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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.

Let us know your thoughts, take the poll below. You don't have to register to weigh in — it just takes a mouse click.

tcmitssr January 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I'd also like to address the entire Council. As I have observed the Council since it expanded to seven members, I've seen a colloquial and congeniality loss which has not occurred since the darkest days of Gil's many terms as Mayor. Konrad, what has happened to you? Why have you lost your leadership abilities? "One Greenbelt," is "nice," but a Council member who stands up for the courage of his personal and political convictions will accomplish more. Ed, are you really as "disinterested" as you appear to be during open meetings? You are G-belt's longest tenured Council member but if you really aren't as excited to serve as you were in your first term, maybe you should reconsider running again? Lita, more and more, IMHO you are taking on the characteristics of "office entitlement" that the Mayor and Mayor Pro Temp appear to show. You seem to have gone from "activist" to "behind the scenes player." which isn't good. Rodney, you were, and remain, "the original outsider." That's still a good thing to be. Twenty years on Council though, IMHO, have also made you a politician which I don't think is a good thing. Campaign for Mayor next time, straight up, rather than sit frustrated. I disagree with most of your stances but believe you are the most intellectually honest in terms of your beliefs. Silke, candidly, what have you really accomplished since being elected? Good intentions aren't enough. Timeouts to all who can't play nice in the sandbox together!
J Goderre January 27, 2012 at 08:01 PM
This is an astonishingly biased article. It would be nice to have at some balance.
tcmitssr January 27, 2012 at 08:19 PM
IMHO as someone who observed the meeting, this is a factual and unbiased report.
AndThenAgain January 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
This "compromise" offers all the confidence of a duct tape patch on a sinking boat. How about a real solution---a commitment to rules and procedure---for the assignment of all committees in the future. Or are we going to reinvent this junior high school drama every time two Council cats want to eat from the same dish?!
maryanne January 28, 2012 at 02:52 AM
The Queen of Greenbelt is helping Jordan pad his resume for a run at the County Council from what I believe. The Queen of England ( Ms. Lewis ) his treasurer is just as rotten. They are fooling no one but themselves. I believe that the Council members from Greenbriar think that the Citizens from the rest of the City particularly old Greenbelt are not smart enough to see what's going.
Donald James January 28, 2012 at 04:44 AM
I didn't know this was a territorial fight between Greenbriar and Old Greenbelt. Old Greenbelt seems to get the bulk of the attention as it is. We can attack the mayor and mayor pro tem, but the fact will remain that the system doesn't work. Perhaps Rodney Roberts shouldn't have been singled out, but this precedence that seniority gives you a right to keep a position is foolish. All positions should be rotated. The seats should not be locked up by one person.
Sylvia Lewis January 28, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I do not like anonymous postings. I find them cowardly, and an encouragement to personal attacks rather than thoughtful discussion. As I mentioned in my comments at the council meeting, I grew up in a country steeped in a tradition of privilege and entitlement. I am opposed to this. I believe in the democratic process. Choices should be considered and voted upon. Mr. Jordan stated he was interested in being Greenbelt's representative to the the COG Transportation Planning Board. Somehow this has been taken as an affront to Mr. Roberts. I didn't realize, and I am sure Mr. Jordan didn't realize, that Mr. Roberts "owned" this position. As I also mentioned at the Council meeting, Mr. Roberts should have the advantage if a vote were taken, since he has a track record in the position. But perhaps it is his track record that would show that he might not be the best representative for Greenbelt on the TPB. There was a very important piece of information at the Dec. 19 TPB meeting that Mr. Robert's thought was not important enough to report on. Greenbelt deserves a representative on all the COG Boards that can be relied on to report on what we need to know. Sylvia Lewis
maryanne January 28, 2012 at 03:21 PM
The item Sylvia is referring to from the Dec.19th meeting from what I have been told is not functioning as it is supposed to. I have been told that people set up trips with for example a timed bus connection and the bus they are depending on has had a route change that was not updated in the system. I am not willing to test it for myself as I do not want to be left stranded. I thought the system Sylvia was referring to sounded to idealist for P.G. County. Maybe that's why Rodney left it out of his report, perhaps with all his years of EXPERIENCE on the Committee and in dealing with P.G. County he knew it was too good to be true. It sounded like an idealistic load of crap to me. Maybe we should trust that Mr.Roberts knows what he is doing. Ms. Lewis needs to understand that Mr. Roberts is not the issue. Is it that she can not see that the Mayor and Mr. Jordan are out of line? or is it a case of Birds of a feather flocking together.
J Goderre January 28, 2012 at 08:05 PM
There is probably far less palace intrigue in real life than in the imaginations of those who post here. I expect our elected public servants, who dedicate astonishing hours for nominal pay, are far too busy to conjure Shakespearian subplots. This fight seems particularly insignificant. Greenbelt's representative on the TPB has trivial power. The emotion behind this debate stems from a completely different cause. Mr. Roberts has long declared his desire to be Mayor. For the past four years, he has fallen from second to third place in the election tally, displaced by Mr. Jordan. It would be helpful if everyone could acknowledge this as a root cause of divisiveness. Otherwise, disagreements like the TPB are likely to continually arise anywhere the council has discretionary authority. I expect my elected officials will not treat public positions as property owed to them, nor treat those more recently elected as second-class peers. A culture of privilege and fiefdoms will discourage citizen participation. Mr. Herling showed commendable leadership when he offered up a standing appointment even though he has been prevented from serving on TPB for 8 years. Mr. Manzi clearly defined the responsibilities of council in making appointments and was properly quoted in the News Review. A clear policy on council appointments would let council focus on productive issues rather than attacking each other.
Sylvia Lewis January 28, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I agree whole heartedly that Mr. Roberts is not the issue. Neither is Mr. Jordan nor Ms. Davis. Mr. Roberts reports so rarely that it is hard to know why he didn't report on the www.Reacharide.org web site. He could have said the Transportation Board had a demonstration of the web site and that it had been found to have some bugs in it. I found the site very helpful in finding out what bus to catch, where the bus stop was, what stations I could get off at, and how far each was from my destination. These do not change. Isn't it a shame that the site, which is a COG site I believe, is thought to be too good to be true? And what an indictment that "Maryanne" doesn't believe anything good can come from Prince George' County! BTW the date of the COG TPR meeting was Dec. 21. (My birthday is Dec. 19) Sylvia Lewis
Donald Comis January 29, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I logged into the Reacharide site and ran two tests, one with my Greenbelt home address, and one with an Upper Marlboro request. The results were the same: a non-interactive list of phone numbers designed primarily for wheel-chair bound people and senior citizens. It is deceptive and unfair to praise the Reacharide side, or overstate its significance, based on the link to the WMATA trip planner, which is what Sylvia spends most of her time praising. Many of the sites on the list are not for public transportation (possibly not even for Greenbelt or Upper Marlboro, such as one in Rockville) and some at least seem to involve high costs, such as private taxi services, while others are free. But most if not all involve calling ahead for a ride, and some can't guarantee rides--also the site doesn't even list the Greenbelt Connection. It is inaccurate to place this site in the same category as the Metro trip planner or similar interactive ones run by Google or HopStop. It is not a ride planner--it is little more than a refrigerator magnet or door hanger. The bigger question is the unfairness of councilmember Davis and Sylvia to not bring these charges against councilmember Roberts up in public and long ago.
Donald Comis January 29, 2012 at 01:13 AM
I should make clear that the lists were identical. It is clear to me that the only thing the site gleans from when we type in our address is the county we live in!
Sylvia Lewis January 29, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I can't believe that I, a 77 year old dinosaur, can navigate a web site better than some who are far more computer literate than I. The home page is geared to people with handicapping conditions, but if you go beyond that, any one can find bus and train information to get them to their destination. I just used D.C. destinations, but it would probably work for N. Va. as well. I tried it again this afternoon so I know it is still working. I agree it is not the simplest site to use, but if I can do it I think most people who are familiar with the web, should be able to. It was stated in the minutes of the 12/21 COG Transportation Planning Board meeting that the site was evaluated to meet the needs of people with disabilities, including sight impaired. It was also stated that there are brochures, which might help to explain how to use the site. After I reported on it at the Council meeting I think Mr. McLaughlin was going to order some. It would probably be a good idea, for those of you who know more about this than I do, to suggest ways to make it more user friendly. To discount this resource, because you disapprove of my bringing the subject up, would really be cutting off our nose to spite our face. Sylvia Lewis
Sylvia Lewis January 29, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I can't believe that I, a 77 year old dinosaur, can navigate a web site better than some who are far more computer literate than I. The home page is geared to people with handicapping conditions, but if you go beyond that, any one can find bus and train information to get them to their destination. I just used D.C. destinations, but it would probably work for N. Va. as well. I tried it again this afternoon so I know it is still working. I agree it is not the simplest site to use, but if I can do it I think most people who are familiar with the web, should be able to. It was stated in the minutes of the 12/21 COG Transportation Planning Board meeting that the site was evaluated to meet the needs of people with disabilities, including sight impaired. It was also stated that there are brochures, which might help to explain how to use the site. After I reported on it at the Council meeting I think Mr. McLaughlin was going to order some. It would probably be a good idea, for those of you who know more about this than I do, to suggest ways to make it more user friendly. To discount this resource, because you disapprove of my bringing the subject up, would really be cutting off our nose to spite our face. Sylvia Lewis
Donald Comis January 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Sylvia, I tried again and used the advanced search this time and all I got was this shorter list: Arc of Prince George's County Transportation Services 301-925-7050 View Details Diamond Transportation Services 703-912-7606 View Details Jewish Council for the Aging, ElderBus Services 301-881-8782 View Details Prince George’s County Call-A-Bus 301-499-8603 View Details Prince Georges County Senior Transportation Services 301-499-8603 View Details Rock Creek Foundation Transportation Services 301-586-0900 View Details United Cerebral Palsy on the Potomac Transportation Service 301-459-0566 View Details And that link to WMATA. When I clicked on that I got the same as I have always gotten from WMATA, a true ride planner that did not reflect a single answer I had to give in the long checklist on Reacharide--and still no Greenbelt Connection on Reacharide! I'm not trying to discount Reacharide's baby step but merely to stop you from acting like it is the unveiling of a site like WMATA's trip planner or Google's or HopStop, which I presume have all been in business for years as WMATA's has. Sylvia, you need to take a course in using the Web and distinguishing a link from a website. And you need to start taking public transporation and using sites like WMATA's. It sounds like you have just discovered links and WMATA.
Donald Comis January 29, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Just to be clear hear are some of the websites I've used to travel in this area, Honolulu, and New York City: http://www.wmata.com/ http://www.hopstop.com/ http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/transit/#mdy You'll have to offer more proof, Sylvia, that Reacharide delivers more than what can be put on a door hanger like the great one Leta Mach used for her last campaign, or Mr. McLaughlin will be wasting taxpayer money if he does anything more than a refrigerator magnet or door hanger--a brochure to explain how to get short list of phone contacts?
Jeannette January 29, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I too have tried the site and the only thing it did for me was redirect me to the Metro web site for transportation. Ms Lewis, please provide additional explanation for those of us who would like to use the site as you explained at the last council meeting-what bus at what stop to which metro train stop, etc. Thank you.
Sylvia Lewis January 29, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Jeannette, This is what I did. Go to reacharide.org , click on Trip Planner, type in your FROM address, and your TO address. click on "both" for train and bus; change date to tomorrow's date, (since buses don't run on Sundays). click on Submit. As Don Comus mentioned, the Trip Planner site may already have existed - I hadn't heard of it. Perhaps the new site that was launched on Dec. 5 was just additional information for people with disabilities. But I am glad that the 12/21 COG TPB meeting minutes told me of this site. The minutes also show that TPB Board members were encouraged to add other transportation sources to the site - Greenbelt's representative could have suggested the Greenbelt Connection. I hope this helps you Jeannette. And Don, I apologize if I didn't use the correct terminology in my previous post. As I mentioned, I am a dinosaur!. Sylvia Lewis
J Goderre January 29, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Folks, you seem to be missing the point of Reach A Ride. "Reach A Ride provides individuals who require transportation assistance with information about the transportation providers in their area." It is a "web-accessible database of specialized transportation information in the National Capital Region". It is NOT intended as a general trip planner; don't go to the hardware store for bread. If you explore the advanced search options you can see that it is a directory of specialized transportation providers (public and private) in various jurisdictions. Some providers restrict by types of disability, medical appointment or not, fees, and other eligibility criteria mandated by that provider for users of the service. It is called "Reach A Ride" not "Plan a Ride". Presumably they mean: here's a way to connect you with the right folks for a very specialized purpose. If a service is missing, like Greenbelt Connection, there is a form where you can submit the necessary information to improve the directory's provider listing.
robert snyder January 29, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I want to thank Don Comis for providing clarity on this issue. When accusations and labels are thrown around its easy for folks to get off subject and muddle the facts. And thanks for sharing the 3 public transportation sites. I have my own car to use to get to work and I have used the Metro buses to get to the G. metro station to go into DC, but haven't had to travel cross county but if i ever need to I have the sites now. thanks again.
Jeannette January 29, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Unfortunately, we are not missing the point of Reach a Ride. It was explained at the last Council meeting that this web site is a significant resource for "planning a trip using public transportation". It is not. Mr. Roberts was publicly chastised for not informing the Counsel and public about it's wonderful trip planning features at last week's Council meeting. Maybe a public apology to Mr. Roberts is in order? Maybe Mr. Roberts should have checked the site, learned how it can help our physically challenged citizens get around the metro area? Hopefully, this is just another lesson for all: stay informed and educated yourself.
tcmitssr January 29, 2012 at 07:32 PM
This has become a digressed discussion from the pertinent topic at hand. Our City Council is broken and does not work together as a team for our common good. It appears to me to be primarily because of the actions of the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Temp. I've addressed above however as to how each Council member, individually I believe, holds some personal responsibility as well. My hope is in the next election, whether it is 7 different individuals or an actual slate, brings about real competition. I also hope "the Old Guard of Greenbelt," both in our elected officials and the remnants of the older generation, whom together *control* Greenbelt politics, either step aside voluntarily (unlikely) or are finally outvoted. Once "out" they will likely never regain control and we can begin to look towards Greenbelt in the 21st Century rather than continuously relive Greenbelt circa 1937. A first step is the direct election of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Temp by the citizens. The second step is to reschedule Council elections from off-years to when state and Congressional elections are held. This will bring out 4x-5x the number of Greenbelt voters for our local elections. "The Old Guard" however, IMHO, realizes this would be the end of their hold on Greenbelt government, and its political and social future. They will oppose this as a result. Off year elections are discriminatory against minorities and the majority of most busy citizens who forget it's Election Day.
tcmitssr January 29, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Ms. Lewis, I refer you to my response for Mayor Davis in Mr. Orleans' and Mr. Love's opinion letter of Jan. 6, 2012 titled "Who Should Be Council Representative on the Transportation Planning Board?" Mayor Davis, respectfully, apologized to me for her remarks concerning my anonymity in our mutual posts in that thread. If you do read it, you will understand the sacred traditions of many of our forefathers to provide their opinions in an anonymous manner. Our Constitutional right of free speech allows us to be able to speak free from concerns about: retaliation, retribution and other negative actions. I wonder if you fully understand or can appreciate just how precious is one's right to be anonymous? Please research "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine in 1776 if you have any doubts about this. It rebels against traditions of "privilege and entitlement." I did not take just Ms. Davis and Mr. Jordan to task, above, in this thread. I addressed each member of Council individually as to what I see as their respective inabilities and shortcomings as our representatives. Why seven adults, elected officials of what is supposed to be "friendly small-town government," (supposedly as friendly as "Mayberry, R.F.D."!) are unable to get along is beyond my comprehension. If Council members can't do so, for whatever reasons, they need to change their behaviors for the good of Greenbelt. Otherwise, our Council is little more than a children's daycare center.
Sylvia Lewis January 29, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Jeannette, Mr. Roberts did not need to check the site. It was demonstrated to him and the other board members at the 12/21 COG TPB meeting. The point I made at the council meeting, and continue to make, is that the City's representatives on any COG board should keep council, and therefore Greenbelters, informed. The Reacharide.org site was launched on Dec. 5 2012. It was a new resource. It was worthy of being reported. I do not think I need to apologize to Mr. Roberts for stating this fact. Sylvia Lewis
Sylvia Lewis January 29, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Sorry. I obviously meant Dec. 5 2011. Sylvia Lewis.
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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