October 22, 2010

Nine People Indicted in DC PCP Drug Ring

Ambulance fees on ballot in MOCO

Video of Metro Rescue Released

The Metro rider who risked his life to save a stranger talks about what prompted him to jump on the tracks.

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

October 21, 2010

Maryland State Trooper Struck by Passing Vehicle

BETHESDA, Md. - A Maryland State Police Trooper was struck on the arm by a passing vehicle on I-495 at River Road just after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Montgomery County Fire and EMS. Investigators say the trooper was processing the scene of a two-car collision at the road before he was hit. The driver continued to drive on after striking the officer. The trooper went back to his cruiser and pulled over the vehicle at the Clara Barton Parkway. The trooper was transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries, authorities say. Maryland State Police are investigating the scene. Charges are pending with the driver. SOURCE: FOX

Accusations of Questionable Tactics in Md. Governor's Race

Christine O'Donnell Regrets 'Witch' Ad

Tea Party candidate talks about GOP support, Sarah Palin and First Amendment.

NPR: National Politically-correct Radio fires Juan Williams??

By William Kristol

My Fox News Sunday colleague Juan Williams has been fired by NPR for telling an inconvenient truth. Juan was appearing on Bill O'Reilly's show Monday night, when O'Reilly asserted, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.” Juan didn't disagree with this claim. Would President Obama, for example, disagree? I don't think so. Isn't this why, for example, we are fighting a war to prevent jihadists from re-establishing a terror base in Afghanistan? (It's a war, by the way, that Juan happens to oppose.) But do the powers-that-be at NPR really think that jihadists, especially if aided by state sponsors, are not a serious threat? Do the powers-that-be at NPR think their analysts shouldn't be allowed to say they are?

Juan cited the words of the Times Square bomber: “He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts." Do the powers-that-be at NPR deny that jihadists have made countless comments of this sort? Are NPR analysts not allowed to cite them?

Juan also commented, “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I've got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Do the powers-that-be at NPR think Juan Williams is a bigot? Do they think a traveler who has a reaction (fair or unfair) like the one Juan describes, in our age of terror in the name of Islam, is a bigot?

Of course the powers-that-be at NPR know he's not. In fact, I suspect the powers-that-be at NPR pretty much think what Juan thinks. But the standards of political correctness must be maintained. Pressure groups speaking for allegedly offended Muslims must be propitiated. And so Juan had to go. NPR--unfair, unbalanced...and afraid.

Obituary: Grace “Lyn” Hendry ‘41

Grace “Lyn” (Kreps) Hendry ‘41, a longtime resident of Bethesda and distinguished and highly regarded teacher who received numerous awards for excellence while teaching, died on Oct. 13. She was 89 years old and for the past 20 years resided at Heron Point in Chestertown, Md.

Hendry was the teacher whom students remembered, who inspired them to think critically and challenge themselves. She was passionate about teaching and saw public education as the cornerstone of a strong democracy. Many students stayed in touch long after they graduated. In the words of one of them, “You were the first teacher to open the wider world of ideas to me.” When Georgetown University asked students to name their most influential high school teacher, they chose Hendry; in 1979, she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (Hons.) by Georgetown University for excellence in the field of secondary-school teaching, and was one of the first secondary-school teachers in the country to be so recognized.

Hendry began her teaching career in Sacramento and San Francisco, Calif. In 1946, she went to Beijing to help reopen the Peking American School after the war with Japan ended. She remained there to teach until evacuated in early 1949, when Beijing was captured by communist forces. Hendry also taught in the American School in Saigon from 1957 to 1959, and was headmistress of the Dacca American School from 1963 to 1964 in what was then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. She taught in the junior high school in East Lansing, Mich. from 1960 to 1962 and again from 1964 to 1966.

She came to Montgomery County in 1966 and taught there for 20 years, first at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, and from 1970 until her retirement in 1986 at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda. Her fields of instruction were economics, history and contemporary issues. In 1986, she was recognized as a distinguished teacher under the Presidential Scholars segment of the National Merit Scholarship Program, and also received the University of Rochester’s Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching. Hendry was named teacher of the year at Richard Montgomery High School for the academic year 1970-1971 and best teacher at Walt Whitman High School in 1976. She served as chair of the Walt Whitman High School Faculty Council, county representative in the Maryland State Teachers Association and on various other educational committees.

Hendry was a 1941 graduate from Stanford University. She received a California General Secondary Certificate from UC-Los Angeles in 1942 and an M.A. in education from Michigan State University in 1960. Surviving family members include her devoted husband of 62 years, Dr. James Hendry of Chestertown, Md.; three daughters, Nancy Hendry of Bethesda, Khati Hendry of Summerland, B.C. and Susan Manley of Bethesda; five grandchildren, two brothers and two sisters. SOURCE: Stanford Daily

Gas Main Break Shuts Rt.355 in Gaithersburg

A gas line break has forced Montgomery County Police to shutdown the northbound lanes of Rt. 355 at Professional Drive in Gaithersburg. Washington Gas tells us a paver hit the gas line valve. Crews are working to fix it and hope to have the roads opened before Thursday afternoon.

OBVIOUS 'JewsOnFirst' hates Martha Schaerr for Christian perspective

Wow! What a biased perspective on a non-partisan candidate. This ad on YouTube is repulsive. What person is behind it?

Habitat Completes First Inter-Faith House

GAITHERSBURG, MD (October 20, 2010) - On October 23rd, supporters, volunteers and staff of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, Maryland (HFH-MC) will gather at the future home of the Woldegiorgis family to honor the hard work, generous financial contributions, and community support that made the rehabilitation of this home possible.

The newly rehabilitated home is the first completed as part of Phase II of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, through which HFH-MC purchases and rehabilitates vacant, foreclosed homes in Montgomery County. This home was also HFH-MC $B!G (Bs first ever Inter-Faith house. As an inter-faith project, financial support and volunteers were drawn from congregations across Montgomery County.

This particular home was a result of a collaboration between the following congregations: Bethesda United Methodist Church, Church of the Resurrection, Colesville Presbyterian Church, Darnestown Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church of Wheaton, Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, the Inter-Faith Chapel of Silver Spring, Lutheran Church of Saint Andrew, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, the Silver Spring United Methodist Cooperative Parish, St. Camillus Church, St. Dunstan $B!G (Bs Episcopal Church, St. Francis Episcopal Church, St. James Episcopal Church, St. Peter $B!G (Bs Episcopal Church, St. Rose of Lima Parish, and Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring. The Silver Spring United Methodist Cooperative Parish sponsored the house, donating over $5,000 to building costs.

October 20, 2010

Former high school teacher admits to cocaine addiction, pleads guilty to robbery

A former Clarksburg High School science teacher returned to Clarksburg on Monday to serve an 18-month sentence at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for robbery with a dangerous weapon. Brendon F. Friedman, 42, of Rockville, pleaded guilty to the charge Thursday and confessed that he is addicted to cocaine.

Friedman held up a pharmacy and a bank 11 months ago. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Paul H. Weinstein sentenced Friedman to six years in jail with all but 29 months suspended and gave him credit for the 11 months of house arrest. He will be on supervised probation for five years after his release.

"While it is a crime, this was addiction-driven as opposed to committing a crime for personal benefit," Friedman's attorney Barry Helfand said. "Addiction is a terrible thing. I see it all the time."

Weinstein asked Friedman to work up a plan for talking to high school students about his addiction and to make arrangements to talk to county students after he is released.

"He said he would be honored to do that," Helfand said.

On Nov. 13, strung out for days on cocaine and after a reprimand from a Clarksburg High School assistant principal, Friedman realized his career was in trouble, Helfand said. After school he drove to a Safeway in the 5400 block of McGrath Boulevard in North Bethesda and demanded Xanax and OxyContin at the pharmacy counter because he had not slept in days and needed the pills to come down from his high, Helfand said. He displayed a BB gun and handed the clerk a note threatening to shoot him. The clerk gave him a bottle of Xanax. SOURCE: Gazette

Vigil Outside DC9 Nightclub Turns Into Anger

First ‘Quiet Zone’ in Maryland Designated At Forest Glen Road Train Crossing

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 19, 2010—Trains moving through an at-grade railroad crossing at Forest Glen Road in Silver Spring, located approximately one-quarter mile north of I-495, will no longer be required to blow their whistles after a two-year effort by Montgomery County Council Vice President Valerie Ervin. After she worked with residents to provide noise relief, the at-grade railroad crossing will be declared the first “Quiet Zone” in Maryland starting Nov. 1. The Forest Glen Road crossing has minimal pedestrian and vehicle traffic, but was still subject to federal rules that require all trains to blow warning whistles when approaching the crossing.

“Residents living near this at-grade crossing will finally have some noise relief from the nearly 60 trains that pass this location each day,” said Council Vice President Ervin, who represents District 5, which includes Kensington, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Wheaton. “Safety is paramount at train crossings, and locomotive engineers still have the discretion to use their whistles, even in a Quiet Zone.”

The Quiet Zone designation is the result of lobbying efforts by local residents and Council Vice President Ervin, who first wrote to the State Highway Administration (SHA) in October 2008 about the concerns of those living near the crossing.

“This is an example of how all branches of government worked together with our residents to implement a long-awaited change to enhance the quality of life for one local community,” said Councilmember Ervin. “I want to thank Joe Rosenberg, who has worked on this issue for a decade; residents of Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association; and representatives from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. I also want to thank representatives at the state and federal levels who examined this case and agreed that the residents of this area deserve this relief.”

The County has added protection for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers through a series of safety measures to implement the Quiet Zone. Lighting and signage near the location have been enhanced. In addition, the County installed new lights above the tracks and provided appropriate signage nearby. A median barrier was installed to keep cars from going around the gates that are deployed when a train is coming. The County’s Department of Transportation is planning to put a sidewalk on either side of the tracks to make the area more walkable.

The County Department of Transportation’s first contact with the Rock Creek Hills neighborhood association dates back to about 2000. The neighborhood has been directly impacted by train whistles since June 2005, when, in response to a Congressional mandate, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a rule on the “Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings.” The outcome was a requirement that locomotive horns must be sounded as a warning to highway users at public highway-railroad crossings. The rule pre-empted any state or local laws that allowed for “whistle bans.”

Specific safety improvements that provide the same calculated level of accident risk reduction as a train locomotive horn must be in place before the FRA can designate an area as a Quiet Zone. Forest Glen Road is a two-lane roadway with an average daily traffic volume of approximately 4,000 vehicles per day within the vicinity of the railroad crossing, which has trains passing through that are operated by CSX Transportation, Amtrak and Maryland commuter trains (MARC) – a total of approximately 60 trains per day. FRA accident reports state that three vehicle-train crashes have occurred at this location in the last three decades. Two of the three crashes (in 1977 and in 1985) involved a vehicle driving around the lowered automated gates. The third accident (in 2000) consisted of a backhoe being struck while working on the tracks.

“We know that Quiet Zones are not appropriate for most railroad crossings,” said Councilmember Ervin, “but residents near the Forest Glen Road crossing believe that this was the right decision for their community. I was happy to support their efforts.”

Montgomery Co. School Bus Cameras To Nab Drivers Who Pass Illegally

Archbishop Wuerl Named To The College Of Cardinals

(WUSA) -- The Archdiocese of Washington is about to get a new Cardinal. During Pope Benedict's Papal Audience, the Pope announced that Archbishop Donald Wuerl will be one of the bishops elevated to Cardinal. Also being elevated to Cardinal is Raymond Burke, who heads the Vatican Supreme Court. Cardinals are the highest ranking clergy in the Catholic Church aside from the Pope. They serve as the Pope's closest advisors, assist in the governance of the church, and will select the Pope's successor.

Archbishop Wuerl will become the fifth Cardinal to serve the Archdiocese of Washington. Wuerl came to the Archdiocese of Washington in 2006, when he replaced Theodore Cardinal McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington. The actual ceremony where Wuerl will be elevated to Cardinal, will be held at a later date at the Vatican. SOURCE: WUSA

New Poll Suggests Ehrlich Closing Gap on O'Malley

MCPS School Day Shorter Than Most Other MD Districts

Examining more data from the State Dept of Education website and saw some remarkable new information. All data is taken via downloads from www.mdreportcard.org And finally I took a look at the length of the Instructional Day. (See previous posts Part 1 and Part 2) Again MCPS ranked poorly compared to other Maryland school systems. MCPS has an approximately 3/4 of an hour per day shorter school day then the four districts with the longest school day. That is the equivalent of aproximately 20 additonal school days over the course of the 175 day school year.

Bob Astrove

County Name Hours Per Day Average
Kent 7.1
Baltimore City 7.0
Somerset 7.0
Queen Anne's 7.0
Saint Mary's 6.9
Worcester 6.9
Wicomico 6.8
Caroline 6.8
Washington 6.7
Carroll 6.7
Calvert 6.7
Howard 6.7
Cecil 6.7
Garrett 6.6
Dorchester 6.6
Prince George's 6.6
Anne Arundel 6.6
Harford 6.6
Baltimore County 6.5
Charles 6.5
Allegany 6.5
Frederick 6.4
Montgomery 6.3
Talbot 6.2

All Public Schools 6.6

SOURCE: Parents' Coalition

Barack And Michelle Make Election Plea: "Fight For It"

Montgomery County Schools Win Cash For Scholarships

ROCKVILLE, Md., (WUSA) -- Montgomery County Public Schools won a $250,00, second place prize in a national contest Tuesday. The money will be used for college scholarships for graduates from the class of 2011.

"Being a finalist for the Broad Prize is a wonderful tribute to the progress that MCPS has made over the past 11 years to raise student performance and narrow the achievement gap," said Board of Education President Patricia O'Neill. "Our students are making tremendous strides thanks to the hard work of our teachers and staff, and the continued support of the community."

The Eli and Blythe Broad Foundation gave $1 million for the first place school district, Gwinnett County, Ga. schools. In 2010, MCPS students raised test scores in practically every area, including an all-time high 1,653 on the SAT. They also took a record number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, according to a statement released by Montgomery County Public Schools. SOURCE: WUSA

Council debate tonight

Please attend the biggest event in the final weeks of the campaign: a Montgomery County Council At-Large debate, tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM, in the county Executive Office Building Cafeteria (near East Montgomery and Monroe St. at ground level). This is your only chance to hear the candidates (including me) debate the issues before Election Day. If you cannot attend, you can visit www.RobertDyer.net to read my detailed plans for fixing our structural deficit, transportation, education and other issues - and watch videos from previous debates! SOURCE: Robert Dyer, candidate

October 19, 2010

Chandra Levy trial lawyers expect case to end on Nov. 15

A second panel has been called for another session of jury selection in the Chandra Levy murder trial. This session, which TBD is not sitting in on, should be relatively similar to Monday morning's proceedings. That means that jurors will receive their questionnaires, get instructions from the judge, and hear a list of names from attorneys involved in the case. It should be noted that these names aren't necessarily going to be witnesses in this case. Defendant Ingmar Guandique is in the courtroom again, still in a jacket and turtleneck. Before the potential jurors were brought in the room for the morning session, Judge Fisher asked how long attorneys involved in the case thought the trial would take.

"We fully intend to be finished by the week of November 15," Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines said. SOURCE: TBD

ABC7 claims Republican Governor Association pulling ads for Ehrlich

DC9 Nightclub Has Liquor License Suspended

WASHINGTON - The board that oversees liquor licenses in the District of Columbia has suspended the license of the DC9 nightclub, a move that comes after four people affiliated with the club were charged in the beating death of a man. D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board suspended the club's license Tuesday. The nightclub has three days to request a hearing on the suspension, and the board has two days to hold a hearing after the request is made. All events at the club through Nov. 1 have already been moved or canceled. The decision comes after four club employees and the club's co-owner were charged over the weekend with aggravated assault in the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed, 27, of Silver Spring. SOURCE: FOX

Atlanta's Forsyth schools cite controversial MCPS policy about 'retesting'

It was a minor rumbling from one parent over one child, but it changed procedure at one Forsyth County middle school where students re-take tests if they get a poor grade fail or perform poorly on the first attempt. The practice isn’t new or unique to Forsyth. The public schools in Gwinnett, Cobb and Fulton -- and systems across the country -- permit retesting. DeKalb, Cherokee and Atlanta schools don't. Forsyth County mom Barbara Manley thought the way South Forsyth Middle School allowed kids to retake tests was wrong.

“I just overheard my daughter talking to her friend about her friend getting a 70 on a test and retaking it and getting an A,” Manley said. “My daughter, who is a straight-A student, made an 83 on the test, but because she made higher than an 80, she didn’t get to retake it. She was stuck with an B, and her friend got an A. That’s not right.”

When Manley set out to change the grading system at her daughter's school, she stumbled onto a philosophical shift in education in which, increasingly, grades are less important than students “mastering” subjects. But are those policies unfair to students who are hard workers and fast learners and nail the test the first time? And do they undermine student discipline and erode the accuracy of grades as a measurement of a student’s preparedness for college and eligibility for the HOPE scholarship?

Manley took her case to the principal, telling her the grading scheme penalized students who made B's on the test. “She told me: Students don’t care about grades.’ I told her: ‘You obviously don’t know my daughter.’” When the principal told Manley the grading scheme wouldn’t change, Manley went to school board member Mike Dudgeon, who told her “we’re in the process of taking care of that.”

A month later the policy was changed. Now, if a student at South Forsyth Middle School makes below an 80 and retakes a test, the student can be credited with a score no higher than an 80 even if the student makes a 100. Lissa Pijanowski, the associate superintendent in Forsyth who oversees the program, said Manley was the only parent to complain to the school board about it. But she acknowledged the school system is fine-tuning the grading scheme -- which varies from school to school in the Forsyth system -- as a work in progress for the last four years.

“As we roll out new practices across schools it takes time to define a consistent policy after sufficient analysis of the teaching and learning practices,” said Pijanowski of the program Forsyth modeled after the “reteaching/reassessment” program of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.

Dudgeon, the school board member, said he’s always had “mixed feelings” about students being allow to retake tests, and has long been in favor of a system-wide grading policy that would be overseen by the school board, but he lost that vote in 2007. Letting students take a test again teaches them a lesson that doesn’t always apply in “life and the real world where you don’t always get a second chance,” he said.

Parent Mark Rottman, whose daughter is a Forsyth fourth-grader, frets that letting a student take a test again conditions them to bad study habits. SOURCE: AJC

MOCO still considering banning dog tethering

Bad news for tied-up dogs in Montgomery County — there is still no clear resolution on revising the county's dog-tethering rules. County Executive Isiah Leggett originally proposed banning owners from tethering dogs unless they were outside with the dogs. But public safety committee members weren't fans of the proposal, saying earlier this month that it was akin to banning tethering altogether.

And now those new options on the table — including putting a two-hour time limit on dog-tethering — didn't receive any clear backing from the public safety committee during today's meeting. Director of of the Animal Services Division Capt. Michael Wahl did say today that he supports allowing owners to tie up their dogs outside as long as the owners are home and monitoring the dogs. But animal rights advocate Susan Rich of the Animal Protection Alliance of Montgomery County would rather see a specific time limit that dogs could be tied up while owners are home or away. SOURCE: TBD

Montgomery County crossing guard job pays $40 per hour

If you want to make at least $40 an hour, Montgomery County has a job for you: helping students cross the street. And you can work as little as one hour a day — 30 minutes in the morning and another half-hour after school. The county's 177 crossing guards are costing taxpayers $4.6 million this year — or about $26,000 each when benefits are included — amid drastic budget cuts to public safety departments and planned layoffs for about 100 firefighters, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The price driver: Crossing guards receive the same benefits packages as full-time employees, which means the county spends more on perks than wages for them. Once considered the best-kept secret among a workforce of 30,000, the position has become one of the county's most popular, particularly among those seeking health care coverage for their families. The arrangement has been in place for more than a decade, and the wait list for the job is now a few hundred deep, police say. SOURCE: Washington Examiner

C-SPAN panelist jabs ex-lover on live tv

A segment on C-SPAN looked more like a soap opera. Conservative panelists, and ex-lovers, Todd Seavey and Helen Rittelmeyer appeared together to discuss a new book they both contributed to. That's when Seavey started throwing jabs at his ex.

"I probably should confess that Helen and I dated for two years, so we’ve sparred about many things. It might come as a surprise to some of you that we dated for two years, not just because we have ideological differences, but because there are probably some people in this room who also dated Helen during those two years, given how tumultuous it got. It was sort of on again, off again." And it didn't end there!

Seavey threw another accusation at Rittlemeyer saying, "and at times, her gamesmanship would even include things like coldly saying at one point that she was going to play matchmaker and set up a couple, and then seduce the man away to play with his mind and hurt the woman. Which, when you think about it, is pretty creepy, kind of disturbing, and I believe five months later she made good on this somewhat disturbing promise." Rittlemeyer can be heard saying, "Is all this going on C-SPAN?"

"Yeah, this is all on C-SPAN," says an off-camera voice.

"Off the top of my head,” Seavey continued, “what do I think is off bounds? Uh, I don't know, spilling your heart out on C-SPAN?"

When asked for a comment by the daily caller, Rittlemeyer said she doesn't comment on her personal life. She did say however that Seavey's quote "tirade thoroughly mischaracterizes my political views." SOURCE: FOX

Yet another hit & run

Truck driver carrying Samuel Adams beer dies on Beltway

A crash killed a Verona truck driver early Monday when his rig slammed into the back of a stopped car on the inner loop of the Capitol Beltway in Maryland. Jeffrey Meade, 49, was driving a truckload of Samuel Adams beer between 4 and 5 a.m. when he approached a 1993 Honda Accord on Interstate 495 at Old Georgetown Road in Montgomery County, police said. The rig smashed into the car, continued off the road partway up an embankment and partially overturned on the highway, spilling the beer, police said.

Meade was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they knew neither the condition of the driver of the stopped car, Phillip St. G James, 28, of Germantown, Md., nor where he'd been hospitalized. Meade was driving for Meade Trucking. An official with the company declined to comment. Maryland state police are investigating. No charges had been filed as of Monday night. SOURCE: News Virginia

Montgomery Council to Discuss Financing Plan for Future White Flint Infrastructure

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 18, 2010—The Montgomery County Council will hold a worksession starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19, on options to finance the infrastructure necessary for the development authorized in the White Flint Sector Plan. The Council has previously approved a plan to transform the area along Rockville Pike just north of the Beltway into a much more urbanized area with higher densities and now must determine how the public needs for the plan will be financed.

The worksession on White Flint will be part of the afternoon session of the Council’s general session. The morning session will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov. The meeting will be rebroadcast on CCM at 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.

As part of the morning session, the Council is scheduled to take action on Bill 1-10 that would require a development oversight coordinator be appointed by the County Executive for future development districts and each geographic area where a newly revised master plan or sector plan has authorized new development or redevelopment. Councilmembers Mike Knapp and Duchy Trachtenberg are the chief sponsors of the legislation, which is cosponsored by Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Roger Berliner.

The Council’s afternoon session, beginning at 1:30 p.m., will include a public hearing on a resolution to terminate the Clarksburg Town Center Development District.

At 4:30 p.m., the Council will hold interviews of applicants seeking to serve on the nominating panel to help find a new County inspector general. The interviews, which will be held in the Sixth Floor Conference Room, are open to the public, but will not be televised.

October 18, 2010

Grandma may not be dead, even if she smells bad

SEVERNA PARK, Md. - A Maryland woman police reported dead after finding her blue and not breathing in her home was actually alive. Police were called to check on 89-year-old Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson on Oct. 1. According to a report, officers found her motionless on her bathroom floor, and one officer noted an odor "similar to a decomposition smell."

But officers did not check for a pulse. Instead, they called Johnson's adult son and told him his mother was dead. The man said Johnson planned to donate her body to science. A State Anatomy Board employee arriving to take the body three hours later heard Johnson take a deep breath and saw her move her arm. Johnson was rushed to a hospital. She was discharged Wednesday. Neighbors said she has been moved to a hospice. SOURCE: FOX

Chandra Levy Trial Finally Begins

The person is associated with the mysterious slaying of Washington intern Chandra Levy, it isn't the man who will soon be tried on charges he murdered her. It's former California congressman Gary Condit, whose political career imploded after he was romantically linked to the woman and became the No. 1 suspect. Ingmar Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, goes on trial Monday for Levy's 2001 killing. However, he's not even a blip on the national consciousness of the case, which dominated news coverage until the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks rendered it an afterthought.

While police no longer believe Condit had anything to do with Levy's death, his presence will continue to hang over the trial. Condit's spokesman, Bert Fields, said Condit expects to be called as a witness at Guandique's trial, though he has not been subpoenaed. Condit will cooperate fully with authorities, Fields said. But the ex-congressman, who is writing a book about his experience, will not comment on the trial until it ends.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office, declined comment on the case and whether Condit will be called as a witness, citing a gag order issued earlier this month. Defense attorneys are also subject to the gag order. But when Guandique was charged in 2009 with Levy's murder, they criticized what they saw as a botched investigation. Guandique escaped scrutiny in large part because of the frenzy around Condit. The former congressman never admitted an affair but said he was friends with Levy, though the intern had told family members the two had a romantic relationship.

“This flawed investigation, characterized by the many mistakes and missteps of the Metropolitan Police Department and every federal agency that has attempted to solve this case, will not end with the simple issuance of an arrest warrant against Mr. Guandique,” said the attorneys, Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo. SOURCE: NBC

Rockville hit-and-run leaves two teens injured


Accident closes inner loop closed today

BETHESDA, Md. - Expect your morning commute to be longer than normal if you take the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway through Montgomery County or Interstate 270. Chuck Gischlar, Maryland State Highway spokesman, tells WTOP the Inner Loop may be closed for a while. It is shut down after Old Georgetown Road. The closure is between Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike. Gischlar suggests Bradley Boulevard as an alternative.

The severity of the accident has the Maryland Department of Transportation suggesting drivers use the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Drivers on I-495 North are are forced to exit onto I-270 North. You then have to take I-270 South to get back on the Beltway. You can get onto the Beltway from Old Georgetown Road, according to WTOP Traffic Reporter Lisa Baden. The Outer Loop is open, but there is a lot of rubbernecking. A tractor trailer overturned at 4:50 a.m., according to WTOP Traffic.

The accident occurred on Interstate 495 North between I-270 North and Old Georgetown Road. Police are documenting the accident. WTOP

October 17, 2010

Obama Administration opposes California measure to legalize marijuana

Attorney General Eric Holder is warning that the federal government will not look the other way, as it has with medical marijuana, if voters next month make California the first state to legalize pot. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, which drug agents will "vigorously enforce" against anyone carrying, growing or selling it, Holder said.

The comments in a letter to ex-federal drug enforcement chiefs were the attorney general's most direct statement yet against Proposition 19 and set up another showdown with California over marijuana if the measure passes. With Prop 19 leading in the polls, the letter also raised questions about the extent to which federal drug agents would go into communities across the state to catch small-time users and dealers, or whether they even had the resources to do it. Medical marijuana users and experts were skeptical, saying there was little the federal government could do to slow the march to legalization.

"This will be the new industry," said Chris Nelson, 24, who smokes pot to ease recurring back pain and was lined up outside a San Francisco dispensary. "It's taxable new income. So many tourists will flock here like they go to Napa. This will become the new Amsterdam."

If the ballot measure passes, the state would regulate recreational pot use. Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug and grow small gardens on private property. Local governments would decide whether to allow and tax sales. The Justice Department remains committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act in all states, Holder said.

"We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," he wrote.

The letter was dated Wednesday and was obtained by The Associated Press. Holder also said legalizing recreational marijuana would be a "significant impediment" to the government's joint efforts with state and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers, who often distribute pot alongside cocaine and other drugs. The attorney general said the ballot measure's passage would "significantly undermine" efforts to keep California cites and towns safe.

Officials in Los Angeles County, where authorities have aggressively moved to tamp down on an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, vowed that they would still assist the federal government in drug investigations. County Sheriff Lee Baca and District Attorney Steve Cooley said at a news conference that the law would be unenforceable because it is trumped by federal laws that prohibit marijuana cultivation and possession.

"We will continue as we are today regardless of whether it passes or doesn't pass," Baca said. His deputies don't and won't go after users in their homes, but public use of the drug will be targeted, he said.

Both gubernatorial candidates — Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman — oppose Prop 19 and declined comment Friday. The ex-Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs sent a letter to Holder in August calling on the Obama administration to sue California if Prop 19 passes. They said legalizing pot presented the same threat to federal authority as Arizona's recent immigration law. In that case, Justice Department lawyers filed a lawsuit to block the enforcement of the law, saying that it infringed on federal powers to regulate immigration and therefore violated the U.S. Constitution. The case is now before a federal appeals court.

Experts say the two situations are not the same. If Arizona wants to crack down on illegal immigration more strictly than the federal government, the U.S. can act to prevent police in the state from enforcing the law, said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who studies the conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws. If California prevents police from enforcing the stricter federal ban on marijuana, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government cannot order local law enforcement to act, he said.

Barbara Billingsley Dies: 'Leave It To Beaver' Mom Dead At 94

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Barbara Billingsley, who gained the title supermom for her gentle portrayal of June Cleaver, the warm, supportive mother of a pair of precocious boys in "Leave it to Beaver," has died. She was 94. Spokeswoman Judy Twersky says Billingsley died early Saturday at her home in Santa Monica. She had suffered from a rheumatoid disease. She acted in a number of roles in movies from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, but it wasn't until "Leave it to Beaver" that she became a star. When the show debuted in 1957, Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver, was 9, and Tony Dow, who portrayed Wally, was 12. Billingsley's character, the perfect stay-at-home 1950s mom, was always there to gently but firmly nurture both through the ups and downs of childhood. SOURCE: Huffington Post

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