Sunday, March 31, 2019
Hamill began his police career in Rockville, first as a Sheriff's deputy, and then as a County officer in the 1st District. He was assigned to Montgomery County's first community policing unit, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Rockville. In August 2007, Hamill was named Commander of the 2nd District, which includes Bethesda, Chevy Chase, most of Potomac, Kensington and a small part of Silver Spring. During that time he was often found at community and civic association meetings to brief residents on public safety issues.
Hamill is expected to remain acting Chief until a nationwide search for a new police chief is completed. He is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County.
Photo courtesy MCPD
Friday, March 29, 2019
The proposal summary reads:
"The Authority could have the following attributes: It could include governance for both BRT and Ride-On (and other County transit initiatives like bike trails, micro transit pilots, etc.); It would have separate bonding authority not linked to the County’s limits; It could have a 5-7 person board made up of appointees by the County (Executive and Council), the State and perhaps larger municipalities in the County; It could have authority to levy a small increase to the State gas tax or sales tax to finance County transit projects."
While you'd think it's unlikely County elected officials would dare to include the insane provision of the original ITA proposal - the inability of the elected Council to sign off on the unelected ITA's budgets, that question is not covered in the brief ITA proposal in the report.
Other major concerns were that the Council could offload massive amounts of debt from their own capital budgets to the ITA, and that the ITA would have unlimited taxing authority without any accountability to County voters. But it's no surprise that the MoCo cartel is trying to revive the ITA's corpse for a third try.
The ITA was conceived by the cartel for practical reasons foremost - specifically because it is literally the only way to fund the County's proposed $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit network, and secondarily, because the funding scheme for the Purple Line is going to drain away so much money from the future pot for transportation projects in the County. Because the ridership of BRT will be so low, there is no way to create a public-private partnership to fund it - there's no profit potential for a private partner.
Again we are seeing the overconfidence of a political cartel that thinks itself invincible after defeating their decades-old boogeyman, the Columbia Country Club. New property and trash taxes, a proposed drop in speed limits, and the creation of a monster spend-and-burn ITA that could bankrupt the County if taxpayers were held liable in the end for its debts. What will they think of next?
Like most Montgomery County taxes, the new trash tax is a regressive tax that will hit the poor and middle class the most. The new Pay-as-You-Throw trash tax will also hit working families and large families hard especially hard. Rich people who dine out every night, not so much. Thanks to one Bethesda citizen who stood up in recent years, the WSSC's attempt to bilk large households with illegal punitive water fees was found unconstitutional by a judge. The utility, while dragging its feet slowly and mightily, is now being forced to reduce those fees on large households.
Montgomery County's proposed trash tax is likewise unconstitutional, and targets specific residents with exorbitant fees. The more trash you generate, the higher the trash tax will be. Regular trash fees will also rise, to cover the costs of replacing residents' own trash cans with "official" trash cans. As other jurisdictions have found, the result will be a large increase in public dumping by those who either cannot afford the multiple County trash cans, fees and new trash taxes, or who find they have more trash than will fit in the number of official County cans they have. This is going to be a disaster for our streams and watersheds, which are already filled with trash thanks to the Council not making any effort to arrest those dumping and littering in large quantities.
Will residents stand up and fight the new Montgomery County trash tax? Predictably, the local media wasn't seeking out many who would after the cartel officially floated the trash tax trial balloon Thursday. A majority of taxpayers did not punish the Council after the passage of the bag tax, which utterly failed to reduce plastic bag use, and was proven to be a revenue grab only. If you don't fight the trash tax, you're going to get the trash tax.
Why is the trash tax being floated? Trapped politically, and by activist-attorney Robin Ficker's successful property tax cap approved by voters, the Council nevertheless wants to keep spending insane amounts of money on their developer sugar daddies and other cronies. As they've forced the rich to flee to lower-tax jurisdictions in our area, revenue has continued to plummet, while spending only increases annually.
They want to keep giving massive raises to County employees, as well. I strongly support honoring labor contracts; a deal is a deal. But County Executive Marc Elrich was informed soon after his victory about the bleak budget and revenue forecast. So, while I agree strongly with his positions on development, I was surprised at the size of the pay increases he agreed to with union leaders. Now those wages and benefits have to be paid, but there's little political room for a massive property tax increase. How to raise taxes massively, and disguise it as a fee?
Enter the trash tax. But, in short, the trash tax itself belongs in the trash.
total vindication for
new bridge advocates
Already, the Legion Bridge meltdown is being ranked as one of the D.C. region's Top 5 traffic disasters of all time. But imagine if this had occurred during a terror attack or other disaster. Sadly, the local media - out of political bias or simple ignorance of history - largely did not inform their viewers, listeners and readers about exactly why they were stuck in Carmageddon 2019: The failure to complete the D.C. region's freeway system, and most-specifically, Montgomery County and Maryland's childish refusal to build the new Potomac bridge to appease radical anti-car ideologues and developer sugar daddies who need traffic congestion to justify high-density development in the suburbs.
Nobody could take a lap around the Beltway yesterday, but this morning, I'm taking a victory lap as the only Maryland candidate in the 2018 elections who was not only advocating for the new Potomac River crossing, but made it a centerpiece of my campaign.
Simply put: I told you so.
And the tens of thousands of you who voted for me for Montgomery County Council At-Large, along with more than 6000 additional Democrats who voted for me across party lines, can also take a victory lap this morning. You weren't just tired of sitting in traffic; you did your homework before voting. And this morning, like me, you can celebrate total victory and total vindication.
Just as I was the only candidate representing you, the taxpayer and commuter, in the election, now I am sadly perhaps the only journalist who is telling the truth this morning. The truth about our "leaders" failing us by blocking a bridge critical to commuting, national security and Montgomery County's economic development - including the need for direct access to Dulles International Airport. But also the truth that yesterday's fiasco produced clear winners and losers.
And as my readers and my 2018 election supporters know, sometimes it's better to lose with a winner than to win with losers.
The local media and a number of community organizations colluded with the Montgomery County cartel to prevent any coverage of my campaign and platform. But the fact is, I was the sole County Council candidate who ran on the priority of building the new Potomac crossing, and completing Montgomery County's master plan highway system. I'm looking very smart this morning.
It's safe to say there is extreme voter remorse among low-information Montgomery County voters this morning. Those voters were poorly-served by the very media that claims it informs the public, and prevents democracy from "dying in darkness." Casual voters need to know now that they must begin to take their responsibility more seriously - if the Washington Post and other local media aren't informing you about the choices on your ballot, you need to sit down for an hour and research the candidates online before voting. And that having every seat on the County Council won by a Democrat every election kept you in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours last night. A hyperpartisan victory is ultimately an empty and Pyrrhic victory, as yesterday proved.
Robert Dyer voters
New Potomac River crossing advocates
While I've been alone as a candidate and activist on our side of the river in pushing for the new Potomac River crossing, the bridge doesn't lack for high-profile advocates. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, former Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation Chair Bob Buchanan, and former Virginia Govs. Bob McDonnell and Terry McAuliffe are among those who have supported a new crossing in recent years.
D.C region commuters, especially those who live in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County Council
Each member of the current Montgomery County Council (and the previous Councils this decade) has openly opposed a new Potomac River crossing in their public statements. They should be facing the wrath of their constituents today via phone, social media and email, and at the ballot box in 2022. They are almost entirely to blame for yesterday's catastrophe.
Gov. Larry Hogan
Incredibly, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan - a real estate developer, no less - has come out against a new Potomac River bridge. While claiming reducing traffic congestion is a key priority for his administration, Hogan instead became the latest governor in Annapolis to let the phone go to voicemail when Virginia's top leaders have called to discuss a new crossing.
Hogan's claim that the bridge is cost-prohibitive is simply false; the bridge and required highway extension from I-370 can be built privately as a toll facility, at virtually no expense to taxpayers. Our County's structural budget deficit shows what the costs of not building it are - year after year.
Like many bridge opponents, Hogan has made the suggestion of instead "improving" the existing Legion bridge. The problem is, even a magical 16-lane American Legion bridge would have been closed for the same number of hours yesterday. We need more crossings. Period.
New Potomac crossing opponents
Developer-funded bridge opponents ranging from the Coalition for Smarter Growth to Greater Greater Washington to the Rockefeller Foundation aren't looking too "smart" this morning. I would love to have seen them walk from car-to-car in the backups of commuters desperately trying to get home to family and dinner last night, and pass out brochures opposing the new bridge. And to witness the response of drivers!
Thursday, March 28, 2019
If you cannot attend tonight, you can also submit comments online.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
|WTOP article parrots Montgomery County Council|
claim that no veteran is homeless in MoCo in 2015
Change it Montgomery County did - with eager help from their cheerleaders and Fellow Travelers in the local media. While actual homeless advocates working in the community would be the first to acknowledge the claim was impossible, and that it was based on a belief that there would be available housing units in the future as homeless veterans were identified, that is not how the County's elected officials and their buddies in the local news media promoted it to the public.
|Montgomery County government "Paperless Airplane"|
headline from January 2016
I've now confirmed that there are indeed homeless veterans on the streets of Montgomery County, and ironically, I came across one due to the failure of our County Council to provide a functional master plan highway system. Last week, I spent 90 minutes traveling between Bethesda and Shady Grove due to an accident-related backup on the Beltway and I-270. Along with many other frustrated drivers, I exited to Old Georgetown Road, to begin a red-light-at-every-intersection crawl north.
Lo and behold, when I arrived at the intersection of Old Georgetown and Rockville Pike, there was a homeless man panhandling in the median. He was holding a sign that read, "Homeless Veteran." We all know he is not the only one. But the County is putting a $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle, a $1 million-a-year Ride On Extra carrying one passenger in each direction, tax cuts for developers, and millions in kickbacks to supporters and campaign donors in the "non-profit" community ahead of our great veterans.
Fact check: Although the latest false claim easily earns a Four Pinocchio rating, the ongoing mendacity of our corrupt elected officials has required me to follow the Washington Post in adopting the new "Bottomless Pinocchio," which it describes as "a new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again."
Rating: BOTTOMLESS PINOCCHIO
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Inside, you will find another transformation. Darker floor tiles and lighter interior walls complete the redesign. There is still an outdoor seating area at the front. The famous Golden Arches and delicious foods remain the same. Annoy the Fellow Travelers on the Montgomery County Council, and stop by for a an All-American meal today.
Monday, March 25, 2019
The permanent sign and statues have just been installed outside the restaurant. There's still a lot of work to be done inside, however. The owner told me that there were some delays getting the necessary permits from Montgomery County, which held up construction. They have a liquor license hearing scheduled for May 2, so that should give a rough idea of how close opening day is. This is the most grand restaurant entry in White Flint since the Lerners went berserk and demolished White Flint Mall, taking the impressive statuary of P.F. Chang's along with it.
The female victim was transported to an unidentified local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Although the male victim was also transported, police describe his injuries as "minor."
If anyone witnessed the collision or has additional information regarding this incident, they are asked to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.
Friday, March 22, 2019
|March 20, 2019 agenda shows no closed session,|
no vote on candidates
Closed session vote was
not listed on agenda
The sudden end of what was otherwise a long process to fill a vacant Rockville City Council seat raises several questions, legal and otherwise. At a special meeting Wednesday night, the three finalists were again interviewed by the Mayor and Council. After the third interview was finished, the Mayor and Council abruptly went into closed session. When the public was let back into the room, Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton announced there was no consensus among herself and the councilmembers sufficient to give any of the three candidates a majority.
Councilmember Beryl Feinberg then made a motion to end the Council vacancy process, and leave the seat vacant for the remainder of this term, which ends in November. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, and passed unanimously. "The onus is now on this body to come together and serve this city as one for the remainder of the term," Newton said after the process fell apart.
How the process ended was only the latest indication that appointments are not the way to fill Council seats. But it also left several questions about the legality of how it ended. There is a process on the books for filling this seat, as bad as it was. But it was not clear that the process could legally end with the seat remaining vacant.
Secondly, the public was not only reduced to spectator status in this process, but was not given public indication that a vote would take place Wednesday night. As the photo of the meeting agenda clearly shows, a vote was not shown on the agenda. Nor was a closed session indicated on the agenda. That does raise some question about the legality of the meeting under the Maryland Open Meetings Act, which states, "'Before meeting in an open session, the public body must make available to the public an agenda' that (1) contains 'known items of business or topics to be discussed at the portion of the meeting that is open' and (2) indicates 'whether the public body expects to close any portion of the meeting' under GP § 3-305."
Third, the vote to select a new councilmember should have been held in an open session.
And finally, one or more participants in the closed session leaked the proceedings of the session - including the number of votes each candidate received - following the meeting. Such leaks are illegal, and an elected official could be disciplined for leaking details of an executive session.
Ultimately, the outcome may be to the benefit of residents, as there is no majority to ram through any decisions on the future of RedGate golf course, or on adequate public facilities ordinance changes. Given past votes, it's unlikely the Mayor and Council would deadlock on the passage of the new budget, although other critical issues could wind up in a 2-2 tie. And with no members representing a specific district, the empty seat won't leave one area without representation.
If anyone was treated more unfairly in this process than residents, it was the applicants themselves. They clearly spent a great deal of time preparing written statements and for interviews - some for two or three interviews. To dedicate so many hours for a job that in the end does not even exist was a waste of everyone's time and energy. With voting by mail now the norm in Rockville, there's no reason this process can't be switched to a special election in the future.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Ocado has a service called Prime Now, that delivers groceries you order online within 2 hours. If the order is small enough, it might be delivered by scooter. Kroger - which owns Harris Teeter and Ralph's - has partnered with Ocado to prepare for the increasingly-competitive world of online grocery shopping, where its greatest rival will be Crystal City's Amazon.
Northern Virginia is becoming a hub for so many things, it's hard for our super-low-energy Montgomery County Council to even keep track, much less compete. But grocery firms are one of the latest; Lidl chose Arlington County for its U.S. headquarters in the most recent example before this. One can reasonably predict the high-tax, low-energy grass of bedroom community Montgomery County won't exactly look greener from Ocado's offices high above the bustling streets of Tysons.
This is just the latest humiliation for Montgomery County officials this week. It follows another disastrous job growth report (there wasn't any), and Montgomery County's leading economic development official returning empty-handed from an expensive SXSW junket. What Montgomery's selling...they just don't want it. They just don't want it.
On the opposite side of the same building where Robeks is under construction will be Olio Nails & Spa. Robeks is still in the early stages of construction, while the interior fit-out of Olio Nails & Spa is much further along. Traffic at the property is currently dominated by tenants Chick-fil-A and Onelife Fitness.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
"It's such a business-friendly spot," ICEE President Dan Fachner said of La Vergne, according to the local Daily News Journal. The deal also includes a distribution center, and a requirement to create 207 additional jobs with an average salary of $60,152 within the coming five years. In exchange for a relatively-paltry $690,275 tax break, La Vergne, Rutherford County and Tennessee will get a $10.3 million project, and all of the tax revenue and collateral economic benefits.
|Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R)|
Once again, transportation infrastructure also played a big role in the decision. While not mentioned in media coverage of the ICEE deal, the City of La Vergne upgraded Mason Road and its utilities near Bain Drive during the year-long ICEE HQ decision process in 2018. And what do you know? That's exactly where ICEE is going to locate its HQ and distribution center.
Contrast that show of infrastructure investment and goodwill by Tennessee to the moronic decision by the Montgomery County Council to cancel the biggest infrastructure project in White Flint on the very day that Amazon executives were touring White Flint for their HQ 2 search. Along with the enablers in our obsequious and apologist local media, it couldn't be more clear why Montgomery has lost every single major corporate headquarters contest over the last two decades.
|Google Maps image shows 13-minute trip to|
the closest airport from the future ICEE site
|The brain freeze of an ICEE isn't nearly|
as cold as the one you'll get from the latest
Montgomery County Council tax increase
|An ICEE chill settles over Montgomery County,|
now the moribund bedroom community for booming
job centers elsewhere in the D.C. region
|The clock runs out on the|
Montgomery County cartel
We won't attract that first breakthrough corporate headquarters with the super-low-energy, Berzerkley-inspired, anti-business "new" County Council that took office just over three months ago. They haven't acted on a single one of the major crises Montgomery County faces in the many weeks since. Their press release output in recent weeks features no Bill Lee-style announcements of new high-wage jobs, but instead highlights an "Islamophobia" resolution, an outdoor patio smoking ban, and a "Racial Equity and Social Justice Policy."
Res ipsa loquitur, indeed.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
If you're interested in working here, they are currently hiring kitchen staff, servers and a bartender. Get a sneak preview of the BBQ Chicken & Beer Rockville menu by checking out the menu from their existing Centreville location.
Monday, March 18, 2019
Icon currently has a Darnestown location, which has won three awards from wedding planning website Wedding Wire. This space was last home to David Blair's almost-successful campaign for Montgomery County executive last year.
as I reported last December. Everything has been cleared out of the space. It's especially notable that just as Montgomery County claims bicycle use is surging, bike shops across our moribund county are closing, including here and in downtown Bethesda.