Monday, May 25, 2009

His Honor's explanation doesn't quite float

It seems that being in charge of a major city means never having to give up your taxpayer-funded perks, regardless of how badly your town is bleeding cash.

Smack in the middle of these ruinous financial times, the Washington Post has discovered that the District of Columbia has decided to outfit one of their 19 outdoor pools with gas heat just in time for summer, at an installation cost of $75,000.

One wonders why that particular pool at Hains Point was picked for such a luxury. It certainly wouldn't be because rabidly anti-gun Mayor Adrian Fenty trains for triathlons there, would it?

Fenty denies the accusation that the heater was installed mainly for his benefit, although his reasoning rings a little hollow:

"He said he swims there only during the traditional outdoor pool season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend."

OK, sure, until one finds out that his natatory schedule is standard for everyone, since the pool doesn't even open for the season until this time every year. That makes the mayor's protestation sound just a bit weak, doesn't it?

It's curious that nobody who should have known about such a large public expense actually was informed of the existence of this "pilot project" until the Post asked them about it:

"D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), chairman of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, said he was not aware of the installation until The Washington Post told him, even though he oversees capital projects and maintenance." (Emphasis mine)

And even curiouser that the person (now fired) who pulled the trigger on the heater's installation denies that there were ever plans to put heaters into the other two pools that the Parks and Recreation spokesman quoted in the article insists are next in line for this "pilot project":

"[Clark E.] Ray said he and his staff never discussed a pilot program to put heaters at the other two pools. Banneker and Anacostia are neighborhood pools and probably would not get the kind of traffic that East Potomac would, he said."

And it's curiouser still that the city hasn't publicized this "pilot project" at all, seemingly ensuring its failure as a revenue generator and recognized benefit for all District residents. We don't want a horde of peasant swimmers getting in the Mayor's way, and so forth.

Additionally, one regular swimmer interviewed for the article insists that the whole setup is quite unnecessary in any event, since the pool lacks shade and is usually quite warm by the time it opens at 1:00 p.m. (12 noon on weekends).

It would be very interesting to find out exactly what time Mayor Fenty generally takes his swims. In the early morning, maybe, when he can use the pool exclusively, and a heater would make a little more sense, albeit just for him?

Once again, it appears that hard-earned tax dollars ripped from the pockets of the peasantry are being misused by a big-city government to provide a great perk to one of the bosses, regardless of the dire economic strife that city finds itself in.

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