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.