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Stumping with other mayors for more transportation funding on Capitol Hill today, Muriel Bowser found herself in a mutual admiration society with the rest of the municipal executives. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio even declared Bowser “America’s Mayor.”
If only the mayor could generate some of that adoration down at the Wilson Building. While Bowser headed to Congress, her old colleagues at the D.C. Council continued to strip away at her freshman budget.
Yesterday, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie‘s public safety committee recommended chopping $3.1 million off Bowser’s police body camera program. It’s part of an ongoing spat over Bowser’s attempt to hide the footage from Freedom of Information Act requests. Even Bowser’s last-minute attempt at a ceasefire couldn’t stop McDuffie.
More ominously for Bowser’s budget goals, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans‘ finance and revenue committee took up the budget today and didn’t like what it saw. Evans has opposed Bowser’s proposed hikes to the parking and sales taxes since Bowser announced the budget, and he went ahead today and took them out of his committee’s recommendations.
Evans succeeded despite intervention from At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who tried to keep the taxes in the report, arguing that they’re necessary to fund Bowser’s anti-homelessness program. Without the new money, Silverman says, the city will end up once again using stopgap housing in the winter.
“We’re already preparing to pay for motel rooms again instead of doing the fiscally responsible thing,” Silverman said.
Without the committee’s support, Bowser needs to garner a potentially more difficult seven votes for the taxes when they reach the full Council. This afternoon, Bowser said that Evans’ committee has “unbalanced the budget” and said that the stripped-out camera funding amounts to “two-steps backwards” on police accountability.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery