Showing posts with label 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2013. Show all posts

Friday, December 13, 2013


Anyone who walks home from the Twinbrook Metro station should be extra aware of his or her surroundings. Three women have been robbed of their purses in the Twinbrook neighborhood recently, after walking home from the Twinbrook Metro station around 8-10 PM.

All three women were walking alone; one received a head injury, and was dragged along the sidewalk until the suspect was able to get her purse. She was hospitalized for treatment. The locations of the attacks were Lemay Road and Ridgeway Avenue (December 5), Stanley Avenue and Matthews Drive (December 7), and Lemay Road and Holland Road (December 8).

The best description available of the suspect(s) currently is a 6 foot tall man wearing a dark-blue hoodie, black pants, light brown boots, and gray baseball cap with a red stripe. In each case, the suspect has assaulted the victim by striking or shoving her to the ground.

If it is necessary to walk home from the Metro station, take extra precautions and have your cellphone ready to dial 911 if necessary. Anyone who has a tip for Rockville Police in these cases, can call investigators at 240-214-8938. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Now that we know what time the stores open at Westfield Montgomery Mall on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the question is, what are the deals?!

Here is the complete list of Black Friday deals at the mall as of this morning, and here are highlights of some of the best to help you plan:


• RCA 32” Class 720p 60Hz LED TV for only $179.99 (Save $60)
• Craftsman 220pc Mechanics Tool Set with Case $99.99 (regular $129.99)
• All DieHard work boots only $44.99 (regular $65-$105)
• Women’s sweaters from $9.99
• Juniors Bongo sweaters and skinny jeans from $12.99
• 50% off bras and panties
• Sleepwear sets from $9.99
• 50% off cosmetic kits
• 60% off jewelry boxes and more!


50% off 1st full priced item, 40% off remainder of purchase


$9.99 –your choice: coffee maker, griddle, waffle maker, rocket blender, toaster, slow cooker, deep fyer, Panini maker, pressure cooker, or blender; sharper image action camera $49.99; Tag Fairfield III 5-piece luggage set $49.99; 30% off Impulse apparel from Kensie, Lucky Brand, Miss Me, Rachel Rachel Roy, Bar III & more


30%-50% off select full price and sale items through closing


40% off Entire Store until closing


Open from 8pm, November 28; Entire store 50% off until 12noon 40% off after 12noon


50% off toys; 36 pack of AAA or AA batteries; **Samsung Galaxy S4 $49.00** (all carriers)


50% OFF EVERYTHING Including markdowns! Not combinable with any other offers or promotions. DOORBUSTERS 6AM Until 10AM Black Friday! Catch them while you can! While quantities last. Not combinable with other offers


50% off entire store 8pm-6am Thanksgiving/Black Friday; 40% off from 6am-10pm Black Friday


50% off the entire store. $10 Fleece doorbusters. Free holiday bear with a purchase of $75 or more


50% off entire store!


Buy 1 Get 1 50% off (of equal or lesser value) through the entire store Midnight-10pm 11/29

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


With the 2013 Rockville Mayor and Council election results in, we know who won. But why did they win, and what messages are the voters sending to government through their choices?

There are no exit polls, and we don't have much information about what parts of the city most actively turned out to vote. But we can draw some preliminary conclusions today:

1. Rockville voters prize comity over policy.

Just about all we heard about during the final weeks of the election was the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. And turnout at a public hearing on that issue was large, organized, and just about unanimously opposed to altering the APFO. But yesterday, voters elected only one candidate who aligns with that position, new mayor Bridget Newton. Is that a contradiction?

On paper, yes. But many in Rockville have been critical of the ongoing squabbling between factions during Mayor and Council meetings. A high profile example of diplomacy trumping policy is former mayor Jim Coyle.

Coyle, a highly-regarded leader in the city, was arguably one of the most effective speakers opposing the high-density, mixed-use draft Rockville Pike plan in 2011. But in the election, he endorsed Team Rockville, which favors more growth on the Pike than its independent challengers did. This is a contradiction. However, Coyle has been outspoken in his belief that the city worked better when it elected slates that had general agreement on broad issues. The results suggest a number of voters agreed with Coyle.

2. East Rockville may have been a factor.

East Rockville, like Twinbrook, has been taking the brunt of development side effects, and not getting a lot of attention from politicians. It is also an area seeing an increase in young professionals. Those two trends might be among several reasons Julie Palakovich Carr received the most votes. As she mentioned in the debates, residents of East Rockville are displeased about a number of issues. Displeased voters vote. Politically-engaged young professionals likely saw Palakovich Carr as someone like them: of a newer generation, but wanting to be actively involved in the city. And she was very effective in bringing up practical issues like crime and rat control in East Rockville during the debates.

3. Among voters who did their homework on the candidates, a majority favored denser, urban-style growth for Rockville.

Was it that pro-development voters turned out in greater numbers? There is a contradiction to that, in that they elected a mayor who does not favor that type of growth. But with a 3 vote majority carrying on all issues, Mayor-Elect Newton will face a challenge in stopping it. Palakovich Carr and Virginia Onley, in particular, expressed some reservations about the Rockville Pike Plan during the debates, suggesting they did not entirely share their Team Rockville colleagues' growth agenda. If they hold to that independent streak, there could be room for Newton to reach compromises on height, density and other provisions. But, if you are a developer, you have to be feeling fairly good about the election results this morning.

4. Start early, or form a slate.

The only thing more embarrassing than the low turnout was the lack of candidates running. Don Hadley and Claire Marcuccio felt compelled to enter the race late, knowing they were at a disadvantage, because they could not believe no one else besides Team Rockville was running. The fact that Hadley was just about 80 votes short of winning the fourth seat suggests that he would have won if he had had more time. He had not planned to run, of course, so it was not poor planning on his part. But it is a good example for any candidate who sat out this time, that someone favoring more responsible growth can win if they have sufficient time to make the case with voters.

And if slates remain in favor, it may be necessary to form them to win.

5. Voters want Newton to be a check on Team Rockville.

Newton does not have the votes to stop a 4-1 decision. But the mayor does have power to control the agenda, steer policy, and make appointment nominations. This means that, for example, Newton can continue to fill Planning Commission vacancies over the next two years with residents who share her principles on development and growth.

The ballot question results also speak to voters sending a nuanced message: Yes, we want you to have more time in office, but we want active, engaged voters to have their voices heard in off-year elections.

6. There's much we won't know until this council begins work November 18.

Is it really a 4-1 split? Will independent thoughts, and the message voters have sent about cooperation, allow for alliances to form on various issues? My guess would be that it's possible. Citizens will be the best judge, and will play an important role at Citizens Forum and during public hearings, in communicating their concerns and priorities to the new Mayor and Council. This has certainly been the most across-the-board qualified group of candidates to run - to a person - in my time following Rockville politics. So, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics play out over the next 2 years.


Complete 2013 Rockville Election results: Click here

During the recent federal government shutdown, some argued that electing more women to Congress would end its legislative gridlock. But can electing more women to the Rockville city council have the same effect on a body recently criticized for bickering between factions? The city is about to find out.

No public list of past councilmembers is available online, as best I can tell. But the next Mayor and Council certainly contains the highest number of women members (4) in my recollection, if not in the history of Rockville. Voters yesterday chose a woman (Bridget Newton) as mayor for the third consecutive time since Mayor Larry Giammo left office. And the top votegetter in the council race was a woman, as well (Julie Palakovich Carr).

Tom Moore will be the sole male elected official in Rockville for this term of office.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Former Montgomery County School Board member Laura Berthiaume has released a letter strongly endorsing Bridget Newton for mayor, and Don Hadley and Claire Marcuccio Whitaker for city council, in today's Rockville election.

Berthiaume also provides a detailed analysis she says proves that keeping the city's strong Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) in place - as the three candidates she endorsed have promised to do - will not prevent schools from being built in the future.

Recent attempts to weaken the APFO have been presented to suggest the ordinance was responsible for Montgomery County Public Schools not adding school facilities in Rockville. Berthiaume's provided evidence demonstrates that the APFO was not to blame in any of those instances. Rather, other issues at the county level interfered, Berthiaume writes.

Instead, Berthiaume argues strongly for keeping the APFO guidelines in place to prevent even more overcrowding in Rockville public schools. She says that Rockville Pike development will add
4-6000 new units alone. By 2016, Julius West Middle School will have more students than many small colleges, she notes.

"Do you want to see our sole middle school handling 1,800 or more students by 2020?," Berthiaume asks fellow voters in her letter.  "Please ask yourselves that question as you go in to vote [today]."

"It seems to me that one set of candidates [Team Rockville slate] favors essentially unlimited residential construction along 355, no matter the impact on our schools, while three excellent candidates will protect our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) standards," she writes.

Her letter concludes:

"If you care about our children --or if you are just the sort of person who doesn't want to live in Crystal City - and never did - I ask you to please go out [today] and vote for Bridget Newton for Mayor, and Don Hadley and Claire Whitaker for Council."

Whitaker has also been endorsed by Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, Senator Jennie Forehand, and Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


On Tuesday, October 29, all candidates for Rockville Mayor and Council participated in a debate sponsored by the Rockville Senior Citizens Commission, at the Rockville Senior Center.

The senior center itself is a reminder of the issues at hand in this election. Like several other public sites in Rockville (the Rockville Swim Center and Montgomery College, to name a few) the Senior Center property is designed to give the impression that one is surrounded by woods. What percentage of voters identify with Rockville as a suburban town, and how many want it to take on an urban feel?

The city's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance remains a hot button issue, as does the issue of debt load vs. easy financing of public projects.

Mayoral candidates Bridget Newton and Mark Pierzchala went first.

Both cited their accomplishments in their current terms as city councilmembers. They again clashed on the merits of the Fireside apartments deal.

On the APFO, Pierzchala made very clear that he wants it weakened, calling it "insufficient" for the city's current needs. He also promised to visit every group or organization in Rockville "within a year of being Mayor." "I am the budget guy," he said.

Newton countered: "Mark might be the 'Budget Guy,' but I am the fiscal conservative." Perhaps alluding to contentious exchanges between citizens and councilmembers at recent public hearings, she said "respecting every person is how we do things in Rockville."

In the council debate, most questions related in some way to Rockville's senior population.


Virginia Onley said federal cutbacks, tough economic times and healthcare costs.

Julie Palakovich Carr said it was the ability to stay in one's home.

Don Hadley concurred that remaining at home as long as possible, and the general quality of life, were the largest issues.

Councilmember Tom Moore noted that Social Security will be a worry. He said that senior programs are important because they "do more than anything else we do" to impact and improve seniors' lives.

Beryl Feinberg said "linkage" of seniors to available services would be critical, as well as affordable housing.

Claire Marcuccio Whitaker hoped the city could have a program to train volunteers to work with seniors, and offer a senior rewards program on purchases made in the city.


Feinberg: Yes.

Whitaker called for a better online system to alert residents to Senior Center events "in multiple languages."

Onley advocated for "mandatory English classes."

Moore: "Absolutely."

Carr: "Definitely."

Hadley said the question assumed no other private grant money was available, and that he would want to pursue that option before using taxpayer funds.


Hadley said 5-6 stories were more than enough to allow growth and economic development. He said seniors should be able to stay involved with city activities, not be placed in isolation. "I don't relish being sent off to the farm," he noted. He also argued that there was no justification to give developers so many incentives to build.

Whitaker said the Pike Plan is a developer-driven document, and said that the "leaders of Rockville should take charge - we should develop our own Rockville Pike Plan." When she added that "we could tell the developers what to do," not the other way around, an audience member shouted, "Hear, hear!" in agreement.

Palakovich Carr said mixed-use development, wide sidewalks, and new retail would be advantageous for seniors. She called for a balanced approach and transit-oriented development. On the APFO, she echoed Pierzchala, saying the city must be "realistic evaluating if those laws are working properly." The current APFO will stop Phase II of the Town Center if it is not changed, she argued.

Onley said the APFO should be a "guide tool, not an instrument that we put to bed and come back to in five years." She said the city should do what's best for itself, "not what we see in other jurisdictions." If pedestrian safety is not the top priority on the new Pike, "it's just gonna be like it is today," she warned.

Moore cited the inability of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department to sell its property under the current APFO restrictions. He predicted the APFO would cause Town Center Phase II to "die on the vine."

"I don't think Town Center II is going to die on the vine," countered Whitaker. "That's a pretty Draconian statement," she added. Whitaker argued that Town Center II is actually in line with the original plan, and that the number of units in the future Duball, Brightview and Kettler buildings will already have exceeded the residential units called for in the master plan.She said she views Brightview's low density, senior residents, and children's playground as positive additions to Town Center.

Feinberg said she favors the Pike Plan, and more dining and "gathering places." She said she is concerned about a potential lack of handicapped parking, and parking that is behind or under buildings, rather than accessible to the businesses' front doors.


"I don't know what our debt is," Onley said. Whitaker used the opportunity to illustrate that she did know the figure, and argued the city should have used its recent surplus to pay down debt. She again cited Gaithersburg's $0 debt, and $65 million in the bank, as a model for Rockville.

Moore diagreed, citing a 5¢ Gaithersburg tax increase. He and Feinberg both said the city's debt was well below the recommended limits.

Carr noted the city's AAA bond rating, and said "there are times when it makes sense to borrow."

Hadley said obligations have to be taken seriously, pointing to a new legal change that could put the city on the hook for $22 million for an employee retirement short fund.


Their are no polls to tell us who's ahead. And, if county elections are an indicator, voters don't seem too concerned about debt and fiscal matters. This election may end up turning on the APFO and development issues.

My thought is, it was a mistake to try to change the APFO in the weeks prior to the election. That stirred up a unneccessary hornet's nest of response among residents, which could be a tremendous weakness for the Team Rockville slate of Pierzchala, Moore, Onley, Palakovich Carr and Feinberg, if turnout is 17% again.

The reason is, there is a large public opposition to weakening the APFO, amply demonstrated at the recent public hearing on the matter.

Newton, Hadley and Whitaker have clearly indicated they want to take a lower-density, more suburban-scale approach to future development. That gives them an electoral base. And one that is energized, as a result of the APFO dispute, and the Pike Plan that citizens overwhelmingly have opposed in public testimony, but keeps lumbering forward anyway toward approval.

The flip side of that is: What is the constituency in Rockville for high-density urbanization of the city, more traffic and more crowded schools? Are there actually significant groups of voters who want tall buildings looming over their homes?

"You can count on me to resist uncontrolled, mindless growth," Whitaker promised in her closing statement. To people stuck in traffic every day, Hadley's observations that "we're busting our belt with schools and traffic" are compelling ones that resonate in reality.

But without polls or intense media coverage, we simply have to wait until Tuesday night to find out which concept of Rockville's future voters want.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


If you were tuning in for drama, zingers, and contentious bickering, you were very disappointed by the end of the Rockville City Council debate hosted by the League of Women Voters. No political careers ended, and every candidate came across as qualified and prepared to serve on the council.

With no knockout blows landed, Rockville is headed for a turnout-based election. Having a slate in Team Rockville, and needing a 3-vote majority to steer the city's direction, the factions are clearly defined. Those who favor higher-density development, and a higher rate of population growth in the city, will tend to favor Team Rockville (although not every member of Team Rockville has the same position on building heights, or what changes he or she would favor in the city's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance). And those concerned about building heights, traffic impacts, and other effects of dense urbanization, will likely back the unofficial slate of Bridget Newton (for mayor), Don Hadley and Claire Marcuccio Whitaker.

Which faction can turn out their folks on election day? That is the big question.

Hadley and Whitaker have clearly become more comfortable with each debate, after entering the race at the last minute to deny Team Rockville an unopposed sweep. Both were on message on their primary agenda points in consecutive televised debates: opposition to a dense urbanization of Rockville, and concern over the city's finances and debt.

Councilmember Tom Moore offered a different perspective, citing the benefits of bond-funded construction of city facilities. Moore also scored points with longtime city residents with his brief anecdote noting his grandmother's lengthy service as a scheduler at the city's senior center. A minor point, but one that can carry weight in a municipal election.

Beryl Feinberg had her best performance at this debate. The question regarding how candidates would protect the city from future economic downturns was tailor-made for Feinberg, who has spent years working on budgets for Montgomery County. Just as Virginia Onley was effective on housing in the Twinbrook debate, I think voters came away from this one associating Feinberg with budgetary experience. (Of course, depending on a voter's opinion of the county budgets of the last few years, that could be a plus or a hindrance).

Onley did well, as did Julie Palakovich Carr. Carr emphasized again her experience on the city's APFO review commission, which required consensus-building among stakeholders with often opposing interests.

Feinberg, Onley and Carr express independent views often enough that - while Team Rockville supporters will vote the slate - it will be interesting to see which TR members are the choices of those backing Hadley and Whitaker. Carr has repeatedly declined to take a position on the controversial ballot questions, for example. In contrast, Moore has dedicated much of his allotted speaking time to strongly urging his constituents to vote for 4 year terms, and to hold city elections in presidential years. And Feinberg, Onley and Carr have made comments throughout the debates that suggest they favor less density and height in future development than Moore and mayoral candidate Councilmember Mark Pierzchala.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Rockville's Planning Commission will continue to discuss, and update, the draft version of the Rockville Pike Plan during a worksession at its next meeting on October 23.

The meeting will begin at 7:00 PM in the Mayor and Council chambers at Rockville City Hall.

Also on the agenda, is a discussion of possible Mayor and Council changes to the city's Adequate Public Facility Standards (APFS), under Old Business.

Friday, October 11, 2013



A civil debate produced virtually no heated moments in Twinbrook last night. Mayoral candidates Bridget Newton and Mark Pierzchala (both current Rockville city councilmembers), and council candidates Julie Palakovich Carr,  Beryl Feinberg, Don Hadley, Virginia Onley, Tom Moore, and Claire Marcuccio Whitaker answered questions prepared by the Twinbrook Civic Association.

The forum was moderated by former Maryland delegate Cheryl Kagan.

In my personal, subjective opinion, the debate was not a game-changer for any candidate. No one hurt themselves, no one sounded unqualified to serve, but neither did anyone score sufficient points to change the dynamic of the race.

The three candidates who did the best job of conveying a compelling argument for election Thursday evening (again, in my opinion), were Hadley, Onley and Whitaker.

Hadley has been an intelligent, deliberative member of the Rockville Planning Commission, and currently chairs that body. His remarks in the second debate emphasized having an inclusive process and discussion as the city confronts major development pressures inside and outside its borders.

Some in the city are "moving too quickly" to embrace a dense urbanization model for development in Rockville, Hadley said. There are "questions that have to be answered, before we rush into this lock, stock and barrel," he suggested.

One of the biggest questions is traffic congestion, and Hadley acknowledged that, despite the work of the Planning Commission, congestion would remain a problem if the Rockville Pike plan passes. He noted that the proposed Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit line for Rockville Pike would have only two stops, and therefore not be a viable system for actual residents.

Hadley also mentioned the issue of diversity in city outreach, suggesting Latino and Asian residents were under-represented on the council, in development discussions, and even in the debate audience. This was an important topic to raise, as this is a major problem countywide. Many of the areas targeted for "infill development" or redevelopment are currently home to large numbers of residents for whom English is a second language. Therefore, many are not even aware that proposed zoning changes and master plans could force them out of their current homes and businesses. One Rockville official told me he regretted the lack of successful outreach to Latino residents in areas like Twinbrook, despite the efforts made in that direction.

Finally, while some proposals seem to gain traction at the council level despite majority opposition among voters, Hadley promised a different approach. "I don't want to preach to the public; I want to listen," he said.

Onley was effective in highlighting the incredible challenge of affordable housing facing the city. It was an opportunity to capitalize on her relevant experience with Rockville Housing Enterprise. She expressed pride in the $32 million mortgage that protected 236 residents at the Fireside Park apartments from large rent increases, calling it a "win-win" for the city.

Moore concurred, calling it "our finest of the things I'm most proud of" in his first term in office.

The other strong point of Onley's case was having compelling statistics to round out her case. She noted a affordable housing opportunity recently drew 5000 applications for RHE. Recently, architect and urbanization advocate Roger Lewis told the Rockville Planning Commission to pass a Pike plan that would permit dense development in Rockville. Yet, just a few months ago, Lewis acknowledged in his Washington Post column that the current Smart Growth Juggernaut will not provide the amount of affordable housing he and other advocates had previously claimed. In substantive terms, Onley said she would oppose fee-in-lieu arrangements that would allow developers to buy their way out of minimum affordable housing requirements.

Whitaker made an effective argument for caution in plunging into urbanization of the city. With two phases of White Flint development creating 9600 units apiece, Whitaker said, more than 30,000 new cars would be brought to Rockville Pike. Only a small percentage of those new residents will drive, she said.

Whitaker also made a good point on the city's finances. She cited Rockville's neighbor, Gaithersburg (which has been in a land-grab battle with Rockville along their shared border, it should be noted), for taking a better approach, in her opinion. Under Mayor Sid Katz, Gaithersburg has $0 debt, and $65 million "in the bank, earning interest," she said. Ironically, Gaithersburg has experienced a real estate development boom in recent years, yet at far lower densities than those at White Flint, or proposed in the Pike Plan draft.

Onley and Whitaker also connected with the average working person in the city. The former noted the misperception that "everybody is rich in Rockville," while the latter recalled her early years in East Rockville, wearing "clothes that were made out of chicken feed sacks."

Other candidates made good points as well. Carr pressed the overlooked issue of crime in East Rockville, saying she was surprised to find out 2 police officers were tasked with patrolling that entire area.

Newton concurred, and was able to highlight that her work with the Maryland Municipal League resulted in 2 additional officers being added to the city police force.

Pierzchala displayed his background in public service and statistical data, with his proposal that the city change the methods by which it measures success in responding to citizen complaints.

Feinberg promised she would place a special priority on senior citizen issues, such as the needs of residents who are aging in place.

And Moore pointed to his success in advancing significantly more stringent ethics and disclosure requirements for elected officials.

One slightly odd element to the debate format, was the seating arrangement, which emphasized that there were two separate factions as if they were political parties, rather than seat candidates in alphabetical order. Hadley drew attention to it, saying the seating "implied divisions that don't necessarily exist."

So, no one was knocked out of the race. Hadley, Onley and Whitaker have not necessarily pulled ahead in the race. But I thought they put themselves in a strong position to do so if they build on their performances Thursday in the next debate.

That final debate is scheduled for October 22.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Two-term Rockville Councilmember Bridget Newton officially launched her bid to be the city's next mayor last night. Her opponent will be another multiterm councilmember, Mark Pierzchala.

Newton has pledged to take no money from developers, and has been a skeptic of urban-style development outside of the city's Town Center.

Pierzchala, and the rest of his Team Rockville slate, favor denser, transit-oriented development.

Both mayoral candidates have long records of public service.

Current mayor Phyllis Marcuccio declined to run for another term, and has endorsed Newton.

Marcuccio's decision, and the current lack of opponents for Team Rockville, could lead to success on Election Day for the slate.

There are now three wide-open council seats. Incumbent Tom Moore will lead slatemates Julie Palakovich Carr, Beryl Feinberg and Virginia Onley into the contest.

While Newton has as much of a chance to win as Pierzchala, the Team Rockville council candidates could sweep the election, if it were held today.

Rumored candidate Anne Robbins, a veteran councilmember, has not filed yet. The filing deadline is little over a month away.

The vacuum that would have existed for a slow-growth candidate has now become a black hole.

While Newton vs. Pierzchala will be a marquee race, offering voters a clear choice for the city's future direction, the mayor holds little power in Rockville.

Should no city activists nor Robbins step forward to file, this election would be a blowout for Team Rockville in terms of council seats, and political power.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Bethesda Restaurant Week is here again! Bethesda-Chevy Chase Summer Restaurant Week is Monday, July 29 to Sunday, August 4, 2013. The official website has the full list of participating restaurants.

Yesterday, Lebanese Taverna hosted a restaurant week kickoff event at Bethesda Row. I always say that the patio outside of Lebanese Taverna is the best-smelling corner in downtown Bethesda. The wonderful aromas drifting out of the restaurant certainly entice you to go in, even if you are a tourist not familiar with the local Lebanese Taverna chain.

As you will see (or just saw) in the video, Chef Jeff Heineman of Grapeseed on Cordell Avenue is the chair of this year's BCC Restaurant Week Committee. And that's been a Herculean task, as the entity behind previous years' events has stepped down.

Fortunately, the Restaurant Association of Maryland has stepped in to produce this year's restaurant week. And reliable local sponsors like EagleBank, Grapeseed and Bethesda Magazine have joined Friends of Restaurant Week BCC Chamber of Commerce, Bethesda Urban Partnership, the NIH and NOAA Recreation and Welfare Association, Metromedia Energy and Congressional Seafood Company to ensure a successful event.

2-course lunches will be $12 or $16, and 3-course dinners $33.

Best of all, a portion of the proceeds will go to wounded service members and their families, through the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

Speaking of ribbons, there was a ribbon cutting yesterday to mark the one-week countdown to BCC Restaurant Week. Delegate Bill Frick (D-District 16), a 2014 candidate for Maryland Attorney General, was on hand to assist, as was Ginanne Italiano, president of the BCC Chamber of Commerce.

Participants around Bethesda Row include Assaggi, Jaleo, Lebanese Taverna, Mon Ami Gabi, Nest Cafe (on the EuroMotorcars block of Bethesda Avenue), Newton's Table, Raku, and Redwood.

Further afield additions include the new-and-already-award-winning Quench in the Traville Gateway area of Rockville, and the fabulous Brio Tuscan Grille in White Flint.

Start planning now, as this is a chance to try many top Bethesda restaurants for far less than the usual prices. Stay tuned here and on Twitter at @RockvilleNights, as additional restaurants join the Restaurant Week list.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


The big fireworks show on July 4th in Rockville is at Montgomery College.  You can park in the lots at the corner of Mannakee Street and Route 355, or in the lots on the Montgomery College campus.

A main stage will be set up in Lot 11 at Montgomery College, near Mannakee Street. At 7:00 PM, the Fugitive Brass Quintet will perform. They'll be followed by the Pinneberg Dancers at 7:30, and the
Rockville Concert Band at 8:00.

Then the real show - the fireworks - begins around 9:15 PM.

In the event of inclement weather, call 240-314-5022 to check the status of the fireworks.

Montgomery College is located at 51 Mannakee Street.

Monday, May 20, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013


One Hooters girl from Maryland could be on her way to Las Vegas, to win it all at the Hooters 2013  International Swimsuit Pageant.

But first, she has to win tonight's regional finals at Hooters of Rockville.

Doors open at 7:00 PM, and a buffet will be served. VIP tickets are $150; general admission will be $75.

Also, at 10:00, they'll be showing the Sonnen vs. Jones UFC Championship.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Montgomery County Planning Department Master Planner Larry Cole told the Rockville Planning Commission last night that a bus rapid transit line along MD Route 355 would take "13-21%" of its ridership from Metro.

Why is this important?

For two reasons. First, it highlights the duplication of existing subway service by BRT. In fact, Commissioner David Hill questioned Cole on that very point at last night's briefing at Rockville City Hall.

Secondly, it confirms my argument from the beginning of this sham of a process regarding BRT:  the duplicative service will attract mostly those who already use transit. In the process, it will slash the already insufficient revenue of the Metro system.

Where will that shortfall be recovered from? From you and I, the taxpayers. And again from you and I, in the form of future Metro fare increases.

It begs the question again - if the county has a magic $5 billion in extra revenue to pay for the BRT system, wouldn't that money be better spent on projects that will actually reduce congestion? These would include M-83 Midcounty Highway Extended, the Rockville Freeway, a new Potomac River bridge, expanded MARC service, the Purple Line and an extension of Metro to Gaithersburg and Germantown.

In contrast to those projects, the ridership, density and demand numbers for BRT simply don't add up.  With no solid evidence that drivers will "get out of their cars," it's safe to assume Metro ridership will be the target audience for the Emperor's New Bus, thereby providing no congestion relief.

What could ultimately end up happening, is a small BRT ridership, taken in even greater numbers from Metro than Cole's projections suggest, riding $5 billion buses along a now even-more-congested Route 355. And Metro in even worse financial straits than ever.

Rockville Planning Commissioners were understandably skeptical of Cole's presentation.

Commissioner Jack Leiderman asked Cole if he was attempting to "punish" drivers by removing 2 car lanes from 355 for BRT. Cole arrogantly responded that drivers "don't own" those lanes.

Mr. Cole, those of us who live in Maryland not only own those lanes, but we paid for their construction, and continue to pay for their maintenance.

Cole made the mistake of comparing the seizure of 2 lanes for BRT to HOV Lanes on I-270. Anyone who actually drives on 270 knows that the HOV idea was a complete failure, and does continue only as a punishment for drivers. The HOV lane is that one which you turn to the left and see hardly anybody in, while you're crawling or at a complete stop on 270. Not only is traffic still jammed, but you're moving even slower, thanks to the loss of 25% of capacity in the Express lanes.  And during rush hour, many HOV drivers are using the lane illegally.

Cole wasn't done making odd comparisons.

When a skeptical Commissioner Dion Trahan quizzed Cole as to how losing already-jammed lanes would reduce gridlock, Cole referred to Ballston in Arlington.

Cole repeated a popular urban myth among "smart" growth advocates, that traffic on Wilson Boulevard in Ballston and Clarendon has actually decreased, despite massive, dense redevelopment.

This is an apples to oranges comparison, and complete bunk. First, the "less traffic" argument is hardly accurate as it relates to Arlington.

But, more importantly, there is no comparison whatsoever between Wilson Boulevard and 355.

The daily traffic count on Wilson is around 15,000 vehicles.

The daily traffic count on Rockville Pike is 43,000 to 46,000 cars.

Wilson is a lower-capacity road than 355.

And Wilson is not an arterial road of the scope of 355.  355 carries heavy traffic from Washington, Frederick, Carroll and Montgomery counties along a corridor that has only one alternative, 270.

In contrast, drivers traveling west-east into Washington through Arlington have many parallel routes to choose from.  Rockville Pike is not Wilson Boulevard, and you can't make it so just to satisfy ideology or developers.

Speaking of which, Cole seems to favor both. Cole's recent suggestion to kill the grade-separated Montrose Parkway certainly revealed an anti-highway, pro-developer bias. That's not a good starting point for a planning department that is supposed to ensure adequate mobility of citizens via a multimodal transportation system.

But there's more ideological dreaming, "behavior-modification" scheming, and development cheerleading going on than planning in Cole's department.

Asked by the commission's chair, Jerry Callistein, why no planning has been done for BRT parking, environmental studies, BRT-Metro transfers, BRT vehicle storage, etc., Cole essentially responded that the dog ate his homework. It's hard enough to get the BRT plan passed without worrying about those little details, Cole suggested.

Unsatisfactory answers were the rule in a presentation on an unsatisfactory boondoggle of a BRT proposal.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Enjoy lunch or dinner in Rockville during Thai Restaurant Week, starting this Wednesday, April 10, and running through next Wednesday, April 17.

The annual event is organized and sponsored by the Royal Thai Embassy's offices of Commercial and Agricultural Affairs, in Washington, D.C.

Participating restaurants in Rockville are:

Amina Restaurant, 5065 Nicholson Lane, 301-770-9509.

Tara Asia 199 E. Montgomery Avenue, 301-315-8008.

Thai Pavilion, 29 Maryland Avenue, 301-545-0244.

Pana Thai, 7224 Muncaster Mill Road, 301-990-8501.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?

No, but you'll smell the aroma of Hooters' famous wings tonight at Hooters of Rockville, while you enjoy Wrestlemania on the big screens.

What is The Rock doing back in WWE, anyway? He must be getting a mighty big check, given his movie star status.

Saturday, March 16, 2013



Corned Beef and Cabbage with red skin potatoes. $10.99

Irish Flatbread with corned beef hash, melted Swiss cheese, spicy mustard and scallions. $9.79.

Corned Beef Reuben with potato chips. $7.99

Irish Red Beer Cheese Soup. $5.79


$3 green beers, $5 Irish Whiskeys, and $6 Car Bombs.

Kegs and Eggs today, Saturday, March 16th from 9 am – 11am. $10 all you can eat buffet, with a collector's t-shirt.


Green freshly squeezed juices are 25% off.  All smoothies are 10% off.


Buy any burrito or enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce and receive a side of salsa and chips free.


Pick up your St. Patrick’s Day treats: Shamrock shaped cookies, Irish Soda Bread, and more.


Celebrating all weekend. UFC tonight (Saturday) at 10:00 PM.


Check out the green ice at the ice rink in Town Square!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Yes, an infamous Star Trek villain was invoked, and a citizen created some very minor drama, at last night's meeting of the Rockville Planning Commission at City Hall.

The final bell is tolling for the venerable retail center at 1592 Rockville Pike, home to Radio Shack, Fuddrucker's and Pier One. I'll be sorry to see it go.

In the near future, the property will most likely be known as Twinbrook Metro Place, and will rise over its namesake community at around 150 feet.

Last night, the applicant, Twinbrook Partners, LLC, presented its site plan to the Rockville Planning Commission.

One initial complaint by a speaker was that notification procedures had not been followed.  Unable to get the answer he wanted from city staff, he turned to the applicant's attorney, Heather Dlhopolsky, reminding her, "You're under oath!"

Planning commissioners corrected him, clarifying Dlhopolsky was not under oath.

Later, the same man rushed to the podium and interrupted commission deliberations on the project, prompting Chairman Jerry Callistein to respond, "You're out of order."

The building that will front to the Pike has a glass facade, which raised concerns about glare among some commissioners.

Beyond that, there was a question as to how well this fits in with 1-2 story structures nearby.

Commissioner Jack Leiderman found the proposed design "very different in architectural character" from its surroundings.  Leiderman pressed for design changes throughout the meeting, saying the city would not want to end up with a "Borg cube" in the middle of Rockville Pike.  He also questioned how the contrast in aesthetics would create a "sense of place."

Commissioner Dion Trahan asked planning staff if the site would be part of the region's growing bikesharing network.

City Transportation Planner Rebecca Torma said there are no plans for a Twinbrook bike sharing station. However, the project does have around 200 bicycle parking spaces.

Commissioner David Hill wanted to know if it was feasible to retain street trees along the Pike.

Assistant City Forester Elise Carey noted sidewalk expansion there will require removal of street trees.

Commissioner Don Hadley inquired as to how many street trees would be subject to removal.

"5," responded Carey.

Twinbrook Civic Association President Christina Ginsberg pointed out that Tilden and Farmland public school parents should be notified of development along this stretch of the Pike, as they are two schools that will have to accomodate children who live in these buildings.

A majority of the commission concluded that the site plan was worthy of approval, but requested two conditions: that the building  facade facing the Pike be altered to fit less-imposing city design requirements, and that any compartmentalizing of on-site parking facilities be approved by city staff.