March 26, 2011

Help Save Maryland











Ways and Means Committee:


If you wish to testify, please arrive at the Committee room BEFORE 12 noon and sign in OPPOSED to SB 167. If you have written testimony, please submit 35 copies to the committee staff by 12:00 Noon for distribution prior to the hearing; after 12:00 Noon, please submit at the time you testify.

You can just read a statement or talk off the cuff if you like and not hand in testimony. Make sure you mention your County when you speak so the Delegates know how wide-spread opposition is to In-State Tuition.


-- BRAD BOTWIN, DIRECTOR HSM, 240-447-1884

March 25, 2011

On Google, the ICC is open all the way to I-370

On Google World, the 41.9-mile trip from Baltimore to Gaithersburg takes all of 48 minutes along the brand new Intercounty Connector. Just take Interstate 95 south, hop on the ICC and you’re virtually there. On Planet Earth, most of the ICC hasn’t opened yet. The 12 miles between I-95 and the Montgomery County high-tech hotbed is largely a muddy track where bulldozers are still doing what bulldozers do.


In a textbook illustration of the computer adage “garbage in, garbage out,” Google and another popular Web-based mapping service have jumped the gun on the opening of the longest segment of Maryland’s new toll road by about a year.

“Beware: Everything you read on the Internet may not be true,” Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA-Mid-Atlantic, chortled when told about the error.

A 7-mile stretch of the $2.6 billion ICC, between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 370, opened late last month. But the segment between Georgia Avenue and I-95 is under construction and expected to open late this year or early in 2012.

“Clearly Google understands that many of our people who drive our roads also have all-terrain vehicles,” Anderson said. “Google’s just a little ahead of all of us.”

As funny as the mistake may be to a detached observer, it could be less than amusing to a motorist who was unfamiliar with the region and depending on the directions. A traveler from Baltimore to Montgomery County, for instance, could drive down I-95 expecting to get off on the ICC, only to get lost upon finding find no exit.

Doug Beizer, a communications manager for an engineering society, stumbled across the misleading directions Thursday when he was plotting a route between his office in Landover and Montgomery General Hospital in Olney.

Google Maps assured him that Route 200, as the ICC is also known, was the way to go. Beizer, who is married to a Sun reporter, knew that wasn’t so. SOURCE: Baltimore Sun

Governor O’Malley Outlines Amendments To Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act

Governor O’Malley announced at yesterday’s event the introduction of new amendments that will limit the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) ability to approve projects to only those projects with pricing impacts on Maryland families of less than $2 per month.

The O’Malley-Brown Administration and the PSC have each, independently estimated the potential price impact to be even lower than that.

The bill will require that public utilities leverage Maryland’s outstanding offshore wind resources by entering into long-term purchase agreements with wind power generation facilities off of the Mid-Atlantic coast. The Governor underscored the importance of offshore wind in leveraging Maryland’s natural assets to promote ‘green’ job creation and generate much needed clean, renewable energy.

“Thanks to the tough choices we’ve made over the last four years, Maryland has emerged as one of the leaders in the effort to harness the power of offshore wind – an industry with the potential to create thousands of jobs and power hundreds of thousands of homes,” said Governor O’Malley. “By requiring the utilities to enter into long-term agreements, we can finally shift our focus from short term profit to our state’s long-term energy security, and put these steelworkers back to work building the energy infrastructure of the future.”

Today the O’Malley-Brown Administration is proposing several amendments to the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act. Most importantly, the Governor has proposed a threshold test in which the PSC would kick out any proposals that are projected to raise an average family’s electricity bill by more than $2 per month in the first year.

It is anticipated that the impact will decrease after that first year, as fossil fuel prices continue to rise. Another important amendment related to price would require the developer of the project to pass along any savings from federal tax incentives to our ratepayers.

The Governor has also proposed amendments that would require the PSC to consider, as a criterion of choosing the project, a developer’s plan to include minority, women-owned, and small businesses in the development and distribution of offshore wind energy.

Offshore wind could create more than twenty direct jobs per annual megawatt, including jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and skilled labor. SOURCE: Gov Monitor

Norwood Not Eligible For Death Penalty; "Aggravating Factors" Must Exist, Experts Say

The Lululemon employee accused of killing 30-year-old Jayna Murray in Bethesda March 11 isn’t eligible to receive the death penalty if convicted of the crime, prosecutors have said. While Brittany Norwood, 28, stands charged with first-degree murder, other “aggravating” factors must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the state of Maryland before a defendant receives the death penalty, experts tell Patch.

Police initially said Norwood was the surviving victim of an attack by two masked men at the Bethesda Avenue Lululemon store, but she is now accused of killing Murray, her co-worker.

Prosecutors have said she lied to police and elaborately staged the crime scene to make it appear as though an attack had taken place.

In a Maryland death penalty case, prosecutors need to prove a defendant guilty of first-degree murder and prove one or more “aggravating factors” were present during the crime, said Byron Warnken, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore law school and a practicing criminal defense attorney. Those factors include killing a law enforcement officer, killing multiple victims in the same crime, killing someone in a correctional facility or while attempting to escape from one, hiring another to kill, and others, Warnken said. “Just because someone is convicted of first-degree murder doesn’t make it a death penalty case,” Warnken said. SOURCE: Bethesda Patch

Montgomery school bus driver fired after being charged for child pornography

A former Montgomery County Public Schools bus driver continued working for several months after police seized his computer, which they say contained 85 images and videos of child pornography.

Charles H. Acker IV, 33, was arrested Feb. 10, 2011, by Montgomery County Police and charged with one count of possessing child pornography and one count of possessing with intent to distribute child pornography.

Reached by phone Friday, Acker's Greenbelt attorney, Richard Arnold, declined to comment.

The investigation into Acker, of Walkersville, began about 10 months before his arrest. On April 2, 2010, police searched his mother's Germantown home, where Acker lived in the basement, according to police charging documents filed Jan. 25, 2011. The search was the result of an undercover investigation that began in February 2010 into the sharing of child pornography over the Internet.

Members of the police pedophile section stated that Acker admitted to them on April 2, 2010, that he had knowledge about file-sharing over the Internet, according to the documents. Police then seized and examined his computer. SOURCE: Gazette

White Flint Implementation Guidelines to go to Planning Board Roundtable Discussion on March 31

The White Flint Sector Plan requires the Planning Board to come up with guidelines for a “transportation approval mechanism and monitoring program” by July 13, 2011. The Planning Board has been drafting these guidelines, and will hold a roundtable discussion next Thursday, March 31 on them. A worksession is scheduled for April 14. The White Flint Implementation Committee (which itself is part of the guidelines) will discuss the draft at its April 11 meeting.

You can find the draft guidelines here.

Barnaby Zall

Montgomery County Employees Protest Proposed Cuts by County Executive Isiah Leggett

Montgomery County Employees Protest Proposed Cuts by County Executive Isiah Leggett:

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Facing a $300 million budget shortfall for the 2012 fiscal year, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett says he's making some tough, but necessary decisions, all of them aimed at county employees.

Leggett is proposing cuts in both workers’ take home pay and the county's contribution to employees' health care. He is also proposing county workers pay more into their pension plan.

"I am concerned about what's going to happen with our salaries and benefits," says county employee Mercedes Moore. "I know the situation is very difficult for the county, but more difficult for our families."

Moore and about 200 other Montgomery County employees staged a protest rally outside the county executive’s office in Rockville Thursday afternoon.

"What he's proposed, we can't live with," says county correctional officer Mike McCullough. "You would have to be 25 [years old], never getting any older, with no children and not getting married to deal with the budget that he has given us. And I don't know of anybody that's like that."

Menu Labeling Update, Latino Youth Report On Agenda for Council HHS Committee. Committee Will Meet at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 24

Release ID: 11-075
Release Date: 3/23/2011
Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939 or Delphine Harriston240-777-7931
From: Council Office

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 23, 2011—The Montgomery County Council’s Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, March 24, will receive an update on the implementation of the County’s program requiring certain chain restaurants to place nutritional information on menus and menu sign boards. The committee also will receive a briefing on a report from the Latino Youth Collaborative Steering Committee that was formed to address the needs of County Latino youth.

The Health and Human Services Committee, which is chaired by George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice, will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

The County’s Department of Health and Human Services will deliver the update on the menu labeling law that took effect on July 1, 2010. Affected restaurants were required to submit implementation plans by Sept. 15 and full compliance was required by Jan. 1. Since that date, the department has had the authority to assess penalties for non compliance.

The law requires certain chain restaurants to disclose the number of calories for each standard item on menus and menu sign boards. Affected restaurants are also required to provide written nutritional information to consumers upon request.

As of March 16, the County conducted 183 inspections of affected restaurants—about 25 percent of the restaurants required to comply with the legislation. The inspections showed that almost half (48 percent) were not complying with the law. When a restaurant is not in compliance, it is given an inspection report and 30 days to correct the violation. If the restaurant does not correct the violation within 30 days, the department works with the restaurant to set a compliance schedule in a “reasonable time frame.” To date, no citations have been issued.
According to 2005 data from the Maryland Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 50.8 percent of Montgomery County residents were overweight or obese.

The Latino Youth Collaborative Steering Committee will go into detail about its December 2010 report called “A Generation of Youth Hanging in the Balance.”

Responding to results of a survey of more than 1,000 Latino youth by Identity, Inc., County Executive Isiah Leggett commissioned the Latino Youth steering committee to develop strategies and action steps for addressing the educational, violence prevention and well-being needs of the County’s Latino youth and their families.

The Identity survey reported pervasive negative feelings and risk factors experienced by survey participants that contribute to negative behavioral outcomes including “high teen pregnancy rates, gang involvement, substance abuse, increased high school drop-out rates, poor academic achievement, youth violence and the ongoing devastation of the Latino family structure.”

March 24, 2011

MoCo Unions Call Exec's Budget Illegal, Plan Thursday Rally

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The Montgomery County government workers union says the county executive operated outside the law in his 2012 budget, and will rally outside his office Thursday night to protest.

County employee unions allege that County Executive Ike Leggett went against an arbitrator's ruling that he's bound by law to follow. The arbitrator had ruled in favor of a proposal offered by the unions during collective bargaining talks, but Leggett's budget includes cuts that oppose the plan.

"We're not asking for any additional raises; we're not asking for any benefit enhancements. In fact, we put a proposal on the table that would yield the savings the executive claimed he needed," said Gino Renne, the president of the Montgomery County chapter of a nationwide government employee union.

Renne told 630 WMAL News that the union is pursuing legal action against Leggett. He says he believes the county council will side with the unions when they vote on the budget in May.

Public employee unions have contributed tens of millions of dollars towards balancing the county budget, Renne says. He adds that if union spending is reduced, it could lead to countywide foreclosures, evictions and students not being able to afford college. "It's not an issue of helping the workers," Renne told WMAL, "it's an issue of fairness and balance."

On the union's website, the protest is called a rally against "'Outlaw' Ike." An old-west style "Wanted" poster says his crimes are "contract busting" and "scapegoating county workers." The county executive could not be reached for comment. SOURCE: WMAL

Delegate Solicits Money During Session; Blames Mass Email on Technology 'Glitch'

Del. Kirill Reznik of Germantown said the company he contracts to handle mass emails mistakenly sent a message yesterday to thousands of people soliciting donations for a future campaign. Maryland lawmakers are forbidden to solicit campaign contributions during the 90-day legislative session, which ends April 11. In a follow-up email to the "Friends of Kirill Reznik" email list, Reznik apologized, calling it an "electronic error" and a "glitch" and urged recipients to ignore the message, which was originally intended to be sent nine months ago, he said.

Reznik (D-Dist. 39) wrote, "Please disregard this e-mail and DO NOT send any campaign contributions as it is ILLEGAL for me to solicit campaign contributions during the legislative session." In a phone interview with Patch, Reznik said he immediately contacted William Somerville, the General Assembly's ethics adviser, to alert him of the mistake made by Washington-based Salsa Labs, the company that manages and organizes the delegate's email lists. SOURCE: Gaithersburg Patch

Police charge Olney man with two counts of first-degree murder in shootings

Montgomery police charged 35-year-old Rohan J. Goodlett of the 19500 block of Olney Mill Road in Olney with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two men in that community.

He lives in the same block as Nazir Ahmed, 81, who was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home just after 5 p.m. Friday. He was shot in the back of the head, Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said.

Punyasara W. Palkumbure Gedara, 41, of the 3400 block of Bantry Way in Olney was shot Monday afternoon as he was walking home from his job at Subway in the Fair Hill Shopping Center, about six blocks from his house. He was walking in the 3400 block of North High Street when he was shot three times, Manger said.

Manger said the 9 mm bullet rounds found at both homicide scenes came from the same weapon, but they do not have the weapon.

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said Goodlett has a history of mental illnesses.

He has been under the care of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, McCarthy said. Manger said Goodlett was in police custody the past two days on drug charges. SOURCE: Gazette

Audio Recordings Reveal Pilots Unable To Contact Air Traffic Controllers at Reagan National Airport

Audio Recordings Reveal Pilots Unable To Contact Air Traffic Controllers at Reagan National Airport:

View more videos at:

Montgomery County Neighborhood News

Coffee and Conversation with Ken Hartman Friday, March 25 Ken Hartman - County Executive Leggett's representative to Potomac, Bethesda, and Rockville - will meet with the community on Friday, March 25, from 8:30 to 11 am at the Avenel Community Association office at 9501 Beman Woods Way in Potomac. Ken regularly holds open houses throughout his area. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals to meet Ken, discuss issues and partnership opportunities, and learn about County services. Please drop by and take part in the discussion.

Weekly Crime Reports District 1 (Rockville/Potomac)

District 2 (Bethesda-Chevy Chase, North Bethesda)

Groundbreaking Ceremony Set for March 28 to Celebrate New Rockville Police Headquarters The Rockville Mayor and Council will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 6 p.m. Monday, March 28, for the new Rockville City Police Department headquarters. The event will take place at the new headquarters, which is the site of the Old Post Office building, located at 2 West Montgomery Ave. in Town Center.

Free Financial Seminars to be Held in Bethesda The Foundation for Financial Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free educational resources to the public, will conduct a series of free financial seminars.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 @ 9:00am – “Estate Planning”
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 @ 11:30am – “Financial Pitfalls”
Tuesday, April 21, 2011 @ 9:00am – “Macro Planning”
Tuesday, April 21, 2011 @ 11:30am - “Retirement Planning”
Registration deadline is Friday, March 25, 2011

The workshops will be held at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD. A minimum of 10 persons are required for the workshops. Space is limited and registration is required. To register please send email to: or contact Richard at 240-777-8207.

New laws preserving residential character of neighborhoods go into effect in April. Preserving the quality of life in Montgomery County neighborhoods needs help from all of us. New County laws initiated by the County Executive and approved by the County Council are designed to help protect our residential neighborhoods. These laws go into effect April 24, 2011.

5th Annual Let’s Get It Started! Montgomery County’s Youth Job Fair Saturday, March 26, 2011 10:00 am-2:00 pm

B-CC Rescue Squad Shrimp and Oyster Feast Fundraiser Sunday, March 27
from 1 - 5 pm For more information, visit

National Center for Children and Families' (NCCF) 9th Annual Art & Soul Charity Auction! Sign up by Friday, April 1, 2011 Visit or Contact Alisha Matlock at 301-365-4480 extension 113 email:

Department of Recreation Holds Public Meetings to Discuss Department’s Budget 7:00pm Tuesday, April 5 – Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road, Potomac River Road Bike Path Public Meeting MCDOT will hold a public meeting on the River Road Bikepath on Thursday, April 7, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm. The meeting will be held at the Potomac Elementary School, 10311 River Road. In order to better serve the needs of the community, the Division of Transportation Engineering seeks public input throughout the design process. At this public meeting, the Project Manager along with other MCDOT staff will present the latest project design and discuss any questions and concerns that citizens may have regarding the project.

Montgomery County Coalition on End-of-Life Care invites you to: Consider the Conversation a documentary film and panel discussion Thursday, April 7, 2011 6:30-9:00 pm

2nd Annual Choose Respect Montgomery Teen Dating Conference and Public Service Announcement Contest
Saturday, April 09, 2011 To register, go to For more information, call 240-777-5573.

Ride On’s Give and Ride is Sunday, April 10 though Saturday, April 16, 2011 Ride On bus passengers can help needy families and receive a free bus ride by donating canned or nonperishable food during Ride On’s 24th annual food drive. Riders who donate will ride free during Give and Ride from Sunday, April 10, through Saturday April 16, 2011. During the week, food collection bags will be placed near the fare boxes on all Ride On buses.

The donated food goes to Manna Food Center, Montgomery County’s food bank. The need for food donations is greater than ever. Manna has experienced a 50 increase in requests for food this year. Children’s items like disposable diapers, formula, baby or toddler food and juice are especially useful to families in need. Plastic containers are preferred.

Bethesda Art Walk - Next Art Walk - April 8, 2011 Bethesda Art Walk features downtown Bethesda galleries and studios that open their doors from 6-9pm on the second Friday of every month. Bethesda galleries showcase artwork created locally, nationally and internationally including painting, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

Enjoy several galleries by walking throughout downtown Bethesda. The free Bethesda Circulator stops within a few blocks of each Bethesda Art Walk gallery, and runs continuously throughout the duration of the Art Walk.

Glen Echo Park Events:

President Barack Obama gets locked out of White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama had to try a couple of doors at the White House before finally gaining access to the Oval Office on Wednesday. Returning from a five-day trip to Latin America, video shows the president strolling up to french doors at the White House and trying the handle on a locked door. He appeared to be whistling as he made his way down to another set of doors that were open. White House staff was apparently not informed that the President was coming back to work before his arrival. You can watch the video above. If using a mobile device, please use the video tab on the WEWS app.

About Rep. Chris van Hollen's town hall meeting

Here is a comment I received in my mailbox yesterday regarding Rep. Chris van Hollen's telephone town meeting yesterday. I also received a phone call but did not attend the meeting.

About 20 minutes ago I got (out of the blue) a phone call "inviting" me to join a Van Hollen telephone townhall. At the moment he's droning on with one of about four shills I've heard so far. (Right now arguing against cutting any federal funds to Metro transit.)

There was one good question -- about the sustainability of medicare, and suggesting some small co-pays, which VH squirmed about. Immediately the next caller -- an obvious shill -- objected to that concern. Van Hollen's droned on and on with that softball, as illustrative of how important revenue is is "solving" these problems. Right now he's entertaining yet another shill about how awful it is that public employees are under attack.

Interesting that this "townhall" conflicts with Ike Leggett's townhall tonight in Kensington. Having googled it and looking at his website I see nothing about letting folks know he's holding this apparently impromptu townhall. I guess invitations are random?

Maryland Wind Legislation Might Be Postponed

A senior Maryland state senator said that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan to require state utilities buy electricity from offshore wind projects might be postponed for a year, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. State Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas Middleton said that the proposal might be reviewed for the next year and then taken up again.

“I don’t want to see this bill go away, I just think it needs a lot of study, whether they can get it done during this session, I don’t know,” Middleton said. “Put it this way: I would like to see at minimum a study.” Advocates said that the delay was unnecessary

“We feel like the issue has been studied extensively,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We have a well-written bill that protects the environment and safeguards ratepayers.” Columnist Says Cape Wind Opposition Is Flagging Cape Cod Times columnist Sean Gonsalves wrote yesterday that the announcement of a water tour — provided by a former Cape Wind opponent — was a sign that opposition to the Cape Wind project is fading.

“What made this press conference different was the collection of former Cape Wind opponents — who didn’t exactly say ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ — and wind farm backers all being on the same page,” Gonsalves wrote. The columnist noted that the project received support from former skeptics in the business and political communities.

“Once the business community begins to envision how to make money from a controversial project, it’s usually followed by a sea change of public opinion,” Gonsalves wrote. “What a difference a decade makes.”

March 23, 2011

Foose moves to Balt. Co and $214,000 salary

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the salary for Baltimore County Public Schools' new deputy superintendent Renee Foose is $214,000. Foose left her position as associate superintendent of the Office of Shared Accountability in MCPS where her salary was $162,623, to move to the Baltimore County position. ..."In these days of fiscal constraints, there are ways to be creative and spend dollars wisely," Boser said. In general, he said, when school systems make cuts in education, "we tend not to do it in particularly thoughtful ways." Baltimore County principals have been ordered to cut 196 teaching positions by telling select teachers that they will be "excessed."

...The school system released Foose's salary Wednesday night, a month after The Baltimore Sun first requested it. Salaries for government employees in Maryland are public information under state law, and school officials in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and other area municipalities typically disclose them immediately over the phone. When asked for Foose's salary the week of Feb. 28, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County school system said the agency has implemented a policy requiring formal, written requests under the Maryland Public Information Act before salary information is released...
SOURCE: Parents' Coalition

Council President Ervin to Speak at Forum on Financial Issues, Fraud Affecting Seniors

Release ID: 11-073
Release Date: 3/21/2011
Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939 or Sonya Healy240-777-7970
From: Council Office

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 21, 2011—Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin, who represents Kensington, Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Wheaton, will be a special guest on Wednesday, March 23, in Silver Spring when the County’s Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection and the County’s Office of Consumer Protection host a forum on financial issues and potential fraud that affects seniors. The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Charter House at 1316 Fenwick Lane.

The program will address a wide range of financial issues for seniors, including differences among long-term care facilities, such as assisted living, continuing care and skilled nursing. The forum will also detail common consumer scams aimed at seniors, like investment fraud, phony charities and identity fraud. The forum will be moderated by Stuart Rosenthal, publisher of The Beacon newspaper.

In addition to Council President Ervin, speakers will include Sigrid C. Haines, a private attorney specializing in elder law and health care; Bryan Roslund of the State’s Attorney’s Office, who focuses on senior financial exploitation prevention measures; Alice Hedt, Maryland’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman; and Eric Friedman, director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection.

“It is so important that we take every opportunity to help inform our seniors about fraudulent schemes before they happen,” said Council President Ervin. “This forum serves as a great starting point to properly equip our seniors with the tools they need to protect their investments.

“The County’s Office of Consumer Protection does an outstanding job for all of our residents. I am happy to partner with them to help spread the word about questionable business practices used by unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of our residents.”

Office of Consumer Protection Director Friedman said the forum will provide seniors with the chance to learn about consumer protection services that the County has available.

“This is a golden opportunity to join forces with financial experts to help seniors make the right decisions and avoid scams,” he said. “It also gives us the opportunity to hear directly from the community to better understand the needs and concerns of our senior consumers and their families.”

Space may be limited at the forum so it is suggested that those planning to attend register in advance by calling 240-777-3674 or by e-mail at .

Free Tax Help at Local Branch Offices, Saturday

Annapolis, MD (March 23, 2011) – Comptroller Peter Franchot announced today that four of his local branch offices will be open this Saturday, March 26, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide FREE income tax return assistance and preparation. Agency employees will also be on-site to assist taxpayers with outstanding liabilities and tax debt issues.

“Although the April 18 deadline is quickly approaching, taxpayers should not panic. The Comptroller's Office can help make tax filing quick, easy and painless,” said Comptroller Franchot.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will also open three of its Maryland offices this Saturday to provide federal tax return assistance. In an effort to accommodate taxpayers who plan to visit an IRS office on March 26, the Comptroller’s Office will open branches found near the IRS locations. The local Comptroller’s offices scheduled to be open this Saturday include Annapolis, Landover, Salisbury and Wheaton. Complete addresses of branch offices and phone numbers can be found at

Free, state tax assistance is available at all of the agency’s 12 taxpayer service offices, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional hours of assistance will be offered on Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and on Monday, April 18, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all agency locations.

Taxpayers can also download state tax forms, find helpful information and check the status of their refund by visiting the Comptroller's Website, or by calling 1-800-MD-TAXES for free state tax help. The call center is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. through April 18, as well as on Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Missing pup turns up in Gaithersburg after 37 days on the run

Before Feb. 27, Rob, Katy, Elena and Brett Engels did not consider themselves dog people. On that sunny Sunday afternoon, a fluffy white 25-pound pooch wandered into their backyard on Marsh Point Court in rural Gaithersburg. He was friendly and playful, but skittish, and would let no one touch him, Katy Engels said. He wore no collar. At the same time, more than 30 miles east in Howard County, hundreds of people were hunting for Winston, a white cockapoo who had gone missing 37 days earlier.

Katy's daughter Elena, 9, threw a stick to see if the dog would play fetch. He wasn't interested — until she tossed a tennis ball, and then he went nuts. Elena's parents expected his owner to come calling for him any minute.

"He was such a sweet, cute, wonderful little guy, we just assumed he'd slipped out of a neighbor's front door," Katy Engels said. "We assumed someone would come collect him that day. We even talked about just shooing him away, thinking he would just go right back to his house."

At 4 p.m., the family snapped a photo of the dog and emailed neighbors, asking if anyone recognized him. Around 7 p.m., Rob went out and bought some dog food. The dog spent the night in their garage, coaxed in with the ball. He barked all night. Early the next day, Katy Engels let him inside. She was sitting at kitchen table reading the newspaper and drinking coffee when Winston came up and cuddled on her feet. She was sure she would find Winston's owner that day.

A long way from home When her dog disappeared, Janet Lynn West of Ellicott City posted his picture to her profile page on Facebook and asked others in the area to repost the image. This caught the attention of friends. Two clients at West's personal training business, Catherine Midkiff and Vicki Foertschbeck, got involved, along with two friends from her hometown of Bowie, Laurie Thompson and Chrisa Rich.

Midkiff came up with the idea of creating a Facebook page, "Help Find Winston," which drew more than 250 followers. Foertschbeck contacted the media. Thompson used Google maps to track sightings and identify places to post the 1,000 fliers they printed up. Rich suggested contacting Dogs Finding Dogs, a nonprofit organization that tracks and finds missing pets. West's ex-husband, Rich West, accompanied the search dogs and kept the Facebook page updated.

Sightings were reported daily. During one search, Janet West came across blood. She worried Winston was injured or had been attacked. Another time she got a call about a dead white dog on the side of the road.

"The weather worried us constantly," she said in an interview through Facebook. "The snow storms, ice, hail, cold temperatures were all very disheartening. But after a storm we would get a sighting, and hope was restored he was still surviving."

Reunited at last

On Feb. 28, the Engels placed a notice with the Montgomery County Humane Society and told nearby veterinarians about their found dog. Katy Engels posted a "Found" ad on Craigslist.

Four days later, she heard from Denise Bretholz Harris, an employee at Camp Bow Wow, a boarding school for dogs in Columbia, who had become involved in the search for Winston.

Based on Katy Engels' description, Denise did not think the found dog was Winston, but she sent a link to the "Help Find Winston" Facebook page. There Katy Engels spotted a photo of Winston lying down in his weird, awkward way — with his legs splayed out behind him. The dog in her home looked dirtier and shaggier than the one in the photo with pure white, close-cut fur, but Katy Engels was certain they were the same.

She fired off another email. Janet and Rich West and their son Colin arrived in Gaithersburg the next morning at 11 a.m. At 11:06 a.m., Chrisa Rich sent a post to the Facebook page: "IT IS HIM!!!!!!"

It had been 44 days since Winston first left Ellicott City. Before arriving at the Engels' house, he had last been sighted in Columbia on Feb. 17.

"We all wish he could talk!!" Harris wrote. SOURCE: Gazette

IDA Sector Public Safety Community Meeting with North White Oak Civic Association

Residents are urged to make their neighborhood safer by getting actively involved in crime prevention. Join the Third District Police, neighbors and business owners in the Burtonsville, Briggs Chaney, Calverton, White Oak and Hillandale areas at the bi-monthly IDA Sector meeting sponsored by the Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center and Third District Police. The meeting will be held today at 7:30 p.m., in the White Oak Library Meeting Room, located at 11701 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring. Contact: Joy Nurmi, 240-777-8414/

Montgomery police looking for connection between two Olney homicides in three days

Montgomery County police are investigating if there is a connection between the death of an 81-year-old man last week and the Monday shooting death man, 41, in Olney.

"It's very unusual to have a homicide in Olney and both victims were shot to death," police department spokeswoman Lucille Baur said. "They both have different ethnic backgrounds, but police do not know yet if there is a link based on that."

Police released no motives or information on who might be responsible for the homicides by late Tuesday afternoon. Baur said Tuesday morning the death of Nazir Ahmed, who was found in his home in the 19500 block of Olney Mill Road just after 5 p.m. Friday, is being investigated as a homicide.

Police detectives found evidence at the scene that indicated foul play was involved. Baur said she did not know whether police found evidence of forced entry into Ahmed's house. Yellow police tape was wrapped around a car and taped near the garage door of his house Tuesday.

The Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore reported that Ahmed died from a gunshot wound, police said. But police did not release how many times each victim was shot nor where on their bodies the bullets entered. Baur said ballistic evidence recovered from both crime scenes is being analyzed. Montgomery police identified the 41-year-old man who was shot Monday afternoon as Punyasara W. Palkumbure Gedara of the 3400 block of Bantry Way in Olney.

Gedara was walking home from his job at Subway in the Fair Hill Shopping Center when he was shot in the 3400 block of High Street, Baur said.

Bantry Way is near High Street, and both are about two blocks south of the busy Georgia Avenue and Md. 108 intersection. The sound of gunshots was reported around 4:15 p.m. Monday, Baur said. Officers found Gedara unresponsive. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Gedara's uncle, Cyril Rajapakse, was working on the family garden outside when he heard three to four gunshots Monday afternoon, he said. He saw neighbors running toward North High Street and followed them, and found his nephew lying on the ground toward the end of the road.

Gedara was conscious and trying to speak, but could not, Rajapakse said. Gedara and his wife immigrated to the U.S. from Sri Lanka six months ago and lived with Rajapakse's family, Rajapakse said. Gedara started working at Subway only a few weeks ago, he said.

"He's very innocent and calm. He never argued with anyone," Rajapakse said. "He was just a good person.

Ahmed was last seen around 6 p.m. March 16 at the Muslim Community Center, 15200 New Hampshire Ave. in Silver Spring, where he regularly attended prayer services. When he did not arrive at the Muslim Community Center on Thursday or Friday, the center's imam sent a member to Ahmed's home to check on his welfare. When the member arrived at Ahmed's house Friday, the front and garage doors were open and Ahmed's car was parked in the driveway, said Arshad Qureshi, chairman of the Muslim Community Center's board of trustees. He called Ahmed on his cell phone, and after failing to get an answer, he entered the house, where he saw Ahmed's bedroom door open and Ahmed lying on the floor unconscious, Qureshi said. He then called police. SOURCE: Gazette

Washington Area: Worst Cell Coverage in the Country

In fact, J.D. Power and Associates rates the nation's capital as the region with the worst cell phone reception quality in the country. J.D. Power reports 18 out of every 100 calls suffer a problem in the region. The report also notes that cell phone quality overall declined everywhere over the last 6 months. According to the review, Verizon Wireless network users experienced the fewest dropped calls in the Northeast region. More people are also using smartphones and that may factor into the service problems. SOURCE: No comments:

Hollywood Legend Elizabeth Taylor Dies

Hollywood Legend Elizabeth Taylor Dies:

(NewsCore) - Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor died early Wednesday morning, according to a statement from her publicist.

The 79 year old was in her second month at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she was being treated for symptoms of congestive heart failure.

"Legendary actress, businesswoman, and fearless activist Elizabeth Taylor died peacefully today [Wednesday] in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She was surrounded by her children -- Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd and Maria Burton," publicist Sally Morrison said in a statement, adding that Taylor was also survived by 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Wilding said, "My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor and love. Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world."

He added, "Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us and her love will live forever in our hearts."

Taylor, who spent virtually her entire life in the public eye, was an iconic film star who won two Academy Awards, an eight-times bride, a humanitarian who campaigned indefatigably against AIDS and a collector of some of the world's most glamorous jewels.

More memories of Elizabeth Taylor .

Despite her failing health in recent years, the wheelchair-bound actress was forced to deny rumors of another impending marriage -- this time to talent manager Jason Winters -- as recently as last spring.

Born in London on Feb. 27, 1932, to American parents -- her father was an art dealer, her mother was once an actress -- she moved to California with her family when she was seven and was quickly spotted by a talent scout.

She made her film debut aged 10 in "There's One Born Every Minute" and then hit the big time at 12 playing horse-crazy Velvet Brown in "National Velvet," though she blamed several spills from a horse during filming for later back problems.

The film, a smash hit, made her a household name, and she went on to star in nearly 60 movies and dazzle as the last great glamorous star of the Hollywood studio system. Her first adult role was in "Father of the Bride" (1950), and she followed that with such classics as "A Place in the Sun" (1951), "Giant" (1956), "Raintree County" (1957), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), "Butterfield Eight" (1960), "Cleopatra" (1963) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966).

She was considered one of the world's most beautiful women, with her electric violet eyes, cloud of dark hair and voluptuous figure, and she acquired husbands with regularity: Conrad "Nicky" Hilton (1950-51), Michael Wilding (1952-57), Michael Todd (1957-58), Eddie Fisher (1959-64), Richard Burton (1964-74 and 1975-76), John Warner (1976-82) and Larry Fortensky (1991-1996). Todd died in a plane crash, leaving her a widow, but she divorced all the others.

Taylor's most high-profile relationship was with acclaimed Welsh actor Burton. They met during the filming of "Cleopatra," in which he played Marc Antony to her Queen of the Nile. Both were married to others, and their tempestuous relationship burned up the headlines for years.

It was also Burton who bought her several of her magnificent jewels, including the pear-shaped 69-carat diamond that came to be called the Burton-Taylor Diamond. She later auctioned it off to fund a hospital in Botswana.

The couple acted together again in a riveting version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" -- for which Taylor, playing an unkempt shrew, won a Best Actress Academy Award to add to her earlier one for "Butterfield 8" -- as well as in a string of lesser films including "The Sandpiper," "The Comedians" and "Boom!"

She was also an entrepreneur, introducing several perfumes such as "White Diamonds" and "Black Pearls" and a line of diamond and precious stone jewelry. For her various activities, Taylor was made a Dame of the British Empire and a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French government.

After the death of her close friend and "Giant" costar Rock Hudson from AIDS, Taylor threw herself into raising funds to fight the disease and co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

She was also a known for her longtime friendship with pop star Michael Jackson and supported the singer throughout the notorious child abuse claims that dogged him in his later years. Her attendance at his funeral in 2009 marked a return to the public eye after several years shunning the limelight.

Her own health went through precarious patches, including a near-fatal illness while filming "Butterfield 8," a benign brain tumor, congestive heart failure, skin cancer, a repeatedly broken back, hip replacements, pneumonia and finally, heart failure. Amid all the tumult of her life -- all the headlines and publicity, both good and bad -- Taylor just carried on. "I'm a survivor," she once said. "A living example of what people can go through and survive."

Direct wine shipment bills pass key hurdles in Md. legislature

Wine aficionados in Maryland may soon be able to order their favorite vintages directly from vineyards under bills overwhelmingly approved Tuesday by two legislative committees. The effort to legalize direct wine shipment has long been opposed by the powerful alcohol industry in Annapolis. Under pressure from consumers this year, however, lawmakers have embraced a compromise that would allow shipments from wineries — but not from retail stores as initially proposed.

After a bipartisan vote in favor of the bill in the House Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday, Chairman Dereck Davis (D-Prince George’s) said the measure “moved the ball forward,” while he also acknowledged that “everyone is not entirely pleased.”

A similar measure was approved Tuesday by a Senate committee. Nick Manis, a lobbyist for beer wholesalers, called the industry’s position in favor of the compromise “a major concession.”

Under the House version of the bill, Maryland residents could order up to 18 cases of wine per year directly to their homes.

If the measure is successful on the floor of the House and Senate, it will be a boon to the state’s wine connoisseurs. Scores of Maryland residents currently circumvent the law by ordering wine to their offices in the District or to the homes of friends who live in Virginia – two of the 38 states or jurisdictions that currently allow direct wine shipment. SOURCE: Washington Post

MCPS: Highest Average Teacher Salary in State as of 2010

This chart and more information in the Analysis of Professional Salaries - Maryland Public Schools - June 2010 report from the Maryland State Department of Education. SOURCE: Parents' Coalition of MC

Recommendations of Organizational Reform Commission to be Reviewed by Montgomery Council

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 21, 2011—The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, March 22, will hold a worksession on the 28 recommendations made by the Organizational Reform Commission (ORC) that was appointed in 2010. Eight of the recommendations would require Council legislation to implement.

The worksession on the recommendations will be part of the Council’s regular weekly general session beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming through the County Web site at The meeting will be rebroadcast on CCM at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 25.

The ORC was composed of members appointed by the Council and County Executive Isiah Leggett. All members had extensive experience in reform in the government or private sector. The committee issued its report on Jan. 31.

Of the 28 ORC recommendations, four involve bills that are scheduled for public hearings on Tuesday, March 29. Four others (related to collective bargaining) will be introduced later this year. Another focused on the Park Police is scheduled for Council committee review on April 4. The Council will take final action on ORC recommendations during its work over the next two months in preparing the Fiscal Year 2012 operating budget. The budget will be approved in late May and will take effect on July 1.

During the morning session, resolutions will be introduced to set the amount of the property tax credit offset for FY12 and to establish the FY12 Water Quality Protection Charge. In his recommended budget presented to the Council last week, County Executive Leggett included a property tax credit of $692 for owner-occupied principal residences. In the past three years, credits adopted were $613 (FY08), $579 (FY09) and $690 (FY10).

The recommended budget assumes to increase the Water Quality Protection Charge per equivalent resident unit from $49 to $62.

March 22, 2011

Jim Russek, GOP Council candidate in 2010, dies

On Sunday, March 20, 2011, of Silver Spring, MD. Beloved husband of Anna Marie Russek; father of Alicia (John) Welsh, Arleen Madruga, Amy Olmedo, and Anita (Matthew) Lendach; brother of Loretta, Darlene, Thomas, Henry, and John; grandfather Heather, Alia, Jessica, Erin, and Antonio. Also survived by numerous other relatives. Relatives and friends may call at Collins Funeral Home, 500 University Boulevard, West, Silver Spring, MD, on Wednesday, March 23, from 12 to 1 p.m., where service will be held at 1 p.m. Interment Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

Elderly couple remains hospitalized after Potomac house fire

Two residents in their 80s remain hospitalized after a cigarette caused a fire Sunday in their Potomac home that also injured two county firefighters. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Responded around 3 p.m. Sunday to a house fire in the 8100 block of Whites Ford Way, Montgomery County Assistant Chief Scott Graham said. Neighbors helped get the two residents out of the house before rescue crews arrived.

An 85-year-old man suffered second degree burns on 21 percent of his body and was taken to the hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries, Graham said. An 87-year-old woman was also taken to the hospital. Both had injuries resulting from inhaling smoke.

Two firefighters also received burns, Graham said. They were taken to the hospital Sunday and released later that day.

The fire took about 45 minutes to extinguish, Graham said.

The cause of the fire is believed to be improperly discarded non fire-safe cigarettes in the first floor den, Graham said. He did not know who was smoking or where the cigarettes came from.

Maryland passed a law last year banning the sale of non fire-safe cigarettes, but it is not illegal to own them, Graham said. A fire-safe cigarette will extinguish after certain period of time if left alone. SOURCE: Gazette

Gaithersburg Man Arrested After "Crab Walking"

A 27-year-old Gaithersburg man was arrested and charged with possession of PCP in Frederick early Sunday morning after being seen "crab walking," Frederick City Police said. At about 12:45 a.m. Sunday, a Frederick City Police officer was on a routine traffic stop on W. Patrick Ave. in Frederick when he was told by a passerby of a man acting strangely in the parking lot of the Capitol Crave Restaurant at 5901 Old National Pike, police said. There they found Tony Dejuan Porter, of Blue Smoke Court in Gaithersburg, "crab walking" around the parking lot, police said. The officers smelled a strong odor of PCP and saw Porter "showing numerous visual signs of PCP intoxication," police He was placed under arrest and a vial suspected of containing PCP was found in his pocket, police said. According to online State court records, Porter was released on $3,500 bail on Sunday. In 2007 Porter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana in Montgomery County and served one year of probation. SOURCE: Gaithersburg Patch

Top volunteer firefighters resign from Burtonsville station

Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Chief Robert E. Ryan and four other senior volunteer officials resigned from their posts as Burtonsville volunteers Saturday while also requesting demotions from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service that oversees both career and volunteer firefighters countywide.

The move came in response to county fire and rescue service Chief Richard R. Bowers' Feb. 24 decision to transfer command of the Burtonsville station to career firefighters following complaints that the station's volunteers were mistreating their career counterparts, even urinating on the door handles of career firefighters' vehicles, said county fire and rescue spokesman Assistant Chief Scott Graham. Volunteer officials contested the complaints, saying those that were found to be substantive had been investigated and dealt with while also arguing that Bowers' action was illegal, said Burtonsville Volunteer Firefighter Department spokeswoman Tami Bulla.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is a combination service that includes both volunteer and career firefighters, but each of the county's 19 volunteer departments is technically an independent organization from the Montgomery County government. Bowers, a career official, is the chief of the county fire and rescue service, but he wields limited control over the day-to-day management of the different volunteer departments due to their independence, leading to some of the tension between career and volunteer officials.

Within the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, a master list called the Integrated Emergency Command Structure outlines the rank of every career and volunteer firefighter — from chief officers down to entry-level firefighters. The master list defines, based on the level of training, what kinds of calls each is capable of responding to, according to fire officials. Ryan and his colleagues requested demotions Saturday that placed them at the rank of master firefighters on this master list, Graham said.

After accepting the demotions, however, Ryan and the others resigned from the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department itself, which has its own independent membership list, Bulla said. SOURCE: Gazette

Chevy Chase Library Faces Possible Staff Cuts

Never underestimate the power of local citizenry to effect change. A group of ardent book lovers hopes to do just that. It didn’t matter that their regular meeting space at the Chevy Chase Library was occupied. The kitchen in the back of the library, with its small table and homey feel, would have to do. Time is of the essence when a neighborhood library is on the chopping block.

Members of the Library Advisory Committee for Chevy Chase and the Friends of the Library, Chevy Chase Chapter met March 16, and County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed budget cuts occupied much of the conversation.

“We are the library board. We have the opportunity to articulate our concerns," said Otto Lewis, Library Advisory Committee member of the Montgomery County Library Board.

Lee Farber, co-chair of the Library Advisory Committee for Chevy Chase, fired back, “We’ve met with [Roger] Berliner, [Nancy] Floreen and [George] Leventhal,” insisting their message was delivered. “Libraries are core, and yet they all voted to cut the budget.”

Under Leggett’s operating budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, 32 positions at county libraries will be abolished, according to Eric Carzon, business manager, Montgomery County Public Libraries. Chevy Chase Library is proposed to change from 12 positions to seven positions (full- and part-time), Carzon said March 18. SOURCE: Chevy Chase Patch

Empty House on Elm Street still Boarded-up – any info?

This house on Elm Street, which we’ve written about before on several occasions, is still boarded-up and seemingly empty, despite a car regularly parked outside. Does anyone have any news or info about this property? I’m wondering if it is being used for some purpose related to the current construction of new buildings on the same street? SOURCE: Bethesda Actually

Man Shot and Killed in Olney

Police are trying to figure out who shot and killed a man on his way home from work in Montgomery County. Police found 41-year-old Punyasara Gedara with a gunshot wound in the 3400 block of North High Street in Olney Monday afternoon. He was taken to the hospital where he later died. Police said Gedara worked in the area and was walking to his home on nearby Bantry Drive. There are no suspects. Police say a older model beige Toyota Camry was seen leaving the scene at the time of the shooting.

Group to speak out against bottled water in Md.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Environmentalists are heading to Annapolis to speak out against public spending on bottled water as part of World Water Day events. Tuesday is World Water Day, established by the United Nations to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and its sustainable management. Activists with Corporate Accountability International plan to hold an event Tuesday morning on Lawyer's Mall. Spokeswoman Nelly Baldwin says the group will call on Gov. Martin O'Malley to cut state spending on bottled water. She says that would cut waste and focus spending on public water systems. Baldwin says other speakers include the co-owner of an Annapolis restaurant that has stopped serving bottled water and the co-founder of the Annapolis Green Drinks chapter, which has stopped using bottled water at its environmental networking events. SOURCE: Baltimore Sun

Description of Lulumelon murder

Debate Over What Pro Life Counseling Centers Must Disclose To Clients

March 21, 2011 - A federal judge has told Montgomery County, Maryland it can't force pro life counseling centers to tell clients to seek medical attention elsewhere. Later this week, the board will decide if it will appeal the ruling. For nearly two decades, hundreds of pregnant women, most of them Latinas, have been counseled at the Tepeyac Women’s Center. A 21-year-old, who asked that her name not be used, said she just learned she is pregnant again.

“I’m just grateful to have them here, someone to talk to me and for me not to go through a lot of stuff by myself,” she says.

Tepeyac is a Catholic charity and Director Mariana Vera says the center doesn’t refer clients to abortion clinics.

“What we do is we talk about the options that they have. That includes adoption, parenting and abortion and we know that it’s their decision,” Vera says.

The center sued the county over a law forcing it and similar clinics to post notices saying there were no licensed medical professionals on staff and urging clients to seek medical attention elsewhere. A federal judge ruled that the centers are not required to refer clients to other facilities. Mark Rienzi is Tepeyac’s attorney, “The law in Montgomery County is part of a nationwide trend of regulating the speech of pro life counselors.”

But Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal denies that charge.

“The county council acting as the board of health felt it was important to let these women know that health advice from licensed medical professionals would not be available at these centers. I believe that’s good public health policy,” he says.

The court still has to rule on the legality of the entire ordinance. SOURCE: WAMU

March 21, 2011

Metro to lure bike-to-rail commuters

With packs on their backs, reflective neon straps around their ankles and sometimes even headlamps, they are the proud few who brave traffic, rainstorms and thieves to bicycle to Metrorail stations.

Bike-to-rail commuters represent 0.7 percent of Metrorail riders - compared with about 40 percent who drive, 33 percent who walk and 22 percent who take the bus to stations.

But Metro's long-range planners, desperate to avoid having to build 30,000 to 40,000 expensive parking spaces at stations to meet the projected surge in ridership over the next 20 years, have launched an initiative to quintuple the number of cyclists.

"It's very much strategic for us to put a really big focus on bicycle parking," said Kristin Haldeman, Metro's manager of access planning. Parking spaces cost on average $25,000 each, compared with $1,000 per space for a secured bike cage. "It's an extremely expensive proposition for us" to expand car parking, she said.

Bike riders say they are motivated to mount up each day by necessity, a desire to save time and money, or, in the case of Ryan Buchholz, guilt.

"I was telling my patients they had to exercise a half-hour a day," said Buchholz, 36, a physician who rides from his home in Falls Church to the East Falls Church Station.

The father of two decided a year ago that biking to Metro was the easiest way to fit a workout into his hectic day.

Though their reasons for biking are different, Buchholz, Frazis and Harrington have all experienced what surveys show are the biggest frustrations of the pedaling crowd: Traffic dangers and theft.

Buchholz painfully recalled the day he had to ride home standing up after his bike seat was snatched. Frazis had two bikes stolen before he replaced his cable lock with a U-shaped metal bar lock. Harrington's last bike was stolen when she was living in New York City - so to discourage thieves, she rides a battered Peugeot bought on Craigslist.

To address those challenges and lure more cyclists, Metro plans to invest more than $11 million in projects to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to its rail stations through 2017.

Of that, $3 million would go toward replacing rapidly deteriorating bicycle racks and lockers. Metro plans to spend $8 million on expanding bicycle parking and improving connections to stations from communities.

Metro has 1,700 free racks, which can hold two bicycles each, and 1,270 key-operated lockers that rent for $200 a year. New racks are planned for high-ridership stations such as East Falls Church, Vienna, Braddock Road, Bethesda, Silver Spring, West Hyattsville, and Columbia Heights.

Metro also plans to try bike storage at the College Park station and will put in a new bike path at Vienna, said Nat Bottigheimer, director of Metro's Office of Long Range Planning. The College Park trial facility will consist of an enclosed room - secured with bars and monitored by closed-circuit video - with spaces for 80 bikes. Riders will use a SmarTrip card to access the storage area, he said.

Bottigheimer, an avid biker, said cycling to Metro offers many benefits. "It gives you a view of the city," he said, and besides, "it's energetic, fun and youthful." SOURCE: Washington Post More than 90 cyclists park and ride each weekday morning at East Falls Church, which has the highest number of bike-to-rail commuters of Metro's 86 rail stations. The Medical Center Station in Bethesda attracts the most bike riders in Maryland and is the top station in the transit system in the percentage of peak-period riders who cycle to the station - 7.1 percent.

Lululemon murder suspect due in court

The Bethesda store employee accused of murdering a co-worker is scheduled to appear in court today. Brittany Norwood was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of 30-year-old Jayna Murray, her co-worker at the Lululemon Athletica shop. She's expected to be arraigned this afternoon in a Montgomery County courtroom. Norwood initially told police two masked men beat and sexually assaulted them after entering the store on the night of March 11, but police say she lied and that Norwood murdered Murray during a dispute, a report says was over stolen merchandise.

Montgomery County Daily celebrates one year on web

BETHESDA, MARYLAND -- Montgomery County Daily, a daily new blog serving readers in Montgomery County, Maryland has now been published for an entire year.

"It's exciting that we've been successful for an entire year now," said Daniel Vovak, owner and writer of content. "The real growth will happen in this next year, though. That's when I expect to have a few loyal advertisers on board. Generating advertisers is a cleaver combination of providing readable content, attracting readers, and actually selling the ads."

Ads sell at $100 per ad per month, which Vovak believes is a good deal.

"Our peak monthly hits were at 14,000," says Vovak. "Having a direct link from the internet to the website of a vendor is an ideal advertising system. It's only a matter of time before we have a few ads and some thoroughly happy customers."

To contact Vovak, email him at or phone 202-367-4835.

Washington, DC Weather Video Forecast

Washington, DC Weather Video Forecast :

Monday Morning Showers late this morning...then a chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon.

Monday Afternoon Mostly cloudy. Showers in the morning...then a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 60s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Chance of rain 80 percent.

Monday Night Mostly cloudy. A chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Lows in the upper 40s. West winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30 percent.

Tuesday Partly sunny in the morning...then becoming mostly cloudy. Highs in the lower 60s. North winds 5 to 10 mph.

Tuesday Night Rain. Lows in the lower 40s. East winds around 5 mph. Chance of rain 80 percent.

Wednesday Showers likely. Highs in the lower 60s. Chance of rain 70 percent.

Wednesday Night Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers. Lows in the mid 40s.

Thursday Partly sunny with a 30 percent chance of showers. Highs in the mid 50s.

Thursday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 30s.

Friday Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 40s.

Friday Night Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Lows in the lower 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.

Saturday Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Highs around 50. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.

Saturday Night Mostly cloudy. Lows in the lower 30s.

Sunday Cloudy. Highs in the upper 40s.

Baltimore Sun looks at O'Malley's Wind Power proposal

Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to promote offshore wind power in Maryland got a skeptical reception from a state senate committee this week, and that's understandable. There are an array of issues to give anyone pause, particularly the project's potential cost.

But on balance, the wind farm envisioned by the legislation would represent too great a benefit to the residents of this state to be ignored. And the $1.5 billion price tag is largely a matter of perspective: The benefits are most evident in future years as global energy prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions becomes all the more urgent.

In 2004, the General Assembly wisely made a commitment to renewable energy. By 2022, Maryland-based power companies are expected to buy 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

But so far, there's not been much investment in such facilities in Maryland, and that's a problem. The governor's proposal would require the Public Service Commission to order local electric companies to enter long-term power purchase agreements from a qualified offshore wind generator.

A surcharge on ratepayers' accounts would cover the additional cost of wind power over the next two decades or more. Estimates are that for average residential customers, this may add anywhere from 92 cents to $3 per month on their bills.

With the guarantee of two decades of power purchases, it's likely a private company would develop the envisioned 600 megawatt wind farm, capable of supplying 3 percent of the state's overall power needs or enough to serve 79 percent of all the homes on the Eastern Shore, a huge boost toward the state's 2022 goal.

Critics of the proposal have pointed out that one of the possible developers employs Michael R. Enright, Mr. O'Malley's former chief of staff. But while it is unfortunate that someone so close to the administration is involved in such a high-profile, government-supported project so soon after leaving office, the decision on what company might get the job (and there are at least a half-dozen potential bidders) rests solely with federal authorities, not the governor or the state legislature. SOURCE: Baltimore Sun

Montgomery County Democrat Spring Ball is May 15

Montgomery County Democratic Party's Annual Spring Ball

When: May 15, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

Where: The Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

Tickets: $100 per person

Montgomery County Television and interviews

March 20, 2011

"Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?" Farrakhan Blasts Obama For Calling For Qaddafi to Step Down (Video)

FARRAKHAN: "I warn my brother do you let these wicked demons move you in a direction that will absolutely ruin your future with your people in Africa and throughout the world...Why don't you organize a group of respected Americans and ask for a meeting with Qaddafi, you can't order him to step down and get out, who the hell do you think you are?

Legislation centered around septic tanks is another example of Annapolis putting emotions ahead of science in lawmaking

Pets and Politics

The pending legislation centered around septic tanks is another example of Annapolis putting emotions ahead of science in lawmaking.

To listen to Governor O’Malley and his supporters in the Maryland General assembly, one would think that septic tanks are the major contributor to Bay pollution. They have consistently ignored actual data from the Maryland Department of the Environment concerning the cause of over-nutrification (pollution) of the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2005, as a Trustee of the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, I explained in a letter to Ms. Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment, close to 700 million gallons of raw or minimally treated sewage was dumped into Maryland waterways in 2004 and over 400 million gallons in 2005. I also indicated in that letter that the Maryland Department of the Environment has been aware of this situation, and in 1995 cautioned that antiquated and poorly maintained sewage treatment plants were a major cause of Bay pollution.

While the situation is improving, unfortunatley this trend continues to today, with sewage treatment facility malfunctions being the major source of pollution to the Bay.

The recent numbers for sewage spills due to malfunctioning treatment plants are: 20 million gallons in 2008, 98 million gallons in 2009, and 97 million gallons in 2010.

According to the Patuxent Riverkeeper, the Dorsey Run Waste Water Treatment Plant in Anne Arundel County (just one example) had 24 violations between 2005 and 2010. Records show that, between July 2003 and June 2009, problems at this facility and in the sewer pipes leading to it caused sewage spills totaling about 2.2 million gallons of raw sewage. A further 11 million gallons of partially treated sewage were discharged when the plant failed in October 2007. According to the Riverkeeper, “there are a potpourri of buggy, outmoded and troubled industrial facilities and wastewater plants that exist by virtue of state-issued permits that are regularly violated and that the State rarely enforces."

It is up to all of us to insure that our waterways are kept clean and free of contaminates, including sewage.

We can do this by insisting that our elected officials from both parties promote legislation based in fact and on science instead of popular opinion.

Blaming those folks with septic tanks is not only wrong but indefensable.

Dr. Jim Pelura is a practicing veterinarian in Maryland and former Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Motive sought in Bethesda yoga shop slaying

Montgomery County detectives are investigating whether a workplace dispute over stolen merchandise led to the slaying inside a Bethesda yoga clothing shop, police said Saturday. In court papers, detectives said the suspect's coverup cracked under mounting forensic evidence and investigators' questions. Brittany Norwood, who was a standout soccer player in high school and college, is charged with murder in the March 11 death of her co-worker, Jayna Murray, 30. Norwood, 28, was being held at the Montgomery County jail Saturday without bond. She is due in court Monday.

Norwood at first portrayed herself as a victim in the attack, and police said she concocted the story that had downtown Bethesda on edge for a week: that two masked men entered Lululemon Athletica after closing time, sexually assaulted her and Murray, tried to steal money and left her tied up in the store, where she was discovered the next morning.

But according to the new court records, detectives slowly gathered evidence that contradicted the story. At one point in the court papers, Detective James Drewry labeled as "unbelievable" Norwood's explanation of why she moved the victim's car on a night that she supposedly spent tied up in a restroom. From early in the case, detectives could see problems with Norwood's story, according to the court filing.

At 8:12 a.m. March 12, a Lululemon employee arrived to open the store. She saw signs of disarray and heard "moaning coming from the back of the store," according to the court filing. Police were called. Patrol officers who arrived took pictures of Norwood, who was lying on a floor in the restroom, her hands and feet bound with zip ties. She soon told detectives her story. Norwood said that while one of the masked men tried to steal money, the other assaulted Murray in the back of the store, according to the court papers. Norwood said she was then sexually assaulted.

But a medical examination of Norwood found no trauma consistent with the attack she had described, and further investigation showed that Murray had not been raped, according to authorities. In addition, remarking on Norwood's injuries, Drewry noted that scratches running parallel across her chest, stomach and thighs had the hallmarks of self-inflicted wounds, according to court papers.

As doubts rose about details of her account, detectives studied photos of Norwood that were taken by the responding patrol officers. They concluded that the position of Norwood's hands - above her head - indicated that she had posed herself, the papers say. But it was evidence found in Murray's car and the fact that the car had been moved that led to the complete unraveling of Norwood's story, police said.

Detectives asked tough questions after trying not to push too hard in earlier interviews, police said. They asked if she moved the car, and she said she did, according to the court papers. They asked how that could be, in light of the rest of her story. Norwood said the two assailants let her leave the store to move the car but told her to come back in 10 minutes or they'd kill her, according to the court records. Norwood said that as she was moving the car, she saw a police officer but did not tell him what was going on. SOURCE: Washington Post

Man sought in theft of airbags

Last fall, someone broke into about 30 vehicles in the Gaithersburg area and stole airbags. In most cases, Montgomery County police say, someone broke a window to gain entry.

And in one of those break-ins, the culprit cut himself and left blood in the vehicle. Now, police say a DNA match has led them to a suspect and they're asking for help in tracking him down. Police are looking for 25-year-old David Alexander Portillo-Henriquez, who is also known as Augustin Portillo Gonzales. Montgomery County police say he's known to spend time in Fort Washington and Talbot County in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia. Police don't know yet how many thefts he's linked to. SOURCE: Washington Examiner Read more at the Washington Examiner:

COMMENTARY on Jayna Murray murder and gun rights

It’s frequently a variation of the same story time after time. In these scenarios, the police are only there to document the scene and take photographs. Marylanders constantly elect politicians who deny them the right to carry firearms and defend themselves. The criminals have the advantage in these scenarios. If the girls weren’t rushed at the door, then they absently did not take the 5 seconds to throw the lock on the door once they entered. Based on what I see on the internet, Jayna was no sissy. If either of them had had a gun, and it’s not unrealistic to think one of them might, given their late hours closing the store, they would have had at least one last chance to fend off the criminals. But they should have at least had the choice. But they did not. It is almost impossible to get a permit to carry a firearm in Maryland unless you meet one of the strictest defined criteria. Think about it, from the very moment this crime plan went into action, these girls had no opportunity whatsoever to defend themselves; they were going to be victims. They were not going to be able to affect the course of events. I think that is pretty profound. Why should that be ok with all of us?

There’s an old saying, “better to be judged by 12 than carried by six.” This refers to people who will potentially break a law defending themselves, but preserving their life. If either of these girls was illegally carrying a hand gun, that illegal weapon, might have saved Jayna’s life. But why wouldn’t we give law abiding citizens the option to legally defend themselves?

We are conditioned to watch a news conference and feel empathy for victims and just accept the outcome of such crimes. We need to stop accepting these outcomes.

Here is one organization that works towards the goal:

Very good short recent article on the subject including discussion. In Maryland, you essentially have to first be a victim of a crime (and survive I guess) before they will issue a permit to carry.

Chris Howard