PHOTO: At last! The inauguration ceremony FINALLY over, the audience gets to eat the cake. Photo by Eric Bond.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
Did you notice Takoma Park has a new mayor and city council? The skies are bluer, the winds more fair. Hearts are lighter and free of care.
So here’s how the inauguration went: “Thank you!” “Dog Park!” “Thank YOU!” Dog park!” “THANK you! “THANK YOU!” “Thank you!, THANK you!” No, thank you!” And, thank you!” “Thank you!” “Thank you!” “Thank you, thank you!”
Then they had cake.
Yeah, AS USUAL, it was a Thank-fest, even more than usual because of the End-of-An-Era thing with Mayor Williams stepping down. He had to get extra-thanked. Several times.
He got enough plaques and certificates and t-shirts and other gifts (counting the stuff he got at his retirement party last Sunday) to start a new planet.
Everybody had to thank everybody else until it seemed like the cake would be stale dust by the time they shut up.
Photo by Eric Bond.
And the off-topic dog parkistas just had to delay cake-time as well. More than a half-dozen of them got in line with all the well-wishers to berate the council for not having built the dog park, yet. It was like having Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door every five minutes.
Coincidentally, a similar thing happened at Bruce William’s first inauguration in 2007, when some Lyndon LaRouche followers turned up to ask the council to sign a petition.
Former mayor Kathy Porter, who succeeded Mayor Williams, handed the new mayor Kate Stewart a bag of peanuts, advising her to always have some on hand to keep the council in hand. They’ll be swinging from the rafters if you aren’t watchful, she said.
We reported in 2007 that the new mayor “pledged in his inaugural speech that he would strive to start council meetings on time, quorum or not, and keep them moving along. He said he will urge councilmembers and citizens to keep their comments brief.”
He accomplished most of that. However, councilmembers have not kept their comments brief. In fact, it starts to grate when each councilmember feel compelled to make comments on every agenda item, no matter how redundant or bloviated. Sometimes it goes several rounds – and they each want equal time.
Mayor Kate could do some tweaking on this. Time limits at least. Or only take comments against the agenda item – and if there are any, open it up to responses.
Use the peanuts, Kate.
Color us perplexed
The meeting started off with a never-before-seen-in-a-council-meeting police color-guard. And, the police have their own flag? Apparently they do, because there it was.
Hats were doffed, A few hands pressed hearts and at least one guy in the audience saluted, but most people looked slightly perplexed. Was this a reassuring display of security in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks? Or was it a response to criticism of city police in the recent elections?
Or maybe it was just a color guard. Because we have one so we might as well use it.
The color guard looking good. Photo by Eric Bond.
Cynicism is more fun
Where others heard thanks-givings, gratitude, bitter-sweet endings and exciting beginnings, we heard vast conspiracies and reasons to be cynical.
What the heck is this “passing leadership on to another generation” stuff the outgoing mayor was spouting? Shouldn’t leadership be based on a person’s competence and policies – regardless of what generation they are stuck in? What’s really going on here?
We like former council member Colleen Clay’s feverish observations on this. She said the whole election was “predetermined.” Look, she said, at the timing. Mayor William’s surprise announcement that he would not run and that it was time to hand it over “to a new generation” was closely followed by Kate Stewart’s announcement that she was running for mayor – WAY before the usual election season. Seth Grimes announced that he would announce he was running, also, but then retracted his candidacy, clearing the runway for Stewart. Protest candidate Warren Holmes was merely a speed bump.
Repurposed 2014 council campaign sign at Stewart’s mayoral campaign kickoff, July, 2015. Photo by Bill Brown.
Stewart had direct or tacit support from county and state politicians, many of whom put in an appearance on election night. Clay said that because the city is next-door to Washington, DC, we have crazy-good political connections. So, residents can go to a city council candidate’s coffee at a neighbor’s house and end up shaking hands with a US Senator (not this election, but it has happened). The city is stuffed with politically-minded, -involved, -connected and -office-hungry residents.
Twenty years ago, non-residents scoffed at Takoma Park and its loony-left politics. Now, Takoma Park is a politician incubator. Kate Stewart did (at the Voice election forum) take the pledge not to run for higher office in next year’s general election, but she didn’t say anything about 2018. We have a feeling the Democratic Party Eye is on her.
And wtf? Why the outside interest and influence on the ballot question to merge city elections with general elections? Shortly after the Voice posted an editorial urging a “no” vote on the question, State Delegate David Moon spoke out in support of it. Darian Unger of Progressive Neighbors was handing out pro ballot-question literature at the polls.
It makes us wonder where the suggestion to change city election dates came from. Was it from city council members, or was the idea fed to them by outsiders?
The freshman hazing has begun. We ran into Rizzy Qureshi and Peter Kovar, the newly inaugurated council members, walking up Philadelphia Avenue the other day. They had paint cans, brushes, and confused expressions. “They said it was the new guys’ job to repaint the ward borders so they show up in satellite pictures,” said Kovar. “But, we can’t find the old ones to repaint.” said Qureshi.
Just don’t bend over at any meetings with city manager Suzanne Ludlow, guys. She has the G.S. Gilbert Memorial Paddle, and this is her first whack at freshmen council members.
Shovelers shove back
One of the last thing the old city council did was to pass a new snow-removal policy. You may recall that Your Gilbert railed against the draft proposal that residents must shovel freshly fallen snow off their sidewalks by 8 a.m.
They were set to pass it, ignoring our highly-reasonable suggestion to peg resident’s sidewalk-shoveling deadline to the time the city finishes plowing the streets. Fortunately, a bunch of peetybeeties* turned up at the council meeting so say “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREEKIN’ MINDS?”
Photo by Bill Brown.
Among the points made: residents would have to rise early every morning just to see if it snowed during the night, if there’s so much snow on the sidewalks that school kids have to walk in the street to the bus stop, the county will cancel school anyway, there will be no bus and kids will be making snow-men, not walking in the street.
So, the council voted 5- 2 to move the sidewalk-shoveling deadline to noon the day after the snowfall. The two opposing were council members Kate Stewart and Tim Male, who both have school-age children.
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