Rosendall to DC Council: stop the grandstanding on DC General
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Rosendall to DC Council: stop the grandstanding on DC General

[Note: The following testimony was prepared by Rick Rosendall as an individual, not in his capacity as GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs. GLAA has not taken a position on the DC General controversy. As it happened, council members spent hours giving speeches and grilling District health officials before there was any chance for public testimony, which was stacked by the Council with opponents of the Mayor's plan. Rosendall did speak out of turn to denounce Councilmembers Allen and Catania for their abusiveness toward government witnesses and their repeated cutting off of those witnesses as they attempted to respond to hostile statements and assertions by councilmembers.]

DC Council Committee on Human Services

Public Roundtable on Contract between the Financial Control
Authority and Greater Southeast Community Hospital to provide
services formerly provided by the Public Benefit Corporation

Friday, April 27, 2001

Councilmember Allen:

I am Rick Rosendall. I live in Ward 2.

Yesterday, on my way to lunch outside this building, I encountered someone yelling into a megaphone accusing the Mayor of genocide. Another man was handing out leaflets. I objected to the misuse of such a strong word as genocide, and pointed out that the Mayor is clearly guilty of no such thing. The leafleter called me a murderer, and I replied that, coming from him, I took it as a compliment. On my way back from lunch, he called me "satanic."

The recklessness of these people improves no one's health care, cheapens our political discourse, and hearkens back to the kind of tactics that helped run our city into the ground in the first place. This Mayor deserves support for his efforts to reform our government, not condemnation and grandstanding. In the present case, he is trying to stop a years-long hemorrhage of money and to improve the health care in our city. A status quo in which people use the emergency room as their source of primary care, and a hospital which is incapable of providing adequate records when they are requested by the Financial Control Board, seems to me hard to defend.

The vicious rhetoric is not surprising if you look at some of the leading voices: Rev. Willie Wilson, who talked of cutting a Korean shop owner's head off and rolling it down the street; Malik Shabazz, who spoke about Carl Cooper of the Starbucks case as if he were a political prisoner instead of an accused murderer; and followers of extremist Lyndon LaRouche, whose own newspaper once referred to Queen Elizabeth as a "drug-running whore." It is no credit to the Council that it finds itself standing beside such disreputable and unscrupulous people.

It is time for responsible District residents and officials to repudiate the offensive and absurd rhetoric about genocide, which is an insult to all who have experienced or combatted the real thing. It is time to stop posturing and start cooperating for the common good. It is time to abandon the discredited politics of entitlement without responsibility, and to acknowledge that the time has run out for the Public Benefit Corporation's mismanagement of our city's health care.

Some of those who are most loudly defending DC General would never dream of setting foot in it themselves. They claim to be defending the interests of those less fortunate. But I recall the late Tyra Hunter, the transgendered woman who slowly died six years ago in DC General's emergency room due to incompetent medical care. That, along with discrimination by a DC firefighter, cost our city a $1.75 million court settlement.

This Mayor may not be as clever a politician as his predecessor, but he makes up for it with integrity and a determination to give taxpayers the basic city services we deserve. That is why he was elected and why he continues to enjoy popular support. Those who have been disrupting his public appearances and hurling absurdly inflated rhetoric are the worst element of our city. I am here to repudiate them and to say thank you, Mayor Williams, keep up the good work.

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