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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

DC mayoral election

I've said before that I am bored about the election and the "choices" we have.  Yesterday, Post columnist Robert McCartney ("Muriel Bowser seems to be the candidate to beat among rivals to DC Mayor Vincent Gray") suggests that Muriel Bowser has the best chance at beating Mayor Gray.  I've said the same for at least two years.  She's tall, she's articulate.  But she hasn't really done much but respond to constituent requests.  But out of boring, she sticks out because she's a she. 

People ask me about Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys & Poets, a small businessman who does a lot of good things.  I'm still bored.

One thing that might make me less bored are enacting all the changes I've suggested in how DC governs itself ("New Year's Post #1: Defining mediocrity up and the 2014 elections in DC") related to the point that DC also has responsibilities to function well if it wants to be a state, it's not something that's just handed down.

Anyway, Harold Meyerson had an interesting column in the LA Times ("L.A. and N.Y.: Two new mayors but two different agenda: Because of the way the elections played out, New York's Bill de Blasio has a clear mandate for policy reform. L.A.'s Eric Garcetti? Not so much") comparing progressive agendas in the respective mayoral campaigns in NYC and Los Angeles.  

He asserts that New York State's election laws, which allow for a candidate to run as a candidate for multiple "parties", allows for a finer-grained development of platforms, which supports more delineated and progressive politics.  From the article:
In New York City since the late 1990s, progressive unions and community organizations such as ACORN and its successors have come together in the Working Families Party, which now dominates the city's government. The party recruits and trains candidates and manages their campaigns. Under New York state's electoral fusion laws, office-seekers can be the nominees of more than one party, so candidates often run under the auspices of both the Democrats and the Working Families Party. Like the L.A. County Federation of Labor, the WFP runs a terrific get-out-the-vote operation, but the New York organization, unlike the County Fed, also has a permanent neighborhood canvass to build support for its chosen causes.
I have written that in DC, because the vast majority of the city's voters consider themselves "progressive-liberal-Democrat," Democratic "Party" candidates have and avail themselves of the luxury of not having to have a defined platform. 

So as far as governance and politics are concerned, we're all over the place.  Scattered.  And we don't accomplish all that much, despite the great wealth that the city has at its disposal, as we control 100% the "state" income taxes levied on residents, something no other city in North America enjoys.

Having an electoral party "fusion" process comparable to New York State might help DC start to toughen up its political parties and create competition where it now doesn't exist.



At 8:34 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

Richard, I am sure you are bored -- off all the candidates I think Gray is the closest to your philosophy and that is a stretch.

Saw a nice movie last night -- The Great Beauty -- at E st and it is (among all else) an urban movie, on that remembers why you celebrate urban living.

And thank you -- and the others -- who saved the Uline Arena. It is an ugly building, and I don't care about the Beatles. Or for that matter concrete construction or civil rights. But it is a place, and sometimes they are worth saving even when it is not so obvious.

The larger point is there is always something interesting to say, and rather than sinking pack into Iggy Pop you find your voice on this!

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Alex B. said...

"Having an electoral party "fusion" process comparable to New York State might help DC start to toughen up its political parties and create competition where it now doesn't exist."

Eh, DC's weak parties are a symptom, not a cause.

If you want to encourage more diversity, there are much better reforms. Such as adopting a single, nonpartisan (that is, open to all parties) blanket primary with the top two candidates advancing to the general election.

Such a system in DC would instantly make the general election more valuable.

Pushing for instant runoff voting would also be a plus.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

"my agenda" (outlined in the cited previous blog entry) for govt. governance reform includes IRV. I haven't written about the nonpartisan primary as a concept, but I am at least mildly supportive.

I have written about but haven't integrated into the reform agenda yet the Seattle practice of having for each office the top two vote getters in primaries moving forward to the general election.

So in Seattle, the Socialist was #2 in her race, and ended up winning in the general election.

2. I also didn't include campaign finance reforms. That, combined with other suggested changes including two councilmembers per ward, and possibly more wards, would increase competition. It wouldn't necessarily tighten up desires for platforms.

But by disconnecting the ward races from the citywide election financing "system" it would allow ward elections to be run on a ward-basis, rather than as placeholders for citywide interests.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

charlie -- I will check out the movie. Thanks for the recommendation.

wrt the Uline, David Bell--then chair of the DCPL, he helped too, dammit, I should have mentioned him, and Farleigh Earhart and Kate Farnham--said it very well, "Preservation isn't always pretty."

It's worth saving relics of industrial architecture too...

It is f*ing funny though to see all these people jumping on the 50th anniversary bandwagon...

Where were they 10+ years ago? It was a real struggle to raise interest for a not-so-pretty building, one that had been demonized (trash transfer station) and people who were supportive of the demolition would be able to earn some "green love" from pro-demolition interests.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree. We have a Working Families Party in DC, too (as of last year). It would be great if voters could vote for people running on both lines, and know that the folks they're voting for actually have a progressive platform.

We should make this happen in DC.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Right, Harold Meyerson told me that WF has opened an office in DC (and Oregon) and I need to talk with them. Haven't done it yet though...


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