A little Cornerstone of the holiday season

PencilPaperSo this Christmas season my wife and I found ourselves in possession of an extra Christmas tree and rather than put two up in the house – thereby giving our cats and dogs the ultimate solid and liquid waste depository – we decided to donate the tree to someone who didn’t have one.

I tried a variety of venues to give away the tree before running across Cornerstone Montgomery in Bethesda. Their mission statement: “Cornerstone Montgomery empowers people living with mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders to live, work, and integrate successfully within the community.”


Old data in the 2014 report

mccivicfedOn October 7 of this year, staff from the Planning Department's Transportation Division presented the 2014 Mobility Assessment Report to the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee of the County Council.  The problem with calling it the 2014 report is that it contained the same data on levels of traffic congestion at county intersections as that which appeared in the 2013 report released last year.


Increasing perceived value of agents

house real estateDid you know that Gallup ( conducts an annual poll of ethics and honesty of various professions?  Although the annual survey is not inclusive of all professions, many are covered in alternating years.  Results from the 2013 survey ranked the top five professions as (along with their corresponding “Very High/High” rating) nurses (82 percent), pharmacists (70 percent), grade school teachers (70 percent), medical doctors (69 percent), and military officers (69 percent). 


Don't Bogart that joint my friend

gavel2The effort in the District of Columbia to decriminalize marijuana has garnered much publicity and the attention of some members of Congress. Meanwhile, As of October 1 of this year, Maryland’s new law decriminalizing use or possession of marijuana went into effect which is likely not the end of efforts to change the Maryland law on cannabis use.


Little Jack Horner

mccivicfedThree events happened this week that are of note in the county, first, the council had a long session on Monday morning wrestling with the budget limitations for the upcoming fiscal year.  Money will be tight and tax revenues are dropping.

Second, the taxpaying public found out that they were generously providing a job for just-retired councilmember Phil Andrews (D-District 3), courtesy of the re-elected State’s Attorney, John McCarthy. 


Fear in home buying

house real estateHome buyers have been tagged as being too picky for not buying homes this year.  Surely home buyers have a right to be particular; after all, they’ll be spending a lot of time in the house – and spending a lot of money to get it too!  But, maybe there are other reasons that home buyers have become hesitant. 

Consider the uncertainty that immediately followed the Great Recession, when home sales volume dropped off. 


Beware of your property easements

gavel2As Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals said in its opinion last week in the case of  McClure v. Montgomery County Planning Board of MNCPCC, “few cases inflame such deep passions as a dispute involving individual property rights.”  This is particularly true when a person’s home is involved. This case illustrates the importance, when buying property, of the buyer making sure he is aware of any recorded rights someone else may have over the land.


Have yourself a merry little CIA Christmas!

ciaI think as Christmas and the season of giving is upon us it would behoove us to make the most of the recent revelations from a Senate investigative committee regarding the torturing of prisoners by the CIA.This handy little “How to Book” with an executive summary of some 500 pages should be a wakeup call for all of us as we embrace the season of peace and joy.
For as the Bible tells us: A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.


And now the real Thanksgiving

mccivicfedLast week most of us celebrated Thanksgiving.  Last month was also Native American Heritage Month, and as such it’s worth remembering that while the original Thanksgiving has been interpreted through the decades as a peaceful early encounter of two peoples, it is not necessarily a day of thanksgiving for everyone.  


Selling your home in the cold winter

house real estateSome might say that selling a home during the winter is advantageous because of limited seller competition.  Although it may be true that there is less competition, there is typically less home buyer traffic during winter months as well.  Additionally, many home buyers who look during the winter months expect home sellers to be more flexible about pricing, and may subsequently make a lowball offer.  However, if you’re planning a winter sale, preparation and marketing can increase your success.