George Leventhal, an At-Large member of the Montgomery County Council, held one of his periodic Town Hall meetings last night at the (non-air conditioned) one-room Rec Center at Tilden Woods Neighborhood Park on Tilden Lane. Council President Nancy Floreen, who lives nearby, dropped by to join in. The meeting was moderated by Dan Hoffman, Chairman of the new Citizens League of Montgomery County and Vice-President of Randolph Hills Civic Association.
(Dan Hoffman (l), Councilmember George Leventhal (c), and Council President Nancy Floreen, at White Flint meeting)
Given the history of planning in Montgomery County, some might have expected raving hordes to appear to denounce the public officials for some aspect of the White Flint Sector Plan; after all, some continuing foes of the Plan claim that there is still a great deal of opposition to the Plan. Didn’t happen, though. Seems that the communities in White Flint are more anticipating the Plan than opposing it. Just as in previous Councilmembers’ meetings in White Flint, despite prodding from the speakers, the audience simply didn’t complain; asked for the biggest challenges in implementing the White Flint Sector Plan, the audience reacted with . . . “being sure everyone is talking together,” “including Randolph Hills,” and “the County keeping its commitments.” Indeed, the White Flint Sector Plan was touted as a path to the future, and a way to help the County out of its economic stagnation.
One important bit of news: Council President Floreen revealed that she had directed the Council staff to prepare materials “by the end of the month” to resolve the long-delayed question of financing the White Flint infrastructure. This had been discussed privately all week, but this was the first public announcement that Floreen, who has a hard-won reputation as being able to prod the sluggish MoCo bureaucracy into action, was turning her attention back to moving the White Flint Plan, now that the big budget battles are done.
Dave Freishtat, a Friends of White Flint Board member representing the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, is already scheduled to moderate a discussion on the financing stalemate at next Tuesday night’s Friends of White Flint Board meeting. Details on the FoWF Board meeting. Floreen’s announcement should enliven the debate.
The big discussion topics for the night were the budget crunch and the County’s communications on the recent water restrictions. Leventhal described the recent budget discussions as “shock therapy,” and pointed out that the Council had adopted a six-year plan for the County which assumed flat or no revenue growth for at least two years. “We just don’t have the money,” he said. He praised Floreen for her leadership in driving through the new “realistic” budget plan, and pointed out that it got no coverage in the media because, even though it was important, “it’s boring. No crime, no dead bodies.” There was some discussion of the role of the powerful public employee unions in Montgomery County politics and budgeting, but Leventhal pointed out again that “there’s no money. I’m a big supporter of collective bargaining, but there’s just no money.”