Archives September 2010

What Was He Thinking?

I realize that in the afterglow of victory, some people gloat and say things that are . . . ungracious. But, when you have guys who say this:

“It was the Unions that put Duchy in office n it was the Unions that took her out. Justice served!” read a text message forwarded at 1:24 a.m. Wednesday by John Sparks, head of Montgomery’s firefighters union.

 is it any wonder that someone else says this?

llawrence9 wrote:

First order of business, the council doubles all pay raises for union members.
Second, raises property taxes to afford said raises, and closes more facilities.
They are burning down the house to stay warm in the blizzard.

The Council just got through telling us how hard they worked to prepare a six-year austere budget, and how they were going to hold to it. Now, the gloating after Tuesday’s primary elections may have undone all the good will that budget built up. Going to take some time for the new Council to show that it’s independent of those who “put” them “in office” and can take them out.

Barnaby Zall

Berliner Landslide; At-Large Very Tight

Turn-out in yesterday’s primary elections was light. I chatted with White Flint realtor Emily Mintz at one polling place yesterday and she had seen a “trickle” of voters all day. No other voters were there when I signed in, though a couple turned up as I was leaving.

Roger Berliner, the incumbent Councilmember for District 1, which includes White Flint, won the Democratic primary with 75% of the vote over newcomer Ilaya Hopkins. Since 60% of the voters in District 1 are Democrats (20% are independents and 20% are Republicans, according to Hopkins), it’s likely that Berliner will also see victory in November, though his Republican challenger, Rob Vricella, told me that he was looking forward to the race. “I’m going to ask him some tough questions,” Vricella said. “I’ll do ok.” 

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(Roger Berliner (L) at a public debate with opponent Ilaya Hopkins) 

In the race for At-Large Council seats, a very tight race, unlikely to be resolved finally until absentee ballots are counted next week. Four incumbents were running for re-election, and only one looks like a pretty sure bet to return: Marc Elrich of Silver Spring, with 45,000 votes.

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(Marc Elrich (L) with Old Farm’s Ed Rich)

Newcomer Hans Reimer finished a strong second in the voting, with 39,000 votes, and likely will take a place on the Council (since no Republican At-Large candidate garnered more than 15,000 votes). Reimer is an active supporter of New Urbanism and is expected to support sustainable development initiatives.

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(Hans Reimer (seated, left) watching presentation on promoting bicycle commuting at July 13 FoWF Board Meeting)

Two other incumbents had a tougher time winning their At-Large Democratic nominations: incumbents George Leventhal of Takoma Park and Nancy Floreen of Garrett Park. Each had about 37,000 votes.

(Dan Hoffman (l), Councilmember George Leventhal (c), and Council President Nancy Floreen)

(Nancy Floreen (R) and George Leventhal (C), with Randolph Civic Association’s Dan Hoffman (L)) 

Incumbent Duchy Trachtenberg of White Flint had 32,000 votes and looks to be the likeliest of the incumbents to lose her re-election bid.

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(Duchy Trachtenberg at a FoWF Speakers Series event)

In other news, former Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson lost his bid for the District 2 seat, with state legislator Craig Rice grabbing the Democratic nomination. Councilmembers Valerie Ervin, who backed Reimer’s candidacy and was unopposed for the Democratic nod, looks to be in a stronger position for her likely term as Council President next year. Council incumbents Phil Andrews and Nancy Navarro also won their nominations.

Maryland Politics Watch has a quick analysis.

[Update: Duchy has conceded, according to the Washington Post.  She was a strong supporter of White Flint’s sustainable, transit-oriented Plan, and we all thank her for her service. She told the Post that she lost because she took tough stands on issues which angered “special interests,” and comments from at least one union figure seem to bear that out:

“I do not regret sounding the alarm about the growing imbalance between the compensation and benefits paid to county employees and the need to fund services for the county’s most vulnerable populations,” she said in a statement. “Montgomery County cannot keep asking its residents to pay higher and higher taxes just to pay for higher government salaries while services decline.”

John Sparks, head of the county firefighters union, expressed satisfaction late Tuesday that Trachtenberg seemed to be losing.

“She sought all the endorsements of the unions and she said she would support working families, and support issues of interest to the unions, and when she got elected she did just the opposite,” Sparks said.

 Barnaby Zall

Reminder: Mid-Pike Plaza Presentation Date is Changed

On Wednesday, September 29, the Luxmanor, Old Farm, Tilden Woods, Walnut Woods and North Farm communities will hold an open public meeting to discuss the Federal Realty plan for Mid-Pike Plaza. These are many of the communities on the western side of White Flint, between Rockville Pike and I-270. The meeting will be held at the Luxmanor Elementary School on Tilden Lane beginning at 7PM and running until 9:30PM.

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If you’ve attended one of Evan Goldman’s hundreds of community meetings, you’ll anticipate a good show. Evan presented a version of this discussion at the July 13 Friends of White Flint Board meeting. 

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Some people may have gotten the original invitation for next Wednesday, 9/15, but the date has been change.

For more information, please bug Evan at egoldman@federalrealty.com.

Barnaby Zall

Upcoming Planning Board Activity

We haven’t talked about actions by the Montgomery County Planning Board for a while, but things are happening. At its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 16, the Planning Board will consider the Josiah Henson Park Master Plan, and a new building to replace the various furniture stores which have occupied the old Levitz store site in Montrose Crossing, the shopping center at the northeast corner of Rockville Pike and Randolph Rd.

The Montrose Crossing shopping center revision (where the Super Giant, Target and Sports Authority are) will be considered in the morning. The old Levitz store will become two smaller stores, as part of a planned revision of the shopping center to dovetail with the White Flint Plan changes just to the south. It’s not a big change, but it shows how the area is changing to meet the new circulation patterns required of the urbanizing area.

That evening, beginning at 7:30, the Board will hold a briefing on the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Park area. The park, at the intersection of Tilden Lane and Old Georgetown Road, is the site of the real cabin occupied by Rev. Josiah Henson, and immortalized in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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The parks staff has prepared a planning document outlining some plans for the new park. The park has received a $100,000 grant from the National Park Service which allows for more activity than the previous schedule which limited public access to four openings a year.

The staff summarized the options to date as:

Based on public input, Staff developed four Goals. The Goals and Objectives are used to guide future operational and capital improvements.

Goal #1 – Interpret Josiah Henson’s life and the history of slavery in Montgomery County

Goal #2 – Retain the integrity of the historic architecture and landscape

Goal #3 – Create a safe, accessible site.

Goal #4 – Develop advocacy and fundraising strategies to ensure the viability of the site.

To meet the Plan Goals, Staff then developed three implementation options, Minimum, Moderate and Maximum. These options are detailed in the chart in the Implementation Options Chart (Figure 9).

The Minimum Option equates with the current level of programming. Essentially depicts the activities now taking place at the Josiah Henson Special Park.

The Moderate Option takes the park to the next level in capital improvements and interpretive programming.

The Maximum Option outlines steps for more extensive capital improvements and expanded interpretive programming. 

Staff selected the Moderate Option as best meeting the goals of the public, the carrying capacity of the small park situated in a residential neighborhood, and the realities of the Department and County budgets.


A public hearing will be held on October 28 on the Plan.

Barnaby Zall

And Another Thing . . .

So, as long as I’m putting up oddities, here’s another, suggested by an “avid” reader:

“Why, when I google “White Flint 2010″ do I come up with ads for Armageddon?”

Um, . . . what?

I tried it myself, and got these as the first three Google ads (note: the FLOG doesn’t run ads; these came from the google search itself):

Sponsored Links

Um . . . What (round two)?

OK, so I know technically a PAC (Political Action Committee) can be formed by just two people. But is it really front-page teaser news (with a full story inside and second from the top story billing on the website) when one man and his wife form a PAC to complain about a church’s relocation plan? “[David M.] Reile, of Olney, said the PAC, which currently consists of him and his wife, Barbara Suddarth, might send out anti-[County Council President Nancy] Floreen mail.” It’s not as if we don’t have enough debates and other real political news going on less than a week before the September 14 primary elections. Not a word about the final District One Council candidate debate, for example, even though the Gazette had reporter Alex Ruoff there.

Barnaby Zall

NRC Three-peat at Best Federal Workplace

For the third year in a row, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has topped a survey of federal workplaces. The Partnership for Public Service and American University jointly poll hundreds of thousands of federal workers. The NRC topped the list of “large agencies,” and posted at 1.3% gain over its winning total from 2009.

The NRC has an excellent record of promoting transit commuting for its employees, with half taking public transit to work. In addition, the agency participates in community affairs, including membership in Friends of White Flint; NRC hosted the 2009 White Flint Town Hall.

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(NRC’s Mike Springer, FoWF Board member, welcomes participants to the 2009 White Flint Town Hall, held in the NRC Auditorium)

Barnaby Zall