From Mayor Vincent Gray’s State of the District address:
Picture with me a Washington where the government is lean and efficient — the kind that supports businesses, places of worship, schools, and non-profits; envision a government that makes every tax dollar go as far as it possibly can. It’s a government in which public servants recognize the value of the trust bestowed upon them and carry out their responsibilities with humility, dedication and pride.
Above all, it is a compassionate government — one that takes as its most urgent task the welfare of the least fortunate among us; one that gives our homeless both shelter and a permanent path to a normal life; one that treats our residents with disabilities with dignity and one that provides for veterans who return from war after putting their lives on the line in service to this country.
The truth is that the growth in our city has been a miracle for some — and a mirage for others. For those left behind, the picture I have just painted of the city’s success is not a self-portrait, but something closer to a foreign landscape; you can gaze at it admiringly, but it doesn’t look anything like your neck of the woods.
The facts are troubling, but they bear acknowledging: there are parts of this city where over half of our high school students do not graduate. In some neighborhoods, one out of every three adults is unemployed. Of those who are working, one-fifth earn less than $11 per hour in wages. Twenty percent of our citizens live below the poverty line — a number that has actually gone up over the last few years, even though the city’s overall economic activity has increased.
Mayor Gray later elaborates that, east of the Anacostia River, the child poverty rate is double the national average and the HIV/AIDs infection rate is the largest in the country; he adds that only five sit-down restaurants exist in Wards 7 and 8, despite DC’s reputation as a food city. But these bleak statistics also indicate that, while the city is in dire need of educational, health, and business growth, we absolutely have the resources to make those improvements a reality if we focus our efforts — rather than assume that “a rising tide would lift all boats.” So what is the first step? How do we fight that assumption? Do you believe in a “lean” government that supports non-profits, local business, and schools is the way to go? Let us know!