Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Child sexually assaulted at Rockville library

Montgomery County police detectives with the Special Victims Investigations Division have said that a 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a man at the Rockville Memorial Library at 21 Maryland Avenue on Saturday, December 15 around 6:00 PM. A suspect in the case has been identified in surveillance camera footage lingering in the childrens' section of the library for thirty minutes prior to the attack.

When he did attack, police say, the suspect allegedly approached the victim, pulled down her pants, and touched her inappropriately. The victim screamed and told her parents what had happened. Detectives describe the suspect as a white male, with a possible thin goatee and a medium build.

Anyone who was in the library on the date this incident occurred and observed any part of this incident or believes he/she may have information pertinent to this investigation is asked to call detectives at 240-773-5448.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wegmans will "walk" if Twinbrook Quarter doesn't break ground in Q1 2020

Mayor and Council
to vote on APFS
school capacity change
January 28

The stakes in a debate over school capacity standards were raised dramatically at a Mayor and Council worksession last night, as one of the developers currently facing a building moratorium declared their prize anchor tenant hangs in the balance. Todd Pearson, a Senior Vice-President with developer B.F. Saul told city leaders that grocer Wegmans will break the lease agreement they have at Saul's Twinbrook Quarter development if ground isn't broken by Q1 2020.

Pearson prefaced his warning by saying, "This is not a threat by any means." But he noted that Wegmans is "the most highly-coveted retail tenant in the country," and has no shortage of suitors for their stores. Time is literally of the essence in regards to both the firm deadline, and the impatience of the Rochester-based grocery chain.

Wegmans chose the Twinbrook Quarter site, located at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, because they had lost patience with Lerner's White Flint Mall redevelopment. When it was clear that Lerner was set on a protracted legal fight, Pearson said, Wegmans decided to go with B.F. Saul up the road. But if they don't get the time advantage they sought with a Q1 2020 start, "Wegmans walks from the lease," Pearson warned.

Pearson also outlined the laundry list of items that must be achieved in the next year to facilitate a Q1 2020 groundbreaking, including approval of its delayed Project Plan and Site Plan by the Planning Commission, and utility cutoffs and receipt of the necessary permits from the City. Any delay beyond the end of January for the school capacity decision could potentially deep-six the already-tight schedule, Pearson said. "Unfortunately, that timeline has shortened," Pearson told the Mayor and Council. "We are highly concerned."

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton expressed hope that a longer deliberation on the controversial topic of school overcrowding could be held, with the City streamlining the approval process for the project afterword. City staff confirmed that the Planning Commission could begin its approval process in January, but commissioners would not be able to vote on it without a vote by the Mayor and Council to loosen the school capacity standard.

Officials held an extensive debate on how to move forward. Newton asked Montgomery County Public Schools' Director of Capital Planning Adrienne Karamihas if the City would actually get a new addition or new high school if it loosens its overcrowding maximum from 120% to 150%. "I can't answer that question that way," Karamihas replied. Any new school would be unlikely to come online before the mid-2020s, she speculated.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala argued that the B.F. Saul project and two others in the Town Center area would not put Richard Montgomery at 150% by themselves. Councilmember Beryl Feinberg countered that several projects west of I-270 will also feed into Richard Montgomery, and must be taken into account. In the short term, however, any students generated by the initial phases of the Twinbrook Quarter project will be assigned to the Walter Johnson cluster in Bethesda.

Newton expressed frustration at the framing of a "Wegmans versus education issue," and that she and the Council were not alerted to a letter from B.F. Saul sent to City staff last January regarding this very matter. Had they known then, she said, a more deliberate process could have been undertaken without threatening the Wegmans deadline. "I'm trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," Newton said. Options she would like to examine before voting to change the APFS on school capacity include whether a new high school upcounty or planned redistricting would provide the capacity needed for the Twinbrook Quarter project.

The Mayor and Council, after consulting with B.F. Saul on their timeline, ultimately decided to extend the decision period until January 28. A January 7 public hearing on the APFS question was canceled, and rescheduled for January 14. The final vote will be held at the January 28 meeting. Residents and civic association leaders from the West End, East Rockville and Twinbrook addressed the Mayor and Council during the Community Forum earlier in the meeting, and the vast majority opposed loosening school overcrowding standards.

"What does Rockville stand for, and who is running the city?" asked resident Jack Gelin, who exhorted the Mayor and Council to "gain control of the city" back from whoever is driving the growth debate now. "Are we going to go from 'bad' to 'even worse'?" one parent of Richard Montgomery cluster students asked.

Pressure from the other side is equally strong, as City officials attempt to deliver Twinbrook Quarter, which they have designated a "champion project." Most of the excitement about that project among the general public has been about the Wegmans. "Without school capacity, we can't move forward," Pearson said Monday night.

Monday, December 17, 2018

MoCo cartel ramming through bill to make it harder for GOP, progressive Democrats to run for County Council

Cartel Democrats
take page out of
playbook to 
favor incumbents

The citizens of Montgomery County haven't asked Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14) to make it harder for Republicans and progressive Democrats to run for the County Council. But cartel Democrats who swept the Council elections in November - and want to hold those seats for the next twelve years - have. As have their developer sugar daddies, who are still stinging from the only race they lost out of dozens, County Executive. Luedtke has quietly filed Bill MC 6-19 in Annapolis, which would require everyone seeking to run for the Council to collect 1000 signatures if running At-Large, or 250 signatures if running for the less-contested district seats. 

Such a change would strongly favor incumbent cartel Democrats, who don't want to have to compete in a large field with progressive Democrats not beholden to developers in 2022. And the cartel doesn't want truly progressive County Executive Marc Elrich to gain any allies on the Council in 2022, either. The change would also impact Republican candidates as well. Both progressive Democrat and GOP candidates would be discouraged from running for office, the clear intent of the legislation.

The Luedtke bill goes strongly against the tide of his own party's stance on voting rights. While the trend outside of red states has been to make it easier to participate in the electoral process, Luedtke and the bill's backers actually want to make it tremendously more difficult for the average citizen to participate.

In fact, Bill MC 6-19 would implement a throwback barrier to candidacy that has been used in other states to discourage African-Americans from running for office - a fake requirement of the free time and financial resources needed to collect 1000 signatures. Is this the Democratic Party in Montgomery County in 2018?

Nancy Floreen is the prime example of why Luedtke and the cartel are trying to ram this bill through. Floreen, enjoying nearly $1 million in developer cash donations, was able to obtain thousands of signatures to qualify as an unaffiliated candidate for County Executive in 2018. She did not collect them herself; she hired signature collectors to storm the County. 

So, too, would the Council incumbents - and cartel-funded newcomers - be able to quickly get their 1000 signatures, without ever breaking a sweat themselves. Republicans and progressive Democrats? Not so much. 

This is an outrageous attempt to limit the ability to run for public office to only the well-funded and well-connected, and to the sugar daddies who pull their puppet strings. It must be stopped.

Contact your delegate by email or phone today, and tell them to vote against Bill MC 6-19 .

Friday, December 14, 2018

5.11 Tactical opens in Rockville

5.11 Tactical is now open at 12212 Rockville Pike. Carrying professional apparel and accessories for law enforcement personnel and preppers, they also cater to the fitness and outdoors market segments. With Montgomery County's crime rate surging, this could be a one stop shop for your Christmas list.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mayor & Council to hold two closed sessions next week

Rockville's Mayor and Council will go into closed session twice next week. On Monday, December 17 at 6:00 PM, they will adjourn into a session closed to the public to "consult with counsel to obtain
legal advice and to consult with staff, consultants, or other individuals about pending or potential litigation."

Then, during a special meeting at 10:30 AM on Thursday, December 20, they will adjourn to a closed session regarding "a matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the City."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Rockville gas station robbed

Montgomery County police are searching for a suspect they say robbed a gas station in Rockville on December 5, and have released surveillance footage of the man. Detectives allege the man entered the convenience store at the Exxon station located at 5500 Norbeck Road around 12:10 AM. They say he implied he had a gun, and demanded cash.

The suspect allegedly then took the cash, grabbed some other merchandise, and then fled the scene. Anyone with information regarding the suspect or this robbery is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Performance Bicycle Shop closing in Rockville

The "Everything Must Go!" and "Nothing held back!" going-out-of-business signs that have become so ubiquitous in moribund Montgomery County have popped up at Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. Performance Bicycle Shop is the latest victim. The store is holding a closing sale with prices up to 40% off. Montgomery County has suffered a net loss of more than 2100 retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association.