-As we’re suffering through Washington’s worst heat wave of the year, take a moment to check in with your elderly or ill neighbors who might need a little assistance. Weather like this can effect even the healthiest of us.
This promises to be a long, entertaining summer in terms of Washington’s number one spectator sport, politics. With heated contests for mayor, council chair, two at-large seats and four ward council seats, there will be no shortage of candidate forums, neighborhood rallies and straw polls.
The best thing that any Washingtonian can go do is get out there and participate. Attend a neighborhood forum and ask the candidates about what’s on your mind — from education to crime, from the economy and jobs to improving city services. I truly believe each of us has something to contribute to this important dialogue about the future of our city. So in addition to our new pitcher Stephen Strasburg heating up the mound at Nationals Park and the Washington Kastles gracing downtown with World Team Tennis this month, we have plenty in the sport of politics to look forward to!
The responsibility of governance will return soon enough in the fall and we have many challenges ahead. We may even have to revisit the FY 2011 budget, due to declining revenue projections. It’s anyone’s guess, but looking at states and localities around the country, one can’t but watch and continue to wonder. Jurisdictions are trimming back, instituting employee reductions, mandating furlough days and retrenching some programs. Some states are even borrowing from pension funds to meet current expenses and issuing IOUs to taxpayers for tax refunds the states cannot afford to send. I am grateful D.C. has managed to do better than others, but I do have to chuckle a bit when I read these stories about other states — who’s calling for control boards for THESE folks?
President Obama and some in Congress have been talking about additional stimulus spending, particularly to keep state employees and teachers on the job. While there are merits to this, it would also add to the federal deficit most likely, in itself another problem. Ultimately I think that may be a short term fix at best, which I’d rather avoid. We’ve managed to avoid a severe day of reckoning here in D.C. through a variety of means — some of which I don’t support — such as spending reserves and other one-time measures. Ultimately, given the unlikely return of the “irrational exuberance” in the boom economy of a few years ago, we will have to align the District’s budget to actual sources of revenue, which can be tweaked here and there, without the use of one-time gimmicks and fixes. In short, while our most recent revenue estimate is flat — which is good news in itself — we still have yet to address some of the fundamental, structural problems with matching the size of the government to our revenue sources.
Finishing up, I want to take a brief moment to remember my staffer Desi Deschaine on the upcoming one-year anniversary of his death. We have truly missed Desi as part of our office and part of our lives, and I know those of you who were touched by him do as well. Here’s remembering you, Desi — you remain in our hearts and minds.