On the Record: John Gloster
Mayoral candidates responded in writing to five questions posed by The Washington Post. These are the responses of John Gloster.
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.
The advantage obtained will be greater responsiveness to the needs of the people. Smaller wards will mean a greater level of representation, and more grass-roots-based campaigns that are less affected by outside monied interests. This new, more democratic legislature, and a mayor of the people, will be geared toward the will of the citizens of the District of Columbia. The role of the city manager, and other non-elected officials, will need to be restricted to that of an obedient public servant.
Question 2: Detail the single most important step you would take as mayor to improve the city's schools.
John Gloster: We must recognize that the children in our school system need more personal attention than in some other systems. We must cut class size in half. This and the other initiatives that I propose will cost $200 million to implement, but is the best investment we can make, and will more than pay for itself in reduced socials costs and increased tax-paying, productive human beings. Parental involvement is crucial to a student's success in school.
We will institute a program of "parent involvement counselors," who will help the teachers get the parents involved in their children's education.
The counselors will also assist parents in their effort to help their children. (Many parents are afraid or intimidated about getting involved in their children's education, and may themselves be deficient in basic skills.)
Finally, after-school recreational opportunities should be placed back into the school buildings, so that children have the option of staying in an adult monitored program straight through until 6 p.m. I would relieve teachers of the duty, however, by having professional recreational/"adulthood training" counselors handle these programs.
Question 3: Describe in specific terms the most important steps you would undertake to make the police department more effective.
John Gloster: The best thing we can do is to place the officers amongst the people as often as possible. I would strive to develop more police substations, especially in troubled areas. We need more police on bikes, especially in the summer when children are out of school.
This type of presence is more intimate and direct, non-threatening yet extremely flexible and mobile. Of course Boys and Girls Club activities should be stressed over the summers. Finally, we need to bring back the civilian review board. There have been very disturbing lapses of professionalism, from excessive use of force to cronyism and corruption, that are fostered by the closed-to-the-public status of the department.
Question 4: What would you do to create new jobs in the city?
John Gloster: We must create a sound base of human capital. First and foremost, we must improve public education through my transformation package, which includes cutting class size in half and expanding the University of the District of Columbia. The careers of the 21st century will be dependent on higher levels of education. Further, we will need to be continually retrained as adults, seldom staying in one job for life.
The District's only public university is crucial to fulfilling this role. We will invest in people and raise the quality of life for all. Studies show that the factors which most determine where careers are located are: quality educational facilities; good neighborhoods; low crime; and good public amenities which make us well-rounded people, such as libraries and parks.
Until we greatly raise educational opportunities, and the quality of life, our society will remain dysfunctional. No tax incentives nor government giveaways will produce good, stable jobs in such an environment, as my opponents naively, or disingenuously propose. Additionally, we must develop a five-year plan to diversify our economy away from its near-total reliance on the government and tourism. We must develop ways to spawn homespun businesses across every sector of the District.
Question 5: Describe any issue that you see as vital to the city's future and how it would be handled under your leadership.
John Gloster: We must end corporate welfare, cronyism and corruption. The status quo has been giving away the candy store to large corporate concerns. For example, the government has $1 billion to spend on a new convention center, which will primarily benefit the Marriott Corporation and the suburbs. Meanwhile we do not have money for UDC and our public schools.
This must end. Secondly, we must change our stance on housing and protect renters. We must retain rent control to maintain affordable rents, and to reduce the tendency to price renters out of buildings. Additionally, I will introduce a new program called "Renter's Maintenance Insurance", which would operate like unemployment insurance.
Each month a small portion of one's rent would go into a pool, so that one's rent could be paid for six months if the renter is unexpectedly laid off. In the meantime, we will work to convert all renters into owners. Owners are invested in their neighborhoods and their neighbors, and pay property taxes, while accumulating assets.
Thirdly, for every dollar spent on incarceration, we will spend a dollar on intervention programs designed to keep people from a life of crime. We cannot afford to give up on our youth.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company