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Breakfast links: Some good changes


Photo by Steve Rhodes on Flickr.
Will Four26 prompt reforms?: Keith Ivey suggests ending the at-large interim appointments, instituting IRV, and having more flexibility in election dates. Martin Austermuhle adds reforming the petition signature challenge process and fixing campaign finance loopholes. (Four26)

IRV explained, British style: A British video explains how Alternative Vote, called Instant Runoff Voting in the US, is not that complicated and is really like the way a group of "mates" might decide what "pub" to go to. An upcoming referendum could implement IRV for the UK parliament. (Gavin)

Higher ridership shrinks gap: Higher-than-expected ridership has buoyed WMATA's finances some, shrinking the $72.5 million budget gap by approximately $6 million. Service cuts will still be on the table to close the remaining gap. (Examiner)

Swain's ouster political payback: Mayor Gray had made a promise to the taxicab industry who heavily supported his campaign to fire Commissioner Leon Swain. Gray may reappoint a Commissioner from Marion Barry's fourth mayoral term. (Post)

Barry wants Near SE, Near SE doesn't want Barry: Marion Barry has made clear he wants the ballpark district added to Ward 8 in the upcoming redistricting. That's very unpopular with residents of the area, who are organizing to oppose the idea. (JDland)

Residents oppose development in Bluemont: The civic association in Bluemont, west of Ballston, commissioned a proposal to create a walkable village center in place of some strip malls and warehouses. It's not a real proposal yet, but some residents at a meeting already are objecting to potential development. (ARLnow)

Workers fired after accident: Two Metro workers were fired after leaving an escalator hatch open overnight at the Pentagon station. The hatch remained open after the station opened and a woman fell in. (Examiner)

Important wedding today: We don't mean the British monarchy. Coalition for Smarter Growth policy director Cheryl Cort and her partner are getting married. Mazel tov! And thanks, DC Council (except Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry and possibly Vincent Orange)!

And...: PBS Newshour profiled DC's second-class status in Congress, hopefully raising awareness of DC's struggle for representation. ... Since the incentive for buildings to create street-fronting arcades was removed, at least one was enclosed. (City Paper) ... 30 bridges, or 12% of those in DC, are structurally deficient. (TBD)

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

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"PBS Newshour profiled DC's second-class status in Congress, hopefully raising awareness of DC's struggle for representation."

I wouldn't count on it. Those who watch PBS are already progressive enough to know about our battle. If Fox News (miraculously) did a bit on how 600,000 Americans are upset about how their taxes are being spent by the Fed, I could believe some change.

by thedofc on Apr 29, 2011 9:13 am • linkreport

@ Budget gap

My guess is that this will close even more if gas prices remain high. That being said this is not the time to cut services. We need to find ways to keep those new customers, not drive them away.

by Matt R on Apr 29, 2011 9:27 am • linkreport

I found the comment string in the ARLnow article on Bluemont very interesting. In general, the objectors say they don't want locally owned stores to be driven out. More specifically, though, the businesses that people most frequently say they want to keep are Safeway and McDonalds.

by Ben Ross on Apr 29, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

If the increase in gas prices hasn't increased metro ridership yet, I wonder if it will actually reduce the budget gap going forward as they are forecasting. Is there any indication that the 2008 gas price increases led to increased ridership?
Agree with Matt R that service cuts (especially extremely long weekend waits) would be counterproductive.

by DCster on Apr 29, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

The reason that the ex-Mayor-for-Life wants to include the ballpark district and waterfront area in Ward 8 is that he's currently lacking any significant projects to shake down, for favors and contracts to friends and cronies. The St. E's redevelopment is largely Federal, and even Barry has sense not to try to pull shenanigans with that. While even PG County, post-Jack Johnson, is starting to move away from pay-to-play, the xMfL feels he's been missing out on the action for too long.

by Bob on Apr 29, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

Ever since I was a young boy I've loved to play in arcades. From NY (where they're always better) down the Richmond, I've surely played them all.*

So I will strenuously object to the elimination of any incentives to the building of street-front arcades. Where will I go to waste my quarters? Back alley arcades? Puh-lease!

* Apologies to Pete Townsend.

by Who on Apr 29, 2011 9:50 am • linkreport

So what is the wait time for the fired METRO employees to be rehired with back pay?

by ksu499 on Apr 29, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

What are Marion Barry's election percentages in Ward 8? Aka if he does draw near SE does that potentially spell his doom as, I'm assuming, the majority of the residents there don't feel a need or want to vote for him.

by jj on Apr 29, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

In the 2008 primary, Barry got 77% of the vote, 4,359 votes to only 622 for Charles Wilson and 498 for Sandra Seegars.

http://www.dcboee.org/election_info/election_results/election_result_new/results_final.asp?userprev=1&electionid=1&result_type=3

So he's pretty safe. The ward has about 20,000 people, so maybe a quarter voted, and there are only 2,794 people in Near Southeast.

by David Alpert on Apr 29, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

@jj, he wins handily. In the 2004 primary he beat incumbent Sandy Allen 58-25 in a seven-way race, and in the 2008 primary he beat Charles Wilson 77-11 in a five-way race. In the general elections, he breaks 90%, as one would expect.

by cminus on Apr 29, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

Yeah Barry will continue to win in Ward 8 as long there is no formiddable candidate. I'm convinced he'll do a Robert Byrd or Strom Thurmond.

Funny thing is that I voted for Charles Wilson and had no idea who he was or what platform he ran on.

Those pesky irresponsible voters I tell you! Me included.

by HogWash on Apr 29, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

oh well, one can only dream then.

by jj on Apr 29, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

AV will go down in flames in the UK. Polls had it winning by 10% in January, but the more people learn and understand the system, they reject it. Polls now show AV loosing by 20%. This is not uncommon. AV or Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) has been tried in the states, only to be repealed (expensive) after using it once or twice.

Fort Collins Voters just rejected IRV 61% to 39% for plurality elections.

Here's a video about AV that describes the problems, and another form California where it has been used:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmP81NW9_O0

and California:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng-wEzXMV3A

by Tourist on Apr 29, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

@nearSE:
Two words: term limits. Suppose we removed Barry from the equation; how much opposition would this idea generate? With new leadership, Anacostia could continue the resurgence now seen south of Capitol Hill. As long as DC continues to re-elect Mayors/Commissioners/Representatives-For-Life, DC will lack new ideas and new blood to achieve its true potential.

by smoke_jaguar4 on Apr 29, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

Two words: term limits. Suppose we removed Barry from the equation

Oh, boy. Not this again.

Great, so, to give an example, someone like Wells would be term-limited out of office, and some demagogue who "walks and talks like us" would take his place. The idea that "politician churn" is manifestly preferable to the status quo is highly suspect.

Excellent idea.

by oboe on Apr 29, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

@Tourist

The assumption used in the second scenario presented in that first video seems highly suspect. It seems incredibly unlikely for a candidate in last place to swap places with the frontrunner (without affecting the choices in between).

Similarly, you'd never see a sequence like 1-Green 2-Republican 3-Democrat, as was presented in that video. In a more realistic simulation, a moderate 3rd party might win out over the mainstream party.

Also, that simulation used a bastardized version of the IRV system. Would anybody seriously propose pooling results by ward before performing the runoff? That seems to defeat part of the purpose of IRV.

Also, both of those ads have all the hallmarks of a campaign ad. Someone's definitely got an axe to grind.

by andrew on Apr 29, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

Moreover, that second video is just asinine. It wasted six minutes of my life that I'll never get back with an idiotic semantic quibble over the definition of "majority". It ignores the fact that those people weren't elected with only the first choice votes, which were indeed not a majority, but taking into account the second and third, etc., preferences. That's the effing point of IRV.

Tens of thousands of elections have gone down with the old system where the winner didn't win the majority, yet we throw around the aphorism of "majority rules". Does that mean those elections are failures because they didn't live up to the definition of majority?

For every freak election under IRV there are hundreds of elections like the one we just had here where the winner was probably opposed by the majority of voters. Scare tactics and asinine semantic debates can't change that.

by TM on Apr 29, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport

If Res. 13 and near SW got sucked into Wards 8 and 7 respectively, how likely do you think it would be for people in those hoods to rally to vote Barry and Alexander out?

by mc on Apr 29, 2011 5:00 pm • linkreport

Barry will never be voted out. He will die in office, or maybe he will decide not to run again. I'll go with the die in office. for life is for life.

by greent on Apr 30, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

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