Monday, August 31, 2020

Nine Districts for MoCo is on the ballot - and so is a poison pill from the Montgomery County Council

“The government closest to 
the people serves 
the people best” 
- Thomas Jefferson

The citizen group Nine Districts for MoCo's petitions have been approved by the Montgomery County Board of Elections, meaning that voters will have the chance in the November election to vote to change the structure of the Council from 5 district and 4 at-large seats to 9 district seats. Two key reasons the proposed question received strong support from residents were the oversized, gerrymandered districts that sprawl across the County, and that a majority of the Council all live in the same vicinity of Takoma Park, leaving upcounty voters in particular with less representation on the Council. Fearing the ballot question would be approved, the Montgomery County Council ginned up its own ballot question on the Council structure in the dark of night, to serve as a poison pill if voters approve the Nine Districts Question D.

The Council's Question C proposes to keep the Council as it is, but add an additional two district seats, at great additional annual cost for staff and operations. On its face, it would appear to be merely a selfish attempt by the current members to preserve their seats. And it certainly is that. But the Council above all seeks to sabotage the voters' will through Question C, just as it infamously did with the ambulance fee.

Even the order of the questions has been rigged by the corrupt Council. Note that its undemocratic ballot question, which was rammed through at the end of a session with no public process, input or comment, was placed before the citizen-endorsed Nine Districts Question D on the November ballot.

The farther down the ballot an office, question or referendum is, the less likely it is to be voted upon by less diligent voters. But the Council isn't merely hoping you'll tire out before you to get to Question D.

In fact, they're not worried if you vote for both - because if their poison pill Question C and the Nine Districts Question D both get approved by a majority of voters, likely out of confusion, the matter of changing the Council structure would then go to the courts. And we all know the Montgomery County cartel almost never loses in any court within the borders of Maryland.

This is why it's essential, if you are dissatisfied with the current Council, to vote FOR Question D and AGAINST Question C.

We all know that even if the Nine Districts Question D passes, that the Council will try its darnedest to once again gerrymander the districts to ensure that only one party can possibly win. They may be shaped even more absurdly than the wacky ones splattered across the map today.

But even these gerrymandered nine new districts would, by the rules of mathematics, have to be geographically smaller. Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest thinkers in human history, said, “The government closest to the people serves the people best.” No longer would one tiny area within the downcounty have the power to control up to six out of the nine seats on the Council. And it would be far less likely for seven of the nine councilmembers to live downcounty, as they do now.

It's virtually unprecedented in County history to have a poison pill ballot question designed to sabotage another, where a victory by both sends the entire matter into legal oblivion. But then this Council increasingly has fought an unprecedented ideological war against the very constituents it represents.

So unpopular are its policies that residents approved term limits. And when energetic protesting of Council actions (and inaction) became too embarrassing in 2016-17, the Council literally locked its constituents out of the Council building permanently, turning 100 Maryland Avenue into a secure fortress. A Council of the People, a Council not suffering from paranoia and megalomania, doesn't have to lock out the public.

If locking the People out wasn't enough, the Council took another unprecedented step - it refused to engage in the all-American, democratic process of debating its political opponents in the last election. Civic associations were successfully pressured by the Montgomery County cartel to cancel all of their general election debates in 2018. Washington Post reporters Jennifer Barrios and Robert McCartney were fully aware of this, but chose not to cover it. In fact, they mysteriously never wrote a single sentence about the general election Council races in 2018.

Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.

It is once again time for the citizens to shine a light into that corrupt darkness, by voting FOR Question D to create nine compact districts, and AGAINST Question C.

The Council is again attempting to sabotage an election, this time by confusion. Just remember this handy guide to defeat them: "D" stands for democracy. "C" stands for corruption. Vote FOR Democracy and AGAINST Corruption, by voting FOR D and AGAINST C.

Photo via National Archives

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Bethesda construction update: Marriott HQ (Photos)

Work continues on the Marriott International headquarters and hotel, relocating from North Bethesda to 7750 Wisconsin Avenue. Marriott executives have to hope the coronavirus pandemic is behind us by the time both buildings open.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Bethesda construction update: 8001 Woodmont (Photos)

Here's a look at the latest progress at developer JBG Smith's near-finished 8001 Woodmont mixed-use development in downtown Bethesda. The project is anchored by Trader Joe's, features an Orangetheory Fitness gym, and is still on-track for a Q3 2020 delivery.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Gusto closes in Bethesda

Gusto Farm to Street has closed at 4733 Elm Street in downtown Bethesda. Their Silver Spring location was still open when I went by last night. The fast casual Italian restaurant opened here in 2015, and has expanded to several other locations in Virginia and North Carolina since.

End of an era in Chevy Chase as Lord & Taylor to close all stores

Lakeforest Mall's Lord & Taylor was first on the chopping block. More recently the department store chain announced their White Flint Mall location was closing. The Chevy Chase NW Lord & Taylor appeared safe at the time. No more.

Lord & Taylor announced Thursday that it will be closing all of its remaining stores, including the one at 5255 Western Avenue NW. What a sad day it is as the 194-year history of America's first department store, and a valuable shopping resource on the Maryland-D.C. line, will soon have ceased to exist. Now the intrigue begins as to what might replace Lord & Taylor in Chevy Chase...

2 cars stolen in Massachusetts Avenue corridor theft spree this week

One or more auto thieves has been prowling the Massachusetts Avenue corridor in Bethesda this week. Property was taken from several vehicles, and two others were stolen entirely.

Valuables were stolen from a vehicle parked in a driveway in the 6000 block of Woodacres Drive in the Wood Acres subdivision over the night of August 24 to 25. Items were also taken from another vehicle parked on that block. Over the same night, a vehicle parked along the street in the 6200 block of Welborn Drive - also in Wood Acres - was stolen. Property was also taken from a vehicle parked in the 5300 block of Allandale Road, in nearby Green Acres.

The same thief/thieves or other perpetrator(s) may have returned to the area the next evening.

Over the night between August 25 and the morning of August 26, a vehicle was stolen from a driveway in the 5300 block of Brookeway Drive in Springfield. Property was taken from two vehicles parked in driveways of two separate homes in the 5600 block of Newington Road, also in Springfield. A credit card taken from at least one vehicle was later used at a gas station, according to crime data.

If you live in this area, be sure to lock your car doors. Remove all valuables (including the car keys!) from the interior, and report suspicious activity to the Montgomery County police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Voorthuis returning to Chevy Chase

Voorthuis Opticians, a longtime tenant of Mazza Gallerie in the Friendship Heights area of Chevy Chase, is returning to the area. Their new location will be in the former Santa Maria Novella space at 5454 Wisconsin Avenue, outside the Barlow Building.

Subway at 7201 Wisconsin available for lease April 2021

$5 Footlongs may be no longer next year at the Subway at 7201 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. An online listing is offering the space for lease as of April 2021. The vacant Modell's space is also immediately available on the ground floor of the same building.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Bethesda bus shelter needs some work

The vandalized bus shelter problem in the declining former "Rodeo Drive" stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase appears to be expanding north into Bethesda. While this bus shelter at Wisconsin and Stanford Street hasn't been smashed out like the one in Friendship Heights was, the window advertising panel and frame have suffered some sort of damage. Whatever the problem is, this is not a welcoming or acceptable state for a bus shelter to be in, especially given the record-high taxes residents are paying.
To address the matter, someone stretched a piece of tape across the open frame, and apparently then just shuffled off into the night. Stay classy, Montgomery County!

Piccoli Piatti, Gregorio's Trattoria target opening dates in Bethesda

Wildwood Shopping Center
Piccoli Piatti at Wildwood Shopping Center and Gregorio's Trattoria at The Shops at Sumner Place in Bethesda have both been in the works for around a year. Both have now applied for liquor licenses from Montgomery County. Piccoli Piatti, which will feature a menu of pizza and light Italian dishes, now estimates a September opening. The equally-Italian Gregorio's is now aiming for an October opening, and will be open 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM seven days a week.
The Shops at Sumner Place

CherCher Ethiopian Cuisine to defend its liquor license after violations at Bethesda restaurant

It's been a bumpy ride for Ethiopian restaurants in Bethesda. Two of the three have closed. The last remaining, CherCher Ethiopian Cuisine now faces a critical test, and could lose a significant amount of revenue if they lose.

Montgomery County's liquor control board is summoning the owners to their September 3, 2020 meeting to explain why the board should not revoke the restaurant's liquor license, or impose fines or other penalties. The board alleges violations of liquor laws have occurred at CherCher, sufficient to fine the business, or take away their license altogether.

CherCher is located at 4921 Bethesda Avenue. They have another location in the District at 9th Street NW.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Bethesda construction update: Audi Bethesda dealership (Photos)

EuroMotorcars has just opened its new Mercedes Benz/AMG dealership facility at 7020 Arlington Road in downtown Bethesda. Now work is starting on constructing EuroMotorcars' Audi Bethesda dealership across the street. A Goodyear tire business was demolished. Now the site has been graded, and construction of the new building is starting.

Deep cleaning is most visible anti-coronavirus measure at Bethesda buildings

Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory illness spread through the air. But aside from masks, the most visible means deployed to fight it in public and commercial spaces is disinfecting and deep cleaning. This can range from existing staff using bleach and other typical household disinfectants on high-touch surfaces, to bringing in a special team to perform a "deep cleaning."

That's what we've seen at several downtown Bethesda office buildings since the pandemic began. Here you can see a team at work after hours, deep-cleaning the lobby of JBG Smith's new Class A office building at 4747 Bethesda Avenue.