Planning Board Candidate Faces Criticism for Years-Old Blog Posts Poking Fun at Bethesda
Seventh State blog republishes Dan Reed's tongue-in-cheek writing comparing Bethesda, Silver Spring
Screenshot via Montgomery County Council live video
An applicant for the Montgomery County Planning Board is taking heat for some years-old blog posts he wrote ribbing Bethesda’s privileged and elite.
The Seventh State, a political blog, republished the posts authored by Silver Spring resident Dan Reed, who is scheduled to interview for the board post Thursday. In one of the online pieces, Reed poked fun at a Bethesda Magazine article about the difficulties of downtown parking.
“Alas, Bethesda Magazine must feel some kind of inferiority complex about their town’s parking garages, where each weekend so many midlife-crisis Mercedes coupes and tricked-out swagger wagons are trapped that the streets ring with the screams of Montgomery County’s frustrated suburban elite,” he wrote in 2011 on his blog, Just Up the Pike. “If only they knew that parking was easier in Silver Spring!”
In the same piece, he wrote many Bethesda residents seem oblivious to Silver Spring except as a future location of the light-rail Purple Line and as “an exporter of black kids.”
Reed, a transportation planner, said his blog posts date back to his college days. According to his online resume, Reed graduated from the University of Maryland in 2009 and went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania.
Reed said he got into blogging and community advocacy 11 years ago in part to call attention to the racial inequality that exists in Montgomery County. While the pieces highlighted by Seventh State were intended as tongue-in-cheek social commentary, Reed said he’s matured since then and wouldn’t express himself the same way now.
“I’m sorry that people are offended by it, but I can’t take back the things that I’ve said. … Everybody has put their foot in their mouth at some point in their lives. Some of us have done it online,” said Reed, who still operates the blog.
But Seventh State blogger David Lublin argued Reed’s posts expose animosity toward the Bethesda community.
“[A]s a planning board member, Dan will make major decisions that will have an influence on the future of all Montgomery County. The County’s future should not be entrusted to someone with such blatant animosity towards a major portion of the community he will supposedly serve,” Lublin wrote in the Wednesday post.
Some Bethesda residents also took exception to Reed’s barbed remarks. In a local Facebook forum, one person said Reed seemed to have a “biased and negative view” of Bethesda, while another person said his writings demonstrated “disdain” for the community.
Reed said he has no ax to grind with Bethesda or its residents and even worked downtown at Gifford’s Ice Cream while he was in college.
“I think it’s a great part of this county,” he said.
Reed said he and Lublin, an American University professor and former Town of Chevy Chase mayor, know each other and have disagreed with each other over certain issues, such as the Purple Line project, which is proposed to extend from Bethesda to New Carrollton.
In an email, Lublin noted that Reed posted some of his remarks while working as a legislative aide for County Council member George Leventhal and after completing his undergraduate degree.
“Of course, we all evolve and change. By acknowledging that he would not write them today, Dan shows that he realizes they were not appropriate,” Lublin wrote in an email.
Leventhal suggested this Bethesda Beat story should carry the headline, “Snarky Blogger Complains About Snarky Blogger.”
The council member said he understands why some Bethesda residents are offended, but argued that Reed has simply spoken out of his experience as a young, black man in Montgomery County.
“Sometimes that means describing community tension,” Leventhal said. “Sometimes that offends people. … I’m very confident that Dan is committed to the health and success of every part of Montgomery County.”
Leventhal said he doesn’t think the Seventh State post will hurt Reed’s chances of appointment to the board.
Reed is one of four finalists for the planning board position. The other applicants are Peter Myro Khin of Silver Spring, Tina Patterson of Germantown and Bruce Romer of Bethesda.