All indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities will be open and county liquor stores will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some Montgomery Parks will be open, but check the Montgomery Parks website for specific schedules.
County offices, libraries, senior centers and community recreation centers will be closed. So will the Gaithersburg Transfer Station, TRiPS Commuter Stores in Silver Spring and Friendship Heights, MCPS and State offices and courts.
Trash and recycling collection will be provided one day later than regularly scheduled for the rest of the week. Parking at public garages, lots and curbside meters will be free.
Ride On, Metrobus and Metrorail will all run on Sunday schedules.
Flickr photo by davidyuweb
Montgomery County says a recent analysis of car collisions with pedestrians proves its pedestrian safety efforts are working, despite that data showing a bump in pedestrian collisions in 2012 and seven pedestrian fatalities already this year.
An analysis at the May 8 CountyStat review of County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative showed the most severe collisions involving either debilitating injury or death decreased by 20 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. But total pedestrian collisions increased from 399 in 2011 to 423 in 2012, a result of what the county says was an increase in collisions in private parking lots and garages.
Still, the seven pedestrian fatalities in the first quarter of this year have already surpassed the six pedestrian fatalities in all of of 2012. There were 11 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 and a high of 19 in 2008.
In December, the county said pedestrian collisions had decreased by 12 percent since 2009, when County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Initiative was first funded.
“In 2007, my Pedestrian Safety Initiative outlined a blueprint for reducing pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County, and I am gratified that the plan appears to be working,” Leggett said in a release. “Through engineering, education and enforcement, as well as a broad partnership between residents, County departments and agencies, and the State Highway Administration, the severity of collisions are trending downward, particularly in the areas that need the most help. Targeted interventions really can make a difference in reducing the number of pedestrians who are injured or killed.”
In Bethesda, a group of pedestrian activists and Bethesda Elementary School parents joined together to ask the county to lower speed limits, increase fines and install crossing signals that allow pedestrians an exclusive window to cross in school zones.
The Kensington man who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) in last fall’s election will go before the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Monday and ask it that it implement further security measures for voting machines, software and operating policies.
Ken Timmerman, a Republican who lost to Van Hollen in Montgomery precincts of Maryland’s Eighth District by a 3-to-1 margin, backed off his original claim that the county’s voting results were inaccurate. He said he “conducted an investigation with the help of volunteers” and “came away from that investigation convinced that the anecdotal reports we had gathered did not rise to the level of a systematic pattern of voter fraud.”
Before, Timmerman had claimed supporters supplied him with anecdotal evidence of “irregularities” during early voting and the Nov. 6 general election. He also claimed there were voting machines in the district without a single Republican vote.
“However, as I learned more about the electronic voting machines and their vulnerabilities, I also became convinced that the security measures in place – especially in Montgomery County – were inadequate,” Timmerman wrote in an email to supporters. “While I do not doubt the good intentions of the professional staff who administer our elections, I believe the politicians who give them orders and set the security parameters can do better.”
Timmerman will address the Board of Elections at its meeting on Monday at 2:30 p.m. and make two unspecified recommendations he hopes they will adopt. In November, he said the state must enforce a 2007 law that established the replacement of touch-screen machines with optical scanner voting machines.
“If they fail to enact these common sense reforms or equivalent measures, I will have no choice but to tell the public that I have no confidence in the outcome of the 2014 election results in Montgomery County,” Timmerman wrote.
Everyone is looking to increase their marketability these days and there are plenty of drivers in the public parking garage at Bethesda Row. So Montgomery County today announced it will place ads in the garage to gauge revenue potential.
The six-month pilot program will test “ad-based marketing opportunities,” in four county garages, including Garage 57 at Bethesda Row, Garage 11 at 7730 Woodmont Ave. and two garages in Silver Spring.
The county’s Department of Transportation Division of Parking Management will post the ads by early June, according to a press release. The test will help parking officials figure out how much money they can make from the ads, what sizes and type of ads work for businesses and ways to make sure the ads don’t block garage signage and instructions.
The county will use RMR Outdoor to manage the ads. For more info, visit the Division of Parking Management’s website.
B-CC’s Presidential Scholar Talks About Alcoholism — Bayard Miller, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student who was recently named a Presidential Scholar, said he’s a recovering alcoholic. He wrote about his experience in one of the essays that earned him the honor. Teacher Tim Gilmore will accompany Miller to the event. [The Gazette]
Bethesda Elementary Parents Talk Pedestrian Safety — Pedestrian safety around Bethesda Elementary School (7600 Arlington Rd.) has been in the news recently, with a group of parents and pedestrian advocates urging the county to make major changes in school zones. Some of those parents, including the father of a baby who was hit in February while in a stroller, spoke about what they want to see. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch]
County Offering Free Deck Inspections — As part of Building Safety Month, Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services is offering free deck maintenance inspections through the end of May for single-family detached homes, three-story-or-less townhouses and duplex dwellings. To make a request, contact the county’s customer service center at 311 or 240-777-0311. [Montgomery County]
Concert To Benefit Bethesda Cares — On Saturday, the Westmoreland chancel choir will perform an all-Bach program with a reception and an art show to help raise money for homeless prevention nonprofit Bethesda Cares. The concert is set for 7 p.m. at the Westmoreland United Church of Christ (1 Westmoreland Circle). [h/t B-CC Regional Services Center]
On the weekend of June 1 and 2, the county will host its own National Day of Civic Hacking event at the Universities of Shady Grove, a forum to encourage software engineers, entrepreneurs, activists or residents to come up with new ways to put its public information to good use.
County officials will pitch sample ideas to hackers at the event including: water quality protection apps, food recovery tools, student wellbeing analytics, food truck locator apps, adopt a fruit tree and transit data visualizations.
County Executive Isiah Leggett revealed the collection of Open Montgomery websites in December. On the Engage Montgomery site, the county has asked for ideas for apps to be developed during the National Day of Civic Hacking.
So far, people have suggested an app to submit 311 Service requests, an app to locate and encourage county parks and an app to let people know wait times and required documents at various Motor Vehicle Administration offices.
For more information on the event, visit the website.
Judge Denies County Request To Throw Out Police Union Lawsuit — The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35′s lawsuit against the county will continue after a judge refused to dismiss it in April. The police union says the county illegally used taxpayer money to campaign for Question B on last fall’s ballot, which upheld the county’s decision to revoke effects bargaining rights for police. [The Gazette]
MTA Looks To Cancel Lightly-Used Bus Route — The Maryland Transit Administration will host a series of three public meetings before getting rid of a Columbia-Bethesda commuter bus route they say not many people use. [MTA]
White Flint Developer To Present Development Plan — Developer Gables Residential will hold its required pre-submittal public meeting with residents and other stakeholders at 7:30 p.m. on May 21 at the Shriver Aquatic Center (5900 Executive Blvd.). Gables wants to redevelop the area of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard, just north of the Aquatic Center and site of a future county park. [Friends of White Flint]
Flickr photo by im_apatel
About 200 union supporters protested outside the Montgomery County Democratic Party Spring Ball on Saturday, according to The Gazette, upset over the county’s decision to remove police effects bargaining rights.
The Spring Ball, held at the Bethesda North Conference Center, serves as a major fundraiser for the party. The protest also included a boycott that drew support from some big political names: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, State Sen. Brian Frosh, Del. Bill Frick, County Executive candidate Doug Duncan and others.
The AFL-CIO Metro Council organized the protest. Union leaders said the boycott centered on the county’s decision to revoke effects bargaining rights from its police union, but was also a criticism of the party for what they say is a move away from Democratic values.
The county police union wanted to remain the only police union in the state with bargaining rights over administrative issues such as the use of email, equipment turn-in, rules for raids and video systems in police cars. That touched off a spirited campaign both from the county and the union in support and in opposition of Question B before last year’s referendum.
County officials said the repeal of effects bargaining was necessary as the process hindered MCPD Chief Thomas Manger’s ability to make needed and swift administrative moves, thus hurting public safety.
Many of them, including County Councilmember Roger Belriner (D-Bethesda), wrote letters in support of the Central Committee and in opposition to the union protest. From Berliner’s letter, published on Maryland Juice:
Unfortunately, there are some who apparently think there is no room for disagreement within our party and out of blind ideology or fear of retribution, are choosing to boycott tonight’s event and punish our party in the process. I find this to be troubling to say the least. One of the things that makes Montgomery County so special is that we are one of the most well-educated communities in the country. We are a thinking, discerning community and wherever that is true, you will find thoughtful disagreement even amongst the most ideologically aligned individuals. And that is something we should embrace, not shun or punish.
The moment we become the party of blind obedience – to any one constituency or stakeholder group – is the day we lose our integrity as a party. As in most things in life, good, thoughtful people can disagree. But at the end of the day, our precinct officials overwhelmingly supported the legislative actions of a unanimous Council and the electorate weighed in similarly. Let us move on.
The Gazette reported the boycott meant 340 attendees at the Spring Ball instead of an expected 400 and a $10,000 to $15,000 loss in fundraising for the party.
Flickr photo via Stephen D. Melkisethian
Heather Dlholopolsky, a land use lawyer and member of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce Board, wil chair the Task Force.
The Chevy Chase Land Company’s Miti Figueredo, a former County Council and Executive branch staff member, will be on the Task Force. So will Bethesda land-use attorney Erica Leatham, Bethesda Row marketing rep Vanessa Rodriguez and Tommy Joe’s bar and restaurant owner Alan Pohoryles.
County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At large) has said the county must improve nightlife in part to pursue milennials who are increasingly headed to neighboring jurisdictions to live and work. Riemer will be a non-voting member of the Task Force along with Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin and Nancy Floreen.
Leggett said the Task Force will seek to answer the following questions by November. Its first meeting is May 20:
What kind of mix of business, entertainment and arts would make a vibrant and attractive urban center?
How do we attract businesses in defined geographic areas that appeal to multiple generations?
What are the national trends and models on nighttime economy?
How do we develop local models to enhance the County’s nighttime offerings in its urban centers?
Leggett said the initiative’s first phase will focus on Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, Germantown and Wheaton.
“This initiative reflects my vision for a 21st century Montgomery that is innovation-driven, transit-friendly, connected, and multi-generational,” Leggett said in a release. “A thriving nighttime economy is an opportunity to enhance Montgomery’s attractiveness to all generations, businesses and visitors.”
Montgomery County officials think they can avoid the controversies that have threatened food trucks in other places, even as its food truck community grows into a more organized and more prominent alternative to the corner sandwich shop.
Dan Hoffman, Montgomery’s first ever chief innovation officer, is working on a program that would pinpoint locations where food trucks could be successful without interfering with the business of traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Hoffman said the county hopes to identify and input “food truck-friendly” locations into a data set that would be accessible at the county’s Data Montgomery website, with the hope the info would lead to the creation of apps with which food truck operators could reserve space ahead of time or let customers know where they’ll be on a particular day.
“We want to be proactive. We want to create some consistency and some reliability for food trucks,” Hoffman said. “These are small businesses we want to embrace.”
Just not necessarily in areas already populated with restaurants.
Ana Lopez Van Balen, the director of the Mid-County Regional Services Center, is coordinating the Task Force out of the County Executive’s branch. She said the group will likely have its first meeting at the end of May, with members and scope of work being announced over the next few weeks.
Expect Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At large) to be involved. Riemer has taken a lead role in discussions about Montgomery’s need to attract millenials.
Kathie Durbin, the chief of Licensure, Regulation & Education for the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control, will likely also be involved. Durbin is the chair of the Responsible Hospitality Institute, which is holding a summit on improving night-time economies in June in Silver Spring. Riemer has said looking at the county’s alcohol laws will be a focus of the group.
The official announcement from the county yesterday matches up with what DOT’s Sande Brecher told a citizens advisory board last month. Brecher said Portland, Ore.-based vendor Alta Bicycle Share must provide the Bikeshare equipment within a little more than 100 days after signing the contract.
Brecher said it will take four or five months to have the equipment come in, finalize the station locations and put the bikes and equipment down.
She predicted a best-case scenario opening for most downcounty Bikeshare stations by September 21, the official last day of summer.
Specific locations for the estimated 11 Bethesda stations remain undetermined, but will likely end up near the Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center and Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro stations.
“Bikesharing can be a cost-effective, healthy way to provide better transportation connections that reduce the need to drive for short trips, provide efficient links to transit and reduce traffic congestion. Since bikesharing is low-cost and available 24/7, it may be particularly helpful for low-income residents, many of whom hold multiple jobs and try to participate in job training programs,” County Executive Isiah Leggett said in the press release. “We expect the bikeshare program to significantly expand opportunities and improve the quality of life for all our residents.”
The Capital Bikeshare program in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria has been tremendously popular, recently surpassing 2 million rides. Montgomery County officials are hoping for much of the same, though some are concerned about safety.
Last year, Councilmember Nancy Floreen (D-At large) asked the State Highway Administration to consider bike lanes and bike markings in repaving and road improvement projects.
Older residents have expressed concern about the effects a new group of potentially inexperienced cyclists will have on pedestrian safety.
Flickr photo by James D. Schwartz
For the first time in four years, Montgomery County employees will get a pay raise after the County Council today approved County Executive Isiah Leggett’s negotiated $32 million in increases for FY14.
The lone dissenting vote was from Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg) who argued Leggett’s agreed upon increases with the County’s three employee unions were too large.
Leggett negotiated a 3.25 percent cost-of-living increase that will come in September. Police officers will get a 2.1 percent increase and career firefighters will get a 2.75 percent increase in July.
Eligible employees will get step increases of 3.5 percent on their anniversary date.
From Andrews’ statement:
County employees deserve a pay raise after three years without a step increase and four years without a general wage adjustment, and I support (and proposed in March) a reasonable and sustainable increase in pay of 4-6 percent for county employees for each of the next two years. However, the pay raises of 13.5 percent over two years for most non-public safety county employees; 14.7 percent over two years for most police officers, and 19.5 percent over two years for most career firefighters agreed to by County Executive Leggett and the County Council are excessive, irresponsible and unsustainable. These pay raises will cost taxpayers $31 million in FY14, $73 million in FY15, and $85 million in FY16.
Leggett argued that after four years of holding the line during the Great Recession, county employees deserved the raise:
Our cost cutting efforts were necessary, but they called for great sacrifice from County employees. Over the past four years, the average County employee has contributed over $30,000 to help close $2.7 billion in budgetary gaps. Based on the actions already taken, each employee will continue to contribute up to $6,500 a year well into the future.
The County Council agreed.
Montgomery County will host a two-day conference in June on creating night-time economies, after it was announced earlier this year the county would be taking a more detailed look at creating nightlife to attract younger residents.
The Sociable City Leadership Summit 2013 will come to the Silver Spring Civic Building on June 24 and June 25 to present strategies and case studies for improving nightlife, offer training on how to manage and police nightlife and a to take a late-night tour of the host city.
The event, from the California-based Responsible Hospitality Institute, looks at how local governments can tailor alcohol policies, provide transportation and manage crowds to create more business for hotels, restaurants, clubs and other businesses with late-night functions.
Kathie Durbin, the chief of Licensure, Regulation & Education for the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control, is the chair of RHI’s Board of Directors. RHI partnered with the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and the County Department of Liquor Control in 2011 for an area-wide study of nightlife trends.
For more information, visit the conference website.
The DLC does 400 compliance checks a year by sending out trained volunteers younger than 20 to area establishments with only their legitimate, state-issued vertical driver licenses.
People 21 and older have horizontal driver licenses, yet the DLC found the teens were able to purchase alcohol about a quarter of the time in recent checks.
The under-20 volunteers can’t have facial hair, wear excessive makeup or hats or talk on the phone while making the purchase.
In about a third of those underage sales, a server asked for and looked at the teen’s under-21 drivers license, then still sold alcohol to the teen, the DLC said.
To try to combat that, the DLC, Montgomery County Police and Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce are holding an educational program for staff at local bars and restaurants. The free ALERT (Alcohol Law Education and Regulatory Training) class is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Service Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).
“The compliance rate has remained fairly steady within the last few years,” said DLC Division Chief Kathie Durbin, herself a former Bethesda bartender, in a press release. “We are continually striving for increased compliance. The Department is measured on the program’s pass rate.”
The class is open to all county liquor licensees and their staff. Bartenders and other alcohol sellers are taught to ID anyone who looks younger than 35. Pre-registration is required. To register or to get more information, contact the DLC Outreach office at 240-777-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.