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27. Which community organizations in the District of Columbia support the
Hon. Walter Tobriner, President, Board of Commissioners
John Layton, Chief, Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia Newspapers and Radio-Television Stations which support the President's Reorganization Plan :
28. Which organizations are known to oppose the Reorganization Plan?
Mr. McMILLAN. We will have to stop when the bells ring.
Mr. CARLINER. This is Mr. Thornton, treasurer of the City Committee for the Support the President's Reorganization Plan with me.
Mr. McMILLAN. We are happy to hear any statement you care to make.
Mr. CARLINER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appear here as cochairman of the community organization, the Committee for the Support the President's Reorganization Plan, which comprises some 47 community organizations in the District of Columbia. I think it is appropriate and fair to state that these represent the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the District of Columbia because these 47 organizations include among its supporters the major organizations concerned with comunity problems. They include the Health and Welfare Council of the District of Columbia, which embodies all the agencies which deal with those problems.
It includes the Greater Council of Churches which embodies all the Protestant churches in the community. It includes the Catholic Archdiocese within the District of Columbia and all the Catholic churches. It includes the Jewish Community Council which embraces all the Jewish communal organizations.
In addition, the 47 organizations include the Greater Washington Council of the American Federation of Labor, the central labor unions, and represents all the labor organizations, including significantly those organizations which are here to protect the rights of government, including the District of Columbia Government Employees. We also include the major organizations concerned with interracial problems and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Washington Urban League, the Coalition of Conscience and various women's organizations, League of Women Voters as well as the Washington Federation of Women's Clubs.
I know there are citizens of the District of Columbia who are opposed to the reorganization plan and to the embodiment of that plan which Mr. Nelsen's bill includes. This is as it should be because no community has a unanimity of opinion. We respect the rights of organizations which are opposed to a plan and give their views on it. We believe that this committee is cognizant of the wishes of the citizens of the District of Columbia and that the record will show that the groups which I have the privilege of representing do include an overwhelming number of the citizens of the entire city.
The first issue that I would like to address myself to, if I may, is the very appropriate question I believe which you yourself have raised. I know Mr. Winn earlier raised, and various other members of the committee have raised the question of: Is there a need for change?
I know that I have heard it said that the members of this committee have heard no showing that the present Commissioner form of government has not worked efficiently and competently both to serve the in
terests of the citizens of the District of Columbia and served also the necessary and legitimate federal interests in this city.
I may say to you categorically that the need for change is compelling. It is urgent and it is necessary now. Sitting in this air conditioned sanctuary here, you may not be aware there is a state of tension and crisis in the District of Columbia. Not a night has gone by there has not been rumors of a riot occurring someplace, whatever the cause for the rumor may be, or whatever the case for the riot may be. I do not have competence to judge.
Ěven tonight some 70 leaders representing the business, labor and church community are meeting in emergency session in order to address themselves to the urgent problems which concern the District of Columbia. I could go into great detail if I had the time to specify the programs which are in a state of collapse. I need only cite to you, I believe, the statement made by Mr. Ancher Nelsen who is, as you know, a dedicated member of this committee and who has long been working on various community problems.
Mr. Nelsen, when he testified before the House Government Operations Committee, stated that the planning activities of the District of Columbia Government with regard to urban problems is—and these are his words—“in a state of anarchy."
It is difficult for me to say where to begin. Let me begin, if I may, with one program that cuts across all lines in the community. It is a program that affects the rich and poor. It affects black and white. It affects the young and old. It affects male and female. It is program of the District or lack of program of the D. C. Government with regard to the treatment of alcoholics in our city.
People have tended to brush the problem of alcoholics, and this is a poor metaphor, under the table. The fact of the matter is that in recent years, in the most recent year for which there are statistics, the Police Department of the District of Columbia has made approximately 45,000 arrests of persons for being drunk in public. It is estimated that of these 45,000 people almost a large majority of them are repeaters or people who are chronically ill. The rest are time and time again where they go into jail, come out and are arrested again. We do not have the exact figures but it is estimated some 20,000 people are subject to the multiple arrest. This is a problem that not only affects these people as human beings but it is a problem that affects crime enforcement in the District of Columbia.
We, you and I and all of us who live here, are alarmed by the lack of adequate enforcement of our laws and by the failure of the community agencies to deal with the criminals. The fact of the matter is, and I have been there I am an attorney and I have been in the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions. I have seen the sorry spectacle of policemen wasting their time in that court morning after morning and getting up in an undignified demonstration, telling a judge that a particular man was drunk the night before.
This is a policeman who could well spend his time on other activities more critical to the District. It is estimated that the cost of this activity runs from $1,700,000 a year. I will not go into detail here, but this happens to be one of the activities of which I have particular pride since I happen to be the person in the District of Columbia who initiated several years ago the test litigation which resulted in the unani
mous decision of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia against Dewitt Ester, which held that alcoholism is an illness. People who are chronical alcoholics should not be placed in jail. As a result of this decision there has been a total absence of coordinated and effective planning by the Board of Commissioners. We have had the spectacle of the Police Commissioner permitting the Police Department to continue to arrest persons who are drunk in public, treating them as if they were to continue to be criminals, take them to a police station where they are held overnight, brought into court the next morning where a judge decides they are chronic alcoholics.
At that point, the Welfare Commissioner and the Commissioner who is in charge of the correctional institution comes into play. That Commissioner, in failing to coordinate his activities with the Police Commissioner, has failed to provide any program of effective outpatient or in-patient facilities for the alcoholics.
The preparation of the facilities is the responsibility of the Engineer Commissioner. We have had the fantastic spectacle of the Engineer Commissioner moving them into a building in Washington, or attempting to decide where alcoholics should be placed. They first attempted to do it at Mount Alto Hospital. The neighbors in that area did not care to have drunks roaming around their streets. They then decided to put them in a building soon to be demolished, because of the new Inner City Freeway. That was a ridiculous proposal and that was soon abandoned. I am at a loss to understand how the Congress has permitted it.
At this time the alcoholics are now deposited in Occoquan, Congressman Broyhill's congressional district, and I thank him for the citizens of Washington for permitting this facility to be used. The fact of the matter is that it is a prison camp. It is being transformed but it does not meet the problem. I mention this in some detail because this has been characteristic of the lack of planning. I do not wish to spend too much time on it. I will file with the committee, if I may, a 42-page history of the problem of alcoholism in the District of Columbia which states the matter in great detail.
I would like to call to the attention of the committee that this matter has been of such crisis proportions that Representative Hagan of the
Mr. McMILLAX. Mr. Carliner, you have already filed this statement with Subcommittee No. 3 which has had hearings on alcoholics legislation.
Mr. CARLINER. If it is before the other committee, I do not need to have it reproduced in evidence here.
Mr. MCMILLAN. It will be in the proper place in the committee's records.
Mr. CARLINER. I would like to call this subcommittee's attention to it, particularly those members of the committee who are concerned about a demonstration of the need for change. This does not happen to be my statement. It was prepared by the Washington Council on Alcoholism. It is a 42-page document which sets forth in great detail with factual accuracy and objectivity what I think is fair to say is the scandalous handling of this problem by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia.
Mr. McMILLAX. We have completed hearings in Subcommittee No. 3 on that proposed legislation. Your statement has already been included in that record.
Mr. CARLINER. Very well. What I have said in regard to alcoholism, Mr. Chairman, can be repeated for virtually every other program handled by the District of Columbia Commissioners. The problem of the schools is one. I am aware that, Mr. Chairman, you have introduced a bill which would provide for an election of the Board of Education. I know Mr. Brown has introduced one. As one who believes in sufferance for the District of Columbia, I welcome your concern and desire to have an elected school board for the District of Columbia.
I must say this will not solve the problem of the D.C. schools. It will not reach the question of efficiency and management. The District of Columbia school system must, in order to determine what sites it uses, have the approval of the Zoning Commission, the Engineer Commission, and various other agencies of the D.C. Government. Its budget, although it initially writes its budget, the budget is ultimately submitted to the Bureau of the Budget and thereafter to this House, the Congress. It is written by the Board of Commissioners who listen to the beat of a different drum in determining what goes into the budget.
As Mr. Schwengel has testified, Mr. Hansen has not had the tools with which to do what he wanted in the District of Columbia. One of the reasons he has not had the tools, it is appropriate to say, has not simply been because the Congress failed to provide him with an adequate budget but it is because the Board of Commissioners, before the budget ever got to Congress, had cut the District of Columbia school system back.
It can not do, Mr. Chairman, to have merely an elected Board of Education and fail to deal with the decentralization and fragmentation of authority with regard to the school system. Mr. Nelsen, who testified before the House Government Operations Committee, has pointed to the more than three-year delay in establishing a new site for Shaw Junior High School.
This has become something of a city scandal because congressman after congressman has gone to Shaw High School. This was built in the late part of the 1890's and it has long been said that the school had to be torn down and replaced. Because of the diffusion of authority with regard to the District of Columbia school system, it has not been final and I think the other night the Board of Ėducation for its part has finally decided where the school should be. This is repeated in other kinds of functions of the Board of Education. Some of them are so ludicrous they should not bear mention.
Just the other day the Board of Commissioners which has control over the Corporation Counsel, who is also the attorney for the Board of Education, the Board of Education can not instruct its Corporation Counsel what the Corporation Counsel should do as a matter of legal policy representing that particular client. The instructions must come from the Board of Commissioners. It happened that the President of the Board of Commissioners took a well deserved vacation and while he was away the question arose whether the Corporation Counsel representing the Board of Education should take an appeal from Judge Skelly Wright's decision.