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Our Mayor Needs to Concentrate on the Urgent` Priorities; She Seems to be Unaware About This

Regular readers of our commentaries know that we have consistently argued for and applauded fiscal restraint by our city government so as to ensure that programs, services and policies that advance the kind of progressive society we taxpayers stand behind will have the resources necessary to achieve these goals.

In short, we urge vigilance to ensure that available funds are used for the purposes intended and not squandered — especially at this time of a President who wants to slash and slash appropriations for domestic needs and a Congress that is more ready than ever to make it happen — this along with the prospect of loss of DC taxpaying federal employees whose numbers are expected to drastically diminish, again thanks to the government haters in the White House.

Back in February we expressed alarm over the revelations from the Council’s finance and revenue committee chairman, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, that the District “is at risk for approximately $5 billion per year” — and of that, “$1 billion goes towards social programs.”

In light of all the “handwriting on the wall” that was apparent from the moment Trump won the election, we wondered if Mayor Bowser was as upset as we by the May 6th lead story in the Washington Post which reported that the “D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development was forced to forfeit $15.8 million in the past three years after repeatedly missing key spending deadlines meant to ensure that federal housing money is properly managed at the local level”?

While acknowledging that the “spending problems predate the Bowser administration, . . .  most of the bills came due soon after the mayor took office and launched her affordable housing plans.” Seems like she and her people didn’t have their eye on the ball. Ironically, this failing has dealt a blow to one of Bowser’s much vaunted initiatives for assisting the less fortunate among us which would inject an additional $100 million into the program that assists families with limited resources to find affordable places to live.

As the Post further reported, that $15.8 million which the District was forced to return to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development “could have provided rent vouchers for a year to roughly 1,000 of the city’s poorest families.” As attorney Will Merrifield at the nonprofit Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless was quoted in the article, “This is insane. . . . That they would allow this money to go to waste is absurd.”

Indeed it is “insane,” but it is even much more: it’s unconscionable and a dereliction of duty starting at not just at the top of the agency but at the very tippy top — the Office of the Mayor. She had a chance to catch this impending disaster but was asleep at the switch!

We have to hope she may have learned a lesson, though we are not 100% certain; doubts were generated when we read a May 5th report in the Post that Bowser was very seriously calling on the Council to enact a ban on the raising of chickens in backyards even where there was more than adequate space and proper chicken coop arrangements. (This matter of chickens in the backyard became something of a cause célèbre following the   publication a year ago by the Post of a report  titled “D.C. lawyers are suing the city to keep their four backyard chickens.”)

Fortunately for her, she suddenly has had the good sense — at least for now, she says — to withdraw her proposed backyard chicken ban. But she was also seeking to require that house cats be licensed! What about them? Aren’t there enough serious matters facing the District that this kind of trivia shouldn’t be wasting her time? We need her full and undivided attention on the Big Stuff.

We think Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh may have said it best, as reported by the Post: “’It’s just so absurd that it almost makes your jaw drop,’ . . . expressing astonishment that large sections of Bowser’s 2018 Budget Support Act were devoted to what she considered quixotic animal regulations.”