Councilmember Kathy Patterson: responses to GLAA questionnaire

Responses of Councilmember Patterson to
GLAA 1998 Questionnaire for Council Candidates

1 and 2. Steps I have already taken as a Councilmember to encourage more responsible exercise of power include setting a high standard for Council oversight as chair of the Government Operations Committee and co-chair of the Special Committee on Police Misconduct and Personnel Management. The GovOps investigation of job training contracting led to a cut-off of locally appropriated dollars until we strengthen performance in federally-funded job training, a Department of Labor review and strong corrective action plan, ongoing investigations by several law enforcement agencies, and continuing pressure on the Department of Employment Services to improve its performance.

The Special Committee investigating the Metropolitan Police Department will issue a report this fall with major legislative and procedure recommendations on training, off-duty work, internal affairs, and other critical areas of police work.

Early this year the Council adopted my proposal to encompass a comprehensive "performance review" of executive branch agencies in our FY 99 budget hearings. Several committees, including the Human Services Committee, joined the Government Operations Committee in more serious scrutiny of past-year spending than in earlier budget hearings.

To strengthen the Council's fiscal and policy analysis, I proposed and the Council and other consensus budget partners accepted a $500,000 increase in the Council's budget with roughly half devoted to additional professional staff in the Council's Budget Office and additional staff for four committees with major areas of responsibility: Human Services, Judiciary, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and Government Operations.

Finally, at my recommendation the Council undertook a review of its own operations by the National Conference of State Legislators, and that review is expected to be completed near the end of this year.

One of the most important parts of Council oversight, however, continues to be electing Councilmembers willing to put in the time and the effort to wisely use the considerable power the Council possesses, and I hope this election will provide additional colleagues with that mindset!

3. I voted in favor of the new complaint review panel and I support its full funding. It is my understanding that there may be support on Capitol Hill for this, over and above the budget proposed by the Council, mayor and control board.

4. I voted in favor of Bill 12-612 to permit District residents the same right to privacy on their porches and back yards as afforded within their homes. The legislation, though, does not address the attendant issues of alcohol-related disorderly behavior in many neighborhoods that disrupts those neighborhoods, and as I said during our debate, we need to appropriately enforce existing laws on disorderly conduct, and enforce them well-trained police using sound judgement on a case by case basis.

5. In the instance of the proposed Ward 3 video store that engendered opposition from the neighborhood, prompting Watts' action, I believe it is important to find a good balance between the Constitutional rights of adult District residents to exercise their freedom and the rights of neighborhood residents to have a voice in what kind of retail establishments are permitted in and near residential areas. I support placing some kind of restriction on adult entertainment - including videos - sold or rented in residential districts. I think the proportion of videos that are explicitly adult entertainment and are sold and rented in existing video establishments in residential commercial district can form a legitimate basis for restrictions on new establishments. I believe the average for existing stores was 17% of videos rather than 15%, and to my knowledge there has not been any objection from the communities surrounding these establishments. Further, it is my understanding that other jurisdiction that apply similar restrictions generally use a higher proportion, more in the range of 40% as a limit. It also may be that this is a situation that isn't broken so perhaps should not be fixed, once there is resolution on the establishment that posed the difficulty in the first place.

6. I would not oppose legislation that would permit issuance of liquor licenses to new establishments based on the fact that they offered adult entertainment in non-residential commercial areas.

7. I intend to vote for Initiative 59 based on the recommendation of individuals who have more information than I on the values of medical marijuana.

8. I will oppose legislation in the District that would have the harmful effect of discouraging testing and treatment.

9. Yes, I support additional funding to combat AIDS and would anticipate finding such funding through more rigorous Council budget oversight in other program and service areas.

10. Yes, I support continued District funding for needle exchange.

11. Yes, I support legal recognition of same sex marriages because I do not believe there is any legitimate basis for any civil authority to question a personal decision made by two consenting adults.

12. Yes, I support adoption by unmarried couples. I also support adoption by single individuals. While I would hold this view even if there were not an epidemic of children in foster care, the mere fact of the needs of so many children for stable, permanent homes should force anyone holding the contrary view to re-think his or her position.

13. I have demonstrated my own leadership in securing additional funding for the Office of Human Rights in the last two budget cycles. The FY 99 "consensus" budget includes a 10% increase in OHR funding at my recommendation. With regard to separate cabinet status for OHR, this issue was raised more than a year ago in a draft reorganization plan that would have placed the office within the Office of Personnel. I objected to that plan, in part because lack of independence for the office would jeopardize certain federal funding sources. Whether the Office is cabinet-level or sub-cabinet level, it should nonetheless have access to the mayor and leadership that assures that access.

14. I support the priority given to complaints from individuals with AIDS and other life-threatening conditions. Because that is a matter of current practice and strong consensus, I am not certain that legislation is necessary. I believe the Council tends to pass new laws rather more often than necessary on a range of issues, so I do have an ongoing hesitation to legislate where strong community consensus has resulted in sound practice. I also would not wish to place legislation before the Congress that could put a current strongly-supported policy at risk. Should any future OHR not provide this priority, I would certainly - and quickly - introduce legislation to mandate the priority.

15. I do not support local or federal tax dollars being used for vouchers for religious schools. Having said that, it is important to understand that there is a context within which tax dollars already follow children attending private schools - for food services, for example, when children meet the federal means test for free and reduced price lunches. There are private schools in the District, including ones with religious affiliations, that today offer better education to children than many of our local public schools. In our zeal to prevent public dollars from flowing to secular institutions, it is critical to fix the clear underlying problem and strengthen ALL District of Columbia public schools.

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