Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Labor Day Holiday Schedule

Here is our holiday schedule for Labor Day on Monday, September 4:
County Offices – closed

Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection.  Collection provided one day later for remainder of the week.  (Last collection is Saturday).  More information available at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sws/holidays/

The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed

Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
Libraries – closed

County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Recreation – Bethesda, Germantown, Western County, Wheaton/Glenmont and MLK outdoor aquatic facilities will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Olney Indoor Swim Center will be open normal hours; all other indoor aquatic facilities, as well as the Long Branch and Upper County outdoor pools, will be closed. Administrative offices, senior centers and community centers are closed.

Montgomery Parks - For operating schedule, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org

Ride On – will operate on a Sunday schedule. Information is available at this link:   http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/holiday_schedules.html.
Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed

State offices and courts – closed 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Council's Statement Regarding President Trump's Comments on Charlottesville

We released the following statement regarding the events surrounding Charlottesville:

Montgomery County Council Statement on President Trump’s Comments on
White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville

Montgomery County has a long history of cultivating a welcoming community filled with acceptance and tolerance for all residents.  We stand together to reject bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia.  We also stand with the people of Charlottesville, Virginia who reject hate in all forms and who were sickened by the August 12 rally of white nationalists who converged on their community.  

Our residents, like others throughout the country, look to our President in these challenging times to speak to and remind all Americans of our highest ideals and our most fundamental values–not to debase them.  It was unconscionable for the President’s first words regarding Charlottesville to emphasize that “many sides” were responsible for what took place there, as though there was a moral equivalency between those there solely to advance hate and division and those there to stand on behalf of our common humanity.  When the President then subsequently doubled down on that sentiment by blaming “both sides”, the President lost all moral authority.  It is unconscionable to equate white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members, neo-Nazis, and other alt-Right white nationalist groups with those who participated in counter-protests.  In so doing, the President has justifiably earned condemnation from most Americans and has only won the praise of the white extremists that he emboldened.  He owes the American people an apology.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, those injured during the counter-protest, and Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who lost their lives serving the people of Virginia.

Total Eclipse in the Park

Experience the total eclipse at this fun event sponsored by Montgomery Parks.

Ready for the solar eclipse? Don’t be left in the dark. Join Montgomery Parks on August 21st for Total Eclipse in the Park – our free “watch” party. We’ve got your eyes covered with free solar eclipse sunglasses (while supplies last). Pack a picnic as well as blankets or chairs, and enjoy the afternoon in the park. There’ll be a dance party, games, giveaways and FUN!

Mon. August 21st, 2017 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park. Click here for more information.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Montgomery County Council Seeks Applicants for Council Administrator

After 26 years of service to seven County Councils as Council Administrator, Steve Farber is retiring in February, 2018. Applications are currently being accepted until September 12. Here's the complete press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., August 14, 2017—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for the position of Council Administrator.  On July 31, Council Administrator Steve Farber announced plans to leave his post in February 2018.  Mr. Farber was first appointed in October 1991 and has served seven Councils. 

The Council Administrator, the principal adviser to the Council, helps develop and implement the Council’s policies and work program, oversees the Council staff, and represents the Council on several County boards, including the investment boards of the County’s retirement plans.

“For the past 26 years, Steve Farber has served the Council and the community with the highest distinction,” said Council President Roger Berliner. “We look forward to appointing a worthy successor.”

Applications will close on September 12.  Details on the application process can be viewed here.
  
For further information, please contact Mary Jane Berry, Administrative Services Coordinator, at MaryJane.Berry@montgomerycountymd.gov.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Montgomery County Council Appeals Circuit Court Ruling Overturning Cosmetic Pesticides Ban

I was disappointed with the recent Circuit Court decision that overruled the ban on certain pesticides in the County, but I am pleased that the Council is appealing this ruling. Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am concerned with the public’s health and welfare, and that all residents, particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides. Here is the full press release on today's action:

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 16, 2017—Today the Montgomery County Council directed the Office of the County Attorney to appeal the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruling that overturned the County’s cosmetic pesticides ban.  The ruling stated, “Maryland’s comprehensive program of pesticide regulation occupies the field of pesticide use and thus impliedly preempts the ordinance.” The court also held that the County’s ban on the application of certain pesticides on private property conflicted with Maryland law.

In October 2015, the Council enacted Bill 52-14, Pesticides - Notice Requirements - Cosmetic Pesticide Use Restrictions, which would have prohibited the use of certain registered pesticides on private property starting on January 1, 2018.   The County is one of the few local jurisdictions to have such restrictions.  The Council enacted this legislation with a focus on pesticides that included chemicals linked to the risk of developing cancer.

Complete Lawn Care, Inc., et al. v. Montgomery County invalidated certain provisions of Bill 52-14 because the Circuit Court found that County regulation of the use of pesticides on private property is preempted by state law.

“Our Council’s legal team advised us that the County would have a reasonable chance of prevailing in an appeal of the Circuit Court’s decision,” said Council President Roger Berliner, who also serves as chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee.  “It is important that the Council is allowed to protect our community from the threat posed by pesticides on private lawns.  Moreover, the broad scope of the court’s decision threatens our existing regulatory regime and other efforts short of a ban, even if the ban itself is ultimately deemed in direct conflict with state law.  We have also been advised that an appeal will not carry significant costs, as the work involved can be absorbed as part of the Office of the County Attorney’s normal workload.  Accordingly, my colleagues and I agree that an appeal is in the public interest.” 


The Annual County Health Rankings for Maryland has recognized Montgomery County as the “Healthiest County in Maryland” for the last four years.  The County is often at the forefront of initiatives that enhance public health like the cosmetic pesticides ban.


“I am delighted that the Council is appealing the Circuit Court ruling on the pesticides ban,” said Councilmember George Leventhal, who was the lead sponsor of Bill 52-14 and serves as chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee.  “Studies have linked numerous chemicals found in lawn pesticides to cancer and other serious health conditions. The Council sits as the Board of Health, but the court has ruled that we are preempted from protecting our residents from this health threat.  This sets a worrisome precedent that should be overturned.”   

County law provides that the Council is, and may act as, the County Board of Health.  In this capacity, the Council may adopt any regulation which a local board of health is authorized to adopt. “With Trump’s EPA protecting the interests of chemical companies instead of our residents, it is more important than ever that local communities take action to ensure that our children are not exposed to hazardous chemicals,” said Council Vice P
resident Hans Riemer.  “This decision takes that right away from us and should be overturned.”

“Too many people believe that because a pesticide is allowed for use by the federal government and by the state, then it must be safe,” said Councilmember Marc Elrich.  “Yet scientists, medical researchers and physicians advocate for great caution when using pesticides.  Pesticide use simply is not necessary on lawns - it is not good for the environment, our children or even our pets. It is important that we appeal this decision.”


“I was disappointed with the recent Circuit Court decision that overruled the ban on certain pesticides in the County, but I am pleased that the Council is appealing this ruling,” said Councilmember Nancy Floreen. “Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am concerned with the public’s health and welfare, and that all residents, particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides.”


“While I was disappointed with the Circuit Court’s ruling, I am pleased that the Council will be appealing this decision,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “I have received hundreds of emails from constituents in just the last few days, and there is nearly unanimous support for an appeal. The County’s leadership with regard to local health and environmental policies has been a great source of pride for our residents. It is important that the Council be able to act in the best interest of County residents by ensuring we maintain our high standards for quality of life.”
 

Enacted
Bill 52-14 can be viewed here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Minimum Wage Impact Study

Hot off the press: here’s the Montgomery County, Maryland Minimum Wage Increase Impact Study.  The report addresses the impact on the county economy and labor market; the impact on the county government; the impact on county businesses; and the socioeconomic impacts. When the Council reconvenes in the fall we will take up Bill 28-17 that would increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020 for many workers in Montgomery County. The current minimum wage is $11.50 per hour, and there are no requirements in law for further increases. In January the Council enacted a minimum wage bill in a vote of 5-4 that was subsequently vetoed by the County Executive. If you would like to weigh in on Bill 28-17, sign up to testify later this month at the public hearing to be held in late September; or send your written comments to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov.