Sunday, January 7, 2018

Montgomery County Public Information officer Says Council Needs to Listen, Discusses Transporations Issues

A former spokesperson for the Montgomery County Council who announced his candidacy for his bosses' job says the council is not listening to their voters.   Neil Greenberger was the legislative information officer for the county council for 11 years, and more recently the public information officer for the office of the county executive, and he is now running for an at-large county council seat.  Greenberger minced no words about his feelings about his former bosses openness to listening to their constituents “There’s been too much of telling people what they need and a lot less of listening to what voters want."

Greenberger questioned the county's approach to development and roads, asserting that the county has approved plans for new development without first addressing the need for new roads, parking, and schools.  “In Bethesda, they approved a plan for 20- and 30-story buildings with no new roads and reduced parking places,” Greenberger said. “Where are the people going to park? There are still people who still love their car. Nine people voting cannot change the culture of Montgomery County that has been built up for generations.”  Greenberger was critical of the county's approach to roads, specifically including the county's decision not to proceed with plans to build the M-83 MidCounty Corridor, stating  "Completing the M-83 highway to relieve congestion on I-270 and throughout the Upper County needs to be a priority, not a continuation of a 50-year plan. We must take steps to build M-83 NOW."  He noted that only one-quarter of road resurfacing projects suggested by the County Department of Transportation ended up in the approved County budget of last year.

Greenberger says some aspects of the county speed camera program need to be considered.  Although he states he supports speed camera, but argues that some speed cameras have been placed in unfair locations simply to raise income and server little purpose.   "We need to look at how these cameras are placed. Montgomery County should be above having speed cameras hidden behind bushes, on downhill slopes and in places designed simply to trap unsuspecting drivers." and "This County does not need to trick its drivers to raise money".

Unfortunately any calls for reconsideration in speed camera locations are likely to hit a brick wall in the Montgomery County bureaucracy.   Montgomery County ATEU states that speed camera locations are selected by a "Citizens Advisory Board on Traffic Issues".  However in fact "citizens" are not permitted to attend the meetings of this "citizens advisory board" where speed camera locations and pending speed camera legislation are discussed.  The group has operated in total secrecy, has members who were chosen by the MCPD based on their support for the cameras, is closed to the public and press, and does not keep minutes for any of their meetings.  Calls for more openness in this process by the Maryland Drivers Alliance and the Greater Olney Area Civics Association were rebuffed by the county government.