TPSS Co-op: A Beacon of Lies

The Takoma Park Silver Spring Coop is a beacon of lies. There, I said it.

It may seem like sacrilege to denigrate the TPSS Co-op, a bastion of liberal egalitarian values, organic produce, crunchy bulk granola, and 7 dollar milk. If you swallowed everything they told you, you would think they made money from the poplar trees nearby, because they are not interested in money, right? Is that why you shop there? Because it makes you feel good and fuzzy inside?

But behind these beautiful and feathery visions of a socialist paradise is a very for-profit business that is sticking it not only to taxpayers, but to Takoma Park.

I’ll first start with their profits. Yes, contrary to what you may think, profits are a big thing, even in a perceived socialist paradise.

In 2015, the TPSS Co-op had annual sales of approximately $8.1 million dollars. The cost of the groceries and other products they sold were about $5.4 million dollars. This means that the TPSS Co-op is marking up their items on average by about 33%. The average supermarket markup is approximately 12%. You still want that $6 bag of shredded cheddar cheese?

According to the 2015 annual report, one of the Co-op’s principles includes “honesty” and “openness.

In the interest of “honesty” and “openness,” shouldn’t the TPSS Co-op put a notice on all their items about how much they are marking up their products? Or would that defeat the image they are trying to portray as some 1960’s free love collective?

To be sure, the TPSS Co-op donates money when customers bring their own bags. 5 cents each bag to be exact. From 2014-2015, the TPSS Co-op donated a whopping $1,172.10 to charity. We should all applaud that a Co-op, which in 2015 had over $2 million in available cash, searched deep in their heart to donate about $1,100 dollars.

The TPSS Co-op’s true colors emerged during their “negotiations” with the Neighborhood Development Council. During those “negotiations,” they requested an unloading area “to accommodate 80-foot trucks, considerably larger than the 65-foot 18 wheelers” they currently use, and that the unloading area be retained for their exclusive use.

The TPSS Co-op also demanded the “exclusion of a wide array of other businesses,” such as wine shops, educational facilities, and restaurants within fifty feet of their store.

And, as if that were not enough, the TPSS Co-op demanded not only that NDC pay for many of the Co-op’s building expansion expenses, but also demanded a provision that would allow it to walk away from the lease if the expansion was not generating satisfactory profits — according to the TPSS Co-op.

Say what?

This certainly didn’t sound like a negotiation at all. This sounded like something an entitled millennial will tell you after graduating with a Women’s Studies Degree.

Let’s not forget the 7th TPSS Co-op principle: “Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.”

I don’t know what planet the TPSS Co-op is living on, but they’ve been sticking it to the people of Takoma Park for many years now, and their true colors were revealed during their negotiations with NDC. Their interest in “equality” and “sustainability” exists only on paper.

And to make things worse, they want the government and citizens high off kombucha fumes to protect them by appealing to a false sense of “peace and love, man!”

The TPSS Co-op has to go.


Takoma Park Will Include “Racial Equity Impact Statements” On All Council Agenda Items. Uhhhh. What?

When I say Takoma Park City Council, chances are you either don’t know who any of them are, or are wondering what planet they live on for them to not only raise property taxes as high as they did in 2016, but also to propose that an extra year gets tacked on to their two-year terms. The council was genuinely “surprised” (particularly Mayor Kate Stewart and the City Manager) that constituents pushed back so hard on the tax rate last year, so instead of raising property taxes this year, they’ll increase stormwater fees from $55 to $92. I guess I should be saying thank you, right?

And, as for the proposal for an extra year to their term, one of the learned City Council members alleged that their existing two-year term is essentially a one-year term to begin with.  Okay. I see where common-core math has taken us.

Anyway, the Takoma Park City Council, in an attempt to self-congratulate itself further, will now prioritize “Racial Equity Impact Statements” on all council agenda items. According to the City Council’s statement:

We examined how racial inequity today is not just overtly racist talk or action but rather racial inequities have come to be ingrained and institutionalized in our policies and practices, even those we believe to be race neutral. And therefore, we must disrupt and unpack seemingly neutral polices and practices to see if they are contributing to inequity.

Of course, we will see whether these statements will serve merely to virtue signal, which would obviate the requirement to point to any specific proof or logical facts. If the City Council’s generalized statement about how “racial inequities have come to be ingrained and institutionalized in our policies and practices,” is any sign of things to come, then I have no hope at all that these statements will do anything other than to masturbate the egos of the feckless City Council.

But even more critically, Takoma Park City Council also requires financial impact statements — but for some inexplicable reason, those statements only deal with the effect on city programs, as opposed to the effect of those living in Takoma Park.

That seems like a rather large oversight in a democracy. But in a totalitarian tundra? Well, not so much.

What does this mean practically? It means that the Takoma Park City Council has institutionalized a severe disconnect between the council’s agenda, and the taxpayers and residents it supposedly serves.

That is why the City Council, without even blinking, can raise property taxes as high it did (City Council: ahh! we need more money! so let’s raise taxes, right!), and then with a straight face, wonder why so many citizens were upset. Again, where is the City Council learning its economic lessons from, Venezuela?

Perhaps the City Council should get off it’s Ivory Tower high horse, and instead of focusing on drafting what will end up being useless and self-congratulatory statements about racial equity, it should focus on ensuring that its policies are financially responsible and make sense. That will serve racial equity better than any hackneyed statement the City Council will come up with.



5 Tips On How To Talk Politics in Takoma Park

For those of you who don’t live in Takoma Park, it’s important — critical in fact — to know how to talk politics when you come to the Tundra. There are special rules, particularly in this day and age of Donald Trump, and navigating them can be tough if you don’t know how to proceed. Fortunately, I am here to help with these 5 tips.

1.  When you are not sure what to say, you should always, without exception, start with, “I can’t believe Donald Trump is our president,” and when you say this, make sure to shake your head vigorously. This will immediately signal to the person you are talking to, and anyone else who is listening, that you understand. And don’t worry about the explaining part, because what you’re really doing is signaling, which is the same thing as explaining in the Tundra.

2.  When anyone brings up the topic of immigration, make sure you are the first one to say, “We are a nation of immigrants,” so that you will sound the most reasoned, enlightened, and educated in the room. If you want even more praise in the eyes of those at Spring Mill or Republic, say something like, “Even our money says E Plurbus Unum, which supports open border policies that are anti-racist and anti-islamaphobic.” If you’re lucky, someone might put you in their Instagram post with the #woke hashtag. 

3.  If you want to get to know someone, and you’re not sure what to say, ask them, “Are you part of the Takoma Park Mobilization?” They will invariably say yes, even if they only went to the first meeting, receive group emails, or only know a friend of a friend who is actually part of it. You will then follow up by saying, “After this election, I just don’t know what to do. I want to #resist the best way I can.” Make sure you shake your head vigorously when you say this. You will signal that you understand the pain that the entire United States is going through except for those deplorable rednecks that are racist anyway. 

4.  Be especially careful if someone makes a joke, particularly a joke by a white male, unless you hear the word Donald Trump or Republican in it. It could be a trap because the joke might be racist, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQx, anti-feminist, or a myriad of other dangerous things that perpetuate white privilege and male hegemony. If you do not hear the words Donald Trump or Republican, make sure you speak up and immediately say, “This joke sounds extremely racist to me and I’m offended by your words.” Even if the joke wasn’t racist, and everyone is laughing, the fact that you were offended signals to everyone that you understand the struggle, and that you are doing your part to #resist. People in the Tundra look up to that, and will see you as a leader.

5.  If you have a contrary idea that is not more liberal than the idea being challenged (such as $15 dollar minimum wage? It should be 40% of a business’s profits!), then it’s best not to bring it up in the Tundra. Some of the topics you should avoid at all costs are those supporting:

  • Pro-life positions;
  • Second Amendment;
  • Borders;
  • “American” Culture;
  • The Flag;
  • Religion (unless it’s Islam)

If you really have to talk about these things, go into your car and whisper to yourself, or go to Bethesda. 

10 signs that you might be part of the Takoma Park Tundra

Not sure if you are part of the Takoma Park Tundra? Not to fear. I will help you out. If you answer yes to any of the following, then you are part of the Takoma Park Tundra! Congratulations!

1.  You drive a Prius, which has at least two political stickers on the bumper or window, and you sideeye anyone with a SUV.

2.  When you realized Donald Trump would win the presidency, you cried, and you promised yourself, as well as announcing on Facebook, that you would #resist. 

3.  You have one or more of the following posters on your front lawn: Black Lives Matter, Hate Has No Home Here, Everyone is Welcome Here, or something related to the rights of workers, including something about economic justice. 

4.  You preach #diversity, but your neighbors are white, your friends are white, you go to parties where everyone is white, you live far from Maple Avenue and New Hampshire Avenue, and you send your kids to either the Lowell or Barrie Schools. 

5.  You believe that CNN, NPR, the Washington Post, and The New York Times, are non-partisan sources of information. You also love Rachel Maddow. 

6.  You have always wanted to visit Cuba, because deep inside you know socialism could work if they just do “__________” the next time around. 

7.  You pay at least $10,000 or more in property taxes. 

8.  You believe #resisting means taking your children to various marches in DC with posters you made containing witty messages you found on google, and then taking a picture of your child or children with said poster raised, and then posting that on various social media platforms.

9.  You believe that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist. In fact, anyone who isn’t a liberal democrat is a racist, a fascist, and an islamaphobe. 

10.  You are easily offended, and believe that words that are hateful, which essentially includes anything that conservatives say, should be legally curtailed.