Daily journal: Jobs and Bag fees

This morning began in Rockville at the GCAAR/Realtors legislative breakfast. I had a good discussion with an agent, Paul, who wants the county to do more on development issues. He remarked to me that while he had been concerned about my background in progressive politics, he had been impressed by various things I have said and he believes I “get it”. My reply was twofold: I grew up in a community where people would never take good jobs for granted, and I understand the value of economic development. And also, the county needs commercial development to pay for schools. What I didn’t say is that progressives are the great builders and innovators and I have always believed you need a strong economy to build a good society.

Montgomery County used to be able to rely on wealthy residents moving in to the county to pay the bills for our great schools and services, but that balance is shifting. Average county income has actually declined recently. We need a stronger commercial tax base or we are going to lose the government services that we cherish and the community that they foster.

A good piece of the rest of the day was devoted to political fundraising, which comes with the job.

Then I headed to the Wheaton Library (more on that tomorrow) and finally for a trip to the grocery store before heading home.

As I headed into the store I unloaded what I wondered might be one of my last collections of plastic bags, in the recycle bin. I’ve been thinking a lot about the bag fee lately as have many residents.

I was glad to vote for it but I am even more proud of that vote today.

For those who disagree I remind you that the county is spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years to clean up our waterways and we are determined to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

The five cent fee and the 1 million dollars or so it is expected to collect don’t come close to covering the damage that plastic bags cause to our environment.

But the fee is a great behavior changer. Already I find myself more compelled to bring my reusable’s with me, and proud of our new civic culture as I see residents walking about with reusable’s in hand.

We are making a difference, all of us, one bag at a time.