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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Expanding Bike Transit in Montgomery County

Our efforts to expand bike transit in Montgomery County are being noticed. We have programs coming in Rockville and Shady Grove and hopefully we will install them in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and Takoma Park, in 2012. Keep your fingers crossed! Run video...

Montgomery County Seeking To Join Bikeshare Program:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Mini Nut

Enjoying our first trip to the Maryland Youth Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker. It's a shortened version for kids. Still, lots of wiggles in the rows and kids getting caught in those folding theater seats! :)

The venue is Montgomery College's performing arts stage and it couldn't be more spectacular.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daily journal, 12-7-11 (MCPS budget)

The big issue of the day was the budget proposal from the new superintendent of MCPS, Dr. Joshua Starr. I talk to Josh when I can at events in the community, and I've been impressed by his approach but also appreciative of his educational and child development philosophy. He has offered a specific critique of the prevailing dogma around education reform and No Child Left Behind that I and many parents also share.

A "budget address" by the MCPS superintendent is, for some reason, a very big affair. Hundreds of MCPS stakeholders gather to hear a presentation that feels sort of like a (government) version of Steve Jobs unveiling the next iPhone. I wonder if the County Executive has ever thought about doing something like that. The benefit of the address is it gives the chief executive the chance to explain the values, mission and strategy of the organization. The county government could use an exercise like that.

Theatrics aside, the new MCPS budget is a constructive proposal and one that I hope will get all parties working together in the right frame of mind. There are very modest compensation increases for MCPS employees, who have gone 3 years now without a raise. My hope is that the increase can be generally matched for county agencies (i.e., Department of Transportation, HHS, Libraries, and so on).

I don't know if we can afford any improvements yet because we don't know how much money we will have to work with. Nevertheless, the proposal is certainly reasonable and provides a good basis for discussion going forward.

One issue that we will have to work on is the $26 million state aid penalty resulting from the council's reduction in per-pupil local spending. The reduction was necessary to bring spending down from levels that were sustained only by revenues from a real estate and financial markets bubble. If the state does not waive the penalty, the council will have to examine ways to offset it. At the same time, competing priorities such as police, fire service, parks, libraries and more - which also have taken heavy hits during the recession - will need adequate funding. So we will have a lot on our plate in coming months! Please keep in touch as we put together our budget.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Curfew Vote

Dear Supporter,

Today the County Council voted 6-3 for my motion to “table” the County Executive’s proposed youth curfew.

Since the curfew was first proposed in July, Montgomery County has significantly increased its police presence in certain hot spot areas where troubling incidents have occurred.

The result of this increase in police staffing has been remarkable: According to MCPD data, while in previous years we averaged 6 robberies per month, now we are averaging 1.5. In other words, crime has fallen to less than a third of what it was in downtown Silver Spring.

These facts on the ground have changed my view of the need for a proposed curfew at this time. At the same time, I cannot rule out the possible need for a curfew down the road. That is why I proposed to keep it “on the shelf” by tabling it. I think that is the right position for the county now.

I will continue to monitor the facts on the ground closely and do everything I can to make our community safe for our kids and all residents; and I will continue to view a youth curfew as a measure of last resort.

Thank you for weighing in on this important community issue. I will keep looking for practical ways to have a positive impact and I will look to you to help me achieve it. In addition, public safety will be one of the many issues discussed at my Town Hall Solutions Forum on Monday, December 12 at 7pm in Richard Montgomery High School's cafeteria.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daily journal, 12-1-11

Yesterday, I attended a policy forum on workforce training hosted by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution. It was a very informative event and has given me a lot to think about for policy making in Montgomery County. I also attended a legislative dinner hosted by the MCCPTA. I enjoyed the chance to meet many of the activists from around the county, and as a bonus, I got to eat with my friend Juan Johnson, a PTA leader from Germantown whom I've known since my earliest jobs in DC in 1995 or so.

Today I was invited to join a meeting of childcare center directors. Needless to say, with a toddler and an infant in my family, I am interested in this topic. I sat with several directors of childcare centers and Uma Ahluwalia, the county's director of Health and Human Services. I believe wholeheartedly we must do more to support early childhood programs. Particularly in Montgomery County where many of our youngest children are English language learners, the more we can do at an early age the better off we will all be since all of our kids are in the same classrooms.

Today also featured much wrangling on the topic of the curfew. There is a Post story out now describing how I have worked with council president Berliner to put the curfew on a "shelf" so to speak. I have mixed feelings about it as do many people. Regardless, the enhanced police enforcement in Silver Spring and Burtonsville that we budgeted this year is working well -- crime is one third (!!) of what it was before the up-staffing -- and I think we should wait to see if that progress is sustained before deciding on a sweeping step like a curfew.