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Food Stamp Expansion Takes Place PDF Print E-mail
Written by Charles Allen   
Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Yesterday, roughly 4,000 DC residents gained greater access to food for their families.

Last year, Council approved a new policy initiative referred to as "categorical eligibility." It's not a very exciting name, but it creates an expansion of the federally funded Food Stamps program for households with incomes up to double the federal poverty level to have access to food stamps. Previously, food stamps were limited to households at 130% of federal poverty.

The expansion is due to a legislative effort by Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Michael A. Brown.

You can read more about the food stamp expansion on the DC Fiscal Policy Institute blog by clicking here.


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 March 2010 )
DDOT Suspends Emergency No Parking Sign Distribution PDF Print E-mail
Written by Charles Allen   
Friday, 12 March 2010

We've just received the following announcement from the Department of Transportation: 

DDOT Temporarily Suspends Emergency No Parking Sign Distribution at MPD Stations; Signs Still Available at DDOT’s Public Space Permit Center

(Washington, D.C.) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is currently in the process of implementing changes to the current Emergency No Parking and Reserved Parking policies and procedures.  Normally, the public may obtain no parking signs for restricting parking in public space at the Metropolitan Police Department’s District stations.  This policy has been suspended temporarily.

“We realize this is an inconvenience but it is a very short term suspension,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein.  “In about two weeks people will again be able to apply for signs at the MPD District stations.”

In the interim, people can still apply for signs at DDOT’s Public Space Permit Branch located at 941 North Capitol Street, NE until March 18 and then at the Permit Branch’s new location at 1100 4th Street, NW after noon on March 22.

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Red Mountain Theater at Atlas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Daniel Conner   
Friday, 12 March 2010

RMTJoin Councilmember Tommy Wells and the Red Mountain Theater Company Performing Ensemble this Sunday at the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 7pm for a free performance.

The RMTC Performing Ensemble is an amazing group of 13-18 year olds, from Birmingham, Alabama, who participate in an unparalleled year-round musical theatre training program with Red Mountain Theatre Company. Previous performances have included concert appearances with Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lippa, David Friedman and Billy Porter, benefit and philanthropic performances throughout the community, as well as multiple customized performances for public and private functions. The Youth Programs are proud to represent Red Mountain Theatre Company, the city of Birmingham and the state of Alabama.

Their professional appearances have also included the concert version of Carousel with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Alabama Ballet, the James Hatcher Founders Fund Benefit starring Rebecca Luker and Douglas Sills in New York City, the 225th Anniversary celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Washington, D.C., a four-city tour of Italy as well as recent trips to Chicago, New York City, London and Greece.

Included in the Performing Ensemble repertoire, and suitable for any audience, are selections from Broadway’s greatest musicals including the crowd pleaser Mamma Mia Medley, “Big D” from The Most Happy Fella, a medley of “Bye, Bye, Blackbird/Crunchy Granola” from Fosse, “Favorite Son” from Will Rogers Follies, as well as a medley from In the Heights, and a rousing dance number from Barry Manilow’s Copa Cabana.

Taking a page from the great American songbook, the group also performs the patriotic medley American Tribute, and an acapella version of our national anthem. Contemporary music from composer Jason Robert Brown, the duo Marcy & Zina and “I Believe” from the Off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz are also presented. Songs of hope like “As Long as I Can Sing” and “Help is on the Way,” from composer David Friedman, have proven to be audience favorites, along with a blessing the group sings as a gift to listeners, “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You.”


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Last Updated ( Friday, 12 March 2010 )
Roundup of Links from M Street Meeting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Charles Allen   
Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A View of the M Street FreewayLess than a few hours after last night’s M Street SE / SW meeting had ended, blog posts were popping up all over the place with recaps of the discussion

In case you missed it, last night Tommy hosted a meeting to talk about several possible traffic calming and pedestrian improvements to M Street SE & SW through what’s known as a “complete street.” A complete street looks to reduce the number and speed of cars on the roadways, provide better pedestrian safety and access, and support alternate means of travel that connects neighborhoods.

AARP, a strong supporter of the concept, presented information about why a complete street is good for both older and younger residents.

Tommy outlined how over the next few years, the M Street SE & SW corridor will witness billions of dollars of development, a growth in 25,000 employees and 10,000 new residents. That’s equivalent to building a new small American city, and M Street will be the new main street. We can either plan now to have it serve the community’s needs, or end up with even more of a raceway that divides the neighborhood.

Currently, M Street is a 6-lane highway – plunked down in the middle of one of the most multi-modal neighborhoods in the city. Within blocks you can not only find major roadways, but you can ride Metrorail, Metrobus, or the Circulator, as well as catch a water taxi or even use the helipad. But M Street does not serve the needs for pedestrians and cyclists, instead, catering to the 1950's and 60's model of trying to move as many cars as possible through an area. A complete street is a different way to think about a street -- one that slows cars down, provides better pedestrian crossings and walking experience, and supports alternative modes of transportation.

Here are few links to write-ups from the meeting:

JDLand: Click Here
SWDC Blog: Click Here
WashCycle: Click Here
Link to Tommy's slides: Click Here


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 March 2010 )
Real Property Taxes in 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda O'Brien   
Tuesday, 09 March 2010

At this point, most of us have received our property tax assessments from the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR).  Let's face it, no way you slice it, not very many people enjoy paying taxes. For some though, there will be increases that may catch you by surprise and for others there may be slight decreases that also may come as a surprise.

We’ve received several phone calls and emails with one question – Why?

For those with a decrease, it is due to two factors – falling assessments and the Council’s cap of a yearly 10% increase in real property’s taxable assessment.

OTR has informed us that this year assessments are down an average of 5% on single family homes and more than 10% on commercial properties. With a lower assessment comes a lower tax bill. For those whose assessment has risen, the legislation enacted by the Council at the height of the sales boom that restricts real property taxation to no more than a 10% increase in the property’s taxable assessment each year, will afford some residents slightly lower real property taxes. But not all residential properties will see a decrease, and those that do, may only see a slight decrease.

For those with an increase, the answer requires a bit more information.

Many homes have typically enjoyed low tax bills over the last many years, and this year’s increase may be dramatic. Generally the less you have paid in the past, the more striking the increase will feel to you. This is due to a provision in the Mayor’s FY2010 budget that created a 40% floor on all residential property taxes.

With this change, homeowners who have historically paid on only a smaller percentage of the assessed value of their homes -- enjoying lower than normal tax bills for many years -- will now be required to pay taxes on at least 40% of the value of their homes.  For example, if a homeowner last year only paid on 15% of their assessed value, their tax bill this year will represent a sharp increase to what they paid last year, now at 40% of the value of their properties.  By comparison, most homeowners will continue to pay taxes on 60% of the assessed value as they always have. So even with the increase to a 40% floor, those taxes will be lower than the general population. 

Most of us, nonetheless, will continue to feel the pinch as the city continues to struggle with financial decisions in these tough economic times and faces a several hundred million dollar shortfall in the budget.

Our office is happy to provide more information and details, as well as help work with the Office of Tax and Revenue if you would like to explore one of the city’s several tax deferral programs.  Please call, 724-8072, or email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , and I will be happy to work with you.

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