Cheh releases joke budget proposals
Councilmember Mary Cheh has established a tradition of releasing a satirical and humorous budget memo each year. This year's is out, and contains some great gems.
She "proposes" using a Bingo game to determine who gets service next at the DMV; requiring Washington Post editorial writers to live in DC; and leasing office space in the Wilson Building to the FBI (to investigate the council, of course).
She lampoons Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's false claims in January that a DC law would force exterminators to dump rats in Virginia, by proposing a new "Cheh rat sanctuary" and a basic reading comprehension test for Attorneys General in other states.
But my favorite is this: "Some residents simply are not well suited to live in a major city. They fear sidewalks, bicycles, traffic, noise, parking, and university dormitories. To address their growing list of concerns, we shall establish the Resident Relocation Fund, which will subsidize the costs of these folks moving outside of the District and include a complimentary municipal bond, untaxed, from the jurisdiction of the ex-resident's choice."
To: Members of the Council of the District of Columbia
From: Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Date: May 14, 2012
Subject: The District's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget
Tomorrow, we will take our first vote on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. To encourage transparency and open debate, this memorandum provides a summary of all budget recommendations from my office. The recommendations are divided into Committee and Non-Committee proposals.
1. Prohibit the sale of gasoline in the District beginning January 1, 2014. In the interim, the District shall raise its excise tax on gasoline from $0.235 to $8.75, which we are told represents roughly 50% of the jobbers' current markup on motor fuel in the District. Revenues from the tax shall be converted into capital dollars for the construction of a hydrogen automobile factory. Beginning January 1, 2014, hydrogen may only be purchased from stations operated by small and disadvantaged businesses grossing less than $777.9 million annually (or whatever Capitol Petroleum's gross revenue may be at that time).
2. Convert $12,000,000 from the District Department of the Environment's operating budget into capital dollars to fund the construction of a new shelter. The new shelter, known as the "Cheh Rat Sanctuary," will be open to families of rodents who have been forcibly relocated. At the shelter, they will be able to live together in peace and without fear of being exterminated. Based upon discussions at the "Rat Summit of 2012," the Virginia Attorney General offered to house the sanctuary on his Fairfax estate. We are awaiting further communications with the Virginia Attorney General's office and are preparing an MOU to facilitate the interstate transfer of funds.
3. Related to number 2 above, create a special purpose fund for fees collected as part of a new written examination to be administered to states' Attorneys General of other jurisdictions. The examination will measure knowledge of constitutional law and basic reading skills, and a passing score will be required for each Attorney General who wishes to opine on District matters. Sample questions may include: "Which of the following sentences does not include the word 'rat'?" Proceeds from the fund shall be used to establish public grief counseling units for rats and other commensal rodents who have lost family through pest control. The fund shall be managed by the District Department of the Environment.
4. Transfer $250,000 from the Department of Motor Vehicles' Adjudication Services to a newly created Global Positioning System (GPS) person-tracking program. Through the program, select individuals will be asked to wear GPS-powered, "District-loyalty" ankle bracelets used to implement the following requirements:
Council Members shall be barred from outside vacationing. Elected officials
— particularly those with second jobs — should not waste valuable time and potential tax dollars vacationing in other jurisdictions. Moreover, a member may become beholden to a Hampton Inn in Maryland, whose free breakfast policy creates an obvious conflict of interest and may run afoul of the new ethics rules if the member chooses to have a second free waffle. The change should also boost tourism as vacationing members can highlight many of the District's top destinations and activities. Sample activities include touring archeological sites in Spring Valley, taking advantage of natural exfoliation in the Anacostia River, enjoying a mud bath at Blue Plains, or watching a filibuster in the U.S. Senate or at an ANC meeting.
Establish a residency requirement for the Washington Post's editorial board. This requirement is expected to generate tax revenues from new residents and additional tax revenues from whichever entity is now hired to perform public relations for former Mayor Adrian Fenty.
5. Transfer $25,000 in capital dollars to the District Department of Motor Vehicles. The funds will be used to establish a new, state-of-the-art, customer queue management system. All residents seeking DMV services will participate in mandatory BINGO games. When a patron achieves BINGO, s/he will become next in line for DMV services. The measure is expected to improve customer enjoyment at DMV and to decrease the average wait time by three hours and seventeen minutes.
1. Transfer 95% of all Council Committee budgets and FTEs to the Committee of the Whole. To maximize efficiencies and streamline the government, the following additional functions will now fall under the Committee of the Whole: Public Services, Consumer Affairs, Government Operations, the Environment, Public Works, Transportation, Planning, Economic Development, Housing, Workforce Development, Tax and Revenue, Health, Human Services, the Judiciary, Small Business, and Aging. The following areas shall be divided up among the other Council Committees at future date to be determined: the Office of Cable Television, the Office of Risk Management, the Boxing Commission, the Bicycle Advisory Council, and the Department of Parks and Recreation. In order to allow members to spend more time focusing on their revised committee responsibilities, the Committee of the Whole will now include only the following members: the Council Chairman.
3. Add a new requirement for the Council as part of the Budget Support Act. Recently, the Council passed legislation requiring all students to apply to at least one college in order "to raise expectations for students, and create a culture of academic excellence and success in District schools." Add a new BSA provision requiring all Council Members to apply to at least one job in order to raise expectations for members, and create a culture of professional excellence and success in District government. The measure is expected to be budget neutral.
4. Beginning October 1, 2012, Council Members who use profane language shall be required to deposit five cents into a special purpose non-lapsing fund, designated as the Saying Words Egregious to Aural Recipients by Juvenile Actors Reacting, or SWEAR JAR. Funds shall be distributed to DCPS schools to offset the $17 million shortfall for the IMPACT teacher evaluation system caused by the loss of private grant funds. After the first $17 million is provided to DCPS schools, remaining funds shall used to purchase ear muffs for use at Council breakfasts.
5. Transfer $3,000 from the Department of General Services maintenance fund to be used for marketing. As the District government continues to "right size," vacant District-owned property represents untapped income. Therefore, I am recommend allocating $3,000 to advertise available office space in the Wilson Building. With minimal outreach, we have already successfully leased a vacant suite of offices on the first floor of the building to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington Field Office. With just a bit more outreach, I believe we could easily fill other vacant spaces as well. For example, I understand that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is exploring some additional space in the basement and expects to conclude negotiations soon.
6. Establish the Resident Relocation Fund, a new special purpose fund. Some residents simply are not well suited to live in a major city. They fear sidewalks, bicycles, traffic, noise, parking, and university dormitories. To address their growing list of concerns, we shall establish the Resident Relocation Fund, which will subsidize the costs of these folks moving outside of the District and include a complimentary municipal bond, untaxed, from the jurisdiction of the ex-resident's choice.
7. Add a further amendment to the BSA. With the passage of B19-0474, the Lottery Amendment Repeal Amendment Act of 2012, the District gave up millions of dollars in potential revenue. Much of our concern related to the iGaming contract stemmed from the lack of transparency in the bidding process. To remedy that problem, add a BSA provision that would once again put an internet-based gaming system out for contract, but with the added mandate that the payment for that contract be made only with money orders. In doing so, the District will enhance its revenue stream while ensuring a clear and easily traceable contract process.
Should you have any questions about the below measures, please take a hard look in the mirror. The ideas here are brilliant and need no further explication. Please do not contact my staff or me with your questions or concerns.
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