Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Congressman Chris Van Hollen released an "I really, really mean it this time" letter yesterday, grandstanding over the 6900 Wisconsin Avenue Bethesda Post Office fiasco.

Van Hollen certainly knows how to provide a good chuckle to start the day.

By day's end, the USPS had once again asserted its primacy over our stumbling congressman, who was left wildly but ineffectually swinging at the Postal Service, which held him off at arms length.

Van Hollen is no dummy - keep in mind, he actually beat a Kennedy in Montgomery County (in Sargent Shriver's backyard, no less!) to get his seat.

But his two letters - written long after the new Post Office had already opened, and even longer after I had exposed the folly of the new location this past Spring - are an entirely farcical exercise.

Beyond the fact that USPS continues to ignore him, the larger question remains unasked by local media:

Did Van Hollen and the Montgomery County Council

a) Pay no attention to a matter as significant as the closure of two Post Offices in an area with many senior citizens, and have no familiarity with the town of Bethesda they represent, to the extent that they had no idea there was no parking at the selected site?


b) participate in the relocation process, and give their approval to the move, despite the reality that there was no parking?

Either answer is embarrassing for these elected officials.

The county and national Democratic Party is letting Van Hollen twist in the wind for a while on this, partly as punishment for his failure to stop the Tea Party victories of 2010.

Pretty soon they'll step in to save him, though, and it won't be of much help to Bethesda.

That establishment is now floating the idea of reopening the historic Post Office near the Bethesda Metro station.  That would take care of the "walkability" issue for many downtown residents.

However, the 7400 Wisconsin Avenue site would do absolutely nothing to solve the problems for those who need to drive, are disabled, or are senior citizens who cannot walk safely and require vehicle access.  It is the loss of the former Arlington Road facility, with its ample parking and drive-up mailboxes, that is most devastating to the Bethesda community.

The fact is, this was a rush job allowed by local politicians to open the two sites for development as quickly as possible.  USPS has acknowledged it acted under great pressure.

Van Hollen is right; we need a new downtown Post Office.  The problem is, I wrote about that need last Spring, it was even linked to by Bethesda Patch, and yet Van Hollen had not a word to say about it at that time.

Then it opened, his constituents went nuts when they found out there was no parking, and all of a sudden Van Hollen is blustering and grandstanding.

Instead of answers to tough questions, we the taxpayers are being treated to a farcical fiasco.

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