GRANOLAPARK: Welcome, refugees!


Dear Readers,

Put clean sheets on the guest bed! Takoma Park city council flopped down the welcome mat for Syrian refugees – right after they smacked Maryland governor Larry Hogan in the face with it. Hogan, in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in which a perpetrator or two snuck into Europe as refugees, said Maryland would accept no Syrian refugees because they might be fibbers and nasty bad bogey men.

So, the Takoma Park city council said “Oh, YEAH?” to Hogan and all the other xenophobes.  At the Nov. 30 city council meeting they voted unanimously “to welcome our Syrian neighbors because to shut the door on those in need is inconsistent with basic values of our community.” Lookin’ at YOU, Larry!

The Syrian refugee resolution was emotionally satisfying, and it was fiscally satisfying too. The council did not obligate the city to spending tax dollars. This was accomplished with a lot of non-specific and qualifying words between “Be it resolved” and “refugee families relocating to the Takoma Park area.”

Such as – “the City of Takoma Park will work with other levels of government and non-governmental agencies to identify ways in which the community can provide support,” which means “. . . somebody else pay for . . .”

Dear reader, you can safely stick your relatives in the spare room for the holidays, given the federal government’s long refugee vetting process, plus the offer to let somebody else do all the work and funding to get refugees here, they will not be your guests THIS holiday season. Or the next.

Which puts citizens on the spot. If this resolution is going to be more than a symbolic gesture, it’s up to YOU.

A new day dawns

The Stewart Era is dawning slowly. At the second meeting of her administration Mayor Kate Stewart set out some new meeting rules.

The biggest change is the meeting day – from Mondays to Wednesdays.

Obviously this is a disaster for Your Gilbert. Doesn’t the mayor know that the CKDS meets every Wednesday evening? That’s the Curmudgeons Knitting and Drinking Society. We just started on a pair of wool socks and now we’ll never learn how to turn the heel!

Meetings will start at 7:30 p.m. Start times used to fluctuate unpredictably between 7:00 and 7:30.

Mayor Stewart wants to shorten up council meetings. She’ll hold citizens to the three-minute limit. If commentators think their remarks need more than three minutes they go to the city staff BEFORE the meeting and ask for additional time.

Nothing in there about shortening the council comments, which are delivered with no apparent time limit at the beginning of each meeting. Council comments were shockingly sparse at the Nov. 30 meeting.  Apparently there was some kind of agreement about not making council comments. That’s based on how councilmember Fred Schultz tentatively asked to say just a few words on the Sryian refugee resolution.

Which emboldened Councilmember Rizzy Qureshi to say a quick word on the same subject. Then he asked what that high-pitched noise was.

That high-pitched noise, said the mayor, is just the Laser of Death warming up. She toggled a switch and a little panel opened on the wall facing the council.

None of the other council members cared to make comments.

The meeting day switch will start in January. Another innovation will be Friday morning coffee with the mayor and council for any residents who care to show up. These will be held in various places around the city.

There was some discussion of holding the weekly council meetings at different location, on different days and at different times. This was one of the mayor’s campaign pledges. Nothing formal has been decided on that, apparently. One question to be answered first is whether the meetings could be broadcast and taped. The Deputy City Manager said the cable tv department “may have the technology.”

The really good news is that the meeting finished around 9:30 p.m.! That’s about two hours – or three – earlier than most.

– Gilbert


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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.

6 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: Welcome, refugees!"

  1. Why does the author have to be so offensive? I agree that refugees have the absolute right of coming and staying in America but this type of writing does our side no good. The Syrian refugee issue is one of the most contentious arguments out there so let’s try to remember that the other side is just as emotional as us. We should strive to unite with each other, not divide.

  2. “Our side?” What side is that? Gilbert is on the side of truth, transparency, fairness, sticking up for the underdog, amusement, a good time and a stiff drink. Not always in that order.

    The truth is that the city council itself pointed out at the public meeting that the resolution cost taxpayers nothing, and that the process of clearing refugees would take a long time. The truth is that the business-end of the resolution, as we reported, commits the city to very little and is vague.

    As stated in the column we favor the symbolism, but we’re not going to pretend it is anything more than that.


    • “after they smacked Maryland governor Larry Hogan in the face with it.”
      “said Maryland would accept no Syrian refugees because they might be fibbers and nasty bad bogey men.”
      “Takoma Park city council said “Oh, YEAH?” to Hogan and all the other xenophobes.”
      “Dear reader, you can safely stick your relatives in the spare room for the holidays.”

      Are these lines appropriate? To me they’re offensive and take away from the issue at hand. Maybe civil discourse doesn’t sell anymore. To each their own I guess.

  3. Brian,

    Granolapark is a column. Unlike straight reportage (which The Voice also has) the Granolapark column features opinions, humor and irreverence.

    If we got rid of all those fun parts you’d be the only reader. And even you would get bored and beg for more irreverence. Reading about the city council as straight news is like doing your chores while watching paint dry.


  4. The Other Voice of Takoma | December 24, 2015 at 1:28 am |

    The whole Syrian refugee has more to do with the “powers” that be in TP wanting to pretend that this town stands on a moral high ground and we’re more PC than though. Larry Hogan doesn’t give two shakes about this little _______hole. Fact is in all this PC business, the city council failed to notice that it might have been smarter to just keep their mouths closed on this one. People are scared right now and for good reason. Not that there’s going to be a terrorist attack here anytime soon, but this is a sensitive issue–would be nice if sometimes the council put all of Takoma first and political correctness be damned.

    As to the library, how many million dollars$ For what? We’ve got a fabulous new library five minutes from the old building and another library on Arlis. Another expensive duplicate expenditure because it seems “family friendly” and the old guard just can’t let go. Nothing at all there that can’t be found in the other libraries. They should convert it to a public gym. This town is so bloated, it could use a good workout.

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