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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Survey from our public library

Not sure if the survey was intended for a wide audience.  I hope you can provide input.  It is an important survey for our community.  This link SHOULD get you to the survey.  Please complete it if you can.
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=v7ezfIoQRHSX3yddjLwPXg_3d_3d


Prince George's County Memorial Library System is embarking on a study to understand the needs of our community and our customers.

As part of this process, we are conducting an online survey with our library stakeholders to assess the direction of the library to meet our community’s ongoing needs. You may have recently received another survey invitation from the Library which was sent to all cardholders, and we appreciate if you responded to it. However, this survey was designed specially for stakeholders from around our community.

On behalf of everyone at the Library, we would like to thank you in advance for your willingness to share your thoughts and opinions with us to help make our Library better for the future.

Please click here to take the survey.

Regards,



Kathleen Teaze
Director, Prince George's County Memorial Library System


NOTE: If you do not wish to take the survey and would like to opt out of it, please click here.

From the Office of the Governor

Office of the Governor

August 20, 2012

Dear Friend,

Today, the Secretary of State released the final language for the ballot questions in Maryland for the 2012 General Election. This is an important election, and as Marylanders, it is our responsibility to make informed decisions on policies that will affect our State for years to come.

I encourage everyone to closely examine the ballot initiatives and share the language with family and friends. This year, we have a unique opportunity to move our State forward toward a more just and equal society, while defending dignity, protecting religious freedom, and investing in our greatest assets: the talents, skills, ingenuity and creativity of our people.

To read all of the ballot language, please click here or copy and post this link in your address line above  
http://www.elections.state.md.us/elections/2012/ballot_questions.html. 

Below are the statewide ballot questions.
Question 1 - Constitutional Amendment – Qualifications for Prince George’s County Orphans’ Court Judges
Question 2 – Constitutional Amendment – Qualifications for Baltimore County Orphans’ Court Judges
Question 3 – Constitutional Amendment – Suspension and Removal of Elected Officials
Question 4 – Referendum Petition – Public Institutions of Higher Education – Tuition Rates
Question 5 – Referendum Petition – Congressional Districting Plan
Question 6 – Referendum Petition - Civil Marriage Protection Act
Question 7 – Gaming Expansion Referendum - Gaming Expansion

I'd also like to encourage every Marylander to register to vote. This year, for the first time, you can register to vote and change your address online. Click here to register. 
Thank you,Martin O'MalleyGovernor

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SEARCHING FOR VETERANS IN/NEAR MOUNT RAINIER MD

Are you a soldier, veteran or reservist living in Mount Rainier?  Are you a soldier, veteran or reservist and once lived in Mount Rainier?  Do you know someone that falls in either of these categories?  In November 2012, I would be honored to recognize them during the first Veteran Day service held in Mount Rainier in more than 40+ years.  To put together the program and recognize our veterans, I need to collect names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and other information ASAP.  I am working with the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs to make this an outstanding event.

How will YOU vote on the Casino Referendum?

Did you even know that there was a special session of our Maryland State Legislature?  Did you know we the residents took the hit for that special session for two issues:  Pit Bulls and the Expansion of Casinos by opening one in Prince George's County.

Below is our Delegate Doyle Niemann's take on this issue, why and how he voted.


A Disappointing Special Session

On Tuesday night, slightly before midnight, the second special session this year of the Maryland General Assembly came to an end.  It was not one of our better moments.
This session was called for two purposes. 
·         First, to correct problems created by a court decision that declared pit bulls to be inherently dangerous. This meant landlords could be held liable for any harm they cause. As a result, the owners of rental properties are facing loss of insurance and pet owners may have to give up their dogs.
·         Second, to consider a proposal to expand gambling to include table games and a new casino in Prince George's County. 

No Action on Dogs

On the dog front, we failed to do anything.  The Senate passed a bill that abolished Maryland’s long-standing policy requiring proof that a dog is dangerous before an owner or landlord can be held liable for damages.  The House passed a narrower bill.  But in the craze over gambling nothing was done to reconcile the two.

Concessions and Give-Aways on Gambling

On gambling, a poorly crafted bill passed by the narrowest of margins.  Because I believe it will cause lasting damage to Maryland consumers and communities, I voted against it.
The problem the casino owners and their supporters had was that they didn’t have the votes to pass their bill on its merits.  So they had to make big concessions and deals to get the 71 votes they needed.
To appease existing casino owners, the leaders in the House slashed the amount of money going to the state’s Education Trust Fund, giving much more to the casino owners.  For “Maryland Live!” in Anne Arundel County, the share going to education was cut from 67% to 51%, with the possibility of another 2% reduction in the future.  For the proposed facility in Baltimore, the share for education was cut from 67% to 54%, with the possibility of a cut to 51% in the future. The casino owners get the rest.
But that was not enough. Casinos will now be able to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The late hours won’t attract many “recreational gamblers,” but they will make it easier for the desperate and the addicted to lose their money.  That’s a big dollar gain for the casinos but a loss for Maryland families.
And still more, the casino owners will now be allowed to keep 80% of the proceeds from unlimited table games.  In 2017, that would be $255 million to the owners but a credit of only $50 million for education.

Adding It All Up: A Bad Deal

Adding it all together, with the increased payouts to owners and the reduction in the share for education, the 24-hour operation, and table games, in 2017, the Education Trust Fund will get less than $40 million more from the expansion of gaming.  The owners, on the other hand, will get a whopping $435 million on top of what they already get.  That is more than double what they would have received if we had left things as they are.
Looked at another way, under this bill, Maryland families will be allowed (encouraged even) to lose more than half a billion dollars ($577 million) in additional money at the casinos to gain the Educational Trust Fund less than $40 million in new money.[1]
I do not believe this makes economic or social sense.  That is why I voted against the bill.

Neighborhood Slots and More Questionable Deals

In one of the most disturbing deals to win votes, a floor amendment was adopted that allows entities that declare themselves to be “veterans” organizations to apply for up to five slot machines.  That will put gambling within reach of virtually every neighborhood in the state (except for Montgomery County, whose leaders cynically exempted themselves out).
In Prince George's County alone, 26 VFWs and American Legions could qualify for five slot machines each.  But the deluge of slots isn’t likely to be so limited.  Given the poor definitions in the bill, the actual number of eligible organizations and slot machines could be many times higher.  (You can be sure that those looking for a quick buck will figure out how to use this to their advantage.)
I led a floor fight on this amendment but lost after the Speaker refused to allow a recorded vote.  I believe this proposal alone could result in the placement of thousands of slot machines in neighborhoods around the state – with all the negative consequences that can bring.
Local communities where casinos are located get money under the bill.  That is one of the stated reasons County Executive Baker pushed so hard for a casino in our county.  In our case, this could be as much as $16 million.  But to win a vote in committee, 40% of that money must go just for infrastructure along Indian Head Highway.
To win some Baltimore votes, House leaders also agreed to a provision that will make it harder to eliminate illegal slot machines in bars, restaurants and other locations in Baltimore County and City.  This overturned a decision the legislature made in January.  Its supporters believe it will open the door to an expansion of neighborhood-based slots in those areas.

How to Vote in November

The real damage caused by the bill, which has now been signed into law by Governor O’Malley, does not come from the addition of a Prince George's County casino, whether at National Harbor or elsewhere.  It comes from the changes in hours, the changes in formulas, the addition of table games, and the expansion of non-casino slots into neighborhoods.  All of this is either in effect now or will go into effect if the package is approved by voters statewide.
We face a dilemma. If Prince George's County voters do not approve the bill in November, no casino will open here.  This opens the all-too-likely possibility that some of the casino interests will push Prince George's voters to vote no, while encouraging state voters to vote yes.  For them, that would be the best of all worlds: they avoid competition but get the benefit of all the concessions and giveaways.
As a county, we have been placed in a no-win situation.  We have lost the critical battle, which had to do with the expansion of gambling on our borders.  We must now think hard about whether to vote yes or no in November.
 
Delegate Doyle Niemann
Maryland House of Delegates, District 47

Thursday, August 09, 2012

World Class Residents of Mount Rainier MD

Community activists.  My neighbors.  I am proud to serve as your Mayor.  Thank you for coming out, voicing your opinions, listening to opposing view points, and respecting the process.  Thank you to my Council who handled themselves in an extraordinary manner, and stayed focused on the goals -- "what's best for Mount Rainier, and how do we get what's best for Mount Rainier?"  Together, WE WILL get this job done!

Mayor and Council Meeting Tonight Following Hearing

Thank you and KUDOS to all of the residents that came out and spoke last night at the Mount Rainier City Council meeting.  It is tough sometimes to take a position on an issue.  YOU spoke your mind, and your Mayor and Council listened.  We are going to pick up tonight where left off.  The other two developers will be presenting their proposals.  Same process.  Following their presentation, Mayor and Council will open the special meeting to discuss next steps.  Someone said to me on National Night Out (NNO), compared to many other cities in the County and around the State, Mount Rainier is by far one of, if not the best City to live in, work in, and play in. Looking forward to seeing you tonight, and THANKS AGAIN for continuing to make Mount Rainier the Great City that it is.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

MEA COLLABORATION GRANT -- AN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS


HOMEOWNERS NEEDED!  We are coming down to the wire on this portion of the MEA EmPower grant 2012-34-331S1.  We will need an answer by Friday 8-10-12, PleaseWe are currently in need of candidates to round out the grant and invest in the communities to the fullest extent the grant will allow.  We have identified some candidates and locations outside the collaboration that could also benefit from the grant however, our primary goal is to service as many within the collaboration as possible. MEA has approved ALL projects located within Prince George’s County for submission.

We ask that if you meet the qualifications below, PLEASE James Flynn ASAP and provide your supporting information.  Last day to be included: by Friday 8-10-12.  You can also contact Alison Miller 301-908-4079, or email to:  stg_am@msn.com  so that the money gets spent inside the collaboration area (Mount Rainier, North Brentwood, Bladensburg, Landover Hills, Edmonston, Colmar Manor, Cottage City,  Glenarden, and Forest Heights) as much as we possibly can.  

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter,




Are you having difficulty paying your energy bills?
Does your home need energy efficiency retrofits?


According the US Dept of Energy, “checking a home’s insulation is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to use a whole-house approach to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars.”

Homeowner must meet income criteria and be willing to provide documentation that income is BELOW the following:

Income Table
1 person household: income below $63,150
5 person household: income below $97,400
2 person household: income below $72,150
6 person household: income below $104,650
3 person household: income below $81,200
7 person household: income below $111,850
4 person household: income below $90,200
8 person household: income below $119,100

The following make the home ineligible for this opportunity:
 Had an energy audit within the past 6 months;
 Aggressive dogs not being safely handled;
 Drug use;
 Threats to auditor;
 Nub and tube wiring (means that you can’t install attic insulation);
 Mold problem;
 Water problem such as a hole in roof;
 Home is sealed too tight resulting in the inability of fumes to escape through natural ventilation;
 Major roof issues;
 Major plumbing problems;
 Gas leak;
 Structurally inadequate;
 Rental property;
 Plaster ceiling (which needs a hatch cut to blow insulation into the attic).

Veterans and/or Retired Homeowners will be given preference.
Please contact Alison Miller (301)908-4079 to request that your house be considered for this opportunity.

Friday, August 03, 2012

DO YOU REMEMBER NATIONAL NIGHT OUT


..from back in the day?  Well, we are planning one of those good old fashion National Night Out (NNO) EVENTS on Tuesday August 7
It's Mount Rainier's Night Out Against Crime...along with the rest of America!

Well, come on out and join the Mount Rainier Police Department as it host the "29th Annual National Night Out" (NNO)!  To celebrate, we are going back to our routes, and will have our historical walk through the neighborhood to a) show support for our neighborhood, b) to show support for our law enforcement officers, c) show support for neighborhood watch groups in the City, and d) to educate and united residents in our efforts to rid our City of crime!

National Night Out is a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch(NATW).  NNO's will take place across America this Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 6-8pm.  

Our event will take place at3700 block of Otis Street and Wells Avenue.  It will not be a party without you, your neighbors, family and friends.  There will be food (hot dogs, burgers, water and other beverages.  As always, there will be trinkets and activities for our children.  Come on out and make this a fun and safe night for EVERYONE!
HOPE WE CAN COUNT ON SEEING YOU THERE!

Posted by Councilman Brent Bolin, Ward 2

Hello friends and neighbors of Ward 2,

I just wanted to send you a quick update on what's going with the proposed redevelopment of the 3200 block of Rhode Island Ave - AKA the (now painted) former funeral and the empty lot that used to be Bass Liquors.

As you know, the city bought the two properties several years ago with the goal of moving redevelopment along - thereby removing blight from our town center and increasing our tax base. The bad economy and the size of the property (too small for a big developer, too big for a small developer) led to a wait of several years to move this along. But getting a developer in place is within reach!

This spring the city reissued an RFP (request for proposals) for development of the city-owned land. We received three high quality proposals. Fellow Ward 2 Councilmember Ivy Thompson and myself were previously designated by our colleagues to serve as the development committee of the council, and as part of that role we reviewed the three proposals and met with each group that was bidding. At these meetings we asked for clarifications of items in the proposals, and also discussed the specific financial needs of the city. (The city purchased the land with tax-exempt bonds, complicating transfer of land to prospective developers. We also want very badly to get the land off our books given our tough budget times and the $180,000 yearly mortgage payments on the properties.)

After meeting with each of the developers, we went home for the weekend to think about the three rather different proposals and what vision they presented the city. The process was for each individual to score the proposals, then come together on Monday for a discussion. What we all discovered is that when we scored the proposals against the criteria given by the city in the RFP, one of the proposals had the highest score by a wide margin. This proposal also had the most solid financials, a major factor given the financial position of the city itself.

CM Thompson and I then advanced the high scoring proposal to the rest of the council for their input. Our colleagues were generally in agreement with our assessment and authorized the development committee to conduct more detailed conversations with the high scoring developer, with the goal of determining a financing framework in advance of the public hearing and vote. In this course of this additional discussion the high scoring developer significantly improved their already superior financing offer - they plan to make a large downpayment to the city in fall 2012 and buy the land outright by 1st quarter 2013 after certain pre-development activities are conducted. This would take the land off the city's books by next year's budget cycle. The proposed land disposition agreement that would transfer the property to the developer contains several provisions that allow the city to make certain the developer moves forward in a timely fashion, and allows us to purchase back the land on favorable terms if the project should fall through.

As an aside, we also asked both of the other developers for additional specific financing info so that we could really get a sense of who offered the city the best deal. One of the developers provided a two sentence email reply that did provide any new information. The other developer declined to supply additional info and withdrew their bid. However that developer just changed their mind and indicated they would submit new financials after all, but I have not received this information as of yet. Needless to say, this additional financial conversation has created the impression that one developer is serious about doing business with the city and the other two are not.

So what's next? We already extended the RFP once so we are moving ahead in hopes of avoiding another extension.

On Wednesday, August 8, 7pm at City Hall, the high scoring developer will present their proposal at a special hearing of the city council. I encourage you to come out to the meeting and hear for yourself why this proposal was head and shoulders above the others. If selected, this developer plans to have a public process to seek input into the design of the building so Wednesday's presentation will be focused on the overall concept moreso than specific design details. They have however committed to building to at least the LEED Gold standard, and they think Platinum is in reach for the property. A brand new building of such high standard, at the entryway to the city, would be a game changer for moving forward the revitalization of our commercial corridor. It is also very much in character with our community's environmental ethic.

On Thursday, August 9, 7pm at City Hall, the city council will vote to award the contract for redevelopment of the 3200 block of Rhode Island Ave. This is a second opportunity to voice any concerns you might have. Again I encourage you to come out and be heard.

It has been difficult to communicate with you about progress on this project for several reasons: 1) we are dealing with confidential financial info from the developers, 2) there has to be some confidentiality to the evaluation process so the developers feel like they are being treated fairly, and 3) a previous city council has made a policy of not communicating via the community listserve. (Needless to say this is awkward at times like now, when the listserve is buzzing about an issue but we are not able to engage and correct any misconceptions.) I wish we had been more communicative about the RFP process so that some of the concerns expressed on the listserve could have been avoided. I do hope you will share this information with your friends and neighbors whose contact info I may not have.

I am more than glad to entertain questions you might have so please do get in touch. Perhaps if many people want to talk about it we could meet at Urban Eats one night.

Perry Streeters and those near 33rd/Perry corner - your concerns have been at the forefront of my mind as we looked at project proposals. I am confident that the high scoring proposal will tick all the boxes you are concerned about - traffic on our street and in the alley, overflow parking on our street, and how the new building will look out your back windows. This project will fit in with the character of our neighborhood and not have negative spillover effects, including shading anyone's back yards.

Thanks everyone and I look forward to the conversation!
Brent

Brent Bolin
Council member, Ward 2
Mount Rainier, MD
(301) 744-9465
brentcbolin.blogspot.com
twitter.com/bcbolin