Thursday, May 30, 2013


Now I've tested the second of the 3 new McDonald's Quarter Pounders, the Deluxe Quarter Pounder. Watch my exclusive review of this new burger at the Golden Arches, just in time for summer.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


McDonald's 3 new Quarter Pounders are now on sale, and will expand all over America in the coming weeks. They replace the Angus Burger, which was a 1/3 pound hamburger.

I got a Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder, and posted my review of it. It has Habanero Ranch sauce, whole-leaf lettuce, tomato slice, bacon and white cheddar cheese.

The other 2 new Quarter Pounders are downsized versions of the 1/3-pound Angus Burgers they replace, Bacon & Cheese, and Deluxe. Habanero is the only new sandwich concept.

Fans of the classic Quarter Pounder, fear not: it's still on the menu.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


A limited-time, Latin-flavored milkshake is arriving at local McDonald's restaurants.

Last night, I tested it out. Here's my review.

I got a small size for $2.19. It has vanilla ice cream, Dulce de Leche caramel sauce, whipped cream and a cherry on top.

The milkshake will be available through the end of summer, and roll out nationwide by June 10.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Last night, I headed out amidst the monsoon conditions to Taco Bell in Rockville, to get a Beefy Crunch Burrito, which went on sale yesterday. This is the first time I've had it, and here is my review.

The burrito is stuffed with seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, reduced fat sour cream, rice, and Flamin' Hot Fritos, which provide the namesake crunch.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Burger King is challenging McDonald's in the boneless rib sandwich market.  How does the Burger King Rib Sandwich stack up to the McRib? Watch my review to find out!

The BK Rib Sandwich features a flame-broiled boneless pork patty, sweet pickles, a bakery-style bun, and plenty of special recipe BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


To celebrate almost 30 new additions to the food and cocktail menus, Bar Louie in Rockville Town Square has a special promotion today, May 22.

Buy any new food item on the menu, and you'll get a second food item FREE!

This offer is good all day today at Bar Louie.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Rockville Councilmember Bridget Newton asked city staff to put Redgate Golf Course on an upcoming agenda at last night's Mayor & Council meeting.

Newton said Billy Casper Golf, the course's manager, had promised to deliver an annual report to the council. BCG has had control of the course for about a year and a half, Newton noted, and she asked why there has been no report. Expect this to come up at some point before the August recess.

All has been quiet on the Redgate front for some time, but it remains one of the biggest "hot button" issues in Rockville. Is the course a worthwhile investment as a unique amenity open to all? Or is it just money down the 18th hole, and should be sold for development purposes? There are citizens on each side of that argument, making for contentious debates at public meetings. Given that BCG's takeover of the course has been considered a last resort measure, there will obviously be great interest in a status report.

Few words portend nasty debate in Rockville more than "Redgate," which ranks right up there with "once-a-week trash," and "Saul Ewing report" in civil discourse.

In other Redgate news, the course has launched a new program where players can buy a membership that gives them access to 7 other area golf courses, in addition to Redgate.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Minutes ago, Rockville City Councilmember John Hall announced he will not seek reelection this fall.

In an emotional speech, Hall thanked his family, supporters, residents and city staff for the opportunity to serve the public. Hall said every one of his colleagues on the council has the city's "best interests" at heart, even if they disagree on certain issues.

Hall encouraged fellow citizens to rise to the occasion, and run for the city council. There is still time to file for office.

He mentioned the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) specifically, when discussing the issues he looks forward to addressing in the remainder of his term.

One suspects this announcement will increase public interest in the plans of former councilmember Anne Robbins for the election. Robbins has been expected to run this year.

With Hall out, the balance of the council could shift on one seat. A Phyllis Marcuccio-Bridget Newton-Anne Robbins trifecta would continue a 3-2 bloc against accelerated development across the city.

The Team Rockville slate favors a more aggressive approach to development, and has 5 members.

That equation could encourage one or more city activists to enter the race, now that Hall has bowed out.


Changes to the Citizens Forum at Rockville Mayor & Council meetings are on the agenda at tonight's Mayor & Council meeting at City Hall.

Possible changes include the ability of citizens to utilize a new document camera, to enhance their presentation.

They also could include a step towards restoration of dialogue during Citizens Forum, setting time limits on council questions and citizen answers. This would replace the recent policy of the council not engaging the speaker directly, but commenting during a formal response time when all citizens have completed their testimony.

This would be an improvement, as the current format allows councilmembers to slam a citizen after his or her remarks, but does not provide that citizen the opportunity to rebut the accuracy of the official's statements.

Other changes include putting the 3-minute time limit in the policy, allowing the mayor to remove disruptive citizens and encouraging citizens to submit written testimony.

Of course, written testimony is always preferred by politicians, as the live, public setting of Citizens Forum draws more attention, and can bring out other citizens who would otherwise be unaware of an issue. Best to keep such controversies "off-line."

But that defeats the whole purpose of Citizens Forum. Just as the current ban on back-and-forth dialogue reduces accountability, and puts the citizen at a disadvantage, with elected officials guaranteed to get the last word.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Chicken Out on Rockville Pike has permanently closed. Yesterday, potential customers who pulled up as these photos were being taken were shocked to hear the news. "It's closed? When did this happen?"

Apparently, a new Chicken Out is opening in a few weeks at 15780 Shady Grove Road (which is not really Rockville, but Gaithersburg).

I prefer KFC for chicken, and Rockville is about to get a Chick-fil-A (see my post from a few days ago). But my favorite at Chicken Out was the Double Drumstick meal.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Apparently, some opponents of the proposed Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit system are big fans of American Idol and/or The Office.

The ratio of BRT fans to opponents was much closer at last night's Montgomery County Planning Board public hearing in Silver Spring than it was at the first public hearing last summer.  This time around, developer-backed groups turned out more speakers than last July, when opponents dominated the debate.  The meeting was certainly poorly advertised.

But the arguments remained the same.

Proponents, and certainly, developers, want the development BRT will allow, and the pain it will cause drivers.

One problem is, the type of community they want Montgomery County to be is not necessarily what a majority of taxpaying residents want. The idea that a small faction can impose itself on the majority, and in a winner-take-all fashion, is simply contradictory to not only the founding principles of America, but to reality itself.

In my testimony, I urged the Planning Board to put the Transit Corridors Master Plan in the context of the county as a whole. They are the county planning body, not the White Flint planning commission.

And we have to run the numbers - the real-world numbers.

With limited transportation money, and an indefinite structural budget deficit, we can't afford to waste money on a bus system that will worsen congestion.

For example, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' American Legion Bridge study showed that 23% of Maryland drivers using the bridge are headed to the Dulles area.

What that means in real terms, is that a new Potomac River bridge via the unbuilt Rockville Freeway or I-370 would reduce Legion bridge traffic by nearly a quarter. BRT proponents' most Fantasy Island projection of congestion relief, by contrast is 15%. The contrast speaks for itself, especially when the BRT system under discussion will cost $5 billion.

But let's examine that BRT traffic "relief" using real numbers, not Planner Larry Cole's fantasy numbers.

Rockville Pike is currently 70% over capacity.

The draft plan takes 2 lanes from the Pike, reducing vehicular capacity by 33%.

Okay, now we're 103% over capacity.

Now, pretend that the wildest, most fantastical BRT projection came true, just for the sake of argument: Under that dreamy scenario, 15% of drivers "get out of their cars" and start commuting by bus.

That brings us down to 88% over capacity on Rockville Pike.

So, we've spent $5 billion, and increased road rage, and pollution through idling car engines, and...

...traffic is now 18% worse than if we had done nothing!

Does this make sense to you?

Anyway, the majority of turnout last night was from Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Silver Spring.

Civic associations from Woodmor-Pinecrest, Locust Hill, Bethesda Crest, Chevy Chase West, and Chevy Chase Valley expressed serious reservations about the plan as drafted.

The Montgomery County Sierra Club, the City of Takoma Park, Indian Spring Civic Association, Hillandale Civic Association and Greater Colesville Civic Association were in favor of the BRT plan.

Michelle Riley of the Woodmor-Pinecrest association said her neighborhood will be the most-affected residential area in the county, if BRT goes forward. Riley said the system makes little sense for Woodmor, as the major traffic is related to the Beltway, not the routes targeted for BRT.  She also warned of property seizures below New Hampshire Avenue.

Locust Hill and Chevy Chase West shared concerns about losing already-limited neighborhood access due to BRT lanes and turn restrictions.

The Bethesda Crest HOA noted that BRT would eliminate an existing Forest Conservation Area along their community.

While Tony Hausner of Indian Spring supports BRT, one position I do share with him is that zoning along BRT routes should not be changed. Of course, such protection will never be extended to existing residents, as redevelopment of the Georgetown Square and Wildwood Shopping Center are just two of the secret developer objectives with BRT. The others, of course, are to build cities in the country at Science City and Olney, as well as Burtonsville.

There were some 1984-esque arguments made by the Sierra Club. First, that BRT will reduce emissions. That is patently false. BRT could well be powered by fossil fuels. No one has committed to clean fuel buses.  Secondly, it is a scientific fact that traffic jams actually increase smog and vehicle emissions. BRT will worsen congestion by 18-33%, at a minimum. Meaning up to 33% greater pollution in Montgomery County.

They also repeated Rollin Stanley's old line, "They're coming." This refers to armies of new residents who are en route to live in Montgomery County in the coming decades. This is complete bunk as well.

Our population can only grow as much as our Planning Board and County Council allow it to. We have absolute control over our own destiny - and density - despite the theatrically-panicked claims of developer-backed politicians and citizens.

Finally, the Sierra Club parroted a popular developer talking point: "More young people are not using cars. They prefer high-tech."

Yeah. Okay.

As this plays out in hipster urbanization journals, kids are forgoing cars so they can have iPhones instead.

I'm assuming the Sierra Club hasn't seen the "Cars of GW" slideshow that went viral online. For a less elite example, visit the Montgomery College parking lot in Rockville at 11:00 AM. I rest my case.

Oh,  and those coveted smartphones the kids are "saving up" for? Anyone who has attended a movie recently knows that parents buy these phones for kids long before they can even get a license.

And I'd like the anti-car elites to tell us if their $70000-to-start jobs have "must have own transportation" as a requirement in the job announcement?

Get out in the real world with working people and find out what it's like, and why cars are often a necessity. There's a reason why a Baltimore non-profit gives low-income single moms cars so they don't have to use transit anymore. Time and access to more employment opportunities equals more income.

I was glad to see Debra Alfarone of WUSA9 covering the hearing last night. This story has been under-the-radar too long.

One sentence of my testimony ended up in the 11:00 news report.  In light of the need to move over a million people in Montgomery County, and the anti-car arrogance of the draft BRT corridor plan, I said "an anti-car attitude at this point is counterproductive."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This site on 355, across from Rockville Town Square, was once expected to become a fast food restaurant. Unfortunately, it will now be a PNC Bank.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


A new, stand-alone Chick-fil-A restaurant is under construction in the parking lot of the Montrose Crossing shopping center. It is near Old Navy and Timpano's. There is an existing Chick-fil-A location nearby in Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The Rockville Mayor and Council initiated what could be a long and contentious discussion on what revisions - if any - should be made to the city's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) last night.

So far, the legislators were diplomatic in tone, despite taking opposing positions. For engaged citizens, the most intriguing councilmember to watch in this controversy will be John Hall. Given that Hall owes much of his electoral success to his work on the APFO and citizens who support it, most assumed he would be part of a 3-vote bloc (along with Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Bridget Newton) to rebuff any watering down of the regulations.

But some votes Hall has cast on housing and development during his latest term have puzzled his supporters. One resident who supports the APFO expressed concerns that Hall has gone "wobbly" on the responsible-development approach that won him the seat.  And some suspect Hall may attempt a Grand Compromise on the APFO before the summer is over.

If that is Hall's intention, he was not laying his cards on the table Monday evening.

Hall's primary concession, as councilmembers laid out their individual priorities on the APFO, was to allow that the city probably cannot control its destiny regarding school overcrowding. He suggested the council "move beyond that particular revision." Hall argued that the revisions should "ensure the APFS is entirely consistent with the APFO" to avoid legal action against the city.

He also suggested that "annexation development is no different from other development in the context of the APFO."  If Hall has any compromises in store, he was playing them close to the vest last night.

Mayoral candidate and councilmember Mark Pierzchala took a different tack. "I would just dump the APFO," he began frankly.

Favoring a more muscular approach to development, Pierzchala called the regulations "problematic," citing the recent
"traumatic experience" of the state attempting to reduce the city's role in planning decisions.

The city should at least make its APFO in line with the county's, Pierzchala argued. Supporters of the APFO have said they feel the city's APFO offers greater protection to residents than the county's.

But in Pierzchala's view, the ultimate problem with the APFO is that "we're trying to solve a political problem with a policy solution."

Current Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio cited the high stakes and substantial work ahead on an issue that will shape the city no matter which side prevails. "We have a big, big meal to feast on here tonight, she said.  Rockville is buffeted by "incredible pressure [for] development and redevelopment," and declared there "has to be some plan of action."

If Rockville doesn't "ensure the infrastructure can support" future growth, the "survival of the city as a good place to live" will be in question, she argued.

Marcuccio warned that, without an adequate APFO, property owners will "build it to the max. That changes the quality of the city." The city cannot "let them do whatever they please" and remain the attractive community with superior amenities it is today.

"If the goal is only to allow for more development, then we have lost our way...driven by dollars," the Mayor said.

She later added that traffic and transportation are the "dominating" issues facing Rockville, particularly with the growth in Science City.

Councilmember Newton concurred with Marcuccio's sentiments. While the city must take the county's positions into account, "good for us is not always good for the county," Newton said.

Citing calls for more bars and liquor at the county level, Newton argued "we have nightlife" already in Rockville.

Newton listed her goals as adding "additional tools" to facilitate  "development we want to see,"
establishment of a "Village Green" similar to Gaithersburg, "get a better handle" on Montgomery County Public Schools' notoriously off-target enrollment projection methods, and, above all, to
"leave Rockville better than when we started."

Newton and Marcuccio strongly disputed claims that children won't live in the many apartment buildings projected to be built in the city over the next decade.

Councilmember Tom Moore expressed concern that, under the current APFO, "we do not have the power to do a waiver" for school requirements even if the city feels it is an exceptionally good project.

Rather than focus on goals for the APFO, Moore suggested the council ask itself, "What goals do we have for the city?"

The council will likely take up the matter in greater depth at its July 1 meeting. A public hearing would follow. However, any APFO changes must go to the city's planning commission first.

Friday, May 10, 2013


The Honorable David Cahoon, a Chief Administrative Judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit Court of Montgomery County, and volunteer in the City of Rockville, passed away last Sunday.

Friends will be received tonight, May 10, from 5-8 PM, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 520 Veirs Mill Road, in Rockville.

His funeral will be at the church Saturday, May 11, at 11:00 AM. He will be buried in the cemetery at St. Mary's.

A couple of anecdotes:

I did not know Judge Cahoon, but was aware of his contributions to the community.

A number of years ago, Judge Cahoon was asked to serve on the Rockville Charter Review Commission. Changes regarding city elections were on the agenda. Another Rockville resident known for being active in the community, the late Carl Henn, testified in favor of allowing convicted felons to vote.

When Henn finished, Judge Cahoon said, "I've got some advice for your felon. Tell him to get a commutation from the Governor." It was said in the voice of an experienced veteran of the justice system.

Finally, a few years later, in 2006, I met Judge Cahoon in person when I was running for public office.

I was handing out flyers at a candidate forum at St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church in Bethesda.  Judge Cahoon attended the forum, and took one of my flyers on the way out.  He stopped to talk for quite a while, and encouraged me to continue to volunteer for public service. I certainly appreciated him taking his time to support and encourage younger people running for office. It was quite a contrast to the ugly, cynical discouragement doled out by county business "leaders," many current elected officials, and the local press.

After that, I have always thought highly of Judge Cahoon. He will be missed, but I'm sure his efforts and service to the community will continue to impact Rockville and the county for many years.


A new smoothie has arrived at  McDonald's. Now I've posted my review.

The Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie is pretty much what it sounds like: blueberries and pomegranate pureed and crushed with ice in a blender. It is a healthier alternative to soda and milkshakes, so you could probably make a meal with this and a grilled chicken salad.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Can a Cuban sandwich be converted into a Hot Pocket? We're about to find out in this video on the Robert Dyer Channel.

The Hot Pockets Limited Edition Cuban Style sandwiches feature sliced pork, diced ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese and a mustard sauce, wrapped in soft bread.

They heat in the microwave in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013


Enjoy the arts festival, live music, and your favorite bars and restaurants at Rockville Town Square Saturday and Sunday:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Here's a sign summer isn't far away:

Tonight is the first night soft shell crabs are being served this year at Amalfi Ristorante in Rockville.

The restaurant says they should have them through the weekend, but they can go fast.

You can always call ahead to reserve a plate, just in case.

12307 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville.