Speakers Table

Pandering on Taxes

January 31, 2012


Though it is nothing new, I am still amazed at the pandering politicians do when it comes to taxes.

On Monday the District announced its best audit results in years. It was confirmation that we once again have an administration that is focused on bringing long-term financial stability to the City. This is the kind of financial oversight that people say they want and that we haven’t had since Mayor Tony Williams’ administration.

So instead of discussing the importance of this audit result to the District, what do the Council chair and the chair of the Council’s Finance Committee do?

They immediately begin talking about potential new tax cuts and lamenting recent tax increases. They do this without any real review of where the potential future problems will be within the city’s budget based on the impact of a continuing slow economy and the real danger of less federal funding coming into the District.

What is interesting is that this pandering seems unnecessary. There hasn’t been any great outcry from District residents about D.C. income taxes. Many of the approximately 6,000 people that were impacted by the .4% rate increase in their income taxes, from 8.5% to 8.9%, most likely didn’t notice any difference in their lives. In addition, the impact of the increase was actually less than the .4% as they could take that small increase and deduct it from their federally taxed income.

One of the biggest benefits of the District once again being able to rebuild its reserve fund is that it will put us in good stead with the bond rating agencies, keeping our credit ratings high and thereby potentially lowering our long-term debt costs.

Instead of talking about lowering taxes it would be better for the Council to focus first on continuing to comb the budget for more cost savings. Then it would serve all residents well if they reviewed all the programs where additional spending could make a real difference in the long term for all the people of the District. Among those programs could be infrastructure, public safety, education, and job training.

Another area that could use some increase in funding in the District is the arts. We often forget that a strong and vibrant arts community often brings much more revenue into the District than the contribution that we make from public funds.

In the coming years there will most likely be cuts in various programs that we count on from the federal government. These include healthcare, public transportation, education and housing programs to name a few. We should begin planning for that eventuality, not just cut taxes today and find we have to raise them again a year from now. When government is efficient and watches our money carefully, the public is generally much more accepting of paying taxes.

I suggest all of our politicians have a conversation about efficiency, productivity and producing the best possible services for the people of the District instead of immediately making the easy call and suggesting lowering taxes because they think it makes them more popular.

By Peter D. Rosenstein 

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Alice Waters at the Sunday Market

January 22, 2012

I get so many benefits from visiting my local Farmers’ Market. First, are the people: Today, I bumped into my good friend, Ann Yonkers, the Co-Founder of Fresh Farm Markets, and with her, Alice Waters, Chef, Author, and Pioneer for a “Fresh, Clean, and Fair” Food Economy. Ms. Waters is in Washington, D.C. for several events benefiting Martha's Table and D.C. Central Kitchen.

When Fresh Farm Market opened about 11 years ago, it improved the quality of life for me and everyone who visits. The Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market is one of the few in the area open year-round.

Every Sunday morning in Fall and Winter, I’m there tasting which apple and pear variety is the best that week. Today “Pink Lady” got first prize. To me, it’s the epitome of a perfect apple: the ideal combination of crispiness, sweetness and tartness. But other weeks, I may prefer another variety.

I will be eating an apple-a-day this week with just a tad of Pimento Cheese Spread, bought from Keswick Creamery.

Today, I also picked up some carrots and parsnips, surprisingly tender and sweet right now. I love to puree them together to create "Mashed Carrots and Parsnips with Nutmeg."

I couldn’t resist  Toigo Orchard's Bourbon Peaches, picked perfectly ripe from their own orchards and flavored with, um, bourbon. DARN GOOD! I have many jars set aside to give as gifts to my grateful friends who don’t have access to my market. But I always have one set aside pour moi!

Tasting is one of my favorite parts of visiting the market; and that’s true for adults and children alike. When I teach children at the Capital Harvest on the Plaza (C.H.O.P.) Farmers' Market, it opens a whole new taste experience for them. It’s amazing how children can enjoy the differences in the apples: some are sweeter, others more tart, some are crunchier, others softer, there are even different colors outside and in! Children are very observant. One week, a child blurted out that the butternut squash looked like a peanut. Well, I had to agree… a giant peanut, anyway! After a visit to the market, I can confidently say those children go back to school and their homes begging for fruits and vegetables. Studies verify all it takes is positive exposure for children to prefer healthy food.

From my last market visit, I’m already stocked with onions, garlic, greens, and orchids. So I’m pleased to be able to enjoy another week of delicious, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Nothing makes it easier – and better for you – than buying locally. The fruits and vegetables are picked at peak ripeness, ensuring maximum flavor and nutritional value. You’re helping save the environment too!

By Katherine Tallmadge

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It takes our village

January 16, 2012

This story illustrates that Georgetown is a village, in the truest sense of the word. What began as an idea for a Georgetown "House Party” grew into an amazingly entertaining evening on Friday night because of the tight bonds and deep love we neighbors have for each other. When we heard the son of Georgetowner, Nancy Flinn Aaron Flinn, a Vermont singer, songwriter and guitarist - would be in town, neighbor Eli Hengst, co-owner of Sonoma Restaurant decided to provide a venue.  Next, all it took was a word from Nancy, and at least 70 neighbors and their friends showed up for one of the most entertaining evenings of the season.

Aaron Flinn, Burnett Thompson and Nancy Flinn (Photo by: Robert Arnold) Aaron Flinn, Burnett Thompson and Nancy Flinn

Flinn, the son of Georgetowner Nancy Flinn was on the final leg of a northeast tour performing original songs showcasing his new CD Release, "Miss Ready Blossom and the Seed of Dreams."  Eight appearances in nine days, including Vermont, RI, NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC and NJ, were capped off by Friday’s performance.  A local G-town house concert had been in the planning until Nancy’s Poplar Street neighbor, Eli Hengst, owner of Sonoma Restaurant, stepped up in a generous move to support Flinn’s music and offered the event room at Sonoma (in Capital Hill, but we won't hold that against him) to showcase Aaron’s performance.  

The evening turned into a Poplar Street Festival when 23 neighbors joined the crowd to celebrate the evening. Poplar Street moms and dads got babysitters for the night, singles invited friends and family, and many neighbors car pooled their way to Capitol Hill. Close to 70 people, ranging in age from five to ninety,  attended the concert which ran from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. 

Robert Arnold, Katherine Tallmadge, and Tracy Gordon (Photo by: ) Robert Arnold, Katherine Tallmadge, and Tracy Gordon

Some music lovers were there having heard about the event through email invites, some through Facebook pages, some word of mouth, including a group from Rose Park’s Dog Park

After being introduced and lauded by fellow musician, Burnett Thompson, as  “Vermont’s State Secret”, Flinn mesmerized the crowd for nearly three hours with his music and guitar techniques.  His instruments include a voice that ranges from basso to falsetto, guitars, a ukulele and a harp guitar.

His mom, Nancy, was told she was kvelling and she was!  "Aaron has lived music since he was two, she said.  "By the time he was twelve, he could do a bass run right along with Paul McCartney of the Beatles.  He won band competitions, guitar competitions and his newest CD was named one of Vermont's best for 2011!"  

Concert attendees (Photo by: Nancy Flinn) Concert attendees
(In the photo at right:  Nancy Flinn, Sarah Pietragallo (with daughter Francesca),
David Keller with his goddaughter, Katherine Tallmadge, Dick Weiss, dogs Dewey & Alviar)

Flinn, a prolific musician and composer, is a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music where faculty named him one of the school’s top singer-songwriters.  His new CD, his eighth release, is considered a great complement to his increasingly voluminous canon.  Bluegrass, rockabilly, breezy country and hard rock all rub elbows. Elements of folk, indie rock and classic pop combine with powerful vocals, poetic lyrics and finger-picking guitar.  Flinn has an impressive body of original work performed solo and with Salad Days, his band.  He described the evening at Sonoma as one of “the best, with an audience there to hear and appreciate music.”


By Katherine Tallmadge

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