In a ‘World-Class City’, Buying the Mayor Should Cost More (and I’m Considering Doing So)

The title is largely for the Boston readers (though I’ve seen the phrase ‘world class city’ used elsewhere), since a subset of Boston politicians are incredibly concerned about Boston being a ‘world class city’*; in my experience, use of the phrase means they’re about to propose something really stupid.

Anyway, we’ve previously discussed how $12,000 of political donations can buy an appointment by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to the Metro Board of Advisors (so Spiro Agnew). Well, prices are dropping and everything must go! (boldface mine):

The Board of Zoning Adjustment is a small but powerful quasi-judicial body buried deep in the District’s bureaucracy. Simply stated, its five-member board can grant zoning variances. If a builder, developer, or land owner wants to change zoning restrictions, the BZA can make it happen.

For builders and developers, a BZA decision can reap millions of dollars in profits. Its members, three of whom are appointed by the mayor, should be well-versed in the intricacies of zoning regulations or the business side of development. It’s best that they not be currently involved in property development.

So why did Mayor Muriel Bowser nominate Fred Hill for one of the coveted BZA seats?

Hill is president of the Hill Group, a consulting firm located in Bethesda. His executive profile touts his experience working with federal agencies on conferences and publications. He doesn’t seem to have much experience in zoning or development.

But Hill does own at least one DC company that is dabbling in real estate development. Alba 12th Street, LLC, owns property that its trying to redevelop property near downtown. Coincidentally, Alba recently got a variance from the BZA.

Hill also contributed generously to Bowser’s recent mayoral campaign. Between himself, his family and his companies, Hill gave Bowser’s campaign $10,000, according to DC campaign finance records. He and his wife, Christine, gave the maximum $2,000. Each of his three companies — Hill, Alba and Tyto — contributed $2,000.

I guess I could get Mad about this. But the more I think about it, I wonder if I should get in on the action? Seriously, between family, friends, and my own assets, I could easily pull together $10,000 (admittedly, I would rather the money be spent on me)**. I realize I’m very fortunate to be in this position, but I’m not really kidding here (maybe a little). When one realizes how much one month of rent costs in D.C., a $2,000 contribution isn’t that much. Why shouldn’t I attempt to buy my way on to some advisory or regulatory board? I would love to muck around with education or transportation. I couldn’t be any worse than the august solons who currently inhabit these demesnes.

So what should I shoot for? Education? Transportation? I’m willing to settle for parks…

And because we’re discussing D.C., let’s end this go-go style:

*Boston is a great city. I never understood the inferiority complex.

**Does Kickstarter allow people to raise money to buy politicians? (“Kickstart4KorruptionDC”) Asking for a friend, of course.

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3 Responses to In a ‘World-Class City’, Buying the Mayor Should Cost More (and I’m Considering Doing So)

  1. jrkrideau says:

    If it’s a fallling market I’d suggest bidding lower.

    It never ceases to amaze me how cheap a lot of politicians are. It’s almost like going to the Dollar Store.

  2. The Arborist says:

    What would be the rewards? Getting out of traffic tickets? “adjusting” the school lottery? This corruption thing is an industry ripe for internet disruption. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

  3. anthrosciguy says:

    You’d never get away with writing a movie where your politician character gets bought off for the low bucks we see them do in real life. Everyone would say it was unbelievable.

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