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Good morning sweet readers! Wonder if Arnold said this. News time:
Golden Lawnmower: Guess how much UDC pays for landscaping at President Allen Sessoms‘ home? How about $1200 a month! Is someone cutting each blade of grass by hand? That tidbit and many more can be found in Fox 5 reporter Tisha Thompson‘s latest foray into the world of Sessoms spending. This time it’s a seven-and-a-half minute long segment on the $1.5 million home UDC provides Sessoms (in addition to his $60,000 Navigator and first-class travel). Fun fact: UDC spent $76,000 on custom-made bookshelves to be installed at the publicly-owned home at Sessoms’ request. A UDC spokesman said Sessoms “has a lot of books.” The piece is also worth watching just to hear Thompson say: “This is the driveway President Sessoms says has cracks the size of tires in it” while showing video of a perfectly respectable-looking driveway.
AFTER THE JUMP: Budget News; No More Teachers; Roque’s Goodbye …
Solution, Hire a Better Accountant: Hey rich folk, you thought Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown was your friend because he is going to block Mayor Vince Gray’s proposal to increase your taxes, right? Well, that’s only half true. “The income tax increase proposed by Mayor Vincent Gray would raise about $35 million. But it divides into two parts: an increase in the rate for incomes of $200,000 or more, and a reduction in the itemized deductions those same earners can claim. Brown says he will nix the rate increase and keep the deduction limit in the $5.5 billion operating budget he will put before the council on May 25,” reports the Examiner. “The change in deductions would raise about $16.7 million, the mayor’s budget office estimates. The proposal reimposes on D.C. taxpayers a limit on deductions that varies depending on how much the taxpayer earns above $200,000 per year. It was made part of the federal and city tax structure in 2000, but ended with the tax cuts pushed through Congress by President George W. Bush.”
More Budget News: Art reps don’t want their tickets taxed. Did you vote for the baseball stadium in exchange for a promise of extra money to spend on libraries and schools? Well, that was silly. Homeless funding taking a big hit. And Harry Jaffe asks why not raise money by soaking commercial property owners. And no one really likes the mayor’s budget.
Aloha Means Goodbye: Child and Family Services Agency Director Roque Gerald is calling it quits, the Post reports. Gerald was appointed by former Mayor Adrian Fenty shortly after the Banita Jacks scandal. “Under Gerald’s tenure, the child welfare agency has avoided another public crisis, but lasting reform has been elusive. It has been the subject of a federal class-action lawsuit for two decades. And although the city agreed to an exit plan in December, the monitor’s report released last Monday indicated that the agency is far from meeting the conditions necessary to do so.”
You Say Potato: The Post reports that 660 teachers and other DCPS employees have been put on notice that their jobs are being cut and they need to find a new gig in the school system. “D.C. officials call it ‘excessing,’ a routine annual redistribution of jobs slots in which schools with budget, enrollment or program changes often shed jobs while others gain them. This year, those being ‘excessed’ may find it tougher to land another position. Under the old collective bargaining agreement between the District and the Washington Teachers’ Union, excessing was handled on a seniority basis, and teachers cut loose were guaranteed other spots. But the contract negotiated last year under former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee makes excessing ‘performance-based,’ employing criteria including an educator’s most recent evaluation, ‘unique skills and qualifications’ and ‘contributions to the local education community.’ Seniority still counts, but not for nearly as much. Moreover, placement of excessed teachers requires ‘mutual consent,’ meaning that school principals aren’t required to pick them up and can elect to hire newly recruited teachers instead. Teachers in good standing who cannot find a position have the option of accepting a $25,000 buyout, early retirement (with 20 years or more of service), or a year at full salary and benefits to keep looking for a spot within the school system.” New Washington Teachers Union President Nathan Saunders says excessing is just a p.c. way of saying teacher firing.
In Other News: Washington Hospital Center nurses ratify new contract. Vincent Orange to be sworn in today. Wal-Mart sends out mailers.
Gray sked: Shepherd Park community meeting at 6 p.m.; D.C. Appleseed awards dinner at 8 p.m.
Council sked: Committee on aging at 10 a.m.; Committee on Public Services at 2 p.m.