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Government and People
Testimony of Mayor Anthony A. Williams
May 1, 2002Good morning Committee Chairman Orange, Council Chairman Cropp, Members of the Council.
I am pleased to appear before you today. It is my hope that we can begin a constructive dialogue about public-private partnerships and, in so doing, that we can continue to tap the enormous resources available from the private sector -- in an appropriate and lawful manner -- to continue the process of revitalizing our City. We have accomplished a lot. But there is a great deal more to do. I hope we can do it together -- as a team.
Before we talk about the future, let's talk about the past. Mistakes in fundraising from the private sector were made by members of my staff. As I've said several times in the past, I deeply regret that mistakes were made. And as Mayor, I take full responsibility for those mistakes. The fact that mistakes were made is particularly painful for me; I know full well the importance of sound financial management in light of what I have accomplished as CFO and Mayor. But in my enthusiasm for reaching out to all of those in the private sector who were -- and are -- willing to help our city, while at the same time trying to tackle the many, multifaceted and complex challenges the District faced when I was elected Mayor, I delegated without the necessary guidelines in place. We should have had a policy in place -- clear guidelines -- so those mistakes would not have been made.
Now we do. Our policies and ethical guidelines are historic -- no administration has tackled the challenge of drafting, implementing, and enforcing such comprehensive standards. I'm proud of them. I believe that we now have a system in place that provides the assurance of transparency and conforms to good management practices. Going forward, we will have a financial accounting of all receipts and expenditures and these records will be maintained by a single agency that will make them available to the public upon request.
But there is always room for improvement. And I hone you will join with me in working together to improve our new policies and guidelines; maybe even drafting legislation so members of my staff -- and you and your staff -- will know what is expected of them in asking the private sector to work together with us in improving the quality of life for the people who live and work in our city.It's important that we continue to build on our work together with the private sector as we continue down the long and challenging road to economic progress. The private sector will benefit from this process, and they should not get a free ride. They should be key players as we continue to try to fill all the remaining potholes in the road.
Let's talk about what we have accomplished.
The CFO's office determined that in FY 2001 the District government received roughly $7 million in private grant revenues and an additional $2 million in in-kind services from private corporations, charitable organizations and individuals.
Here are just a few examples among the dozens of successful private-public collaborations that we have been and continue to be involved in:
The Council will remember the wonderful gift of $25 million for affordable housing from the Newseum in connection with the sale of District property on Pennsylvania Avenue.
And just last week I had the pleasure of joining First Lady Laura Bush -- together with Council Chair Linda Cropp -- at the party animals event on Freedom Plaza. There were receptions and events surrounding this program. The party animals initiative has been wonderful for the District, but it cost more than 650 thousand dollars. Private and corporate sponsors such as Clark Construction, Comcast Television, Douglas Development Corporation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Fleishman-Hillard, and Hecht's supported it. A similar collaborative effort helped finance the 150' annual DC Film Festival. And let's be realistic about efforts like these -someone had to ask these folks for the money.
Let's discuss for a moment the events that were addressed in the IG report. The nine events that were reviewed in the report were all perfectly appropriate, non-political, legitimate endeavors. They were intended to benefit the people of the District, plain and simple.
I won't argue with criticism as to the deficiencies in the execution of what we did. Nor will I argue that when we successfully promote the District, it benefits my image as well. But I will argue long and hard against efforts to characterize my intent as anything other than what it was - a multi-faceted effort to establish private-public partnerships to fund specific events, initiatives, and programs designed to benefit the District as a whole.
Cities all across the nation are engaged in partnerships that have done wonderful things for millions of people. Cities like Detroit, Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles use private fundraising to promote tourism; enhance cultural, educational, and recreational activities; encourage economic development; and augment existing government programs. We need to do this too. And I know we need to do it with greater care and accountability.
Now, I look forward to responding to your questions. I know you will want to ask me questions about the past. I will say in advance that there may be some questions that I will not be able to answer if it is determined that answering the question will adversely impact the investigations currently under review by the US Attorney's Office or other federal agencies. I am joined this morning by Tony Herman and Grace Lopes who will help me work through any of those issues.
But I also hope we can begin a productive discussion about the use of private resources in the future. In that vein, I especially appreciate the opening remarks of Committee Chairman Orange at his prior hearing, encouraging us to come together to engage in a dialogue on developing the best policies and procedures for encouraging the private sector to join with the government in revitalizing all aspects of life in the District.
I invite you to work with me in making our new and historic guidelines
even more airtight and clear than they are now. Grace Lopes is also here
to help me answer any questions about the details of our new policies
and what we've begun to do to implement them. And I also hope we can
talk about the future -- how we can work together to forge new
partnerships with the private sector to continue to revitalize our great
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Certified Public Manager Program
Community Voices (DC Dept. of Health)
Aquatic Education Center, Anacostia
Southeast Tennis and Learning Center
Emancipation Day Celebrations ('01 and '02)
Youth Service Day
McKinley Technology High School
Cyber Mentoring Program (DC DOES)
Cable Modem and Internet Access (DCPS)
Party Animals (DC Commission on the Arts)
Citywide Tree Program (Various agencies)
Banneker Recreation Center Renovation
NOTE: Partial listings of contributors shown
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