GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
This is not a grassroots movement, this is special-interest legislation.
Takoma Park-based Fairvote nonprofit is using the city government to promote its own agenda.
As we reported Mar. 11, according to councilmember Seth Grimes, Fairvote’s director helped Grimes and councilmember Tim Male craft the proposed city charter changes that would lower the voting age, allow felons to vote, and keep voter-registration open through election days.
“The proposal that was initially part of the conversation,” said Fairvote director Rob Richie, addressing the council at the April 8 public hearing ” . . . is that we do not have the right to vote in the Constitution – an affirmative, clear right. We are needing one.”
A current Fairvote project is the “Promote Our Vote” campaign for a Constitutional right to vote. Takoma Park’s voting reform proposals play a major role on the Promote Our Vote campaign website.
“The conversation that started with that led, I think, to these specific changes,” said Richie.
Is it such a big deal that in this of all cities the government is working with a liberal non-profit to craft legislation that happens to further the non-profit’s agenda?
Maybe not, but liberals cluck their tongues when state and national legislatures allow special interest groups to craft legislation that helps their agendas. So, it you are opposed to that, but favor it in your city, does that make you hypocritical, or merely “complex?”
To underscore the lack of grassroots, the majority of those who spoke at the public hearing were NOT RESIDENTS. In fact three were from Germantown, MD.
Most were youth-rights advocates of some sort. Several of them were professionals, working for various interest groups. They were all frighteningly smart, and suspiciously well steeped in facts and figures. Every one of ’em headed for careers in Washington governmental offices, non-profits, and think-tanks.
So, this is not looking like a grassroots movement. This is looking like a take-over by the Future Wonks of America.
Oh, you just wait, Takoma Park. You think those 16-17 year olds are cute now, but how will cute will they be when the city Wonk Police show up at your door? If you don’t have your pie charts and your policy points ready, it’s the slammer for you, pal!
By the way, Voice reporter Morgan Fecto interviewed local 16-17 year olds, asking them if they wanted the vote. Not all of them do, or think it is a good idea. Clearly the few, well-prepared, articulate, and involved city teens who attended the council meeting do not represent all their peers.
Problem or excuse?
But, hey, remember the problem? The problem this voting reform is supposed to solve?
The problem, as the reformers state it, is that renters don’t vote in the same numbers home-owners do.
That’s looking less like the problem and more like the excuse. Lowering the voting age is NOT the solution to getting renters to vote.
Nobody knows what the solution is, because, as we keep pointing out, nobody has researched it. Renters haven’t suggested these reforms, the council is just guessing why renters don’t show up at the polls.
Your Gilbert’s guess is that renters don’t vote because they know that city government is the expensive toy of middle class home-owners and there’s nothing in it for them. What benefit does tinkering with the city charter or the tree ordinance have for most renters?
Telling renters that they are benighted and unfulfilled because they don’t want to play at city government is, frankly, patronizing. Until the city council can make a case to these folks that city government is not a waste of valuable time, they only make themselves look like well-meaning, but clueless liberals.
Kay Daniels-Cohen IN PERSON!
Takoma Park councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen has been “attending” via phone since her early Feb. hip-replacement, but she made what must have been a big effort to show up in person for the April 8 council meeting and public hearing.
This time, however, councilmember Tim Male attended via phone. Maybe it’s his turn for a hip replacement. He seems awfully young for that, but he IS a parent and we all know that parents lose their hip pretty fast, especially in the eyes of their children. So, if he shows up next week wearing a hipster hat and talking about cool bands nobody every heard of, we’ll know what happened.
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