Dear Montgomery County Taxpayer,
As an aide to a County Councilmember, I know you're expecting that the salary I receive is as well-spent as the tax dollars that go to pave your roads and teach your children. That's why I'd like to apologize to you, Montgomery County Taxpayer, for taking my ten-year-old brother to the Regal Majestic 20 in Silver Spring two weeks ago to see Aliens in the Attic, a G-rated tale of a family whose lake house is besieged by an extraterrestrial invasion. Ninety minutes and thirty-eight dollars later, I was thoroughly ashamed of what I now realized was a wasteful and redundant expenditure of taxpayer money.
I entered Fiscal Weekend 8/1-8/2 with a small surplus; as a result, the parents' lobby aggressively campaigned to have some of those funds directed to summer programs for youth. The first of these events would be a Saturday matinee with the aforementioned brother, currently on summer vacation. From the beginning, attempts were made to eliminate waste and cost overruns. Despite the protests of my brother, the self-appointed chair of the MPC (Movies, Popcorn and Candy) Committee, CVS Pharmacy was offered the procurement contract for candy to be smuggled into the theatre. A concession was made at the concession stand for my brother to have his own soda, resulting in an unanticipated $4.50 overrun, but can be defended by saying that he did, in fact, finish his drink.
But it was the movie itself, the largest line-item on MPC's Interim Fiscal Weekend 8/1-8/2 Budget, that represented the most egregious misuse of taxpayer funds. The MPC committee endorsed Aliens in the Attic because of its availability at the Majestic 20 and early showtime (2:45, long before the teenage crowds descend on Ellsworth). Reviews from RottenTomatoes.com, which uniformly panned the film, were toseed out due to allegations of bias "towards stuff that grown-ups like."
I entered the theatre with low expectations, but for $16.50 for one adult and one child ticket, I was hoping to see a film with a coherent plot and interesting characters. At the very least, I expected that the presence of Kevin Nealon, whose portrayal of an infantile city councilman on the TV show Weeds suggests he'd be able to save an otherwise lifeless children's movie (in what planet on what universe do sixteen-year-old boys ever say "What the heck?") but I was disappointed nonetheless.
I know I have failed you, Montgomery County Taxpayer, because you work hard for the money that we squirrel away from you, and using those funds to support such mindless drivel is nothing short of impropriety. While I do not advocate requiring County employees to partake of films that have received at least a 50% rating on RottenTomatoes (or, better yet, restrict the use of government salary to screening art-house films at Bethesda Row or the AFI), I cannot understate the importance of using more discretion in selecting higher-quality entertainment. I promise that, in the upcoming Fiscal Weekend 8/15-8/16, I will use your money more responsibly.