Categories
MoCo Local Podcast

The MoCo Local Podcast – Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar

Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar

In this Episode, Vito takes a look at how repealing the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights is going in Maryland and how Community Solar didn’t quite get the start we needed in Montgomery County.

EPISODE 1 NOTES

2:30 – Quote from Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher via Maryland Matters

3:05 – MGA Committee Meeting Video

3:36 – ACLU MD Tweet

3:57 – Will Jawando Tweet

7:13 – ZTA 20-01 bill

8:26 – Letter from Kumar Barve to Council via The Seventh State

9:03 – Mike Tidwell quote from Washington Post

9:38 & 10:51 – Comments from Councilmember Hans Riemer and Councilmember Evan Glass

13:50 – Widening freeways doesn’t reduce traffic congestion

14:12 – WMATA Ridership h/t Dan Reed at Just Up The Pike

Email: vito@mocolocal.blog

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | MoCo Local Voicemail: (301) 679-0252Thank you to Stephen Indrisano for the Intro/Outro music

Categories
County Council Education

Members of MCPS SRO Workgroup Call Process “Incredibly Flawed” in letter to County Council

UPDATE: The Board of Education has asked the SRO Workgroup to reconvene given the concerns raised by 6 members of the workgroup. The Workgroup was tasked with seeking out community input and will reissue their recommendations in May. However, they did not address the composition of the workgroup, which is fundamentally flawed and biased towards the SRO program.

In a letter posted to Moco Against Brutality’s Twitter account, 6 members of the MCPS BOE workgroup to study School Resource Officers state that the workgroup was “flawed and oppressive,” stating that:

“Signed onto this letter are 6 members of the MCPS SRO Workgroup. We wish to bring your attention to the flawed and oppressive nature of the Workgroup, which we believe was not effective in its task of crafting representative, informed, and accurate recommendations and findings regarding the School Resource Officer Program. We found that by the design of the Workgroup, its composition was heavily skewed, our perspectives were actively ignored, and the appropriate data was not considered, leading to the failure of the Workgroup to complete its goal outlined in the June 11th memorandum.”

The workgroup members outlined several issues with the Workgroup, including:

  • only 5 members of the 25 were students of color, 20 were adults most of whom were biased favorably towards SRO programs, and of those 20, 7 were law enforcement officers
  • only pro-SRO articles were reviewed, not empirical evidence or studies that were more critical of SRO programs
  • calls for discussions for alternatives to SRO programs were ignored

Previously, Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer introduced legislation that would remove SROs from schools but the other members of the council objected, stating that they would prefer to wait for recommendations from the MCPS Board of Education.

It is incredibly disingenuous of the MCPS BOE to create a Workgroup primarily of individuals that have no stake in the outcomes of the School Resource Officer program, and further outrageous that so many members of law enforcement, who have a vested interest in keeping the SRO program as is. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. MCPS and the Board of Education has failed, again, students of color.

The individuals signed onto the letter are urging the County Council to not use the recommendations presented to them by the MCPS Workgroup.

See the two-page letter below.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Categories
Government Montgomery County

Updates: Montgomery County Restaurant lawsuit against indoor dining ban will be heard Wednesday

The lawsuit against Montgomery County’s most recent indoor dining ban brought by the Restaurant Association of Maryland with several local restaurants signing on as Plaintiffs will be heard on Wednesday.

Despite contact tracing data showing that many cases within Montgomery County have come from indoor dining, as well as additional data and guidance from the CDC and elsewhere, these restaurants argue that there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant indoor dining closure.

The restaurants who have signed on in the lawsuit are:

  • Silver Diner – Multiple locations
  • Outta the Way Cafe in Rockville
  • Gringos & Mariachis – Multiple locations
  • Olazzo – Multiple locations
  • Duck Duck Goose in Rockville
  • Trattoria Sorrento in Takoma Park
  • Social Heights Restaurant, LLC which owns Tommy Joe’s in Bethesda
  • DTI, LLC which includes restaurants like Cava Mezze
  • Medium Rare in Bethesda
  • Il Pizzico in Rockville
  • BTI Hospitality, LLC which includes owns Julii
  • Coty Group, LLC, Quincy Group, LLC, The Rat Pack of MD, LLC, The Rat Pack of MD II, LLC which owns Quincy’s South in Rockville
  • Bassett’s Restaurant in Poolesville
  • Raw Bar LLC in Baltimore
  • The Barking Dog in Bethesda
  • Potomac Pizza in Chevy Chase, Potomac, and Traville
  • Clementine Cafe in Chevy Chase
  • D.G. Holdings which owns Raku in Bethesda
  • Sheger Spring Cafe in Silver Spring
  • Palisades Lounge in Silver Spring
  • Barrell and Crow in Kensington
  • JMGM Group LLC which owns Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg
  • Clare, Inc which owns Lahinch Tavern in Potomac
  • Unique Asset, LLC which owns Persimmon in Bethesda
  • Tally-Ho Restaurant in Potomac

Correction: An earlier report listed RW Restaurants instead of Tommy Joe’s. This article has been corrected.

Categories
Government State

COVID-19 Exposure Notifications are now available in Maryland on iOS and Android devices

COVID-19 Exposure Notifications are now available for Maryland. The notification system is an API developed by Apple and Google in conjunction with health departments to help alert individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. For privacy reasons, these alerts are turned off by default but you can turn them on if you’d like to be notified.

On iOS, go to Settings -> Exposure Notifications

On Android, go to Settings -> Google -> COVID-19 Exposure Notifications

Categories
Education Elections Montgomery County

Lynne Harris wins election to Montgomery County Board of Education At-Large seat

The Montgomery County Board of Education race was one of the most controversial races I’ve ever seen in local politics. Two of the pro-equity candidates moved on from the Primary, Sunil Dasgupta and Lynne Harris. Unofficial vote counts were released by the Montgomery County Board of Elections last night showing that Lynne Harris has won by 23,280 votes.

NameTotal VotesPercent
Sunil Dasgupta127,07545.26%
Lynne Harris150,35553.55%
Write-ins3,3541.19%
Results as of 9:55pm

Congratulations, Lynne!

Categories
Government Montgomery County

What’s wrong with higher taxes?

Adam Pagnucco at The Seventh State recently wrote about Montgomery County’s spending during the pandemic, arguing that the county needs to balance the budget. His alternative was to threaten a tax hike. It seems unlikely the federal government will send more funds to state and local governments under another stimulus program. The situation is a lot more nuanced than that, and direr if the county cuts or stops spending to help residents during a pandemic in which the federal government has been unable and unwilling to offer relief.

Tax rates

First, let’s get taxes out of the way. Montgomery County has one of the lowest real, personal, and utility tax rates in the entire state. Only a handful of counties have lower tax rates than Montgomery County. We happen to live in one of the wealthiest counties in the entire country, with five billionaires that made the Forbes’ 400 richest American’s list in 2019. Five. Billionaires. Let’s put billions into perspective though. It’s a hard number to grasp because it’s so much larger than anything most Americans will have access to. 10,000 seconds is about one-tenth of an entire day. 100,000 seconds is a little over one day. 1,000,000 is about 11 days. 1,000,000,000 seconds is…a little over 31 years.

Let’s also consider that Montgomery County has the most households in Maryland and the highest median household income per capita in Maryland, according to the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.

So Montgomery County has the most households and is one of the wealthiest counties in the entire country (and coincidentally also in Maryland) but also has one of the lowest tax rates in the state.

Residents in crisis

There are around 130,000 rental units in Montgomery County and 15% of them haven’t been able to pay full rent during the pandemic. The Department of Housing and Community Affairs estimates that landlords are losing around $35 million a month in rent. Now, I’m not a huge fan of landlords, but this sounds pretty bad. In fact, a looming eviction crisis would absolutely devastate the economy in Montgomery County. We would lose 22,000 residents and any taxes that they pay. The only good thing that would come of it would be lower rents for those that could afford to stay (maybe). We can also assume that if these folks can’t pay rent, they can’t pay utilities.

In addition to housing, many residents are struggling to buy necessities, including food. We’ve all seen pictures of endless lines of cars while they wait for grocery distribution at one of the distribution points in the county.

Students enrolled at MCPS and their families are having a hard time accessing school-provided lunches. Parents have to go back to work because no one can afford extended shutdowns when the federal government can’t function. Students have to spend time managing the household while their parents are working.

Taxes aren’t the bogeyman

Taxes pay for services that residents use daily. Utilities, roads, first responder services, police, traffic lights, public transportation, schools, libraries, etc. They also are used to pay for emergency services that residents have needed during the pandemic. Without these services, the county would ultimately be in a much worse situation. Imagine having one of the lowest tax rates in the state but not the tax base to maintain it. We are already in a precarious situation, banking on continual population growth to maintain the tax revenue needed to fund county services. What happens if mass evictions take place once the eviction moratorium ends? If residents can’t pay rent, they certainly won’t be able to pay any back rent once the pandemic ends. Where are they going to go? Montgomery County is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire DMV. They won’t stay here. Montgomery County doesn’t have enough housing, let alone affordable housing.

Fewer taxes means more potholes, fewer first responders, fewer new books at libraries, more classrooms being overcrowded, aging infrastructure that can’t be replaced, fewer health and mental health services, slower public transportation. When people talk about “balancing budgets” and threaten tax hikes, they never consider the impact it will have on everyday services for everyday people. During non-pandemic times, we never had enough money or will to fund services that middle and low-income residents needed to stay afloat. Now that we have a pandemic and a looming financial and housing crisis, we need more government spending, not less. This is precisely the time for a tax hike. Don’t be fooled by people who claim austerity is the way to go. We don’t need a balanced budget, we need to help our residents survive a pandemic.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Categories
Elections Government Montgomery County

Germantown, Gaithersburg, Wheaton lead turnout in Early Voting

Germantown, Gaithersburg (Bohrer Park), and Wheaton lead turnout in Early Voting so far. With one day left for in person Early Voting, it looks like there were not enough people willing to vote in person in 2020 to beat 2016 Early Voter Turnout.

Early Voter Turnout by Year

YearTotal
2020122,254
2016160,458

2020 Voter Turnout So Far

Despite some disappointing in person Early Voting numbers for 2020, Montgomery County is currently around 65% Voter Turnout. With Day 8 Early Voting Totals, Election Day Voting Totals, and final Absentee/Mail-in and Provisional Totals we may beat 2016 Voter Turnout.

YearEarly VotingPolling Place (Election Day)Absentee/Mail-inProvisionalTotal
20161609922582995062011280481191
202012225430715511058440467

Between 2016 and 2020 Montgomery County added 16,524 new voters.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Categories
Elections Government Montgomery County

Dismal Voter Turnout on Day 7 of Early Voting

Only 7.969 participated in Early Voting on Day 7. This is far below the voter turnout for Day 7 of the 2016 General Election, which saw 21,937 voters. The Bohrer Park Voting Center in Gaithersburg, MD saw the most in-person voters with a total of 1,161 votes.

Voting Center LocationTotal
Bohrer Park1161
Damascus557
Executive Office Building503
Germantown1068
Lawton657
MidCounty304
Potomac862
Praisner585
Sandy Spring494
Silver Spring Civic Center684
Wheaton1094

If you still haven’t filled out your ballot, check out The 2020 MoCo Local Election Guide.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Categories
Elections Government Montgomery County

Days 5 and 6 of Early Voting in Montgomery County were hit and miss

18,576 voters turned out on Day 5 of Early Voting in Montgomery County, MD which exceeded the Day 5 turnout in 2016. The Germantown Voting Center saw the most activity on Day 5.

Day 6 of Early Voting in Montgomery County was a bit disappointing. Only 8,256 voters turned out to vote. The Bohrer Park Voting Center in Gaithersburg, MD led turnout with 1,277.

Day 5

Voting Center LocationTotal
Bohrer Park2478
Damascus1217
Executive Office Building1307
Germantown2635
Lawton1493
MidCounty802
Potomac2095
Praisner1410
Sandy Spring1277
Silver Spring Civic Center1657
Wheaton2205

Day 6

Voting Center LocationTotal
Bohrer Park1277
Damascus466
Executive Office Building604
Germantown1141
Lawton530
MidCounty390
Potomac825
Praisner675
Sandy Spring479
Silver Spring Civic Center761
Wheaton1108

If you still haven’t filled out your ballot, check out The 2020 MoCo Local Election Guide.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Categories
Elections Government Montgomery County

Day 4 of Early Voting Outpaces 2016

17,698 voters participated in Early Voting in Montgomery County, MD on Day 4. In the 2016 General Election, only 13,831 voters exercised their right to vote on Day 4. The Germantown voting center saw the most voters on Day 4 with a total of 2,374 votes cast.

A total of 87,453 voters have cast their votes in Early Voting so far.

Voting Center LocationTotal
Bohrer Park1996
Damascus1347
Executive Office Building1108
Germantown2374
Lawton1495
MidCounty1142
Potomac2182
Praisner1391
Sandy Spring1329
Silver Spring Civic Center1298
Wheaton2036

If you still haven’t filled out your ballot, check out The 2020 MoCo Local Election Guide.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).