MoCouncil Town Meeting
Kevin Gillogly reports on the MoCouncil Town Meeting over at Maryland Politics Watch (you can also read his report on the Van Hollen Town Meeting):
Wednesday, February 28 at Francis Scott Key MS in the White Oak/Hillandale section of Silver Spring, the Montgomery County Council had its first Town Meeting since the November elections brought four new members to the nine person Council.
Chaired by Council President, Marilyn Praisner (District 4 -- East County) and hosted by the local Council member, Valerie Ervin (District 5 -- Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Wheaton), there were a total seven of the nine members in attendance: Praisner, Ervin, Phil Andrews (District 4 -- Rockville / Gaithersburg), Duchy Trachtenberg (At Large), George Leventhal (At Large), Nancy Floreen (At Large) and Marc Elrich (At Large).
It was an hour long question and answer with local residents. It was taped by County Cable Channel 6 and it will be edited next week and shown for a month afterwords. To see the complete schedule go here.
The crowd of 90-100 was pumped full of sugar -- if one came to the reception a half hour before the meeting. I made full use of the cookies and soda.
Moderator Susan Kennedy asked prior to the taping how folks heard of the meeting: it was a split between local listservs and the postcard to local residents. The crowd was significantly older than the Van Hollen Town Meeting on Monday and clearly more interested in local issues.
The anti-ICC folks were present and handing out a flyer. No other issue groups were there.
After introductions by President Praisner and an acknowledgment of former State Senator Ida Ruben and her husband Judge Ruben, the bulk of the questions were on transportation, public safety and yes the ICC.
Key points that came out of the meeting:
County Executive Ike Leggett has to submit his budget on March 15 and the County has to be completed by June 1 for the start of the County Fiscal Year (July 1);
Increase in Police Officers
Public Safety question on robberies in the area elicited from Public Safety Chair Phil Andrews that the County funded for 90 new police officers in the past few years at a cost of around $30-35 million and that these officers are to be deployed on robberies and the like. Police Chief Tom Manger is to bring up his Five Year Plan to the Council in the coming months;
Council Saves the Children of Forest Glen
Crossing Georgia Advocate Adam Pagnucco had a humorous introduction to his thanking the Council for working with the state to bring to solve the dangerous crossing at the Forest Glen Metro. The previous Council had ignored his requests. It seemed as though Valerie Ervin helped bring this to the attention of the rest of the Council;
Golden Shoveling It
The lack of snow removal around the Glenmont Metro elicited an apology from Nancy Floreen who agreed that public areas need to shoveled too. She also made her pitch for the Golden Shovel Award and for folks to nominate citizens who has really pitched in (my pun);
The status Birchmere in downtown Silver Spring seems to be "on track" according to Ervin and Praisner. State budget has $2 million for the project; County proposal comes out on March 14 and plans by the developer for the rest of the site are still to be determined;
The Never Ending Discussion
The interesting exchange started with a question on ... you guessed it ... the ICC. Where Praisner mentioned her opposition to the state road but that most of the plans are coming from the state where pro-ICC Gov O'Malley sits. Praisner favors four lanes at some places -- in lieu of the norm of six lanes. Floreen favors the road.
Marc Elrich is his only time speaking mentioned that only 4% of the traffic would go the full length of the road and they would only save 4 minutes (this according to the County and the State's own study). Marc mentioned the greatest use would be in the area between Shady Grove and Georgia Avenue and is this the best use of the money? Floreen believes if we don't use the money another part of the state will get the money instead of us.
Council Punts on Sending Their Transportation Priorities to the State
In light of the limited funds all elected officials mention, Marc pointed out that he asked his colleagues to sign a letter outlining the County's Transportation Policies with the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) at the top of the list and the ICC not on it. Needing five signatories, Marc got four: his, Duchy's, Andrews and Praisner. So it died.
Leventhal and Elrich Exchange on Growth Policy
George Leventhal questioned Marc on what about the out of county residents. Marc fired back that the previous Council approved 110,000 in jobs and only 29,000 housing units and if you use the 1.5 workers per unit that there is a serious housing shortage that the previous Council did not address. This would have continued but Praisner interrupted them and got the questions back to the audience.
Go to the County Web site for upcoming events, Executive Leggett will be at Ritchie ES in Rockville on March 23 (was originally in Feb but canceled due to snow) and at Holiday Park in Wheaton on March 29.