Sunday, April 20

DC SUNDAY

METRO DOESN'T EXPECT RIDERSHIP IT ORIGINALLY PROMISED UNTIL 2030

DC EXAMINER - The crowded Metro trains of today could soon seem like a luxury ride judging by projections for the future. A report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments predicts Metro's ridership will grow by 42 percent by 2030. That means the rail system would be averaging about 1 million riders a day. The transit agency already faces chronic overcrowding.

SAM SMITH, WASH POST, 1986 - In the late 1970s, Metro was talking about a completed system that would have an annual rail ridership of 323 million, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation memorandum. With two-thirds of the system finished, the actual rail ridership is only one-third of the estimate. It now looks as if Metro will be at least 100 million riders short when the system is completed.

THE REVIEW ARGUED that Metro would not compete effectively with the automobile, that its ridership projections were greatly exaggerated, and that its operating and construction costs were greatly underestimated. Although we lost both the battles and the war, on all these points Metro, the local politicians and the press were seriously wrong.

In 1991, Metro had a ridership of 147 million, less than half the amount projected in the 1970s.

In 2003, Metro reported 184 million riders, or 56% the number predicted in the 1970s.

In 2006 and 2007 Metro exceeded 200 million riders for the first time, one third below what was promised in the 1970s and now isn't expected until 2030.



NORTON'S REAL ESTATE BOOM

JOHN BRESNAHAN, POLITICO When Forest City Enterprises started work early last October on a $1.7 billion development project at the old Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) hailed "The Yards" as a major benefit to an economically stagnant part of the District.

But Forest City has also benefited Norton -in campaign contributions. And the nearly $29,000 given to her 2008 reelection bid by donors with links to Forest City is hardly an aberration: Norton has become a magnet for powerful real estate interests, both D.C.-based and national.

Nearly half -$99,750, or 46 percent - of the almost $218,000 Norton raised as of March 31 came from real estate interests, according to an analysis of her FEC reports. This far outstrips the amount of donations that Norton received from the real estate industry in previous election cycles.

While other members of the House have received more dollars from real estate interests - Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) leads the way there, having raised $218,293 from the industry in 2007 - Norton has raised a larger percentage of her campaign funds from such sources than has any other House member this cycle.

The list of Norton's donors reads like a "Who's Who" of well-connected real estate developers: the Ratner family, which controls Forest City; Victor MacFarlane, a San Francisco developer who owns D.C. United and has sought to build a new soccer stadium on federal land across the Anacostia River from the Washington Nationals' new ballpark; John E. "Chip" Akridge, who wants to build a different, 2.7-million-square-foot project near the baseball stadium; Ted and Mark Lerner, owners of the Washington Nationals and major developers in their own right; Christopher Smith, chairman and CEO of William C. Smith Co., a large commercial and residential management company in the District; Benjamin R. Jacobs, managing member of The JBG Companies, a player in the D.C. real estate market for decades; and William Chang, CEO of Westlake Development, co-owner of the San Francisco Giants and a business partner of MacFarlane.

Norton's office said she was unavailable to discuss her campaign contributions. In a statement, the office said that "perhaps the reason developers are giving to Norton is the same reason they give to other committee chairs and subcommittee chairs.". . .

Norton used to receive a far greater percentage of her campaign donations from law firms and lawyers, as well as labor unions. In 1998, for example, her top five donors were all labor unions, according to the Center for Responsible Politics. By 2002, Norton had begun to raise significant funds -for her -from the real estate industry, which became her second-largest source of funds that cycle. By the 2005-06 cycle, real estate companies had become her largest single source of funds, and that trend has continued in the current cycle.



RAINES SCANDAL SETTLEMENT: OVER FOUR TIMES AS MUCH MONEY AS TEACHERS UNION EMBEZZLEMENT

Barry case reduced to minor perphood

Franklin Raines, beloved by the local media and establishment when he was involved in stripping the city of some of its home rule during the Clinton administration, has settled with the federal government for $24.7 million (all paid by insurance) for his part in the massive Fannie Mae scandal. In comparison, the Teachers Union embezzlement case involved only $4.6 million and Marion Barry was just caught using some drugs, so this ranks Raines as the city's leading scoundrel of modern times.

DAVID S. HILZENRATH WASHINGTON POST - The government said yesterday it has settled its long-running effort to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars from Franklin D. Raines and two other former executives of Fannie Mae for their alleged role in an accounting scandal. Though a federal regulator said Raines agreed to give up $24.7 million, the former Fannie Mae chairman and chief executive isn't paying anything out of pocket, sources familiar with the details said.

The cash Raines agreed to pay is covered by insurance. The stock options he agreed to relinquish are worthless at current share prices. The stock he agreed to give up is stock he doesn't have; he's been fighting a court battle to win release of the shares from Fannie Mae, which is based in the District.

"This settlement is not an acknowledgement of wrongdoing on my part, because I did not break any laws or rules while leading Fannie Mae," Raines said in a statement.

The case began with a splash in 2006, when the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight sued Raines, former chief financial officer J. Timothy Howard and former controller Leanne G. Spencer, alleging that they manipulated Fannie Mae's earnings to enrich themselves and ran the government-sponsored mortgage funding company in an unsound manner.

The administrative charges were a body blow to Raines, one of Washington's most prominent business leaders, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration and who headed a task force to restore trust in corporate governance after the Enron scandal.

OFHEO was originally seeking to recover more than $115 million of compensation it said the executives received while Fannie Mae's earnings were misstated, plus penalties that could have exceeded $100 million.

The improper accounting inflated Fannie Mae's reported profit for 2004 and prior years by $6.3 billion. Since Raines left the company in 2004, it has spent more than $1.5 billion on the fallout from the scandal, which included cleaning up its books, dealing with various investigations and repairing internal controls that were so dysfunctional that it took years for Fannie Mae to resume issuing timely financial reports.



HEMP STORE OPENS IN DC

Legal to import in a variety of forms, earth friendly industrial hemp products will finally be available in one place for the first time in Washington, DC. Capitol Hemp, a new hemp clothing and accessories store located underground at 1802 Adams Mill Road, NW #B has opened.

The new store, the first in the nation to be built out of hemp fiber board, is also the capital's first boutique to offer a wide variety of hemp products including men, women and children's clothing, shoes, bags, cosmetics, paper, twine, food, books and much more.

"Capitol Hemp showcases the versatility of Industrial Hemp to the extreme," says Capitol Hemp co-founder Adam Eidinger who also serves as Communication Director for the non-profit advocacy group Vote Hemp, which works to educate members of Congress about why they should allow US farmers to grow non-drug industrial hemp. . . ."

Industrial hemp now accounts for over $300 million in annual US sales and has always been used by human civilization for key items such as sails, rope and clothing. Hemp is an excellent substitute for cotton which is the most heavily sprayed crop on earth. Hemp paper reduces pressure on forests and is renewable every year, while hemp food is rich in protein and omega 3 essential fatty acids.



FENTY FAILED TO OBSERVE EMANCIPATION DAY

GROUP LETTER TO MAYOR, APR 16 - This year the D.C. government has not funded an official recognition of a unique part of its past - D.C. Emancipa tion Day. The DC government and schools are closed by law today. Not by a Congressional mandate, but by our own law, passed by our own council and signed by our own previous mayor. Many of our local historians, churches, and organizations have found ways to honor this day. We understand that there are duties inherent in being the nation's capital and playing host to the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI is a monumental one. But the official government recognition of this day should not have been cancelled. This coalition has gathered here today in Franklin Square to honor, commemorate and celebrate an important part of that history - DC Emancipation Day. We are all so proud that - 146 years ago today, April 16, 1862, after many acts of rebellion, large and small - those more than 3,100 persons sold into chattel slavery in the nation's capital were freed by an act of Congress which was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. DC Emancipation is an extraordinary historic event. . . An African proverb reads: “Until the Lions have Their Historians, Tales of the Hunted will Always Glorify the Hunter”. Let all who have ears hear the “lion” roar!

Signed by Friends of DC Emancipation Day, Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition, African American Holiday Association, D.C. Black History Celebration Committee, D.C. Local Organizing Council for Empowerment, Urban Housing Coalition



DRIVIN' MISS DAISY

DC EXAMINER Daisy Battle has a nickname, acquired after nearly 50 years at the wheel of her District of Columbia taxi. She's "Drivin' Miss Daisy.". . . Battle is one of the city's most experienced cabdrivers and among the relatively few women in an industry dominated by men. The D.C. Taxicab Commission, which honored female drivers at a recent meeting, cannot provide an exact figure for how many there are because records do not include the sex of the drivers. Officials guess - based largely, they admit, on feminine-sounding names - that about 150 of the city's estimated 6,800 licensed cabbies are women.

When Battle began driving a cab in 1961, there were several female drivers around who had begun their careers during World War II, when most of the men were away fighting. Battle was among the few young ones then. . .

Through her broad windshield, she has watched the district grow and the local taxi industry change.

"The thing about it is, it's harder to drive a cab now than ever," she said.

During the late 1970s and '80s, when the district was earning its reputation as a murder capital, driving a cab was hazardous. . . Battle never had any real problems, she said. She knew how to size up people.

Last year, for instance, she responded to a radio call that several other drivers had turned down. The would-be rider, a young man in a big coat and baggy pants, looked like trouble.

"I rolled the window down, and I said, 'Look, you look like you have every gun in your pocket. Now, I'm not going to take any stuff.' I said to him, 'I have four grown boys and I didn't take any stuff off of them, and if you want to ride with me, you better know how to act.'

"He said, 'Ma'am, I know how to act,' and I took him where he wanted to go." He was very polite, she said.


DC SHORTS

A FUNDRAISER WILL BE HELD from 6 - 8 pm on April 23rd, at the 51st State Tavern (second floor), located at 2512 L Street NW, on behalf of a DC statehood activist who is defending charges from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that federal income tax payments were not submitted for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006. In February, the IRS issued a "Notice of Levy on Wages, Salary, and Other Income" to Karen A. Szulgit -- in the amount of $1,222.32 -- for alleged nonpayment of income taxes, interest, and penalties for 2004-2006. After three years of telephone calls, letters, and repayments, IRS Agent #0901919, Mr. Fuqua, confessed that "someone didn't like what was written on the checks" submitted and resubmitted for payment. Mr. Fuqua volunteered that Szulgit's checks and "Paid Under Protest" letters -- focusing on the District's lack of budgetary, judicial, and legislative autonomy and full voting representation in the U.S. Congress -- addressed to President George W. Bush were "sent somewhere else," but he couldn't tell where and declined to provide further explanation. Agent Fuqua implored Szulgit to resubmit a standard-sized check without the messages: "Emancipate DC Tax Slaves Now!," "FREE DC!," "Full Rights for DC!," and "No Taxation Without Representation!" On February 29, 2008, the IRS cashed Szulgit's standard-sized check for $850 -- the total owed for federal income taxes for 2004 ($531), 2005 ($185), and 2006 ($134). "The IRS refused to negotiate with me on the interest and penalties associated with my thrice paid taxes because my 'check was not done correct,'" according to Agent Fuqua. "The IRS is requiring me to submit the amount of $526.24 this month -- to cover all interest and penalties associated with my alleged nonpayment of federal taxes," said Szulgit.

SPEAKING OF her plans to have public schools runs by educational mercentaries, Michelle Rhee mad a highly revealing statement: "There's no way we're going to get through this process and make everybody happy. I'm not going to be thinking about politics -- what rubs people the wrong way." In other words, how people feel is just so much politics.

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