Friday, January 8, 2016

Granola Park

Granola Park, the obsessive dissection of Takoma Park City Council actions in the Voice, is celebrating, belatedly, its tenth anniversary.  Although the current version seems to represent the viewpoint of someone who doesn't leave a three-block radius of the municipal center, the earliest posts on its original blogger site are actually more informative about current events.

His original post from October 24, 2005 analyzes the then-concluding mayoral race between Seth Grimes and his opponent, a presumably nice and reasonable and politically and philosophically uninspired female candidate who was inevitably going to win because she wasn't going to offend the comfortable types who turn out and vote in municipal elections.  Geez, look how things have changed!

The second post, from the next day, provides an overview of decades of Takoma Park city politics in a few paragraphs.  Here's an even briefer summary - socially and politically conservative Adventists dominate city council for decades, are eventually replaced by Abbott and his acolytes ("Revolutionaries") in '80, Abbott unsurprisingly focuses on national issues and employs a confrontational style that galvanizes opposition, Abbott gets replaced by more practical types ("Moderates") and the city finally gets unified in one county, and then wannabe politicos try to curry favor and gain higher office by inefficiently spending city funds on feel-good projects that don't really benefit anyone because they don't really have any substantive plans (I added the last statement to describe pretty much everything that's happened in the last ten years.).

Bill Brown spends most of the rest of the post being flummoxed by the emergence of a new group of residents and activists that didn't fit nicely in his reductionistic dichotomy -
In the last few years however, we have seen the growth of a new faction. They hold a very odd position, considering local politics. They rail against excess spending and high taxes like traditional conservative Republicans would, yet they support liberal causes as much if not more-so than traditional progressive Democrats. In fact their candidate Seth Grimes says that as mayor he would be more pro-active in pursuing an environmental agenda for the city than Kathy has been. One of this faction's criticism of the Community Center construction, besides the cost overruns and mismanagement, is that the building is not sufficiently "green."

So the opposition to the mayor comes not from the Revolutionary left this time, its from the . . . . well, it's from the right and left - these people are progressive fiscal conservatives. Scratch your head over that one for while, especially when you consider that these Pro-Cons are attacking Kathy for being a tax-and-spend moderate. Kind of bends your mind in donut shapes, doesn't it?
Umm, no.  These residents, many of whom had technical backgrounds, wanted to see the application of evidence and reason to both political issues and local expenditures, whereas their opponents were more inclined to offer feel-good rhetoric and inefficient appropriations for window-dressing.  If one must insist on convenient labels, then it's more a matter of bleeding hearts vs. technocrats or lawyers and politicos vs. scientists and engineers.  And we all know which side is more numerous in Takoma Park.   


  1. Thanks for noting our ten-year effort to cover the city council. Note the extensive response to your post in the Feb. 11 Granolapark -

    Scroll down to the "It's all about US" sub-title.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check it out. Did you see Tony Camilli's post on Greater Greater Washington about Takoma Park residents and Montgomery College redevelopment? It's really good, and the comments there are great.