The evil deal is nearly a done one. This Thursday, Oct. 25 the Metro board will ok the sale of the green space surrounding the Takoma Metro stop to a developer. They do not plan to discuss the matter.
The only options left to the opposition, which includes the Takoma Park City Council and virtually the entire city population, are: 1) to take one of the ten slots allowed for citizens to address the WMATA (Washington Metro Area Transit Authority) board meeting for 3 minutes, 2) Get the Maryland governor to pressure the Maryland WMATA board members to vote against it.
That’s it, that’s what it has boiled down to, and what heavy irony it made for at Monday nights city council meeting.
This council, this mayor, and especially this mayor-in-waiting have made a great point about the power of the Rolodex being superior to the power of the people. As much as they acknowledge the late mayor Sammie Abbott and his politics of confrontation, they consign his methods to the dustbin, saying that the best way to accomplish anything is through connections with other politicians, staffs, and organizations.
It’s all about calling the right person and working out a win-win deal. This is the entire platform of our uncontested, well-connected candidate for mayor.
But, this time, the calls have been made, the Rolodexes rifled, the back-channels dredged, and all the reasonable win-win arguments politely presented. And it has produced nothing.
The consternation was visible in the room from both staff and politicians.
And it is not as though the council has pointblank opposed development. They have been pushing an alternative plan that does allow for it, though not so much as the developer EYA is planning. Their chief concern is that the EYA plan will foist inadequate, and even unsafe, bus, kiss-and-ride, bike, parking, pedestrian, and disabled-access accommodations on the Metro station. The council’s plan, worked up by transit experts, has superior accommodations, they say, stressing that their concerns are about transit, not development. So reasonable, so win-win!
Ironically, this discussion happened at the same city meeting in which the council had planned to work out the wording of a plaque honoring Sammie Abbott, so, they said, citizens would know why the building was a named in honor of him. Sammie’s wife Ruth Abbott was in the audience, and so were friends who got up and told the councilmembers–to their discomfort–that more aggressive tactics were clearly called for, that if Sammy were around he’d be climbing on top of the Governor’s car to get his attention, and he’d have a crowd of irate, placard-toting citizens backing him up.
Amen, Dear Readers, amen!
Governor O’Malley will be making a public speech Wednesday at the Takoma Park Middle School on Piney Branch Road from 8-9:00. People are encouraged to wear red shirts to show their concern for the issue.
Oh, and bring placards!