December 7, 2011
Today the County Council voted 6-3 for my motion to “table” the County Executive’s proposed youth curfew.
Since the curfew was first proposed in July, Montgomery County has significantly increased its police presence in certain hot spot areas where troubling incidents have occurred.
The result of this increase in police staffing has been remarkable: According to MCPD data, while in previous years we averaged 6 robberies per month, now we are averaging 1.5. In other words, crime has fallen to less than a third of what it was in downtown Silver Spring.
These facts on the ground have changed my view of the need for a proposed curfew at this time. At the same time, I cannot rule out the possible need for a curfew down the road. That is why I proposed to keep it “on the shelf” by tabling it. I think that is the right position for the county now.
I will continue to monitor the facts on the ground closely and do everything I can to make our community safe for our kids and all residents; and I will continue to view a youth curfew as a measure of last resort.
Thank you for weighing in on this important community issue. I will keep looking for practical ways to have a positive impact and I will look to you to help me achieve it. In addition, public safety will be one of the many issues discussed at my Town Hall Solutions Forum on Monday, December 12 at 7pm in Richard Montgomery High School‘s cafeteria.
December 2, 2011
Yesterday, I attended a policy forum on workforce training hosted by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution. It was a very informative event and has given me a lot to think about for policy making in Montgomery County. I also attended a legislative dinner hosted by the MCCPTA. I enjoyed the chance to meet many of the activists from around the county, and as a bonus, I got to eat with my friend Juan Johnson, a PTA leader from Germantown whom I’ve known since my earliest jobs in DC in 1995 or so.
Today I was invited to join a meeting of childcare center directors. Needless to say, with a toddler and an infant in my family, I am interested in this topic. I sat with several directors of childcare centers and Uma Ahluwalia, the county’s director of Health and Human Services. I believe wholeheartedly we must do more to support early childhood programs. Particularly in Montgomery County where many of our youngest children are English language learners, the more we can do at an early age the better off we will all be since all of our kids are in the same classrooms.
Today also featured much wrangling on the topic of the curfew. There is a Post story out now describing how I have worked with council president Berliner to put the curfew on a “shelf” so to speak. I have mixed feelings about it as do many people. Regardless, the enhanced police enforcement in Silver Spring and Burtonsville that we budgeted this year is working well — crime is one third (!!) of what it was before the up-staffing — and I think we should wait to see if that progress is sustained before deciding on a sweeping step like a curfew.
October 29, 2011
I find it harder to do the journal when I’m out at an event until
10pm, as was the case on Wednesday night for the year-out Obama rally
at Blair High School. 1,000 people I am told—awesome showing and due
to the superior organizing of Jason Waskey, Jon Randall, the Obama
fellows, MCDCC members and good Democrats all over the county.
I didn’t catch any of the speeches as I was talking to activist
residents in the back of the hall about issues such as the curfew,
school redistricting, and how to get involved in county affairs. I was
amazed to meet a Silver Spring resident named Robin who had worked as
the regional coordinator for Rock the Vote in 1992!
Today was frenetic with all of the balls that are in the air with the
close out of the year and the legislative term. The proposed CBA
(community benefits agreement) bill is the subject of much discussion.
We are also preparing for a town hall in December and scoping out our
game plan for the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade. Hope to see you
Monday is going to be a big day with not only an update from the
Transit Task Force but also the work session on Open Government issues
that I have designed. I’m looking forward to it.
October 13, 2011
Tonight’s youth town hall was a huge success. Yes it was contentious
but it was very healthy. Naturally the young people there raised many
objections and criticisms about the proposed curfew. For my own part I
tried not so much to convince everyone of my views so much as to
explain how I look at this issue and what I want to accomplish.
Alan Xie, the student member of the board of education, asked
questions about education funding that were sufficiently detailed to
provoke some guffaws from the council. I hope he didn’t take that the
wrong way. Everyone is just tense over the budget because we have no
money and next year isn’t looking very good either.
You can catch the town hall on county cable and on demand at our website.
I also continued my work today on the Fenton Street Market. You may
have seen the market announced that it plans to close rather than
compete for the RFP for veterans plaza. I reviewed the RFP and I can
imagine a document like that does not look friendly (you can see a
copy at the market’s website).
If you care about this issue please tell Hannah and the County
Executive and the Council that the community wants this market to
continue! I believe we can find a solution. One day Hannah is going
to have her markets all over Montgomery County.
October 7, 2011
I started off today meeting with Ana Lopez van Balen, the new mid
county services director, to learn more about her work and see some of
the social services that are provided out of the county building in
Wheaton. Then I stopped in to chat with Mr. Leo, my good friend who
runs Marchones Deli right there in Wheaton. We talked about the coming
redevelopment and how it may affect local small businesses.
Then into a great meeting with advocates from the senior community.
Patrick Lacefield in the county executive’s office is working with me
and a team from Senior Leadership Montgomery as well as nonprofit
service groups to help identify how we can more effectively inform
seniors about transportation options available through 311. We are
making great progress.
Then I met with community leaders from the Lyttonsville area,
including Ms. Charlotte Coffield. They have a challenge with how the
Purple Line will impact their community and I am glad to be able to
help them out. Coincidentally I heard from my dear friend Barbara
Sanders that the Purple Line received a new approval from the US DOT,
which will mean continued progress in design and construction.
Finally, a helpful presentation from Federal Realty about upcoming
development in White Flint.
The council was briefed today on results from the beefed up police
patrols in Silver Spring and Burtonsville. The additional enforcement
has cut crime significantly, which is great news.
Swirling in the background: my impact tax bill, the peace resolution,
the curfew, the fire commission, a big box community benefits
agreement bill with UFCW, politics with MCGEO, and a whole lotta