Wrapping up all the loose ends in their final session this year, the city council banned all gas-powered devices including leaf-blowers, lawnmowers, automobiles, trucks, buses, aircraft, and trains. They “municipalized” every telephone pole in town, seizing them from the utility companies and declaring them “free speech zones” where citizens are allowed to post lost-pet notices. The council passed an ordinance ordering the police to taser all WSSC contractors found working within city limits after January 1, 2009.
No, none of this actually happened. The council actually finished up the year with a weary sigh, pushing most of the hot-button issues onto next year’s schedule. The council was as anxious as Your Gilbert to end the meeting and start the holiday season.
The Awful Truth
They did quickly wrap up a bunch of less controversial items, passing resolutions and ordinances to (now, try to stay awake, Dear Readers): buy a new recycling truck, make amendments to the police retirement plan, authorize a payment in lieu of taxes from an affordable housing project. (Hang in there, almost done!) revise storm water permit fees for developers, and ask the state to purchase voting machines that accommodate “instant runoff voting.” Most of these they bundled into one group and passed them all together.
Still with us, Dear Readers?
The Next Stage
They disposed of the above items so quickly they finished earlier than planned, forcing them into thumb-twiddling mode for half an hour or so before representatives of the MTFA architectural firm were due to show up. Once they arrived, the council asked them for a holiday treat — a proposed plan for the council chambers renovation to be presented on Jan 12. The plans will be for converting the chambers into a performance space.
The hot topics simmering on the burner for next year are: the city’s sign ordinances, the gas-powered blower ban, Montgomery College’s expansion, the Metro Commons development, and, if they haven’t been wrapped up by January, WSSC’s street repairs.
Another hot-potato topic that may land in the council’s laps next year is the sanctuary law. As reported in the Gazette, a right wing legal group called Judicial Watch has hinted at a law suit against the city saying that the sanctuary law violates federal immigration law. Feelings are high on this issue right now due to the recent murder of a young teenager allegedly by a illegal immigrant who lived in Takoma Park. This is despite the fact that the incident had nothing to do with the sanctuary law or the Takoma Park police. It was county police, not city police who arrested him a month earlier, found a weapon (a knife) on him, and later released him (by court order). The county police do not operate under a sanctuary law so they looked him up in the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) database the Takoma Park police does not use. They found no outstanding warrants for him there, according to a public statement from county councilmember George Leventhal.
Have a great holiday, Dear Readers! See you next year!