3.16.2010

Greetings from Texas, and the non-election election

I'm writing this from the lovely city of Dallas, Texas. I'll use the word 'interesting' for now. I'm not talking interesting in "I can't think of anything else to say," but actually of interest. This is a city with a downtown completely built around cars, with huge parking lots and parking structures the size of skyscrapers. However, there is also a very rapidly growing light rail system. I don't have a car for my trip, so it's been interesting trying to navigate using the light rail and buses. Times like this make me join the chorus of be thankful for Metro. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the DART light rail, it goes a few places and seems moderately useful--but it's more expensive than Metro. Metro has it's problems, many of which are serious, but keep in mind that DC is one of just a few cities in the United States where it's actually practical to live without a car.

MOVING ALONG

Hey, let's talk about Election 2010. Last year, it was sounding like Decision DC 2K10 would be something interesting. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham's office was mired in an alleged bribery scandal, Mayor Fenty's administration was the source of all sorts of graft and corruption, and even Council Chair Vincent Gray had his share of scandals. Remember all of that? Ted Loza, anyone? Remember how he was accused of nearly forcing a mistress to have an abortion, and how Jim Graham's credit card paid for an abortion? Remember well... pretty much everything Fenty did? Parks and recreations contracts? The school firings? More contracts?

Well, it's now halfway through March in an election year and there's essentially nothing going on. Vincent Gray is humming and hawing about running for mayor. Rumors continue to persist, and some media reported yesterday he would announce a run this week. Color me completely underwhelmed. Gray isn't exactly fired-up to run, and has said he's got concerns about "what happens if I lose." That's called politics, Mr. Gray. Honestly if you're too afraid of losing the election to become the Mayor, I can't imagine you'd have the wherewithal to actually govern as mayor. Meanwhile, Fenty has enough campaign money to put a significant dent in the city's epic budget gap. Let's be real here: it's very unlikely there will be a real race for mayor this time around, and Fenty will sail to re-election. He'll be super-lame duck, knowing he's got all sorts of career prospects in development and construction after his term ends. I'll be honest, I like some of the things his administration has done, but we still have a mayor who governs with little sense of responsibility or transparency.

What about in Ward 1? This could prove interesting, I just got an email blast from Jeff Smith. He's rocking the Fenty colors a bit, and has a working web site. He's in favor of what anyone pondering a bid for CM would be... safer, cleaner streets... less vacant properties, "better parking enforcement," all of that. Also in the running is Bryan Weaver, who also sports the Fenty colors. In fact, Fenty, Weaver and Smith's logos look a heck of a lot the same. Though, to be fair, Smith's green selection is a bit lighter in shade.

There's probably room for one strong challenger against Graham, but who knows if there's room for two. Ted Loza's trial isn't going to happen until well after the primary. It's unclear what/if anything new will come out from the Loza trial, but any news from that won't break until just before or after the general election. I don't see how two challengers can possibly unseat Graham in the primary, and there's be little time to run any sort of independent campaign with the news of the Loza trial. For now I'm likely counting this race out, too. I'd love to be wrong about this, though.

So yeah, Election 2010 is shaping up to a whole lot of boring. If Gray steps in, then we might see some sort of interesting jockeying for Council chair, which might free up the Ward 2 CM spot, if Evans ran for chair. That would be some sort of news.

The interesting campaigns might turn out to be that of Clark Ray for at-large, and some of the other Council spots. But, interestingly enough, the seats all mired by scandal appear to be the safest seats this time around.

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