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Berliner supports local Muslim communities

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SILVER SPRING – Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) came to the Muslim Community Center as part of MCC’s Community Education Series to address members’ concerns regarding hate crimes in the area after the MCC received a threatening letter in late February.           

“This is a time and a conversation that I never thought I’d have in my lifetime,” Berliner said.  “For those of us who believe in government and the goodness of our people, this has been a particularly challenging time … if you don’t feel welcome in Montgomery County, then we’ve failed you.”

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Two more residents file to run as they seek county office

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Two more people filed to run for County office last week after the filing period begun Feb. 28.

North Potomac consultant and former teacher Ed Amatetti filed last week, and is running as a Republican for the County Council District 2 seat, while Rockville accountant Richard Gottfried filed for one of the open County Council at-large seats and is running as a Democrat.

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County hears more on fatal fire

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Silver Spring fire 8-11-16An internal audit was held on the County's response to the Flower Branch Apartments fire that killed seven and displaced over 100 people last August. FILE PHOTO  

During their internal audit about the County’s response to the fire at Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring that killed seven and displaced more than 100 people last August, County officials did not interview victims from the fire.

At last week’s council meeting, officials from several County agencies briefed the Council on an internal audit of the County’s response in providing services in the immediate aftermath of the fire. The audit listed several recommendations for the County, including a need for better communication between County staff.

Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) said the audit was disappointing and criticized County officials for not interviewing the victims of the fire who received the County’s services.

“It seems strange to me, as an approach, that you would just talk to County agencies and the non-profits we fund, but not the actual victims,” Hucker said.

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Former MoCo Council President Tom Perez elected DNC Chair

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Tom PerezNew DNC Chairman Tom Perez. COURTESY PHOTO

Former Secretary of Labor and one-time member of the County Council Tom Perez was elected as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in a party vote on Saturday.

Perez, originally from Buffalo, New York, and a resident of Takoma Park, said he credits his grassroots organizing as one of the reasons for his election.

"My roots are in grassroots organizing and in local government, and that is where they'll stay,” Perez said in a statement to the Sentinel. “But since my time on the Montgomery County Council, I've had the privilege of carrying out the mission of expanding opportunity for Marylanders and all Americans by working for the likes of Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.”

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Remembering a bridge to the past

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Talbot Avenue BridgeThe Talbot Avenue bridge has a history - and despite its condition some want it saved. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  

A one-lane bridge in the western part of Silver Spring that enables Talbot Avenue to cross over CSX Railroad tracks hardly seems worth saving, according to some. The rickety structure has deteriorated and is scheduled to be demolished when the Purple Line is built.

But while the neglected bridge has yet to make it onto the National Register of Historic Places, its historic significance in Montgomery County is enough for the County Council to try to save it.

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General Assembly draws County ire over minimum wage

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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

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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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Council mulls real reaction to an “Existential threat” to the county

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Calling climate change an “existential threat,” a joint County committee discussed Roger Berliner’s (D-1) bill to divest County pensions from fossil fuels.

At last week’s joint Government Operation and Transportation Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee meeting, the committee discussed the merits of bill 44-16, which would divest County pensions from fossil fuel companies.

“I felt that we could both be true to our values and what many of us believe to be an existential threat to our planet and be true to our retirees,” Berliner said. “This was not an either-or situation. This was a design from day one to be able to advance both.”

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“Wait and See”

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County leaders confused and angry over sanctuary executive order

 

ANNAPOLIS – Local officials say it is unclear whether President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on sanctuary cities will cost the county federal funding over its immigration enforcement policies.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order saying localities that fail to comply with federal immigration law will not receive public funds, sparking outrage among immigration advocates and confusion among public officials.

The executive order specifically mentions “sanctuary jurisdiction,” a vague but widely used term that generally refers to localities that do not assist in enforcing federal immigration law. State and local officials said it is unclear if the executive order would apply to Montgomery County or to the State of Maryland.

“Look, no one has been able to figure out from what he’s (Trump) issued so far and how exactly it plays out,” said County Council member Marc Elrich (D-at large). “We don’t know whether we are inside the rules or outside the rules.”

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County approves Dorfman as liquor chief

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Robert Dorfman believes liquor distribution is best when controlled by the County.

On Tuesday, the County Council approved Dorfman to head the Department of Liquor Control after County Executive Ike Leggett appointed him last month.

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