‘Not enough people caring’

September 10, 2013

Carmen Starks, 64, was erroneously charged $8.61 in interest on her property tax bill because of a delay at the D.C. tax office in processing her payment. The interest charge forced her into a court battle to save her home on V Street NW. (Michael S. Williamson / The Washington Post)

Perhaps you read the first two parts of the Post’s look at the D.C. property tax office and figured the problems exposed therein — homes being sold over piddling tax bills, likely collusion by corporate lien buyers — while unsettling, only affect those irresponsible enough to stop paying their taxes. Well, think again. The District’s Office of Tax and Revenue has a jaw-dropping error rate, selling liens for some 1,900 properties over the past six years that were subsequently canceled at taxpayer expense — about 20 percent of the total sold. Many of those cancellations were due to errors recording payments or poor notifications, meaning owners did not know they owed the city while their homes were sold to sometimes rapacious speculators. Agency officials tout progress, but this year’s tax sale still saw a 7 percent error rate, while most suburban jurisdictions are at 1 percent or less.

In other news:

Officials react with outrage and pledge changes but did not heed earlier warnings (PostWTTG-TVWashingtonianHousing ComplexLoose LipsUrbanTurfDCist)

The public is outraged, too (Post)

Syria debate is used to highlight voting rights as Eleanor Holmes Norton continues to doubt war push (PostRoll CallLoose Lips)

Higher speed limits mean fewer tickets and less revenue (Post)

DCPS turns to home visits to improve student results (Post)

Howard University’s U.S. News ranking takes a dive (Post)

The Donald and The Ivanka are in town today to sign their Old Post Office lease and unveil new renovation plans (Capital Business)

Most elected officials back marijuana decriminalization, but legalization is a whole other ball of wax (WaTimes)

Metro ridership, revenue plummets — especially on weekends (Dr. GridlockGGW)

Motorcyclists sulk after Park Service denies “no stop” permit for megaride (WaTimesDCistUS News)

Pony up your Chuck Brown art tribute ideas — “sculpture, statue, creative fence or wall, paving pattern” all acceptable (DCist)

Seventy percent of D.C.’s pregnancies are unintended (Wonkblog)

Firefighters gather at Tune Inn to remember fallen brother, posthumous robbery victim Terrence Boston (Post columnWTOP)

“One robber was so bold that after they took the safe, he came back unarmed for a half-gallon of tequila” (WJLA-TV)

Vincent Orange has lost a lot of weight! (Loose Lips)

$2 million in grants intended to encourage “blended learning” in D.C. schools (Post)

West End Library will settle in Watergate during redevelopment (WBJ)

Michael O’Keefe is now a Superior Court judge (Legal Times)

Forty-two months in prison for young FBI analyst who admitted to child porn trafficking (Post)

ANC insists building across from Metro station have two levels of underground parking (SALM)

Near-fury over tattoo regs (Post letter)

A Ben’s Chili Bowl in … Arlington? (WBJGOG)

Anchorman extraordinaire Brian Bolter leaves WTTG-TV to pursue his calling as restaurateur (Post)

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | September 9, 2013