Carol Schwartz: responses to GLAA questionnaire

Responses of Carol Schwartz 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?

The best way to restore home rule powers in the District is to ensure that the city's budget is balanced for the next two years. By law, the Control Board will go out of existence if the District balances its budget for four years in a row. By balancing the budget for the past two years, the clock has begun ticking on the Control Board's demise. As Mayor, I would ensure a return of local rule by maintaining balanced budgets for the next two years. But a return to home rule can not be assured just with a balanced budget. We must also provide good accountable and responsible government for our citizens. As Mayor, I will work to ensure that 1) city services are provided in an efficient timely manner, 2) employees are properly trained, evaluated for their performance, and those who do not perform are removed from their job, 3) contracts are competitively bid and monitored, and 4) federal grants are applied for in a timely manner and properly managed.

In the past, the Mayor and the City Council passed budgets that were unrealistic resulting in a city burdened with too much debt. While my colleagues on the City Council voted for those budgets, I was the lone member to speak out and vote against them—so no mistakes here. In addition, previous Mayors made poor judgments in appointing friends to high-level positions within the District government, and added thousands of District employees to the government bureaucracy without proper training and performance reviews. Finally, the City Council did not conduct proper oversight of the District government. When I previously served on the City Council in the 1980s, I did not chair a committee. If I had, I can assure you I would have exercised oversight and set an example for my colleagues. Now, as chair of a committee, oversight has been my watchword. I believe the District government is taking steps to correct these deficiencies, and as Mayor, I will continue those efforts to ensure a speedy return to home rule powers.

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?

Yes. Despite the frequent complaint that the Mayor has few remaining powers, the Mayor still has a great deal of power. While I must admit the Control Board has the ultimate authority, that does not mean the Mayor can not use her bully pulpit, leadership, and expertise in areas to help guide the District and its government in the areas of management, oversight, and budget. Not only do I plan to work with the Control Board over its remaining two years of existence, I will work with all agencies of the government to ensure reform is taking place. It is still the Mayor's responsibility to propose legislation and the budget, make personnel appointments, and to speak on behalf of the District. You can be assured I will strive to be one step ahead of the Control Board so they do not have to exercise their ultimate authority. In addition, it is important that the Mayor be an active player in all parts of the government now in order for there to be a smooth transition once the Control Board is dismantled so that our elected officials will be able to manage this city's government effectively.

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?

Yes. The gay and lesbian community should be involved in the selection process of the lead personnel of those agencies that impact the gay and lesbian community, and I was pleased to see a number of representatives of the gay and lesbian community on the search committee for the new Police Chief. On the other hand, I was disappointed to learn that the community was not very involved in the selection of the new Administrator for the Administration for HIV/AIDS. As your Mayor that would not have happened under my watch. The active involvement of the gay and lesbian community at the beginning of the selection process not only helps the District chose the best agency leader, but can help educate candidates of the community's concerns, and establish communication channels early on with the eventual agency head.

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?

I believe continued public participation in the hiring process of department heads as well as sensitivity training will improve relations between agency heads and all segments of our city, including the gay and lesbian community. As Mayor I would set an example for the rest of the government to follow. My long-standing and well-known support for the gay and lesbian community and my close relationship with community leaders would help set the clear tone that discrimination will not be tolerated. You can be assured that I will adamantly speak against any and all forms of discrimination, and take the necessary disciplinary actions to punish those who discriminate. Although I support routine and mandatory sensitivity training in all the public safety agencies, additional communication between the gay and lesbian community and the various agencies should be institutionalized. This can be carried out through establishing periodical meetings and agency liaisons.

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?

Yes. I have been a long time supporter of the condom availability program in our prisons. Such programs go a long way in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and together with proper education and leadership, it can save lives. The situation we currently face with the private correction facility in Ohio must be addressed by either changing the Ohio law, seeking an exemption, or housing our prisoners elsewhere. When we next enter into a contract with a private prison, I will make sure that the availability of condoms will be part of the contract.

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

Yes and Yes. I was an original co-sponsor of the bill and voted for it at its first reading. I am looking forward to voting for it at its second reading this fall to re-establish this very needed check on possible police abuses. Incidentally, I was not a member of the City Council when they voted to discontinue the previous board. I was disappointed to learn when I voted for the new CCRB that there would be no funds to establish it. Since then it appears the Congress may use federal funds for the first year to get the board up and running. As Mayor I will ensure there is adequate funding to carry out the CCRB in future years.

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 alcoholic beverages on their own porches without fear of arrest?

Yes. On April 7, I introduced the bill (Bill 12-612, the "Opened Alcoholic Beverage Containers Amendment Act of 1998) before the City Council, and have championed it through the Council from its hearing and Committee vote to its successful first reading. I worked very closely with GLAA on this bill, and thank you for your assistance. Now, I look forward to its final passage to correct the unfortunate enforcement over reach by the Metropolitan Police Department.

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?

Yes, I voted against the bill on the City Council, which helped lead to its defeat. The bill was too broad in scope and would have threatened an individual's civil liberties. As Mayor I would veto such legislation.

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 patient's doctor recommends it as a means to combat some of the effects of AIDS, cancer, and other diseases?

Yes. For medical purposes, marijuana should be treated as any other form of medication. I also support additional ongoing clinical trials to fully assess all side effects and drug interaction effects. Like any other drugs, there needs to be strict oversight to prevent any abuse, and it should only be dispensed under strict doctor's control.

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

All agencies should not only have a full understanding of how their funds are distributed, but also have evidence of the effectiveness of those allocations. As the former Vice-President of Whitman Walker Clinic, I was aware first-hand of the burden that the DC government causes when not issuing money owed to AIDS service organizations. As Mayor I will expect that all monies are spent on a timely basis--I will expect no less. I will work with the Chief Financial Officer, who reports to the Mayor, and demand that AHA, and for that matter, all District agencies, issue periodic reports of their spending. Appropriate corrective steps should be taken if they are not performing adequately, and I will not hesitate to dismiss non-performing employees.

Of course I believe the agencies should be required to monitor their grant funding. It is sad to think that we would demand anything less from our government. But, I am aware that in the past there has been poor grant monitoring. As Chair of the Committee on Local, Regional, and Federal Affairs, I have conducted two oversight hearings on grants management. Precious lives and precious dollars are at stake, we must make certain neither is being wasted.

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

There is no question that AIDS money and AIDS education should go to where there is the highest risk. In addition, we must also ensure that those who are under served are properly served. I have a long, strong personnel commitment to HIV/AIDS, which GLAA is fully aware and knowledgeable. One thing the District government can do, which I will support as Mayor, is to make sure the dollars and programs are going to where they are needed. I would ask AHA to investigate and report on this situation, and ask them to correct any funding allocations, if necessary. In addition, in order to reach high-risk groups I would propose that AIDS prevention, testing and treatment information be included in District assistance program mailings, such as welfare and unemployment checks. There should also be mandatory instruction on HIV/AIDS in the D.C. public school system. Additionally, I would make sure the needle-exchange program is adequately running and that drug treatment and AIDS education programs are a mandatory component of the program. Finally, I would work with the religious community in the District to encourage them to be a partner in AIDS education efforts.

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?

This is a difficult question for the AIDS community and for civil libertarians, both of which I associate myself with. First, let me state that I strongly believe in the right to privacy, especially in our healthcare system, and when it comes to AIDS where there has been so much discrimination. At the Whitman-Walker Clinic I always fought for such privacy protections. Let me also say that knowledge of ones HIV status is very important to ones well-being and treatment, and it is important to track not only AIDS, but also HIV. While I recognize the concerns about civil liberty issues and privacy, I am aware that certain groups, such as the National Association of People With AIDS and the Gay Men's Health Crisis, have recently decided to support names reporting. As Mayor I would work with the AIDS community and other groups, including GLAA, in order to establish a position that is acceptable for all who care about this issue.

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

Yes. While the caseload has increased dramatically over the years, the District has not adequately shouldered its responsibility in dealing with the serious AIDS epidemic in our city (although Congress has supported sizable federal increases, which has benefited the city.) One area where I believe the District can especially increase its share of the costs is in supporting the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). With the advent of protease inhibitors lives can be saved and extended. Unfortunately, these drugs are very expensive, and for those without insurance, can be prohibitively expensive.

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?

Yes. I have been a long time strong advocate of needle exchange programs. Not only does it prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but can establish the necessary link to drug treatment for IV drug users. I have been actively lobbying Congress to make sure the District will be able to fund the needle exchange program. First, on June 24 I testified before the House D.C. Appropriations Subcommittee in support of the D.C. budget and urged them to pass it without adding any extraneous riders, including a ban on D.C.'s needle exchange program. Since then I have been actively lobbying the Congress either through personal meetings and letters against the inclusion of any riders. I was pleased that my efforts at first paid off and the House Appropriations Committee rejected the local needle exchange funding ban. However, I was very disturbed to see that the full House overturned the Committee action and voted for the ban. Be assured that I will be working hard over the next few weeks to ensure that the House decision does not become final.

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 & 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?

Yes. I agree with the GLAA that there are better uses of DCRA's time and resources than targeting video stores for their level of revenues from certain types of videos. Adults should have the right to rent adult oriented videos if they so choose. I also believe that businesses should be sensitive to their surrounding neighborhoods and the presence of minors. Video stores should appropriately display adult videos, and clearly delineate and mark those parts of their store which carry them in order to protect minors. If DCRA ever decides again to establish zoning regulations for video stores they should do so in a more open atmosphere, conduct public hearings, and include all parties in the discussion and decision.

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?

Yes. Prior to my current term on the City Council, the moratoria on new establishments was instituted. I support these establishments as long as they are in designated nonresidential commercial zones.

Part V. Defending Our Families

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

I support same-sex relationships that are characterized by love and mutual support, and will continue to defend DC's current Domestic Partnership Law, and will work to strengthen it. If I am Mayor and the community decides it wishes to pursue this legislation, you can be assured that I will consider it with the same open mind that you know me to have.

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

Yes. I believe in local autonomy, and as I stated above in the answer to question #14, I have been lobbying the Congress against the inclusion of these riders in our annual appropriation bill. The DC Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 was passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, unfortunately, we have never been able to implement it, even with our own local funds. Since then, I have been advocating before the Congress to allow us to use our own funds. As Mayor, and as a Republican, I probably can be the best advocate to convince the Congress to overturn the prohibition.

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?

Yes, I do support the District's policy on adoptions and have actively lobbied Congress on this matter. (See answer to question #14). I believe that everyone must be treated fairly and equally, and have not been afraid to tell the Congress so. Sexual orientation should not be a factor in determining whether someone should be awarded custody of a child who needs a loving and nurturing home. In every instance there needs to be a thorough background check for all wishing to adopt, and what is in the best interest of the child should be the determining factor. In my personal life I have witnessed many same-sex couples who have adopted children together, and have felt the love and commitment that characterizes these families.

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

20. Will you propose the re-establishment 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?

Yes and Yes. Budget constraints and indifference should not be allowed to curtail our commitment to human rights for all our citizens. The current Office of Human Rights does not have the focus that it truly deserves, and I would work to reorganize it.

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

Yes. As an active member of the Committee on Government Operations, I have been working on addressing the backlog issue by pressuring OHR with tough questions and supporting increased funding levels.

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. This can be an issue of life or death, and people with life-threatening conditions should receive top priority.

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

Yes. One of the basic premises of our country's founding is that nobody is above the law. The District government, its agencies, personnel or anyone else empowered to act on its behalf are covered by all DC laws and acts.

Part VII. Education & 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?

Yes. I am opposed to vouchers, believe in the public school system, and have been actively lobbying the Congress against including vouchers in the D.C. Appropriation bill.

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

The best way the District government can directly impact gay and lesbian youth is through the public school system. I will make sure that all school teachers, principals, and administrators are sensitive to the concerns of gay and lesbian youth, that they will not stand for any harassment against them, and will ensure there is counseling and support systems for these students. Such issues should also be included in the District's school curriculum. On a personal level, I have always been a financial supporter of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, which offers vital programs and counseling to our gay and lesbian youth.

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