, is about
Councilmembers David Grosso’s and Kenyan McDuffie’s proposed legislation
for a "public financing" scheme for DC’s political campaigns. Taxing
people (or adding a percentage cost to District contracts for the
benefit of politicians’ campaigns, as Grosso and McDuffie propose) and
requiring the money be given to the political campaigns of politicians
whom they don’t support isn’t public financing. Public financing is when
members of the public voluntarily give donations to political campaigns.
This is compulsory financing, forced financing, welfare for politicians,
or as Jonetta quotes Dorothy in her article, "Earmarks for politicians."
Extorting money from the public to give to politicians to run their
political campaigns will not make campaigns more honest; it will only
make campaigns more expensive.
Tell me, please, how adding this new funding source for politicians
will eliminate under-the-counter, unreported, or cash contributions for
campaigns. What’s the connection?
Council Should Deny the Nomination of Neil
Albert to the Library Trustees
The DC Library Renaissance Project opposes the nomination of Neil
Albert to the Board of Library Trustees. Among other things, Mr.
Albert’s focus is on real estate development, which is not a priority of
the board. Moreover, the details of some of Mr. Albert’s very
controversial actions in his previous role as a DC government official
on two library development projects indicate that he is not suited for
this particular board service.
Martin Luther King Library: On behalf of the administration of former
Mayor Anthony Williams, Mr. Albert spearheaded an inexplicable attempt
to divest DC of its central library (and only local memorial to Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.). That plan — covertly introduced through a
mention buried in the 2004 Budget Support Act — was notable in
retrospect for its total disenfranchisement of the public. Eventually
uncoupled from the BSA, the plan to sell Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Library became the subject of multiple hearings demanded by the outraged
public and was subsequently dropped.
West End Library and Fire Station: In his position as Deputy Mayor
for Planning and Economic Development during the Fenty Administration,
Mr. Albert supported and advanced July 2007 sole-source emergency
legislation (a no-bid arrangement) for a large real estate development
effort in the West End. The project involved the giveaway of multiple
public parcels, including the West End Library. The private beneficiary
of DMPED’s largesse in this case was real estate developer EastBanc.
Sustained public outcry compelled the city council to investigate, and
in the course of one hearing, Mr. Albert was summoned to testify about
his ownership of an investment apartment in the condominium building
located directly across from the proposed development -- a clear
conflict of interest to which he admitted. The city council rescinded
the emergency legislation in October 2007.
In a related issue, subsequent legislation was brought to the council
by citizen groups working with the American Civil Liberties Union to
require public inclusion in the "surplus and disposition" of public
land, a "best practice" already used by other jurisdictions that
testified during these hearings. After these improved public inclusion
processes were mandated, a new and purportedly competitive Request for
Proposals (RFP) on the West End project was issued in late 2008 by DMPED.
The parameters of the RFP were strikingly similar to the original
no-bid proposal, and, despite much initial developer interest, there was
no response to the initial RFP. Mr. Albert’s office adjusted and
reissued the RFP, which resulted in only two responses, EastBanc’s and
another developer’s (that proposal did not include the fire station
property). Predictably, EastBanc’s bid — which had been shopped around
the neighborhood since 2004 — was chosen by DMPED and the community was
supportive, primarily because it had no idea that its extremely valuable
assets were being traded away for a pittance.
Partisan Election for AG
Lars H. Hydle,
It is unfortunate that the election for DC Attorney General is a
partisan election. The Council Judiciary Committee that originally
worked on this charter amendment proposed that the election be
nonpartisan, like elections for the School Board or the ANCs, but the
council changed it to a partisan election, presumably to ensure
Democratic dominance of the office. The voters who ratified the charter
amendment in 2010 did not have the opportunity to decide whether they
wanted a partisan or nonpartisan elections.
A nonpartisan AG election would give non-Democratic voters equal
influence on the election, and give the winner the independence that the
office needs as an internal DC check and balance on our government.
Not Buying Cars, Living at Home: the New
With regard to the point that can be inferred from Gary’s opening
commentary in the previous issue of themail, that there isn’t
necessarily a quantum change in behavior amongst millennials concerning
driving so much as they don’t have enough money to buy a car (and this
is the same reason why many millennials have moved back home after
graduating from college); that might be. But it doesn’t matter. It’s
reasonable to presume that going forward, in a globally connected
economy, many US jobs will no longer be able to command wage premiums
and given worldwide demand, there will be more competition for oil, so
prices will go up (currently the US consumes about 20 percent of the
total production of oil and we have about 5 percent of the world’s
population), even in the face of increased production responding to
Living in smaller abodes, in connected places where more tasks can be
accomplished nearby on foot, by bike, or by transit, and not having to
own and/or use an automobile frequently for even the simplest trips, are
three of the steps that people can take to maintain quality of life
while living in reduced economic circumstances. (Many households spend
upwards of 25 percent of their income on transportation — owning and
maintaining a car.)
And for those of us who fear heart disease because of the health
history in our families, bike-based transportation also provides
simultaneous exercise (if I make it past fifty-four years of age, the
age when both my father and his brother died from heart disease, I’ll
attribute it in large part to biking for the past twenty-plus years and
eating better). As the choice of transportation relates to the city
proper, imagine that the city really does re-achieve a population of
800,000. If you think that adding 170,000 residents to the city, all
driving, will make things better, "you got another think coming." For
what it’s worth, I made a similar point in a piece in themail almost ten
years ago (
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