got into the banking business. Despite there being a bank on almost every corner, and of every size, the Council thought it was time start their own bank - using your money, of course. $572,000 of your money in FY-2018 alone, to be exact. The result is the newest patronage scheme by our corrupt County Council, with real potential to put taxpayer dollars into the campaign accounts of councilmembers.
Here's how the scheme works. Small businesses based in Montgomery County can apply for microloans of $500-$15,000 from the Council's new "bank." The individuals who decide who gets the money are all either appointed directly by the Council, or are closely within their political orbit. So corrupt councilmembers could absolutely influence who gets the loans.
Once the businessperson obtains the loan, there is nothing to stop him or her from donating some of that money to the councilmembers' campaign accounts. This has happened in the past with another Council patronage scheme - the funding of non-profits. Councilmembers vote on which non-profits get money. They decide the exact dollar amounts given to the non-profits. Officers of those non-profits, who often earn salaries from their non-profit, have then made campaign contributions to the councilmembers who fought to obtain the funding for them. In some cases, they've made the maximum contribution allowed by law.
Both schemes may now become even more essential in the new age of public financing. We now know what I predicted in 2014 was correct - the specific public financing program passed by the Council was designed primarily to help Council incumbents, not challengers. Longtime councilmembers have vast numbers of patrons from which to extract the many, many small donations needed to unlock the taxpayer-funded public matching funds.
With the new bank "microloans," and the same non-profit scheme, an even larger portfolio of political patrons can now be developed. Meanwhile, challengers have no such Rolodex to draw upon. True public financing would give every candidate a reasonable amount of funds from which to get their message out. Montgomery County's does not. So many incumbents have signed up for the public financing option, there's a real possibility the funds will be depleted. What then? They'll simply make an appropriation of more of your taxpayer dollars.
Three ways to use your taxpayer dollars to fund their campaigns. It's outrageous. And it's amazing how the Council can find $572,000 in the sofa cushions for microloans, and millions in public funds for their campaigns, but not for a host of other more urgent needs. Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."
How do we get this ripe-for-corruption system under control? By passing a law to prevent those receiving these microloans, or who receive income from non-profits awarded funds by the Council, from donating money to political candidates who have influence over the awarding of those loans and funds. A reasonable approach to keeping the corrupt hand of the Montgomery County cartel from getting yet another chance to pick your pocket, to profit themselves. Demand all candidates support such a rule change in 2018.
Aspen Hill • Bel Pre • Burtonsville • Connecticut Avenue Estates • Four Corners • Glenmont • Hillandale • Kemp Mill • Langley Crossroads • Leisure World • Long Branch • Silver Spring • Wheaton • White Oak • Woodmoor • Takoma Park
Friday, April 28, 2017
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Silver Spring construction update: Central (Photos)
The Grosvenor Americas mixed-use project is scheduled for delivery in Summer 2017. A total of 243 residential units, and 17,000 SF of retail/restaurant space, will be located steps away from the world-class Silver Spring Library and future Purple Line station.
On an interesting related note, the global Grosvenor Group released its annual report earlier this week. In it, they noted that positive financial results from their Grosvenor Americas division (the developer of Central) - along with the group's Asia division - helped them offset losses from a real estate downturn in the U.K.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
More boardrooms to be replaced by bedrooms in Silver Spring
At 8605 Cameron Street, Guardian Building Associates, LLC is proposing to transform the Guardian office building into 177 apartments, and 7496 SF of retail and restaurant space. The applicant claims the building is mostly vacant, not surprising given the County's moribund private sector economy, and the anti-business climate our elected officials have fostered. It doesn't help that every economic development trip the County Council has taken has been to a Communist country.
The Guardian project sketch plan will go before the County's Development Review Committee on May 2. There's certainly a cosmetic improvement in this from what is there today, but Montgomery County needs more boardrooms right now, not more bedrooms.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Ellsworth Place puts prime street frontage space up for lease in Silver Spring (Photos)
Monday, April 24, 2017
BIBIBOP Asian Grill taking over former ShopHouse in Silver Spring (Photos)
Columbus was recently named the most high-tech city in America by Forbes magazine (the city actually has a long history of high-tech innovation, for those familiar with it). This likely befuddled our Montgomery County Council. When not struggling to find the doorknob to get out of the room, our Council has bumbled through one tech gaffe after another this decade. Gaffes ranged from the revelation that the County government was still using Windows 2000...in 2014, to a humiliating state audit of cybersecurity failures at MCPS, and even Councilmember Hans Riemer breaking his own failed open-data law.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Watch the demolition of the Wheaton Library (Video)
video of the demolition of the venerable Wheaton Library. Two hours, thirty-nine minutes, and forty-seven seconds of destruction, for your viewing pleasure. Sad to see this one go, but the demolished Wheaton Youth Center next door was architecture and history truly worth saving. Led Zeppelin did play there!
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Wheaton redevelopment construction to start in June
|Parking Lot 34 has been modified|
in preparation for the start of
the Wheaton redevelopment project
Montgomery County is citing the addition of two floors to the office building, and of a geothermal feature designed to help the structure achieve a Platinum LEED certification, as the two reasons for the delay in groundbreaking. In addition, some adjacent property owners were uncooperative regarding the use of tie-backs in excavation retaining walls. Those negotiations also added to the delays, according to Mid-County Regional Services Center Director Luisa Montero.
In preparation for the partial closure of Lot 13 in the Wheaton Triangle, Montgomery County has converted the Ennalls Public Parking Lot (Lot 34 at Ennalls and Grandview) into 2 hour spaces. They have also added more handicapped parking spaces in that lot. Taste of Wheaton will still be held in Lot 13 on the first Sunday in June.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
La Madeleine closes in Silver Spring (Photos)
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Montgomery County wants to increase your Rain Tax by 9.7%
County Executive Ike Leggett is recommending a whopping 9.7% increase in the Rain Tax, er, "Water Quality Protection Charge," for FY-2018. The County has already determined the amount of impervious surface on your property to determine your charge, by looking at an aerial photo. Very scientific.
You'll also pay higher property taxes this year, as rising assessments create an automatic tax increase even when the tax rate doesn't change. And the County Council gets another salary increase, just like Bell, California. The difference is, Bell's Council is in prison, and ours is still free and on-the-take.
Throw the bums out. Or #LockThemUp.
MoCo's number of registered voters exceeds its voting-age population, foundation threatens to sue
Voter fraud can often involve people impersonating voters known to be deceased, or to have moved away, at polling places. In Montgomery County, only the most basic personal information (name, address, date of birth) about a deceased or absent voter would need to be known to vote using their name at the polls. Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D) warned last year that "We've seen fraud committed in our state in prior elections." Cardin and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) implored voters to "let us know" if they "encounter fraud or misconduct" at polling places.
Maintaining up-to-date voter rolls is required of states under federal law. Judicial Watch is demanding Maryland force Montgomery County to remove all ineligible voters from its rolls in 90 days, or they will sue the state - and ten others - for violating Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act.
“Dirty election rolls can mean dirty elections,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “These 11 states face possible Judicial Watch lawsuits, unless they follow the law and take reasonable steps to clean up their voting rolls of dead, moved, and non-citizen voters.”
Wheaton Metro robbery suspects still at large (Photos)
In reality, around 5:40 PM Sunday, the alleged robbers didn't simply threaten violence or twist the victim's arm. Instead, the four suspects approached a man, and one sat down next to him and demanded the victim's phone. When the victim declined to cooperate, he was savagely beaten with fists.
"Give me that damn phone!!" one said as they beat the man, and also picked his pockets. The four assailants ran off the train at the Wheaton station, and remain at large. Their victim was hospitalized. These attacks happen frequently in the District, but not very often in Montgomery County, making this something that needs to be nipped in the bud.
Don't expect our low-energy County Council to do anything about it; they have yet to comment on any of the gang-related shootings in Wheaton over the last three years.
If you can identify any of these four suspects, Metro Transit Police would like to talk to you. Call them at 301-955-5000, or text MyMTPD, and reference case number #2017-07929.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Pollo Campero coming to downtown Silver Spring (Photos)
Dallas-based Pollo Campero was founded in Guatemala in 1971, and boasts that it offers "authentic Latin chicken." The chain currently has a Wheaton location, as well. If they stay open late enough, they could make a killing on folks leaving concerts next door.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Police investigate hate crime in Wheaton
Anyone with information about this hate-based vandalism is asked to contact the 4th District Investigative Section at 240-773-5530. For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s). Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Wheaton woman missing (Photo)
|Sandra Yaritza Diaz|
Diaz is described as a Latina, 5’7” tall, and weighing 150 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes.
Police and family members are concerned for Ms. Diaz’s physical and emotional well-being.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Sandra Yaritza Diaz is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24 hours). Callers may remain anonymous.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Despite fake news headlines, you won't be buying liquor at grocery, drug or convenience stores in MoCo
Here are the facts:
The Maryland General Assembly just passed a bill which will only allow privately-owned beer and wine stores to sell liquor. Clever language in the bill specifically excludes grocery stores, drug stores, and convenience stores. Even popular convenience stores that currently sell beer and wine, like Talbert's in Bethesda, will be ineligible to sell liquor.
The new law allows the DLC to decide the criteria for the granting of contracts with private beer and wine stores by itself, with no public input or transparency. DLC, in other words, can decide the terms of competition itself. Profits for whichever few retailers DLC decides to "compete" with will likely be limited by the monopoly control over price, and that means no savings for you, the customer.
It's also unlikely that private beer and wine stores could be competitive with County-owned liquor stores on inventory, because the County stores are physically larger than stores which have been only allowed to sell beer and wine. And they'll still have to deal with the same DLC inventory and delivery problems that have hampered their existing beer and wine sales.
Once again, County politicians have tried to "look busy," even as they bolster and preserve the government liquor monopoly. Real change would be full privatization of beer, wine and spirit sales in Montgomery County, and being able to buy Bud Light or a bottle of wine at Safeway or Rite Aid. That did not happen with this new law.
Fact check score for fake news "liquor to be sold at privately-owned stores" headlines, designed to fool people who don't read the articles for the details?
Four Pinocchios/Pants on Fire
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Silver Spring construction update: Core (Photos)
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Silver Spring black history tour set for May 6
Meet in front of the Cameron Street Garage (Public Parking Garage 7) at 8530 Cameron Street at 11:00 AM. Dr. David Rotenstein will lead you on a two-hour, two-mile history walk around downtown Silver Spring.
Along the route, you will stop and learn about a variety of sites associated with black history and the civil rights struggle.
Police seek suspect who exposed himself, touched teen girl on bus in Wheaton (Photo)
Police say a 17-year-old girl boarded a Ride On bus at the Twinbrook Metro station that evening, and sat down at the back of the bus. She told detectives that the man above, who was already aboard the bus, moved back to sit next to her. After a brief "conversation," he then exposed himself to her, and touched her "inappropriately."
As the bus stopped near the intersection of Randolph Road and Dalewood Drive around 7:30 PM, the girl went forward and told the bus driver what had happened. The bus driver called the police, at which point the suspect was allowed to exit the bus. He apparently was nonchalant enough to take time to collect his bicycle from the mounted rack on the bus, which he then pedaled south on Dalewood Drive, in a successful getaway attempt.
Detectives ask that anyone who recognizes the suspect or who has information about this incident please contact the 4th District Investigative Section at 240-773-5530. For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the suspect. Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
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