July 10, 2010

Rockville water restrictions extended

ROCKVILLE - The City of Rockville has again extended the mandatory water restrictions that have been in place since Wednesday night, through noon Sunday. The water main that burst Wednesday was repaired at 12:30 a.m. Friday, but repair crews found another leak while putting the line back in service and are assessing the situation. The mandatory water restrictions will remain in place through noon Sunday. The Rockville Swim and Fitness Center has been open with the exception of the outdoor sprayground and indoor spa (whirlpool, hot tub). Until restrictions have been lifted, the center is not permitted to refill any of the swimming pools. The outdoor sprayground will not operate until restrictions have been lifted.

The city system supplies water to 13,445 homes in Rockville. WSSC customers are not affected by the restrictions. The 24-inch water main pipe burst around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, producing a spectacular water geyser estimated at 70 to 120 feet at times. Repairs were completed at 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to the city. The pipe serves as the only water main connecting Rockville's water treatment plant and the distribution system. Currently, Rockville is receiving supplemental water from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC).

The City's three water tanks are operating at normal capacity. Rockville continues to ask its water customers to: Stop all outside water use, including watering lawns or gardens, washing cars and topping off swimming pools

Use water only as necessary Limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use)
Limit using washing machines and dishwashers (wash full loads only)

To learn more go to www.rockvillemd.gov. And rockvillemd.gov/swimcenter for up-to-date information. SOURCE: WJLA

JACKPOT: Transgender seeks $5 million from Montgomery County

A Montgomery County man who has made a physical change to the opposite gender has filed a lawsuit against his Maryland county for reaping "emotional distress." The Maryland province gained national attention when it passed an ordinance protecting transgendered people, meaning a man who says he is a woman can use public facilities reserved for females -- restrooms, for example.

Wayne Beyer, who now goes by the name "Dana Beyer," is a transgendered individual who serves as policy advisor to Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg. He has now brought suit against the county. Michelle Turner, spokesperson for Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government (CRG), tells OneNewsNow the lawsuit is designed to muddy the water over an investigation.

"The original complaint filed with Montgomery County had to do with Dana Byer's interference with a petition drive where 'she' attempted to prevent citizens of Montgomery County from learning about the petition as our groups were set up in various areas around the county," Turner explains.

The purpose of the petition drive, Turner explains, was to give voters a chance to decide whether they wanted special rights for transgendered people. "As a result, a complaint was filed through the ethics department here in Montgomery County, and they investigated [and] found that there was interference on 'her' part as a senior aid to Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg," the CRG spokesperson reports. Both claim "legislative privilege" and have refused to answer questions from the ethics department.

Beyer is now running for a position on the county council and claims harassment over his new gender in his lawsuit. He is asking for $4 million for "emotional distress" and $1 million in economic damages caused by the probe. SOURCE: One News Now

Dana Beyer, a senior aide to Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg, and a member of Hillary Clinton's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Steering Committee, is seen via cell phone video falsely telling petition collectors and would-be signers they would be asked to leave a Giant food store's sidewalk, saying "An email went out; you're going to be asked to leave. Any petitions gathered today are illegal." SOURCE: YouTube

Metro to re-route Blue Line

Metro is planning a major change in service patterns next summer to alleviate congestion in northern Virginia. The change would reroute a third of blue line trains along the yellow line bridge, crossing the Potomac River and up to Greenbelt along the green line. Three trains also would be added each peak travel hour between West Falls Church and Largo Town Center to relieve crowding on the orange line. The shift aims to accommodate evolving Metro ridership patterns and prepare for service to Dulles International Airport. The change would mean more frequent service to about 15,000 riders and make better use of the yellow line bridge. However, thousands of riders traveling from stations south of the Pentagon on the blue line would have longer rides.

July 9, 2010

Montgomery County's Lynda Carter Altman's dog is a winner

WASHINGTON — The actress who played Wonder Woman on TV in the 1970s has deflected a charge that she allowed her dog's barking to disturb neighbors in an upscale Maryland community outside Washington. A Montgomery County District Court judge found Lynda Carter Altman not guilty last week of the municipal infraction. Neighbor Chrissellene Petropoulos says she was disturbed at all hours by barking from Altman's Labrador retriever. Petropoulos said she tried calling and e-mailing Altman to ask her to bring her dog inside, and eventually called animal services. The acting Montgomery County attorney says his office took the issue to court after an animal services officer issued a barking dog citation based on Petropoulos' complaint. Altman's attorney the case was dismissed because there wasn't sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. SOURCE: Associated Press

County Executive challenger to Leggett speaks out

By Paige L. Hill in The Sentinel

Daniel Vovak won't shy away from a challenge. The 38-year-old Republican is running for the office of Montgomery County executive against incumbent Isiah "Ike" Leggett, who has more than 30 years of county government experience. But Vovak said he is confident.

"Not one person has told me I can't win this thing," Vovak said. "The important thing to understand about me is that I'm a Republican who works with the Democrats; I actually take most of my political advice from Democrats."

Vovak currently works as a writer and film producer out of his home in Bethesda. He said he decided to run for county executive when he saw the police and fire unions getting the short end of the stick in the fiscal year 2010 budget which left Montgomery County with a $1 billion deficit.

"I hold no personal resentment against Ike, but I know that he lied to the unions, and they need a government they can trust," said Vovak, who calls himself a "union guy." "He said he wasn't going to cut those budgets - he did, and they are taking furloughs," Vovak said.

As the recession gobbled up county revenue, Leggett's years as county executive have seen him closing roughly $2.3 billion in budget gaps by freezing salaries for police officers, firefighters and other public employees, by eliminating almost 1,100 jobs and by implementing new taxes like the recent energy tax.

"If Montgomery County wasn't looking at a $1 billion deficit, a Republican wouldn't have a chance, but the environment is ripe for a new voice," Vovak said. "I've never wasted a billion dollars. I don't know what that feels like, but I do know what it feels like being a resident in a county that has done that."

Vovak said he is confident Service Employees International Union and the Parks Police will endorse him for the position.

"We have not made a decision on endorsements for that race, it is a member driven process that can take a little time we hope to have it wrapped up toward the end of the month," said SEIU spokeswoman Anna Oman.

But one union Vovak said he does not expect an endorsement from is the teacher's union.

"Just like the U.S. Military is a drain on the economy, so is the school system," said Vovak, referring to the roughly 57 percent of the county's budget that goes to the education system. "We have an administrator running the system instead of a school board, and we are seeing some bad behavior."

Vovak called out Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendant of Jerry Weast for suing the county when the budget did not reflect what he schools had hoped for.

"Can you imagine the U.S. Navy suing the U.S. Congress because they don't have enough money?" said Vovak, calling the current environment a crisis between the three branches of government, with the executive and legislative branches acting as one.

"I find it laughable that the council is blaming Ike and vice versa," Vovak said. "They are both at fault, and I would feel better if they were presenting a united front."

Vovak cited the second crisis as a problem of transparency.

"As county executive, I will be open and honest," Vovak said. "A firefighter told me that he thought they were closer with Leggett after 20 years and that he was disappointed he didn't have the decency to tell them when the budget was collapsing - Leggett is directly ignoring that the president asked us to be a transparent government."

Vovak asked Councilman Mike Knapp (D-Dist. 2) - who announced publically last month that he would not run for reelection in November - to come on as his senior chief administration officer. Knapp declined to comment at this time on the offer. "We've got smart people living here, be it Republicans or Democrats, and they deserve a person who will be honest with them," Vovak said. SOURCE: Sentinel

After raising taxes, Montgomery County keeps AAA bond rating

Montgomery County's fiscal future is stable — at least for now, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said Wednesday. The county has maintained its AAA bond rating, and one rating agency that placed the county on a "watch list" in April moved the county to the "stable outlook category."

The AAA bond rating, which is considered the gold standard, determines the rate at which the county borrows money to pay for capital projects. The county will competitively bid $325 million in general obligation bonds Thursday to pay for items such as school construction.

Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch all maintained their AAA ratings for the county's general obligation bonds. Moody's rating, which was most in jeopardy, was received Wednesday. In an announcement Wednesday, Leggett credited the rating to his more conservative fiscal approach that the council adopted last week, and a commitment to increase reserves from 6 percent of the county's general fund to 10 percent in the next nine years.

Council President Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, who first recommended that the council adopt a six-year fiscal plan for the county, said the plan also adopted by the council last week will put the county on steadier financial ground.

"The council has never done that before," Floreen said of the plan.

Leggett said the plan, the more conservative fiscal policies and the commitment to bolster the county's reserve fund should help the county in fiscal 2012. The county filled a $1 billion budget deficit in fiscal 2011. Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At large) of North Bethesda, who chairs the council's Management and Fiscal Policy Committee, said Wednesday that the council responded to concerns from residents and bond rating agencies that the county needed a more responsible spending plan.

"(The) clock has finally run out on the thought that government can spend without consequence or make budget policy without discipline," she said. SOURCE: Gazette

Metro returns pulled cars to service

WASHINGTON - Metro says 12 of the 100 rail cars pulled from service last week have returned to the rails. Metro Assistant General Manager David Kubicek told the Metro board's Customer Service, Operations and Safety Committee on Thursday that the move was prompted by concerns raised about the risk that doors on 4,000-series rail cars could open while trains were in motion. He says the step wasn't prompted by a specific incident, but Metro was able to simulate such an incident in a railyard test. Kubicek says six cars are being checked and returned to service each day and the job should be complete by the end of the month. Metro's rail fleet consists of 1,120 rail cars. About 850 are used during a typical weekday rush hour. SOURCE: FOX DC

Lebron James humiliates Cleveland, burning his future

CLEVELAND - Humiliated and heartbroken, the fans in Cleveland turned their backs on LeBron James as suddenly as he had abandoned them for the Miami Heat on national television. They tore his once-beloved No. 23 jersey off their backs and set them on fire. They threw rocks at a 10-story-tall billboard that features James with his head tossed back, arms pointing skyward. The billboard has come to define this city and its all-consuming reverence for the man they called The King: "We Are All Witnesses," it says.

Not anymore. Across the street from Quicken Loans Arena, men gathered around the bar at Harry Buffalo's buried their heads in their hands. When they looked up, their eyes were wet with tears.

"Turn it off," someone yelled.

Some fans tried to console Earl Mauldin, who was slumped over the bar hiding his face.

"I think it was a slap in the face to this city, who had supported him and been behind him since he was in high school," said Mauldin, who looked disgusted. "To go on national TV and spit in our face like that is very, very, very wrong."

James has given people here something to root for, a modicum of proof that Cleveland can rise above the mess it's found itself in during a very lousy decade. The foreclosure crisis. The economic collapse. The dying auto industry. Through it all, this city has had one thing nobody else could touch: LeBron James, homegrown hero, global superstar. Now that's all over with. And the thing fans can't seem to reconcile is the very public way in which they were unceremoniously dumped.

"He kept us in the dark all the way up till the end," said Gary Hunter, who came to watch the announcement at Harry Buffalo's. "What do we look like, begging somebody to stay for us? If you're gonna be here, you're gonna be here. But if you're not, then just be gone. But you could've given us the decency of letting us know before you let the national media know. And the world."

At a shopping area in suburban Westlake, a loud "No" was heard the moment after James said on ESPN that he was going to South Beach. Hundreds of people who had clamored to see the announcement turned their backs and headed home in droves.

"I'm really stunned, I never thought he'd leave," said 15-year-old Tom Sheehan of Westlake, who like many Clevelanders wore a James jersey as he watched the announcement. "It's like we just lost a championship on the final shot at the buzzer."

James' rejection was all the more stinging after weeks in which Clevelanders pulled out all the stops to try and keep him here. They penned songs about The King and danced in shopping malls in his honor. When he met with the teams trying to woo him last week, faithful fans stood outside holding signs bearing one simple word: "Home." Now they're wondering: Was it all in vain? Was his mind made up weeks ago? In a scathing open letter to fans sent late Thursday, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert seemed to think so.

"You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal," Gilbert told fans. "You have given so much and deserve so much more."

Bars teeming with exuberant crowds emptied out quickly. Owners watched anxiously, wondering what the future might hold now that James is gone. His presence has helped them keep going during Cleveland's bitterly cold winter months.

"I hope Mr. Gilbert has a good plan set up," said Frank Borally, owner of the Purple Shamrock bar, which had promised to pick up patrons' food tabs if James had chosen to stay with the Cavs. "But we need a miracle." In Berea, at a bar about a half mile from the Cleveland Browns' training camp, fans in Browns jerseys were asked if what James did is worse than Art Modell, who took his Browns franchise to Baltimore in 1995.

"No way. LeBron did us a favor," said Fred Sczerpak of Berea. "He's a loser. He turned his back on us and good riddance."

At Harry Buffalo's, fans had painted "STAY LBJ" in white lettering on the second-floor windows, and the sidewalk was adorned with cardboard cutouts of James dunking. Fans had scrawled pleas on the sidewalk in chalk: "We will always love LBJ, but we'll love you more if you stay." What remains to be seen is how badly his departure will hurt the city's economy. Each home game during the regular season nets about $3.7 million, including ticket sales, souvenirs, food and hotel bookings, said Tamera Brown, vice president of marketing for Positively Cleveland, a convention and visitors bureau that promotes city tourism. Multiplied by 41 home games, that's more than $150 million.

Obviously, much of that will stay in town even if James leaves. How much depends largely on how well the Cavaliers perform, but James has his own special fan base because of his two-time MVP status and his roots in nearby Akron. But it's too soon to think about next season. For the moment, people who grew up adoring James are trying to come to grips with the loss of their star.

"If you decided that you wanted to go to play in Miami," Mauldin said, shaking his head, "you could've did it in private."

Mosquito business in demand in Montgomery County

Despite recent dry weather, Mosquito Squad franchises in Frederick and Montgomery counties are still receiving customer calls, owners say. That's because while mosquitoes depend on standing water to breed, some also thrive simply when the temperature soars.

"Studies have shown that a particular breed of mosquito known as the Asian tiger mosquito, which can be found in many neighborhood backyards in and around Frederick, reproduce more quickly as the temperature increases," said Larry Johnson, who owns the Mosquito Squad of Frederick franchise with Maria Johnson.

First discovered in the state at a used-tire processing plant in Baltimore city in 1987, the tiger mosquito now is found in most Maryland counties, according to the state Department of Agriculture. It is believed to have spread from Asia to the U.S. through the international trade of used tires, state officials say. Susan Levi of Rockville, owner of the Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery County, said the heat can be a mixed blessing. Her franchise covers Germantown, Clarksburg, part of Rockville and other areas.

"We're seeing a lot more Asian tiger mosquitoes as the temperatures rise," Levi said. "But people tend to stay indoors more when it's so hot, so they might not be noticing the mosquitoes as much."

Mosquitoes lay eggs that will hatch when it's wetter, said Johnson, whose franchise also covers Hagerstown. "That makes this an ideal time for somebody to call us and find out how we can help," he said. Johnson and Levi both began their businesses, which also target ticks, this year. SOURCE: Gazette

July 8, 2010

Russian spy (swap) case is about to be solved

Ten people whose U.S. arrests were announced by federal authorities a week ago and an 11th person, who was released on bail by a court in Cyprus and is a fugitive, were formally charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. The indictment charged all of them with conspiring to act as secret agents and charged nine of them with conspiracy to commit money laundering. It demanded that those accused of money laundering return any assets used in the offense. Attorney Robert Baum, who represents defendant Anna Chapman, said late Wednesday the case might be settled when she and the other nine people arrested in the United States appear for arraignment on the indictment, raising the possibility of guilty pleas to the lowest charges and deportation from the country.

"There's a good possibility that the case will be resolved at the initial court appearance tomorrow," he said Wednesday.

Chapman, a Manhattan resident branded a femme fatale in tabloid newspaper stories, and the other arrested defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

The indictment, a charging document that can be used at trial, contains far fewer details of the alleged crimes than were in two criminal complaints filed last week. Robert J. Krakow, an attorney for defendant Juan Lazaro, said Wednesday, "Of certain events tomorrow that might occur, the fact the indictment is minimal makes perfect sense. This is a crazy situation." Prosecutors released a copy of the indictment as federal judges in Boston and Alexandria (web | news) , Va., signed orders directing that five defendants arrested in Massachusetts and Virginia be transferred to New York. All were charged in Manhattan and had to be taken there eventually.

The legal developments came amid reports that American officials were meeting with the Russian ambassador in Washington, D.C., and a claim by the brother of a convicted spy in Russia that his brother has been told he will be swapped for Russians arrested in the United States.

Janice Oh, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on speculation about a spy swap.

Another water main break in Potomac

POTOMAC, Md. - For the second time in less than a week, big time problems have occurred with a water main. A massive water main broke in Potomac, sending water spewing into the sky. Now emergency water restrictions are in place, this time for the city of Rockville. It comes on the heels of repairs to an eight-foot pipe for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which forced water restrictions in a two county area.

The geyser blew full blast for more than six hours before the water died down to just a bubble. Repair crews stood by waiting for the water to be cut off. The water pressure is so high, they have to do it slowly and only then can crews begin repairs. The water gushed like old faithful from the 24-inch pipe, with a geyser higher than the tallest tree.

"I have no idea what happened,” said Mesfin Ayenew, who lives in the neighborhood. “I thought some explosion took place here.”

It spewed water onto South Glen Road non-stop for hours, perhaps as much as two million gallons.

"I think it's pretty incredible and scary," said Jennifer Malamut, who came to watch with her two sons. It was not so scary for her seven-year-old Vaughn, who said "I think it's pretty amazing."

The 52-year old water main belongs to the city of Rockville but initial calls went to WSSC, creating more than a two hour delay. But the water main break did not disrupt water service. Instead, WSSC rerouted water to Rockville to keep the city's service flowing.

“This is the main transmission line, the main, one and only transmission main that goes from our water treatment plant to our distribution system,” said Craig Simoneau, Rockville’s Director of Public Works who was heading up repair efforts. “So without this pipe, we can't produce and deliver water to our system.”

The water flooded one yard and created a river running down the street into a creek. A few guys grabbed their boogie boards figuring they would never get a chance like this again.

Stern for Congress Hosts Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, 7/13

The STERN FOR CONGRESS 2010 Campaign is hosting an ice cream social on TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2010 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the WESTLEIGH RECREATION CLUB, The Club is located at 14900 Dufief Mill Drive, North Potomac, Maryland. Come meet Bruce and fellow Stern for Congress supporters in a relaxed environment while enjoying a selection of ice cream treats. Requested minimum contribution is $40.00 per family. We hope to see you there! RSVP and more information: info@sternforcongress.com.

Council and Leggett butt heads on days off

About 9,000 Montgomery County government employees should receive more time off next year, according to top members of County Executive Ike Leggett's administration. Executive officials say nonunion workers should receive 26 more paid hours away from office next year, joining union members who are slated to get more time off under a bargaining agreement. The county's unionized firefighters would get up to 48 additional hours off next year, and police and municipal union members another 26 hours, under negotiations approved by Leggett, The Washington Examiner first reported.

Leggett contends the expansion of leave is needed to offset salary freezes and cost-of-living increases that won't be awarded to employees, but some County Council members -- who must approve the measure -- are bristling at the proposal. "I'm not in any mood after what we just went through in the budget to be granting more benefits," said Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, D-Silver Spring. "We say one thing and do another. This is not going to be one of those times."

County residents will pay an estimated $250 in new taxes this fiscal year, and two dozen employees were laid off and more than 200 positions eliminated in filling a $1 billion budget gap. Administration officials say the measure won't have a fiscal effect, as it can't be cashed out. However, critics argue employees will use the new leave days in place of already awarded time off -- which will lead to a buildup of vacation days the county must eventually pay off.

"The problem is the county can't afford to take on any additional pay obligations," said Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg/Rockville. "There is no justification for taking this on."

CountyStat, Montgomery's oversight program, found that a 1 percent increase in worker availability would net the equivalent of nearly 100 additional workers. All nonschool employees will take between three and eight days of furloughs this fiscal year, depending on their paychecks. School officials are not affected by the leave agreement. A County Council committee will review the bargaining agreements Monday. It is expected to scrutinize a contract provision with firefighters calling for the elimination of random drug testing and another, with police officers, who would be eligible for $135,000 in tuition assistance funding in fiscal 2012. SOURCE: Washington Examiner

Metrobus was out of control

A truck driver was hospitalized Wednesday after being struck by a Metrobus that careened across several lanes of traffic. The driver was charged with failure to control speed to avoid collision -- a $130 fine and three points on the driver's license -- for the incident on Colesville Road in Silver Spring, Md. The bus ended up on someone's lawn, stopping after slamming into a wall that lines a driveway. The bus driver was not injured, and the bus was not in service so there were no passengers aboard. SOURCE: NBC Washington

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

Montgomery County is for sale for $325 million in bonds

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Montgomery County, Maryland’s most- populous and one of about 60 top-rated counties in the U.S., will borrow $325 million after being removed from a watchlist for potential credit downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service. The suburb of Washington, D.C., home to the National Institutes of Science and other federal offices, was put on review for a possible rating cut after the recession reduced tax revenue, forcing it to tap reserves, Moody’s said April 5. The county’s main account, the general fund, shrank by more than half to $108 million in June 2009 from a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Moody’s took the county off review and affirmed its rating of Aaa last night, according to John Cline, Moody’s spokesman.

The potential downgrade hadn’t stopped Montgomery County’s general-obligation debt from trading at a lower yield than Maryland’s AAA rated obligations, Bloomberg data show. The county’s tax-exempt bonds due in 2020 were priced to yield 3.15 percent, 17 basis points below a comparable state bond. The spread fell to 4 basis points yesterday, according to Bloomberg data. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point. Montgomery County is “going to do very well” in pricing tomorrow, said Anthony Shields, a principal in the public- finance department at Williams Capital Group in New York. “It’s a great credit, it’s a high-grade, and there’s a big appetite for tax-exempts.”

Fitch Ratings also assigned the county’s bonds its highest ranking, citing a “formidable economic base” in a July 2 report. Montgomery County, with a 2009 population of about 972,000, is one of 63 counties with a top rating, according to Fitch. The U.S. Census recognizes 3,141 counties in the nation.

‘Best News’

“We got the best news imaginable today,” Jennifer Barrett, the county’s director of finance, said of Moody’s decision. The county used “increases in energy and cell-phone taxes, along with extensive expenditure reductions and employee furloughs” to address Moody’s earlier credit concerns, Barrett said.

In addition to $195 million in tax-exempts maturing serially from 2011 through 2022, the county will offer about $106 million in traditional municipals, taxable Build America Bonds or a combination of the two, based on underwriter bids, Barrett said.

Another $24 million will be sold as taxable Recovery Zone Economic Development bonds, which offer issuers a 45 percent federal subsidy, preliminary offering documents show. “The $106 million looks BAB-ish,” Shields said of the tranche, which matures serially from 2023 to 2030. “Short-term is going to be retail-oriented, tax-exempt, and the longer stuff will be BABs.”

Prior Maryland Sale Maryland last sold Build America Bonds in February before the U.S. Treasury trimmed a federal subsidy payment by about $7,000 for money the state owed on other programs. So-called offset risk and the uncertain future of the Build America program, which is awaiting extension by Congress, weren’t factors in Montgomery County’s willingness to issue subsidized debt, Barrett said.

Build America Bonds, created last year as part of the economic stimulus program, are the fastest-growing part of the $2.8 trillion municipal market. Issuers are eligible for a 35 percent subsidy on interest costs from the U.S. Treasury. About $118 billion of the securities have been sold, Bloomberg data show.

BABs Extension The program is set to expire in December. A two-year extension is included in a Senate bill awaiting action. Passed by the House of Representatives May 28, the provision would cut federal subsidies to 32 percent in 2011 and 30 percent in 2012. “We were mindful of the issues, but the savings are very attractive,” Barrett said.

Montgomery County sold taxable Build Americas in November, with securities maturing in 20 years priced to yield 5.45 percent, 117 basis points above a Treasury due in 2030, according to Bloomberg data. The same obligations traded on April 7 for an average yield of 5.42 percent, 73 basis points above the benchmark. Yields on 10-year, top-rated debt fell 3 basis points yesterday to 2.99 percent, the lowest since Dec. 9, according to Concord, Massachusetts-based Municipal Market Advisors. The 10 consecutive days of decline equal the longest such streak since July 2008, MMA data show.

--With assistance from Dunstan McNichol in Trenton, New Jersey, and William Selway in Washington. Editors: Walid el-Gabry, Mark Schoifet

To contact the reporters on this story: Brendan A. McGrail in New York at bmcgrail@bloomberg.net; Justin Doom in New York at jdoom@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net SOURCE: Business Week

Montgomery County residents without electric power, after outage

July 7, 2010

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County receives $10,000 Donation from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation

MILWAUKEE, WI (July 7, 2010) – Rebuilding Together Montgomery County is receiving a $10,000 grant from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation in recognition of financial representative Robert P. Quinn, CLU, CLTC’s outstanding volunteer involvement as part of the company’s 16th annual national Community Service Award program. A Kensington resident, Quinn is a representative with The Washington Group in Rockville, MD. Quinn is one of 25 financial representatives being recognized as top volunteers. Through the program funded by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, more than $275,000 will be donated this year to various nonprofit organizations nationwide.

“In Rockville and around the country, nonprofit organizations are hungry for exceptional volunteers like Robert to help others reach their full potential,” said Kimberley Goode, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “Robert’s passion for volunteerism and commitment to strengthening the community is making a difference now and for future generations.”

Quinn will be presented with the Community Service Award during Northwestern Mutual’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at the company’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“I am extremely passionate about Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, a nonprofit volunteer organization that is dedicated to helping low-income homeowners in Montgomery County through home renovations and repairs,” said Quinn. “The money from this award will go a long way toward buying critical supplies to fix up peoples’ homes.”

The Community Service Award program is open to more than 9,000 Northwestern Mutual financial representatives and assistant financial representatives, recognizing their individual dedication to charitable organizations and philanthropic projects. Since the program’s inception, over $3 million has been contributed to more than 300 non-profit organizations throughout the country.

About the Northwestern Mutual Foundation The mission of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is to build strong, vibrant communities that serve as a legacy to future generations. The Foundation’s giving is designed to create an impact on the communities where the company’s employees and financial representatives live and work. In fiscal year 2009, the Foundation contributed more than $15 million to nonprofit organizations across the country.

About Northwestern Mutual The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company – Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual) – the industry leader in total individual life insurance, long-term care insurance, and disability insurance dividends paid to participating policyowners – has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 150 years. Though dividends are not guaranteed, are reviewed annually and are subject to change, the company has paid life insurance dividends every year since 1872. As a mutual company with over $1.2 trillion of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual seeks to share its gains with policyowners and deliver consistent and dependable value to clients over time. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer a holistic approach to financial security solutions including: life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, limited purpose federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments.

Leggett drops drug testing for fire fighters, offers more time off & tuition assistance

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has agreed to give government employees more paid time off in exchange for forgoing pay raises and other items included their contracts. The renegotiated contracts, which still need approval by the County Council, include other provisions such as the elimination of random drug testing for firefighters and $135,000 in tuition assistance for police, the agreements show. Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At large) of North Bethesda said eliminating random drug and alcohol testing is "not appropriate" — especially for public safety employees.

"And I'm not likely to change my mind about that," she said.

Eliminating the drug testing would save the county about $35,000 annually. Leggett (D) has signed off on the renegotiated provisions. Leggett and the unions had to renegotiate terms after the council struck down pay raises and other items included in union contracts. A council committee will take up the new contracts Monday. Members of the county's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 35 would receive an additional 26 hours of paid leave under the agreement. The leave only would be used when it would not require the county to pay other employees overtime.

The police agreement, which had not yet been ratified by union members as of Tuesday, also calls for tuition assistance money beginning in fiscal 2012, according to Joseph Adler, the head of the county's Office of Human Resources. The program, which pays for county government employees to enroll in college courses and approved training programs for free, was discontinued in fiscal 2011 after it was revealed that some police officers were using tuition assistance money to pay for a program that offered deeply discounted weapons to those who enrolled.

The preliminary agreement caps tuition assistance spending among police at $135,000. Police previously had no limit on the amount of tuition assistance money they could receive.

"I think there's a real question of equity there," Trachtenberg said.

Renegotiated contracts for police officers are the only ones that provide for tuition assistance funding. FOP President Marc Zifcak said $135,000 is about the amount that members typically use to attend the courses they should be taking. Spending on the program only grew because the county's Office of Human Resources was approving courses that should have been denied. The FOP's preliminary agreement includes clarifying language specifying that the training courses must be taken at accredited colleges or universities or be chosen from an approved list of courses.

Zifcak said the FOP was under the impression since the program's start that only college courses were to be approved. Under Leggett's new agreement with members of the Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Association, IAFF, Local 1664, AFL-CIO, some employees who did not receive step increases or cost-of-living pay increases will be given 48 hours of paid leave, and others will get a prorated number of hours of compensatory leave based on how many hours employees work in a year, the agreement states.

The agreement also abolishes random alcohol and drug testing that was to begin in fiscal 2011, which began July 1. The agreement states that firefighters will not be randomly tested in either fiscal 2011 or fiscal 2012. Adler said firefighters were granted more paid leave because their work days are typically 24 hours. Firefighters and emergency services personnel still could be tested for drugs and alcohol if they were suspected of being under the influence, he said. The provision only bans random testing. IAFF President John Sparks did not return a call for comment Tuesday. SOURCE: Gazette

Lawmakers want long-distance flights at Reagan National

Montgomery County Democrats with either no primary or general election opponents

Here are the incumbents in MoCo who either face no Democratic opponent or no opponent at all. NOTE: There are no elected Republicans in Montgomery County.

No Democratic Opponent

County Executive Ike Leggett (NOTE: Daniel Vovak is running against him)
Council Member Phil Andrews (D-3)
Council Member Nancy Navarro (D-4)
Council Member Valerie Ervin (D-5)
Senator Brian Frosh (D-16)
Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17)
Delegate Jim Gilchrist (D-17)
Delegate Luiz Simmons (D-17)

No Opponent at All

State’s Attorney John McCarthy
Clerk of the Circuit Court Loretta Knight
Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15)
Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20)

THANKS: Maryland Politics Watch

OBVIOUS: RNC confirms Michael Steele will remain chairman

Despite numerous calls for his resignation over comments made criticizing the war effort in Afghanistan, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will not step down, RNC spokesman Doug Heye confirmed Tuesday. Steele will stay on as the head of the committee amid criticism from Senate Republicans who took to the airwaves over the weekend to condemn his comments that the war in Afghanistan could not be won. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appeared on the Sunday talk shows to discuss the chairman’s fate as leader of the Republican Party. Appearing on ABC’s This Week on a live feed from Kabul, McCain called Steele’s comments “wildly inaccurate” but stopped short of saying he should resign.

“[Steele] is going to have to assess as to whether he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee and make an appropriate decision,” McCain said.

While traveling with McCain in Afghanistan, Graham called Steele’s remarks an “uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely comment” during an interview with Face the Nation on CBS.

“This is not President Obama’s war; this is America’s war,” he said.

On Fox News Sunday, DeMint echoed Graham’s comments about the war not being the sole responsibility of President Obama, and said Steele must apologize and get back to focusing on his job: getting Republicans elected.

“He needs to refocus on electing candidates who can stop this rampage of spending and debt in Washington — whether or not he resigns is up to other people than me, but I need to see him focus on this November election,” he said.

Although a number of influential conservatives have called for the chairman to step down, including Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and former deputy assistant secretary of state Elizabeth Cheney, only one member of Congress has taken that step. Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, called Steele’s remarks “totally unacceptable” and called on the RNC chairman to “apologize and resign.”

“He undercut American forces fighting in the field, politicized further a war that two presidents of different parties have deemed in the national interest and embarrassed the party he purports to lead,” he said in a statement Monday. “It is time for him to go — quickly.”

But one elected member of Congress, however, took the weekend to defend Steele and his comments about Afghanistan. Texas Republican Ron Paul, former presidential candidate and fierce critic of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said Steele “should not resign” and that his assessment of the situation was correct.

“He is absolutely right — Afghanistan is now Obama’s war,” Paul said in a written statement Sunday. “During the 2008 campaign, Obama was out in front in insisting that more troops be sent to Afghanistan. Obama called for expanding the war even as he pretended to be a peace candidate.” SOURCE: Daily Caller

Corn field is scene of end of bank robbery chase

A Montgomery County police officer shot and critically wounded a bank robbery suspect Tuesday morning in a Damascus cornfield as the suspect drove his car at the officer at the end of a chase, authorities said. Officers were sent to the PNC bank branch in the 26200 block of Ridge Road about 10:30 a.m. to investigate a reported robbery, said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman. Starks said witnesses saw the suspect jump the counter at the bank, grab some cash and flee. Those witnesses, he said, pointed officers in the suspect's direction, and one even followed the suspect briefly in his own vehicle.

Officers spotted the car, a red Toyota Corolla, and chased it. The suspect turned down Bowman Acres Lane, a small street of large, single-family homes that dead-ends at a cornfield, Starks said. The suspect, having no obvious way out, drove up a gravel road and into the cornfield, Starks said. As officers worked amid a cloud of dust to set up a perimeter, the suspect drove at one of them, Starks said, and the officer, who was outside his patrol car, opened fire.

"Officers were trying to set up a perimeter using a good amount of caution," Starks said, remarking that the officers' visibility was obscured by all the dust. "He was trying to run the officer over, allegedly."

Police declined to name the officer or the wounded suspect. It is unclear how many times the suspect was hit. The Corolla traveled out of the cornfield and into a yard across the street, where it came to rest. Starks said the officer fired "multiple" shots, but he wouldn't say how many. The suspect was flown to a nearby hospital in "extremely grave" condition, authorities said. Officers on the scene had to administer CPR, Starks said. The officer who fired, he said, was not struck or injured.

Investigators were searching the car and cornfield Tuesday afternoon. The rear bumper of the Corolla was damaged, and Starks said officers made contact with the bumper during the chase. The aftermath of the chase created an odd scene in the quiet Damascus subdivision. Neighbors said the suspect could not have been from the area or he would have known that there was no escape once he turned down Bowman Acres Lane. One neighbor said it was lucky Tuesday was so hot because children who normally play outside were indoors.

"I think he went down the wrong street, that's for sure," said Dorothy Seder, a resident. "It just dead-ends into the corn." SOURCE: Washington Post

Weather report in DC

Neil Cohen enters U.S. Senate race against Barbara Mikulski

Neil Cohen, A New Voice for Maryland, Announces His Campaign for U.S. Senate Dr. Neil Cohen, a moderate Republican who believes the people of Maryland deserve someone who puts them ahead of the party system, declares his candidacy for U.S. Senate and will be on the ballot in the September primary.

Rockville, Md – July 7, 2010-- Dr. Neil Cohen is a candidate for U. S. Senate in the September primary. A moderate Republican, Dr. Cohen is fired up and ready to go to work on behalf of the people of Maryland to help fix the fiscal and social challenges that confront this nation. A couple days ago, he filed his papers for the September 14th primary.

Why I'm Running

In the 2010 Senate campaign, I will be a real choice for the state's voters who are ready for a positive change. With the deficit exploding and our public debt running into TRILLIONS of dollars, with millions of our fellow citizens unemployed, with the prospect of schools, hospitals and many local public services forced to close or go bankrupt, I believe our current officials spend too much time defending their positions rather than looking for solutions. Unlike my primary opponents, I'm a MODERATE Republican who believes the American people deserve someone who puts their collective interests ahead of the party system.

To get Maryland and the country moving again will take political leadership and cooperation. We will not end partisan bickering if hard-line conservatives continue to argue that the only way forward is to cut out government from our lives, repeal all healthcare legislation and disagree with Democrats on every issue as a matter of principle.

I'm running as a moderate Republican to work with both parties to find the solutions we desperately need. I may not be popular with some of the political hacks in Washington, but they won't be the ones who elect me as their voice in the Senate.

I am Neil Cohen, D.D.S., and I've been practicing dentistry nearly 30 years in Maryland. I live in Rockville with my wife Arlene. We have a son, Sander, a Maryland Deputy Fire Marshall. I'm a graduate of Temple University and a 1977 graduate of Howard University as a Doctor of Dental Surgery.

Contact: Georgio F. Comninos, Public Information Manager
Phone (240)-506-6969
Website: Cohenforsenate.com
Email: neil@cohenforsenate.com

July 6, 2010

Silver Spring lawyer helping Gulf fisherman

Child rescued by lifeguard in Germantown

GERMANTOWN, Md. - It is the time of year when the temperature is hot and the pool is one of the best options for cooling down.

"We decided to come to the pool most of the days, enjoying the water and it’s nice," said one Germantown swimmer.

"It's hot, it's cooling us and it's the best place to be," said another swimmer.

The pool can also be a dangerous place if you are not careful. Kelly Chikes has been a lifeguard at the Williamsburg Square pool in Germantown for two years. On Monday, she noticed a young visitor playing in the water.

"He was playing right over here by the three feet [area of the pool], tossing a ball back and forth," recalled Chikes.

The ball ended up in the deep water and the child went to get it.

"He was just playing around in the water and he kind of went onto his stomach at one point. As lifeguards, we are used to seeing that,” said Chikes.

Kelly says it is a game kids play called "the dead man's float.” She says all the kids do it even though they are not supposed to. The lifeguards blew the whistle once but got no response from the floating child.

"His friend went over and tapped him and he wasn't responding," said Chikes.

Chikes and the other lifeguards blew the whistle three times, jumped into the water, pulled the child out and called EMS.

"We did have to put him in the emergency position to clear the air passageways. We just tilt the victim's head back and check their mouth, make sure there's nothing obstructing the airways,” said Chikes.

The child was taken to the hospital where he is reported to be fine. But it could have been a lot worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says each day, three children in the U.S. die from drowning and another four receive emergency care for nonfatal injuries.

"It's just something that you really have to be constantly vigilant, always looking around scanning. You can see our lifeguards in the chair have the rescue tubes already in their laps. You are just always ready for a save,” said Chikes. SOURCE: FOX DC

Sources: Police Shoot Bank Robbery Suspect After Pursuit

DAMASCUS, Md. - A Montgomery County (web | news) police officer shot and critically wounded a bank robbery suspect following a pursuit in the Damascus area, police sources tell ABC 7 News. It all began with the robbery of a PNC Bank in the 13000 block of Middlebrook Road in Germantown about 9:30 a.m. About an hour later, a PNC Bank in the 26000 block of Ridge Road in Damascus, Maryland, was held up. That robbery produced a lookout for a red Toyota sedan.

At some point, officers spotted a vehicle matching the description and began to pursue it. The Toyota driver turned down a residential street, Bowman Acres Lane, in Damascus, and drove into a cornfield. A witness, neighborhood resident Chris Betts, says he spotted the Toyota "tearing" through the cornfield at about 60 mph. Believing the suspect was trapped, police began to form a perimeter around the field, officials said. That's when the suspect allegedly drove at an officer, who -- in fear for his life -- opened fire. The driver was wounded and crashed into a row of trees. The suspect was flown by Maryland State Police helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where he was said to be in extremely critical condition. Sources said police did not recover a weapon from the vehicle. The investigation remains ongoing. SOURCE: WJLA

Leggett temporarily stops removal of 135 toilets

There will be a place to answer the call of nature in Montgomery County's parks this holiday weekend. The parks department has scuttled -- for now -- a cost-cutting plan to withdraw more than 100 portable toilets. Last week, the department said it would get rid of toilets in the county's 80 parks to save $150,000 annually. But as the new fiscal year began Thursday, a parks spokeswoman said the department had canceled its request to Don's Johns of Chantilly to start removing the toilets.

The potty reprieve may be only temporary, however. Later this summer, parks users still may need to find other options, because the long-term prospects for portable toilets aren't looking very good. An effort by the parks department to get private donors to pick up the tab for the portable toilets -- about $65 a month, per toilet, including a laminated sign recognizing the donor -- isn't doing well. Kelli Holsendolph, parks spokeswoman, said that the agency has received only one check to cover the cost of a portable toilet in Silver Spring's Nolte Park. About 12 others have expressed interest, she said. The plans to get rid of the toilets were shelved because, Holsendolph said, "We are very encouraged by the community support," she said, despite the low number of firm offers so far.

Holsendolph said the county's parks have about 135 portable toilets, including some designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Some parks have permanent restrooms, which are unaffected by the cost-cutting plan. The potty problem drew attention last month after parks chief Mary Bradford pointed out that the approximately $150,000 line item for portable toilet rentals in her agency's budget had been cut as part of $13 million in reductions from the agency's $82 million budget request. Bradford said she had made all the cuts she could -- shrinking spending on such items as fertilizer and mowing; dropping many outside contracts; proposing a furlough plan with unionized employees -- before cutting the budget for portable toilets. Conrad Harrell, vice president of Don's Johns, said he was surprised that Montgomery had made portable toilets a target.

"Every once in a while, someone looks at temporary restrooms, and says, 'They cost money and are an eyesore and we should get rid of them,' " he said. "Then they find out that eliminating them in parks and recreation areas can be a disaster. There are disease transmissions and all sorts of awkward situations of families going to parks [unable to] find a place to go to the restroom.

"Montgomery County -- they have a little bit of money. They ought to be able to take care of this," he said. "Their parks are beautiful." He said Don's Johns expects to be paid for the continued use of the toilets, however long they are in Montgomery's parks.

The potty plan has set off a furor among elected officials, with Jennifer Hughes, a top aide to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) warning Bradford that it would be a "terrible misjudgment" to withdraw the portable toilets from the county's heavily used parks. Hughes said their removal could endanger public health, although there is no explicit requirement in county law for portable toilets in the parks. The cuts to the park system's budget are part of an overall $4.7 billion spending plan in which Montgomery, for the first time in 40 years, actually reduced its budget. Until this year, political battles in Montgomery usually have been waged over the size of budget increases.

But as the county and state faced major revenue shortfalls, Montgomery officials this year began layoffs and unpaid leaves or furloughs in nearly every agency. The $2 billion school system had some layoffs but no furloughs. Besides the parks, other highly visible Montgomery departments are beginning to show the effects of cost cutting. The county library system is the only one in Maryland to opt out of a popular youth summer reading program. The libraries also have cut budgets for new books and have reduced hours of operation.SOURCE: Washington Post

Montgomery County water ban lifted

Water restrictions that were extended amid a blistering heat wave have been lifted for 1.8 million customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission announced Tuesday morning.

“I want to thank our customers who were unavoidably inconvenienced by these water restrictions,” WSSC's general manager, Jerry N. Johnson, said in a statement.

Customers were directed to cut their water use by 30 percent Thursday when a corroded 96-inch water main in Potomac was shut off. The restrictions were expected to be lifted Monday, but they were extended after bacteria were detected in water samples. Tests confirmed the safety of the water Tuesday morning and the pipe was put back into service, WSSC officials said. Johnson said the water limits, imposed as temperatures soared to dangerous highs, were necessary to ensure the safety of the water and to maintain adequate pressure for fighting fires.

“We needed to be proactive to prevent what could have been a very serious situation,” he said. “I know it was a major inconvenience, especially on a holiday weekend.”

Work to restore the site of the pipe replacement will continue for several days, officials said. SOURCE: Washington Post

Roy Hanson, Tribute video

THANKS: Maryland Politics Watch

A tribute to Royce Hanson from M-NCPPC on Vimeo.

Metro has less cars in service, possibly due to baby stroller incident

WASHINGTON - Tuesday morning marked the first rush hour since Metro pulled 100 of its 4,000-series cars out of service, perhaps making things a bit more crowded. Between 60 and 70 4,000-series cars are used on a typical weekday, Metro says. The transit agency warned the cars' removal could impact the rush hours "somewhat", but hopes the shortened workweek will alleviate some of congestion. The transit agency detected problems with the cars' doors and pulled them out of service Friday night. Testing revealed the doors could open while the cars are in motion. [In spite of an incident days earlier when a baby stroller was caught in a door], Metro claims there was no specific incident tied to the cars' removal. Cars will be returned to service as they are repaired. It will take two to three weeks to complete repairs. SOURCE: WJLA

UNBELIEVABLE: Republicans want Michael Steele to resign

July 5, 2010

Montgomery County water repair to likely end Monday

Officials with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said the agency is on track to complete repairs to a water main Monday after technicians worked around the clock to install and secure a new section of pipe. The agency does not plan to extend water restrictions past Monday, and officials said that since the time workers noticed the weak point in the pipe, there had been no reported outages or service disruptions.

"We're doing good," said John White, a WSSC spokesman. "Our reserves are up, and we're full."

Workers spent Sunday welding as well as rewiring fiber-optic cables that monitor corrosion damage to the 96-inch pipe, near Tuckerman Lane and Gainsborough Road in Potomac. The next step, White said, is testing water samples to ensure that no bacterial contaminants had grown in the water. The samples will be evaluated at a WSSC lab in Silver Spring and could take up to 16 hours to be processed. The agency doubts it will find bacteria, because contamination occurs mostly when water pressure is low. The conservation goal WSSC imposed for about 1.8 million customers in Montgomery and Prince George's counties Thursday was aimed at preserving water pressure. By Sunday evening, WSSC had issued 233 warnings for unnecessary outdoor water use and imposed $500 fines on two customers after they had received warnings but ignored them. Officials couldn't disclose whether the customers were washing cars, filling pools or watering lawns.

"The good news is that less water has been used," White said. "Still, not the 30 percent we asked for."

WSSC reported a 14 percent drop in usage since Thursday, and officials said that although customers didn't meet the conservation goal, low water pressure has not been a problem. There has been a steady drop in water usage since the restrictions were imposed. Many residents said they had been unaware of the restrictions. Others, including operators of a plant nursery and garden center in Silver Spring, said they did not intend to comply. WSSC warned customers against unnecessary water use and fined customers who ignored an initial warning and violated restrictions that banned watering lawns, washing cars and topping off swimming pools. Officials said some WSSC customers in Prince George's were unaware that they shared the same water lines as WSSC customers in Montgomery, where the portion of the water main was replaced.

"People sometimes are confused about why a break in Potomac would affect so many people around Prince George's County," said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).

Despite the confusion and inconvenience of water restrictions over the holiday weekend, Leggett said he heard few complaints from county residents. The quick response from WSSC prevented the weakened portion of the water main from escalating into a larger problem for its customers, he said.

"They put a system in place to give us an early warning. It worked," he said. SOURCE: Washington Post

Weather report for Montgomery County

Fireworks in DC

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

Ehrlich enters campaign, discusses LG pick

July 4, 2010

OPINION: Is Metro overreacting to baby stroller story?

If you read the post that follows this story, I have to wonder what the cost was to the Metro system for taking so many trains out of service. Is that an overreaction to the stroller incident in this video? It seems like it is since the trains were removed for an alleged problem identical what happened just hours earlier. The train operator should have stopped the train. SOURCE: Montgomery County Daily

Metro removes every car from service for door inspection

WASHINGTON D.C. - As a precaution, Metro officials have removed 100 of its rail cars from service to inspect the operation of the car door motors, make repairs and return them to service. Between 60 and 70 of the 4000 series rail cars are in service on an average weekday and all are expected to return to use within two to three weeks. All 4000 cars were removed from service at the end of Friday, July 2 to allow Metros rail experts to address a possible short in the car door circuitry that could cause the doors to open while the cars are in motion.

The removal of the cars was not prompted by a particular incident, but performance tests and observations conducted by Metro's operations staff. The cars are undergoing a rigorous inspection, repair and testing process. None of the cars were in use today (July 3). "This is a precautionary and proactive action to ensure the highest level of safety for our riders," said Interim General Manager Richard Sarles. Metro has been attempting to simulate an occurrence of the door openings in a controlled environment in a rail yard and were able to do so late this week. At that point the engineers, maintenance experts and quality control officials were able to identify the cause of the concern as well as the needed fix. The problem is within the circuitry of the cylindrical door motors, which are about a foot long and five inches wide. In total, the 100 rail cars have 1,200 motors as each rail car has 12 individual doors. This is a precautionary and proactive effort on our part. There was not any single occurrence that triggered our decision, said Deputy General Manager of Operations Dave J. Kubicek, who recommended that the cars be removed from service as a precautionary measure.

Rail officials expect little impact to service for Independence Day because the service plan calls for 800 rail cars to be in service at the height of the fireworks rush between 6 p.m. and midnight. Service will not be affected on Monday, July 5 because it is a federal holiday, and ridership is expected to be light. Tuesday through Friday service is expected to be impacted somewhat, when typically 850 rail cars are used for the morning and afternoon peak hours. However because the work-week is starting with a federal holiday, ridership is not as likely to be as high as a typical work-week as locals often extend their vacations during 4th of July week. SOURCE: FOX DC

Hanson, 78, may run for Dist 2 open seat

The suspense is almost over in Montgomery County's race for the open County Council seat being vacated by Mike Knapp (D). Royce Hanson, formerly chairman of the county's planning board, who has been highly critical of what he said is political interference in the planning process, is expected to announce his candidacy Tuesday, the filing deadline in Maryland. Hanson, 78, won't confirm he is running, but has been making plans for a formal announcement at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Germantown. He has been meeting privately with potential supporters and nailing down pledges for campaign donations. He will enter a potentially crowded field for the nomination in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. So far, Charles Kirchman of Germantown, Craig Rice, a delegate to the General Assembly, and Sharon Dooley, a local activist who ran against Knapp in 2006, are eyeing the race. On the Republican side, activist and attorney Robin Ficker of Boyds, is planning a run. SOURCE: Washington Post

DRIP: Water restrictions continue

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