Home Page, Site Index, Search, Help

Editor's Note: This text was provided by the District government and is displayed here without editing.

Go to Barry Main Page

Marion Barry's 1996 State of the District Address

Lincoln Theater
March 25, 1996


Out of the night that covers us,
Black as a Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For our unconquerable souls.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
We are the masters of our fate:
we are the captains of our souls.

The unconquerable soul of this great city has just endured one of its most challenging years. However, by taking responsibility for our fate, we have demonstrated the "unconquerable" nature of our character...the "unconquerable" nature of our spirit. We remain masters of our fate and captains of the soul of this great city. I've learned long ago, we're the masters of our fate, captains of the soul of our great city. I've learned long ago, when you're going through a storm hold your head high, let nobody break your spirit, let nobody turn you around and we will not let anybody break our spirit and let anybody turn us around.

We are America's First City, an example of its civilization and a symbol of liberty -- even though not a true democracy. We say to the Congress, give Eleanor Holmes Norton her vote back. In the face of our present crisis our unconquerable spirit is at work. Most people would have given up or thrown up their hands and cursed the darkness, over the state of our District one year ago. I'm here to tell you, I refuse to give up, refuse to throw up my hands, refuse to curse the darkness. Because I am deeply committed to our city, deeply committed to the people of our city, therefore, I have constructed a new direction for our new D.C. government... a new will to serve people... a new energy to build our future. There are places in the world where the challenges are much greater and there are times in our history where the liberties we take for granted were beyond the dreams of most of our ancestors. Most of the problems facing the District of Columbia are about money. And while our shortage of money has serious consequences, for public safety, for care of the ill, for security for the elderly, and education of our young, we are not facing the open hatreds, the stark famines, and wars that beset many nations. The secret to our tenacity and our resilience is quite simple. I once heard a coach explain it to his football team. "It's really very simple," he said. "You just don't quit, you just don't quit!" By "not quitting" we are changing our government completely. By "not quitting" we are beginning a new wave of development downtown -and in our neighborhoods. Right out here on U street, look at it happening. By "not quitting" we are bringing private sector jobs to D.C. residents -- I'm here to tell you 6,000 since January 1995. By "not quitting" we are getting the guns off the streets of Washington. By "not quitting" we are beginning to talk with our children -- not just to our children. By "not quitting" we are continuing all of our programs for senior citizens. I will never stand idly by and let the budget for the Office on Aging be cut, not while I'm Mayor. By "not quitting" we are building public-private partnerships on playgrounds, in schools, in our regulatory agencies, and in our economic development. By ''not quitting" we are rekindling hope, we are re-energizing people, and seeing a new spirit emerge in Washington, D.C. -- America's First City. Good evening Washington, Good evening Washington. I am pleased to be joined on the dais by a number of people, some of whom I would like to acknowledge. First, there is my wife who is my best friend. Cora cares and loves me deeply and dearly and I love her deeply and dearly. She also is a professor of 20 years with our outstanding University of the District of Columbia. She shares my view of service and a devotion to the people at the grass roots of our society. She supports that view with loyalty, hard work, and significant achievements in her own right. We all remember her success as national Voter Registration Chairperson of the Million Man March. And she has just been named one of the conveners of Operation Big Vote '96, a national effort to promote black voter participation. Let's give her a round of applause. And there's Christopher, my son, who I love dearly, and who represents for me the future we must pursue. And my mother, Mattie Cummings, whose up in the balcony, there she is, isn't she bad?!! David Clarke, Chairman and other members of the D.C. City Council thank you for your leadership; members of the D.C. Board of Education; Judge Eugene Hamilton, Chief Judge, D.C. Superior Court, who swore me in for my fourth term; the Honorable Annice Wagner, Chief Judge, D.C. Court of Appeals; Steve Halpin, Vice Chair of the D.C. Control Board; and warrior, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and our outstanding Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Williams. Don't be fooled by all that you read in the newspapers. Our City Administrator Michael Rogers, my Chief of Staff, Barry Campbell. And then there is a very special person on the dais, Dorothy Height. Dorothy just celebrated her 84th birthday on Sunday. Let's especially recognize Dr. Dorothy Height, president of National Council of Negro Women. We are talking about citizen involvement tonight. She is an outstanding example of that. I am grateful for her support of America's First City. And because of her vision and fortitude, the National Council of Negro Women is the only African American organization who owns real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue. Give her a round of applause. And I'm grateful for her leadership and friendship and her support of America's First City.

I would like to particularly thank Grea Neverson for such a heartfelt introduction. Grea is a senior at one of our D.C. Public Schools -- The School Without Walls. Even though I have been speaking publicly for a long time, I still get a little nervous, but wasn't Grea outstanding?! ! There are thousands of Greas in our city, but we have got to give them an opportunity to share their talents.

I know by now you have noticed that I am the oldest speaker on this program. This is by design. While we must seek wisdom and experience from every source, we must seek the energy for change within our own community. The source of much of that energy is no secret to me. It is our young people. It is unfortunate that the media very rarely showcase the positive things our young people do. I get so sick and tired of watching the 4, 5, 6 and the 11 o'clock news and all I see is some young African-American or Hispanic young person being led off to jail. Let me just say tonight, the great majority of our young people are not selling drugs, not hooking schools, are not shooting and stabbing people or engaging in other anti-social or negative behavior. I say to the media: transform your thinking in reporting. Start showcasing young people doing positive things. It has been my personal experience in my work with Mayor Barry's Youth Leadership Institute, the summer jobs program, visits to many of our public schools and special projects like "Hands Without Guns", youth not only unlock a powerful source of energy and hope, but inspire me to have fresh outlooks, more creative ways to use my wisdom, and new drive to focus my experience. I believe the same is true for our native government. Our success can always be predicted by our commitment to our young people. At this critical point in the history of the District of Columbia, we must do more than provide education and opportunity for young people, we must sit with them, share their dreams, maintain genuine dialogue, and share each other's goals. Do you agree? As young people say, if you don't know, you better ask somebody.

On the other hand we should be greatly disturbed that 30% of those who start in the 9th grade do not graduate. And we know, the cost of each dropout in other social services is tremendous. On any given day nearly 1500 children are in homeless shelters; 2500 in foster care; and 1300 are either neglected or abused. Whatever grade in school, whatever economic circumstance, whatever home environment -- each District child reflects our combined character. There is no better time than in these present difficult times to reconnect with our own past by connecting to the ones who will inevitably follow us. Let's give all the young people in Washington a great round of applause. Tell them we love them, tell them we want them to succeed. Tell them we want them to be the very best. Tell them it doesn't matter where they live, but its what lives inside of you. It's not what is on the outside but what is on the inside. It's not what's on your head but in your head. Tell them we love them. Tell them we love them! I love our young people and each of you should too.

It is a theme of this report that our new government will focus on building a climate for the personal success of our citizens. I was meeting with the Control Board two or three weeks ago and Steve Harland pointed out that DC should provide opportunities for success. We can't make people be successful, but we have a responsibility to provide the opportunities for success. Open the door for people to walk in if they want to. This focus must begin with our children. Much of our budget -- I would guess as much as $1.5 billion a year -- goes to pay for the consequences of children who missed the opportunities for healthy beginnings, the guidance for successful behavior, and the skills to use their natural talents. It is really time to make children a priority. If we really make children a priority, we will fight even harder to reduce infant mortality. We will go much further to stop babies from having babies. We will walk the extra mile to stop parents from abusing and neglecting their children. If we make young people a priority, if we fight harder to reduce infant mortality, if we'll go a step farther to stop babies from having babies. There are too many babies having babies and let's do something about it. If we put young people as a priority, we will walk the extra mile and stop parents from abusing and neglecting their children. And since we are talking about young people, let me say something about our award-winning summer jobs program. As you know, we are the only city in America that has promised and delivered a meaningful summer job to every young person 14 through 21 years of age who wants to work. Let me make it clear...it is the responsibility of the private sector to provide our young people an opportunity to work. However, when the private sector does not provide enough jobs, it is the responsibility of the D.C. government to fill the gap. Now there are several members of the City Council who want to eliminate our summer jobs program. I do not know where they are coming from. Either they are insensitive or do not care about our teenagers. Our young people need to learn about coming to work on time; following instructions; meeting deadlines; and dressing for the world of work. Not just teens from low-income families, but middle-income too. I consider myself middle income, but Christopher needs to work. He needs to learn to come to work on time and do the right thing. He told me to tell you he does that. I'd rather spend $1,000 to put a young person to work, than $25,000 per year to keep them jail. Some members of the City Council want to eliminate $10 million from our summer jobs program that would put 10,000 people to work; yet, the same members would vote to spend $265 million for the Department of Corrections. I would rather spend money on jobs than on jails. I choose education over incarceration. Let's all make that choice. There are 23,000 businesses in D.C., and I am calling on the private sector to provide 5,000 summer jobs. That's one job for every five businesses. Once again I commit to the 15,000 to 16,000 DC young people that they will have a meaningful job during the summer -- if not from the private sector where it should come from, then from the public sector.

While I am on the subject of young people, let me say something about our outstanding University of the District of Columbia. Why don't you just close your eyes and imagine what Washington would be like without the University of the District of Columbia. What would the 10,000 students be doing? Would they be in college? Would they be unemployed? Would they be in jail? What would the Washington business community do? What if they were not able to get the skill and talent that come with UDC graduates? What would Terry Austin be doing if she had not been able to graduate from UDC's School of Mortuary Science? Incidentally, Terry is co-owner of the DC-based funeral home, Austin & Royster.

Because of UDC, we enjoy the talents of Rev. Rosetta Bryson, who went on from UDC to get a master's degree in theology at Emory University, with honors, and now serves as deputy director of the Office for Religious Affairs. Also we benefit from Charles Gaither, Lisa Shaw, Keith Morgan and hundreds of other dedicated public servants in DC Government. I can go on and on about UDC, but I am sure you get the picture. UDC is a valuable educational institution. Every ethnic group in America whether it's in New York, Boston or wherever, has used low cost, quality post-secondary education as a way of empowering its citizens. Again, there are several members of the Council who want to close UDC or turn it into a community college. I say "no way." "NO WAY." Then there are those who want to reduce the subsidy. Again I say "no way." "NO WAY." This community is not going to let that happen. There is something wrong with a government that spends $265 million to incarcerate 10,000 people and yet is not willing to spend $45 million to educate 10,000 students. I care to choose education over incarceration. Excuse me for spending so much time on my commitment to young people, but I firmly believe that the future "State of the District" relies on that commitment. Let's give all of our young people in Washington, D.C., a great round of applause. Tell them we love them. Tell them we want them to strive to be the best they can be. Now, let me turn to the subject that everyone thinks of when they think of the condition of the District. What is the state of the District's finances? Behind all of our difficulties is the burden of a left over deficit of 335 million dollars. This deficit resulted in the creation of a Congressionally mandated control board. However, unlike any other rescue effort -- for cities, companies, or institutions -- this effort has come with very little cash relief. Our total accumulated deficit is $378 million through last September, with another $150 million projected for this year. This debt, this deficit, is now being financed by our service providers -- our business people. This is not right. It is not right for our hospitals, our fuel oil companies, our food distributors, our maintenance companies, our plumbers, our electricians, our data processing companies, our insurance providers and all the other companies that do work for us to carry our debt on their backs. They have to go to the bank to borrow money because we haven't yet paid our bills. I'm doing all I can to bring relief. I'm here to tell you that our debt and our situation is worse today than it was this time last year. It's that way because Congress is six months late, Eleanor, in our $220 million dollar payment. Here we are, March 25, 1996, and still no budget. Congress, we want our budget, Congress, pass our budget, now. We want our money now. Pass our budget. We also have a problem because there is no one willing to assist me in borrowing $600 million dollars. The solution is not very complex. Mr. President, Congress, D.C. City Council, Control Board: Help me borrow the $600 million in the next 30 - 60 days. Nothing complicated about that. New York City was able to borrow millions, Philadelphia's Control Board facilitated the borrowing of $332 million at the beginning of their control board period to take care of their previous debt. Why treat the Nation's capitol differently? Why not let us borrow this money and pay it back over the long haul. We can not let these business people keep carrying this on their backs. You try it sometime. You are in business and trying to provide a service and not getting paid on time and then have to borrow money. It's a vicious cycle. It must stop. It must stop now.

Let me report, however, that this government has not just been standing around waiting for a financial ambulance or cash transfusion. We have worked every day to meet our challenges with what ever resources we could friends, or ingenuity we could find. In my State of the District Address last year, I listed the actions required to rescue service delivery, our credibility, and self government itself. We said then that we would decrease spending. WE HAVE. Actual spending dropped by $151 million last year over the previous year -- a first in modern history. We said we had to reduce deficits. WE HAVE. From $335 million in FY '94 to $54 million in FY '95, a drop of $281 million dollars. It wasn't an easy job, but we did it. We said our citizens would have to sacrifice. YOU DID. Health centers and recreation centers have closed and millions of dollars in other city services were curtailed or terminated. We said we must downsize our workforce. WE DID. We did it humanely. More than 6000 workers left the DC Government payroll in the last 18 months. We said we would build a positive working relationship with the Congress. WE HAVE. If you talk to Tom Davis and talk to others, they'll tell you that they have more belief and credibility in this government than they had over a year ago. We also partnershipped with the Control Board. We are truly partnering for a transformation of what government does, how it does it, what people should expect, and how we will finance public work. We said our employees would have to sacrifice. THEY DID, including me! Furlough and wage roll backs totaled $79 million last year. Let me just say something about our D.C. government employees. They have been knocked around, been abused, and kicked around. As their equipment gets old, the work environment more negative, and their pay reduced, it has been difficult to maintain morale. But, I'm here to tell you, in spite of these difficulties, our employees have continued to deliver professional, caring service. Let's give them a round of applause. For them, as well as our citizens, the uncertainty has been the biggest threat. My transformation initiative has received a lot of popular support. Even those who mostly engage in District-bashing have found something in my policies they like. It pleases these critics to believe I have undergone some conversion in values or gained a new attitude about government and people. They think that because I have done something they agree with, I have turned my back on who I am and what I stand for. While it is clear that my actions are consistent with the values and service I have represented for 30 years, they choose to call it "flip flopping." I call it having a heart. These are times that require change. Transformation is about changing what government does and how it does it. Transformation is about citizens accepting a new responsibility for our public business. Transformation is about new ways to create personal opportunities for success. Transformation is not about turning away from serving people. My entire career is anchored in my respect for the dignity of every person. I have always demonstrated, through my actions, that every one matters and every one contributes. Therefore, my transformation plan is important to see where we're going. Without vision the people perish. If you don't know where you're going, you may end up anywhere. The District-bashers who think in terms of revenge and punishment at every turn are concerned that I do not agree with their low esteem for public employees. These District-bashers don't have to walk among the personal gorge and see the pain in their faces. These District-bashers don't have to walk among our neighbors and see the people who may lose their jobs. These District-bashers don't have to walk among our schools and see the breakdown in discipline and violence, but I say to those District-bashers we will not do what you want us to do. We are going to lose some dedicated District government workers, but I tell you my friends, I won't kick them while their down. These workers, who are leaving DC government, have mortgages to pay, kids to raise and careers to rebuild. They are human beings too. Transformation is about changing government and the way it does business, not about the crucifixion of our workers. Saving money by canceling severance payments to employees losing their jobs is not good business, good management, or good moral. I will not mistreat people no matter what anyone says, writes, or anyone tries to legislate. I am committed to a reduced DC workforce. But we will reduce it fairly -without pouring salt in the wounds caused by change. If you're looking for someone who will run over our people, without compassion or caring, if you're looking for someone inhumane and uncompassionate, then look past me. I'm not the one; I'm not the one!

And I call for a moratorium on District-bashing. I think it is safe to say that negative, biased publicity has cost DC more jobs and destroyed more economic development possibilities than any other single force. There was a story in the paper this morning about people not coming to Washington like they used to, because the negative image of the federal government and the District-bashing on the part of some of our media. Most great newspapers of America are boosters for their home cities -- especially in hard times. Why not our morning paper? We need and deserve fair coverage, now. I challenge every institution and every person in our city to come to its aid in this critical time. Let's not only accentuate the positive, let's speak up when others distort our shortcomings, are obsessed with unfair judgements and their own narrow agendas. Stand up for DC. Take pride in DC. Disagree without being disagreeable. This is our city. All of us, black and white, Hispanic and Asian. PhD or no D. West of the park and East of the park. Those East of the river and West of the river. This is our city together. We must make it. We all must swim together or we will sink together. I'm confident that we will swim together. It has only been fifteen months since I became Mayor again. Yet we've done the work of keeping government afloat while suffering the most significant financial crisis in history. But that is only part of the story. Let me share with you our more enduring work: the transforming experience to create an entirely new government, an entirely new way of thinking, and an entirely new form of public/private partnership to provide opportunities for individual as well as group success. Nearly 100 years ago, William Jennings Bryan, a political leader who championed the values, said:

"Destiny is not a matter of chance,
it is a matter of choice;
it is not a thing to be waited for,
it is a thing to be achieved."

In the face of our present crisis, let me tell you our unconquerable spirit has been at work. We have chosen to find a new direction for this government, a new way to serve people, and a new energy to rebuild our future. On February 14, of this year, I announced my "Vision for America's First City," and we will become America's First City. We are the nation's capital, international capital of the world. The home of 165 foreign governments and 20 million visitors, a transforming plan of action that will reach every corner of our government and our community. This vision provides the direction we will take to make DC Government smaller, better trained, better equipped, more citizen-friendly, more business-friendly, more competitive with our neighbors, and fully benefiting from modern technology. We are going to have the most courteous and the most capable DC government employees anywhere in the world. We have worked throughout this year to move in this new direction. Tonight, I will share a few stories of how we have already begun to transform and how these decisions and actions are benefiting citizens today. And I will share the powerful partnerships that have been formed between our government and our citizens. Transformation means a new revitalized downtown.

Next week, I will announce a 50-member action task force to drive our combined public and private efforts, creating a new wave of work toward a "living downtown." We se going with winners -- people who bring success with regard to housing, entertainment, and retail in the nation's urban centers. We will make downtown a place to keep jobs and tax dollars in our city. We don't want you spending your money in the suburbs. Spend it in Washington, DC. With this partnership, we will make our downtown a place to keep jobs and tax dollars in our city. We will add to the economic revitalization already happening at Gallery Place, where the MCI Center is well underway, and to Mt. Vernon Square -- to be the home of our new convention center. Transformation means more jobs for DC residents -- in the private sector. In addition to AT&T's new office, which brought 688 jobs to downtown DC, we are seeing more and more private sector job creation to replace the diminishing federal job base. Construction started on the Good Hope Marketplace this year, the home of Safeway's tenth and largest DC food store. We worked with InnerCity Foods to open "Checkers" fast-food restaurants. The Federal government has awarded $2.8 million to assist in site development at the old Children's Hospital and to renovate the old Washington Beef Building. Our DC First Project -- getting commitments from DC businesses to hire qualified DC residents for new openings -- has had great success. It's already generated more than 6,000 new jobs. The District's "First Source Agreement", a DC law which requires contractors with contracts worth more than $100,000 to offer jobs first to qualified DC applicants is a joke. Businesses ignore the rules and throw away the reporting forms. No more. I am sending legislation to Council that will put teeth in that law. It will allow the Mayor to cancel contracts, fine offenders, and bar companies from future District work. If you have a District contract you have to play by our rules and hire DC residents, qualified DC residents. We have the potential for hundreds of jobs for DC residents. This Mayor has the will, courage and tenacity to make it happen. Just look at the neighborhood here at U Street. We see around us the result of my vision fifteen years ago. I proposed we put a new municipal center at that corner. I had little support for building the Reeves Building at 14th and U Streets. Few people shared my vision back then. Even my own staff opposed this idea. Two or three hundred people would be on the corner back then, and they weren't going to Sunday school either. They were buying and selling drugs. We can all share the reality of that vision tonight. I hope you will take a few minutes tonight to visit the merchants and attractions of this reenergized business community. U Street used to be the mecca for the African American community. It had three movie theaters and businesses flourished. We renovated this theater at a cost of $9 million dollars. Let me tell you, U street is coming alive here today. Transformation means a safer city. Notwithstanding a wage decrease of 4.2% for our police officers, they continued to valiantly fight crime. For these and all of our workers, we need to reward performance in the pay envelope. In 1997, we will. We are going to restore their 4.2 percent pay increase. But we must do more.

Last year, to begin making true community policing a reality, more than 200 officers were moved from desk duty to street duty. We are in a sustained campaign to close down every open air drug market in Washington, D.C. Already, there is a new peace on many of our street corners. It takes up to four hours to process the average arrest, which means if you arrest someone in the morning, you are not back on the streets till the next day. The officer in the future will write information on "mobile data terminals" in each cruiser. The information will electronically transfer to the data base at police headquarters. Therefore, reducing arrest processing and report writing by one-half and will be equivalent to putting 250-300 officers on the streets. We are going to make sure our officers are on the street to prevent crime before it happens, not after the crime occurs. We are going to have officers on scooters, bicycles and in cars. And these officers will be friends and foes, not allies and aliens because they are sworn to protect our community. We have 125 new cars coming in the next year.

The transformation in management and technology by the police is not enough to ensure the safe District of Columbia we seek. We need a transformation in your thinking my friends. We need you to think about crime and criminal behavior. We cannot condone or profit from the crimes of our children. There are mothers and fathers who know where that money came from and yet they go out and buy a new television set or new living room set. If your children are doing wrong, you have a responsibility to correct that and not take that money and spend it on yourselves. It's wrong, it's wrong. This kind of thinking must be transformed. We have a poverty of values. We must get back to the days of honesty, of hard work, of doing the right thing, of caring about each other, of speaking to each other, of getting involved with this war on crime. This is not a one-person war, not a war by the police department.

We cannot think that small infractions -- like running traffic lights or spraying graffiti -- don't matter. And we cannot keep walking when we see children neglected and abused. We have responsibilities.

Therefore, I am proposing to the Council two new tools to fight crime. If our neighbor next door is abusing a child, we have a responsibility to report it to somebody. If the person downstairs is doing harm to someone else, report it to somebody. In our crime war, too many African American men are killing each other on the streets of America. We must begin to find a way to stop that killing and get those guns off the streets.

Therefore, I will ask that anyone caught possessing an illegal hand gun be kept in jail until the trial date -- as much as 90 to 120 days. If you have a gun in Washington DC, you are subject to go to jail. There is no defense to having an illegal gun in the city of Washington. Too many people are getting killed. The penalty for first degree murder, should be increased from 20 years to life, to life without parole. Though I do not believe in the death penalty, I believe if you kill someone, and are convicted of first degree murder, you should spend the rest of your natural life in jail.

This is our city. We must all report and fight crime. Let's fight to take back our streets. Let's fight to take back our business districts. Let's fight to take back our communities. If you live in ward 3 or ward 8, or ward 4 or ward 5, 1, 2, 6, 7, this fight is our fight? Will you help the police fight this fight. Will you take your communities back and make these communities safe again? It's not just mine, it's yours, it's yours, it's yours.

Transformation means improved fire protection.

Two new ladder trucks are right now coming to our training facility and will be in service next month. Through difficult times, our fire department has responded with creative solutions and superior dedication. Let's give our men and women a round of applause.

Transformation means a cleaner city. with maintained infrastructure and consumer-driven public services.

The District recently completed a major redesign of trash collection routes to reflect a "fair day's work" and balance the workloads across crews for both supercan and conventional collection. This is the first review since 1978. In addition, our private sector collaboration with recycling is a major success story. We intend to transform our sanitation and trash business. We intend to make sure that when your trash is picked up in the supercans that your alleys are also clean at the same time. I think you should give our sanitation workers a round of applause. They do the dirty work, work nobody else wants to do.

We successfully won Federal approval to spend transportation funds and delay payment of our local match. Work has already begun on the streets of Washington, more than $80 million in projects, including sections of E Street N.W., Nebraska Avenue, Florida Avenue N.E., Connecticut Avenue, and North Capitol Street. Local and federal engineers are designing a key section of New York Avenue. Bids are being let for work on the Whitehurst Freeway, bridges over Rock Creek Park at M Street and Massachusetts Avenue, as well as bridge work on Kenilworth Avenue. Later this year, we will see work begin on the 11th Street Bridge, we need it, I'll tell you that. At the Anacostia Freeway, the Minnesota Avenue bridge over Watts Branch,,and new servicing of Malcolm X Avenue from South Capitol and Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue.

We are creating an "independent" water and sewer utility authority. This move demonstrates my commitment to alternative management solutions to making government work more responsively to customer demands. We are devising new and effective ways to rid our streets of abandoned automobiles. Abandoned automobiles stay on the streets of Washington for too long. And transformation means we'll find a way to get them off faster.

Here again, we must transform our thinking and act as citizens if we really want a clean city. Trash doesn't just fall out of the sky. It comes from someone's hand. Beer cans don't fall from the sky, they come from somebody's hand. More tax dollars for public dollars. More tax dollars for public works does little good if we still think it is "OK" to throw a drink can out the car window. I challenge every citizen to clean your sidewalks, cut your grass, plant some flowers, make your space look like you really care about living in Washington, D.C. I challenge every business to do the same. I want you to sweep off your sidewalk and sweep and make the front of your place look better. Whether you operate a large apartment complex, or a neighborhood grocery, do your share to brighten the city. We want to have the cleanest city in the world, the brightest city anywhere in the world. Our city is too dirty. Moreover, I am going to deploy some of our young people out of our summer job program to our communities, to clean our streets, to clean our alleys, to cut grass and paint graffiti to make our community look a lot better.

Transformation means a world-class education opportunity for every child.

The education experience must prepare the next generation of Washingtonians for a productive adulthood. Our re-invention process will sponsor drastic decentralization and entrepreneurial leadership at the class room level and redirect central support to be responsive to teachers and students. The superintendent and school board agree with me. The focus has to be on our young people, our local schools and not on central administration. We intend to make our students first in math and science, and instill interest and opportunities for learning as a lifetime experience. Of course, education requires dollars. But, just as important, it requires parents, teachers, employers, and every citizen to invest time and interest in our young students. Parents, you need to spend more time with your young people at school. You need to be involved in Parent, Teacher Association. You need to be concerned not when there is a crisis, but all the time. Also, Dr. Smith and I are committed to finding a way to stop violence in our schools. Our young people and our students, our parents and our staff ought to be safe in our schools. They ought to be safe going to school, they ought to be safe coming from school. Those few students who want to disrupt learning for the majority of students will be taken out and put in an alternative educational system.

Transformation means a more unified and coordinated health system.

Changes, large and small, are scheduled to build a completely new DC health response. Right now, the way we buy medicines and services are scattered. DC General, St. Elizabeths, the health clinics, Detox, and other agencies all buy aspirin separately. Next year, we will buy aspirin and all medicines in a combined purchase agreement. In 1997, we are going to save $6 million a year.

We have formed a new public benefit corporation to combine DC General and our health clinics into a seamless health system which begins to treat people preventively in their neighborhood. Again, there are those who want to close DC General. I'm opposed to that. DC General need not be closed, but reinvented with a new mission. We need an emergency room in Southeast. We need a trauma center in Southeast. And so we are reforming our Medicaid system. We spent last year, $744 million dollars in Medicaid alone, compared to $17 million in 1973. Again, we are reforming our Medicaid system to save $100 million next year without reducing the quality of health care.

DC's health systems are fragmented. The private sector over here the public sector of there. We spend $1.6 billion dollars alone and yet we have some of the sickest people in Washington. And so to bring better coordination and direction, I will bring better coordination and direction, I will soon appoint a special Health Czar to report directly to me as we create this customer-responsive, competitive, effective health system. We must do more than treat sickness and injury. We must promote, and instill good health.

I have mentioned the importance of transforming our thinking. Many of us remember, President Kennedy's call for citizen responsibility.

"Ask not what your country can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your country."

DC citizens, ask not what your city government can do for you, but what you can do for your city.

This stirring challenge is appropriate to the transformation of Washington, D.C., America's First City, into a place where people have maximum opportunity for personal success. We have seen the power that is generated by citizen partnership with a pro-active, competitive government, seeking their own success and pursuing their own rewards by contributing to others. This is truly the path to a new world of opportunity.

Few events in my lifetime have been as moving and instructive as the Million Man March. Everyone there KNEW they were connected to each other. Everyone there shared a responsibility for his brother's well being. Everyone there found inner peace through reaching out. From the standpoint of our role as the host city for such events, our DC workers, and our citizens, demonstrated skill and dedication at its best. I was so proud of DC that day.

And I am so proud that this spirit lives in DC and works for our transformation. Let me recognize now just a few of the partnerships that demonstrate the energy of the District. When I call your name, please stand.

  • George Hednut, Vice Chair of the Wish List Committee and Vice President of BFI Industries, represents the Wish List. The Wish List was started by my wife, Cora Masters Barry, and standing with her a number of leaders who have made this organization such a powerful force. Mrs. Barry, at the of our inauguration had funds left over from our inauguration which has blossomed into a rich and diversified city-wide blessing. The Wish List Foundation has raised over a half-million dollars thus far, plus thousands of in-kind services, all devoted to improvement in our Department of Recreation facilities throughout the Washington area. Let's give then a round of applause.
  • Boxing manager and promoter, Rock Newman, who, along with Heavyweight Boxing Champion Riddick Bowe, gives so much of himself to this city. They have not only spent $200,000 to get guns off the street through "Funds for Guns," but has given in excess of $30,000 worth of equipment to the Department of Recreation. In addition, the Champ has adopted Douglas Junior High, in Southeast, and has sponsored students from the school to attend his fights in Las Vegas as well as sponsored events for young people at Oak Hill.
  • Douglas Kim represents the Korean Chamber of Commerce who gave 100 bicycles to the Metropolitan Police Department in appreciation for their good work.
  • Lelia Peterbark is a pioneer volunteer in the "Adopt-A-Park" program.
  • Al Williams represents East of the River Community Development Organization and the many other community non-profits who work with the District's homesteading program to rehabilitate abandoned and tax-delinquent properties.
  • William Day represents the Ford Motor Company, who arranged special credit terms to get our police cars, trash trucks, and emergency vehicles repaired quickly.
  • Judith Anderson is a Fourth District police officer who, as a citizen, started a youth art program, which lets children work with volunteer police officers.
  • Rich Devaney, of NationsBank, and Chris Smith, of William C. Smith Company, teamed up to help rebuild the housing stock and sense of community in Ward 8's "Parklands."
  • William Freeman, CEO of Bell Atlantic, relocated several hundred jobs back to DC. Let's give him a round of applause. In addition, Mr. Freeman, helped out with the city's current cash flow problems...Bell Atlantic volunteered to pay the balance of their 1995 tax, which is no small sum, about $3.1 million in monthly gross receipts. Let's give him another round of applause.
  • Chistopher Chambers represents the more than 80 members of the Washington Urban League "Thursday Network" which sponsors a variety of grass roots "Young Blacks Give Back" projects -- cleaning parks, delivering food, and sponsoring student outings.
  • And since we're talking about the Washington Urban League, let me say this Vision for America's First City and the reception which follows was paid for by the private sector and facilitated by the Urban League's Maudine Cooper and Jerry Moore, III. Give them a round of applause.
  • Chris Ludeman put together an industry-wide task force of real estate experts who invested thousands of hours in designing a plan for DC Government space that will save millions of tax dollars.
  • Thomas Burville represents the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers organization who, with other volunteer groups, helped repair and beautify our public schools.

These citizens, businesses, and organizations represent the spirit of the District of Columbia. Let's give them all a round of applause. Together, we demonstrate our commitment to Washington's unique destiny. Working with you has given me the energy, the hope, and the inspiration to lead our transformation initiative.

Our transformation is evolutionary, not revolutionary. As we follow this new path, we will realize substantial cost savings and new efficiencies in a process that will unfold over the next four years. The principles underlying our plan are reflected in the FY '97 Budget which begins October 1. I am grateful that the Control Board has pledged to become a partner in this endeavor.

As time has passed, we have built a productive relationship between the Barry Administration and the Control Board. Looking back, we could have met earlier and more often. Looking forward, I believe we have set the stage for the kind of work and partnership required for success.

The Control Board's enthusiasm for transformation, and the resulting FY '97 budget is a genuine turning point. This budget and multi-year plan puts in place a strategy to make DC strong and prosperous once again. It includes investments in public infrastructure and public protection. We will purchase new snowplows, street repair equipment, trash trucks, and 125 new police cars. We will invest $8.5 million a year for four years in upgrading and training our employees to be the best Information Age public servants anywhere. And we will begin funding a new Financial Management System.

The Budget and four-year financial plan calls for decreasing deficits until 1999, when we will enjoy surpluses of $35 million. During this period, we will reach an employment level of 30,000 workers --30,000 excellently trained and operating in an environment of performance measurements, modern technology, and highly motivated public service careers.

This budget meets our financial responsibility targets. It also meets the Barry Administration's targets for service with compassion. We will provide a durable safety net of services for our most vulnerable citizens. Together with the control board, we will find a way to finance our left-over deficit and pay our service providers on time.

And I believe the time is ripe to resolve old issues with the Federal government -- including our unfunded pension liability and others.

However, transformation to succeed, our workers, our citizens, our businesses, our labor leaders, and all those with a stake in the Nation's Capital must own this process, claim this vision, and help create our new future.

We recognize the appropriate role of government in today's climate of limited resources and competitive service delivery. It can no longer be the goal of government to insure everybody's happiness or everybody's success. It has to start with the individual. No one can really be responsible for another's success. Our government must provide a opportunity for success. People must furnish the desire and discipline for success.

For those of us who live, work, and worship in Washington, D.C., and cherish its standing as America's First City, the future is not a spectator sport. The joy of the work of transformation is in the formation of "community" that it inspires. I do not mean community in the sense of Brightwood, or Congress Heights -- though a neighborhood focus is important.

I mean "community" in the sense of each person mattering a great deal to every other person...each person helping where they can and to the best of their ability to form a better place for all...each individual reaching to break down the walls that let us presume we are different or detached from the whole. Tonight I challenge Ward 3 to reach out to Ward 8. Ward 8 to reach out to Ward 4. Black, white, Hispanic and Asians are all Washingtonians, sharing the work and the destiny of this world-class city. In God's eyesight we are all the same, In God's eyesight we are all the same.

This journey is not about me or any one individual. It is about us. It is not about individual power. It is about our power as a community to help individuals succeed.

Government cannot sweep every sidewalk, hug every child, hire every worker, make everyone take their medicine, or dry every tear. But each person who becomes a true member of the community and willing to carry their load, can sweep all the sidewalks around the clock, catch every tear from the person suffering nearby, and love every child.

This transformation will rebuild our government. But we must do more than that. This transformation is about rebuilding "community"...letting us touch one another...knowing that each of us is vulnerable, that each of us is valuable.

Let me close by quoting Langston Hughes:

'We build our temples for tomorrow,
strong as we know how.
And we stand on top of the mountain,
free within ourselves. "

There is a freedom that comes from getting outside ourselves. There is a joy in becoming community.

It is the joy we can all experience as we move from our present difficulty, along this new direction, to our destiny as America's First City.

Let's stand together at the top of this mountain. Let us work for our strong temple of tomorrow. Let us share together the joy of "freedom within ourselves. "

Thank you. God bless Washington and God bless America.

Back to the top

Home Page, Site Index, Search, Help