Virtual Town Hall Meeting Transcript (Thursday, October 18, 2007)
Sabrina Baron from Eastern Montgomery
As one of your constituents in Takoma Park and as a member of the DC/
MD Neighbors for Takoma Transit group, I greatly appreciate your
recent efforts to make sure that our concerns about transit and
safety priorities are met in any proposal for joint development at
the Takoma Metro station.
It was especially helpful that you asked for the WMATA Board to delay
a vote on this issue.
I would like to ask if you can please resolve what WMATA plans to do,
and if you would also please weigh in with them again, to delay this
project until problems can be resolved.
Mr. Leggett: Unfortunately, the WMATA board has this item on their October 25th agenda. I, along with other elected county officials, have asked WMATA to remove this item from further consideration until all of the outstanding issues we have raised have been resolved. I will continue to work with the community and all impacted parties to obtain positive results on this matter. WMATA has indicated that they plan to address our concerns prior to a vote by the Board. My preference at this time would simply be to remove the item from consideration altogether and this is what we will continue to work to achieve. Thanks for the question.
David from Rockville
Driving around, there are way too many road signs that are directly obscured by overgrowth of tree branches and other vegetation, as well as signs that while clear of vegetation or branches - they are obscured on approach. These conditions are a public safety hazard. I have seen obscured pedestrian crossing/crosswalk signs, road curve signs, upcoming intersection signs, upcoming traffic light signs, deer crossing signs. The effort is made to erect them - is there any regular maintenance patrol?
Mr. Leggett: Thank you for your question. What you have described is a significant problem that needs more attention. I will examine the use of regular patrols throughout the County to supplement our current efforts. Please notify the Department of Public Works and Transportation when you observe such problems. The number to call is (240) 777-6000. This is an area that needs more funding and I will make it a greater priority due to the safety concerns that you so correctly observed.
Kandice from Rockville
I am a county resident and employee of Montgomery County Government. I would like to ask the County Executive Isiah Leggett why county staff has not been granted an Employee Appreciation Day for all their on-going hard work and dedication. As we continue to provide quality service to the citizens of this community, we help make Montgomery County a better place to live.
Mr. Leggett: Thank you for your question and your dedicated service to Montgomery County residents. In addition to annual and sick leave, County employees are granted 3 personal leave days. We will continue to evaluate the benefits we currently provide to our valued employees to ensure they are consistent with, or above, those of similar employees in both the public and private sector. And, by the way, I try to make every day an employee appreciation day.
Jack Mansfield from Bethesda-Chevy Chase
Your stance on dis-inviting the Venezuela ambassador was a slap in the face to a guest in this country with an offer to help a certain segment of the Montgomery County population.
Would you consider doing the same to say the Russian ambassador or the Egyptain ambassador who both are from countries with dictators as leaders and both who hate us as much as Hugo Chavez???
Mr. Leggett: Thank you for your question. Yes, I would reject any outside or foreign overtures for assistance if, as I believed in this case, it were primarily a public relations gesture and could be counter-productive to the County's interests. I welcome assistance and support that is consistent with the County's objective of providing the services and programs valued by our residents, without political motivations.
GaŽl from Not from Montgomery County
Would it be possible improve public transportation from surrounding counties into Montgomery County, specifically from Frederick? I would gladly take the bus from Urbana into Rockville instead of driving on I270 if I did not have to change buses twice.
Mr. Leggett: Thank you for your question. I have been a strong advocate of the Corridor Cities Transitway. This transitway would provide direct service between Frederick County and the Shady Grove Metro Station. In the meantime, we need to enhance existing bus services between Urbana and Shady Grove. The long-term solution will require additional financial support to the State Transportation Trust Fund that could help advance this and other major transit initiatives.
Ellen from Bethesda-Chevy Chase
How do you define "Smart Growth" and how might it be applied in Montgomery County inlight of anticipated population growth and economic diversity of that population?
Mr. Leggett: I would define it as a proper balance between the location of residential units, jobs, transportation, schools and other infrastructure needs within a particular location of the County. It is the objective of our planning procedures to locate our various needs in a manner that does not adversely affect costs, the environment, recreation, and other quality-of-life factors that residents expect.
Concerned County resident from Up County
I live in Damascus off of rt 27/Ridge road.This road is two lane.It takes me 30 minutes, some times more to travel 5 miles on this road.The county keeps approving home constructions in Arrora hills (clarkesburg) and damscus, BUT NOT EXTENTENDING THE ROADS. I was wondering, if the county is aware of this or just acting ignorant of this fact.
I wouls appreciate any insight into this.
Mr. Leggett: Widening Route 27 or constructing a bypass has been proposed but was rejected. The construction of Woodfield Road Extended, due to begin in Spring of 2009, should provide some relief. However, I believe we may need to revisit the widening and the bypass in order to provide more capacity for this highly congested area.
I believe infrastructure must be in place prior to major development occurring.
Pierre Romand-Heuyer from Silver Spring
Illegal immigration is severely impacting the lives of taxpaying residents of Montgomery county. There is even al illegal aliens recruitement center operating in Wheaton. What is county policy regarding illegal aliens? Are you condoning law breaking?
Mr. Leggett: I remain unconvinced that illegal immigration is severely impacting the taxpayers in Montgomery County. This allegation has been repeatedly raised without being substantiated. We do not have an illegal alien recruitment center anywhere in the County. We do have three day labor centers that have strong community support and have been operating successfully for a number of years. We do not condone law breaking by anyone.
I am opposed to illegal immigration, but this matter must be resolved at the national level. The failure to appropriately address this issue nationally places an inappropriate burden on many local jurisdictions.
Michael from Bethesda-Chevy Chase
I am concerned about State budget issues and the possible impact on County services. What are your hopes and priorities for the Special Session that is coming?
Mr. Leggett: Thank you for your question. I am pleased that the Governor has moved aggressively to comprehensively resolve the $1.7 billion shortfall. This is a problem that he inherited and should be congratulated for his leadership in recognizing the challenges that this poses for the State and local communities. My top priority is to preserve and enhance state funding for education, health and human services programs, and transportation. The Governor has indicated that he will not resolve the deficit at the expense of local communities such as Montgomery County. However, there are some unintended negative consequences in his plan for Montgomery County. The extremely high rate for income taxes could disproportionately impact Montgomery County which could place us at a competitive disadvantage with our neighboring jurisdictions. As a result, we could actually lose tax revenues in Montgomery County, which would result in a loss to the State and jeopardize many of the programs and services we all value. I intend to work with our delegation to obtain the most favorable outcome for the State of Maryland and Montgomery County.
fitzgerald from Not from Montgomery County
When is the county going to address the issue of schools that cater to children that english is not a first language? Teachers are spending to much time trying to teach these kids and children who have a command of english are left to cope and there needs are not being met.
Mr. Leggett: Thank you for your question. We have many languages spoken in our schools. We have students from 168 nations in Montgomery County. I believe we are not "catering to" or "adding an undue burden" for our teachers when we provide assistance in learning standard English, as well as some other language.