Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Losing to Virginia on another factory, is Montgomery County in the hunt for IKEA manufacturing site?


Montgomery County and Maryland were beaten in the economic development game again by Virginia yesterday. Will they be players in the next big manufacturing competition, for an IKEA factory on American soil? Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's office announced Tuesday that his state had won the competition for a 400,000-square-foot Condair Group AG manufacturing facility. The press release indicated that Virginia and South Carolina were the two finalists. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported this past weekend that IKEA is scouting for factory locations in the United States, due to increasing disruptions in international shipping lanes.

Virginia could already have a [LÖVBACKEN table] leg up in the IKEA race, as the Swedish furniture giant previously operated its only U.S. factory in Danville, Virginia from 2008 to 2019. It ultimately closed that plant, shipping its 300 jobs back to Europe. Montgomery County has plenty of room for an IKEA plant in the I-270 corridor, where there is also potential direct rail access to the CSX Metropolitan Subdivision for domestic or port shipping purposes. Of course, Baltimore, Hagerstown and Cumberland are among the struggling Maryland cities that could use an IKEA plant to help revive their once-mighty industrial areas.

There's no indication of Montgomery County or Maryland having been in the hunt for the Condair plant. The $57.2 million investment by Condair in Chesterfield County, Virginia will create 180 good-paying industrial jobs with full benefits. Instead of Condair products being exported out of the Port of Baltimore, they'll be headed out of Richmond Marine Terminal in Virginia, according to the press release.

"When an international brand like Condair makes the decision to locate in Virginia, the positive ripple-effects of economic investment, job creation and cargo growth are felt throughout the Commonwealth," Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards said in a statement. "The Port of Virginia will be among the beneficiaries of Condair’s location in Chesterfield County, which is not far from Richmond Marine Terminal. We are ready to collaborate with Condair to help it leverage the assets of this port — America’s most modern gateway — to ensure it has access to world markets." 

"Virginia is the perfect location for the international company Condair to establish its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility," Youngkin said in a statement Tuesday. "We applaud the 21st century manufacturing jobs that this project will bring to Chesterfield County."

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Lil' Sumthin' Sweet "coming soon" to downtown Silver Spring


Lil' Sumthin' Sweet
, a dessert cafe, is "coming soon" to 8563 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring, according to signage posted in the former Smoothie King storefront. The cafe will serve a variety of treats, including ice cream, cakes, and pies, as well as coffee. I want that character with the Mickey Mouse gloves on the wall to be a filled donut, but it may be a cookie. Apparently, yogurt chain TCBY has dropped the plan to open in this space that surfaced last September. 




Monday, June 17, 2024

Wheaton Gateway meeting postponed


The public meeting on the latest plans for the Wheaton Gateway development scheduled for June 18, 2024 has been postponed, an attorney for the applicants said. A new date has not yet been set, but will be announced in advance. The meeting had been scheduled to review and obtain feedback on the project's Preliminary and Site Plans, as well as an amendment to its Sketch Plan. No reason for the postponement was given.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Local UFCW unions endorse Alsobrooks in Maryland U.S. Senate race, Trump embraces critic Hogan


Three local United Food & Commercial Workers unions endorsed Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) in the race for Ben Cardin's Maryland U.S. Senate seat yesterday. UFCW Local 400, UFCW Local 27, and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO represent over 30,000 members who are registered voters in Maryland. Those members work in a wide variety of fields, including grocery stores, retail, health care, food processing, meatpacking, chemical processing, cannabis, and gaming, as well as in the public sector. UFCW Local 1994 represents many Montgomery County government employees, for example.

UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO President Gino Renne

“Angela Alsobrooks is a champion for working families, and a relentless advocate for justice and equity,” UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO President Gino Renne said in a statement Thursday. “Her commitment to the people of Maryland and her proven track record of leadership make her the ideal candidate for the U.S. Senate. I am proud to endorse Angela Alsobrooks, confident that she will fight tirelessly for our rights and our future.”

Alsobrooks receiving the endorsement of
local 1199 SEIU union in February

The choice of labor to support Alsobrooks is not necessarily a surprising development in the general election contest, which pits the Prince George's leader against former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in a statewide election that may determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Alsobrooks has already garnered many union endorsements in the race, including several local SEIU unions, and the Amalgamated Transit Union. Thursday's endorsements give her the backing of 13 labor organizations, based upon the list on her campaign website.

Former Gov. Larry Hogan receiving endorsement
of Ocean City and Worcester County firefighters in
Ocean City

Hogan has received six union endorsements himself, many representing first responders in the state. Among those supporting the Republican are the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.), the nation’s oldest maritime labor union representing officers of the United States Merchant Marines, Ocean City Career Firefighter Paramedics Association IAFF Local 4269, Worcester County Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 4916, the International Union of Police Associations, the State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance (SLEOLA), and the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333. The latter represents more than 2,000 maritime workers at the busy Port of Baltimore.

One endorsement Hogan didn't necessarily expect was that of President Donald Trump, whom the former governor has heavily criticized for years. But he got it anyway Thursday, only a week after Trump surrogates declared Hogan's Senate hopes dead, after the Marylander asked his fellow Americans to respect the verdict in Trump's New York trial. 

Trump's habit of embracing even his harshest critics at the drop of a hat can be seen by some as shrewd, and by others as nonsensical. But Trump's transactional relationship style has served him well for decades in business and politics, making his endorsement of Hogan not entirely shocking. On balance, the Trump nod may even help Hogan, if "Lockdown Larry"-averse MAGA voters end up begrudgingly following their leader's directive.

Photos courtesy Alsobrooks for Senate, UFCW Local 1994, Hogan for Maryland, Inc.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

You could own a brewery building in Silver Spring


The building currently home to Third Hill Brewing Co. at 8216 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring is on the market for sale. This doesn't mean that Third Hill is closing; in fact, their lease runs through February 2029, with 2 5-year extension options. What it does mean, is that you can own the building and become the landlord. According to the sale listing, you would also become the owner of the brewery beermaking equipment, which will convey with the sale, and the cool lighted sign on the pole out front. The asking price is $4,000,000, according to the online sale listing

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Silver Spring parking lot for sale


A parking lot in downtown Silver Spring is now available for sale. The paved lot at 8603 2nd Avenue has 14 parking spaces, and is currently also improved with a playground. An existing lease on the property expires in 2025. The asking price for the lot is $1,225,000, according to the sale listing by Bethesda-based AMR Commercial, LLC. 


If you could assemble this site with others around it in the future, zoning allows for a building height of up to 175'. Of course, it may be just as valuable of an investment as a parking lot, as more and more parking facilities are redeveloped, and future buildings have less or no parking at all. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Daily Dish celebrating 15 years in Silver Spring


The Daily Dish
, the popular restaurant at 8301 Grubb Road in Silver Spring, is 15 years old in 2024. To celebrate, the Hollinger Group restaurant will be serving its famous weekend brunch every day this week through Sunday, June 16, with half-price brunch boards. Brunch will be served daily through 3:30 PM; the regular lunch menu will not be available this week. And each afternoon at 3:00 PM, an all-night Happy Hour will begin.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Capitol View Park yard sale scheduled for Sat., June 15


Capitol View Park, a neighborhood located between Kensington and Forest Glen in Montgomery County, will host a community yard sale this coming Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. There will be two clusters for the multi-family yard sale: One at the corner of Grant and Dennis Avenues, and the other at the corner of Barker Street and Menlo Avenue. Sunday, June 16 will be the rain date for the event.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Moby Dick House of Kabob soft opening in Burtonsville today


Moby Dick House of Kabob
will hold a soft-opening of its newest restaurant in Burtonsville today, June 7, 2024. The Persian restaurant is located at 15783 Old Columbia Pike, at Burtonsville Crossing. There will be a discount for walk-in diners only until June 16.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Free donuts at Dunkin' Donuts in East MoCo this Friday, June 7


National Donut Day is this Friday, June 7, 2024. That means free donuts at your local Dunkin' Donuts in Aspen Hill, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Kensington, White Oak, Takoma Park, Burtonsville and Olney. Get a free donut with the purchase of any beverage, including the limited-time drinks of summer 2024 like the Blueberry Donut Iced Coffee or the Vanilla Frosted Donut Iced Coffee Signature Latte. 


Dunkin' Donuts has also teamed up with Scrub Daddy to create two Dunkin' Donuts-themed sponges. The Scrub Daddy and Scrub Mommy sponges come as a set for $9.98 plus shipping. They can be ordered online

Photos courtesy Dunkin' Donuts

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Do you recognize this alleged Silver Spring burglar?


Montgomery County police detectives are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating a suspect in the April 10, 2024 burglary of a Citgo gas station in the 8330 block of Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring. Police allege that this man forced his way into the gas station building around 2:29 AM that morning. Inside, he stole an undisclosed amount of cash from a cash register.

Police describe the suspect as a White male, approximately 30 years-of-age. He was wearing a gray hoodie, black pants, and black shoes. 

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or incident are asked to visit the Crime Solvers of Montgomery County, MD website at www.crimesolversmcmd.org and click on the “www.p3tips.com” link at the top of the page or call 1-866-411-8477. A reward of from $250 up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect. Tipsters may remain anonymous.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Public meeting scheduled for Wheaton Gateway project


Developer PS Ventures, LLC is holding a required pre-submission public meeting for its Wheaton Gateway project, which is located on the former site of The Ambassador apartments at the corner of University Boulevard and Veirs Mill Road. If the name sounds familiar, the project has been in the works for about five years under that name. The Lindsay Ford dealership site is also part of the assembled property, as well as property along East Avenue, allowing for up to 800 apartments to be constructed on the resulting 5.16 acres of land.

The meeting will cover the project's Preliminary Plan and Site Plan, as well as an amendment to its Sketch Plan. A key difference with the latest iteration of Wheaton Gateway is the boosting of the number of affordable Moderately-Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs) from 30% to 40%. By my math, that would allow for up to 320 MPDUs. This, along with the redevelopment of Privacy World in Glenmont, are the only projects I can think of where the new developments are actually providing a net gain in affordable units.

Building heights would be allowed to increase along the University and Veirs Mill sides of the property, as a result of the developer providing those additional homes. However, PS Ventures says it will not ask for a height increase on the East Avenue side of the development. That is the side that faces a residential neighborhood of single-family homes. PS Ventures is part of a team developing the Wheaton Gateway project, which also includes The Duffie Companies, Willco, and the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County.

Attendees can participate in-person, or virtually, at the meeting. It will be held on June 18, 2024 at 7:00 PM in the auditorium of the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission headquarters at 2425 Reedie Drive (near the Wheaton Metro station). Those who wish to participate online can go to WheatonGateway.com, where log-in instructions will be posted. I recommend going to the website at least a few minutes before 7:00 to allow extra time to follow the instructions.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Hindu temple broken into in Aspen Hill


A Hindu temple in Aspen Hill was broken into on May 24, 2024, Montgomery County police report. Two suspects forced their way into the Vedanta Center of Greater Washington, DC at 3001 Bel Pre Road sometime between 8:30 PM and 8:56 PM that evening. However, nothing has been identified as having been stolen from inside. Police describe the suspects as a 60-year-old male, and a 40-year-old male, of unspecified race.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Taste of Wheaton 2024 this Sunday, June 2


The annual Taste of Wheaton is set for this Sunday, June 2, 2024 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Marian Fryer Town Plaza at 2424 Reedie Drive. Enjoy cuisine from 21 Wheaton-area restaurants, an artisan market, and live entertainment headlined by The Nighthawks. There will also be rides, arts, and crafts for kids, and a beer and wine garden. The event will be held rain or shine. 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Police searching for suspect in Aspen Hill strong-arm robbery


Montgomery County police are searching for a suspect in the May 13, 2024 strong-arm robbery that took place in broad daylight in Aspen Hill. The male suspect allegedly robbed his adult female victim in the 2200 block of Bel Pre Road, near the Plaza del Mercado shopping center, around 11:04 AM that morning. Police describe the suspect as a Black male, aged 20-25. If you have any information about this suspect or incident, call police at (301) 279-8000.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Takoma Park man dies in Silver Spring double homicide


A young Takoma Park man was one of two 20-year-old victims in a tragic Silver Spring homicide Sunday evening, May 26, 2024. Montgomery County and National-Capital Park police were called to Nolte Local Park at 200 Denver Road at 6:57 PM Sunday. Upon arriving at the scene, officers found Quincy Johnson, of Takoma Park, and D’Andre Wint, of Lanham, suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers attempted lifesaving efforts, but Johnson and Wint were ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information regarding the deaths of Quincy Johnson and D’Andre Wint are asked to visit the Crime Solvers of Montgomery County, MD website at www.crimesolversmcmd.org and click on the “www.p3tips.com” link at the top of the page or call 1-866-411-8477. A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects. Tipsters may remain anonymous.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Black cemetery advocates call for boycott of Montgomery County Juneteenth events


Advocates protesting the ongoing desecration of Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda are calling for a boycott of Montgomery County government-sponsored Juneteenth 2024 events. The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition is organizing the boycott to highlight the failure of Montgomery County elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to condemn the desecration and intervene in the matter. BACC is asking residents to instead attend an alternative slate of Juneteenth events that it will be sponsoring.

The BACC Juneteenth events will include an interfaith program on June 15, 2024 at 1:00 PM at Macedonia Baptist Church at 5119 River Road in Bethesda, and a community program on June 19 from 3:00 to 6:00 PM at the church that will include speakers, food and cultural performances. Further details on the June 19 event are pending.

BACC announced the planned boycott yesterday, Memorial Day, by also recognizing an American Civil War veteran who is buried in Moses African Cemetery. Pvt. William H.H. Brown served in the 30th United States Colored Troops (USCT) Regiment. The 30th is credited with exhibiting incredible heroism in many critical events and battles, in the service of a Union that had given them nothing up to that point in its history. 

A Maryland state archive lists a Pvt. William H. Brown as having been mustered into Company E of the 30th on March 3, 1864. The record indicates Pvt. Brown was honorably discharged, like a majority of the 30th, on December 10, 1865.

The biggest of BACC's alternative Juneteenth events will be a celebration of Brown's service and heroism on June 18 at 1:00 PM, beginning at Macedonia Baptist Church. An honor guard of 30th USCT Regiment Civil War reenactors will lead a march from the church to the nearby Moses African Cemetery. There, they will lay a wreath, raise the Juneteenth flag, and sound Taps. The public is invited to join the march and ceremony. 

Private Brown is one of many whose graves either remain under a parking lot alongside and behind the Westwood Tower apartments in Bethesda, or whose remains were directly desecrated and illegally relocated into a mass grave elsewhere on the site. Montgomery County has blocked all attempts to conduct any independent archaeological examination of the two recognized cemetery parcels, one of which it already owned via the Housing Opportunity Commission's ownership of Westwood Tower, and the other - located across the Willett Branch stream from Westwood Tower's rear parking lot - it hastily acquired to prevent any search for remains.

A third parcel directly adjacent to the second is now being developed as a self-storage building by a private company. While that parcel was not officially part of the cemetery, concerns were raised during the project approval process in 2017 about burials that may have occurred just over the property line of the graveyard, a phenomenon not unusual in cemeteries of that era where boundaries may not have been physically delineated. Those concerns were brushed aside by the Montgomery County Planning Board, who called in armed police to intimidate cemetery advocates peacefully protesting at the public hearing. In addition to demanding silence of the protesters, officers ordered them to turn their signs around to the blank side.

The self-storage project has faced many delays since its approval. When excavation commenced, observers with the BACC reported seeing possible bones and funerary objects being removed from the site. An archaeological expert employed by the developer declared that the materials were not human remains or funerary objects, and they were trucked away and stored in a Virginia warehouse at an unknown location. The BACC and its own expert asked why, if the developer's expert was correct, they could not have a chance to examine the items themselves.

BACC officials have asked Montgomery County elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to condemn the desecration of the cemetery, and to intervene in several respects, including the release of the excavated materials for independent review. None have done so. 

The cemetery and Macedonia Baptist Church are the only physical remnants of a vibrant Black community that existed in the now-industrialized and commercialized area along River Road between Brookside Drive and Little Falls Parkway. Former slaves emancipated from the adjacent Loughborough plantation established the community after the Civil War. A River Road "colored school" provided education prior to desegregation of public schools. The community's descendants were forced from the land in the 1950s and 1960s by developers via various illegal or unethical means. 

Former resident Harvey Matthews - who grew up on a property now home to a Whole Foods Market - has cited the deceptions and intimidations employed by developers, including physical threats and actual violence by a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He recalls that he and his family were beaten by Klansmen. Montgomery County government and law enforcement looked the other way at the time, and not only allowed the Black community to be forced out, but completely eliminated its history from the official County historical narrative.

The HOC recently violated Maryland law by trying to sell the cemetery property to a private developer, without contacting the descendants of those buried there. That matter is now before the Maryland Supreme Court. A recent concrete pour at the self-storage construction site only further angered the descendant community.

"This is the level of vile barbarism [and] White supremacy that is unmatched in history," BACC President Marcia Coleman-Adebayo said on WPFW FM last week, citing the shocking fate of Pvt. Brown's remains. "This is how Montgomery County, Maryland celebrates Juneteenth, and this is why the BACC calls for boycott of the Montgomery County Juneteenth program."

Photo of 30th USCT Regiment provided by BACC

Monday, May 27, 2024

Wheaton Target offers Prince for Target pickleball collection


Target has added a small pickleball section to most of its stores, in cooperation with sporting goods brand Prince. Called "Pickleball Point," it appears to have everything a beginner needs to get started. The section is an exclusive partnership between Target and Prince, and is planned to be a limited-time promotion. Among the 80 items in the "Prince for Target" collection are retro track suits and pleated skirts, as well as paddles with colors that match the apparel. Target says the merchandise will be available "while supplies last." Pricing starts at $9.99, and most items are under $50.





Friday, May 24, 2024

Insurers are price-gouging Maryland residents: Why they're getting away with it


Maryland residents are paying outrageous premiums for health insurance, auto insurance and homeowner's insurance. It is price-gouging, pure and simple. But Maryland lawmakers recently concluded their 2024 legislative session without taking any action to protect their constituents from these predatory premiums. And now we know why.

Insurance companies are among the biggest financial contributors to our elected officials in Annapolis. As a result, a Democratic-controlled general assembly is treating insurance firms the way our Montgomery County Council treats the real estate development industry: with a hands-off, libertarian-Republican, brass knuckle capitalist approach that Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan could endorse.

Most of us expected that the more years we drove while maintaining a good driving record would lower our insurance costs. Instead, premiums continue to skyrocket to record heights. In the case of auto insurance, we have been twice-victimized by our elected officials. Not only have they failed to protect us from premium price-gouging, but their soft-on-crime approach has given insurers a handy excuse to claim that all of the stolen vehicles are costing them money.

Here's a look inside the insurance companies' checkbooks, and your governor's, legislative leaders' and Montgomery County legislators' campaign treasure chests. The contributions listed below are only a portion of the donations made, and primarily cover the period from 2022 to 2024. Elected officials listed are A) Governor Wes Moore, B) State Senate President Bill Ferguson, C) Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones, D) Gov. Moore/Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller's Inaugural Committee, and E) Montgomery County delegates and state senators.

Liberty Mutual

2022:

$500 Eric Luedtke

$1500 Jeff Waldstreicher

$1000 Will Smith

$1000 Brian Feldman


2021

$250 Nancy King

$750 Will Smith

$250 Brian Feldman


GEICO

2021

$250 Jeff Waldstreicher

$250 Ben Kramer

$250 Brian Feldman


State Farm 

2023

$1000 Bill Ferguson


2022

$750 Bill Ferguson

$250 Will Smith

 

2021

$500 Brian Feldman


2020

$1000 Bill Ferguson

$2000 Will Smith


Carefirst Blue Cross

Since 2022


$1000 Wes Moore

$1000 Will Smith

$2000 Brian Feldman

$500 Marc Korman

$500 Jheanelle Wilkins

$250 Ben Kramer

$6000 Bill Ferguson

$30,000 Moore-Miller Inaugural Committee

$500 Bonnie Cullison

$2000 Democratic Senate Caucus Committee

$500 Kumar Barve

$500 Eric Luedtke


Nationwide 

Since 2020

$3500 Will Smith

$1000 House Democratic Caucus Committee


Farmers

$30,000 Moore-Miller Inaugural Committee

$6000 Brian Feldman


Erie Insurance

$1750 Jeff Waldstreicher

$2000 Adrienne Jones

$1500 Will Smith

$5000 Wes Moore

$500 Ben Kramer

$750 Brian Feldman


USAA 

Since 2020


$250 Jeff Waldstreicher

$500 Will Smith

$1000 Adrienne Jones


Cigna 

Since 2022


$750 Bonnie Cullison

$750 Ariana Kelly

$3000 Wes Moore

$1500 Adrienne Jones

$750 Brian Feldman


United Healthcare

$30,000 Moore-Miller Inaugural Committee

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Strong-arm robbery in Takoma Park


Takoma Park City police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery Tuesday night, May 21, 2024. The robbery was reported at a park in the 6700 block of Cockerille Avenue at 8:24 PM Tuesday. That appears to be at Spring Park.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Hungry burglar raids snack bar at AMC Wheaton Mall 9 cineplex


Montgomery County police report that a burglar somehow got access to the AMC Wheaton Mall 9 cineplex at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall in the early morning hours of May 8, 2024. But it turns out the alleged suspect was just hungry. All that was taken during the burglary was food from the theater concessions area. Officers responding to the scene could find no evidence of forced entry to the cineplex. Police describe the suspect only as a White male of unknown age.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Red Lobster closes in Silver Spring as chain files for bankruptcy


Red Lobster
has closed at 8533 Georgia Avenue at Downtown Silver Spring. The seafood restaurant chain announced late Sunday night that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. "This restructuring is the best path forward for Red Lobster," CEO Jonathan Tibus said in a statement. "It allows us to address several financial and operational challenges and emerge stronger and re-focused on our growth. The support we've received from our lenders and vendors will help ensure that we can complete the sale process quickly and efficiently while remaining focused on our employees and guests." As part of its bankruptcy filings, Red Lobster will close some locations, sell some - or potentially all - of its assets, and sell its business to a new entity "formed and controlled by its existing term lenders."




Monday, May 20, 2024

Montgomery County has 2nd-biggest increase in homeless in Washington, D.C. region


Montgomery County is finally near the top of a list again - but it's not one you want to be high on. The County experienced the second-biggest increase in homeless population in the entire Washington, D.C. region since 2023, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Washington, D.C. itself was number one on the list. COG reported that Montgomery County's arch rival, Fairfax County, was the only jurisdiction in the area to enjoy a decrease in unhoused residents.


Of course, Fairfax County has many more high-wage jobs than Montgomery County, which helps one to afford housing. Politicians often tout MoCo's low unemployment numbers, without mentioning that most of the jobs our residents are employed at are not located within Montgomery County. Fairfax also has a lower total tax burden and cost-of-living than Montgomery County. Property taxes are set to rise again in the FY-2025 budget nearing approval by the Montgomery County Council, in a jurisdiction where property taxes are becoming a second mortgage for many residents as it is. And that's just one part of the total tax and fee burden for MoCo residents.


Rents and home prices, despite relentless construction and delivery of new housing units, only continue to skyrocket in Montgomery County. And thousands of existing affordable housing units are being demolished to clear the way for more overpriced "luxury" housing. A ridiculously-high cost-of-living combined with some of the lowest job creation and job growth numbers in the region are a recipe for increasing poverty and homelessness. Montgomery County has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in a quarter century, as company after company has chosen to locate or flee to Northern Virginia over that long, dry period of moribundity. As a result, more jobs, and more high-wage jobs, are created every year in Fairfax County than in Montgomery County - in fact, the numbers aren't even close.


Montgomery County has dropped off of so many top ten lists - Forbes' Top Ten Richest Counties in America, Top School Systems in America, etc. - that it's almost a positive feeling to be on any top ten list. Almost. Perhaps the Montgomery County cartel can create some new slogans: "Montgomery County: We're Number Two in Unhoused Population - We Try Harder (To Make It More Expensive to Live Here)." Or, "The Number of Montgomery County's Unhoused - Rising Almost as Fast as County Councilmembers' Salaries!"

Wheaton nightclub becomes marijuana dispensary


The planned conversion of a former Wheaton nightclub into a higher use as a marijuana dispensary is now complete. Verilife is now open at 11300 Georgia Avenue. The dispensary offers marijuana for adult recreational and medicinal uses, and has opaque windows for patient privacy. Operating hours are 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Sunday through Friday, and 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturdays.




Friday, May 17, 2024

City of Takoma Park to host tenant forum on May 21


The City of Takoma Park will host its first-ever Tenant Forum on May 21, 2024 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM at the Takoma Park Community Center at 7500 Maple Avenue. Hosted by the City Housing Department, it will be held in the auditorium of the center. Topics that will be discussed are tenant laws, eviction protection, potential new policies covering rental housing, and tenant resources. On a related note, beginning July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025, the City of Takoma Park Rent Stabilization Allowance is 3.4%. Landlords are required to comply with Takoma Park’s Rent Stabilization law and cannot increase the rent on occupied units any higher than this allowance.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Hogan launches Democrats for Hogan in Maryland Senate race; Alsobrooks responds with video, Clinton endorsement


Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) formalized his outreach to Democratic voters in the blue state, a day after winning the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Ben Cardin (D). He turned to former Democratic State Senator Bobby Zirkin (MD-11) to lead "Democrats for Hogan," a coalition voters can join that will spearhead the popular former governor's effort to win with bipartisan support in November. 

Hogan enjoyed such support during his two terms as governor, and with his attacks on Donald Trump, reporters and pundits pointed out that polling showed him more popular with Democrats than in his own party at times. Some Republicans took to calling Hogan "Lockdown Larry" for his response to the pandemic, but he received high marks for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis from a majority of voters.

"I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, and as a Democrat, I’m excited to vote and support and work for Larry Hogan for the United States Senate. He is exactly the leader we need," Zirkin said in a video released by the Hogan for Maryland campaign. "I encourage all of my fellow Democrats to really review the record of Governor Hogan, to look at things like fracking and criminal justice reform and cyberbullying, and the way that he was able to hold the line on taxes and still invest in things that are important like education and the Chesapeake Bay. Maybe most importantly, for those of you who believe like me from both parties - but I’m talking to the Democrats right now - that the hyper-partisanship in Washington is not what we should expect from our leaders. That we should expect them to work together. And if you believe that like I do, then I would encourage you to come out and support Larry Hogan for the United States Senate."


Not so fast, Hogan's Democratic opponent, Angela Alsobrooks said with her postings on social media today. Alsobrooks tweeted a video in which she emphasizes Hogan's identity as Republican rather than bipartisan. She retweeted an endorsement from Hillary Clinton, in which the former U.S. Senator wrote of the current Prince George's County Executive, "Maryland, help this extraordinary public servant become your next Senator!" Not surprisingly, the overarching theme of Alsobrooks' output today was abortion. So far, the campaign and all of its surrogates are laser-focused on the pro-choice message, which Democrats have found to be a winning one since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The topic was also on Hogan's agenda today. Referring to his record at the state level, he tweeted, "As governor, I protected the rights of Maryland women to make their own reproductive health decisions. I will do the same in the Senate by restoring Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. No one should come between a woman and her doctor."

He followed up his Democrats for Hogan announcement with a new video of prominent Democrats praising him compiled from TV and radio reports broadcast in recent years, featuring current Governor Wes Moore, former president Bill Clinton, President Joe Biden, Senator Chris Van Hollen and...Angela Alsobrooks.

"To my Democratic and Independent friends, you know me and you know my proven track record of reaching across the aisle to find common ground for the common good," Hogan said in a statement. "I will continue to be the same strong independent leader for Maryland that I always have been. You know that I have the courage to put people over politics and to put country over party. If you are completely fed up with the divisiveness and dysfunction and want a strong, independent leader who will stand-up and fight to clean up the mess in Washington—then join our cause."

Photos courtesy Hogan for Maryland (top), Alsobrooks for Senate (bottom)

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Alsobrooks to take on Hogan this fall, Parrott surprises to face Delaney in Maryland primary election results


Democrat David Trone's wallet is a lot lighter this morning, as Angela Alsobrooks brought an expensive end to the multimillionaire's political career by securing the Democratic nomination for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Ben Cardin (D). Alsobrooks, who currently serves as Prince George's County Executive, would be the first Black person to represent her state in the U.S. Senate if she wins in November. Standing between her and victory is popular former governor Larry Hogan (R), who also won his primary last night. 

While the victory of Alsobrooks followed the trends of her party in the state's recent elections, the favoring of younger and more-progressive candidates did not extend to the 6th Congressional District race, as April McClain Delaney defeated fellow Democrat Joe Vogel. The McClain Delaney-David Trone-John Delaney arc begs the question: has this seat simply become the plaything of the rich? One has to be wistful for the days of farmer Roscoe Bartlett (R), who - God bless him - is still living his best life at the age of 97 after being gerrymandered out of the seat in 2012. A congressperson who thought it was wrong for the government to spy on its own citizens - imagine that!

The surprise of the night in the 6th was the decisive victory of Neil Parrott on the Republican side of that contest. Former gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox was expected to win, or at least come close, after his high-profile endorsement by Donald Trump two years ago. Now spending most of his days in a Manhattan courtroom, and without his nemesis Hogan facing Cox this time, Trump did not weigh in on the 6th District race.

Cox has a strong and loyal following among his supporters, establishing a real movement among Christian conservatives and America First Republicans, even if downsized from 2022. While Tuesday's loss may add to doubts about his future statewide potential, it's unlikely you've heard the last of the attorney and former delegate on the political stage. Parrott will now need to maintain his momentum - and money, money and more money - to stay competitive with McClain Delaney this fall. The 6th District remains severely gerrymandered in strong favor of Democrats. A majority on the U.S. Supreme Court seem to be fine with that, as long as they don't have to undo the red state gerrymandering that has helped Republicans win more seats in Congress than they otherwise would have in recent years.

In the 8th Congressional District, Cheryl Riley defeated Michael Yadeta in a blowout victory. She will face incumbent Jamie Raskin (D) in November.

Can Alsobrooks beat Hogan? Absolutely, if all of the Democrats, independents and Republican women fired up about Roe v. Wade turn out like they did nationally in 2022 and 2023. Out-of-state groups supporting abortion rights were already engaged on her behalf in the primary, and those cash spigots will almost surely be fully-opened after Labor Day. You will hear the word "abortion" coming out of your TV speakers non-stop starting around that time, and lasting through Election Day in November. 

With Black voters holding real power in Maryland, Alsobrooks' potential history-making win is another point in her favor. And she clearly has keen political senses and organizational skills, having just run one of the biggest upset campaigns in recent Maryland history.

At the same time, Hogan has to like the result last night. Alsobrooks doesn't have the Trone fortune at her disposal, while Hogan will have a bounty of GOP dark money flowing in from out of state. Trone had much more appeal to older, moderate and independent voters than Alsobrooks will; those demographics are now in Hogan's corner again. 

Hogan enjoyed strong bipartisan support during his time as governor; Alsobrooks has not in her time as executive or state's attorney. She also doesn't have the statewide name recognition Hogan has. And because she has served in an executive role, Alsobrooks has a record with some weak spots that Hogan or his surrogates can target to a greater extent than Trone's would have provided.

Hogan was limited in what he could do while governor, as his power was greatly restricted by the Democratic legislature. But the things he did do, such as stopping tax hikes or reducing tolls, helped everyone, and voters across a diverse spectrum are likely to remember that at a time when wallets are being crushed by inflation. Barring a Roy McGrath October Surprise, Hogan is going to run a competitive race, and it will be the most-watched contest in the nation outside of Trump vs. Biden.

The most closely-watched races in Montgomery County were for the Board of Education. With the school system, student safety, and student performance continuing to trend downward, and a contentious debate over parents' ability to have their kids opt-out of some curriculum content, a number of insurgent candidates entered the contests to take on the establishment. Election results are so far showing none of the "opt-out" candidates prevailing, and two out of the three teacher's union Apple Ballot candidates are currently winning. 

Apple Ballot choice Rita Montoya is in a tight At-Large race with incumbent Lynne Harris, as ballots continue to arrive and be counted. Election results show Montoya seemed to perform best with voters who cast their ballots in person, while Harris excelled among those voting by mail. Mailed-in votes will continue to be delivered to the Board of Elections in the days ahead.

But David Trone spending $60 million of his own fortune and losing is probably the biggest headline this morning. The private jets, the Ferraris, the lavish mansions that the rest of us could have bought if we had that money... Or the sick who could have been cured, the homeless that could have housed, and the children who could have been educated... Our political system is totally corrupt, and our bank vault-busting election spending is only one of the notable symptoms. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Solaire Social food hall opening Friday in Silver Spring


It's now clear which of the two food halls in downtown Silver Spring will open first. Solaire Social, in the ground floor of the Solaire 8200 Dixon apartment building at 8200 Dixon Avenue, will officially open this Friday, May 17, 2024. The 13,000-square-foot food hall includes a 40-seat bar, and entertainment stage, and eight food stalls curated by chef and restaurateur Akhtar Nawab of Hospitality HQ.


The launch tenants are Manna Sushi, ShugaxIce, Fire Pit Brazilian Barbecue, Just Chicken, Pau & Sophia's Thai Kitchen, Kati Roll Wala, Soko Butcher & Deli, Soko Oyster, and Kabab-2-Go. "Eat. Drink. Be Social." is the motto behind the food hall's concept, and reflects developer Washington Property Company's vision of turning a formerly-industrial area into a community destination for dining and entertainment.


Photos by Robert Dyer (top), Scott Suchman

Monday, May 13, 2024

Arrest in downtown Silver Spring attempted robbery


A would-be strong-arm robber failed to make a getaway in downtown Silver Spring early on the afternoon of April 30, 2024, Montgomery County police say, instead ending up in the custody of Montgomery's Finest. The suspect approached the adult male victim near the intersection of Georgia and Sligo Avenues around 1:11 PM. Police allege that the suspect attempted to use physical force to obtain property belonging to the victim.

Instead, a Montgomery County police officer arrested Taleem Lee, 29, of downtown Silver Spring. Lee has been charged with felony armed robbery, and illegal dumping of less than 100 pounds. Judge Michael O. Glynn III ordered Lee held without bond at a hearing on May 1. Court records indicate Lee had been arrested for misdemeanor theft on March 14, and posted a $500 bond to gain his release the next day. Fourteen days later, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor theft again, and issued a "non-traffic citation."

Friday, May 10, 2024

Robbery at Walgreens in Takoma Park


Takoma Park City police responded to a report of a robbery at a Walgreens store this past Monday night, May 6, 2024. The robbery was reported at the Walgreens at 1329 University Boulevard E. at 9:19 PM Monday.