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by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm 1,026 0

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) told a Bethesda audience on Tuesday he still believes Congress will find a way to avoid automatic across-the-board budget cuts looming at the end of the year.

Federal sequestration was the predominant topic of discussion among the business and professional leaders of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club, which invited the five-term congressman and ranking member on the House Budget Committee to its weekly meeting at the Kenwood Golf & Country Club.

Sequestration would mean $110 billion in federal cuts to defense and domestic programs a year for the next 10 years and, according to one report, the loss of 12,600 federal jobs in Maryland. It could also start a chain reaction that would hurt local federal contractors and negatively affect the still sluggish economy.

Van Hollen reiterated his stance that reducing the deficit will take a mixed approach of cutting spending and raising revenue by keeping Clinton-era tax rates for those making more than $250,000 a year when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012.

The leading Democratic congressman, who recently portrayed Budget Committee foe Paul Ryan in Vice President Joe Biden’s debate prep, said he expects a historically busy lame duck session of Congress to address sequestration after the Nov. 6 election.

Of course, Van Hollen has an election of his own to win. But with few expecting Republican challenger Ken Timmerman to come close, even in a reconfigured 8th Congressional District, the question of Van Hollen’s reelection didn’t come up on Tuesday.

Timmerman, as well as the Libertarian and Green candidates for the 8th District seat, were invited to speak at the Rotary Club.

Van Hollen touched on a few local issues, including federally funded road and transportation improvements at and around NIH and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

He also said he hopes to focus on critical infrastructure issues in the next year, including finding federal money for transportation projects such as the Purple Line, while maintaining access to the Capital Crescent Trail that runs along it.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm 782 0

The Town of Chevy Chase is looking for resident input on tree companies and tree maintenance, particularly in the aftermath of last summer’s derecho.

The Town’s Climate and Environmental Committee is developing initiatives to “improve the health and safety of our tree canopy,” according to a Town email alert today.

The Town Office is asking residents who used arborists and tree companies to describe their experience, what company they used, what work they did, costs, how many trips it took to complete the work and other questions relating to clean-up.

The Town also wants to hear about clearing trees and debris. It took officials in Montgomery County almost a month to clear debris from all roadways because of the power of the storm and widespread power outages in the days after.

Residents can respond to the Town Office at townoffice@townofchevychase.org.

Flickr photo by thisisbossi

by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm 2,075 0

The Montgomery County Council will likely approve the first formal White Flint advisory committee next week after a resolution was introduced at Council today.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee is an important step in the evolution of North Bethesda in two ways. First, the committee would make recommendations and communicate issues about the rapid development of the area to the County Executive, County Council and County government agencies.

Second, it would be charged with forming a White Flint Urban Partnership, similar to the Bethesda Urban Partnership or a Business Improvement District, by September 2017. The Urban Partnership would be a county-funded nonprofit responsible for running special events, marketing the area, picking up trash and providing other various maintenance services.

The committee, as proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), would be made up of 14 members, 11 who would be able to vote. Residents, business owners, property owners, Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce representatives and some one from the County Executive’s office, the County Council and the North Bethesda Transportation Management District would be in the group.

Advisory committees or boards issue recommendations typically in the form of a letter after being briefed on development, traffic or infrastructure issues.

Those letters carry weight with policy makers as the areas served by the committees are not municipalities and rely on County government for improvement.

Managing development should be a constant topic for the group. Over the next 25 years, the multiple new developments approved in the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan will bring more than 14,000 housing units and 13 million square feet in commercial space to both sides of Rockville Pike.

Developers are in the early stages of work on a 280,000-square-foot retail and residential area with a 320-room Westin Hotel and suspension bridge over the White Flint Metro station platform just east of Rockville Pike.

Across the street, construction on the first phase of the Pike & Rose development at Mid-Pike Plaza is underway. That project is expected to bring 3.4 million square feet of mixed-use development by 2014.

South of Nicholson Lane, North Bethesda Market and its 24-story tower (the tallest building in Montgomery County) has sprouted. There are plans for another phase of the development and an even taller tower.

Then, there are the plans to turn White Flint mall into 45 acres of similar mixed-use development.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 11:00 am 857 0


A trio of local organizations got together last weekend to provide medical services to medically vulnerable and homeless without other access to them.

The Sathya Sai Baba Center of South Bethesda, homelessness prevention nonprofit Bethesda Cares and host Bethesda Presbyterian Church joined Saturday to sponsor a medical camp and triage for 33 patients.

Twenty of the 33 were homeless, 13 lived in homes and 20 had no insurance, according to Sathya Sai Center President Siva Sreeni.

Health care professionals included two triage doctors, two internal medicine specialists, an ophthalmologist, dentist, stress reduction expert and doctors to register and check-out patients.

All but five patients received eye exams and all but four got dental exams.

The Sathya Sai Baba Center practices a mix of Hindu and Muslim beliefs from the teachings of Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The Bethesda Presbyterian Church, in conjunction with Bethesda Cares, holds a lunch for the homeless every Saturday that feeds an average of 40 people.

By last official count, there were 72 chronically homeless people from Friendship Heights to the White Flint Metro station.

Photos courtesy of Sanjay Mandhan via Bethesda Cares

by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 10:00 am 3,780 10 Comments

His remarks were admittedly blunt, but the resident was hardly alone in his apparent skepticism of the Capital Bikeshare program during a citizens advisory board meeting on Monday.

“I’m a senior citizen. Bicycles on the sidewalk are absurd. It’s incompatible,” said the man, who spoke after a County Department of Transportation official presented plans for implementing the system in downtown Bethesda. “Bicycles are stealth things. They creep up on you without making a sound.”

Others questioned whether Montgomery County would be held liable for accidents, why many Bikeshare users in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., don’t use helmets, if there would be enough room on sidewalks for pedestrians and if drunk bar patrons might steal the bikes from docking stations after a night on the town.

Despite huge popularity in Washington and Arlington and a recent expansion into Alexandria, Va., the Monday night meeting of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board showed Bikeshare has a long way to go before winning over some of Bethesda’s most civic-minded residents.


by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 8:53 am 1,116 0

A motorcyclist was injured and transported to a local hospital after a collision with a SUV this morning on Old Georgetown Road.

The collision occurred around 8:15 a.m. at the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Cordell Avenue.

Medical personnel were attending to the motorcyclist, who was strapped to a gurney and lifted into a waiting ambulance.

The motorcycle appeared to sustain minor damage. The driver of the SUV involved in the collision remained on the scene. The SUV had a sizeable dent on its right side and its right-side airbag was deployed.

Police shut down northbound Old Georgetown Road and diverted traffic toward St. Elmo Avenue. The accident caused a brief back-up on southbound Old Georgetown Road.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 16, 2012 at 8:30 am 583 0

Last Day to Register For Nov. 6 General Election — Today is the final day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election, which besides the Presidential race includes a number of referendums that will make the ballot “the longest ballot in 20 years in Montgomery County,” according to the Public Information Office. [Montgomery County]

Leggett Speaks Out Against Controversial Metro Ads — A Federal judge on Oct. 5 ordered Metro to display a controversial ad reading: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) yesterday weighed in, describing the ad, from The American Freedom Defense Initiative, as hate speech.

“I support Israel. I support its right to defend itself. I support peace in the region among all the sons of Abraham. Simplistic and provocative jingoism furthers neither of those goals,” Leggett said in a statement. “Just because one can express extreme views under the freedom of expression we all hold dear does not mean one should.”

Writers on the Row Photo Gallery — Photos of the authors featured at this year’s Writers on the Row at Bethesda Row, including Michael Wilbon, Rosie Pope and Richard Belzer. [Guest of a Guest] [h/t @BethesdaRow]

Belzer Unimpressed With Bethesda — Speaking of Belzer, the comedian and actor known for his role as Det. John Munch in series such as “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” was reportedly not that impressed with Bethesda during his Writers on the Row appearance on Saturday.

“Here we are in Bethesda, Maryland,” Belzer said, according to the Washington Post’s Reliable Source blog. “What is Bethesda known for, beyond the hospital? Is that it?” [Washington Post]


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