From the County Council Office of Valerie Ervin

Dear Resident, 

 

As the Council closes out its fall schedule, I want to update you on some key issues that the Council is addressing. We are considering a wide-range of issues from the curfew bill proposed by the County Executive to the post-Census redrawing of Councilmember district lines. We are also working on several land use issues and master plans that are vital to strengthening our economy and improving our quality of life.  

Overall, this year our agenda has focused on the severe budget challenges that the County, like governments across the nation, has continued to face. This Council acted unanimously on issue after issue and approved a $4.4 billion County budget for Fiscal Year 2012. We listened closely to the comments we received from thousands of concerned County service recipients and taxpayers, we consulted extensively with our employee representatives, and ultimately we spoke with one voice on how best to close the huge gap between projected expenditures and resources.

We also worked together to create a fiscal protection package that secured the County's reserves and made essential long-term structural changes. As a result, the three major bond rating agencies reaffirmed the County's critical AAA bond rating in June; however, the continued turmoil in financial markets makes it clear that our challenges are far from over.    

When I took the gavel as president, I promised that the County Council would get back to basics, focus on disciplined governing, and to create long-term structural change. I am proud that this Council accomplished all of these goals together as a team.  

I am deeply committed to progressive values, and I care deeply about the concerns of our taxpayers, service recipients, and employees in this economy. I will continue to do the best job I can for the County's one million residents. It is truly an honor to represent you.

 

Sincerely, 

Valerie Ervin  

Valerie Ervin 

100 Most Powerful Women
 

The Washington region is blessed with women from all walks of life who are instrumental in shaping this area and the nation. I was honored to be named one of "Washington's 100 Most Powerful Women" by Washingtonian Magazine joining an impressive region-wide list that includes Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and some of the area's top government and business leaders. So many women are in powerful positions in Washington today. I appreciate this recognition, and I am privileged to be included among this group of such successful women.

 

I was recognized in the local public powers category along with several other accomplished women including U.S. Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Chair of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova, and the Chief of the D.C. Police Department Cathy Lanier.

 

The full Washingtonian article is available online.

Photo courtesy of Washingtonian Magazine

The Audacity of Hoops: Silver Spring Basketball Tournament

 

3 on 3 dunk contestOn October 23, I hosted the Audacity of Hoops Silver Spring at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring with the Montgomery County Recreation Department, IMPACT Silver Spring, and the Long Branch Athletic Association. This tremendously successful 3-on-3 basketball tournament for high school students in the county generated tremendous participation and focused on young people in and around Silver Spring.

 

As Chair of the Council's Education Committee and a former member of the Board of Education, I am committed to developing innovative partnerships that create more positive engagement activities for our youth. This tournament is one way to encourage our young people to get involved in community life. 

 

I want to thank the event sponsors: Bud Miller Associates, Headliners Barbershop, United Therapeutics, and Washington Sports Club. Their support, and the hard work of the County's Recreation Department, IMPACT Silver Spring, and the Long Branch Athletic Association, generated a tremendous event that I hope to replicate in the future.

Celebrating Food Day   

 

I was happy to present a proclamation at the Council to celebrate national Food Day, which seeks to bring together people from all walks of life: parents, teachers, and students; health professionals; community organizers; and local officials to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. The goal is to get people to "Eat Real" - centering one's diet on fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains; eating locally when possible; and buying fewer packaged foods.

Food Day compliments one of my most successful initiatives- Community Gardens. I partnered with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission to bring community gardens to the down county as a way to improve the urban and natural environment. Community gardens enhance the lives of residents by providing hands-on, healthy food production for adults and children. Having options for producing home-grown seasonal crops has an economic impact because working families are able to reduce their overall food costs. I believe that creating a community garden in an urban area is one of the best ways for local government to model good behaviors related to nutrition, recycling, and storm water management.

"No Boundaries": Off the Script with County Executive Rushern Baker and Congresswoman Donna Edwards    

Striving to go beyond the ways residents normally hear views of local leaders, the "No Boundaries" television series aims to show not only the views of local leaders on certain issues, but also what has led them to take these positions. In the second episode, County Executive Rushern Baker and I talk about how our upbringings led to public service, our passion for improving educational opportunities, and the importance of our two counties working together on key issues.  


For those of you who missed it, the first episode of "No Boundaries" featured a conversation between me and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. As life-long friends and colleagues, we discuss how policy issues are handled on the national and local levels and share our common experiences which lead to us devoting our lives to public service.   

Standing Up for Fair Contracts     

 

SEIU RallyRecently, I joined elected officials from around the Washington area to show support for nearly 12,000 of the region's office cleaners, including more than 1,500 workers in Montgomery County, in their negotiations for higher wages and health benefits.

The rally in Washington, D.C. called on industry leaders to agree to a fair contract for the workers and to avoid a strike that could hurt the region. I am happy to report that a tentative agreement was reached with less than 24 hours before this contract was scheduled to expire. As the primary sponsor of the County's Prevailing Wage Law, this is just another example of my continued advocacy for fair salaries and benefits for all employees.

Hunger Doesn't Take a Summer Vacation       


Summer Lunch ProgramWhile schools may be closed, the need to feed children - especially the one-third of students who qualify for free & reduced-priced meals - does not end. This summer, I joined with members of the Board of Education at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, to celebrate the Montgomery County Public Schools Summer Food Service program. This year, the Summer Food program operated at 111 sites and served 9,000 children throughout Montgomery County.

As Chair of the Council's Education Committee, I advocated for the addition of "walk-in" locations, which began in 2007, to help increase participation in the Summer Food Service Program. This summer, there were six walk-in locations where children aged 18 and under received free meals (available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each weekday). The walk-in sites enabled students who were not registered for a summer program to still have the opportunity to have a meal that they would not probably otherwise receive.  

Working Across Boundaries for the Future of Takoma/Langley 

 

Takoma & Langley ParkThis summer I also hosted a groundbreaking public forum with stakeholders from Montgomery and Prince George's counties on the pending Takoma/Langley sector plan. This meeting brought together decision makers from both counties, as well as property owners, businesses, advocacy groups, planners and others, to engage the community in a meaningful dialogue that will lead to future meetings and tangible outcomes among these groups. Both counties have much at stake, and it is our collective job to ensure the successful future for the entire community in the Takoma/Langley area.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker provided opening remarks before a presentation from the Friends of White Flint, which is an effective model for outreach and community action that could be replicated in Takoma/Langley. The bulk of the morning was spent in a facilitated discussion among attendees on multi-jurisdictional issues, centered on the following themes: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Food, Health, Infrastructure, and Knowledge.

The Council is reviewing this plan. If you were not able to make it, or would like to get involved, please send me an email or visit the Planning Department's website for more information.

A video of the event is also available. 

Pending Master and Sector Plans       

 

White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan  

This summer, I hosted a community meeting with planning staff at February Circle and April Lane on what residents would like to see in their community. Thanks to all those residents who came out to share your vision and comments. The Planning Department is holding monthly Community Advisory Committee meetings to get input on the future of the White Oak, Hillandale, and the Route 29 Corridor.
More information from the Planning Board web site

The Takoma Langley Crossroads Sector Plan
The Council's held two public hearings on the Takoma Langley Crossroads Sector Plan and the Council will be conducting worksessions on the plan. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee has completed its review of the sector. The City of Takoma Park has requested that the Council delay the review of this plan until after the city and the Planning Board can agree on appropriate design guidelines.
More information from the Planning Board web site

Wheaton CBD Sector Plan
The Council held a public hearing on Wheaton CBD Sector Plan and the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee worksessions have been ongoing. The first Committee worksession was held on Oct. 31.
More information from the Planning Board web site

Kensington Sector Plan
The Town of Kensington's current sector plan was passed in 1978. The updated plan will articulate the Kensington communities' vision and guide the area's physical development over a 20-year period. The Kensington Sector Plan area includes the incorporated Town of Kensington and three adjacent areas: the West Howard antiques district, the Ken-Gar community north of the CSX railroad tracks and the small commercial district at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and University Boulevard. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee plans to return to its review in the near future.
More information from the Planning Board web site

Long Branch Sector Plan
Planning staff is working on a sector plan for Long Branch in East Silver Spring. Planners are expected to focus on land use and regulatory recommendations to create a mixed-use transit oriented community.
More information from the Planning Board web site 

Council Grants Advisory Group:
Applicants Needed         

 

The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for positions on its Fiscal Year 2013 Grants Advisory Group. The Council will appoint the volunteer community panel to review grant applications and advise it on proposals received from the non-profit community. Interested applicants living or working in the County should submit their letter of interest with a resume to:  

Council President Valerie Ervin, Montgomery County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850 or via email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Letters of interest must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14. Applicants for the Advisory Group cannot be employees of, or member of a board of, a nonprofit group applying for grant funding. It is anticipated that the Grants Advisory Group will be appointed in December and will be asked to report to the Council by the end of April 2012. Panel members will need to attend training sessions and review relevant materials during late January and February, and should anticipate approximately six-to-eight meetings between the beginning of February and mid-April, with the potential for weekly meetings in March. The applications review will take place between March 1 and April 15.

Questions regarding the Grants Advisory Group should be directed to Peggy Fitzgerald-Bare, Council Grants Manager at 240-777-7924 or peggy.fitzgerald-bare@montgomerycountymd.gov.  

County Board Vacancies       

 

County government is committed to representation on all of the County's boards, committees, and commissions that is reflective of, and responsive to, our County's residents. Public participation contributes to the work of County government and provides an important service to the community when a variety of issues, concerns, and viewpoints are presented. Currently, there is a valuable opportunity to serve on the following: 


 - Committee Evaluation and Review Board
 - Firearm Safety Committee

The deadline for application is November 18, 2011.

Please share this notice with anyone who may be interested. You may access vacancy announcements for boards, committees, and commissions through the Montgomery County vacancies page.

Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, gender, geography, disability and ethnicity are encouraged to apply. An application, consisting of a brief cover letter and resume, should be sent by mail to County Executive Isiah Leggett, 101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, or via email to the County Executive. Home and employment addresses, as well as contact phone numbers and email addresses should be included. If appropriate, applicants should indicate the position for which they are applying.

Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time. Members of these boards are eligible for reimbursement for travel and dependent care for meetings attended. Appointments are subject to confirmation by the County Council. Applications of those selected for appointment are made public as part of the confirmation process. 

Housing the Region's Future Workforce 

On October 25, I represented the Council at a panel discussion hosted by George Mason's Center for Regional Analysis and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on housing the region's future workforce. Dr. Steve Fuller reported on future employment trends in the greater Washington area. I provided my prospective on the relationship between housing and economic growth and the challenges to building sufficient housing in Montgomery County.

According to Dr. Fuller, over the next 20 years, the Washington Metropolitan region will add more than one million jobs. Another 1.8 million of the region's current workers will retire and new workers will be needed to fill those jobs.

The purpose of the conference was to highlight housing as a significant issue for our region's economic development and to examine the impacts of local housing policies. Not only is it critical to have a sufficient amount of housing, but the housing also has to be priced to meet the needs of all residents and located in strategic areas. A lack of sufficient housing will lead to increased traffic congestion and will impact future growth.
Community Benefits Agreement  
On October 11, I introduced Bill 33-11, along with four of my Council colleagues that would require large retail stores that intend to locate in the County to enter into community benefits agreements with recognized civic organizations. A large retail store is defined as one that occupies 75,000 square feet or more.

A community benefits agreement is a legally binding contact between a community benefits coalition and a developer or a specific retail store that establishes the benefits that the community will receive from the development. Benefits can include provisions covering living wages, local hiring and training programs, affordable housing, environmental remediation, funds for community programs, open space designations, operating hours, security, deliveries, traffic mitigation and other items.

Community benefit agreements ensure that development is equitable and benefits the community, which eventually contributes to stronger local economies, livable neighborhoods and an increase in public participation in the planning process. Once an agreement is reached, community benefits coalitions often agree to support a project through public hearing attendance and testimony and releasing any administrative claims regarding a project.


Arts on the Block Quebec Avenue Terrace Project

Arts of the Block 

I celebrated the unveiling of the new Arts on the Block stair mosaic at Quebec Terrace in Silver Spring. This project exemplifies how art can truly transform a neighborhood. Arts on the Block promotes the work of talented young people while engaging residents to help create beautiful community assets.  

Visit from Congressman Chris Van Hollen   

Van Hollen visits with Ervin 

United States Congressman Chris Van Hollen met with the County Council to discuss BRAC, energy-efficiency rebate programs, the status of federal facilities in the County, and pending federal legislation. In addition to representing the Eighth District of Maryland and serving in the House leadership, he was elected by his peers in 2010 to serve as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. The Council appreciated this opportunity to discuss local issues with Congressman Van Hollen.

Chesapeake Bay Trust    

Outreach and Community Engagement Grant Program Now Open
Deadline: Dec. 9, 2011 

 As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, I want to let you know that the Trust is soliciting project proposals that increase public understanding of watershed challenges, build ownership of local watersheds, engage individuals and organizations in stewardship practices and projects, and expand the base of resident support needed to advance the restoration of the Bay. For more information and to identify other environmental grant opportunities, visit the Chesapeake Bay Trust web site

County Leaf Collection Starts November 7 and Continues Through Mid-December 

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation Division of Highway Services (DHS) will conduct its annual vacuum collection of leaves in the southern part of the county from November 7 through mid-December. DHS makes two collections on every street in the vacuum leaf collection district during the fall.

Residents should look for signs posted along the streets announcing the collection dates in their neighborhoods. The green signs indicating the first collection should be posted the week of October 31. Red signs indicate the second and final collection.

Leaves should be placed in piles or containers on the grass or behind the curb. Placing leaves in streets or alleys can disrupt traffic and surface drainage, hamper snow removal operations or pose a fire hazard to automobiles parked over them.

The Department of Highway Services reminds residents that although every effort is made to maintain the posted schedules, weather and equipment issues can affect the timing.

For more information, or to determine if a residence is within the boundaries of the leaf vacuum collection district, call 311, or go to the Department of Transportation's website and click on "Leaf Collection." 

County Board Vacancies  

County government is committed to representation on all of the County's boards, committees, and commissions that is reflective of, and responsive to, our County's residents. Public participation contributes to the work of County government and provides an important service to the community when a variety of issues, concerns, and viewpoints are presented. Currently, there is a valuable opportunity to serve on the following:

 - Committee Evaluation and Review Board
 - Firearm Safety Committee

The deadline for application is November 18, 2011. Please share this notice with anyone who may be interested. You may access vacancy announcements for boards, committees, and commissions through the Montgomery County vacancies page.

Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, gender, geography, disability and ethnicity are encouraged to apply. An application, consisting of a brief cover letter and resume, should be sent by mail to County Executive Isiah Leggett, 101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, or via email to the County Executive. Home and employment addresses, as well as contact phone numbers and email addresses should be included. If appropriate, applicants should indicate the position for which they are applying.

Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time. Members of these boards are eligible for reimbursement for travel and dependent care for meetings attended. Appointments are subject to confirmation by the County Council. Applications of those selected for appointment are made public as part of the confirmation process.