President Obama Might Fix Politics

I was already pretty impressed with 2nd-term Barack Obama, a President of remarkable courage. Now I’m pretty much ready to walk through fire for him.

The root of nearly everything that doesn’t work in modern American politics on every level is gerrymandering. It’s, by far, the biggest problem with our democracy. When legislators are allowed to draw district boundaries with no regard to geographical compactness, the result is that fringe groups, both left and right, take control of the primaries and, with the general elections non-competitive, the general election also.

Our Congressional 2-year terms were designed to allow citizen legislators to go to Washington for a relatively short period of time and maintain businesses back home. To get anything accomplished, House members would have to be bold. Gerrymandering has perverted that system. With the fringe of her party controlling the district, it’s easier for Congressional leadership to move votes in her district than it is for the representative herself. Arriving in Washington, our new rep is now presented with lists of things she will and won’t vote for on threat of getting bounced from her seat for even the slightest deviation from the party line. The only way forward for her is complete fealty to leadership with the promise that, if she’s a good girl for a long time, she might one day be in leadership herself. The same process is mirrored in the Texas Lege.

President Obama means to change this. It’s wickedly difficult to talk legislators into relinquishing their power. So a perfect fight for an ex-President. God bless him.


Denton is Poorly Managed

I have been privileged to get to know most of the Denton City Council, and that is a good group of people. Unfortunately, it appears to me that their attempts at good governance are being completely frustrated by a Manager’s office that is out of control. Paying severances to at-will employees terminated for cause is an awful and possibly corrupt employment practice. Mayor Watts’ statement about not interfering in personnel matters is inapposite. This is an ethics problem. Of course, Denton has neither an ethics ordinance nor an internal auditor.

Denton is a fantastic town, not least because of the positive influence of UNT. But it’s no longer a small town. It’s time for its governance to grow up.


Plano Highrise Living

Is Legacy enough of an urban environment to support highrise condo? I bet it is. If people are turning away from sprawl in Collin County, will it persist anywhere?


Even the scaled down Cottonbelt proposal that DART staff will present to the board tonight still endangers DART’s bond rating continues to miss the point about what the priority of a project like the Cottonbelt should be. If it should be built, which is not a settled question at all, it should be when the ridership demand is much higher and when the community opposition is much lower. If the feds, the transit-loving feds, won’t finance even part of your project, it’s because they think it’s a dog. We need to take the hint on Cottonbelt, finish a subterranean D2 on an expedited basis, and then watch how much faster we qualify for money for projects like the Cottonbelt once system performance improves.


DMN refresh

As far as I understand, the paper’s new site design is intended to capture readers from Twitter feeds rather than present a readable layout to those visiting the landing pages on a browser. Why on earth can’t it do both? The website now lacks any obvious organizational principle, and even when you navigate to a section (navigation inexplicably hidden under “Topics;” what’s so horrible about vertical, left-hand menus?), items within the section seem to be randomly placed.

At this point in internet history, there are a whole hell of a lot of us who are quite used to reading news off a feed.  The best practice is a chronological feed with date and time of posting and transparency for edits subsequent to the initial post. DMN’s Twitter feed might have been a substitute for this except that you can’t cull out the topics you don’t want to see.

Tell me what news site wouldn’t be instantly improved by simply copying Fark?


“Powered by?” Have we gone back in time to 2003?

New website

Swing by and check out the new site! Shake the couch cushions, and throw a couple bucks my way if you would.