After years of controversy, political grandstanding and legal challenges, that gaping hole in Silver Spring's vibrant street scene is finally being filled. This week, the officially opens its doors on Sept. 15 with opening act Mary J. Blige.
The rest of the month is filled with an impressive lineup of artists as diverse as John Legend, Blondie, Primus, Cheap Trick and — my favorite — the Psychedelic Furs.
I’m always somewhat amused, at "civic milestone moments" like this, to see which local politicians show up. Specifically, it's amusing to see how many show up for a "photo-op" in front of a project they spent years opposing. Funnier still when you see that photo in their next campaign flier.
Councilmember Marc Elrich is one I’ll look out for this week. He used any legal means possible — and even some that may not have been (if you remember his signing an affidavit on behalf of the Fillmore’s chief rival, the developer of the 9:30 Club, an apparent violation of county ethics laws). So, will Mr. Elrich be on hand for opening night? Was he invited? Should he have been?
In fairness to Marc, he has been pretty philosophical about this. He has said, basically, "Look, I put up a good fight and lost, so let's move on and let bygones be bygones." Fair enough, but I wonder if the ownership group of the Fillmore, who had to pay for all the extra delay costs — which sometimes run into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on projects like this — are taking it as well.
It happens all the time. Current Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio was recently criticized, and rightly so, by her challenger, Rockville Councilmember Piotr Gajewski, for showing up at the ribbon cutting for the new Choice Hotel headquarters. In this economy, any city would have killed for this "A-list" employer, but Ms. Marcuccio voted against it, for reasons hard to fathom. Should she be held accountable, or forgiven?
It’s a good question. If you own a business that locates or expands here, exactly what moral obligation do you have to invite every local politician to the ground-breaking? In my view, none at all, though others may disagree.
It seems more fair to recognize those who stood up to be counted when the time came, and not dilute praise and recognition for the deserving by spreading it out to those who did nothing to earn it. What do you think?
As for the Fillmore, let’s take a moment to thank County Executive Isiah Leggett, his economic team, and the council members and legislators who worked hard to bring us to this day. Yes, they earned it, but not nearly as much as the Lee Development Group, which deserves a medal for patience on this one. Well done. See you at the Fillmore!