A communication breakdown over the Silver Spring Transit Center led to harsh words for Montgomery County officials by County Council members Wednesday.
Of particular concern to council members was a letter the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority sent to the executive branch on April 12, stating the transit agency would not operate and maintain the transit center. (See the attached PDF for the full text of the letter.)
Council members said they did not know of the letter before it was reported in The Washington Post on April 25. They demanded to know why the executive branch had not immediately shared the letter with the council.
The executive branch intended to share the letter with the council, but wanted to first sort out the letter's possible meaning and implications, said Tim Firestine, the county's chief administrative officer.
That was the wrong decision, council members said.
"As soon as the executive branch received the letter from WMATA, it should have been shared with the council, even if its implications were not fully known, even if there was some degree of nuance and context that the executive wanted to provide," Councilman George Leventhal said.
"This is the matter of the greatest public interest right now in the county so anything material to this matter needs to be shared right away," said Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park.
The council had requested that County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) appear before them to explain the status of the much-delayed $120 million transit hub, but had to settle for Firestine and David Dise, director of the county's Department of General Services.
The invitation stands for Leggett to meet with the council, either in an open or closed session, Council President Nancy Navarro said.
"We invited the county executive because we are all accountable to the voters, and we believe this should be a conversation between the elected body and the elected official," said Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring. "It is disappointing that the executive is not here today because of a conflict, but we would have been happy to accommodate his schedule."
Read more from Wednesday's council session:
County: Metro Can't Back Out of Silver Spring Transit Center