Choice Hotels International, Inc., headquartered in Rockville, celebrated the grand opening of its new Cambria Hotel & Suites on Monday night in downtown Rockville. Choice Hotels is one of the world’s largest lodging companies, with more than 6,300 hotels franchised in more than 35 countries and territories and 613 hotels in development, including Ascend Hotel, Comfort Inn, Clarion, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn. The celebration included speeches by City of Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton; Steve Joyce, President and CEO of Choice Hotels; Michael Murphy, Senior Vice President of Upscale Brands at Choice Hotels; and Marc Dubick, President of Duball, LLC, as well as entertainment featuring clowns, jugglers, and an aerialist.
Built by Duball, LLC with institutional capital partner CIM Group, and operated by Crescent Hotels & Resorts, Cambria Hotel & Suites stands at 1 Helen Heneghan Way (recently named for a former beloved City Clerk) between the Regal Theater and the headquarters of Choice Hotels International. The 140-room hotel spans eight floors of the 15-story west tower, the first of two towers in the mixed-use high-rise complex. A parking garage is built into the building’s structure, giving guests a convenient place for parking and allowing all rooms to enjoy an exterior view. In addition to the Cambria Hotel, the complex will also be Continue reading →
Last night the Rockville Sister City Corporation held a wine-tasting at Glenview Mansion as a fundraiser for the longstanding non-profit organization. Nearly fifty people attended, which was twice the expectations, delighting president Brigitta Mullican. Among the attendees were Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, and two Council candidates: Beryl Feinberg and Julie Palakovich Carr.
The paneled dining room of Glenview made for an ideal setting for socializing with a nice glass of wine while supporting a local non-profit organization. The wine tasting was focused on white wines, with five selections from Germany, Spain, and the United States. A blind tasting of a range from chablis to riesling to sauvignon blanc challenged people to use their senses to identify the wine. Thankfully, it was limited to five distinct wines and an identification list was provided so I had a fighting chance to get one right.
Fundraisers like this are becoming increasingly difficult for non-profits in Maryland. Costs and regulations continue to increase, which is either eliminating these traditional community events or significantly reducing the income. For example, health codes that affect restaurants are also applied to these one-time small fundraising events as well, so the traditional bake sale featuring homemade goods is nearly impossible and serving meals requires a commercial kitchen with three sinks (yes, three). If this continues, I’m guessing that lemonade stands and pancake breakfasts will soon require health permits and liability insurance. Let’s hope our elected officials in Annapolis and City Hall are watching this trend as much as they are watching casinos and traffic cams.
A tense discussion late in the evening of the February 25, 2013 meeting of the Rockville Mayor and Council suggests that there are serious problems in the appointment process to boards and commissions, as well as in our elected officials. It was probably missed by most citizens because the chambers were nearly empty at 10:00 pm.
A sense of the troubles began hours earlier, when Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio nominated two residents to the Board of Supervisors of Elections, a city committee that recently lost three of its five members due to resignations. David Berthiaume’s nomination was approved with one councilmember abstaining and Andrew Powell’s nomination failed due to a lack of a second. With one of her nominations rebuffed, Mayor Marcuccio noted that, “I would like to point out that we are in need of a quorum for the Board of Supervisors of Elections and by appointing Mr. Berthiaume I think we have achieved that. But I am quite shocked that our Council does not choose to appoint my other suggestion.”
The issue was forgotten until Old/New Business, when it was raised again by Councilmember Newton (at 3:30 of the February 25, 2013 meeting):
Councilmember Newton: I was disappointed in the decision this evening on Mr. Powell and I would like to encourage this body to think long and hard about Continue reading →
Today’s Peerless Rockville Brunch at Glenview Mansion was packed with lots of members, friends, residents, and community leaders. Mayor Marcuccio was joined by Rockville City Councilmembers Bridget Newton, Mark Pierzchala, and Tom Moore; Montgomery County Council by Phil Andrews and Hans Riemer; Maryland State Delegate Kumar Barve and Luis Simmons; and Maryland State Senator Jennie Forehand. Everyone was generous with their potluck dish and I regretfully made it to the dessert table long after Brigitta Mullican’s famous Christmas cookies had been devoured. During the presentation, Peerless Rockville noted the important achievement of this last year was the designation of Glenview as an city landmark and that this year they’ll be focusing on simplifying the historic designation process in the city.
The Rockville City Council elections are over and while the results aren’t official until certified, congratulations to Phyllis Marcuccio who will continue as Mayor, Bridget Newton and Mark Pierzchala who will continue on Council, Tom Moore who will be new on Council, and John Hall who will return to Council after a brief hiatus (and thanks to John Britton and Piotr Gajewski for their recent service on Council). No doubt everyone has already seen the election returns and noted that the Mayor’s race was not only heated but close–they were separated by 415 votes out of a total of 6113 votes. If 209 people (that’s 3 percent of those voting for Mayor) had voted differently, we’d have someone else as Mayor. It’s even closer in the Council race–Moore made it onto Council by just 51 votes. So if anyone thinks their vote doesn’t count, think again if you’re living in Rockville.
Although we know the election results for the entire city, Roald Schrack has broken it down by precinct which provides a clearer picture of what happened–and what it might mean for the governance of the city during the next two years:
- Voting followed two different clusters of candidates: Hall-Gottfried-Newton-Trahan vs Moore-Onley-Pierzchala. That suggests that the community has formed two different visions for its governance, and since the election resulted in an even split among these two “slates” on Council, we might have Continue reading →
I’ve read the literature, participated in two debates, visited the websites, listened to neighborhood discussions, and talked to some of the candidates and am now ready to announce my endorsements for City Council:
- Tom Moore: I met Tom during the last election and even though I was among his opponents, he was incredibly fair, thoughtful, considerate, and funny. I liked him so much that I passed out his literature as well as mine on election day. Although he wasn’t elected to Council in 2009, he’s continued to stay involved in the community and shows that he analyzes issues and gives other perspectives a fair hearing.
- Mark Pierzchala: Mark’s knowledge of city and neighborhood issues has grown tremendously during his first term on Council and he understands the complex nature of making decisions in a diverse community. I don’t always agree with his decisions (he seems to favor businesses more than residents and the city’s heritage at times) but he always explains how he came to his decisions. He’s the only incumbent I’m endorsing for City Council, and losing him would lose continuity on the Council.
- Virginia Onley: Virginia has a long history of service to Rockville through various committees and boards, so she’s experienced the community from various perspectives. Yet, serving on Council will be Continue reading →
Today is a double-header for the Rockville City Council candidates, putting a punctuation point to a long series of debates this season. I attended this afternoon’s session hosted at the Senior Center and tonight is the last with the Chamber of Commerce. By now, the candidates have honed their thoughts and can quickly state their positions, which is much more helpful to the voters. You can also see where alliances have formed, how their personalities affect their thinking, and where there is uncertainty. From today’s forum, it seemed the alliances are Marcuccio, Newton, Hall, and maybe Gottfried vs. Gajewski and Pierzchala (if we arranged this by nationality, we’d have. . .hmm).
This forum was primarily focused on the needs and interests of seniors, so there were questions about the candidates’ ideas to support “aging in place,” homeowner’s tax credit, affordable housing, and the impact of decreased county and state support on Rockville’s senior programming, but some ranged further, for example a surprising question on the King Farm transitway. The $100 homeowners tax credit was discussed throughout the afternoon, with Gajewski and Hall clearly supporting its reappearance; Marcuccio and Newton only if the eligibility criteria could be tightened (e.g., only for seniors); and Francis clearly against, calling it a smokescreen for the more important issue of unfair property taxes and adoption of a piggyback income tax. Time was wasted on the question, “Where senior services ranked as a priority” because no politician will Continue reading →
I had a chance to attend my first city council candidates forum today, which I think is actually the third of more than a half dozen. If you missed it, don’t worry, you have plenty of opportunities coming up (including two this upcoming week that will be broadcast).
Today’s forum was held in the senior center and hosted by the neighborhood associations for College Gardens, Woodley Gardens, and Plymouth Woods and moderated by Cheryl Kagan. All the candidates were seated in a single row, barely fitting on stage, and about 60 people attended, mostly senior citizens. Unlike some neighborhood forums that focus exclusively on their parochial issues, this one ranged widely around Rockville, including such topics as Rockville in ten years, budget and finances, the APFO, Rockville Pike Plan, the fence separating Montgomery College, the city logo and branding, qualifications of the next city manager, relationships with other government agencies, relations with city staff, the proposed Walmart, and an assessment of the city’s website. Perhaps the most provocative question was, “which candidate do you oppose in this election and why?” I won’t provide a detailed report on everyone’s statements–I’ll leave that to the Gazette or you can watch the 2+ hours of it on YouTube–but will just give general impressions and highlights.
It seems that the candidates are beginning to solidify their statements and finding ways to Continue reading →
Dear Supporter of RedGate Golf Course,
This year is a crucial election for the City of Rockville.
Okay, so what’s so crucial?
The future of RedGate Golf Course hangs in the balance. As Mayor of the City of Rockville, I have been a strong and consistent advocate for keeping RedGate open as a well-run natural resource for today and for the future.
Hmm, that’s sounds good. Who can be against a well-run natural resource? . . . although I’m not sure a golf course is a natural resource. Whatever.
However, my challenger in this election is actively campaigning against me and against RedGate by misleading the public Continue reading →
I’ve just confirmed with the City Clerk’s office that the following persons will be on the ballot in November 2011:
- Peter Gajewski
- Phyllis Marcuccio
- John Hall
- Tom Moore
- Bridget Newton
- Virginia Onley
The deadline for getting on the ballot is Friday, September 9, so I suspect more names will be added this next week.
If you’re not familiar with the process, it’s not required of any other elected officials serving Rockville–not the County Council, our State Delegates, or State Senator. Each candidate has to submit a petition signed by one hundred registered Rockville voters along with their request to be placed on the ballot. Superficially, it sounds like a nice way to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it’s very hard to do. Most of us don’t know 100 registered Rockville voters, so you have to find them at shopping centers, the Metro stations, or walking your neighborhood. Because most strangers don’t want to be bothered, it provides a major advantage to incumbents who have name recognition and a existing pool of supporters. Complicating matters is that you have to sign the petition exactly as you registered to vote with the Board of Elections or it won’t count. And after Congresswoman Giffords’ shooting in Tucson, shopping centers are shooing away political activities to avoid a repeat of that tragedy. So now it’s more than just an exercise in identifying serious candidates, it’s become one of Donald Trump’s projects out of “The Apprentice”. It may be legal (but I’m guessing it’s as legal as poll taxes), but this process of collecting 100 signatures isn’t required at county or state levels of government (our neighboring City of Gaithersburg requires 100 signatures, but are they our model?). Has it ensured a better quality candidate? Or has it dissuaded good residents from running? Why one hundred?