April 19, 2014
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Wellington Calls on Stanley to Resign

Activist says planning director's apology for controversial comments is "a day late and a dollar short."

Update: 3 p.m., Friday

After initially agreeing to be interviewed Friday afternoon, Planning Board Chairwoman Françoise Carrier changed her mind and emailed Bethesda Magazine the following statement about Planning Director Rollin Stanley’s status: “It’s a personnel matter. The Planning Board does not release that information publicly.”

 

11:30 a.m., Friday

Montgomery County Planning Director Rollin Stanley has apologized for controversial comments he made in a recent Bethesda Magazine story about a group of women who oppose many of his development policies. But one local activist said Friday that the apology was “a day late and a dollar short” and that Stanley “should resign effective immediately.”

In “The Future Is Looking Up” by Eugene L. Meyer, Stanley called dissenters “rich, white women…spreading fear.” He also said opponents stalk his appearances and call themselves “the coven.”

The March/April issue features Stanley on the cover and includes three stories that describe plans, strongly advocated by Stanley, to make the county more urban through the development of high-rise communities.

Stanley’s comments evoked a strong reaction from four of his most vocal opponents—Pat Baptiste, Julie Davis, Jenny Sue Dunner and Meredith Wellington—as well as harsh words from the planning board, disbelief among many Montgomery County officials, and questions about whether he can survive the tumult.

In response to the controversy, Stanley sent a letter to Bethesda Magazine Wednesday: “It was not my intention to denigrate the opinions of any citizen or discourage anyone from participating in the debate over the future of Montgomery County,” he wrote.

Wellington wrote an email to Bethesda Magazine Friday, saying Stanley’s response so far has been inadequate. “It has been over 10 days since I first learned of Mr. Stanley’s disparaging, false statements about myself and other ‘dissenters,’” she wrote. “… Since then, I have received one direct communication from Mr. Stanley.  In a handwritten note Mr. Stanley wrote:  ‘Meredith, when I suggested to Gene [Meyer] that he contact you for the Bethesda Mag article, I did not expect he would go in the direction he did.  I hope it did not cause you much concern or attention.’ ”

Wellington wrote that Stanley’s letter “is a day late and a dollar short. The time has passed for him to act to show his respect and open mindedness towards the public. In my opinion, in making those statements to Bethesda Magazine, and then failing to take the proper actions to remedy his outrageous behavior, Mr. Stanley has shown himself to be unfit for the position he holds as Director of Planning, and he should resign effective immediately.”

Stanley, who is visiting his native Canada, could not be reached for comment.

In his letter to Bethesda Magazine, Stanley wrote that “I regret any pain or embarrassment my words may have caused. …Part of what has made Montgomery County great is its long tradition of active engagement by highly dedicated and serious advocates on a wide range of issues, including land use and real estate development. In view of this especially, I apologize for coming across as dismissive of critics of the Planning Department. I do believe that open public discourse is essential both to good decisions and to democratic accountability. I intend to make every effort to be inclusive and welcoming of different perspectives as we work together to strengthen our community.”

Earlier this week, Wellington, Baptiste, Davis and Dunner wrote to Planning Board Chairwoman Françoise Carrier asking the board to “publicly disavow” Stanley’s remarks.

"Through these remarks, Mr. Stanley has impugned our integrity, attacked our credibility, and damaged our personal and professional reputations," they wrote.

At the start of a Planning Board meeting Thursday, Carrier strongly criticized Stanley and promised “appropriate corrective action.”

Carrier said: “The statements attributed to Mr. Stanley [in the Bethesda Magazine story] regarding certain members of the community, and the sentiments expressed, in no way reflect the views of this Board or this agency. This agency has a responsibility to the public, to invite public participation in the planning process, to encourage public discourse, to solicit the views of all residents of the county, from all backgrounds, and to remain respectful to those individuals and organizations regardless of the opinions they hold. Unfortunately, Mr. Stanley’s comments did not portray these values. …While we are grateful to Mr. Stanley for the work he has done on behalf of the Agency and for this county to date, we did not sanction his interview…, nor do we condone the views he expressed.”

It is unclear what the “appropriate corrective action” will be. Carrier could not be reached Friday morning for comment.

In an interview Thursday night, County Council Member Nancy Floreen said she has asked Carrier “to deal with this aggressively,” although she wouldn’t say whether Stanley should be fired. “I find this to be an intolerable situation,” Floreen said. “Our residents are passionate and you have to respect them for it.”

Wellington, Baptiste, Davis and Dunner also sent a letter to Bethesda Magazine in which they said they “are appalled that Mr. Stanley, the County’s senior planner, would intentionally engage in a smear campaign against us because we have exercised our rights as County residents to question current efforts to change the face of suburban Montgomery County.”

The letter continues: “By dismissing us as ‘rich white women’ (a blatantly racial and sexist slur) who ‘spread fear’ and ‘sow discord,’ and by claiming that we describe ourselves as members of a ‘coven’ and thus by implication are not to be taken seriously by local elected and appointed planning officials, Mr. Stanley has impugned our integrity, attacked our credibility, and damaged our personal and professional reputations.”

Old to new | New to old
Mar 12, 2012 08:41 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

He shouldn't have to apologize. He is right. Rollin Stanley is the best thing to happen to Montgomery County in a long time. Also, I am baffled by the women claiming that "rich white women" is a "racial...slur." You must be kidding me! Privileged women claiming to be pigeonholed by negative stereotypes? Ha!

Mar 12, 2012 02:40 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

How is "rich white women" a slur? Those aren't mean things to say, unless you think being wealthy, Caucasian, or female are bad things.

And no one's arguing that they're inaccurate.

Mar 13, 2012 12:00 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Boy the truth must hurt.

Mar 13, 2012 09:37 am
 Posted by  JC @ RI Ave

The truth is this...

If the opposite had been said -- "poor black women" -- there would have been outrage about that remark. Even if that had been an accurate factual description of the people making comments that would not have been okay in that instance.

No one's opinion should be linked to their race or sex. To do so (in ANY case) is ignorant and dismissive.

Mar 16, 2012 11:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Go Stanley Go!! His quoted language in the article was over the top, as Stanley himself would admit. I sincerely hope his apology and the strong condemnation of the comment by Carrier and Floreen put this to rest. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Montgomery County is extremely lucky to have Rollin Stanley working for us.

Language aside, on the substantive issues re development Stanley is right and Baptiste, Davis, Dunner, and Wellington are flat wrong. The future is coming. Montgomery County cannot hide from it.

Mar 19, 2012 06:54 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Pat Baptiste, Julie Davis, Jenny Sue Dunner and Meredith Wellington are classic NIMBY’s. The Montgomery County system allows them to create fear and lie about development with no recourse. The Coven is real and all they have to say it is not and that is the truth. The fact that they are making so much out of a in artful but truthful comment just goes to show you what “reactionaries” they are and what they will do (trying to get Stanley fired) to get their way. If you look at the situation objectively you see what kind of ladies they are. Instead of being professional and laughing off the comment they want BLOOD!!! These are the same folks that killed the Clarksburg Town Center for a hundred years in the name of “the people have spoken.” Congratulations, maybe you can set the Planning Directors position back to the good old days to

Mar 21, 2012 08:50 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Well it is definitely a negative remark if he's implying that these women due to their wealth are out of touch with the needs of the general Montgomery County population.

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