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Hogan dedicates Intercounty Connector to Bob Ehrlich

  • Published in Local

Maryland Gov. Robert “Bob” Ehrlich met with then-President George W. Bush for lunch at Camp David in 2003, Bush asked Ehrlich a simple question.

“What can I do for you?” Ehrlich said Bush had asked him.

Ehrlich said governors usually have a short list of requests for the president, but at that meeting Ehrlich said only one thing came to mind – help in pushing the longplanned Intercounty Connector project along.

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Aspen Hill Library reopens to the public

  • Published in Local

ASPEN HILL — The Aspen Hill Library held its grand reopening on Saturday morning after being closed since November. Many Montgomery County residents and politicians were in attendance.

The size of the renovated library is 16,100 total feet square feet on two levels. The exterior of the building was painted, and the parking lot was reconstructed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Some of the design features are new information and checkout service desks, an enhanced children’s area, a teen space with seating and collection, collaboration spaces, an ADA upgrade of public restrooms on the lower level, and new furniture, including new tables in the children’s and adult areas.

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Race for county executive, county council touched by public financing law

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Robin Ficker remembers raising $200,000 for his unsuccessful 2014 run for State Senate.

Now, public contributions to his 2018 campaign for County Executive can be matched up to $750,000 by the County Public Financing Fund, a potential fundraising boon to his campaign. Even more importantly, his campaign could change the political landscape of Montgomery County. Public financing itself could create a more democratic election and encourage voter participation in 2018.

According to Ficker, a former member of the House of Delegates, the County Public Financing Fund “gets the big moneyed interests out of [the race] and gives power to the average person in Montgomery County.” Ficker notes that the fund’s ability to match citizens’ donations “gives the average person some clout” especially since the first $50 donation to a campaign is matched six-to-one and adds $300 to the campaign, something that Ficker considers unique, saying “There is no jurisdiction in the United States that has anything close to this.”

Although Ficker says he has never taken contributions from PACs, unions, or other groups, this law forbids participating candidates from taking such contributions, another attempt by the Montgomery County Council to expand the impact of private citizens and limit the influence of large organizations. Furthermore, officials say that the Public Campaign Financing law requires candidates to accept only donations from Montgomery County residents and only donations between $5 and $150.

However, there is some debate as to the effectiveness of the program’s limits on donations from large organizations. According to George Leventhal, the program is “an experiment in democracy which is intended to reduce the influence of big money in local politics.”

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Leggett brings in the county budget

  • Published in Local

Leggett 20091001 104316County Executive Ike Leggett

ROCKVILLE –, County Executive Ike Leggett met with the County Council to discuss his new proposed budget last week.

Unlike last year, this year Leggett does not propose any increase in property taxes above the charter limit in his $5.4 billion operating budget. Per usual, about half of the County’s proposed budget will go toward education with $2.5 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools and $309 million for Montgomery College.

Leggett’s proposed budget is a 2.7 percent increase from last year and does not dramatically increase funding for any County agency. In this year’s budget Leggett proposed a 2.3 percent increase to MCPS or $25 million additional to the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort.

“Given that, along with continued uncertainty about the economic recovery and State and federal actions, I am limiting any new programs or significant program expansions to those that clearly achieve our shared priorities and best serve County residents,” Leggett said.

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Immigration issue overshadows rape

  • Published in Local

Outrage and sadness erupted after a girl reported a rape in a Rockville High School bathroom on March 16.

But the unity of emotion following the rape of a 14-year-old student comes to a crashing halt when the topic of immigration surfaces.

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On The Road Again

  • Published in Local

Confederate statue will head north and join Jubal Early ferry in Dickerson

 Confederate statue 7-31-15

The last battle of the Civil War in the County is perhaps finally over.

After deciding to remove the Confederate soldier statue about a year ago, the County found a new home for it Tuesday, deciding to relocate the statue to White’s Ferry in Dickerson.

The statue, built in 1913 with donations from the Daughters of the Confederacy, was dedicated to County residents who fought for the South during the Civil War. The inscription on the statue reads, “To Our Heroes of Montgomery County Maryland: That We Through Life May Not Forget to Love the Thin Gray Line.”

Currently, the statue sits next to the Old Brick Courthouse in downtown Rockville, surrounded by a wooden box covering part of the statue to prevent graffiti.

“I fully understand that the statue reflects a piece of County history and that many County residents are proud of the sacrifices and bravery shown by their ancestors,” said County Executive Ike Leggett, who was in favor of moving the statue. “Nonetheless, as originally enacted, it was not and is not part of the heritage of all of our residents. When originally constructed and placed on County property, it failed to reflect both sides of this unfortunate struggle in our history.”

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General Assembly draws County ire over minimum wage

  • Published in Local

While the County Council is split on raising the minimum wage, it is unanimously opposed to a bill in the General Assembly that would prevent the County from raising the minimum wage.

House Bill 317 would prohibit local jurisdictions in Maryland from raising the minimum wage. While the council is split on raising the minimum wage in the County, it – along with the County Executive Ike Leggett – is opposed to the bill.

Berliner, who voted against the bill to raise the minimum wage in the County to $15 per hour, said he is against the state’s preempting the County.

“While we may differ internally as to the right path to 15 dollars an hour, we are unanimous in believing that it is our responsibility, not something the state should assume for itself,” said Council President Roger Berliner (D-1). “This state has great diversity, and our situation is not the same as Garrett County, our situation is not the same as St. Mary’s County, and we are in the best position to address the needs of our people.”

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Council moves forward with Leggett’s pick for DLC head

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – A month after County Executive Ike Leggett appointed Robert Dorfman as head of the County Department of Liquor Control, the County Council finally had their opportunity to interview him.

Dorfman, a former executive at hotel giant Marriott International, was selected to head the DLC in December because of his background in the private sector in hopes he could improve the department.

During the interview on Jan. 26 just before the council session, members of the council sat along a conference table, each offering their praise of Dorfman’s resume.

“I and my staff are so impressed with what you bring to this job,” said Council member George Leventhal (D-at large), citing Dorfman’s experience in the private sector.

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Thousands of county residents volunteer for MLK day of service

  • Published in Local

BETHESDA — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, thousands of people came out to do volunteer work at locations throughout Montgomery County. About 2,000 people attended the event at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel, where there were booths for various volunteer activities such as packaging food, crocheting blanket squares, and making bracelets.

Coordinated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. “day of service” has been conducted every year since the 1990s for people to volunteer in remembrance of Dr. King.

“It’s ingrained in the national culture that Martin Luther King Day is a day of service, so people are looking for ways they can help locally,” said Volunteer Center Director Molly Callaway.

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