Monday, December 29


Washington Post - D.C. officials are planning to privatize the city's mental health agency, a cost-cutting move that union leaders say would put about 200 health-care professionals out of work and force thousands of emotionally troubled residents to seek private care. . . They said city counselors provide care to the most difficult cases, people with deep psychiatric troubles. Those patients have developed a trust with their counselors and are less likely to make the transition to a private care provider

"What they're more concerned about are these vulnerable patients," said Vanessa Dixon, a labor representative for the Doctors Council of the District of Columbia. Unlike private agencies, Dixon said, the city treats patients regardless of whether the program is overbooked.

Private agencies "say, 'Oh, we can't see you right now. You have to come back in a month,' " Dixon said. "But you can't tell a mentally ill person to come back in a month. They need the medication immediately. When they don't get the medicine, they can't function in society at all. They can hurt themselves. It becomes a community issue more than just a family issue."


It's taken just over ten years for the Washington Post to figure out some of the consequences of the federal takeover of DC's prisons

Robert E. Pierre, Washington Post - Prisoners everywhere look forward to receiving letters and visitors from home. But for more than 6,500 District inmates, these visits are few and far between, because most of them are scattered in more than 70 federal prisons across the country, wherever the Bureau of Prisons can find space. It has been that way since 1997, when Congress transferred authority over District felons to the bureau and shut down Lorton Correctional Complex in Fairfax County, which was close to home but considered crowded and violent. . . "Why are they in North Dakota?" said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who plans to push for city teens to be brought closer to home. "It's a trip to the end of the earth.". . . "We the only black people in North Dakota," one of the inmates said, joking.

DC Examiner - For revelers expecting fancy food at their pricey inaugural balls, they ought not expect anything served fresh from the sea or frozen. 'Most events have to be delivered the day before' for security purposes, said Raz Nielsen, director of sales for Occasions Caterers. 'That takes out things like ice cream or raw seafood - we're not recommending sushi or raw bars.'

Mark Segraves, WTOP - The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed closing the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for the 11 days surrounding the inauguration. The U.S. Coast Guard says the restrictions are needed to "safeguard human life, vessels and waterfront facilities against sabotage or terrorist attacks." The closure on the Potomac River would apply to all boats from the Key Bridge in Georgetown down river to below the Wilson Bridge at Rosier Bluff. Boats already docked or anchored in that area before Jan. 14 could stay. The Anacostia River would have the same restrictions from New York Avenue/Route 50 to the the Potomac River. The proposal, which as yet to be finalized, says the restrictions will help the Coast Guard prevent people from bypassing security measures on shore. The Coast Guard may grant waivers or exemptions through the captain of the Port of Baltimore.

Paul Penniman, DC Watch - I recently parked at a broken meter for ten minutes, one of those clearly broken-for-weeks meters that is a prized spot. The ticket writer not only gave me a ticket but parked in a bus stop for a half hour while shopping for personal stuff. I had called in the broken meter, and so I appealed the ticket to adjudication services. They sent me a letter with some mumbo jumbo about "special software that monitors the meter status at all times. Outags (sic) and repair times are recorded by the software, which is then used to confirm whether there was an outage during the time period your ticket was issued. . . . the internal meter mechanism was tested, the meter status report was reviewed for the date and time of your violation . . . no outages were found on the date the violation occurred . . . the meter's internal mechanism was functioning properly." I walk past the meter several times a week, and it is still clearly broken. . . I have until the thirtieth to pay up, apparently. No in-person appeals are possible.

Washington Post - New rules have been proposed for D.C. public libraries, including a ban on sleeping and a limit on bringing in bags, in what library officials called an effort to make the system more welcoming. But Mary Ann Luby, an advocate for the homeless, said the bag and sleeping rules "are going to be hard on people." Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper said she expected the new rules to take effect Feb. 1 at the Martin Luther King Jr. library downtown and at the system's branches.

Two interesting long essays on DC democracy and representation - by Nell Schaffer and Eli Zigas - are now available free online. Even experienced anti-colonialists will find useful new information here. For example, Shaffer offers this summary of anti-DC comments made during the tumultuous 1990s:

"Columnist Richard Cohen described the District as a banana republic, while Mary McGrory wrote in the Washington Post that the city deserved to return to colonial status. The Economist expressed similar sentiment, calling Washington voters "uniformly indolent." George Will, in an editorial in the Washington Post, maintained that the District deserved to have its sovereignty repealed, accusing its voters of electing "charlatans and demagogues." Will deemed the removal of home rule an appropriate punishment to for Washington's residents who chose "to be corrupted by the culture of pandemic government, the debasement of living larcenously off wealth created by others." The bottom line, according to Will, was the city was "unfit for home rule."



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