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Here we go again: Another story that shows how much the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams views the needs and concerns of the most innocent of lead victims—children (Loose Lips, 3/5, 3/12; “Pitchers’ Duel,” 3/12). If the Potomac River hasn’t been cleaned up in over 20 years, that should give the citizens of the District of Columbia an idea of how long it will take for the District of Columbia to get a grip and, dammit, do something!
For years, the water didn’t smell right and looked cloudy, and now it is deemed unsafe for children to drink! We are told to not let our children drink the water—in the year 2004! But what about those children who have been drinking the lead-laced water for some time, before someone at the Water and Sewer Authority woke up and smelled the coffee. Surely, the problems associated with lead aren’t always visible to the human eye, and if lead poisoning is not diagnosed, it could have a devastating effort on the stability and purse strings of parents, guardians, and families with young children. This leads me to a question: Who is going to care for those children who may be afflicted with lead poisoning? And who will foot the costs of medical treatment, therapeutic visits, psychological evaluations, rehabilitative therapy visits, and family counseling? Where will the money come from to provide quality services when indicated? Government cookie-cutting budgets can’t help on this one.
The children of this city have paid a heavy price to live, breathe, and survive (or, in some cases, die) in the District of Columbia. Never in a million years would we have expected to hear so much via newspapers, television, and other media about the number of young children who have died because of the violence inflicted upon them. Children are supposed to be able to live through their elementary-, junior-, and senior-high-school years. We are supposed to be able to see them graduate and go off to college. But now we have the additional woes of wondering and worrying every day as our children go to and from school and other activities.
The children in our country have lives that no longer consist of having fun, playing games, and going to school, because they are confronted with tragic killings on the premises of some schools (“Incident No. 1113,” 3/5), on the streets, and in some of our neighborhoods. In the District of Columbia, very little has been said about improving the prospect of making summer jobs available for our youth, who are struggling to survive. Summer is around the corner, and many citizens are concerned about where the summer jobs are that could inspire our youth to be productive and, at the same time, stay out of harm’s way. Kids need something constructive to do during the summer months, besides being left to watch cable programming, associate with the wrong crowds, and hang out on the comer. An idle mind leads to boredom—which leads to at-risk children and danger.
Enough chitchat from our elected officials about what the District of Columbia is going to do or should have done! We’ve heard it before, during, and after every election. Now is the time to do more than talk.
Frankly speaking: We don’t need more real-estate investments, because children are what we should be investing in. We need the Williams administration and the Metropolitan Police Department to set aside their arrogance and work with the citizens of our city, coming together to work toward putting the District of Columbia back on the map. Not as a city with a bunch of so-called architecturally beautiful buildings, but as a city that can materially prove that it cares about our youth. There should be no room for further paper shuffling and coffee-cup slinging. It’s time for the government of the District of Columbia to wake up and smell the coffee.