Tuesday, February 13, 2007

george leventhal responds to the Neighbors

Part one of the second stop on Just Up The Pike's County Government Head-to-Head Tour. Part two, with the rest of our interview, will appear on Friday, the same day as our meeting with Ike Leggett.

Did County Councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large)really "interrogate" two of the Neighbors at a public hearing last month, as reported in Sunday's Post? Just Up The Pike asked Leventhal himself Monday afternoon at his office in Rockville. "I did not raise my voice, I did not lose my temper," Leventhal says, pointing out that he was simply trying to hold Jim Humphrey and Drew Powell, NeighborsPAC's leaders, to the language used in Where Are The Brakes?, their anti-developer treatise which we've blogged about before. Leventhal goes on to quote the following passage from the pamphlet:

"We must break from the traditional view that growth is inherently good, and that it always results in increased prosperity and quality of life for a populace. It is time to research, discuss, and create a plan to implement a new approach to improving the economic vitality of our businesses and a sustained high quality of life for Montgomery County residents--namely, sustainability or a steady state system."

A steady state system, which it seems was created to legitimize the NeighborsPAC brand of NIMBYism, would require that a home or job in Montgomery County to be removed in order for a new home or job to be created. "Well, who decides who loses their homes?" Leventhal argues.

"I totally dispute the idea," he adds. "I don't believe it. I don't think anybody in Montgomery County believes it but Jim Humphrey. It's their manifesto. If people knew that was [their goal], then their endorsement would lose value . . . and I just wanted to say that, but they wouldn't listen. It's a fantasy, and that's just what I'm trying to get across, but they won't pay attention.

"I speak with a lot of emphasis . . . [but] I didn't interrupt their testimony; I didn't see myself as prosecutorial."

How can the Post, which just a few days ago neatly laid out the facts surrounding the pro- and no-growth arguments, so quickly take sides with a NIMBY group? Should they believe the accusations of two men whose website depicts George Leventhal, the so-called aggressor, as a cockroach?

I wasn't at the public hearing where the "interrogation" took place, but I think things have been blown seriously out of proportion. Montgomery County residents should take a good, hard look at Where Are The Brakes? before they jump on the NIMBY bandwagon. The time for such divisive language may be gone, but the dishonest tactics of NeighborsPAC are long overdue for an exit as well.

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