Friday, May 24, 2019

Suspect arrested in White Oak armed robberies

Montgomery County police have arrested a suspect they say is the man who pulled off a series of armed robberies and attempted armed robberies in the White Oak area of Silver Spring on Tuesday night. Josue Torres-Luna, 19, of Silver Spring threatened two women with a handgun in the 11600 block of Stewart Lane that night, detectives say. And they believe others may have been accosted, as well.

Torres-Luna was successful in obtaining a purse from one of the women, police said. Officers responding to the scene found the suspect hiding behind dumpsters. Police have not yet said if they recovered the handgun Torres-Luna allegedly told his victims he had in his waistband.

Detectives ask anyone who had an encounter with Torres-Luna on Tuesday, May 21st, to contact the 3rd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6879.

MoCo Council hikes property taxes, slouches toward bankruptcy in disaster budget

Property tax bills will rise for almost all Montgomery County residents in the coming year, after the Montgomery County Council approved a disastrous $5.8 billion FY-20 budget Thursday. The vote virtually ensures future tax hikes will be necessary, as the Council also went on a spending spree despite starting off with a $208 million shortfall. Increases in spending on Montgomery County Public Schools, already proven to have no impact on student performance despite record-large MCPS budgets this decade, will be a major cause of tax hikes down the road. Once the MCPS budget is raised, state law requires the Council to maintain that level of spending going forward.

The fact that the Council had no qualms about spending even more than MCPS asked for despite that binding maintenance-of-effort state law raises questions of the councilmembers' fitness for office. Councilmembers approved the massive spending on MCPS while knowing that there are only two uncertain sources to pay the additional $16 million, and one of those is a one-time $5 million possible payment from the state for upgrading the County's long-failing 911 system. The other $11 million? LOL - they'll figure it out. And thanks to the law, we now have to give MCPS - the system that has declined in performance even as spending on it has surged - that amount every single year going forward. We already are in the red every single year as far out as the forecasts go as it is. Heckuva job, Brownie!

"The annual [property tax] bill for the average homeowner will increase," the Council's press release on the budget vote acknowledges - while not admitting the real-world dollar value of that increase, which is far more than the "average" cost cited often by the County. That tax hike comes after the Council and County Executive Marc Elrich promised voters they would not raise taxes. 

Bloated and filled with loot for the Montgomery County cartel, the budget maintains the corrupt Council's MO of "managing the decline," and continuing our slow slouch towards Gomorrah. The Council has failed to take a single action on our economic development crisis since taking office last December, forgoing for another year any sensible attempt to increase our revenue from commercial development or attracting major corporate headquarters - something Montgomery County hasn't been able to do for over twenty years. Instead, the County has sunk to rock bottom by every economic development benchmark, even behind tiny counties like Culpeper and Rappahannock. It's humiliating.

Considering the Council has raised property taxes every year except 2014, imagine what will happen when the national economy goes into a recession. We are now in the weakest position ever to confront such an economic challenge. Given the County's massive debt, the much-touted AAA bond rating will be in jeopardy as soon as bad times hit, and we are due for a bust cycle any month now. Remember: we have to maintain this level of MCPS spending and county employee pay hikes every year no matter how bad the revenue picture gets.

With that in mind, it's obvious that while our leaders may be tools, they aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the drawer. But that's the caliber of leadership you end up with when most voters don't bother to research the candidates before voting, and simply go by the party affiliation after the name. We can't go on like this.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

SHA to host two Takoma Junction transportation meetings in June

The future of transportation on routes in state hands through the Takoma Junction area of Takoma Park will be the topic of two workshops next month at the Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church Center at 6810 Eastern Avenue, N.W. from 6:00-8:30 PM on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 and Monday, June 10, 2019. "Crafting a Vision Statement" is the title of the June 4 meeting, and "Bringing [That] Vision to Life" is the second meeting's title.

Group activities will be utilized to provide public input on the transportation issues affecting Takoma Junction, which has been targeted for a controversial, privately-built redevelopment by the City of Takoma Park.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wheaton Lot 13 project update (Photos)

Construction has begun on the 13th floor of the new Montgomery County government office building at Lot 13 in the Wheaton Triangle. Mechanical and electrical work now join plumbing on floors 1-5. Exterior sheathing is being installed on floors 3-5. County officials report that the project remains on-schedule for delivery on May 30, 2020.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

More menu details for Fat Fingers in Silver Spring

The mystery of what type of cuisine Fat Fingers will be serving when they open at 8213 Georgia Avenue is now mostly solved. One of the owners said the menu will feature classic American comfort food. Specific menu items will include burgers, hot dogs, half smokes, wings and Philly-style cheesesteaks. This description was supported by a shipment of fresh bread and hoagie rolls that could be seen inside the front of the restaurant, which was previously home to Paisano's.
Fresh bread arrives at Fat Fingers
So it sounds like the eatery will indeed be more in line with the retro-themed Saugus, MA Fat Fingers than the bistro concept mentioned by one reader in the comment section. This is good news for downtown Silver Spring.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Chase Bank now open in Silver Spring

Chase Bank is now open at 8435 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. It is one of the first two Chase Bank branches to open in Montgomery County, with many more to come.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Palisades Lounge opens in downtown Silver Spring

A number of readers have been asking about the Palisades Lounge, which has been in the works for a while at 8211 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. I'm pleased to report they have just opened for business, and will have live music and hookah.

Doors open at 12:00 PM today, as they celebrate the Grand Opening. This was formerly a paint store, so this is a nice upgrade for Silver Spring. They also have a rooftop area, as you can see in the photo above.