December 8, 2013

Next, the Ward Races

Dear Voters:

We’ve been concentrating on the mayor’s race in the mail, and neglecting the ward races. Who are you supporting on the ward level?

Gary Imhoff


#DCision in the Media Blog
Susie Cambria, susie.cambria@gmail.com

I recently launched the blog #DCision14 in the media (http://dcision14media.blogspot.com/) to track media and social media hits related to candidates for office in DC in 2014. I hope you find it useful.

If you find an error or have an addition, please E-mail me.


District Elections in 2014
Dorothy Brizill, dorothy@dcwatch.com

Vince Gray 2014. Under the District’s election laws, a candidate must file a statement of candidacy and register his or her campaign committee with the DC Office of Campaign Finance with five business days of picking up the nominating petitions at the DC Board of Elections. Since Gray picked up his petitions on December 2, he had until December 9 to register his fundraising committee with OCF.

In keeping with District law, Gray filed his statement of candidacy on the morning of December 9, but completed only some of the paperwork needed to register his campaign committee (the Vince Gray 2014 Committee) with the OCF. To date, Gray has failed to file the “statement of organization,” and has not indicated who will serve as the committee’s chairperson and treasurer. In light of the ongoing controversy surrounding Gray’s 2010 campaign and the roles the chairman, Lorraine Green, and treasurers, Betty Brown and Thomas Gore, played in violating the District’s election and campaign finance laws, this omission from Gray’s OCF filing raises BOE concern. According to Wesley Williams, the public affairs manager at OCF, Gray has an additional ten days to complete the paperwork. In the meantime, it is not clear to what extent the Gray 2014 Campaign will be raising and expending funds while the legal framework for his reelection committee, that is, the campaign officers, is not in place. Moreover, since the plans for Gray’s reelection bid have been underway for months, does the fact that a campaign chair and treasurer have not been named at this late date, suggest that the campaign is having difficulty in recruiting individuals willing to hold these positions?

BOE Voting Precincts. The DC Board of Elections has extended the deadline again, to December 31, 2013, for public comments on its proposed plan to redraw all precinct boundaries (see http://bit.ly/17CWIMq). For further information, contact Tamara Robinson, BOE’s public information officer, at 727-2511.


The Taxicab Meter Contract
Ron Linton, Chairman, DC Taxicab Commission, rmlch@verizon.net

It is rather disconcerting to have gratuitous assertions bantered about by the likes of Mr. Daniel Wolkoff [themail, December 4], who would be well served to do a little research. Basically he doesn't know what he's talking about. First of all there was no 45-million-dollar meter contract for taxi meters "that take Visa." There was a five-year 35-million-dollar contract awarded to Verifone for a comprehensive cashless payment system that included a number of other consumer benefit features. The mayor had no role in that award. The technical committee that selected Verifone was composed of electronic technicians and one political appointee — me — and I'll put my reputation for integrity up against his anytime. Before he so callously throws about accusations of which he knows nothing, he should read the Contract Appeals Board opinion to understand that the contract wasn't nullified. The Taxicab Commission changed directions because we found a better way to serve the consumer and the industry. Based upon his demonstration of ignorance, I would be loathed to follow his suggestion as to how the District should be governed. I'm sure he would have a great time at his assembly calling everyone else a crook.


Will the Tax Revision Commission Recommend Tax Justice for DC?
David Schwartzman, dschwartzman@gmail.com

As the deliberations of the Tax Revision Commission near completion, with the last public meeting scheduled today, we still don’t know whether it will recommend long overdue tax justice for DC’s residents, or at worst follow the unwelcome agenda of the Federal City Council. Recall that Anthony Williams, the architect of “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor” as Control Board CFO and mayor, is the Chairman of both the Commission and the Federal City Council. The latter is the think tank of the corporate elite, which has long set the agenda for our local elected government with regards to economic development, so-called school reform, and other local issues.

Two other members of the Federal City Council are also on the Commission, Mark Ein and Pauline Schneider, who serve as Executive Committee member and Co-Chair of the Infrastructure Trust Committee of the Federal City Council respectively. According to members of the Fair Budget Coalition who were present as observers, at last week’s meeting, with the support of Anthony Williams, Mark Ein argued for lowering the top tax rate of 8.95 percent on the basis of the familiar argument that it is driving the wealthy out of DC, eroding our tax base. (On why this argument is false and a smokescreen for widening our high income and wealth gap see my “What Is Our Mayor’s Agenda for DC Tax Revision? piece at http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2012/12-01-25.htm.) If implemented, such a step would make our tax structure for residents even more regressive.

An updated 2013 Who Pays? for DC (ITEP), which includes the funding of expansion of Schedule H as well as the change of sales tax rate to 5.75 percent shows that the top 1 percent bracket pays a lower rate of DC taxes, 6.2 percent of family income (taking into account the federal deduction offset) than all, even our poorest residents, averaging $12,600 (6.3 percent). Regressivity kicks in above a $50,200 average family income (with the highest tax rate, 10.8 percent). Even without the federal deduction offset, regressivity again sets in above $50,200 average income. In 2011, the most recent data available, DC returns with adjusted gross incomes of one million dollars and above had a taxable income of $3.3 billion (those returns with adjusted gross incomes of one hundred thousand dollars per year and above had a taxable income of $12.4 billion, 67 percent of the DC total, while making up 22 percent of all returns (IRS data, http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats--Historic-Table-2).

According to an assessment of all recommendations by the Commission staff, there is a strong consensus against lowering the top rate. But the Federal City Council faction on the Commission may yet prevail, despite vigorous and dominant public testimony for progressivity and indeed a hike in the top rate, an approach supported by the Fair Budget Coalition, the DC Statehood Green Party (member of the FBC), as well as Ed Lazere, a member of the Commission and Executive Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.

Now is the time to tell the Commission, but especially our mayor and city council, who will soon receive the Commission report, that we demand tax justice for our residents, especially for our majority who now suffer income insecurity and the consequences of ever rising income and wealth inequality in DC. The remedy is tax relief for the bottom 60-80 percent income bracket and a hike in the tax rate for the wealthy, especially DC’s millionaires. Come to the final meeting of the Commission: this Monday, December 9, from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., at 1101 4th Street, SW, in room W250, Waterfront Metro Stop.


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