Greater Greater Washington

Live chat with Bryan Weaver

Please welcome Bryan Weaver, a recent ANC Commissioner in Adams Morgan and candidate for the at-large DC Council seat in April's special election.

 Live chat with Bryan Weaver(02/01/2011) 
12:55
David Alpert: 
Welcome to our live chat with Bryan Weaver, candidate for DC Council at-large. Bryan will be joining us momentarily.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 12:55 David Alpert
12:55
David Alpert: 
In the meantime, please type in questions you'd like to ask Bryan. We'll get to as many as we can, and the earlier you put them in, the more likely we can cover it.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 12:55 David Alpert
1:01
David Alpert: 
OK, Bryan has now joined us. Welcome!
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:01 David Alpert
1:02
Bryan Weaver: 
Thanks to Greater Greater Washington for having me on today and hello to my fellow "little myopic twits." It's a pleasure to be here.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:02 Bryan Weaver
1:03
David Alpert: 
A lot of people have heard of your Ward 1 candidacy and the Draft Weaver campaign but may be less sure of what you stand for. Briefly, can you say what the top 2-3 issues for you would be if you are elected to the DC Council?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:03 David Alpert
1:04
Bryan Weaver: 
Without a doubt youth issues--we fail our young people at almost every level in this city and we need to do better in so many ways...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:04 Bryan Weaver
1:05
Bryan Weaver: 
Also oversight/transparency/reform of our government and how it functions...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:05 Bryan Weaver
1:05
Bryan Weaver: 
And finally sustainable development/growth.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:05 Bryan Weaver
1:05
David Alpert: 
A few readers have submitted some questions about development and growth, so let's get to those.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:05 David Alpert
1:06
[Comment From NickNick: ] 
As a Columbia Heights resident, I'm curious what will fill the spot in DCUSA that was supposed to be filled with Ellwood Thompson. Will we get another grocery store?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:06 Nick
1:06
David Alpert: 
And generally, what can DC do to encourage grocery stores in many areas?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:06 David Alpert
1:07
Bryan Weaver: 
It seems that our on-again, off-again bromance with Ellwood Thompson's is now permanently off....We've spent a lot of money and effort to draw in high-end organic markets, but the one thing that we don't have is a local incubator style market. Something like Eastern Market but in other places...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:07 Bryan Weaver
1:09
Bryan Weaver: 
There are also great ways to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved parts of the city. In Detroit they use a food-truck model, but instead of lobster rolls, its lettuce and grapes and other goodies.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:09 Bryan Weaver
1:10
Bryan Weaver: 
We need to think beyond Whole Foods and Harris Teeter. For instance the Palisades farmer's market is looking for a permanent indoor space.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:10 Bryan Weaver
1:10
David Alpert: 
I was just in Los Angeles and visited the Grand Central Market downtown, and was thinking how great it would be if we had one of those in DC.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:10 David Alpert
1:10
David Alpert: 
One more urban life question:
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:10 David Alpert
1:10
[Comment From MikeMike: ] 
Will they ever grant more liquor licenses on 18th st?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:10 Mike
1:10
David Alpert: 
What do you think about DC's approach to liquor licenses in general?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:10 David Alpert
1:12
Bryan Weaver: 
Actually there are more than a dozen licenses that are currently sitting in safekeeping, so at any given time, 12 new places could open up in Adams Morgan. Whether or not the moratorium will go away, depends on the community. I think the community would support more restaurants right now
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:12 Bryan Weaver
1:13
David Alpert: 
Let's talk youth issues:
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:13 David Alpert
1:13
[Comment From MsVMsV: ] 
You've done a lot of work with at-risk youth in Ward 1. What have you learned from those experiences and how do you think those experiences translate East of the River?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:13 MsV
1:15
Bryan Weaver: 
While I'm based in Ward One, my organization takes youth from all over the city as part of our summer program. I was just out at Thurgood Marshall Academy last week to talk to students. Kids are the same no matter what Ward they live in. They want an education or access to a career path job...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:15 Bryan Weaver
1:16
Bryan Weaver: 
I think the violence that many kids exerpience first-hand in this city is completely incomprehensible to most of us and that's in all Wards.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:16 Bryan Weaver
1:16
David Alpert: 
That's very sad that kids have to grow up with that.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:16 David Alpert
1:17
Bryan Weaver: 
It breaks my heart every day.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:17 Bryan Weaver
1:17
David Alpert: 
Some people have asked about what specifics the DC Council can do, since the job you are seeking is as a DC Councilmember, of course.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:17 David Alpert
1:17
[Comment From SusieSusie: ] 
Bryan, can you give us some specifics about how you would propose to stop the downward spirals of youth violence, disengagement from school, etc.?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:17 Susie
1:19
Bryan Weaver: 
There are about 2K juvenile offenders that are in the system. But we only have a 60 bed lock-down facility for the 60 most violent offenders. Those kids get all the services available, but the 61st most violent kid ends up in a group home with no services or they are outsourced to a for-profit out-of-state facility...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:19 Bryan Weaver
1:20
Bryan Weaver: 
We spend $61 million to have someone else in another state to care for our children. We have to find a better way to make better choices with that money. And there has to be a step-back. If a kid on parole committs a minor crime or tests dirty, we have to have an ability to put them somewhere, somewhere that's not necessarily a jail, but has more accountability than a group home...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:20 Bryan Weaver
1:21
Bryan Weaver: 
We've seen the tragic results when kids walk away from group homes and committ crimes or become victims themselves....
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:21 Bryan Weaver
1:22
Bryan Weaver: 
Truthfully, I could spend this entire discussion about the reforms that we need to make to your youth adjudication system.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:22 Bryan Weaver
1:22
Bryan Weaver: 
That would be our youth adjudication system! We're all in this together.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:22 Bryan Weaver
1:23
[Comment From JackJack: ] 
Would making drugs legal reduce many juvenile crimes?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:23 Jack
1:24
Bryan Weaver: 
Boy...you know, I don't necessarily think so. I think employment opportunities play a huge part in this. So many of the young people I work with just want a job...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:24 Bryan Weaver
1:26
Bryan Weaver: 
I will say that because we are part of a federal system (whether we like it or not) we do have tougher penalties around drugs, so that certainly does play into the problem with youth crime. But at the end of the day so many really just want to go to work somewhere other than just on the corner. And just like the Wire, we can't leave any street corner behind.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:26 Bryan Weaver
1:26
David Alpert: 
A number of readers have asked about economic development.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:26 David Alpert
1:26
[Comment From EvansEvans: ] 
There seems to be a disconnect b/w wanting economic development in all wards. But economic development usually comes with increased property values, meaning issues crop up with affordable housing. What is your take on this dichotomy? How to promote development and also promote affordable housing? Is that something you want to see the council do--promote affordable housing in the city?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:26 Evans
1:28
Bryan Weaver: 
I think sometime we have a bit of a disconnect over what "affordable housing" means. I am a huge proponent of creating incentives for workforce housing. Much like the co-ops Baltimore has created for teachers and artists.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:28 Bryan Weaver
1:28
[Comment From SteveSteve: ] 
What should we do with former DCPS school buildings that have been closed? Do you think the city has done the right thing so far?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:28 Steve
1:30
Bryan Weaver: 
It's a mixed bag. Despite the terrible budget numbers, I don't think the city should be in the business of selling off public property. I would much prefer to at least see the properties leased out charter schools or nonprofits, house other government agencies...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:30 Bryan Weaver
1:31
Bryan Weaver: 
In the case of Bruce Monroe, the city promised a new school and then came forward with proposals to sell off the land.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:31 Bryan Weaver
1:32
[Comment From NickNick: ] 
In terms of Smart Growth, there has been some discussion over whether it is time for the DC building height limit to go. Would you support such a measure? If not, how can we encourage denser and smarter growth?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:32 Nick
1:34
Bryan Weaver: 
I don't think we're at the level of height yet. But I do think we want to create incentives where you're building more density, particularly where you're going from commercial to residential. I think the proposals in inclusionary zoning (which I lobbied in favor of) maximizing height and density is the direction we should build. I'm not ready to say we should build anything higher than the Capitol dome...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:34 Bryan Weaver
1:36
Bryan Weaver: 
But as the success of the buildings around Metro stations have showed us, you can create buildings that maximize density and height and not one parking space per one apartment design.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:36 Bryan Weaver
1:36
[Comment From ChristineChristine: ] 
Comic development is often confused with real estate development, but it means business development too. What could the city do to create more jobs?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:36 Christine
1:36
David Alpert: 
(I assume Christine means economic development, though some development is often comic.)
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:36 David Alpert
1:37
Bryan Weaver: 
If only DC Comics would move their headquarters here...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:37 Bryan Weaver
1:37
David Alpert: 
BTW, wow, we have so many great questions in the queue here!
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:37 David Alpert
1:37
David Alpert: 
Thanks to everyone who's submitting them!
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:37 David Alpert
1:38
Bryan Weaver: 
The city has had a 10-year policy of creating tax abatements for development with the requirement that the majority of the jobs on the construction site or the people working in those developments be D.C. residents and it rarely if ever gets enforced...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:38 Bryan Weaver
1:39
Bryan Weaver: 
This absolutely drives me crazy when you see 30 percent unemployment in Ward 8 and a relatively simple solution to the problem. We also desperately need training programs and internship programs so when these jobs are available, our residents can take them...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:39 Bryan Weaver
1:40
Bryan Weaver: 
In addition, small business really drives the economy here and provides so many jobs, we are always quick to give tax breaks and incentives to the large projects, but we do very little to support our small, local businesses.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:40 Bryan Weaver
1:40
David Alpert: 
So many more important issues to cover. Let's move on to education:
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:40 David Alpert
1:40
[Comment From JaimeJaime: ] 
What are your thoughts on education? In particular, what role can/does the Council play in the Charter debate, as well as the possibility that vouchers will return? Vocational schools?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:40 Jaime
1:43
Bryan Weaver: 
We can't really afford to build any additional vocational schools, but there is no reason why we can't and shouldn't be putting more vocational programs into existing schools. Cardozo has two great programs (green buildings initiative and Metro maintenance) that are housed there. We should be doing that in other schools, especially those with small populations...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:43 Bryan Weaver
1:44
Bryan Weaver: 
Vouchers are a gimmick. It's $7500 to low-income families and there are almost no good private schools that have that low of a tuitition...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:44 Bryan Weaver
1:45
Bryan Weaver: 
If Republicans in Congress can guarantee me every at-risk student in D.C. a seat at St. Albans or Sidwell Friends, I might take that bet...but really this is a way for them to introduce "school choice" as a national program using us as the testing ground....
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:45 Bryan Weaver
1:47
Bryan Weaver: 
The largest role the council plays is oversight. The council also needs to play a role in creating incentives to get the best qualified to teach in the poorest, low-income schools. Because right now we work in almost the opposite, where the incentives go to teachers teaching at Murch or Oyster.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:47 Bryan Weaver
1:48
David Alpert: 
We could spend a long time on education, but there are a few things that I wanted not to skip. First, perhaps something that should be a pro forma question for GGW chats:
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:48 David Alpert
1:48
[Comment From DougDoug: ] 
Bryan, what types of public transportation do you use on a regular basis?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:48 Doug
1:50
Bryan Weaver: 
I use the bus and Metro quite a bit. And truthfully I walk a lot (ever since my bike got jacked at the U Street Metro). My four-year old daughter is quite the bus expert and can tell you where the 90s go and that bus rojo es para Target.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:50 Bryan Weaver
1:50
David Alpert: 
Sorry to hear about your bike!
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:50 David Alpert
1:50
[Comment From EricEric: ] 
What do you think of CM Barry's recent suggestion to limit TANF benefits to 5 years?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:50 Eric
1:52
Bryan Weaver: 
In a perfect world, people wouldn't need TANF for more than 5 years, but we don't live in a perfect world. As Barry's suggestion is proposed, I don't think it can win. Not to say that there isn't merit to some sort of sunset on benefits or a limit to benefits over time, but the current proposal just isn't feasible.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:52 Bryan Weaver
1:53
David Alpert: 
One quick one coming back to something from earlier:
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:53 David Alpert
1:53
[Comment From NickNick: ] 
Speaking of food trucks, there has been significant push back from downtown restaurant establishments regarding the proliferation of these trucks and, I believe, are requesting the Council to create new laws/regulations to limit these trucks. As a member of the Council, would you support this effort?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:53 Nick
1:56
Bryan Weaver: 
If the DC Slice truck pulls up in front of Matchbox, that's probably not the best thing, but there are plenty of places for these trucks to locate and I don't really see limiting them at this time as the way to go. If you want to create food truck zones, like Portland, Ore. has that's one thing, but I don't think we're there yet...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:56 Bryan Weaver
1:57
Bryan Weaver: 
There have always been food trucks ("roach coaches") in this city, but until we got some good quaility trucks with "hipster food" that appealed to a wider audience it was never a problem. I think they are part of the fabric of commerce in the city.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:57 Bryan Weaver
1:58
Bryan Weaver: 
BTW, how do you think I'm getting my 3K signatures? I'm following the lobster roll truck around.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:58 Bryan Weaver
1:58
David Alpert: 
Thanks, Bryan. To wrap up, I wanted to ask you a bit about the dynamics of the election, which has a fairly crowded field, one candidate with most establishment Democratic support, and one main Republican:
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:58 David Alpert
1:59
[Comment From MartinMartin: ] 
Isn't the race over now that Gray&Co have anointed Biddle?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:59 Martin
1:59
[Comment From Confused VoterConfused Voter: ] 
I'm concerned that without instant runoff voting, I'll vote for you as my first choice and my last choice will get elected. Should I still vote for you instead of my second choice, who is more of a frontrunner?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:59 Confused Voter
2:00
Bryan Weaver: 
If the race is over, then shame on the voters of the District of Columbia for not taking the time to actually learn about the candidates. This is an election not a coronation. Frankly, a lot of the strong-arm tactics that are being used, I find offensive and so should all the voters...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:00 Bryan Weaver
2:01
Bryan Weaver: 
Let people run on their ideas and merits, not who held a fundraiser for them...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:01 Bryan Weaver
2:03
Bryan Weaver: 
As for IRV, we're not at that stage in D.C. (we're still disagreeing over vote centers), so while I appreciate where you're coming from with it, it's just not an issue and I would say vote for who you think is best for the job...
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:03 Bryan Weaver
2:04
Bryan Weaver: 
I'm not really sure how we're determining frontrunner at this point anyway. Because the Mayor or a councilmember told you to vote for somebody? If voters really care about this election and this city they need to take the time to learn about the candidates for themselves.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:04 Bryan Weaver
2:05
David Alpert: 
Sadly, that's all the time we have, but thanks so much to everyone who submitted so many terrific questions including the ones we weren't able to get to. We'll be talking with Bryan about finding more ways to give you a chance to hear from him as well as from the other candidates.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:05 David Alpert
2:05
David Alpert: 
And thanks so much, Bryan, for joining us today!
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:05 David Alpert
2:07
Bryan Weaver: 
Thanks everyone! I had a great time. Now I'm off to find a food truck for lunch! It seems like a mac and cheese sort of day. For more info about me or my campaign, visit www.bryanweaverdc.com and stay tuned for a commercial message or two.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:07 Bryan Weaver
2:07
David Alpert: 
Also, stay tuned here on Greater Greater Washington for our live chat with Patrick Mara, another Ward One resident, tomorrow at 1 pm.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:07 David Alpert
2:08
David Alpert: 
And Bryan will be at the candidate forum we are cosponsoring with DC for Democracy and the DC Environmental Network on Thursday night, 6:30 (doors open at 6) at One Judiciary Square, 11th floor.
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:08 David Alpert
2:09
David Alpert: 
Finally, leave your thoughts in the comments. What did you think of what Bryan said? Are you more or less likely to vote for him? What else do you want to hear about from him or other candidates?
Tuesday February 1, 2011 2:09 David Alpert
2:09
 

 
 
 
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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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He's a very likable candidate. He was my ANC rep (1C03) and I thought did a great job.

by RS on Feb 1, 2011 2:17 pm • linkreport

Weaver seems like a well-meaning guy. But in some ways, that was pretty uninspiring. A *lot* of old skool thinking permeating his answers. Particularly this:

This absolutely drives me crazy when you see 30 percent unemployment in Ward 8 and a relatively simple solution to the problem. We also desperately need training programs and internship programs so when these jobs are available, our residents can take them...

It's been long documented that the reason this law is "rarely enforced" is that the construction contractors can't fill those backbreaking entry-level positions with locals--though they try. In other words, this provision *is* enforced--but the developers get waivers because at some point, you actually need to have someone who will show up and do the work.

Not sure how the "world we live in" requires us to provide open-ended TANF benefits. Maryland and Virginia (and every other state, I think) seems to do just fine in that world. It's one of the reasons why we tend to import poverty and dysfunction from the suburbs. And they're in a hell of a better position to support a greater poverty load.

I'll leave aside the responses to the Height Act question ("I don't think we're at the level of height yet"?) or IRV ("we're not at that stage in D.C."?).

I'm still waiting for the next iteration of DC politician who has the courage to take on some of the shibboleths, and fight for the things we know (especially here on GGW) work.

by oboe on Feb 1, 2011 2:21 pm • linkreport

I'll clarify: I'm with RS; Weaver seems like a perfect ANC rep. We need something a bit more substantial for the Council, though.

by oboe on Feb 1, 2011 2:22 pm • linkreport

I like Bryan on several levels, think he has a great sense of humor, voted for him for Ward 1 CM, would love to see him on the Council, but he doesn't have my vote yet.

Here's why: I like Sekou Biddle too, and I *don't* like the alternatives, one of whom might slip in if Biddle and Weaver split their common votes.

Bryan's answer to the last question was not at all satisfying.

I'm not really sure how we're determining frontrunner at this point anyway. Because the Mayor or a councilmember told you to vote for somebody? If voters really care about this election and this city they need to take the time to learn about the candidates for themselves.

I'm not going to vote for someone just because Kwame and Vince tell me to, but I'm not going to withhold my vote for that reason either.

And who is determining frontrunner? The most powerful and second most powerful person in city government plus a money advantage plus incumbency sort of determines it. Not saying it can't change, but if the election were held today, I'd vote strategically, with my brain instead of my heart.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 1, 2011 2:54 pm • linkreport

I asked a bunch of questions, thank you for taking one of them (about affordable housing and economic development). I thought his response was illumination. He's right, people mean different things by affordable housing. And for him to say that for him affordable housing means workforce housing says a lot.

I must say he left me feeling uninspired. Not sure that any candidate will leave me feeling inspired though, so I'll just wait until I hear more from all of them.

I want to hear what each candidate says about the budget situation. We can have all the ideas in the world, but if we have none about how to pay for them, where does that leave us. For example, he talked about supporting/replicating programs like those at Cardozo. Where does that money come from?

by Evans on Feb 1, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

I liked some of Weaver's answers and found - like oboe - some of his other answers to be the usual bleeding heart tropes.

But I liked him much more overall than I liked Biddle's answers.

by Fritz on Feb 1, 2011 3:09 pm • linkreport

I was disappointed in Bryan Weaver's discussion of school vouchers. Although he created a nice strawman with respect to Sidwell Friends and St. Albans, he sidestepped the point of the question. If he truly aims to represent our entire City, he owes us a more thoughtful and intellectually honest answer.

Mr. Weaver is either mistaken or disingenuous when he asserts that "there are almost no good private schools" that can be attended for $7,500 or less. If Mr. Weaver bothered to look around his own Ward, he would see several examples of affordable private schools such as Sacred Heart School and St. Augustine School. Just because these schools and community anchors are not the "flavor of the week" for his hipster supporters, does not mean that there aren't parents that wish to send their children there. St. Augustine and Sacred Heart each have a century-long track record of providing excellent elementary school educations to students from all backgrounds (and faiths). These schools have struggled since the demise of the DC Opportunity Scholarships. There is an entire constallation of private schools outside the rarified halls of St. Albans and Sidwell. Many of these schools have been community anchors in both good and bad times.

Mr. Weaver's castigation of vouchers as a "gimmick" while endorsing DC's charter school bonanza is logically and morally inconsistent. DC Charter schools are frequently "public" in name and funding only. Many have unfortunately turned into self-selecting, elitist fiefdoms for the fashionable, gentrifying set. They cost a hell of a lot more to the taxpayer per pupil than a $5K or $7K voucher. Aditionally, there are all sorts of social barriers to enrollment. Mr. Weaver had no problem previously sending a child to a charter school on the taxpayer dime, but now has all sorts of issues with other parents wanting to have their own children follow siblings to St. Augustine or Sacred Heart - at less cost to the taxpayer!!

As Oboe said above, an At-large City Council seat is beyond Bryan Weaver's capabilities. This nascent campaign is mystifying to those who watched the Ward One City Council race. In the Ward One race, he doubled down on using his Hoops Sagrado alumni as campaign surrogates. Once that strategy dismally failed (he came in third), he shifted his image to that of candidate for the gentrifying hipsters. I'm curious as to what percentage of this target electorate is even registered to vote in DC.

Finally, I think the "draft Weaver" effort was contrived and has the faint smell of astro-turf. The goal seems to have been earned media and it worked (even if it couldn't raise any money).

by NIMBY on Feb 1, 2011 4:05 pm • linkreport

I didn't see anything I hated about Weaver's answers, but I also didn't see anything I loved. Right now I'm slightly leaning toward Biddle between the two of them, but Weaver could still win me over (though I still need to hear from Mara, and maybe some of the other candidates). Thursday's forum is looking like it will likely be a big factor in who I vote for.

Perhaps for the next race where we hear from multiple candidates, we have some more standard questions that all the candidates answer so it's easier to compare them. We could even send them ahead of time and they can email their responses (so it doesn't cut into the hour long chat).

by Steven Yates on Feb 1, 2011 4:29 pm • linkreport

The Draft Weaver effort was absolutely about building momentum and getting media coverage. That's the goal of any draft campaign—to demonstrate that the potential candidate would be viable in the election. I'd reject the notion that it was astroturfing; the movement sprung up out of conversations with community activists across the city. If you look at who has been supporting Bryan, you'll see a diverse group of people, far beyond any simple label such as hipster or gentrifier. Many of Bryan's ideas are in line with younger, progressive voters, but his message also resonates with many others.

All I can speak to is why I support Bryan, and why I have gotten involved with this campaign. I watched the Ward One race as a resident, and also covered it for DCist and WeLoveDC.com. I met Bryan through that campaign, and eventually came to see that his voice was something that could serve our entire city well. Further, I'd reject the notion that any of the major candidates in this race are unqualified to serve as an at-large member of the Council. They each bring a set of skills to the table, which may be more or less in line with what certain voters feel are most important. Mr. Biddle and Mr. Mara both have experience with education, and Bryan Weaver has experience as a community activist with first-hand knowledge of the youth justice system. Each has their own strong points.

I'm very happy that GGW has been hosting these forums, because ultimately one of the big reasons I wanted Bryan to run was to have these kinds of conversations and debates. I hope many of you can make it to the candidate forum on Thursday.

We look forward to having the opportunity to continue this discussion of the issues.

by Dave Stroup on Feb 1, 2011 5:05 pm • linkreport

@NIMBY I think you inadvertently provided the explanation for the "logically and morally inconsistent" position held by Bryan (and many others) in support of charters but not vouchers.

Catholic schools should not get tax money. Plain and simple. They have a right to exist, but not a right to public subsidies. They can take down the crosses, stop discriminating against gays and non-Catholics, strip religion from their curriculum, and convert to charters to start accepting public money (as 8 DC Catholic schools have done already), but they can't have it both ways.

The voucher-subsidized private and parochial schools don't have to give or report scores on the DC-CAS and they have zero academic accountability. They should therefore get zero public dollars.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 1, 2011 6:06 pm • linkreport

Ward 1 Guy,

If what you stated is indeed Bryan's rationale for supporting DC's tsunami of Charter Schools and opposing vouchers, why doesn't he just come out and say it? Many voucher opponents seem to tip-toe around the margins of these issues using code words, but hesitate to bring up the religious aspect. Could it be that such statements are spectacularly divisive among the larger population?

The issue of vouchers for religious schools aside, you are ignored my initial point and why I took issue with Mr. Weaver's comment. He said the following: "Vouchers are a gimmick. It's $7500 to low-income families and there are almost no good private schools that have that low of a tuitition..." Following this comment, an anti-voucher strawman was constructed by positing that places like St. Albans and Sidwell Friends were the only types of schools suitable to attend using a voucher and unless we can fund a seat at such places for everyone who is "at risk", the concept is worthless.

In response, I tried to point out that this statement is demonstrably false and that one need not leave Ward 1 to see how erroneous it is. In fact, thousands of students are being educated every day across the District at private institutions whose tuition would be more than covered by a $7,500 voucher. It's worth noting that both of the Ward One schools I mentioned have large populations of non-Catholic children enrolled. You can reread my post if you like. If an education comparable to St. Albans and Sidwell is the non-negotiable, baseline criteria for even launching school reform programs, why are we shoveling a small fortune of tax dollars every year to a patchwork of Charter Schools of wildly varying quality, access and purposes? In its totality, the charter network in DC is not the solution to our problems. Are there pockets of excellence? Yes. Are there swaths of mediocrity? Yes.

To me, opposition to the DC Opportunity Scholarship program logically calls for opposition to the excessive move towards charter schools in DC. Most schools that qualify for vouchers have been part of their community for nearly a century. They are your neighbors, their doors are open and their generations of graduates are their credentials. You say they have "zero academic accountability." Instead, you have no problem with spending $5-7K a year more per pupil on a new charter school concept with no track record of success. From my vantage, the barely checked growth of new charter schools is a far greater threat to the vitality of DCPS than a couple of hundred kids getting vouchers to go to places like Archbishop Carroll.

by NIMBY on Feb 1, 2011 7:47 pm • linkreport

I don't really expect "inspiring" from an internet chat session! You're trying to type out answers as fast as you can, in order to take the next question -- without the benefit of tone of voice, an actual smile, etc.

But given the setting, I came away pretty impressed. Reasonably *specific* answers, knowledgeable about a wide range of issues (though he missed the height = Capitol dome thing, like so many people do). Seemed like a good balance in wanting a positive role for city government, but without overreaching or thinking the Council can magically solve every problem.

I voted for Bryan in the Ward 1 primary, leaning toward the same in this election too.

by Shalom on Feb 1, 2011 7:52 pm • linkreport

Ward 1 Guy, I'm confused about why you say Catholic schools shouldn't get public subsidies. People can use federal loans to attend Catholic universities. Do you think there's a difference between being able to do that and getting a voucher that can be used for a Catholic school in the district? Or are you also opposed to people being able to use federal loans to go to a Catholic university.

by Evans on Feb 1, 2011 8:14 pm • linkreport

I should not have implied that I know Bryan's rationale, but I'll defend mine. I oppose unchecked expansion of charters. Charter schools that don't perform well academically should face consequences. Since we can't say the same for schools that take voucher money, they shouldn't take voucher money.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 1, 2011 8:46 pm • linkreport

To my knowledge, schools like Sidwell and St. Albans accept the vouchers. If said vouchers, along with other grant and aid programs provide an opportunity for a District student otherwise not available, then why is this a bad thing?

by William on Feb 1, 2011 10:23 pm • linkreport

An independent study found students participating in the DC Opportunity Scholarship program did not perform significantly better than those who were unable to participate. I don't see why we (DC or Feds) should divert funds into a questionnably effective program, benefiting a few private schools and effecting a fraction of DC students.
I'm more interested in hearing about the candidates' ideas about teacher incentives, as well as other candidates' views on IMPACT (can it be reformed to reflect student populations of teachers who are not just in grades 3-thru-8, the teachers whose students backgrounds are not currently being taken into account along with test scores)?

by DCster on Feb 2, 2011 9:16 am • linkreport

DCster,

There are quite a few "questionably effective" charter schools. I hope you have the same concerns for them.

If you are concerned about the diversion of public funds, it may be helpful to note that the per-pupil cost to taxpayers for a DC Opportunity Scholarship - even at the maximum $7,500 amount - is significantly lower than that for the charter schools. The diversion of significant public funds to insular and self-selecting charter schools is an issue that has received far too little attention. The charter movement seems to be the "hot, new thing" among the educational elite and any criticism of it is viewed as unacceptable in polite company. Look at the demagoguery in "Waiting for Superman" for its capture of the public debate.

Your comments about DCPS and teacher evaluations are spot on and I agree with them.

I view the vouchers as a much lesser "threat" to quality, universal public education. Why? The vouchers are going to schools that are established, community anchors that have largely co-existed with DCPS for decades in the best and worst of times. The opportunity scholarships are not creating a new educational infrastructure that directly threatens the primacy of DCPS, public schools and a unionized teaching workforce.

The explosion of charter schools has created a massive new infrastructure in direct competition with DCPS. Like any organization/bureaucracy, continued growth and preservation become paramount and this is on full display in the charter movement. The worst thing is that public funds are being used to fund the growing charter propaganda machine.

by NIMBY on Feb 2, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

@ NIMBY If private schools want government money, then they should be subject to the same oversight as public and charter schools.

by jcm on Feb 2, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

I got a great chuckle from his line about following the Lobster Truck roll around to get his 3,000 sigs.

But his economic development answers left me agreeing with Fritz's categorization of the comments as "bleeding heart tropes".

The idea that any unemployed resident off the street is qualified to work construction is absurd.

by Paul on Feb 2, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

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