County Planning Director Rollin Stanley today issued a public apology for controversial remarks he made in a Bethesda Magazine article about a group of women who oppose many of his policies. He also said that he will be enrolling in “mediation/conflict resolution instruction.”
In a statement posted today on the planning department’s website, Stanley said:
“My recent comments reported in Bethesda Magazine in which I refer to members of the community as ‘rich white women’ were thoughtless and cast dispersions [sic] on the contribution made to the planning process by these individuals. Not only was it inaccurate to characterize these civic leaders as ‘spreading fear,’ ‘sowing discord’ and ‘stalking my appearances’, it grossly mischaracterized their important and valuable role in the land use process. I retract this statement and apologize for it. These individuals have participated in the land use discussions in this County for several decades and their contribution has and always will be welcome. I sincerely regret and apologize for the careless and dismissive tone conveyed in the article.”
Stanley also said in the statement that he plans to “enroll in mediation/conflict resolution instruction to assist me in moving the public discussion on the future of the County forward.”
The women—Pat Baptiste, Julie Davis, Jenny Sue Dunner and Meredith Wellington—have been frequent and vocal critics of Stanley’s plans to make Montgomery County more urban. His comments in the story led Wellington to call for his resignation and Planning Board Director Francoise Carrier to disavow the remarks and to promise “appropriate corrective action.”
Wellington said last week that an apology Stanley made in a letter he submitted to Bethesda Magazine shortly after the article appeared was “a day late and a dollar short” and that Stanley “should resign, effective immediately.”
Wellington said in an interview Wednesday afternoon that the four women met Monday with Stanley and Carrier and asked for a retraction. She said it was unclear to her after the meeting whether a retraction would be forthcoming, but that Stanley’s statement “is a very good development.” She said in an email Thursday morning that she reserves judgment on whether Stanley should remain in office. “My view is that he is making some changes, and that we now need to wait and see whether a dialogue is once more encouraged between citizens and planners,” she wrote.
Valerie Berton, communications manager for the planning department, would not comment on whether Stanley’s retraction and public apology constituted the “appropriate corrective action” that Carrier had promised.