Tag Archives: Action Committee for Transit

Brandy Brooks Pushes Back on ACT Scorecard

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council At-Large candidate Brandy Brooks has issued a statement pushing back on Action Committee for Transit’s (ACT) scorecard.  Your author received this scorecard in the mail today.  The scorecard rates candidates with a plus, minus or no rating on five issues: the Purple Line, MARC trains, opposing M-83, streets safe for walking and housing near transit.  ACT gave Brooks no rating on the above issues except for housing near transit, on which they gave Brooks a minus.

Brooks is disputing how her positions were characterized.  We reprint her statement below.

*****

Michelle C. Whittaker

Brandy Brooks for County Council At-Large

michelle@brandy4moco.com

ACT Scorecard Falsely Represents Brandy Brooks’ Positions on Transit

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD (June 8, 2018) — Misinformation regarding Brandy Brooks’ publicly available positions on transit are being shared in the Action Committee for Transit (ACT) scorecard. Brooks is setting the record straight to make sure voters across the county have truthful and accurate information to make their decisions. Brandy Brooks is an at-large candidate for Montgomery County Council.

The ACT scorecard claims to be based on several criteria including public statements, answers to questionnaires, and the candidate’s website. However, the rating does not reflect publicly available information regarding Brandy Brooks’ views on transit and housing. The Brooks campaign has attempted to work with ACT representatives to clarify the misinformation.

“The Action Committee for Transit is a dedicated group of volunteers who have been doing tremendous work on Montgomery County transit issues for many years,” said Brandy Brooks. “We share a deep commitment to a transit vision for our county that adequately serves our communities and reduces our reliance on personal vehicle travel. So it’s frustrating to find my positions misrepresented by ACT when we should be working together to build the community power we need to ensure strong transit investments.”

Representatives from ACT informed the Brooks campaign that her negative score was based on tweets where she emphasized the need for more focus on affordable housing development. They claim that Brooks’ concern about “trickle-down affordability” — the County’s over-reliance on luxury housing developments with a small fraction of affordable units to meet its severe affordable housing deficit — means that she does not support housing development near transit. This is demonstrably false.

Ms. Brooks has repeatedly stated her commitment to preserving and developing affordable housing near transit nodes, such as the Takoma-Langley Transportation Center that will ultimately become a Purple Line station. Additionally, Brooks has expressed her strong commitment to creating transit solutions for areas of the county that have been overdeveloped without supporting transportation infrastructure, such as Clarksburg and Damascus.

The campaign launched the “Correct the Record: ACT Scorecard” information page to provide voters and the media with accurate details on Brandy Brooks’ positions.

The Democratic Primary is June 26.

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Hogan Approves Purple Line

In a surprise move, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he is ready to move full-speed ahead on the light-rail Purple Line that will travel from Bethesda to New Carrollton in suburban Washington. The Baltimore Sun reported:

“Working closely with Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, we have discovered the means to reduce costs substantially,” said Gov. Hogan at an early morning press conference. “If we eliminate frills, I am now confident that it can be built in a cost-effective manner that will bring business to Maryland.”

Hogan explained that a major barrier has always been the price of the light-rail cars, which are expensive and have to be imported from Ostrava in the Czech Republic:

We have cut unnecessary extras. Seats provide no benefit to the taxpayer, so they have been eliminated from the redesigned trains. Indeed, we have now also done away with walls and the ceiling to go with a sleek, modern flatbed design.

Purple Line Project Manager Mike Madden applauded the move:

I appreciate the governor’s support and leadership on the project. Eliminating not just doors but walls will make it easier to board and to exit the train, thus reducing time spent at stations and increasing speed, resulting in an estimated increase in ridership of 31.7%.

When asked for the documentation on the increased ridership, Madden described the information as “proprietary” but also reassured the public on their accuracy: “They were calculated by the same high-quality experts who designed the Silver Spring Transit Center that will open later this year.”

Hogan’s decision to simplify cars was hailed by former Action Committee for Transit President Ben Ross:

This new design is in touch with the simplified lifestyle preferred by Millennials. Let’s face it: seats are emblematic of the bourgeois Lexus lifestyle. I’m glad that Maryland and Montgomery County have said “yes” to our smart growth future by embracing open plan light-rail.

Similarly, Montgomery Council President George Leventhal congratulated Hogan on WAMU for “finally following his lead” and said “The open plan is an excellent forward-thinking idea. I think of it as a moving Capital Crescent Trail. It will be a first-class system.”

Not all of Leventhal’s colleagues were so sanguine. Council Vice Chair Nancy Floreen said to the Washington Post:

Heck, I never thought the Governor would invest so much money in areas that will never vote for him. Now, I’ll have to come up with all the money that Montgomery County promised when I’m Council President next year. I don’t see why I shouldn’t just run for Congress instead.

But Robert Thomson, better known as Dr. Gridlock, reassured the public in an online Post discussion: “I have every confidence that the Purple Line will light a fire under small business in Langley Park just as the DC Streetcar has sparked long quiet H Street.”

Former Carroll County Commissioner Republican Robin Frazier denounced the move. Appearing at a “Help Save Maryland” rally, she said that it would only help “homosexuals and illegal aliens get around so that they can use bathrooms in more places.”

 

 

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ACT Sees Purple Line Dream Fade; MCDOT Follows 7S

The Action Committee for Transit (ACT) sees its Purple Line dreams moving out of reach and has sent out an email trying to rally support:

The Purple Line is again in grave danger — at the very moment when it is about to begin construction.

ACT’s definition of “about to begin construction” is different from most. While this phrase invokes visions of bulldozers ready to go, no federal funding has been awarded and the State has yet to receive–let alone evaluate–proposals from concessionaires (i.e. contractors) for the public private partnership (P3) who would still need to design the system.

Social Justice Out, Jobs Program In

The reasons that ACT believes we need to save the Purple Line have altered in focus:

Maryland will lose thousands of jobs in construction and future growth if we don’t build the Purple Line now.

Here, ACT has jettisoned its social justice rhetoric, formerly at the center of Purple Line appeals, so easily that it should give pause to those who support the Purple Line Compact to protect residents and businesses likely to be displaced by it. It’s now (and probably always was) all about something else.

Interestingly, the new front-and-center focus is on construction jobs. A temporary jobs program requiring massive public spending seems an odd way to appeal to our Governor-Elect and shows a tin ear in an attempt to bootstrap synchronicity with Hogan’s values by former Brown supporters.

Still Confusing Purple Line with Metro

Not all ACT rhetoric has changed:

The new Silver Line has four stations in Tysons Corner because Virginia understood the economic importance of rail transit; Maryland must not fall behind. Businesses and commuters are counting on the state to keep the commitments it has made and go forward with the Purple Line.

ACT  continues to equate the building of the light rail Purple Line, which will not be part of the Metro system, with the heavy rail Silver Line, which is integrated into Metro and will terminate at Dulles Airport. This effort to obfuscate the differences through the use of a color name similar to Metro lines has long been one of the most clever parts of ACT’s communications strategy. Light rail and heavy rail are quite different–the former is more similar to bus-rapid transit systems (RTS), though RTS is far less expensive.

Give to Aid the Land Company Now

ACT’s email closes with the traditional fundraising appeal:

If you can do one more thing for the Purple Line, ACT needs your financial help to continue our campaign. Please make a special contribution now.

By allowing for increased development, Purple Line proponents argue that it will raise land values around stations. Indeed, that is the goal. For example, the wealthy Chevy Chase Land Company is keen to see the Purple Line built–they’re organizing a letter to Hogan arguing for the pricey project–because it will increase the value of their holdings in that area. Yet we are asked to pay for the privilege of aiding the Land Company by donating to ACT.

Ironically, virtually all of the development over the short and medium terms will occur at Chevy Chase Lake without the Purple Line. The revised sector plan added 1.7 million square feet that will move forward with construction even if the Purple Line isn’t built. This will include about 700 apartments and 70 town houses, a hotel and over 250,000 square feet of commercial development. This is more than than the 1.3 million square feet that would be built much later on condition of Purple Line construction.

New Twitter Follower

I am happy to welcome the Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director’s Office as a follower to @theseventhstate.

Correction: Earlier version had MDOT instead of MCDOT. Apologies for the Error.

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