Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6 City Council

A Zero Accountability Political Culture

Moral fiber and accountability are missing in DC politics.  As an example of the first, civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to take your property due to probable cause without charging you with a crime, and keeping it even after charges are dismissed. Even the law’s co-creators now call this law “unreformable” and “evil.” The DC government just paid $855,000 to settle a lawsuit for improperly seizing $2.9M from people. We paid for that settlement with our tax dollars, for abuse which the DC Council has allowed against our citizens for years under this law. 

I will work hard within the DC Council to overturn DC’s heinous civil asset forfeiture law.

Unaccountability starts with political campaigns. The DC Government controls a $10 billion budget. So voter education must be extremely robust, with a sharp focus on candidate policies and operational skills, right? Sadly no. Today’s campaign process never discusses failed policies, nor allows voters to hold candidates accountable for promised outcomes. Staged photos, street signs, campaign literature, candidate debates, feel-good policies, and political journalism deliver only sound bites at best to busy voters. Politicians count on leaving voters uninformed. To quote one political consulting firm: “When they (voters) reach the voting booth they look for names they recognize and names they feel good about. The central core of every campaign is delivering on these two areas.”

DC is one of a few major US cities where party labels appear on ballots. As Councilmember I will advocate dropping partisan elections, requiring politicians to run more on their merits.

Politicians and agencies “invest” public money with rosy projections, but no accountability for costs and outcomes. The streetcar will cost billions, starting with development at about $50 million per mile.  That doesn’t include vehicles, operations, maintenance, and cost over-runs. The price tag wasn’t revealed at the DDOT public meeting I attended, until I asked. How can average voters make informed choices if public officials are not forthcoming? Where is the public discussion about DC spending the highest sum of any state – over $29,000 per student - and achieving the lowest 8th grade proficiency? Is this money truly going towards education?

Politicians sponsor legislation with zero accountability to show reason or demonstrate policy results. According to research by the Institute for Justice and AFL-CIO chair of labor policy at the University of Minnesota Prof. Morris Kleiner, occupational licensing laws don’t protect consumers but rather protect license holders from competition. While virtually no state licenses interior decorators, DC requires six years of education and training. Red tape for about forty professions which do not require a college degree bar many citizens from employment. Getting government permits to renovate your home is frustrating enough, but imagine spending months or years, and maybe thousands of dollars you don’t have, to get a government permit to work so you can put a roof over your head and food on the table.

An inscrutable budget sets the stage for waste, fraud, and abuse. Politicians spending enormous sums of public money should not be held to lower standards than companies spending private investors’ money. 

As Councilmember, I will push DC government to provide detailed cost-benefit analysis of policies, including projected and actual outcomes. We must know if a policy fails or harms people so we can fix it.

I have found that the positions I advocate to Ward 6 voters resonate across the political spectrum and demographic groups, but I will need your votes to protect citizens from abusive policies and unaccountable politicians.  One hundred percent of my solutions at reduce spending and restrictions on people to improve schools, create jobs, reduce crime, and alleviate housing and transportation costs. On Nov. 4th, vote for Pranav Badhwar.  Vote for an accountable government that offers real solutions, not mere feel-good sloganeering.

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