Mayor and Council to Consider Changes to Mayor and Council
At its Monday, December 12, 2022 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss the FY22 financial report and the FY24 budget priorities. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are a dozen items, including easements, services, grant agreement, and the tenth amendment to the interim management agreement with Morguard for Rockville Town Square, among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on priorities with the District 17 Delegation and recommendations from the 2020-22 Charter Review Commission.
The Charter Review Commission has developed recommendations for a wide variety of issues related to the City Charter (its constitution), including expanding the size of the City Council, term limits for councilmembers, alternative voting systems, translation of election materials, the scope and size of the Board of Supervisors of Elections, and increasing voter turnout. After forty meetings and interruptions due to the pandemic, the Commission is recommending that,
“the City maintain the status-quo on several topics (e.g., staggered Council terms and alternative methods of advertising elections), the Commission is also recommending bolder changes to City policy and operations in order to enhance accountability and transparency, increase voter turnout, and advance racial equity and social justice. Notably, the Commission is recommending such reforms as an increase in the size of the Council, implementation of term limits on the Mayor and Council, creation of representative districts, exploring changing the time of the election, and allowing residents who are not United States citizens and those at least 16 years of age to vote in municipal elections.”
More details in the 465-page agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12122022-6765.
Heard on the street: things are heating up in the West End neighborhood regarding design guidelines proposed by the West End Citizens Association. I suspect this is related to the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. A website opposed to WECA’s action can be found at PreserveTheWestEnd.com.
What is Senator Kagan Doing in Annapolis?
The 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 →
This Week Two More Debates and Early Voting
The candidates for Rockville Mayor and Council will square off again this week two more times, giving voters more opportunities to size them up before Early Voting over the weekend. These forums will probably focus on different topics, although there should be some overlap.
Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 pm at the Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive. The College Gardens Civic Association and the Woodley Gardens Civic Association are teaming up to host this debate, which will most likely focus on issues important to residential neighborhoods. The debate will be moderated by Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan, who’s been known to add questions of her own.
Thursday, October 22 at 7:00 pm at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive (in the Rockville Civic Center adjacent to the Twinbrook/Silver Rock/Burgundy neighborhoods). The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County is hosting this forum, which will most likely focus on issues of city-wide concern. It will also be televised live and rebroadcast on Rockville Channel 11.
This weekend you can cast your votes early on Saturday and Sunday, October 24-25 from 10 am-8 pmat City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue (downtown near the courthouses). Same-day registration and voting is available to eligible individuals (bring a valid photo ID and proof of residency) at City Hall only on early voting days and Election Day, November 3.
The election is now two weeks away and last week all registered voters should have received a sample ballot in the mail. If you did not receive it, you probably need to register with the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall. For more information, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/election, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-314-8286.
Absentee ballot applications, for voters who cannot make it to a location, are available in English or Spanish at City Hall and at www.rockvillemd.gov/election. The last day the city will mail absentee ballots is Monday, October 26. After October 26, absentee ballots must be picked up at the City Clerk’s Office. Ballots must be dropped off or received by mail at the City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 no later than 8 pm on Tuesday, November 3. Ballots received after 8 pm on November 3 will not be counted in the election.
Who Decides the Future of Rockville?
If you want to influence the government of Rockville, you need to recognize who makes the decisions. Usually it’s the Mayor and Council, and you need to persuade just three of the five. In an election, it’s voters. Although there are 60,000 residents in Rockville, only about half are registered to vote. As much as we talk about “democracy” and “the power of the people,” ultimately, people who can’t vote, can’t decide.
So if you want to make a difference in your community, state, or nation, Rule #1 is register to vote. Two centuries ago, only white men who owned real estate had the right to vote. Since then, the rules have changed thanks to the battles fought by our predecessors. Today, the only citizens who are ineligible to vote in Maryland are imprisoned felons, the mentally disabled, and those under 18.
Now here’s the rub: Continue reading →