- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2000

U.N. treaty on prostitution must not fail

Your Jan. 21 editorial "Defining prostitution" relies on a misinformation campaign that is distorting the administration's position on a very important proposed U.N. treaty to stop trafficking in women and girls.

Contrary to what you state, the United States is supporting a global anti-crime treaty to attack traffickers. Nothing in the draft treaty would require the United States or any country to weaken its laws on prostitution, and we never would support any treaty that had such an effect. In fact, at the latest round of negotiations in Vienna, the U.S. delegation reiterated our strong opposition to prostitution in all its forms.

Also, contrary to your assertion, no vote was ever scheduled for Jan. 17 in Vienna. Indeed, the treaty language will not be finalized until later this year. Our intent always has been to gather support for an anti-trafficking protocol that would impose new punishments on the perpetrators and provide unprecedented assistance to victims whether they are sold into prostitution, sweatshop labor, domestic servitude or other exploitative situations.

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton surely needs no lecture about the horrors women in these circumstances endure. She has met with countless women from the G-77 countries and spoken out about their plight. She met with women in Eastern and Central Europe who, with tears in their eyes, asked her for help in finding their daughters and sisters and punishing those who had sold them into modern slavery. In Thailand, she held teen-age girls in her arms who were dying of AIDS that they had contracted after they had been sold into prostitution.

No one has worked harder than the first lady to put this issue on the agenda of all governments including our own. No administration has done more to combat trafficking. We are taking action to prevent trafficking, to protect its victims and punish its perpetrators. We are working with Congress to enact the strongest possible legislation. We have established a task force that is prosecuting traffickers in the United States, and we are engaged in anti-trafficking campaigns with many other countries.

If we fail to enact this treaty because of politics and demagoguery, the losers will be the countless girls and women who are victims. We must not let them down.

MELANNE VERVEER

Chief of staff to the first lady

The White House

Washington

Neighborhood service centers not a new idea

Neighborhood service centers not a new idea

I read with interest your Feb. 3 editorial, "D.C. government, here to help," which discussed the decentralizing of city government services by the creation of neighborhood service centers. The Times describes this as a "new policy" brought to our city by Mayor Anthony A. Williams. This is wrong. It was the D.C. Council that first pushed this plan for the entire city, and it was the council that secured the funding to make the plan a reality.

Last year, the council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment, which I chair, was disappointed that the mayor's baseline budget for the Department of Public Works (DPW) simply maintained the status quo from the previous year, which we all knew was inadequate. Funds for seasonal leaf collection, rat abatement, tree planting and maintenance and trash container replacement were either meager or nonexistent in the mayor's proposal.

The council added more than $13 million to DPW's budget to ensure that our citizens got these and other service improvements, including the eight ward service managers who will be accountable for DPW's delivery of services in our neighborhoods. Had the council not acted on its plan and funded it (and, by the way, this same idea was suggested and tested several years ago in Ward 5 by former Mayor Marion Barry), then Mr. Williams would not have a neighborhood services plan to tout to our residents.

The Times is right to praise this policy. By taking our government to the people, we should improve accountability and get better responses from city agencies such as the DPW. I am pleased that the mayor has embraced this idea, but it is inaccurate to say the idea was his own. It was the D.C. Council that made sure our neighborhoods will get the better results that this program promises to produce. It would have been nice for Mr. Williams to have given credit where it is due.

CAROL SCHWARTZ

Council member at large

Council of the District of Columbia

Washington

DNC chairman heard what he wanted during State of the Union speech

Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew's assessment of President Clinton's State of the Union address was quite humorous ("State of what each side heard," Commentary, Feb. 5). Nevertheless, some of his remarks do require a serious response, lest they become part of Clinton folklore.

Mr. Andrew asserts that, "President Clinton and congressional Democrats have sustained the longest peacetime economic expansion in history." However, there is one fact Mr. Andrew omits Republicans have controlled Congress during most of Clinton's presidency.

Budget deficits and the raiding of Social Security occurred during both Republican and Democrat administrations from 1954 to 1994. The one constant during that same period was who controlled spending a Democrat-led House of Representatives. It is not coincidental that fiscal irresponsibility ceased once Democrats were relegated to minority status in 1995.

Mr. Andrew claims that, "Democrats will continue this fiscal responsibility by protecting Social Security and Medicare." But he fails to mention that Democrats opposed the Republican bill to put the Social Security Trust Fund in a lock box.

On education, Mr. Andrew seems to think that Democrats have a monopoly as if one's willingness to spend is the measure of sincerity. The fact is that both Republicans and Democrats care about education. Differences arise over who makes the spending decisions. Democrats wish to continue the tried-and-failed approach of having the federal government tell local communities how to spend education dollars. Republicans object to the centralized, one-solution-fits-all approach and wish to let local communities decide how best to spend those dollars.

Mr. Andrew failed to mention welfare reform. But I suspect that's probably because President Clinton vetoed it twice and almost no congressional Democrat supported it. To acknowledge the success of welfare reform would be to give credit to Republicans, something Mr. Andrew is obviously averse to.

MICHAEL KOLLER

Germantown

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p]Here they go again, the Democrats making claims about accomplishments that even a fourth-grader could understand are absurd. I would like to focus on two of the ludicrous claims made by Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew in "State of what each side heard."

First, is the idea that Democrats created 20 million jobs. They did no such thing. It was industry that created these jobs. And it was Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who kept the government from getting in the way. In general, the government seldom can influence the creation of jobs (except through decreases in taxes), but it can cause them to go away through actions that make business uncomfortable and, thus, scale back on production and hiring. This administration has done more to thwart expansion through regulations on industry and proposing deficit spending as far as the eye could see (which the Republican Congress stopped in its tracks).

Second, the claim that the Democrats prevented a half-million people from getting handguns is ridiculous and inventive on Mr. Andrew's part. There is no way this invented statistic could be developed except out of thin air. Criminals usually get guns through the black market and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. If we can't stop drugs, what makes the Democrats think we can stop criminals from getting handguns.

Off-the-wall claims such as these can only hurt the Democrats' image.

CHARLES E. HEIMACH

Arlington

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