May. 1st, 2017

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Look, protesters, I love you. The guy in the White House deserves to be yelled at on a regular basis until he starts behaving like a real human being. Also, I know many of our fine hotels and restaurants appreciate your patronage. I can even handle some of the issues your presence creates around the Metro (meaning the subway only in this instance), although with our SafeTrack project continuing, you are adding a degree of difficulty.

Here's the problem: The people of the District are paying for everything.

This isn't coming out of your Federal taxes (as of last week's science march) because Congress CUT their contribution to handle protests. They gave us less money for the inauguration, which, barring all the jokes, had a lot of people, than the cities which held the conventions got even though the convention crowds were smaller.

As of the Climate March this past Saturday, every hour of police overtime, every penny of the cleanup (National Mall may have some funding left through the National Park Service), every bus line rerouted (and believe me we're coming back to that one), and every car needing to be towed so you can take the walk between the White House and Congress is being paid for by the people of the District of Columbia because Congress has decided not to fund it.

From Congress' point of view, in the words of Neotoma, this is a feature, not a bug. The people of the District don't appreciate Congress -- in their view. Here they are trying to make our world a better place by forbidding us to use our own money to fund needle exchanges -- which cut down on the HIV transmittal rate in a city where approximately 5% of the population is HIV positive -- because all that will do is encourage HIV drug use, and do we appreciate it? No, we do not. We don't appreciate so many of the things they try to do for us, like retrocede us to Maryland (pace Jason Chaffetz) or control the way our building look (seriously, the Commission for Fine Arts has got to go) or generally treat us like whiny children for complaining that we don't have representation in their august body in spite of being required to register for the draft, fight if conscripted, serve on juries and grand juries, and paid more in federal income tax than Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, and Vermont combined ($20.5b in 2015 for the four states named, $21.2b for DC).

One solution would be to raise the hotel tax, but that would mean people who have tight budgets might not be able to come to a protest which means a great deal to them. Believe it or not, we don't want that.

I don't know the solution. The biggest issue for me, personally, and my constituents is that the protests change the bus routes drastically. This can mean no groceries or no visiting an elderly relative or helping a young mother cope or... We need our buses and as long as you're using the National Mall, the major changes to the bus routes are going to continue. (It also doesn't help that four stops are Exit only during the march and Entrance only after the march.)

The financial issue includes my fear that the money spent now on cleanup will be taken away from my local middle school's renovation. It's been promised since before the recession and is finally budgeted for 2020, but if we spend too much of our resources now on protest cleanup, the money may not be there in 2020 and our middle schoolers will get shafted again. I was at the school last Monday for the Ward 6 budget discussion. I'm pretty sure the air conditioning units are so old (no, no central air, just individual window units) they might still use freon.

Can someone more knowledgeable than I am look into setting up a charity. People who can afford to contribute to the District's cleanup could do so, and the money could go to local projects which might be impacted by the cleanup funding. I don't think there's any way to give the money to the District, but mitigating some of the impact would be a great kindness.

Also, when you call your congress critter, remind him or her that they should be paying for this or remind them that the District still needs voting representation in Congress.


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