Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Transition of Two Council Seats

In the final session of the 17th Council we said farewell to the shortest-term and longest-term members of the County Council--Cherri Branson and Phil Andrews, each of whom did not seek re-election to their seats.

We are extremely grateful to Cherri Branson for her willingness to serve District 5 when the need arose. Although her term lasted only one year, she made a huge contribution to the County and represented her constituents admirably.

Phil Andrews, who represents District 3 and concluded his 16th year on the Council, has been a strong and thoughtful leader respected by all. He is been best knows for his unflappable style and his ability to listen carefully to all viewpoints. He has been a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, and Montgomery County has been lucky to have him in public service for four terms.

Newly elected Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Sidney Katz will join us right after their inauguration on December 1. Both have extensive experience in elected office, and I look forward to working with them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bill to Regulate Electronic Cigarettes

This week I introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in public spaces where traditional cigarette use is prohibited, including public buildings and restaurants.

The bill also would prohibit use of electronic cigarettes by minors (ages 18 and under) and would require child-resistant packaging for electronic cigarettes.

The use of electronic cigarettes, commonly called “vaping,” has grown dramatically since the product’s introduction in 2007. The practice has become so commonplace that the Oxford Dictionary selected the word “vape” as its 2014 “Word of the Year.” Although electronic cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, they do contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Children and teens are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction.

As elected officials, we at the County Council are stewards for public health. We know that teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs, putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction and nicotine poisoning, as well as potentially graduating to harmful tobacco products. It is our responsibility to put some protections in place.

Twenty-four states, including Maryland, prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Municipalities including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago also have enacted restrictions. While the Food and Drug Administration is currently considering regulations to address electronic cigarettes, it is not clear when those regulations would be finalized or take effect.

A public hearing on the bill is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on January 22. To sign up to testify, call 240-777-7803. You can also send you testimony to

Monday, November 24, 2014

Inauguration for Local Elected Officials December 1

County Executive Ike Leggett and nine Councilmembers – two of them newly-elected – will take the oath of office for four-year terms at a ceremony taking place at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville next Monday, December 1. The event will begin at 11:15 a.m. and is free and open to the public. It will be videostreamed live via and broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 for Comcast and RCN customers, Channel 30 for Verizon subscribers).

The swearing-in will be preceded by an Inaugural Inter-Faith Prayer Service at 8:45 a.m. on Monday at the Rockville United Church, 355 Linthicum Avenue in Rockville. It is also free and open to the public. Shuttles will return from the service to Richard Montgomery High School.

The Master of Ceremonies for the inaugural event will be journalist Derek McGinty.
Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice, Hans Riemer and I will be sworn into office by Clerk of the Circuit Court Barbara Meiklejohn.

County Executive Ike Leggett will be sworn in to his third term as County Executive by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus.

Council President Craig Rice and County Executive Leggett will deliver remarks.

Parking will not be available at Richard Montgomery High School itself (with the exception of disabled accessible). Parking will be available at the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave.; the Board of Education, 850 Hungerford Drive; and at the Sandy Spring Bank and Marlo Furniture parking lots on Rockville Pike near the school. Shuttle buses will run from the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street; the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue; and the Board of Education, 850 Hungerford Drive. They will run every 15 minutes starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 12:45 p.m.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving

Here's our holiday schedule for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 27:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – all programs and facilities are closed
  • Montgomery Parks -- all Parks facilities are closed on Thursday. For operating schedules on Friday, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • 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 and courts – closed
*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nonprofits: Important Information about Council Grants

Nonprofit organizations: get ready to apply for this year's council grants. Here is the Council President's message, including key dates:

Dear Community Partner:

The Montgomery County Council believes that a strong partnership with nonprofit organizations is critical to meeting the needs of our residents.  As in previous years, the Council will have a formal application process for nonprofit organizations that wish to request Fiscal Year 2016 grant funding.  As part of this process, the County Council will appoint a volunteer community Grants Advisory Group to review and evaluate applications. 

The Council will accept applications for programs and projects that advance the County’s services, goals, and objectives in areas such as health and human services, economic development, education, and recreation.  As in recent years, the Council is particularly interested in proposals that provide emergency and other assistance to the neediest members of our community.

Our nonprofits know all too well that Montgomery County was not spared from the recent deep recession, and that as a direct result there continues to be more poverty, hunger, and homelessness in our county.   While the County Council is committed to supporting the many valuable services your organizations provide to our residents, our local government also continues to face significant fiscal challenges.  In this coming year, we will again face rising needs with limited revenues.  

With regard to the actual grants process, we are pleased to announce that this year, the county implemented a new online One-Stop Grants Portal to manage the submission and review of both County Council and County Executive Grants.  As a result, you must now submit applications for both grants programs through the new online process.  Please note that for FY 2016, the Council and County Executive will be accepting applications only through its new online grants portal, which you can access at:  For future reference, you may access the application portal by clicking the Grants icon located at the bottom of the Council Home Page.

Important dates to remember:

  • December 4, 2014 -- Grants Workshops
     o   1:30 at the East County Regional Services Center
          3300 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring,  or
     o   7:00 p.m. in the 3rd floor Council Hearing Room of the Council Office Building
          100 Maryland Ave., Rockville   
           The content will be the same at both workshops.  Each will cover the grants process for both
           Council and County Executive Grants and provide a brief introduction to the new application
           process.  We strongly encourage you to send a representative to one of the workshops.

  • January 13, 2015 -- Application Deadline
    Please note that no applications will be accepted after that date.
  •  February/March -- The Grants Advisory Group will review and evaluate applications.
  •  April 24, 2015 -- the Grants Advisory Group is scheduled to issue its report.
  • Mid-Late May -- the County Council will make funding decisions as part of the FY2016 Operating Budget.  Proposals that are selected for funding will be effective after July 1, 2015.
  • Funds will become available approximately 60-120 days after July 1, 2015, after execution of a required contract with the Montgomery County Government that includes reporting and other requirements.  The grant application provides further details.
If you have questions, please contact Joan Schaffer, Council Grants Manager, at or 240-777-7935.  For your information, the Council web site has a section on Council Grant Information at:

Thank you for the contributions you and others in the nonprofit community make to a better future for all our residents.  


Craig Rice
Council President

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Can Montgomery County be a Hunger Free Zone?

As we approach Thanksgiving, we are reminded that hunger remains a problem for many of our residents. Here are some startling facts about hunger right here in Montgomery County:

  • 51,842 children in Montgomery County live in food insecure households, uncertain where their next meal is coming from.
  • More than one in three Montgomery County Public School students qualify for Free and Reduced Meals. That totals more students than there are enrolled in the DC Public School system.
  • 8,060 County seniors live below the poverty line--up 29.5 percent from 2009--and that number is expected to continue to increase.
Learn more about hunger in Montgomery County and how you can help.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Holiday Schedule for Veterans Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Veterans Day on Tuesday, November 11:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – open regular hours
  • Recreation – aquatic and community centers are open as scheduled. Classes and programs will meet as scheduled. All other classes, administrative offices, senior centers and all senior programs will be closed.
  • Montgomery Parks – for holiday operating schedule on Parks’ facilities, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – Special modified holiday schedule (, click on “Holidays” to see specific schedules
  • Metrobus – Saturday schedule with supplemental service
  • Metrorail – Saturday holiday schedule
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – open
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – open
  • State offices & courts – closed 
*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Live, Local Election Coverage Tonight

Get live, local election coverage on any of the six stations that are members in the Montgomery County PEG (Public / Education / Government) organization of community cable stations tonight starting at 9 p.m. See coverage of races you won't get anywhere else, including county government, the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly, governor and other statewide races. The stations will broadcast live throughout the evening, immediately posting results made available by the County’s Board of Elections.

Election night 2014 coverage will be simulcast by:

  • County Cable Montgomery (CCM: Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon)
  • Montgomery Community Media (Channel 21 on Comcast, RCN and Verizon)
  • Montgomery County Public Schools Television (MCPS TV: Channel 34 on Comcast; Channel 89 on RCN; Channel 36 on Verizon)
  • Montgomery College TV (MCTV: Channel 10 on Comcast, RCN and Verizon)
  • Rockville 11 (Rockville 11: Channel 11 on Comcast, RCN and Verizon)
  • Takoma Park City TV (Takoma City TV: Channel 13 on Comcast; Channel 13 on RCN; Channel 28 on Verizon)
Internet streaming video coverage of the broadcast will be available at:
The polls are scheduled to close at 8 p.m. tonight. Election night television coverage will begin at 9 p.m. and will continue through 11 p.m. A special election focus show will be broadcast from 8:30-9 p.m. Results of early voting—held from Oct. 23-30—are expected to be available at approximately 8:30 p.m. After the show ends at 11 p.m., results will continue to be updated and broadcast on CCM. Those results will run overnight and into the morning hours, with morning updates.

The show will include a variety of political insiders looking at the chief issues voters had to consider and analyzing results as they come in. Guests scheduled include current County Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Cherri Branson, both of whom are not seeking election; former County Councilmember Mike Knapp; Gaithersburg City Councilmember Ryan Spiegel; Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin; Casey Aiken, host of the 21 this Week political talk show on MCM; Charles Duffy, host of Political Pulse on the Montgomery Municipal Channel; long-time political insiders Steve Simon and David Dublin; local blogger Dan Reed, author of Just Up the Pike; and Marilyn Balcombe, president/CEO, of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.

Sonya Burke and Susan Kenedy will anchor the two hours of studio coverage. Lorna Virgili and Michael Bruen will provide live on-the-scene coverage from various locations around the County. In addition, there will be live phone conversations with many of the candidates throughout the show.

The results will focus on election results in races for County Executive, the County Council and the County delegation to the State House of Delegates and the State Senate. Results also will be included in the election for Montgomery Board of Education, Governor, state attorney general and for the three Congressional districts that represent Montgomery County.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Election Results to be Posted Online

Visit the Board of Elections' website for election results beginning right after the polls close on on November 4. Votes cast during early voting will be counted on election day and released shortly after 8:00 p.m. Results from election day will be available beginning at 9:20 p.m. and will be updated every 20 minutes.