- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

With the U.S. Conference of Mayors scheduled to hold its annual confab in the nation’s capital this week, domestic issues finally will begin to get the attention they deserve.

Pick a topic — education or immigration, public safety or homelessness and housing, jobs or infrastructure, the environment, cost of living, health care, hunger, war or transportation — and the truth is inescapable: Americans are at a crossroads because our mayors and chief executives hitch their wagons to Washington.

So, although Election Day 2012 remains months away, now is the time to pose the only real question that matters:

Will voters again pin the tail on the donkey?

Unfortunately, the mayors’ conference is at the ready with top officials in the Obama administration scheduled to tow the liberal big-government line this week.

Arne Duncan, our secretary of education, and Kathleen Sebelius, who oversees health and human services, surely will push the president’s one-size-fits-all education policies and health-care agenda, thereby giving new meaning to the term “nanny state.”

This is not to say Republicans have all the answers. Just like Democrats, members of the GOP are already in office as well as our latest crop of presidential hopefuls shouldn’t be given high marks on the domestic front either.

There’s no talk of continuing welfare reform.

Will they push true immigration reform on behalf of mayors who want federal enforcement stepped up?

And what about hope for humanity?

Why is it OK to use public dollars on universal pre-kindergarten schooling but not OK to use public dollars so houses of worship can, if need be, force-feed parents and their children?

That’s right. I said force-feed, and you know why the faith community needs to forcibly insert itself?

Bloodletting.

Mayors across the country deal with it daily, but only one has had the sense to lay blame where it truly belongs — on perpetrators and parents.

Here is sanitized version of what Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, a Democrat, had to say after a man gunned down several teens last week.

He called the gunman a “dog,” an “idiot” and a fitting profane name before slamming the victims’ parents and hitting the proverbial nail on the head: “Their little butts should have either been in bed, getting ready for bed, or doing some homework, not out in a car, not in some other neighborhood, and not up to this kind of nonsense. I’m not your mom and I’m not your dad. We cannot completely legislate, or by policy, make people responsible for their children.”

Welcome to our mayors’ world, a world where federal dollars dictate local weapons policy, education policy and parenting policy, and, in the case of the Philadelphia gunman, how much time he will serve for violating God’s Sixth Commandment.

See, Mr. Nutter’s comments were perfectly aligned with the stereotype of a frustrated politician, one who is perhaps frustrated because his hands, and the hands of his Democratic brethren, are increasingly tied to Washington. It is also a world in which mayors are encouraged to implement abortion laws and discouraged from tethering education and human service to, say, sermons from a pulpit, Hebrew classes or nondenominational worship.

My mayor, Democrat Vincent C. Gray, has on occasion been frustrated, too. And as a member of the mayor’s conference, he and Mr. Nutter’s paths likely will cross.

Is it hoping too much to even consider the notion that they and other mayors will think outside the box, see a path at the crossroads leading not to Washington but to a higher source?

As we continue to honor the wisdom, foresight and courageous spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., be mindful of the fact that mayors often develop policies while wearing blinders — blinders that jackasses take off only in an election year.

Not a sermon, just a few insightful thoughts.

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

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