- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 23, 2003

Sticking up for D.C.'s ANCs

There's both more and less than meets the eye in Madam's Organ owner Bill Duggan's criticism of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) ("Club owner says neighborhood panels abuse power," Metropolitan, Monday).

On the one hand, if Mr. Duggan's allegations of a shakedown by two former ANC commissioners are true, then he performed a public service in exposing such inappropriate conduct exposure that probably helped defeat those two commissioners by overwhelming margins in November.

On the other hand, two individuals purported to have engaged in misconduct does not demonstrate, as Mr. Duggan would have readers believe, that abuse of power by ANCs is standard procedure. For the past two years, the Adams Morgan ANC has worked hard to balance and settle conflicting concerns among businesses, residents and community groups in Alcoholic Beverage Control licensing cases. We did that successfully in the case of Mr. Duggan's bar and restaurant, with some further help from an ABC board mediator whose involvement was necessitated by Mr. Duggan's refusal to negotiate with another party to the case. Judging by the results of November's ANC election, this moderate and balanced approach will continue in our ANC for at least the next two years.

Mr. Duggan is an interesting and often entertaining personality in Adams Morgan, but when you strip away all his florid rhetoric, what he really seems to want is the ability to do things forbidden by the law. If he's got a beef, it's with the D.C. Council and the ABC board's regulations.

Much as he might wish otherwise, however, those two bodies like our ANC are unlikely to run roughshod over legitimate residential concerns just to satisfy extreme or obstreperous business owners.


Advisory neighborhood commissioner

Single Member District 1C01

Adams Morgan


Albania, one of America's best new friends

As Albania's ambassador to America, I am gratified that my country signed the Vilnius Group statement in support of the U.S. stance toward Iraq ("Central, E. Europe to stand with U.S.," Page 1, Thursday). This document was initiated by the group of Central and Eastern European ambassadors in Washington that has met recurrently for two years to coordinate policy on NATO membership.

The stand my country has taken on Iraq is clear and unyielding. Saddam Hussein, armed with weapons of mass destruction, poses a danger to the world. It would be irresponsible to ignore such danger. The greater the number of countries that unite against Iraq, the more likely that Saddam Hussein will be successfully disarmed and that other rogue states will be dissuaded from seeking such weapons.

My government's policy is in the best interest of Albania and the world as a whole. I trust that future events will prove the wisdom of Albania's position.

Albania and the United States have stood united on many issues in recent years and will continue to do so for many years to come as fellow democracies and future partners in NATO.


Ambassador of Albania


When it's PC to abuse a 'minority'

While Republicans get ready to stage a putsch for Miguel Estrada's confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ("GOP to use recess to press for Estrada," Nation, Tuesday), I wish to note an eye-opening statement by one of the Democrats leading the filibuster against Mr. Estrada Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. In contrast to his current intransigence, Mr. Leahy spoke against filibustering during a 1998 confirmation proceeding: "If Senators are opposed to any judge, bring them up and vote against them. But don't do an anonymous hold, which diminishes the credibility and respect of the whole U.S. Senate. I have had judicial nominations by both Democrat and Republican presidents that I intended to oppose. But I fought like mad to make sure they at least got a chance to be on the floor for a vote. I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on any judge; that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported; that I felt the Senate should do its duty. If we don't like somebody the president nominates, vote him or her down. But don't hold them in this anonymous unconscionable limbo, because in doing that, the minority of Senators really shame all Senators." (This quote appears on Mr. Leahy's own Web site and may be viewed at https://leahy.senate.gov/press/199806/980618b.html.)

These statements are such a far cry from Mr. Leahy's current position that even the most jaded of us should be shocked. I am not a Vermont resident, so Mr. Leahy need not be worried about my vote but he should be worried about his own credibility.


Cantonment, Fla.

As a union, the NEA promotes its members

Although a purveyor of many ideas worthy of consideration, Paul Craig Roberts is wrong in his assertion that the National Education Association (NEA) has destroyed public education ("Education's nemesis," Commentary, Tuesday). The examples he provides lack development, are isolated and are somewhat misleading.

For instance, Sara Boyd was presented as a teacher who has difficulties with math. In fact, she is an instructional vice principal who was given awards for administrational work, not for teaching. The undeniably talented teacher, Jaime Escalante, an immigrant from Bolivia, apparently left teaching to pursue other opportunities he is too tough to be "run out" by a teacher's union. At any rate, as a reader, I could not validate those events as a significant argument for the destruction of education by the NEA.

Mr. Roberts is correct in his assumption that the NEA is responsible for troubles and difficulties in the educational process. Many of the concomitant difficulties with unions in general are inherent in this assumption, but the NEA is a union that protects and looks out for the welfare of its members. The same might be said of the American Medical Association (AMA), which does not exist to serve patients but the doctors who treat them. To say that the AMA has destroyed American medicine due to its advocacy of doctors is essentially employing the same bad logic. Those individuals or groups in a marketplace economy are entitled to push for their best economic interests.

My main dispute with Mr. Roberts is whether the destruction of education is taking place at all, although he makes the following final and dire statement: "They [the NEA] have destroyed it." Yet, during these trying times, the United States is the unchallenged world power. People from all over the globe do almost anything to get here. This suggests that we are succeeding due to our institutions, our government, our beliefs and the strength of our people.

If one believes this, then one may assume that public education, among our many institutions, is playing an important role in this success and is, indeed, far from destroyed.



Examining states' welfare caseloads

Rep. Wally Herger, California Republican, suggests that we at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) "need to recheck the facts" about preliminary welfare caseload data that we collected directly from the states and released at the end of December ("Welfare reform, marriage tied," Nation, Wednesday). In fact, the new figures Mr. Herger cites, released last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, confirm our findings, namely:

n That the national welfare caseload declined for the year ending September 2002, but less than in previous years.

• That caseloads rose in about half of the states during that year.

• That caseloads in most states grew between July and September 2002.

There are many questions about why caseloads are growing in some states and not others. It is unclear to what extent individual states' welfare policies, rates of unemployment, economic conditions and other factors are contributing to increases and decreases in caseloads.

Yet, while there may be continuing disagreement about the significance of the caseload trends, the basic trend data, as previously reported by CLASP, should not be in dispute.


Director of policy

Center for Law and Social Policy


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