By Kevin Morris (@ktnmorris)
It’s October now, and something evil is afoot.
In June, residents of Washington, DC, voted to end the loophole that allowed employers to pay tipped workers (like waiters and bartenders) less than other employees. In an industry rife with abuse, this was considered a big win. And it was passed by a reasonably large margin - 53 percent of voters approved the initiative.
Today, however, the DC City Council voted to overturn the initiative passed by voters. Even in a town used to having their voices go unheard in federal elections, this is a slap in the face of the District’s voters. Eight of the city’s councilpeople (including three of the council’s five at-large members) voted to overturn the will of the people. Mayor Muriel Bowser will now have to decide whether to uphold or overturn the council’s decision.
But it gets even weirder. It turns out that the council members who voted to overturn the initiative represent parts of the city where voters were more supportive of the initiative. In fact, of the 27 precincts where more than 60 percent of voters approved of the initiative, just two were in wards where there council member didn’t look to overturn it:
Citywide, this was also true. In wards where council members voted to listen to the will of the voters, 51 percent of voters approved. Where council members chose to abrogate their responsibility to their constituents, 54 percent of voters marked their ballots in favor of the initiative. This isn’t just an issue of overwhelming support in one ward, either - the initiative passed in four of the five wards where the council member voted to overturn it:
This is doubly problematic - not only is the city council overturning the decision of DC’s voters, but individual council members are directly contradicting the will of their own voters.