Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett's attempt to produce a doomsday budget, designed to justify - what else? - more new taxes, has only increased the spotlight on his poor management of public safety in the county.
Already, residents were unable to get through to 911 for hours a few weeks ago. Mr. Leggett had few answers for what went wrong in this unspeakable situation, but many excuses. This echoed his earlier response to complaints about the county's poor road-clearing efforts during the recent winter storm.
Now Mr. Leggett is threatening Bethesda residents - threatening to make life more dangerous by cutting funds to our Glen Echo volunteer fire department.
According to the latest Gazette:
"$400,000 would be saved by reducing overtime for emergency medics by transferring resources from Glen Echo and Laytonsville, which also would increase response times to those communities overnight, according to [Leggett]."
These funds could easily be recovered from Mr. Leggett's many unpopular pet projects, where too much of our tax money is ending up these days. To instead risk the lives of Bethesda residents is an abomination and certainly does not qualify as responsible leadership.
The film National Treasure: Book of Secrets was #1 at the box office last weekend. Readers of this blog know that the National Treasure film crew lived in a tent city at the Westwood Shopping Center on Westbard earlier this year. In fact, I broke the story and no news organization in town ever covered it.
I personally was wandering around in the midst of this impromptu Hollywood set, and toured the tent city. At one point, I thought about getting in line for some of the hot and hearty victuals that were being served up. It smelled good. Besides operating a dining hall in the parking lot, there were all kinds of big rigs, equipment, campers, and props - including fake Metropolitan Police cruisers.
Of course, this was with the approval of Richard Cohen and Capital Properties of New York. And without permission from or notification of the adjacent neighborhoods. This gave some indication of the level of respect we can expect from CP as the redevelopment of Westbard goes forward. The legality of using a parking lot as a campground and food service operation is still in question.
What cannot be disputed is that this episode proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the rare value offered by ample surface parking lots. With most lots having been replaced by garages charging outrageous prices, Jerry Bruckheimer had little choice but to turn to the humble Westwood Shopping Center.
Thank you, Capital Properties, for making my own case for why we must retain that ample surface parking, just as W.C. & A.N. Miller did so successfully in their redevelopment of Little Falls Mall. The new Little Falls Mall - now called the Shops at Sumner Place (but still Little Falls Mall to those who live around here) is the blueprint to follow on Westbard.
Despite my criticism of Capital Properties, the film is great - "fourrrr starrrrrs" as Arch Campbell would say. The original National Treasure was four stars as well. Perhaps it helps to be a history major like me, or at least to have an interest in American history. Part of the new movie was shot on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park. Very familiar to me. But there are plenty of other familiar locations in the movie you will recognize.
They don't make many family films like this anymore, so you ought to reward yourself and the filmmakers with your $10 ticket purchase. A patriotic, All-American film like National Treasure won't get a second thought from the far-left media elites and Academy Awards, but this is one of the top movies of the year.