Monday, July 16, 2012

DC Disaster (Monday LINKS)

Washington, D.C. has itself a bit of a governance problem, and not the type you'll see on a license plate any time soon.  Over the past three months, one council-member resigned after being charged with bank fraud, another was sentenced to 38 months in prison for theft of government money and tax fraud, and their Mayor is accused of running a "shadow campaign", the result of which has led to three of his campaign advisers pleading guilty to corruption related charges, and is expected to bring on the resignation of Vincent Gray.


NPR Host Kojo Nnamdi wonders if this corruption is brought on my the ceiling on D.C. politicos:

We don’t have statehood or voting rights in Congress, which means there is limited political space in the District. School board member, council member, mayor, non-voting delegate to Congress, and soon, attorney general. That’s it. Those are all the available opportunities for elected office in the District of Columbia.


The result is that a relatively small percentage of the city’s remarkable talent pool is interested in running for office, which sometimes makes room for less-qualified opportunists who view public office as a lifestyle upgrade and taxpayers and campaign contributors as neighborhood ATMs.

Strong words from a respected journalist.  Another Post commentator, Dana Milbank, wonders if this is the result of a protected primary system that does not allow independents to have a voice:

We in the District have, in short, seen the future. We have already arrived at where the rest of the country is headed. The voters have checked out. The primaries have been hijacked by a small, unrepresentative group that chooses bad candidates. And these candidates, confident that nobody is paying attention, brazenly ignore the already-flimsy campaign-finance laws. 

Either way, it must be gut-wrenchingly frustrating for such an educated and skilled populace to be run by crooks.  What is truly odd is that D.C. is undoubtedly in the flowering stage of a renaissance that began five or six years ago.  It has positioned itself as a very desirable place for young people to live and is propping the lowest murder rate since 1963

To sum it up: Everything is going well but the folks in charge.

D.C. makes a very good example of a self-sustaining, engaged citizenry paired with a business culture that allows for big progress and development outside the realm of government.  It is almost like one large NGO, limited only by the occasional palm greasing required by corrupt politicians.

As is my tendency, I drew this example back to Columbia.  Being without a municipal government dedicated to the brain shaped province betwixt Routes 29, 32, and 108, we can use D.C. as an example. 

Just not the folks in charge.


I was very sad to hear about the shooting at Shipley's Grant over the weekend.  Thankfully, the Sun decided against giving "Shooting In Howard County...where all the kids are above average!" front page billing this time.

Groundwater aquifers provide water for approximately 1 million Marylanders, mostly to the south and east of Route 95.  According to this piece, we are drawing it out faster than it is being replaced and Frederick Delegate Galen Glagett predicts that one day "we're going to wake up thirsty".  In the course of being forced to drill even deeper to find water, geologists have found a groundwater deposit that may be up to 2 million years old.  Said otherwise, we are past the capacity of what had served coastal peoples since this area was first settled hundreds of thousands of years ago.  If that doesn't get your attention, I'm not sure what will.

Developers of the Ritz-Carlton and Silo Point condos will no longer be able to enjoy favorable tax treatment for their vacant buildings along the Baltimore waterfront and will face an added $2.3 million on their tax bill this year.  It is worth remembering these kind of stories when we talk about land developers and their "greed".  These folks take big risks, hoping to have a successful community with economic benefits for the surrounding properties.  When they lose, it falls on them to foot the bill.

The Sun had an interesting news analysis piece over the weekend featuring Baltimore City's role as lead plaintiff against a legion of banks related to LIBOR fixing.  Even outside of the practical considerations of a windfall verdict, I'm sure the banking defense bar appreciates the business.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: AnneRie Unplugged does a financial assessment of her CSA and comes out ahead.  Jane and I have tried a new CSA this year and are, yet again, enjoying everything that comes along with Community Supported Agriculture.  It is a total yuppie indulgence, but one that I never want to do without.

So, in case you haven't noticed, we are a mere $990 away from doubling our goal of $2,500 with about 15 days to go.  Psychologically, I think we need to get to that $5,000 mark, don't you?  If you haven't donated yet, please consider dropping $5 or $10 into the "tip jar".  There is no "minimum donation" here.  The most important thing is showing your support for Living in Recovery and providing an opportunity for those who are looking to pick themselves up and start a new life.

And if we make $5,000, we will be having a party.  This time I mean it.

Have a great Monday doing what you love!