IMAGE: Disinterested member of the public (right) pointedly ignores proposed bulletin board design (left) in this drawing from the proposal.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
That’s the Takoma Park city council you see skipping down the park path, led by the hairy gentleman with all the sharp teeth. Tra-la-la.
The “sponsored” bulletin boards proposal passed June 8 by a quick, unanimous council vote. The public didn’t notice or didn’t care if a business puts up ads in public parks – ads attached to public bulletin boards. Nobody cares that the company, Landis Construction, gets perpetual advertising for the mere one-time cost of a few pieces of wood and hardware, plus the installation. They don’t even pay for maintenance, the city does that.
Bulletin board note to city: this is not how advertising works. The way it should work is that the city puts up a bulletin board with a blank space, rents the blank space by the month or year to Landis or whoever else wants to PAY for it, and makes a PROFIT.
In the proposal drawing the bulletin board looks creepily like a guillotine.
Vote or else!
How to get more people to vote in city elections?
Randomly drafting an opponent to run in uncontested council races?
Turn it into a festival?
Free ice cream for those who vote?
Those were all serious, or semi-serious suggestions made by the council and Board of Election members. Except the last one – that’s from Your Gilbert. If they go for that one – your’e welcome.
Mayilynn Abbott BOE Chair reported that the board is gearing up for the coming (fall, 2015!) city election. They are doing voter outreach – by bus. A voter registration bus will be featured at city events such as the annual Folk Festival next September. Apparently they are just going to drive it around and do curb-side registration.
Schultz is in favor. Voting at the Takoma Park city council June 8 meeting.
They are thinking of holding five days of early voting, maybe in different ward locations instead of the usual community center polling place.
For future elections, the board is looking into moving nominating caucus and/or election day dates so there’s a longer period of electioneering, an idea that had Your Gilbert squirming in his seat with horror.
They’re thinking of ways to speed up the hand count, “so we’re not here for six hours counting ballots,” said Abbott.
These are good, said the council, but we want more! MORE!
And what about apartment renters? That was a big issue for the council. Are they turning out in bigger numbers? Did any of the reforms we made work?
Ballot counting at the city community center, Ward 3 special election, 2014.
Those reforms were requiring apartment building owners to allow access to politicians, and keeping voter registration open until election day.
The BOE has no info on it, said Abbott. Councilmenber Seth Grimes said he’d compile the data himself to see if there’s been an increase in apartment dwellers.
What ways are there to “stir people?” asked Councilmember Fred Schultz.
The question got a storm of answers that rivaled the torrent pounding the community center room that evening.
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“Is there something we can do to enhance election day,” as they do in other countries, asked Shultz.
“We can’t declare a Takoma Park holiday,” said Abbott, and whether or not a race is contested is out of the board’s control.
That sparked Tim Male’s idea of randomly picking someone from the uncontested ward to run against the incumbent.
“We’re open to ideas!” said Abbot.
Hot Diggity, Dear Reader, we’ve got ideas! Free drinks, as we said before, or how about – if no person runs against an incumbent, we can nominate animals? A post-election pie-fight!
Here’s an idea – if a race is uncontested, the ballot should have the alternate choice of “Spank the Incumbent.” If Spank the Incumbent wins, . . . .
How about you? I’ll bet our Dear Readers have plenty of good suggestions. Or put them in the comments below.
PTSD symptoms flared up among many in the city council chamber, triggered by old Sidewalk War battle cries.
Mayor Bruce Williams said the “clarification” to sidewalk policy has been mis-characterized by critics. The naysayers, rebel veterans all from the previous conflict, didn’t believe him, nor did they believe the other council members and staff tried to assured them the changes were not what they thought – a change of policy that makes it easier for the city to install sidewalks in neighborhoods that don’t want them.
The skeptics are convinced the council is trying to put one over on them, so when Councilmember Seth Grimes tried to assure them there is “sufficient protection” in the changes, the half-dozen or so who turned out to object grumbled.
When the changes/clarification passed unanimously, there was a single, weak “boo.”
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