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  • Mayor Barry's 1996 State of the District address


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    Mayor Marion Barry's 1997 State of the District Address

    Unedited Transcript
    April 9, 1997; 7:45 p.m.

    Let's begin with a silent tribute to a great citizen of the world, a true messenger of God's goodness, a tireless advocate for District residents, David Clarke.

    (A Silent Moment)

    Good evening and welcome to the Lincoln Theatre and the 1997 report by your Mayor on the State of the District.

    God is truly good. As I look around this very special place and enjoy the renewal of hope and excellence that this theater represents for Washingtonians, I am very grateful. Gratitude is a good place to begin this report.

    Personally, I am grateful for excellent health and continued energy to pursue the people's business. All the difficulties associated with my operation a year ago in December are behind me. All the cancer is gone.

    Each day God gives me the enthusiasm to lead, the inspiration to create new solutions, the energy to put them in place, and the managerial ability to carry them out.

    And God continues to bless me with the love and affection of my wonderful wife, Cora, my son, Christopher, my mother, Mattie, and my daughters, Tamara and Lalanya. Our lives grow richer each year.

    I am grateful to be your Mayor. I enjoy being your Mayor -- not for the limousine, not for the security, not for the big office. But because it gives me the opportunity to serve you, to help, to give hope and to give good leadership. I am grateful that God has given this Mayor the wisdom, the vision, the courage, the talent and the perseverance to lead a Transformation of District Government.

    I am grateful that over 13,000 young people had summer jobs last year because I fought to preserve these for our youth.

    I am grateful that more than 140,000 DC residents don't have to worry about getting sick because Medicaid is there.

    I am grateful that almost 6,000 seniors did not go hungry because we provided 1.3 million meals to seniors last year.

    I am grateful we gave more than 32,000 children and teens a day camp experience last summer.

    I am grateful to see the MCI Center getting close to opening because I personally cut through government red tape.

    I am grateful the doors of the University of the District of Columbia are still open, because we put up a good fight. I will continue to defend UDC!

    I am grateful that more than 8,000 public housing units are now rehabilitated thanks to a new management team.

    I am grateful that the Department of Employment Services found more than 7,000 jobs for unemployed DC residents last year.

    I am grateful we were able to fix more than 30,000 potholes last year. That's twice as many as the year before. There's at least 15,000 to go.

    I am grateful that President Clinton has at last begun to look at Washington, D.C., not only as a President, but as a resident and finally acknowledged that D.C. has no state government and that the Federal government must help pay for many of our state responsibilities.

    And I am grateful for the weather! Thank God for this mild winter. A half-inch of snow that melts before noon is my kind of snow storm!

    Finally, I am grateful that we didn't let the difficult challenges of the last year break our spirit. D.C. hung in there. D.C. persevered. D.C. didn't become victims -- but we emerged as victors. Let's give ourselves some praise.

    If you only remember one thing I say today, my friends, let it be that the Transformation Plan is working. Things are working a lot better today than they were a year ago. We're not where we want to be, or where we ought to be. But, thank God, we're not where we were!

    The redesign and rebuilding of our government will have enormous payoff now and in the years ahead. The nature of Transformation is that change must occur immediately, but the lasting results build over time. But our citizens are already seeing and feeling some benefits of their new government. Good things are happening every day.

    That is why I can report to you at the outset of this annual message: Washington, D.C., is a good city getting better. Let me say that again: Washington, D.C., is a good city getting better. We may have been down, but we are not out.

    It would be hard to image a darker hour than we faced in designing and beginning my Transformation Plan for America's First City. Return with me in your memory, if you will, to February 14, 1996 just fourteen months ago.

    You remember the negative rhetoric and cynical references to DC Home Rule that accompanied the appointment of the Control Board.

    You remember that we didn't have enough trucks to collect trash or clean alleys.

    You remember that we didn't do a good job on the snow!

    You remember how all our employees took 3% wage reductions.

    You remember when we were facing the worst financial crisis in our history. Vendors were not getting paid. City services were cut and delayed.

    You remember the hostile comments from some members of Congress.

    In addition to all of this, we were swimming in hot water infested with sharks. It is hard to survive when you are swimming with sharks. And let me tell you, we certainly had a lot of sharks.

    There were the "poison pen" editorial-writing sharks who never had anything good to say about our city. There were the "don't want the Barry Administration to succeed" sharks. There were the negative thinking sharks who never even thought of a positive solution to our problems.

    There were the "easy answer" sharks who thought all our problems were easy and simple to resolve.

    As I said, it is hard to survive swimming with sharks. But we are!

    I don't know about you, but I recall the gloom and doom. But I also recall that I grasped a realistic vision of what our city could become. We could be better and we could do better.

    In the midst of this storm, we began the Transformation journey. We had the perseverance to see a better way and the courage to pursue it. My plan is not only to transform how we operate the city's government. My plan transforms how we view government, how we view each other, and how we view our magnificent city.

    A good place to begin tonight is to review some of the things I reported a year ago -- right after launching my Transformation Plan. I made 16 specific promises last year -- accomplishments I believed would happen because we committed as a government and as a city to change. Let's look at our report card on these 16 promises.

    I promised to build a climate for personal success of our citizens. I quoted Steve Harlan's suggestion that we can't make people be successful, but we have a responsibility to provide the opportunities for success. This goal, of course, takes time. But we are opening new doors for citizens -- particularly young people -- who choose success.

    One of the most significant changes is welfare reform. In our new plan, each person receiving cash assistance helps develop and signs a personal responsibility agreement. Each individual plan charts a course to achieve self-sufficiency, self-improvement, selfconfidence and -- therefore -- self esteem.

    We want our people to go from looking down to looking up. We want to assist them to go from feeling bad to feeling good about themselves, their worth, their ability to succeed and be self sufficient.

    We already have hundreds of examples of this kind of personal transformation. Often it includes beginning new small businesses. I know a number of people who have dreamed of business ventures that really help their community while they help themselves. One group of women now owns a self-serve laundry. Another group began a day care center. Another, a small, neighborhood cafe. The list goes on and on.

    Building good attitudes and positive futures has been happening since 1979 through Mayor Barry's Youth Leadership Institute. This year, more than 400 young people attended the six-week summer workshop and the school-year follow up service program. Many come from low income families. They learn self esteem, self-confidence, public speaking skills and team building. In other words, they learn how to just be a better person.

    More than 5,000 young Washingtonians have received this training. We are honored tonight to have them represented here by this year's Youth Mayors. All the members of the Youth Leadership Institute please stand. Let's give them a round of applause.

    When we change our attitude, anything can happen. That's a lesson for people and a lesson for government.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised we would create a "new wave of work toward a living downtown." Our downtown is again filled with the sounds and sights of construction. But the cranes and concrete trucks have just begun. Our development is focused on a future that is job-rich, enhances downtown living and delights shoppers and tourists. My Interactive Downtown Task Force has published a vision and action plan for the heart of downtown that creatively solves transportation and parking challenges while delivering attractions, information-era commerce, world-class entertainment, and "smart" communications amenities.

    This Downtown Plan, when implemented, will:

  • provide seven million square feet of entertainment/retail space,

  • increase consumer spending by $2 billion annually,

  • create 25,000 new jobs (at least half of them to District residents),

  • build 5,000 new housing units,

  • increase the city's revenue base,

  • create a shared prosperity,

  • establish an identifiable arts and cultural district in downtown, and

  • reaffirm the nation's capital as one of the leading cities of the world.

    Let's give Herb Miller and members of the Task Force a round of applause.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised an emphasis on job creation. We've put new teeth in the District's law requiring city contractors to hire DC residents first, making the reporting process stronger. As a result, hundreds of unemployed DC residents are now in work lines instead of unemployment lines. Businesses doing business with DC Government must hire DC people FIRST.

    We have made it our business to address the strength and opportunities for growth in the private sector. That's why I promised a strong expansion of tourism. With more than 20 million people visiting the Nation's Capital each year it is a strong base in the DC economy.

    We also have a major opportunity to become a national cornerstone of the telecommunications industry. Our downtown development, including the construction of a new $600 million, world-class convention center, supports and stimulates these traditional foundations in our economy. The Barry Administration demands that this prosperity and development cross the Anacostia River. This area so long neglected, so full of despair and so lacking in hope is also capable of great opportunity.

    An example of our work is the Skyland Shopping Center and the Good Hope Marketplace on Alabama Avenue. It is already the primary retail destination for this section of the District with the recent opening of one of the largest Safeway stores in the nation. Two other targets -- Anacostia Gateway, and the Minnesota/Benning Road area -- will soon replicate this success.

    A key ingredient of job development is our assistance to small business creation. Small businesses traditionally create the most new jobs, and Anacostia -as well as the rest of the District -- has the market place for such opportunities.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised we would restore a 4.2% pay adjustment for police officers. I sent legislation to the Council to restore this adjustment and they heeded my call, passing the bill in September, 1996.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised to submit a new bill keeping anyone arrested with an illegal handgun in jail until trial. That has happened. But the law is not strong enough. There are too many exceptions. I am sending a stronger bill to the Council this spring, with no exceptions in it. We in this city are determined to get illegal hand guns off the streets. Aren't we?

    Aren't we?

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised new fire fighting equipment. In FY '96, we purchased 4 Aerial Ladders, 15 Ambulances, 3 Pumpers, 2 Rapid Response Vehicles, 3 Sedans, 2 vans, and 1 Pickup Truck. This year, we are purchasing 3 Aerial Ladders, 4 Pumpers, 2 Rescue Pumpers, 14 Ambulances, 6 Rapid Response Vehicles, 1 Wrecker, 6 BVC Vehicles, 3 Vans, and 5 EMS Supervisory and Transport Vehicles.

    Our fire and emergency ambulance service answered over 140,000 calls last year. Each call was answered in minutes. Let's give our Fire and EMS Department employees a round of applause.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised alley cleaning along with trash removal. We now have enough trucks so we don't have those daily shortages. Every week, its getting better and our city is getting cleaner. 25 sweepers are now on line, working six days a week. And we will soon have 25 sanitation inspectors making sure businesses obey the law to keep store fronts and alleys clean.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised new road and bridge construction as a result of speeded up federal funding. You know its happening. There's road work going on all over town. I'm here to tell you we have already spent $100 million and by the end of the year, we'll spend another $140 million. Here's the list of current projects:

  • In Ward One, 6 projects have been completed, 3 are underway or soon to start.

  • In Ward Two, 18 are completed, 15 underway or soon to start.

  • In Ward Three, 14 are completed, 8 underway or soon to start.

  • In Ward Four, 8 are completed, 2 underway or soon to start.

  • In Ward Five, 15 are completed, 1 is underway.

  • In Ward Six, S are completed, 3 underway or soon to start.

  • In Ward Seven, 8 are completed, 8 underway or soon to start.

  • In Ward Eight, 3 are completed, 3 underway or soon to start.

    Eleven major bridge projects bring major improvements to traffic. Look at the Taft and Sousa Bridges. This summer you'll see work on the 11th Street Bridge and Anacostia Freeway Interchange, the Whitehurst Freeway, Massachusetts Avenue over Rock Creek, Minnesota Avenue over Watts Branch, Kenilworth Avenue over East Capitol, and the Anacostia Bridge over Pennsylvania Avenue, to mention a few.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised to create an "independent" water and sewer utility. It's done. Though it's painful, and the Authority had to raise rates, we will end the fifty years of neglect to our system and insure safe and sure water supplies for the next generation.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised a program to get rid of abandoned cars. So far, more than 5,000 abandoned vehicles have been identified and removed from our streets -- not only improving the appearance of our neighborhoods, but the safety as well. My Nuisance Properties Task Force is targeting properties that have often become havens for criminal activity. We are citing properties with code violations. We are moving to get families back into these recycled properties. We are working with civic organizations, neighborhood groups, businesses, churches, unions, and non-profits to stop this blight and recycle housing.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised to deploy young people on summer jobs to clean streets and mow grass.

    There were those who said our young people would not do this kind of work. But they did. We created DC Fresh, coordinated by the Department of Employment Services. This year, 1500 young people worked cleaning alleys, streets, sidewalks and vacant lots. In addition to this work experience, they attended workshops and learned first hand about environmental justice. They also assisted the Department of Interior's effort to clean up the C&O Canal after the flood damage.

    More than 80 young people continue to meet and work after school and on Saturdays to work and advocate for a clean, environmentally sound District. These young people have made a strong investment in their future and our future. Let's give them a standing ovation right now!

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised more education dollars, in spite of crisis.

    After reading the Control Board's special report on education, "Kids In Crisis," and reflecting on my own analysis of the public school system, it is clear to me that more money is not the only answer. Our system needs restructuring from top to bottom. And money should flow according to pupil attendance, not administrative pressure. Such a genuine reform will result in more quality, needing less dollars.

    Our teachers need to be appreciated more. Let's give our hardworking teachers a round of applause.

    It is true I proposed to cut school spending, but my FY '98 budget proposes raises for our teachers. There's no question that I propose cuts to central administration and layer after layer of bureaucracy that do nothing to educate our children. I hope you will support my efforts. Our children need your help.

    Parents, students, neighborhood interests, and the business community must be part of reform. This can't happen when D.C. Public School business is done in secret. To the Board of Trustees, I say: "Open up your doors. Let the public in."

    You know of my effort to put more money into UDC. I will not abandon that fight, no matter what. There are forces is in the community who want to turn UDC into a community college. We cannot, should not and will not let that happen. We need a full fledged university.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised innovative ways to save the tax payers' money -- such as combining the purchase of medicines for the various agencies that use them. Our system for combined purchasing is nearly in place and by the last quarter of this Fiscal Year, we will start procuring drugs and pharmaceuticals for D.C. General, Neighborhood Primary Care Clinics and other District providers.

    We're saving $2.4 million through contracting the food services at the Department of Corrections. Dozens of Transformation initiatives are already saving many more millions in our tax dollars.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised the creation of a public benefits corporation, including a new mission for DC General Hospital. Last October, the hospital and the neighborhood clinics were integrated into the D.C. Health and Hospitals Corporation. In November, I appointed the new board to create an operations plan. The plan is to be submitted to the Control Board in June. I am hopeful that the Control Board will approve this plan and let the PBC become fully operational.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I promised a reform of DC's Medicaid Program, saving tax payers $100 million. Your DC Government now pays 50% of our Medicaid costs (some $400 million last year), a ridiculous formula that no other American city must pay President Clinton's plan for DC reduces this to 30%, putting us on par with most states, but still far out of line with municipal governments. Even as this structural reform is debated, our improved management and fresh policies has reduced our costs. We will not reach $100 million in savings this year -- we will make $80 million. However, our new policies will pave the way for greater savings in years to come.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    And finally, Promise Number 16, I promised to appoint a health czar to tackle our fragmented system. Fulfilling this promise has not only pointed the way to good health for America's First City, the process has superbly demonstrated how we can and must bring the energies of many stakeholders together to effect true Transformation.

    Last April, I appointed Dr. Mohammad N. Akhter both as my technical advisor to address problems in our fragmented health care system and to chair the Mayor's Health Policy Council. Today, this 100member collaborative body of District and Federal officials, private and public policy experts, and Washington, D.C., public and private health providers has achieved an astounding record of service to the government and our citizens..

    Dr. Akhter has since moved on to head the American Public Health Association and Dr. Bailus Walker continues in his path. Our progress this year has been monumental:

  • A new Department of Health combines public health, environmental health, health care finance and regulatory oversight of public and private health care services.

  • The new public benefits corporation to provide a continuum of care including both clinical and hospital care delivery.

  • Design of a managed care approach to health for residents receiving public assistance.

  • Value Purchasing processes has allowed us to save 30 percent on vital drugs needed by HIV/AIDS patients.

  • Our infant mortality rate dropped to the lowest point since we've been keeping records -- 16.1 per 1,000 births. That's a tremendous achievement.

    Millions of dollars have already been saved. Striking improvement is occurring in the care of our people. Let's give a round of applause to the Health Policy Council and our public and private health care providers.

    A promise made. A promise kept. A good city getting better.

    I am proud of these accomplishments. But we cannot let these successes cloud the fact that there have had failures and disappointments.

  • We simply could not handle the snow, for instance. Now we are better prepared.

  • I let our procurement system stay broken too long. I take full responsibility for letting other crises get in the way of procurement reform for far too long. But the good news is that we are on our way to fixing it. I have sent to the Control Board a strategic plan to make our procurement more efficient and more effective. We should never have to tell a citizen that a city service cannot be performed because we could not purchase supplies, equipment or services on time.

  • I am also disappointed because key government positions are vacant. It's very difficult to recruit quality people in our current environment. Money is key. Comparable jobs in surrounding jurisdictions pay far more. Some key District professionals have gone into Federal service for considerable more pay with the same experience. We have hired a search firm and asked the Control Board to help locate and recruit experienced professionals for our key positions. I believe our climate is gradually improving. We will soon fill a number of positions with quality professionals who can be excited and challenged by our Transformation opportunity.

  • We had a water scare last year. It forced us to deal with an ancient pipe network, neglected for years. The authority will be spending millions of dollars to correct this.

  • The city morgue became a symbol of our broken procurement system, where we couldn't spend the repair money even when we had it. The morgue is clean, healthy, and on top of its work now.

  • Reform of our DC Government personnel system is now finally on the front burner. Our old, federally-based, out-moded evaluation methods and lack of performance measurement makes Transformation difficult.

  • I really underestimated the need for outside help to reform our police department. I didn't realize that it was unrealistic to expect the police department to diagnose its own problems and prescribe a formula for success.

    We are dealing with an ingrained culture in a para military organization. Our hard working crime fighters are being asked to change some fundamental ideas of that culture. The recent Booz, Allen, Hamilton report has offered useful insights into how to change this culture. They have suggested strategies and tactics that are already working.

    From top to bottom, hundreds of dedicated officers understand this transformation and are creating a new MPD from the neighborhood up. You see, true community policing cannot be built in the Mayor's Office or the Chief's Office. True community policing begins with folks in the neighborhood working with officers they know to support law abiding citizens and arrest those who break the law.

    My true community policing concept began last fall with the announcement of my 15-point crime prevention program. An integral part of that plan was for each of the 138 scout car beats to be led by a beat sergeant who is a Team Leader. This team meets regularly to design and implement strategies that prevent crime specific to that neighborhood. The entire police department is supported by the other agencies of the District Government, including Human Services and Public Works.

    I want to say something about our workforce. We have to depend on our workforce to deliver quality, efficient and dependable service. The over 30,000 District Government employees who carry out our state, county and city functions are not often appreciated.

    We are castigated, berated, and stereotyped as bumbling, stumbling, "can't do anything right" workers. I'm here to tell you that if you take the time to observe and see the results of their work, you will find that the great majority of our workers are qualified, have the required skills and the strong desire to the public and to serve them well.

    Of course, there are some employees who don't measure up. However, they are in the minority and we are working to find them, train them, or -- if they continue not measuring up -- fire them. The message from the Mayor's office and throughout the government is for all workers to become totally professional -- shape up or ship out.

    Most of our managers are good managers, even though a few are not. "Why do you keep people who cannot manage?" you might ask. That's a good question. Let me tell you again how difficult it is to recruit good managers in this environment. It's difficult to hire a manager when any little mistake can be turned into a vilifying editorial in the Washington Post or Washington Times. It's difficult to recruit, when on any given day, you could be the subject of negative attacks and comments on the floor of the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.

    Add to all of this the low pay. Their counterparts in the region are paid a great deal more. When people talk about DC Government employees, they are playing old tapes. Radical changes are taking place.

    The good news is that we are partnering with George Washington University to open, a new Center For Excellence In Municipal Management. We are offering college-level training to our managers in every department.

    By the year 2000, more than 400 District officials will have graduated from this program. This is an exciting, visionary program to jump-start the District's government leadership. I want to congratulate the public and private team leaders and the University for this creative and timely program.

    Of all our accomplishments this year, the most important one has been the coming together of all the parties responsible for the District's future. Our citizens continue to sacrifice, contribute and support our transformation -- believing in the benefits of this critical investment. President Clinton's major step toward accepting genuine Federal responsibility is a monumental change in the climate.

    The collaboration between this Administration, the Council of the District of Columbia, the Control Board and Eleanor Holmes Norton, our non-voting Congressional Delegate, has become exceptional. This collaboration is not always visible. The fact is that the Control Board approves the vast majority of my initiatives and supports this Administration's leadership in our Transformation.

    It is only fitting that this coming together matures as we experience the loss of one of the District's true giants. Dave Clarke sought collaboration through law and process throughout his great career. He believed, as I do, that lasting progress comes from bringing all aspects of the people's business to the table. It does no good to slide over the genuine concerns of any interest. There is no crisis so great that expediency should diminish democracy.

    This coming together must work to produce a better budget process by next year, however. Our Congressionally imposed budget process is the worst system of any city or state. From February to June the process bounces back and forth in constant confrontation between the Administration, the Control Board and the Council. From June to October, Congress continues the confrontation.

    From February to October, our citizens are bombarded and confused by a process dominated by press release. finger-pointing and blame finding. This process is not collaboration. We should learn from Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and other cities where a much shorter and collaborative process works for citizens. Our citizens deserve dialogue on programs, directions, and solutions to problems, not just budget, budget, budget!

    At the same time, the office of Chief Financial Officer has become politicized. Instead of concentrating on making sure our money is safe and our numbers are correct, our un-elected CFO makes key policy decisions -- often playing the Administration against the Control Board or Council. I propose to lead a dialogue on the idea followed by Maryland and many cities who elect their chief financial officer or controller. I pledge to continue working for a collaborative budget process. And I challenge all our leaders to join that goal -- one that is fair, one that is short, one that does not confuse the public.

    As we pursue Transformation of our government, we must also continue to fight for the right to tax money earned in the District by non-resident workers. In addition to supporting President Clinton's plan to transfer some state-level responsibilities to the Federal Government, we must do all we can to support and get passage of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's 15% flat tax.

    I began our Transformation Plan in 1995 because it is the right thing to do, not necessarily the politically beneficial thing to do. All of the benefits of Transformation will not arrive this year. However, it is possible to picture our future from the results we have achieved so far. Let me share what we can look forward to if we steadfastly pursue Transformation.

    Time-consuming, manual, paper-intensive service and the long lines that go with it will end as we put computer technology to work. Many transactions will no longer require personal visits. Front-line staff will devote full energies to personal service.

    Public safety will begin with core teams at the neighborhood level where citizens, businesses, and property owners will create strategic decisions with police officers they know and trust.

    The District will be assured of enough police officers to serve our Nation and protect our citizens at the same time. New recruitment and training is already in place. Our goal is to have 3800 sworn officers on payroll by October 1.

    New, technology-enriched, "one-stop" service centers will help people find jobs. Two are opening this year -- on Naylor Road Southeast, and on U Street Northwest.

    We will better serve special needs. We can now pay for water filters for more than 600 persons with compromised immune systems due to HIV. We have also created a 25-member police unit specifically for crime prevention in public housing complexes.

    Our new government will have more precise service and more precise equipment to serve better and more efficiently. For instance, rapid response EMS vehicles provide faster on the spot service, in many cases avoiding the need for more elaborate ambulances or fire equipment.

    Public assistance, including cash, will be a stairway to success for those willing to commit to a personal responsibility plan. Such plans will assure training, child care assistance, job readiness assistance, and job search services.

    Electronic transfer cards -- something like credit or debit cards -- will handle cash assistance and food stamp benefits. This reduces mistakes, abuse, mail crimes, and personal safety of recipients.

    Government will come to people, in shopping mall-style "one-stop" centers, more neighborhood and home services, better use of television and Internet communications channels, and wide use of "focus groups" for consumer and citizen policy input. A "One-Stop" model involving several DC agencies will occupy the former Chamberlain School.

    People needing mental health and addiction recovery services will find easy access to counseling, therapy, a variety of treatments, and long-term follow up through comprehensive Behavioral Health Managed Care System. Many more Washingtonians will be served at early stages of their afflictions, reducing both cost and pain.

    Our troubled young people will receive prompt and thorough personal counseling and service at the first sign of trouble -- reducing the demand for detained and committed service. We are also piloting this year the Community Transition Project that provides a support system of mentoring and church sponsorship for young people making the transition from Oak Hill back into the neighborhood.

    Computers will continually organize routes for regular or specialcall trash collection. Demand will immediately move equipment and workers to appropriate work assignments.

    Group buying of key products -- such as paper and medicine -- will bring the cost and service benefits of competitive market practices to all our agencies.

    We're replacing our 16,000 mechanical parking meters with modem, digital meters managed and maintained under private contact.

    Citizens and businesses will file applications, make license payments and file routine tax and business reports electronically. Information and many forms can already be downloaded from the District's Official Home Page on the Internet. With these and hundreds of other innovations, this next year will see a city more efficient, a government more dependable.

    Next year, we will have a city where children get predictable and efficient health care -- regardless of their economic status.

    Next year, we will have a city that sparkles -- clean and inviting to welcome tourists, shoppers, and residents.

    Next year, we will begin to be a "smart" city, electronically enhanced in public and commercial spaces to meet and exceed the new Century's exciting multimedia, virtual environments.

    Next year, we will be a safer city where families and business know and begin to rely on their friendships with police officers and more people walk in confidence than fear.

    Next year and for years to come, we will be a city of knowledge and life-long learning, where no person will be denied a higher degree because we refused to let UDC die!

    Next year, we will be a city of varied and productive careers, inspiring world-class businesses and world-class people of every walk color, faith, and gender to join the competition, join the partnerships, and join a new level of urban living.

    Next year, we will still be a grateful city, extending a helping hand to the region, the nation, and the world. We will understand that while we are blessed, we are not "better than." We will know that our success continues the more we share and collaborate.

    And finally, if our city and our government is to truly be transformed, we must first of all transform our thinking. We must realize we are all interconnected.

    Whether you live in Ward Three or Ward Eight, we are interconnected.

    Whether you have a PhD, or no "d" at all, we are interconnected.

    Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, old or young -- we are all interconnected .

    If we are going to succeed in transforming our city and our government, we must think more positively than negatively. We must help more than we hurt. We must give more than we take.

    In other words, this wonderful city belongs to all of us. Therefore, all of us must not only BE better, we must DO better. That's how our good city will keep getting better and better.

    Last year, I challenged this city to volunteer. Too many people fail to reach outside themselves. They therefore fail to receive the blessing that service brings. But hundreds of you have. I wish I could devote the rest of the evening to praising each of you and the groups you have formed and strengthened. Let me mention a few, however, to let the public know how valuable volunteer partners are to a healthy, vibrant urban culture.

  • Lydia's House, helps at-risk youths and families at-risk in the Anacostia-Congress Heights communities. A former public servant, Patricia Shepard, and her pastor husband are shining lights for this volunteer work, which features mentoring for teenage mothers as well as 8 to 12 year old boys.

  • Clean and Sober Streets, on Second Street N.W., provide "social model" addiction recovery care.

  • Hands on DC, headed by Jennifer Coken, leads thousands of volunteers who help renovate our schools while raising scholarship funds for low-income students. In three years, more than 5,000 volunteers have worked on 50 schools and raised over $119,000 for college scholarships.

  • Best Friends is an educational program for adolescent girls from five to nine, fostering self-respect and responsible behavior. They are one of the nation's most successful programs helping adolescent girls postpone sexual activity.

  • I see Dr. Dorothy I. Height here tonight. She led the drive for the purchase of the only African-American owned property on Pennsylvania Avenue. Her leadership at the National Congress of Negro Women channels thousands of hours of volunteer work into hundreds of meaningful projects.

  • We owe such a tribute to the volunteers of the Alliance of Concerned Men, those men who have so successfully overcome their darker days of addiction and prison life to intervene in young lives around them in Southeast Washington. We came to know them in the aftermath of young Darryl Hall's murder, but their life saving and life giving work has been around for more than six years as a group.

  • And I have to mention a dear friend of mine who heads a group known as the Recreation Wish List Committee. They raise money and mobilize volunteers to do a long list of wonderful things for D.C. Last year, they worked with the Phil Graham Foundation to fully rehabilitate the Benning Park Recreation Center. Now they are focused on a fresh urban dream -- a multi-million dollar Southeast Washington recreation center that is "tennis-center and family-friendly." Let's recognize my special friend, the city's special friend....Cora Masters Barry.

    The limits of government are more apparent that every before. Our vision for a healthier, more prosperous, spiritually sensitive people can never diminish. To reach our goals, we must harness our personal power as well as our collective, government power. We must reach out as people -- in partnership with a sensitive, caring government.

    That's how we will build - with all Americans -- our "Shining City On The Hill."

    May the process continue. May our good city continue to get better.

    Thank you and God bless you and our great city.

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