What’s going on Prince George’s County and DMV neighbors? How you feeling? I can say I’m feeling a bit nervous right about now about something that has shown no real signs of entering this area: ebola virus disease. American doctor and missionary (respectively), Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol are infected with the ebola virus will be transported by way of noncommercial plane from Liberia to Emory University in Atlanta by early next week. They’re both in serious condition. ABCNews reported that hospital officials have plans to house one of the patients in Emory University Hospital’s special facility containment unit. My heart goes out to the families of Brantly and Writebol; I’d want my relatives in the U.S. if there were infected. But I have even more concern for the people who will be working with the patients and everyone in the surrounding area. Ebola is spread by human to human contact when outside of environments (i.e. rainforests, remote areas) where human to animal contact is prevalent. I don’t know y’all, but, eeeh, I’m just not comfortable with this, but seriously, I hope that both Brantley and Writebol fully recover. I’ll contact Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene if I need more information.
A more imminent threat to the health and welfare of Prince Georgians is the building of nine cell phone towers in school areas where they will remain for a time period of 10-20 years. From the Washington Post, “Quon Wilson, a spokesman for the county’s public schools, said the system has an agreement with Milestone Communications, which is working on nine sites for such towers, including Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Charles Carroll Middle School in New Carrollton and Oxon Hill Middle School in Oxon Hill. Under the agreement with Milestone, the school system would receive $25,000 for each site and 40 percent of the gross revenue from the tower on its site. The school system estimates that the agreement could generate $2.5 million over five years. The master lease agreement was approved in 2011, but Milestone is now moving forward with plans to construct the towers. Milestone can lease the tower space for 10 years with up to a 20-year extension. There are studies and reports which refute the common belief that the radio waves generated by these towers cause cancer, but for me, I’ll err on the side of caution. Would you want a cell phone tower in your backyard? I’m very concerned that for $2.5 million stretched out over 5 years, we’re willing to take this chance with your children. There is currently a petition at change.org calling for a stop to the building of these cell phone towers.
School starts in Prince George’s County on TUESDAY August 26th. I’m not sure why it’s a Tuesday but I’m sure every parent in my life is shouting a big ‘WHO CARES” and doing one of the Charlie Brown Christmas Play Rehearsal happy dances ” Haha! You can start your tax free shopping in Virginia this weekend August 1-3, for school and office supplies that cost less than $20 each and clothes and shoes less than $100 each will be exempt from Virginia’s 5.3 percent state and local sales tax. Maryland’s tax free week is August 10th-16th, which means no sales tax for parents and auntie/uncles/godparents and all other shoppers who buy clothing and shoes priced at $100 or less. Remember tax free week 2014 in Maryland is August 10th-16th. Try not to smile to hard as you’re picking up those school supplies. Click this LINK for Prince George’s County back to school information.
Westphalia Community Center is breaking ground this Saturday at 10am; rain or shine. The community center will be located right off White House/Ritchie Road at 8900 Westphalia Road, Upper Marlboro 20774. GPS it if you want to go. The RSVP number is 201.446.3600 but I seriously think you can just drop in.
Term limits are coming to a ballot near you this November, thanks to the unanimous vote of the Prince George’s County Council on July 23rd. I think almost all career politicians suck. I support term limits. Politicians cannot be allowed to become so firmly entrenched in a position; eventually they stop serving the people. The Baltimore Sun did a good write up, “The ballot measure was proposed by Prince George’s County’s Charter Review Commission, a body appointed every four years by the council and county executive to take a fresh look at the county’s charter. In its most recent report, the commission recommended extending term limits as an intermediary step to doing away with them altogether because the group thought they have outlived their usefulness and put the county at a strategic disadvantage, according to District 1 Council member Mary Lehman.
Lehman, who represents Laurel, said she voted to bring the charter question to the voters because she thinks an extra term could be helpful. “Eight years does go by fast and I think there’s an argument to be made that 12 years would allow more time to address some complex issues like land use, transportation and housing,” …however, she does not support a total elimination of term limits. She said she remembers when she was a child hearing her mother, a Prince George’s County activist, complaining about career politicians.
This year’s charter question is the third time in recent years term limits have been under scrutiny in the county. In 1992, voters approved a citizen-led initiative to require term limits in the county in the midst of a strong, nationwide backlash against incumbents that year. Then, in 2000, the council voted to revisit the issue, placing a measure on the ballot to repeal term limits. The effort failed by a wide margin.
The plans for a Greenbelt FBI location have been drawn up and made public. Unlike the might fortress that is the Census Bureau in Suitland, this rendering includes a mixed-use community to include office buildings, apartments, retails a hotel, and private office space. Garth Beall, the attorney managing the Greenbelt proposal, released his plans to Capital Business for a series of five office buildings for the FBI alongside 1.6 million square feet of private offices, apartments, retail and a hotel. The Washington Post reported on the plans, “The FBI would occupy five office buildings in the center of the property and enjoy a wide buffer area around it to provide for security concerns. A parking garage for the agency is pictured at the far right with solar panels on its roof.
Immediately adjacent to the Metro station, on the northern end of the site, would be a new parking lot for Metro commuters (to the far left). As part of its deal with Metro, Beall’s project must replace all the parking and Kiss and Ride facilities currently on the site. That’s followed by (from right to left) an apartment building, a hotel and three private office buildings. Metro passengers arriving to the site would disembark into a plaza area connecting the mixed-use properties to the FBI campus. A view from the Metro station of the plaza shows the hotel to the left, an apartment building to the right and the FBI office buildings in the background, accessible via underground walkway. ”
I’ve read that the Greenbelt development company, Renard Development Company LLC, has “less experience” than the Lerner Enterprise company that owns Landover Mall and is also vying for the FBI to relocate to their property but honestly, why should Lerner be rewarded? Lerner Enterprises owns Tysons Boulevard, Dulles Town Center, Annapolis Harbour Center, just to name a few, and none of these properties have fallen into the state of dismal disrepair that define Landover Mall. Give it to Greenbelt and let Landover go to the new health campus planned for the Largo area.