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    Entries in d.c. (14)

    Wednesday
    Mar222017

    States Go Old School to Fight Tax Fraud

    D.C. and more than a dozen states are shunning paperless refunds to avoid being conned out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
    BY  MARCH 22, 2017

    As fraudsters go high-tech to scam governments for tax refunds, some states are employing decidedly low-tech ways of stopping them.

    In 15 states and the District of Columbia, tax returns that are flagged as unusual are issued as a paper refund check. The old-school method comes as tax filers are more susceptible to having their identity stolen. "When there's a suspicious situation, we send paper checks because that has to go to a physical person," says D.C. CFO Jeff DeWitt.

    Things that could flag a return include the filer having a new mailing address or using a bank account from previous years.

    Click to read more ...

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    This Government Bond Insures Against Failure

    The first-ever environmental impact bond gives an agency some of its money back if its idea doesn't pan out.
    BY  NOVEMBER 10, 2016

    As the drive for accountability in government spending increases, many are looking for ways to keep from paying the full price for programs that don't work.

    In Washington, D.C., that desire has led to the first-ever environmental impact bond, issued this fall by DC Water, the city's water and sewer authority. The $25 million bond will pay for new, green infrastructure like rain gardens and permeable pavement to reduce stormwater runoff.

    But if the projects don't work as expected, that's where the new financing structure comes in. Under the terms of the bond, which DC Water sold directly to Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and the nonprofit Calvert Foundation, the utility stands to get a multimillion discount on its total borrowing costs if the project doesn't meet a certain threshold.

    It's essentially an insurance policy on the project's effectiveness. Here's how it works: After five years, the new infrastructure will be evaluated. If stormwater runoff isn't reduced by at least 18.6 percent, investors will owe DC Water a $3.3 million "risk share" payment. The payment represents a near-full refund of the 3.43 percent interest rate payments DC Water made during the first five years of the bond. After that, the bonds would likely be refinanced into 25-year bonds. DC Water would also drop green infrastructure projects and go back to so-called gray ones (like pumps and water tunnels) to reduce runoff.

    Click to read more ...

    Monday
    Feb082016

    Is Paying People Not to Commit Crimes Effective?

    Washington, D.C., may offer some people financial incentives to follow the law. It wouldn't be the first.
    BY  FEBRUARY 8, 2016

    If the threat of jail or job loss isn’t enough incentive not to commit a crime, here’s one more: cash money.

    That’s the tactic Washington, D.C., is considering after the city suffered an alarming 54 percent increase in its murder rate last year. A similar approach in Richmond, Calif., has helped to reduce crime.

    The city council in D.C. gave unanimous but preliminary approval to a bill earlier this month that would identify up to 200 young people a year considered at risk of either committing or becoming victims of violent crime. If they complete behavioral therapy, life planning and mentorship programs run by the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement -- and stay crime-free the entire year -- they would get paid.

    The bill doesn't specify how much participants could earn, but the program would cost an average of $1.2 million a year for the first four years, including $460,000 for stipends.

    Click to read more ...

    Monday
    Jul232012

    Angry council members tired of drama as Kwame charged again 

    Liz Farmer and Alan Blinder, Examiner Staff Writers

    The Examiner (Washington, DC) June 8, 2012 

    As news of another charge against former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown rippled through city hall one day after he resigned in disgrace, his former colleagues said theyre shell shocked and done with the drama that has rocked the John A. Wilson Building this year. 

    "I'm angry. Im furious. Those people Harry Tommy Thomas [Jr.], Kwame their behavior has disgraced the District of Columbia," the councils acting chairwoman, Mary Cheh, of Ward 3, said Thursday.

    It has been an unprecedented year for the city, during which two lawmakers have resigned in the face of federal charges.

    In January, Thomas became the first council member of the Home Rule era to resign when he abruptly left office before pleading guilty to stealing more than $353,000 in city funds.

    Five months later, Browns resignation came hours after prosecutors charged him with bank fraud for allegedly lying about his income on a loan application.

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    Monday
    Jul232012

    Marion Barry lectures on ethics during chaotic Council session

    June 13, 2012

    Liz Farmer
    Washington Examiner Staff Writer

    The D.C. Council is in such disarray that Marion Barry -- convicted of drug and tax offenses -- is lecturing his colleagues on ethics.

    "We are the laughingstock of the nation," Barry said Wednesday.

    At-large Councilman David Catania took a shot back at the "Mayor for life."

    "The worst perpetrators are sitting on this dais," Catania said, lamenting the fact that a "member of the [Finance and Revenue] Committee is a convicted criminal, hasn't paid his taxes and yet he's allowed to lecture others on ethics and vote on tax policy."

    The exchange was part of a 100-minute session to select a new chairman that saw another legislator in tears, a would-be chairman declaring he is "the best" and plenty of gavel-pounding and fist-banging for effect.

    Click to read more ...