Dear Readers,

The torture is almost over! The Takoma Park city council crunched through the first reading of next year’s budget. The tax rate got a first reading, too. The council does this with all the stuff they vote on. There are two readings. The first reading is like a dress rehearsal. Everyone makes suggestions for improvements. The second reading, if it passes the vote, is the one that makes it official.

The tax rate remains the same for home-owners. Personal property tax on shop inventory was raised, however. The vote rolled over objections from councilmember Seth Grimes, former heavy in the Takoma Old Town Business Association.


A few weeks ago councilmember Seth Grimes pointed out that the city was violating its own laws by letting a couple of council-appointed citizens committees lapse into non-existance. He used his best “you’re not supposed to DO that, and I’M telling MOM” voice. We’re guessing he’s a youngest child.

To keep Mom off his back, mayor Bruce Williams stuck the subject on the May 14th city council meeting agenda; “reconstituting the Safe Roadways Committee and Committee on the Environment.”

It’s never a simple “yes” vote with these politicians, Dear Reader. They have to DISCUSS it. Because, if they talk about it long enough they’ll find ways to completely change it around, redefine its mission, rename it, and generally  obsess fine tune as many details as possible. A politician’s work is never done because, well, “never” isn’t quite the right word, is it? Wouldn’t “seldom” be more accurate? So perhaps “A politician’s work is never OR seldom done” would cover more contingencies. But . . . shouldn’t we make clear that we’re talking about elected politicians, not unelected ones? So “An elected politician’s work is never OR seldom done.” Though, . . . really it should be “seemingly never OR seldom done” and we should not put so much emphasis on the “OR” by capitalizing it so “An elected politicians work is seemingly never or seldom done.” But . . . we’re being too vague about what that “work” is. It could include his/her non-political work, or even hobbies. So, “An elected politician’s political work related to his or her elected political position, not to be defined as work related to another career or hobby, is seemingly never or seldom done.” Should we add “at any given time or place” at the end?

It’s getting there, but it needs more tweaking, and even so it is just a draft. This could take a month or three.

The good news is that the council decided to let the public, not the council, rename the Safe Roads Committee. Otherwise the council would still be in session and the new name would cover three pages not counting the footnotes. So, send those succinct, short name ideas to the council, Dear Readers. We suggest Roads Scholars.

The Committee on the Environment is a curious case. It was “suspended” three years ago, supposedly to make way for the temporary Task Force on Environmental Sustainability. The Task Force had an environmental focus, but unlike the Committee on the Environment it was limited to writing a plan to make the city more environmentally sustainable. So, the Task Force didn’t quite replace the Committee, and now the city has neither.

At the time it almost seemed like an excuse to disband the committee. There were hints that the committee was dysfunctional. Members of the committee ended up in the Task Force, which was so functional the council still marvel about it. The committee chairperson Catherine Tunis served on the task force, but not in a leadership position. More recently Tunis got under some of the councilmembers fingernails when she led a fractious and time-consuming campaign against new sidewalk installation. We’ll be surprised if the council is in the mood to restore her to the reconstituted committee’s chair.

– 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.