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Budget shortfall could hit County gang prevention

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE — Montgomery County Council Members are concerned that the County’s new effort to pour money into preventing the growth of gang activity could be a casualty of the forthcoming budget cuts intended to mitigate a budget shortfall.

“Here’s my concern so, alright, we are going to engage very actively in January to address the savings plan,” said Council member Nancy Navarro (D-4) during a joint meeting of the Council’s Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees. “At the same time that we also heard there were programs that we have funded previously that have not actually been implemented.”

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Aspen Hill residents celebrate library’s 50th amid continued concerns

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ASPEN HILL – Area residents, elected officials and past and present library staff met Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Aspen Hill Library’s opening, while some of the branch’s advocates said they’re concerned about problems with building.

Elliot Chabot, chairperson of the Aspen Hill Library Advisory Committee, welcomed guests to the celebration at Aspen Hill Library and recalled working there as a teenager; he served as a page shelving books from 1971 to 1973.

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Candidates test new campaign finance system

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MoCo LogoMore than a year from the 2018 primary election, candidates for County offices are heading in to a new territory of publicly-financed campaigns,

In 2014, the County Council passed a law to publicly finance County elections in hopes to counter the impact of campaign donations from large businesses and political action committees.

Montgomery County is the first county in the state to have publicly-financed elections, meaning the new funding system for candidates is untested.

“It leads some people running for office to look more to grassroots and small donations,” said Ed Amatetti, a Republican candidate for County Council District-2 on the new campaign finance system.

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County Raises Minimum Wage

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Council passes minimum wage raise, now awaits Leggett's signature

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ROCKVILLE – After many debates, protests and public hearings, the County Council voted Tuesday to increase the County’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

Now Bill 12-16 awaits County Executive Ike Leggett’s signature before it can become law. Patrick Lacefield, a spokesperson for the County, said Leggett has not decided whether he plans to sign the minimum wage increase in to law.

“We're still reviewing it; we haven't made a decision,” Lacefield said.

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Council at odds with Executive Ike Leggett over Hispanic Gala

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Members of a County Council joint committee accused county departments of misusing public funds during a meeting last week.

In aggregate, four County departments donated the maximum amount of money allotted to sponsor events by the County Council – $9,999 – to the County Executive’s Hispanic Gala, which raises money for scholarships for Hispanic students.

Under a new County law, County departments must spend under $10,000 on sponsorships for nonprofit events. If a County department spends $ 10,000 or more, it has to be approved by the Council.

“I’m amazed, really just flabbergasted that we ended up with expenditures of $9, 999,” County Council member George Leventhal (D at-large) said. “I mean that is laughable …that was so clearly an end-run around the council’s intent that it creates friction and tension between the two branches of government that should not exist.”

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Council considers divesting fossil fuel money

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ROCKVILLE – Environmental activists pushed the County Council Tuesday to pass a bill to divest the County’s pension fund from fossil fuel companies while union representatives and others opposed it.

Proponents of the bill said the County’s investment in fossil fuel companies as part of its workers’ pensions is immoral because of the threat of man-made climate change.

“Imagine telling your kids one day, we really wanted to stave off climate calamity, but the routine transaction fees of selling and reinvesting in greener companies were too much to bare, so we just kept on investing in climate calamity,” said Mike Tidwell, from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who testified in favor of the bill.

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HHS committee split on minimum wage bill

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ROCKVILLE – The County Council continued their debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour during a Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee meeting Wednesday.

The committee discussed Bill 12-16, which would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

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County will ignore the Fed

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ROCKVILLE – Joining cities such as Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said Montgomery County will not participate in enforcing immigration laws even if it means losing funding from the federal government.

Leggett spoke at a press conference at the County Council Building Tuesday where he and all nine members of the council condemned recent acts of vandalism including “TRUMP NATION, WHITES ONLY,” being written on the side of the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Silver Spring.

About a week after the election of Donald Trump, there has been debate about what Trump will do about illegal immigration and undocumented workers in the country.

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Term limits adopted in Montgomery County

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Term limits sign 11-8-16PHOTO BY DANICA ROEM 

Montgomery County voters approved term limits for the County Council and County Executive by a two-to-one margin Tuesday, meaning there will be at least four open seats on the nine-member council in 2018 and an open race for County Executive.

Question B passed by a 68.9 percent to 31.1 percent margin, limiting County Council members and the County Executive to serving three consecutive terms in one office before sitting out for one term in order to run again for the same office.

"Well, this is really what I love about America, where you can bring about peaceful change through the legal and electoral process," said former state Del. Robin Ficker (R), who led the collection for ballot signatures to put the question to referendum. "And this is an example for that."

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