The small gathering of trucks and other equipment pulled together in the parking lot of the Swim Center was very cool! I even got to take a peek at the new trash containers we’ll all be using eventually.
But the capstone was when City staffer Marylou Berg agreed to snap my photo in the very cool Bobcat that was parked akimbo.
I mean, it does not get better than this:
If you have kids, or just want to see some cool heavy equipment, get on over to the Swim Center before 6pm tonight!
>This is an “open letter” from me to Our Fair City’s governing body, the Mayor and Council. I am also sending it to their public email addresses.
Dear Mayor Hoffmann, and Council Members Britton, Gajewski, Marcuccio, and Robbins:
As a private citizen, I want to thank you for your service to Rockville. You make a good team, each bringing a unique set of skills, temperament, and attitude to your work. If I had to write down a set of archetypes that would comprise a governing body, I might well choose the personalities that you all embody.
I am well aware that serving in local elected office, while personally gratifying, is sometimes a thankless, dispiriting job. People often seem to feel they “own a piece of you,” by virtue of the fact that you are their elected representative. In today’s political environment, it is also sometimes difficult for community members to move beyond self interest when it comes to public policy options — so debates may get quite heated, more than is necessary.
There is also the uncomfortable, added difficulty of the fishbowl into which you are suddenly thrown when you win office — everything is on display, and there can seem to be little room for forgiveness on the part of the public.
I understand, and sympathize with, the desire to have some time to work together where the “heat” is turned down. In discussions I have had with elected officials across the nation, one of the chief things they have told me they want is more “room” to do their work — to hash things out, to make mistakes, to think out loud.
But there’s another side, too. From the perspective of the citizens of Rockville, there is not complete trust. The “east-west divide” in town is well-documented, and some decisions may exacerbate the sense (rightly or wrongly) that things go well for the West while the East gets short shrift. With the economy slowing, and surrounding jurisdictions considering staggering tax increases, local citizens are understandably a bit anxious for what their own tax bills will contain. There’s a new, massive development in town — one that is very welcome but related to which some feel there have been a misstep or two. These are just examples; I could go on.
All this can add up to a sense on the part of some citizens that they’d better keep a close eye and a short leash on our elected leaders. Above all, we hear from citizens, around the nation and within our town, that whey want authenticity and accountability from their elected leaders.
These two desires — for “room” on the one hand and for “accountability” on the other — are obviously in tension. There is no way around that; there is no magic town meeting format that will remove it, no engagement consultant that will turn it magically into consensus.
I am led to understand that, on June 2, there is a “mini-retreat” scheduled to take place. It is a part of the series of such meetings that you agreed to in your more formal retreat at the beginning of the year. The June 2 meeting is evidently set to take place at the Cottage (next to Glenview Mansion) at 6pm. There will be a public session and a closed session. No policy discussions and no decisions are to be taken at this meeting; it is intended to improve interpersonal working relationships among and between the members of the Mayor and Council.
As I understand it, the meeting will not be televised on The Rockville Channel, neither live nor taped.
Some have pointed out that this meeting may be a violation of Maryland’s open meeting act, which provides for only a limited set of reasons that a body may go into executive session. Some have also said that holding the meeting at an inconvenient time and location goes against the typical spirit of open and accessible governance that Rockville has become known for. These voices do have a point.
However, it is just as true that it was a perception of dysfunctional relations that drove much of the last campaign — people over and over said they wanted a Mayor and Council that could work together. This “meta-issue” trumped all other specific policy issues. From my professional life, I am well aware of how useful just going off-site, away from the normal setting, can [be to] improve the ability of a group to work together and air issues that need to be discussed.
As you can see, I am sympathetic to both sides in this question. I don’t think it’s an outrage that a retreat is being held, and that part of it is by design private. But I do think that it would be beneficial to take all the steps possible to make the rest of the meeting fully transparent. Whenever a public body goes into a closed session, it is essentially drawing on the bank of trust from the citizens. It seems wise to make as many “deposits” into that bank as possible.
It has been suggested to me that I come to the mini-retreat with my little video recorder in hand, and post all the video I can. While it sounds like a hoot, I do not plan to do that. Instead, I plan to attend, if it is permissible, and just write a simple recap of what happens in the public portion of the meeting. I hope that some citizens will trust that I will do my best to be fair and accurate to all.
So, when you see me at the meeting, know that I am not there to keep you on a short leash, but instead am there to try, from my perspective as a private citizen, to bridge a divide. Ultimately, I am writing this note simply to let you know that at least one citizen understands the bind that you, as a body, are in. The answer is not easy.
Thanks again for your service.
This cute little guy was snapped by Rockville Central friend Todd Harrison. Of the photo, he says: “I found this fellow sitting in my front yard munching on some clover. He didn’t seem to mind me taking his picture. I walked up within about 6 feet of him and he didn’t run off or anything.”
>This Contributor’s Review is from Rockville Central friend, Amy Ellis.
It’s finally time for the return of the outdoor events that really make it feel like Spring/Summer in Rockville! I enjoy the greening plants and blooming flowers of early Spring very much, but my heart really sings when it’s time to get outside to dine, listen to music, and stroll comfortably around the city- not too cool and not yet hot and humid. There are a number of restaurants downtown with outdoor seating and it’s getting to be one of the prime times of the year to take advantage of that opportunity.
This past Saturday, May 17th, was the opening day for our Rockville Farmer’s Market. The sky was a beautiful blue, a brass band playing in the background lent a particularly festive atmosphere, and many old favorite vendors were back for another season selling local produce, baked goods, plants, meat, cheeses, and toiletries. These folks all grow or produce their own goods, so shopping at the market is a great opportunity to support not only the local food movement, but also hardworking small business people who take great pride in the high quality of the things that they sell. Strawberries are in at many of the farms (and will be coming in soon for others)- YUM!- and I saw lots of wonderful looking salad greens, bedding plants, and cut spring flowers. I satisfied my craving for sweet breads at the Trail Garden (and noted for future expeditions that a new baker- Praline- had some very tempting croissants that will certainly warrent a tasting), picked up some Minty Foot Cream at Bubbles and Bees (a little goes a long way- the big jar lasted me all Winter), snagged fudge at Unger’s, and of course grabbed some strawberries, too!
My whole family has been looking forward to the return of Concerts on the Square. Last Summer, we frequently met friends for the Thursday evening concerts- getting take-out for dinner at one of the restaurants in Town Center (Lebanese Taverna was a big favorite and this year I’m looking forward to Bobby’s Crabcakes) and making a picnic of the occasion. The kids played together in the grass while the adults listened to the music and enjoyed some conversation. We’ve already got plans to go out and hear Seamus Kennedy next week. I’m glad to see that Wednesday night will also be a concert option through July and we are looking forward to attending one of the Movies on the Square events. The Tuesday Kids Day events look like fun, too. Magic, reptiles, Mad Science- what’s not to like about that?!
The Rockville Express Summer Collegiate League baseball games appear to be worth checking out. They will play at Knight’s Field at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College during June and July. It looks like an excellent chance to take the kids to watch a baseball game that’s close to home with reasonable ticket prices and a small venue where you can see the action up close. Someday you may even have the chance to say about a major league star “I remember seeing him play during the summer in Rockville back when he was in college…”
Finally, the weekend slate of activities for Hometown Holidays looks great and if the current predictions hold up, it looks like the weather will be perfect. I want to check out the VisArts Fine Arts Festival, my older son is excited about participating in the Ride and Stride for Rockville (this year the 2-mile fun walk for a start) and we will all enjoy having a “Taste of Rockville” and listening to/watching the many fine performers scheduled on various stages around town. The Memorial Day Parade will cap off the weekend. Truly something for everybody!
What do you like to do outdoors in Rockville? Share your favorites in the comment box…
>Via our friends at Connected Communities, we’ve learned that the U.S. Secret Service has issued an alert for the D.C. area that counterfeit $50 and $100 bills are appearing, printed on genuine Treasury paper.
According to the article:
Counterfeiters are bleaching out genuine $1 and $5 notes and reprinting mainly counterfeit $50 and $100 on the genuine paper.
The security thread still appears in the bleached $5 and typically fools a merchant who just looks to see if the thread is there. Due to the paper being genuine currency paper, your typical counterfeit detection pens do not recognize the bill as counterfeit.
Go here for more, including a larger photo and what to do if you spot such bills.
(Image from Connected Communities.)
>I was fortunate enough to catch up with Ricky Allen, Our Fair City’s Mayor For A Day and a fourth grade student at Beall Elementary, at local favorite Giuseppe’s Pizza today. He was taking time out from his day to lunch with Mayor Susan Hoffmann and do a quick photo-op.
In case you did not know, Ricky Allen was the Rockville winner of the “If I Were Mayor” contest, which is sponsored each year by the Maryland Municipal League. Fourth graders from around the state complete the “If I Were . . . ” sentence in brief essays.
The two were kind enough to let me sit and ask Ricky a few questions.
Asked what the best thing of the day so far, Ricky answered that he’d had a ride-along with the police — and that they’d run the lights and siren briefly, which he liked. He also got a souvenir street sign that had his name on it. (I have to admit, that would be pretty cool.)
Later this afternoon, he planned a trip to Croydon Creek Nature Center, one of my favorite places in town.
It was simply a delight to talk to this articulate and intelligent young man. In an unfamiliar situation, alone with a bunch of adults peppering him with attention and questions, he reported that he didn’t feel nervous at all and, in fact, was highly engaged throughout. I can only hope to be as poised in my next interview.
I asked Ricky about his essay. What would he do if he were mayor? He immediately replied he would improve transportation for seniors, and get police officers onto the streets (and out of their cars), as a way of combating global warming. He went on to point to a number of things he’d do, including improve the timeliness snow removal and fix potholes.
Having worked for an elected official before, I can say I think Ricky’s on to something with those last two. Constituent services is the name of the game! Expect to see more of him in the future.
This title doesn’t make perfect sense, but I just wanted to refer to a Bauhaus song! This was in the recent Beall Elementary art night . . . the sculpture just caught my fancy.
>Rockville Central friend Eric Jensen passed along some sobering news from real estate tracking company Zillow:
According to Zillow’s latest Home Value Report, home values in Rockville decreased 9.5% in the first quarter of 2008, compared to the first quarter of 2007. Nationally, single-family home values decreased 7.5% while condo values declined 9.0% during this same period.
Zillow is a Seattle-based company that makes it easy for consumers to see real estate sales data and make comparisons. It is not perfect, but it is well respected.
To see the Rockville data, go here.
Tune into >Rockville Central Radio today at noon! It’s a talk show: Call-in number is 646-200-3332.
As you know, we have launched a weekly radio talk show called “Rockville Central Radio!” It airs every Friday at noon, and audience response has been really gratifying.
We expect another fun show, including Wootton High School’s a capella group the Supertonics (performing in Hometown Holidays) and jewelry artist Wendy Edsall-Kerwin, who is showing at the VisArts Fine Art Festival. And more!
It’s completely easy to listen to: Just go to this page at noon on Friday, to start listening in. You’ll need a computer, an Internet connection, and speakers.
Dial in! Don’t be shy!
These PVC conduits look like the exhaust trails from a group of fireworks going up into the sky, or maybe the Blue Angels.
Gentle readers, we forgot to hit “return” and so today’s >Weekend To Weekend made it appear to the casual reader that Council Member Piotr Gajewski’s town hall meeting, which is to take place this evening, was scheduled for tomorrow night. Nope. It’s tonight! (The header for the next date got run into the description for Piotr’s event instead of appearing in the line below.)
Here is the info for tonight’s meeting:
I am on deadline for “work,” but if I can swing it I will see you there!
>Events in Rockville
You can be sure that I’m going try to include as many Town Center events as possible in Weekend to Weekend this Summer, but there’s so much going on I might not be able to include it all! I’m not exaggerating! There’s music every Wednesday and Thursday nights and movies every Saturday night. You can read all about it in this brochure. Bookmark it and plan to enjoy the good times!
Thursday, May 15
Last Martinis and Matisse, VisArts, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM. $10 cover charge includes painting a martini glass. This is the last one of the season. Sponsored by the Fractured Prune, very decadent. The Jim Steed Music will bring on the power pop. Still haven’t seen it? Don’t miss the exhibition: “Kimonos and Woodcuts: Collaboration – A Way Of Work.” Visit the resident artists in their studios. The cash bar features a “Summer-tini” with other martinis & bottle beers.
Friday, May 16
Bike to Work Day! Bike for the Green.There are pit stops in Rockville Town Square and in Fallsgrove from 7 AM – 9 AM. You need to register for them, but everyone can bike and think about changing our lifestyles for a healthier body and planet.
Wine Tasting Social, Rockville Senior Center, 7 PM – 9 PM. Rock Enroll to register $10/members, $12/nonmembers, $15/nonmembers, non-City residents. If you are single and at least 60, this is your chance to get out and meet some people! Dress well and enjoy a variety of wines and hors d’oeuvres.
Saturday, May 17
Authentic Trea$ures to Tra$h Yard Sale, East Rockville Citizen Association, 8 AM – 1 PM. ERCA tells us “We invite one and all to come and get lost in East Rockville, you never know what you’ll find!” More than 35 families and organizations are selling. Join in this friendly community event! Follow the signs from Veirs Mill Road, First Street or Rt. 355 to find one location then get a map to find them all!
Rockville Growers Only Farmers Market, Corner of Monroe Street & Rt. 28, 9 AM – 1 PM. Free parking. First one of the season! Flowers, fruits, vegetables, plants, and home-baked goods. Always a good review. Stop by on your way to baseball at Dogwood Park!
Spiderman 3, Movies on the Square, Rockville Town Center, 8:30 PM. First of this Summer’s free outdoor movies!
Rockville Chorus, F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 7:30 PM. Free, no tickets required. This is the Spring Performance of this approximately 70 member chorus which performs works by well-known and local composers.
Tuesday, May 20
Mommy & Me on the Square, Rockville Town Center, 10 AM – Noon. Free every third Tuesday of the month. Children under 5 accompanied by an adult can enjoy a storytime, singing, arts & crafts, and balloon animals. Think about staying for lunch because there will be specials! Meet in front of the Rockville Library. [Update: if raining the event may be rescheduled to 4-6 PM. Check the Town Center website.]
Kid’s Day, Rockville Town Square, 6 PM – 8 PM. This is the first one to be held by the City of Rockville, promising activities for the kids.
Wednesday, May 21
Gonzo’s Nose, Concerts on the Square, Rockville Town Center, 6 PM – 8 PM. Free concert with this party cover band. Well now, I checked and they do Finger 11, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paramore, Foo Fighters, and Buckcherry so they should consider these my requests!
Ride of Silence, Rockville Town Square, 7 PM. Join cyclists in a silent procession to honor cyclists killed or injured when biking on public roadways. This free ride has no brochure, no sponsors, no registration and no t-shirt. Come out during Bike Safety Month to help raise awareness. The ride starts in front of the Rockville Library and will go ten miles through Rockville on multi-use paths and public roads with a Rockville City Police escort…in silence.
Thursday, May 22
The Rockville Singers Chorus, Concert in the Square, Rockville Town Square stage, 6 PM – 8 PM.
Friday, May 23
Blessing of the Animals, Animal Exhange, 4:30 PM. Bring your pets. Blessings by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clerics. A fun community gathering!
Saturday, May 24
Rockville Growers Only Farmers Market, Corner of Monroe Street & Rt. 28, 9 AM – 1 PM. Free parking. First one of the season! Flowers, fruits, vegetables, plants, and home-baked goods. Always a good review. Great way to start off the holiday weekend with some special treats!
Hometown Holidays!!!! Check out the full schedule for Saturday. Something for EVERYONE! Honestly, I can’t understand not going!! SEVEN stages of entertainment, Taste of Rockville featuring 30 of our best restaurants, the VisArts Festival (wide range of very talented artists from near and far), Going Green Expo, and lots for the kids!
Vanessa Carlton headlines with her tremendous voice and smart lyrics at 8:30. She’s not quite traveling “A Thousand Miles” coming down from NY but her visit will make your day! Don’t miss her!
Sunday, May 25
Hometown Holidays!!!! Check out the full schedule for Sunday. SEVEN stages of entertainment, Taste of Rockville featuring 30 of our best restaurants, the VisArts Festival (wide range of very talented artists from near and far), Going Green Expo, and lots for the kids! Our very own hometown band, The West End, is playing the Courthouse Square Stage from 12-1 PM then 2–3:30 PM. Yes!! The West End IS the ROCK in ROCKville Hometown Holidays and you know what I think about that! Our Rockville Central publisher, Brad Rourke, will be singing and playing along with Monique DeFrees, Mike Shawn, and Matthew Taylor.
Stride to Ride, City of Rockville, start times run from 7 AM to 8:45 AM. You can bike, walk or run. Distances from 2 miles to 28 miles around Rockville. This is a fundraiser for the Rockville Recreation Fund and the Rockville Bike Fund and you must register Rock Enroll #25006. All routes start and end at Rockville Town Center corner of East Montgomery Avenue and Maryland Avenue. Maps, t-shirts, refreshments and health screenings too!
Monday, May 26
Memorial Day Festivities, 9 AM.
Memorial Day Parade, Rockville, 10:30 AM – Noon. Look for me with my Cub Scout Pack 928 on Tim Jone’s firetruck! Always fond of the parade, a highlight of my year!
Email the information for any fun, educational or community events to be included in Weekend to Weekend. Businesses are invited to send along specials and discounts. Include links! We will publish event listings occurring in & around our coverage area (map) on Thursdays. The inclusion of events and specials is at our discretion.
If you attend an event, we invite you to write a contributor review. Just send it in and we will consider it. Rules: Event is in Rockville; fairly recent; article is your work; you are not offering it for publication elsewhere. Try to keep it under 500 words; we will edit for length. Include a photo if you have one!
Did you see one of Montgomery County’s big, blue Ride On buses parked in a prime spot in front of Whole Foods on Rockville Pike yesterday? It was there as part of an event in support of >Manna Food Center, one of the region’s most important food banks.
The County had donated four buses to Manna’s “Stuff A Bus” food drive, while Whole Foods agreed to donate 5% of its receipts to the cause. People from all over the county brought bags of food to stuff the buses.
As the economy continues to cool and people are hit with more and more anxiety, local agencies to help people struggling to make ends meet are seeing a distinct rise in their numbers. April last year, according to the Washington Post, Manna served 1,700 families. This year, April brought 2,263 families through the doors.
Elsewhere throughout the region, food banks can barely keep items on the shelves — the need is so great that they are gone almost as soon as they arrive.
You can help by donating food and money to these important direct-response agencies. Manna, which is marking its 25th year, is an especially well-run enterprise with 94% of donations going straight to food aid. Manna reports that every $1 donated becomes $5 worth of food for families who are in need. From their web site:
- A $25 contribution provides a family of four with five days of emergency food.
- A $75 gift funds trucks and drivers so that they can collect 4,000 pounds of edible, nutritious food from local grocery stores, food that instead of being tossed in a dumpster will feed 50 families.
- A $150 donation allows Manna to deliver bread to 25 low-income communities.
This reminds me of a scene I saw many times when I lived in Maine.
Except for the backhoe, which I saw less often.