Tuesday, May 29, 2012

on the commenting policy

I have no illusion that adults are always pleasant and courteous to each other in real life, let alone behind a computer screen where you don't even have to use your real name. I am no stranger to putting my foot in my mouth, whether online or in public. But I want JUTP to have a liberal commenting policy based on Greater Greater Washington's: make a thoughtful argument, no personal attacks, no anonymous comments.

Perhaps this was in vain. I very rarely delete comments, but recently I removed some on last Wednesday's post about the controversial Chelsea Court development from Jean Cavanaugh, president of the Seven Oaks-Evanswood Citizens' Association, earning me the ire of many of her neighbors.

At 1,110 words, her comments were far longer than my original, 840-word post. She also chose to open them by insulting me: "Fine, you are not a journalist, you are a blogger and you are promoting a particular point of view. Facts are apparently not important," Jean wrote. 

What followed were a list of corrections, most of which I happily fixed here and on GGW. Then I e-mailed Jean, explaining that I deleted her comments but made the corrections, and offered to let her write a guest post. I also explained what I did in the comments.

Jean's response: I was just an "onlooker who [is] quick to label others who don't agree with them" and that she was "sorry to see that in someone so young whose career hasn't even started yet." "I no longer consider [Just Up The Pike] a place for honesty," she concluded.

Since then, her neighbors have accused me of censorship and being "undemocratic." Others have tried to invalidate my opinions on Chelsea Court because of my age, even though it has no bearing on the merits of building single-family homes or townhomes on the site of a former school.

I've heard from opponents of Chelsea Court and understand their concerns. Though I don't agree with them, I know we all care about the future of Silver Spring, even if we seek different ends. I wanted to calmly express my disagreement and back it up with facts and reason, and I expect them to do the same. I stand by my word, otherwise I wouldn't put it on the Internet to be preserved for all eternity.

I embrace diversity of opinions, and for six years, I've sought out people I disagree with. I accept thoughtful, well-reasoned guest blogs, and I gave Jean Cavanaugh the opportunity to write one instead of leaving a less visible comment. And the offer still stands whenever she, or anyone else, is ready. As promised, you get 600 words, my standard for guest posts.

I'll agree to disagree on Chelsea Court. But I'm not going to let some people who don't know me attack my character and my work. Jean, the ball's in your court.


C. P. Zilliacus said...

Dan, on this you are right and she is wrong.

jag2923 said...

I'd love to see a guest post because, frankly, I don't even know where "The Community" stands anymore. I see them taking credit for a "win" against EYA - does that mean they are happy with the redesign? Is there something else they'd like to see changed? Do they seriously think nothing should ever be rezoned?

I agree that the arrogance of a handful of SOECA residents is palpable. The notion that they have superior knowledge of what 20910 should look like in the 21st century just because they're old certainly makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. Of course their viewpoint is worth including in the discussion, but implying that said viewpoint is more valuable or correct than that of everyone else is mind-boggling.

Patrick said...


You don't need to pretend that everyone here cares about the future of Silver Spring. Opposing developments like this isn't in the best interests of the future of Silver Spring. The people who are against these new developments that will make 20910 stronger -- especially against other communities -- are only concnered about their own short term interests.

Essentially, they don't want to risk more traffic, don't want to have to see or hear construction and want to pretend that the county, metro area, state and country population isn't expanding. By the very definition, these people are nimbys. They do not care about the greater community.

We cannot afford to put more detached SFHs within walking distance of the Silver Spring metro (or what would be walking distance, since detached SFH owners are the least likely to walk). We simply can't. It's bad for the environment, causes sprawl and hurts our competitiveness with younger age cohorts, etc.

Silver Spring is changing. "The Community" better understand that.

~Patrick Thornton

Eronn said...

I can understand their POV - they like their neighborhood full of single-family homes. But unfortunately you don't always get to control things. My parents weren't exactly pleased when they could hear the round-the-clock ICC construction behind their home, but they dealt with it.

I do get very, very tired of the insinuations that being young and/or not having a mortgage somehow makes your opinion less valid, though.

Patrick said...

The not having a mortgage thing makes no sense. Everyone's vote and voice is equal.

I have a mortgage, but I don't think Dan's opinion is worth less because he doesn't have one. In many ways, I think his views on development here might be cleaner than mine. He doesn't have a few hundred grand or so in debt clouding his thinking. He can actually sit and think about what is best for Silver Spring in the long run.

I'm not going to even touch the ageism aspect, as that doesn't even warrant discussion. It's just stupid.

I think most of this discussion is just fear of change. In reality, these townhouses won't affect the area much, but it's a different reality than what existed 30-40 years ago in Silver Spring when some of these people bought their homes. It's a natural fear, but we shouldn't let fear control us.

I truly believe that his development is better for the area and the county long term. That's why I support it.

~Patrick Thornton

DTSSER said...


What do you know about the county regulations and their standards for RT zoning, such as need for transition, appropriateness, and compatibility?

What do you know about the existing traffic restrictions in the Seven Oaks-Evanswood neighborhood, the traffic on the interior streets, the environmental setting of the Riggs Thompason House, the special exception for the Chelsea School, massing, and density of the surrounding neighborhood and other townhouse developments in Silver Spring?

You talk about people speaking from fear, which is a silly assumption in the first place, but you ought to consider the drawbacks of speaking from ignorance.

Patrick said...


We live in a democracy. Everything you have discussed is a human construct that can and will be changed. Our humble county used to be agrarian. D.C. used to be a little town. My, how times have changed.

We're not arguing climate change, which is science. Zoning isn't even an old concept, and zoning changes. And it is changing in Montgomery County out of necessity.

Euclidean zoning, which is what most of the U.S. and this area has, has largely been a negative and is being rolled back and changed rapidly. The areas with the most inclusive zoning have the highest property values.

Fear of car traffic from townhouses just doesn't add up. By the very nature of these being townhouses, the future residents will drive less than detached SFHs. Some of these townhouses will be owned by people with 0 cars, while many, if not most, will be owned by families with one car.

I own more parking spaces than cars and drive a car a few times a month at most. My wife and I would be part of the target demo for housing like this: People who may want more space than a condo, but don't need a yard or lots of car infrastructure.

~Patrick Thornton

Dan Reed said...


"you ought to consider the drawbacks of speaking from ignorance"

Maybe you want to go back and read the post I just wrote.

Woody Brosnan said...

No one should be criticized for their age, including some of the civic leaders you have attacked in the past.

The Chelsea School case is interesting in part because it involved deviating from the master plan to rezone an R-60 area past Cedar Street, thus raising legitimate fears about what is next.

But in the end, neither the neighborhood got exactly what they wanted. The property was rezoned, but he hearing examiner, supported by the County Council, sent a message that developers cannot expect any density they want.

But what is more significant is that there are 5,000 more housing units being built or in the pipeline for the CBD and all being done without opposition from or in some cases in cooperation with neighborhoods surrounding the CBD.

If I had a wish for you Dan, it would be you and your allies not portray every disagreement as a battle between good and evil. These issues are complex and there are legitimate concerns to weigh on both sides.

Dan Reed said...


I agree I may have been harsh to some of older civic leaders in the past, and I've apologized.

That said, I don't know when I've portrayed a disagreement "as a battle between good and evil." You may want to refer to the commenter who referred to the fight against Chelsea Court as a "David versus Goliath fight."

C. P. Zilliacus said...

NIMBYISM (yes, that includes a hyperactive citizenry) has badly hurt Montgomery County, and I believe it is one of the reasons that the county has lost private sector jobs from 2000 to now, and is otherwise falling ever farther behind the county's neighbors in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia, and Howard and Frederick Counties to our north.

This development is an overall plus for Silver Spring and Montgomery County as a whole.

Cary Lamari said...

I see again P Zilliacus is quick with disparaging and insulting remarks. “ nimyism” What do you call your bullying and your narcissism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to be able to comment without being disparaged and disrespected. Even you Patric Zilliacus. Too bad you cannot accept the concept of freedom of expression. .