Henrico County school officials failed to create a safe, nondiscriminatory and inclusive environment.

— The Associated Press

Congressman backs stronger overtime pay protections

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor last month issued a final ruling that set the minimum salary level for exempt employees at $684 a week, or $35,568 annually, regardless of an employee’s actual duties. The current $23,660-a-year threshold was implemented in 2004.

Employers are typically required to pay employees a minimum wage and overtime premium for those who work more than 40 hours in a week. However, the Federal Labor Standards Act exempts most white-collar employees including executives, , outside sales personnel, information tech workers from the requirements.

However, Congressman Mark Takano, D-Calif., said the new rule leaves millions of American workers behind.

“The final overtime rule is inadequate and fails to truly strengthen overtime pay protections for workers across the country,” he said. “By setting the overtime salary threshold far below the Obama-era rule, the Trump administration has ignored the current financial realities middle-class families are facing.”

Takano said it was both unjust and immoral for a worker to be on the job for 60 to 70 hours a week without being paid overtime.

“In today’s economy, workers simply cannot afford to be shortchanged,” he said.

Takano is supporting passage of the Restoring Overtime Pay Act that will strengthen protections for more workers and ensure that overtime hours are work reflected in paychecks.

— Black Voice News

Los Angeles airports gets new chief of police force

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles World Airports announced recently the selection of a new chief of airport police, former Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Cecil Rhambo.

Rhambo will replace and report to David L. Maggard, who was named deputy executive director for law enforcement and homeland security during the summer after three years in his previous post.

As chief of airport police, Rhambo will lead the nation’s largest dedicated airport law enforcement force, with more than 1,100 sworn and civilian personnel at Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports.

Rhambo retired in 2014 from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after 33 years of service. His background includes stints as city manager of Compton from 2017 to 2019 and assistant city manager of Carson from 2014 to 2017.

He received his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Humboldt State University and his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University.

— Los Angeles Sentinel

New Emmett Till marker replaces vandalized sign

GLENDORA, Miss. — A new bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was dedicated Saturday in Mississippi after previous historical markers were repeatedly vandalized.

The brutal slaying of the 14-year-old Black teenager helped spur the Civil Rights Movement more than 60 years ago.

The 14-year-old African American teen was kidnapped, beaten and killed in 1955, hours after he was accused of whistling at a white woman. His body was found in a river days later. An all-white jury in Mississippi acquitted two white men of murder charges.

Saturday’s event was the fourth historical marker at the site since 2008. Previous ones became a target for vandals.

The new 500-pound steel sign has a glass bulletproof front, said Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission.

— The Associated Press

S.C. man paralyzed in police shooting settles lawsuit

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A man left paralyzed by a deputy’s bullet after he was mistaken for a burglar has settled his lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

The Post and Courier newspaper reported Friday the case against the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office was settled for $750,000.

Bryant Heyward was rendered a quadriplegic from the 2015 shooting. He was at home when armed burglars came to his home. He grabbed a gun and after a shootout called 911 as he hid in the laundry room. An arriving deputy shot Heyward.

The deputy wrote in his report that he saw a door open and a “black male appeared and pointed a handgun.” The newspaper reported that as Heyward was shot, he yelled, “Wrong guy, sir. This is my house.”

— The Associated Press

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