Zoo story appalls Washingtonian who’s seen it all

The kerfuffle over state funding for the Franklin Park and Stone zoos — which reached a climax when zookeepers put a metaphorical knife to the throat of whichever animal you find the cutest — gets a mention on Alan Greenblatt's Governing.com blog today.

Greenblatt calls our zoo story the "one of the most appalling examples" of the "Washington monument strategy" he's ever heard of. What is the "Washington monument strategy"? Greenblatt credits a city councilor from Auburn, California, with popularizing the term and defining it as follows: 

Legend has it that “The Washington Monument Strategy” got its name – and, no doubt, is place in the unofficial Bureaucratic Hall of Fame, which is located in a small unmarked room at IRS headquarters – when the National Park Service would, year after year, and after repeated calls from the President and Congress to find budget savings to their own agency, simply respond that they would have no choice but to close the Washington Monument. You could hear the sighs and gasps from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other. The politicians, upon hearing that one of the most visited and beloved sites in our nation’s capitol would close if they cut the budget of the National Parks Service, crumbled faster than the Chicago Cubs in August. This strategy can be broadly defined as any maneuver by a bureaucrat or politician to wall-off a particular government agency from the searching eyes of cost-conscience reformers.

The gambit has apparently worked for the zoos, as legislators have vowed to restore the funding cut by Gov. Deval Patrick. Is the MBTA trying the same strategy? Commuter boats are, after all, the closest thing the T has to a "cute" service (though I find the "high-speed" trolley that rolls through a cemetery to be the most adorable T offering).