Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The DC Culture of Corruption

Well, I am awestruck! According to the WaPo, it now looks like two DC government employees stole $31,000,000. AND NO ONE EVER NOTICED!!! And they've been at it for eight years! So much for the slander that DC government employees are shiftless drones.

I've always thought that the DC Office of Tax and Revenue was lazy and clueless. We know it can't be bothered to investigate and address property tax fraud even when it has the offenders pointed out by concerned citizens. But this is incompetence on a truly breathtaking scale!

CFO Gandhi has stated that the audit procedures in place would not detect such embezzlement, which makes you wonder whether there were any procedures in place at all. Let's look at what happened:

The Post has come up with at least 92 suspicious refund checks out of 8,000 (not a very large number) issued since 2000. Virtually all of these were written for more than $100,000, and in recent years the average amount of the phony checks has been more than $400,000! These are REFUND checks, folks. On PROPERTY TAXES! Can you actually imagine how often a situation would legitimately arise in which a taxpayer would be due a refund of that amount? Virtually never. The average amount for "normal" refund checks is around $10,000. But somehow no one noticed. The scandal only surfaced because a bank clerk refused to cash a check for over $300,000. Most of the checks apparently were not mailed out, but "held for pickup" in OTR. And still no one ever noticed anything strange.

Gandhi has demanded the resignation of some of his subordinates (the George Bush school of accountability?), but is insisting on remaining in office. And Fenty is standing by his man.

This is a shining example of the culture of corruption that pervades this city from top to bottom, because nobody ever follows up on where the money goes. I'm sure there's a Pulitzer Prize waiting for some enterprising investigative reporter who would do an in-depth investigation of what happens to all the money that gets poured into DC school maintenance funds (never mind the grotesquely top-heavy administrative staff). Who provides any financial oversight of all the charter schools that have sprung up like mushrooms, feeding off of public funds? (I know of one that purchased several million dollars in real estate a few years ago and is still sitting on empty properties that provide no visible contribution to the school.) The list could go on and on. No wonder no one gives a crap about a few grand spent on elusive laptop computers doled out to cronies of the ANC commissioner. How chickenshit can you get?

Call me naive, but this makes me really angry. And not only because I do pay my taxes and resent the fact that it's so easy for scofflaws not to pay and incur no penalty. It's just goddamn embarassing that the capital city of the United States is such a screwed-up disaster. Who can blame Virginia suburbanites for regarding DC as a laughingstock? We deserve it if we don't demand better. We can't just shrug our shoulders and sigh "Well, that's DC for ya" if we ever expect anything different. There's an election coming up next year, and it's time to make it hot for the complacent councilmembers-for-life who turn a blind eye to the daily grand larceny the DC government aids and abets.



At 11/15/2007 7:22 AM, Blogger si said...

I cannot wait to vote.

At 11/15/2007 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, for another, am, also, MAD AS HELL!

At 11/15/2007 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key problem is that we have no professional civil service only a legency Barry social service system. Until the public demands professionals with credentials and tie realistic metrics to their performance the public is unlikely to experience the kind of government it deserves. DC politicians are too scaried and/or lack the will to reform the system because they what to continue their lack luster performance. No wonder Congress will not give us a seat - we don't deserve it!

At 11/15/2007 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot wait to vote.

I agree, but with this reservation: we need some candidates.

No wonder Congress will not give us a seat - we don't deserve it!

I think that's backwards, at least to some extent. If we were treated like adults, we'd act like them. If we had representation in Congress, I don't think things would have gotten this pathetic in DC.

PS Could I make a teeny request? If you're going to post anonymously, could you pick a pseudonym, just so we can tell anonymous 1 from 2? Thank you.

At 11/16/2007 11:47 AM, Anonymous Whitman Watcher said...

Reminds me of the board at the Whitman Condominiums!

At 11/16/2007 7:32 PM, Anonymous ess said...

Chicken poop it may be,a $3000 anc grant, but the principle is the same--public assets are to be guarded and used for the public.
Not having a vote in the nation's affairs separates and isolates us from the whole American concept of being a nation under the rule of law.
Not that it is practiced as consistently and as well as we would like everywhere, but there is a much, much stronger sense of there being laws and people living by them elsewhere than in this city. That, in combination with the fact that so many of the population of DC were emancipated from slavery without any orientation for how to function in the society at large to take care of them selves and had to fend as best they could and what they knew for the most part was how some master had done it which wasn't really lawful but whatever they could get away with. Masters were never held accountable for what they did to the slaves and the savagery and dishonesty were endless. That way of being 'free' has been passed down many times over contributing to very weak ground in DC for a local government that can actually function in the interest of the whole people with good functional, trustworthy systems. And the one we have is only 33 years old! That is an infant in city governing in America and hugely retards what we can do and how we can do it. That is why the anc's are so important--they give us the chance to shape the government so that it does work as well as possible, for us, (not some vague "world class") including finding weaknesses and pointing them out and many other ways we can address how it operates so that we can get it up to a level where this sort of stuff is the exception and doesn't embarrass the daylights out of us nor give those who hate Home Rule and democracy for DC citizens reasons to say, "see, I told you so."
People who do understand and
accept and live by "the rule of law" have to stand up for that even though we don't have a vote in Congress just yet. That means holding our anc accountable for that $3000.

At 11/17/2007 8:12 AM, Anonymous rr 446 said...

i was just going to add to the culture of corruption the ECCA arrogance of power to ignore the DC auditor. i emailed jack evans last week about the culture of corruption in the ECCA and he hasn't returned my emails. what does that tell you folks?


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