- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2000

Hillary doesn't know how to deal with common folks

Everyone seems to be missing the bigger picture here. The issue is not that the first lady stiffed Trisha "Trish" Trupo at the Village House Restaurant in Albion, N.Y. ("Waitress Hillary stiffed gets apology but no cash," Feb. 16). Does anyone seriously believe that Evita actually loads up her purse every morning with change? The woman has not carried money in decades. She doesn't have to. She has servants order everything to be delivered to her at the White House before she'll need it. Either it's in stock or there's another executive branch employment opening.

On those rare occasions when she finds herself by accident among the unwashed, she is given most everything free of charge, and what doesn't come gratis is paid for from the pockets of her staff. She hasn't dug into her own pocket since the oil embargo.

Therefore, she had no money to give the waitress a tip. Even more important, she didn't have an inkling that there was such an issue: "Tip, what's a tip? Servants are supposed to serve me my food. Doesn't everyone get served this way?"

It's not only beneath her dignity, it's beneath her radar screen. (You can bet that someone on her campaign staff was reprimanded for the Albion, N.Y. gaffe. It's certainly not her job to think of such things.)

After all, a woman who is startled by Skim Plus milk in the grocery probably doesn't even know that Andrew Jackson's face has become much larger on the $20 bill. Actual cash is for little people. She moves in loftier circles.

Lady Macbeth is completely out of touch with the people for whom she purports to speak. She has no more understanding of the economics of America after her delaying tactic of a "listening tour" than she did before. In her mind, businesses are in operation to pay taxes and contribute to the Democratic National Committee. Waitresses are to serve food. The minutia of how they actually accomplish this is not her concern. She's too busy trying to help us little people to be bothered with such trivial matters.

DAVID BAKER

New York

Point of article should have been about Gore's lie

I don't pay much attention to what Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley are saying in their presidential campaigns because they are so liberal, but I do object when the press lies about their campaigns. I refer to the Feb. 15 Associated Press report "Pro-choice group backs Gore despite past pro-life votes," saying that the National Reproductive Rights Action League (Naral) will endorse Mr. Gore despite criticism by Mr. Bradley "for his mixed record on abortion." Mr. Gore voted pro-life when he was a congressman.

Mr. Bradley did not criticize Mr. Gore for switching positions on abortion to gain national office. He criticized Mr. Gore for his repeated lies that he always voted pro-abortion in Congress. Mr. Bradley said he respected a person with a pro-life position and that was not the issue, it was Mr. Gore's outright lies in the face of his overwhelming pro-life votes early in his career.

If a person who does not spend a great deal of time listening to Mr. Gore and Mr. Bradley can get it right, why can't the Associated Press and E.J. Dionne Jr., who made the same false assertion in his Washington Post column of Feb. 1 ("Abortion: No room for ambivalence")? Mr. Gore is a budding, not yet fully competent Clintonian liar. However, it appears the liberal media is going to lie for him to get him nominated. NARAL runs a risk with its endorsement of Mr. Gore. Is he lying now about being pro-choice?

FRANCOIS L. QUINSON

Gaithersburg

OK for government to help rural America and minorities get Internet

I wanted to clarify a few points in response to Adam Thierer's Feb. 14 commentary, " 'New deal' for the Internet?"

First, I disagree with the premise that the government should not fund Internet connectivity in rural areas. What if we had used this same logic back in the 1930s, when rural America was being left behind by the introduction of electric connectivity and a paltry 11 percent of farms had electrical service? President Franklin D. Roosevelt ameliorated this situation in 1935 through the creation of the Rural Electrification Administration, which resulted in electrical service for 100 percent of rural America by the late 1970s. Internet connectivity is today what electrical service was in the 1930s. The federal government, as it did then, can help rural America get up to speed with advanced telecommunications.

Second, Mr. Thierer argues that the market will bring computers and free Internet access to these rural areas in due time. However, the best computer in the world with the fastest modem will still have hours of download time in many parts of rural areas because of dependence on ancient analog phone lines. Many areas in rural America are just too remote for businesses to make a profit laying advanced telecom lines. This is where the government can help fill some of the gaps along the digital divide.

Third, minorities throughout rural America are being left behind in the race for Internet access. According to a recent study by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, black households in rural areas are 40 percent less likely to access the Internet than an average U.S. black household. The same report also states that between 1997 and 1998, the the gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites for Internet access widened by 37.6 percent.

We are living in the largest peacetime economic expansion in our nation's history, fueled in part by the growing explosion of Internet commerce. The time is now for the government to provide rural America with help in obtaining advanced telecommunications so that rural residents are not left behind.

ERIC J. CILIBERTI

Alexandria

Clarifications needed in editorial on D.C. General

Your Feb. 6 editorial "Reform D.C. General" ignored the facts in reaching its conclusions on how to reform D.C. General Hospital. The most meager effort or a simple phone call would have revealed that D.C. General does not, nor has it ever, run programs for the mentally retarded. The Mental Retardation and Disability Administration not the D.C. Health and Hospitals Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), which operates D.C. General Hospital operates the program described as so poorly run by Deputy Mayor Carolyn Graham.

Another fact is that the books for D.C. General Hospital and its operator, the PBC, have been balanced every year since 1995. This is a matter of public record, as certified by the accounting firms of KPMG Peat Marwick and Mitchell and Mitchell & Titus, LLP. In fact, while assuring balanced budgets, the PBC's board of directors also pushed for new sources of revenue that decreased our reliance on city funding. That strategy is working: Between 1995 and 1999, payments by the District decreased from $56.7 million $30.4 million. These are hardly the numbers of a "heavily subsidized" hospital in "serious trouble."

It also is untrue that the city could purchase the same services provided by the PBC at half the cost. The report used to make such assertions, though in circulation since July, is not valid in that it has never received the authorization of the Control Board. The correct numbers show the city pays $62.1 million to the PBC for $85 million worth of services.

The editorial also misrepresents hospital patient volume and expenses. Hospital admissions and outpatient encounters such as primary care services offered in the hospital building have increased across the board since 1995. Increases in labor costs should not be an issue because the District's contribution decreased. However, such increases were attributable solely to the acquisition of the city-run health clinics, school health nurses and more grant dollars.

The "antiquated administrative technology" inherited from the city, which could not appropriately manage patient accounts and billing, has been replaced. This followed a two-year struggle before we received our first capital budget. Now, at least, we have some of the tools needed to manage efficiently, and I am pleased to report that is precisely what we intend to do.

We also will continue to push the city government to fully implement its own law the PBC Act and negotiate a contract with PBC for uncompensated care. We on the non-paid Board of Directors are overseeing credible efforts and progress at making this system one of the best-managed systems, in which patients receive timely, quality care.

BETTE L. CATOE

Chair

Public Benefit Corp.

Washington

JOHN FAIRMAN

CEO

Public Benefit Corp.

Washington

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