Thursday, March 19, 2009

rob goldman: bringing it back to burtonsville

Part THREE in our series of interviews with candidates in the County Council special election. For more information, check out Rob Goldman's campaign website.

Rob Goldman at the Burtonsville Starbucks.

Rob Goldman's biggest concern, like many East County residents, is his commute. He spends an hour and a half each way going to his law office in Bethesda daily. "You get to work and you're exhausted," says the Burtonsville resident and Pittsburgh native. "You're stressed and you wonder 'why do I live in this area?'" He’s trying to convince his grandparents to move down from Pennsylvania, but they're worried about the traffic. "They'll wait until they can't drive anymore, then they'll come," he jokes.

He knows, however, that many residents have it even worse. "I have some people in my neighborhood who take the bus at McKnew Road and 198, and on the weekend, that bus doesn't run. So they have to walk over a half-mile to Burtonsville Crossing to ride the bus."

And for all their troubles, people on the east side don’t get a lot of recognition from Goldman’s colleagues in Bethesda, where “they have everything where they are,” he laments. “They just see the environmental impacts of the Purple Line,” says Goldman. “They don't see the traffic improvements, the environmental impacts that congestion causes . . . but the benefits for people who live in District 4 outweigh the harm."

Goldman feels the same way about the InterCounty Connector. "It'll make our lives better,” he says. “Listen, this was thirty years of planning and thirty years of study. It wasn't something that was entered into lightly. It's something that had to be done. I see the construction on my way to work and I anxiously wait its completion.”

With a lack of things in town and little public transportation to get them out of town, Burtonsville residents are “kind of isolated,” Goldman says, and he’d like to see the area built up more. "There has to be something that makes people who live in Burtonsville want to stay in the area. Burtonsville can't just be the place between Silver Spring and Columbia, but it is . . . there’s nothing that's unique about Burtonsville.”

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

Goldman holds up urban neighborhoods like the Kentlands in Gaithersburg as examples of what he'd like to see in East County.

“Whenever we go somewhere on the weekends, it's not Burtonsville,” says Goldman. “It's Downtown Silver Spring, it's Kentlands [in Gaithersburg] . . . they're developed areas that attract a lot of people. It decreases the stress on the infrastructure.”

Not only that, but having things close by decreases the stress of people in a community already grappling with bigger issues. "My neighbors have lost their homes, my other neighbors are worred about their property values going down,” Goldman says. “There are other people who have lost their jobs. There's been an increase in crime in our community. People have legitimate concerns. They shouldn't have to worry about getting to work, or County services or shopping."

"I think that any growth is positive. We need to make sure that there's suitable roads, suitable housing, suitable economic development," says Goldman. "Anything that'll make people's lives easier is something we should support."

That being said, however, Goldman expresses some concern about development in other parts of the county. “We can't keep developing Silver Spring or Rockville or Bethesda. We have to show that District 4 matters,” he says. “The other candidates are from 'larger areas' in District 4, but we also need to pay attention to the Burtonsvilles, the Ashtons, the Olneys.”

Aside from transportation and development, the biggest issue in District 4, says Goldman, is home foreclosures, noting that over a hundred homes have been foreclosed in the district just in the fourth quarter of 2008. “We need to provide foreclosure assistance. The County had some classes, but they weren't well publicized,” he says. “We need to make sure people keep their jobs. We need to make sure the businesses in this area stay and don't close.”

Over the past year, Goldman has taken an increased interest in local crime. He’s been attending meetings of the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, and is active on his homeowners’ association. "Our police force is overtaxed and they work hard, and I think they're doing a great job,” says Goldman. “But we need more citizen involvement, neighborhood watches . . . I know that in my area there have been some security meetings. There have been some property crimes and we need to get more involved in protecting our houses."

However, Goldman expresses dismay at County Executive Ike Leggett’s recent decision to allow police officers to check the immigration status of arrested individuals. “We need to discourage using local police for federal immigration enforcement,” he says. “We don't have the resources.”

Kids stealing a cart full of stuff in Downtown Silver Spring.

A frequent visitor to Downtown Silver Spring with his family, Goldman has “never had a problem” there, but he’d like to see something done about the ongoing complaints of violence and lewd behavior on Ellsworth Drive. “Knowing that there are problems and at specific times, we need to focus more law enforcement resources on that time of day,” he says, suggesting that store owners should be more vigilant as well. “We can get things under control . . . there are violent acts and there are people who need to be watched and we can use what happened as a learning tool."

As a lawyer, Goldman feels his “common sense approach” to the issue will benefit County residents. “I've represented my clients' best interests for eleven years and I don't think there's a difference in representing the Council,” he says. “I can't ignore what the reality of the situation is. I don't take this lightly."

"I think there are very different times we haven't had challenges like this our generation,” he continues. “I take a different approach. I haven't been enmeshed in County politics for years and I have a positive outlook on bringing appropriate changes where necessary.”

No matter what, Goldman says, he’s committed to his community. “I'm from Burtonsville . . . I think that too often in the past Burtonsville and Ashton and Brinklow haven't gotten the attention that we need and are entitled to,” he says. “A lot of people that I speak with don't even know that Burtonsville is in Montgomery County.”

Goldman laments there isn't enough to make Burtonsville "unique."

“I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't have concerns,” says Goldman. “I have two kids who are going to be three in a few weeks. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't want to make sure they're safe, they had good schools, they had places to go."

And he’d like to offer his children the same quality of life he had growing up in Pittsburgh. “Growing up in Pittsburgh, it was safe outside, I could go to a good public school, and I want to make sure we have the same advantages . . . I wouldn't have done this if I were still in Columbia or Atlanta, but I feel a real connection here, I want to serve, and I want to make Montgomery County better."

1 comment:

Thomas Hardman said...

A focus on Burtonsville would indicate a focus on District 4, since places like Burtonsville, Sandy Spring/Ashton, and even Brinklow are really representative of what makes District 4 really different from, say, District 5.

But I wonder if the esteemed counselor is aware of who, exactly, has most been getting foreclosed in District 4?

You just have to pick up a copy of the Montgomery County Sentinel and start reading the legal notices, especially the trustee sale and final judgement notices. The legal notices are "all about the same" other than the addresses and the names of the people losing their homes.

Go to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Real Property Data website, and research those addresses. A picture begins to form.

An awful lot of those places were bought at or close to the peak of the construction boom and the housing boom. Many of those properties have all of the signatures of "flipping" and I deeply suspect that if we could access the data on the loan particular and the mortgage types, we'd find an awful lot of unqualified people getting help with all of the legal niceties of committing mortgage-fraud. Maryland ranks among the highest incidences of mortgage-fraud, especially the types where income statistics are inflated, the so-called "liar loans".

What you see when you look at a lot of these mortgages headed for foreclosure are a lot of people who simply should not have gotten those loans. Crying for the people facing foreclosure, thus, is very frequently crying for the exact people who brought us into the present economic calamity. Begging for "Relief" for them is a lot like begging for relief for someone in court for axe-murdering their parents, because they're an orphan. Once you know the facts, it's actual chutzpah.

But for those who were genuinely themselves defrauded by bogus "mortgage rescue" companies, there is a need for assistance and remedy, and the State of Maryland has already taken strong steps -- among the strongest in the nation -- towards this end.

As to opposing a policy of police making one phone call to ICE (actually, one online transaction) to determine immigration status of all persons already actually arrested and charged with a crime of violence or handgun violation, how is this straining the resources of the police or having our officers act as immigration agents?

We're not talking about taking officers off of patrols to go waste their time chasing down dishwashers, or tracking construction-boom workers who played fast-and-loose with their option-ARM mortgage financing. We're talking about simply adding one more tool to remove violent offenders from our streets.

My own positions on this are pretty well-known. Indeed, one of my letters to the editors of the Gazette requested about the exact policy now in place.

Mr Goldman must be commended for having a special place in his heart that wants to keep those mean old police from enforcing any laws at all against those poor poor illegal aliens, but once again, it's like begging the court for mercy for an orphan when the defendant is already at the dock accused of parricide.