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Spending for County Executive race climbs

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MoCo LogoFor months a new face has appeared on television airwaves, on banner ads for websites, at Metro stops, and commercials on YouTube.

While admittedly an unknown six months ago when he entered the race for Montgomery County Executive, businessman David Blair has used his own money to fund an advertisement blitz six weeks away from June 26 Democratic Primary.

Blair, who served as chair of Accountable Health Solutions before he decided to run for County Executive, has used online and traditional marketing to help bring his name recognition to voters in the County, including a commercial of him standing outside the White House saying while he is a rich businessman with no experience in elected office, he is the “opposite of the Donald Trump.”

“Montgomery County is still an amazing place to live, but we’re slipping in certain areas,” Blair said.

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Leggett proposes modest spending increase

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County Executive Ike Leggett.  FILE PHOTOCounty Executive Ike Leggett.      FILE PHOTO  Calling it a prudent attempt to guide Montgomery County through fiscal uncertainty, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) released the final budget proposal of his last term as county executive Thursday, putting forward a $5.56 billion operating budget – increasing spending by 2 percent – for Fiscal Year 2019, with most of the increase directed to Montgomery County Public Schools.

“This budget continues my commitment to prudent fiscal policies critical to sound fiscal management,” Leggett said. “I have increased our reserve levels to cushion the taxpayers against any future unanticipated economic setbacks and included the required level of funding for retiree health benefits."

Leggett had stressed caution in the weeks leading up to the budget announcement, promising that it would not include a property tax increase, with the caveat that it was unlikely that he would propose drastic spending increases in most areas thanks to the current budget’s $120 million shortfall.

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County files suit against opioid manufacturers

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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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Local politicians turn deaf ears to bipartisan pleas from Trump

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In Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address President Donald J. Trump called for my bipartisanship in hopes to unify the County – a message that local leaders did not receive.

“The first year of the Trump administration has been one of most significant tests of our democracy in our lifetime,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) about Trump’s State of the Union speech. “In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Trump was eager to take credit for things he had nothing to do with and ignore the harm he has imposed on the country over the last year.”

The State of the Union, an annual speech that most modern presidents have given to a joint session of Congress, has become a platform for presidents to speak to the nation directly and talk about their policy achievements and goals. During his speech, Trump highlighted a tax cut he signed in December, decreasing unemployment and increasing economic growth as his main accomplishment. In response Democrats have criticized the Trump’s touted accomplishments saying the majority of the new growth has gone to the nation’s wealthiest citizens.

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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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Discovery discovers NYC

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County to lose more than 1300 jobs in media relocation

Discovery Communications BuildingDiscovery Communications, a longtime Montgomery County-based corporation which currently employs 1,300 workers, announced Tuesday it will move its corporate headquarters from Silver Spring to New York after months of negotiations with County officials failed.

Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav announced Tuesday the company will likely move from its headquarters located in downtown Silver Spring to New York sometime in the second half of 2019.

“The media industry is rapidly evolving, increasingly global, more consumer focused and more multi-platform and Discovery must evolve with it,” Zaslav said in a statement. “The decision to move our global headquarters from its founding home is one we do not make lightly. We remain unwavering in our support of the Maryland and Greater Washington, DC area and we thank the leadership of the State of Maryland, Montgomery County and, most importantly, our employees for their cooperation and understanding as we make this important next step for the long-term success of Discovery.”

County Executive Isaiah “Ike” Leggett said Discovery’s departure will be a big blow to the County, with 1,300 jobs now being moved to New York.

“When you lose that number of jobs and that number of employees and the salaries, that is not easily replaceable,” Leggett told the Sentinel.

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Leggett plans budget cuts

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MoCo LogoMontgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett released his plan for $60 million in proposed cuts last week, after news the County is way short of its proposed revenues for the current year.

Leggett’s proposed cuts, most notably target schools – the largest part of the County’s budget – include a proposed $25 million cut to Montgomery County Public Schools and a $5.2 million cut to Montgomery College.

“There are very few options that are there, you don't go there unless you absolutely have to,” said Leggett of his proposed $30.2 million cut to schools.

In addition, Leggett also proposed a $3.8 million cut to police, a $2.6 million cut to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a $2.6 million cut to fire and rescue services and a $4.4 million cut to the Department of Health and Human Services to make up for the revenue shortfall.

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County prepares opioid suit

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MoCo LogoROCKVILLE – Montgomery County has taken a significant step towards filing a lawsuit against manufacturers of prescription opioid painkillers by hiring the San Francisco-based law firm of Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd LLP as outside legal counsel to conduct the suit, County Executive Ike Leggett announced last Wednesday.

“Every day brings fresh evidence of the very real damage that the Opioid crisis in wreaking on individuals and communities throughout our great nation,” Leggett said in prepared remarks. “I wish I could stand here and tell you that Montgomery County is immune to this epidemic. Unfortunately I cannot do that.”

The announcement is the latest step Leggett has taken towards filing the civil action against prescription opioid manufacturers, which Leggett accused of violating marketing laws by downplaying the addictive nature of their products.

Not only will Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd help represent the County in its forthcoming action – which Robbins Geller attorney Aelish Baig said the County will file in early January -- but it will also help the County wrap up its own investigation into prescription opioid manufactures.

“Just what the lawsuit will look like is currently unfolding, but we will take the action, if necessary, to ensure we stop this very addictive process,” Leggett said.

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Berliner says “NO” to cuts in education while Leggett mulls options

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MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — No program is safe from cuts as the County seeks to mitigate the effects of a projected budget shortfall next fiscal year, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said.

Last week Leggett announced that the County officials were anticipating a large unexpected budget shortfall, and asked that each County agency consider cutting two percent of their budget.

The sudden shortfall caught County finance analysts and council members by surprise as they based their $5.4 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018 off of much greater revenue projections.

"For me, everything is on the table, and you try to work through the particular details," Leggett said of the coming budget cuts.

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In The Hole

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County scrambles to find a solution to unforeseen budget shortfall

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett directed County departments to make two percent cuts after the discovery of a $120 million budget shortfall.

The cuts are meant to make up for $95 million in projected income tax receipts that won’t be collected for the current fiscal year, combined with last year’s budget shortfall of $20 million, the total comes to roughly $120 million missing from the County’s budget, which Leggett noted is an unusual occurrence considering that the decrease in tax revenue comes as Montgomery County’s unemployment rate has simultaneously decreased.

“The traditional wisdom is when you have higher employment and a larger tax base you don’t normally see those kinds of shifts,” Leggett said. “What we’re doing is analyzing why you have a shortfall in the income tax.”

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