Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Comcast Newsmakers

In this episode of Comcast Newsmakers I discuss my proposal to extend County’s ban on smoking; the importance of providing lane markings to support our bikeshare initiative; and the significance of the Zoning Code rewrite. See it here or keep an eye out for it on your Comcast stations.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Season Safety Tips

Opportunities for robberies, burglaries, and thefts from vehicles increase during the holiday season. Montgomery County Police will be working to deter holiday-related crime with the annual “Shop with a Cop” campaign. Officers will patrol retail areas to provide extra security and safety awareness. But, residents can also do their part to keep safe while shopping, walking, and at home. Here are some safety tips that Montgomery County Police would like you to keep in mind:

When shopping:

~ Do not become distracted by your shopping. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

~ Park in well-lighted parking lots and park as close to the mall or store as possible.

~ Lock your car doors and keep packages hidden in the trunk or under the seats of your vehicle.

~ Do not carry large amounts of cash with you – pay with checks or credit cards when possible.

~ Ensure that you are not encumbered with a large number of packages. Try to make trips back to your vehicle to store packages in the trunk as you continue to shop.

~ Carry your closed purse as close to your body as possible.

~ Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

When out walking:

~ Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

~ Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.

~ Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.

~ Do not flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.

~ Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
If you think that someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.

If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist. Give up your property--do not endanger your life. Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker accurately.

At home:

~ If your Christmas tree can be seen through a window, do not display presents under the tree where they could be seen.

~ Make sure to lock doors and windows.

~ If you are going away for the holiday, let a neighbor know that your home will not be occupied and have someone keep an eye on your home. Ask someone to pick up your mail and newspapers.

~ Place your lights on timers to give the appearance that someone is at home.
After the holidays, be sure to break down cardboard boxes from gifts for recycling so that a potential burglar does not know your home has a new computer, TV, video game system, etc.

Council to Host Forum on Key Budget Issues

We will host a unique opportunity for the public to comment and ask questions on priorities relating to the Fiscal Year 2014 County operating budget planning process on Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. The 90-minute session will include a presentation on the challenges that the Council and County Executive will face in formulating a balanced budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1.

County departments are already working on early stages of the FY14 budget. The County Executive is required to present his recommended budget to the Council by March 15. The Council and its committees will analyze the recommendations, make adjustments and adopt the budget by late May.

The FY14 budget process will be significantly impacted by recent changes in State law regarding K-12 public education funding. The changes have added a layer of complexity to the County’s budget deliberations and fiscal outlook as the Maryland General Assembly recently amended the Maintenance of Effort law that governs local education funding and shifted a large portion of the cost of teacher pensions to the County.

The County’s Office of Legislative Oversight recently analyzed how continuing economic pressures and the recent changes in local school funding requirements would affect the Council’s budgeting and fiscal planning in FY14 and future years.

The forum will be held in the Third Floor Council Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville and will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcasts also will be streamed through the County Web site.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ice Rinks are Open

If you're looking for an activity to help you and/or your kids burn off energy or calories after a big Thanksgiving meal, how about ice skating or a little ice hockey? Rinks are open around the county, including in Silver Spring, Rockville Town Center, Cabin John and Wheaton.

How Not to Set Your House on Fire this Thanksgiving

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. Fire Chief Richard Bowers says, “Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie cooking your first holiday feast, the strategies for serving up a safe meal are the same. Unattending cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow these simple safety tips and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.”

Cooking Safety Tips:

• Be alert! Stay in the kitchen when using the stovetop and use a timer. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a minute, turn off the stove.

• Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven or other heat source. This includes pot holders, food packaging, dish towels, paper/plastic bags, etc.

• Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. In the event of a range-top fire, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid or cookie sheet onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan has cooled.

• Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.

• Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking to prevent clothing from coming in contact with a burner and catching fire.

• Do not hold children while cooking or carrying hot foods or drinks. Keep children at a safe distance from hot surfaces, liquids and other kitchen hazards.

• Plug microwaves and other kitchen appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

• Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off and that any candles or smoking materials are safely extinguished.

• Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test batteries monthly and check batteries annually.

Turkey fryers are becoming an increasingly popular choice to cook the Thanksgiving turkey and can be extremely dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. If your plans include using a turkey fryer, fire department officals urge residents to follow all manufacturer directions closely and to review the following safety tips:

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips:

• Never leave a fryer unattended.

• By design, turkey fryers are prone to tipping over. Fryers should always be used on a non-combustible, flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.

• Fryers should always be used outdoors at least 10 feet from buildings and any flammable materials. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage, porch or other enclosed space.

• Do not overfill the fryer. The oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames resulting in a potential fire hazard that could engulf the entire unit.

• Oil and water do not mix! Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer. Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spillover effect which may result in a fire.

• Some units do not have thermostat controls and, if not carefully watched, have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.

• Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid handle. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot and can result in severe burns. If available, use safety goggles to protect your eyes from any oil splatter.

• Keep children and pets away from fryers. The oil can remain dangerously hot even hours after use.

Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates and reduce injuries dramatically. For more information about our fire safety programs or to request a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm check, please contact the County’s non-emergency call center at 311.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Montgomery Business Development Corporation Names First President

Through the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, we get guidance from the business community’s perspective on how to handle important issues. These informed recommendations are invaluable to us. That’s why I’m so happy with the hiring of Holly Sears as MBDC’s first president, effective November 26. MBDC is taking the next step in its evolution, and I this is great news for the county’s continued economic development.

The County Council established the MBDC with the overall goal to promote practices that will help sustain current businesses and encourage new businesses to relocate to the County. From its origin, the quasi-public, nonprofit MBDC has sought to engage executive level business leaders to establish a vision for the County’s long-term economic future; to develop and articulate strategies to achieve that vision; to advocate for strategic changes in practices and policies; and to set performance metrics and report on their achievement.

Ms. Sears was appointed to help the organization work toward those goals. She previously served as the Vice President of Economic Development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, near Nashville, Tenn.

During Ms. Sears’s tenure in Rutherford County, she led in excess of 300 projects, recruited and negotiated more than $6 billion in capital investments. In June 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Rutherford County as fourth in the U.S. for new growth in the prior year.

Ms. Sears has a B.A. and M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Tennessee. Prior to joining the Rutherford County Chamber staff, she worked at the State of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development and was the executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County, Tenn. She currently serves as chair of the NAIOP National State and Local Committee. Prior to relocating to Maryland, Ms. Sears was the chair-elect of the NAIOP-Nashville Board of Directors. She has served on the board for the Tennessee Economic Partnership and was appointed to serve as the Tennessee State Alliance co-chair representing the Public Sector for the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Parade This Saturday

The local holiday season officially gets underway on Saturday, November 17 when the 15th Annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade steps off at 10 a.m. from Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in Downtown Silver Spring. Traveling the same route as last year, the parade will proceed south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue.

ABC 7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff will once again serve as master of ceremonies introducing more than 120 parade units. In addition to a few surprises, the new units this year include the Florida State Champions, Paul J. Hagerty High School Marching Band. Live performances include a sword fight scene from Round House Theater’s upcoming production of “Young Robin Hood,” holiday songs from the children’s choir of the Adventure Theater/Musical Theater Center, and “The Nutcracker” by the Maryland Youth Ballet.

This year’s parade begins with pilgrims, turkeys and Thanksgiving floats and ends with elves, reindeer and Santa’s sleigh. There will be a variety of marching bands including the Washington Redskins Marching Band. The Washington Nationals Baseball Club, dancing groups, beauty queens, clowns, fire engines and rescue animal groups will also participate.

The parade will be held rain or shine and will be broadcast live on NewsChannel 8. The telecast will be repeated on Thanksgiving Day.

The north-bound lanes of Georgia Avenue from East-West Highway to Colesville Road will close at 7 a.m. and re-open after the conclusion of the parade at approximately 1 p.m. Ellsworth Drive, Fenton Street and Roeder Road will close beginning at 6 a.m., with limited access to Cedar Drive and Pershing Street.

Free parking will be available in the public garages, including the Wayne Avenue Garage, the Sligo Avenue Garage and the Bonifant Street Garage next to the Metro station. The Spring Street and Ellsworth Town Center garages are closed that day to accommodate the parade. The Town Center public parking garage at Ellsworth Drive will close at 2 a.m. Saturday. The Gateway Plaza lot at Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue will close at 7 a.m. Parade-goers are encouraged to take the Metro Red Line to the Silver Spring station, just west of Georgia Avenue, across from the Discovery building.

For more information about the parade, call 240-777-6821.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Council Approves Subdivision Staging Policy

After months of study, we approved revisions to the County’s 2012-16 Subdivision Staging Policy (which was formerly called the Growth Policy). The policy sets rules regarding transportation and school adequacy for proposed new developments.

One of the changes addressed in the revisions is that the new test of area-wide transportation adequacy will measure transit and road adequacy separately. New projects in areas where transit or roads are inadequate may only move forward by paying a premium equal to 25 percent of the regular transportation impact tax for the project. The premium would increase to 50 percent if both the transit and road capacities for the area are inadequate.

The approved policy also revises the test of adequacy at intersections, so it will more accurately reflect the actual congestion experienced by commuters in the peak direction of travel, and it generally mirrors standards recommended by the National Academy of Sciences' Transportation Research Board.

Additionally, housing developments in 15 high school clusters will pay a premium. Projects in 15 areas will pay a premium for not meeting the transit adequacy test, and in Fairland/White Oak will pay a premium for not meeting the roadway adequacy test.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving

Here’s our holiday schedule for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 22:

~ County Offices – closed
~ Libraries – closed
~ County liquor stores – closed
~ Recreation – All programs and facilities are closed
~ Ride On – Sunday schedule
~ Metrobus – Sunday schedule
~ Metrorail – Sunday schedule
~ TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
~ Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
~ Transfer Station – closed
~ Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
~ MCPS Administrative Offices – closed
~ State offices & courts – closed

*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Apply Now to Cable and Communications Advisory Committee

We’re taking applications for four vacancies on the Cable and Communications Advisory Committee. The deadline to submit applications is Wednesday, November 14.

The Committee advises the County Executive and the County Council on franchise agreements between the County government and providers of cable television service. It also advises on the use of funds provided by cable operators to support local television programming and other cable related activities.

The Advisory Committee has 15 voting members, which include one representative selected by the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League; one representative selected by the City of Rockville; and one representative selected by the City of Takoma Park. Public members should broadly represent technology areas.

Members serve three-year terms without compensation, but are eligible for reimbursement for travel and dependent care for meetings attended. Meetings are held the fourth Wednesday evening of each month in Rockville. Individuals selected for appointment must file a confidential financial disclosure statement within fifteen days of Council confirmation and annually thereafter.

Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, gender, geography, disability and ethnicity are encouraged to apply. An application, consisting of a brief cover letter and resume, should be sent by mail to County Executive Isiah Leggett, 101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, or by email to countyexecutive.boards@montgomerycountymd.gov. Home and employment addresses, as well as contact phone numbers and email addresses should be included.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Employment Assistance Symposium November 16

Getting our residents back to work has been a top priority for me since the beginning of the recession. Job hunters face real challenges in today’s economy, but opportunities still exist, and I am excited to partner with People-4-People to help residents tap into new ways of finding success.

Register now for the People-4-People Employment Assistance Program at a Faith-based and Neighborhood Partners Job Clubs Symposium on Friday, Nov. 16, where I’m pleased to be a guest speaker. The event is free to the public, but pre-registration is requested. The event will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The symposium will run from 1 to 4 p.m.

You can learn how to start an employment program in your community and about resources that are available to job seekers. Panelists will include local job club and ministry leaders, faith and community leaders, workforce development officials, nonprofit leaders and others who are assisting job seekers and workers. Panelists will share job club models. We also look forward to hearing from Ben Seigel, deputy director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Parking is available in the visitors’ garage behind the building, or it is a short walk from the Rockville Metro. Seating is limited. Register online or contact Angela Cooper at 301-989-4673 ext. 1245 or acooper@immanuels.org.

My Bill to Ban Smoking on County Property

I have unfortunately spent a lot of time over the past year with people who have cancer. I want to do everything I can to help prevent this awful disease in all of its forms, and my proposal to ban smoking on all County properties except public rights of way is a good place to start.

I will introduce the bill, which will cover all property leased or owned by the County, on November 20. We will hold a public hearing on January 15 (call 240-777-7803 to sign up).

In Montgomery County, one in 12 adults smoke cigarettes. Nationally, tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths, and an annual toll of 443,000 deaths. Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is associated with increased risk for 15 types of cancer. Tobacco use remains the single, largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.

I’m very pleased that the American Cancer Society will join me for a press event on November 15, the day of the 37th Great American Smokeout, to announce the bill. The Smokeout is an annual event that urges smokers to give up their smoking habits. Thanks also to Council Vice President Nancy Navarro and Councilmembers Craig Rice, Hans Riemer, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich for co-sponsoring the bill.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

County Cable to Show Marathon Tribute to Veterans

Tune in to Montgomery County’s public cable television stations on Sunday, Nov. 11, and Monday, Nov. 12, for a 13-hour marathon tribute to veterans. The tribute will include the first-ever broadcast of extended interviews with 14 local veterans from World War II.

County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) will begin broadcasting the tribute each day at 9:30 a.m. and continue to 10:30 p.m. each day. The marathon is a cooperative production of the County’s PEG (Public-Education-Government) organization of public cable television stations.

The marathon will open with the rebroadcast of the Sept. 19 event in Silver Spring in which Montgomery County saluted area World War II veterans. Montgomery County Honors World War II Veterans, which was hosted by TV news legend Ted Koppel, had more than 175 World War II veterans and more than 500 people overall, in attendance. The veterans attending ranged in age from 86 to 105 and had experiences from some of the most historic events of the past century. It is believed to have been the biggest Washington area tribute to World War II veterans since the National World War II Memorial opened in Washington, D.C., in 2004.

The broadcast will continue at 11:20 a.m. each day with the series of interviews with World War II veterans. The tribute will conclude with a contrast of generations as Montgomery College student Alex Cole interviews veteran Dee Paris, 97, whose World War II experiences included being a tank commander in the Battle of the Bulge.

Here is the programming schedule for the marathon tribute to veterans for both Nov. 11 and 12:

9:30 a.m. Montgomery County Honors WWII Veterans
11:20 a.m. Interview: Sam Einbinder
11:30 a.m. Interview: Seymour Steinberg
12 noon Interview: Charles McGee
12:45 p.m. Interview: Paul Forbes
1 p.m. Interview: Norman Ikari
1:35 p.m. Interview: Boris Osherhoff
2 p.m. Interview: Pierre Causa
2:40 p.m. Interview: Edwin Morgenstern
6 p.m. Interview: Albert Frumkin
6:30 p.m. Interview: William Iwanicki
7 p.m. Interview: Dee Paris
8 p.m. Interview: Don McKee
8:30 p.m. Interview: John Henry Chaney
9 p.m. Interview: Milton Eisen
10 p.m. Montgomery College Student Alex Cole interviews Dee Paris

Monday, November 5, 2012

Holiday Schedule for Veterans Day

Here is our holiday schedule for Veterans Day on Monday, November 12:

~ County Offices – closed
~ Public Libraries – closed
~ County liquor stores – open
~ Recreation – aquatic and community centers are open as scheduled. Aquatic classes and programs will meet as scheduled. All other classes, administrative offices, senior centers and all senior programs will be closed
~ Ride On – Special modified holiday schedule (www.rideonbus.com), click on “Holidays” to see specific schedules)
~ Metrobus – Saturday supplemental schedule
~ Metrorail – Saturday schedule (5 a.m. to midnight)
~ TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
~ Refuse/recycling pickup – regular collection
~ Transfer Station – open
~ Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
~ MCPS Administrative Offices – open
~ State offices & courts – closed

Friday, November 2, 2012

Election Returns Will Be Available on County Website

Get up-to-the-moment election results on the Montgomery County website.

Early Voting returns will be tabulated on Election Day and will be available as soon after 8:00 p.m. as possible. Returns from Election Day polling places will be available beginning at 9:20 p.m. on November 6 and will be updated every 20 minutes.

Go to www.777vote.org or www.montgomerycountymd.gov/elections where an election-related logo will provide a link directly to the Board of Elections return page, as well as links to the Prince George’s County, state, and national election returns.