Dear Readers and WRITERS!
Your comments, which so many of you (and we) thought were lost in cyberspace, have been found and posted! The technical bugs have been exterminated! Many thanks to Liesl, the Takoma Voice Web Editor, and the host server technicians!
The comments are now not only posted on the appropriate blog entry, most of them are featured below. Enjoy, and post more comments!
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RUBEN vs. RASKIN
Jamie Raskin has run one of the most negative campaigns in Maryland history. He has called Senator Ruben a “conservative right winger” a “supporter of Bush’s war” and a “corrupt back room politician”. At the candidates forum, his supporters called Senator Ruben an “old hag”. The Raskin campaign has twice stolen hundreds of lawn signs from Senator Ruben’s neighborhood. When are people going to wake up to what this campaign is all about?
This IS depressing, Dear Readers! Usually yard sign hooliganism happens in the campaign’s last week – most often in the last few days. This must be an indication of the high emotions the Raskin – Rueben race is generating. Gilbert hates this “Feud-al Phase” and is disgusted that it has started so early. Forget about issues, from now on it will be all about allegations of dirty tactics, outrageous acts, and fighting words that serve only to crank up the ire of already-committed voters. Bleh!
On the death penalty: Don’t forget that Jamie Raskin was a key campaign operative for Doug Gansler’s two successful runs for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s seat.
Can’t be much more pro-death penalty than Gansler. Couldn’t do more than to assure death penalty is effectuated in MoCo than work hard for a pro-death penalty prosecutor. Ah well, Dear Gilbert, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, ne c’est pas?
PS when I asked who he is supporting for Attorney General, Mr. Raskin declined to answer other than to say he was working for himself to become State Senator. Anybody think he’s helping his old pal Gansler?
POLITICS ON PARADE
I’m not voting for the incumbents–haven’t done that in years.
I’m voting for people who’ve been working here, which rules out Klein; sure, he’s been in politics and he’s got a well-financed campaign, but what’s he done here? No grassroots organizing, no local involvement to speak of in smaller matters. All of a sudden some legislative aide with a lot of money jumps in the race?
I’m pulling for Hucker, Mizeur, and a candidate to be named later.
– local watcher man
Local, are you being ironic? Heather Mizeur is a legislative aide for Senator John Kerry, and has a whole lot of money and clout behind her campaign. There are a number of legislative aides, not to mention lobbyists, running for office – so many that your Gilbert mused in an earlier post about it, wondering if this were due to our proximity to the nation’s capitol.
I am deeply concerned and offended by Gilbert’s analysis of Valerie Ervin and the District 5 County Council race. Gilbert’s portrayal of Ms. Ervin’s commitment to the Purple Line was entirely inaccurate. Ms. Ervin has been a member of the Coalition to Build the Inner Purple Line since its beginning over three years ago. She has also studied the issue as a staffer for the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee.
Gilbert also questioned Ms. Ervin’s loyalty to the citizens of her district, citing her work as a Council staff person. It is entirely unfounded and extremely condescending to imply that Ms. Ervin won’t be able to think for herself and for her community if elected. She’s already proven her ability to represent the public interest as a Board Member and would only be aided by her familiarity with the Council and its procedures if elected.
Valerie Ervin has two decades of local community experience. She knows our district, its issues and its people. Her wide range of endorsements, which include the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Neighbors for a Better Montgomery, and the Sierra Club, are a testament to her ability to represent our diverse community and all of its interests. She knows the issues and has not only the vision, but the political will to actualize change. She is the best choice for District 5.
Avi, I wish it were not the case, but Astroturf Val herself undermined your assertion that she knows our district, its issues and its people. As Your Gilbert reported she appeared at a Takoma Voice candidates forum unprepared to discuss, and apparently ignorant of the TASDI report on double-taxation, probably the single most-discussed issue here in Takoma Park for the last two years. This does not inspire confidence that she knows the part of her district known as Takoma Park, its issues and its people.
And this business of claiming to be an environmentalist while advocating artificial turf for school athletic fields is less than convincing.
George Levensprawl’s support for modest, no-brainer investments in renewable energy make him the political equivalent of a broken clock — he happens to be right twice a day, but isn’t particularly useful. All the good he may have done on energy issues is offset many times over by his support for the ICC, and on balance, his environmental record is atrociously consistent with his attempts to undermine public health by cutting child passenger safety services in half and by supporting the rescinded original version of the fire/rescue restructuring bill that would have made it impossible for the county to put effective numbers of emergency responders in the field. Valerie Ervin should be considered an accessory to Leventhal’s anti-people policies until and unless she distances herself from her old boss. It’s a great loss to the county that neither
Joy Austin-Lane nor Marc Elrich stuck around to give District 5 voters a progressive option on the ballot.
Maybe it’s just on my mind because of the clipboard equipped HRC volunteers that were hiking around my neighborhood yesterday, but I find it interesting that Aaron Klein’s campaign materials prominently proclaim his support of equal rights for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender families. I’m hopeful that it’s only missing from Heather Mizeur’s materials (and web site…) because her support is obvious. The more cynical thoughts in my head worry that she could be avoiding mention of the issue out of fear that her sexual orientation could cost her votes.
I don’t really believe this to be the case, but I do appreciate/prefer a candidate who isn’t intimidated by such discussions.
(also, I’m fully aware that this is a national issue that won’t by won or lost by who we elect in District 20)
This doesn’t sound like you Gilbert. Are you two persons in one blogger?
granolapark Industries, Corp.(gIP), employs hundreds of highly skilled and talented writers working in our dozens of divisions and departments. We strive to create a consistent product. Our market research indicates that most consumers detect no inconsistencies in style and content from one post to another and that the percentage of those that do is statistically insignificant. We value your opinions and thank you for your letter.
– Gilbert #645
RENT CONTROL/AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Bloodsucking landlord, here.
Thanks for the interesting post about Takoma Park’s rent stabilization law. I have mixed emotions. I have a very small building that I operate in Takoma Park with a partner, and I believe that there’s value in making sure there is a place to live for people of all income levels in Takoma Park. I live in Takoma Park as well, and I’m feeling like getting to the less yuppified climes of College Park, myself.
One of my tenants is a beneficiary of Montgomery County rental assistance. I favor these sorts of programs over rent control. My other tenants do not appear to be at all low income — they just know a good deal in a nice place when they see it. They would pay 30 – 40% more to be less than a mile away in Silver Spring (did I mention I am a Realtor, too?) Wouldn’t it be nice to focus the funds going to my other tenants on the one tenant family who needs it — at least by the Montgomery Co. standard? And maybe some of my other tenants do need help. Without going back over their credit reports, I couldn’t tell you.
We pay a mortgage that is approximately $500 less than the rents. Each year thanks to the costs of improvements to the building, and the gas bills, we are about $6000 in arrears. Because of the not-great tax code of the United States, all tax payers usually – usually – almost make it up to us in the end.
I don’t suck blood. I feel a little anemic. My solution is to sell the property as a very large single family dwelling. This is not what rent control was meant to do, diminish the affordable rental housing stock. If there were a more targeted way of assisting lower-income people to provide affordable housing, I’d really like to abolish the rent stabilization law. In the absence of good laws like these, I’m theoretically in favor of rent control. I just can’t afford to keep paying for it!
The other thing I got out of this is that my local councilman said some good stuff to Southern Management. Go Terry! Kathy Porter suggested to come up with better ideas. I really don’t like when Takoma has to come up with local laws because the region, Maryland, or the USAC isn’t doing it’s/our duties. I don’t have any numbers behind this idea, but maybe all Takoma Park landlords could pay into a fund, but otherwise charge market rents for their places. Another advantage to rent control is that the folks who qualify for the lower rents in the targeted programs are sometimes stigmatized, and may have trouble getting a place.
I’ll admit I’m just as confused as the next person. For now, I’m sitting in a more comfortable position than many. But don’t forget, I took a lot of risk and carry a lot of responsibility to provide this housing.
”The reason non-profits have to make a bigger profit has to do with the potential profits from the eventual sale of a property being figured into the rent of a for-profit building. Selling the building for profit is something a nonprofit owner can’t do, so they need to have higher rents. That’s what your Gilbert understands, anyway. By the way, low income tenants in these non-profit-owned buildings will not pay the entire rent, they pay a percentage of their incomes and the government picks up the rest”.
Gilbert. I don’t understand your assessment of why non-profits need relief from rent control while for-profit landlords do not. Maybe you could more fully explain your logic. As I understand the economics of rental housing, rents are set by the surrounding rental market, not by the resale value of housing. There are a number of factors, including access to credit, vacancy rates, regulations or incentives, and tax policy, that drive rental prices. Rents can be greater or lesser than the monthly amortized (30-year) value of a given unit (One way to represent the sale value of a unit to the unit cost). Also, residents of nonprofit housing do not always get additional government subsidy.
And by the way, it’s not a secret that I think speed bumps are at the bottom of the traffic calming trick bag. I dislike them because they damage vehicles (Maple Avenue Bumps!); slow emergency response; and are problematic for bikes, assisted mobility vehicles and people with back or other health problems. However, my role is to assist residents as well as set policy.
MY logic? Ack! I thought it was YOUR (the council’s) logic! At the very least it has to be the county’s logic – wasn’t it the county that requested the nonprofit loophole in the rent control law?
One minor correction. The mortgage income tax deduction works slightly differently for landlords. If you live in your own home you can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from your personal income taxes, which is actually a lot of money. But if you rent out the home then your taxes work like any other business. You can deduct your costs against your income. So if you rent out an apartment you can only deduct the mortgage interest, and any other cost, against the rental income. You then have to pay taxes on the rental income to the extent its greater than your costs. So, for most landlords, as opposed to property owners, the tax benefits are pretty slim.
No doubt, it’s a tough issue. But as a homeowner, I would be willing to pay a surcharge or special fee (as we do for storm water) that would go into a fund to help people with their rent and to help them 1) buy a home in TP (good luck w/ the housing prices the way they are) or 2) help tenants take ownership of their buildings.
I’m with Clay — let’s put our money where our mouths are. I assume (no proof here) some landlords are greedy and don’t keep their properties in livable shape, but others — I surmise — are simply businesspeople trying to do the right thing for tenants and make a modest profit. If Takoma Park drags its feet on addressing the landlords’ concerns, tenants will truly be SOL.
May I add an observation about what I see as a bit of a disconnect? Our latest Takoma News talks of New Hampshire Avenue redevelopment in glowing “community” terms. We need redevelopment along this blighted stretch of road, which right now has businesses that do not serve our “affluent” community, the article says.
The city wants to market the Takoma/Long Branch Enterprise Zone to developers. The EZ provides tax breaks for expansion and capital improvements for commercial properties along NH Ave between Eastern and University, on University between NH and Piney Branch, and also on Piney Branch, including Flower Village.
This Enterprise Zone was an important campaign plank for Mayor Porter, but an article in the TP Gazette shortly after the election noted that most business owners who attended an EZ informational meeting were unaware that it even existed, despite its having been designated in 2003.
Here’s where I see a bit of a disconnect. Many in TP are willing to believe the worst about landlords, and want to ensure that rents are affordable, yet the city is saying that we need businesses that will appeal to our “affluent” lifestyles.
Many of the businesses along NH Ave serve the communities across the road in Prince George’s, or the folks in Langley Park. I noticed there’s even a new bank serving Latinos in the strip center just north of Holton. And Aldi? That’s like Trader Joe’s, but cheaper. Many many people who are a lot poorer than homeowners here in TP shop there for their groceries. Are we proposing to get rid of that?
Despite the years of rhetoric about redevelopment along NH, I have yet to hear anyone suggest a realistic proposal for new business. Wal-Mart? (Please, no). Target? There’s one 10 minutes away down 410. Nordstrom’s? Yikes. (They wouldn’t come, anyway)
We do have the new Starbucks (a tiny one) down at the Crossroads. But pity the person who tries to suggest Starbucks move into Old Town Takoma. Oh, the protests that would ensue!
By all means fix the sidewalks, improve the shelters at the bus stops, educate the existing business proprietors about the EZ and the possibility of tax breaks — but please, let’s try to acknowledge the existence of the communities near us that are not as “affluent.”
BTW, I’d love to see some back-and-forth on this subject, w/ specifics.
I find it off-putting that people I’ve talked to tell me that you don’t post their comments when they are pro-Raskin. Hence, I can only conclude that you’ve cherry-picked either seemingly “neutral” or leaning-Ida statements. Shame on you.
Your Gilbert, being a typical warm and fuzzy Takoma Park resident, understands how people got that impression and regrets the misunderstanding. Due to technical problems most comments, including this one, were misdirected and therefore unpublished. With help from Takoma Voice and blog software technicians the problem was diagnosed and your comments were rescued – and are now published. There was no “cherry-picking” or censoring of any kind.
But, David, you posted your comment August 12. Gilbert wonders how you missed the announcements at the top of each blog post since July 28th that there were technical problems with the comments. Could it be that you are not a totally committed reader, that you do not savor Gilbert’s every sentence, word, and punctuation mark?
Where’s the shame NOW, Gilbert asks in a deep, melodramatic voice?