GRANOLAPARK: WTF?

Takoma Park Recreation Center polling station, 11:30 a.m.

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

So, apparently Trump won the election, or did you know that already?

It is a result that will, as councilmember Fred Schultz said at the Nov. 9 city council meeting, “disappoint most everybody in Takoma Park,”

We’re all in a state of amazement, shock and disappointment,” he said, but “will survive this.”

Councilmember Terry Seamens said constituents he’s talked to are pleased the process is over, but are fearful of the future following the ugly campaign rhetoric.

He worried that Takoma Park’s sanctuary city status might soon bring the city into conflict with the new administration.

Cutting federal aid from sanctuary cities is number three on Mr Trump’s first-day-in-office list. Seamens said it would behoove the city to discuss options and make contingency plans.

City Manager Suzanne Ludlow later told us that the city doesn’t get much federal aid, and she doesn’t know “sanctuary city” is defined in Mr. Trumps’ Dictionary for Dummies. She said she’d check with the city attorneys.

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Illustration © William L. Brown.

Councilmember Rizzy Qureshi thanked Mayor Stewart for the statement she released earlier Wednesday – and which she read aloud at the council meeting. Qureshi noted that many Takoma Park residents campaigned in swing states. Most were unhappy with the results, he said “but everyone should be proud of their efforts.”

The city can take solace, he noted, in Takoma Park resident Jaime Raskin’s election to US House of Representatives, and county resident Chris Van Hollen’s election to the US Senate.

As a muslim with immigrant parents, he takes personally Trumps’ campaign “against the ideals the city stands for.” The threat he represents, he said, should embolden the city government to insure that now-vulnerable community members are protected.

Both the mayor and councilmember Schultz reported problems at the Takoma Park Rec Center polling place. There were long lines, as reported in the Voice Tuesday, and problems with parking and traffic flow. This is due to the consolidation of two voting precincts, said the mayor. She said that though similar problems were reported following last spring’s primary election, there have been no changes.

In this hard-core progressive city, there is one burning question on everyone’s mind now that the bully darling of the alt-right will be moving into the White House, vowing to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC.

Will this lower our property values?

Left is out, right is in. Government will be trimmed like an invasive ivy species. Trumpistas won’t want to live anywhere near tree-hugging, diverse Takoma Park. Government employees and liberal activists will be getting laid off or locked up. Immigrants who once enjoyed sanctuary and the right to vote in city elections will be rounded up.

So, is this the right time to be building a new library?

YES! As Trump shuts down government departments and progressive non-profits, there will be a lot of unemployed city residents. Not-so-coincidentally there will be a need for new internment facilities. The new library would be perfect. It’s next to the immigrant community and has an open design for keeping an eye on the inmates. There will be employment opportunities as guards and interrogators which can be filled by unemployed Takoma Park residents – those who are not facility guests.

So, there will be a glut of houses on the market at first, lowering or stagnating prices. But – good news – home values will gradually increase in step with the clampdown, which will provide jobs and stability.

Bad to worse

There IS something worse than watching Tuesday’s election returns roll in – Wednesday’s presentation of the actuarial valuation for the Takoma Park Police Department pension plan.

The presentation concerned many pages of dense text and rows of leeeeetle tiny numbers.

The important part seemed to be that if the city didn’t want to go broke paying out police pensions, it better hope retired officers die soon afterwards. Otherwise a “pension hole” develops – the city paying out in pensions more than is coming in to cover it.

The three-item work session also “featured” a presentation of the FY 2016 comprehensive annual financial report.

The short story is that every year an independent firm audits the city and gives a ruthless assessment. In this case, ruthlessness was not necessary. The report said the city finances are cool, way cool, good job, have a cookie.

The third work session item was a discussion of bonding options. That’s bonding “not bondage.” the city manager clarified. The few remaining audience members left quickly.

Bonds are loans, much like a mortgage. They are used to raise large amounts for large projects: public streets and buildings, the ambitious library renovation on the city’s wish-list, for example.

The alternative is to save money, which takes a long time – while construction prices rise. Interest rates are low, so it’s a good deal.

The city is required to keep its debt under 1% of the assessed value of every piece of property in town. 1% amounts to $20 million, the city manager said, and the city debt is well below that.

Resident Arthur Olsen quipped via Twitter “I wish the pension hole counted toward that.”

– Gilbert

 

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About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

5 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: WTF?"

  1. The sanctuary city thing was a failure. It’s one thing to welcome and protect actual refugees, which is admirable. It’s another thing to condone illegal activity. Unlike most sanctimonious Tacky Park politicos, I lived for years in the slums of the Central American sending countries. People come illegally for economic advantage, which is understandable, but the results have been any number of significant problems. East County schools like Springbrook were once esteemed academically. Now, they’re virtually nonfunctioning.

  2. So tells us, Brian, exactly why our sanctuary city “was a failure?.” Were we overwhelmed with those” illegals”? Has the performance of public schools in TP gone down? What are the ” any number of of significant problems ” in our city that you mention? In other words, don’t just Trump us with your argument. Prove it!

  3. Fred Schultz | November 12, 2016 at 3:32 pm |

    Several additional aspects of municipal bond financing need to be noted here. Bond financing allows the city to spread out paying for a library, roads, Community Center improvement, etc. over a period from 10 to 20 years. This makes sense for capital projects that will last for 20 to 40 years. It means that future taxpayers will share in paying for the library, not just today’s taxpayers. Second, the City has a very low debt burden relative to its borrowing limits. Third, interest rates are historically low so debt is cheap.

  4. As a Trump campaign worker I can assure you Takoma Park is on Trump’s radar. Federal funds will be conditional that sanctuary City are de-funded, in short neither will state funds provided by the fed be provided to Takoma Park. With this will force the city to at last re-evaluate its long standing rent-control policy. Rental property value and its tax income has been reduced as much as 40%.

  5. “John Doe,” who claims to be a Trump campaign worker in the comment above, says in another comment on a different article that he is a Takoma Park landlord with an ax to grind against the city’s rent control.

    Editor

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