Granolapark: Safe Grow, votes, and bikes

Counting ballots in the July 2012 Ward 5 special election.


Dear Readers,

First a Safe Grow Zone Initiative update.

Safe Grow – a proposed city-wide pesticide ban – is reportedly sparking flame-wars on the city’s community email-lists. A Say No to Safe Grow movement is gaining momentum and petition signatures.

On the other side, Safe Grow proponents scored endorsements from State Senator Jamie Raskin, and State Delegate Heather Mizeur, both city residents.

The Safe Grow Zone Initiative is tentatively on the city council agenda for July 8 as a work session. A work session is different from a public hearing. The council don’t take public comments at the meeting, they discuss the ordinance among themselves. This could result in re-writing, or even abandoning the ordinance.

Julie Taddeo, Safe Grow Zone Initiative co-founder.

Julie Taddeo, Safe Grow Zone Initiative co-founder.

“I was . . . very disappointed that we have been pushed back to a work session.” said Julie Taddeo, co-founder of the Safe Grow initiative. She addressed the council during the weekly Public Comment period.

Taddeo said she thought she had an agreement with the council. She would meet with the Committee on the Environment June 10, and the council would “bring this to a vote,” a few days later.

“So, I don’t understand what we gain with another work session which will then push us into the fall,” she said.

360 people have now signed the Safe Grow petition, she said, claiming that “There is much more support than opposition to this. It would be in everyone’s interest to just bring this to a resolution in a very timely manner.

Next steps

The two “readings” necessary to make it law are tentatively set for July 15 and 22.

The proposed ordinance is first going to the city Committee on the Environment for review to see what they have to say about it. The Committee, says city clerk Jessie Carpenter, has formed a sub-committee to review it by July 8. They will make comments or recommendations – or decline to.

Also, says the city clerk, the city attorney is working on revisions to some problematic sections of the proposed ordinance, including the complicated waiver system. The council concensus seems to be that since the most recent version deals with lawns only, those waivers are not needed.

This is a link to the most recent ordinance draft in the May 20 meeting agenda.


Editorial – what most people would accept

Last week, acting city manager Suzanne Ludlow described the additional cost and staff needed to enact the current version that bans individual residents’ use of certain chemicals. Your Gilbert thinks everyone should note one of the options she described – a ban of commercial lawn-service pesticide-use only. It would be by far the least expensive option, and the easiest to enforce. It wouldn’t regulate individual residents or require more staff. Obviously, this is the compromise most people would accept.

The price of democracy

What’s your vote worth, Dear Reader?

$2.75? $9.65? $12.96?

That’s the per-vote cost of three proposed city voting systems. The council’s tie vote May 28 left the decision hanging (insert your own chad joke here).

The cheapest system – hand counting – was not seriously considered. That would have cost the city $5000, but several additional volunteer election judges would have been needed to do the counting. Also, the vote tallying would take 4 to 6 hours, longer if the city’s Instant Runoff Voting system were triggered in a three-or-more candidate race.

Counting ballots in the July 2012 Ward 5 special election. The multi-candidate vote triggered Instant Runoff Voting system.

Counting ballots in the July 2012 Ward 5 special election. The multi-candidate vote triggered Instant Runoff Voting system.


Two bids were considered. Trueballot, Inc. bid $17,500.

Election Systems and Software (ES&S) bid $23,500.

The ES&S system is expensive, yes, but it scans your ballot as you turn it in, and if your vote isn’t clear or the ballot has has stray marks or doodles on it, the gizmo alerts you.

Flashing lights and alarm bells go off and a robot voice says “IDIOT! IDIOT! IDIOT!” until you submit a new ballot – after you stand in the corner for 5 minutes.
Voter turnout may drop due to people terrified of embarrassment. But, on the other hand, it will be a boon to the psychiatric profession. They’ll have a new mental disorder – Voter Humiliation Syndrome – to treat, write books about, and make talk show appearances on behalf of.

If not for the cost . . .

Actually, we have no idea how it alerts voters to an unclear ballot. Hopefully it is a bit more discrete.

Trueballot, Inc. has one significant advantage – it provides ballots on demand. So, no extra paper and ink would be wasted.

The city’s board of Elections recommends Trueballot. Though the board noted ES&S’s proposal was more “full service,” Trueballot is good enough, they said, and cheaper.

Councilmember Tim Male said he was torn, since the board make clear they would have picked ES&S “if not for the cost.” But, then, he said, “If not for the cost, I’d own a Jaguar.”

“In the great scheme of things,” said city clerk Jessie Carpenter, “it’s not that much money.” “But it would put us on the higher end of what municipalities pay for elections.”

Counting ballots in the July 2012 Ward 5 special election.

Counting ballots in the July 2012 Ward 5 special election.


“Putting on my taxpayers hat,” said Councilmember Fred Schultz, $23,500 seemed expensive for the number of votes cast (1,813 in the last election).”

“$6000 is a lot of bucklets” said Councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen, who was “attending” the meeting via phone due to an ongoing health problem.

The vote was tied because council member Seth Grimes had to leave the meeting early for a train trip. His vote will be quickly sought, the decision must be made “soon” said the city clerk.

What’s up dock?

Everyone was drooling.

Bikeshare is coming!

Takoma Park’s spandex-clad bikies are wide-eyed in rapture. The city council was excited, too.

Bikeshare is a bike-rental system now used in Washington, DC, and in several other US cities. The system has many “stations” – each with a number of “docks.” Each dock holds a bicycle, which is released when payment is made. Generally, bikes are ridden to another station near the renter’s destination. Another bike can be rented for the return trip. The service has been popular and profitable in the District.

The REALLY good news is that the county is paying for it – with state grant money.

There are five potential station locations being considered. Installation could begin as early as THIS summer.

1.Takoma Gazebo Park, Carroll Avenue at Westmoreland Avenue

Gazebo Park

2. Closed Driveway at City Lot

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 4.33.23 PM

3. Washington Adventist University, Division Street at Flower Avenue

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 4.34.25 PM

4. Franklin Apartments, Maple Avenue at Ritchie (NE corner)

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 4.34.49 PM

5. Takoma Park Community Center, Philadelphia Ave.

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 – Gilbert


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About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

6 Comments on "Granolapark: Safe Grow, votes, and bikes"

  1. Julie Taddeo | June 4, 2013 at 9:42 am |

    Gilbert– The correct link to our petition to restrict cosmetic lawn pesticides in TP is

    Thank you.– Julie Taddeo, SGZ

  2. Correction made! Thank you. Please post any other helpful links or remarks in this comment section.

  3. Steve Davies | June 12, 2013 at 11:17 am |

    I’m not sure how if it would be legal to ban commercial lawn-care services but allow residents to do their own thing.

  4. Sligo Creek Resident | June 17, 2013 at 11:53 am |

    This law is another proposed regulation that in addition to imposing another fine-based burden on property owners, possibly rendering Takoma Park exempt from any county help in pest control, and impossible to enforce, will do little to improve our environment. Our lawn is home to everything from insects to deer to feral cats. The Roundup we sprayed four years ago to kill poison ivy did absolutely nothing to harm them. We also have bees, butterflies, moths, lady bugs, even cockroaches courtesy of the apartments next door. This is another nanny law proposed based on emotion rather than science with no city support. Moreover, it opens the door to ban everything the uuber parents suppose might harm their children–none of whom should be on anyone’s property without permission.

Comments are closed.