Monday, April 30, 2018

Bel Pre Road resident missing

A resident of Bel Pre Road is missing, and police are seeking the public's help in locating him. Sairaj Nitin Shinde, 25, of Bel Pre Road, hasn't been seen or heard from since sending a text message to friends at approximately 1:00 PM on April 26. Detectives believe that Shinde is driving his white 2017 Honda Civic with Maryland tags: 9DB7439.

Police describe Sairaj Nitin Shinde as a white male, 5’ 6” tall, weighing 160 pounds. He has short black hair and brown eyes. Police and family members are concerned for Mr. Shinde’s physical and emotional welfare.

Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Sairaj Nitin Shinde or his vehicle to call the Montgomery County Police Department’s non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Bel Pre death now a homicide

Ruel Francis Dempster II
The death of a woman last week in an apartment on Bel Pre Road in Aspen Hill has been declared a homicide by Montgomery County police detectives. Alice Mino Dennis, 34, was found dead on the kitchen floor of her home in the 3600 block of Bel Pre Road on the morning of April 18. She had suffered trauma to her upper body, and the state medical examiner declared the death a homicide following an autopsy.

Police are now seeking Dennis' husband as the primary suspect in her death, which detectives allege occurred after a domestic dispute between the two. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Ruel Francis Dempster II, 30, who also lived in the apartment at the time of her death.

Dempster is described by police as an "African male, approximately 6’00” tall and 180 pounds." He has a prominent gold front tooth. Detectives say Dempster II was seen in Baltimore on the afternoon of April 17.

Anyone with information about Dempster’s whereabouts is urged to call the Montgomery County Police Department at 301-279-8000 (24/7 line) or Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  Callers may remain anonymous.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

MoCo Council At-Large candidate forum tonight in Aspen Hill

A candidate forum for the Montgomery County Council At-Large race will be held tonight, April 26, 2018, at 7:30 PM at the Aspen Hill Library, located at 4407 Aspen Hill Road. The forum is sponsored by the Aspen Hill Civic Association, Friends of the Aspen Hill Library, the Aspen Hill Library Advisory Committee, and the Strathmore-Bel Pre Civic Association.

Among the candidates participating will be Robert Dyer. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wheaton residents exasperated with MoCo's failure to enforce laws on residential streets

Forget illegal parking within 35' of
a stop sign - this car is parked AT the
stop sign
Wheaton residents are questioning why Montgomery County is not putting more code and law enforcement resources into their area, as crimes and violations continue to increase. Four years after Connecticut Avenue Estates requested more assistance with illegal trash dumping on neighborhood streets, the problem persists. Parking of work trucks and rampant parking violations, including vehicles left too close to driveways and intersections, go unpunished across Wheaton neighborhoods. This despite new parking laws having been passed almost a decade ago to supposedly address the issue.
Illegal parking at driveway
Kimblyn Persaud, President of the Wheaton Regional Park Neighborhood Association, says Wheaton residents deserve the same level of enforcement and quality of life as those living in Bethesda. While the County has occasionally deployed more officers to the neighborhood in response to complaints, Persaud argues those efforts need to be sustained and ongoing to have any real impact. "The bottom line is, we need dedicated officers," she said.
"You can't see around these working vans, cars and vans are parked all the way to end of the corner, past stop signs and right into the street," Persaud added. "Large commercial vehicles, in violation of height restrictions, are still being allowed to park on residential streets, cars are often parked in the wrong direction, food trucks allowed to be stored on the streets and numerous garbage cans and cones holding parking spaces. Where is the quality of life in living like this, and why should we have to wait till a child, darting between work vans, gets hit?"
At the same time, increasing crime, gang activity and drug deals are taking up much of the time of those officers who are on patrol. "Even officers don't feel safe over here," Persaud said. "Nobody but a fool would walk by themselves down Shorefield [Road] and Connecticut Avenue Estates at night, and that's including officers.  So when a complaint is called in, officers respond by driving by, but they haven't been stopping!"
Persaud questions why Wheaton residents are being treated as children of a lesser god, despite the great wealth and progressive politics of Montgomery County. Given the highly-diverse demographics of Wheaton, she said race may be a factor. During scandals like Farm Road and the Moses African Cemetery in recent years, institutional racism in Montgomery County government has indeed come to light. In fact, the County Executive and County Council offices, and the Planning Board, have each called in as many as 7 police officers to confront African-Americans exercising their First Amendment rights to testify and peacefully protest. Police have never been called on white residents under the same circumstances, a disparity that should be under an even brighter spotlight after the recent Starbucks incident.
"The continued perpetuation of structural racism not only hurts Wheaton and Montgomery County, but it hurts us as individuals," Persaud said.  "We deserve to be safe, we deserve to have the protection of the police, from both crime and parking violations. We deserve clean neighborhoods, that are not roach and rat-infested." She cited promises made four years ago in emails by Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and George Leventhal, which have proven to be empty promises.  "We deserve so much better than what this County Executive and County Council has done," she said.
Illegal dumping remains a problem,
four years after the Council promised to end it

Illegal parking up against an

Parked cars in a no-parking zone

Parking within 35' of an intersection
along Shorefield Road
Photos: Kimblyn Persaud

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Silver Spring teen missing

A Silver Spring teen who lives in the Avenel/New Hampshire Avenue area of Silver Spring has been missing since Saturday night. Javier Flores-Trujillo, 17, was last seen by a family member when he left his Northampton Drive residence on foot around 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.

Police describe Flores-Trujillo as a Latino male, 5’09” tall, 220 pounds. with black hair and brown eyes.  Flores-Trujillo was last seen wearing a black jacket, green pants, and blue and white tennis shoes.  He is known to frequent the Nob Hill Apartment complex in the 9100 block of Piney Branch Road.

Police and his family say they are concerned for his welfare.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Javier Flores-Trujillo is asked to call the Montgomery County Police Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24 hours).

Monday, April 23, 2018

Wheaton Library construction update (Photos)

Here's where construction stands on the new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center at Georgia and Arcola Avenues. The facility is expected to be completed next summer. Although that will be over a year after the original promised delivery date of summer 2018, the County should get credit for one thing - using American steel.
I was thrilled to see an "Amthor Steel Erie, PA" stencil on the side of the library's roof last month. If you know how hard Erie has been hit by factory closures, and jobs being shipped overseas, this is an optimistic sign. I've also heard of at least 3 blast furnaces reopening around the country, due to the recent tariffs on foreign steel. The jobs are coming back. Buy American!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Jerry's Subs & Pizza to open new downtown Silver Spring location

A new Jerry's Subs & Pizza location is coming to downtown Silver Spring. The restaurant will take over the empty Flippin' Pizza space at 8517 Colesville Road.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

MDOT meeting on Hogan Express Lanes plan for I-495, I-270 tonight in Bethesda

The Maryland Department of Transportation held a public meeting last night in Clarksburg to introduce basic information about Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes proposal for I-495 and I-270, and get preliminary feedback from attendees. An identical open house will be held tonight, Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 6:30-8:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

Officials said future meetings will offer more specifics on alternatives, as well as environmental and property issues. Another public meeting will be held this year, and a public hearing on the environmental impact statement in 2019. MDOT anticipates a final Record of Decision on the project in 2020.

Hogan is aiming for an expedited design and approval process for the project, which will largely be built through private funds, costing taxpayers very little. Among the private firms who have already joined the Express Lanes team are Ernst & Young and CDM Smith.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Business groups to hold MoCo Democratic county executive debate April 27

Several Montgomery County and regional business groups will host a debate between Democratic candidates for County Executive on Friday, April 27, 2018 from 8:00-10:30 AM at The Universities at Shady Grove. Republican Robin Ficker is also running for the office, but has not been invited to participate. Attendees will also receive a presentation on County economic indicators from Anirban Basu (pictured) of the Sage Policy Group.

The event is free, but you need to register online in advance.

MoCo Council proposes taxpayer-funded lawyers for illegal immigrants facing deportation

Illegal immigrants
convicted of murder,
rape would be eligible
for taxpayer-funded
lawyers if they have 
a "potentially 
meritorious" case

The Montgomery County Council has introduced a "special appropriation" of $373,957 to fund free lawyers for illegal immigrants facing deportation. County Councilmember Nancy Navarro said she was proud that the Council would use taxpayer funds to defend illegal immigrants from deportation, adding that Tuesday's proposal "doubled down on our commitment to protect our immigrant community."

While the Council resolution claims in one section that illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes such as murder and rape would not be eligible for the taxpayer-funded legal assistance, that claim is negated by later wording.

On Page 3 of the resolution, the text notes that illegal immigrants convicted of murder, rape, sexual offenses, armed carjacking, kidnapping, child kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse, gang participation, human trafficking and "abducting a child under 16 for prostitution" would be eligible for taxpayer-funded legal counsel if "the individual has a potentially meritorious claim for immigration relief from removal in the form of a claim to United States citizenship, protection under the Convention Against Torture, U/T Visa, or Refugee Adjustment."

A public hearing on the appropriation will be held on May 1 at the County Council Building, located at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The County is currently facing a budget shortfall of $208,000,000.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Humiliating: Montgomery County loses another one

Gerber to move
New Jersey HQ to

The Gerber baby is the latest to hand the Montgomery County Council their [briefcases] in our newest loss to Northern Virginia in the economic development sphere. 1812 North Moore in Rosslyn will be the new address for the baby food giant's world headquarters, bringing 150 more good jobs to Virginia. Gerber has leased 23392 SF of office space at the gleaming new office building.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the Commonwealth's latest defeat of Montgomery County "reaffirms that Virginia is a prime location for headquarters operations." Gerber joins Northrop Grumman, Hilton Hotels, Volkswagen, Corporate Executive Board, Nestle and Intelsat in Northern Virginia's economic development trophy case. And those are just the ones in recent years - Montgomery County, by contrast, hasn't attracted a single major corporate HQ in two decades, a humiliating comparison.
“Gaining the headquarters of the iconic Gerber brand is an important win for Arlington County and the Commonwealth, and we are thrilled to welcome Gerber to Virginia’s corporate roster,” Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade Esther Lee said in a statement Monday. Virginia will give $862,500 and a Major Business Facility Tax Credit to Gerber. In return, Arlington County will enjoy a $5 million headquarters investment by Gerber, and an estimated $4.2 million in net revenue as a result of the new HQ.
"We are thrilled to welcome Gerber to Arlington's business community," said Katie Cristol, Chair of the Arlington County Board. The Montgomery County Council? Not so much.
MoCo's latest economic development defeat comes on the heels of a devastating report that the County has had the worst new business growth rate in the entire D.C. region; only tiny Falls Church City had a lower growth rate, and has only 12,000 residents to Montgomery's 1.4 million inhabitants.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: 900 Thayer Avenue (Photos)

900 Thayer Avenue is finally getting started. Developed by Chesapeake Realty Partners and Redbrick Partners, it will feature 124 apartments, 6000 SF of retail space, two courtyards, a fitness center and a Resident's Club. The project - originally billed as "The Adele" - has been delayed so long that the marketing materials describe the now-open Silver Spring Library as "under construction."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Takoma Park Mayor & Council to hold public hearing on traffic calming on Fifth Avenue

Blue represents proposed speed bump locations on
Fifth Avenue; yellow represents the two bump-outs
proposed for Fifth at Westmoreland Avenue
Takoma Park's Mayor & Council will hold a public hearing on a request for a traffic calming project on Fifth Avenue, between Orchard and Eastern Avenues, next Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 7:30 PM at 7500 Maple Avenue. A neighborhood petition obtained the required number of signatures to trigger the public hearing.

The three proposed speed bumps and two bump-outs would cost taxpayers an estimated $8000. A vote on the matter will be held in May.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

4 Wheaton Triangle businesses impacted by Lot 13 construction receive financial assistance

Small businesses located adjacent to the
Wheaton redevelopment project at Lot 13
Montgomery County says it has distributed over $34,000 among four Wheaton Triangle businesses that were able to demonstrate they have been adversely-impacted by the Lot 13 County office building construction project. Money distributed to each of the four ranged from $3,400 to $16,196.

Fifteen other Triangle businesses have applied for similar awards, but their applications are still being reviewed, County officials say. The most any one business can receive over the entire construction period is $75,000. There are about 90 businesses nearby that the County thinks could be impacted by the construction and disruptions in the area.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sidewalk work on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

Sidewalk work is underway in the 8200 block of Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Businesses remain open during the repairs; they are just a little more awkward to get to.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

MoCo Council bill would steal money from disabled, seniors for BRT slush fund

After voting to tax Uber rides to subsidize failing Barwood Cab, which ended with Barwood filing for bankruptcy anyway, now the Montgomery County Council is trying to convert funds the tax earmarked for seniors and the disabled into a slush fund it can use for the $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle. Bill 13-18, sponsored by Council President Helpless Hans Riemer, would strip all language from the Uber tax that directed funds to transportation for the disabled, elderly and poor, and "instead allow use of the fund for any transportation purpose in the County."

We already knew that the Uber tax, as I warned in my testimony opposing it, would hurt County residents and Uber drivers alike. Exactly as I predicted, Uber rides became more expensive, Uber drivers are being paid less than they were a few years ago, and no new ride-sharing competitor has entered the Montgomery County market since the tax was imposed.

This also made the County less appealing to the young professionals the Council has tried to publicly claim they wanted to attract, as millennials overwhelmingly use Uber rather than taxicabs. To our stuck-in-the-60s Council, diesel buses and Barwood Cab are still considered state-of-the-art transportation.

But now the Council is adding insult to severe economic injury to the County. When passing the Uber tax, the bleeding-heart language related to improving transportation for the disabled and elderly was used by the Council in the media as a fig leaf, to cover the anti-progress, fight-the-future nature of the Uber tax.

Now the Council is cravenly plotting to steal the money out of the hands of the disabled and elderly, and use it to fund their struggling $10 billion BRT boondoggle. The County, currently facing a $208,000,000 budget shortfall, has been unable to find enough funds for the BRT scheme. They failed to create an independent transit authority twice, which would have had unlimited power to tax and spend with no oversight by any elected official. Recently, they tried and failed to have their allies in Annapolis give them "quick-take" land seizure authority, which would have allowed them to seize homes and businesses - not only for the demolitions BRT will require along each route, but which could also have been sold to generate more money for the unfunded BRT boondoggle.

Desperate for money, the greedy Council will now try to pry it from the hands of disabled, poor and elderly residents, and put it into the pockets of themselves and their developer sugar daddies, whom the whole BRT scheme was dreamed up to profit.

It's outrageous.

It's bad enough Uber and Lyft riders have had to pay more, and via the tax pay Barwood Cab even if they weren't using their services. But to then find out the Council used the disabled and seniors to actually gain a new revenue source for their BRT boondoggle, this is a new low for even this corrupt Council.