Notions about the importance of placemaking to the quality of community life are not new. The virtues of special spaces/gathering places were championed by no lesser luminaries than Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch, and William Whyte as far back as the early 1960s. Continue reading
A federal district court judge ruled on December 4th that the public defense systems provided by the cities of Burlington and Mount Vernon violated the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantee of effective assistance of legal counsel to indigent persons charged with crimes. See Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon, Memorandum of Decision (12/04/2013).
You would not see this type of headline in Washington State, but in a small city in Maryland, it actually could happen. Takoma Park, MD, located just outside the other Washington, became the first city in the nation to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections. The city council’s aim was to boost voter turnout; the jury is still out on whether this will help, but – what an intriguing idea!
We cannot test this theory in Washington State, though, since it would be contrary to the constitution and general laws of the state (specifically, article 6, section 1 of the state constitution and Title 29A RCW, both of which require that a voter be 18 years old). Contrast this with Maryland’s state law, which specifically allows local governments to develop a “supplemental list” designating categories of individuals who can vote in their local election (even though they are not eligible to vote in state elections).
But – for those ambitious youth out there – don’t despair! There are still opportunities for direct youth involvement in local government. Some Washington cities have youth advisory members on their city council, parks boards, and other commissions. Or, if that sounds too time-consuming, what about attending a city council meeting to see your elected officials in action? Or, maybe get a group of your friends together to participate in a city-sponsored volunteer event (like adopt-a-trail, or a park clean-up work party)? For more information and ideas, check out MRSC’s web page on Youth Participation in Local Government.
Now that the fall local government elections are over and results have been certified, the final step that local government elected officials must complete before assuming office is to take the oath of office.
“A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.” - George S. Patton
Clearly the General was talking about a battle plan, but I’ve heard this point paraphrased in regard to just about any activity. A lot of authors on a wide variety of topics agree with General Patton. Continue reading
Is it really necessary for our city or county to adopt a budget by December 31? I mean, how bad could it be if we don’t? Continue reading
On November 5th, the state attorney general’s office posted a notice of a request for an opinion from Sharon Foster, chair of the state Liquor Control Board, regarding the authority of local governments – cities and counties – to directly or indirectly prohibit recreational marijuana uses in their jurisdictions. The purpose of the notice is to seek public input on the requested opinion. Continue reading