Loose Lips

Mary Cheh: It’s Tommy’s Fault!

Who is to blame for the current state of budget upheaval in District government over when/whether to implement a new tax on municipal bonds? Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh says all arrows point to Ward 6 Councilmartyr Tommy Wells.

Wells, you probably don't recall, upset Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown's plans to pass a tax on municipal bonds, then quickly get rid of said tax once higher revenue projections were announced. Thanks to a rare cut-on-the-dais deal with Councilmember Vincent Orange, Wells was able to keep the bond tax permanent with a 7-6 vote.

Plenty of people do not like said tax, so some councilmembers began looking at ways to ditch it. Before last month's final legislative session, Cheh floated the idea of replacing the bond tax with an income tax increase on residents making $350,000-a-year or more. But Cheh never introduced the proposal, saying she knew it was a dead fish that didn't have enough votes.

Only problem is, according to multiple council sources: Cheh did have enough votes to do it, and she knew it.

A couple of councilmembers say (privately) that Cheh wanted to introduce an amendment calling for a tax hike in order to mollify the social service advocates who were calling for increased taxes over cuts to social services. But Cheh never intended for her proposal to pass.

The problem with Cheh's apparent plan was that the mayor, who supported an income tax increase on people making $200,000 or more, had his staff whip up enough votes to support Cheh's proposal. That left Cheh little choice but to kill her own amendment before even introducing it.

"I was puzzled as to why the amendment was not moved because it appeared to have support of the majority of the council," Gray wrote in a letter to the council today, essentially calling Cheh out. Gray just vetoed the budget proposal Cheh did introduce and get passed, which delays the implementation of the bond tax. Gray says he too, would rather see the income tax hike.

But Cheh says that version of events is not true. Cheh says the real reason she didn't move her amendment last month was because she was afraid that a tax-happy councilmember or two may have tried to alter it to either include both an income tax hike and a bond tax, or tried to lower the threshold on the income tax hike.

“All sort of variations were being floated and it became untenable," says Cheh.

She says she's still prepared to swap the bond tax for an income tax increase on those making $350,000 or more, as long as she gets assurances from her colleagues that they won't try any funny business.

Which brings us back to Wells. Cheh says it should be noted that we wouldn't even still be talking about bond taxes if wasn't for Wells and the stunt he pulled making the bond tax permanent. And she says his "shocking behavior" when he openly bargained with Orange was what led her to believe she couldn't introduce her amendment without it being tampered with.

"What I saw with Tommy Wells, I found shocking," Cheh says. "Now what I see with the pocket veto, I don’t know who I can rely on."

But Wells will have none of it, saying Cheh's accusations are "silly."

“If they want to blame me for calling them on their game, I’m guilty, but the mayor called them out too," says Wells.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • hymesb

    Oh Mary,

    Politics, politics, politics, never know who to trust do you.

    Gray just snatched the rug from under you.

    Can't beleive I am saying this...Good Job Mayor.

  • DC Resident

    Let's play a little Occam's Razor: What ward has the highest concentration of $350k+ earning residents? Who's their councilmember?

    I really doubt Cheh ever truly wanted to saddle a tax hike on her wealthy constituents. It's much more believable that she floated the idea to assuage that famous liberal Ward 3 guilt, but always planned to scotch it before it became law.

    For Cheh to point at Wells--and the still warm knife planted squarely in his back-- and say she can't trust the council is particularly rich.

  • hymesb

    Oh, and Councilman Che,

    Either way, you just got caught lying.

    Either one or the other of your statements are true.

    The other, by necessity, false.

    Either a) you knew that you didnt have the votes.

    Or, b) you were afraid of the amendments that you ASSUMED Mr. Wells MIGHT make.

    Both can't be true. You lied one way or the other.

    The only other option is.....you lied both times.

    Anyway, my civc duty has been served for the day!

    Mary, please quit. You are a turn coat and a manipulator.

    Why don't you just ask for confidentiality agreements next time you run a scam... like I read Mayor Gray has asked his senior staff to sign.

    What a bunch of thieves!!!

  • DC Guy

    At the end of the day, none of this matters. The Council has passed a probably illegal retroactive tax on senior citizens who have invested in these instruments on the faith and reliability of city law, which has exempted them.

    If the Council wants to pass a tax, that is fine. Make it for any bond purchased after September 1, 2011 or some other date when the law in enacted. However, to pass any sort of retroactive tax on bonds purchased in good faith, where DC residents are relying on the investment to enable them to continue to live in the District, pay property taxes, sales taxes and all sorts of other taxes, is arbitrary and probably will be challenged by both the Republican congress and in the legal system.

    As it is, there are a bunch of residents who are not sure if they were supposed to pay estimated taxes on the incomes already accrued. It is a complete and total mess and sends a horrible signal to anyone who might be investing in a home, business or other asset in the city.

  • Tedder

    Wells is a self-righteous PRICK. I would love nothing more than to take his snotty little Tweets and stick em where the sun dont shine!

  • StrangeFruit

    Wells is fraud who believes the media hype about him being the stand-out leader of the rat pack.

    I watched several hearings where the southern, grandstanding daddy pissed on all his colleagues. I'm not surprised that not one of his colleagues on the dais voted in solidarity with Wells.

  • RT

    Cheh is a C__T. Can't believe the self-loathing Ward 3 idiots would vote for this selfish conniving bitch. She and Wells are made for each other though- self-loathing limousine liberals. It's hilarious watching them go at it these days. What unlikely rivals

  • ItsOnlyCauseImBLACK

    Mary, Mary, why you bugging?

    Mary, Mary, give Tommy some loving!
    You got off that last sucker punch good
    Tommy's boxed in, influence limited to his hood
    Reigning queen of green, smart growth, doggie parks, and conniving
    Mary, Mary, give Tommy some loving!

    Mary, Mary...why you bugging?

  • Skipper

    In a battle bwteeen Gray, Cheh, Kwame and Tommy, it's hard to know who to root for, since they're all idiots.

  • DCCommish

    @ DC Guy-- ok so you've been getting away without paying income tax on the revnue from those bonds. The only place in America you can do it! Congress has passsed late taxes all the time! so the Retroactive thing is bull. Besides, it's been in the news for ages so if you are a bond holder you have been on notice! Finally the Tax is a DC tax not a federal and the under estimated taxes are not going to apply to your DC return, and I'm sure it's not the only income that bonds holders have.

  • Truth Hurts

    Payback's a bitch.

    This is the same ward 3 CM who publicly exonerated Gray (because he's such a staight shooter) while she was leading the council's chaotic "investigation" of his administration's shady hiring practices.

    It's also the same ward 3 CM who recently called for Gray's BFF Harry "f... the kids" Thomas to resign his council seat. Gray, of course, is standing by his lowlife BFF, in contrast to the ward 3 CM.

    Payback's a bitch.

  • ColorMeSkeptical

    So DC is the only US jurisdiction that doesn't tax the interest on out-of-state muni bonds. Honestly, I'm not sure why we're closing this loophole. People typically invest in munis because they are tax free. If DC closes the loophole, do they really think the DC residents who had been investing in out-of-state munis will start investing in DC munis given the precarious state of District finances and the staggering ineptitude of our elected (Mayor/Council) and appointed (CFO) officials?

    Any bond traders out there want to give more info on how DC munis have performed vs other munis and whether there have been any significant defaults?

  • ColorMeSkeptical

    Higher taxes for crappier public services - Ward 3's nightmare. I wish I could place a wager on whether Cheh will win in her next run or whether her constituents will punish her for her choices.

  • stinkinthinkin

    I thought we uneducated PeeGee County voters put in the worst politicians in the DMV,especially the Negro kind. But DC has its share thankfully to decelerate our decline except you guys got dumb Negroes and Hillbillies in DC.

  • DCDem

    @stinkinthinking the only dumb negro and/or hillbilly would be the unfortunate streetwalker & pimp who spurned your retarded ass.

  • Skipper

    Don't only around half of all states tax municipal bonds to begin with?

    And how many DC muni bond choices are there? Rhode Island is the tiniest state, yet I believe they have about 100 times more bond options than DC.

  • Bob

    Looks like Comrade Che(h) has fallen out of love with the Ol' Gray May'r.

  • Isn’t It Obvious

    Hey all, is it just me or does anyone else think that the CFO should be an elected official. That way, they have to answer to the residents and tax payers and not give false and manipulated numbers because the politicians want them too. Ghandi has got to go!

  • Isn’t It Obvious

    Correction: Hey all, is it just me or does anyone else think that the CFO should be an elected official? That way, s/he would have to answer to the residents and tax payers and not give false and manipulated numbers because the politicians want them too. Ghandi has got to go!

  • seDCdude

    DCDEM, LOL!!! Good stuff!

    Good for em, nothing better than to see ALL skeletons present themselves front and center and NOT hideout in that closet of self righteousness, pompous, arrogance and deflection!!!

    THs, I see your azz hasn't recovered from all the feet you've recently had hung all up in it, you stay tying your stupid talking points about Gray...get over it fool yuppy!

    Fenty was the problem and believe it or not, all this garbage stems from HIS administration, FACT!

    He did so much dirt till these retarded CMs thought it was a brand new day and safe for them all to follow suit of last administration and raid the coffers with their filthy paws!


  • ColorMeSkeptical

    @seDCdude - give it up. Your constant attempts to lay blame anywhere but at the feet of the current crop of fraudsters and scam artists running this city is comical, but also highly insulting to the intelligence of even the average commenter on here. Give it a rest and start focusing on what needs to be done to stop this city from being a national laughingstock. You are part of the problem, it's a shame you can't see that.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ CMS: No, he/she doesn't see that. Only sees Fenty behind every stupid (or worse) thing that current DC's pols do. Arguing with sedudster is like debating a hearing impaired grandpa.

  • LongTimeRez


    From the 5-11-2011 Auditor's Report on the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization


    ...the Auditor compared OPEFM vendor payments with contract and procurement files for Turner Construction and found that OPEFM files did not include 6 purchase orders and supporting documentation for $5,553,608 in payments to Turner.

    The Auditor found that OPEFM's contract and procurement files for RBK Landscaping and Construction (RBK--owned by MD resident, former Fenty "chauffeur" and BFF Keith Lomax) did not include 6 purchase orders and supporting documentation for payments totaling $9,756,525 to RBK.

    Based on a review of vendor pay requests contained in 14 PM project files, the Auditor found a total of $238 million in expenditures based on vendor pay requests for FY 08 and FY 09. However, OPEFM reported to the Council of the District of Columbia, in April 2010, that expenditures for the 14 projects during the same fiscal years totaled $270 million. Thus, there was a $31 million difference between the total project expenditures reported by OPEFM to the Council and actual vendor pay requests contained in DCPEP PM project files.

  • seDCdude

    @ colorU

    How bout changing that to collarme, or colormestupid, or paintthetownwithidioticbanter/rhetoric

    Ayy look'a here mane, FACTS speak for themselves and Fenty's unregulated, turn a blind eye politics has us in the mess we are in now!

    It's a FACT he was knowledgeable of the thievery because he was stealing too. You can dressup lies and red herrings to fit your argument all you like, but as Longtime has posted, the proof is in the pudding...

    As for The, you are now LL's most prolific coward, next to Ward 1

  • Bob

    @ Isn't It Obvious

    If the CFO or Attorney General, for that matter, were elected unfortunately it would just create another political perch for some aspiring, not very competent, perpectual candidate. Do you think that Michael ("Gamblin' Man") Brown, Harry ("I admit nothing") Thomas or Vincent ("Always Runnin' for Sumthin'") Orange would have the skills, smarts (or ethics) for such roles?

  • DCDem

    Yes, Bob, and neither would Phil, Jack, Mary, Tommy or David.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ LongTimeRez: I read the auditor's report and related attachments linked in comment #23. I agree the report suggests improprieties. I'm puzzled, though, as to why you're not criticizing Kwame Brown, Mayor Gray, and the current AG for their inaction.

    The report was generated in May, 2011. It was sent to Kwame Brown (as council chair) and to OPEFM, run by Gray's people. But Gray's administration filed written challenges (via Gray's city administrator Lew)to the auditor's findings, and Gray's AG (Nathan) has initiated no followup, presumably because he's toeing the Gray administration's line thus far.

    In short, it's the responsibility of Gray, Brown, et al, to move forward at this point. But they apparently disagree with the auditor and aren't doing anything about her report. Not saying I agree with their inaction, but the ball's in their court, not the prior administration.

  • LongTimeRez


    LOLOL... The sniping and moaning seem to stop when the recent Auditor's report on Allen Lew's stewardship of the "Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization" is cited. As you said, it's impossible to dispute the facts, particularly from such an impeccable source.

    There will come a time when those involved will have to account for the missing $31 million that should have gone to the kids.

  • Truth Hurts

    free me from the m..line

  • Anonymous, Too


    So how much are DC taxpayers forking over per year to have you troll the message boards and post your distractions?