March 16, 2017
- Purple Line Federal Funding Could Be in Jeopardy Under Trump’s Budget Plan
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget could prevent the Purple Line from receiving the $900 million in federal funds that state officials have long planned to spend on the project. Trump’s budget outline released Thursday includes a line that states only transit projects “with existing full funding grant agreements in place” will receive federal funds under the Federal Transit Administration’s “New Starts” program...Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said Thursday a literal reading of Trump’s budget outline would indicate federal funds for the project could be eliminated. “It’s fair to say that they’re certainly at risk at this moment in time,” Berliner said. He added that he’s already reached out to Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s office for support. Berliner noted that Van Hollen’s office has informed him that Congress will likely pass a more bipartisan budget, that's different from what Trump is proposing. Berliner also contacted Gov. Larry Hogan’s office, “to make sure they weigh in and we continue to have a united front fighting for this terribly important project.”
- Berliner on Presdient Trump's Budget Proposal, “It's Not A Good Start" (Video)
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner was asked about President Donald Trump’s newly released budget proposal at a small business networking event at Montgomery Community Media’s studios on Thursday morning. Noting the county’s large federal workforce, Berliner said: “It’s not a good start.”
- Possibility of Passage Dims for State Bill Calling for Pedestrian Traffic Beacons
A state Senate committee voted against a proposal that would have enabled transportation officials to add a new type of pedestrian signals to Maryland’s roads. The 6-5 vote last week could doom the bill, although some advocates still hope a version sponsored by Del. Ben Kramer (D-Wheaton) moving through the House of Delegates could earn support from the State Highway Administration (SHA) and the state Senate before the General Assembly session ends next month. Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, who has promoted the installation of the “HAWK beacons” as a way to make pedestrian crossings safer, said he believes the House bill is a better version that has the potential to pass. He noted the Senate version seemed to have gotten its “wheels wrapped around the axle of another bill.”
- National Institutes of Health Faces a 19 Percent Funding Cut Under Trump’s Proposed Budget
The National Institutes of Health, a federal agency based in Bethesda dedicated to biomedical and health research, would face a 19 percent cut in its funding under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget released Thursday. Trump’s proposal for fiscal 2018 slashes funding for NIH by $5.8 billion, a nearly one-fifth cut that would reduce its total proposed funding to $25.9 billion...Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, who represents Bethesda, expressed concern that an organization with longtime bipartisan support is facing such massive cuts. “How can you find a cure for cancer and cut NIH by that amount?” he said Thursday in an interview with Bethesda Beat.
- Md. lawmakers renew call for fixes at deadly intersection
A group of federal, state and local lawmakers is calling on a Maryland transportation agency to provide more information and make improvements at an intersection in Bethesda where three people were killed last year. In a letter sent to the Maryland State Highway Administration Wednesday, lawmakers said the River Road and Braeburn Parkway intersection remains dangerous. “Despite repeated requests for safety improvements at this intersection from community members and elected representatives at the county, state, and federal levels, little has been done to remedy the problem,” the lawmakers wrote. The intersection is near Walt Whitman High School, and in February, 2016, it was the site of a crash that killed a high school student and his parents. “Many said that they remain fearful of this non-signalized intersection,” wrote the lawmakers. “Some also said that they prohibit their children from using this entrance to the school.” The letter was signed by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, state Sen. Susan Lee and state delegates Ariana Kelly, Bill Frick and Marc Korman.
March 15, 2017
- Van Hollen, Berliner Admonish State for Delays in Improving Safety at Bethesda Intersection
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Council President Roger Berliner and four state lawmakers are pressuring Maryland transportation officials for a status update on safety improvements at the Bethesda intersection where three people died last year. Members of the Walt Whitman High School community have grown frustrated by lack of progress in addressing safety concerns at juncture of River Road and Braeburn Parkway. “Despite repeated requests for safety improvements at this intersection from community members and elected representatives at the county, state, and federal levels, little has been done to remedy the problem,” stated the Tuesday letter that Van Hollen (D-Kensington) and Berliner sent to the Maryland State Highway Administration.
- Town of Poolesville Celebrates 150 Years (Photos)
The Town of Poolesville is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The town was founded in 1867. On Monday night, local officials gathered to talk about some of the upcoming events planned to celebrate the town’s history. “Celebrating our 150 years of rich history is important as we reflect upon our great founders, their goals for our community, and the moments etched throughout our history that has contributed to the fabric of the charming community Poolesville is known for today in Montgomery County, Maryland,” said Jim Brown, president of the Poolesville Town Commission. “Our series of anniversary events will mirror the small town charm of our community and the people who make our town so welcoming for families and businesses to thrive.” Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and County Council members Roger Berliner, George Leventhal, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer helped kick off the anniversary celebration.
March 13, 2017
- Berliner: Trump's Budget Could Hit Montgomery Hard (video)
News reports say the Trump administration is seeking a historic cut in the federal work force, likely to affect Montgomery County, the home of scores of federal workers. “Montgomery County has more federal workers than any jurisdiction in the region, and so if you’re slashing the federal payroll, you are obviously having a significant impact on Montgomery County and Montgomery County’s economy,” County Council President Roger Berliner said Monday. Trump’s announcement comes as County Executive Ike Leggett plans this week to release his fiscal 2018 spending plan, which takes effect July 1. The lost federal jobs could lead to lost revenue for a county that prides itself on the menu of government services it provides its residents. Even so, Berliner said he had not envisioned a program to assist displaced federal workers. “I don’t know there’s anything we can do other than to be more realistic, perhaps, with our own budgeting,” Berliner said. “So it really is—other than feeling heartsick for all of these families—it is trying to understand its implications.”
March 10, 2017
- County Council Members Urge WSSC To Fix Road Patching Issues
Montgomery County Council members told officials from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission on Thursday that residents frequently complain about the utility’s road patches after work is done to repair or replace water and sewer pipes in the county. The complaints continue even after Prince George’s and Montgomery County leaders urged the utility last April to do a better job patching roads...Council President Roger Berliner urged the utility to improve communications and streamline the patching process to increase the quality of the work. “It has been a black mark on this organization that gets in the way of getting support for your budget because this piece drives our residents crazy,” Berliner told WSSC officials at the end of the committee meeting.
March 9, 2017
- County Looks To Begin Designing Bethesda Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel
Montgomery County is moving forward with a plan to build a tunnel extension for the Capital Crescent Trail under Wisconsin Avenue next to the planned route of the Purple Line. Last week, the County Council’s transportation committee approved a $3.8 million budget item to be funded over three years to plan and design the tunnel that would extend from the planned Purple Line station underneath the Apex Building on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda to Elm Street Park in Chevy Chase. The tunnel is needed because the current trail tunnel underneath Wisconsin Avenue isn’t large enough to accommodate the Purple Line and the trail used regularly by pedestrians and cyclists..."This is about the most important piece about this entire conversation with respect to the Purple Line and Apex Building that we can possibly have," County Council President Roger Berliner said. "We need to keep our commitment to our community on this."
- Maryland ranked eighth best state in nation by U.S. News & World
Those who live in Maryland might think of the state as the best in the country, but a new survey ranks Maryland eighth in the nation overall. A new report from U.S. News & World analyzed things like healthcare, government and crime to compile the list. When it came to education and opportunity, Maryland was in the top five because of low poverty rates and high household incomes. State and local leaders were pleased with the ranking."We have a pretty sweet state. It's a pretty sweet state on so many levels, so it doesn't surprise me," said Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner.
March 8, 2017
- In Historically Black Tobytown, a ‘Dilapidated’ Eternal Eesting Place
The patch of ground hardly looks like a graveyard. Only a handful of unmarked stones break through the shroud of weeds, branches and thorn bushes that cover the fenced-off site, a few feet from the traffic on River Road in Potomac, Md. But this is the spot where residents of Tobytown, a small enclave founded by freed slaves and now tucked into one of the nation’s most moneyed Zip codes, were laid to rest starting in the 1870s and continuing, by some accounts, through the 1950s...After watching the video, Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) expressed his unhappiness about the “dilapidated” state of the graveyard. “It was shocking; it was not respectful and not okay,” Berliner said in an interview. He wrote a Feb. 23 letter about the situation to the housing agency’s executive director, Stacy Spann, asking her to “promptly restore the community’s cemetery to a dignified state and develop a plan for its on-going maintenance.”
- United Against Threats in Montgomery County
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett held a press conference Friday to reaffirm the county’s solidarity with the Jewish community in light of recent bomb threats. “This hate has to stop,” Leggett said as he stood before a gathering of Maryland state and county senators, representatives, council members, police, Jewish leaders and rabbis and members of other faith communities in the county. During the conference, Leggett announced that he was sending the County Council a supplemental appropriations recommendation to the Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Budget of $225,000 to fund security improvements at the Bender Jewish Community Center, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Inc. “The Jewish community has already borne heavy costs to protect their facilities, and it is important that the county demonstrate its support with these contributions,” Leggett wrote in a memorandum to Council President Roger Berliner on Monday.
- Leaders Look To Amp Up Jewish Security
After threats to the Jewish community, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is looking to step up security around Jewish centers. The County Executive announced a $225,000 budget appropriation for things like cameras and lights to be added to Jewish centers. Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council introduced the appropriation which will be included in the County Executive's recommended budget. Council President Roger Berliner also asked the County Executive about his plans to help the Muslim community. Leggett said Jewish leaders asked for the help and he would consider giving to other faith groups in the future. "He was certainly looking into that and I would certainly expect him to do so and urge him to do so, so that any faith group that is targeted receives the kinds of protection and support that they should in Montgomery County," said Berliner.
- County Council President Hopes Development Can Begin at White Flint Mall Site
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said he’s “looking forward” to developer Lerner Enterprises and its partner The Tower Cos. moving past an ongoing lawsuit with Lord & Taylor over the White Flint Mall property and on to the redevelopment of the site. Berliner addressed the issue during a press briefing Monday, after Bethesda Beat reported last week the property owners had lost their latest appeal in the Lord & Taylor case when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a previous jury verdict that awarded the retailer $31 million in the breach of contract case. “There’s no question that parcel is an important part of the future of the White Flint community,” Berliner said. “I remain confident that [the developers] will work through this and we’ll have an appropriate development there that expands economic opportunity for our county. When we passed the White Flint Sector Plan, we thought it would generate something in the order of $7 billion in economic benefits—I continue to believe that’s the case.”
March 6, 2017
- Berliner Suggests Building Bethesda Rec Facility at Regional Services Center Site
Downtown Bethesda needs a new recreation center, and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center site is the perfect place for it, County Council President Roger Berliner contends. Berliner says the county isn’t making the most of the property at 4805 Edgemoor Lane; instead of a three-story building at the site, he envisions a 20-story structure with civic and meeting space, basketball courts and possibly even affordable or senior housing. The county is working on a 122,000-square-foot fitness and aquatic center for Silver Spring, but Bethesda’s amenity needs are also pressing, he said. “People in Bethesda are now jealous of Silver Spring,” Berliner said Monday at a press briefing.
- Berliner Talks About America's “Ugly Side” (Video)
With immigrants concerned about their future and Jewish schools the subject of bomb scares, Council President Roger Berliner on Monday blamed President Donald Trump for the “ugly side of America that has been exposed.” “I think many in the community are really wondering as to the president’s mental stability. This is serious. And people are talking about it. And how frightening is it that you have to wonder about whether or not your president is stable emotionally,” Berliner said, at his weekly meeting with reporters in the Council Office Building.
- Leggett Requests $225,000 To Bolster Security at Jewish Facilities in the County
Making good on a promise he made at the Bender Jewish Community Center in Rockville on Friday, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett sent a $225,000 supplemental appropriation request to the County Council on Monday to help the Jewish community beef up security at its facilities in the county...County Council President Roger Berliner told reporters during a press briefing Monday that the Jewish community has asked the county to help finance the security upgrades in the past and that has helped speed up the process for getting them approved this time. He said he also encouraged Leggett to examine the security needs of other religious facilities, especially those serving Muslims. Last week, a Muslim community center and mosque in Silver Spring received letters threatening violence. Berliner said the leaders seek to make sure “any faith group that is targeted receives the kinds of protection and support they should in Montgomery County.”
March 2, 2017
- New DNC chair has ties to Montgomery County
The democratic party has a new leader, and he has ties to Montgomery County. Tom Perez has held many titles, including Secretary of Labor under President Obama and Montgomery County Council member. Perez was on the council from 2002 to 2006. The 55-year-old son of Dominican immigrants is the first Hispanic chairman of the democratic party. He lives in Takoma Park with his wife and three children. Current Montgomery County Council president Roger Berliner says he's pleased with the party's choice. "It was obviously very gratifying to have one of our own become the leader of our party. He's obviously such an accomplished person," said Berliner.
March 1, 2017
- Bagels Not Bombs: Community gathers in support of Jewish school
After a Jewish school in Rockville was targeted with a bomb threat on Monday, about 100 people in the community decided not to remain silent. They gathered Wednesday morning for an event called Bagels Not Bombs in the parking lot of the Randolph Hills Shopping Center. The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School on Monday received one of the numerous bomb threat robocalls made across the country that targeted Jewish centers and schools. No bombs were found...Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, who attended the event, said he met with Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger on Tuesday, who assured him that his police department is investigating the case along with help from the FBI. “My understanding is that this was a robocall that went throughout the country,” Berliner said.
- Push to restore dilapidated cemetery in North Potomac's historic Tobytown
A Montgomery County Council politician says a demonstration during Black History Month opened his eyes to a crumbling historic cemetery. The cemetery is located in Tobytown, a small predominantly African American community located along River Road in North Potomac. Tobytown was established in 1875 by emancipated slaves who mostly worked on farms in the area. The living conditions were severely lacking until the 1970s when the county constructed new residences with electricity and running water...Council President Roger Berliner, whose council district includes Tobytown, took notice, and promptly sent a letter to the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) in Kensington. The sharply written letter called on the HOC, which owns and manages Tobytown, to restore the cemetery to its original luster, plus develop an ongoing maintenance plan.
February 28, 2017
- County Health Department to Assist Families Facing Deportation
The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services will provide support services to families who have a family member facing deportation, according to participants in a closed meeting Tuesday of county officials. Councilmember Nancy Navarro said the HHS presentation contained “well thought-out protocols,” which would include, for example, establishing shelters for children who may be left behind if their parents are captured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. “It’s just a way for us to prepare practically to provide as much stability out there. Telling people to go about their business, continue on even though we can’t guarantee anything, we’re prepared to respond,” Navarro said. The meeting took place inside a Council Office Building conference room. Attendants included County Executive Ike Leggett, Police Chief Tom Manger, School Superintendent Jack Smith, HHS Director Uma Ahluwalia and four councilmembers. In addition to Navarro, also attending were Councilmembers George Leventhal, Marc Elrich and Council President Roger Berliner.
February 27, 2017
- Berliner Asks PSC to Enforce Reliability Requirements in Pepco/Exelon Merger (Video)
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee, is asking the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to enforce the reliability requirements in its order approving the Pepco/Exelon merger. According to Berliner, a key element of the PSC’s approval, back in 2015, “was that Pepco’s reliability performance would significantly improve starting in 2016.” At his weekly briefing with reporters, Berliner announced that he is sending a letter to the PSC today (see video).
- Montgomery Co. official wants Pepco fined after missed goals
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner says Pepco should be fined for failing to reach a standard for reliability in 2016. In a briefing with reporters Monday morning, Berliner said that reducing the number of outages consumers experience by improving the System Average Interruption Frequency Index, or SAIFI, was among the conditions set for Pepco’s merger with Exelon. According to Berliner’s letter, Pepco’s failure to reach the stated goals on reliability meant that customers experienced 20,000 more outages than they would have had the utility reached the goal laid out in documents filed with the Public Service Commission. “The failure of Pepco to achieve this promised level of reliability post-merger reinforces the belief that customers got the short end of the stick in this deal,” Berliner wrote in a letter to the commission’s executive secretary, David Collins, asking the commission to fine Pepco for its failure to reach the reduction in the number of outages.
- Berliner Commits To Passing $15 Minimum Wage Bill
A failed effort to increase Montgomery County’s minimum wage to $15 per hour could gain new life now that County Council President Roger Berliner has declared the council once again will pass legislation on the matter this year. “We needed to do a little more work on it and we are doing a little more work on it,” Berliner told a crowd gathered Sunday night at the Silver Spring Civic Center for political rally with other Democrats. Berliner made the statement after being asked by an audience member about the minimum wage at the rally. At a press briefing Monday morning, Berliner again confirmed that he expected county officials to approve $15 minimum wage legislation by the end of the year, but first wanted to make sure to find a balance for small business owners in the county.
February 26, 2017
- Berliner Asks HOC to Restore Cemetery in Tobytown to a “Dignified State”
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner is asking the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) to restore a cemetery in Tobytown. “In the portion of the video on Tobytown, the dilapidated state of its cemetery was highlighted and the Housing Opportunities Commission was specifically mentioned by a resident,” wrote Berliner, who represents Tobytown as a district council member. In the Black History Month video (at the two minutes and 47 seconds mark below), Tobytown resident Jimmy Wilson states that the cemetery has been there for over 100 years. “You are walking on graves now,” Wilson tells County Cable Montgomery (CCM) producer Susan Kenedy. “They just don’t have any stones.”
February 25, 2017
- As Traffic Deaths Soar, Cities Pursue Lower Speed Limits to Eliminate Fatalities
Jurisdictions across the United States, including those in the Washington region, are embracing lower speed limits as the key to reversing the recent rise in traffic fatalities. Their efforts include lowering default speed limits and those in major corridors, and creating slow-driving zones in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic...A national strategy on highway safety, “Toward Zero Deaths,” was rolled out in 2015. Washington-area jurisdictions have supported a regional campaign that promotes road safety. In some jurisdictions, authorities have gotten creative — for example, sending police officers dressed like homeless people out to catch people texting while driving. “But there is more that we can do,” Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said a year ago when announcing the county’s “zero” pledge. “It is time to stop thinking of these fatalities as accidents. These are crashes that we can and must act to prevent. We must say to us, zero is our goal.”
February 24, 2017
- Amendment Could Help Pedestrian Traffic Signal Bill Move Forward After SHA Balks
The Montgomery County state senator shepherding a bill that would allow a new type of pedestrian traffic signal in the state said he’s submitting an amendment Friday to ensure the proposed legislation conforms to federal law...The proposed amendment comes after Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner sent a letter Wednesday to the state’s transportation secretary that says he doesn’t believe installing the pedestrian signals would risk federal funds. Berliner has been pushing for use of the HAWK signals as a tool to help the county with its Vision Zero policy, which aims to eliminate traffic-related fatalities by redesigning roadways and intersections. Berliner said SHA Administrator Gregory Johnson agreed with county officials in November that the signals could be used. Berliner also pointed out the federal traffic control device manual has a section that states local jurisdictions can use pedestrian hybrid signals to help facilitate pedestrian crossings at locations that don’t warrant a standard traffic signal.
- Metro Board Agrees To Allow Development Next to Grosvenor-Strathmore Station
A new neighborhood could rise over the next decade on the site of a surface parking lot at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station in North Bethesda. On Thursday, Metro’s board of directors authorized the transit system to negotiate a development agreement for its 412-space parking lot with the developer Fivesquares Development of Washington, D.C. The agreement would allow the company to begin the planning and design process for a mixed-use residential project that would include at least 534 residential units...Metro is facing a projected $125 million shortfall in fare and parking revenue as well as declining ridership this year. Given the transit system’s funding issues, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner in December urged Metro leaders to sell valuable land it owns near its stations as a way to provide needed revenue. Thursday’s board decision appears to show Metro is making efforts to find other sources of income, while Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld also pushes for a regional tax to provide the transit system with a dedicated source of revenue.
- Parking lots could become parks in downtown Bethesda
To park or to play — as coins go into meters, drivers in downtown Bethesda are giving their two cents. “You can drive around for more time than you’re going to spend in Bethesda looking for parking,” said Christopher Bolton, who used to work at Benihana’s where customers rely on county-owned parking lots. There’s a push by the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents to turn over four county-owned parking lots and make them green space for parks. “We’re in a bit of a park drought in the downtown area,” said Amanda Farber, with the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents. “It’s important to have a balance of development and green space and park land."
- Momentum grows to turn Bethesda parking into parks
An effort to turn parking lots in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, into community parks is gaining momentum as a coalition pushing for the change has gathered hundreds of signatures with an online petition. As of Thursday, more than 640 people had signed the petition in support of turning four Montgomery County-owned lots off Wisconsin Avenue into new green space. The petition is being circulated by the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents and has the attention of county leaders. At a briefing with reporters last week, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner indicated that he was supportive of the group’s proposal and said the council would be discussing it. “We own these surface parking lots. Do I think they are a prime candidate for parks? I do,” said Berliner. “It is hard to get parks in downtown Bethesda. Where do you have the opportunity?” he asked. “This will be a serious conversation, and I am predisposed.”
- Carderock mentored students qualify in First LEGO League Competition
Students at Burning Tree Elementary School under mentorship from employees at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) earned a second-place finish in the Montgomery County, Maryland, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) LEGO League competition regional qualifier Jan. 10...The students received their inspiration from Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who in 2012 proposed a 5-cent tax on all plastic bags purchased in Montgomery County stores. The students researched the quantity of plastic bags produced each year and the impact on the environment. Then they created bins for the cafeteria to collect unused sandwich bags from their fellow students in hopes of recycling them to create a greenhouse for other students growing produce on school grounds.
February 22, 2017
- Town Hall on Challenging Trump Planned for Sunday (2/26) in Silver Spring
Some of Montgomery County’s top politicians will take part in a town hall meeting Sunday, led by the Takoma Park Mobilization, that will discuss how to challenge President Trump. Rep. Jamie Raskin will speak on “One Nation Under the Constitution: How the People and Congress Can Stop a Lawless President,” according to a flier advertising the event. In addition to Raskin, Sen. Chris Van Hollen is expected to attend along with County Council President Roger Berliner; council members Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer; state lawmakers; and Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland.
February 14, 2017
- Hate Crimes Spiked in Montgomery County in 2016
A dramatically higher number of hate crimes were reported in Montgomery County in 2015 than in 2016. In 2016, 94 bias incidents were reported in the county. This marks a 42 percent increase over the 66 reports in 2015. About 36 percent of the bias incident reports in 2016 were reported in November and December.. County Council President Roger Berliner attributed the spike to President Donald Trump's campaign. "The spike in hate crimes was a direct correlation to the kind of campaign that was run for the president of the United States. It unleashed an energy that is very destructive," he said Tuesday, as county police and officials met to address hate crimes.
- Ensuring Food Security in Montgomery County
Resulting from legislation passed by the Montgomery County Council, the county has launched a plan to address the nearly 78,000 county residents who are unsure where they will get their next meal. Through current programs and the community-grants process, the county funds an array of initiatives to work toward ensuring the most vulnerable has access to safe, sufficient, nutritious food. The challenge of meeting that task is compounded, given the changing demographics of the county and the highly fragmented network of food assistance providers...“Even in a jurisdiction as affluent as Montgomery County, we still have nearly 78,000 individuals who do not know where their next meal is coming from at any given time. We can and must do better by our neighbors. This plan is a roadmap for how we can put the commitment of the public and private sectors into action to ensure that no one goes hungry in our communities,” said Council President Roger Berliner.
February 9, 2017
- Montgomery Co. officials assure support for affected immigrants
As a federal appeals court considers whether to reinstate President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, elected leaders in Montgomery County are warning of harsh consequences from the executive order. They also say growing fear could cause immigrants who have entered the country illegally to stop sending their children to school.“We cannot allow people to be so fearful that they keep their children away from school because they’re afraid their children will be taken,” said Roger Berliner, president of the nine-member, all-Democratic Montgomery County Council. “The president’s executive orders are not OK with us.”
February 8, 2017
- County Council President Roger Berliner Headlines GCAAR Speaker Series (Video)
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner headlined the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) speaker series luncheon on Feb. 8. “They invited me here to share my thoughts on how our county can prosper going forward,” said Berliner. “I hope to assure them that we will, in fact, prosper going forward, and hopefully their business will do well and our county will do well.” GCAAR has about 10,000 members, according to Ed Krauze, vice president of public policy. “The more conversation that is done out in the open, transparently, we think the better the discussion is,” said Krauze. “Let me say this to begin with,” said Berliner to the realtors. “None of us are seeking to raise taxes in this budget year.”
- Berliner Asks Planning Board to Ensure Westbard Action Doesn't Prejudice Cemetery
County Council President Roger Berliner wrote the county Planning Board on Wednesday asking for assurance that any action on a sketch plan for the Westbard redevelopment by Equity One “will not prejudice, pre-judge, or limit [the board’s] range of options” in dealing with an African-American cemetery that supposedly is under a building and parking lot in the neighborhood. In his letter, Berliner said he believed a cemetery delineation has been planned to determine the existence and boundaries of the burial ground. “Ultimately, it is government’s responsibility, not the property owner, to ensure that this work is done, done properly, and done expeditiously. I am advised that if the existence of sacred burial ground is confirmed, any development of that parcel would have to be reconfigured to appropriately honor and respect the site,” Berliner wrote.
- County Leaders Vow To Defend Inclusive Immigration Policy
Montgomery County leaders once again reaffirmed their commitment to an inclusive immigration policy Wednesday and County Executive Ike Leggett said the county would be willing to take the fight to the courts to protect its policy of not asking individuals about their immigration statuses. “I’m not going to be intimidated because there’s a threat about federal funds that has no relationship to what we’re doing here in Montgomery County,” Leggett told a packed room at the Silver Spring Civic Center at an event sponsored by the county.
- Local officials object to bar on minimum wage hikes
Montgomery County and Baltimore City officials expressed outrage in Annapolis yesterday over a bill that would bar local governments from increasing the minimum wage above state levels. Opponents say the move is a crack-down on jurisdictions joining a movement to set the wage floor at $15 per hour, which gathered steam during the presidential bid of Bernie Sanders...“This is an unwarranted and unwise preemption of fundamental local government responsibility,” said Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, who said one set of standards ignores unique circumstances to each jurisdiction “Our county is not the same as Garrett County, and Baltimore City is not the same St. Mary’s County. Local wages and benefits should be responsive to local conditions.”
February 7, 2017
- Berliner Argues for Inserting Development Pause Buttons Into Bethesda Downtown Plan
County Council President Roger Berliner will push to include a development “stop button” in the Bethesda Downtown Plan so that growth doesn’t swamp local schools with students. Focusing growth in Bethesda—near transportation hubs and an urban core—is the right move for the county, Berliner said during a Monday press briefing. But with many of the area’s classrooms already full, welcoming more families to Bethesda will be no easy task, especially if they’re bringing teenage students. “The elementary school situation is basically doable, and the middle school situation is basically doable. The high school situation is going to be tough,” Berliner said. Berliner said he’ll advocate for project staging in the downtown plan, which would tie development to the construction of infrastructure improvements. At the same time, the county needs a cohesive plan for school capacity over the coming decades, he argued.
February 6, 2017
- Montgomery Co. officials concerned immigrants in need ‘going underground’
Community leaders in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are concerned people aren’t getting the message that immigration status should not prevent them from seeking help.“We’re fearful they’re going underground in a way that will cause harm to them,” said Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner. At a recent meeting of county department heads, Berliner said he was informed that some people eligible for federal benefits aren’t taking advantage of them because they fear being targeted for deportation. “Now you’re talking about people going hungry because of fear that has been created by the president of the United States,” Berliner said. He did not share specific numbers of people potentially impacted.
- Metro Urged to Minimize Service, Budget Cuts by MoCo Council
The Montgomery County Council on Monday sent a letter to the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) regarding the transit authority’s consideration of its Fiscal Year 2018 budget. In its letter, the Council stated, “We urge you to do whatever you can—without sacrificing the integrity of the safety and reliability work that you have begun—to minimize both service cuts and fare increases.” Council President Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, and the other eight Councilmembers all signed the letter.
February 2, 2017
- Council members, pension board wrangle over fossil-fuel investments
After 11 drafts and months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, a bill to start divesting Montgomery County’s employee pension funds from fossil-fuel company stocks is nowhere near a final vote...Berliner expressed exasperation that opponents were not reassured by his amendments. He noted that the board has opposed past efforts by the council to regulate certain county investments to advance social or political interests. In 1986, the council enacted a law requiring the board to restrict certain investments in companies doing business in South Africa. The measure was rolled back when apartheid ended. In 2008, the council barred investments in companies doing business in Sudan. “I and some of my colleagues just struggle as to whether this is in fact drawing a line in the sand saying . . . keep your nose out of our business,” Berliner said.
February 1, 2017
- ‘Beyond the Pale’ Montgomery County leaders speak out on immigration ban
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, Jan. 30, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and members of the County Council reassured residents that the county is “committed to building and maintaining a safe and inclusive community.” The statement was in response to the Jan. 27 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States signed by President Donald Trump. The order restricts immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, suspends refugee admission for 120 days and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely. According to the Executive Order published on whitehouse.gov, the purpose of the actions is to “... protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States ….” The actions, according to the order, are to allow officials to review policies granting admission to the United States from citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
January 25, 2017
- New parking permit system irks Bethesda guests
Ellen Rader had gone to visit her 84-year-old aunt in Bethesda. But after delivering a hot meal and spending time with her, Rader came out to her car to find she’d been ticketed. The problem, she said, centered on Montgomery County’s new system of digital permit parking. Residents who want to allow visitors to park on their neighborhood streets now have to go online and provide the license plate number of the visitor’s car in advance. The system used to be paper-based. In Rader’s case, the ticket was thrown out, but Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner’s office has received at least 30 complaints about the new system since August...Nearly all the county’s 50 communities slated to get the digital permitting are in the system now, but Berliner said he wants the problems brought up by complaining residents addressed, or else he’d urge the council to insist on returning to the paper permits.
- Where Will Woodmont Triangle Workers Park?
Marriott International Inc.’s plans to relocate its headquarters to Wisconsin and Norfolk avenues in downtown Bethesda in 2022 includes taking over the Woodmont Corner parking garage between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. If that happens, the result will be that the neighborhood will lose about 1,100 public parking spaces. Without access to the garage, where do Montgomery County officials expect people who now use it regularly to park? “Their hope of course is to have people park in other parking lots where there is capacity, and use shuttle buses and the [Bethesda] Circulator to deliver them” to their jobs, County Council President Roger Berliner said Monday. The solution might also “involve constructing more parking,” he said.
January 24, 2017
- Residents Object to County’s Electronic Permit Parking System
Montgomery County’s electronic residential parking permit process, in place for about 18 months, has sparked complaints from residents who say they are unable to receive visitors or even help homebound family members. “To go online and get what you need in this process has just become a nightmare for people,” County Council President Roger Berliner said in a meeting with reporters Monday. If the county’s Department of Transportation can’t come up with remedies, Berliner said the council could insist the department return to using its former paper-based system.
- Incoming DLC Director Says Customer Service Will Be His Priority
The former restaurant executive tapped to lead Montgomery County’s embattled Department of Liquor Control said Tuesday he wants to understand the department’s problems and make sure the public knows he’s working to fix them. Robert Dorfman, who was appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett as the department’s director last month, assured County Council members during a meeting Tuesday in Rockville that he would address customer service issues, delivery problems and the overstocking of certain “special order” products...Despite his reservations about the department, Berliner said he supports Dorfman. “I don’t want him to fail, I want him to succeed, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to convince me that this model, that’s unique in the nation, is really something that serves our consumers well,” Berliner said.
- Council President Berliner on Marriott and Future Parking Issue
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said he is pleased with Marriott’s decision to locate its new corporate headquarters and flagship hotel on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda near Veterans Park. “You’ve got 3,000 more customers coming in everyday for all those restaurants,” said Berliner. “This is going to be huge, huge deal for that part of Bethesda.” During a news briefing on Monday, Berliner was asked where people who work in that area today will park. “That’s an issue,” said Berliner. In this MyMCMedia Extra video, below, Berliner shares his thoughts on the development deal and explains how the parking issue at Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue may be resolved.
January 20, 2017
- Berliner Asks Leggett for Recommendation on Telecommunications Facilities
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner has written a letter to County Executive Ike Leggett about telecommunications facilities. The letter follows a public notice by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for comments about small cell antennas. Comments are due by Feb. 6. “We believe the county would be best served by a joint letter to the FCC indicating the county’s interest in retaining its authority over new telecommunications facilities,” writes Berliner. “We could agree to hire outside council to join with other jurisdictions, if you believe it is in the county’s interest to do so. The Council looks forward to seeing your draft comments to the FCC that I can sign with you.”
- Bethesda Restaurateurs See Benefit from New Site of Marriott Headquarters
Among the people happy about Marriott International’s Friday announcement that it will build its new headquarters in Woodmont Triangle are the owners and managers of nearby Bethesda restaurants. “We can only gain foot traffic,” said Gene Wilkes, who owns the Tastee Diner on Woodmont Avenue, around the corner from the headquarters site...Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said there could be parking concerns, such as those raised by Patel, from the weekday loss of the public garage. As chair of the council's transportation committee he said he’ll work to make sure other parking is available by the time Marriott’s employees start using the garage in 2022. “Bethesda will be better by virtue of having Marriott in our downtown core,” said Berliner, whose district includes Bethesda.
January 17, 2017
- During MLK Tribute, County Council Member Urges Onlookers To March
Montgomery County’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday doubled as a call to action to those gathered at The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have some marching to do together,” County Council member Roger Berliner told the crowd of roughly 900 who had gathered for the celebration. The annual event drew together dignitaries, artists and schoolchildren who read their award-winning essays about King’s legacy. It was billed as a celebration, but took place against a backdrop of the divisiveness that pervaded last year’s election and the lead-up to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.
December 22, 2016
- Berliner Urges Metro To Sell Land It Owns
County Council President Roger Berliner on Thursday urged the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to sell the land it owns and to use the money to improve the beleaguered system Metro system. In a letter to Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, Berliner said WMATA controls what may be the most valuable properties in the county, the sites of the Bethesda and White Flint Metro stations. “Both properties could be sold, rather than leased, for substantial funds,” Berliner wrote.
December 21, 2016
- Berliner Wants County To Post Order that Streets Will Be Cleared of Snow
County Council President Roger Berliner has asked the county’s Department of Transportation to publicly announce the order in which streets will be plowed after snow falls this winter. “I understand there are rational reasons as to why the snow plowing order is the way it is,” Berliner wrote in a letter to Transportation Director Al Roshdieh. “I understand that primary and emergency roads must come first and that the order for clearing remaining streets can change slightly based on the characteristics of individual snow events. But we have an obligation to let people know in advance what the reality is, especially if the Department believes its current system is the most safe and efficient.”
December 15, 2016
- County Council President Roger Berliner Responds to Road Kill Bill
On Wednesday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced at a news conference that the administration’s top legislative priority for the 2017 session of the Maryland General Assembly will be the immediate and full repeal of House Bill 1013, more commonly known as the Road Kill Bill...At the 2016 Annual Legislative Breakfast, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner says Governor Hogan should offer real solutions such as fixing I-270 versus repealing a bill. “If you’re going to have a top priority, the governor’s top priority in my opinion should be fix I-270, fix the American Legion Memorial Bridge, jump in on metro and help us fix that,” said Berliner. “That would be worth a press conference. The notion of re-litigating an issue that he lost overwhelmingly last time just seems to not be constructive.”
December 14, 2016
- Greater Washington Partnership to Spur Regional Economic Growth
A group of leading CEOs and entrepreneurs today announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration for the Greater Washington region—from Baltimore to Richmond—to address the critical economic issues facing the region and ensure it remains one of the world’s best places to live, work and build a business. The new Greater Washington Partnership (Partnership) will advance inclusive, actionable solutions that strengthen the regional economy and position Greater Washington as a leading global region and center for commerce and innovation...“We need top business leaders to think – and act! – for the good of the region. To meet the challenges of the next decade, both elected officials and business leaders need to put aside our entrenched competitive instincts and collaborate for the common good. I look forward to working with this influential group!” said Roger Berliner, Montgomery County Council President and Chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
December 13, 2016
- Montgomery Council Approves Bridges To The Future Project Grant
The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved a $999,828 grant that will enable the “Bridges to the Future Systems of Care Expansion” project to better meet the needs of “disconnected” transition age youth age. On Dec. 12, the Council’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee recommended that the full Council approve the grant. The source of the funds is a federal grant. The County was well positioned for the grant opportunity because of the Council’s initiative to create a mobile crisis team for children and adolescents...The HHS Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Craig Rice, enthusiastically recommended approval of the program.
December 12, 2016
- Metro train separates while carrying passengers
A Red Line train heading for Shady Grove separated at the Twinbrook Station on Monday morning. Metro said that the first two cars detached from the remainder of the train at the Twinbrook Station just before 9 a.m. The train’s safety systems kicked in and stopped the cars. No one was hurt, Metro said...Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner said Monday after the incident that overcoming Metro’s problems is critical to the county’s future. “From my perspective, we have to stop wringing our hands,” said Berliner, referring to incidents involving both safety and reliability. “We will see these kinds of situations–to me the question is: what’s the response to it?” Berliner, who represents District 1 — which includes parts of Poolesville, Potomac, Bethesda, and Chevy Chase, said General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s responses have been swift, but not always popular. “He has put safety and reliability first.” Berliner said. “I have to tell you, I cannot imagine having a better general manager.”
December 9, 2016
- Berliner Proposes Microloan Program for Entrepreneurs
County Council President Roger Berliner and two council members proposed legislation Thursday that would create a microloan program to help entrepreneurs who lack access to other sources of capital. “That to me captures what I’m trying to do for the immigrant community and others who are frozen out of capital credit and support small businesses,” Berliner said. The legislation also represents one of the four pillars that would mark Berliner’s yearlong stint leading the council: expanding the “ladder of opportunity.”
December 8, 2016
- Council President Roger Berliner on Raising the Minimum Wage to $15 by 2020 (Video)
The Montgomery County Council is considering a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by July 1, 2020. Councilmember Marc Elrich is the lead sponsor of the bill and Councilmembers George Leventhal, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer are co-sponsors. Earlier in the week, County Councilmember Nancy Floreen asked the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) to study the impact of raising the minimum wage on local businesses. Shortly after he was elected president of the County Council, Roger Berliner told MyMCMedia that he was hearing from people on both sides of this national issue.
December 6, 2016
- Berliner Takes Reins of County Council
Roger Berliner was elected president of the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, and the results of the November election were still on his mind. “For one consequence of the presidential election, our work at the local level becomes even more important if the values that have defined our community are to be realized,” Berliner told his colleagues after the unanimous vote. He said how council members do their work matters more now. “In a time of great anger, our response must be we must double down on respectful discourse, on listening even more carefully to what our residents are saying to us, on honoring the legitimate need of all our residents—and in finding common ground,” Berliner said.
- Berliner, Riemer elected to lead Montgomery County Council
Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen's year has come to an end, and, on Tuesday, council members elected its new leaders. The council unanimously elected Roger Berliner to be its new president. Berliner was the president five years ago, and he is serving his 11th year on the council. In addition, Hans Riemer was chosen as the council's new vice president.
- Berliner Elected County Council President, Riemer is VP
Montgomery County Council members unanimously elected Roger Berliner as president of the Council on Tuesday morning. Council member Hans Riemer was elected as vice-president of the Council. During his remarks at the dais, Berliner thanked his colleagues for their support and said he looks forward to working with each of them in the year ahead. “Fortunately, we do not need to make Montgomery County great again,” said Berliner. “My priorities for the year ahead to help us fulfill our county’s extraordinary promise, include: getting the basics right; serving as a model inclusive community; expanding the ladder of opportunity, and creating vibrant communities.”
November 30, 2016
- Montgomery Co. businesses that delay snow removal could see fine increase
The Montgomery County Council is considering a bill that would significantly boost the fine for businesses who fail to clear their walkways when the snow starts to stick. Under the bill sponsored by council member Hans Riemer, the current $50 fine could increase to $500 for commercial properties where snow isn’t cleared from sidewalks 24 hours after the snow has fallen. The bill is co-sponsored by council member Roger Berliner, and it was the topic of a council hearing Tuesday. Two speakers at the hearing — Darrel Drobnich, with the county’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Commit
November 23, 2016
- Berliner Sees Light at the End of Purple Line Lawsuit Tunnel
Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner is hopeful that a judge’s ruling Tuesday in an ongoing Purple Line lawsuit offers a way for the light-rail project to move forward...Berliner, a former regulatory attorney who also serves as the chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and supports the Purple Line, said Leon’s order should enable the Federal Transit Administration to quickly analyze the issue and satisfy Leon’s request. He noted that Leon based his ruling on a finding that the FTA and state were “arbitrary and capricious” in not studying Metro’s issues, which mostly cropped up after the federal government approved the Purple Line’s Record of Decision in March 2014. Leon noted that about 27 percent of trips on the Purple Line would include transfers from Metro stations that are connected along the route between Bethesda and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.
November 15, 2016
- Pepco Approved for Partial Rate Increase
Residents can expect their next electric bill to be slightly higher. The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday agreed to grant Pepco a $52.5 million rate increase that is expected to raise the average residential monthly bill by $6.96...On Tuesday afternoon, Berliner, a former energy attorney, said the partial rate increase shows that Pepco always asks for more money than it is entitled to. “On a fundamental basis, what this rate increase underscores is that it is time [to] change how Pepco is compensated,” Berliner said. “It makes no sense to compensate a utility on what it invested. [The utility] should be compensated on how well they serve the community and by that measure, they’re clearly overcompensated.”
November 10, 2016
- Montgomery Co. plan to patch up ‘worst roads in the county’ moves ahead
A Montgomery County council committee has approved an $8 million supplemental budget to pay for resurfacing of roads in eight communities. The Transportation, Infrastructure, and Environment Committee voted 3-0 to add the money to patch, mill and pave roughly 21 miles of roads in neighborhoods in areas of Silver Spring, Chevy Chase, Gaithersburg and Potomac. County documents refer to 42 “lane miles” as slated for work. Most of the roads identified for resurfacing are two-lane roads. Roger Berliner, who heads the committee, said the communities chosen to get the resurfaced roads were selected based on need. “This is not a subjective analysis,” he said, referring to the team from the Department of Transportation that identified the neighborhoods slated for work. “They go out and look at the roads and determine ‘Where are the worst roads in our county?’ and then that’s the priority.”
- Council Committee Seeks To Expand Road Resurfacing
A Montgomery County Council committee recommended Thursday spending an extra $8 million for road resurfacing, bringing total spending to $17.4 million, which is well under the the $34.4 million recommended to keep pace with need, officials said. The money would pay for the road resurfacing of 10.8 miles in the Heritage Farm neighborhood in Potomac and 9.39 miles in the Kenwood neighborhood in Bethesda, among other areas, according to council documents. “Our residents judge us on how well we take care of basic government services, and road resurfacing is at the top of the list,” said council member Roger Berliner, who chairs the council’s transportation committee.
November 7, 2016
- No federal takeover of Metro
We deeply regret the chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors appearing to hoist the white flag by calling for a federal takeover of Metro [“Evans: Let Congress take reins of Metro,” Metro, Nov. 3]. We remain committed to doing the hard work required to fix what ails this system. Suggesting a federal takeover represents an abdication of our region’s responsibility and is unrealistic. Our region is working hard to secure dedicated funding for Metro and to establish a new tri-jurisdiction safety oversight authority. We also believe that our federal partners can assist us in addressing the governance issues that have undermined WMATA’s capacity to put the system’s needs above parochial concerns. Bottom line: If all stakeholders step up, we can do what must be done to ensure Metro meets our region’s needs. - Roger Berliner, North Bethesda
- Montgomery State Senator To Introduce Legislation to Permit HAWK Pedestrian Signals in MD
State Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring) has drafted legislation for the 2017 General Assembly that would allow pedestrian-activated HAWK signals to be used on state roads in Maryland...County Council member Roger Berliner last week sent state lawmakers a letter urging them to change the state’s road regulations to allow the pedestrian signals. Manno drafted his bill about a month before Berliner’s letter was sent. Manno said he took on the issue in response to recent deadly collisions in the county—particularly at Veirs Mill Road and Turkey Branch Parkway in Aspen Hill where two cyclists have been killed in vehicle collisions in the past year.
November 2, 2016
- Berliner Asks State Lawmakers To Allow HAWK Crosswalk Signals on State Roads
Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner is asking state lawmakers to pursue a change in Maryland’s road regulations to allow the installation of pedestrian-activated HAWK signals at popular crosswalks. In a letter sent to the county’s state legislative delegation Wednesday, Berliner wrote that the signals have the potential to significantly reduce pedestrian and vehicle collisions at heavily-used crosswalks that don’t have a standard traffic signal. He notes that a July 2010 study by the Federal Highway Administration found that HAWK (High Intensity Activated Crosswalk) signals reduced vehicle and pedestrian collisions by 69 percent.
November 1, 2016
- Council Approves Expansion of Sick and Safe Leave for County Employees
The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a bill that will expand the provisions of the County’s paid leave for certain parental reasons, today. According to a news release, Bill 32-16 will allow the use of paid leave for birth of a child or for the placement of a child with the employee adoption or foster care. The bill will also permit the use of leave to care for a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed child within one year of birth, adoption, or placement. Councilmember Tom Hucker was the lead sponsor of Bill 32-16. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Sidney Katz and Nancy Navarro were co-sponsors.
October 28, 2016
- Local leaders say agreement on dedicated Metro funding possible
After years of talking about how localities need to come up with dedicated funding sources for cash-strapped Metro, leaders may be getting closer to taking action. “We are now at a place of no return,” said Roger Berliner, chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. “I think we are at a critical pivot point. Our region recognizes we can’t keep doing the same ole, same ole. We need to infuse this system with additional revenue.” Berliner’s comments came after a COG Board of Directors meeting this week in which board members received a Metro progress report from its CEO and briefings from COG analysts on Metrorail safety, reliability, state-of-repair needs and revenue.
October 26, 2016
- Local leader dismisses Metro fare increase possibility
What’s expected to be Metro’s most disruptive “SafeTrack” work will be well underway next week when riders learn whether fare hikes could be coming. Metro’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 is expected to be released next week on Thursday. “Fare increases: We haven’t had one in three years; the policy of the board is that would [happen] every two years,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Wednesday...After the briefing, COG’s board chair was skeptical. “This is not the way to move forward,” said Roger Berliner, who is also vice president of the Montgomery County council. “We literally are at the top of every subway system in the country in terms of fare box recovery,” Berliner said. “Particularly when you are struggling with your service — to have fare increases, it seems to me, strikes a very discordant note.”
October 23, 2016
- Montgomery County in the vanguard on climate
Kudos to Montgomery County Council members Roger Berliner and Nancy Navarro for introducing legislation that would divest the over $65 million the county’s pension fund currently has invested in fossil-fuel companies [“Montgomery to weigh shedding $65 million in fossil-fuel stock,” Metro, Oct. 13]...Divestment sends a message that this is unacceptable. Some say divestment is just symbolic, but symbols can be powerful. They can “change the conversation,” and they can change reputations. I am proud my county is taking steps to be in the vanguard of the divestment movement.
October 18, 2016
- Marriott to move headquarters to downtown Bethesda with $62 million in incentives
Marriott International announced plans to move its headquarters to downtown Bethesda Tuesday, opting to remain in Montgomery County after getting a commitment for up to $62 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies. For Marriott, now the largest hotel company in the world, the deal marks the second publicly funded incentive package the $17.3 billion firm has received from the state and county in less than 20 years, likely reigniting a debate over how far elected leaders ought to go to chase corporate employers...Leggett said that after meeting with county council members Tuesday he was confident they would back his plan. Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) said he was glad the county “played to win.” “They are going to have built a 700,000-square-foot building, which means 3,000 construction jobs. They are going to make Bethesda one of the leading commercial centers in the entire region. And we get a return on our investment,” Berliner said.
- Local Officials Urge FAA Not To Move Forward With Flight Path Changes
Local elected officials are asking the Federal Aviation Administration not to move forward with a planned flight plan change that would likely result in more airplane noise over Montgomery County communities that have already been impacted by other airplane route changes...Rep. Chris Van Hollen, County Executive Ike Leggett and County Council members Nancy Floreen and Roger Berliner sent FAA administrator Michael Huerta a letter Oct. 14 detailing their concerns with the flight plan shift. “It is clear to us that LAZIR-B will exacerbate aircraft noise over thousands of Montgomery County homes already negatively impacted by NextGen,” the letter says. The officials also noted in the letter that NextGen, the new procedure initiated in December that positions planes in a narrow flight path over the county, has created “intolerable” aircraft noise.
October 13, 2016
- Rockville ponders BRT on Veirs Mill Road
City Council members voiced support for adding Bus Rapid Transit to Veirs Mill Road Monday but they couldn't decide whether to formally endorse any particular alternative or a broader set of options...Montgomery County transportation officials are set to offer their next presentation about BRT along Veirs Mill Road Dec. 1 to the County Council Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Environment. Committee members include committee chairman Roger Berliner (D-1), Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At large) and Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-5).
- White Flint Western Workaround Scheduled To Start Construction Next Month
Montgomery County plans to start construction next month on a long-awaited project to realign roads near the White Flint Metro station to create a more defined street grid that could allow new developments to move forward in the area...County Council member Roger Berliner, who chairs the committee, said the swap would provide VOB with properties that could be more valuable for future development. The Western Workaround was first detailed as part of the White Flint Sector Plan that was approved in 2010. “This piece is so important to get done,” Berliner said. “We’ve been waiting on this piece for a long time.”
October 11, 2016
- Berliner, Navarro Call for County To Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies
Montgomery County Council members Roger Berliner and Nancy Navarro are calling on the county Board of Investment Trustees to sell stock it holds in 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Berliner said Tuesday residents have approached the council for years on the issue, but no action was taken over concerns that it would harm retirement funds. Now, other companies’ stocks are performing much better than oil and gas companies, he said. “We can get out of these stocks without harming the retirees and do well by the planet. That’s a pretty good combination,” Berliner said.
October 5, 2016
- Montgomery Co. residents raise complaints over airplane noise
Montgomery County residents are joining their neighbors in complaining about what they say is a dramatic increase in aircraft noise over their communities. At a work session held by the Montgomery County council committee on transportation, council member Roger Berliner read from a prepared statement and said, “Instead of an irritation that was widely dispersed throughout the region”, air traffic in the area “has become a concentrated, amplified and unending disturbance for many of our residents.” Berliner chalked the change up to new developments in technology that have created more concentrated flight paths along the Potomac River. Berliner said NextGen, part of the move from radar to satellite guidance for aircraft, also is partly responsible for the change. Berliner read aloud a letter from a recent arrival in the Brookmont area of Bethesda who decided to rent, rather than buy, a home due to what they described as “incessant and overwhelming airplane noise.”
- Montgomery Officials Say Airplane Noise Working Group Is Stacked Against Local Neighborhoods
A working group convened by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take public input about flight path changes that have resulted in noise complaints north of Reagan National Airport was stacked against Montgomery County neighborhoods, according to county officials. County Council members discussed the issue during a transportation committee meeting Wednesday afternoon that the FAA did not attend...Berliner, who represents the Bethesda area on the council, encouraged Mould to press for consensus around a plan that could spread the flow of air traffic throughout the region rather than keep it concentrated over the Bethesda area.
October 4, 2016
- Berliner proposes ‘resource officer’ to help Montgomery residents in zoning process
Land-use issues have become so complicated in Montgomery County that residents need someone whose sole task is to walk them through the procedural maze that leads to final decisions, a County Council member said Tuesday, as he proposed legislation to create the job. “Few issues are as daunting as land-use issues. . . . Few issues are more important for people to understand,” said Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) who introduced the bill calling for a “Community Zoning and Land Use Resource Officer.”
- Berliner Seeks Zoning ‘Resource Officer’ To Explain Process
County Council member Roger Berliner has proposed replacing the county’s people’s counsel with a “community zoning and land use resource officer” who would provide an independent source of information on the county’s land-use rules.Berliner introduced legislation that would enact the change Tuesday. “There are too many important master plans, too many important zoning decisions, we really need to do our best to make sure that people are informed,” Berliner said.
- A Maryland County Tries to Tame a Stretch of Suburban Sprawl
Congested and derided, the Rockville Pike thoroughfare, which connects Bethesda and Rockville, troubled local residents, officials and developers for years. “I’ve lived in this area most of my life, and people would ask where I was from,” said Amy Ginsburg, executive director of Friends of White Flint. “I wasn’t really from Rockville, and I wasn’t really from Bethesda. There was no sense of place, just shopping centers and horrible traffic up and down the pike.”...“It’s all right here, and every demographic wants it,” said Mr. Berliner, motioning to the urbanlike surroundings during a lunch at the California-themed Summer House Santa Monica in Pike & Rose. “So if we can enhance the quality of life and create a $7 billion benefit, the White Flint plan will be a big success story for our county.”
September 26, 2016
- Public Hearings Scheduled This Week for Lyttonsville Sector Plan
Residents will get an opportunity Tuesday night to air their thoughts before the Montgomery County Council on the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan, a land-use guide for the historic community about 3 miles east of Bethesda. A public hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the third-floor hearing room at the Council Office Building in Rockville. A second hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the same location...“The issue before the council is how does one reconcile the unique character of this historic community with smart-growth principles, and we’re just going to have to work our way through that,” council member Roger Berliner said. A portion of Lyttonsville is in his district.
September 24, 2016
- More inspections planned after 911 failure
Sprint Wireless leaders said they will put new measures in place to prevent another outage that prevented customers last month from dialing 911 on their mobile phones...Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who chairs the Council of Governments, said Sprint officials should have inspected the generators and reserve power supply devices more frequently. “Your backups have to be on par with your main generators; they can’t just be ignored,” Berliner said. “In this instance they really didn’t do their due diligence to ensure that the backup was always in (working condition).”
September 21, 2016
- Montgomery County Council to Host Town Hall Meeting for Students
The Montgomery County Council, which for the past several years has held Town Hall Meetings throughout the County in its efforts to find out what issues most concern residents, will learn what is on the minds of younger residents when it hosts its sixth annual Town Hall Meeting for Students on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Council Office Building in Rockville. The meeting, in the Council’s Third Floor Hearing Room, will start at 7:30 p.m...“So many major decisions concerning education—and students—are made by adults talking with other adults,” said Council Vice President Berliner. “But the students often have so much to offer that adults do not necessarily see. We are looking forward to learning about how they see the issues we are discussing and to hearing from them about new things they would like to see us consider.
September 20, 2016
- Exelon-owned power companies seek to raise electric bills
In less than a year, three Exelon-owned power companies have filed petitions with the Public Service Commission of Maryland to raise the price of electric bills...However, many, including Montgomery County councilmember Roger Berliner, said they believe these rate adjustments are unwarranted and will disproportionately affect lower-income residents already struggling to pay bills. “There are so many people who are struggling and live on a fixed income,” said Berliner, who also spoke at a public hearing on the rate increase on Sept. 6. “Pepco has a history of asking for more than what is justified.”
September 16, 2016
- Airplane Noise Frustration Continues in Bethesda With No Solution in Sight
Bethesda and Potomac residents came out in force to a community meeting Thursday night in Bethesda to try to determine what can be done to reduce the significant airplane noise they’ve been experiencing since December. While FAA officials explained to the more than 60 people that streamed in and out of the room why there are more planes passing over their neighborhoods, a resolution to the noise problem was not discussed at the informal meeting at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center...“The noise impact from the constant stream of aircraft over these neighborhoods is intolerable,” the elected officials said in a joint statement with County Council member Roger Berliner. “FAA should not be looking at tweaks to a failed system. Instead, they need to employ their expertise to establish procedures that reverse the current detrimental impacts to county residents.”
September 14, 2016
- Berliner 'skeptical' about Hogan's plan for tackling traffic woes
Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) said he is not sure Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) call for adding $229 million for transportation infrastructure improvements will significantly alleviate traffic congestion in the area.“I think many of us are skeptical that you can get a lot of change for $100 million,” said Berliner, a third-term council member who chairs the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “The proof will be in the pudding, it’s an innovative approach.” Earlier this summer, Hogan announced a plan for the state government to spend $129 million for constructing an interchange at Interstate 270 and Watkins Mill Road and another $100 million to alleviate traffic in the County.
September 8, 2016
- Berliner decries 'offensive' proposed rate increase by power company
Local elected officials spoke out against a proposed rate hike by Pepco Tuesday during a Maryland Public Service Commission public hearing, saying a nearly increase would burden residents. “This rate request is particularly offensive to ratepayers given the highly-touted $50 rate credit given to customers as a result of the Pepco and Exelon merger,” said Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who has repeatedly criticized Pepco’s management during his time on council. “That paltry sum would be erased in a mere three-and-a-half-months if this proposed rate increase is adopted.”
September 7, 2016
- Md. state regulators listen to public on Pepco rate increase
A proposed Pepco rate hike would cost the average residential customer in Maryland a little more than $13 a month, and state regulators heard testimony about it Tuesday night at the first of two public hearings this week...Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner said he started a petition drive in April called “Fight the Hike,” which has been signed by more than 2,000 people. “This rate increase is particularly offensive to ratepayers given the highly touted $50 rate credit given to customers as a result of the [Exelon] merger. That paltry sum would be erased in a mere three and a half months if the proposed rate increase is adopted,” he said.
August 30, 2016
- Montgomery County Extends Free Ride On Program
Ride On’s free fare program for seniors and persons with disabilities will be expanded to include Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning September 3, 2016. Currently, those with a valid ID can ride free on weekdays during the same hours. Fares are half-price at all other times...“I was pleased during our budget deliberations earlier this year to lead the effort to add funding for free Saturday Ride On service for people with disabilities and seniors,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner. “Seniors are our fastest growing demographic and free Saturday service is one way to enhance their connection to the community.”
August 24, 2016
- Berliner Speaks Out Against Term Limits at Charter Review Commission
Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner testified against term limits at today’s Charter Review Commission meeting, and afterwards he posted a copy of his statement online. According to Berliner’s statement, all nine members of the Council agree that “term limits would not be in the best interest of our county.” He said he’s “not aware of any credible analysis that shows that the quality of decision making has been enhanced by virtue of term limits.” Instead, he believes, “the benefits of term limits are illusory but the costs are real and harmful to good government.”
- Montgomery term-limits opponent, elections board clash over fees
County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda) speaking for the council, told the commission that term limits were appealing but ultimately of little value. “It combines the surface appeal of ‘good government’ with the increasing dissatisfaction with government,” said Berliner, one of five council members who would be barred from running for reelection in 2018 if the measure was approved by voters. Berliner said there was “no credible evidence” that the quality of government has improved in states or localities that have adopted term limits.
August 17, 2016
- Sprint Restores 911 Service Wednesday Morning
A Sprint cellular service outage that struck the Washington, DC, area including Montgomery County, has been fixed, restoring callers' access to 911 service, according to an alert sent by the company...Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner told the Montgomery County Sentinel that "... clearly, we’re going to need to call [Sprint] in so we can have an understanding as to what happened and why and it’s just… what can you say? As one of my colleagues said, this is people’s worst nightmare.”
August 9, 2016
- Council gives funds for mental health court
The Montgomery County Council voted Tuesday to set aside $193,561 to help fund a new court that would serve as an alternative court for those suffering from mental illnesses. The council is providing $163,609 to hire two therapists for the Department Health and Human Services (HHS) and $29,952 to cover operating expenses at the circuit court. The Office of Problem Solving Courts will provide $97,000 to help cover costs at the district court in the County...“It’s sort of painful to hear that we were not ready before,” said Council member Roger Berliner (D-1). “I guess it’s a happy day that we are ready now to do something that absolutely must be done.
August 3, 2016
- Plaintiffs Celebrate Purple Line Decision While Transit Advocates Condemn It
Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn says the state will appeal the ruling made Wednesday by a federal judge that vacates federal approval of the Purple Line light-rail project and requires the state to conduct another ridership study. “We are deeply disappointed that this puts the Purple Line in jeopardy,” Rahn said in a statement. “We will work closely with the Attorney General to seek a quick decision from the court of appeals.”..County Council member Roger Berliner wrote on Facebook that he “could not disagree more with the federal judge who has postponed, if not jeopardized, the construction of the Purple Line.” “This is a terrible decision,” Berliner wrote. “Let us hope it does not have terrible consequences.”
August 1, 2016
- Metro considers permanent midnight closures
Metro’s general manager said he wants stations to close at midnight Mondays through Saturdays to allow more time for maintenance work. Paul Wiedefeld’s proposal would also shut down Metro stations on Sundays at 10 p.m...Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) said he is concerned about how some residents who work late hours will travel home from their jobs. He added the Board and County Council should consider economic impact of the change. “I think the biggest concern is for the workers who in fact are in restaurants and in bars doing hard work and depend on Metro to get home,” Berliner said. “That’s an issue that we really need to look at, and we need to understand the economic consequences...Know this: the economic consequences of this system not operating in a state of good repair far exceeds what this will cost in the short term, assuming we get to a state of good repair,” Berliner said.
July 30, 2016
- At last, SafeTrack disruptions are about to roll onto the Red Line
This will be the biggest one to date. Metro’s sixth maintenance surge — the first to affect the system’s most heavily traveled corridor — is scheduled to begin Monday on the Red Line, with round-the-clock single-tracking on the east end between the Takoma and Silver Spring stations...“This is not going to be pretty,” Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner said, “but it is oh-so-necessary.”
- Northern Virginia lays miles of pavement to ease traffic, while Md. suburbs dither
The gap between how Virginia and Maryland try to relieve some of the nation’s worst highway congestion keeps expanding. And far more Marylanders in our region are taking notice. Northern Virginia is laying pavement. It has built 87 miles of tolled express lanes since 2012 to carry cars and trucks on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95. It is planning another 114 miles of lanes, mostly for I-66...Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) said it was “disingenuous” of Rahn to blame local officials for a failure to move ahead on major highway projects. He noted that the council had voted unanimously as far back as 2009 to support adding tolled express lanes on I-270...“Both the American Legion Bridge and I-270 have been sort of a stepchild,” Berliner said. The burst of road-building in Virginia “drives people in Montgomery County crazy,” he added. “People say, ‘It happened there. Why can’t it happen here?’ ”
July 29, 2016
- Federal Government To Pitch in $10 Million for Route 29 Bus Rapid Transit
County transportation officials are marking $10 million in federal funding promised this week as a victory for bus rapid transit in Silver Spring. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Montgomery County the money through one of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for the 14-mile bus rapid transit network planned for Route 29...County Council member Roger Berliner said in a press release Thursday he hopes the $10 million in TIGER grant funding serves “as a catalyst for the countywide network.”
July 27, 2016
- Red Line repairs in August to cause major delays
If you ride the Red Line, don’t head to work, head to the beach, Metro officials are saying as they encourage Maryland commuters to stay off the busiest subway line for much of the month of August while tracks are repaired...Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner said riders should remember the old scouting phrase “be prepared” when riding the rails.
“This is not going to be pretty, it is a major inconvenience and you need to look at all your alternatives, study them up and do all you can to avoid being discombobulated,” said Mr. Berliner, who joined Mr. Wiedefeld at the at Silver Spring Metro to discuss the impact of upcoming surges.
- Metro GM makes his case for proposed early weekend closure
Acknowledging that the plan could be changed, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Wednesday that additional time for maintenance and inspections on the tracks was the top reason he has proposed significant weekend service cuts...“First and foremost is safety and reliability,” Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner said. Berliner also leads the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments...“My hope is that the board honors its fundamental obligation to ensure that this system gets to a state of good repair. That is what is fundamental to the economic future of this region,” he added. Berliner suggested Metro could add late-night bus service along the rail routes as some other cities have done after the rail system closes for the night.
- Metro GM Warns of Major Delays During Upcoming Red Line SafeTrack Surge
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld urged local Metrorail commuters to find alternative ways to travel or else be prepared for significant delays on the Red Line during the first week of August. The transit operator will be conducting its sixth SafeTrack surge from Aug. 1 to 7 and will be single-tracking trains between the Silver Spring and Takoma Metro stations for the entire week...“You should assume it’s going to take 45 minutes to an hour longer each way,” said Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner, who also attended the press conference. “It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s oh so necessary.”
- First Metro Red Line SafeTrack Will Cause Hour-Long Delays
Metro riders on the Red Line may have to wait as much as an extra hour Aug. 1-7. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said at a news conference Wednesday the project, or “safety surge”, will cause crowding on all Red Line trains...Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) said he would consider supporting the idea of permanent 12 a.m. close because Metro needs more time for general maintenance. The projects included in Wiedefeld’s year-long SafeTrack program will not account for all maintenance and repairs that the system needs, he said. The year of extended periods of single tracking and station shutdowns was the first time stations had to close at 12 a.m. for more than a few days. Berliner said the transit system’s aging and insufficient upkeep has led to a need the 12 a.m. close. “(It’s) because they let the system deteriorate,” said Berliner of Metro.
July 21, 2016
- Review: Despite increases, WSSC water rates still ‘affordable’
Despite a decade of rate increases, water bills are not yet putting a major dent in the pocketbooks of many area residents. An outside review found the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which provides water and sewer service to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, offers a “very high level of affordability” when compared to its counterparts nationwide, according to Myron Olstein of Juggernaut Consulting...WSSC Chief Financial Officer Joe Beach told county leaders action is being taken on customer service. “We’re right now in the process of reorganizing that team,” he said. “We better be significantly above average,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner, “and customer satisfaction has long been one of the banes of this organization and it just must be addressed.”
- County searches for solutions in wake of 911 debacle
Montgomery County officials say they want access to a federal alert system with a reach far beyond the County’s current system. The County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is overseeing a federal application to gain access to the Wireless Emergency Alerts system administered through the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Homeland Security...According to Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), preventing outages of the 911 system is his top priority for emergency management but he also supports accessing the WEA system after talking to Stoddard Tuesday morning.
- Sign-off on grant agreement will assure federal funding for the Purple Line
Officials with the Federal Transit Administration are seeking Congressional sign-off on a funding agreement that will clear the way for major construction on Maryland’s Purple Line light-rail project to begin later this year. Congress has 30 days to review what is known as a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), essentially the government’s guarantee to contribute to the project. Once that review process is complete, it will be sent back to the FTA administrator for her signature...“We’re assuming that it’s a done deal,” said Roger Berliner, vice chairman of the Montgomery County Council. “There’s been such cynicism about government’s capacity to do anything big so for us to be able to point to something where dirt will be dug and something will be built – it’s nice. Should it take this long? No. But when it happens you have to be grateful it’s done.”
July 20, 2016
- County Council Member Concerned About First Meeting of Liquor Control Task Force
County Council member Roger Berliner is worried the rocky first meeting of the county-organized task force set up to examine privatizing alcohol sales means it won’t achieve its goal. Berliner on Tuesday wrote a letter to County Executive Ike Leggett detailing his concerns about the task force’s July 14 meeting in Rockville, which included claims of recurring alcohol delivery and storage issues caused by the county’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC).
July 4, 2016
July 4, 2016
- A Maryland county’s nickel tax for plastic bags is paying off, but not as planned
Like most local governments, Montgomery County is perennially looking for ways to generate revenue. When it imposed a 5-cent levy on disposable shopping bags in 2012, however, officials said the intent was to change behavior, not to squeeze more pennies from taxpayers. Plastic bags make up about a third of the trash found in the county’s streams and stormwater ponds. Many end up in the heavily polluted Anacostia River. Charging shoppers a nickel for each plastic or paper bag would prod them to embrace environmentally friendly reusable sacks, or so the county hoped…County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda), the chairman of the transportation and environment committee, said he finds it “troubling that we haven’t seen more of a decrease in the sales of bags, especially at grocery stores.”
July 2, 2016
- Official: SHA to study 2 deadly Montgomery Co. roadways
In a letter to Montgomery County leaders, Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation said the State Highway Administration will study what can be done to make two area roadways safer. Bethesda Beat reports that transportation secretary Pete Rahn sent a letter to Montgomery County Council Member Roger Berliner and state lawmakers on June 20, explaining that SHA will collect traffic data in the areas where two residents were killed in the past year.
July 1, 2016
- County Council recommends telecommuting while Metro repairs are made
At least one County Council member says any recommendations the council may offer commuters while Metro repairs the Red Line could “ring hollow.” County Council member Roger Berliner said during the County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee local residents should consider alternatives to commuting via Metro. “I feel we’re just (pleading) to everybody else and not doing it ourselves, that just rings pretty hollow,” he told Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) and Council member Tom Hucker (D-5).
June 28, 2016
- Fiber network project to boost internet speeds in Md. county
Whether streaming favorite TV shows or trying to wrap up that big-budget project for work, no one likes suffering through slow internet connections. Montgomery County officials said that’s especially true for businesses and they hope a new project will provide faster connections for the county. “Speed matters!” said County Councilmember Roger Berliner. “When you have speed and reliability, you have something that businesses need.”UltraMontgomery seeks to give businesses exactly what they need."
- Bill Aims to Amend County’s Sick Leave Legislation to Exempt Seasonal Workers
County Council members are mulling changes to Montgomery County’s law that mandates employers provide sick leave as part of an attempt to ease the burden on seasonal employers. Council members George Leventhal and Roger Berliner are sponsoring a bill, which was introduced Tuesday, that would change the language in the sick leave law that goes into effect Oct. 1. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 19 at the council office building in Rockville.
June 27, 2016
- Official: Montgomery Co. workers should telework when Metro track work strikes
With telework being touted as an alternative during Metro’s maintenance plan, one Montgomery County leader says the county should be practicing what it preaches.“We can’t just preach teleworking,” Councilman Roger Berliner said Thursday during a briefing with Metro’s Chief Operating Officer Jack Requa and Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh. “We have to demonstrate that we, too, are prepared to encourage people to telework,” Berliner said.
June 24, 2016
June 22, 2016
- Leggett pulls Carver, Westmore sites from bus depot talks
The Carver Educational Services Center and a County site at 1000 Westmore Avenue will not be used for relocating school buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced Thursday that public opposition to those sites being used to house more than 100 buses each influenced his decision to take Carver and Westmore off the table...His decision won plaudits from County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who first stated his opposition to relocating the buses on Tuesday. During the meeting, the majority of the council said there is still further need for the Jeremiah Park site at Shady Grove. Berliner said he thought “the fundamental argument made by the community was unassailable.”
June 16, 2016
- County Council Mulls Plans to Reduce Hunger
On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council heard testimony on Bill 19-16, which proposes the County develop a five-year plan by Dec. 1 to tackle food insecurity. The Health and Human Services committee will review the bill June 23…Bill 19-16 is sponsored by Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) and would require the County Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) to design a strategic plan to coordinator the county’s food banks and charities…“It’s also bringing everybody together, so we’re not silent, so we can coordinate, so we have the data, so that we can bring the philanthropy in,” Berliner said.
June 15, 2016
- Regional business leaders slow down plan for dedicated funding source for Metro
Regional leaders once again made the call Monday for a dedicated funding source for Metro, pointing to other major transit systems backed by various forms of public subsidies and taxes in addition to fare revenue. After saying in May they would have a funding proposal crafted by September, officials with the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments now say they will slow down the process. They now expect to have a plan by the end of the year but will spend a year garnering support before taking it to the Virginia and Maryland general assemblies in early 2018.
May 25, 2016
- After 10 Months of Delay, County Says Signage for Closed Sidewalks Will Be Posted Soon
On July 8, a law went into effect requiring developers and contractors to post informational signage when permitted by the county to close a sidewalk during a construction project. County Council members created the law amid downtown Bethesda’s post-Recession building boom and a rash of complaints about long sidewalk closures. Council member Roger Berliner, who sponsored the legislation, and others said the informational signage should be akin to what New York City requires at construction projects.
May 18, 2016
- Montgomery County Council Approves Bill to Allow Seniors to Defer Property Tax Increases (Video)
The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a bill on Wednesday that would allow seniors to defer property tax increases at no cost. Council Vice President Roger Berliner and Councilmembers Sidney Katz and Hans Riemer were the lead sponsors of Expedited Bill 10-16. Council President Nancy Floreen and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice also co-sponsored the bill. According to a news release, seniors age 65 and older with a single or combined income of $80,000 or less could defer property tax increases on their primary residence until the sale of their home. “As our Council contemplates the County Executive’s proposal to raise property taxes, providing relief to our seniors who are living on fixed incomes is particularly important and timely,” Council Vice President Roger Berliner said in a news release. “This legislation protects seniors from an increase in property taxes at zero cost and can provide peace of mind for those seniors worried about having to sell their home to make ends meet. Our County is committed to making Montgomery County a community for a lifetime, and the passage of this legislation is one more concrete measure to achieve that goal.”
May 16, 2016
- County Council Votes to Cut Pay Increases, Reduce Class Sizes
The Montgomery County Council on Monday voted to reduce already negotiated pay increases for county government and school system employees in next fiscal year’s budget, an extremely rare move that comes days before council members are expected to approve large tax increases to boost education funding...“We are about to do three things that some of us said we would not do again,” council member Roger Berliner said, referring to the proposed property tax increase above the county’s charter limit and home sales recordation tax increase as well as funding the school system over the minimum required by the state’s maintenance of effort law. “It’s not without pain,” he said. “Let’s please acknowledge that we are asking our taxpayers to help the school system because this is the year of the schools. This is an education-first budget. If you think we love raising our hands to increase property taxes—I don’t think so.”
- A higher tax for Metro? Regionwide campaign to back dedicated funding expected in the fall
A pair of regional organizations are jointly crafting a proposal for dedicated Metro funding to augment what the transit system receives from fares and cash-strapped area governments. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, representing 22 area jurisdictions, and the Greater Washington Board of Trade expect to have a proposal ready by September, said Roger Berliner, chairman of the MWCOG board and a Montgomery County councilman.
May 12, 2016
- D.C. Metro ‘finances worse than operations,’ privatization on the table
Metro faces an $18 billion capital deficit over the next 10 years, news that shook regional lawmakers and prompted one to suggest privatizing the long-troubled transit agency...“We are completely committed as a region to doing what we must do to support this unbelievably important organization,” Mr. Berliner said. “We cannot wait to step in here, so we will be working very hard with our business community and legislators to come up with funding mechanism.”
May 11, 2016
- Two futures for Metro floated: A regional tax or agency’s demise
In a sign of how far Metro has fallen, Metro’s board chair was asked during a meeting with regional leaders who would own the tracks and rail cars if the system falls apart. “Metro is not going to cease to exist, it’s the critical lifeblood that runs the region,” board Chair Jack Evans told the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Wednesday. Evans, a D.C. Councilmember, addressed the Council of Governments to answer questions about Metro’s planned yearlong track rehabilitation project that would significantly reduce service and shut down entire stretches of track for weeks at a time. The work is intended to shrink the backlog of overdue maintenance and to make the aging train system safer for riders. Evans called questions about Metro’s long-term existence “insane.” Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council of Governments, called the line of questioning unfortunate. “There is no future for this region without Metro,” Berliner said.
- Federal safety officials demand immediate fixes on Red, Orange, Silver, Blue lines
Federal officials on Wednesday ordered Metro to immediately begin maintenance work on three long stretches of tracks to eliminate the threat of fires, forcing the transit agency to make last-minute scheduling changes in an extensive subway-rebuilding plan that it had hoped to finalize by early next week...COG Chairman Roger Berliner and others on the regional council said they strongly back Evans. “One of our tasks that I hope we will complete before the end of the year is achieving consensus on a regional dedicated source of funding for this organization,” said Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), a Montgomery County Council member. “Because it is at least my goal to give our various legislatures the opportunity to take that matter up. . . . We will work very hard with our business community, with all of us, and with our legislators to come up with a funding mechanism.”
May 10, 2016
- Councilmembers Introduce Bill to End “Food Insecurity” (Video)
A bill that would require a strategic plan to end “food insecurity” in Montgomery County was introduced last month before the County Council. Council Vice President Roger Berliner is the lead sponsor of Bill 19-16 and Councilmembers George Leventhal and Craig Rice are the co-sponsors. All three Councilmembers also are members of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, which oversees funding for programs that address food insecurity.
May 7, 2016
- Riders react to WMATA announcement on yearlong repair plan
On Friday, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld announced plans to repair and rebuild parts of the Metro system — a yearlong project that is expected to begin June 5. Wiedefeld acknowledged riders will have to make sacrifices during the massive undertaking, since the work will require track shutdowns, single-tracking for weeks at a time and fewer trains operating during the workweek.Soon after the announcement, #wmata was trending on social media channels, as riders took to Twitter and Facebook to react to the news. Roger Berliner, Montgomery County councilman and chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, called the plan “tough medicine.”
May 4, 2016
- Taking Pride in C&O Park
On a rainy and cold Saturday, April 23, more than 100 volunteers braved the elements for Canal Pride Day at the C&O National Historical Park at Great Falls. This event was sponsored by the C&O Canal Trust. The volunteers were welcomed and thanked for their service by Superintendent Kevin Brandt and Councilman Roger Berliner. U.S. Rep. John Delaney's aide Kevin Mack presented C&O Canal Trust President Robin Zanotti with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. This year’s event has special significance as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial and prepare for their second century of service.
- Montgomery County Council approves controversial Bethesda development plan
The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a controversial zoning plan for the Westbard neighborhood in Bethesda that will bring new development in the form of 1,200 new townhouses and apartments, including affordable housing...County council member Roger Berliner, who represents the Westbard area, said the project’s opponents only want to allow “nothing more than what was approved more than 30 years ago. That to me is not looking at the future, but looking in the rearview mirror,” according to Bethesda Beat.
May 3, 2016
- Council Unanimously Approves Westbard Sector Plan (Video)
The Montgomery County Council approved new zoning for the Westbard community of Bethesda at its Tuesday meeting. The vote was unanimous, 9-0, for the Westbard Sector Plan. “It has been, to say the least, a bumpy ride,” said Council Vice President Roger Berliner, who worked to reduce the density in the plan and who also found himself the target of a group of residents who said the downsized plan didn’t go far enough to reduce the density.
May 2, 2016
- Montgomery County Isn't Really Waging War Against Suburbia
Some Montgomery County residents are accusing county officials of waging a "war against suburbia." But the county isn't coming for your single-family house, no matter who tells you otherwise.Last week, about 70 protesters from Bethesda demonstrated outside the Council Office Building over the Westbard Sector Plan, which would redevelop a cluster of 1950s-era strip malls off of River Road into a small-scale town center with new shops, parks, and up to 1200 townhomes and apartments. The council is set to approve the plan tomorrow. Holding signs saying "suburban not urban," the group shouted down Councilmember Roger Berliner when he tried to address them, calling him "corrupt." Berliner, who represents Bethesda, had successfully convinced the council to reduce the amount of allowable development in the plan, which effectively limits building heights to six stories.
- RideOn to Operate Proposed Tobytown Shuttle Service (Updated)
At a meeting held by officials on Monday, Tobytown residents highlighted concerns that they have with the current proposed shuttle service that is being considered by the Montgomery County Council. Representatives from Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Sidney Katz’s office, Ride On and Delegate Aruna Miller outlined the proposed plan in detail for residents and discussed concerns. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s current proposed plan states that one bus, operated by a contract with the Jewish Council on Aging, would run every 60 to 75 minutes during morning and evening peak periods with three or four round-trips. Councilmember Berliner proposed for an all-day service that would run seven-days a week at a recent Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) committee meeting.
May 1, 2016
- In Montgomery’s Westbard, anger and resentment over a less-suburban future
The 70 or so protesters from Bethesda’s Westbard community who gathered at the steps of the Montgomery County Council building last week were in no mood to hear from their council representative, Roger Berliner. “I come here, quite frankly, not because I share your point of view, because I do not. And I’m sorry with respect to that,” Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) said, triggering a cascade of boos and jeers...“There’s a little bit of the Trumpification of America — that it’s okay to be mean and nasty to each other,” said Timothy Tutt, senior minister at the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, where supporters and opponents worship. Tutt said he supports the project because it will increase affordable housing in an area that has next to none.
April 30, 2016
- In a wealthy Md. suburb, some residents have waited more than 30 years for a ride
Tucked amid the lush lawns and stately mansions of Potomac, Md., is the little-known, historically African American neighborhood of Tobytown, where many of the 60 or so residents trace their ancestry to the freed slaves who founded the area in 1875. But the large lots and winding roads that offer wealthy homeowners country living 10 miles outside the nation’s capital have left Tobytown an isolated pocket of poverty..."A traditional bus for so few people “doesn’t make any kind of economic sense,” Berliner told them, but he said he would make sure funding for the smaller shuttle bus is included in the county budget when the council votes on it in May. “I think all of us have come to appreciate that we need to treat your community differently...We’re going to put in the dollars necessary to make sure you’re not an isolated community, that you can get to where you need to go,” he said.
April 29, 2016
- County Council Member Seeks Support for Petition Opposing Pepco Rate Increase
County Council member Roger Berliner is asking for support for an online petition opposing the rate increase Pepco requested last week from state utility regulators. Berliner, a frequent Pepco critic who formerly practiced utility law and who helped lead a group opposing the electric utility’s merger with Exelon, sent an email to supporters Friday encouraging them to sign the petition, to be sent to the five people on the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) who will rule on the rate increase request. The “Fight the Hike!” petition was posted Thursday and had more than 500 supporters by Friday afternoon.
April 26, 2016
- 'Save Westbard’ Group Stages Protest Outside Council Building in Rockville
Residents opposed to the Westbard Sector Plan protested Tuesday morning in front of the County Council’s Rockville office building, angrily shouting down the council member who pushed a pared-down version of the plan and alleging collusion between county officials and developers. “I came here not because I share your point of view, because I do not and I’m sorry with respect to that,” council member Roger Berliner said as the crowd booed and some yelled, “You don’t represent us.” “I actually reduced this plan by half,” Berliner tried to continue as protesters continued to shout. Less than a minute later, after continued booing and shouting, Berliner cut his speech short, gave up the microphone and walked back into the building for the council’s regular session..
April 25, 2016
- Berliner on County Executive’s Proposed Tobytown Shuttle Service Plan (Video)
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has proposed a plan to provide a shuttle transit service to the historic Potomac community of Tobytown. The proposal was introduced during a recent Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment (T&E) committee meeting, and if approved would begin October 2017. In this MyMCMedia Extra video, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner discusses expanding on the recommended plan.
April 20, 2016
- County Council Urges Montgomery County to Fight Pepco’s Proposed Rate Increase
All nine Montgomery County Council members on Tuesday called on County Executive Ike Leggett “to intervene, protest, and fight” Pepco’s proposed 10 percent rate increase. Pepco announced Tuesday it filed the rate increase request with state regulators. If granted, the increase would mean a typical residential customer’s monthly electric bill, which is currently about $152, would increase by about $15.80 per month. Pepco said it needs the rate increase, which would provide an additional $127 million in revenue, after investing $327 million in power grid improvements over the past two years. In a letter to Leggett circulated by the office of council member and frequent Pepco critic Roger Berliner, council members bemoaned how Pepco filed the rate increase so soon after its completed $6.8 billion merger with new parent company Exelon.
April 19, 2016
- Councilmember Roger Berliner Plans to Fight Proposed Pepco Rate Increase (Video)
On Tuesday, Pepco filed rate hike request with the Maryland Public Service Commission. The proposed rate hike would cost the average customer about $15.80 per month. In this MyMCMedia Extra video, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who is the Chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, promised to fight Pepco’s proposed rate hike.
- Berliner Announces Potential Transit Service For Tobytown Residents At HOC Meeting (Video)
Montgomery County’s Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) held a meeting with Tobytown residents on Monday night at the community’s recreation center. And while HOC initially limited the event to the Tobytown community, residents from surrounding areas and the media were able to join local officials at the meeting. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner stopped by the meeting and discussed Tobytown’s request for public transit. Berliner announced his plans to support a shuttle route proposal, that will include Tobytown, at a Council meeting to be held on Thursday. He said that the proposed all-day transit service would connect residents to Metro, schools, and jobs.
April 14, 2016
- County Council expresses faith in new Metro leadership
Members of a Montgomery County Council committee said although they question Metro’s financial sustainability, they have faith in the general manager’s leadership and eagerly wait to hear his plan to improve safety. All three members of the County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee said they were concerned about how Metro will be able to effectively run given the current funding levels from Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and the federal government. Committee chairman Roger Berliner (District 1) said he was concerned about safety but would leave it to Wiedefeld to say what the most important safety concerns are. He echoed his fellow committee members in his eagerness to hear what Wiedefeld will include in his plan to improve safety that is slated to come out in four to five weeks.
April 13, 2016
- Battle over future of Westbard shows little sign of abating
An earlier version of this story reported that Equity One initiated discussions with Montgomery officials about zoning in the Westbard area prior to buying property there. A spokesperson for the company said it was already under contract to purchase the land when discussions began. The fight over a long-term blueprint for development in the Westbard section of Bethesda continues to rage. But council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda), whose district includes Westbard, said the developer was not calling the tune. “Developer deference would have led us to either approve or even increase the scale of Equity One’s project, not significantly reduce it as we have,” Berliner wrote in a lengthy open letter to the Westbard community Tuesday. “We are not doing this because Equity One wants it. We are doing this because we believe that Equity One’s investment in our community, on this vastly reduced scale, will benefit our community.”
- Montgomery County Council Proclaims Proclaims April Autism Awareness Month
The County Council recognized April as Autism Awareness month on Tuesday. Councilmembers George Leventhal, Roger Berliner, and Craig Rice presented the proclamation, followed by remarks by Whitney Ellenby and Jake Edwards.
April 8, 2016
- Council Vice President Roger Berliner on Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)
Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner said his office is hearing from lots of constituents with concerns about the Westbard Sector Plan , and that pains him because of all the work that has gone in to scale back the current plan. Berliner said he knows the community very well. “I lived there. I drove my kids to school right there,” he said.
- Tobytown Needs Ride On Bus Service in Potomac
Tobytown resident James Martin testified at the Council’s April 6th budget hearing about the need for Ride On bus service to his community in Potomac...Council Vice President Roger Berliner agrees the community needs Ride On. He said Tobytown has become more isolated without bus service.
- County Backs Tax Cuts for Elderly
The Montgomery County Council introduced a bill that would enable senior citizens to defer the property tax increases and would help them meet their tax obligation. Council members Roger Berliner (D-1), Hans Riemer (At-Large) and Sidney Katz (D-3) sponsored the bill, which was introduced Tuesday. According to County Council spokesperson Neil Greenberger, individuals or couples 65 or older who are retired and have a combined income of $80,000 will have the option to put off paying the increase in property taxes until they sell their houses. Greenberger also said there will be no interest for the seniors to pay. However qualifying residents will still have to pay the original tax on their property. When seniors sell houses, they can pay the accumulation of fees from the tax increase they have deferred.
April 5, 2016
- Metro general manager says no lengthy line closures are needed to make repairs
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said Tuesday that he has no plans to close any rail lines for months at a time to do maintenance work, saying that targeted repairs can be done by shutting down segments of track temporarily. “I don’t see any need for a long closure of any part of the system,” Wiedefeld told reporters after a lunch meeting in Rockville with the Montgomery County Council. Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), who chairs the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, said he was relieved to hear that long-term shutdowns of entire lines were no longer a possibility. “The public obviously has been totally consumed by the prospect of a shutdown for six months,” Berliner said after the meeting. “The general manager is making it as clear as he can that that’s not something he’s considering. I think that’s very helpful for the public to understand.”
- Bill to Help Seniors with Property Taxes Introduced by County Council
The Montgomery County Council introduced a bill that would provide seniors with tax relief and assist them with meeting their property tax obligations to the County. According to a news release, the Expedited Bill 10-16 would allow seniors aged 65 and older, with an individual or combined income of $80,000 or less to defer increases on property taxes on their principal residence until they can sell their home. Interest on the deferred taxes would accrue at 0 percent. The news release states that $80,000 is the senior median income in Montgomery County, and the eligibility for the proposed measure would impact half of senior households in they County. The lead sponsors of the bill are Council Vice President Roger Berliner, Councilmember Sidney Katz, and Councilmember Hans Riemer.
April 4, 2016
- County Council Members Accuse State of Not Sharing Purple Line Savings
Some Montgomery County Council members Monday expressed frustration with the state for failing to share cost savings for the Purple Line project with the county. Council member Craig Rice admonished state transit officials who attended a briefing Monday afternoon for cutting overall construction costs for the project while the county’s Purple Line costs increased. “I think it’s ridiculous the state is coming to us, sitting on a surplus, asking us for additional money,” Rice said. Council member Roger Berliner said the county had talked with the state about its desire to share cost savings in the past. “We stressed the 'split the savings concept,' ” Berliner said. “What happened to the 'split the savings concept'?”
April 1, 2016
- Senior Forum and Resource Fair Hosted By Councilmembers Katz and Berliner Fair Planned for April 8
Montgomery County Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Sidney Katz will host a senior resource fair and forum on April 8. The event is focused on educating seniors about consumer protection and will serve as a way to connect residents with resources in the community. Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg will host the event. Berliner and Katz The resource fair aims to protect seniors from scams, address signs of elder abuse and neglect and connect residents with volunteer opportunities in the community. Over 15 different organizations will provide information and opportunities for seniors during the resource fair portion of the event. Scheduled speakers for the forum include, Montgomery County State Attorney John McCarthy, Eric Friedman, the director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, and Kathleen Meaney Stobie, director of the RSVP Program at the Montgomery County Volunteer Center.
March 31, 2016
- Roger Berliner Says Shutting Down Parts of the Metro for Months ‘Can Only Be a Last Resort’
County Council member Roger Berliner said he was surprised by WMATA Board Chairman Jack Evans’ statement Wednesday that Metro may need to shut down entire lines for as long as six months for maintenance work. Evans, who is also a Washington, D.C., council member, made the remarks at Wednesday’s Metro Summit. The comments were featured prominently in a front-page story in Thursday’s Washington Post. “Nothing this serious should have surfaced in this manner,” Berliner wrote in a lengthy Facebook post Thursday. “Shutting down parts of the system for any extended period of time can only be a last resort after all other options have been explored and rejected.”
March 30, 2016
- A regional summit on fixing Metro shows agreement on WMATA's leadership, divisions on its funding
"If we don't do something, ten years from now the system won't be running," said WMATA Board chairman Jack Evans. "The financial situation is dire." Evans minced no words while speaking at a summit Wednesday morning on the future of Metro, which has just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Regional leaders, convened by the Council of Governments and Board of Trade, gathered to discuss how to ensure Metro thrives in its next 40 years.
March 24, 2016
- Councilmember Berliner “Deeply Dissapointed” With Exelon-Pepco Merger Approval
It’s official, PEPCO and Exelon have now completed a multi-billion dollar merger. Exelon received the final green light to purchase PEPCO after the Washington D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) voted two to one in favor of the deal on Wednesday. Key leaders in the District, including Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Attorney General Karl Racine have previously stated their disapproval of the merger. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berlier, who is the chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, released a statement on his Facebook page in response to the PSC’s ruling.
- Montgomery County officials oppose Metro partnership with Uber, Lyft for paratransit
Members of the Montgomery County Council are asking Metro to drop any possible plan that would give Uber or Lyft a share of the region’s paratransit services. In a letter to Metro General Manager Paul J.Wiedefeld, the council members said the app-based transportation companies have a history of not providing accessible service and Metro shouldn’t reward them with a contract. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is exploring possible partnerships with Uber and Lyft to introduce an alternative –and less costly– option to MetroAccess, a door-to-door service that costs the agency about $50 per ride
March 23, 2016
- Pepco and Exelon complete merger after D.C. regulators approve deal
The power companies officially completed their merger just hours after D.C.’s Public Service Commission approved it. Council member Roger Berliner, who opposed the merger in front of Maryland regulators unless greater concessions were made, said D.C.’s decision was “disappointing and a setback for our environment and for customers.” [ Roger Berliner]
March 17, 2016
- Council Committee Recommends Increasing Affordable Housing Requirement in Westbard Plan
PHED Chairwoman Nancy Floreen abstained from voting on the increase, saying she has concerns about how the requirement could impact developers’ ability to pay for other sought-after public amenities such as the restoration of the Willett Branch stream that runs through the area, road improvements and public civic space. Council member Roger Berliner, who represents the area but isn’t on the PHED Committee, expressed a similar concern. “This plan provides a boatload of [affordable housing],” Berliner said Monday, referring to previous agreements that would require about 125 new income-restricted affordable units in any new development at the Park Bethesda site and 45 new affordable units at the Housing Opportunities Commission-operated Westwood Tower site.
March 15, 2016
- Metro System Will Completely Shut Down Wednesday For Emergency Safety Inspections
Metro announced Tuesday afternoon that the entire Metrorail system will be shut down Wednesday to allow for a systemwide safety check of 600 electrical cables that line its tunnels. In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Metro GM and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said he ordered the unprecedented closure with the support of Metro's Board of Directors after an electrical fire early Monday morning in a Metro tunnel just west of the McPherson Square station...County Council member Roger Berliner backed Widefeld's decision Tuesday. Berliner has made improving Metro a priority during his year as chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. "I'm not going to second-guess a general manager who in his heart of hearts, believes there's a threat to life," Berliner said. "He obviously saw a report and was given information that shook him deeply. I think that if our general manager couldn't sleep at night knowing that there was a threat to life on this system, that he did what he had to do and we need to stand behind him."
- Leggett Says County’s Additional Purple Line Costs Remain Under Negotiation
Montgomery County Council members expressed sticker shock Tuesday at the possibility the county may have to pony up nearly $14 million more than expected for the Purple Line...“This deal is not fair to us, from my perspective,” Roger Berliner said. “My hope is that our state delegation as well as our county executive and department of transportation will be having serious, heart to heart conversations to see if there can be a better deal cut.”
March 11, 2016
- Purple Line costs double for Montgomery County
The Montgomery County Council’s transportation committee examined unexpected Purple Line costs Thursday and decided to hold off on any action until the matter can be studied further...“We actually thought this was going to cost us less, not more,” said committee chairman Roger Berliner. The committee decided not to immediately recommend additional money for the project. “I don’t want to make assumptions with respect to these numbers at a time when we’re still negotiating these numbers,” Berliner said.
March 10, 2016
- Funding Metro is key to D.C. region’s economic future
Area leaders trying to figure out how to stimulate growth agree that funding Metro is critical to Metropolitan Washington’s economic future...The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) chairman is among local politicians who support dedicated funding for Metro that would be supplied by area governments. “We have to come together and say ‘OK, this [current] funding mechanism does not work,’” said Roger Berliner, also the vice chairman of the Montgomery County Council. “This organization is going to need more, not less in the future.”
March 9, 2016
- Washington is expected to just keep on growing — to nearly 1 million residents
Fairfax and Montgomery counties will continue to rank first and second. They and other counties in the region will continue to grow. But only Charles County, which is a quarter of the District’s size, will gain population at a faster rate than the city....Speaking of the housing pressures in the region, COG Chairman Roger Berliner said, “It’s important to understand that this is only going to intensify going forward.”
- Silver Spring is about to get a lot more bike-friendly
While Montgomery County is aggressively pursuing a comprehensive countywide bicycle master plan, few other concrete proposals had been made in Silver Spring beyond this bikeway, which would have been the first in the eastern half of the county. Recognizing this need, County Councilmember Hans Riemer proposed a significant increase in the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area funding for the next five years. Last week, the Council's Transportation and Energy Committee, consisting of Tom Hucker, Roger Berliner, and Nancy Floreen, voted unanimously to fund it.
- Local and State Officials Highlight Areas of Improvement at County Council Snow Storm Briefing
It’s has been more than a month since the historic winter storm buried Montgomery County in snow and on Tuesday, March 8, the County Council held a briefing with state and local officials to review storm response efforts...Roger Berliner pulled out a binder of 300 emails from residents to highlight concerns. “When you guys fall down on your job it actually comes down on us as well,” Berliner said, “after…waiting as long as they had to wait to get out of their neighborhoods then to get onto Wisconsin Ave. [or] Connecticut Ave. and see the kind of gridlock that was there because those streets weren’t plowed appropriately, just drove people crazy.”
March 8, 2016
- County, State Officials Acknowledge Need For Improvement During Snow Response Briefing
The State Highway Administration didn’t have enough snow-clearing equipment in place before January’s massive snowstorm and the county’s online snow removal map could use improvements, state and county officials acknowledged during a County Council briefing Tuesday...After praising Fountain for his candor, council member Roger Berliner said he still took issue with the performance of SHA’s snow removal operations during the storm. “When you guys fall down on your job, it actually falls down on us as well,” Berliner said. “After waiting so long to get out of their neighborhoods, then to get on to Wisconsin Avenue or Connecticut Avenue and to see the kind of gridlock there was because those streets weren’t plowed appropriately just drove people crazy.”
- Major Westbard Property Owner Plans to Quickly Forge Ahead With Redevelopment As County Council Deliberates Zoning
Even before a County Council committee deliberated over proposed zoning and building heights for his company’s properties Tuesday afternoon, Equity One Executive Vice President of Development Michael Berfield said the developer is ready to move on its redevelopment plans for Westbard Avenue in Bethesda...At the suggestion of council member Roger Berliner, who represents Bethesda and who presented his own alternative to the Planning Board-recommended sector plan, Leventhal and Riemer voted to limit building heights to 75 feet at the Westwood II Shopping Center at Ridgefield Road and Westbard Avenue.
March 2, 2016
- Montgomery County officials announce plans for a 'bus rapid transit'
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced plans and funding for a bus rapid transit along busy corridors plagued with wall-to-wall traffic on Wednesday. "With the state's cooperation, we could have BRT operated along our first corridor in less than four years," said Leggett..."We want people to chose to get on the bus and you do that when you have a high quality service, which bus rapid transit offers. We want it to have wi-fi, dedicated lanes, faster and more efficient," said Councilman Roger Berliner.
- New plan for smooth bus trips past Route 29 traffic
Commuters could be cruising past clogged Route 29 traffic while connected to Wi-Fi within four years under new plans announced Wednesday in Montgomery County. The plans also include some additional express buses along existing routes in other parts of the county...“We have a fair amount of confidence that [Route 29] is manageable — that’s not to say it’s free, but it is something that we can do, and that we need to do,” Berliner says.
March 1, 2016
- Rep. Chris Van Hollen Says Changes Must Be Made At River Road Intersection
U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen is calling for safety improvements at the River Road and Pyle Road intersection where three people were killed in a collision on Saturday night. On his Twitter account, Van Hollen sent his condolences to the family and, he said, “changes must be made to the dangerous River Road intersection.” On Monday, Council Vice President Roger Berliner said the Council would be sending a letter to state officials calling for changes. So far, over 3,600 people have signed a petition calling for changes as well.
- Berliner Recaps Cuba Trip (Video)
Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner visited Cuba last month as part of a trip organized by the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC). In this MyMCMedia Extra video, Berliner recaps his trip.
February 27, 2016
- Berliner calls for scaled down Westbard project
A development plan recommended by the County Planning Board that would add up to 2,470 residential units near Bethesda and Chevy Chase now has competition from an elected official. Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) proposed an alternative to the Westbard Sector Plan last week in a memo to members to the County Council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. His recommendations won conditional plaudits from at least one local civic group, the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, which includes membership from 19 community groups in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area.
February 23, 2016
- Leggett, Berliner and Navarro Meet With Ambassador Jeffrey Delaurentis In Cuba
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Councilmember Nancy Navarro, and Councilmember Roger Berliner are in Cuba this week as a part of a delegation arranged by the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. According to a news release, the purpose of the trip is to create an opportunity for potential economic and cultural partnerships with Cuba. County officials have already met with Ambassador Jeffrey Delaurentis, the Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. County Councilmembers are documenting the trip on social media. Councilmember Berliner posted about his first 24 hours on Facebook.
February 22, 2016
- Metro Mum On Plan To Ease Platform Crowding
County Council member Roger Berliner on Tuesday detailed how he would eliminate about half of the new development that would be allowed by the Westbard Sector Plan. Three months after a complaint forced Metro to agree to study platform crowding throughout its rail system, the transit authority continues to refuse to release any information about its work to deal with a problem that is among riders’ biggest frustrations. In a letter, Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld responded, “I have recommended the WMATA board consider improvements to a group of stations during the FY2017 capital budget deliberations, based on the degrees of overcrowding and ridership expectation.” “An alternative approach may be for the state of Maryland and Montgomery County to identify funding for the Shady Grove Station,” Wiedefeld said in his letter to Roger Berliner, the chair of the Montgomery County Council’s transportation committee.
February 17, 2016
- Roger Berliner: Development Allowed By Westbard Plan Should Be ‘Pared Back by Almost Half’
County Council member Roger Berliner on Tuesday detailed how he would eliminate about half of the new development that would be allowed by the Westbard Sector Plan as presented by the county’s Planning Board. In a memo to colleagues Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer, the three members of the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee, Berliner said the Planning Board was “too aggressive” in its vision for the area of Bethesda around River Road and Westbard Avenue.
February 10, 2016
- Knapp: Lift enrollment caps to strengthen D.C. economy
Roger Berliner, the chair of the regional council, asked for the consortium to pay more attention to community colleges with large student populations, instead of focusing on private D.C. institutions. “From our perspective, I have to say when we look at the economic development, and work opportunities in particular, it is the community colleges that we’re asking to step up to do this very important work,” Berliner said.
February 5, 2016
- Berliner Asks County Council Committee to Include $6 Million For Wall Park Garage
Add County Council member Roger Berliner to the list of people who wants to see $6 million included in Montgomery County’s next capital budget to help build a parking garage in White Flint. On Thursday, Berliner wrote a memo to colleagues on the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee who are set to take up the Wall Park issue in a Monday session.
February 2, 2016
- Montgomery Co. seeks $1.6M to cover Silver Spring Transit Center suit fees
The cost of completing the Silver Spring Transit Center went above and beyond original projections. By the time it was finished in 2015, the project was four years late and cost $50 million more than first estimated. And each time the county executive staff went before the Montgomery County council to report on glitches in construction and added expenses, a promise came from Director of General Services David Dise: taxpayers would not have to spend a penny more than first projected. The cost of fixes to the flawed project would not come out of the taxpayers’ pockets....County Council member Roger Berliner, who leads the council’s committee on transportation, said, “It doesn’t surprise me that it is going to cost us to make sure that our residents are held harmless as a function of the errors that were made in this process. So we’re going to have to fight hard to achieve that goal”.
- The real Potomac is nothing like ‘Real Housewives’ — except for the money
Part of the great appeal is living close to nature, says Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner, a Potomac resident for more than 20 years. “It is beautiful, of course,” he says. “But it’s not a lot different than anywhere else, except it’s more affluent.”
February 1, 2016
- Montgomery County Liquor Control director 'moving on' from position
There is a surprise in the fight to end Montgomery County's monopoly over liquor sales. After 21 years on the job, the head of the county’s Department of Liquor Control is out. Now, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has changed course and said he is open to talking about ending the practice, but there is a catch..."I think we have reached a tipping point,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner. “I think we have a chance now again with the County Executive on board being a constructive player. We can make this happen for our people.”
January 28, 2016
- Montgomery County Council to Hold Feb. 9 Hearing on Snow Response
The Montgomery County Council will hold a hearing Feb. 9 to review the county’s response to last weekend’s record snowstorm. Council President Nancy Floreen said Thursday the full council will hear county officials present their “preliminary thoughts” about their preparation and response to the storm that brought more than two feet of snow to most of the county...In an email to constituents Thursday afternoon, council member Roger Berliner outlined nine topics he wants to see addressed at the hearing, including whether the county should provide “realistic time estimates at the front end” when it comes to snow plowing instead of “the standard ‘this will be a multi-day effort’ response.”
January 27, 2016
- Md. neighborhood pleads for road clearing in time to pay tribute to fallen friend
UPDATE 8:29 a.m. 1/27/2015: A neighborhood resident tells WTOP’s Dick Uliano that the street has been plowed. EARLIER: WASHINGTON — If snowplows meet Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s pledge to make every street passable Wednesday morning, then a Bethesda family will make it to the funeral home for a viewing and Thursday’s funeral of a man regarded as his neighborhood’s unofficial mayor. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner says the case deserves special consideration. “Everybody is stressed; everybody wants to get about their business, but there are some people … we really need to get them out,” Berliner says. He says he’s “knocked on the door real hard” of the county Department of Transportation to ensure that the cul-de-sac will be plowed by Wednesday, and he’s confident the job will be done.
January 26, 2016
January 21, 2016
- Council Member Says Westbard Plan Should Allow Less New Housing than Proposed
County Council member Roger Berliner on Thursday said the Westbard Sector Plan should allow fewer new housing units than proposed by the county’s Planning Board and that some proposed building heights should be reduced near existing single-family home neighborhoods. Berliner explained his views on those and other facets of the plan in a letter sent to 1,200 constituents who have written his office about the controversial proposal. Over the 15 months the county’s Planning Department worked on the plan, some residents opposed to major redevelopment in the area pressured Berliner to step in. Berliner, who as the council’s District 1 council member represents the area, repeatedly said he would wait until the Planning Board sent its recommendations to the County Council.
January 19, 2016
- Montgomery County to Devise ‘Vision Zero’ Plan Aimed at Preventing Traffic-Related Deaths
Thanks to a County Council resolution approved Tuesday, Montgomery County must come up with a plan and deadline for preventing all traffic-related deaths. The council unanimously supported adopting a Vision Zero action plan, the name of an initiative that began in 1997 in Sweden that combines legislative action, police enforcement and public education as a way to end driver, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. “It is time to stop thinking of these fatalities as accidents,” said County Council member Roger Berliner, whose staff drafted the resolution. “These are crashes that we can and must prevent.”
- Supporters of Noyes Library Want County to Move Faster on Redesign Project
The nonprofit hoping to raise $1.6 million for major upgrades to a historic Kensington children’s library says its fundraising efforts have stalled after the group learned of new cost estimates for the project from Montgomery County that could put it out of reach...“Working with other groups where we’ve had commitments, they’ve had the best intentions, but the funding just doesn’t come,” Bell-Pearson said. “You can’t stop with half a building.” Council member Roger Berliner called the foundation’s commitment “extraordinary” and urged the county to move forward on the project as quickly as possible.
January 14, 2016
- In Reversal, National Institutes of Health Decides to Cap Number of Parking Spots on Bethesda Campus
After initially claiming their growing Bethesda campus needed 1,000 more parking spots to accommodate high-ranking scientists, National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials have reversed course and say they now won’t add any parking spaces...Local elected officials including Rep. Chris Van Hollen and County Council member Roger Berliner asked NIH to cut down on its parking spaces, despite the prospect of adding 3,000 more employees over the next 20 years, so employees would use mass transit and already bad traffic congestion wouldn’t grow worse around the agency’s 310-acre Bethesda campus...“They have seen the light and are doing well by my community,” Berliner told Bethesda Beat Thursday. “It will be that many fewer cars on the road in our most congested stretch, so it’s a very positive development and I’m very grateful that we were able to turn them around in this way.”
- Berliner Wants to Improve Metro, Economic Development as New Chairman of Council of Governments
Roger Berliner’s first meeting as chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) included a talk from the person leading the agency that he wants to focus on most in the next year...“Our job as elected officials is really to think bigger. It isn’t to pretend we are the [general manager] and micromanage them,” Berliner said Tuesday. “It is how can our community support Metro going forward, warts and all, because Metro cannot fail?”
- Federal government losing control of local economy
A sobering new economic report shows the federal government is losing its steam in the D.C. region. In 2010, the federal government accounted for 40 percent of the local economy. By 2020, it’s expected to drop to less than 30 percent, according to a new report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. “We have ranked 93rd out of 100 regions over the last several years,” COG Chairman Roger Berliner said. “We have to change. This cannot be ‘a company town.’ This has to be a different kind of company town — an innovative economy.” Berliner, a councilman in Montgomery County, said local communities should work together to attract investment and promote the region’s resources, which include biomedical and cybersecurity expertise... “If I was there as part of a regional trade mission [for] Greater Washington, then I think that will present greater opportunities,” he emphasized.
January 5, 2016
- DLC Apologizes for Delivery Issues During Holidays
The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control sent an apology to the restaurants and stores it supplies with alcohol last week after an error resulted in missed deliveries just before Christmas. In the letter, the DLC noted that due to a human error it had consolidated five files into a single file, which created a single delivery schedule that resulted in problems with deliveries Dec. 23, 24, 28 and 29. The problem was fixed on Dec. 29, and the DLC said its deliveries before New Year’s Eve were on schedule...Advocates of Frick’s legislation pointed to the apology as a reason to support the change. Roger Berliner, the lone Montgomery County Council member who is supporting Frick’s bill, called it “one more example of DLC’s incompetence” in a post on his Facebook page.
December 11, 2015
- Zoning change passes after Costco flap
The Montgomery County Council passed a zoning text amendment Tuesday to require large gas stations to be placed father from areas with sensitive populations with an 8-1 vote after a clash between Costco and a civic association. The decision occurred in the wake of Costco requesting a special exception to place a large gas station outside its Wheaton store which would be less than 300 feet away from homes, the previous County standard.Council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer voted to approve the amendment, and Nancy Floreen opposed, according to a news release.
December 4, 2015
- After Push for Transit Authority Fizzles, Outlook is Uncertain for Bus Rapid Transit
The official credited as one of the first to pitch a bus rapid transit system in Montgomery County said Thursday the county has fallen behind on the project...Council member Roger Berliner, another ardent BRT supporter, then offered a “kumbaya moment” to appease Elrich, saying Riemer wasn’t proposing to “put the pause button” on BRT. “I don’t think these are competing concepts,” Berliner said. “I think Mr. Riemer has a fair point. Do we have the best bus system today?” Joanna Conklin, who’s managing BRT planning for MCDOT, said the agency hopes to present some conceptual designs for the Route 29 and Rockville Pike BRT corridors to the public in the spring.
- Council members want to ease platform overcrowding at Shady Grove Metro
County Council members Roger Berliner and Sidney Katz this week asked Metro’s board to support funding for a new staircase to improve circulation at the often-packed platform at the station.
December 3, 2015
- County leaders seek answers to school projects
Three Montgomery County Council members and the County Planning Board sent the public schools superintendent a letter Monday asking what land the school system will use to add room for students in school clusters. Pat O’Neill, Board of Education president, said the board’s discussion of plans for anticipated capacity issues is ongoing, but the board submitted possible solutions, a list of MCPS properties no longer serving as schools and a list of possible future school locations, before the MCPS superintendent received the letter. The board currently owns 15 and the other 30 were transferred to Montgomery County government, Bowers said in the memo. Planning Board chairman Casey Anderson and Council members George Leventhal (D), Roger Berliner (D-1) and Craig Rice (2) said they wanted to know how Montgomery County Public Schools plans to alleviate overcrowding at the Walter Johnson, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Whitman clusters.
December 2, 2015
- Same Prices, Same Service Levels Proposed Under Metro's Latest Budget
Maryland, which directly allocates its portion of funding on behalf of its two jurisdictions, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, already sends Metro close to $400 million annually for operating and capital expenses. Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, who chairs the county’s transportation committee, said future dollars should be tied to performance. “I think it is inevitable that we are going to have to pay more,” Berliner said. “Metro is the single-most important institution in our region. It cannot fail. My basic proposition is to hold Metro accountable for improvements and tie additional resources to meeting certain basic metrics.” “Customer satisfaction, on-time, reliability, safety,” Berliner said. “The fundamentals of the system. Let’s have aggressive metrics for them, and meet them.”
November 30, 2015
- Council Members Request Proposals to Address School Overcrowding in Bethesda
Three members of the Montgomery County Council and planning board Chairman Casey Anderson sent a letter Monday to interim Schools Superintendent Larry Bowers requesting options to address school overcrowding. The letter comes as the Planning Board reviews master plan drafts for the Westbard neighborhood and downtown Bethesda. The plans will guide development over the next 20 to 30 years in the areas and are likely to permit thousands of new residences...In order to help their planning process, Anderson and the three council members—George Leventhal, Roger Berliner and Craig Rice—requested information about possible options to address school growth over a longer period than can be addressed in the school system’s six-year capital budget requests.
November 28, 2015
- Montgomery County Liquor Monopoly May Be Facing Last Call
Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), the lone member in support of Frick’s bill, said the current system imposes a significant hidden tax on Montgomery consumers and ultimately hampers the county economy. “I ask myself three fundamental questions,” Berliner said. “Is this a core government responsibility? Do we perform it well? And is it in our best interest long term? And I believe the answer to all three is an emphatic ‘No.’ ”
November 19, 2015
- Elected Officials Call on State to Make Immediate Improvements Near Sites of Pedestrian, Bicyclist Deaths
County Council member Roger Berliner and all four District 16 state legislators this week called on state transportation officials to make immediate improvements near the sites where two Bethesda residents were recently killed after being hit by cars. A letter from Berliner, state Sen. Susan Lee and Dels. Bill Frick, Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman asks Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn to make a series of pedestrian and bicyclist safety improvements that can be implemented immediately and in the short term to sections of River Road and Massachusetts Avenue, roads that the state controls.
November 12, 2015
- Westbard Sector Plan Puts Role of Planners, Planning Board and County Council Under the Microscope
Some have turned their attention to lobbying council member Roger Berliner, who represents Bethesda, to get involved in the process now, before the plan is submitted to the council. “If you see something you think is wrong now, you should be talking to the planning commission and other people now and saying, ‘No, no, no, no, this is the wrong direction,’” one resident told Berliner at an Oct. 26 town hall meeting.Berliner, who has yet to take a position on the development proposed for the area, countered that it’s not his role to step in at this point. “I feel like there’s a reason why we hire planners and have professional staff and it doesn’t mean I agree with them, but I want them to do their best work and then I want to hear what’s the rationale,” Berliner told the resident. “I’ve been very forceful in expressing my concerns that this plan is going to be very awkward at best, and there’s no question we can do better than what we have there now. So it’s finding that sweet spot.”
- Feds want ‘fire lit’ under region for Metro safety
Although that has been promised before, Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner says a difference will be seen between the enforcement from the FTA for now and the Metro Safety Commission later. “The key for an effective oversight agency is not just to raise its hand, but to have a hammer as well, and if any organization needs a hammer, it is this organization,” he says. “I understand differences on funding, I understand differences on service, I don’t understand differences on safety,” he adds.
November 9, 2015
- Berliner Urges WSSC to Improve Quality of Road Repairs
Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner urged Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials on Monday to reform the process for fixing roads dug up for pipe repair work. During a committee meeting with agency officials, Berliner repeatedly mentioned an incident in Bethesda’s Edgemoor neighborhood, where a contractor for the utility, Metra Industries, failed to properly install a pipe underneath Bradley Boulevard in October 2013. As a result, the road had to be excavated multiple times—a process that hampered traffic and left the roadway a mess of construction cones and steel plates during the first half of 2014.
November 7, 2015
- National Park Service explains tree removal along C&O Canal
In response to community outcry over eight trees chopped down along the C&O Canal towpath near Swain’s Lock, the National Park Service is admitting it did not communicate well with park lovers its plan to reforest the area....Montgomery County council member Roger Berliner says he understands Brandt’ charge to protect visitors. “His fundamental obligation is to make sure that a tree that has been identified as a hazard doesn’t fall on someone because then the federal government, like anyone, has seriously liability,” Berliner says.
November 6, 2015
- New Petition Takes Aim at Montgomery County’s Alcohol Monopoly
A new online petition is aiming to support an effort by six Montgomery County state delegates to place a referendum on the November 2016 ballot that would ask voters if private alcohol distributors and liquor retailers should be allowed to compete with the county's Department of Liquor Control (DLC)...On Thursday, County Council member Roger Berliner, who is supporting the referendum effort, sent an email to his constituents Thursday asking them to sign the petition. “Our state legislature, which has 100% control over liquor laws, will decide whether Montgomery County voters should be empowered to make this fundamental choice—whether our county stores should compete with the private sector,” the email reads.
November 3, 2015
- Bethesda residents want better road safety after recent wrecks
Bethesda residents want drivers to focus on the road, not their phones, after two fatal crashes in recent weeks. Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner and others hit a few accident-prone roads on Tuesday to call attention to pedestrian and bicyclist safety. At the intersection of River Road and Springfield Drive, dozens of people gathered and held signs that read: “Get off the phone,” “Slow down” and “Don’t drive distracted.”...“We can’t lose members of our community this way,” says Berliner, chairman of the County Council’s Transportation Committee.
- Bethesda Residents ‘Take to the Streets’ to Ask For Lower Speed Limits, Crosswalk Lights
About 30 county residents and Montgomery County officials on Tuesday morning stood on the side of Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda holding signs that asked drivers to slow down, pay attention and get off their phones...The event, labeled a “Day of Action” by County Council member Roger Berliner, was meant to get the attention of drivers who may not be paying enough attention as they drive on area roads. But it was also meant to get the attention of the State Highway Administration (SHA), which makes all design decisions on River Road and Massachusetts Avenue...Berliner said those residents asked him at a recent town hall what they could do now to push for changes. His response was to “take to the streets.” After Marge Wydro’s death, his office moved to set up Tuesday’s event.
November 2, 2015
- Green Banks to Finance Microgrids?
Green Banks have helped solar energy attract private capital and transition away from state grants to loans...Montgomery County, Maryland also is in search of a way to finance microgrids through its Green Bank, according to Roger Berliner, a member of the Montgomery County Council, who also spoke at the conference. The county approved a Green Bank in June...“I’ve had discussions with major developers to see whether or not they are interested, and there is interest. So we are hoping that not-withstanding the challenges – and there are challenges – that a Green Bank will facilitate microgrids in our county,” Berliner said.
- Berliner to host ‘Day of Action’
Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner is hoping to get the attention of drivers and the State Highway Administration Tuesday at a 7 a.m. “Day of Action” event at Little Falls Library on Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda. The council member and others will be at the library holding signs asking drivers to pay more attention to the road. The event comes after high-profile traffic fatalities in the area including the deaths of 64-year-old bicyclist and former Navy Seal Tim Holden and 95-year-old Bethesda resident Marge Wydro.
November 1, 2015
- Montgomery County implements money saving solar energy projects
Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett announced the county’s largest solar initiative. The project with SolarCity encompasses 14 individual projects and will produce approximately 6 million kilowatt-hours each year – enough to power nearly 600 average size homes...“We are making great strides for both our environment and our green economy, and we are proud to have a leader in that sector, SolarCity, as a strong partner in this endeavor,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee.
October 30th, 2015
- Board of Elections caves on early-voting locations
The Maryland State Board of Elections voted and finalized the early voting locations for Montgomery County Friday just before close of business.Board members nixed early voting sites in Potomac and Olney for the original sites in Chevy Chase and Burtonsville in the County’s early voting centers, despite a few members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections recommending relocating them...“The bottom line is I think our county board of elections ultimately made the right call by retaining the existing sites and for arguing for an additional site that would service Potomac,” Berliner said.
October 27th, 2015
- Council Member to Hold ‘Day of Action’ After Deaths of Two People Hit By Drivers in Bethesda
County Council member Roger Berliner said he and other community members will take to River Road and Massachusetts Avenue next week in a “day of action” meant to get the attention of drivers and the State Highway Administration (SHA). At 7 a.m., Berliner and others participating in the event will be at the Little Falls Library on Massachusetts Avenue holding signs asking drivers to pay more attention to the road...“In the wake of these two tragedies, residents have been asking, ‘What can we do now?’ And my answer in this moment is this: We have to mobilize. We have to show the State how important getting these two roads right is for our community,” said Berliner, who represents the Bethesda area and chairs the council’s Transportation Committee.
October 23rd, 2015
- Council Members Concerned Barwood May Be ‘Playing Fast and Loose’ With New Taxi Cab Law
Seven Montgomery County council members on Friday said they think Barwood Taxi may be charging some of its drivers more than is allowed every time a passenger pays a fare with a credit card...The seven council members—Katz, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer—detailed their concerns in a letter to Al Roshdieh, the acting director of the county’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT). They asked Roshdieh to investigate what is being included in the 7.45 percent credit card transaction fee charge “so that we may assess whether additional legislation is needed to address or clarify this issue.”
- Restaurant group wants Montgomery liquor laws changed
Frank Shull was raised in Montgomery County and loves it there. But as partner and chief operating officer of the RW Restaurant Group, he says it’s tough to do business in his hometown. The county Department of Liquor Control’s practices are costing him and his customers. “People come into my restaurants in D.C., and then they come into Bethesda and they say, ‘huh, this beer is three dollars more, or two dollars more,’ and they just don’t understand,” Shull said. This week, a supplier sent notices to Montgomery County restaurants saying future deliveries could be cut off because it hadn’t been paid. Shull puts the blame on the county’s shoulders...Councilman Roger Berliner says Montgomery County gets a net benefit of $30 million a year in revenues from the liquor control operations, but he’s convinced that eliminating the monopoly it has would generate more business and revenue for Montgomery County.
October 20th, 2015
- Fairfax, Montgomery push for relief for American Legion Bridge users
Leaders in the region’s two largest counties on Tuesday called for a renewed push to relieve traffic congestion for weary commuters who use the aging American Legion Bridge. In a joint letter to the governors and transportation secretaries of Maryland and Virginia, members of the Montgomery County Council and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors say the two states must “come together and focus on making improvements to address the severe congestion problems at the American Legion Bridge.”...The letter noted that the two counties have made efforts to find a solution for easing congestion on the bridge. In 2012, Montgomery and Fairfax requested that transportation officials in both states add two high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes to the Capital Beltway from the Interstate 270 west spur to Virginia. But their request went nowhere, according to Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda), who chairs that panel’s transportation committee. “Nothing ever came of it,” Berliner said. But with this letter, “We’re basically saying ‘Hello? Guess what, traffic is getting worse.’ ”
October 19th, 2015
- New Energy Initiative to Bring Solar Panels to Montgomery County Buildings
Montgomery County officials announced Monday the start of a new solar energy program that will bring solar panels to 14 county-owned buildings and facilities. The program is a partnership with the company SolarCity, which won a competitive bid to sell the county the energy generated by the panels. Under the terms of the deal, SolarCity will install and maintain the solar panels at no cost to the county. The county will then purchase the energy generated by the panels at a rate of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour over the next 20 years, according to Eric Coffman, the chief of the county’s Office of Energy and Sustainability. That rate is about half what the county currently pays for electricity, according to Coffman...“It’s a bright, sunny day in Montgomery County,” Berliner said at the event Monday as he thanked the Chevy Chase residents who started the conversation and pushed for the solar panels. He added that the partnership will help to create high-paying “green” jobs in the county.
October 17th, 2015
- Complaints from Potomac Residents Temporarily Halt Tree-Cutting Operation in C&O Canal National Park
Neighboring residents who noticed a tree-cutting crew working Friday morning at a C&O Canal campground in Potomac have stopped the work, at least temporarily. Sylvia Diss, a Potomac resident who lives about 10 minutes away from the Swains Lock Recreation Site, said she saw “a lot of tree branches” on the ground at the site Friday morning and was told by workers there that the plan was to cut down 25 trees and trim about 30 more. Diss and others concerned about the tree removal contacted County Council member Roger Berliner. Berliner said he got in touch with Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the C&O National Historical Park for the National Park Service, who agreed to temporarily halt the tree-cutting until maintenance staff could review the operation.
October 16th, 2015
- Council Pesticide Ban Questioned
County Councilmembers are concerned the pesticide ban passed on Oct. 6, which has already drawn residents’ ire, will be overly difficult to enforce. The Council approved a bill that will eradicate pesticides in Montgomery County by 2020. Although the law plans to get rid of pesticides, many, including council members, have concerns regarding how to enforce the rules. Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1) proposed an amendment that includes a step-by-step process to decrease pesticides. Berliner said breaking the habit of using noxious chemicals on lawns is important to decreasing the use of pesticides. “I don’t think our public is ready for an absolute ban,” Berliner said.
October 14th, 2015
- Council Members Reveal Petition Opposing New Early Voting Sites Montgomery County
Council Members Tom Hucker and Roger Berliner revealed a 2,500 signature petition against moving early voting sites at a jointly held press conference today. Both Hucker and Berliner were joined by fellow council members, community, and faith leaders...Councilmember Berliner echoed similar sentiments: “We cannot be indifferent if we’re picking sites where there are fewer voters, voting. So, I have a compromise for Mr. Shalleck, if you want voting in these other two sites, support state law which expands the number of early voting sites. That’s how we can compromise on this issue. Let’s have more early voting sites for more people, not fewer people.“
October 9th, 2015
- Montgomery County Food Security Collaborative Celebrates One Year
A coalition of Montgomery County nonprofits that wants to make sure no county resident goes hungry celebrated its first year of work Thursday...“There is enough food in Montgomery County to feed every hungry person,” said County Council member Roger Berliner who spoke at the event. “We throw away enough food to feed every hungry person.”
- Pesticide ban shows the peril of Montgomery’s one-party governance
Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), one of only three council members opposing the bill, predicted that the council’s action would result in a backlash. I hope he is correct. And although I am a registered Democrat, I hope the backlash will motivate Montgomery County’s Republicans to field some capable and credible council candidates in 2018. The history of this bill clearly illustrates the perils of one-party governance and demonstrates that it is time to restore some balance on the council.
October 6th, 2015
- MoCo becomes first major locality to ban cosmetic pesticides from lawns
Montgomery County became the country’s first major locality Tuesday to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides on private lawns, concluding that the time-honored right of suburbanites to maintain pristine green, weed-free yards was superseded by a body of scientific evidence linking the widely-used products to cancer...That was the principal argument of Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda) who unsuccessfully offered a substitute bill that exempted private land from the ban. Berliner’s version of the legislation banned pesticides on county property, near daycare centers, playgrounds and waterways. But he contended that most county residents were unprepared for a sweeping ban.
September 27th, 2015
- Proposal to build apartments atop new fire station sparks debate in Bethesda
Montgomery Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) said the debate reflects residents’ concerns about “encroaching urbanism,” particularly in areas adjacent to burgeoning downtowns.“People very jealously guard that more suburban, neighborly experience,” Berliner said. “That’s very important to them. Anything that threatens that is viewed with great suspicion and alarm. It’s something I’m sensitive to.”
September 26th, 2015
- A Green Plan’s Weak Roots
As an alternative, council member Roger Berliner (D) has proposed a bill that drops the ban on using cosmetic lawn-care products (except on county-owned tracts) while requiring homeowners associations, condo owners and other residents to consent to their use before they can be applied by lawn-care companies. The goal would be to reduce use of the products over the next five years — a sensible compromise that would raise public awareness without imposing a ban whose justification remains dubious.
September 22nd, 2015
- Roger Berliner Disappointed by Decision of BOE On Early Coting Center Locations
In response to the Montgomery County Board of Elections’ decision to replace the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center for the Potomac Community Center as an early voting location for the 2016 elections, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner today issued the following statement:“I am deeply disappointed with the decision by the Montgomery County Board of Elections (BOE) to approve the switch from the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center to the Potomac Community Center as a western down county early voting location for the 2016 elections. This decision by the County Board is not in the public interest. It is a purely partisan decision, designed to give greater advantage to Republican voters in the suburbs and make it more difficult for down county Democrats. Our only goal should be expanding the number of voters, not partisan agendas.
September 21st, 2015
- Berliner: County Should Set Aside Money to Buy Land for School Sites
With a rare undeveloped property in Bethesda off the market and a private school site about to hit the market, Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner on Thursday said the county should put money toward buying land for future schools. Berliner, who represents Bethesda, pointed to the recent sale of the 75-acre WMAL radio towers site to Toll Brothers, a developer planning to build 330 homes there. He also referenced the anticipated sale of The Sidwell Friends Lower School site, a 5.5-acre piece of land just west of downtown Bethesda. “What we lack is the capacity to act on those opportunities,” Berliner said. “We don’t have many opportunities for adding school capacity, new ground. This is all going to be infill development in our part of the community. We don’t have big swaths of land.”
September 17th, 2015
- County Council Environment Committee Approves Limited Pesticide Bill
A three-member Montgomery County Council committee approved Thursday an amended version of a controversial pesticide bill that eliminates many of the original legislation’s significant elements. The environment committee of council members Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen and Tom Hucker approved the amended version by a vote of 2-1 with Hucker voting against it.
September 16th, 2015
- Lawmaker writes Gov. Hogan to talk Metro
A Montgomery County lawmaker has written Gov. Larry Hogan to ask for his help to improve Metro after a rough year for the transit agency and its riders. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner wrote the letter as the chairman of the Committee for Transportation and the Environment for the legislative body. He says it’s been a rough few years for Metro and he hopes the governor can help turn things around. “The issues that have overwhelmed WMATA — safety, financial, quality of service, governance — demand more than incremental changes,” writes Berliner. He urges the governor to push for a permanent general manager to be hired as soon as possible, as well as a full-time Board of Directors with a sole focus on the transit agency. “This agency is too big and too important to have people who have other jobs overlooking this institution,” Berliner tells WTOP, although he praises the work done by current board members like Michael Goldman of Maryland and Leif Dormsjo of D.C.
September 10th, 2015
- Proposed Montgomery Co. bill bans lawn chemicals
A proposed bill in Montgomery County that would ban lawn chemicals has ignited passions on both sides of the issue. For opponents of the bill, it's a huge detriment to maintaining their lawns, which they see a crucial to maintaining high property values. Americans spend $6.4 billion a year on lawn care...Councilman Roger Berliner is dividing the council with his proposal to tone down a ban. "So in my alternative approach, if a lawn care company comes to you and wants to use pesticides, I want you to sign a form that says you understand the risks associated with pesticides, that you understand there are organic alternatives, directed your company to use the least amount of pesticides. Educate people first before thinking of a ban," Berliner said.
- Five Issues to Watch as the Montgomery County Council Returns to Action
A bill proposed last year by council President George Leventhal is expected to generate heated debate as the council heads back to work next week. Leventhal’s version of the bill calls for a general ban of potentially carcinogenic pesticides on private lawns and county property, including athletic fields...Council member Roger Berliner, who chairs the council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, put forth a detailed proposal this week to limit the scope of Leventhal’s bill. He says the current bill would likely face a court challenge.
September 9th, 2015
- Montgomery plan to ban lawn pesticides headed for council showdown
Montgomery County’s debate over where and how to ban cosmetic lawn pesticides heats up again next week as Council President George Leventhal (D-At Large) defends his far-reaching bill against a more narrowly drawn alternative...Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda), who chairs the transportation, energy and environment committee that will consider the Leventhal bill, calls it “a bridge too far” that would be difficult to enforce and vulnerable to court challenge. He argues that while the scientific evidence is worrisome, it has established no clear causal connection between pesticide exposure and cancer.
September 8th, 2015
- Berliner Seeks to Limit Scope of Pesticide Bill with Amendments
As the Montgomery County Council prepares to return next week from its August recess, council member Roger Berliner is making a move to limit the scope of the pesticide-banning bill proposed last year by President George Leventhal. In a memo to the council, Berliner writes that the pesticide bill as proposed is too far-reaching and may be invalidated by a court. Instead, he says, the council should take smaller steps to limit pesticide use instead of imposing the general bans proposed in the original bill.
September 5th, 2015
- Lawmakers React to Resignation of Metro’s Top Safety Officer
Local lawmakers are reacting favorably to Thursday’s resignation of James Dougherty, Metro’s chief safety officer. They call it a step in the right direction to restore confidence in the troubled system...Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner shared similar sentiments. Berliner chairs the county’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, which oversees Metro. “I do believe that senior management has to be held accountable for the failings of the institution,” Berliner said. “And I regretfully am grateful that Mr. Dougherty tendered his resignation. I believe we need a total change in the culture of WMATA, including, first and foremost, safety.”
September 3rd, 2015
- County Council Member Urges State Regulators to Crack Down on Pepco Tree Cutting
After a public outcry from area residents, a Montgomery County Council member Wednesday urged state regulators to force Pepco to take a more measured approach to cutting down trees close to the utility’s power lines. “We find that Pepco regularly takes the ‘Paul Bunyan’ approach, when a ‘Johnny Appleseed’ approach is more appropriate,” council member Roger Berliner told the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC). Berliner, who represents the area of Potomac where residents have been at odds with Pepco over its tree management, made the comments during a PSC hearing as it considers revised reliability standards for electric utilities that operate in the state.
August 26th, 2015
- Contemplating the next moves in the proposed Pepco-Exelon merger
The move by D.C. regulators to reject the proposed $6.8 billion merger of dominant local utility Pepco Holdings Inc. and Chicago-based Exelon Corp. means the clock is ticking on a deal that would create one of the nation’s largest power companies, one with 10 million customers...Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, an energy lawyer and vocal Pepco critic, applauded the D.C. decision. The commission, he said, did “what no other commission was prepared to do; stand up for consumers and the environment,” he told Bethesda Magazine.
- Local Official Celebrates Rejection of Pepco-Exelon Merger in D.C.
A local official who came out against the $6.8 billion merger between power companies Pepco and Exelon is celebrating Tuesday, after regulators in Washington, D.C., became the first to deny approval of the move. Council member Roger Berliner, a frequent critic of Pepco and an energy lawyer, praised the three members of the D.C. Public Service Commission who unanimously rejected the merger, saying it was not in the best interest of ratepayers. The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the merger by a 3-2 vote in May, following the lead of regulators in New Jersery, Virginia and Delaware – the other three states where companies in the Pepco Holdings Inc. umbrella operate. “I applaud the District of Columbia Public Service Commission’s courageous decision today to do what no other Commission was prepared to do: stand up for consumers and the environment,” Berliner said in a statement. “The Pepco-Exelon merger could cause serious harm to the residents of both D.C. and Montgomery County, and it is the duty of our Public Service Commissions to ensure that ratepayers are protected.”
August 17th, 2015
- Community Sees White Flint Mall Case as Turning Point in Area’s Transformation
Suzanne Hudson has lived in the neighborhood behind White Flint Mall since before the mall existed. She’s hoping she’ll live there long enough to see it developed into the mixed-use town center long promised...Lerner Enterprises and the Tower Cos., the mall’s owners, haven’t said if or how that decision affects their development plans. “From my perspective, this is the green light, not the red light,” said County Council member Roger Berliner, who lives near the mall site at the new Pike & Rose development north of the White Flint Metro station. “I think people are generally eager for this project to move forward,” Berliner said. “I certainly am. I think it’s going to contribute to the vitality of our community and to its economic vitality. We’re ready to rock and roll.”
- Developer Plans 330 Homes for Bethesda’s 75-Acre Radio Towers Site
The developer that won the rights to 75 acres of prime Bethesda real estate plans to build up to 330 homes on the property, maxing out on a rare piece of open land that’s now home to four large radio towers...County Council member Roger Berliner, who represents Bethesda, reportedly asked the county to examine if there was a way the county could acquire the land for use as a new school, park or for other government services. Brokers selling the site said it could go for as much as $75 million.
August 7th, 2015
- County Tells WSSC to Fix Leak in Newly-Installed Water Pipe Under Bethesda Road
Montgomery County issued a notice of violation to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission last month after one of the agency’s pipe replacement projects caused a water leak and bumpy conditions on a busy Bethesda street...Standing water and a bumpy patchwork of new pavement elicited complaints to Councilmember Roger Berliner’s office. Drew Morrison, a staff member in Berliner’s office, said that DPS, WSSC and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation met on-site to talk about fixing the issue. Repaving is expected to take six weeks.
August 2nd, 2015
- New Entrance Escalator Opens Monday at Bethesda Station
The first of three new entrance escalators at Metro’s Bethesda Station will enter service Monday, Aug. 3, according to a news release from WMATA.With a rise of 106 feet, the new escalator is the second longest in the Western Hemisphere behind Wheaton Station and took more than nine months from demolition of the old escalator, site preparation, delivery of the new escalator and assembly...“A safe and reliable Metro system is key to our community’s future. This new escalator, completed on time, is one step forward in creating a significantly improved Bethesda station. As work now moves to the second and then third escalators, I have my fingers crossed for minimal disruption and I, like so many, look forward to when we will have a whole new fleet of escalators serving our Bethesda transit riders,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner.
July 28th, 2015
- Council Agrees On Partial Privatization of Liquor Control, But Some Want More: Berliner wants “phased exit strategy” from business
The Montgomery County Council Tuesday approved a resolution that could lead to partial-privatization of the county’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC), especially when it comes to the distribution of specialty craft beer and fine wines.But while some council members cautioned against further changes to the department that could hurt the county’s bottom line, Council member Roger Berliner said the changes with so-called special orders should be the first part of a “phased exit strategy” out of the liquor business. “For nine years I have asked myself why our County is the only county in the country to have a monopoly in the liquor business,” Berliner said in a prepared statement. “The answer, it seems, is simple: revenue and county employee jobs. I don't find that answer satisfying, even on a day when we are adopting a significant budget savings plan.”
July 24th, 2015
- Montgomery aims to make all taxicabs wheelchair accessible by 2025
Montgomery County officials say they want to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs and have the county’s taxi fleet 100 percent accessible by 2025.Among the measures approved Tuesday by the County Council, one aims to improve taxi service and requires the County’s Department of Transportation to develop a plan to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs that have lifts or ramps, with a goal of having 100 percent accessible taxicabs within 10 years...“These reforms will accrue to the benefit of all — the industry, drivers, consumers, the disabled community, seniors and low-income residents,” said council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), the lead sponsor of the bills.
July 27th, 2015
- Red Line Waterproofing Work Moved to 2017, and Could Move Again
The Red Line tunnel waterproofing effort that was supposed to come in 2016 is now scheduled for 2017 and may change again depending on when the state of Maryland and a private concessionaire are ready to build the Bethesda Purple Line station.Council member Roger Berliner, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee and who represents Bethesda, took a tour of the leaky tunnel in April and said it reminded him of Luray Caverns. “It’s really, it’s not OK,” Berliner told Troup during the forum. “I know it’s not of your making. But there are waters, there are stalagmites. It’s pretty incredible.”
- Pepco says it cut hu ndreds of trees to protect power for thousands of people
The chain saws have quieted. Crews of tree-cutters, and the police summoned to protect them from angry homeowners, are largely gone. But scars from the year-long War of the Trees between Potomac residents and Pepco remain in plain view...“Trees and power lines don’t mix. I totally get that,” said Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda). But Pepco needs to become “less Paul Bunyan and more Johnny Appleseed,” he said, in its approach to cutting and trimming.idents and Pepco remain in plain view.
- Official: Illegal Towing Continues in Montgomery County Ahead of New Law
A controversial method of towing cars persists in Montgomery County, despite a newly passed law to combat so-called predatory towing, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team. The new law, set to be officially signed by the county executive this week, will not take effect for at least three months, a county official said."Our driver is well within the law with what he's doing,” the manager said. “He's on the property. He's observing people and taking the picture.” County Councilmember Roger Berliner said the newly passed towing law will eliminate uncertainty or confusion about the legality of towing operations. “If they (illegally tow), they will get caught,” Berliner said.
July 23rd, 2015
- In Front of Marriott Headquarters, Local Officials Urge Hotel Giant to ‘Pick the Pike District’
Metro’s acting general manager insists the transit agency is doing all that it can to improve Metro’s safety and reliability, but some are doubtful. Jack Requa heard a litany of complaints at a forum on Metro problems sponsored by the Montgomery County Council Transportation Committee. Transportation committee chairman Roger Berliner says the goal is to find short-term and long-term solutions to Metro’s problems. “Almost every day … we read about or experience a problem with Metro — not small problems, big problems,” Berliner says.
Montgomery County Council approves 25 cent surcharge for each Uber ride
It is going to cost more to use Uber in Montgomery County. By a unanimous vote, the county council has approved a move to tack an extra quarter onto every Uber or rideshare trip. Councilmember Roger Berliner said the first thing you need to know about this 25 cent hike is that the money is going to a good cause -- funding transportation for the disabled with 66 new fully accessible vehicles. "We're increasing the fleet for our disabled community and using this fund to help pay down the extra costs associated with those more expensive vehicles,” he said.
In Front of Marriott Headquarters, Local Officials Urge Hotel Giant to ‘Pick the Pike District’
Elected officials, business owners and community leaders gathered in front of Marriott International’s Bethesda headquarters Wednesday to make their pitch for the Fortune 500 company to remain in Montgomery County. County Council member Roger Berliner, District 17 state Sen. Rich Madaleno and District 16 state Del. Marc Korman joined the group, which is hoping to get Marriott’s attention about six years before its lease is up at its longtime Fernwood Road headquarters in a Bethesda corporate office park. “Nothing will get in the way of our county being able to respond to Marriott’s needs,” Berliner said. “Nothing.”
July 22nd, 2015
- Montgomery Council approves overhaul of taxis and limits on towing
The Montgomery County Council approved measures Tuesday to improve taxi service and rein in predatory practices by towing companies. Two taxi bills, approved by unanimous vote, would boost working conditions for drivers, increase the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs and create a centralized dispatch system for the county’s five taxi companies...“The measures our council passed today will fundamentally reform our county’s regulation of the taxi industry,” council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), the lead sponsor of one of the bills, said in a statement after the session. “And these reforms will accrue to the benefit of all — the industry, drivers, consumers, the disabled community.”
July 17th, 2015
- Chevy Chase, Potomac Libraries May Have Hours Restored After All
A pair of local public libraries Thursday got a temporary reprieve from budget cuts that would’ve cancelled expanded service hours supposed to start in October. Council member Roger Berliner, who represents the district that includes four of the five libraries in question, argued that it’s time those libraries have their hours fully restored. “This district has taken a disproportionate hit in terms of the amount of hours that are available,” Berliner said. “It’s clear just from this list. It’s not right.”
July 16th, 2015
- County Council Likely to Push State on Beltway Express Lanes in Bethesda
Tow truck drivers in Montgomery County might soon have to wait at least 15 minutes before hooking up illegally parked cars. The County Council’s Public Safety Committee Monday recommended a new law that provides a 15-minute grace period for illegal parkers, a measure one council member said “puts common decency, not tow companies first.”...The average cost to reclaim a towed car from an impound lot is $160, plus the costs associated with getting to the lot. “That, to me, is not a punishment that fits the crime,” said Berliner, who later tweeted that the latest version of the bill is about “common decency.”
July 14th, 2015
- Grace Period, Ban on Spotters Could be Part of County's New Towing Law
Tow truck drivers in Montgomery County might soon have to wait at least 15 minutes before hooking up illegally parked cars. The County Council’s Public Safety Committee Monday recommended a new law that provides a 15-minute grace period for illegal parkers, a measure one council member said “puts common decency, not tow companies first.”...The average cost to reclaim a towed car from an impound lot is $160, plus the costs associated with getting to the lot. “That, to me, is not a punishment that fits the crime,” said Berliner, who later tweeted that the latest version of the bill is about “common decency.”
- In Purple Line Rail Project, A Tale of Two Counties
For Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and most members of the County Council, the Purple Line is a crucial way to improve mass transit options and strengthen Montgomery’s two business centers, Bethesda and Silver Spring, as regional destinations. “You’re harnessing our two economic engines with a nine-minute connection,” said council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), referring to the estimated travel time between the downtowns, which lie on opposite ends of Metrorail’s Red Line.
July 9th, 2015
- Montgomery Lawmakers Want To Tackle Metro Problems
Montgomery County lawmakers want answers from Metro leaders about the system’s safety and financial woes, plus the suspended search for its next general manager. County Council member Roger Berliner announced Thursday that his Transportation Committee will host a Metro forum July 22 in Rockville with the goal of “exploring both short-term and long-term solutions for addressing” Metro issues. Berliner referenced recent reports from federal oversight agencies that faulted Metro for moving too slowly to fix various safety issues. “Our community depends on the Red Line. However, as the tragic loss of life at L’Enfant Plaza underscored, and the subsequent investigations by the Federal Transit Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed, the fundamentals for safety are not in place,” Berliner announced.
June 27th, 2015
- Councilmember Berliner Talks Hogan’s Purple Line Decision
In this MyMCMedia Extra, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner said Hogan’s Purple Line decision is a positive announcement but “we need to know the details.” Hogan said, at a news conference on June 25, the project will require an additional investment from both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
June 26th, 2015
- Montgomery, Prince George’s officials are relieved by Purple Line decision
Political and business leaders and transit advocates in Maryland’s Washington suburbs mostly exhaled on Thursday after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he was willing to let a less costly version of the light-rail Purple Line go forward...Montgomery council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda), chairman of the council’s transportation and environment committee, said he was confident that Hogan’s ask was “not a showstopper...We can’t lose this project based on the numbers we’re talking about here,” Berliner said.
June 19th, 2015
- County considers freezing wages for tipped workers
A County Council committee voted Tuesday to support a locked base pay for tipped workers, a move beneficial to the restaurant industry that some say could hurt workers. But the bill’s more stringent reporting requirements would help address that, according to Council member Roger Berliner (D-1). The bill requires quarterly wage reports as well as the creation of an online reporting system. “There are undoubtedly always going to be people that don’t comply with the law, which is why we strengthen the reporting requirements,” Berliner said.
June 13th, 2015
- Proposed Montgomery County curbs on lawn pesticides face amendment
A controversial bill to restrict pesticide use on private lawns and public land in Montgomery County could be headed for significant changes before it goes before the County Council for a final vote, most likely in September. Berliner said Friday he is drafting an alternative version that drops the restrictions on pesticide use for lawns, county parks and athletic fields. It would instead establish a countywide goal of reducing pesticide use to a to-be-determined level by 2020.
June 11th, 2015
- Md. transportation chief reportedly backs Purple Line if cost is lowered
Montgomery council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), who also was at the meeting, said Rahn made no promises but indicated that he would make such a recommendation to Hogan. “It has been our expectation that Rahn would put before the governor an option that would have a lower price tag and more contribution from our county,” Berliner said. “We left the meeting with the feeling that he would present that kind of option. We have our fingers crossed that the governor would find that satisfactory.”
May 26th, 2015
- Towing: a federal issue no more?
Nothing irks Montgomery County residents quite like finding their vehicle towed without their consent. Two federal lawmakers want to be clear who has the authority to address the problem. Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda has proposed legislation to crack down on abusive towing practices. His legislation updates the county’s 20-year-old law that addresses towing. County Council attorney Josh Hamlin said nothing in current federal law should prevent the county from passing Berliner’s bill, but Van Hollen’s legislation would remove any uncertainty about authority on regulating towing.
May 15th, 2015
- Maryland approves Exelon-Pepco merger
Maryland regulators Friday voted 3 to 2 to approve Chicago-based Exelon’s proposed $6.8 billion acquisition of utility company Pepco Holdings, ending a year-long battle between state officials, environmentalists and the companies. The Maryland Public Service Commission said it approved the deal with 46 conditions, including higher reliability standards, a $100 rate credit for Delmarva Power and Pepco residential customers and $43.2 million for energy efficiency programs in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and the Delmarva-Maryland service territory. Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), who heads the Coalition for Utility Reform, a group that pressed Exelon for environmental and service improvements as conditions to the merger, said the decision “poses an unacceptable threat to both ratepayers and our environment.”
May 13th, 2015
- County Councilmembers Ask Local Hospitals To Stop Using Pesticides
Two County Councilmembers on Monday asked local hospitals to stop using pesticides on their properties in Montgomery County, citing “strong signals” from medical experts that the products are harmful to people. Councilmembers Roger Berliner and George Leventhal sent the request to the president of Gaithersburg-based Adventist Healthcare, as well as the presidents of Suburban Hospital, Holy Cross Health, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center and the Children’s National Health System
May 12th, 2015
- Business Groups Make Another Push To Reduce Montgomery County’s Energy Tax
Local business leaders and at least three councilmembers are yet again pushing to reduce Montgomery County’s energy tax with a key hearing on the proposal set for Wednesday. Councilmember Nancy Floreen has proposed cutting the tax by 10 percent, which would mean a roughly $11.5 million revenue loss for the county. Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Sidney Katz are supporting Floreen’s proposal.
May 6th, 2015
- Potomac: County Council Honors Local Small Businesses
Montgomery County Council Member Roger Berliner recognized small businesses in Montgomery County earlier this week. Berliner, surrounded by representatives from area chambers of commerce including Potomac and Bethesda-based businesses owners, Cari Shane of sasse agency and Debbie Mintz Brodsky of DMB Pictures, read a proclamation during a County Council meeting on Tuesday. Berliner called small businesses the “backbone of our economy.”
May 4th, 2015
- A Bethesda Coyote? Neighbors Report Sightings
County Councilmember Roger Berliner said he is getting worried calls from constituents. "It's frightening. You don't want your pets unattended of course, but we cannot point to a case when there has been harm to a human being."
April 29, 2015
- Maryland law takes precedence over county in regulating Uber, Lyft
As written, the soon-to-be law pre-empts Montgomery County from passing its own regulations, said Councilman Roger Berliner. But Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda, who has been leading discussions on the issue locally, said the state bill and what the county was crafting were comparable. Berliner noted that the county’s work wasn’t just limited to Uber and Lyft. It also focused on modernizing regulations for taxicabs and the working conditions of cab drivers to level the playing field in the market of for-hire rides. The county, he said, will continue revamping its laws on taxicabs and drivers.
To make people-friendly streets, think beyond just cars
Councilmember Roger Berliner, who represents both urban communities like Bethesda and urbanizing areas like White Flint, wants to change that. Last week he released a letter with some examples of alternative ways to measure congestion.
April 24, 2015
- Predatory Towing in the DMV: Gone in 60 seconds
Last week in Montgomery County, Council member Roger Berliner introduced legislation that would ban spotters. A statement from Berliner’s office said his plan “would make it more difficult for companies to take advantage of county residents.
- Pulled ads prompt questions
Councilmember Roger Berliner, a leading member of the Coalition for Utility Reform, has said Exelon needs to do more to commit to renewable energy. He said the commission could go either way on the merger in his view, and it would be a “defining moment” for them. Exelon and Pepco did not come to a settlement agreement with the coalition. “Our coalition in the larger environmental community was prepared to seriously consider settlement if Exelon had been prepared to make a serious proposal. Regrettably, that never happened,” Berliner said.
April 23, 2015
- Should MoCo Change Its Traffic Standards?
Councilmember Roger Berliner says Montgomery County should change the way it evaluates traffic when it comes to new development. Berliner said the county’s focus on how quickly vehicles get through an intersection leads only to wider roads and larger intersections, instead of what he described as more progressive options for decreasing commute times and getting people living closer to where they work.
April 15, 2015
- Uber Rides Could Carry Surcharge In MoCo Under New Law
“I believe very strongly that this surcharge should be dedicated to providing additional resources for taxi service for the disabled,” Berliner announced in a statement about the state law. “Too often, members of our disabled community are unable to get a taxi in a timely manner. With more financial incentives for drivers, we can provide more rides for our disabled residents.”
- Montgomery backtracks on a sprawl-inducing highway
Chair Roger Berliner said, "It's no secret I'm not a big fan of this project. I'm even less a fan of ambiguity and being in limbo." The committee members, while harboring different opinions about the project, all agreed that MCDOT should make the study public and send it to regulators. Berliner and fellow committee member Tom Hucker, along with a majority of council members, now publicly oppose to the project, while Nancy Floreen, the third member of the committee, supports it.
- Traffic clash: NIH, locals spar over parking spots
Elected officials at all levels are getting in on the controversy. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., members of the Maryland state legislature and Montgomery County Council, wrote a letter stating their disappointing in the parking ratio submitted by the NIH and said the new spots will result in greater traffic congestion.Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner sending a letter to the NIH telling the agency to encourage employees to take the metro or find other ways to avoid adding parking. "By far the single biggest negative impact that NIH has on our community is traffic generation," they wrote. "Traffic congestion is more than a simple matter of driver inconvenience, it is actually a serious quality of life issue, an environmental issue, and an economic competitiveness issue."
April 2, 2015
March 26, 2015
- Metro Officials Unsure of Evacuation Time at Bethesda Station
The tunnel that stretches from Friendship Heights to the Medical Center station in Bethesda is prone to arcing insulators, according to an October report from Metro. The tunnel has several leaks that cause about one third of the transit system’s arcing insulator incidents, Metro reported. The tunnel is slated for repairs in the summer and fall of 2016. Councilmember Roger Berliner said he wanted more assurance from Metro that arcing insulators will not present safety problems in the future. “Our goal is to give you the resources you need,” Berliner said, in reference to handling possible emergency safety issues at the station.
Pepco Settlement Is A Good Deal Despite Council Criticism, MoCo Says
Earlier this week, Berliner introduced a Council resolution against the county’s settlement with Pepco and Exelon. He also said that during a meeting with Leggett a few weeks ago, Council members urged Leggett not to proceed with the deal. “It was simply the wrong deal,” Berliner said.
March 20, 2015
Leggett and Council at Odds
Though County Executive Ike Leggett apparently reached an agreement with Pepco and Exelon Tuesday about their pending merger, members of the County Council said they remain unhappy with the results...“The county negotiated, if you will, for itself. Many of us (in environmental organizations and the Coalition for Utility Reform) regret that it didn’t take a larger view in trying to leverage its ability to broker a bigger deal that would have included renewable energy,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1), one of the leaders of the Coalition for Utility Reform.
March 10, 2015
- Purple Line Supporters Make Monday Night Push In Annapolis
Purple Line supporters were out in full force Monday night in Annapolis, something Purple Line opponents say means “they know the project is in trouble.” More than 150 residents, business leaders and elected officials took part in “Transit Night” in the state’s capital, a few months before Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to decide whether to move forward with the long-debated 16-mile light rail from New Carrollton to Bethesda. The elected officials included County Executive Isiah Leggett, Councilmembers George Leventhal and Roger Berliner, local Delegates Ana Sol Gutierrez and Marc Korman and District 16 State Sen. Susan Lee.
Taxi owners, drivers, lawmakers debate how to compete with Uber
With Uber and Lyft already taking a large amount of customers away from Montgomery County cab companies, both lawmakers and taxi owners are catching up to offer services to help the industry survive...“We need to figure out an app with the consumer in mind. If we look at it through the lens of the customer, then we can’t go wrong,” says Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner.
Pepco, Exelon Boost Customers Benefits in Takeover
Despite the enhanced package of benefits, opponents say the deal is still far from being in the public’s best interest. Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, a regulatory lawyer, said only drastic changes to the deal would satisfy the standard for approval. “If I were a betting man, I’d say this is not going to be approved in the absence of significant changes to this deal,” Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda said, adding, “I’ve lost bets before.”
March 6, 2015
- Berliner Wants New, Transit-Focused Transportation Director
Roger Berliner, chair of the Council’s Environment Committee, asked Harold VarmCouncilmember Roger Berliner says a new, more transit-focused director for the county’s Department of Transportation could be the key to realizing Montgomery’s bus rapid transit dreams. In a newsletter sent to email subscribers this week, Berliner said Leggett’s much-criticized attempt to create an Independent Transit Authority was the wrong step for trying to find that funding. “What we need most of all at this moment in time is to find a Director of our Department of Transportation that is a nationally recognized transit expert,” Berliner wrote. “We have not had that at DOT, and we absolutely need it. Instead of working around a road centric culture, let’s change the culture.”
March 3, 2015
- MoCo Looking For Experts To Address Whether Pesticide Concerns Are Valid
Roger Berliner, chair of the Council’s Environment Committee, asked Harold Varmus, director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute, if the agency could provide its expertise as the Council weighs a proposed ban of of “non-essential” lawn care pesticides. “My colleagues and I are not expert in such matters, and given that there is no major jurisdiction in the country to have adopted a comparable ban, we have few resources to call upon to provide us with the scientific guidance we need to evaluate the proposal before us,” Berliner wrote in a letter to Varmus on Tuesday. “Our Council and community would greatly benefit from understanding what the [National Cancer Institute's] research relating to pesticide exposure has concluded. Specifically, we seek your guidance as to whether the NCI believes that the exposures created by the use of pesticides for lawn care and on playing fields warrant further limitations beyond existing federal and state rules.”
February 27, 2015
- Privatization Of MoCo’s Alcohol Operation In The Spotlight
Complaints from restaurant owners about late and incomplete alcohol deliveries are one reason Montgomery County should get out of the alcohol distribution business, Councilmember Roger Berliner said Friday. “I really feel like we’ve got to get out of the way here,” Berliner said. “We are not providing a service to our community. We are providing a disservice to our community.”
February 26, 2015
- County Considers Buying Bethesda Land
Councilmember Roger Berliner has asked County Executive Ike Leggett to coordinate with members of county and state government to see if the county can submit a competitive bid for the WMAL transmitter site, which may cost nine figures according to some estimates. “I have urged our county executive to reach out to the school system, to our park system, to our state government, and see whether or not there is a way we could collectively come together to see whether or not this tract could meet the extraordinary number of needs we have in our down county and our county, period,” Berliner said.
February 25, 2015
- Montgomery's liquor monopoly is a failure
"Even with good people, with the best of intentions, trying to serve the consumer preferences of a million residents with one monopoly distributor is destined to fail. By almost every measure, our monopoly fails us. Residents drive to Virginia to buy alcohol; our restaurants complain of poor service and poor choice; microbreweries hesitate to locate here; and young and old spend entertainment dollars elsewhere that could be spent at home. These aren’t insignificant impacts."
February 24, 2015
- Councilmembers to Metro: Don't Raise Fares
Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen and Tom Hucker — the members who make up the Council’s Transportation Committee — on Tuesday urged the WMATA Board of Directors to ditch the idea of a 10-cent fare increase and service reductions.
February 12, 2015
- Lawmakers: Metro fare increase proposal comes at bad time
“Anything that undermines public confidence in our Metro system makes it more difficult to provide the level of public support Metro so obviously needs. That is particularly true in Maryland with a new governor who has made it clear that transit funding is not a top priority for him. Our entire region needs Metro to be at its very best. And, as this latest tragic incident underscores, that is most certainly not the case today,” says Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, who chairs the county’s committee on transportation and the environment.
February 3, 2015
- Leggett, Councilmember React to Starr's Resignation
Council member Roger Berliner, who represents Bethesda and Chevy Chase, said he regretted that Starr couldn’t obtain the votes from the school board he needed to keep his job. “I think our school system is extraordinarily complex and he inherited some significant sets of issues,” said Berliner, in an interview, “and while progress has been uneven, I thought there was progress.”
January 20, 2015
January 13, 2015
December 10, 2014
- Coalition Calls for Regulators to Tie Pepco-Exelon's Profits to New Standards
A group of elected leaders, green energy companies, local municipalities and others called for state regulators to tie half of Pepco’s financial returns to the power company’s ability to meet a host of new performance metrics. The Coalition for Utility Reform, which includes Councilmember Roger Berliner and former Gaithersburg Councilmember Ryan Spiegel as its counsel, filed its testimony to Maryland’s Public Service Commision on Tuesday.
December 4, 2014
November 25, 2014
- Berliner Says He Won't Vote for Westbard Plan if it doesn't Address School Issues
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner has promised the Westbard community in Bethesda he will not vote for proposed sector plan changes if they don’t “adequately address school facility issues.” Berliner made the promise in a November email newsletter that he sent to Bethesda and Chevy Chase constituents. He said he has met with local PTA officials as well as with county schools Superintendent Joshua Starr and encouraged them to be engaged in the Westbard planning process and to find creative solutions to school overcrowding issues.
November 19, 2014
October 29, 2014
- County Looks at Organic Option for Turf Fields
Councilmember Roger Berliner told MyMCMedia Wednesday that he plans to request projects move to an organic option. “We are standing on the future,” Berliner said while checking out the turf field. “There appears to be no downside.”
October 13, 2014
- Montgomery to consider alt-taxi rule changes
Councilman Roger Berliner said Thursday that he plans to draft legislation to regulate transportation network companies like Uber and also ease the regulations that cab companies say prevent fair competition in the market. “And our county should not be driving Uber and Lyft out of the county,” said Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda. “Instead, we should welcome the innovation, consumer satisfaction and driver incomes that they have created — and also provide appropriate safeguards. We can do both.”
October 2, 2014
- Montgomery pedestrians frustrated with construction-related sidewalk closures
Montgomery County council members are asking county officials to crack down on construction firms that close sidewalks around their projects for weeks on end, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street...“In other urban communities, they’ve found ways to do construction without taking away sidewalks,” said Montgomery Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda). “Why not here? Imagine if in New York City every time they did construction, they took away the sidewalk. I don’t think so.”
September 30, 2014
- Montgomery Council approves plan for public finance of local campaigns
Council members also lavished praise on Andrews for his perseverance on this bill and through his 16 years of council service. “This is a signature accomplishment,” said council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda). “When you get your teeth into something, you don’t let it go,” Berliner said. “We are in your debt, sir.”
September 18, 2014
- Md. utility reform coalition: Exelon-Pepco deal should be tied to higher standards
The petition, filed by Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) and Gaithersburg City Council member Ryan Spiegel, argues that the current power delivery system is broken, and that the merger “has profound implications for the state of Maryland.” “For the residents who have suffered through unacceptably poor service by Pepco throughout the years, this proceeding will determine our fate going forward for decades to come,” Berliner and Spiegel said.
September 11, 2014
- Montgomery County Council Requests Drone Policy
Members of the County Council’s public safety committee asked police and fire leaders this morning to create a policy governing the use of small drones by their departments. Councilmembers Marc Elrich and Roger Berliner were surprised the fire department has purchased three drones and the county’s innovation director also has a drone—even though county officials haven’t developed a policy on how they should be used.
September 5, 2014
- Official urges review of Montgomery County taxi rules
Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda sent a letter to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) on Thursday, saying that the county should look at its “antiquated” taxicab regulations and should make efforts to be more inviting to companies using new technology. “Now is the time to give our local taxis the ability to compete with new entrants, not wall off the new entrants,” Berliner wrote.
August 13, 2014
- Montgomery County eyes Bus Rapid Transit as gridlock reducer
By enticing single-occupant motorists to leave their cars at home and board a bus instead, the BRT system would flow unencumbered through consecutive green lights, completing the commute in a fraction of the usual time. "Our goal is to relieve congestion, not create congestion, and you do that by having a first-class transit system," said County Council member Roger Berliner, a BRT supporter.
July 17, 2014
- Six Takeaways from the Joint Montgomery and D.C. Council Transportation Meeting
Berliner, the chair of the Montgomery County Council transportation committee, organized the joint meeting and said afterward he couldn’t remember ever meeting with D.C. officials about shared transportation needs....Berliner said of Wednesday’s meeting, “We tapped into a mutual desire for both jurisdictions to totally align. Now we need to truly align."
July 15, 2014
- Oversight Report Could Provide Impetus for Liquor Department Reforms
The OLO report would look at DLC’s process for selecting certain brands, customer feedback, how beverage licensing relates to the nighttime economy and potential options to increase efficiency and improve service. “I came into the Council with a similar view, wondering what can we do about this, hearing the same kinds of concerns,” Councilmember Roger Berliner said.
June 18, 2014
- WSSC customers challenging high water bills need arbiter beyond utility, report says
The county agency began examining WSSC customer complaints in April, after County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) said he had heard from about 50 residents whose winter water bills were so unusually high they believed they had to be wrong. The 50 complaints were more than the county has received about WSSC bills over the past 30 years, according to a report by the consumer protection office sent to Berliner this week.
June 17, 2014
- Billing cycles, meter-reading problems may be behind WSSC's high water bills
In a statement released Monday, Berliner called for change. "As it stands, WSSC is the sole arbiter of whether a bill is correct. Consumers are clearly at a disadvantage and this needs to change. Accordingly, I will be working with our state delegation in the months ahead to create a fair and independent forum that will better serve our County's ratepayers."
June 10, 2014
June 5, 2014
May 19, 2014
- Berliner continues to look at WSSC bills
Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner is asking the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission for more information on why some customers have continued to get bills that are much higher than normal. Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda sent a letter to the chairman of the commission May 14 saying that he wants the commission to provide new information on what might be causing people to receive bills substantially higher than normal.
May 15, 2014
May 5, 2014
- Berliner Says Pepco Sale Should Require Improved Performance
Berliner asked members of the Council to support the resolution, which would ask the Maryland Public Service Commission not to approve Pepco’s $6.83 billion sale to Exelon unless the company makes “a firm commitment” to top quartile performance.
April 23, 2014
April 22, 2014
- Montgomery council steps up timeline for clean energy purchases
The bill requiring the change was sponsored by Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda, part of a package designed to help make Montgomery a leader in green energy and technology and fight climate change. Montgomery’s actions may not stop climate change single-handedly, but the county should do what it can, Berliner said before the council’s vote Tuesday on the package of seven bills and two zoning changes. April 22 is Earth Day. All nine measures were approved unanimously by the nine-member council.
April 2nd, 2014
- Montgomery Council Brings Official End to Battle Over Clarksburg’s Ten Mile Creek
"'This is a proud moment for our council,” [Councilmember Roger Berliner] said before the final vote. “We have reflected on the evidence, scientific and otherwise, and the evidence was overwhelming. The environmental experts all said essentially the same thing – this watershed is a treasure, it is fragile, and that even the little amount of development that has taken place in the headwaters has already harmed it.”
April 1st, 2014
- Westbard Sector Plan Could Start In July, Opening Door to Redevelopment
"'There weren’t plans to move forward and now we have somebody who is ready to move forward and somebody who has engaged the community,” Councilmember Roger Berliner (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) said. “There is always the concern of, ‘Oh my goodness, will they do too much?’ It isn’t the developer’s notion that is important. It is what our professional planners decide is important, then ultimately, it is what we decide is important.”
March 27th, 2014
- Purple Line-Affected Communities Pushing For Mitigation Promises
"Earlier this month, Councilmembers Roger Berliner (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) and Cherri Branson (Silver Spring) asked County Executive Isiah Leggett to create a formal task force including COPLN members that would deal with DOT, MTA and the MTA’s yet-to-be picked private concessionaire during the final design, construction and initial operation of the Purple Line."
- Parks Could Start Plowing Capital Crescent Trail Next Winter
"Montgomery Parks on Thursday said it could plow its part of the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda for less than $60,000 with a pilot program starting next winter. The cost estimate came in response to criticism from trail users and a request from Councilmember Roger Berliner after this winter’s many snowfalls left the heavily-used route impassable for days and even weeks after storms."
March 24th, 2014
- Berliner Goes After WSSC for High Bills
"After receiving many phone calls and emails last week from Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission customers complaining of high water bills – some documenting their bills being as much as eight times higher than normal – Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner says he isn’t content with the explanations given for the high bills."
March 19th, 2014
- Montgomery Council Addresses Snow Concerns
"Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda asked Keith Compton, chief of highway services for the county’s Department of Transportation, why the county couldn’t publicly list the priority of how roads are cleared, so residents know when to expect a plow in their neighborhoods. Compton said the department could consider making the information public."
March 18th, 2014
- Despite WSSC’s Answers, Questions Remain About High Water Bills
“Many residents report that the bill they received is nearly double, or in some cases, eight to ten times the amount of their typical bill,” Berliner wrote in his newsletter. “They are clearly angry and frustrated and I don’t blame them.” On March 11, Berliner sent a letter to the general manager of WSSC, asking to examine the causes for the high water bills."
March 12, 2014
- Berliner Asks For Investigation Into Expensive WSSC Bills
“The press release sent out today states that WSSC added an additional month on to the billing cycle due to several snow related events which made it difficult to read all the meters within the normal timeframe. While I understand that this may be true, the amount due on many residents’ bills far exceeds what one might expect for an additional thirty days of service.”
March 10, 2014
- Council Members Want Leggett’s Support For Purple Line Mitigation
Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Cherri Branson on Monday penned a letter to Leggett asking for his support for the Coalition of Purple Line Neighborhoods (COPLN), a group organized in December with concerns about noise, vibration, tree loss, tree replacement, pedestrian and traffic safety issues surrounding the Purple Line.
March 7, 2014
- PTA Parents, Students Use Lobbying Night To Push For More School Money in Annapolis
On the official PTA lobbying night in Annapolis, the estimated 250-350 people who rode buses and drove in from Montgomery County stressed their support for more state funding of school construction in MCPS. They wore mock yellow hard hats and went through talking point after talking point about why the county — growing at the rate of roughly 2,000 students a year — needs more state funding to address overcrowding schools.
March 5, 2014
- County Council Supports Scaling Back Future Development in Clarksburg
The Montgomery County Council cast a unanimous straw vote Tuesday for a compromise plan to allow some additional development on three large sites in Clarksburg, but not at the scale developers sought. The vote to support revising the 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan would cut impervious surfaces to about half that allowed in the original plan.
February 25, 2014
- Montgomery Councilman Wants To Improve County’s Snow Removal Plans
“The condition of the Capital Crescent Trail and its lack of maintenance following snow events is an issue of great concern to our residents who rely on our trail infrastructure for commuting purposes...[w]hile the trail is used by many residents for recreation, it also serves as a commuter route for people to get to work."
February 21, 2014
- Bethesda Girl Gets County To Build Pedestrian Path
"Even after the petition and a story on her effort in The Gazette, Lilah and her dad Michael hadn’t heard back. Michael Katz said he saw Councilmember Roger Berliner at a recent community meeting, Berliner got his staff involved and the process was jump-started."
February 11, 2014
January 21, 2014
January 8, 2014
June 19, 2013
June 19, 2013
- Exemptions Proposed to Montgomery County's Bag Tax
"I don't think it is working at department stores or that it will work at department stores, and I don't think the evidence supports that our streams are significantly threatened by bags from department stores and other retail establishments."
May 22, 2013
May 14, 2013
- Berliner Files Pleading for New Power System
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda) today filed a formal pleading with the state's Public Service Commission to implement a utility pilot program that would include power micro-grids and adjustable rates based on how a utility company performs.
March 25, 2013
March 19, 2013
March 19, 2013
- Chevy Chase Water Main Break Bigger Than First Reported
County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) says he will schedule a meeting of his Transportation & Environment Committee as soon as possible to delve into what went wrong with the Chevy Chase Lake Drive water main break.
March 13, 2013
February 14, 2013
February 8, 2013
February 5, 2013
January 31, 2013
January 30, 2013
January 17, 2013
December 14, 2012
December 5, 2012
- County Shows Off New Open Data Program
"This really does make a big difference in terms of what Montgomery County is, how we relate to our people, how we create economic opportunities, how we're democratizing economic opportunity by creating the basis for which every citizen can help us, help themselves and grow our economy."
December 4, 2012
December 3, 2012
November 27, 2012
November 26, 2012
November 8, 2012
October 26, 2012
October 8, 2012
- Montgomery Council President Seeks County Gas Tax Authority
"I've been a strong proponent of an increase in the statewide gas tax, but if Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore or other communities don't share that desire and we can't get that to pass, then I see no reason why Montgomery County shouldn't be able to go forward and have a gas tax of comparable nature."
October 4, 2012
October 3, 2012
September 28, 2012
- Montgomery County Retains AAA Bond Rating
"We have argued to Moody's that our community is no longer dependent as many are. We are a far more diverse economy. We have asked for the opportunity to make that case to them."
September 17, 2012
- Berliner to County Attorney: Re-Examine Purchasing Pepco
"The county should have the right to determine for itself, subject to a referendum, whether public power is both economically practical and a better option for meeting the needs of Montgomery County businesses and residents."
September 11, 2012
December 6, 2011
September 21, 2011
September 15, 2011
September 12, 2011
September 8, 2011
August 18, 2011
August 3, 2011
July 20, 2011
- Montgomery County Repeals Carbon Tax
"Defending Bill 29-10 is no longer legally feasible. Therefore it makes little sense for the county to continue to expend resources litigating this matter."
July 11, 2011
June 16, 2011
June 15, 2011
June 15, 2011
June 14, 2011
June 10, 2011
June 9, 2011
June 8, 2011
- Councilmembers Allege Board Lied About Budget
Ervin said she did meet with Barclay, Weast, council Vice President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac and council staff. During the meeting, Weast said the board would accept the level of funding for schools proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), perhaps by making changes in employee health care, she said.
June 1, 2011
May 27, 2011
- School Cuts a Big Part of Montgomery County Budget
Ervin, council Vice President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac and county school board President Christopher S. Barclay (Dist. 4) of Takoma Park have met over the past month to discuss the council's planned cuts and how to minimize the impact on students, Ervin said on Tuesday.
May 26, 2011
- Clowns, Heckling Meet MoCo Budget Approval
As Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner extended his thanks to Council President Valerie Ervin for her leadership during the budget process, the heckling started.
May 16, 2011
May 11, 2011
- Spare a Dime? Meter Increases in Montgomery County
"In the heart of Bethesda for example, we are about to construct a very big, expensive garage that's going to call upon us to issue bonds," Berliner says. "In order to issue bonds, we have to show that the parking lot district has a certain amount of revenue. We fell below that amount in the absence of raising rates just a bit."
May 4, 2011
May 4, 2011
May 4, 2011
- Montgomery Council Approves Bag Tax
"Council Vice President Roger Berliner of Potomac said the county recycles few plastic bags. Many, he said, end up as litter in the county's streams and rivers or along roads."
May 3, 2011
March 9, 2011
March 9, 2011
March 9, 2011
March 4, 2011
February 25, 2011
February 24, 2011
February 16, 2011
February 15, 2011
February 15, 2011
February 7, 2011
February 7, 2011
February 7, 2011
February 3, 2011
- Enough is Enough, Pepco
"Today I am going to call on the Maryland Public Service Commission to establish a restitution fund."
February 3, 2011
February 2, 2011
November 18, 2009
- Seniors Connect to Services at Health Forum
"The forum, also sponsored by the Montgomery County Commission on Aging, was themed 'Feeling Your Best at Any Age' and was designed to provide information on various topics and highlight resources available to the county's seniors."
November 10, 2009
November 6, 2009
August 13, 2009
- Berliner Looks Ahead
"Heading into an election year, Potomac's first-term County Councilman eyes challenges and a second term."
July 2, 2009
June 14, 2009
May 15, 2009
May 15, 2009
April 28, 2009
April 24, 2009
April 22, 2009
- Efforts Aimed at Boosting Tree Cover
"The Department of Environmental Protection is working with Councilmembers Berliner and Elrich on a proposal to expand the number of trees protected by county law."
April 15, 2009
April 9, 2009
April 7, 2009
- BRAC Road Projects Could Cost More Than $200M
"At this price, maybe other options come in to play," said Councilmember Berliner (D-Dist 1) of Potomac. He suggested a new rapid bus system from White Flint to downtown Bethesda as one solution.
March 11, 2009
- Elderly Targeted in Recent Robberies
United States Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac field questions for the audience at a Senior Forum, held Friday in Bethesda. Speakers addressed both financial and physical security, the latter coming to the forefront in recent months following a rash of crimes targeting the elderly.
February 18, 2009
- "Smart grid" technology may soon hit the suburbs
"The result should be fewer electricity outages, which has afflicted our homeowners and businesses for far too long,� said Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, a supporter of the pilot program.
February 11, 2009
- State takes a new look at Gude Landfill contamination
"This is not a situation where the community is being unreasonable," said Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac, a former environmental lawyer. "This is not a situation where the community is overreacting. This is a situation where the community has done us a favor."
February 9, 2009
- Bike trail for ICC may go unfinished
Here's what people like myself struggle with -- how can this be the environmental tipping point given what we are doing and the protections that are necessary?" A frustrated Councilmember Roger Berliner says. "And how can the costs be that much greater to add 15 feet on a six lane highway, in which we pledged to the community that we are going to make this piece connected?"
February 9, 2009
- MoCo official in hot seat for Hilton move
Councilman Roger Berliner, D-Potomac-Bethesda, questioned why the Montgomery and Maryland incentives package of $2.4 million was significantly smaller than the Fairfax and Virginia offer of $4.6 million. "To my perspective, this was critical, to play with our best foot forward," he said. "I don't feel we did."
February 9, 2009
- Pepco to launch smart grid concept
"The result should be fewer electricity outages, which has afflicted our homeowners and businesses for far too long, and produce lower utility bills," Berliner said.
January 28, 2009
- Council approves Purple Line rail
The County Council voted unanimously in favor of the Purple Line light rail project Tuesday, but also voted to request that the state examine using only one rail track in specific areas to minimize impacts on the Capital Crescent Trail. Councilman Roger Berliner, who proposed the vote on single-tracking that passed 5-3, said he wanted every possibility explored that could benefit and preserve the trail.
January 28, 2009
- Montgomery County Council backs Purple Line as light rail
Still, Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner held up a rendering of a tree-filled walking and biking trail next to a light rail train in Tuesday's meeting. "This representation needs to turn into reality," he said, "because this is the promise we are making to the people."
January 25, 2009
- Prospects dim for green project funds: Green Guru -- Roger Berliner
However, one program championed by Montgomery County Council's green guru, Councilman Roger Berliner, has survived congressional wrangling partially intact with the support of powerful Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Aside from being the fifth-ranking Democrat in the House, Van Hollen is also vice chairman of Congress, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus.
January 23, 2009
- Light rail gets support of council committee, Leggett
There is only one community that is making a significant sacrifice," said Berliner (D-Dist.1) of Potomac, explaining his focus on improving the trail in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area. He noted that the number of trail users would increase in future years.
January 15, 2009
Jan/Feb Issue of Bethesda Magazine
- Article in Bethesda Magazine "What I was meant to do"(pdf (opens in new window)
Politics is his passion: "Always, a part of me said, "This is what I was meant to do. I would've lived a life of regret if I didn't stand for office. I love being a legislator. I'm a creature of the legislative process. It's what I know in my bones. I like tackling big issues. I like the public policy debate. I like the strategy involved. I like the negotiations. I like all of it."