Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Primary election special: Why I absolutely hate politics but am likely to vote for Fenty

Today's Post has op eds from Mayor Fenty ("A strong foundation") and Council Chairman Vince Gray ("Working as 'one city'") about why you should vote for them respectively in the primary election.

1. I'm not really going to vote for Fenty as much as I will be voting against the various groups that have come to form the coalition that supports Vince Gray--despite the fact that I respect Vince Gray for his intellect and commitment. Despite Gray's bonafides, there is plenty of animus in his campaign, not directed so much at Fenty (even though that's how it is focused) as much as it is about change and the future in general, and how the city responds to the opportunities present today, in the 21st century, changes that mean new residents, new investment, new ways of doing things, and so on, which also means changes in the economic and political and social arrangements that rule the city and how people interact.

I think a lot of Gray's supporters are anti-white, people who don't understand that the real issue isn't skin color but about capital and differences in opinion about how to build an inclusive future, and that by being anti-white racists, they completely miss what is really important. As I always say, when it comes down to color, the only color that matters in the end is the green of money.

Personally, I catch a lot of s*** from these various groups because of my positions and what I write in local listservs and other venues, so I just can't vote for Gray, I can't. Many of his supporters are just as bad as, even if they are more refined, the carpet baggers like Ronald Moten, Sinclair Skinner, and Omar Karim that feed off the Fenty Administration and misdirected contracts. I suppose that eventually that these Fenty supporters would come around and call me a racist too, we just don't move in the same circles, but at least they haven't yet.

2. Why I don't want to vote for Fenty comes down to a couple things. (a.) he doesn't think that old people such as myself--I am 50 years old--have much to offer. And frankly, I didn't start developing what we might call wisdom on how to better deal with people and build consensus as well as patience until I was 46-48 years of age--at an age basically 9 years older than Fenty is today.

(b.) the schools reform effort is utterly and completely f***** -- remember that "flawed" is the other F word, and despite the national attention and fawning over Michelle Rhee, the effort will fail, because it is focused on miraculous "great" and "young" teachers and not n building robust performance and operational systems, structures, and processes that transcend the "heroic" individuals that Rhee seems to think somehow make organizational--not individual--change happen.

3. And these couple paragraphs in today's op-ed piece by Mayor Fenty communicate why I hate politicians so often BECAUSE VIRTUALLY ALL OF THESE PROJECTS WERE INITIATED BY THE WILLIAMS ADMINISTRATION, AND PUT IN THE PIPELINE, BUT BECAUSE PROJECTS TAKE YEARS TO COME TO FRUITION, THEY CAME ON LINE DURING THE FENTY ADMINISTRATION.

From the Fenty op-ed:

Our streets are safer. Under the leadership of Police Chief Cathy Lanier, crime is down across the board. The homicide rate is the lowest it has been since 1966, and we're on track to bring it down even further this year.

Despite the worst economy since the Great Depression, we've created thousands of jobs, financed more than 11,000 units of affordable housing and delivered more than a dozen new parks and recreation centers in neighborhoods that had not seen real investment in decades. We brought grocery stores, restaurants and retail east of the Anacostia River and to Georgia Avenue. The Target-anchored DC USA is the capstone to more than a $1 billion in new investment in Columbia Heights.

4. Even so, I guess because people who drove this city in to the ground, people like Marion Barry, support Vince Gray, I guess that means I can't in good conscience vote for Gray It's too chilling and scary. The company that people keep says a lot about them.

I wouldn't call this an endorsement, just a description of the way that I am torn up inside about the upcoming election, in what I believe about the future of Washington, DC--its potential vs. its reality.

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