Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Staff Donates Record Amount

I’m really proud of the staff at the Montgomery County Council for donating over $3,300 and more than 600 pounds of food to Montgomery County residents who need a little extra help. Every year, the staff organizes a series of events to raise money for charity, and this year set an all-time record. The money went to Neighbors in Need, an umbrella organization that provides for basic needs through a variety of non-profit organizations. The food collected went straight to Manna. Good job.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Phone Message Line for Budget Input

Call our new phone message line to voice your opinion on any aspect of the Fiscal Year 2011. Dial 240-777-7802.

Our budget experts estimate that the County is facing a $608 million gap as it prepares the budget that will go into effect on July 1. Over the next five months the Council and its committees will be examining the budget requests of County government departments, and requests of County agencies including the Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

This line is open to any and all types of ideas. We are expanding the number of methods available to seek fresh thoughts and reach people who may not be able to participate in the process through other channels. Whether people have innovative ideas on how we can approach achieving a balanced budget or if they have thoughts about specific items we will be addressing, we want to hear what they have to say. Traditionally, people have forwarded their thoughts through letters or e-mails, but those methods do not work for everyone. For those who just want to make a telephone call, we now have another option to help shape the next County budget.

Town Hall Meeting for Students

Join us for our first-ever town hall meeting for students on Wednesday, February 3. High school and middle school students from across the County will be able to express views on issues and ask questions of councilmembers in an organized, but informal, setting.

When it comes to decisions affecting young people—whether in regard to schools, libraries, recreation, parks or the community in general—the practice too often is to have one set of adults talk to another set adults. This Council will have many important decisions to make in the coming months—and many of these decisions could have significant impact on people 18 and under. We think the best way to find out what this generation of Montgomery County residents need and want is to hear directly from them.

The meeting, in the Council’s Third Floor Hearing Room, will start at 7 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the building’s second-floor cafeteria. The meeting will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and rebroadcast at various times in the following weeks.

RSVP by calling 240-777-7931.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snow Briefing on the Web

Some people have said they would like to know more about the briefing the Department of Transportation gave to the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee on January 12 about snow removal, so we’ve put the video on the Council’s home page. Look under “Things You Should Know….”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

After the Snow

My hat is off to the Department of Transportation for its excellent response to the recent blizzard. The last we had this much snow (in 1996), DOT received nearly 10,000 calls for service. This time, the number of calls was down to about 1,100.

At Tuesday's briefing to the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee on snow removal after the recent blizzard, I was reminded how truly complex and sophisticated the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) snow removal procedures are. Did you know that DOT clears 5,085 lane miles when it snows? In the case of large amounts of snow, they clear these lanes multiple times (for a total of 18,000 miles in this case). This requires a workforce of over 400 personnel (some County employees and some contractors). Early estimates indicate the cost of the recent snowstorm is more than $5 million.

To understand more about the County’s snow removal policies and what they mean to you, check out the very informative bulletin, Winter Weather Operations - Salting and Snow Removal. Essentially, DOT clears emergency routes and primary residential streets completely before beginning to clear neighborhood streets.

The December blizzard dropped about two feet of snow throughout the entire County. DOT anticipates that clearing this much snow takes 48 to 60 hours. In this case, DOT completed the work in this timeframe. Still, some residents raised questions about the timing and quality of snow removal in their neighborhoods.

Some have suggested that wealthy neighborhoods were cleared before less affluent neighborhoods. Based on the correspondence I received in my office from residents all over the County and from yesterday’s briefing, I can say unequivocally that this is not true. All residential streets, including cul-de-sacs, are treated equally.

Some residents said that their streets weren’t plowed. In a very few cases, DOT’s Geographic Information System (GIS) was not correct. In these cases, DOT updated its GIS so that the error will not occur again.

More often, plows had been down a street once, but because of continued heavy snowfall and stiff winds, plowing was not evident to residents. Snowplows returned to residential streets for further clearing later. It is important to note that DOT’s policy is to make residential streets passable, not to clear them to bare pavement. This policy appears to have caused some confusion. Although we would like to have bare pavement, such a policy would add unreasonable expense and time to the overall clearing project.

For the most part, residents were patient during this storm, and there is no question patience was needed, especially for those whose streets were plowed near the end of the clearing period. The entire briefing will be posted on the Web soon. If you continue to have questions, check out DOT’s website. And let’s hope we don’t see another blizzard like this in the near future.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Free Job Tips Workshops at Libraries

Getting Montgomery County residents back to work is my top priority, so I want to alert you to free workshops featuring job tips to be held at Montgomery County Public Libraries.

Information will include how to expand contacts and how to more successfully market yourself. Also included will be the “Do’s and Don’ts of Your Resume” and the Keys to Mastering the Interview Process.”

Workshops will be held at the Quince Orchard Library on January 11 and February 8. They will be held at the Rockville Library on January 13 and February 10. All workshops will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Thanks to the Jewish Social Services Agency’s (JSSA) Employment and Career Services for these workshops. To register, call 301-610-8380.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Proposed Cuts to RideOn Bus Service

Yesterday, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation announced a public forum on proposed cuts to RideOn bus service as a part of the County Executive’s second savings plan for FY10. Click on the link at the bottom of this post to learn exactly which routes are affected and to find out how you can let DOT know your thoughts.