Any illusion of unity in the Montgomery County legislative delegation has been shattered by a letter drafted by Sen. Brian E. Frosh, reported somewhat breathlessly by the Maryland Politics Watch blog, calling on Gov. Martin O'Malley to order a full study of transit alternatives to the $4.6 billion proposal to widen Interstate 270.
Blogger Adam Pagnucco is correct in noting that money is difficult to transfer dollar for dollar between highways and transit projects, but he's off base when he assumes Frosh's proposal arises from the senator's ignorance of transportation finance. As anyone who has covered the General Assembly knows, Frosh is one of the smartest legislators in Annapolis and a senator whose expertise is not confined to the matters before his committee.
Pagnucco also shows a hint of naivete when he writes: "Why would we be daft enough to even hint to the state that we don't want a big transportation project?"
Frosh's letter makes it crystal clear that he does not want to be included in Pagnucco's "we." The senator, perhaps the most dedicated and knowledgeable environmentalist in the General Assembly, is about as likely to join a team promoting a sprawl-inducing road project as he is to sponsor a repeal of the ban on dumping phosphates in the bay.
He's hardly daft. He's a south-county lawmaker who feels secure in the knowledge that his constituents have little interest in a huge, environmentally questionable north county project. Look for his letter to pick up a respectable number of signatures from fellow lawmakers in the Bethesda-Silver Spring-Takoma Park areas of the county.
And by the way, those of us in the rest of the state aren't as dumb as we look to folks from Montgomery. The county's internal division is well-known to political observers in Baltimore and Annapolis. Don't bother to hide your dirty knickers. We've already had a peek.