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Sanitation workers don’t get to do their jobs remotely, even in the middle of a pandemic. Every weekday, public employees from D.C.’s Department of Public Works and haulers who work for private trash companies pick up our trash and drop it at one of the District’s trash transfer stations, where it sits until it’s taken to an incinerator or landfill.

The private trash companies pay what’s called a tipping fee—a set amount per ton of trash—to dump their waste at D.C.’s trash transfer stations. The only problem? The District is seriously undercharging the trash companies and taxpayers are eating the cost.

The results of City Paper contributor Cuneyt Dil’s investigation into the District’s trash game appear in this week’s cover story. Since 2010, D.C. has lost more than $50 million just by undercharging private trash companies. It lost more than $8.5 million in 2018 alone. DPW leaders, the city administrator, and D.C. councilmembers have known about the losses for years, but failed to enact any significant reform until late 2019. To add insult to injury, the Environmental Protection Agency could levy millions of dollars in fines against the District for pollution emanating from the rundown trash transfer station on Benning Road NE. Want more garbage? Read the full story online.

Dil’s investigation, “the first-ever accounting of how much the District has lost in processing trash for private waste haulers,” was funded with support from Spotlight DC—The Capital City Fund for Investigative Journalism. Spotlight DC, a new, independent nonprofit, will raise funds and provide grants to reporters interested in investigative and explanatory journalism about the greater D.C. area. To find out more about its plans and mission, visit SpotlightDC.org.

—Caroline Jones (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • As of July 23, D.C. reported one death related to COVID-19 and 42 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers to 581 and 11,571, respectively. [EOM

  • DC Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee said his staff has been “in regular conversation” with unions about reopening schools. There appears to be a difference of opinion on what conversation means. “Things have been proposed and then we are charged to react to them,” says principals’ union. [WCP]

  • Up to $1,000 fines for anyone not wearing a mask outside their home. Cops are enforcing the mayoral mandate, and exceptions include kids younger than 3 and those vigorously exercising. [Washingtonian, Twitter]

  • Got questions about COVID-19 data? DCist has (some) answers! [DCist]

  • Budget for public housing repairs falls short of advocates’ requests. [Street Sense]

  • A virtual tour of the newly renovated MLK library. [WAMU]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Is there a better way to make the budget? [WCP]

  • Here is Chairman Phil Mendelson’s $18 million budget solution. [Mendo]

  • The Council will debate the chairman’s proposed changes today at 12:30. [D.C. Council]

  • Screenshots add a plot twist to a State Board of Education kerfuffle. [WCP]

  • A $10,000 campaign donation refund was “lost in the mail.” [Post]

  • Local investigators inspected Donald Trump’s maskless hotel fundraiser. He passed this time. [Post]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • There are at least 25 virtual restaurants operating out of Mid-Atlantic Seafood in Takoma Park. [WCP]

  • Shibuya Eatery opens Monday in Adams Morgan. [Washingtonian]

  • Chef Jerome Grant of Sweet Home Cafe now leads the kitchen at Jackie in Navy Yard. [Post]

  • How were June restaurant sales in D.C.? [WBJ]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Beth Ziebarth, director of Access Smithsonian, talks about an inclusive reopening strategy for the institution and making museums accessible. [WCP]

  • The All-Night Sun illuminates the thorny nature of grief, our critic writes. [WCP]

  • Here’s where drive-in movie experiences are happening this summer. [DCist]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Baseball still struggles with Black representation. But locally, at least, concerted efforts from the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and the success of Mamie Johnson Little League have led to promising results. [WCP]

  • For better or worse, Major League Baseball is back. The defending World Series champion Nationals begin their 60-game pandemic shortened season tonight against the Yankees at Nationals Park. Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. [Federal Baseball]

  • Yesterday, the Wizards returned to the court in a competitive setting for the first time since the pandemic shut down the league in March, losing to the Nuggets, 89-82, in a scrimmage.. [Bullets Forever]

CITY LIGHTS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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