My favorite reaction thus far came from DC Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), via Twitter:
Massachusetts is a disaster. We need to make as much progress as possible before these nutwhacks get back in charge.Let me say that I consider myself a Democrat. I was one of those annoying kids who supported Howard Dean (I even went to Iowa!) and heck, I've been reading DailyKos for approximately forever. However, I find it comical for a DC elected official to call Massachusetts a disaster, and Scott Brown a nutwhack. He may very well be, but Massachusetts elected him, and lest we forget that DC keeps electing Marion Barry.
So let me just say a few things. Once again the Democrats fielded a poor candidate in an election they thought they had in the bag. I'm sick of Democrats thinking they "deserve" a seat, or that this seat "belonged" to them. Last time I checked, that seat belonged to the State of Massachusetts. If having 59 seats in the United States Senate isn't enough to get something done, then the Democrats need to rethink just what the hell they are doing. I'm so glad that I don't have to deal with national politics on a daily basis. Now just get over this loss and get back to work.
Going hyper-local, 14th Street retail continues to suffer. 14th & You has a good piece about the decline of retail along 14th Street. The transformation of the area in the past few years is a great study of the double-edged sort of 'progress.' I highly suggest reading this piece, especially if you support local businesses. It's amazing to watch as a strip once occupied by a few restaurants and some promising local retail has turned into the upscale bar and furniture district. High tax rates and rising rents have forced all but the most profitable businesses out of the area, leaving vacant storefronts between the bars and now a big box furniture store. We'll give tax breaks to an out of state business (e.g. Target or Ellwood Thompsons) but we find it so hard to help out small businesses. It's a sorry state of affairs that seemingly could be avoided, if given some thought.
United Medical Center faced supply woes over the weekend. The only hospital serving Southeast dealt with what some called "battlefield conditions." Due to ongoing financial issues, an order for vital hospital supplies was delayed over the long weekend. The cause? The supplier wanted to wait for the hospital's check to clear before making the delivery. This resulted in a shortage of needed materials. This WJLA story reports that paramedics were having to give the hospital supplies from ambulances just so the emergency room could operate. How ridiculous is it that the hospital's credit is so poor that it has to pay for vital supplies essentially in cash, since the checks cannot be trusted. Are we going to need to do a donation drive for supplies for our own hospitals? Mayor Fenty pledged to send a few tons of supplies to Haiti... perhaps we should rethink what the District can give to others, if we can't take care of our own.
Medical marijuana poised to be the next contracting scandal. The Council has proposed medical marijuana legislation that would create a system to grow and distribute the drug to patients in the District. The legislation puts restrictions on where the proposed five dispensies could be located, and Councilmember David Catania (I-At Large) believes the regulations could serve as a model for other states. I'm mostly in favor of ending the war on weed, as it takes up too much time and resources for law enforcement. However, I can tell you I absolutely don't trust the District do to this correctly. We can barely enforce the laws we already have, and creating a system to provide medical marijuana is asking for fraud on levels that we haven't seen in a long time. Since there are still federal laws making marijuana illegal, the District cannot import it from another state. Can you imagine a DC government run (or audited) organization growing marijuana for "medical purposes?" Is this a joke? Catania says it would be up to the mayor to enforce the regulations. Do we want to leave this up to Fenty? As much as I don't want to shoot down this idea, it sounds so unrealistic and I imagine will ultimately end with Congress shutting it down. Not to mention, how the heck are we going to pay for this? The Council would like to provide the drug at a subsided cost for low income people. The creation of this infrastructure and enforcing the regulations will be a huge burden, and keep in mind for everyone else marijuana will still be illegal, so it won't take much of a load off of MPD. Sorry to rain on everyone's Cheech and Chong parade.