Saturday, December 3, 2016

Down at the Crossroads, Circa 1984

The late Gwen Ifill put in time on the Post's decades-long Crossroads redevelopment beat, penning the story "Langley Park: Coping with Change" in August 1984.
"Twenty years ago, the longtime merchants say, Langley Park Shopping Center reflected the white, mostly Jewish, solidly middle-class neighborhood of its clientele...
I was told this shopping center was great, the best thing around here," said Korean-born Richard Choe, who moved his gift shop into the center nine months ago. "But it's run down."
Choe recently put steel bars on his windows and complains that the narrow alley that runs along the side of his shop has become a hangout for teen-agers.
One shopper, who said she has lived in the area for 14 years, said the shopping center "has gone to the dogs." Others said they only come to the Langley Park plaza for a specific purpose -- to go to the bank or fill a prescription at the drugstore.
"The only thing I know is stores are disappearing and none are coming in their places," said Evelyn Lassiter, who said she has lived in the Chillum Road area for 20 years.

Friday, December 2, 2016

That Sounds Familiar

The Aldi expansion continues unimpeded in Montgomery County, which apparently is viewed by some as some kind of coup.  The "affordable grocery store chain" is moving into a formerly destitute shopping center in Aspen Hill abandoned five years ago by Giant.  Geez, it all sounds so familiar.
 "It seems like yesterday that a petition for Trader Joe’s to replace Giant swept the area and had us all dreaming about what could be. In reality, Trader Joe’s and many other grocers turned down the space very early on (Trader Joe’s, for instance already has two stores in Rockville and Silver Spring, and they aren’t a “store on every corner” retailer). We’ve had fly-by-night furniture stores with their tacky road signs, a seasonal Halloween costume store, a make-shift kids’ entertainment space, and a general sense of confusion and despair to go along with them."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nullification

Takoma Park's Police Chief Alan Goldberg has issued a rather curious statement that says in part,
"Unlike many of our European counterparts, the responsibility for protecting and serving the public is a local and state responsibility. State, county and municipal agencies do not work for the federal government. Our Constitution specifically prohibits a “National Police Force.”"
That's odd - I can't find any section of the Constitution that "specifically prohibits a "National Police Force.""   I mean, the 10th amendment obviously reserves powers not expressly granted to the national government to the states, thus implying that the power to enforce state and local laws resides at those levels.  But the federal government clearly has the authority to maintain "national police forces," as evidenced by the 120,000 Federal law enforcement officers.

In addition to failing to mention the federal government's role in law enforcement, Chief Goldberg also failed to recognize the authority of federal law over state and local law, a notion that IS explicitly stated in the Constitution in the so-called Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) -
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
Oh, and how about using video cameras to try to cut down on the perpetual property crime?  I don't think that the Constitution specifically prohibits those either.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Revitalization Is Good

Word on the street is that Prince George's Council Member Deni Taveras has proposed that the unincorporated parts of District 2 including Langley Park and Adelphi be designated as the "Northern Gateway" of Prince George's County.  The designation is designed to rebrand the area and help attract and promote revitalization.  If the Council approves the designation, then it will also enact enabling legislation to create revitalization tax credit opportunities for the area.

Master's degrees in chemistry, public policy, and urban regional planning?  Maybe we have a chance.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Geez, Marc Elrich Can't Take a Hint

As expected, term limits overwhelmingly passed in Montgomery County, the only surprise being the magnitude of the massive 69% to 31% margin.  Incumbent council members and opponents didn't take the hint and said some dumb stuff.  Tom Moore, who repeatedly tried and failed to prevent the ballot initiative with massive bipartisan support from reaching the ballot through frivolous lawsuits, said that term limits would hurt the county "but it’s not disastrous, and Montgomery County will continue to have a terrific county government and be a great place to live.”  Yes, because nothing indicates terrific government better than people going to great lengths to ensure that they can rid themselves of the same tiresome elected officials.

Hans Riemer said some fairly banal things about people not being upset about the actions of elected officials and instead wanting new people with new ideas, but fortunately everyone's main man Ike Leggett was on the scene to lay the smack down on that view.
"(Madman Robin) Ficker and County Executive Ike Leggett both said they believed the passage of term limits meant voters were rebelling against the council’s passage of an 8.7 property tax increase, a recordation tax increase that would net the county $200 million over six years and council pay raises.
“I said at the time it will fall into the general mood of the public, of turning them sour,” Leggett said. “I think all of those things proved to be correct.”
Leggett, who had already announced he would not seek a fourth term, said the council should have been more modest in its proposals. “It’s feeding into a negative attitude of our public officials,” he said."
Preach, Reverend Ike, preach!

Of course, Marc Elrich, commonly derided as Montgomery County's most dangerous politician, completely missed the point of voters' intentions and said that he was seriously considering a run for county executive now that he's been term limited from the council.  This is of course the same Marc Elrich who famously wanted to partner with Venezuela's completely failed and morally reprehensible regime.  Fortunately, Leggett was able to righteously put the kibosh on that nonsense, all the way from Israel.
“[To say] I was pretty animated would be an understatement, I guess,” chuckles the low-key Leggett, who found out about Elrich’s plan while on a trip to Israel and quickly quashed it. “I was pretty upset.”
Tell it to the people, Reverend Ike!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Dear Santa Ike

The city of Takoma Park has sent a letter to the county requesting assistance with its wish for a pool at the Washington Adventist Hospital site.  Although it does acknowledge the inevitability of the Piney Branch pool being replaced by expanded school space, the whole thing is still impractical and reads like a children's letter (Dear Santa, We've been a very naughty municipality this year but would still like to have a brand new pool.  Can you please help us?  You're the best, Santa!  P.S.  Our friends who have demonstrated that they have no interest in maintaining pools would like a new pool, too!).  Among other things, the letter actually states that the county's spiffy new aquatics center won't meet the needs of "Takoma Park/East Silver Spring" residents.  Yeah, because who could be bothered to walk five minutes across downtown Silver Spring?

Anyway, Ike Leggett, unlike most Takoma Park politicos, is a reasonable person, so hopefully the county will just ignore this nonsense.  Then again, the letter mentions bond funding, so perhaps the city will just move ahead on its own then and bill residents.

The reasonable plan would be to trade the Piney Branch pool to allow for school expansion in exchange for Takoma Park residents finally being exempted from the county recreation line item, putting the city on par with Rockville and Gaithersburg after decades of city officials being unable to negotiate a reasonable deal.  An aquatics center could be placed at the recreation center in town, which is slated for demolition and redevelopment, thus facilitating redevelopment of New Hampshire Avenue and providing an amenity for Takoma Park/Langley Park residents, especially apartment residents.  The city and county should wait five years or so for the Purple Line to be ready to open and have a developer build the facility as part of a mixed-use development, similar to what the county has wisely done at the Elizabeth House site just down the road.  The former WAH site should be reserved for much more productive uses. 

Ike Leggett, unlike Takoma Park politicos, actually believes in smart growth.