Tuesday, January 16, 2018

WED 1/17: Off Camera, Off Site County Council Meeting to Discuss Public Comments #NoVideo

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Rockville Library Board Room #311 9:30 Council Retreat

A.Administrative Items:

Council calendar 2018

2018 Council appointments

Update - Council Office Building renovations

Update - Council Office Building security

Town hall meetings and community engagement

B.Open Floor for Councilmembers’ comments


Former MCPS Employee Indicted on Charges of Sexually Touching 10-Year-Old Girl

Former MCPS Employee Indicted on Charges of Sexually Touching 10-Year-Old Girl: Gaithersburg resident was fired from school system in May

...Roy “Andy” Simmons III, 41, was indicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court grand jury, according to court filings posted Friday
He was arrested in October in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred in November 2016 at Carderock Springs Elementary School in Potomac...

School Board Comes Out in Opposition to Bus Inspection Bill

School Board Comes Out in Opposition to Bus Inspection Bill

The short list for NYC’s next schools chief

Josh Starr, the ex-superintendent of Montgomery County, Md., and Stamford, Conn., schools was a runner-up to Fariña last time and is still a national leader in progressive education administration circles. He possesses New York roots and played a brief role as school-accountability czar during the Bloomberg administration...


Monday, January 15, 2018

In this #MeToo, moment, let’s not forget abused children .@mcps .@mocoboe .@KathleenDumais1

In this #MeToo and #TimesUp moment, just as we’ve been shocked by the abuse, we are also disturbed by the enablers, the seemingly good people who either knew or strongly suspected that something foul was afoot but chose not to act.

For each persistent abuser, there are enablers who chose not to act...
...Every state and territory has enacted penalties that range from civil fines to criminal charges for those who knowingly fail to report child abuse — except Maryland and Wyoming...
 ...• prevented the Montgomery County school officials from simply reprimanding charismatic veteran teacher John Vigna for his inappropriate contact with children, while letting him stay in the classroom for decades.
• emboldened the numerous teachers at Vigna’s and Carraway’s schools to defy their bosses’ assurances that they’d handle the problem, and do what Maryland law has long required: report to police or child protective services... 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Number of Students Taking the SAT Jumped by More Than Half, City Says

From The New York Times, by reporter Elizabeth A. Harris. Full story here.

The number of New York City public school students taking the SATs shot up last year, after the city offered the test free during the school day.
The city’s education department said that 61,800 high school juniors took the test last year, a 51 percent increase from the year before.
Phil Weinberg, the deputy chancellor whom Ms. Fariña credited as the person responsible for the initiative, said the city paid about $2.2 million to make the SAT free to every student who wanted to take it — Ms. Fariña said that even some students at the Rikers Island jail complex participated last year.

Senate Bill 103: Task Force to Study the Impact of Student Cell Phone Use in the Classroom

FOR the purpose of establishing the Task Force to Study the Impact of Student Cell Phone 4 Use in the Classroom; providing for the composition, chair, and staffing of the Task 5 Force; prohibiting a member of the Task Force from receiving certain compensation, 6 but authorizing the reimbursement of certain expenses; requiring the Task Force to 7 study certain matters; requiring the Task Force to report its findings to the Governor 8 and the General Assembly on or before a certain date; providing for the termination 9 of this Act; and generally relating to the Task Force to Study the Impact of Student 10 Cell Phone Use in the Classroom


Thursday, January 11, 2018

WSJ: iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors

By David Benoit
Updated Jan. 7, 2018 7:28 p.m. ET
The iPhone has made Apple Inc. and Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars. Now some big shareholders are asking at what cost, in an unusual campaign to make the company more socially responsible.

A leading activist investor and a pension fund are saying the smartphone maker needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction...


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Md. Gov. Hogan slams regional schools, calls for inspector general

...The Maryland State Education Association, which represents teachers in Maryland public schools, called Hogan’s statements “an attack on public education.” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who is running for governor, said the current state board of education, whose members are appointed by the governor, already has the power to conduct audits of school systems. “Right now, he has the ability to do that.”
Baker said that if the governor really wanted to help school systems, “Maybe he should meet with superintendents once a week.”
In Montgomery County, Janis Sartucci, with the Parents Coalition, whose members have been sharp critics of spending and management practices in the local school system, welcomed Hogan’s plan for an education inspector general.
“It’s long overdue and desperately needed,” said Sartucci. “If the governor is looking at bringing in additional resources and additional oversight, we would fully support that.”...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

@mcps driver Alfonso Merma says his bus was stopped when it slid off Tulip Lane in Potomac. Teenage special needs student and an aide on board.

Parents are upset after Superintendent Jack Smith left tonight’s budget meeting early. They wanted to ask him about the former lunch aide at Clover Elementary School aide, Sean Kelley, who was arrested for child porn distribution.

Full Report:  http://wjla.com/news/local/community-meeting-addresses-arrest-of-teachers-aide-charged-with-possession-of-child-porn

ABC7: “Where were all the school board members?” - Cloverly Elementary School Parent.

Full Report:  http://wjla.com/news/local/community-meeting-addresses-arrest-of-teachers-aide-charged-with-possession-of-child-porn

MoCo Fire & Rescue: MCPS Bus Appears to Have Slipped on Icy Street this AM

MCPS Parent, "You can't even keep them safe."

Full Report: http://wjla.com/news/local/community-meeting-addresses-arrest-of-teachers-aide-charged-with-possession-of-child-porn

ABC7: Parents confront MCPS leaders, after lunch aide charged with possession of child porn

As Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith walked out of a budget meeting early on Monday night, parents were furious.

“(You all) know what we were here for,” said one parent.

They were there to ask him about Sean Kelley.

Before his arrest, Kelley worked as a part-time lunch aide at Cloverly Elementary School.

He’s now charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

“He is charged with three counts of distribution of imagery of a minor engaged in sexual conduct and seven counts of possession of imagery of an individual under the age of 16 engaged in sexual conduct,” said a spokesperson for Maryland State Police.

After Dr. Smith left the meeting, parents directed their questions to Chief of Staff Dr. Henry Johnson...


Friday, January 5, 2018

Breaking: Cloverly Elementary aide Sean Kelley arrested for possession of child porn. @ABC7News has been investigating him for months. More on http://wjla.com tonight.

Montgomery County Council President Admits Public Hearings are Staged

Thanks to County Council President Hans Riemer for admitting in print what the Council has been doing for years.  County Council public hearings are not public at all, but staged to support the pre-determined Council position.  Likewise, County agencies take their lead from the County Council and exclude public comment in favor of industry representatives speaking freely and often at Tower Committee meetings.   

...Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large) said members from his staff picked the people who testified at the meeting based upon the analysis of the bill they gave in their requests to speak at the public hearing.
“We wanted people who had some content... Those who were here had written us extensive emails, you know, even providing a thorough analysis of the issue, so we felt that they would be constructive and helpful.”...
...But even when members of the public can ask to speak, it is not an absolute right.
“Just because you request does not mean you we will be accepted,” Reimer said...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

State’s Highest Court To Consider Rockville Teacher’s Whistleblower Case Against MCPS

State’s Highest Court To Consider Rockville Teacher’s Whistleblower Case Against MCPS: Richard Montgomery teacher asked for legal protection after speaking to the press

The Teens Trapped Between a Gang and the Law

Read the full story in The New Yorker here. By author Jonathan Blitzer, January 1, 2018.

On Long Island, unaccompanied minors are caught between the violence of MS-13 and the fear of deportation.

Juliana grew up with a single memory of her father. He was sitting in the half-light of evening on the porch of their home, in a small town in El Salvador, while her mother cooked dinner in the kitchen. A man in a black mask emerged from the darkness. Juliana heard three gunshots, and saw her father fall off his chair, vomiting blood. She was three years old at the time, and afterward she wondered if the killing had actually happened. The most tangible detail was the man in the mask, who came to seem more present in her life than her father ever was. Juliana used to find her mother by the windows, pulling back a corner of the curtains to be sure that he had not returned. “It was like that man went on living with us,” Juliana told me. One day when she was older, her mother said that a gang called the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, had killed her father for refusing to pay a tax on a deli that he operated out of the house.

For five years after the killing, the family moved every six months, staying with relatives throughout El Salvador, trying to keep ahead of the gang. In 2011, after Juliana’s mother, Ramona, testified against the killer, a member of MS-13 tried to stab her at a soccer game, where she was selling refreshments. She escaped, and fled the country, leaving Juliana and her two younger sisters at an aunt’s house, because she couldn’t afford to bring them with her. She went to Brentwood, on Long Island, where she had relatives, and took a job cleaning houses. A few years later, she was returning home from work, when she got a call. “What I need is money to pay a lawyer for the people who have been affected by what you’ve said,” a male voice told her. “I know the people of the neighborhood. I know your family, your kids, your daughter.” One of Juliana’s schoolmates, a sixteen-year-old boy who belonged to MS-13, had kidnapped her from her aunt’s house; for weeks, she was raped and beaten. She managed to call her mother one afternoon, and together they plotted her escape.

Sexual misconduct in Annapolis? Women say it’s a hidden — but real — problem

...Instead, many women informally trade experiences and warnings with friends and trusted colleagues.
“There is this vague sense that you could go to legislative ethics or to the presiding officers or to (House Administrator) Barbara Oakes,” the former staffer said. “But if you are in the minority party, you aren’t getting in the speaker’s office.”
“Instead, everybody just warns everybody else,” she said. “Female staffers who are hired by more experienced female staffers get told ‘don’t go to that office alone.’ Everyone just warns everyone instead of dealing with the individual.”
#MeToo Maryland

Lawmakers and lobbyists in Maryland say they expect the issue of sexual harassment and misconduct borne of the #MeToo social media movement to be part of the 90-day legislative session that begins Jan. 10...
...In that story, Havard detailed her experiences as an intern covering the 2013 session, During that time, she said she was subject to harassment by three lawmakers  — a Republican and two Democrats...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Request for MoCo Tower Committee to Table Inaccurate, Incomplete Applications (Including Blair HS) and to Include Public Comment in Process as Per MoCo Regulation COMCOR 02.58E.01.05(b)

Today, the Montgomery County Transmission Facility Coordinator Group (Tower Committee) is meeting at 2 PM to consider a number of applications from cell tower vendors.  Among the applications to be considered today are a number of very large radio/cell towers on or near fire stations around the County.  

These applications appear to be going before the Tower Committee without public notice, review or input.  The Parents' Coalition made these applications public just yesterday.  Why didn't Montgomery County make these applications public?  

In reviewing these applications we have discovered that one of these new very tall towers is slated to be constructed on the Montgomery Blair High School baseball field.  To date, no school communities have supported the construction of a cell tower on public school land.  Many MCPS schools have been very vocal about their opposition to these commercial construction projects on school land.  What is the position of the Blair High School parents?  What is the position of the neighbors of Blair High School?  

Below is an e-mail sent today from Sue Present to the Tower Committee asking that these applications be tabled due to inaccurate information, incomplete information, and due to the absence of community notice and opportunity to comment as per Montgomery County Regulations. 

From: suepresent 
Date: Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 11:06 AM
To: "Williams, Marjorie"
Cc: "Schaeffer, Matt" , "Bowser, Ted" , "Niblock, David" , frookard@wsscwater.com, Gregory.russ@montgomeryplanning.org, "Williamson, Thomas A." , Boyd_Lawrence@mcpsmd.org, Ike Leggett , "Miller, Judy" , WPCA , "Morgan, Carl" , "Segal, Sonny" , "Royalty, Clifford"

Dear Margie,


I appreciate your having released the applications for the new radio communications towers, yesterday. There has been woefully insufficient time to thoroughly examine these applications, which are on today’s agenda. However, in focusing my attention on TFCG application 201712-05, the one that is identified for Fire Station 16, I have already discovered significant flaws/concerns.

1)      Co-location Opportunity. The applicants identify the co-location alternatives that they dismissed within a 2-mile radius, and explain their rationale. They identify a lattice tower registered to MNCPPC, which the application says is 265’ in height, and explain that they dismiss it because as a radio broadcast tower it is “hot.”

Presumably, this is the 247’-high (not 265’ high) radio broadcast tower that is located at Sligo Creek Golf Course. It is the tower at which Verizon received the TFCG’s “recommendation of application 201612-05 to attach twelve 72'-high panel antennas at the 120' level, and the Planning Board subsequently approved the installation. Thus, for Verizon, the radio tower being “hot” was not an issue.

As is explained in the applicant response dated December 13, 2017, to meet the applicant’s need for this proposed radio communications, the attachments are needed at a height on the structure of 180’.  Under the circumstances, this applicant provides inadequate clarification as to why it cannot attach at the equivalent height (which I presume to be approximately 197’ on the nearby 247’ Sligo Creek Golf Course radio tower) when Verizon has already demonstrated its ability to attach to the Sligo Golf Course radio tower.

2)      Land Authorizations. In my previous communication to the Tower Committee, dated December 29, 2017, I alerted the Committee to the restrictive covenant governing Blair Local Park (and attached a copy). At the time of that message I was uncertain of the proposed location. It now seems evident that the plan is to locate the very large monopole on Blair Local Park. But, as previously explained, the restrictive covenant prohibits the use of the Blair Local Park land for any use other than Public Open Space. The proposed radio tower use is thus prohibited without modifications to the restrictive covenant. 

In addition, I raised concerns about easements. The application (overall site plan C-2) references “existing easement.” The easements, which of course were improperly conferred with the original Nextel/Sprint lease, indicated that they would cease when the telecommunications facilities became “obsolete.” The telecommunications facilities became obsolete when the lease was terminated and all telecommunications facilities were removed from the property, and the structure took on the sole purpose of a light standard, in 2015. There are no current easements in the County Land Records. I assert that without proper State authorization, any easements that would facilitate a communications tower would contravene the restrictive covenant.

3)      Monopole Height. The applicant’s justification – identifying other prospective users and the wishes of the manager of the land (for whom there would be greater revenue generated from the higher tower) – is inadequate for the monopole height of 195’. The facts demonstrate that the applicant’s needs can be met with a structure no higher than 180’ in height.

Although speculative, the additional information provided in this application that supports the State Highway Administration’s interest in communication space at this approximate location should bolster further exploration of siting on the substantial SHA parcel that abuts Fire Station 16 and Blair Local Park, between University Blvd. E. and the beltway, or upon other even more appropriate State Highway land.
Based upon these comments and those that you have received from a few other members of the public, it appears that the Tower Coordinator did not adhere to COMCOR 02.58E.01.05 in “recommending” to the TFCG the location of Blair Local Park for this monopole. Adequate consideration has not been given, per that regulation, for:
·        zoning standards for siting a telecommunications transmission facility;
·        effect of the telecommunications transmission facility on the land owning agency;
·        co-location options; and
·        potential impacts on the surrounding area(s).

And, you have received direct comments from only a few members of the public. That is because there has been no public process of notification and public input for almost all of these proposed facilities)as noted in my previous message, the land owner(s) failed to follow COMCOR 02.58E.01.05(b).

So, I urge the Tower Committee to POSTPONE the review of TFCG application 201612-05 and of all the applications on today’s agenda for NEW MCRCS Telecommunications Towers/Monopoles to provide for the Land Owning Agencies, the Tower Coordinator, and the Tower Committee to adhere to all regulations articulated in COMCOR 02.58E. Postponing these applications would provide the applicant a necessary do-over. The County needs to provide the surrounding communities where these facilities are proposed with appropriate due process, and to treat them with respect, too.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sue Present

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Parks is Putting Up Second, New 195' Cell Tower on Blair Baseball Field. Tower will be Visible from Eastern Middle School and Beyond! Application Obtained and Made Public Only on This Site.

In November, the Montgomery County Planning Board voted to construct a new 128' cell tower on the Blair High School baseball field.  The Montgomery Blair PTSA, staff and neighbors were silent on this proposal and so Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson had no trouble leading the Planning Board to a 4-1 vote to approve the new cell tower.  

That was so easy that Montgomery Parks is now putting up a second TALLER cell/radio tower on the Blair High School baseball field.

The Montgomery County Tower Committee votes to build this new, taller 195' cell tower tomorrow, Wednesday, January 3, 2018.

This time Montgomery Parks is not even bothering to ask for any community input.  Why bother?  The public comment that was received was ignored by the Montgomery County Planning Board when they voted on the first, smaller tower.

The second new tower will be 195 feet tall and will be visible even from Eastern Middle School down University Boulevard.

The red circle shows the top of the new,
195' cell tower on Blair baseball field
as it will be viewed from Eastern MS
down University Blvd.  This will be
one TALL, VISIBLE cell tower.

Here is the Blair Baseball field cell tower Application that Montgomery County, Montgomery Parks, MCPS and the Tower Committee did not want the public to see before tomorrow's approval.