Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
 
Un-freakin'-believable

By Spencer Hsu in today's Washingtonpost:
D.C. officials said yesterday that the Bush administration is refusing to reimburse the District for most of the costs associated with next week's inauguration, breaking with precedent and forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects. Federal officials have told the District that it should cover the expenses by using some of the $240 million in federal homeland security grants it has received in the past three years -- money awarded to the city because it is among the places at highest risk of a terrorist attack. But that grant money is earmarked for other security needs, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said in a Dec. 27 letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Williams's office released the letter yesterday. Williams estimated that the city's costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said."We want to make this the best possible event, but not at the expense of D.C. taxpayers and other homeland security priorities," said Gregory M. McCarthy, the mayor's deputy chief of staff. "This is the first time there hasn't been a direct appropriation for the inauguration." . . .The region has earmarked federal homeland security funds for such priorities as increasing hospital capacity, equipping firefighters with protective gear and building transit system command centers. . . .Inauguration officials said they plan to spend $40 million on the four-day celebration, which will include fireworks, the swearing-in, a parade and nine balls. Those expenses -- which do not include security and other public services -- are being funded by private donors. [Emphases Mine.]
D.C., you will recall, has no real Congressional representation. Kudos to the Republican chair of the committee responsible for overseeing it, Thomas M. Davis III (R-VA), for protesting this egregious dis. Take a look at the donor list for this inauguration: by my CNTRL-F count, not a single major "DC" donor is an actual person. Instead they are all corporations and lobbyists. Not surprising, considering that only 9% of DC residents voted for Bush--all of 19,007 people. Think the president's being a little vindictive?

Folks, the good people of Washington DC, many of whom keep our country running, and who are at a highly disproportionate risk of attack, don't have any real representation. It's upto the rest of us to shout out for them. It's our capital, and it deserves better than such shoddy treatment. Write to your Congressional Representative and Senators, and ask them to stick up for the city that so graciously hosts them. Complain to the President and Vice President. Consider sending a note of protest to Bush friend and Inauguration Co-Chair Bill DeWitt Jr., care of his Cincinatti Firm: Reynolds, Dewitt, & Co; 300 Main Str, Cincinnati, 45202.

You might want to point out that, unlike our President, most DC residents & federal government employees don't have the opportunity to spend almost a third of the year on vacation and outside the city.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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