Drug dealers--many of whom are arrested holding large sums of money or with other signs of conspicuous wealth--may have to hide their illicit earnings a little better because of a new law passed last week by the City Council.
Mayor Marion Barry is expected to sign the measure, which then will get a routine congressional review. It would allow the District to seize large sums of cash, expensive cars, and even homes, of people convicted of drug dealing if they were unable to prove the valuables were not obtained in connection with their drug dealing.
Under current law, the city must prove the money or valuables are linked to illegal drug trafficking. Council member John Ray (D-At Large), who introduced the bill last July, agreed with Police Chief Maurice Turner that a significant amount of city crime is drug related. "Drug use and addiction is threatening the very fabric of our lives," Ray said.
BYRNE ON HANDGUNS: Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne used the District's handgun control law as a model for legislation that she recently introduced in the Windy City. The District's law, authored by council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) and on the books since 1976, is considered one of the toughest in the nation.
TAX TIME: Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the council's finance and revenue committee, said this week he plans to offer legislation that would make the city's tax law more closely conform to federal tax statutes.
Wilson said his tax conformity act could cost the city about $5 million in revenues. Wilson's measure incorporates some proposals that have been before his committee, including one by Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) that would allow District residents to deduct contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and Keogh savings plans, and one by council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) to exempt deposits in All Savers certificates.
Wilson said he expects to introduce the bill Feb. 16.
TAX REFUNDS: Time is of the essence when filing tax returns, according to city revenue officials. The officials said they will run their income tax processing system 24 hours a day through April 15, hoping to cut the waiting time for tax refunds.
Taxpayers who filed error-free forms by Jan. 31 should get their refunds within two weeks, the officials said. Filing before March 15 should get your overpayment refunded within four weeks. Filings after that are expected to take about six weeks to process, according to the officials, who stressed that the forms must be error free.
CONVENTION BOULEVARDS: Council Chairman Arrington Dixon wants to rename two streets adjoining the new D.C. convention center "to highlight the importance" of the center to the city's economy.
Under his bill, 10th Street NW from the New York Avenue convention center site to Pennsylvania Avenue would be renamed "Convention Boulevard North." The segment also would be made one-way. Dixon would rename Ninth Street NW, from New York Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue, "Convention Boulevard South." Ninth Street is already one-way.
Dixon said he had in mind similar street renamings in New York City, where Seventh Avenue was officially tagged Fashion Avenue in the garment district. The bill has been sent to the committee on transportation and environmental affairs.
ELECTION REFLECTION: Remember the November elections, when thousands of persons were left off the voting rolls, causing massive confusion in some precincts? The Board of Elections and Ethics has appointed a five-member committee to take a 90-day look into the city's elections problems.
Jeanus Parks, a law professor at Howard University and a former elections board member, will head the committee. Its members: Clinton W. Chapman, president of the local trial lawyers association and a former elections board member; Barry Campbell, a former City Council staffmember who is now a director of the Institute for Economic Development; Gary Greehalgh, an official of the Federal Election Commission; and Evelyn Rooney, wife of former Pennsylvania congressman Fred B. Rooney.
Chairman Albert Beveridge said the elections board also is looking for an executive director. The job pays $50,112 annually.
FORGET ME NOT: Staff members of the mayor's office were slightly embarrassed earlier this week when they released the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The slick publication had left council member Clarke's name off the City Council list and had Ward 2 council member John Wilson listed in Ward 1--Clarke's ward. "If they can't count 13 council members, how do they expect us to believe their budget figures?" one council staffer joked.