D.C.’s mayoral candidates engage in a debate, after months of anticipation. Virginia lawmakers meet to debate over plans to expand Medicaid in the commonwealth. And officials in Maryland hint that a troubled transit center in Silver Spring may finally open by the end of the year.

Guests

  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
  • Eugene Puryear Statehood Green Candidate, D.C. Council (At-Large)
  • Brian Feldman Member, Maryland Senate (D-Montgomery County)

Watch A Featured Clip

D.C. Council candidate Eugene Puryear explained why he says the developer who controls land of the potential new D.C. United soccer stadium is committing “economic terrorism.” Puryear, a Statehood Green Candidate who’s running for the At-Large seat, said the corporations go after public assets unnecessarily. He said the companies threaten that blighted communities will never experience growth if they don’t receive public dollars to develop the area. “There’s no partnership, no communication. There’s a gun to the head of the city government by many of these developers,” Puryear said.

Watch The Full Broadcast

Transcript

  • 12:06:43

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University, in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter for NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. He is joined in studio for the first part of this broadcast by Eugene Puryear. He is a Statehood Green candidate for the D.C. Council. He is running for an at-large seat. Eugene Puryear, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:07:20

    MR. EUGENE PURYEAROh, thank you so much for having me. Great to be here.

  • 12:07:21

    NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Eugene Puryear you can start calling us at 800-433-8850. You can go to our website kojoshow.org, where you can ask a question or make a comment and view the live videostream that will be running there for this entire hour. That's at our website, kojoshow.org. Or you can simply sends us a tweet, @kojoshow, or email to kojo@wamu.org.

  • 12:07:44

    NNAMDITom Sherwood you would have -- or did have last night, what Red Barber used to describe as the cat bird seat at the mayoral debate that took place here at American University last night, in which the candidates, it seems, spent a great deal of time sparring with one another. But in the final analysis what do you think the debate accomplished?

  • 12:08:05

    MR. TOM SHERWOODI think the debate accomplished what we set out to do, which is, allow people to see the candidates together, expressing their views and personalities. You know, so often you can get debates which are dry, robotic forums. In this case we purposely -- I -- as I said at the introduction, being the mayor of the District -- or any elected executive -- you live in a popcorn popper. Issues are not organized. They come and go. They surprise you. Just when you think you've got a handle on something, something else happens.

  • 12:08:37

    MR. TOM SHERWOODSo last night we had an unscripted, unrehearsed forum where even the panelists -- Kavitha was there from WAMU and Patrick Madden and Clinton Yates from the Washington Post. And we did not -- except very briefly, before the program -- discuss how we were going to do it. So I said I wanted to see these candidates in an unscripted moment. And I think we achieved that.

  • 12:08:59

    NNAMDIIt was unscripted. It was unrehearsed, but it was clearly not uninteresting. Take a listen.

  • 12:09:06

    MR. DAVID CATANIAWhen you ran for council in 1997 (sic) you promised to make education your number one priority. And in seven years you introduced a sense of the council resolution with no specifics, no plan, simply a platitude.

  • 12:09:17

    MS. MURIEL BOWSERAnd in seven years, Mr. Catania -- again, let me correct you. When I -- I know exactly why I ran for council in 2007 and it's the same reason why I'm running for mayor. I promised then, as I promise now, that I will work hard every day to make sure we expand school choices -- not just for a few, but for all the residents of the District of Columbia. I said then…

  • 12:09:37

    CATANIAWell, and in seven -- and in seven years…

  • 12:09:37

    BOWSERExcuse me. I said…

  • 12:09:38

    CATANIA…you've not introduced a single measure nor is there a footprint on the subject.

  • 12:09:39

    BOWSER…then, like I say it now, that I am going to focus on the underserved communities, not only in my ward, but across the city.

  • 12:09:47

    CATANIAWell, what is enormously frustrating…

  • 12:09:47

    BOWSERI said then as you -- excuse me. You mentioned why I ran for council and I am going to finish…

  • 12:09:50

    CATANIA…Ms. Bowser, is that when it comes to the at-risk students it is time…

  • 12:09:53

    SHERWOODTime. Time.

  • 12:09:54

    BOWSER…why I'm running for mayor.

  • 12:09:55

    SHERWOODTime.

  • 12:09:56

    CATANIAWait. Ms. Bowser…

  • 12:09:57

    BOWSERNow, let me finish.

  • 12:09:57

    CATANIA…it is -- let me finish.

  • 12:09:57

    BOWSERAllow me to finish, Mr. Sherwood.

  • 12:09:58

    SHERWOODI'm calling time, for you to stop because it sounds like "Crossfire."

  • 12:10:00

    CATANIANo. It's -- let me -- let me -- Mr. Sherwood, when she suggests that I am not concerned about at-risk children…

  • 12:10:02

    SHERWOODMr. Catania -- Mr. Catania -- Mr. Catania, please stop.

  • 12:10:07

    CATANIA…it is I who funded the measure.

  • 12:10:08

    SHERWOODWe need -- it sounds like we need a class on behavior.

  • 12:10:12

    NNAMDIBam, left hook, right cross.

  • 12:10:13

    SHERWOODWell, that glass was me tapping -- I didn't have what somebody said should have been a shotgun. But I had a, you know, I was tapping my glass. But on the one hand they did go on at point, but they -- there you saw Muriel Bowser, a side you don't often see of her. She's so measured and so cautious that, you know, she just doesn't have that strong position that she took last night. And she clearly was right at David Catania.

  • 12:10:39

    SHERWOODCatania was trying to be factual and, I mean, there is a real issue about Muriel Bowser, and our poll showed it. I mean, who is she and what all she has done. And he was trying to, you know, attack the leading candidate in this race. So that was a very good example of where there was a lot of clashing.

  • 12:10:55

    NNAMDIAnd, frankly, it is what I expect from these debates because I think that given what has been written about both candidates, what you said about Muriel Bowser, that her strategy has to be how can I rattle David Catania, since much has been written about the fact that he can be rattled, so to speak.

  • 12:11:12

    SHERWOODRight. And she's the -- as our poll -- we may talk about it some more, but she has a comfortable lead, but she does not have a secure lead. There's something like 30 percent of the voters who are either undecided or willing to change their minds on who they will vote for. That's a -- that means the race is not settled. She's got to close the deal. David Catania has to narrow -- he has to focus exactly what his game is about, rather than -- as I told him, you know, you should stop talking in sentences that have commas.

  • 12:11:40

    NNAMDIEugene Puryean -- Puryear, have you been participating in debates so far?

  • 12:11:46

    PURYEARI have been participating. Well, we've only had one so far.

  • 12:11:47

    NNAMDIHave they been this -- have they been this exciting, like what we've just been listening to?

  • 12:11:50

    PURYEARI think they've been, maybe, substantive, but definitely not this exciting. These kind of clashes has yet to take place.

  • 12:11:57

    SHERWOODNow, you know, some people -- and I had a couple people complaining that the forum was all over the map and that we should have -- one person said we should have talked more about American University and its battles with the neighbors about its development.

  • 12:12:08

    NNAMDIYes. You were there, after all.

  • 12:12:10

    SHERWOODAnd I said to them, this was a multi-faceted forum. We talked about any number of issues, on the homelessness and all kinds of things, sports, soccer stadiums, all these things. I said it was -- it's not a one-issue candidate forum. It's a chance to see the candidates in an unscripted way. And I think that's -- again, I think we achieved that.

  • 12:12:29

    NNAMDIFor those who may not have been able to watch the entire debate or who were not there, it -- one gets the impression that Independent Carol Schwartz stood, in a way, above the fray, but apparently got off quite a few zingers.

  • 12:12:41

    SHERWOODWell, she was very entertaining. You know, Carol has a terrific personality. People have always liked her all over this city. They have not always voted for her, which is her major problem. And she's trailing in this race behind the other two candidates. But she was her personality last night. She was funny. I think several people, in analysis, said that she got a little too lost in what's happened in the past and not what should happen in the future.

  • 12:13:08

    SHERWOODBut that comes from being a long, you know, a veteran of city politics. She wanted -- she's kind of reintroducing herself. She hasn't been around elective politics since 2008. So she has to talk about the past and the future. It's a very difficult thing to do.

  • 12:13:22

    NNAMDIAnd this is the first of four debates that all candidates have agreed to. There were -- obviously candidate David Catania wants more, but four are what -- all the candidates have agreed to. Our debate, the WAMU 88.5 debate will be taking place at NPR Studios on October 2nd. It will air live that evening, on WAMU 88.5 so you'll have the opportunity to listen to the candidates once again, there. That's on October 2nd.

  • 12:13:49

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, our guest in studio is Eugene Puryear. He's a Statehood Green candidate for the D.C. Council, running for an at-large seat. We'll get into his issue shortly. But if you'd like to talk with him or have a question or comment for him, call him -- call us at 800-433-8850 or go to our website, kojoshow.org, where you can both ask a question, make a comment, and you can also watch the live videostream. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. According to the NBC/Washington Post -- are you involved in everything?

  • 12:14:19

    SHERWOODIt feels like it.

  • 12:14:20

    NNAMDIYou are NBC, you're in three of the four debates -- at least three of the four. You might be in all four, as far as I know.

  • 12:14:26

    SHERWOODSomeone said, "Well, Sherwood, he should have just been a candidate."

  • 12:14:28

    NNAMDII would (unintelligible) much. You and Vincent Orange should be in this race. Anyhow, the NBC…

  • 12:14:33

    SHERWOODHe was there last night.

  • 12:14:35

    NNAMDIWere you there last night, Mr. Puryear?

  • 12:14:36

    PURYEARI was only watching on Ustream.

  • 12:14:38

    NNAMDIOh, okay. The Washington Post/NBC poll shows that Councilmember Muriel Bowser has support among 43 percent of likely voters. D.C. Councilmember David Catania, 26 percent. Former lawmaker Carol Schwartz with 16 percent. The general assumption is that in Washington, D.C., if you are a Democrat and win the primary, you win the mayoral race. It would seem so far -- according to the polls -- that this race is following that pattern. How can it be different?

  • 12:15:07

    SHERWOODWell, it is -- because Muriel Bowser has not yet brought the Democrats home, which is one of her goals between now and November 4th. She's -- the Democrats will have to decide whether they're going to go with Muriel Bowser. You know, Carol Schwartz is in third place with 16 percent of the vote. The analysts, the professional consultants say that it's very often the case that the person in third place is hamstrung because, as we get closer to November 4th, people will decide she's not going to win. And if she's not going to win, who am I going to vote for.

  • 12:15:39

    SHERWOODAnd those Independents and Democrats will decide whether between Bowser and Catania. But Bowser has a comfortable lead, but she hasn't closed the deal. And this is the first competitive race in about 20 years here in the city.

  • 12:15:52

    NNAMDIEugene Puryear, you are personally, deeply invested in this not being a Democratic Party town. What is your view on how the Democrats can lose an election in this city, whether hit happens to be the mayoral election or one of the positions you're running for, for at-large on the Council.

  • 12:16:11

    PURYEARWell, I think the easiest way for…

  • 12:16:12

    NNAMDIBecause you're running against an incumbent Democrat...

  • 12:16:14

    PURYEARI am. I am, indeed, as a Statehood Green. And people have two votes, of course. But, you know, I think the easiest way for Democrats to lose an election is to lose touch with the electorate. And I think, really, what we see in the District of Columbia right now, is there's a fair amount of agreement on what the actual issues are, whether it be affordable housing, wages, so on and so forth, but there's very little in terms of people who are proposing solutions that meet the scale of the problem.

  • 12:16:38

    PURYEARAnd I think what we've seen with the Democrats, with essential one-party rule here in the District for quite some time -- more or less the entire time of the home-rule era -- is that the Democratic Party has presided over this kicking the can down the road on so many of these issues. And I think what we're right now at an inflection point in the District. And I think people do want to.

  • 12:16:56

    PURYEARAnd I think this is why we're seeing a proliferation of Independent candidates, people who are in third parties, like myself, the Statehood Green Party -- who are gaining some traction. Because I think voters in the District of Columbia -- with Independents being the largest growing cohort of people in registration -- are looking for people who are proposing solutions that meet the scale of the problem, not just speaking, you know, the lip service during the elections and then continuing business as usual in the...

  • 12:17:19

    NNAMDILet's talk race for a second here.

  • 12:17:20

    PURYEARSure.

  • 12:17:20

    NNAMDIBecause the District is still a little more than 50 percent African Americans. African Americans identify very strongly with the Democratic Party. How do you peel them off?

  • 12:17:31

    PURYEARWell, I mean, I think that certainly in the District of Columbia, first and foremost I should say, as someone who represents the Statehood Green Party, the former Statehood Party, we also have a long history and a long and deep relationship with the African American community here in the District of Columbia. So I look at it a little different than perhaps some of these Independents who are appealing without that kind of history.

  • 12:17:48

    PURYEARJulius Hobson, Hilda Mason and so on and so forth. But I think the easiest way to get any voter is to speak directly to what concerns them and propose a solution that makes sense to them that is dealing with their problem.

  • 12:18:01

    SHERWOODYou come from the progressive, you're a socialist, very rough-speaking about corporations and lame-stream media, and all -- playing along to this corrupt system, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But the District Council itself, which was actually fairly progressive in the '70s and the early '80s, has gotten less so now. And the whole city has had this economic boom. There's money in the bank. Things are being done.

  • 12:18:33

    SHERWOODWhere is the support? The Statehood Green Party has not grown. In fact, it has shrunk maybe from the last 20 years. How do you get the message out -- other than appearing on this show? I mean, there's money, there's organization. How do you win in a candidate field? The polls show that Paul Zukerberg is leading, the guy who -- I'm sorry. He's running for attorney general.

  • 12:18:56

    NNAMDIHe's in the attorney general…

  • 12:18:57

    SHERWOODI've got too many races in my head from last night. I apologize.

  • 12:18:58

    NNAMDIWe're going to get to that after a while.

  • 12:18:59

    SHERWOODBut the tone of -- you're a progressive socialist. That doesn't -- that seems to be out of step with where the city is now. How do you get the people who agree with you to the polls and vote?

  • 12:19:10

    PURYEARWell, I mean, I think it's organization and shoe-leather. I mean, I think what we've seen, for instance in some of the internal polling released by some of my opponents, is that people with tens of thousands of dollars are having trouble getting ahead of me. So I think what we're seeing is that voters are looking for candidates. And we've been able to get out there over a year, distribute tens of thousands of pieces of literature.

  • 12:19:28

    PURYEARSo a lot of it is just getting out there and sort of old-fashioned organizing. Which, as someone who comes from the progressive world -- I've been the cofounder of the Jobs Not Jails coalition, I've worked on housing issues, wage issues and so on and so forth -- that organizing experience of bringing people together, bringing in folks I've known for the 10 years I've been here, who are organizers and getting that value added by just getting out in the streets and organizing folks to get out there.

  • 12:19:49

    SHERWOODYou ran for, I think, vice president in 2008.

  • 12:19:51

    PURYEARI did.

  • 12:19:53

    SHERWOODAs the party for socialism and liberation. You have a lot of national issues, income disparity and all of those. How do you translate these national issues to right on the ground? Because if you could get on the Council, you have to -- you have to have seven votes, yours, plus six others to get anything done. Who would be the allies right now on the Council that you know of?

  • 12:20:15

    PURYEARWell, I think from what we've seen right now, we've seen people like Vincent Orange who have been pushing progressive legislation for some time. And others who call themselves progressives, whether that be David Grosso -- and I know Charles Allen, who's coming in. So I think there's natural allies there, but I think there's also -- the thing about politics, is that it really is a real politics sort of game. Right? So there's natural allies and unnatural allies.

  • 12:20:34

    PURYEARAnd from my point of view, when you look at the national issues like income inequality, the District of Columbia is the third-most unequal municipality in the country. We have a huge issue of minimum wage. So when we can speak the large number of people…

  • 12:20:46

    SHERWOODWe haven't solved the minimum wage?

  • 12:20:47

    PURYEAROh, I think we absolutely haven't. I mean, when we look at the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which shows…

  • 12:20:51

    SHERWOODMIT, okay.

  • 12:20:52

    PURYEAR…that -- for a single person, the living wage, which is just the bare minimum, would be about $13. We're not even going to get, you know, within a $1.50 of that by 2016. And that's not even keeping up with inflation as it goes up year to year, which is why I'm promoting a $15 an hour minimum wage. Because I think there's tens of thousands of people in this city who live in all different wards who are still being affected by the fact that poverty wages are tolerated in this city.

  • 12:21:17

    PURYEARAnd so I think that creates unnatural allies, as politicians look to reelection and so on and so forth, and start to see a groundswell of a movement, because it's not just about me. It's about continuing to organize and keep pressure on the Council.

  • 12:21:27

    NNAMDIAs Tom mentioned, you ran for vice president in 2008. So despite the fact that you are a Socialist, you obviously felt that electoral politics was useful, yet you did not register in the District of Columbia until last November. Why did you not think participation in local politics was useful until that time?

  • 12:21:45

    PURYEARSure. Well, I'll say that I've been very involved in local politics from the issue of pushing issues from the outside, being an advocate, being an organizer, but

  • 12:21:52

    NNAMDII mean electoral politics.

  • 12:21:52

    PURYEARAbsolutely. No. And I think it's a good question. And the reason it didn't seem worthwhile to me was I couldn't find candidates and I couldn't find parties that seemed to be either, A, in line with my values and what I really wanted to push, and, B, that seemed as if they were trying to run campaigns to win, as opposed to just raise issues.

  • 12:22:09

    PURYEARAnd I think, especially in local elections, when you're going to run -- especially if you want to run for a seat that you might have a chance -- when you look at a city like the District of Columbia that's relatively progressive, I want to see those two things, both the value piece and also the commitment to actually trying to win. And that's -- ultimately why I ended up running because I felt, well, if I'm looking around and I don't see anyone, then maybe I need to put my money where my mouth is and be that person.

  • 12:22:29

    SHERWOODThat's very similar to what the people on the right side of the political spectrum say. They don't want to vote because no one is as pure enough for them to vote for in a multi-racial, multilevel economic society. It seems like you have to be engaged on every level and you win or you lose, but you have to be engaged.

  • 12:22:49

    PURYEARWell, absolutely. I think it's important to be engaged on a variety of levels. And I think democracy takes place in a variety of different areas. And I'm not trying to say that what I did was 100 percent right. But what I am saying -- and I think that's a good point that you make about engagement. Because that is something I'm starting to realize as we get in this race, is how much you can do via electoral politics, in terms of reaching people. But we have, really, an epidemic in this country and in this city, I mean, just look at voter enthusiasm.

  • 12:23:12

    PURYEARAnd when you look at the younger generation in particular, whose future is at stake, people not being engaged with the political process. And I think that my history puts me in a unique position to show people by my candidacy and my ability to reach out to them why they should be.

  • 12:23:24

    SHERWOODI think people aren't engaged because people don't engage them. It's often, when groups say to me as a journalist, "You've got to cover me." And I say, "You know, I hate to tell you this, but the reality is I don't have to cover you. You have to do something that makes me cover you." And the same thing is true of politicians who want -- see this grassroots that they want to rise up and change the system. It's you have to inspire them. And in this city that has not happened.

  • 12:23:50

    PURYEARYeah. I mean I think that certainly we…

  • 12:23:52

    NNAMDIInspire us.

  • 12:23:52

    PURYEAR…we're waiting for that to happen. I think what we have seen, actually, that is inspiring that I've been involved in, it's outside directly -- not totally outside, but in line of this, is what we've seen with the Michael Brown protests in Washington, D.C., where we've been one of the only places outside of Ferguson that's had this continued long-term, sustainable movement around these issues.

  • 12:24:08

    SHERWOODYeah, but that's a national issue. What have the D.C. police done about…

  • 12:24:10

    PURYEARBut I think it does speak to people -- but I think it speaks to people being -- inspiration.

  • 12:24:13

    SHERWOOD…in terms of discrimination and violence against the people they arrest?

  • 12:24:17

    PURYEARSure. Well, I think the…

  • 12:24:18

    SHERWOODWhat's the record here?

  • 12:24:19

    PURYEARI think that the MPD -- well, first of all, we don't know as much about their records because they don't do what they're supposed to do, in terms of recording every stop, recording every time they pull a gun. But what we saw in the ACLU study about marijuana is that what really was happening was a de facto stop and frisk, where "marijuana odor" and this -- the suspicion around that was being used in really places west of -- or east of 16th Street to conduct a racially biased stop program. So I think there's a lot to that.

  • 12:24:43

    NNAMDIDon your headphones gentlemen. We're about to go to the phones where Corbett, in Washington, D.C. -- Corbett, awaits us. Corbett, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:24:53

    CORBETTYeah, hi, Kojo. Eugene Puryear, I'd like to know your position on economic development in Ward 5. We have 40 developments planned and underway. And there's negative public health impacts, like increased congestion, air pollution, asthma, heat island effect. I know you testified to the zoning commission on McMillan. So that's one question. And also…

  • 12:25:22

    NNAMDIWell, we -- well, we can only tolerate one question at a time, please. And if you -- please, go ahead, Mr. Puryear.

  • 12:25:29

    PURYEARSure. Well, I mean my position on economic development in Ward 5 is I think that there is too much happening at one time and the zoning commission hasn't really -- isn't reining it in or really policing it appropriately. I think McMillan is a perfect example where you're right across from this proposed Old Soldiers Home development by the federal government.

  • 12:25:46

    PURYEARSo you've got two huge developments, one of which is going to cause tremendous damage to historical material, going to limit green space and there's no real plan for how you're going to have parking there or what's going to happen in terms of transit, what is going to happen with the historic view sheds. I mean there's all of these issues that aren't being dealt with correctly.

  • 12:26:01

    PURYEARAnd I think it speaks to the fact that in Ward 5, as, you know, with many wards, they're sort of sticking things wherever they possibly can in order to turn a profit. And I think our development has to be more balanced. It has to be more focused on how we preserve our green spaces, our public property and how we're using things of that nature. And I think Ward 5…

  • 12:26:17

    NNAMDIOn the McMillan development we had a broadcast this week. You can go to our website to find it. It was last week in which we talked with architect Roger Lewis and at least three people involved in the activism around the McMillan development on the broadcast.

  • 12:26:28

    SHERWOODBut can we just -- can I just mention Ward 5? But, you know, it's been -- it was an old and much of it -- it's a commercial area. It was old, industrial. Isn't the New York Avenue, the Warehouse District, that's Ward 5 isn't it?

  • 12:26:40

    PURYEARUm-hum.

  • 12:26:40

    SHERWOODOkay. Where Doug Jemal is redoing the Hecht Warehouse there, there's a distillery, there's new housing going up there. There's some discussion of making New York Avenue a place where there can be high-rise buildings. On the one hand, Ward 5 has been left out of the economic regeneration of the city.

  • 12:26:57

    NNAMDIOn the other hand, you seem to be suggesting there's too much.

  • 12:26:59

    SHERWOODThere's retail and groceries. I mean, people don't want to drive to Prince George's County to go to a grocery store. So are -- you're not against development, you just want it to move slower? Some of them have said they've waited a long time.

  • 12:27:12

    PURYEARWell, it's less that I want it to move slower, and more I want it to move smarter. Because I think a lot of times what we see is the ripple effect after we've put in these new developments, rising property values, the rising cost of housing, just this sort of change in composition of the neighborhood and the different tensions that caused. And we don't seem to think a lot of these things through. And so we have tremendous development that is continuing to happen. And we pay lip service to it.

  • 12:27:31

    PURYEARWell, we need to focus more on affordable housing. Oh, we need to focus more on what we do for seniors with property taxes. But while we're debating this we continue putting up more and more buildings, more and more developments, and compounding the problem. So it's not that I'd like to see it move slower. I'd like to see it just move a little smarter.

  • 12:27:46

    SHERWOODAnd on…

  • 12:27:47

    NNAMDIWell, let's talk development. The city's considering a deal right now to offer public money -- some public money, for the construction of a new stadium for D.C. United Soccer Team at Buzzard Point. That deal would involve swapping the land where Reeves Center sits at 14th and U, for the land where the stadium site would be in Southwest, among other things. You've described the developer who controls that land as having "a terroristic attitude." What do you mean by that?

  • 12:28:11

    PURYEARWhat I mean by that is…

  • 12:28:13

    SHERWOODAre we talking about Akridge?

  • 12:28:14

    PURYEARYeah, well, we are talking about Akridge.

  • 12:28:15

    SHERWOODLet's say who we're talking about.

  • 12:28:17

    PURYEARSure, yeah, we're talking about Akridge. And I think it applies broadly across the development spectrum. And this is one place we see sort of local and national intersect, is that there is what I view to be an unbelievable situation, where profitable and very expensive corporations are going after public assets and asking for public money, when either they -- when they don't need it and with very little discussion.

  • 12:28:36

    PURYEARAnd when they, you know, you say -- you question it at all, they say, well, if you don't give us this money or you don't give us this property, then we're just going to leave and there's not going to be any sort of development. So, I mean, there's no partnership, there's no communication. There's a gun to the head of the city government by many of these developers, by people who are pushing these properties saying this is the only way you'll ever revitalize this and if you don't give us exactly what we want, then we're just going to pull out. And I think that's not the way we…

  • 12:28:59

    NNAMDIWell, some people would call that blackmail. Why do you call it terroristic?

  • 12:29:01

    PURYEARWell, I mean, I think I call it terroristic because of the way the threat is proposed. Like, you know, when you look at the stakes in these developments, where it's almost like, okay, this is a blighted area, sort of a bombed-out area or an area that if you don't come in here we're going to bomb it out in the sense that there's never going to be anything built there. It's never going to grow. It's going to continue to be a terrible situation. So you can could it blackmail, you could call it economic terrorism. Whatever it is, I think it's wrong.

  • 12:29:25

    SHERWOODWell, the big issue there is whether or not the Reeves Center at 14th and U, the city office building built in 1986, is going to be part of the deal. Muriel Bowser and David Catania have both questioned the value of giving that building and land away to Akridge in exchange for the small part of land in Southeast -- Southwest. But…

  • 12:29:47

    CORBETTKojo?

  • 12:29:47

    SHERWOODBut these are big issues. I mean, these are economic development. I think terrorism is a -- I mean, you dilute what terrorism is if you say that's terrorism. That's American economics. You can certainly say it's harsh and it may be unfair in different ways. But that's American economics. That's not terrorism.

  • 12:30:02

    PURYEARBut I think it does. I don't think it does dilute it. When you're basically saying that people aren't going to be able to have a right to have a decent place to live and have new exciting things and…

  • 12:30:10

    SHERWOODThere's nothing more…

  • 12:30:10

    PURYEAR…the city -- if you don't do exactly what we say? I mean, that, to me, is terroristic.

  • 12:30:13

    SHERWOODHave you been to the site for the -- have you been to the site for the soccer stadium?

  • 12:30:16

    PURYEARWell, but I'm saying…

  • 12:30:16

    SHERWOODThere's nobody living there.

  • 12:30:18

    PURYEAR…is in terms of -- well, but in terms of the broader scope of what's happening, which is, you know, if we don't so this then we're not going to be able to redevelop and turn that area into a nice area.

  • 12:30:26

    SHERWOODThat's not…

  • 12:30:26

    PURYEARThat there's no other way.

  • 12:30:27

    SHERWOODWho says that? Who says…

  • 12:30:28

    PURYEARThat's exactly what people are saying, that the soccer stadium…

  • 12:30:29

    SHERWOODWho said it?

  • 12:30:30

    PURYEAR…is the linchpin. That's what the whole -- when I was there to testify when Jack Evans had the hearing, the whole discussion was that this area around Buzzard Point and that whole area of Southwest will never be able to rise…

  • 12:30:40

    SHERWOODNo.

  • 12:30:40

    PURYEAR…if it isn't for this as the linchpin. And they used the baseball stadium as their example.

  • 12:30:44

    SHERWOODI don't even think Jack Evans has said that. I think they're saying it can be. But I don't think it's not going to happen. Akridge didn't buy all that land and expecting a soccer stadium. He bought it well before, just as Doug Jemal bought the old FBI building down there. They didn't buy that land 5 and 10 years ago because they thought a soccer stadium would come. That's a late-breaking thing. They're trying to market that and use that to develop their land, but it's not contingent on that. There are other plans for that area, too.1

  • 12:31:11

    PURYEAROh, I mean, I think there's quite a -- I think the Southwest Waterfront itself. And that was a big part of my testimony. But I think very clearly -- and if people go back and listen to the hearing, they'll see the red thread running through it was that this soccer stadium is some sort of key linchpin, that without there will be some blighted area.

  • 12:31:24

    NNAMDIGot to move on to Debby, in Dupont Circle. Debby, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:31:29

    DEBBYYes. I just wanted to ask Eugene Puryear why he has been brave enough to take stands on these very -- well, I don't consider them controversial, but you guys seem to consider his positions controversial -- on these big giveaways. These giveaways of our assets. When I go to these candidate forums, he is usually the only person who stands up and states his position. And I wonder why he's settled on that strategy because in this town everybody ducks and seeks cover.

  • 12:32:01

    SHERWOODIs that Debby Hanrahan?

  • 12:32:02

    DEBBYYes.

  • 12:32:02

    PURYEARI believe it may be.

  • 12:32:03

    SHERWOODHey, I haven't talked to you for a while. Hello.

  • 12:32:06

    DEBBYYes.

  • 12:32:06

    PURYEARWell, you know, I think that's a good question. And, you know, for me it's that I have -- I feel a certain respect for voters. I mean, if I'm running for office, not -- you're never going to agree with -- or I think people probably aren't -- some people will agree 100 percent with where I'm at. But there are a lot of people who -- they may agree with 60, 75 or 70 percent of where you are. But they really want to know what kind of person you are, where do you stand.

  • 12:32:25

    PURYEARSo even if you don't agree with me, I want people to be able to say, okay, Eugene Puryear, he's for this, he's for that, he's for that. And then make their decision based off of that detailed knowledge about what my positions are. And so that way, if I'm able to be elected to the Council -- and I believe I am -- people will understand what kind of council member I'll be besides the particular issues. They have a sense, from these particular issues, what my broader philosophy is. And it'll give the sense of I'm the type of person who they want to be on there. And so I think it's an important quality.

  • 12:32:51

    NNAMDIWe got an email from Will, in Adelphi, who says, "The Statehood Green Party or any other third party will never have a chance until we have preferential voting, such as instant run-off voting for example, in our elections. What prospects for getting preferential voting in primaries or general election in D.C.?" I will say with Democrats dominating the Council and the mayoralty at this point, the chances are somewhere between slim and none.

  • 12:33:13

    SHERWOODAnd there's, you know, I think -- is it David Grosso -- I'm not sure who's proposed -- maybe…

  • 12:33:16

    NNAMDIDavid Grosso.

  • 12:33:17

    SHERWOOD…who has proposed, you know, public financing. I'm not sure. He's talked about it. I don't know if he's actually got a proposal. There are ways to get more people involved. Some people think we should have non-partisan election. We'd just have elections and then whoever the top two are have a runoff and then that's how we'd do it. But the fact is…

  • 12:33:33

    PURYEARWhat are your thoughts?

  • 12:33:34

    PURYEARWell…

  • 12:33:34

    SHERWOODWe -- but the fact is the Democrats are in control at this point.

  • 12:33:39

    PURYEARWell, I think we do need instant run-off voting. And certainly, from what I've seen in the races this year and the different forms of the variety, there seems to be some talk of support for that. I think the top two primary, they have that in California right now. I'm not as in favor of it because it seems to just transform the two-party system to, you know, de facto two-party system, where the people with the most money, name recognition, connections and so on, are able to win.

  • 12:34:01

    PURYEARI do think that having ranked-choice voting, preferential-choice voting, whether it's non-partisan or party-based, where it's a number of candidates, has the opportunity to open things up. And I think with Independents, as a growing section of our political body, you're going to see a little bit of this open up. David Grosso has talked about it. I believe Kenyan McDuffie has also talked about it. And certainly I know we've seen some other people.

  • 12:34:23

    NNAMDIHow'd you get over here today?

  • 12:34:24

    PURYEARI got over here on the Metro.

  • 12:34:26

    NNAMDIDo you own a car in this city?

  • 12:34:27

    PURYEARI do not own a car.

  • 12:34:28

    NNAMDIWhat investment do you think the city should make in streetcars? The Council scaled back some of the immediate plans for that investment earlier this spring. What do you see as the future of transportation in the city?

  • 12:34:38

    PURYEARWell, I mean, I think that we have to finish out on H Street. But I don't know how far we should go beyond that because it seems to me that there are a number -- there's a huge number of unknowns. And that's why Phil Mendelson unearthed the $100 million that they hadn't even spent that was sitting in a bank account collecting dust. Because it's unknown if the streetcar system -- how they're going to build it, how they're going run the cars. They wanted to have overhead wires in Georgetown, federal government said no. So you're going to buy whole new cars.

  • 12:35:01

    PURYEARAnd I think that for transportation in the District of Columbia -- and in terms of how we spend our public dollars on such an important thing, I think we've got to start with what we know. For example, rapid bus lanes up 16th Street, across K Street, for which plans already exist, that would save us money. And in fact, on K Street, the reason the Department of Transportation said they weren't moving forward is they're expecting at some unknown time in the future to have a streetcar there.

  • 12:35:22

    PURYEARSo instead of doing something we know could relieve congestion and promote, you know, a sustainability and public transportation now, we're waiting to some unknown time in the future.

  • 12:35:31

    SHERWOODWhy can't you…

  • 12:35:31

    NNAMDIJust about out of time. Last question.

  • 12:35:33

    SHERWOODWhy can't you do both? I mean, so if you had your -- if you were on the Council, would you vote to kill the streetcar system?

  • 12:35:38

    PURYEARI think I most definitely would. It's not that I have anything against the streetcar, but I don't think that we can be having these huge outlays of money when there's so many unknowns. I'd like to see a stronger plan. I think theoretically you could do both, but since there's a finite amount of money we have to look at priorities and we've got so many other issues on the table, especially in terms of our human rights priorities in the District. I don't know that we can make that commitment.

  • 12:35:58

    SHERWOODI think the city knows it cannot put overhead wires on the streetcars in the federal city area. But it says it will help alleviate traffic and even bus congestion. That's what the city is -- that's good.

  • 12:36:11

    NNAMDII'm afraid that's all the time we have. Eugene Puryear is a Statehood Green candidate for the D.C. Council. He's running for an at-large seat. Thank you for joining us. Good luck to you.

  • 12:36:18

    PURYEARNo. Thank you so much for having me. I had a great time.

  • 12:36:21

    SHERWOODThank you very much.

  • 12:36:22

    NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter for NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. We'll shortly be talking with Brian Feldman. He's a member of the Maryland Senate. He is up for reelection -- or I should say election because he was initially appointed to this position. So if you have questions or comments for Brian Feldman, give us a call, 800-433-8850. You can send email to kojo@wamu.org.

  • 12:36:45

    NNAMDIIn the attorney general race in the District of Columbia, Tom Sherwood, NBC/Washington Post poll indicates that, well, not a lot of people seem to be interested in this race. Of course, since we have only found out that this race is going to be taking place in the last few months, it's not surprising that a lot of people don't know about it.

  • 12:37:06

    NNAMDIBut with 14 percent of likely voters, we have Paul Zukerberg, he is the one who filed the lawsuit that allowed this election to go forward, but there's Lorie Masters and Karl Racine and Edward Smith -- or Smitty Smith, Lateefah Williams, and the aforementioned Paul Zukerberg.

  • 12:37:24

    SHERWOODWell, you know, as a member of the media I'm always reluctant to complain or to make fun of citizens for not knowing something when I know the media hasn't really given it that much coverage. So with that qualification, Paul Zukerberg is the best known because he -- we would not be having this election…

  • 12:37:42

    NNAMDIWere it not.

  • 12:37:42

    SHERWOOD…except that he went to court and said, "You can't do this." The Council killed this election to 2018. And he says, "No, you can't do that." And he won in court and we're now having the election, the late-breaking election for an attorney general. And there, you know, we have had a couple of the candidates here. It's an important job. It's a -- but it's an -- we don't know what the first occupant of that job will do. Some want to focus on ethics. And -- but 56, 57 percent of the people did not know enough about the candidates to pick among the five.

  • 12:38:11

    SHERWOODAnd I think 4 percent were listed as having another choice. I don't even know who that would be. So that -- there you are over 60 percent of the people who don't know. I do hope people who are interested in -- who are registered and plan to vote, go online and at least try to do more to find out more about these candidates.

  • 12:38:27

    NNAMDII should mention that we will be having a candidates for U.S. attorney general debate, that we'll be coordinating according with the American University Washington College of Law. So at some point we'll be giving you more information about that debate. We talked about D.C. United earlier. The owner of that team will be joining us for the broadcast this coming Monday. So you'll want to tune in for that also.

  • 12:38:48

    NNAMDIRight now you are hopefully following our live video stream at kojoshow.org. If you are then you are probably seeing a third gentleman joining us in studio. He is Brian Feldman, member of the Maryland Senate. He's a Democrat who represents the state's 15th District. He's up for reelection in November. His district is located in Montgomery. You were appointed to this position, so…

  • 12:39:10

    SENATOR BRIAN FELDMANWell, I was…

  • 12:39:10

    NNAMDI…you are now up for election.

  • 12:39:12

    FELDMANThat's -- well, that's correct. First of all, it's the first time I've been on the show.

  • 12:39:15

    NNAMDIThank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:39:16

    FELDMANExcited to be here. So we have an unusual system in Maryland where I actually was elected in this same district three times -- in House.

  • 12:39:25

    NNAMDIIn the House, correct.

  • 12:39:26

    FELDMANAnd, unlike most states, the House district and the Senate district are exactly the same district. And so the same people that I'm looking to try to get the support of in November, elected me in 2002, '06 and in 2010. So what happened last year -- exactly one year ago this week…

  • 12:39:45

    NNAMDIRob Garagiola stepped down.

  • 12:39:46

    FELDMAN…Rob, yeah, Rob stepped aside. And under our Constitution, our Democratic Central Committee is responsible for making an appointment. And they unanimously selected me and…

  • 12:39:55

    SHERWOODThey nominate somebody and the governor makes the…

  • 12:39:57

    FELDMANCorrect. So technically the Central Committee sends the name to the governor. And the governor did stamp that one. So one year ago, again, it was a year ago this week and it's been an interesting year. But again, it's the same district as the House district that I represented for the prior 11 years. So...

  • 12:40:18

    NNAMDIWhat the case you're making to voters now that you deserve to be elected for the first time to this Senate position?

  • 12:40:24

    FELDMANWell, if you look at the 12-year body of work, I think most of the folks -- again, the reason I was reelected into the House, there's certain areas that I focused in on in the House and I'm building really in effect during this year in the Senate to build on those accomplishments to go forward. I think in the Senate it's a little bit of a different chamber. They have a little more independence. But the areas that I focused in on I think are areas important to our county, important to our state.

  • 12:40:52

    FELDMANI mean, specifically the couple areas that I have focused on in the House was building our biotech sector, our I-270 corridor. So some initial legislation or biotechnology tax credit was my bill. And that's been a focus area again that I think is important for our state and important for our county because that -- we have NIH, we have Hopkins. We have tremendous upside potential for our state and for Montgomery County in the biotech, and now cyber security area.

  • 12:41:21

    FELDMANAnd then the other areas I have some, you know, background professionally. I'm the only tax attorney CPA in the state legislature. And going forward I think our economic competitiveness is going to be important. There's a lot out there. And again, I think this is an area that I've done some good work in the past, plan to do so in the future. And, you know, I've put in all the bills every year for the corporate business laws, update, modernize our corporate business laws.

  • 12:41:47

    FELDMANAnd then the issue of Pepco keeps coming up, reliability. So I was the author of the -- of landmark legislation that established for the first time accountability of Pepco in terms of reliability.

  • 12:41:58

    NNAMDIHere's Tom Sherwood.

  • 12:41:58

    SHERWOODDo you do tax attorney work for individuals or corporations?

  • 12:42:02

    FELDMANIt's a little of both. I spent -- before I was in politics I was a Department of Justice litigator in the tax division so I spent a lot of years there going after folks, the bad guys on behalf of the United States of America. I did that for over a decade. And so now in terms of that other part of my life, you know, I represent a variety of controversies, basically beating up on the IRS a little bit. And then I -- also I do some teaching at Johns Hopkins.

  • 12:42:28

    SHERWOODAll right. You have a -- the candidate you're -- against you is Robin Ficker, fairly well-known...

  • 12:42:35

    FELDMANHe is. I know he was on the show last month.

  • 12:42:37

    SHERWOODYeah, and so what's the difference? If you're in the forum and you say, I like me not him, why?

  • 12:42:43

    FELDMANWell, you know, there's -- I guess I would answer that on a multitude of levels. Number one, first and foremost, the, you know, ability be effective in Annapolis, like in a lot of legislatures, is about relationships, credibility. And again, over that 12-year period...

  • 12:42:57

    SHERWOODSome people would call that the good-old-boys network.

  • 12:42:59

    FELDMANWell, you know, to get things done you need to have some relationships. It would be -- you know, I guess ideally that should be a fact but I don't want to overstate that. I think that I'd point to my 12 years. I've gotten a lot done. There's things on the ballot even in November that I was responsible for in the transportation here. We have a lockbox that's going to be on the ballot that was my bill in the House. So I have a lot more I think I need to do. And I think the message from my opponent is sort of a modified Tea Party kind of a message...

  • 12:43:28

    NNAMDIWell, specifically he's saying that your district is not well-served by the Democratic Party. There's a lot of ideological diversity among your constituents. He says, the Democrats are not doing an effective job for the people who live in the 15th. He's asking you, in a way, not just to defend yourself or to advocate for yourself, but to advocate for your party.

  • 12:43:47

    FELDMANWell first, I'm running with a great team. You know, we've got three folks running in the House and we just say Aruna Miller, Kathleen Dumais and David Fraser-Hidalgo running with me as a team. I would beg to differ with that analysis. I mean, if you look at Montgomery County and the State of Maryland in terms of, you know, the other sides trying to roll back things. I heard my opponent on your show talking about transportation.

  • 12:44:11

    FELDMANOne of the biggest things we did last year was we, like Virginia, passed a major, I would say again, landmark transportation infrastructure bill that Virginia ourselves did, the number one priority of our Chamber of Commerce very, very important. And my opponent, I think his priority is to roll that back. That's $1 billion over the next six years for the state -- for Montgomery County alone. And there's no bigger issue in the D.C. regional community than transportation congestion. But you can't do it with smoke and mirrors. And so I think ideologically the idea of rolling back these things doesn't make a lot of sense for my district, for my county, for my state.

  • 12:44:49

    SHERWOODI interrupted you when you were talking about Robin Thicker and you were going to talk about his temperament and his personality as a negative in trying to work in the legislature. I want to give you a chance to say that since I interrupted you earlier.

  • 12:45:03

    FELDMANLook, I -- you know, I don't need to go there. I don't want to go there. I mean, you know, he's well known in Montgomery County. He's run many, many times over the last 30 years. And, you know, I have -- really it's not -- I'm not here to say anything bad about my opponent. I'm here to make the case for myself...

  • 12:45:22

    NNAMDIYou were talking though about in order to get things done in the legislature, you have to be able to talk to people rather than yell at them.

  • 12:45:27

    FELDMANSure. It wasn't a reflection on him. I'm simply saying that over 12 years, I've forged solid relationships with the key members of the House and Senate. And those are important relationships to have if you're going to represent your district and your county and the general assembly. And so it's really not about him. It's really about what I bring to the table.

  • 12:45:48

    NNAMDIPlus we all know that Robin Ficker never yells at anyone.

  • 12:45:51

    SHERWOODLook, can we -- is there a forum where you guys will be together coming up that you can announce today so people can plan to go?

  • 12:45:58

    FELDMANWell, I -- you know, there's, I think, been talk about it We -- you know...

  • 12:46:02

    SHERWOODNothing set.

  • 12:46:02

    FELDMAN...there's been no clamor for debates, etcetera other than I think maybe...

  • 12:46:06

    SHERWOODYou should move to the district. We have plenty. (laugh)

  • 12:46:07

    FELDMANYeah, so, you know, as I say, I've got 12 years to run on in terms of a background record. And that's what I plan to do.

  • 12:46:15

    NNAMDIYou talk about your background as a CPA and talked about taxes. You want to reform Maryland's tax code. During the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Doug Gansler talked a lot about Maryland becoming less competitive with neighboring states. Do you agree with him? Do you feel that corporate taxes are too high in Maryland? Do you think they contribute to that lack of competitiveness? How would you change the tax code?

  • 12:46:38

    FELDMANRight. Yeah, so for my tax lawyer hat here, I think the biggest issue for our region, for our state going forward is economic competitiveness. And that's why last year in the general assembly I had a bill to establish a tax commission to take a look, for the first time in 25 years, at our tax code. The last time we did it was in 1987, some called the Linowes' Commission, Bob Linowes, the prominent tax attorney from Montgomery.

  • 12:47:02

    FELDMANSo that bill passed the House. It didn't pass the Senate partly because the governor announced a business economic competitiveness commission headed by Norm Augustine the former CEO of Lockheed Martin. They're due to have a report out December the 15th. And I expect that that report will have a series of recommendations on tax reform.

  • 12:47:23

    FELDMANCorporate taxes -- you know, one thing that I think a lot of people who don't practice in the tax law world don't understand is most -- the vast, vast majority, maybe 95 percent of businesses do not pay the corporate tax rate. They're set up as sub-Chapter S Corporations and so they're paying the individual rate. Only the biggest entities, the biggest corporations, your Marriotts, your Lockheed Martins are actually paying the corporate tax rate.

  • 12:47:47

    FELDMANSo out of every -- you know, there's probably out of every 100 businesses in Montgomery County, maybe only five are actually paying the corporate tax rate. So I think it's an important issue but I wouldn’t overstate it. Some people think that that's, like, a big issue for the business community. It is for some of the bigger players but for your average Joe, they're paying actually an income tax rate...

  • 12:48:05

    SHERWOODFor the ordinary citizens. Where were you on the minimum wage which passed?

  • 12:48:10

    FELDMANWell, I was on the committee -- I'm on the Senate Finance Committee and I was on the House Economic Matters Committee before that. And my committee had the minimum wage bill in our general assembly. And so, yes, I voted for it on the committee and on the floor. And, you know, one of the issues here was D.C., Prince George's and Montgomery actually passed a minimum wage bill before we even got to the general assembly.

  • 12:48:33

    FELDMANSo the complication in general assembly was not so much whether we were going to pass a minimum wage, which we did do. The question was, how do you do that in a way that may -- doesn't overcomplicate the situation where you have two counties, Prince Georges and Montgomery with one set of minimum wage laws and the rest of the state another.

  • 12:48:52

    FELDMANBut I did -- I was a co-sponsor of the bill. I voted for it and was actually in my committee. I'm the only member of the -- for Montgomery -- member of the Senate Finance Committee from Montgomery County.

  • 12:49:02

    NNAMDIOur guest is Brian Feldman. He's a member of the Maryland Senate, He's a Democrat who represents the stations -- the state's 15th District. He's up for election in November. His district is located in Montgomery County. If you have questions or comments for Senator Feldman, call us at 800-433-8850. Here is Rich in Rockville, Md. Rich, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:49:25

    RICHThanks, Kojo. And I had a question for Senator Feldman relating to the transportation referendum that's on the ballot this fall. And as you know, and I think everyone would concede when you talk about competitiveness for the State of Maryland, one of the problems has been a consistent lack of investment in transportation infrastructure over the years.

  • 12:49:43

    RICHAnd one of the problems has been a repeated diversion of funds out of our transportation trust fund to pay for other things not related to transportation. And some of that money has been paid back but some of the local funds never were. One of the things that voters will have a choice on this fall is on question one, which would set up a lockbox to prohibit that from happening. I'd just like to know from Senator Feldman, you know, are voters -- are you finding voters are aware that this is on the ballot? And do you have some thoughts on how people should come out on this very important ballot question?

  • 12:50:12

    FELDMANIt is very important. I think I mentioned earlier that, you know, that actually was my bill in the House to establish a constitutional lockbox to protect those dollars. And, by the way, both Democrat and Republican governors have run afoul of this idea of tapping those dollars for short-term budget, again, shortfalls. But it's very important.

  • 12:50:33

    FELDMANI don't think a lot of people are aware of it. There's some efforts underway now to basically establish some committees and some -- a campaign to raise awareness. So it's very important. It's going to be on the ballot November 4. It's going to afford some additional protection to those dollars that we're putting in, that $1 billion I mentioned for Montgomery County over the next six years. That's only good if we can ensure as best we can that those dollars are used for transportation purposes, not diverted for other purposes.

  • 12:51:03

    FELDMANSo it was my bill in the House. It was Senate President Mike Miller's bill in the Senate that will be. And I urge all the listeners to vote absolutely yes on that constitutional amendment.

  • 12:51:13

    NNAMDIThank you for your call, Rich.

  • 12:51:14

    SHERWOODHow overall is the Maryland economy? Virginia we've seen had cut a couple billion dollars out of their long-term budgets. Where is Maryland? District of Columbia is financially doing really well. How is Maryland?

  • 12:51:28

    FELDMANYeah, Tom, so I'm the newest member of the board of directors of COG, Metro Washington Council of Government.

  • 12:51:34

    SHERWOODOne of the worst names in the history of government, COG.

  • 12:51:35

    FELDMANYes. And so I'm the lone member from the general assembly of Maryland. We have a senator from Virginia, chaired by Phil Mendelson from right here in D.C. We had a board retreat a few weeks ago. And what we were told -- and it's a great question, at least going forward -- is our -- the days of us being dependent on federal contracting dollars, federal workforce and the post-sequestration era, we, in this region, have to diversify our economic portfolio . Which is why when I talk about cyber security, biotech and all the rest, it's really, really important.

  • 12:52:10

    FELDMANThis is not a Maryland issue. This is a D.C. regional issue. So on COG we listened to economists for two days talking about a lot of the growth in the country right now is from Texas, you know, up to North Dakota based on energy. In our region we always had about a point gap, you know, between our unemployment and the national unemployment. If the national employment was 6, 6.5, in D.C. -- in Virginia and Maryland, for example, it'd usually be 5, about a point, point-and-a-half spread.

  • 12:52:36

    FELDMANWell, those days are over. And if you look at the unemployment numbers right now, nationally it's about 6.1 and you know what, Virginia and Maryland are in that same boat. So I think the key here is post-sequestration, downsize of the federal workforce and federal dollars, we have all these federal agencies in Maryland like NIH and NST, we've got to diversify our economic portfolio, which is why I focus on tech.

  • 12:53:01

    NNAMDIYou mentioned Pepco earlier. If a planned merger with Exelon goes through we won't have Pepco to kick around much longer. But today we can keep talking about Pepco (laugh) because some county residents have sued Pepco objecting to cutting down of trees. Pepco says, it's doing this to manage its infrastructure and make the grid more reliable. It's a sensitive issue in Maryland and in Montgomery in particular. What do you make of what's going on?

  • 12:53:25

    FELDMANYeah, so this is -- and I've met with that community and actually I wrote a letter to Pepco on behalf of that community raising my concerns. The matter's actually in litigation. There's a hearing on October the 9th. And as the author of the original Reliability Act, which was designed to increase reliability for our region and for Montgomery, you know, they went -- they, being Pepco, went and got very aggressive with their tree-cutting.

  • 12:53:50

    FELDMANWhat this issue with this community pops up is maybe they've gotten too aggressive. We need to have some parameters. And I've told them, and that was in the letter that I wrote to the president of Pepco, is there's some ambiguity raised by this lawsuit that may require me as the author of the original bill to go back and clarify, if we get back there in January, assuming I get elected.

  • 12:54:10

    FELDMANThe other thing on the merger that you talk about, there's a tremendous opportunity here. We have a deep pocketed national entity in Exelon that really, really wants Pepco as an asset. It's a valuable asset so we have some leverage here as a state. And I hope we maximize that leverage to say that, yes, we will approve. And by the way, that merger has to be approved by not just Maryland but also D.C. and Delaware, that as part of that approval package, as a condition you are going to have to make sure that you invest reliability.

  • 12:54:41

    FELDMANAnd if you don't -- in fact, this was part of the filing of the merger -- if you don't there will be economic consequences. It will be taken out of your rate of return. And that's actually formally in their filing that they offer up as a bit of a incentive to the regulators in Maryland to approve the deal. So we have an opportunity here with the potential merger. But this is a...

  • 12:55:00

    NNAMDIHow about the Silver Spring Transit Center? Will you -- do you...

  • 12:55:04

    SHERWOODWe should take the word transit out of that. (laugh) Just say Silver Spring Center.

  • 12:55:08

    FELDMANWell, I know, you know, there was a lot about this...

  • 12:55:10

    NNAMDIWill it become a transit center this year, do you think?

  • 12:55:12

    FELDMANWell, you know, one of the things about Montgomery County, as we get larger -- we're about a million people -- issues that are important down county, like the Purple Line, Silver Spring Transit Center, are not that -- as big a deal in the up county. So in my district, District 15, we're much more interested in what are we going to do about building the Corridor city transit way, you know, that goes from Shady Grove up to -- eventually to Clarksburg.

  • 12:55:37

    FELDMANSo I don't hear a lot. There's not a lot...

  • 12:55:38

    NNAMDIYou're saying you -- are you saying you don't care about what happens with the Silver Spring...

  • 12:55:40

    FELDMANNo. I absolutely care about it. It's just not a big issue in my district. There's clearly been problems and there needs to be accountability...

  • 12:55:49

    SHERWOODWell, the money wasted on it started to be used in your district.

  • 12:55:50

    FELDMANAbsolutely. Well, that's true, that's true. And so...

  • 12:55:53

    NNAMDIHow about corrections? That's what Malcolm in Kensington, Md. wants to talk about. Malcolm, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. You only have about a minute, Malcolm.

  • 12:56:03

    MALCOLMAll right, gentlemen. I'll make it quick. I sell furniture to the university and college market. But because of the Maryland correctional enterprise's lock on that, I'm not permitted to sell furniture in this state. So I'm wondering if anyone's going to look at that and perhaps open that up for contracting, which would make it more competitive? Because right now MCE actually contracts out the furniture to vendors outside the state.

  • 12:56:31

    NNAMDIMaryland Correctional Enterprises?

  • 12:56:33

    MALCOLMYes, sir.

  • 12:56:34

    FELDMANThis is a new issue for me. I would tell you call my office. It's an interesting issue. I'm all for pro-competition. Nobody's brought this issue to my attention previously. But I'd love to talk to you about it a little more.

  • 12:56:46

    NNAMDIGot somebody who sells furniture on the air, a tax accountant in the studio. Tom and I can both use some help in those areas, but I guess we can't ask...

  • 12:56:53

    SHERWOODI don't need any, thank you very much. I don't need any furniture or tax advice.

  • 12:56:56

    NNAMDIAnd you don't need tax help at all?

  • 12:56:58

    SHERWOOD(laugh) No.

  • 12:56:59

    NNAMDIPepco's merger, any concerns about that?

  • 12:57:02

    FELDMANWell, I think that the key here is if we're going to approve it, let's make sure we do it on terms that are good for D.C., good for Maryland, good for Delaware. I mean particularly, Maryland and Montgomery County.

  • 12:57:12

    SHERWOODAre the regions working together?

  • 12:57:13

    FELDMANI think that there is some -- you know, these are separate silos, they...

  • 12:57:16

    SHERWOODThey could work better...

  • 12:57:17

    FELDMANYeah, I think they have to be careful. These are separate regulatory proceedings. And -- but I think there's clearly behind the scenes, you know, some -- coordination because this is a big, big deal. This is a big merger.

  • 12:57:30

    NNAMDIBrian Feldman is a member of the Maryland Senate. He's a Democrat who represents the state's 15th District. He's up for election in November. His district is located in Montgomery County. Senator Feldman, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:57:41

    FELDMANGreat to be here.

  • 12:57:42

    NNAMDITom, we did not get an opportunity to talk about the new poll that says that over 70 percent of Virginians don't mind the name Redskins. It occurs to me, of course, that had you conducted a poll in the south among whites in 1963 about whether African Americans should get the vote...

  • 12:57:58

    SHERWOODWell, that 70 -- I think the AP did a poll on the (unintelligible) 10 years ago (unintelligible) number nationwide. It's a big -- it's -- you know, we also didn't get to talk about something more positive which is the Nets clinching their position in the playoffs...

  • 12:58:11

    NNAMDI...possibility of a beltway World Series...

  • 12:58:13

    SHERWOOD...which is a much better thing to talk about than the team's name.

  • 12:58:16

    NNAMDITom Sherwood...

  • 12:58:16

    SHERWOODThe team's name is going to continue to fester...

  • 12:58:18

    SHERWOOD...he's a Nets fan, a reporter for NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

Topics + Tags

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Most Recent Shows

The Politics Hour – October 20, 2017

Friday, Oct 20 2017Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy discusses his efforts to address gang violence. Plus, D.C. Councilmember Trayon White joins us to recap the "grocery march" protesting food deserts east of the Anacostia River.