City Desk

The Meaning Behind Today’s Human Safety Net Protest

At 8:30 this morning, Save Our Safety Net organizers will be surrounding the Wilson Building with what they are calling a "human safety net." City Desk reached out to the Net's media rep Joni Podschun to explain the meaning behind their latest protest. She responded via e-mail with the details.

So how many humans will it take to form a complete "human safety net" around city hall?

"We've calculated that it is 900 feet around the Wilson building, so with people and banners and nets we expect 200 people will wrap it up nicely," Podschun replied.

What would you say to Jack Evans and Vince Gray to get them to join your human chain? Podschun wrote:

"Jack Evans is just not going to be convinced on this issue. I don't know if he truly believes the preposterous notion that wealthy people will leave rather than pay a few hundred dollars more, but nobody else we've talked to believes it, even the people who object to our proposal because they think the Government should eliminate all waste before raising taxes. The latter is not a position we find to be especially reasonable or moral, but at least it has some sort of logic to it.

Vince Gray has worked in social services for most of his career — he has arguably done as much for our safety net as anyone on Council. In his campaign speeches, he likes to tout the revenue-generating measures that Council took last year — the cigarette and sales tax increases, which all disproportionately affected low- and middle-income DC residents. Here we're proposing to rescue the damaged safety net in a truly progressive way. This would hardly pinch a small portion of DC's population, but it's a major opportunity to demonstrate the leadership that Gray likes to say that DC needs."

How did you decide on a human safety net? Podschun wrote:

"We all benefit from a strong safety net, whether or not we use these services. This action features DC residents from all walks of life and all corners of the city, joining together to form a safety net around the building. It also creates a beautiful demonstration that Councilmembers can't avoid as they arrive for their meetings on the budget. Our city has some of the worst income disparity in the country, and reversing that begins here. So we'll join together to call upon Councilmembers to be smart, responsible, and courageous."

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  • Support Safety Nets Now!

    The only way to have a fair and honest safety net is to increase DC's income and property tax.

    The strategy of taxing soda per ounce, or the rumored 1 cent per French Fry tax that is circulating around City Hall, is a totally unacceptable method for increasing tax revenue.

    That said, I can see real value in special taxes as a way to encourage DC residents to improve their health and lifestyles (Bag Tax hooray!), but it is clear that these are regressive taxes.

    But I have to admit as being perplexed by the proposed tax on theater tickets and health care memberships. Why tax French Fries and health care memberships? Why not tax cupcakes instead, especially those very rich frosty ones? Wouldn't that be better than theater tickets? What am I missing? What behavior are we trying to change through taxes?

  • Rick Mangus

    I would like to know where these, 'Support Safety Nets Now', clowns live? In case you haven't been in touch with reality, the TAX PAYERS in this city and around this country are fed-up with paying more taxes for stupid and wasteful city projects and spending. TAX PAYERS are also tired of the nanny state mentality of liberal politicians who think they know what better for you and want to get into ALL aspects of you life!

  • anon

    Have you stopped to think that, in fact, what liberal politicians are trying to do is do what is best for the majority of people? Not just what is better for you? And, in the case of Washington, D.C. the majority of people are low-income folks who have been severely affected by the recession. And, that only 5% of DC taxpayers would be affected by the SOS proposed tax increase. And, that leaves 95% of DC taxpayers, many of whom could benefit from the SOS proposal?

    So you are fed up with high-taxes, Rick? Think about those who are fed up with moving from crappy apartment to crappy apartment because their housing subsidies have stopped coming in. Think about those who are fed up with waiting for their Social Security Disability Benefits to be approved and in the interim have been living on IDA on the couch of a friend. Maybe once you think about all of those people, and there are a lot of them in this city of economic disparity, then you will stop thinking about yourself for a second and realize that we need increased revenue in DC, and the money is held by a few. We need to go where the money is.

    Welcome to the reality of the other 95%, Rick.

    -SOS Supporter

  • Rick Mangus

    Again, and again, and again we the TAX PAYERS of this city are sick and tired of the lose and wasteful spending of OUR MONEY by the liberal democrats in power! Let me tell you something, the group you support favors the bag tax, which has hit folks on public assistance the most, even at five cents per bag! The winds of change are here, I just hope the people in this city are part of it!

  • Tasty Snatch

    Do any of these safety net people have real jobs?

  • Rick Mangus

    'Tasty Snatch', the answer to your question is, NO!, plus they don't even live in DC so it's easy for them say, "Raise Taxes"! Who in hell appointed them to be a voice for anyone in OUR city!

  • Socialazier

    DC has the largest per resident budget in the entire country. On a $9.5 billion dollar annual budget for 600k residents, each person would get about $15k. Now, let's take NY City, which has significantly better social services than DC, and compare per resident budgets. Each NY City resident gets about $3500 per resident. That's almost 1/5 our budget, yet we can't even provide half the things NY does. Come on, it's a matter of what this City prioritizes. Education, check (but still the worst math and reading levels in the ENTIRE COUNTRY). First Responders, check (yet, we still have some of the worst crime stats). Health, check (yet, we have the highest HIV/AIDS per resident population in the ENTIRE COUNTRY). DC needs to really focus on what's a priority and what is just stupid spending ($400k on a dog park?). Come on.

  • Tasty Snatch


    Co-sign. And it's STILL not enough for the bleeding heart deadbeats.

    It's easy to say raise taxes when you aren't the one paying any of them. I'm not saying that the budget needs to be balanced without adversely affecting the city's neediest, but the government has to get out of the business of depriving some of the poor people the right to self-determination.

  • anon

    Tasty Snatch and Rick,

    I suppose you have met all of us SOS supporters who don't live in DC and don't have jobs, have you? That's funny, because I would remember if I met people as nasty and ignorant as you two appear to be in this situation. Alas, I don't remember meeting you. If we had met, you would see that, in fact, I do have a job, as do most of the other SOS volunteers, and...gasp...we do live in the District. Oh, and -- many of us make over $200,000. We just happen to feel a sense of responsibility for protecting our neighbors. I hope you are never a neighbor of mine in need, because I'd probably help you, but you don't seem to deserve it.

    An SOS supporter.

    p.s. Tasty Snatch and Rick would make a great name for a porno.

  • anon

    Oh and PS. Many of us "clowns" and "deadbeats" have jobs with organizations that work to help the people who are directly affected by cuts in social services. I'd say by definition that makes us "productive members of society" -- the antithesis of deadbeats.

  • Socialazier

    Anon- I respect what you all do and understand the quandry that this budget fiasco puts you and the people you serve in. But DC has a huge budget, astronomical in fact. If we can't manage this much money, what makes you feel that a million more or .01 percent more will make a difference. Attack Fenty's contracts to his cronies (excess of $87 million for just one them), his penchant for unnecessary public work projects (dog parks, heated swimming pools so that he can train for tri-athalons). Why tax anyone when we have the funds. It's just a matter of priorities.

  • anon

    Socialazier, you make a good point. Part of the SOS mission is to make sure that when our proposal passes (oh, it will pass), that the Mayor and City Council are very, very aware of the fact that we are holding them accountable. We will do everything in our power to make sure that the $50 million generated from our proposal will be put towards services, like IDA, that are most in need. And, do our best to make sure that the new Mayor (oh, there will be a new mayor) does not throw away $400,000 on a new dog park.

  • Rick Mangus

    'anon' let me try to explain it so your limited mental capacity can understand. You and your socialist friends are dinosaurs, and you just don't get it! The middle class is tired of TAX and SPEND, that came out in yesterday's primarys, or can you understand how to turn on a television or radio! As far as the money you all make, as you claim,"many of us make over $200.000", then why not give 60% of your salary to the city. Go down to the DC Office of Tax and Revenue and give Dr. Gandhi your money, which is generated by grants anyway!

    So go give the city MORE OF YOUR MONEY, it's a simple case of put your money were your mouth is, or shut the fuck-up!

  • Rick Mangus

    Oh, by the way, your little protest was such a hit that the media didn't even give it a mention, dumb ass!

  • downtown rez

    I recognize that, somehow, the demand for social services continues to outstrip the supply. This despite the fact that we spend something like 30% of our local tax dollar budget on human services and have spent at those levels (or more!) for decades. According to DC Fiscal Policy Institute, human services were cut less harshly in the 2010 budget than any other area of government spending, with the single exception of schools.
    I believe that by focusing our available funds on improving schools, libraries, sports, parks, etc, we will lay the foundation for not having this discussion 10 or 20 years from now.
    It's a sacrifice, but we will be laying a sound foundation for the future. Something we've unfortunately avoided doing since home rule was instituted.

  • anon


    A good argument does not come from attacking your opponent. It comes from facts and reasoning. But, since this has already devolved into something very far from a worthwhile debate, let me just say that you sound like a raging, ignorant, empty asshole, and I don't see a point in hashing this out with you. We will never see eye-to-eye.

    I feel at ease knowing that if I ever fall-down, there are lots of people out there who will help me up, because I have helped them. Whereas, for you, I forsee you spinning around on the ground like a turtle upturned, with your legs flailing, while everyone walks past you and pretends you don't exist -- because that is what you are doing to our most-in need residents. Karma is a bitch.

    Good luck with all your anger issues.

  • Rick Mangus

    'anon', you are a PHONY! and a HYPOCRITE!, deal with it!