Former Mayor Sharon Pratt shines light on Gray's past
As much as he has tried, incumbent mayoral candidate Adrian Fenty has not been able to gain much traction when he brings up his opponent Vincent Gray’s performance in the Sharon Pratt administration.
The jeers from the audience frequently drown out Fenty’s allegations that Gray led his agency into further collapse. What is the "real" story?
Former D.C. mayor Pratt sent a letter to the Dish in which she lists Gray’s achievements, including closing Forest Haven and Cedar Knoll (under court order) and establishing a “totally community-based system for persons with developmental disabilities.”
Read Pratt’s letter:
To the Editor:
Now that Vince Gray is leading in the polls for the District's top job, I am getting lots of queries regarding what it was like to work with him? What was his record at DHS? What kind of mayor do I think he might make?
My Transition Team, chaired by Vernon Jordan, did a great job of identifying exceptional talent. I chose Vince to lead the Department of Human Services (DHS) because I knew he possessed the talent and commitment to both trim the agency and tackle its many long-standing challenges. No one could “out work or out think” Vince Gray.
Vince and his team can take credit for many improvements, including:
Closed Forest Haven in 1991. This initiative established the District as one of the only two states with a totally community-based system for persons with developmental disabilities.
Closed Cedar Knoll in 1993 (the court-ordered mandate to shut down the facility had been in place at least five years before Vince came on board).
Created the Commission of Health Care Finance (CHCF) in 1992, resulting in numerous improvements, including a Managed Health Care program for Medicaid recipients.
Improved foster care system under the Family Services Administration (FSA). FSA addressed the shortage of certified social workers and the District’s inability to track youth in foster care with an automated tracking system.
Addressed HIV/AIDS epidemic by distributing condoms in prisons and schools and dispensing disposable needles; established the first comprehensive medical center for District residents with HIV/AIDS in Ward 1.
Reduced the infant mortality rate by implementing the Healthy Start Infant Mortality Project in 1992 resulting in the city’s lowest rate in a decade.
Established the Mayor’s Task Force on Health Care Reform in November 1993, with the prescient mission of reviewing and analyzing the impact of national health care reform on residents.
Vince would be the first to say that he was supported by an outstanding team of committed individuals, including Drs. Mohammad Akhter and Georges Benjamin, both of whom later served as executive director of the American Public Health Association; and former DHS official Clarice Dibble Walker, Professor Emeritus, Howard University, who continues to contribute to the challenges of foster care serving as a member of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. Vince and his team did a remarkable job of addressing entrenched and difficult issues, many of which pre-dated Home Rule.
When I think of Vince, I am reminded of Hubert Humphrey’s observation that the moral test of government is determined by “how that government treats those in the dawn of life; those who are in the twilight of life; and those who are in the shadows of life.”