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Old 01-05-2009, 07:22 PM
Howard Hartman Howard Hartman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
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Default Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus - January 2009 Edition

January 2009


Top Ten of 2008 - back to top

Happy New Year!  As 2009 brings a host of new challenges, I want to take a look back at 2008 and a few things that I feel good about:

  • Passing revised “Road Code” regulations that protect pedestrians, bicyclists, the environment and the community’s character;
  • Allocating money from the State Transportation Participation program to jump start transit and roadway projects that had been delayed by the State;
  • Publishing the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Climate Change Report while serving as chair of the Climate Change Steering Committee;
  • Being named vice-chair for transit on the National Association of Counties’ Transportation Steering Coommittee;
  • Serving as an elected delegate at the Democratic National Convention;
  • Reaching out to communities with a property tax forum and a transit funding work group;
  • Finding ways to conserve energy with a home energy audit on my more-than-100-year-old house;
  • Sponsoring the Office of Legislative Oversight’s analysis of the costs and timetables for constructing transportation projects;
  • Serving as honorary chair of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Committee; and
  • Calling for accountability in the County’s emergency notification system.


Transit and Parking Policies at Odds - back to top

Will I drive to work? Ride the bus or Metro? Bike? Carpool? When making this decision, each of us weighs the cost, how long it will take, and how convenient our commuting trip will be. When government creates programs and policies to help more commuters choose alternatives to driving alone, the term often used is “transportation demand management.”

In its review of Montgomery County’s transportation demand management, the Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight found that the County actively promotes transit and other alternative commuting modes on the one hand but simultaneously implements parking policies that undercut efforts to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home. In other words, by providing plentiful, low-cost and conveniently located parking, the County makes it easy for commuters to drive alone, contrary to its goals of encouraging transit and other modes of transportation.

To bring parking policies and transportation demand management in line with one another, the County could offer incentives such as cash alternatives to employee parking subsidies or payouts to businesses that eliminate vehicle trips below a designated baseline. Alternatively, the County could provide disincentives such as reducing the parking supply or raising parking rates.

Either way, there are difficult choices to make. Economic incentives would have to be funded through taxes or fees, while disincentives would cost more to drivers and/or businesses. We know that reducing single occupancy vehicle trips is our best bet for mitigating congestion and reducing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. But how do we get there from here? Visit my blog to see the OLO’s full report and let me know what you think of the recommendations.


Friendlier, Safer Roads - back to top

After a long process that began with legislation in 2007 followed by intense work by a Stakeholder Work Group representing diverse perspectives, we unanimously approved revised “Road Code” Executive Regulations.  Having championed these changes for several years, I am pleased that new streets and roads now will respect the needs of all users, not just motorists, under the Context Sensitive Road Design Standards.  The flexible rules give attention to the needs of bicyclists, storm water management, pedestrians and community design. These changes will result in friendlier and safer roads for everyone.


Welcome to Judy Jablow - back to top

I’m happy to have Judy Jablow join my office as the new chief of staff.  Judy brings extensive knowledge and expertise in legislative affairs, policy development and intergovernmental relations gained through years of experience in the White House, Congress, the Department of Commerce and county government.  She has particular qualifications in environmental issues, having served as chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  My former chief of staff, Rebecca Lord, remains on my team part time as a policy analyst, and I thank her for her ongoing service.


Board to Recommend Compensation of Elected Officials - back to top

We’re now accepting applications for a citizens’ advisory committee to study compensation levels for the Sheriff, State’s Attorney, County Executive and County Council.  The committee will submit its recommendations to the County Council by September 30, 2009 for compensation that will take effect in the 2010-2014 term of office.  Take a look at the position announcement, and remember to get your application in by January 30.


Tunnel Talk with Jed Millard - back to top

If you’ve called my office, you may have met new staffer, Jed Millard.  He takes Metro from Crystal City to Rockville every day.  He uses Metro for a combination of safety, the environment, and his own sanity.  According to Jed, it would take the same amount of time to drive, but it’s hard to read the paper or take a nap on the Beltway. But, he’s learned that sometimes Metro can be a headache too.  We’re adding this column to give you a sounding board for Metro’s little annoyances and big blunders.

Jed says:
Tired of taking a shuttle because of an elevator outage or just can’t stand your neighbor’s blaring iPod? Tell me about it!  Periodically, I’ll share a number of your e-mails and my response to them. This month, I’ll share a letter I wrote to the Express newspaper, which was published in the December 11 edition.

Use Funds for Metro Safety
I was appalled by an article about Metro’s choices for new seat cushions: “seals with balls and gray with rainbows.” Late trains, elevator and escalator outages, and fiscal problems plague the system; is this how money should be spent? Just minutes after reading this story, the escalator I was waiting to board at Gallery Place suddenly reversed at high speed, sending commuters tumbling backward into a 20-or-so person pileup at the bottom. Direct your resources to customer safety, Metro, and then you’ll get my “seal” of approval.

See the Washington Post’s December 12th article about the incident.

Send your comments to Tunnel Talk, and remember to include your name and address.


Calendar - back to top

January 13, Public Hearing, Master Plan for ICC—Bikeways and Interchanges
January 15, Public Hearing, Disability Retirement
January 22, Public Hearing, Property Use/Smart Growth Initiative projects
January 27, Community Forum on Ways to Reduce Budget
January 28, Town Hall Meeting, Germantown/Darnestown

To testify at a public hearing, call 240-777-7931.


Fast Fact - back to top

Depending on the type of snow we get, it takes about 16 hours following the end of a three-inch snowfall to plow and/or treat every County road once.  It takes about 48-60 hours after a 24-inch snowfall.  To learn more about who clears which roads as well as other snow removal information, visit the Department of Transportation.


Green Tip of the Month - back to top

To help reduce the volume of unwanted mail, the Division of Solid Waste Services recommends registering on a “do not mail” list with the Direct Marketing Association. There is a one-dollar fee for the service.


Let's Talk - back to top

What should I know? What's going on in your neck of the woods? Please let me know how I can assist you. Please put me on your community mailing list or listserv. I'm always delighted to join your group and chat. Remember, you can e-mail me at or call 240-777-7959.


If you have any questions or comments, contact us by email or postal mail:
Montgomery County Government, Office of Public Information, 101 Monroe Street, 4th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850.

Last edited by Howard Hartman; 01-06-2009 at 01:16 AM.

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