You Bet Your Life
Some hard information about the scheme to close DC General Hospital is finally
beginning to trickle out. The Control Board and the Mayor have tried hard to prevent
citizens from learning anything about the inferior Doctors Community Health Corporation's
proposal that they favor, but DCWatch has obtained the narrative section of that proposal
It's full of wishes and hopes and vague promises, replete with possibilities and maybes,
and devoid of the firm commitments that citizens of the city of Washington need, since the
Mayor is determined to bet our lives on it.
The DC Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the Medical Society
of the District of Columbia oppose closing DC General and abolishing the Public Benefits
Corporation. Mayor Williams claims that he doesn't have to listen to their expert advice
because he has expert support, too. He claims that the report of the Health Care System
Development Commission, which he chaired last year, called for getting rid of DC General
and the PBC. But he never released that report, even to Linda Cropp and Sandy Allen, who
were on the Commission, and even though it was dated December 2000. DCWatch has also
gotten a copy of that report (http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/pbc0012.htm).
Mayor Williams, to put it kindly, must have been misinformed. The report doesn't (that's
does not) recommend closing DC General, and it calls for strengthening the
PBC, not abolishing it.
Last week's events show that Mayor Williams doesn't have to move to Casey Castle to be
isolated from the people. Here's a tip, Mister Mayor: people in DC are still polite and
reserved in a Southern good-mannerly way. They only yell at you now because you have
pushed them into it by refusing to listen to them when they speak in a normal tone of
voice. The administration whines that the Mayor was ambushed by Rev. Willie
Wilson's vocal opposition to the Mayor's plans at the townhall meeting at Union Temple on
Wednesday. In fact, when Chief of Staff Abdusalam Omer asked Rev. Wilson to open his
church for the Mayor's meeting, Wilson told Omer that he opposed closing DC General and
would speak out against it if they held the meeting there. There was no ambush, no
At the State of the District address on Thursday, Rev. Graylan Ellis-Hagler asked the
Mayor to meet with a delegation of ministers opposed to closing DC General. Now the Mayor
is scorning the ministerial delegation and refusing to meet with the clergymen unless they
publicly apologize to him for their affrontery in asking for a meeting with someone of his
eminence in the first place. And at the State of the District address, the first dozen
rows were reserved to be packed with the Mayor's direct staff and cabinet to form a
protective moat between the Mayor and the citizens. When hecklers yelled out to save DC
General, the citizens who had been shunted to the back of the theater were shouted down by
the government employees seated in the front.
But don't despair; the Mayor has a plan to make citizens happy with the new health
system. A half million dollars has been set aside from the first year's contract with DCHC
for a noncompetitive contract with the Burson-Marsteller public relations firm to sell the
system to the public. We may miss a major snowstorm in DC tonight, but just wait until you
see that snow job.
The point is being missed on DC General. Yes, the hospital has run a deficit. Yes, it
could have been managed better. It should have been replaced years ago with a modern
facility. But that has little to do with the current situation. DC General receives from
the city about $40 million a year. It needs $75 to meet its budget. But instead of giving
DC General $35 million more, the city apparently at the Control Board's direction, will
give Southeast (a profit making institution) $85 million to do less than what is done now
at DC General. I fail to see the logic in that, unless the concern is that Southeast in
its present configuration might fail sometime in the next year, and therefor a cash
infusion now at DC General's expense will postpone that inevitability.
Monday night, I heard the Mayor say the city was going to provide health insurance to the
65,000 residents now lacking in health insurance coverage. I think he should be commended
for that. But we should be aware that is likely to cost the city $300 million annually and
makes it necessary to keep DC General open. But with full health coverage, DC General
would be able to bill for its patients like any other hospital and meet its budget.
Public Hospitals Are Public Utilities
Len Sullivan, email@example.com
In a recent letter to the Washington Post, William Brody, president of Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, noted that "hospitals are public utilities that provide a
vital service for the common good." Surely the legions of disadvantaged people in the
capital city of the world's richest and most compassionate country are entitled to receive
sound medical care with the help of those better able to pay the costs. That said,
however, surely they are not entitled to care ineffectively or inefficiently provided, or
to scarce public resources beyond their needs. And those who provide the needed services
are surely obliged not to squander public resources, not to take on "feel good"
secondary missions, not to featherbed on the backs of the poor, and not to preclude the
more productive use of idle public assets.
Privatizing and incentivizing the entire operation albeit under careful public
scrutiny and regulation is an obvious way to increase personnel efficiency (by
perhaps 20%). Consolidating services across a broader DC operating base is an obvious way
to reduce fixed costs (by perhaps 10%). In fact consolidating procurement of goods and
services across the entire metro area would be even more efficient (by perhaps 20%). And
redeveloping unused but potentially very productive hospital properties
could surely generate enough additional revenues to provide quality public health care for
those qualifying for it. Net revenues of $4 million per acre are easily available from
high-density taxpaying commercial developments near any underutilized Metro station such
as Stadium-Armory. My guess is that DC General sits on 50-70 acres of prime riverfront
land, any 20 acres of which could raise enough revenues to eliminate any remaining health
care shortfall, if so earmarked.
D.C. Democratic Party Must Defend the Real Democratic Agenda
Arthur Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mayor recently held his State of the City address outlining an agenda similar to
the Supreme Court's selected President of the United States, George W. Bush, which
promotes tax incentives for wealthy outsiders to move into our city, while longtime
residents get to pay higher taxes with less than acceptable services. Mayor Anthony
Williams's statement that George Bush is open to the ideal of Democracy for D.C.
residents is like the Ku Klux Klan sharing office space with the NAACP. And his
strong support for a plan that will close the doors of D.C. General to our city's poor,
fixed income, and homeless demonstrates his lack of compassion for people and his favoring
profits over human lives.
I wasn't elected on May 2, 2000, to the D.C. Democratic State Committee to be a rubber
stamp for any political party or to defend the right of Democratic politicians to hurt our
people; quite to the contrary, I was elected on a grassroots platform in which I pledged
to defend the rights of even the poorest among us to quality health care services,
expanded support for our students, and ending the displacement of the poor, the elderly,
tenants, and longtime residents of our city, and I will not wavier from my pledge.
My colleagues on the D.C. Democratic State Committee and those soldiers working the
polls on election day for this Democratic Party, must come back home to the people by
challenging any Democrat who favors closing our city's only public hospital, exclusion of
African American contractors from street construction contracts, appealing the votes of
voters though back door city council legislation, and pricing/forcing longtime residents
out of their neighborhoods by allowing construction of poorly constructed overpriced
housing. One of our Democrat At-Large City Council member said, in response to the
demonstration by D.C. Citizens at the Mayor's State of the City address, If we
politicians just ignore them they'll go away. Wrong, and this is why we maintain a
separation of the roles of the State Democratic Committee and Democratic Elected
Officials. To join the Citizens to Save D.C. General or the Coalition to Oppose the repeal
of term limits contact me at 561-3275 or E-mail email@example.com.
Two exchanges on the February 28 episode of The West Wing suggest that the show has a
ways to go if it wants to accurately incorporate local flavor. In one instance, the
president's top advisor was explaining the circuitous route he had to take to reach the
White House because of the World Bank/WTO protests. In addition to trying 17th, 18th, and
Constitution, he also mentioned taking Dupont. Where he took it, I do not
know, unless it was his way of saying that he was going around in circles (perhaps
appropriate in view of the fact that the show also dealt with presidential pardons!).
Item two was a discussion of oddball organizations (e.g., Geographers for Socially
Responsible Behavior) that once a year on the show at least are given access
to a high-level White House staffer. When the staffers were being assigned organizations,
the least desirable organization mentioned, based on guffaws around the table, was the
Committee for DC Statehood. Many of us had hoped that the West Wing with its
progressive administration might someday tackle the issue of our colonial
status, but instead they turn it into a joke.
themail of February 28 offered a flock of sensible reasons to oppose Mrs. Casey's offer
for a lavish mayoral residence, isolated in splendor off Foxhall Road. So when The
Post justified and even applauded it (March 1) I was simply aghast. Few other
editorial positions taken by the paper in recent times have so justified the opinions
often expressed by your readers: that The Post is thoroughly out of touch with
the broader community. Here in Portland, this shook me more than the earthquake up north.
Survivor III Trees
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a tough town to survive in, and it is especially tough for new trees. A few
years ago a spate of brand new young trees were planted on Massachusetts Avenue between
Ward Circle and Westmoreland Circle. There are some beautiful tall trees along this route
on both sides of mass Ave. But many of these trees are getting long in the tooth. On the
block between 47th and 48th streets alone some eight trees are gone over the last five
years due to weather incidents or to prevent these ailing trees from falling into traffic.
Replacing trees must be done while the old trees are still there. It takes a long time for
a new tree to achieve any prominence.
Alas, the fate of those young trees planted a few years ago was that most of them are
now dead from the brutal hot and dry summers in D.C. The fate of new trees will likely be
the same in most parts of the city unless something different is tried. That something is
to define and name a guardian for every tree planted. The city, or garden clubs, planting
new trees should name a specific person to care for every new tree planted until that tree
is able to sustain itself. For trees planted in front of private homes, those trees should
be cared for the residents of those houses. Trees planted in front of business
establishments or in front of developed properties should be cared for by the owner of
those properties. All guardians should receive a how to care package for their
tree(s). Where there are no houses or property owners, the trees should be cared for on a
regular basis by the city with frequent waterings in dry periods. If we want the new young
trees to survive for the next generations we must plant them now and nurture them through
the next several years (just like kids).
Trees, Mayoral Mansions, and Gift Horses
Stan Wellborn, email@example.com
We could all think of better ways to spend a $100-million gift to the District than
providing a permanent home for Washington's Mayors and helping to replant trees
even though I personally find these goals laudable. But that is the nature of a gift from
a wealthy benefactor the recipient doesn't get to select the gift. I would rather
see the 17 acres off Foxhall Road preserved as a single estate rather than carved up for
high-priced housing tracts, and if Betty Casey chooses to spend her husband's money that
way in DC, why reject it? Some folks have also suggested that George W. Bush should not
visit schools or other facilities in Washington because they are just props for his
programs. In my view, such visits serve to enhance the District's image to the world
just as trees and a ceremonial home for our Mayors would do. Now, Bush is using
schools in Maryland and Virginia to promote his programs. I'm not sure the District is
better off for that, and I'm not sure we would be helped if Mrs. Casey decided to take her
Vandalism and Protecting Our Trees
Phil Carney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Years ago I got disgusted with our Dupont Circle neighborhood looking like a dump, and
as I walked around the neighborhood I began pulling down illegal notices in public space.
In the beginning, it was common to pull down dozens of illegally posted notices from each
street pole. Later I started removing graffiti in public space. DC has two types of
vandals: graffiti vandals spray paint or use graffiti sticker tags. Graffiti vandals have
never bothered me, even when they know I'm the one removing their graffiti. Self righteous
vandals illegally advertise in DC public space for their business, or bar beer bust, or
favorite protest (Remember, this is Washington and at one time or another everyone in the
world protests here).
Self righteous vandals are very serious about their right to trash our city, because
their cause takes priority over respecting District laws or residents. Self righteous
vandals have threatened me with violence, mutilation, and death. It's dangerous in
Washington to try to keep your neighborhood clean and livable.
About protecting our city trees, Congress passed a law about 100 years ago creating a
fine of $50 for damaging a city tree. That $50 fine remains unchanged after a century.
Allowing for a century of inflation, what could and should the fine be today?
Only Fifty Percent
Ed T. Barron, email@example.com
School Board President Peggy Cafritz has stated that fifty percent of high school
teachers are not able to perform as teachers because of their lack of teaching skills or
the knowledge required to teach in their subject field. Ms. Cafritz may have even
understated the problem. These public statements by the leader of the School Board has
enraged the Teachers' Union, as might well be expected, and the union is demanding a
public apology. School Superintendent Vance should seize the opportunity to put this
conflict to rest.
The way to put this issue to rest is to hire a competent, independent, teacher
evaluator and to have this person observe each and all the teachers in the high schools as
they conduct their classes. That way we will all know which teachers can cut the mustard
and which will never be able to do their jobs properly. The Teachers' Union is demanding
statistical proof by Ms. Cafritz for her statement. Here is the opportunity to get that
data. Hire a good, proven, evaluator and let the chips fall where they may.
The Book article appeared in the New York Times Book Review sometime
in the last year.
Gary, I can't believe you actually printed this piece of cyber debris. I first saw this
at least three years ago! It's been floating around the Net for eons! There's a lot more
where that came from, if you're interested in recycling stuff.
Woodley Park History
Martin G. Murray, Woodley Park Community Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
A special workshop on our neighborhoods history will be conducted by WPCAs
Call Box Preservation Committee on Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m., Maret School, Atrium, 3000
Cathedral Avenue, NW. Guest speakers include local historians Al Kilborne, a Maret faculty
member, and Ron David, an independent documentary producer and WPCA executive committee
member. In addition, Paul Williams, head of the citywide Call Box Preservation effort,
will provide an historic overview of the citys call boxes and the current status of
preservation efforts. All are welcome.
The Oyster Schools landscaping plan will be presented for neighborhood review on
Thursday, March 15, at the monthly meeting of the Woodley Park Community Association.
Terry Hernson, Project Manager for the new school, will bring drawings showing the net
addition of roughly fifteen trees on the site, and the proposed cutting of four existing
trees along the Calvert & 29th Street greensward (please note that the trees abutting
the Cleveland Houses south facade will be maintained, per earlier agreement).
Following, there will be a discussion of proposed amendments to WPCAs by-laws for
presentation to the membership at the Annual Meeting in May. The meeting begins promptly
at 7 p.m., at Maret School, Humanities Seminar Room, Athletic Center Building, 3000
Cathedral Avenue, NW. All are welcome.
Cada Vez Open House, March 28 through April 1
Kathy Simo, email@example.com
Cada Vez, an upscale restaurant featuring American and international favorites, will be
open each evening for dinner starting May 2001. Sunday brunch programs will feature music
and performing arts in April 2001. Conferences and meeting can be booked from April 2.
Grand opening of Cada Vez, 1438 U Street, NW: March 28, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., media and
embassies; March 29, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., high tech companies, small businesses and
nonprofits; March 30, 31, and April 1, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., general public. Each day will
feature the various spaces and set ups for meetings, training, conference, webcasting
demos, special effect lighting, and Internet production demos.
These events can also be viewed Live over the Internet by distant friends,
relatives and colleagues from various cities and countries around the world. To view the
events online during the open house week, simply log on to http://www.cadavezonline.com and follow the web
The grand opening days for the general public will also feature Nap Turner and many
other musicians, including jazz, Latin, classical and ethnic groups. If you know any one
interested in poetry reading or other performing arts presentations, we would love to hear
from you. The Arts are a big part of the Cada Vez concept, and will be coordinated by
CLASSIFIEDS FOR SALE
Ikea Jerker computer desk, white with dark metal frame, large work space,
two shelves, very nice, very sturdy, and very much too big for the office in my new house.
I'm downsizing, so you can take advantage of it $100. You pick up from my home in
Logan Circle. E-mail or call 387-7291.
After a good many years (and, by my count, three different sets of owners), Palace
Cleaners on Wisconsin Avenue just above Fessenden, has raised its prices for laundering
shirts, and has done away with its three-for-two weekend dry cleaning specials. Can
themail's readers suggest other cleaners in upper NW which have good service, reasonable
prices, and convenient parking, or some combination of those useful features?
Help. Help. We have boxes. We have books. But no shelves. Can anyone recommend a good,
reliable carpenter? We are prepared to pay too much and are willing to wait several months
before the work is done. Send names and numbers to Robert_Marvin@yahoo.com.
I, too, use AT&T and have been pleased. In the past I've used Bell Atlantic (now
Verizon) and Sprint (in the Sprint Spectrum days) for wireless, and AT&T has been far
superior. But since this also depends on one's personal needs, I'll offer a few
observations. Sprint is OK if you don't mind a monthly call to customer service to try to
get your incorrect bill fixed. In my experience this company is incapable of billing
correctly for wireless or long distance, and customer service cannot help you. When I was
a Sprint long distance customer, I wound up having to call one of their offices in the
midwest and get a VP's office to get hundreds of dollars in incorrect charges corrected
(while they had transferred my account to a collections agency). If they were the only
phone company in town, I'd stop making phone calls.
AT&T's service and coverage is excellent, but like all companies, they have some
annoying dead zones. Talk to people who make calls from the places where you will be using
your phone; I am overall very pleased with them, but I curse the I-66/Dulles Toll Road
no-service zone regularly. VoiceStream purchased the old Sprint Spectrum network, which
provided the clearest service I've ever had back when I was Sprint Spectrum customer.
There are major roaming issues with them though; but if you are just going to use your
phone around DC, they could be a good choice. Have fun.....
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