Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sneak peek: Lincoln's Bar-B-Que in Silver Spring (Photos)

Here's another exclusive sneak preview of the new Lincoln's Bar-B-Que restaurant, replacing the shuttered A.G. Kitchen in downtown Silver Spring. Looks like they'll either have lots of shirts and hats you can buy, or else those are for the staff. The outdoor patio furniture is out, and emphasizes a spartan park bench aesthetic, much like a roadside barbecue joint might. Lincoln's Bar-B-Que is located at 931 Ellsworth Drive.

Moribund economy, MCPS declining, roads jammed; MoCo Council's top priority? Vending machines!

Moribund Montgomery County is the only DC-area jurisdiction to suffer a net loss in jobs since the year 2000. The County Council's own reports show Montgomery County Public Schools in a steady decline since 2010, with a growing achievement gap and deadly gang problem. Our unfinished highway system is in utter gridlock, nearly 20 years after voters elected the laughably-named "End Gridlock" council slate. What is the very top agenda item this week for one of that slate's members, George Leventhal?

"Healthy vending machines."

You can't make this stuff up, folks! That's right, Leventhal and...surprise, surprise...Councilmember Hans Riemer will be in the 3rd Floor Conference Room of the County Council Building this morning, for a big press conference to introduce a bill to replace your Big Texas Cinnamon Roll and Mrs. Freshley's Jumbo Honey Bun with bean sprouts and kale chips. The bill will apply to all vending machines on county property, and require 65% of vending machine items to be "healthy."

If you need to kill some time around 11:45 AM, get some cheap entertainment in watching to see if even one reporter asks them how in the world vending machines could literally be their top priority at a time like this. Are you kidding me?

Slightly less than two years after touting a study showing Montgomery to be the healthiest county in Maryland, and giving himself credit for the designation, Leventhal now claims in a press release that "almost one in four children in Montgomery County is not able to maintain a healthy weight. This rate outpaces the national average. More than half of all adults in County (sic) adults (sic) are not keeping a healthy weight."

So let's get this straight, folks. Mr. Leventhal and the Council made us the healthiest county in Maryland (and probably invented the Internet along the way). That past claim of credit now requires us to blame the same County Council for our sudden, supposed two year plunge in health, that Mr. Leventhal says has left us fatter than the average American. How could they have done this to us? All the more reason to throw the bums out in 2018.

Of course, maybe it was the taxpayer-funded gift cards Leventhal's "Healthy Montgomery" organization gave out to MCPS students for sugary, liquid-candy Starbucks coffees and fat-and-sodium-laden Chipotle burritos that can partly be blamed. Perhaps the historic tax increase of May 2016 forced cash-strapped residents to turn to cheap junk food for subsistence purposes. After all, we can't all afford to shop at Whole Paycheck like Hans Riemer.
You apparently can use the hashtag #HealthyVendingMoCo to tell Big Government what you think of their legislative priorities.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Last call at Quarry House Temporary in Silver Spring (Photos)

Last night was the last night at Quarry House Temporary in downtown Silver Spring. The town's highest-profile bar is about to begin a months-long move back to its old spot at 8401 Georgia Avenue, which was damaged by fire almost two years ago.

Their temporary spot across the street had been best known around the world as Piratz Tavern. As you can see, the original location of Quarry House Tavern is not on the verge of opening anytime soon.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Email/call delegates NOW after unusual tactic keeps MoCo Council term limit-sabotage bill alive in Annapolis

Thanks to your calls and emails, and members of a committee who recognized the voting landscape has changed in Montgomery County, House Bill 348 (which would hand the Montgomery County Council a suite of tools to subvert the term limits passed by 70% of voters last November) was temporarily dead yesterday. But in an unusual move, the full delegation failed to respect the vote of their colleagues on the Economic Development Committee, and have kept HB 348 on their voting agenda for today.

Light up their phones and inboxes, and ask them to respect the will of the voters, and KILL BILL 348 by voting NO. The meeting starts at 10:00 AM, so the time to act is NOW.

Use this list of phone numbers and emails, or the email list below (just CC everybody on one message to get the job done):


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wheaton construction update: AVA Wheaton apartments (Photos)

It took Avalon Bay awhile to get going on the construction of the future AVA Wheaton apartments, but check out the tremendous progress they've made now that the pace has picked up. Located at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Blueridge Avenue, the residential-only building replaces a venerable bank and office development.

When will the AVA Wheaton deliver? Avalon Bay's AVA Wheaton website is promising a Spring 2017 opening, but WMATA's bus advisory for the Y2/Y7/Y8 routes say those buses' stop in front of the building isn't expected to reopen until August 31. Of course, first move-ins at buildings often occur prior to full completion of the project.

View of the AVA Wheaton
from the intersection where the
famous Anchor Inn once

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Contact delegates TODAY to stop MoCo Council's attempt to undermine term limits

As I reported last week, a bill that would give the Montgomery County Council several tools to undermine the term limits on their time in office is under consideration in Annapolis. HB 348 would the first step toward allowing the Council to stagger its terms, with some County Council seat elections moving to presidential years. Term limits passed overwhelmingly last November with nearly 70% of voters approving them. The County Council should not disrespect the voters' wishes for new leaders, and for a four-year cooling-off period for long-stagnant members who will finally be forced out.

Potential abuses the current text of the bill would allow include extension of term-limited councilmembers' terms for an additional two years, cutting short terms of new councilmembers they'd like to get rid of by two years, allowing those forced out by term limits in 2022 to run again in 2024 before the new Council has even four years to change the county's direction, and moving seats not as favorable to the county political cartel (District 2) to presidential years, when voters are paying less attention to county-level issues.

The Montgomery County delegation's Economic Development Committee will take up, and vote on, the bill tomorrow, Thursday, February 23.

and tell them to respect the voters' clear decision on term limits, and allow the reforms voters wanted to happen play out. The voters have not asked for this bill, some on the Council have.
Ask them to vote "no" and 

Ariana Kelly, Chair - Democrat, Legislative District 16; Phone: 301-858-3642 / 410-841-3642;

Maricé Morales, Vice-Chair - Democrat, Legislative District 19; Phone: 301-858-3528 / 410-841-3528

Sheila Hixson - Democrat - Legislative District 20; Phone: 301-858-3469/410-841-3469 

Anne Kaiser - Democrat Legislative District 14; Phone: 301-858-3469/410-841-3469

Kirill Reznik - Democrat, Legislative District 39; Phone: 301-858-3039 /410-841-3039

Jeff Waldstreicher - Democrat, Legislative District 18; Phone: 301-858-3130 / 410-841-3130

Then the whole delegation will take up the bill on Friday.

(carbon-copy every Montgomery County delegate if you can) 
Tell them to VOTE NO on HB 348

for their 
contact information

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Proposed route change for Ride On 33 would benefit Connecticut Avenue Estates (Photos)

A bus route connecting three of my favorite places in Montgomery County (Glenmont and Connecticut Avenue Estates, and Bethesda) could be in for some changes. Montgomery County's Department of Transportation is proposing to make service changes to Ride On Route 33 (Bethesda Medical Center Metro station to Glenmont Metro station).

The change would divert the bus into the Connecticut Avenue Estates neighborhood near the Glenmont end of the route, to provide better service to that community. Here is a rare case where a bus route change would actually provide more service, rather than less.
Existing route near
Connecticut Avenue Estates
Proposed diversion into
Connecticut Avenue Estates
To comment on the proposed change, you can speak at one of 3 public forums:

Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 7 p.m. (Connecticut Avenue Estates Community)
Highland Elementary School in the All-Purpose Room (Cafeteria)
3100 Medway Street, Silver Spring

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. (Cabin Branch/Clarksburg Communities)
Clarksburg at Rocky Hill Middle School
22401 Brick Haven Way, Clarksburg

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm (Poplar Run Community)
Poplar Run Community Center/Clubhouse
13500 Stargazer Lane (off Poplar Run Drive), Silver Spring

Register a minimum of three days in advance of the forum to speak for three minutes, either by email or in writing to the Division of Transit Services, Ride On Public Forum, 101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850 and provide the following information:
Date of forum the speaker plans to attend
Home address
Telephone number
E-mail address

Speakers must bring two printed copies of their testimony to the forum. These forums will end after the last registered speaker. If the forum is cancelled due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled for March 14, 2017.

Sweetgreen going cashless in downtown Silver Spring

Sweetgreen will go cashless in Silver Spring on March 8. All transactions will be made via their iPhone app or credit card, and cash will no longer be accepted.

The salad chain says that the move will save employees an average of 2 hours in cash counting time, speed up service, reduce armored car emissions and paper waste (as well as the risk of being robbed), and help the restaurant to provide custom offerings via their app. They say less than 10% of their customers use cash to make purchases.

Sweetgreen is located at 8517 Georgia Avenue.

Monday, February 20, 2017

City Taste restaurant coming to downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

City Taste restaurant will open in downtown Silver Spring at 930 Wayne Avenue. The space was previously occupied by Pho Hoa Binh 2.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How many armed guards does MoCo planning chair need to speak to a representative of a black church? (Photos)

You will be able to judge your local elected officials by the degree to which they condemn the Montgomery County Planning Department's over-the-top reaction to peaceful protesters at their headquarters yesterday in Silver Spring. The protesters were asking the board to delay consideration of developer Equity One's sketch plan, until an African-American cemetery buried under part of the property can be fully investigated. Not only does the plan propose to construct a new building and garage atop the cemetery, but witnesses have reported the graveyard was desecrated by construction crews in the late 1960s, who reportedly illegally moved remains they encountered while excavating for Westwood Tower.

The optics of board chair Casey Anderson calling in armed police officers to surround him Secret Service-style, while speaking to a representative of a historic black church, created a public relations disaster that had even the County's Deputy Planning Director grimacing. But the more you analyze yesterday's debacle, the worse it looks. Forget about "How many County Council members does it take to screw in a light bulb?" It's time to consider, "How many armed guards does Casey Anderson need to speak to a representative of a black church?"

Isn't something fundamentally wrong with the direction our county is currently headed, that - for the first time I can recall - Planning Board meetings in 2015 and 2016 would end with residents shouting at the commissioners? Residents increasingly find their so-called public servants are actually at war with them, trying to force major changes developers are seeking, that are opposed by the vast majority of the community. In the past, mass uprising against a government proposal would cause it to be tabled. Now our officials ignore the boos, lower their shoulders, and power into the end zone - sometimes even sharing a touchdown dance with the developers who have scored the win.

A Council and Board at war with their own constituents probably explains why a grand total of 7 police vehicles (each one presumably representing at least one officer to drive it) were ultimately deployed against protesters by the Planning Department yesterday. I counted 6 Park Police vehicles, and 1 County police cruiser. I personally have never seen more than one armed police officer at the board, and only when a contentious public hearing is scheduled. Part of ignoring constituent anger, is hiding behind armed guards so you can continue to thumb your nose at residents, and advance your agenda.

When you consider this is Black History Month, you'd think the planning department and board in a liberal county like this would be bending over backwards to be sensitive to the concerns of the Macedonia Baptist Church, rather than appeasing the fiscal timeline of an out-of-state developer. Yet black, white, and Asian protesters were denied their First Amendment rights to carry signs into the public board meeting yesterday right off the bat. Even our corrupt County Council has never enforced such a rule.

Protesters silently waited at the back of the room until the meeting recessed, and then a representative of the church, Marcia Coleman-Adebayo, approached Anderson to deliver a community petition. Anderson refused to accept it. He was technically correct that he should not speak to any side in a matter pending before the board, but he has been quick to ignore that rule when a developer wants to speak with him, as detailed in my report yesterday. But did Anderson need three armed police officers surrounding him to have a civil conversation? And could he simply have accepted the petition and handed it to a staff member?

The racial and gender subtexts of the encounter made it all the more troubling - and surprising - in a county many have assumed was progressive and politically-correct to a fault. Concerns of the church have always taken a back seat to the concerns of Equity One at the board, as the agenda for February 23 shows. Perhaps the Montgomery County political cartel, under pressure from its developer overlords, "doesn't have time to be politically correct anymore." Let's take a look:
Coleman-Adebayo (R) attempts
to hand Anderson (L) the petition;
he refuses to accept it

Now, let's zoom out and
examine the "threat matrix"
here - two women speaking
to Anderson (center),
two children and
Rev. Nancy McDonald-Ladd
(second from right) of the River Road
Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
Does this conversation appear in
need of police intervention to you?
Here comes Officer 1 to
Anderson's side

A second officer hurries over, and
they form a phalanx around
Anderson. A third officer
is standing to my left. 

Zoom out again -
all I see here are
women and children
having a civil discussion,
or listening quietly
Seemingly sensing how bad
the optics of this are,
Deputy Planning Director Rose Krasnow
appears to intervene. She
places her hand on the shoulder of one
of the officers, saying something to him
and to Anderson. Anderson shortly
thereafter exited the room
On video of the episode, Krasnow
can be seen grimacing twice at the
events transpiring. As an experienced
mayor and official from a time of
kindler, gentler Montgomery County
politics, my hunch is Krasnow would
not have wasted 7 officers' time pulling
them off the street for a non-event

like this, if she were
in charge