District Extra recently asked residents to suggest what Mayor Anthony A. Williams's priorities should be during his second term. Here is what they said:
The police department. We need to have more officers walking in the neighborhoods. Lately there has been an upswing in crime in my neighborhood. The police are aware of the problem but do not seem interested in doing anything about it. There are times when no officers are scheduled to patrol our neighborhood. Residents have been trying to hold the police accountable, but we are met with excuses and double talk. If the mayor wants to attract 100,000 new residents to the District our streets need to be safe.
The public schools. As a lifelong Washingtonian educated in the public schools, I have never seen the school system in such bad shape. Children don't have enough books, equipment or supplies. The buildings are falling apart. Bathrooms have poor plumbing and no stall doors. What happened to the money that was supposed to come from the D.C. Lottery for the schools? If we got what was promised, maybe the kids could have heat in the winter.
Homeless children. The children of homeless families are surely the most vulnerable of all our citizens. All the space at D.C. Village is currently occupied. The heralded opening of a new transitional housing facility will offer housing to only a minimal number of families. The anticipated number of children threatened by hypothermia will reach 200, and no appropriate space has been as yet designated to shelter them and their parents. The city must take action before another child is lost because the "system" failed.
Joan R. Wilson
Southeast. The first thing the mayor is going to have to do is to realize that this is a city of four quadrants and focus equally on each quadrant. We know that Southeast will not receive the services of Capitol Hill or Georgetown, but we would like to receive a reasonable portion of services. We would love to have some economic development in the most forgotten part of the city.
L. Yvonne Moore
Police officers. The crime rate has been steadily increasing -- not just in neighborhoods that are traditionally considered crime-ridden, but also in upscale neighborhoods such as Shepherd Park and Tenleytown. One of the best ways to start attacking the crime rate would be to allocate more money to the Metropolitan Police Department. Many people complain that there aren't enough police patrolling the streets. Perhaps it's because there aren't enough police officers. When you subtract the number of officers who are injured, on leave for whatever reason, or are off on a particular day, obviously there are not going to be many out on the streets.
M. Elizabeth Lewin
Deanwood revitalization. My neighborhood needs revitalization. Here's why.
Insensitive to children's needs.
Unaccountable for the participation and behavior of their children.
Speeding up to 100 mph across 49th and Lee streets.
The playground leading from the Deanwood Metro station is always dark, and several people, including my husband, have been attacked and robbed at gunpoint.
Marlene F. Gray
Open Klingle Road. Klingle Road should be restored to its historic use as a parkway connector between neighborhoods. By saving Klingle Road, we will enhance public safety, improve transportation efficiency, and spur economic development, while preserving Olmsted's historic parkway access across Rock Creek Park.
Progressive taxes. The District is in a severe fiscal crisis. We desperately need more revenue to meet the essential needs of our children, the elderly and low-income residents. Our public health system is not working effectively. Half of our residents live in families below self-sufficiency. Public education is underfunded. Poverty and income inequality have gone up. Yet our local regressive tax structure continues to force low- and middle-income residents to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than do the wealthy. While we campaign for budgetary and legislative autonomy, a reciprocal commuter tax and D.C. statehood, we should tap the resources available in the District to better meet essential needs.
Neighborhood cleanup. The city needs to make neighborhood cleanup a greater priority. Inspectors should visit the residences of people who litter their yards with bulk items and abandoned cars, and those who improperly dispose of their trash by not using trash cans or placing them on public space on non-pickup days. If the problem is not corrected within a specified time, immediate fines should be assessed.
Crime and education. If the mayor truly wants to boost the population by 100,000, he and the D.C. Council need to tackle two fundamental issues: crime and education. Over the years, I have seen friends and colleagues move to the Virginia and Maryland suburbs for these two reasons. In my own neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, car theft, drug activity and robbery at gunpoint are still major problems, and yet we are lucky if one D.C. police officer is on duty during the early morning hours when most of these crimes take place. The city also needs to focus on education -- specifically, making our public schools live up to the same standards of Virginia and Maryland. If the mayor really wants to make this city a success, he needs to put aside his numbers goal and focus on basic services -- otherwise, he is going to lose even more of tax base than what he has now.
Street repair. All, not some, of D.C. streets are deplorable. It is useless to have a car aligned since the horrible conditions of D.C. streets will just ruin the alignment. Filling up potholes does not work. The awful potholes at Kenilworth Avenue before the Tuxedo Road exit to go onto Route 50 west were filled before Christmas and the filling is coming up again. The corner of Queens Chapel and Bladensburg roads NE is getting worse so that drivers cannot make a right or left turn at this intersection because of the craters. When you drive out of the D.C. area you will know when you are back in the city simply because of the bumpy streets.
Carlyta M. Smith
Senior citizens. How do people survive when health care is so expensive? People can't eat properly and buy medicine. Even trying to reach the city to ask for help is confusing. The new phone system doesn't work. People press numbers and listen to recordings and music and never get their questions answered.
Juanita J. Styler
D.C. jail. The population is unreasonably high, and the conditions are deplorable. There just aren't enough case managers, correctional officers, medical staff and so forth. Most of the improvements the jail has made were mainly cosmetic, such as painting, installing a digital display board to show the population and renewing the air duct system. The jail is overcrowded and is a health hazard that needs immediate attention.
Dameion A. Tunstall
Health care. The so-called system that was put into place when the mayor decided to close D.C. General Hospital is a joke. The mayor was not looking for a new or better way to serve the people; he wanted D.C. General closed, period, because he wanted to build expensive, overpriced housing on the property.
Housing costs. With the rising cost of rents and mortgages in the District, how is a family that is struggling to keep food on the table going to pay the rent, when the rent is going up faster than anyone could see and their income is getting smaller?
Day care. My husband and I have reasonable salaries and good benefits but with today's cost of living we could still use some help. My issue is affordable child care. We currently pay $475 a month for our daughter's day care and I found out recently that infant care for our new baby is going to cost $200 a week. Why are child-care vouchers only for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families? Why do my taxes pay for other people's child care but I can't get help paying for my own children?
Tamara N. White