District Digest: Shutdown, Shutdown, Shutdown
Today marks day 16 of the government shutdown. Despite being financially hamstrung by Congress, the D.C. city government is up and running—increasingly, though, on fumes. D.C.’s $144 million contingency cash reserve fund was slated to run out three days ago, forcing municipal officials to tap other sources of emergency funding in order to keep city services functioning. The alarming rate at which D.C. is burning through its money is in large part a result of major Vincent Gray’s defiant decision to name all city employees “essential,” thereby preventing even a single member of a 32,000-strong workforce from being furloughed. Paychecks, however, are expected to be handed out late this year.
A good man is hard to find
On Saturday, a South Carolina man was discovered mowing the grass in front of the Lincoln Memorial, whose typically well-manicured lawn has grown neglected during the government shutdown. The man, later revealed to be one Chris Cox, a chain-saw sculptor by trade, claimed to have no political agenda. “The building behind me [the Lincoln Memorial] serves as a moral compass, not only for our country but for the world. And over my dead body are we going to find trash pouring out of these trash cans,” he said. After attracting considerable attention, Cox was approached by the U.S. Park police, and asked to desist. He did.
Are you serious?
On Sunday, senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), along with everyone’s favorite Alaskan, broke through the barricades at the closed World War II Memorial, lambasting President Obama in the process for his role in the government shutdown. Evidently, the aforementioned senators forgot their own very prominent roles (as avowed members of the Tea Party) in provoking the ongoing fiscal crisis. Cruz, Lee, and Sarah Palin went on to endure much criticism for hijacking the non-partisan Million Vet March that was intended to protest the closure of the nation’s war memorials.
In light of—what else?—the government shutdown, Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies announced recently that it would offer a second series of free classes for furloughed employees of the federal government. The first round of classes, offered just days after the shutdown began, filled up quickly. Good on us, huh?
Redskins in the red zone
The increasingly vitriolic controversy over the name of Washington’s beloved football team, the Redskins, intensified this week as representative Donna Edwards (D-MD) co-sponsored a bill that would ban the ‘redskins’ trademark, because, you know, Congress has nothing else to worry about. News of the bill’s introduction came in the wake of remarks by legendary NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, wherein he classed the Redskins’ name as “a slur.” The bill, entitled “Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013,” is being vehemently opposed by Redskins team owner Daniel Snyder. But just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, PETA, the animal activist group who visited campus on Tuesday, stepped into the fray, calling on the Redskins to change not their name, but their logo—to a potato. Nice try, PETA, but the idea is just as tired as exploitation of women in advertising.
Photo: Keith Ivey via Flickr.