Monday, January 31, 2011

Not Too Late to Take Pepco Survey

If you haven’t yet completed the online Pepco feedback survey conducted by the County’s Pepco Work Group, you still have a chance. The deadline has been extended to February 7. Note: if you wrote to me about Pepco, I forwarded your comments to the Pepco Work Group.

The survey is designed to obtain information on how the public views Pepco’s service, the extent to which customers have experienced outages, the economic impact of those outages and some insight as to what additional costs customers would be willing to incur in exchange for improved service.

Two different surveys, one for business customers and one for residential customers, are offered. Click on the appropriate link to take the survey that applies: and/or If both apply, customers are asked to complete each one.

The Pepco Work Group is comprised of community leaders who were appointed to investigate the reliability of Pepco’s service in Montgomery County and formulate concrete steps necessary to improve that service. The County will share the Work Group’s final recommendations with Pepco and the Maryland Public Service Commission (Pepco’s regulatory authority).

Town Hall Meeting in East County

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the East County area on Wednesday, February 2. This will be the first Town Hall meeting for the new Council, and it will be held at the Francis Scott Key Middle School (910 Schindler Drive) beginning at 7:30 p.m. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will begin with a presentation by the Council's Office of Legislative Oversight on its report evaluating options to address the County’s structural budget challenges. Visit my blog to learn more about this important two-part report.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM--cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Council Weather Delays and Cancellations Now on Web

You can now check the Council's Web page to find out if there are weather-related changes affecting the Council Office. By 7:00 a.m. (or sooner if possible) announcements about meeting delays or cancellations, or delayed office hours, will be posted above the picture on the Council's main Web page. You can also call 240-777-7900.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Resolution to Support Same-sex Marriage in Maryland

On Tuesday I will introduce a resolution urging the Maryland General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act during the 2011 state legislative session. To me it is a question of civil rights. Allowing the thousands of same-sex to legally commit their lives to each other is the right thing to do to make the Free State even freer. I’m pleased that all of my colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors.

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would allow same-sex couples in Maryland to apply for and receive marriage licenses and would extend to them all state-administered legal benefits, protections and obligations. It would not compel any religious institution or members of the clergy to marry same-sex couples.

Opposite-sex couples, whose marriages are honored by the government, have access to more than 400 state-administered and more than 1,000 federally-administered benefits, protections and responsibilities that are otherwise unavailable to same-sex families. Many of these vital protections come at times of great vulnerability such as birth, death, illness, disability and unemployment. The federal Defense of Marriage Act still prevents same-sex married couples from accessing federal benefits.

Montgomery County has long been committed to non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, genetic status, sex, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity.

It is scheduled for adoption as early as the Council meeting of Feb. 1. It includes the following:

The Montgomery County Council recognizes that the opportunity to publicly and legally commit to share one’s life with the person of one’s choice is of the most central aspects of human experience, and denial of marriage to same-sex couples is the denial of a fundamental civil right.

Therefore, the Montgomery County Council urges:

That the Maryland General Assembly pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to amend state law to remove references to sex and gender as eligibility requirements for a civil marriage license and provide all of the state-administered legal benefits, protections and obligations of marriage, regardless of sexual orientation;

That the Montgomery County Delegation and members of the General Assembly cosponsor, advocate, and vote for passage of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act;

That the Speaker of the House of Delegates and President of the Senate move marriage equality legislation to the floor of their respective chambers for a vote during this legislative session and any subsequent sessions until it is affirmed by a majority of the Assembly;

That the Governor of Maryland sign into law the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act upon its passage by the General Assembly;

That this resolution be sent to the Governor of Maryland, the Honorable Chairs and Members of the Montgomery County House and Senate Delegations, the President of the Maryland Senate and Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Glenmont Metro Garage Groundbreaking

My feet are still thawing out, but a little ice storm couldn’t keep me away from today’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Glenmont Metro Station parking garage.

This second garage at Glenmont Station, which will be located on the west side of Georgia Avenue, replaces one of the station’s Kiss & Ride lots and will add 1,200 parking spaces. When the garage is completed, there will be 3,000 parking spaces at Glenmont. Currently there is more demand than space at the station, and commuters are turned away, so this garage is a very high priority for us.

Commuters displaced from the Kiss & Ride lot during construction will be able to use the other Kiss & Ride lot on the east side of Georgia Avenue. To further accommodate commuters during construction, Congressman Van Hollen (who also braved the elements to attend today’s groundbreaking) obtained a $500,000 federal earmark towards the purchase of two new buses that will enhance the frequency of Ride On bus service to the station. Ride On’s Route 51 bus increased service by 33 percent, or eight additional trips from the 235-space Norbeck Park and Ride Lot, located one-quarter mile east of Georgia Avenue. The upgraded service began in September.

Metro is managing the design/build project for the County and has contracted with Forrester Construction Company, a local Rockville firm. When completed, the garage will be operated and maintained by Metro. Community workshops were held to solicit input on the design of the parking garage. The garage will have six levels of parking, with one level below ground. The design will incorporate a number of environmentally sensitive features to earn the garage a LEED rating, including energy efficient light fixtures and measures to reduce energy use; maximizing recycling and reuse of construction, demolition and land clearing debris; and use of building materials that are locally produced or contain recycled content.

A canopy will connect the garage entrance to the Metrorail entrance. The garage will feature customer assistance phones, extra lighting, digital security cameras, and a police room with window access to the garage to enhance security.

Parking at the garage will cost $4.75. Commuters will use the ‘SmartTrip’ fare card for payment, as in other Metro lots and garages.

The cost of the garage is $24.7 million, and financing will be provided from County revenue and liquor bonds backed by Metro; a special parking surcharge at all Metro stations in the County; and a $1.6 million matching grant from the State of Maryland. The County is planning to purchase the remaining land on the Metro site to locate Fire Station #18 next to the garage. This fire station must be relocated as part of the new Georgia/Randolph interchange project.

The Glenmont Metro Station first opened in 1999. With an average of almost 6,000 weekday boardings, the station has the fourth highest ridership of transit stations in Montgomery County. (Silver Spring and Shady Grove stations have the most ridership with more than 13,000 daily boardings.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Montgomery County Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

There's lots to do this weekend, so come by.

Saturday, January 15 and Sunday, January 16
Food Collection Drive from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Food being collected for Manna Food Center at all 28 Giant Food Stores across Montgomery County. Non-perishable food items can also be donated at any one of the volunteer sites or the musical tribute at Strathmore.

Monday, January 17
Tribute and Musical Celebration from 4 to 6 p.m.
The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
County Executive Ike Leggett’s remarks will include a challenge to boost volunteer activity addressing poverty and need in Montgomery County. The two-hour musical celebration will feature jazz performer, Marcus Johnson; the 2010 winners of “How Sweet the Sound,” Men of Valor; Gospel jazz saxophonist, Brian Lenair; and a host of other performers from diverse backgrounds.

Monday, January 17
Volunteer Projects organized by Montgomery County’s Volunteer Center at:

Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda, 1 to 3:30 p.m. Activities include decorating bookmarks and cards for children with cancer and other terminal illnesses; packing snow day baskets for county-wide Meals on Wheels programs; learning how to register as a bone marrow donor and attending sessions by the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County.

Gapbuster Learning Center, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring – 12:30 to 3 p.m. Activities include arts and crafts projects, a health expo, watching and discussing a movie about civil rights and Dr. King and pledging 40 days of non-violence.