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Last updated 26 December 1997 -- Move On to 1998 -- Move On to 1999
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SECTION 8 The Congress shall have Power .... (17)To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
(18) To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
      - Constitution of the United States

Other Voices, Other Visions are here.

What's happening here today? (this week for slow news days.)

Extremely scary and officious people insisted that I cease-and-desist in my attempts to scare normal people away from the District. And so, now my wild and wacky old page is here. I'd tell you to read it, but you're probably just interested in whether the monuments are still standing. Sure, the real estate is all still there, it's just in the process of changing hands.

Welcome to the Earth Operations Central Washington, DC Page!

The National Mall.
The Japanese Cherry Trees.

Welcome to the Nation's Capital!
Watch your step.
And even more, watch your back.

Welcome to Washington. You've always wanted to come here, and now here you are! Or maybe you're here.

You don't want to do the usual touristy things, or you've already done them? Washington is an interesting place. Like any city anywhere, it has its good side and its bad side. Increasingly, the cracks in the facade of respectability have begun to show themselves. Mayor Marion Barry, re-elected after his return from serving time for his videotaped cocaine use, promptly reverted to his tried and true method of securing power to himself. He quickly appointed personal friends, "long-time associates" and a lot of other losers, scaliwags and cronies to leadership positions in the municipal government where they promptly ran the city into the ground. At one point in time, the local utility company was powering-down streetlights for non-payment of bills and refusing to maintain traffic signals, so poorly mismanaged was the City of Washington. The water was declared unsafe to drink. The schools, once considered excellent in part because of their very high per-capita expenditures, not only continued a slide into physical disrepair to the point of judicially-mandated closures as unsafe, also were increasingly invaded by gangs of outsiders who roamed the halls freely, on one occasion severely beating an ROTC recruiter. As the summer of 1995 drew to a close, and winter closed in towards 1996, local conditions were coming to a head. With the blizzard of 1996, the mismanagement became apparent when the city was literally shut down due to the municipal government's completely appalling inability to even get the streets plowed. Combined with the deadlock in Congressional budget and funding processes, the Federal Government itself was shut down, twice, utterly cancelling any hopes of any quick Federal fix, and it may well be that the only thing which staved off open revolution in the city was close to three feet of snow covering impassable streets. The situation had grown grim to the point of impending disaster, and the blizzard might well be seen as a gentle push from the very gods, who carefully let us all know that if a mere snowfall could paralyze a Nation's Capital, the country itself stood on the brink of administrative collapse. While ideological battles raged within the hallowed halls of the Marble Zone, the elected representatives and their pampered assistants had not deigned to notice that the city in which they worked was so deteriorated that the former pomp of deliberations within the temples of democracy had taken on the air of a confederacy of apes amid ruins in a jungle.

Unrelenting pressure from outraged snowbound temporarily-unemployed Federal workers, local cognoscenti, various media, and even internet web-pages forced the creation of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, better known as the Control Board, which began to take emergency actions to fix Washington. Said actions have included the appointment of a former general to oversee the school systems (with a complete disempowerment of the School Board), firings of large numbers of municipal employees, scheduled future reductions-in-force, terminations of a great many Barry "associates" under whose care various departments had slid from mere fiscal chaos into utter disorder, and in general, while things are not getting much better, at least creditors are being paid.

As Mayor Barry said of the state of law-enforcement in the District, "Outside of the killings crime is actually down in the District". Well, maybe the reported crime was down, but that may well be due to the fact that most people just gave up on calling the police department. For one, they couldn't do anything - response times were on the order of an hour to two hours for assaults anywhere outside of the tourist zones, and due to the incredibly bad fiscal policies of Mayor Barry, over half of the cruisers were inoperable and many of those cruisers which were deployed had inoperable communications equipment, and the city's information systems are of a technical level appropriate to Zaire (there are interesting parallels between the looting of Zaire by Mobuto Sese Seko and the looting of the District by the Barry-Crony (tm) administration). At last, the Control Board decided that there might be something to the common allegations of Barry's cronies interfering with police prosecution of gang-violence and drug-dealing, and placed the police department outside of Barry's control, other than selection of the chief of police, Larry Soulsby. Mr. Soulsby promptly fired most of his top brass, which was long overdue. There will be extreme restructurings and personnel changes within the Metropolitan Police Department, which had only one out of ten officers actually on patrol, and a full third of the force had made no arrests whatsoever in the previous year.

The job is still incomplete, but where Washington was rapidly assuming the position of a fell harbinger of National Doom, we now have an increasing Federal Oversight presence, with assorted plans for rebuilding and restructuring.

All tourists should be aware, however, that Washington natives (although in some cases grateful that they didn't get a chance to personally experience a greatly-accelerated rehash of the Fall of Rome) are largely very resentful of the loss of autonomy, resentful of the fact that the Capital of a nation which prides itself on Democracy is now administratively an occupied colony of the United States. Home Rule is gone, up until the time when the streets can be made as safe as those of any other American city of comparable size. Many Washingtonians have long regarded tourists as at best a mixed blessing, as they are by far the greatest private-sector cash-cow for the region, which has almost no industrial production whatsoever. "Messing with tourists" (the actual terminology is not suitable for an informative page) has long been considered the sport that proves one to be a local. Despite the desperation for tourist revenues, caused by last year's disastrous tourist season, the rage at the occupation has in some sectors greatly elevated tensions and hostilities. Increased law-enforcement activity in some sectors has forced the former inhabitants of certain criminal ecologies into other sectors, and tourists can increasingly be expected to be prime prey for the desperate. Add to this an immense increase in heroin use and addiction, and the impending shutdown of all outpatient treatment facilities, and we have a recipe for disaster - however, it's one that is now being aggressively attacked by the newly unshackled Metro Police Department, in coordination with neighboring jurisdictions and assorted Federal agencies.

If you'd like some propaganda from the Mayor himself, here is his 1997 State of the District Address (9 April 1997).

31 July 1997

If you want to read, from an unbiased source, precisely how badly and to what degree the Nation's Capital has deteriorated, please see this Washington Post article. (31 July 1997)

As part of the historic 1997-1998 Federal Budget agreement, it appears that the President and responsible members of Congress have decided that

Here is the full text of the District of Columbia Revitalization Plan, and here is Summary.

Thanks very much to the Washington Post.

Mayor Barry predictably reacted angrily, to the news of this done deal, but after all the Mayor has had two years to attempt to fix the city for the people who elected him, and for those entire two years all he has ever done is to drag his feet, occasionally kick and scream, while as a rule trying to play any card including the race card, which would excuse his two-decade-long program of cronyism, kleptocracy and institutionalized malfeasance. He himself has done almost nothing, and all of the notable improvements, such as they are, have been the result of the Control Board or citizen action. Under this agreement, the office of the Mayor is reduced to a largely ceremonial position.

The city is expected to become a feeding frenzy for some of the nation's best consulting firms, which will be responding to the mandate to the Control Board, which is under orders to not only fix things but to fix things quickly.

06 August 1997

President Clinton, as part of the Fiscal 1998 Budget, signed into law the District Revitalization Act.

DC Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Agency ("the Control Board") Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer, acting pursuant to the Act, directed Mayor Marion Barry to take no steps affecting personnel, contracting nor any of the nine major City of Washington agencies placed under the Control Board's jurisdiction by the Act.

Mayor Barry, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and other local officials declined to attend the Presidential signing of the Budget bill - Barry stated that "it's like going to watch your own death."

For better or for worse, two decades of kleptocracy under the Barry Administration have officially come to an end.

Barry had recently forced Department of Public Works head Cell Bernardino to resign for cooperating with the Control Board, which directed Barry to reinstate him. Barry complied, and also complied with the Board's requests for placements in the other nine agencies.

Here is a list of the heads of the nine agencies (thanks to the Washington Post, once again.)

DepartmentActing Heads
Administrative ServicesRichard P. Fite
replaces Dallas Evans
Consumer & Regulatory AffairsW. David Watts
replaces Hampton Cross
CorrectionsMargaret A. Moore
Employment ServicesF. Alexis Roberson
Fire & Emergency ServicesDonald Edwards
Housing & Community DevelopmentW. David Watts
Human ServicesJearline F. Williams
replaces Wayne Casey
Public WorksCell Bernardino
Public HealthAllan S. Noonan
appointed by Barry July 16

Dr. Brimmer, a former member of the Federal Reserve Board and an economist, was quoted by the Post as saying that "...while the [control board] did not seek this responsibility, we will not shrink from it." The Board ..."will be required to move decisively and swiftly to improve management and public services within the District government. And we intend to do so."

Most of District local politics is essentially up in arms against what they see as a complete rescenscion of democratic principles, and even Delegate Norton (who originally supported and indeed to a great degree co-authored the District Revitalization Act) now denounces it, and grass-roots campaigns are being organized to march on Capitol Hill. Mayor Barry predictably joined in denouncing those who have stripped him of the power to further mismanage the Nation's Capital.

07 August 1997

Mayor Barry evidently spent most of yesterday and today denouncing anyone and everyone remotely connected with the recent reassignment of power from himself to the Control Board. Despite Barry's assertions that "...this is not about Marion Barry. It's about our nation's capital," Congressman Thomas M. Davis of Virginia retorted to the effect that it was indeed all about Barry.

Also, the Mayor is evidently fueding with Franklin D. Raines, a Clinton Administration budget director and one of the architects of the District Revitalization Act. Mr Raines was evidently primarily responsible for the financial portions of the Act, which shifts most of the management and budgetary costs previously borne by the City of Washington, which would ordinarily be borne by a State, to the Federal Government. The plan also has the Federal government pick up the unfunded pension liability borne by the City of Washington, which had been widely seen as an economic albatross which would have forever kept the city teetering on the edge of insolvency. President Clinton admits that there is some slight inconsistency between the loss of even the vestiges of Home Rule in the District and the imposition of a Control Board, but also states that the package is good for the District since it does immediately provide a great deal more economic freedom and financial resource for the District. Mr. Raines, director of the Office of Management and Budget, was assigned by the President to monitor the situation, and where possible to make the transition painless and to preserve as much District autonomy and home-rule style as is practicable. Mayor Barry seems to be more interested in feuding than in cooperation, and seems to be further entrenching himself into a policy of foot-dragging, resistance and badmouthing of opposition which has characterized his policy and public actions for the last two years.

The Mayor continues to attack Senator Lauch Davis of North Carolina and the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on the District, claiming that "When he got the opportunity to stick up the District and began to rape democracy, he did so," Barry was quoted by the Post. "Senator Faircloth started the rape."

Coming from Mayor Barry at this point in time, after all of the years of mismanagement, cronyism and pocket-lining, that accusation of the rape of democracy is about as convincing as a lace-and leather-dressed prostitute charging rape as a result of not getting paid.

Mayor Barry was also quoted as saying, "Democracy has been raped, and we intend to try to do something to the perpetrators of the rape."

Now for the plus side of today's stories - At a closed-doors morning meeting of the Control Board (of which Mayor Barry said, upon being excluded, "I didn't need to be lectured to"), Chairman Brimmer said, more or less, "The District and its citizens, deserve better government. We intend to provide it." He also made it clear that the acting heads of the nine major city departments responding directly to the Board had better make rapid visible changes in the condition of the city agencies, or start looking for new jobs.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Mayor Barry's longterm policies of patronage, nepotism and cronyism were politically-astute at least insofar as regards his maintenance in office - now that the Mayor is rapidly becoming a Lame Duck, there is increasing distress and disturbance in the ranks of city employees - who are justifiably concerned that the kleptocratic form of "management" will indeed be replaced with a competitive meritocracy. No city of comparable size in the nation has had such a high outlay of cash, nor so bloated a middle-management class, as has had the District. Extreme reductions in force are possible, should an efficient management structure be devised and emplaced. Mayor Barry can expect adherents to his brand of "democracy", since after all electing Mayor Barry has tended to keep people on the City payroll who might have difficulties in securing employment elsewhere. If a "democractic" groundswell of grass-roots resistance or activism emerges, it won't be agitation for democracy, I am sure, but rather a resistance of barnacles to being cleaned from the ship of state to permit more streamlining.

Anyone entering Washington who "intend[s] to provide" better government to the District of Columbia had better watch their back.

All direct quotes from the Washington Post except where emphasis mine for purposes of constructive sarcasm.

13 August 1997

Mayor Marion Barry, seeming oddly subdued, yesterday evidently decided to tone down the rhetoric wherein he likened his delimitation from control of most of the major agencies of city of Washington government, to a "rape of democracy", however reserving his right to "sound the alarm". DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton decided to give the Control Board and the Revitalization Act a year before returning to Congress with a demand that the "undemocratic straitjackets on the city" be removed. Noting that there's no ammunition, either pro- nor anti- the usefulness or efficacy of any of the Control Board's recent actions (or the Mayor's recent or not-so-recent inactions) in promoting a change-for-the-better in the Washington situaton.

She's decided to wait that year "because the city hasn't had time to show that things are indeed changing - or else nobody will listen to any bill that I propose", Norton is quoted by the Post.

Mayor Barry has also toned down his antipathy towards Board Chairman Brimmer, and for this among other things, he was applauded by Rep. Thomas M. Davis of Virginia.

One can only hope that he's serious about this. Time alone will tell.

Barry continues to claim responsibility for most of the changes in Washington over the last year or so. On the Today Show of 12 August, Katie Couric remarked, "Mayor Barry, as you well know, many people believe you are the problem, that you simply cannot run the city. It's in terrible shape. You've had your chance to get it under control and you've failed miserably."

In a masterful effort at spin-control at which he excels, Barry responded: "Most people reject that. This city is on the move. Of course we have problems. [But] crime is down by 20 to 25 percent. Streets are cleaner than ever before. Businesses are coming back to Washington. Development is happening downtown."

Barry seems to be claiming personal responsibility for Washington's relatively minimalistic inclusion in nationwide trends. Crime is down nationwide much more than in Washington. Violent crime in particular, outside of Washington (of which the Mayor once remarked "outside of the killings, crime is actually way down in Washington") has declined radically, with the exception of juvenile violence, long a mainstay of the District's "murder problem". Economic forces have reduced unemployment nationwide to a 25-year low, though unemployment remains high in Washington, especially in the poverty-stricken areas of Washington such as SouthEast Anacostia, where the Mayor's Summer Jobs program was once found to have spent exactly no money on summer jobs for disadvantaged youth, despite the Mayor's continual ballyhooing of the success of that program. While first-time home sales are up, primarily to childless couples of "yuppies" or investment combines, those homes have come on the market largely because of the precipitous flight of long-term middle-class residents, who in the last five years in the process of their flight reduced the city's population by fully one sixth, and its taxable (at 9 percent) income base by, some estimate, a full third.

It has also been noted that much of the recent increase in law-enforcement successes are quite probably more due to the Control Board's initial stripping of power away from Mayor Barry, wherein they gave free rein to Police Chief Larry Soulsby, removing him from the purview of the Mayor's power to hire and fire. Radical changes have occurred in the police department, and there were extremely visible shakeups throughout the department, among other things, officers are now expected to make arrests and are now being provided with equipment to do this.

Mayor Barry has consistently denounced the Republican Party, while touting his own "accomplishments": "I've been educating the American people, educating Washington." (The Control Board and assorted Federal judges disagreed; witness the recent disempowering of the School Board and the emplacement of General Becton to the head of the District Schools. It is widely understood that under Barry, Washington has quite blatantly been not educated.) "Now people are beginning to see that this was a pattern of the Republican Party... I was on BET last night, and I could tell from the tone of the questions that citizens are beginning to see how this rape occured, who did the rape. They're not looking at me. They're looking at the problem with the Republican Party. It's been very effective. I'm not finished."

Indeed, the Republican Party has been very effective. Less so with the District than with, for instance, ending Welfare-as-we-knew-it, with revitalizing the then-moribund American economy to the point of a prosperity unseen since the days of the Fifties, instituting policies which have vastly reduced violent crime, vastly strengthening America's ability to control the borders and stem the rising tide of illegal immigration, and in general making the country a much healthier, productive and safe place to live. Where a mere five years ago, the majority of Americans resigned themselves to "business as usual" and a slow decline of this nation and a speedy consignment to the ash-heaps of history, today we have the Republican Party to thank for a majority-satisfied resurgence of faith in our nation and its institutions. You'd think that Mayor Barry would realize that most of America is very much behind the new Republican Party and all of the good it's done. Only in Washington, the last stronghold of die-hard Democratic majority, are these changes left unseen. And now, thanks to the "very effective" Republican Party, it seems that change is at last coming home to Washington, which may soon again be the center of it all, rather than our national shame and the source of a huge sucking sound.

We can only hope that one of Mayor Barry's few remaining full-control responsibilities will show as many improvements as are expected in the departments and agencies no longer under his control; he does retain control of the city's snowplows, and this is expected to be a winter with more than the average snowfall. Hopefully, he can at least prevent a repeat of the unplowed-streets debacle which as much as anything contributed to mainstream and national public awareness of his inability or unwillingness to manage.

21 August 1997

Mayor Barry today announced his nominations (legally mandated by the District Revitalization Act) for the following four of nine major District Agencies. The nominations are:
Nominated PersonDistrict Agency
Allan S. NoonanDepartment of Health
Richard P. FiteAdministrative Services
Donald EdwardsFire Department
Jearline F. WilliamsHuman Services

These nominations must be approved by the Control Board (DCFRA) and once approved, Mayor Barry will not be able to fire them.

22 August 1997

The DCFRA "Control Board" has retained the executive search group Norman Roberts & Associates (of Los Angeles), who have successfully placed over 28 City Managers in the last year, to find a City Manager for the District of Columbia.

Technically, the City Manager will be the Chief Management Officer (CMO) of the DCFRA, and will be tasked with oversight and management authority over the nine city agencies removed from the Mayoral authority.

By law, the DCFRA Control Board has less than 60 days to fill the position. The requirements will be extremely exacting, and the position will be one of the most demanding ever. The DCFRA has similar time constraints on developing a management-reform plan for the entire District Government, and every day saved before deadline in the hiring of this new CMO will be a day that the new CMO can bring their knowledge, skills and abilities to the design of management reforms. At present, the Board is staffed primarily by accountancy and financial personnel, few of whom have large-scale management experience.

The incoming CMO faces daunting prospects. Years of mismanagement (some say an utter lack of management) in some agencies have left a system with few internal safeguards on revenue flows, and almost no useful accountancy nor audit trails. It seems likely that any of the consulting firms which will be examining the District's management and accounting systems will suggest top-down rebuilds of many of the agencies and departments. The new CMO must directly oversee this process.

The festering bitterness of long-time City of Washington employees may be expected to provide ample stumbling-blocks for any attempted bottom-up rebuilding, though this may not cause much of a problem. A top-down approach to a management reform might simply develop new systems, hire new personnel and test and tune the systems as start data approaches, and simply drop the new systems and many new personnel into place in the existing physical facilities. However, it is more likely that City employees will sort out into two classes - those who are willing to work harder, smarter, and better for their fellow Washingtonians - and those who are not. Presumably these last will be quickly sacked, and replaced by persons eager to do a good job under conditions of extreme and extremely-rapid change.

29 August 1997

Chief Financial Officer Anthony A. Williams proposed yesterday that the immediate windfall of approximately $196.8 million dollars should be used to help pay down the roughly $300 million in short term City of Washington debt.

Mayor Marion Barry, contrarily, states that he believes that the money should be used to increase the City's operating budget for the coming fiscal year. He is quoted by the Washington Post as writing "I would like to add monies for summer jobs, the Office of Tourism, Office of International Affairs, Office of the Corporation Counsel, and [a] ...bonus for the government employees."

Charlene Drew Jarvis, Councilmember from Ward 4, instead took the wise course, suggesting that a course of prudence should be the order of the day.

CFO Williams notes that this is a one-time windfall, coming as the Federal Government makes its final direct payment to the City of Washington. Other budget savings which accrue to the District due to the Federal assumption of the costs of the pension-liability, court and corrections operatings costs, and increased Medicaid assistance are expected to amount to probably only $63 million in subsequent years. This leaves an approximately $130 million windfall.

It must again be stressed that nine major agencies have just been assigned to the oversight of the DCFRA (Control Board) and with the upcoming appointment of a Chief Management Officer ("City Manager"), those major agencies are scheduled for a speedy and massive reorganization. CFO Williams sensibly suggests the setting-aside of some $20 million into a "productivity bank", a sort of slush fund for the rolling-rebuild of city government. This is in my opinion an extremely worthy idea - clearly, despite the apparent willingness of the Federal government to open the purse strings to "get Washington fixed", the city will seem much more responsibly-managed if it takes care of itself with money already allocated to it. No need to repeat the former process of spend-and-beg. CFO Williams also suggests a set-aside of another $3.5 million for debt-service on proposed $50 million capital borrowing intended for road and school repairs.

DCFRA Control Board Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer has alread stated to Mayor Barry that funds redounding to the Federal bail-out for Washington won't be used as operating funds for extant programs, many of which are characterized as being grossly expensive for the amount of results they produce, and in many cases are indeed characterized as being completely "broken". For instance, the absolutely vital Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has, due to inefficiencies, understaffing and assorted irregularities, allowed an estimated $3 millions in inspection and licensing fees to go uncollected. In fact, a recent Post article detailed the similarities (but did not draw the comparison) to the ancient Imperial Chinese practice of hiring policemen: The Emperor would select the man reputed to be the most virtuous in a district, declare him to be the constable, and then would provide him with a sigil, an official stamp, absolutely nothing else, and admonish him to perform his duties faithfully on pain of death. It seems that the DCRA employees worked under similar contraints; there was only limited out-of-pocket expense reimbursements, no overtime, nor city fleet vehicles, available to the various licensing inspectors, leading to chronic underinspection of various facilities such as houses, apartment houses, and so forth, in in fact, where most jurisdictions inspect foodservice facilities at least monthly, in Washington it's unusual for a facility to be inspected more than twice a year, and in many cases, restaurants with the best previous inspection facilities are allowed to inspect themselves.

It may take all $20 million of CFO Williams' suggested set-aside just to revamp the DCRA. In an effort to completely revitalize the nine major agencies, it's highly likely that a huge infusion of revision and turnover will be required, and every available cent of this "windfall" of roughly $130 million should be squirrelled away against the coming storm. As for Barry's suggestions that some of these monies be used for programs such as his notoriously-ineffectual (it seems that last year, exactly nobody actually got a cent from the program) Summer Jobs program, considered emblematic of the cronyism and funds-shifting that characterise the Barry Administration, we agree with Chairman Brimmer that "...using these additional funds to support ongoing programmatic expenditures was inappropriate".

30 August 1997

In the latest development in a long sad story, a limited Federal review of the City of Washington's Department of Housing and Urban Development's Economic Development Loan program indicated that the City had an inadequate effectiveness-tracking system for policing the approximately $28.3 million in loans given out by the program.

The loans were issued from the proceeds of a $23.8 million block-grant from HUD, intended to be used for revitalization and renovations in poor or underdeveloped neighborhoods. Instead, "approximately $28.3 million of Community Development Block Grant funds [which were] invested in economic development activities [are] at extreme risk", according to acting director of HUD Community Planning and Development Division James McDaniel. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development demanded that the DC Department of Housing and Community Development "immediately suspend" the business loans.

This harks back to 1990, when HUD suspended the DC economic development funds due to inadequate management and tracking of $38 million in block grants.

According to DC officials (whose ability to accurately determine where any of this money has gone is highly questionable), some $3 million of the money went as loans to about 130 businesses whose qualification was that they had 51-percent of their employees drawn from low-income sectors. According to HUD, over 80 percent of the loan recipients have not repaid the loans.

As part of the Revitalization effort, W. David Watts was named acting director of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and his appointment to this position is expected to be confirmed by the DCFRA Control Board. He will then be a primary liason between the existing framework and the teams of management consultants who must be, by law, hired and working by approximately Hallowe'en. Already, Federal officials in HUD are moving to bring the DC DHCD up to speed, particularly insofar as would assist the HUD in making sure that the moneys in their block grants do indeed reach the intended recipients, and do so efficiently, and demonstrably/trackably so. As it is, part of the DC DHCD is essentially as conduit between HUD and the people who are intended to be benefitted by their dispensations of grants, and it behooves all concerned to see that this conduit is made accessible to the most needy, and that system-abusers are weeded out of the process, and also that red tape and inefficiencies are rooted out. Mr. Watts is reportedly eager to cooperate and welcomes Federal assistance in this reorganization, since clearly the streamlining of process can assure that the most money possible goes where it's most needed. And after all, that's what the job's about.

11 September 1997

Despite a two-page letter from Mayor Marion Barry, alleging managerial inadequacies in her recent tenure as acting head of the City of Washington Department of Corrections, the DCFRA Control Board named Margaret A. Moore as the confirmed head of that troubled agency. The Department of Corrections is scheduled to be swiftly turned over to Federal authority as part of the District Revitalization Act which became law on 5 August 1997. The City's Lorton (Virginia) Reformatory in recent years has been rocked by scandals including religious schismatics delivering drugs and sex to inmates, allagations of total availability of weapons and narcotics, and has a reputation of being completely unsurvivable by other than those who essentially grew up in "Washington's only rural neighborhood". Corruption and apathy have been rumored as to be so entrenched that it is most likely that when the Federals take over, the facility will be quickly emptied and demolished. Certainly the City of Lorton has plans for the facility, which will probably end up as a public park once the structures have been razed.

Mayor Barry, independent of any Revitalization Act authority, is moving to transfer some 400 more (900 have already been transferred) medium-security prisoners to a Youngstown (Ohio) facility run by the Corrections Corp. of America, an outfit out of Tennessee. These prisoners are now being transferred under a one-year contract with a four-year renewal option, whihc means that depending on future events, they might be transferred into the Federal Corrections system in roughly one year, or in five. At any rate, though there have been allegations of mistreatment and abuses at the Youngstown facility, certainly inmate maintenance must be better than it would be at the Lorton facility, and it probably costs the District, excuse me, the Control Board and the Federal funding agencies, considerably less than would incarceration at Lorton.

Ms. Moore was confirmed by the DCFRA Control Board over the objections of Mayor Barry. It should be noted that she was appointed by Barry's predecessor in the office of Mayor, Sharon Pratt Dixon (married in office, now Sharon Pratt Kelly), whose own term in office, mostly while Marion Barry was in jail or recovery, was not without scandal nor controversy - the mid-80s witnessed the infamous Adams-Morgan Riot, among other things, and in the early 1990s, the city went fairly rapidly to hell, though some will say that this was more due to policies of the previous administration (Barry's) which had acquired such inertia that they could not be speedily reversed. Washington became the "Nation's Murder Capital" under Barry, but retained that dubious distinction throughout most of Pratt-Kelly's term in office.

The Control Board, as directed by the Revitalization Act, had 30 days during which they were required to allow the Mayor to make non-binding recommendations for the heads of the nine major City Departments and Agencies which were placed under their direct control by the Act. The Mayor, true to form, did a great deal of foot-dragging and very few recommendations did he make. However, the Control Board confirmed four Acting Heads, who now take their orders directly from the Control Board, which has sole authority over these agencies now that the 30-day recommendation period has passed.

Confirmed by the DCFRA Control Board
DepartmentConfirmed as Heads
Administrative ServicesRichard P. Fite
Consumer & Regulatory AffairsW. David Watts
CorrectionsMargaret A. Moore
Fire & Emergency ServicesDonald Edwards
Human ServicesJearline F. Williams
Public HealthAllan S. Noonan
Public WorksCellarino C. Bernardino

The DCFRA control Board, under the District Revitalization Act, has only three weeks to fill the remaining positions.

17 September 1997

Unofficially, it seems that Richard Monteilh, formerly an official at the Atlanta Olympic Games, will be tapped to head the District's Department of Housing and Community Development. Mr. Monteilh was the Newark, New Jersey, chief administrator; the deputy commissioner of finance in Atlanta, Georgia; and assistant city manager for Savannah, Georgia. The official word of his selection has not yet been issued by the DCFRA Control Board. Mr. Montielh's credentials are impeccable; he holds a fellowship in public management from Yale and a senior executive fellowship from Harvard.

18 September 1997

It's finally happening. Heads are rolling, as it were, in the Metropolitan Police Department.

Citing the MPD's dismal closure rate (the precentage of cases closed, be they by arrest, dismissal or conviction) for murder in the City of Washington, police chief Larry Soulsby dismissed Captain Alan Dreher from the position of commander of the District's Homicide Unit, Monday 15 September.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Washington DC earned the dubious distinction of "the Nation's Murder Capital", a moniker that has, probably as much as anything else, contributed to the air of distate and occasional outright revulsion experienced by the vast majority of Americans who for a moment ponder the affairs of their Capital. At one time in the early 90s, the situation had deteriorated to the point where the Congressional Sergeant-at-Arms was slain literally on the steps of the Capitol Building, and insofar as I am aware, this is one of many cases that remain unsolved. No closure in this case, nor in, according to a report by homicide investigators drawn from across the nation, more than half the cases of murder in this city in the last decades.

People have not only been getting away with murder in Washington, but they're more likely to get away with murder than to get arrested. It is well known that if an arrest is not made within days of the crime, it is highly unlikely that an arrest will ever be made, and even in the early 1990s, less than half of all murder cases in Washington were closed. Again, closure does not imply that anyone was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced; it merely implies that the case is not up in the air, with the files abandoned to gather dust on the shelf marked "unsolved".

From the early 1990s on, however, closure rates have steadily declined from the abysmal 55-percent rate of 1992 to an astonishingly low 44-percent in 1996.

The Homicide Division's ranking oficers have consistently stated that one of the reasons for the abysmal closure rate has been the prevalence of witness-intimidation, a growing problem nationwide. Many of the killings in Washington have been essentially gang-related, though in the very early 90s, before the gangsters acquired marksmanship skills, an intolerably high percentage of killings were of innocent bystanders who simply happened to pick up stray rounds. At one time, fully-automatic weapons fire could be heard eching across town, and in 1993 you were statistically twice as safe in Beirut, Lebanon, as in SouthEast Washington.

The problem with witness intimidation was exemplified by the 1994 killings of FBI personnel right in the heart of downtown Washington, where a relative of one suspect entered the main police headquarters building bent on revenge and intimidation, and proceded to single-handedly wipe out most of the personnel involved in dealing with, specifically, unclosed cases. Since then, the homicide division has been distributed across the city.

An 8-member blue-ribbon advisory team composed of forensics experts and detectives from jurisdictions with high closure-rates advised Chief Soulsby on modern techniques, and analyzed deficiencies in the Metropolitan Police Department.

Among other problems, (as reported by the Washington Post) -

In brief, the investigative panel found the lack of professionalism overwhelming.

Chief Soulsby responded by, Monday, reassigning Captain Dreher, and on Wednesday, 17 September, by reassigning 17 homicide-detective supervisors. He's considering an outside-hire of homicide commander, which would reportedly be a first for the Metropolitan Police. "... I need someone with a degree in law-enforcement and years of experience and who is successful in closing cases," Chief Soulsby is reported as saying. He further remarked that this was "about professionalizing the police department".

It's certainly time for this - the FBI reports in their Uniform Crime Reports that the average closure rate for murder, nationally, is about 65 percent. So far this year, there have been 226 homicide cases, with arrests made in only 34 precent. That means that (presuming that each has only done one crime, and that this was their first) there are 149 murderers walking around downtown scott-free. That's something like one free murderer per every 3000 denizens of the District - and that is assuming that (and statistics do not support this presumption) that each of these persons has killed only once, and that one time was this year. However, with yearly murder-rates in the vicinity of 500-per-year for the last decade, and closure rates of less than fifty percent, that would mean that there are either 2500 successful murderers in Washington, or that a smaller number, emboldened by the fact that one is more likely to get away with it than to be caught, have gotten behind the learning curve and have become successful, even professional, in their deadly trade.

Add to this the former state of affairs, whereby persons awaiting trial in the District for violent felonies were released upon "personal recognizance bond" (basically they admit the charges are serious and promise to appear, no cash required), to quickly be re-arrested and again re-released, creating the infamous "Revolving Door" effect in the District judicial and correctional system, and you have a recipe for disaster. This provided not only ample opportunities and motivations for witness intimidation, but a clear and well-known perception that the entire legal and criminal-justice system in Washington had fallen through the cracks into an irremediable state of incompetence and uselessness. Washington's finest, once considered some of the Nation's Finest, had acquired a reputation as bumbling cloiseaus, and the criminal-courts legal system was referred to as "a joke".

Add to this the long-standing difficulties in the District Medical-Examiner's Office, which have included mismanagement, misplacing of files and results, antiquated equipment that in one case was alleged to have overlooked the fact that one victim had not only ingested three ounces of arsenic but also evidently gargled with plumber's pipe-cleaning lye solution, and even a refrigeration breakdown that left the City Morgue crawling with rats with the floors covered with stinking septic fluids from the rotting dead, and you have a murderer's paradise only waiting for the killers to notice the land of opportunity.

The Morgue has been brought up to speed, the police department has received increased funding and Federal assistance, and Chief Soulsby was the first to be cut free of Mayor Marion Barry's political and financial apron-strings, and fairly sweeping changes have been made in the Metropolitan Police Department, and there is all evidence that it may be possible to turn this city around, at least it may be possible to do something to punish those who have, for a decade, turned Washington into a killers'-playground and the Nation's Murder Capital. Chief Soulsby's willingness to listen to outside advice and consider outside hirings must be commended.

Oh, I just noted I made a little mistake with my math up above - with a closure rate of only 34 percent this year, it seems that so far, in Washington, you're about twice as likely to get away with murder as you are likely to not get away with murder.

Sleep well, your Nation's Capital is in safe and competent hands.

21 September 1997

Hey! I scooped the Post! So it seems they got mad and went and did a Freedom of Information Act inquiry, and today they printed the damning goods.

Washington City Councilman, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jack Evans, summed it all up nicely: "You just don't know who was in on this. ... No one should be earning $101,000 [per year] in overtime".

Police Chief Larry Soulsby admits, "The bottom line is the officers were not supervised and the supervisors were apparently violating rules." He also admitted that "Apparently some people were" running a scam during the fiscal year that ended last September (30 September 1996 closed that fiscal year).

And what a scam! Six million, that's right, $6,000,000 dollars from a department-wide overtime budget of roughly $18 million, seems to have been paid out to nearly 90 detectives and investigators. It seems that twelve of them took home more pay than did the police chief. In one case, one detective took home triple his base pay, implying that he worked roughly 20 hours a day including weekdays and holidays.

Officers who work other than day-shift are required to attend court appearances on their own time, for which they are reimbused in the form of overtime pay. Judging from some of the take-home pay reported, some detectives must have practically lived in the courtroom. Either they're the heavy hitters and truly-dedicated, missing not a single court case for the thousands of arrests they must have made, or there's something a little askew here. Considering that less than half of the previous three-years-worth of murder-cases have been closed, those court cases must have dragged on and on and on. Six million dollars worth?

Chief Soulsby is reported by the Washington Post as saying "Officials are making as much money as the troops. If they're over there making the money along with them, who's supervising?"

It's a good question. "It's one of the reasons I replaced all of the supervisors. We need management and supervision and accountability in the homicide branch," Soulsby said. Chief Soulsby's position paid him, last year, $99,131.

27 September 1997 (Saturday)
Chief Soulsby spent most of yesterday on Capitol Hill being grilled by the House Government Oversight Committee, which is headed by Thomas M. Davis, a Virginia Republican.

As a part of his revamping of the Metropolitian Police Department, Chief Soulsby required Homicide Division officers to sign an agreement assuring that they would leak no information to the press, the public, nor indeed to any other officers outside of the unit. Some have questioned the wisdom of this move, citing the public's need to know, but others note that since a major reason for the dramatic decline in closure rates is the fact that the Homicide unit used extremely dated and well-known (thus easily circumvented) procedures, it makes sense for new procedures and processes to be kept top-secret, to prevent ready adaptation by the District's career killers. But it must also be noted that without some Oversight authority having full access to these documents, under extreme security to prevent leaks, there is a possibility that the Homicide division might flounder without any outward sign other than an even-lower case-closure rate.

The Washington Post quotes one Jamin Raskin of American Univeristy's College of Law as saying: "The big trade going on here is democracy for efficiency. ... Among the reason that people typically like democracy is that it's transparent. Without it, the workings of government become clouded and opaque." Indeed, there is a well-known polar dichotomy within the field of police work; the "crime-control" model tends to be extremely tough on crime, but is in the extreme as likely to imprison the innocent as to imprison the guilty. The other extreme, the "due-process" model of law-enforcement, gives prime consideration to the rights of those not yet convicted... yet in the extreme mode of the "due-process model", sufficiently clever criminal-defense attorneys can cause a near collapse of society through a hamstringing of the police.

When asked by Committee members how it was that MPD Homicide officers were able to rack up phenomenal overtime (amounting in some cases to twice their annual straight-time pay), Chief Soulsby reiterated his statement of earlier this week, noting that there was a huge problem with supervision in the unit, which led to the dismissal of the supervisors in question. It was also disclosed that many of the detectives and investigators in the Metro Homicide Unit had essentially been detailed to the US Attorney's Office, which was underfunded and unable to field enough investigators on its own. This unfunded detail caused District officers so-detailed to file for payment from the Metro Police Department's overtime fund. In effect (if I read this right) the US Attorney's Office was sponging resources from the District.

Direct funding for US Attorney's Office investigators is expected to be approved, if Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC's delegate to Congress) has anything to do with it. In a televised segment broadcast on last-night's Fox TV 10:00 News, she was absolutely furious.

It was not disclosed (or at least not broadcast) exactly what those officers had been doing for the US Attorney's Office. Delegate Norton was quite distinct in her statements that she'd really rather have those detectives out on the street solving crimes directly for her constituents of the District.

The Washington Post and other media, along with the general public, have increasingly been cut out of the decision-making loop. The DCFRA Control Board has been conducting its deliberations in private, and with Chief Soulsby's shake-up of the MPD and issuance of this secrecy order, one gets the feeling that this may be either the calm before a storm or perhaps the silence before a scream for help. One also gets the feeling that someone has, after a long sleep (as it were) awakened to find that their house has been ransacked and covered with filth, and has decided to pull the blinds while cleaning up. While it is known that a report by a special team of outside investigators was a prime cause of the shake-up in Homicide, it is not known who the investigators were, and with Chief Soulsby "playing his cards close to his vest", their identities are expected to remain a mystery. Chief Soulsby has refused to release to the media any copies nor even fragments of this report. Perhaps he's taking a clue from DCFRA Control Board Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer, who said, "We provide ample information when it is ripe for public release." Chairman Brimmer further stated, in another context, that "...[we] conduct much of our work in working sessions that are not open to the public, but we vote in public."

In other news, a proposed cut in the District Budget for Fiscal Year 1998 (a $300 million cut) has been dropped. However, there is an extreme problem with the measure as it stands.

The District's various agencies, particularly the management tracking systems and accountability systems, are mainframe-based and commonly use what is known in the computing trade as "weird iron", which as a rule refers to "legacy systems" or "white elephants". Just as the National Airport has recently suffered several shutdowns of RADAR service due to the antiquation of the controlling computers and related peripherals, the management-tracking and accountability functions of the District are in extreme disrepair because, among other things, parts for some of the mainframes are unavailable (many of the machines are practically sole-survivor relics of defunct contractors), the routines are far from industry standards (the traffic-ticket computer runs a language that nobody knows, and is certainly not Year 2000 compliant), and even archival format standards are widely divergent.

This entire $300 million in salvaged appropriations could easily be blown on building "newer" versions of these legacy systems. DCFRA Chairman Brimmer is adamantly opposed to senseless expenditures on "improving" the extant system. It would be throwing worse money after bad money, akin in preposterousness to the famous oxymoron (actually broadcast in 1995) "Disney Corporation announces that it is, at long last, going to modernize TomorrowLand (tm)". This was that giant corporation's response to their failure to keep that famous attraction, intended to be a walk-through vision of the future, up to even the dated standards of the mid-70s.

This insistence that outrageous sums be spent to repair crippled white-elephants reeks of "pork"; this can only be intended to prop up some former behemoth of the computer industry now fallen on sad times, which alone has sufficiently-antiquated standards and equipment as to be able to repair these defunct dinosaurs of "information systems".

The Post quotes Chairman Brimmer as saying, "[that] is roughly equivalent to telling IBM to take another look and see if you can upgrade electric typewriters to serve the function now served by the most sophisticated computers around... It is a throwback that would be a total waste of money." [emphasis mine.]

Earth Operations Central couldn't agree more. We could probably, with two or three Linux Boxes, replace the entire "tickets, wants-and-warrants" system, outside of the dumb-terminals, for roughly $8,000.00 to $12,000.00, with all of that money going into hardware - Linux is free and the most advanced operating system available for small computers (including the Intel-based PC). There's absolutely no reason why each of the City of Washington's nine major agencies shouldn't have a decent very-modern minicomputer such as a Sun UltraSPARC. For $300 million, every single agency in the District could probably get a state-of-the-art minicomputer.

For $300 million, you could buy 100,000 brand new Texas Instruments laptop computers complete with a Ricochet Wireless Modem, which incidentally uses military-class RSA encryption. I'm not too sure, but I think that's one for every District citizen old enough to read.

Please write your Congressperson and demand a halt to this foolish and preposterous notion of wasting money on retention of legacy systems that will cost at least 100 times the cost of a modern system.

I must note here that I do have a personal interest in this particular issue - yours-truly has a neat little idea about using a few Linux Boxes running the PostGreSQL system as a database server for "want-and-warrants" inquiries, to be fielded directly to officers via Ricochet Wireless Modems to Newton Messagepad 2000 handheld computers, which are pen-based palmtops with built-in Netscape Navigator. Imagine that! Police officers with secure encrypted digital communications capable of rapidly downloading text or graphics, to wherever they need it the most, over a secure wireless intranet... for about $3000.00 per field unit, with the central server costing about $5000.00 in hardware for a dual-processor Pentium Pro mini-RAID system, all off-the-shelf technology running a free operating system that comes with all source-code included, written in very modern and extremely common C and C++ language.

Or you can spend $300 million repairing "weird iron".

But better yet, let a decent and established local firm with a good reputation do a package deal for one of the smaller DC agencies, and if that goes well and everyone's satisfied, spend the $300 million repeating this process.

1 October 1997 (Wednesday)
In an alleged unpublicized letter reportedly dated 18 September 1997, Michael C. Rogers announced to Mayor Marion Barry that he intended to resign from the post of City Administrator. He took that post in 1995, moving on from a former position as chief of procurement under the Dinkins administration in New York City.

He first publicly announced this intent to resign last night, and also announced an effective date of 20 October 1997. "It's time to go, period," he reportedly said.

On an unrelated issue, the saga of the Homicide division of the Metropolitan Police Department continues. It appears that in January 1996, the National Drug Intelligence Center of the Department of Justice (a highly acclaimed unit) sent a report to then-Captain Alan Dreher of the Homicide division. They stated that more than 135 unsolved killings from 1991 through 1994 could be closed (or at least more arrests could be made - only seven were) if a few specific leads were followed. According to one David Schertler, once chief of the homicide section of the US Attorney's Office, "...They summarized the cases and said these were the things that needed to be done. You couldn't have it delivered on a nicer silver platter."

Dreher evidently neither forwarded the report anywhere, nor responded to the NDIC/Justice Department, and this cannot be understood in the light of the damning report, which indicated exceptionally lax standards and failures to do the obvious. The report purportedly details, among other things, that suspects identified by witnesses or victims in police line-ups were not only released but not questioned. While such practices might be routine in narcotics-squad investigation of alleged drug dealers, in the hopes that the suspect might lead them to higher levels of the distribution chain, in a murder investigation such actions are utterly insupportable at a municipal police level. I find it absurd that any detective would let an indicated suspect walk away from a murder charge and equally absurd that a police captain informed of this absurdity wouldn't immediately detail someone to go arrest the suspect while simultaneously placing the responsible detective(s) up on charges. The mind boggles when it considers possible reasons (other than complete incompetence) for releasing a "fingered" murder suspect. Payoffs and other culpabilities are the least-sinister of these possible reasons.

I may have to start a new page just to cover developments in the Metropolitan Police Department.
2 October 1997 (Wednesday)
It was almost two weeks ago that Metropolitan Police Department Chief Larry Soulsby first heard tantalizing hints regarding a possible high-level intelligence report on failures in the MPD's dismally-unsuccessful Homicide division. The consulting firm hired in February 1997 by the
DCFRA Control board to revise the MPD, Booz-Allen & Hamilton discovered fragments of the report. Evidently they decided that something of extreme importance had been "circular-filed" and began tracking the source. They eventually contacted the authors, at the National Drug Intelligence Center, a reknowned Department of Justice division famed for their ability to effectively deal with immense amounts of data. The NDIC/Justice was able to provide them with a copy of the original, which had been totally ignored by the recipient, Captain Alan Dreher. The report effectively solved over 130 murders, and also presents evidence that effectively damns certain homicide detectives as sloppy investigators who willfully ignored not only departmental policy but common-sense in their investigations of these murders.

Washington DC has long been plagued by violent crime. It has always been a very dangerous place, but with the arrival of the late 1980s and the explosion of freebase cocaine ("crack") nationwide, a combination of factors turned the streets of our Nation's Capital into an ongoing bloodbath which was, per-capita, twice as dangerous as Beirut during the height of the bloody conflict in Lebanon in the early 80s.

While in the early years of the crack explosion the streets were effectively lined with money for anyone who could get a product out to the street, towards the end of the 80s and particularly throughout the grim economic times of the early 1990s, there was a consolidation of lines of distributions, and vicious wars were fought over distribution territories or "turfs". The sound of automatic-weapons fire could be heard even on Capital Hill, and in some parts of town, mothers routinely bedded their children in the bathtubs in the occasionally-vain hope that some highpowered handgun slug would be stopped by the steel. At one point in time, as many people killed by gunfire in Washington were killed by stray rounds as were killed intentionally. This is no longer a problem. The "gangstas" have gotten to be pretty good shots by now.

The police proved remarkably-ineffectual in even responding to the scenes of the crime, and not surprisingly so. A slow response from all responsible parties had left the police department understaffed and underequipped with aging cruisers and nonsecure communications and old-style revolvers, while the criminal "posses"' outrageous tax-free incomes permitted them to roam the streets with state-of-the-art telecommunications equipment and fully-automatic weapons of war such as Tech-9 and Uzi machine-pistols. I personally watched someone walk a street one July 4th discharging a "streetsweeper" automatic shotgun, and it was four hours before a policeman showed up on a small motorcycle.

By the mid-1990s, however, it had become clear that open warfare, while eminently-useful in securing turf, tended to frighten away the customers. The guns are still out there, being held in reserve for the most part, rather than have the customers remain huddling terrified in their suburban homes.

That doesn't mean, however, that the guns aren't routinely used to settle old scores, or "beefs". Other weapons are becoming prevalent as well, ones which are considerably more silent and definitely more difficult to detect than are bullets. While a certain amount of deaths probably result from robberies, most commonly non-domestic murders can be reliably attributed to this or that final settlement of a drug-debt or a turf-dispute. Everyone on a particular block may well know that someone got shot, and know who did it, but too commonly, nobody will talk because they fully believe that the victim had it coming to them or are terrified of retribution from the perpetrators should they step forward and implicate the perpetrator and/or testify.

And well they should be terrified.

The NDIC/Justice report clearly notes that District homicide detectives routinely failed to follow up leads where suspects had been clearly identified and were in many cases already in custody. This is clearly insupportable and flies in the face of common-sense, or does it?

Perhaps the street's attitude of "they had it coming" had penetrated to many of the detectives in question. Or perhaps, noting that this was violence perpetrated exclusively amongst the most-lawless and vicious of the "gangstas", figured it was simply the common-enemy killing itself off. Or perhaps, one has to question some of the basics of Washington DC: The city's poorest and most crime-plagued neighborhoods are quite often very close-knit, and quite often interrelated. Washington is famous for its huge extended families. It's also famous for the fact that there are no secrets here and everyone knows everyone else's business. From these assumptions one can proceed to the difficult question: How many murder investigations have been dropped simply because the suspect was a part of the investigating detectives' extended families? There have been longstanding and repeated allegations that during an early-90s hiring spree the Metrpolitan Police Department was less-than-diligent in their checks of applicants' backgrounds and histories.

Tough questions such as this inevitably emerge after reading the NDIC report. It's inconcievable that an entire Homicide division of roughly 100 detectives could be as utterly incompetent as is shown by this Report, and therefor one can only assume corruption and culpability. Certainly this latter implication is shored up by the recent discoveries of an ongoing scam whereby a large group of homicide detectives and investigators were receiving overtime pay exceeding $100,000 per year. How far has the corruption gone?

That is the question that Captain Alan Dreher would have had to ask himself when he received his copy of the report back in January of 1996. What did he know that caused him to shelve this report without passing it on to his superiors? One can only hope that he did not pass a copy on to people to whom he must answer who were not only outside of the police chain-of-command, but clearly in opposition to law-enforcement. At any rate, the report never went where it was supposed to go.

Police Chief Larry Soulsby and other inquiring minds want to know. Some of the people who want to know doubtless include the majority of District taxpayers, and everyone involved with the whole mess. I also suspect that Congress wants to know. I further suspect that as details are brought to light even the executive Branch and possibly the military will want to know. (If the full details are ever brought to light, the entire city might have a nervous breakdown in the same way and for the same reasons as might a man who emerges from the ocean to look back and realize that all day long he's been swimming with sharks.)

That's why as of now there are new additions to the force, whose immediate job is to bring closure to those murders already solved in an 18-month-old report from the NDIC. These new additions include 10 FBI agents, 10 DEA agents, and two BATF agents. There are also a number of Narcotics Division officers to be detailed into Homicide.

It's clear that in the District, there is an extreme linkage between drugs, death, and corruption. It's thus extremely appropriate that the long-separated (why?) venues of homicide and narcotics are to be combined.

I predict that as investigations proceed, and arrests are made, that information will come to light that will expose a scandal of proportions unseen since the Prohibition, and of such depth and sinister implications as to be unconsidered even by most conspiracy-theorists. It's well-known that if you want to clean house in the manner mandated by Congress, you have to bring in outside blood. I suspect that this importation of Federal Agents will expose a web of payoffs and complicity that would make incest look admirable by comparison.

2 October 1997
Drastic improvement can be expected in the next few months, says Metropolitan Police Chief Larry Soulsby. Accompanied by the Mayor,
DCFRA vice-chairman Stephen D. Harlan, and DC Councilman Jack Evans, Chief Soulsby announced radical improvements in the way the city's embattled Homicide Division does its job.

First off, the "cold case" squad, responsible for cases which could not be immediately closed, will be expanded and will have significant new allocations of personnel and equipment.

Secondly, the homicide training unit of the departmental academy will be re-opened, and will begin teaching the latest in procedures and protocols to homicide detectives.

Third, all detectives will immediately receive a "homicide kit" that will contain a voice-recorder, a Polaroid (tm) camera and also a cellular phone with a pager and voice-mail capabilities.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, new record-keeping procedures will be implimented. After the latest fiasco wherein a document which essentially solved over 100 murders languished unlogged and uncirculated for some 18 months, this has to be regarded as essential. Front-to-back logging and indexing of all documents will not only aid in the information process for the division, but the new records facility, which will be a secure central-files facility with card-key access and secure camera systems will assure that none of these mysterious records-suppressions and "de-filings" recur. It is well known within the law-enforcement community that as many arrests are made through so-called "data-surveillance" as through almost any other investigative technique, and if there is indeed corruption and evidence suppression within the division, the records-office is the place for any culprit to use an insider to clean up their "data trail". Cover-ups should be much more difficult (outside of chain-of-command complicity) with a secured central-files facility.

Chief Soulsby also announced a new policy, which I won't mention here since, in my humble opinion, he forwarns and thus forearms the more experienced and "professional" killers. Personally I liked the former air of secrecy; "keep 'em guessing" sometimes gets the best results.

One policy announced which I certainly applaud and will pass on is this: Chief Soulsby seems to be leaning well-towards a strong stance for community-based policing. The victim-assistance programs, often considered something of a joke, will be expanded, and also there will be increased communication with homicide-victim's families. This makes sense - quite often the leads which could resolve a case will be supplied by relatives of the deceased.

One note of caution. The homicide kits which have been proposed for issue to homicide detectives do not, in my opinion, go far enough in the field of security. I refer to those cellular phones with voice-mail and pagers. Recent incidents wherein Speaker-of-the-House Newt Gingrich had his cellular conversations intercepted by ordinary citizens, and the recent ABC News disclosure that hackers had cracked the Secret Service "messaging pagers" and had kept a running-transcription of data which placed Presidential security at extreme risk must be considered. Voice-mail is widely considered the "most hackable" of all distributed telecomm services and messaging-pager traffic is as easily "stolen" as are people's cellular numbers. Before Chief Soulsby commits to any particular brand of portable telecomm, he should consult with such groups as the infamous 2600 group, whose "Emmanuel Goldstein" went public with their compromise of the Secret Service's messaging pagers as a public service.

Giving regular cellular telephones to detectives would be, in many respects, just about like giving them megaphones to shout across town at each other - any data essential to the case so transmitted, if intercepted by an interested party, could be used to thwart investigations, or indeed to put officers at extreme risk. Even the spread-spectrum models are not immune to being "cloned", with similar risk-factors entailing - although one must consider that anyone in possession of the technology and the skills to do this, and using it, should possibly be considered a threat to national security as well as a mere danger to the local police - this is, after all, Washington DC. If such a person is a killer as well as a technically-competent eavesdropper... images of a James Bond super-villain spring readily to mind. (Particularly-so in light of recent statements made by FBI head Louis J. Freeh and other top administration officials pointing out that it seems that the Russian Mafia has at their disposal many former KGB officers and people with PhDs in abstruse technical fields. Selling access to police communications to local criminals might be just their style.) I recommend that all officers being issued such messaging equipment be strongly advised that while spread-spectrum phones are indeed more secure than are regular cellular-phones, still a great deal of caution must be urged, and non-secure-line protocols must be followed.

We still would like to see the development of, and force-wide deployment of something like a beltcom (tm, yours truly). Once again, a decent laptop with a Ricochet wireless modem running internet voice-conferencing software and PGP voice and data encryption would provide military-class voicecom, e-mail and data security to investigators, and an encrypted-secure intranet would ensure total accountability with redundant copies of searchable electronic-format data.

If the MPD would like me to stop giving them free technical advice on a public web-page, they're always free to send me PGP mail. If they don't know what that is, it's no wonder there's only a 34-percent closure rate so far this year.

Why all of the well-researched free technical advice? "Because We Care".

7 October 1997 (Tuesday)
Welfare Reform "Torpedoed" by District Slacking

There are few areas of the United States which are more staunchly Democrat than in the Washington Metropolitan Region. During the first half of this century, Washington was a sleepy Southern town, and a fairly small one - but subsequent expansion from the War Effort in the 40s, the expansion of government in the 1960s, and in particular the immense expansion of the Welfare state throughout the period of roughly 1964 to 1996 created a voting population that continually propped up the party from which grew the Hand That Feeds. Yet in a classic failure to understand the "Tragedy of the Commons", none seemed to realize that by voting for the people who relied upon that failure to understand, they voted for their own destruction - when the Hand That Feeds' Food is itself only supported through the body-politic, voting for more Food is voting for one's own slow death through a leechly attrition. But like those who return again and again to sample the dubious pleasures of the vampire's kiss, the nation at large and the Washington Metropolitan Region in particular returned again and again to cast their votes to the Democrats, for their expansion of Big Momma Government, and in particular for the immensely bloated social "benefits" programs that very nearly, over the last thirty years, sucked this country to death.

And boy did the result suck. Everybody seems to realize it, too - and in 1994 and in 1996 again, just for confirmation, almost no politician was elected who did not have as a part of their platform, the elimination of Welfare as we know it.

One notable exception to this rule is the City of Washington's elections.

You couldn't get elected head of animal safety in this town, even in a plague of rabies-infested rats, if you speak against Welfare. The town is and has been for at least two generations dependent upon Welfare only slightly-less than it is still dependent upon the presence of the main force of the United States Federal Government.

One of the few saving graces of Welfare is that, where tiny babies are concerned, Welfare does pay the mother to stay home and take care of her children. That is, after all, what it was first designed to do.

However, the new laws which force an end to Welfare-as-we-knew-it require a search for work, and a mother with a babe-in-arms can hardly work properly. And the new laws have been remarkably successful, in general fair, and in general quite humane - and it is in this last humaneness that we find at last the fatal flaw in the process.

The law, in its humaneness, exempts those who cannot find adequate (which is to say, fit for human beings) child-care, from the process of work-search and eventual employment. What's a mother to do if she can't find a place to keep her kids?

All around this town there's a sudden new boom in the child-care industry. Personally, I suggested this some time ago - that I simply couldn't understand why perhaps ten women seeking to leave Welfare couldn't select two of their number to care for the children of the other eight while the eight sought work - and in rotation, eventually everyone would have work, with those with days off occasionally caring for the others' kids, or possibly even paying the two to go into a fulltime business caring for the children of their friends. Makes sense to me - but of course there's always the question of licensing and qualifications.

Forget that concern. The City of Washington Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), possibly the most understaffed and overworked of DC agencies, in an article from the Washington Post, stands revealed as being completely unable to regulate the inspection or licensing of child-care facilities.

Would a co-operative of ladies pooling their time and resources to take care of each-others' kids need a license to operate? Well, technically, they probably do - but most DC day-care centers have expired licenses - and with over 350 day-care centers and hundres of home-daycare operations in town, the DCRA has exactly five unsupervised inspectors to check on licensing or conditions of these facilities.

Welfare reform simply cannot work if a parent cannot be assured that her child is safe while she's at work. Thus, the City of Washington, by failing to beg, borrow, or steal the money to ensure that every mother knows her child is safe, effectively assures that welfare reform is not going to work in Washington. And then the Democrats of Washington can point out the failures as being the result of some essential flaw in the Republican plan to get everyone off to work. And having blamed the Republicans, they can get themselves elected. That's not going to work this time.

The working parents of Washington, and the parents of Washington who want to work, must either storm the offices of the DCRA and demand that the city close facilities that cannot provide adequate care for their children, or they must demand of the DCFRA Control Board and the School Authority that the City should provide centralized facilities, effectively licensed and overseen by the proper regulatory authorities with all due diligence, which can take their kids off of their hands while they go off to work.

I personally favor this latter idea.

A great many parents do look forward to the day that their child turns six, because they know that the child will be off in school, not only getting an education, but being out of the parent's hands for that time. I can't see why the schools shouldn't be able to extend the lower age-limit downwards, and serve not only kindergarten, but preschool and for that matter, toddler daycare.

Or perhaps the City should create some sort of new authority, similar in scope to the school system, but exclusively concerned with daycare for children too young to be in the regular school system. As it is, there is a two-agency system overseeing the District's child-care industry. And perhaps therein lies the problem. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for paying for daycare sought by Welfare parents, and do not seem to care nor to be aware of which facilities are operating without licenses. Also, they pay less than half of the average area-wide fee for daycare. Affluent parents can pick and choose to which facilities they'll remand their precious young, but the District's poorest residents are stuck with whichever facility is willing to take on "DHS kids". Facilities which take in only $21.50 per-child/per-day cannot be expected to be in the most attractive possible conditions, not in a city famous for high expenses. It's no wonder if those who know they can evade regulatory sanction, do.

But all of those children of all of those women being moved off of Welfare need to be somewhere, right? And so the City makes no effort to close down faclities which are essential to the future livelihoods of those whose Welfare is due to expire. And some of these facilities do indeed deserve to be closed down, if any of the Post's reported violations are true - in some of the facilities, children are being malnourished at the crucial ages where most of a persons' brain-growth occurs - lead paint chips off of walls, children use cockroaches for playthings, and dangerous playground equipment invites potentially-deadly accidents. Levying fines on the facilities has no effect; generally the conditions are so poor at these places because the facilities are so strapped for cash. Years after the levies, fines often remain unpaid, and despite expired licenses, the facilities remain open.

Welfare reform cannot possibly succeed if the parents are forced into the workplace to watch their children grow up stupid through inadequate school meals, or unhealthy because of exposure to filth or unsanitary conditions. Everybody loses in this situation. In particular, since the present situation is one where the parent has to pay personally for care in a venue that is de-facto unregulated, this is a completely unfair economic segregation which clearly discriminates against the poorest, and with potentially lifelong effects. At least under Welfare, children were generally well cared-for. So we must develop a system where conditions are the same in all facilities, and the regulations applied equally to all - and this can only happen under a system where everyone pays in something, and the wealth is redistributed, without creating dependencies such as were seen under Welfare.

The first move is to bolster the DCRA inspection teams, get them out there - not necssarily writing tickets and issuing fines, just simply finding out what is the biggest problem with each facility or operation. Find out which facilities have the greatest strengths. See if facilities can't be pursuaded to pool resources for economy of scale. Just get more people out there.

Please see this excellent Series of Articles from the Washington Post.

Could it be Worse? - District Police in Total Chaos, Report Says

8 October 1997
Dope and guns sit in an unguarded toolshed. Forensic-medical evidence rots in sweltering heat, creating a biohazard. Police fuel is routinely stolen by civilians and off-duty officers. Nearly ten percent of the Metropolitan Police Department's vehicle fleet "cannot be located". Mid-level officers are detailed to do low-level clerical work.

A report from Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc (the international consulting firm retained by the DCFRA Control Board to overhaul the beleaguered Police Department), details these and many other failures. Primarily these are failures of disorganization - in any group as large and charged with such a variable task as is the MPD, a bit of disorganization is to be expected. But total Chaos? That's what was found.

The Washington Post reports DCFRA Control Board Vice-Chairman Stephen D. Harlan as saying: "The culture of city government has been allowed to disintegrate to a very, very low level .... the management of various [police] departments - technology, fleet, warehouse - is in a great state of disrepair. There is a sense of almost being overwhelmed .... When you don't have controls, you have an opportunity for severe mischief. If someone had appropriated drugs, cash and property, we honestly wouldn't know. [emphasis mine]

In another context, Harlan said: "We just have a huge task".

This is a statement probably less reflective specifically of the Police Department, than it is of the state of the City of Washington as a whole. It has been such observations, over at least a decade, by persons of all ranks both within and without the local government, which have paved the way for the receivership of the City and the appointment of the DCFRA Control Board. But until Mayor Marion Barry was officially stripped of most of his ability to enable obfuscation and "kleptocracy", the depth of deterioration was unknown. One of the things at which Mayor Barry has been most consistently capable has been misdirection and a shirking of responsibility. It has been rumored elsewhere with a degree of levity that Ronald Reagan might well have learned his infamous "Teflon" abilities at the feet of the Master, Marion Barry, but this is not a supportable statement... but it is a fact that outside of one small stint in lockup, nobody has ever been able to get anything to stick to the Mayor. Everything's too disorganized for any documentation to be assembled reliably... perhaps by design.

But one little bit of Ronald Reagan's political philosophy is demonstrated in the clerical processes of the Department: "over-regulation leads to inefficiency and eventual organizational collapse." A clear clerical trail and documentation of process are all admirable and indeed the essential traits of any functional (or more importantly, accountable) bureaucracy, but according to the Booz-Allen report, the internal procedures of the Department are grossly over-regulated with archaic requirements, many of which seem to at-best only tangentially-related to the actual process of policework. In one unit, unnecessary paperwork accounted for one-third of the workday.

The report also notes that in the Fleet division (where some 87 of the Department's supposed 1243 vehicles "can't be located") there are few certified mechanics, and over-regulation by the City has made it almost impossible to fire even those workers known to have caused catastrophic failures of Department fleet vehicles. Also, Booz-Allen consultants were unable to find out who, if anyone, was actually "in charge" at the fleet garages. As with the Homicide division, there appears to be an extreme problem with overtime and supervision, or lack thereof. As it is, police vehicles spend almost 60 hours "in the shop" for every hour they are actually in service. This tends to imply that the police vehicular presence is somewhat lower than it might be at optimum. I admit that I am slightly curious as to how Booz-Allen arrived at these particular figures on vehicular downtime - elsewhere they remark that there is "no ability to account for usage" of police vehicles and fuel. But one can assume that the police cruisers are, by and large, spending a lot of time in the shop - police vehicles are very commonly the victims of a great deal of wear-and-tear, especially on such horribly-maintained streets as are the norm in the District - and the average age of a District Police Fleet vehicle is five years.

Police Chief Larry Soulsby said, and most will agree, "These are things that have been wrong for 20 years. They didn't occur overnight."

In the following section, a variety of solutions are proposed - some of which are those from the report, some of which are my own.

Solutions proposed by Booz-Allen:

My own suggestions:

The Metropolitan Police Department is far from "utterly hopeless" as some have suggested. However, any agency of this size, and possessed of such an huge inertia as has been left as legacy of 20 years of slothful management under the Barry Administration, will take some time to turn around and get back on track. Booz-Allen, among all of their fault-finding, also found room for hope. They cited the department positively for having "embraced reform".

"Astounding in the Depth of Chaos"/"Money Down a Rathole"
Capitol Hill, City Leaders Profess Shame and Outrage
Over Near-Anarchy in the District's Police Department

9 October 1997
I've been saying this for years, but being known as the local lunatic and village idiot, anything I've said on the matter has of course been utterly discounted, and indeed probably taken as proof positive that conditions were opposite whatever I said. But let the same exact statements come from
Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc., (the powerhouse international consulting firm retained by the DCFRA Control Board to investigate the Metropolitan Police Department and suggest management reforms) - and the city leaders take heed.

But this is about far more than the sleepy southern town of the City of Washington. The City of Washington has very little importance in the grand scheme of things, with one exception. It is not a major port, there is no manufacturing, and any purpose that it serves, save one, is better served by other cities in the region. To what does Washington owe its continued existence?

Washington is the seat of the United States Federal Government.

Washington is the Nation's Capitol, and one would hope that it should be the "bellwhether" of the Nation. Instead, despite the gleaming marble of the Monumental Core, and the stately dome of the Capitol rising above the hill on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington has become, on the city scale as well as the National scale, symbolic of corruption, mismanagement, decay, and an approaching reign (if that term can be used) of Anarchy.

In recent years, with a continuing process of reforms, including reforms of Welfare, an amazing belt-tightening and elimination of "pork" within the Federal budget which has included a fairly massive downsizing and re-invention of government, which combined with the resulting robust economy is reducing the staggering deficits and national debts that have accumulated over the years. There's hope for the Federal government, and hope for the Nation, and everyone knows it and everyone's happy about it. Everyone had known for years, all across the Nation, that "those idiots in Washington" were up to no good with their shady backroom deals and strange political bedfellows, and a few years ago, the Nation simply got fed up with it, and exercised their right to vote before the nation could at last sink into the quagmire of history. A clean sweep took out the old rubbish and at least people can again see the bedrock upon which the country was founded - hard work, self-reliance, and mutual respect. But as in any cleaning job, part of the process is getting a lot of dust in the air, and it's only when the dust settles that one can really see what was under all of that dirt.

The dust is starting to settle in the City of Washington, and it appears that for the last twenty years, someone has been stealing the very flooring-stone, and the more you clean around here, the more you're convinced that there really is nothing solid beneath all of the muck. Inside the gleaming alabaster walls, there seem to be nothing but dirt floors built of unstable ground... in fact, that floor is pockmarked with a maze of rat-holes, and the more you dig, the more complex it gets - and worse, the deeper you dig, the more obvious it gets that you had at best stood on a thin crust of seemingly-solid earth above a veritable sinkhole of a rat-hive.

This is Washington today, and it's as if it's waking from a dream of sleepwalking in a fog, to look back and wonder how it is that you managed to negotiate that fearsome precipice in your sleep, which you'd never in a million years essay while awake.

DC Council member Jack Evans is quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "I had no idea that the police department was as bad as it was .... it's astounding in the depth of chaos and disorganization that we found. The bad news is, it couldn't be worse .... The good news is that we discovered it and are fixing it."

For years, the City of Washington has been plagued by out-of-control crime, most notably murder. Certainly there has been a great deal of other crime as well, but it's the body count that has drawn national attention.

It's a stunning tribute to the peace-loving and cooperative nature of the American People that the body-count wasn't higher. The Booz-Allen reports indicate that there has been, for close to a decade (with the problems first becoming noticable, had anyone botherd to look, more than 20 years ago), no effective means of control of the city - the Metropolitan Police Department was simply dysfunctional to the point where for the most part they relied on people's tendency to be nice, rather than any actual abilities to keep a situation under control. For some many years, as best anyone can tell, the unstated policy of the police department has been best exemplified by the phrase "as long as you leave them alone, they'll be happy, and if they're happy, they won't be doing crime". The body count states otherwise, but then again, there's always going to be some soreheads at any party, who just aren't getting with the program.

It appears, that for the last twenty years, the City of Washington DC has been a shining example of a genuine working Anarchy (where not a prime example of a genuine working "kleptocracy"). This is even more absurd when one considers that it is, after all, the center of National Government. Anarchies are, after all, considered by some to be the ideal human state, with no external imposition of will upon the individual, but anarchies are totally dependent upon the good-will of everyone. The risk one runs in an anarchy is that any small seed of violence can result in total chaos. While Washington, as a City, could certainly have dealt with a full-scale riot, by calling in the military if necessary, it is the duty of the police department to deal with "quiet riots", or for that matter "low-intensity conflict in urban terrain". The fact of the matter is that the Washington Metropolitan Police Department stands revealed as not only incompetent to police the city and provide adequate protective services, but is, in fact, probably incapable of defending itself as an organization were it to come under even an obvious and organized attack. The organization is not. It's not organized, I mean. This disorganization might in fact be the Department's sole remaining strength. Anarchic societies as a rule resent the imposition of any sort of organized force, and individuals tend to harass the organization at whatever is perceived to be the weakest point.

The Metro PD doesn't seem to have a weakest point.

The status of Anarchy does not, of course, preclude self-defense. And even within a technical Anarchy, defenders will band together, and they can indeed do a creditable job of defense - as an unorganized militia. But it's a commonplace of government theory that a disorganized militia cannot long survive when presented with a foe that is organized - and Washington DC is sitting smack-dab in the sights of an increasingly organized and appallingly well-equipped group of criminals who would love nothing better than to see the PD disintegrate. As it is, the Metro PD is essentially a city-sponsored disorganized militia. They're armed, but not with the sort of firepower that gangsters have. They've got communications equipment, but it's not even as state of the art as what the average corner hooligan has in terms of technical sophistication, and they have a vehicle fleet - that's on average been running hard and ill-maintained over Washington Streets for five years. The average gangster, or at least the ones that the Department most needs to apprehend to ensure public safety, is probably driving a brand-new sports/utility vehicle. They're simply unprepared and are asking for a five-percent raise?

Congress is having none of it.

The Post quotes Congressman James P. Moran, a Virginia Democrat, as saying of the police department, "We on the Hill agreed today to team up with the control board and make their life miserable until they clean up this department." This was right after he said, "You can't just keep pouring money down a rathole".

And what a rathole it would be! The Booz-Allen report indicates that over the next three years, close to $75-millions would have to be spent on equipment upgrades and training, some $50-millions to bring district stations and holding facilities up to a minimally-acceptable standard, and a mere million for a new command center (ideally a highly-mobile one) and $7-millions on new educational programs for officers. That's a lot of money.

There's really no choice in the matter. Washington needs to make these changes if it's committed to being the Nation's Capitol. The American people simply won't stand for the idea the local mismanagement has allowed the former Pride of the Nation to deteriorate into, essentially, a theme-park overrun with hooligans, with a security force that's essentially not much good except for collecting admission tickets.

Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee for the District, Congressman Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican, was reported as stating that the police department must overhaul itself quickly and thoroughly, and finance improvements entirely from within the existing budget, if at all possible.

Left unstated were the alternatives, should the department prove unable to speedily and effectively reinvent itself.

Evening, 9 October 1997
Late-breaking news! The City Council is pulling an all-nighter grilling Police Chief Larry Soulsby - and questioning the usefulness - indeed the complicity in suppression of a murder investigation - of the Metropolitan Police Department's Homicide Division.

Presently-unsubstantiated allegations have surfaced wherein it is stated that in 1995 an informant came forward with supposedly-quite-credible statments linking an unnamed Barry Administration aide to a murder which remains to this date unclosed. The allegations by a sworn witness state that when this informant came forward to the Homicide Division (which has recently undergone a shake-up of epic proportions, complete with allegations of total incompetence (outside of successfully scamming one sixth of the District's entire overtime budget) and cover-ups including willful suppression of Justice Department information which could have led to arrests in over 130 unsolved murders - this informant's statements were not only ignored, but the informant's present conduits have hinted that information was leaked from inside the department to the alleged murderer - purportedly a close personal aide of Mayor Marion Barry - one with strong insider ties to the Homicide Division, or at least to sufficiently-substantial segments thereof. The informant reportedly is in hiding in fear of his life - in fear of the Homicide Division.

Enquiring minds still want to know - why was that Justice Department report suppressed? Who among the lot indicated by the Report simply couldn't be arrested without maybe heads rolling in the higher echelons of the District Government? What is the possibility that many of the recent murders in the District may have been more related to local politics than to other causes? Sure - it's a long-shot. But stranger things have happened - and after all, this is Washington - Ground Zero, the focus of more long-range plans "than you could shake a stick at". At what levels was there complicity? Who, ultimately, was responsible for the suppression of an investigation of Murder Most Foul?

As of this writing, the hearings continue, even at this outrageously late hour. At stake - the helm of the Metropolitan Police Department, which has increasingly come under fire as being dangerously without direction. An overused simile is that of the man who has come back to the beach to realize that he's been swimming with sharks - the average District Denizen should be shaking in their boots knowing that, effectively, they have been relying on no force of law but entirely upon the good-will of the criminal segments. It has been said that the ultimate origin of all police or "king's-guardsmen" was at base a protection racket - wherein the citizen is disarmed and must trust for their security to those who come to collect the taxes or protection money... and that the health of the society can best be determined by how willing the guardsmen are to bring their own superiors to justice - in effect, one asks the question, do they actually provide protection, from all quarters both high and low - and if indeed the Homicide division has to any degree protected their promotions with suppression of a case involving someone tied to their ultimate superior (not the taxpayers, the mayor, dummy) the citizens need to stop depending upon the protection racket and take themselves TO ARMS.

13 October 1997
First, the good news. An "extremely concerned" Mayor Marion Barry has called for increased funding for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), specifically so that the agency can increase the levels of activity as regards inspections of day-care centers. Half of those which operate within the District do so with expired licenses, in conditions ranging from merely non-compliant with code, to downright dangerous. The rules governing Day-Care operations in the District have not been revised substantively in 23 years, although this summer there was a submission of legislation intended to modernize the policies, which are to a large degree overseen by a separate agency, the Department of Humans Services, (DHS). It should also be noted that the DCRA has itself come under fire as a dysfunctional agency which on the one hand "regulates everything that moves" but is on the other hand utterly negligent in their enforcement of violations of regulations, and deficient in their collections of fees and fines, in particular in their collections of fees and fines associated with Public Health. Restaurants, nursing homes, and childcare centers have gone largely uninspected, or have been left to police themselves, for the last decade, sometimes with appalling results. It must also be noted that a court-appointed reciever for the District Child Welfare services walked off the job last week, when it became evident that no replacement could be found at the expiration of his term and that he was essentially drafted to the job "in perpetuity".

It should be noted that unsafe or unhealthy conditions in child-care centers are not a problem exclusive to the District - indeed, as Welfare-as-we-knew-it is deconstructed, there will be a concomitant expansion in the child day-care industry nationwide, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods. I call for the establishment of a National Child-Care Standard which would fund and enable adequate regulatory oversight so as to ensure any parent that while they are at work or in school, their children will be as safe as is humanly possible. It may in fact be necessary to create some new Federal Agency which combines regulatory oversight with a funding-on-compliance mechanism, passing money down through local agencies to ensure that children in day-care centers receive adequate nutrition and enriched learning environments preparatory to their primary-school educations.

Now for the bad news - a stunning Washington Post article of Sunday, 12 October 1997 reveals that the recently-publicized failings of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department had been known-of for years, and despite repeated warnings, assorted reports, and internal warnings, almost nothing has ever been done to repair the situation, and indeed, in many cases there seems to have been active efforts to allow certain departments to deteriorate.

For instance, for many years before Mayor Marion Barry was filmed in an undercover sting operation smoking crack cocaine in the Vista Hotel, for which he was convicted of a misdemeanor and served a short jail sentence, it was widespread common knowledge in and around the District that the Mayor was a bit too excessive in being a "party-animal". In fact, in the words of one Gary Hankins, founder of the local Police Union (as reported by the Post): "It was common knowledge that the Mayor was out of control .... and that was our boss."

As an aside, I must note that at the time of his arrest, there had for months been as joke circulating around Washington - "Q: Hey, was that you smoking crack with Marion Barry? A: No! Q: Well, why not! Everyone else does!" A bad joke and in poor taste - but evidently all too close to the truth for outraged Feds to stomach for long. They set up their sting and set up Marion Barry.

However the question remains: to what degree did the Mayor's easy acceptance of (and indeed immersion within) a ballooning "gangsta" lifestyle that eventually brought our town the moniker of Murder Capital - enable a "torpedoing" of effective law-enforcement? As for the consistent failures of the Department to secure convictions of certain parties, primarily due to lost evidence, Barry says this when speaking of his failure to get the dysfunctional evidence warehouse into passable shape: "some things just don't get done."

The Post article also documents something that I have long suspected - during the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a hiring spree within the Metropolitan PD, mandated by Congress and heavily funded. The police force almost doubled in size, and during the time-window mandated by Congress, there was evidently insufficient time to perform adequate backgrounding checks on new recruits. Almost half of the 201 officers arrested from 1991 to 1994, for crimes ranging from shoplifting to murder, were recruited during this time, a clear indication that the background and character-checking processes were badly broken. One can only wonder how many of those whose backgrounds weren't sufficently checked have managed to commit crimes for which they've not been brought to justice, and have also made it into management. At any rate, in 1985 the Department stopped reviewing officer performance, and increasingly all promotions became a matter of nepotism, cronyism, and whether or not you'd ever crossed the Mayor or any of his associates an increasing number of whom have over the years come to stand revealed as less-than-wholesome in their business or personal dealings.

It has also been noted that this huge increase in the number of officers left the MPD almost incapable of proper management within the Department. Reports have consistently decried the ease of overtime abuses and the paucity of internal regulatory mechanisms, particularly as regarded personal accountability for expenditures control. However, despite the reported inability to provide management to such a large number of officers as are now on the force, management is characterized as "bloated".

A prime example of abuses recently came to light. At the time of Chief of Police Larry Soulsby's appointment to his present post, there was an extreme problem with the Homicide Division. They had, due to the near-meltdown of District finances, been restricted to almost zero overtime, and cases simply could not be solved without this overtime. Chief Soulsby promptly did the sensible thing, once emergency funding had been pipelined to him by Congress - he authorized nearly-unlimited overtime to the Homicide Division, in the expectation that officers would do the right thing, and get out there and solve some murders. It is indicative of the institutional sloth and the culture of hopeless depression fostered by the Barry Cronies (tm) Regime that instead of getting out and solving crimes, a group of Homicide detectives, investigators and their supervisors took this as an opportunity to conspire to scam millions of dollars out of the treasury and into their pockets. It's indicative of the degree of managerial incompetence that multiple layers of "oversight" didn't seem to feel that this was interesting enough to pass upwards to the Chief, who was the victim of finger-pointing by one Captain William Corboy, who reportedly faulted Soulsby for having authorized the overtime, which was, again, an emergency response to an emergency situation. Should Soulsby have expected that the Homicide division would promptly take advantage by scamming one-sixth of the City's overtime allocations, while allowing the closure rate on murder to fall to an abominable 35 percent? That would not be a reasonable expectation in any other city, but this is, after all, Washington DC, after two decades of Barry Cronies administration. Future administrators in this city are advised to expect scamming, take-offs, skimming, and managerial collusion in all of the above, unless very firmly suppressed.

"Invitation to Disaster"
Defense Lawyers Jubilant over Mismanagement of Evidence Storage Facility
Possibly Tens of Thousands of Major Felony Cases Blown!

15 October 1997
"It's going to affect every drug case in town," said DC Superior Court Judge Ellen S. Huville, as reported by the
Washington Post. She, and every other judge trying cases involving the scandalous Washington Metropolitan Police Evidence Storage Facility, will probably be required to consider the high likelihood that due to conditions at the facility, there is no clear and demonstrable "evidence trail" or reliable "chain of custodianship" for contraband, weapons or bodily-substances evidence.

Defense lawyers are reportedly jubilant, as are, undoubtedly, their clients.

Today the Post went all out, and demanded to know why Police Chief Larry Soulsby is still on his job. The editorial in today's Post pulls no punches and they do seem to be out for blood.

It must be noted, in all fairness, that despite the abysmal murder-case closure-rate of just 35 percent, overall, murders are down dramatically in the District this year, and crime on average is down by 18 percent. It must also be noted, in all fairness, that Chief Soulsby has presided over this downturn in crime, while at the same time assisting in a major restructuring, evaluation and critique of the Metropolitan Police, and is so far as anyone can tell, doing his level best to clean house and return the Department to a level equal to or surpassing the levels which once had the District police rated as one of the best in the Nation. The Post would be one of the first to point out that, after all, the problems have been "festering for decades" - surely it must be expected that any approach to diverting the runaway behemoth of a police force gone bad must be an approach involving a slow but continuous application of corrective thrusts. To make too many changes too rapidy would in effect be similar to dynamiting a tunnel to stop a runaway freight train. Sure, it'll stop the train - and any subsequent ones as well. It's better to simply pray that you've got a brakeman who'll actually stay on the train and keep leaning on the brakes. That takes a lot of bravery - personally, if I were the Chief, or that brakeman, I would have jumped off long ago.

I think that the Chief could make one decisive move and do it right now and this would quiet many of his more-vocal critics. He should, in my opinion, immediately go bother the shipping industry. There are these little handheld devices used by such shipping giants as FedEx, which can read (and some can generate) little barcode labels. I suggest that, silly as it may sound, that the chief FedEx the entire contents of the Evidence Storage facility across town. That way, he'll not only know what he's got, but how much it weighs, and if the seizure date is entered as the pick-up date, then at the end of the month FedEx could simply send out a bill, which would be a perfect little inventory sheet. They can put the case-number or the names of the accused in the "memo" field. How can this help? Well, no matter that you might have a 100 percent apprehension rate, in a due-process system of justice, you need to convict and to convict you've got to have evidence, and a good lawyer is going to question just how it is that you know that the evidence being displayed is in fact the evidence (allegedly) seized from the defendant. Moving quickly to prevent thousands of felony cases from being dismissed because evidence handling stinks - that'll do a lot to shore up confidence in the after-apprehension end of police work... and morale and hopefully behavior in the force can only improve when officers know that the evidence they seize will actually make it to court in legally-useful wise.

In other news, DCFRA Control Board Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer is coming up hard against the legal deadline mandated by the District Revitalization Act. "I assure you I will not let it drop," he's reportedly said - and this is one huge end-of-season game-ball he's carrying right now.

Most of the management consultants have submitted at least their draft reports on the state of the nine City Agencies and Departments which were given over to the aegis of the Control Board, with Mayor Marion Barry being largely removed from any real reigns of power. The consistent refrain in most of these reports are

Among other things, the Department of Regulatory Affairs, responsible for collection of taxes, licensing fees, inspecting public and private agencies - has left millions in fees and licenses go uncollected, starving the city for revenue; and also has been characterized as "incomprehensibly byzantine" in its organizational structure. It's also been characterized as "completely broken and a textbook example of bureaucratic collapse due to middle-management bloat and a paucity of actual workers".

The technical level in most District Agencies or Departments has been characterized as "weird iron", "technical dinosaurs", "as far from industry standard as one can get" and in fact the entire "system" cannot be characterized as a system. In general, the District governmental technical base is a bizarre hodgepodge of nonstandard systems that have almost no backup systems, and the system is considered so untrustworthy that whenever possible workers avoid it as useless. The reports have also confirmed that the City government has practically no contingency plans to deal with large-scale information-technology system collapse. It may be reliably surmised that the only thing preventing a systemic cascade-failure is the fact that most of the computers cannot "talk" to each other all that well. (I must of course mention that TJH Internet SP does offer consulting services for internet and intranet computing... and we've been expecting the District government info-systems to collapse for some time and have an idea of just what to do in case the District's moribund "weird iron" just plain up and dies. We even have a clear vision of what should be acquired now, and what future goals for District Government infosystems should be.)

At any rate, Chairman Brimmer has roughly until Thanksgiving to decide upon a plan of action and to begin to impliment it.

HUD Blocks Further Development Loans to District
$40 millions in loans "uncollectible" or illegal

See also some some background on the HUD block grants story.

16 October 1997
As the City of Washington spiralled downwards into administrative collapse over the last twenty years, one of the points upon which Mayor Marion Barry has consistently relied in his election campagns has been his reputation of funnelling money directly back into the community. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has for some years contributed large sums of money to various communities under a block-grants program, trusting that the local-level governments would better be able than would be a distant Federal agency, to appropriately direct these funds to those most in need. The block grants are intended primarily to assist in the construction of housing, and for development of low-income communities. Cities which receive block-grant monies are expected to invest these block grants into construction or development in a timely fashion, ideally with land acquisition or construction beginning almost immediately upon receipt. In no case is the money to be "rolled-over", directed into a "slush-fund" and used for other purposes than intended, and certainly it's not supposed to be simply "lost" due to administrative, managerial or bureaucratic malfeasance or incompetence - and in any case, there's supposed to be considerable documentation generated, allowing the HUD to ensure that the money has indeed gone where intended.

We are, however, discussing the District of Columbia. During the last few months, under increased authority granted by the District Revitalization Act, teams of management consultants have been empowered to enter the offices of Washington's troubled agencies, and search records, and begin the laborious process of trying to find out where the money went. Instead of anything remotely resembling a neatly-documented accounting of dollars, they've found, for the most part, no sense.

Washington DC is a city of unique contrasts. Washington has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the Western world, primarily due to the amazingly high reported incomes of the burgeoning legal and corporate community, as well as the salaries of top-level Federal officials. It is also, however, the home of some of the most grinding and hopeless urban poverty in the United States. A majority of the District's residents live very close to the edge, and Washington has for years had one of the highest percentages of persons receiving public assistance of one kind or another. In many cases, the deterioration of Washington's less-affluent neighborhoods, with the resultant crime and desperation spilling over into even the best of neighborhoods, can be seen as a failure of the Welfare State or as a "tragedy of the commons" wherein lies exposed the single most-glaring weakness of any Democracy: Once the people learn that they can vote themselves bread and circuses, and can vote universal access to the Treasury, as a rule they'll do it. That's what they did here in Washington, with the consistent re-elections of Marion Barry. But the "Failure of the Welfare Democracy" ordinarily will last only so long as it takes to exhaust the Treasury, and then it's time for a waking-up and some belt-tightening - but Washington, due to its unique position as the Nation's Capital, has always had a larger trough from which to feed once its own was licked clean - the Federal Government, as the redistribution-central of the vast American economy, was always there to shake down for a handout.

One of the main requirements of this classic "tragedy of the commons" exploitation of the weakness inherent in any true Democracy is the public perception that the treasury, once voted open, is indeed being distributed equally amongst the voters. Once it becomes clear that instead of a democratic redistribution of wealth is actually a Nepotistic or "kleptocratic" lining of pockets of various relatives, cronies and aides, the plebescite tends to vote against whoever it was who so hoodwinked them into digging the bottom out of each other's metaphorical pockets. And so the classic ploy is to make sure that the voters never find out... and the easiest way to accomplish this is to make sure there's nobody around who can competently document the gouging.

That was assuredly done, consultants' reports consistently say. So long as it was the local treasury, the administration was capable of rewriting the rules so that no documentation was required for a continued looting. However, when begging for a handout from Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam insists on knowing where the money went. Where did it go?

Nobody's quite sure, ultimately, where the money went. And so no more is to be forthcoming, until we know. "...[T]roubling issues about the District's compliance with applicable laws and regulations" remain a stumbling block to any further pouring of money down a rathole. However, most of the money has been, quite surprisingly, not poured down a rathole - instead, out of 950 cities, the District ranked 945th in expenditures of received HUD block-grants, and in fact had $55 millions in the bank. The annual block-grant received by the District is $23.8 millions. It appears that for at least two years, the District must have expended almost no HUD block-grant funds towards community development. It appears that despite continued voter loyalty towards one notorious for sharing out the treasury to all alike has been, that one has instead been letting the cash pile up. Certainly it hasn't been getting to those who most need it. Where did the money go? Insanely, mostly it's gone nowhere.

"...[I]t's all a management problem," said Sandra R. Manning, director of grants for DC Chief Financial Officer Anthony A. Williams, as reported by the Washington Post. "If they have a person over there with enough vision, you can do an awful lot with this grant. The need is there. The community would like to be more involved." But how much of this money has gone to the community? Really quite little. Instead, it's gone to some of these places:

At any rate, HUD has suspended all further block grant payments to the City of Washington. Among other things, they're reportedly anxiously awaiting the final reports of the management consulting and fact-finding teams who have, for months, been poring over what scanty and disorganized records can be found to document this egregious failure by City administrators to properly dispense Housing and Community Development funds graciously provided by the American taxpayer.

Consultants Reports are In! "Far Below Expectations"
"Gross Disrepair", "State of Collapse", "Literally Falling Apart"
Barry Shifts Blame to Historic Forces

All quotes are, of course, taken from the Washington Post.

17 October 1997
The final reports have yet to be issued, which will contain remedies and action-plans, but the preliminary reports have been issued. These are the reports from management and organizational consultants hired by the DCFRA Control Board, as mandated by the District Revitalization Act. Half of the battle is in identifying the enemy, and discerning his tactics, and most particularly ascertaining his weaknesses.

If the City of Washington was the enemy, say these reports, no attack is necessary. It's rotting from the inside out, and where collapse is not imminent, it has already occured.

Washington DC is beyond dysfunctional. It's a mess. It's a sad pathetic excuse for a city that has failed to fall apart and blow away like dust in the wind simply because almost everything is made of stone. But a city is not all of stone, it is comprised of varying systems, many of which are essentially living organisms.

Washington DC is simultaneously starving to death, bleeding to death, gangrenous and consumed with cancer.

It's starving because procurement systems are "in a state of collapse" - some 600 contracts are due to expire within three months, whih may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It will be sometime around Thanksgiving when the CDFRA Control Board is required by law to begin the Active Phase of the District Revitalization. Within the procurements sector, there has been almost no action other than a lot of kibitzing, say the reports, on most of these contracts, possibly due to the uncertainties as to authority to bind the city to payments schedules. These contracts are essential to keep the city in supplies ranging from heavy-equipment through fleet vehicles right down to office-supplies. Still undecided is what is to be done about the District Computerization Project - the District remains the most-uncomputerized city government of comparable size in the nation, and what computers it has are in general mismatched "weird iron". Also, the DCRA (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) has been consistently unable to collect fees and fines which could have, according to reports, added many millions of dollars to the City's revenue stream. Instead, management inefficiencies and a dearth of inspectors and unfulfilled collections procedures have shortchanged the City's coffers drastically. Another source of malnourishment for the City is mismanagement of Federal funding, to the point where various agencies simply will no longer pay anything to the District since the District is completely unable to demonstrate that those funds went where intended.

It's bleeding to death because, among other things, there is no effective regulatory presence. The DCRA has an outrageously old communications system, plagued by delapidated equipment which is, according to the reports, "literally falling apart" and which has almost no backup or repair equipment. Other sources of bleedout are City-wide failures to expand systems or purchase capital improvements, resulting in immense overtime payments. For instance, the City has only about half of the garbage trucks needed to cover the job, and must pay out overtime at a rate which precludes purchase of new trucks.

The City's gangrene, the ultimate rot, is evident in the City's water-supply, which has repeatedly tested positive for various microorganisms such as cryptosporidia and assorted other nastinesses, is simply unsafe. It may be stated that the water-supply and sanitation problems are the single issue most responsible for the initial creation of the Control Board and Congress' sudden renewal of interest in the City that surrounded the Federal Core. Even one of Washington's prides, its lovely urban street-forest, has become a public safety hazard with over 5000 large trees just waiting to topple over. There might be less of them to expect to contend with had this not been an extremely dry and storm-free summer; ordinarily, this area is hard hit with fierce summer thunderstorms. It may also be stated that this same lack of rain was also a blessing as regards the state of the City's storm-drain and sewage systems, which are also in a state of profound disrepair. On the positive side, more road-repair construction has begun in the last few months than was completed in the last decade.

And now for the cancer.

It has been well-known in and around the City for nearly two decades that this was not merely the Nation's Capital - no, no. This was something far more Important - this was BarryTown. This was a newly freed city, which had been released from a floundering Congressionally-controlled system, come recently into its own as a newly-birthed political hegemony. It is fairly clear that at the time of the first "Home Rule" administration (Mayor Walter Washington), Congress was not all that interested in setting things up fairly so that Washington had a chance to succeed as a City. Instead, a great many of the functions ordinarily left up to the State level of government were handed off to the City government. It is to the extreme credit of Marion Barry and others that the experiment was to any degree a success. Operating under a staggering unfunded-mandate requiring development of a pensions system, and laboring under the economic blight that pervaded so much of the last 20 years, Barry fought tirelessly to grab every last cent of the Federal dollar, and did his best to get it out into the community, and developed a reputation as a real go-getter when it came to attracting business and investment. However, it seems that he was able to do this so efficiently because he had a tightly-knit core of close friends and personal associates, all going back a very long ways, all of which enabled him to simply be The Boss and tell people what to do and they'd do it and it would be done, in record time, no muss no fuss.

However, this also meant that, as in almost any other new city, there was bound to be a bit of cronyism, which developed from a few shady deals done in backrooms, into a system where all promotions were political and more often than not a matter of your position within an extralegal political machine, rather than promotions based on merit. Add to this assorted laws requiring advantages to be given to those who were residents of the District, of certain parts of the District, or members of particular ethnic groups, and one finds, increasingly, District government became populated by those who best knew the Mayor and his Friends (and this has never been more blatant than in management) rather than by those who were the most diligent or productive. This only became more complicated by the fact that if one was sufficiently diligent as to find irregularities, eventually those irregularities tended to have originated by order of the Mayor. This was quite often seen as having crossed the Mayor, and one Became An Example. Thus was all incentive for diligence removed, and incentive for cronyism awarded.

The result? A huge segment of District government has arrived at their positions largely incompetitively, and largely incompetent. This is indeed a cancerous state since incompetent superiors cannot adequately train their subordinates and to top this off, incompetent superiors actively forestalled efforts of well-trained new-hires who were perceived by the managers as being out for their jobs. Outside training was often deemed as inadvisable, for similar reasons. And so the District's government settled into a slow decay and corruption as the untrained failed to train their successors, who feared to bring in fresh talent. The stage was set for a comedy of errors as the level of competence slid below that required for mere sustainance of operations. Decay had become an entrenched essential of the system.

Mayor Barry, yesterday, gave quite a different version of local history out to reporters. He left out all of the cronyism and machine-politics and in particular he left out the ideological strategic prime-goal which has driven the District into a state of disrepair and dysfunction not entirely different from that which characterized the regime of the late Mobuto Sese Seko of the former Zaire.

Despite the failings of the DCRA and the Department of Housing and Community Development, which have collectively cost the District upwards of $40 million in lost revenues, Mayor Barry blames the District's delapidated organizational infrastructure on Congressionally-mandated budget cuts. He does take "responsibility" for failures in management, but he has failed to acknowledge that those managers who failed did so, most probably, because as Barry supporters and close associates they had no fears for their jobs and were thus disincentived from developing competence over an ability to divert funds to questionable and speculative efforts which indeed acted as major cash infusions into the local economy, but which tended to dispense into purchases which left no real improvements nor other tangible assets. "Capital improvement" is evidently a phrase not widely known within the Barry Administration.

In other news, the District Medicaid recipients now have three more managed-cared providers from which to select, a DCFRA control Baord action has widened the field from four providers to seven.

The Poor Endangered
City Policies and Fiscal Irreponsibility Place Thousands at Risk of Homelessness
"The safety net is not there"

20 October 1997

Back in the 1980s, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon did a very good imitation of the Statue of Liberty, in essence welcoming the "tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free". She extended the beneficience of the government of the District of Columbia to the nation's homeless.

A great many took her up on that invitation.

Having arrived, they did find that some city systems had been enabled which would to some degree aid the homeless. Some of these systems were fairly effective, operated as they were by such persons as the late gadfly Mitch Snyder, who once underwent an extended and highly-publicized hunger-strike fast which very nearly killed him, as hunger has killed so many of the homeless, especially in the northern climes. Washington, which is known to many of the tramping homeless as a place where you won't freeze if you can get down to the Mall and acquire a place atop one of the vents which exhaust warmth from the subsurface steam-heating system that lies beneath much of the Monumental Core, has long attracted the more hardy of the tramps and the homeless. Certainly this is not the most photogenic of situations, and in a time of fiscal crisis and deepening public disrepute of the District, it's natural that the Powers That Be should be less-than-concerned about doing whatever they can to keep the homeless or near-homeless comfortable and thereby kept hanging around, ruining tourists' photo-opportunities.

But there is such a thing as human decency. I myself used to hold the homeless in a certain amount of suspicion, if not contempt, until I myself became homeless, a victim of economic circumstance and very little else. Once one has been cast into the streets, there are very few avenues which lead to a return to a more humane life, and almost all of those are dependent upon a fairly great degree of assistance from society. One of the best measures of the humanity, the humaneness, indeed the sanity of a society can be seen by how it deals with the least-fortunate, in particular how it deals with the homeless. Homelessness (to denude you of any romantic notions you might harbor, no doubt evoking images of the cowboy on the trail, or the rugged pioneers of the west) is a desperate and horrific condition for most who fall into it; a state and position where you have no position, where the days are endless drag-along nightmares of shuffling from one place to the next, cold and hungry or warm and hungry, where one of the most important things in your life is the thought of any escape, no matter how temporary or artificial, from the combination of rigour and boredom. Those are the days of the homeless... the nights can be indescribable, an enternal sleep-deprived nightmare when one knows not when some night predator ranging from a rat to something manlike, to mere disease or the creeping of hypothermia, may come upon you and take a toe or your scant belongings or your health or your life.

Homelessness can be overcome on one's own, but as a rule, this takes place only in rural settings, where sometimes people don't mind letting you camp in their field overnight and work the next day for honest wages, and maybe hire you on for the season if you do good work. In the cities, any potential rise from homelessness is utterly dependent upon society's efforts on your behalf, and in the cold and clammy stone streets of Washington, once the summer goes it's all society can do to keep the homeless more-or-less undiseased and fed enough so as to not starve under the high-caloric rigours of outside sleeping. And this refers just to the males, who are after all generally a little better at taking care of themselves - remember that something like 40 percent, nationwide, of homeless men are US Military Veterans, and they understand survival.

Providing housing for the homeless is problematic at best even in the best of economic times, but when one's dealing with women, children, expectant mothers - one must do what one can. Interestingly, quite often these are the least-problematic cases - women with children can be fairly-speedily moved to AFDC, Welfare, or other government supports - or they could be, until the deconstruction of Welfare began. Indeed, the pruning of the longterm Welfare cases may in the midterm future prove to be a major blessing in expediting the process of rescuing mothers and their young families from the terrors of the streets. One would hope that in the future, quick rescue from the streets would pass through a short stay on Welfare while recovery, training, and job-placement assistance were offered.

However, there is at present, at least here in Washington, an immense stormcloud looming upon the horizon of the encroaching winter that will assuredly arrive roughly November First of this year.

1 November 1997 is the day that some 2700 city-funded rent-subsidies will be eliminated. That's not all - it is possible that the DCFRA Control Board, along with Congress, will cut expenditures on homelessness-related fundings from $11.3 million to $4.3 million (according to, as always, the Washington Post). There is, according to one Patricia M. Fugere, of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a failure to see the "big picture". I couldn't agree more. The combination of the deconstruction of Welfare, recurrent cuts in budgets, and indeed the increasing public perception of all homeless as aggressive psychotic dope-fiends (if not perceived as dangerous rabid animals) - all combine into an increasingly-reality-based desperation. In the last two years in Washington, the emergency assistance program was eliminated along with general public-assistance programs. While (speaking as the formerly homeless) I do not precisely favor cash handouts to homeless persons, many emergency-assistance programs do not dispense cash but instead finance medical outreach programs, soup-kitchens and the like. I cannot guess how much money was saved on my behalf, for instance, by some kind soul spending five dollars on some antibiotic ointment, the liberal use of which has at least once probably saved me from gangrene and amputation at public expense. Retention and expansion of such medical-assistance programs fall under the category of "a stitch in time saves nine" and "take mind of the penny and the dollar will take care of itself".

Add to this recent-history downsizing of local government committment to direct assistance, the city has also consistently failed to make promised payments to private and charitable organizations which had taken over the formerly-misadministered homeless/working-poor outreach programs. It must be noted here that the city's mental-health programs are "dismal failures" (in the words of one Federal Judge), with a recent scandal concerning a Barry Crony who misappropriated most of the monies intended to reach the city's seriously-mentally-ill homeless - a great many homeless are mentally-ill, sometimes because of the incredible stresses associated with homelessness. It must be noted that in recent years, the city's St. Elizabeth's Hospital has fallen into deplorable disrepair and should probably be shut down if there were alternative facilities - and every spring, they have tended to grossly overmedicate their more-serious cases and dump them at the nearest bus-station with a pocket full of food stamps and a free bus pass.

Now they're not even going to get the bus pass, funding is not forthcoming and in any case would be better spent on new "continuum of care" facilities - a proven and humane system for extending outreach to the non-mad homeless as well.

Henry G. Cisneros once approved a $20-million grant to the District to help fight homelessness - and no doubt the District misspent it. The records aren't clear but that's no surprise. The District has demonstrated a clear pattern of begging money for the most-outstandingly-worthy of causes such as housing for the poor, urban development, aid to the homeless, and caretaking of the mentally-ill, - and then the money gets farmed off the questionable outfits run by long-time Barry Cronies, or worse, simply disappears into the gaping black-hole of District managerial incompetence.

The Control Board claims that there is only roughly $4.3 millions available to the homeless.

I have an alternate proposal.

In accordance with Mainstream Republican thought, which is ideologically-committed to privatization of government functions wherever possible, and a shifting of support of the disadvantaged from government to charity, I propose that rather than through overhaste essentially doom the transition from Welfare to self-sufficiency, that the Department of Housing and Urban Development should consider Community Development grants to well-organized and proven organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Other Federal agencies which have any grants money should also consider such assistance. As the Federal government is, as part of the District Revitalization Act, committed to an increasing Federal assumption of the roles ordinarily relegated from city-level to State-level organizations (such as prisons, Medicare, etc), the Federal government should increasingly involve itself in the plight of society's least fortunate, and moreso because the City has demonstrated that it is increasingly unable to usefully fulfill the role of caretaker to the desperate.

Other organizations which might be targeted for Federal assistance in-lieu of the City's ability to usefully assist would include Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, the Salvation Army, and the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. It must be noted that many of these organizations are organized locally, but have national or international scope and share a great many resources, not the least of which are their experienced staffers and combined decades of faithful service - and the ability to move mountains on a shoestring budget. Contrast this with the proven ineptitude of the District's antipoverty programs, and the decision is clear.

Responsibility for the most-desperate in Washington, DC must be shifted away from inept local mismanagement, and community-based private and interfaith charitable and beneficient organizations should be - and speeedily! - empowered and cash-infused by the relevant Federal agencies.

Please also see The Society's Careening Wreckage Page, which has both local and national resources dealing with homelessness and poverty issues. While far from comprehensive, still it has many links to good starting points which can take you to a variety of interesting facts, figures, and ideas. And please keep in mind that the mechanisms you empower today may one day be needed by you. So take care of your less-fortunate brethren, and they may one day be able to take care of you should fortune one day no longer smile upon you.

"It's Not Happening in DC"
Specialists Believe District Police Culture and Leadership To Blame

21 October 1997
Criminology Professor Lawrence W. Sherman (University of Maryland) implies that it's pretty unlikely that anyone elevated from within the troubled Washington Metropolitan Police Department could conceivably change the culture of that department. The
Washington Post quotes him as saying, "Chief Soulsby is a lifelong product of a department that needs a massive cultural and administrative change .... that's a lot to ask of anyone."

Nobody doubts that the Chief has the best intentions, and all evidence clearly shows that he is moving as best he can towards cleaning up the Department. But in the last few weeks, public confidence in the police has fallen to an all-time low, as repeated revelations of inadequacy have surfaced. The average citizen's perception of the police is coming to almost-perfectly mirror the perceptions of the criminal classes who have for so long turned the streets and alleyways of Washington into their own personal feifdoms. The perception? that the cops are bumbling untrained incompetents impersonating police officers.

Actually, this is unfair. However, specialists from across the Nation do recognize that the District's education-requirements for police recruits are more appropriate to rural areas than to any city of any size, and most express concern that this low level of education is particularly and shockingly inappropriate to the department policing the Nation's Capital. There are also concerns regarding the level of training after hiring, a level of training which might be an appropriate refresher-course for someone who has already acquired a specialized degree in law-enforcement. It's probably not sufficient as a primary education in the intricacies of modern police work. While the majority of modern crime has indeed progressed little beyond the traditional modes of theft and assault which go all of the way back to our simian ancestors, increasingly, police must be expected to readily deal with levels of technology and sophisticated techniques which might range far outside the educations or experiences of high-school graduates. For instance, it has been noted elsewhere that local organized crime operations in particular are moving to levels of sophistication formerly reserved to the shadowy world of international organized crime, and international organized crime, increasingly pervasive in this intensely-cosmopolitan city, is moving to levels of sophistication formerly exercised only by the militaries and intelligence agencies of rival superpowers. Indeed, FBI director Freeh has noted the increasing presence within the Russian Mafia of former soviet intelligence and academic personnel - and the Metro PD is simply not equipped to deal with opposition of this caliber.

In fact, they don't seem to be equipped to deal with simple repeat-burglaries, and reponse time to many crimes is so lagged that there's almost no point in calling a cop unless there's one right there.

The response-time problem can be dealt with, as new vehicles and equipment-upgrades come on-line, and the repeat-burglaries can be dealt with as more officers are moved from non-productive inside jobs, into beat and patrol work.

It will, however, take radical changes in recruiting to begin adding to the force those who will have the educations and specialties required to deal with the increasingly arcane world of evolving criminal specialties. It has been noted that the Metro PD may even have too many officers already - how can more recruits be justified? Simple - they're needed, and room must be made for them.

Chief Soulsby has been making all of the right moves in his recent house-cleanings, but it may not be enough to fire even large parts of the force.

It may be necessary to dismiss almost the entire Metropolitan Washington Police Department, or at least a very substantial portion of it.

This is, it seems, less of an organizational problem than it is a cultural problem.

It has been known for a long long time that if you wanted to get ahead in the Metro PD, as in any city agency, you had best not step on the toes of Mayor Marion Barry, nor on the toes of any of his associates. Nearly twenty years of increasingly pervasive cronyism and nepotism had (by the time Congress and the DCFRA Control Board removed the Metro PD from Mayor Barry's direction and control) left almost no aspect of the City untouched. It appears that this included a lot of street-level crimes as well. Certainly, one must question how it is that for months before his televised arrest for cocaine, Mayor Barry travelled constantly in the company of assorted highrollers, "gangstas" and dealers and insofar as can be determined, none of them was arrested. It's not as if nobody knew - it was common knowledge that Mayor Barry was out of control - instead it seems that the Department's "go along, get along" attitude caused all involved to pointedly ignore the obvious strategy of back-trailing the Mayor's suppliers - an investigative ploy which would have been unique to this city, and which at the time could most probably have made for extreme interruptions in the region's cocaine trade, at a time when such interruptions might have made a sustainable difference.

Such cultural "ideals" as "go along, get along" not only precluded much whistleblowing, even in cases such as Marion Barry's associates' deep involvement with the local cocaine trade, but also precluded a great many other investigations, for similar reasons. Washington is such a nosy little town where everyone knows everyone else's business, it seems reasonable to assume that outside of crimes-of-opportunity or of passion, there may be very few criminal acts occurring in this city that don't involve someone somewhere "going along" in order to "get along" with whoever is getting paid to look the other way, or for that matter to simply stay employed within the MPD.

Since Marion Barry was cut out of the loop, the officers on the street reportedly have had a great increase in morale - they have less worries about doing their jobs and finding out later that their careers have been ruined by having inadvertently stepped on the toes of some shady operation being conducted by someone who has access to the Mayor. But it's not enough. Still, they must probably worry about stepping on the toes of someone who got where they are by covering for the Mayor - and those persons must be considerably concerned about covering up their own misconduct, whether sins of omission or sins of commission.

Experts recommend:

In any city where cronyism is so entrenched, it would also probably make a great deal of sense to completely discard any requirements that officers live in the District, and in fact, it might make a great deal of sense, at least for the forseeable future, to do what most of the other police forces in the Federal Enclave do - hire almost exclusively from anyplace but the District.

HUD Relents - or Does It?
$20 Million Redevelopment Grant Issued to Receiver

22 October 1997
The US
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the District of Columbia have been "on the outs" of late - and small wonder. What has been happening in the District of Columbia for the last decade or so might be Urban, but it's hardly been what anyone with any sense would call Development.

Some history - in 1990, the HUD suspended DC economic development funds due to inadequate management and tracking of some $38 million in block-grants. On 16 October of this year they did the same, citing managerial problems and accounting irregularities. It has also been noted that the District ranked close to last, amongst nearly a thousand cities nationwide, in expenditures of block-grants received. All block grants to the troubled District government were suspended.

It's sad that a city so desperately in need of Urban Development has allowed millions in aid to remain unimplimented, and there's no doubt that HUD really would like to see successes in some of its flagship programs, such as the Urban Empowerment Zones Partnership Act of 1997 and other Community and Economic Development programs. But what is HUD to do, when it's become evident over the years that you can give money to the District government, but it does not go where it's most needed?

In the summer of 1995, a receiver was appointed to the troubled District Housing Authority. A lifetime specialist in public housing, David Gilmore has had a string of successes in such diverse and similarly-troubled Public Housing venues as Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle. Yesterday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development evidently remembered that Mr. Gilmore has an outstanding track record and is located in the District.

The Washington Post reports that the DC Housing Authority recievership has been awarded $20 million to demolish and rebuild the Valley Green and Skytower housing projects. These two projects have been for years touted as emblematic of the failures of Democratic Party policies derived from the well-intentioned but thoroughly-discredited Johnson Administration's "Great Society" vision. They became festering ill-maintained hellholes of entrenched Welfare culture, poverty, crime and dispair, and ultimately became largely abandoned, infested only by rats ond other unseemly denizens of decay.

They will be razed completely, and redeveloped.

The District Housing Authority under the administration of the Gilmore receivership, in cooperation with the Enterprise Foundation (a Columbia-Maryland-based nationally-reknowned non-profit organization) intends to rebuild the area from a true urban wasteland into a modern development with some 130 single-family homes and a similar number of rental units.

It must be noted that the Enterprise Foundation was a brain-child of noted Howard County Maryland real-estate developer, the late James W. Rouse, who was largely responsible for the highly-acclaimed planned community of Columbia Maryland. Mr. Rouse was presented the Presedential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, who said of Mr. Rouse and his efforts at community development, "if every American developer had done what James Rouse has done with his life, we would have lower crime rates, fewer gangs, less drugs. Our children would have a better future. Our cities would be delightful places to live. We would not walk in fear, we would walk in pride down the streets of our cities, just as we still can in the small towns in America."

One can only hope that this project is a success. Similar efforts nationwide have proven the practicality of reclaiming formerly-hopeless public housing, with consequent development of decent, affordable housing for the Urban Working-Poor.

We might also hope that the Federal government, in its effort to revitalize the District will continue to find ways to circumvent the disorganized and wasteful Barry Cronies Administration, and deliver aid directly to the communities which are so desparate for a rescue. The developments cited above are a perfect example of how to do an end-run around the bloated parasite of District management, to deliver the goods to where it's needed: the residents of the District of Columbia.

Infrastructure Management At Near-Standstill
Management Performance Untracked, Managers Have Little Authority, Skilled Workers in Short Supply, Inadequate Training Programs
A Primarily-Engineering/Technical Agency with Almost No Computers

25 October 1997
At long last the
DCFRA Control Board has started web-mounting Reports created by management-consultant firms. The first Report, on the state of the Design, Engineering & Construction Management Administration (DECA), assesses an agency that is better-off than most District agencies, due to a great deal of Federal assistance and funding, which has largely translated to capital assets necessary to doing their job, which is largely maintenance of the physical facilities and infrastructure of the City of Washington.

However, the report notes that "the most critical issue in DECA - and perhaps in other parts of DPW [Department of Public Works] - is the lack of experienced management staff, skilled workers, and a culture accustomed to success as a respected public agency. Re-structuring alone will not correct these problems." [bracketed words mine.] Crippled by a lack of managerial authorization ability (they appear to be in place primarily as figureheads and blame-takers), the agency has over the years experienced a brain-drain, a shortage of graduate engineers, technical staff, and workers with good communications skills. This is compounded by the lack of managerial authority to acquire staff; the report notes: "At present, managers are not even sure whether they may recruit to fill existing vacancies."

The Report notes that while the present staff shortages, particularly in the technical areas, are acute, over the one-year horizon, disaster looms. At least 80 people will be needed, as a great many of the senior staff are rapidly approaching retirement - indeed, many are beyond retirement and could retire immediately. The need for rapid staffing becomes even more evident, since there appears to be no training within the Agency, other than on-the-job-training. Also, pay increases will be needed, as will an increase in the authority of the managers to hire and to fire. The Report notes that it is apparently nearly impossible to discipline workers for poor performance or misbehavior.

The Report further notes that many managers have deferred retirement so as to not leave the City in the lurch, and notes that resignations of a few certain key personnel could "decimate" the Agency. I must add that it's quite apparent that in this particular agency, there is a mission-defined need for very high quality staff with the best available educations and experience. This is the agency that makes the city work, that places buildings, bridges, roads, other large engineered structures such as water supplies and sanitary ductworks, and in fact insofar as almost everything outside of people is concerned, this agency is the City - at least it is all of the things that make a city a city, instead of an unsanitary collection of hovels in the woods.

Insofar as regards project-tracking, or tracking of resources allocations, this may be one of the best-run agencies in the District - one expects engineers to generate a fair amount of documentation. The Report emits a tone of tongue-in-cheek respect as well as surprise that any District agency has done anything right in this regard.

However, insanely, the Bureau of Building and Construction Services divisions Design & Engineering Division and the Construction Management Division were directly budgeted only four-thousand dollars for the last two years. Supplies for absolutely-essential equipment has not been forthcoming. It is also noted that while technology is available, the OITS (presumably Office of Information Technology Services) prohibits use of equipment until they've trained users, and training has not been provided. Therefor, expensive cutting-edge technology (often contributed gratis by Federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation) sits gathering dust. Repairs are performed by the staff in many cases, as OITS has not allocated sufficiently for repairs. Also, due to the madly-low budget, essential engineering references cannot be obtained - the subscription to the references exceed the entire direct budget for these divisions.

The Agency's lack of modern computers is, as described, appalling as this is possibly the most technically-advanced (or at least possessed of sciences-graduates staffers) in the District government. They have no Internet connectivity. They have computers they are not permitted to turn on, and even those are far behind the edge of technological deployment into the average American home. Most of the computers available were essentially left behind by contractors, evidently because they felt sorry for the engineers.

This sorry state of affairs so upset me that if someone wants to donate a fairly-modern computer to these guys, and pay for an internet-service account (about $50 or so), Earth Operations Central and TJH Internet SP will be pleased to do a first-class Linux Installation and System Setup at no charge, up to eight hours worth. I'd like to see the look on one of these engineer's face when he has a full-blown UNIX - X-Windows Internet host in the office - all the payment I'd need to get him set up and started. Most of the software he'll ever need is free from the internet, and can be found via my Computing MetaIndex Page. Interested parties may send mail.

Other News
Employment Services Director Resigns | AIDS Patients May Be Evicted

Earlier this year, the US Department of Labor ranked the District's Department of Employment Services as last in the nation. That's terrible. It's particularly terrible in a city with such a huge proportion of residents who are being moved off of Welfare rolls into the workforce. It's difficult to make it in the world without a good education (hard to afford when on Welfare) or useful job-specific training. As Welfare is shut down, lots of people are going to find themselves in a very bad place unless they get trained and get trained fairly quickly. That's the responsibility of the Department of Employment Services, and they've been under a great deal of criticism for quite some time now.

But so far this year, despite problems with a questionable cost-shifting of $7.3 million of job-training funds to administrative costs, it's gotten better in the last year, under the direction of F. Alexis Roberson, a long-time District manager. How improved was it? DCFRA Control Board Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "I would single out the improvements in the Job Training Partnership Act programs, which reported an increase of 59 percent in job placements under your leadership and a reduction of the cost per entered employee from $17,000 to $7,000 per perticipant.

Not a bad start! But yesterday, Ms Roberson resigned. She has chosen to work in the private sector, and did not elaborate upon her new position. The interim director is expected to be longtime city employee Carolyn G. Jones.

We can only hope that she will continue to improve the agency, of which her predecessor says, "The good health of Employment Services is vital to the revitalization of our city and its people."

In other news, the horrific mismanagement of US Department of Housing and Urban Development Block-Grants and subsequent Federal shutdown of funding continues to rain an awesome fallout across the District's disabled, the disadvantaged, the homeless, and the mentally ill.

This is, to quote Kathryn Stephens of Building Futures, which assists persons with HIV/AIDS, ".... a grants-management issue, not a question of the money not being there."

This time, the grants-management meltdown appears to be scheduled to put close to fifty persons with advanced cases AIDS out of their homes. It's already left a consortium of local AIDS-services providers a half-million in debt and facing cutbacks and staff layoffs. Remember, if there's one class of people who can least risk being put out on the streets at the start of winter, it's AIDS patients. Will District mismanagement and procedural sloth essentially sentence nearly fifty people to death? We'll see. The money's there, remember. It just needs a little bit of competence to get it where it has to go.

A Question of Strategy in Public Housing
The New Segregation - Rights or Wrong?
Can Criminals be Excluded from Public Housing?

28 October 1997
First the facts, as reported in the
Washington Post. Then the politicking. Then Other News.

On 22 October 1997 we covered developments wherein the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), rather than paying out block-grants for Community Development to the District government, instead paid out $20 millions to to the District Housing Authority, presently in receivership under the control of court-appointed David Gilmore. He has allocated this money to raze and rebuild the blighted and crime-plagued Valley Green and Skytower projects. We agree that this is a needful and appropriate step in the reclamation of this public property, which is expected to eventually become a showcase project. But of course, one may ask, how is this to be prevented from being a mere repeat of the failures in policy, however well-intentioned, which paved the road to these projects having become one of Washington's very own little slices of Hell?

Mr. Gilmore believes that he has the answer.

In keeping with a vision of social change which promotes a targeted advancement of the working-poor instead of a mere housing-of-the-homeless without any useful social programs promoting increasing self-sufficiency, Mr. Gilmore has decided that fifty-percent of all vacancies in public housing should be reserved for the working-poor. Only five percent of the units would be reserved for the homeless, and the remainder would be reserved for non-working families.

At present, only some 13 percent of the nearly 10,000 persons housed in the District at public expense have any earned income.

Mr. Gilmore has another idea, though, besides promoting the working-poor to (or beyond) housing-opportunity parity with the homeless.

Mr. Gilmore would like to do criminal background checks on potential tenants of public housing. He is quoted by the Post as saying: "There [is] no screening beyond income eligibility .... and that's a disastrous policy for any housing authority. It says, 'hey guys, line up at the door, this is the housing of the last resport, we don't care what you do with it'". He also reportedly finds "no philosophocal problem whatsoever" with barring those with criminal convictions of violent offenses from public housing. This would be to some degree backed up with the present Federal policy of Zero-Tolerance for drug offenses in public housing facilities.

Gilmore does note that this is a fundamental change in agency policy, and that this is a matter of great sensitivity. Quite predictably, this has raised a storm of controversy amid flurries of misunderstanding. Homeless-Advocates predictably are upset at this direct political shift in ideology in a City agency, away from provision of shelter for the homeless (dating back to the days of Mitch Snyder and then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly) - where recently the only shift away from the aiding the homeless had been a failure of the City to allocate much in the way of funds, which failure has led to, among other things, profound risks for AIDS victims and also to HUD rating the District as last in the nation for expenditures on community development.

Some of the misconceptions regarding the policy shift include the misperception that all persons with any criminal records whatsoever would be barred from public housing, or would be squeezed out if preference was given to those with the "cleanest" criminal records. This policy is actually intended to simply remove a public-policy requirement that places honest-but-poor families at risk by forcing them to live with violent predators in their midst.

Now for pure opinion...

But first, you should perhaps read this. It's something I wrote, thinking at the time that it was a revolted satire on what could happen if the Contract With America was actually enacted. I'm less sure now... I may have written a fairly useful strategy. If you ignore the satire, it's a very straightforward piece of mainstream Republican thought. You don't have to read the whole thing - but you never know, you might want to read it all.

The problem I have with this proposal, and any similar ones, is this: in many respects, it's segregation, pure and simple. I don't think that it's particularly racist, though there will be those who disagree, probably based on very standard arguments revolving around higher conviction rates for blacks, disproportionate penalties for drug possession and drug dealing by blacks or hispanics versus penalties actually applied to whites, and some of those arguments may well be valid but I cannot include that in the scope of this argument regarding a housing agency which deals, in a black-majority city, almost exclusively with a black majority. Thus this becomes no issue of race, but rather of criminal versus law-abiding.

Thus, one asks: is it segregation to pre-emptively separate the convicted violent criminals from the law-abiding? Clearly, it's segregation - but that's the whole point of prisons and jails, to segregate the dangerous from the rest of society. There's clearly no point in taking people who are struggling to simply survive, and forcing them to live with people who should probably be in jail. That's essentially the same as taking people whose only crime is poverty, and locking them up in the same cellblock with the violent offenders. There's no sense in that.

Also, one asks: is it segregation to pre-emptively separate the non-violent offenders from the law-abiding? Clearly it's segregation - but in this case I cannot accept any argument that this is proper in any way, provided that the non-violent have "paid their debt to society". Misdemeanants who might have stolen out of desperation needn't be considered as risks to those who themselves would probably do the same thing in the same circumstances. One point of public housing is to attempt to ensure that this point of desperation is never reached - or at least not reached because of a lack of housing.

But what will become of those who are predisposed to violence if they are placed into a situation of increasing desperation, due to these policies? Any cop or social worker will tell you that as desperation increases, so does the likelihood of desperate acts. But our prisons and jails are full to overflowing and beyond - what then are we to do?

More importantly, what of those whose violent acts were indeed more the result of desperation than of some indwelling fault or predisposition? At one time, when someone served their time, they were no longer a convict, but an ex-convict. Though they might no longer have their right to vote, nor to carry arms, they were not considered as being a separate legal species. Once time was served, and the debt to society paid, they were once again presumed innocent until again convicted in a court of law. I argue that while it's no longer sufficient to simply toss someone out of prison with ten dollars and a new suit, it's also not useful to simply toss them out of prison without the ten dollars and suit, and leave them no place to go except back to crime - which might be the ultimate result of these policies announced by Mr. Gilmore. With the increasing prevalence of Three-Strikes Laws and the burgeoning prison population, it's essential that any jurisdiction, and in particular the District, should have a greatly-extended Halfway-House system in place.

Clearly, however, nobody would want public housing exclusively reserved for those convicted of violent crimes to be established in their neighborhood. Running people out of town is also no option, that only moves the problem down the road and pretty soon, down-the-road is running them out of their town and right back into your town. One might postulate the emergence of rural housing camps where felony ex-convicts might be housed at public expense, perhaps with associated industrial facilities to provide employment, but that smacks of Chinese forced-labor gulags and this might be essentially un-American. No matter how appealing might be the prospect of crime-free cities, this should not be paid for by erosion of the civil liberties, not even such civil liberties as might devolve to violent-felony ex-convicts.

With all of the above taken into consideration, one must also consider the opposite side of the coin - with the Deconstruction of Welfare, one will see a clear need to do absolutely all that is possible to aid those who move from the status of Welfare Recipients to the status of Working Poor. Therefor, we must reluctantly give our support to this measure - but with strong reservations over the lack of provision for remediation of housing for the ex-convicts, which issue must be addressed if we are not to leave no alternatives to a return to crime. But mark my words... though you might eventually house every deserving person, if you put all of your animals out on the streets, believe you this: that's where you'll run into them when it will do you the most harm.

Other News

In our last report, we noted that sloth in processing of paperwork needed to access a pre-allocated block-grant necessary to the support of AIDS patients in the District had left those patients at extreme risk to their lives and such health as remains to them, and also creting a risk of potential collapse of the organizations which exist to serve such persons.

The head of the agency responsible, Melvin H. Wilson of the DC Agency for HIV/AIDS, has been reassigned from that position to another, unknown, position within the Department of Public Health. A nationwide search for a replacement will be conducted, and in the interim the acting director will be Chukwudi Saunders.

The agency has for some years had a reputation for "sluggishness". Washington DC had, at one time, the dubious distinction of being the first American city where HIV was spread primarily through heterosexual contact, largely through interactions with the city's large prostitution industry, where it was noted that in 1991, something like 96 percent of all prostitutes who were tested indicated positive for HIV.

Other Other News

Washington's school system continues to be a battleground between the need to keep the schools open and provide an education for the City's children, and the need to keep them safe while they're being educated. Recurrent fire-code violations have had one school after another shut-down and re-opened. The schools opened late, and despite massive efforts to comply with the fire code, it's become apparent that fixing the physical facilities of the District's schools might well be a task approaching impossible, or at least it may be nearly impossible to have everything running smoothly during this school year.

More DCFRA Management Consultants' Reports On-Line!

If your browser has JavaScript, you should have seen the new PopWindow with links to the DCFRA Management Consultants' Reports. If you don't have Javascript, you can try here or here to retreive them for yourself. Otherwise, just use the PopWindow ToolBar_Meta (tm, yours truly) to call up a PopWindow with the report!

Putting Out Fires with Gasoline
Crisis-Reaction Management Precludes Strategic Vision
A city un-connected - nervous system degenerating - "point of collapse"

30 October 1997
There is a classic saying: "That which is well-conceived is well-articulated". Judging from their reported inability to articulate a mission vision strategy, or articulate a mission, or a vision, or strategy, it seems clear that the District's beleagured Office of Information and Telecommunication Systems (OITS) has no conception of what they're supposed to be doing.

What they are doing is "fighting the biggest fires". Despite a clear and pressing need for even such elementary services such as e-mail, rather than install the unused computers which sit depreciating in storerooms, the staff is moving from one minor calamity after the other. It's not surprising that this is the case; after all, there are a mere 25 or so staff to serve the entire Department of Public Works. As if this were not bad-enough, according to the management consultant's report on the OITS "staff are not adequately trained and/or qualified to perform the tasks required", and due to recurrent budget cuts, the agency is understaffed - again, there are a mere 25 or so workers where probably there should be a full-time staff of roughly 75 to 90 persons, all ideally experienced or well-trained self-starters who can anticipate developments before they find themselves trying, like the legendary King Canute, to turn back the tide by decree - or worse, trying to "plug the dike with their thumb" as the entire sea-wall washes about them.

To increase your awareness of the level of dysfunction in this agency, let me quote from the report, regarding some of the absolute basics of any information network such as needs-assessments, systems security, system monitoring, technology procurement or disaster recovery : "...none of the above mentioned processes are documented, further, it does not appear that any 'informal' processes exists." In short, it appears that "Chicken Little" is running around with her head cut off, yelling that the sky is falling and not only does everyone believe her, it's "old hat" and they've not only heard it all before - but they're used to it and possibly have no clear idea of the levels of useful dataprocessing and InterNetWorking they've "missed out on". To continue the quote from the consultants' report: "Through the interview process with OITS staff, it was discovered that the whole issue of disaster recovery has never been given any thought or consideration. While even the most advanced information technology organization might lack one of these processes, it is unusual that an organization of this size would have no work processes in place." The report notes that the managers who should be herding processes and strategizing are instead out in the trenches doing repairs. As well they might be! Most of the PCs are 286-series CPU devices, outmoded by anyone's standards, barely fetching $300 in thrift stores in the area. Almost none even have Windows. Managers throughout the Department of Public Works must do their work at home on their personal computers, because the OITS machinery is insufficiently advanced... or worse, the machinery is there but nobody is authorized to use it, and the authorization authority is either lacking or subject to arcane regulation which effectively hamstrings even (or particularly) self-teachers. It might be safely-said that initiative has been effectively quashed under the present mismanagement. That must change. All of the service and upgrade contracts have been allowed to lapse... and with only two years until Year 2000, the agency has taken almost no heed to the fact that all of their equipment and software will essentially be inoperable at that date. We have a lot of work to do and, to quote "Snuffy Smith", "Time's a-wastin'!"

The Office of Information and Telecommunication Systems lacks and vision, mission, or strategy. I will be happy to provide one, at no cost - " We will, for the benefit of our Nation's Capital but more particularly for the benefit of the residents thereof, fix things our own-selves and do it right, for free and on our own time if need be. 'We can do.'"

I got your mission vision strategy Right Here.

A Vision for the DC Office of Information and Telecommunication Systems
Strategies to "Make It Work"

The mission of the District of Columbia's Office of Information and Telecommunications Systems (OITS) should be nicely expressed in only three words: "Make It Work".

Here's how we can do that, front to back. I can start tomorrow, with our fee for the first system-install being immunity from parking tickets, a paid-for lunch at the fast-food restaurant of my choice, fifty American dollars, and complete anonymity insofar as is practicable. Further consultancies may be had "on the cheap". Why? "Because we care".

Phase One: Meltdown Prevention

At this point, this office now has a computer that is connected to the Internet by a very fast high-capacity line. All authorized users can access this computer via dial-in modem or through the Internet via 'telnet', 'rlogin', or 'ssh' encrypted connection. Many authorized users can access this system via their connections through the LAN. This will back up the existing WAN. The Linux Host can serve webpages, perform mass-mailings to citizens with Internet access, distribute files, permit document creation or revision, etc. Note that even antiquated 286-processor machines can access the Linux Host through ordinary dial-out modem in the same way that they could call BBSes. No new software should be needed.

Repeat as necessary.

Phase Two: Bypassing the Present, Anticipating the Future

Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation. Pentium is a trademark of Intel Corporation. AMD is American Micro Devices. Network Computing may be a trademark of Oracle Corporation. "Ubiquitous Computing" is a concept by Mark Weiser of PARC Xerox. Apple, Newton, and Messagepad are trademarks of Apple Computers. Beltcom is a trademark of TJH Internet SP.

This page and any visions, strategies, or mission-concept formulations expressed herein are the intellectual property of TJH Internet Sole Propriety, Earth Operations Central, and are copyright (copr) all rights reserved as of 30 October 1997. 'whois' ?

2 November 1997
Okay, "dadgummit" I am mad.

And your "sarcasm detector" should be blinking very brightly and rapidly, nay, ferociously.

I do appreciate mad, I have to say. Sometimes people might be walking down the street and some guy will be up on his soapbox "raisin' Cain". And sometimes the average passerby is quite properly confused as to the particulars of the rant of the person who is up on that soapbox "testifyin'".

But I have to say, when it's Courtland Milloy up there preachin' if it's Sunday or not, once he gets on a roll he's takin' 'em back to school.

Please read his piece Unblinking in Her Duty to Children. The estimable Mr. Malloy not only kicks butt but takes names and is not ashamed to be rather truly harsh as he so does.

Yes indeed. This is Mr. Malloy's piece on the ongoing battle between "Parents United" v. Marion Barry et. al., the court battle that caused a late-opening of the District's schools, and has had shools opening and closing and has had students bussed pell-mell and even willy-nilly all over town, including situations where they were bussed to some of the more "high-rent" hotels in town in search of a safe-haven and vacant room in which to be educated. I can only hope that in all of their travels the students are actually learning something- even if only what sort of incompetent to not vote for when they themselves are worried parents concerned for the safety of their children.

Look-ye here folks - here is testimony from a fire-inspector who has watched children traipsing carefully around exposed electrical wiring lying in puddles of water in their schools' halls. And parents are upset that their days are disrupted because they must see their children off to alternative locations? Believe me Mom and Dad - your day's going to be a lot more disrupted if your baby steps on two-twenty-volts AC and does the electric watusi across the ceiling slightly before catching fire and exploding, film at eleven. You want to be mad at a judge who's trying to remedy the totally-outrageous sloth and inattention which has allowed some District schools to become death-traps that are survived only by teaching your children how to not-only dodge the land-mines but to take it in stride? Well, no doubt you want the kids who'll inevitably grow up to be the Secret Defenders of Washington to have the capability, but do you think they need this training in the third grade?

Judge Kaye K. Christian doesn't seem to think so.

Her Honor is slightly mocked in this article, as Mr. Malloy notes that she goes "blink blink blink" (as in staring in total disbelief) when she hears about children doing the long-jump over the electric-death-puddle in hall 4-A, or having to keep an eye out for the dreaded "surprise-exploding-saturated-ceiling-lightfixture"... sure, she doubtless says, this is after all the District of Columbia, and we have to make sure our kids are ready for anything.

But should it be the schools who are trying to get the kids killed? Sure, only the strong survive - or maybe only the lucky. Why close the schools, Your Honor? Well, besides the obvious little calamities just waiting to happen that "God knows why they ain't kilt nobody yet."

Mr. Malloy notes, and I will surely second him this notion, ".... as a spectator in her courtroom, I have seen her do something so rare among District officials that there is little wonder that her actions have come across to many as shocking. She is holding people accountable for their actions and, in doing so, perhaps waking them - and hopfully the rest of us - from a decades-long stupor that allowed this mess to happen in the first place."

Keep it coming Mr. Malloy! My hat's off to ya.

Hmmm, seems like this is actually having some slight effect on events.
Could Things Be Coming Together At Last?
What's the Hold-Up?

School-Safety Suit Settled - Murders Down, More Cases Closed
DCFRA Control Board Reaching Implimentation Phase, but Congress Lags Funding

4 November 1997
Crime is down in Washington, reaching towards a ten-year low. More importantly, since the dismissal of 17 Homicide Division detectives on 17 September 1997, and reassignment of top positions within that department, homicides are down and closure is higher. Though a mere 41 percent closure rate is far from satisfactory (New York's closure rate approaches 90 percent, and nationally the rate is roughly 65 percent) this is seen as a sign of radical improvement within the Division.

First and foremost among the changes cited by detectives, is the new spirit of internal cooperation. Formerly, it seems that a fairly large percentage of the detective staff was primarily interested in padding their paychecks by hanging out at various courtrooms and overbilling the payroll office. Those officers are now gone, reassigned elsewhere, and the message that was delivered earlier this year by Police Chief Larry Soulsby, more-or-less "Slackers Will Get Fired", seems to be heard and understood.

Also, there has been a massive influx of Federal assistance, both in terms of money and in manpower, as nearly fifty top-flight Federal agents have been assigned to the city. More importantly, the higher-ranking detectives are consistently showing up at each and every murder scene, and taking a personal interest. Infighting and territoriality between detectives is also said to be markedly reduced and this increased cooperation and force-wide involvement is indicated one of the key factors in the increased closure rate. It is hoped that as the public confidence increases along with police morale, resulting from an increasing solution rate to the most violent crimes, the public may begin to better assist the detectives, whose main present concern and impairment to performance is the public's perception that they are unable to solve crimes, and thus could not conceivably protect those who might come forward as desperately-needed witnesses. As public confidence grows, so will cooperation - and once that ball starts rolling downhill, one may expect a veritable avalanche of renewal and revitalization to sweep the city's streets free of the violent predators whose reign of terror had in the last decade reduced this city's nationwide public esteem to a reputation scarcely better than that of Sodom.

Other News

At long last, District parents can breathe a little more easily - they now have a better idea of where their children will be going to school, and now are better assured that their children will be going to school, and in safety.

Due to a long-standing suit, Judge Kaye K. Christian had delayed the opening of all of the District Public Schools by several weeks due to failure to comply with fire-code violations, and on many incidents also temporarily closed individual schools due to similar violations, bussing children daily to attend their classes at other schools or at other public or private facilities dragooned into temporary services. Parents were reaching states of nervousness possibly more appropriate to public concern over incipient air-raids and confidence in the District Schools, District Government and indeed anything to do with the District hit an all-time low insofar as concerned the essentials of Day-to-Day life as funcitonal families in a functional society. While repairs have been ongoing and ever more schools have approached compliance with various building and fire codes, concerns over safety of both the facilities and the repairs caused closings and bussings while the repairs took place. Arguments flurried about concerning the need to actually close schools while repairs were made which might have little effect on the children even should they be done incorrectly, but evidently now that most roofs are repaired and heating-system boilers repaired and tested, it will be possible for children to attend classes at their neighborhood schools concurrent with continued repair operations - which by all accounts were overdue decades ago.

One Donald A. Brown, a real-estate developer, will become an unpaid advisor who will endeavor to oversee that some 27.5 percent of all future city borrowings for capital-improvement will be spent on upgrading the schools, safely, in watchdog and whistleblower mode. Julius W. Becton, Jr, a retired Army General with a great reputation for turning moribund facilities and operations into efficient organizations, is as part of the settlement required to abide by Mr. Brown's recommendations. All in all, close to a half-billion dollars is to be spent on a school-system physical-facility rebuilt over the next five years.

Control Board Issues

You have to admire a man who can make classical allusions. You have to admire him more when he's also good with minutae and money and has been on the Federal Reserve Board. But let's look at the classical allusions.

Once there was, or so we are told, a fellow named Theseus. When he became a man, he decided to travel to the capital and present himself to the King, Aegeus. Among other things, he sailed with the Argonauts, slew the mighty Minotaur and freed Athens from a blood-tribute, carried off the Queen of the Amazons, ousted the party-crashing Centaurs, and stormed Hell itself. But first, he had to defeat the infamous robber, Procrustes.

Procrustes was famous for his bed. His technique was this - he would meet a stranger on the road and kindly invite them home, where he would measure them against his bed. And if the guest/victim was too tall, Procrustes would cut off their oversized parts, and if they were too short for the bed, he'd stretch them to death. I misrecall exactly how it was that Theseus dispatched Procrustes, but I do see how this allusion fits the present ongoing crisis in the District.

Congress, having invited the District to come and dine and guest-over, seems to be measuring the District for fit whilst it dallies about pretending to take care of other errands. The proposed District 1998 budget (at least a month overdue for passage, leaving even the Control Board running on borrowed time and cash) is of uncertain size. This leaves uncertainty in how to proceed with the implimentation of management-consultants' recommendations regarding a streamlining of the District's often-redundant and in any case bloated management. While the police department receives direct and separate accessory funding directly from the Federal government, most other District agencies are not so blessed.

A great many savings are to be had through simple elimination of duplication of effort, and consolidation under single authority of various agencies presently performing similar functions under different management. Still, stretching your outlays of savings through coupon-clipping is not sufficient if there is no income. The city has a clear need for certain expenditures for capital acquisition, notably in the areas of repair and replacement of extant fleet, heavy-equipment and telecommunications and information systems. Consultants' reports clearly indicate the need for acquisition of new equipment in preference to repair of existing equipment, since the present fleets' ages are such that repairs are approaching the cost of outright total replacement. Besides, according to Mr. Brimmer, the Department of Public Works' repair facilities are "junkyards" and according to the consultant's reports, few employees are fully qualified to do even minimal repairs, much less completely overhaul a full city fleet of specialized heavy equipment.

So what's the hold up with the 1998 District Budget authorization? They might want to act quickly if they don't want to see a repeat of the Blizzard of 1996 totally paralyze the city because they were slow to authorize acquisition or repairs of snowplows. Remember, El Nino is predicted to bring a warm wet winter to the area - the exact conditions that in late 1996 dropped close to three feet of snow on the area practically overnight.

Meantime, consolidation progresses apace. Primary goals are consolidation of various inspection and resource-allocation services, in particular those which deal with child-welfare, child-safety, and child-support. Fire-inspection and building-code inspections will probably be consolidated into one agency, though at present it is unclear under which umbrella organization this single authority will operate. Also, there will probably be increased delegation of authority to various managers who presently have little actual authority. For instance, Fire and Emergency Services Chief Donald Edwards may be extended a sweeping authority to completely revamp the oft-criticized Fire Department. The successes within the Metropolitan Police Department can be at-least partically credited to such a sweeping extension of authority to Police Chief Larry Soulsby late last year.

But this all needs money to succeed. One can only hope that the Congress will see fit to reward small initial successes with the financial backing to enlarge those small successes through a process of growth and increased empowerment, where deserved. In particular, the computing and telecommunications needs should be specifically addressed and funded, giving the city and Control Board the latitude to select their vendors and equipment for the best fit and customer-satisfaction.

Other Other News

The Department of Health finally paid $300,000 of $500,000 that it owed local HIV/AIDS charities and assistance-organizations, which have used the monies to forestall evictions and utilities cut-offs for their clientele. Hopefully the rest of the money wil be forthcoming as soon as Congress appropriates and hands over the operating funds for this District Fiscal Year.

Regulatory Reforms Take First Steps
One Step forward, One Step Back
Child Care Inspections Stepped Up, Mental Health Care Placed At Risk

6 November 1997
Late last month we reported that insufficiencies and short-staffing in the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) jeopardized not only the efforts of the Welfare-to-Work initiatives, but also placed thousands of pre-school children at risk. It was noted in a report by management-consultant KPMG Peat Marwick, and also by the
Washington Post, that over half of the District's day-care centers and home-care facilitis were operating under expired licenses.

Responding rapidly and placing this as a highest priority, both Mayor Marion Barry and the DCFRA Control Board have moved to beef up the inspection process.

Washington DC is considered by many to be a test-bed for the entire Welfare-to-Work strategy. It is essential, to parents' ability to successfully make the transition from Welfare to work, that they should have confidence in the safety of their children when they are at work. Concurrent with a near-resolution of a longstanding court battle regarding the safety and upkeep of the District's Public Schools, it's no surprise that there should be a similar push to ensure the safety and health of the children who are not yet in those public schools. However, the agency responsible for the inspections, the DCRA, has been characterized as being scarecely-functional, and across-the-board reorganization has been recommended as essential. One of the biggest problems has reportedly been their amazing inefficiencies of organization, shortages of "fieldable" manpower, lack of as functional city vehicle fleet, all combining with a tendency to regulate everything that moves and most things that don't. It's seemingly a case of too many laws and not enough cops, or more properly, a case of a grandiose excess in mission scope.

Perhaps that's not the case. It's as (or more) likely that there really are a great many things that really do need to be regulated, and that it would be much better to leave the various regulatory aspects relatively unchanged for now while striving for internal consolidation of gains, which should be generated by a streamlining of internal procedures, and a revision of lines of authority, promoting the development of fast-track top-to-bottom communication with appropriate delegation of authority.

That's probably better than a wholesale decommissioning of "unwanted orphan" divisions, those which regulate those aspects of public-safety and public-health oversight about which few people care.

A case in point is the agency which oversees mental-health care-providers. The District Board of Professional Counseling has five staff members, all of whom are unpaid, and the board is a relatively modest operation. Yet it performs a function of immense importance to the city's mentally-ill.

Mental illness is rather like leprosy, in that "nobody wants to talk about it", though it is very much more common than is Hanson's Disease. A severe mental illness impacts at least one in five American families, and for such persons, professional care is essential. Mental-healthcare counselors are often one of the few "concretes" or recurrent fixtures in the lives of the mentally-ill, something upon which they can count, in a world which is often a hodgepodge or jumble of ever-changing circumstances. In particular, it must be noted that there is a profound interrelationship between homelessness, near-homelessness, and mental illness. The city of Washington has long been faulted, though never properly taken to task, regarding the provision of care and support for the mentally-ill.

There is a fairly-reasonable Federal allocation of assistance to various jurisdictions intended to allay the plight of the mentally-ill, and in particular the most-poor of the mentally-ill, the homeless, near-homeless, or working-poor classes of sufferers. Medicare and Medicaid will both substantially pay for mental-health needs of the mentally-ill, but they will pay only to qualified care providers. Counselors - as opposed to psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers - have their own specialties, such as drug-abuse counseling, marriage counseling, employment counseling, and so forth, and while these services may not seem to be directly related to mental-illness care-provision, these are all areas which impact and are impacted by mental-illness - and the use of couselors as opposed to more-specialized professionals not only frees those specialized professionals to more directly apply their training appropriately to a wider clientele, but also stretches the public medical-aid dollar appreciably, and increases the number of persons involved in care provision. To a mentally-ill homeless person, this is sometimes invaluable, that each and every day they can see someone who they know will be there for them, but who also is sane and not a potential enemy. Counselors are a new essential of the "spectrum-of-service" approach to dealing with mental illness and homelessness.

It seems that the qualifications of those providers are determined and certified by the District Board of Professional Counseling. And they are about to get the budget-axe.

The potential consequences are enormous. The "spectrum-of-services" approach to serving the mentally-ill and/or homeless populations has been demonstrated to be relatively efficient in assuring that people can see the specialists covering a wide spectrum of needs, and preventing misdiagnoses or inappropriate approaches which occur more frequently under a "generalists-serving-everyone" system.

None of these counseling services would be available to the poor, if they cannot be certified - in the absence of certification, the Federal assistance authorities simply will not pay, and this is as it should be. Without a certification authority, anyone could set themselves up as a "counselor" and bill accordingly. This would lead to a proliferation of quackery unseen since before doctors began to license each other; the public has by-and-large come to expect that if they see a "counselor", that they really are a counselor, and really are qualified. Such a trusting person, if given bad advice by an uninformed, malicious, or predatory "counselor" could act on that bad advice with unforseeable but probably damaging consequences. In the case of the mentally-ill, this would be particularly problematic - unscrupulous "counselors" operating without regulatory restraint might do irrevocable damage to such a person's life, with potentially devastating impacts on the lives of those involved with the patient's life.

Hopefully, rather than eliminate such essential regulatory agencies as this, cost-cutting and streamlining can be achieved through imposing more efficient systems inside the umbrella agencies which have oversight of these smaller boards.

"We Have Got A Bill. Now Let's See Some Results"

13 November 1997

The final District of Columbia Appropriations Act
S.1156 has been passed by the House and is expected to be signed into law without any hitches in the next few days.

You can see a copy of the Act, in PDF format, through the GPO. Or use the Search button above to get an HTML document from the Library of Congress.

As reported by the Washington Post, Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina (a major player in the District Revitalization effort) said: "It looks like we finally have completed work on a District of Columbia budget that will keep the management reform effort on track.... We have got a bill. Now let's see some results."

Among other things, this Bill provides a great tightening of the formerly-slushy District payments system, and essentially eliminates the possibility of "ghost employees", and requires that various Congressional committees will have access to the performance reviews and work histories of all District employees. It also clearly specifies that no District funds may be in any way used in the furtherance of partisan politics, and in fact prohibits the use of school facilities for such events. The Bill also provides that no Federal money may be used to pay for District Statehood efforts, and that in no case is Federal money to be used to pay anyone assigned permanently to the Office of the Mayor.

Some $201,090,000.00 will be deposited into an escrow account for the use of the DCFRA Control Board for their use in "...reduction of the accumulated general fund deficit; capital expenditures, including debt service; and management and productivity improvements, as allocated by the [Control Board]" and further provides that these expenditures may be made only after a plan has been approved by the Control Board, which will continue to report to various Congressional committees.

As regards public safety, the District is authorized to maintain a police force of some 3,800 sworn officers, provides over two-million dollars for pay raises for uniformed firefighters, requires intensified reporting on the part of the police to the Congress and the DCFRA, allocates a fairly huge sum to the purchase or lease (for replacement only, not as fleet-growth) of up to 135 vehicles, 5 for firefighters and the rest for police, and specifies when and at what level delapidated vehicles may or must be replaced instead of repaired.

Public education is funded, including the Public Library, to roughly $672,444,000.

Honey, the Check Came in the Mail!
President Clinton Signs District Budget Bill
DCFRA Control Board Has Discretion over $200-million for Improvements

DCFRA Control Board chairman Andrew F. Brimmer is extremely pleased to see the passage and signing-into-law of the District Budget for Fiscal Year 1998. The money has been long in coming, and the District had been forced to borrow at interest to continue operations.

As regards the pace of change in the District, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has said "It is way too slow". We couldn't agree more. It's been nearly two years since the District teetered on the edge of collapse, leaving the Nation's Capital paralysed by a mere blizzard of the sort that is routinely shrugged-off by any city of any size anywhere in the American west. We have seen upheaval in the police department, we have seen a flock of management-consultants descend on the city agencies, we have seen nine of those agencies stripped from the control of embattled Mayor Marion Barry.

All that's been missing is something actually being done.

But nothing could progress so long as there was no money with which to make changes. The city was, after all, paralyzed during that snowstorm primarily due to the lack of funds to maintain and operate the city's snowplow fleet, which in better years could have reduced a snowbound near-nightmare into an orderly and passable if chilly mid-northern city. Paralyzed by a roughly $5-billion pension fund imposed as an unfunded mandate, plagued by a flight of the upper and middle classes and of business, revenues have dropped as taxes rose and the murder rate was, per-capita, one of the highest in the nation. Nothing could be done about any of this, in a city that was so strapped for cash that the local power company was turning off traffic-signals for non-payment of arrearages.

Now there's money.

Things can be done.

Chairman Brimmer has pledged management and productivity improvements, including the purchase of computers and communications equipment, factors consistently identified by the management-consultants as the most glaring insufficiencies in District government.

More details will follow. Earth Operations Central and TJH Internet SP will not shirk our duty to provide full coverage in the greatest detail available, of the Revitalization of the District of Columbia.

24 November 1997
(c) copr TJH Internet SP all rights reserved 24 November 1997
This first section is fiction. Commentary follows.


They probably wouldn't have even tried it if he hadn't been essentially homeless.

He was not your usual homeless man, and that was the reason that they did try it.

He was one of the rare, clean, relatively sober, over 21, and he liked to work. His health was good, which was one of the reasons that he was out every single morning, waiting at the corner where the construction companies went to find last-minute (and often last-ditch) day-labor. His one vice was the ladies, and that was one of the reasons he didn't have a home - when he got his pay, he liked to hit a bar and have maybe three beers over the course of the evening. That left him fairly clear-headed, and with a few dollars to spare to buy a gal or two a drink or two. He got laid fairly regularly, nothing but one night stands. He had pretty good taste in floozes, but still, since he was fond of being healthy enough to always be among the first-picked down at the corner, he tried to take good care of himself. Part of taking care of himself included sleeping indoors, at his date's houses where possible, or in cheap dives when necessary. Still, he didn't make enough at day-labor work to afford the exhorbitant rents in Washington, and being technically homeless, he took slight advantage of The System.

He thought it very fortunate that the local homelessness-outreach facility had a vouchers system for some local clinics. If you stood in line for an hour or so, you could get a chit that entitled you to go to the head of the line at the Free Clinic. It was his policy to get tested for venereal diseases every few months. He tested out in very, very good health.

As it turned out, he'd have been better off if the tests had showed he'd contracted AIDS.


"Sir!" The old man still slept. More urgently: "Sir! We have a match!" The old man stirred, and muttered. His skin was colored a bright yellow. When his eyes opened, outside the blue of the irises, they were the same yellow color as was his skin. He stared bleakly at the ceiling of the room, and said, "God help me. Do it."


On the evening news: "And in yet another senseless episode in the city's epidemic of drug violence, a gunfight erupted in Northwest Washington. Two carloads of youths pulled up to a curb and began firing wildly, killing a bystander, who was hit in the head and was taken to the Trauma center, where he was pronounced dead."


Nobody ever did come to claim him.

His ashes were interred in the pauper's graves where the city disposed of its unknown dead, but there were less ashes than usual to be scattered into the field. He'd been cremated, but not entire - his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, corneas and pituitary gland were harvested prior to his cremation.

His kidneys each saved a child. His lungs and heart went as a single unit to a cancerous former policeman, and his pituitary gland became part of a puree of cells that lived in a vat, producing human growth hormone. His liver went to an old man, whose skin was now a clear papery white, who promptly resumed drinking... considerably heavier drinking than before his own liver had finally died of abuse.

- And except for the "hit" on the streets, for which nobody would ever be charged, it was all perfectly legal.


Washington, the District of Columbia, has a law which is unique in the nation. Enacted in 1996, this law allows surgeons declaring a death to act aggressively to preserve the organs of the deceased. (Please see an article from the Washington Post for more details.) While the law is not presently written so as to allow organ-donation-by-default, still, in the case of John Doe or other insufficiently-protected cases, our little scary story above might be perfectly possible, if not entirely legal. The legalities of the situation might not concern people whose lives could be saved by transplants. It is well known that there are, in the People's Republic of China, occasional mass-executions of prisoners, whose bodies are immediately packed into refrigerated ambulances and rushed to nearby hospitals, where foreigners, quite often American, lie prepped and waiting to receive the organs for which they have prepaid handsomely to the aggressive overseas marketers in this horrific international trade in human parts.

It is, at present, illegal to sell human organs for a fee within the United States.

Washington's shoddy police and regulatory records practically ensure that such abuses as are detailed fictionally, above, could occur. I suspect that if the right amount of money changed hands, or if the right person had pictures of the other right person doing something indiscreet with the wrong person, there might be results not entirely consonant with livable medical ethics. The preservation procedure, when combined with refrigeration, could maintain most organs sufficiently as to permit shipment elsewhere. The preservation procedure is essentially the same as attaching a person to a heart-lung machine, except that instead of warm blood, the perfusion is of ice-cold fluids. Medical science has long experimented with the concept of suspended animation, and the major hurdle which is yet to be overcome has been brain-damage in the revived subject. In the case of the deceased, this is no longer a concern, and it appears that such a preservation procedure might be maintained indefinitely.

The Washington Post article does note that while the families of most donors refuse to permit donation, once this procedure has been performed without prior consent, many more families opt to allow the harvesting of organs for transplant. Perhaps they simply accept that their dead have already been desecrated.

The Post notes that one person "preserved for harvest" under this law was a resident of Virginia, and had no voter's recourse against the City Council members who passed this District law. One might rightly fear to enter a coma in any hospital in the District; if one drew sufficiently near to the actual line between life and death, one might find ones'-self beginning to fight back to consciousness only to feel the shock of, literally, ice-water running into your veins. The specter of a resident of some jurisdiction other than the District being essentially chopped up by ghouls Downtown is only slightly less fearful than a dread of being an American traveller arrested in Red China on some trumped-up charge, and being taken out and shot and then chopped up by ghouls... who would profit tidily by selling their organs - to another American.

This is a fearsome vision, and some doctors are not helping matters when they say, as does one Roger W. Evans, head of the section of health services evaluation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as quoted from the Post: ""When people refuse to donate, depriving individuals of organs that could save their lives, maybe we should consider that a homicidal act."

One can only hope that this is a joke.

However, this may not at all be humor, but the incoming wave of the future.

One Larry Niven, in a story called "The Jigsaw Man" (which is contained in the compilation Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, ca. 1966, available at any library worthy of the name) predicted with an inexorable logic that once citizens became aware that transplants extend lives, they would tend to decrease legal restraints on involuntary donation of organs. Various states, anxious to ameliorate jail overcrowding through capital punishment, might make harvest-for-transplant the official means of execution, and indeed, the present mixture of sedatives and potassium chloride used in lethal injections might be modified so as to simply be the first step in this process of "preservation for transplant". Mr. Niven continues in horrid detail - eventually, as more and more citizens extend their lives through transplantation, they also extend their potential supply of organs by legislating the death-penalty for almost any conceivable offense. The protagonist of the story is on trial for his life for his third traffic offense... or so it would seem. Actually, it might be said that he is at risk of going to the Organ Banks for having a tissue-rejection type-match to someone else.

Already this is the case - as stated above and as reported roughly around Hallowe'en of this year by ABC News - in the People's Republic of China, where many of the prisoners executed and then harvested for transplant have committed offenses which are presently considered misdemeanors here in the United States.

Please heed the words of Justice William O. Douglas:

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."

Now is the time to bring such matters of ethics into the full light of public discussion, so long as that light remains available to us. For if we do wait too long while the darkness gathers 'round, we may find that the time for talk is long past... and while we failed to consider what darkness might bring with it, the darkness is well prepared... and needs your parts.

Police Force Shake-Up!
Chief Soulsby Resigns, Roommate Arrested
New Acting Chief Appointed, Search for New Chief Underway

27 November 1997 - Happy Thanksgiving!
It appears that the fox was put in charge of the henhouse, and eventually somebody noticed.

Over two years ago, local law-enforcment, in cooperation with several Federal agencies, put a stop to the distribution of top-quality forged identification documents and work-permits, which were being sold openly on the streets in the Adams-Morgan Neighborhood of the District. They seized a computer, and a superior-quality color printer, and software designed to produce counterfeit documents.

The computer was stored in an unsecured location in the police station. Several officers had expressed some concern over the accessibility of the machine.

One of the policemen authorized to use the machine was Lt. Jeffery Scott Stowe, who was in charge of, among other things, Witness Protection funds. The Witness Protection system commonly provides new identification documents as part of their operation. Lt. Stowe was also in charge of investigating extortion, quite-often a deep-cover investigative process, and often false documents are essential. Sometimes, by arrangement with a US Postal Inspector, false identities are used to secure post-office boxes for use as dead-drops or as remailing sites.

Allegedly, according to FBI affadavit, Lt. Stowe went so far as to forge documents on his own, and to use them in support of a false statement in application for a US Post Office Box used in the commission of crime, a Federal offense. The crime? The FBI says he used police computers to identify married men who entered gay bars, identify them via their vehicle tags, cyberstalk them on the Internet, and then he embarked upon a career of extortion... the exact crime the investigation of which Lt. Stowe was tasked.

This might be dismissed as being simply yet-another case of a cop-gone-bad, had Lt. Stowe not been the roommate of Metropolitan Police Chief Larry Soulsby.

Lt. Stowe had secured an apartment at the upscale Lansburgh at approximately one-third of the market value, having assured the management that it would be used as a base of undercover operations.

Caught between Federal investigators on the one hand (who would still like to know exactly what Soulsby knew, and when he knew it) and his own responsibilities to the embattled Metropolitan Police Department on the other hand (to say nothing of the District residents, on the third hand), Chief Larry Soulsby announced his resignation Tuesday 24 November 1997. He was, he said, " ...just tired, very tired. I'm tired of fighting these silly battles."

Chief Soulsby is credited with doing a great deal to alter the previously moribund course of the MPD, dismissing or reassigning a large chunk of the Homicide department in the wake of a scandal involving an overtime scam, re-assigning leadership in various departments and administrative districts, and in general has been seen as a tough man on crime. However, his tenure as police-chief has been fraught with a great deal of questions regarding how much Larry Soulsby knew, and when he knew it, and this is the major issue: despite his position as a career Washington Cop who rose from the bottom to the top purely on his own merits, Larry Soulsby seems to have always known too little, too late... and all too often, the man in charge had no idea what was going on practically under his nose. The accusation has been made, often, and having a Federal investigation find massive culpability in his own roommate sent a message even to the man who seems to have overlooked everything - the Chief of Police has been being played for a fool and a patsy - and rather than have this continue, to the detriment of his city, the man retains his pride by admitting that it's time to step down.

His position is now filled by Acting Chief Sonya T. Proctor, 43, a lifelong resident of Washington. Raised in the Petworth area of Washington, she has been with the force for 24 years, and was the highest-ranking female in the police force, commanding the District's 3rd Division. She is the District's first female chief-of-police. She has had a long history of working with Federal agencies, as the 3rd Division, outside of Capitol Hill, is possibly the most Fed-heavy area of Washington. She was also given advanced training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Her appointment interestingly comes at a time when the Metropolitan police have come under intense pressure from the public for what is perceived as a bungled series of murder investigations. Due to longstanding problems at the Medical Examiner's office, a series of deaths in the Petworth area (long plagued by economic depression and blighted by drugs and violence) went undetected as murders. Exhumation of the corpses and examination of the evidence appears to indicate that there has been a serial-killer preying primarily upon female drug users who prostitute themselves for drugs. At least five young women have been found dead in Petwork over the last 18 months, with discoveries of these bodies (one was merely a human torso from which all extremities had been removed) following an approximately three-month cycle. Petworth One of the prevalent complaints directed against the police department was that "police ain't doin' nothin' cause don't nobody care 'bout no black crack whores from Petworth" and allegations have been made that if this had been white women found dead, the neighborhood would have been turned upside down. There may indeed be some truth to these allegations, despite denials from Homicide. Local media investigations as well as Guardian Angels investigations has focussed some public attention on the Petworth area, a tangled nest of streets centered on the intersection of New Hampshire and Georgia Avenues NW. As a former resident of Petworth, and as a black woman, I expect that Acting Chief Proctor will care and will mobilize whatever force it takes to get to the bottom of this case. Her training and association with the FBI will undoubtedly aid in the solution of this case.

Chief Soulsby's resignation and Proctor's promotion to Acting Chief come at a time when the crime rate, locally, has dropped, but not so much as has the crime-rate nationwide. The local murder rate has dropped, or has it? In an article in the 20 November 1997 Washington Post, John Pless (President, National Association of Medical Examiners, and director of forensic pathology at the Indiana University School of Medicine) notes that as regards the Washington Medical Examiner's office, "[b]asically, what you have here is a system that doesn't have the capacity to discriminate the subtle deaths, and it takes a high level of experience and training to do that."

In a city famed, in legend and in film and not without basis as "espionage central", a Medical Examiner's office that doesn't have the capacity to discriminate the subtle deaths is simply beyond the pale and utterly unacceptable.

US Attorney-General Janet Reno set a goal some months ago, of getting a new and improved Medical Examiner's office in place in the District. The present Morgue is unable to perform toxicological tests locally, and is not accredited by any of the national-level professional groups.

The District M.E.'s office is infamous nationally for its propensity for labelling deaths as "undetermined cause of death" cases simply because no obvious cause of death has been found. In fact, absent clear and obvious indicators of murder, specifically gunshot wounds, the M.E.'s office labels all cases "undetermined". For instance, the extremities-severed torso was labelled as "undetermined cause of death" even though it is clearly the result of a violent death and a typical signature of a particularly vicious type of killer. One must wonder how many murders such as poisonings and stranglings are left uninvestigated simply because the M.E.'s office hasn't correctly determined the cause of death as homicide. One can also wonder how badly-skewed are the murder-rate statistics in the city, with possibly an immense number of actual murders being passed off as natural deaths or deaths-by-misadventure. Incidentally, several of these Petworth killings took place at a time when several Homicide detectives were nearly doubling their pays through billing overtime to the department, for time allegedly spent hanging around various courtrooms hoping to be called to testify.

Other News

The Florida-based law firm of Holland & Knight has been contracted by the DCFRA Control Board to review the laws and policies of the District's regulatory systems. The contract, signed on or about 15 November 1997, pays some $830,000 to the firm, which has some 100 lawyers in the Metropolitan area. Federal legislation mandating comprehensive management and regulatory reform is said to have been used almost verbatim as the basis of the contract. It has been noted elsewhere that the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is a textbook example of how to not run a government agency and has been characterized as beyond the point of organizational collapse. Local legal firms may have to some degree added to the problem, through their interactions with the notoriously Byzantine department and this may be why a firm was selected from far outside of the region. The city's Business Regulatory Reform Commission ("BRRC") has made a great many recommendatons on the management and regulatory reform effort, and on 26 November 1997 DC at-large Councilmember Harold Brazil has presented a 120-page bill. Between the efforts of these two groups, approaching the problems from different angles, there should be total coverage of the subject.

Brazil's streamlining bill has many provision which have ignited a storm of controversy. For one, it has provisions which greatly streamline Washington's extremely-restrictive environmental regulations. They require environmental impact statements costing roughly $300,000 on projects costing less than a million dollars. This has been considered an immense impediment to smallscale constructions and reconstructions. The present DC Environmental Policy Act would be replaced with provisions that essentially duplicate Federal environmental law, and provide environmental regulations almost exactly the same as that in contiguous Maryland and neighboring Virginia.

More importantly, Brazil's bill ignored the BRRC recommendation that rent-control be totally scrapped. The City of Washington has a huge percentage of rent-controlled and Section 8 housing. Brazil's bill allows landlords to evict, upon notice of 30 to 90 days, without cause, any tenants they should choose. At present, tenants of rent-controlled housing can b evicted only for cause. Mr. Brazil, who is thought to be contemplating a run for the position of Mayor, is pressing for speedy enactment of this bill, warning his colleagues on the DC City Council that they will otherwise risk becoming irrelevant in the Revitalization effort.

Regional Renaissance
Governmental Changes Still Not Forthcoming
2 December 1997
A regional renaissance is underway, buoyed by a variety of factors, foremost of which is the region's booming economy. Sadly, the District itself lags.

Recent economic changes, including recent massive investments in hardware manufacture in northern Virginia, explosive growth of the biotechnology sector in suburban Maryland, and a regionalized megascale expansion of the telecommunications and information-system industries has left the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area reeling under a heady buzz composed equally of a dearth of qualified high-tech employees and new construction. Outside of the District itself, the region is considered fully-employed. The saying around here is "everyone who wants to work is working". While not absolutely true (both Virginia and Maryland have expressed some concerns that those who are being moved from Welfare to Work are employed less-gainfully than might be hoped) this statement gives a fairly good overall picture of the region's economic health.

Silver Spring, Maryland, which abuts the District, roughly straddling the northernmost point of the diamond-shaped District, had long languished in a state of decline. Once the economic hub of Suburban Maryland, it fell into disrepute and disrepair during the 1970s and 1980s. Plagued by Metrorail construction, "urban renewal" construction, and later a paralytic congestion engendered by the bus-traffic to the Silver Spring end-of-line Metrorail terminal, and the explosion of shopping megamalls in Rockville, Wheaton, and Gaithersburg, Silver Spring was essentially abandoned. This trend has been reversed, among other things, by a near-completion of the urban-renewal projects and in particular a sufficiency of reasonably-priced parking (the county has almost-halved the metered-parking rates), as well as attractive business packages extended by Montgomery County. Maryland, as a rule, leaves government to a County system, with incorporated cities being a relative rarity. Silver Spring comprises several zipcodes, and is largely an unincorporated "region" of Montgomery County. County Executive Douglas M. Duncan points to a near-halving of the formerly depressing office-space vacancy-rate with some satisfaction. Silver Spring was also considered by many to be a "depressing" place to work, with an extreme shortage of parks and relaxational spaces accessible to the local workers. A new "town square" park has been proposed at the heart of Silver Spring, projected to cost roughly $330 million.

County Executive Duncan also intends to spark increased growth in the already-booming Bethesda/Chevy-Chase area with a proposed major conference center. Chevy Chase, located roughly midway along the northwestern District Line (Western Avenue) and centered along north-south Md Route 355 (Wisconsin Avenue), has long been plagued by traffic congestion of its own, although this has been remediated by the completion of construction of office complexes centered around their Metrorail stations. Bethesda, located farther north along Wisconsin Avenue is even more traffic-plagued than is Chevy Chase; both bear the brunt of north-south commuter traffic, but Bethesda has a great deal of cross-county traffic to handle, as well. There have long been regional discussions of dispelling some of the traffic by a development of an extant-but-unused rail line running from Silver Spring through Bethesda, but such development has as-long been bogged in assorted legal battles which are expected to remain unresolved in the anticipable future. At present, County Executive Duncan finds his own plans for this conference center to be stalled by a refusal of Hearing Examiner Philip J. Tearney (Zoning) to grant the exceptions needed to build the conference-center/hotel complex until traffic concerns can be appropriately addressed.

This comes at a time when, in the District, the new MCI Arena has opened in the heart of Washington's Chinatown, at Seventh and "F" Streets, Northwest. A mere three-block walk from the Washington Convention Center and three blocks fro the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, and within five blocks of six Metrorail entrances, the MCI Arena opened to a great deal of fanfare.

In other news, the District has reached an agreement with local utility companies whereby the utility companies will in the future repair city streets into which they cut for repairs, instead of simply patching them with light asphalt and expecting the City to make permanent repairs at some unspecified later time. Washington's streets are, believe it or not, getting better all of the time - at least insofar as regards their navigability to vehicles. Public safety is another matter altogether.

Heads A-Rollin' Once Again
Police Department Under Seige in Wake of Soulsby Retirement
Stowe Investigation Widens Scope

The Emperor's New Clothes

5 December 1997
In the classic fable, "The Emperor's New Clothes", a group of ambitious courtiers surround the Emperor and essentially take control of his kingdom. As part of the process, they manage to delude the Emperor to the point where he is quite convinced that the courtiers are in possession of a fabric so marvellously fine that the emperor and his kingdom will be the envy of all who behold it. In the end, of course, it becomes clear to all that the vast sums of money that the emperor has granted to the courtiers has been used to line their pockets and secure their positions close to the throne, and that the marvelous and much-heralded wonder-fabric is no more substantial (and indeed is nothing more) than air. And though all of the city can see this when the emperor takes his stroll, all are too cautious of their own position and reputation to mention this, and all are caught up in a spell which in modern terms would be called a mass-psychosis of delusionary nature. Only one too innocent to be involved in position, power, and intrigue can break the spell - it is a tiny child who frees the kingdom with his cry: "the Emperor has no clothes!"

This might be one reasonable-if-allegorical explanation of the strange case of Lieutenant Jeffery Scott Stowe, late of the Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division (CID). He stands accused by the FBI of engaging in extortion attempts targeting gay married men. He was also charged with embezzlement of at least $14,000. Stowe was assigned to investigate extortions, and also to assist in management of funds used for the Witness Protection and Relocation programs. Stowe, a long-time friend of Chief Larry Soulsby, who resigned last week, was also his room-mate, and a golfing buddy. Stowe reportedly capitalized on his close-association with Soulsby, and there has been, so long as Soulsby was chief of the force, an understandable reluctance to investigate Stowe, even though there has been a fairly long list of irregularities which were reportedly well-known amongst his co-workers.

Yesterday, 4 December 1997, Acting Chief Sonya Proctor arranged for the transfer of another of ex-Chief Soulsby's golfing buddies to another department. Commander Glenn C. Hoppert, of the CID and Stowe's superior, was tranferred to the labor-relations department of the force. No particular reason was given for this transfer, other than a standard announcement that the force was assessing its needs and reshuffling personnel to accomodate those assessed needs. However, there were also three other transfers from the Special Investigations branch of the CID. Two sergeants and one detective have been re-assigned, each to different districts. Both were Stowe's subordinates. Stowe was the leiutenant in charge of CID's Special Investigations Branch. It appears that an entire chain-of-command may be thought to be implicated in Stowe's schemes, if not actively-so; they might be considered to some degree culpable by a failure to investigate irregularities in the Stowe case. This case was precipitated by a complaint to the FBI by one of the alleged targets of Stowe's alleged scheme, and among other things has led to disclosures of inappropriate uses of seized counterfeiting equipment to make forged police ID and other IDs allegedly used in fraud in obtaining a US Post Office box, a Federal crime.

This comes in the wake of the Monday, 1 December 1997, retirement of Deputy Commander Carolyn Boggs, also of the CID. She was under pressure to resign after an internal-affairs division investigation into excessive overtime. She collected over $10,000 in overtime which was entirely unauthorized, according to an unnamed source quoted by the Washington Post. Boggs had been, up until a recent organizational consolidation of units combined with a physical decentralization of the police department, head of the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division. At the time of the consolidation, she was then bumped-up to Deputy Commander of CID. She had been tapped for command of the 1st District, but the promotion and transfer never occured, for reasons which have not been made known. The Criminal Investigation Division's Special Investigations section has come under considerable pressures recently. Among other things, the entire police department has be long-regarded by District residents as being incapable of protecting witnesses in criminal cases. Homicide investigations in particular have been hampered by the reluctance of witnesses to testify. Homicide investigations have long been characterized by one single problem: there have been a great many cases where killings occurred in front of many witnesses, and where no arrests could be made simply because nobody would come forward to identify the suspects, since it was well-known that the city would not or could not provide protection for those witnesses. Special Investigations was one of the branches responsible for providing security or funding for security for witnesses in their investigations. Since extortion in this city has long been linked to homicides and witness-intimidation, and since the force is making massive efforts towards solution of a backlog of unsolved murders,it may be that there is simply to be a clean sweep of anyone remotely-involved with witness protection. If that is all, there may be some hope for a rise in the presently-miserable closure rate of only approximately 40 percent of murders. At any rate, most of the ranking personnel in this sadly mismanaged segment of the Metropolitan Police Department have been relocated or dismissed.

DCFRA Control Board Issues

Mayor Barry's nominee for the position of Inspector General for the District of Columbia has evidently been rejected by the DCFRA Control Board. Robert L. Thomas, who has served as the interim inspector-general, is evidently quite qualified for the job, but has been criticized for his choice of a smallish accounting firm for the insanely-complex and poorly-documented audit of the District's books. Some have noted that Mr. Thomas, a former IRS investigator, had used as a reference on his resume, a partner in the firm he selected to do the audit. The Control Board instead chose the giant accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick to do the work. KPMG Peat Marwick has a client-base of extremely large firms, and definitely has the experience and resources to handle the job, and also was one of the management-consultants responsible for investigating many of the city agencies which were placed under the aegis of the Control Board when Congress removed them from the mismanagement of the Mayor. KPMG may be thus presumed to already have a head-start on any audits, having already been through most of the accounts-books once.

Other possible candidates for the job include, according to the Post, one David M. Bowie, formerly of the FBI, who is presently the assistant inspector-general.

The Money is Here! Implementation Phase Nearly Set to Start
New Round of Consultants' Reports Released
Roughly $100-Millions Available for Reforms

6 December 1997
DCFRA control Board Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer announced that roughly $100 million will be spent in implementing a variety of reforms in the troubled District government.

Among other things, there will be a prioritization of upgrades to equipment and infrastructure, notably heavy equipment such as trash trucks and snow-removal equipment, and the city's antiquated information and telecommunications infrastructures. Other systems which should be upgraded rapidly will be the city's system for tracking traffic tickets and driving-record information, which has been characterized as fragmented and nearly-inoperable. There is also to be a push to move the city's internal processes rapidly from the realm of paper-pushing into the modern nearly-instantaneous venue of electronic commerce. Many of the city's offices have for years continued to rely on rotary-dial phones, and in many offices, modern automation or infosystem availability is practically non-existent.

Starting Wednesday, Chairman Brimmer, Mayor Marion Barry, DC Councilmembers, and the heads of various city agencies will begin discussions of which projects can be realistically funded to satisfactory completion, and to work out timetables for action.

Chairman Brimmer, famed for a remark some weeks ago wherein he likened the uncertainties of the then-future District Budget's allocations to a Procrustean Bed ("chop or stretch the customer to fit"), notes that there is a shortfall of some $27 million, blocking implimentation of some of the management-consultants' reforms recommendations. He's quoted by the Washington Post as saying: "We are faced with rationing funds among numerous claimants ... We will spend as much as we can given the competing claims."

It's clear that one of the most-prioritized group of projects will be those which should revamp the moribund Department of Consumer and Regulatory affairs, which has been consistently decried as a "Byzantine Labyrinth" and as being utterly slothful in terms of pursuing potential income in the form of fines and fees for certifications and licenses. They've also come under fire, as has the Department of Human Services, for their failure to inspect and license (where appropriate) the District's burgeoning child-care and day-care industry. At one time earlier this year, investigation revealed that over half of such facilities in the District were unlicensed, with many of those uninspected as well.

Other projects which will doubtless be placed high on the priority list will be modernization of the District's information infrastructure, physical-infrastructure maintenance, and the ongoing rolling-rebuild of the Emergency Services.

The Poor Less At Risk?
District Plans Outreach to Children of Working-Poor
Expansion of Adult-Care Programs Considered

9 December 1997
7 October 1997 We reported that Welfare Reform was being "torpedoed" by District slacking. On that date, the Washington Post had reported that something over 50 percent of the District's Child-Care and Day-Care facilities were operating without licenses from the city's dysfunctional Department of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs (DCRA). We also reported that there seemed to be little or no communication between the DCRA and the Department of Health Services (DHS), and that many of those day-care/child-care facilities which were operating without licenses were receiving payments on behalf of needy parents, from the DHS.

We also mentioned that if Welfare Reform is to succeed, parents must be assured that going to work won't place their children at risk. It's also been a concern of working-poor parents that they be able to get their children to doctors or clinics in case of need, and it's been a concern among many that a migration from Welfare to Work would essentially place their children at risk due to a shifting of medical care costs from the Federal Welfare system to the working-poor parents, essentially placing medical care out of the reach of the working-poor, whose employers frequently offer no health insurance whatsoever.

At least in the District, this concern will now be addressed.

According to an article in today's Washington Post, DCFRA Control Board executive director John W. Hill, Jr declared: "We are encouraging the city to take a look at opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage at the same or reduced cost ... Clearly, to the extent that all those numbers work out and you are able to increase services without reducing costs, that's the kind of win-win situation everyone is looking for."

We presume that he intended to say "...increase services while reducing costs..." - since DC health care finance commissioner Paul Offner is also quoted in the article as stating that he's making progress in battling massive inefficiencies in the District Medicaid system. It's clear that the District Medicaid system, characterized as one of the most inefficient and expensive in the nation, could stand to reduce costs. This would certainly permit an expansion of services realized through cost-reduction alone. The city has a Medicaid budget of $843 million for this fiscal year. Offner also believes that it will be possible to eventually extend coverage to perhaps as many as 30,000 uninsured adults. He is quoted by the Post as saying: "We won't have to ask for more local tax money. We can finance this, in my opinion, mostly through efficiencies and transfers within the budget."

Also, there is a new source for funding. Last summer, Congress created a $24 billion fund intended to bring some 5 million children, nationwide, under some form of health-insurance. The District already extends Medicaid coverage to some 68,000 children, but the new plan would raise the income-limits on childrens' parents. Anyone under 19 in a household with income under 200-percent of Federal poverty-level would be eligible for coverage. However, as presently conceived, the process would require parents to actively seek coverage for their children, at present a burdensome process involving trips to the welfare office. Hopefully, some sort of streamlining procedures can be developed, ideally linking insurance coverage with school registrations, or with any other accesses of the District government sector.

Other News

In the Petworth Area, law-enforcement officials seem to be still-undecided as to whether or not the series of mysterious deaths are indeed the work of a single serial-killer, or are instead mere random violence in a neighborhood long plagued by drugs and violence.

The District National Guard has been present, recently, erecting lighting towers. Also, city councilmember and other local government officials have been implimenting a policy of ticket, tow, trash and tear - If they see abandoned or inoperable vehicles, they get yanked out with record speed. Ordinarily, the District has had a policy of towing only vehicles which blocked essential access, or which appeared to have a likelihood of being quickly bailed-out or which might have some resale value. "Junkers" were simply left to rot, and to become homes for rats or street people. Trash has been allowed to pile up all over town, due to the insufficiency of operable trash-trucks and the understaffing that required sanitation workers to pull record overtime. Cleaning out alleys littered with AIDS-infected used hypodermics has been way down the list of priorities. Also, the city agency which are responsible for maintaining and pruning the city's treescape has been strapped for cash and equipment, and neighborhoods such as Petworth have essentially been shelved as irremediable. However, with the intense pressures from the neighborhood and media, Petworth is being cleaned up, physically, if not yet socially.

A contractor restoring (among others) the buildings where three of the bodies were found mentioned that he's offering a $10,000 discount to any policeman, fireman, or emergency-services employee who buys any of these properties.

It should also be noted that the Petworth area had long been disrupted by construction of a Metrorail Green Line subway extension, intended to link the Fort Totten and U-Street/Cardozo stations. Once a fairly-thriving neighborhood, the surfaces of New Hampshire Avenue and Georgia Avenue had been reduced to a wasteland of restricted side-streets and blocked store-fronts. It's highly-likely that this Metro-construction confusion has been a major factor in the decline of the neighborhood. Similar disruption and decline was seen in the U-Street corridor between 14th Street and 7th Street (which, extended, becomes Georgia Avenue) during the construction of the U-Street/Cardozo Metrorail station. However, with completion of that station, U-Street underwent something of a renaissance, and now features a variety of attractive and popular shops, bars and restaurants, and increasingly the surrounding neighborhoods have been renovated and gentrified and are becoming popular upscale neighborhoods.

Construction of the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metrorail Station is officially complete, according to the Washington Metropolitan-Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Busses are schedule to be restored to former routes, and new routes may be added or present routes modified, as of 21 December 1997. As the construction barriers are removed, and streets are unblocked, we may hope to see a revitalization of Petworth similar to that seen on U Street since construction ended there, and when the Green Line is fully opened, probably in December 1999, we may see yet another axis of renovation and growth striking through a former no-man's-land.

Other Other News

Metropolitan Police sergeants Christopher Sanders and Harry Thomas Hill have filed suit against the city, alleging violation of their Constitutional rights by, among others, Lt. Lowell Duckett. The officers allege that they were re-assigned to back-burner positions after complaining about an officer who failed to show up for work.

This all ties-into the ongoing saga of the legendary "Goon Squad", which is Mayor Barry's security detail. The security-detail, which employs 26 officers (who collected altogether $178,000 in overtime this year) despite orders from Congress, the DC Council and DCFRA Control Board to shrink the force to no more than 15 officers, is considered by many to be one of the last remaining "trappings of power" left to Mayor Marion Barry, who was essentially stripped of power by Congress over the last two years. Interestingly, during a controversial trip to Nigeria last month, by both the Mayor and his wife, ten officers managed to bill the city for 132 hours of overtime, which is rather mysterious considering that they did not accompany the Mayor to Africa. Overtime abuses by Metro PD officers have become something of a scandal this year, with revelations of homicide detectives nearly doubling their salaries billing for overtime spent hanging around the courthouses hoping to testify while the city's closure rate on murder cases slipped to a deplorable 35 percent.

Acting Chief Sonya T. Proctor stated that the size of the squad "...has to be in compliance with the budget".

The "Goon Squad" has been, in the past, accused of many a chequered deed. One officer, Ulysses Walltower (named in the above-mentioned lawsuit as the officer who didn't show up for work) was once under Federal criminal investigation for allegedly intimidating a witness who accused Barry's wife of campaign finance misconduct. He retired under pressure in March of this year. Other security-detail officers were brought to task for allegedly ferrying voters to and from the pools in an effort to boost votes for Barry. Anecdotal evidence (unsubstantiated allegations from street sources) alleges that this was at one time a fairly widespread activity. Police internal investigations indicated that only eight such voters wre transported, and no prosecutions were made. According to the Washington Post, roughly as million taxpayer dollars per year are expended to maintain the security of the Mayor, his immediate family, and his residence.

There is expected to be an oversight hearing this Friday to look into the matter.

DCFRA Control Board Issues

Control of 31 closed District Schools has been transferred to the DCFRA Control Board by the emergency school trustees. The Control Board will have the authority to sell or lease these properties as advised by the school system, which is intended to be the ultimate beneficiary of such sales or leases.

Crazy Like a Fox
Police Corruption Probe Begins, with Barry At the Helm

12 December 1997
In a city so mismanaged that Congressional concern and Presidential action stripped power from Mayor Marion Barry, the King of Teflon has managed to not only preside over the tearful resignation of the last Barry-appointed Chief of Police, Larry Soulsby, but has managed to place himself squarely in charge of the committee that will select the next Chief of Police.

On 1 October 1997 we noted with complete amazement that more than a hundred long-unsolved murders had been solved by the National Drug Intelligence Center, who had sent a report solving these crimes to then-Captain Alan Dreher back in January of 1996. He had promptly back-shelved the file and nothing was done. And on the next day, we asked some tough questions about the level of corruption this tended to imply - how many murders or other serious crimes went unsolved simply because it might have "made waves" within the department.

On 8 October 1997 we noted with some dismay, along with the rest of the region, that the management-consultant report of Booz-Allen Hamilton stated clearly that the District police department was in total chaos.

On 9 October 1997 we reported a series of quotes direct from Capitol Hill which stated baldly among other things that the Metropolitan Police Department was essentially un-fixable according to the management-consultant's reports and throwing money at the problems would be like "...pouring money down a rathole..." and according the DC Councilman Jack Evans the MPD was "...astounding in the depth of chaos and disorganization that we found." This followed, among other things, a disclosure that the police evidence facility was managed so incompetently that literally tens of thousands of felony cases might be dismissed due to bungled process and lost or damaged evidence.

That evening, special hearings were held, which brought to light a great deal of (sadly anecdotal) evidence detailing widespread institutionalized corruption within the Metropolitan Police Department.

On 21 October 1997 we reported that local and national experts had concluded that the ongoing difficulties of the Metropolitan Police Department were more rooted in the culture of the MPD than in mere incompetence of individual officers. Throughout this history, we have also consistently pointed out, as have local and national experts, that the Metropolitan Police Department is incredibly politicized, and has been for two decades. An entire generation of District police supervision and management heirarchy has come into their present positions purely as a result of how well they've managed to not step on the Mayor's metaphorical toes.

Within the last week, we saw the convening of a high-level committee dedicated to investigating police corruption. And who of all people was at the helm of the committee? None other than Mayor Marion Barry.

Originally, there were calls for an intense in-house internal affairs investigation of the MPD, but the thought was quickly voiced that, given the suspected depth and breadth of corruption within the department, any internal-affairs investigation would merely be a whitewash and a coverup and that absolutely no changes would occur except the possible elimination of those who were incompetent in their corruption. Then there were calls for an independent investigator. Mayor Barry has announced that he will generously aid in the search for such an independent investigator - doubtless one who is a long-time Barry supporter and party-machine ally.

After the resignation of Chief Soulsby, in the wake of Federal charges of extortion and embezzlement of police funds by Soulsby's roommate (then-Lieutenant J. S. Stowe), due to the wording of the District Revitalization Act, Mayor Barry has the authority to select any new Agency head, even in the case of the police department. He has, therefor, established a 29-member committee to select a new Chief of Police. Having passed a Barry-cronies (tm) vetting panel, Barry can then rest assured that whomever he proposes for the approval of the DCFRA Control Board will be someone who Barry feels is amenable to Barry's control and not interested in changing "the way things are".

Barry should, after all, be rather fearful that trails of corruption might be discovered which would tend to lead inexorably towards him. Recently, he has come under fire for maintaining a much-larger staff of bodyguards, paid through the police department, than have been allowed him by Congress or the Control Board. They have come under fire for exhorbitant submissions of overtime vouchers, in particular for overtime collected while the Mayor and his wife were attending a conference in Nigeria. (The officers drove to Newark New Jersey to perform security checks, etc.) They've also come under fire as two officers have alleged that they were subjected to harrassment and re-assignment after refusing to lie about a member of the Mayor's security detail who didn't show up for work.

Nobody's come right out and said it until now, but Mayor Barry positioning himself to select who will investigate him is nearly as silly and quite as suspect as OJ Simpson's personal investigations into finding the "real killer" of his murdered wife and her murdered lover.

Any special investigators into police corruption, and into possible links between corrupt police and Mayor Marion Barry should be specialists recruited by, and paid for, by Congress.

At present, there is a Grand Jury investigation, the Barry-appointed "independent" investigator, and the DC Council has just announced that they will also convene an investigation.

For an informative series on Mayor Marion Barry's career, please see this excellent Washington Post Series.

Police Corruption Commission Created
Overtime Abuses To Be Probed
Entrenched Cronyism & Harassment for Whistleblowing Reputedly Rampant

<16 December 1997
5 December 1997 we reported that an entire chain of command had been removed from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Criminal Investigation Division (CID), with a variety of forced-retirements and transfers of personnel.

This appeared to be largely fallout from the Stowe Affair, wherein a Lieutenant in CID abused police department equipment procedures and monies to further a career in extortion of married men who attended gay nightclubs.

However, Lt. Stowe's ex-superior, Inspector Glenn Hoppert, isn't all done yet.

On Friday, 13 December 1997, Hoppert testified before the DC Council that mismanagement and misconduct are rampant within the MPD. Among other allegations, there was mention of intradepartmental targeting of anyone bucking the present system or making complaints. There was also a gratuitous (since this has been widely reported elsewhere) mention of overtime abuses.

There was also mention of unauthorized and illegal searches made by police - and evidently this is so common that it's considered a standard part of the job, despite the protections ostensibly given under the US Constitution.

There was also some mention of an aspect of Police corruption which was rather glossed-over, as after all it's a national disgrace. However, there are few places where this particular abuse could have as great an effect as in Washington, the District of Columbia - after all, knowledge is power, and knowledge of the powerful, and the ability to control the dissemination of that knowledge, gives power over the powerful - and a position of power over the powerful, used from a hidden and unaccountable position, amounts to ultimate, or absolute power. And Power corrupts - and absolute power, unaccountable power, corrupts absolutely.

Lt. Stowe, evidently, as a part of his scheme to extort married men who visited gay-entertainment clubs, used his police access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases, as well as his access to the purely-District online information systems.

Lt. Stowe is evidently not alone in this, at least not in the MPD. Clearly, as shown in a 1993 US General Accounting Office study presented to Congress (unfortunately it's not online right now) police abuses of the NCIC online criminal information system have been widespread historically, nationwide. The report detailed abuses nationwide, whereby some person would contact a friendly local officer with access to the system, and use that to gather information on individuals. There have even been murderers convicted who have used information obtained in this manner to stalk their victims. One such convicted murderer was himself a police officer, taking advantage of his position of access to locate his victim. Other documented abuses include a case in Texas, where officers used NCIC information to stalk a suspected drug-dealer, manipulating the information base to allow their personal gain through appropriations of property siezed under "proceeds of drug dealing" forfeiture laws. The Department of Justice and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) do have a plan to impliment a new system which provides for greater security, access-control, and in particular will provide for individual accountability - which is not expected to be implimented until sometime in the beginning of the next century.

The GAO report offers the conclusion that, among other things, there needs to be a much more strict set of controls and in particular increased accountability as regards who may access which terminals at which times, and indeed the report notes that in many police stations nationwide, there are no access controls.

Lt. Stowe evidently took advantage of this.

According to Inspector Hoppert, so have countless other MPD officers. In fact, allegations have surfaced involving illegal appropriations of property by various officers involved in illegal or unauthorized searches, which allegations involve falsified entries into the NCIC and other nationwide criminal-intelligence online databases, said falsifications involving bad reporting of stolen property, and in some cases, it has been alleged elsewhere, police officers have entered falsified data into the national online crime systems simply to ruin the lives of personal enemies, or of persons believed or perceived to be enemies of the MPD or of certain squads in the MPD. As stated, there is almost no accountability for individual users of the input terminals of this system. As a result, literally thousands of entries in the nationwide LEAA and NCIC database systems are suspected as bogus. And due to the shoddy recordskeeping in the MPD, the truth may never be known to what extent bad cops have entered false data. Worse, it may never be fully known to what degree good cops have done wrong acting in good faith on this bad data.

Combine this with the incredibly poor management of the evidence warehouse, and criminal and civil lawyers are expected to have not only a field-day, but a heyday. This single disclosure places the entire MPD, not only a police force - but as a records-system entry/access point - under the highest order of suspicion, not only from the public, but also by assorted elected and appointed officials who may rightly wonder to what extent they have been the subject of collection of incriminating data by bad cops in the MPD, and may more rightly wonder to what extent they could be subject to compromise or career-destruction by uncontrolled manipulation of national police-intelligence online systems by bad cops with uncontrolled input access.

Indeed, one may wonder to what degree certain elements of the MPD have become a government within a government, capable of influencing national and international politics through disclosure, failure to disclose, or threat to disclose information which may have been gathered illegally, or which might exist solely due to falsifications of records within the one department that could possibly correct such falsified records. This is absolute power, or at least the potential - and this is the one place that such things simply must not be.

If this was just another sleepy southern town characterized by an entrenched political machine and a crony-ridden corrupt police department this would just be another example of "old-hat" and "what's so unusual/problematic about that". However, this is after all the self-proclaimed Capital of the Free World - and all-too-much is at risk.

One might further wonder to what degree all possible participants in oversight authorities may already be operating under threat of compromise by corrupt elements of the department. One can only hope, as demonstrated elsewhere, that the Metropolitan Police Department's bad cops are simply too incompetent and petty to have originated a scheme of such scale - and to further hope that no bad cops have been similarly compromised by hostile foreign or transnational-criminal or intelligence organizations... who inarguably might have, if not the competence nor access, at least a sufficiently grand and megalomaniacal vision.

Of course I'm just being paranoid. There is no such thing as, and has never been such a thing as, a District Hatchet Job. Well, okay, it's been known to happen, if only in unseriously-whimsical fiction.

Business News

The regional Bell company, Bell Atlantic, will spend over $4 million on a project to wire the District schools to the Internet. The money comes from the Bell Atlantic Telecommunications Intrastructure Assistance Fund, which was created by Bell Atlantic to help pursuade the DC Public Service Commission to change regulation structures pertaining to the company.

Half of the money will be spent on new computers, support and training for the sadly-equipped school system, which has in recent times fallen into a receivership, experienced court-ordered closings and a late start-of-classes.

This is seen by Internet insiders as an extremely astute business move for Bell Atlantic. This should not, however, be perceived as a "freebie" - after all, Bell Atlantic expects to gain extremely-favored treatment from the DC Government. Bell Atlantic faces extreme competition from, among others, District-based MCI Communications, which if successfully merged with British Telecom, will become one of the world's-largest telecommunications companies. Under the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, companies such as MCI which were formerly not permitted to expand into local-service markets, are now attempting to expand rapidly into those local-service markets. MCI offers its own Internet access services as well.

Petworth Reconstruction

(Culled and expanded-upon from an article from the Washington Post 16 December 1997.)

On 9 December 1997 we reported that, among other things, the continued deterioration of the Petworth Area of the District (presently suspected as a stalking ground for a suspected serial-killer) was due to the horrific deterioration and compartmentalization of the neighborhood due to the long-term disruptions which accompanied Metrorail construction. We noted that the station had been officially completed as of the date of that report.

On Monday, 15 December 1997, US Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater, accompanied by other Federal and District officials, announced that of roughly $166 million of Federal highway funds allocated to the District for city street repair and construction, roughly $5 millions would be dedicated to repairing and improving the streets and sidewalks in this area, which has of late come to resemble a bombed-out warzone.

Improvements are to include new greenery, hopefully some public streetside parkspace such as benches and similar facilities that would tend to increase public enjoyment of the neighborhood, which had pretty-much been eliminated by the long years of Metro construction. As public amenities were ripped apart or isolated from public-safety accessability, the neighborhood, once a solid bastion of a poor-but-respectable black lower-middle class, degenerated into a haven of maze-like jumbled alleys and inaccessible businesses, many of which have gone under or barely cling to economic life.

Along with the reconstruction around the construction-damaged area, there will be an extreme resurfacing of the surrounding streets. Some of the money is going towards the purchase of unspecified new road-repair equipment, surely need by the entire District. One can only hope that the news surfaces laid will be of the newly-rediscovered technique of admixing extremely-fine ash to all concretes. Recent experimentation, seeking ways to eliminate the troublesome and environmentally-hazardous "fly-ash" generated by industrial smokestack scrubbers, discovered that by disposing of the fly-ash by mixing it into concrete creates an extremely durable and resilient concrete. While ordinary concrete in Washington DC's climate has a half-life of roughly 30 years, it has been noted that a great deal of the concrete poured by the Roman Empire (in a very similar climate) has lasted over 2000 years - and the Romans were noted for adding to their concrete extremely-fine ash from neighboring volcanos. Scientific analysis of these two phenomena has led to new concretes which cost no more than the types previously used, but which can be expected to be last for perhaps a millenium outside of castings carrying vehicular traffic. We can only hope that these new concretes will be used... and that the Petworth Renaissance will be a harbinger not of misery, despair, desperation and death; but that it will rise like the proverbial Phoenix as a symbol of rebirth into a newly extended span that might last as long as has Rome.

(Please forgive me for the attack of hopeful rhetoric. It's going to take a lot more than new pavement to fix Petworth. More as the situation develops.)

Other Other News

Moving right along from roads to roads - A report from the General Accounting Office faults the District Government management of Federal Highway funds. Ordered to establish a stand-alone trust fund to hold the money allocated in 1995 by special Federal legislation, the city cannot demonstrate that it collected all of the fuel taxes which were supposed to be paid into the fund (before this fund was established, the city paid the tax receipts into a general city fund), nor can it be demonstrated that their records are anything other than, to quote the GAO, "unreliable".

The GAO and the DC Department of Public Works' Office of Planning and Policy have been working together to rectify the situation. According to the GAO auditor, Gloria L. Jarmon, "...the District is already trying to address the weaknesses we address." Some of these weaknesses include an apparent loss or misdirection of over a million dollars in fuel taxes from one supplier alone, an antiquated computer system, and complete disorganization.

Ms Jarmon notes that if the District cannot properly account for their expenditures of Federal disbursements, future allocations and disbursements may be reduced, delayed, or completely stopped. Repeated similar failures-of-documentation has, over the last seven years, caused delays and in fact outright blockages of Federal housing monies from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

US Attorney's Office Stakes Its Claim
Another Independent Probe Into The Metro Police Department
Mayor Barry Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot, Demands More Money, Criticizes President

18 December 1997
First, Marion Barry.

The Mayor has assured himself a future career in stand-up comedy as possibly the premiere "straight-man" of political humor.

One thing you've got to hand to Bill Clinton, he's a funny guy himself. His press conferences are often marked with his characteristic humor. A wry grin and a few southernisms often segue, however, into seriousness. When asked:

About a year ago, you first voiced your vision and your thoughs about the District of Columbia and where we ought to be going. And since then, frankly, you've been very active. You've worked with the Congress to get a legislative plan passed that calls for financial recovery and restructuring. And yet the city leaderrs are criticizing you here. They say you haven't done enough. They apparently expected something at your church service even though you said, in effect, not to expect that much. How do you respond to this kind of criticism, and what kind of thoughts might you have on thefuture from taxes, commuter taxes, anything like that you might be thinking about in response?

The President replied:

It's almost a citizen responsiblity to criicize the president. Why be an American if you can't criticize the president.

... The District of Columbia, I think, has a lot of acumulated frustration. There are people who live here, hwo have put their roots down here, love this city deeply. They see folks like me come and go, have our roots elsewhere. But there really is, wuth all the problems in the District of Columbia, there is a passionate live for it among the people who have lived here. And I want to see that love redeemed. And I want this city to be something: A place that every single American can be truly proud of. But I can't do everything that everybody in the city wants me to do as soon as they want me to do it.

Furthermore, there are some things that will have to be done by people here themselves. Folks here want more Home Rule. They'd like - there were people in our meeting, the leaders' meeting, who want more home rule. they'd like to see an elected official represented on the Control Board, for example.

But with more freedom comes more responsibility. And actions must be taken to restore the confidence of the people of the District of Columbia in the school systems, not just in some schools, not just in teachers, in the school system.

Action must be taken to restore the confidence of the people of the District of Columbia in law enforcement generally, not just in some precincts or some police officers, but in law enforcement generally.

We know now - we know now from schools I could show you in the District of Columbia, that urban schools with poor children in dificult neighborhoods can perform at very high levels. Every school has to be able to perform in that way.

We know that in urban environments with very dificult circumstances, children can be made safe and crime can be made low. And that ought to be done in the District of Columbia.

I will do everything I can to help. There is more that the Federal Government can do. And so I would say to the people who are frustrated with me, keep on pushing. Push me. Push the Congress. Push the Federal Government. There is more to do. But in the end, a city is formed and made by the people who live in it and shape its life day in and day out.

I want to be a good partner. I don't mind the fact that some people with greater ambitions are still disappointed even though we've done some very sweeping things. But there still has to be a lot more done here as well.

I agree.

But Mayor Marion Barry doesn't. Being an epitome of a good citizen, he's decided to criticize the president.

In fact, The Mayor has decided, insofar as anyone can tell, to follow the same line of though as do many teenagers when told by their parents that their folks don't think they're quite ready to take the family car out fo a night on the town. The mayor said, in response to Mr. Clinton, "'If we act more responsibly, we'll give you more freedom.' What kind of nonsense is that?"

The Mayor has also asked for an increase in his allowance. He wants another $750 millions from the Federal treasury. Keep in mind that the Feds have already, as part of the District Revitalization Act, removed an immense burden from the City of Washington by assuming the staggering unfunded pensions mandate and assuming funding and operational responsiblities for most of the city functions which would ordinarily be assumed by a State.

The Mayor is evidently not only miffed that he doesn't get to borrow the car, but also because he was, in effect, told that he's not getting an increase in the allowance since the folks just bought him a whole new wardrobe.

If his behavior can be expected to follow the standard teen logic, the Mayor might be expected to have a tantrum, possibly storm off to his room and slam the door and sulk. And thus will he demonstrate his high level of responsibility.

He already admits that he's responsible for the condition of the District. In fact, he says in response to the president's remark about the city leaders' need to inspire the public and fill them with confidence in their elected officials, "We've been more than responsible..."

In fact, we personally would tend to say that the buck clearly stops at the Mayor's desk, when it comes to responsibility for the state of affairs in Washington, the District of Columbia.

Personally, I am taking the president's advice to heart. But let's not push the president, after all he's got the entire nation to look out for - instead, let's push Mayor Marion Barry... right out of office.

As the president says, "a city is formed by the people who live in it and shape it day in and day out"... and the City would not be demonstrating sufficient responsibility were it to return to office the person who admits responsibility - while exercising none.

Metropolitan Police Department

Acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Mary Lou Leary, wrote a letter to DCFRA Control Board Chairman Andrew F. Brimmer, wherein she stated (according, as always to the Washington Post:

The US Attorney's office cannot and will not support and efforts that will in any way supplant, impinge upon, place in a subordinate role, or otherwise interfere with the historical and statutory responsibility of the US Attorney's office to investigate and prosecute criminal wrongdoing in the District of Columbia.

The spokesman for the US Attorney's office made it very clear that whatever impact the proposed "inspector-general" might have on the investigatory process, the decision to prosecute (or not) is reserved to the US Attorney's Office.

Phillips did not exactly come right out and say, that letting the Mayor or his appointees run an investigation that almost certainly leads right back to the Mayor and his appointees and other cronies, is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse, but it is noted that Leary is establishing a special task force that includes the FBI and the police department's internal-affairs division.

Infrastructure Report Details Staggering Costs

Close to $3 billion must be spent over the next six to ten years to repair the city' infrastructure, says a report soon-to-be-released by the US Department of Transportation and the DC Department of Public Works.

Washington DC has a reputation for truly-amazingly deteriorated public thoroughfares. At least a decade of neglect (Metrorail has gotten almost all transportation monies) has combined with increasing traffic to so damage the city's streets that over 600 miles of streets need significant repairs. Mayor Barry had once promised that if a pothole was discovered and called-in to his office, it'd be fixed within a working day. For a time, this was true enough - a city truck would show up, and pour in a cheap gruel of diluted asphalt barely sufficient to hold gravel in place for a week or so. If such a patch-job lasted through an entire year, as a rule that would be because people had learned better than to drive on a barry-patch, or it might just stick to their tires and rip right out of the pavement. In recent years, Washington traffic has become a bizarre game of "Dodge-Em", with lightly-trafficked streets becoming home to the "Washington Weave", as cars dart from side to side trying to avoid the potholes, which in some cases have been known to swallow entire wheels. Shock-absorber salesmen in the District are recording record sales, as are mechanics specializing in suspension repair and wheel alignments. On the heavily-trafficked streets, all one can do is to drive slowly enough so that when the pothole is hit, it won't rip the front end right out of your car. While nationwide, the popularity of Sports/Utility vehicles is simply a fashion fad, in Washington DC, vehicles intended to navigate treacherous broken terrain are not only fashionable, but essential. At no time does this become more clear than after snowfalls - if the cheap barry-patches didn't rip out of the pavement during the summer, they'll assuredly be scraped out by any snowplows that might happen to actually plow a street.

Mayor Barry wants a commuter tax to help pay for all of this. Surrounding jurisdictions have essentially declared all-out war on that idea. It must be noted here that a great number of businesses which had considered locating in the District proper have instead chosen to establish their headquarters in the surrounding jurisdictions, due to much-lower crime, taxes and trafic. It must also be noted that the District has suffered a flight of over one-sixth of its population in the last decade, with most of the flight being by middle-class citizens moving to be closer to the jobs waiting in the booming Maryland and Virginia suburbs. District taxes are already very high, the traffic congestion is the second-worse in the nation, and concerns about fiscal collapse and other matters have affected a great many business facility-location decisions, including site-placement decisions by major Federal agencies.

The city will be looking at a shortfall of approximately $150 million per year as regards transport-infrastructure replacement. Some of the cost-load may be taken up by other regional jurisdictions, in particular through the emerging "out-routing" of public transportation. As the suburbs assume an ever-increasing role in the regional economy, we see the addition of new public-transit routes which completely avoid the downtown areas, instead travelling the local highways in a curcumferential mode.

"It's Just Gone To Hell"
Disarray in District Medical Examiner's Office Leaves Unresolved the Causes of 2000 Deaths

22 December 1997

"It's just gone to hell."

Those are the exact words of John Pless, professor of pathology, and director of the forensic pathology department at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He's also the president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. He's referring to the state of the once-estimable Medical Examiner's Office in the District of Columbia.

On Thanksgiving, somewhat overshadowed by the news Police Chief Larry Soulsby's resignation following disclosures that his roommate, Jeffrey Stowe, had been Federally-charged with embezzlement of police funds and attempted extortion, EarthOps reported that Professor (or is that properly Doctor?) Pless had been quoted by the Post as saying "[b]asically, what you have here is a system that doesn't have the capacity to discriminate the subtle deaths, and it takes a high level of experience and training to do that."

Add to this the lack of co-ordination between the M.E's Office and the Metropolitan Police Department's embattled homicide division, and one wonders exactly how many murders were written off as "undetermined cause of death". We noted on Thanksgiving day that there was an increasing public perception of a probably serial killer preying on drug-using women in the Petworth neighborhood in NorthWest DC, and an increasing public perception of incompetence in the medical-examiner's office.

We at EarthOps also raised the possibility, left mostly glossed-over by the Post at that time, that the Medical Examiner's office had, through it's "undetermined cause of death" policy, left a possibly-outrageous number of possible murders completely uninvestigated, with not so much as a red flag on a file folder to provoke future investigations.

But we had no idea that there had been so many mysterious deaths. After EarthOps initial suggestion to this effect, the Washington Post evidently went to the District's Department of Health and started digging. They got figures that are simply intolerable. The National Center for Health Statistics reports covering the District for the period from 1984 to 1994, there were some 1800 deaths occurring under "mysterious circumstances" which were recorded by the District's Medical Examiner's Office as "undetermined cause of death" and which remain unresolved to this day. Please note that all of these deaths were of persons in the 15-to-44 age group, young to middle-aged adults, presumably in reasonably good health.

One simply has to wonder if they died by foul play, and nobody noticed. In many cases, the M.E.'s was able to determine a cause of death, but was, due to poor coordination between themselves and the Metropolitan Police, unable to determine the circumstances of death.

The District's Homicide division had been cursed with a truly dismal closure-rate of some 35-percent of murder cases in this year. This means that in only 35 percent of cases was an arrest made or a warrant issued - this does not mean that 35 percent of murderers were brought to trial and convicted - in murder trials, except in completely open-and-shut cases, of those arrested and brought to trial, perhaps one fifth will be convicted of any charge sufficient to have them imprisoned for any period of time greater than two years. That's nationwide... in the District, with the extremely high prevalence of successful witness-intimidation, the conviction-rate is much lower.

It would appear that neither the police department, nor the medical examiner's office, are capable of telling if someone's died by foul play unless they have extremely obvious evidences of their mortality, such as gaping gunshot wounds or obvious stab wounds - and even then, there seems to be a reluctance (or inability) to fully determine the circumstances in which people have died or been killed, ofr for that matter if they died, or were killed.

And so, a month later, prompted by an article in the Post which essentially repeats our question, in slightly greater detail, we again ask:

Is the murder rate really going down in Washington DC, or are the murderers simply switching to techniques for which they know District law enforcement is simply unequipped to detect, or to adequately respond?

The Post article notes that many other states (notably such places as California and Florida, two states noted for attracting serial killers) have instituted a so-called "death review" which coordinates the resources of multiple agencies and resources to attempt to absolutely determine not only causes of death, but also background circumstances. The District has no such procedures. For instance, earlier this year it came to light that a report by one such resource, the National Drug Intelligence Center, had been received by the District's Homicide division and had been promptly back-shelved by then-Captain Alan Dreher. This report essentially solved over 100 murders, handing solutions to the District police "on a silver platter" and it was completely ignored.

One-time Homicide Captain Lou Hennessy notes that over roughly the last decade there were close to 100 cases of mysterious deaths of women in SouthEast Washington alone - the typical victim was reported as a female with a drug history, found partially clothed, but with no apparent cause of death. In 1995, a special task force found that some 42 deaths ruled homicides, and some 46 ruled "undetermined" were unsolved. It was at one time considered a given that at least some of these deaths were the work of a serial killer, but the city's financial problems, and a degenerating police force, halted investigations into these deaths in late 1995.

One of the most curious factors common to many of these deaths is, at least to my knowledge, is a complete lack of a determination of the cause of death - or at least, there seems to be no awareness at all of the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

Some will place the blame on an incompetent police force with antiquated procedures which have failed to adapt to a new generation of criminal technique. Others may blame it on a medical-examiner's office that is held in contempt by medical examiners nationwide. But we will venture the opinion that it is not merely a combination of both above-cited factors, but will also suggest the possibility, or in fact, even the likelihood, that the serial killer or serial killers who seem to be choosing the victims that nobody will miss, is also choosing techniques designed to evade both the police and the M.E.'s office. He will never be caught until there is an incredible improvement in the capabilities of the M.E's office, and a co-ordinated and concerted effort between the MPD and the M.E. as well as national-level experts on the psychological profile of the serial-killer.

Here's my guess at the profile: The killer does not live in the areas where the victims are found, but is a common enough sight there (and has been for so long) so as to not attract notice nor suspicion. He's also probably between the ages of 32 to 45, has no legitimate regular work, and is intensely involved in the local "underclass". While not a local, he is intimately familiar with the parks, margins, and alleys of several neighborhoods. This person also probably has a great deal of familiarity with police work, and may have at one time been a policeman or military policeman. When his residence or lair is finally discovered, he will be seen to have amassed a great deal of worthless brick-a-brack, and will be in many ways very disorganized, though he may be scrupulous about his personal appearance. This person, while acting alone in their foul deed, will be shown to be an adept manipulator of "enablers", and in fact may already be well-known to local police, with some of whom it is quite likely that he's developed some relationship. He will be noted for constantly name-dropping and those who know him might perceive him to be something of a megalomaniac in many ways. He will also be noted for his general lack of true humor except as regards other people's misfortunes, and they will be notorious for gloating. Most people will have little to do with this person as they will believe that he has no respect for others and little for himself. However, they may also be polite and urbane and well-spoken when it suits them. If they are employed, they may be employed in a service capacity such as a waiter or a counterperson. This person will have an experienced familiarity with local prostitutes most of whom will by now be reluctant to have any dealings with him. They will remember him as being particularly abusive, verbally if not necessarily violently. This person may be very large, and in particular may be obese.

The above may also be a composite of two individuals sharing many, but not all, of the above-mentioned traits.

Increased cooperation between the M.E.'s office and the MPD will, at any rate, tend to leave a great deal less uncertainty as to the cause and circumstances of these deaths, which are at present not being listed as homicides, suicides, or accidents, and are thus not being calculated into the vital statistics of the region. If the M.E. cannot classify the cause of death through the assistance of the MPD, cases are left marked only as "undetermined" and without suspicion of homicide, no investigation is made... and without that investigation, the M.E. cannot make the classifications. A huge hole made by circular logic is evidently allowing two or three people per month to slip through the cracks into an unknown obscurity... with no hope of any solution anywhre in sight.

Season's Greetings to Everyone!

Santa Comes to Town!
Chief Management Officer Selected
No more "King Log" - "King Stork" has arrived (Aesop)

26 December 1997
On Monday, 22 December 1997, The
DCFRA Control Board announced the selection of a Chief Management Officer. The position will be filled by one Camille C. Barnett, a very reputable city manager from Texas, who has extensive experience with somewhat troubled cities marked by intensely politicized local government.

Ms. Barnett has served as a deputy city manager in Dallas in the mid-1980s, leaving for Houston in 1988. She left Houston in the midst of an intense political battle over a mayoral promotion from financial officer to chief administrative officer, and went to Austin in 1989 to become their city manager. Austin, the capital of the great state of Texas, is perhaps not so large as is Washington, nor is it filled with so large a percentage of persons on one or another forms of public relief; however, Austin did indeed have its own problems - among which were a very large transient, homeless and immigrant community, and during those years Austin was not markedly better-off than was any other city in recession-stricken America. The City of Austin, under and after Ms. Barnett's administration was also, in a state often derided for "second-classing" minorities, considered a bellwether of progressive desegregation and equal-opportunities in the workplace. She did appoint the first woman police chief in Austin, and it must be added that the Austin Police department has at present a fairly good reputation in law-enforcement circles. Also, the City of Austin bureaucracy was characterized by a skillful coordination of resources from Federal, State and County, and the seamlessness of this integration was something of a joy to behold when I personally experienced some of the joys of interaction with the City of Austin bureaus during my own experience of homelessness in 1994, I must state that I found the Austin bureaucracies to be extremely efficient and responsive.

This last is just what Washington needs - efficiency, and responsiveness.

It should also be noted that it was during Ms. Barnett's management that the Austin Police Department found itself newly in possession of extremely modernized equipment, including the latest in information-system and telecommunications infrastructure - brand new cars with telemodem-linked laptops gave officers instant access to the latest information and such online resources as were then extant - something to which the embattled and woefully-underequpped Metropolitan Police Department can look forward to seeing implimented in their own force.

Ms. Barnett has quite a fearsome reputation. She herself owns up to her nickname of Dragon Lady, and evidently she gets things done. She's not exactly known for exhibiting a lit of personal finesse, but then again, she's not here to make friends - but to do a job. Known for being willing to step on toes to get a job done, she's expected to quite possibly rip and shred starting roughly 15 January 1998. She will be placed in a position of day-to-day managerial oversight, according to the Washington Post, over the nine agencies which were stripped from the control of Mayor Marion Barry when the Control Board was ordered to take over. There has been substantial and ongoing comment about memebers of the Control Board being primarily "bean-counters" and theoreticians. This criticism should be silenced rapidly, as the "top-down leadership contingent" of professional management is dropped into place.

Mayor Barry, predictably, was outraged by the appointement of a complete outsider with no ties to Washington (and presumably none to his administration nor the powerstructure he's salted around the town for the last 20 years). He also raised cain about the pay Ms. Barnett will be receiving, $155,000 annually on a five-year contract. That's some $65,000 more anually than the Mayor himself receives. Barry does note that this management contract is nearly-unheard-of, primarily because this five-year contract completely removed the city manager from the influence of local political maneuvering. Thus, rather than serving at the pleasure of the local fatcats and bigwigs, the city manager is free to do what's needful, isntead of worrying about whose toes she's stepping-on - and it's this last worry which has, in my opinion, led us to the present state of affairs. The opportunity for corruption is greatly lessened when there are powerful oversight forces outside of the control of the local political machine.

The Mayor has other problems. Increasingly coming under fire for having presided over a corruption of the management of the Metropolitan Police Department, with something of a scandal erupting over possibly-improper overtime requests from officers attached to his personal-security retinue, he's arranged for private security forces to attend ot he security of his family and personal property.

Also, lest there be any misunderstanding, we'd like to thank all of the rank-and-file of hard-working District police officers, for having mostly done their best under appalling circumstances with delapidated equipment in a city that's been falling apart for the last 20 years. While there are still many unresolved questions regarding possible institutionalized corruption in some of the higher ranks and in the management divisions, Let's make it clear that our hats are off for the brave and true men and women who daily risk their lives to protect ours. While public opinion of the District police may be at an all time low, it must be noted that with the rapid changes taking place in management, with resignations and dismissals leaving heads rolling all over the place, the honest and the diligent will find themselves being moved up into the managerial and command ranks, all on the basis of merit rather than cronyism. The force can only improve. Let's not slam the force, let's slam any corruption in it - the two are definitely not synonymous.

And let's look forward to the changes we'll see when at last the assessment phase of the Revitalization comes to an end, and passes into the action phase. Through the month of February, we expect to see a quiet positioning of the forces of renaissance, and let's only hope that the spring will bring with it a new era of rebirth and growth as the last of the winter weeds give way to an explosion of new life in a town that sadly needs it.

More commentary is to come!

As always, my thanks to the fine staff of The Washington Post for their diligence and forthrightness in reporting District issues.

Please search the Post for their previous coverages of:
Police Department Mismanagement
Control Board Coverage.
Get a District Government Executive Position!
Please apply your exemplary credentials and experience towards the reclamation of our Nation's Capital!

I am restructuring the Washington DC pages - the admittedly weird (but you ain't seen nothin' yet!) original Washington: Not a Pretty Site Page is here. Oh, before you go - a clue to the sarcasm-impaired: That page and most associated pages adhere strictly to my policy "if you can't beat them and you can't join them, mock them 'til their eyes bleed."

I'm also starting a page for the " other real Washington" - not necessarily the good parts, but the fun parts.

Other Voices, Other Visions

DC OnLine - Analyses and Solutions. This is an excellently-linked page to a wide array of local-level and national-level thought concerning Washington.
Washington DC City Pages - Links to everywhere (including here!) complete with reviews, a top-10 list, dining resources, you name it.
An Outside View - please see the British National Party's Tale of Two Cities Page. Page down and see the review of Washington. Insofar as I can tell, a radical foreign British party shares most of Earth Operations Central's views of Washington. They rate Washington as a Third World City. Unfortunately they're right.
DC Darkside - Doug Thompson. As far as I am concerned there is no better reporter in this area. The Man should get a Nobel Prize. This, my friends, and my enemies, is the truth about Washington DC... and in many ways, eversomuch moreso, it's about life. Read it and weep for your society, for everything about Washington is merely a harbinger, a bellwhether, of everything the national society will accept as standard and de-rigeur ten years from now. So read, and weep, and fix Washington, DC - and adjust your nation's future. And get a kick right in the middle of your soul's heart as well. This site is only for the bold and those who take enough Prozac as to be unable to care... or you might just go out and do something.
National Association to Restore Pride in the Nation's Capital. "NARPAC, Inc. was formed last year because a small group of concerned citizens in the Washington, DC area believe that the Nation's Capital has become a national disgrace, and that it will take national attention and action to restore pride in it as a symbol of our hopes and dreams for the future." Earth Operations Central absolutely agrees, provided that the fear and loathing is also extended to the surrounding suburbs. They have an excellent links page.
DC Military. This website is run by Comprint Military Publications, a Gaithersburg MD outfit that targets military bases for delivery of Gazette-style newspapers.
DCWatch. Very informative, and covers most of the issues I don't cover, with considerably more local-level detail which would be of greater concern to neighbors.
Global Warming might put Washington DC underwater - from the Environmental Defense Fund.
Plausible Reality Extrusion Group. And boy can they extrude! They're considerably more extrusive than I am, but a lot less wacky. They've got some excellent resources associated with their pages, and lots of links to Washingtoniana.
The Washington Fun and Recreation Page.
Wash Web.
The Greater Washington Page. I don't know who's behind this slick piece of promotion, but these folks are determined to get people to relocate their businesses to the Greater Washington Metropolitan Region. Their Quality of Living page does have a lovely picture of the scenic grandeur of the Great Falls of the Potomac, but if you got this far in this page and can be convinced that there's anything remotely resembling a "quality of life" around this town, you need remedial education. This is, as best I can tell, a put-on by the Chamber of Commerce or something. If they don't get a grip, I'll have to parody them. This is a hugely-desperate attempt to sell Washington DC to the business community. As far as pages go, or as advertisement goes, this is indeed a lovely page, and very well-done.
Official Washington DC Homepage.

What Works Elsewhere

New York City Partnership & Chamber of Commerce. New York City has been praised nationwide as a city that has successfully revitalized itself. Crime is at an all-time low and the city's economy is booming. Perhaps people should take a look at what works there, perhaps similar approaches would work in the District.

Visit the Earth Page. Save your Homeworld!
Visit the Business MetaIndex Page.
Visit the Computing MetaIndex Page.
Visit the Sciences MetaIndex Page.
Visit the Earth Operations Central District Office. Try a Glimpse HTTP Search (searches HTML content).
Go back to the main EarthOps Homepage.