Saturday, September 30, 2023

Strong-arm robbery at Rockville grocery store

A Rockville grocery store that has recently made news for the wrong reasons is back in the headlines again. Rockville City police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at a supermarket in the 600 block of Hungerford Drive Thursday morning, September 28, 2023. The robbery was reported at the store at 10:00 AM Thursday. There is a Giant store on that block of Hungerford Drive, where 3 people have been assaulted since August 11 of this year.

Sheepskin Gifts & Alpaca Too returning for the holidays at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

If you believe the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, the annual arrival of Sheepskin Gifts & Alpaca Too is a welcome sign that the holidays are just around the corner. What is alpaca? According to an explanation from the company, "alpaca fiber is warmer, weighs less and is more durable than wool. It is soft like cashmere, but stronger and a highly-natural product. Because alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic, most people [allergic to] wool items can wear alpaca. Alpaca garments...are stain resistant. Precipitation does not readily penetrate an alpaca garment, and they are naturally windproof." The seasonal pop-up is fully-stocked and ready to open any minute. Unleash the alpacas! Look for Sheepskin Gifts & Alpaca Too on Level 1 of the mall.

VinoRita closes at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos)

Apparently, there's no demand for wine slushies in Bethesda. Last weekend, I noticed that VinoRita, which opened only about five weeks ago in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall, was closed on a busy Saturday evening. Now their kiosk is entirely cleared out. It's recently become one of the unluckiest spots in the mall, as HalfSmoke lasted less than a year in the same kiosk, and VinoRita has now chased that with one of the fastest business failures I've ever reported in the 17 years I've been publishing news in Montgomery County. 

It looks like wine moms have been following the ultra-rich out the door in their mass exodus from moribund Montgomery County, folks. You would think County residents could have used a stiff slushie after looking at their new, jacked-up MoCo property tax bills. VinoRita may want to try a Spring Valley, Leesburg or Clarksville location instead. Meanwhile, Westfield may need to break the emergency glass, and bring in Steak and Shake, In-N-Out Burger, Jack in the Box, Raising Cane's or Zaxby's to hit a home run in this struggling kiosk. In the words of Shia LaBeouf, "I'm tired of starting over...just DO IT!!!!"
VinoRita was still there, but
abandoned, last Saturday night

A week later...VinoRita is gone

*Sad trombone*

Friday, September 29, 2023

Montgomery County legalizes tunnel greenhouses on urban, suburban lots to boost small farming production

Montgomery County's Department of Permitting Services has removed a prohibition on the erection of high tunnel greenhouses on urban and suburban lots, in an effort to increase food production by small farmers in those areas. Previously, the structures were only permitted on land zoned as agricultural. Constructed of metal frames and clear plastic coverings, the greenhouses trap heat to extend the growing season, and block access to plants by pests. Interested applicants in urban and suburban areas must submit to the DPS a certificate showing that the high tunnel proposal has been reviewed by the Montgomery Soil Conservation District and the Office of Agriculture, to ensure that it will comply with sediment and erosion control, stormwater management, zoning, and any local HOA requirements. 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

"Ag growers who are Black, indigenous or people of color often operate on properties with fewer than three acres of land, so this policy change was made to increase racial equity," County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. "This policy change also is expected to increase local food production, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from long-distance food transport on our roads and increase urban access to healthy and nutritious food. I thank the local grower who advocated for change and the Office of Agriculture and Department of Permitting Services for implementing the new policy."

Strong-arm robbery in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery in the Southlawn industrial area early Wednesday morning, September 27, 2023. The robbery was reported in the 1300 block of E. Gude Drive at 2:23 AM Wednesday. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Armed robbery at Rockville restaurant

Montgomery County police officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at a restaurant in Rockville on Tuesday, September 26, 2023. The robbery was reported at a restaurant in the 5200 block of Randolph Road at 11:30 AM. That appears to be a restaurant at Loehmann's Plaza.

Bethesda Black cemetery advocates deliver "bones" to Montgomery County Executive

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coaltion made good on its promise to take a symbolic action at a budget forum hosted by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich last night at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. Prop "bones" were dropped onto the floor in front of Elrich's podium, representing the more than 200 real bones that were excavated from a self-storage construction site on River Road behind the McDonald's in Bethesda, and trucked away to a Virginia warehouse without allowing independent testing by BACC's expert to determine if they are human or animal remains. The excavation site is directly adjacent to the desecrated Moses African Cemetery.

"Mr. Elrich has not lifted a finger to ensure proper testing is conducted," BACC said in a statement today. "Instead, he slandered Dr Marsha Adebayo, President of BACC, publicly calling her a liar during yesterday's meeting when she spoke about the remains and demanded the return of the bones to the descendant community. By continuing to deny the racism, criminal actions, and disregard for the Black community on River Road by the developers and county agencies, Mr. Elrich has chosen to stand on the side of white supremacy. We will continue to protest at events held by Mr. Elrich until he meets the demands of BACC and/or steps down."

Hans Riemer endorses Will Jawando in Maryland U.S. Senate race

Former Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer has endorsed current Councilmember Will Jawando in the Maryland U.S. Senate race for the seat of retiring Senator Ben Cardin (D). Jawando and Riemer served together on the Council from 2018 to 2022; Jawando is now in his second Council term. "In my many years of knowing Will Jawando, going back to our work together supporting President Obama, and my four years serving side-by-side with him on the Montgomery County Council, I have always been impressed by his devotion to public service and dedication to meeting the needs of his most vulnerable constituents," Riemer said in a statement this afternoon.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of my friend and former colleague @HansRiemer," Jawando tweeted in announcing Riemer's support. "Hans has spent his career fighting for so many of the same priorities my campaign is centered upon. I look forward to working with him on delivering for the state of Maryland."

Photo courtesy Will Jawando for U.S. Senate

Maryland AG rules Montgomery County cannot ban police from making traffic stops

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has ruled that the Montgomery County Council does not have the legal authority to pass a law that would prevent police from making traffic stops for minor offenses. Council President Evan Glass sought an opinion from Brown in regards to legality of the proposed STEP Act (Council Bill 12-23). Introduced by Councilmember Will Jawando, and co-sponsored by Councilmember Kristin Mink, the bill would ban police from making traffic stops for offenses such as a defective headlight or tinted windows. 

Brown's finding, issued in a September 15, 2023 memo to Glass, is that Maryland vehicle law preempts any County law regarding traffic stops. However, Brown advised Glass that another STEP Act provision, which would ban police from seeking consent to search a vehicle unless there is "reasonable suspicion" that a crime has been committed, would be permissible because Maryland vehicle law "does not address the subject of searches during traffic stops."

The STEP Act is one of several criminal justice reforms introduced or steered to passage by Jawando in his two terms on the Council. Those initiatives have been highlighted during his current campaign for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D), who is retiring after his term ends. In advocating for the STEP Act, Jawando argued that change was necessary to reduce the outsize impact of traffic stops on drivers of color. 

One group that advocated for both of the STEP Act provisions in question, the Decriminalize Montgomery County Coalition, said in a statement that its members are "disappointed" in Brown's ruling on the traffic stop question. It urges the Council to move forward on passage of the provision on consent searches of vehicles, and the Maryland General Assembly to update the state's vehicle law to allow localities to ban traffic stops for minor offenses.

"The Decriminalize Montgomery County coalition is deeply concerned that [Brown's] opinion poses an obstruction to racial justice," the organization said. "The STEP Act was introduced to reduce racial disparities in traffic stops. In fact, the opinion correctly acknowledges that police disproportionately stop Black and brown drivers compared to other drivers. Drivers of color are frequently stopped for minor offenses, such as a broken taillight or an expired registration, even though these violations do not threaten public safety. These stops often end up turning into consent searches so that police can search vehicles for drugs, and can escalate into emotional and physical harm. They are fundamental problems that still need to be addressed. Stopping consent searches is a step towards that end, but the best way to reduce police harm is to ensure that the stop does not happen at all." 

Organizations that are part of the DMC coalition supporting the STEP Act include Young People for Progress (YPP), the Silver Spring Justice Coalition (SSJC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, and Jews United for Justice (JUFJ).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar to open in Rockville

Federal Realty is making news again this week by signing a second restaurant to a lease at its Federal Plaza shopping center in Rockville. Kura Revolving Sushi Bar will open a 3,325-square-foot restaurant at the property next summer. It will be the chain's first Maryland location, and second in the Washington, D.C. region. As the name suggests, sushi plates circulate throughout the dining room on conveyor belts, offering patrons choices of sushi, udon, ramen, hot and cold sides, and desserts. Upping the entertainment value for diners are the prizes dispensed by KuraBot robots for every 15 plates or beverages they serve. 

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar joins Torchy's Tacos in announcing their leases at Federal Plaza this week.  “We welcome Torchy’s Tacos and Kura Revolving Sushi Bar as they expand into Maryland,” Ralph Ours, Director of Leasing, Mid-Atlantic Region at Federal Realty said in a statement. “These two new, innovative dining additions further cement Federal Plaza as a popular shopping and dining destination for the Rockville and greater Montgomery County community.”


Photos by Lisa Czech (top), Emily J. Davis (middle), Kura Sushi (bottom)

Adam Van Grack endorsed by District 17 Senator Kagan, Delegates Spiegel & Vogel in Rockville City Council race

Delegate Ryan Spiegel

Adam Van Grack
, a candidate for Rockville City Council, has added to his lengthy list of endorsements from area elected officials. Newly-appointed Maryland State Delegate Ryan Spiegel (D) has joined his District 17 delegation colleagues Senator Cheryl Kagan (D) and Delegate Joe Vogel (D) in backing Van Grack in the race. "Adam Van Grack has been an active member in the Rockville legal community for many years," Spiegel said in a statement. “He has the expertise and experience to excel on the Rockville City Council, and he is the type of leader who I know can get big things done. I am proud to endorse Adam Van Grack for Rockville City Council and urge you to join me in supporting him."

State Senator Cheryl Kagan

"Delegate Spiegel has set the standard for effective local leadership and I’m proud to have his support in this race," Van Grack said. "During his time on the Gaithersburg City Council, Delegate Spiegel was an effective voice who listened and delivered results not just for Gaithersburg but for all Marylanders. As a member of the Maryland legislature, I have no doubts that he will continue to benefit from his leadership and I look forward to working with him and our District 17 delegation to deliver results for Rockville, District 17, and our state."

Delegate Joe Vogel

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood endorses Will Jawando for Maryland U.S. Senate seat

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando's latest endorsement for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D) comes from a federal lawmaker already on Capitol Hill. Illinois Congresswoman Lauren Underwood announced this morning that she is backing Jawando over his leading opponents in the Democratic primary, Congressman David Trone and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. "I am excited to announce my support of Will Jawando for the United States Senate," Underwood said in a statement. "For nearly two decades, Will has been a mentor and friend. He's a tremendous leader who cares deeply about the lives and well-being of all Maryland residents. Will is an effective, disciplined, and inspiring legislator who is prepared for the challenges ahead. I am proud to endorse him."

A registered nurse, Underwood gained national attention by winning a Republican seat once held by Congressman Randy Hultgren and the disgraced former House speaker, convicted child molester Dennis Hastert. Underwood has the 16th-most-liberal voting record in the U.S. House according to VoteView, likely a winning data point with Jawando, who is positioning himself as the true progressive in the Senate race.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of Congresswoman Lauren Underwood," Jawando said in a statement. "She is in the top echelon of our nation’s public servants and tirelessly fights for her constituents. I have had the honor of knowing the Congresswoman for many years and know her to be a tireless leader for Illinois."

Torchy's Tacos opening in Rockville

Those who made Federal Plaza a stop for Tex-Mex food during Chuy's short run there will have another Mexican chain from Texas to check out there soon. Torchy's Tacos has signed a lease at the shopping center, property owner Federal Realty announced Monday. Its 3,961-square-foot Rockville location will be the chain's first in the Washington, D.C. area. Torchy's, founded in Austin in 2006, is promising to serve "the most unique tacos, coveted queso and refreshing margaritas in the game, and the rotating Taco of the Month."

Monday, September 25, 2023

Assault reported at school in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a school last Friday morning, September 22, 2023. The assault was reported at a school in the 600 block of Great Falls Road at 9:30 AM. Julius West Middle School is located on that block.

Black cemetery advocates to "pour 250+ symbolic bones" at protest of Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition plans to protest Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich's appearance at a County budget forum this Wednesday, September 27, 2023 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, in the East-West Room, at 4805 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda. In a statement, BACC says it intends to "pour 200+ symbolic bones at Marc Elrich's feet," representing bones and other artifacts removed from a construction site directly adjacent to the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda that were trucked to a Gainesville, Virginia warehouse. BACC asserts that Elrich and the self-storage company developing the construction site have both blocked access to the remains for independent testing, and that the remains have not been adequately tested to determine if they are human or not.

The site in question, directly behind the McDonald's at 5214 River Road in Bethesda, was not part of Moses African Cemetery. But given the reality that property lines of older, unfenced cemeteries - and of segregated Black cemeteries like Moses - in then-rural areas were not always clear or precisely followed in burials, there was a strong concern that there could be human remains on the site. The Montgomery County Planning Board ignored those concerns when it approved construction of a self-storage building on the property in 2017. 

Demolition of an auto repair building on the site soon followed, and excavation began on the project in 2020, but it has been beset by delays and interruptions ever since. The developer has not commented publicly on why the project has repeatedly stalled out, and the BACC has maintained a steady campaign of protests and rallies at the site, which have garned local, national and international media coverage. Elrich, the County Council and Congressman Jamie Raskin have all declined to intervene in the dispute, leading BACC to protest at their offices and public appearances. 

"Moses Cemetery is located in Mr. Raskin’s district," BACC said in a statement this week, "and we demand that he fight white supremacy in his own backyard as he purports to do on a national level." In the same statement, BACC calls Elrich's inaction on the issue "a clear allegiance to white supremacy." Raskin has said he is deferring to local officials on the matter, and Elrich - who walked in Dr. Martin Luther King's March on Washington and was active in the civil rights movement -  has maintained that he has no legal authority to intervene in the case.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Rockville purse snatcher uses key inside to steal car

A purse snatcher in Rockville managed to grab two handbags, and used the car key found inside one to add grand theft auto to their rapidly-growing rap sheet on September 15, 2023. Rockville City police say the suspect entered the rear door of a business in the 5700 block of Fishers Lane, and found purses belonging to two employees of the business on a table. Rifling through one, the suspect found a car key. The suspect used that key to steal that employee's car at 7:52 PM that evening. If you have any information about this incident or suspect, call Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Melashops to relocate next month at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

just can't settle down. The store made a big move downcounty from Lakeforest Mall in April to this space across from Urban Outfitters on Level 1 at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Now Melashops will make another move October 1, but one measured in yards rather than miles this time. It will fill the space vacated by Mulier across from Forever 21, also on Level 1. Melashops fills a unique niche in Montgomery County fashion retail, carrying apparel, jewelry, and accessories from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkiye, Afghanistan, and more.

Lining up for iPhone 15 at Montgomery Mall Apple Store (Photos)

There was still a short line of people lined up to be among the first to receive their iPhone 15 at the Apple Store at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda Saturday evening. We haven't seen the kind of camping-out-all-night spectacles that once greeted each new generation of iPhone in the last decade this time around. But a velvet rope seen nearby hinted that the line must have been significantly longer earlier in the day Saturday. The phones, and several other new Apple products, arrived in stores Friday. USB-C or bust!

Mulier opens at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

is now open in a new spot at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Named for the Latin word for "woman," the apparel boutique with several area locations has long touted its concept of everything in the store being $8.99 or less. Alas, America's high inflation has hit Mulier, and a sign outside the new store promises everything is now $9.99 or less. It helps if you ignore the smaller sign that notes "some products excluded." Look for Mulier on Level 1 of the mall, next to Luggage Plus.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Rockville garage assailant sought by police

Rockville City police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating the alleged assailant in a September 14, 2023 assault in a parking garage in the Town Center area. Police say the male suspect suddenly approached the male victim, and assaulted him. The victim does not know the suspect.

Police describe the suspect as a White male with a "very heavy build," 5'8" in height, and around 35-40 years old. The suspect was wearing a beard, black baseball cap and glasses at the time of the assault. If you have any information about this incident or suspect, call Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Maryland Supreme Court to hear appeal in Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition case

Maryland's Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear the appeal of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition to overturn a state appellate court ruling regarding the sale of property that includes a major portion of Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. The June ruling itself overturned an injunction by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Karla Smith, that froze the impending sale of Westwood Tower at 5401 Westbard Avenue to Charger Ventures. Charger Ventures withdrew its purchase offer following Smith's ruling, but Westwood Tower owner Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County appealed to the higher court and won. 

The Supreme Court's ultimate ruling in this case will have local and national implications for Black cemeteries, many of which are today in states of desecration and disrepair, hidden, or under threat from development. Moses African Cemetery is in all three categories. 

Smith ruled that HOC had entered a sale agreement without notifying the descendants of those buried in the cemetery, and without giving them a chance to weigh in on the sale, as required under Maryland law. Inexplicably, the appellate court found that following the law was not necessary.

This is a common occurrance when citizens challenge developers and powerful real estate interests in any Montgomery County or Maryland court. BACC noted yesterday that the Maryland Supreme Court only accepts about 15% of the certiorari petitions filed. But residents win over developers in our courts at an even lower rate than that, with judges blatantly ignoring statutory requirements on developers and planning authorities, as in the Westbard case. Smith, a relatively recent appointee to the Circuit Court in 2015, was a rare exception in ruling that the laws actually do apply to developers in Montgomery County.

Photo courtesy Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition

Tropical Storm Ophelia makes landfall, already impacting Maryland/Washington, D.C. area

Tropical Storm Ophelia has made landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, but the outer rain bands of the storm had already entered the Washington, D.C. area overnight. What will the impacts of Ophelia on the Rockville area be? The National Weather Service predicts rainfall amounts from 2-4" in the Montgomery County/Washington, D.C. area. High winds with gusts up to 45-55 MPH are also anticipated.

Montgomery County and Washington D.C. are under a National Weather Service-issued Wind Advisory from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM today. The NWS forecasts northeast winds of 20 to 30 MPH, with gusts up to 55 MPH expected. Gusts up to 50 mph are possible along the immediate shore of the Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Potomac. Ocean City, Maryland is experiencing street flooding and wind gusts up to 50 MPH.Secure any outdoor furniture or objects light enough to blow away, or bring them indoors.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has
declared a State of Emergency

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has declared a State of Emergency. "If you can avoid driving or being out during the storm, please do so," Moore said. "We are expecting an extended period of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated tides." Flooding, falling limbs, downed trees and power outages are expected.

Ophelia is currently located 25 miles WNW of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Its sustained winds measured at Cape Lookout are currently 61 MPH, with gusts up to 73 MPH. The storm is moving NNW at 9 MPH, and will affect the D.C. region through Sunday.

Heavy rainfall and sustained wind gusts will combine for conditions that favor trees falling, causing damage and power outages. Charge cellphones and make sure you have batteries for flashlights and radios.

WMATA reports Metrobus routes D33 Westbound and E4 Westbound are temporarily detouring at Military Road and 14th Street NW, and resuming their routes at Military Road and 16th Street NW, due to weather conditions. Pepco is reporting a few, small power outages in Gaithersburg at this hour.

Tracking map courtesy National Hurricane Center

Friday, September 22, 2023

Taiwan Bubble Tea Festival Saturday, September 23 in Rockville

The Taiwan Bubble Tea Festival will be held tomorrow, Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM at Rockville Town Square. A tropical storm is expected to generate heavy rain Saturday, but the festival organizers have stated the event will be held rain or shine, so carry an umbrella. There will be live music, dance performances, games, arts and crafts, and food vendors. Of course, there will also be bubble tea, and a chance to win a round trip flight from New York City to Taipei. For a full event schedule, see the official event website.

Indecent exposure reported at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police were called to Westfield Montgomery Mall early yesterday afternoon, Thursday, August 22, 2023, to investigate a report of indecent exposure. The incident was reported at the mall at 12:15 PM Thursday. No arrests were made for indecent exposure yesterday, according to Montgomery County data, suggesting the suspect remains at-large.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Will Jawando endorsed by Baltimore, Prince George's officials in Maryland U.S. Senate race

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando picked up the endorsements of four more Maryland elected officials in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D), who will retire in January 2025. Baltimore City Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett, Prince George’s County Councilmembers Krystal Oriadha and Wala Blegay, and Riverdale Park Town Councilmember Karen Mejia all put their support behind Jawando, who is positioning himself as the true progressive in the highly-competitive Democratic primary. Jawando's leading primary opponents are Total Wine founder and Congressman David Trone (D - MD 6th District), and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Convincing three more Prince George's officials to support him over their own county executive is a coup for Jawando, as Alsobrooks is facing questions about her newfound support for criminal justice reform, relative to her own prosecutorial record and statements during her service as Prince George's County State's Attorney. Jawando is seeking to follow the insurgent path of new Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who stunned many by blowing past moderate establishment figures like Comptroller Peter Franchot to capture Government House in November 2022. 

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of these four fantastic public servants," Jawando said in a statement Wednesday. "This campaign is based upon the belief that we can build a shared prosperity for all Marylanders, and with their support, achieving this dream is increasingly possible. They represent the next generation of leaders in our state who are stepping up and doing their part to build a better future where no one has to be worse off for their neighbor to do better."

"Over the coming weeks and months, my campaign will continue to expand into both Prince George’s and Baltimore city and county. The race is early, and anyone who tells you they know how things will shake out is mistaken. I have gained a sense from speaking with residents across our state that there is a deep frustration with the status quo, and they are looking for a U.S. Senator who can deliver for their communities. This is what I have done in Montgomery County, and it’s why I am running for the Senate."

Assault reported at Rockville nursing home

Rockville City police were called to a nursing home Tuesday, September 19, 2023, to investigate an assault reported there. The incident was reported at a nursing home in the 1800 block of E. Jefferson Street at 6:45 PM.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition to converge on Congressman Jamie Raskin's Washington, D.C. office today

Raskin touring the Moses African Cemetery site
with BACC President Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
earlier this year

Leaders and members of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition will converge on the Rayburn Office Building office of U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D - MD 8th District) this afternoon, Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 3:00 PM. The organization, which advocates for the desecrated Moses African Cemetery now hidden primarily on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda, says Raskin has ignored the cemetery issue despite being briefed on its history and visiting the site. BACC says it hopes to meet with Raskin during the office visit, and will demand he stop the ongoing desecration of the site, and call for a federal criminal investigation into all crimes committed at the cemetery since it was first disturbed in the 1960s.

Despite his awareness of the cemetery issues, Raskin has said he will continue to defer to Montgomery County officials rather than take action himself, BACC says. "The local officials he is referring to are the same who are responsible for the crimes," BACC argues in a press release. BACC says anyone wishing to participate in this afternoon's visit should meet outside the Independence Avenue entrance of the Rayburn Office Building at 2:30 PM. "BACC will continue to visit Jamie Raskin until it is clear that he will take action," organizers said in a statement.

Rockville mayor to discuss State of the City September 21

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton will participate in a discussion of the State of the City tomorrow morning, Thursday, September 21, 2023, at 9:00 AM at Glenview Mansion at 603 Edmonston Drive in Rockville. The discussion is being hosted by the Greater Rockville Chamber of Commerce. Brian Barkley, public policy chair for the Chamber, will lead the discussion and ask questions. Questions may be submitted in advance by emailing The event is free and open to the public.

Purse snatched at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a purse snatching at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda on Sunday afternoon, September 17, 2023. It was reported at the mall at 3:50 PM. The purse was left unattended, rather than being forcibly grabbed, in this case. Remember to keep an eye on your purse while shopping, as apparently someone else at the mall has an eye on it, too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando introduces bill to eliminate tipped minimum wage

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D - At-Large) introduced a bill today that would eliminate tipped minimum wages in the county by 2028. Restaurant servers, bartenders and other tipped service workers currently can be paid less than the County's minimum wage, because they theoretically will achieve the minimum wage amount through customer tips. Jawando's bill, which is also supported by Councilmember Kristin Mink (D), would phase out the tipped minimum wage over the next five years, and require restaurant owners to pay all staff the current County minimum wage. His U.S. Senate campaign is touting the bill as the latest example of Jawando's progressive leadership on the Council, at a time when his leading progressive opponent, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, is under fire from a new Intercept article that raises doubts about her past positions on crime and civil liberties issues.

“Even while running a high-stakes and fast-paced campaign for the U.S. Senate, Will is continuing to fight each and every day for his constituents in Montgomery County and embodying the core message of this campaign: to build a shared prosperity that lifts everybody up, no matter who you are or where you come from," Jawando's campaign communications director Benny Stanislawski said in a statement today. "Today’s bill is a perfect example of this, and his tried and true approach to public service. From successfully passing historic rent stabilization, to a pilot guaranteed income program, and community-informed policing in Montgomery County, Will is without a doubt the most effective legislator in the race. Today’s bill will likely become law and completely reshape the lived experience of countless working-class residents of the county."

Similar bills and laws in other jurisdictions have been highly-controversial and divisive. Restaurant owners fear their already-slim profit margins getting thinner, having to boost the wages they pay employees directly by more than $10 an hour each. Some servers and bartenders, who say they now regularly earn more than minimum wage via tips, have even opposed similar laws elsewhere. Their concern has been that word of the law - and the new service charges that restaurants add to customer tabs in the wake of their passage - will encourage customers to cut back or eliminate tipping altogether. Jawando does not believe this will be the case, but says he is proposing a second bill that would ensure service charges go to restaurant workers, rather than to the restaurant owners.

Police investigate assault at Rockville hotel

Rockville City police were called to a hotel after an individual reported having been the victim of an assault there yesterday morning, September 18, 2023. The assault was reported at a hotel in the 16000 block of Shady Grove Road at 10:09 AM Monday. That is the Red Roof Inn.

Rockville City Council candidate Izola Shaw announces endorsements

Izola Shaw
, a 2023 candidate for the Rockville City Council, announced a long list of endorsements at a fundraising event. Elected officials endorsing Shaw so far are Montgomery County Councilmembers Will Jawando and Kate Stewart, Gaithersburg City Councilmembers Lisa Henderson and Robert Wu, and former Rockville City Council member Virginia Onley. “I am proud to support Izola Shaw for Rockville City Council,” Jawando said in a statement Monday. “She has a proven track record of community service and policy experience. Our County has benefited from her dedicated work to advance equity.”

Shaw has also received the endorsement of several community leaders, activists and organizations. These include Progressive Maryland and CASA in Action. Among the individuals supporting Shaw are Rockville resident and community faith leader Rabbi Rain Zohav, Rockville resident and activist for peace Dr. Jeni Stepanek, community organizer Alex Vazquez, and Rockville resident and community organizer Sandy Shan. Also endorsing Shaw is Dr. Tasnuva Khan. In addition to her position as a the pharmacy manager at Adventist Shady Grove Hospital, Dr. Khan is a co-founder of the Muslim Voices Coalition, an activist for social justice, and a community organizer. She is also the project director of the Faith and Vaccines project at Resolve, a nongovernmental organization focused on social, health and environmental issues and partnerships.

“Izola Shaw is someone who ‘walks the walk,’" Rabbi Zohav said in a statement. "She demonstrates what it really means to reach out, engage, and empower people from all walks of life in the decisions that directly affect them. She embodies the values of love and respect for all of our neighbors — goals our community strives to build. For these reasons, especially at this moment in time, Izola Shaw is uniquely qualified to serve on the Rockville City Council.” 

Shaw has a professional background in community and economic development, having worked at all levels of government, and as a leader of development projects in 12 African countries. Closer to home in Rockville, Shaw has served as a member of the Rockville Charter Review Commission, where she focused on initiatives that could broaden civic involvement and outreach. During the pandemic, she successfully advocated for a temporary freeze on rent increases in the city.

"[My] vision for Rockville is simple yet powerful," Shaw said in a statement. "I want to ensure that all residents receive the quality services they need and have the opportunity to engage in making policies that directly impact their lives. No one should be left on the sidelines, and I have a unique ability to break down barriers to civic participation."

"You will hear a lot of buzzwords in this race like ‘government equity,' ‘diversifying our workforce’ and ‘more representation.’ If candidates are not working to build support from different communities across our beautiful diverse City and addressing those communities’ needs, then they are just words."

Shaw is running for the City Council as a member of the Rockville United slate in the November election.

Photo courtesy Friends of Izola Shaw