Saturday, June 27, 2009


It is Dr. Yes' natural response to say, "YES!" to developers - and predictably, he's done it again. I'm following a two-track power grab by the developer-beholden County Council and Planning Board.

On the Planning Board side, the law makes clear that a development moratorium must be imposed when schools reach a certain level of overcrowding. That was not convenient for a developer with a project going forward in downtown Bethesda. So Dr. Yes (a.k.a. Royce Hanson) and other developer allies on the Board have rushed to approve that questionable project - without regard for the design or the impact on Bethesda ES and other schools.

It seems that Amy Presley, one of 2 members to vote "NO" on that, is the only objective member of the board. Former delegate and fellow Republican Jean Cryor does offer much hand-wringing, but virtually always goes ahead and votes with Dr. Yes and the developers.

We hear all of this doublespeak from Dr. Yes and Rollin Stanley, but the results going forward are clear: our current officials have no intention of making substantive road and highway improvements, have no regard for the quality of education nor the environmental conditions in our school buildings, and have set a mad course for radical infill overdevelopment countywide.

Meanwhile, councilmembers Nancy Floreen (D - at Large), Mike Knapp (D - Upcounty), and Marc Elrich (Marc Elrich - helping developers?!) (D - at Large) are planning to wave a magic wand and generate generous new funds for Bethesda school construction.

Improvements to recently-built schools in wealthy areas would then take precedence over improvements to old buildings in Gaithersburg, Damascus, and Silver Spring, for example.

And the goal of these councilmembers is to ignore the law and lift the moratorium in Bethesda, not the one in Clarksburg - putting councilmember Knapp in the position of betraying not only the schoolchildren in his own district, but residential development and business interests in the Upcounty, as well.

What does this mean in the most basic sense?

It means that older schools, such as those in the Damascus cluster, will not receive emergency funds while new schools in Bethesda will. Those schools - Damascus ES, Baker MS, and Damascus HS - all have specific facility needs which have been delayed for "lack of funds." Yet, we are to believe that funds can magically appear for Bethesda school improvements?

But it also reveals again what I said in 2006: the school population estimates have been set too low. Here in Bethesda, Woodacres ES will install its sixth portable this fall. And that is a brand new school, built a few years ago.

Same for Bethesda ES and the renovated Westland MS. Schools which could have been built larger.

Biased reporters laughed off my comments at the time, but look like fools now.

It's outrageous.

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