Greater Greater Washington

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Candidate who's "concerned" about Purple Line gets angry when pro-Purple Line organization gives her a low score

If you're running for office, you'd like to get votes from everyone, and avoid angering people. A lot of candidates try to do this by expressing "support" for big projects which have a lot of proponents, while also voicing "concerns" to those against the project.


Photo by dan reed! on Flickr.

Muriel Bowser was an avid practitioner of this strategy during the DC mayoral primary, favoring things like development at Takoma Metro or DC's zoning update while simultaneously sharing opponents' views. In Montogmery County, at-large council candidate Beth Daly is trying it with the Purple Line, and crying foul when the Action Committee for Transit didn't fall for it.

Bill Turque talked about the controversy in the Washington Post. Daly wrote on the ACT questionnaire that she supports "the east-west connectivity of the Purple Line," but with a long litany of caveats.

She is "still not certain" of what the county will pay, because she "suspect[s]" that the money the state has promised won't go far enough. She wants more effort to "reduce environmental and economic impacts" on the surrounding communities, like noise, trees, and effect on businesses.

The Purple Line has endured decades of debate and political battles. County and state leaders have made a decision about what route to build, and made tradeoffs about all of these issues. The federal government is on board. But it's pretty clear from reading Daly's answer that she doesn't agree with that decision and isn't willing to endorse the specific project that's on the table.

Why is Daly surprised ACT rated her as a Purple Line skeptic?

It's her right to take this view, but she shouldn't be surprised when ACT, an organization for which the Purple Line (as currently proposed, specifically) is perhaps its top issue, doesn't rate her highly.

What's odd about the controversy Turque describes is not that ACT likes the specific Purple Line proposal or Daly doesn't; it's that Daly is angry with ACT when her answer was pretty clear. According to Turque, Daly's husband said he wanted to "grab [ACT President Nick Brand] by the neck" for the scorecard.

Daly tells Turque that the rating was unfair because other people who expressed "concerns" in the past got plus marks. That particularly refers to Marc Elrich, who also holds an at large seat and is ideologically aligned with Daly. He's been a Purple Line skeptic in the past, but when ACT specifically asked on its questionnaire whether candidates would endorse the current Purple Line project "without qualification," Elrich simply wrote "YES."

That means either Elrich has moved past any former concerns and now supports the project as it's being proposed, or he was not being truthful on the questionnaire. He argued to Turque that Daly's answers were not negative. Sorry, that doesn't fly. The question was pretty clear.

Turque also talks about a lot of inside baseball controversy about whether ACT leaders were trying to help incumbent at-large member George Leventhal. An ACT board member who's close to Leventhal apparently wanted questions about the Purple Line at a recent candidate forum to not focus on affordable housing around Purple Line stations. The Coalition for Smarter Growth's Kelly Blynn, who in her professional role for a nonprofit is not trying to help a particular candidate or another, refused and left the question in.

More information can help voters decide

The Purple Line is very much worth building as proposed, but that doesn't mean candidates don't deserve credit or scorn for their stances on other matters. Affordable housing along the Purple Line is important, and hopefully Montgomery County will take many steps to ensure that the communities around its stations remain mixed-income.

Daly pushed to reduce the amount of development in Clarksburg, which is far from transit, at the edge of the region's core, and not the best place for a lot of new housing. (Leventhal also voted to reduce development in Clarksburg.) The ACT scorecard doesn't cover every single factor voters might use to weigh the candidates.

However, politicians have a lot of incentive to dodge questions and blur their positions. Good reporting (often absent in political campaigns) cuts through the fog and helps voters know who actually shares their values. So do advocacy scorecards.

Muriel Bowser successfully kept the focus off her actual views in the DC campaign. ACT is trying not to make the Montgomery races work this way. Other organizations can do the same for other issues besides the ones ACT focuses on. Any candidate who wants to play both sides of an issue shouldn't be surprised if he or she gets called out for it.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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This is par for the course for NIMBYs. They say they support transit in general, but then there is always more study they want, more community impact they need, more changes they want. There is always some reason for them to oppose transit or development as is. The thing is it's hard enough to get a project into workable form, and if you strive for absolute perfection on anything, nothing gets done. Which, for the NIMBYs, is precisely the point.

by KingmanPark on Jun 6, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

Thanks for trying to shed some light on this issue. As you say, everyone has the right to their opinions, but the times and ways folks bend their opinions to suit certain audiences should be noted as a sign of their ultimate conviction on certain issues. I've heard Elrich's equivocation in the past but I've also heard him clearly in support for the purple line.

There's an aspect of Montgomery County's "Progressives" that seem overly suspicious of development. I agree one should ensure affordable housing and be vigilant of environmental concerns, but the whole idea of light rail is a step in the direction of both these issues. That dosen't mean you give the county a blank check on a huge infrastructure that many will profit from, but the idea that profiting is some how corrupt is naive.

Moany of our beloved Montgomery County communitees like Chevy Chase, Takoma Park, and Silver Spring where laid out on the backs of streetcars, lines which the original developers saw as essential to making their profits. Time tends to erase these inconvenient facts as if some belevolent force brought these lovely communities into being without the help of the developers who envisioned them.

I agree that we should be careful we don't lose what makes many of these communities special while we go forward with this next generation of "smart growth", but let's not pretend that those businesses who seek to profit from the Purple line are somehow out of line. I've heard just as many immigrant run small businesses looking forward to the purple line as I've heard white collar developers.

by Thayer-D on Jun 6, 2014 10:55 am • linkreport

I only had a strong knowledge of one of the at-large candidates going into this race, but the conduct of Beth Daly, and of her supporters at local community meetings has scared me into voting for all four of the incumbents. At the aforementioned CSG forum in Silver Spring, she waltzed in at the conclusion of the debate, and blamed "traffic" for her tardiness, only later did it come out that she was attending a fundraiser in Takoma Park. There's only so much traffic on Fenton Street between Takoma and Silver Spring, and if you had a perfectly legitimate commitment before the forum was announced, why lie about it? What else is she trying to have it both ways on? At community meetings, her supporters are the very crowd that this blog hopes will be enlightened that Montgomery County (or at least not all of it) is not the white picket fence suburbia that was envisioned when they grew up 40 years ago. Ten Mile Creek is a great banner, but it's a facade to hide NIMBYism as well.

by Joe in SS on Jun 6, 2014 10:58 am • linkreport

the article's good, and the comments are great. KingmanPark and Thayer-D are talking about the same thing in subtle, interconnected ways... and it is something that has troubled me for awhile, since I consider myself to be a good progressive leftist who doesn't understand why "improving transit quality significantly" through light rail (or streetcars) isn't something that significantly helps low income people who rely on transit?

The anti-development trope goes beyond progressives though. It's a kind of anti-capitalism narrative that is really focused on "no change."

I was talking about this with a colleague a couple nights ago and one of the problems of "democracy" is that it doesn't deal with "the future" very well. Most of the processes are set up to enable "warding off the future as long as possible."

That's my basic problem with "politics" as opposed to governance and policy.

Years ago I had an "argument" with one of DC's prominent Greens and she said "we don't need streetcars and we should be focusing on the Purple Line anyway." I said (1) why isn't improving transit for all a progressive issue? (2) funding for the Purple Line in Maryland has nothing to do with how DC plans for and funds transit.

Note that in Los Angeles the low income interest groups make the same point about fixed rail transit and are against it, arguing that funding the operations of fixed rail transit will come at the expense of bus service.

2. AH is another issue and one that needs to be discussed significantly wrt the Purple Line.

I have been really distressed that the Purple Line Corridor Coalition doesn't seem to really get how to bring it about in a substantive way.

They need a big a** development authority-TIF district.

- http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2014/03/purple-line-planning-in-suburban.html

- http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2014/03/qucik-follow-up-to-purple-line-piece.html

by Richard Layman on Jun 6, 2014 11:18 am • linkreport

" I said (1) why isn't improving transit for all a progressive issue? (2) funding for the Purple Line in Maryland has nothing to do with how DC plans for and funds transit."

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that WMATA funds capital investment, and does so for all transit infra in the region. Note the frequent "we should have more rail in DC but they build the Silver Line because WMATA favors the suburbs". There are good reasons for the complexity of transit structure in the USA, but its VERY confusing to anyone who isnt a transit nerd.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 6, 2014 11:23 am • linkreport

The anti-development trope goes beyond progressives though. It's a kind of anti-capitalism narrative that is really focused on "no change."

This is basically the sub-text to most any oppostion to what we talk about here.

Plus, its a huge red flag when a politician is still talking about alternatives this late in the planning stages for a project like this. Either they don't know what they're going on about or they are trying to play both sides (or both).

by drumz on Jun 6, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

Drumz - +1 to that last paragraph - it's "death by study."

by Joe in SS on Jun 6, 2014 11:33 am • linkreport

@JoeinSS, I wanted to respond to your comment since I was the organizer of the forum: As a clarification re: Beth Daly's participation in the forum, we knew she had a conflict and was trying to make it late, which is why we listed her as "tentative" on the program, and why I informed people on Twitter of her status during the forum.

by Kelly Blynn on Jun 6, 2014 1:03 pm • linkreport

Daly rightfully took lumps on that one. Her answer was clearly intended to send a message to the small group of Chevy Chase residents who oppose the Purple Line that she would act to delay and derail the plan.

It's too late to stop the Purple Line via legal or technical avenues. Even the last ditch efforts by the opponents have been demolished in court. That leaves only a highly improbable political route. And so when it comes time for a political candidate to say whether they will use their power as an elected official to support the Purple Line, an answer like Ms. Daly's can only be interpreted as a declaration that they are on the opponents' side, but being dishonest about it.

by Crickey7 on Jun 6, 2014 1:05 pm • linkreport

Kelly, you all were perfectly clear, I was just referring to what Ms. Daly herself said when she arrived, after the forum had ended.

by joe in ss on Jun 6, 2014 1:11 pm • linkreport

Are ACT and their partner groups, like PLN and CSG, focused primarily on transit or development? Are these groups funded by developers and so advocating on their behalf? My family supports a Purple Line - it will help me in traveling to/from UMD? But we do not support blatant or behind the scenes electioneering masquerading as public education. It wouldn't matter who the target was - if the means were not proper and were deceptive, we would be raising a fuss.

The real story is whether the scorecard aims to truly inform voters or to steer them to partner candidates that ACT seeks to keep in office. Since ACT is not a public interest group (not a registered non-profit) one is left to wonder who they answer to.

PS, and an important one - the controversy about the transportation forum wasn't that an ACT member wanted questions asked at the forum. The problem was, and is, that a candidate, George Leventhal, was inserting himself in an ostensibly non-profit forum in order to benefit his bid for re-election. Candidate Leventhal was actively working through members of some of the groups organizing the forum to establish what would be asked and how.

While CSG sought, at some later point at the urging of several of the other sponsoring groups, to right the misdirection - it is unclear how much participation the Candidate had throughout.

Josh Goldman, UMD School of Engineering

by Joshua Goldman on Jun 6, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

Are ACT and their partner groups, like PLN and CSG, focused primarily on transit or development?

Why not both? And the planning for the purple line has been pretty clear that this will support a lot of new development (that will probably come no matter what) so it's hard to see how a developer's interest would be behind-the-scenes if its been a goal all along.

The real story is whether the scorecard aims to truly inform voters or to steer them to partner candidates that ACT seeks to keep in office.

They detailed what they asked, and provided full responses (to my knowledge). Your vote is your own and thus you can interpret the answers however you want (one could see ACT's minuses on a candidate as a reason to vote for him/her).

by drumz on Jun 6, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

Not sure what you mean by "a Purple Line."

There is no "a Purple Line." There is the Purple Line, and there are a bunch of alternatives that have been extensively studied and ruled out because they are objectively inferior. BRT on Jones Bridge Rd. one oft-mentioned alternative, is one example. It's an idea that a short review of the facts would cause one to dismiss, yet opponents of light rail on the Georgetown Branch won't give it up. Same with heavy rail underground. The engineering challenges to that are formidable, and would cause the costs--which the same opponents grumble about--to skyrocket.

References to "connectivity" are clearly more of the same.

by Crickey7 on Jun 6, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

It seems that another tactic opponents of transit will used is accusing opponents of being in league with "Greedy Developers". So a couple points here?

-Is there any evidence that ACT is in the pocket of the developers, as they suggest?

-Is it a bad thing if developers make money due to new transit coming in? Of course they would make money, otherwise they wouldn't be building transit oriented development. And it's a good thing that transit oriented development is profitable, because that sort of development is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly that development in the boonies.

I mean, no major infrastructure project is perfect. I wonder if infrastructure project had so much mobilized organization back then as we do know, if we would ever had a National Rail System? The Interstate highway system? Metro at all?

We used to be able to build great projects. Things like the highway system and metro weren't perfect, but it's a damn good thing we have them. What changed where these small groups of busybody malcontents have gotten such power to make any sort of progress so difficult?

by KingmanPark on Jun 6, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

The response from Crickey7 really strikes me as illustrative of the polarizing nature of these "discussions." I write "a Purple Line" and, like greased lightening, here come some hot references and absolutes.

I am a MC resident, a student and a voter - I will read the answers to the questionnaire for myself and look at public records.

by Joshua Goldman on Jun 6, 2014 2:24 pm • linkreport

I, too, am an MC resident. I've lived within 2 miles of the proposed route of the Purple Line for 80% of my life. I've lived at both ends of the Georgetown Branch, even remember when it was still a coal train line. I've travelled by car along much of the proposed route in rush hour and experienced how very bad it is.

I've waited patiently a long time for the plans to make it this far. And now that it cannot be stopped, only delayed and made more expensive, I have in fact lost sympathy for elected politicians who would reward those who wish to do just that.

by Crickey7 on Jun 6, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

@Joshua Goldman, the purpose of the ACT scorecard is to inform voters. I am happy that it is serving this purpose for you.

As for whom ACT answers to -- I am a member of the ACT board, and I answer to myself.

by Miriam on Jun 6, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

The response from Crickey7 really strikes me as illustrative of the polarizing nature of these "discussions." I write "a Purple Line" and, like greased lightening, here come some hot references and absolutes.

And phrases like "a Purple Line" and "I support the east-west connectivity of..." illustrate wishy-washy language used to insinuate that there are still options on the table beyond the plan that has been agreed to.

by MLD on Jun 6, 2014 3:06 pm • linkreport

Giving Daly the same grade as those who were both more clear and supportive of the PL - such as Marc Korman - isn't fair to them. The criteria are clear - her answer was not.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 6, 2014 3:41 pm • linkreport

Helpful:

"small groups of busybody malcontents"

I am a real person. I am not to be pigeon-holed.

I hope my generation can listen better and talk less.

by Joshua Goldman on Jun 6, 2014 3:57 pm • linkreport

Well, Joshua, I'm pleased that we share some sentiments. I feel that Ms Daly's response would also have benefitted from brevity. It could have been a simple, declarative yes or no like other candidates, and the issue would have been avoided.

by Crickey7 on Jun 6, 2014 4:02 pm • linkreport

@KingmanPark
We used to be able to build great projects. Things like the highway system and metro weren't perfect, but it's a damn good thing we have them. What changed where these small groups of busybody malcontents have gotten such power to make any sort of progress so difficult?

I think that what changed was the backlash to the highway-building era, when many inner-city neighborhoods were demolished to make things easier for suburban commuters. The freeway revolts eventually stopped the process (happily before too much of Washington was affected), with the result that it is now more difficult to override neighborhood objections. Unfortunately, such power can be wielded against worthy projects as well as unworthy ones... and of course is more powerful in the hands of well-off constituencies.

by alurin on Jun 6, 2014 4:16 pm • linkreport

@Joshua Goldman,

You are a person, but so are the proponents of the purple line, who you suggested are in the pocket of the developers.

What's need more than listening or talking is doing. Environmental degradation is a real and ongoing thing and it is critical that we take steps now to move away from sprawl/auto oriented development to something sustainable. Excessive worrying about whether someone will wake money during this shift in development priority is to miss the point.

by KingmanPark on Jun 6, 2014 5:03 pm • linkreport

I like the idea of an 8.5 minute ride between downtown Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring.

Sure beats the 40 minute drive between the two I made the other day.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 6, 2014 5:06 pm • linkreport

The other thing I talked with my colleague about (a person high up in MoCo) is how all the discussions of fixed rail transit wrt the Purple Line and streetcars (in DC and Columbia Pike) is that people argue about them a-historically, refusing to acknowledge the history of fixed rail transit and those modes, either present day experience or historical, let alone the success of fixed rail transit in our region--Metrorail specifically.

How these discussions can be so theoretical and completely divorced from practical knowledge is so f*ing frustrating to me, even if transit nerds somewhat are the only people who understand the financing end.

wrt the first comment by KingmanPark vis a vis Beth Daly, I was thinking the same could apply to Mary Hyne in Arlington.

It's said that transit leadership by ArCo is disintegrating, which has to make me question my plaudits on Chris Zimmerman, at least somewhat...

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2014/03/i-agree-transportation-issues-not-on.html

by Richard Layman on Jun 6, 2014 6:24 pm • linkreport

@Crickey7:

You do realize there are options between BRT (in name only) and underground HRT? A premetro system, like Seattle's Link or an automated system like Vancouver's Skytrain have a smaller footprint and could likely be built underground for less than a full Metrorail line.

I think the Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring will be great for regional mobility due to its dedicated ROW. But the on-street segment between Silver Spring and points east will be agonizingly slow due to its zig-zag alignment.

by Reza on Jun 6, 2014 6:26 pm • linkreport

@Joshua Goldman: You are right to wonder whether some of these "Smart Growth" groups are funded by developers. Coalition for Smarter Growth's website says the group gets money from a slew of them, including Trammell Crow, EYA, the JBG Companies and Bozzuto.
http://www.smartergrowth.net/about/annual-report-financial-information/#finance

by Skeptic on Jun 6, 2014 8:31 pm • linkreport

Country clubs, and residents of Chevy Chase with $1M+ homes are more like developers than they can admit. And they're worlds different from people who stand to benefit the most from the Purple Line: the people who clean up after them.

by Neil Flanagan on Jun 6, 2014 10:54 pm • linkreport

I am going to start with a comment sent to the listserve of my neighborhood (North Woodside) just yesterday concerning the Woodside Purple Line station, where construction will require wiping out about a dozen businesses that serve the community.

"As enthusiastic as I am about the Purple Line, I am concerned about the Spring St shopping center. So many shopping centers have low occupancy but this one is at or near capacity all the time. Understanding that the station has to go somewhere, I wonder what will happen to these merchants. Is there a part of the plan that will help these people?"

Now, under ACT's black-and-white view of the world, if Beth Daly or any other candidate expressed a willingness to work on this problem they would be given a minus score. The scoring given by ACT to Beth Daly was not only wrong it was politically STUPID. The obvious favoritism shown by ACT stuck out like a sore thumb and it has damaged their credibility. Why didn't they just endorse Leventhal and their other candidates instead of going through the charade of a scorecard based on answers they didn't intend to follow? Now, Marc, a veteran at these games, knew how to play by just answering yes.
As for the forum, I don't blame Leventhal, who I support, for taking advantage of the opportunity to try to shape questions that would be favorable to him but he should not have had the opportunity. A basic premise of a fair forum is that everyone plays by the same rules. Either everybody gets the questions in advance or nobody gets the questions in advance.
I want to applaud Kelly for refusing to knuckle under to the lobbying. I also want to applaud Communities for Transit which is actually seeking out civic groups for meetings to try to deal with local problems and build support for transit instead of the take no prisoners approach of ACT.

by Woody brosnan on Jun 7, 2014 7:38 am • linkreport

More comment. Barry Goldwater, the GOP caEndidate for President in 1964, famously said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

It is alarming to me that so many of the transit advocates seem to think that extremism in the defense of transit is no vice. I don't know how anyone can defend slanted scorecards or staged forums.

by Woody brosnan on Jun 7, 2014 7:58 am • linkreport

Woody B, I understand where you are coming from on this issue, but the reason ACT had the specific standard of as "described in the Locally Preferred Alternative," was - assume - because there are still some folks that want to route it up to NIH, or want it to be an enhanced bus line on E-W Hwy, or stopping at the Conn. Ave. line. So, if a candidate wants the line going up into Bethesda Naval and NIH, they would just answer 'no'. That, too, is a legitimate point of view, even if ACT does not share it.

Daly's saying she supports a generic Purple Line - on one hand - and going along with opponents at neighborhood meetings, on the other is trying to have it both ways.

I think the results are useful whether or not you agree with ACT's criteria.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 7, 2014 9:08 am • linkreport

Thank you Skeptic for that
It seems like ACT presents itself as on behalf of local voters at County Council meetings, as if they weren't a developer paid lobby.
A version of the Purple line was a good idea, I think some of its merit got waylaid by mission creep and lobbies like these causing delays and expenses to balloon, but unlike some other ACT pushes - it'll still be a net plus in the end.
But I do think ACT's local agency and grass-roots image needs unmasking. Thanks.

by asffa on Jun 7, 2014 9:57 am • linkreport

Joshua, again writing as the organizer of the forum, I can assure you that Councilmember Leventhal had no influence over the questions or organization of the forum, nor did any other candidate. After prioritizing the questions we received from the public and partners, together with partners, we gave those questions over to all of the candidates and to our neutral moderator (who ended up asking some of his own questions anyway). I understand the rumor mill gets going around election time, but I can assure you that the forum was fairly organized and resulted in a great discussion. You can see for yourself in the video: http://vimeo.com/96936414

by Kelly Blynn on Jun 7, 2014 10:16 am • linkreport

When homeowners are literally going to be asked to pay for some of these projects and live with their environmental impact, and yet their views and input are treated as "NIMBY".

Developer lobbies are often looking at increasing profits to themselves using these "NIMBYs" own dollars and some of the time bias given toward these lobbies by politicians is marketly unbalanced to local interests. If there's 5 minutes given over a subject for public comment in a County Council Meeting and the same politicians are spending hours in sponsored ACT forums (or "educational" things), people are not getting their representation.

by asffa on Jun 7, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

The baseless smear attacks by skeptic and asffa are completely out of bounds. ACT is a membership-run organization which gets more than half of its budget from its members. I can only conclude that the defenders of Beth Daly here have no real arguments other than the ones that David Alpert already answered very well in the original post (and which Woody Brosnan - who, to be clear, is debating the issues honorably - repeats in his comments).

by Ben Ross on Jun 7, 2014 10:38 am • linkreport

Ben Ross - My comment is not out of bounds, you're talking about grants like 100K ones, not exactly pennies.

by asffa on Jun 7, 2014 12:15 pm • linkreport

I agree with Ben on this one. While I disagree with ACT on their handling of their scorecard I think it is entirely unfair to accuse them of being a front for developers or any such thing. People who make such assertions should have some proof to back it up. In other words,let's keep it civil.

by Woody brosnan on Jun 7, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

Asffa - Please stop making false accusations. ACT's total annual expenditures in recent years has run between $10,000 and $15,000. We are planning to raise it to the $20,000-$25,000 range this year because of $7000 raised in pledges from our members.

by Ben Ross on Jun 7, 2014 1:15 pm • linkreport

Ben Ross is ACT really unaffiliated with Coalition for Smarter Growth? http://www.smartergrowth.net/about/annual-report-financial-information/#EOY
I have no interest in being false.

by asffa on Jun 7, 2014 1:32 pm • linkreport

ACT has no affiliation with CSG.

by Tracey A. Johnstone on Jun 7, 2014 1:42 pm • linkreport

Asffa, ACT does not receive any money from CSG. The reason ACT puts out the candidate scorecard is that it is not a 501c3, and therefore can engage in political activity.

The two organizations, along with many other organizations like the Sierra Club, WABA etc, have collaborated on the recent candidate forum and last year worked in a coalition on the transportation tax.

See

http://www.actfortransit.org/about_us.html

and also see the CSG website for their non-profit status.

by Ronit A Dancis on Jun 7, 2014 1:49 pm • linkreport

It's so tempting to resort to boogeymen. Everyone who questions a development is a NIMBY. Everyone on the other side is fronting for a developer.

When people in the Silver Spring community were fighting -- successfully -- to prevent the closing of Sligo Creek Golf Course there were some of our supporters who said developers wanted the property. But it was not an argument we used at the Sligo Creek Golf Association because there was no evidence for it. (There was evidence Montgomery soccer wanted the land.)

Itis easier to call someone a name, a lot easier than recognizing an honest difference of opinion and talking it out. But in the long run playing the boogeyman card is not a winning tactic.

by Woody brosnan on Jun 7, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry, I thought the two organizations were associated.
Woody brosnan, CSG's 669K this year was only 18% "individual" support.

Despite what the Supreme Court says about it, corporations - "non-profit" or 501c3 - are corporations, and irregardless of status, generally lobby in order to take and sell something to make someone rich.
That's not a boogieman, that's the political system, or maybe it's a boogieman, the way "corporations are people."

by asffa on Jun 7, 2014 2:31 pm • linkreport

@asffa: Since you "have no interest in being false," would you like to make it clear that your earlier statements were false? e.g.:
It seems like ACT presents itself as on behalf of local voters at County Council meetings, as if they weren't a developer paid lobby. . . .

But I do think ACT's local agency and grass-roots image needs unmasking.

by Gray on Jun 7, 2014 2:53 pm • linkreport

asffa says : "...CSG's 669K this year was only 18% "individual" support.", then goes on to imply that the rest of the support came from corporations.

But the CSG's financial statemen very clearly shows that 2/3 of their support came from foundations. Their support from corporations was only a little more than 10% of their total support, and was LESS than their support from individuals. But none of these facts can deter asffa from smearing CSG as being in the pocket of corporations.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Jun 7, 2014 2:54 pm • linkreport

501c3s can be involved in "political activities" including producing scorecards of the sort that is under discussion here.

What 501c3s cannot do is endorse specific candidates. 501c4s can do that. Typically those are political action committees and similar kinds of organizations.

by Richard Layman on Jun 7, 2014 6:39 pm • linkreport

oh, and donations to c3s are tax deductible, while donations to c4s are not.

by Richard Layman on Jun 7, 2014 6:42 pm • linkreport

Gray, sure. I was wrong about ACT, they're not part of the CSG lobby, not affiliated with CSG lobby, do not receive 100k grants, and get their funding from individuals.
So they aren't doing that.
It's also been made clear to me they can make political endorsements regarding candidates.

by asffa on Jun 7, 2014 6:58 pm • linkreport

To be clear -- NONE of these organizations (ACT, CSG or Communities for Transit - CFT) are registered 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4).

ACT says on their web site: "ACT is not eligible for 501(c)(3) tax status because of our advocacy work."

CSG clearly gets significant support from the real estate and development industry and is not a c3 or c4.

Communities For Transit (CFT) was not started by communities but by development interests in White Flint and White Oak. Not a c3 or c4.

Both CSG and CFT have full time employees who lobby government officials.

All 3 organizations often team up to advocate for specific projects and in the case of the recent forum, ACT and CSG were sponsors.

Since they are not charitable organizations that are limited in political and lobbying activity by tax exempt status, they can engage in political and lobbying activities for private interests as much as they want.

Not making a judgement - just providing the information for those who may not be aware. Frankly many who don't follow these things, think they are all the same organization.

by BillR on Jun 8, 2014 8:24 am • linkreport

Thanks for explaining BillR

by asffa on Jun 8, 2014 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Woody brosnan:

"As enthusiastic as I am about the Purple Line, I am concerned about the Spring St shopping center. So many shopping centers have low occupancy but this one is at or near capacity all the time. Understanding that the station has to go somewhere, I wonder what will happen to these merchants. Is there a part of the plan that will help these people?"

What does this even mean? There's a long established template for "helping those people" -- they get paid for the value of the property being taken. What, exactly, do you want above and beyond that? Look around--there is nowhere left in the DC region where you can run any new infrastructure project without either bulldozing a nature preserve or bulldozing an existing structure. If the standard is "don't ever impact anyone anywhere" we can just turn out the lights & go home (assuming a home not in this region) because we can't sustain current population levels without additional infrastructure.

Side note: playing "this shopping center is more desirable than that shopping center" is how you get SW DC. The decisions about regional transit need to be made with an eye toward minimizing impact regionally. It is fundamentally unjust to push off all the costs onto "undesirables" with less of a public voice.

by Mike on Jun 9, 2014 7:34 am • linkreport

To Mike:
The quote, which was not from me but from a resident of my neighborhood, was intended to illustrate the mixed feelings the Purple Line generates. This resident is a Purple Line supporter. She knows that just being close to the Purple Line stations will increase the value of her home and thus her nest egg when she chooses to retire. But she is concerned about the impact on small businesses and the loss of some of these retail establishments for the neighborhood.

But apparently you immediately jumped to the conclusion that this concern was from a Purple Line opponent. Why? Can't we even have a discussion about these impacts?

by woody brosnan on Jun 9, 2014 8:22 am • linkreport

@woody brosnan: again--what, exactly, do you want above and beyond compensating the owner for the value of the property? sure, sure, everyone's always "a supporter", but what then is the point of the hand-wringing? the only conclusion I jumped to is that people spend way too much time agonizing over a decision which should have been made at least a decade ago. what, exactly, do you expect the outcome of a "discussion about these impacts" to be? I note that you went right to criticizing my question rather than addressing it.

by Mike on Jun 9, 2014 8:52 am • linkreport

I am a strong Purple Line supporter, but like Woody Brosnan also want attention to be paid to mitigating the loss of the Spring Center as much as possible.

I live near the Spring Center and use several of the businesses in the Spring Center regularly. I will regret losing them. But the Spring Center is hard to reach except by car, and it is an uninviting strip mall that is hardly an attractive destination. There will be some land remaining adjacent to the new Woodside Purple Line Station that will be availible for redevelopment after Purple Line construction. The Purple Line presents an opportunity to create some retail here that is more inviting and more accessible to the neighborhoods than a strip mall.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Jun 9, 2014 8:53 am • linkreport

@Wayne Phyillaier: an actual proposal rather than hand-wringing is excellent, and worth further discussion.

by Mike on Jun 9, 2014 8:58 am • linkreport

thank you wayne. The planning board has added the 16th street station to the plan for the Lyttonsville station and sector plan so the community will have input. my point was not to debate the relative merits of shopping centers or business compensation but these are the kinds of concerns civic leaders hear from residents and they should not be dismissed.

by woody brosnan on Jun 9, 2014 9:14 am • linkreport

Wayne nails it. This is an opportunity to do something better than a strip mall off a high speed road that most only drive to. Of course there will be some losers in any large project, but it's always a matter of weighing the posivites against the negatives both in the short term and longer term.

by Thayer-D on Jun 9, 2014 10:09 am • linkreport

BillR -- I don't understand why CSG isn't incorporated as a c3. They take donations through a fiscal sponsor, which is usually the act of a group that is in the process of becoming a c3. (Technically, the process of incorporation is separate from the process of getting tax exempt status--501c3--from the IRS and whatever local processes exist.)

- http://www.smartergrowth.net/about/annual-report-financial-information/#PEC

Were ACT to incorporate and get tax status, they'd be a c4, because they endorse candidates. Some orgs. do set up separate but affiliated c3s and c4s, so that they can do endorsements in a coordinated fashion.

by Richard Layman on Jun 9, 2014 4:27 pm • linkreport

Richard Layman -- You would have to ask CSG why they are not a c3 or c4. They have been around a long time and have plenty of staff. They are not incorporated either. Again none of these orgs are c3 or c4.

by BillR on Jun 11, 2014 3:37 pm • linkreport

@BillR with cc to Richard Layman. CSG's fundraising letters quite clearly state that contributions are tax deductible. So the onus would be on you to defend your claim, not on Richard Layman.

by JimT on Jun 19, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

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