Council Chair Linda Cropp: responses to GLAA questionnaire

Responses of Council Chair Linda Cropp to
GLAA 1998 Questionnaire for Council Candidates

1. If elected, what would you do to encourage the Council to exercise its powers more responsibly and thereby facilitate a speedy return to home rule powers to the District?

I am seeking reelection to the office of Chairman to continue my effective and productive leadership to restore the financial recovery of the District, improve government services, improve the quality of life, and restore the self-determination rights of District residents. During the past twelve months, I lead the Council through a consensus budget process with the Mayor and Financial Authority, which is projected to give the District its third consecutive year with a balance budget. In addition, I have ensured that the Council has had an active role in the ongoing management reform initiatives. The continued success of these efforts and continued balanced budgets will facilitate the return of home rule powers.

2. The Council has seldom aggressively exercised its oversight powers over the District government. Instead, too often it has been passive and reactive in addressing the mismanagement problems that routinely plague the District government's administration. What will you do to improve the Council's performance of its oversight responsibilities?

During my tenure as Chair of the Committee on Human Services, I have used the Council's legislative oversight authority, and working with public citizens and advocacy groups (including the lesbian and gay community) to review the management and operation of programs under the Committee jurisdiction and institute reform measures. Since becoming the Council Chairman, the Council has instituted performance measure reviews for all District agencies by the Council's legislative Committees. In addition, the Council has established a special investigative committee to review police misconduct. I will not hesitate to authorize additional special committees when warranted.

3. Do you support passage and full funding for the new civilian complaint review system to be established by Bill 12-521, the "Office of Citizen Complaint Review Establishment Act of 1998"?

Yes, I support Bill 12-521, which establishes an independent Office of Citizen Complaint Review to review citizen complaints of alleged police misconduct. I voted in favor of Bill 12-521 at the July 7, 1998 legislative session. In order for the Metropolitan Police Department to effectively serve the community, it must have the full confidence of District residents. Bill 12-521 provides for the needed independent review of alleged police misconduct. I am committed to the full funding of this office, whether this is initially with additional federal funds, or by the reallocation of public safety funds to ensure this office has the necessary resources to efficiently operate.

4. Do you support Bill 12-612, the "Opened Alcoholic Beverage Containers Amendment Act of 1998" (a.k.a. the "Chardonnay Lady Bill"), that would have allowed people to drink alcoholic beverages on their own porches without fear of arrest?

Yes, I support Bill 12-612, which would allow persons to have alcoholic beverages in areas of private residential property that are integral, structural part of the property, such as a front porch. I voted in favor of the legislation at the Council's July 7, 1998 legislative meeting. Until the infamous "Chardonnay Lady" incident, most District residents were probably unaware of this prohibition. There are currently sufficient laws and regulations to deal with any unreasonable noise and disruptive behavior associated with excessive alcohol consumption. I want to thank GLAA and particularly Franklin Kameny for assisting the Council in addressing this issue.

5. In an apparent effort to bolster his standing with some segments of the District community, the recently-ousted chief of the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, David Watts, instituted a zoning regulation earlier this year barring video stores from deriving more than 15% of their revenue from sexually-oriented videos. Do you agree that this attack on the rights of adult consumers is utterly unwarranted and that there should be no limits on the proportion of video store revenues derived from adult videos?

I did have a concern regarding the implementation of these new standards and the adverse impact these standards may have on many existing businesses that have not been the subject of complaints from residents. It appeared that these new standards were issued without input from all of the affected communities and businesses. I wrote Mr. Watts and requested a delay in implementation until all affected communities and businesses could comment. See Attachment. However, all businesses must comply with established zoning regulations, including sexually- oriented businesses. The issue this proposed regulation attempted to address was what constitutes a sexually-oriented business. And, this is an issue that must be determined with the input of all affected communities and businesses.

6. Will you support legislation to authorize and regulate the issuance of liquor licenses to establishments (in designated nonresidential commercial districts) that want to offer nude dancing as entertainment?

I will remain open to explore the possibility. However, all business establishments, regardless of type, need to be located in appropriate areas that balance the interests of residents and businesses.

7. Do you support Initiative 59 (or similar legislation) to legalize the use of medical marijuana when a patient's doctor recommends it as a means to combat some of the effects of AIDS, cancer, and other diseases?

Yes, I support the legalization of the medical use of marijuana where the patient's physician has determined that its use is medically beneficial for the patient. Marijuana has been shown to be effective in combating deadly weight loss for persons with AIDS, and useful in fighting glaucoma and the side effects of cancer. The medical use of marijuana must be regulated, as in the use of other prescription drugs, to prevent the illegal usage and abuse of marijuana. I have supported referendum efforts on this issue by signing the referendum petition.

8. The New York State Legislature recently passed legislation saying that: (1) doctors must report the names of people who test positive for HIV to public health Officials; and that (2) health workers must attempt to have infected patients identify their sex or drug-use partners and then must notify those partners of possible exposure. Such measures are invariably counter-productive and discourages those most at risk from being tested and treated for HIV. Will you oppose any such legislation in the District?

Yes, I do not support the reporting of the names of persons who have tested positive for HIV. Such reporting will result in persons not being tested for fear of exposing themselves to possible discrimination. Testing for HIV should be encouraged. This is done by establishing free and anonymous testing sites convenient for all residents. With improved medical treatment of HIV, early detection is important. The anonymous tracking of incidences of HIV could assist public health officials in their prevention and outreach efforts.

9. Do you support an increase in District government funding to combat AIDS in line with the continuing increase in the caseload?

I am well aware that the AIDS epidemic is not over. During my tenure as Chair of the Committee on Human Services, I ensured that HIV/AIDS services were a priority of the District government. During the District government's financial crisis, while all other programs (except entitlement and court ordered programs) were required to take budget reductions, HIV/AIDS service funding was not reduced. Now that the District government is returning to financial recovery, I would support additional funding for HIV/AIDS services to meet increasing demands.

10. Do you support continued District funding for the needle exchange program to combat the spread of AIDS?

Yes, I support District funding of the needle exchange program. Intravenous drug use is the fasting growing means of the transmission of HIV. I support needle exchange programs because they have been shown in numerous studies to be effective in the prevention of HIV infection. After a long delayed start and a number of statutory changes to the program, which I shepherded through the Council, the District finally has a needle exchange program. We must fight Congressional efforts to prevent local funding of this program and ultimately seek the permissive use of federal HIV prevention funds in this effort.

11. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?

Although I am not at the point where I would support the civil marriage of same-sex couples, I remain open to explore the issue further. During my tenure on the Council, I have consistently supported domestic partnership and other legislation and public policies that extended the rights and benefits of same sex couples and their families. I recognize the benefit to society of stable loving partnerships and will continue to seek ways to extend equal rights and benefits for same sex couples.

12. Do you support the current District policy, sanctioned by a court ruling, of allowing adoptions by unmarried couples?

Yes, I do. There is a need for caring, loving parents for District children awaiting adoption. The standard for adoption and custody cases should be what is in the best interest of the child. Nothing intrinsically precludes unmarried couples, lesbians or gay men from being loving, caring adoptive parents.

13. Do you support an increased budget for the Office of Human Rights (OHR) so that its heavy case backlog can be eliminated, and the reestablishment of OHR as an independent, cabinet-level agency whose Director has direct access to the Mayor?

OHR's backlog needs to be addressed. I have supported reform measures, such as mandatory mediation, and the establishment of performance goals and measures to address the backlog of cases. Now that the District government is returning to financial recovery, I would support consideration of additional funding to address OHR's backlog. In fact, I supported the budget increase for OHR in the fiscal year 1999 budget, which will permit the hiring of three additional employees to help reduce the case backlog. I support establishing OHR as an independent agency separate from the local business functions of the larger department.

14. Will you support legislation codifying OHR's current practice of granting top priority to discrimination complaints from those afflicted with AIDS or other life-shortening conditions?

OHR is operating under a written policy, a 1986 OHR Director's order, which gives priority to complaints from persons with AIDS and other life-shortening conditions. I believe OHR has satisfactorily operated under this order and am not aware of any problems in processing such complaints. Although I generally do not believe it is in the best interest of the District to legislate where it is not necessary, I would consider such legislation.

15. Proposals for establishing a system of vouchers for private schools, whether here or elsewhere around the country, would funnel taxpayer dollars to religious schools controlled by dominations that frequently are aggressively homophobic. Will you oppose any legislation authorizing vouchers for religious schools?

Yes. I oppose the public funding of school vouchers for private schools. While, I respect the rights of parents to select private education for their children, including religious schools, I do not support the use of limited public school funds to support private education. I support the education reforms of our current Public School Superintendent and will continue to assist her in the implementation of these reform initiatives so that parents can chose a quality want a public education for their children.