Montgomery in Focus Masthead
November 2012


Election Information

Remember, the five Early Voting Centers are now open 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. through November 2 to make up for the storm-related closure. You can stop by any of these locations to vote early:

~ Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Drive, Rockville

~ Germantown Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown

~ Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville

~ Montgomery County Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville

~ Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veteran’s Plaza, Silver Spring

Whether you vote early or on November 6, please vote for Question B. A vote for Question B is a vote that lets the Police Chief run the department in the most efficient and productive way and still protects the full range of collective bargaining enjoyed by all other police unions across the state and all other County unions.  We (the County Council and County Executive) are all pro-labor, and we unanimously repealed effects bargaining because we thought it was right for our public safety. Our decision does not affect the continued right of the union to bargain wages, hours, working conditions and benefits on behalf of their members.

Need for Infrastructure to Support Bikeshare

Nancy Floreen on a bicycle I recently asked Acting Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, Darrell Mobley, to do all he can to improve bicycle infrastructure, including creating dedicated bike lanes, in Montgomery County.

I explained our plans for a bikeshare program and gave him a list of improvements that the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has asked for.

The Maryland Department of Transportation contributed $1,008,000 to the pending bikeshare program in the areas of Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring. I'd like them to go further and make real improvements on the ground that I think will really create a safe environment for local bicyclists.

What do you think? Are you ready to bike?

See the complete text of the letter.


Town Hall Meeting in Potomac November 7

Phil Andrews, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen and Roger BerlinerWhat's on your mind? Join us for a Town Hall Meeting at the Potomac Community Recreation Center on Wednesday, November 7 at 8:00 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 7:30 p.m. The Potomac Community Recreation Center is located at 11315 Falls Road in Potomac.

Topics are up to you. This is your chance to voice your opinions on specific issues that matter to you and ask questions of us in an organized but informal setting.

We will tape the meeting for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). Susan Kenedy, a producer for the County station, will moderate the meeting.

For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.


Protect Yourself When Making Repairs After the Storm

Luckily, our damage was not as bad as it was after June's derecho, but some of you may have problems nonetheless, so here are a few tips.

Remember to be cautious when hiring contractors to repair damage caused by the storm and to do your homework before signing a contract for any home repair or improvement, or tree service work.

The Office of Consumer Protection offers the following advice to homeowners:

~ Do not panic and hire someone because they are the only company that can come out to the house right away. Make sure the home improvement contractor is licensed with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission by calling 410-230-6309. Also, make sure the contractor is familiar with and has expertise in repairing the type of damage that your house has sustained, such as roofing or foundation repair.

~ For tree service or removal, check to see if the business is a licensed tree expert with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Division at 410-260-852. If a licensed company is used, there is a complaint process through the Department of Natural Resources. If an unlicensed company is used, it is often impossible to track down the company, particularly if they have been paid in advance. In addition, consumers should ask to see written verification of the company’s insurance and workers compensation coverage.

~ Get estimates from three contractors. Some fraudulent contractors will capitalize on the situation and overcharge consumers or lead them to believe the damage is worse than it really is. State law requires a written contract for any work completed. A home improvement contract should include the terms and conditions of the warranty. The manufacturer’s warranty should be a separate, written document. The contract must also include: the contractor’s name, address and home improvement license number; the approximate starting and finishing dates; and a description of the work to be done and materials to be used.

~ State law prohibits home improvement contractors from collecting more than one-third of the contract amount as a deposit. If the contract is signed in your home, the contract must allow the consumer three days in which to cancel the contract. Under emergency situations only, the consumer may waive this three-day right to cancel, but must sign a special form to do so.

~ Check the contractors’ complaint records with the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636.


Current Vacancies on Boards, Committees and Commissions

We currently have vacancies for four boards, committees and commissions.

We’re seeking applicants for a partial term on the County Board of Appeals. This was held by Walter Booth (Democrat), who passed away shortly after being appointed to his second term on the board. Duties of the Board of Appeals include making decisions on most applications for special exceptions as provided in the Zoning Ordinance; hearing and deciding requests for variances from development standards contained in the Zoning Ordinance; and hearing appeals from certain administrative decisions rendered by county government agencies. The deadline is December 5. See the full announcement.

Apply by November 28 to the citizens’ advisory committee to study compensation of the County’s elected officials. The County Council believes that there is a need to examine present compensation levels for the Sheriff, the State’s Attorney, the County Executive and members of the County Council. See the full announcement.

Apply by November 15 to the Council’s Grants Advisory Group. We will appoint the volunteer community panel to review grant applications and advise it on proposals received from the non-profit community. The Council believes that a strong partnership with non-profit organizations is critical in meeting the County’s needs, so we have established a grants process in which the Council accepts applications from non-profit organizations seeking funds, forwards proposals to the Grants Advisory Group for advice and comments and then makes funding decisions during our spring budget deliberations. See the full announcement.

We’re taking applications for appointment to a three-year term on the Merit System Protection Board. Generally, the board is expected to oversee the Merit System and to protect employee and applicant rights guaranteed under the County Merit System. Get your application in by November 7. See the full announcement.


Fast Fact

I’m a huge history buff, so I want to draw your attention to a fabulous local documentary. Life in a War Zone: Montgomery County during the Civil War chronicles the harrowing four-year period when troops from both sides of the war traveled through Montgomery County and when local sympathies varied widely. You will see lots of familiar places and hear many familiar names throughout the program. How good is Life in a War Zone? So good it won an Emmy. We will recognize Heritage Montgomery for this terrific achievement with a County Council proclamation on November 13. Check the listings to watch the program on County Cable Montgomery, or click here to see it on demand.


Green Tip of the Month

fallen treeYou can dispose of tree debris or branches as follows:

On private property:

~ Tree debris on private property will be collected on your regular recycling day if it is no more than four-feet in length and four inches in diameter.

~ Bag or bundle tree branches and limbs or place them in containers, keeping bundles less than 45 pounds and less than 30 inches in diameter.

~ Tree debris (up to 500 pounds) that is too large for curbside collection, or cannot be bagged, bundled, or placed in containers can be recycled at no charge to single family home residents at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station, located at 16101 Frederick Road, Derwood.

~ Another option is to contact a private company, such a tree service, landscaping or lawn service, for assistance in removing and disposing of storm debris. The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection cautions homeowners against using unlicensed home improvement contractors.

~ You may want to check with your home insurance company, which may cover storm debris removal and disposal.

In the public right-of-way:

~ Montgomery County Department of Transportation crews collect trees and branches that have fallen into the public right-of-way.

~ To report tree debris in the public right-of-way, call 311 (or 240-777-0311 from a cell phone).

If live wires are entangled in a tree, a tree is blocking a roadway, the tree is on a structure or if anyone is trapped under a fallen tree, call 911.


Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.