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by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm 0

District 16 House of Delegates candidate Marc Korman (file photo) Republican District 16 House of Delegates candidate Rose Li speaks to supporters at a fundraiser in September Councilmember Roger Berliner (file photo)
Delegate Susan Lee Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer with Republican challenger Robert Dyer (far right) at a candidates forum in May in Chevy Chase (file photo) District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly (file photo)

Before you head to the polls Thursday (the last day of early voting) or on Tuesday, please don’t forget to check out our “Why You Should Vote For Me” series featuring a number of candidates for local county and state seats.

BethesdaNow.com asked all of the candidates a basic question: Why should voters vote for you?

Here are their responses, in 750 words or less:

County Council At-Large

Nancy Floreen (D)
George Leventhal (D)
Hans Riemer (D)
Tim Willard (Green)

Also running: Robert Dyer (R)Marc Elrich (D), Chris Fiotes (R), Adol Owen-Williams (R) and Shelly Skolnick (R).

County Council District 1

Roger Berliner (D)

Also running: Jim Kirkland (R)

House of Delegates District 16 

Marc Korman (D)
Rose Li (R)

Also running: John Andrews (R), Lynda del Castillo (R), Bill Frick (D) and Ariana Kelly (D)

State Senate District 16

Susan Lee (D)

Also running: Meyer Marks (R)

State Senate District 18

Rich Madaleno (D)

by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm 0

Councilmember Hans Riemer (file photo)A pair of county councilmembers are calling for a complete overhaul of the way the county decides which child care providers get much sought after space in county schools.

Friction between child care providers and the county’s Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) division has been bubbling for more than two years.

The CUPF, with oversight from its governing board (known as the Interagency Coordinating Board, or ICB, ) acts essentially as a leasing agent for county school facilities, renting out space for before and after school child care as well as gyms, auditoriums and playing fields for recreation, religious groups and other events.

After a controversial rebidding process for child care providers led to two lawsuits and many complaints about undisclosed conflicts of interest, unfair standards and school principals with too much sway, Montgomery County proposed a new set of regulations last month.

Many child care providers told the County Council last week that the new regulations were basically more of the same.

On Thursday, Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Nancy Navarro sent a memo to their colleagues asking them to reject the proposed regulations and help create “a dedicated Child Care office and give it a range of responsibilities, from developing a plan to increase access to care in the county, to managing public space needs, to supporting providers.”

“We believe that it is time for an overhaul of this process so that it aligns with our primary policy goal: bringing our communities excellent quality, accessible and affordable child care and after school programs,” Navarro and Riemer wrote. “The responsibility for developing these regulations and managing the selection process should be given to an organization in County government that is mission driven to promote access to quality, affordable care. The revenue that we generate from child care providers in public space should also be used to strengthen the county’s child care services.”

The memo came out hours before the Council’s Health and Human Services and Education Committees are set to meet with county officials in charge of drafting the new regulations.

That meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on County Cable Montgomery.

by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 11:40 am 0

Union Jack's of BethesdaThere are a number of Halloween events around town this weekend for those who have outgrown neighborhood trick-or-treating (and even for those who haven’t):

Bethesda Row celebrates Halloween a night early –  About 40 businesses and restaurants in one of downtown Bethesda’s most popular areas will offer trick-or-treating on Halloween eve.

From 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday, the stores will offer deals, live entertainment and trick-or-treating for the kids. There will also be a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the Paper Source.

Nightmare on St. Elmo Street – Union Jack’s (4915 St Elmo Ave.) gets the prize for best event name, plus the Woodmont Triangle bar will be offering specials and costume prizes on both Thursday and Friday nights.

A Captain Jack Sparrow-style Halloween dance party – Dance Bethesda (8227 Woodmont Ave.) is looking for people willing to walk the plank at its pirate-themed session of dance lessons and performances starting at 8 p.m. on Friday. The event costs $15 per person and tickets should be purchased in advance.

Monster Bash at the Doubletree – A few doors down from Dance Bethesda, the DoubleTree Bethesda (8120 Wisconsin Ave.) will put on its “Monster Bash,” event. For $10, guests get a live DJ and dance floor, cash bars, a costume contest and two movie theaters showing horror films. The event starts at 9 p.m.

Costume contest at 4935 – Music and a costume contest are on the agenda at 4935 Bar & Kitchen (4935 Cordell Ave.). Entry is free all night. Festivities start at 10 p.m. and will include a costume contest with prizes for the funniest, sexiest and most original costumes.

Fireball and games at Caddies – Caddies on Cordell (4922 Cordell Ave.) will feature Halloween-inspired Fireball cocktails, $2 Pumpkin Spice shooters, a costume contest, prizes and other giveaways from 4 p.m. to close on Friday.

by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 10:25 am 0

Talbert's beer and wine store in Westbard, Flickr photo by ehpien

What is a charrette?

It’s the question often overheard from residents attending Planning Department events, where the concept has become a staple of the department’s outreach efforts.

Starting Monday, Nov. 10, planners will offer a series of charrettes aimed at figuring out what the Westbard area of Bethesda should look like over the next 25-30 years.

Residents, business owners and property owners are invited to drop in to a morning walking tour, stop by an open house or attend an evening session at Walt Whitman High School.

The definition of charrette is “a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions together.”

With residents already wary of new residential development that might come from new property owner Equity One, that probably won’t happen over the course of one week. But planners are hoping to get as much input as possible before proceeding with their sector plan rewrite:

The PlanWestbard Community Charrette will take place during the week of November 10; a full schedule of meetings is posted online at www.montgomeryplanning.org/planwestbard. Staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide insight into the Sector Plan process from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Westwood II (5110 Ridgefield Rd, Bethesda, MD). Evening presentations will be held during the week at the Walt Whitman High School cafeteria (7100 Whittier Blvd, Bethesda, MD) from 6 – 9 p.m. The final presentation of the completed Concept Plan will be held at Westland Middle School (5511 Massachusetts Ave., Bethesda, MD) from 7 – 9 p.m.

Charrette Schedule At A Glance:
Monday, November 10 – Walking Tours will be conducted in the community at 10 a.m. and noon starting at Westwood II.  Charrette Open House hours will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Westwood II. Attend the PlanWestbard Visioning Session at Walt Whitman High School starting at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, November 11 – Observance of Veterans Day (no charrette activities)

Wednesday, November 12 – A “Sunrise Series” meeting will be held for business owners at 7 a.m. at Westwood II.  Charrette Open House hours will follow until 5 p.m. at Westwood II. The Framework Concept will be presented at Walt Whitman High School from 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, November 13 - A “Sunrise Series” meeting will be held for all stakeholders at 7 a.m. at Westwood II followed by Charrette Open House hours until 5 p.m. The community will be asked to give feedback on the preferred options for the Framework Concept at Walt Whitman High School from 6 to 9 p.m.

Friday, November 14 -The community is invited to drop in at Westwood II during the day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to talk with Montgomery Planning Department staff as they refine the Concept Plan.

Monday, November 17 – Planners will be working on the results of the charrette in preparation for Tuesday’s evening presentation of the Completed Concept Plan at Westland Middle School.

Tuesday, November 18 – Planners will summarize the results of the charrette and its influence on the plan at Westland Middle School from 7 to 9 p.m.

About the Westbard Sector Plan:
The existing WestbardSector Plan is one of the oldest plans still in use in Montgomery County, having last been revised in 1982. It is now being updated at the direction of the Montgomery County Council to keep pace with the times and changes in the area.

by Aaron Kraut — October 30, 2014 at 9:00 am 232 0

Medical Center Metro, photo via rzultarzaba

30 Years Of Purple Line Bickering – Bethesda Magazine’s Lou Peck looks back at the origins of the Purple Line and how the stated goals for the transit system have shifted from getting cars off the road to spurring economic development. [Bethesda Magazine]

Vote, Get Free Chips and Queso – Local burrito chain California Tortilla is giving free chips and queso to any customer who votes on Tuesday. Bethesda’s location is at 4871 Cordell Ave. [California Tortilla via Facebook]

Bethesda Avenue Restaurant Runs Into Health Code Issues – Tara Thai (4828 Bethesda Ave.) was forced to close on Oct. 17 because of a roach infestation and other unsanitary conditions. It reopened the next day. [Washington Post]

Free Taxi Rides On Halloween – The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) will offer free cab rides on Friday night in an effort to prevent drunk driving in Montgomery County and other local jurisdictions. [The Gazette]

Photo via rzultarzaba

by Aaron Kraut — October 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm 262 3 Comments

Stewart Moss, executive director of The Writer's Center, talks about a model of a renovated and expanded Walsh Street facility Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, at Battery Lane and Old Georgetown Road
Town of Chevy Chase Photos via Brett Hartl/Center for Biological Diversity

A host of Bethesda and Chevy Chase community organizations are looking to a half-square mile town of less than 3,000 people for help funding some major projects.

The Town of Chevy Chase, an incorporated town between Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues made up almost exclusively of single-family homes, has a roughly $9 million budget surplus that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

On Wednesday, the Town’s Council will consider four requests for donations ranging from $9,000 for new computers at the local elementary school to $100,000 for accessibility upgrades at a Bethesda cultural center.

At the Town Council’s October meeting, each proposal was determined to meet the Town’s contribution eligibility requirements, reserved for one-time, capital expenses that relate in some way to the small community in Chevy Chase:

The Chevy Chase Elementary School PTA is requesting a $9,000 contribution to buy six iMac computers for the school’s 6th grade elective arts programs.

According to the PTA, MCPS has not budgeted for the replacement of the existing Apple computers at the school and the older computers aren’t compatible with the most current photography and video-editing software.

Jennifer Mitchell, a Town resident who made the request, said the computers would be used for classes in photography, filmmaking and music arts for at least four years and would also be used by a team of fifth graders at the school involved in producing news broadcasts.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — October 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm 0

Councilmember Marc Elrich speaks at a Wednesday press conference to announce Montgomery County's kitchen incubator project, held at the Marriott Teaching Kitchen at the Universities of Shady Grove in Rockville, Photo via Manna Food Center

Montgomery County will lean on what’s probably the best local example of a kitchen incubator in an effort to start one of its own.

The county on Wednesday announced Union Kitchen — the D.C. organization that provides kitchen space for about 50 local food businesses — will join with Bethesda-based retail and development firm Streetsense to look for potential incubator sites, come up with a management structure and look at training programs.

Union Kitchen’s 7,300-square-foot warehouse provides food business entrepreneurs ready-to-go kitchen space and equipment, often one of the highest-costs to opening a restaurant. It’s meant to provide a low-cost, low-risk way for local food businesses to get established.

With an increasing demand for locally-sourced food, Montgomery County put out a request for proposals this summer to get help building their own.

“This facility will foster the growth of small businesses and provide new workforce opportunities for our residents,” County Executive Isiah Leggett said at a press conference Wednesday. “Part of what makes this project so special to me, personally, is that it represents our commitment to creating economic opportunities for all facets of Montgomery County.”

Dan Hoffman, the county’s Chief Innovation Officer, said the list of food entrepreneurs waiting to get into Union Kitchen in D.C. includes some Montgomery County businesses.

“We frequently get calls from people who have a family recipe or a special culinary skill that they want to scale into something bigger,” county Economic Development Director Steve Silverman said. “In addition to space, they really need business questions to be answered and mentoring from experts in the field.”

Union Kitchen and Streetsense will provide a scope of work with all of their planning.

Union Kitchen co-owner Jonas Singer said he’s seen “an explosion in interest in startup, locally owned food businesses,” in Montgomery County.

“A food incubator allows people to not just dream, but to achieve, creating economic wealth, jobs, and businesses that bring all of us, as customers, great food and experiences,” Singer said.

Photo via Manna Food Center

by Aaron Kraut — October 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm 0

Montgomery County CouncilA number of local parents and child care providers say new rules for selecting which providers get to operate in MCPS buildings are just a codification of the status quo.

At stake is the process for which the county’s Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) picks which providers get to operate before and after school programs in county schools.

After two lawsuits and many complaints about undisclosed conflicts of interest, unfair standards and school principals with too much sway in the rebidding process, Montgomery County proposed a new set of regulations last month.

But at a County Council public hearing last week and in emails sent to county officials, many say the proposed regulations still don’t provide specific enough standards or include anyone with child care experience in the rebidding process:

“In the Commission’s view, these two documents represent a codification of the status quo and do not serve to address the concerns raised by child care providers and parents related to the selection of well-qualified providers and the implementation of consistent, quality child care in elementary before and after school programs,” wrote Shaun Rose, who runs the Rock Spring Children’s Center in Bethesda and is a member of the Commission on Child Care.

“The Regulation and Administrative Procedures that apply only to Child Care in Public Space (CCIPS) administered by the Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF), afford CUPF much discretion in the process, and do not make it clear which section of government is responsible when parents or providers have an issue with CUPF’s actions,” Rose wrote. “Of particular concern is that the draft Administrative Procedures neglect to require that the selection committee include a member with child care expertise.”

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — October 29, 2014 at 11:10 am 197 0

Small fire on roof at Pike & Rose construction site, via Pete Piringer

Firefighters are responding to a fire on the roof of one of the buildings under construction at the Pike & Rose project in North Bethesda/White Flint.

Smoke was visible from the top of the building, near the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard at about 11:05 a.m.

Workers told MCFRS personnel on the scene they were working with asphalt on the roof and the fire was put out.

Two lanes of southbound Old Georgetown Road near its intersection with Executive Boulevard have been closed to allow for fire department staging.

Photo via Pete Piringer

by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor — October 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm 0

This sponsored, biweekly Q&A column is written by Andrew Goodman, broker/owner of Goodman, Realtors. Based in Bethesda, Andrew serves clients in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Please submit comments, questions, and opinions…

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