— Dyana Forester (@DaOrganizer) March 21, 2016
Dozens of community members flocked to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts this morning to sing, chant and wave signs across from members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.
Westboro parishioners gathered in front of the school at 2501 11th St. NW earlier this morning to tell students “to fear God and keep His commandments.”
But dozens of counter-protestors — including D.C. councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and David Grosso — showed up in opposition of the notoriously anti-gay church. At one point, protestors broke out into “Amazing Grace” to drown out Westboro’s brand of “truth.”
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso has waded into a heated debate over the National Zoo’s new, shortened hours, calling on the leader of the zoological park to bring back its old opening and closing times.
In a letter sent to director Dennis Kelly yesterday, Grosso wrote that locals who live near the zoo are “extremely disappointed” by the decision to open the facility at 8 a.m. and close it at 7 p.m. in the summer and 5 p.m. in the winter. The zoo had opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m. in the summer and 6 p.m. in the winter before the new hours went into effect Friday.
Some D.C. residents are petitioning for the return of the old hours. But zoo officials haven’t budged on the new opening and closing times, saying the old hours posed a safety risk to pedestrians who shared the same paths as zoo vehicles when it was dark.
The town hall meeting, which will be held in the community room on the second floor of the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets, is an opportunity for the residents to weigh in on an education funding plan passed by the D.C. Council in May.
The plan includes the modernization of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, a $1.6 million allocation for a new literacy intervention program and new funding priorities for public schools.
Residents are encouraged to RSVP before attending the town hall.
Tired of all the muggings and stabbings happening on your street? Upset about that intersection near your apartment where you’ve almost been hit on your bike, twice? Want to weigh in for or against the proposed liquor moratorium? Or do you have something positive to report — a city service that was completed efficiently, maybe; or good feedback on the development coming to your neighborhood?
Now you can unload all the good and the bad with someone who could actually do something about it. This Thursday, two DC Councilmembers are having informal meet and greets or “office hours” in and around Borderstan: new Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) and longtime Councilmember (and likely mayoral candidate) Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who now has most of Shaw in his Ward.
These open meetings provide an intimate setting away from City Hall for you to ask your biggest questions and actually get answers. Did you come up with a plan to fix the Metro escalators? Have a brilliant idea for the public school on your block? Want to suggest a parking ticket amnesty day? Don’t keep those to yourself — share them!
Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6)
- Community Office Hours: Azi’s Café (1336 9th Street NW) on Thursday, March 28, 8 a.m to 9:30 a.m.
Councilmember David Grosso (At-Large)
- Grosso Near You: Big Bear Café (1700 1st Street NW) on Thursday, March 28, 8 am to 9:30 am.
From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
An attempt to slow down the rise of DC home property assessments took a step forward on Monday, March 11. The DC Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue heard testimony about the possible effects of new law which caps yearly increases of a property’s tax assessment at five percent.
The current cap is 10 percent. DC Council Bill 20-0022 would also eliminate the current requirement that a property’s assessment be at least 40 percent of its market value.
An assessment is defined as “[t]he value assigned to your home by a government tax assessor to determine property tax payments.”
History of the Bill
Committee on Finance and Revenue Chair, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), opened the meeting by recapping the bill’s history. In recent years, assessed values of many district properties have increased by 25 to 50 percent, Evans said. In response, laws were passed to limit the maximum possible increase in a property’s assessed value.
The first law limited assessment increases to 25 percent yearly. Then successive laws limited assessment increases to 12 percent, and then to 10 percent. Still, Evans said, people testified last year that they can no longer afford to pay taxes on a yearly 10 percent increased assessment.
“There seems to be widespread support on the council” for the measure, Evans said. He added, however, that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson does not support the bill. Speaking after Evans, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) called the bill “an important one.”
Impact on City Revenue
The only witness testifying about Bill 20-0022 was Stephen M. Cordi, Deputy Chief Financial Officer at the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. Cordi testified that the changes were “straight forward” and there would be “no significant problem with implementation.” Cordi said that, without the legislation, the assessments of over half the properties in DC would go up over 5 percent.
When pressed for a ballpark estimate of the possible annual loss of revenue to the city, Cordi speculated that the figure might be around $10 million, but emphasized that he was not sure.
The bill will move into final committee markup in four to eight weeks, after which it must be approved by the full council and the mayor, and reviewed by Congress.
At the same meeting, the council heard testimony on bills to grant property tax relief to certain individual organizations. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) joined the meeting to champion relief for two projects in his district, the low-income Jubilee Housing Residential Rental Project and the Gala Hispanic Theater.
Representatives from The Washington Latin School and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception also testified in favor of their requests for property tax relief.