- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 19, 2011

The best way to use additional dollars that enter the D.C. piggy bank prompted hours of debate on Tuesday among council members, prompting one to term it a “bizarre bazaar.”

But did they talk long enough? Here are the council’s first four priorities, versus what they could have done with that cash:

1. $1.8 million to fund Green Team jobs, a beautification program that employs many ex-offenders

OR: Do Friendship Heights a solid by paying for its entire fiscal 2012 budget!

2. $32 million to the Department of Healthcare Finance for costs associated with managed care contracts for public financed health care programs

OR: Pick up the tab for the Royal Wedding!

3. $12.5 million to Department of Health for the school nurse program

OR: Compensate whoever paid this amount to Ben Affleck for “Gigli”

4. $10.8 million to increase the number of sworn Metropolitan Police Department officers

OR: Enough to pay for the Nats’ Jayson Werth this season, with $229,000 left to throw at the Lincoln Theater!

Off the bench

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown’s role is usually limited to behind-the-scenes work and the occasional public appearance, but he stood in the spotlight at last week’s Board of Public Works meeting.

Mr. Brown filled in for Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who traditionally presides over the biweekly meetings — alongside fellow board members Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat, and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp — but was in Chicago attending a Democratic Governors Association event.

It was the second straight meeting at which Mr. Brown sat in for the governor, who was in Asia two weeks earlier on an economic development trip.

Rather than play the role of passive seat-filler, Mr. Brown took control of the room, questioning guests and occasionally injecting his opinions. He even chided a group of attendees who, as is common at public works meetings, noisily filed out after their agenda item had been heard.

“As you’re departing, we’d be pleased if you could keep your conversations to nothing,” Mr. Brown said to light laughter.

In a more awkward moment, he clashed with Mr. Franchot after the comptroller implied Mr. Brown wanted to place conditions on a lease that was up for board approval, when the lieutenant governor had only asked staff members if the board was allowed by law to do so.

The two men are widely believed to be front-runners in the 2014 election to replace Mr. O’Malley.

“Time out, Mr. Comptroller,” Mr. Brown said. “At no point did I make a comment or offer an opinion. I simply asked a question.”

Mr. Franchot withdrew his statement, but might not back down so easily in the 2014 debates.

It’s the jobs, stupid.

“Jobs” is the magic word for politicians these days. Give the impression that every move you make in office will create a job, and you’re golden.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about education, energy, health care or taxes. George Allen knows this. In a campaign platform released this week, the U.S. Senate candidate advocated for lowering the “U.S. tax on job-creating businesses.” Translation: corporate income tax.

Annoying? Perhaps. But hey, Gov. Bob McDonnell does it every day. Here’s what he had to say about a higher education bill he signed this week:

“In order to get a good job, you need a good education. This is a jobs bill.”

Tom Howell Jr., David Hill and Paige Winfield Cunningham contributed to this report

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