Sunday, February 01, 2015


Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has asked County Council President George Leventhal to remove a Maryland House bill that would have enabled creation of an Independent Transit Authority from Monday's Council agenda, according to an email sent out by Leventhal. The Washington Post reports Leggett has not yet decided if he will simply amend the bill, or scrap it entirely. The overwhelming condemnation of the bill, and the deceptive process by which it was rammed through without public knowledge, suggests the latter would be the wisest political option.

Leventhal's email, circulated via Council spokesperson Neil Greenberger, said the "Council discussion of the issue will occur at a time to be determined later."

The bill would have created a non-elected authority with the power to raise unlimited taxes, assume unlimited debt, and seize private property at will, without even having to get approval for its budget from either Leggett or the Council. Kept hidden for several weeks, the bill gained public attention only when it was filed past deadline in Annapolis last Friday. That enraged civic leaders and residents, who had only 6 days to prepare for a January 30 public hearing, and try to figure out all that the bill contained. And that was quite a bit.

As I mentioned in my report on Friday night's public hearing, don't expect this to go away. The bill became toxic, but the Post report suggests county politicians haven't learned their lesson. 

The Council's administrator, Glenn Orlin, is quoted saying that the County Council has the power to create taxing districts already. But his preference, the Post report says, is "'to shelve the bill for now and work on a comprehensive solution over the next six months,' then file a revised state bill."

In other words, get ready to do this all over again in a few months. Expect there to be one or more provisions added to split up the powerful coalition of civic activists, taxpayers and unions that defeated the bill this weekend, by offering the unions substantive protection for their employees. We all know that this unlimited taxing power, exempt from the Ficker Amendment cap, is what the politicians want - not privatization of Ride On.

Meaning, yes, they'll tweak some parts of the package and be less secretive, but ultimately, they'll get what they and their developer sugar daddies want.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it's not going forward.

Will Leggett pull a fast one like he did with the ambulance tax? The council passed it, then the voters defeated it in referendum, then they pass it again against the will of the voters. Disgusting.

Robert Dyer said...

6:40: Wouldn't rule it out. They need that ability to exceed the current property tax badly, if they are to deliver the profit opportunities their developer sugar daddies are demanding of them.

Anonymous said...

Good news. We should be eliminating transit taxes not raising them.

If MoCo wants to grow let the developers build new houses in the open spaces and not change the historic character of the current suburban environment we all enjoy.

If they want roads and utilities to the new houses the developers and the new homeowners can foot the bill. If they can't afford it then we can't afford growth.

The government should just be a barebones staff working remotely and managing contracts and permits for private companies. Not attempting to provide services themselves. If the private companies can't afford to provide the services they aren't worth providing.