After the public testimony on the artificial turf funding, on June 9, 2009, for which many people took time off (conveniently scheduled in the middle of the afternoon, at 1:30 so anyone that wanted to testify was forced to miss an entire day of work) to appear and testify regarding public health and environmental risks of spreading hundreds of tons of ground rubber tires across the landscape, the County Council was ‘polled’ by Ms. Essie McGuire, at the direction of the Education Committee, which is composed of the representatives you so kindly voted into office. These people are: Phil Andrews, Council President; Valerie Ervin; and Mike Knapp. As everyone knows, Mike Knapp represents the sod farmers in our Agricultural Reserve. Way to go Mr. Knapp!
Here is the item that has appeared on the June 16 Consent Calendar:
F. Action - Special appropriation to the Montgomery County Public Schools’ FY09
Capital Budget - $335,000 for the Current Replacements/Modernizations project
(Walter Johnson HS) (Source: Contribution from the Bethesda Soccer Club) (McGuire)
ED Committee recommends approval.
And shortly afterwards, on June 16, the Council plans to do lunch with the Board of Education:
11:00 RECESS - 11:00 - Official Photo immediately following morning session (3CHR)
11:30 - Lunch Meeting with Board of Education (5CCR)
Remember, the ‘lunch meeting’ is a public meeting, so feel free to attend. If you go, please let us know what was discussed.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Here is the schedule from the June 9 Council Meeting, which was held in public. The council generously gave the citizens of Montgomery County two whole days to submit comments, that is, until June 11, 2009.
(7) 1:30 PUBLIC HEARING - Special appropriation to the
Montgomery County Public Schools’ FY09 Capital Budget - $335,000
for the Current Replacements/Modernizations project (Walter Johnson
HS) (Source: Contribution from the Bethesda Soccer Club) (McGuire)
Action is tentatively scheduled for 6/16/09.
PH held; record open until COB 6/11/09
And here is the confirmation of the secret polling, from Ms. McGuire’s staff report:
SUMMARY OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE AND PUBLIC HEARING DISCUSSIONS
The Education Committee considered this special appropriation on June 8. The Committee reiterated its support for the improved community ballfield access afforded by artificial turf, but expressed concern regarding health and environmental issues that have been raised. The Committee discussed correspondence received raising questions about environmental and health safety of the field materials and suggesting that monitoring and testing of the field should be implemented. The Committee did not make a recommendation at that time, preferring to wait to hear the public hearing testimony; the Committee requested that Council staff poll Committee members following the hearing to determine a recommendation.
At the public hearing, the Council heard from nine speakers regarding artificial turf. Of the speakers, five were opposed to artificial turf and four spoke in favor of the appropriation. During the discussion, Councilmembers agreed that further review of environmental and health aspects ofthe artificial turf material would be important. The Councilmembers expressed interest in further review, possibly in the fall, of issues such as: what monitoring and testing may be in place in other jurisdictions; what expert reviews and reports indicate regarding these issues; and what monitoring may be appropriate to implement in the County. This review is to encompass other public artificial turf fields in addition to those at schools.
Following the hearing, Council staff polled Committee members. The Education Committee recommendation is to approve this appropriation, with the understanding that the Council will conduct further review of environmental and health safety monitoring options that may be appropriate for artificial turf athletic fields.
Gee, I wonder how many more instances we can find where the County Council has decided it's way too tough to discuss an issue in public, so they hold secret ‘pollings.’
If you are curious too, please call the Council at 240-777-7900, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you find out please email email@example.com
UPDATE Monday, June 15, 2009: - Montgomery County Council's Education Committee schedules last minute meeting for Tuesday, June 16th at 10 AM for public discussion of appropriation for artificial turf for MCPS high school.