Howell protests one-sided HIV surveillance roundtable meetingGAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
July 6, 1999
The Honorable Anthony A. Williams
Mayor of the District of Columbia
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Dear Mayor Williams:
I am writing to voice my protest over the grotesquely one-sided HIV Surveillance Roundtable Meeting arranged by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) at the request of the D.C. Agency for HIV/AIDS (AHA) on July 1.
As background, you should understand that AHA had intended to restrict the audience at this meeting to those it had specifically invited and to close the discussion to the public. When COG officials told me a few days before the meeting that I could not come because I was not on AHA’s list of invitees, I began to mobilize all available resources to force the meeting open. Prudently, COG Executive Director Michael Rogers informed me that “no one would be turned away” at the door. As a result, quite a few interested community activists, and at least one reporter, were able to attend the discussion.
I hope you will excuse my naiveté, but I had actually gone into this meeting expecting that we would be hearing a balanced presentation of the pros and cons of names reporting systems and unique identifiers systems. Instead, every speaker was in favor of names reporting and against unique identifiers. This was nothing but a dog-and-pony show to convince Councilmembers and members of your staff of the wisdom of AHA’s preference for a names reporting system. By deliberately excluding anyone with a contrary point of view, AHA and COG abused the public’s trust, wasted the taxpayers’ money, and insulted everyone -- including yourself and a majority of the Council -- who dissents from the party line they have established.
As we have said before, AHA Director Ron Lewis has been openly insubordinate by refusing to obey your instructions to put on the brakes on his plans to impose a names reporting system. He has proven to be a master of manipulating people and information to come up with “advice” that he has dictated from the start. He still thinks you should be deferring to him instead of the other way around. We hope you will not be taken in by his stunts but will instead hold true to the commitments you have made.
cc: Dr. Michael Canavan, Office of the City Administrator
Carlene Cheatam, Office of the Mayor
The Honorable Sandy Allen, Chairman, Committee on Human Services
The Honorable Jack Evans
The Honorable Carol Schwartz
The Honorable David Catania
The Washington Blade