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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Photos: Official Portraits,” “Crime Scene Tech: No Sign Of Break-In After Robert Wone Murder,” “Prosecutors Play Joe Price’s Police Interrogation Video,” “Defense: Missing Blood Theory in Robert Wone Case Based On Faulty Tests,””Outrage Erupts at D.C. Green Groups’ Ties To BP“
Howdy. It looks very unlikely that the D.C. Council will raise taxes on the city’s elite in an effort to restore spending cuts to District services. As the budget talks come to a close, advocates are intensifying their efforts—-enlisting the assistance of Councilmember Michael Brown. D.C. Wire’s Tim Craig reports: “Currently, all District wage-earners who make $40,000 or more pay an 8.5 percent income tax. Brown has proposed creating another bracket for residents who make $250,000 a year or more and another for people who earn at least $1 million annually. Brown appears to have support from Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), according to Joni Podschun, campaign manager for Save Our Safety Net. Without a tax increase, Podschun and Brown note, the city will be slashing millions of dollars from programs for the homeless and poor.” But Vincent Gray has balked at this plan. He wants to deliberate more: “In an interview, Gray said the council needs a ‘longer and more protracted’ discussion about taxes and spending that he hopes will continue even after Wednesday’s vote on the budget. ‘We need a 365-day discussion,’ Gray said.” Is Gray parodying himself?
AFTER THE JUMP—-The wheels start coming off MetroAccess, a judge declares the D.C. Jail a disgrace, CFO takes over the Housing Authority, budget talks, and much, much more.
HOUSING TAKEOVER: The District’s CFO is taking over the Housing Authority’s finances—-an action stemming from Fenty’s frat-brother contract controversy. The Examiner’s Alan Sudermanreports: “CFO Natwar Gandhi told the Housing Authority on Monday that he’s taking control of its ‘financial operations and financial staff’ starting July 1. The move comes at the behest of some council members who are upset that Mayor Adrian Fenty used the quasi-independent agency to award about $100 million in city contracts without council approval. The council has appointed a special investigator to examine how Fenty’s fraternity brothers wound up receiving approval to manage about $80 million in Department of Parks and Recreation projects. The Fenty administration has said it has done nothing wrong, and the contracts were awarded through the Housing Authority not to sidestep council oversight but to speed up the construction of parks, ball fields and recreation centers. Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. said he was pleased by Gandhi’s decision, and said the move was a “refutation of some bad financial practices” that had occurred at DCHA. ‘We need more oversight, and more review of what was going on there,’ Thomas said. ‘It’s a good step on behalf of the city to ensure that those dollars are being spent the right way.'”
BUSBOYS AND POETS OWNER: Andy Shallal wrote an op-ed on Sunday that we missed (apologies). He writes an eloquent plea to the D.C. Council to raise his taxes if it means supporting social services:
“Sure, raising taxes for this reason is in my self-interest. I’m a business owner in this city, and I want more customers to have money to spend at my restaurants. Having a city with a widening gulf of haves and have-nots simply doesn’t bode well for my long-term business plans.
My personal stake in this doesn’t end there. One of the proposals I support is raising the income tax on the top 5 percent of earners in the city. I fall into this category, and I’m happy to tell the D.C. Council that I’m not about to move to Bethesda or Fairfax if it takes this step. My family certainly isn’t going to leave behind our friends, neighbors, doctors, etc., just because of a half-percentage increase on our income taxes. I love this city and want all its residents, not just a few, to prosper….I support the proposal to modernize our sales tax system by adding services such as dog grooming, yoga classes and theater tickets to our tax code. I also don’t think that those who invest in out-of-state bonds should receive a tax exemption. That creates an incentive for people to invest in Chicago and Seattle instead of in the District.
I invite you to look at what infrastructure investment can do for a city. Take 14th and U streets, for example. This dynamic part of town came about because the District decided to put resources here: The city built the Frank Reeves Municipal Center to create a daytime office population, and it worked with Metro to open a Green Line Metro station. That has brought with it millions of dollars of transit-oriented development and new residents for our city. And that means more tax revenue for schools, splash parks and libraries.”
The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute breaks down the budget cuts and starts another call-in campaign for today. D.C. Wire’s Nikita Stewart reports on a big push to restore funding to the Office of Latino Affairs.
D.C. JAIL: Department of Corrections Director Devon Brown has made some strides in improving the D.C. Jail. What those improvements might be, LL wouldn’t know. Brown helms one of the least transparent city agencies. What we do know is that the jail has had a problem with violence, security cameras that produce video that no one can see [or you have to wait years to see], and had had issues identifying suicidal inmates. And now we know something else about the D.C. Jail. We now know that a judge thinks the jail is a disaster. WTOP reports: “A D.C. Superior Court judge says the D.C. jail is the disgrace of the nation’s capital. Speaking at a community meeting. D.C. Magistrate Judge Richard Ringell said there aren’t enough services for the inmates. ‘That jail sometimes is not the place in order to solve the community ills,’ he said. ‘They do have programs in there to help people who have substance abuse, but it certainly isn’t the best environment.'” Brown actually responds with some weak offer: “‘For the judge to hold a belief that the department is anything but a national leader is not accurate,’ Brown says. He says he’s invited all of the judges to tour the jail. ‘Many of them have accepted my invitation. I don’t recall this judge having done so,’ Brown said.” What would would a judge get out of a tour of the jail?
WaPo’s editorial board praises Virginia’s governor for making improvements to its services to ex-cons.
SLEEPER CAR: In the wake of last week’s incident involving a man found dead on the Red Line, WaPo’s Petula Dvorak tries to figure out what happens or doesn’t happen when people fall asleep on the Metro: “No one knows how many people passed Van Houter as he was slumped in his seat. The 52-year-old computer programmer boarded the train at the Twinbrook Station on the way to work as a government contractor. He died, presumably of natural causes, sometime between boarding the train for his morning commute and when a train operator found him in the Shady Grove rail yard in the afternoon. Things haven’t changed much in the ensuing week. There were 57 people in the car leaving Twinbrook this morning. There were no empty seats. A car full of humans and no human interaction. ‘Like him. I wouldn’t go wake him up,’ Ricki Peltzman said, looking over her paper at a man across the aisle. He had a salt-and-pepper brush cut, wore suspenders and looked to be about the age of Van Houter. He had nodded off and leaned forward, his forehead jiggling against the seat in front of him. No one, except for the little tourist boy in a matching shorts-and-shirt set, looked at one another on the train. Half the riders wore headphones; about a third were scrolling or thumb-tapping their PDAs. Hundreds of people must have walked past Van Houter, scrolling through Facebook updates about what their friends ate for breakfast or what they did over the weekend. There are TMI posts about body functions or Twitter confessions, kilobytes of intimate details swirling around us 24/7.”
METRO CUTBACKS: WaPo’s Ann Scott Tyson reports that Metro is cutting its services for the elderly and disabled. The reason is very Catch-22. The increased demand has made the program unsustainable: “The proposed changes would curtail service and toughen eligibility requirements. Rates for MetroAccess would rise to twice the comparable base bus fare, and the surcharge on longer trips would increase. If the bus fare increases, there would be a proportional increase in the paratransit fare. In addition, Metro plans to begin more rigorous screening of customers July 1, classifying them not only as “eligible” or “ineligible” but adding a category for those who are “conditionally” eligible….But customers and advocates for the disabled said the service cuts and fare increases would cause serious hardship for some of Metro’s most dependent riders. Moreover, they said, some of the changes could be difficult, if not impossible, to implement. Linda Lupaczyk is blind and depends on MetroAccess to get to her job at Home Depot, where she answers phones. Lupaczyk, who rents a room in Centreville and cannot afford her own residence, said that if MetroAccess raises fares, she will have to cut back on groceries.”
STEVIE WONDER: Hundreds of DCPS teachers will be losing out on free Stevie Wonder tickets. The tickets have been stolen. NC8 reports: “The concert was a goodbye gesture from the family of the late Abe Pollin, who built the Verizon Center, to the city’s public servants. After selling the Washington Wizards to Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis, the family arranged for the free concert, with TicketMaster designated to distribute the tickets to various city institutions — including police, fire, and schools. Each agency’s human resources department received a password to access their tickets online. At D.C. public schools, which received 1,500 tickets, somebody got the password and, as schools spokesperson Jennifer Calloway put it: “An unknown individual or individuals falsely claimed the vast majority of the tickets before DCPS could redeem and distribute them to teachers.”
RON MACHEN JR. Our new U.S. Attorney was sworn in yesterday in District Court. Legal Times reports: “On the sixth floor, in the ceremonial courtroom, Machen’s friends and family—and some 200 spectators—gathered for his formal installation as the top federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia. The former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner was confirmed for the post in February, replacing Jeffrey Taylor, who joined Ernst & Young. In remarks, Machen talked about what he called the long road here, which included a stint as a federal prosecutor in D.C. under then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder Jr. Machen said he was struck back then by Holder’s pride in representing D.C.—and, he joked, by the size of Holder’s office.”
ROBERT WONE: Read the latest from the trial.
MAYOR’S SCHEDULE: 10:30 a.m. Remarks Ribbon Cutting for Park Morton Playground Location: Park Morton 600 Block Park Rd. NW
3:30 p.m. Remarks Hilton Ribbon Cutting with Magic Johnson Location: Washington Hilton Hotel 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW