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Council Still Divided Despite Roberts-Jordan Compromise

Though Roberts and Jordan decided to split their vote on the transportation board, council is still divided on Jordan's and Putens' exchange over two city board assignments.

Numerous disagreements led to the agreement at Greenbelt City Council’s last regular meeting — that Councilmember Rodney Roberts and Mayor Pro-Tem Emmett Jordan would share the city’s one seat on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government's Transportation Planning Board (TPB).

Mayor Judith “J” Davis said in an interview on Thursday that she hoped council would work together and get past this because that would be much better for Greenbelt.

But in the midst of Jordan’s and Roberts’ deliberations at Monday’s regular meeting, a dispute re-emerged threatening to make peace complicated.

Members clashed on what happened when Jordan and Councilmember Edward Putens tried to swap their seats on the Advisory Planning Board (APB) and Community Relations Advisory Board (CRAB).

Putens’ ability to buck Jordan when he thought the deal went south is at the heart of Roberts’ contention of unfair treatment by council. .

“Well apparently Mr. Jordan decided that he was going to change his mind that he didn’t want to give up his committee. But at the same time he still wanted Mr. Putens’ committee,” Roberts said.

Putens and Jordan eventually agreed on a switch — but not until after Putens’ turned Jordan down, according to Roberts.

And there’s the rub. Roberts insists he was not allowed to turn Jordan down when Jordan came calling for his transportation board seat — but was instead being forced into a vote.

In an interview on Wednesday, Jordan contested Roberts’ recollection. He said in a December work session, Putens had expressed an openness to someone else taking his assignment to the APB — but no swap was mentioned. So Jordan took him up on it.

It was Putens who had a change of heart and later added CRAB into the deal at a legislative dinner, according to Jordan. Eventually the two worked out a swap at a Jan. 4 work session, Jordan said.

Not so, according to Putens, who said Jordan backed out of their agreement at that work session. So he turned Jordan down and the deal was off.

“I believe seven member of council had seven different viewpoints of that particular situation,” Mayor Davis told council Monday.

“At this time my recollection is different than Mr. Putens and Mr. Roberts,” she told Patch later.

But Roberts stands by his recollection. “You respected Mr. Putens, and you need to respect me as well,” Roberts said at council’s Jan. 9 meeting. 

Roberts and Jordan eventually came to terms on Monday — sort of.  After agreeing to the compromise, Roberts delivered a Parthian shot.

Roberts told council if anyone was getting a raw deal it was Councilmember Konrad Herling who had wanted to serve on the TPB for eight years.

“That’s far longer than Mr. Jordan’s two years,” he added.

For Jordan’s part, he told Patch he had a strong belief in building consensus. He said he thought he would have won if he had forced a vote on Monday, but he chose not to do that.

Greenbelter Tom Jones told council at its Jan. 9 meeting that he was grateful for both Jordan and Roberts. “They say politics makes strange bedfellows but I think in this case, it’s also making enemies of those who might otherwise be friends.”

"I think the two of them together will prove to be an asset to the city," Mayor Davis said in an interview. Though she felt Roberts and Jordan had different ways of handling matters, she said both ways could be advantageous for Greenbelt.

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Elizabeth January 29, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Sylvia, You want Roberts to report on a web site, WMATA's Trip Planner, that has been around and functional since 2007-2008? How is that new? WMATA's Trip Planner was highly publicized when it first came out. I read about it in the Washington Post, heard about it on WTOP, saw it on the sides of buses, and even caught a few commercials on TV. I'm sorry you missed all that and had to use a clunky website (ReachARide), that only lists a few telephone numbers, to be redrected to the wonderfully helpful but exceedingly old Trip Planner. The ReachARide.org site only lists several telephone numbers, mostly for private businesses that provide transportation, and a few County services such as Call-a-Bus or Call-a-Cab. It doesn't even mention Greenbelt's own services! It is a dud if you are using ReachARide only. You, apparently, didn't realize that the ReachARide website directed you to WMATA's web site. It was pretty obvious to me. Perhaps that was because it said if you want to plan your trip using public transportation "go to Metro's Trip Planner." And then it went to Metro's web site! ReachaRide is only new because it gives the telephone numbers of a bunch of taxi & limo services! It certainly doesn't provide all the information you were talking about -- in fact you have to leave that site to go to a Very Well Estabished and kinda old web site to provide all the wonderful information you crowed about at the meeting. Face it, you provided a lousy example.
tcmitssr January 31, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Don, I find your comments and thoughts to be very insightful. You are one of the people I would strongly encourage to consider offering Greenbelt your service in the next City Council election.
Donald Comis January 31, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I agree with tcmitssr that we are diverting from the main points, but first I have to say that I thank him for the compliment as well, the feeling is mutual. And I appreciate Sylvia giving me some slack and being gracious--I just couldn't stand to have her beat me on the computer, so I became a bit ungracious, and for that I'm sorry. As a friend said to me, the real issue is treating Mr. Roberts unfairly, singling his appointment out for a change in procedures rather than waiting and making a wholesale change later. For me though, there is another reason this is unfair to Mr. Roberts. The challenge jolted the community because no reason was given. In this country, we have a right to hear accusations against us, even though this is not a legal case. It is only fair to tell Mr. Roberts and the public the reasons Ms. Davis and Ms. Lewis feel that Mr. Jordan is a better choice than Mr. Roberts. That is the bigger issue behind the argument over the website. I think Ms. Davis and Ms. Lewis needed to make a better case for choosing Mr. Jordan over Mr. Roberts. Their reasons seemed to dribble out--first attendance, then proven wrong; then not giving reports, with a weak example. There may be better examples, but each accusation should be made, the accusers come forward, have them name Mr. Roberts, and offer solid cases for each accusation and then let Mr. Roberts defend himself.
Donald Comis January 31, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Otherwise it looks as though secret decisions are made which no one can challenge.
tcmitssr February 04, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Don Comis said "I agree with tcmitssr that we are diverting from the main points, but first I have to say that I thank him for the compliment as well, the feeling is mutual." Don, it is almost critically essential for people, like yourself, to run for the next City Council. It is neither my place, nor my destiny however to do so. "The Celebrated Man In The Street" is "Everyman," who unbound by his anonymity is free to speak common sense and what I regard is the truth. Should I ever become a Council candidate, I would no longer be able to be what I regard as a pragmatic voice speaking up/out in Greenbelt. The "Old Guard of Greenbelt" would never permit my election as the rules for election, as currently set up, are designed to keep incumbents in office while also restricting the maximum amount of likely voters to be reduced to what is, essentially, "The Old Guard," and the few who know of off-year elections and able to get to the polls for only a Council election when they have kids to feed, work brought home to do, etc. Greenbelt needs term limits. It needs the direct election of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Temp. It needs Council elections to cease being "off-year" and become scheduled when we elect State and Federal representatives as this will maximize the amount of total Greenbelt voters while minimizing "The Old Guard and the incumbents' advantages. Think it over, please Don, even if we disagree on some issues; you'd have my support and vote.

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