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Control is the issue, not D.C. General
(Published January 28, 2002)

There seems to be a good deal of unwarranted confusion over what precisely is at issue concerning the mayor’s request that the city council accept federal transfer of jurisdiction over the D.C. General campus and surrounding property for "municipal purposes."

The proposed transfer of land along the Anacostia River’s west bank from federal to local control is long overdue. The land has been used for "municipal purposes" – primarily as the site of D.C. General Hospital and the D.C. Jail – for more than 100 years.

The people of the District of Columbia, through their elected representatives, should rightly control land use along the shore of one of the city’s most precious, but long neglected, natural resources. The city’s Office of Planning has begun a series of meetings to solicit the public’s ideas, in anticipation of the jurisdiction transfer taking place.

The issue at hand is not, as some have characterized it, the continuing debate over whether the D.C. government should operate a public hospital. Nor is it a question of whether the District should be bidding to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Those are separate matters entirely.

The issue is local control vs. federal control.

The District should not squander an opportunity to expand local control by needlessly confusing the issue. Without local jurisdiction over the land, D.C. residents will have no real voice in deciding the land’s future use – and no way to hold government officials accountable if they disregard the public’s desires and concerns.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator