Thursday, December 31, 2015

Do you recognize these Montgomery Village robbery/assault suspects? (Photos)

Montgomery County Police have released surveillance camera photos of three suspects in a November 10 robbery and assault in Montgomery Village. Detectives say the three - and as many as two additional accomplices - robbed and assaulted two adult male victims around 3:00 AM at the Shell gas station located at 19300 Montgomery Village Avenue.

They took property and money from the victims, and fled the area in a silver colored vehicle.

Anyone with information regarding these suspects or the robbery and assault is asked to call the 6th District Investigative Section at 240-773-5770. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this felony crime.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Grinches caught after trying to sell $20K in stolen merchandise to officers across from Germantown police station

Ho, ho, oh no! A couple of alleged Grinches tried to steal Christmas in Germantown last Friday. Or, at least, $20,000 in merchandise from a resident's vehicle. Now one man is in custody, and his alleged accomplice out on bail, after attempting to resell the stolen loot to police officers directly across from a Montgomery County Police station.

Police say over $20,000 in merchandise was stolen from a vehicle parked on Diamond Hill Court in Germantown. Items taken included two infrared cameras, a 12 megapixel digital camera, 70-200mm camera lens, gear motor, circuit boards, Beats by Dre earphones, Ipod nano, and two laptops.

Around 2:00 p.m., a neighbor suggested the victim utilize a cell phone app named “Offer Up” to see if the stolen property may have been listed for sale. After checking the app, the victim discovered one of the stolen infrared cameras and Beats by Dre earphones for sale, and called the person listed as the seller of the property.

The victim told the seller that they were interested purchasing items, and agreed to meet at the Rite Aid located at 19927 Century Boulevard in Germantown (located in the shopping center across the street from the 5th District station). The victim notified the investigating officer in advance of the meeting.

At 6:00 p.m., 5th District officers arrived at the Rite Aid in an unmarked vehicle, and posed as the potential buyers of the stolen merchandise. Mulloy and Pestun were arrested when they showed the undercover officers the stolen property that they were attempting to sell. Pestun was in possession of the stolen Ipon nano at the time of the arrest. Officers located the remaining stolen property and returned all the items to the victim.

Casey A. Mulloy, 20, and Kyle Pestun, 27, both of unknown addresses, were transported to the Central Processing Unit and charged with one count of theft: $10,000 to under $100,000, one count of theft: less than $100, two counts of rogue and vagabond, and one count of conspiracy. Mulloy was released after posting $2,600 bond. Pestun remains held on a $7,500 bond.

Officers suspect there may be additional victims of thefts who have not reported the incidents to police. Anyone who has been a victim of a theft from vehicle, and has not already reported the theft, is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Montgomery County Council helps their billionaire sugar daddy evade taxes

Councilmember Hans Riemer, a
leading recipient of campaign
donations from billionaire
under investigation for tax evasion
Senate Finance Committee
investigating museum scheme

Most of the controversy surrounding Potomac billionaire Mitch Rales' Glenstone museum has related to its private operation, its addition of a sewer line, and his sugar daddy status to members of the Montgomery County Council, to whom he has donated tens of thousands of dollars. Now a U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigation is looking into another question - is Glenstone actually an art museum, or simply an easy way to avoid personal, capital gains and estate taxes through its Glenstone Foundation?

Councilmember Roger Berliner has received at least $27,000 from Rales, according to blogger Eric Hensal. The second-biggest recipient of money from Rales, a pioneer in outsourcing American jobs to China, has been Councilmember Hans Riemer. 

Riemer has used a mysterious out-of-state bounty of cash from a rogue's gallery of Wall Street scoundrels, banks, mortgage sharks, and lobbyists - who together caused the "Great Recession" - to win two council elections. Yet, he has faced no media scrutiny of his unusual campaign finances. 

Rales' Danaher Corporation wrested 140 jobs away from Hanover, Maryland alone, in a four-state liquidation of factories, as the linked video demonstrates. Is it surprising that Riemer would support a Wall Street outsourcer in evading taxes right here in Montgomery County? After all, Riemer also took a fat campaign check from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, another pioneer in closing factories, and outsourcing jobs to overseas countries. And, while receiving funds from anti-Obamacare lobbyists, Riemer endorsed dropping the public option from the Affordable Care Act in 2009, creating a huge payday for the insurance companies.

Both councilmen, and several other colleagues who received Rales booty, delivered a series of votes that enabled the expansion of Glenstone in recent years.

While they spoke of Glenstone as a public amenity, it is actually private, not open to just anyone to visit during set hours, and located on Rales' Potomac estate, nowhere near public transit infrastructure. Glenstone has already denied access to visitors, including reporters who have dared to criticize it.

The Senate Finance Committee has heard enough, and is now investigating whether Glenstone - enabled by the County Council - is violating IRS rules and evading taxes. While the New York Times accepted Glenstone's visitor numbers at face value, fortunately, the City Paper actually did the research and found just how few visitors there have been over the years in relation to similar facilities elsewhere - and that no visitor records are publicly available for the past two years.

Meanwhile, the City Paper found that Rales is stashing away more than $360,000,000 in Danaher stock in Glenstone, and another $26 million from his Janalia Corporation. Can you get into Glenstone? City Paper reporter Kriston Capps has been rejected from visiting twice. That's not a public museum.

Aside from determining whether tax evasion has occurred (gee, you think?) with the aid and abettance of the County Council, there is another possible benefit to the Senate-level investigation. Investigations tend to turn up more than what they start out looking for. Montgomery County has a false reputation as an ethical jurisdiction primarily because there have not been federal investigations here. In a federal probe, a lesser member of a political machine can be threatened with jail time - until he or she starts talking about the bigger scandal going on higher up, in exchange for leniency or immunity. 

Farm Road, the Silver Spring Transit Center, the Council-connected nonprofit that "lost" $900,000 in taxpayer money? In every case the politicians themselves were able to control what passed for an "investigation", and declare the case closed. While the feds seem to be in constant pursuit of African-American officials in the District and Prince George's County, our white Montgomery County and Maryland politicians continue to evade scrutiny.

That has to change.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Gaithersburg McDonald's shooting still under investigation

A Christmas Eve shooting at the McDonald's restaurant at 469 Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg remains under investigation by Montgomery County Police detectives. What is known to this point, is that a firearm was reportedly discharged inside the restaurant around 8:00 PM that night. When police and firefighters responded, neither the alleged shooter nor victim were present.

Police found evidence of a shooting inside the McDonald's restroom. At that time, they were alerted that a gunshot victim had arrived at a local hospital. No information regarding how that patient arrived at the hospital has been made available as of press time, but the man has been interviewed by detectives.

Anyone with information regarding this incident or the person(s) involved is asked to contact the 6th District Investigation Section at 240.773.5770. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 240-773-TIPS (8477) or Text-A-Tip to: CRIMES (274637), text MCPD and your crime tip. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Police searching for missing Germantown teen (Photo)

A Germantown teenager is missing, and Montgomery County Police are seeking the community's help in finding her. Rocio Beatriz Cardenas Gomez, 15, of the 12000 block of Kitchen House Way in Germantown, was last seen at her home on December 10. 

Rocio is described as a Latina, 5’05” tall, and weighing 120 pounds. She has brown eyes and black hair. When she was last seen, Rocio was wearing a green jacket, blue jeans, and black and white tennis shoes. She is known to frequent the area around Northwest High School, and the Clopper Mill Village Shopping Center in Germantown.

Police say they and her family are concerned for Rocio’s physical and emotional welfare.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Rocio Beatriz is asked to call the Montgomery County Police Special Victims Division at 240-773-5400 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24 hours).

Police investigate fatal crash in Damascus

Montgomery County Police are investigating a one-car accident that killed the vehicle's lone occupant Tuesday night around 6:25 PM. Officers responding to the scene in the 5200 block of Damascus Road found a silver, 2002 Volkswagen Passat that had exited the roadway and struck a utility pole.

The driver, David Mark Harris, 20, of the 20200 block of Lea Pond Place in Gaithersburg, died from his injuries at the scene.

This collision remains under investigation. Anyone who witnessed this collision is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fourth suspect charged in Montgomery Village homicide

Montgomery County Police have charged a fourth suspect in the November 2 homicide of Roberto Gutierrez Cruz in Montgomery Village. Edwin E. Reyes-Martinez, 18, of the unit block of Whetstone Drive in Montgomery Village has been charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, and with one count of possession of a handgun.

On November 2 around 12:42 p.m., 6th District officers and Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the woods behind the 18200 block of Contour Road after the report of a possibly injured person. A passerby had called 911. Officers located the victim, 22-year-old Roberto Gutierrez Cruz, of Lost Knife Road in Montgomery Village, deceased on the ground.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the manner of Cruz’s death a homicide and the cause of his death as multiple gunshot wounds. Three suspects were subsequently identified and charged in the case.

In the course of their investigation, detectives determined that Reyes-Martinez was involved in concealing the gun after the murder the murder. Although he was a minor at the time of the incident, he has been charged as an adult. Police have declined to release his mugshot, however.

Damascus homicide suspect charged with RIdge Road shooting death

Damascus homicide suspect
Francisco A. Trujillo
Montgomery County Police detectives have charged the suspect in the early morning murder of Mario Alberto Perez in a Damascus home. Officers and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the scene in the 24600 block of Ridge Road (MD 27), after receiving a 911 call at 12:38 AM Monday morning.

Responders found Perez suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso on the home's main level. He died at the scene despite efforts to save him.

Francisco A. Trujillo, 35, of the 24600 block of Ridge Road in Damascus, was taken into custody at the scene. Trujillo has now been charged with first-degree murder, and is being held without bond. Detectives say Trujillo invited Perez, of no confirmed address, to his home. An argument ensued between the two, and police allege Trujillo then shot Perez.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cafe Deluxe closes in Gaithersburg (Photos)

Cafe Deluxe has closed in Gaithersburg. Located in the Rio/Washingtonian Center, the restaurant was usually crowded and had popular boardwalk seating overlooking the water. The chain's other locations remain open.

Cafe Deluxe opened at Rio in November 2011. I'm personally disappointed, because this was one of my favorite restaurants at Rio, serving one of my favorite DC-area dishes, their Chicken Pot Pie. Fortunately, they still have their other locations.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Woodfield Commons approved in Damascus despite 100% resident opposition

Yesterday was a historic day for the Montgomery County Planning Board. Two unanimous votes by the body signaled authoritatively that the County is walking away from its self-proclaimed commitment to "smart growth." In approving the Westbard Sector Plan, the Board endorsed transit-oriented density for a location not served by any form of rapid transit. It is a plan with heights and density written as if the Purple Line was being extended to Westbard, but without actually extending it. And in rural Damascus, the Board approved what will be the tallest building in town, and with minimal parking spaces in an entirely-auto-dependent exurban town.

How do you know you have a dysfunctional Planning Board? When two agenda items on the same day both end with citizens interrupting and shouting at the Board. And the Board Chair bickering back and forth with them in response. How do things unravel to that unruly point? Maybe because in both cases, the Board just completely ignored the residents' opinions, and approved two items for which there was either 99% resident opposition (Westbard), or 100% resident opposition (Woodfield Commons).

If anyone still harbored any doubt as to whether developers literally control Montgomery County, that wishful thinking was quickly dispelled Thursday.

We no longer need to hold Planning Board meetings, or have a public Sector Plan process. Kabuki theater good cop/bad cop shows aside, everything has gone exactly as the developers wanted in both cases. Any public input unacceptable to the developers was simply disregarded.

Westbard passed with the excessive height and density, no enforceable protection for gas stations or mom-and-pop businesses, not a single highway capacity improvement, and a last-minute affordable housing dump on the Little Falls Library site. How much of the County's right-of-way plans, land grabs next to the Capital Crescent Trail ,and intriguingly-vague plans for certain parts of the River Road industrial area south of the road relate to secret plans to extend the Purple Line - and perhaps even dump a rail yard there - should tax the minds of the greatest conspiracy theorists in Montgomery County for the next decade.

There's no point getting excited, of course. There will be absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Call your Councilman? He or she is likely funded by the developer, and his or her Chief of Staff may have even tweeted approval of the developer before the public has even had a chance to weigh in (yes, that actually happened). Plead with staff? If the staff responds to resident concerns, the Board simply puts the offending proposal back into the plan prior to the vote. Testify at the Board? Sure. Talk on. But ask the folks who took off from work, and drove literally the length of the County through the rain to testify yesterday, how successful you will be.

Without the fig leaf of the Purple Line (Chevy Chase Lake) or even a MARC line (Kensington), the Board made history in ramming through high-density at Westbard, which is far beyond the consensus walking distance from Metro smart growth experts would recommend.

In Damascus, the Board not only approved a 55' building in a rural area, but one that will offer 89% affordable units. No, that's not a typo. In 2015, the Board approved a Great Society-style housing project widely discredited in urban areas today. In a rural area, where those low-income residents will find little (weekdays) to no (the sole bus connection, Ride On Route 90, doesn't run on weekends) transit, few job opportunities, and no social services. Makes perfect sense, right? Meanwhile, in downtown Bethesda, luxury condos "from the several millions" are rising in corridor previously set aside for affordable housing.

After getting more than an earful from residents, 100% of which opposed Woodfield Commons, several commissioners pleaded impotence. We can't do anything to stop it, they said, because the proposal is consistent with the current Damascus master plan.

Except, it isn't. That plan designated two properties in the "town center" for a development such as Woodfield Commons. But Woodfield Commons is proposed for neither of those sites.

The plan said that views of the surrounding rural and agricultural area could not be obstructed. Resident measurements found that Woodfield Commons will indeed obstruct views.

Resident Ron Turner noted that the zoning of the site permits 78 units; 84 have been proposed.

And, as Commissioner Amy Presley noted despite ultimately voting to approve Woodfield Commons, developments of that type were specifically required by the plan to provide some benefit or enhancement to the existing residents of Damascus, and help make for a livelier downtown. Woodfield Commons is all-residential, and contains no public amenities and no retail.

But wait, there's more.

Anderson stated that the only purview the Board has, is to determine that an application is compliant with not only the master plan, but also consider whether it will too severely impact road and school capacity.

But the data used by staff is clearly false. In a town where it can take several light cycles to get through an intersection, and where traffic snakes all the way out of the "downtown" during rush hour, the Planning Department's traffic gurus say no intersections are failing. It's pick-your-head-off-the-floor-and-screw-it-back-on-disbelief time here, folks. A chart shows that, for over 168 residents, only 30 cars will drive out in the morning, and only 26 return in the evening (should we send out a search party for the missing 4?). With stats like these, who needs laughing gas?

They also say the applicant for Woodfield Commons will only need to provide a school payment at the middle school level, despite the town's crowded, aging schools.

And what about the environmental issues? No issues, staff and the Board said yesterday. But neither they, no the applicant, were able to produce a letter from the Maryland Department of the Environment yesterday to prove the state had actually washed their hands of oversight of the wetlands on the property slated to become Woodfield Commons. Did Anderson tenaciously pursue that lapse of documentation, and potential violation of the rules? Nope.
Steep descent from Route 27
into the shopping center;
stream valley lies in the distance
Being very familiar with the site, I am shocked at the assessment by both the Planning Department, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that there is no significant environmental impact for this project. Just to give you an idea of the topography there, look how steep the drop is from the elevation at Route 27 (from which the above photo was taken) into the shopping center property. Now consider that beyond that shopping center, directly across the street from it, is another steep drop off into a stream valley. Wouldn't the runoff heading down toward that stream be tremendous and high in velocity during rainstorms? There are wetlands on the property, as well as wetland buffers.

You tell me. You tell me.

Or let the residents of Damascus tell you.

Jason Goldsmith testified that Maryland law says when you have a steep slope next to a wetland, there are certain things that cannot be done.

The broad consensus? This is simply more low-income housing than the town can bear. Damascus Gardens, one of two low-income housing sites in the Damascus area, generated more than 200 calls for police this year alone, said resident George Boyce. That "troubled community" has experienced shootings, homicides, sexual assaults, open-air drug markets and even prostitution investigations - all within 500 yards of Damascus High School (even worse, Damascus Elementary is diagonally across the street from the high school).

Jim Brown, a 20-year Damascus resident, said Damascus Gardens alone requires off-duty officers to patrol it 26 hours a week. Even after 200 police officers raided the Damascus Gardens complex (can you imagine this in "wealthy" Montgomery County?), and 18 suspects were charged with felony distribution, the level of police calls remains just as high.

I can tell you that, directly across the street from Damascus Gardens, the single-family home neighborhood has erected forboding Neighborhood Watch signage that says the tag numbers of all vehicles entering the neighborhood are being reported to the police. That level of crime and aggressive signage to combat it have to take a toll on property values.

A Metropolitan Police Department officer who lives in Damascus said she grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn, and saw the worst at an early age: murders, shootings and drugs in her own housing complex. "There is a relationship between low-income housing and crime. I've lived it," she said. She noted that she had chosen to live in Damascus, and drives two-and-half hours each day, to escape those kind of neighborhoods.

"You cannot deny that these types of developments often bring crime," argued Jim Mullally, who lives only a block from Damascus Gardens. Calling such public housing "an antiquated policy tool," he recommended commissioners take the Woodfield Commons proposal and "put it into a housing policy museum where it belongs."

Testimony became emotional at times. A Damascus High School student who had to miss class, and get a ride from a teacher, just to get to the afternoon public hearing, broke down in tears at the end of his testimony. "We are nothing more than a rock on the railroad tracks of your [proposal], just waiting to be shoved aside," he said. Planning Director Gwen Wright brought tissues over to the distraught young man as the Board moved on to the next speaker. "Damascus is our home, our community, our everything," said resident Gretchen Goldsmith, who described the connection of upcounty growth with the increase in crime, bullying and school safety issues since 2007. Already, school personnel are "gravely overtaxed" meeting the growing challenges, she said. Resident Patty Walker delivered a Powerpoint presentation highlighting the small town charm of Damascus, and how best to preserve it. Her daughter Kelly noted that numerous blended classes on her middle school schedule were reducing the rigor and quality of her education. Longtime resident Pat Fenati recalled her children's "idyllic childhood" growing up when many of the roads were still dirt. "People who move to the country don't want the city to follow them there," she said.

While the testimony was never angry in nature, residents were angered by the end of the meeting when the Board made clear that, despite 100% of testimony having opposed the project, it was going to go ahead and approve it.

If the Board didn't approve Woodfield Commons, "We will get sued, and we'll lose," Anderson predicted.

Jessica Zuniga, representing developer Conifer, which has partnered with the Housing Opportunities Commission for Woodfield Commons, defended her company's record. "We are an award-winning owner and manager of affordable housing," she said. "I do not believe that we are concentrating poverty with this project."

Anderson moved ahead to the vote. The crowd grew upset. "I'm sorry if that's not satisfactory to you," Anderson said.

"Vistas and the views must be maintained," quoted one resident from the master plan. "There is a're ignoring the master plan," that audience member said as Anderson tried to speak louder over it. "We took testimony for two hours," he replied. "You didn't listen!" someone shouted. "Don't say you're conforming to the master plan, so just admit it please!"

Commissioner Natali Fani-Gonzalez made a motion to approve the project; it and the site plan were approved unanimously.

Residents stormed out, stunned. "You just lost a lot of citizens from your county, damn it! I'm moving," one shouted at the Board. Some were in tears.

Surely an overwhelming turnout, with logical, fact-based opposing arguments, and not a single person testifying in favor of the plan, would have an impact and move the Board to postpone or address the concerns, right?


Anderson seemed to contradict his past arguments in two ways. First, in defending the Board from criticism by "Westbard" residents, Anderson had previously argued that he and the Board were indispensible, and able to make land-use decisions that residents are simply incapable of comprehending the longer-term value of. Now, in claiming impotence, Anderson presents us with a passive body that can only rubber stamp applications (notice every single one was approved yesterday).

Second, Anderson often chastizes people for getting too detailed at the sector plan stage. "This is more of a site plan issue," is the often-heard phrase. Yesterday shot that argument full of holes.

If indeed that idea is true, then it means the people literally have no recourse. We can't request a protection be put in at the Sector Plan writing stage. But if we let it go then, it turns out that when we go to the vaunted site plan stage, we can't ask about it, either. And the Board is supposedly powerless to stop anything at that juncture, Anderson made clear yesterday.

So where exactly does public input have any relevance? Why did residents in Bethesda and Damascus spend hours researching, attending meetings and testifying, only to find what they opposed sailing through to approval.

It's outrageous.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Copper Canyon Grill invites Gaithersburg home for the holidays (Photos)

I was invited to a preview of the Home for the Holidays holiday menu at Copper Canyon Grill last evening. You can order this as a take-out meal for four with 2 days advance notice. It doesn't matter which holidays you are celebrating, either, as the deal will be available through January 1, 2016.
Anthony Peake, Executive Chef
and Director of Culinary Education
at Copper Canyon Grill, talks
about the recipes he created for
the holiday menu
The menu offers many traditional favorites, from rotisserie turkey to mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and - of course - stuffing. There's also the occasional modern dish - like bacon mac & cheese. Last night, I had the pumpkin cheesecake, which is a seasonal dessert. On the take-out menu, the dessert choices are Key Lime Pie and Bread Pudding with Grand Marnier Sauce.

The take-out meal is available from all Copper Canyon Grill locations, including Rio/Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg, and downtown Silver Spring. In addition, if you're seeking a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, the Silver Spring Copper Canyon Grill will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

I started off the meal with a glass of a 2013 Iris Vineyards Pinot Gris from Oregon. It's pretty good, with a citrus flavor, and a score of 91 from Wine Enthusiast. You might want to give the Albino Rocca Chardonnay Langhe from Italy a try, though, because the description sounds like it is perfectly paired to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Let's start with the turkey. I'm more of a dark meat person when it comes to turkey, and especially, chicken. But the white meat was very tender on this rotisserie turkey, with a nicely-crisp skin. If you're like me, you may have had some tough white meat turkey in restaurants. That won't happen here.
For me, stuffing is the main event of the Thanksgiving dinner. You won't be disappointed with this cornbread stuffing from Chef Anthony Peake's own grandmother's recipe. It includes my one must-have ingredient for stuffing - sage.

The mashed potatoes have a traditional flavor, and it's a rich one enhanced with sour cream. There was a good balance of sweet and tart in the cranberry sauce, and you'll definitely want some extra gravy.
Green beans
Sweet glazed carrots

A nice seasoning on
the green beans
For a vegetable choice, I would go with the Sweet Glazed Carrots. I was searching for every last one hiding on the plate. The green beans would certainly fit the bill, though, if that is your personal preference. I just thought the carrots had a little something extra.
The bacon Mac & Cheese was super-rich with 3 cheeses, and finely-chopped raw onion added an extra zing of flavor throughout.

There were several fresh breads on hand from sister restaurant Stanford Grill's in-house bakery in Rockville. It seemed like the biggest hit at the table was the cornbread.

For the big finish, a huge slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake appeared. It was topped with whipped cream and a rich chocolate ganache. A fantastic finish to a delicious early Thanksgiving dinner. Why have just one a year, after all?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Regal Cinemas Germantown to begin searching bags of moviegoers

Regal Cinemas has responded to the latest movie theater shootings with a new bag check policy at its theaters nationwide. The cineplex giant operates the Regal Cinemas Germantown 14. Its new policy reads as follows:

Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety.

The security check policy applies to bags, backpacks and packages, including purses.

Regal's corporate Facebook page is blowing up with customer backlash against the new policy, with many patrons feeling their 2nd and 4th Amendment rights are being violated. A few posters thanked the chain for ensuring their theaters would be gun-free zones.

Regal patrons weighed in on
both sides of the issue on
the chain's Facebook page
However, Regal's policy does not explicitly state which legal or illegal items would not be allowed to be brought into the theater. Nor does it specifically refer to firearms, even though it would seem obvious that weapons and explosives would be the primary intent of the policy.

Such a policy would not have prevented the infamous Aurora, Colorado theater mass shooting in 2012. In that incident, the shooter left the theater through the emergency exit. He then retrieved weapons, explosives and other materials from his car, and re-entered through that exit, which he had propped open enough to prevent it from locking.

That case made clear the security issues caused by a lack of ushers regularly patrolling theaters, as they once did not that many years ago. Had an usher simply ensured that door was closed on a routine walkthrough, and thereby locked to outside intruders, the shooter would have been foiled.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Poll: Edwards now leading Van Hollen in U.S. Senate race

Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards has moved ahead of Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the Democratic race for exiting U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski's seat, according to a new poll. The poll, commissioned by the Edwards campaign, shows her currently beating Van Hollen by 42%-37% among Maryland registered Democrats.

Garrick Delzell, Edwards' campaign manager, attributed her surge to voters believing she better represents their everyday economic concerns than Van Hollen. Voters identify with Edwards as a single mom, Delzell said in an email, who "knows what it’s like to juggle bills, insurance, and a career."

Van Hollen has so far drawn a huge advantage from many wealthy establishment supporters, and a massive campaign chest funded partly by Wall Street interests. The Montgomery County congressman has led the race all year in polls and in fundraising.

Edwards' lack of establishment support has put many county and state Democratic officials in a odd position, one that could come back to haunt them in the future.

Most of Montgomery County's political machine is squarely behind Van Hollen, despite Edwards' potential to be the first African-American to be elected to the Senate from Maryland. Former Rockville Mayor and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan is one of the few prominent former or current officials here to endorse her campaign.

In a statement after the poll results were released Tuesday, Edwards said, "Marylanders want someone who will fight for progressive values and the issues that matter to working families. These results show that Maryland primary voters believe I will be that voice."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

JBG Companies employees log 10,000 community service hours (Photos)

Friendship Heights-based development firm The JBG Companies has wrapped up its annual summer Days of Service, and its employees have now accumulated 10,000 hours of volunteerism. They received paid time off to volunteer with community groups and causes of their choice.

This year, they helped prepare more than 34,000 meals for delivery to individuals in need, assisted in getting 1,200 pounds of fresh produce into the community, helped connect groups that serve the homeless with $47,000 of donated goods, and hauled more than 3,000 pounds of trash from the Anacostia River watershed, to name a few.

In these photos, JBG employees are on-site at a Gaithersburg home to provide free repairs and renovations that would not have been financially feasible without their assistance.

“Because of your investment and your team’s efforts, we were able to make significant improvements to the home of Army veteran Charles Sherman and his wife, Anne Colbert in Gaithersburg, Maryland,” Rebuilding Together of Montgomery County’s Executive Director Christina Betancourt Johnson told JBG in a thank you message. “With the help of your employee-volunteers and vendor support, we transformed their home into a safer and healthier environment for their family today and in years to come.”

JBG is the developer of Downtown Crown in Gaithersburg, a new, mixed-use urban development adjacent to Rio/Washingtonian Center.

Photos courtesy JBG Companies

Monday, August 17, 2015

New Americans Expo October 4 in Silver Spring

(Una traducción española de este artículo se puede encontrar a continuación)

Nonprofits, businesses and government agencies will gather at the Silver Spring Civic Center on October 4 from noon to 6:00 PM for the New Americans Expo 2015. The event is a one-stop shop for new Americans to learn about programs, services and products that will help them in adapting to and navigating life in America.

This year's expo is being led by 4 New Americans Ambassadors, YouTube personality and model Cindy Gamez, Kemi Fadojutimi of the TV show All Eyes on Africa, Miss Maryland 2013 Lyz Denizard, and John Cabrera of CF Alliance.

Attendees will be able to get information and assistance on legal services, insurance, banking, education, travel, how to obtain a driver's license, and employment options.

There will also be live music and performers, including singer-songwriter David Amaya, who is composing a song specifically for the event. Giveaways will include free toys for kids.

Two awards will be given during the afternoon - a Community Inclusion award for a local nonprofit, and an Appreciation Award for the organizations and volunteers participating in the expo.

Proceeds from the New Americans Expo 2015 will be distributed among four nonprofits that serve the immigrant community: Catholic Charities, Identity, El Poder de Ser Mujer and Etnika Foundation.

Admission to the event is free. You can register online.

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Organizaciones no lucrativas, empresas y agencias gubernamentales se reunirán en el Centro Cívico de Silver Spring, el 4 de octubre desde el mediodía hasta las 18:00 de la Expo Nuevos Americanos de 2015. El evento es una ventanilla única para los nuevos estadounidenses a aprender sobre programas, servicios y productos que les ayudará en la adaptación a la vida en Estados Unidos.

Expo de este año está siendo dirigido por 4 nuevos americanos Embajadores, YouTube personalidad y la modelo Cindy Gamez, Kemi Fadojutimi del programa de televisión All Eyes on Africa, Miss Maryland 2013 Lyz Denizard, y Juan Cabrera de CF Alianza.

Los asistentes podrán obtener información y asistencia sobre servicios legales, seguros, banca, educación, viajes, cómo obtener una licencia de conducir, y las opciones de empleo.

También habrá música y artistas en vivo, incluyendo el cantautor David Amaya, quien está componiendo una canción especialmente para el evento. Sorteos incluirán juguetes gratis para los niños.

Dos premios se entregarán durante la tarde - un premio de Inclusión Comunitaria para una organización no lucrativa local y un premio de la apreciación de las organizaciones y voluntarios que participan en la feria.

Producto de la New Americans Expo 2015 se distribuirán entre cuatro organizaciones no lucrativas que sirven a la comunidad de inmigrantes: Catholic Charities, Identity, El Poder de Ser Mujer y Etnika Foundation.

La entrada al evento es gratis.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Germantown murder suspect in custody (Photo)

Montgomery County Police have arrested a suspect in the Tuesday murder of William Palacios in Germantown. Miguel Angel Rodriguez-Gaona, 36, of N. Summit Drive in Gaithersburg, has been charged with first-degree murder for the homicide. Detectives believe the incident was domestic in nature.

Palacios was found stabbed in his home in the 12900 block of Walnut View Court around 11:30 Tuesday evening. He later died at an undisclosed hospital.

Police say the girlfriend of Palacios was Rodriguez-Gaona's ex-girlfriend. The latter confronted the couple in the parking lot outside Palacios' home. He argued with Palacios, and then stabbed him multiple times, police allege.

Rodriguez-Gaona was located and arrested around noon Wednesday in Baltimore. He is being transferred back to Montgomery County for prosecution.

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

5 assaults, 1 kidnapping + more - Gaithersburg crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes from the Gaithersburg area on August 8, according to crime data:

Assault. 1 block W. Watkins Mill Road at 8:23 PM.

Burglary. 18500 block N. Frederick Avenue at 5:40 PM.

Assault. 19500 block Brassie Place (Montgomery Village).

Theft from vehicle. 19900 block Spur Hill Drive (Montgomery Village).

Kidnapping. 500 block S. Frederick Avenue at 6:38 PM.

Assault. 400 block N. Frederick Avenue at 1:25 PM.

Assault. 100 block Teachers Way at 9:54 PM.

Assault. 100 block Ellington Boulevard at 1:12 PM (Downtown Crown).

Monday, August 10, 2015

Police investigating Gaithersburg accident

Montgomery County Police are investigating a one car crash that occurred Saturday night in Gaithersburg. Police say a 2004 Infiniti driven by Ana C. Martinez de Sanchez, 28, of Gaithersburg was traveling north in the southbound lanes of Muddy Branch Road around 9:30 PM, when it struck a traffic island at the intersection with W. Diamond Avenue.

Martinez de Sanchez and two children in the vehicle were transported to local hospitals with injuries. A 6-year-old passenger suffered life-threatening injuries. No update on his condition is available at press time. The others' injuries were not life-threatening, according to police, who are investigating whether or not alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

Anyone who witnessed this collision, or has information about it, is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Montgomery County Police K9 gets bulletproof vest courtesy of donors (Photos)

Lambert, a K9 with the Montgomery County Police Department, has received a bulletproof vest, provided by the generosity of Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., and the Henry A. Strohminger Family Foundation, Incorporated.  The Strohminger Family Foundation, based in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, donated the cost of Lambert’s vest, which was $950.00.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans may be interested to know Lambert is named for linebacker Jack Lambert. His handler is Officer Bill Seidel.

Photos courtesy Montgomery County Police

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Smoking and e-cigs extinguished at most Gaithersburg parks

Smoking is now prohibited within 25 feet of city playgrounds in Gaithersburg, including e-cigarettes, under a new park ordinance passed by the Mayor and Council in July. The rules took effect yesterday. Only some smaller parks, such as Constitution Gardens, are exempt from the 25-foot ban.

Other changes under the new ordinance? The dog exercise area at Green Park is now for city residents only, and sledding, tobogganing, snowboarding, and skiing are now permitted in city parks. Not permitted? Launching model rockets without permission from the city.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mother charged with murder of 5-year-old son after fiery Sam Eig Highway "crash" (Photo)

A flaming 1993 Toyota Corolla off the side of Sam Eig Highway on June 16, near Fields Road in Gaithersburg, was the fiery start to a bizarre case Montgomery County Police detectives found suspicious from the beginning. Their investigation has concluded the driver, Narges Shafeirad, allegedly poisoned her 5-year-old son, Daniel Dana, with Diphenhydramine.

Police allege Shafeirad then placed her son in the car, apparently staged an auto accident, then lit the inside of the car on fire. She suffered severe burns and remains hospitalized, despite escaping the burning car.

But police say she will be taken to a detention center soon for processing, after being charged with 1st degree murder, and arson in the first degree.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Police to update public on fiery Sam Eig Hwy. crash investigation today

Today at 11:30 AM, Montgomery County Police will hold a press conference, at which they will detail their progress in the investigation of a fatal crash at Sam Eig Highway and Fields Road on June 16, 2015.

That wreck resulted in the death of a 5-year-old child, Daniel Dana. His mother, Narges Shafeirad, 33, was seriously injured and hospitalized. The suspicious nature of the accident led police to launch an investigation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Police investigating fatal accident in Clarksburg

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Collision Reconstruction Unit are investigating a fatal, single-vehicle crash in Clarksburg on July 28. Richard Pliszak, 54, of the 4500 block of Roop Road in Mount Airy was killed Tuesday when his 2007 Ford Fusion struck a utility pole in the 26600 block of Clarksburg Road around 9:24 PM.

Investigators are seeking to determine the cause of the crash. Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.