Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To An Illiterate, Smoke Free Society

Two news notes.

1. A big announcement came down two days ago concerning the Old Convention Center site. We all knew that the mega-parcel north of Penn Quarter was slated for commercial and retail development. But many of us had hoped for a coup of sorts, in the form of a brand new main public library on that site. How nice that would have been. A jewel of a new facility in a central location without all of the baggage of the current MLK Library at 9th and G. We could have had a fresh start, something residents, including the young ones, could get excited about.

Alas, a dream deferred. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced that the last piece of the site would be devoted to a luxury hotel and major retail. Some of the names floated around as the "major retail": Target and Crate and Barrel. Uhm, check please? So much for literacy. I understand. Why miss the chance to tax the hotel or whatever ended up in that space. A library would have cost money to build AND would yield no taxes. Maybe we could have sold the naming rights. What about The FedEx Reading Center at the DC Public Library. We'd all refer to it by that name... for a small fee of course. Maybe my wish about Carnegie becoming the new main library wasn't so silly after all. If you will it, it is no dream, right...? And hold the hate mail: I know that DC is still one of the most literate cities in the country.

2. Smokers, haha. Just keeps getting worse. The DC Council plans to double the tax you pay on a pack of cigs. That's a jump from $1 of tax to $2. May not seem like much to a non-smoker, but think about instantly paying another dollar for that latte you get daily. Of course the latte won't kill you. Not by lung cancer anyway. Just give up smokers. Soon you won't be able to smoke on sidewalks, in your car, or in your home. Good luck with that. Last year was the first full year of DC's smoking ban, eliminating smoking in restaurants, clubs and virtually any public indoor space.