For D.C.'s Supervision of Youth Offenders, 2009 Has to Be Better
This final column of 2008 begins with the same plea made in my first column of the year ["Outfoxed in the District," Jan. 5 ] -- that leaders address the real problems that threaten the quality of life in our city: the erosion of public safety, an apathetic and complacent city workforce, and D.C. Council members who fail to realize they are getting duped by the $10 billion municipal enterprise that voters hired them to oversee.
A year later, little has changed.
Violence still carries the day.
The District will end 2008 with homicides at a three-year high.
Last month, Police Chief Cathy Lanier told a WAMU radio audience that juvenile arrests were up by 8 percent over last year.
How bad is it?
This is from the summary of a Dec. 18 meeting of 60 Ward 6 residents in Southwest:
"In response to numerous questions from the audience about safety measures that can be taken, the police officers stressed . . . using the Shuttle Bug or walking in groups to Safeway, CVS, Bank of America, etc."
Walking in groups? Yes, it has come to that.
January's column criticized the veil of secrecy draped over city agencies to hide negligence and indifference. Case in point: the city's finance office, where more than $48 million was embezzled over two decades.
Last week, a law firm hired by the D.C. Council to investigate the finance office scandal produced a report that said the agency is engulfed in "a culture of apathy and silence." The report described a climate in which workers do the bare minimum necessary to get by, keeping their heads down and being unwilling to blow the whistle on wrongdoing. That observation can be easily applied to other city agencies.
William McLucas, a partner in the firm WilmerHale, which conducted the investigation, called for a change in employee attitudes.