- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

Editorial shouldn't blame police chief

It seems wrong to blame Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey for the District's murder problem, as last Monday's editorial "A bloody shame" suggests. When I moved to this area in 1965, the District was a lively city of more than 800,000. Then came home rule in 1968. After that, those in the new power structure implemented several deleterious changes:
They increased taxes, targeting the "rich," many of whom moved, taking with them the employment opportunities sought by poor and middle-income wage earners.
They dismantled the track system in what arguably was one of the finest school systems in the country and in so doing removed from schools the principles of self-discipline and personal responsibility, which form the very foundation of education. In turn, most families that could do so took their children out of the public school system.
They created a social-service bureaucracy, resulting in a welfare-based economy with an excess of fatherless families whose children often came to school with empty stomachs and no ambition. Such was the upbringing of many a future career criminal.
They paved the way for a "revolving door" justice system, spawned by ineffective social counseling and halfway houses, which returned repeat offenders to the streets to resume their "careers." Nearly every murderer or armed robber caught by police is a repeat offender.
They banned private ownership of firearms, leaving those remaining in the District at the mercy of criminals. This resulted in even more citizens moving to the suburbs, where they don't have to remain defenseless.
During this period of home-rule mania, with the population and tax revenues in decline, mayors expanded the District's bureaucracy. (The bureaucrats were paid with funds that should have been used for the operation, upkeep and expansion of the city's infrastructure.) The low point was reached when the D.C. Council passed a resolution requiring city employees to reside in the city without asking why employees would want to leave in the first place.
The events described above ensure a continuous supply of new criminals from a deteriorating city of 500,000. Thus, the causes of crime in the District are too various to lay at the feet of Chief Ramsey. To fight crime, elected officials, not Chief Ramsey, must correct problems in the education, welfare, justice and tax systems. The gun ban should be reconsidered with a keen eye on Virginia, a state with an abundance of firearms and a dearth of violent crime.
It will take years to undo the District's mess. Meanwhile, the best Chief Ramsey can do is to round up the repeat offenders and find a legal way to keep them off the streets.


EEOC defends its decision

This letter is in response to Wednesday's editorial about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's lawsuit against the Arizona restaurant RD's Drive-in ("Jackbooted liberalism, EEOC-style"). We wish The Times had attempted to get all of the facts and speak to someone at the EEOC beforehand. What the editorial calls "facts" are incorrect and incomplete.
The claims that the commission is attempting to bankrupt a small business are baseless. The commission is obligated to attempt informal settlement of any case before initiating litigation. In this case, as with all litigation filings, the commission exhausted its efforts to reach a voluntary negotiated agreement with the employer before filing the lawsuit. The commission's lawsuit is at an early stage, and we have not yet estimated what damages, if any, we will seek. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the statute at issue, puts limits on the amount of money for which small companies can be held liable.
The EEOC has a strong national program to educate small businesses about their rights and responsibilities. This past year alone, the commission held more than 4,000 events to educate and train managers of small businesses. We have small-business liaisons in each of our district offices nationwide who work cooperatively with employers to assist with compliance issues. If a charge is filed, the EEOC encourages voluntary mediation, as appropriate. More than 90 percent of participating employers and charging parties say they would try it again if subject to a charge.
The EEOC conducted an in-depth investigation of this matter before the case was filed in court. The investigation included interviews with Richard and Shauna Kidman, who are the owners of RD's. Our investigation found that RD's had terminated four Indian women, some of whom speak Navajo as a primary language, because they would not sign an acknowledgment of an "English-only" policy.
This policy explicitly stated, "If you feel unable to comply with this requirement, you may find another job." All Navajo employees not all employees were asked to sign the acknowledgment. By its terms, the policy required employees to speak English "at all times" with only one exception when a customer cannot understand English.
The editorial says the Kidmans implemented the restrictive language policy to stop sexual harassment at the establishment and that failure to do so would have resulted in a sexual-harassment lawsuit against them. However, not once during the EEOC's 13-month investigation did the Kidmans assert that an employee was being subjected to sexual comments in Navajo. The Kidmans have produced no evidence that they disciplined or dealt with the alleged harassers. Rather than implementing an illegal English-only policy, the Kidmans should have focused their attention on preventing the workplace harassment. In addition, the Kidmans could have contacted their local EEOC office for assistance in dealing with a potentially illegal work situation.
An English-only rule must be adopted for nondiscriminatory reasons and is justified if it is needed for an employer to operate safely or efficiently. Even if an English-only policy is crafted narrowly to meet these standards, an employer cannot use the policy to discriminate against a particular ethnic group. RD's policy was unlawful because it did not meet these standards and because it targeted the Navajo language and was enforced primarily against Navajo employees.

Acting director
Office of communications and legislative affairs
EEOC headquarters

Columnist refutes EU criticisms

I am amused at the responses from Greg Principato and Thomas Mohr ("Defending the EU," Letters, Friday) to my column "Europe's nations fading left" (Commentary, Thursday). Mr. Principato denies that a recent ruling by the European Union court infringes upon European countries' "sovereign rights to negotiate bilateral air service agreements." Instead, Mr. Principato says the court ruled that "bilaterals that base their service rights on nationality must be changed, as they discriminate against carriers from other members of the European Union." Rather, "the member states can renegotiate the agreements" to suit the court or the European Commission will do it for them.
I submit there is no difference, except that my statement is straightforward and Mr. Principato's is roundabout. The result is the same: Individual countries can only negotiate air-service agreements that suit the European Union. Thus, the countries have lost control of their air space, a definite sign of loss of sovereignty.
Mr. Mohr, an Austrian, is unaware that Anglo-American legal protections are unique. He is also unaware, as is Mr. Principato, of the paradox that European Union law exists prior to the existence of the European Union state.

Syndicated columnist
Panama City Beach, Fla.

Performance-based salaries

I was pleased that President Bush decided to fire Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey ("Bush sacks top two economic chiefs," Page 1, Saturday). I suggest that the president base the salaries of their replacements on performance. If the economy turns around, give them a bonus. If the economy continues to suffer, they should get a salary cut.
About four years ago, I decided to base my salary as an elected official on performance. I post goals at the beginning of the year on my town's Web site, www.greenburghny.com. My performance is evaluated at the end of the year by the town board. If need be, I happily give back some of my salary to the taxpayers each year.
The salaries of many employees in the private sector are based on performance. Basing the salaries of those in the public sector on performance can be a great motivator.

Town supervisor
Greenburgh, N.Y.

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