July 24, 2010

DC to fire hundreds of teachers

WASHINGTON - The D.C. Public Schools are firing 241 teachers and warning more than 700 other employees that they could be fired in the next year if their performance doesn't improve. The firings announced Friday total 302 school system employees, including the 241 teachers. The firings come as a result of the first year of a new teacher evaluation system. The evaluation is based largely on five observations and measures of students' academic progress. Based on those evaluations, 729 additional employees are being put on notice that they will be fired after the upcoming school year if their performance doesn't improve. Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker has said grievances would "definitely" be filed for each fired teacher, based on what many teachers perceived as a botched process. SOURCE: FOX DC

July 23, 2010

Brian Murphy at Crisfield

Weather report in Montgomery County

Gansler unopposed in Maryland, plus 9 senators

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is officially running unopposed for re-election. Although July 6 was the deadline for candidates to file their bids for office, Wednesday was the last day that central committees for political parties could nominate someone to run in a race in which no one had filed. Nine out of Maryland's 47 state senators also are running unopposed. The unopposed Republicans are Sens. George Edwards of Garrett County and Barry Glassman of Harford County. The unopposed Democrats are Sens. Robert Zirkin of Baltimore County, Catherine Pugh and Lisa Gladden of Baltimore city, Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, and Jim Rosapepe, Paul Pinsky and Ulysses Currie of Prince George's County. SOURCE: San Fran Exam

Summer Heat Rekindles Artificial Turf Battle

July 22, 2010

Colleague of Azin Naimi speaks

Tony Kurtz, friend and colleague of Azin Naimi, speaks to the media about the disappearance and death of his fiend. (Dan Morse/The Washington Post)

Council worried about $7 million; Leggett counters 48 hours off costs $0

A majority of Montgomery County Council members appear opposed to what they believe is $7 million in new spending on government employees. However, the cost of the paid leave included in newly negotiated employee contracts — and whether the council has authority over the provisions — is still undetermined. The council is awaiting an opinion from the County Attorney's Office, which is expected Thursday.

The council's own attorneys believe the council should vote on the provisions because they will cost $7 million, a report from the Office of Legislative Oversight states. The council has final fiscal authority. But County Executive Isiah Leggett's (D) office believes the unpaid leave — between two and three work days — will cost nothing. While awaiting a decision on whether they will vote on the contracts, council members opted Tuesday to introduce the renegotiated contracts for members of the Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Association, IAFF, Local 1664; Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 35; and The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994/Municipal and County Government Employees Organization.

Under the contracts, about 8,184 employees will share 236,632 hours of paid leave, with firefighters receiving 48 hours and other employees getting 26 hours. A council committee will take up the contracts, which also include $135,000 in tuition assistance money for police and the removal of a contract provision requiring random drug testing of firefighters.

Council Vice President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring and council members Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring and Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At large) of North Bethesda, who sit on the council's Management and Fiscal Policy Committee, say they will vote against the contracts when the committee takes them up Monday. The committee was scheduled to address the issue last week, but it was postponed after Leggett's staff said the council did not have the authority to approve the contracts.

Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg also plans to vote against the contracts, which would affect worker productivity and result in additional costs, he said. The county's Office of Legislative Oversight found that the time away from work associated with the paid leave would equal about 117 work years, meaning the amount of work 117 full-time employees complete in one year.

County data show that 1,022 employees received 60 hours of paid time off in fiscal 2010, costing the county $2.8 million in salary and benefits. Council President Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park also expressed concerns over the spending and said Tuesday that the county cannot take on additional expenses.

"I have to hand it to the unions; they're in the ‘never say never' category in terms of pushing the limits," Floreen said last week of the contracts. "I'm sorry we have to revisit what the council has already done. I don't think that we're going to be able to assume additional cost."

Floreen said Tuesday that she was waiting to hear more from Leggett about the contracts. Employees gave up pay raises and were forced to take furloughs in fiscal 2011, which began July 1, meaning that their contracts had to be renegotiated to reflect the changes. During the renegotiations, Leggett agreed to grant employees two to three days of paid leave. Officials say they are unsure what will happen if the council votes against the contracts, especially if a difference of opinion remains regarding their authority over the agreements.

It could mean that employees and Leggett return to the bargaining table for a third time. SOURCE: Gazette

Passenger Recalls Experience on Turbulent Flight

Council advances the Purple Line

It's too much to copy and past, but Montgomery County council advances its support for THe Purple Line. Read a ton more here, though I included a background.

On April 20, 2010 the Montgomery County Planning Board transmitted to the County Executive and the County Council the Planning Board Draft for the Purple Line Functional Plan, a comprehensive amendment to the 1990 Georgetown Branch Master Plan Amendment.

On June 25, 2010 the Executive transmitted to the Council comments concerning the Planning Board Draft with a fiscal analysis.

On June 29, 2010 the Council held a public hearing regarding the Planning Board Draft. It was referred to the Transportation and Environment Committee for review and recommendation.

On July 15, 2010 the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee held a worksession to review the issues raised in connection with the Planning Board Draft. The Committee forwarded it to the Council with several revisions.

On July 20, 2010 the Council reviewed the Planning Board Draft and the recommendations of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee.

Politicians appear at Crisfield annual clambake

"A must-attend event," Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) called it. "A political right of passage."

"A must-stop in an election year," said former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) .

With those similar assessments, coming a few minutes apart, Maryland's two major candidates for governor arrived at the 34th Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, where both would spend the next couple of hours working the sprawling crowd outside the town's marina, their running mates in tow.

In many respects, Wednesday's sweat-drenched affair was a metaphor for this year's campaign: two very well-known candidates, occupying the same familiar territory but never actually engaging one another. The two hopefuls were so familiar, in fact, that many of the 5,000 or so in attendance seemed unmoved by their presence as they enjoyed the $40 all-you-can-eat-and-drink assortment of steamed crabs, fried fish, clams, corn on the cob, watermelon and beer. Perhaps the only surprise of the afternoon was the extent to which the O'Malley team out-organized the Ehrlich camp. As festival-goers arrived at the event site in the Eastern Shore community, they were greeted by far more neon-green O'Malley signs, of all sizes and assortments, than those advertising Ehrlich's comeback campaign. When the current governor arrived around 2 p.m., he was a greeted by a larger, more boisterous, more orchestrated group of supporters and volunteers than was the former governor -- who hung back in a parking lot until the Democratic incumbent moved on before making his entrance.

It's not clear that the contrast necessarily worked against Ehrlich. A large part of the Republican's appeal is his ability to relate to voters on their level. Minutes after a throng of reporters peppered O'Malley with questions about policy and campaign strategy, Ehrlich told the same group that he was there hoping "to just have fun today." Later asked by a reporter about the importance of the clambake to the campaign, Ehrlich responded with typical bluntness, saying: "It's not that important to the overall race."

The two running mates -- Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and former secretary of state Mary D. Kane (R) -- both appeared to put a little more thought into their outfits than their principals. O'Malley and Ehrlich both donned polo shirts that they no doubt had received gratis for being governor. Ehrlich wore shorts.

As always, the event drew dozens of other politicians seeking statewide and local offices. Brian Murphy, a long-shot Republican candidate for governor, was on hand, with a merry band of supporters, as were some of the largely unknown GOP candidates with dreams of toppling Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) this year. Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) stood out for his congeniality. As Ehrlich worked some of the tents sponsored by corporations and candidates, Franchot went out of his way to say hello and shake hands. In their long, overlapping political careers, the two have often had unkind things to say about one another. But at Tawes, it was all smiles. Ehrlich even said he looked forward to working again with Franchot.

At that point, a spokesman for the comptroller was quick to point out to a lurking reporter that Franchot had greeted the current governor as well. SOURCE: Washington Post

July 21, 2010

Md. Prosecutors Drop Charges In Shooting Death

Montgomery County prosecutors have dropped murder charges against a Silver Spring man, saying the killing was legally justified because his victim was pointing a gun at another man's head. Assistant State's Attorney Peter Feeney told the judge Tuesday that the murder case was over, but Larry Lamont, 27, faces new gun charges. Under Maryland law, defendants charged with murder can offer a "defense of others" argument, similar to self-defense. Law enforcement officials say Marcus Duffin, 27, had fired six rounds and was standing within several feet of the third man. Lamont cooperated with authorities and after they heard from Lamont and the third man involved and learned of Duffin's background, investigators dropped the charges.

Missing woman in Rockville found dead

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Montgomery County Police say a missing Rockville woman has been found dead in Washington, and a suspect in the homicide is in custody. A relative had reported 45-year-old Azin Naimi missing early Monday. That afternoon, D.C. police found Naimi's body in the northwest part of the city. Although the circumstances of Naimi's death remain under investigation, the D.C. medical examiner ruled the manner of her death to be homicide. Montgomery County police say a suspect, who knew Naimi, is in custody and being questioned.

30 Hurt After Turbulence Rocks D.C.-to-L.A. Flight

A United Airlines jetliner hit severe turbulence while flying over Kansas, injuring 30 and jolting one woman out of her seat so forcefully that she left a crack when she hit the side of the cabin, authorities and a witness said. The Tuesday flight was the airline's third this year during which passengers were hurt because of turbulence. The flight originated at Dulles International Airport and was headed to Los Angeles. It was diverted to Denver International Airport, where it landed safely around 7:45 p.m. and was met by medical crews, Denver Fire Department spokesman Eric Tade said.

Twenty-six passengers and four crew members were injured, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said. He said one person was critically hurt, but he released no further details. Officials said many of the injured were taken to hospitals with only moderate injuries. At least 14 were released by Wednesday morning and at least two others were hospitalized overnight. The status of the others wasn't immediately available. Nine had neck and back injuries. Hospitals declined to release the nature of the other injuries.

"There are mostly walking injuries," Tade told The Denver Post. He said the injuries included bruises, whiplash, strains and sprains. Some passengers were placed on another flight to Los Angeles that arrived there just before midnight. Flight 967 was flying over Kansas at an altitude of about 34,000 feet when it hit the heavy turbulence, said FAA spokesman Mike

Fergus. It was carrying 255 passengers and 10 crew members. The turbulence was ``just a huge up and down,'' said passenger Kaoma Bechaz, a 19-year-old Australian in the United States visiting her boyfriend. Bechaz told the Post that the woman sitting next to her hit her head on the side of the cabin, leaving a crack above the window, and a girl across the aisle flew into the air and hit the ceiling. Bechaz said she wasn't thrown around because her seat belt was tight.

The crew decided land the Boeing 777 in Denver to tend to the injured, United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said. A 12-year-old was taken to Children's Hospital in Aurora, but a spokeswoman there didn't know the nature of the child's injury. The seven patients taken to Denver Health -- all women -- were being evaluated but likely would be treated and released Tuesday night, spokeswoman Dee Martinez said. Three people went to Swedish Hospital in Englewood with moderate injuries, spokeswoman Julie Lonborg said.

Two people were treated and released from the University of Colorado Hospital and two others were being evaluated, spokeswoman Erika Matich said. Tim Smith of Boulder was on United Flight 937, which also flew into Denver from Washington on Tuesday and landed after the diverted plane. He said his flight was delayed because of thunderstorms but didn't have any problems. SOURCE: NBC Washington

CASA de Maryland slips into politics

CASA de Maryland, the immigration advocacy group that collects millions of dollars in taxpayer money, has started a political organization to back pro-Hispanic candidates that critics contend blurs the line between nonprofit work and political activism. Dubbed CASA in Action, the group sent out surveys to politicians in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and will endorse primary candidates who promote Hispanic causes. Among the questions: Whether candidates support giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, whether English should be the official state language, and whether office seekers would push for more funding for Hispanic nonprofits.

"It allows immigrants and low-income people in Maryland to come together and express their political priorities," said spokeswoman Eliza Leighton. But some say the group's foray into politics should preclude it from receiving taxpayer money.

"I think the era of CASA being a service entity is over," said Brad Botwin, director of Help Save Maryland, an anti-illegal-immigration group. "I think we need to stop giving them any funds. Other groups can do the same work without promoting lawlessness."

CASA will receive nearly $2.1 million this fiscal year from local governments, including $1.3 million from Montgomery County, and another $32,000 in federal money, according to Kim Propeack, the group's director of community organizing and political action. CASA in Action has raised $45,000 thus far from members paying $9 annual dues, she added. Botwin argues the group, for years, has raked in millions of taxpayer dollars despite ignoring -- and often embracing -- illegal immigration. CASA runs five day laborer sites in Maryland, offering services regardless of immigration status.

CASA officials responded that the new wing of the organization is funded entirely by member donations. CASA's top brass, including Executive Director Gustavo Torres, are running the political operation and have not hired new employees for the political team. Propeack says human-service organizations have made similar plunges into politics. She referenced the Tenants and Workers United, the largest member-based organization for low-income workers in Northern Virginia, as the local model for such a move. Like CASA, the group canvases against what it considers overly harsh raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and supports day laborers throughout the region.

Nonprofit legal analysts tell The Washington Examiner that CASA is not in violation of federal law if they don't use government money for political purposes and note the time spent between the two wings of the organization. However, some officials involved in recent immigration debates say the coziness between the group's two branches could make it difficult to track sources of political funding.

"They need to be transparent about how they raise their money," said Prince William County Supervisor Marty Nohe, R-Coles. "It'd be hard to know for sure they aren't raising money from illegitimate sources." CASA was previously barred from intervening in political campaigns, according to Internal Revenue Service code. But by obtaining 501(c)(4) status, CASA in Action is allowed to participate in political campaigns and elections. SOURCE: Washington Examiner

Disability pension granted to Montgomery police sergeant accused of theft

A Montgomery County police sergeant facing allegations that she stole more than $10,000 was granted a disability retirement pension this month, adding to questions about a program designed to compensate officers who suffer disabling injuries on the job. Jacqueline Davey, a 17-year department veteran, was a patrol supervisor when she was suspended in December because of a theft investigation, county officials said. A medical panel later ruled she could no longer perform all of the duties of an officer, officials said.

"These are the kind of cases that could potentially undermine the credibility of the whole system," said County Executive Isiah Leggett (D). "Obviously the panel made the decision. They awarded it."

Davey, 39, had not reached the normal retirement age. The disability package will pay her about 67 percent of her salary, tax free, county officials said. She faces trial in September on charges that she billed the county for hours she did not work. She could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Paul Stein, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Montgomery officials, citing confidentiality laws, would not say what Davey's injuries are.

Davey's retirement pension comes nearly two years after Leggett announced he was seeking to reform the program, which for years has awarded disability benefits at a higher rate than neighboring counties. SOURCE: Washington Post

F. Scott Fitzgerald event in Rockville on October 16

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference is a full-day writing event in Rockville, where Fitzgerald summered and wrote some of his most famous works. The Conference, held every October, features small group discussions, workshops and seminars for writers of all genres. Pulling talent from the Washington DC area and beyond, the Conference offers writers one-on-one access to some of the premiere names in publishing today.

Every year the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference bestows an award for Outstanding Achievement to a writer of distinction. The award winning author participates fully in the Conference, meeting with attendees to offer advice and share experiences. The 15th Annual Conference is proud to honor distinguished author, Alice McDermott as the 2010 Award recipient.

This event is open to the public, accessible by Metro and bus. Online registration: www.fscottfitzgerald.wordpress.com or 301-309-9461. Saturday, October 16, 2010. Montgomery College, Rockville. 8:30-5:30

July 20, 2010

Helicopter cops in Montgomery County search for marijuana plants

Thought you were clever setting up your pot-growing operation in a Maryland public park? Wrong. Cops are on your tail and ready to bust you just like they take down murderers and other horrible human beings. We didn't believe it until we saw this NBC Washington report that convinces us pot growers are destroying the country, one pot plant at a time. They are up in our parks! Growing plants!

But it all seriousness, keep your pot plots on your own land, please. Apparently these growing operations often involve booby traps with fish hooks and explosives. Think of the children. We can already see little Jimmy skipping into the woods to grab his baseball only to be blown up in a cloud of marijuana leaves. So what are the pot-cops looking for? Straight lines and fencing marks the spot. Growers often use snow fencing and branches for camouflage. When police find the sites, they are usually equipped with systems to tip off the growers on their discovery.

“A lot of these grow sites are booby trapped because they want to tell if they’ve been discovered. They also want to give themselves warning and they want to keep other people away from them,” Smith said. "So this could be potentially dangerous to park patrons and their pets.”

Police said the fields are usually planted in groups of threes -- one for the planters to keep for their personal use, another that they want police to find and a third for street sale. What happens when they find the plants? These hard-working cops run stakeouts for days until the public planters are dumb enough to show up. SOURCE: Washington City Paper

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

AFrame Digital, Inc. and LifeMatters Bring Non-Intrusive Technology for Senior Care to the Washington, D.C Region

Reston, VA, and Bethesda, MD (July 20, 2010) -- AFrame Digital, Inc. and LifeMatters announced today a partnership agreement for the AFrame Digital personal health monitor to be sold through LifeMatters to its clients, both individual consumers and residents served in independent living communities. LifeMatters’ strong market presence and excellent reputation for home senior care in the Washington, D.C. area, coupled with AFrame’s new, non-intrusive technology, make them ideal partners.

The AFrame Digital Personal Health Monitor is a non-intrusive wrist monitor, similar to a sports watch that represents the next generation in senior health care technology. The personal health monitor records a user’s activity, impacts and critical health data including weight, blood pressure, pulse and oxygenation levels. Changes in any one of these bodily functions can signal the need for immediate care. Additionally, concerned family members can be sent alerts and updates.

“We are excited to offer this leading-edge technology to our clients,” says Craig Goodman, President of LifeMatters’ Virginia Division. “The personal health monitor is a proactive and personalized approach to dignified health care in a space where time is critical. The non-intrusive nature of the equipment, ease of use, and discreet design are services that we care about as a company providing senior care.”

One of the greatest fears for seniors who live alone is the risk of falling down and not receiving help. The AFrame system removes that worry. If a senior falls, the system sends out an immediate signal to any loved one in the system. There is no need for a senior to press a button or pull an emergency cord that he or she may not have the ability to reach. “We know from working with clients that panic buttons are ineffective,” Goodman says. “Seniors feel self-conscious about asking for help and often underestimate their injuries. We also know that if the fall is serious, they may be unable to call for help.”

“LifeMatters will place the monitor with the seniors under the company’s care, and AFrame Digital will support them with its turnkey monitoring solution that will manage the data and deliver alerts,” says Dr. Amy Papadopoulos, AFrame Digital’s Senior Research Scientist. “Our home-installed telehealth system will provide LifeMatters with the ability to non-intrusively collect vital signs and have superior telehealth situational awareness between visits by the company’s staff. Seniors will experience improved safety and quality of life, allowing them to remain in their homes longer.”

The AFrame system also provides trending information and alerts to allow health care providers to properly treat seniors based on long-term data rather than one-time readings. The ability to alert on changes in a user’s health eliminates the need to sift through data and reports. This allows medical personnel to determine the root causes of those changes faster. LifeMatters now will offer this improved level of customer care to its clients in the metro Washington, D.C. market. “This system can improve the independent lives of our clients and their families,” Goodman says. “We see the system as a way to also differentiate our service from other health care providers. We look forward to a long-term relationship with AFrame Digital.”

AFrame Digital Inc., www.aframedigital.com, a Virginia small business, was founded in 2005 to research, design and manufacture non-intrusive, wireless sensor-based monitoring and situational awareness solutions for long-term care and occupational safety. AFrame has received support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Institutes of Health, and is working closely with two large military treatment facilities, Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), to develop models of injury and disease recovery for the bioinformatics analysis software portion of the system. The company's MobileCare MonitorTM system received FDA clearance in 2009 for in-patient, outpatient and home care settings.

LifeMatters, www.lifemattersusa.com, is a privately owned and operated home health care company that is based in Bethesda and has additional offices in Falls Church and Washington, D.C. The company offers a comprehensive range of personal, skilled nursing and Alzheimer’s care services tailored to each client’s individual needs. LifeMatters’ innovative, licensed and dedicated professionals are committed to providing the highest quality care to support comfort and independence.

EDITORIAL: What should really inspire good budget policy

Metro's July 8 Local Digest ["Montgomery now off bond-watch list"] said that Montgomery County was taken off the Moody's bond-rating agency's watch list for a possible debt downgrade after County Executive Isiah Leggett and the County Council made budget cuts and strengthened policies on budget reserves.

These steps were long overdue, but Mr. Leggett and the council acted only because they feared losing the county's AAA rating, which would have raised the cost of borrowing, not because they were inclined to make common-sense budget cuts or policy changes and not because they feared the wrath of voters.

Voters must demand even more substantial changes and reductions to the county's bloated programs, employee benefits and spending habits. That will be a challenge, however, since the field of candidates is so tilted toward tax-and-spend Democrats that Republicans seeking office will be smothered by the sheer force of progressive persuasion and dominance.

John K. Lambert, Silver Spring
SOURCE: Washington Post

2 Georgia Men Charged With Drug Offenses in Maryland

FREDERICK, Md. - Frederick police have charged two Georgia men with numerous drug offenses after they fled a traffic stop. Twenty-three-year-old Torey Howell and 26-year-old Gary Howell, both of Columbus, Ga., were arrested early Monday. Police said Gary Howell fled a vehicle driven by Torey Howell when an officer attempted to pull it over. After a short pursuit, both men were arrested. Officers say about 10 pounds of suspected marijuana and more than 380 grams of suspected powder cocaine were found in the vehicle. Police say more suspected drugs were found in a home that Gary Howell fled to. SOURCE: FOX DC

Maryland debate for U.S. Senate candidates

United States Senate Debate tonight, presented by the Montgomery County Chapter of Americans for Prosperity and the Montgomery County Young Republicans.  

Location: Earle Wood Middle School, 14615 Bauer Drive, Rockville 20853 (Event in the Cafeteria)
When: From 7:30 - 9:30 PM - Doors open at 7pm
Featuring: Candidates for the Office of United States Senator - Maryland  

Confirmed Attendees: Barry Steve Asbury (R), Joseph Alexander (R), Robert Henry Brookman (I), Neil Cohen (R), Stephens Dempsey (R), Christopher Garner (D), Gregory L. Kump (R), Daniel McAndrew (R), Natasha Pettigrew (G), Jim Rutledge (R), Sanquetta Taylor (D), Lih Young (D)  

Moderated by: Brian Karem, Managing Editor of the Montgomery Sentinel. THIS EVENT IS FREE & OPEN TO EVERYONE!

Tony Puca Runs for District 39 House of Delegate seat

“When a candidate asks for your vote, ask them what they have done to earn it, and then what they will do with it when elected.” Tony has a record of success working for the people of this county and state that is almost unmatched, and will continue this work in Annapolis now when it is needed more than ever. It is for this reason that Tony is running for this seat.

His record of accomplishment beginning with his defeat of he Banking Deregulation bill in the 1982 Annapolis session has saved the people of this state billions of dollars and extending to his fund raising for needed county causes and his work with the disabled when viewed by any voter or observer shows significant accomplishment. When Tony turned 62 he gave thought to retirement to Florida or to his summer home in Ocean View, DE or traveling and writing and definitely spending more time with his children he realized what gave him the most pleasure was helping others and he decided there was nothing better than seeing if he could accomplish more being in elected office than he did without being in elected office and decided the only way he would know would be by being in office.

Tony has lost some hard fought and close elections in his life but this is the first time he has ever run for an open seat and not against an entrenched incumbent. When addressing the issues he will say openly that he, like just about every candidate running for office, will say he is for strong education, better roads, more mass transportation, protecting the environment and he will vote for them when the leadership places these bills on the floor for the majority vote they will achieve.

More importantly he will tell you about the four issues he will work on and these are banking reform of all kinds, reform of the insurance industry and revenue growth and fair and proportionate revenue distribution. The American tax payer helped bail out the banking industry with stimulus and zero percent discount rates for them to borrow money and the consumer was rewarded with credit card rate increases hat averaged from 5-10% and a record number of foreclosures though we gave banks money to do loan modifications. The banks were also given greater tax loopholes that allowed them not only to make record profits but not pay taxes on them. Tony promises that his first and main priority in Annapolis will be going after the banking industry and imposing limits on credit card interest rates that tie them to 6% over the discount rate and most importantly my intend to have our state issue a moratorium on all foreclosures and call for meaningful mediation by a state run agency. Tony will say to everyone who says we have federal banks and not state banks that there are ways to get all of the above done and point to his previous success in this field.

We will enclosed a copy of my first flyer to allow you to see all that I have done, will do and what others have said about these accomplishments. We will also include both a personal and political history for your reference. Finally in order to win this race Tony will have to do two mailing and a lit drop at a cost of $15,000 to $20,000 ad that money will be available.

That you and if you would like to speak to Tony himself please feel free to call him at 301-990-6654 or 240-277-0300. You can view his web site at: www.tonypucafordelegate.com

Member of 18th Street gang pleads guilty to murder

A Montgomery County gang member pleaded guilty to murder Monday as prosecutors moved to wrap up a case they called the most disturbing gang-related killing they have seen in the county. Ten defendants have pleaded guilty in the Jan. 18, 2009, death of Dennys Guzman-Saenz, 15, who was abducted from a Langley Park bus stop, dragged into a car, stabbed more than 60 times and dumped into an icy creek in Gaithersburg. The assailants, all members of the 18th Street gang, kidnapped Guzman-Saenz because they thought he belonged to a rival gang, police and prosecutors said.

"That was the sole reason. It mirrors your worst fears about gang violence," Montgomery State's Attorney John McCarthy said Monday.

The attackers stabbed Guzman-Saenz while he was in the car, prosecutors said in court. At the creek, more people came out of a second car, and the assault continued. As many as nine people took turns stabbing him with at least two knives, one with a 12-inch blade. Guzman-Saenz, who was 5-9 and weighed 130 pounds, suffered wounds that extended through his torso and punctured the other side.

On Monday, Ysaud Flores, 31, admitted to driving one of the cars used in the killing. Immediately after the stabbing, another of the suspects went to a grocery store to buy a celebratory beer, police said in charging documents. Detectives were able to link Guzman-Saenz's DNA to samples taken from a knife, a knife sheath and the ceiling of Flores's Honda Accord, according to prosecutors. Of the 11 suspects arrested -- eight men and three women -- six have pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, one pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, two pleaded guilty to participating in gang activity resulting in murder and one pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact, according to court records. The 11th defendant, Daniel A. Zavala, is scheduled to plead guilty to first-degree murder Thursday.

$40 Dog Tax Spurs National Headlines, Punchlines

When I testified in support of the men and women of the Montgomery County Police Department on January 15, 2009, I didn't realize how accurately I was predicting the future. As you recall, and have been reminded by the cheap shot article in yesterday's Post, the county executive and council were (and still are) attempting to deny retirement benefits for disabled police officers.

They ultimately failed, but in their ongoing quest to shift blame from the council's fiscal incompetence to the police department, they're going to keep bringing back this phony "scandal" again and again. That 10 degree evening, I pondered the future of the council's scapegoating. Now that the council had targeted senior citizens in their budget cuts, and tried to take benefits away from disabled cops, I said, "I shudder to think who will be next... Girl Scouts and puppies?"

Well, it's happened. Introducing the Dog Tax. In order to take your dog to any county dog park, you must now pay a mandatory tax of $40, plus $5 for each additional dog you own. This was quietly announced by the county, as usual.

But this quiet insult to your intelligence - and your pocketbook - has now been picked up by the national media, including USA Today. People all over the country are now laughing (once again) at the fiscal incompetence of our county council, and the over-the-top concept of... a dog tax. Maybe it's the excessive wagging of tails. Or the high cost of each sound wave emitted by a bark. Or the fiscal toll of a dog catching a frisbee in mid-air.

I don't know what the justification is. We'll have to await the explanation of the proven financial wizards on the council and the council staff. After all, that's why they make the big bucks... ...so they can use us as ATMs to pay off their politicial cronies in the budget. But wait! Does a tax on puppies mean that... ...Girl Scouts are next? Hide your Thin Mints!! SOURCE: Robert Dyer

July 19, 2010

Almost one million Americans have 'top' secret clearance

Montgomery County Parks Police save dog after chasing it into water

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

Wheaton woman with broken hands accuses Montgomery County police

A 65 year old Wheaton woman is raising strong allegations against the Montgomery County police for excessive force, police brutality and unlawful entry. Her hand is bandaged and in a cast. The seamstress says Montgomery County Police roughed her up in her own home.

"This guy grabbed my arm and was doing like this. Twisting it like this. I said stop you'll break my arm," said 65 year old Piera Tundo as she recounts the night she says an officer police broke her hand.

"I never done anything wrong all the years I came from Italy. I never get in trouble to nobody. They come in and treat like a criminal," said Tundo.

"She's fragile. She's never hurt a fly. She never got a ticket. Why are you guys attacking her. It was nerve wracking and it was very scary. Police brutality. Plain and simple," said her son Salvador Rivas.

Rivas says it all started as officers went to their home to serve him with a bench warrant after he failed to show up for court for a misdemeanor offense. At first, officers in plain clothes allegedly showed up at their door posing as yard workers.

"She answered the door. Some older male and he told her do you need anyone to cut your grass and she said no. He left," said Rivas.

Minutes later her son says he saw more people dressed in dark clothing at the door. This time according to him, they pushed their way inside the home. Montgomery county police want transparency in such cases and a spokesman says Chief Charles Manger takes all brutality complaints very seriously. The department already started looking into the complaint even before it was officially filed.

The family says officers never identified themselves and did not produce a warrant until hours later. They thought it was a home invasion.

"In the corner of my eye, I see people running to the door with regular clothes and no uniform. They knock on door. I open it. They barge inside the house. Turn me around and put handcuffs on me," recalls Rivas.

The woman has worked as a seamstress for 40 plus years and was in her sewing room when she heard the ruckus. Moments later the 5 foot 2 inches woman says she was grabbed by a 6 foot tall officer, twice her size, without warning.

"They weren’t talking just grabbed my arm like animal and they twist and twist. I say stop you'll break my arm. I'm diabetic and old person and you break my bones," said Tundo.

"She doesn’t deserve it. If you coming for me, pull me outside. Be professional take me. Bring her outside. Let her know what's going on. No! It was like a crazy movie,” said Rivas

Now Tundo has a broken hand and will likely be in a cast for weeks. She is terrified.

"You can't trust nobody. I feel so upset. I don't deserve this. I always was a good person all my life. I don't know how I’m going to live. I can't work for a while. I don't know what to do,” said Tundo.

The family says they tried to file a complaint at a police station, but were only given a flyer and told to mail in their complaint. Montgomery county police say anyone with a complaint can file it at any police station. If you believe an officer is acting improperly, you can ask to have a supervisor sent to the scene at the time of the incident. SOURCE: FOX DC

WHAT RECESSION: Montgomery politicians want mental health court

The Montgomery County Council’s Health and Human Services Committee and its Public Safety Committee will meet jointly on Monday, July 19, to continue discussions on the possibility of establishing a mental health court to better address the needs of mentally ill people who have committed minor criminal offenses. A mental health court or other program structured to decriminalize mental illness and increase treatment compliance could lead to reduced recidivism by treating the underlying cause for the criminal behavior.

The Health and Human Services Committee, which is chaired by George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Duchy Trachtenberg, and the Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Phil Andrews and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, will met at 9:30 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

The joint committees last met on this topic in October. At that worksession, Fred Osher of the Council of State Governments Justice Center shared information on the study he and others conducted in which Montgomery County served as one of the research sites. The first phase of the study (from 2002-03) estimated that18 percent of the male inmates and 28 percent of female inmates in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility had some form of serious mental illness. The second phase of the study (2005-06) estimated 8 percent of male inmates and 21 percent of female inmates had serious mental illness.

If Montgomery establishes the first mental health court in County history, it would have a specialized docket for eligible defendants (people who have been arrested for minor, non-violent offenses) with mental illnesses. Its purpose would be to hold mentally ill criminal defendants accountable for their actions, while not criminalizing mental illness. The joint committees will discuss if Montgomery County is prepared to establish such a court.

“For too long, mental illness has been criminalized and those afflicted have been without adequate clinical services, housing and case management,” said Councilmember Trachtenberg. “A Mental Health Court in Montgomery County holds great promise toward reducing unnecessary incarceration and assisting the mentally ill in securing a better life. I am hopeful that one day this best practice will become a reality here in Montgomery County.

Raymond Crowel, chief of the County’s Department of Health and Human Resources’ Behavioral Health and Crisis Services, suggested that the Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Initiative (CJBHI) be asked to serve as the collaborative work group to develop recommendations on strategies to support a mental health court or “mini mental health court.”

“I have always found it unfortunate that jails continue to be the largest providers of mental health services,” said Councilmember Leventhal. “It would be far better if we could establish a program that would support and treat people in the community. I fully expect that such a program would prevent many repeat arrests for minor non-violent offenses that are a result of mental illness. And, in these fiscal times when we must spend every dollar with extreme care, could reduce long term costs associated with incarceration by wisely investing in treatment and prevention.”

County Council staff has suggest that it would be useful to look at cases from the past year to start to determine which, if any, might have been appropriate for a mental health court or a diversion program. Other concerns to be addressed are the sentiments of the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender and private defenders about a possible mental health court.

Storm knocks out power to 9000

WASHINGTON (AP) ― Nearly 9,000 customers in Maryland are without power after thunderstorms toppled trees and branches, bringing down electrical wires. Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson says utility lines at locations in Bethesda, Potomac and Rockville were affected. As of 7 a.m. Monday, Pepco was reporting 1,450 customers without power in Montgomery County. Meanwhile, Baltimore Gas & Electric was reporting 7,350 customers without power, mostly in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties, as well as Baltimore City.

July 18, 2010

Local Residents Recall Their Earthquake Experience

Photo: Devastation from Montgomery County earthquake

Now making the rounds in local twitter circles, a photo of the devastation caused by this morning's earthquake.

al phillips speaks to tea party in rockville,md

Montgomery County news blurbs

Montgomery County Planners Release Comprehensive Report Detailing Local Demographic, Economic Trends - How do different parts of Montgomery County compare in terms of the education, income and other characteristics of its residents? How is economic activity like employment, retail spending and office rents changing over time, and who are the largest Montgomery County employers? For more information and to view report go to: http://mncppc.typepad.com/news/2010/07/montgomery-county-planners-release-comprehensive-report-detailing-local-demographic-economic-trends-.html#more

Dog Park Permits Required for Use of Montgomery Parks Dog Parks as of August 1, 2010 - Effective August 1, 2010, permits will be required for the use of all Montgomery County dog parks managed by Montgomery Parks, M-NCPPC. The fee charged by Montgomery Parks will allow you and your dog(s) access to all Montgomery Parks dog parks located in Cabin John Regional Park, Olney Manor Park, Black Hill Regional Park, Ridge Road Recreational Park, and Wheaton Regional Park˜five at present, with the possibility of more to come. For more information go to: http://www.montgomeryparks.org/permits/find/dogparkpermits.shtm

Josiah Henson Special Park Master Plan - The public is invited to review Park Staff's response to the input received from the first community meeting that was held in June. This meeting will be held on Monday, July, 26, 2010 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at Luxmanor Elementary School, 6201 Tilden Lane, Rockville, 20852. For more information go to: http://www.montgomeryparks.org/calendar//events/index.php?com=detail&eID=661

Earthquake FAQs - I am assuming that the events of this morning may have left a few of you out there a bit „shaken.‰ Bad joke aside, I want to provide all of you out there some good information from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) web site so that you can take steps to prepare and handle any future tremors that may occur. For more information go to: http://mcfrs.blogspot.com/2010/07/earthquake-faqs.html

MDOT MD 355/Rockville Pike Crossing Project Public Meeting - To present the elements of the study, including potential solutions, and obtain input from the community. The following is time/date/location of the public meeting:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Maryland

Project Location: Rockville Pike, MD 355. Crossing between the Medical Center Metro Station and National Naval Medical Center. For more information and to forward written comments contact: Ken Kendall, P.E., Project Manager. Transportation Planning and Design Section. Division of Transportation Engineering. Telephone: 240-777-7267. 100 Edison Park Drive, Fourth Floor, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878.

County Planning Director Launches Blog Highlighting What Makes Great Communities ˆ To provide another opportunity for residents to have a voice in planning their communities, Montgomery County Planning Director Rollin Stanley has created a new blog that will highlight new ways of looking at growth. For more information go to: http://mncppc.typepad.com/news/2010/07/county-planning-director-launches-blog-highlighting-what-makes-great-communities-.html#more

Backpack and School Supply Drive to Benefit MCPS Students - Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is collecting backpacks and other new school supplies starting this Saturday. All backpacks and supplies will be distributed to MCPS students in need during the school system‚s third annual Back-to-School Fair on August 28. For more information go to: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/press/index.aspx?page=showrelease&id=2792

Montgomery County Earns Highest Honor as America's Top Digital County Government - Montgomery County has been named America‚s top digital county government in the United States by The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Montgomery County received first place honors in the competition for jurisdictions with populations of 500,000 or greater. For more information go to: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=6740

County's Office of Human Rights Seeks Nominations for Hall of Fame -The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights (OHR) is currently accepting nominations for its Sixth Hall of Fame. Nominees should be individuals ˆ either living or deceased ˆ who have made contributions to human and civil rights in the county. The deadline for nominations is September 3. For more information go to: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=6738