Thursday, January 24, 2013

MoCo JuiceBlender: County Officials Push Gun Control, Robin Ficker Defeats MoCo Speed Camera, Towson's Bethesda Crush?

UPDATE: County Exec Ike Leggett's office has provided a clarification about the impact of Robin Ficker's court victory over a MoCo speed camera. They note that the Judge's decision in the case "does not establish a precedent that will be binding in other cases presented in court, and the decision in this case does not require a modification of Department policy.  The Department will not be reviewing other cases in which citations were issued by this speed camera."

On another note, gun control activists have created a new organization in Maryland called, Marylanders Against Gun Violence. Their mission states, "MDAGV is a grassroots organization advocating for sensible gun control legislation in the Maryland General Assembly and in Congress." You can find them on Facebook for more information. Additionally, given the surge in interest in gun control from Montgomery County residents, you can watch Ike Leggett discuss Maryland's gun control efforts in a recent News Channel 8 interview:

JUICE #1: MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICIALS PUSHING FOR GUN CONTROL IN MARYLAND - With the recent surge in support for gun control measures, Montgomery County politicians are moving quickly to take advantage of the moment. The latest email newsletter from MoCo Council President Nancy Navarro announced a few efforts from MoCo officials relating to gun control efforts (excerpt below):
Council works with Board of Education to accelerate placing new security measures in all county schools: Four years ago, the Council provided funding for MCPS to install access control systems, camera systems, and visitor management systems in County schools.... On Monday, January 7th, Council Education Committee Chair Valerie Ervin and myself sent a letter to Board of Education President Chris Barclay asking MCPS to speed up implementation of new these security measures at schools across the county. The next day, the Board of Education voted to act on our recommendation, and requested that we release about $365,000 earlier than planned so that they can finish installing these systems by the end of the school year....

Message to state and federal lawmakers: we need better gun control laws: On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Council passed a resolution to send a clear message to our representatives in the state legislature and in Congress that Montgomery County wants action on gun control. The resolution calls for the Governor and state legislature to consider and implement the recently released recommendations of the Maryland Task Force to Study Access of Individuals with Mental Illness to Regulated Firearms, and for state and federal officials to take a number of other common sense steps to reduce the number of dangerous guns in the hands of criminals or mentally ill individuals who may harm themselves or others....
DETAILS OF THE MOCO GUN CONTROL RESOLUTION - Several days ago, The Gazette reported on MoCo's efforts to encourage gun control legislation. Their coverage provided details on the content of the MoCo resolution (excerpt below):
GAZETTE:  Action to regulate access to firearms or ammunition is out of the county’s hands but pushing for state or federal action, or backing steps already under way, is something well within the county’s reach, [Councilmember Nancy Navarro] said....

Among its other provisions, the resolution also calls on the General Assembly and Congress to pass legislation that would ban assault weapons, armor-piercing bullets and high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; to open communication between mental health providers and agencies that grant gun permits and between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local law enforcement; to close the "gun show loophole" - which in some states allows purchasing guns at shows without a background check; and to increase penalties for criminals who use guns to commit a crime.

SILVER SPRING GUN CONTROL RALLY AND MARCH THIS SATURDAY - Lastly, this Saturday, Organizing for Action and State Senator Jamie Raskin are organizing a gun control march in downtown Silver Spring:
March on Washington for Gun Control - Sat, Jan 26, 2013
Please support this very critical cause by joining us at:
8:45 AM - "Pre-March Rally" event organized by Organizing For Action-Greater Silver Spring (OFA-GSS) and Senator Jamie Raskin at the Veteran's Plaza in downtown Silver Spring

9:30 AM - Ride the Metro together from Silver Spring and join the Rally in DC as a Montgomery County group

10:00 AM - Join the silent March in Washington DC

JUICE #2: TOWSON SEEKS TO BECOME "BALTIMORE COUNTY'S BETHESDA" - Last week, Bryan Sears from The Towson Patch carried interesting comments from Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in an article titled "Bethesda Envy." It seems that Kamenetz is hoping Towson could become "Baltimore County's Bethesda." I suppose the grass is always greener (excerpt below):
TOWSON PATCH:  The sign above County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's head attempted to proclaim the excitement and vibrancy of Towson.

But judging from his opening remarks during an announcement about three restaurants coming to Towson Square, perhaps the message should have been "Towson: A Better Bethesda."

"We're going to become Baltimore County's Bethesda," Kamenetz said during a news conference announcing the new restaurant tenants at the project under construction on more than 4 acres of land along Joppa Road adjacent to the Towson Town Center.

The $85 million project, built by Heritage Properties and The Cordish Companies, was formerly known as Towson Circle III and includes a 16-screen Cinemark movie theater as well as restaurant and retail space as well as an 862-space parking garage....

"Better than Bethesda, better than Silver Spring or whatever else [County Executive] Ike Legget can churn up in Montgomery County," Kamenetz said....

Sigmund Freud had his penis envy. Perhaps we can call this Bethesda Inferiority Complex?...

JUICE #3: ROBIN FICKER BEATS SHADY MOCO SPEED CAMERA IN COURT - Robin Ficker, a frequent candidate for office in Montgomery County and Maryland, recently scored a big victory. The Washington Post reported last week that he successfully challenged a MoCo speed camera ticket by pointing out that the camera in question was located in a place that didn't match MoCo's stated policy goals of stopping residential speeding (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: One of the nation’s most well-known sporting venue hecklers - Bethesda attorney Robin Ficker - went to court Monday and turned his sights on a new opponent: a Montgomery County speed camera. And he won.

Ficker contested the $40 citation leveled against him after a camera zapped him on Sept. 5 driving down Jones Bridge Road, between Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area.

Ficker argued that the location of the camera was on a stretch of road that wasn’t residential in nature and didn’t comport with what Ficker called the stated purpose of Montgomery’s speed cameras: slowing down drivers in residential areas or near schools. Ficker said that the nearest house in one direction of the camera was 270 yards; in the other direction, 370 yards. Further, Ficker said, the street where the camera is placed is bordered on one side by a golf course and the other by a medical facility....

JUICE #4: MOCO GETTING DESPERATE FOR TRANSPORTATION FUNDING SOLUTION - There should be little doubt that Maryland is currently in the midst of a transportation funding crisis. Maryland's economy is obviously driven heavily by the state's major metropolitan areas and their proximity to Washington, DC. But somehow our political leadership has failed to prioritize finding funding for our transportation infrastructure. A few Montgomery County politicians continue to try and draw attention to this issue. For example, The Bethesda Now website reported last week that Councilmember Roger Berliner hosted a panel of experts to brainstorm ways of raising transportation revenues (excerpt below):
BETHESDA NOW: County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) today hosted a panel of experts at a council committee meeting to discuss creative options for funding transportation projects....

Officials from Northern Virginia, where new Beltway HOT lanes recently debuted and where WMATA’s Silver Line to Dulles Airport is close to opening, spoke about how they funded those major projects.

Arthur Guzzetti, vice president for police of the American Public Transit Association, told the committee there is no "cookie-cutter" strategy for funding major transportation projects.

"Whatever you can get the votes for is the way to go," Guzzetti said.

Fairfax County made a $900 million contribution to the nearly $6.8 billion Silver Line by raising taxes on commercial properties that stand to benefit from the Metro’s extension to Dulles Airport, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Deborah Lipman....

MARYLAND BUSINESS LEADERS NEED TO FOCUS THEIR ASKS ON TRANSPORTATION FUNDING - Maryland's numerous proposed rail projects seem particularly imperiled by the funding stalemate, even though current housing market trends (and various types of economic development) favor proximity to transit. Indeed, these days many of the most desirable neighborhoods and those with the highest appreciation in property value are those well-served by our metro system; witness the change in housing prices (and neighborhood evolution) along Virginia's Silver Line or DC's Green/Yellow lines, as examples. But while the business community has been fixating on matching Virginia's tax rates and other unwinnable policies in deeply liberal Maryland, they have annoyingly taken their eyes off the more important and achievable prize of full transportation funding. In my humble opinion, the business community's efforts on issues like the MoCo energy tax or Maryland's "millionaire's tax" should not be equal to or greater than their efforts on transportation funding.

Meanwhile, the non-urbanized parts of Maryland seem unwilling to accept the reality that the transit-accessible parts of the state are heavily subsidizing their rural, ex-urban and sprawl lifestyles. Without addressing the merits of that financing scenario, I would instead point out that new transit lines in Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore promise to boost tax revenues for all of Maryland, and that based on history, those dollars will undoubtedly be siphoned off for projects in other parts of the state. So where's the political courage?

JUICE #5: MOCO RELEASES NEW EPISODE OF "CONSUMER COMPASS" TV SHOW // WATCH ONLINE - MoCo's cable access show "Consumer Compass" is back with a new episode of consumer rights infotainment. We previously highlighted the work of the government employees who produce the show, and we continue to insist that the amusing intro sequence alone makes the series worth watching!
This episode contains segments discussing:
  • Predatory Towing
  • True Confessions From the Man With the Hook
  • Koreans Visit MoCo
  • International Lottery Scams

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