Let us all join in the standing ovation for departing Mayor Kathy Porter and Ward 1 Councilmember Joy Austin-Lane! Both have been highly dedicated and effective in their work for the city.
Each of them made touching farewell speeches Nov. 19th, Austin-Lane describing the mostly positive effects her service had on her personal and family life, Mayor Porter advising new council members to listen to the city staff, even when it is to hear bad news.
The clueless Lyndon LaRouche zombies, none of them city residents, who presented a petition of some sort during the citizen comment period were the only off-key note in what was otherwise an harmonious chorus of praise and thank-yous from city residents.
Newly sworn-in mayor Bruce Williams, wearing black tie and dinner jacket instead of his usual flannel shirt, pledged in his inaugural speech that he would strive to start council meetings on time, quorum or not, and keep them moving along. He said he will urge councilmembers and citizens to keep their comments brief. Then, noting the irony, he said “but, I’m going to go on a little longer.”
He listed off some of the upcoming issues and priorities of his administration. He noted that in the past the council relied on former mayor Porter to lobby other governments on the city’s behalf and that they would have to learn to take on that role.
Since the county’s new growth policy encourages development at transportation hubs, it is likely to bring developments to Takoma Park, he noted. The city should be looking for developers who share “our vision” rather that fighting a “rearguard action” against developers who don’t.
This will be crucial in shaping whatever development may occur at the Washington Adventist Hospital site when (if?) it moves. Williams also mentioned the Takoma Junction and the New Hampshire Ave. “corridor.”
Of COURSE, he brought up the tax rebates the county owes us. What will Takoma Park politicians talk about if we ever do get those rebates?
Licking his chops at the prospect (or perhaps it was for the cake reception following the council session), Williams spoke of possible renovations to the city council chambers. One proposal has been made, he noted, and a revised proposal is forthcoming. The plan, you may recall, Dear Readers, is to turn the council chambers into a sort of Transformer – the council apparatus would–snip-snap, whizzzzz– tuck and fold into itself to turn the room into a performance space.
Williams said that to fund this project he is eying the 1.25 million dollars in grant money that the city procured to build the gym. Your Gilbert remembers that when this idea came up in city council meeting a few months ago it made the staff uncomfortable about shifting the use for the grant money. Apparently these qualms have been soothed?
he mayor said he was making use of this particular grant money before the deadline passes and it is no longer available, but Your Gilbert wonders if this indicates that the Williams administration is dropping the idea of a gym entirely.
The new mayor listed off a few other issues: development near the Metro station, changing the budget proposal format so people can understand it better, addressing greenhouse gas reduction in the city, and the forthcoming results of the city services survey.
The newly- and re-elected councilmembers also speechified, covering much of the same ground. Friends, relatives, and spouses and companions were profusely thanked, the latter especially for their long-suffering and patience. From the audience they grinned thinly, as though to say that even their patience and long-suffering has its limits, pal.
Our favorite speech was from new Ward 3 representative Dan Robinson who said that he was at a loss for words and had no notes. Still, he is a politician so he found some words after all, but fortunately not many, allowing the meeting to end before the cake frosting was too dry.