Sore Subjects

Dear Readers,

Forget about rent control. The heck with the gym, Phooey on the fire truck. Don’t even mention the upcoming elections. Let’s talk about something Takoma Parkians REALLY care about – speed bumps!

You know it’s an issue that winds EVERYBODY up when, at the first reading of an ordinance proposing speed bumps on Allegheny Avenue and Sligo Mill Road, none other than Pat Loveless, the fellow who weekly delivers an anti-death penalty screed during citizen comment, and who seems to regard Takoma Park as a progressive shining-city-on-the-hill, beseeched, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “pass an ordinance to protect our vertebrae, for God’s sake!” citing the pain his bad back feels when passing over Takoma Park’s many speed bumps, “Ca-chuck, ca-chunk!”

The mayor said she could see this was a “sore subject.” for Mr. Loveless, adding, more seriously, that while the city’s vintage speed bumps are more painfully abrupt, the current ones have less hurtful effects on both persons and vehicles.

Councilmember Colleen Clay informed the council that recently a person with a back problem brought a suit over speed bumps. The suit was lost, but, warned Clay, the judge stated that the plaintiff did not adequately demonstrate how speed bumps hurt her disability – leaving the door open to a plaintiff who does.

So, Dear Reader, watch for hordes of cars sporting handicap-stickers driving our streets, drivers screaming in pain, lawyers in the passenger-seat taking notes and pictures.

There’s tons to talk about, but Gilbert has taxes to do, so let’s just lets’ talk about the elections, and we’ll get to rent control and other things in future postings.

It might be easier to list all the politicians and city residents who are NOT running for higher office. Try to follow this, Readers, and feel free to correct me if I get it wrong. Last I heard or read State Delegate and Takoma Park resident Peter Franchot is looking to unseat state comptroller, William Donald Schaefer. Montgomery County Council member Tom Perez, also a Takoma Park resident, is thinking of running for state attorney general – IF the current AG steps down.

Franchot is one of the three delegates for state district 20, the southeastern wedge of Montgomery County from Takoma Park up to Colesville/White Oak. The remaining two delegates, both up for reelection, are Sheila Hixson and Gareth Murray. Neither is known for their liberal progressive views, and though Murray may not have been involved, he certainly benefited from a dirty campaign trick perpetrated against Green Party candidate Linda Shade, a Takoma Park resident. Franchot’s campaign treasurer was involved, however.

Running to take Franchot’s spot is Heather Mizeur who served briefly on the Takoma Park City Council for Ward 2. Heather works for Senator John Kerry.

Also running is Aaron Klein who served on the U.S. Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee under Senator Paul Sarbanes.

Another candidate, Lucinda Lessley is an aide to U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings.

A Silver Spring resident, Tom Hucker, executive director of Progressive Maryland, says he may run as well. It could be that he is hesitating to get in the race because he is apparently the only candidate with no history as a congressional aide or committe-member. More likely, he is waiting for the state assembly to end, because he can’t be a Progressive Maryland lobbiest and a declared candidate at the same time.

By looking at the web sites that are up so far, you can tell who has the funding. That would be Ms Mizeur. Now, am I the only one who thinks she is being a tad (ok, a LOT) too slick? Am I the only one who suspects that she has been grooming herself for this, and her less-than-a-term on the city council was but one stepping stone? What outstanding things has she done for the city or her constituents that indicate a rapid move up the political ladder is in order for her? If you know, please tell me. I have an open mind on this. But, at the moment, she looks a lot like Peter Franchot, who though a Takoma Parkian, did not come out of the Takoma Park progressive-activist tradition, and was at best a moderate whose biggest accomplishment locally was to bring home the pork (for example – funding for the community center).

State District 20 also has a Senatorial contest. Challenging incumbent Ida Rubin in the Democratic Primary is Takoma Park’s Jamie Raskin I suspect you knew this, Dear Reader, if you’ve been outside your house in the last two weeks. You’ve seen the Raskin yard signs in every other yard. Your cynical Gilbert is not getting as excited as some residents are. Gilbert remembers about the same number of Linda Shade signs and the same giddy assumption that with such heavy support, the local favorite HAD to win. Take a look at the map and note how small a portion of District 20 Takoma Park occupies.

Mayor Porter has taken a look at the map, Dear Reader. When the aforementioned Pat Loveless was glowingly endorsing Mr. Raskin to the council during his weekly 5 minute ramble a couple of weeks ago, he asked Her Honor if she supported him as well. She stonily replied that she supports the incumbent.

More bad news for local politicians. Looks like Marc Elrich and Joy Austin-Lane might end up opposing each other in the county council race. Unlike Ms. Mizeur, both of them have served more than one council term (Joy has served since 2001, Marc since around 1849), and both have an strong reputation for constituent service and progressive activism. Originally, Joy declared her candidacy for Franchot’s state delegate seat, but she dropped out and switched to the District 5 council contest. She probably did this the moment she saw the size of Mizeur’s bankroll and list of supporters, headed by Senator Kerry.

However, depending on whether current county District 5 representative Tom Perez runs for Attorney General (depending on whether Joe Curran leaves that position), she may end up running against follow councilmember Marc Elrich, who is waiting Perez’s decision to declare which seat he (Elrich) is running for. Whichever way it falls, it is potentially a disaster for both Elrich and Austin-Lane, and for those of us who want a progressive local politician on the county council – someone who will fight the developers interests which are so thoroughly represented there now.

Curiously, however, Joy Austin-Lane’s name appears on a list of Doug Duncan’s endorsers, (along with city Councilmember Bruce Williams). The tall, well-fed Mr. Duncan, currently the county council president, is running for Governor in the Democratic primary with the bizarre slogan “Think Bigger, Maryland!! An ardent Inter-County Connector (ICC) advocate he is thought to be firmly in the pocket of developers’ interests, so Joy’s endorsement seems out of character. Perhaps she is playing the game, trading endorsements. Not pretty. Perhaps necessary.

This is not Marc Elrich’s first run for county council, but his previous runs were for the at-large seat, a very long shot. If Perez moves on, this will be a rare opportunity for Elrich to run in his own district – much easier financially and logistically than running at- large. Of course with Joy in the race, the logistics are not so good, the Takoma Park vote will likely be split. If Perez does not resign, Elrich indicates he will run for at-large, another long shot.

How will this play out in city council meetings as the campaign heats up? There will be subtexts aplenty, dear reader. Fear not! Your Gilbert will be watching to detect them for you – even if he has to make them up!

– Gilbert.

About the Author

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.

2 Comments on "Sore Subjects"

  1. Any word from Austin-Lane on the Duncan endorsement?

  2. This is perfect that we can receive the home loans and it opens up new chances.

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