Thomas M. Smith, the immediate past chairman of the Ward 3 Democratic
State Committee, pens a damning indictment of his own party in todayís
His recommendation for repairing the Democratic partyís failures is
that, "Itís Time to Open up the Districtís Primaries." "Under the
current system, Democratic insiders have a stranglehold on this
one-party town. The Districtís closed primary process has created a
breeding ground for politicians who, in rising through the party ranks,
look at public service as a personal entitlement and are careful to
reward their fellow activists to ensure future support." Thatís
inarguable, but the solution he proposes ó opening party primaries to
members of other parties and to nonparty voters ó wonít solve anything.
It will only strengthen the stranglehold of the Democratic party on
politics in the District of Columbia.
Democrats dominate DC politics because 75 percent of DC voters are
Democrats, and fiddling with the voting system wonít change that. But
opening the Republican partyís primaries to Democratic voters will
ensure that Republicans will never again be able to nominate a strong
candidate to contest a general election. Whenever a strong Republican
runs, just a few thousand Democratic voters can ensure that a weaker
candidate wins instead by voting in the Republic primary. That will
decrease, not increase, real competition.
I donít have a solution for how to provide better, more competitive,
political races in DC. If nonparty voters want to have a say in who is
nominated in primaries, they need to join a party, Democratic,
Republican, or Statehood Green, or to create another party more to their
liking. Membership is political parties is completely open, with no
prerequisites, no dues, and no duties. Donít whine about not being able
to elect the leaders of a party that you wonít join. If party members
arenít satisfied with the nominees of their own parties, thereís a
solution to that: encourage better candidates to run and get out to vote
for them. If the members of your own party arenít committed enough to
provide good nominees, donít expect nonparty voters, who donít care
enough about your party even to register a members of it, to save you by
choosing better candidates than your party members will.
Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh have introduced a Bill that
will make living in the District much safer [http://www.scribd.com/doc/126231144/Bicycle-Safety-Omnibus-Draft-2-1-13].
The legislation would extend privileges to riders and make bicycles the
preferred mode of transportation in the city. As proof of their efforts
to ensure bicycle safety, the councilmembers are proposing no more car
parking around the John A. Wilson Building where a series of bike racks
will be installed. Any councilmember driving a car will be labeled a
The city is in the midst of a metamorphosis. It has climbed out from
under the devastation caused by the riots of the last century and is
changing to meet the needs of a younger, more entitled group of
residents. These youngsters are judgmental and lack finesse. They
honestly believe what Mr. Rogers told them every afternoon, "Youíre
Special." They are proof the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Itís good that Tommy and Mary are working hand in glove with this
group of youngsters on passage of the bicycle legislation as it will
help fulfill their political ambitions. Imagine how much better the city
will operate with Tommy as mayor and Mary as council chair. Doesnít
Mayor Wells have a nice ring to it?
Cyclists Getting the Best Part of the Stick
Cyclists are getting the best deal riding on the streets of
Washington, DC. Penalties against vehicle owners that collide with them
or fail to yield the right of way are convicted simply because they are
in a vehicle that failed to move out of the cyclistís path of travel.
However, nothing is charged against cyclists who fail to obey the rules
of the road. They will continue to run stop signs and red lights and
make U-turns in the middle of the street with no penalties against them.
The councilmembers who dreamed up these penalties do not drive on the
streets of DC on a regular basis; neither do they understand that it is
impossible to stop a three or five ton vehicle on a dime just to avoid
an idiot on two wheels who thinks that he owns the streets. True,
cyclists do have a right of way, but they also must give vehicle owners
the right of way when they encounter them on the busy streets of DC. MPD
ought to snatch them up when they are seen violating the rules of the
road setting the scene for a terrible accident. We do not live in a far
Eastern City like what you would find in Thailand or India where
vehicles are not as plentiful as they are here in the United States. We
live in a city where modes of transportation cross paths on a regular
basis. There are rules that govern them all. Therefore, singling out
vehicle owners as culprits and major contributors to accidents with
cyclists is unfair. A strong look must also be given to cyclists who set
the scene for accidents by their ignorant behavior on the streets of DC.
Moratorium on Charter Authorization
Erich Martel, ehmartel at starpower dot net
Testimony before the DC Charter School Board, January 28: I am
requesting that the DC Public Charter School Board 1) place an immediate
moratorium on all new charter authorizations. The DC Public Charter
School Board overlooks the practice by charter high schools of enrolling
large numbers of ninth graders, then transferring over 40 percent before
their tenth grade CAS test, and another large number prior to
graduation. In so doing, they are employing a de facto private
school privilege of transferring students with challenging behavior and
academic deficiencies from their cohorts to the responsibility of DCPS.
But the appropriated funds do not follow the student; instead, they fund
smaller class sizes, artificially inflating their percentage of
proficient students and their graduation rate. By dividing the number of
2012 graduates by the original ninth grade enrollment four years
earlier, the schoolís de facto "privilege gap" disappears: DCPS
high schools have a graduation rate of 49.6 percent (not 56 percent) and
DC charter high schools have 48.8 percent (not 77 percent).
2) Rescind the deficient fifteen-year reauthorization of Cesar Chavez
Public Charter School and authorize an independent investigation of its
student enrollment and transfer policies and the retention of funds
appropriated for these students. In 2012, Cesar Chavez Capitol Hill
graduated only 50, or 27 percent of the 187 ninth graders enrolled four
years earlier, while Cesar Chavez Parkside graduated only 41, or 28
percent of the 148 students in the starting ninth grade cohort.
3) Reject the applications of the following online charter school
operators for charters to open schools and receive public funds in the
District of Columbia: Rocketship Education DC, DC Flex Academy, and
Nexus Academy of DC. The implication that students who are
disinterested, lacking in basic classroom social skills, deficient in
fundamentals in many subject areas, especially reading and
math/arithmetic, et cetera, are going to be motivated by online
courses and marginally trained paraprofessionals is fraudulent and
reveals them to be costly high school diploma mills.
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