Revisiting stories: executive vs. legislative and the four vacant houses in Anacostia
Curbed DC reports ("Four vacant, government-owned Anacostia homes transfer to historic preservation group: The L’Enfant Trust has completed the transfer of four properties in the Southeast neighborhood") that DC has transferred four dilapidated but historic properties to the L'Enfant Trust for subsequent rehabilitation.
This was discussed in the past, because it was subject of a "battle" between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch which controlled the houses wasn't doing much, and aggrieved citizens got the Legislative Branch to pass a law giving control of the properties to a local nonprofit that has been rehabilitating houses.
Three examples of L'etat c'est moi/Not invented here/Executive authority (in DC local government)."
What's more interesting than what I wrote is the comment thread.
First, an anonymous commenter made the very good point that generally getting the Council involved in such matters can lead to serious corruption and had in the past (although that's true of the Executive Branch as well).
My point was that the Executive Branch needed to act. That there was no reason to let the houses moulder and that if they couldn't act, then the Legislative Branch was right to step in and move things along.
That being said the process is an example of the failures in how the city does capital budgeting planning and management.
Second, was the other discussion in the thread about technocracy, execution, democracy, vision, etc. in local government. It's no less relevant one year later.
For example, David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times, has a piece about successful school reform, "Good Leaders Make Good Schools."
He blows it by mentioning DC as a positive example, in the face of local reporting on systematic failures in terms of test cheating, passing and graduating students who don't attend school, claiming 100% of graduating classes will be going to college when about 17% actually did, failure to respond to non-DC residents enrolling in DC public schools, etc.
The reality is that making successful change for hard to help populations is very hard.
Rather than acknowledge that from the outset and put the right resources in place to aim to accomplish it, instead the focus was on test scores and even graduation rates, which are easier to game.
It's another failure to execute that seemingly has little consequence.