The Mayor Knew Everything from the Start
Dear Government Watchers:
In the Watergate scandal, Sen. Howard Baker asked the famous big
questions, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”
The Inspector General's report on Mayor Williams's fundraising scandal
gives enough information to answer both of these questions confidently:
the Mayor knew everything about the schemes, and he knew it as it
happened. The public wasn't supposed to know this. The Inspector General
released to the public only a heavily censored and scrubbed version of
the executive summary of the report (at http://www.dcig.org/reportsframe.html).
This version gives the Mayor every benefit of the doubt in every
respect, implying that the evidence is contradictory and inconclusive.
It ignores the preponderance of the evidence developed in the full
report, and in doing so it becomes the latest link in a long chain of
But the private version of the report, which the IG didn't want the
public to see, is also now available online (at http://www.DCWatch.com/govern/ig020328.htm),
and the public can judge at least some of the evidence for itself. Was
the Mayor really ignorant of many major activities undertaken by his
chief aides, or was he regularly briefed on them? Several workers in the
EOM witnessed the briefings, and only the Mayor and Dr. Abdusalam Omer
claim they were never told. Were the events funded by the schemes
intended to benefit the public? Only Mayor Williams claims they were,
but in fact only politically influential or wealthy people and the
Mayor's own staff, were invited to most of the events. Were there cases
in which the fundraising amounted to quid pro quo payoffs? The report
claims not, but presents overwhelming evidence that the Church
Association for Community Service let itself be used as a conduit for
underground fundraising in exchange for the Mayor's assistance in
getting a HUD contract. Most importantly, the report demonstrates case
after case in which the Mayor's office raised money in ways that
circumvented public reporting, keeping the amounts raised and the donors
hidden from the public. The IG tries to characterize this as an
unfortunate byproduct of the fundraising methods used, but the massive
evidence presented in numerous cases proves just the opposite —
deceiving the public and keeping us in the dark was the very purpose
It is time for Mayor Williams and all citizens to review “The
Williams Pledge,” signed by then-candidate for Mayor Anthony Williams
on October 19, 1998, in which he said, “The government of the District
of Columbia will become a model of integrity, accountability, openness,
and the availability of information. Government officials are public
servants, doing the public's business. That business should be done
honestly, fairly, in public, and all our actions and decisions should be
open to public scrutiny” (http://www.DCWatch.com/archives/election98/williams-56.htm).
Those were welcome words then; it's a shame that they were nothing but
Gary Imhoff, email@example.com
Dorothy Brizill, firstname.lastname@example.org
OTR Assessment Response
Herbert Huff, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Herbert.Huff@dc.gov
In response to recent E-mails on OTR's Real Property Assessment for
FY 2003, I want to share the following: the most recent FY 2003 real
property assessment indicates large increases in some neighborhoods.
This is because real property in the District of Columbia is in one of
the strongest real estate markets in more than a decade. Some property
owners and elected officials have expressed concern regarding these
increases and the assessment process. Most importantly, property owners
are concerned about the potential increase in property tax.
The property tax, however, is a product of the real property
assessment and the real property tax rate. The requirement of the
Constitution and DC law is for the assessor to appraise real property
uniformly at market value. The law also requires elected government
officials to set the property tax rate and maintain a balanced budget.
The Office of Tax and Revenue has made many improvements in the real
property tax administration over the last four years. Our goal has been
to assess real estate uniformly and to administer tax laws fairly.
During this time, we improved the assessment appeal process by adding an
informal level of review with the assessor. We improved the content and
the amount of real property information available to the public. This is
so that each property owner can assure that their assessment is uniform
with similar properties and that it represents market value as compared
to recent sales of similar properties in their area. To this end, we
have placed the assessment roll, property characteristics, and real
property sales information on the Internet (www.dc.gov
— taxpayer services - search real property database). Property owners
may view the assessments, property data, and sales of other similar
properties at this site. This site may be also accessed at all city
libraries and at all OTR offices.
While many of the property owners indicate that their property value
reflects the market in their area, they do not like the fact that the
assessment has increased. It is the reality of a strong market. It is
also important to remember that the physical characteristics of the
property do not often change over time and that most properties receive
normal maintenance. Should a property owner disagree with the assessed
value of the property or do not agree with our current information, we
encourage them to file an appeal.
Filing an appeal involves a three level appeal process. The first
level is an informal meeting with the assessor where the property owner
can share information about the property and the assessor can explain
the valuation. As stated on the assessment notice and as required by
law, all assessment appeals must be filed by April 1st. This appeal
process and appeal filing requirements are similar to those in all
surrounding jurisdictions. An appeal may be filed by simply sending a
letter stating that you are requesting an assessment appeal hearing and
identifying the property by address, square and lot. An appeal form is
also provided at the www.dc.gov web site or at any city library or fire
station. The appeal should be mailed to The Real Property Tax
Administration - Appeals Section, PO Box 176, Washington DC 20044 and be
postmarked by April 1, 2002.
Some have charged that the Office of Tax and Revenue has not
completed an accurate mass appraisal or that the requirements of the
constitution and laws of the District of Columbia have not been met.
Additionally, some have charged that OTR is withholding property data or
market information. I can assure you that this is not the case. The real
property assessment division of the Office of Tax and Revenue has
performed the real property assessment function in conformance with
acceptable methods and techniques for mass appraisal according to the
Standards of the International Association of Assessing Officers and the
Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. Exterior property
inspections and neighborhood inspections have been made.
Property-specific mass appraisal techniques have been used. The
requirements of the constitution and laws of the District of Columbia
have been met. Also, OTR has performed the assessment function in a
manner consistent with those of most all other jurisdictions in the
More information is provided to District property owners about real
property and the assessment of real property than at any other time in
the past. As stated, if a property owner feels a property valuation is
not correct, we encourage an appeal. However, should a property owner
agree that the property valuation is accurate and uniform, then there
would be no need to file an appeal. OTR's assessment operations are
reviewed and measured by national performance standards. The most recent
assessment of real estate has improved both the level of assessment to
market value and the uniformity of assessments in the District, as
required by law. This is shown by mass appraisal performance standards
that we employ. This has also been confirmed by an outside independent
review of our assessment operation. While we have made significant
improvements in the OTR assessment administration, we continue to strive
toward the improvement of the quality of our data and overall assessment
St. Coletta’s (Continuing)
Jim Myers, email@example.com
Examination of the most recent IRS Form 990 for St. Coletta of
Greater Washington may help explain why a done-deal air hung over the
recent planning process for the land around the former DC General
Hospital. The 990 shows that the Alexandria-based St. Coletta operates
in the ways that fast-growing 501(c)(3) institutions do these days,
which can include hiring costly lobbyists or dabbling in Enron stock.
St. Coletta did both in fiscal year 2000-2001. Meanwhile, the school
billed $5.6 million for services, presumably most to the DC government.
The Enron stock is a minor curiosity. The eye-opener is St. Coletta's
lobbying expenses: the Alexandria-based school for handicapped children
and adults spent $110,886 for “long-range planning” with Cassidy
& Associates, Washington-based lobbyists who include the governments
of China and Saudi Arabia among their big-time clients. The payoff for
St. Coletta seemed to come in congressional earmarks: “$997,800 in a
congressional appropriation to the DC government . . . and . . . a
congressional appropriation to the Department of Housing and Urban
Development in the amount of $997,800 to be expended in the construction
of a facility in the District of Columbia.”
But maybe the lobbyists had something to do with St. Coletta's
landing the rights to free DC General land, too. Who knows? St. Coletta
surely would say it does what it must on behalf of needy clients, and it
looks like hiring lobbyists is a good deal (except to fans of open
government). As for the land around DC General, it begins to appear that
only applicants with $110,000 lobbyists need to apply.
Home Depot Lite
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting to note in Thursday's Post the article about Home
Depot opening an inner city version of their home supply store. A couple
of years ago Home Depot was seriously considering opening a store in the
former Hechingers/Sears location in Tenleytown. They held a large meet
and greet event in the old Hechingers to describe their plans and to
hear of any concerns from the local neighbors. The Home Depot officials
got more than an earful and, when understanding just what "“istorical
Preservation Status” meant, they quickly backed out.
I had previously written to the President of the Home Depot
organization describing just how a hybrid inner city store could be
created in the Hechingers space with almost all of the offerings of
their very large stores. My letter was unanswered but I'd bet a bundle
that the configuration/inventory suggestions I made will make their
appearance in the two new Home Depot inner city stores in Brooklyn and
Staten Island in New York City.
Marion Barry and Racism
John Henry Wheeler, email@example.com
I think that Arthur Jackson, Jr., is wrong in raising race as an
issue with Marion Barry. However, that seems to be Barry's only campaign
issue. I believe Washington is beyond that. While I agree with most of
what Rob Eberhardt says about Barry, I disagree that “Barry is who
he's always been.” I think Barry was once a good mayor. He, like may
entrenched politicians, changed. Probably an example of the axiom,
“power corrupts.” Also I don't think he's a racist, but agree that
he's a race baiter.
I. What substance does Marion Barry most abuse? a) Women, b) Drugs,
c) The Last Colony, d) The inhabitants thereof, e) Himself, f) All of
II. To what is Marion Barry most addicted? a) Politics, b) Drugs, c)
Women, d) Sex, d) The limelight, e) His name in the paper.
III. What should the political prisoners of the Last Colony do about
him? a) Send him up the Lazy River, b) Drop him somewhere in the swamps
of Jersey, c) Buy him a one-way ticket to Tierra del Fuego, d) So badly
kick his ass in the “election” that he gets the message: Get Over
East of the River Voters Will Not Allow Marion
Barry to Be Politically Lynched
Arthur H. Jackson Jr., firstname.lastname@example.org
An individual identifying himself or herself, as a national
Democratic official told the Washington Times (Thursday, March
26) that Marion Barry is the Democratic Party's David Duke, referring to
the one time Ku Klux Klan Republican who ran for state office in
Louisiana. As Ward 8 Democratic State Committeeman, representing
Democrats in Ward 8 such Marion Barry, I resent comparing our former
Mayor to racist bigots like David Duke. And any Democratic official whom
does not recognize what African American leaders like Mayor Barry have
done to help Democrats win in crucial races, not only in the
Washington-Baltimore region but throughout the world, needs to join
And Mayor William's statement that “Marion Barry should seek
help” reflects his view that the former Mayor is guilty, before he's
heard both sides of the story. And only adds to those racists and
extremists who believe African Americans should not be in power in the
nation's capital. Mayor Williams should apologize to his former
employer. In Wards 7 and 8, we are going to exercise our political
strength this fall, and register a record number of voters, and elect an
At-Large City Councilmember to stop the pushing out of longtime
residents of Anacostia, Congress Heights, and other areas of our city.
In 1998, our voters stayed home. This election is about empowering
our communities to address alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy,
crime, police-community relations, poor services for our senior citizens
and cheating our children of quality education by not fully funding our
publics schools. Now the racist media and others are attacking Marion
Barry, without hearing both sides of this story. Is it because if Marion
Barry, were mayor DC's poor and low income people would still have DC
General Hospital? Is it because Marion Barry would not have allowed this
city to spend millions on advertising nationwide to attract wealthy and
affluent non-African Americans to Washington, without first protecting
the present residents of our city? This election will not be about Black
and White, it will be about the “haves” and the “have nots.” And
I assure every resident in this city and every media outlet, while
people in this city have mixed views of this incident, we will not allow
the racist Washington Post or any government setup to tell us who
to support and who to vote for.
[This will be the last round on this subject until there are further
developments. — Gary Imhoff]
Incoming and Outgoing Incentives
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
In my previous posting about allocating the newly proposed teachers'
raise budget to offering very high salaries to incoming new teachers,
I'm following up with some additional suggestions to improve the breed
of teachers in our public schools. First, we must attract new highly
qualified teachers. This can be done in several ways. Higher salaries
than surrounding counties in MD and VA are a must. In addition, on the
incoming side, the District could offer signing bonuses, pay moving
expenses for those relocating from outside the District, and/or pay
closing costs for those who would buy a home in the District.
On the outgoing side it is essential to get rid of the dead wood.
There need to be some incentives to rid the District schools of those
who burned out many years ago but hang on to bleed the school budget dry
with their high, unjustified, salaries. Early retirement incentives
worked well in the small school district in New York where I served for
six years on the school board. These incentives including adding some
years onto the service of those who would take early retirement which
increased their pensions. In addition there were up front payments made
to those leaving early. The result was the elimination of a very large
percentage of the burned out, and ineffective, teachers . This made room
for hiring a large number of highly qualified new teachers who were well
down on the salary scale. The situation on Long Island was greatly
different from the situation here in the Washington area. The supply of
highly qualified teachers greatly exceeded the demand. Here in DC we
must create a new paradigm by offering very high starting salaries that
will dramatically open up the supply of highly qualified teachers and
encourage career changes in those who really would like to teach.
The spam that I received recently had me laughing for quite awhile:
“Bob, get bigger, firmer breasts . . . the natural way!”
You Are a Market Niche
John Whiteside, john at logancircle dot net
1. Spam: For those who are less tolerant than Gary, you can take a
small step against spam by using Spam Cop (www.spamcop.net).
They have a free service that lets you submit spam to them. They analyze
the message headers to determine where it came from and what web site
it's trying to push you to, and then files abuse reports with the
Internet providers the spammer is using. It's a little work, and there's
no guarantee of anything happening, but one friend was responsible for
getting a spammer's accounts shut down using the service. Also, one of
the ways spammers collect E-mail addresses is with software that combs
web sites for E-mail addresses and adds them to the lists. Which means
that when an issue of themail is put on the DCWatch site with your
message in it, your address is there for spammers to collect. Be warned.
2. Sprint phones: it's possible that Sprint was not behind this. It
wouldn't be hard to figure out which telephone exchanges are wireless
exchanges and start blasting ads to them, so it's possible someone else
was behind that annoyance. Although, in marketing circles, one of the
hot new topics is the prospect of sending targeted ads to people based
on location, so as you pass a McDonalds your phone can ring with an
offer to get a quarter off a Big Mac. I'm not sure why some marketers
think this would encourage anyone to do anything but turn off their
mobile phone, but there you have it.
Spam is more that an annoyance. It's a plague. And I'm furious that
our government has done almost nothing to combat spam. A few state laws
and a tepid Federal Trade Commission crackdown of pyramid-scheme spam
— that's about all we've gotten. Meanwhile, spammers are attacking our
cell phones and other wireless devices with junk. Spammers are flooding
our in boxes (and our kids' in boxes) with scams and pornography. Spam
accounts for between 15 - 25 percent of all E-mail — and is growing.
The cost of all this junk E-mail gets passed on to us in the form of
higher ISP fees. Spam slows down the delivery of legitimate E-mail. Spam
causes people to lose, delete and miss real E-mail. Travelers who
retrieve their E-mail at hotels have to pay costly per-minute charges
because of junk E-mail. And woe be to anyone who comes back from a
week's vacation: Our in-box may be filled with dozens or hundreds of
It's time for Congress and the FTC to take strong measures against
spam. If these kinds of get-rich-quick schemes, pump-and-dump stock
scams, quack cures, and pornography were being touted through more
"traditional" media, the government would have taken action a
long time ago. Meanwhile, for the little good it may do, the Federal
Trade Commission is collecting spam: Forward your junk E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report spam to the sender's ISP by forwarding the junk E-mail to email@example.com,
where isp.com is the sender's Internet service provider (firstname.lastname@example.org
in the case of America Online), along with all the message's headers.
For more information on how to deal with spam, visit http://spam.abuse.net
or the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail at http://www.cauce.org/.
E-mail to City Council: It’s All Geek to Me
Mark Eckenwiler, eck[HATES SPAM]@panix.com
In the last issue, John Whiteside said his E-mail to a councilmember
bounced as undeliverable with the message “Host not found.” This is
typical of a transient DNS (domain name service) failure, and a check
today (3/28) confirms that dccouncil.washington.dc.us is once again a
valid domain. Such things happen to other Internet hosts on occasion, so
this is probably not evidence of malice. (Gross stupidity, maybe, and
not necessarily by DC government.)
Ironically, www.dccfo.com and
otr.dc.gov — domains formerly associated with the Office of Tax and
Revenue -- have been disabled in the past couple of weeks, apparently
deliberately and for good. Still alive is cfo.dc.gov.
The council's website and its E-mail system have been having on and
off trouble ever since Al Gore invented the Internet! Not only is it a
mediocre-looking website, it and its related E-mail component can't be
counted upon to be always reliable. It would be nice if the Office of
Chief Technology Officer could get it properly functioning for once and
for all. (Hope springs eternal!) By the way, councilmembers were,
sometime last year, all assigned simpler E-mail addresses that are
supposed to be alternates to the more cumbersome assigned,
“official” ones found on their pages. For some curious reason, these
are not publicized even though they are all trying to use them. What a
weird place this is.
I E-mailed all of the Council Members reminding them to come to the
fundraiser held for Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, Inc. at 450 M Street, NW
Jack Evans' came back. So did others. I sent them from my office and may
still have them. Kathy Patterson's came back, however her home E-mail
did not, so she received hers. Brazil's went through and they put me on
their e-mail list. Catania's went through; he read it, sent us money.
Fenty's went through. More later today. I don't think they all have
E-mail. I know they don't all have web pages.
Regarding Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving
to Washington, DC by Mark David Richards
David W. Dragnich, david.dragnich@TheWinslowGroup.com
Now how did you let this message creep into the news, when it clearly
is a pitch to buy a book? It purports to be an evaluation declaring it a
winner, with a disclaimer that the author isn't certain of what
competing books may have done in the way of updates since his
evaluation, which we can only presume took place sometime after the 3rd
edition release of book being touted. Furthermore, the evaluation seems
to be based on how many items are covered that are mentioned in the
Washington Historical Atlas. Using that as a guide, the author claims
the winner as covering 14 of 40 elements while quoting two competing
books covering only 12. When I went to school, if you got either 12 or
14 out of 40, you weren't considered the sharpest knife in the drawer in
either case. Shameless reporting!
CLASSIFIEDS — HOUSING
1532 O Street, NW, washer/dryer, AC, full kitchen and full bath.
Available immediately. Includes utilities and cable. $1350/month + 1
month deposit. By appointment: 462-7632.
CLASSIFIEDS — VOLUNTEERS
Servathon 2002 — Put Your Body Where Your
Falasha Brown, email@example.com
Strengthen your relationships with your coworkers, neighbors, gym
buddies, sorors, frat, fellow alumni, fellow churchgoers or other
friends by serving as a Team Captain and forming and leading a volunteer
team for Greater DC Cares’ Servathon 2002 on Saturday, May 18.
Servathon projects benefit metro area community and public service
organizations and range from painting charter schools to planting trees
in area parks to beautifying public housing facilities. The work you do
will have a lasting impact on your community and the pledges you and
your team raise will support Greater DC Cares in facilitating more than
100,000 hours of volunteer service throughout the year! Join us on April
3rd and 9th for a training and information session to get everything you
need to get started! For more information, check out our web site at http://www.dc-cares.org
or contact Faye Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 289-7378, ext. 131 now.
For the actual event on May 18th, the attendants will meet their
teams at their project. The time of the event is 8:30 a.m. to 12:30
p.m., which is the actual service project. Post party festivities with
free food and free drinks and dancing will be at LuLu's from 12:30 p.m.
to 4 p.m.
Hark! Who Goes There!
Francesca Dixon, email@example.com
I'm looking for volunteers to help plan and implement a Civil War
Mess Night for my 5th grade class from Mary Church Terrell Elementary
School. Last year my 5th graders from a charter school held a similar
event at Les Halles complete with speeches, toasts, the parading of the
beef, and even a roll throwing battle between rival members of the mess.
If you would like to volunteer, please reply via E-mail.
Does anyone offer pro bono web page design services for ANCs?
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Does anyone know of a reputable jewelry appraisal/buyer? I have
several pieces of jewelry I no longer want and wish to sell them.
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