Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Judge: President can’t block critics on Twitter

...Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director, said in a release that his organization was pleased.
“The president’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end,” he said.
The lawsuit was filed after Trump blocked some individuals from @realdonaldtrump, a 9-year-old Twitter account with over 50 million followers.
Justice Department lawyers had argued that it was Trump’s prerogative, no different from the president deciding in a room filled with people not to listen to some.
Buchwald ruled that the tweets were made in a public forum.
“The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President,” the judge said...

Hogan says the change would have given teachers unions control over two additional seats and enabled three seats to be chosen by only two stakeholder groups.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MCPS Says Escobar was employed as a temporary part-time lunch hour aide at Kensington Parkwood ES and North Bethesda MS, and also worked as a temporary part time special education paraeducator at North Bethesda

A Germantown man who worked at an after-school program has been charged with having inappropriate and sexual communication with two boys that began when the boys were in elementary school and continued through their middle school years, a Montgomery County police statement said...

A letter to Kensington Parkwood parents says, in part:
Dear Parents/Guardians:
I am writing to inform you about the arrest of Mr. Christopher Escobar, a former Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) paraeducator and lunch hour aide, who also worked for BAR-T.  BAR-T is a private provider of before and after school programs for children in Montgomery County, some of which are hosted at various MCPS schools.  Mr. Escobar has been charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, stemming from inappropriate contact with two MCPS students who attended the BAR-T before- and after-school care program at Kensington Parkwood Elementary School.
MCPS is fully cooperating with the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office on this matter. The alleged behavior described in the charging documents is upsetting and unacceptable. We expect and require all who work with MCPS students to be held to a high standard of character, and these allegations certainly violate that.
Mr. Escobar was hired by MCPS in August 2013 and last worked for MCPS in June 2017.  During his time with the school district, he was employed as a temporary part-time lunch hour aide at Kensington Parkwood Elementary School and North Bethesda Middle School, and also worked as a temporary part time special education paraeducator at North Bethesda. Mr. Escobar stopped working for BAR-T in January 2018.
School counselors and support staff will be available at Kensington Parkwood and North Bethesda to provide counseling and support to students as needed.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Video: MD Legislation to Stop Moving Around Known Sexual Offenders in Public Schools FAILED. Watch Jennifer Alvaro's statement on How this Legislation Would Have Saved MCPS Children from Becoming Victims.

March 1, 2018 public hearing on House Bill 1571This bill did not pass.  

House Bill 1571 included the following:
Requires the establishment of policies that support the prevention of, and response to, sexual abuse through:
Comprehensive screening of prospective employees and volunteers to eliminate “passing the trash” among educational institutions and/or other youth serving organizations. Passing the trash occurs when a teacher accused of sexual abuse/misconduct resigns, retires or is terminated and is allowed to quietly move to another school/school district without his or her new employer being alerted to the allegations of misconduct.
Prohibiting the practice by banning confidentiality/separation agreements in instances of sexual misconduct/violence, requiring information sharing between employers, and mandating annual training of all school community stakeholders to recognize and report sexual misconduct.
Development and implementation of codes of conduct to identify inappropriate boundary-violating behaviors that if left unchecked could escalate to reportable sexual offenses; including,methods to interrupt behaviors by school/other personnel that don’t reach the level of abuse.
The assessment and modification of physical facilities and spaces to reduce opportunities for sexual abuse

Friday, May 25, 2018

MC Police: After-School Program Employee Charged with Texting Students Inappropriate and Sexual Content

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department –  Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have arrested and charged Christopher Steve Escobar, age 27, of Port Haven Drive in Germantown, for having inappropriate and sexual communication (texting) with two boys that began when the boys were in elementary school and continued through their middle school years.  At the time of these offenses, Escobar was employed with a company that administered an after-school program at the victims’ elementary school.
Investigation by detectives revealed that in approximately August of 2012, Escobar began inappropriately texting two approximately 9-year-old male elementary school students whom he came into contact with as an employee of the Bar-T after-school program at Kensington Parkwood Elementary School in Kensington.  The texting between Escobar and the two victims continued until 2017, when the two males were approximately 14 years old.  It should be noted that the two victims did not have knowledge of each other’s texting with Escobar.
On May 24, detectives arrested Escobar on the strength of a warrant, charging him with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor for the exploitation of these two victims.  Escobar was arrested at his residence and transported to the Central Processing Unit.  He is being held without bond.
Investigators believe there may be additional victims.  Detectives are requesting that parents talk to their children about possible interactions with Escobar and contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was victimized.

Lawsuit: Baltimore Co. failed to address reported high school cyberbullying

The parents of an Eastern Technical High School student have sued one of her classmates for allegedly defaming their daughter in social media postings, as well as the principal and the Baltimore County school board for not taking proper steps to address cyberbullying.
John Pfeifer and Kimberly Kafka filed the complaint Wednesday on behalf of their daughter alleging a “cruel and malicious campaign of cyberbullying” by a student using a fake social media account and “the appalling unwillingness of the Baltimore County School Defendants to take action to enforce their own policies.”
The social media account claimed to be the plaintiff’s and “made a series of false and defamatory assertions regarding (her) character, physical appearance, and sexual activity,” according to the complaint. The postings, which began in 2016 and continued for more than a year, were seen and shared by her classmates.
The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court, seeks damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and names as defendants the student and her mother as well as the Board of Education of Baltimore County and Eastern Tech and its principal, Christene Michelle Anderson...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Board of Ed Pays $147,515 Salary of Private School Principal #ethics #ConflictOfInterest #PublicSchool

The Montgomery County Board of Education pays the salary of a principal at a private school.


Can other private schools have the Board of Education fund their principals?  How does a private school apply for this perk? 

Apparently the MCPS Operating Budget is so flush with cash that public school education money can be used to fund positions in private schools.

The principal of the George B. Thomas Saturday School is Khadija Barkley. 
Ms. Barkley's annual salary of $147,515 is paid out of the MCPS Operating Budget as was the salary of the previous Saturday School principal. 

The Board of Education has been paying the salary for the principal of this private school for years.

This information is from the MCPS June 2017 salary database.

Whitman HS Students Explore Drug Culture in Article, WUSA9 Picked Up Story

Superintendent Jack R. Smith Mentally Wrote Resignation Letter on February 14, 2018

At the April 25, 2018, Montgomery County Council Education Committee meeting Superintendent Jack R. Smith revealed how overwhelmed he felt on February 14, 2018, and how his wife talked to him the next day during the crisis that he was having and convinced him to not resign.  

ABC7: NEW: 21yo man sexually assaulted a 15yo girl inside a copy room at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, police say.

BOE votes to move forward with Whitman turf field despite controversy regarding infill

After repeated delays, the Montgomery County BOE approved the construction of Whitman’s turf field April 24. The field will be installed immediately after the spring sports season, and will be ready for use in the fall, MCPS official Essie McGuire said.
At the April 24 meeting, controversy erupted over the proposed infill material, ZeoFill. Several community members testified before the Board with concerns about ZeoFill’s safety and durability, and others emailed the BOE with similar concerns.
“I believe we don’t have the research,” Burning Tree Elementary School physical education teacher Susan Loftus said at the meeting. “Don’t experiment on children; find the research.”...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

MCPS Chief Academic Officer gives Parents Abbreviated version of Why Curriculum RFP was Rescinded

Click here to read the letter MCPS Chief Academic Officer Maria Navarro sent to MCPS staff. 

The letter that parents and guardians received is below. 

May 22, 2018

A Message from Chief Academic Officer,
Dr. Maria V. Navarro

Dear MCPS Community:

Montgomery County Public Schools has been recognized locally and nationally for the high levels of achievement by many of our students. However, many is not enough. We know that some of our students are not meeting their full potential. It is our responsibility to ensure ALL students have the resources, instruction, opportunity and access they need to succeed in college, career and community. One of the ways we are working toward our goal of all students meeting their potential is through enhancements to curricula and professional development for teachers.

To help us better understand how to reach this goal, MCPS commissioned a review of our curriculum, with a specific focus on Kindergarten through Grade 8, for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.  The review, which included insight from hundreds of educators, looked at curriculum, classroom practices and student performance and drew several key conclusions:

  • While the MCPS curriculum was cutting edge when it was created in 2008-2009, advancement in curriculum developments in recent years provide innovations, such as enhanced digital engagement, more cultural proficiency, and better alignment with state standards.
  • Professional learning is fundamental to ensuring successful instruction, especially with the evolution of new standards and curriculum.
  • A shift in curricula and professional learning requires a multi-year, multi-pronged effort to ensure a successful transition.

While we anticipated these conclusions, this report confirmed that enhancements to our curricula and professional development are needed in order for us to move closer toward our goal of success for all students.

As you may know, MCPS engaged in a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to select new curricula in April. The selected curricula was scheduled to rollout to a small set of pilot schools in the fall with continued implementation over the next several years. We have decided to postpone this effort to address unanticipated issues in the selection process. The current RFP will be rescinded and a new one will be issued. To ensure full engagement with all stakeholders on this important effort, we intend to resume the selection process at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. While we know this delay may cause a disruption for our schools that were to begin implementation next year, we believe this delay will help us ensure transparency and trust in this process. The delay also provides us with the ability to address the feedback we heard from stakeholders about the timeline of this transition.

Though the curriculum acquisition is delayed, we will continue to provide enhanced professional development for staff that will focus on addressing some of the concerns cited in the curriculum review. These focus areas will include developing instructional strategies that support every learner in every classroom; creating high levels of student interaction with rigorous and complex text; and establishing deep levels of mathematical understanding aligned to grade-level standards.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to ALL our students and schools. We will remain in regular communication with you in the coming weeks and months to provide updates about our continued efforts regarding curricula and professional development for educators.

Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D.
Chief Academic Officer


When it comes to how well Montgomery County Public Schools is ensuring that low-income students have access to a nutritious school breakfast, the school district is just average, according to a new study.
The report was released by Maryland Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit based in Baltimore and includes a breakfast report for the 24 school districts in the state of Maryland.  With more than 55,000 low-income students in Montgomery County, 49 percent are starting their day with a healthy school breakfast, according to the study.  The school district received a C+ grade for low-income student participation.
Grades were given in three categories: low-income student participation; use of the state-funded program that provides breakfast to all students called Maryland Meals for Achievement; and adoption of the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which allows high-poverty schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to students.
School breakfast means less hunger, better health, and improved educational outcomes for our children,” said Michael Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “We strongly encourage more schools across the state to offer breakfast at no charge to all students and serve breakfast after the school day begins so that more children may reap the many benefits of school breakfast.”
MCPS received an A+ grade for its involvement in the Maryland Meals for Achievement but did not score well in adopting the Federal Community Eligibility Provision since none of the schools that are eligible for the federal program in Montgomery County benefited from it in the 2017-2018 school year.
The report in its entirety can be viewed by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Councilmember Tom Hucker has outside part-time job. In 2016, Hucker said: "...we're all grownups and can make good decisions about our time..."

...“In addition, unlike the incumbent, I pledge not to collect any outside income other than my Council salary.”
Harris is referring to Hucker’s position at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.
As a councilmember, Hucker made $120,825 in 2016, according to a county employee website. The council job is deemed a full-time position...
Remember the Montgomery County Council Retreat in 2016: 

Floreen on public hearings run by Committees:  Floreen thinks all public hearings should be before the full Council.  Councilmembers are not "up to speed on issues" when they do not attend public hearings.

Riemer:  "immediate impact on schedule" with evening public hearings... "limit number of nights I go out during the week..."

Hucker:  "...we're all grownups and can make good decisions about our time..."

See the video of the Council's 2016 Retreat at this link:

MCPS to Rescind RFP for New Curriculum #ethics #procurement #ConflictofInterest #mcps

Dear Colleagues: 
As you know, MCPS has engaged in a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to select new curricula for grades Kindergarten through Grade 8, for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. As our curriculum review indicated, a new curriculum is needed to support teaching and learning. 
Unfortunately, we will need to postpone this important process. We recently learned that two MCPS staff members, the associate superintendent in the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs and the supervisor for English/Language Arts in the Department of Secondary Curriculum and Districtwide Programs, are retiring and intend to accept job offers with Discovery Education, one of the vendors that submitted a proposal in response to the RFP. These staff members have recused themselves from any further involvement in the RFP process. 
It is important to note that Discovery Education’s leadership acted proactively, diligently and collaboratively throughout this process. As soon as it was brought to the attention of Discovery Education’s leadership that these individuals were connected to the RFP process, the company, citing an abundance of caution, took the initiative and immediately withdrew from consideration. 
While these job offers do not appear to have influenced the RFP process, we want to ensure public confidence in the integrity of this effort. Therefore, Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith is recommending that the Board of Education rescind the current RFP so that a new RFP can be issued at a later time. 
We apologize for the disruption for our students and schools. We remain committed to acquiring a high quality curriculum, but it is critical that our teachers, students and families can have trust in the process. 
Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D. Chief Academic Officer Montgomery County Public Schools 850 Hungerford Drive, Room 129 Rockville, Maryland 20850 301-279-3127 301-279-3099 Fax

Monday, May 21, 2018

Webcast Wed. May 23rd: America’s Charter School Deserts: Up Close in the Washington Metro Area featuring Joseph Hawkins (Montgomery County)

2016–17 was one of the slowest growth years for charter schools in recent memory. Nobody knows for sure why this happened, but one hypothesis is saturation: With charters enjoying market shares of over 20 percent in some three dozen cities, and almost 50 percent in Washington, D.C., perhaps school supply is starting to meet parental demand, making new charters less necessary and harder to launch. If so, perhaps it’s time to look for new frontiers.
One option is to start more charter schools in affluent communities, which we surely support. But we couldn’t help but wonder: Are we overlooking neighborhoods in America that are already home to plenty of poor kids, and that contain the population density necessary to make school choice work? Especially communities in the inner-ring suburbs of flourishing cities, which are increasingly becoming magnets for poor and working-class families priced out of gentrifying areas?
That’s the question addressed by Fordham’s new study by Miami of Ohio assistant professor Andrew Saultz, Charter School Deserts: High-Poverty Neighborhoods with Limited Educational Options. Saultz and his team found that thirty-nine of forty-two charter states have at least one desert each—and the average number of deserts per state is a worrying 10.8.
Consider how this plays out in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The District of Columbia is home to a thriving, high-quality charter sector that has benefited from supportive public policies and ample private philanthropy. That’s all well and good—but the city’s affluence has put residency out of reach for many poor and working-class families. The District is home to roughly 37,000 poor children and 120 charter schools. Yet neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland, has many more low-income students—some 55,202 of them—and exactly zero charter schools. And in chronically low-performing Prince George’s County, Maryland, there are 81,055 low-income students, but just eleven charter schools.
Join us on May 23 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. for a summary of Fordham’s new study, a discussion about the charter school deserts located in the shadow of the Washington Monument, and an examination what might be done by philanthropists, policymakers, and others to irrigate them.
You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with @educationgadfly and #CharterDeserts.

Michael Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Robin Chait, Center City Public Charter Schools
Joseph Hawkins, Retired (formerly Westat)
Kimberlee Sia, KIPP Colorado

This event will be webcast. Please visit the Thomas B. Fordham's event page, at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 23rd, to watch the proceedings live.

Board of Ed member Jeanette Dixon Advice to Incoming BOE Member Brenda Wolff

In the Board of Education District 5 race there is now only one candidate.  Brenda Wolff is now presumed to be the next Board of Education member for the District 5 seat.  Her one opponent has dropped out of the race after moving out of the district. 

Current Board of Education member Jeanette Dixon has posted advice for Brenda Wolff on Twitter.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wyoming prosecutors never hesitated to pursue child sex crimes charges against Bill Bricker.

...Since Wyoming has no statute of limitations for most crimes, Spence and Teton County prosecutor Steve Weichman said they never hesitated about pursuing the case, despite the age of the allegations and the suspect. In fact, authorities there even made renovations to the county jail to accommodate Bricker's medical equipment, in anticipation of his arrival.
But Spence said her resolve to follow the trail only strengthened when she learned that, even in his retirement, Bricker still had contact with children near his home in Glen Arbor, Mich., where he spent his final years.
"My red flag went up when I learned he was volunteering to read to the kids and to play the guitar and sing. I realized he still had access," Spence said. She didn't specify where he was volunteering, and various schools in that area contacted by the Tribune denied that Bricker had been a volunteer...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

WTOP: “We should not be subsidizing the telecom industry for the work that we have to do,”

...Resident Sue Present, who has objected to the zoning changes, said she will focus on working to push the county to increase those application fees paid by the telecommunications industry, as well as getting companies to comply with regulations surrounding maintenance and adaptations to utility poles...

Natural Grass Can Take More

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fox5: Montgomery County to allow more cellphone antennas

Riemer makes Zoning Document Public Friday, Schedules Vote for Today #BusinessAsUsual

Sue Present Finds Source of Income for County that Councilmember Hans Riemer Missed

Montgomery County Council President Hans Reimer says Councilmembers seek budget increases totaling $21M over the Executive’s budget, and that the Council looked for ways to reduce Executive’s budget as offsets, but it was "tough" to find places to cut.(See 05/14 briefing, beginning at minute 6:27 - 

Try harder!!! 

1) Cut the Department of Techology Services (DTS) budget for the Tower Committee, and insist that wireless application fees be immediately increased so that the wireless industry fully covers costs for the reviews and related administrative services for antennas and cell towers, NOT TAXPAYERS (NOT THE BUDGET); 

2) Require DTS to adopt a high-volume surcharge (like Gaithersburg has done), so that none of our administrative agencies get overburdened with upcoming flood wireless applications, which are anticipated as soon as ZTA 18-02 is passed; and 


TODAY: Montgomery Co. Council to vote on cell tower placement

The Montgomery County Council is scheduled to vote on a measure that will amend how and where cell towers can be placed in the county on Wednesday.
The vote comes after the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee held a hearing on the plan earlier this month.
The zoning text amendment deals with current restrictions on heights, setbacks and enclosures required for equipment.
While telecommunications representatives have testified in favor of the changes they say are needed to deliver 5G wireless service to the region, a number of residents have raised concerns ranging from potential health impacts from radiation to property values.
Sue Present, a Hillandale area resident, said she is concerned about safety and lower property values.
“There are issues about whether the components can fall off,” she said referring to the antennae and equipment used to mount the devices.
She said she is also concerned about the ability of utility poles to withstand the weight of the antennae...

Silver Chips: Only a fool would extend school

by Arthi Thyagarajan, Staff Writer and Eric Feigen, Staff Writer
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) plan to close the ever-growing achievement gap between low and high income students with a new strategy: an extended school year. Two Silver Spring elementary schools have already extended the end of the 2018-2019 school year by five weeks. Arcola Elementary and Roscoe Nix Elementary were targeted because they have a particularly high number of students from economically disadvantaged families. The new initiative hopes to help these students boost their academic performance, but it also fails to recognize the issues of cost, effectiveness and negative attitudes that would result.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sue Present, "Please postpone action on ZTA 18-02....the foundation of administrative reviews and permitting processes that fail to serve the public interest, and the application fee structure where taxpayers subsidize the wireless industry, must be corrected first.",
County Council LMHosted ,
"Floreen's Office, Councilmember" ,,
"Leventhal's Office, Councilmember" ,,,,,,

Dear President Reimer and Members of the County Council,

Please postpone action on ZTA 18-02. It would be premature for the Council
to consider action on the ZTA at this time. Some of the amendments that have
been recommended by the PHED Committee are improvements over the original
ZTA. However, as you will see below, many problems remain with the ZTA, and
new problems have emerged. Moreover, as many residents have been asserting
since well before the ZTA was introduced, the foundation of administrative
reviews and permitting processes that fail to serve the public interest, and
the application fee structure where taxpayers subsidize the wireless
industry, must be corrected first.

In advance of the May 3rd PHED Committee Worksession, I sent a message to
the PHED Committee and to its Legislative Analyst Jeffrey Zyontz regarding
misleading and inaccurate information in the Worksession Packet.
Unfortunately, some of those inaccuracies have made their way into the
Council Packet, too. 

In my correspondence with the PHED Committee, I also discussed timing
issues, sharing that it was not until the day before the ZTA 18-02 Hearing,
March 19th, that a message came to me and to other concerned residents from
the CE’s staff that indicated a desire to work together to craft a local
solution. This message was an about-face: Our prior inquiries were
sidestepped, met with prolonged delays, or never answered at all, which
frustrated and stymied our efforts.
But we had nevertheless persevered in
developing our Residents’ Alternative ZTA (ALT-ZTA) solutions, even if not
as quickly as Councilmembers would have preferred. And, I attached to my
previous correspondence the slides that outline our ALT-ZTA solutions, which
are also attached herein.

On May 3rd, when other residents and I who had previously testified before
the Council at the ZTA Hearing arrived at the PHED Committee Worksession, we
were delighted when the CE’s Special Assistant, Joy Nurmi, greeted us and
assured us that the PHED Committee was not going to be taking any action on
the ZTA (no votes, just discussion). Ms. Nurmi graciously invited us to meet
with her and to work together. And we, of course, affirmatively responded.
Even after the Worksession outcome of the ZTA had morphed, and the PHED
Committee did take action, we remained optimistic. Promptly after the
Worksession, in preparation for the meeting with Ms. Nurmi, I prepared and
submitted a set of questions to the CE’s Director of the Department of
Permitting Services, Diane Schwartz Jones, seeking pertinent clarifications
and interpretations. 

As for the PHED Committee Worksession, Chair Floreen also indicated that
the Committee would be taking no action on the item – no votes or
recommendations – there would only be discussion. However, as the discussion
progressed, the Committee reversed course and arrived at some recommended
amendments. And, now, much to our surprise, the ZTA has been expedited to
the full Council for action (tomorrow, May 15, 2018), which undermines
the value of the residents’ collaborating with Ms. Nurmi to craft a local

I urge the Council to postpone action on ZTA 18-02.


Sue Present

1.     Application/Permit Fees and Taxes. Passing ZTA 18-02 without first
increasing Tower Committee application fees to make the applications
entirely supported by the applicants shifts added costs to Montgomery County
The information from the PHED Committee Packet, which
discusses the Executive’s budget, obscures the facts. Here are relevant

a.      Tower Committee application fees are subsidized by Montgomery
County taxpayers/residents. (see

b.      Tower Committee application fees have not been increased since

c.      According to CTC Expert Andrew Afflerbach, “it is more
time-consuming to evaluate applications for facilities in the PROW (public
right-of-way) than on private property.” See Exhibit 1, Declaration of
Andrew Afflerbach, p. 15,

d.      Dr. Afflerbach’s firm, CTC, has long been retained by the County to
provide technical evaluations and support services to the Tower Committee.
CTC is paid on an hourly basis for its services. Therefore, based upon Dr.
Afflerbach’s statement, CTC receives greater compensation for its work
concerning applications for facilities in the public rights-of-way.

e.      Mitsi Herrera told the PHED Committee that the Tower Committee
would need to come back to the Council to adjust fees this summer (at ~ min
 01:21:55 of the Worksession).

f.       Tower Committee records do not show meaningful evidence of pending
applications in Downtown Silver Spring. But the County anticipates a
significant number of applications in the future. At the 09/18/17 Small
Antenna Community Meeting, the County asserted that Verizon’s transmission
capacity in Downtown Silver Spring would begin to exhaust in 2018 (see slide
ommunity%20Meeting%20Sept%2018%202017%20v2.pd ). And the discussion at that
meeting asserted immediate transmission capacity needs in the downtown areas
for other providers, too. The Tower Committee’s interactive map does not
identify applications as having yet been filed in response to the asserted
pressing capacity needs in Downtown Silver Spring. However, the map does
identify plans for numerous applications that have not yet been filed.   In
addition, the PHED Committee’s discussion at ~min 01:18:45 recounted that
the County anticipates 700 upcoming installations.   

g.      ZTA 18-02 is scheduled to take effect 20 days after its passage.
Thus, any application filed with the Tower Committee will be filed with
bargain-rate application fees, on the taxpayers’/residents’ dime, until the
application fees are corrected.

h.      At the 06/14/17 Wireless Technology Community Meeting, the County
identified as a “process improvement” to “Require 100% post‐construction
inspection to ensure deployments are built as promised” (and it therefore
recognized the deficits in DPS processes.) See slide 12,

i.       No DPS process improvements were discussed at the PHED Committee

At the Public Hearing on ZTA 18-02, I was among several that testified
about the need for the Council to first address both the fees and the
administrative deficiencies within these agencies. The Council received data
collected by Rick Meyer, MC4T, which underscores the need for corrective
action first. The Tower Committee needs an overhaul. I hope that Director
Jones’s responses to my questions will help clarify why DPS seems to be
issuing many permits without proper regard for the regulatory standards and
processes. Please consider our Residents’ ALT-ZTA solutions to provide
residents the fair and appropriate protections that have been sorely lacking
for many years. See slide 7. 

2.     Conditional Use – New/Replacment Poles. The PHED Committee has
recommended a clarification to the Conditional Use language for New Poles
that is helpful in clarifying the intent of the original text. By removing
previously inserted words “from any property line” from line 173, the text
correctly provides that the new pole must meet the 1:1 standard for the full
height of the facility or the 300-foot dwelling setback, whichever provides
the greater setback. 

I am concerned, however, that the Council has also received misleading and
confusing information in its Packet on this issue concerning when a
Conditional Use is required for new/replacement poles in the public
Please note that at the PHED Committee Worksession, Mitsi
Herrera offered this clarification at ~ min.  01:21:55: “In the residential
area, if you want to put in a new pole or you want to replace a pole it
requires a Conditional Use. The ZTA makes no change to that. It continues to
require a Conditional Use.” Unfortunately a passage in the Council’s Packet
that is included from the PHED Committee Packet may add confusion: “Only
utility poles can withstand the stress of antennas. Where there are no
utility poles, the replacement of a light pole with an antenna that has a
street light on it would require conditional use approval.”  

As the Planning Board’s recommendation explains, antennas and their
equipment are often not attached to pre-existing utility poles; replacement
utility poles are used to support heavy antennas and equipment. The ZTA
“[e]stablishes new regulations concerning utility poles (poles that support
electric wires), streetlight poles and parking lot lights. In order to
support antennas and equipment, typically the pre-existing pole must be
removed and a stronger and taller replacement pole is needed. Under ZTA
18-02, streetlights, utility poles, and parking lot lights in
Commercial/Residential, Industrial, and Employment zones, can be replaced as
a limited use under certain conditions as highlighted below.” See page
circle 23. ZTA 18-02 only provides Limited Use standards for new/replacement
poles in the Commercial/Residential, Industrial, and Employment zones. To be
clear, new/replacement utility poles for the support of wireless
telecommunications facilities continue to be Conditional Uses, as do any
poles that would be deployed in the right-of-way of a residential area with
underground utility service would be. 

In the zones in which ZTA 18-02 does provide Limited Use standards, those
standards are inadequate (inadequate to meet protective community standard
as Limited Use) because the ZTA blindly permits additional height to utility
poles without establishing a base height or regulating a maximum height for
the facilities. Residents’ testimony documented that some of these
replacement utility poles result in facilities that are the heights of
macro-towers. So, this is another example of where the ZTA provides
inequitable protections to residents who do not live in detached-housing
neighborhoods. By contrast, our ALT-ZTA offers high levels of protections
for the residents of all neighborhoods and communities, whether the
replacement concerns a utility pole or whether it concerns a County

As previously mentioned, Rick Meyer, of MC4T, has documented significant
inconsistencies in past practices of DPS’s authorizations for the
deployments of antenna attachments to replacement and new utility poles in
residential areas.
I look forward to understanding much more about DPS’s
permitting decisions for new pole deployments, and hope that the DPS
Director’s responses will help explain why some of the Tower Committee’s
recommendations, which were conditioned upon reviews by the Hearing
Examiner, were issued permits by DPS without prior OZAH reviews.

3.     Property Values. The Council has received misleading information in
the Packet about property values. Montgomery County already concluded that
“the placement of small cells, particularly in the rights-of-way, presents
significant challenges and risks to communities including: Increased safety
risks, Negative impacts on adjoining property, local businesses, other
utilities, and on redevelopment projects…” Montgomery County, partnering
with the local Maryland governments of Gaithersburg, Takoma Park, Rockville,
Poolesville, Berwyn Heights, Capitol Heights, College Park, Greenbelt, Havre
de Grace, LaPlata, Laurel, New Carrollton, Perryville, Pocomoke City,
University Park, and Westminster, and with other local governments from
across the United States, shared the conclusions about the negative impacts
of wireless antenna facilities upon neighboring property values in Comments
to the FCC on March 8, 2017, under the name “Smart Communities Siting
Coalition.” These Comments are bolstered with the “Report and Declaration of
David E. Burgoyne for the Smart Communities Siting Coalition,” which was
attached in Exhibit 3. That report concludes that wireless facilities of all
sizes diminish property values.

As explained in my correspondence to the PHED Committee, Burgoyne
recognizes that larger facilities, and those without concealments, can have
greater adverse effects than smaller facilities with good concealments. That
is why, to protect residents, our ALT-ZTA establishes the standard
Completely Concealed Facility, which is a higher standard for concealments
than is required by ZTA 18-02. And Burgoyne indicates that it is important
to consider the full, potential impact of a facility, as it can be expanded
through the Spectrum Act. Our ALT-ZTA heeds this advice, but ZTA 18-02 does
not. Burgoyne also recognizes that adverse property value impacts can be
minimized if equipment is vaulted. So, we consulted with a vendor that has
developed waterproof vaults (proven to withstand hurricane conditions). And,
after doing so, and after reviewing other jurisdictions’ vaulting
requirements, we established standards for vaulting equipment in our

4.     Setbacks. The PHED Committee’s recommendations restore the 60-foot
setback protections from single-family homes or duplexes to what has been
“small cell” antennas on poles in the current Zoning Ordinance, and to
Size-A classification antennas on poles, in the ZTA. This is an improvement
over the ZTA as proposed. However, ZTA 18-02 continues to offer no similar
protections for those residents that live in multifamily homes, or for the
residents whose homes are in the combination commercial-residential zones.

These are the homes are where you will find our adult children, our aging
parents, and where many families live because they find single-family
detached or duplex homes in the County out of reach. Please provide these
residents with equitable protections under ZTA 18-02.

For these residents, ZTA 18-02 technically requires antennas on poles to be
setback only 10-feet from their homes. And this setback offers very limited
protection. As noted on page 9 of your Packet, the PHED Committee elected to
ignore the encroachments that would extend into the setback (such as a
6-foot balcony or a 3-foot bay window). And the offset/expanse of the
antennas on poles has been ignored, too. Essentially, the distance from a
balcony to an antenna could approach zero. Please recall that your CTC
expert previously expressed concerns that where an antenna would be attached
to a utility pole, sited within 20 feet or so (from the dwelling), the RF
emissions levels could exceed FCC limits.
 . The ZTA, if passed, could
give a foreboding new meaning to the jingle from our old landline days,
“Reach Out and Touch Someone.”

5.     Building Heights. As is the case with setbacks in detached
residential zones, the PHED Committee has recommended restoring the existing
building height standards in residential zones, which improves protections
for residents in these zones. However, there are new loopholes: 1) This
restoration of the aforementioned 60-foot setbacks applies only to a Size-A
classification antenna -- not to the larger Size B, C, D, or E
classification antennas – so there is no setback from a detached home to
antennas that can be as large as 15 feet in height; and 2) single-family
residential neighborhoods both include and abut buildings for which building
height attachment standards are reduced to 20 feet. As a result, many
single-family homes and duplexes are threatened by the ZTA building height
reductions to 20 feet and the complete absence of setback standards for
antennas of all sizes that would be attached to these buildings. 

Consider the example in the photo below. The detached dwelling at 8010
Flower Ave., Takoma Park, is zoned R-40. It neighbors a property zoned CRT,
which is among the zones that the ZTA would reduce building height standards
to 20 feet for the attachments of all size antennas, and their equipment,
too (or allows for the equipment to be ground-mounted along the property
line). As I previously explained in my ZTA testimony and other
correspondence to Councilmembers, these antennas and their equipment
(droning fans, back-up generators, and motors) could be close enough to the
neighboring homes to create disturbing noise, vibrations, and certainly
visual impacts. Furthermore, the two-story commercial building could take on
the appearance of a three-story building because the ZTA allows for an
infinite number of antennas and equipment cabinets to be roof mounted. That
could corrupt the residential neighborhood character. 

Please note that the Council is considering amendments to solar panel
legislation on Tuesday, too (ZTA 18-01). If the owners of 8010 Flower Ave.
would want to install solar panels on their roof, or if they have already
done so, then the provisions in ZTA 18-02 that authorize installation of
antennas could interfere with residential solar collection.

The ZTA’s reductions in Building Height standards to 20 feet in
multi-family, commercial-residential, and employment zones poses the same
problems and inequities for residents who live in dwellings in multifamily
zones and combination commercial-residential zones as is mentioned above
concerning “Setbacks.”  I await a response to my request to DPS Director
Jones for clarifications and interpretations of Zoning Ordinance provisions;
pertinent here are my questions concerning alignment with other sections of
the Zoning Ordinance that provide resident protections. DPS permitting
practices suggest those other sections of the Zoning Ordinance that provide
resident protections are not applied, and these residents have virtually no
protections from an infinite number of large antennas on building roofs and
façades. Please ensure that the character of these residents’ neighborhoods
and communities, and their quality of life, is respected and protected, too.

6.     Double Poles. At the PHED Committee Worksession, Vice Presidents
from PEPCO and Verizon testified that they foresaw obstacles to migrating
all pole franchisee attachers and complying with the ZTA requirement to
remove any pre-existing utility pole within the required 180 days after the
installation of a new utility pole. Presuming that “after installation”
means upon the issuance of a Use and Occupancy Permit (U&O), I find this
6-month grace period to be inconsistent with the DPS permitting process, and
unrealistic, based upon the utility VPs’ statements and my personal

Previous plans that I have reviewed, attached to Tower Committee
applications, assert migration of all attachers to the pre-existing poles,
and the expectation that pre-existing poles would be removed. See for
example It
would seem in the spirit of Section 8-27 of the Buildings Chapter of the
Code to require the “clear[ing of] all construction and demolition debris”
and “restor[ation of] the established grade of the surrounding land” prior
to the issuance of a U&O. The discussion of double-pole issues that
transpired at the PHED Committee Worksession demonstrated that that there
are ongoing problems with double poles. My own experiences certainly bear
this out. For many years, I have worked to get numerous double utility poles
on my road, including the set that my house faces, removed. My journey has
included contacts with multiple DPS personnel, correspondence with the
County Council, communications with my district Councilmember’s staff,
complaints to the Maryland PSC and PEPCO, follow-up with what PEPCO
oxymoronically calls its “reliability contractor,” and most recently with

It should be patently obvious that once a U&O is issued and PEPCO begins
receiving its rent from the wireless permit holder, DPS’s direct and
indirect leverage over PEPCO for removal of the old pole and restoration of
the site would diminish.  It would make more sense for DPS to maintain
permitting control. One way to do so would be to only issue temporary
permits until all work has been completed. Our ALT-ZTA provides more
stringent, resident-protective standards, which include:

a.     (Application Standards) - If the facility will be located on real
property or on personal property (i.e. a structure) that is owned by a
person or entity other than the applicant, then those such property owners
must be co-applicants on all applications.

b.     (Compliance and Enforcement) - DPS shall issue no final permit or
authorization to operate a wireless facility until DPS has conducted an
on-site final inspection of the premises, to verify that the facility has
been built as promised, and to document the site as being free of any
pre-existing support structures, any retired or abandoned transmission
equipment, or construction debris.

7.     Signs. Apparently taking a cue from our testimonies and comments,
the C.E.’s staff recommended a text change to the ZTA to allow antenna
attachments on signs.  The intent of this addition is appreciated. But
“Signs” has been added to the ZTA without care and essential protections,
creating new loopholes and disharmony in the Zoning Ordinance. 

a.      Loopholes. This text change fails to set the same standards for
signs as for parking lot light poles, restricting only Size-A antenna
attachments and requiring 60-foot setbacks from dwellings. As a result, the
addition of “Signs” creates loopholes, including in the detached residential
zones where the PHED Committee has attempted to mitigate some of the
existing loopholes.

b.      Disharmony with Zoning Ordinance. This text change also fails to
recognize the Sign standards and the administrative processes for review and
approval, in Divisions 6 and 7 of the Zoning Ordinance, and therefore
creates additional disharmony for Section 3.5.14.C. Please recall that my
testimony raised other issues of disharmony between these telecommunications
sections and other sections of the Zoning Ordinance, such as Section 4.1.7.
My inquiry to Director Jones seeks DPS interpretations of these apparent
disharmonies as well as conflicts between the two telecommunications
sections, Sections 3.5.2.C. and 3.5.14.C. Our ALT-ZTA, in addition to
providing solutions that are more resident-protective, aligns
telecommunications solutions so that they are harmonious with the Zoning
Ordinance. See slide 9.

8.     Legislative Intent of ZTA 14-04 – Loopholes. I alerted the PHED
Committee that contrary to the statements in Mr. Zyontz’s memo, ZTA 14-04,
which allowed for “small cell” antennas on existing structures, obviously
did anticipate antennas on poles, NOT just on buildings. The following video
clip of the Planning Board meeting, at ~ min. 05:53:00, provides the
Planning Board’s discussion of ZTA 14-04, which includes the presentation by
Mitsi Herrera and CTC’s Lee Afflerbach
&clip_id=1202). The discussion both details and includes slides of poles for
the small cells anticipated by ZTA 14-04. Nevertheless, the mis-assertions
of the legislative intent of ZTA 14-04 that had appeared in the PHED
Committee’s Packet have been carried over -- see page 8 of the Council’s

a.      Mr. Zyontz recognized this discrepancy in his presentation during
the PHED Committee Worksession, at ~ min. 56. But he explained that
regardless of the prior intent of 14-04, ZTA 14-04 only provided 60-foot
setbacks from “small cell” antennas on poles, not other size antennas. So,
ZTA 18-02 must provide additional protections to residents from larger
antennas attached to poles.

b.      However, as noted above, by reducing the heights of buildings to
which antennas of all sizes can be attached to 20 feet, ZTA 18-02 creates a
new loophole. Without providing the compensatory 60-foot dwelling setbacks,
any dwelling that neighbors a building that is eligible for the ZTA 18-02
relaxed building height attachment standard of 20 feet is at risk for the
adverse impacts of large and numerous antenna attachments, with no setback
at all. This needs to be fixed!

As is noted on slide 3, our ALT-ZTA adopts the CE’s proposed antenna size
chart. But our ALT-ZTA favors solutions that eliminate loopholes and protect
all Montgomery County residents.