Thursday, October 29, 2015

Apply Now for Bethesda Urban Partnership

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 29, 2015—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to fill an expired term on the Bethesda Urban Partnership Board of Directors. Andy O’Hare’s second term has expired and he is ineligible to apply for reappointment. 

Letters of application must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. 

This position is open to applicants who live in a residential community outside of, but adjacent to, the Bethesda Urban District. The Council will recommend three candidates to County Executive Ike Leggett, and he will select one to serve on the board. 

The Bethesda Urban Partnership is responsible for the maintenance of streetscape and streetscape amenities; the promotion and implementation of special events and marketing initiatives; and other similar activities. The board directs all aspects of the Urban District program including management of the contract for the County to run the Transportation Management District (Bethesda Transportation Solutions) and serves the community in the provision of Urban District services. 

The 11-member board includes the following: two members nominated by the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce; three members who are, or represent, owners of an optional method development; one member who is an owner, partner, proprietor or corporate officer of a small business; one member who resides in a residential community within the Bethesda-Chevy Chase planning area and is nominated by the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board; one member who is a resident member of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and is recommended by the board; one residential representative from an adjacent neighborhood who is nominated by the County Council; one member who lives within the Urban District; and one ex-officio, non-voting County Executive representative.

The board currently meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7:45 a.m. Members serve three-year terms without compensation. Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time. 

Applicants should submit letters of interest with a resume to: George Leventhal, President, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Applications also can be submitted via email to . 

Letters of application must be received no later than 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. The names of all applicants are published and resumes made available for public review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Firefighters Wear Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I was pleased to present a County Council Proclamation to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and Local 1664 for their outstanding efforts to raise money and awareness for cancer research and programs.

Through the International Association of Fire Fighters Passionately Pink Campaign, firefighters trade in their traditional on-duty shirts for bright pink ones throughout the month of October. So far, they have raised nearly $15,000 to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Red Devils through sales of the shirts.

One in eight women in the United States (or 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her life, making breast cancer the most common cancer among women except for skin cancer. I salute the firefighters for doing their part to help defeat this terrible disease.

And one more thing—have you had your mammogram this year?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Apply Now to Grants Advisory Group

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 8, 2015—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for positions on its Fiscal Year 2017 Grants Advisory Group. The Council will appoint the volunteer community panel to review grant applications and advise it on proposals received from the non-profit community. Letters of interest from applicants must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9. 

The Council believes that a strong partnership with non-profit organizations is critical in meeting the County’s needs. The Council has established a grants process in which the Council accepts applications from non-profit organizations seeking funds, forwards proposals to the Grants Advisory Group for advice and comments and then makes funding decisions during its spring budget deliberations. 

It is anticipated that the Grants Advisory Group will be appointed in December and will be asked to report to the Council by the end of April 2016. The Council will designate the chair of the advisory group.

Panel members will need to attend training sessions and review relevant materials during late January and February. The applications review process will take place between late February and April 15. 

The Grants Advisory Group will be asked to provide the Council with written comments on each of the grant proposals. The workload will vary based on the number of applications received and panel members appointed; however, it is expected that each member would review approximately 20-25 applications. Panel members should anticipate approximately six to eight meetings between late January and mid-April, with the potential for weekly meetings in March. 

Applicants for the Advisory Group may not be employees of, or members of a board of, a nonprofit group applying for Council grant funding. However, applications will be accepted from members of panels reviewing Community Development Block Grants or Community Service Grants, as well as from other advisory boards or community groups. 

Interested applicants living or working in the County should submit their letter of interest with a resume to: Council President George Leventhal, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850 or via email to

Letters of interest must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9. For more information regarding the Grants Advisory Group, contact the Council Grants Manager at 240-777-7935 or 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CEASE Policy Advocacy Award

I'm honored to be receiving the 2015 Policy Advocacy Award from Communities Engaged in Advocating for Smoke-free Environments (CEASE) for my work to ban electronic cigarette use in places where traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited.

I'll accept the award at the CEASE annual conference this Saturday at Morgan State University in Baltimore. Council President George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, is also named in the award.

I was the lead sponsor of Bill 54-14 that was unanimously approved by the Council in March. The bill prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in public places where traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited. The bill also requires child-resistant packaging for nicotine containers.

Perhaps swayed by the belief that electronic cigarettes are safe, or emboldened by the fact that e-cigarettes have little odor that parents could detect, teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs, putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning or exposure to harmful chemicals. I am not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people. The Council did the right thing by putting these protections in place.

The CEASE Policy Advocacy Award recognizes individuals who have played a major role in developing and/or facilitating the passage of important tobacco-related legislation, regulations or private policies. Recipients of the award may have achieved success by serving in public office, in appointed positions or as advocates for the public’s health.

Electronic cigarettes have a cartridge that holds a liquid solution containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals; a heating device; and a re-chargable battery. Generally, puffing action activates the heating device and vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. There is a concern that e-cigarette use may serve as a gateway or introductory product for youth to try other tobacco products.

CEASE is a collaborative organization that aims to reduce tobacco use and to promote healthy living in Southwest Baltimore. CEASE provides smoking cessation treatment and prevention activities, disseminates data and information and engages in public advocacy. It partners with businesses, faith-based organizations, public schools and recovery organizations to educate, encourage and excite residents to choose healthier ways of living.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Council Approves Restrictions on Pesticides

Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am proud that Montgomery County is taking the lead in protecting public health and welfare in this way. All residents, and particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides. Here is the full press release on today's action:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 6, 2015—The Montgomery County Council today approved amended Bill 52-14 that bans the use of pesticides on County-owned and private lawns, becoming one of the few jurisdictions in the nation to have such restrictions. One of the amendments to the original bill will allow the County’s Department of Parks to continue to use pesticides on playing fields as part of an integrated pest management program and requires the department to develop a plan that would lead to maintaining fields without pesticide use by 2020. The department will conduct a pilot program in the interim period to study the impact of maintaining fields without using pesticides.

Amendments that were approved today were proposed in a memo on Oct. 2 by Council President George Leventhal (the lead sponsor of the original bill) and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer. The amended bill was enacted by a vote of 6-3, with those five and Council Vice President Nancy Floreen in favor. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice were opposed.

Public hearings on the bill were held on Jan. 15 and Feb. 12, with more than 300 attendees at each. More than 300 people attended today’s session.

The enacted bill provides for a phasing of effective dates, with provisions related to County-owned property and County parks taking effect July 1, 2016. Today, on a motion by Council Vice President Floreen, the bill was amended to have provisions related to private property taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018 (rather than the originally proposed Jan. 1, 2017). 

In addition to lawns, the bill also restricts the use of certain pesticides on public and private playgrounds, mulched recreation areas and children’s facilities such as child care centers.  The bill’s restrictions do not apply to gardens. They do not restrict pesticide use for the control of noxious weeds or invasive species, for human health or agricultural purposes or to prevent significant economic damage. 

The memo of Oct. 2 from Council President Leventhal and Councilmembers Elrich, Hucker, Navarro and Riemer offered amendments to recommended changes to the original bill that had been made by a majority of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee on Sept. 17. 

The recommended changes approved by the committee would have eliminated the ban on the use of pesticides on County-owned and private property lawns. T and E Committee members Berliner and Floreen supported the amendments. Councilmember Hucker was opposed. 

In addition to restoring the restriction on the use of certain pesticides on both County-owned and private property, the approved bill substantially clarifies the method of determining which pesticides are subject to the restriction. 

“Today’s action is another step in the ongoing effort to make Montgomery County the healthiest, safest county in the country,” said Council President Leventhal. “Countless studies have linked pesticides to a wide range of health conditions in children and adults and, since the bill was introduced one year ago, I have received hundreds of reports from constituents of children and pets experiencing adverse effects from the application of pesticides.

“Local government can—and should—step in a preventative way to protect the public’s health, even when there is not complete scientific certainty. The science may never be conclusive since it involves complex chemical interactions, but the absence of incontrovertible evidence does not justify inaction.

“I am extremely optimistic about what the passage of this bill will mean for Montgomery County’s economy. Now that this bill has become law and that harmful chemical treatments will be banned, I think it will foster an extraordinarily competitive industry for alternative lawn care options in the County. 

“Property owners have a right to maintain their own property, but they do not have a right to inflict harm upon their neighbors. Residents will still be free to hire any lawn care professional to treat their lawn or to manage their own lawn care, but they can do so now with the confidence that their family will be better protected.”

Council Vice President Floreen said: “Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am proud that Montgomery County is taking the lead in protecting public health and welfare in this way. All residents, and particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides.”

Councilmember Elrich said: “This legislation is an important step toward protecting our public health and environment.  We have an obligation to let the public know that our regulatory agencies’ actions do not keep pace with the multiple recent scientific findings.  In 2015 alone, we have seen important news: glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is classified as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer; a study links pesticides to antibiotic resistance, and, perhaps most important, a study of daughters whose mothers were exposed to DDT 54 years ago shows an almost four-fold increase in breast cancer risk in their daughters.

“DDT was banned in 1972 because it was endangering our national bird, the bald eagle and not because of health impacts on people. If we had waited for the proof that DDT caused cancer, it would have been used for 40 more years, and many more women would have been at increased risk for breast cancer. We lack certainty about the safety of many EPA registered chemicals, and many earlier studies do not begin to assess risk pathways to human health that are widely recognized today. 

“I did not want to look back in 20 years and say that we could have acted.  This bill acts on the precautionary principle, restricting and reducing the use of pesticides and exposure wherever possible.  It does so based on the scientific evidence.  I think as the public understands the science, they will appreciate our action.”

Councilmember Hucker said: "Our first concern cannot be protecting homeowners' right to the cosmetic benefits lawn pesticides promise, especially when there are alternatives. Our first concern has to be protecting public health and the environment."

Councilmember Katz said: “The health and safety of our residents remains my utmost priority, and the Council should rightly do all it can to limit exposure to hazardous chemicals on the properties we maintain. However, I still have many concerns about how we encourage the reduction of chemicals on privately-maintained properties in a responsible, thoughtful, and cost-effective manner. Today’s discussion made it abundantly clear that we don’t have all the answers. We must continue to educate and inform not only the public, but ourselves regarding the implementation of this legislation.” 

Councilmember Navarro said: “I'm proud of the work that Montgomery County has done today in passing this groundbreaking pesticide legislation to restrict the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. I have stood behind this bill from the beginning because I believe that it is the Council's responsibility to work to protect Montgomery County's public health. 

“As this bill is implemented, the education campaign will be key. Educating the public on the intent to reduce major health risks and the effects of these chemicals will be a critical piece of enforcement. This bill will set the national standard for reducing pesticide use and creating a safer and cleaner environment for our communities.”

Councilmember Riemer said: "People need and trust the government to protect them from health risks associated with toxic chemicals. Having reviewed the scientific evidence, I find that there is enough concern to justify restrictions on the application of lawn chemicals. As a parent of two young children, my priority in this legislation is to protect the health of all children in our community. I believe we have done that today."

More details about Bill 52-14 and related amendments are available at: .

Unemployment Rate Drops from Same Period Last Year

According to the Department of Labor, Montgomery County's employment rate in August was only 3.8 percent – down from 4.6 percent last August. Almost 10,000 more County residents had jobs compared to the year before.

Friday, October 2, 2015

One of the Most Decorated Women in U.S. Military History to be a Speaker at Vietnam Veterans Event

We've just learned that retired Air Force Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, who retired after 28 years in the U.S. Air Force as one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history and who was one of the few military women to serve in Vietnam who was not a nurse, will be among the featured speakers on Saturday, Oct. 24, as Montgomery County honors the men and women who served the nation during the Vietnam War. The Honor and Gratitude program will take place at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, starting at 10:30 a.m. Note that although the event is free, registration is required.