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Big Referral Fees
For Little Work
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Your only obligation is to phone or e-mail Tom Ramstack with the name, address, phone number or e-mail address of the seller. In most cases, it should take no more than 10 minutes of your time.
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The referral fees are offered to anyone in the District of Columbia but only real estate licensees in other states. However, non-real estate agents can receive credits equal to the referral fee toward the purchase or sale of property in Virginia and Maryland.
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Law Firm's Report Blasts Councilmember
For Alleged Financial Conflicts of Interest
The law firm of O’Melveny & Myers came out with a scathing report last week that documents financial conflicts of interest and apparent cover-ups by D.C. Council member Jack Evans.
The report is adding to calls for Evans (D-Ward 2) to resign or be forced out as the D.C. Council’s longest serving lawmaker. It also has prompted inquiries from federal prosecutors.
“O’Melveny’s investigation found that Evans made some efforts to avoid ethical issues associated with his outside legal and consulting activities, but his overall approach was inadequate and based on a ‘I know it when I see it’ standard, rather than adherence to the actual provisions of the Code of Official Conduct,” the law firm’s report says.
In 2011, Evans proposed a bill to move more city government deposits into local banks, one of which was EagleBank. Since then, the city’s deposits in the bank have grown from $25 million to $67 million this year, according to city records.
However, Evans never disclosed that he owned tens of thousands of dollars of EagleBank stock. The D.C. Council’s Code of Official Conduct requires the financial disclosures on forms filed with the city government.
Supreme Court Arguments on Immigration
Hint at Conflict with D.C. Government
Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court this week indicate a conflict is coming soon with the District of Columbia government over immigration policy.
Comments from the Supreme Court justices during oral arguments show a majority is leaning toward granting the Trump administration’s plan to end the “DACA” program that has allowed nearly 800,000 young people to avoid deportation.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is an Obama administration program that allows some residents brought into the United States illegally as children by their immigrant parents to remain without risk of deportation.
President Donald Trump wants to end the program, saying immigration should be reserved only for persons who enter the United States legally.
The Trump administration policy conflicts directly with D.C. Council legislation, which forbids local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal officials to deport illegal immigrants without a court order.
The Supreme Court’s five conservatives implied this week that the Homeland Security Department was acting within its executive branch authority when it moved to end DACA in 2017.
Liberals on the Supreme Court said the Trump administration did not give an adequate explanation for the shutting down DACA that could be justified under constitutional law.
"This is about a choice to destroy lives," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
D.C. in Brief
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.
Letters to the Editor
Public Policy Foundation Appeals
Lawsuit Seeking D.C. Voting Rights
Oral arguments are scheduled for this month in a lawsuit by a public policy foundation that accuses the federal government of violating constitutional rights of Washington, D.C. residents by denying them the voting rights of statehood.
The lawsuit by the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice says the District of Columbia should be given two voting U.S. senators and one representative in Congress. Instead, there is only one non-voting delegate to Congress, namely Eleanor Holmes Norton.
“Residents of the District have elected a delegate to the House of Representatives since 1970, but the delegate is unable to vote—even though Congress can and does act as the District’s local legislature,” a DC Appleseed Center statement says.
Congress carved the District of Columbia out of parts of Maryland and Virginia in 1790 as a means of freeing itself from local politics that might influence national policies.
The lawsuit was filed originally in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The District Court dismissed the complaint, which led to the appeal scheduled for a Nov. 26 hearing.
The lawsuit accuses Congress of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Despite an obligation to pay federal taxes, D.C. residents have no vote in Congress, the lawsuit says.
The DC Appleseed Center and its pro bono attorneys seek a declaratory judgment saying District residents should have their own voting representatives in Congress.
Other groups have tried previously to sue in federal court seeking statehood or voting congressional representatives for the District of Columbia. So far, their court action has failed.
The courts have ruled that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution gives Congress authority to grant voting rights only to states, not the District of Columbia.
A pep rally is planned for Nov. 26 at the federal courthouse with speakers such as Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
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Task Force Recommends Replacing
D.C. Jail After Safety Complaints
The local jail should be replaced and more city-wide programs should seek crime prevention, according to a report released last week that was sponsored by the District of Columbia government.
The task force also recommended better community reentry programs for offenders released from prison.
The District Task Force on Jails and Justice based its recommendations on interviews with more than 2,000 inmates, their families, jail employees, homeless persons and residents near the jail in Southeast Washington.
“The District should make early investments in fulfilling the basic needs that research shows prevent justice system involvement, focusing on safe and affordable housing, quality education, physical and mental wellness and reducing income disparities,” the report says.
“Demand is high for community investment in housing, mental wellness, youth programming and basic needs, jobs and alternatives to police, in part because of preference for addressing crime through prevention and alternative interventions,” it says.
Blogger Sued for Defamation by Attorney
Who Was Accused of Elder Abuse
A Washington, D.C., lawyer who writes a blog about attorney discipline is being sued for defamation by one of the people mentioned in his Internet posts.
Attorney John Szymkowicz claims career damage and "personal humiliation" from the blog written by ethics lawyer Michael Frisch, who accused him and his father of misconduct while representing an elderly client.
"Despite knowing that the disciplinary proceedings had been brought by a misguided disciplinary counsel, and despite knowing that J.P. Szymkowicz had been exonerated by every tribunal to have considered the matter, defendants continued to accuse him of misconduct and elder abuse — recklessly disregarding the repeated findings that these allegations were false," says the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Frisch, a former bar counsel for the D.C. Court of Appeals, wrote about a family trust case handled by Szymkowicz & Szymkowicz LLP. One family member filed ethics complaints against both lawyers that accused them of dishonesty and conflicts of interest in representing her mother and brother.