Sunday, April 14, 2024

Suspect arrested in Rockville Pike apartment tower burglary

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a burglary at the North Bethesda Market apartment tower at 11418 Rockville Pike, in the early morning hours of March 28, 2024. The responding officer found no evidence of forced entry, but property was allegedly stolen from the building. Malik Gillispie, 28, of no fixed address, was observed and arrested at the scene. He has been charged with 2nd-degree burglary, failure to identify himself, and using a false identity to avoid prosecution.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Music-blasting mohawk man nets Walgreens shoplifting haul in Rockville

A mohawk-sporting man stole "a large quantity of merchandise" from a Walgreens drugstore "while playing loud music," Rockville City police say. The man allegedly filled two reusable shopping bags and a shopping cart at the Walgreens store at 430 Hungerford Drive before fleeing the business at 10:40 AM on April 5, 2024.

Police describe the suspect as a Black male of thin-to-medium build, approximately 25 to 35 years old, with a light complexion, a mohawk and a full beard. If you have any information about this incident or the suspect, contact Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Larry Hogan sets fundraising record for a Maryland U.S. Senate candidate

The unexpected chance to flip a U.S. Senate seat was expected to boost the inflow of campaign cash into the Maryland this year, but former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has exceeded expectations, by setting a fundraising record for a U.S. Senate race in the heavily-Democratic state. Hogan has raised more than $3.1 million since his surprise last-minute entry into the contest on February 9, his campaign announced yesterday. That total marks the most raised by a Senate candidate in any quarter in state history, and outpaced the campaign of Democrat Angela Alsobrooks by $1 million in half the time. Alsobrooks is locked in a contentious Democratic primary race with billionaire David Trone, who is self-funding his campaign, and spending big on advertising.

Hogan greets a voter in
Leonardtown, Maryland yesterday

“Our team is incredibly humbled and grateful for the overwhelming amount of support and positive reception we have received across the state since announcing mid-February, and we are just getting started,” Hogan said in a statement Thursday. “In a race where we are likely to face either the billionaire trying to buy the election or the candidate of the Democratic machine, there is no doubt we are the financial underdog too. Every day, our focus is on getting our message out to Marylanders who are fed up and frustrated with politics as usual. It’s time to get back to work, fix the broken politics, and send a message to Washington!”

Hogan delivers fresh Dunkin' Donuts
to volunteer firefighters in
Prince Frederick, Maryland yesterday

Hogan is in the middle of a ten-day bus tour of the state. The tour coincides with the start of mail-in balloting in Maryland, as voters begin to receive their primary ballots in the mail this week.

Photos courtesy Hogan for Maryland, Inc.

Montgomery Mall 2024 assault numbers have already equaled total for all of 2023

The latest assault reported at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda brings the total number of assaults this year to five. That's the same number of assaults that were reported over the entire year of 2023 at the busy retail center. Montgomery County police responded to the latest incident at 3:10 PM on April 6, 2024, when an individual was allegedly the victim of a 2nd-degree assault. Should assaults continue to be reported at this pace, the 2024 number could be at least 15 assaults, which would exceed the record of 12 assaults set by the mall in 2022.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Woman attacked with hammer in Rockville Town Center

A woman was assaulted by a hammer-wielding man in the Rockville Town Center area early in the morning on April 7, 2024. The victim told Rockville City police that she was visiting the 200 block of N. Washington Street, and was approached by an unknown male subject at 3:25 AM. He suddenly produced a hammer, and struck her "on the face" with it, she said. 

The suspect then fled in a black SUV. No tag number for the getaway vehicle has been released, nor has a physical description of the alleged attacker. If you have any information about this incident or the suspect, contact Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Thief racks up $10,000 in tolls after stealing EZ-Pass from Rockville business

A thief has taken an expensive joyride after stealing an EZ-Pass toll transponder from a business in Rockville. The business has now received a bill for about $10,000 in toll charges from highways and bridges, according to Rockville City police. They say the EZ-Pass was stolen from a business in the 200 block of N. Stonestreet Avenue way back in December 2021. The charges apparently only came to the attention of the business recently, and they reported the theft to police on April 2, 2024.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Peter Chang opens in Gaithersburg

One of the D.C. area's top chefs chose an auspicious day to open the latest addition to his growing restaurant empire. Peter Chang's new Gaithersburg location at 637 N. Frederick Avenue celebrated its grand opening last night, following a rare solar eclipse. This is Chang's first tapas-style small plates concept. The restaurant also offers a Dim Sum menu. 

During the final countdown to Monday's opening, an artist worked to complete a colorful mural on the exterior of the building. The Gaithersburg venture joins Chang's other successful Montgomery County restaurants in downtown Bethesda, and at Rockville Town Square.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Poll finds Maryland voters nostalgic for the Larry Hogan era

A new poll conducted by the University of Maryland and The Washington Post had good news for U.S. Senate candidate Larry Hogan (R). The results indicated that registered Maryland voters were much more pleased with the direction of the state under former Gov. Hogan than they are during the current term of his successor, Gov. Wes Moore (D). At the end of Hogan's first four-year term in 2018, 63% of Maryland voters thought the state was moving in the right direction. Only 46% believe Maryland is moving in the right direction as of March 2024. 

In 2018 under Hogan, 29% of voters said Maryland was "on the wrong track." In 2024, 44% now believe the state is moving in the wrong direction. The poll was conducted between March 5 and 12, 2024, and surveyed 1004 registered Maryland voters. Legislators returning to their pre-Hogan ways of raising taxes, along with ongoing inflation pressures and suddenly-shaky state finances, may explain some of the nostalgia for the former Republican governor's era. A FY-2025 budget proposal from the Maryland General Assembly has proposed $350-$450 million in new taxes and fees, which Hogan contrasted on Twitter with his record of cutting taxes in each of his eight years in office, totaling $4.7 billion in tax relief.

The poll results shed more light on why Hogan is currently leading Democratic frontrunners David Trone and Angela Alsobrooks in polling for the U.S. Senate race. Hogan's late entry into the contest, and his lead in the polls, have moved Maryland from the irrelevant column nationally into one of the most-watched states as the November election approaches. Maryland could well determine whether Democrats or the GOP control the U.S. Senate in 2025. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Montgomery County's moribund economy just needs...more cowbell, Planning Dept. says

Montgomery County's moribund economy isn't a new problem. I've been writing about it for over a decade. In more recent years, The Washington Post editorial board has finally acknowledged that MoCo, once the economic engine of the Washington, D.C. region, has become stagnant - - though only in the service of their Ahab-like crusade against their chief nemesis, Marc Elrich. Even a handful of politicians have begun admitting it, from Elrich himself, to his twice-vanquished opponent David Blair, and even Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. But despite the arrival of more-powerful voices at the table, Montgomery County and Maryland's policies have yet to change. In fact, the Montgomery County Planning Department is now arguing that the solution is to double down on the failed path we've been on: "More cowbell!"

In a recent series on the department's relentlessly pro-developer blog, The Third Place, we find the latest example of the Montgomery County cartel phenomenon we might call, "Now more than ever..." Whatever the latest crisis to befall a sector, demographic or geographic area of the County, their solution is always the same: Build more luxury housing. Whether it's the moribund economy, failing schools, increasing poverty, or the decline of an area like Friendship Heights, our elected officials tell us the answer - "now more than ever" - is to build more luxury apartments.

The Third Place series is just the latest example of this "More cowbell!" argument. 

It is ostensibly a deep dive into the stagnation of the Montgomery County economy. But as the series advances beyond a deceptive twisting of statistics that aren't actually the root cause of the stagnation, it eventually arrives at a familiar conclusion - we need to build more luxury housing.

More cowbell!

Most residents will never read this blog series, but you the taxpayer are not the target audience, anyway. Like most reports generated by the Planning Department, the purpose is to provide Astroturf data and analysis our developer-funded elected officials can point to as justification for upzoning greater and greater areas of the County. But if a resident of one of the most highly-educated jurisdictions in America were to read this blog series, they would quickly sense that something is amiss.

For example, Part I classifies Montgomery County residents who make $138,750 and above as "high-income" residents. In the real world, that's called "barely-keeping-your-head-above-water" in Montgomery County. Many County residents skating by on maxed-out credit, the bank-of-Mom-and-Dad, and assorted other survival tactics would be shocked to learn that they are "rich." 

The reason for this low wealth bar becomes clear as you continue reading. It is a way to make it seem that the "rich" portion of the population has merely remained constant. In reality, the flight of the rich from Montgomery County has been well-documented, down to the amount of tax revenue in millions that those wealthy expats have taken with them to lower-tax jurisdictions in the area. 

Were we to classify "high-income" more accurately, we would see that those numbers have declined significantly. The exodus has been most clearly seen in Montgomery County plummeting entirely off of the Forbes Top Ten Richest Counties list last decade, and in the collapse of "Montgomery County's Rodeo Drive" in Friendship Heights, which in recent years has become a stretch of aging apartment buildings and vacant storefronts.

As the rich have fled, they have been replaced - and then some - by low-income residents. The Third Place acknowledges this. "Specifically, our analysis shows that between 2005 and 2022, Montgomery County’s low-income population grew faster than the other groups. Montgomery County’s middle-income population shrank." Charles, Frederick, Howard, Loudoun, and Prince William counties can surely attest to the latter, as they've welcomed those cash-strapped, taxed-to-death MoCo refugees, along with the Virginia exurbs.

While that tax revenue has flowed outward, our business growth has dropped to the lowest in the region. Our job creation numbers have collapsed, and even fallen behind Prince George's County in recent years. And Montgomery County hasn't attracted a single major corporate headquarters in over a quarter century, a time frame that neatly dovetails with the MoCo cartel's seizure of the County Council in 2002 with the "End Gridlock" slate. As does the shift of population growth to the bottom of the income scale.

What urgent strategic and policy changes does The Third Place recommend to turn the tide, and attract the business and commercial revenue we need?

"The main, actionable takeaway from this research is to encourage the production of market-rate infill housing."

We know, of course, that "market-rate" housing in Montgomery County is expensive. There's no shortage of expensive housing in the County. We also know, from hard experience since 2002, that massive construction of new luxury housing does not reduce rents or home prices. Period. And because new residential housing generates more costs in County services than it does in tax revenue, building more won't solve our structural budget deficit. Much less restore our moribund economy.

Did the rich flee Montgomery County because home prices were too cheap? Not quite. Would middle class residents return en masse from the exurbs if we produced more $1 million townhomes and $2 million duplexes? Nope.

What would actually make Montgomery County a booming jurisdiction, make it possible for more residents to afford living here, and fill the County's revenue coffers? High-wage jobs from major corporate employers. 

The Third Place worries that currently, "there will be nowhere for affordable-housing residents to go once they are ready to upgrade." But it doesn't explain how janitors, cooks and grocery store bakers will suddenly be flush with the cash needed to buy that luxury housing that The Third Place wants to overdevelop even more than today. 

Here's a hint: Jobs. Good jobs. The kind we haven't been attracting to Montgomery County for a couple of decades now.

Gov. Wes Moore seems to understand this, noting that Maryland's economy today simply can't provide the revenue to fund his ambitious agenda. This year's legislative session in Annapolis seems to indicate that his message fell on deaf ears among his General Assembly colleagues. Likewise, Elrich has come around to the idea that the County should be attracting high-wage jobs. But his legislative colleagues on the County Council haven't joined him yet. 

The cumulative impact of elected officials who write the laws remaining stubborn in their ways - and loyal to the real estate developers who elected them - will only hasten the exit of wealth and revenue from Montgomery County. In addition to the massive property and recordation tax hikes passed last year, low and middle-income workers will soon be paying several hundred dollars to register their work trucks and soccer mom minivans. A 75-cent tax on every Uber ride. Even a $1.25 more on each pack of smokes. All of these are extremely regressive taxes.

A quick look at the press release pages of Gov. Moore and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gives just a small sense of the problem. Both men have Rolodexes stuffed with Wall Street and corporate connections. Surprisingly, Moore has so far failed to convince any of his friends in the Hamptons or Martha's Vineyard to relocate their Fortune 500 companies to Maryland. And that's even amid a downward trend for Virginia under Youngkin. The GOP 2028 aspirant's announcements of new, major corporate headquarters relocating to the Old Dominion have come at a much more sporadic pace than under his two Democratic predecessors.

But even as Virginia begins to flounder a bit, and budget woes creep up on legislators in Arlington and Fairfax counties who have begun to follow the big-spending ways of MoCo, we have not been able to seize any momentary advantage.

Not only has Youngkin failed to tee up many big wins, but when he does, he now has a legislature that is more like the one in Annapolis to block him. That's partly his own fault, for bizarrely making the last state election about abortion, a sure losing crusade even in red states - much less a blue one like Virginia. And he even turned away a Ford electric vehicle battery plant. Tired of winning, perhaps?

Yet, even as Virginia slips into a lower economic gear, 2024 has brought another major corporate HQ to Virginia. CoStar - which once was headquartered in Bethesda(!!), before fleeing to the District in 2010 - purchased the 1201 Wilson Boulevard office tower in Rosslyn for its new global HQ. It will bring its existing 500 jobs, and add 150 additional jobs in its new Virginia home. 

CoStar joins Northrup Grumman, Capital One, Hilton Hotels, Volkswagen, Lidl, Intelsat, Gannett, General Dynamics, Blackboard, Corporate Executive Board, Nestle, Gerber, Lego, and the rest of a truly-headspinning list of household-name companies to select Northern Virginia over Montgomery County in recent times.

During the same Q1 period in Maryland, Gov. Moore was only able to announce the relocation of Blink Charging Co. from Florida to Bowie. That's certainly a positive and welcome development, but it's not a major or Fortune 500 company. The number of existing corporate expansions in Maryland so far this year has also been dwarfed by the number in Virginia. 

Over the first three months of 2024, Gov. Youngkin issued press releases announcing 9 other new or expanding businesses adding jobs to the state. During the same period, Maryland only had 2, another resounding defeat in regional competition.

It was encouraging news that when Moore received the phone call about the Key Bridge collapse, he was on an unannounced business trip to Boston. This at least shows he may currently be working on something big behind the scenes.

Montgomery County was once the place where such big economic development news was made in the DC region. What I've argued for over a decade has been further vindicated by the collapse of the office market after the pandemic rise of working-from-home. 

We need to be attracting major corporate headquarters, and research and manufacturing facilities, from the aerospace, defense and tech sectors. These are the sectors that need large, secure campuses in suburban office parks, the kind we - thankfully, for now - still have plenty of. And room to build plenty more. The anonymous apologists for the County Council said I was a fool, and that companies wanted to be in traditional office buildings by Metro stations in urban areas. 

It turns out I was right. "Now more than ever," you might say.

Currently, the ever-increasing and regressive tax burden caused by our elected officials' profligate spending is falling almost entirely on residents. We are leaving all of the commercial, business tax revenue - and income revenue from high-wage jobs, on the table for our rivals in Virginia, for whom we've become a bedroom community. 

By adopting more-competitive business policies, adding missing infrastructure like a new Potomac River crossing to provide direct access to Dulles International Airport, and being aggressive in attracting the evergreen industries that provide high-income employment in good times and bad, we can ease the tax and fee burden on residents. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Thief ransacks unlocked vehicles in Rockville neighborhood

A thief "ransacked" several unlocked vehicles parked in the King Farm neighborhood, Rockville City police say. The cars were parked in the 1100 block of Pleasant Drive, and were not damaged. Police say the unknown suspect managed to find a vehicle key, loose change, a sun shade, and a flashlight.

The thefts occurred on March 28 or 29, 2024. Remember to lock your vehicle, remove all valuables visible through windows, and never leave your keys in the ignition or glove compartment. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

WSSC seeks public comment on proposed new Damascus Town Center Wastewater Pumping Station

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is moving forward with a plan to replace the Damascus Town Center Wastewater Pumping Station, and is receiving public comment on the proposal between now and May 4, 2024. As planned, the existing pumping station would be demolished, and a new one would be constructed about 1500 linear feet north of that location at 26701 Woodfield Road. The existing pumping station is now outmoded, the utility said.

The replacement facility would be a wet well and valve vault-style pumping station. It would include an electrical and control building, paving and fencing with an access gate, landscaping, a gravity sewer, a low-pressure sewer force main, a water main, and associated infrastructure to "pump sewage out of the proposed pump station and into the collection system.

Alas, the project plans are not provided online for the public. Instead, they are available for public review in-person at the WSSC at 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, Maryland 20707 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Public comment is only accepted in written form, and can be mailed to Tanweer Baig, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, Maryland 20707, or emailed to

Dunkin' Donuts temporarily closed at Wintergreen Plaza in Rockville (Photos)

The Dunkin' Donuts store at 865 Rockville Pike at Wintergreen Plaza is temporarily closed. An extensive renovation project is now underway inside the space. A reopening date has not been announced yet. Customers are being directed to the Dunkin' Donuts locations nearby at 11530 Rockville Pike, and 2006 Veirs Mill Road. However, I'm going to add the store at 15180 Frederick Road at College Plaza to that list, which seems like it might be closer to Wintergreen Plaza than White Flint.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Police respond to assault at library in Rockville

Rockville City police were called to the Rockville Memorial Library at 21 Maryland Avenue on Monday, April 1, 2024, after an individual reported being the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at the library at 12:50 PM Monday. The library is located at Rockville Town Square.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Walnut Hill Shopping Center seeks Sheetz-related parking waivers from Gaithersburg

Walnut Hill Shopping Center
is seeking approval of changes to its parking lot, and waivers for smaller drive aisles in several spots around the lot, from the City of Gaithersburg. The retail property was recently annexed into the City, and is making many improvements and alterations to successfully bring add an Aldi grocery store and Sheetz convenience store to its tenant roster. Because the future Sheetz will take up a portion of the existing surface parking lot, a reconfiguration of the rest of the parking spaces on the lot is necessary. Walnut Hill is arguing that maintaining a sufficient number of spaces will require waivers to allow several drive aisles to be narrower than allowed under City code.

The drive aisles proposed in several locations around the parking lot would be 20 to 24 feet in width. City of Gaithersburg code requires drive aisles with two-way traffic to be 26' in width. The Gaithersburg Planning Commission will take up the waiver request at its meeting tonight, April 3, 2024, at 7:30 PM. City staff are recommending approval of the waiver request, and have advised that the other proposed changes - which involve adding green space to the parking lot (shown in green on the map below) - be addressed when the site plan for the Sheetz is submitted for approval at a later date.

Armed robbery at Derwood gas station

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery at a gas station in Derwood early Monday night, April 1, 2024. The robbery was reported at a gas station in the 15800 block of Frederick Road, across from the King Farm neighborhood of Rockville, at 6:21 PM Monday. A firearm was the weapon used in the robbery.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Torchy's Tacos opening in Rockville

Torchy's Tacos
has leased the former Chuy's space at Federal Plaza on Rockville Pike, according to signage posted in the windows. Chuy's closed at 12266 Rockville Pike in 2020. 

Like Chuy's, Torchy's has an apostrophe "S," was founded in Austin, Texas, and owns all of its locations rather than license franchises. Unlike Chuy's, Torchy's leans more toward the fast casual model, and less toward a decor that looks like a freight train carrying a shipment of hubcaps crashed into a Texas flea market. 

Torchy's does have a full-service bar, unlike most fast-casual restaurants, however, and relies on a very simple marketing gimmick of serving "damn good" tacos. Which sets the bar very high, as Torchy's will live or die on the Pike based on the first few bites taken by customers, who are a short drive from Taco Bamba, Nada, and El Mariachi in Rockville, not to mention Tacos Don Perez in Glenmont.

Rockville school broken into over holiday weekend

Rockville City police responded to a report of a burglary early Friday afternoon at Meadow Hall Elementary School at 951 Twinbrook Parkway. The burglary was reported at 1:13 PM Friday. Officers arriving at the scene found entrance of forced entry at the school. The school was closed at the time of the burglary for the holidays.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Maryland officials knew for decades that a ship could cause Baltimore's Key Bridge to collapse

The only thing more shocking than the total collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore last week was the number of speculative conjectures stated by elected and appointed officials in the hours after it was struck by a container ship. Federal and state officials almost immediately declared it had not been a terrorist attack. While there has so far been no evidence whatsoever showing the crash was intentional, there had not been adequate time to investigate sufficiently to entirely rule it out at the time they made that declaration. More importantly, the claim was made - and then repeated ad nauseum by the media - that any type of bridge would have completely collapsed in this scenario. An investigative report published by The Washington Post this past Saturday has determined that claim to be false. 

A collapse of a similar bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida following a ship collision in 1980 resulted in federal authorities alerting highway agencies to review all bridges, to find out how many might have the same vulnerability, the Post learned. An engineer with the Maryland Department of Transportation confirmed to The Baltimore Sun that year that the Key Bridge was one of the state's bridges that fell into that category. "I'm talking about the main supports, a direct hit - it would knock it down," he told the Sun. 

Despite learning this in 1980, state and federal officials took no action to construct barriers or islands around the Key Bridge's support columns. "They had all this time to realize the danger, and it appears to me they did nothing about it," Florida attorney Steve Yerrid told the Post. Yerrid was a lawyer for the pilot of the ship that struck the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. "Maryland officials should have moved aggressively to protect their bridges from collisions, despite the costs," the Post cited Yerrid as saying.

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy also put to rest the idea that "no bridge could have survived this crash." She said the bridge designs of today have "redundancy" built in, so that the loss of one pier doesn't cause a total collapse. In contrast, Maryland officials knew that the Key Bridge was among the thousands of "fracture critical" bridges in America. "Fracture critical" means that "if one key piece fails, part or all of the bridge would likely collapse," the Post reported.

America's crumbling infrastructure is often in the news, but rarely in state and federal budgets. We know that trillions of dollars that could have been spent on new bridges and highway maintenance, high speed rail, utility networks, healthcare, poverty, housing for the homeless and other essential needs have instead gone to costly wars overseas, as just one example of nonsensical spending priorities.

Senator Chuck Schumer is reportedly having difficulty finding $10 million to correct major infrastructure issues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology campus right here in Gaithersburg, deficiencies that are currently threatening national security and the health of NIST employees. But the U.S. government had no difficulty finding $75 billion for the Ukraine War, at least $3 trillion for the Iraq War, $2.3 trillion for the Afghanistan War, $2.2 billion of weapons for rebels against the government of Syria, $17 billion on a military adventure in the former Yugoslavia, a $100 million drone base in Niger...the list goes on and on, and most of the money goes into the private profit pockets of the military-industrial complex. None of those outlays has resulted in a successful geopolitical victory for the United States.

At the same time, Maryland elected officials have spent big and repeatedly raised taxes since 1980. The completely-preventable collapse of the Key Bridge forces us to now evaluate just which frivolous things - and campaign donors - our representatives have spent all that tax revenue on instead.

In many photo-ops over the last week, our elected officials have striven to give us the impression they are here to save us from an economic catastrophe that also cost at least six human lives. As the Post report proves, they were actually the problem in the first place, having failed to act to modify or replace the Key Bridge for 44 years.

Another assault at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to the third assault reported in a month at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda this past Friday night, March 29, 2024. A 2nd-degree assault was reported at the popular retail center at 8:30 PM Friday. Two other March assaults were reported at the mall, on March 1, and March 21.

The violent crime pace at the mall continues to increase in 2024, with four assaults in the first three months of the year. Only five assaults were reported in all of 2023 at the mall, which was a great improvement over the twelve that took place on the mall property in 2022. An armed robbery was also reported at the mall on March 25.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Strong-arm robbery at Rockville restaurant

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at a restaurant in Rockville early Thursday afternoon, March 28, 2024. The robbery was reported at a restaurant in the 2200 block of Veirs Mill Road at 1:35 PM; police arrived only four minutes later. That's in the area of the Twinbrook Center.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Rockville food delivery drivers gone wild, Part II

Bad behavior by food delivery drivers in Rockville has landed them back on the radar of Rockville's finest again. Rockville City police were called to a restaurant on Maryland Avenue at Rockville Town Square at 8:04 PM on March 20, 2024, after a driver began behaving erratically while picking up an order. 

A female restaurant employee told officers that the driver approached her from behind, and "hovered" there. The driver then "aggressively" grabbed the bagged order from the employee, knocking her off-balance. 

Police have not released a physical description of the driver, whose identity they say remains unknown at this time. No word if the driver asked the "inappropriate question," however.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Paul Wharton, Ashley Darby to host spring fashion show at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

TV stars Paul Wharton and Ashley Boalch Darby will co-host a cherry blossom-inspired spring fashion show at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda next week. "Spring Fever" will be held on Level 1 in the Nordstrom wing of the mall next Friday, April 5, 2024, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The fashion show will feature spring ensembles from Macy's, J.Crew, Nordstrom, Under Armour, White House | Black Market, Madewell, Free People, Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines, and bespoke artist Maggie O'Neill.

Discounts and free-gifts-with-purchases will be offered from stores and boutiques at the mall. Entertainment will include a mobile photo booth and music by DJ OZ. Cherry blossom decor from woman-owned design atelier Brightly Ever After will bloom throughout the mall. Westfield Montgomery Mall is also launching a month-long clothing drive benefitting Montgomery County non-profit Interfaith Works. A donation of your gently used clothing will give you the chance to win exclusive discounts, gifts, and treats from participating retailers.

You can RSVP for the fashion show now online. The event is free.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Robbery at knifepoint at Rockville apartment building

Rockville City police responded to a report of an armed robbery at an apartment complex early Tuesday morning, March 26, 2024. The victim reported being held up at knifepoint at an apartment building in the 100 block of E. Argyle Street at 2:41 AM Tuesday. That is a garden apartment complex a few blocks south of the Rockville Town Center area.

Assault at Target in Rockville

Montgomery County police were called to the Target store at 5700 Bou Avenue on Sunday afternoon, March 24, 2024, after a 2nd-degree assault was reported there. The assault was reported at the store at 2:44 PM Sunday. At least one person was also accused of shoplifting in the incident.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Assault at Rockville bus stop

Rockville City police are investigating a 2nd-degree assault at a bus stop in the Rockville Town Center area, which was reported early Monday afternoon, March 25, 2024. The assault was reported at a bus stop in the 300 block of N. Washington Street at 12:14 PM Monday. That's in the vicinity of the Montgomery County Government-operated liquor store.

Armed robbery reported at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda late Monday afternoon. The robbery was reported at the mall at 5:04 PM Monday. A knife was the weapon employed in the robbery.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Contents of Rockville restaurant to be auctioned off

A Rockville Chinese buffet restaurant "is shutting its doors and making a complete liquidation," according to Capital Online Auctions. The contents of Bamboo Buffet at 2010 Veirs Mill Road in the Twinbrook Center will be auctioned off online beginning Thursday, March 28, 2024. If you are a current or aspiring restaurateur, just about everything you would need will be available to the highest bidder, from kitchen equipment to buffet tables and seating. Some items, like chairs and tables, are being auctioned off in lots of 2 to 12 pieces, for example. There's even some impressive decor for display in your home or office.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Chili's boarded up on Rockville Pike (Photos)

For the disciplined secret government team in charge of preventing all-American casual restaurant chains from opening in Montgomery County - or pushing them out if they're already here - the mission has its ups and downs. For every Olive Garden or Cracker Barrel blocked from leasing a pad site, for every abandoned bank on River Road that mysteriously can't become a drive-thru Chick-fil-A or Taco Bell cash cow, for every Ruby Tuesday or P.F. Chang's that closes its doors forever, there's a Cheesecake Factory that just keeps chugging along, or a new Outback Steakhouse set to open just when you'd finished smiling about the one in Germantown closing. But, if they take a break from crafting new anti-business legislation or arcane zoning blockades, here's a scene they can enjoy at 11428 Rockville Pike: the Chili's that closed in 2016 has just been boarded up.

Chili's successfully operated this location for 25 years. Let's take a moment to remember the many business deals closed over two Spicy Sauza JalapeƱo Margarita lunches, the Gap-dress-code happy hours, and the romantic date night window views of Fitz Auto Mall and gas stations. Even Mike Pence enjoys dining at Chili's. You can't, because there are no more Chili's in Montgomery County, one more ubiquitous brand stunned visitors will incredulously remind you is in every other jurisdiction in America but here.

"Let's go to Olive Garden."

"There is no Olive Garden."

"Whaaaaaaaat??????? You're joking, right? OK, what about Cracker Barrel?"

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Police investigating shots-fired incident in Derwood

Montgomery County police are investigating a shots-fired incident that occurred in the 15800 block of Frederick Road in Derwood, near King Farm, on March 14, 2024. Witnesses who heard gunfire around 7:34 PM that evening called police. A suspect in the shooting is described by police only as a Black male of unknown age. Anyone with any information about this incident or suspect is asked to call police at (301) 279-8000.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Ficker: David Trone's racial slur shows word was "on the tip of his tongue"

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate
David Trone (D)

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate David Trone (D), in his current role as representative for the state's 6th Congressional District, used a racial slur when speaking to a Black woman during a committee hearing on Thursday. Trone later issued a statement apologizing for using the word, claiming he had meant to use the term "bugaboo" instead. "That word has a long, dark, terrible history," Trone said of the slur in his statement. "It should never be used any time, anywhere, in any conversation." While Trone characterized his language as a mere gaffe, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Robin Ficker suggested it was more of a Freudian slip.

“I am appalled by David Trone’s use of this vile word, especially when addressing a black woman," Ficker said in a statement Friday. "That terrible word does not simply slip out of someone’s mouth unless it is constantly on the tip of their tongue. Trone’s attempt to pass this off as a harmless mistake is an affront to the voters’ intelligence."

Trone's unforced error couldn't have come at a worse time. Days earlier, a poll showed that former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was far ahead of Trone and Democratic rival Angela Alsobrooks in the contest for outgoing U.S. Senator Ben Cardin's seat. The poll also showed that despite months of relentless, unskippable YouTube ads, Trone is not a a familiar name to most registered voters statewide.

Yet, the poll had only underlined the fact that the Democratic National Committee badly needs Trone and his personal wealth to defeat Hogan this fall. The entry into the race by popular former governor Hogan, who still enjoys bipartisan support and goodwill, means Republican donations and dark money will be pouring into a state that now represents a flippable seat in the Senate. But by the end of the week, Trone had wounded himself badly with his out-of-left-field use of a racial slur.

Trone now finds himself in a similar predicament as two of his Democratic colleagues in Virginia, as well as former Virginia Gov. George Allen (R). In 2019, then-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and then-Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) were revealed to have worn blackface as adults. Northam was also accused of being one of two men in a yearbook photograph, whose identities were hidden by Ku Klux Klan robes and blackface. Northam initially admitted he was one of the two men in the photo, without identifying which one, but later retracted his confession. 

Allen used a racial slur when addressing a tracker from a rival campaign who was videotaping him at a campaign event in 2006. Despite yeoman's work by The Washington Post to revive Northam and Herring's prospects - and Northam's bizarre framing of collective penance by the state for his personal racist acts - Virginia voters had the last word, firing Herring during the 2021 election. The political careers of all three Virginians were ended by the episodes. But they gave voters a window into the world of politicians who profess one thing in daylight, but hold contrasting mores and values privately.

Those lessons show the real political hot water Trone is now in. The woman he was addressing when a racial slur came to his mind was Black. His leading Democratic primary opponent is Black. And Maryland is one of the American states where Black voters have decisive power. No one can win a statewide election here if they are strongly opposed by African-American voters.

Hogan has not yet issued a public statement on Trone's use of the slur. Ficker, in his statement, recapped his political record on civil rights, including his participation in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "Aside from marching with Dr. [Martin Luther] King, last year, I was asked to be on the hospitality committee for the 60th Reunion of the March led by Martin Luther King, III," Ficker recounted. "In 1976, I was appointed by Rosa Parks to be the first general counsel for the National Caucus on Black Aging."

"Unlike Congressman Trone, I have a track record of supporting the black community, instead of just giving them lip service," Ficker said. "I’m incredibly proud of my work to advance racial equality, and I will always be a friend to the Black community in the Senate.”

Strong-arm robbery near Rockville Metro station

Rockville City police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery in an industrial area near the Rockville Metro station late Wednesday afternoon, March 20, 2024. The robbery was reported in the 100 block of N. Stonestreet Avenue at 5:38 PM. It occurred along the street on a busy block with many repair shops.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Assault at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda yesterday afternoon, March 21, 2024. The assault was reported at the mall at 3:06 PM Thursday. This is the third assault committed at the mall this year. Like the first two in 2024, yesterday's assault was related to a shoplifting incident at a store in the mall. 

The mall is currently on a pace to equal the number of assaults reported at the popular retail center in 2022, which was 12. That would be more than double the total assault reports at the mall last year, when only 5 such incidents were reported. Last year's drop in violent crime at the property came after Montgomery County police established a "resource room" inside the mall.