Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Warning, Warning!

Dear Readers,

Get to the nearest bunker! The angry mobs are coming! You have until next Monday’s (Nov. 20) Takoma Park city council meeting to stock up on bread, milk, and toilet paper.

At that meeting the council will hear the proposed revisions for the rent stabilization ordinance, otherwise known as RENT CONTROL (boo, cheer, or groan according to your predilections, Dear Readers). Everyone is on tenterhooks, including the staff. Nobody knows what revisions the consultant is going to show up with. All we know is that this hired “expert,” having gazed deeply into the soul of Takoma Park, will come forth with a revised ordinance that will make landlords, tenants, councilmembers, staff-persons, homeowners, and lawyers all happy.

Let us know when you are done laughing, Dear Reader.

Your Gilbert predicts that, surprise, surprise, hardly anyone will be happy. The council previewed their anxiety at the November 13th city council meeting during the Council Comment segment. Councilmembers Terry Seamens and Colleen Clay were worried that the concerns of both landlords and tenants would not be addressed adequately. Councilmember Clay, who has been most outspoken against rent control, again said she felt the issue had not been fully debated, and said she feared there would be only minor adjustments made to the ordinance.

Mayor Kathy Porter tried to reassure everyone that the hired expert would try to address all concerns and that there was still plenty of opportunity for input and changes.

Very likely next week will see an overflow crowd of landlords and their lawyers, tenants and their advocates, all telling their tales of woe, heaping abuse and threats on the council. Cockroaches (a constituency that has so far not appeared or been advocated for at the city council meetings) will be mentioned once more. Tears will be shed. English will be fractured. Councilmember Clay will suggest that the hired expert did not sufficiently question the faulty presumptions underlying rent control. Councilmember Bruce Williams will allow that she has a point. Councilmembers Joy Austin Lane and Seamens will strain to address the diametrically opposed concerns of both sides.

Councilmember Marc Elrich will make his Next To Last Stand for Rent Control (see below). Council member Dave Barry will say something brief but intelligent, and Mayor Porter will explain over and over and over again that there is no need to go ballistic because this is just part of the ordinance revision process and eventually everyone’s concerns would be addressed in the final version. Of course it will!

Your Gilbert and the dedicated staff of granolapark will observe the proceedings for you, Dear Readers. Remain safe in your bunkers and let us professionals handle this unpleasantness. We will be watching on television, not only because it affords the opportunity to munch popcorn and guzzle beer but it keeps us far from those pointy pitchforks and smokey torches the mob will be brandishing.


Governor, er . . . Elrich?

A citizen commentator at this week’s council meeting stumbled over Councilmember Marc Elrich’s last name, confusing it, as many have, with the last name of Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., who just lost his reelection bid. Elrich grinned, saying “I get my name back as a result of this election!”

That’s not all he gets as a result of this election!

CITY Councilmember Marc Elrich is now COUNTY Councilmember-Elect Marc Elrich. Elrich has submitted his resignation from the city council effective Dec. 3, 2006, giving himself a few hours holiday from politics. He takes his new office Dec. 4.

City staffer Jessie Carpenter informed the council and public of what you, Dear Readers, have known since it was reported here Sept. 15 (see “Emptying the Seat”). According to the city charter the city council must call a special election to fill Elrich’s Ward 5 seat. The special election must occur no sooner than 45 days but no later than 60 days after Elrich’s resignation day. Staff recommended, and the council agreed, that the special election day be Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007.

There will be no nominating caucus as there is in the general election. Candidates must file at least 20 days before the special election day, submitting petitions with a minimum of ten signatures. The signatures must be those of registered voters residing in Ward 5. The city will provide blank petitions.

The polling place will be Columbia Union College, located in Ward 5. Polls will be open 7 AM to 8 PM.

Your Gilbert wonders WHO will step forward, and welcomes your speculations, inside information, and wild guesses, Dear Readers. Will Elrich handpick a successor, someone who can take his place as Chief Defender of Rent Control? Are the city landlords grooming an anti-rent control candidate?

Elrich’s departure comes at a crucial moment for city rent control. As noted above, the council is in the process of reviewing and revising the rent stabilization ordinance. The end-point of this process keeps slipping into the future. Mayor Porter said it will likely go into January - at which time there will be no Ward 5 representative on the council.


- Gilbert

1 Comments:

Blogger OnBackground said...

Two locals (both men) are already talking about running (actually there have been a couple of others, but these two seem like they might actually do it). One is a member of the county's regional citizens advisory board, public affairs consultant, and former local official. Another was active in the fight against the expansion of the hospital. No idea yet if either is close to Elrich. Anyone have others?

11/16/2006 10:01:00 AM  

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