Every time the District launches a program to enrich poor neighborhoods, the only folks who seem get rich are the people hired to run it. According to D.C. Auditor Russell Smith, the nonprofit, quasi-governmental Economic Development Finance Corporation (EDFC) has done a fine job of wasting the $6.8 million the city has given it to spur economic development in troubled D.C. neighborhoods since 1984. The auditor found that in fiscal 1994, Lloyd Arrington Jr., president of the agency (and a Maryland resident), spent more than $600 in EDFC funds for rented formal wear, dinners, and entertainment. He also received $1,650 to pay for parking and a $17,500 annual bonus—25 percent of his $70,000-a-year salary. That same year, EDFC funded one—count it, one—new loan to a small local business. In addition, 50 percent of the outstanding loans EDFC was managing were in default. The auditor found that Arrington’s salary, bonus, and fringe benefits accounted for a whopping 72 percent of EDFC’s entire personnel costs.
Fannie Mae Must Pay Fannie Mae, already exempt from local taxes, apparently thinks it’s exempt from the First Amendment, too. Last week, Steve Kramer, chief of staff to D.C. Shadow Rep. John Capozzi, tried to put up “Fanny Mae Must Pay” posters in front of the mortgage giant’s Wisconsin Avenue NW headquarters to protest its free ride in the District. But Kramer says Fannie Mae’s security guards promptly arrived to grill him on permits and other postering protocol. Two D.C. cops also joined the fray, but none of the muscle could tell Kramer what law, if any, he was violating. Kramer says that earlier in the week, Fannie Mae’s rent-a-cops had managed to scare a couple of his young interns into removing posters they’d put up, but Kramer was not so easily intimidated. Refusing to tear down his own posters, Kramer told the cops, “Just leave them out here for a half-hour, and Fannie Mae will take them down for us.” The cops responded with a sympathetic chuckle, especially when they noticed a Fannie Mae employee doing just that. Meanwhile, Kramer says he has applied for a postering permit from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Once he has the proper paperwork in hand, Kramer says he might be the one calling the cops. He explains, “When we get back out there, it will be destruction of property if they take them down.”
One, Two, Three, Fore! While D.C. residents endure cutbacks to recycling programs and Maryland parents are asked to pony up $50 so their kids can ride a bus to school, the Defense Department’s billion-dollar Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program is treating Washington bigwigs and military brass to a third 18-hole golf course on the grounds of Andrews Air Force Base. Intended for the exclusive use of retired and active military personnel, members of Congress, and Hill staffers, the new $5.1-million course will feature extensive landscaping and a snack bar to feed the golden golfers before they play the back nine, according to the nonprofit group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Last summer, a few thrifty congressmen made a quixotic attempt to cut funding for the course, but they seem to have been overruled by the hundreds of other members eager for the new links. Defending the expansion plan, an Andrews spokesman explained, “Current records show that golf usage in the U.S. is on the increase and Andrews is no exception.”