- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

The D.C. Council knew going into its final legislative session Tuesday that D.C. taxpayers cannot withstand funding the ultra-liberal drug initiative that voters approved Nov. 5. While cost estimates were low-balled at $23 million annually, the fiscal and political realities are that trying to implement the initiative is unaffordable, regardless of the price tag.
Initiative 62, which garnered 78 percent voter approval, called for eliminating jail time for first- and second-time drug offenders, mandating treatment and granting health-care bureaucrats not prosecutors and the courts wide latitude in deciding the fate of lawbreakers. If enacted, the law also would have forced Mayor Williams to add more workers onto an already bloated bureaucracy. The mayor should continue his court battle against implementing the liberal program and sign the legislation passed by the council that delays implementation of the program unless Congress appropriates federal funds.
The council's 12-1 vote marked the fifth time recently that lawmakers rejected a voter initiative, with their invalidation of term limits being the most regrettable. Council member Adrian Fenty was the lone dissenter on the drug-initiative vote, taking the principled stand that the council should not override the will of the people. While we applaud the forthright Mr. Fenty, two harsh facts brought about the near-unanimous vote: Funding Initiative 62 is impossible, as the mayor and council grapple with budget deficits amid a weakening economy; asking a Republican-led Congress for federal funds, amid the ongoing war on terror and against the backdrop of the impending war on Iraq, likely means the dice will not fall in the city's favor. The council is right.

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