From an Oct. 17 WAMU-FM radio commentary by Carol Schwartz, former Republican at-large member of the D.C. Council:

The D.C. Council has unanimously passed emergency legislation that would require any contract or lease worth more than $1 million to be subject to council review. Emergency legislation always lasts for 90 days, which conveniently, is the amount of the time Marion Barry has left in his term. Of course, our clever mayor could start handing out $999,000 contracts to circumvent the law, but hopefully even he will pass on that option.

. . . I'm glad the council is acting to take care of this immediate problem. But I'm also getting concerned. It appears that there is now movement on the council to make the contract and leasing legislation permanent. . . . It is one thing for the council to react to an emergency situation now; it is another for it to overreact by hamstringing the new mayor. . . . Government needs to work -- services need to be provided. If the council -- which meets formally only twice a month -- has to review most contracts, government cannot work as it should.

The council needs to give the new mayor a chance. It basically let Marion Barry get away with murder, and now, probably out of guilt . . . it does not want to give the new administration an inch.

Citizens do not want the council to take control of the government; what they want is for the council to use its oversight function to ensure that the government is working properly and efficiently. If in the future . . . it is not, then the council can take more drastic steps, such as contract review. But it should not make the incoming administration pay for the mayor and council's transgressions of the past.

The city's ship is sinking -- our new captain must have the latitude to keep it afloat.