After the Inauguration: Will We Get Our City Back?
Even an august celebration like today's inauguration of our nation's 44th president has to have a skunk at the party. And here I am.
Can't help it. I gotta ask, I just have to know: How much of our city will we get back?
Don't get me wrong. I like big events, parades, drums and bugles, marching bands, limousines, motorcycles, lots of cops, screaming crowds. All good stuff. And good for the city, too.
The only problem is that when the big to-do involves the president of the United States, it brings along the Secret Service and other protectors of the homeland. Yup, they all come with the territory. And, unfortunately for city dwellers, the feds eat up real estate as they go along.
And we never get it back.
Even before Sept. 11, the Secret Service was in an acquisitive mode, disgesting the District of Columbia blocks at a time.
A plane makes it to the White House lawn, a crazy scales the fence, an Embassy loses a front door overseas, and we in our nation's capital lose entire city streets, never to control them again.
First Pennsylvania Avenue was appropriated in the name of presidential security. Then the streets behind the White House were taken away. Now, the Secret Service's reach extends to Independence Avenue to the south, and, effectively, H Street on the North.
Not to be outdone, the Capitol Police have been scarfing down city blocks in Southeast and Southwest D.C. with an appetite that would put King Kong to shame.
The problem is that when the event or emergency passes, federal authorities never get around to returning the space they took.
Hence, today's fear. Never have so many District of Columbia streets been closed and controlled by the feds in one fell swoop as in the case of this presidential inauguration. It's scary because the feds seem to like it the way it is -- a lot -- and that bodes ill for us. When the president and first lady turn in tonight at the White House, and the Bidens go to their new home at the Naval Observatory, how much of our city will we get back, and when?
It was nice seeing the Obamas stroll down the avenue today. But suppose they warm up to the idea, and decide to use that grand thoroughfare for a regular after-dinner stroll? Will the Secret Service make them share it with us?
Think about it.
That's why this skunk is smelling up the joint tonight.
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