Going To The Mat Over Taxes: Loose Lips Daily
Mornin' all. Tons of news so lets get to it:
THE WORKOUT LOBBY LEAPS INTO ACTION: Yesterday, D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham received 2,689 e-mails from constituents. And Councilmember Mary Cheh says her office received about 2,000 e-mails. Did these legislators rail against the Tea Party? Did they make fun of Arizona's draconian anti-immigration law? Did they say they wanted to cut funding to after-school programs or health clinics? No. They were besieged by District residents who are perspiring profusely over the possibility that they may get taxed for their gym memberships and yoga classes. WaPo's Nikita Steward and Tim Craig chronicle the stuffed in-boxes down at the Wilson Building. Graham offers the key quote about the controversy: "Things have gotten a little uncorked here." LL Daily wonders where were these people when D.C. General was so overcrowded? Where where these people yesterday protesting the layoffs at CFSA? Is this what District residents really care about—yoga? Yes! Hundreds, thousands even spammed the D.C. Council to make sure they knew that they wanted their $18 hot yoga class to stay $18 and not $19.06 with a 6 percent DC sales tax of which $1.06 would go to pay for teachers and trash pickup and child care etc. [LL had help with that last sentence as he is is terrible with numbers]. The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute responds with a blog post defending the idea of a yoga tax. This all makes the great Susie Cambria sad.
Meanwhile, CFSA LAYS OFF MORE THAN 100 WORKERS: WaPo's Henri Cauvin reports on the scene at CFSA: "Social service assistants, who shuttle foster children to school, bring them to doctors appointments and do any number of things that social workers don't have time to do, were among the hardest hit, with all 57 of them losing their jobs. The mayor's proposed budget, released last month, projected CFSA job cuts, but it wasn't until Thursday that employees found out where the ax would fall. After learning of the layoffs at a 9 a.m. meeting at the CFSA's Southwest Washington headquarters, the social service assistants were told to clean out their desks. Throughout the morning, workers emerged on Sixth Street carrying boxes of belongings....'This is like a hospital, and they just cut all the nurses,' said Kina Cypress, a social worker in child protective services, which investigates abuse and neglect." The total number of employees laid off: 115. Along with social-service assistants, junior social workers and facility monitors were also axed. The silver lining: "A new position has been created to replace the social service assistants, a CFSA spokeswoman said. The new job, called a family support worker, will require a college degree, and the agency expects to begin hiring soon."
AFTER THE JUMP—WaPo gets tough on DYRS, Ron Moten Vs. SS, and Free Street Car rides might be in your future!
WAPO ED. BOARD VS. DYRS: WaPo's editorial board shocks all by finally addressing DYRS' problems. The board calls for an independent study in the wake of the Betts murders in which all three suspects where under some kind of DYRS supervision: "Community outcry about the competency of this agency in ensuring public safety is understandable. We share the concerns, and we believe it is time for an independent commission to review how the District and the court system handle juvenile offenders. Such a study could examine the untold successes of the city along with both the hidden and the very public failures. It could consider whether the secrecy that shrouds juvenile justice in the city serves more to protect children or shield the system. And it could recognize the progress we believe has been made in the past five years while considering, without defensiveness, further reforms that may be needed."
The board takes aim at the ridiculous confidentiality issues surrounding juvenile offenders: "UNFORTUNATELY, the District's strict confidentiality laws surrounding virtually every aspect of a juvenile case obscure many facts. We understand the importance of privacy for a child putting his or her life together after a youthful infraction, but what purpose is served by barring dissemination of information when, as in the case of these three men, there are adult charges of heinous wrongdoing? The absurdity of the city's law is reflected in the ability of Montgomery County to release the youths' arrest records even as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and his attorney general were criticized for merely disclosing the trio's connection to DYRS. Relaxing confidentiality rules should top the list of fixes to the system, but other areas bear examination. It has been a decade since the blue-ribbon commission that led to the reforms at the heart of today's system, so it is time for review and possible course correction." Amen. The Examiner's Harry Jaffe gets AG Peter Nickles to say on the record that juvenile confidentiality is problem that needs addressing.
THE INEVITABLE PEACEOHOLICS CONNECTION: WaPo had reported that all three suspects attended a Peaceoholics retreat in Southern Maryland just days before Betts' murder: "Ronald Moten, the group's cofounder, said that all three arrived April 10 and participated in group discussions about violence. Moten said that they seemed nice and that he was particularly impressed with Lancaster. 'He voluntarily cleaned the whole compound,' Moten said. The three left that night. After the retreat, two of them attended a follow-up session. 'We haven't seen them since,' Moten said. Five days after the retreat, Betts was dead. Moten went into more detail with City Desk's Rend Smith yesterday: "Though he won't say which one, Moten suggests the nonprofit had extensive experience with one of the murder suspects for at least six months prior to the retreat and phone call. 'We stayed on top of him,' Moten says. The youth eventually left the program, he adds, but maintained a relationship with his former case worker."
Police Union Chief Kristopher Baumann e-mailed LL to say that Moten's group is actually being paid by the District to find absconders and bring them back to DYRS. Moten testified on the subject at a hearing last year. Baumann writes:
"On June 10, 2009, Well’s committee held a hearing on DYRS. It was unbelievable. (I know watching old hearings can be a drag, but it is worth it.) Testifying in support of Schiraldi and DYRS were several non-profit groups (Peaceaholics, Concerned Men, etc) that testified that they were receiving “grants” from DYRS to go track down absconders and talk them in to returning to DYRS. Of course, they had no statistics (e.g., number of absconders returned, etc.) but that was what DYRS was paying them to do (they also apparently have office space at DYRS). These are essentially earmarks, but are being done by the Executive so they are called grants, with no oversight, no reports required. Worse they are giving money to groups to do the work the police should be doing (the word on the street is that DYRS did not want the MPD knowing how many absconders existed because it might be leaked and would not match the numbers they have been reporting)."
None of this latest controversy will help Moten vs. Sandra Seegars. This week Moten took Seegars to court, slapping the political activist/gadfly with a libel suit. Seegars is taking her message to the streets (!) with a press conference today at 11 a.m. in front of 1300 Congress Street SE. SS spammed LL too many times to just ignore and delete her press release. Here it is:
"ANC Commissioner Seegars and the opponents of the Peaceoholics’ are holding this conference regarding the Peaceoholics attempt to ignore the law and open some sort of group home/youth facility/community residential facility/independent living facility/condominium at 1300 Congress St., SE DC 20032 will be speaking out against it.
The government, Mayor, Ward 8 Councilmember and Department of Housing and Community Development are ignoring the complaints by the ANC Commissioners and the community. In light of the recent incident, whereas, Ronald Moten, Peaceoholics, admitted that he allowed fugitives to participate in his program, under his direct supervision, without first getting a clearance on the alleged murderers of a school teacher. The immediate neighbors to 1300 Congress St., have grown more frighten of the mystery facility that is underway to open there by the negligent, untrained, hotheaded maverick.
Moreover, it will be a violation of Title 11, whereas, facilities shall not be within 500 feet of each other, and there are already 4 next to 1300 Congress St., SE. DHCD has already violated the ANC law, whereas, they are supposed to notify the commission, commissioner of the affected area and the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commission by first class mail before actions are taken to dispense funds for a project in such district.
They will be asking for investigations on the Peaceoholics involvement with the alleged murderers, the loan from the Department of Housing and Community Development, their non profit status, and they will be asking the DC City Council to stop funding them without a competitive bid process – in an effort to get the most qualified entity to provide services for troubled youth and young adults."
Meanwhile, Moten made some shocking comments yesterday on NC8's NewsTalk.
AGENT ZERO ALMOST OUT OF THE CLINK: Arenas is nearing the end of his halfway house stint. I wonder if he pranked any of his housemates. Apparently, he played cards and basketball.
NICKLES VS. BARRY: The Examiner's Bill Myers has more on the battle between two of our most stubborn politicos.
FREE STREETCARS? WTOP's Adam Tuss reports that streetcar rides may be free in some parts of the District: Once the streetcars get rolling, some riders may actually be able to get on and off at their leisure, knowing that they will not have to pay a dime, WTOP has learned. 'It is certainly possible that in certain areas of the city it would be free,' DDOT Director Gabe Klein tells WTOP. 'And we like that, because the point of this is to stimulate growth and move people between neighborhoods. So we are going to look at a structure where people feel comfortable hopping on and off, maybe many times in an hour.'"
WE NEED MORE YOGA: NC8/WJLA reports on a study showing that 20 percent of District residents are obese: "Women make up 25.1 percent of the city's obese population, while men were at 18.9 percent. The report found women were more likely to be obese than men. The wards with the most grocery stores, organic food and farmers markets, Wards 2 and 3, had the lowest rates of obesity. Ward 8 had the fewest healthy food options and had the highest rate of obesity. To combat the problem, city officials put together the Action Plan, an effort to engage the wards where obesity rates were the highest." Meanwhile, a Top Chef judge promotes creating more food jobs (NBC4)
A D.C. Police Officer was found dead in his apartment Thursday morning, WTOP reports.
10:45 a.m., Remarks South Dakota Avenue Bridge Ribbon Cutting
Location: 2700 South Dakota Avenue, NE
4:00 p.m. Remarks All Hands on Deck
Location: 600 block of 46th Place, SE
D.C. COUNCIL SCHEDULE:
10 a.m. Budget Request and Support Act hearings.
KOJO: "The Politics Hour gang sits down with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells."