THE CITY COUNCIL had the wisdom last week to reassert its determination to free D.C. General Hospital from the bureaucratic clutches of Mayor Washington's Department of Human Resources. As you may recall, the mayor had trotted out a variety of convoluted and unimpressive excuses for vetoing a bill placing the unaccredited hospital under an independent commission. But the council overrode this veto by a vote of 12 to 2, with only Douglas Moore and Wilhelmina Rolark buying the mayor's arguments.
The council's latest action doesn't end the legislative procedures, however. Under the city charter, the bill now goes to President Carter, who has 30 days in which he may either sustain the mayor's veto or take no action. If Mr. Carter sustains the veto, the bill dies; if he takes no action, the bill goes to Congress for a 30-day legislative review period.
President Carter should let the D.C. General bill go - not just because it is a significant, constructive measure with some firm deadlines for doing something about the sorry management of the hospital, but also because there is an important matter of local self-determination at stake here. We see no reason for the President of the United States to step in and kill local bills that have been duty enacted by the elected city government after thorough consideration by the executive and legislative and legislative branches at city hall.
Indeed, for better of for worse, any legislation having to do with purely local affairs ought to be free from presidential intervention. Mayor Washington himself must recognize the ill effects of White House veto powers on the local democratic process. We hope that Mr. Carter's special assistant and liaison for District affairs. Bunny Mitchell, will underscore the significance of a White House "hands-off" policy when it comes to vetoes and overrides at city hall.