Hometown Holidays on Memorial Day Weekend Features 30 groups across 6 Blocks

More than 30 groups will take to four stages across six city blocks in Rockville Town Center for the city’s Hometown Holidays Music Fest on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, 2016. The weekend will once again feature favorite food from local restaurants at the Taste of Rockville, kids amusements and the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade on Monday, May 30.

Two hometown area bands will headline the 28th annual festival on Sunday. Baltimore’s Kelly Bell Band will play at 6:30 p.m. and then join the original “Bad Boys of Bethesda,” The Nighthawks, at 8:30 p.m. in the headlining slot on the Bud Light Stage. Other artists on the Bud Light Stage include:

  • Alternative band Knox Hamilton at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Soul/rock band Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Flow Tribe, playing funk, rock and psychedelic at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
  • “BluesAmericanaRock” artist Ted Garber at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Additional acts include rock band Radio Birds, reggae favorite Jah Works, the roots rock of The Alternate Routes, and the U.S. Navy Band Country Current, playing country and bluegrass. Find a full schedule of performances at www.rockvillemd.gov/hometownholidays.

The festival is just a five-minute walk from the Rockville Metro station. Festival-goers who drive or bike will find parking in the City Hall lots, Montgomery County Council office building garage on Fleet Street and the Metro station lots.

Learn more at http://www.rockvillemd.gov/hometownholidays or at “City of Rockville Hometown Holidays” on Facebook.

State Compliance Board Investigating City Meeting Records

Highlighted in red are meetings of the Board of Supervisors of Elections for 2015 that are missing minutes.

Highlighted in red are meetings of the Board of Supervisors of Elections for 2015 that are missing minutes.

The Open Meetings Compliance Board of the State of Maryland is investigating Rockville’s Board of Supervisors of Elections (BOSE) for failing to maintain its meeting records in accordance with state law.  BOSE is a five-member body appointed by the mayor with the approval of the council and charged with the conduct of all City elections, the registration of voters and the keeping of records in connection with these functions. The state’s Open Meetings Act requires that all city boards and commissions provide either written minutes or a video recording of their meetings so that the public is aware of their actions and decisions.

Other city boards and commissions have had a spotty record over the past few years, but BOSE is exceptional. BOSE did not maintain records for nearly half of its meetings last year, with missing minutes stretching back to March 12, 2015 and no minutes available after October 21, which was the most intense and competitive period of the last Mayor and Council election.

BOSE has until mid-March to provide a written response to the Compliance Board, at which point they will render an opinion.  I’m not sure how BOSE will be able to review and approve so many minutes by the deadline, but even if they do, it suggests that the Supervisors of Elections need supervision as well. If you’re concerned, please let the Mayor and Council know at mayorcouncil@rockvillemd.gov.

What is Senator Kagan Doing in Annapolis?

Cheryl KaganThe Maryland General Assembly is about halfway through its 90-day annual grind through more than 2,500 pieces of legislation along with the State’s budgets.  State Senator Cheryl Kagan provides a regular email that lists her current activities, but it’s incomplete because so much is happening.  To see the entire picture, you have to visit the General Assembly website to discover that she’s shepherding 78 bills, 10 of which she is sponsoring and 67 she is co-sponsoring.  As a sponsor of a bill, she’s the one who introduced the legislation.  Sen. Kagan is the primary sponsor of the following bills but note that they are subject to numerous revisions in the legislative process (so what you read here may change):

SB0001: Health Insurance – In Vitro Fertilization – Use of Spouse’s Sperm – Exception. This bill alters the required conditions for health insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by creating an exception to the required use of the spouse’s sperm. For a patient whose spouse is of the opposite sex, the patient’s eggs must be fertilized with the spouse’s sperm, unless (1) the spouse is unable to produce and deliver sperm and (2) the inability does not
result from a vasectomy or other method of voluntary sterilization. According to the Department of Budget and Management, State plan expenditures increase by an estimated $216,310 in fiscal 2017, or approximately 0.025% of annual State plan spending. The State plan currently covers IVF. Expenditures reflect increased utilization of IVF and medical claims associated with the resulting pregnancies.

SB0028: State Government – Web Sites – Language Access. This bill requires specified State departments, agencies, and programs to take reasonable steps, beginning October 1, 2016, to operate and maintain, for Continue reading →

Impromptu Mini Farmers Market on Feb. 20

Apples and pears at the impromptu farmers market in Rockville in January.

Apples and pears at the impromptu farmers market in Rockville in January.

Winter is rarely a time for a farmers market but a couple of farms have returned to the corner of Jefferson and Monroe in downtown Rockville on Saturday morning to share the produce they have available, such as apples and squash held over from fall or young root crops, such as beets or carrots, that are growing in greenhouses.  On January 9, a couple farmers arrived with little notice and yet most of their produce was gone by noon.  This Saturday, February 13 was planned for another informal market but I was just notified it will be postponed to next Saturday, February 20 due to the cold weather.  I’ll post an update if there’s a change in plans. If you’re looking for a larger winter market, visit the Olney Farmers and Artists Market on Sunday mornings.

Best Restaurants in Rockville 2016

 

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Peter Chang Restaurant in Rockville, one of the 100 Very Best Restaurants of 2016.

The February 2016 issue of Washingtonian magazine features their ever-popular list of the 100 very best restaurants in the region, which is led by Fiola Mare, Komi, and Little Serow. The full list—which is ranked from 1 to 100 and includes reviews, favorite dishes of the year, and more—is on newsstands now. It also includes several restaurants in or near Rockville, all moderately priced:

 

#97. Black Market Bistro, 4600 Waverly Avenue in Garrett Park. American. “Jeff and Barbara Black’s bistro isn’t far from Bethesda, but it has an out-in-the-country vibe. And though it’s a neighborhood gathering spot, it’s also a destination for those seeking a tete-a-tete rather than a scene, along with easy-to-like food. Crackly-crust pizzas (the mushroom-pecorino  is terrific) share space with Modern American plates such as a chew-in-a-good-way hanger steak with chimichurri. Cake lovers will find their happy place—especially if the blackout cake is on the menu. Even though it’s mated with Chantilly cream and chocolate sauce, we amp it up with ice cream.” If you miss Addie’s, here’s the next closest restaurant owned by the same family.

#44. Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, 12207 Darnestown Road in Gaithersburg. Italian. “What’s a three-star chef doing running a pizza joint in a Gaithersburg shopping plaza? Having a blast. Tony Conte may have abandoned Continue reading →

2015 Campaign Finance Reports Shows Plenty of Holes in the System

Rockville-Election-UpdateJanuary 15, 2016 was the deadline for the latest financial reports for the 2015 campaign for Mayor and Council in Rockville, which covers the week before the November 3 election through the end of the year. Although this includes the hottest period of the campaign, it’s also assumed to be the quietest financially because most contributions and expenses have already been made. For the 2015 campaign, however, that short period represented 19 percent of the revenues and 38 percent of the expenditures so it wasn’t a fallow period.

More than $17,000 in contributions arrived in candidates’ bank accounts after October 26, including last-minute donations between candidates and from planning commissioners, creating a few more connections that weren’t apparent earlier. Expenses exceeded $60,000, most of it concentrated in the mayoral race between Bridget Newton and Sima Osdoby and the council campaign of Richard Gottfried.  Gottfried spent an additional $9,715 for a campaign total of nearly $50,000—by comparison, the other Council candidates spent an average of $6,812 and mayoral candidates averaged $25,416.

2015 Rockville Campaign Expenses for the period ending December 31, 2015.

2015 Rockville Campaign Expenses for the period ending December 31, 2015. Patrick Schoof’s data is incomplete.

For the 2015 Mayor and Council race, the eleven candidates raised $88,615 and spent $161,550 in total.  The averages in this election are thrown off by Gottfried’s extraordinary campaign, so if we exclude him and the mayoral race (which is always much higher), the average amount raised by Council candidates was Continue reading →

Blizzard 2016 Report from Twinbrook

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The Blizzard of 2016 has left the Mid-Atlantic and for the next few days we’ll be digging ourselves out of nearly two feet of snow (although with the winds, there are drifts that are much higher).  The Twinbrook neighborhood has crews of shovelers and blowers working to clear homes and cars and City of Rockville crews are plowing streets.  The major streets in Twinbrook, such as Twinbrook Parkway and Viers Mill Road, are open to one or two lanes but they’re not back to normal and I wouldn’t venture outfor another day unless it’s an emergency.  Minor streets vary significantly–some have a passable lane, others were plowed yesterday and now have a layer of snow. But even if you could get out, there isn’t any place to go.  Most stores and restaurants remain closed because their parking lots need to be cleared and they’ll soon be faced with the problem of figuring out where to put all that snow. After 2010’s blizzard, I remember a mountain of snow at Trader Joes that didn’t disappear until late March–becoming ever dirtier over time that by the end, it looked like coal.

It’s difficult to get local information and the best source I’ve found is Twitter.  To see what’s happening, use hashtags #blizzard2016, #Rockville, or #RKV or follow @Rockville411, @MontgomeryCoMD, @MDSHA, @WMATA, or @DrGridlock.

If you want to take your kids sledding, you’ll probably want to walk to your nearest park if it has a hill (Rockville Central produced a Google Map with suggestions ages ago).  The best one is at the Rockville Civic Center, which has a famous sledding hill near Glenview Mansion.  Montgomery County Parks has a list of approved sledding sites in their parks.

A couple reminders from the City of Rockville: Continue reading →

Snowstorm News from Twinbrook

About 17 inches of snow has fallen so far in the Twinbrook neighborhood of Rockville. During a break from the winds, I carved out a path to Twinbrook Parkway and shot this short video from Meadow Hall Road.  City crews have maintained a one-lane road on Twinbrook Parkway, enough for emergency vehicles but not for anyone else.  Side roads are unplowed.  I’d plan on staying inside for another day.

Report from Maryland Legislature

Cheryl KaganState Senator Cheryl Kagan just provided her report about what’s happening in Annapolis just as the 2016 legislative session started (the Maryland Senate and Assembly meet nearly non-stop for a couple months in winter, then recover the rest of the year).  Here’s an excerpt from her report:

The First Bills of the Session
Because I wrote and submitted two of my bills so far in advance, they are already starting their way through the legislative process.
Closing a Loophole for Married Couples
The first bill to be heard is appropriately numbered SB 1.  It will be  in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, January 20th at 1:00pm.  SB 1 would  fix a loophole in current law by guaranteeing that heterosexual married couples with both an infertile husband and wife will receive insurance coverage for In Vitro Fertilization treatments.  This gap was created after enactment of  my “Fertility Parity” bill for married lesbian couples last year.
Providing Language Access to State Government
The following day, Thursday, January 21st, my second bill will have its hearing in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.  SB 28 insures that Maryland State agency websites offer translation options for languages that are spoken by at least 3 percent of the State’s population.  Providing translation options can now be done at little to no cost given the accuracy and efficiency of online translators.  Material on state websites is so often critically important.  Those who do not speak or read English as a first language, if at all, deserve access to these sites too. As you may recall, this bill easily passed the Senate (39-8) and got held up in the House.  By starting earlier and working with various agencies and departments, we hope to finish the job this session!

Continue reading →

Sandy Spring Museum to host Cokie Roberts

Roberts Capital DamesThe Sandy Spring Museum will host Cokie Roberts, nationally recognized political commentator and prolific author, on Tuesday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m.  Roberts will be discussing her recently published book, Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868, and will be available to sign copies.  In this engrossing and informative companion to her New York Times bestsellers Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty, Cokie Roberts marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by offering a riveting look at Washington, D.C. and the experiences, influence, and contributions of its women during this momentous period of American history.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the small, social Southern town of Washington, D.C. found itself caught between warring sides in a four-year battle that would determine the future of the United States. After the declaration of secession, many fascinating Southern women left the city, leaving their friends—such as Adele Cutts Douglas and Elizabeth Blair Lee—to grapple with questions of safety and sanitation as the capital was transformed into an immense Union army camp and later a hospital. With their husbands, brothers, and fathers marching off to war, either on the battlefield or in the halls of Congress, the women of Washington joined the cause as well. And more women went to the Capital City to enlist as nurses, supply organizers, relief workers, and journalists. Many risked their lives making munitions in a highly flammable arsenal, toiled at the Treasury Department printing greenbacks to finance the war, and plied their needlework skills at The Navy Yard—once the sole province of men—to sew canvas gunpowder bags for the troops.

Cokie Roberts chronicles these women’s increasing Continue reading →