Saturday, November 17, 2018

[Bang] spent six years diverting economic development funds to a sham company, getting caught only after federal tax authorities began investigating the massive cashier’s checks he brought to casinos

Montgomery official pleads guilty to charges related to embezzlement from county


...“He was always impeccably dressed. And he spoke with great precision. He projected an image that was very careful and credible,” Leventhal said. “Oh my God, it’s a Hollywood movie — it’s incredible. It’s impossible to believe. We’re all reeling.”
Yet the county’s economic development system also had been without tight transparency and rules that allowed Bang, who lived in Germantown, freedom from scrutiny.

“There should have been clearly more oversight, a combination of it, that’s clear,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who took office in 2006, said Friday...

Scott Abraham ‏ @ScottABC7 I've covered high school football for 15 years. I HAVE NEVER experienced anything like tonight. Media restrictions galore. It was a circus.



Friday, November 16, 2018

BREAKING Transition Team Doings...

Image result for shh!
County Executive-Elect Marc Elrich has assembled a Transition Team of over 180 people. The list of the entire team is here, as reported by Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters on Nov. 14th. The group met this past week (still don't know where, or when) and broke into smaller groups. These groups will be determining the future of the county and the incoming administration priorities. Yet we still have no idea what went on at the meeting, or who was involved in which discussions. There are no minutes, no notes, no report out, or who was involved. We do know, though, that paid county employees were at the meeting working as facilitators and moderators.

So much for transparency and #opengov hopes for this new administration.

Parents' Coalition has obtained the names of the team members and verified that the group that will be overseeing education is the, 'Thriving Youth and Families Outcome Team.' Discussions at the first meeting included focus on pre-K strategies and more oversight of MCPS and gaps.

Next meeting: Monday. We still don't know when or where. Shhh.

The members of the team (some affiliations listed, not all are included here. You can add your own!)

Jud Ashman (Mayor of Gaithersburg)
Mark Bergel (Founder, A Wider Circle)
Marielsa Bernard (Judge, Sixth Circuit Court Montgomery County)
Shruti Bhatnagar (Candidate, Montgomery County Council At-Large)
Gordon Brenne (Vice President, Montgomery County Taxpayers League)
Sharon Friedman
Maria Gomez (Mary's Center)
Ron Halber
Brigid Howe
Omege Jawonezi
Evelyn Kelly
Cara Lesser
Diane Lill
Ann Mazur
Lori Melman (Family Learning Solutions)
Sonia Mora (Latino Health Initiative, Montgomery County Dep't. of Health and Human Services)
Marice Morales (Delegate, D19)
Aryani Ong
Jill Ortman-Fouse (outgoing MCPS Board Member)
Grace Rivera
Brian Roberts
Neel Saxena
Laurie Anne Sayles (City Councilmember, City of Gaithersburg)
Maritza Solano (CASA, Director of Education)
Laura Stewart
Ananya Tadikonda
Crystal Townsend (President, Healthcare Initiative Foundation non-profit)
Chris Wilhelm
Art Williams
Maya Zegarra

Thursday, November 15, 2018

School buses first priority in Michigan Volkswagen settlement plan


From Energy News Network, reporter Andy Balaskovitz. Full story here.
Image result for electric school bus

Michigan’s first priority in distributing settlement funds from the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal is to replace aging, polluting diesel school buses.

State officials released the “Volkswagen Settlement Beneficiary Mitigation Plan” this week, which will distribute $64.8 million over the next nine years to reduce air pollution from the transportation sector.

The spending plan, which takes place in four phases, targets the replacement of diesel vehicles across a variety of sectors, including local freight vehicles, Great Lakes ferries and airport ground support equipment. The plan also distributes $9.7 million electric vehicle charging stations.

The first phase directs nearly $13 million toward school buses, with up to $3 million specifically for electric buses and charging stations. While school districts have options for replacing them — including with newer diesel models — the state is incentivizing electric and alternative-fuel models by reimbursing more of the upfront costs. The plan will cover up to 70 percent of the cost of a new electric bus and charging station under contract with a public school district compared to 25 percent of the cost of a new diesel bus. Buses powered by propane or compressed natural gas are also eligible for funding.

Outcome of Maine Election Different Under Ranked Choice Voting

This is the voting system that the Montgomery County Delegation wants to use in Montgomery County.

...Under Maine's system, voters rank their preferred candidates to allow for an "instant runoff" by counting second-choice votes from people who supported last-placed candidates, repeating the process until a candidate secures victory with more than 50 percent of the vote. The system is used for federal elections, but not for state legislative or gubernatorial races, after being approved by Maine voters in a recent ballot initiative.
Poliquin led Golden, 46.4 percent to 45.5 percent, in first-place votes. But Golden, a Marine veteran and state representative, prevailed after the ranked-choice votes were tabulated...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Man hid tiny cameras in his bathrooms, recorded 60 nude children, prosecutors say.

...Until fall [2017], when Montgomery County police arrested him, Oldale, who lived in Somerset, was a fixture in the town — deeply involved in the lives of his two children and those in the neighborhood.

He led a Cub Scout pack, took photos for the elementary school yearbook and volunteered as a room parent at school. He launched a small summer camp and threw the backyard splash parties...
The videos show multiple cameras were used simultaneously to record what was happening in the bathrooms of his home, authorities said in charging Oldale, and show Oldale checking camera angles.
...“Mr. Oldale would come into the bathroom,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Baldwin said in court several months ago. “He will check on a camera. He’ll look down at it and make sure the focus is correct and make sure that it’s pointing in the right direction. He did it to the one in the pedestal sink. There’s another video where he comes in, and there’s one that’s pointing from the shower over the commode in the bathroom to the bathroom door. He walks in, he leans in that camera and he artfully pushes it back so that it’s now focusing on the shower.
“You ask yourself, well, why is he doing that?” the prosecutor continued. “Well, 30 seconds later, two young girls come in the bathroom, and they take off their bathing suits, and they get in the shower.”..

Chevy Chase Man Pleads Guilty to Recording More Than 1,000 Videos of Children Undressing in His Home #SomersetElementary #pornography

...On the USB drives, Oldale had created a filing system that had subfolders named for the month and within those folders were additional subfolders that listed children’s names followed by a description of the bathing suit each wore.
The search unveiled two of Oldale’s three laptops had “installations of browsers used to access the ‘dark web,’ ” and accessed files had titles consistent with child pornography.

The dark web is a part of the internet that requires specific software to access, allowing users to remain anonymous, according to a press release...

https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/courts/chevy-chase-man-pleads-guilty-to-recording-more-than-1000-videos-of-children-undressing-in-his-home/

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

MoCo School Board Revives 10-Day Spring Break for 2019-2020 School Year

The Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday revived the county school district’s 10-day spring break after a one-year hiatus.
In October, the school board began discussions about the 2019-2020 Montgomery County Public Schools calendar, reviewing two options, one of which would operate similarly to this year’s calendar with a six-day spring break, while the second featured the longer break...
...The state mandates 180 instructional days, allowing the proposed 181st and 182nd days to function as make-up days should there be unexpected school closures throughout the year. Both calendars identify the first two days of spring break as possible make-up days for emergency closings. Under the adopted calendar, those days will be Jan. 27 and April 6 and 7, 2020.
Schools will close Dec. 23, 2019, for winter break and the approved calendar includes non-instructional days to coincide with Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 30 and Yom Kippur on Oct. 9, which were identified in a district-wide survey as days that parents, students and community members preferred to be out of school...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Proposed Bill MC6-19 to restrict candidates running for office in Montgomery County

Del Eric Luedtke (D-14) has posted a bill, MC6-19, that would throw an additional roadblock before candidates running for office here in Montgomery County. The bill would add an additional obstacle to people wanting to run by requiring candidates running for County Executive to collect signatures from 1,000 registered voters in the county before being allowed to file; require candidates running for county council at-large seat to collect signatures from 500 registered county voters before being allowed to file; and require candidates who want to run for county council from a district to collect 250 signatures from registered voters within the county.

Apparently our celebrated public financing and term limits changes encouraged TOO many people to run for office in our fair county. So confusing! So, Del. Luedtke has come up with a way to restrict the races.

Please let your state delegates and senators know that we don’t want restrictions put on people who want to run for office in Montgomery County.

To contact Del. Luedtke: eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us

Your other delegates and state senators:

D-14
Craig.zucker@senate.state.md.us
Pam.queen@house.state.md.us
Anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us

 D-15
Brian.feldman@senate.state.md.us
Kathleen.dumais@house.state.md.us
David.fraser.hidalgo@house.state.md.us
Lily.Qi@house.state.md.us *

 D-16
Susan.lee@senate.state.md.us
Ariana.kelly@house.state.md.us
Marc.korman@house.state.md.us
sara.love@house.state.md.us *

D-17
Cheryl.kagan@senate.state.md.us
Kumar.barve@house.state.md.us
Jim.gilchrist@house.state.md.us
Julie.palakovich.carr@house.state.md.us *

D-18
jeff.waldstricher@senate.state.md.us
Alfred.carr@house.state.md.us
Emily.Shetty@house.state.md.us *
Jared.Solomon@house.state.md.us *

 D-19
Benjamin.kramer@senate.state.md.us
Bonnie.cullison@house.state.md.us
vaughn.stewart@house.state.md.us *
charlotte.crutchfield@house.state.md.us *

D-20
Will.smith@senate.state.md.us
Lorig.Charkoudian@house.state.md.us *
David.moon@house.state.md.us
Jheanelle.wilkins@house.state.md.us

D-39
Nancy.king@senate.state.md.us
lesley.lopez@house.state.md.us *
Kirill.reznik@house.state.md.us
gabriel.acevero@house.state.md.us *

(* this is a new delegate, so this email address may not be correct)

MC6-19 by freestategal on Scribd

Seneca Valley HS: " allegations of unwanted sexual touching among football players at the school on Sept. 18."

...disciplinary action was taken against multiple students and that adults were reprimanded for a lack of supervision. Team discussions have since focused on the harm of such behavior and the importance of respect and sportsmanship.

“The team had a long conversation and continues to engage around this issue,” ..
...Across the county, parents have voiced concerns about the culture of athletic programs, the training of coaches and the adequacy of safeguards.
Some have criticized the school system’s use of the word “hazing,” saying it should acknowledge in blunt terms what is alleged at Damascus: sexual assault.
Lyda Astrove, a longtime education advocate, said an anti-hazing video the school system recently released failed to convey “the seriousness and horribleness of the alleged crimes that took place on school property.”
She called on the superintendent to hold a community meeting to answer safety questions and “itemize specific procedures they are putting in place to make sure these type of acts never happen again.”..


Sunday, November 11, 2018

WPOST: Montgomery County should seriously address allegations of rape at Damascus High School

...The system’s subsequent disclosure of a hazing incident in September at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown involving a physical assault in a locker room suggests there indeed may be systemic issues that need to be addressed. Hazing and bullying are not uncommon in youth sports, thought they often go unreported by victims who feel humiliated or embarrassed. But what is alleged to have taken place at Damascus is extreme...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/montgomery-county-should-seriously-address-allegations-of-rape-at-damascus-high-school/2018/11/10/333d9da8-e46b-11e8-b759-3d88a5ce9e19_story.html?utm_term=.862334b43f35

2 Seneca Valley football coaches disciplined after players involved in altercation, official says


Friday, November 9, 2018

"Skin lacerations, gashes are open wounds for months, increased injuries" from NEW RMHS Artificial Turf #zeolite #plasticgrass #MoreBandages

At the November 8, 2018, Montgomery County Board of Education public hearing on school facilities a Richard Montgomery High School student gave public comment about the injuries caused by the new artificial turf at the school.  Watch her statement below.

The Board of Education calls this a "best practice."

The Board of Education used $562,721 of Operating Budget funds to pay for this artificial turf.  That means they sacrificed teacher salaries to pay for this new field.  They did not use Capital Budget (bricks and mortar) funds.  There is no money available to replace this field again.
Students will need to buy more bandages.




Three Teens Arrested After 7-Eleven Robbery

Montgomery County Police Department reported a number of criminal incidents in Germantown from October 14 through October 27. 
   Police have arrested three teenagers, two from Germantown and another of an unconfirmed address in connection with the robbery of the 7-Eleven Convenience Store at 19786 Crystal Rock Drive at 7:45 pm on Friday, Oct. 26.

https://www.germantownpulse.net/single-post/2018/11/08/Three-Teens-Arrested-After-7-Eleven-Robbery

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Federal judges in gerrymandering case toss Maryland’s congressional voting map

Federal judges in Maryland on Wednesday blocked the state from using its congressional voting map in future elections, ordering political leaders to draw new electoral lines for contests in 2020.
The three-judge panel unanimously threw out the congressional map in a long-running partisan gerrymandering case. The decision gives Maryland officials until March to submit a new redistricting plan.
The judges acknowledged the inherently political redistricting process but declared the boundaries unconstitutional and intentionally designed to target Republican voters in the 6th Congressional District because of their political affiliation.
“When political considerations are taken into account to an extreme, the public perceives an abuse of the democratic process,” wrote Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, who was joined by U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III...

MCPS Parent Questions Notification to Parents/Staff at Wheaton HS and New Propane Tank at Watkins Mill HS #celltower

The Montgomery County Tower Committee will vote to approve the give away of more public school land at Wheaton High School and Watkins Mill High School today at 2 PM. The land is being turned over to private, for profit companies who often don't pay their Maryland Property Taxes on these commercial uses.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Heather Elliott:  Heather.Elliott@montgomerycountymd.gov

Sent: Wed, Nov 7, 2018 8:33 am
Subject: 2 Agenda Items to Please Table!

Hello, Marjorie and Tower Committee.

As an MCPS parent, I am concerned about the lack of disclosure to the community about two items on today's agenda.

#25 (Wheaton HS)

1. This tower is painful close to the school. How can a tower NOT be moved when the school is rebuilt? Aren't there setbacks required by law/zoning code?

2. Please share with me proof that the school attendees (including the teachers) and the surrounding community members have been made aware of this addition and that proper MCPS Real Estate protocol has been followed.

#26 (Watkins Mill HS)

1. The co-location planned includes a propane tank. Please share with me the materials sent to the community informing them of this addition of a volatile, hazardous substance in such close proximity to the school. As I understand it, the community is entitled to prior notice and this was just posted about 24 hours ago.

Sincerely,

Lisa Cline

‘Stop, stop, stop’: Police report describes alleged sex assaults in JV football locker room

...The incident report, written by Detective Dana Williams of the Montgomery County Police Department, describes interviews with the reported victims, who said they previously had heard about broomstick attacks but were uncertain about whether the accounts were genuine.
One of the boys allegedly attacked “reported that when he was in middle school, he heard about ‘brooming,’ but thought that it was a myth,” Williams wrote. Then the teenager was attacked, the report states, and he pleaded with teammates to stop, but they told him it was a “tradition.”
“He thought the football team was supposed to be a family and look out for each other,” the report states, summarizing the boy’s views, “and did not think they could do something that horrible.”..
...The report, written Thursday, covers the alleged actions of three 15-year-old junior varsity players who are each charged with two counts of second-degree rape and two counts of attempted second-degree rape...

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Board of Ed. wants to Give Cell Vendor who is NOT Paying Property Taxes More Land at Wheaton High School #celltower

Google Maps
Wheaton High School has a cell tower right next to the school building.  The image at left shows how close the cell tower is to the school building. 

The cell tower used to be a light pole on the football field, but when MCPS built a new Wheaton High School they built the new school right next to the cell tower.  The school building moved, the cell tower did not.

There are currently 3 companies using the Wheaton High School cell tower:  AT&T, Sprint Clearwire, and T-Mobile.



Sprint/Nextel wants to add six antennas and nine remote radio heads (RRH) at 85' on the 97'5" monopole, and construct a 12' x 20' compound on Wheaton High School property to support the new antennas and radio heads.  

Each of the cell tower companies are required by Maryland law to pay property taxes on their cell tower locations.  However, a check of Montgomery County Property Tax records shows that two of the companies using the Wheaton High School cell tower are not keeping up with their annual property tax payments. 

One of the companies not current in paying Maryland Property Taxes is Sprint Clearwire.

Nonetheless, the Montgomery County Board of Education has asked the Montgomery County Tower Committee to approve these new antennas, new radio heads and new 12' x 20' base for a company that is in arrears on paying their property taxes.

The Montgomery County Tower Committee will approve (they always do) the addition of these new antennas, radio heads and 12' x 20' base compound at their November 7, 2018, meeting

Below are the Montgomery County Property Tax bills for Sprint Clearwire and AT&T at the Wheaton High School cell tower.









DuFief Elementary School Principal "will no longer serve as principal."

October 30, 2018
Dear DuFief Staff and Community,
This letter is to inform you of an important personnel change at DuFief Elementary School. Effective Tuesday, October 29, 2018, Mr. Brent Mascott will no longer serve as principal. Mr. Mascott is currently on leave for personnel matter unrelated to students.  Ms. Lisa Shen, special education teacher, will serve as teacher in charge for the remainder of this week.
Beginning Monday, November 5, Mr. Gregg Baron will serve as acting principal through the end of the 2018-19 school year. Mr. Baron has 17 years of service in education, including six years as an assistant principal and eleven years as an elementary school teacher. Mr. Baron will be sharing opportunities to meet with staff, students and parents in the coming days.
I know that transition in school leadership can be yield anxiety. Please know that MCPS leadership is here to support the students, staff and school community throughout this time. I am confident that Dufief Elementary School will continue its mission to stimulate and challenge all students to develop their academic, social and emotional potential.
 Sincerely,
 Jennifer Webster
Director, Office of School Support and Improvement

It's Election Day. Go VOTE

Not sure where to vote, or what's on our ballot? Go to https://www.vote.org/ to find out everything you need to know.

"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
32nd President of the United States
 
"For this Nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American's vote to be denied, diluted, or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished."
Ronald Reagan
40th President of the United States

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Rich Parents Ban Devices as the Poor Grow Reliant

In The New York Times, reporter Nellie Bowles. Full story here.

The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected
America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether.

“These companies lied to the schools, and they’re lying to the parents,” said Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Kansas City. “We’re all getting duped.”
 
 
The parents in Overland Park, Kan., were fed up. They wanted their children off screens, but they needed strength in numbers. First, because no one wants their kid to be the lone weird one without a phone. And second, because taking the phone away from a middle schooler is actually very, very tough.
“We start the meetings by saying, ‘This is hard, we’re in a new frontier, but who is going to help us?’” said Krista Boan, who is leading a Kansas City-based program called START, which stands for Stand Together And Rethink Technology. “We can’t call our moms about this one.”
For the last six months, at night in school libraries across Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., about 150 parents have been meeting to talk about one thing: how to get their children off screens.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Update in Damascus High School JV football hazing case.