Justice Department Says D.C. and Maryland
Lack Standing for Lawsuit Against Trump
by Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
The Justice Department is saying plaintiffs in lawsuits like the one filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C. this month lack standing to sue the president for his business dealings.
The Justice Department filing responded to a lawsuit that says government payments to Trump’s business empire violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh say Trump is using his role as president to attract business from foreign and domestic governments to his hotels, including the Trump International Hotel a short walk from the White House.
The attorneys general say local governments in Maryland and Washington feel pressured to give special treatment to Trump’s businesses, thereby drawing revenue away from other companies.
Racine and Frosh are asking the U.S. District Court in Maryland for a court order blocking Trump from receiving any money beyond his salary as president.
Alexandria City Council Delays Vote
On New Business Improvement District
The Alexandria City Council voted this week to delay a decision on whether to organize a business improvement district (BID) until no later than October to give residents more time to comment on the proposal.
The controversy involves a tax that 735 property owners would be forced to pay for the opportunity to benefit from the marketing and downtown beautification the BID could offer.
The tax would be levied at ten cents per $100 of assessed value, which would raise about $2.2 million a year for BID activities.
The City Council is considering organizing a BID in response to an economic study that shows retail stores in Old Town need to coordinate their marketing to be able to compete successfully in the Washington area’s tough business community.
The proposal calls for the city to organize the BID but then turn over control to a 25-member board that would negotiate with the city for services.
Mayor Allison Silberberg is one of the Council members warning against a hasty approval. She said enough members of the business community have expressed opposition to a BID in emails to her office that city officials need to listen to more of their opinions.
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Letters to the Editor
Study Shows Higher Accident Rates
In States with Legalized Marijuana
Personal injury attorneys in the District of Columbia should expect more business from traffic accident lawsuits, according to results from a new industry study.
The Highway Loss Data institute reports that collision claims have risen an average of three percent in states that legalized recreational use of marijuana.
In the District of Columbia, residents can legally possess as much as two ounces of marijuana after a 2015 change in the law.
Previous studies about the effects of marijuana on drivers have been inconclusive. Some showed marijuana use doubles the risk of a traffic accident. A recent federal study found no effect on driving risks.
The Highway Loss Data Institute compared collision reports in Colorado, Oregon and Washington with surrounding states before and after recent changes in the law. Colorado, Oregon and Washington have each legalized recreational marijuana but the surrounding states continue to make it illegal.
“The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” says Matt Moore, senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute, a research organization for the insurance industry. “The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.”
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D.C. Council Considers Changing
Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act
by Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
The Washington, D.C. government is considering changes to the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) as complaints increase about tenants using the law to extract money from landlords.
The law gives tenants a first right of refusal to purchase a property when the landlord decides to sell it.
The law also could be abused by tenants if they decide to delay a property sale until the owner gives them money to relinquish their TOPA rights, according to critics of the legislation.
The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors has been collecting stories from real estate agents about TOPA abuses. GCAAR officials plan to present them to the D.C. Council in hope of getting the law changed.
Some of the stories tell about low-income residents being stuck in buildings that are inadequately maintained because TOPA has interfered with the owners’ ability to sell a property. Instead, the owners are forced to keep the buildings as rental properties despite lacking adequate income to operate them properly.
Book on Boston Marathon Bombs
Shows Lone Wolf Terrorism Rises
A new book that reports on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and trial of the convicted killer shows the attack was only an early example of more coming soon.
Boston's Bloody Marathon uses the bombings by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother as an example of the lone wolf terrorism increasingly encouraged by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Lone wolves refer to terrorists who plot their attacks alone, usually with no organization to support them and no official links to violent groups. There is almost no way to know their next target until they strike. U.S. intelligence agencies call them perhaps the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies.
Boston's Bloody Marathon, by Tom Ramstack, is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Family of Police Shooting Victim
Says Investigation Takes Too Long
by Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
The family of a man killed by Washington, D.C. police is asking for results in a criminal investigation of the officer who shot him.
The family of Terrence Sterling says the officer killed him after he accidentally hit the door of a patrol car with his motorcycle.
Police say the officer was getting out of the car to stop the motorcycle after Sterling was seen operating it erratically. They also say Sterling appeared to ram the police car’s door intentionally, prompting the officer to fire shots into Sterling’s neck and back.
The investigation into the Sept. 11, 2016 shooting near the Third Street tunnel in Northwest D.C. is continuing, which is part of the reason the family is complaining.
Critics of the way police handle officer-involved shootings say the Sterling case is another example of the U.S. Attorney’s office and D.C. police engaging in excessive delays with their investigations.