Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

March 15, 2018

 

Meeting came to order at 7:38 p.m.  Meeting held at Fishnet Restaurant.  Board members in attendance:  Rose Greene Colby, Bob Catlin, Karyn Keating-Volke, Chad Stern, Dan Blasberg, Jim Nealis.  Other attendees included Mary Cook, PJ Brennan, Liesl Koch, Kelly Jordan, Margaret and Harvey Himelfarb, Kolbi Hunt, Karen Pasta, Tom Pasta, Christy Dollymore, Marc Pound, Mary Daniel, Maia Sheppard, Jason Daniels.

 

Rose Greene Colby thanked Fishnet for hosting our meeting. A motion was made and seconded to proceed directly to the speakers.  Two candidates running for County Executive spoke:  Paul Monteiro spoke about growing up in the Adelphi area, the child of teenaged parents and attending overcrowded schools with temporary classrooms.  He worked for the Obama administration and handled outreach programs to non-profits.  Ran the AmeriCorps Vista program, was a mediator at the Dept. of Justice, currently Chief of Staff at Howard Univ.  He feels education is a major issue in the county – our poor schools are preventing large companies such as Amazon from locating in our County. He believes in ‘restorative justice’ – creating pathways for those with criminal records to rejoin society, get jobs, etc. Stewardship is important – public employees have a public trust to serve.

     Candidate Donna Edwards spoke next – she became active in her civic association in Oxon Hill, worked with National Harbor developers to get union/living wages there, bike trails, etc. She served over eight years in Congress, helped organize the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She supports Innovation (coordinate programs with local experts at Goddard, UofM, Bowie State, Andrews AFB), Development (wants cohesive program for county-wide development. Also says she won’t accept donations from developers), Education (need real leadership, no excuse that we spend comparable amounts per pupil to Montgomery, Fairfax Co. schools but get poorer results), and Accountability (real transparency in government performance).

     City Council Member PJ Brennan said they are seeking a grant to connect sidewalks along Berwyn/Potomac/Quebec for easier walking for Holy Redeemer students and residents.  A Boy Scout improvement project at eastern end of Berwyn Rd. is on hold until spring returns.

     Dan Blasberg addressed an issue of concern – granting the city executive (i.e., Mayor) additional authority as a voting member of the legislative branch of city government (City Council), by allowing a mayor to vote on some issues in order to break tie votes. The county and city attorneys have different opinions on what a “legislative” body is.  Dan insisted the city should make public the notes from outside attorneys on this issue; PJ has mixed feelings about this. Main issue seems to be votes on changing the city charter – the Maryland state constitution says city charters can be changed by a “majority” on the legislative body, and Dan feels the mayor, as the executive branch, should not be allowed to become a voter on the legislative branch of government in these matters.  The audience seemed to agree that if 5 of 8 council members can’t agree on a change then maybe that change should be tabled.  Dan proposed the BDCA should send a letter to our city with three requests: 1) release the outside attorney’s notes, 2) postpone any city charter amendments until the Attorney General settles what the constitution means by ‘legislative body’, and 3) allow for a non-binding referendum for charter changes.  Meeting attendees voted 6 to 5 to send such a letter to the city.  People who wish to express opinions on this can send comments to Dan at blasberg@verizon.net.  They can also send letters to city officials.

     The Treasurer’s Report was put on hold until next month.  The April BDCA meeting will start the nominating process for the BDCA Board of Directors positions.  PJ Brennan said city will work with MNCPPC to fix playground equipment damaged/destroyed by a tree that fell last week in the neighborhood park.  Pontiac St. near Rt. 1 at the Cambria Hotel site should be repaved this spring.  Dan Blasberg said the state will soon build a curb and plant grass where Rhode Island Ave. dead-ends at Greenbelt Rd.  Mayor Wojahn, who arrived near the end of the meeting, said a Senior Arts Show is coming up on Apr. 20th at the UM Catholic Student Center.  PJ Brennan noted home owners can get a $150 rebate for planting a tree and up to a $2500 rebate for removing chain link fences from front yards.  Good Neighbor Day, involving service projects done by residents and UM students, will be Sat., Apr. 7th.

     Meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

 

Notes compiled by Jim Nealis