A policy wonk is an expert in current or proposed government policies and their effects. I had to look up that term during the 2005 elections in Cincinnati because I was going to use it in a story and I had to make sure I used it correctly.
While getting excited about public policy is not likely to get anyone elected to council, writing and implementing effective policy is the only thing thats going to make a difference for Cincinnati. Mayor Mark Mallory is right about one thing, the problems of this city wont be solved quickly. Nor will they be solved by policies that dont address the problems politicians claim they will.
The research that went into the latest marijuana ordinance consisted of a list of laws from Kentucky and Indiana. Im no policy wonk, but I am a research geek (the weird breed of person who enjoys doing research) and I can tell you that aint research. Thats a rationalization for a policy that hasnt been proven to work.
If Councilman Cecil Thomas had bothered to put effort into his proposal beyond asking the cops to prepare a list, he would have found a myriad of data that proves tougher penalties do nothing to distribution, sale or use of pot or any other illegal substance. Heres an easy one by some academic research geeks: Marijuana Law Enforcement in the United States .
Pick any other topic of public policy managed competition, labor unions, trash collection, traffic light bulb selection, citizen oversight of police, county/city economic development collaboration its been studied and put into practice all over the world. Businesses call them best practices, and common sense suggests its not wasting time or money reinventing the wheel.
I think policy makers should be required to document their policies prove that somewhere at some point in time this thing they want to make law actually had some positive impact.
When I write a story, I have to be able to substantiate every fact and attribute every comment. If I dont have proof or independent verification, it doesnt go into print. That seems to be a reasonable standard for politicians to meet, especially given that most arent policy wonks and our future success or failure is largely dependent on their policies.