Category Archives: Uncategorized

Follow the Money: Election Campaigns in Rockville

Rockville-Election-UpdateOctober 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 →

Stanford Grill Opens Tomorrow in Rockville

Stanford Grill RestaurantThe 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.

Meet the Candidates at a Community Forum near You

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.

Rockville View Launches Community Water Cooler

RKView-logoCindy 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.

Local Gazette Newspaper Publishes Final Edition

Gazette newspaper closes.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 PostRockville 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.

Cartoon Plagiarism by Sentinel

Rockville Solar Co-Op Closing Soon

Maryland SunThe 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 or contact

Pedestrians and Cyclists will be Safer in MoCo, how about Rockville?

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.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Rockville’s Last Farmers’ Market today


It’s a frosty morning but the farmers’ market in downtown Rockville is busy.  Available are apples, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, kales, radishes, apple cider, peppers, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes (yup!), broccoli, fennel, leeks, cauliflower, dill, escarole, turnips, and onions.  Breads and pastries, cheese, sausages, chicken, beef as well and a long line at Otterbein Acres. 

What’s In a Name? A Lot for Rockville’s Lutheran Church

Today Rockville’s first Lutheran congregation will officially unveil to the community its new name— “Living Faith Lutheran Church” during a Renaming Celebration. The event will also mark the retirement with dignity of “Crusader Lutheran Church,” the congregation’s name since its foundation in 1952. The celebration begins with a 10:30 a.m. worship service, followed by a noon luncheon reception.

In addition to church members, dozens of guests are expected to join in this joyous event, including representatives of Community Ministries of Rockville; members of the Rockville City Council; and other public officials, faith-community representatives & ministry partners.

The Rev. Philip C. Hirsch will preach a special sermon placing this milestone in both a scriptural and historical context, with an emphasis on the road ahead for Living Faith. Pastor Hirsch serves as Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission for the Washington, D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

“We are looking forward to this joyous opportunity to celebrate our new name, honor our 59 years of history as Crusader Lutheran and humbly dedicate ourselves to the mission God has in store for us as Living Faith Lutheran,” said the Rev. Sandra Cox Shaw, the church‟s pastor since 2005.

“We believe “Living Faith” better captures who we are today — a congregation committed to putting our faith into action by serving our community, our nation and our world,” Pastor Shaw added. “And we believe that this is the name God has guided us to choose, through a process of prayer, discernment and faithful deliberation.”

Immediately after worship on June 26, Pastors Hirsch and Shaw will Continue reading →


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