Crisis In Washington: DC halts decline to win back self-rule

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The Independent Online
THERE WAS much rejoicing in Washington yesterday at the announcement that after three years of outside management, the capital of the United States, otherwise known as the District of Columbia, would be permitted to govern itself again. From 2 January, when the new mayor, Anthony Williams, takes office, the elected council will take back responsibility for running the city.

In a symbolic gesture, the announcement of a return to what is known locally as "home rule" came not from the federally appointed Control Board, which is currently responsible for running the city, but from the office of the mayor-elect, which is preparing the transition.

The city council was stripped of most of its financial authority in 1995 when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. In August 1997, it lost most of its administrative authority as well, after management and city services had continued to decline.

From next month, most city agencies, including those responsible for public works, social services, rubbish collection and health clinics for the poor, will report to the mayor. Mr Williams said he believed the changes would result in a cleaner, safer city within six months. The Control Board will remain in place but will shift its attention from actual management to oversight of finances.