GRANOLAPARK: Good Germans

Michael TaborMichael Tabor puts the squeeze on the city council, April 30, 2012.

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Takoma Park’s progressive activists are now bullying the city council to take an official stand for peace and freedom.

City resident and activist Michael Tabor, speaking “as a Jewish person,” tongue-bashed the council for acting like certain liberals who could have spoken up, but “kept silent and said nothing, and in the end people, whether it was Jews or other people, died as a result of their silence.”

Since March activists have asked the council to pass city proclamations in support of their issues. At the April 30 city council meeting Tabor and other activists emotionally pled their case. The issues are something to do with the defense budget and the National Defense Authorization Act. Your Gilbert doesn’t care – not when our job is to report on CITY business. Their resolutions have nothing to do with the city, though activists say that any issue affecting citizens affects the city.

Meanwhile the council was waiting to hear citizens discuss whether to raise the tax rate, which DEFINITELY affects the city and every tax-paying citizen. That discussion was delayed by around 30 minutes for these non-city issue citizen comments –  most of which exceeded their 3 minute limit, and some of which were from non-residents of the city.

Michael Tabor

Michael Tabor puts the squeeze on the city council, April 30, 2012.

Objectifying

Your Gibert’s objections have nothing to do with the issues, as worthy as they may be. We object because, besides being a time-waster, this is lazy activism. It is hardly activism at all because it has little or no effect. Big deal, Takoma Park, the knee-jerk liberal capitol of the Mid-Atlantic supports yet another progressive cause. That will change . . . what, exactly?

As we observed in 2007 when the council passed a resolution condemning pate foie gras for the sake of local animal rights activists, getting the Takoma Park city council to pass a toothless resolution on progressive issues is easier than stealing candy from a baby – it’s easier than giving candy to a baby.  We made similar observations in 2006 when the city condemned chicken cages. We have not noticed a collapse of the pate foie gras industry, nor much change in the egg industry. We challenge anyone to prove that these Takoma Park’s resolutions changed even one mind.

For the cause

What really bothers Your Gilbert are the professional activists. We have a lot of them in Takoma Park, and when they turn up at city council meetings asking for a resolution that supports the cause they work for, we have to wonder. Are they adding “a feather in their cap,” as one resident speculated in 2009 when drug-decriminalization professionals were pushing the city to effectively de-criminalize marijuana? Even if they aren’t enhancing their careers, it is off-putting when residents who have never come forward on any local issues make a first-time appearance at a city council meeting to lobby on a national issue – that happens to be related to their job.

At the April 30 council meeting Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network, told the council that the issue had brought her “out to a city council meeting for the first time.”

“I have a very keen professional interest in this issue.” she said. “One of the most useful things I can do for my day job was come and ask my community to get involved, . . . ”

Ah, OK. Glad we can be of service to your issue and your job.

Also addressing the council were two non-resident professional activists: the head of Peace Action Montgomery, and the ACLU-Maryland executive director.

But, let’s be constructive

We challenge these activists to, for pity’s sake, come up with a different idea than scoring the city’s issue-of-the-month feel-good proclamation. An EFFECTIVE idea would be nice. They need to stop preaching to the choir and step outside the church. As Washington Post columnist Tim Carman said of Takoma Park city councilmembers’ support of Veg Week, it would be more effective to get “politicians from Nebraska or North Carolina or Texas [to] take a public stand.”

Get creative and innovative, that’s what good activists do!

How about putting together a debate series, one for each progressive issue of your choice, to be held in the city auditorium, taped by the city cable TV station, then offered to local access cable channels in less enlightened parts of the country?

Start a Traveling Progressive Committee that tours the country in a fleet of electric cars, proselytizing on street corners? Surely, the city has the funds for that! [Ha ha, we just cracked up the entire Granolapark staff.]

Why a mere proclamation in support or against national laws or policies, why not an out-and-out repeal? That’s what you all really want, isn’t it? A city repeal would have as much authority and effect as a proclamation, anyway. The city council could repeal the National Whatzit Act, it could declare the end of whatever war is on at the moment,  it could order the troops brought home. It could repeal the Arizona immigration bill, Texas’ anti-abortion funding restrictions, and gay-marriage bans. Repeal them all. Force the glorious progressive agenda on the whole country. Getting the country and federal government to comply may be difficult, but that’s why we have a city police force, right?

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert
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 "GRANOLAPARK: Good Germans"

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Gilbert. These efforts have bugged me for years. Remember when the city joined a long list of other like-minded communities and passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush? That succeeded on two levels: It made all those people in the council chambers feel good about themselves and got Kathy Porter on TV, where she made Tucker Carlson look like a fool. What it did not succeed at was improving in any measurable way the lives of people in Takoma Park.

    Now we have Mike Tabor likening lack of action on the indefinite military detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act to silence by liberals (I’ll take Gilbert’s word for it that Tabor used that descriptor) that allowed the Holocaust to occur. The action Tabor would like the council to take is passage of a resolution opposing the provision.

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/one-thing-maine-virginia-and-arizona-have-common-opposition-ndaa More information here

    The effect of a Takoma Park resolution would be to place the city on a list of other municipalities which have passed the same or similar statements of opposition. Presumably that list, along with other materials, will then be presented to members of Congress.

    Like Gilbert, my beef isn’t with the position taken. It’s with time being spent at council meetings on issues of national or international import, which we all know there is no shortage of.

    As councilmember Tim Male has said, Takoma Park’s support of resolutions such as this one are predictable. Like him, I cannot believe that adding our city to the usual list of suspects will do much to change the opinions of the proponents of whatever objectionable provision we are weighing in on.

    Would it not be better to push for a resolution from the Maryland legislature or see if our state attorney general has joined his fellow attorneys general in opposing the NDAA language? What about Gov. Martin O’Malley? I have to believe people at these levels of government have a bit more influence than Takoma Park. And why this issue and not others? Where are we on the DREAM Act? Why are we not calling on the White House to ensure the safety of the Chinese dissident whose well-being is now in danger?

    The activists like to point to the city charter to support their view that we can take stands on issues of national importance. Yes, and the city code prohibits portable basketball hoops on our streets. But there’s a difference between high-faluting rhetoric and the reality of governing. The folks pushing the city to take action on these types of resolutions argue that the whole process doesn’t take much time because the resolutions are already written for the council and the councilmembers can take as much or as little time as they want discussing the matters. Well, not quite. They still have to listen to a parade of witnesses repeat each others’ points at the podium. Then they have to actually discuss the matter, or (usually) state with great eloquence their unvarnished support for said resolution.

    But the councilmembers, who are technically part-time and paid commensurately, do not have unlimited time to deal with every issue of national importance brought to them. Right now they are in the middle of reviewing the city’s budget for FY 2013 and I, for one, would prefer they focus their energies on that.

    I wonder if any of the people who spoke in favor of the NDAA resolution have looked at the proposed FY 2013 budget or submitted any comments on it? More to the point, do they really care how their tax dollars are spent locally? If they’re like most city residents, they haven’t read it or commented on it. No doubt they do care how their tax dollars are spent, but they’re simply too busy on these other, larger issues to take much note of what’s happening locally. And hey, that’s what makes Takoma Park so special — we care about these great liberal causes, and by passing resolutions on all manner of issues, we attract other like-minded folks to live here, enabling us to pass more resolutions like this one. And then we can all engage in a group hug and congratulate ourselves for our courage.

    I commend the activists for their passion. But I honestly believe their cause would be better served by writing individual letters expressing their views — and getting others to do the same — to their elected members of Congress and other officials (Jamie Raskin comes to mind) who have more influence and more direct involvement in the matter at hand. Adding Takoma Park’s name to a sheet of paper will not make much, if any, difference.

    I also hope the council members who have already expressed support for this resolution will seek out the views of some of their constituents instead of reflexively agreeing with whoever is speaking at the podium. They may find that the people who elected them have a different take on the matter. And then, I hope they will get back to the people’s business of passing a sensible budget and overseeing the work of city staff. That is, after all, what they’re really getting paid to do.

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