Words need to be followed by action: DC statehood edition
The Washington Post reports ("Can a change of titles make DC seem more stately? Ask Gov. Bowser.") on legislation put forth by DC Councilmember David Grosso on changing the names of the Mayor -- to Governor -- the City Council -- to the Legislative Assembly -- and Councilmembers -- to Representatives -- to have in place a better nomenclature to help make the argument that DC should be a state.
I've argued for a long long long time that "if you want to be a state, start acting like it, by being exemplary in all that you do in terms of governance and legislating."
We can call a Councilmember a Representative, but the city still mixes up capital budgeting in the annual appropriations process and Councilmembers take pride in cutting capital projects to fund current projects.
We waste hundreds of millions of dollars on constructing new buildings that aren't necessary or make poor use of existing facilities.
Or in not creating more innovative buildings and programs to serve the public better.
We claim we want to be "the most sustainable city in the US," but I find it hard to identify any programs (except one, by a semi-independent agency, see "How DC Water Is Using Recycled Sewage " Fortune Magazine) that function at the level of national best practice, let alone best practice on a global scale.
Instead we take great pride in slowly adopting programs that have been in place elsewhere for decades or more.
Among others, we still have serious issues with contracting ("D.C. Council report: Bowser administration favored top donor in contracting," Washington Post; and "How an Underperforming Company Won a Lucrative Energy Contract," Washington City Paper), electioneering ethics ("Council member Todd gets minor fine for many campaign finance violations," Post) and misuse of position ("Behind the DC school lottery scandal: A 'crisis in confidence '," Post).
Just because Illinois is being run into the ground ("Illinois' budget mess shackling growth," Bloomington Pantagraph) doesn't make DC a great candidate for statehood.
Statehood is both a right within the context of the United States and a privilege. Territories had to meet conditions to become states, and that included sound governance.
A couple past entries on reforming local governance:
-- "Ideal Mayoral/City Council candidate campaign agenda: Getting Our City's S*** Together, 2012
-- "Incremental piecemeal fixes to DC politics and governance mostly don't help, 2013
-- "Outline for a proposed Ward-focused (DC) Councilmember campaign platform and agenda, 2015