University Park, MD: You don’t need a city manager

I normally try to keep things local. Very local. I don’t like it when people from outside try to tell people inside how to run things. Such as Maryland people who visit DC for work or worship vocally complaining about bike lanes or speed cameras, which are for the people who live here. So I know it isn’t none of my business, but, University Park, MD you don’t need a city manager.

I probably have hinted several times that we are looking to move out of the District for career reasons. Yes, I could commute from DC but I swore never to do that commute again. So we are researching the College Park-Hyattsville-Riverdale area. Part of that was looking at University Park, which is west of College Park.

University Park has a newsletter. I don’t remember which newsletter I originally looked at, but the current one is still talking about hiring a city manager. Neighboring College Park has a city manager,  and rightly so. College Park is a town/city of over 30,000, University Park, on the other hand, is a village of about 2,600. It already has a paid mayor.

I think my high school was about that size. There are residents who are fighting back against the idea of a city manager because of the extra taxes it would cost each household, and there are less than 1,000 households in UP. I think the taxes in UP are high compared to College Park and Hyattsville (two places I have lived). On the other hand, the high taxes do kinda make the neighborhood exclusive, which could be seen as a perk, in addition to the resident only shuttle bus service. Keeps the rowdy students out.

Sex, consent and local government- trigger warning

Crop of Marion Barry Vincent Gray
Credit: dbking via a Creative Commons License
Last night our Truxton Circle book group came together to talk about Dream City by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. It was my second time with the book. The first time I “read” (I cheat with audiobooks), it was prior to the #metoo movement and the many public discussions and arguments that regarding sexual and romantic relationships.

Just a quick review of the book: it is a sandwich. It’s local government bread holding a rise and fall and rise and decline of Marion Barry fixin’s. It’s about 75% Barry, going into his rise from his civil rights days as a student, to his messy relationships with and use of women, and his challenges with substances from booze to drugs.

Considering “Mayor for Life” Barry’s struggles with drugs, that horse has dang near beaten to death. However, Barry and women hasn’t really been reviewed in light of the new zeitgeist. This is probably because a)he’s dead and b) many women who enabled and or had sexual relationships with Barry are still alive and may still be involved in local government.

But back to the book and my title regarding consent, there were two ‘scenes’ in the book that struck me. There was one event that shocked me the first time I was aware of it. The authors’ claimed that in a hotel room in the Caribbean, various women were shuttled to Barry’s hotel room under the promise that the women could get jobs with the city government. Barry was under the influence and when one woman expressed not wanting to have sex with the mayor, he forced himself on her. The authors did not use the word “rape” for this instance, but it was rape. The other incident happened when the police were called to the apartment of a woman because of a disturbance. When the police arrived, the woman refused to let the police in because Mayor Barry was hiding in her bedroom. She protected and provided sexual favors to the Mayor because she did not want to endanger her program that needed city government support.

That second incident got me thinking, if a city contract or grant or job is in play is the sex consensual? If you swap out Barry for Harvey Weinstein and the grant/contract for a role in a movie, is it different? This also reminded me of the July 10, 2009 Washington City Paper headline, “You Put Me Out in Denver, ‘Cause I  Wouldn’t Suck Your ____” As I remember the lady in question was a city contractor and Barry was a City Councilman at the time. If she did provide the sexual act, would that have been consensual? Was the relationship consensual? It sure wasn’t ethical.

Yes, powerful men in this town have been receiving sex for jobs, money, votes, or whatever since they moved the capitol from Philadelphia. However, Barry’s corruption and problems with women was such an open non-secret, like Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood, but more in your face. Despite everyone knowing, too many people did not care if he had consent or not.

Unemployment for Furloughs- I’m probably not doing this right

So….. this furlough thing is longer than I’ve experienced, and I’ve been through several government shutdowns. Am I worried. For my family, we have resources that I would prefer not tapping. In the past, I’d just wait the shutdown out. I have no friggin clue when this will end.

So what’s a gal to do? Apply for unemployment.

My first time ever. I’ve been getting a W-2 for 30+ years (dang, I’m old) and, well, this is new.

Since the Bureau of Fight Club* is in DC and I live in DC, I’ve applied for unemployment on-line with the DC Department of Employment Services  (DOES) to start the process.

Links from DC DOES led me to the DC Networks website https://www.dcnetworks.org/vosnet/Default.aspx . I checked to make sure the .org site was okay as it was asking for my social security number and banking information for direct deposit. Not knowing what the heck I was doing, I filled out the claim.

Good thing I checked my Spam folder. That’s where, so far, all my emails from DOES seems to go.

Poking around I found this FAQ for furloughed government employees. Wish I saw this earlier….. Well those forced to work are screwed…. And I shouldn’t expect any money quickly. There is some documentation I’m supposed to supply, but I don’t see where I’m supposed to upload my 2017 W-2, my SF-50 and 5 pay stubs. There is something about emailing those things, but I think those have my SS# on them and there is no way in HELL I’m emailing that. I’ll fax it once I figure out how to get the fax machine/printer to work.

Another FAQ- https://does.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/does/page_content/attachments/INSTRUCTIONS%20FOR%20COMPLETING%20THE%20CONTINUED%20CLAIM%20FORM_updated%207.28.2016_0.pdf

 

*This is what I call my agency, because of some stupid rule. However, via LinkedIn, I see some of my fellow Fight Clubbies have told local media which agency they are with.

Furloughed Workers Bread for the City Has Groceries 4U

I’m feeling lazy so I’m just going to copy and paste what I got:

For nearly 45 years, Bread for the City has shown up for D.C., and D.C. has shown up for us. With help from our community, we assist tens of thousands of D.C. residents living with low income each and every year. As the government shutdown enters its third week, it’s time for us to show up again. We want furloughed workers to know that Bread for the City is here for you, too.

If you are a District of Columbia resident and are a furloughed federal worker or federal contractor currently out of work because of the furlough, you can visit our NW or SE Centers for a five day supply of groceries.  In addition, our medical clinic, located in our NW Center is currently accepting new patients. Visit our services page for more information including hours of operation and documents we will need you to bring in.

To our current clients: Bread for the City will continue to be here for you too. 

To those of you who are donors or volunteers: When the government does not meet its obligations to the people, organizations like ours are all the more important. If this shutdown continues and more people have no choice but to seek out organizations like Bread for the City, our existing resources — particularly the food program — may be pushed to their limit.  In these trying times for so many, if you’re able to give just a little more to help your neighbors, please give today.

And if you’re a furloughed worker looking for something positive to do in the midst of this crisis, we’re always looking for volunteers. Visit breadforthecity.org/volunteer to find out how you can help.

Thank you for all that you do to support our Washington, D.C. community.

So the Government is Closed- Longterm Plans

Capitol in My HandsThis is a personal blog and I am a federal employee who has found she has more time on her hands. But this is not a woe is me post. Nah, this is my 6th government shutdown. I’d been employed less than a year when I survived the 1995-1996 shutdowns (5 and 21 days) as a GS-5 step 1 temp employee with fresh student loans. The 21 day shutdown between December 5, 1995-January 6, 1996 was bad, but I survived. Somewhere in the archives of the Washington Post, there is a quote of the younger me bitching about it.

Mentally, I’m prepping for a long shutdown and praying for something shorter. Thankfully this time around there is another income to lean on. Typically, although there is no guarantee, we get paid, eventually for those shutdown days. Knowing that the contractors I work with, who do building maintenance, security, and other stuff won’t get paid, at all, makes it really hard for me to feel bad for myself and most other feds.

So in the vein of when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, or lemon tea, or lemon pasta, I’m making the most of it. On the first real day of the shutdown the Help and I went on a day-date and saw a movie. The rest of the week has been mainly about cleaning. Deep cleaning. The kind of cleaning a maid service typically won’t do. We got one of those dinner and a movie gift cards, so we may see another movie. If the shutdown goes past January 3rd, I informed the Help he was going to get a very expensive hausfrau. I may tackle somethings I’ve been avoiding, some sink repair, window cleaning, and bookshelf dusting (requires moving a ton of books and my MILs ashes).

I’ll probably check out some Shaw stuff, but seriously, there are a lot deferred cleaning jobs around the house demanding my attention. And now those unpaid jobs have it.

Some DC Homeowner Tax Hacks

319 R St NW, 20001Yes, I know it is a click-baity title but bear with me, I got some good stuff.

1- Get your property taxes deferred. Single? Do you make less than $50K a year? Then you may be able to get a deferment. Unfortunately this doesn’t look like the same deferment I had. Those were 5 wonderful years of not paying any property tax, then one year, I made about $500 too much, and that was the end of that. It looks like you fill out the second (1st half is for old people) part of form FP-110.

2- Are you 65 years or older OR do you receive SSDI? Pay less on your property taxes than those suckers with just a Homestead Deduction. Go to the forms page, fill out FP-100.

3- Did you for some odd reason not take the $5000 if you bought during or before 2011, the 1st time homeowner tax credit? Really? That was just free money. Since there can’t be too many people that qualify for this, I’m going to move on.

4- Do you make $20K or less? You don’t have to be a homeowner for this, renters can qualify. On your DC state income tax, fill out Schedule H, you’ll get a credit.

 

Power to the People: Let Residents Ticket

DC has an enforcement problem. Illegal construction. Residency for DC Schools. Traffic. Parking. Just having a law on the books does not solve the problem. Also there are activities that local MPD won’t deal with unless they observe the illegal action with their own eyes. So calling 911 a dozen times won’t result in diddly or squat. It is very frustrating.

Part of the problem is the city has decided that only the city can enforce its laws. Well that would be great if it did.

Van illeagally parkedI have a suggestion. Empower DC residents to ticket. Have DC residents provide the kind of evidence that would be admissible in court, via an app specifically for parking violations that would guide the citizen in what kind of images are needed to prove the parking violation. There are hundreds of cyclists who would love to ticket the various cars and delivery trucks that take up bike lanes. There may be several dozen people who would to ticket… and tow (if they could) the cars that park in their individually assigned handicap parking spots, as well those blocking curb cuts.

Maybe when the city actually enforces the law, with its own people, a contractor charging millions, or Lord forbid its own citizens, maybe people will actually respect and follow the law.

Can Cops and Teachers live in subsidized housing?

The Advoc8te who runs Congress Heights on the Rise pointed out a problem with income limited or affordable housing in DC. That has continue to bug me, because for years at community meetings when ‘workforce’ housing is trotted out residents are told it would allow government workers such as police and teachers to live in the communities they serve. Then when I see the income limits and then look at the starting salaries for DC police and teachers, I think, I’ve been lied to.
Sign- Join DC MPD I decided to just glance at what DC pays its teachers and police. Almost all government employees’ salaries are public, mine, my spouse’s, my cousin who makes a quarter of a million, it’s no secret, so I can actually see what DC pays. Grade school teachers, not teachers aides, not substitute teachers, nor administrative staff, if they’ve been teaching 3-4 years at least, are in the $60-70K range. There is a school librarian making six figures, as a fellow librarian, I say good for them. I didn’t pay much attention to MPD salaries, but officers are making over $60K. That makes sense if this poster is true and the pay starts at $55,362. If a teacher and cop fall in love, a la rom-com adventure, they’re making six figures as one household if they marry.

Okay, let’s get back to housing and income limits. There are a couple of key things you have to keep in mind, household size and AMI, area median income or MFI, median family income.

2018 income limits for DC Say Anna works for a non-profit and makes $40K, and there is a new affordable housing development with studios and 1 bedrooms that’s at 50% and 60% AMI/MFI. She might be able to get a studio at 60% MFI, but not at 50%. She makes too much at 50%. But if Anna was a single mom, a household of 2, aiming for a 1 bedroom (I don’t remember the rules about this), she would qualify at 50%. Looking at this table, and going on my memory,  the DC government employees who could qualify are school custodians, teacher’s aides, and some DC Public Library staff. The city doesn’t pay our librarians enough.

BACA on Langston School

100_0404.JPGThe Langston School on the unit block of P St NW has been vacant, and crumbling for years, possibly decades. The building is in such bad condition, charters who get 1st dibs on DC school buildings have given it a hard pass.

So after decades of nothing from the city, the Bates Area Civic Association (BACA) has decided to attempt to tackle the problem.  Take a look at the BACA Resolution in Support of Development Proposal for Langston School. To sum it up, BACA says it has been vacant for too long and is hurting the surrounding area, and maybe the National Peace Corps Association seems interested in it, please let them buy it.

 

Suing the city about daycare regs

The only reason why I’m curious about this is because I am a consumer of DC daycare, which is already expensive. I’m spending about $1500 a month, which I know is way cheaper than what some of my neighbors are spending on nanny shares and other daycare facilities. I’ve been told the wonderful women who care for the Babyman and his friends aren’t paid enough. The city decided that the lovely ladies need a college degree. I’m not sure who’s going to absorb that cost. As I mentioned, daycare is already f’ing expensive.

So there is a mom and two day care providers are suing the city, OSSE exactly, regarding the new regulations for childcare workers. Pictured is Ms. Sanchez who has a daycare in her home and claims the new regulation would put her out of business. My heart goes out to the parents who use her services, ’cause daycare waitlists ’round here are horrid. As soon as you are pregnant, find a daycare, get on their waitlist.

So I’m curious about this case. I’m also curious about increases in childcare costs to pay for the degree. I really hope we don’t lose the women Babyman seems most attached to at his daycare, but it is likely that will happen.