GRANOLAPARK: On the ban wagon?

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Fire up the Cynicmobile, we’re going for a ride.

Here comes another citizen petition to the Takoma Park city council asking for a referendum. Only last month several people came to the podium at a council meeting, requesting the council suppport their petitions – 2 of them. Both were about national, not local, issues. Under intense – sometimes over-the-top – lobbying, the council went along. The council passed two resolutions, one urging the repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act’s indefinite detention provisions, the other calling for a big portion of the defense budget to be diverted to less war-like federal departments.

Here’s the big difference between the latest petition and the other two, Dear Readers. THIS time the city would have to actually DO something about the issue besides passing feel-good resolutions.

The petitioners want the council to ban the use of “harmful lawn pesticides on private and public property.” They cite serious health risks to humans and wildlife. The petition is here.

Supporters of those other, feel-good referendums said their issues would affect Takoma Park citizens – making a case that it was appropriate for the city council to address them. At best, the effects were indirect.

Lawn pesticides are as directly local as the house next door or just up the block.

So, Your Gilbert awaits with narrow, piercing eyes to see how the council handles this.

Bet’cha

We’re betting they’ll do the same thing they did when citizens requested a leaf-blower ban.  They’ll say the city doesn’t have the resources to enforce such a ban. Their backbones will turn to sand at the prospect of irate constituents asserting the god-given right to poison their own property. They’ll say they don’t want to interfere with local lawn-care businesses. They will water the ban down to a toothless recommendation, and a city educational campaign that will never materialize. BUT, if citizens press, the council will pass a bill banning only CITY , not resident, use of pesticides.

The main affect of this will be to produce a lot of eye-rolling over at the Public Works Department.

We hope we lose that bet. And we may – there are different people on the council, after all. One of them, Seth Grimes, championed the leaf-blower ban back in 2008. Councilmember Tim Male served on the Environmental Action Task Force.

We’re keeping the Cynicmobile running by the curb in the meantime.

Disdrict, datrict

The discussions about redistricting – rearranging city ward boundries – are getting soupy. As in thick pea soup.

At the city council’s Ward 4 night, June 4th, citizens expressed horror that one of the alternatives would put Ward 4 councilmember Terry Seamens in Ward 5.

Other councilmembers might be re-warded too. That, however is not their main concern. The council is worried about the accuracy of the census figures, since some large apartment buildings that were empty when the census was taken are now full. That would make the wards unequal in population.

Other concerns are that the new boundaries are not down the middle of streets, and that they not split community associations. Also of concern is the racial makeup of wards – whether it is desirable or not to have “majority-minority” districts.

Discussions continue as the soup becomes more like a stew.

– 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.