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To the editor: In the article “ The Tortured History” (May 28, Page 1), Peter Nickles, general counsel to Mayor Adrian Fenty, launched several assaults on the character of the front-line employees of the D.C. Department of Disability Services without a glimmer of respect for those who do the work of caring for the developmentally disabled. Nickles characterized the overworked, understaffed employees of DDS as rejects and misfits without meeting or discussing the department’s problems with them or their representatives. Likewise, he asserted he had given notice to employee representatives of ensuing terminations without meeting with the American Federation of Government Employees, the only labor union for DDS employees. We challenge Nickles and the Fenty administration to invest in its primary care providers to fulfill the mission of DDS before launching immature insults or ominous threats. We challenge Nickles to take stock in employees who have labored under 14 different DDS administrations in seven years. We challenge Nickles to examine the managerial leadership of the department before attacking the front-line employees for following management directives. If the lamentable missteps and failed processes within DDS are to be corrected, there will have to be a serious investigation into DDS as a system. This means that those with the foremost knowledge on providing care and support for the system’s customers must feel comfortable in providing feedback on the system’s failures. A multilateral dialogue of this kind can only be possible if the Fenty administration acknowledges the value of front-line employees. John Gage National President American Federation of Government Employees Washington, D.C.

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