Leaders of the Executive Branch Should Be Able to Govern It: The D.C. Edition

One of the truly frustrating features of local governance in D.C. (not official Wor-Shing-Tun)–and one that I think is too common in too many Democratic-controlled areas–is the inability to have the executive branch do its job. Yes, Democratic legislators do pass good legislation, but Democratic executives (e.g., mayors and governors) just suck at governing. Here’s a small sample from D.C., about the multi-year failure to establish a rent-control database, required by law, which, among other things*, would prevent renters from being gouged by unscrupulous landlords (boldface mine):

The Council mandated the creation of such a “clearinghouse” back in 2015, and it was supposed to be finished a year later, but the effort to develop the database has been plagued with delays ever since then. That’s not exactly unusual for the D.C. government, particularly when a politically charged issue like rent control is involved, but things have gotten a bit absurd even by the District’s standards.

The latest hold-up is a strange one: One D.C. agency won’t give another the data it needs to actually finish building the database….

OTA told the Council that it has been trying to access “certain data fields that are critical to the proper operation of the database” since December 2020, without much luck. The agency wrote that it began negotiating with DCRA over creating a system that would let it access that information last September, but those talks broke down a month later and “DCRA has refused to hold any further meetings between the technical experts to finalize the data sets to be provided.”

We have two agencies that are supposedly under Mayor Bowser’s control, yet they can’t seem to work together. This is one thing that led me to support Council Member Robert White’s bid for mayor–he actually thinks the mayor’s job is to govern effectively (boldface mine):

He said we need to have a high expectation of how the government works, and the government needs to rise to that expectation.

The government has to grow up. It can’t be about who you know anymore, whose campaign you donated to, whose color flag you’re flying. If we want to be a world-class city, we have to take the steps to get there. That means the government has to operate more seamlessly. Whether you’re engaging the government through an app, a website, phone or in-person, it has to work better. We’ve grown accustomed to being happy when it barely works,” he said. “We have to have a higher expectation. We’ve let it languish. Government operations are showing their age. There has to be accountability.”

This isn’t typical ‘good government’ stuff about corruption, it has to do with fixing the broken shit–and D.C. has too much broken shit. Time for an executive branch change.

*How can one assess the effectiveness of rent control when the city doesn’t even know which properties are affected?

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1 Response to Leaders of the Executive Branch Should Be Able to Govern It: The D.C. Edition

  1. Bern says:

    Yeah. I bet each of us can come up with an example or two…

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