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The Berliner Brief
December 2008


Dear District 1 Residents and Friends,

          I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday season. We have so much to be grateful for, even as we experience these very difficult economic times. 

          Regretfully, an increasing number of our County citizens are struggling. We have heard heartbreaking stories of first-time women in homeless shelters; of a dramatic increase in the need for food; of a surge in suicide hotline calls. And all of this takes place when the County coffers are not only bare, but in the red to the tune of at least $450 million, if not substantially more. I commend Superintendent Weast, the Board of Education, and the leadership of the three school employee unions for agreeing to eliminate $89 million of negotiated cost-of-living wage adjustments for MCPS employees in 2010 and for identifying an additional $35 million in savings.  If, as I hope, the other County unions follow suit, this will still leave us with at least a $325 million deficit.

          We are going to have to simultaneously reduce government spending and reorient what resources we do have to fulfill what I believe is our moral imperative to provide for as strong a safety net as we can for those who are on the front lines of this economic meltdown. That is not going to be easy, but I remain confident that we can do this. Our County has been resilient in the past, and we will be resilient going forward.  

           We started addressing the deficit immediately, trimming approximately $33 million from the current operating budget, and we will continue to look for additional savings as the year progresses.  Just know that I am committed to being fiscally prudent in this turbulent period and committed to honoring the Charter limit on property taxes in the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget.


                                          Council Elects New Leadership
 

          On December 2, Councilmember Phil Andrews (District 3) was elected Council President and my colleagues honored me by electing me Council Vice President. I look forward to working with President Andrews and my fellow councilmembers as we tackle the many challenges this fiscal year will bring. For my District 1 constituents, the real significance of being elected Vice President is that, if tradition holds, I am in a position to become Council President a year from now. This marks the first time in the history of District 1 that your representative on the Council has held such a leadership position. While my purview and perspective will necessarily broaden, I will be in an even stronger position to address the needs of District 1.

                                  Infill Development Reform: Mission Accomplished!

          After 18 months of effort, the County Council has passed the first comprehensive measure to reform infill development, commonly referred to as the McMansionization phenomenon. The goal of my legislation, which was co-sponsored by Council President Andrews and Councilmembers Elrich and Trachtenberg, is to allow for the graceful transformation of our older neighborhoods. Under the rules that exist currently, new homes can destroy the integrity of a neighborhood and overwhelm neighbors, depriving them of sunlight, privacy, and home values.

          The Infill Development Reform Act modestly, but meaningfully, reduces the size of new homes on small lots in our County. For example, new homes on lots that are 6,000 square feet will be 14% smaller, while homes on lots that are 25,000 square feet will be 20% smaller. Yet, even with this change, homes on our smallest lots can still be 4,500 square feet.  We have not sacrificed the American Dream in providing greater protection for our older neighborhoods. The impact of the bill will be most pronounced in District 1, where approximately three-fourths of infill development takes place.

          From the very beginning, I formed an Infill Development Task Force that brought together neighborhood leaders and builders, real estate agents, and architects, as well as the Executive’s people and Park & Planning representatives in a public, consensus-building exercise. As a Search for Common Ground advocate, I was particularly pleased that the final product achieved consensus among those who worked so hard to get this right. In part, consensus was achieved and strengthened by not over-reaching. If a home by definition did not raise McMansion concerns, such as one-floor plans, it was exempted from the bill. By keeping our focus, we were able to neutralize concerns in the business community while maintaining the support of the neighborhood activists who served on the Task Force. I am proud of the final result, and I hope you are too. Our neighborhoods will be greener, with more trees, more sunlight, more privacy, and will be more harmonious. 

Proud to Be A “Solar Champion”

          On December 5th, I was given a very nice award. The Solar Industry Association of Maryland/Virginia/and the District of Columbia presented me with their “Solar Champion” award. This award was in recognition of the numerous legislative initiatives that I sponsored, and that my colleagues passed, to promote solar energy. These initiatives included property tax credits for installing solar panels on your home, preserving home owners rights to install solar panels, removing siting restrictions to make it easier to put up solar panels in your yard, and requiring the adoption of a Renewable Energy Action Plan for the County. I am honored by the award and privileged to be in a position to advance the cause of renewable energy.

Climate Change and the Sustainability Working Group

           As I reported to you in my last newsletter, the County is engaged in a range of activities with an eye to meeting the county’s goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. As a result of the legislation I authored and the County Council passed in April, the County has convened a Sustainability Working Group tasked with developing a Climate Action Plan for Montgomery County. It consists of 15 government and regional organization representatives and 11 public members with expertise in areas such as business, communications, land use/building, clean energy, water quality, and habitat protection.

          I am Co-Chair of the Energy Efficiency – Residential Committee. Almost one-third of the County’s greenhouse gas emissions is related to the consumption of energy in our homes. Consequently, I am developing a ground-breaking initiative to provide low-cost financing, repayable over an extended period of time, to homeowners for energy efficiency retrofits and solar installations.  If successful, we will be able to provide you with a way to literally put money in your pocket by reducing your utility bills while significantly reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.   

          Other Sustainability Working Group committees are working on transportation, education and outreach, commercial and multi-family buildings, forestry and agriculture and long-term sustainability issues. This is a very exciting and ground breaking effort. A report to the County Council is required by mid-January 2009. Those who wish to monitor the Committees' progress or to participate can go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/dep/Sustainability/home.asp to get involved.

                                                    No To An Emergency Medical Services Transport Fee 

          The EMSTF Bill, also called the “ambulance fee”, was proposed by the County Executive as part of the FY 2009 County Operating Budget. After considerable reflection, I concluded that I could not support such a fee at this time. As a result, I joined with Council President Andrews to table the County Executive's proposed bill. 

          While I am obviously reluctant to forgo the revenue that the fee could produce, I am persuaded that the potential harm to our vital volunteer fire service is too great a risk to take.  Our volunteers, like those at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, provide an invaluable service.  They argued with great passion that such a fee would not only pose an unacceptable public health risk, but also destroy the culture, morale, and perhaps the financial underpinnings of the volunteer organizations.  Their opposition was such that even if the Council were to approve the measure, I am absolutely convinced that the volunteers would be successful in collecting enough signatures to place this matter on the ballot in 2010.  Every indication is that the public has no more appetite for charging an ambulance fee than do the volunteers.  Given these dynamics, I see nothing productive that could come from such an exercise in futility. 

 An Advocate for Aging in Place

          If you live in Burning Tree, Bannockburn, Carderock Springs, or Fallsmead you probably know about Burning Tree Village, a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization established to help neighbors age in place, or in other words, stay in their own homes. I had the pleasure of meeting with Leslie Kessler and Harry Rosenberg, two of Burning Tree Village’s dedicated organizers who illuminated both the extraordinary efforts it has taken to build this effort from the ground up and also the extraordinary rewards and benefits the Village has brought to the entire community – both young and old.

          What I found to be most compelling about this “village” concept is that it really gets to the heart of what it means to be a neighborhood in the true sense of the word. When neighbors help neighbors, a sense of what it means to be a community is felt and shared by all.

          As your Councilmember, I am keenly aware of the growing number of seniors in our County and in District 1. I recently attended the Senior Summit organized and hosted by County Executive Leggett and had the opportunity to participate in a small group worksession on housing issues facing our older residents. We had a vibrant discussion of the “village” concept where I volunteered to take the lead on finding ways to promote this model throughout the County and to look for ways local government can facilitate the process without getting in the way of the organic, grass-roots efforts integral to the success of this type of program. Fortunately, the County Executive and his team are equally committed to this endeavor and I look forward to partnering with them as we support aging in place. 

 Preserving a Sense of Place: The Role of Park Activity Buildings 

          In the two years I have now been in office, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: our County residents yearn for a sense of place. And in some communities, this sense of place has been fostered by the existence and use of small park activity buildings in their local parks where neighbors would gather for holiday celebrations, birthday parties, civic association meetings, Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, and other similar events. These facilities have come to mean a great deal to neighborhoods and for some communities, the activity buildings provide the only option for holding such gatherings within one’s own neighborhood.

          Unfortunately, many of these small park activity buildings have deteriorated to the point that they are now too dangerous for public use and have been recommended for demolition by the Department of Parks. To my dismay, this is the case in the Garrett Park, Randolph Hills, and Westmoreland communities which I represent on the Council.  I have had numerous conversations with these communities and have heard loud and clear how important their local parks are to them and how much they value these facilities.

          It is my view that one of local government’s primary missions should be to support communities and neighborhoods here in Montgomery County. There may be no better way to foster a sense of place and a sense of community than through our local parks, and we must therefore find ways to maintain, and in some cases improve, their vibrancy as centerpieces of our neighborhoods.

          Despite the tough budget climate we find ourselves in, I have encouraged the Department of Parks to find a way to reinvest in these local parks as we say goodbye to some of these activity buildings.  I have also encouraged residents to be open-minded and creative when thinking about ways to reinvest in their parks, but my message has always been clear: we must reinvest in these parks if the buildings are demolished.

          The manner in which the Department of Parks and the County will reinvest in these parks is yet to be determined and the plan may vary from community to community. One neighborhood has proposed a public-private partnership with the Department of Parks and has made a commitment to raising substantial funds to build a replacement facility. Other communities may decide to follow their lead or may determine that their local park may be better served by replacing the building with other types of park amenities. Whatever the end game may be, my staff and I will continue to help facilitate the dialogue as we explore the various options for reinvesting in these local parks and these communities.

Bethesda Naval Medical Center Update (BRAC)

          In September, the State of Maryland announced massive reductions in its Consolidated Transportation Program. As a result, Montgomery County faces over $100 million in local transportation spending cuts, affecting a number of high priority projects. BRAC-related spending was cut by $16 million, amounting to a 30 percent funding reduction for planned intersection upgrades including Wisconsin Avenue at Cedar Lane, Wisconsin Avenue at Jones Bridge Road, Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road, and Cedar Lane at Old Georgetown Road.

          The Maryland Department of Transportation has assured the County that the Design and Engineering phases of these projects remain fully funded and will proceed on an expedited basis. MDOT hopes that construction funds will eventually be restored; however, we cannot assume that deferred funds will become available in time to complete the necessary improvements before the 2011 opening of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

          I believe that we cannot afford to wait and hope for improved budget conditions. Therefore, along with my colleagues on the Council, I will be exploring options to provide temporary construction funding once the Design and Engineering phases of the intersection improvements are complete. Of course, I will continue to work with Senators Cardin and Mikulski and Congressman Van Hollen, all of whom have shown us steadfast support, to seek additional federal assistance.

White Flint Sector Plan

          The Montgomery County Planning Department is currently working on redevelopment plans for the White Flint area. The goal of a new “White Flint Sector Plan” is to create a thriving transit-oriented, mixed-use community through the use of sustainable development practices and strategies that encourage walkability and the use of public transportation.

          The White Flint Advisory Group, composed of residents and business interests, has worked with Planning Department staff for a year in the development of a draft sector plan. At this time, the Planning Department is working on its final recommendations for the plan. Once it receives the Planning Department’s recommendations, the Planning Board will hold a public hearing with the opportunity to present testimony and comments. The Planning Board will then hold work sessions on the White Flint Sector Plan, after which it will submit its draft to the Montgomery County Council, probably in Spring 2009.  The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee will also hold a public hearing and conduct extensive work sessions before submitting the sector plan to the full council for approval. For more information on the development of the White Flint Sector Plan, or to submit comments to the Planning Department, visit http://www.mcparkandplanning.org/planning/community/whiteflint/.

          Of course, as with any redevelopment process, there are legitimate community concerns particularly regarding traffic, density, and building heights that must be addressed. Although I am not directly involved in the planning process at this stage, my staff and I are paying extremely close attention to the development of the White Flint Sector Plan. I believe that if done correctly, and if existing, established neighborhoods are protected, the White Flint Sector Plan presents an incredible opportunity to transform the White Flint area into a model of sustainable development that will be emulated by communities around the country. We have a lot of work to do to get there, including ensuring that there is adequate public transportation that gets people out of their cars —but I remain optimistic that by working with planners, community members, and business interests, we can develop a sector plan that meets our 21st century needs and goals.

Purple Line

          In October, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) released the Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (AA/DEIS) for the Purple Line Study.  The AA/DEIS compares the costs and benefits of various light rail and bus options for the Purple Line and has been available for public review for 90 days beginning October 14, 2008, during which time public hearings have been held in various communities.  You can see the Purple Line AA/DEIS and submit comments at http://www.purplelinemd.com/aadeis.  Once the public comment period concludes January 14, 2009, the State of Maryland will begin the process of selecting its preferred alternative for this state project and seeking federal transit funding for the project. 

          I am keenly aware that the Purple Line is an issue about which many of my constituents care very deeply.  Although many residents have expressed support for light rail along the Master Plan Alignment, a portion of which runs along the interim Georgetown Branch Trail,  many others have expressed opposition to any plan which might endanger the trail.  The Georgetown Branch Trail is a precious local resource enjoyed by thousands of residents, and some believe strongly that it will be destroyed if the Purple Line is built alongside it.  Many of the opponents of the Master Plan Alignment would prefer the bus rapid transit (BRT) option that runs along Jones Bridge Road to Wisconsin Avenue, and then heads south to downtown Bethesda, thus avoiding the Georgetown Branch Trail.

          When I ran for office two years ago, I stated my support for building light rail along the right-of-way purchased by Montgomery County for this purpose.  I did so because the land was purchased for this very reason -- to have both a trail and light rail.  Our need for mass transit has certainly not diminished over time and  I feel that the recreational experience, while not the same as it is today, would still be positive.  I have since visited and walked the trail numerous times with concerned citizens and trail users and listened to their concerns about the loss of this unique resource.  I also requested, on behalf of the Town of Chevy Chase, a full and fair examination of the Jones Bridge Road BRT alignment by the MTA, which resulted in the release of a "White Paper" analysis of this option.  While this option would "save the trail",  you should know that in all of my conversations about this option, and I have had many, I have yet to hear anyone from the County Executive's office or any of my colleagues, even those who are strong supporters of BRT generally, indicate that they support this alignmnet and mode.  Moreover, this project will eventually serve Montgomery County and Prince George's County, and there is no support for BRT in Prince George's County.  And, from my perspective, if the trail is going to be compromised, it should only be for a truly first class transit system, worthy of the investment and the sacrifice that will be required.    

           On January 22, 2009 the Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee, on which I sit, will meet to consider the best mode and alignment for the Purple Line and give its recommendations to the full Council, which will vote on the matter and then submit its preferences regarding the Purple Line to the MTA.  Although I have expressed my preference for light rail, I am listening closely to the arguments on all sides and the testimony offered by residents in MTA’s public hearings on the Purple Line.  

Education News

          Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with several MCCPTA cluster coordinators who represent the Bethesda - Chevy Chase, Churchill, Walter Johnson, and Whitman communities. Joined by my good friend and colleague, Board of Education Vice-President Shirley Brandman, we spent almost two hours talking informally about the needs of the clusters, issues facing individual schools, and the fiscal challenges facing the County. It was a privilege for me to hear the insights of this committed group of individuals who dedicate so much of their time and effort advocating for our children and our school system.

         What I took away from this conversation was that there is a critical need for increased capacity, especially at the elementary level, and that there is an absolute requirement to do everything we can to protect class size. I have every confidence that the Board of Education and the Members of the Council Education Committee share these priorities and will do everything they can to keep these priorities at the forefront of their budget discussions.   You can count on me to be your advocate on these issues.

          Speaking of being your advocate, I am happy to report a few success stories involving Bradley Hills Elementary School and Hoover Middle School. The Bradley Hills community is finally enjoying a modernized kitchen due to the tireless efforts of people like Jean Schlessinger and the rest of the Bradley Hills PTA Board, and it was my pleasure to help facilitate discussions between them and MCPS staff and to advocate strongly for the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) funding necessary for this project to come to fruition.

         My office was also pleased to facilitate discussions between the Hoover Middle School community and the Department of Transportation (DOT) which led to enhanced pedestrian safety measures in the school vicinity. I was grateful that DOT agreed to install all-way stop controls at the intersection of Post Oak Road and Bunnell Drive and at the intersection of Post Oak Road and Enid Drive which the community felt were necessary to protect the safety of children walking to school. Other new safety measures include new crosswalk markings, new traffic control signage, street markings, and tree trimming to improve visibility.

Homicide-Home Invasion Cases Solved

          In October, Montgomery County Police announced the apprehension of the man charged with the murder of a Bethesda resident in her home and a series of home invasions in the community. Through some excellent detective work, good fortune, aPhoto of Councilmember Berliner addressing attendees at a Police meeting held at the Seven Locks Elementary School on September 15, 2008, to address the string of home invasionsnd errors made by the perpetrator he was arrested at his home in Hyattsville in Prince George’s County and charged in court. With DNA evidence as well as physical evidence from burglaries, the Police Chief and the States Attorney believe that there is a very strong case for conviction. I commend the hard-working members of our police department for their diligence and professionalism in the search for this individual.

          The apprehension and fear in this community was palpable as demonstrated by the large turnout of citizens at several public meetings with the police department and other officials.   I think we are all sleeping a little better at night knowing that this individual is now off the streets, but I urge all our residents to continue to be vigilant and watch out for each other.

The Clean Energy Rewards Program is Now Open

           You can join the thousands of Montgomery County residents and businesses who have switched to clean energy and have avoided over 21,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Montgomery County residents purchasing clean energy from a program-certified supplier will receive rewards (half a cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of clean energy used) up to 20,000 kWh a year. Businesses and other organizations will also earn rewards (half a cent per kWh) up to 400,000 kWh a year.

          To enroll go to the Clean Energy Rewards Web site (http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cleanenergyrewards) for more information and to see a list of eligible suppliers. There you can shop for clean electricity (50% or 100% wind power), or renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are similar to carbon offsets.

New Recycling Policy For more information go to the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Recycling web site

          Montgomery County residents can now recycle all empty plastic bottles, containers, and lids including jars, buckets/pails, and food-grade containers from: yogurt, ice cream, peanut butter, mayonnaise, butter or margarine, kitty litter, detergent, or flower pots. Please place these items into your blue commingled materials recycling bin along with your aluminum cans and foil products, steel/tin cans, and glass bottles and jars.  Please note: Plastic bags or wrap, polystyrene or Styrofoam, or hazardous automotive or garden product containers are not accepted.  For more information, go to the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection recycling web site. Bethesda Cares Proclamation Ceremony Photo with Theresa Maguire, Shelia Humphries, Susan Kirk, Councilmember Berliner, Sally W. Kaplan, Tom Hohman and B.J. Rowlett.

                       Twenty Years of Caring in Bethesda

          On November 18, my colleagues and I recognized Bethesda Cares, Inc., on its 20th anniversary as a non-profit private agency serving the working poor and homeless in Montgomery County.  I presented them with a proclamation on behalf of the Council, thanking them for their tireless efforts to better the lives of our most vulnerable residents. Joining me at the ceremony were (left to right): Theresa Maguire, Shelia Humphries, Susan Kirk, Sally W. Kaplan, Tom Hohman and B.J. Rowlett. 

                                                                   Mobile Med's Four Decades of Service       

          On December 2, my colleagues and I recognized the
volunteers, supporters and staff of the Mobile Medical program for providing 40 years of quality health care to the uninsured, low income, working poor and homeless in Montgomery County. With 23 clinic sites throughout the County and 3 mobile vans, MobileMed is uniquely situated to bring quality health care to where it is most needed.  Councilmembers Leventhal and Trachtenberg, my colleagues on the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, joined me in the presentation of a proclamation to MobileMed. Joining me at the ceremonies in Rockville were (left to right): Jean Cross, Leila Abedi, Barbara Clark, Kathy Rothstein, Martha Piedra Santa, Councilmember George Leventhal, Bob Spector, Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, Joan Greenbaum, Quing Chen and Jan Eisner.

Property Tax Credits for Smart Energy Choices

          As a result of my Climate Protection legislation, residents of Montgomery County can now qualify for a property tax credit if they install a renewable energy or energy conservation device. The county has an overall allowance of up to $250,000 of credits in this fiscal year which are awarded on a first come first serve basis.  The Department of Finance tells me that over $75,000 of credits have already been awarded.

         On a renewable energy solar or geothermal energy device, citizens can get up to 50% of eligible costs: $5000 for a heating system or $1500 for a hot water supply system. Credits for energy conservation devices are up to $250 per household. The tax credit application form is available at the Department of Finance web site.

Taking Care of Our Streets

          DOT has been working on a comprehensive assessment of all Montgomery County residential streets. The preliminary results are in and indicate a countywide need for residential resurfacing using hot mix asphalt. Many of our residential streets have similar ratings and unfortunately the need outpaces the resources in the approved Capital Budget. DOT is in the process of developing criteria to prioritize the roadwork. It should be finalized by the end of the year and we will share more information as it becomes available.

                                                             Supporting Breast Cancer Research

          On October 30, I was delighted to offer my services as a “Celebrity Guest Bagger” to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the Safeway on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda. The donations that customers so graciously made during my time at the store will be given to the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and MedStar Breast Cancer Center’s research at Georgetown University Hospital.

                           Supporting the Arts at Glen Echo                          

          This fall, I attended a Member Donor event at the Glen Echo Partnership for the Arts, where I serve on the Board of Directors.  It truly was a beautiful evening, with the fruits of the Partnership's restoration efforts on display throughout the park.  On hand were local artists, and I was able to try my hand at sculpting.  

                      Constituent and Community Services

          We continue to make every effort to be available and responsive to the problems and concerns of District 1 residents. If you are one of the many constituents who has contacted our office, we hope that you have found this to be a positive experience. We are happy to address your concerns in whatever way we can as well as facilitate communications with various Executive agencies, Park and Planning, MCPS and the local utilities such as WSSC, Pepco and Washington Gas. It is our pleasure to address your concerns regarding safety, road repairs, traffic, power outages, streetlight repairs, and many other individual concerns. Since our last newsletter we have facilitated solutions to many problems including WSSC pipe and county road repairs, Pepco and streetlight outages, and numerous safety issues. We have also launched investigations in response to concerns regarding new construction as well as abandoned houses. We’ve answered your questions and tried to ensure that the appropriate county agency was responsive to your inquiry. Please continue to contact our office with your concerns. We are here to listen and will do our best to help.

Montgomery County Community Service Day

          October 25, 2008 was Montgomery County Community Service Day. My staff and I spent the morning at the National Center for Children and Families Greentree Shelter in Bethesda.We rolled up our sleeves to mulch a 350 foot trail used by the Greentree residents and other members of the community.  The skies opened up on us, but the wet weather did not dampen our spirits or the dedication of all present. 

          The Greentree Shelter, founded in 1983, serves as a transitional home for homeless families, primarily children with single mothers, and provides the basic support systems necessary for families to rebuild their lives. Families move out of the shelter with a developed sense of self-esteem, self-help skills, and healthier relationships, helping them to avoid the recurrence of homelessness.

Calling All Community Leaders

          Civic and Homeowner Associations: In order to disseminate timely information that may be useful to your communities and neighborhoods, we would like to keep a comprehensive and updated database of District 1 civic and homeowners associations. Please help us by calling 240-777-7828 or emailing us at councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov anytime with the name of your organization, the current president’s name, e-mail address, street address and phone number. We promise to use the contact information judiciously and will not share it with any other parties.

My Office   

         As always, my staff and I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you at community events: Cindy Gibson is my Chief of Staff and point of contact for Health and Human Services and Education; Susan Buffone focuses on Energy and the Environment; Miti Figueredo work on Land Use and Transportation; Lou D’Ovidio handles Public Safety and Management and Fiscal Policy issues; Julie Genn handles the bulk of the constituent service issues that come into our office; and Chad Bolt is the friendly voice you hear on the phone when you call my office and he will be happy to schedule your meeting or help you with any issues that may arise. All of them will try to facilitate your interaction with County government in any way that they can.

          Thank you for your trust, and please let me know what I can do for you. It is truly a privilege to do this work, and I thank you for the opportunity.


                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,
                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                Roger Berliner
                                                                                                                                                Councilmember, District 1
                                                                                                                                                Lead Member for Energy and the Environment




Odds & Ends and Other Helpful Information

Accessing County Services…You are now able to access various county government services via direct links online such as applying for licenses and permits, finding information about living wills, recycling at apartments and condominiums, etc. For more information go to: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/opi/service/wants.asp?id=4

"My Montgomery" Section of County Website - By typing in your zip code, MyMontgomery will locate schools, police and fire stations, health and human service programs, hospitals, regional service centers, Metro and MARC train stations, public parking lots and garages, recreational facilities including golf courses, libraries, parks, senior centers, and swimming pools.  The website integrates Google Maps technology with data from County Geographic Information Systems, enabling residents to locate the county facilities and services that are conveniently located close to home or work.

Cell Phones for Seniors - The 2nd Police District is offering cell phones to senior citizens. The cell phone will allow the caller to call 911 only. Terry Edwards, a volunteer, will be distributing the cell phones at the 2nd District Station by appointment only. Terry Edwards can be reached at (301) 652-9200 to schedule an appointment. The 2nd District will continue to collect cell phones and there are donation receipt forms available. If anyone has any questions regarding the program, please contact Officer Dana Matthis at (301) 657-0119.

MCDOT's Customer Service Center - The department established a Customer Service Center in September of 2005. The center handles highway, traffic, and some parking related issues at one convenient number: 240.777.6000. By the end of 2006, the center’s four operators had handled 52,000 inquiries. Last year that number grew to almost 55,000! You can use this number to report concerns with numerous items associated with road and sidewalk maintenance. These include potholes; mowing and leaf collection; shoulder repairs; sidewalk, curb, or gutter refurbishment; lane markings and street name or stop signs; streetlight problems; and traffic signal concerns. The Center's hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Residents can Save on Energy Bills through Home Energy Audit Workshops - Are you shocked when you open your energy bills? There are ways you can improve your home and save money on energy bills. For more information go to: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Content/dep/index.asp  

County Publishes Consumer Rights Guide for Cable Television Subscribers; Brochure also available on County website - Montgomery County has just published a new brochure to help cable television subscribers understand their consumer rights and how to get a satisfactory response to their cable complaints. For more information go to: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=4754

Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force Presents Final Recommendations to Leggett and Carr; Fire and Rescue Is Already Implementing Changes That Will Improve Safety for Seniors - Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today received the final report from the Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force, convened to address the dramatic increase in senior citizen fire fatalities. For more information go to: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=4979

Senior Section Added to County Website - Looking for services for seniors in Montgomery County?  This website is designed to provide information on County services in one easy-to-find place.  The Montgomery County Senior Site will provide information on a variety of topics. 

If you are having difficulty opening any of the links in this newsletter, please visit my website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/mem/Berliner/index.asp. There is a direct link that will take you to my current and past newsletters. Thank you.




I always welcome your views and comments.

Councilmember Roger Berliner
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-7828
Fax: (240) 777-7989
Email: councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov




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