IMAGE: It was much prettier outside the city council chambers than inside September 21, 2016. Photo by Jay Keller.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
The city council cast only one vote at the Weds, Sept. 28 regular meeting. The rest of the meeting was taken up with discussions (i.e. work sessions) about replacing street lights, emergency preparedness, and street paving conditions.
There was also the usual public comments, council comments, city manager comments and other things to drag it out even longer. These people have no consideration for the media who are gasping for drink.
The one vote was not a vote in favor of actually changing the city’s voting day. It was a vote in favor of being on record in favor of continuing to look into whether they favor changing the date.
Because so far all the votes in favor of pushing toward election synchronization have been straw votes. Synchronization would pair Takoma Park’s city election with the county, state and national elections.
This vote will give the city an official vote to show the county. The county has to approve of the change.
Recently the city Board of Elections met with the county Board of Elections to see if it’s ok with them.
The county BOE were generally encouraging, especially when they found out it wouldn’t cost them anything. But, they were concerned about the city’s awkward and potentially confusing extra voting line. At this point, because the city wants to hold on to voting laws at odds with the county’s, the city would have to have its own ballots and its own line at each polling station.
Sunset, September 21, 2016. Photo by Jay Keller.
The county council has to vote its approval. The county BOE said the issue will be on the January county council agenda.
If the county council votes in favor, the city will begin the process of changing the city charter, which has to be done to change the voting day. So the earliest the city charter can be changed is next spring. The process takes 90 days.
That all needs to happen before the city’s 2017 elections because the term of office would be shortened to one year.
The vote was two to five, as it has been and will continue to be on this issue. The nay votes are councilmembers Fred Schultz and Jarrett Smith.
With a two-to-five vote majority, this is a done deal, even though there are public hearings promised. Disapproval on the county or state level is unlikely. Takoma Park is such a solid progressive-Democratic Party stronghold, it would strengthen the state’s one-party rule.
Now that Maryland Democrats have been called out on gerrymandering – some the worst recent examples nationwide – they need something to fall back on.
Work session briefs
Poor Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite had to research options to covert streetlights to more sustainable LED bulbs AND the condition of all the city’s street pavement.
The ins and outs of LED conversion made everyone cross-eyed. And resident Mark Sherman warned the council that blue-spectrum LEDs have bad effects on people and wildlife, and some communities have risen up in protest against them. If ever there’s a community that would rise up in protest, Takoma Park is it.
There’s a lot to consider and weigh on this, but the council all agreed a few points: staying with the status quo is unacceptable, nobody trusts PEPCO, but working through PEPCO is better than purchasing the utility poles and light fixtures from them.
Photo of Jay Keller taking photos for this column. Photo by Bill Brown.
The Emergency Preparedness Committee gave their report, September being Emergency Preparedness Month.
As for street paving, all we need to report is that the city has the technology to assess all the streets, and a database of similar assessments in 2011 and 2003, so they are restoring the worst first.
You can see how your street pavement compares.
Council comments had three themes: local horror stories, radio interviews and upcoming events.
It is not smart to commit horror on a councilmember’s street. For example the horror on councilmember Rizzy Qureshi’s block, an ugly building site stagnated by a tree-ordinance issue, has resulted in his request to review the tree-ordinance. Veteran city councilemembers, staff and council-watchers simultaneously got migraine headaches the moment he suggested it.
PEPCO tree-trimming crews foolishly began their Takoma Park rounds on councilmember Terry Seamen’s street. Seamens used his bully dais seat to warn the city. The tree-killers are coming! The tree-killers are coming!
Seamens said PEPCO used to be required to hire arborists to do it and to only trim areas up to 10 feet from the power lines. Now they can use tree trimming contractors and the trim area is 30 feet from the power lines, he said. Such extreme trimming means, he says, that a lot of the trees are going to die. In fact whole trees have been taken down on public land, he said. He said they were cut and laid out in lengths suitable to be made into lumber.
Photo by Jay Keller.
He asked the city manager to look into whether those lengths are being sold for lumber and who gets the proceeds.
Will this end with a trunk-laden Asplundh truck stopped by city police and the driver arrested for theft of city property? We hope so.
Jarrett Smith reported he was interviewed along with Takoma Park Police Capt.Tyrone Collington and Corporal Thomas Black about police/community relations on the Real Phil Show. The show is on BriteRadio.org, a Christian evangelical online radio station. Smith said it was awesome and we should all listen. There’s some very loud music at the beginning.
But, holy Rose Mary Woods! Just as Smith starts to explain how he found funding to ramp up the Green Street project, the audio cuts out from -57:09 to -56:28.
Mayor Kate Stewart said she will be on the radio. Oh, said the council comedians, will you be singing? Spinning?
NO, she said, throwing peanuts at them, she’ll be INTERVIEWED LIKE AN IMPORTANT PERSON on Takoma Radio Sunday Sept. 25. She said it will be before the Unity in the Community police/community relations kick-off at Capitol City Cheesecake, so presumably she’ll be talking about that.
Speaking of which, that was one of the events touted. In case you haven’t heard (not likely), it is from 4 – 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25 at Capitol City Cheescake, Carroll Avenue at the corner of Columbia Avenue.
Councilmember Rizzy Qureshi mentioned a Ward 3 meeting at the VFW hall Thursday Sept. 29 to discuss Ward 3 issues, “or just to have a drink.” Takoma Park police department representative will be there to discuss the latest e-mail discussion list-fueled crime panic. The VFW is at 6420 Orchard Ave.
Fred Shultz promoted the Dwali Festival. This is the second annual and is a bi-county event co-sponsored by a couple of temples, the city and the Crossroads business association. Schultz had hungry look in his eye as he dwelled on the Indian food featured at the event. It is October 15, 1 to 6 p.m. at Langley Park Plaza.
He also urged people to attend the organizational meeting of the Friends of the Takoma Park Recreation Center, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m. Drinks and snacks will be available, said Schultz with that hungry look in his eye again.
Speaking of organizational meetings, Mayor Stewart reported that around 30 folks showed up to volunteer for the next Takoma Park Folk Festival, some of them for the executive board. The executive board volunteer gap is what forced the festival to cancel this year. More volunteers are needed, said the mayor. She was looking RIGHT AT YOU, Dear Reader!
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Sept. 21 sunset reflected on Maple Avenue home. Photo by Bill Brown.