Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Take Action: Save the DC Office of APIA Affairs

Dear DC AAPI Caucus,

If you have not heard already, we have incredibly disappointing news regarding the DC Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA). In Mayor Fenty’s 2010 budget proposal, the office will be eliminated completely with the budget zeroed out. The office’s services will be transferred within the Office of Community Affairs and at least 60% of the current OAPIA staff will be eliminated.

It is outrageous that the Mayor would decide to eliminate OAPIA, which has been in existence for over 20 years, currently serving over 20,000 API residents in the District. This office was implemented due to the needs of the DC API community over the past two decades and many API leaders fought hard to create and sustain this office. In addition, this is the only ethnic minority office that the Mayor has decided to cut.

This issue is now in the hands of the City Council. The budget hearing is set for April 24th. We are asking everyone to contact their City Council members and asking them to:

* Reinstate the Office of Asian Pacific Islander Affairs and maintain the office as an independent agency with its own budget chapter and cabinet-level position within the Mayor’s Office; and
* Maintain the office as the District’s point of contact for the API community.

Currently, other API leaders in DC have been working hard to meet with Councilmembers and reaching out to key people (other constituency organizations, national leaders, Commission on API Affairs, and the DC Democratic State Committee). We will circulate sample petition letters and postcards ASAP.

Here's exactly what you can do:

We only have a few weeks to get the word out, so if you have any other ideas, please let us know. Mayor Fenty explained in the council hearing that he’s eliminating OAPIA, but not the Office of Latino Affairs or other offices such as African Affairs and LGBT because they have a “different” function. While we do not understand what he meant by this, we do not want to give the impression that the Asian community will not put up a fight to ensure equal footing with the other offices. Let’s make sure our voices are heard and our community is served, and we prevent this from happening!

We will keep you posted as things develop. Please contact Wylie at dcaapidems@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to help.

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