- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let’s face reality. Whether you are a lefty or a righty, there never is a shortage of sound bites from the D.C. Council, and this budget season is no different.

Organic yogurt for school children instead of regular Dannon.

Taller buildings.

Fewer school buildings.

Newer school buildings.

D.C. bars and restaurants getting the go-ahead to make the last call at 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends.

Proposing that indigent and working-class people help pay for their health-care coverage.

Those issues are but a few items on a very long list that the council is chewing over as they try during oversight hearings to reconcile demand for city services with the supply of revenues.

Fortunately, the media, and lawmakers themselves, are providing some insight into the annual budget follies.

• Here’s the Washington Examiner quoting council member Jim Graham to WAMU-FM’s Kojo Nnamdi on why he opposes extending last call for alcoholic beverages: “Slamming car doors, arguing, cursing, singing, talking, cars starting, stopping, cabs coming and going — this is a very major issue for anyone who lives nearby. … What we’d be doing … is extending that problem another hour.”

Guess Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, hasn’t noticed that slamming car doors, arguing, cursing, singing, talking, cars starting, stopping, cabs coming and going are 24-hour occurrences in all eight wards of the city.

• Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, announced last week that he is considering legislation that would require “small co-pays or premiums for [some subsidized health insurance] participants in order to maintain hospital-based service coverage.”

How radical, proposing health care co-payments.

• Mayor Vincent C. Gray exposed his radical side, too. One week after he froze and then thawed funds for charter schools, as The Washington Post put it, the mayor commented on why school closings are inevitable.

As the Examiner pointed out, traditional schools have 20,000 fewer students than they did just 10 years ago, but the school system has an estimated 40 buildings that the city can no longer afford. “Just do the math on it — it’s not sustainable,” the newspaper quoted the mayor as saying.

But here’s where the follies kicked in. The mayor also said “we will be back at you in a couple of weeks to talk about the closing of schools.”

School closings and modernizations bring out the best and worst of politicians’ biases, and the mayor’s alma mater, Dunbar High School, stands as a perfect example.

Dunbar is only 35 years old but is slated for a $100 million remodel.

In need of a point guard: Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown blew the lead during last week’s point-by-point public hearing with schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson regarding the outrageous Healthy Schools Act that Mr. Brown, Mr. Gray and other lawmakers passed unanimously two years ago.

Ms. Henderson lobbed her game winner in Mr. Brown’s face when she said the healthy schools mandate meant purchasing more costly “organic yogurt” for school children instead of Dannon.

Mr. Brown blew the game by failing to ask Ms. Henderson a pointed question: Were the children actually eating the regular Dannon, and are they now actually eating the higher-priced organic?

Three cheers: Friendship Public Charter Schools spent the better part of Saturday evening honoring the accomplishments of its students and teachers at its annual Teacher of the Year gala at the J.W. Marriott.

The event highlighted teachers in their classrooms engaging and encouraging their charges, including special-education students who many would rather turn their backs to.

Friendship Charters, thanks to the hard work and keen vision of founder and Chairman Donald L. Hense, is the city’s first charter to open multiple grade levels on multiple campuses, offer the first before- and after-school programs, and the first to offer Saturday schooling.

And while each of its schools picked a teacher of the year, Daniel Moses of Friendship Collegiate spoke truth to power after winning top honors.

He said while all children want to learn and deserve an uncompromising learning environment, the key is a loving and passionate teacher.

Three words said it all: “I love kids.”

Three cheers to Friendship for hiring Mr. Moses.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.