Friday, February 17, 2017

How many armed guards does MoCo planning chair need to speak to a representative of a black church? (Photos)

You will be able to judge your local elected officials by the degree to which they condemn the Montgomery County Planning Department's over-the-top reaction to peaceful protesters at their headquarters yesterday in Silver Spring. The protesters were asking the board to delay consideration of developer Equity One's sketch plan, until an African-American cemetery buried under part of the property can be fully investigated. Not only does the plan propose to construct a new building and garage atop the cemetery, but witnesses have reported the graveyard was desecrated by construction crews in the late 1960s, who reportedly illegally moved remains they encountered while excavating for Westwood Tower.

The optics of board chair Casey Anderson calling in armed police officers to surround him Secret Service-style, while speaking to a representative of a historic black church, created a public relations disaster that had even the County's Deputy Planning Director grimacing. But the more you analyze yesterday's debacle, the worse it looks. Forget about "How many County Council members does it take to screw in a light bulb?" It's time to consider, "How many armed guards does Casey Anderson need to speak to a representative of a black church?"

Isn't something fundamentally wrong with the direction our county is currently headed, that - for the first time I can recall - Planning Board meetings in 2015 and 2016 would end with residents shouting at the commissioners? Residents increasingly find their so-called public servants are actually at war with them, trying to force major changes developers are seeking, that are opposed by the vast majority of the community. In the past, mass uprising against a government proposal would cause it to be tabled. Now our officials ignore the boos, lower their shoulders, and power into the end zone - sometimes even sharing a touchdown dance with the developers who have scored the win.

A Council and Board at war with their own constituents probably explains why a grand total of 7 police vehicles (each one presumably representing at least one officer to drive it) were ultimately deployed against protesters by the Planning Department yesterday. I counted 6 Park Police vehicles, and 1 County police cruiser. I personally have never seen more than one armed police officer at the board, and only when a contentious public hearing is scheduled. Part of ignoring constituent anger, is hiding behind armed guards so you can continue to thumb your nose at residents, and advance your agenda.

When you consider this is Black History Month, you'd think the planning department and board in a liberal county like this would be bending over backwards to be sensitive to the concerns of the Macedonia Baptist Church, rather than appeasing the fiscal timeline of an out-of-state developer. Yet black, white, and Asian protesters were denied their First Amendment rights to carry signs into the public board meeting yesterday right off the bat. Even our corrupt County Council has never enforced such a rule.

Protesters silently waited at the back of the room until the meeting recessed, and then a representative of the church, Marcia Coleman-Adebayo, approached Anderson to deliver a community petition. Anderson refused to accept it. He was technically correct that he should not speak to any side in a matter pending before the board, but he has been quick to ignore that rule when a developer wants to speak with him, as detailed in my report yesterday. But did Anderson need three armed police officers surrounding him to have a civil conversation? And could he simply have accepted the petition and handed it to a staff member?

The racial and gender subtexts of the encounter made it all the more troubling - and surprising - in a county many have assumed was progressive and politically-correct to a fault. Concerns of the church have always taken a back seat to the concerns of Equity One at the board, as the agenda for February 23 shows. Perhaps the Montgomery County political cartel, under pressure from its developer overlords, "doesn't have time to be politically correct anymore." Let's take a look:
Coleman-Adebayo (R) attempts
to hand Anderson (L) the petition;
he refuses to accept it

Now, let's zoom out and
examine the "threat matrix"
here - two women speaking
to Anderson (center),
two children and
Rev. Nancy McDonald-Ladd
(second from right) of the River Road
Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
Does this conversation appear in
need of police intervention to you?
Here comes Officer 1 to
Anderson's side

A second officer hurries over, and
they form a phalanx around
Anderson. A third officer
is standing to my left. 

Zoom out again -
all I see here are
women and children
having a civil discussion,
or listening quietly
Seemingly sensing how bad
the optics of this are,
Deputy Planning Director Rose Krasnow
appears to intervene. She
places her hand on the shoulder of one
of the officers, saying something to him
and to Anderson. Anderson shortly
thereafter exited the room
On video of the episode, Krasnow
can be seen grimacing twice at the
events transpiring. As an experienced
mayor and official from a time of
kindler, gentler Montgomery County
politics, my hunch is Krasnow would
not have wasted 7 officers' time pulling
them off the street for a non-event

like this, if she were
in charge


84 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill Turque's report was excellent!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/tensions-escalate-between-montgomery-and-church-over-possible-black-cemetery/2017/02/16/122852ec-f44a-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?hpid=hp_local-news_westbard-315am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ddcc048f837c

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't go without SEAL TEAM 6.

Robert Dyer said...

5:42: Yes, he's a good reporter.

Roald said...

I still maintain that anyone voting for this plan is disqualifying themselves for future office.

Robert Dyer said...

5:45: Sounds like a Casey Anderson quote when he "learned that protests are planned for Thursday, February 16 and Thursday, February 23 at the Planning Department." Maybe in another 5 years, he'll be down to: "Guards...SEIZE THEM!" at every other meeting.

Robert Dyer said...

5:47: Oh, yeah, I agree. "The whole world is watching" the Planning Board on February 23.

Anonymous said...

Robert your reporting on these events is in large measure good. However, it is clear that you are advocating against the Westbard redevelopment -- which is your right. But it would be more appropriate to separate out news reports and op-eds. Obviously this is your blog so you have the ability to publish articles in any way you choose. But it would be more persuasive to me if there was some clarity on what is intended to be factual reporting, and what is intended to efforts to persuade citizens to take stands against the Westbard redevelopment process. The latter is more in line with the Save Westbard group. I'm pretty sure I can parse out the two distinct goals, but I am less inclined to visit the blog when they are blended together.
I am in favor of the redevelopment and believe the County Council and Planning Department have proceeded in a reasonable manner (I know that is anethema to your views). I do try to be open to contrary views and recognize that the process, in general, can be frustrating for residents of the area.

Anonymous said...

I love the way "Roald" pops up right in the middle of Dyer's conversation with himself.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they only had 2 armed guards with your trench coat wearing ass in the audience

Anonymous said...

"Nancy McDonald-Ladd of the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation"

An African-American Christian church being represented by a bunch of white agnostics. Lol

Anonymous said...

It would be cool if Casey Anderson says "release the hounds" next time Dyer shows up.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the story, attack the journalist.
It's not normal for county elected officials and staff to attack journalists.

Robert Dyer said...

5:53: Fair enough, but I notice you haven't commented on biased reports that lean toward the developer on other sites. Moreover, given that every sentence above is factual, I don't see how it is an opinion piece.

Robert Dyer said...

6:13: There were at least 7 officers on site, not just two.

Anonymous said...

Dyer needs to make up his mind whether he wants to be an objective reporter, an opinion writer, or a political candidate. He can't be all three at the same time.

Anonymous said...

And the White House can monitor the event in the Situation Room.

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of "opinion" rather than "reporting":

"The racial and gender subtexts of the encounter made it all the more troubling - and surprising - in a county many have assumed was progressive and politically-correct to a fault."

Anonymous said...

I agree that this piece is more of a commentary, and less of a news report. It is a reasonable suggestion to flag this as commentary.

I favor scaled down redevelopment of the Westbard site (mixed use, build on the Giant parking lot, but reduced heights-- treetop level, ~50 feet, and considerably more green space; definitely include affordable housing.) I know that local civic associations would be OK with this, and suspect that it would be acceptable to Save Westbard.

Question: why do you favor the project at current density/height levels?

Robert Dyer said...

6:58: But that's a factual statement. If I said Montgomery County has always been conservative Republican territory, THAT would be opinion.

6:45: You not liking my facts doesn't make them not true. You never complain about articles favorable to the Council on The Other Site, because you share their biased view. Every sentence above in the article is factually correct. And I've even got pictures for those who can't read. It happened.

Anonymous said...

6:36AM Dyer
You just chastised 5:53 for not commenting on biased reports on other sites? How do you know that? They posted as anonymous. They didn't mention other sites. They are commenting on this site.

You can use facts for opinion pieces. It's called selective facts. Using only the facts that support your point of view. Although used in the past, it was particularly pervasive in the recent Tea-Party politics.

You claim that you have all these readers, yet you treat them all like trolls if they dare to comment.
The only one looking bad here is you.

Anonymous said...

(Sorry if this repeats an earlier comment that did not appear to post.)

This is a blog, which has more flexible rules than a newspaper or TV news outlet. Blogs were created to mix reporting and opinion.

That said, I agree that it would be useful for Dyer to label commentary pieces as such. That is because Dyer reports so much straight news. Since the demise of the Gazette, this blog is one of the few outlets that consistently covers Bethesda.

Skippy said...

Folks, we're getting a bit off topic by focusing on the Bethesda local media scene. There seems to be enough interest in that topic to warrant a separate blog about the blogs and the men who blog about Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

Please research "facts" The sentence you reference as "fact" is actually subjective.
This is the qualifier "made it all the more troubling - and surprising."
Qualifier, and BTW, fact.

Anonymous said...

A bunch of white gun toting cops to protect black people protesting against a white guy. Seems appropriate for Montgomery County.

Anonymous said...

"The racial and gender subtexts of the encounter made it all the more troubling..."

This is your own opinion, not an objective, "factual statement".

Anonymous said...

Hey Skippy,
It's Dyer himself who takes every comment back to other sites and bloggers.
You need to talk to the boss.

Robert Dyer said...

7:24: Wait a minute, are you actually claiming there's no racial and gender subtext to a powerful white public official using armed white police officers to intimidate and physically block a black woman and several white female supporters?

Anonymous said...

I see one black "protestor", and about 10 white "protestors".

I also see at least one female among the police.

Anonymous said...

The police were there to silence the protesters and to "protect" Casey Anderson. The protesters were peaceful and conducted themselves respectfully. The County's handling of this was very poor.

Robert Dyer said...

7:20: You're not troubled by what you see in the above photos? You're not surprised that liberal and politically correct Montgomery County is thumbing its nose at a black church over a desecrated cemetery containing their ancestors DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH?!

Anonymous said...

Please research "facts"
You are WRONG.
The sentence you reference as "fact" is actually subjective.
This is the qualifier "made it all the more troubling - and surprising."
Qualifier, and BTW, fact.

Skippy said...

7:28 AM A lot of off topic discussion. Great banter for Dyer and other Bethesda bloggers, but most folks just want Dyer's reporting.

99% of readers aren't interested in debating whether their WordPress blog platform is better than Google's, whether a digital only journalist is a "real journalist", what Dyer had for lunch, whether Dyer a Giant or Safeway guy, etc.



Robert Dyer said...

7:14: I read the other site, and I rarely see their bias called out in the comments. Facts.

Tell me which sentence in the above article is not factually correct.

Anonymous said...

"The protesters were peaceful and conducted themselves respectfully."

Do you think they would have been if there had been no police presence? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

I've told you at 7:20 and again at 7:36.
The phrasing makes it subjective.
It's right there for you to see.

Again, ask any language professor, read Elements of Style.

Anonymous said...

You are ASSUMING the poster reads the other sites and is inclined to comment.
The poster DID NOT mention other sites.

Anonymous said...

"Skippy" sure seems eager to talk about what he claims "no one wants to talk about".

...and in fact, are NOT actually talking about.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Skippy. "A lot of off topic discussion."
You mean when we ask him to verify something he said?
Ot when he threatens to punch someone in the face?

Anonymous said...

"Racial subtext": Old white NIMBYs using a long-abandoned African-American cemetery as a pretext for blocking affordable housing in their neighborhood.

"Gender subtext": Male MoCo official talking to any female, in any context.

Anonymous said...

Skippy @ 7:36
I don't remember any convo wondering if the Dyer was a Safeway or Giant guy.
Can ya link to it please? Sounds funny. I'm intrigued.

Skippy said...

7:43AM Just examples of how discussion veers off here into irrelevant topics that 99% of readers aren't interested in. They are interested in the reporting!

Have good day sir.

Anonymous said...

"long-abandoned African-American cemetery"...
I'm hearing this excuse. Basically that what was done is done and we shouldn't try to correct history. That's the wrong way to go.

Just because folks before I was born decided to pave an historic cemetery doesn't mean we, in 2017, simply build a highrise on it. Two wrongs don't make a right.

#RiseUp

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is immaterial, but couldn't those people just not read the comments section?

If they come for the news, then they just skip comments. That's what I do with the Post or the Tribune.

99%. That's a big claim. Maybe more like 60%. Ya think?

Anonymous said...

"Skippy"@ 7:51 AM - You just proved 7:43's point. Again.

#Birdbrain

#UnsignedDyer

Anonymous said...

@7:30 AM:

Why is it significant that one of the police officers is female? I don't see that this changes the trajectory of events: that Montgomery County police were used to intimidate peaceful protesters and to flank Planning Board chair Casey Anderson, so that Anderson could refuse to take a petition from the hands of peaceful protesters.

[NOTE: Anderson seems to contend that accepting the protesters' petition would violate the ex parte communication rules. But accepting a petition is no more a violation of the rules than scheduling a private meeting with developers who have business before the Planning Board, or speaking at a citizens' planning charrette about a pending project, both of which Anderson has done. It appears that Anderson's views of the ex parte rules are, shall we say, "flexible."]

Anonymous said...

Skippy, I notice that you have made three comments this morning, and that none of the pertain, in the slightest, to the actual subject of this article, which is the ongoing controversy over the African-American cemetery at the Westwood Tower site.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, he's a good reporter."

Funny because I'm sure he doesn't consider you to be one.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget his saying the council members were "encouraging and promoting violence."

Another completely unsubstantiated (and erroneous) claim.

Anonymous said...

If the MoCo GOP actually had contested primaries for Council seats, do you think that Dyer would even run?

Anonymous said...

The African-American cemetery was not "abandoned"-- it was bulldozed and paved over. If your ancestors and neighbors were buried there, wouldn't you want the site treated respectfully?

Montgomery County says that it became aware of the cemetery while researching Westbard sector plan in 2015. If so, the County has been monumentally insensitive. The cemetery went unmentioned in the sector plan, and the developer was not required to investigate its location until Macedonia Baptist Church and other local groups complained. So much for the County's professed concern for the cemetery.

Even those 100% in favor of the Westbard development should recognize that ignoring an historic gravesite where human remains may still be present is Just. Plain. Wrong.

Anonymous said...

And threatening someone with decades in a federal prison for putting his own words on a sign.

Anonymous said...

@7:48: Your comment about the cemetery is callous and offensive.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

8:21 AM Can we table the hot stove league about who may or may not run for office? Plenty to discuss with this out of control Council and Planning Board.

I've never seen chaos on the Planning Board like this before.

8:02 AM Anderson can claim whatever he wants, he needs to be fact checked in real time

Anonymous said...

@ 7:37 AM: I am confident that the protesters would have been peaceful and respectful, even without a police presence at the Planning Board. That is because the same group organized and led a peaceful and respectful demonstration of 200 people on the same subject earlier this week.

Anonymous said...

8:34am The Planning Board has been putting out Alternative Facts all week. Read their crazy press releases. They fired up the spin machine big time.

They're claiming their hard work discovered the cemetery. That isn't true.
They're claiming that they are working with the church in good faith. That isn't true (see photos above)

The whole historic area simply needs to be removed from the plan. Declare it historic and a no-development zone.

Anonymous said...

#RiseUp is right. We have a great opportunity here to address the long-standing mistreatment of an African-American cemetery. Why is the Planning Board so reluctant to cooperate with the Macedonia Baptist Church?

Anonymous said...

8.34: You've got to be kidding. Dyer has consistently criticized the Westbard project based on scale, school overcrowding and traffic impact.

On the matter of Equity One driving the process: Equity One is pursuing its business interests. It has no obligation to represent the interests of the community. The Planning Department, the Planning Board and the County Council, on the other hand, do have that obligation. I think they've failed miserably.

Anonymous said...

Pave over the old bones - lets build the future.

Anonymous said...

Dyer is the Skip Bayless of reporting.

Anonymous said...

Can someone give the exact date, time, and location of the next Planning Board meeting? Where is the best place to stand on a public street and protest?

Anonymous said...

This blog has turned into a complete clusterfuck. Can't you just report on local happenings, Dyer? Why insert these batshit crazy vendetta posts every day?

Robert Dyer said...

11:01: You're the one who's crazy - this was the news story of the day. If you want only good news about Montgomery County Government, there are other sites that do that.

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer is terrorizing our fair county :(

Anonymous said...

Dyer the Vampire is leading the Zombies from the cemetery.

#Zombies&VampiresUnited

Anonymous said...

Greater Greater Washington has an article 2/15/17 regarding the never built "Northwest Freeway" which was planned in the late 50's to extend I-270 south into the center of DC. Some of the relevant portions of this article state, "Because the NCPC commissioned these drawings [highway path], they only cover the route in DC. But the highway would have come out of the 270-495 exchange, running along Wisconsin Avenue on the east side through Bethesda. This would have made it a buffer for Chevy Chase until it switched sides in what was then a largely undeveloped Friendship Heights. Had this happened, Downtown Bethesda as we know it likely wouldn't exist.

In a more related section this article goes on to state "[Harland]Bartholomew [NCPC Commiss.], and the author of DC's 1958 Zoning Code, Harold Lewis, knew freeways had big impacts. I-70S fed into an inner loop beltway which Lewis described as a “dam” that would contain downtown. So, even though Bartholomew used parks and tunnels to be sensitive to houses west of Rock Creek, planners wanted to plow I-70S and the inner loop through "obsolete" rowhouse neighborhoods east of the park and the most important (but 'obsolete") black commercial strip, U Street.

The most relevant paragraph then follows; "But the middle of the Civil Rights movement, Bartholomew’s accusations of selfishness backfired: the highly motivated activists joined a citywide coalition to stop all of the highways and build the Metro system. This period is often called the "freeway revolt." Planners took most of the roads off the map, starting with I-70S. Urban renewal efforts shifted from slum clearance to rehabilitation." These conditions though related to highway development are what is at heart today with the Westbard development.

It's history repeating itself.

Anonymous said...

The Planning Board is in chaos, residents are in the streets protesting but an anonymous guy is focused on attacking the journalist bringing the news to us.
Does the Planning Board and Council believe in a free press?

Anonymous said...

@ 1:33 pm - "Ten residents are in the streets protesting"

@ 12:17 pm - No equivalence at all. The proppsed freeways would have demolished thousands of homes. The plans for Westbard will not touch any homes.

Anonymous said...

Also, the existing businesses in Westbard are not being taken by condemnation, by government fiat. The properties are being redeveloped per the request of their owners.

Anonymous said...

Dyer: "You're the one who's crazy - this was the news story of the day. If you want only good news about Montgomery County Government, there are other sites that do that."

That's not what I said, Robert. Not only are your posts batshit, but you are illiterate and crazy as fuck. What a worthless blog this has turned into. How many times do people need to put you in your place before you realize you're not Council material? Just tell me when the next restaurant is opening for fuck's sake.

Anonymous said...

6:10pm BethesdaNOW was the worthless blog. It has been put out of its misery, but its lone writer still writes weird comments here anonymously. He is the true psycho...seriously- Hope he gets help.

Anonymous said...

9:41 PM = Failed lonely creepy man

Anonymous said...

9:55 PM If you're trying to get into politics, you might want to be a bit more politically correct in your language. You can do it! With therapy and medication.

Anonymous said...

10:06 PM is apparently self medicating this evening. Put the bottle down and step away from the Macbook.

Robert Dyer said...

6:10: No one has "put me in my place" on this blog. Ever. This blog has been holding Montgomery County government accountable for a decade, as well as telling you "when the next restaurant is opening."

Considering the current council is running a structural deficit, oversaw the only jurisdiction to suffer a net loss of jobs since 2000 in the DC region, and now has a body count of 10 resident deaths as a direct result of their policy decisions, I am absolutely "Council material."

Anonymous said...

You insult your readers(future constituents) when they ask legitimate questions.
You threaten your readers
You are obsessed thinking that ONE person is out to try and get you.
You lie.
All of which offsets the good that you do bringing issues to the forefront.

You are the only one looking bad here.

Anonymous said...

11:10 AM I wish you'd show this same outrage when "anonymous" folks personally attack and threaten Mr. Dyer for no reason (such as on a standard news article about a restaurant opening or community event). That would give you more credibility.

Other folks have it easy and suck up to whatever the Council and Planning Board are pushing. After seeing all of the attacks here against Mr. Dyer, I doubt many future journalists will want to show much skepticism towards our county officials. It's probably not worth of all the personal threats and insults that they see Mr. Dyer endure here daily.

Many people in the community appreciate Mr. Dyer's work.

I'm sure you'll respond to this with an insult, so enjoy.

Robert Dyer said...

11:10: All lies, as usual. I've never insulted or threatened any reader. Ever. I have dealt firmly with you, a cowardly paid troll not man enough to identify himself.

Now the real question - why, if you are so right, can you not post your real name? Why are you not manly enough? What's your reason for not posting your real name? Not because you are paid troll, right?

Anonymous said...

Lots of "gender subtext" in Dyer's comment. Lol

Robert Dyer said...

3:32: You dodged the question - why don't you have the guts to put your name on your comments? Your masculinity is indeed in question.

Anonymous said...

Dyer, are you questioning the masculinity of 9:07 pm, 9:52 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:11 pm and 12:51 pm?

Anonymous said...

Looks like no one in Rockville or East MoCo County cares about this story.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @2:57 -
There you go again. Lying. I am not a paid troll. You lied.
I'm a county resident. I've offered to give you my name. You agreed that I am not that troll. Yet, you continue to accuse me. Did you lie?
You threatened me directly. I have the proof. Therefore you lied.
Your post itself is proof that you insult your readers and future constituents.
You assume I am someone else, consistently., when I ask you to prove a statement you've made, or prove the intent you inaccurately assign to someone's words or actions.
I have seen, with my own eyes, you inaccurately report on something.

What do you call your last sentence in your comment at 8:04PM? Most people call that an insult.

Why do you assume that every reader you don't like is male? Do you have woman issues? Do you not think that women can disagree with you? Or are you just assuming that everyone is the guy you have a problem with?

Love and bacon,
11:10







Anonymous said...

12:41 - I DO call others out on their bad behavior and inappropriate comments. I have for years. Many times I'm accused of being #UnsignedDyer.

Bad actions happen on both sides. I even started a paper on posting a bias-free statement on websites and watching people jump to defend themselves of a perceived slight. Go back a few years on this site and you'll see them plain as day. The results were amazing, but not too surprising. It involved sports site, local site (this blog,) gossip site, education board site, political site, well you get the idea. Ten sites in all.

I'm not happy about the council. I voted for term limits. I don't compliment them willy-nilly. And I don't insultv them willy-nilly either. Aren't I allowed a differing view?

See, no insult. Just the truth. All the facts, not selected ones.
Love and bacon,
11:10