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D.C. General closed due to lack of democracy

June 22, 2001 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

If Washington, D.C., had home rule--the right to govern its own internal affairs--like every other city and state in the country has, D.C. General Hospital would still be open today.

For the last year, Mayor Williams has tried to privatize D.C. General Hospital in the face of massive public opposition.

Of 12 hospitals in the District, D.C. General was the only public one--the only hospital obligated to serve the city's poor and uninsured.

D.C. has more than 70,000 uninsured residents who depended on D.C. General.

But the mayor complained that the hospital was losing money.

What Mayor Williams and his allied private interests can't seem to understand is that uninsured patients aren't so much profitable markets as they are human lives.

When the City Council voted unanimously to keep D.C. General fully funded, the mayor vetoed their plan.

The city council then voted unanimously to override the veto.

Case closed. Democracy had spoken. Right?

Wrong--because D.C. is not a democracy.

We elect a city council. And we elect a mayor.

But Congress and their handpicked "Financial Control Board Authority" have the power to overrule any decision made by our democratically elected representatives.

Birth control access, clean needle exchanges and commuter taxes--all passed by our elected officials or by voter referendum--have simply been overruled by Congress or the Control Board.

Yesterday, despite the objections of hundreds of protesters, the Control Board voted to overrule the city council and privatize D.C. General.

In D.C., we are apparently too poor, too Black, too Latino, too not-Republican to matter.

Dan Denvir, Washington, D.C.

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