[from January 2005 issue]


It seems that the White House is totally unconcerned with the decision of its highly-placed apparatchiks to give DC taxpayers The Shaft! For the first time ever, they appear to be adamantly opposed to reimbursing our local treasury for the extraordinary quadrennial expenses related to Inauguration activities.

Although the always perceptive Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy seems to attribute this refusal to the Bushies trying to squeeze dollars from wherever to cover the out-of-control federal deficit, exacerbated by the Iraq war spending, it looks to us that they are retaliating against the 95 percent of our citizenry that voted against them. Call us paranoid, but thatís our story and weíre sticking with it.

Fact is, the administrationís demand that we divert nearly $12 million from the special homeland security funds that had been allocated by the feds to DC for the very obvious reason that, like New York, this city is the place to attack once again when the opportunity presents itself to the international cabal of terrorists, is simply beyond the pale.

What have those apparatchiks been smoking? Why in a million years would they so casually divert these funds to help underwrite the cost of a huge (and in light of being at war, as the President constantly reminds us, an almost obscene) party?--a party being run by a private political entity known as the Inauguration Committee. Why, for example, must we taxpayers in effect help fund not just public safety overtime costs but also costs associated with erecting the bleachers and reviewing stands where fat-cat Republicans only will be permitted to occupy?

From what we understand having heard Homeland Security Secretary Ridge say in response to a well-placed question posed by WRC-TVís on-the-ball reporter James Adams, itís perfectly okay to take back these funds from us since we havenít gotten around to spending them yet. Wow! Thatís the old-time ďguvímntĒ attitude about using public funds rearing its idiot head again: Use it or Lose It. So, rather than the city being rewarded for not squandering these special homeland security funds appropriated to us by the feds as so many jurisdictions around the country have done, we are penalized for being prudent stewards of these funds with the idea that they should be used only for special needs beyond ordinary municipal expenditures.

Now we will be forced to siphon funds from regular operating accounts, to the detriment of citizen needs, all to make things nice for thousands of Republican out-of-towners who donít give a damn about us here who already contribute substantial tax revenue to George Bushís treasury. Not even that awful ďTricky DickĒ Nixon let his budget office screw us like this!

We have heard it said that the District of Columbia taxpayers should keep in mind that the citizens of New York City are called upon to chip in local funds for the benefit (somewhat more indirectly, of course) of the federal government in that NYC is not fully reimbursed for many of the personnel and security costs in connection with the presence of the U.N. and the myriad foreign consulates, trade missions, and the like. But there is a major difference between us taxpayers and those in the Big Apple, that being that they are not saddled with the burden of a Congressional prohibition on their city from raising tax dollars from non-residents who work in that city and use that cityís services.

We can not afford to be subsiding the federal governmentís operation or activities undertaken by the pals of a sitting president. Yes, itís true we would probably be a no-count town if George Washington hadnít decided this was a good spot to set up shop. But that begs the question, given that we and the seat of government have been here now for over two centuries.

We applaud our Congressional Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, for her efforts to get this decision reversed. We only wish Mayor Williams was more out-front and aggressive on the issue. (His passivity in dealing with the present administration and its handmaidens on the Hill for the past four years has not, frankly, proven to be of any obvious benefit.) With the amazing return of Marion Barry to political prominence, we are reminded that it was during one of his terms as mayor, when the Office of Management and Budget tossed out the notion that the feds would not reimburse for Inauguration-related expenses, he simply let them know that if they werenít going to pay then they could handle their own security by calling on the U.S. Army to provide police services. That put the kibosh on that notion pretty quick indeed. Itís not that we want to go out of the way to rain on their parade, but we wouldnít be at all unhappy if the present mayor would give the Barry gambit a try this time around.