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Marcus Moore Restorations

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From the Publisher's Desk...

FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS COMING OUR WAY; LET’S HOPE THE CITY COUNCIL DOESN’T SQUANDER THE $$

We are not at all sanguine that the estimated $1 billion the District is projected to receive as its share of federal stimulus money won’t be siphoned off into pet projects of the mayor’s or council members’ favorite community groups, dubious nonprofits, silly pet projects, or what-not.

Receipt of these funds will carry a huge responsibility on the part of our politicians to allocate the money wisely and solely for the purpose intended – which, to name but two, includes stimulating the economy by jump-starting job creation through needed public works and infrastructure projects and by creating business growth opportunities for the small businesses which collectively account for the most widespread private sector employment in the city.

These funds are not intended to be used to help close this year’s projected $446 million budget gap; simply balancing the already over-inflated municipal budget will neither create jobs nor further the renewal and growth of the myriad small businesses and entrepreneurial endeavors across the city that are the lynchpins of neighborhood and individual economic revival.

Neither should the mayor and city council use as an excuse to raise taxes and fees the fact that this stimulus money should not be used to cover the deficits, though we suspect they will. Even now, as we go to press, we have learned that at its next legislative session on February 17th, the city council will take up a measure to impose a five-cent tax on every single paper or plastic bag handed to customers of every kind of store imaginable.

Well, one might say that a nickel per bag is so minor it’s not worth fussing about. But when one considers that a typical supermarket shopper leaves the store with 3 or 4 plastic bags, not to say anything about little plastic bags handed to them at the drug store or the small paper bags with their carryout lunches, etc., etc. — the list can go on and on, and over the course of a week these can add up to quite a tidy sum: a nickel here, a nickel there, and very quickly we’re talking real money.

While it is true that some of the cost burden can be alleviated by taking reusable cloth shopping bags to the grocery store, can we really expect people to carry cloth shopping bags with them all day around town so that they will not need bags from food carryouts or retail merchants as they do their daily shopping? (And, in case it needs to be stated, yes — for large numbers of our residents every dollar siphoned out of their pockets by greedy government is a cost burden.)

We are being told that this tax will be for the purpose of raising funds to be used toward meeting the cost of cleaning up the Anacostia River. Certainly this is a laudable initiative but is really the absolutely right time to force shoppers to contribute to an environmental project? Can’t this wait another couple of years until maybe (hopefully) we emerge from this terrible recession? After all, that river has been polluted since the 19th century; we think that another 24-to-36 months will not cause irreversible environmental damage — certainly no worse than what our antiquated city storm sewer infrastructure has been allowing to be dumped into the Potomac for years on end.