SIMMONS: Gray spending plan could use a splash of color

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On page 17 of the budget overview handed out Friday, he highlighted what he characterized as “affordable housing investments.”

Well, folks, clear the smoke.

c There’s $6.2 million in new local spending for rent supplements for the D.C. Housing Authority.

c And, oh, look in the mirror, because there’s $19.9 million for rent subsidies for the Housing Production Trust Fund.

c And, um, another $6.2 million for Department of Mental Health housing subsidies.

All three subsidies take from working- and middle-class taxpayers with little return on investment.

Robbing Peter, never paying Paul

Mr. Gray, his predecessors and lawmakers have played favorites when it comes to transportation, hating motorists and coddling bicyclists, giving the latter a free ride while punishing motorists every time they start their engines.

Well, to get another perspective, I turned to council at-large candidate E. Gail Anderson Holness, who continues to make parking a top priority of her platform.

Asked what city hall should be doing about the dearth of public parking and tendency to rely on parking-enforcement policies and revenues that grant no return-on-investment for D.C. residents, Ms. Holness said:

“We need to build more public parking facilities for D.C. motorists. There is plenty of land we could co-op for parking facilities. Nobody’s thinking about it, and nobody’s talking about it but me. I’m in favor of bike lanes … and privileges for the handicap. I don’t know that we need any increase anywhere for parking or traffic enforcement … because of disparities in income. I do know that we will have ‘One City’ if everybody is driven out when they [can’t afford] to live here.”

Hmm. Her comments point out another fact the mayor has seemingly forgotten.

Since the 1960s, the District has always buttered its bread with black working- and middle-class families.

If city hall continues to rob them, they’ll get the boot - and get a different perspective on what it means to be out of a job.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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