Monday, November 30, 2009

Tight Budget Edition

Another 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 (

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

Friday, November 27, 2009


Another 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


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


Another Exclusive!!!

OK, first of all, 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 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:

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 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


Another 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, 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


Another 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, 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


Another 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 right now!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


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

- 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


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,


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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Visit 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

FOR $400,

"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?"


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


A 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


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


An Exclusive 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:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Another 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

Monday, November 09, 2009


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

Saturday, November 07, 2009


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

Reporters Trip Over Each Other to
Protect Elected Officials from Criticism

Another 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


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?

"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.

"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:
I'm not making this up.
"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!

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

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


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

270 LANES:

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.