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.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A sad day: DC elected officials and the Peter Principle

WUSA-TV reports that Councilman Harry Thomas will plead guilty to felony charges concerning "misuse" of funds ostensibly provided to support youth sports but instead which he used. See "DC Councilman Harry Thomas, Jr., Will Resign In Plea Agreement."

As part of the deal, he will resign, and spend some time in prison.

I can't help but wonder about the DC politics generally and the children of this generation of DC politicians, who have been taking over their positions within city politics:

• Christopher Barry, whose father wants him to take over his position as Ward 8 Councilman ("Barry said to be eyeing son as possible successor on D.C. Council," Post) but who has many other issues;

• Kwame Brown, whose father was a chief lieutenant for Marion Barry, under investigation for the misuse of campaign funds ("Kwame Brown to face campaign finance charges") not to mention the past impecadillo concerning the provision of a city-leased automobile ("Vince Gray, Kwame Brown Drive $2000-a-Month SUVs," Washington City Paper);

• Kevin Chavous, running for the Ward 7 Council seat once held by his father, being picked up on a solicitation charge ("Ward 7 candidate arrested on solicitation charge," Post);

• the sad story of Harry Thomas, Junior, son of Harry Thomas, Senior, a politician who came to the fore during a different time;

in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

In this case of course, we're referring to local DC politics as an anthropomorphic object that may have reached its ultimate level of incompetence.

I am hopeful that this is a sign of the current regime playing out, that local politics has reached its maximum level of incompetence and is ready for a new day.

Given the crop of political office hopefuls in 2012, I won't hold my breath, but even incompetence might be better so long as it isn't associated with criminality as well.

The fundamental issue that remains is the overall system and culture of corruption and how contracts and grant awards provided to community organizations and contractors are still unduly shaped by elected officials rather than through an open and transparent contracting process.

So far, a commitment to rebuilding the system to not support corruption while supporting a robust and engaged civil society is not evident.
book cover, Corrupt Cities: A Practical Guide to Cure and Prevention by Robert Klitgaard, H. Lindsey Parris

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