Andrew in the News

County Council might spend $20M more on rental assistance
July 22, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
The appropriation was a joint effort with the executive branch, the council and outside organizations, Council Member Andrew Friedson said. “This was an area where we put aside our individual need to get credit to just get something done,” he said, calling it a robust response to a massive challenge. “It’s nowhere near enough to what the need really is in our community and the challenge facing our residents who don’t know what they’re going to do about their next rent payment,” he said.

Council approves enhanced strategy for COVID-19 testing
July 21, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Another amendment included clarifying that the county has spent $4 million of the $20 million designated for testing, not $1 million as the original regulation listed when it was drafted. Riemer said the council was not informed about the additional $3 million in spending until Tuesday. Council Member Andrew Friedson said he’d like a detailed analysis of the spending for testing.

Montgomery Co. resolutions: Vote-by-mail, eviction protections, Indigenous Peoples Day
July 21, 2020 - WTOP
The council also introduced a measure to approve a special appropriation of $20 million for COVID-19 response, including money for rental assistance and the prevention of evictions. A public hearing for that plan is scheduled for July 28. Council member Andrew Friedson said of the plan, “This was an area where we all decided to put aside our individual need to get credit.” He credited his colleagues and County Executive Marc Elrich’s office for moving ahead with a plan to help those who most need it.

Council, Elrich want change to property-tax process, but support different methods
July 20, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council President Sidney Katz and Council Members Andrew Friedson, Nancy Navarro, Gabe Albornoz, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer are lead sponsors and cosponsors of the council’s proposal. At the council’s meeting on Tuesday, Friedson said the council’s proposal would replace a “complex and confusing calculation each year based on arbitrary exceptions.” “It establishes a tax policy that reflects how tax rates are actually understood in reality based on the existing rate from the previous year,” he said. “It would align county revenues with economic growth so we could actually sufficiently grow the tax base without growing tax rates. Make no mistake, the charter limit isn’t designed to limit tax increases. It is specifically designed to discourage growth.”

Montgomery Council considers tax break to bring housing to Metro stations
July 9, 2020 - WUSA9
"We don't have enough housing in Montgomery County, the housing shortage is a crisis," said Friedson. "We don't want deals to continue to fall by the wayside and housing to be left in pretty pictures and rendering, we need housing to actually be built," said Friedson. "Right now the WMATA sites leave a hole in communities, we want these to be a hub for communities," said Friedson. 

Local Leaders Slam Hogan for Rejecting Universal Mail-In-Ballots in November
July 8, 2020 - Montgomery Community Media
Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson tweeted that voting should be “as easy as possible.” “And we need to follow the consensus of local elections experts and public health officials” Friedson tweeted.

County Council approves $14M for reopening grants, but split on details
July 8, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Members Andrew Friedson, Hans Riemer and Will Jawando said they thought the grant process would be slowed by requiring county employees to determine whether previously awarded grants received by a business or nonprofit were used for reopening costs. It would require an audit of certain applicants. Friedson said the change was a solution for figuring out how to administer the programs as “efficiently and fairly as possible.” No businesses are being excluded, he said, but would instead not be allowed to simultaneously apply for the reopening grants and an industry-specific grant program. “Some of that funding in those different programs could be used for reopening,” he said. “So there is an overlap there. This funding is maxed out at $5,000 [per qualified awardee]. The funding for those programs is significantly more.”...Friedson said he “strongly” disagreed with the perspective and suggestion that the requirement was proposed to prevent “double dipping.” The proposed change was a technical suggestion from the county’s administrative staff members and was a reasonable request, he said. “The issues of double-spending of taxpayer dollars and the auditing challenges and the administration challenges were the impetus for the request from the executive branch,” Friedson said.

Councilmembers Want Property Tax Exemptions for High-Rise Developers at Metro Stations
July 6, 2020 - Montgomery Community Media
“Do we want these sites to be places for parking or we want these sites to be places for people?” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who is co-leading the bill with Riemer. “Every Metro site is a gateway into the communities in which they’re located. And what do you see when you enter a gateway? Here you see a bunch of cars. How much better to see a lot of people? How much better to see activity? How much better to see the places where people live, where they recreate, where they socialize…?” he said. 

A Confederate statue is toppled in rural Maryland, then quietly stored away
July 4, 2020 - The Washington Post
In liberal Montgomery, people defaced and took down the White’s Ferry statue, as well as a grave marker for 17 Confederate soldiers in Silver Spring. County Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), whose district includes White’s Ferry, called on County Executive Marc Elrich (D) to review all the streets in the county and rename those that bear the names of Confederate soldiers. “The last thing — the absolute last thing — that I want visitors to see when they cross the river into Montgomery County is a Confederate statue,” said Friedson, 33.

County announces private donations to help with food insecurity
June 27, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Member Andrew Friedson said in an interview that the council hopes that $5 million will be raised in private donations. He encouraged residents to donate individually on the community foundation’s website. “They are accepting large contributions that you heard today… but it’s also setting up an opportunity for every resident who has the opportunity to give a little. Everybody can give $25, $50, whatever they’re capable of doing,” he said.

Montgomery County Residents Can Request 'Slow Streets' In Their Neighborhood During Pandemic
June 25, 2020 - WAMU
Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who represents the western edge of the county, said the government often finds reasons why things are impossible. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way…here we just got it done,” Friedson said during the meeting, citing the work of MCDOT and community input. Friedson says he’s been to the Bethesda streatery nearly every day; he believes they’re operating safely and creating a new sense of community and placemaking, while also promoting safe economic activity.

Montgomery County Council Funds Food, Youth Programs
June 24, 2020 - Montgomery Community Media
Also at its Tuesday council meeting, members adopted a bill designed to increase the number of local businesses that receive county contracts. The local business preference program would give a 10 percent price preference for a local business bidding on a contract or an evaluation factor worth 10 percent of the total points for a local business that submits a proposal. “Supporting local businesses that employ our friends and neighbors is always important, especially now,” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson. “This is a chance to direct our county tax dollars to the local employers who pay county taxes, sustain our county economy, and fund our county services,” according to Friedson.

Council might spend $14M on grants to help businesses, nonprofits reopen
June 22, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Member Andrew Friedson said the grants will help businesses adhere to the county’s and state’s guidelines for reopening. “This is focused on safely reopening and the fact that our employers and their employees have to adjust to a new normal in order to get their businesses up and running, and keep their workers and their customers safe,” he said. “This will help them do that. It’s not going to solve every problem, but it’s going to solve many problems.”

Council members say changes coming on police funding
June 22, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Member Andrew Friedson agreed with the need to focus on the right cuts. “I believe that there should be prioritization in the cuts that are proposed and we should make sure we’re not harming our most vulnerable and putting [them] at risk — needs that are critical, especially at this moment,” he said. The council has received more than 3,000 emails from residents commenting on the idea of “defunding the police,” Friedson said. “The conversations are not just about moving money out of the police department and into other parts of the budget, but also within the police department,” he said.

Mayors urge county to share federal aid for pandemic response
June 19, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Member Andrew Friedson said Tuesday that the county needs to improve communication with municipal officials. It’s not right for the county to provide no funding, he said. “Clearly, the municipal partners don’t feel like they’ve been communicated with and don’t feel comfortable with the process we’ve set forth,” he said. “I think we do need to make a change in how we do that.” In a report, county staff members suggested a strategy for future spending that would have allowed the executive branch to decide how to use the funds. Council members rejected the idea of allowing the executive branch to determine allocations, and said the council should make all appropriations. “The council is the appropriator of the funds,” Friedson said. “I’d have concerns that we would be ceding our appropriation authority to the county executive, which I found to be inappropriate.”

Council Pushes to Change Streets Named After Confederates
June 19, 2020 - Montgomery Community Media
“When we name a street or a building, we are not merely reflecting history. We are using our public funding and assets to bestow a high honor. These public tributes should appropriately reflect the entirety of our community and our values,” says a June 15 letter spearheaded by Councilmember Andrew Friedson...In an email to MyMCMedia, Friedson said at least four streets in Potomac are named after Confederates and landmarks. The streets are Jubal Early Court, Jeb Stuart Road, Jeb Stuart Court and White’s Ford Road...Friedson said these streets were not named around the Civil War period. They were named in the mid-twentieth century, during the Civil Rights Movement...Friedson said as Montgomery County works to dismantle structural and institutional racism, it needs to also target symbols that normalize racism. The Confederacy fought to protect the institution of slavery and committed treason against the United States. Public streets and facilities honoring Confederate figures simply have no place in Montgomery County.”

Montgomery County considers removal of landmarks named after Confederate figures
June 18, 2020 - WDVM
Council member Andrew Friedson said, “These are not named by accident. This wasn’t some coincidence in history. This was done deliberately. This was done by choice. The names of several streets; the purpose of this effort is to do it in a much more comprehensive way, to have it be a public process. To have this conversation and to move forward from it.”

Montgomery County council looks to rename streets, facilities named after Confederates
June 18, 2020 - Fox 5 DC
“Facilities that are open to the public, that are paid for by the public, and that are owned by the public should reflect that public,” Councilmember Andrew Friedson said.

County Council says clearer guidance needed for reopening second phase
June 17, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Member Andrew Friedson suggested that the county publish a chart that shows the guidance from the state and the county regarding activities, so people can clearly see the differences. Many people could be getting mixed information of what’s allowed because the county is behind most of the rest of the state, he said. “I do think it is helpful to make sure that we’re as clear and consistent as possible and that it’s guidance that’s easy to understand and for residents and businesses to comply with,” he said. “Ultimately, we could come up with perfect guidance but unless we can explain it to folks in an easy-to-absorb and [understandable] way, it doesn’t really do what it needs to do, which is keep people safe.”

Montgomery County Council wants to find, eliminate all Confederate names from signs
June 16, 2020 - WJLA ABC7
“This isn’t about relics of history,” said council member Andrew Friedson (D – District 1). “These are high honors that are being provided. They don’t just reflect what happened before.” “Facilities that are open to the public, that are paid for by the public, and that are owned by the public, should reflect that public.” In Friedson’s district, there are at least three streets in neighborhoods off Montrose Road in Potomac named for Confederate generals – two for J.E.B. Stuart, and one for Jubal Early. Although Maryland was technically neutral during the Civil War, it was a state where slavery was legal and where there were many residents who sympathized with the Confederacy. But the street names in Friedson’s district don’t go back to the Civil War – residents say their neighborhood was built in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement.

Local leaders working to 'fix policing in Maryland'
June 16, 2020 - WTOP
Friedson, meanwhile, told his colleagues, “This has been a really good example of challenging anger into action.”

Council wants to rename streets, buildings that honor Confederate soldiers
June 16, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
The Montgomery County Council has asked Executive Marc Elrich and Planning Department Chairman Casey Anderson to review the names of all county-owned streets and public facilities to determine which are named after Confederate soldiers “or those who otherwise do not reflect Montgomery County values.” In a letter, all nine council members ask for all streets and facilities that Elrich and Anderson identify to be renamed through a public process, in a “manner that more appropriately reflects the community to which they belong.” The letter does not identify any possible facilities that need to be renamed. But in an email on Tuesday morning, Aaron Kraut, a staff member for Council Member Andrew Friedson, wrote that three streets in Potomac — Jeb Stuart Road, Jubal Early Court and Jeb Stuart Court — are possible targets. Stuart and Early were Confederate Army generals.

Racist Graffiti Painted At Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School
June 13, 2020 - DCist
Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson called this weekend's incident “completely unacceptable and yet another reminder of how far we have to go to be a truly accepting and inclusive community.”

Racist graffiti discovered at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda: n-word, image of noose
June 13, 2020 - WJLA ABC 7
Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) represents Bethesda, among several other towns. In a tweet issued Saturday afternoon, Friedson called the graffiti a "hateful and disgusting racist act." "Completely unacceptable and yet another reminder of how far we have to go to be a truly accepting and inclusive community," Friedson tweeted.

Bethesda 'Streetery' draws weekend crowd as Montgomery County waits to announce phase 2 reopening
June 12, 2020 - Fox 5 DC
The county is taking some time getting into phase 2 of its reopening. It’s something that council member Andrew Friedson said he’s aware, some people have criticized the county for.  “We are trying to reopen just as fast as the public health experts think is safe to do so,” Friedson said.  “We are not going to start loosening restrictions when we get to zero but what we want to see is the key metrics that we have published.”  It wasn’t immediately clear how long the streetery concept will last until Elrich makes another announcement expected next week, regarding phase 2.  In the meantime, Friedson said Norfolk Avenue is being envisioned as a pedestrian street which the county plans to move forward with very soon.

County will consider $10M to help child care businesses reopen
June 12, 2020 - Bethesda Beat
Council Member Andrew Friedson said at the meeting that child care programs and centers always operate with financially challenging circumstances — even in the “best of times.” “We literally cannot reopen our economy and cannot get back anywhere close to the economic standards that support our quality of life and fund our county government and public services, unless we can get child care right,” he said.

$10 Million Appropriation Introduced to Help Child Care Programs Financially Recover
June 10, 2020 - Montgomery Community Media
While child care businesses in Montgomery County continue to suffer financially from COVID-19, a newly introduced special appropriation could provide the industry with funds to reopen.  Montgomery County councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer and Andrew Friedson introduced a special appropriation of $10 million in an effort to assist child care businesses suffering financial losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Northern Virginia to ease coronavirus restrictions Friday; Northam says students will return to school this fall
June 9, 2020 - The Washington Post
Among the most positive indicators is the decrease in the county’s test positivity rate, which is about 9 percent as of Tuesday, down from a high of 30 percent at the peak of the crisis. Acute care bed utilization rate is the indicator that has been “holding us back,” said County Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), with the number of beds in use falling below 70 percent only four times in the past two weeks.

Blake Freshman Sings His Way Through First Round of America's Got Talent
June 4, 2020 - Montgomery Community Media
The second day of auditions for the 15th season of America’s Got Talent aired Wednesday night, during which Blake High School freshman Kelvin Dukes wowed with his singing voice.  The 14-year-old Burtonsville native was met with a standing ovation for his rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” He received four “yes”es which moved him on to the next round.  Many sent support for Dukes on social media, including Montgomery County Councilmembers Andrew Friedson and Evan Glass. " So thrilled to see local singing sensation Kelvin Dukes lighting up the @AGT stage and sharing his remarkable talent with the world. Thinking back when he gave me chills as I listened to him perform at our Countywide MLK Day Celebration “Children of the Dream.” He’s a super star!"

Bethesda reopening might include street closures for restaurant seating
Bethesda Beat - May 26, 2020
County Council Member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes Bethesda, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat on Tuesday that he has been discussing the idea of closing down streets with BUP and the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce. People must “adjust to the new normal” once the immediate public health emergency is over, he wrote. “Customers and employees must be kept safe as local businesses are allowed to reopen. There will also be lingering reluctance from customers to patronize restaurants due to ongoing health concerns,” he wrote. “This is one way we can demonstrate to businesses that we recognize the new normal, help residents and employees stay safe, and help businesses keep the lights on.”

Comptroller Offers Council Support to Extend COVID-19 Alcohol Provisions
Source of the Spring - May 26, 2020
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot has lent his support to a County Council request that the state extend the alcohol delivery and carryout provisions allowed during the COVID-19 emergency, according to a post on the comptroller's Facebook page The council, in a letter spearheaded  by Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), requested the governor to extend the order to allow the state legislature to consider how to make it permanent. “Even after the State of Emergency is lifted, the service industry will continue to suffer the lingering effects on consumer confidence, along with a likely continued reluctance for residents to patronize restaurants due to ongoing public health concerns,” the council wrote.


County Council urges governor, comptroller to keep allowing alcohol delivery, takeout

Bethesda Beat - May 22, 2020
“Thousands across the state would have had to shut their doors in the early part of this health crisis,” Friedson said. “They have consistently said — and raised consistent issues with — what happens when the state of emergency ends?”...“It is critical that we do not attempt to return to the old normal at a time that requires all of us in the public and private sectors to adapt to the reality of a new normal,” the council wrote in the letter. Friedson told Bethesda Beat that people might not immediately return to restaurants once a reopening phase begins. With high levels of unemployment, people also might not spend as much as they used to at businesses, he said. “This is an industry that has been hit among the hardest … and will continue to feel the lasting and lingering impacts of the public health emergency,” he said, adding that extending the provision would add relief.

Montgomery set to approve $5.9 billion budget that maintains 'continuity of operations'
The Washington Post - May 20, 2020
Lawmakers in Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction approved a $5.9 billion budget for fiscal 2021 on Thursday that maintains existing spending levels and tax rates. In the face of projected revenue shortfalls linked to the coronavirus crisis, the Montgomery County Council trimmed about $70 million from the budget proposed by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) in March, rejecting large spending increases...The proposed budget “wasn’t fiscally responsible and it wasn’t legally balanced,” said County Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1). “It forced [the council] effectively to start from scratch.”

UPDATED: County will post reopening benchmarks updates in 'next day or so,' county official says
Bethesda Beat - May 20, 2020
Friedson wrote in the memo that some of the benchmarks are “amorphous.” He said certain aspects of the targets need to be defined and tracked, such as the coronavirus-like and influenza-like illnesses in the health care system. Friedson also wrote that the last benchmark is not well-defined and the determination of whether the item has been met “seems quite subjective.” “When lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening a business is at stake, the county’s metrics must be objective and easily explainable to the public,” he wrote.

Council divided on whether to reject position to improve communication with executive
Bethesda Beat - May 20, 2020
Friedson said Tuesday that he didn’t support creating the new liaison position under a “continuity of services” framework that the county has followed in forming the budget for the next fiscal year. “Continuity of services” refers to preserving current programs and not including new ones...
Friedson said the communication problem stems from a leadership issue, not a resource issue. “Clearly, there is a problem but this is not the appropriate solution,” he said.

Council members support restoring staff positions to their offices
Bethesda Beat - May 18, 2020
In a text message on Friday, Friedson told Bethesda Beat that he didn’t feel it was the right time to add staff members. “I agree with my colleagues that there are increasing demands on council staff who are taking on ever increasing responsibility to meet the complex needs of our growing county before and especially during this crisis, but I just didn’t feel it was the right time in this environment to add new positions to the Council budget,” he wrote. “I’m deeply grateful to our amazing staff who are working tirelessly every day, and very much respect my colleagues and appreciate their reasons for feeling differently.”

Local 1994 to protest outside Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer's Takoma Park home
WJLA - May 15, 2020
Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) and Councilmember Craig Rice (D-District 2) also spoke in sharp terms about what they believed was an irrational and tone-deaf budget. “I think the county executive proposed, what I consider to be, the most flagrantly irresponsible budget... one that was not balanced, and one that we legally could not pass with negative appropriations, questionable recalculations without transparency and accountability, and without a recognition... of the moment that we were in," Friedson noted.

Council adds $1.25M to telework grants for small businesses, nonprofits
Bethesda Beat - May 14, 2020
Council Member Andrew Friedson said the lottery adds fairness to the program. “[These funds] will allow them to continue the lotteries that are done at random,” he said. “Anybody who has applied over the course of the week has access to be randomly selected if they are preapproved.”

Council votes no on employee raises next year due to budget shortfalls
Bethesda Beat - May 13, 2020
Friedson said the council has had to address the most “flagrantly irresponsible budget that has been proposed in the county.” “Unfortunately, the county executive has put us in a deeply difficult and uncomfortable position and I think he’s done this council no favors. I think he’s done our public sector employees no favors,” he said. He criticized the fact that Elrich shared his savings plan the morning before the council was to discuss major budget items. Friedson said the council requested such a plan for the last 10 weeks. The county is pursuing a line of credit because it’s projecting revenue shortfalls of up to $600 million — an action to prepare for an unprecedented fiscal climate, Friedson said. The council has not received a plan for savings “until just a moment ago,” he said.

County Council supports keeping tax rate roughly the same
Bethesda Beat - May 12, 2020
Council Member Andrew Friedson said he was also troubled that the recalculation of the charter limit was proposed without a public debate. Public policy means public input, he said. “To recalculate 30 years of precedent without a significant public debate and a transparent and thoughtful conversation with public input is deeply disturbing and very troubling to me as a lifelong Montgomery County resident,” he said. “It is simply not the way that we do business here.”

Thank a Nurse During National Nurses Day
Montgomery Community Media - May 6, 2020
In a tweet, Friedson described nurses as “fearless, dedicated, compassionate.”  Councilmember Andrew Friedson honored LeighAnn Sidone, Chief Nursing Officer at Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda, as a Local COVID Hero who stepped up during this pandemic.

SBN's First at Home Episode Features Councilmember Friedson
Montgomery Community Media - May 5, 2020

Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson joined Kelly Leonard for Montgomery Community Media’s first Small Business Network At Home edition.  The series of monthly morning sessions facilitated by Kelly Leonard addresses topics of interest to small business owners in Montgomery County.  Watch a video of their discussion recorded via Zoom here.

$250K Approved For Teleworking Relief In Montgomery County
Patch.com - May 1, 2020 
Montgomery County lawmakers have unanimously approved $250,000 in emergency grants for businesses and nonprofits that have implemented teleworking programs during the coronavirus pandemic. Councilmember Andrew Friedson — who sits on the county's economic development committee — spearheaded this special appropriation, which was sponsored by the entire council.

Montgomery County Council funds $54.9 million trail tunnel in downtown Bethesda
Washington Post - May 1, 2020
Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), whose district includes downtown Bethesda, said the less expensive option would result in a trail too steep for children and seniors. “This is going to be the infrastructure we have in our community to connect east and west for decades and decades to come,” Friedson said.

County considers $6M more to support struggling residents, businesses, nonprofits

Bethesda Beat - April 28, 2020
Council Member Andrew Friedson said there was a discrepancy between the council’s intent and the draft of the grant program versus the ways the county’s administration interpreted it in requiring applicants to demonstrate a 50% revenue loss for the telework grants. “We didn’t want this competing with the funding we’ve already appropriated,” Friedson said at the meeting. “We didn’t want this to be caught up in the challenges the administration has had with figuring out how to calculate the losses.”

Montgomery County adds $5M to grant fund to help restaurants, retail
Bethesda Beat - April 21, 2020
Council Member Andrew Friedson said all the financial assistance for small businesses and nonprofits from local, state and federal funds is not sufficient. “I think at every level of government, we recognize that what we put forward to begin this process is not sufficient to meet the dramatic, unprecedented challenges that we face,” he said at the meeting. “This is going to be part of a broader holistic view, as Council Member Navarro mentioned, of our first step, but not the only step, to help us get through this at the county level, the state level and the federal level.”...a “fatal flaw” of the program is that businesses were required to demonstrate a 50% loss in March. By the time businesses can demonstrate losses for April and May, the program funds will be depleted, she said. Friedson said he and County Executive Marc Elrich, who has concerns about the 50% loss requirement, would discuss it. “I understand that the $25 million grant fund is a lot of money, especially during this time of uncertain tax revenue. But it will not go far enough,” Balcombe said. “The current funds will be given to a very small sliver of businesses, leaving the majority of businesses struggling to survive. We will need a second wave of financial support for businesses, not only to keep people employed, but to get our local economy back on track.”

Montgomery County could lose up to $600 million in tax revenue from pandemic
Bethesda Beat - April 16, 2020
Council Member Andrew Friedson said it was “staggering” that Elrich had not sent revised budget requests or a savings plan yet. He said he wasn’t sure a “same service” budget would be likely. “We have yet to get significant information or even broad signaling of where the executive is on these issues,” he said....Several council members noted the inclusion of the proposed budget’s assumption of $10 million in savings without a detailed explanation of where those savings would come from...Friedson referred to the figure as a “phantom negative appropriation.” “Hoping for cuts is not a strategy. Asking for cuts to be made at a later date or for efficiencies to be found at a future time is not an appropriate way to pass a budget,” he said. “It is not an appropriate or legal way to move forward as we have to make these tough decisions.”

MoCo weighs $5M more for coronavirus relief. But the county has yet to deliver its first $20M.
Washington Business Jornal - April 14, 2020
The county has yet to distribute any of the funds it’s earmarked to help local businesses, despite establishing the grant program two weeks ago. A county webpage lays out requirements for businesses, in order to help them prepare for when applications become available, but the delays have left some council members puzzled. “I want to express my deep disappointment about the delay in getting the full $20 million out as quickly as possible,” said Councilman Andrew Friedson, D-District 1. “I’m a little uncomfortable that we’re appropriating additional funding for a program that the executive branch still has not been able to get up and running."

Five Things to Know for April 10 in Montgomery County
Montgomery Community Media - April 10, 2020
Today is Friday, April 10 and here are five things to know in Montgomery County.
Pollard, Friedson Discuss COVID-19’s Impact on Students: Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson are discussing how the county and college are meeting the needs of students and residents during the coronavirus pandemic. The discussion will be streamed on  Montgomery College’s Facebook  at 10 a.m.
Virtual Friday with Friedson:   Councilmember Andrew Friedson hosts a discussion with health and wellness professionals today at 11:30 a.m. Speakers include Kaiser Permanente Workforce Health Consultant Priya Saha, EveryMind Chief Executive Officer Ann Mazur and Montgomery Parks Director Michael Riley. The discussion will be streamed on Friedson’s  Facebook Live . Or individuals may join the discussion by phone at 443-692-5768, input 946 260 872# when prompted.


County Council Asking Residents for Testimony About FY21 Operating Budget

Montgomery Community Media - April 9, 2020
The Montgomery County Council is asking residents to give testimony about County Executive Marc Elrich’s recommended  Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget The council will hold two remote  public hearings on Thursday, April  16 at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Residents can give live testimony during the hearing through phone call, and can call 240-777-7803 to sign up by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. People can also give pre-recorded testimony  online, whether it be written, audio or video. Pre-recorded testimony submitted online won’t be shown during the hearing, but it will be reviewed by councilmembers and put on the council’s web page for public viewing. 

County Council Approves $20 Million Fund for Grants to Businesses Hurt by COVID-19
Montgomery Community Media - April 1, 2020
The Montgomery County Council approved $20 million for the Public Health Emergency Grant program, which grants businesses and non-profits up to $75,000 each to cover COVID-19-related financial burdens... “The urgent need for our local employers to be able to receive this funding as quickly as possible to keep the lights on is absolutely paramount,” Councilmember Andrew Friedson said about the bill during the council session. 

With the number of collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles on the rise, can Montgomery County make streets safer for everyone?
March 30, 2020 -  “We have a ‘blame the victim’ culture, and even today we quickly get into the discussion [when] there’s a collision: Was it the pedestrian’s fault or was it the driver’s fault? Was it the bicyclist’s fault or the driver’s fault?” Friedson says. Vision Zero is “the idea it’s not about the people, it’s about the policies. It’s about the engineering of the road.”... county lawmakers also are pushing for legislative solutions. Friedson has asked the county’s Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate policies concerning trash and recycling collections and amend collection contracts with private vendors to prohibit the placement of trash and recycling bins in any part of a public right-of-way. The request followed the death of 17-year-old Winston Churchill High School student Jake Cassell, who was hit and fatally injured on July 31 after falling off his bike while riding on the sidewalk along Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda... Friedson has also introduced a bill co-sponsored by Glass and At-Large Councilmember Will Jawando concerning rules governing the issuance of county permits to temporarily close a public sidewalk or walkway in connection with repair work or construction.

Council Approves Bill Limiting Sidewalk Closures

March 25, 2020 -  On Tuesday the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed legislation aimed at limiting the closure of sidewalks in the county. The legislation limits the conditions under which sidewalks can be closed due to proximity to a construction site, according to a press release from the council.  The goal of the bill is to “increase pedestrian safety, and to assure that public sidewalks and walkways may be closed only for the minimum time periods necessary, with minimum disruption and inconvenience to the public,” text from the bill’s supplementary documents says.  “This legislation makes clear that we view safe pedestrian and bicyclist access not as a luxury, but as an essential part of our transportation infrastructure,” Councilmember Andrew Friedson, the bill’s sponsor, said in the press release. 

Licensed Restaurants Now Allowed to Sell and Deliver Alcohol To-Go
March 24, 2020 -  Councilmember Andrew Friedson released a statement on the guidelines for restaurants in regards to the new policy. https://twitter.com/Andrew_Friedson/status/1242470982717255681

County Council likely to approve $20M relief fund for small businesses
March 24, 2020 - Council Member Andrew Friedson started drafting the bill early last week. County Executive Marc Elrich announced similar plans on Friday to propose emergency allocations. Elrich told Bethesda Beat on Monday that his staff and the council’s staff worked together on the bill over the weekend. Friedson said he was glad the county leaders and staff were on the same page in trying to relieve the financial hardships of businesses in the county. “I think we got to a really good place [with the bill],” he said. “It’s changed dramatically and significantly in better ways since it started. This has been an evolving process.” Friedson noted that leaders from the Washington, D.C., government recently put similar legislation in place in seven days. He supported acting with the same haste. “We realize that we are in a crisis and we need to respond in a way that reflects that crisis,” he said.

Montgomery County readies $20 million for businesses affected by coronavirus
March 24, 2020 - “This is a battle that we’re in,” said Councilman Andrew Friedson, D-Bethesda, who helped draft the measure. “On the one hand, we need to be ensuring that we have the funds necessary to meet the immediate needs of our residents and local businesses who are facing an unprecedented crisis. And on the other we also have to meet the public health crisis.”... Elrich proposed a budget with a substantial property tax rate hike, immediately attracting rebukes from most of the council. Local governments of all shapes and sizes have begun reconsidering ambitious spending plans in the wake of the outbreak’s economic impacts, and Montgomery County is no exception. To that end, a majority of council members also plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday calling for “immediate spending restraint” on any initiative unrelated to the coronavirus response. The move is designed to send a clear signal about how the council plans to scale back the county’s spending as it edits Elrich’s budget proposal in the coming months. “We have to recognize that the fiscal picture of the county has changed dramatically,” Friedson said. “We have to meet the moment that we’re in right now.”

County expediting bill with $20M in emergency grants for small businesses, nonprofits
March 23, 2020 - Council Member Andrew Friedson said he took the lead of drafting the bill early last week. The legislation was finalized on Monday. “We recognize we still need more. We need more in terms of regulatory relief and significant actions,” he said. As far as whether additional money would be added to the grant funds, Friedson said, “Just like anything else, we’ll have to determine where things are as we move forward.”

Despite coronavirus fears, Elrich pitches a new MoCo budget with a hefty property tax increase
March 17, 2020 - “We’re in a different world now than the one where much of the budget was drafted,” said Councilman Andrew Friedson, D-District 1. “This is not the time to add additional uncertainty, but a time for stability and cautious decision-making. … We have to be prepared for the worst while we hope for the best.” Friedson suggested a “triage” approach for the coming budget process, first focusing on what resources county agencies need for the public health response, then figuring out what the county can do to help businesses and workers feeling the pain from the coronavirus disruptions. The D.C. Council recently passed a series of measures to offer tax payment delays and grants for businesses, and Friedson said his county could look to do something similar as soon next week.

Montgomery lawmakers push back on Elrich's proposed tax hike, call for calm amid covid-19 crisis
March 16, 2020 - “Now is not the time to be adding additional uncertainty when we don’t even know what the depth and magnitude of this crisis is going to be,” said county council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1). Friedson said he has spoken to company leaders worried about going bankrupt or having to let go of employees to stay afloat. He said the council should consider tapping into its $500 million reserves in line with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who last week approved an emergency measure allowing him to take out $50 million from the state’s rainy day fund.“This is a real, serious challenge,” Friedson said. “We need to make fiscal decisions that reflect that.”

County leaders close council office building to public to lessen coronavirus risk
March 13, 2020 - Council Member Andrew Friedson agreed that the meetings and hearings should continue to be live-streamed and recorded, but closed to public attendance. The council agreed that discussions and public hearings of the county’s capital and operating budgets, which the council is supposed to get on Monday, should continue. All nonessential meetings scheduled before March 27 will be postponed. Friedson said a drop-off box should be provided for written public comment testimony. “We’re limiting presence, not participation,” he said. “That’s the key message that we need to send.”

Community policing bill approved; sets guidelines for reporting, transparency
March 11, 2020 - A bill to establish community policing guidelines and new data requirements was unanimously passed Tuesday after the County Council delayed a vote last week.The new law passed after Council Member Will Jawando offered an amendment. The amendment, recommended by the Public Safety Committee, requires the county police department to provide data reports to the policing advisory commission...The bill was originally brought forward for a vote on March 3, but council members were evenly split in whether to proceed. Jawando, Council Vice President Tom Hucker and Council Members Hans Riemer and Evan Glass favored tabling the measure for more work. Rice, Council President Sidney Katz, and Council Members Gabe Albornoz and Andrew Friedson voted to proceed. Navarro was absent.

New Legislation Would Ease Burden of Child Care Costs For Employees
March 10, 2020 - Newly introduced legislation is expected to help employers attract and retain talent by easing the burden of child care costs on employees. Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Nancy Navarro recently introduced  Bill 9-20 , Economic Development Fund-Local Business Child Care Grant Program. Officials say this will provide an incentive to help small businesses throughout the county attract talent while allowing access to quality childcare... Council President Sidney Katz and councilmembers Andrew Friedson, Hans Reimer, and Tom Hucker are cosponsors.

Child care grant proposal for small businesses would add to employee subsidies
March 6, 2020 - The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce originally brought the idea forward. Albornoz, and co-sponsor Andrew Friedson presented the bill before the County Council on Tuesday. “We’ve heard one of the challenges that businesses are having in the county and in our region is recruiting talent and that is a big driver of business development,” Albornoz said.

Bill proposes stricter requirements for 'green' building tax credits, but more money available

March 4, 2020 - Council Member Hans Riemer said the existing tax credit is “not the most effective way to fund green buildings.” He is a lead sponsor of the bill with Council Member Andrew Friedson.

In tense council meeting, Montgomery lawmakers hit 'pause' on police bill

March 3, 2020 - Lawmakers sharply questioned the timing of the request at a hearing Tuesday, especially after Dale Tibbits, a special assistant to Elrich, said the county executive had changed his position and wanted council members to postpone voting on the grant. “This is not the way to do public policy,” said council member Andrew Friedson (District 1), one of several lawmakers who appeared visibly exasperated. “It’s not transparent, it’s not accountable, and it’s not the way the process is supposed to work.”

Updated: After split vote, Montgomery County Council delays community policing bill
March 3, 2020 -  The Montgomery County Council was evenly split on Tuesday on whether to delay a landmark bill on guidelines and reporting requirements for community policing. The bill was put on hold and will come back before the council later.  The legislation, introduced in October, requires county police officers to increase their outreach to the community, ensure “cultural competency” within the department and provide training in “de-escalation tactics.” It also requires the police department to provide an annual report with statistics such as the number of times officers used force and how many times the use of force led to an injury.  The amended version of the bill leaves out a provision that would have expanded the county’s school resource officer program, in which sworn law enforcement officers work in Montgomery County Public Schools. The council’s Public Safety Committee voted 2-0 on Feb. 24 to proceed without that expansion.  Council Vice President Tom Hucker and Council Members Hans Riemer, Will Jawando and Evan Glass voted Tuesday to table the bill on the first motion and to do more work on it.  Council President Sidney Katz and Council Members Craig Rice, Gabe Albornoz and Andrew Friedson voted to oppose the delay and wanted to proceed. Council Member Nancy Navarro was not at the meeting.

Montgomery County councilmembers religious safety town hall

February 27, 2020 - Montgomery County councilmembers hosted a town hall Thursday evening at the council building to bring religious leaders and members of the community together to discuss the security within places of worship. “We have always treated Montgomery county as a place of compassionate care and looking out for one another. We have always felt that an attack against one faith is an attack against all faith,” said councilmember Andrew Friedson.

Montgomery Co. faith leaders call for more funding for security around places of worship
February 27, 2020 -  Council members listened to their concerns, which ranged from a call for more patrols around places of worship to a call for additional funding for additional security measures.  “We don’t want to be the next Pittsburgh, because these attacks are not happening in the centers of the world, they are happening in regular places, with regular congregations,” Pokras said.  “There have been a number of bias incidents,” said Councilman Andrew Friedson.  In 2018, there were 93 bias incidents in Montgomery County , with religion being the motivator in nearly forty percent of those incidents.

Should Montgomery County's wealthy pay more taxes? A councilmember is proposing two bills that ...
February 24, 2020 - “We have to remember we are not Congress,” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who added, “…that inability to be competitive or ability to be competitive has a direct impact on the revenue that we need to attract business, attract families grow our tax base, which should be our focus - and not sending the message to our residents that we’re only focused on raising our tax rates.”

Split County Council votes to oppose property, income tax hike bills in Annapolis
February 24, 2020 -  Many of the bill’s opponents on the council cited concerns about the possibility of stifling economic development. “I think this will really undermine our efforts on the council to work on our economic competitiveness as we talk about raising our property taxes on our properties,” Friedson said. “We have to remember that we’re not Congress. That we’re not doing national policy here, that these are local policies with regional consequences and we are competing with our counterparts in D.C. and across the river [in Virginia].”

Councilmembers Will Host Town Hall on Security for Faith-Based Communities
February 20, 2020 -  Montgomery County Councilmembers Andrew Friedson, Sidney Katz and Gabe Albornoz are hosting a town hall called “A Discussion of Security for Our Faith Communities.”  The event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 7 -9 p.m. in the third-floor hearing room of the Montgomery County Council Office Building.

Historic Black Church in Montgomery Co. Remains Damaged by Summer Flood
February 20, 2020 -  The church was built in 1915 and was one of the first places African Americans could own land after slavery was abolished. The church is on the historic registry in Montgomery County, which is why Councilman Andrew Friedson (D) promises to do something to help.  “This is a historical treasure that we gave in our community. We have to make sure that as a community we support it,” Friedson said.

Protecting pedestrians: Md. lawmaker wants to stop sidewalk closures during construction
February 17, 2020 - In a letter to state lawmakers, Friedson wrote that "the legislation would address the pressing issue of the State Highway Administration (SHA) allowing sidewalks adjacent to construction projects in pedestrian-heavy areas to be closed for months and years at a time." Friedson has proposed similar legislation on the county level. "So the county bill is for county roads, the state bill is for state roads," said Friedson. "Marc Korman at the state level, me at the county level, we have been working together on making sure pedestrian access, particularly through construction sites, is the expectation and not the exception to our public policy." Friedson said the long-lasting sidewalk closures around construction sites in downtown Bethesda are something he hears about often from his Montgomery County constituents. "It's a very frequent concern that a lot of people have in this community," he said. "You know, we should be treating our sidewalks like the critical transportation infrastructure that they are. Historically, we have not done that. But the reality is that in a community like ours that is urbanizing, we need to treat it like the urban community that it is. And that means making sure pedestrian access is maintained."

Montgomery council sponsors resolution favoring DC statehood
February 12, 2020 - Council Member Andrew Friedson, a co-sponsor, said in an interview Monday that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office asked the council last month to support the statehood effort with a resolution. “We have a tremendous number of regional priorities that we share and work on together and they asked us to support them and we did so,” he said....Friedson on Monday noted that many Montgomery County residents work in D.C., and there are many federal agencies in Montgomery County that depend on funding from Congress. Having more representation on Capitol Hill, he said, would benefit everyone in the region, including Montgomery County. “Representation matters and votes in Congress matter,” he said...He added that, morally, statehood is also the right thing to do. “I think it’s critical that everyone in our region have their voices heard. Currently, D.C. doesn’t have that ability,” he said

Council Interviews Appointee for Chief Equity Officer
February 11, 2020 -  Councilmember Andrew Friedson thanked Ward for her commitment to racial equity as well as her realistic approach to it. He said this is going to be a long and ongoing process.  “Hundreds of years of challenges aren’t addressed and undone in 100 days,” Friedson said. 

'This hits very close to home.' Vision Zero Town Hall draws 200+ people, including victims
February 10, 2020 -  "A sidewalk should be viewed like a lane of traffic. We should only shut it down in extreme circumstances," Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) said in response to the woman's concern. "Currently that hasn't been the case, previously that certainly wasn't the case. So, we need to move in that direction." Disability rights advocate Juliette Rizzo, who has lived in Montgomery County for 21 years, asked the council to include the disability community in conversations pertaining to Vision Zero.  "Yesterday, as Councilmember Friedson and I were on our way to the memorial where my neighbor Brett Badin was killed. As we were walking, and I was rolling in my wheelchair, a car pulled out straight in front of us, when [Councilmember Friedson] put his hands up to stop the truck from hitting me in the wheelchair," Rizzo stated. "So, this hits very close to home."

Public airs road safety concerns as county tries to eliminate fatalities
February 10, 2020 - Council Member Andrew Friedson said the problem is: How can the county remake roads that were designed for motor vehicles but that now must be safe for bicyclists and pedestrians, too?...Friedson said he has proposed a bill that mandates sidewalk access in construction zones when work lasts more than a few weeks. “A sidewalk has to be viewed like a lane of traffic,” he said....Friedson noted that state Del. Jared Solomon, a Democrat from Chevy Chase, has drafted a bill in Annapolis that would require a pedestrian safety plan when there is school construction or renovation project.

Proposal to allow 5G antennas deferred until June
February 1, 2020 - Council Members Andrew Friedson and Will Jawando said they were hesitant to move forward with an amendment given the county’s ongoing litigation against the Federal Communications Commission. With a lack of political support, Riemer reluctantly decided to table the amendment until June, when a federal appellate court is likely to issue a ruling on the case....Friedson and Jawando argued it would be premature for the county to pass a zoning amendment while challenging the FCC on its authority to preempt local governments...The ongoing concerns cast a shadow over the future of the amendment. In a phone interview on Friday, Friedson said his primary concern was with the future of the county’s litigation. But after the cases are settled, he’s still undecided on whether to support the zoning change. “I believe the legal process should run its course before we make a decision on it,” he said. “But after that, I still need to dive into the details so I can make an informed decision.”

Montgomery Co. plan to eliminate traffic deaths has a rough start to 2020
January 29, 2020 -  But Council member Andrew Friedson was frustrated with the way things are being done, calling the briefing “reactive.”  “We really just can’t wait for deaths to respond to this on a case-by-case intersection-by-intersection basis,” said Friedson. ”If we’re going to be serious about Vision Zero, then our county government must stop blaming the people who use the roads and take the responsibility for the roads we’re designing.”

Montgomery County seeks to make roads safer for pedestrians
January 28, 2020 - “We have an entire road network that is completely outdated, it was built mostly between the 1930s and the 1960s at a time when our communities looked much different, [the roads] were being used much differently and the goals of the infrastructure was for a far different purpose, not for the liveable, walkable communities we talk about, that we want to live in, that we say we are living in and that we are trying to create,” said Andrew Friedson, District 1 Democrat.

Council works on sector plan, fair representation bills in committee meeting
January 23, 2020 -   However, committee member, Coucilmember Andrew Friedson, is concerned about the balance and flexibility of the Commercial Resident Zones (CRZ).  According to the Montgomery County website, CRZ’s are a family of mixed-use zones that allow a range of densities and heights. These zones are designed to encourage a mix of commercial and residential uses, create interactive streets, provide meaningful public spacesfoster jobs and services where people can live, work, shop and play within a given neighborhood.  Three CRZ classifications define the types of uses and the method of development allowed: CR Neighborhood (CRN), CR Town (CRT) and Commercial Residential (CR).  “There is a lot of neighborhood-serving retail (stores) in these shopping centers that are in need, and I’m worried about giving them the same classification as commercial businesses,” Friedson said.

MCPS reviewing bus stops after serious crashes involving students
January 23, 2020 - Council Member Andrew Friedson said Thursday’s meeting is indicative of a larger-scale problem that will take all county and state agencies working together to fix. “The bottom line is if we have to have to have students wear flashing lights and prevent them from crossing the roads, the roads aren’t safe enough for them to live,” Friedson said. “We’ve got huge, major issues we have to resolve. Just addressing bus stops and just addressing buses is not going to address the broader issue. We need to do all of it to make sure our students are safe.”

Late objection delays vote on mandatory air conditioning
January 21, 2020 - In an interview after Tuesday’s council meeting, Council Member Andrew Friedson added that the committee continued to support the amendments in large part because of continued feedback from DHCA. The department reviewed the particularly controversial amendment that would have allowed tenants to opt out of air conditioning if landlords stipulated they would charge more in rent for providing it. Council Member Will Jawando opposed the change, but ultimately voted with Friedson and PHED Chair Hans Riemer to send the amended bill back to the full council for a vote. “Until this eleventh-hour memo, we were under the assumption that the executive branch approved this bill,” Friedson said. The late communication “completely upended” the council’s legislative process, which involves an unusual level of involvement from the executive branch, he added.

Prince George's County now outpaces Montgomery in job creation
January 21, 2020 - “It highlights the fact that we’re in an increasingly competitive regional economy,” said Council Member Andrew Friedson, a first-term legislator who’s made fiscal policy a focus during his time in office. “The challenge before us is that we have to step up our game in a way that perhaps we’ve never had to before.”...But the council’s new economic development platform emphasizes investment in transit and affordable housing to attract new businesses and workers to the area. Individual council members have their own priority areas, from translating federal research into corporate development — in the case of Council Member Hans Riemer — to boosting economic development in North Bethesda. The latter is a particular interest of Friedson’s, who compared Amazon’s interest in the White Flint Mall site — which Montgomery County pitched to the company — to being nominated for an Academy Award. Montgomery County was one of 20 nationwide finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, but was not chosen. “Even if you don’t win the Oscar, you can still sell a lot of movies,” he said. The county can attract new businesses to the area, he argued, especially with investments to existing infrastructure. One of Friedson’s biggest priorities is restoring funding to a northern entrance to the White Flint Metro Station, which County Executive Marc Elrich removed in the latest version of his capital improvements plan. But he also noted positive developments, including an investment in bus rapid transit on Md. 355 and the recent announcement of Ben Wu as the new CEO for the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.

New bill would repeal Montgomery's mandatory bike registration
January 21, 2020 - “I think this falls under the category of, ‘Wait, we have a law that does that?’” said Council Member Andrew Friedson, who was added as a co-sponsor to the amendments along with Council Members Nancy Navarro, Gabe Albornoz and Craig Rice.

Prince George's overtakes Montgomery as top job creator in Maryland suburbs
January 20, 2020 - Friedson sponsored a bill, which passed in July, that requires all legislation to include an economic impact statement. “The first thing we need to do is make sure that economic development is a part of everything we do,” Friedson said. “If we’re not focused on relentlessly growing our economy, then we face a choice that nobody wants to make — either raise taxes to keep up with our services, or cut services for people who really need help.”

Funding to build trail tunnel at Bethesda Purple Line station dropped from county budget proposal
January 17, 2020 - County Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) said he also will look for ways to restore the tunnel funding. “We made a commitment as a county to build the tunnel, and a commitment should be kept,” Friedson said. “It’s a key part of the Purple Line project and why many people supported it. … It’s not just a recreational trail. It’s a central part of our transportation infrastructure.”

Elrich unveils $4.23 billion capital plan despite 'fiscal constraints'
January 16, 2020 -  In a phone interview, Council Member Andrew Friedson said it would force the council to make hard choices as it amends the CIP in the coming months. “The county executive had his opportunity to weigh in with his priorities,” Friedson said Wednesday. “Some I agree with, some I don’t. Now it’s our job to take it up and make some tough decisions.”...Elrich also touted a recommended $40 million investment in Purple Line projects, including a south entrance for the Bethesda Metro station. But Riemer and Friedson criticized him for not funding a northern entrance at the White Flint Metro Station — a major priority for community advocates. “We’ve clearly indicated how important it is to realizing the vision for White Flint and the progress we want to make in urbanizing North Bethesda,” said Friedson, whose district includes the station.

Elrich says he is committed to schools and housing. Critics say his capital budget suggests otherwise.
January 15, 2020 - Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), who has positioned himself as an ally of the business community, responded that while he agrees the county needs to invest in climate, he does not think “piling on requirements” is the right approach. “If we’re going to solve the climate crisis, it can’t just be about strong rhetoric,” said the freshman council member. “Anything we do that dramatically risks losing businesses and residents . . . it’s going to be one step forward and two steps back. Elrich also released his proposed capital budget on Wednesday, unleashing a new round of criticism from Friedson and other officials. The proposal covers funding for infrastructure projects and must be reviewed and amended by the council after public hearings. Friedson decried the lack of funding for a tunnel on the Capital Crescent Trail and a new Metro entrance at the White Flint metro station — both of which the council pushed to include in last year’s budget after they were “zeroed out,” he said.

Counties, cities, states step up on climate as Trump administration steps back
January 13, 2020 - Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), who has built a reputation as an ally to the business community on the all-Democratic council, said he prefers to wait until the new policies have been formally introduced before assessing them. In general, however, he said he does not think Montgomery can achieve its climate goals with “a heavy-handed, top-down approach.” “We shouldn’t be too quick to introduce new laws,” Friedson added. “We need to focus first and foremost on what we have that works.”

Hundreds gather in support of Jewish community
January 9, 2020 -  Several hundred people of varying religions, races and ages gathered in the cold on Jan. 5 for a community vigil to “Stand up to Anti-Semitism.”  While those gathered by the Takoma Park gazebo and all the way back onto the street had come to support victims of recent attacks against Jewish people in the New York City area and elsewhere, the evident theme of the evening was that an attack on one group of people is an attack against all.... Also speaking were councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass and President Sidney Katz, who urged audience members to “defeat darkness with light.”

New Crosswalk Signal Installed at Site of Fatal Pedestrian Crash
December 26, 2019 - Traffic safety has become a political issue over the past year as Montgomery County experiences  growing rate  of crashes in which pedestrians are struck. During a Nov. 19 briefing with county and state transportation officials, Council Members Tom Hucker and Andrew Friedson asked MCDOT and the Maryland State Highway Administration why more HAWK signals weren’t installed at busy pedestrian intersections.

State Roundup, December 18, 2019
Montgomery County Council members Andrew Friedson and Sidney Katz  wished their constituents happy holidays with an unconventional spoof on “Home Alone,”  writes Kate Masters for Bethesda Beat. Scroll down the story to view the video.

Political Notes: County Council Members Send Holiday Greetings with 'Home Alone' Parody
December 17, 2019 - Friedson said the video was filmed Friday with help from the council’s communications team. The “Home Alone” theme was a riff on his status as the youngest member of the council. But it also played into both lawmakers’ reputation for working long hours, he said. “There’s a running joke that on any given day, Sidney and I will be in the office working,” Friedson said. “I think we’ll both show up, even during recess.”

County OKs Policy To Limit Increases in Employee Pay, Benefits
December 16, 2019 - “This is a really important step in making sure that we’re being serious about the sustainability of our budget,” Friedson said of the new policy on Tuesday. “I appreciate the point that there are other agencies where a large portion of taxpayer dollars are spent. But I think we need to start with the ones we have the most control over.”

Selfies and activism: How a diverse crop of newcomers changed a county council
December 15, 2019 - Born and raised in the older, wealthier District 1, which includes Potomac and Chevy Chase, Friedson, 33, said his priorities are fiscal oversight and economic development. The  first bill  he spearheaded, which received strong support from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, expanded what is required in the economic impact statements that accompany bills reviewed by the council and made the statements mandatory for all legislation. “When I was growing up, [Montgomery] was a shining city on a hill. . . . The idea of a young person moving to Arlington instead of Bethesda was unthinkable,” Friedson said. “Now, it’s the opposite. We’re struggling to compete.”

Population, wage stagnation blamed for Montgomery Co. budget shortfall
December 15, 2019 -  Councilmember Andrew Friedson was frustrated with the numbers, citing that just a few months ago they were given numbers that showed promise for next fiscal year only to be presented with lackluster figures weeks later.  “We need to redo the way we do projections. Clearly we have a problem. We’re not as good at this as we need to be,” he said. “The fact that a few months of data can turn our whole process into a tailspin. It’s not appropriate or reasonable.”

Montgomery Co. residents call for safer roads after 2 students hit, 1 killed
December 14, 2019 -  After a deadly week on Montgomery County roads, more than 100 people packed the "Vision Zero" Town Hall and the Montgomery County Council Office on Saturday morning. Some told officials they are afraid "all the time" whether driving, walking or biking in the county, and called for immediate safety changes.... People at the town hall came to advocate for more sidewalks, reduced speed limits, and activated crosswalk lights. Many of the roads in Montgomery County are 6 to 8 decades old, according to County Councilman Andrew Friedson. "This week has been a painful reminder that this has gone far too slowly, that we need to redouble our efforts," says Friedson. He has introduced a bill to limit sidewalk closures in construction areas.

County Council learns of new potential fiscal year 2020 budget concerns
December 12, 2019 -  “Clearly, we have a problem. We are not as good at this as we should be,” Councilman Andrew Friedson said, referring to the way the county estimates revenues and expenditures for future budgets.  “We have to do a lot better” in preparing estimates and “smoothing out the volatility” that comes with dealing with an ever-changing economic environment, Friedson said.  Apparently, he said, statements of how good the economy is don’t ring true.  “The economy is far more sluggish than we are willing to admit,” he said. “We are not attracting enough new workers to Montgomery County.”  Friedson added, “If we are not growing, we are falling seriously behind.”

Montgomery County Faces Possible Budget Shortfall
December 11, 2019 - “This is a clear indication that we have a real problem in the economy,” said Council Member Andrew Friedson. “We’re not attracting enough new workers to Montgomery County. We’re not attracting enough people who want to live here. We need to go into overdrive to figure this out.”...Ultimately, Friedson said after the meeting, it was unsustainable for the county to predict financial outcomes based off a few months of economic data. “Ultimately, it’s a schizophrenic process,” he said. “We react to a very small amount of data, then we extrapolate it out over six years. We do that with good news and we do that with bad news and it creates a level of volatility that I think results in a tremendous amount of disruption for county services.”

'I Didn't Run for the County Council to Take a Stand on Foreign Policy'
December 10, 2019 - “I didn’t run for the County Council to take a stand on foreign policy or nuclear war,” Friedson said. “I think my focus has been on really getting back to the basics of county service and county government. Making sure we are really doing the nuts and bolts work that residents expect, and that really affects quality of life on a daily basis.”

Lawmakers target construction blocking Bethesda's sidewalks
December 9, 2019 -  Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson said closing a sidewalk for construction should be viewed the same way as closing a lane of traffic. “Both should be viewed as critical infrastructure,” said Friedson, a Democrat who represents District 1 on the council.  He has introduced legislation  which makes clear existing permitting laws, so developers and utilities know exactly how they’re expected to maintain sidewalk accessibility around a construction project.  “We haven’t clarified exactly what we mean by a safe pedestrian access, what we mean by when it’s appropriate to close a sidewalk and when it’s not,” Friedson said.

Innovative or 'creepy'? Maryland suburb considers cameras to catch drivers on their phones

December 6, 2019 - Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) said it would be “premature” for the council to endorse the bill given the questions surrounding its implementation. “I don’t think we’re anywhere close to a point in time where we should be deciding how to vote,” he said.

Bill Would Limit Sidewalk Closures for Construction

December 6, 2019 - “This has been a consistent challenge that we’ve faced,” said Friedson, who launched his first term in office with a walking tour of Bethesda. “I believe in construction and development, but we have to balance it with maintaining quality of life in an urbanizing community.”...“It’s long overdue that we have a systematic approach,” Friedson said on Tuesday, “and a way that is clear and consistent and transparent for residents to understand when and for how long a sidewalk would be closed.”

Short-Term Rental Violations Have Council's Attention
December 5, 2019 - Council Member Andrew Friedson questioned why HHS — a sprawling government agency that handles everything from restaurant inspections to social services and mental health treatment — was tasked with handling the short-term rental market. Riemer, who wrote the 2017 legislation, said it was because HHS already handled hotel inspections. But employees are struggling to manage the department’s increasing workload. At Monday’s committee meeting, Welch said HHS doesn’t have enough workers to independently inspect hotels or bed-and-breakfasts, and only makes site visits if a customer complains to the department.

Updated: Ben Wu Named New CEO for Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation
December 4, 2019 - Friedson said he hoped Wu could continue to hone the county’s economic development strategy and assign clear roles to a wide variety of stakeholders. “We’ve got this ongoing conversation over what role MCEDC should play, what role the county council should play, what role the executive should play, along with all the other entities in the county that have something to do with economic development,” he said. “So, I hope he can clarify what everyone’s jobs are, get everyone on the same sheet of music, and set specific metrics for determining what success looks like.”

Montgomery County Passes 'Landmark' Police Advisory Bill
December 4, 2019 - Council Member Andrew Friedson also added an amendment on Tuesday that requires commission members to participate in the Citizen Academy. The 15-week program offers a crash course on the basic responsibilities of police officers, including lessons on firearm safety, forensic services and criminal law. “I think it’s important as part of this,” Friedson said. “The goal is collaboration, not conflict, and I think everybody involved having the perspective of all sides is important.”

Pointing to deadly crash, Montgomery Co. lawmakers want trash bins off sidewalks
December 3, 2019 - “Just as leaving a trash or recycling bin on the road would be completely unacceptable, the same must be true for all parts of the public right of way, including sidewalks,” County Council member Andrew Friedson wrote in a letter to Adam Ortiz, the director of Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection... Separately, Friedson introduced a bill Tuesday related to pedestrian safety. It would limit sidewalk closures near construction sites.  “It’s the same overarching issue of the question of: Do we view sidewalks as key parts of our transportation infrastructure, and do we treat pedestrians with the same level of concern that we treat car traffic?” Friedson said. “And I think the answer should be: We ought to.”  He said the current regulations for when a sidewalk closes are not consistent or clear.

Citing safety concerns, Montgomery Co. wants garbage, recycling bins kept off sidewalks
December 3, 2019 - “State highways were engineered with too small of sidewalks. They don’t have buffers and aren’t engineered for the types of uses that we have today, and so, the margin for human error is too slim, and the likelihood for significant, tragic, and even sometimes fatal circumstances are too great, and so, we need to address it," Friedson told ABC7 during an on-camera interview Monday.
Council Members Want Trash, Recycling Bins off Public Sidewalks
November 27, 2019 -  “We would never accept the idea that a contractor or resident would leave a recycling bin or trash can on a road,” Friedson said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Similarly, we shouldn’t allow that on a sidewalk. They should be viewed as critical parts of our transportation infrastructure.”...“We have three pedestrian or bike-involved collisions every two days and that’s just not a sustainable situation,” Friedson said. “That’s why we sent this letter. When we talk about county government, I think it’s the little things that often make the biggest impact. You can say this is a little thing, but it’s a little thing that had tragic consequences.”

FOX5 to Receive County Grant for Moving North One Metro Stop
November 19, 2019 -  County Councilmember Andrew Friedson said FOX5 would be a big employer in the county, noting the difference between the local station and national Fox cable network.  “I think supporting local employers supporting local services is a good thing for the public. It’s a good thing for the economy, and we’re excited to have as many job employers and wage growers in the county,” he said.

Battery Lane Park reopens
November 9, 2019 - On Saturday morning parents, kids, residents and Montgomery County officials came together in celebration of the newly renovated Battery Lane Park. Council member Andrew Friedson says he is “honored” to be able to serve as the park’s lead. “Our parks are at the forefront of what makes Montgomery county such a great place to live it is key to our community and our quality of life,” said Friedson.

New Law Mandates Full-Time Work for Montgomery County's Janitors
November 8, 2019 - The specificity of the bill was also a concern for Council Member Andrew Friedson, who voted no on the bill. A self-described “procedure guy,” Friedson said he worried about the council passing what he called “extraordinarily prescriptive” legislation without fully understanding its future impact. “I’m concerned about the appropriateness of county government establishing a mandate for the private sector that is extremely prescriptive to one specific industry and one specific class of worker,” Friedson added in a phone interview on Wednesday. “To me, that is a significant policy perspective change, and it’s one I’m having trouble getting comfortable with.”

Friedson
Figures: Celebrating and Investing In Potomac's Historic Communities

November 7, 2019 - We must ensure that these communities remain connected to their past while providing access to opportunities to benefit from Montgomery County’s progress and prosperity. That requires a significant commitment – both in moral fortitude and financial resources. As the successful housing partnership in Scotland and recent improvements in Tobytown show, together we can make that commitment, and our entire community will be better and stronger for it.  As the successful housing partnership in Scotland and recent improvements in Tobytown show, together we can make that commitment, and our entire community will be better and stronger for it.

Marcus Jones confirmed as Montgomery County police chief in unanimous council vote
November 5, 2019 - After the council vote, the new chief acknowledged the department will have to the regain trust of many residents. “That is vitally important to me,” Jones said. And as they voted on a new chief, several council members commented on the arduous selection process. Gabe Albornoz (D-At Large) likened the search to “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) said the process evoked “ What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been ,” an album by the Grateful Dead.

County Council Unanimously OKs Jones as Montgomery Police Chief
November 5, 2019 - The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones to take over the department, ending a search that extended for most of the year...Even as council members asked pointed questions of Jones on Tuesday, they acknowledged the difficulty of the process and his own role in leading the department as the search continued. “You haven’t just been ‘acting’ in this job,” Council Member Andrew Friedson said. “You’ve been doing this job for months.”

Marcus Jones is new Montgomery County police chief
November 5, 2019 -  Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson called it a “challenging process,” but said, “I am reminded, based on recent events, that bumpy roads lead to beautiful places, so hopefully that’s where we end up here as well.”

Friedson Holds Community Conversation With Police Commander Gagen
November 4, 2019 -   Councilmember Andrew Friedson is holding a Community Conversation with District 1 residents at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Bethesda Elementary School.  Bethesda Police District Commander Sean Gagen will join Friedson to engage with residents and learn about what is important to them. The discussion will cover both countywide and neighborhood issues in District 1.  This is Friedson’s fifth Community Conversation since he took office 11 months ago, and part of the councilmember’s continued commitment to bring the council directly to the community.
'Fridays with Friedson' Offer Access in Potomac
October 29, 2019 - There was plenty to talk about: sidewalks, the County Budget, project delays, pedestrian and bike safety, climate issues, the new police chief and safe schools. It was a lot to discuss during County Councilmember Andrew Friedson’s monthly meet and greet, Fridays with Friedson, held Friday, Oct. 25 at Attman’s Deli in the Cabin John Shopping Center.

Crash That Seriously Injured Cyclist Prompts Review of Connecticut Avenue
October 28, 2019 -  “It shouldn’t take a tragedy to make a change. We need to build the political will at the state level to help us make the changes. And we need to invest at the local level as well,” he said. Friedson said that in 2017 a woman was killed in a crash at the Connecticut Avenue-Franklin Street intersection just north of Saul Road. Traffic-calming measures on the corridor, he said, are essential to making the road safer. “The way that you bring down vehicle speed is by narrowing lanes, creating more frequent signalized crosswalks. … There are engineering fixes that we can employ to decrease speeds and increase the ability for road users to see each other so that they can all use the road safely,” he said. Friedson said the council is scheduled to meet with state highway officials at its Nov. 19 meeting to discuss pedestrian safety generally.

Montgomery County Retains AAA Credit Rating
October 18, 2019 - An AAA rating was “great news” for Montgomery County, Friedson agreed. But he also warned that the rating would remain at risk if the county continued to divert money from OPEB, which will require even greater levels of funding as health care costs increase. Studies have warned that the county’s economy is  stagnating , with lower-than-expected job and business growth over the last several years. Given the future challenges, leaders should be prepare to make difficult financial decisions soon, Friedson said. That can mean having difficult conversations about budget cuts or potential tax increases rather than using OPEB funding to cover the gap. “Kicking the can down the road assumes that future budgets will be better and assumes you have significantly more funding tomorrow,” he said. “And the reason I feel so strongly about OPEB is that we can’t expect budgets to get better in a significant way.”

New Bill Expands Oversight, Funding for County's Inspector General
October 16, 2019 - “This is about being proactive, not reactive,” Council Member Andrew Friedson said during the council’s session on Tuesday. “I think it reflects our core responsibility to take fiscal oversight seriously and show we’re doing everything we can to make sure every taxpayer dollar is invested efficiently.”...Friedson, who spearheaded the bill, said the Office of the Inspector General was previously limited to investigating complaints of financial impropriety and offering general suggestions on improving government efficiency. But the agency was never tasked with reviewing county contracts or auditing departments on a regular basis.

Updated Farm Women's Market Development Receives Positive Reviews
October 14, 2019 -  Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said he believes the project’s increased focus on providing public amenities and greenspace is key “to our quality of life and to achieving … economic development goals.”  “Transforming asphalt into public green space and adding needed housing while preserving and reinvigorating one of Bethesda’s historic treasures is a shining example of the huge community benefits when residents and businesses, county and municipal leaders all come together,” Friedson said.

Opinion: The Wrong Fight at the Wrong Time
October 3, 2019 - A bill sponsored by the council’s Audit Committee (which includes Chair Nancy Navarro, Sidney Katz and Andrew Friedson) that would substantially expand the inspector general’s contract review activity was prompted by the theft of nearly $7 million by a county economic development official. That happened during the prior administration, but the current CAO’s contracting issues are not helping. In any event, if this bill is passed, it will guarantee that Elrich’s executive branch will be the most investigated administration in county history.

Montgomery County's Newest Council Members Applaud CCACC
October 3, 2019 - Executive Director Li shared CCACC's history and vision with the two council members, introducing them to CCACC's different services and departments – healthcare, education, recreation & culture, adult day care, home care, and the art gallery. Friedson and Jawando also got to participate in a longtime CCACC tradition–Break the Eggrolls–where they got to enjoy Asian delicacies. They discussed services that could benefit the Asian community, and showed interest in healthcare and traffic regulation. Both Friedson and Jawando are looking forward to working with CCACC in the future.
Montgomery County to Celebrate Walk to School Day at Arcola, Bethesda Elementary Schools on Wednesday
September 30, 2019 -  Another Walk to School Day event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Bethesda Elementary School. County Councilmember Andrew Friedson will be joining that walk. 

Bill Would Dramatically Increase Funding for County's Inspector General
September 27, 2019 -  The Montgomery County Council wants to give a financial watchdog broader oversight power.  Expanding the responsibilities of the county’s inspector general is a wonky issue with a big impact on responsible spending, said Council Member Andrew Friedson. It would also require dramatically increasing the department’s funding to ensure the changes can be effectively implemented.... “We’ve said from the beginning that to achieve this goal, it’s going to require public dollars,” he said. “But I think it’s going to make up for it in public trust.”

Councilmember
chats with local constituents

September 25, 2019 - Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson held a forum to discuss community issues Wednesday evening. The councilmember represents District 1, which encompasses most of western Montgomery County, from Bethesda to Dickerson. Residents came out to express their opinions on local issues. The main topics the chat focused on were pedestrian and biker safety, economic development and current projects. Friedson went into detail about a new oversight bill.

Opinion: Commentary: Friedson Figures: Helping Aging Adults Live With Dignity, Vitality, and Security
September 19, 2019 -  The coolest part of my job as your Councilmember are the days when everything comes full circle. Sept. 5 was one of those days, when I joined my friend and colleague, Councilmember Sidney Katz, to host a Senior Forum and Resource Fair at the Potomac Community Center, the very place where I grew up playing Little League, attending recreation programs, and meeting lifelong friends...

County Council Approves Housing Incentives for Disabled Tenants
September 18, 2019 -  Councilmember Andrew Friedson drafted language that eliminates the licensing fees for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) if they’re occupied by a person with disabilities. The fees include an initial $581 cost for registering an accessory dwelling unit as a rental property and an annual $111 fee for operating it. “A few hundred dollars is not fundamentally going to change the cost of building a unit,” Friedson said. “But it’s just a small financial barrier we can lift, specifically for those in the community who have loved ones with disabilities.”...“The primary rationale is that if you’re building a unit for an aging parent or an adult child, you shouldn’t have to pay an annual licensing fee, assuming you’re not charging them rent,” Friedson said. 

Elrich Suggests Expanding Montgomery County Council, Creating More District Seats

September 12, 2019 - County Executive Marc Elrich has suggested making the Montgomery County Council larger, but more focused on district representation. He suggested a change to the council structure Wednesday at a meeting of the Montgomery County Charter Review Commission...“I think I was surprised to learn that the county executive attended this meeting to suggest something that directly affects the council without going to the council first,” added council president Nancy Navarro. “I’m always interested in better serving the community, but this is something we’ve had the opportunity to consider.” It’s also something that contradicts the mission of the Charter Review Commission as a resident-led organization, said Councilman Andrew Friedson. In his view, the commission was established as a resource for residents to make recommendations to the council without overt political influence. “So, in that sense, I don’t think it’s in the best interest of that process for public officials to weight in as an attempt to dictate the outcome before the commission has the opportunity to form their own recommendations,” he said.

Montgomery County Council Members Give Positive Review of New Police Chief Candidate
August 30, 2019 -  Council member Andrew Friedson said Thursday on Montgomery Community Media said that he wasn’t aware of any further decisions Elrich had made, but he “has a lot of respect” for McSwain.

Montgomery Talks: Andrew Friedson
August 29, 2019 -  Councilmember Andrew Friedson, serving his first term on the County Council, has made a name for himself in trying to make government run more efficiently. He’s also been an advocate for pedestrian safety. In this episode of Montgomery Talks with Doug Tallman, Friedson also shares his thoughts on the latest developments in Tonya Chapman’s decision to remove her name from consideration to become the county’s next police chief.

Opinion: Commentary: Friedson Figures: Ensuring A Sustainable Fiscal Future
August 29, 2019 -  These first nine months as District 1’s County Councilmember have been a tremendous thrill. My primary focus continues to be providing responsive and effective constituent service, which is why I’ve focused on showing up wherever and whenever I can to hear directly from you.


Updated: Elrich To Nominate Darryl McSwain as Next Montgomery Police Chief
August 28, 2019 “This process was not one any of us should be proud of. For a decision as important as this, selecting a police chief that is responsible for the safety of 1.1 million residents, the way this process was handled was nowhere near satisfactory,” he said.  Friedson said he didn’t want to place the blame on anyone in particular, but it is important to “get the process right” for such an important decision...Asked about his thoughts on Elrich’s plans to nominate McSwain, Friedson declined to comment, saying he wasn’t aware of any decisions the county executive made on the chief search.

Montgomery interested in Amazon warehouse originally considered for Prince George's, officials say
August 28, 2019 -  Several Montgomery Council members contacted Wednesday said they support efforts to bring jobs into the suburb, but added that they would withhold approval until more details were available.  “We desperately need additional jobs and to diversify our economy that continues to be far too reliant on federal government,” Council member Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) said.

Montgomery County feeling aftermath of storm damage
August 27, 2019 - Councilmember Friedson says storms are getting more and more intense, in the past few months Montgomery County was hit with multiple storms causing structural damage, downed power lines, flooding, and sinkholes. Friedson wrote a letter to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation urging them to increased stormwater infrastructure and upgrades. “We don’t have infrastructure currently that is reflecting that and we need to make a serious investment and have a major focus on our drainage systems,” said Friedson.

Round House Theatre Reopens in Bethesda After Renovations
August 26, 2019 -  After undergoing renovations for more than a year, the Round House Theatre in Bethesda is back open in time for its fall season.  Here’s a look at the theatre’s ribbon-cutting Saturday...

Pedestrian Signals To Be Installed Next Year at Bethesda Intersection Where Crash Occurred
August 21, 2019 -  A pedestrian crossing signal is expected to be installed next winter at an intersection where two people were struck by a vehicle last week, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration....Before agreeing to install the crossing signal in October 2018,  state officials said the measures were not appropriate because not enough people use the intersection, according to correspondence from SHA officials to constituents. Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said in an interview Tuesday he disagrees with the state’s original logic. “That standard that says there aren’t enough people willing to cross an intersection where they have to put their lives in their hands to do so is the equivalent of saying we shouldn’t have built the Bay Bridge because not enough people swam across the Chesapeake Bay to get to the other side,” Friedson said. “We can’t have these scenarios where, unless you have enough people willing to put themselves in dangerous situations, we’re not going to get a signalized crosswalk to let them cross a street safely.”

Montgomery Officials Organizing Meeting After Bicyclist Killed in Bethesda
August 8, 2019 - County leaders are organizing a meeting with state highway officials to discuss pedestrian safety on Old Georgetown Road after a  17-year-old was killed while riding his bicycle along the highway.

Montgomery Council Member Questions Purpose of Woodward High School
August 5, 2019 ​- "In addition to the significant delay of Woodward alleviating overcrowding at [Walter Johnson] ... this latest revelation appears to be yet another backtracking of commitments made to the community," Friedson write. "... This process raises broader concerns about communication, sufficient public input, and questionable planning."

A credit-rating agency warning should scare Montgomery County
August 2, 2019 - Last year, the County Council unanimously approved then-County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposal to skim $62 million in contributions to the retiree health fund. This year, the council backed an even larger diversion, $90 million, pitched by Mr. Leggett’s successor, Marc Elrich (D), while making only slight trims to the fat union contracts Mr. Elrich negotiated. Just one member of the all-Democratic Council, first-termer Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), opposed skimming the contribution to the health fund to balance the budget.

Montgomery County to require analysis of every bill's impact on business
August 2, 2019  - "We're trying to make sure we view the business community as partners, not just as revenue generators," Friedson said at the council meeting Tuesday. "We need to understand the impact [of legislation] not only on our budget here at the county, but on the budgets of county residents and county businesses."
Newly Built Capital Crescent Trail Could Open Before Trains Run
July 26, 2019  - Council member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes Bethesda, where part of the trail runs, said the county's parks department counted 80,000 uses of the trail in May 2015. It is one of the most heavily used trails in the country, with more than one million people using it every year, he said. Key pieces of the project, he said, are the completion of a pedestrian tunnel on the Bethesda portion of the trail and the restoration of the tree canopy after Purple Line construction is complete.... ​"This is a critical component of the Purple Line, and for many, this is just as important as the light rail itself," he said.

County Greenlights Three Stormwater Runoff Projects
July 16, 2019 -  Council member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes the Grosvenor and Old Farm projects, wrote in a statement that he was pleased the two projects were moving ahead... "These projects are important to improve water quality, to protect habitats in and around the streams, and for the quality of life of residents who in some cases have faced damage to their own property from the severe degradation of stream banks. We expect to hear details soon about next steps," he wrote.

County Liquor Department Gets a New Name
​ July 8, 2019 -  Freshman County Council Member Andrew Friedson, who supports privatizing the sale and distribution of alcohol in the county, told Bethesda Beat Sunday that the name chance doesn't address his concerns about the department... "I'm less interested in taking control out of the name and more interested in introducing real competition to the process," Friedson said. "The issue isn't marketing. It's the monopoly itself. Changing the name doesn't change teh fundamental problem -- that county government's control over alcohol sales and distribution stifles competition, hurts consumers and limits our economic potential."
Wall Street Report on County Budget Decision Puts Council on Alert
June 28, 2019 - A  report  from a Wall Street credit rating agency that labeled Montgomery County’s decision to defer putting money into a health benefit trust fund for retirees as a “credit negative” is being seen as a warning by at least one County Council member. New York-based Moody’s Investors Service released a report May 22 that criticizes the county for not fully funding the health benefits, known as known as Other Post-Employment Benefits, or OPEB, in the budget year that starts Monday. The report was part of a Moody’s weekly newsletter that contains credit outlook news from local governments around the country, according to Moody’s spokesman Joe Mielenhausen...Andrew Friedson, the only council member to  vote against  deferring $89.5 million from OPEB last month, said he found out about the Moody’s report earlier this week. “Anything that would jeopardize that bond rating. Any warnings about that bond rating have to be dealt with the utmost significance and seriousness,” he said. Friedson, who formerly worked in the state comptroller’s office, said the county’s fiscal plan consists of three major objectives, which include bringing down the debt, achieving a 10% reserve level and fully funding OPEB.“You cannot just commit to two legs of a three-leg stool when it comes to the fiscal plan,” he said...County Executive Marc Elrich proposed diverting OPEB funds help make up for an $80 million state tax revenue shortfall and bolster the county’s reserves. “The county executive puts the council in a very difficult situation when he effectively balances the budget on this diversion of $89.5 million. Certainly my colleagues expressed concern. I preferred that we reject the diversion entirely,” Friedson said.

Potomac News Briefs
Friedson Introduces Legislation to Support Housing Options for People with Disabilities
June 27, 2019 - Potomac’s Councilmember Andrew Friedson (District 1) today introduced legislation to waive County licensing fees for disabled individuals in accessory dwelling units. The Council is currently discussing ZTA 19-01, which would liberalize the county’s accessory dwelling units requirements. This bill would enable residents with qualified disabilities to take advantage of the potential changes to create an ADU without the financial barrier of existing fees. Currently, the county collects an initial $571 with an ADU application and an annual license fee of $101. Bill 20-19 would waive these fees for ADUs with tenants who have a verified disability. “ADUs offer families another housing option, especially when it comes to loved ones with disabilities, including seniors and veterans,” said Friedson. “This is an opportunity to be inclusive. Working to help launch the Maryland ABLE program I became acutely aware of the significant challenges so many families in our community face.”Council President Nancy Navarro, Council Vice President Sidney Katz, and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Craig Rice, and Evan Glass are cosponsoring the legislation, which is scheduled for a public hearing on July 16 at 1:30 p.m.

County Executive Laments Office Space Vacancies
June 25, 2019 - Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, during a Tuesday discussion with the County Council on economic development, said to attract more entrepreneurs, officials will have to solve the county’s declining demand for commercial office space. “There’s been a real loss of entrepreneurism, and we’ve got to figure out how to reinvigorate that,” he said. According to a January report from the county planning department, Montgomery’s vacancy rate for commercial office space jumped from just above 8% in 2006 to more than 13% in 2017, based on data from CoStar Analytics...Council members said they were pleased with Elrich’s commitment to economic development, but council member Hans Riemer said it still “feels like we’re rowing upstream.” “How do we move from the idea level to the action level?  What will the next three to six months look like?” he said...Council member Andrew Friedson said Elrich’s ideas were positive, and that governments must “walk and chew gum at the same time,” but there also must be “triage and prioritization.” “By prioritizing everything you’re prioritizing nothing,” he said.

Friedson Bill Would Waive Housing Fee for Disabled Individuals
June 25, 2019 - Councilmember Andrew Friedson introduced legislation that would waive fees for individuals with disabilities living in accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.  The County Council is currently considering  Zoning Text Amendment 19-01 , which would loosen restrictions for ADUs. This would allow residents to create ADUs for their loved ones with disabilities so that the individuals can have independence while still being in close proximity to their family.  Friedson’s legislation would waive the initial application and annual license fee for residents with qualified disabilities... Council President Nancy Navarro, Council Vice President Sidney Katz, and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Craig Rice, and Evan Glass are cosponsoring the legislation.  “ADUs offer families another housing option, especially when it comes to loved ones with disabilities, including seniors and veterans,” said Friedson. “This is a modest cost to the County, for a significant benefit for our families and our neighborhoods.”  There will be a public hearing on the matter on July 16, at 1:30 p.m.

County Celebrates Pride with Haus of Stone Drag Show
June 20, 2019 -  Montgomery County continues celebrating Pride Month.  On Wednesday, the Haus of Stones drag group performed at Denizens Brewery Co. in Silver Spring.  Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass helped organize the event. When Glass addressed the people at Denizens, he spoke about serving as Montgomery County’s first openly gay councilmember.  Glass said he organized a series of Pride events in Montgomery County because he noticed that LGBTQ residents and allies would have to go to Baltimore and Washington D.C. to celebrate the month... Councilmember Andrew Friedson said that the event was a lot of fun.  “We want to send the message and make sure that everybody understands that Montgomery County is a place where you’re accepted for who you are, you’re loved for who you are, you’re valued for who you are,” said Friedson.

Car Dealership Reaches Child Safety Seat Inspection Milepost
June 20, 2019 - A Montgomery County car dealership celebrated its 50,000th child safety seat inspection on Thursday. The Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Rockville has done complimentary safety checks since 1999. The dealership has partnered with county law enforcement, fire and rescue services and the office of consumer protection, among others. Fitzgerald Auto also works with the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Transportation Safety Board. The dealership was founded by Jack Fitzgerald in North Bethesda in 1966, and it has since expanded to 12 locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida, including three in the county...Technicians at the inspections walk parents through the process of installing the seats into their cars, properly securing their children in them and safely adjusting the devices as their children grow.Inspections are available by appointment at the Fitzgerald Auto locations in Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Annapolis, as well as the Rockville dealership...“This is about life and death,” County Council member Andrew Friedson said. “We know it’s 71% less likely that there be a fatality if you’re in a safe car seat.” The statistic cited by Friedson refers to infant fatalities, derived from research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Safe car seats reduce fatality risks by 54% for toddlers, according to the NHTSA.

County Council gets firsthand look at problems facing transit
June 20, 2019 -  To help get a better appreciation of transit issues, five members of the county council took it upon themselves to spend a week getting around the county without their cars — at least that’s what they tried to do.  For one week, several members of the  council, along with other public officials, participated in something called the “transit challenge,” a week-long attempt to forgo the use of a car and take public transit.  While the county has centered development around transit, various transit options in the county still have issues, as public officials noticed as they got a better appreciation for last week’s “challenge.”  The exercise, organized by the Action Committee for Transit, was meant to educate lawmakers about issues with transit in Montgomery County.  While the public officials who participated in the transit challenge spoke about how it was a positive experience, saying the transit offers many benefits, they noticed many issues. Those who participated in the challenge, Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz (D-at large), Evan Glass (D-at large), Will Jawando (D-at large), Hans Riemer (D-at large) and Andrew Friedson (D-1),  documented their transit trips, noting delays and hazardous street crossings.

Another Ficker Amendment? He Seeks Cap on MoCo Property Tax Increases
June 19, 2019 - Unbowed by his latest political defeat — a distant third-place finish in the race for Montgomery County executive last fall — political provocateur Robin Ficker is gearing up for another campaign. Ficker, whose regular attempts to change county politics and policy through ballot initiatives have had a profound impact on the county, has begun collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would cap Montgomery’s property tax rate. His aim is to put the ballot question before voters in the 2020 general election...District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D), one of the business community’s strongest allies in Rockville, said that although he is not interested in a property tax increase he does not think Ficker’s ballot initiative is needed. “I think we have a pretty strong situation currently where we can’t exceed the charter limit without a nine-to-nothing vote of the county council,” Friedson said. “My emphasis and my focus would be on utilizing that energy to push for serious … fiscal sustainability practices that we can put into place.”  “Unless we grow our economy, this is a moot issue,” he added. “It’s not about taxes, it’s not about restricting the ability to raise taxes. It’s about growing the tax base so that we don’t have to raise the tax rates.”

MCM's July SBN Features Councilmembers Albornoz, Friedson, Glass and Jawando
June 18, 2019 -  Montgomery County Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass, and Will Jawando are the featured guests for Montgomery Community Media’s July Small Business Network (SBN) session. The event takes place Thursday, July 18 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at our studios in Rockville. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased online,  here July topic: “Montgomery County is Open for Business.”  The series of monthly morning sessions facilitated by Kelly Leonard address topics of interest to small business owners in Montgomery County. Councilmember Andrew Friedson (District 1) serves on the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development and Government Operations and Fiscal Policy committees, and as the Council’s Lead for Parks. He previously served as senior policy advisor and deputy chief of staff to Maryland’s Comptroller, ran and reorganized the State’s 529 College Savings program, and served on the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority.  The series of monthly morning sessions address topics of interest to small business owners in Montgomery County.  Moreover, the series offers the opportunity to invigorate and innovate businesses with insight and information from regional business leaders’ presentations and question and answer sessions. Indeed, seminars and networking can enhance the success of local businesses in Montgomery County.  Montgomery Community Media is located at 7548 Standish Place in Rockville, walking distance from the Shady Grove Metro station. Free parking is available.  You can view previous speakers and events,  here .

Emergency Radio System Disruptions Blasted As 'Absolutely Outrageous'
June 18, 2019 -  After several hours-long outages in Montgomery County’s emergency communication system, county leaders are creating back up plans for first responders to communicate in the event of a long-term failure. Concerns about the 11-tower communications system began surfacing over Mother’s Day weekend, when the system experienced a 12-hour “major disruption” that, at times, knocked out about 75% of the available radio channels used by police, firefighters and rescue crews. In an average month, there are one or two “system busies” — a channel request when a channel isn’t available — but there were more than 2,200 “busies” recorded during the outage. Dozens more busies have been documented in periodic disruptions since, according to county officials...Contingency plans for short-term outages are included in part of public safety agencies’ annual budgets. Projected costs for long-term outages will be developed and more information is expected in September, when training exercises are planned. “At the end of the day, we just need tools that work,” said Dinesh Patil, assistant chief with the Montgomery County Police Department. “Of all the tools we carry, this is probably the one we use the most every single day.”...County staff members said there are some places, like schools, that do not receive coverage with the current system, which could pose serious issues in the event of a school shooting or other public safety event. “I have a great appreciation for first responders and their ability to be able to figure things out on the fly, but I wouldn’t want to be the community member waiting for a first responder kind of trying to figure it out,” council member Andrew Friedson said. “There is no greater public interest than public safety, period. Full stop. It seems like what we have is a bubble gum and duct tape operation, and it’s completely inadequate for anywhere, let alone a place with a $6 billion budget and 1.1 million people.”

Md. lawmakers ditch their cars for mass transit. Could you survive 'the transit challenge?'
June 18, 2019 -Could you put your car in park and get by for a week? That’s the challenge in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. In Montgomery County, there’s an average of two cars for every household—and it has the congestion to prove it. “The car has not moved all week and will not all week,” said Montgomery County Councilman Andrew Friedson, who’s among the 10 local lawmakers who have traded the roads for rails and buses all week long—no driving. Friedson showed WUSA9 his latest commute from Bethesda to council chambers in Rockville. Usually a 20 minute drive took 51 minutes on two different buses. “If you live along that corridor, it’s terrific but if you live outside that corridor which I also represent, it’s not nearly as great.” Sponsored by the organization Action Committee for Transit, this is called the transit challenge. But Friedson says it highlights challenges those without cars face every day. “I mostly use Metro and I am one of those people who gets to use it as a luxury not as a necessity,” said Friedson. On Twitter, others are chiming in with packed buses, blocked crosswalks and unsafe bike lanes. Friedson says it’s brought local lawmakers closer together—in hopes of making the county closer, too. “You can’t have a place unless you can get to it and that’s what public transportation is all about,” said Friedson.

Executives Knock County's Economic Development Approach
June 12, 2019 - A group of about 20 business owners delivered a message to Montgomery County’s chief economic development agency during a meeting Wednesday morning: the county must rebrand itself as a destination for tech companies rather than government employees and contractors. The meeting was the first of several planned discussions between the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee of the County Council and the Montgomery County Economic Development Corpo., which was formed in 2015 as a public-private partnership in place of the county’s Department of Economic Development. Committee chairman Hans Riemer said he plans to convene the meetings at least quarterly, or even once per month, to “hear what the business community has to say about the county’s progress.” Montgomery has long battled a perception that it has an anti-business climate, which has been exacerbated recently by a series of reports that show Montgomery is falling behind its counterparts in Northern Virginia, which recently landed one of Amazon’s highly-coveted headquarters locations. The online retailer is expected to bring in 25,000 jobs over the course of 10 years...Committee member Andrew Friedson said the county needs to change the perception that it is a place steeped in government jobs. “People don’t say, ‘I’m moving to Montgomery County or the D.C. area for anything but government,” he said.

Top Montgomery Co. Officials Going Car-Free This Week
June 11, 2019 - Buffeted by criticism that their transit-first transportation policy runs counter to the commuting preferences of a vast majority of their constituents, several members of the Montgomery County Council have accepted a challenge to leave their cars at home this week. In agreeing to the weeklong challenge, which was issued by the Action Committee for Transit, lawmakers must travel from home to work — and to whatever community events and meetings they might have — via bus, subway, bike, scooter or on foot. Five members of the nine-member Council accepted the challenge — Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass, Will Jawando and Hans Riemer. All but Jawando documented at least some of their travels on Twitter, using #TransitChallenge.

County Council Members Undertake Transit Challenge
June 11, 2019 - Five members of the County Council are participating in the Transit Challenge this week. They are tasked with either walking or using public transportation like the Ride On, Metro, or carpooling to get wherever they need to go. All four of the at-large members⁠—Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass, Will Jawando, and Hans Riemer⁠—as well as District 1 Representative Andrew Friedson are the members participating.  The councilmembers are sharing their public transit experiences on Twitter using #TransitChallenge, and are inviting county residents to join them.

Nine Montgomery County officials agree to ditch their cars this week
June 10, 2019 - This week, from June 10 to June 16, several Montgomery County elected officials and planning board members have pledged to leave their personal vehicles parked at home. These officials will put their pro-transit public positions to the test as they attempt to use public transit or active transport (foot, bicycle, scooter) to attend all work business and personal activities. If you are a resident of Montgomery County, even if you aren’t a public official, you should join them! This #TransitChallege is organized by Action Committee for Transit (aka ACT for Transit), a transit and land use reform advocacy non-\profit based in Montgomery County. ACT board members were inspired by social media from the city of Ottawa, which held a similar event in February where city councilmembers pledged to give up their cars for a week of Canadian winter. Ottawa councilmembers learned and tweeted about their experiences, both the good and less enjoyable. So far, nine public officials in Montgomery County have committed to the #TransitChallenge. This number includes five members of the county council (at-large members Evan Glass, Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, and Gabe Albornoz, and district 1-Bethesda representative Andrew Friedson) and three members of the county planning board (chair Casey Anderson and members Natali Fani-Gonzalez and Tina Patterson). Kacy Kostiuk, a councilmember from the City of Takoma Park, who  tweeted her experiences trying a car-free commute earlier this year, will also be participating.
Quiet Skies Group Leveraging Political Resources to Fight Airport Flight Patterns
May 31, 2019 - The Montgomery Quiet Skies Coalition, a group that includes Potomac and Cabin John residents, is taking its fight against the Federal Aviation Administration to the political arena. The Federal Aviation Administration  announced  last week that it was considering new arrival landing procedures at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport that could mean more planes and noise along the flight path to the Arlington, Virginia airport. The procedure would differ from others, such as a “river visual approach” where pilots use the Potomac River as a guide for landing, and rely on satellite global positioning technology. The changes, which could potentially go into effect Aug. 15, came in response to concerns from the Secret Service that too many planes were entering restricted airspace that surrounds the White House, National Mall and other monuments in the District of Columbia. Thursday’s meeting of the citizens group, held at the Carderock Springs Swim and Tennis Club in Bethesda, was attended by a number of politicians or their representatives, including state Sen. Susan Lee, a Democrat who represents Bethesda, and staff members from the offices of state delegates Marc Korman and Sara Love, Democrats who represent Bethesda, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin and County Council member Andrew Friedson, whose district represents Bethesda.The meeting came the same day that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh wrote a  letter  to FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell, saying that he was “troubled” by the agency’s new flight procedures proposal, particularly since it was done without taking its environmental impact into account.Frosh has sued the FAA about its flight path procedures for National Airport, as well as those at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Funding Restored for

White Flint Metro Station Improvement Work

May 30, 2019 - Funds for planning and designing a second entrance to the White Flint Metro station have been restored to the county’s six-year capital improvements budget. In January, County Executive Marc Elrich proposed deferring $3.5 million for planning and design work to beyond 2024 with the expectation that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority would contribute to the project.  The County Council, as it adopted a new county budget last week, restored $2.9 million of the funding which will allow planning and design work to take place while WMATA conducts a feasibility study to determine the total cost. Because the transit agency owns the White Flint station, it is responsible for determining the cost. The project involves constructing a northern entrance to the station with an underground walkway connecting the northern end of the platform to the Pike & Rose shopping area on the west side of Rockville Pike, near Old Georgetown Road...“I was really pleased that we ended up where we did and fulfilled this vision” said council member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes White Flint. “It keeps us moving forward in terms of where we’re at,” he said.Friedson said he wasn’t sure how likely it is that the transit agency would fund the project.“Historically they haven’t, and given its importance to the county I think that’s far too great a risk,” he said.

Montgomery County officials fuming over proposed FAA flight patterns for Reagan National Airport
May 28, 2019 - Montgomery County officials said they felt blindsided after the Federal Aviation Administration proposed plans for new aircraft  routes at Reagan National Airport amid complaints from residents in Bethesda and along the Potomac River that aircraft noise is making their neighborhoods unlivable.  County officials said the arrival routes  over Bethesda could change on August 15 and departures in January 2020. Montgomery Councilmember Andrew Freidson told FOX 5 he expected a plane noise solution  from the FAA, but, instead, he said the noise may get even worse. “Totally blindsided us in Montgomery County. It is outrageous. It doubles down on a disastrous policy and completely flies  in the face of the community working group that’s supposed to be there to provide community input,” Friedson exclaimed to FOX 5’s Tom Fitzgerald. During a recent meeting, the FAA proposed a new plan for landing airplanes at the airport that could mean increased noise for 200,000 residents who live in Bethesda, Potomac and Cabin John neighborhoods close to the Potomac River.Arlington County officials have teamed up with Montgomery County to press the noise issue with the FAA...Virginia Congressman Don Beyer’s office described the FAA’s response to his questions about noise complaints as “disappointing.”

Van Hollen, National Geographic Chairman Headline MCPS Graduation Speakers
May 23, 2019 -  This graduation season Montgomery County schools have tapped local news reporters, county government and business leaders and school staff as commencements speakers. Graduations begin on Friday , with five scheduled, and continue through June 13... Many of the ceremonies will be held at DAR Constitution Hall in the District, which will provide a free online live stream  of events, while others will occur at home sites or local college campuses.  Montgomery County Public Schools will graduate approximately 11,000 seniors this year from its 25 high schools, along with hundreds more from the school system’s special schools, which provide services to special education and adult learners.
May28: Winston Churchill High School: Andrew Friedson, Montgomery County Council member

Wayside Elementary Celebrates 50 years
May 22, 2019 - Wayside Elementary School celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Saturday, May 18, 2019, with a school carnival, open house and the unveiling of an anniversary work of art, and even a politician. Councilmember Andrew Friedson attended Wayside...Another thrill for the day was the unveiling of the student art installation on the grass in front of the school. During the last few months students and staff each painted a rock. These were embedded in a concrete “stream,” flowing with the rocks and ending in a circle containing the representation of a dolphin, Wayside’s mascot.The unusual thing about the artwork, besides the fact that all the students participated in its creation, is the dolphin is embedded with synthetic crystals that glow in the dark.“It really is amazing to see what we did in art turn into this great project,” Justin, a fifth grader, said.Principal Donna Michela said she was surprised by the large turnout and pleased by the people who came back to the school from years ago.She is a long-time Wayside staff member herself.“I was here for the 30th and now I’m here for the 50th,” she said.  Friedson said he began his advocacy work while an elementary student at the school...Another thrill for the day was the unveiling of the student art installation on the grass in front of the school. During the last few months students and staff each painted a rock. These were embedded in a concrete “stream,” flowing with the rocks and ending in a circle containing the representation of a dolphin, Wayside’s mascot. The unusual thing about the artwork, besides the fact that all the students participated in its creation, is the dolphin is embedded with synthetic crystals that glow in the dark. “It really is amazing to see what we did in art turn into this great project,” Justin, a fifth grader, said.

Elrich Wants Legislation To Preserve Affordable Housing
May 20, 2019 - Montgomery County’s executive is pledging to introduce legislation that would protect affordable housing when neighborhoods are redeveloped. Elrich said low-income residents are being squeezed out of areas such as Twinbrook when private housing replaces public affordable housing and some residents have difficulty passing background and credit checks, as well as meeting income requirements....The council has previously passed legislation giving developers more incentives to build MPDUs and recently has undertaken an effort to increase the number of accessory dwelling units at houses, also known as in-law apartments. Elrich has argued the ADU changes will not help low-income residents and create traffic problems in neighborhoods and near schools. “We talk about ADUs, but our biggest problem are these people who are facing the inability to find housing, and we don’t have the strategy to deal with it. We didn’t have a strategy when I was on the council,” he said. During a session at Friday’s conference addressing the housing crisis for millennials and seniors, panelists indicated that ADUs had to be part of the solution...Council member Andrew Friedson, who moderated the panel, noted that the county’s rental rate is increasing because little new housing is being built, with 14% of the county’s housing stock being built after 2000. The priority, he said, must be the construction of housing to grow the tax base. “To access our great education system, our extraordinary quality of life, we run the risk of not being able to provide that to new people,” Friedson said. “And if we don’t build more housing. If we don’t find creative ways to provide the existing housing in a thoughtful way to more people… not only will it prevent you from being able to have the opportunity that you have, it will harm the people currently.”

Montgomery County Council votes on $5.8B budget
May 16, 2019 - The Montgomery County Council voted on a $5.8 billion budget that includes an increase in parking fees in the Bethesda, Maryland, area and funding for education, libraries and public transit, among others...In a preliminary or “straw vote,” the nine-member county council voted on a $5.8 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2020 that “doubles down” on the county’s investment on education, according to Council member Andrew Friedson. The $2.6 billion for schools “fully funds” the Montgomery County school system’s budget request. The school system projects an enrollment of 164,477 students in the next fiscal year, Friedson said. That represents an increase of 1,877 students....The council also voted to approve contracts with the unions that represent county employees, which include firefighters, police and a broad swath of county workers represented by the Montgomery County Government Employees Organization. The agreements the council is approving are lower than those recommended by County Executive Marc Elrich, but council members expressed concerns over the “sustainability” of employee compensation costs. Council members Friedson and Hans Riemer referenced their own concerns over the county’s structural deficit. Riemer told his colleagues, “We really need to tackle that and make some changes.” “I continue to be concerned about balancing budgets by deferring funding of our obligations and by using one-time savings to fund ongoing costs,” Friedson said.

Economic impact statement required
May 16, 2019 - ...District 1 Councilman Andrew Friedson introduced legislation to make sure councilmembers understand the economic impact of every action they adopt – not just on the county’s budget, but also on business owners, nonprofit organizations, homeowners and taxpayers, he said... The legislation appears headed for adoption, as every council member signed on to co-sponsor it.  If the bill is adopted, an economist in the independent Office of Legislative Oversight would be in charge of the review rather than a county employee from the Department of Finance being asked to conduct the impact statement... “The bill is focusing on making sure we understand the impact” in many areas so there will not be “unintended consequences,” he explained.  Before councilmembers vote on any legislation, the Office of Legislative Oversight would issue a report of its findings without recommending whether the bill in question should be adopted.  It will be up to individual council members to weigh the information and decide how to vote, Friedson said... “Supporting our local businesses has been a primary focus from the moment I took office. Including private sector impacts more comprehensively in our legislative process is an important part of that commitment,” according to Friedson.

Montgomery Co. council to vote Thursday on parking rate hike
May 14, 2019 - The Montgomery County Council will hold the final vote Thursday on whether to increase parking rates in the county’s three parking districts. In a vote Tuesday, the nine members agreed to hold off on increasing parking rates in Silver Spring, and to delay expanding the hours for paid parking in Wheaton. They proposed any increase to on-street parking in Bethesda should be held to a maximum of $3.25 an hour, down from the $4 proposed in the plan from County Executive Marc Elrich. Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, expressed some concern with the timing of the increase, pointing out that it comes during the county’s budget process, when the focus is on big-ticket items lawmakers. Speaking during Tuesday’s council meeting, Friedson said of the parking fee plan, “This is kind of a side note until it’s not, and when it’s not, it blows up” and leaves residents with a feeling of sticker shock.

Montgomery council approves modified union contract, after rejecting earlier raises
May 13, 2019 -  The Montgomery County Council on Monday voted to approve a union contract for county workers that walked back some negotiated pay increases, saying the more modest hikes were better aligned with the county’s finances.  The 7-2 vote was an indication that the all-Democratic council is prepared to limit first-year County Executive Marc Elrich’s spending, including on items important to the labor unions that are a key part of his support base.  Last month, the council rejected the package the Elrich administration negotiated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994 Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO) and sent them back to the bargaining table ... While the county executive negotiates with the unions, ultimate approval of the contracts rests with the council, and the council’s move last month to call for the contract to be renegotiated led to promises of political retribution from angry union members.  On Monday, council members Hans Riemer (D-At Large) and Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) cast the two votes against the renegotiated contract.

Plan to Fully Fund MCPS Budget Passes Council
May 13, 2019 - Anticipating additional state funding, the Montgomery County Council on Monday added $16 million to the amount of money requested by the county’s school system for its 2020 budget...The unanimous council vote, made as members were putting finishing touches on a number of budget categories, sets aside $2.68 billion for the state’s largest school system and is millions more than requested by the Board of Education. The majority of additional funding is expected to come from the state and depends on the governor signing legislation spawned from the Kirwan Commission, a group that studied ways to improve Maryland schools. The legislation would provide $24.4 million for county schools in fiscal 2020. The legislation mandates how the additional funding must be used, including for special education services, to assist low-income students, provide mental health resources and increase teacher salaries. Money will also be put toward extended school year programs at two Silver Spring elementary schools, adding assistant principals at some schools and strengthening background checks for school staff.  County Executive Marc Elrich earlier this year attracted criticism when he recommended a $2.64 billion budget for the school system, about $14.5 million less than it sought — a cut that council member Andrew Friedson called “fatally flawed” because it didn’t fully fund the school board’s request.

County Committee Recommends Maintaining $692 Property Tax Credit
May 2, 2019 - A Montgomery County Council committee took a preliminary vote Thursday to maintain the county’s property tax credit at $692 for owner-occupied residences, saying it was important to keep County Executive Marc Elrich’s campaign pledge not to raise property taxes. Homeowners who are permanent residents in their homes are eligible for the property tax credit each year, as a measure of shifting the tax burden to commercial and rental properties. The credit has been set at $692 since fiscal 2011, and Elrich proposed maintaining that rate for fiscal 2020. Elrich has proposed a property tax rate of 98 cents per $100 of property, which is unchanged from last year’s. Council staff had recommended increasing the tax credit to $800, which would account for inflation that has occurred in the last eight years, as well as help property owners who have seen their assessments rise...Committee members Nancy Navarro, Sidney Katz and Andrew Friedson all expressed support for maintaining the current credit to keep Elrich’s promise of not raising taxes. Sesker also warned during a hearing Thursday that a tax credit increase would shift the burden more to rental properties which could lead to rent increases for tenants. “This effectively would be a tax increase, and we also need to be mindful that are renters are growing, and this would have some impact on our renter population,” Friedson said.

Council Agrees To Cut $90 Million From Retirement Health Benefit Fund
May 1, 2019 - A plan that shifts $89.5 million away from the county’s retiree health benefits trust fund was approved Tuesday in an 8-1 Montgomery County Council vote. The cut to the fund, known as the Other Post-Employment Benefits, or OPEB, was proposed by County Executive Marc Elrich to account for a projected $80 million shortfall in state tax revenue and preserve a reserve fund. Council member Andrew Friedson, the lone opponent, said he worries that the county has “fallen into a spiral” of making mid-fiscal year cuts and that the trust fund is often a target. “Unfortunately the OPEB trust fund has been used in recent years, not just by this administration, but by previous administrations as well as basically a reserve account to solve serious budget shortfalls, and that spiral has been a huge challenge, and isn’t something we’ll get out of unless we implement some serious structural changes,” he said. Friedson, a former employee in the comptroller’s office, warned that “the longer we wait to fund it [OPEB], the more expensive it gets.”
Council Rebuffs County Union's Contract, Calls for Parity in Raises
April 30, 2019 - Montgomery County will go back to the contract bargaining table with its largest employees union after the County Council Tuesday afternoon rejected a budget proposal that would grant some workers raises of more than 9%. Several hundred employees represented by the Local 1994 MCGEO union attended the council meeting after there were growing indications that the nine-member council was unsettled by the cost of the pay raises and whether they were sustainable in light of predictions of a slowing economy...The contract, as proposed, includes pay raises of up to 9.4% for some county employees. The increases were included as “make up steps” from previous years following the 2008 recession when the council voted not to fully fund MCGEO contracts. The council has rejected negotiated contracts in the past, said county spokesman Neil Greenberger, but it is rare. Greenberger said the years following the recession left the county without the revenue that would be needed to fund the contracts. “Similar things were happening around the nation with local governments. The Montgomery County unions interpreted these actions not as raises that would not be honored, but as raises that were going to be deferred,” he said....Council member Andrew Friedson wrote in a statement that the vote was “not one he took lightly” but that he couldn’t “support a compensation package that we know is unaffordable.” “Our residents rightfully expect that we live within our means and today’s action reflects that expectation,” he wrote.

Pay for New County Cabinet Positions 'A Bit of A Challenge'
April 29, 2019 - Salaries proposed for three cabinet positions being created by County Executive Marc Elrich received scrutiny Monday during a meeting of the County Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. In  February , Elrich said he wanted to hire a chief digital officer, chief labor relations officer and chief equity officer as non-merit positions. At the same time, he eliminated four merit positions in the departments of finance, liquor control, human resources and procurement, along with a technology specialist. Elrich estimates the changes will save $750,000 per year. He has also said that because the three positions will be under his direct supervision, he will have greater control. Elrich pledged during his campaign to make county government more efficient. As his administration enters its sixth month, he has yet to appoint nine permanent officers, in addition to a permanent police chief and an inspector general to replace Edward Blansitt, who will retire this summer...Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine said Monday that the county is recruiting for the equity and digital officers. An interview with a candidate for the labor relations officer is planned, he said, but he is not ready to release the name. Kleine said to this point, all salaries for new cabinet appointees have been lower than that of their predecessors. He said he doesn’t anticipate the need to increase any salary above $210,000 but it might be necessary “in some situations.” “It is competitive and gives us the ability to compete for talent,” Kleine said of the salary levels. Council member Andrew Friedson said he understood the need for the county to provide competitive salaries, but worried about salaries growing to unsustainable levels. “If that person stays for a decade, which we hope they will stay for a long time, then their salary gets way beyond that because of cost-of-living increases and other factors,” he said. “That to me is a bit of a challenge, and as we’re making decisions about how we make sustainable choices, salaries in county government is a real place to demonstrate leadership.”

Council Wants $5 Million More for Affordable Housing Projects
April 26, 2019 - A County Council committee is requesting an additional $5 million for the county’s Housing Initiative Fund construction budget. County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposed capital budget, which covers fiscal 2019 through 2024, includes $17 million for the fund,  established in 1988 as a dedicated source of money for building affordable housing. In addition, more than $41 million is included in Elrich’s proposed fiscal 2020 operating budget for the Housing Initiative Fund. The housing fund provides a mechanism for construction and preservation of affordable housing. During budget reviews this week, council member Andrew Friedson proposed increasing the funding, noting that increases in average rent have outpaced the rise in median income between 2010 and 2015. Former County Executive Isiah Leggett had appropriated $16 million for the housing fund for the current fiscal year, but the council approved a similar increase, bringing the total to $22 million. “The County Executive’s proposed funding below FY 19 levels takes us a step backwards in having the financial wherewithal to build additional units so desperately needed to keep up with the demand for affordable housing,” Friedson wrote in a memo to five of his council colleagues. Friedson also noted that more than 32,000 low-income residents have been on a waiting list for the Housing Opportunities Commission, which runs subsidized housing programs and projects, and that 14% of the county’s rental housing was built after 2000.

Council Debates Higher Street Parking Rates in Bethesda, Silver Spring
April 25, 2019 - Members of the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee don’t agree on whether to increase the ceiling for on-street parking to $4 per hour. County Executive Marc Elrich has proposed a demand-pricing model for parking meters in downtown Bethesda under which users would be charged higher rates at busy times of the day. The goal is to reduce traffic congestion and shift the volume of parking from the streets to garages. Currently, on-street meters in Bethesda charge users $2 per hour, with most garages costing $1 per hour. Council member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes Bethesda, said businesses have reacted negatively to the proposal. Motorists who pay parking meters using a mobile app on their phone, instead of feeding coins into the meter, could be in for a rude awakening, he said. “The person charged that 78% increase is not gonna find out until they look at their app,” he said...The committee is scheduled to revisit the parking rate issue at its May 2 meeting. The full council will approve its marked up budget in late May.

Friedson
Wants All County Legislation To Carry Fiscal Impact Estimate

April 22, 2019 - Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson wants to require a report estimating the fiscal impact of all legislation considered by the council. Friedson, one of four new members elected last fall, said the goal is to provide legislation “with more teeth” by requiring proposed bills to define and quantify the impact or costs the legislation could impose on businesses and residents. “I believe that every decision that we make shouldn’t just be about our county budget, but about the budgets of Montgomery County residents and small businesses,” he said....“It shouldn’t require a small business owner to take time out of their schedule to claim that this has an impact on their business,” he said. We shouldn’t be relying on them.” Friedson said the fiscal note legislation is being drafted and will likely be introduced next month.

Revised Accessory Apartment Plan Sets Limits on Size
April 19, 2019 - The Montgomery County Council’s proposal to allow more accessory dwelling units, sometimes called in-law apartments, has been amended to tighten restrictions on the size of some units and ease parking-space requirements for others. Since January, the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee has been reviewing a proposal by council member Hans Riemer to increase the number of ADUs in the county by allowing them in three additional residential zones. An amendment would limit the apartments to 10% of the size of the property, with a maximum of 1,200 square feet. Additionally, the requirement that the ADU provide an additional parking spot would be waived for units that are within a mile of Metrorail stations or future Purple Line light rail stops, and in Takoma Park...Council member Andrew Friedson, who is also a member of the planning committee, said he has brought up the issue of accessory apartments at his weekly community meetings. “We’ve spent a tremendous amount of effort reaching out to as many folks as possible,” he said. Friedson said most of the ADUs will be on lots that are smaller than 1 acre, with the three residential zones having minimum lot sizes of 6,000, 9,000 and 20,000 square feet. “What we’re typically talking about here are smaller than 1 acre lots. What this bill does is it extends the ability to have an detached ADU in a less-than-an-acre lot,” he said. Friedson said the one-mile rule for the parking waiver doesn’t assume that everyone who lives close to transit will have a car. In the case of the Takoma Park, he said that some ADUs are on properties slightly beyond one mile of a transit line, and city staff had asked for the accommodation. “Rather than try to overcomplicate it, they have a unique circumstance, and it was carved out accordingly,” he said.

Naturepedic Organic Mattresses is Montgomery County's 85th Green Business; MoCo is first US ...
April 19, 2019 - This Friday, Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson will celebrate his district’s own Naturepedic, the leading U.S. manufacturer of organic mattresses and bedding, for becoming the 85th company to be certified to the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program. The Naturepedic Organic Mattress Gallery is located at 11802-A Rockville Pike, near the Old Georgetown Road entrance of the popular Pike & Rose development. The gallery also is the first company in the county to earn the certification for meeting the stringent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which prohibits the use of toxic ingredients in organic apparel and home textiles. Only in January did the county’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) formally incorporate GOTS into its set of qualifying standards. In doing so, Montgomery County became the first and only U.S. jurisdiction to formally recognize GOTS. “Montgomery County is a national leader when it comes to environmental sustainability, so it is fitting that Naturepedic has chosen a livable, walkable, and accessible community like the Pike District for its DC area gallery,” says Councilmember Friedson. “I congratulate them on joining a diverse array of Green Business Certified companies, thank them for their commitment to organic products and enthusiastically welcome them to our community.”

Bethesda Street Parking Could Increase to $4 An Hour at Peak Times
April 18, 2019 - The hourly parking rate at meters in downtown Bethesda could nearly double to $4 an hour at busy times under a proposal from the county executive. County Executive Marc Elrich’s budget includes a recommendation for a “demand pricing” model for parking meters in Bethesda. The model would resemble Metro’s fare structure, which charges higher rates during rush hour periods. The maximum rate would increase to $4 per hour, with the goal of shifting drivers to spaces in public garages and reducing traffic congestion...Council member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes Bethesda, said he thinks the increase to $4 is “too fast and too soon.” He added that although he is not opposed to parking rate increases in general, these types of “draconian” measures risk hurting small businesses at a time when the county’s economy is struggling. “The question is, how do we make sure that it’s done in a transparent way and a gradual way. Doing it virtually overnight is too much and too fast for the public to understand it, and for retailers to address it,” he said. Friedson said the council’s transportation and environment committee will be addressing the parking issue in hearings next week. If approved by the council, the new rates would take effect July 1.

County's Tax-Supported Business Incubators are 'Bleeding Money'
April 5, 2019 - Montgomery County’s three small-business incubators are losing more than $1 million a year and the county is considering hiring an outside consultant to help bolster them. “Now that we’re bleeding out these leases, I’m a little bit concerned that our goal isn’t to figure out how to create a program … it’s how do we get the money back for these assets that are bleeding money,” said County Council member Andrew Friedson at a Thursday meeting of the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. The committee reviewed a report showing a center in Germantown was losing $575,000 a year, the Rockville incubator was losing $590,000 and the Silver Spring incubator was down by $107,000 a year, as of Dec. 31. The tax-subsidized incubator program started in 1995 to help foster startups in emerging fields, such as biotechnology and information technology, and there are 20 to 30 companies at each of the three incubators. A nonprofit economic development corporation that replaced the county government’s economic development office in 2016 took over the incubator program, which also works with Montgomery College in Germantown. “I think at the very least, we need to figure out how the goals of this incubator program align with the EDC’s [economic development corporation] strategic plan, because it seems we’re sending our ships in different directions but without intentionality,” Friedson said. “Recently the program was described as lame, and it’s gotten to be lame and stagnant. It needs focus, and these companies need to be encouraged to graduate,” said Ruth Semple, an economic development manager who met with the committee. Friedson said he is worried that the incubator program has gotten into the habit of “throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks.”...Friedson, a former employee in the state comptroller’s office, said he wants to know what the county is paying for. “I would like to know not only what we are expecting to pay, but what we are expecting to get out of it and what the results have been in other jurisdictions,” he said. The Germantown incubator has a biotechnology focus, Rockville includes information technology and Silver Spring concentrates on cybersecurity.

Council, Retirees Decry Lack of Funding for Health Care Trust Fund
April 2, 2019 - The county executive’s  $5.7 billion proposed budget isn’t sitting well with County Council members who are worried that the county won’t be able to meet long-term obligations for funding a health-benefits trust fund started nearly a decade ago for retirees. “I gotta tell you, I could pass a lie detector test. This is the worst budget I’ve ever seen,” Council Vice President Sidney Katz said. Katz and his eight council colleagues met Tuesday with the board of the Montgomery County Retired Employees Association to discuss concerns over a  budget decision by County Executive Marc Elrich that shifted nearly $90 million in funding from the Other Post-Employment Benefits trust fund for the current fiscal year....But council member Andrew Friedson, a former employee in the state comptroller’s office, dismissed the prediction by Madaleno, a former state senator who represented Montgomery County before he ran for governor last year. “I have tremendous respect for Senator Madaleno, and we’ve worked together, and I think of him as highly as anybody who has served, but hope is not a strategy,” Friedson said. “If we are depending on the federal government to change policy in order to save us from our obligations, we are in for a really tough sled.” Friedson said the county needs to be prepared for the possibility of increasing health care costs, and that fully funding OPEB is an “obligation, not an option. “We’re not fully funding their benefits,” he said.
County Council yearns for transparency in MCP Chief search
March 28, 2019 - County Council member Will Jawando urged transparency and community involvement in the selection process for a new Montgomery County chief of police in a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich on March 18.  Jawando, joined by all eight of the other council members, wrote the letter to Elrich as a call for a more open selection process. The current police chief, J. Thomas Manger, announced earlier this year that he will be stepping down from his position in April. He served in Montgomery County for 42 years.... Councilmember Andrew Friedson is one of the other members who co-signed the letter to the county executive. He felt that urging for transparency in the selection process was important because the police chief position is a critical role within the county.  “The process to select a new chief should be defined by inclusivity, transparency, community input, and communication,” he said. “It should be approached with an open mind and with careful scrutiny.”

New Limits On Parking Spaces Being Debated
March 27, 2019 - A  proposal  that could require large commercial and residential properties in the county to have fewer parking spaces in an effort to force greater use of public transportation and get cars off the road is being questioned by business groups. County Executive Marc Elrich is pressing for updated regulations that would require building owners countywide to have a “traffic mitigation plan” designed to get more people onto public transit or carpools by cutting the number of parking spaces for commuters. At present, five areas in the county – Bethesda, North Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring and Shady Grove – require businesses with 25 or more employees to have the plans, which also mandate designated parking spots for carpoolers and van services. Each of the areas also sets a goal for the number of employees not driving to work, which ranges between 18 percent in Shady Grove to 46 percent for Silver Spring. The County Council’s transportation and environment committee last week began reviewing the proposal, with council members agreeing more study and public input is needed. The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce is among the groups opposing the change that it says puts additional restrictions on developers and owners....The plan the council is considering was formulated by former County Executive Isiah Leggett and has been amended by Elrich, whose changes mandate that each building with a transportation management plan “demonstrate progress” toward its commuting goal, or the county’s Department of Transportation would then have the authority to limit parking availability for use by employees commuting during peak periods....A separate component of the bill that would levy additional fees on all existing non-multi-family residential and commercial development was recommended by council staff. Council member Andrew Friedson, who is not on the committee but represents an area that includes Bethesda’s central business district, wrote in a memo that he was “alarmed” by the recommendation. “This is a dramatic policy change being proposed after the public hearing on this Bill and with extremely limited, if any, opportunity for the public to consider or comment. I am especially concerned that this would amount to a new tax on residents of multi-family buildings throughout the County,” he wrote. “Dramatic policy changes such as this one should be debated publicly, transparently, and openly. In this case, I do not believe those who will be impacted by this new tax have been provided sufficient opportunity.”

Proposed Accessory Apartment Rule Changes Challenged
March 26, 2019 - Members of the Montgomery County Council continued Tuesday to hash out details of a proposal that would open additional parts of the county for the addition of accessory dwelling units at private houses. At issue are several details such as whether the county’s current requirement of 1,200 square feet should be deleted, whether only to allow the units at existing homes and how much parking should be required....The committee also debated the county’s parking requirements for accessory units, requiring two spaces must be provided – one for the main house and another for the apartment. Council member Andrew Friedson, whose district includes Bethesda, suggested waiving the requirement for properties that are within a half-mile of Metrorail stations. “We too often assume that everyone is going to have a car, so I think it would be better if these were incentivized for these to be closer to where transit is,” he said. “Why force someone to pave an impervious surface driveway if that person isn’t going to use  a car?”...The council committee is schedule to take up theissue again at its April 4 meeting before the issue goes before the full council.

Pay Raise Plan Sparks Questions over 'Whether Our County Budget is Sustainable'
March 25, 2019 - Several pay and benefits recommendations in County Executive Marc Elrich’s budget proposal are being criticized by County Council members who worry that raises for county employees, combined with putting off a payment for a retirees health-benefit trust fund, aren’t the most fiscally responsible course. Under a $5.7 billion budget plan released earlier this month and being scrutinized by the council, some union workers could get raises of close to 10 percent in part because they agreed to forego increases several years ago in a limping economy and were promised the increases when conditions improved. In addition, the Elrich budget would not put money next year into the county’s retirement health benefits trust fund, established in 2011 to provide health care, prescription and life insurance coverage to employees, retirees and their dependents. Council member Andrew Friedson said while he understands the economic pressures Elrich faces, he is concerned that the county exercise fiscal discipline. “We all appreciate the hard work of our public employees. The challenge is whether our county budget is sustainable in the long term,” Friedson said...Friedson, who previously worked in the state comptroller’s office, said the county must heed warnings from the comptroller of a possible recession. This, he said, requires increasing the retirement fund, in addition to boosting the reserve fund and bringing down debt.

Montgomery County to hold community conversations on racial equity
March 13, 2019 - Montgomery County, Maryland, officials are hosting a series of conversations centered on racial disparities in housing, education and economic opportunities. Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro said there’s a very practical reason for taking on issues around racial equity. In announcing the series of community conversations, she said, “When all of our residents have access to opportunities, then everybody benefits here in Montgomery County.” A look at Census figures from 2011 to 2015 helps illustrate why officials say they want to talk about this now. Statistics compiled by the county show unemployment rates at 4 percent for white residents, 5 percent for Asian residents, 8 percent for Latino residents and 20 percent for African-Americans. As for statistics around children living in poverty, 2 percent of white children come from homes that struggle economically, while the figures were seven times higher for Latino children and eight times higher, at 16 percent, for African-American children...Council member Andrew Friedson said he’s looking forward to the work ahead, calling racial inequity a stain on society. “And like any stain, if you don’t acknowledge it, if you don’t address it, it sets. You might get comfortable with it. You might get even accept it,” he said.

Teachers, County Officials March For Education Funding in Annapolis
March 12, 2019 - Thousands of teachers took buses to Annapolis Tuesday to march in support of increased education funding in the state of Maryland. County leaders including councilmembers, leaders from the Board of Education, and the county executive joined teachers in solidarity for the march.  In a social media message to MCM, Councilmember Andrew Friedson said that his experiences as a former Montgomery County Public Schools student and son of an MCPS teacher made attending the march especially important.  “As the son of a former MCPS teacher and the proud product of our great Public Schools, I was honored to ride the bus with local educators and inspired to join more than 8000 teachers and advocates from around the state to march for our schools,” said Friedson.  According to  The Washington Post , Maryland teachers say that schools have been “underfunded by as much as $2.9 billion per year.”

'Our Kids Can't Wait:' 8500 Rally for Education Funding
March 12, 2019 - More than 8,500 educators, activists and students clad in red gathered Monday evening in the state capital, urging legislators to increase public school funding....Teachers and parents who participated said class sizes are too big, buildings are too old and teachers are underpaid, citing state Department of Education statistics that say Maryland schools are annually underfunded by $2.9 billion.  Montgomery County’s per pupil spending — about $16,500 – is the fifth highest in Maryland. The county’s school board operating budget proposal for the next budget year is $2.65 billion, a roughly 2 percent increase from this year. Montgomery County teachers, parents, elected officials and some students joined the rally and said with recommendations to improve schools outlined by a commission studying education priorities, “the time is now” to increase school funding. They wore red, rang cowbells to show support for speakers and carried signs that read “Our kids can’t wait,” “Fund our schools” and “The time is now.” They wore red, rang cowbells to show support for speakers and carried signs that read “Our kids can’t wait,” “Fund our schools” and “The time is now.” Organizers estimated the turnout to be the largest for a demonstration in Annapolis in nearly a decade. Montgomery County government has a four-year plan to expand access to pre-kindergarten teachers. Additionally, the Board of Education has added money to its budget to reduce elementary class sizes. But without help from the state, students’ education isn’t reaching its full potential, they say. “Our public schools are our most indispensable and social and economic resource. Tomorrow is already too late to make the necessary investments in our future,” District 1 County Council member Andrew Friedson said after the rally. “Our kids can’t wait. Our teachers can’t wait. Our communities and our economy can’t wait.”

County Council meeting addresses a wide array of issues
March 8, 2019 - The Montgomery County Council met for a regular session to work on legislation affecting communities in the area... Another issue addressed during the meeting was efforts toward improving renters’ rights in the county. Councilman Tom Hucker introduced the Tenant Health and Safety Act, which allows renters to terminate a lease agreement with 30 days’ notice if they are living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions.  The bill states that if the landlord does not address problems such as mold, insect or rodent infestations, or other unhealthy living conditions, the renter would be allowed to move without having to pay a hefty fine for violating the lease agreement.  The Tenant Health and Safety Act, according to the councilman, was born out out of efforts to increase renters’ protection in recent years. The county has required more frequent housing inspections and added nine new inspectors to check the livability of buildings in Montgomery County... Hucker received support for the bill by other council members as well. Councilman Andrew Friedson explained that he bill is designed to weed out only the bad landlords by enforcing healthy living conditions.  “I think it’s a good example of dealing with these issues with a scalpel as opposed to a hammer,” Friedson said. “It’s quite clear that there is a small number of bad landlords, and most landlords are good. They want to treat their folks well; they want their properties to increase in value.”  He went on to explain that by protecting the good landlords, the council can also protect the families that live under their management. The bill, he said, continues the council’s work towards healthy and safe living conditions for everyone in Montgomery County.

County Clamping Down on 'Troubled' Rental Properties
March 5, 2019 - Montgomery County leaders on Tuesday laid the groundwork to require expedited improvements at nearly 100 county apartment properties. A regulation enacted by the council establishes guidelines for multifamily housing complexes cited by county housing inspectors and requires landlords to implement an “action plan” to correct serious violations that adversely affect renters’ health or safety in a timely manner. Housing developments on a county “troubled property” list will be required to have at least an annual inspection to ensure safety of tenants, while other properties are to be inspected every three years...District 1 Councilman Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said the majority of landlords in Montgomery County are “good,” but the legislation creates a safety net for residents who find themselves renting from “bad” landlords. “For the small number of folks who don’t do things the right way … we ought to do everything we possibly can to protect tenants,” Friedson said.

Council Confirms Two Aides for County Executive's Office
March 1, 2019 - Two assistant chief administrative officers for Montgomery County government were unanimously approved by the County Council Thursday. Alfred Jerome Fletcher II and Caroline Sturgis will assist CAO Andrew Kleine in carrying out County Executive Marc Elrich’s priorities...Fletcher, 44, of Woodbridge, Virginia, has spent a career in government, working during the past year as the senior deputy director for the District of Columbia’s Department of Small and Local Business development and as an administrator in the District’s general services agency for several years. His areas of focus will be working with county departments and staff to grow the economy and make government more sustainable — two key pledges Elrich made during last year’s campaign. Sturgis, 44, of Baltimore, has experience that includes more than one year as deputy budget director for Baltimore City, as well as several other government positions in the city that included chief financial officer for the police department. She will work with the county police department and other agencies to carry out Elrich’s goals of improving neighborhood safety and helping youth and families thrive. Kleine, during a previous meeting, said his assistants differ from previous administrations, in that they are both managers within the county executive’s office, but also liaisons to other departments that are responsible for helping the county executive achieve his vision. This prompted some confusion among council members at Thursday’s hearing, particularly from council member Andrew Friedson.“Who is the ACAO we’re supposed to call when there’s a DHCA [housing] issue, so Andrew Kleine doesn’t get all of the calls? If we don’t have very specific areas, I don’t think any of us will know who we’re supposed to call,” he said. Friedson said he didn’t mean the question as a criticism, but as a request for clarity. “Sometimes it seems like there are specific departments where the ACAO is viewed as directly tied, and sometimes the answer is, ‘we’re looking for collaboration,’” said.

Bethesda Metro Center Project Changed To Include 489 Residences
March 1, 2019 - Developers of a 500,000-square-foot high rise in the heart of Bethesda have solidified plans that will include up to 489 new residences and some shops. Brookfield Property Partners last year proposed two options for the project at 4 Bethesda Metro Center, one devoting the entire building to retail and office, and the other a mixed-use project with up to 465,000 square feet of residential space...Speaking generally about Bethesda housing earlier this month, District 1 Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said it’s important to provide adequate housing, but he hopes to make office and retail space more viable downtown. “While we do need to build housing and aren’t keeping up with housing needs we have … we also need to make sure we’re growing jobs and amenities as well so the private sector economy is growing to grow the tax base and maintain a high-level quality of life,” Friedson said.
Poolesville Makes A Case for New High School, Community and Health Service Center
February 27, 2019 - After a year of advocacy, Poolesville residents have rallied to draft a comprehensive list of requests to bring “equal access” to county services in upper Montgomery County. In a white paper released Wednesday, the town of Poolesville and its Fair Access for Western Montgomery County committee outlined a proposal that would locate a new high school, health clinic, police station and community gymnasium in one facility in an effort to provide regional services to the largely rural area that the report calls a “services desert.” The white paper is the community’s first formal, organized effort to urge county leaders to provide a multi-use facility in Poolesville, and provides a framework for what services residents feel they need...District 1 Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Poolesville, said he believes the Poolesville Fair Access committee has gained the traction needed to grab government officials’ attention, and said he’s committed to finding a way to provide county services in the western half of the county without disrupting the ag reserve, which is protected from over development by county legislation. “There’s a need there and people are aware of it,” Friedson said. “Every part of the county has needs, and this area is not an exception.”

New County Procurement Director Vows To Foster Business-Friendly Atmosphere
February 28, 2019 - Montgomery County’s new procurement director, Ash Shetty, thinks it’s time for the county to streamline processes to make the department more friendly to businesses...Shetty, 39, was confirmed unanimously by the Montgomery County Council Tuesday as the next procurement director. He will oversee an office that is responsible for working with businesses to acquire goods and services and its dealings with contractors. The county bought more than $1 billion in goods in services during fiscal 2018, which included everything from recycling materials to drug screening services...Council members were enthusiastic about Shetty’s new outlook on the county’s approach to procurement.“I spent a lot of time at the state level doing procurement… and I think the amount of times you talked about the lack of competition having a cost is encouraging,” said Council member Andrew Friedson, who previously worked in Comptroller Peter Franchot’s office as a senior policy adviser.

Safety Concerns Rekindled After Window Pane Falls Off Bethesda Building
February 21, 2019 - Sidewalks around a Bethesda office building have been ordered closed until inspectors can determine why at least one glass window pane broke loose and shattered on the pavement Monday afternoon. County Director of Permitting Services Diane Schwartz Jones said she is aware of three instances of windowpanes falling from the building since 2017, and county officials have ordered the blocks adjacent to the property closed until they are able to determine the cause and a solution. “If it’s a one-time occurrence, that can happen for any number of reasons … but clearly there’s more that needs to be done at this point,” she said. “I know it will be an inconvenience (to close the sidewalks), but I’d rather inconvenience people to keep them safe for a short time to really understand what’s going on here.”...Montgomery County Council District 1 representative Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, called the falling window panes a “serious situation” and is pleased with the county’s quick response to Monday’s occurrence. “Regardless of where it is, having glass panes dropping from high buildings is just not an acceptable or safe situation,” Friedson said. “I hope DPS, the property owners and building engineers can resolve the situation as quickly as possible to make sure the tenants and pedestrians can utilize the space freely and without concern of extremely dangerous projectiles falling.”

County Council Committee Pushes To Keep Money for Metrorail Station Improvements
February 15, 2019 - A Montgomery County Council committee wants funding for station improvements at the Forest Glen and White Flint Metrorail stations to remain a priority in the county’s construction-projects budget. County Executive Marc Elrich last month  recommended  deferring $14.7 million from the White Flint and Forest Glen stations projects and pursuing funding from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the regional subway system. Elrich recommended delaying funding for Forest Glen by two years and deferring funding for White Flint beyond the six-year period that the Capital Improvements Program budget covers. But council Transportation and Environment committee members Tom Hucker, Hans Riemer, Evan Glass and Andrew Friedson indicated that they would not accept the Elrich’s amendments to the CIP budget, which the council is reviewing...Friedson, whose council district includes White Flint, said a lack of county funding for the White Flint entrance sends the wrong message to private sector companies that the county hopes to attract. “Symbols do matter and actions do matter,” he said.

International School of Music Opens New Location In Potomac
February 12, 2019 -  The Potomac community welcomes the International School of Music to their neighborhood with open arms! The grand opening of ISM's new Potomac Location at Cabin John Mall was a huge hit and over 300 people attended the event, joining the support of the Rockville Chamber of Commerce and Montgomery County Council Member, Andrew M. Friedson, who gave a warm welcome speech...The International School of Music, voted best for music instruction by Washington Families, offers one of the finest music programs to the greater DC community.  Founded in 2004, ISM's mission is to create extraordinary musical experiences that enrich lives and empower youth to become more confident, creative and empathetic human beings.  ISM offers music lessons in all instruments and voice to over 1,500 students of all ages, levels and abilities, in addition to its Early Childhood Music classes, chamber ensembles and Adult music program. With locations in  Bethesda and  Potomac, ISM is renowned for its world-class faculty of professional musicians who facilitate a unique combination of high quality music education and performance opportunities that shape and inspire young, well-versed musicians.
Capital Budget Plan Delays Funding for Metro Station Improvements
January 17, 2019 - Funding has been delayed for improvements at two Metrorail stations at opposite ends of the Red Line in Montgomery County. District 1 council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said he was concerned about the delay for the White Flint project, which would involve creating a tunnel from the station to the shopping, restaurant and residential center Pike & Rose, near Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road.“The county executive’s proposal suggests WMATA could pay for that. Committing to fund this is a critical priority for the district and also for transit,” Friedson said.Friedson said he was unsure whether WMATA would be willing to foot the bill for the two Metro station projects.“They’re [the two projects] connected because it’s a joint item, and they’re equally important to promoting Metro as the backbone of our transportation network,” he said.Friedson said he appreciates the budget constraints the county is under, but a number of the cuts in the proposed CIP “disproportionately” impact his district, including a $793,000 reduction in funding for pedestrian and bike safety improvements along Seven Locks Road between Montrose Road and Bradley Boulevard.The improvements are projected to cost $24.9 million, but funding has been delayed one year “due to affordability” according to the county executive’s amendment.“Those communities [in my district] have waited a significant period of time for these projects,” Friedson said.
Montgomery Officials Call on Metro To Restore Late Night Service
December 13, 2018 - More than 40 elected officials from Montgomery County are asking the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority to restore Metrorail service between midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends. In a letter sent Wednesday to Paul Wiedefeld, the chairman of the authority, the leaders said “our residents and businesses have now made sacrifices for two years, in order to provide ample time for track maintenance. It is now time to try and win back riders with a restoration of service hours…” The letter was signed by leaders including Montgomery’s county executive and mayors of Rockville and Takoma Park, and about 25 officials from neighboring Prince George’s County. Newly elected Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents District 1, said late night Metro service is key to nightlife in the county. “Late night service is critical for the service industry, the late night economy [and] for public safety,” he said Thursday morning after a breakfast meeting in North Bethesda.

Crews Mark Beginning of Chevy Chase Lake's Newest Project
December 13, 2018 - A swath of land with a rich history of entertainment and retail uses will soon be home to a mixed-use neighborhood incorporating shopping, transit and residences...Recently, the Chevy Chase Lake shopping center at the intersection was torn down to make way for the new 790,000-square-foot project...“People have entrusted our company with … the history of this property, the history of this community and the opportunity to take it to its next act, if you will,” said Tom Bozzuto, chairman of the Bozzuto Group. “If you think about it as a play that’s been going on for a century, and we have the opportunity not to change it, but to take it into the next stage.” Council member Andrew Friedson spoke at the ceremony and said developers have incorporated amenities critical in creating a “modern, livable, walkable and accessible community while also preserving the character of the community.” Thursday’s groundbreaking marked the start of the first phase of the mixed-use, transit-oriented development and will include construction of two of the buildings oriented around a neighborhood square.

New Montgomery County Council members talk segregation, accessible communities
December 6, 2018 - The newly formed 19th Montgomery County Council invited dozens of local media members to their headquarters on Thursday.  Representatives from over a dozen media outlets met with the new wave of county leadership, including first-time council members Gabe Albornoz, Will Jawando, Evan Glass and Andrew Friedson...Friedson ran on a platform of building more walkable communities and is on the planning and economic development committee."We have to focus on growing an economy that provides better jobs and higher wages and also livable walkable accessible communities that young families increasingly want, that workers increasingly want and that businesses are increasingly looking for."

Friedson Takes Walking Tour of Downtown Bethesda
December 5, 2018 - New Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson was joined by 20 government officials, business leaders and other community stakeholders Wednesday morning for a listening tour, with the goal of determining the most immediate quality-of-life issues facing Bethesda’s central business district...It was the third day on the job for Friedson, a Bethesda resident. At various points throughout the morning, he stopped to take note of intersections with inadequate pedestrian crosswalks and chatted with group members about upcoming business plans for the area such as the opening of the new Marriott headquarters in 2022. Asked by Bethesda Beat about his short-term goals for the downtown area, Friedson said pedestrian safety was a priority. “There is a comprehensive list of broad changes we could make in this urban environment, particularly when it comes to making things safer for pedestrians and bikers and safe, convenient, high quality mobility access,” he said.