Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Silver Spring construction update: Bombay Gaylord restaurant (Photos)

It's been two-and-a-half years since the Bombay Gaylord restaurant at 8401 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring was heavily-damaged by fire. About six months ago, the popular Indian restaurant began to renovate the space. What's the current status of the construction? Here's a look.



Monday, November 20, 2017

Construction begins at Astro Lab brewery in Silver Spring

Construction is now underway inside the future Astro Lab Brewing at 8216 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. One thing longtime residents might find interesting - you can see the old Joe's Record Paradise (the former tenant of this building) signs in there.



Friday, November 17, 2017

Montgomery County Council clueless in meeting with Maryland transportation official

Another clueless performance by the Montgomery County Council in a transportation meeting yesterday has some in the business community questioning their fitness for office. In a failed attempt to dress down Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's transportation secretary Pete Rahn, their politically-motivated meeting ended up instead exposing how poorly-informed the Council is on the basics of modern infrastructure, its operation, and financing.

Councilmembers repeatedly demanded "transit" be part of Hogan's massive Express Lanes plan for the Capital Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. They were unaware that it is standard practice for regular and rapid buses to use Express Lanes on highways.

Council President Roger Berliner asked Rahn if he could "fold in" the stalled Corridor Cities Transitway BRT project into the $9 billion dollar Express Lanes project. This was patently absurd for two reasons: The CCT runs on a completely different route than I-270, for starters. And the CCT, like all bus and rail service, will be a money-loser; transit does not generate profits like Express Lanes. What sane private corporation would try to combine the potentially-narrow profit margin of these particular Express Lanes with a surefire money drain like the CCT?

Finally, Councilmember George Leventhal showed how out of touch he is with his constituents when he advised Rahn that the more transit is part of the Express Lanes plan, "the more it will be easier (sic) to assuage our constituents." Huh? His constituents, tired of being stuck in traffic, want the popular Express Lanes plan proposed by Hogan. Leventhal should listen to voices beyond the yes-men in his office before daring to speak on behalf of his constituents.

Rahn, in contrast, demonstrated he has his finger on the pulse of frustrated Maryland drivers. His only misstep was waffling on how much the project might end up costing taxpayers, off-message with Hogan's promise that private companies would take on the financial burden.

Business leaders watching the hearing - and Montgomery's moribund private-sector economy and plunging wealth numbers - were reminded of a similar amateur-hour performance by the Council earlier this fall. In a worksession on autonomous vehicles, councilmembers showed a laughable lack-of-knowledge of the basic nuts-and-bolts of this now-arriving technology.  Many referred to autonomous vehicles as a futuristic fantasy, apparently unaware that Tesla vehicles on the road right now have fully-autonomous capability. The Council also didn't know how the cars might be insured. As more evidence that the Council hadn't even done the most basic research ahead of the session, they didn't know Volvo had just announced it would take on drivers' insurance liability itself.

Clueless.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bank inside Wheaton Plaza Giant robbed (Photo)

The PNC Bank inside the Giant grocery store at Wheaton Plaza was robbed Tuesday around 2:18 PM. Montgomery County police say the suspect entered the bank, and handed a note to the teller. The teller gave him an undisclosed amount of cash, and the suspect fled. He was last spotted running in the 11100 block of Veirs Mill Road.

Anyone with information about the suspect or this bank robbery is asked to contact the Montgomery County Police Department – Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100.  To be eligible for a reward, tipsters may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to the arrest and/or indictment of this suspect.  Tipsters will remain anonymous.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wheaton murder suspect was detained by police twice before allegedly killing woman

A Wheaton woman might still be alive today, but for Montgomery County's sanctuary county immigration policies. According to Maryland court records, Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez - who has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Wheaton mother and KFC employee Dania Mendez de Guerra - was detained in traffic stops twice by police since 2012. Because officers are forbidden to ask about the immigration status of those they stop, Campos-Martinez was put back on the streets, despite being in the country illegally.

Case records indicate that Campos-Martinez was pulled over by Montgomery County police on October 7, 2012 at 11:46 PM. He was cited for operating a motor scooter without a license on Veirs Mill Road at Parkland Drive. On April 23, 2013, Campos-Martinez paid a $50 fine and $33 in court fees. Without a check of his citizenship status, he was a free man.

While still living on N. Horners Lane in Rockville, Campos-Martinez was pulled over yet again by Rockville City police on April 20, 2014 at 11:13 PM. Driving an actual car this time, he was cited for driving without a license on Veirs Mill Road at First Street in Rockville.  Once again, the officer was not allowed to check his immigration status. In this case, Campos-Martinez did not even have to pay a fine or court fees. The prosecutor entered a nolle prosequi, meaning the State would not pursue the case, and the charges were thereby dropped.

Three-and-a-half years later, Campos-Martinez - now living in the Woods Edge Apartments on Cove Lane in Rockville - was working alongside de Guerra at the KFC at 2119 University Boulevard West in Wheaton. Leaving work, he laid in wait for the 21-year-old de Guerra to walk home to her husband and child on Amherst Avenue, police allege. Four days later, her body was found behind the CVS Pharmacy across a parking lot from her apartment.

Of course, he wouldn't have been there to lay in wait, had he been deported in 2012 after his first scooter misadventure (by the way, do you believe you would have avoided a fine and court fees if you were caught driving without a license? Is there now a separate law for non-citizens?). In fact, Campos-Martinez was deported in 1994. But the sanctuary policies of Montgomery County kept him coming back.
The victim, Dania Mendez de Guerra
If the murder allegations by police are true, those policies cost Dania Mendez de Guerra her life, and her family a wife and mother.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wheaton Library furniture survey to begin this Sunday, November 19

Current progress on construction of
the new Wheaton Library and
Recreation Center
The long-delayed public input process on furniture for the future Wheaton Library and Recreation Center is now scheduled to launch this Sunday, November 19, 2017, at the Wheaton Interim Library. However, the community has not been properly notified of the event.

Kimblyn Persaud, President of the Wheaton Regional Park Neighborhood Association, has written to Montgomery County Department of General Services Director David Dise to remind him he had promised to post signs at the interim library, which is located in the ballroom of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad at 2400 Arcola Avenue. Those signs have never appeared.

Traffic at the interim library is down, Persaud reports. Therefore, she suggests the County quickly take additional steps to alert the community of the furniture test before the weekend. Her public information request from July 1, 2017 also remains to be fully responded to under the legal criteria set by the Maryland Public Information Act. Persaud is now requesting Dise comply with that MPIA request by this Friday, November 17.

Suspect in Wheaton homicide was deported in 1994, returned to Rockville

Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez, who has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Wheaton mother and KFC employee Dania Mendez de Guerra, is in the country illegally, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has confirmed. ICE issued a detainer against Campos-Martinez Saturday.

In a statement, ICE also confirmed that Campos-Martinez was already deported once to his native El Salvador, in 1994. They say he illegally crossed the border again, and made his way to Rockville.

Campos-Martinez continues to be held without bond, as the District Court judge in his case declared him a flight risk, due to his immigration status.