Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2012

Ballot Measures - Lazy Legislation or True Democracy? Part 2: Gambling on Gaming

As I mentioned in the last post, a great deal of media attention in the Washington and Baltimore markets has focused on Maryland's Question 7- a Maryland ballot question that would extend gaming (aka gambling) in the state. Over the past few weeks, I have had dozens of discussions with Marylanders about Question 7 - it is far and away the most asked-about local issue for me.Is it harmless, a great opportunity, or a scam?  Let's discuss these questions and then ask ourselves what this campaign tells us about the validity of ballot measures as a way to decide on this kind of issue.

 Question 7:

"Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate “table games” as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum num…

Ballot Measures - Lazy Legislation or True Democracy? Part I: Maryland Gerrymanders and other issues

Northern Virginia is part of a battleground state in 2012, so it may not be a surprise that television viewers and visitors to local media websites in the Washington, DC region have seen advertisement after advertisement about the Presidential election. The surprise is that equal attention seems to exist for Maryland ballot questions.

All of the local attention on ballot questions and the misinformation and lack of information on the questions inspired me to write about whether ballot measures are generally a good idea and whether these Maryland ballot questions initiatives work.  To get to that (and respond to requests for explanations of the measures) I'll do this in two parts.  First, I'll explain the questions and put them in context, and then I'll talk about the concept more generally.  In this post, I'll cover Maryland Ballot Questions 1-6. In the next post, I will discuss Question 7 and the lessons learned.

What's (still) Wrong with Debates - Reaction to the Third Presidential Debate

There was a huge response to my last post on the presidential debates, so I thought that the topic might it might be worth revisiting after last night's debate. (Note: No actual dead horses were beaten in the development of this essay.  If you haven't read "What's Wrong With Presidential Debates"yet, please do so before reading any further.)   The full debate video is below if you haven't seen it.

I thought that we saw a pretty entertaining foreign policy debate last night - one that was worth missing most of a lopsided baseball playoff and Monday Night Football game (though if the St. Louis Cardinals were going to play a terrible Game 7, it would have been nice if they did it against the Nationals in the first round). In the debate, there was much more agreement on foreign policy than other matters, although the candidates tried to pivot back to domestic policies (and their differences) every chance that they had.  The seated setup probably helped with the r…

What's Wrong With the Presidential Debates? (Updated 10/22)

Every four years, I look forward to two things: the Summer Olympics and the U.S. Presidential campaign. They both have more in common than one would think at a glance: in both cases, most people only pay attention to the prime-time events but there's a wide range of preliminaries that die-hards pay attention to. Since I ran track and was a political science major, I'm one of the small subset of die-hards for both. One thing that the IOC does on a regular basis is add and remove Olympic events and it might be time to do the same with our presidential debate system. (And no, I'm not thinking of adding rhythmic gymnastics - we already have enough rhetorical gymnastics as it is.)

The presidential debates are entertaining, but after you get past the body language, zingers, attacks and rebuttals, it can be hard to find answers to the real policy questions.  This past Tuesday was the last debate with domestic policy as part of the focus, and over the three presidential and vi…

Welcome to is now!

It's simpler to find and easier to tweet (just think of all of the time that you can save by using nine fewer characters for each visit!)

Please change your bookmarks to, and I'll do my best to keep it interesting.  You may have noticed a few new features on the blog in recent days:
Top Posts of the weekTop Posts of all timeOther blogs that I readA new mobile version of the site Of course, you can still search for previous posts using the search box or keyword list.  I'm continually trying to make this site useful, so click here to email your recommendations.

Don't forget that you can catch up with me at and for more regular (and shorter) updates.  Also, don't forget about DrUrbanPolicy on Google+. Like, follow and +1 today!

One more note - at the bottom of the page, you can subscribe to the blog or sign up for email updates.

As always, thank…

Homes with Zero Parking and Reflections on the AARP-MIT AgeLab Roundtable

I spent Friday at the AARP-MIT Roundtable in Cambridge, MA - "Disruptive Demographics: Inventing the Future of Place & Space."  MIT's Joe Coughlin led a great conversation between several companies working in the 50+ space.  The day-long session even included an exercise break from the people at Silver Sneakers, not to mention a great view from the top of the Hyatt.

One major highlight for me was the video of MIT's AGNES suit in action, filmed by one of the retail chains that use the suit to ensure that shelf height, aisle width, and other features work for people of all ages.  I was promised a test run at a future point - I love any opportunity to better understand the challenges that some people are facing.

One concept that kept coming up throughout the day was that we need to begin preparing now, but consumer demand that focuses on current conditions (not long-term benefits), a development / housing industry that is used to the old ways of building homes and com…