The 2015 Rockville election will return Bridget Newton as Mayor and Beryl Feinberg, Julie Palakovich Carr, Mark Pierzchala, and Virginia Onley to Council for the next four years, beginning on November 16. Of the 40,749 registered voters in Rockville, there was a total of 6,343 ballots cast (15.57 percent) including votes cast on early voting days, same-day registration at City Hall on Election Day and by absentee. That’s slightly lower that 2013, which had a participation rate of nearly 17 percent.
Although the results are preliminary until certified, which is expected by November 10, and the final expenses of the campaigns aren’t reported until January 2016, there are some patterns we can already discern. In campaign tactics, Brigitta Mullican’s Continue reading →
Norman Braverman installed a solar array on his split-level house in Rockville last week, making him the first of fifty in Rockville’s Solar Cooperative. Looks great on his house! (doesn’t he look like a proud homeowner?). Before he’ll be able to collect solar energy, though, he’ll need to complete inspection by the County and permission to operate from Pepco. More than 200 people are part of the co-op with 171 members seriously considering a proposal–it’s a major shift in attitude about energy and sustainability in Rockville. Thanks again to the Rockville’s Environment Commission for making this happen! (disclosure: we’re going solar, too!).
Comus Market in northern Montgomery County, about a 20-30 minute drive north of Rockville. At the corner of Old Hundred Road (109) and Comus Road across from the Comus Inn is a small shed surrounded by tables and bins filled all sorts of strange and wonderful pumpkins and winter squashes, like Blue Hubbard, Sweet Dumpling, or Long Island Cheese. Although these unusual varieties are now appearing in grocery stores like Trader Joes, what you don’t experience is the drive out in the country and a chance to meet David Heisler, the farmer that grows them. A bit further up Comus Road is Sugarloaf Mountain (a short hike for a family) and Sugarloaf Winery (bring a picnic).
Lake Bernard Frank on Avery Road on the east side of Rockville. It’s actually a water reservoir that feeds into Rock Creek but it’s also a park for walkers and hikers. One side of the lake is a paved trail and on the other an unpaved one. Even on Sunday afternoons it’s so quiet that you might only encounter a dozen people. No playgrounds, playing fields, boating, or restrooms but there are picnic tables near the parking lot.
Many of my friends love visiting Butler’s Orchard in Germantown because they have children who like the pick-you-own experience. Apples, tomatoes, raspberries, cherries, peas, potatoes, and flowers have passed but you can still pick you own pumpkins and enjoy a dozen different pies from their bakery (including such unusual flavors as apple caramel walnut, blueberry lemon bucket, and strawberry mango). Weekends gets far too busy for me but your kids will love it.
If you have a favorite place where you enjoy fall in or around Rockville, please share it in the comments below.
October 1 was the deadline for the first financial reports in this campaign season with the second one due October 26, just a few days before the November 3 election. Financial reports are a result of unfair election tactics and political corruption, and indeed, while most voters feel that money has a bad influence on politics, fundraising is a crucial aspect of campaigning, even here in our hometown of Rockville. As I mentioned in a previous post, the cost of a campaign is high, especially in mayoral races.
Rockville’s election code has a lengthy section on campaign financing that outlines the requirements for a treasurer and record-keeping; acceptable expenses, contributions, and loans; and restrictions on campaigning by people who are not candidates. At times, these requirements and limitations seem onerous or archaic, such as prohibiting “payment for walk-around services.” Aren’t the days when thugs were paid to hustle people at the polls to gain a vote or to intimidate opponents long gone? Yet in 2003, the Maryland Court of Appeals reviewed a case that accused the Ehrlich/Steele gubernatorial campaign of hiring high school and college students along with 200 residents of a homeless shelter to “accost voters” outside the polls and urge a “voting preference.” The 2013 election campaign in Rockville involved several questionable tactics and since then the Board of Supervisors of Elections has clarified the Election Code to close some of these loop holes (e.g., no statements and materials may be distributed anonymously, even by individuals).
Campaign financial reports also reveal the name, address, and amount contributed to every candidate, which can suggest the shape and nature of a campaign (and the city). For example, an analysis of the contributors Continue reading →
The Stanford Grill restaurant opens Monday, September 28 at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard (south of Wooton Parkway near I-270 in one of DC’s “healthiest buildings“) in Rockville. This will be the second Stanford Grill for the Blue Ridge Restaurant Group, which also has four Copper Canyon Grill restaurants. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday through Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm with Sunday brunch served from 10 am to 2 pm and dinner until 10 pm. For more information or for reservations, call 240-582-1000.
The concept is “upscale casual” with a menu that emphasizes familiar comfort dishes including New York strip steak, pork chops, crabcakes, salmon, and chicken pot pie, along with a variety of sandwiches (burger, French dip, sauteed chicken) and salads (club, chicken, tuna, and steak). It looks like they have a full bar but the wine list needs a rethinking. “Other interesting whites” includes Berginer’s white zinfandel and Dom Perignon is listed among the champagnes. White zinfandel is not an interesting white and Dom Perignon is now such a cliche that it suggests they really didn’t think about their wine selections. Looks like this restaurant might satisfy the executives whose offices line the 270 corridor but it won’t appeal to foodies.
In preparation for Election Day on November 3, the candidates for Rockville Mayor and Council will be participating in the following community forums (aka debates):
Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00 pm
Thomas Farm Community Center, 700 Fallsgrove Drive
Hosted by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce (they typically focus on business issues)
(Will air live on Channel 11)
Wednesday, October 14 at 1:00 pm
Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive (Woodley Gardens neighborhood)
Hosted by the Rockville Senior Commission (they typically focus on senior issues)
Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 pm
Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive
Hosted by the Woodley Gardens and College Gardens Civic Associations (they typically tackle a wide range of issues)
Thursday, October 22 at 7:00 pm
F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, Rockville Civic Center, 603 Edmonston Drive (Burgundy/Silver Rock/Twinbrook neighborhoods)
Hosted by the League of Women Voters (they typically tackle a wide range of issues)
(Will air live on Channel 11)
Tuesday, October 27 at 7:00 pm
King Farm Community Center, 300 Saddle Ridge Circle
Hosted by the King Farm Citizens’ Assembly (they typically focus on King Farm issues)
(Will air on Channel 11 on October 29)
The forums are free and open to the public; anyone is welcome to attend any or all of the forums. You not only can hear candidates discuss various issues but also talk with them before and after to learn more. If you support one of the candidates, they often have campaign literature or yard signs that you can take home or share with friends and neighbors.
Cindy Cotte Griffiths, local resident and co-owner of the much-beloved (but long-gone) Rockville Central, has launched a new blog to cover local news called “Rockville View.””When The Gazette closed up shop, we lost balanced and professional coverage of our news and elected officials in Montgomery County,” says Cindy. “Without a local paper, we need watchdogs in our community who can bring issues to light. I’m hoping members of the community will join me to provide this coverage and keep us all informed of the facts. Think about it as sharing around the Rockville ‘water cooler’.” Some of you may know her from her years of service on the city’s Traffic and Transportation Commission and Human Service Advisory Commission or the PTSA at Richard Montgomery High School. You can visit Rockville View to keep up on the news but you can also follow @Rockville on Twitter or subscribe to the Weekly View newsletter delivered to your inbox on Friday afternoons ($2/month, $10/six months, $20/year). Subscribers can also submit events to the calendar.
I’m delighted to have her join me again on the Internet Super Highway and expect her coding and writing skills will leave me in the dust.
The Montgomery County Gazette newspaper will close and the final edition has been published. Post Community Media, the parent company of the Gazette, cited declining advertising revenue and inability to find a buyer to purchase the Prince George’s and Montgomery County editions. Earle Hightower established The Gazette in 1959 in the basement of his Rockville home, making it truly a hometown newspaper. Ironically, the newspaper folded the same week as Hightower, 92, passed away at his home in North Carolina.
In a letter to readers, the editor reflected on the past 56 years: “As journalists, it has been our duty, indeed our imperative, to expose both the good works and the machinations of government and industry, and to encourage debate as to which was which. As a community newspaper, it has also been our mission, indeed our passion, to expose the ordinary as extraordinary — a fundraiser for an ill child, a centenarian’s surprise birthday party.”
The newspaper business has increasingly become financially unsustainable, both in terms of attracting advertising dollars (which has moved from print to other media) and in gaining a foothold on the Internet. There was hope that local newspapers would be able to weather the storm because they offered something that others media could not: local content to local residents. Now the Gazette joins Patch and Rockville Central, leaving local coverage to the Washington Post, Rockville Living and the Sentinel. The Sentinel is already struggling to capture an audience and is now facing additional problems of its own making. Turns out that it published a series of cartoons over the years that that were lifted from newspapers across the country, including the Palm Beach Daily, Columbia Daily Tribune, New Yorker, and the Guardian, without attribution or payment. Now facing accusations of plagiarism and copyright violation from dozens of artists and newspapers, it’s pulled those cartoons from its website but could also be subject to lawsuits and payments that could jeopardize its future and its credibility.
The Rockville solar energy cooperative is growing, sufficiently to the point that it looks like it’ll be able to solicit bids from installers in June. Maryland Solar United Neighborhoods (Maryland SUN), a nonprofit organization, is working with the Environment Commission of the City of Rockville to make solar energy more affordable and accessible. By using the collective buying power of a group of Rockville residents, we’ll save on the cost of installation (yup, my family has joined). If you’re interested in going solar but not sure where to start, this co-op is a great place to learn. At this point, there’s no obligation to purchase a system or have it installed, they’re just collecting names of homeowners who are interested so that we can obtain the best bids possible. Based on the same principle as buying in bulk, the group will go through the process of going solar together by working with a Maryland SUN to select a single installer. Each participant signs an individual contract with the chosen installer, but all participants get the group discount. After the installer has been chosen in August, it may not be possible to participate in this round.
They’ve held two info sessions so far and the last is coming up on Tuesday, June 9 at 7 pm at Glenview Mansion. For more information and to sign up, visit MDSun.org or contact email@example.com.
The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed an ordinance that amends the county’s urban road code to make sure new or reconstructed streets in urban areas are safe and attractive for all users. Co-sponsored by Councilmembers Riemer and Berliner, it requires:
- Narrower lane widths of 10’ to slow traffic and reduce accidents (it may sound contradictory, but wider lanes for cars result in more frequent and more serious collisions with pedestrians and cyclists–it’s all about the speed of a 2,000 pound car).
- A 25 mph maximum speed for urban areas
- Pedestrian bumpouts and smaller intersections, which will mean safer turns by drivers and a shorter distance for walkers to cross.
- Stronger requirements to build sidewalks during road construction.
Perhaps something like this needs to be adopted in Rockville. We often promote cycling and walking, and yet overlook the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in the strangest ways. For example, at the Twinbrook Recreation Center, it was years before a sidewalk was laid for pedestrians connecting it to the street. During construction around Twinbook Metro, sidewalks are often blocked and people have to walk in the street.
Want to learn more about what makes safe, complete urban streets? Check out this great infographic from our friends at the Active Transportation Alliance.