Where, oh where can the city find an extra $578,000 to replace the funds cut by the state?
In the road, that's where! The city manager just found it there, gushing out of the speed cameras! She found almost enough to keep the city humming along through the fiscal year. She's short $135,705, but that may be partly "offset" by vacant staff positions.
There IS a catch to this revenue source, however! The speed camera funds can ONLY be spent on projects that "improve public safety."
Nothing puts a crooked little smile on Your Gilbert's face like a yummy bite of irony flavored with unintended consequences. We got a good taste of it from the city council June 22nd when it continued discussing the Langley Park/Takoma Sector Plan. That would be the Prince George's County sector plan, not the Montgomery County sector plan which will be dealt with on a later date.
The irony is that the coming changes to the Langely Park area, particularly the route of the Purple Line light rail train, were supposed to benefit the large, low-income, mostly-Hispanic "workforce" community living in Langely Park. But, as the city staff reported to the councilmembers, the coming of the Purple Line and the streetscape improvements are inspiring the owners of the low-rise apartment buildings that characterize the area to think about raising the rents or even tearing down the old apartments and building newer, more expensive, high-density ones.
Your Gilbert is officially annoyed at Councilmember Reuben Snipper. We would include Mayor Bruce Williams and Chief Ronald Ricucci, but they are healthy and strong, whereas Snipper is still in recovery from a nasty bike/auto mishap. We prefer to pick fights with people who are already knocked down, injured, and unable to chase us.
Besides, it is Snipper who repeatedly brings up the The Incident. Every time he sees Chief Ricucci, or every time the subject of bicycles comes up, he mentions The Incident. The Incident was this: shortly after he was elected to the council the chief pulled Snipper over for running a stop sign on his bicycle. The chief let him go with a warning, but not without a lecture. Bicycles, he said, have to follow the same rules of the road as automobiles.
Rules of the road? Bicycles must stop at stop signs the same as automobiles? Even when they can see there's no danger? Brake a perfectly good coast for nothing?
The city's speed cameras will "go live" on St. Patrick's day, says Mayor Bruce Williams. There will be a 2 week period in which people will receive warnings, then around April Fools Day, fine-levying tickets will be issued. At the same March 9 city council meeting councilmember Josh Wright asserted that pedestrian safety, not income generation, was the motive for installing the cameras. The reverse has been claimed by a number of local cynics writing on community listserves and certain blogs. Wright said that the city's share of the income (a percentage goes to the independent contractor who sets up and runs the cameras) will only be spent on pedestrian safety.
The leaf-blower bout continues!
Resident activists who requested the ban last October were there to discuss their proposed ban of gasoline-powered leaf blowers.
Most of the council were careful not to commit to a pro- or anti-ban position. The exception, Ward 3 councilmember Dan Robinson came out in favor of a ban. The mayor and councilmembers kicked the idea around until it had nearly lost its shape, but the activists kept trying to pump the air back into it.