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Tag Archive | "Vincent Gray"

Graham’s Alcohol Sales Tax Hike Appears Dead in Water


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

As we reported recently, Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) has proposed a significant increase in the District’s alcohol excise tax. It was designed to replace revenue that would have been generated by the Mayor’s one-hour bar alcohol service extension, which Graham opposed. Both proposals aim to eliminate a $172 million projected budget deficit.

Alejandra Owens

Looks like there won't be an additional tax on drinks at DC watering holes. (Alejandra Owens)

But as of late last week it appeared that Graham’s proposal was dead in the water. This turn of events was largely thanks to some strategic undermining by the hospitality industry, and even the mayor, who made a public push for his original budget proposal.

Councilmember David Catania (I-At Large) suggested implementing the mayor’s proposal temporarily and seeing whether it worked or not, saying the policy could be revisited if it proved to have the negative consequences some fear it would.

The Washington Blade’s Mark Lee notes the near-universal support of gay bar owners for the extension of alcohol service hours. Hardly newsworthy.

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Graham Taken to Task on Mayor’s Alcohol Law Proposals


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

The Washington Blade’s Mark Lee skewers Councilmemer Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) for his lack of support for Mayor Gray’s proposed extension of alcohol service and sales hours. Additionally, Lee faults Graham for proposing a hike in alcohol taxes, saying it would add to the already overburdened District hospitality industry.

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Borderstan.com covers DC's Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

Mayor Gray recently proposed allowing alcohol service and sales to be permitted one hour later. Graham proposed raising alcohol taxes as high as 10 cents per drink, an endeavor that would net an additional $34 million annually for the city.

Lee says Graham is out of step with the mayor and the people. Similarly, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington President Lynne Breaux called Graham’s failure “startling” and said the proposal’s failure was a “loss/loss” for the District.

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Hackers Take Down D.C. Sites, Post Gray’s Private Info


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How secure are your systems? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Last week, hackers took aim at the D.C. Government’s servers and websites. In addition to crippling sites like DC.gov and Washington.org for hours, the e-assailants posted personal contact and biographic information about Mayor Vincent Gray and his family.

According to DCist, the attackers are affiliated with a hacker group known as UGNazi and claim to be motivated by the government’s mishandling of Internet policy. Nikita Stewart at The Washington Post has more info.

Websites outside of the District, including NYC.gov, Military.com and even NASDAQ.com have been targeted in similar attacks by UGNazi and its minions. The group is also well-known for posting sensitive information about public figures, and has done so recently to the likes of Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, and Neil Patrick Harris. At least you’re in good company, Mayor Gray!

Back in February, The Hacker News reported that DC is the most vulnerable city in the United States when it comes to hacking : “Each city was ranked by the prevalence of PCs and smartphones and social media use with risk factors like unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots and malware attempts.” The Top 10 were  Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Raleigh and Austin — note the number of those cities that are centers for high-tech companies and entrepreneurs.

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Later Liquor Sales or “Pay $10,000 in Taxes”? (Not Really, Of Course)


By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

The most recent town hall event in Foggy Bottom yielded some interesting feedback from the crowd, who seemed decidedly opposed to Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposal to extend liquor sales hours. The move is intended to make up a budget shortfall, but some residents and Council members fear the short-term budget solution would cost residents peace, quiet and safety.

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Would longer hours for liquor sales and bars keep taxes down? (Luis Gomez Photos)

If approved, the change would allow bars and restaurants to continue slinging libations until as late as 4 am beginning October 1. The proposed change would also allow retail liquor sales to begin at 7 am, two hours earlier than what currently stands, Monday through Saturday (same for beer and wine sales at grocery stores). Sunday sales at liquor stores would still be prohibited.

The GW Hatchet covered the event and provided a choice quote. We’ve discussed the resident suing Mood Lounge in the past, and he showed up to voice his displeasure at the idea of having to hear more Beyonce at 3 am (we sympathize).

But the group opposing the liquor extension had best be careful about who they enlist to their cause, because a certain Mr. Smith’s comment may inflame some folks. During his remarks, he said, ““I’d rather have every citizen of DC pay an extra $10,000 a year in taxes to fill the budget hole than have this plan.”

Of course, I am sure the amount would not hit anything close to $10k per year per citizen in extra income tax — but you get the idea.

As noted in an earlier post from Alden Leonard, some local neighborhood listervs have been abuzz over the proposed changes (particularly the U Street one), in areas with a high concentration of bars and clubs. There are concerns about trash and litter, in addition to people being out and about drinking even later.

As a lady that likes her cocktails and just paid DC a good bit of money in taxes, I have to admit this gave me some pause. Clearly, it is not an either booze-all-hours or take a giant-tax-hike-choice. But put in terms like that…”All the Single Ladies” sounds a little less terrible to this writer.

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Restaurant Association Backs Extended Alcohol Sales Hours


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Photo of the Cairo Liquor Store at 17th and Church NW before its exterior makeover. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Earlier this month we reported that Mayor Vincent Gray had proposed extending alcohol service by one hour as part of his Fiscal Year 2013 budget. If approved, the change would allow bars and restaurants to continue slinging libations until as late as 4 am beginning October 1.

The proposed change would also allow retail liquor sales to begin at 7 am, two hours earlier than what currently stands, Monday through Saturday (same for beer and wine sales at grocery stores). Sunday sales at liquor stores would still be prohibited.

This week, the mayor’s proposal received an important endorsement from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). In testimony before the Council’s Committee on Human Services, RAMW President Lynne Breaux stated her “wholehearted” support of the initiative. Others in DC’s business community have expressed similar support.

It’s worth noting that some local neighborhood listervs have been abuzz over the proposed changes (particularly the U Street one), in areas with a high concentration of bars and clubs. There are concerns about trash and litter, in addition to people being out and about drinking even later.

Gray’s plan was inspired in large part by the extended bar service hours in January of 2009, in celebration of the Presidential Inauguration. For four days, bars and restaurants served booze into the wee hours, generating a surge of revenue for the city and, one assumes, a major hangover for the revelers.

Regardless of whether Gray’s proposal succeeds this time, he is also pursuing extended alcohol service for the 2013 and 2017 inaugurations.

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Activist Drops Campaign to Recall Mayor Gray, Council Chairman Brown


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

The Washington Times reports that the effort to recall Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown has fizzled. Fred Butler, who was organizing the effort, believes the ethics infractions of the city’s top officials will be revealed by ongoing federal investigations, and that his supporters’ money could be better used elsewhere.

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Organizer Fred Butler drops effort to recall Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown.(Luis Gomez Photos)

Among other obstacles, Butler faced a tight deadline by which he needed to turn in 45,000 signatures from city residents. And that was just to get the ball rolling. From there, Butler faced a long, expensive road and near-insurmountable odds of getting Gray and/or Brown removed from office.

But perhaps the greatest challenge to the recall effort was visibility, or a lack thereof. During the lead-up to last week’s primaries, Butler’s organization was weak at best, with little to no presence around the city as voters went to the polls.

Butler’s attempt joins a handful of other failed recall efforts in the District’s 34-year history of home rule.

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Mayor Gray Proposes Extension of Alcohol Service to Boost Revenue


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Mayor Vincent Gray unveiled his proposed 2013 budget at a news conference on March 23, and one surprising provision was the extension of alcohol service by one hour. The Washington Blade’s Mark Lee summarizesthe proposal nicely.

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In addition to extended bar hours, DC liquor stores would be allowed to open two hours earlier. (One Photograph A Day)

Gray’s proposal would permit District bars and restaurants to operate (and serve alcohol) until 3 am on weekdays and 4 am on weekends. It would also allow retail liquor sales to begin at 7 am, two hours earlier than what currently stands, Monday through Saturday (same for beer and wine sales at grocery stores). Sunday liquor sales would still be prohibited, unfortch.

Increasing alcohol sales is a tried-and-true method of revenue generation for most cities, the District no exception. This proposal — if accepted — is estimated to bring in an additional $5.3 million in sales tax revenue. The alternative to initiatives like this, Lee reminds us, is higher taxes on what is already among the highest-taxed locales in the country.

Reaction to Gray’s proposal by the public and the City Council has been calm so far, but both bodies will weigh in on the measure before its potential adoption this summer.

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Arrest Made in IHOP Hate Crime; Gay Man Was Shot March 11


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced Monday the arrest of a suspect in the March 11 shooting at the Columbia Heights IHOP. LaShawn Carson, a 27-year-old woman, has been charged with aggravated assault while armed.

"Borderstan" "IHOP"

Recent anti-gay violence led to a march from Columbia Heights to Dupont on Tuesday, March 20. (Luis Gomez Photos)

“I am pleased and relieved to announce that a suspect in this dastardly crime has been arrested,” Gray said in a statement.

The incident, which has been labeled an anti-gay hate crime under DC law, sparked a public outcry by community leaders and advocates, occurring in a series of of violence perpetrated on LGBT individuals.

In addition to the IHOP incident a gay man was badly beaten a few days later at the corner of Irving Street and Georgia Avenue NW, suffering serious injuries to his face and jaw.

On Tuesday, March 20, in an effort to raise awareness about violence towards the LGBT community, more than 500 people gathered at the IHOP at 14th and Irving Streets NW to march silently from Columbia Heights to Dupont Circle, passing the site of the assault at Irving and Georgia. The march was organized on Facebook by friends of the victims, Silent March for Victims of GLBT Violence.

The victim of the March 11 attack, who was hospitalized for a gunshot wound to his liver, is out of the hospital. The man who was robbed and beaten at Irving and Georgia Avenue NW has also been released from hospital.

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DC Council Moves Bill Forward on Food Truck Regulation


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

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Fojol Brothers food truck. (Borderstan file photo)

In the ongoing saga of DC’s efforts to regulate its plethora of new food trucks, DCist reports that the City Council has begun marking up legislation requiring these mobile vendors to charge sales tax. (See Borderstan’s previous coverage on the issue, links at bottom of story.)

The bill, which was introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) last year, would make food trucks charge 10 percent sales tax, the same rate paid by regular, non-moving restaurants. This is a victory for brick-and-mortar restaurants, who have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as an unfair playing field. Currently, mobile vendors pay a flat annual tax.

“This is not a fair system, and the evolution of the mobile vendor market requires a modernization of our tax laws,” Evans stated in a release.

Washington Blade columnist Mark Lee wrote a piece on February 28 in support of the proposal: “Fairness for all businesses should begin with food trucks paying the same sales tax rate as the rest of their hospitality and food service colleagues. The D.C. Council should act to establish a level playing field by approving this legislation.”

Food truck vendors have largely voiced opposition to this new provision, a departure from their earlier support for DC’s proposed regulations on mobile food vendors. One food truck advocate (and vendor) pointed out that paying equal taxes should go with equal treatment. Food truck operators have complained of police harassment, among other obstacles traditional restaurants don’t have to face.

The bill appeals to many in the District because of the revenue it would generate. If passed, the bill would take effect this October.

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New Hampshire: Thumbs Down on DC Statehood


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden@borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted down a proposal that would have made it the first state to endorse statehood for the District, DCist reports. The measure failed by a 248-79 vote that fell mostly along party lines. (See Borderstan’s previous coverage on the DC statehood movement, links at bottom of this post.)

Click for more photos from DC Flag Tattoo Day in Dupont Circle on June 14. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The vote followed a trip last month by a delegation of District officials who traveled to the Granite State to lobby the chamber to make DC the 51st state. State representatives in Concord balked at the request, questioning in particular whether granting such autonomy to the nation’s capital would be constitutional.

The delegation tried a number of arguments to sway the Chamber, but to no avail. There are other similar measures supporting DC statehood in state legislatures around the country.

Bordertan asked Martin Moulton, who is active in the DC statehood movement for comment.

“What I learned on my visit to Concord was that a majority of the state leaders, where I attended one of the top colleges in the United States, are completely ignorant about facts about our nation’s capital city. It’s 2012. I was shocked and embarrassed for them. When my father and aunts immigrated to this country, they needed a better understanding of civics than some of these lawmakers needed to get elected,” said Moulton.

In addition to being active in the DC statehood movement, Moulton is president of the Convention Center Community Association. He is also “#39″ — one of 41 DC residents arrested April 11 during a sit-in demonstration near the U.S. Capitol.

Check out the DC Vote site for more information about the statehood movement.

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