DC mayor focuses on public safety, closing of DC General in State of the District address

Scores of D.C. residents came to Arena Stage Tuesday night to hear Mayor Muriel Bowser's State of the District address.

"We had some challenges this past year," she said. "Too many homicides and too many robberies, so we're approaching the challenge in a number ways."

Bowser spoke about public safety.

"We recruited a fire chief from Seattle who is very experienced in the things we need to work on," the mayor said. "We implemented the 500,000 security camera program to keep residents, churches and other buildings safe in our city. We're working towards a 4,000-person police force that looks like the community they serve."

The crowd gave the mayor a standing ovation when she talked about her plans to close the D.C. General family shelter.

"Closing D.C. General is the right thing to do," Bowser said to applause. "And this is what I know. You believe it too."

Also outlined in her speech was the state of the city's schools and city infrastructure.

What the mayor did not address was the media nor did she discuss her newest appointment - James Edward Kyle as the director of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the city's public psychiatric facility. There are concerns about Kyle being unqualified for the job and a number of resume red flags.

"This person has issues as far as the hospital that he just came from - it's closed down - that is something I heard," said Rhonda Johnson, a certified peer specialist in the District. "That is not what we need right now. Washington D.C. is in a process of rebuilding. We don't want any negativity … If that is what this person is getting ready to bring, I don't think he's supposed to be there."

Johnson said reports of hospitals shuttered under Kyle's supervision because of negligence are a real concern.

"There is a behavior of movement and we need change in the behavior of the system," said Johnson.

Kyle contacted FOX 5 Tuesday night and said he disputes all claims against him.

We attempted to get a comment from Mayor Bowser about her selection of Kyle, but were told she wouldn't be available for comment.