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Green Party candidate enters State Senate race

  • Published in Local

David JeangDavid Jeang Photo by George SmithDistrict 19 voters will have the opportunity to vote for a member of the Green Party to be their next state senator now that David Jeang of Rockville has thrown his hat into the ring.

“I feel the need to build other representation in Montgomery County would be healthy to bring out voters who don’t feel the alignment with the current Democratic County and in turn bring out more voters in the whole of Maryland,” he said in a phone interview. 

Jeang, 29, will face off against three-term Del. Ben Kramer (D) for the privilege of representing Rockville, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Olney in the Maryland Senate. He explained his choice to run as a third party candidate is meant to ensure that the prospective Democratic nominee will have some opposition in the general slection and will allow him to raise issues that otherwise might be ignored.

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Maryland considers dedicated Metro funding

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Maryland Flag Metro LogoANNAPOLIS — A delegation for business people and elected officials made their way to the state capital Tuesday to make their case that Metro, the region’s struggling mass transit system, needs a reliable supply of state dollars.

On Tuesday, the Maryland House of Delegates Appropriations Committee held a public hearing for a bill that would give the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority $125 million in dedicated funding. WMATA has requested this type of funding for some time from the three jurisdictions of D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as it is one of the few mass transit systems in America without a source of dedicated funding or a consistent permanent supply of public money.

Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who served on the Council of Governments, a regional body of elected officials from D.C., Maryland and Virginia that work on regional issues, said no issue has united people more than the need for a dedicated funding source for Metro.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving on the board of the Council of Governments for many years and last year as chair,” Berliner said. “In all of those years, no issue has united our entire region, Republicans and Democrats, urban and suburban, more than the need to finally provide dedicated funding for Metro.”

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County reconsiders small cell antennas

  • Published in Local

celltowerFile photoThe Montgomery County Council is again considering another zoning text amendment that will make way for a series of telecommunication antennas that have been the subject of controversy around the County.

On Tuesday, Council President Hans Riemer (D-At-Large), introduced ZTA 18-02 on behalf of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D). If passed, it would amend county zoning laws to make it easier to erect small cell antennas in commercial zones. The bill’s introduction marks a change in policy for the Council after similar legislation that would have also facilitated the placement of hundreds of small cell antennas on both commercial and residential property was put on hold after meeting significant resistance from the public.

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Officials still struggling to see how federal tax cuts will affect Montgomery County

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ROCKVILLE — When County finance officials arrived Monday to a pre-scheduled briefing with the Montgomery County Council on the effects the recently-passed federal tax cuts will have on the County, the analysis they provided to the Council was sobering: they don’t know what the effects will be. 

Monday’s briefing, which brought together legislative staff, finance officials and economists to meet with the County Council, came on the heels of the release of a report by the state comptroller on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December. While the session was meant as a briefing to the Council on the potential impact of the tax cuts – which already have resulted in a $120 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year – after less than three months under the overhauled tax code, it is still too early to tell what the effect will be on the County and state.

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County to strengthen lobbyist bill

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countysealThe Montgomery County Council will consider a bill to implement recommendations by the Montgomery County Ethics Commission for strengthening the County’s laws on conflicts of interest, financial disclosure and lobbying by closing the so-called “revolving door” between the lobbying industry and the County government.

Introduced Tuesday by Council President Hans Riemer (D-At-Large), Bill 2-18 would subject anyone employed by the County Executive or the County Council to a one-year lobbying ban when they leave their public employment. The bill would also prohibit County employees who are former lobbyists from working in departments that overlapped with their lobbying activities.

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County files suit against opioid manufacturers

  • Published in Local

countysealROCKVILLE — Montgomery County is suing 14 manufactures and distributors of prescription opioids as part of the county’s efforts to combat the growing nationwide opioid addiction crisis, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) announced Wednesday. Attorneys filed the suit Wednesday in federal court because it is the most appropriate venue to address the devastating effect the opioid addiction crisis has had on the County.

“The opioid crisis is wreaking severe damage on individuals and communities throughout our great nation – and Montgomery County is not immune,” Leggett said. “Just ask the first responders in our Fire & Rescue Service and our Police. Ask our front-line personnel in Health & Human Services. We are talking about addiction, death, broken lives and broken families.”

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County budget process runs into new problems

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MoCo LogoGERMANTOWN — The budget process for County Executive Isiah Leggett’s last year in office takes place during a time of uncertainty.

Leggett has bragged to residents about the County’s low unemployment rate, its “triple A” bond rating and its growing reserves, as he has toured the County to talked to residents as part of his series of annual budget forums. Yet, as the term-limited Democrat prepares to submit his final budget to the County Council by March 4, the County that Leggett has served for many years is in the grips of an unexpected budget shortfall.

“My first objective is to try to do no harm,” Leggett said, “to provide the services and the programs for the things that we are already funding where it makes sense for us to continue that. Once we achieved that objective, then I would look to try to expand beyond that depending on the level of resources available.”

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Homeless disagree with County

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A homeless man sleeping on the pavement in Silver Spring in July of last year. FILE PHOTO A homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring in July of last year.      FILE PHOTO Despite optimistic talk of how more and more homeless people were moving into permanent housing, the tenor of Monday night’s community dialogue on homelessness changed when about 15 homeless people entered the meeting in the Silver Spring Civic Building and disputed how well the County is handling its homeless population.

“Morally it’s wrong to say you have compassion, and you don’t,” said Sharetha Wilson, who recently moved into her own place after four years living on the street.

“You say you have compassion, but you pass us on your way,” she told the packed meeting room. “If you see us on the streets, if you see us in church, why not say, ‘How can I help you?’” she asked. “You all snub your noses.”

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County to file suit against opioid manufacturers

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MoCo LogoMontgomery County plans to file a lawsuit against opioid manufactures and distributors as a way to take a stand against rising rates of opioid addiction, County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said Monday.

“I think next week, I’m announcing full steam ahead on a lawsuit against a number of manufacturers and distributors who have provided drugs not only in Montgomery County but throughout this nation, so I’m taking them to court,” Leggett said, while speaking at a budget forum in Germantown.

While almost all of Leggett’s time at the event was dedicated to talking about the budget, the County Executive announced the County’s forthcoming lawsuit in response to a question from a resident about the ongoing opioid epidemic.

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"A Good Deal"

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County and governor push to get Amazon headquarters in MoCo

Amazon.com logo1With an estimated 50,000 potential jobs hanging in the balance, Montgomery County is among the 20 communities vying to be the location of Amazon’s second headquarters, the company announced last week.

Local officials were pleased to see that the County made the cut in a competitive field composed mainly of major cities, each of which is bending over backwards to woo the retailer with a seemingly endless arsenal of tax subsidies and other incentives. 

“As the only county in the country on the short list, having the ability to move forward for further consideration is a real honor,” said County Executive Ike Leggett (D). “I believe our initial proposal made an extremely strong case for Montgomery County as a great place to do business, and I look forward to working with Amazon to bring jobs and investment to the County.”

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