GLAA urges increase in OHR budget
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
April 13, 2000
The Honorable Kathy Patterson
Committee on Government Operations
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
As your committee prepares for the April 17 mark-up of the FY 2001 budget for the Office of Human Rights, I'd like to offer some concrete suggestions to supplement GLAA's call for added funds for OHR.
Mr. Charles Holman spoke to our last GLAA meeting this past Tuesday evening, and frankly admitted that the current (FY 2000) budget for his agency is inadequate. While he loyally supported the Administration's budget request for FY 2001, clearly it too will be inadequate, especially if our goal is to eliminate the excessive case backlog that has plagued OHR for so long. Two or three more staff positions, as envisioned in the Mayor's request, will certainly be useful, but it will not be nearly enough.
We would urge the committee to put in $500,000 more than the Administration requested for FY 2001, and that these funds be dedicated expressly for reducing the backlog. To provide Mr. Holman maximum flexibility in making staffing and other decisions, we would suggest that the additional funds be earmarked for contracting services. Part of OHR's responsibility in FY 2001 should be to develop a plan for bringing the agency into conformity by the end of FY 2003 with the mandate that the average time between filing a complaint and a finding on probable cause should be one year (as opposed to the current lag of roughly two and a half years).
The existing backlog at OHR is a disgrace to a city that supposedly prides itself on its commitment to civil rights. Peter Schott, a gay member of the Commission on Human Rights, told Monday night's meeting of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club that a case he is currently hearing was first filed in 1990. What kind of justice is that?
It is time for our elected officials in the Administration and on the Council to put their money where their mouth is, and clear up this shameful backlog once and for all.
cc: The Honorable Anthony A. Williams
Charles Holman, Acting Director, Office of Human Rights
Carlene Cheatam, Office of the Public Advocate