The U.S. Census Bureau is still looking for help researching new methods for data gathering in its 2014 Census Test, which is being conducted in Montgomery County and D.C.
At least 1,000 people are needed for a variety of paid temporary positions as the Census Bureau looks at ways to incorporate smart technology into its 2020 Census data gathering.
The Census Test, operated out of the agency’s local office in Silver Spring, needs Census takers who likely will work in their own neighborhoods over varied hours, not exceeding 40 hours per week. Since most census taker positions require personally interviewing respondents, those who apply must be able to work when people are typically at home, which includes evening and weekend hours. In most cases, a valid driver’s license and use of a vehicle are required to work as a census taker.
Pay starts at about $15 an hour.
The local Census Test began on June 23 and will continue to Sept. 25. The Census Bureau says the test area includes about 200,000 housing units.
Photo via U.S. Census Bureau
Federal prosecutors say a North Bethesda doctor served as a “pill mill” for prescription drug abusers from as far as Tennessee and is responsible for distributing methadone to a patient who died as a result of using the drug.
Silviu Ziscovici, known as “Dr. Z” according to federal officials, was charged earlier this week with conspiracy to distribute and distribution of controlled dangerous substances, distribution of a controlled dangerous substance resulting in death and money laundering in connection to his 11400 Rockville Pike pain and management practice.
The indictment, brought by a grand jury at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, alleges that Ziscovici used his state medical license to prescribe oxycodone, methadone, morphine, alprazolam and other controlled substances to patients without any apparent medical need for the drugs.
The indictment alleges users paid Ziscovici a fee to get the prescriptions from at least July 2009 through June 22, 2010.
An investigation of Ziscovici by the Drug Enforcement Administration led to the Maryland Board of Physicians permanently revoking his medical license in December 2010. No criminal charges were filed at the time, but DEA information in the suspension order revealed 15 of his patients died from drug overdoses and that he’d been seeing about 35 patients a day from 13 different states for a profit of between $1.4 million and $1.9 million a year.
The DEA said it began investigating Ziscovici in September 2009 after several Maryland pharmacists reported to the state Division of Drug Control that they had seen unusually high number of Ziscovici’s patients with prescriptions for large amounts of pain medication. According to the suspension order, Montgomery County Police began investigating Ziscovici in the summer of 2009 using undercover detectives.
The 29-count federal indictment was announced Wednesday and means Ziscovici faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and up to life in prison for the the single charge of distribution resulting in death. The 26 counts of distribution of controlled substances and for conspiracy each carry 20-year sentences and the money laundering charge carries a 10-year sentence.
Ziscovici had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on Wednesday and remains in custody pending a detention hearing set for Friday afternoon.
The federal indictment alleges that on Feb. 2, 2010, Ziscovici “caused methadone to be distributed to a patient, outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose” that led to the death of one patient.
The indictment also alleges that a co-conspirator living in Tennessee would regularly transport people from Tennessee to Ziscovici’s North Bethesda office:
According to the indictment, Ziscovici instructed the co-conspirator not to bring anyone under the age of 25, or anyone with visible “track marks” to Ziscovici’s office. The indictment alleges that, among other things, Ziscovici conducted cursory, incomplete, or no medical examination of patients, prescribed inappropriate combinations of medications, increased patients’ dosages without medical justification, and treated a large number of patients who had travelled long distances to his office in order to obtain prescriptions for highly addictive controlled substances.
The latest 2nd District crime summary from Montgomery County Police:
Four thefts from vehicles occurred during this reporting period. Entry was both forced and unforced. Incidents occurred on Taylor Street and Ross Road in Chevy Chase and on 16th Street in Silver Spring. Items targeted included: cash, rims, tires, radios, a purse, a cell phone and a tv.
A theft occurred in the 7200 block of Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda on Monday, 7/14 between 4:00 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. The suspect obtained property from the victim.
A sexual offense occurred in the 4900 block of Fairmont Avenue in Bethesda on Thursday, 7/17 during the afternoon hours. The suspect is known to the victim
A strong-arm robbery occurred in the 5200 block of Wapakoneta Road in Bethesda on Friday, 7/18 at 3:15 p.m. The suspect assaulted the victim and obtained property.
Suspect: B/M, 6′, bald
A commercial burglary occurred at the Exxon located at 6729 Goldsboro Road in Bethesda on Monday, 7/14 between 3:20 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Unknown entry; property taken.
An attempted commercial burglary occurred in the 4500 block of Sangamore Road in Bethesda on Wednesday, 7/16 at approximately 8:15 p.m. Attempted forced entry; nothing taken.
A commercial burglary occurred at Tilden Pool, 6806 Tilden Lane in Rockville overnight between Thursday, 7/17 and Friday, 7/18. Forced entry; vandalism occurred.
A sex assault occurred in the 7400 block of Westlake Terrace in Bethesda on Wednesday, 7/16 at an unknown time. The suspect is known to the victim.
Six thefts from vehicles occurred in this beat during this reporting period. All incidents involved unsecured vehicles. Two incidents occurred at Congressional Country Club, 8500 River Road in Bethesda.
Chevy Chase Village isn’t satisfied with a plan to put a flashing yellow pedestrian signal on what the Village says could be a key crossing of six-lane Connecticut Avenue.
The Maryland State Highway Administration has proposed the flashing yellow signal for Lenox Street and Connecticut Avenue, which leads to the Village Hall — a center of activity and home to the Village’s Police Department.
In a letter to SHA Administrator Melinda Peters, Gary Crockett from the Village Board of Managers wrote that a resident crossing with his walker was recently hit by a car, illustrating the danger.
“The flashing yellow light planned by SHA will not protect pedestrians and may even increase the risk of pedestrian and vehicle crashes,” Crockett wrote. “Based on a review of extensive Federal research on pedestrian safety, the only truly effective protection is to install a full color traffic signal.”
The Village’s Board of Managers created an ad hoc Pedestrian Safety Committee in March to push for the full signal, which would be pedestrian-activiated and which Crockett wrote wouldn’t adversely affect vehicular traffic.
According to the Village website, the SHA denied that request, saying the Village lacks the minimum number of pedestrians seeking to cross Connecticut Avenue per SHA metrics. The Village argued that more pedestrians “would undoubtedly seek to cross if there was a safe way to do so,” but that “the State continues to point to the failure to meet the warrants as insufficient basis to proceed with the installation of a signal.”
Crockett wrote that the Village Hall and the post office unit inside the Village Hall are home to more than 33,000 transactions per year.
Image via Google Maps
Georgetown Prep Lax Coach Resigns – Kevin Giblin, who was Georgetown Prep’s lacrosse coach for 27 years, resigned on Wednesday. It’s unclear why. A letter from the school’s athletic director doesn’t give a reason for the resignation and a report from Washington Magazine claims it’s because Giblin got in a bar fight in June at Caddies on Cordell. Giblin didn’t respond to requests for comments on the reported incident. [Washingtonian Magazine]
International Beer Day At Piazza Beer Garden – To celebrate International Beer Day (which is officially Friday) Piazza Beer Garden (7401 Woodmont Ave.) is hosting a beer and hors d’oeuvres event on Thursday evening. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, the beer garden will host the event with DC Brau’s Brandon Skall. The event is open to the public and tickets are $10. [International Beer Day At Piazza Beer Garden]
Bethesda Native Qualifies For U.S. Amateur Championship – Bethesda native Keegan Boone carded a two-round score of 139 at a qualifying event in Prince George’s County and will head to the 114th U.S. Amateur Championship next month at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Boone graduated from Gonzaga College High School and is going into his junior year at Loyola University in Baltimore, where he helped the Greyhounds win last season’s Patriot League title. [Loyola Athletics]
Flickr photo by Amon
A week after the Town of Chevy Chase challenged its ridership estimates for the Purple Line, the Maryland Transit Administration said it stands behind its projection that the light rail will see 74,000 riders a day by 2040.
The MTA also provided the Town all of the data it used to prepare its ridership forecast, methodology reports that have been available on the project website since last year and information about how to buy the software the MTA used to compile the results.
The Town of Chevy Chase Council voted on July 9 to submit a Maryland Public Information Act request to the state agency for the data and said previous attempts to get the data were rebuffed by MTA because of “proprietary issues” involved with the outside engineering firm that conducted previous research.
The Town is officially opposed to the Purple Line, a section of which would run behind homes in the Town on the existing Georgetown Branch extension of the Capital Crescent Trail.
The Town, apparently buoyed by a recent anti-Purple Line column from a Wall Street Journal columnist, questioned if the numbers in the MTA’s final environmental impact statement “were revised from previous estimates in response to concerns expressed by state officials about underestimations.”
“In developing the Purple Line the MTA has used nationally accepted practices for travel forecasting and we stand behind them,” read a statement from the MTA provided to BethesdaNow.com on Wednesday. “Hopefully this will demonstrate the transparency with which the MTA has operated throughout the Purple Line ridership projection process.”
Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineering firm that provided ridership projections for earlier Purple Line studies, projected 68,000 trips daily. The light rail will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton with stops in Chevy Chase Lake, Silver Spring, College Park and other places in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
In a press release on Tuesday announcing the official Request for Proposals for the project, MTA said estimated ridership is now 74,000 riders a day by 2040.
In 2008, around the time of the Purple Line’s draft environmental impact statement, Purple Line officials said planners increased all daily ridership estimates by 20,000 to take into account potential Purple Line trips made by Metro and MARC riders.
“These ridership numbers have changed over time yet have been substantially endorsed and quoted as valid by advocates and elected officials,” Town of Chevy Chase Vice Mayor Pat Burda said last week. “Since past efforts to access this information have been rebuffed, we are pursuing an official inquiry through the public information act process.”
The Town of Chevy Chase earlier this year entered into a $350,000 contract with a group of lobbying firms to work against the planned Purple Line route, where construction is scheduled to begin in late 2015 and last five years.
The Town also donated $10,000 to a nonprofit group to finance a study of endangered critters the group said would be harmed by the construction of the light rail.
The Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight delivered the report on Wednesday. It looked at 415 preliminary and site plan applications completed between FY 2010 and mid-year FY 2014, plus 284 record plats approved by the Planning Board and Department of Permitting Services from 2011-2013.
It found great variability in the time it took to get those projects approved — so much variability that it decided to use median approval timeframes instead of the average.
The OLO found median review and approval timeframes of about 15 months for a preliminary plan, 12 months for the site plan a little more than nine months for a record plat.
If a project requires all three levels of review, that means it could take three years to get from initial proposal of a project to final approval.
The OLO also found “actual processing time data for new preliminary and site plans phases exceeds various processing time assumptions identified in County law, the Planning Board’s procedural rules,” and memorandums of understanding with county agencies involved in the approval process.
In the official language of the report, the Council requested the study “for a better understanding of how long it takes to receive certain types of approvals and some of the factors that influence the predictability of the County’s regulatory land use processes.”
Though it’s rarely made public or explicit, developers and those in the industry have long expressed frustration over the length of time it takes to get projects approved by both the Planning Board and the county’s Department of Permitting Services.
The OLO report also includes a look at how other jurisdictions deal with development approvals, though it stops short of recommending a more rigid structure for each level of review.
It’s not the first time the county has grappled with the issue. There have been many reviews of the process, enhanced communication between the Planning Board and Department of Permitting Services and the county has implemented new online programs to allow for key applications.
But the OLO found the process particularly stalled because of something called the Development Review Committee, an inter-agency task force comprised of representatives from public agencies and utilities such as WSSC, PEPCO, the State Highway Administration, and the county Departments of Permitting Services, Environmental Protection, and Public Works and Transportation.
Trader Joe’s Coming To Apartment Project? – A representative from developer JBG might have mistakenly revealed a Trader Joe’s grocery store is coming to the ground floor of the company’s planned 17-story apartment at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue. Representatives from the developer met with residents of the next-door Fairmont Plaza on Tuesday and also said they expect construction to start in February 2015. It’s unknown what the Trader Joe’s would mean for the existing location at 6831 Wisconsin Ave. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]
More Issues With WSSC Contractor – The WSSC contractor doing pipe replacement and repaving work on Bradley Boulevard closed lanes during a morning rush-hour last week, causing huge back-ups and headaches for drivers who also had to deal with an ongoing State Highway Administration paving project in the area. A WSSC official said there was a “miscommunication” with the contractor, Metra Industries, and the work was expected to finish at the end of last week. The contractor has been no stranger to controversy. [The Gazette]
New Immunization Requirements For Students Entering Seventh Grade – New immunization requirements mean all MCPS students entering seventh grade this year must get a Tdap (Tetanus-diphtheria-attenuated pertussis) and meningococcal vaccination. The county’s Department of Health and Human Services will provide free vaccinations to incoming seventh graders at the school system’s Back to School Fair on Saturday, Aug. 23 in Rockville. Appointments are required. [Montgomery County]
This biweekly column is written by Suzanne Lawter, Director of Community Outreach for Mutts Matter Rescue, a local nonprofit, all-volunteer dog rescue. Mutts Matter is a network of volunteers who love animals and want to make a difference by helping forgotten and discarded dogs find loving families. Since our founding in 2010, we have successfully rescued and placed more than 1,400 dogs in the local Washington Metropolitan area.
Hey, everyone! My name is Buddy and I’m a handsome and lovable 2-year-old Lab/Hound mix. I’m a young, active dog who loves to run and play, and I’m the undisputed champion of playing fetch. I have a football and basketball that I treasure, but any kind of playtime is good in my book. I’m also very affectionate and bond closely with my person, and will make someone a great companion for running or just hanging out on the couch.
My foster mom calls me a “guy’s dog” because I’m 65 pounds and love to play ball and wrestle, but the truth is she’s my favorite person in the world. She takes me on long walks, gives me yummy treats and belly rubs, and has had such a positive impact on my life.
Since I’ve been in her care, we’ve worked with a trainer to learn how to walk properly on leash and greet visitors who come to the house. I’ve learned to go to my special spot when someone comes to the door and, once I see my foster mom approves of them, I greet guests with joy and enthusiasm. Sometimes I still have a little too much enthusiasm and will jump up to see if they want to play with me, but I’m working on that.
Not only is my foster mom awesome, but I get along great with her son Yannick too. Since he’s been home from college, we’ve been going on morning runs and he’s been teaching me cool tricks. He gave me the basketball and football that I kick around the house, and we play soccer together. He takes me on play dates with his friends’ dogs to make sure I stay socialized, and we have a blast. Although I’m great with older kids, I’m not a good fit for families with smaller children who don’t understand boundaries. I’m a bigger pup and still have a lot of puppy energy and excitement, and could accidentally knock over a small child while we’re playing.
The Board of Education on Monday approved eliminating the use of district-funded credit cards for Board members after controversy erupted earlier this year over some members’ credit card expenses.
The Board unanimously approved the recommendations of an ad hoc committee established by Board President Phil Kauffman to delve into the issues — which included one Board member who repaid the school system more than $1,900 to cover 16 unauthorized charges over five years. An additional batch of records released by the school system in June showed two Board members charged for hotel stays and room service in D.C. during a conference, despite living within easy driving distance.
“Based on the Ad Hoc Committee’s work and the review of outside counsel, it was clear that our expense processes and procedures were weak and were not always followed,” Kauffman said. “I believe these changes were needed and will help build public trust in how the Board conducts business and spends valuable taxpayer resources.”
The changes approved Monday also include a daily per diem for nonlocal travel to conferences, a new rule for pre-approval for nonlocal travel, a new list of pre-approved meetings and events and a new approval process consisting of semiannual reports.
The changes, detailed below as provided by MCPS, will take effect immediately:
1. Removal of credit card authorization: Board members will not be issued credit cards, even for the purposes of authorized travel outside of Montgomery County. Board administrative staff may continue to use the cards for authorized purchases.
2. Per diem for authorized travel: Board members will receive a daily allowance–or per diem–for nonlocal travel, in accordance with funding caps used by the federal government.
3. Preapproval for nonlocal travel: All out-of-county travel must be preapproved, including attendance at out-of-county hearings, work group meetings, professional development opportunities and conferences. Board members will not be reimbursed for lodging at hotels located within 50 miles of the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
4. Approved events/meetings for Board members: The Board developed a list of preapproved conferences, events and meetings that its members would be authorized to attend or travel to in 2014-2015. The Board also established a process for considering requests that the county pay for attendance at an event, meeting or conference not on the preapproved list.
5. Meal reimbursement: Board members will no longer be reimbursed if they purchase a meal for someone else, such as a constituent, political leader or MCPS staff member. Board members can be reimbursed for their own meals if they are directly related to Board business, and at a rate consistent with caps set by the federal government.
6. Mileage reimbursement: Any out-of-county travel must be preapproved in order for a Board member to receive mileage reimbursement.
7. Home office: Board members will continue to be provided with the necessary equipment and supplies to maintain home offices. However, the Board will no longer grant reimbursements for home office Internet service.
8. Approval process and semiannual reports: The Board approved a more robust process for expense approvals. Also, the Board’s Fiscal Management Committee will review summary reports on the status of expenditures by Board members and the Board office. The full Board will receive the reports in their regular Board packets as an item of information and the reports will be available for public inspection. An annual external audit of Board expenses will also be conducted.
Photo via Phil Kauffman
All lanes were reopened at about 4:10 p.m.
Photo via TrafficLand.com
The Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration have released detailed requirements for the four private concessionaire teams bidding to build and operate the Purple Line light rail.
The public-private partnership — which would include helping the state design, build, finance, operate and maintain the 16-mile system — would be for a 35-year contract term.
The selected private concessionaire team would be put before the Board of Public Works for approval in spring 2015 and, if approved, construction of the Purple Line would start later in 2015.
“This is a significant milestone towards construction of the Purple Line, which will help us grow our economy, create jobs for Maryland’s workers, and strengthen communities in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties,” Lt. Gov. and Democratic governor nominee Anthony Brown said in a statement. “Building the Purple Line as a public-private partnership will allow us to continue our commitment to fiscally responsible budgeting while using the knowledge and skills of the private sector to expand our transportation infrastructure.”
Whichever private concessionaire is picked is expected to finance $500 million to $900 million of the overall $2.37 billion project.
But on the way, the neighborhood bordered by Western Avenue, Beach Drive, East-West Highway and Martin’s Additions ran up against a small, but potentially difficult roadblock. While Montgomery County law allows a waiver of fees for neighborhood association sign permits, it still required payment of the fee for the right-of-way permit.
That meant the Rollingwood Citizens Association had to pony up a total of $144 to apply for right-of-way on three spots at different entrances to the neighborhood.
“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the principle that matters,” said Rollingwood Citizens Association President Fritz Hirst. “It’s inconsistent with the spirit of what’s already on the books.”
Hirst contacted Councilmember Roger Berliner about the issue and Berliner sponsored a bill to ensure official neighborhood associations won’t have to pay any right-of-way signage fees. The Council unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday.
“It’s really about placemaking — local communities, local civic organizations and neighborhoods saying we’re proud of our community and we’re going to put up a small, unobstrusive sign,” Berliner said, “and we don’t want the county to charge us.”
Rollingwood embarked on the sign project to better distinguish itself among the many municipalities and communities of Chevy Chase.
“For Rollingwood, it creates a sense of identity and a sense of place,” Hirst said.
Hirst said Rollingwood hopes to get the signs installed by fall or early winter in three locations, at Woodbine Street and Beach Drive near the Rollingwood School, at Wyndale Road and Beach Drive and on a triangular patch of grass at Leland Street and Beach Drive.
County Council staff predicted loss of revenue from the right-of-way fee waiver at less than $500 a year.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a recovery plan for the Hay’s spring amphipod, a tiny shrimp-like critter just 5-10 millimeters in length that is colorless, blind and lives most of its life underground.
The organization joined the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and other Chevy Chase residents last month in threatening to sue federal government agencies that the group said didn’t adequately take into account how the Purple Line would harm and possibly destroy amphipod populations in Rock Creek.
Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director for the Center, wrote that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exempted the amphipod from recovery efforts when it was named to the endangered list in 1982 because it was thought to exist in just one spring.
“…the Service exempted the species from recovery planning because it felt that the conservation options for the species were simply too limited for anything proactive to be done to help,” wrote Hartl.
But the amphipod has been found in four more springs in Rock Creek in the District. And according to an American University biology professor hired by the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, it’s likely to exist in three springs in a Montgomery County section of Rock Creek that would be threatened by construction of the Purple Line.
The professor, Dr. David Culver, is expected to resume his search for the critters in the fall, when they are more likely to come out from underground.
Hartl urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate a recovery plan, which would involve maintaining a buffer area around each of the springs and seeps and could mean prohibiting any type of construction or increase in impervious surfaces — including a new trail.
The petition also asks the Service to take its own samples at the three Maryland sites where the Center for Biological Diversity believes the amphipod species lives.
Last week, the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and many of the same residents of Chevy Chase filed a similar notice of intent to file suit against the state of Maryland, where an additional amphipod species thought to live in the area is already identified as endangered under state law.
Photo via Brett Hartl/Center for Biological Diversity
Council To Hear About Housing Unaccompanied Minors – It appears Montgomery County could host a facility to temporarily house unaccompanied minors from Central America who face deportation. The Council is set to be briefed on the issue during Tuesday’s session and Councilmember George Leventhal said Tuesday morning plans include housing up to 65 minors in the county. [Washington Post] [Montgomery County Council] [George Leventhal via Twitter]
Parva Undergoing Renovation, Rebranding – The Parva (7904 Woodmont Ave.) has closed its main dining room for renovations and will reopen with a new name: Parva Cocina & Tequila Bar. The upstairs lounge area will remain open on certain nights. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row] [The Parva]
311 On Twitter – Montgomery County’s 311 Customer Service Center has launched a Twitter account that will allow residents to get non-emergency county government information and request services via a tweet (or two). The twitter account is @311MC311. [Montgomery County]
Flickr photo by Thomas Cizauskas