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The federal mortgage-lending behemoth Fannie Mae has become the favorite target of District elected officials greedy for revenue. Like a host of other chartered companies and nonprofits protected by Congress, Fannie Mae pays no local taxes to the District. In February, the Barry administration proposed asking the feds to revoke Fannie Mae’s tax exemption, a move that would inject hundreds of millions into the District’s barren coffers. The idea won enthusiastic applause at the March Democratic State Committee meeting last week. But the mayor may want to think twice before pursuing one of the city’s largest employers. According to the trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance, Fannie Mae recently bought a 350,000-square-foot office building in Fairfax County that’s large enough to house a good portion of its D.C. operations. Company spokesman David Jeffers says Fannie Mae has no current plans to move and intends “to remain a good corporate citizen of the District.” But the $17-million purchase sends a conspicuous signal that, if pushed, the federally chartered corporation could quickly jump the District’s sinking ship for friendly and functional Northern Virginia.
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Class Warfare Hoping to achieve official status as an oppressed minority in the District, a group of college students is grousing about a bill introduced by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans that would require them to register their cars in the District to qualify for residential parking privileges. Under current rules, students can pay an annual $135 parking fee and maintain out-of-state registration. In a meeting last week at George Washington University, Richard Sheehey, head of a student-run consortium of D.C. universities, decried Evans’ bill as an instrument of “class warfare” against students. He argued that students need their cars to reach jobs, and that Evans’ bill would force them to change their official residences, effectively cutting them off from some state-funded tuition-assistance programs. Furthermore, one incensed student said, Evans’ bill is “anti-parent,” because it would target many students whose cars are still registered by Mommy and Daddy—an argument that must have sent tremors through the Wilson building and the mayor’s office. After whining that the city’s aloof elected leaders never consulted them on the proposed legislation, the 15 students were asked to raise their hands if they had registered to vote in the District. Thumbs twiddled and pens scribbled, but not a single hand rose.
Mouse Trap With the city’s vermin abatement program gutted by budget cuts, rats now outnumber D.C. residents 2-to-1. But it looks like the rats still have plenty of company. D.C. has recently landed a spot on the list of the country’s 10 most mouse-infested cities. The District finishes seventh—after New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and San Antonio, in rankings based on the sales of rodenticide per household. (The d-CON company compiled the list from grocery-store receipts.) Some of the most destructive and prolific vertebrates, a pair of mice can produce 15,000 descendants and 36,000 droppings in a single year. Considering that mouse droppings are the source of numerous diseases, including salmonella, trichinosis, leptosporosis, and the deadly hantavirus (see “Baby Is D.C. Sick,” 2/23), it’s likely that D.C. also ranks high in its rate of musaphobia (fear of mice), which, according to d-CON, is Americans’ third most common phobia after fear of public speaking and fear of the dentist. CP