Councilmember Valerie Ervin Elected Vice President of Montgomery County
On December 8, I was unanimously elected
Vice President of the County Council. I am honored to be the first African-American woman to hold this office,
and I appreciate the trust that my Council colleagues have placed in me. While I am taking on this added leadership
role, I will continue to keep my focus on the needs of District 5
This year, the Council will be forced
to come to grips with an extremely difficult budget cycle. Like you, I know what it's like to
balance a household budget when times are tight. We will be doing the same thing, on a much larger scale, at
the County Council. We will
continue to fund the core priorities that make this county great, while
learning to do more with less.
I value your input and suggestions on ways that county government can
work better. Please don't hesitate
to reach out to me with your ideas and suggestions. I know
that by working together Montgomery County will continue to achieve great
Councilmember Ervin Introduces Bill to Encourage Employees to Report
Fraud, Waste and Abuse|
On January 15, I introduced Bill 2-10, Personnel - Contracts- Retaliation, to protect employees working for county contractors who report fraud, waste and abuse to county government officials. Current county law
protects employees who report fraud, waste and abuse; however, this same protection isn't provided to employees working under county contracts.
I believe that we must do all we can to insure that we are spending taxpayer funds efficiently and wisely. The goal of this bill is to help create an environment where a contract employee is more likely to report an employer who may be wasting government funding or creating a public health or safety danger.
Once the County Council appropriates
funds for county contracts, it is up to the executive branch to make sure that
these contracts are being administered properly. Employees are often the best
sources of information in cases of fraud, waste and abuse, and they should be
protected if they come forward with information, instead of fearing termination
for doing the right thing.
In 1997, the County Council passed
legislation to create the Inspector General's Office to serve as a watchdog to
detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse. The county also established a fraud hotline (800-971-6059), which is available for
residents and employees.
A copy of Bill 2-10 can be found by clicking here (PDF file). The public hearing on this bill is
currently scheduled for February 9 at 1:30 p.m.
As the Chair of the Education Committee and as the
Council's representative to the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Advisory
Committee, I know that sidewalks are essential for pedestrians and provide
vital links for our children to and from school. The county's annual sidewalk program is an ongoing capital improvement
project for sidewalks that are relatively simple to construct and require
little to no engineering design. The County's Department of
Transportation (DOT) coordinates with and involves the community regarding
sidewalk installation. However, the administrative processes required to
approve the construction of each sidewalk can add anywhere from three to nine
months before a sidewalk can be constructed.
At my request, the Transportation, Infrastructure,
Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee held a worksession on this issue in
December. As a result of this
meeting, I am cosponsoring expedited Bill 3-10, Streets and Roads - Sidewalks - Public Hearing
Requirement, which will expedite the administrative approval process to allow
faster construction of sidewalks that are non-controversial, have substantial
community support, would be placed entirely in the public right-of-way and
don't require a detailed engineering design.
believe that this is a balanced approach that will improve pedestrian access in
a substantial way. This
legislation will be available for review at the Council's web site here (PDF file). A public hearing is currently scheduled
for February 9 at 1:30 p.m.
In late December, I
convened a public safety forum with Montgomery County Police and Park Police in
downtown Silver Spring in response to some high-profile crime incidents that
occurred in and around Silver Spring including a bank robbery.
This meeting helped to
educate officers about community concerns and provided information to
residents about crime trends in District 5. Information sharing is critical as
we continue to work with police officers to clamp down on crime. While overall crime rates are down
countywide, residents are truly the first line of defense in fighting crime in
our neighborhoods. Organizations
like Safe Silver Spring and Weed and Seed have made tremendous progress, but they
can't do it alone.
must continue to work with community police officers. If you see suspicious or criminal activity, please report
it, so the police can provide an appropriate response. I cannot thank our
public safety officers enough for all that they do for the community. Look for my next public safety forum
For your information, the non-emergency number for the Montgomery County Police Department is 301-279-8000 and the anonymous crime tip line is 240-773-TIPS (8477).
At my request, the Council's T&E Committee
scheduled a briefing on county snow removal procedures. I requested this briefing in response
to concerns from down-county residents who alleged that they did not receive
the same attention as other areas of the county during December's
blizzard. The briefing evaluated how
the county responded to the winter storm and if changes can be made to improve
At this meeting, DOT pledged to continue to work
with residents because they are always looking for ways to improve
service. However, with snow fall
totals ranging from 16 to 24 inches around the region, it was difficult to deploy
trucks to all neighborhoods as fast as some may have expected. Overall, DOT employees worked very hard
to clear our streets in a timely manner.
will continue to monitor this issue. As always, if you need assistance please don't hesitate to contact my
office at 240-777-7960. We will be
happy to advocate on your behalf.
Buffalo Soldier James Daugherty
It was my honor to recognize James Daugherty, a Silver Spring resident,
with a Council proclamation.
Daugherty, at the age of 19, joined the Army's 92nd World War II
Infantry Division, a segregated unit made up of African Americans whose members
became known as the "Buffalo Soldiers."
His unit has been recognized for its heroic achievements and Mr.
Daugherty was awarded a Bronze Star. Mr. Daugherty also had a distinguished
career in the U.S. Public Health Service and became the first African American
to serve on the Montgomery County Board of Education. Mr. Daugherty's first-person
accounts of his military experiences are chronicled in his book, The Buffalo
the ceremonies in Rockville recognizing Mr. Daugherty were, left to right: his
wife, Dorothy; his son, Derek; Councilmember Mike Knapp, a military veteran;
Mr. Daugherty; myself and Councilmember Phil Andrews.
I was happy to participate in the ribbon cutting of
the Takoma/Langley pedestrian improvements along the intersection of New
Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard. This project will help
minimize future pedestrian injuries and deaths, while maintaining the flow of
traffic and accommodating public transportation needs. I want to thank
Erwin Mack, Executive Director of the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development
Authority, for his advocacy which helped make this project a reality.
Paying Your Utility Bill?
With winter in full swing, I wanted to remind
you that Montgomery County has programs to help eligible residents with the
cost of heating and electric bills. For more information, please call
240-777-4450 or go to visit the Montgomery County Web site.
Council Youth Town Hall Meeting
The Montgomery County Council is holding a
youth town hall meeting on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm to get input
on community issues from young people around the county. The meeting will be held at the Council
Office Building, which is a three-block walk from the Rockville Metro stop.
Free parking is also available in the building's garage on Fleet Street. This
meeting will also be broadcast on the County's Cable Channel.
Pizza Ervin Style
I celebrated the grand opening of Flippin' Pizza in
Silver Spring (8517 Colesville Road) by learning how to make my own New
York-style pie like the pros. This is the newest restaurant in downtown Silver
Spring and the pizza is terrific.
Ervin Gains a New Staffer
I am delighted to announce that Shondell
Foster from the County Council's central staff has joined my office as a policy
analyst. Shondell will be handling land use and zoning issues as well as
public safety and other community issues.
is a graduate of American University, Washington College of Law where she
served as a student attorney for the Civil Practice Clinic and the Glushko-Samuelson
Intellectual Property Law Clinic. Prior to working on the Council's
central staff, Shondell interned at the Federal Aviation Administration and the
Maryland General Assembly. Although external demands on her time have
prevented her from volunteering this year, she has enjoyed volunteering with
the Bar Association of Montgomery County's Pro Bono Program to provide legal
advice and representation to County residents.