- The Washington Times - Monday, January 4, 2021

Having been duly sworn in on Jan. 2, the new D.C. Council should be preparing to wrestle with the No. 1 and No. 2 issues facing the nation’s capital: spending and the pandemic.

The new lawmakers, like the old, have their own wish lists. Unfortunately, reopening the city, boosting employment and bolstering school choice are not chief among them.

Defanging law enforcement is at the top of their to-do list, as Council Chairman Phil Mendelson already announced that fellow Democrat Charles Allen again will chair the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, and basically that means giving social justice warriors what they want — less emphasis on law and order and a softer-hand approach to criminals.

The former D.C. police chief, Peter Newsham, often grew frustrated as the Metropolitan Police Department was expected to lock up criminals and suspects only to be chastised by lawmakers, tenderhearted advocates and social justice warriors who insisted they be turned loose. To no one’s surprise, the chief resigned.

Also to no one’s surprise is the state of public schooling. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been in charge of schools since she first became mayor in 2015, winning control of not only the regular bureaucracy, but the elected school board and other internal apparatus — and infighting.

After the mayor closed schools in March because of COVID-19, traditional schooling has fallen into an abyss. School unions dictate everything from health and safety measures to feeding programs and reopening.

Unions also hold the upper hand on all records, including testing, grading and attendance.

And that means unions are also in charge of education spending, which at last measure was about one-third of the fiscal year budget.

However, as any nonwealthy parent can tell you, school budgets, like other local and state budgets, are out of whack because of spending attributed to COVID-19 spending.

Some federal dollars will fill in the gap, but only a little.

The new D.C. Council will be holding lots of organizational meetings between now, Inauguration Day and their legislative sessions. But they will be merely informational sessions about who’s serving on which committees.

The tough work starts in February, when the dollar signs are discussed.

Just remember this: There are three D.C. budgets. One for the record, one for show and tell, and one written in red ink.

The third budget, which addresses spending and the pandemic agendas, is the one that matters.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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