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December 29, 2010

End of the Year

Dear Year-Enders:

Iím celebrating the end of the year by taking a break from writing an introduction to this issue. Celebrate with me and take a break from reading my introductions. Happy New Year.

Gary Imhoff
themail@dcwatch.com

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So What Has Changed?
Dorothy Brizill, dorothy@dcwatch.com

As Vincent Gray prepares to be sworn in on Sunday, January 2, as the Districtís new mayor, there is widespread concern and speculation about a Vince Gray administration and specifically about "what kind of mayor he will be." I can only hope that the manner in which the transition team distributed tickets to the inauguration gala today at the convention center is not a harbinger of the future administration, because it showed both poor planning and an arrogant staff.

Although tickets are not required to attend the 8:00 a.m. prayer service or the 10:00 a.m. swearing-in ceremony at the Convention Center, tickets are required to attend the inauguration gala in the evening. According to Grayís transition office, 7,500 tickets were available to the general public and would be distributed, two to a person, on December 22, 28, 29, and 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in room 145 at the Convention Center. This morning, a slowly moving line of more than a hundred fifty people crawled through the small distribution room. The delay was caused by the Gray teamsí requirement that individuals not only show a picture identification card, but that the transition had to record the name and address of each person ó and by the fact that the transition provided only two volunteers to process the line. When I went to a corner of the room and began to take photographs and notes, an individual from the transition team, Greg Meeropol, approached me and demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I responded that I was at the Convention Center to report on the preparations for Sundayís inauguration and that I was concerned about the very long lines and the lack of adequate staff to process ticket-seekers. Meeropol, who indicated that he was in charge of the ticket distribution and was the volunteer coordinator for the Gray transition office, then left the room and returned five minutes later with two Convention Center security officials. I was told that I could not stand in the corner, from which I had a good view of the waiting lines and ticket processors. With Meeropol egging on the Convention Center security staffers, I was then told to leave the room or that I would be escorted out of the building. The Gray transitionís self-importance, arrogance, and eagerness to wield petty power over citizens lined up and kept waiting unnecessarily and over the press reporting on it reminded me strongly of the early days of the Fenty administration and how Fenty staffers handled his inauguration.

By 10:40 a.m., signs were posted on the exterior doors of the Convention Center that all tickets to the inaugural gala were "sold out," and that all ten thousand tickets to the gala had been distributed.

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DPWís Post-Holiday Schedule
Kevin B. Twine, Kevin.twine@dc.gov

The Department of Public Works reminds residents that we will follow the normal trash/recycling collections schedule on Friday, December 31. If Friday is your collection day, please have your materials out by 6:00 a.m. Friday and return your containers to your property by 8:00 p.m. Friday. DPW will collect holiday trees (please remove ornaments, lights, tinsel, etc.) between Monday, January 3, and Saturday, January 15. Place your trees in the tree box space in front of your home, or adjacent to the curb (but not in the street). Please put your tree out for collection between Sunday, January 2, and Sunday, January 9. After January 15, you may put your tree where you put your trash and recycling and we will collect it from there, depending on the truckís capacity.

DPW will suspend enforcement of parking meters, residential parking, and rush hour lane restrictions on Friday and Saturday, December 31 and January 1. Also, DPW will not tow abandoned vehicles. Saturday, January 8, is the next Household Hazardous Waste/E-cycling/Document Shredding day. Please bring these materials to the Ft. Totten Transfer Station, 4900 John F. McCormack Road, NE, between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The February drop-off day is February 5. Directions to Ft. Totten: Travel east on Irving Street, NW, turn left on Michigan Avenue, turn left on John F. McCormack Road, NE, and continue to the end of the street.

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Sixteen US Cities That Could Face Bankruptcy in 2011
Dino Drudi, drudi.dino@bls.gov

DC is on this list: http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/16-u.s.-cities-that-could-face-bankruptcy-in-2011-535744.html?tickers=%5Edji,%5Egspc,%5Etnx,tlt,tbt

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Estate Tax Issues for Home Owners in the District
William Haskett, williamhaskett@hotmail.com

I sent letters on the estate tax issue to Mary Cheh and all other councilmembers on November 13. If I understand correctly, the Federal level at which estate taxes are assessed was altered upwards in the most recent lame-duck session of Congress, but DC has not taken any action to remedy the discrepancy, which is now even wider, between that level and that of the District. DCís estate tax rates were last set in 2001, just before the housing boom. This must have increased the total estate for any homeowners who benefited from increased house values (and assessments, of course) in the boom years of the past decade. Iíd be interested in finding out if my worries are shared.

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In Defense of Planners, Developers, and Arlington
Len Sullivan, lsnarpac@verizon.net

Over the thirty-odd years I lived in northwest DC and worked down south in Arlington County (commuting daily, alone, by car), I marveled at how Arlington County reinvented itself as a major inner suburb of our national metro area. From a run-down area once similar to DCís Ward 8, Arlington planners established development corporations at each planned Metro stop, invited in competent (i.e., profitable) developers and ended up with a combined set of thriving high-rise (not really sky-rise) and upscale single-family residential communities. That county is growing three times faster than DC, has far higher average housing values, a current mean household income 33 percent higher than DCís, and a median household income 66 percent higher ó indicating lesser income disparities. Its school system educates half as many kids in a third as many schools, with SATís scores substantially higher than DCís norm, or the US norm, and graduation rates over 90 percent for kids of all races, versus DCís 68 percent.

One of Arlingtonís major advantages is a ratio of 23 households paying taxes for every one below the poverty line. DC, by comparison, has only nine taxpaying households for each one dependent on DC municipal services (which consume well over half of all city expenditures). By all rights, DCís planning for revenue-producing development should be for substantially higher density (i.e., taller) than those across the Anacostia. Like DC, a large portion of Arlingtonís land does not produce local revenues directly, but that Virginia suburb has surely and consciously established a better of quality of life for both its residents and its large daytime workforce, albeit a trifle shadier on some days at some hours. Arlingtonís movers and shakers are, in fact, a far better representation of American get-up-and-go than DCís paranoid, change-averse, nimbys.

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CLASSIFIEDS ó EVENTS

New Yearís Eve Gala at the Washington Hilton, December 31
Michael Karlan, dc@prosinthecity.com

On December 31, join Professionals in the City at its Passport to the World New Yearís Eve Gala at the Washington Hilton in Dupont Circle. This gala includes an open bar, nine themed party areas each representing a different city, live entertainment and more. The current block of tickets starts at just $109. For more information, to see a video of last yearís gala, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.newyearseveindc.com, E-mail dc@prosinthecity.com or call 686-5990.

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