Friday, September 28, 2018

MoCo school board approves new redistricting criteria that would force busing of students from "W school" clusters

Move to disconnect
home address from 
coveted school districts 
would reduce home values

Your vote in November's election will now literally determine the future value of your home. The Montgomery County Board of Education this week approved new criteria for redistricting of public schools that would force the busing of students from affluent school clusters in Bethesda, Potomac and Rockville. In their comments prior to the 5-3 vote, some board members specifically cited students in the "W school" clusters in the southwest part of the county as having to be bused to other schools around the county. Because the new criteria puts the heaviest weight on diversity, the policy as written could only be achieved by busing students out of their currently-assigned Walt Whitman, Walter Johnson, Winston Churchill and Thomas S. Wootton clusters (the districts to which the term "W school" are most commonly applied).
Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer
has made no secret of his desire to change who gets
to attend the most coveted schools in areas like
Bethesda, Rockville and Potomac
Montgomery County Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Craig Rice have openly endorsed the idea of detaching homeownership or residency from school cluster assignment in the affluent southwest of the County for several years. But the BOE move this week is the first formal codification of this desire in County regulations. Rice mocked Whitman parents from the Council dais in 2016, declaring in an entitled-sounding voice, "I moved to the Whitman cluster, and therefore I must go to Whitman High School! People lose sight that somehow you attending Whitman is better than attending Gaithersburg or Northwest. That should not be the case," Rice said. "It should not be about what your zip code is."

On Monday night, BOE members took aim at those same parents. Jill Ortman-Fouse, who ran unsuccessfully for the Council and doesn't face reelection for the Board, also criticized the idea that "when you buy a house, you buy a school. And [parents] even said that in their emails. They said 'I bought my house for that school.'" Chiding those parents, she said, "all of those schools are owned by all of the taxpayers. They aren't owned by certain neighborhoods." She denounced the belief that "only certain kids get to go to those schools." Jeannette Dixon added that "an easy commute to school" should not be a criteria for school assignment.

Board member Judith Docca explicitly called out the "W school" clusters, and said that busing of students must include those students from more affluent families. Of those who spoke during the public comment period prior to the vote, Docca noted, "only one speaker mentioned a W school. And that's where some of the students are that need to interact with some of our other students. That is not happening. When we talk about all students, we mean those students as well. I know that it's not going to be easy to do."

That could be the understatement of the decade. If there's any doubt this move is coordinated between the BOE and councilmembers like Riemer and Rice, note their similar talking points. In 2016, Rice declared that "boundary changes used to be a third rail." Monday night, Ortman-Fouse called redistricting "the third rail."

BOE members acknowledged the new criteria, which would certainly reduce home values in the "W schools" communities, will be a hard sell. Ortman-Fouse referred to parents hitting the "panic button." "There will be unintended outcomes," MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith - who declined to take a position for or against the new criteria - warned, "and we will all live with them."

Smith is usually dead wrong on most topics, having failed to keep students safe or reduce the achievement gap during his term, but he made one of the best points during the discussion. In regards to what most determines student achievement, "the secret is what happens in that classroom," he said.

The superintendent is correct. Busing did not lead to equal education. Instead, we have an achievement gap that persists to this day in America. You can bus a child to another school, but they still come from the same income-level family as they would have in their neighborhood school. If diversity of race or socioeconomic background were the top factor in academic success for a school, Whitman or any number of elite private schools in the area would be among the worst-performing. They are not.

Some proponents of the new criteria are predictably quick to call opponents "racist." In reality, the new criteria is what is racist. This is a dodge by MCPS to avoid the actual challenging work of improving the worst-performing schools in the County. The Council has wasted yet another term, failing to reduce the achievement gap and geographic educational inequities in areas like East County and the Upcounty. 

Dropping final exams has already led to MCPS gaining an "Easy A" reputation across the country, according to the Washington Post. This will hurt Montgomery County public school students in the college admissions process over time, if not reversed. Now MCPS is dropping the PARCC tests, for the same harebrained reason that the kids can't pass the tests. Can't pass the test? Get rid of the tests, our County "leaders" say. Can't improve failing schools? Bus kids around to try to artificially-but-slightly boost test scores, even if it causes scores at the top schools to drop.

This is the definition of "the soft bigotry of low-expectations."

As Jaime Escalante proved three decades ago, student groups of any racial or economic background can perform at the highest levels. It's the teacher and the curriculum that make the difference. Contrary to Riemer's claim that there must be rich, white students in a classroom for black and Latino students to excel, Escalante's students achieved high scores without "Richie Rich" sitting at the next desk.

How do we know "the secret is what happens in that classroom," as Smith said? After Escalante left Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, student math performance tanked. Kind of like Algebra test scores in Montgomery County in recent years.

Redistricting and busing could be a post-election surprise for many parents, especially with no accurate media coverage of Monday night's change. Several schools are already due for new or changed assignments before the end of this year, such as those impacted by a new high school opening for Downtown Crown in Gaithersburg. The clusters affected in that redistricting will be Wootton, Richard Montgomery, Quince Orchard, Northwest and Gaithersburg. Clarksburg Village #2, another new school, will also be districted this fall. Development pressures in Bethesda and Silver Spring make boundary changes inevitable in those areas, especially with elected officials showing a new boldness to touch that "third rail."

According to board veteran Patricia O'Neill, who voted for the new criteria, boundary changes will be "happening pretty darn soon." Docca referred to the implementation of the new criteria as "the operation."

Impacts of the changes are clear: reduced home values when a particular address no longer guarantees entry to coveted schools, perpetuation of failure at failing schools countywide, longer bus commutes for already-tired students, and a continuing achievement gap. 

Can "the operation" be stopped? Yes. By electing Council candidates who oppose this dodge of the County's fundamental responsibility to provide good schools in every neighborhood. If elected, I would use the ultimate power to force the BOE to drop the new criteria. It is the County Council that funds MCPS. The BOE would have a hard time operating with no funding.

If you currently live in an area with coveted schools, your vote on Tuesday, November 6 will literally determine the future value of your home, and the futures of children countywide. We need leaders who won't sidestep the major challenges we face for another four years, including failing schools and an unacceptable achievement gap. The failed solutions of the past won't move us forward into the future.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fans lined up for today's Rockville Chick-fil-A grand opening (Photos)

With one-hundred "free Chick-fil-A for a year" prizes on the line, local residents have spent the night in line at the brand new Chick-fil-A restaurant at Research Row, located off W. Montgomery Avenue at 1401 Research Boulevard. Spirits are high, as fans of the chain await the first Rockville location with drive-thru to open.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Kathleen Conway out as Rockville City Clerk

Kathleen Conway, who was named Rockville City Clerk/Director of Council Operations in 2016, is no longer in that position. Her deputy, Sara Taylor-Farrell, has been named Acting City Clerk by the Mayor and Council.

The personnel change occurred outside of public view, most likely at an executive session on September 18. That session was closed to the public, but the agenda description specified that it was called to discuss issues related to the City Clerk position.

Rockville Director of Communication Marylou Berg says that because the change is a personnel matter, the City has no further comment. A source with knowledge of the situation says the change was driven by the Team Rockville faction on the Council, which consists of Councilmembers Mark Pierzchala, Julie Palakovich Carr, and Virginia Onley. However, by the nature of a closed session, there is no way to officially corroborate that with the actual votes cast that day. But three votes would have been needed to make the change.

There have been signs in the past of Team Rockville having an unknown political issue with Conway. She was excluded from a closed Mayor and Council session last November, after an offline agenda meeting that only included Pierzchala, City Manager Rob DiSpirito, and City Attorney Debra Yerg Daniel. When Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg objected to Conway's exclusion, Team Rockville closed ranks to prevent Conway's attendance.

Montgomery County 5G opponents turn out in force to urge County Council to delay small cell tower implementation

Montgomery County Council
President Hans Riemer
Opponents of deployment of 5G wireless small cell towers in Montgomery County made an impressive showing at a public hearing on a Zoning Text Amendment on the matter last night before the County Council. Speakers opposing both the towers and the ZTA received repeated applause from the large crowd. Council President Hans Riemer has tried to play both sides with Election Day fast approaching, but if the Council acts next month, he and others will be forced to take a position that could hurt them in November with motivated anti-5G voters.

Concerns went beyond not just the dangers opponents cited 5G would pose to residents, but also the rushed process for the ZTA, that moved forward before all issues raised by citizens had been fully addressed by the Council. While the County is limited in what it can do to stop implementation of the towers, which the industry claims must be deployed to facilitate everything from better cell service to autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, some speakers urged the Council to use the leverage it does have in creative ways.

Resident Edward Myers suggested requiring follow-up inspections for issues like radiation on towers constructed in residential areas. He noted that the current health-impact findings the industry and federal government are using as the standard are based on "1992 science." Resident Anita Prince cited more recent findings that, for example, show radiation impact on the human brain within three minutes of exposure.

Supporters of the ZTA urged the Council to act quickly in approving implementation, so that County residents and businesses can be among the first to enjoy the benefits of the new technology. Some cited the potential boost to telecommuting, as more complex tasks could be completed by more workers from home with the more powerful system. Supporters at the hearing included residents and telecommunication companies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sign installed at Pour Vino n' Hops in Rockville

The permanent sign was recently installed on the facade of Pour Vino n' Hops at 42 Maryland Avenue in Rockville Town Center. Pour Vino n' Hops will feature hundreds of hand-selected domestic and imported wines and craft beers. They are currently hiring sommeliers and bartenders, full and part-time.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mellow Mushroom closes at Rockville Town Square

Mellow Mushroom has closed permanently at Rockville Town Square. The closure is a high-profile one, in a central on-the-square location, at a development that continues to struggle with tenant turnover. Mellow Mushroom's owner, Danny Trahan, has openly spoken in the past about the high costs of operating a restaurant in Rockville and Montgomery County. "Did I make a mistake in coming to Montgomery County?" he asked last year. "I feel like I did."

Several forces may have contributed to the demise of Mellow Mushroom. The owner was outspoken in his criticism of landlord Federal Realty and the City of Rockville regarding the parking policies at Rockville Town Square. Trahan estimated that the parking fees cost Town Square tenants $5 million in sales annually. Patrons must buy something to receive validation to avoid paying for parking. About 20% are unaware of the validation option, and pay the fees even if they did buy something at a Town Square business, Federal Realty reported at a Mayor and Council worksession on Town Center parking issues.

Many casual visitors who aren't sure they will spend money have been going where parking is free - Rio/Washingtonian Center, Downtown Crown and Pike & Rose (2 hours free at the latter). Property owners in the Town Center area have said they cannot afford to cover the cost of free parking under the restraints of the existing financial arrangements they have with lenders.

Trahan and other business owners have also complained that the limited hours of the Rockville Memorial Library across the square draw less foot traffic than a popular restaurant or retailer would. Montgomery County has slammed restaurant owners repeatedly this decade, starting with a massive hike in the Energy Tax in 2010. The County Council followed up with a historic property tax increase in 2016 that exceeded the charter limit, and a $15 minimum wage hike. "That's a lot of extra Slurpees to sell," one business owner said at a Council hearing on the wage increase.

The City's ban on outdoor smoking at the Town Square was the last straw for Trahan. "Are you trying to slow-poison business?" he asked the Mayor and Council incredulously at a 2017 worksession.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Taylor Gourmet to close all locations after Sunday

Taylor Gourmet, the D.C.-area hoagie chain whose locations include Bethesda Row, downtown Silver Spring, and Pike & Rose, will close all of its restaurants at the close of business on Sunday, according to Washingtonian magazine. Among the reasons cited for the closure were financial troubles with landlords at some of their locations, expanding too rapidly, and a brief downturn in sales after owner Casey Patten participated in a 2017 business roundtable with President Donald Trump, who is unpopular in all of the cities where Taylor Gourmet operates.

The chain has not publicly commented on the closure report on its social media accounts as of press time. Taylor Gourmet had recently experimented with new menu items such as burgers, tacos and fried chicken sandwiches.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Extreme Halloween opens in Rockville

Extreme Halloween returns to Rockville Pike this year, with a slightly different look, and a new location. Shop their selection of costumes, accessories and decorations at 1616 Rockville Pike. It's tough to take on Spirit Halloween, but I like that Extreme Halloween's funereal black shopping baskets say "Halloween" on them, for an extra dose of holiday "spirit."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chick-fil-A sets opening date at Research Row in Rockville

This is the news many of us have been waiting for: the opening date for the new Chick-fil-A restaurant at the equally-new Research Row shopping center at 1401 Research Boulevard in Rockville. The restaurant will open on September 27.

Finally a Chick-fil-A with a drive-thru! But if you are dining inside, the restaurant will seat 96, and features a two-story interactive play area for families who miss the old McDonald's playgrounds.

“I am excited to bring another Chick-fil-A to the Rockville community that I have been a part of for the last 25 years and to have the opportunity to continue serving the community both inside and outside my restaurant,” franchise operator Brad Wood said Wednesday. “I am committed to developing my team members, as together we provide a remarkable experience to our guests who become part of our family."

Of course, the restaurant will be hosting the now-traditional campout the night before the opening. Registration to line up will begin at 6:00 AM on September 26 at the restaurant. Up to 100 adults who live in qualifying nearby zip codes will win gift cards for a year of free Chick-fil-A meals. A book drive will also be held, benefiting a local Boys & Girls Club.

Sweetgreen is coming to Rockville

Federal Realty has signed another big name to its roster of restaurants at Pike & Rose. Fast casual salad concept Sweetgreen will open between Burger Fi and Sunday Morning Bakehouse on Grand Park Avenue.
The restaurant will be in the ground floor of the Canopy by Hilton hotel/930 Rose condo building. Speaking of which, the Canopy hotel is really going full steam now. When I was at Pike & Rose this past weekend, cars unloading luggage at the front of the hotel were backing up down Rose Avenue toward Grand Park Avenue. 
Canopy by Hilton reviewer on TripAdvisor says the
Pike & Rose hotel "exceeded all expectations!"
License plates included New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And not necessarily the hip crowd the hotel is targeted toward, but families with kids, and the general tourist types. So it seems the hotel has become really popular since its opening in March. Canopy scores 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, 4.4 on Google Reviews, and I can't find a Yelp listing for it on Google.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Japong Bakery to open in Rockville

Japong Bakery is coming to the Ritchie Center at 785 Rockville Pike. The bakery is scheduled to open September 30 in the former Mr. Banh Mi space.

Japong will offer the top-selling pastries from across Asia, but the selections include some familiar in the West, including cream puffs, cheesecakes and gourmet cakes. Their breads and pastries are made fresh with their exclusive Sourdough recipe. Among the Asian selections are Egg Tarts, a baked pastry crust filled with egg custard.

In related news, Pho 95 in the same shopping center is currently renovating their space.

Councilmember wants to clarify relationship between Mayor & Council and Rockville Sister Cities Corporation

Rockville City Councilmember Mark Pierzchala wants the Mayor and Council to discuss and clarify the relationship between that body and the Rockville Sister Cities. It is unclear what the full purpose of the proposed discussion is, but Pierzchala mentioned that he would like to know what input the Mayor and Council have in terminating Rockville's relationship with a sister city, and the establishment of new ties with a different one.

"It's very unclear in my mind when the Mayor and Council should be chiming in," Pierzchala said at Monday night's Mayor and Council meeting. He said he wants to "define the relationship" between the Rockville Sister City Corporation and the Mayor & Council, and explore the evolution of that relationship and their respective roles over the last 30 years.

The Rockville Sister City Corporation, as it is officially known, was founded as a non-profit in 1987. Rockville's current sister cities are Pinneberg, Germany and Jiaxing, China.

A discussion item has tentatively been added to the next meeting's agenda. That agenda had not been posted on the City website as of this writing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mayor wants to know why Rockville election board is defying request to appear at City Council

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg are seeking answers as to why the Board of Supervisors of Elections is refusing to appear before the City Council to brief them on the switch to voting-by-mail, that will occur with the next City election in 2019.  Newton and Feinberg queried Deputy City Clerk Sara Taylor-Farrell and City Attorney Debra Yerg Daniel about the delay in updating officials on their plans and progress on the new voting system.

"I'm a little concerned, because this is a huge deal," Newton said. Feinberg too expressed concerns over the delay given the enormity of the task ahead, calling the new system a "sea change" for the city. She said she wanted to know where exactly the Board is in implementing voting by mail.

Daniel said the Board technically does not have to appear at the request of the Mayor and Council, because they are a separately-chartered body in charge of elections. Staff and Councilmember Virginia Onley said the Board is understaffed, and that their request for additional staffing funds from the Mayor and Council may have to be acted upon before the Board will agree to appear.

Onley suggested discussing the staffing problem with the Board, even if the conversation must be held out of public view. "If it's offline, then let's discuss it offline," Onley suggested. Daniel said an offline discussion could be held in closed session. The Mayor and Council have a closed session today at 4:00 PM at the Cottage at Glenview Mansion, at 603 Edmonston Drive, where the matter may now be discussed. That closed session is, of course, closed to the public.

They will also be discussing something related to the Office of the City Clerk, the original reason for the closed session.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Golden Samovar closed in Rockville after flood

Golden Samovar is closed at Rockville Town Square. The restaurant says the closure is due to repeated flooding of its space from the apartments located upstairs, and that it will not reopen "until the issue is resolved."

However, the restaurant's website is currently down, as well. I know there is a basis in truth for the flooding explanation, because the restaurant indeed closed temporarily in late May, due to water from the apartments upstairs. They then reopened.

We will have to stay tuned here. It would be truly sad to lose Golden Samovar, as we are in great need of Russian and Eastern European restaurants in Montgomery County.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Derwood man missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in finding a missing Derwood man. Marvin Darnell Obrien, 33, lives in a group home on Granby Road. He was last seen by caretakers there on September 7, when police say he left the home on foot.

Police describe Obrien as an African American male, approximately 5’9″ to 6’ 1” tall and weighing 160 pounds. He has short black hair, brown eyes, and a tattoo located on his forehead.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Marvin Darnell Obrien is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (answers 24-7).

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mayor and Council to consider abandonment of easement along Veirs Mill Road

Rockville's Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on the potential abandonment of a City right-of-way easement located on the property of 2131 Veirs Mill Road. According to 1976 documents, the easement was granted to the Mayor and Council of Rockville at that time "for use as a public road or 'service road' to facilitate the interior flow of traffic along Viers (sic) Mill Road.

It's intriguing that an abandonment could occur prior to final decisions being made about the impact and needed right-of-way for the Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle planned for Veirs Mill. Quite a few homes and businesses will be partially or entirely condemned if that plan goes forward as generally described now. There is currently a bus stop in front of the subject property.

The current property owner is seeking the abandonment of the easement because it would hinder a building addition, and future redevelopment of the property, according to the applicant's attorney. A public hearing on the abandonment will be held at the Mayor and Council meeting on Monday, September 17, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Sprint proposes adding new cell tower on Rockville water tank

Sprint has applied to construct a new telecommunications tower on an existing water tank in Rockville. The tank is located at 13890 Glen Mill Road. In addition to the tower, related equipment would also be located on the ground nearby.

The only public comment being accepted at this time is on potential effects you feel the tower would have on any existing historic property that is either on, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places.

Comments on that issue can be received by Andrew Smith at 260-385-6999. The site is located across from Lakewood Country Club, and is down the road from Lakewood Elementary School. It is also surrounded by single-family homes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hogan declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence

Potomac River at 
flood stage at
Little Falls, 
White's Ferry closed,
National Guard alerted

Will Hurricane Florence hit Maryland hard? We don't know yet, but Gov. Larry Hogan isn't taking any chances. "While we're hoping for the best, we are preparing for the worst," Hogan said at a press conference, where he announced he has declared a state of emergency. The governor said the declaration would allow the state to mobilize the resources and personnel potentially needed in the areas expected to be hardest hit.

Hogan warned of the strong possibility of "historic, catastrophic, and life-threatening flooding," in coastal and low-lying, flood-prone areas. "At my direction, the state is currently taking action to activate all available resources," he told reporters, "including alerting the Maryland National Guard."

Sporting a yellow-trimmed polo shirt, Hogan said he is in constant contact with the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center, to obtain up-to-the-minute briefings on the storm's track. He said the state's Emergency Management Center is "fully-staffed" at this hour, at that emergency shelters around the state are now standing by to receive displaced residents.

Pepco will face its first real test of its "new" system. The utility will have no excuse to be short on personnel, because Hogan explicitly mentioned that he has personally alerted the state's electrical companies to mobilize now.

The governor urged residents to "start now to prepare your families and your homes for potential heavy rains, wind and possible flooding." He recommended citizens "have water, batteries, and flashlights at the ready in case of power outages."

Hogan said he expected to know more about the storm's potential impacts by later today.

Suburban News Network
Storm Center Update

The National Weather Service has put a Dense Fog Advisory into effect until 10:00 AM this morning. A Flood Warning remains in effect until noon Wednesday. The many preceding days of heavy rain have put the area behind the 8-ball before Florence even arrives near the end of the week.

Already, the Potomac River is above flood stage at Little Falls, and high water has closed White's Ferry for now.

Current temperature in Rockville is 69 degrees. It is 67 in Darnestown, and 68 in Derwood.

The high today will be 81, with a shower or thunderstorm expected this afternoon. Winds are from the west at 1 MPH, gusting to 6 MPH.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Coalition relaunches effort to declare MoCo a sanctuary county

A group calling itself the Montgomery County Trust Act Coalition is again urging the County Council to officially declare Montgomery County a sanctuary county. The County is already unofficially a sanctuary jurisdiction, as it has repeatedly released prisoners from the County jail on whom U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed detainers, so that federal agents can arrest and deport those individuals.

ICE reprimanded County officials in 2017 for forcing them to chase down an individual the County let go, despite a retainer being lodged. A second man was released despite a detainer last December, and was shot and killed in Takoma Park by another gang member.


The sanctuary effort may have been revitalized by the Trump administration's failure to follow through with any sanctions against existing sanctuary jurisdictions, including threats to cut federal funds. Despite tough talk, Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly backed down from publishing lists of prisoners with detainers that jurisdictions like Montgomery had released, when County officials cried foul after the inaugural list was published. And public outrage over the separation of families at the border earlier this year may have created a more-favorable environment to raise the issue in progressive Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Trust Act Coalition is asking community groups to sign onto its letter to the Council by noon today. It plans to send the letter on September 13. Members of the coalition include the ACLU of Maryland, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jews United for Justice, Progressive Maryland, and Showing Up for Racial Justice - Montgomery County.

Friday, September 7, 2018

First Baptist Church seeks to add addition in Rockville

The First Baptist Church at 55 Adclare Road has submitted plans to the City of Rockville for a 4800 multi-purpose addition to its existing church structure. It is needed to better serve the church's congregation, according to documents filed with the city. A public meeting on the project is scheduled for Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at the church. Strangely, no time is given in the announcement. Until I hear further, I can only advise that these meetings are usually held at 6:30 or 7:00 PM in the evening.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Riemer a no-show at Council debate

Coward of the County

Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer continued a historic streak of not showing up for major candidate forums yesterday, when he blew off a morning debate sponsored by the Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce. A packed house of business owners turned out to hear from the candidates for Montgomery County Council At-Large. But Riemer was a no-show, leaving myself, Gabe Albornoz (D), Evan Glass (D) and Shelly Skolnick (R) to have a substantive discussion of the issues our business community faces in our moribund economy.

Riemer has not attended a general election debate since I destroyed him in a forum televised live by Montgomery Community Television/MyMCMedia in 2014. He did not show up to the next and final debate that year, which was hosted by the Greater Olney Civic Association. Riemer's action was a historic first in Montgomery County politics - the first time a sitting councilmember had skipped a formal general election debate hosted by a prominent community group. After Wednesday in Clarksburg, his record streak is now up to two.

No Council sessions were scheduled yesterday; in fact, the Council's lazy, endless summer doesn't end until next Tuesday, September 11. But you can understand why Riemer would be hiding. He has failed to deliver any of the priorities the residents and businesses in Clarksburg have sought. And Riemer vehemently opposes their top two priorities - building the M-83 Highway, and widening I-270.

Hans Riemer's failure to show up was an insult to the taxpayers who pay his $137,000 salary, and to the democratic process. Once again, Hans has demonstrated he doesn't care about his upcounty constituents.

But again, it's understandable Hans would be hiding - he has a lot to hide, with so many controversial questions about him still unanswered, and to be investigated by the press:

- Why does so much of his campaign cash come from outside the County, and largely from Wall Street crooks who caused the Great Recession, and their K Street lobbyists?

- Why has he accepted campaign checks from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Mitch Rales' Danaher Corporation, two pioneers in outsourcing American jobs overseas, while claiming to be a "progressive Democrat?"

- Why did he fail to disclose illegal activity in the County Department of Liquor Control he was aware of in October 2014 until after Election Day, when he was safely reelected, a violation of his oath of office?

- Why did he vote to create a $360,000,000 federal tax shelter for his sugar daddy Mitch Rales, after receiving at least $4000 in campaign contributions from Rales?

- Why has he repeatedly touted his role as "Obama's Youth Vote Director" in Barack Obama's 2008 victory, when a source from the Obama campaign has said Riemer was actually out of that position in the spring of 2008 - long before Mr. Obama had even clinched the nomination, much less his general election victory?

It's astonishing that Hans Riemer was able to win election, and serve two full terms, without any scrutiny by local media on these and other controversies. With at least two debates remaining, it's time for Hans Riemer to man-up and face the music on his scandals and utter failure in office. For now, he's earned his title as the "Coward of the County."

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse to open in Rockville

Federal Realty has found a winning tenant to take over the just-vacated Nike Factory Store space at Pike & Rose. Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse will open in the prominent corner at Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue in early 2019.

This lease really hits the target in two ways. First, it again bolsters Pike & Rose's status as arguably the top self-contained dining destination in Montgomery County, particularly once all of the pending new restaurants have opened by early next year. Second, Fogo de Chão is a brand well-known to the young, creative class professionals Federal Realty has sought to attract to the development. That demographic knows Fogo de Chão, because they are already dining at the other Fogo de Chão locations in the area.

For those not familiar with the chain, Fogo de Chão was founded in the great country of Brazil in 1979. Diners take an edible tour of the traditional churrasco roasted meats of Southern Brazil. Meats are sliced tableside by servers, but there are also many vegetable and fruit dishes to try. In fact, the company touts the health benefits of the Brazilian diet on its website.

Se Acostumando!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

T-Swirl Crepe to open in Rockville

T-Swirl Crepe, a Japanese crepes chain, is coming to Rockville. Founder Andy Lin is actually from China, but discovered Japanese crepes while watching a television broadcast from Taiwan. Their first location was in Queens, NY, and they are now spreading across the country. T-Swirl Crepe will be located at 313 N. Washington Street.

Monday, September 3, 2018

UNIQLO opens in Rockville (Photos)

Japanese apparel retailer UNIQLO opened its first Maryland store at Pike & Rose on Saturday morning. Here's an exclusive sneak preview of what you will see when you visit. As you will notice in some of the pictures, the store carries some items that are exclusive to this store, and to this region. UNIQLO is located at 11853 Grand Park Avenue, right outside the Trade Street garage.