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Top MoCo stories of 2013

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Published on: Tuesday, December 31, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

This week the Montgomery County Sentinel outlined its top stories of 2013.

These stories dominated our headlines or had the greatest affect on readers during the last calendar year.

Heather Mizuer’s proposal to legalize marijuana in the state came in as our fifth most important story of the year.

The proposal is being sold a revenue enhancement device for the state – and potentially could bring millions into the state coffers.

There are many arguments to be made for and against legalizing marijuana, but the one fact I’ve always seen that speaks to the issue is how legalizing the drug would remove from the realm of gang bangers and organized criminals, therefore potentially reducing some violent crime – or at least the potential of it, and allowing the state to tax another vice – like alcohol and gambling in order to pay for necessary state services.

Meanwhile the ICC also made news as it was disclosed that more than $5 million in tolls remained uncollected.

Not only is the road under used and the projections continue to be adjusted in order for those who designed and sold us this road can continue to justify the massive expensive, but not we have to deal with the small pittance the state has charged against the overwhelming costs have not been recovered.

Of particular concern this year in the news were a few high-profile cases of teachers or former teachers sexually abusing students or former students. Social network outlets in the county have been abuzz with idle gossip and consternation regarding this issue and there have been several snide comments made.

Social networks should never take the place of real introspection – after all several students in the county decided to deride the school superintendent for no reason at all over the issue of snow days.

The real issue to be debated has to do with trust and teachers, and it is important to note there exists not one group of people on the planet who can guarantee 100 percent of the time those who teach or interact with children will act in a child’s best interest. In that regard the school system deserves our support while the issue itself deserves continued scrutiny in ways to best insure we minimize and do as much as we can to eliminate this particularly horrifying crime.

The Silver Spring Transit Center also drew a lot of attention this year. Exposed rebar and the inability to meet construction deadlines does not bode well for something even members of the County Council call a “behemoth”.

This issue will continue to haunt the county and could become a large-scale debacle for some of our local politicians currently seeking re-election.

The twisted tale of this mess continues to beg for more coverage and will deservedly get it.

Finally, the city of Rockville dominated our coverage this year – and in particular the continuing saga of some of the city’s employees who believe they must seek retribution through the means of the judicial system.

They city paid nearly $200,000 for a report that it has buried.

We have gone over the reasons why we believe this report, or at least portions of it, should be made public.

The city, even when confronted by a local judge who also believes the same thing, continues to fight the release of the report.

The saddest part of this is the city’s defense of a report which is at least tangentially related to claims of abuse and racial discrimination.

The city continues to do nothing to relieve fears from its employees, its residents or anyone else interested in the issue.

The city of Rockville is a great place to live, work and play but the city fathers here are so convoluted in their thinking they are complicit in painting a picture that shows otherwise.

The city is suffering. The people are suffering and the story seems to have no end in sight.

Sad that it is, it will probably get worse before it gets better.

Those are our top stories of the year. They impacted life in Montgomery County in a variety of ways, but shows once again there are few dull moments on the backs step suburban  landscape of the Nation’s Capital.

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