November 29, 2005:NORTON BIDS DC "HEAL THYSELF" AND TELLS CONGRESS DENYING DEMOCRACY IS NOT FAIR...

Jan 9, 2006
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 29, 2005

NORTON BIDS D.C. "HEAL THYSELF" AND TELLS CONGRESS DENYING DEMOCRACY IS NOT A FAIR PRICE

Washington, DC--Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following statement in response to Washington Post reports of alleged spending violations by the District of Columbia government.       

“With any sign of the return of the bad days of non-competitive contracting, we are all concerned, and the District needs to take a hard look at why its procurement system remains in disrepair and surfaces to spoil the city’s reputation for improved government operations.  A Washington Post investigation reveals direct vouchers for non-competitive spending that invite abuse and have clearly gotten out of hand.  But this is very different from the systematic use of no-bid contracts for which the District was once infamous.           

“However, the District must never forget that the city sits under the daily glare of the Congress--where, incidentally, widespread scandals are emerging everyday--and the District is always held to a more perfect standard.  The practices revealed by the Post are abusive and could readily lead to scandals, but the sin the Post has revealed is operational, not criminal, for the most part.  The Home Rule government through its inspector general, chief financial officer, city auditor and Council oversight is more than capable of doing what any honest government must do in the face of such revelations.      

“The lesson to the District, of course, is ‘heal thyself.’  The city deserves the opportunity to do the fixing and the healing without congressional interference.  Only if the District fails to do the job would there be any justification for congressional action, particularly given the great strides the Mayor and the Council have made for almost 10 years now.  Above all, we must reject any suggestion that the price of operational failures, even serious ones, is less democracy, rather than more local oversight and rapid repair.  Given the Post’s revelations, the District surely understands that it must act without delay.  If it does, the Congress would do well to be fair and look at the big picture of important D.C. government reforms and improvements about which Members themselves have often spoken.  If the needed improvement is clear and immediate, the Congress should act accordingly and pass the D.C. Budget Autonomy Act of 2005 sponsored by Rep. Tom Davis and me.”