On the Record: Jack Evans
Mayoral candidates responded in writing to five questions posed by The Washington Post. These are the responses of Jack Evans.
Question 1: As you know there have been discussions about what form city government should take after the D.C. financial control board goes out of existence. Describe the governmental structure that you believe would best serve the District and, specifically, what role, if any, a professional city manager should play.
As mayor, I would choose a professional city administrator with a proven track record in municipal management. This individual would operate free of political agendas, concentrating on the most efficient delivery of services to our citizens. Accountability would be the touchstone of an Evans administration. Under a "strong mayor" system, the mayor is directly accountable to citizens who have maximum opportunities for influencing governance in the District.
Question 2: Detail the single most important step you would take as mayor to improve the city's schools.
Jack Evans: Site-based management should be the cornerstone of D.C. Public School System reforms. Decentralizing as much authority and discretion as possible to a principal is the most effective way to instill a system of accountability. This will work only if communities parents, civic leaders, the religious community are fully engaged in setting priorities and assessing the performance of schools.
Choosing the best principals proven managers and leaders is absolutely critical. I would favor entering into performance agreements with principals, the elements of which would reflect the realities of the particular school.
Parents must be accountable, too for preparing their children for classes and providing needed discipline. Students, in turn, must be accountable for their behavior. I would also favor bringing the school system into the executive branch so that the mayor is ultimately responsible and can ensure that resources of other city agencies are also focused on improving our educational system.
Question 3: Describe in specific terms the most important steps you would undertake to make the police department more effective.
Jack Evans: I would do the following to make the police department more effective: 1) Free up uniformed officers to go on street patrol by hiring at least 100 additional civilian employees to perform administrative and support tasks. 2) Put at least 1,000 more police officers out of the office and onto the street within one year. 3) Develop rapid response teams to handle emergency calls. 4) Implement automated field reporting to reduce the time it takes to process reports.
5) Conduct thorough background checks of recruits. 6) Implement standardized testing of new recruits. 7) Require a two-year college degree or equivalent experience for new recruits. 8) Establish a cooperative recruitment program with local colleges and universities to identify, educate and train quality recruits. 9) Reinstate remedial classes for new recruits and current officers. 10) Use pay incentives to attract new recruits from the military.
11) Help officers establish residency in communities where they work. 12) Establish regional command centers, community substations and "beat teams". 13) Restructure shifts to foster community policing by allowing time for problem solving. 14) Establish performance standards. 15) Give raises to officers who meet standards, seek higher education or undertake professional development. 16) Increase the pay scale for all officers.
Question 4: What would you do to create new jobs in the city?
Jack Evans: We make it difficult for businesses to operate here. We need to amend our tax structure and business fees to make the District competitive with the surrounding suburbs. Licensing, permitting, and other regulatory systems need to be reworked to minimize inconveniences to businesses while still protecting the public interest.
Businesses face arduous processes and long waits to conduct even the most rudimentary transactions. The city should explore whether self-certification, contracting out or re-engineering could be a more effective means of service delivery. Educating and training our young people and adults for jobs in burgeoning fields such as information and biotechnology must be a priority.
The University of the District of Columbia could be the centerpiece of such an effort. UDC could structure its course offerings to complement the labor demands of local industries, including communications, technology, banking, insurance, entertainment and hospitality. I will also focus on attracting residents back to the city. Fixing our public schools, improving basic city services, and perpetuating the decline in crime are the most attractive way to attract residents and the taxes they pay. In addition we must promote affordable housing to encourage the middle class to return to the city.
Question 5: Describe any issue that you see as vital to the city's future and how it would be handled under your leadership.
Jack Evans: Chronic problems with overall city management and the delivery of services are the most universally felt problems citywide. In response, I will structure a city government that is continually improving and adapting itself to changing technologies and customer service expectations.
All across the country municipalities are experiencing success in innovation, experimentation, and self-renewal. We need to develop a spirit among city employees that motivates them to excel and serve the citizens in an exemplary manner. We need a system that focuses on solutions and results, not just on adherence to rules and regulations.
Possible innovations would include benchmarking, which compares our record to the best practices of other cities; competition between public and private agencies or between various public sector agencies; an Innovation Bank where city agencies could borrow against future budgets to implement reforms; agency-wide bonuses for agencies that exceed goals; a Citizen Scorecard, which would allow citizens to judge city agencies against agreed upon service standards.
Finally, I would require every line manager, starting with the mayor, to spend one day a month in a customer service position or in the field to observe firsthand how services are delivered.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company