A Simpler Time
Dear Seekers of Simplicity:
So, when times are trying, do you like to reminisce, even back to
times that were before your time? In the past couple weeks, I've been
listening to a lot of women jazz-pop singers from the 40's and 50's.
Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, Rosemary Clooney, Dinah Shore (how good
she was as a young singer; what timing she had).
The recent past, thirty or forty years ago, is always pictured, with
a nostalgic glow, as a better and simpler and less complicated time than
today. That's because, when people get to be forty and fifty years old,
they think back to the era when they were children, and when they
themselves were better and simpler and less complicated, and attribute
those qualities to the era. Believe me, the good old days weren't much
different from these days; only we have changed.
Property Tax Increase “Relief”
Mark Eckenwiler, eck at ingot dot org
Back in March, there was much debate in themail about the import of
the City Council's proposed 25 percent per annum cap on real property
assessment increases. Having read over the law, I'm here to tell you
that a) it's not a cap on assessment increases, and b) as a result it
does relatively little to hold down property taxes.
The good news in Act 14-306 (3/25/02), codified at DC Code sec.
47-864, is that it applies to owner-occupants. The bad news is that it
creates only a year-at-a-time tax credit, not a cap on assessment
increases per se. Here's how it works on an imaginary house with a
growing assessment of 200K (year 1), 300K (year 2), and 380K (year 3).
In Year 2, your assessment rises more 25 percent, but you receive a
credit that limits your tax to 200K (prior year assessment) x 1.25;
thus, your tax goes up 25 percent, all else being equal. But in Year 3,
your tax will be based on 300K (prior year assessment) x 1.25, and so
on. (In effect, your taxes for the three years are on 200K, 250K, and
375K; note the 50 percent increase in Year 3.)
Put in simplest terms: instead of limiting assessment increases to 25
percent per year, the Council has merely created a one-time credit for
the year your assessment jumps 25 percent or more. The year after the
assessment increase, you'll be hit for it in full. Mind you, I'm not
saying that DC property values haven't increased, or that OTR shouldn't
assess properties at market value (if they do so fairly and uniformly --
don't get me started). I'm only pointing out that the new tax credit
isn't likely to do much to cushion the blow, which means that
challenging your assessment remains the best way to keep the DC tax man
honest. FYI, the best online copy of the law I can find the bill as
introduced (same as final version), http://dccouncil.dc.gov/images/00001/20020312111534.pdf.
City of Trees
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, email@example.com
In two articles published in a book entitled Washington: The
Nation's Capital, by President William Howard Taft and James Bryce
(1913 and 1915), both commented on Washington's “green-walled summer
arcades” in which one “finds himself in the midst of a far-drawn-out
Gothic archway whose parts are giant trees and whose whole represents
the archetype of the bright conceptions of the Gothic builders.” Since
that time, Washington has lost many of its trees. In fact, between 1973
and 1997 alone, American Forests reports that DC lost over 64 percent of
its forest canopy. As you recall, Betty Brown Casey of the Eugene B.
Casey Foundation contributed $50 million to the Garden Club of America
for the creation of a permanent endowment to restore the tree canopy of
Yesterday, I spoke with three women in Woodley Park who were
examining trees and making notations in an electronic notepad. Deborah
said they are part of the DC Trees Inventory project. One aspect she
mentioned is how much it helps when residents know a little bit about
the trees — especially new ones that are being planted — so they can
help the trees survive. My grandfather liked to garden, so I learned the
names of many trees and plants, but I find most people have no idea when
I ask about one I don't know. Perhaps the new trees could come with a
little, "I'm your new neighbor, let me introduce myself"
tag/sign that teaches people walking by what the name of the tree is and
how it likes to be treated. In addition, perhaps the planters could
remove the non-biodegradable wrappers from the trees before planting
them and also consistently implement best practices to give the trees a
head start. In any case, I'm grateful to Ms. Casey and to those who are
working on this project. It will benefit current and future generations.
Perhaps someone who is familiar could explain what citizens need to know
about the Council's Urban Forest Preservation Act: http://dccouncil.dc.gov/images/00001/20010724145347.pdf,
New DCFPI Report on Transparency of DC’s
Ann Pierre, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, the DC Fiscal Policy released a new report entitled
“Improving the Transparency of the DC Budget.” The report uses a
report card format to assess the extent to which the DC budget process
provides policymakers and residents with clear, timely, and meaningful
budget information. The report makes several recommendations for
improving the District's budget materials and budget process.
The report can be found at http://www.dcfpi.org/7-29-02bud.htm.
Tim Cline, Columbia Heights, Timandann@aol.com
I love to know where Bill Mosley gets his information about a Target
coming to Columbia Heights, so I could find out how soon it will open
and be first in line. I have no idea what is planned for a store or
parking, but it will be a lot better than anything around the Columbia
Heights Metro stop right now, although the CVS is nice.
Mr. Mosley's concern about whether Target can make a go of it or not
are silly; these are issues for the Target people to deal with. I live
two blocks from 1400 Irving, and will be happy to deal with
"shoppers ... parking on residential streets in Columbia Heights
and Mount Pleasant." It will be an improvement over the drug
purchasers who circle the block looking for dealers and stop in the
middle of the street to make a buy. As for the small businesses . . .
that's a joke, right?
In response to Sarah Barnett's question, at the recent NCRC-RLARC
Board meeting, Chip Glasgow, the spokesperson for the developer,
declined to name any potential tenants while negotiations are underway,
although someone on the Grid-DC/USA team is likely to have planted the
Target story in the press the week before the meeting. The developer
plans to have 1360+ parking spaces, on three levels underground, for a
complex of 500,000+ square foot retail which might include the phantom
Target. The site, most of the block between Park Road and Irving Street
along 14th Street, NW, is right across from the Columbia Heights Metro;
the developer was granted a reduction from 1800 parking spaces by the
It will be more than three years since the developer was selected for
the Exclusive Right Agreement to develop the site, in December 2003,
when the NCRC-RLARC expects all aspects of this project to be ready to
go, and the anchor tenant is the linchpin. The RLARC stated clearly that
no further extensions will be granted. Columbia Heights has been waiting
for twenty plus years for the restoration of its downtown. There is no
question in my mind that a “big box” retailer would do well in this
location. Whether they want to deal with the bush-league players
selected by the old RLA is another question.
Petition Circulators Are Still Out There
Juan Manuel Thompson, email@example.com
To all themail readers, there are still folks out there circulating
nominating petitions for independent candidates in the upcoming
elections. The Mayor's scandal has made it that much harder for
volunteer workers like myself to obtain a signatures from average
Washingtonians. So when you see a circulator, don't rake them over the
coals. Yes, you have the absolute right to say “no thanks,” but we
are out there just trying to get the candidate to the voter's table.
We just want to follow the democratic process the right way. One
registered District resident at a time.
In the sturm und drang over Mayor Williams' difficulties with the
petitions, the larger issues of the election of a mayor are being
overlooked. Point one: the petition requirement exists only to limit the
ballot to serious, credible candidates. There is no question that the
incumbent mayor is a serious, credible candidate, and the petition
requirement is truly gratuitous. Point two: the losers, should Williams
be kept off the primary ballot by a technicality, are the voters, who
will be deprived of the right to a free and fair election. If Williams
is to be denied another term, it should be by popular vote, not by a
Something Smells in Washington
Dennis Jaffe, DJWorkHome@aol.com
I hope Mayor Williams decides to not challenge the Board of Elections
and Ethics' ruling that disqualified him from appearing on the
Democratic primary ballot. The incompetency and dishonesty exhibited in
his submittal demonstrate contempt for the petition process. I am
concerned, though, about the basis upon which the board's decision was
reportedly made. The agency's registrar, Ms. Fairley, certified that the
mayor submitted 2,235 “seemingly valid signatures,” according to the
Washington Post — 235 signatures above the 2,000 required. The
formal petition challenge was legally impressive. The board's argument
was morally persuasive. But the law requires that in order to invalidate
a candidate's ballot petition, it must be proven that the number of
signatures submitted fell short of the statute's requirement.
Does the board's fundamental inability to trust the authenticity of
the document's contents qualify as justification under the law to
invalidate a candidate's petition? I would hope so, but “proving
something to be invalid” is different than “not trusting something
to be valid.” As pathetically irresponsible, arrogant, and deceitful
as the Mayor's petition was, the 10,000 plus signatures he submitted
were reduced to 2,235 “seemingly valid” signatures. The reported
legal basis for the board's decision is worrisome. Either the mayor had
enough valid signatures, or he didn't. Regardless, I don't see how the
mayor could possibly decide to mount an independent candidacy and leave
the Democratic Party. Doing so would automatically result in his facing
opposition by a Democratic nominee in November, a seemingly prohibitive
debacle for him, and possibly the Democratic Party, as well as invite
possibly formidable candidates to run as Independents. With over a
million bucks in his treasury, he can afford to mount a write-in
campaign in the Democratic Party — even an effective one.
Although, that might depend on how much money he spends on lawyers'
fees and on staff, like Scott Bishop, Sr., who was placed on leave from
the campaign from his $6,000-per-month position. Williams' continued
hefty payment to Bishop concerns me deeply. Why would a mayor continue
paying $6,000 a month to a staff person who was responsible for this
mess? According to the July 26th edition of The Washington Times,
Mayor Williams said, “All I'm doing is just trying to provide for his
financial stability.” Huh? This situation begs for deeper scrutiny.
A quote attributed in the July 23rd edition of The Washington Post
to Warren Graves, the manager of the mayor's 1998 campaign, also
disturbs me. Graves was reportedly trying to forge some kind of
compromise with Dorothy Brizill, who has long crusaded for government
accountability, and who recently filed the petition challenge that
ultimately led to the board's decision against the mayor. Prior to the
decision, Graves said the mayor “would agree to pay a fine and set up
something to ensure integrity of the process, like funding a
nonprofit.” Which nonprofit was the mayor considering funding — and
for what purpose? This also has a smell to it. Didn't we already go
through one of those scandals?
[The legal basis for and reasoning behind the Board of Elections and
Ethics' decision can be found in their order: http://www.dcwatch.com/election2002/williams09.htm.
The Mayor's argument in the Court of Appeals is that as long as all the
lines in the circulator's affidavit on a petition sheet are filed in, a
false affidavit is as good as a true one. “The Board has no statutory
authority to strike valid voters' signatures because of an inaccurate,
or even false, affidavit of a circulator.” See his brief at http://www.dcwatch.com/election2002/williams10.htm#false.
— Gary Imhoff]
I have the image that a bunch of third-rate lawyers are clustering
around Tony Williams's bandwagon in hopes of one day occupying some
suite on K St.
Follow the Money
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom
It's only Tuesday, and the Mayor has not yet selected any one of his
three options to get on the November ballot. It is timely to make a
prediction based on what I know about Mayor Williams. he will follow the
money. That is, he will opt for being a Democratic write-in candidate
for the November election. That is a somewhat risky approach since
writing in is fraught with potential errors which lead to the
disqualification of many votes. Williams will take that risk knowing
that it will discourage other Dems from going the write-in route. But,
mainly, his reason for selecting this option is that he can't bring
himself to give up that $1.4M that's in his treasury to run as a
Democrat for reelection.
[Second message] Well, it is now Wednesday night, and my Tuesday
prediction that Mayor Williams would follow the money and run as a
write-in Dem has come true. His challenge to the Board of Elections
ruling that his name not be on the primary ballot was surprising and is
a bit ill advised. What strikes me as most strange is that the Mayor
will have a large number of hand stamps made and distributed so that
persons can just stamp his name on the ballot and then draw a line to
the arrow pointing to that name. I question the use of a stamp as being
a legitimate way of “writing” in a candidates name. That may
actually be illegal. Also, no stamp can be left in, or near, the voting
booth or within fifty feet of the polling place boundaries since that
would be illegal for campaigning too close to the polling places.
Michael Bindner, mbindnerdc at aol dot you know what
Further congratulations on your ballot challenge, preventing for a
time the massive election fraud that was the Mayor's nominating
petition. Today's news relates that the Mayor is now running as a write
in and (to discourage competition) filing an appeal of the Board of
Election and Ethic's decision — hoping to snatch victory from the jaws
of defeat by assuring that there is just the chance that a Chavous or
Evans write-in campaign may be against a Williams who is on the
Democratic Ballot. It is likely that Williams is hoping that the court
will find that the Registrar's count should have been accepted, with no
direct evidence on the record that the Bishops committed election fraud.
It would seem that there is only one way to get the Bishops' story on
the record to prevent this — find a forum for them to testify under a
grant of immunity. While the local prosecutor and the chairs of both DC
committees are in the “friendly column,” they should be reminded
that protecting the Mayor in this instance leaves them in the same
position as Merrill Lynch and Andersen regarding Enron. The taint of
fraud will stick to Williams protectors if they resist bringing this
matter to its natural conclusion: the Bishop's immunized testimony.
While it would seem disloyal for Mrs. Morella to hold such hearings
after the Mayor's fundraiser for her earlier this year, it is almost
essential she do so to prevent any hint that she has been compromised by
Mr. William's earlier generosity.
Because four years ago I helped draft Tony and stood on the corner to
collect signatures, his petition fiasco has had me too teed off to write
sooner. First, one big, giant super duper thank you to Dorothy and Gary
for doing the exceptional in Washington — holding a DC politician
accountable for his actions. Second, the problem and the only problem is
that Tony took a democratic process and perverted it into a bribery
process. Criminal actions by the Bishop family pale in comparison to
Tony's bribing the Bishops to collect signatures. I am not surprised by
the Bishop's greed, although I am boggled by their incompetence. I'm
even more boggled by Tony's arrogant indifferent failure to competently
supervise the simple petition process. Third, I am in awe of the
integrity, honor, honesty, and courage of the Board of Elections for
properly rejecting Williams' petition, if for no other reason than the
Bishops' refusal to testify and validate any signatures. Fourth, will
the DC judicial system have the honor and integrity of the Board of
Elections and indict the Bishops for criminal fraud and indict Tony as a
criminal coconspirator? Fifth, in the name of humanity, Tony, get rid of
your virulent lawyer Policy. Our city does not need Policy's divisive
noxious malignancy. Sixth, Tony, you need to start apologizing, again,
and again, and again, and again.
Intellectually Competent Citizens
Diane A. Pecor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The solution to the July 27 Quote Acrostic in the Washington Post was,
“Today the world is the victim of propaganda because people are not
intellectually competent. More than anything, the United States of
America needs effective citizens competent to do their own thinking.”
William Lewis, Teach Them to Think. It’s the perfect intro at the
perfect time for saying, “thank you Dorothy, thank you Gary.”
And as a later thought, does Anthony Williams seriously want to be
associated with the image of a rubber stamp? This seems like more fodder
for Chris Rock and the late night comedians.
[Thank you, Michael, Phil, and Diane. And that's enough of the
sweetness and light and self-congratulation. — Gary Imhoff]
Arthur H. Jackson is No Longer Listed
Bob Summersgill, email@example.com
Daniel Swann promoted Arthur H. Jackson, Jr., as a candidate for
Mayor. I have nothing to say for or against Mr. Jackson, but I do notice
that he is no longer listed as a candidate on the Board of Elections and
Ethics web site. I have not had a chance to call the BOEE and find out
why he is no longer a candidate. Another Democratic candidate for Mayor,
Tricia Kinch, is also no longer listed as a candidate.
Actually, four Council Members voted against the repeal of term
limits — Allen, Chavous, Fenty, and Graham. During the debate, Fenty
proposed an amendment that would have treated the repeal as a charter
amendment requiring ratification by the voters, but only Allen, Chavous,
Fenty, and Mendelson voted for that. The Mayor, who had initially asked
that his office continue to be term-limited, allowed the bill to become
law without his signature. To my knowledge he has not explained this
publicly; one can speculate that if just one more Council member had
opposed the repeal of term limits, he might have vetoed it because the
veto might have been sustained.
Another recent example of Councilmembers behaving badly was last
year's Council Ward redistricting bill, redistricting of, by, and for
the Council, in which they ignored legal redistricting principles and
advanced their own reelection prospects by expelling dissidents from
their own wards. Particularly offensive were Councilmember Mendelson,
Chair of the redistricting subcommittee, and ward councilmembers Evans,
Patterson, and Ambrose. More recently, Councilmember Orange, with
co-sponsorship from Ambrose, introduced a bill that would relieve
candidates of the disagreeable necessity of collecting signatures on
nominating petitions if they had the early support of their party's
state committee — in effect another incumbent protection bill.
It is extremely difficult to launch a referendum to prevent a bill
from becoming law -- you have to gather the signatures during the
30-legislative-day Congressional review period — or to recall
incumbent Council members, who cannot be recalled during the first and
last years of their four-year terms. Reelection campaigns offer voters
the best chance to hold Council members accountable for such
self-serving actions. Incumbent Council members who have behaved badly
on these issues, and who are seeking reelection in contested Democratic
primaries on September 10, are Mendelson, Patterson, Orange, and
Ambrose. Voters who are concerned about arrogance and selfishness among
Councilmembers should support their challengers.
[The vote count information was also provided by Dennis Jaffe, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gary Imhoff]
The following was the vote on Jack Evan's Term Limits Repeal bill.
For: Jack Evans (sponsor), *Linda Cropp, Harold Brazil, *David Catania,
*Phil Mendelson, Carol Schwartz, *Kathy Patterson, *Vincent Orange,
*Sharon Ambrose. Against: *Jim Graham, Adrian Fenty, Kevin Chavous,
Sandy Allen. *Up for reelection this year.
FYI: Anyone can view the status of any bill at http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/lims/.
Term Limits Repeal is at http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/lims/voterecord.asp?legno=B14-0025.
As I am in Zambia for a while, I will leave it to someone else to
look up the other two bills.
What's the point of them? If you have a good politician in the
Senate, the House, on a Board, etc., why would you want him to be forced
out? It does more harm than good anyway because in their second term,
and even in their first term, they are already a lame duck. Don’t tell
me that term limits are good because it gets the rascals out of office.
There are mechanisms in place for that already. I strongly oppose term
limits and will vote in favor of any politician who supports them. The
only reason the DC electorate passed them is because they don’t know
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Mendelson Campaign Event
Susie Cambria, email@example.com
The campaign to ReElect Phil Mendelson is having a volunteer rally
this Saturday, August 3rd, 10:30 a.m. through 12:00 noon, at the Fort
Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street, NW (at 13th Street.
Food and beverage will be served. Guest speakers and Phil will address
the crowd. Please come out and show your support! Bring friends! The
campaign is rounding the turn and entering the homestretch of a very
competitive race. The Rally is a great opportunity for you to get
onboard and be actively involved in this exciting election. We have
activities for all supporters. Please join us and get involved. Your
help is essential to Phil's success on Election Day. For more details
reply to this E-mail or call Chuck Thies at 270-6429.
[Note: Susie Cambria is merely sharing the information for voter
education purposes. Neither she nor DC Action for Children is
supporting/endorsing any candidates.]
CLASSIFIEDS — FOR SALE
Laptop: IBM Thinkpad 765D, 2 gig hard drive, 80 megs of RAM. Modem
card, external CD-ROM included. $600 or best offer. Copier: Xerox 5322
photocopier. It double-sides, it reduces, it enlarges, it sorts and
staples. It needs a new photo receptor drum, which costs $475, though.
You haul. Make me an offer. Contact me at 483-1764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS — SPACES
Office Space for Rent
Lora Engdahl, LoraE444@aol.com
Great front sunny office at DuPont/Adams Morgan border. DSL, bathroom
and shower, back yard. Whole office for $600 or half ($350 negotiable).
Available now. Contact Lora Engdahl at LoraE444@aol.com,
I am a licensed real estate agent, and would be happy to assist the
Mayor and Mrs. Williams, or anyone else who wants to call DC home and
invest in the city by owning property here. If you, or anyone you know,
is interested in selling or buying a home here, please give me a call,
or send me their name(s) and number(s) so I can offer my services.
Office, 895-7281; E-mail, email@example.com.
CLASSIFIEDS — CAUSES
If You Live in Arlington or Alexandria
Charles Stevenson, editor, Geotrees.Com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This message is directed mostly to those living in Arlington or
Alexandria. My apologies in advance for any inconvenience if you don't.
At the end of last week I learned that The Uncommon Market food co-op is
in imminent danger of eviction, and they need to raise both member share
capital and sales figures by July 31. Here is their intro blurb from
their web page: “We are The Uncommon Market, a community-owned,
member-run food cooperative. We provide organic food and earth-friendly
products, support local farmers and businesses, and nourish a healthy
community for a sustainable future. Our store is in Arlington, Virginia,
near Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive, 1041 S. Edgewood St.
Arlington, VA 22204 (a half block south of Columbia Pike). Phone:
703-521-2667, Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.,
Sunday. Questions? Please E-mail: email@example.com.”
This is a worthy institution that brings value to the community in
many ways, including making available a savory selection of choice
ethnic and international foods, and purveying information of local
intercultural events. I invite you to check them out while there is
still time, and see if you can support them in some way.
CLASSIFIEDS — RECOMMENDATIONS
Call "Paws at the Wood's" at 726-6510; ask for Donalee.
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