The Fix Is In
Yesterday the City Council passed the FY2000 budget that includes the tax
cut agreement it arrived at with the Mayor and the Control Board. It should have been a
good, proud day politicians had successfully accomplished what politicians do,
which is to arrive at an unsatisfactory, jerry-rigged compromise that satisfies no one,
but that is workable. That's good work. But the Council's process was as bad as ever. The
Council meeting, scheduled for 10:00 a.m., didn't begin until 2:15 p.m. The public and the
press were kept waiting for over four hours, without explanation, while the Council
members held a secret, private meeting outside of public scrutiny and illegal under
the sunshine law in order to hammer out the final agreements among themselves.
The tax debate has frequently relied on the report of and the research
done for the Tax Revision Commission. That Commission's web site is scheduled to be taken
off line this summer, so the report and all the research papers are now available on the
DCWatch web site at http://www.dcwatch.com/taxrev
, where you can refer to them if you are real gluttons for punishment.
We've neglected the news near home for the past few issues. What's going
on in your neck of the woods, and what is a wood's neck, anyway?
Tax Cuts Don't Add Up
Steph Figures don't lie, but..., email@example.com
One thing editors learn fast always check the numbers. And the new
tax cut numbers just don't add up. The current top tax rate is 9.5%, right? The new tax
rate is 8.5%, right? That's a difference of 1%, right? In the projected
savings table of today's Post, this 1% miraculously swells to 2.5 percent
for the $30,000 earners, 2.4 percent for $50,000, 1.9% for $75,000, and 1.7% for the
$100,000 households. Is this the result of that new math I learned at Alice
Deal, back in the '60s?
In any case, what we really need is a cost of living cut, not a tax cut.
As an ironic coincidence, the tax story is next to Courtland Milloy's tale of petty theft
in the big city. Crime imposes a huge tax on D.C. residents, in the form of
higher insurance premiums, added costs for alarms and locks, and of course replacement of
the lost goods. In D.C. poor schools tax parents with private school tuition
costs, bad roads tax drivers with increased repair costs, and so forth. But
fixing those things is hard. Cutting taxes is easy. My own windfall should just about
cover the cost of a new security door.
Tax Cut? Efficient Spending? Who Knows?
Harold Goldstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
People asked: Why does the DC government need a 9.5% marginal tax
rate .. to function? and Look at what DC spends and what DC does and clearly,
things are very wrong. Very intelligent questions, WHICH NOBODY IS ANSWERING! not
the Mayor, not the City Council, not the reporters for our towns great
newspapers and, finally, not the pundits who offer opinion in this venue. I
don't pretend to know the answers to these questions and neither should anyone else here
since they are not obvious and they DO need answering before we can intelligently decide
on the issues presented. Has anyone recently brought up the tax revenue lost from federal
properties? Are we getting a bargain in terms of what the feds provide in exchange or not?
DC spending? Has anyone done a recent, thorough study of DC services in view of the city
serving as city, county and state? How can anyone here sit back and pretend to know all
the answers until this happens?
And with self righteous and relatively incompetent city councilmen (after
all, city councils are traditionally the reserve of politician wanna-bes who can't make it
in the real political world and so play they play politician in hackland) it is unlikely
that we will ever have any of the answers.
Tax Reform, Lower Taxes Yes! D.C. Council Plan NO!
Danilo Pelletiere, email@example.com
I think what many of the commentators in the last themail failed to
appreciate is there are tax cuts and then there are tax cuts. Few people from the Mayor,
to Council members Mendelson, Graham, Cropp and Jarvis, to Evans, Catania, and their
posse to the rest of us, would say that the city's resident's don't deserve
some tax relief. Still fewer would say that a tax cut is not an apt symbolic and
significant gesture to signal the recent changes in the District and the city's commitment
to change the way it does business. And while a tax cut may not attract droves of new
businesses, a tax cut alone will certainly not drive them away.
That said, the Catania-Evans plan as originally proposed was down-right
silly. We have had so many studies of the tax and revenue system in this city, Evans and
Catania (or one of the non lawyer council members who should know better) should have
understood this. Jack read faster Evans should have been able to quickly
digest the recommendations of the Tax Revision Commission, the Brookings Institution, the
Rivlin Commission etc. and come up with an aggressive and plausible tax cutting scheme,
that lowered annoying and economically stifling taxes, broadened the base, and introduced
an element of progressivity to D.C.'s tax code. In other words, what this city needs is
tax REFORM so that its tax code is ready to meet the challenges of the next decade, is
able to address the problems that have arisen since it last was revised, and is able to
take advantage of the many opportunities that now are appearing. Mendelson, Jarvis, and
Williams all have a piece of the puzzle and I am glad that Evans and Catania appear to
have started listening. When we get tax reform and not just cuts, only then will it truly
be a new day in the District and only then will the Council have provided the leadership
they should have all along. This debate shouldn't be about services vs. tax cuts and
shouldn't be laced with reactionary rhetoric, it should be about achieving real reform.
I don't know if it's good public policy to cut DC taxes. I'm inclined to
think that, in prosperous times, it makes more sense to save money and reduce debt, and
plan to cut taxes in hard times to stimulate the economy. But I do know it's an
exceedingly silly argument not even an argument, really, just a catch phrase
to say It's our money. So what? It's all our money: private
investment and private consumption, prisons and police, Social Security and pension plans,
defense and Food Stamps. The question is what we get for our money. In some
areas, collective spending works better than individual spending to get what all of us
want. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, I pay my taxes and I buy
When Rats Grow Furry Tails...
Mark Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org
YES! Our Mayor and Council worked together and found a middle position on
tax reform it's good to have a diversity of viewpoints in these bodies, it means
clearer thinking and a better end product. To top this, the big dying elm out my window
seems to be taking well to tree therapy (leaves are green this year) and was just wrapped
in yellow (plastic) ribbon with a sign: No parking tree work. Looks like DC
government is going to trim the big dead branches off. Maybe it's the fragrance that is
blowing off those trees with purple flowers along Rock Creek, but even the air seems
fresher. I'll know it's all a hallucination if the rats start growing furry tails and
A Mere $21 Million
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
The Mayor has said he wants to help the kids in the District. The best way
he can do that is to do what Mayor Daly of Chicago has done, take charge of the the failed
DCPS. Since taking over the schools in Chicago, they have dramatically improved their
attendance rate, graduation rate, and the numbers of students who are passing the
mandatory standardized tests. Mayor Daly supports choice, Charter Schools, and vouchers.
In the DCPS, meanwhile, the District schools administration has passed on nearly $21
Million in Federal grants. Why?? Beacuse they claim they had no staff to apply for those
grants or staff to implement the grants. This whole sorry mess is in gory detail in the
GAO report GAO/HEHS-99-1. The 35 page report can be accessed via the GAO Web Page at http://www.gao.gov
This is merely a symptom of the sorry state of affairs in the DCPS. Let's
look for the root problem here. In Nov. '96 the Control Board took away the powers from
the elected School Board and installed the nine member Board of Trustees. The Courts later
ruled that that Board was improperly delegated powers. The result: the superintendent,
Arlene Ackerman, was assigned the sole responsibility for managing the schools. Ms.
Ackerman is in way over her head and we have no oversight from the elected School Board
since their powers have been taken away. It is timely for the Mayor to take charge here
and to do what Mayor Daley has done in making the urban Chicago schools more competitive.
The Mayor of Chicago has the power to hire and fire school principals and even tenured
teachers. By doing so, the three year results clearly show that Chicago is doing a better
educational job each year with their students.
Philip Blair, Jr. (Ward 5), Pblair@worldbank.org
Peter Luger's posting (9 May) is yet more evidence of the complete
melt-down in special education in D.C. Public Schools. Unless she gets hopping, Special
Education will be for Arlene Ackerman what the three-week delay in opening the schools was
for Facilities czar General Williams, and what the $60-odd million budget surprise was for
General Becton. That is, a one-way ticket out of town. Like the generals, she is playing
chicken with federal judges and like the generals she seems to think that time and the
tides will just have to wait for her until she is good and ready to do the obviously
But there is a larger lesson to be learned here. In the nearly three years
since the Control Board and the Emergency Trustees took over, the special education crisis
has been steadily growing. The Control Board and the Trustees have made a fetish out of
management from 50,000 feet. They brag about the way they don't "interfere"; in
fact they don't really supervise at all. The Post and the Washington Times
have railed against micro management, and the result is no management. If it
hadn't been for Kevin Chavous taking a hand in the special education transportation
crisis, there would have been no progress at all: it's amazing what a little micro
management can accomplish. I am one of many parents who will be happy to see the end of
Congress's experiment in putting the schools under the Control Board and Trustees, who
have demonstrated the failure of three monkeys management (see no evil, hear no evil,
speak no evil).
I have the same concern as Frank Pruss: it seems to take DC a long time to
cash tax checks. Sure, many are received at the same time but one would think it would be
cost-efficient to work overtime to cash them...maybe in these flush times the city doesn't
need the money so fast?
In Sunday's issue I saw yet another posting telling readers to check out
one of NARPAC's latest proposals for the revitalization of our nation's capital. What I
want to know is, what is an organization based in CHEVY CHASE, MARYLAND, doing telling us
how to run our city and to reform our government? It seems to me that NARPAC is yet
another critic that is perfectly happy to sit outside of city lines, take pot shots at us,
and keep its tax dollars in Maryland. Any organization dedicated to the redevelopment and
revitalization of the District of Columbia should be located IN the District. Only then
does it become a partner in our effort to bring Washington back. Until then, it's just
another critic, like the Congress that sits on Capitol Hill and interferes with our daily
lives! Talk, as the old adage goes, is cheap. NARPAC is not where it is needed most
in DC neighborhoods.
Chevy Chase Citizens Association
Evelyn Mittman Wrin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congressional Representation for D.C. Citizens will be the
subject of a presentation by American University Law Professor Jamin Raskin at the annual
meeting of Chevy Chase Citizens Association. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 18,
1999, at 7:30 p.m. Because of on-going construction and renovation at the Chevy Chase
Community Center, this meeting will be held in Chadsey Hall at the Chevy Chase
Presbyterian Church. The Church is on the east side of Chevy Chase Circle, between Oliver
and Paterson Streets. Councilmember Kathy Patterson will also be at the meeting and will
present a 90th anniversary resolution in recognition of the 90th year since the
establishment of Chevy Chase Citizens Association in 1909. For further information,
contact Evelyn Wrin by telephone at 202.244.5744 or by e-mail at email@example.com .
Saturday, May 15, Sidewalk Sale
Ann Carper, DFCushing@aol.com
DC Strokes Rowing Club is holding a sidewalk sale this Saturday, May 15,
from 10 am to 3 pm at 1880 Columbia Road NW. (It's a fundraiser for us and part of a
larger Kalorama/Adams-Morgan neighborhood sale that day.) Good assortment of books,
clothes, housewares, odds and ends, knick-knacks, gimcracks, and bibelots!
The Shepherd Park Yard Sale on June 5 will be held at each participant's
home, so there will be no need to bring all your things to a central sales point. We are
trying to keep the sale as convenient as possible for the participants in order to
encourage as many neighbors as possible to join in.
We will prepare maps to hand out to customers identifying every address
with a participant. Each participant will be furnished with a balloon as a visual cue to
customers. We will handle all the publicity (newspapers and signing along the
thoroughfares). You keep all the money you make. All we ask is that you pay annual
Shepherd Park dues of $15. But that is purely at your discretion. You may participate in
the yard sale with no obligation at all to Shepherd Park Citizens Association. Please call
Gracie Baten at 882-6162 to sign up for the sale. Leave a voice mail if she does not
answer. Please encourage neighbors to participate and give them Gracie's number as well!
If you know of anyone who wants to help with the organization of the sale even if they
won't be selling themselves, have them call Gracie. We need volunteers to lighten the
The Foundry Players Present Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Chad Eric Hickerson, Chadster@aol.com
The Foundry Players, Washington's longest running community theater, are
proud to present the wildly entertaining, toe tapping, sing-a-long salute to 1970's
Saturday morning television Schoolhouse Rock Live! The show's story features a
nervous teacher, preparing for the first day of school, who manages to draw the
Schoolhouse Rock characters out of the television set. The newly freed characters respond
by presenting the greatest hits of the beloved animated musical that has run
on ABC for over 25 years, including such classics as Conjunction Junction, I'm Just a
Bill, Elbow Room, Three is a Magic Number and Interplanet Janet. The Players are located
at the corner of 16th and P Streets, NW, three blocks east of the Dupont South exit of the
Dupont Circle Metro.
Performances of Schoolhouse Rock Live! run each weekend from May 7 - May
23, Friday and Saturday evenings, at 8 pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm.
Tickets are $12/person with discounts available for seniors, children and groups of 10 or
more. For more information please see our web site at http://www.NBRconsulting.com/foundry or
The Society of Young Jewish Professionals
Sunday May 16, the Lox Trot at the Shark Club located at 4915 St. Elmo
Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Doors open at 8 pm. For directions call 301-718-4030. The party will
feature dancing, hors d'oeuvres, pool, outdoor seating, hundreds of Jewish singles, for
ages 21-49. Order two dinner entrees and get a free bottle of wine. Cost of the party is
$10 before 10 pm and $15 after 10 pm so get there early! Any questions or comments contact
us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 202-452-5541. Please
visit our web page at http://www.syjp.com
A Dazzling Comedy by A Star
David Sobelsohn, email@example.com
Footlights DC's only drama discussion group meets monthly to
discuss plays from the modern theater. Membership is free; we pass the hat to make
expenses. At our meeting Tuesday, May 18, we will discuss a dazzling comedy (Vogue):
The Cripple of Inishmaan (1996), by Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. In
1934, residents of a remote Irish village learn a Hollywood director will soon film on a
nearby island. Everyone wants to audition, especially Cripple Billy, an unloved boy who
spends his time gazing at cows. Indescribably funny (Philadelphia Inquirer),
with a heartbreaking tenderness and a shy warmth (Wall Street Journal),
Cripple of Inishmaan confirms McDonagh as a star writer (The
London Sunday Times), destined to be one of the theatrical luminaries of the
twenty-first century (The New Republic). Our discussion takes place
7:30-9:30 p.m. (dinner at 6:30) at Delray Vietnamese Garden, 4918 Del Ray Ave., a few
blocks N of the Bethesda metro. It will feature Dr. Christina Hunt Mahony, associate
director of Catholic University's Irish Studies Program. For reservations E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 638-0444. For general
information about Footlights visit our web site at
The Women's Aquatic Network and The Cousteau Society invite you to attend
a Coral Reef Panel on May 18 at 2105 Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill.
Wine/beer reception 6:30, Panel begins at 7:00. Speakers:: Phil Dustan (The Cousteau
Society), Marea Hatziolis (World Bank), Lauretta Burke (World Resources Institute).
Moderator, Sally Yozell (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); Invited
Remarks: Congressman Saxton. A discussion on the issues affecting coral reefs in the
United States and throughout the world.
Dr. Phillip Dustan is a Professor of Biology at the University of
Charleston, SC. He is a coral reef ecologist specializing in the ecology, photophysiology,
and vitality of corals and coral reef communities. Much of his work has centered on
detecting change in the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. He is the principal investigator
on the USEPA Florida Keys Coral Reef/Hardbottom Monitoring Project and Science Advisor for
the Cousteau Society. For more information check out http://www.cofc.edu/~coral
. Marea Hatziolos is a senior coastal and marine resources specialist in the Environment
Department of the World Bank and has a background in tropical marine ecology and ethology.
Since 1994 she has been at the World Bank, helping to build a program in Integrated
Coastal Zone Management and Marine Biodiversity Conservation valued at several hundred
million dollars. Ms. Hatziolis is currently leading preparation of GEF financed regional
project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
This project aims to protect the world's second longest Barrier Reef, and to bring
benefits from its rational use to the four countries which border it, Mexico, Belize,
Guatemala and Honduras. She also serves as the Bank's representative to the International
Coral Reef Initiative. Lauretta Burke is a Senior Associate in the Information Program of
the World Resources Institute. She is an author of Reefs at Risk: A Map-Based
Indicator of the Threats to the World's Coral Reefs. Over the last several years her
work has focused on the development of global and regional map based indicators of
environmental condition and stresses on the environment, including watershed based
estimates of sedimentation and a global indicator of threats to coral reefs. Prior to
joining WRI, Ms. Burke implemented a Global Information System (GIS) in Guyana to support
urban infrastructure rehabilitation planning and performed analysis on the impact of
potential climate change on fisheries, wetlands, and biological diversity for U.S. EPA's
Global Climate Change Program. For more information on "Reefs at Risk", check
Directions: Located on Independence Avenue, Rayburn Building is on the
House side of the Capital and is accessible from Capital South Metro (Orange and Blue
Lines) and Union Station (Red Line). Parking in the area is limited but available on side
streets off of Independence Avenue. The panel will be presented in ROOM 2105.
Cleaning Person Available
Paul Penniman, email@example.com
My cleaning person just got laid off from her day job by some bad guys.
She is good and reasonably priced. Call her, Ruth, at 301-942-4934, or email me for more
info. She will be unavailable during July and August.
ISO Studio/1BR Apartment in Kalorama
Amy Hardison, firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm looking for a studio or one bedroom apartment on Biltmore St. in the
Kalorama area, either in a townhouse or a small apartment building, with central air and
heat, a security system or 24 hour desk, hardwood floors, and good size closets. I can pay
up to $700/month plus utilities and I am looking to move in August or September. Please
send responses to email@example.com .
Apartment for Rent
Courtney Cuff, firstname.lastname@example.org
1923 Kenyon Street, NW, 1 BR basement apartment, $600/mo includes
utilities. Apartment includes living room area, separate bedroom with large closet,
kitchen area and bathroom with shower (no tub). Located just across the park from the
Cleveland Park Metro station (red line) which is accessible by bus. Close to several other
bus lines. For more information, please contact Jessie Jenkins at (202) 879-4286.
Edna Small, Erklein@aol.com
For June and July efficiency apartment in Glover park, between
Georgetown and American Universities. Separate entrance. $600/month. Or can be rented on a
year's lease for $575.00 month. Includes utilities. Call 202-337-4906; 202-328-1083.
CLASSIFIEDS FURNITURE AND MORE
I am looking for a good quality, traditional, executive desk, preferably
dark oak, walnut, mahogany. Prefer 76" x 36" with ample drawers. Delivery to
downtown D.C. a plus. Please email description, asking price, and phone number to email@example.com or phone Nick Cobbs, at 202-452-8222
Wooden window shutters, 2 sets, 28x291/2 and 32x291/2; single box spring
and mattress, $45.00; child's riding helmet, $18.00; 3 Japanese dolls, $25.00 each,
3/$60.00. Call 202-337-4906; 202-328-1083.
CLASSIFIEDS CITY PAPER PREVIEW
Dave Nuttycombe, firstname.lastname@example.org
From washingtoncitypaper.com's LOOSE LIPS column, appearing this Friday:
PULLING UP THE GRASSROOTS: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A Chair Daniel Pernell carved
out a new boundary for grass-roots political rhetoric at a meeting last week: I gave
up my sex life...for the ANC, said Pernell to a packed audience at St. James
Episcopal Church on 8th Street NE. Pernell had a good reason to play up the sacrifice
theme: He was facing removal as chair by fellow commissioners opposed to his leadership
style. Pernell's opponents had begun circulating a resolution calling for his ouster
following revelations that the chair had solicited a $20 contribution from Ethel Harper,
an H Street restaurateur with business before ANC 6A.
Pernell deposited the contribution into his own checking account an ANC rules
violation that prompted an investigation by D.C.'s Inspector General.
The referendum on Pernell's tenure turned into a big political event drawing such
luminaries as At-Large Councilmember Harold Brazil, renowned flake Faith, and community
types Sally Byington and John Capozzi. Pernell himself justified the cost of admission,
employing stall tactics that could slow down only a deliberative body as lame as the ANC.
With each utterance, Pernell sank the city's' 23-year experience with neighborhood
democracy into further disrepute.
Read the entire Loose Lips column this Friday at: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/lips.html
From washingtoncitypaper.com's CITY LIGHTS page, here are a few early
warnings for upcoming events:
Saturday, May 15: Armenian Festival, includes craft exhibits, performances by Armenian
folk dancers, musicians, and singers, and tasty Armenian foods. From noon to 6 p.m. at
Market Square, 301 King St., Alexandria. Free.
Tuesday, May 18: Linda Lyons, co-chair of the preservation committee of the Art Deco
Society of Washington, gives a slide lecture about the carved stone, pressed metal, and
polychrome mosaics of such landmarks as the Kennedy Warren apartment building, the Uptown
Theater, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice plus a few
more obscure storefronts and assorted bijoux. At 6:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Memorial
Library, in Room A-5, 901 G St. NW. Free.
More details and more critics' picks are available online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/pix/pix.html
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