Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 12 Days of Christmas continue on www.RobertDyer.net!

Today, you can now watch a playlist of the top 10 videos of the year as chosen by viewers of the Robert Dyer Channel!

Just click on this link to enjoy the most popular videos of 2009:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=639720C4F0E13D74

And thanks to the audience of thousands who have tuned in to the Robert Dyer Channel since it launched last spring!

Monday, December 28, 2009




SIDEWALKS
BLOCKED BY
SNOW AT
WOOD ACRES ES

School and Public Sidewalks Not
Wheelchair Accessible

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!


Less than a month after I wrote about icy sidewalks in front of Wood Acres ES, the public pathway is inaccessible to the disabled - and downright dangerous for anyone.

Apparently, the laws requiring sidewalks to be cleared apply to the taxpayers, but not to the county and MCPS.

Examine the above photos I took last evening. This is 8 days after the snowstorm ended!

Read the following from the county code:

Property owners are responsible for clearing public sidewalks on or
adjacent to their property
within 24 hours of the end of a
snowstorm.


Please note: The Montgomery County Commission for People with Disabilities
reminds residents that
people who use walkers, wheelchairs, baby
strollers, rolling briefcases, etc,
need 36-inch wide sidewalks
and curb ramps for safe travel
, especially when the walks are slippery
or wet.

Now check those photos above again. No wheelchair is getting through there!

Another dangerous problem, is that there is another wall of snow where the main crosswalk in front of the school meets the sidewalk. So if a child is crossing and a car were to suddenly speed up the street, he or she would be unable to step onto the sidewalk. This renders the crosswalk effectively useless, and encourages pedestrians to jaywalk - because that is the only way to cross under the circumstances.

So use caution, and hopefully they will have this cleaned up quickly.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

12 DAYS OF
CHRISTMAS
ON
RobertDyer.net!

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

Enjoy not one, but 12 days of Christmas here on RobertDyer.net!

It starts today!

Begin by watching my Exclusive video of McDonald's' new Mac Wraps on the Robert Dyer Channel at www.RobertDyer.net!!

They are delicious, and taste and smell like a real Big Mac.

Stand by for Breaking News...

The AFP reports that China has the world's fastest operational passenger train. 394.2 kilometers per hour.

"In September, officials said they planned to build 42 high-speed lines by 2012 in a massive system overhaul as part of efforts to spur economic growth amid the global downturn."

We continue to fall behind in rail transportation and space exploration, and China is moving towards the front. President Obama has been honest about his lack of interest in reclaiming victory in the space race; he did claim, however, to support building high speed rail. The money necessary is being spent on other, wasteful things so far. As previously mentioned, a small amount will be put toward rail early in 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

RITCHIE
BLACKMORE
SPEAKS ON
INFLATION
A www.RobertDyer.net Christmas Special

I've quoted Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee on the trials of the average citizen trying to make ends meet in the new era of high cost of living and low wages; now, one of my guitar heroes - the legendary Ritchie Blackmore - has surprisingly weighed in with a Christmas message on the topic:

"I am from the old school and I remember the old prices. That’s why I am always shocked when I go to the grocery stores and see the prices. Expenses from every direction have gone up to ridiculous levels. But salaries haven’t. It’s just not right to take advantage of [people]."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

THE MAN WHO
SOLD THE
WORLD...
(...OR, AT
LEAST,
MONTGOMERY
COUNTY)

Ah, this is where it gets interesting. The intrigue. The backstabbing. The dirty tricks and smoke-filled back rooms. When the shadowy special interests that decide so many of the critical issues clash with each other, the results can be surprising - and devastating.


Most citizens are simply too busy working to follow the minute, cryptic, and secret dealings that go on, with very little notification from their elected officials about hearings and votes on important legislation. And, believe me, our elected officials know it! This is by their own design. It turns out that many critical decisions have been made without the knowledge of the public. Decisions that effect us for decades to come.


Here in Montgomery County, we have the 2nd worst commute in the nation. This is in large part due to the failure of our elected officials to build the infrastucture necessary to support the overdevelopment they have approved. But I have always wondered how planning "experts" could have allowed this to happen. Why, when Montgomery County's "wedges and corridors" and, especially, L'Enfant's D.C. were so cleverly designed way back, does the region function so poorly in practical use?

We know that our transit system is woefully behind that of other cities and nations. We have a few spokes radiating out from the center of D.C., where New York and Paris have a network. And I personally have always felt like some basic elements of our road system are also missing. Now I have some proof which validates my suspicion.


An enlightening obituary in Monday's Washington Post suggests that our traffic woes may also be due to decisions made way back in the 1950s and 60s.

Peter Craig is described as the man who "fought to keep superhighways out of D.C."


Considering we don't have any superhighways in our area, that is a sad and shocking headline.

It turns out that up to 7 superhighways were planned to radiate out of Washington in the 1950s and 60s.

These included one of particular interest to Montgomery County: a superhighway that would have run "from the Georgetown waterfront[,] up Glover-Archbold Park (sic) and out Wisconsin Avenue into Bethesda, where it would have joined what is now Interstate 270."

If you are reading this on your BlackBerry, Droid, or iPhone while stuck in traffic, you might feel like throwing it out the window after reading that. But don't! Instead, use it to surf over to www.RobertDyer.net where you can join my crusade to finally modernize our laughingstock of a transportation system!

But back to our story...

Can you imagine what that highway might have done to relieve the gridlock on 355 and 495 to the 270 spur?

Another project Mr. Craig (and, of course, it wasn't just Mr. Craig alone) stopped was a bridge carrying Route 66 over the Potomac into Washington. Again, wouldn't that have made a difference in today's gridlock?

Mr. Craig of the "powerful Covington and Burlington law firm," used "Capitol Hill contacts" to achieve a "ban on freeways west of Rock Creek and north of M Street."

As George W. Bush once said, "Heckuva job, Brownie!"

Imagine the impact 7 superhighways might have had, and you realize that, yes, something has indeed been missing all along.

This reminds me of two things among others: the coordinated effort to stop the CSX Georgetown Branch from becoming a commuter rail line, and the many haters of the Whitehurst Freeway, one of the best, and most utilitarian and scenic in Washington, D.C.

A coalition of special interests, elected officials, and wealthy, well-connected residents of Bethesda and Chevy Chase successfully stopped a vital transit link in the late 1980s and early 90s. A former CSX freight line was set to become a MARC commuter rail route from Silver Spring to the Georgetown waterfront via Bethesda. Commuters, shoppers, and tourists would all have used this line, and businesses along it would have greatly benefitted.

Instead, it was stopped cold, and the Capital Crescent Trail was installed overnight. A trail so passionately argued over today, you'd be surprised to learn it was never meant to exist to begin with!

I remember watching the destruction of the railroad. As a child, it was my own neighborhood railroad. And now it was gone. If Montgomery County Government had placed the energy, speed, and passion it put into that demolition effort into the major challenges we've faced, we would be a superior county today.

Instead, we have withered on the vine. Only the irrelevant ICC - a toll road for the rich - has been built. Meanwhile, the expansion of 270 and 355 is not going to happen under the current "leadership." Expansion of MARC? Forget about it under the same current "leadership."

If we don't make changes in 2010, we're not going anywhere.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

S'NO
EMERGENCY
ON
COUNTY CABLE
MONTGOMERY

County Channel Pulls Plug on Traffic
Cameras in Favor of Political, Irrelevant Content

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

If you were trying to use the traffic cameras on County Cable Montgomery to check road conditions, you were out of luck.

Instead, you might have been greeted by Martin O'Malley propaganda, complete with stirring "came-with-the-editing-software" music and photos provided by "O'Malley's March," and produced by "the auspices of the Montgomery County Council?"

What's that mean anyway? The County Council ordered the taxpayer funded channel to create a free political ad promoting Gov. O'Malley?

You might have also found various irrelevant and old programs.

CCM should have been fulfilling its role as a public information channel by providing the usual traffic camera views, and updated information on road hazards and closings. As a result, drivers were unable to know what conditions they were facing on major roadways across the county.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

from the
surreal news
file:
MOCO
JOB-KILLERS
ANNOUNCE
THEY'RE IN
CHARGE OF
JOB CREATION

Wow, it's been a weird and wacky couple of weeks in Montgomery County, as the same councilmembers who have run the finances and business climate into the ground over the last 8 years are now proclaiming themselves "pro-jobs."

As Johnny Carson used to say, "that is some weird, wild stuff."

George Leventhal and new council President Nancy "I want to take the helm of the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg" Floreen are leading the charge to recast the tired team of 8 years as Bob McDonnell times 9. Bob McDonnell masks are flying off the shelves as everyone from Barack Obama to county dog catcher has taken up everyone's favorite thesis writer's mantra of jobs, jobs, jobs.

In Gazette articles, and a George Leventhal letter-to-the-editor, the developer-beholden council faction makes a number of false arguments:

First, they claim that development = jobs. This is patently false, as we've had out-of-control development over most of the county, and no long-term jobs were created in any significant number.

In fact, the job numbers prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this 8 year council has been on the wrong course all along, and are doubling down on that same road to oblivion now.

With all of the "town centers," mixed-use vacant condo buildings, and StrathRock art centers, no real jobs were created. That's right. The numbers are in, and Councilmembers Leventhal and Floreen are touting them as the reason we need even more of that development.

Huh?

The truth is that mixed-use boutiques and "town centers" only create McJobs: restaurant, retail sales, garage attendant, etc. So if we have the new planning board members Leventhal and Floreen want, who will be "streamlining and expediting project approvals" for "town centers" where neighborhood strip malls currently stand, there will only be McJobs created.

Strange also to hear them claim the Fillmore as a job creator, when it's simply a glorified bar, and, gosh, what parent doesn't want their kid to grow up to be a bartender or bouncer? Nothing wrong with either of those jobs, it's just that Live Nation supporters are putting them in the same category as engineer, scientist, or lawyer, when the salaries just don't stack up.

Second, Leventhal claimed that MoCo lost Hilton Hotels and National Public Radio (really short list, when you might have actually heard of a company called Volkswagen, one of many other huge firms to bypass our county) because of the "lack of certainty [that] new office space would be approved expeditiously."

That's as false as the "overdevelop or die" theme out of the council chambers this week. When did Dr. Yes ever cancel a big development project? Especially one for a huge employer? How about never? How do you think Royce Hanson earned the tag, "Dr. Yes?"

(Double weird: the same councilmembers who chose Hanson in a back room negotitation are now trying to blame him for their failed leadership).

It's not a "lack of certainty" scaring away companies, it's the abundance of draconian taxes, fees, and Big Government regulations - along with a bizarre set of council priorities - that are frightening enough to scare anybody away.

It's a transportation system in total gridlock, with a Planning Board and council that want to increase development without building the necessary infrastructure. Purple Line, CCT, ICC, and 2 toll lanes on 270 = zero improvement in traffic capacity.

This gridlock is permanently associated with the "End Gridlock" team who have spent the last 8 years only increasing gridlock.

It's a school system facing a record drop in funding, a massive cut in education spending asked for by this council, executive, and state delegates! "Move here so your employees' kids can go to our great, uh, er, now average schools to which we cut funding!"

It's a county so hostile to business and taxpayers, that Mr. Leventhal even raised costs for county restaurants with his high-priority "menu reform" (hey, that'll get chains to move their headquarters here, right?), and Ms. Floreen proposed a $250 parking tax that would have been paid by landowners and residents.

And, how about this pro-business initiative: Ike Leggett (like many councilmembers in the past, including Councilmember Floreen) is calling for an increase in the gas tax! That'll make it cheaper to do business in the county, now won't it?

With county unemployment now at an unheard of 5.4%, Leventhal and Floreen are pointing fingers everywhere besides at themselves.

This council has been in charge for 8 years.

Over the years of 2001-2008 (in only one of those years was this council not elected), Montgomery County's grand total of new jobs created (after all that mixed-use, town center, StrathRock growth) was a whopping 7,855.

During that same period, Fairfax County created 42,743 jobs.

Did I just hear a pin drop?

Wow. What a legacy this council has, but they want you know that, like Alexander Haig, they're in charge here. It wasn't their fault, really it wasn't!

According to Councilmember Leventhal in yesterday's Gazette, "There are many economic factors that are beyond county government's control, including the banking crisis, trade imbalances, globalization of industry, and more."

There's just one problem: Fairfax County was hit by all of those same "factors," and still created over 36,000 more jobs than this 8 year council team did.

Summing up the legacy he and his colleagues leave behind next November, after 8 years in power, Leventhal said "we can no longer take for granted that Montgomery County is a magnet for investment."

Well said.

But when pointing fingers in every direction, this council might want to reflect on the words of Holly Lisle, quoted on another newspaper front page yesterday, the Frederick News-Post:

"Actions have consequences - first rule of life. And the second rule is this - you are the only one responsible for your own actions."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have you watched the video of the fountains at Johns Hopkins Green Spring Station on the Robert Dyer Channel yet? Go to www.RobertDyer.net right now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

AMTRAK GETS
STIMULUS FUNDS
FOR LONG-DELAYED
ADA UPGRADES

Damascus Elementary and other Montgomery County buildings and roadways aren't the only Americans with Disabilities Act compliance projects still to be completed 19 years later.

Poorly-funded and mismanaged Amtrak has a backlog of projects, some of which are now getting the green light thanks to a rare positive use of Federal funny money stimulus funds.

These include:

Edge strips for 40 stations
Concrete platforms for 23 stations
Wheelchair lifts for 173 stations

This took $40 million in funds.

Unfortunately, Amtrak still needs $1.56 billion to fully comply with the ADA by 2015. That is too long to wait!

What an embarrassment it is to witness Congress wasting hundreds of billions on pork, instead of providing equal access for the disabled in our national rail network.

Source: Trains magazine

Friday, December 11, 2009




RobertDyer.net
2009 Holiday
Gift Guide:
Elected Official,
Planning Board
Edition


Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!




Are you searching for the perfect gift for that developer-beholden politician? Something that registered lobbyists haven't already given him or her?

I have found it for you!


It is the Transformers Decepticon called "Devastator!"


At $109.99, it's not a bargain gift! But bargain gifts won't turn that neighborhood shopping center into a vacant luxury condo building with boutiques on the first floor, will they?


You've got to make an impression, and six construction vehicles which combine to form one gigantic robot will do that!


Let the packaging speak for itself:


"Lights and destruction sounds show his enemies he means business!"


Science City, here we come!


"Nothing will ever be the same."


Goodbye farms and surface parking lots.



"As his Vortex Grinder snaps open and glows with power, all before him quake in fear, knowing the destruction is inevitable!"


Is this a toy box, or the latest brochure on "Smart Growth?"

Devastator is the rare toy that includes batteries!

Farm and 70's strip mall playsets, Rollin Stanley figure, and County Council dais sold separately.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

DAMASCUS ES
ADA COMPLIANCE
UPDATE

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

The Americans with Disabilities Act violations at Damascus Elementary School are among the disability access issues I've been working on this year. I have a breaking news update on that. As you know, if you are a regular reader, I brought this matter to Councilmember Mike Knapp's attention at his October meeting in Damascus.

Yesterday morning, I received a call from Councilmember Knapp's office indicating that ADA compliance funds for Damascus ES will be in the MCPS CIP budget for next summer. I wouldn't start celebrating just yet, however. The funds are not itemized, so it is unclear if the ramp and elevator will both be covered. More importantly, with the $600 million+ budget shortfall, everything will be on the table.

So it is up to people like you and I to monitor this situation, keep the pressure on, and ensure that those with disabilities have equal access and freedom of movement at Damascus ES. And that requires bringing the school into compliance next summer.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Such as this update:

SIDEWALKS
CLEARED
AT
WOOD ACRES ES

One very small step for the disabled and able-bodied at Wood Acres ES; apparently the word about icy sidewalks there reported on this blog yesterday reached the right ears. The sidewalks in front of the school are now ice-free.

Monday, December 07, 2009

ICY SIDEWALK
AT
WOOD ACRES ES

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

The sidewalk in front of Wood Acres ES is icy on both sides of the main entrance. This is a serious oversight by the county. It is not only a violation of the ADA, similar to what we witnessed a few years ago (when disabled citizens in wheelchairs could not reach Metro and Ride On bus stops due to uncleared ice on county-owned sidewalks), but simply dangerous for anyone walking there. I almost slipped myself last evening. If someone falls, they might sue the county, and then the taxpayers will end up paying the tab.

Once again, it is hypocritical for the council to have passed a law requiring residents to clear sidewalks in front of their homes (even though the sidewalks are on county property), and yet allow the county itself to leave its sidewalks uncleared. It's outrageous.

Anyway, if you are approaching the school on the sidewalk, I recommend entering the parking lot at a different entrance. It's possible they'll clear it early this AM, but it won't melt by itself at 29 degrees.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

STIMULUS FUNDS
MISSED THE TRAIN



Even after more than a year has passed since the Federal government began a massive bailout of Wall $treet and Democrat state and local leaders at taxpayer expen$e, I am still in disbelief. Are we really able to print $1.3 trillion dollars, with nothing backing those dollars, without throwing the nation into financial ruin? As I said at the time, should it be proven that our government can print funny money in any amount without catastrophic debt and inflation, we will have entered a new era of possibilities. We could print endless funds to end homelessness, disease, and...



Well, I don't believe it is possible to do this with no consequences today or in the future. But, considering that many on the left - in the post-Creigh Deeds era - now realize that having a JOB is the top priority of the American people, I am shocked that we didn't at least waste money in a productive fashion.



Such as finally updating our nation's transportation infrastructure. It's hard to avoid those taxpayer-funded campaign signs for "Governor Martin O'Malley" on the highways, posted where roads are being repaved.



That's work that should have been done years ago, when taxpayer funds went to Big Government schemes.



Imagine the results had we spent even $100 billion, or $500 billion on high-speed rail nationwide.



Results including not only the obvious - reduced travel times and reduced pollution - but many collateral results, as well. These include higher profits for businesses from business and tourist travel, increased output from American industries such as steel and coal, greater efficiency and productivity, lower airline fares (if you haven't noticed, cheap air travel is harder to come by in recent years, as Southwest and others became old-style airlines) due to competition, and...



Jobs, Jobs, JOBS



Next to tax cuts, nothing creates high paying jobs better than railroad expansion.



Aside from Amtrak's Acela, we have no high-speed rail in America. And the Acela is speed-limited by the current configuration of the Northeast Corridor, Big Government regulation, and its equipment's weight, which is substantially heavier than its European counterparts.



Our embarrassing transportation position is typical of the new culture of laziness some elements are attempting to paper over old-fashioned American daring and achievement. Why? Because the money required for those ventures is now needed by special interests, after tax-and-spend politicians reached a taxation ceiling in areas like our own.



So, no H1N1 vaccine, no manned or womanned flight to Mars, and no high speed rail. Meanwhile, forget about Europe; China is outdoing us in high speed rail today.



After all of the talk in Washington, the truth is that only $8 billion will be spent on high speed rail, and not until the beginning of 2010.



What can we afford at this point? That is an important question. And can rail transit be profitable? Many experts have concluded it cannot be, and will always be subsidized by government. I recognize that the evidence for that conclusion is credible, but I have not given up on the idea that rail transit can turn a profit. It will require private involvement, however, and the highest levels of service and efficiency.



We did have a chance to be the first in the nation to have a Maglev rail line from Washington to Baltimore, here in Maryland. Democrats in Annapolis turned down the Federal government's offer of free money to do it.



Now we're hearing about a second stimulus package, to "create jobs." Considering that high speed rail would create jobs, are we going to miss the train again?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

GREETINGS
FROM THE
FUTURE

As residents of Montgomery County continue to struggle with the antiquated, 1960s-era transportation network our elected officials have left us with, I have new statistics from another part of the country where transportation is moving forward.

Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix, Arizona has proven again the potential of light rail transit. It is a 20 mile line that, importantly, connects popular destinations, according to Trains magazine's John Diers.

Diers' report offers the following statistics:

Ridership is 6,000 riders-per-day over projections, and expected to reach 45,000 by 2020

35% of the line's riders are new to mass transit

12 ton-a-day reduction in air pollution

Average revenue of businesses along the line increased 13%, while business revenues off of the line declined 16% during the same period.

One other thing about Phoenix, like many other jurisdictions, elected officials have had the guts to put specific transit projects on the ballot for voters to approve expenditures, bonds, or new revenue. Unlike around here.

These numbers suggest that optimistic predictions about the long-overdue Purple Line and CCT have some basis in fact. But those are just the beginning, along with many equally-overdue highway and road improvements or projects.

Send this message back in time to our county council and state government, who have run all of their budgets into the ground with tax-and-spend policies, while ignoring the serious issues of our time.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

CHARM COUNTY?

County Cable Montgomery Airs Irrelevant
Baltimore Programming at Taxpayer Expense

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

You'd be forgiven for wondering if you had somehow received a Baltimore public access channel on your TV (fat chance with Comcast just slashing more channels this week for its poorest customers!). County Cable Montgomery Channel 6 has been airing a Spanish (and English?) language program produced by the state-run MTA transit agency.

The program has little or nothing to do with Montgomery County. Our county is not served by MTA buses or light rail; we do have some MARC commuter rail service. The program also highlights public programs available in Baltimore city and County. So why is it being aired here on our taxpayer-funded county cable channel? Is it simply to promote state elected officials?

It even has a representative of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's office. (Hope she brought gift cards!)

By the way, while the media was so busy hoping for the jury to deadlock on the Dixon case, nobody addressed a questionable issue regarding Mayor Dixon's assertion that the cards were a gift from her "developer boyfriend."

Take the mayor at her word, and what does that say about the "developer boyfriend?" What kind of guy gives his girlfriend 20 gift cards in an envelope? Is that about the cheesiest, least-classiest gift you've ever heard of (especially from a wealthy developer)? "Here's an envelope of gift cards." Wow, that is super romantic. I mean, assuming the guy has no imagination whatsoever, couldn't he have at least given one gift card equal to the amount of 20?

Hold on... they're about to tell on the show what bus number to take on Pratt St... Wait a minute, where is Pratt St. in Montgomery County?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE
HOAX CONTINUES
TO UNRAVEL

The powerful forces behind the myth of "climate change caused by human activity" are circling the wagons as new revelations continue to discredit the theory.

Can one really be a true scientist if he or she says, "the debate is over?" That sounds more like a religious position than an objective quest for tangible evidence.

But the "green" move to take your green (and the money of your children and grandchildren) isn't likely to stop. The mainstream media and some scientists are scrambling to explain just what the proof of climate change is.

Strangely, in my opinion, the common talking point the last few days has been the "melting polar ice caps."

That's a strange argument because it is weak based on scientific evidence, not to mention that the average person has no ability to measure this; only to take the word of those who state it.

But assuming the caps are melting, take the argument of those proponents that we are in a catastrophic time, on the verge of destruction. OK. That would mean that the caps have melted more than they ever have, right?

So how do they explain that the Thames river in London was once substantially higher than it is today? If we are experiencing unprecedented melting, then London would be flooded, based on empirical, scientific records of the river's previous high.

Uh oh.

Scientists do not fully understand the entirety of our global self-regulation system, and if they claim they do, watch out!

OOPS!

I think Mike Huckabee's presidential aspirations ended this week, as yet another one of his pardoned criminals has committed some of the most horrific atrocities imaginable. It is simply unbelievable how so many violent criminals get out of jail in our country, thanks to liberal, weak-on-crime elected officials.

I was supporting Sarah Palin in 2012, anyway. But she now has the entire Religious Right behind her without Huckabee in the race, a major advantage over establishment candidates.

Monday, November 30, 2009

ROBERTDYER.NET
2009 HOLIDAY GIFT
GUIDE:
Tight Budget Edition

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

The holiday season has finally begun, and this week, I am presenting my gift guide for the hard-to-buy-for people on your shopping list.

Today is the gift guide for bargain hunters, with gifts from Dollar General stores (www.DollarGeneral.com).

For the whole family:
For $25, they have a pre-lit 6 ft. Verona Pine tree; ornaments are $1 a piece extra.

For kids:
$10 Dodge Ram Radio Control Big Wheel Truck

$5 Morphbot Mutator - This is part of the "Mutator Collection," a Transformers knock-off. But you can choose from a Ford 650 truck or yellow Ford Mustang GT that turn into a robot (that'll teach them for dropping Barricade from Transformers 2). I'd pay $5 just to find out what happens when you push the button that says "Try Me!" on the package.

$20 My Very Own Kitchen - a kitchen playset to keep your aspiring Rachael Ray or Bryan Voltaggio busy

For him or her:
$35 SimpleFlix Digital Video Camera with 4x digital zoom (what's the catch? -aside from the fact that you definitely want optical, not digital zoom in a camera)

Times are tough for many people out there, and this is a list for those on a tight budget. With all of the elite, establishment hogwash during the 2008 elections, many from that group criticized Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee for being concerned about not just the wealthy, but "the people who serve the meals, and carry the bags."

Interesting to examine who the frontrunners are now for 2010.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There are new photos of the Peanut Butter Fudge and Pumpkin Spice cupcakes on my photos page at www.RobertDyer.net

Friday, November 27, 2009

GEORGE W. BUSH
TRIBUTE
LIGHTS UP
FRIENDSHIP
HEIGHTS

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

Take a drive/bus/stroll up Willard Avenue after dark, and you'll find a new artwork installed on the right side of the road near Wisconsin Avenue.

A towering series of neon letter "W"s lights up in sequence, and in multiple colors.

What a fabulous tribute to our great, former president, George W. Bush. Wouldn't have expected to find this in Friendship Heights...

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GLOBAL WARMING
HOAX ONE STEP
CLOSER TO BEING
REVEALED

You've been hearing about unethical behavior by scientists, academics, and lawmakers in recent days, in their powerful efforts to pull off the greatest hoax of our time: global warming "caused by human activity."

But consider some additional facts (not fiction): last month was the 3rd coldest October in world history since temperatures have been recorded. We're told the Earth is running out of water; last month we set the record for the most rainfall in Earth's history. Finally, do you remember Al Gore and so many others telling us that Katrina was just the beginning? That "global warming" was creating a new age of "killer storms" that would ravage the United States in incredible numbers each hurricane season?

No legitimate hurricane made landfall in the U.S. this year. And the past several years have witnessed the fewest hurricanes in recent history.

The debate is NOT over. But it has to be a fact-based debate, not a theory-based debate.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, and... bundle up, it's cold out there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

MORE
GEORGETOWN
CUPCAKE
BETHESDA ROW
GRAND OPENING
WEEK...

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

OK, first of all, RobertDyer.net thoroughly whipped the fading mainstream media by being the first to have video and photos from the Sunday grand opening of Georgetown Cupcake on Bethesda Row. There was no mention of it in Monday's Washington Post, and only today did I hear that WUSA had something about it, either online or with TV as well.

That was a full 24 hours later. So only you who visited RobertDyer.net got to see the exclusive coverage here Sunday afternoon. And there is more to come this week.

First of all, if you haven't seen it yet, there is the first of several exclusive videos from the grand opening on the Robert Dyer Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srRFnk6OKIU

Second, an update on my Peanut Butter Fudge cupcake review: I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but inside the cake part is a large amount of fudge sauce, which makes it sort of like those molten lava chocolate cakes. It definitely made the cupcake worth $2.75.

And now...

My review of the Pumpkin Spice cupcake

I guess I chose the 2 flavors I did for a reason; I love anything peanut butter or pumpkin flavor. And there is plenty of pumpkin flavor in this cupcake. It is very similar to pumpkin pie, and rich in that regard. In contrast to the Peanut Butter Fudge, the cake part had a more pronounced buttery flavor. The frosting - ample as always - is Maple flavor. I like maple also, so that is a bonus.

A second bonus is the appropriate maple leaf decoration on top of the frosting. I actually thought this was some kind of metal decoration on top (you can see a picture of the cupcakes on my photos page at www.RobertDyer.net). So I took it off before eating the cupcake. But the maple leaf began to melt in my fingers, and is really made of chocolate. I would like to know the secret of how they make a chocolate leaf look exactly like it is made of copper or bronze. That's why Georgetown Cupcake has become so popular, I guess, with all of the attention to small details like that.

Plenty of frosting, and plenty of rich maple flavor. The swirl of frosting is perfect, too. Just look at the photo.

Cupcakes are a symbol of freedom in this country and this county in particular, with cupcake bans and Big Government dining rules adding up every day. Make a bold statement, and eat plenty of cupcakes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

GEORGETOWN
CUPCAKE
GRAND OPENING

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

The big opening this weekend in downtown Bethesda wasn't New Moon; it was the new Bethesda Row location of Georgetown Cupcake. Are you on Team Key Lime, or Team Chocolate Mint?

Now we can finally find out what all the hype was about in Georgetown. Was it justified?

Countless Bethesda residents lined up Sunday to sample the famous Georgetown Cupcake cupcakes. By the scheduled opening hour, 12 noon, the line was almost down to Arlington Road.

And so was I. It wasn't the longest wait ever, but the patience of some in the line was tested. A bit further up the line was Bethesda's version of Jon & Kate + 4. And then you have that situation where people behind you in a line think that if they push the back of your coat, that the line will somehow move faster, or they will simply pass through the bodies in front of them to the head of the line.

A couple of girls from Georgetown Cupcake handed out pink, helium balloons to kids to break up the tedium of waiting. I did see a new Camaro go past, and a confused man dressed exactly like Inspector Gadget. Every so often, a couple of smart alecks would go past the line, snort, and say, "All this for a cupcake?"

There is a Redskins game, and a Ravens game on right now, and I'm in a line for cupcakes - they better be worth it.

Eventually, I got through the door. If you go to my website at www.RobertDyer.net, you can see the inside of the store in video (on the Robert Dyer Channel) or in photos on the photos page. I saw all of the different cupcakes behind a glass wall on the counter, and the menu listed today's flavors, along with different beverages. The balloon girls were inside now, standing beneath a painting of - what else - cupcakes on the wall. For the Grand Opening, they were giving away 1 free cupcake to each person. I asked for a Pumpkin Spice cupcake, and shelled out money for a Peanut Butter Fudge cupcake to go with it. The employees were very nice, and no sooner had I received my change when a box was handed to me. Two fresh cupcakes inside, and I could feel through the bottom of the box that they were warm.

So, what's the verdict? Well, they're really very good. I've eaten the Peanut Butter Fudge one so far (I think if you eat more than one of these in a day, you'll turn into John Candy). The cake (which is the "fudge" part) seems to be designed to contrast with the flavor of the frosting (peanut butter). So the frosting is sweet and buttery, and the cake is not quite as rich (as in butter and eggs) as you might expect. But the cake part is still moist and dense. If you have ever complained about getting too little frosting on your cupcake, Georgetown Cupcake is the place for you: the frosting is over an inch in height. And in this case, with lots of fresh peanut butter flavor.

The Pumpkin Spice cupcake has an upscale touch: a metallic maple leaf is laid on top of the frosting as decoration. You won't find that in a grocery store cupcake.

What a twin victory the "real America" has enjoyed this month at Bethesda Row. The opening of greasy burger and fries chain Five Guys on one side of the street, and now Georgetown Cupcake. Cupcakes are now a symbol of the struggle between citizens and Big Government. The humble, All-American cupcake once was the classroom birthday treat of choice. Now, cupcakes are illegal in most schools.

Yet, here is a shop opening in Bethesda of all places, that is a veritable shrine to the frosted dessert. I'm surprised County Councilman George Leventhal didn't stand in front of the doors to prevent citizens from entering. The cupcake is a tangible representation of your rights as an American, and now you can exercise them -bigtime - at Georgetown Cupcake.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

GEORGETOWN
CUPCAKE
GRAND OPENING
ON
BETHESDA ROW

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

Today is the grand opening of the new Georgetown Cupcake on Bethesda Row, and I've been there to bring back pictures and video for you!

You will find them shortly on the Robert Dyer Channel and photos page at www.RobertDyer.net, as well as a complete report here on the blog.

Meanwhile, you can still get over there by 6 PM today, and get a free cupcake! They were even offering your choice of flavors when I was there...

Friday, November 20, 2009

HOW "SMART"
GROWTH WILL
BOOST CRIME
IN
MONTGOMERY
COUNTY

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

One of the reasons older shopping centers, malls, and strip malls were designed the way they were, was for the safety of patrons. These facilities have surface parking lots, and parking is usually located between the street and the stores. As a result, crime against customers is reduced by the fact that any criminal activity is visible from both passing cars (including police cars), and from the employees, customers, and surveillance cameras of the businesses.

The new "smart" growth concept is that of concrete canyons towering above roads like 355, with paid customer parking in garages behind the buildings. Just think about what used to be on 355 at Rockville's town center... and now consider that a woman shopping there today must enter a dungeon-like garage. A garage that is often quite deserted, especially after the government buildings and courthouse have closed for the day. Is that safe? I daresay, no! And given the kind of criminals we have today, it's not safe for an unarmed man, either.

So while we'll continue to talk about the more obvious reasons why turning suburban and rural Montgomery County into an urban city is a horrifically terrible idea, let's not forget that the architects and developments of the past got a lot of things right.

Visit my photo page to see a blue ribbon award-winning "hand-dipped chocolate ball" at www.RobertDyer.net right now!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ELVIS
JOHN DEERE
UPDATE

Remember Elvis' John Deere tractor I wrote about earlier this year? It has been restored, and now the Elvis Shop is going to sell a replica with the following specs (courtesy of http://www.elvis.com/news/full_story.asp?id=1997):

- All new die-cast front 46A loader - Die-cast front and rear wheels - Movable 3-point hitch - Dash levers & PTO lever - Rear light - "Elvis Presley 4010 - 2009" collector insert - Elvis Presley signature imprint

Replica size is approximately 13" x 5.5" x 5.8".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

GEORGE
LEVENTHAL
IS GOING
TO
DISNEYLAND!

8 of 9 Montgomery County Councilmembers
Achieve their Primary Legislative Goal for
Term: Restaurant Menu Reform

Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At Large) and all of his colleagues -minus Mike Knapp (who's looking more and more like a credible primary threat to County Executive Ike Leggett each week) - have achieved their top legislative priority: restaurant menu reform.

The Council bill passed, and now all chain restaurants in the county will be forced to change their menus and signage to include "calorie counts" for each item.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's official: your County Council truly believes that we, the citizens, are idiots who cannot make intelligent decisions about the foods we eat. The arrogance is simply beyond belief. Remember, it's we who pay their salaries. But according to them, they are smarter than us, and we desperately need their explicit guidance in order to survive. They wish!

This comes at a time when restaurants have been hard hit by the recession. What does the council do to help them? Make it more costly to do business. A new cost that will be passed along to customers. And then there will be less customers, as prices go up. Add the Democratic scheme to raise liquor taxes next year, and you quickly realize that Montgomery County is a terrible place to do business.

Word is already hitting boardrooms and small businesses nationwide, in publications such as "Nation's Restaurant News," which quotes an industry spokesman as saying the council's action is "mind-boggling."

Mind boggling only if you don't know how these Big Government councilmembers think, and what their priorities are.

Remember, this legislation was "crafted," debated, and now passed, over two weeks in which the county's entire traffic computer system crashed (causing massive jams that reduced public safety) and in which the council failed to produce H1N1 vaccine for all residents.

Imagine, the county's roads in chaos, and public health and safety compromised, and Leventhal, Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich, Roger Berliner, Duchy Trachtenburg, Phil Andrews, Nancy Navarro, and Valerie Ervin's top priority was knowing how many calories are in a Big Mac.

This vote may have ended several political careers.

And remember, these "calorie counts" and anything else you'd want to know about these foods are available FREE on the websites of McDonald's and every other restaurant chain.

Where are the condemnations from the county's Democrat-controlled Chamber of Commerce? Haven't heard from them recently. I thought they fight for business interests? Well, then, whose interests do they serve? Hmm......

And just think, on a day in which the nation was told that 1 in 4 children is going hungry, our County Council voted to make food more expensive in Montgomery County. Again!

It's outrageous.

Expect to find a "reprint the council press release" article in the Post that doesn't question the superior intelligence of our councilmembers' infinite wisdom in controlling the smallest details of our lives.

But it would be smart, as the Post reporters are in full ideological solidarity with them - and fight hard every day for their reelection - to ask George Leventhal and his colleagues what they're going to do.

What they're going to do, now that, after 8 years in high-salaried, taxpayer-funded office, they have finally achieved their highest priority: restaurant menu reform?

I think they just might say,

"WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!!!"

"Or, maybe just another vacation in Ocean City at taxpayer expense."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Visit www.RobertDyer.net to watch a new video of a 4-H swine exhibition - and the return of that infamous black-and-white, mischievous hog - at the Damascus Community Fair. Only on the Robert Dyer Channel.

And new photos on my photos page, including an XBox controller cake (I'm not making this up).

Monday, November 16, 2009

"I'LL TAKE
NATIONAL
LAUGHINGSTOCKS
FOR $400,
ALEX."

"These 2 'solutions' will fail to reduce gridlock in Montgomery County."

"What are the County Council's 270 Reversible HOT Lanes Plan, and the Corridor Cities Transitway?"

"CORRECT!"

It was back in 2006, as a candidate for the state House, that I referred to our area's status as a "national laughingstock" in terms of our gridlocked commute. That's because people are literally laughing at us, the 2nd-worst commute in the entire nation. More gas wasted, more hours on the road, and, as we're hearing this week, no credible solutions on the horizon.

The plan to add 2 reversible HOT lanes proposed by the County Council won't solve the 270 traffic jam - the proof is in the plan's name: HOT is DOA.

We currently have one HOV lane, and it has no meaningful effect on traffic movement; it's just a politically-correct fad that makes a few people feel good about themselves during each rush hour.

But HOT lanes are worse: these are the fabled "Lexus Lanes" that our elected officials want, and that those extragovernmental entities such as COG and the "Board of Trade" and other non-elected bodies representing the Powers-that-Be are working overtime to install everywhere.

Users of these roads pay again and again for roads they have already paid for. While that's morally-wrong, and downright unAmerican, that's hardly the main issue. That's because the hardworking citizens like you and me who can't afford to use these lanes just won't use them. But the wealthy Powers-that-Be, who control COG, etc., need these HOT lanes so that they can cruise about town with ease, while allowing unlimited development.

Translation: with the full endorsement of the County Council and Planning Board, your commute is going to get worse. Development will be allowed to continue without regard to housing demand, school capacity, nor traffic volume.

I wouldn't want to toss out the reversible lane concept entirely; should 2 reversible, toll-free lanes be added between Shady Grove and Frederick, it could have a significant impact on 270 gridlock. Express buses could use those lanes as well. This is not just a Montgomery County problem; it requires a two-county solution, and our elected officials are in a COG fog.

They want to use your wallet to solve the problem.

I have another 270 concept, but we're going to wait until next year to talk about that, because somebody will steal my ideas.

Finally, the Corridor Cities Transitway - as bus or rail - won't make a difference in its current form. The CCT should certainly be rail if it is built; we've already witnessed the council slash away vital bus links that offered an alternative to driving, and scare off riders of surviving lines with huge fare increases. It also, like the widening of 270, needs to be a two-county solution. A CCT without huge, free or low-cost garages or extension to Urbana and Frederick would be a waste of the taxpayers' money. And a simple tool to allow more development that would further crowd schools and roads in the 270 corridor.

Who operates the CCT, anyway? Metro is in a shambles, and nearly broke. We need to reset the whole model of mass transit in the area, and not in the vein proposed by COG and other elites.

And the county council cannot be allowed to continue to put the cart before the horse. We have a structural deficit, and the nation's second worst gridlock. And eight years of failed leadership.

"I'll take a new County Council for 2010, Alex."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MDGOP
FALL CONVENTION
REPORT

A www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!

Yesterday, I went to the Fall 2009 Maryland Republican Party Convention to represent the Republican registered voters of Montgomery County. The convention was held at the Comfort Inn in Bowie. The facility seemed pretty nice, and it was obviously well-planned to be situated directly off of the exit ramp from Route 50. But I'm still wondering why, if you're having a convention in Prince George's County, it would not be at National Harbor? Because, frankly, there's nothing to do in that part of Bowie after the convention is over. I much preferred Hagerstown and Westminster. And, of course, Annapolis, where we have held thousands of conventions (or at least it seems that way). But seriously, there is plenty to do in those other towns, so I was shocked at the choice after a committee had been appointed to make conventions more diverting.

The morning started off with a Sausage, Egg, and Cheese biscuit and two cups of coffee from the McDonald's drive-thru. Now I was ready to drive to Bowie.

Next, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, his staff member (?), and I attempted to enter the rear door of the hotel. Which requires a key card, eventually supplied by a fellow Republican who actually stayed at the hotel and had a room card to get us through the door.

Surprises? A speech by Governor Bob Ehrlich was probably the high point. Then he was off to join his wife on their radio program. Congressman Bartlett also gave a good speech after that.

Then more and more speeches. A one-time only voting scheme that reduces Montgomery County's voting power passes, despite me voting against it.

Finally we elected a new chairperson, Audrey Scott (former mayor of Bowie). And then we adjourned.

So, when are we going to have a convention in Ocean City, like they used to before I was elected to the Central Committee? By the way, we actually have to pay our own way at these things, unlike the Montgomery County Council, who charge the taxpayer for a conference of counties in Ocean City... Good deal they've got there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

GREEN
GREEN
GREEN?

I have to believe that the Washington Post reporter who wrote the puff piece on Ike Leggett and the traffic computer doesn't live in Montgomery County.

This reporter wrote, from talking points given by county officials, that when the system is "working," traffic signals along roads in the county turn "green, green, green" in succession during rush hour.

Try not to laugh.

We all know that on any stretch of 355, Connecticut Avenue, Georgia Avenue, etc., during rush hour, virtually every light turns RED RED RED!!!

Note to Washington Post: please stop rewriting county press releases as news stories!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SALUTE TO VETERANS

An Exclusive www.RobertDyer.net Veteran's Day Special

...for those of us - like you, loyal readers - who never apologize for being American, and don't apologize for America to other countries around the world...

Watch a video featuring veterans from several wars, and a special salute, from this past July's Celebrate Damascus parade:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iPdxrewr10

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FULL "DISCLOSURE:"
WASHINGTON POST
PROMOTES
FORT TOTTEN
DEVELOPMENT TO
WHICH IT HAS
MULTIPLE
RELATIONSHIPS

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

Once again, the Washington Post has failed to disclose its relationships with an interest about which it has written.

Yesterday's Post editorial page offered wholehearted boosterism for a controversial redevelopment of what is currently an affordable apartment complex near Fort Totten.

Once again, there's just one problem: the Post did not disclose the many ties the paper and company have with the developer, the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.

For starters, the Cafritz Foundation and the Meyer Foundation are partners in their project to redevelop and "revitalize" DC neighborhoods. And the Meyer Foundation was started by Eugene Meyer... past editor and publisher of The Washington Post. No conflict of interest there, right?

Who else is helping to "develop communities" in DC with the Cafritz/Meyer foundations?

Bank of America - According to CNBC on August 14, 2007, Washington Post Co. Director Warren Buffett "bought a major stake [in] Bank of America."

Fannie Mae - According to Reuters, just 6 days ago, Post Co. Director Warren Buffett "has joined Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) in a bid to buy $3 billion in tax credits from mortgage giant Fannie Mae."

M&T Bank - According to the New York Times, this bank's "largest investor is billionaire Warren E. Buffett."

PNC Bank - Again from the NY Times, in 1994, Buffett bought "[a] stake of 8.3 percent, or almost 20 million shares," in PNC Bank.

Wachovia Bank - According to the Huffington Post(!!), "Buffett sounded upbeat about the prospects of Wells Fargo bank, of which Berkshire is the largest shareholder. He believes its cost of capital and investment spreads have never been better, and that the Wachovia acquisition is a great franchise that will pay off."



There's nothing illegal about having these kind of connections. But journalistic ethics demand that the paper disclose them when covering the story, especially when it's an editorial piece endorsing a controversial development project!

By the way, I also enjoyed the editorial because it took shots at those of us who don't believe Bethesda Row can be rebuilt everywhere, even in residential neighborhoods. And it touched on one of the new tactics used in these controversial situations - a group of residents who come forward to endorse a project, speaking directly from suspiciously-familiar talking points. Of course, the Post was suggesting that these people come forward on their own, rather than being orchestrated.

The Post won't ever cover that kind of thing, but you'll return here to read about that and everything that is really going on in Montgomery County, only on RobertDyer.net.

Monday, November 09, 2009

"WHERE'S
MY FLU
SHOT?"

Montgomery County residents want to know! Big Government at all levels has failed to provide the H1N1 vaccine it insisted on controlling. Officials at all 3 levels of government said they knew best who should receive the vaccine, and how it should be distributed, many months ago.

The Washington Post, area TV stations, and other local media have refused to hold our county, state, and federal elected officials accountable for the lack of vaccine. Recent stories, if you've noticed, include updates on who is being deputized to give the vaccine, but no information on when the actual vaccine will be available.

Not to a few hundred people, or to the Powers-that-Be, but to everyone at hospitals, doctors' offices, and pharmacies across the county.

When is that going to happen?

Call your county councilperson, state legislators, and congressperson, and ask them, "Where is my flu shot?"

An H1N1 shot that becomes available after everyone has H1N1 is a complete failure of government to execute the basic services we pay outrageously high taxes for.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Check out more (new) photos from the Damascus Community Fair on my photos page at www.RobertDyer.net.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

GANSLER DECLARES
COUNCIL'S
$80 MILLION
SCHOOL BUDGET
CUT ILLEGAL

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler correctly stated that the smoke and mirrors budget approved by the County Council illegally charged MCPS $80 million. As a result, our county now faces tens of millions of dollars in fines.

Can I recap the budget process this year (in fairness, Councilmember Nancy Navarro was not yet elected when it was negotiated and passed)? The council made a few trims. It took away COLAs from public safety employees and teachers. Then it got big bags of Federal funny money a.k.a. "stimulus funds." But that left an $80 million deficit. That's when the council taxed MCPS, taking $80 million of the school system's available funds.

Now our elected officials must be held accountable. An $80 million cut for public schools was an off-the-wall idea at a time when every dollar is needed. There are tremendous needs in special education, and funds make a huge difference in how many kids with special needs will be mainstreamed into "regular" classes. We still have a colossal achievement gap, and a graduation gap.

I believe we will be unable to close this gap until we close the gaps in technology, nutrition, and early education for lower-income students (and future students).

But we can't do that when funds are being diverted from schools to the special interests that got the councilmembers elected!

We can only hope there will be accountability, and that the state board of education will put children first, not politics. Doug Gansler did just that, and should be commended for his decision. Gansler had every reason in the world to favor his home county, and is taking a political risk by avoiding that temptation. Other politicians here and at the state level would do well to follow Gansler's example, and hold themselves accountable.

It's past time to simply "grow up" and accept the fact that we have not a simple shortfall, but a structural deficit that absolutely must be fixed. On present course, we have years ahead in which expenditures will exceed revenue. Now is the time to establish what our priorities are, and fix our stuctural deficit. Period.

We're not doing that by taking $80 million away from poor kids in our public schools.

Friday, November 06, 2009

MEDIA,
ELECTED OFFICIALS
SWEEP PUBLIC
SAFETY CONCERNS
UNDER THE RUG
IN
TRAFFIC LIGHT
CATASTROPHE
Reporters Trip Over Each Other to
Protect Elected Officials from Criticism

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

24 hours later, I have yet to hear one politician, anchorperson, or reporter note the serious implications Montgomery County's traffic computer failure has had on public safety.

While the resulting traffic jams are outrageous enough, time wasted is merely a minor issue in comparison to the danger to the public. Imagine you are having a heart attack, and you are in an ambulance stuck in mile after mile of traffic on the way to the hospital. Imagine a house on fire, and fire trucks crawling to get there as a result of this traffic light debacle.

This is just the latest in a series of incidents which has revealed our elected officials' dangerous weakness on public safety issues. Whether it is the inability of the county to operate emergency communication systems during a water main break, or to make a simple computer fix, the fabled "experience" the local media always praises in our elected officials is clearly, and definitively, the wrong kind of experience. As President Obama would say.

Then we've had the matter of the executive and certain members of the council repeatedly trying to undermine and cast shadows upon our police department. That is one of the most dangerous tactics I have ever witnessed in the history of Montgomery County. They've also shut down an education program that was designed to allow public safety employees to expand their minds and career skills. The same sort of educational and artistic pursuits the executive and council have advocated for others at taxpayer expense, they will deny to our police officers and firefighters. They've even tried to take away retirement benefits from disabled police officers injured in the line of duty. There appears to be no limit to how low this council will go to get more money for the people and interests who got them elected. Even when it means reducing public safety.

Ike Leggett stated last evening that he [now after all this] has a $35 million plan to upgrade the traffic computer systems. Well, not only do we have no money at this time... ...but the county just spent many times $35 million to buy the Webb Tract!

So let's get this straight... we spent tens of millions to purchase the Webb Tract so the elected officials could pay back the interests that got them elected before replacing an ancient computer system that controls every traffic light in the county?

Once again, it's Politics First, Safety Last for our politicians.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"IKE?"
"YES, HAL?"

County in Chaos as Traffic Computer Fails;
Elected Officials Focus on Restaurant
Menus as Residents Spend Hours Commuting

"Ike, I've been wondering..."
"Yes, Hal?"
"With the county council spending hours on restaurant menu reform this week, how was my system allowed to fail?"
"Well, Hal, you're just not that important. Telling people how to cross the street, and what foods they should eat... now that's important! That's what government is all about!"

Could this conversation be real? If you spent all of yesterday trying to get to and from work, you might think it did occur.

For those of you just joining us, Montgomery County's traffic computer has failed, and all stoplights are incorrectly timed for rush hour. This has resulted in massive traffic jams countywide.

As our elected officials told us, this is the most efficient and effective government we've ever had. And that's why a simple computer fix - for a computer that should have been replaced ages ago - is taking not hours, but days.

What a conclusion to a week in which 8 of 9 council members announced a new way to make contracting more expensive for taxpayers, failed to provide the promised H1N1 vaccine, held hours of hearings on "restaurant menu reform," and in which it came to light that $400,000+ cut from the police academy recruiting budget was given instead to a council-connected non-profit currently under investigation by the FBI for being unable to account for $900,000 it received in taxpayer funds.

Wanna get away?

"Ike?"
"Yes, Hal?"
"I've been thinking... With all you and the other politicians have said about getting people to abandon their cars, and use mass transit... Will I, as a traffic computer, eventually become obsolete?"
"No, Hal, of course not."

How about this for "leadership." Confronted with a traffic crisis that has a dreadful impact on public safety, whether the media will admit it or not, our "leaders" have generously offered to let you take RideOn for free today.

Just one problem: the RideOn buses will be on the same jammed roads as the cars. Brilliant.

When will the problem be fixed? "(shrugs)... I don't know."

Sound familiar?

Meanwhile in the county council hearing room....

The council is comparing calories between the Whopper and Big Mac. We're fortunate to have their leadership, focused like a laser beam on the crisis at hand.

"Ike?"
"Yes, Hal?"
"May I eat a Whopper?"
"No! It's terrible for your health. You'll clog your circuits! I recommend arugula."

Can you imagine how our national reputation will be further damaged once this story hits the AP? What will all of the big firms we are trying to get to relocate here going to think? Move to a county that can't even control its traffic lights?

This turn of events is simply beyond belief. Once again, the most basic functions of government have been neglected - public safety, public health, fiscal responsibility, the transportation system - for social issues, and old-fashioned tomfoolery.

The traffic lights don't work. But, hey, with this "menu reform," residents unable to make intelligent decisions about food for themselves may consume 100 less calories per day when Big Government tells them what they can and cannot eat!

Had enough? Apparently not in 2006. So how about 2010?

While you're thinking about it... read this press release for an event so ironic, you'd think it was scripted:

"The Great Commuter Stress Out" - Telework Exchange and HP invite you to beat the heck out of your commute at "The Great Commuter Stress Out" event on Tuesday, November 10, 2009. Join us during your lunch break from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza, located at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.
Take a whack at car-shaped piƱatas filled with prizes. Enter to win desktop punching bags, receive free massages, enjoy food and drinks, and listen to relaxing music. Plus, you'll learn how to beat your commute and telework. It's free to all. For more information go to:
http://www.teleworkexchange.com/greatcommuterstressout.asp?utm_source=AdaptiveMailer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Telework%20Exchange%20Weekly%20Blasts&org=2022&lvl=100&ite=525&lea=608526&ctr=0&par=1
I'm not making this up.
"Ike?"
"Yes, Hal?"
"Did they say 'telework'?"

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Exclusive photos of John Deere tractors and lawn tractors from the Gladhill Bros.' display at the Damascus Community Fair. Only on the photos page at www.RobertDyer.net!

Gladhill Bros. sells and repairs John Deere vehicles of all kinds at its 2 locations in Damascus and Frederick.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

THE
(FAR) LEFT
HAND DOESN'T
KNOW...

Well, it was just yesterday that I mentioned how the county council's secretive deliberations are so hard to keep track of. And later in the day, I found another great example.

Remember the Centro Familia scandal? You know, the one where a non-profit that has close connections to several County Council members, Chris Van Hollen, Del. Anne Kaiser, etc., couldn't account for $900,000 in your taxpayer money. Which it had received under the "oversight" of said County Council. And the latest thing hanging in the air was that Centro Familia was requesting another $400,000+ in taxpayer funds this past summer.

But, as usual, the public never heard the final decision.

Then, George Leventhal, Duchy Trachtenburg, and the county HHS announced new guidelines for nonprofits, which they emphasized were merely to help agencies comply.

Turns out they're going to need a lot of help: Centro Familia is now under investigation by the FBI.

That's not the worst part, however.

The worst part is that, with the tacit approval of the County Council, HHS went ahead and gave the next batch of Montgomery County Spendable Kash ($400,000+) to Centro Familia.

But we only know this because the Washington Post mentioned it offhand, months after it happened.

Centro Familia has not been found guilty of anything by any court of law yet. But for the council to give that massive sum to an organization it knows is under investigation by not only the Inspector General, but also the FBI(!!) is simply outrageous. It is one of the most fiscally irresponsible expenditures I have ever witnessed in the history of the county. What more do you need to know about the members of this council after they have allowed this to happen?

It's 6 AM. Do you know where your tax dollars are?

Monday, November 02, 2009

ANDREWS'
REVERSIBLE
270 LANES:
BRILLIANT, OR
GOING THE
WRONG WAY?

It's often hard to find out what is going on in our county government. This is partly because the Powers-that-Be don't want you to know what's going on. (That's why you tend to hear about things after the public hearings are over, and the council has voted). And it is partly because the Washington Post has essentially ceased to cover county politics, with the exception of recapping a press release.

One item of business we've heard a little about is Council President Phil Andrews' proposal for reversible lanes for I-270. As you would imagine, these lanes would be southbound in the morning, and northbound in the evening.

But not much has been clarified beyond that in the media.

If this proposal is to add 2 reversible lanes either in the middle of, or to the sides of, the existing lanes, this would be an excellent idea. But only if they are completely toll-free, and open to all vehicles.

However, if these are "HOT" lanes, for which taxpayers will pay again for the roads they funded, that would be unacceptable. Converting 2 existing lanes into reversible lanes would be equally unacceptable. This would not only be insufficient volume-wise - and potentially dangerous like the Bay Bridge - but it would also make the fairly quick use of 270 southbound in the evening into another traffic jam. Which is total hypocrisy from those who talk non-stop about "alternative working schedules" and telecommuting. (When lawyers can telecommute into the courtroom, and janitors can wax floors over the internet, that just might work. Until that day... probably not).

270 has to increase capacity. There is no way around it. Toll lanes are for the rich, a solution to the intentional fouling of our transportation system by the Powers-that-Be for a variety of motivations. HOT lanes will keep the rich moving, so they can keep funding the politicians that carry out their business. Isn't that grand?

Join me in not letting this happen.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New photos from Bethesda Row and the Damascus Community Fair on the photos page at www.RobertDyer.net
H1Nnone:
VACCINE DEBACLE
PUTS PUBLIC
HEALTH AT
RISK

Remember when Big Government was going to "take charge" and control the production and distribution of the H1N1 vaccine? The Powers-that-Be have gotten it. But you, lowly citizen? Maybe after you've gotten the swine flu, they'll have the vaccine for you.

What's happened here is a failure at the Federal, state, and county level. All 3 are controlled by Democrats, by the way. Government knew best, they said, who should receive this vaccine. But even some of the at-risk group members are being turned away at county vaccination clinics.

Have you ever waited in a line this long that didn't have concert tickets, an autograph, or a driver's license at the end for you?

What have we learned? Our county continually shows it is simply not prepared to deal with disasters or emergencies. Even one that is a slow moving event such as H1N1. Our state and Federal governments failed to produce and distribute the vaccine they insisted they should have total control over.

If there had been a terrorist-induced smallpox outbreak or anthrax attack, you can easily recognize that our county would have been absolutely devastated.

Now that your, and your family's, health has been put at risk by your elected officials, what decisions will you make at the ballot box next year?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Exclusive!

COUNTY WASTES
TAXPAYER
FUNDS ON
PAST-DUE
LIBRARY AD

Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!

A Montgomery County Public Libraries ad celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month promoted free concerts from September 26-October 24.

Just one problem: the ad ran in the October 28 Gazette newspaper.

That means the ad is irrelevant, and therefore was a complete waste of the taxpayer money spent to place the ad in the newspaper. It has been some time, in my recollection, since such an out-of-date ad has appeared in a publication. The reason, I imagine, is that no one would pay the exhorbitant rates to place an ad that is of no use. Well, almost no one.

By the way, we're now a full month past the Board of Elections meeting at which the Democratic majority voted to deny early voting sites to Damascus and Poolesville - and to approve an early voting site in Rockville without adequate access for the disabled - and the Washington Post has yet to write a single word about it! The biggest political story of the year, and the Post has - intentionally and deliberately - ignored it.

It's outrageous. But that's why the Post is failing, and you are turning to RobertDyer.net to find out what's really going on in Montgomery County.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New pictures on my photo page, including Barnes & Noble at Bethesda Row and a Damascus VFD ambulance. Go to www.RobertDyer.net