Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Silver Springs Effect strikes again

Another example of the Silver Springs Effect, the phenomenon of celebrities adding an extra "s" to the end of Silver Spring, has been recorded. Not surprisingly, it has occurred in a music-related setting again. The artists are less of a household name than Stevie Nicks or JoJo, but it's more likely their concert promoter who made the actual gaffe. A tweet promoting the summer tour of The Driver Era and Summer Salt lists a date at The Fillmore, which the poster declares is located in "Silver Springs, MD."

Monday, May 30, 2022

Strong-arm robbery in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at a home on Carroll Avenue yesterday evening. The victim reported the robbery in the driveway of their home in the 7100 block of Carroll, according to crime data.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Tornado watch issued for Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., parts of Maryland and Virginia until 2 PM

Montgomery County is under a tornado watch until 2:00 PM today, May 27, 2022. The National Weather Service has issued the tornado watch for Washington, D.C., and large portions of Maryland and Virginia. A tornado watch means that weather conditions may generate one or more tornadoes in our area. Isolated hail up to a quarter in size is possible. Winds may gust up to 70 MPH.

Violent thunderstorms are possible this afternoon and evening. The area is under a flood watch until 11:00 PM tonight. High temperature today will be 74 degrees. Accuweather is predicting thunderstorms are likely between 3:00 and 6:00 PM today, and around 9:00 PM tonight.

If a tornado is reported in your area, move quickly into a basement level or interior room. Take a flashlight and listen to local weather information on a cellphone or battery-powered radio. In advance of storms, take the opportunity to charge your cellphone. Remove any items that might blow away from your yard or balcony.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rue 21 opens at Wheaton Plaza

Rue 21
has opened at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. It was back in October 2021 that I broke the story that the fast-fashion retailer would be returning to the mall. The Gen-Z targeted chain is one of the few mall stalwarts to thrive nationwide during the pandemic. As a result, Rue 21 finds itself in the enviable position of growing its roster of stores while other brands pare down locations, including the two new Maryland stores here and in Waldorf. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Surging Wes Moore, Donald Trump-endorsed Dan Cox top Google searches in Maryland governor race

Democrat Wes Moore (left) and
Republican Dan Cox top Google searches
in Maryland governor race

The lack of polling in the Maryland race to decide who will succeed Republican Larry Hogan as governor is leaving pundits, candidates and voters alike in the dark. On the Democratic side of the contest, all prognosticators have had to look at recently are a straw poll, a tracking poll obtained by WUSA 9, and a poll conducted for the Wes Moore campaign by a well-known polling firm; no major polling data has been released on the Republican side of the race. One other data point we can look at is Google search data in Google Trends. It doesn't tell us who voters will cast their ballots for, but it does indicate whom the voters want to know more about, and which candidates' names are on the minds of the public.

Wes Moore (red) vs. Dan Cox (blue) in 
Google searches over the last year

Democrat Wes Moore is by far the most-searched for candidate in the governor race over the last year, according to Google Trends data. Among Republicans, Delegate Dan Cox is the most-searched for by a wide margin. Democrat Tom Perez is very competitive with Cox over the last year, making him the second most-searched for Democrat. Moore easily tops all Democrats, although it is difficult to get an accurate result for John King, as searches for the CNN journalist of the same name are mixed in with those for the gubernatorial candidate. "John King Jr" produces a trend line far below that of Moore's.

Wes Moore (blue) vs. Democrats Tom Perez (yellow), 
Peter Franchot (red), Doug Gansler (green) and
Rushern Baker (purple)

Each of the three boast big-impact endorsers, and their popularity in Google search is consistent over the last year, less dependent on events to spike interest. All three also benefit from having a national profile. While Republican candidate Kelly Schulz is well-known in Maryland GOP circles, she is still introducing herself to voters outside of the party, including a six-figure radio and TV ad buy this month in the Baltimore and Washington markets. 

Dan Cox (blue) vs. Republicans Kelly Schulz (red),
Robin Ficker (yellow), Joe Werner (green)

Google Trends won't tell us definitively who the actual frontrunners are, or who is likely to win. But they tell us who is on the minds of the voters, and who they want to know more about. They provide another intriguing view of the race for political junkies, and another data point to synthesize with what little else is out there - fundraising totals, endorsements, event turnout, etc. - to give us some insight into one of the most competitive and fog-shrouded horse races for Maryland's top office in recent history.

Dan Cox (blue) neck-and-neck with Tom Perez (red)
in Google searches over the last year

Wes Moore (blue) vs. Democrats John King, Jr. (red),
Jon Baron (yellow), Ashwani Jain (green) and
Jerome Segal (purple)

Wes Moore (blue) vs. Kelly Schulz (red)

Car reported stolen at Wheaton auto dealership

Montgomery County police were called to an auto dealership in Wheaton when a car was reported stolen there late yesterday afternoon. The theft was reported at a dealership in the 11100 block of Veirs Mill Road at 5:37 PM Tuesday, according to crime data. A Lindsay Ford Used Car Super Center is located on that block of Veirs Mill.

Gas prices stable in Montgomery County as Maryland governor, comptroller squabble over July gas tax hike

Gas prices on River Road in
Bethesda late Tuesday night

Gas prices, by and large, haven't increased that much in Montgomery County since last week. The most notable hikes spotted as of late Tuesday night were on River Road in Bethesda, topping out at 14 cents at one station. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) have squabbled back and forth this week about the scheduled state gas tax hike from 36 to 43 cents on July 1, 2022. Hogan has asked Franchot to take action to protect consumers. The comptroller, who is running for governor, said he has no authority to do so. He suggested Hogan declare an emergency, or call the legislature back into emergency session.

Regular gas for cash-paying customers was actually down a cent from last Thursday at Marathon at 5143 River Road in Bethesda yesterday. Liberty on River was the same price as last Thursday yesterday at $4.69, according to the Gas Buddy app. But prices last night were up at other stations along that River Road strip: Sunoco was up 14 cents to $4.83. Mobil was up to $4.84, and Shell at $4.89. Citgo up on Westbard Avenue was 4-10 cents cheaper at $4.79.

Gas prices held steady in higher-priced downtown Bethesda. Regular was $4.97 at the Exxon at 8240 Wisconsin Avenue, and $4.99 at the two Liberty stations on Bradley Boulevard.

The cheapest cashless payment gas in Montgomery County as of late Tuesday night was found in Rockville at the Liberty station at 5400 Randolph Road, where regular was going for $4.45. If you can pay in cash, your buck would go further at Sunoco at 18701 Liberty Mill Road in Germantown ($4.42), Liberty at 26241 Ridge Road in Damascus ($4.43) and Freestate at 20650 Frederick Road in Germantown ($4.43).

As of last night, your other cheapest options are Carroll Motor Fuels at 26234 Ridge Road in Damascus ($4.45 cash), Liberty at 1900 Rockville Pike in Rockville ($4.46 - cash), and Shell at 2240 Veirs Mill Road in Rockville ($4.49).

In general, the cheapesr gas stations outside of Bethesda are largely charging about the same, or a few pennies more, as last week. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Tree removal to impact traffic on part of Cedar Avenue Wednesday in Takoma Park

A tree removal in the 7200 block of Cedar Avenue in Takoma Park tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25, 2022 will impact traffic for an extended period of the day. Because a crane is being brought in for the work, expect temporary and extended lane and road closures. The tree contractor will have signage and flagmen on duty to assist drivers, but it's probably smartest to simply detour around the mess, as it's not the widest street to begin with.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Number 1 Pharmacy opens, Smoke Island coming soon at Glenmont Shopping Center

The Glenmont Shopping Center is welcoming two new tenants. Number 1 Pharmacy is now open. They've had a location in Layhill prior to this. Coming soon next to Pizza Hut will be Smoke Island. The tobacco retailer is in a major expansion phase in Montgomery County; they carry cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes and liquids, vaporizers, hookah equipment and accessories, flavored wraps, and rolling papers.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Pennsylvania's Doug Mastriano to campaign for Trump-endorsed GOP governor candidate Dan Cox in Maryland

Fresh off his victory as the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor Tuesday, State Senator Doug Mastriano is coming to Maryland on June 25, to campaign for fellow Donald Trump endorsee Dan Cox in his run for Maryland governor. Mastriano will headline a rally for Cox, a state delegate in the Maryland House, at Leaping Greenly Farm in Hampstead. In addition to having Trump's endorsement in Maryland, Cox sees himself in a similar position as Mastriano in another way, taking on the establishment of his state party and being attacked as a result.

Mastriano has energized the GOP base in Pennsylvania like no statewide candidate since Rick Santorum in the mid-1990s. Unlike many Trump-backed hopefuls, Mastriano was already well-positioned for victory before receiving the Mar-a-Lago endorsement. A retired colonel in the U.S. Army who holds a PhD., Mastriano's ability to mobilize the religious right in his state has resulted in dozens of negative media reports describing him as a "Christian nationalist." He has been a focus of controversy for his efforts on behalf of Trump's "stop-the-steal" campaign in Pennsylvania after the 2020 election, and for his proposed changes to election laws, controversies that have only boosted his appeal among Republican voters.

Most controversial has been Mastriano's proposal to require all Pennsylvania voters to re-register to vote, to weed out inactive names on the state's voter rolls. Election integrity is sure to come up at the June 25 Cox rally in Maryland, as "voter integrity advocate" Captain Seth Keshel is also on the list of speakers for the event. Integrity of elections was also a central theme when Mastriano announced his endorsement of Cox last year.

Like the Trump endorsement, the Mastriano appearance is likely to thrill the large number of Maryland Republicans who still support the former president. Establishment Republican operatives concerned about relitigating the 2020 election when Gov. Larry Hogan-endorsed candidate Kelly Schulz is seen as most-likely to hold Hogan's broad coalition together in November 2022 are less intoxicated. Hogan and surrogates have unleashed attacks against Cox, while Schulz has touted her successful work as Commerce Secretary, which was bolstered further this week with Greenland Technologies Holding Corporation's announcement it will build an industrial vehicle manufacturing plant in White Marsh. Greenland's decision, like those of Hitachi and United Safety Technology to build Maryland plants, was made during Schulz's tenure at Commerce.

Cox is counting on high-profile endorsers like Trump and Mastriano, and the enthusiasm they generate, to outmaneuver the advantages Schulz may have. Polling of the GOP race in Maryland has been minimal compared to Pennsylvania, meaning that there is little sense of where likely voters stand on the Republican hopefuls, who also include former state delegate Robin Ficker and attorney Joe Werner. 

The June 25th Cox rally with Mastriano is currently described as "free admission," and sponsorships are going for as high as $6000. An announcement says all attendees must register online to gain admission, however.

Photo via Dan Cox for Governor

Doug Gansler endorsed by 8 current and former Maryland State's Attorneys in governor race

Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler picked up another round of endorsements in the Democratic race for Maryland governor on Thursday. Underlining his campaign theme of "bringing crime down and bringing justice up," Gansler was joined by eight current and former State's Attorneys from across Maryland for a press conference to receive their endorsement of his campaign in a crowded Democratic field. He was also joined by running mate Candace Hollingsworth, who served six years as the first black mayor of Hyattsville, and founded Our Black Party after the death of George Floyd.

Current Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said she has known Gansler for over twenty years, and has modeled her office operations after the way Gansler ran his when he was State's Attorney of Montgomery County. "There is no other candidate on either side of the ticket that has the experience that he has — the 22 years in law enforcement on three different levels," she noted. "[H]e has gained the trust of the voters over the years because he works hard and gets the job done.”

“It’s my pleasure to be here, because as with Anne, I’ve known Doug Gansler for almost a quarter-century now – from the time he started as State’s Attorney in Montgomery County where he was for eight years and his eight years as Attorney General for the state of Maryland," current Talbot County State’s Attorney Scott Patterson said during the press conference. "I also know that he is someone, as he indicated, [who believes] we have too many people in jail, and I know that he believes that the people that should be in prison and jail are the ones that are violent offenders that make it unsafe for the citizens to live their lives peacefully, raise families, and conduct their businesses — which is a major emphasis for him. And that’s the progressive part of him," Patterson added.

"There is no candidate I would trust more to make Maryland safe,” former Somerset County State’s Attorney Kristy Hickman said of Gansler, arguing that no gubernatorial ticket could match the experience of the Gansler-Hollingsworth team. She said she was confident the Eastern Shore would be "stronger and safer" under their leadership.

Former Worcester County State’s Attorney Joel Todd kept the focus on the Eastern Shore, a critical area for Gansler to do well in if he is to win the primary on July 19, and among the most receptive regions of the state to the tough-on-crime message that has set his candidacy apart from others in the Democratic field. "Doug will be a governor the Eastern Shore can put their trust behind, and I am proud to endorse his candidacy," he said, recalling that Gansler "has always been a champion of the Eastern Shore and our community needs."

Gansler was also endorsed by four other past State's Attorneys, Michelle Barnes (Dorchester County), Chris Eastridge (Cecil County), Leonard C. Collins, Jr. (Charles County), and Dario Broccolino (Howard County).

“I’m honored to be endorsed by eight current and former State’s Attorneys who trust me to make Maryland safe, and to do so in a way that is fair,” Gansler said. “As the only candidate in this race with a background in criminal justice – specifically, 22 years of experience as Attorney General, Montgomery County State’s Attorney, and a federal prosecutor – I am prepared to bring crime down and justice up across the state on Day One. I have prosecuted some of the state’s worst criminals, including the Beltway Sniper, and was the first office in the nation to successfully incorporate community prosecution. As governor, I will hire 1,000 additional police officers across the state, will put 10,000 lights in Baltimore, and will get guns out of the hands of violent offenders. Furthermore, crime disproportionately impacts communities of color and underserved communities. We need to make Baltimore safe for Baltimoreans, not just tourists or people who want to do business there.” 

Olney Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery patient says she was sexually assaulted by employee

Mir Asadullah Naqvi

A female patient at the Olney Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery called Montgomery County police to report that she had been sexually assaulted by a surgical assistant following a procedure at the facility on April 5, 2022. Detectives with the police department's Special Victims Investigation division, on the basis of the victim's testimony and physical evidence collected, were allegedly able to connect Mir Asadullah Naqvi, 47, of Ellicott City to the assault.

A warrant was issued for Naqvi's arrest on May 5. He was taken into custody on May 18. Naqvi has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and third- and fourth-degree sexual offenses. 

Detectives allege that there may be other victims in this case. They are urging victims to contact the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Colesville has the cheapest gas in East MoCo at the moment

The price of a regular gallon of gas has exploded at the Exxon at 7975 Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda this week. This past Saturday, drivers were paying $4.99 a gallon, and $5.00 was the new normal by Sunday. As of last night, however, a gallon of regular was already up to $5.29, a full 30 cent increase in five days.

As with last weekend, significantly lower prices can be found elsewhere in Montgomery County. Marathon at 5143 River Road in Bethesda was "just" $4.62-a-gallon yesterday, according to gas pricing app Gas Buddy. Liberty and Sunoco on that same stretch of River Road were at $4.69, which was the average price of gas along there on Sunday. Liberty stations in downtown Bethesda are selling regular for $4.99 a gallon this morning, the same price as last Sunday.

The cheapest gas in Montgomery County as of last night was at the Sunoco at 19235 Frederick Road in Germantown, at $4.40. It was two cents more a gallon at another Germantown Sunoco at 18701 Liberty Mill Road. It was $4.43 at Citgo at 14300 New Hampshire Avenue in Colesville, and $4.45 at Liberty at 5400 Randolph Road in Rockville. You'll pay a penny more at the other Rockville Liberty, located at 1900 Rockville Pike.

Gas was about 11 cents cheaper in Germantown last Sunday, and 20 cents cheaper in Rockville. For the masochist on the highways and byways, there's the Exxon at 6729 Goldsboro Road in Glen Echo, at $5.39.

Construction in the home stretch at Silver Spring's new tallest building (Photos)

Let's take a look at the latest progress on what will be the tallest building in Silver Spring, the Solaire 8200 Dixon apartments. The 26-story building will include 403 apartments, and a ground-level food hall. Delivery of the project, which is being developed by the Washington Property Company, is anticipated for mid-2022. It appears to be roughly on-schedule to meet that target.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Maryland governor candidate Kelly Schulz launches Women for Kelly coalition at Ellicott City event

Kelly Schulz
, a Republican candidate for Maryland governor, helped launch a new Women for Kelly coalition at an event in Ellicott City last night. The event was held at Manor Hill Brewing, a farm brewery in Howard County. Schulz, who has been endorsed by incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R), served as Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Commerce in Hogan's administration over the last seven years. 

Schulz announced this afternoon that she has been endorsed by Taneytown Mayor Bradley Wantz. Delegate Dan Cox, former Delegate Robin Ficker and attorney Joe Werner are also competing for the Republican nomination in the July 19, 2022 Maryland gubernatorial primary.

Photos via Kelly Schulz for Governor campaign

Gene Lynch Park construction update in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress on Gene Lynch Park at the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Eugene Lynch was a Silver Spring civic activist before later serving as Chief Assistant to Montgomery County Executive Neal Potter, and as Chief of Staff for Maryland Governor Parris Glendening. He was serving on the County Planning Board at the time of his death at age 50. The park had been expected to be completed by the end of this spring, but you be the judge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Wes Moore only Democratic candidate for Maryland governor surging in new poll, 42% still undecided

A new poll in the Maryland Democratic primary race for governor conducted for Wes Moore for Maryland by Garin Hart Yang Research Group could be seen as a positive for many candidates ahead of the July 19 vote. With 42% of Maryland Democratic primary voters still "undecided," there are a lot of votes out there for the taking in the next eight weeks. And despite a very quiet spring, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot finished first in the poll with 19%. But Moore's campaign, which has been gaining momentum in endorsements and straw polls in recent weeks, is energized by the finding that Moore is the only candidate to surge in the results since GHYRG's November 2021 poll; Moore increased his support from 7% to 13%, giving him a second place finish.

"Wes Moore is the ONLY candidate who has increased his support and as a result he has moved into second place, within striking distance of the lead," the polling firm wrote in a memo to the Moore campaign. The memo declares Franchot's campaign "stagnant, with literally NO movement since last September." Poll results show former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker holding steady at 11% in third place, and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, and former U.S. Education Secretary John King essentially tied for fourth, within the +/-4.1% margin of error.

The firm surveyed 601 likely Democratic primary voters between May 5 and May 9, 2022, with the exception of Mother's Day. Results also showed that Moore's voters are more committed (54%) than Franchot's (45%) to supporting their candidate "strongly" in the primary. And among voters who have heard of Moore, he is beating Franchot 27% to 19%. 

“Wes Moore for Maryland is the only campaign moving forward in the polls and we are the only campaign with the momentum, the resources, the path, the vision, and the leaders to win this primary in July and the general election in November,” Moore's campaign manager Ned Miller said in a statement. “We have the momentum and a unique opportunity to win and build a more inclusive, safer, and prosperous Maryland, and we are going to continue connecting with voters across the state in the next two months," Moore said after his campaign released the poll results. 

Poll graph courtesy Garin Hart Yang Research Group

Strong-arm carjacking in Wheaton

Montgomery County police responded to a strong-arm carjacking in Wheaton Sunday night. The carjacking was reported in the 11300 block of Fern Street at 8:48 PM, according to crime data. Some further information on this incident: A man pulled the male victim out of a black Hyundai Elantra in front of Nava Thai, and sped off in the vehicle, MoCo PG News reported on Twitter.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Marc Elrich endorsed by transit union in Montgomery County Executive race

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has been endorsed by the Amalgamated Transit Union  Local 689 in his run for reelection in the July 19, 2022 Democratic primary. It is the latest labor endorsement for the incumbent, who is already backed by the Montgomery County Education Association, the Service Employees International Union 32BJ and Local 500, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 868. 

"I am very grateful for their support and trust in my leadership," Elrich said in a statement. "ATU Local 689 is comprised of over 13,000 members and retirees performing occupations within the many skilled transportation crafts for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and MetroAccess, among others. I have been committed to supporting our workers and expanding and improving transit opportunities is part of that commitment." Elrich is running against Democrats David Blair, Peter James and Hans Riemer in the primary. Shelly Skolnick and Reardon Sullivan are running for the Republican nomination in the race.

Hangry Joe's Hot Chicken opens in Wheaton

Hangry Joe's Hot Chicken
has opened at 2533 Ennalls Avenue in the Wheaton Triangle. Sweet Frog yogurt founder Derek Cha teamed with partner Mike Kim on the Hangry Joe's concept, inspired by hot chicken sandwiches they ate in Nashville and San Francisco. This is the chain's second Maryland location. More Montgomery County Hangry Joe's restaurants are on the way, though; future locations planned include Rockville, North Potomac, and Gaithersburg.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Two cars stolen in Takoma Park

Kennebec Avenue

Takoma Park police announced yesterday that two vehicles were stolen from outside residences in the city on Wednesday. Police were called at 8:16 AM on May 11, 2022 after a copper-colored 2020 Ford Explorer (MD tag #  4EJ3054) was stolen from in front of the owner's home. Later that same day, a beige Toyota Camry (MD tag # 1MD1413) was reported stolen at 2:55 PM, in the 600 block of Kennebec Avenue. Police did not provide the model year for the Camry.

Both vehicles have been added to the national database of stolen cars. Anyone with information about either theft is asked to please call police at 301-270-1100.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Montgomery Blair HS student is one of the 2 U.S. Presidential Scholars from Maryland for 2022

Two Montgomery County Public Schools students have been named as 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars by the U.S. Department of Education. Sarah Rachel Thomas of Clarksburg High School, and Dhruv Bhandarkar Pai of Montgomery Blair High School, are the two students selected from Maryland for 2022. Students are chosen by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars based upon their academic excellence, written essays, school evaluations and transcripts, and their community service and leadership records.

"Our 2022 Presidential Scholars represent the best of America, and remind us that when empowered by education, there are no limits to what our young people can achieve," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement this morning. "Today, I join President Biden to celebrate a class of scholars whose pursuit of knowledge, generosity of spirit, and exceptional talents bring our nation tremendous pride. Throughout one of the most trying periods in our nation's history and amid our recovery from the pandemic, our students have once again demonstrated their strength and that they have so much to contribute to our country. Thanks to them, I know America's future is bright."

Car stolen from home in Olney

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle at a home in Olney yesterday morning. The vehicle was parked along the street in the 4000 block of Evangeline Terrace when it was taken. It is believed that the car was stolen sometime between 6:30 PM Tuesday night and 6:50 AM Wednesday morning, according to crime data.