Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Wealthy County's Increase Among Highest in MD

Here we go again. When it comes to domestic violence, Montgomery County's elected officials enjoy hearing the sounds of their own voices.

No one should enjoy the statistics that were released this week, that showed the rate of child abuse and neglect skyrocketing by nearly 30% in Montgomery County. Remember, we are the richest county in Maryland. And under the supposedly politically-correct leadership of an all-Democrat county council and executive.

Yet Anne Arundel County - under the leadership of Republican executive John Leopold - had a decrease in its abuse rate. A rare exception among counties, and Mr. Leopold is to be applauded.

I want to take this opportunity again to point out that domestic violence needs to be a Republican issue. This year, I launched an initiative to turn words into action on domestic violence in Montgomery County.

By September, when reports of this popped up in The Gazette, our all-talk Democrat officials were scrambling to respond. Within two weeks of a cable-televised speech I gave on behalf of the Heartly House shelter ( in Frederick, Duchy Trachtenberg was calling a press conference.

After two years of inaction, Councilmember Trachtenberg announced that she was beginning efforts toward the creation of a "one-stop shop for domestic violence victims" in Rockville. I'm not sure if this is even the best use of scant resources for this cause. No one I have discussed ideas with on how to reduce domestic violence has even suggested such a thing. It not only sounds like another expensive bureaucracy, but is reactive, rather than proactive.

There are some county and state legal reforms that would make a difference before a woman or child becomes a victim. Isn't that the real goal here? We don't just want to help victims, but to reduce this terror for once and for all.

Our state's archaic, unconstitutional firearm laws also prevent women from taking a proactive role in defending themselves from domestic and other criminal aggressors. That needs to change as well.

I've also suggested that we pass a county or state law that would mandate 3-5 days of paid leave for victims of domestic violence.

We also have two existing shelters, the Krahnke Center and Heartly House, which need funding more than ever in these tight financial times. They are directly helping victims already, and are more effective than another Big Government bureaucracy.

However, at least the wheels are turning again. It took some action - Republican action - to get people to focus on this issue again. And it's hard to believe that people weren't acting already, given that this year alone has witnessed some of the most horrific domestic violence fatalities in Montgomery and Maryland history.

But this year was just the beginning. I want to do more in 2009, and I'm going to need more people to join in this crusade against domestic violence and the other problems in our county. We can make a difference, and we will.

Despite the all the bad news in 2008, you have to be optimistic. Our county is ripe for change. The failures in leadership are taking us deep into the dark night. But every night comes to an end, and in November 2010, the dawn will be upon us.

To all readers, have a safe New Year's Eve, and a very happy new year. May God bless each and every one of you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It is well past time for Democrat House Majority Leader Kumar Barve (District 17) to step down. Certainly from his leadership position, and preferably from his seat in the House of Delegates. Mr. Barve is assembling a rap sheet that is inconsistent with any standard that should be applied to elected officials.

Mr. Barve's latest escapade was reported by The Washington Post, but hidden in a tiny box in the back pages, on a holiday. Clever work by the Post to try to hide it.

The truth is that Mr. Barve has dodged taxes by claiming two homes simultaneously as his primary residence. Here's the best part: Barve apparently passed a law through the House targeting scofflaws who try this very scheme!

A psychologist might have a field day with Mr. Barve's new habit of breaking laws that he wrote himself. (The first was his conviction - and slap on the wrist - for DUI last year. Barve had written drunk driving laws as a legislator which passed in the House).

But as for the citizens, we've had quite enough. It is time for Mr. Barve to step down, especially since he has yet to explain his behavior in a candid and detailed manner.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


A new USA Today poll found that Sarah Palin is the second most-admired woman in the world. Gov. Palin ranked far ahead of Michelle Obama (who had only 3% to Palin's 11%).

Real people have spoken, and the results are nothing like what the media hype would have you believe.

Friday, December 26, 2008



Montgomery County's Failed Leadership
Pointing Fingers in All the Wrong Directions to
Protect Itself and Monopoly WSSC from
Criticism on 2nd Water Disaster this Year;
County's Reverse 911,
WSSC Alert Systems
Fail Again

If you believe The Washington Post, County Executive Ike Leggett, Governor Martin O'Malley, and the all-Democrat County Council, the River Road water main catastrophe was not the fault of the WSSC. Instead, they are blaming a defunct pipe supplier and you, the taxpayer(!!).

It's outrageous.

Leggett and other officials say that you weren't willing to pay the massive yearly fee proposed by the WSSC in concert with their Democrat buddies in Rockville. And that prevented the monopoly utility from maintaining its system.

Not true. As readers of this blog know, the WSSC was given sufficient funds over the years to maintain and repair our water system, but chose to spend those funds on other things.

Let's get this straight. There is no accountability to the taxpayer, yet the taxpayer is being asked to give gigantic new sums to our monopoly water company.

It's outrageous.

What's worse is that Mr. Leggett and the all-Democrat county council have not held the WSSC accountable either. In fact, they voted for the massive fees until they were stopped by their counterparts in Prince George's County. There, County Executive Jack Johnson went on the record as agreeing that WSSC was given sufficient funds, but spent them on other things.

Mr. Leggett failed to show the same leadership as Mr. Johnson. The WSSC should not be rewarded with new money from either Montgomery residents nor the American taxpayer through new Federal awards for "infrastructure." Incompetence and mismanagement are not to be rewarded. Instead, the public needs to know where all the money went. Why has the WSSC failed to maintain its system. Where is the accountability? The people who were in charge need to be held accountable for their mismanagement. Not the customer.

Most importantly, where is the competition in utilities that will raise quality and lower prices?

You'll have to elect new leadership to make that happen.

Until then, Montgomery's leaders will continue to put politics first, safety last.

Once again, there was no reverse 911 to inform the public of the catastrophe. No reverse 911 to inform the public of possible drinking water contamination. And the WSSC alert system did not send any email messages out - none at all!! (I know because I signed up for the alerts months ago.)

This was an instant replay of the June disaster all over again. And with all of that experience, the executive and council chose to handle it exactly the same way.

Then O'Malley and Leggett do a photo op on River Road, attempting to take credit for the valiant rescues by firefighters and the State Police helicopter.

Here's one other detail - exclusive to and not mentioned on TV or in the papers - that State Police chopper had to come from Andrews Air Force base. That's because, currently, our executive and council (in concert with the governor) have sat idly by while Montgomery's own helicopter was removed from its base within the county!!!

It's outrageous.

Once again, our county government puts politics first, safety last.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Here is the top item on Royce Hanson's Christmas list:

A Nintendo DS game called "Build A Lot." You can play this game and be Dr. Yes or a developer! You can social engineer! You, too, can abuse your powers of eminent domain!

A quote from the game description:

"Become a real estate mogul and take over the housing market as you construct, upgrade and sell houses for huge profits. You can flip houses for quick cash or sit back and watch the rental income pile up. Travel to scenic towns and perform special tasks for the local mayors (hint, hint), or toss out the blueprints (or even the current residents!) and create your own dream neighborhood in Casual mode. There's plenty to do and lots of fun ahead in Build-a-lot!"

Sounds just like real life in Montgomery County!

The perfect gift for the mixed use developer or elected official on your holiday shopping list!!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Continuing our special holiday week on, I thought we should check in with my favorite governors around the country to see what they are doing for the holidays.


I'm kind of surprised that our top governor doesn't have any Christmas-related news on her website. She does have this Dec. 25 proclamation:

Iditarod Gold Discovery Day


Governor Schwarzenegger lighting the state Christmas tree:

"Now, let me just talk to you a little bit about the Christmas tree, because this is a spectacular Christmas tree and I'm almost sure this is the biggest Christmas tree in the United States. This is 50 feet tall and it has 9,500 low-wattage lights up there. So this tree is not only green by color, but it's also getting powered green, which is very important to all of us. And it has 3,000 ornaments. That's more ornaments than we've ever had before. And the great thing here is that half of those ornaments were made by Californians with developmental disabilities, so let's give them a big hand for doing such a great job with that also. (Applause)"

Still putting the people before politics, Gov. Schwarzenegger is putting pressure on the legislature to act on the state's financial crisis. Here is a clock the Governor put on his website (we could use one of these here in Montgomery County).

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Let's take a break from all of the economic catastrophes, political scandals, Montgomery County corruption and pollution, etc. for the holidays.

Here are some inspiring examples of the disabled having a chance to participate in activities alongside their able-bodied peers. You may remember the long controversy over a local disabled high school athlete who wanted to compete in track events. Endless attempts at legal intervention ensued, all with the goal of preventing her from competing - or even racing without the results counting! It was outrageous.

Follow this link, and find out what happens when closed minds and bigotry don't get in the way. You should reach a Yahoo! menu, and on the right side - among other stories - you will see headlines about disabled students participating in "The Nutcracker" ballet, and playing football.

This is really what the goal is: mainstreaming disabled and special needs children, instead of isolating them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Floreen, Knapp, and Greedy Developers Agree:
Montgomery County is Urban, not Suburban(???)

Dr. Yes has made a breakthrough! Now that the future plans of Dr. Yes (a.k.a. Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson) are becoming known (such as a plan to build Bethesda Row from the Naval Hospital to Clarksburg along 355), he's making no bones about it. He wants to declare Montgomery County to be one large city, and replace a suburban development concept with an urban one.

Is Montgomery County an urban city? Not quite. Downtown Bethesda (and only the downtown) is urban, and should be developed that way. Downtown Silver Spring... it is now an urban area. Friendship Heights? Too small to be a city, but definitely urban in character. Rockville? Not unless Disneyland counts as "urban." (I'm referring to the only "urban" part of Rockville, the new "Town Center," so aptly described recently by a citizen as a "food court with gift shops.") Rockville Pike is not urban. It is a suburban commercial strip such as you would find anywhere from Westminster to 301 in Southern Maryland to Towson. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. "It is what it is," as the business majors say.

The rest of the county - a majority - is suburban, exurban, or rural in nature. But there won't be much nature left if Dr. Yes has his way.

He wants to increase density, pave over green space, and turn old shopping centers such as those on Westbard into gargantuan, mixed use debacles. As usual, the mass transit fantasy will be used (don't forget Dr. Yes approved minimal surface parking for Clarksburg Town Center, which is about as far from Metro as the moon!!) to justify a simple cash scheme: Planning Board and County Council rubber stamps for developer greed. Somebody get the Illinois governor on the phone...

The Gazette states that councilmember Nancy Floreen (D - At Large) "agrees with much of what Hanson is advocating." "I think the vast majority of residents bought into a suburban lifestyle," she said. News update: this is the suburbs!

Dr. Yes plans on a risky financial scheme that could further threaten the county's financial stability - even as our Democrat leaders have run the budget into the ground already.

But who will really pay the bills for Dr. Yes' freakish concept? YOU! Check the fine print: "special taxing districts" will be created, so that citizens can pay even more taxes.

Mike Knapp says greater density equals less traffic. There's a bridge for sale in Brooklyn, ladies and gentlemen.

"Royce sees the future as now," says Knapp.

What a scary future it is. Sort of like Back to the Future II, with the homeless guys warming their hands over barrels. Concrete canyons, high crime, and toxic waste. Cramped apartments over Metro stops (do you know how much exhaust and carcinogens are in the air around those bus stations, anyway), low wages, and lots of welfare and big government programs.

Residents must stand up and say "NO" to Dr. Yes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


You've played by the rules... and lost again! If you didn't McMansionize your home already, the County Council has just reduced your property value. New restrictions mean that your property cannot be built/mansionized to the size and degree that McMansion pioneers were allowed to build.

Hard to believe, but Mike Knapp was actually right on an issue for once. Knapp was the only councilmember to vote against this too little, too late legislation. It's not that I'm in favor of the abuses committed by McMansionizers over the last few years. Nor do I enjoy the tremendous noise, dust, stench, and filth generated by these projects - some even after business hours or on weekends. But property rights are an issue, as long as one was within the current guidelines.

The problem is, the legislation is not retroactive. So all this means is that homeowners who cheated will prosper. And now other homeowners have a different, stricter standard. That is an affront to private property rights. Shouldn't the rest of us be allowed to be McMansionizers, too?

The law should apply to everyone, or to no one - isn't there something about that in the Constitution?


Driving on Little Falls Parkway yesterday, I saw an electronic sign warning people not to drink and drive. It went on to say "Zero Tolerance. Go to Jail."

That's the way it should be. Just one question. Why didn't Democrats Del. Kumar Barve and O'Malley Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster go to jail when they were busted for DUI last year. .001% tolerance perhaps, but clearly not Zero Tolerance. Why are some people above the law and others not?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


USA Today Investigation Reveals High
Levels of Pollution and Carcinogens at All Schools
Near Westbard Industrial Zone; Raises New
Questions about WWI Munitions Recovery Operations

A Exclusive!!

My discovery last year of brownfields in the Westbard industrial zone, and concerns about pollutants there, have been vindicated by a new USA Today report.

This week, USA Today is publishing a series (also online at on air pollution near schools. Strangely, all of the schools in the vicinity of the Westbard zone rated highly for pollutants.

(Westland MS, Westbrook ES, Washington Waldorf School, Washington Episcopal School, Little Flower School, Abingdon Montessori School, Holden Montessori Day School, Wood Acres ES).

They are the only "grey"-colored schools on the list in Bethesda!

Is this just a coincidence?

I believe this again shows the need for comprehensive environmental testing of the entire industrial zone. The USA Today report details a variety of chemicals present. In the print edition only, it names benzene as a carcinogen present at Westbrook ES. This is found in cleaning chemicals, and other cleaning chemicals were present at the former chemical lab site brownfield. Importantly, there is an American Chemical Co. building (which has not even been investigated yet) and numerous other potentially-polluting businesses in the zone. Hydrochloric acid is found in oil-related industry, and the MTBE brownfield was a former fuel transfer station. Not to mention the many auto-related businesses in there. (Manganese = car batteries?)

So where are these chemicals coming from?:

1. The Westbard industrial zone is a likely source, but no one other than myself is currently onto this possibility.

2. The USA Today report fingers only one local source, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers site at Dalecarlia. This raises new questions. Against nearby residents' wishes, a towering pile of dredged sediment is being compiled near Sibley Hospital. But there is more going on there than the Corps is telling us, and I suspect the buried munitions are more widespread than thought.

3. The levels of chlorine and sulfuric acid found by USA Today are consistent with World War I gas munitions.

4. Of course, we are within range of the Alexandria and Dickerson power plants. Hence the carbonyl sulfide.

In summary, I believe residents have a right to know what we are being exposed to from the Westbard zone, and the Dalecarlia operations.

Unfortunately, the USA Today reporters were unaware of the information I discovered about the industrial zone, or the full nature of the Dalecarlia operations.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I realize that I am often critical of developers on this website and in speeches I have given. Sometimes I hear from developers who disagree with my opinions. Some have asked if there are any development projects I like.

In fact, there are some projects I believe are outstanding. They include:

The Chevy Chase Bank and Newlands buildings in downtown Bethesda. B.F. Saul's former is pure Gotham; the latter is Art Deco meets Bethesda. I love how you can see the CCBB over here in west Bethesda, when the leaves are off the trees in winter. Both are big, tall, and glass (not brick) unlike so many unimaginative brick low-rises in downtown Bethesda. Also the Bethesda Metro Center.

As outlandishly rich as the Collection at Chevy Chase is in these tough economic times, as a project it is a phenomenal success. Notice that, to my knowledge, it has no vacant condo/mixed use features. It is just an upscale shopping and dining center. (There ought to be free parking, though).

Little Falls Mall (a.k.a. the shops at Sangamore Place) is the definitive blueprint for how you redo a strip mall the right way. It should not only be used as a model for the redevelopment of the Westwood Shopping Center, but for all of the strip malls targeted by developers along Rockville Pike. If W.C.&A.N. Miller's Sangamore Place is not award-winning, it ought to be. I almost can't believe it was rebuilt in such outstanding fashion in this time of mixed-use development excess. It is an understated triumph. (Free surface parking).

There are a lot of terrible projects in the works for Rockville Pike and downtown Bethesda. But I like what I've heard about the plans for Chevy Chase Lakes shopping center by the Chevy Chase Land Co. (who also did the Collection). And there was a fantastic plan being floated a few months ago for Langley Park. It was going to incorporate Spanish colonial architecture (which I love) and Latin American colonial plaza designs into a world-class redevelopment of the area.

So don't think that all developers and development are bad; just call it like it is, and when a dumb growth project is approved by Dr. Yes, I won't hesitate to hold our officials accountable on this website. And I will have positive comments when developers do the right thing. You just read them above.

Democrat Kumar Barve Received
Slap on the Wrist in DUI Conviction;
Republican Fossella Headed to Slammer for
Same Offense

Let me start off by saying that both House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and Rep. Vito Fossella (R) should have received a tough penalty for drunken driving. Mr. Fossella (to an extent even beyond Mr. Barve) further disgraced himself as a public official in the most reprehensible manner.

The problem is, only the Republican got the sentence of 5 days in jail (still weak for such reckless behavior). Why did Barve and fellow Maryland Democrat T. Eloise Foster avoid even a similar sentence for their drunken escapades on Maryland's highways?

Is it because Democrat elected officials are above the law?

Prosecutor David Lord said that "Fossella's case was handled 'in the same fashion as all DWI cases,'" according to the Associated Press.

Not in the same fashion as Barve and Foster's.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Martin O'Malley is!

When the Washington Post wasn't singing the praises of Ike Leggett and the county council today (who have a $650 million deficit looming in 2010) as "fiscal" heroes(!!! pretty strong stuff in that coffee at the Post, apparently)....... was playing ventriloquist dummy for the latest hogwash Martin O'Malley press release out of Annapolis.

Yes, the Post/Gazette Democrat Protection Program has its O'Malley reelection campaign fully underway. And away we go!

There was no critical analysis whatsoever by John Wagner of O'Malley's expensive land preservation program. There is merit to the initiative, but surely there are negative aspects to any expenditure during a budget crisis of this size. This comes only days after puff pieces on topics such as a website for "tough times." I guess that's where Baltimore residents are supposed to get daily instructions after O'Malley left the city in ruins.

This is not journalism, it is an illegal in-kind contribution!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


"I'm the first to say we can't afford
generous agreements offered in
better times."

- George Leventhal (D-At Large)

The current budget crisis in Montgomery County is outrageous enough. But what are we to make of the bizarre negotiations over contracts agreed to by Ike Leggett and the all-Democrat County Council with the unions of county employees?

What is the point of a negotiated deal or a contract, if one side does not live up to the agreement? This is exactly what has happened. Mr. Leggett and his Democrat allies on the council made these deals for political gain. In return, they had the full political support of the unions.

Now that they have mismanaged the county budget, Leggett & Co. want out of the contract. The amazing part is, the unions apparently are going to let them.

Are these the same union leaders and employees who battled and heckled their way through tense negotiations and hearings earlier this year?

Why no more Mr. Nasty Guy? Well, it appears that once again it is politics first, safety last in Montgomery County.

The unions and their members wanted 8% increases. They got them for political reasons. But now, they are willing to give them up for political reasons. They recognize that if the county goes bankrupt, their Democrat buddies will be pushed to the curb by voters in 2010. So now they will forsake the 8% to save the Democrats.

There are a number of problems here besides politics first, safety last.

1. There is something morally bankrupt about taking away increases from firefighters and police officers. These were agreed to, and the county must live up to its end of the bargain. Our public safety employees take on life-threatening tasks, and therefore more financial risk.

2. If the union leaders are willing to give away their members' money, what is their reason? If not politics, then what?

3. How can the county be trusted at all in future negotiations? It seems they can agree to anything and go back on it later if they need to politically. Is that satisfactory to union employees?

4. Now that the Democrats have broken the agreement, will the unions support Democrats in 2010? If so, why?

Here's the bottom line. The county executive and council taxed and spent their way into a $450-$650 million dollar shortfall. This was caused partly by agreeing to large union contracts, for political reasons, when it was assumed that the taxpayer's dime would cover the cost.

That is the most basic failure of our elected officials. It is fiscally irresponsible to agree to contracts without considering at all that revenues could fall in the future. A fiscal conservative would not assume that today's revenue would be tomorrow's; it is as simple as that. Leggett and the council made that assumption, and now they must pay the price for that in 2010.

Secondly, even if the Democrats succeed in breaking the union contracts, they will save only $125 million. Out of up to $650 million needed to balance the budget. Given that the only other big item put forward - and rejected by the council - was a $19 million dollar MCPS budget cut, it is mathematically impossible for the county to balance this budget. Or at least, to balance it and still get reelected in 2010.

What are they going to do? Seriously.

Finally, how about that quote from At-Large Democrat George Leventhal?

What is a "generous" agreement? Does that mean "paying out more than necessary," or "more than we can afford if the economy changes for the worse?" Was there a political motive for being so "generous?" I dare say, yes there was!

What does Leventhal mean by "offered?" I thought the unions asked for the increase. Was the 8% number brought to the table by Mr. Leventhal and not the unions? That would add another twist.

And the most important phrase is "in better times." That relates to what I said earlier - that a true leader, a safe money manager, and a fiscal conservative would give our public safety employees increases they deserve - and direct funds wasted elsewhere to police and fire budgets. But such a leader would never, ever, agree to increases that could not be delivered when times change. And Democrats, awash in your taxpayer funds, agreed to such irresponsible increases.

"I'm the first to say..." Leventhal said. So why wasn't he the first to vote against reckless fiscal decisions when they were made by the body on which Leventhal sits?

The chickens have come home to roost. Will UCFW Local 1994 MCGEO, and the police and fire unions let Leggett, Leventhal, et al, get away with breaking a legal agreement?

Stay tuned.

However this chapter ends, you get to write the ending in November 2010.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Attend this Montgomery County planning meeting, but line up early, as hot items are being given away:

"Montgomery County planners seek to learn what you value most about your community -- be it clean air and water or walking in vibrant downtowns. Tell us what you think at one of our community meetings on what should be part of the next county Growth Policy. First 50 in the door will receive a free nylon backpack."

Hurry! Dr. Yes is giving away free! nylon!! backpacks!!!

Wait a minute? How can they afford to give away anything at this point? They've run out of money months ago.


County government says:

"Be Aware: Deer Management Operations Began October 24

The Department of Parks has listed park closures on various days from sunrise until sunset for seasonal deer management beginning Friday, October 24 at Hoyles Mill Conservation Park."

"Deer Management Operations?"

Translation: Many of these beautiful animals will be unnecessarily killed, for the sake of out-of-control development that has snapped up forests and farmland. For shame, for shame.