The “B” Word

The council has been dealing with the city budget – a fate worse than algebra class – and it even held a few meetings on Thursday nights as well as the regular Monday night session. These are the times that make service on the city council look like more of a jail sentence than an honor.

When new city police chief Ronal Ricucci presented the police department budget on Thursday, May 17th, there was so much mutual buttering-up between the council and the chief Your Gilbert felt like a piece of toast. It did the council no good, however, as he left, Chief Ricucci locked them into the room so they had to keep slogging away on the budget.

Councilmember Clay and others continue to request more information about individual budget items, and Mayor Porter says the issue is on the agenda for discussion. Councilmember Williams said at the June 4th meeting that he supports this up to a point – he remembers getting detailed budgets in past years that were overwhelming.

The city avoids paying employee benefits to several employees by hiring them part-time instead of full-time. This bugs Councilmember Seamens no end, and he in turn bugs the Mayor about it. At the June 4th meeting he insisted making it a part of the budget discussions, succeeding [CORRECTION – the motion was made, but it did not succeed, see comment below from Councilmember Williams] in tabling the first reading of the budget until the costs of converting part-time employees to full-time were included. With a tight deadline looming City Manager Barbara Mathews, looking like she hasn’t slept in weeks, noted through clenched teeth that this would not only entail a lot of staff time revising the budget numbers, the additional money required would slice into the 2¢ tax cut she’s so carefully crafted. Your Gilbert supposes she was calculating whether her own benefits were worth the aggravation.

Councilmember Reuben Snipper, signaling on May 17th that he may follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, rent-control watchdog Mark Elrich, announced that he will hold the line on landlord exemptions. Currently landlords of in-residence accessory apartments and buildings with one rental unit are exempt from rent control. There has been talk, Snipper said, of exempting landlords who own up to three units. This, he said, would make a profound change, would be unfair to tenants and to landlords who own more than three units, so he opposes it.

Your Gilbert notes with dismay that Mr. Snipper has so far maintained a calm and polite manner in city council meetings. This indicates that we will not likely be able to use the phrase “Snipper snapped” in these postings. We are despondent about this and it leads us to wonder if city councilmembers can be recalled.

– 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.

1 Comment on "The “B” Word"

  1. Bruce Williams | June 8, 2007 at 10:41 am |

    Gilbert–two points I’d like to clarify. First, there was a motion to table the first reading of the budget, but it failed 5-2. We passed the budget at first reading.
    Second–the current rent control law exempts people who own one unit in the City, no matter the location. If someone owns two units, each in a different location, those units are not exempt. The proposal on the table is to exempt buildings rather than owners, and to raise the limit to four. There was general support for this, but Councilmember Snipper asked to reopen that discussion so that we could consider a lower number.
    Bruce Williams

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