- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Mayor's erratic decisions threaten D.C. business ranking

Washington's two major newspapers reported recently that the region ranks fourth in the nation on Fortune magazine's list of the best cities for business. This ascent for the region in such a business publication is noteworthy. However, before Washington residents genuflect to their mayor and declare him and his staffers the impetus for business development initiatives that will have high-tech companies setting up shop in the District, we need to take a long look at this administration's recent anti-business actions.

Although the city government has embarked on meaningful programs to bring high-technology firms to the District, the case of American Tower and the halting of construction of a communications tower on the spot known as "broadcast hill" in the Tenleytown area could make businesses think twice before moving here. A company that is a source for high technology, American Tower, has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the city government because the mayor revoked a valid permit the company held to build a transmission tower on broadcast hill. The case evokes memories of times when the District government was the laughingstock of the nation. Although American Tower complied with every law and requirement in obtaining approval for the tower and the District of Columbia agencies responsible for such regulations approved its construction twice, the mayor's politically based obstruction of the project provided a warning sign to any company that seeks a predictable business environment in which to operate.

Can a jurisdiction that has always been behind in the rudiments of information technology compete with other jurisdictions with one hand tied behind its back? District government officials are making a concentrated effort to compete with the Virginia and Maryland suburbs to attract more of the high-technology companies that have transformed the region's economy. D.C. Council member David Catania is leading the effort, saying that high technology will be the foundation of the District's economy in this century. But he and other council members need to look to the mayor and ask him to reverse his anti-business actions or the city will not be prepared to participate on a par with suburban governments in the region's wealth. The city is willing to provide myriad incentives for new high-tech companies to come to Washington, but before residents can get new jobs and higher incomes from the emerging information-technology industry, we have to stop the mayor from making such impulsive and arbitrary decisions.

While city officials and Mayor Williams applaud each other and place advertisements in Forbes and Fortune magazines indicating that they head a city that is a good place to do business, they should keep in mind that astute business leaders may be able to see beyond the fig leaf.


Business Exchange Network


Car taxes hurt low-income workers the hardest

Thank you for your editorial supporting the repeal of Virginia's car tax ("Down with the 'car tax,' " Dec. 5). If the economic downturn is hard on the state government, it will be even harder on low-income people.

Working people not only are paying personal property tax on their cars, they also are being bled by the state gasoline tax, the annual tag fee, the driver's license fee and the 3 percent registration fee for used cars.

Most egregious, however, are the costs of failing the emissions test: People are forced to spend $450 on repairs (whether or not they can fix the problem) before they can apply for a waiver.

Just how much money are the bureaucrats and their allies taking from us through our cars? Maybe it's time to vote Libertarian.



Certificate of ascertainment didn't guarantee a Bush victory

I could not be more sympathetic toward the objective of James V. DeLong's Nov. 30 Commentary column, "A shifting burden … with certification," but I think it is wishful thinking to accord decisive weight to the certificate of ascertainment signed by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, which appointed Texas Gov. George W. Bush's electors.

Mr. DeLong's analysis does not recognize the constitutional sanction given to the "contest" provisions of Florida election law. The U.S. Constitution in Article II, Section 1 delegates to the legislatures of the states control over the manner of appointing electors. The Florida Legislature has determined that the electors will be chosen by popular vote following Florida's election law, which provides for contests after certification.

It is untenable to argue that the certification of electors can so easily invalidate the constitutionally sanctioned "contest" provisions of Florida law and that no matter the outcome of the pending contest, the "certified" slate will be able to cast Florida's electoral votes for Mr. Bush unless both chambers of Congress vote not to accept it.

To the contrary, the only fair reading of Florida law is that the choice of Florida's electors will not be final until the pending contest is resolved. No interim paperwork can short-circuit that duly legislated and constitutionally authorized process.

Some say hard cases make bad law, and that well may prove true in the current circumstance, but to win the hard cases, one cannot simply wish away the hard questions, something I am afraid Mr. DeLong has done in his overly facile analysis.


Los Angeles

Protesting veterans mischaracterized by Democratic official

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Ingrid Morroy of the Arlington County Democratic Committee sent an e-mail to local Democrats that I found to be insulting to America's veterans, be they disabled or able-bodied. In her message she stated: "A group of right-wing veterans (among them disabled veterans, obviously to provide photo ops …) will demonstrate in front of the Vice President's residence… . This is clearly part of the organized Republican effort to intimidate Democrats and discourage the legal manual vote recount in South Florida."

As a leader of Virginia Veterans for Bush, many of whom participated in the ongoing protests in front of the Naval Observatory, I find it insulting that Ms. Morroy would label veterans as "right wing" when she obviously knows nothing about our individual backgrounds. Veterans for Bush includes Democrats, independents and Republicans, and our political outlooks are as varied as our experiences. We simply do not view Mr. Gore as a sincere or necessarily competent leader. Our demonstrations are grass-roots in nature, voluntary and not directed by either the Republican National Committee or the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Dismissing the participation of disabled veterans as "photo opportunities" also was condescending to all heroic service personnel, just as excluding military votes in favor of dimpled anomalies is anti-military and anti-democratic. Ms. Morroy's comments smack of discriminatory stereotyping of disabled veterans and border on slander.

Ms. Morroy further displayed her ignorance as to what was being protested. Veterans were not protesting legal votes, something many of us have laid our lives on the line to protect. What Virginia, District and Maryland veterans were protesting was the exclusion of legal votes, namely valid military absentee ballots that were targeted specifically by the Gore political apparatus.

The protests were not staged to "intimidate" Democrats, but to send a message that the votes of veterans and active-duty military count. If Ms. Morroy and her Arlington apparatus can understand that simple fundamental, I suggest they also read up on the "ex post facto" clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

CDR. CHIP BECK, U.S. Navy (retired)

Virginia co-chairman

Veterans for Bush


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