Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Rigor ... Just Rigged

Let's cut straight to the chase, folks.

Yesterday's public meeting on the Braddock Road Metro was a total waste of time and taxpayer dollars — as above-board as a Kazakhstani election, but with fewer laughs.

Whether it was the breakout sections — where we were asked such loaded questions as "Do you favor the status quo or do you want change?" — or the hasty identification of priorities (done much more comprehensively in the 2005 charettes), there was little that was new. The only change is that in 2007 the wall of silence about public housing has finally been broken down and scattered sites are now on many people's list.

What was significant was the composition of the groups. And there the Growler detects the back-stage management by City politicians.

The most minute and solemn attention was given to the blatherings of anyone who showed up, regardless of where they lived. In the Growler's group there were Old Towners, Del Ray-ites, and the civic association presidents from Warwick Village and Hume Springs in Arlandria. Yep, all those strangers were rooting for big density in our backyards.

It was similar in other groups, and a telling moment was when an audience member asked residents to stand up. Less than half the participants rose.

Gives new meaning to the term "packed house," doesn't it?

The absurdity climaxed in the final 10 minutes, when Planning & Zoning Director Faroll Hamer and consultant Robert G. Kramer confirmed that the upcoming "interviews" will be unscientific, demographically fuzzy, and utterly lacking in any rigor.

To add insult to injury, we were told that some residents of the Parker-Gray and Braddock neighborhoods would be interviewed, but their opinions will carry no more weight than that of any of the non-residents who will be asked in to chat.

The only mystery to the Growler is how City officials can sincerely believe that the well-educated, articulate, affluent and diverse population of today's Parker-Gray — people who work at the White House, on Capitol Hill, in major corporations, non-profits and law firms — will fall for this hokey attempt to circumvent local self-determination.