Monday, November 8, 2010

Support for expediting the renovation of the Kemp Mill Urban Park

November 2, 2010

The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland  20850

Dear President Floreen:

On behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB), I am writing to express the MCCAB’s support for expediting the renovation of the Kemp Mill Urban Park. This park is a vital resource for the Kemp Mill neighborhood, yet it has significantly deteriorated since its construction in the 1960s. As recently described in the attached Wheaton Gazette article, the large concrete pond that covers much of the park has substantial drainage problems that lead to stagnant water, the accumulation of garbage and sediment, and periodic flooding (Residents want makeover for Kemp Mill Park pond, September 29). In addition, the park has other infrastructure problems such as cracked concrete walkways and entrances that are not accessible to people with disabilities.

We are pleased that the Montgomery County Planning Board has initiated a planning process to renovate the park, which included two community meetings with Kemp Mill residents in 2009. At the last public meeting in October 2009, Planning Board staff and contractors solicited input on three design concepts from residents and informed them that a single design would be proposed to the Planning Board in the spring of 2010. However, the renovation planning process has been delayed for reasons that have not been publicly communicated. According to the Board’s website, a third community meeting was scheduled for the summer of 2010, but this meeting has not yet occurred. The website also notes that the Board will meet to approve the facility plan in the winter of 2010/2011.

We request that the Council communicate to the Planning Board our support for moving forward with the renovation design process without further delay. Further, we encourage the Council to include funding for the park’s renovation in the next Capital Improvements Program budget.

The MCCAB has supported the renovation of the Kemp Mill Urban Park for several years (see attachments). We look forward to working with the Council on this issue.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our views on the importance of renovating this park.


Sincerely,

L. Blaine Charak
Chair

cc:  Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive
       Fran├žoise Carrier, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board

Support for Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 09-03

October 25, 2010

The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear President Floreen and Councilmembers,

            On behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) I am writing you to reiterate our support for passage of Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 09-03.

            As you are aware ZTA 09-03 is part of the County Executive’s package of “Quality of Life” code enforcement reforms now before the Council. The MCCAB continues to support these reforms as they are particularly important to improving the quality of life of residents in the mid-county area.

            We urge you and your fellow members of the Council to vote in favor of ZTA 09-03.  Additionally, we ask that after its passage that both the legislative and executive branches closely monitor its effects in our neighborhoods and introduce further legislation to close any gaps.

Sincerely,

Blaine Charak
Chair
                       

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In light of the upcoming meeting to discuss the future development of the Wheaton Library....

Please read the following letter written by MCCAB in 2009 concerning the Wheaton Library.

This meeting will be held Thursday, October 14 at 7:00 P.M. at the Mid-County Regional Center at 2424 Reedie Drive, Wheaton.

May 19, 2009

The Honorable Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
50 Monroe Street
Rockville, Maryland  20850

Dear Mr. Leggett:

                        On behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB), I want to express our support for the decision to defer action on the renovation of the Wheaton Library.  This decision provides the Wheaton Redevelopment staff and the community with the opportunity to continue to look creatively at redevelopment options.

While the International Downtown Association has recommended that the Library be moved and considered as an anchor for any new development taking place in Wheaton, the community surrounding the Library has spoken forcefully about its desire to keep the Library in its present location.  The current economic situation and spending constraints occurring in Montgomery County provide an opportunity to carefully consider whether to relocate the Wheaton Library to the Wheaton Urban District, renovate it in its current location, or consider other creative options that may incorporate plans for renovating the Wheaton Recreation Center and the Rafferty Center.  It also provides time to explore a public/private partnership.

The MCCAB has also looked at the new Rockville and Germantown Libraries, and the plans for the Silver Spring Library.  We understand that the buildings in Rockville and Silver Spring are not just libraries, and see the value of this type of mixed use development.  We also see the value of the public/private partnerships formed to develop them, particularly in the current budget situation.

The MCCAB agreed that it is appropriate that no decision is being made now on whether to renovate or relocate the Library, particularly since the current economy precludes implementing such a decision.  We, too, are not making any recommendation at this time as we feel there are too many unanswered questions.  However, we hope that the time can be used to explore other options, collect data on alternatives and consider changes that may emerge in Wheaton over the next few years.  The MCCAB will continue to follow the planning for the Wheaton Library and these other Wheaton facilities, and will forward future recommendations as planning progresses.

Sincerely,

          Sheldon Fishman
          Chair

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Committee News

At its September meeting, The Quality of Life committee decided to meet the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30pm at Mid-County Center. Current members include Gamunu Wijetunge, Mary Scholl, Robin Brannan, Ariel Winter, Marlyn Ferguson.

Members of the public are welcomed to committee meetings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MCCAB comments on issues related to power outages...

The following letter, comments, issues & recommendations were developed after the snowstorms in February, 2010.The Mid-County Advisory Board believes that most also apply in the aftermath of the recent storms and resultant power outages. The Board’s Quality of Life Committee plans to discuss the issue at the September 21 Board meeting.

June 14, 2010

The Honorable Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
Executive Office Building101 Monroe Street, 2nd FloorRockville, MD 20850

Dear Mr. Leggett,
As you are aware the back-to-back winter storms of February 2010 resulted in record snow falls in Montgomery County and presented the county with unprecedented challenges. The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) would like to commend you for your leadership during this challenging time.
At its February 16th meeting, the MCCAB held an open discussion on the snow storms. Members of the MCCAB were asked to discuss “what went right”, challenges faced and brainstorm possible solutions. Attached to this letter is a summary of the MCCAB’s open discussion for your consideration.
I asked the MCCAB’s Quality of Life Committee to review the results of the MCCAB’s open discussion and recommend priority issues for the MCCAB to bring to the attention of the County Executive and County Council. Based on these deliberations, and a final discussion at our April 20th meeting, the MCCAB has identified the following priority issues for your consideration:

1) Coordinate tree trimming with PEPCO to reduce future power outages
2) Restore the reserve fund to 6% to ensure availability of resources during an emergency
3) Enhance two way communications between the County and members of the public
Communications plays a key role in linking residents with their County government during an emergency. Further enhancements to communications, including improved incorporation of Mid-County regional services staff and 3-1-1, will likely improve the County's response, mitigation and recovery from future storms.
4) Improve coordination of plowing, and other operations, between the Montgomery County Government and the State.

Anecdotal evidence suggest that County maintained roads were better plowed than State maintained roads. Better coordination between State and County plowing may help improve the conditions of all roads during a future storm.
Once again, thank you for your continued leadership on these issues. I am happy to respond to any questions you or your staff may have.

Sincerely,


Sheldon Fishman
Chair

Enclosures

cc: Montgomery County Council

~Kudos on February Snowstorm/Power Outages~
Compiled by the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board
2/16/10


√ = Repeated Comments
√ √ Citizens were very willing to help each other, fostered a strong sense of community
Mid-County / DOT staff were very responsive to calls re: plowing issues

√ √ Snowplow drivers, fire & rescue workers, police, and 4-wheel drivers delivering hospital workers for working to the point of exhaustion

√ √ County roads were plowed better than State roads.

The Mid-County RSC’s Clean and Safe team did a great job of plowing in the Wheaton CBD

Private malls and shopping centers did a good job of clearing their parking lots to the extent possible

Ride On did a good job of keeping bus transit services operating, better than Metro and Metrobus

Appreciated seeing Mr. Leggett on TV giving updates on the situation

For opening public garages for residents to park their cars w/o being charged fees so plow could clear streets more easily.


~~Miscellaneous Comments on February Snowstorm/Power Outages~~
Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board
2/16/10

Issues
&
Recommendations, Primarily for County County Action
Issue: Did not have enough plows – County & State owned or contracted
Recommendations:
  • Call places like Michigan, Buffalo, or Boston that manage to continue functioning in spite of deep snow.
  • Have more private contractors on stand-by to do plowing.
  • County solid waste contractors should be required to equip garbage trucks with plowing blades so they can be used for plowing in place of garbage pick up.

    Issue: More than 24 hours after the snow ended, many of the main roads still only had 1 lane that was passable.
    Recommendations:
    Develop a more strategic plan for the:
    ·Pre-treatment of streets prior to a storm,
    ·Deployment of equipment that matches the size of the equipment with the size of the roads and the depth of the snow (to avoid sending equipment that is too large to get onto a street or can not lift snow high enough to get it off a roadway), and
    ·Use of contractors when the amount of snow exceeds the capability of County-owned equipment.

    Issue: As late as Sunday, February 14th, portions of University Blvd were still not cleared curb to curb – with lanes disappearing into snow banks.
    Recommendations: Use chains on emergency vehicles and plows on snow covered streets

    Issue: Some neighborhoods were not plowed for 4 days or more.
    Recommendations: Review existing plowing plan of clearing all primary roads to the pavement and then going into the neighborhoods and triage all the County’s streets to get them at least passable, and then go back to clear main and then neighborhood roads better.
    Issue: State roads paved within the last 6 -12 months seem to have the worst potholes.
    It appears the slurry being used by State contractors is not very durable. Montgomery County has stopped using this slurry to resurface County roads.
    Recommendations: Look at why there seemed to be so many more potholes, especially along the seams between lanes, on recently resurfaced State roads e.g. University Blvd & Georgia Ave

    Miscellaneous Issues & Recommendations:

    Issues:
    Sidewalks in County parks were not cleared.
    DOT pedestrian bridges and nearby sidewalks were not plowed.
    Many public areas and their sidewalks, were not cleared, such as near University Towers & Nursing Home near there with elderly populations.
    If we are concentrating development around Metro stations with the hope of enticing drivers out of their cars, Metro transit and buses need to work, even in times of severe snow storms.
    County was very slow in setting up emergency hearing centers for people with no power.
    Mounds of snow at school bus stops create a dangerous situation with students waiting for buses having to stand in the street.
    Montgomery County experienced 10 times more power outages than surrounding jurisdictions such as PG Co and the District of Columbia.

    Recommendations:
    Provide better communication and real-time information on plowing operations on the County website and via radio and television. Tools like Google maps should help with that.
    The County and power companies need to provide more realistic projections of snow removal and power outage restorations; and residents need to have more realistic expectations of how long it will take to complete plowing and power restoration.
    Encourage residents to park as many cars as possible in their driveways or, at least park all cars that can not fit in driveways on one side of street to make plowing easier.
    Any after-action report that the County compiles should be made public.
    Develop a snow emergency fund and/or restore Reserve Fund to cover these kinds of emergencies.
    PEPCO’s priority list of residences and group homes needing prompt restoration of power needs to be looked at because members were aware that several group homes for the elderly that were on the list were without power for as much as 3 days.
    Be prepared to deal proactively w/potholes.
    Increase staffing for MC311 during periods of expected heavy volume.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Support for B'nai Shalom

August 10, 2010

Dear Rabbi Ari Sunshine and President Debbie Kovalsky,

The members of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board share your dismay at the senseless and loathsome acts perpetrated on B’nai Shalom’s building and congregation. We join in the outpouring of support and fellowship from our community members and institutions. B’nai Shalom’s will to rebuild and move on gives meaning to the saying, “Evil often triumphs, but never conquers.”

As the congregation prepares for a meaningful time in the Jewish year, we extend our hope that the year 5771 will bring peace and understanding to our community.

Sincerely,
L. Blaine Charak, Chair
Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board
Montgomery County, Maryland

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

artificial turf fields






June 17, 2010


The Honorable Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Ms. Mary Bradford, Director
Montgomery County Department of Parks
9500 Brunett Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20901

Dear Mr. Leggett and Ms. Bradford:

I am writing on behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) to express our concerns about the proposed use of artificial turf fields by Montgomery County Public Schools and the Montgomery County Department of Parks. At its April 20, 2010 meeting, we heard from members of the community about their concerns about the proposed installation of artificial turf football fields at Wheaton High School, other public schools, and parks. Among the concerns expressed were negative impacts on the environment, student health, and County finances.

I asked the MCCAB’s Quality of Life Committee to examine these issues. Based on these deliberations, and a final discussion at our June 15th meeting, the MCCAB recommends the following actions be taken:

The Montgomery County Government (MCG) should place a moratorium on further construction of artificial turf fields in parks, schools and recreational areas until the environmental, health and financial impacts of these fields are better understood.

Although research on the environmental impacts of artificial turf fields is limited, there appears to be reason for concern. Artificial turf fields being installed in Montgomery County include the use of old tires. A single field installation includes the depositing of 120 tons of pulverized automobile tires and hundreds of tons of rock on County land. As a result phthalates and other harmful materials may be contaminating the ground and water. Additional concerns have been raised in the sports medicine community with high air temperatures on artificial turf fields. Again, research appears to be inconclusive, but the lack of conclusive research bolsters the need for caution before exposing young athletes and others to potential risk.

As you are well aware the County is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges. Although apparent savings on field maintenance may make artificial turf fields an attractive option, we urge the County to exercise caution. A review of literature indicates that the environmental and public health impacts of artificial turf fields are poorly understood, with many questions left unanswered. With such questions unanswered, it would seem difficult to determine exactly what future financial commitments the County is making with further artificial turf field construction.


A moratorium on construction would allow the County more time to deliberate and allow time for the science to "catch up". Therefore the MCCAB urges a moratorium on further artificial turf field construction on all MCG owned properties.

As always, thank you for your consideration and continued leadership.


Sincerely,

Sheldon Fishman
Chair




cc: Montgomery County Council

Gabriel Albornoz, Department of Recreation

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Private Institutional Facility Development (PIF) located at 3110 Emory Church Road, Olney

December 10, 2009


Dr. Royce Hanson, Chair
Montgomery County Planning Board
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

RE: Proposed Private Institutional Facility Development (PIF) located at 3110 Emory Church Road, Olney, Maryland. (AKA the Doherty Property)

Dear Dr. Hanson:

We have received tremendous response from the affected neighborhood in regard to the above proposed PIF development as well as the Olney community. We would also like to voice our opposition based on the following criteria:

• This proposed development is not in keeping with the Olney Master Plan, approved and adopted April 2005, which states that this property cannot be served by public sewer through gravity. The plan further recommends that this property is not recommended to be in the public sewer service envelope. Recommendation to approve a water and sewer category change has been approved and we understand is currently being contested.

• Emory Church Road is a narrow dead end secondary residential street (1 and ½ lanes wide at best) that serves approximately 32 homes in the southeast corner of Olney. This proposed 46,500 square structure with parking for approximately 220 vehicles will virtually destroy the peace and tranquility of this rural neighborhood road. Furthermore, this development would necessitate the widening of this road to accommodate increased vehicular traffic and cause the removal of many mature trees.

• We share the community concern that the amount of impervious surface required for this project will certainly add to the degradation of the already stressed Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River beginning at the headwaters known as Batchellor’s Run. This stream has been determined by the Army Corps of Engineers to be in a protected status.

In keeping with the spirit of the community the MCCAB feels a project of this size should not be built on this site. Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,


Sheldon Fishman
Chair

cc: County Executive
County Council

Power Outages during Snow Storms

February 23, 2010
The Honorable Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Dear Mr. Leggett:
The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) would like to express our
deep concern regarding the overwhelming number of power outages experienced in
Montgomery County during the recent back to back snow storms and the threat to public
safety that this loss created. We were alarmed to learn that on February 6th PEPCO
reported 88,000 customers without power. The breakdown included 78,000 in
Montgomery County; 7,700 in Prince George’s; and 2,200 in the District of Columbia.
While we realize the historical significance of these snowstorms, we remain puzzled as to
why the volume of outages was so lopsided with Montgomery County experiencing
88 percent of the reported outages.
The MCCAB believes there must be an underlying cause for the discrepancy.
This situation must be studied and remedied as soon as possible. Specifically, we would
like to know the causes of the severity of the outages.
We urge you to initiate a comprehensive review of the outage situation within the
next 60 days to determine what is necessary to prevent another such occurrence. This
may include proper and better regulation of PEPCO, adjustment of County policies which
may impede line maintenance, and/or adjustment of any related County budget items for
additional tree maintenance and trimming.
On behalf of the residents of the Mid-County regional area we thank you for your
consideration of our concerns.
Sincerely,
Sheldon Fishman
Chair
cc: County Councilmembers

Smart Growth and CR Zoning Text Amendment

April 9, 2010


The Honorable Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear Mr. Leggett:

The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) reviewed and discussed ZTA 09-08, Commercial-Residential (CR) Zones – Establishment which was developed in conjunction with the draft White Flint Sector Plan. We are aware the Council approved this ZTA on March 2nd, however, at our March 16th meeting, the MCCAB voted to oppose the CR zone and the related revisions to the County's zoning ordinance.

While we applaud the idea that planners want to encourage residents to be less dependent on automobiles, we do not feel that adequate public transportation exists to implement this idea. We are also opposed to the use of this new zone until “Smart Growth” has been properly defined. With respect to the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance, we feel this revision lacks a strategic vision, particularly in the absence of a formal definition of “Smart Growth”. Additionally, there are no recommendations on how to implement the proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance.

Therefore, the MCCAB wishes to go on record in opposition of the recently enacted Commercial-Residential Zone in conjunction with the White Flint Sector Plan.

Sincerely,



Sheldon Fishman
Chair




cc: Montgomery County Council

code enforcement reforms

December 22, 2009


The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear President Floreen and Councilmembers:

On behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board I am writing to urge the County Council to support the County Executive’s package of “Quality of Life” code enforcement reforms now before the Council. The County Executive’s package of reforms resulted from recommendations of his Code Enforcement Working Group, which worked closely with residents and organizations in the Mid-County area to identify problems and solutions.

As you are aware, progress has stalled on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 09-03, which is designed to further restrict the encroachment and expansion of home occupations into residential neighborhoods, as well as limiting the paving of front yards and prohibiting the parking of heavy commercial vehicles in residential zones. We support ZTA 09-03 as submitted to the Council by the County Executive.

Still pending before the Council committee is Bill 24-09 to limit permits on unfinished residential construction to 18 months (currently there is no deadline). We support this bill. We also support adoption of Bill 22-09 to speed up the process for resolving code violations.

We urge you to work to bring ZTA 09-03, Bill 24-09, and Bill 22-09 to the full Council for action as soon as possible.

Sincerely,



Sheldon Fishman
Chair



cc: Isiah Leggett, County Executive

pedestrian safety

December 22, 2009



The Honorable Isiah Leggett
County Executive
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear Mr. Leggett:

The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) endorses the County’s efforts to increase awareness of pedestrian safety through its “Pedestrian Safety Program” and its participation with the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s “Street Smart 2009 Campaign.” The MCCAB believes that an effective, proactive awareness campaign can help to reduce what should be avoidable accidents and possible injuries and minimize the resources necessary to engage in enforcement activities and the related costs of enforced compliance.

The MCCAB believes that the major participants targeted by these campaigns -- pedestrians, drivers and bikers -- should all be aware, alert, respectful and accountable. As Montgomery County residents, we literally need to look out for each other. And while most of us are safe (on the roads, on sidewalks, bike paths and in parking lots) and are quite capable of looking out for ourselves, we need to recognize that there are some residents who are at a higher risk for pedestrian collision. This includes young children, seniors, those in various age groups who may have special needs and those from other countries who are unfamiliar with our traffic patterns - they need us to be on the lookout for them.

We look forward to monitoring these two very important campaigns and are hopeful to see successful results on an on-going basis.

Sincerely,



Sheldon Fishman
Chair

2009-2011 Growth Policy

December 22, 2009


The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear President Floreen and Councilmembers:

The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board has reviewed the proposed 2009-2011 Growth Policy and would like to share our concerns with you.

Due to the long and very fluid nature of the planning process, we support the Growth Policy amendment in Bill 38-09 proposing the adoption of a four year review cycle for the growth policy rather than the current two year process. We believe this would enable the County to address planning issues in a more deliberate manner. Many key issues we face regarding development, schools, zoning changes and reclassifications have become so cumbersome that in many instances more time is needed. Furthermore, builders with approved plans are finding the “rules of the game” being changed in the middle of their approved projects. We would not want to send the wrong message of being anti-development and anti-builder. We are also very concerned about the potential for overcrowding in many of our schools and strongly believe that a four-year review could be more comprehensive and beneficial in the school planning process. We also believe that the proposed plan is based on many assumptions which could significantly impact the quality of life in our County and again feel more time is needed to study issues such as increasing density near Metro stations.

In addition, we very strongly believe that the Policy Area Mobility Review (PAMR) process is quite difficult to understand and has done a poor job of helping to manage and mitigate the effects of our heavy traffic. We are concerned that instead of a possible solution to gridlock, PAMR has the exact opposite effect. We, therefore, support the Council’s recommendation to request the Montgomery County Department of Transportation carefully study this issue and propose a more common sense and easy to understand policy for analyzing traffic patterns throughout the County. The members of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board are willing and available to assist in the process of developing the new transportation test to be used in the Growth Policy

Overall, we are pleased that so many issues pertinent to the quality of life in Montgomery County have been studied in your plan and we believe that our Mid-County region as well as the entire County could benefit from our suggested changes.

Sincerely,



Sheldon Fishman
Chair

cc: Isiah Leggett, County Executive
Royce Hanson, M-NCPPC Planning Board

Monday, June 14, 2010

MCCAB Ambulance Fee support with conditions

April 27, 2010
The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Dear President Floreen and Councilmembers:
I am writing on behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB), to convey our general support of Bill 13-10, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee - Established, along with our concerns regarding certain aspects of the draft legislation.
In the past, the MCCAB has opposed the establishment of this fee. However, in light of the current fiscal situation the County faces, and with reassurances from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) about how fees will be collected, the MCCAB voted to support the proposal with some conditions. This decision was made at our April meeting following presentations by Fire Chief Bowers and Assistant Chief Scott Graham and comments made by representatives of the community, the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association, the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad, the East County Citizens Advisory Board and the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.
While the MCCAB did vote to support Bill 13-10, we had some concerns about the legislation as proposed. The MCCAB members felt that:

language should be added to the legislation to clearly state that transport fee bills and/or invoices will be sent directly to the insurance company of the patient - no County resident will receive a bill for any reason.

the phrase in subsection (h) Use of revenue, “…and in the first fiscal year this fee is implemented, …” should be deleted. The Board feels strongly that the revenues collected from these fees should be dedicated to the Fire and Rescue Service indefinitely and recommend the establishment of a dedicated enterprise fund to accomplish this.

In addition, the MCCAB supports the provision of the Bill requiring that the transport fee “…must be used to supplement, and must not supplant, existing expenditures for emergency medical services and other related fire and rescue services provided by the Fire and Rescue Service…” In November 2009, the MCCAB urged “…the adoption of EMS patient outcome measures into the County’s Fire and Rescue Master Plan….” We felt then, and continue to feel, that the establishment of EMS patient outcome measures, such as EMS patient survival from sudden cardiac arrest, would contribute to improved performance by the MCFRS. Similarly, we also believe that it is important to ensure the revenues from the transport fees are returned to the patients, through improvements to emergency medical services delivered at a regional level, rather than towards supplanting other Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service operating costs.
Sincerely,
Sheldon Fishman
Chair
cc: Isiah Leggett, County Executive

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MCCAB Fire Rescue and Patient Outcomes

Fire, Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, and
Community Risk Reduction Master Plan
Public Hearing
November 29, 2009

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Fire, Rescue, Emergency Medical
Services, and Community Risk Reduction Master Plan. I am Sheldon Fishman, Chair of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB). With me is Gam Wijuntunge, MCCAB’s Parliamentarian and Chair of our Quality of Life Committee.

The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) strongly supports the mission of the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS) to keep our communities safe and healthy. We applaud the dedicated and heroic efforts of MCFRS’ career and volunteer personnel in providing our county with world class fire, rescue and emergency medical services (EMS). The MCCAB’s comments on the Master Plan are intended to help build on this tradition of excellence.

In general, the MCCAB is pleased with the Master Plan’s emphasis on performance measures and ongoing performance improvement. This is in keeping with the County Executive’s use of the CountyStat program to foster outcome-focused performance management.

The MCCAB notes that the Master Plan, as well as the County Executive’s FY10 budget proposal, includes reducing residential fire deaths and injuries as an outcome-focused performance measure. Mid-County residents, particularly the many senior citizens living in the Mid-County area, have previously expressed support for reducing residential fire deaths and injuries. This outcome measure justifies the process-oriented measures included in the Master Plan such as response time goals for fire engines.

However, the MCCAB is concerned that no comparable EMS outcome measures are included. The MCCAB urges the County Executive to adopt EMS patient outcome measures as a new high priority recommendation in the Master Plan. Outcome measures such as survival to hospital discharge and other EMS patient outcomes should be considered. Process measures such as EMS response times should accompany these outcome measures provided they have demonstrated impact on the patient outcome. MCCAB recognizes the technical complexity of patient outcome measures and recognizes the additional legal and regulatory requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). We recommend coordination with stakeholders such as hospitals in developing practical outcome measures.

The MCCAB sincerely believes that the MCFRS saves lives and contributes significantly to our quality of life in Montgomery County. However, we must be able to measure that contribution and to determine how it can be improved. A Master Plan which focuses on measuring this impact can only improve the MCFRS, improve the quality of life of Montgomery County citizens, and assist with the wise allocation of County resources.

We urge you to incorporate these important changes into the 2009 update of the Master Plan.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MCCAB Recommendations to County Council on FY-11 Operating Budget

April 23, 2010


The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear Council President Floreen and Councilmembers:

The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) appreciates the opportunity to share with you our suggestions on how to address the very serious budget crisis facing our County and to re-enforce your resolve to protect our most vulnerable residents even during this budget crisis.

This is, in every sense of the term, a real budget crisis. Therefore, with great angst, we are making these very difficult, but very critical recommendations. We don’t relish any of the proposals we are making; however, we strongly believe that the alternatives are worse.

First a few words of appreciation and encouragement. We recognize that health and human services and public safety programs have suffered fewer cuts than most areas of the County government and agencies. We urge you to retain that set of priorities. We must first protect the most vulnerable among our residents.

We have one immediate suggestion and four longer term suggestions for dealing with the current budget crisis.

Short-term Recommendation #1
Our County has lost many great employees due to job cuts and even more are slated to be cut in the coming months. Our suggestion is that in these painful times, we stand together and ask everyone endure a little bit of the pain instead of a select few absorbing the brunt of it. We recommend across the board paycuts for everyone who receives a paycheck from the County. Everyone, means everyone: elected, appointed, union and non-union, public safety employees, every single person who works for the County government and the full alphabet of agencies that receive one dollar of the over $4 billion dollars in this operating budget: Montgomery College, Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, etc.

We recommend a permanent, tiered pay adjustment which would be set at various rates according to salary levels and be sustained for the future. This is especially important since 80% of the County’s operating budget is earmarked for personnel costs.

Recommendation #2

Looking beyond the current moment, we believe there is a long-term structural budget deficit, especially if you account for the unfunded County liabilities. We recommend an across the board validation and reclassification of every single job funded by this $4 billion dollar operating budget.

Recommendation #3

While General County Government has already done so, other County agencies who have not, especially Montgomery County Public School employees, should be required to replace the defined benefit package with a defined contribution package for all new and existing employees.

Recommendation #4

Reallocate central staff and decision making to the Regional Services Centers. We suspect that the County has reached the point of diminishing economies of size. Further, we believe the residents will be better served by decision makers living closer to them. Rather than cut the regional offices to 3 people or eliminate them altogether, we think the County would save money and improve services by reallocating people, decision making and services from the central office to the regional offices.

Recommendation #5

Commit to zero based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting requires a review of all budget items every year, rather than the current process of concentrating on new items. We believe such justification of every dollar will inevitably lead to improved fiscal efficiencies.

We thank you for the opportunity to share our suggestions with you and we wish you well in your budget deliberations.

Sincerely,



Sheldon Fishman
Chair


cc: County Executive Isiah Leggett


Letter to the Council's PHED and MFP Committee Regarding the Regional Centers

April 23, 2010



The Honorable Duchy Trachtenberg
Chair, Management and Fiscal Policy Committee

The Honorable Michael Knapp
Chair, Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee

Montgomery County Council Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue 100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850 Rockville, Maryland 20850


Dear Councilmembers Trachtenberg and Knapp:

I write on behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) in anticipation of your April 30th joint worksession of the Management and Fiscal Policy and the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee to discuss the Regional Service Centers and the Office of Community Partnerships. We appreciate the fact that both Committees will have the opportunity to review the work of these important County agencies.

We are deeply concerned about the County Executive’s proposal to cut each of the five Regional Centers’ staffs to three staff members, in some cases a cut of 66%. The recommended budget would allow for the positions of Regional Director, Program Manager I, and Senior Executive Administrative Aide.

However, we believe a better use of scarce County resources would be to reallocate central staff and decision making to the Regional Services Centers. We feel the County has reached the point of diminishing economies of size. Further, we believe the residents will be better served by high-level County staff who have immediate contact with decision makers working in our neighborhoods where we can easily reach out to them. The County would save money and improve services by reallocating human and monetary resources from the central offices to the regional offices.

On a personal note, this recommendation is built on a series of MCCAB recommendations over many months. For example, one recommendation made to the County Executive at our CIP priority meeting last summer included recommending a stronger role for the regional centers in coordinating and reviewing capital projects. In addition, the MCCAB has expanded the number of its meetings in various settings throughout the Mid-County region. While this choice has involved more work for staff, we have found a very positive return on investment for improving two-way communication.

In each case, speakers identified long festering problems and the Regional Center staff solved those problems forthwith. Thus, we recommend transferring more decision making from the central offices to the Regional Services Centers and we believe there may be a budget savings realized.

We thank you for the opportunity to share our recommendations with you.

Sincerely,



Sheldon Fishman
Chair


cc: Councilmembers
County Executive Isiah Leggett