Battle With the Bloviate – Hannity Ripped By Norton-Holmes

Hannity gets miffed Eleanor Holmes-Norton, the Congressional Representative from Washington, DC won’t all into debating his racist baiting…

Hannity tries to use a tried conservatwerp racist technique, which is to try and force the other person to argue on behalf of their racist imagination. Ergo – to become the perfect foil for their poor argument. Holmes sticks to her guns…And Hannity looks like a fool.

Way to go, Congresswoman!

Former DC Mayor Marion Barry Dead

Controversial DC Mayor Marion Barry has passed away…

To a lot of the residents of the DC area, Barry represented both some of the best of the area, and some of the worst.

Getting the Criminals Off the Streets in DC…Means Arresting the Police

Big City…Big Crime. Corruption on the part of Civil employees is a threat in any government. When it is the Police though, it has an impact on community trust and impacts the ability of the good cops to do their job.

The District of Columbia has more policemen per capita than any city in the world. Between the dozen or so local and Federal Police Departments (FBI, Secret Service, Customs, ATF,  etc), quasi police organizations such as the Federal Protective Service, the Transit Police guarding the city’s bus and subway system, and a host of private police guarding various buildings and facilities – there are actually enough police in DC to station one on every street corner in the city…several times over. During the riots of 1968 after MLK was assassinated, they actually did that with some small help from the National Guard.

A pic of some of DC’s finest. Insofar as this poster knows, none of the Policemen shown in this picture has done anything untoward or illegal.

110 D.C. Police Officers’ Arrests Since 2009 Leads To Questions, Scrutiny

Police officials in the nation’s capital have been facing recent questions about headline-making arrests — not of hardened street criminals but of their own officers.

In a single month, one District of Columbia police officer was accused of taking semi-nude pictures of a 15-year-old runaway and another was charged with running a prostitution operation involving teenage girls. A third was indicted on an attempted murder charge, accused of striking his wife in the head with a light fixture.

Police say the arrests aren’t representative of the entire department, which includes about 4,500 officers and civilian employees. Still, more than 100 officers in the last five years have been arrested on charges ranging from traffic offenses to murder to money laundering, and the latest instances have increased concerns about training, supervision and accountability. The D.C. Council has set a hearing to discuss the problem and Police Chief Cathy Lanier has met with residents to assuage fears of a misbehaving department.

“We don’t think we have a department out of control, and I think that oftentimes is the image that is portrayed,” she said in an interview, noting that the majority of arrests are not for on-duty corruption but instead involve off-duty misconduct that is harder to police.

The hearing Friday will focus on how applicants are screened and what services are available to prevent alcohol abuse and domestic violence, two prevalent problems, said Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the public safety committee.

“I think it’s extremely important that the public have confidence in our police force and we’ve had three high-profile cases of serious police misconduct, albeit generally off-duty,” Wells said.

Police department figures show the arrests of about 110 police officers, for both on- and off-duty conduct, since 2009. Many of the arrests involved traffic violations or involved cases that were dropped or ended in acquittal.

Among the most serious cases was Richmond Phillips, who received life without parole last year for the slayings of his mistress and baby daughter. Wendel Palmer was convicted last year of sexually abusing a girl who participated in his church choir, while Kenneth Furr received a 14-month sentence for an armed altercation that began after prosecutors say he solicited sex from a transgender prostitute.

Lanier has said many of the arrested officers were brought onto the force during a time of lax hiring standards and wouldn’t be qualified to serve today. She said that in some cases the arbitration process has required the department to rehire officers it fired. She said the department has dramatically tightened its recruitment practices to mandate polygraph exams and that only one of about 25 applicants is now hired.

The department also tracks warning signs like missed commitments and abuse of sick leave. And it requires officers to report off-duty arrests, which Lanier contends can make the numbers look worse than in cities that lack that requirement.

“I feel comfortable that our recruiting process, the background screening we do, is as tight as we can get,” Lanier said at the meeting. “But I also realize that there are people that are on the police department that came through at a time when there was not that strict background (check), and those are the people that we want to make sure that if they are involved in misconduct, that we weed those people out.”

But resident Khadijah Tribble, 42, told the chief she was unconvinced the misconduct was isolated.

“Aren’t these trends troubling and isn’t it worth our due diligence to do a thorough, independent investigation of this trend?” Tribble said in an interview.

Robert Kane, the director of the Drexel University criminal justice program who has studied police misconduct, said the number of arrests wasn’t necessarily shocking for a big-city police department.

At least 43 New York City police officers are known to have been arrested between 2011 and 2013 on charges including gun-running, drunken driving, perjury, a ticket-fixing scam and a cannibalism plot. A Los Angeles police officer was charged with stomping a handcuffed woman who later lost consciousness and died. Dozens of Memphis, Tenn., officers have been arrested in recent years.

Kane said that on-duty police misconduct can be reliably defined, off-duty misbehavior by officers is studied less often.

“We know what factors explain police misconduct, when police officers stop people and extort money from them,” he said. “What do we know about officers who walk into a liquor store when off-duty and rob it at gunpoint for some beer?”

In D.C., the first of the recent arrests was on December 2 when officer Marc Washington was charged with taking semi-nude pictures while on-duty of a teenage runaway who had just returned home. Authorities say after responding to the girl’s apartment, he directed her into her bedroom and told her to undress so he could photograph injuries. He was arrested after the girl alerted her mother, who contacted police. Soon after being released from jail, Washington was dead from an apparent suicide.

The following week brought the off-duty arrest of Linwood Barnhill Jr., a 24-year-veteran who was charged after police came to his apartment and found a 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing. The girl told police Barnhill had photographed her and offered to pay her to have sex with other men, allegations also made by a second teenager. His lawyer says Barnhill never threatened anyone.

Lanier acknowledged the arrests, especially for on-duty conduct, have shaken the department. But she said she hopes the sight of handcuffed officers sends a message to other officers who would break the law.

“We would like the officers to know that if there’s somebody in our midst that is committing criminal conduct and we become aware of it, we will lock them up,” Lanier said. “We don’t need somebody else to lock them up. We will lock you up.”

If You Build It…Maglev Train

Evidence that the Tea Bagger types haven’t quite reduced America to Third World status…Yet.

Organizers line up big names to push new high-speed rail line linking D.C. to N.Y.

The privately owned Washington company that last year began lobbying to build a high-speed rail line between Washington and New York has lined up some prominent names to press its ambitious plan to improve congestion in the Northeast corridor.

The Northeast Maglev, the 25-employee company founded in 2010, is looking to develop a high-speed magnetic levitation system that would bring passengers from Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes and to New York in 60 minutes, at speeds of 311 miles an hour.

The company, which according to its chairman has raised $50 million in private funding, plans to announce today it has enlisted several of the region’s business and political leaders to join its advisory board: Under Armour founder and chief executive Kevin Plank; former chief executive of Northwest Airlines Doug Steenland; former transportation secretaries Mary Peters and Rodney Slater (now a lobbyist at Patton Boggs); and George Pataki, Christine Todd Whitman and Ed Rendell, former governors of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively.

The board is being led by former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, who is now an adviser at DLA Piper, the international law firm that the Northeast Maglev has hired to lobby on its behalf before Congress.

The rail line would include stops at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. The project is unrelated to Amtrak’s $151 billion plan to develop a high-speed rail system — that would go from Washington to New York in 94 minutes — in the Northeast corridor by 2040.

The Northeast Maglev chairman Wayne Rogers said his firm does not have a cost estimate for the entire project but that the Washington-Baltimore leg would cost at least $10 billion. He said he expects it to take at least three years to navigate the regulatory, environmental and planning process and another 10 years for construction. The company is working closely with engineers from Central Japan Railway, which operates the bullet train in Japan.

The Last Colony (Washington, DC) Vows to Ignore Shutdown

Washington DC is unique among all principalities in the United States in that Congress – specifically the House – must approve all spending for the city. This means, if there is a Government shutdown the non-emergency city services would be shut down as well. This is particularly galling to DC Residents as it is their tax money paid to the city which operates the government, not Federal monies as is not uncommon in the rest of the country. So Congress has the authority to tell the DC Government how to spend it’s own tax money…

This has led to any umber of disasters as the Republican Congress has forced the city to adopt their confederate policies, such as school vouchers and limits on health care.

The Libraries are toast, too!

So…What happens if there is a shutdown in DC?

1. Parks, museums, and the Zoo closed: All Smithsonian museums, federal monuments, the National Zoo, and public facilities in National Parks like Rock Creek Park would be closed. Because tourists probably won’t realize it in advance, they’ll probably flood downtown Starbuckses and Potbellies with bored out-of-towners.

2. Libraries and recreation centers dark: All D.C. libraries and recreation centers will be closed, giving kids fewer places to hang out after school, which means who knows what kinds of trouble.

3. Department of Public Works off duty: Trash collection would be suspended for a week, as well as street sweeping, which this time of year means some very clogged drains.

4. Circulator offline: While the Metro would stay open and WMATA buses would keep running, D.C.’s super-convenient Circulator buses would have to stay in the garage.

5. Permit offices and the DMV shut: The Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs are closed, meaning even longer lines for licenses, permits, and car registrations when the shutdown eventually ends.

6. No parking enforcement: Okay, you probably don’t mind that so much, but it does cost the city money and could lead to shortfalls down the road.

7. University of the District of Columbia shuttered: You might not be the one with your academic year interrupted, but at least sympathize with the poor students who’ll likely have to make up the class time later.

8. Potential loss of city equipment and buildings: The city has a master lease on pieces of equipment like traffic lights, computers, and public safety vehicles, as well as a contractual agreement to use facilities like the Unified Communications Center, which controls all the city’s emergency systems — as long as payments are made on time. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton warns that they could be repossessed if the city lacks the budget authority to do so. And in any case, ongoing worries about the city’s ability to use its own money could make it more expensive to borrow, which the city has to do every year for capital expenditures.

Yeah…This stops, too!


Mayor Gray designates all of District government ‘essential’ to avoid shutdown

Mayor Vincent C. Gray moved Wednesday to designate the entirety of the District government as “essential to the protection of public safety, health, and property,” in a bid to allow city services to continue during a federal shutdown.

Gray announced his position in a letter to the federal Office of Management and Budget, which is handling preparations for a shutdown that could take place if congressional leaders fail to reach an accord by Oct. 1.

“I am writing to inform you that I have determined that all operations of the government of the District of Columbia are ‘excepted’ activities essential to the protection of public safety, health, and property and therefore will continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations,” the mayor wrote to budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

Gray’s posture is unprecedented for the District government, whose budget comes largely from locally raised taxes and is set by locally elected officials but is ultimately appropriated by Congress. During past shutdowns, in keeping with federal guidance, the city has designated public safety and some other crucial functions as exempt from shutdown but curtailed many city services, including libraries, recreation centers and trash pickup.

The letter comes a day after Gray and D.C. Council members openly debated ways to defy the federal shutdown and keep the city government operating.

On the good side – these guys are out of work!

It is unclear how President Obama’s budget office will respond to Gray’s broad definition of “essential.” Requests for comment made to the agency Tuesday and Wednesday have gone unreturned.

In a statement issued with the letter, Gray said it is “ridiculous” that the District “cannot spend its residents’ own local tax dollars to provide them the services they’ve paid for without Congressional approval.”

“Congress can’t even get its own fiscal house in order; they should be taking lessons from us rather than imposing needless suffering on us,” he said. “I will not allow the safety and well-being of District residents to be compromised by Congress’s dysfunction.”

Grand Theft Government – The DC Govrnment Steals Poor Resident’s Property With Tax Scam

Anyone familiar with the DC Government, and who drives into the city is likely familiar with their Parking Gestapo, who write tickets and tow away cars to the tune of millions of dollars a month.

A new line of theft has recently opened up for the DC Government Mafia,  the theft of homes from the poor and elderly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity, often for tax bills as little as $200. Often the people who are ultimately robbed of their property are sick and old, and in a number of cases the property owners have been in the hospital dying while most of their paltry savings in the value of their homes is ripped off.

And here you thought the only criminals in the city were Gangbangers and carjackers. They should have it so good.

Unscrupulous law firms facilitate the theft, as does a dirty courts system – through charging sky high rates, rapidly pushing up the bills owed by the property owners beyond reach.This is a criminal enterprise, no different than the Tammany Hall of yore, which dispossessed Irish immigrants to make way for developers in the notorious 5 Points section of New York City.

The Federal Government is complicit. To be honest, if they really gave a damn about anything except the press for catching a city Mayor smoking crack with his mistress – they would have put a stop to this.

 

On an overcast morning earlier this year, Bennie Coleman walked past his old house on the way to the corner store. But he said he could not look at it — the memories were too painful. Bennie, who suffers from dementia, had his $200,000 property foreclosed for a $134.00 tax lien, and the company which foreclosed kept the difference under DC Law.

 

LIENS, LOSS AND PROFITEERS

On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.

Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.

All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.

The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale — an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes.

For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.

But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.

As the housing market soared, the investors scooped up liens in every corner of the city, then started charging homeowners thousands in legal fees and other costs that far exceeded their original tax bills, with rates for attorneys reaching $450 an hour.

Families have been forced to borrow or strike payment plans to save their homes.

Others weren’t as lucky. Tax lien purchasers have foreclosed on nearly 200 houses since 2005 and are now pressing to take 1,200 more, many owned free and clear by families for generations.

Investors also took storefronts, parking lots and vacant land — about 500 properties in all, or an average of one a week. In dozens of cases, the liens were less than $500.

Thomas McRae ran a flower shop on the first floor in this house on Sherman Avenue NW. But a tax lien investor from Florida foreclosed while McRae was under hospice care.

Coleman, struggling with dementia, was among those who lost a home. His debt had snowballed to $4,999 — 37 times the original tax bill. Not only did he lose his $197,000 house, but he also was stripped of the equity because tax lien purchasers are entitled to everything, trumping even mortgage companies.

“This is destroying lives,” said Christopher Leinberger, a distinguished scholar and research professor of urban real estate at George Washington University.

Officials at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue said that without tax sales, property owners wouldn’t feel compelled to pay their bills.

“The tax sale is the last resort. It’s also the first resort — it’s the only way in the statute to collect debt,” said deputy chief financial officer Stephen Cordi.

But the District, a hotbed for the tax lien industry, has done little to shield its most vulnerable homeowners from unscrupulous operators.

Foreclosures have upended families in some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods. Houses were taken from a housekeeper, a department store clerk, a seamstress and even the estates of dead people. The hardest hit: elderly homeowners, who were often sick or dying when tax lien purchasers seized their houses.

One 65-year-old flower shop owner lost his Northwest Washington home of 40 years after a company from Florida paid his back taxes — $1,025 — and then took the house through foreclosure while he was in hospice, dying of cancer. A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her family home to a Maryland investor over a tax debt of $44.79 while she was struggling with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home.

Other cities and states took steps to curb abuses, such as capping the fees, safeguarding houses owned by the elderly or scrapping tax sales altogether and instead collecting the money themselves.

“Where is the justice? They’re taking people’s lives,” said Beverly Smalls, whose elderly aunt lost her home in Northeast Washington. “It’s just not right.”

In a 10-month investigation, The Post chronicled years of breakdowns and abuses in a program that puts at risk one of the most fundamental possessions in American life.

  • Of the nearly 200 homeowners who lost their properties in recent years, one in three had liens of less than $1,000.

  • More than half of the foreclosures were in the city’s two poorest wards, 7 and 8, where dozens of owners were forced to leave their homes just months before purchasers sold them. One foreclosed on a brick house near the Maryland border with a $287 lien and sold it less than eight weeks later for $129,000.

  • More than 40 houses were taken by companies whose representatives were caught breaking laws in other states to win liens.

  • Instead of stepping in, the D.C. tax office created more problems by selling nearly 1,900 liens by mistake in the past six years — even after owners paid their taxes — forcing unsuspecting families into legal battles that have lasted for years. One 64-year-old woman spent two years fighting to save her home in Northwest after the tax office erroneously charged her $8.61 in interest. (more)

Bill Cosby and Ben’s Chili Bowl

Most major cities have a business or meeting place that becomes an “institution”. In Washington, DC that institution is Ben’s Chili Bowl. Philly and Cheese Steak. Boston and Clam Chowder…You are not a Washingtonian until you have consumed at least one of Ben’s famous chili half-smokes. Ben’s clientele crosses all color and ethnic lines, political lines, and economic status. Used to be two places in DC where the rich and powerful rubbed shoulders with the common folks – the old RFK Stadium during a Redskins game and Ben’s. The Redskins have moved to new, more egalitarian digs…But Ben’s continues…

Ben’s turned 55 year old this week, and some big names, including President Obama, Rev Jesse Jackson, and Bill Cosby turned out to grab a bite and celebrate.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 176 other followers