County Executive candidates debate issues in Sentinel forum

County Exec Candidate DebateFrom left to right: Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Executive Editor Brian Karem, George Levanthal and Bill Frick joined the Sentinel-hosted candidate forum to debate issues this week.     PHOTO BY MARK POETKERROCKVILLE — The four Democratic candidates running for Montgomery County Executive squared off in a debate Monday night to make their cases to County residents.

The debate, hosted by the Sentinel Newspapers, was an opportunity for the four men vying for the Democratic nomination for County Executive – Council members Marc Elrich (D-at large), George Leventhal (D-large), Roger Berliner (D-1) and Del. Bill Frick (D-16) – to separate themselves from one another.

New in this year’s election, is a campaign finance system. For those participating in it, the program limits donations to county executive candidates to $150 and matches a portion of donations with public money.

Debate moderator and Sentinel Newspapers Executive Editor Brian Karem asked the candidates if they took campaign contributions from developers.


Rockville lights the night in its fight against cancer

Light The Night 2Attendees hold up lanterns during Rockville's Light The Night fundraising walk to support those suffering from blood cancer.  PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  More than 2,000 people who have been touched by blood cancer walked through downtown Rockville Saturday night, holding lanterns high in which the glowing colors symbolized whether they were survivors, current patients, lost loved ones to the disease or helping those currently struggling with leukemia or lymphoma.

Light The Night, a fundraising walk currently in its 20th year in Montgomery County, raised about $600,000. When combined with similar walks held in Reston, Va. and Washington, D.C. during October, the National Capital Chapter will have raised about $3.5 million, said Ria Freydberg, senior director at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Jake Waxman, an eight-year-old from Bethesda, addressed the crowd about his struggle with the disease. “It has been really hard for me,” said the second grader from the Lab School of Washington.

Leukemia is “not fun,” he said, but told those battling the blood cancer to “just remember you always have someone.”


Two arrested in possible gang-related murder

Jesus Ponce Flores Arrest Photo 300x280

Jesus Ponce Flores, 18, COURTESY PHOTO 

Montgomery County police said they arrested and charged two local males Tuesday regarding the murder of a 20-year-old man, whose body was found in a creek in Silver Spring Sept. 6.

The man, 20-year-old Cristopher Alfredo Funes Guerra, was reported missing Sept. 3.

The Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide by multiple stab wounds, according to an Oct. 18 Montgomery County Police press release.


UPDATE: President Defends Conversation: Gold-Star Mom says "I would've hung up!" on the President


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  UPDATED 12:25 p.m. with additional comments and corrections:

WASHINGTON D.C. - President Donald Trump fired back at those who say he spoke rudely to the widow of a serviceman on Tuesday.

"I didn't say what that congresswoman said; didn't say it all.  She knows it.  And she now is not saying it.  I did not say what she said, and I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said.  I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who was - sounded like a lovely woman.  Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that," Trump said in a pool spray following a Senate Finance meeting today.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla) said in an interview that Trump told the widow of a serviceman killed in Niger that "he knew what he signed up for."

The mother of the serviceman also said the president disrespected the dead soldier."President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Cawanda Jones-Johnson told The Washington Post

 According to a source close to the president, President Donald Trump was "misunderstood" in his comments to an army widow, and only meant to console her - though an early morning tweet issued by the president bypassed his condolences to tear into Congresswoman Wilson.

"This president cares deeply. Maybe he said something that was misunderstood, but he certainly cares about fallen servicemen and women," the source said speaking on background.

It is the first indication from anyone in the administration the president misspoke when speaking with U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Tuesday.
President Donald Trump tweeted “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!
Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson’s, who is pregnant and mother to his surviving two-year-old son and six-year-old daughter came at 4:45 p.m. before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial flight.
The President’s actions came after reporters in the White House press corps pressed the president Monday on why he had yet to reach out to the family of soldiers recently killed in Niger.
Saying former President Obama failed to call the family of killed servicemen, Trump walked that remark back after NBC reporter Peter Alexander pressed him on the issue.
"I will, at some point, during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that, traditionally," Trump said during a joint news conference with Senator Mitch McConnell Monday on the back steps of the Oval Office outside of the Rose Garden.

"I probably would have hung up on him," Christina Ayube said bluntly.
Ayube, a Gold-Star mother from Salem, Mass. lost her son, Army Sgt. James Ayube December 8, 2010.
Sgt. Ayube, an army medic was on patrol when an elderly man approached him and another soldier and detonated a suicide bomb that also killed the two soldiers.


Residents celebrate Aspen Hill Library’s 50th birthday

aspenhill290Aspen Hill Library celebrates its 50th anniversary on Oct. 7. COURTESY PHOTOASPEN HILL – Area residents, elected officials and past and present library staff met Saturday, Oct. 7 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Aspen Hill Library’s opening, while some of the branch’s advocates said they’re concerned about problems with building.

Elliot Chabot, chairperson of the Aspen Hill Library Advisory Committee, welcomed guests to the celebration at Aspen Hill Library and recalled working there as a teenager; he served as a page shelving books from 1971 to 1973.

Betty Bell, who first moved to Aspen Hill in 1965, has been a patron of the library throughout its existence.

“In those days, I am sure, there were more cows than people between here and Olney,” Bell said. “Two years later we had our library and it has been a great resource for all these 50 years. The library has met our needs from when we taught our kids to use the card catalog to now when our adult kids and the library staff are trying to teach me to use the electronic things that now fill our world. Aspen Hill Library has ceased to be a building filled with books and media and has become a place where we can work alongside and get to know the members of our very diverse community.”


Manna comes from Heaven and “Manny” from a mobile

Manny with LogosManna Food Center staff proudly show off their converted school bus dubbed "Manny." COURTESY PHOTO  A white, aging school bus covered in drawings of fruits and vegetables is coming to schools, community and senior centers, subsidized housing complexes, and fairs near you.

Inside the bus, named “Manny,” is a mobile kitchen and pop-up pantry that will be used to teach people of all ages how to eat and cook healthy foods on a budget. It is operated by Manna, a non-profit organization that strives to end food insecurity and hunger in Montgomery County.

The converted school bus will mainly be stopping at targeted areas, where food insecurity is the highest, she said.

Manna’s 20 priority areas include neighborhoods in Germantown, East County and Long Branch.

DeCarlo said the skills taught inside Manny are important, because 70 percent of County adults do not eat the recommended number of daily vegetable servings.


Takoma Park mulls allowing alcohol sales on sidewalks

TAKOMA PARK – The Takoma Park City Council debated Wednesday to allow dining retailers to serve and sell alcohol outdoors on sidewalks belonging to the city.

“There’s an interest in restaurants being able to have sidewalk cafés to be able to serve alcoholic beverages,” said Takoma Park City Manager Suzanne Ludlow. “A sidewalk café would be, by definition, in the public right of way which means it’s in the city’s control.”

Currently, no city laws specifically regulate outdoor alcohol sales and the application process to allow such sales is handled by the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control.


Takoma Park considers pesticide ban expansion

TAKOMA PARK – The Takoma Park City Council discussed amending its pesticide ban Wednesday evening.

The discussion revolved around chemicals containing neonicotinoids, a component of many pesticides that research shows are harmful beyond target and can damage surrounding plants.

The proposed amendment would add neonicotinoids to the City’s current list of banned pesticides. The ban, which is known as the Safe Grow Ordinance, came into effect banning the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides in the city.


Board of Education discuss implementation of national education law

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed its role in implementing federal education legislation.

Members of the board discussed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a law passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2015 as a successor to the previous No Child Left Behind Act.

ESSA requires that states implement a recording and accountability system to assess the academic performance of counties and schools. Maryland and Montgomery County are currently in the process of deciding how to implement the law.


CASA sues Trump administration over DACA repeal

The immigrant advocacy organization CASA de Maryland along with eight other groups and more than a dozen individuals announced on the afternoon of Oct. 5 they are suing the federal government over the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has given work status to undocumented immigrants who came to the Unitized States as minors, known as "dreamers."

Named in the lawsuit are President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and four government agencies — U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — and their department heads.

A legal team that includes Arnold & Porter LLP, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and the Civil Rights Clinic of the Howard University School of Law is joining them in the legal action.