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|Fourth Quarter 1997
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In late November 1997, the Appleseed Center launched a DC project to examine the operations of the District of Columbia Council. The D.C. Council is the most powerful elected body remaining in District government, and, as such, has an obligation to help lead the District out of its current difficulties. While the Council has improved its effectiveness over the past several years, there remain significant areas in which Council operations can be improved.
The District's executive departments are currently undergoing congressionally mandated management reviews, but no such review has been mandated for the D.C. Council. To identify, from a non-partisan perspective, specific ways that the Council's operations can be improved, the DC Appleseed Center has assembled a volunteer task force that includes former Council Chair John Hechinger, Sr.; former Council Member William Lightfoot; former staff director of the Montgomery County Council Arthur Spengler; several members of the DC Appleseed Board of Directors, and other experienced attorneys with private firms, the federal government, and non-profit organizations. The D.C. Council task force will address operational issues including:
In 1998, DC Appleseed will publish its findings, make concrete recommendations and advocate adoption of those recommendations.
For the first time this year, DC Appleseed is participating in the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. If you or any of your friends and neighbors are federal employees, urge them to designate the DC Appleseed Center (#7033) as a recipient of their CFC contributions!
On November A, some 270 guests at the DC Appleseed Center/Appleseed Foundation annual dinner in Washington, D.C., heard both Katharine Graham (Chair of the Washington Post's Executive Committee) and Alice Rivlin (Vice-Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors) express the view that some progress has recently been made n solving the District's staggering management and financial problems, but much work remains to be done.
Mrs. Graham recounted the history of the District government since the beginning of Home Rule in 1975, including the involvement of The Washington Post. While emphasizing the recent downward spiral in D.C.finances and management, Mrs. Graham also recognized the hope offered by recent developments. In addition to the expectation that there will be improvements in the way D.C. government is managed, Mrs. Graham noted the recent progress made on the financial front, including Congress' August 1997 enactment of the DC Appleseed plan to return the unfunded pension liability to the federal government. She said "Appleseed was a highly effective, crucial player in enacting the District's current, encouraging steps to put its house in order."
Ms. Rivlin -- who chaired a 1990 task force that produced a seminal report on DC finance -- focussed on the challenges that lie ahead, which she summarized as creating "a set of plans that not only improve services and enhance economic development, and assure the financial viability of the City, but move step by step to restore authority and accountability to elected officials in this City." She was not critical of the Control Board, recognizing that -- while working under enormous pressure -- the Control Board has made significant strides toward restoring the District's fiscal health. She nonetheless challenged everyone who cares about the District -- including the 270-person audience of representatives from the firms and companies listed below -- to step forward and help return "accountable elected government" to the District.
Ms. Rivlin cited the DC Appleseed model of addressing problems as critical to the District's recovery: "( I ) take on real near term problems and try to find practical solutions, . . .(2) realize that nothing happens if you just write a paper and throw it over the transom you have to sit down with people who actually make decisions, work with them to draft a plan, and compromise on details to make something happen, and . . . (3) have good sense of the important values that have to be balanced in making public policy decisions, [such as] 'self determination is important, but so is getting government services that actually work.'"
The DC Appleseed Center appreciates substantial grants from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and The Harman Family Fund. Only through their support -- and that of individual donors -- can DC Appleseed continue its work. DC Appleseed also thanks the contributors who made our annual event on November 4, 1997, so successful, including:
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