06.07.14 Duchy Trachtenberg’s unprincipled pursuit of power (aka “The Duchy Show”)
I got to know Duchy Trachtenberg well in 2006, when I worked on her first campaign for MoCo council. In that heady year of progressive success, Trachtenberg refused money from the development industry and helped drive a great campaign against Doug Duncan’s and Steve Silverman’s infamous End Gridlock slate that sought to pave the county.
In the ensuring four years, Trachtenberg fulfilled her promises, serving as a partner to Marc Elrich, the late Marilyn Praisner, and Phil Andrews to stop giveaways to developers. She also joined other members of the council — and County Executive Ike Leggett — to put a stop to the public employee unions’ feeding at the public trough in lean times.
There were some very disturbing signs about Trachtenberg during these years. Her utter glee at going after the unions was a bit disturbing, as was her tendency to rub her hands together and grin while plotting someone else’s downfall. There was also the “All Duchy All the Time” show as some of us called it. Trachtenberg loved to hold court, spouting off about herself and skewering her enemies for hours at a time, whether or not her captive audience was interested.
Trachtenberg got trounced in 2010. The unions had deserted her (as they have now deserted almost all the incumbents). Trachtenberg’s hubris convinced her that she didn’t need to campaign seriously. No one loved her. No one was motivated to put any shoe leather into her non-campaign.
Fast forward to 2014. Like too many other politicians, Trachtenberg can’t stand being out of the limelight. And her lust for power has eclipsed whatever principles she may have ever had. So, she is now welcoming gobs of cash from developers. And she has gone around to the unions one by one to persuade them that she’ll never ask them to sacrifice a thing again. In this process, she has turned herself into the anti-Elrich, the anti-Andrews. Elrich has maintained good relations with the unions, even while refusing to apologize for the tough fiscal choices that had to be made in the lean years. He — and Andrews — still hold that the development industry’s lust for profit is counter to the public interest. (Though, Elrich — again — still maintains an open communications channel to the industry.)
Trachtenberg has sold her soul to the extent that the Washington Post reports her endorsers are attacking Roger Berliner (her opponent for MoCo council D1), from both the pro- and anti-environmentalist sides. I’m no big fan of Berliner, but he can’t both be an environmental extremist AND a corporate pave-it-all shill. It doesn’t matter what side of which debate you’re on though. As long as you can offer cash or publicity to Duchy Trachtenberg, she’s happy to work for you (or pretend to, while she’s really only serving herself).
©2014 Keith Berner