GRANOLAPARK: Bad mix needs fix

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Defective concrete stopped work on the New Hampshire Avenue bridge project at Sligo Creek Parkway 2 months ago. That’s what Takoma Park council member Fred Schultz reported at the January 27 city council meeting.

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The project, which blocked traffic from entering or exiting Sligo Creek Parkway at that intersection, was due to end in January, 2014. Now, the project won’t end until October, 2014 at the earliest, said Schultz. The State Highway Adminstration is forcing the contractor to tear out and replace the concrete.

“Sligo Creek Parkway will remain barriered until that time.” said Schultz.

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Nincompoop parking

Councilmember Seth Grimes, giving a city employee a hard time at a public meetings again, got snappish with Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg at the January 27 meeting.

Grimes said his Ward 1 constituents complain that police are not issuing parking tickets when residents call to report cars blocking driveways and sidewalks, or otherwise illegally parked.

Parking

Chief Goldberg took the podium to reply. Beat officers, said the chief, have personal discretion whether to issue parking violations or not. The chief says officers have leeway. They can write a ticket, they can issue a warning, they can determine the violation is not as serious as the caller thought, or they can determine there is no violation.

They might decide that the caller has a grudge against a neighbor, or that the caller is a nincompoop.

Grimes was put out that officers should have personal discretion while enforcing parking regulations. It especially didn’t set well that they had discretion not to take his nincom . . . er, constituents seriously.

The chief also got a bit warm around the collar as he defended the policy, at one point saying, “Wait a minute, let me finish,” when Grimes interrupted him.

Other priorities

Later in the evening, when the police chief reported on recent local car-jackings, Councilmember Tim Male told him, “In contrast to Councilmember Grime’s comments, the feedback I’m getting from people in [Ward 2] is we’d far rather see your officers spend their time walking the streets, patrolling the streets, looking for violent crime, and robberies and burglaries than giving parking citations.”

“it’s a balance” said the chief diplomatically, noting that a parking ticket caught Son of Sam serial killer.

Lids and reins

The city hands out cash every year in the form of grants. There are small grants and large grants and “just-right” grants.

But, as councilmember Seth Grimes said “It’s always a temptation to throw around money, [it’s] good to implement disciple here.”

grant cat

Pet projects sometimes get extra funding, especially when the applicants are cute and furry.

It’s true – the council reviews the grant requests every year at budget-time, and they have a tendency to hand out more than is requested. They are softies for good causes and earnest young activists. And, if it effects their ward or there is constituent pressure to support certain grant applications, our Elected Ones get generous. They ARE politicians, after all.

Under control

So, city staff is revising the grant system – with much tinkering from the council.

They aren’t finished but it looks like grant spending will be ALL UNDER CONTROL! Aren’t you taxpayers pleased?

There will be 4 kinds of grants and exact cash totals for each kind. That’ll keep a lid on it!

There will probably be a new committee to review all the grants and recommend which ones to pick. They’ll keep that spending reined in, cowpokes!

Then . . . uh oh, “The final determination of awards is the sole responsibility of the Council.” says the draft proposal. The control just slipped, the lid just blew off, the reins just dropped and the horse is running away.

They claim this won’t happen. The proposal has funding limitations, eligibility requirements, and conditions. But, the councilmembers ARE politicians, after all.

We could have a repeat of the 2010 Small Community Grant Review Committee “disorganized procedure,” as council member Fred Schultz called it.. The committee made a recommendation, but the staff disagreed based on information about the applicant they had not provided to the committee. A lot of time was wasted and the decision had to be put off three months.

 – Gilbert

 

 

 

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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.