GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
Put clean sheets on the guest bed! Takoma Park city council flopped down the welcome mat for Syrian refugees – right after they smacked Maryland governor Larry Hogan in the face with it. Hogan, in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in which a perpetrator or two snuck into Europe as refugees, said Maryland would accept no Syrian refugees because they might be fibbers and nasty bad bogey men.
So, the Takoma Park city council said “Oh, YEAH?” to Hogan and all the other xenophobes. At the Nov. 30 city council meeting they voted unanimously “to welcome our Syrian neighbors because to shut the door on those in need is inconsistent with basic values of our community.” Lookin’ at YOU, Larry!
The Syrian refugee resolution was emotionally satisfying, and it was fiscally satisfying too. The council did not obligate the city to spending tax dollars. This was accomplished with a lot of non-specific and qualifying words between “Be it resolved” and “refugee families relocating to the Takoma Park area.”
Such as – “the City of Takoma Park will work with other levels of government and non-governmental agencies to identify ways in which the community can provide support,” which means “. . . somebody else pay for . . .”
Dear reader, you can safely stick your relatives in the spare room for the holidays, given the federal government’s long refugee vetting process, plus the offer to let somebody else do all the work and funding to get refugees here, they will not be your guests THIS holiday season. Or the next.
Which puts citizens on the spot. If this resolution is going to be more than a symbolic gesture, it’s up to YOU.
A new day dawns
The Stewart Era is dawning slowly. At the second meeting of her administration Mayor Kate Stewart set out some new meeting rules.
The biggest change is the meeting day – from Mondays to Wednesdays.
Obviously this is a disaster for Your Gilbert. Doesn’t the mayor know that the CKDS meets every Wednesday evening? That’s the Curmudgeons Knitting and Drinking Society. We just started on a pair of wool socks and now we’ll never learn how to turn the heel!
Meetings will start at 7:30 p.m. Start times used to fluctuate unpredictably between 7:00 and 7:30.
Mayor Stewart wants to shorten up council meetings. She’ll hold citizens to the three-minute limit. If commentators think their remarks need more than three minutes they go to the city staff BEFORE the meeting and ask for additional time.
Nothing in there about shortening the council comments, which are delivered with no apparent time limit at the beginning of each meeting. Council comments were shockingly sparse at the Nov. 30 meeting. Apparently there was some kind of agreement about not making council comments. That’s based on how councilmember Fred Schultz tentatively asked to say just a few words on the Sryian refugee resolution.
Which emboldened Councilmember Rizzy Qureshi to say a quick word on the same subject. Then he asked what that high-pitched noise was.
That high-pitched noise, said the mayor, is just the Laser of Death warming up. She toggled a switch and a little panel opened on the wall facing the council.
None of the other council members cared to make comments.
The meeting day switch will start in January. Another innovation will be Friday morning coffee with the mayor and council for any residents who care to show up. These will be held in various places around the city.
There was some discussion of holding the weekly council meetings at different location, on different days and at different times. This was one of the mayor’s campaign pledges. Nothing formal has been decided on that, apparently. One question to be answered first is whether the meetings could be broadcast and taped. The Deputy City Manager said the cable tv department “may have the technology.”
The really good news is that the meeting finished around 9:30 p.m.! That’s about two hours – or three – earlier than most.
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