Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ike leggett gets an earful from me

Well, I got what I wanted: County Executive Ike Leggett knows who I am and now he might actually be scared.

I went to Ike Leggett's Town Hall Meeting in Chevy Chase last night, attended by a standing-room-only crowd that spilled into the lobby of the Leland Community Center. A number of big MoCo names were there, including Del. Bill Bronrott (D-16), Dr. Dana Beyer and scandalized former Planning Board Chairman Derick Berlage.

After hearing all the Civic Association presidents complain about "overdevelopment" and "high-rises" - my favorite was the woman who wanted the State to compensate her for building the Purple Line next to her condominium, even though she wasn't losing any property - I had an opportunity to tell Ike Leggett what I think of him. This is what I said to him, taken as best as I can from memory:

"Mr. Leggett, my name is Dan Reed and I have lived in Silver Spring since I was three. I go to school in College Park, and I worked in Bethesda. I am one of those people who would benefit from the Purple Line, but all I have heard from your campaign this year is about how development needs to be stopped and how we need to place building moratoriums in the County, and it still takes me an hour-and-a-half to get to work in the morning.

"It's why all of these people here voted for you, but it is not a solution. I want to hear that you are committed to better transit in Montgomery County, because the only way we'll deal with this traffic is by improving the infrastructure."

No one applauded for me. A lot of people were staring at me as if I'd just dropped the F-bomb. But this is Chevy Chase: the Purple Line is unsafe political territory, but it was the white elephant in the room tonight. A number of people brought it up, whether they were for or against it. This is the number one issue in Montgomery County right now, but no politician here or on the State level seems to want to fully tackle it.

"I thought we covered this during the campaign," Ike said, eliciting a timid laugh from the audience. He went on to explain that "we do not have the resources" to build the Purple Line, but that it was not going to solve the traffic problem alone. He had a plan, he said - "slowing the rate of development," "providing additional mass transit," and "other solutions." "We cannot simply build our way out of this," he said, "and, young man, for you to say that the Purple Line will fix all our traffic problems is fine, but it will not."

"With all due respect, Mr. Leggett," I answered back, "that's not what I inferred."

I think he was a little taken aback, because he just repeated what he'd said earlier and went on to the next person. A photographer from the Washington Informer took down my name and, later, a photograph of me introducing myself to Ike after the meeting.

"I just wanted to say 'hi'," I said. "I know who you are," Leggett said, not too enthused. "I hope you hear from me again," I responded. (Whoops! My bad.) "I mean - until I can ride that train, you should expect to hear from me."

Something pushed me away. Maybe it was the crowd of people seeking a second with him - the woman who'd asked me to take a picture of the two of them together - but I made my way out, stopping to say "hi" to a few loyal readers.

This is the beginning of the next four years in Montgomery County. Everything I feared about our new County Executive is true: he is as patronizing and wishy-washy as any politician capable of earning the title "Nice Guy" can be, but so long as he wants to listen to what we have to say, I am going to keep my promise to Ike Leggett.

second in a week of features at Just Up The Pike.

19 comments:

urbannomad said...

I'm with you. I can't stand all these no-growth elitist. We got ours, screw everyone else. The growth of this area is what is providing all these Montgomery county elitist with their high-paying jobs and nice homes. Yet at the same time they are saying new people not welcome, go somewhere else, I don't care where just not here. Talk about hypocrisy. Of course we are going to experience growing pains but that just means that we might actually have to plan and put a little effort into transportation and better planning... not 0 growth, that just isn't a reality. God forbid politicians actually have to do their job, or do SOMETHING for that matter.

As for the purple line, it alone will not "cure" all of the transportation problems of the county, but it is a start in the right direction and another option that will help alleviate traffic. There is no single solution, be it 1 new road, 1 highway, 1 subway line, etc... but that doesn't mean we shouldn't build any of these because they can't single-handedly cure such an enormous issue. Politicians are such as joke. I know I'd rather live near a purple line stop then a new freeway or major surface road. Unlike the latter 2, metro stations actually INCREASE property values.

MoCo said...

Dan, if your architecture skills are as creative as your writing, then you won't need the purple line after you gradulate. That's because instead of commuting to Bethesda, you'll be living there. And three to five years after graduating, affordable housing won't be a problem for you, either, because you'll be earning enough to afford a house in Bethesda or at least in Rockville.

MoCo said...

And one more thought, Dan. When you move to Bethesda or Rockville, you'll feel completely different about the purple line (and a lot of other things). If I'm wrong, lunch is on me.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Purple line will alleviate any traffic - People that use the Purple Line are people that already don't drive their cars anyway!

thecourtyard said...

Moco - I know many people who live in Bethesda and Rockville who support the Purple Line. It, like all transportation projects in Montgomery County, has supporters and detractors all over the place because of their regional impact. I don't intend to write off Bethesda just because I encountered a few selfish people at the meeting last night.

And thank you for your support! I hope I can have a good job and be able to live near it as well, though I don't know if it'll be in Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous writer from earlier - I currently do not ride the Metro but would love to be able to take the Purple Line to work. I live in Silver Spring and work in Rockville - it takes an hour and a half to take public transport one way. With a purple line, I might be able to take public transport and be one less car on the road in the morning (can't take the bus b/c of motion sickness issues)

Anonymous said...

urbannomad said...
I'm with you. I can't stand all these no-growth elitist. We got ours, screw everyone else. The growth of this area is what is providing all these Montgomery county elitist with their high-paying jobs and nice homes. Yet at the same time they are saying new people not welcome, go somewhere else, I don't care where just not here. Talk about hypocrisy. Of course we are going to experience growing pains but that just means that we might actually have to plan and put a little effort into transportation and better planning... not 0 growth, that just isn't a reality. God forbid politicians actually have to do their job, or do SOMETHING for that matter.

As for the purple line, it alone will not "cure" all of the transportation problems of the county, but it is a start in the right direction and another option that will help alleviate traffic. There is no single solution, be it 1 new road, 1 highway, 1 subway line, etc... but that doesn't mean we shouldn't build any of these because they can't single-handedly cure such an enormous issue. Politicians are such as joke. I know I'd rather live near a purple line stop then a new freeway or major surface road. Unlike the latter 2, metro stations actually INCREASE property values.

11/29/2006 7:13 AM

RE: You may not want to live near a Freeway but there are several people that don't mind living near a freeway, just look at all the people that live in thoes high rise apartment/condos along the I-395 Expressway in Arlington/Alexandria.

Anonymous said...

Why settle for the expensive, slow, and neighborhood-dividing Purple Line when even better technologies exist, waiting to be applied to this problem? Do you want to have to wait for a train, wait at each intermediate stop, and only be able to ride during limited hours of operation?

Instead, think forward.

Anonymous said...

Go Dan go.

Did you notice how Mr. Leggett felt the need to adress you as "young man" in front of a group of people who are likely in their 50's & above? This was his way of putting you in your place among his supporters.

Since you were talking about what could be inferred, you could have retorted "Mr. Leggett, do you mean that since I am considerably younger than most of the people in the room that my contrary opinion is unimportant or that 'when I get older' I'll see it your way?".

What a fool. No, the purple line won't solve everything, but it sure as hell would help transit and further concentrate higher density development where it belongs: around transit stations.

Anonymous said...

In the first sentence of your posting you speculate that Ike Leggett might be afraid of you. That's absolutely hilarious and a tribute to your own inflated sense of importance. Leggett grew up in grinding poverty, worked his way through college doing manual labor, was arrested for leading civil rights protests in the "Jim Crow" era in the South, was decorated for valor in combat in Viet Nam, survived multiple heart bypass surgery, won election by a landslide despite being outspent by more than two to one, etc. And you think he may be afraid of you?

Anonymous said...

That is FUNNY thinking that somebody like Ike "might be afraid" of YOU! What exactly is the reason he might be afraid?

Waremouse said...

The reaction of self-serving NIMBY's like those in Bethesda sounds a lot like the resistance the richer neighborhoods in LA had to the extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica. And now many of those same people are screaming for it since Wilshire is a parking lot. This Leggett sounds like a real jerk. Hope he doesn't screw up MoCo too bad.

thecourtyard said...

So Ike Leggett grew up in grinding poverty? Why did I see him kow-towing to the wealthy elite in Chevy Chase two nights ago? Why didn't he have any real ideas for affordable housing at the forum in August?

I don't care if Ike grew up poor, because I've seen his house in Burtonsville - he's come pretty far, and I doubt he's got an idea of how the poor in Montgomery County are living now.

Maybe statements like that "scare Ike Leggett." I don't know if you can detect a tongue-in-cheek remark, because you might have just missed one - big-time.

Anonymous said...

thecourtyard, and please tell us now, how YOU would know how the poor in Montgomery County live?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Go Dan go.

Did you notice how Mr. Leggett felt the need to adress you as "young man" in front of a group of people who are likely in their 50's & above? This was his way of putting you in your place among his supporters.

Since you were talking about what could be inferred, you could have retorted "Mr. Leggett, do you mean that since I am considerably younger than most of the people in the room that my contrary opinion is unimportant or that 'when I get older' I'll see it your way?".

What a fool. No, the purple line won't solve everything, but it sure as hell would help transit and further concentrate higher density development where it belongs: around transit stations.

11/30/2006 8:12 AM

RE: If that was soo true then why are they trying to stop development in White Flint, Rockville, Shady Grove, and why are they continuing to delay development around most of the subway stations in PG County??????

Anonymous said...

thecourtyard said...
So Ike Leggett grew up in grinding poverty? Why did I see him kow-towing to the wealthy elite in Chevy Chase two nights ago? Why didn't he have any real ideas for affordable housing at the forum in August?

I don't care if Ike grew up poor, because I've seen his house in Burtonsville - he's come pretty far, and I doubt he's got an idea of how the poor in Montgomery County are living now.

Maybe statements like that "scare Ike Leggett." I don't know if you can detect a tongue-in-cheek remark, because you might have just missed one - big-time.

11/30/2006 2:13 PM

RE: Is it me or are you one of those Maryland hating Closet Racist.

Anonymous said...

Building the purple line won't end the traffic problems in MoCo, nor will building the Inter County Connector. Together, they are a start at addressing the congestion. If we don't do ANYTHING, then soon it will take me 1 hour + to drive the 8 miles from my house to work. What used to take 20-30 max now takes 30-45 at 7am.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Building the purple line won't end the traffic problems in MoCo, nor will building the Inter County Connector. Together, they are a start at addressing the congestion. If we don't do ANYTHING, then soon it will take me 1 hour + to drive the 8 miles from my house to work. What used to take 20-30 max now takes 30-45 at 7am.

12/01/2006 1:25 PM

RE: MY Suggestions are:

Build the Inter-County Connector, Techway, and M-83 so commuters don't have to clog up the surface streets.

Build the Purple Line as a Heavy Rail Subway but the Line will be built as mostly an underground along East West Highway(between New Carrolton and Hyattsville), Riggs Roads, University Boulevard(Langly Park), New Hampshire Avenue(Between Langley Park and White Oak), US 29(Between White Oak and Downtown Silver Spring), East West Highway(Between Silver Spring and Bethesda), Old Georgetown Road, Demarcasy Boulevard to Montgomery Mall via Rockledge Business Park.

I know people will question the finance but the way I view it is that if Virginia can fund the Springfield Interchange, Wilson Bridge via Beltway Widening, Dulles Toll Road Extension to Leesburg, I-66 and I-95 widening, and the Silver Line Subway to Louden County then Maryland can get help with funding the Purple Line as a Subway, the Inter-County Connector, etc.

Alex said...

Not all of us in Bethesda are anti-growth and anti-purple line. I think Ike Legget is a simpleton incapable of understanding the dynamics of the county's job market and transportation issues. When has ending growth ever improved anything? We need the purple line to significantly reduce congestion in MoCo. The red line does almost nothing for intercounty transport, so the purple line is a must. I definately think it should be heavy rail as well.