Montgomery in Focus Masthead
January 2013

 

What's In and What's Out for 2013

Nancy FloreenOUT – Smoking: Secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen,” and it is responsible for about 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults in the U.S. each year. That’s why I proposed a ban on smoking on property owned or leased by Montgomery County. We will have a public hearing on my plan on January 15, so you still have time to weigh in.

IN – Business: The Montgomery Business Development Corporation named Holly Sears as its first president. The quasi-public, nonprofit organization seeks to engage executive level business leaders to establish a vision for the County’s long-term economic future; to develop and articulate strategies to achieve that vision; to advocate for strategic changes in practices and policies; and to set performance metrics and report on its achievement. It delivered its first report to the County Council in October.

IN – Bicycles: With bikeshare coming to Montgomery County, I am advocating for more bike lanes.

OUT – Complicated Zoning: Planners at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission have undertaken an ambitious effort to rewrite the Zoning Code to modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans. The County Council will consider the revised code in the early 2013.

OUT – Rip Offs: Residents made a lot of home improvements this year thanks to the derecho and superstorm Sandy. Many turned to these twelve tips for hiring a home improvement contractor for guidance.

IN – Wheaton: The Wheaton Redevelopment Program will guide revitalization of Wheaton’s downtown area with more than $66.1 million committed to create a civic core in the heart of downtown Wheaton. This plan gets Wheaton moving by providing a new employment presence, green space and a long-term commitment to doing what it takes to make Wheaton shine.

IN – Kensington: The Kensington Sector Plan will guide the long-term redevelopment of the Town of Kensington and surrounding area. Because of collaboration among neighbors, planners and municipal and county elected officials, we created and approved a plan that will achieve the two goals everyone agreed on—revitalizing the area’s commercial core and preserving residential communities.

IN –  New County Council Districts: As an at-large Councilmember, I still represent you if you live anywhere in Montgomery County. However, you may have a different district Councilmember.

IN – Girl Power: Thanks to the Talk With a Teen Girl Today forum put on by Crittenton Services, we now have clearer insight into the real lives of girls who live in our community. I was proud to serve on the discussion panel with Crittenton participants and board members.

OUT – Light Rail on the CCT: We changed our recommendation from light rail to bus rapid transit for the Corridor Cities Transitway in response to a study showing a greater economic benefit to the County if the project is built sooner.

IN – New Montgomery: From expanding our economy, streamlining processes, marketing the county, improving access to data, and enhancing communication measures, we are increasing our ability to be nimble and responsive to community needs with best government practices in a period of reduced resources.

OUT – Delays: The good-faith, collaborative, cross-agency effort to streamline our complicated and unwieldy development approval process makes it easier to do business in the county.

IN – Maintenance of Effort: Although MOE was on my out list last year, our analysts project that new State maintenance of effort requirements will mean that spending for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and County Government will have to be reduced by 4.9 percent next year.

IN – Size: With a population of 971,777, Montgomery County isn’t just the biggest county in Maryland. It also boasts more residents than many states, including Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota and Vermont. In fact, our county is nearly twice as populous as Wyoming which is home to just 563,526 people.


 

My Letter to The Gazette on Proposed Smoking Ban

Nancy Floreen at podiumThere are at least two sides to every debate. Check out my letter to The Gazette in response to their November 20 editorial about my proposed smoking ban. For your convenience, I have reprinted the letter here:

Secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen,” and it is responsible for about 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults in the U.S. each year. So when The Gazette asks, “How far are Montgomery County’s overprotective overseers willing to go?” [Nov. 20, “Kicking Montgomery’s smokers to the curb”] I say, as far as the county’s property line. As elected officials, we at the County Council are stewards for public health, and it is our responsibility to make sure our public facilities are healthy and safe.

The Gazette correctly states that smoking is banned in most public spaces already, and my bill would extend the ban to property owned or leased by Montgomery County, not including public rights of way. The ban also would not include parks.

Some may say that’s going too far, but according to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of them are toxic and about 70 are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke especially affects children and women who are pregnant. According to the American Cancer Society, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

I want parents to be able to take children to the library; county employees to be able to go to work; and people who are sick to be able to enter our health clinics without passing through a hazardous cloud of smoke. My proposal is not about taking away the rights of smokers. It is about providing safe and healthy access to public facilities for everyone.

Nancy Floreen, Garrett Park


 

High School Student Joins my Team for a Day

We had the privilege of hosting high school student Amanda Cohen in my office as a part of a job shadowing program. She wrote me this terriffic letter about her day. Do you agree she will make a good public servant some day? Here are her experiences in her own words:

Dear Council Member Floreen,

Thank you so much for giving me a sneak peek into the world of local government. When I first arrived at the County Council building the large glass doors and sleek elevators easily intimidated me and as I waited in the sixth floor lobby my anxiety grew. I tried to think of everything I could remember from my AP Government class last year, hoping that the reason I began to love government would come to my rescue. Luckily a friendly face came to wake me out of my nervous trance. She introduced herself as Jocelyn and as she showed me around the sixth floor offices my nerves began to ease and I began to realize, once again, how much I enjoyed public service.

Very few students have the opportunity to experience such an amazing and insightful day of real world government. I was first sent to a meeting in the smaller council room where the newly elected Montgomery County President, Nancy Navarro and Council Member George Leventhal questioned an expert on the effects of Obama Care on Montgomery County. During my second meeting, on the affects of Hurricane Sandy, Jocelyn took me out early and I finally had the chance to meet you. The first thing I noticed when we met was the air of optimism and joy that radiated from around the office. Everyone was smiling and laughing. It seemed my preconceived notions of government workers being dull and dreary were completely wrong. Your staff is absolutely amazing! They welcomed me in excitedly and laughed every time someone walked by and recognized that I wasn't your regular office aide.

Everyone at the council was genuinely interested in my perspective of education and teaching, and asked many questions about my interest in local government. I learned so much about the Council and how it impacts the one million people it serves for that I now recognize the trivial role of local government. The men and women of the Montgomery County Council are the people who make the laws that directly and immediately impact all of its constituents. I am so greatful for this experience and can never thank you enough for letting me come and shadow the council for a day.

Sincerely,

Amanda Cohen
Bethesda-chevy Chase High School


 

Nonprofits: Apply Now for a Council Grant

Nancy Floreen with Ike Legget and others serving food to homeless.Attention, Montgomery County nonprofits, the deadline to submit your application for a FY14 County Council grant is Thursday, January 17.

We believe that a strong partnership with nonprofit organizations is critical to meeting the needs of County residents. To request funding through the County Council’s grants process, you must submit a grant application for each funding request. The grants are for one year only, although you may reapply in subsequent years.

I encourage you to attend the informational workshop on Monday, January 7, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Third Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville.


 

Fast Fact

Congratulations to our new Council president, Nancy Navarro and our new Council vice president, Craig Rice (who I was proud to nominate). We have two very talented leaders at the helm this year, and I feel optimistic about our future.


 

Green Tip of the Month

You can recycle your Christmas tree by placing the entire tree at the curb by 7:00 a.m. on your recycling collection day. Just keep your tree in its natural state and remember to remove the stand and all decorations, including lights, ornaments, tinsel and garlands. There should be nothing attached to the tree. Do not place your tree in a plastic bag. Trees with root balls are considered “live” and therefore cannot be collected as part of this recycling program. In addition, artificial trees cannot be collected as part of the recycling program.

Wreaths, garlands and roping made from evergreen trees are typically bound together with wire and cannot be recycled unless the wire is removed from the greens. If there is no wiring attached, place the greens in paper bags or in reusable containers or bundled as yard trim and place them at the curb for collection on recycling day.

You can also recycle branches and needles at home by placing them under outdoor trees and shrubs as temporary winter mulch, or you can chop them up and add them to a backyard compost pile or compost bin.


 

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.