Kevin P. Chavous: responses to GLAA questionnaire

Responses of Kevin P. Chavous to
GLAA 1998 Questionnaire for Mayoral Candidates

Part I. Conduct of Office

1. What lessons have you drawn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others that will help you facilitate a speedy return of home rule powers if you are elected Mayor?

My administration will 1) develop a nation-wide information campaign so that our fellow citizens understand the inefficiency of Congress's straggle hold on our policies and tax dollars; 2) establish an office for intensely lobbying members of Congress; and 3) keep DC citizens much better informed about the relationship between Congress and the District.

2. As Mayor, will you actively lobby the Control Board for reforms in management, oversight, and budgets, even for agencies and departments over which you will have no formal control for much of your term?

The last budget process illustrated that an improved working relationship between the council, control board and the Mayor's office is possible and can be productive. As Mayor, I will emphasize centralize information flow and regularly scheduled meetings to streamline the working relationship between all parties and set goals for the implementation of the prescribed management reforms. However, I'm running to be the Chief Executive Officer and primary policymaker of the District of Columbia. I intend to win this election with a strong majority of the vote and, with this mandate from District voters, I will work for the restoration of our democratic rights. I am committed to working with the Control Board, but their policymaking role will be secondary to that of the elected representatives of the people.

3. Gay and lesbian community leaders were heavily involved in the recent search process that led to the selection of a new Police Chief. Will you ensure that lesbians and gay men will be similarly involved in any search for new heads for the police department, health department, the Agency for HIV-AIDS, and other agencies of particular interest to our community.

The Gay and Lesbian community has specific issues and history around fair police practices. Their contribution to the recruitment process for police chief was indispensable in assuring that city officials considered their very critical perspective. The same is obviously true in future hirings in the police and health departments, the Agency for HIV-AIDS, and other agencies of particular interest to our community.

Part II. Public Safety

4. What will you do to improve the often-strained relations between the various public safety agencies (police, fire department, corrections) and the District's gay and lesbian community?

Under my administration, a civilian complaint review system will be established. This board will be comprised of individuals who represent the diversity of the District and is inclusive of all interest groups. This will ensure that all citizens are involved in the oversight and review of complaints. The staff will consist of paid full-time professional staff sufficient to address and investigate District resident's concerns in a timely and effective manner. The committee will design and implement a review process that includes the availability of independent investigations.

Additionally, the police and other public safety forces must be trained to eliminate abuse of District residents and visitors. My administration will not tolerate mistreatment, refusal of services, slow response time or any other discriminatory act committed by public officers. The issues surrounding the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community will be fully addressed by my administration. Many reforms are necessary and I will work closely with the community to ensure they are achieved and properly enforced. The support of each community will be necessary to ensure the Control Board fully funds this program and I will work diligently to ensure the necessary support is present.

5. The federalization and privatization of the functions of the Department of Corrections have often resulted in the placement of D.C. prisoners in facilities that have no condom availability programs. To the extent possible, do you favor requiring private contractors to provide condom availability programs similar to those that have been in effect in D.C. facilities, and will you lobby federal and state prison officials to adopt similar programs in facilities where D.C. prisoners are housed?

I support requiring a condom availability program in privatized prisons where D.C. resident's are housed. The prevention of AIDS will be a top priority in my administration. This includes education and training at all levels of District government. Condom availability will decrease the risk of spreading AIDS, especially in areas typically under-served by AIDS prevention programs.

Additionally, I opposed the privatization of D.C. prisons and will continue to fight for locally controlled prisons within the District's supervision. The privatization of prisons compromises the ability of the District to manage and control the facility and thus exposes our citizens to the mercy of private citizens who are rarely held accountable for inappropriate actions.

6. Do you support passage and full funding for the new civilian complaint review system to be established by Bill 12-521 of the "Office of Citizen Complaint Review Establishment Act of 1998?"

As earlier stated I am in favor of a citizen complaint review system to ensure citizens are able to oversee and review complaints. This will be a priority in my administration. I will ensure the board is comprised of interest groups and fully represents the residents of the District. Full funding will be necessary to achieve this goal, and I intend to make sure that happens.

7. Do you support Bill 12-612, the "Opened Alcoholic Beverage Containers Amendment Act of 1998" (a.k.a. the "Chardonnay Lady Bill"), that would allow people to drink alcohol beverages on their own porches without fear of arrest?

I voted in favor of the "Opened Alcoholic Beverages Containers Amendment Act of 1998." While we would all hope that our police could distinguish between excessive public drinking and non-intrusive recreational drinking on a porch, it was apparent that our current force needed additional guidance.

8. Will you veto any legislation similar to the recently-defeated Bill 12-279, the "Arrest Without Warrant by Law Enforcement Officers Amendment Act of 1997," that would expand the right of police officers to arrest people for "quality of life" offenses on mere hearsay and without warrants?

Any legislation presented which erodes the rights of District residents will be vetoed. My administration will strongly support the protection of District residents by opposing legislation that in effect places them at the mercy of individual discretion. Legislation of this sort breeds discrimination, as much is left to the discretion of an individual whose personal beliefs may over-power their professional goal. It is absolutely imperative that our rights remain intact. I will veto any legislation that threatens to eliminate those rights.

Part III. AIDS and Other Public Health Issues

9. Do you support Initiative 59 (or similar legislation) to legalize the use of medical marijuana when a patient's doctor recommends it as a means to combat some of the effects of AIDS, cancer, and other diseases?

I signed the petition and support the Initiative.

10. What will you do to combat the persistent failure of District health agencies to spend their full appropriated local funds to combat AIDS? Do you agree that these agencies should be required to monitor all their grant funding?

The District consistency turns away funds that are rightfully ours and needed to run critical programs. Within my first 100 days, I will establish an office – which may or may not be permanent – to identify, apply for and track federal and foundation monies. We must determine why our bureaucracy is unable to bring in these monies and implement a process that enables us to get "our rightful share" of programs that would benefit our citizens.

11. What will you propose as strategies for promoting AIDS-related education and services for underserved and high-risk populations?

I intend to work closely with community-based organizations and agencies that are currently providing AIDS education. My administration will work to fill holes in the current education program. I will work with the Department of Health to ensure that under-served areas where there is a high incidence of AIDS are targeted for education programs in the schools, hospitals and clinics. I will work closely with community based health services to place services where they are needed.

12. The New York State Legislature recently passed legislation saying that: (1) doctors must report the names of people who test positive for HIV to public health officials; and that (2) health workers must attempt to have infected patients identify their sex or drug-use partners and then must notify those partners of possible exposure. Such measures are invariably counter-productive and discourage those most at risk from being tested and treated for HIV. Will you oppose any such legislation in the District, vetoing it if necessary?

I will ask the assistance of all groups working to control the spread of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted disease to join in devising an effective means of controlling the transmission OF AIDS without intruding on the rights of the infected.

13. Do you support an increase in District government funding to combat AIDS in line with the continuing increase in the caseload?

The prevention and treatment of AIDS will be a top priority of my administration. The budget will reflect this commitment.

14. Do you support continued District government funding for the needle exchange program to combat the spread of AIDS? Will you actively resist congressional efforts to end such funding?

The City Council passed the legislation for this program. Of course, I'll fight against congressional interference in our social programming.

Part IV. Curbing Regulatory Abuse

15. In an apparent effort to bolster his standing with some segments of the District community, the recently ousted chief of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, David Watts, instituted a zoning regulation earlier this year barring video stores from deriving more than 15% of their revenues from sexually-oriented videos. Do you agree that this attack on the rights of adult consumers is utterly unwarranted and that there should be no limits on the proportion of video store revenues derived from adult videos?

The case you are referring to illustrates the failure on the part of DCRA to implement correctly existing zoning and business regulations. The issues are complex, and the process was arbitrary. This has to be corrected. Our laws have to clear and our enforcement orderly.

16. Will you support legislation to reauthorize and regulate the issuance of liquor licenses to establishments (in designated nonresidential commercial districts) that want to offer nude dancing as entertainment?


Part V. Defending Our Families

17. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?

Same sex marriages are contrary to my religious beliefs and training. However, I voted for the District's Domestic Partnership Bill and feel strongly that many of our nontraditional relationships deserve and need access to insurance coverage and inheritance rights.

18. Will you lobby Congress to overturn the current Congressional restrictions on the District's funding of the DC Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992?

Yes. My administration will 1) develop a nation-wide information campaign so that our fellow citizens understand the inefficiency of Congress's straggle hold on our policies and tax dollars; 2) establish an office for intensely lobbying members of Congress; and 3) keep DC citizens much better informed about the relationship between Congress and the District.

19. Do you support the current District policy, sanctioned by a court ruling, of allowing adoptions by unmarried couples? Will you actively resist congressional efforts to outlaw such adoptions in the District?

District children awaiting adoption or placement with foster parents need immediate access to loving, committed couples and individuals. The District must ensure that racial and gender barriers don't block adoptions by committed couples and singles.

Part VI. Upholding the D.C. Human Rights Law

20. Will you propose the reestablishment of the Office of Human Rights (OHR) as an independent, Cabinet-level agency whose Director has direct access to the Mayor? If the Control Board fails to act on this proposal, will you submit an appropriate reorganization plan for Council approval when your powers are restored?

[See answer to 21 below.]

21. Do you favor an increased budget for OHR so that its heavy case backlog can be eliminated?

I will monitor the performance of the Office of Human Rights and ensure that its budget permits efficient operation. None of my agencies will be permitted to operate with a backlog.

22. Will you propose legislation that would codify OHR's current practice of granting top priority to discrimination complaints from those afflicted with AIDS or other imminently life-shortening conditions?

Yes, I would support legislation giving people with AIDS and life-shortening conditions priority in proceedings before the OHR.

23. Do you agree that District government agencies are indeed covered by the DC Human Rights Act of 1977?

No DC agency should discriminate based on characteristics of race, sex, sexual preference, national origin, disabilities, etc. All agencies should focus on one thing: job performance. In my administration, all agencies heads and managers will be evaluated on their ability to supervise a productive multi-cultural, multi-racial staff composed of men and women whose non-work-hours relationships are not a part of their performance ratings.

Part VII. Education and Youth

24. Proposals for establishing a system of vouchers for private schools, whether here or elsewhere around the country, would funnel taxpayer dollars to religious schools controlled by denominations that frequently are aggressively homophobic. Will you oppose any legislation authorizing vouchers for religious schools?

I am opposed to vouchers. I believe they will further weaken our public schools.

25. How do you propose to improve District government services for gay and lesbian youth?

I intend to develop a counseling code with the DC public schools and clearly define students' rights and responsibilities. Research states that gay and lesbian youth are at higher risk of suicide and drug-use. School counselors will be trained to develop a supportive atmosphere for gay and lesbian youth and for students questioning their sexual orientation.

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