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Andrew Friedson

Councilmember

Andrew Friedson
 

Andrew in the News

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.

 

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.

# Friedson is a life-long Democrat and District I resident. He attended Wayside Elementary School, Herbert Hoover Middle School and Winston Churchill High School before going to the University of Maryland, College Park.

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
Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA): Emily Russ, administrative secretary

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.

# 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.



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