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Trump cites MoCo criminal cases as proof that MS-13 gang are “animals”

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White House LogoDays after President Trump used the word “animals” to describe people “coming into the country” in response to a question about gangs, he has refused to apologize and has cited cases in Montgomery County as evidence that some gang members are “animals.”

On Monday, the White House Press Secretary’s Office released a statement detailing violent attacks by members of the international gang Mara Salvatrucha-13, more commonly known as MS-13.

The statement specifically mentioned two cases involving alleged members of MS-13 in Montgomery County, doubling down on the “animal” comment the president made which drew widespread criticism as many people interpreted the comment as an attack against all undocumented immigrants, not only members of MS-13.

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“Encouraging”

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Survey shows homeless population in Montgomery County continues to fall

A homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring in July 2017. FILE PHOTOA homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring in July 2017. FILE PHOTOThe number of homeless people in the County decreased by 6 percent, according to a survey from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. There were 54 fewer people experiencing homelessness in 2018 than in 2017.

The number of homeless people counted on Jan. 24 decreased from 894 in 2017 to 840 for this year.

“I think we are getting down to the most vulnerable. These are the hardest to house,” said Christine Hong, director of homeless services at Interfaith Works.

Volunteers throughout the Washington, D.C., area walked the streets to count the number of people experiencing homelessness. That night, they found 7,473 homeless people in the District, which is eight percent fewer than in the previous year. In Prince George’s County, the number of homeless people dropped by 10 percent.

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Council pushes to make County wine capital

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Bottle of wine poured into glassROCKVILLE — A proposed County Council zoning change could make it easier for Montgomery County to become the winery capital of the East Coast – at least that what some council members hope.

On Tuesday farmers and small grape growers spoke in support of Zoning Text Amendment 18-03, which would loosen regulations in the County’s agricultural reserve in hopes to facilitate the expansion of wineries, breweries and distilleries.

ZTA 18-03, which Council members Hans Riemer (D-at large) and Craig Rice (D-3) are lead co-sponsors on, would amend the County’s current zoning regulations to allow for distilleries, breweries and cideries. While wineries are currently allowed under current County zoning laws in the agricultural reserve, other alcohol production facilities are not.

“The proposed ZTA is important to our success because it brings clarity to what is currently a confusing and burdening zoning code,” said Poolesville farmer Robert Butz.

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MoCo teens share magic of robotics competition

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Wizards.exe team members Rohan Dewan, Ishaan Oberoi, Devasena Sitaram, and Arjun Oberoi show their winning robot and the trophies they earned in recent international competition. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKWizards.exe team members Rohan Dewan, Ishaan Oberoi, Devasena Sitaram, and Arjun Oberoi show their winning robot and the trophies they earned in recent international competition. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  There was no magic involved when the Wizards.exe came home from Detroit with the First Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award in hand, along with their robot, which took 10th out of 6,000 teams from around the globe.

Eleven Montgomery County teenagers have been working diligently since the start of the school year to build a robot that could differentiate colors, sense distances, and pick up cardboard blocks and then assemble them into a pattern – all within two-and-a-half minutes.

Ishaan Oberoi, a 10th-grader at Richard Montgomery High School, and his younger brother, Arjun Oberoi, an eighth-grader at Takoma Park Middle School, were in the car several years ago when they spotted a billboard for a robotics competition.

It sounded interesting, and “there was nothing much like this in school,” so the boys joined, said Ishaan. Their father, Pankaj Oberoi, agreed to be their coach, and they have been going strong ever since.

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County Council holds public hearing on small cell tower expansion

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MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — Tuesday night’s public hearing on another bill to facilitate the expansion of small cell antennas was the second go-around and a familiar story for all those involved.

In March, Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large), at the request of County Executive Ike Leggett, introduced a new bill, Zoning Text Amendment 18-02 that would make it easier to place small cell antennas in urban areas. Unlike the previous bill, which the Council did not vote on after public protest, ZTA18-02 only facilities the expansion of small cell antennas in urban areas, meaning the current zoning regulations requiring individual public hearings for placing poles that carry the antennas the same.

Edward Donohue, a representative from T-Mobile who testified at the County Council Tuesday night said the data demands for the first quarter of 2018 have exceeded all the combined data demands from 2012 to 2014.

“There’s an ever-increasing demand on infrastructure in the County,” Donohue said. “And additional sites are really needed in order to address the capacity and coverage issues.”

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Great Mills students speak to County audience

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SILVER SPRING — Students from Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, where a student fatally wounded a classmate with a gun before taking his own life, addressed County residents and public officials at a school safety meeting at the People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring Wednesday night.

The event was sponsored by the Pray at the Pump Movement, a faith-based activist group founded by Rocky Twyman, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement.

Great Mills student LeAire Livingston described her harrowing encounter with the gunman, Austin Rollins, shortly after he shot 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, with whom he had previously been in a relationship. Another student, Desmond Barnes, was shot in the leg, but survived.

“Coming around the corner, I bumped into Austin and I was about to apologize when I looked up and saw that he had a gun to his head,” Livingston said. “We hadn’t had a drill or anything, so I didn’t know what to do and I just stood there in place for a moment. When I realized this was actually happening, I turned around and ran into a classroom.”

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MoCo gets good health news

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Tcountysealhe County’s first health status report shows that while the area fares better than the rest of Maryland along most dimensions, work is needed to decrease the incidence of tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases.

The newly-released “Health in Montgomery Report,” which covers the years 2008 to 2016, “really is a comprehensive look at the health statues of our community” and a way to track “trends over time,” explained Mary Anderson, a County public information officer.

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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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Sentinel Sponsors Candidate Debate

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the sentinel newspapers logoDemocratic candidates running for governor will have a chance to make their case to County voters on May 21, less than a month away from the primary, during a Sentinel hosted debate.

The Sentinel will host a Democratic gubernatorial candidate forum May 21 moderated by Sentinel Newspapers Executive Editor Brian J. Karem, at 7 p.m., at the Executive Office Building Auditorium at 101 Monroe Street in Rockville.

State Senator Richard Madaleno, former Senior Adviser at the State Department Alec Ross, activist and former aide to Michelle Obama; Krishanti Vignarajah, and Elizabeth Embry, former Baltimore mayoral candidate and running mate of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, and James Jones are all confirmed to attend.

Former President and CEO of the NAACP Ben Jealous, and civic leader and businessman Jim Shea have been invited, but have yet to confirm they will participate. Candidate Ralph Jaffe, declined an invention citing a schedule conflict with a religious observance.

The event is open to the public and is free. Space will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Any questions can be sent ahead of time to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling the Montgomery County Sentinel at (301) 838-0788.

@neal_earley

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“Right Thing To Do”

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County moves to fund attorneys for immigrants in Montgomery 

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — One could have mistaken Tuesday night’s County Council public hearing as a national debate about the United States’ immigration policy – not a special appropriation to the budget.

While budget add-ons are common for the Council, the recently proposed $373,957 in funding for legal counsel for immigrants facing deportation has become a contentious issue among residents as they debate the necessity of the funding and America’s immigration policy during Tuesday night’s public hearing on the proposed special appropriation.

The special budget appropriation was introduced two weeks prior with full support from the Council with the intention of helping residents who do not have documentation, from being deported. If passed, the $373,957 would go to the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, which represents people in immigration court cases pro-bono.

“This is the right thing to do, it is consistent with the core values of our County and our country,” said Laura Munez Lopez, an undocumented immigrant that came to the U.S. as a minor. “It is consistent with the values that drew my parents to seek a better life here in the first place.”

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