Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Spending money, honestly and otherwise


Photo by markb120 on Flickr.
The day in ethics: Most witnesses criticized the proposed DC ethics bill for not doing enough or creating unneeded bureaucracy. (DCist) ... The OCF complaint against Kwame Brown raises criminal as well as civil issues (Examiner) ... Should councilmembers have to reveal their tax returns? (Harry Jaffe)

Health and taxes up for debate: Today is the final DC budget vote. $45 million for Medicaid-related programs has jumped ahead of police and affordable housing in the line for future revenues. Jack Evans wants to prioritize restoring the bond tax exemption, while Mary Cheh suggests switching it back to an income tax but only on incomes over $400,000. (Post)

Not just a political prop: A DC senior citizen objects to Jack Evans' arguments saying the bond tax would hurt seniors. She notes that seniors with many municipal bonds aren't the ones "just scraping by." (Poverty & Policy)

He messed with the wrong cyclist: A driver deliberately tapped a woman on a bike with his cartwice. Unfortunately for him, she's a cop. She called it in and officers ended up finding drugs and more as well as charging him with assault. (A Girl and Her Bike)

Labor dispute delays ART: Many ART drivers didn't come to work yesterday due to a labor dispute with the private operator, and that's continuing today. All routes but the 61B are still running but there will be delays. (Post)

US Open still punishing Metro riders: Liz Farmer also notices the injustice in asking Metro riders to pay $8 to get to the US Open while parking 15 miles away is free. A transportation consultant doesn't understand the problem. (Examiner)

Hybrid trains?: Philadelphia will install batteries on many of their trains their tracks to capture energy when a train brakes for a stop. Metro is studying the same idea. (NYT)

And...: A 90-year-old man still farms a 1-acre plot right by Downtown Silver Spring (Post) ... PriceWaterhouseCoopers made a video about their employees who bike commute ... Police district changes include Dupont and Fort Dupont. (LITV, Borderstan)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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I really miss the guy who used to have a great garden near the site of the National Stadium in Near Southwest.

by glenn on Jun 14, 2011 8:56 am • linkreport

Actually, it looks as if the striking drivers have all been fired.

Interesting datapoint: ART has about 9000 riders a day.

Compare to bikeshare, which maybe has about 3000 a day right now. Again, a good way to think of bikeshare is it serves as many people as a small bus line. Surprising to me is probably costs about the same as well, but geographically scales better.

Now, if only Arlington would better integrate bikeshare station locations and ART/Metrobus lines...biking can be a great last mile solution.

by charlie on Jun 14, 2011 9:03 am • linkreport

The tax proposal now is to exempt interest on bonds acquired before a certain date and tax interest only on bonds acquired after that date. But that will be a nightmare for tax preparation (as well as for city tax auditors), because nowhere on the Form 1099-INT or in most monthly brokerage account statements does it say when a bond was acquired, so it will be time-consuming and burdensome to figure out whether any particular interest income is grandfathered or not. As a CPA, I guess I should like being able to charge more for a DC tax return - but really, that is not the way to write a tax provision. Keep it simple - either tax all non-DC muni bond interest, or tax none of it.

by CPA on Jun 14, 2011 9:11 am • linkreport

That Girl on Bike link is a must-read. Wow.

Motorist/criminal bumps a cyclist with his car. Twice. Lots of good tips from a Girl on a Bike who happens to be a cop and a damn good blogger.

She needs people to fill the courtroom on August 19th to show the judge that motorists bumping cyclists has an impact on victims.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jun 14, 2011 9:24 am • linkreport

The bond exemption should be continued. Despite claims from the CFO, DC bonds are too thinly traded to have any meaningful market. Further, the way this was done has eliminated any ability for seniors or others concerned about the issue to receive a fair hearing on the matter.

The Council should repeal this tax proposal now, but if it wants to re-implement at a later date, there should be fair and public hearings. To me, that is the bigger issue, than the tax itself.

by Andrew on Jun 14, 2011 9:32 am • linkreport

Wes Guckert is a long-time opponent of the Purple Line. Years ago (before the age of web links) he wrote a report for the opponents. Here he says recently that BRT would be better.

by Ben Ross on Jun 14, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

Should councilmembers have to reveal their tax returns?

No. Nobody should. I don't understand why politicians do this. Their income is irrelevant to the policies they present and try to legislate.

by Jasper on Jun 14, 2011 9:47 am • linkreport

Just a quick note, the NYT article about SEPTA is introduced slightly incorrectly: the batteries will be installed track-side, not on the trains. The same proposal is being evaluated at WMATA, too.

by MDE on Jun 14, 2011 10:01 am • linkreport

The golf thing I still thing is understandable. It was my understanding at the time that the organization in question had leased the facility, and the parking was theirs to offer at little or no *additional* cost to them due to a deal with the county. However, to run shuttle buses, they had to pay the bus provider. Therefore if they wanted to let people park for free, the additional cost to them was $0. If they wanted to provide buses, they had to pay for it. Why give them slack for acting logically? The real issue, which should be no surprise to anyone here, is why people feel entitled to free parking, and treat it as though they should always be free (in this case Montgomery County giving away an expensive commodity).

by J on Jun 14, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

J: They're providing buses from Gaithersburg as well. Those buses take longer. Why are they asking people to pay for one set of buses but not the other set?

by David Alpert on Jun 14, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

@J

Both the free parking lots AND the metro station require shuttle buses to transport people to the actual venue. In addition, the free parking lots are FURTHER from the venue than the Metro station.

It's not like the parking is AT Congressional and you just walk.

by MLD on Jun 14, 2011 10:34 am • linkreport

@Jasper,

It is pretty astounding that you would think that. Their income and the way they spend their own money is completely relevant to the policies they present.

Our own Council Chair Kwame Brown, the man in charge of the 5 billion dollar DC budget and its thousands of pages of complexity is up to his eyeballs in debt, buying cars, boats and motorycycles on credit and has been repeatedly sued by credit card companies to reclaim the 50K still outstanding. The man can't balance his own checkbook and keep a simple household budget and we expect him to manage the Districts?

Councilman Harry Thomas, the same man the District of Columbia (his employer) is suing for using city coffers as his own piggy bank is in his second round of being sued by the IRS for unpaid debts going back ~15 years.

Councilman Michael Brown was slapped with a federal lien years ago for 50K in unpaid income taxes.

Councilman Barry is in hoc to both the District and the Feds for a total of nearly 200K in unpaid tax debt. This ofcourse doesn't count the tens of thousands in credit card debt he has been behind on for years.

How none of this is relevant to you is both disappointing and sad. How can anyone expect any of these clowns to do professionally what they can't do for themselves?

Hence, the city being up to its eyeballs in scandal with these same four clowns.

by freely on Jun 14, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

If not all the minutiae, we should know
(a) any history of financial or legal problems
(b) assets
(c)investments they have and how much they make from them, and so whether there is some conflict of interest.

A lot of jobs in the private sector require you to disclose similar things. Even junior lawyers have to disclose (a). and (b),(c) to the extent that it might affect their independence.

by SJE on Jun 14, 2011 10:46 am • linkreport

WMATA's fleet is not equipped with regenerative breaking, it is equipped with dynamic breaking. The propulsion hardware would have to be modified to put the power back into the third rail to recharge line side batteries.

As side note: When The New York Central electrified Grand Central Terminal they install batteries to supplement the power distribution system during times of peak load. There was no such thing as regenerative breaking back then. The batteries were recharged during times of low power loads.

by Sand Box John on Jun 14, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

DC Councilmembers aren't required to show tax returns?

WOW!

Not even financial disclosure forms?

by HogWash on Jun 14, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

My biggest nit-pick with the golf is that the county has expressed concern over the additional traffic. While I hated having to give out an extra 8 bucks for the metro shuttle (btw, I paid a hair over $100 for my all day ticket to Friday's round), I acknowledge the organizers can do whatever they want. What bugs me is to say you're concerned about traffic and then give people a financial incentive to drive!

by Jeff on Jun 14, 2011 11:50 am • linkreport

Oh, weird. I always assumed that Metro's railcars used regenerative braking. How would the batteries be superior to NYC's system that just pumps the power right back into the grid? Will the 7000-series or 4000-series rebuild include this feature?

(Also, are these batteries or supercapacitors? The super-fast charge/discharge rates seem to suggest the latter, or some sort of hybrid solution. Also, I guess that Metro would need to put these aboveground, or find some space down in the tunnels...)

Still, if it uses less energy and pays for itself, that sounds like a win-win.

by andrew on Jun 14, 2011 11:56 am • linkreport

@ freely:Their income and the way they spend their own money is completely relevant to the policies they present.

No. It is not. You continue to list financial missteps of CMs, which are very relevant. But I would not know how someone being sued by a credit card company shows up on your tax forms. Barry doesn't even file tax forms. What point is there then asking for them?

@ SJE: If not all the minutiae, we should know
(a) any history of financial or legal problems
(b) assets
(c)investments they have and how much they make from them, and so whether there is some conflict of interest.

(a) is relevant, but you don't need tax forms. Credit reports would be more relevant. (b) & (c) are only relevant for conflict of interest issues. Personally, I would not want those published, but recorded by a external legal person/institution whose job it is to prevent conflicts of interest. Make it so that they have a financial interest in finding conflicts of interest. They can publish data if the CM protests the supposed conflict of interest.

by Jasper on Jun 14, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

This topic appears to be dead, but if anyone wanted to register a polite complaint with the USGA they could tweet them at @USOpenGolf

by Jeff on Jun 14, 2011 5:13 pm • linkreport

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