Friday, April 28, 2023

J.Hollinger’s Waterman’s Chophouse celebrating one year in Silver Spring in May

J.Hollinger’s Waterman’s Chophouse
at 8606 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring will turn one year old in May, and the critically-acclaimed restaurant will be celebrating all month long. The festivities will begin on this coming Tuesday, May 2nd - Sunday, May 7th, 2023, with happy hour all night long, including $1 oysters on the half shell. Customers can enjoy the happy hour menu all night in the bar (starting at 4pm). The happy hour drink menu will also be available all night in the dining room.

But that's just the beginning. Weekly anniversary specials will be posted on the restaurant's anniversary page. One lucky customer who makes a reservation via Resy during May will be randomly selected to win a four course dinner for two at J.Hollinger’s. The restaurant will also mark the anniversary with weekly $100 gift card giveaways on Instagram.

“While we've only been open for a year in downtown Silver Spring, we are proud to have been part of this community for 13 years,” owner Jerry Hollinger said in a statement. Hollinger previously opened the Daily Dish in Silver Spring in 2010, followed by the Dish & Dram in Kensington in 2016. “The entire team at J. Hollinger's Waterman's Chophouse wants to thank the community and all our customers, who have grown to feel more like family, for their unwavering support,” Hollinger said.

Montgomery County now collecting durable medical equipment at Shady Grove Transfer Station

Do you have medical equipment you no longer need, and is just taking up space in your home? Now it can be put to use for less-fortunate residents in need of it. Montgomery County is now collecting durable medical equipment at the Shady Grove Transfer Station at 16101 Frederick Road (MD 355) in Derwood. "Gently-used" wheelchairs, canes, shower chairs, and other commonly-used medical equipment will be accepted, and will be refurbished and donated to residents who need it. The new initiative has been made possible by the Montgomery County Department of the Environment's entry into the Maryland Department of Aging’s Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Re-Use program.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

“There is an ongoing need for medical equipment in our County,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. “Many of us have medical equipment in our basements, garages or attics that is no longer used, but is too good to throw away. This program helps our County’s efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, while providing critical assistance to those in need. I encourage everyone to donate if they have any equipment that can still be used. This program isn’t just helping our planet—it is also helping our neighbors.”

Technicians from Maryland DME Re-Use take the donated equipment to a 56,000-square-foot facility located in Cheltenham in Prince George's County. There, it is sanitized, repaired and stored for future distribution. Equipment that is beyond repair will be broken down for parts that are saved and later used, rather than going into the trash.

To find out more about Maryland DME Re-Use, including collection site locations, acceptable donations or how to apply to receive durable medical equipment, go to, call 240-230-8000 or email

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Awdamet Market opening in Silver Spring

Something very rare happened in downtown Silver Spring in November 2021. A 7-Eleven store closed. That almost never happens in our area. Awdamet Market is here to finally fill the void! The Ethiopian market is now under construction at 8202 Georgia Avenue, between Golden House and Patient First. It doesn't appear to have any social media accounts or website as of this morning.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Giant limiting self-checkout to 20 items or less, due to "a significant increase in crime"

The other shoe has dropped in Giant's changes to its self-checkout system, and it's landed directly on the shopper's head. Self-checkout will now be limited to 20 items or less, due to "a significant increase in crime and theft that we and many other retailers are experiencing across our market area," Giant President Ira Kress said in a message to customers. He said the new limit, along with the weighing scale recently added to the self-checkout units, will "mitigate the impact of theft to our business."

Under the new system, parents shopping for large families, or anyone who prefers to get their shopping out of the way once a week, will essentially be forced to go through the traditional checkout lines. However, Giant has tended to shut those down as the evening goes on, angering customers who were averse to self-checkout machines. Kress did not specify if Giant will now keep cashiers at the old checkout lines until closing at stores. But he did acknowledge what will be a major impact on many Giant customers.

"We know that these changes may cause some inconvenience or be disruptive to the experience you are used to," Kress said, "and I assure you we are making these changes out of necessity to prioritize the safety of our associates and customers." A shoplifter was recently caught on video assaulting a security guard at the Bethesda Row Giant store. Corporate policy appeared to limit the guard's ability to escalate his response; even after being struck in the face, he could only plaintively continue to ask the shoplifter to show him a receipt. 

Once again, we see how the failure of our elected officials to respond to increasing crime - one of the most basic responsibilities of their offices - creates negative impacts for the law-abiding residents of our community. It's interesting that business leaders will admit crime is increasing, and is a major problem, before our elected officials will.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Spicy McNuggets, Spicy McCrispy return; Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry debuts at McDonald's

has new, limited-time only menu items in Montgomery County, whether you are seeking something hot or cold. The fast food chain's popular Spicy Chicken McNuggets return for a third time. Also back for an encore are the Spicy McCrispy and Spicy Deluxe McCrispy chicken sandwiches. And for the first time, McDonald's is offering a Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry. It combines vanilla soft-serve ice cream with "strawberry flavored clusters," and shortbread cookies. 

Maryland taxpayers to sink $166M into Baltimore Harborplace scheme

It's deja vu all over again in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. A great gem - a doorstep to the city, if you will! - has somehow fallen into disrepair. But it's not up to the property owner, nor the elected officials who've run the city it's the doorstep to the whole time, to sacrifice for a solution. No, it's you, the hardworking taxpayer of Maryland who must step in, and share your hard-earned dollars with very wealthy developers. Stop me if you've heard this before. 

Are we talking about Union Station in Washington, D.C.? No, it's the Harborplace development in Baltimore. But both now share a special pedigree. These properties have failed...twice. And each time, the taxpayer has involuntarily-volunteered to pick up the tab for "renewal" and "rejuvenation." 

You can't entirely blame the political machines of Charm City and the District of Columbia. They know both cities are more transient than most in America. And both are rapidly gentrifying African-American residents out of their homes and neighborhoods, to make room for more luxury condos for rich, white people. Why, you probably haven't lived here long enough to realize this isn't the first time the city's gemstone was tarnished.

Except, some of us have. I remember when Union Station and the Inner Harbor were said to be in desperate need of revitalization. Some years, and many more taxpayer dollars later, we were told the effort was successful. Shops! Restaurants! Gleaming and new!

Three decades pass.

And suddenly, it's happened again.

Union Station and Harborplace are derelict! They're outdated and have fallen behind the times! Nobody goes there anymore! Wealthy development firms are standing by to save the day, but...they're going to need your help. So they're going to cut us in on the deal? We'll earn a dividend for the tax dollars we're putting up, just like the other investors?

Oh, no. And your investment is not optional. We just rammed it through in Annapolis. The taxpayers of Maryland - yes, even you in the hinterlands, are going to fork over $166 million. And Baltimore City residents, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck, get to hand over an additional $1 million.

Why are Union Station and Harborplace "derelict and underperforming?" The tenants! Well, wait a minute. Union Station has Shake Shack, Pret-a-Manger, Au Bon Pain and CAVA, names about as hip as train station commercial retail can get. Tourist-driven Harborplace has tourist traps like UNO Chicago Grill, Johnny Rockets and Hooters - it even has The Cheesecake Factory, for Pete's sake! What else would you want to eat by the water? 

Want local, small businesses instead? Charge a rent they can afford for the empty storefronts. 

Well, it's not the tenants or the times, you see. Why don't people want to go to Harborplace or Union Station?

It's that the D.C. government let crime and the homeless take over Union Station. Columbus Circle at sunrise can resemble a giant bedroom, as the least-fortunate of Washington awake from slumber among scurrying rats and trash. Baltimore City let crime run rampant in the Inner Harbor, with tourists often the target. At some point, elected officials have to be held accountable. This is a novel idea in Washington and Baltimore.

$166 million? You could put 415 homeless people into permanent homes in the D.C. area, and even more in Baltimore, for that amount. It could be a not-insubstantial down payment on building the Red Line, especially the Dollar General version of the Red Line pols are cynically trying to pass off on West Baltimore these days. "By the time the buses start running, those voters will have been gentrified out of there, anyway," elected officials must figure. Imagine the parks you could build. Or schools that actually have air conditioning!!

But a better recipient than the general public has been found - wealthy and well-financed developers. The public involuntarily gives generously. Buildings are demolished. New ones rise in their place. The property is sold. Profits are made. Elected officials fail to execute their basic functions to provide a strong business climate, maintain city infrastructure and ensure public safety. 

And the cycle starts over again. We've seen this here in Montgomery County, where a greedy mall buyer along with County officials allowing crime to get out of control led to the demise of Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg. As long as our elected officials get away with directing our money to their developer sugar daddies, we'll see it again.

Inner Harbor crime:

"Inner Harbor Mayhem"

"Death at Baltimore's Inner Harbor"

"Dangerous at night"

"3 people robbed at gunpoint in Inner Harbor"

"New Jersey family attacked at Baltimore's Inner Harbor"

"If this is what a Saturday night at the Harbor is going to be like, we will not be going there"

Monday, April 24, 2023

Silver Spring man arrested in D.C. shooting

The Metropolitan Police Department says it has arrested two suspects in connection with a shooting in Washington, D.C. in the 1300 block of 6th Street NE on April 21, 2023.  Eric Cisneros, 32, of Silver Spring and Tyland Rollins, 32, of Hyattsville were taken into custody shortly after the shooting, which left one victim hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Cisneros has been charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (Gun), Carrying a Pistol without a License, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, and Possession of Unregistered Ammunition. Rollins is facing Carrying a Pistol without a License, Felon in Possession, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, and Possession of Unregistered Ammunition charges for his alleged role in the incident. Metro Transit Police assisted in the case, the MPD reports.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Maryland to fund $250,000 in upgrades to Dalewood Playground

Good news for the neighborhood of Connecticut Avenue Estates in Silver Spring: Money is now available to update and upgrade Dalewood Playground at 12018 Dalewood Drive. Montgomery County did not provide the needed funds to date, but the State of Maryland has now agreed to contribute $250,000. The money will go toward existing plans for the park, such as the design and construction of a new playground, ADA-acccesible walkways, new drainage and stormwater management infrastructure, and a maintenance access route from Connecticut Avenue. How much of that can be accomplished with the new funds is unclear, as elected officials had asked for $800,000, according to a bond bill fact sheet.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Orchard Center Target renovations completed in Silver Spring

announced that it has completed a major renovation of its store at 12000 Cherry Hill Road, in the Orchard Center in Silver Spring. It highlighted two new "store-within-a-store" additions to this location, Ulta Beauty and Apple. Target has been extensively renovating its stores in eastern Montgomery County over the last two years, including the one at Wheaton Plaza.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Montgomery County residents overwhelmingly favor funding Office of the People's Counsel

Peggy Dennis and Ruben Meana Paneda
testify before the Montgomery County Council

Ten of the eleven residents who testified before the Montgomery County Council yesterday urged councilmembers to restore funding for the Office of the People's Counsel in the FY-2024 operating budget. All ten also spoke in strong opposition to the bill that was the subject of the public hearing, a legislative move to permanently eliminate the office, which the Council has failed to fund since 2010. Bill 18-23, introduced by Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D - District 1), would kill the position of People's Counsel, an attorney who could advise residents and civic associations on land-use and zoning issues, and represent their interests in administrative hearings. Friedson's bill would replace the People's Counsel with a toothless resident advisor, who would not have to be a licensed attorney, and who would not be allowed to participate in administrative hearings, would be unable to call or cross-examine witnesses, and would be forbidden to introduce evidence or point out violations of zoning law in those hearings.

Resident Sue Present said Friedson's developer-friendly bill "keeps the fat cats fat, and throws neighbors and neighborhoods under the bus." Friedson has received extensive campaign contributions from development interests, and developers have hosted fundraisers for him. 

The only resident to testify in favor of Friedson's bill to eliminate the People's Counsel was Jane Lyons-Raeder of Silver Spring, who has previously been employed as a lobbyist by the developer-funded Coalition for Smarter Growth. Lyons-Raeder said the quiet part out loud, expressing concern that a restored People's Counsel "could quickly turn into a free lawyer for people who oppose development in their neighborhood." She argued that Friedson's proposed advisor position would be preferable, as it would not "allow for free legal representation" for residents.

But the small way in which the Office of the People's Counsel takes a tiny step toward leveling the playing field with development interests who can afford high-priced lawyers is precisely what the 90% of residents who testified in favor of restoring the position yesterday see as its central appeal. Resident Max Bronstein pointed out that in a land-use dispute he was engaged in from 2007 to 2012, the developer had two lawyers, and a team of five land-use specialists. Montgomery County government has over 100 attorneys who represent it, he added. "Should not the 1 million people of the county have 1 lawyer representing them?" Bronstein asked the Council.

Bronstein said the Office of the People's Counsel was "a great aid" in his case up until 2010, when the Council defunded the office. He pointed to the Office of Legislative Oversight report on the OPC, which recorded that the People's Counsel participated in an average of 44 land use cases per year, and provided information on zoning and land use to residents an average of 347 times per year before being defunded.

Nowhere in the OLO report was it recommended the Office of the People's Counsel be closed, Bronstein noted. He said the People's Counsel will be particularly needed in the coming years, as the Council attempts to implement the controversial Thrive 2050 plan, which will allow attached housing and small apartment buildings to be constructed in existing single-family home neighborhoods.

Rick Meyer of the MoCo Coalition for Control of Cell Towers concurred that expert advice is needed for zoning text amendments, and not just for residents, but for the Council itself. A Council ZTA to allow 5G antennas to be placed in locations that were off-limits to such equipment at the time was later found to be in violation of the County's own laws. If even the five-year head of a Council committee couldn't understand the zoning laws, Meyer suggested, it indicates the need for just such a knowledgeable land-use attorney as the People's Counsel. In fact, one of the People's Counsel's duties and powers is the ability to point out when a developer or the County itself is in violation of the law during adminstrative proceedings.

Elizabeth Joyce of the 
Montgomery County Civic Federation

Elizabeth Joyce and Alan Bowser of the Montgomery County Civic Federation both recalled that several of the sitting councilmembers had promised their organization that they would restore funding for the Office of the People's Counsel during candidate interviews the federation held last June. Joyce said money is not the issue, because the funds Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has earmarked for the office in his proposed FY-2024 budget amount to only .0004% of the total budget.

Given the recent scandals that ended with the resignation of the entire Planning Board, Bowser questioned why Friedson would suggest eliminating a tool of equity and transparency like the Office of the People's Counsel. "Why in this moment of broad distrust, why would any of you want to exacerbate this situation" by proposing to eliminate the OPC? Bowser asked. Comparing Friedson's OPC-killing bill to a similar one that failed to pass seven years ago, Bowser concluded, "This was a bad bill in 2016; it's a terrible bill in 2023."

Resident Susan Labin pointed out that Friedson had ironically recently complained that a state bill that would have increased the County Executive's authority over planning and zoning was "a power grab," while Friedson is now attempting to grab power away from residents by killing the Office of the People's Counsel. "It seems like at every turn the real power grab is by the special interests," Labin said.

Nicole Williams

"I'm speaking from painful experience," Potomac resident Peggy Dennis said at the beginning of her testimony against Friedson's bill, and in favor the Office of the People's Counsel. She spoke of the many hours residents in her community spent fighting a gigantic assisted-living development that was in violation of the area's sector plan and County law, which was proposed by "a well-heeled developer." Had the OPC been in operation at that time, Dennis argued, "all of that time would have been saved...That person could have introduced evidence in a hearing, called witnesses, pointed out" illegal violations. 

Such time investment is beyond the means and availability of most residents, Nicole Williams said. "We shouldn't have to" spend time trying to interpret zoning and land-use laws while developers have the advantage of expensive attorneys. After 13 years of failing to fund the People's Counsel, Williams said, it's "time to stop giving residents the runaround."

The reality, as Bronstein noted during his testimony, is that there are hardly any land-use attorneys who will represent residents, even when wealthier neighborhoods have the money to pay them. This is absolutely true. For years, Norman Knopf would take such resident and civic association cases. After he retired, his partner David Brown continued in that role. But Brown refused to represent the Westbard residents who sued Montgomery County over illegal actions during the approval of the Westbard sector plan. Michele Rosenfeld took the residents' case. With her victory on Kensington residents' behalf in the Costco gas station case, and partial victory in downsizing the density of the Westbard Square development, Rosenfeld is now the preeminent land-use attorney representing residents and civic associations in court and in administrative proceedings. 

But that can only help if you can afford to hire an attorney. With the large number of newer residents in the County either being low-to-moderate in income, and many not speaking English as their first language - as Present noted in her testimony, a public resource and representative like the Office of the People's Counsel becomes more vital every day. And with the Planning Board and County Council increasingly ruling against majority sentiment and ignoring resident and civic association testimony, it can be argued that - if anything - the role and power of the People's Counsel should be expanded and made more muscular.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Olney shooting suspect and vehicle sought (Video)

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating a suspect and related vehicle in a March 29, 2023 shooting in Olney. Detectives have released surveillance video of both. They say the African-American suspect was seen standing with others around a white Ford Fusion with front-end damage in the parking lot of Brooke Grove Elementary School at 2700 Spartan Road. He then allegedly drew a firearm, fired several shots, and then fled on foot. The Ford Fusion was seen driving away from the scene moments later.

Detectives are urging anyone with information regarding this shooting or the suspect(s) involved to call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s). Callers may remain anonymous.     

Monday, April 17, 2023

Why Montgomery County needs an Office of the People's Counsel more than ever

The great irony of the attempt by some on the Montgomery County Council to permanently kill the long-dormant Office of the People's Counsel, is that the position is needed even more today than when the Council defunded it in 2010. Developers seized majority control on the Council in 2002 through their well-funded "End Gridlock slate" of candidates, and by 2010, controlled 8 out of the 9 seats. Yet there was still at least a cosmetic veneer of an idea that growth and land use issues were up for some debate. For initiatives or major master plans that were a heavy lift, County planners had to gin up elaborate presentations and supporting ideas like "smart growth," and "transit-oriented development," and even falsely state that rail transit lines, new highways and "vibrant town centers" would be part of "smart growth" communities like Clarksburg and Watkins Mill.

Once the Office of the People's Counsel - held by an attorney who could provide zoning and land-use advice to the public, and represent residents' interests at administrative hearings - was defunded, the public role in land-use decisions was rapidly phased out. An incredible series of events began to unfold. The Columbia Country Club - which had successfully held off construction of the Purple Line for decades - was defeated in that struggle by the county political cartel in 2013. That same year, the Planning Board stifled a potential Maryland Attorney General Investigation of the criminal Farm Road scandal, by appointing an investigator who had donated thousands of dollars to the Attorney General. 

In 2014, the County Council approved a new zoning code that essentially rezoned everything except single-family home residential neighborhoods as mixed-use. 2016 witnessed unanimous Council passage of the controversial Westbard sector plan, despite overwhelming resident opposition. From 2017 to the present, the Council, Planning Board, and Housing Opportunities Commission would continue to stymie and suppress all efforts to conduct archaeological studies on the Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. And last fall, the Council passed the controversial Thrive 2050 over countywide resident opposition, a plan that will end single-family home zoning across most of Montgomery County.

Had there been an Office of the People's Counsel over these thirteen years, it's likely that none of these events would have transpired in the way they did, if at all. The People's Counsel would surely have tangled with County officials on the complex zoning matters at stake. Instead, we've seen a Planning Board and Council that completely ignore public input from individual residents and civic associations, and steamroll ahead with whatever developers want to do.

If anything, the Council needs to scrap Bill 18-23, and get about the business of restoring funding for the Office of the People's Counsel. You won't be surprised to know that the author of Bill 18-23, Councilmember Andrew Friedson, isn't just the recipient of developer campaign donations - - developers even host fundraisers for him.

What's needed is not just the return of the People's Counsel, but a beefed-up version of the office, with expanded authority. Sector plan updates should once again require a committee to be formed with representatives of all stakeholders, including residents, not the sham charrette process that replaced it. 

It's also time that a new layer of protection that District of Columbia residents enjoy is added to Montgomery County: Publicly-elected, non-partisan Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. As stated on the D.C. Board of Elections website, "Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners advise the District government on matters of public policy including decisions regarding planning, streets, recreation, social services programs, health, safety, and sanitation in their respective neighborhood commission areas. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners are elected to two year terms every election year."

In an era where development interests are supercharged, it's time that residents also get a power boost from a People's Counsel, sector plan committees, and the establishment of ANCs.

The Council will hold a public hearing on Bill 18-23, tomorrow, April 18, 2023 at 1:30 PM. If the Council presses ahead with a vote on the bill before it adjourns for the summer, voters will want to watch closely. There haven't been enough votes on land use issues by this new Council to determine how many of the 11 seats are now controlled by developers. Any member who votes to kill the Office of the People's Counsel will have made crystal clear who controls their seat.

Friday, April 14, 2023

City Taste restaurant offered for sale in Silver Spring

City Taste Asian Cuisine
, located at 930 Wayne Avenue in the ground floor of the Crescent Condominium in Silver Spring, is being offered for sale. An online listing says the asking price - including the value of the business - is $1,590,000. It touts the restaurant's hardwood floors, and cites a lease option being available. City Taste remains open for business at this time.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Five Below opens at Wheaton Plaza

Five Below
is now open at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The discount chain is in an expansion mode nationwide, including in the Aspen Hill/Wheaton area. It expanded its Aspen Hill store, and now opens another location not that far away at the mall. 

The company says it expects to transform a majority of its stores into Five Beyond stores in the coming years, as inflationary pressures wreak havoc on $1 and now $5 stores. You'll notice a sign on the storefront here is already touting merchandise "$1 to $5 and beyond!" Look for Five Below on Level 2 of the mall, next to Verified Sneaker Store.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Montgomery County police hire Hispanic Community Liaison

The Montgomery County Police Department has hired a Hispanic Community Liaison, it announced in a press release yesterday.  Montgomery County government employee Mariela Leon has previously worked in the Department of Health and Human Services and in the Office of Human Resources. Her father is from Guatemala, and her mother is from El Salvador. Leon was the first member of her family to attend college, and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and Criminal Justice, and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management.

At the police department, Leon will be assigned to the Office of Public Information. She is "excited to be part of the Montgomery County Police Department," according to the department's press release.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Fate of historic Wheaton building unknown

Nava Thai
has permanently closed at 11301 Fern Street in Wheaton. The fate of the historic building is unknown, as it is not under an official historic designation for preservation purposes. It has been marketed for sale by the owner in the past. The structure is one of the last remaining of the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn steakhouses still standing in the D.C. region.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Dollar Tree opens new Wheaton store (Photos)

The new Dollar Tree store has opened at 2321 University Boulevard W. in Wheaton. Until recently, this was a CVS Pharmacy. Further in the past, it was a Toys R Us or Juvenile Sales toy store. The new Dollar Tree is open 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Saturday, and 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Sundays.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Montgomery County issues hypothermia alert

The Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security has issued a Hypothermia Alert for Monday, April 10, 2023, between the hours of 2:00 AM and 10:00 AM. During that time, the wind chill is forecast to be below 32 degrees. 

A Hypothermia Alert means that conditions present a danger of hypothermia or frostbite to those outdoors for extended periods. Dress warmly and wear layers if you must spend significant time outdoors during the hours covered by the alert. If you have safety concerns about people or pets, you are asked to call 301-279-8000.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Rockville man stabbed to death outside Wheaton parking garage

A Rockville man has died after being stabbed outside a Montgomery County-owned parking garage in Wheaton this past Wednesday, April 5, 2023, around 12:20 PM. Montgomery County police officers responded to a report of a stabbing at the Amherst Garage, which is located in the 11300 block of Amherst Avenue, around 12:23. They found 28-year-old Amontae Robert Cunningham of Rockville suffering from a stab wound. Cunningham was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives learned that Cunningham had been a passenger on a Metrobus, and had gotten into an argument with another passenger. When the bus stopped in front of the parking garage, both men disembarked. The suspect then allegedly stabbed Cunningham.

Detectives are asking for any passengers on the bus before the stabbing to contact the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. Anyone with information regarding this suspect or this crime, is asked to contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect. Callers may remain anonymous. 

Shoe City closing in Wheaton

Shoe City
is closing at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The "original DC sneaker store" is holding a closing sale. There are already quite a few bare spots on the shelves, so hurry in to save. Look for Shoe City on Level 1 in the Dick's Sporting Goods wing of the mall.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Montgomery County police release video of Aspen Hill Walgreens shoplifting spree

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating three suspects in a shoplifting spree at the Walgreens store at 13870 Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill. They have released surveillance video of the suspects entering the store on April 3, 2023 at 7:54 PM. Suspects 1 and 2 enter hand-in-hand as a couple, followed by Suspect 3, who is alone. Detectives allege that all three suspects then "stole a large amount of merchandise" and fled the store.

Suspect 1 is described by police as a Latino male in his twenties or thirties with black short hair, and wearing a black Jordan hat, a black mask, a plaid long sleeved-bottom shirt, blue jeans and black/white Nike tennis shoes. Suspect 2 is described as a Latina female in her twenties or thirties with long blue hair, carrying a brown purse, and wearing a plaid dress and gray tennis shoes. Suspect 3 is also described as a Latina female with an "unknown tattoo" on her chest. Dectectives say she is in her twenties, with long brown hair, and was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, gray pants and multicolor tennis shoes.  

Anyone with information regarding the suspects or this crime is asked to call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects. Callers can remain anonymous.  

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Montgomery County under Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 10 PM

The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for central and southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C., effective until 10:00 PM tonight, April 6, 2023. Violent thunderstorms are expected. Isolated wind gusts up to 70 MPH and large hail are possible. It is currently 85 degrees, but temperatures tonight will plunge into the 40s after the storms pass through the area.

Make sure your phone is charged, and that you have fresh batteries in your flashlight. Keep a battery-powered radio nearby, and retrieve any objects that might be blown around by winds from your yard or balcony.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Car stolen from Fitzgerald Wheaton dealership

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from the Fitzgerald Auto Mall at 10915 Georgia Avenue in Wheaton yesterday, April 4, 2023. The suspects crashed a stolen vehicle into the dealership's fence. They then broke the window of a Toyota Prius, started it and sped away. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Willie T's Seafood Shack opens in Silver Spring

Willie T's Seafood Shack
has opened at 9326 Georgia Avenue, in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring. The 1200 square foot restaurant is aimed toward the takeout and delivery audiences, with only 12 seats for indoor dining. Thompson Hospitality, the restaurant group behind Willie T's and Be Right Burger, says the standout items on the menu are the fresh lobster rolls and jumbo lump crab rolls, as well as their breaded Delta catfish and battered cod. 

Side dishes include hush puppies, fried onion petals, mac & cheese, coleslaw, and french fries. Dessert options include Red Velvet or Chocolate Cake. Operating hours for Willie T's are 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily. 

Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein announces he will retire

Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein announced this morning that he will retire after 31 years of service with the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service. He has served as chief for 8 of those years. Goldstein's last day will be June 30, 2023. MCFRS has been considered one of the top fire departments in the nation under his leadership.

“Chief Goldstein has given this County so much since he first started with the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department in 1987,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement this morning. “We have leaned on his expertise and skills as a leader and watched the department grow under his leadership. Over the past few years, Chief Goldstein has worked with me and other County leaders to make this a smooth transition and I thank him for his service to the men and women of MCFRS and the people of this County.” 

Goldstein has accepted the Fire Chief position for Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue in Kelso, Washington and will begin serving in that post July 17. “It is my honor and pleasure to be part of this great department and to have the opportunity to serve as your fire chief,” Goldstein said in a statement.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Montgomery County Council bill would permanently eliminate Office of the People's Counsel

A bill introduced by Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D - District 1) would permanently eliminate the Office of the People's Counsel. The office, which was able to assist residents with land use and development issues, and could represent the interests of the public in some land use proceedings, hasn't been funded by the Council since FY-2010. Developer-funded councilmembers used the budget shortfall as an excuse to "temporarily" get rid of the position starting in FY-2011, and, of course, never restored funding since. 

Bill 18-23, co-sponsored by Councilmember Dawn Leudtke (D - District 7), would create a new office, called the Community Zoning and Land Use Resource Office. It would completely gut the functions of the People's Counsel that made it beneficial for residents, but a pain for development interests. The "officer' of the new office would no longer be an attorney. They would no longer be allowed to participate or advocate for the public in administrative proceedings. That would be a big win for developers, as the People's Counsel as currently defined in County code can introduce evidence, call and cross-examine witnesses, and point out when the County or a developer is in violation of County code and regulations.

The reason this is happening is that County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has made a firm point of wanting to have funding for the Office of the People's Counsel finally restored in the FY-2024 operating budget. Much like the bait-and-switch soundalike bills on expanding the Council size and rent stabilization, which sounded like what advocates wanted but prevent the substantive change of the competing proposals, the "Community Zoning and Land Use Resource Office" is as much like the Office of the People's Counsel as the German Democratic Republic was democratic. 

In short, Bill 18-23 is a totally-cynical move to kill off the People's Counsel permanently, as it is getting harder and harder for the Council to explain year after year why it is not funding an office that exists solely to help residents. As you can imagine, it's difficult to publicly announce that you don't want to fund an office that exists solely to help your constituents and protect their interests.  Thus the bait-and-switch. A public hearing on Bill 18-23 is currently scheduled for April 18, 2023 at 1:30 PM.