D.C. Budget Fool’s Day: Annual spoof warns city to prepare for traffic apocalypse


Mayor Vincent Gray, left, watches council member Mary Cheh hug a streetcar as they welcome the second in a fleet of three electric trolley cars for H Street NE on May 1, 2013, in Washington. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post file photo)

To anyone unfamiliar with D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh’s (D-Ward 3) annual budget spoof, the memo circulated on her office’s official letterhead Tuesday might have left some wondering if the George Washington University law professor had gone off the deep end.

Don’t worry, she didn’t. It’s fake — well, sort of.

As with every year, there’s a biting kernel of truth in Cheh’s humor. She makes light of rising tensions on D.C. streets between bikers, motorists and pedestrians, urging the city to allocate funding to “assist in the clean-up after D.C. Transit Judgement Day: the day when vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists engage in an all-out war to determine the District’s transit policy going forward.”

The cost? $175,000.

A bigger expense, Cheh warns: the urgent need to develop and regulate hoverboard lanes. The invention of the crafts is coming in 2015, according to “Back to the Future II.”

Cheh, an avid cyclist and chair of the council’s transportation committee, tells motorists not to worry. The hoverboard lanes will go between the sidewalk and bike lanes, taking no more pavement away from motorists.

“Opponents may argue that these lanes will only fuel the war on cars ... this committee stands by its position that there is no war on cars,” Cheh writes. But if there is the traffic apocalypse, “fortunately, some of us will have hoverboards to help us escape the battle.”

Cheh’s “Fiscal Year 2015 Budget” memo goes on to take aim at the botched rollout of $9 million in new city traffic cans and Supercans — and the even more troubled collection of old ones — by the administration of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

She proposes millions for a new class of “SuperDuperCans” that would be large enough to fit old trash receptacles inside. “The SuperDuperCans will be distributed on alternate trash days, and the old cans will certainly be picked up at some point in time in the perhaps not too distant future.”

Cheh also ribs Gray for his proposed school boundary realignment, proposing, perhaps instead a “Hunger Games”-style fight “to the death” among the District’s children at RFK Stadium using foam swords. “The victorious child’s parents can then select the school which their child will attend, whereas the losing children, if they survive, will be sent to schools in neighboring jurisdictions.”

Cheh also goes after U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. for the news conference regarding the guilty plea of Jeffrey E. Thompson — one that defense attorneys across town have said unfairly cast the mayor as guilty before indictment.

The fix? The city should provide a grant to newspapers to cover criminal activities by government officials, Cheh writes. The news segment should be “written by a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Rather than the cumbersome process of filing actual indictments and following federal rules of criminal procedure, such a local and unregulated venue realizes significant efficiencies by permitting the Office to litigate matters in the District Court of Public Opinion.”

There are plenty more digs in Cheh’s complete memo, including at the ineptitude of the Board of Elections and a proposed gondola between Georgetown and Rosslyn (how about$500 for ropes and wire for a “far less ridiculous option: a zip line.”)

And a whopper on the D.C. United stadium deal: Forget the complicated land-swap, build it on top of the Safeway in Palisades, Cheh says. And it will be no bother to neighbors “because — let’s face it — who really goes to D.C. United games”?

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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