Public bodies from the D.C. Council to boards like the Zoning Commission are configured to value most highly input from people who show up in person. But this excludes many people with day jobs or family responsibilities. We need to fundamentally reexamine some basic assumptions about public input.

At last week’s redistricting hearing, D.C. Council member Marion Barry criticized me for bringing the results of the Redistricting Game to the council. Despite having more than 100 Ward 8 residents participate, he felt that it wasn’t representative of the views of Ward 8:

Did you ask the economic status of each person? Did you ask the educational level of each person? This whole thing is flawed. ... I was trained as a research scientist. I know good research techniques and tactics. ... Your study is a good one, but it’s not scientific enough. ... As far as Ward 8 is concerned, the information is flawed. Seriously flawed.

Mike DeBonis explained the primary motivations at work here. In short, Barry probably wants Near Southeast redistricted into Ward 8 to give him a role in the booming development in that area.

But Barry is right about one thing: The Redistricting Game was not scientific. It’s not an opinion poll which tries to accurately estimate the views of all residents. But since when does the council ever use opinion polls to make decisions?

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.