Friday, February 29, 2008

Surprises that shouldn’t be surprises crisscross the region this week, starting with the scratch-my-head question of the day: Why are D.C. officials acting as if they just discovered there aren’t enough parking spaces around the new baseball park on South Capitol Street in Southwest?

Hmmm. If you decided to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars constructing a stadium predicated on the high attendance of commuting suburbanites, shouldn’t it have occurred to someone that they need a place to park their cars? Subway riders, I’m afraid, most of them are not.

Or, are city leaders and team owners just trying to squeeze every last nickel they can from average baseball fans by deliberately making parking scarce? Since so many folks have such short-term memories, let’s remind them that one of the major criticisms — leveled even by then-D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty — to building the new stadium for the Washington Nationals at the more costly Southwest waterfront site as opposed to the RFK Stadium site was, ah, the lack of adequate parking.

So, come Opening Day on March 30, many fans who don’t ride Metro will be forced to take a free shuttle bus from, where else, RFK Stadium, to get to the game.

The team has guaranteed parking only for season-ticket holders.


Speaking of giving away the store, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you that the apparently MIA relatives of Banita Jacks’ outrageously abused and neglected daughters were certain to sue the pants off Gen. Greenhorn & Co. for the city’s admitted culpability surrounding the young girls’ avoidable deaths. Lawyers representing the children’s grandmothers and one of their fathers reportedly put the city on notice this week that they are considering legal action against the city for failure to protect the girls from their disturbed mother.

No one should be surprised either that an administrative judge recommended that three of the Child and Family Services Agency workers fired by Mr. Fenty should be reinstated. Right or wrong, they were entitled to due process under the law.

But even following their own fluid-as-the-Potomac-River policies and procedures openly is not one of the administration’s strong suits. These novice civil servants have no clue about the mission of public service. They clearly don’t know what the other hand is doing most days. They obviously think their constituents — you know those pesky people whose taxes pay their six-figure salaries — should be kept in the dark, too.

Why else would parents and school advocates need to beg a sympathetic but hamstrung judge to get basic budget information from the overrated schools chancellor? They want facts about a scary spending plan being circulated that implies that Michelle A. Rhee plans to shift three-fourths of the public school resources to private contractors, a self-serving cabal from whence she came.

One D.C. resident attending author Charlie E. Cobb Jr.’s book signing of “On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail,” at the bustling Busboys and Poets bookstore in Northwest on Wednesday night, joked: “This mayor, Fenty, calls a press conference almost every day to announce that he stubbed his toe, but he can’t tell you what you need to know about the school closings or the budget or anything.”


As for budgets, no one in America should be surprised that governments at every level, especially local and state governments, are crying the budget blues now that this country is experiencing an economic downturn that lawmakers had no small hand in creating.

Where do you think those overblown real estate assessments that fueled the housing bubble and filled state coffers in return during the boon times originated? Now that the bubble has burst, we hear more shock and awe about the need for budget cuts or tax increases or gambling gimmicks.

Maryland lawmakers should not be surprised that someone beat them at their own game. They have the nerve to be upset that video bingo games, or what they are calling “counterfeit slot machines,” have been popping up all over St. Mary’s County — reportedly to raise money for charities and small businesses — but without any state oversight.

Translation: Lawmakers weren’t able to get their hands in the till first with their slots scheme. As you know with government, you can’t make money if they can’t make money.

Still scratching your head?

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