TAKOMA PARK, MD – The world stood still this week as details continued to emerge about the concerns of a whistleblower whose reports on President Trump’s conversations with the Ukrainian president touched off an official impeachment inquiry.
Much of the discussion has centered on the identity of the whistleblower. While the President remains clueless about members of his so-called loyal cabinet, Takoma Park residents are fairly certain it’s someone who lives in their town.
“It’s definitely someone from Takoma Park,” stated Eugene Forester. “This town is full of people who make anonymous complaints on neighbors. Wait…is that Karen getting ready to do some work on her house? I need to check in on this…”
That Takoma Park has more than its fair share of whistleblowers is unsurprising—after all, it holds the record for most crossing guards per intersection. But whistleblowing is deeply engrained in the city’s history, dating back to its incorporation in the 1880’s. When founder Benjamin Gilbert’s papers were donated to the history department at Washington Adventist University, professors found boxes of telegrams sent anonymously to Takoma Park City Hall calling out neighbors for everything from playing their phonographs too loudly at night to little boys breaking windows while playing stick ball.
Takoma Park’s most famous whistleblower, known as Deepcock, nicknamed after the town’s iconic rooster, helped expose Windowgate in the 1970’s, a secret operation to replace historic wood windows with vinyl replacements. Deepcock would signal for a meeting with his press contacts by putting a human baby in the pouch of a kangaroo statue in his front yard whenever he had info to share. They would all meet in the parking lot of the co-op, and info provided by Deepcock eventually led to the resignation and arrest of the City Manager.
Today, residents regularly make anonymous complaints to authorities about their neighbors breaking all kinds of regulations, such as trimming trees without performing an impact study, posting signs in their front yard, or even putting sugary snacks in their kids’ school lunches.
“We try to avoid controversial interactions as much as possible,” stated Helen McCarthy, whose Christmas lights are still hanging on her house in September. “That is why we prefer to be passive aggressive. Otherwise, my neighbor’s dog would still be barking and I’d have to put my house on the market. There’s nothing more neighborly than making an anonymous complaint, and then acting like it wasn’t me.”
In one instance, a resident contacted the EPA on a neighbor who still had an incandescent light bulb installed in their garage. Six police officers showed up to investigate, and found an entire storage facility of gas leaf blowers.
“This is the reason we have our own police department,” stated the Mayor. “The county police basically stopped responding to all of our whistleblowing. The only response was to create our own city police force with a special anonymous complaint task force.”
It might not suit everyone, but the system seems to work well for Takoma Park. The theory goes, if residents fear whistleblowers, it will inherently create a self-regulatory society where everyone follows the law. This is why Takoma Park enjoys a perfect law-abiding populace, while still maintaining strong relationships with neighbors.
“Takoma Park is great because the people are great,” stated John Ashton, wearing a co-exist shirt. “They are super trustworthy and honest – but I’ve got my eye on them. At any moment, they could be doing something illegal, like parking an extra minute beyond the 1 hour limit. Not on my watch.”