Dear Readers,

Would you hand a loaded revolver or your car keys to a toddler? Of course not. Then why did some of you suggest an event to the city council without NAMING it first? A couple of citizens independently suggested to the mayor that the city hold an inaugural ball. Councilmembers were taken with the idea but instantly tried to call it something else, “ball” being too snooty for some. One suggested “community dance,” another “bash,” and Your Gilbert headed for the liquor cabinet.

Here we go naming by committee again, Remember what happened to the Municipal Building (now the Takoma Park Community Center Sam Abbott Citizen’s Center). Mark our words, it’ll end up being called “The Citizen’s Celebration of Community Celebration and Let’s Not Forget To Mention Sam Abbott, B.F. Gilbert, and Goldie Hawn”.

Blowerbanner Dan
Dipping his toe in the boiling water of controversy, councilmember Dan Robinson said he’d like to dive in, but then retreated to his beach blanket. First, the ward 3 representative said he’d like to ban not only gasoline-powered leaf-blowers but all other devices with 2 cycle engines. In the next breath, however, he said the city did not have the police power or will to enforce such a ban. He settled on a strongly pro-rake position, saying the city should officially encourage raking leaves.

Councilmember Colleen Clay picked up on the pro-rake theme, suggesting that the city assist local youth in setting up leaf-raking businesses. This would be similar, she said, to the sort of projects set up by Berkley, California’s “youth business incubator” program. She was not opposed to a blower ban, she said, but she didn’t think it was a good place to start reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

Councilmember Josh Wright said he was not in favor of a total ban. He suggested an adjustment to the noise ordinance and a seasonal blower ban from May to September.
The council will discuss a blower ban in mid-January. The ban was proposed in a letter to the council from a group of city environmentalists.

Extreme Right
The city staff mananged not to throw any chairs when the council decided the staff-written resolution in support of the Purple Line needed to be rewritten – as the deadline for its presentation rapidly approaches.

In case you haven’t been following this, Dear Reader, the Purple Line is not one of the series of books about Harold and his purple crayon, it is a mass-transit line. It would roll along the city’s northern border on University Blvd.

The resolution as written was fairly specific about how the city staff recommends the line be built, so specific that it caused a panic among the merchants along University Blvd. They have formed a group called “X-Road,” and are concerned about the loss of parking spots and other changes in traffic patterns.

There was some confusion about one of the terms, a “right, right, right turn”. The term was questioned by, of course, Councilmember Josh Wright. To Your Gilbert’s great disappointment, the conversation did not disintegrate into something like a “Who’s on First” routine.

What “right, right, right” means is that there will be no left turn allowed for cars traveling West on University Blvd. at Piney Branch Road. They will have to pass the intersection, drive a block, turn right, drive around the block (in a series of right-hand turns) onto Piney Branch Road and across the intersection that way – sort of an urban clover-leaf exit. Councilmembers, particularly Colleen Clay, feared drivers would seek alternative routes via residential streets to avoid it.

City administrator Suzanne Ludlow, maintaining a serene demeanor despite what Your Gilbert imagines were her inner dreams of councilcide, made her best defense of the specifics-loaded resolution. She said the lack of specifics at this point might mean that the transit line would end up being built in a way the city doesn’t like. Still, she was sent back to rewrite it. Next Monday’s meeting will be the last chance to pass the resolution before the Purple Line meeting November 22 at Montgomery College’s Takoma Park branch.

Safe Safe
Councilmember Clay tried to mug Safe Takoma, but failed to knock it out. Safe Takoma is a new, cross-jurisdictional effort to prevent crime in the Takoma Metro area by developing youth programs, teaching conflict resolution, and so forth. Clay objected that the program was competing for grant funds with C-Safe a citywide crime prevention program. She felt strongly that the city should not be funding or supporting a crime prevention program in one ward, especially when other wards have more of a crime problem.

Other councilmembers said she raised valid points, but they still voted to continue funding the program.

– Gilbert

Clay: Can you explain this “right, right, right?”

Wright: What?

Seamens: She wasn’t asking you, Wright!

Wright: Oh, right!

Williams: No, “right, right, right,” Wright!

Wright: Write what?

Roginson: Not “write,” Wright, “right, right, right!”

Wright: Write’s not right?

Snipper: Right, write’s not right, it’s “right, right, right,” Wright!

Wright: Let me see if I’ve got this right . . . .”

Ludlow: Let’s just bury it!

Barry: What?.

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 "Ballistics"

  1. tom gagliardo | November 14, 2008 at 6:41 pm |

    University what? University Avenue? No, know, no know, no-no.
    It’s Boulevard, Boulevard, Boulevard, And you, Gilbert, call yourself a journalist.Oh shame, Dear Gilbert.

  2. Gilbert, thanks for mentioning Safe Takoma. We’ve been incorporated a couple of years now and are not so new. One of our key program areas involves community engagement, as one council member put it (much more succinctly than I would have), target hardening, to make individuals and our neighborhoods less likely to be victimized by crime. Visit to learn more.

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