At a time when most state governments are clamoring for more local control, the District of Columbia wants just the opposite--less. In an extraordinary press conference last week, Mayor Marion Barry asked the Federal Government to take over many of the city's most important services. Acknowledging for the first time publicly that the city is on the verge of bankruptcy, Barry said the District could no longer run itself and asked for $267 million in federal aid to pay off a staggering Medicaid bill.

Barry ordered deep cuts in social programs affecting everyone from pregnant women to the homeless. He...

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