Wondering How Much More The DC Tax Office Can Get Effed Up

Okay on top of shopping trips with embezzled funds, dead people getting senior discounts, and vacant houses not getting taxed right, add the possibility of identity theft as Tax Office computer servers found behind a chain restaurant in Columbia Heights.
I’m thankful they were found, and I hope, really really hope, there isn’t any individual taxpayer information on them.

Vote for Obama, pretty please.

Most of the time I stay away from the whole national politics because local politics matter more. Because local people will improve schools, fight crime, support business and improve their fellow citizen’s quality of life. So I’m going to try to tie in my plea to the local.
Please vote for Sen. Barak Obama next week. And let me state a few reasons why and hopefully this may convince you. For one, he has a better chance of an overwhelming victory and possibly a longer honeymoon period than Sen. Clinton. Clinton is divisive and she just may energize conservatives to fight like cornered rabid pit bulls. A woman president is possible, but I don’t think she is the one. It’s not just Democrats voting for President, but Independents, Republicans and the rest of Purple America. As a moderate conservative, Obama’s message of hope and possibility appeals to me, even though his left leaning doesn’t. In that appeal he can bring us together as a country, and maybe even move us beyond the divisions of red and blue that divides us and work on the things that unite us. Imagine spending less time bickering about the things we know we disagree about and more time working on the things we do agree on.
And if you haven’t noticed, he’s black and he’s not your typical old style black politician. There was something that he said that took hold of my heart as he described himself and those of the like as the Joshua Generation, the generation who have moved into the Promised Land**. I am grateful for the struggle that previous generations endured so I can see myself as an equal and succeed. However the old style black politicking is well, old, and in some ways destructive when dealing with non-blacks. Obama and his message, as President, can change the tone of black politics, and DC politics IS black politics (maybe on the other side of the Park it isn’t). A change in tone can benefit all Washingtonians, since race plays such a major role in our local politics.
So please do your part by changing the tone and moving into the promise and voting for the man who can inspire and unite. Since I’m not a Democrat I can’t make that move and the best I can do is ask you to do it for me, and spread the idea of hope, unity and change.

I’m not allowing comments because I rather have a conversation with you face to face.

UPDATE: Got an email from a fellow Truxtonian about donations that will be matched making your contribution go even further donate.barackobama.com/match. Or you can just donate the plain non-matching way.

**This hearkens to the imagery of Dr. ML King’s speech about being on the mountain top the promised land and the biblical story of Exodus. Moses and MLK led the people in the direction of the promised land. In the case of the Israelites they had to wander the desert for 40 years, but those who left Egppt as slaves could not enter the promised land. It has been explained to me (and this is just one interpretation) that Moses’ generation carried with them that slave mentality, that yearning for Egypt, and the next generation, Joshua, was free of that, and it was that generation that could enter.

I look for dead people

At the end of the last post I decided to check in to see if the person at 32 P St NE receiving the Senior Citizen Tax Relief was alive. Because, well I found a person in my general vicinity who was also receiving the tax benefit but was sadly dead. Well Ms.Berrin is dead according to the Social Security Index. I’m sure it is the same woman because they had the same zip code and really, how common is the name Berrin?
So for kicks, or something to do while waiting for the Super Tuesday results, I checked a random Truxton block for dead people who own houses, and get the really sweet Senior Citizen Tax Relief. Well, let’s just say it doesn’t help to have a common name. For one block I found three persons receiving the tax relief, but there were several other people with the same name and the last residence at date of death did not match up. One had a different middle initial so that was a no. And I did find a matching name with matching initial of a woman who died in the District of Columbia, but because the zip codes don’t match up and because she has a common last name, I won’t say she’s dead.
While poking around, looking for deceased Truxtonians, I did notice something odd. There were several people not claiming their Homestead Deductions whose listed address is the same as the property address. Why I wonder? Another thing I spotted with the Senior Citizen Tax thing, was one where the person wasn’t dead but instead was living in Clinton, MD but getting the tax relief. That seems to be counter of what the relief is for…
Anyway, tomorrow I will send an email to the CFOs office about the definitely dead woman and the possibly dead woman.
Now I wonder if the dead vote?

Yes, it is ugly

Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Prince of Pentworth has a more up to date picture and others are calling for the mighty hammer of HDs to come in and save the day. I say there is another way, but the problem is more than this one property. This is a unit block of ugly, historic ugly, plain ugly, and cheap modern fugly. Let’s start with the fugly shall we?
If I have identified the house right the place is 26 P St NE, owned by Payam Mobin of Hollowerind Court, Reston, VA. Mobin bought the property 11/17/05 for $363,000 and should have known better, but some people want to make things hard on themselves. Anyway, Mobin decided to throw an ugly monster pop up on the thin property. I can imagine a nicer looking pop-up but it would have been pointless because of all the other stuff to consider.
Next door is historically ugly. The two houses to the left of 26 P is 22 & 24 P, both burned out shells. Owned by DM McCoy (24 P) and the 22 P St LLC at 137 R ST SW. Nicely, both are being taxed at the vacant property rate, and their assessment seemed to have jumped up by 2X. Next to those shells is a ‘parking lot’, whose assessment for 2008 is about 5x what it was for 2007. Next to the parking lot are Refuge of Hope Disciple Center’s (Capitol Heights, MD) vacant lots, and those lots have not been taxed. No taxes apparently have been collected for 2007 for any of RoHDC’s properties on P. Zip. Nada. And they’ve owned those lots for over a decade. What’s up with that? How is it charitable, when there is no building to dispense the charity?
Next door to fugly is 28 P a vacant house owned by Sang Lee of Oakton, VA paying over $8K in taxes for 2007. On the end of the block, where P meets Florida, there is a gas station. Not terribly bad, not terribly pretty. There seems to be 3 households living on this unit block of P. Everything else is vacant or commercial or crap, or all three.
Going back to modern fugly, I looked at DCRA’s permit list but sadly, it is only for those issued in the past couple of months (OCT07-FEB08). Might actually have to walk up to the damned thing and see if the permit is valid. Heighwise, it may be a matter of right because the area is zoned to allow that high because it is a commercial area. Across the street from this is the DDOT parking lot. Conceviably, one could knock down the shells, the lots, and the monstrosity and build a decent looking 4-5 level building that complements the Peoples Drug Building that DDOT occupies. But this thing is so skinny and so badly designed that it is ugly.
So ugly I can’t imagine it being a sound investment, short of a halfway house. Then if, that, I’m sure it will go well nicely with whatever the Refuge of Hope might be planning.
Seriously, this side of the block would be better off razed, the three resident households compensated for their trouble and turned into a huge community garden. ‘Cause it’s just that F*ed up.

Wrong about 3 households, make it 2. One household, 32 P St NE, owned by “HENRIETTA BERRIN” and taxed at the senior citizen rate of $0 for all of 2007 and $35.22 for 2005 is DEAD. Dead, dead, dead, dead. Deady-dead dead. Well according to the Social Security Death Index. Apparently she died May 20, 2005. Well, she’s now the second dead person paying taxes I know of, wait, no, she hasn’t paid taxes, ’cause she didn’t owe any. Ain’t DC Gov generous with the departed?

Vacant & 4 Sale

Originally uploaded by In Shaw

The blue/grey house is up for sale for about $370K. The house is a gut job, or 1/2 gut job as it has structural issues. Then again, whose house around here doesn’t have some sort of issue?
The city’s assessed value of the address is $357K. It was bought in 2002 for $110K. Similar styled houses on the block assess in the $400-500K range. So it is possible, I guess, to throw $150,000 at the house in repairs and get the value of the house, however I don’t think you’d be able to sell it in the $500K range , with the market being soft as a pillow and all.

Job Gentrification

My first Federal job was as a GS-5. I had a brand new shiny MA in History and I was a Museum Technician. Know what I did as a Museum Technician? Hung coats and told people where the bathroom was, and they were almost always down the stairs and to the left. Other duties included monitoring the exhibits, stuffing brochures into the hands of tourists at the information desk, and inform people in long lines of how to get through security. Occasionally, I would lead a tour, work on information sheets, and speak in pigeon German. But for most of what I did, did not require a graduate degree, or even a Bachelor’s. I had a gentrified job, low pay but high requirements.
Don’t get me wrong I appreciated the job. It was a foot in the wonderful world of the culture industry, Federal employment, and they paid to keep my language skills up. For several of my colleagues, also people with BAs, and MAs it was a stepping stone to other positions at the Museum, or in the Park Service. We had a fair amount of turnover, and I left after about 2 years to go to grad school again to get a degree I could eat with. At the same time a colleague left for a desired position along the C&O canal (Park Service).
But back to the job gentrification, something I have been thinking about as it applies to my college educated and unemployed cousins. Those low paying jobs that really don’t pay a lot and don’t really require anything more than a High School diploma to actually “do” the job. But like housing gentrification, where the price of housing goes up past the masses’ income levels, the job’s requirements go past the masses’ education levels.
I’m betting right now there is a bright young thing with a newly printed BA or MA in hand getting off the plane (or train) and heading to DC to make his or her mark. And that person will be competing with other degreed people for jobs worthy of their education, as well as those lower paying AdminAsst jobs competing with non-degreed people.
Can this possibly further plain old gentrification when the jobs that would help people afford the homes are basically only available to people with a doctorate in basket weaving?
The Council is planning on passing legislation to make sick leave a mandatory benefit. This will be great for persons already employed. However, I think it one of the several things that makes the city less competitive and will create fewer jobs that wouldn’t have had sick leave anyway. Also it will make jobs more valuable, too valuable to be wasted on the hard to employ crowd, thus increasing unemployment amongst the unskilled. Also it would encourage employers to seek alternative solutions to get tasks done, rather than hire another person (contract out, buy a machine, make people do more work, etc). We have seen this in our industrial sector, where people have been replaced by machines or production has been moved abroad, with in call centers in Manila or Mumbai.

Somebody Stop Me Before I Buy Again

Maybe I need an intervention. Well, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Ok. I’m Mari and I have bought more seeds than my garden can grow.
Seriously, I can’t grow that many peas, or beans. One hundred or more seeds, and I can maybe support 10 plants of that one variety, tops. But that’s not the biggest problem, because I can just save the seed. I have seeds from years past that, may or may not grow. No, the problem is that I have a catalog and I know I’m going to order more. There are such tantalizing choices, like jeweled toned purple onions, Beetberry, grey shallots, white beets, golden cherry tomatoes, the temptations are far more than what my little yard can bear.
So, anyone want to do a local (I’m talking east of 9th, west of North Cap) seed exchange or seed sharing?
I got a tad too much of the following:
Blue & Yellow Blend Peas (Cooks’s Garden #579)
Romaine Lettuce
Arugula (Roquette)- ’cause the stuff is still growing in the yard
& Cherry Belle Radishes

There are some seeds that I could use all the seeds for if I eat them as microsalads, which are divine and tasty. But if anyone wants to try their hand at corn mache, Black Seeded Simpson, Garden Purslane, or Red Emperor beans, I can spare some seed.
What I’d like, at least to keep from returning to the catalogs, are some regular run of the mill peas, snap, shelling or snow, leeks, and pansies.
So do you have any seed to spare or is it too early to ask?