Category Archives: George Leventhal

Leventhal Throws Elrich Off PHED Committee

The Washington Post reported previously on Councilmember George Leventhal’s desire to exact revenge for Marc Elrich’s support for Beth Daly in the Democratic Primary. And now Leventhal, the new Council President, has defenestrated Elrich from the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee, a powerful committee at the heart of Councilmember Elrich’s interests and desire to promote public transit in MoCo.

In this year’s elections, Elrich came in first in the primary and the general election. Leventhal came in fourth in the primary and third in the general election. Perhaps Jonathan Shurberg best captured social media reaction with his Facebook comment: “Not even to the start of the term and the knives are out. Unbelievable.


UPDATE on Leventhal Post

Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal gave me a call because he wanted to set the record straight on two things regarding my earlier post today. They’re not about the video of the budget hearing at the top of the post but two other issues mentioned in the final paragraph.

SEIU Endorsement Interview

George says it’s categorically untrue that he was asked to leave his interview with SEIU. In his view, all of the endorsement conversations with the unions were tough but this just didn’t happen. Based on additional information, I have little reason to doubt George’s word. Even Lou Peck’s highly negative reportage does not say George was ejected.

CASA Criticism

Additionally, George also says he was being very careful not to criticize CASA during the budget hearings and that also didn’t happen. The hearing mentioned here occurred on April 10th in advance of CASA’s endorsement . Rather than debate or assess its contents, I thought I’d post it here so anyone reading can make their own judgement. It was a hearing for the Health and Human Services Committee on the FY15 Operating Budget held on April 10th.

Source: and click on committee worksessions and then click on “video” for the one of HHS on April 10th starting around 1:08.


Leventhal Loses It

Watch. My thoughts below.

The Washington Post is highlighting George Leventhal’s loss of temper on May 6th when he hectored Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer Hughes from the dais at a Montgomery County Council hearing.

Frustratingly, the Post doesn’t say what it is about–the County’s outdated and unsupported computer system–but it almost doesn’t matter. The optics are terrible. In the clip, George loses control as he disrespectfully berates the Budget Director. At one point, he says he doesn’t like her “body language.”

While undoubtedly not giving the answers he wants to hear, the Director testified professionally. No one will like how George looks here but my guess is women will hate it. Viscerally.

As I mentioned in my write-up on the at-large Council race, George “is perceived as quick to anger and express disdain.” Apparently, he is still teed off at CASA and criticized them during a budget hearing. George was asked to leave his candidate endorsement interview with SEIU because he was being belligerent.


At-Large MoCo Council Race, Pt. II

leventhalGeorge Leventhal

In a post a little over two weeks ago, I gave an overview of the race for the four at-large Montgomery County Council seats with a focus on the two safer incumbents, Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen. Today, I take a look at one of the two other incumbents: George Leventhal.

George’s problems remain similar to four years ago when he came in fourth. They are not particularly issue related. Yes, he’s in the soup with the government employee unions but that places him in good company with the entire Council.

In general, George has married successfully popular progressive positions on many issues, such as an increase in the minimum wage, with unflinching support for developers, viewing strong economic growth as benefiting the County’s tax base and working people more generally.

George is a smart and active councilmember. However, he just doesn’t brook disagreement well, and is perceived as quick to anger and express disdain. Most recently, he publicly berated CASA after it did not endorse him. He is also perceived as not especially sympathetic to the western half of the County.

But I don’t know that this is a critical problem. First, George is also rumored to be funny and charming at times in a way that is as genuine as his less pleasant moments. His amusing Facebook posts about why you should get one of his yard signs attest to that.

Second, any resentment generated within the echo chamber of Montgomery’s political chattering classes only matters if it costs him too many supporters. While it weakens George, I don’t think he has become as politically toxic as Duchy Trachtenberg four years ago. Even if George creates unnecessary enemies and makes it harder to repair disagreement, he also unquestionably has strong advocates.

In short, while George may be vulnerable, he is also in good shape in many ways, including well-funded.

Next up: Hans Riemer.


Leventhal Slams CASA

casa logo

The Washington Post reports that dealing with negative impacts of the Purple Line on low-income people is CASA’s biggest priority and the lack of concern with these issues cost incumbent Councilmembers George Leventhal and Nancy Floreen the organization’s support:

CASA ‘s biggest priority in Montgomery at the moment is the Purple Line’s potential threat to affordable housing and minority-owned small businesses in communities such as Long Branch. In CASA’s assessment, they weren’t there with them. . . .

CASA and other groups are worried that gentrification, triggered by escalating real estate values along the route, will price Latinos out of the community.

“George’s perception is that any discussion of equity around the Purple Line undermines its chances of going forward,” Propeack said.

George responded less than tactfully:

“My impression is that they’re trying to insult me,” Leventhal said. He added: “I do think CASA sometimes loses sight of the fact that the primary beneficiaries of the Purple Line will be Latinos. It will be of enormous benefit to workers who will have greater access to jobs. I guess they think transit is bad for communities.”

This quote exhibits George’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. He is fervent in his causes and makes cogent arguments for them. At the same time, he often acts in ways that express disdain for people who disagree with him and build barriers rather than friends. This case is especially telling because of his past very close relationship with CASA and his genuine, strong support for Latinos.

Nancy also made a statement to the reporter:

Floreen said she couldn’t say what happened.

“I have no idea. These are folks with their own agenda. They’re all advocates for something or other.”

Whether you agree with her or not, Nancy is opinionated, informed, and smart as a whip. But when I read this, it sounded like the least sensible quote ever from Nancy Floreen. Of course, they have an agenda. They’re an interest group.

However, interviews are long and quotes are short, so I gave Nancy a call. Her assessment has more sang-froid than George’s:

It’s their assessment of the politics of the situation. I’ve always supported them and their interests in the past and will continue to do so in the future whether or not they endorse me.

Essentially, they’re an interest group with their own goals they will do what they will do. A smart response as it leaves doors open, doesn’t alienate, or give the story more traction.