Tuesday, August 8, 2006

a bus ride with steve silverman

Steve Silverman poses for pictures on his way to the bus stall at the Silver Spring Metro. To see more of Silverman's bus tour, check out Just Up The Pike's "Purple Line" slideshow, featuring this and other explorations of the proposed transitway with local politicians and concerned residents.

Today, I joined Steve Silverman, his campaign manager, two volunteers, three guys from the Action Committee for Transit, a few Washington Post reporters (including the new Dr. Gridlock) and a cadre of photographers for a tour of the Purple Line from Langley Park to Bethesda via the Ride On 15 and Metrobus J3, two of the umpteen bus routes currrently serving that corridor. We met in a parking lot in Langley Park, surrounded by day laborers waiting to be picked up as the sun glowed a deep red above us. The first thing I thought upon seeing him for the first time was that he, like most politicians, is a lot shorter in person.

At 6:40 we followed the regulars onto a cramped Ride On bus headed towards Silver Spring. This was an actual bus - actually crowded with people who weren't all too happy to see a group of loud people with cameras join them on their morning commute. Silverman was especially chatty for this hour, which I appreciate in a politician. I peppered him with questions about the redevelopment that will occur along the Purple Line, which both he and the ACT guys discussed rather casually. "What do you say to the people who might be displaced by the redevelopment the Purple Line will cause?" I asked Silverman. "They're riding this bus right now."

Silverman responded with the standard MoCo Democrat piece about requiring affordable housing in each new development. He said this to me, not to the predominantly Latino crowd on the bus. A few minutes later, Steve tried to engage one guy in conversation, but he was more than unwilling to talk. One of the photographers was fluent in Spanish, meaning the guy might have taken him seriously - but wouldn't even give his name. What I wanted to say later on but never got a chance to was that certain immigrants are afraid to give out their information (for obvious reasons), and being accosted by a group of white people with a camera - on a bus, no less - doesn't seem too inviting.

But that's okay. There is a huge divide between these immigrant and lower-income communities - Langley Park, White Oak, Briggs Chaney - and The Rest of Montgomery County, and I gotta give Steve Silverman his due for at least trying to talk to the guy. Between he and Leggett he's the only one who's going to get these people off the bus, and that's what matters.

I asked Steve if he was familiar with the County Council Can-Can ("Steve, they made you a cockroach!") and he said no, instead suggesting that the Neighbors might have a little too much free time. "I'd be perfectly happy to discuss the issues with them," he said. (I really hope they take him up on that, by the way.)

At 7:05 the bus pulls into the Silver Spring Metro, where we were to meet a reporter from Channel 7, who missed us in Langley Park. I love the ambiance of the Silver Spring station as it, like all great urban places, forces a diverse array of people to be in contact with each other - sloppy skater kids, homeless people, rushed commuters, and politicians eager for a good photo op - or dozens of photo ops. I swear there was a camera going off with every step Steve took. We spent fifteen minutes at the entrance of the Metro as Steve shook hands with potential voters and talked to State Delegate Gareth Murray and County Council hopeful Tufail Ahmad. Silverman was also interviewed by the Channel 7 reporter, who was just a guy with a camera. Judging from that I'm guessing this will be on the evening news, but as nothing more than a minute-long piece. It just goes to show how much the TV media cares about something as un-sexy as public transit.

"What about the reporter from the Washington Hispanic?" one of the volunteers asked as Steve gets on the J3 to Bethesda. "We'll catch him at Bethesda," he responded. What? I thought. Given the predominantly-Hispanic communities the Purple Line passes through, don't you want as much press from the region's biggest Spanish-language publication as possible? Bad move, Steve.

Finally, we're on the J3, and moving a little faster than I normally do by myself. Judy Jablow, Silverman's campaign manager, tried to get him to look at his own billboard at Colesville and East-West Highway (which reads Want The Purple Line? Vote Steve Silverman . . .), but he's too busy talking to the Post reporter to notice. The cameras are still going off and our fellow passengers are all cowering, much as they were in Langley Park. I sat next to Richard Hoye from ACT, who was looking over some aerial photos of the Purple Line route provided by the campaign with a volunteer. I asked Richard if building this is as difficult as Robert Flanagan says it is. "No," he said. "This could have been built years ago." When asked about the Columbia Country Club, he said that their legal argument was "dead" and that they are now "on the defensive." If you remember, their lawsuit against using the Georgetown Branch for light rail went to the Supreme Court and lost all those years go. It was nice to hear something hopeful about the Purple Line.

I was in good spirits when the Silverman campaign hopped off the J3 in Bethesda, imbued with some skepticism about Silverman's personality (it's true: he is a bit self-possessed) but optimistic about his commitment to the Purple Line. The three women sitting across from me, who had been caught in the fray a few minutes earlier, were livid. "They were here Monday takin' pictures and I'm tired of that shit," one said. "They don't know me! I don't look good, and they're takin' pictures."

In closing: I left Langley Park at 6:40 this morning and did not arrive in Bethesda until 8:00. Discounting the twenty minutes we spent in Silver Spring, that is an hour-long commute to go six miles. This compares to my own commute from Calverton to Bethesda, which is an hour to go ten miles. Those numbers should speak for themselves.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

You said "most immigrants are afraid to give out their information (for obvious reasons) . . "

I know lots of immigrants, and I strongly doubt that any of them would be any more afraid to give out their name than a non-immigrant. I have four relatives who are immigrants, and I have dozens of co-workers who are immigrants, and I can assure you that every one of them would have been pleased to have been interviewed and would have happily give their name.

Just why would an immigrant, who has typically waited several years to gain permanent residence (and often, citizenship) be afraid to give their name?

Or are you confusing illegal aliens with immigrants?

Anonymous said...

I assume that's the same Tufail Ahmad who has endorsed Ike Leggett for County Executive? By the way, I agree with the previous poster.

Rfustero said...

Was there any mention of Thayer Avenue and Sligo Avenue, and the destruction of parts of Sligo Creek, and the destruction of over 80 trees and acres of parkland, and the possibility of a bridge over Piney Branch Road and the displacement of people who were not on the bus but live in downtown Silver Spring not Langley Park---- Another misleading photo op--

thecourtyard said...

I changed it to say "certain immigrants" as I am uncomfortable using the term "illegal aliens" as I don't know what the guy on the bus was and this wasn't what I was even talking about.

Mr. Fustero - I heard some chatter about homes in East Silver Spring, but no real mention of the environmental damage. I'll admit I wasn't impressed by Silverman's answer to the "displacement" question, but it really wasn't enough to sway me.

Anonymous said...

Please try to get your facts right. Judy Jablow is NOT Steve's campaign manager. Chuck Westover is the campaign manager. And can't you put up a good picture of Steve; we can supply one for you.

Anonymous said...

Tufail Ahmad has actually given equally to both candidates for County Executive. If you happen to referring to Ike Leggett's flawed flyer, there are many people on there who have said that they are not supporting Ike.

thecourtyard said...

The materials I was given by the campaign had Judy Jablow listed as campaign manager. In fact, I believe she introduced herself to me as such. As for the picture - I have higher-quality ones taken with an actual camera I will be putting up later today.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I get it now. The Purple line will bring the day laborers and domestic workers to Bethesda and Potomac so that they can work for cash, tax free, of course.

How innovative!

Anonymous said...

The Silverman campaign is telling lies again. Tufail Ahmad HAS endorsed Leggett; if you have any doubts just ask Mr. Ahmad. And if you want to claim that there are people on the Leggett list who don't support Ike, let's have the names, Steve.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Westover quit the campaign? I guess he was smart enough to see it was hopeless and moved on to greener pastures. And I guess that Silverman is hoping nobody will notice. So where is Westover now?

Anonymous said...

If you look at the campaign finance reports, you'll notice that Chuck Westover gets paid more than Judy Jablow (and still does). The campaign is still paying him so I doubt that he's left.

montgomery slacker said...

You sat next to Richard Hoye! Yay!

Years ago we spotted Rich as rode around with a trailer decorated with lots of flags and a large stuffed animal hitched to his bike. He's recently been spotted in Bethesda with a huge, oversized Duchy for Council billboard in tow...

Is he a great guy to help reach the rank and file voter, or what!

Anonymous said...

How is Silverman going to pay for his promises?

Anonymous said...

I'm a Leggett supporter who wants to make two points. First, Silverman's campaign finance reports list payments to a payroll service, not individuals. But thanks for the insight that Steve pays his female campaign manager less than her male subordinate. Second, while I would be greatly pleased if the Silverman campaign lost a valuable asset like Mr. Westover, it hasn't. The confusion comes from the fact that he and Ms. Jablow have used many different job titles, sometimes using the same one. In any event, I have it from a good source that Chuck is still on the job...and that Judy may be asking for a raise

Russ said...

FWIW - Chuck Westover is Silverman's political director, not campaign manager.

Anonymous said...

Also FWIW . . . it will be near impossible for Steve Silverman to build the Purple Line. It needs state and federal funding, and he has attacked the positions of our next Governor (Martin O'Malley) and our current Representative Chris Van Hollen. Ike Leggett stands with O'Malley and Van Hollen on the need to build the Purple Line CORRECTLY, and thus is the only candidate who will actually be able to build the thing.

Anonymous said...

Tufail Ahmad has endorsed Ike Leggett. So has Progressive Maryland. And the Hispanic Democrats. And the Carpenters. And the Retiress Union. And the firefighters. And the Sierra Club. And those former Deaniacs over at Democracy for America. And the Green Democrats. And MCGEO. And the Gazette. And Tom Perez, Marylin Praisner, Phil Andrews, and Mike Subin. And both previous County Executives. And Congressman Al Wynn. And more than 2,400 other individuals and organizations. Silverman has also received many endorsements, but there is simply no comparison here.

Anonymous said...

I think it's very interesting that Steve Silverman is trying to own the Purple Line. I know that Ike Leggett also supports the Purple Line, but he wants to build it in a way that will have the least negative impact on residents. It's why people love Ike, because he always listens to everyone's concerns and never ignores us.

Anonymous said...

You all are funny. The only way the purple line will get built is Silverman's way. That's why all the transit activists are supporting him.

Steve's been endorsed by the police, the firefighters, the SEIU, the chamber of commerce, the mcps retirees association, the college democrats, as well as Nancy Floreen, Mike Knapp, and countless Senators and Delegates as well as city councilpeople... plus Congressman Mike Barnes.

There is simply no comparison here.

Anonymous said...

Well, I mean, there is a comparison. That is 6 county organizations that have endorsed silverman (two of which, the retirees and college dems, also endorsed leggett). But let's leave it at 6. I count 15 for Ike. You listed 2 Councilmembers that have endorsed Steve. 4 have endorsed Ike. 2 people who have actually DONE THIS JOB endorse Ike. 0 for Steve. 1 United States Congressman has endorsed Ike. 0 for Steve (although he does have support of a former congressman). The major newspaper that covers Montgomery County endorsed Ike. I'm not trying to pile on Silverman here, but to imply that they are even on endorsements is just false.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, you would never know who Ike has been endorsed by if you didn't read the blogs. Even his website doesn't have all the information! If he wants my vote, he needs to TRY TO GET IT. With his signs and mailings, I can tell that Silverman really wants the job, which I appreciate.

Anonymous said...

Please! Steve is able to do all those signs and mailings because he's been given MILLIONS OF DOLLARS by developers who want him to get elected to pave the way (pardon a pun) for more rapid, unsustainable development and more profit for them! Those mailers aren't a sign that Steve wants the job more than Ike, they're a sign that the developers want him to have the job more than they want Ike! Wake up!

Anonymous said...

Is that poster (2:03) kidding? Those mailers cost lots of money! The fact that Steve sends more isn't a sign that he wants your vote more, it's a sign that he's got lots of special interest bucks. And those signs you talk about are on developer property! LOL!

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like you are bitter that you are candidate is in the red financially and has such a weak campaign structure that he doesn't even publicize his own endorsements.

Anonymous said...

"in the red financially"? Let's see what the upcoming finance reports say. And I agree that Ike has less money than Steve...because Ike isn't in the pocket of developers. I think it's funny that a few weeks ago the Silverman folks were bragging about their endorsements, and now that Ike is blowing them out of the water, they complain he isn't publicizing the endorsements enough. If Ike walked on water, Silverman would say "See, he can't swim."

Anonymous said...

Leggett and his cronies have always criticized Silverman's campaigns for having too many paid staffers and too many young volunteers. Now, Leggett's LACK of a campaign staff/base of young, dedicated volunteers has been brought out into the light for all to see.

Anonymous said...

First, you criticize Ike for having a small staff. Then, you criticize him for brining on extra help at the busiest time for the campaign. What do you want from him??

Anonymous said...

I think I see where the confusion lies. Ike Leggett has been running his campaign with a small staff that is primarily volunteer-based for a year and a half. Some commenters have pointed out that Silverman has relied largely on paid staff (not that there's anything wrong with that), and this apparently upset Silverman's folks as it implied that they don't have grassroots volunteers. Now that Ike is bringing some young people on to help with the final push, Steve's people are trying to say this is a sign of not having grassroots support, which is of course spurious because this support has been a hallmark of his campaign and has kept him ahead in the polls despite being outspent by more than 10 to 1! Major grassroots organizations (Democracy for Montgomery, Progressive Maryland, etc.) have endorsed Ike.
Now, there is nothing wrong with a campaign, any campaign, paying people to help. But the fact is that Ike's campaign has been PRIMARILY volunteer-based while Steve's has been PRIMARILY staff-based. Every campaign wants to have the image of being "grass-roots" . . . Ike's actually is. No offense to anyone in here, but that's just a fact.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a better title for your article would be "Steve Silverman's very first bus ride"

Anonymous said...

You "commuted" from Langley Park to Bethesda, but I have to ask:

Why would anyone who works in Bethesda live in Langley Park?

If you work in Bethesda, you should be getting paid enough to afford to live within short driving distance of the west side of the Metro red line. Put another way, no sensible person would live in Langley Park if they work in Bethesda.

Perhaps those professionals who live in Langley Park ought to demand a raise from their Bethesda employers, or find jobs closer to home.

Rfustero said...

Perhaps Silverman and all pro-Purple Line supporters should contact Robert Roseberg at rosyjapan@yahoo.com, and arrange a walking tour of the Purple Line.

It will offer a better view of the environmental damage that will
ensue when this monstrosity is built.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"no sensible person would live in Langley Park if they work in Bethesda"

People who clean the offices after hours in Bethesda can't afford to live nearby...

montgomery slacker said...

Did Steve comment on Han Reimer's position that the Purple line should be underground "for some distance" east of Silver Spring.

fred said...

I agree with Robin Ficker that a Metro line to Germantown makes more sense than another Metro line from Silver Spring ti P.G. County.

fred said...

I agree with Robin Ficker that a Metro line to Germantown makes more sense than another Metro line from Silver Spring ti P.G. County.

Anonymous said...

Every governor in the state will be asking Governor O'Malley for transportation money.

How effective will Ike Leggett be in bringing in money for the Purple Line by saying "Please build it, but not yet -- we need to wait until I can convince the NIMBYs to support it"?

Anonymous said...

Oops!

Every county in the state will be asking Governor O'Malley for transportation money.

How effective will Ike Leggett be in bringing in money for the Purple Line by saying "Please build it, but not yet -- we need to wait until I can convince the NIMBYs to support it"?

Anonymous said...

A different Anonymous said:

"People who clean the offices after hours in Bethesda can't afford to live nearby..."

Well in that case, how about if we put more "affordable housing" in Bethesda, and adopt a living wage so that people are not exploited?

After all, if affordable housing is okay in Gaithersburg, isn't it okay in Bethesda?

Anonymous said...

Leggett will be a lot more successful asking Governor O'Malley for money, because O'Malley supports the same plan that Leggett does. Also, Leggett didn't "talk trash" about O'Malley the way Silverman did when Duncan was still in the race. And please remember that the Maryland Legislature is controlled by the very same Democrats who picked Ike to run the Maryland Dem Party. [I'm really not sure what you meant by "every governor' in the state will be asking for money. Maybe next year in Civics class you'll learn about all that, too]

Anonymous said...

He corrected himself.

thecourtyard said...

Anonymous 3:57, 4:03 & 4:16 - Let me reiterate: six miles in one hour. That's how long it takes to get from Prince George's County to Bethesda during rush hour.

I can see an entrenched racism in your remarks and the remarks of a number of people on here who seem to blanch at the idea of all those people of color speeding to Bethesda. Hey, unless you want to wash your own damn windows, why don't you cut these people a break?

Cut up and stabbed said...

let's get a lot of guys with their machetes and fellow MS l3 gang members in Bethesda!

Anonymous said...

Go steve he is way better than ike, ike is some slum