Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jesse Christopherson running for open council seat in Ward 1

Jesse Christopherson and his wife live in Mount Rainier with their two sons. He is a Mount Rainier Tree Commissioner and volunteer at the Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center. He has lived in Mount Rainier for three years, and in Northeast Washington, D.C. for five years before that. He is a writer and editor, and has also worked as a congressional staffer and reporter.
His vision for Mount Rainier focuses on preserving the city’s character by fostering the arts and protecting our beautiful historic architecture, caring for the environment and our green spaces, and fully funding public safety.

He also intends to push for progress by increasing and diversifying budget resources, promoting community-appropriate development in our business districts, and saving money through shared resources with neighboring communities.

For more details, check out his web site, and follow his campaign on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Historic Chillum Giant to Close in April

The Hyattsville Patch is reporting that the Giant on Queens Chapel Rd. will close next month. This store is located in a shopping center that has been in annexation discussions with Mount Rainier on and off for many years. Although Shoppers is not that much farther away, this is a blow to Mount Rainier residents, especially the elderly, who depend on this Giant location for easily accessible groceries.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

FY 2014 Budget meeting tonight

Do you have an opinion on how the city will spend money this coming year? Come to City Hall tonight (One Municipal Place) to hear City Manager Jeannelle Wallace's presentation on the FY 2014 budget and to let the mayor and council know about your priorities.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ward 2 Resident Announces Challenge to City Council Incumbent

Ward 2 resident Jarrett Stoltzfus announced his candidacy today for the seat currently held by City Councilwoman Ivy Thompson. Thompson has not officially announced her intentions for the upcoming election. Stoltzfus's announcement and biographical information were published on a website created especially for his campaign.

City Councilman Brent Bolin holds the other seat in Ward 2, and he is not up for reelection this year. In Ward 1, City Councilman Bill Updike has declined to defend his seat, but so far no one has publicized any intention to run.

Ward 1 City Councilman Jimmy Tarlau's seat is not on the ballot this year. However, at the City Council's special budget meeting on Tuesday, February 12, Mayor Malinda Miles said publicly that she might not run for a third term. If she declines to run the smart money says Tarlau will, potentially creating a second vacancy in Ward 1.

Candidates for mayor or city council must submit petitions with at least 20 valid resident signatures on April 1 in order to appear on the ballot. The citywide election will be held May 6. For more information, see Mount Rainier's official website.

Budget crunch details

The budget shortfall is even bigger than feared. For details, see City Councilman Brent Bolin's blog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thanks, Jimmy!

Thank you to City Councilman Jimmy Tarlau for convincing Verizon to switch its cables from the old poles to the new poles. Next step, I hope, is removing the old ones.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On the budget

Dear Mayor Miles and Council Members Tarlau and Updike:
When I bought my home here a little over three years ago, the estimated property taxes gave me pause. However, home prices were low enough compared to the District that I took the plunge. I'm glad I did because I think Mount Rainier has a bright future. Our first priority should be to find more revenue in order to provide residents with the services they want. We should follow Hyattsville's example and annex adjacent commercial properties aggressively. I would also support temporarily raising taxes enough to maintain current service levels. Ultimately, I would like to see the tax rate go down, but first we need to increase our tax base. 

If the City Council has to make cuts, we need to be careful not to cut our feet out from underneath us. For example, the police department is not fully staffed. Skimping on police protection will tend to hurt our property values and erode our tax base. Crime has been reduced in Mount Rainier, but I would go so far as to suggest filling the vacant police position. Let's kick crime while it's down and eliminate problem areas like the BP Station at Eastern and Varnum for good. We should also consider investing in an economic development staffer, like we've had before, who can focus on increasing our prosperity while freeing up other staff to provide essential services. Finally, anything that tends to improve the public’s perception of Mount Rainier, and consequently attracts businesses and residents, would be a good investment now. This could include blight remediation, tree planting, code enforcement, and miscellaneous beautification projects.

Jesse Christopherson

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mount Rainier to Make Budget Cuts

Mount Rainier's budget for FY 2014 will be approximately $350,000 less than FY 2013 due to falling property tax assessments. City Council Member Brent Bolin has pushed for a special meeting tomorrow, February 12 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, to hear about residents' budget priorities. There are going to be cuts, and this is your chance to tell the city which services are important to you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Delegate Summers' update

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Hello Friends,

It has been a busy few weeks in Annapolis since the 2013 Session convened on January 9th. We have many important issues before us this year.

A few of the more prominent debates this year will be centered on the repeal of the death penalty in the state of Maryland, the Governor's proposal for off-shore wind power, gun reform, Marcellus Shale drilling (sometimes known as "fracking"), speed cameras and driving statistics, and the State's implementation of the national health care reforms. Each standing committee receives policy briefings on the issues that legislators will address in their committee. The briefings are listed on the General Assembly's website (mgaleg.maryland.gov) under the Schedules headings on the home page. If these topics are of interest to you,you will find the briefings very informative.

In addition, this week the Governor introduced a proposed $37.3 billion fiscal 2014 budget for the State. A few of the Budget highlights include:
  • The general fund structural deficit is reduced by more than $200 million to $166 million; 83 Cents of every FY14 General Fund Dolllar goes to education, health and public safety.
  •  State universities and colleges receive an increase of 7.4%. Tuition at Maryland colleges has gone from the 6th highest tuition in the Nation in 2007 to the 27th in the most recent surveys. Five of Maryland's educational institutions are among Kiplinger's top 100 public colleges, including the University of Maryland, College Park at number 5 in the country.
  • Violent crime is down almost 25%; the budget increases local police aid to a 20 year high,
  • Maryland is the 9th fastest in the Nation in job recovery, recovering 80% of the jobs lost during the recession; the Capital Budget infrastructure investments will support 43,000 jobs.
You can find more general budget and other information here at The Legislative Wrap-Uphttp://mgaleg.maryland.gov/pubs-current/current-legislative-wrap-up.pdf, a summary of the week's activities, published by the Department of Legislative Services. It is a short, informative newsletter to help you keep abreast of the happenings in Annapolis.

I strongly encourage you to share your views with me on these important issues which will affect you and all Marylanders in the months and years to come. Please feel free to stop by my office in 203 of the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis, or email me at michael.summers@house.state.md.us and let me know what is important to you.


Michael G. Summers

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jimmy Tarlau's Ward 1 Report for December 2012

Update on Development Project on 3200 Block of Rhode Island Avenue – Last month the Mayor and Council voted to move ahead with working with 
Streetsense and the Neighborhood Design Company (their partner) in developing the 3200 Block of Rhode Island Avenue (former funeral home, Bass Parking Lot and Thrifty Car Rental lot).   The Mayor and Council spent some time preparing a Land Disposition Agreement that contains the conditions the City wants in the sale agreement of the City-owned properties (e.g. sale price, environmental quality of project, parking, time lines, etc.).  The City Attorney and City Manager are now preparing to negotiate with the developers over the agreement and hopefully early next month an agreement will be hammered out and the project can move ahead.  The developer’s time line as stated at the Council meeting was to have the project completed in 2015. 

Meanwhile we have heard that there are a few different people interested in developing the 3300 Block of Rhode Island Avenue (Singer Building, Pawn Shop, ‘Circle Cafe’ Building) and the County Redevelopment Authority has put out an RFP (request for proposal) for the former Northeast Plumbing Supply building on 38th and Rhode Island Avenue.  It is a good sign that developers are now interested in investing in this area.

Mount Rainier-Gateway 5K Run Set for Saturday April 27th Our area now has a number of recreational runners.  There is even a Brentwood-Mount Rainier Facebook Group.  The Youth and Recreational Committee has decided to sponsor a 5K run which will run on a Saturday morning in late April. There will also be a 1 Mile walk/run for those who are not up for a 5K run.  We hope to attract runners from around the area to our City and try and make this an annual event.  We need some volunteers (for registration, handing out water on the route, and making sure people don’t get lost) so please e-mail if you’d like to volunteer or participate in the run. 

Double Poles – An Increasing Eyesore in Our City – While  I appreciate the upgrading that PEPCO is doing in our City, I am  getting increasingly aggravated over the fact that when PEPCO puts in a new light pole (sometimes to have the wires go higher than some of our trees) they don’t remove the old pole.  So now instead of having one pole in a limited sidewalk area we have two poles.  PEPCO says that Verizon and Comcast have to link their wires to the new poles before the old poles can be removed.  I have started contacting the utilities, the regulatory authorities and our state representatives about this problem.  If you see a double pole in your area that you’d like to have removed, send me an email with the address and the pole number and I’ll add it to my list of poles which I am compiling for PEPCO, Verizon, and Comcast. 
I am also trying to get Verizon and Comcast to clean up all the loose wires they have lying on the ground.  The wires are supposed to be tied up neatly after they wire a house for cable/telephone service.  If you know of a place where there are loose wires, let me know about this. 

Community Services Task Force – How we can help our neighbors in need?  That is the main purpose of a Task Force set up by the Mayor and Council.  There are times in the past when I and others have wanted to have a vehicle in our City to assist our neighbors who are in need because of damage from a storm, fire or flood.  There are people who have asked me how to obtain assistance. I have not in the past known the answers to these questions, though I know there are organizations who offer assistance.   This task force will help to identify organizations that have resources and programs for people in need and will work with the City staff in communicating to the residents how to obtain this help and how residents can assist their neighbors in time of need.  The Task Force will make recommendations to the Council by September 2013.  We’re looking for residents to be members of this task force.  If you’re interested please let me know.

Union Market in Northeast DC  http://unionmarketdc.comAnother great quality of life improvement for living in our area.  The totally renovated market is at 1309 5th Street NE across from Gallaudet University and a ten-minute drive from downtown Mount Rainier.  I have become a regular customer.  They are now open Wed-Fri 11 to 8 and Sat & Sun  8 to 8.  Here is a list of some of the vendors:

All Things Olive
Almaala Farms
Buffalo & Bergen
Curbside Cupcakes
DC Empanadas
Harvey’s Market
Lyon Bakery
Oh! Pickles
Peregrine Espresso
Rappahannock Oysters Co.
Red Apron Butchery
Righteous Cheese
Salt & Sundry
Trickling Springs Creamery

City Reviewing Emergency Preparedness Plan – The Council has appointed a Committee to review the City’s Emergency Operations Plan.  This plan directs city staff in case of an emergency created by a natural event (hurricane, snow storm, flood, earthquake) or human-created event (hostage situation, terrorist incident).  What are the evacuation plans? How do we communicate with residents without internet?  What staff is needed to be available?  Where should they be placed?  If you would like to help with this review, the next meeting is set for Monday February 4th at 6 PM at the Mount Rainier Police Department.

MR Home Tour Scheduled for Sunday May 5th:  We’ve rescheduled the home tour for May 5th.  It will be from 1 to 5 PM.  We have a number of homes scheduled for the tour but are always looking for more. If you’re willing to let your neighbors see what you’ve done in your home, let me know.  If you’re just willing to help out and make the Home Tour a success, we could use some more volunteers.

Save the Dates:
March  16, 2013 – Electronic Recycling, Public Works Garage 3715 Wells Avenue, Mount Rainier, MD 9am-1pm contact Ruth Sandy {confirm that this is her name (throughout)} at rsandy@mountrainiermd.org;

Saturday, May 18, 2013 Annual Mount Rainier Day Festival Rhode Island Avenue– parade begins at 11:00 am; Vendor booths, performances/entertainment, basketball tournament and kids play corner commence at 12Noon. Contact jlomax@mountrainiermd.org; county/state/local officials should be invited {This needs to be edited}

Saturday June 15, 2013 Electronic Recycling, Public Works Garage 3715 Wells Avenue, Mount Rainier, MD 9am-1pm contact Ruth Sany atrsandy@mountrainiermd.org

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - National Night Out, 6-9 pm Location TBD contact Chief Michael Scott at mscott@mountrainierpd.org; county/state/local officials should be invited{ditto throughout}

Saturday September 21, 2013 - Electronic Recycling, Public Works Garage 3715 Wells Avenue, Mount Rainier, MD 9am-1pm contact Ruth Sandy at rsandy@mountrainiermd.org

Saturday, December 7, 2013 – Annual Craft Fair – Joe’s Movement Emporium 10 am – 6pm contact jtarlau@cwa-unioni.org; county/state/local officials should be invited

Saturday, December 21, 2013 - Electronic Recycling, Public Works Garage 3715 Wells Avenue, Mount Rainier, MD 9am-1pm contact Ruth Sandy at rsandy@mountrainiermd.org

Lawrence Guyot - Lawrence Guyot, a Mount Rainier resident and civil rights leader, passed away last month.  I’m pasting in the obituary from the New York Times because he was someone we should all know about:

Lawrence Guyot, Civil Rights Activist Who Bore the Fight’s Scars, Dies at 73


Lawrence Guyot, who in the early 1960s endured savage beatings as a young civil rights worker in Mississippi fighting laws and practices that kept blacks from registering to vote, died Thursday at his home in Mount Rainier, Md. He was 73.

His daughter, Julie Guyot-Diangone, confirmed his death, which she said came after Mr. Guyot had suffered several heart attacks, lost a kidney and became diabetic.

Mr. Guyot (GHEE-ott) was repeatedly challenged, jailed and beaten as he helped lead fellow members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and student volunteers from around the nation in organizing Mississippi blacks to vote. In many of the state’s counties, no blacks were registered.
“He further pressed the campaign for greater black participation in politics by serving as chairman of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, formed to supplant the all-white state Democratic Party. It lost its challenge to the established Mississippi party at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, but its efforts are seen as paving the way for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A famous moment in the civil rights movement occurred after Fannie Lou Hamer and two other civil rights workers were arrested for entering an area of a bus station reserved for whites in Winona, Miss., in June 1963. Mr. Guyot went to Winona to bail them out of jail. When he asked questions about their rough treatment, nine police officers beat him with the butts of guns, made him strip naked and threatened to burn his genitals. The abuse went on for four hours until a doctor advised the officers to stop.

Mr. Guyot was taken to a cell and beaten some more. The cell door was left open to the outside, with a knife lying just beyond. The guards’ apparent idea was to entice him to try to escape, but he saw two men lurking outside and stayed in his cell. “I didn’t fall for that one,” he is quoted as saying in “My Soul Is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South” (1977), by Howell Raines.

Mr. Guyot was released after Medgar Evers, another civil rights activist, was assassinated in Jackson, Miss., on June 12. Mr. Guyot thought that the authorities feared the effects of another assassination of a civil rights worker when national attention was focused on Mississippi.

Later in 1963, Mr. Guyot was imprisoned at the infamous Mississippi penitentiary Parchman Farm. He was beaten, and went on a 17-day hunger strike. He lost 100 pounds. “It was a question of defiance,” he said in an interview with NPR in 2011. “We were not going to let them have complete control over us.”

In a recent interview with The Afro-American Newspapers, Timothy Jenkins, an educator who worked with Mr. Guyot in the 1960s said: “He is significant because he knew there is a price more ultimate than death. It is disgrace.”
“Lawrence Thomas Guyot Jr. was born in Pass Christian, Miss., on July 17, 1939. His father was a contractor. Mr. Guyot attended Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., a historically black college that had some white faculty members and welcomed white students. He graduated with a degree in chemistry and biology in 1963.

While in college, he became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and traveled around the state conducting civil rights workshops and doing other organizing. He and his colleagues concentrated on voter registration, not desegregation. When he took someone to the courthouse to register, he was often followed by two cars of whites.

Mr. Guyot was haunted by a 1964 conversation he had with Michael Schwerner, the civil rights worker who would be murdered that year along with his fellow workers Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. As Mr. Schwerner was preparing to drive to Mississippi from a training session in Ohio, he asked Mr. Guyot if it was safe to go. Mr. Guyot said yes, and always felt responsible for what happened later.

I told him to go because I thought there was so much publicity that nothing could happen,” Mr. Guyot said in an interview with The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss. “I was absolutely wrong.”

In 1968, while in Chicago as a delegate to the Democratic convention, Mr. Guyot went to a doctor after falling ill. The doctor told him that he had heart trouble and was overweight, and that if he went back to the civil rights struggle in Mississippi he had perhaps two months to live. Instead he went to Rutgers School of Law and, after graduating in 1971, moved to Washington, where he did legal work for city agencies and was an informal adviser to Mayor Marion Barry, a fellow native Mississippian.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Guyot is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Monica Klein; his son, Lawrence III; and four grandchildren.

Mr. Guyot favored same-sex marriage when it was illegal everywhere in the United States, noting that he had married a white woman when that was illegal in some states. He often gave inspirational speeches on the meaning of the civil rights movement.

There is nothing like having risked your life with people over something immensely important to you,” he said in 2004. “As Churchill said, there’s nothing more exhilarating than to have been shot at — and missed.