Power Outrage, Heroism and More–Within Montgomery's 500 Square Miles
High-voltage anti-Pepco madness, looking for a mystery man in Bethesda and even dogs in Montgomery County turn political. Oh, and a bunch of fifth graders call out The Washington Post. All this stuff really happened in Montgomery County last week.
More than Peeved Over Pepco
Montgomery County might be known for its calm reserve but it turns out residents get outraged when they learn that under state law they have to help compensate for losses by one of the most hated companies in America—Pepco. Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said residents had had enough and held a press conference to call for improvements. Maryland's county executives, including Montgomery's Ike Leggett, blasted Pepco for failing to to provide specific addresses with outages so elderly residents could be helped during the heat wave. State senators Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery) and James Rosapepe (D-Prince George's) suggested Pepco and BGE should have to pay their own fines reaching more than $100 million for their response to the June 29 "Derecho." Maryland Del. Jeffrey Waldstreicher (D-Dist. 18) says the fact that Pepco now wants a rate increase is "abhorrent." But back to those customer fees. Commenters unloaded all over Montgomery County Patch sites over the "bill stabilization" charge, amounting to about $1. Frosh told WMAL he's going to introduce an amendment in the next legislative session if the fees don’t stop. Hear him call them "ridiculous" and "crazy" in this report.
Frosh must have been reading those Patch comments, which can pretty much be summed up by this one from reader Shannon Robinson: "WHAT THE HELL?! Can we customers charge PEPCO & BGE a fee for NO POWER? This is NUTS!"
To escalate the debate even further, Atlantic contributing editor Gregg Easterbrook, a power outage sufferer, put his home county of Montgomery at the center of national politics over the electricity debacle. Gov. Martin O'Malley, he warned in an editorial, showed a weakness in failing to keep his state on the grid that could reflect on Democrats nationally.
'This Was Meant to be the Day I Was Going to Die'
The storm, of course, wasn't all about 106-degree air in the state capital. There was a riveting story in Bethesda about a mystery man who saved a woman trapped in her car that Friday night when a tree crushed the roof and left her bleeding. “This was meant to be the day I was going to die," is the way Susan Riley put it. She's looking for the Good Samaritan in a pickup truck who was there on Old Georgetown Road and Democracy Boulevard and rushed her to Suburban Hospital.
Headline of the Week
So, it was a good week for the news media. Weather and politics are always good talkers. Combine the two, and the headlines write themselves. But The Washington Post probably didn't appreciate the one that begged to be written about it: Washington Post Not Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. Of course, it was all in fun. Mrs. Reed’s fifth-grade class at Burning Tree Elementary politely pointed out in a letter to the editor written on giant paper that The Post’s Book World made a mistake when it said the Titanic struck the iceberg on April 15, 1912. The real date? Read the full story on media website Poynter.
A Man of Few Words
Capt. Paul Starks is the go-to man for the news media for Montgomery County police reporters. As police spokesperson, he answers reporter questions about newsworthy police activity, including appearing recently on the NBC Nightly News to talk about use of YouTube video to help investigate crime. He's also the focus of Ask a Cop, in which Patch readers ask questions of police. Here's an excerpt from this week's version:
Patch Reader Question: It seems to be customary in Montgomery County for drivers who are pulled over by police to stop their car immediately, even if they are on a busy thoroughfare such as Georgia or Connecticut, instead of turning onto the next side street before stopping. This leads to traffic problems and puts the officer at greater risk. Is it considered evading arrest if a driver proceeds to the next available side street before stopping, assuming the next side street isn't miles away? Can an officer ask a driver to move to a side street?
Captain Paul Starks: Yes they can.
Patch Reader Question: Fact or myth: Crime goes up in the summertime.
Captain Paul Starks: Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.
Making Politics a Family Affair
It's probably not surprising that the Good Dog, Bad Romney political organization has marked territory in Takoma Park, where Seamus, the Romney family Irish setter, is likely a canine hero. Takoma Park residents rallied, with their dogs and kids, to spread the message they won't vote for Mitt Romney for president and they do support animal rights.
The Great Circle Chase
Chevy Chase Village and the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, DC, are going around in circles on this debate. The neighborhood commission of Chevy Chase, DC, is in favor of installing traffic signals at Chevy Chase Circle. Chevy Chase Village is more skeptical. The conflict is expected to continue but reader MocoLoco had a question that may never be resolved:
I happen to think the circle works well without lights. But, I'm still confused why all three lanes in the circle can exit the circle onto Connecticut Ave. southbound. If you're in the middle lane and you want to continue around the circle, you risk getting hit by a car in the inside lane who wants to exit the circle..
In Development News
—Mid-Pike Plaza - It never had the most original moniker, but Mid-Pike Plaza was once the one-stop shopping experience for suburban shoppers traveling Rockville Pike. The memories of ample free parking may be over, but the glory days may be returning. Gov. Martin O’Malley will join Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Montgomery County Council members for the groundbreaking of Pike & Rose. The project will feature 1,500 residential units, 150,000 square feet of retail space, 1.1 million square feet of office space and a 250,000-square-foot hotel. It is located less than a quarter mile from the White Flint Metro station and is scheduled to open in 2014.
—Wildwood - The Montgomery County Planning Board is recommending approval of a plan that would put a five-story residential complex adjacent to the Wildwood Shopping Center south of the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. Some residents aren't pleased. “Adding so many more cars will make it unbearable to navigate the roads, and with more cars the chance of pedestrian accidents is increased,” wrote neighbor Brian Lewis in an email to planners. A public hearing is set for later this month.
—Wheaton Costco - Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, who introduced a bill in April to restrict "mega" gas stations in Montgomery County, found himself outnumbered at a meeting of the council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. County Executive Isiah Leggett says the bill unfairly targets Costco, which wants to put in one of the stations at its store under construction at Westfield Wheaton.
Patch Editor's One Cool Thing
From Laura Thornton, Chevy Chase Patch—The next time you set out for a cross-country road trip, be sure to make a stop at the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, OH, and think of the talent we have back home. The 265-acre sculpture park's newest addition is a 30-foot-high, stainless steel piece by Chevy Chase artist Barton Rubenstein. Weighing about a ton, the sculpture, Skybound, is made up of a series of hollow pieces that appear to be floating away from the ground. The sculpture will be in the park until 2014.
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