Monday, September 22, 2014

Schedule for Planning Board Interviews

Here's the schedule for tomorrow's interview of four applicants for the Montgomery County Planning Board. One applicant who was selected for an interview—Mohammad Siddique—has since withdrawn his application.

  • 2 p.m. Charles Kauffman
  • 2:30 p.m. Victor Weissberg
  • 3 p.m. Dennis Kamber
  • 3:30 p.m. Natali Fani-Gonzalez 
You can watch the interviews live or on demand on County Cable Montgomery.

Town Hall Meeting for Students

This year we will hold the always-popular Town Hall Meeting for Students on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the Council Office Building in Rockville. The meeting will be held in the Council’s Third Floor Hearing Room beginning at 7 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the building’s second-floor cafeteria. RSVP by calling 240-777-7931. 

The October meeting is open to high school, middle school and local college students. The meeting will allow the participants to let Councilmembers know how they feel about specific issues and also will provide the opportunity to ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting.

The event 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 weeks following the meeting. Susan Kenedy, a producer for the County station, will moderate the meeting.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bill to Help Homeowners' and Condo Associations

I'm pleased to co-sponsor George Leventhal's bill designed to protect the financial and operational viability of the County’s homeowners’ and condominium associations. The bill would condition the issuance of a rental license for a property in a homeowners’ or condominium association on being no more than 30 days past due with the association dues or fees. This would aid the growing number of associations that are already financially distressed due in part to negligent property owners who rent their units but fail to pay their dues. The bill is scheduled for introduction on Tuesday. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for October 14 at 1:30. To register to speak, call 240-777-7803.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Council Will Interview Five for Planning Board

We will interview five applicants for the Planning Board on Tuesday, September 23. Here is the entire press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 16, 2014—The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 23, will interview five applicants for a vacant position on the Montgomery County Planning Board. The position is a four-year term. 

The Council received letters of interest from 25 applicants. The Council selected the following five applicants to interview for the position: Natali Fani-Gonzalez, Dennis Kamber, Charles Kauffman, Mohammad Siddique and Victor Weissberg. 

The interviews will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The times of the interviews will be announced later this week.

The public is invited to attend the interviews, which will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed at:

The interviews will be rebroadcast on Friday, Sept. 26, as part of a rebroadcast of the Council’s activities on Sept. 23, including its morning general session. The rebroadcast will begin at 9 p.m. Friday and will be available before that time on demand.

The resume of each applicant to be interviewed is available as part of the information packet on the interview process. That information can be viewed at:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Watershed Restoration Grants Available

Non-profit organizations, community associations, service and civic groups, and faith-based organizations--apply now for watershed restoration grant funding. Here's the full press release:

Montgomery County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust today announced a new grant program to support watershed restoration and outreach throughout the County. The goal of the Montgomery County Watershed Restoration and Outreach program is to reduce stormwater runoff and pollutants through community-based restoration, including RainScapes practices, as well as to implement projects focused on public involvement through education, outreach and stewardship.

“This innovative program encourages on-the-ground restoration projects as well as outreach and engagement activities that reduce stormflow and pollutants and engage Montgomery County residents,” said Fariba Kassiri, acting director of Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection. “We are pleased to work with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to administer these grants that will help restore and protect the local rivers and streams in the County.”

Non-profit organizations, including local watershed groups, community associations, service and civic groups, and faith-based organizations, are eligible to apply for funding. Grants up to $50,000 are available (with larger awards possible with prior approval), and all projects must take place in Montgomery County, outside the municipalities of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park.

“The Chesapeake Bay Trust administers hundreds of grants each year that engage individuals in projects and programs that support watershed restoration and the improvement of local streams and rivers,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “This partnership is an excellent opportunity to educate local residents about watershed restoration opportunities while also providing valuable resources to implement low impact development stormwater techniques.”

Funding is available for three types of efforts: public outreach and stewardship projects, community-based stormwater runoff and water quality improvement practices, and RainScapes Neighborhood projects. 

Suggested projects include small-scale stormwater practice installations such as those supported through the RainScapes program (including rain gardens, native trees and conservation landscaping); bioretention cells, rain gardens, streamside forest buffers and green roofs; pet waste management and litter prevention and reduction efforts. Before applying, interested persons should contact the Chesapeake Bay Trust to discuss project ideas and partnerships.

“Montgomery County has a responsibility to meet regulatory watershed restoration and water quality improvement goals. However, significant effort is needed from individuals and community-based groups as well, since the amount of privately owned land far exceeds the amount of County-owned land,” said Kassiri. “We look forward to working with Montgomery County residents and the Chesapeake Bay Trust as we all do our part to restore and protect our vital natural resources.”

Applications are due on December 4, 2014 by 5 p.m..

To learn more and review the request for proposals, visit or contact Sadie Drescher at 410-974-2941, x103.

About Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection

The mission of the Department of Environmental Protection is to: 1) Protect and enhance the quality of life in our community through the conservation, preservation, and restoration of our environment, guided by the principles of science, resource management, sustainability, and stewardship. 2) Provide solid waste management services, including recycling, in an environmentally progressive and economically sound manner.

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit, grant-making organization dedicated to improving the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers through environmental education, community outreach, and local watershed restoration. Since 1985, the Trust has awarded $65 million in grants and engaged hundreds of thousands of citizen stewards in projects that have a measurable impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Maryland Treasure the Chesapeake license plate, donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal and state agencies.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remember to Stay Vigilant and Review Signs of Terrorism

As we mark the 13th anniversary of September 11 attacks, Montgomery County asks residents to remain vigilant and review the seven signs of terrorism. Here is the full statement:

September is National Preparedness Month. As we prepare to observe the thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Montgomery County Police Department recommend that community members review the seven signs of terrorism, to help them become more knowledgeable about the types of suspicious behaviors that might precede a terrorist attack. 

At this time, there is no specific intelligence to suggest that a threat to the National Capital Region, and specifically Montgomery County, is imminent during this anniversary. However, our best defense is concerned community members who understand what kinds of persons, things, and situations should be considered suspicious, and then alert police to those concerns.  It is critical for those who live and work in Montgomery County to partner with their law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for suspicious persons, vehicles, and activities in their areas.

The Seven Signs of Terrorism are:

1.  Surveillance: Someone recording or monitoring activities. This could include the use of cameras (cell phone, still or video), note taking, drawing diagrams, annotating on maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices. 

2.  Elicitation/Gathering information: People or organizations attempting to gain information about military operations, capabilities, or people. Elicitation attempts may be made by email, mail, fax, telephone, or in person.

3.  Tests of security: Any attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses.

4.  Acquiring supplies: Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, etc. This also includes acquiring military uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges (or the equipment to manufacture such items) or any other controlled items. Activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow.

5.  Suspicious people: This includes people who don’t seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment or anywhere else.  Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious. 

6.  Trial run/Rehearsal: Putting people into position and moving them around according to their plan without actually committing the terrorist act. This is especially true when planning a kidnapping, but it can also pertain to bombings. An element of this activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the times of traffic lights and flow.

7.  Deploying assets: People and supplies getting into position to commit the act. This is a person’s last chance to alert authorities before a terrorist act occurs. 

Reminders to the public include:  If something just doesn’t seem or feel right, don’t second guess your instincts.  If the suspicious activity of a person is right in front of you, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1.  For those who are in the state of Maryland, and are aware of an on-going situation that seems suspicious, calls can be made to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center at 1-800-492-TIPS (8477).

Remember, “If you See Something, Say Something” to the appropriate authorities.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

County Libraries to Expand Hours

Good news. Beginning Monday, October 5, Montgomery County Public Libraries will be open longer, with added service hours totaling 106 hours, 9.4 percent more than in fiscal year 2014. Sixteen branches will have expanded hours, joining the five branches whose hours were increased in FY13. The expanded hours at the Silver Spring branch will go into effect when the new library opens later in this fiscal year. In addition, four more branches (Aspen Hill, Damascus, Quince Orchard, and White Oak) will be open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. bringing the total number with Sunday hours to 13. Find branches and new hours on the interactive map.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tips on Testifying

When the Council returns next week, we will take up some important topics ranging from budgeting to land use to our local economy. We have public hearings on a variety of issues scheduled nearly every week, and we want to know your views. For newcomers as well as seasoned veterans, here are a few tips to make the most of your testimony:

  • Keep it simple. Put your request or main point at the beginning of your testimony. Use plain language and put technical points at the end.
  • Keep it short. The Council adheres to the three-minute limit, so make sure your points come across in that time frame. You don't have to use the entire allotted time, though. Sometimes good things come in small packages.
  • Bring 15 copies of your testimony with your name, contact information and main points clearly identified.
  • Let your personality shine through. Levity or a personal anecdote can help you stand out in the crowd.
  • Relax. Don't be afraid of the formal setting or the television cameras. Just be yourself.
I understand public speaking isn't for everyone, so you can also call or e-mail. To have your written correspondence included in the public record, send it to or Council President, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. To sign up to speak at a public hearing, call 240-777-7803.