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During D.C.’s financial crisis of the past four years, many services earmarked for youth, as well as treatment beds for substance abusers, the homeless, and others, have been slashed—violating social contracts deeply held by the residents of Washington, D.C. The would-be recipients of these services have been crammed into ever-reducing facilities or been left to scavenge the streets in search of alternative services.

The Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) has decided that another good way to save money is by reducing neighborhood health services. Closing the Adams Morgan Clinic under the guise of consolidation is almost criminal in an environment where D.C. officials are praising themselves in advance of a D.C. government budget surplus.

Again our neighborhoods are being victimized by decision makers asleep at the wheel or unwilling to stand strong in the face of an attack on service availability to our neighborhoods.

Now for the Ward l view: Councilmember Frank Smith has been caught, yet again, asleep at the wheel, and another attack on our neighborhoods has gone unthwarted. Jim

Graham, one of the members of the PBC who voted to close the clinic, a candidate for Smith’s council seat, and a newcomer to Ward l’s neighborhood-based politics, is clearly not committed to carrying the torch of the community that, through forums and proclamations from community coalitions, has unanimously demanded that the Adams Morgan Clinic not be closed.

I’m sure there was a smiling attempt to sell the closure of the Adams Morgan Clinic to other clinics that provide services to the Latino community, such as, “If we close this one it will mean more resources and cash for yours.” In reality it is a cutback in funding, a reduction in services, and a tidal wave of new clients being forced into already overworked clinics.

As reported by Loose Lips (4/3), Graham refers to Smith’s objections to the closure of the clinic as a desperate attempt to gain an “issue” in the Latino community. Smith’s only crime is that he woke up too late. Graham’s crime is that he intentionally disturbed 30 years of service by a free clinic and participated in a reduction of services to the immigrant communities in the Adams Morgan area. Mr. Graham himself may have just gained an “issue” in the Latino community he did not want. Taking away something in a community that has been given so little by local government is reprehensible. This “issue” goes beyond one clinic being victimized by an insensitive process to how committed we are as a community to providing accessible health care to immigrant populations, the uninsured, and struggling families.

The strength of a mixed-income neighborhood like Adams Morgan is based on local access to jobs, good schools, and affordable services. This is yet one more step in destabilizing that recipe.

The Latino community is too politically sophisticated to fall for this snake-oil treatment. We should all be focused on moving forward, not losing ground, as it relates to our social contracts and our commitment to economic diversity in Ward 1.

Adams Morgan ANC Chairman