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The Council was expected to take a second and final vote on its $8.5 billion local budget for fiscal year 2021 on Tuesday. But then—as At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silvermandescribed it—the “shitshow” started. (During the legislative meeting, Silverman referred to the hours-long debate over taxes as a “dumpster fire.”) 

It all started with Chairman Phil Mendelson

He introduced an amendment at the start of Tuesday’s meeting to ease the burden of his 3 percent tax on advertising sales and personal data that the Council passed on a first vote earlier this month. Local papers—including City Paper—and businesses lobbied against the tax, saying it would “decimate” an already struggling industry, and this led members to voice second thoughts on the proposal. Mendelson tried to alleviate concerns with his amendment. But rolling back the tax would mean cutting funding for libraries—and some members weren’t happy about this either. DC Public Library said it would have to reduce hours without these extra dollars.  

“The way we’re doing taxation—ad hoc, a tax here, a tax there—is not the way to do tax policy,” said Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh during the meeting. Other members agreed with her.     

So Mendelson offered another idea: Scrap the advertising tax altogether, and make budget cuts over the next day or two to offset the tax’s estimated $18 million revenue. Six members agreed with him, and the Council will regroup on Thursday. 

Many, including councilmembers, are questioning the budget process, arguing it’s rushed and opaque. Members already had less than 24 hours to review Mendelson’s final budget the first time the Council voted, leaving them little time to review changes and his three tax proposals. Now, some members are just “livid”—they’ll have to shave millions of dollars in 48 hours, after spending the last few months massaging the mayor’s budget in Council committees. There’s a lot more to be said about the process, so stay tuned for Thursday’s Loose Lips column. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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

  • At a press conference, Mayor Muriel Bowser announces a new mayoral order on masks. “If you are going out, wear a mask,” she says. And this applies to police officers who have been seen not wearing a mask. DC Health Director also listed disturbing trends in COVID-19 cases—increasing cases in the community, not connected to one another, and in long-term care facilities—minutes before Bowser said she doesn’t think D.C. moved to Phase 2 too soon. [Twitter, Twitter]

  • As of July 22, D.C. reported zero deaths related to COVID-19 but 102 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers to 580 and 11,529, respectively. And in yesterday’s newsletter, I wrote the transmission rate is over 1, but it was actually at 1 for the first time in a week; I regret the error. [EOM

  • Wearing masks is quite common in D.C., according to this New York Times map. [DCist]

  • Council approves two new hospital deals in Ward 1 and Ward 8. But an amendment to force the Ward 8 operator to at least start union negotiations with workers fails. [BizJournal, Twitter

  • The National Zoo reopens Friday. Only some of the animals missed you. [WCP]

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

  • Ward 2 ANC Randy Downs announces D.C. Council run. [Twitter]

  • The D.C. Council gave initial approval to a major street safety bill. [DCist]

  • The latest congressman to disparage D.C. residents: South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds. [Twitter]

  • Remember when Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan used Jack Evans’ ethics scandal to argue against D.C. statehood? [NPR, Twitter

  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s bill would require the D.C. mayor’s permission for out-of-state National Guard troops. [House.gov]

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

  • Maddy’s Taproom will close on July 25, much to the dismay of Post employees.. [Twitter]

  • Food and drink specials for Nationals’ opening day. [Washingtonian]

  • The case for seeking out ugly produce at farmers markets. [Post]

  • You’ll no longer see Trader José and Trader Ming’s products at Trader Joe’s. [Eater]

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

  • The City Paper Arts Club podcast team goes on a wild ride full of scamming, flooding, and class struggle with Parasite. [WCP]

  • Julie Kent, Washington Ballet artistic director and legendary ballet dancer, reviews dance scenes in movies. [Vanity Fair on YouTube

  • On the latest edition of Kojo For Kids, astronaut and astronomer Stanley Love tells his story and answers questions about space. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

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

  • D.C. officials want the city to co-host the 2026 World Cup. But as past host cities and countries have discovered, hosting the World Cup isn’t as beneficial as promised. [WCP]

  • Longtime NBC Sports Washington reporter Julie Donaldson will be joining Dan Snyder’s staff to oversee the Washington football team’s broadcast, becoming the team’s highest-ranking female executive. [ESPN]

  • Nats get a win over the Orioles, 6-4, in the final tuneup before tomorrow’s Opening Day. [Federal Baseball]

  • Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who shows up to his interview sessions wearing a mask as mandated by the NBA,says the debate over wearing a mask or not is embarrassing. Wear a mask. [NBC Sports Washington]

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

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