Friday, January 30, 2015

Tonight's Hearing on Independent Transit Authority to be Broadcast Live

The county's delegation to the state legislature is holding a public hearing tonight on state bill HB 104 (similar to county delegation bill MC 24-15), which would allow the County to set up an independent transit authority (ITA). If the bill gets passed, the County Council then would have to enact its own legislation it it wanted to create the ITA. The Council has not taken a position on the state bill. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the County Council Third Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville. You can watch the hearing live on County Cable Montgomery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Local Non-profit Leader Named Washingtonian of the Year

Less than a year after being named a CNN Hero, A Wider Circle founder Mark Bergel has been named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine—one of nine leaders selected for their good works and generous contributions to the Washington area. Founded in 2001, A Wider Circle aims to end poverty one individual and one family at a time through the provision of furniture and household items, job preparedness training, life skills workshops, and long-term support. The Silver Spring-based non-profit provides beds and other furniture for the homes of more than 4,000 families a year with the average income of those families being $12,000 per year, including all forms of assistance. You may remember Mark and A Wider Circle from the award-winning documentary The Unseen Montgomery, which highlighted the hidden poverty in Montgomery County.

Apply Now to the Board of Investment Trustees

Here is the press release with all the information you need about the vacancy on the Board of Investment Trustees:
The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to serve as the Council representative on the Board of Investment Trustees for the Montgomery County Employee Retirement Plans and the Board of Trustees for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefits Trust. The boards set investment policy, hire investment managers and monitor investment performance for the Trust Funds. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18.
Arjan Berkelaar will complete his first term on March 1, and has indicated that he will not be applying for reappointment due to other obligations.
The appointee may not furnish or be employed by a firm that furnishes to pension funds and other institutional investors the kind of investment services purchased by the board. Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time. The Council policy is that an individual must not serve more than two consecutive full terms on any County board, committee or commission. 
The Board of Investment Trustees is responsible for overseeing the investment of approximately $4.5 billion in assets for nearly 11,000 active and retired members of the three retirement plans: defined benefit, defined contribution and deferred compensation. The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the investment program for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefit Trust, which has assets of approximately $450 million.
The Board of Investment Trustees for the Montgomery County Employee Retirement Plans consists of 13 trustees appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. Trustees include the directors of the Office Human Resources, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Finance and the County Council Administrator; two representatives of the County Council; one active member of the retirement plans who is not a member of a collective bargaining unit; one retired member of a County plan; two members of the public; and individuals recommended by each of the three County employee collective bargaining units.
The Board of Trustees for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefits Trust consists of 19 trustees, 13 of whom are members of the Board of Investment Trustees, along with the following additional members: one active employee recommended by the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), one retired member of MCPS, one MCPS bargaining unit representative, one active employee recommended by the Montgomery College (MC) president, one retired member of MC, and one MC bargaining unit representative.  
Trustees serve three-year terms without compensation from any source for services rendered to the boards. The boards meet six times a year from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 1 p.m., usually on Fridays in January, March, May, July, September and November. 
This Council is seeking as its representative on each board a person who is knowledgeable in pensions, investments or financial matters. The Council will recommend one applicant to the County Executive for appointment to serve on both boards. After the Executive appoints the Council representative, the appointee's name will be submitted to the Council for final confirmation. Within 10 days after confirmation, each trustee must sign a certificate stating that the trustee accepts the fiduciary responsibility of the trust funds and will administer the affairs of the trust with care, skill, prudence and diligence. Appointees must complete a financial disclosure statement within 15 days of Council confirmation and annually thereafter. 
Letters expressing interest in the position, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, should be addressed to Council President George Leventhal, County Council Office, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Applications can also be submitted to the Council via email to Letters of interest must be received no later than 5 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 18. 

It is the Council's policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process, and are available for public review. The interviews are conducted in public and are televised. After the closing date, Councilmembers will review the letters of application and select applicants for interviews to be held soon thereafter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Council's Semi-annual Meeting with MBDC Today

Tune in at 2:15 p.m. today for the Council's semi-annual meeting with the Montgomery Business Development Corporation. The board advises the County Executive and the Council on economic development and related matters. Robert Brewer, chair of MBDC's Board of Directors, and Holly Sears Sullivan, MBDC's president, will present an update on MBDC's current efforts related to business retention; marketing and communications; data and research; and career pathways. Don't worry if you can't catch the meeting live; you'll be able to get it on demand starting 24 hours after the meeting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Student Newspaper Reports on Electronic Cigarette Bill

Kudos to the countywide student newspaper, MoCo Student, for the great article on my bill to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes. Since the bill focuses largely on the use of e-cigarettes by minors, I'm glad to see student reporter, Isabelle Zhou, giving the subject this coverage. Ms. Zhou does a great job not only of getting the facts straight but also of including a youth perspective, noting "because e-cigarettes release vapor instead of smoke and leave no smell, it is easier for kids to conceal their use of these products from parents or guardians." Ms. Zhou also accurately reports that there is a public hearing on the bill on January 22. To testify, call 240-777-7803, and yes, we welcome testimony from students.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Holiday Schedule for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Monday, January 19:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – aquatics programs and facilities open; all other classes and programs canceled; Administrative office, senior centers and community centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks -- all Parks facilities are open. For operating schedules, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – Modified holiday schedule
  • Metrobus – Saturday supplemental service
  • Metrorail – Saturday holiday 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).

Tonight's Public Hearing on Pepco Merger to be Televised

Do you want to watch tonight's public hearing by the Maryland Public Service Commission on the proposed merger of Pepco Holdings and Chicago-based Exelon Corporation but don't want to go out in the cold? Good news. County Cable Montgomery will televise the hearing live starting at 6 p.m.

In April 2014, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which owns Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., proposed a $6.8 billion merger with Pepco Holdings, which owns three electric and gas utilities (Pepco, Atlantic City Electric and Delmarva Power). Pepco serves customers in parts of Maryland in the District of Columbia.

The merger was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November, by the Virginia State Corporation Commission in October and by Pepco shareholders in September. However, the proposal still requires approval by the U.S. Department of Justice and public service commissions in Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia and New Jersey.

The Maryland Public Service Commission can eventually approve the proposed merger, reject it or impose conditions.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by both companies' boards of directors.

If you plan to attend in person and would like to speak, you can sign up in the lobby of the Council Office Building prior to the hearing.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Attention Golden Shovel Awardees

Did you receive a Golden Shovel award from me, or did you nominate someone who did? If so, join me, along with County Executive Ike Leggett and Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Sidney Katz for a press event promoting the Safe Sidewalks campaign on Monday, January 5, at 10 a.m. on the front steps of the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville. The Safe Sidewalks campaign is designed to remind residents they are required by law to clear sidewalks in front of, and alongside, their properties within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm. The campaign also asks residents to check up on older adults and vulnerable people who may live nearby and especially those who live alone. E-mail me at if you plan to attend.