The following were among actions taken at the Nov. 10 meeting of the D.C. Council.
HOMELESS SHELTER REFORM -- The council gave preliminary approval to a measure that would require the city to buy, lease or build housing to provide emergency shelter for the homeless.
The measure was introduced by H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), a longtime critic of the District's handling of its growing homeless population. In particular, Crawford has blasted the Department of Human Services's use of costly motel space for temporary housing.
The new law would require the executive branch to build, lease or buy as many buildings as needed to provide shelter for homeless families with children under age 18. To move into the unit, the head of the family would have to sign a contract agreeing to city rules and terms for the family's stay.
The city could deny housing to the family if any adult member refused to comply with the housing contract or had been evicted from housing within the previous year because he or she wouldn't accept a job.
Families able to pay will be charged up to 30 percent of monthly income. The money will be placed in an escrow account and eventually used to secure permanent housing for that family.
The law would prohibit the city from using more motel space than it is using now by stipulating that all units leased or built by the city be "apartment-style housing" with separate kitchens and private bathrooms.
CONVENTION CENTER -- The council voted 7 to 6 to override the five-year, $15 million concessionare contract granted to Service America Corp. by the board of the D.C. Convention Center.
The rejection was urged by Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), chairwoman of the Committee on Housing and Economic Development, who said the committee had "grave concerns about the way this contract was let" and charged the board had failed to make public disclosures of its proceedings. Committee member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) noted also that the committee had serious doubts about Service America Corp.'s financial stability.
The contract now will be open for new bids.
SUBPOENA POWER DEFEATED -- In the most bitter debate of an often testy meeting, the council refused to act on emergency legislation that would have given the power to subpoena city documents to auditor Otis Troupe, a council appointee.
The measure was introduced by at-large member Carol Schwartz, the council's lone Republican and a vociferous critic of the executive branch.
Schwartz justified the use of the emergency legislation by saying that the Committee of the Whole, chaired by Clarke, has not acted on a similar bill she introduced in June.
Clarke said that he opposes giving such power to Troupe and believes the council should use its own subpoena power more often.
But Schwartz was skeptical.
"We sit here impotent, and impotent by choice," she said. She added that the council, instead, is letting the Congress and the U.S. Attorney's office take charge of investigating wrongdoing.
She said that the council was abdicating its oversight role and continuing "to play footsie with the executive branch of the government."