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County refuses to release Amazon bid info

Amazon.com logo1When the New York Times received its public information act request on Montgomery County’s incentive offer to Amazon to locate its second headquarters here, the newspaper received 10 pages of material – with every word redacted.

But Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is making no apologies for the lack of transparency in the bid process, saying its secrecy is a prerequisite for attracting the tech-retail giant to the County.

“We're not going to discuss any of the details of our proposal at this point and time,” Leggett said. “Obviously, if we are moving forward, if Montgomery County is in the final running to get this, at that point of time, we will have everything open for people to have a discussion about.”

While other jurisdictions, including the State of Maryland, have publically released details of incentives they are offering to Amazon, Montgomery County is among many jurisdictions bidding to be the home of the retail giant that are refusing to release any details.

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Activists demand answers in cop shooting of Silver Spring man

YouTube screen capture of body-camera video released by Montgomery County Police of an officer providing backup to Officer Anand Badgujar during incident with Robert White. FILE PHOTOYouTube screen capture of body-camera video released by Montgomery County Police of an officer providing backup to Officer Anand Badgujar during incident with Robert White.          FILE PHOTO More than a week after police released the body-camera footage showing the June 11 police shooting of Robert White, activists have more questions about what happened.

While the State's Attorney for Howard County, who conducted the investigation of Montgomery County Police Officer Anand Badgujar, concluded that the shooting was “justified” and that he would not pursue criminal charges against the officer, activists are now questioning the events of June 11.

Laurel Hoa, an activist with Standing Up for Racial Justice, said the shooting could have been prevented if the officer had never approached White to begin with.

“I do not believe the shooting was justified; we do not believe Officer Badgujar should have approached Robert White in the first place,” Hoa said.

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Hogan makes his pitch to Montgomery County

BETHESDA — Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is not shy about his ambitions for 2018. 

He boasts about his high approval rating – 69 percent according to a Goucher Poll. He said he is confident that Amazon will place its new headquarters in the state, and he has declared he will do what no Republican gubernatorial candidate has done since 1990 – win Montgomery County.

“You know, a lot of people kind of laugh at that one, just liked they laugh at me saying I was going to be elected governor,” Hogan said about his declaration he will win Montgomery County in November’s election. “I think the people in Montgomery County – although I think it’s three to one, Democrat to Republican – I think they appreciate the job that we’ve done.”

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Germantown sinkhole finally repaired

Hurley Boulevard in Germantown will reopen this week for the first time since a pipe collapsed and formed a sinkhole on July 22, Montgomery County Department of Transportation chief engineer Bruce Johnston announced.

Johnston said Hurley Boulevard should open again on Friday after the old pipe that collapsed was pumped with flowable fill, which is a cement-like liquid used to cut off water from flowing into a pipe, which should prevent another problem.

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Developer buys Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring

Ellsworth Entrance 1Ellsworth Plaza has a new owner. COURTESY PHOTOA commercial development and investment company in Tennessee recently purchased Ellsworth Place in downtown Silver Spring for $92 million.

GBT Realty Corporation acquired the five-story mall, which is located at Fenton Street, Ellworth Drive and Colesville Road. Ellsworth Place is across from Regal Majestic Stadium movie theater and the Silver Spring Civic Center.

Besides the retail center, which features such stores at Burlington Coat Factory, Dave and Busters, Ross Dress for Less, Guitar Center, Michaels, Ben & Jerry’s and many low-end retailers, the sale also included air rights to potentially build 250,000 square feet of office space atop the stores.

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Elrich and Ficker begin fall campaign for County Exec

Elrich FickerMontgomery County executive candidates Marc Elrich (left) and Robin Ficker. FILE PHOTOSDemocratic and Republican nominees for Montgomery County Executive, as well as a potential independent candidate have begun campaigning for November’s General Election. 

Republican candidate Robin Ficker, an attorney and political activist from Boyds, has begun a social media push that takes aim at bringing awareness to something he calls the “Takoma Park Trapezoid.” 

Ficker, who was born in Takoma Park and grew up in Silver Spring, said that the southeastern portion of the County, which includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring has too much influence, citing that three of the four Democratic nominees for County Council atlarge are from either Takoma Park or Silver Spring. In addition, Ficker’s opponent for County Executive, Council member Marc Elrich (D-at large), lives in Takoma Park.

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Takoma Park cop injured in DC shooting

Takoma Park MD PoliceTakoma Park police Sgt. Charles Hoetzel is on administrative leave after being injured in a shootout that also left a suspect injured. 

The shooting occurred in Washington D.C. after Hoetzel began chasing 19-year-old Kenneth Carroll of Northeast D.C on July 25th around 7 p.m.

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Ashman backs a second term for Hogan

Jud AshmanGaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman. COURTESY PHOTOGAITHERSBURG — Mayor Jud Ashman has endorsed Governor Larry Hogan in his bid for reelection this fall.

While Gaithersburg, like many other Maryland municipalities, has nonpartisan elections, Ashman is a registered Democrat. 

Formerly a Republican, Ashman switched his party affiliation in the mid-2000s.

“I was disenchanted by the policies of the George W. Bush administration,” Ashman said. “I started voting Democratic, even before I changed my registration. I believe the last Republican I voted for was [former Representative] Connie Morella. Whether I’ve been registered as a Republican or a Democrat, I’ve always been a centrist.”

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Takoma Park approves junction plan

Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK — After nearly four years of debate, the Takoma Park City Council approved the Takoma Junction site plan in a 5-2 vote in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“The vote last Wednesday on the resolution allows the draft site to move forward to the county planning board as well as the [State Highway Administration] for review,” said Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart. “We're looking forward to working on this project and [with] residents across the city to ensure that this project is one that reflects Takoma Park.”

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Metro continues plan to subway car safety

metro logo

Metro’s chief safety officer reported to the Federal Transit Administration that the railcar barriers between the new 7000 series railcar will be installed on all 7000-series trains by May 2019.

In 2016, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority made its own determination on how to address the between-car-barrier safety issue. WMATA chose as its remedy to install on the 7000-series cars the chain-barrier system that it uses on its older railcars. Now FTA is requiring that WMATA follow through on its own plan and commitment to install the chain barriers.

In May this year, a woman with vision impairment used her cane to search for the doorway on a train that was a 7000 series, but mistook the space between the railcars for the doorway and fell onto the tracks.

Instead of chains between the railcars, which FTA and Metro call between-car barriers, the 7000 series railcars have rubber panels attached to the ends railcars alternating with the chains. Henrika Buchanan, FTA’s acting associate administrator for the Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, wrote in June the woman’s fall indicated the alternate between-car-barriers are unsafe for riders with vision impairments and ordered their replacement with the chain-like barriers.

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