November 20, 2010

Oxon Hill Man Linked To Dozens of Va. Burglaries

FAIRFAX, Va. - Fairfax County police say investigators believe a man arrested in Maryland is the burglar responsible for breaking into dozens of northern Virginia homes while residents slept. After seeing a man break into cars in Potomac, Md., police say officers stopped the man's car early Wednesday morning. Officers arrested 34-year-old Brad Edmonds of Oxon Hill, Md., and charged him with burglary and related offenses after searches of his home and car found items linked to the Virginia burglaries. Police linked one person to more that 100 residential burglaries and other incidents in Fairfax County and believed the same person was involved in similar incidents in surrounding jurisdictions. It's not yet clear how many of these incidents Edmonds will be charged in.

Leventhal will support sale despite Board of Ed & Superintendent objections

The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD has learned that County Councilmember George Leventhal will support the sale of 19.5 acres of Montgomery County school land for $1.9 million. According to Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation records the site to be sold is currently assessed at $33,162,766. (See image at left.) The land to be sold for $1.9 million is the site of the former Peary High School in Rockville, Maryland.

The MCPS Board of Education has publicly stated their objection to the sale of this 19.5 acre school site at least three times in the last five years. The Board of Education objected to the sale of this property on October 11, 2005, they stated their objection again on October 25, 2010, and reiterated their objection again on November 18, 2010. READ MORE: Parents' Coalition

Weekend Tune: KFC Freestyle Delonte West

Montgomery Council Committees to Discuss Glenmont Fire Station, Retirement Disability Reform on Monday, Nov. 22

ROCKVILLE, Md., November 22 , 2010—The Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday, Nov. 22, will discuss Bill 21-10 that would lead to replacement of Glenmont Fire Station 18. The bill would authorize the County to plan, design and construct a new station because the existing station must be demolished to accommodate a major intersection improvement at Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road. The Public Safety Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The committee also will receive a progress report on the proposed consolidation of communications equipment between the County Police and Park Police.

At 9:30 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, a joint meeting of the Public Safety Committee and the Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committee will continue its discussions on reform of the County’s disability retirement regulations. It has been proposed that the County implement a system for total and partial disability options for all employees.

At 10:30 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the MFP Committee will address Bill 49-10 that would grant County employees additional leave if they become organ donors. It also will discuss Executive Regulation 12-10 that would implement an excise tax on major emitters of carbon dioxide.

At 2 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee will hold a worksession on Bill 6-10 that would create noise control parameters for arts and entertainment activities.

November 19, 2010

DC Assistant Chief Diane Groomes on Leave Amid Cheating Allegations

WASHINGTON - An assistant D.C. police chief is on administrative leave while the department investigates allegations that she was involved in cheating on a test given to command staff. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced Friday that Assistant Chief Diane Groomes is on leave and Assistant Chief Alfred Durham will oversee the Patrol Services and School Security Bureau. The department says it is investigating an allegation Groomes was involved in comprising a test administered to some command staff members as part of their annual in-service training. Department officials say test results for all members of the command staff have been invalidated and a new test will be developed. The Department's Internal Affairs Division is investigating the allegations.

Statement by Assistant Chief Diane Groomes to FOX 5:

"I am sorry for my actions and bad judgment...and bringing discredit to the best chief...police department and city."

A strategy for the Montgomery County GOP

The dust has settled and the same people who created Montgomery's financial mess are now re-elected - so we can all brace ourselves for the overwhelming tax increases that are surely coming. The election raised a number of questions for the Republican party in Montgomery to ponder, to wit:

o What was the message the party transmitted to the voters?
o if it was a sound message, why did the voters overwhelmingly reject it?
o Why did all the GOP candidates refuse to identify themselves as Republicans in their literature?

The answer to the first question is easy - there was NO coherent message. Not one of reform certainly. There were allusions to fighting "special interests" (the definition of special interests remaining undefined), there was a commitment by one candidate to eliminating speed cameras (as if getting a $40 ticket once or twice a year amounts to a hill of beans), and there were other pledges so unmemorable that I cannot recall even one of them. The overwhelming rejection of the GOP was likely due to the following factors:

o Overwhelming Post support (with a monopoly circulation of one million or more) for the Democrat machine in Maryland and Montgomery. The Post bias was so extreme that the Republican party in Montgomery should seriously consider originating a campaign to urge sensible voters to "boycott the Post." There are times when the best defense is a good offense. The last thing need is a Democrat machine with a monopoly on press coverage.

o Failure of the GOP to fill the news vacuum (created by the Post) concerning the gross mismanagement by the county incumbents - that has led to an ongoing financial crisis that is inexcusable in the light of the county's general prosperity (due to the government payroll and contracts).

o A non-existent county GOP platform - no mention of the need for reform in spending, pay and benefits of county employees and reform of taxation levels.

o No GOP marketing plan - a plan that should be executed continuously year round, not just in election season. One involving speeches, presentations, press releases, blogs, website postings, monitoring of the county government, interviews with the Sun and the Examiner (the Post would never consent to an interview with any Montgomery Republican and would not fairly write it up if it did).

o The likelihood that demographic changes in the county are now so pervasive and overwhelming that it will always and forever be impossible for good government to come about - if too many people benefit from inefficient government and reckless spending there cannot be any victory for the good citizen minority that would like to have good and efficient government. The GOP should do some research to determine why Montgomery voters keep re-electing the Democrat malgovernance machine.

Lethargy is the word that best describes the GOP in Montgomery. Perhaps the party should just give it up and boycott the election on the ground that if the voters are too stupid to vote for good government they deserve the ba government they have.

Richard C. Kreutzberg
Chevy Chase
CLARKSBURG, Md.(CBS) A Montgomery County police officer who struck and paralyzed a young boy with his cruiser received a $185 speeding ticket. It is unclear whether the officer was disciplined by the state or the police department. In the April 2008 incident, 14-year-old Luis Jovel Jr. was rendered a quadriplegic and suffered a permanent brain injury. Due to state confidentiality laws, officials will not say whether Officer Jason Cokinos - who was found not guilty of negligent driving or contributing to an accident - was disciplined by the county's police department, reports The Washington Examiner. Lt. Paul Starks, a spokesman for Montgomery police, told The Washington Examiner that officer Cokinos' case came under the confidentiality laws once the county police internal affairs division became involved.

"When the case is referred to the Internal Affairs Division, it's considered a personnel matter," he said, and personnel matters are confidential.

Cokinos, who was 23-years-old at the time, was reportedly speeding, doing 56 in a 30 mile-per-hour zone, when he struck Luis in front of his Clarksburg home. SOURCE: CBS

Planners reverse opposition to school sale in Aspen Hill

County planners dropped opposition to selling the former Robert E. Peary High School in Aspen Hill to the private school that leases the facility in a surprise reversal Thursday that drew unanimous support from the Planning Board. The vote drew applause from more than two dozen advocates for the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy who attended the board's meeting in support of the academy's effort to buy the building it has leased for more than 14 years. The academy is credited with rehabilitating Peary, which was dilapidated and rundown. The school system closed the school in 1984 and the property sat vacant until Berman moved in.

The change that swayed planners to favor a recent proposal by County Executive Isiah Leggett to sell the 19.5-acre site to the Berman Academy for $1.9 million is a stipulation that proponents say would enable the county to get the building and grounds back more quickly if needed. Planners did not receive the revised proposal until early this week and did not finish reviewing it and giving their support until Wednesday evening, said Glenn Kreger, acting chief of community-based planning for the county. SOURCE: Gazette

PEW: Four in 10 Say Marriage is Becoming Obsolete

Cancer Death Raises New Concern Over Fort Detrick

November 18, 2010

Metro: Train Hits Equipment in Tunnel, No Injuries

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Metro says a train was damaged when it hit a piece of track equipment between the Wheaton and Glenmont stations, but no one was injured. Metro spokeswoman Taryn McNeil said a train with passengers was leaving Wheaton around 11 a.m. Thursday when it hit the equipment, damaging the left side of the train. McNeil did not know what kind of equipment was hit. McNeil says the red line train was able to back up into the station to allow passengers to get off. Trains ran on a single track through the area for about an hour while the area was cleaned up. Regular service has since resumed.

Dead man in box was "Jac" not "Jack"; Suspect Tags are PALNCIA (Not PALIN-CIA)

FREDERICK, Md. - Police say an unidentified body found in a bloody cardboard box along Interstate 70 earlier this week was that of a Hispanic man in a work uniform who appears to have been in his 30s. DC Police identify the body as 36-year-old Jacobo Vazquez. Vazquez had been reported missing on November 12th. The body was found November 16th. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland ruled Vazquez’ death a homicide, cause of death gunshot wounds. The investigation revealed the homicide occurred in the 100 block of Constitution Avenue NW.

A felony arrest warrant has been issued for 34-year-old Marvin Palencia of Hyattsville, MD, who is wanted in connection with this homicide. Police are also attempting to locate the suspect’s 2007 light green or grey Honda Odyssey minivan with Maryland tags bearing “PALNCIA.” The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about the suspect’s whereabouts or this crime should take no action, but call the police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746).

Wootton Basketball Coach Stabbed At His Home

Stephan Seraille, a boys basketball coach at Thomas S. Wootton High School, is recovering from surgery after being stabbed in the stomach at his home on Friday, Nov. 12. Police have not released any information on the details of the incident that led to Seraille being stabbed. But on Thursday, Seraille said he was happy to report that after three days at Suburban Hospital he is back home and feeling better.

"I had emergency surgery and they cleaned up everything," Seraille told Patch over the phone. "I'm up and moving now and taking walks. I'll be ready to roll in about a week."

This is Seraille's sixth year at Wootton, where he coaches the boys junior varsity basketball team and is the assistant coach for the boys varsity team. Varsity basketball Coach Chris Bohlen informed basketball team members and their families of what had happened in an email on Sunday morning.

"I heard from everyone almost immediately that they wanted to go over and see him and they wanted to put meals together for him," Bohlen said. "It's heartwarming to see the kind of support he has in our community. I think it speaks very highly of the kind of person he is."

Lillian Ibeh, mother of varsity player Willis Ibeh, said she and the other parents organized a rotation to bring meals to Seraille each day as he recovers. SOURCE: North Potomac Patch

Howard Co's Ulman to fight teacher pension shift

Sun colleague Larry Carson reports that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will fight any state legislative moves to shift the cost of teacher pensions to local governments. The Democratic Ulman, who becomes the next president of the Maryland Association of Counties in January, picks up the anti-pension-shift torch from Republican Harford County Executive David Craig, MACo's current leader. Carson writes:

"We're going to be down there [in Annapolis] working hard to make the case that there should not be a pension shift. We already pick up Social Security," Ulman said.

State officials argue that counties set teacher salaries that determine their pensions, so it's not fair for the state to foot the whole bill, but Ulman tried to deflect that by pointing out that the elected school board sets the salaries, not the county executive. In any case, "I don't think that [the shift] is a foregone conclusion," he said.

Both Ulman and Craig see Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley as an ally on the teacher pension issue. A former mayor of Baltimore, O'Malley knows how difficult a time local governments would have picking up even a portion of the $900 million annual tab, Ulman and Craig say. In a recent article about tax talk bubbling up in Annapolis, Craig expressed his fears that state lawmakers will try to offload the revenue problem to counties. Local officials say they'd likely have no choice but to raise property taxes if they have to start paying for teacher pensions.

"It comes down to an attempt to shove costs to the local governments," Craig said. He noted that local officials are the people most likely to challenge state delegates and senators for their seats.

"They want us to be the ones raising taxes," he said. "They want us to be the ones to look bad." SOURCE: Baltimoree Sun

Mooney considers state party top job

Still "recovering" from his loss to Democrat Ronald N. Young on Nov. 2, three-term state Sen. Alexander X. Mooney said he is considering running for Maryland GOP's top job.

"People have asked me to think about it and I haven't said no to it," said Mooney (R-Dist. 3) of Urbana. "It takes a lot of time and it doesn't pay anything, and I need to make money to support my family."

The Maryland Republican Party convenes Dec. 11 in Annapolis to elect new leaders. Nominations must come in the form of three signatures from central committee members from at least three counties, and be turned in by 6 p.m. Dec. 10, according to Ryan Mahoney, spokesman for Maryland State Central Committee. Though Mooney, the executive director for the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., is worried about taking on such a hefty role without compensation, he believes he could do it well.

"I love politics and I'd be good at raising money for the party," Mooney said. "The job is high profile and would allow me to continue to fight for the Republican principles that I believe in."

The new chair will succeed Audrey Scott, who took the reins from Jim Pelura in November 2009. Mahoney said others rumored to be considering the state party's top spot are Mike Estève, leader of the Maryland Federation of College Republicans; Sam Hale, who was field director for Brian Murphy, who lost his gubernatorial bid; Murphy himself; and Eric Wargotz, who lost a bid for U.S. Senate. SOURCE: Gazette

Discovery Communications to reopen Discovery Garden in Silver Spring on weekends

The Discovery Garden in Silver Spring, a public park that closed in early September in response to a hostage crisis at Discovery Communications, will reopen immediately during daylight hours on weekends only, according to a statement from the company on Tuesday. Discovery plans to file an amendment to its site agreement with the Montgomery County Planning Department in the next few weeks to make modest changes to the Discovery Garden, said Tammy Shea, vice president of corporate communications for Discovery. The company, which did not detail what the changes would be, also plans to reopen its public lobby.

An independent firm hired by Discovery completed a security assessment soon after James J. Lee entered the headquarters Sept. 1 waving a starter pistol and wearing metallic canisters strapped to his body. Lee took three men hostage and was fatally shot by law enforcement officers. The independent firm identified a number of adjustments that should be made to the lobby and Discovery Garden to guarantee the safety of Discovery's employees, the children in the on-site daycare center and the public, according to the statement. SOURCE: Gazette

Obama 'flat-footed' at G-20 summit

DANIEL VOVAK: I include this article because it has been virtually absent from the American media.

President Obama hoped to leave the Group of 20 trade summit boasting a free-trade agreement with South Korea and a host of accords with other countries, but he looks to leave Seoul empty-handed. A trade pact between the U.S. and South Korea, first negotiated by the Bush administration, failed to materialize after Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak couldn’t agree on protections for American workers. Major disputes erupted between the U.S., China, Britain, Germany and Brazil, as each country rejected Obama’s strategy to focus on economic growth before deficit reduction. The international community, joined by former U.S. Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, accused the U.S. of intentionally devaluing its currency to give an edge to American exports. The tone of the summit was a stark departure from recent meetings on the global economy, in which leaders largely came to agreement on economic policy.

With the leaders of the world gathering for two days of economic points and counterpoints under the aegis of the G-20, Seoul has become the scene of a showdown between a testy set of European and Asian powers and a rather flummoxed and flat-footed America represented by President Obama in all his post-Nov. 2 glory and malaise.

The agenda of the meeting has long been telegraphed by multiple mini-summits over the past few months, but with the announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve this month of $600 billion in further “quantitative easing” (read: printing more money), the tenor has shifted. Two years after the uncorking of the global financial crisis, the United States faces a cohort of other wealthy nations that have had it with being told what to do by Americans, regardless of the merits. They are in a mood to lecture and berate, and recent statements by Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke’s actions, have given them ample fodder. CONTINUE READING in Daily Beast

November 17, 2010

Is found body, Jack in the box?

Wargotz considering bid for MDGOP chairman, decision by 12/2

By John Wagner

Add Eric Wargotz to the list of those considering a bid for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. Wargotz, this year's unsuccessful GOP Senate nominee (depicted here in a memorable TV ad), confirmed in an interview that he is "certainly considering" a run for chairman and said he will decide by Dec. 2 -- nine days in advance of a scheduled party vote.

"We need to change the mindset -- the idea that Republicans can't win here," said Wargotz, a member of the Queen Anne's County Board of Commissioners and a doctor. "I'm a physician. I believe there's a cure and a diagnosis for everything."

Wargotz lost on Nov. 2 to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), 62 percent to 36 percent. Among other potential hopefuls for chairman, Mary Kane is currently the best-known. Kane, who was the running mate this year of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), said this week that she is pursuing the party leadership post once held by her husband, John Kane. SOURCE: Washington Post

Red Montgomery: Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Cam...

Red Montgomery: Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Cam...: "This is a must read!  I just got my copy Thursday I can’t put this book down.  What book you ask it is Craig Shirley’s book Rendezvous with ..."

Andrews requests log of county expenses on ambulance fee issue

A Montgomery County councilman is asking County Executive Isiah Leggett's office to report how much taxpayer money the county spent advocating for a county ambulance fee, which appeared on the Nov. 2 ballot as a referendum question. Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg estimates that the cost could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in employee time and printed materials.

However, a county spokesman said that all costs related to the county's campaign cannot be determined. The county likely would release the cost of printed materials — about $10,000 — but not the cost of employee time, county spokesman Patrick K. Lacefield said. In a memo sent Tuesday, Andrews requested a full accounting and breakout of the spending on Question A, which asked voters to approve or reject the ambulance fee. SOURCE: Gazette

Cat v. Alligator