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The INTOWNER newspaper quotes Rees

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Like all journalists and others who try to keep tabs on the pulse in this city, we here at The InTowner continually scan the various neighborhood listservs for nuggets of info and insights. We regularly find both nuggets and insights which often reaffirm for us that positions we have taken on various issues are on target with more than just ourselves stuck in front of our computers. (We will admit, of course, that occasionally the opposite can be the case.)


One of the best electronic forums out there is something called TheMail, the brainchild of Ward 1 activists Dorothy Brazil and Gary Imhoff, the husband and wife team that for many years now has been performing yeoman service to all our residents as they have consistently forced, by virtue of their always thorough and informed research and advocacy, both the politicians and the bureaucrats to be aware that there are citizens out here watching every move and not only prepared to right wrongs but actually succeed in doing so. (Their work that brought about the downfall of last year’s attempted gambling ballot initiative fraud is an perfect example.)


This, then explains why it is that thoughtful, civic-minded citizens flock to the electronic pages of their twice-weekly moderated electronic town meeting (and why it is that the politicos and bureaucrats read it -- and frequently participate in the discussions). And it was here, on the very day we were preparing to go to press that we stumbled on a mini-essay from Ward 3 resident Jonathan Rees (who happens also to be a candidate for city council) that contained sentiments that we have tried to impress upon the politicians for some time, but apparently to no avail. So good was what we read -- and we kick ourselves that it was not we who actually wrote it -- that we share some of it with our readers, as follows:


“. . . [W]e have reached a point of taxing our businesses and people to death, we are engaging too much in social engineering, we are passing legislation to do this or that but never knowing where the money is coming from. While we are a progressive ward, we also realize that we can't keep on driving up the price tag of living in DC. . . .


“Building a new baseball stadium, building another hospital, and many other matters before us is not going back to the basics but may lead us into new problems that will increase the burden of all tax payers, drain us from more needed things and this is because we just don't know when to say enough is enough. Let baseball build its own stadium. Let Howard University Hospital get out of the red and stop laying people off before it embarks on a new project. Let the DC Public Schools explain where out tax dollars over the years went to upkeep our school but never did before we throw more money at the problem. Let DC government realize that its workforce of 34,000, when we have a population of 540,000, is the same as in 1976, when we were over 800,000, and that that is a major part of the problem of why the cost of living in DC is out of control, and let's finally have the guts to cut it down to a reasonable level. Let's start getting real about addressing all problems and each of us show a gusty individuality.”


Now, let us be quite clear about one thing: The fact that we have quoted Mr. Rees favorably does not suggest that we are taking any position on his candidacy; at this point in time we have absolutely no idea who ought to get our nod, if anyone -- and we won’t decide until we know lots more about everyone and what they think about important issues of public policy and municipal government management.


But, we do say without hesitation that Mr. Rees has hit the nail on the head. Too much time and energy (not to say anything about taxpayer money) is being wasted on large schemes to the detriment of making life easier, safer, and more pleasant for our citizens. Just consider the vast amount of city council members time, the time of so many of the city’s middle and senior managers, and the money spent on the effort to get baseball to set up shop here. Meanwhile, people are not safe on our streets, the health care services are a shambles, children are at risk hourly, the schools and libraries are a disgrace, and yet nothing seems to occupy anybody’s attention other than baseball and how to figure out more ways to squeeze cash out of the residents through fees and fines (so they don’t have to call ‘em taxes).


It is imperative that our leaders actually lead by leading us back to basics. In an election year, especially this one, it would seem prudent for the politicians to take heed.

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