Alarmed by a record rate of drug-related murders in Washington, D.C., and scandals surrounding two of the city's top officials, some members of Congress are talking about taking control of the city government.
If things are bad now, wait until Congress tries to run the city on a day-to-day basis.It's true that Washington has troubles. Drug problems are seemingly out of control and the murder rate is growing rapidly. By mid-March, 112 people had been killed, twice as many as a year ago.
In addition, the mayor, Marion Barry Jr., is under investigation for his ties to a drug suspect, and Walter Fauntroy, the city's non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, is under investigation in a payroll padding scheme.
Yet having Congress leap into city government hardly inspires confidence. Washington was granted home rule 15 years ago and while the city certainly has grievous problems, there is no assurance that Congress could do a better job of coping with the crime wave.
Congress already plays a major role in Washington government. It must review and approve the city's $2.8 billion budget and all city legislation. Congress also likes to meddle in other ways. Last year, it forced the city to abolish or change laws dealing with AIDS insurance, the right of gays to gather at George Washington University and the residency requirement for federal workers.
Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., blames the city's problems on "inept local government that doesn't understand what it's doing." But plenty of people have been saying the same thing about Congress for years.
A Congress that can't stop the flow of drugs into the United States is in no position to point fingers at Washington officials for not controlling drugs in the District of Columbia.
Congress should let Washington citizens work out their own problems. A federal takeover wouldn't necessarily make things any better and might make them worse.