Yet Another Conversation on Transportation....zzzzzzzzzzzzz ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yet Another Conversation on Transportation....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

County Councilman Josh Cohen is holding a public conversation on transportation featuring three local panelists. Do we really need another discussion about transportation-especially one held in a location where everyone will have to drive to attend? I believe that what we do need is a real action agenda and for Josh to exercise some leadership. But does he? Will he? Or is this perhaps his long-term intent?

Cohen seems interested in transportation, but he is either unable, unwilling or unsure about how to grab this raging bronco of an issue by the horns--without getting gored. CP has spoken with him many times about this and Cohen did write a letter to the governor at my urging to ask for his support to reinstate the old 210 express route to Baltimore. He did dangle his feet in the water a year or two ago when he offered an honest yet ill-conceived and equally ill-fated proposal to run a shuttle bus on Forest Drive. CP and other transportation professionals wondered about that after it was proposed--we never knew about it before he thought that one up, which says something,--but it went nowhere, and deservedly so. CP cannot recall that he took any interest in the city's bus system during his 1.5 terms as an alderman. When CP asked for help in resurfacing the half-block portion of heavily traveled and highly visible Sixth Street from the Eastport Bridge to Severn Ave., nobody, not even Cohen did a thing--even though we had already resurfaced both the bridge AND resurfaced the remainder of Sixth Street FROM SEVERN to the south leaving that tiny section a disaster today. Try riding your bike on it with all the fissures and cracks but watch out for the boulder sized space where a chunk of concrete has been missing--for years!

CP has twice asked Cohen to provide a list of his transportation accomplishments. A list has never been sent.

Cohen does works hard, maintains steadfast communications with his constituents and I cannot recall anyone ever questioning his ethics or honesty. He seems to be perhaps the most popular local pol, though not without his detractors, especially for having left his secure city position mid-term to run for higher office and for moving out of Eastport (that's his personal decision-who cares?). CP appreciates his strong support for land and environmental protection and his resolve against slots and his willingness to debate even Senate President Mike Miller on that thorny issue. Cohen was interested and mildly responsive to the many requests CP has made to investigate and pull the plug on ARTMA-the Annapolis Regional Transportation Association, a useless waste of taxpayer money that supposedly addresses transportation problems, but has never done anything of real value in a decade. But beyond being responsive, he was not willing to take on ARTMA in a meaningful way to ensure that it brings us results, so it continues to suck tax dollars.

CP has agreed to attend Cohen's conversation, but only because of my relationship with the councilman. Cohen explained that he did not ask me to be on the panel because if he did so, he would have had to invite someone from ARTMA as well.  Josh--if you are going to continue to support funding them for no clear reason, why not at least have them serve on a public panel on the issue they are supposedly tasked with improving?

His panel members will include:

1. Shelley Row, Eastport resident, former president of the Eastport
Civic Association and a national expert on Intelligent Transportation
Systems. (She is also the wife of city economic devpt director Mike Miron)
2. Wilford W. Scott, Hunt Meadow resident, member of Annapolis' past
two Comprehensive Plan Citizens’ Advisory Committees, and longtime
member of the Annapolis Planning Commission.
3. Dinny White, Severn Grove resident, architect and planner, and
member of Anne Arundel County’s Special Advisory Committee to the
General Development Plan.

No activists. No bus riders, but people who serve on committees. Good people for sure, and Row's expertise in Intelligent Transportation Systems is beyond reproach, but ITS is not likely at the top of the local priorities and only in some cases is it even applicable to our town. CP is just one of many local transportation professionals and activists who Cohen can call upon for advice and information, but has he ever done that? Other than Shelly Row, I don't think so, yet there are many active and retired experts in this area who CP will gladly put at Cohen's disposal should he ask.

We do not need more committees, studies or studies of studies or meetings, small area plans, comprehensive plans, general development plans or Baltimore Regional Transportation Board Outlook 2035 Plans or whatever that just plan and plan. These things tend to work in one of two ways: They act as rubber stamps for politicians or they get messed up by them after completion.  I say no more business as usual and no more long-winded contributions to the Planocracy that brings us analysis and paralysis. It is committees and planning that have gotten us into the mess of a highway, car, fossil fuel and parking-dependent mess that we are in now. Just look at Parole! Did that happen because of or in spite of plans? Same with Forest Drive! Same with the intersection under Aris T Allen Blvd at Riva Road. Yikes!

What we need is a short laundry list of political action items that must get done.

Okay Josh. I'll come. I'll listen. But I don't expect to hear anything new or for any action and if you propose action, I will listen and rally support if deemed worthwhile...but I don't expect much.

And by the way--the meeting is less than a half-mile from your house. Will you be driving one of the two (or is it three?) family cars you own, or will you walk and ride your bike?

The meeting will be Tuesday, October 28th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Calvary United Methodist Church (in the Fellowship Hall), 301 Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis

Contact: Josh Cohen, 410.222.1401 or by email:

Write to me if you want to car-pool. Before this "conversation" CP will present this "laundry list" of transportation political action items.

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1 Comment:

Tom said...

The meeting will be Tuesday, October 28th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Calvary United Methodist Church (in the Fellowship Hall), 301 Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis.

Is this the same church that spearheaded the effort to stop the Annapolis Triathlon a few months ago? what words of wisdom will come from them on tuesday?

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