December 11, 2010

Man Punches Silver Spring Radio Shack Employee, Steals Playstation 3 Console

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Police are hoping a series of images from a store surveillance camera will help inspire somebody to call them with the name of the man seen punching a Radio Shack employee in the face as she tried to stop him from stealing a $300 Playstation 3 video game system at her store in Silver Spring Monday afternoon. Montgomery County Police say the woman was not hurt. The man seen in the video images ran off with the Playstation 3 and hasn't been seen since. If you recognize the person in the images call Crime Solvers. You may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000. The phone number is 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Accomplishments of 16th Montgomery County Council (2006-10)

ROCKVILLE, Md., December 7, 2010—On Monday, Dec. 6, the 16th Council of Montgomery County served its final day and the 17th Council was sworn in at ceremonies at Rockville High School. Sworn as part of the 17th Council were returning incumbents Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Nancy Navarro. Newly elected Hans Riemer and Craig Rice are beginning their first terms. All were elected in November to four-year terms.

Serving full terms on the 16th Council were Councilmembers Andrews, Berliner, Elrich, Ervin, Floreen, Leventhal, Mike Knapp and Duchy Trachtenberg. Councilmember Navarro took office on June 3, 2009, after winning a special election to represent District 4. Councilmember Marilyn Praisner passed away while in office on Feb. 1, 2008. She was replaced on May 27, 2008, by her husband, Don Praisner, who won a special election. He passed away while in office on Jan. 30, 2009.

One-year terms as president for 16th Council were served by Marilyn Praisner (Dec. 2006-Dec. 2007), Mike Knapp (Dec. 2007-Dec. 2008), Phil Andrews (Dec. 2008-Dec. 2009) and Nancy Floreen (Dec. 2009-Dec. 2010). The following are the major accomplishments of the 16th Montgomery County Council:


- Passed Fiscal Year 2008 Operating Budget that included no new taxes
- Formed ad hoc agricultural policy working group formed
- Received report analyzing Clarksburg development districts
- Formed Girls in Information Technology working group formed
- Formed Mansionization task force to evaluate and propose specific solutions to the problems posed by infill development in lower Montgomery County
- Formed Infrastructure Working Group
- Provided financial aid to farmers impacted by summer drought
- Revised Road Code that will lead to changes to street and road design. Changes will have considerable impact in future subdivisions, including the creation of streets that will be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and standards that will improve stormwater management
- Approved bill that will prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, public accommodations, cable television service and taxicab service
- Approved an appropriation of $250,000 to help qualifying group homes that provide special services to individuals install automatic fire sprinklers to protect the safety of the homes’ residents
- Implemented Safe Speed program, becoming the first county in Maryland to use speed cameras to enforce speed limits in residential areas and school zones with a speed limit of 35 mph or less and school zones with any speed limit
- Approved Green Building Certification Program to allow a property tax credit for high performance buildings certified by the United States Green Buildings Council (USGB) or equivalent
- Initiated Council president holding weekly briefings with media to help improve communications with the public


- Held increase for FY09 Operating Budget to rate of inflation
- Approved Germantown and Twinbrook sector plans
- Approved package of seven climate change bills, placing Montgomery among the foremost counties in the nation with legislation of this scope
- Required contracts for domestic workers—becoming one of the few jurisdictions in the nation to have such protection
- Approved agreement that would lead to establishment of Live Nation Fillmore music hall in downtown Silver Spring
- Implemented a mid-year budget savings plan for FY08
- Required home sellers to disclose approximate property tax new owners would be responsible for paying
- Approved policy to prohibit investment in Sudan
- Banned on use of trans fats in County restaurants
- Approved bill that requires contractors and subcontractors to pay prevailing wages to workers on construction projects valued at more than $500,000 that are awarded or financed by County government.
- Approved $33 million mid-year savings plan for FY09 (November) Councilmembers Mike Knapp and Nancy Floreen are first Councilmembers to start blogs as part of effort to improve communications with residents
- NOTE: Councilmember Marilyn Praisner, who had been in office 17 years, passed away on Feb. 1. Her husband, Don Praisner, won a special election to represent District 4. He took office on May 27.


Council made major transportation recommendations on proposed projects:
- To build the Corridor Cities Transitway
- To build the Purple Line that will connect the Bethesda and New Carrollton Metro stations
- To widen I-270 by adding High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes
- The approved total operating budget, without MCPS-related debt service, was increased by only 1.2 percent
- Adopted Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) that would assist homeowners in making their houses more energy efficient
- Opened the first Montgomery County Family Justice Center providing protection for victims of domestic violence
- Approved hiring priority for people with disabilities
- Approved resolution to require pregnancy centers to disclose scope of service
- Opened new Germantown/Kingsview Fire Station 22 in March—the first new full operation fire station opened in County in 25 years
- Passed reforms for County’s Disability Retirement law for employees
- Prohibited large trucks and recreational vehicles from parking on certain residential streets
- Approved purchase of both the east and west sides of a 127-acre parcel of land along Snouffer School Road in Gaithersburg commonly known as the Webb Tract. Purchase moved ahead a portion of the relocations needed to implement the Shady Grove Sector Plan and the proposal to consolidate and relocate a number of County facilities
- Created Workforce Investment Scholarship program to provide tuition funding assistance for undergraduate students at Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove who are pursuing degrees in fields of significant occupational need in Montgomery County.
- Approved nutrition labeling bill that requires an establishment with at least 20 national locations that offer the same type of menu at each location to post information on calories on the menu or menu board for any standardized menu item.
- NOTE: Councilmember Don Praisner passed away on Jan. 30. Nancy Navarro won a special election to represent District 4 and took office in June.


- Adopted the first decreased overall budget since the County Charter was approved in 1968
- Approved two mid-year savings plans totaling $100 million
- Commissioned an Office of Legislative Oversight report on the County’s structural deficit Created the Business Development Corporation
- Created the Montgomery Organizational Reform Commission
- Urged Maryland Public Service Commission to open investigation on Pepco reliability and communications
- Approved Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan
- Approved White Flint Sector Plan and plan to finance public infrastructure
- Backed continued operation of Sligo Creek Golf Course
- Maintained AAA bond rating after being placed on “negative watch list” by Moody’s bond-rating agency
- Approved first six-year balanced fiscal plan
- Established new policies for County’s budget reserves
- Approved Carbon Emitters Tax impacting major emitters of carbon
- Approved Purple Line Functional Plan revisions addressing station locations, alignment of some portions of the route and adding access points the adjacent Capital Crescent Trail.
- Appointed Francoise Carrier as Planning Board chair
- Abolished Clarksburg Town Center Development District
- Established new Clarksburg Infrastructure Working Group that will review and prioritize the necessary infrastructure items for the Clarksburg area and propose suitable mechanisms to finance the recommended infrastructure for the upcounty community Implemented accessory apartment disclaimer
- Dedicated Germantown/Milestone Fire Station in September
- Approved funding for new Glenmont Fire Station
- Approved biotech investment incentive tax credit supplement
- Established hiring preferences for people with disabilities
- Implemented spending disclosure Web site as part of open government
- Required availability of equal benefits to same sex domestic partners of employees of County contractors
- Approved regulation requiring pregnancy centers in County to disclose actual scope of their services
- Commissioned Office of Legislative Oversight report comparing Montgomery and Fairfax counties
- Approved Zoning Text Amendment whose provisions include limiting parking in the front yards of properties in many neighborhoods. Among the aims of the was to better enforce home business provisions
- Met jointly for first time ever with Mayor and Council of Gaithersburg and the Rockville Mayor and Council. Subject of discussions was proposed Great Seneca Science Corridor plan
- Hosted first Council Town Hall Meeting for students that was attended by more than 400
- Established phone information line for residents to offer input on budget and area on home page of the Council web site that provides complete information on the budget process
- Approved sale of former Peary High School in Aspen Hill to Berman Hebrew Academy, which had rented facility since 1996.

December 10, 2010

Holly Morris and Tony Perkins - Stuff A Truck

Holly Morris and Tony Perkins helped kick off the 2010 Stuff A Truck giving campaign! Watch the all of the videos to see our friends Christel Hair and Lynn Brantley from the Capital Area Food Bank, Ivy Rose, Pete Piringer Of DC Fire and EMS, the Redskins Cheerleaders, Callan Kruchten of The Potomac Harmony Chorus, Screech and Slapshot, Big Tigger, Danella and Kandi, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Graham, Tyler Naake of Jellef Community Center, Torch Club President Jamie Elliott,

Mary Kane video for her MDGOP chairman bid; plus 'Women for Mooney' video

Forgive me, Montgomery County Democrats, but its not like Republicans can get excited over much in Maryland.

Mary Kane video

Women for Mooney Isn't this video ironic?!

UNHEALTHY: Bethesda's NIH blocks Wikileaks, follows Library of Congress in suppressing information on War

Reaction continues to pour in from all over the world since the Library of Congress confirmed December 3 that it was blocking access from all LC computers to the WikiLeaks website in order to prevent unauthorized downloading of classified records as ordered by the Office of Management and Budget. LC’s action raised red flags in libraries all over the country as librarians struggled with the implications of the nation’s library barring staff and visitors’ access to the classified diplomatic cables WikiLeaks released in November.

“The news media are reporting today, accurately, that the Library of Congress is blocking access to the WikiLeaks site across its computer systems, including those for use by patrons in the reading rooms,” wrote LC spokesperson Matt Raymond. “The Library decided to block WikiLeaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information.” Pamela C. Sieving, biomedical librarian at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, shared with the ALA Council discussion list a directive issued to NIH employees:

Except as authorized by their agencies and pursuant to agency procedures, federal employees or contractors shall not, while using computers or other devices (such as Blackberries or Smart Phones) that access the web on non-classified government systems, access documents that are marked classified (including classified documents publicly available on the WikiLeaks and other websites), as doing so risks that material still classified will be placed onto non-classified systems.

This requirement applies to access that occurs either through agency or contractor computers, or through employees’ or contractors’ personally owned computers that access non-classified government systems. This requirement does not restrict employee or contractor access to non-classified, publicly available news reports (and other non-classified material) that may in turn discuss classified material, as distinguished from access to underlying documents that themselves are marked classified (including if the underlying classified documents are available on public websites or otherwise in the public domain).

Within a week, Raymond’s posting had garnered 152 responses, many from commenters self-identifying as librarians. Some quoted the First Amendment or ALA’s Library Bill of Rights in condemning the website ban. “What next? Will LC pull the Pentagon Papers from the stacks and burn them with all the other banned books in a bonfire in the main reading room?” John Galt chided. Others lauded LC for its principled move. “While the cat is certainly out of the bag, the position of the LOC in blocking access in this case is completely reasonable,” Kevin Fitzpatrick declared, adding, “Anyone wishing to find the released information will have no real difficulty in doing so. That does not however mean that we the taxpayer need make it easier by providing that access.”

Three days after Raymond posted LC’s explanation, Secrecy News Editor Steven Aftergood observed, “Since the Congressional Research Service is a component of the Library, this means that CRS researchers will be unable to access or to cite the leaked materials in their research reports to Congress. Several current and former CRS analysts expressed perplexity and dismay about the move, and they said it could undermine the institution’s research activities.”

READ MORE: American Libraries Online

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett endorses State Sen. Alex Mooney over Mary Kane

State to open new District Court building in Rockville in February

Routine construction delays and winter snowstorms are pushing the opening of the new District Court building in downtown Rockville to mid-February. At the same time, some people are questioning the intense sunlight reflection off the windows on the south side of the building, nicknaming it a "death ray." Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio's office is on the side of City Hall that faces the courthouse across Vinson Street.

"You can see the big parabola of light shining over to City Hall. It does make it quite warm," she said. "Any day you have a sunny day and you're cold, come on over we will warm you up."

Marcuccio said she is confident the state would address the concern. Barthol L. Thomas, acting assistant secretary for Facilities Planning, Design and Construction at the state Department of General Services. said the state is already working on a solution.

"We learned about it last week and we've turned it over to our design firm," he said. "It created a problem, we are working on it and we hope to have a plan for a solution within the next couple days."

The original expected completion date for the courthouse was early December.

"This is not unusual on a job of this complexity," Thomas said. "We had two blizzards last winter and we couldn't get to the job site. This is normal and not an unforeseen delay."

The $59.9 million project sits on the former site of the Rockville Library at the corner of Jefferson Street and Maryland Avenue. It sits across Jefferson Street from the current District Court building. The new courthouse is 167,072 square feet and six stories tall. It will contain nine courtrooms and four hearing rooms, courtroom holding areas, and offices for judicial administration, court clerks, commissioners, advocate services, public defenders, parole and probation, and the Drunk Driver Monitoring Program, according to state officials. SOURCE: Gazette

MOCO GOP Chairman drops out; endorses Mary Kane

Below is the letter from Montgomery County Republican Chairman Mark Uncapher

Fellow Maryland Republican Central Committee Members

As many of you know, I believe that in order for the Maryland Republican Party to grow, we need to welcome far broader participation by more Republicans in party business than has been our past practice. This means more than just inviting people to “follow us.”  It requires our giving more Republicans an active say in what we do as a party.  

  Too often party leadership’s penchant to operate in secrecy has left the impression that they were “hiding” things that could just as easily have been made public without any embarrassment.  For example, we have quite literally let the fear of press leaks limit the manner of distribution of basic financial information, even among County Chairmen.    The circumstances regarding other decisions, such as the failure to designate an Attorney General candidate, remains so shrouded in mystery that the rest of the party still deserves a more complete explanation.  

As a candidate for State Party Treasurer, I have focused on the need for more financial transparency. Tonight, for example, our Executive Committee will consider a draft budget for 2011.  Consistent with past practice, a draft still has not been circulated in advance of the meeting.  Contrast the way Maryland Republicans operate with the congressional "Read the Bill" reform movement.  This requires that the full text of any bill be publicly available at least 72 hours before consideration, giving members a minimal time to consider what they are voting on.  (See )   It is a good model that we ought to consider following ourselves.  

As a society our institutions are moving away from centralized, hierarchical organizations toward more networked structures in which individuals are empowered by communications technology to share information and take their own initiative to act.  In order for our party to take full advantage of these opportunities, we must be more transparent and more inclusive in how we operate.  

I am very confident that as our party’s next Chairman, Mary Kane will change the state party’s “the fewer in the know the better” style of top-down decision making.  She understands that if we want people to follow us, we need to actively engage them more widely from the outset.  But frankly it is the Chairman who will be the key to changing our party's operating style.    

I am stepping aside as a candidate for Treasurer and endorsing Mary and Chris Rosenthal for Chairman and Treasurer respectively.   I very much appreciate the warm support that so many Central Committee members extended me.   Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to continuing to work with you to build a stronger Maryland Republican Party.  

Mark Uncapher
Central Committee Member, LD 16
Montgomery County Republican Chairman 

Snyder disappointed in Haynesworth and Redskins as a whole

BRISTOW, Va. -- Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said that he is “personally frustrated” over the way his team’s season has played out, and expressed regret that the record-setting signing of Albert Haynesworth didn’t pay off.

“I’m personally frustrated we’re 5-7 and looking forward to winning our next game,” said Snyder, who spoke after the dedication of the Washington Redskins Courage House at Joe Gibbs’ Youth for Tomorrow campus in Prince William County.

Snyder stressed a need for patience, but said that he believes that coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have the Redskins on the right track.

“When you have a new organization in place with Bruce Allen and his team, and coach Shanahan, it takes time,” said Snyder, who spoke with the media for the first time since training camp. “With coach Gibbs, it took time to get his organization shaped the way he wanted to, and the next year we made the playoffs and made a run, and I’m looking forward to the future.”

Snyder at first declined to answer questions about Haynesworth, whom the Redskins on Tuesday suspended for the remainder of the season for conduct detrimental to the team. He said, “Coach has said enough at this point. He speaks for all of us and we’re in good hands with him.” Asked a second time about Haynesworth, Snyder conceded, and briefly expressed his disappointments.

“I wish it had worked out better,” Snyder said. “I wish he played better and everybody played better at this point, but really we’re just trying to win the next game.” SOURCE: TBD

Montgomery County Council Elects Valerie Ervin as President, Roger Berliner as Vice President for 2010-11 Year

ROCKVILLE, December 7, 2010—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously elected Valerie Ervin as president and Roger Berliner as vice president of the Council. They will serve one-year terms as officers of the Council. Councilmember Ervin, who represents District 5, served as vice president of the Council for the past year. Councilmember Berliner, who represents District 1, served as vice president of the Council the previous year. On Dec. 6 at Rockville High School, each was sworn in to begin their second term on the Council. Also sworn in as part of the 17th Council of Montgomery County were returning incumbents Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Nancy Navarro. Newly elected Hans Riemer and Craig Rice are beginning their first terms. All were elected in November to four-year terms.

“This year, I propose that we get back to basics, focus on disciplined governing, and implement long-term structural changes in the interest of our community,” said Council President Ervin. “The challenges that we will face during the upcoming year are squarely focused on pocket-book economics, and we will devote our time to maintaining the quality of life in Montgomery County. We must make the tough decisions that will keep this County on the course of greatness that helped to determine why nearly a million people have chosen to live here, and why so many who are drawn to innovation and opportunity choose to work here. We have our challenges, but we will approach them with the confidence of knowing that if any community has the capacity to adapt, it is Montgomery County.”

Council President Ervin represents District 5, which includes Kensington, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Wheaton. She chairs the Council’s Education Committee and serves on the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which conducts budget reviews and program oversight for various County departments and offices. As an advocate for the interests of working families and improving the lives of children, she has pushed Montgomery County to the forefront of the universal preschool movement.

Council Vice President Berliner was first elected to the Montgomery County Council in November 2006 as the District 1 representative for the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Potomac areas. He begins the new term as chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee and as a member of the Public Safety Committee. He also serves as the Council’s representative to the County’s Sustainability Working Group and Green Economic Task Force. Regionally, he is on the Washington Regional Board of Directors of the Council of Governments where he is an active member of the Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee.

December 9, 2010

National Christmas Tree Lighting In DC

Christmas has arrived in Washington. With the flip of a switch/push of a button, President Barack Obama lit the National Christmas Tree -- a 40-foot Colorado blue spruce growing on a grassy area near the White House known as the Ellipse. Obama was accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha. The tradition dates to 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge presided over the lighting a national Christmas tree. Thursday's event kicks off days of holiday celebrations in the nation's capital.

Man accused in bomb plot had prior criminal charges in MOCO

Before being charged in a jihadist plot to kill American soldiers in Catonsville with a car bomb, Antonio Martinez was a petty thief in the D.C. suburbs. At age 16, he was arrested for armed robbery. Juvenile records aren't public, but two years later – in the span of a few weeks – he was charged with trying to steal a car in Bladensburg and snatching money from a cash register at a store in Rockville.

Federal authorities say on Wednesday, Martinez, a recent convert to Islam who goes by Muhammad Hussain, was arrested after trying to pull off a bombing at the Armed Forces Career Center on Baltimore National Pike. FBI agents had engaged Martinez after being tipped off to his rants on Facebook, and monitored him as he schemed to punish U.S. military forces for what he viewed as attacks on Muslims.

This week's attempt involved a dummy bomb supplied by an undercover agent. The 21-year-old had proposed shooting up the recruiting center, according to court records, but believed he would be unable to obtain a gun because of his criminal record. State court files suggest that his record amounts to a single conviction for theft under $100 in 2008 when he and a friend conspired in February 2008 to steal cash from a Safeway. They approached the register under the guise of buying chips, then snatched money when the cashier opened the cash register drawer.

They were chased by the cashier and manager, who later identified them. He pleaded guilty in March 2008 and was given a 90-day suspended sentence, six months probation and was ordered to pay restitution. According to the state Division of Parole and Probation, Martinez did not pay any of the $160 restitution, and the account was sent to the Central Collection Unit.

Later that same month, Martinez was charged in Prince George's County with car theft, but the charges were later dropped when the victim did not appear in court. In that case, court documents show that the victim, Daniel Tobin, told police that he was outside his Bladensburg apartment when he saw Martinez get into his car, drive it a block away, and park it. Tobin told police that he and a friend apprehended Martinez as he got out of the car, and held him until police arrived.

According to court documents, Martinez had a set of Tobin's car keys, complete with a remote fob. Tobin had previously reported a burglary a few days earlier in which car keys were stolen from his apartment. Martinez admitted to police that he'd used the car to drive to a nearby grocery store, the documents state. In 2006 he was charged with armed robbery and handgun offenses in Montgomery County. The outcome of that charge was unclear, because the court records were sealed. SOURCE: Baltimore Sun

Support victis of Communism on 12/10

If you have not yet done so, e-mail us at and let us know that you will be at the rally on December 10 to support Liu Xiaobo. Our thanks to those who have already sent their RSVPs and plan to be there.

December 10, 2010

What: Urgent rally in support of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo! Representatives of international human rights organizations will join with Washington D.C. area political and religious groups to demonstrate support for Dr. Liu and call for his release. Prominent Congressional and human rights leaders will speak.

Where: Victims of Communism Memorial, Massachusetts Ave. and New Jersey Ave., Washington, DC.

When: 11am-12pm. A luncheon and forum on the future for democracy in China will be held at the Heritage Foundation from 12:30 to 2:00 following the rally.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo is a defining moment in the long struggle for democracy in China. The Chinese government is keeping Liu in jail and threatening world leaders not to attend the award ceremony in Oslo on December 10. We must come together to urge the Administration to send a clear message to the Chinese government that its actions are counterproductive and inconsistent with fostering harmony and stability in China and within the world community.

Police Investigating Rape at Retirement Community in Gaithersburg

GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Montgomery County Police are investigating a rape that occurred Tuesday in Gaithersburg. Investigators say the attack happened at the Asbury Methodist Village retirement facility around 11 a.m.

"The preliminary investigation shows an 18-year-old female employee was going into the ladies room where she was confronted by the suspect,” said Corporal Daniel Friz of the Montgomery County Police Department. “He displayed a gun, threatened her with the gun and forcibly raped her."

"My very first split second reaction was disbelief,” said Henry Moehring, Associate Executive Director of Asbury Methodist Village. “It's not something you expect to hear in your normal work day here.”

He says they have taken extra precautions to protect the people who work and live at Asbury Methodist Village.

Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan Community Meetings

Montgomery County planners are drafting a plan for Chevy Chase Lake. While still in the early stages, the sector plan will encourage a walkable community with better public spaces, neighborhood connections and more diversity in residential, retail, and commercial uses – all related to the proposed Purple Line station. You can inform our ideas! Planners, aided by professional facilitators, will host a series of community meetings in the new year. Please come and let us know what you want to see in a future Chevy Chase Lake.

Monday, January 10, 2011, 7-9 p.m.

Presentations by the Chevy Chase Land Company, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, among others, with questions to follow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 7-9 p.m.

Visioning presentations from the larger Chevy Chase Lake community. Meetings will be held at Park and Planning Headquarters, 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring. Each meeting will be webcast live and recorded for viewing later. Learn more at:

For more information, please contact Elza Hisel-McCoy at 301.495.2115 or .

Have a happy and healthy holiday!

Elza Hisel-McCoy, Assoc. AIA, LEED-AP
Planner Coordinator Area One
Montgomery County Planning Department
8787 Georgia Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20910
301.495.2115 p 301.495.1306 f

December 8, 2010

Redskins Suspend Haynesworth 4 Games without Pay

ASHBURN, Va. - Simmering all year, the antagonism between Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan finally reached the boiling point Tuesday when the two-time All-Pro defensive lineman was suspended by the Washington Redskins coach without pay for the rest of the season. Citing a litany of acts that essentially add up to season-long insubordination, the Redskins suspended Haynesworth for "conduct detrimental to the club" and told him he's not welcome for the team's final four games -- and making it extremely unlikely he will play for the club again.

Montgomery County cuts school budget 1% ($19 million)

BETHESDA, Md. - To understand the impact of massive budget cuts on a prestigious school system like Montgomery County, we visited Bethesda's Walter Johnson High School and spoke to its principal, Chris Garran.

"Losing resources always hurts," Garran said.

Walter Johnson is a school community of just under 2,200 students.

"Obviously when you're taking money, important money from the schools, it's going to affect what we're doing here," explained Garran.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has ordered $19 million in cuts to the school system's budget as he struggles to close an expected $300 million budget gap. School system officials say they're already imposed a hiring freeze and a freeze on certain expenditures.

MDGOP: a social club 'firing on all cylinders' but needing core changes

MARYLAND -- On October 22, 2009, soon-to-be-chairman Audrey Scott released a video promising that in 2010 the Maryland Republican Party would be "firing on all cylinders." Republicans on the central committees loved this message and overwhelmingly elected her. A year later, MDGOP chairman candidate Sam Hale has called Scott successful three times in an interview. On the other hand, MDGOP chairman candidate Mary Kane believes any Maryland Republican governor candidate will fail until 2050, according to the Baltimore Sun. (Bill Campbell, Mike Esteve, and Alex Mooney also want to be chairman.)

Republicans believe they are "fair and balanced" and love the "No Spin Zone," except (currently) in Maryland. Not only does Maryland have the worst record for electing statewide Republicans, it also has the most successful Democratic Party in America. In fact, the only living Republicans to have won in Maryland are George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Bob Ehrlich in 2002! Moreover, awful Republican leadership in Maryland (and a continuous use of rose-colored glasses) has allowed Maryland to be home to Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Chris van Hollen (that's 3 of the nation's top 5 Democrats)! Then, add Gov. Martin O'Malley to that list as a presidential contender in 2016 and possibly 2012. Yet as a social club, Maryland is a vibrant place for Republicans! Donors can rub shoulders with lobbyists and elected Republicans from other states, all who converge on Metro Washington, D.C., which has 6 of the 10 richest counties in the United States, including Montgomery County, Maryland, where I am a Republican elected county-wide (to a party-specific position).

On Saturday, December 11, Maryland's Republican committeemen will elect new officers to lead the most embarrassing Republican Party in America. Meanwhile, Maryland's Democrats will continue to laugh at them. Let me share one story about the dismal state of Maryland's Republicans: Montgomery County is Maryland's largest county and has the second most registered Republicans (just behind Baltimore County). We're talking of almost one million people with a county government that has an annual budget of $4 billion! Well, minutes before Mark Uncapher was about to be reelected last month as Montgomery County GOP Chairman, Dan Willard give a brief speech about how the 2010 Republican results in Montgomery County were an improvement over 2006. The truth in Montgomery County is that every Republican lost in 2010 and that O'Malley increased his 2010 vote over his 2006 total by 8,077 votes while Ehrlich decreased his by 22,963. Thus, Republicans can boldly lie to other Republicans in Maryland and still receive hearty applause and then enjoy fine cheese and wine later at splendid cocktail parties!

In 2010, Republicans around America watched as Democrats held 3,015 seats in the state legislature chamber (which most states call the “House”) with Republicans at 2,346. Now, Republicans hold 2,901 seats and Democrats 2,476. In what most states refer to as the “Senate,” Democrats dropped from 1,022 to 891, with Republicans gaining from 892 to 1,018. Meanwhile, in Maryland Republicans gained 6 seats in the House of Delegates and lost 2 State Senate seats. Since each senate seat is equal to three delegate seats, Maryland experienced no gain whatsoever even after Maryland GOP Political Director Ryan Mahoney predicted 7-15 seats gained for delegates and others expected enough State Senate seats to create a filibuster. What polls were used as the foundation for such bunk?

According to WTOP, 15 of Maryland's 23 counties will be run at the local level by Republicans, and nine won't have a single Democrat in their governing body. However, the MDGOP doesn't even list county candidates on its website, leaving all such success merely to the credit of vibrant county GOP chairmen!

Therein lies the clear line-in-the-sand for the Maryland GOP! Rural areas vote Republican while urban areas vote Democrat. For example, in 2010 Bob Ehrlich won in 18 of 24 counties, a fact rarely recognized. In fact, Ehrlich only lost in Montgomery County, Baltimore County (by a handful of votes), Prince George's County, Baltimore City, Howard County, and Charles County! Thus, Ehrlich lost in 5 of the 6 largest counties, which led to his abysmal 14 point loss to O'Malley.

THEORY problems with MDGOP
1. Chairman philosophy v. candidate philosophy. I do not believe it is the job of the Maryland Republican chairman to ever set the policy for any candidate. This was the major legitimate complaint about Chairman Jim Pelura.

2. Stop creating theories! Among the (approximately) 300 committeemen, there are at least 300 theories about how to improve the MDGOP. How many more ideas do we need? If the MDGOP was an army, just imagine if every soldier had a winning strategy in a war.

3. Unity v. debate. We live within a democracy, which allows us to disagree without being disagreeable, all the while accepting majority-rule. Therefore, we are allowed to disagree before primary elections and unify after them. There is no need for Rule 11 before a primary. What we need is Ronald Reagan’s Commandment 11 after a primary: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

FUNCTIONAL solutions for MDGOP
1. Appoint precinct chairman (through the county committees) for all (approximately) 2500 precincts. Then, each precinct needs 5 people (indoors) and 5 people (outdoors) to staff them on election day, working in continuous, overlapping shifts from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those chairmen are also responsible for disseminating candidate information to households, within reason. “Do you know the name and address of your precinct committee chairman?”

2. Make lists of potential 2012 federal candidates and groom candidates for competitive primaries. Then, establish a professional relationship with each viable candidate, offering support, data, and outreach.

3. Begin to study election data at every precinct in Maryland, organizing a team that researches the election data from every precinct. What we will learn is why are Republicans winning in 18 counties, losing in just 6 counties, and getting “shellacked” in statewide results? (Also, why did Eric Wargotz win 12 counties and lose 12, yet overwhelmingly lose to Mikulski?) Only after disseminating quantifiable research can Maryland officers deduce how to craft differences between the national Republican brand and a Maryland Republican brand.

4. Improve interaction among MDGOP leadership, media, blogs, and activist groups. Believe me, when 450 Republicans throw a party and the media is snubbed, press relations get worse, not better.

The 2010 Maryland Republican Convention is likely going to be the "Year of the Woman," with women winning at least 2 of the 6 officer positions, and possibly as many as 4. I have placed the candidates in the order in which I think they will place, with respect to each run-off election.


First Vice Chairman

Second Vice Chairman
Larry Helminiak CARROLL COUNTY

Third Vice Chairman
Collins Bailey CHARLES COUNTY (winner could be next person)

Chris Rosenthal (incumbent) ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

Nora Keenan ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY (winner could be next person)
Alfred Griffin BALTIMORE CITY (winner could be next person)

According to the MDGOP bylaws, "Each of the Party Vice Chairmen performs duties the Party Chairman designates." Could anything be more dismal than running for a seat that has no specific responsibility in Maryland, which is the laughing stock of the Republican Party? Therefore, I would like to suggest roles for each of the vice chairmen, somewhat based on Montgomery County's GOP bylaws.

Chairman: Budget and Press relations.

First Vice Chairman: Coordination of precincts and Voter registration. With about 2,500 precincts and 10 volunteers needed for each one, this position will lead 25,000 Republicans! The First Vice Chairman in each county should thus report to his or her county chairman and to the Maryland First Vice Chairman.

Second Vice Chairman: Fundraising and Club growth. The Second Vice Chairman in each county should thus report to his or her county chairman and to the Maryland Second Vice Chairman.

Third Vice Chairman: Timely topic to be assigned by Chairman. The hottest topics for 2010-2012 will be Gov. O'Malley's probable transfer of teacher pensions to county authorities and (to a lesser degree) redistricting.

CHAIRMAN: Mary Kane has been the most honest about the MDGOP's dismal existence. She is also competitive and, I sense, will only serve for 2 years. She is function-driven and has a low threshold for "theory," even as she is tolerant of dissension. She will either continue the MDGOP as a social club or transform it into a political organization, precinct-by-precinct. In January 2012, if she knows specifically how many precinct chairman have been assigned within the MDGOP, then she is helping the party. Anything else is failure. I should note that after when (I believe) Mary Kane wins as chairman, the red meat crowd is going to move to place Alex Mooney in as First Vice Chair. This is a mistake that could ruin his career! If Mooney wants to serve, he should run for First Vice Chair in the first place, though it is also possible he will simultaneously run for both seats, though that would hurt his chances of winning the chairman slot (which are already dim). I should also note that Mike Esteve denies that he ever spoke at a Ronald Reagan Club meeting on behalf of now-Green Party candidate Corrogan Vaughn, even though, I believe, I witnessed it, as did probably 70 others, including Ann Miller.

1VC: Diana Waterman has had her nose to the grindstone for the last four years. (See 3VC for additional comments.)

2VC: Larry Helmaniak is the titular head of the MDGOP.

3VC: Watching this race is going to be as much fun as reading the bio of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold. Patt Parker is so over-qualified for this position that her mere motive for seeking it must be absolutely questioned. My belief is she would be a perfect 1VC but did not want to defeat her friend, Diana Waterman. Therefore, each committeeman should ask one question: Which 3VC candidate knows the most about teacher pensions? Collins Bailey was elected in Charles County for 16 years as a member of the school board. There is no issue in Maryland that is going to hurt the counties more than that issue. Since most Maryland counties are run by Republicans, we need a former school board member to do Republican talking on this issue! Also, if you support the use of Rule 11, then you may want to vote for Brian Griffiths, who supports Rule 11 so much that he even complains about people complaining about Rule 11.

TREASURER: Mark Uncapher has based his treasurer campaign on financial openness. At the September 26, 2010 Montgomery County Republican Central Committee meeting, Gus Alzona (a committeemen and former MCRCC treasurer) was formally denied access to financial records of the county party and resigned about a month later. Therefore, I have no reason to believe Uncapher would be any more open with financial records than would Chris Rosenthal. Rosenthal gets my vote.

SECRETARY: This job is wide-open to any person seeking it, including Nora Keenan or Alfred Griffin. However, in my opinion, John Wafer is not the right person for this job.


Bethesda Attorney Elected to Lead National College of Community Association Lawyers

(Bethesda, MD) Jeffrey Van Grack, an attorney with Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd. in Bethesda, has been elected to serve as dean of the national College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) in 2011 and '12. Van Grack founded and co-chairs Lerch, Early & Brewer’s community association practice and is an active member of Community Associations Institute (CAI). Of the thousands of attorneys practicing community association law in the United States, fewer than 150 have been granted membership in the College. Established in 1993 by the CAI Board of Trustees, CCAL consists of a select group of attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the field of community association law. CCAL members also are recognized for committing themselves to high standards of professional and ethical conduct in the practice of association law.

Admitted to CCAL in 1996, Van Grack is a member of the Board of Governors and chair of the group’s Admissions Committee. He is a past president of CAI’s Washington Metropolitan chapter, the largest of the institute’s 59 state and regional chapters. He speaks regularly on community association issues at national and chapter conferences. Van Grack has done extensive litigation and appellate work in the field of community association law. He was appointed by the Montgomery County (Maryland) Council in 1988 to study community associations, served on the Montgomery County Task Force on Community Associations and chaired its Dispute Resolution Committee. He successfully completed the 40-hour mediation training program through the Montgomery County Bar Foundation, and has been appointed to serve as a mediator by the Circuit Court of Montgomery County.

Van Grack was born in Washington, D.C., in 1953 and has resided in Montgomery County since 1956. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Maryland in 1975 and a J.D. degree from the University of Baltimore in 1978. Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd. is a full-service law firm dedicated to helping clients solve problems and succeed. The Bethesda-based group of attorneys celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The firm has a diverse group of practice areas, serving businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The firm’s clients includes national and regional real estate developers, businesses of all sizes and types, lending institutions, health care facilities and practitioners, municipalities, educational and religious institutions, community associations and individuals. Visit for more information.

NIH credit union launches new member business loan program

Rockville, Md. (December 7, 2010) - The National Institutes of Health Federal Credit Union (NIHFCU, ), one of the largest credit unions in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and the nation’s largest serving the healthcare and biomedical industries, has announced the launch of a new member business loan program for qualified professionals in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia. Following recent national legislation that provides increased capital for small business loans, NIHFCU has established a new member business loan program including U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans as an approved SBA lender. Any qualified professional in the healthcare and biomedical industries may apply with NIHFCU for a secured or unsecured loan to meet their long- and short-term business borrowing needs. The program is particularly beneficial for the area’s biotech firms looking to invest in their organizations as well as physicians, dentists and other current or aspiring small business owners in the healthcare or biomedical industries who want to start or expand their practices. Small business lending remains down following two years of attempted government revival, and many local banks are finding it difficult to provide loans.

“As credit access is constricting, we are expanding opportunities,” said Juli Anne Callis, president and chief executive officer for NIHFCU. “NIHFCU has a long track-record of providing high-quality financial services to medical and biomedical professionals at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as a number of local hospitals,” said Callis. “We are now taking that knowledge and experience, and expanding our services to NIH partners and related key industries in our region.”

Wendy L. Smith, president of Capital Area Transport Service (CATS) has been a member of NIHFCU since 1993. The former social worker at Suburban Hospital had previously utilized the credit union for her personal financial needs prior to leaving her position to start her own business. As she was launching CATS, which provides patient medical transportation services in the Washington, D.C. metro area, she learned about the new NIHFCU member business loan program through an NIHFCU branch employee.

“I have done medical transportation planning for more than 15 years and I saw an opportunity to enhance patient transport services within the community,” said Smith. “Because of my experience with patients and a master’s degree in social work, CATS stands out from other medical transportation services in the D.C. metro area. We not only arrive on time but also make the extra effort needed to ensure patients are well cared for throughout their entire ride.”

Smith will use her $75,000 SBA loan for working capital to support the growth of the business. With one van already in operation, she plans to expand her fleet in the near future.

“NIHFCU’s lending team walked me through the process step by step,” said Smith. “With their support, I was able to turn my vision into reality.”

NIHFCU’s new menu of member business loan options include business lines of credit up to $100,000, business term loans, business real estate secured loans, SBA loans and a Business Visa Card with no annual fee and credit lines of $25,000 or more upon approval. NIHFCU’s experienced team of lenders works one on one with business owners to offer streamlined and personalized service to ensure the application process goes smoothly.

For more than a year, NIHFCU has been working to expand its suite of businesses services as it increases membership among the healthcare and biomedical communities. A proven leader and pacesetter within the credit union industry, Callis successfully championed a similar business lending initiative in Silicon Valley, Calif. where she served as the Chief Operating Officer with KeyPoint Credit Union for over a decade. NIHFCU’s regional business lending headquarters is located at 111 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20850. Applicants may also apply via phone at 877-398-4892 or by visiting .

Proposed M-NCPPC cuts would come from parks department

Later today, the Montgomery County Council will take up all of those budget cuts County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) recommended last week. But as of last night, some of those proposed reductions to Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission were already figured out.

M-NCPPC’s Planning Board voted that if Leggett’s proposed $231,640 cut to the agency was approved by the county council, all of it would come from the Montgomery County Parks Department. Parks director Mary Bradford told the commission last night that the parks department’s current budget is already 16.5 percent less than what had been requested and they’ve managed to keep things running by holding positions vacant as employees retired.

“The $231,640 would basically come out of holding out vacancies even longer,” she said.

Deputy parks director Mike Riley also said that the department had already tried to save money on contracts and had trimmed everywhere else possible (um, hello, porta-potties sponsorship ads, anyone?)

“We’ve already cut to the bone. There’s just nothing left there, but we’ll achieve the savings by building up our vacancies,” Riley said. “We will further fall behind in meeting our maintenance standards. “

The $231,640 cut amounts to keeping five more positions vacant through the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. And if the cut is approved, it will take even longer for crews to do trash pick-up, do litter control, handle field maintenance, and fill out service requests, Riley said. SOURCE: TBD

CALCULATION: Montgomery County Property Tax

Welcome to the Montgomery County
Property Tax Account Information and Bill Payment System

You can select property tax records to view and/or make payment on-line by credit card or automatic deduction from your bank account as appropriate. For the exact link to discover how much money you gave to Montgomery County government, please go here.

December 7, 2010

Obama Defends Tax Deal, Says He's Kept Promises

WASHINGTON - With fellow Democrats balking, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts was necessary to help the economy and protect recession-weary Americans. He passionately defended his record against Democrats who complain he's breaking campaign promises.

"Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There's not a single thing that I haven't done or tried to do," the president said.

He staunchly defended his decision to deal with the GOP in order to extend about-to-expire tax cuts for all Americans.

"There are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight," the president said at a White House news conference a day after the compromise was announced. "And I understand the desire for a fight. I'm sympathetic to that."

County Seeks New Inspector General

Montgomery County officials are actively searching for a new inspector general, hoping to replace a man who in nearly six years of service frequently sparred with county government leaders.

In one probe, Inspector General Thomas Dagley revealed the police department's failure to charge a former fire official who caused a four-car pile-up after allegedly driving while intoxicated. In another, he revealed police officers left the county force to accept lucrative work elsewhere while collecting hefty disability payments.

Dagley told county officials in August that he wanted to leave by early December, but said Monday that he would stay at least through late January as local leaders look for his replacement. Over the past few years, Dagley accused some county officials of interfering with his work and fought an effort by County Executive Ike Leggett to require the inspector general's office to report to the county executive's office, rather than the county council. SOURCE: Patch

Maryland Announces Voluntary Separation Program in response to Budget Deficit

December 7, 2010

A Message from Governor O'Malley

Dear State Employee,

Over the last several years, we have reduced State spending by $5.6 billion and will have eliminated more than 4,200 State government positions. State employees have played crucial roles in identifying reductions and promoting efficiencies while sharing the burden through furloughs and temporary salary reductions. I truly appreciate your dedication, patience, sacrifice, and ingenuity as we have moved through this difficult process.

Despite these past efforts, as we look toward the future we must do what so many Maryland families are doing and find new ways to live within our means. In the case of State government, this means identifying additional opportunities for streamlining operations and reducing the size of the workforce.

As part of this effort, I have authorized a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) for State employees, to be implemented immediately. Under this Program, I hope to continue to decrease the size of our workforce by allowing employees to voluntarily elect to leave State government. Application to the program is open to eligible employees within the Executive Branch of State government who voluntarily elect to separate from employment no later than January 31, 2011. Eligible employees who apply and are selected to participate will receive a lump sum severance payment of $15,000 and an additional service bonus of $200 per year for each year of service. Additionally, participants will receive three months of fully subsidized health benefits and payment for leave accrual in accordance with applicable law.

There is no doubt that many of you will have questions concerning this program. I encourage you to fully explore the informational materials available to you on the Department of Budget and Management's website. Please visit that website at and click the link to the Voluntary Separation Program. There you will find information on eligibility, the application process, due dates, and other program details. Additionally, you may call toll free at 855-500-4661 or 410-767-6831, to reach a State representative who will assist you in obtaining information that you may wish to consider as you make your decision about whether to apply to participate in the program.

Thank you again for all your work on behalf of Maryland's families.

Martin O’Malley

Van Eperen & Company Recognized for Successful Media Relations by Largest Chapter of The International Association of Business Communicators

Bethesda, Md. – Van Eperen & Company (VE & Co.,, a woman-owned small business specializing in customized communications that achieve renowned results, was recently honored with an Award of Merit for a highly successful client media relations plan by the International Association of Business Communicators- DC Metro (IABC/DC Metro) chapter. The honor is VE & Co.’s fifth Silver Inkwell honor.

“Considering the 40 percent increase in award submissions this year, we’re proud that the acknowledgment highlights VE & Co.’s ability to think creatively to develop effective media relations plans that helps organizations raise their visibility and boosts their bottom line,” said Laura Van Eperen, CEO.

The award-winning media relations plan was developed for Payroll Network, the leading local provider of payroll processing and human resource services to companies in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. The media relations plan took a proactive approach to reaching Payroll Networks audiences, yielding a 32 percent increase in attendance at Payroll Network’s event. VE & Co. achieved 73 media placements over a six-month period with an estimated reach of 83 million people. The increased company awareness , in part led to new leads for the sales team and more website traffic.

“Van Eperen & Company has been a major part of our company’s growth this past year,” said George Whitehouse, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing at Payroll Network. “In addition to helping us create greater awareness of our firm, they have helped us strategically communicate about our competitive difference and be able to successfully compete and win against the larger national payroll providers in our market.”

With nearly 600 members, IABC/DC Metro is the largest IABC chapter in the United States, and the second largest in the world. The organization consists of a diverse group of communicators who work in the public and private sectors as consultants, independent business owners, and corporate staff in such diverse fields as marketing, advertising, corporate communications, government relations, human resource communications and shareholder relations. With 150 entries this year, the Silver Inkwell Awards are the organization’s signature program for peer recognition of outstanding work in several categories. Other honorees included Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, the Maryland Lottery, the Transportation Security Administration and Holy Cross Hospital.

About Van Eperen & Company Van Eperen & Company is an award-winning marketing and communications consulting firm that provides strategic counsel to public and private organizations. VE & Co. is a woman-owned MBE and MDOT-certified business and authorized to provide professional services to the government through the GSA schedule. Founded in 2004 to deliver exceptional results to clients, the company holds steadfast with its commitment to exceed client expectations, while keeping ethics and social responsibility at the forefront of every endeavor. For more information, contact Laura Van Eperen at or (301) 581-7298, or visit

PICTURE: Above: Jennifer Strohm (left), Vice President of VE & Co., and Lizz Durante (center), Vice President of Marketing for Payroll Network, accept the IABC/DC Metro Silver Inkwell award from Dr. Mark Drapeau (right), Director of Public Sector Social Engagement at Microsoft, who was the speaker at the Silver Inkwell gala.

17th Council to Meet Officially for First Time on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

ROCKVILLE, Md., December 6, 2010—Montgomery County’s 17th County will meet officially for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and will begin with election of new officers for one-year terms. The new Council, which was elected in November, was sworn in at inauguration ceremonies today at Rockville High School. The Council’s morning session will include an extensive discussion of a report that will be released at the session by the Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight. The report is the second part of a report on “Achieving a Structurally Balanced Budget in Montgomery County.” Part I of the report was discussed on Nov. 23. It identified the driving forces behind the County’s continuing budget problems. Part II of the report presents options that could be considered to address the problems.

The Council’s general session will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting and today’s public hearings 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 The meeting will be rebroadcast on CCM at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10.

The 17th Council includes returning Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Nancy Navarro. Craig Rice and Hans Riemer are beginning their first terms. The OLO report on “Options for Long-Term Fiscal Balance” is scheduled to be discussed at 10:30 a.m. It will include a variety of options that the Council could consider adopting to address the structural budget challenge that has led to problems in achieving a balanced operating budget in recent years and that will lead to additional problems in future years.

At 1:30 p.m., the Council will conduct six public hearings. One of the hearings concerns Expedited Bill 57-10 that involves the interest arbitration method of resolving disputes over the terms and conditions of a new collective bargaining agreement. Under current County law, the arbitrator makes an award after considering six factors, including the County’s ability to pay as one of the six. The law does not require the arbitrator to place greater weight on any one of the factors and does not require the arbitrator to consider all six of the factors. Bill 57-10, whose chief sponsor is Councilmember Valerie Ervin, would require the arbitrator to evaluate and give the highest priority to the County’s ability to pay for economic provisions before considering the other five factors.

There have been 17 impasses with County employee unions resolved by interest arbitration since 1988. Arbitrators have rules in favor of the union positions 12 times and in favor of the County position four times. In another case, the County agreed to the union position after the arbitration hearing. At 3 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, Bill 57-10 will be discussed by the Council’s new Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee. Nancy Navarro is chair of the committee, which includes Councilmembers Ervin and Hans Riemer.

Bill to include County's ability to pay unions demands

Evan Kullberg, 23, killed in Frostburg State Univ. fire

Two college students from the Washington area were killed Friday in a fire at the off-campus apartment they shared while attending Frostburg State University, in Frostburg, Md., authorities said. They were identified as Evan Kullberg, 23, who graduated from Seneca Valley High School in Montgomery County, and Alyssa Salazar, who graduated from Broadneck High School in Anne Arundel County.

"They were really outstanding young kids who really loved each other and took care of each other to the very end," Kullberg's mother, Karol, said Monday night.

He was a go-getter, a member of the National Guard and an entrepreneur who was part-owner of a pizza parlor in the building where the students lived. She was an early education major and "a really outstanding young woman," Karol Kullberg said. The Maryland state fire marshal's office said the blaze was accidental and caused by an overheated flue pipe that ran from a wood stove out through a wall in the first floor of the building. The blaze spread to an adjacent apartment and up to the students' second-floor quarters, the fire marshal's office said.

The two were found in their apartment by firefighters about 4:20 a.m. Friday, the fire marshal's office said. Their deaths were attributed to smoke inhalation. SOURCE: Washington Post

UPDATE: As family members of a Seneca Valley High School graduate who died in a fire Friday struggle to cope with their loss, they are planning a service to celebrate his life. Evan Kullberg, 23, formerly of Germantown, died Friday morning after a fire broke out in a two-story apartment complex on Main Street in Frostburg, according to Bruce D. Bouch, a spokesman with the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Alyssa Salazar, 20, of Annapolis, was also killed.

"We're hanging in there obviously," his sister, Kathryn Kullberg, said Saturday from the family's home in Gaithersburg. "We're having a hard time, but we feel very warm and touched by all the caring thoughts and prayers from everyone Evan has touched."

The Kullbergs are planning a memorial service for Evan, but have yet to determine the date or location. Kathryn Kullberg said they are not referring to the service as a funeral, but rather a celebration of Evan's life. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but fire officials believe it originated in a common area in the back of the apartment building on the first floor; a wood stove is being considered as a possible cause, Bouch said. Autopsies for Kullberg and Salazar were scheduled for Saturday, but emergency responders believe they likely died from smoke inhalation.

A business major with a love for paintball and electric guitar, Evan Kullberg, a senior at Frostburg State University, co-owned a pizzeria called Malino's Pizza, his sister said. The pizzeria was housed in the space below his second-floor apartment. Kullberg and Salazar were in their apartment and Salazar had called 911 twice before losing contact with responders, Bouch said. Ten other occupants were able to escape from the burning building unharmed, while three rescue officials were injured trying to extinguish the blaze. Bouch said damages are estimated at $200,000.

Evan Kullberg was a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and later joined the Maryland National Guard, Kathryn Kullberg said.

Originally from New Jersey, Kullberg and his family moved to Germantown when he was in the first grade. When his father died seven years ago, Kullberg, despite being the youngest of three children, stepped up and became the man of the house, Kathryn said.


A memorial vigil for Kullberg and Salazar is scheduled at 6 p.m. Sunday on the Frostburg University Campus at the Cordts Physical Education Center Main Arena. SOURCE: Gazette

Pepco Rates To Increase For Better Reliability

WASHINGTON - It doesn't take a snowstorm for Pepco customers to lose power. Day to day, the utility is among the least reliable in the nation. Now the company wants customers to foot the bill for improvements by raising rates. Yet Pepco's not making any guarantees if another big snowstorm hits. Despite any improvements, Pepco Region President Thomas Graham said "that doesn't make the system bulletproof." If we get another major winter storm, he suggested people need to "level their expectations" about how long they'll be without power.

O'Malley e-mails state employees link to Times story on states' budget crises

In an apparent bid to brace state employees for looming budget cuts, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Monday e-mailed them some recommended reading: a New York Times story about states facing crises because of their debt loads.

"I hope you will take a few minutes to read it to get a sense of the difficult choices that states are faced with this year," O'Malley (D) wrote. "While Maryland has fared better than most, we still face significant budget challenges in the year ahead. As we have in past years, I look forward to working in partnership with you, in an honest and open way, to address these budget challenges and protect our priorities."

The Sunday Times story says that states could face even larger problems than budget gaps of recent years, warning that "even when the economy recovers, the shortfalls will not disappear, because many state and local governments have so much debt -- several trillion dollars' worth, with much of it off the books and largely hidden from view -- that it could overwhelm them in the next few years."

O'Malley is required to submit a balanced budget for the 2012 fiscal year in January. Aides suggest he will start previewing some of the difficult decisions that Maryland faces in the days and weeks ahead. His email to state employees made no mention of any potential cuts. SOURCE: Washington Post

December 6, 2010

MISSING: Montgomery County police seek Margaret Anyanso

Montgomery County police are asking for the public's help finding a woman who hasn't been seen in a week. Forty-six-year-old Margaret Anyanso was last seen at her Germantown home about 10 a.m. Nov. 28. She is described as a black female, five feet three inches tall, 140 pounds, with brown eyes, and short brown hair. Anyanso was last seen driving a silver 2007 Toyota Camry with Maryland registration 9CJD64. Police and her family are very concerned for her well-being. Foul play is not suspected, police said.. Anyone with information is asked to call the Montgomery County Police at 240-773-6237 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. SOURCE: TBD

Republicans seeking officer positions for MDGOP

List of candidates running for officer positions with the Maryland Republican Party.


NOTE: Two credible people within the Maryland Republican Party have told me Alex Mooney is running for chairman

First Vice Chairman

Second Vice Chairman
Larry Helminiak CARROLL COUNTY

Third Vice Chairman

Chris Rosenthal (incumbent) ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY


CANDIDATES: Please email me the links to each official page, so I can update them. Also, stay tuned for updates to this page. In addition, Debbie Rey is running for three positions (not for one).

Council Members Would Put Toto's Tether on a Timer

Tied-up dogs may soon feel some relief in Montgomery County, but not as much as sought by County Executive Ike Leggett. Leggett (D) hoped to prohibit owners from leaving their dogs tethered in their yards, unless the owner was outside with the animal and able to keep an eye on it. The county council's three-person public safety panel Thursday endorsed tightening the current regulations for tying up Toto, but it didn't go as far as Leggett hoped.

The committee wants the county to limit dog owners to two hours of outside tethering a day that must occur between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Current county law prohibits tethering animals outside between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"That is an extraordinarily long time to have a dog tethered, it can raise all sorts of problems," Councilman Phil Andrews said of the 16-hour block of time between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

"There has been a lot of information provided that says that it is not only cruel to dogs but also detrimental to public safety because of the potential affect on a dog's behavior," he said.

Andrews, and fellow Council Members Marc Elrich and Roger Berliner—who make up the public safety panel—also want to require owners to use a swivel leash intended to avoid entanglement. SOURCE: North Potomac Patch

Inauguration Day for Montgomery County officials (all Democrats)

Good morning. It's Monday and it's inauguration day in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, where some new faces will join familiar ones on county councils and in the county executive's office. More details on the ceremonies and inaugural balls below. Leggett's second term. In Montgomery, County Executive Isiah Leggett will be sworn in for his second term. Montgomery held its inaugural ball Sunday night at the Hilton in Rockville. Money raised from the event will help fund arts and humanities programs in a county that's currently grappling with a budget shortfall of more than $300 million. We'll have live coverage of both swearing-in ceremonies so be sure to check back with us later in the day. SOURCE: Washington Post

Seniors mull over trademark license fee at Leisure World

Residents of Leisure World in Silver Spring might be forced to abandon the long-standing name of "active adult" community and its landmark steel globe if they aren't willing to pay for the right to use them. Leisure World has been a Montgomery County fixture for 44 years, and its 8,500 residents are considered one of Maryland's most potent political forces.

But the daughter of Leisure World's developer says her company owns the trademark to the globe and name. After providing more than 40 years of free use, the company needs to protect its rights to the brand, which earns fees from real estate agents around the country who advertise themselves as "Leisure World specialists," she says. Now the Leisure World board of directors is surveying residents to determine whether they want to pay a licensing fee or choose a new name. Both options would cost the community money, a recent letter to residents said, including $35,000 already spent in legal fees.

"We have a 45-year investment in the name," said Marian Altman, 65, chairwoman of Leisure World's board of directors.

Sure, she's heard the jokes about "Seizure World." Still, Altman said, "It's known across the state, especially with the politicians. . . . In Annapolis, they know Leisure World votes." SOURCE: Washington Post

December 5, 2010

LETTER: MCGOP chairman makes bid for MDGOP treasurer; demands financial transparency

As I hope you know, I am a candidate for State Party Treasurer at the State Party Convention on December 11. You are likely to have received an email last Wednesday night from Sharon Carrick of Queen Anne's County requesting that I provide additional details from me about my concerns about MD GOP's past financial transparency.  These are matters I take seriously.   Over the course of my professional career, in addition to being a lawyer, I have served in a variety of financial management positions in both the public and private sector.   My past work includes:  

·         Responsible for providing staff review of New York City's financial plan for the state's Financial Control Board as Assistant Counsel to the New York State Comptroller,
·         Executive at a publicly-held national newspaper and broadcasting company and counsel for and co-owner of a smaller market broadcast property,
·         Managing the technical accounting staff responsible for contractor financial reporting; compliance and financial audits for a $500 million entity, and
·         Serving as the principal staff member for congressional oversight of the federal Inspectors General and Chief Financial Officers as Counsel to the House Subcommittee on Government Management.  

While I appreciate that others may disagree with me, frankly I am not satisfied with the state party’s current status quo.  Given the financial and leadership turmoil the party faced during the past four year and results of the past election, an appeal to continue “past practice” seems out of place.  

Let me provide that information that Sharon requested.  

The attached series of emails below, beginning with Chris Cavey, but then between the incumbent Treasurer  and me highlights one significant aspect of my concerns about the current State Party leadership's continuing lack of transparency and candor with its own board members.   

In July 2009 prior to a critical Executive Committee meeting Chris Cavey encouraged State Executive Committee members to contact the incumbent Treasurer to learn more about the party's financial position.  Yet when I tried to do so, he effectively contradicted Chris Cavey.  At a time when the party leadership needed unvarnished information about our finances, as an Executive Committee member, I could not get the specific detail requested from the Treasurer.  

Yet just a few weeks later I learned that the incumbent Treasurer  was actively contemplating in the making a recommendation that the Maryland State Republican Party consider seek bankruptcy "protection."

Such an action would have placed our party at the complete mercy of a Federal bankruptcy judge. While the court could have left the existing leadership in place, a judge would also have had the full authority to place our state party under the control of a trustee appointed by the court.  In fact, the judge would have had very broad discretion in ordering this external control.  

This could have meant that every single expenditure made by Maryland State Republican Party in this election year would have subject to the control of an outside individual appointed by a judge.  In such an environment, it is hard for me to see how we could ever have done any further fund raising whatsoever. As dire our straits were at the outset of such a process, it could well have only gotten worse.   

A bankruptcy filing would also have presented some significant legal challenges concerning how Federal law would interact with our unique legal status under the Maryland State Election law.  That could have prevented a number of the remedies under bankruptcy law from being used.

There would also have been some significant additional governance challenges to our seeking bankruptcy given the subsidiary status of the Executive Committee and Executive Board to the full State Central Committee.  While a board of directors of corporation can act on its behalf, I do not believe that the two "Executive" entities enjoy a comparable status under state law in relationship to the State Central Committee.   

The political consequences would have been even worse.  Surely Maryland Republicans would have forfeited any credibility as advocates of financial discipline.  

More to the point, though, I do not understand how a Treasurer can go from declining to share requested financial information with a board member  immediately prior to a critical meeting taking up leadership issues to only a few weeks later exploring bankruptcy as an option.  

The State Party Treasurer’s responsibilities are much broader than that of a bookkeeper or financial record keeper.  Given both the compliance environment the party exists in and our party’s history of running afoul of those requirements,  our Treasurer should better understand the legal consequences of the choices we consider.  Second, the Treasurer needs to effectively communicate the party financial circumstances to all its stakeholders.      

Mark Uncapher
Montgomery County Republican Chairman