Our March meeting will again provide our members an opportunity to discuss ongoing issues of concern to us, which seem to pop up in an unending stream. It would be nice some month to sit down to write this letter and announce that nothing was happening and we could take the month off. Alas, there are always zoning problems, road problems, subdivisions, hearings, meetings, environmental threats, and this month is no exception. Many of our members have been through all of these things many times, but some have not, and I hope that a meeting where we can talk over issues and strategies, the agencies and government bodies which influence our lives and community, and maybe a little about what makes us keep trying will help all of us to understand the complicated community we live in and the forces which shape our future. So please join us on the 10th and bring your issues and questions.
On another front, the Montgomery County Civic Federation is beginning a petition drive to place an initiative on the ballot to change the way the County Council is structured. The Civic Fed proposal is for all council members to be elected from an increased number of districts and to do away with at-large seats on the Council. The concern as expressed by MCCF President Kari Lamari is that the tremendous cost of running an at-large campaign in today’s political environment creates a situation where only those candidates with access to large contributions from special interests can hope to win election, thus leading to council members being beholden to special interest groups instead of the voters. The Civic Fed proposes nine districts with no at large members instead of the current five district and four at large members. A petition drive has been started to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to place this proposal on the ballot in the next general election.
WMCCA will testify before the Montgomery County Board of Education concerning the request by the County Executive that two school sites in the Potomac planning area be declared surplus and turned over to the County. These sites are the Kendale Rd elementary school site and the Brickyard Rd. middle school site. These are the last two school sites of any kind left in the cluster. We believe that such a surplus declaration would be extremely short sighted. The School Board needs to realize that sites such as these are no longer available in this area. WMCCA has a long institutional memory and we have seen the school system change and grow tremendously. There is no reason to believe that it will not continue to do so, particularly given the pro growth and pro development mind set of the current Council. The Superintendent is only looking at school enrollment 11 years in the future. Given the current overcrowding in the cluster and the potential for further development and redevelopment this limited view cannot be justified. The Executive’s goal of providing affordable housing can be met in other ways without jeopardizing the future of our school system.
Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.