The Agitator 1.21.19

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Welcome to the Commonwealth Agitator, your regular digest of local Montgomery County and Maryland news from a left perspective.

A note to our readers: the agitator will henceforth shift to a biweekly publication schedule. The best place to follow our live take on county events is our Twitter or Facebook page.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, viz, to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human system it fail victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. demanded and organized for a racially-just society; a society where the many evils of the “profit motive” was eradicated and distribution of wealth from few to the many was accomplished. 

King’s 1952 letter to Coretta Scott lays out his political views (left):

State Matters:

Thank you readers for contacting your representative about unbelievable tax breaks for private country clubs

Last week, we asked readers to contact their representatives in Annapolis and encourage them to endorse Montgomery County legislation 11–19 and 11–19, which undo unconscionable tax breaks for private country clubs. We received numerous reports of representatives siding with the people on this issue, primarily newly elected women much moreso than incumbent male legislators.

We congratulate newly elected delegates Julie Palakovich Carr (D-17), Emily Shetty (D-18), and Lorig Charkoudian (D-20)  for taking a courageous and principled stand on the side of the people rather than country clubs.

Sen. Craig Zucker (D-14) however, responded claiming the legislation, “may negatively impact some the golf courses and other green spaces within my legislative district and could lead to future development of open green spaces on these properties.”

We encourage any readers from District 14 to contact us regarding challenging Sen. Zucker in next Democratic primary season.

In our report on county country club tax deals we already noted the above argument by Sen. Zucker is a hypothetical worst-case scenario concocted out of whole cloth by country club lobbyists. It is impossible to argue that golf courses would result in the destruction of green space because it is impossible to say for sure that 15 country clubs worth millions would go out of business due to simply paying their taxes.

Besides, on the question of converting golf courses into something other than green space for a privileged few, a San Francisco housing rights activists encourages us to do the following:

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“Raze all golf courses and replace them with public housing” – Sasha Perigo, California Fair housing advocate commenting on the polluting effects of golf courses

CALL TO ACTION: Tell your representatives — “Pass MC 22-19 Just Cause Eviction!”

Just as we joined the call to contact representatives regarding unfair tax agreements privilege a small few, it’s worth doing the same for Just Cause Eviction.

You can read our full reports on Just Cause Eviction here:

October 23, 2018 – Montgomery County Delegates Preparing “Just Cause Eviction Bill”

December 9, 2018 – Landlords don’t care about you, and Bethesda Beat is just fine with that

The bottom line is tenants can feel more comfortable speaking up knowing that there is a more thorough process for evictions. Representatives should show who’s side their on when it comes to due process for renters.

Using the template provided below, please contact your representatives as soon as possible to encourage them to support Just Cause Eviction in Montgomery County.

Letter template to delegate/senator re: Just Cause Eviction 22-19

County Matters:

Councilmember at-large Will Jawando introduces Bill 1-19 “The Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency (LETT) Act”

Newly elected at-large County Councilmember Will Jawando introduced Bill 1-19, “The Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency (LETT) Act” this last week. The bill would require, “an independent investigation in the event of an officer involved death in the county.”

An “independent” investigation is already county practice; the LETT act would write the practice in law. However, the “independent” investigators defined in the bill are still required to be active duty law enforcement officers.

This raises considerable questions as to the legitimacy of any investigation where cops investigates other cops.

Commonwealth will have much more to say on this bill in the coming days, keep your eyes here.

Zoning Text Amendment to allow more small housing units in single-family areas of the county.

Another bill introduced last week was at-large County Councilmember Hans Riemer Zoning Text Amendment ZTA 19-01 which would loosen restrictions on building detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

Commonwealth is monitoring the ZTA amendment, including this past Saturday’s public hearing where an opponent claimed, there were no housing options in Montgomery County if you didn’t want to live next to “low-income people.”

ADUs do not stand to benefit large developers. It is homeowners who shoulder the burden of constructing a fully independent and liveable domicile to strict county code. Not to mention ADUs begin to break up the exclusionary zoning regulations that were racist constructs originally meant to protect white county residents from African Americans and other minorities

We’ll report our perspective in full shortly, meanwhile ADUs are a small step towards solving the housing crunch for the elderly or small families.

Commonwealth Recent Articles

Check out our latest on rent control laws, how they differ from “rent stabilization,” and Montgomery County’s history with capping rent increases:

County Executive Marc Elrich calls for county-wide rent stabilization at budget forum

Until Next Time…


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