Andrews: Montgomery County executive talking out of both sides of his mouth'
Leggett's memo last week says furloughs affecting delivery of services
Montgomery County Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg is criticizing Executive Isiah Leggett (D) for saying that employee furloughs have harmed government services while at the same time moving forward with plans to provide more paid vacation to county workers.
In a memo to County Council members Aug. 5, Leggett wrote that furloughing county workers was "proving challenging to our delivery of services."
County workers will, on average, take about five days of unpaid leave in fiscal 2011.
Leggett recently granted an additional two to three paid vacation days for county workers.
"He's talking out of both sides of his mouth," Andrews said.
Leggett has said that the additional paid time off will not have a cost to county government. A report by the Office of Legislative Oversight found that the plan could cost as much as $7 million and the equivalent of 117 lost years of work by county government employees.
Riemer racks up endorsements
A Democratic candidate for Montgomery County Council in the at-large race recently announced several endorsements.
Hans Riemer, who is among nine Democrats competing in the Sept. 14 primary race, will be endorsed today by Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac.
Berliner said he will announce his endorsement during an event tonight in Chevy Chase. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler also is expected to attend.
"We share the same political values," Berliner said of Riemer, of Silver Spring. "I think he'd be a very good colleague. I like his personal values. I think he would be a good friend to District 1. And District 1 always needs more friends."
Berliner is the third Montgomery County Council member to endorse Riemer, following council Vice President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring, whom Riemer ran against in 2006, and Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring.
Riemer also recently announced endorsements from state Del. Susan C. Lee (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda, who joins eight members of the county's state delegation who have endorsed Riemer.
Riemer also says four members of the five-person Gaithersburg City Council have endorsed him, with Councilman Henry F. Marraffa Jr. the exception.
Court dismisses Mirant suit; company appeals
A U.S. District Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Mirant coal-fired power plant seeking to overturn a new county fee on its pollution, according to acting-County Attorney Marc Hansen.
Hansen said Mirant has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
The lawsuit was dismissed in U.S. District Court on July 12, Hansen said. The court sided with the county's position that the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter because it involved a challenge to a state or local tax, he said.
No court date has been set for Mirant's appeal, Hansen said.
In the meantime, the county will begin assessing the fee of $5 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions for companies that generate at least 1 million tons. Hansen said he expects Mirant, which is the only company affected by the fee, to be billed in October.
"We're going to collect it," he said. "Now whether they pay it or not is a different issue."
If the company were to generate 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, it would receive a bill for $5 million, Hansen said.
Ficker turns in term limit signatures
Robin Ficker, a community activist and a Republican candidate for the Montgomery County Council, said he turned in about 16,000 signatures in support of his proposed charter amendment on term limits for county officials.
Ficker needs 10,000 valid signatures for the question to appear on ballots in November.
Ficker's amendment calls for members of the County Council and the county executive to serve no more than three consecutive four-year terms, beginning in 2014.
The deadline to turn in the signatures was Monday.
Ficker says his amendment does not target any sitting council members or County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).
"[The amendment] would have an effect on some [officials] if they win this time, but we don't even know if they will," Ficker said.
If they are re-elected this year, all sitting council members will be seeking at least their third terms in office in 2014.
The county's Board of Elections will determine whether the signatures Ficker has gathered are valid.