Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Westfield Wheaton Plaza mall to host free performances of "Frozen: The Musical" December 3

Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall will host two free performances of "Frozen: The Musical" on Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 12:30 PM and 2:00 PM in the Macy's court on Level 1. Photo-ops and sing-along opportunities with the characters will also be available. Frozen-themed costumes are encouraged. The event is free, but you are asked to RSVP for free tickets online.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Silver Spring Beauty Supply leases Weller's Dry Cleaners building (Photos)

A tenant has been found for the former Weller's Dry Cleaners building at 8237 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring. Silver Spring Beauty Supply has moved into the historic building, which is representative of the Googie style of architecture. Weller's ceased operations earlier this year; Charles Weller passed away at 101 years of age in 2016. Weller served his country in World War II, then his community as a businessman for six decades.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Peet's Coffee closed in Silver Spring ahead of Starbucks takeover (Photos)

Peet's Coffee
has closed at 1316 East-West Highway at The Blairs Shops in downtown Silver Spring. This is not a surprise if you are a regular reader, as I broke the news back in September that this location had been leased by Starbucks, which will construct a new store here. A farewell message has been left in the window directing Peet's customers to their Virginia and D.C. locations. Good luck with that! 

Nearby residents are far more likely to make the transition to a convenient Starbucks right here during the morning rush hour. The only real suspense will be whether or not the future Starbucks employees here decide to unionize or not.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Massive power outage across Montgomery County

UPDATE - 12:48 AM, November 28: Both occupants of the plane have been successfully rescued, and are on the ground, Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard said. They are being transported to local hospitals with serious injuries, Fire Chief Goldstein announced, a change from earlier announcements that there were no injuries. 

UPDATE - 12:25 AM, November 28: Pepco reports tremendous progress in power restoration, with only 1,297 customers remaining without power at this moment. Utility workers are using a bucket truck to ground the Pepco tower and transmission lines so that the rescue effort can finally get underway sometime this morning.

UPDATE - 11:50 PM: Pepco claims to have restored power to over 60% of customers affected by the power outage over the last hour. It reports there are now 34,688 customers still without electricity.

UPDATE - 11:30 PM: Montgomery County Public Schools will be closed Monday, November 28, 2022, due to the power outage. MCPS offices will also be closed Monday.

UPDATE - 10:01 PM: Maryland State police have identified the pilot of the plane as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, D.C., and the passenger as Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana. Both are still on-board awaiting rescue, and are reportedly not injured.  Their aircraft is a Mooney Mike 20P single engine plane. Pepco reports more customers are without power than ever tonight, with 113,081 now in the dark at this hour. Montgomery County Public Schools says it will make an announcement about potential school closures later tonight.

UPDATE - 9:05 PM: Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein reports that Pepco crews have to manually climb up to ensure the tower is grounded. The plane must then be secured to the tower. A large crane from Digging and Rigging in Clarksburg has been brought in. Additional personnel resources are due to arrive on-scene at 9:30 PM. "One of our concerns is the safety of the occupants in the airplane, the safety of our fire and rescue personnel," Goldstein said. Goldstein confirmed there are two occupants in the plane. "I have no information, I'm not here to talk about power outages," he said. 

UPDATE - 8:34 PM: Occupants of the plane that crashed into the Pepco tower have not yet been rescued. The number of Pepco customers without power in Montgomery County has dropped from 80,922 to 75,672.

UPDATE - 6:03 PMMontgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Pete Piringer reports that the power outage has been caused by a plane crash in the Montgomery Village/Gaithersburg area. The plane is stuck in a Pepco tower and power lines, Piringer said. Passengers on board are so far reported to be uninjured.

Pepco customers across Montgomery County are in the dark, after what appears to be a massive system failure. 78,944 customers are currently without power, according to the utility's outage map. In fact, over 20,000 more customers lost power just since I began typing this article. There is no violent weather in the area. 

Virtually all of the outages are in the central and eastern part of the county, but residents in several areas of Bethesda report that their lights flashed multiple times, power fluctuations that can damage appliances and devices. Few of the outages are west of I-270, in Rockville and Germantown. Some of the biggest outages are in Derwood, Aspen Hill, Olney and Wheaton. There are currently a couple of smaller outages in Bethesda - one in the Woodmont Triangle area, and another near the D.C.-Maryland border.

The outage follows a Thanksgiving on which power outages also occurred across the D.C. area. Stay tuned for further updates on the cause of the power outages.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Alyssa's Mangonadas to open in Wheaton

The revolving door of tenants in the old Wheaton Tile Center building at 2670 University Boulevard W. is turning again. Recent years have seen Doña Bessy Pupuseria, and then Casa de Dios y Puerta del Cielo (God's House and Heaven's Door) Church come and go. Now Alyssa's Mangonadas is moving in. It's surprising that there has been such turnover at such a high-visibilty, prime spot on a major highway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring Monday night. The carjacking was reported in the 900 block of Thayer Avenue at 8:51 PM.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Vehicle vandalized in Takoma Park

Tires were slashed on a vehicle in the 7600 block of Maple Avenue in Takoma Park on November 20. Takoma Park police were called to investigate the next day. Police say the vandalism occurred sometime between 2:30 AM and 3:20 PM on Sunday. Anyone who has any information about this incident is asked to call police at 301-270-1100, and refer to case number 220051510.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Rare Montgomery County test item Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder now on McDonald's menu nationwide

When fast food restaurants try out new menu items, their test markets are usually places like Ohio and Southern California, not Montgomery County, Maryland. Last year, McDonald's tested a Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder with two slices of American cheese, Roma tomatoes, Applewood smoked bacon, shredded lettuce and "smoky sauce" at several of their restaurants here in the county, including Bethesda (River Road), Rockville and Silver Spring. The burger was apparently well-received, as it has now been added to their menu nationwide for a limited time this month. Joining it is an Oreo Fudge McFlurry.

I'm only aware of one other time that a fast food chain has tested a possible menu item in Montgomery County, In the mid 1990s, McDonald's tested Mighty Wings. That iteration apparently wasn't ready for prime time, as a meatier and spicier version of Mighty Wings didn't get the green light for nationwide release until two decades later in 2013. Let's hope there will be more test items from McDonald's in the future, and that other fast food chains will recognize our usefulness as a test market.

Friday, November 18, 2022

World Cup coming to Wheaton this Saturday, November 19

Get the World Cup celebration off to an exciting start tomorrow, Saturday, November 19, 2022 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. Former D.C. United goaltender Bill Hamid will be a special guest for the event, which will be held in the outdoor dining area between Macy's and the food court on Parking Level 2. Join in a friendly soccer match, enjoy free hot chocolate and apple cider, and take part in activities like face painting, prize giveaways, a live DJ, and much more. 

“We are very excited to kick off the 2022 FIFA World Cup and holiday season with our family-friendly sporting event this Saturday,” Westfield Wheaton General Manager Stuart Amos said in a statement. “This event will be fun for the whole community with games, music, food and is a great opportunity to celebrate the vibrant cultures present in this year's World Cup tournament.” 

Photo courtesy Westfield Wheaton

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando added to Wes Moore steering committee

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D - At-Large) was added to the transition Steering Committee for the incoming administration of Maryland governor-elect Wes Moore (D), lieutenant governor-elect Aruna Miller (D) announced Thursday. Jawando, who was just reelected to a second term on the Council earlier this month, joins Maryland Business-Clergy Partnership Co-Chairman Joe Gaskins as the newest members of the committee. 

“Councilman Jawando and Joe Gaskins are critical additions to our transition team," Miller said in a statement. "We have so much work to do together to ensure that this is Maryland’s decade. I look forward to working closely with Councilman Jawando and Joe Gaskins, and our entire transition team, to lay the foundation for a stronger, healthier, and wealthier Maryland.”

"It's a honor to serve as we work towards a stronger and more equitable Maryland!" Jawando tweeted Thursday night. Jawando and Moore are both veterans of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Photo courtesy Montgomery County Council website 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Olney Starbucks engages in Red Cup Rebellion

Today is what is usually an eagerly-awaited annual event for Starbucks fans: Red Cup Day. A free, reusable holiday Starbucks cup has become a new tradition of sorts. Something else new on the horizon for the Starbucks company are aggressive efforts to unionize its stores across America. The Olney Starbucks store at 16806 Georgia Avenue is one where workers were successful in establishing a union this year, but then faced the challenge of trying to negotiate an actual labor agreement with Starbucks. As a result, today the Olney store's workers are participating in the nationwide Red Cup Rebellion.

The Red Cup Rebellion is a strike by workers at unionized Starbucks stores today. Workers are demanding that Starbucks stop short staffing stores, and sit down at the bargaining table with union representatives to negotiate labor agreements.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Montgomery County Council passes gun bill despite assurance of expensive court fight

The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a gun control bill yesterday that will prevent lawful gun owners with concealed carry permits to carry their firearms within a massive swath of the jurisdiction. Because the bill designates so many types of common buildings and spaces as gun-free zones, and includes the area around them up to 100 yards, it renders the recently-affirmed right to carry a gun outside the home nearly impossible to exercise. Councilmembers may find themselves on the stand in a courtroom within the next year as a result. County taxpayers will pick up the tab to defend any legal challenge to the new law. 

The bill also adjusted language in the County's recent law on privately-manufactured firearms to match the new state restrictions on them. Despite Maryland having passed some of the most-restrictive gun laws in the nation in the previous decade, and the Council having passed a PMP bill last year, the Council acknowledged in a press release that the County is nevertheless still experiencing "an epidemic of gun violence." 

"I continue to believe that guns create immeasurably more problems, often with tragic outcomes, than they attempt to solve,” Council President Gabe Albornoz (D -At-Large) said in a statement. “This legislation will help to ensure that we do everything possible to minimize the number of guns in our public space." Albornoz led the effort to pass the PMP bill in 2021. 

"[T]his will go into effect very rapidly, and we’ll be moving in court, equally rapidly,” Mark Pennak, President of gun rights organization Maryland Shall Issue told DC News Now following the Council vote.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Maryland governor-elect Wes Moore names first cabinet members

Wes Moore introduces Fagan Harris (left) as
his Chief of Staff Monday

Maryland governor-elect Wes Moore (D) held a press conference Monday to introduce his choices for several positions in his future cabinet. He was joined by running mate Aruna Miller, as he presented five nominees who face the challenge of helping him translate campaign promises into legislation and accomplishments. 

Moore named Fagan Harris as his Chief of Staff. Harris co-founded non-profit Baltimore Corps with Moore, He is also a President Joe Biden appointee to the AmeriCorps Board of Directors. 

Another non-profit sector veteran, Tisha Edwards, was named as Moore's Secretary of Appointments. That's the political position current Gov. Larry Hogan (R) held before assuming the top office in the state. Edwards is also known for creating the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success in Baltimore City,

Moore stuck with Baltimore for his third appointment. Helene Grady is vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer for Johns Hopkins University. She will serve as the Secretary for the Department of Budget and Management.

Amanda LaForge, who served as counsel to Moore's gubernatorial campaign, will now be his Chief Legal Counsel. LaForge served that role in the past for the Democratic National Committee. She was most recently Of Counsel to the firm of Sandler, Reiff, Lamb, Rosenstein & Birkenstock, PC.

Finally, Maryland Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14) was announced as Moore's selection to be his Chief Legislative Officer. Luedtke will have to give up his seat and his enviable position as Majority Leader in the House. The potential for a plum job for the next eight years may make that an easy choice for Luedtke, who has represented parts of Silver Spring, Burtonsville, Olney, Damascus, Brookeville and Sandy Spring in his current office.

Photo courtesy Moore for Maryland

Montgomery County Council to vote on gun control bill today that may trigger a lawsuit

The Montgomery County Council will vote on a gun control bill during its 9:30 AM session this morning that is designed to stymie the right to carry a firearm in public, by designating an exhaustive number of places as gun-free zones. Bill 21-22 would make it illegal for concealed carry permit holders to carry a firearm over so much of the geographical area of the county, as to render that recently-Supreme Court-ruled right nearly impracticable to exercise. That will almost surely invite legal challenges, for which County taxpayers will pick up the tab.

Should the bill pass this morning, it would make it illegal to possess a firearm within 100 yards of any publicly or privately-owned 

  • park
  • place of worship
  • school
  • library
  • recreational facility
  • hospital
  • community health center, including any health care facility or community-based program licensed by the Maryland Department of Health
  • long-term facility, including any licensed nursing home, group home, or care home
  • multipurpose exhibition facility, such as a fairgrounds or conference center
  • childcare facility

Possession of firearms, even legally, would also become criminal inside the following buildings, which have now been defined to include the building's parking lot and grounds:

  • government building, including any place owned by or under the control of the County
  • polling place
  • courthouse
  • legislative assembly, and
  • a gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional right to protest or assemble

Firepan Korean BBQ holding soft opening hours in Silver Spring

The wait has been long, but Firepan Korean BBQ is finally welcoming its first guests at 962 Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Firepan has two other area locations, and has been declared "the highest rated Korean BBQ in the Washington, D.C. area," according to the local chain's website. Reservations are highly recommended; call 240-641-5948 for seating availability and to reserve a table. Initial soft opening hours will be Monday through Thursday 3:00 - 11:00 PM, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 AM - 12:00 midnight, and Sundays 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Armed robbery at Norbeck Road Park & Ride lot

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Norbeck Park & Ride lot at 3890 Norbeck Road yesterday morning, November 13, 2022. The robbery was reported at 7:19 AM Sunday, not a busy commuting day for the lot, which offers connections to Metrobus and Ride On routes at the border of Rockville and Silver Spring.

Vehicles vandalized in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police responded to two incidents of vandalism involving vehicles on the afternoon of November 12, 2022. The driver's side window of a vehicle was smashed in the 6800 block of New Hampshire Avenue. A vehicle sunroof was smashed in the 7200 block of Spruce Avenue. If you have any information or camera footage of these incidents, you are asked to call police at 301-270-1100.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Maryland Governor-elect Wes Moore announces transition team leaders, meets Larry Hogan in Annapolis

Maryland Goveror-elect Wes Moore (D) held his first press conference yesterday, to announce the leaders of his transition team. "We are going to move fast, we're going to be bold, we're going to be fearless," Moore told reporters assembled at the University of Maryland in College Park Thursday. He also met with currrent Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) at the State House in Annapolis, privately and then later at a joint press conference.

Moore said his transition team is moving forward under the principles his campaign had promised were "going to be north stars" in a Moore-Miller administration. "That this was going to be an administration that looks like the state of Maryland.," Moore recalled. "That this was going to be an administration that was going to be transparent. That this was going to be an administration that was inclusive."

The governor-elect announced that his running mate, Lieutenant Governor-elect, Aruna Miller, would be the chair of his transition team. Miller said that Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore President Shelonda Stokes, Moore campaign treasurer Mary Tydings, and former Howard County Executive Kenneth Ulman will serve as co-chairs of the transition. The transition director will be Cleo Hirsch, who directed the COVID-19 response for Baltimore City Public Schools. 

HIrsch said the geographical location for a physical transition headquarters has not been determined yet, but that the campaign has utilized a hybrid of virtual and in-person operations all year. Miller announced that the public can submit feedback to the incoming administration, apply for jobs or learn more about the transition team in the coming weeks at

A steering committee was also announced at the press conference. Members from across the state include Montgomery County State Senator Susan Lee, former Maryland governor Parris Glendening and Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. Miller said that town hall meetings will be held with online participation during the transition.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Former Jhoon Rhee building for sale in Kensington

Nobody will bother you, if you buy the former Jhoon Rhee Institute of Tae Kwon Do at 10730 Connecticut Avenue in Kensington. Located at one of the busiest forks in the road in Montgomery County, the building still has a martial arts tenant today, Tai Yim Kung Fu. The rest of the building is leased by Urban Thrift. 

Asking price for the property is $4,600,000. It could be redeveloped with a building height of 60'. But if you dare to tear it down the historic building, you may be visited by the spirit of Jhoon Rhee himself. He's not a man you'd want to square off with in a dark Kensington alley. Tae Kwon Do master Jhoon Rhee ran a chain of 11 schools in the D.C. area, and enticed Muhammed Ali into asking for his secrets, when he threw a punch Ali couldn't block moments before the boxer fought Joe Frazier in his legendary Thrilla in Manila fight.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Montgomery County election results and takeaways

Among the things Havana, Beijing and Montgomery County have in common? You know the results of a general election before a single vote is cast, at least since 2002. Once again, there were no bombshells or surprises - and no debates or media coverage of the general election campaigns in Montgomery County. Democratic incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich won in a blowout over Republican challenger Reardon "Sully" Sullivan, 71.40% to 28.04%. Every Democrat running for County Council won, as well.

Based on the current numbers, with further mail-in and provisional ballots remaining to be counted, the next County Council will consist of Andrew Friedson (D - District 1), Marilyn Balcombe (D - District 2), Sidney Katz (D - District 3), Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart (D - District 4), Kristin Mink (D - District 5), former Planning Board member Natali Fani Gonzalez (D - District 6), Dawn Luedtke (D - District 7), Gabe Albornoz (D - At-Large), Evan Glass (D - At-Large), Will Jawando (D - At-Large) and former Gaithersburg City Councilmember Laurie Anne Sayles (D - At-Large). 

Democrat John McCarthy was unopposed for State's Attorney, as were Democrats Karen Bushell for Clerk of the Circuit Court, Joseph M. Griffin for Register of Wills, and Maxwell Cornelius Uy for Sheriff.

Here's what we learned from Election Day 2022:

1. How The Washington Post Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Marc Elrich

Marc Elrich is, by the numbers, the most popular politician in Montgomery County. Many residents like him. But The Washington Post, with its pro-developer and viciously anti-labor editorial board, hates Marc Elrich. They really hate Marc Elrich. And they spent months out of 2018 and 2022, and many acres of forest wood in paper, trying to defeat Marc Elrich.

The Post said Marc Elrich was the worst person in the world. They wrote that the sky was falling, and the world would end if Elrich were to win a second term. I am almost exaggerating. The County was going down the toilet under his leadership, and he had to be stopped. Montgomery County was the worst place in the world for business, and crime was rising (despite both of those problems worsening long before Elrich became executive in 2018). The Post and many others lied about Elrich's intentions and record on affordable housing. They advised Democrats to vote for David Blair.

Blair lost. By 32 votes.

And then...the Post went silent.

After spending half the year telling us there's no one worse than Marc Elrich, the Post's stated logic could only credibly stand if they endorsed his general election opponent, Sullivan. Instead, the Post made no endorsement. In fact, they made no endorsements for County Council, either. Their reporters, who are separate from the editorial board, did not cover the general election executive and council races. By contrast, the Post extensively covered the D.C. Mayor and Council races, and Arlington County board races. Why is that, by the way? That's a very interesting question we don't know the answer to.

But we do know that the Post decided Marc Elrich was not that bad, after all. They weren't alone. All of the groups who funded ads against Elrich during the primary folded up and disappeared, as well. 

This only makes Elrich's victory sweeter - he not only won, but he converted his biggest enemies and opponents into supporters. Silence is complicity, as they say. Will the Post remember it loves Elrich in 2026? Probably not. But a honeymoon period is clearly in progress.

2. A majority of voters supported the pandemic policy of closing businesses and schools 

The County's pandemic strategy of lockdowns, the closure of schools and businesses, was loved and loathed by different segments of the population. But among those who loathed it, opposition was loud and clear. Things became even more heated when County officials tried to extend school closure authority from public schools to private ones in the fall of 2020. Facebook groups were formed, protests held and letters written. "How do we recall Elrich and the Council?" many asked. Later, they vowed to vote out the incumbents in 2022.

In particular regard to school closures, there is now widespread agreement that the lost academic year of 2020-2021 was misguided, and had a disastrous impact on the education and mental health of the children impacted by it. Montgomery County officials, like President Biden, have since adopted Trump-DeSantis herd immunity strategies to handle COVID going forward.

Every incumbent who supported lockdowns cruised to victory last night. No great sums of money were put behind anti-lockdown challengers on yesterday's ballot. If another variant or virus emerge in the next four years, we will have business lockdowns and school closures again. This is not to say that this is a good or bad thing. Only that election results indicate that those policies were either supported, or not strongly-opposed, by a majority of voters in Montgomery County yesterday. 

3. Debates are a thing of the past in Montgomery County

Montgomery County was ahead of the national curve when it came to the phenomenon of no longer having debates during elections. The last general election Montgomery County Council debates were held in 2014. And at the final Council debate that year in Olney, all of the Democratic incumbents were no-shows. Organizers with the Greater Olney Civic Association were upset, to say the least, and a packed crowd of the Council's constituents were left feeling disrespected. 

In 2018, none of the civic groups that historically held Council debates that included all candidates scheduled one. Three civic associations attempted to hold such debates that year, but were told behind the scenes to cancel them. One complied. The other two converted their debates at the last minute to happy hours, which favored the more-recognized incumbents.

There was a series of general election debates in the county executive race in 2018. But it turns out that may have only been because the Montgomery County political machine was trying to help independent candidate Nancy Floreen beat Marc Elrich. This year, there were zero debates in the general election executive and council races. 

Debates are one of the most fundamental fixtures of a democratic process. The town hall goes back to the beginning of our republic. The working class man in his flannel shirt and jacket standing up in the Norman Rockwell depiction of "Freedom of Speech." Citizens gathering to hear the positions and arguments of candidates on the issues before casting their votes. Imagine that.

You'll apparently have to continue imagining it, because there are no more general election debates in Montgomery County. Democracy died in darkness, and it is pitch black in Montgomery County, with the full and ironic support of the Post. Post reporter Bill Turque was the last to write about MoCo candidates dodging debates in 2014. The last intrepid reporter to cover Montgomery County for the Post, he moved on to The Kansas City Star in 2017. He is now Political Enterprise editor for The Sacramento Bee, after rankling officials in MoCo and D.C. for more than a decade with inconveniently-investigative reporting.  

4. A Council that is starting to look more like Montgomery County

An Asian-American will finally take a seat on the County Council next month. Despite having had one of the largest Asian communities in the D.C. region for years, Montgomery County has only this week elected a councilmember of Asian descent. Democrat Kristin Mink will represent District 5 on the Council, after winning nearly 80% of the vote there, with provisional ballots still to be counted. Attention will now turn to the 2023 Rockville City Council election. Rockville's Asian-American community, unbelievably,still has no representation on the Council, despite being a major contributor to the city's economic growth and success.

5. The new Council districts may be even worse-gerrymandered than the ones they replaced

Councilmember Evan Glass knew what he was doing when he drafted a poison pill ballot question to confuse voters in 2020 who wanted to expand representation on the Council by shrinking the size of the districts it represents into 9 compact areas. Glass put a similar-sounding question that would expand the number of seats on the Council, but avoid the downsizing of districts - and loss of at-large seats - that would make it difficult to choose his own voters. The Glass question passed, and the results are now in. 

It's bad. Really bad.

None of the Council race results were even close. These are among the worst-gerrymandered districts in the nation. Rural areas like Damascus remain lumped in with suburban and urban areas with different needs and priorities, and have gained no electoral power or representation at all. In fact, they appear to have lost power. Like the elimination of debates, this is anti-democratic and a disgrace. 

6. The incredible shrinking GOP

"Where are my choices?" asked many a voter flipping the pages of their ballot. The Republican party did not even bother to field a candidate for District 1 County Council, State Senator in Districts 16, 17, 20 and 39; Delegate in District 16, 20 and 39; State's Attorney, Register of Wills, Clerk of the Circuit Court or Sheriff. 

This is virtually unprecedented. It's bad enough when election results are as predictable as Cuba's, but even worse when the ballot looks like Cuba's.

It's no doubt getting more and more challenging to convince a Republican, Green or Libertarian to run when there are no debates, no press coverage, and every district is gerrymandered. But you can't let people run unopposed. 

Maryland election results: Democrats sweep statewide offices, Neil Parrott leads David Trone in District 6 race

Maryland election results found Democrats making a clean sweep of statewide offices on the 2022 ballot. Wes Moore will be the first African-American governor of the state, as he and running mate Aruna Miller currently lead the Republican ticket of Dan Cox and Gordana Schifanelli 59.62% to 36.98%. With a stronger resume than Barack Obama had when he rose to national prominence, Moore is likely to figure into Democratic presidential discussions sooner rather than later.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was quick to congratulate Moore on his victory, but has not yet said whether he voted for the Democrat. Hogan was out of the state pursuing his presidential ambitions in the final days before the July 2022 GOP primary, rather than stumping for his handpicked successor, Kelly Schulz. When Schulz lost to Cox, Hogan enraged many Republicans by declaring he would not support Cox in the November election. With the popular governor witholding his coattails, limited funds and Moore agreeing to only one televised debate, Cox faced an uphill battle to expand his base.

Cox's Trump endorsement didn't pay dividends in the general election, either, in a state where Trump is beloved by Republicans, but not so much by independents. His loss is likely to strengthen the hand of the Republican establishment in the 2026 gubernatorial race. Pat Sajak and Cal Ripken, Jr. remain dream candidates for the GOP. Closer to earth, Maryland State Senator Michael Hough - currently leading in the race for Frederick County Executive - is highly regarded by members of both parties in Annapolis, and has been mentioned as a likely statewide candidate in the future. Other names are sure to emerge from the party's county-level officials and activists around the state in the coming months.

It's also worth noting that no gubernatorial ticket since 1998 has won without an African-American on it. Republican Bob Ehrlich won with Michael Steele as his running mate in 2002, but later lost twice with white women running to be his lieutenant. Hogan won twice with Boyd Rutherford on his ticket. Note to future Republican candidates: black voters account for 32% of the Maryland electorate.

The Maryland comptroller race wasn't as close as some thought it would be. Democrat Brooke Lierman easily defeated Harford County Executive Barry Glassman to replace outgoing taxman Peter Franchot. Lierman, a state delegate, said she received a "gracious" concession call from Glassman shortly before midnight Tuesday.

Democrat Anthony Brown, who was upset in the governor's race by Hogan eight years ago, had a much better election night in 2022. The congressman defeated Republican Michael Peroutka by what current results show is a 20-point margin. Peroutka did beat Brown in 18 of the state's counties, however.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D) handily beat Republican challenger Chris Chaffee. The Democrat recently suffered a stroke, but appeared to have fully recovered well before Election Day. Many Republicans had hoped Hogan would run for the Senate, but the governor is focused on a 2024 presidential run.

The election results were not all bad news for Republicans.

Republicans may pick up an additional seat in Congress from Maryland. GOP nominee Neil Parrott is ahead of Democratic incumbent David Trone as of this hour by 51.07% to 48.81%. The 6th congressional district became more favorable to Republicans in the most recent redistricting, but is not as GOP-friendly as it was when Roscoe Bartlett was the last Republican to hold it. If Parrott holds on to win, he would join Dr. Andy Harris (R - 1st District) in the Maryland delegation.

Nicolee Ambrose nearly pulled off a GOP victory in the District 2 congressional race. She currently trails Democratic incumbent C. Dutch Ruppersberger 46.40% to 53.47%. Republicans had hopes of defeating Democrat John Sarbanes in District 3, which was nationally recognized as one of the most egregiously-gerrymandered districts in America. Sarbanes appears to have decisively won reelection, leading GOP challenger Yuripzy Morgan 54.98% to 44.92%. Morgan ran an energetic campaign, but the district remains gerrymandered despite its more-reasonable appearance on the redrawn congressional map.

On key statewide ballot questions, Marylanders voted to rename the Maryland Court of Special Appeals as the Maryland Supreme Court, and to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Assault at grocery store in Olney

Montgomery County police were called to a grocery store in Olney on Saturday afternoon, when an individual reported being the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a supermarket in the 18100 block of Village Center Drive at 1:38 PM Saturday.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Armed robbery in Kensington

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery in Kensington on Thursday, November 3, 2022. The robbery was reported in the 2800 block of Plyers Mill Road at 7:00 PM. That is near Oakland Terrace Elementary School and Capitol View-Homewood Park.

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Pit mountain bike area opening this weekend at Fairland Bike Park

Montgomery Parks will officially open a progressive mountain bike skills park within the Fairland Bike Park tomorrow, Saturday, November 5, 2022. The 6.5 acre addition, called The Pit, features rollers, kicker ramps, wall rides, drops, and skinnies. Best of all, you don't even need your own mountain bike - you can borrow one from the park's bikeshare station. Fairland Bike Park is located at the intersection of Greencastle Ridge Terrace and Greencastle Road.

Photos courtesy Montgomery Parks

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Home burglarized in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police responded to a report of a residential burglary on Tuesday afternoon, November 1, 2022. The burglary was reported at a home in the unit block of Seek Court at 1:32 PM. That's a townhome community near University Boulevard. Officers responding to the scene found signs of forced entry at the home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Five Below to expand in Aspen Hill

Five Below
will get bigger by next year at 13661 Connecticut Avenue at the Aspen Hill Shopping Center. The discount store plans to expand into a vacant adjacent storefront in the coming months. This is not surprising, as Five Below has benefited from its market position as inflation squeezes businesses and consumers alike - so far.

Unlike dollar stores, Five Below is already operating at a modestly higher price point. That has meant it hasn't had to take as big of a loss on its profit margins, or irk customers by suddenly trying to charge above the price limit in its name, like its dollar store competitors. In fact, Five Below has announced an ambitious growth plan that will triple its store count by the end of this decade. 

But there are signs that persistent inflation may be finally catching up to the company. Five Below has announced plans to launch a separate store concept called Five Beyond, with items above $5. It says that a majority of its existing Five Below stores will eventually become Five Beyond stores. At higher price points, it will have to start competing more directly with Walmart and Target.

Some observers are skeptical about Five Below's plans. Consumer spending is trending downward in recent months, and the chain's earnings didn't match expectations in the last quarter. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Strong-arm robbery at Wheaton Metro station

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at the Wheaton Metro station this past Saturday night. The robbery was reported at the station at 10:26 PM.