You can get it done fast, or you can get it done right.
That was the message from D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Executive Director Rokey W. Suleman II at a postmortem on the September 14 primary. Some polling places opened late, and results took until nearly 2 o’clock the next morning to be released, but Suleman repeated his past assertion that the board did a fine job considering the many changes to the District elections process this year.
And, as the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reports, Suleman “went farther than in previous statements and said that the D.C. Council loaded too many changes on the board at once.” Suleman said, “We do wish that some reforms had been delayed. While reform is a necessary and important thing, it does not follow that every reform should be implemented at once.”
Since I’m a political junkie, Election Night is like Super Bowl Sunday for me. I get a pizza and sit back to watch the big game. But Suleman is right that reforms take time -- and maybe Election Night shouldn’t be such a rush, either.
While reporters who had been sitting up all night after a long day of covering voting threw a fit over the delayed returns, for the normal people of the city -- those who went to bed around 10 p.m. and got up Wednesday morning to go to work -- there was no problem. When they got up, they found out who had won, just as they would have if the count had been completed three hours faster.
The elections board would have reason to be wary after reporting an incorrect vote count from just one of the city’s 142 precincts two years ago, an error corrected within minutes that still led for calls for a formal inquiry. And maybe the board understands that its job is to get the numbers right, not to get them out fast.
I would hate to give up my electoral Super Bowl, but maybe it’s time to slow down. Why must we know who won at 8:03 p.m., or midnight, or on Election Night at all? Sure, it’s fun for us junkies, but the emphasis on speed does a disservice to voters.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* If you still don’t believe the Adrian Fenty era is at an end -- I’m talking to you, John Hlinko -- here’s proof: The Peaceoholics have left the building. Or rather, the building has left the Peaceoholics. Washington City Paper’s Lydia DePillis has the news that the controversial Peaceoholics building on Congress Street SE, for which the Fenty-friendly anti-gang group “had gotten city money to rehabilitate into an independent living facility for young at-risk men, will instead be used to house homeless families.” A second Peaceoholics building nearby “will meet the same fate.”
The city desperately needs more shelters, and it’s finally starting to get cold. But this morning, the Post reports that “about 10 percent of families receiving emergency shelter in the District live elsewhere.” Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who heads the human services committee, is calling for “residency restrictions and relief from surrounding communities that appear to be sending their homeless to the District or are offering lesser services.”
Advocates for the homeless point out that the use of D.C. shelters by non-residents is less about cheating District taxpayers than it is about the frequency with which individuals move between D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and the desperation of those seeking a place to stay. D.C. Coalition for the Homeless Director Michael Ferrell told the Post that the two states face similar issues.
* The Peaceoholics may be out, but Josh Lopez is still in. Fenty’s Ward 4 campaign coordinator -- who guided Fenty to a 19-point defeat in the ward he used to represent -- has been hired as a program analyst in the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Development. City Paper’s Alan Suderman said it was “pretty good timing” for Lopez to snag the $72,000 per year gig, “considering the District just imposed a hiring freeze this week and budget officials announced a big deficit for next year on the very day Lopez started work.”
Or he was still in, anyway. Lopez, who got some attention when he disrupted a Vincent Gray rally with a megaphone a couple of weeks before the primary, quit the job after just four days -- to go work as a volunteer on the “Write Fenty In” campaign. Lopez said, “I looked at the number and thought there was a realistic chance of us winning.”
Lopez may not be an analyst anymore, but if he believes that, he could use one.
* The Washington Examiner’s Freeman Klopott reports that the D.C. Council “is considering legislation that could potentially provide Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s top staff members lucrative retirement packages if she loses her job and they’re either fired or demoted by her successor.” The legislation would give “those staff appointees 80 percent of their average annual pay, or 80 percent of their basic salary upon retirement, whichever is higher.”
* The Post’s Tim Craig writes that Gray “has scheduled three neighborhood town hall forums at public schools, even though officials have been stressing all year that political events should not take place on school grounds.” As no one has been pointing out more than Gray, he hasn’t actually been elected mayor yet, and his first town hall event had the aura of a campaign stop, with many attendees wearing Gray for Mayor stickers. D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles -- always a stickler for following the letter of the law -- “said ‘its common sense’ that Gray should not be using schools for political events.”
Independent mayoral candidate Carlos Allen, wearing his red Nats cap, showed up for the event. Afterward, he told City Paper’s Suderman, “It’s almost like he’s saying that ‘anything that Fenty put out I had nothing to do with it.’ He’s like Yogi Bear: ‘I don’t know.’” (As Suderman point out, while Yogi Bear had several catchphrases, “I don’t know” is not among them.)
* DCentric’s Anna John considers the recent Washingtonian profile of gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, for whom a block in Dupont Circle is now named. Kameny is surprisingly forgiving of Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry’s recent opposition to D.C. gay marriage. Kameny said, “I think he was just trying to be a smart politician in terms of what he perceived as the sentiments of his ward, correctly or incorrectly. Otherwise, he’s been a good political friend.”
* The Falls Church News-Press reports that Patrick Murray, the Republican candidate in Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District, criticized fellow Republican Keith Fimian, running in the 11th District, for skipping an Urban League candidate forum. “It's important to be willing to be there,” Murray said at the event.
The Examiner looks at the race between Fimian and Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly. It’s already pretty nasty. The two faced off two years ago, but this time, Fimian is “a full-throated Tea Party radical,” Connolly says. “He’s actually moved further to the right.” Fimian, in reply, sums up Connolly’s two years on Capitol Hill: “What he’s done is nothing less than horrible.”
* ARLnow reports Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said Wednesday night that County Manager Michael Brown “was asked to step down by the county board after it was decided he wasn’t a good fit for the county.” Fisette, addressing the Arlington County Democratic Committee, “acknowledged that Brown’s sudden resignation and his $110,000 severance payout left more questions than answers last week.” Fisette “didn’t get into much detail” about why the board “dumped the executive it hired after a seven-month, nationwide search just four and a half months into his tenure.”
* We Love D.C. reports that Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is calling “for a moratorium on foreclosures due to malfeasance at national banks concerning the documentation surrounding many mortgages.”
* Maryland Politics Watch reports Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett called Bob Ehrlich’s proposed cut to state aid for the county’s schools a “short-sighted and damaging view of education funding which will be felt by parents, students, and teachers.”
* The Post says Gov. Bob McDonnell’s liquor store privatization plan, as it is currently structured, “is a rip-off.”
* The D.C. Democratic Party contacted me yesterday with a kind note about how they liked my piece on the Republican candidates in Wards 1 and 5 (thanks!), but adding that since I pointed out the primary showings of the Democratic incumbents in those wards, it was worth noting that the two Republicans each received only about 76 percent of the vote in their own races despite running unopposed. It was a fair point.
* A new blog focuses on cycling in D.C.
* What’s worse than harassing someone on Facebook after a highly publicized incident? Harassing the wrong guy.
* From Unsuck D.C. Metro: "They told me I should have chased the bus down and confronted the driver to find out why he cut me off and hit me!"
* Wanna buy a signed picture of the Salahis? Neither does anybody else.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC