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Former MoCo Council President Tom Perez elected DNC Chair

Tom PerezNew DNC Chairman Tom Perez. COURTESY PHOTO

Former County Council President Tom Perez has been elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Upon his election, Perez named Congressman Keith Ellison, a runner-up in the DNC election, to be deputy chair.

This story will be updated in this week's edition of The Sentinel.

 

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“Held Back Reform Too Long”

Delaney proposes massive changes in the way Metro conducts business

 

A local representative said he has the legislative medicine to cure Metro’s ills.

“This legislation removes the brakes that have held back reform for too long,” said Rep. John Delaney (D-6), sponsor of the “WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) Improvement Act of 2017.”

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Gaithersburg sides with county on immigrants

 

Gaithersburg Govt logo

GAITHERSBURG – City council member Ryan Spiegel wanted to make one thing clear Tuesday night –the city does not participate in enforcing immigration law.

After a surge in deportations by federal immigration officials across the country, Spiegel along with other members of the Gaithersburg City Council said at Tuesday night’s Council meeting that the city does assist federal immigration officials in deportations.

“Our city police officers do make inquires relative to immigration status during routine actions,” Spiegel said.

Spiegel responded to comments made by Gaithersburg resident Doug Hill, who urged the city to declare itself a sanctuary city, a general term for jurisdictions where local officials do not assist in enforcement of immigration law. Spiegel said he does not think it is a good idea for the city to call itself a sanctuary city given there is no universal definition for the term.

“The phrase sanctuary city is a politically-loaded phrase as we all know,” Spiegel said. ”I think that regardless of whether or not that label is applied to a particular municipal or county or state entity, the more important question is what is the culture?”

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County Executive race is now ON!

About four months after the presidential election and just days before the start of filing for candidates, the race for County Executive is starting to heat up.

For the first time since 2006 there will be an open seat in the County Executive Office building in 2018 leading to an array of contenders to replace the outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett. The candidate filing period begins Feb. 28 and the primary election is June 26.

Leggett, who has said his current term will be his last, cannot run for re-election after voters in November passed a referendum on term limits, limiting members of the County Council and the County Executive to three consecutive, four-year terms.

The chief proponent of the term limit referendum is also one of the first people to enter the County Executive Race – Robin Ficker.

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Remembering a bridge to the past

Talbot Avenue BridgeThe Talbot Avenue bridge has a history - and despite its condition some want it saved. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  

A one-lane bridge in the western part of Silver Spring that enables Talbot Avenue to cross over CSX Railroad tracks hardly seems worth saving, according to some. The rickety structure has deteriorated and is scheduled to be demolished when the Purple Line is built.

But while the neglected bridge has yet to make it onto the National Register of Historic Places, its historic significance in Montgomery County is enough for the County Council to try to save it.

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Historic Howard U. hospital recognized at Twinbrook talk

Of the 12,000 surgeons who served during the Civil War, only 14 were African-Americans. Seven worked in The Contraband Hospital, which is now a teaching hospital at Howard University.

During the Civil War, some 40,000 slaves sought freedom in D.C., according to Jill Newmark, exhibition specialist for the National Library of Medicine. She spoke last week at Twinbrook Library as part of a Black History Month program sponsored in cooperation with Montgomery County Department of Public Libraries and the Montgomery County Historical Society.

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Muslim leaders rally for refugees

WASHINGTON – For seven years running, the self-proclaimed oldest Muslim organization in America has met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

While Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has made a routine point to meet with representatives to discuss goals in combating extremism both inside and outside of the Islamic community, community members said this year’s meeting on Capitol Hill took on another level of importance after the election of President Donald J. Trump.

This year’s Day on the Hill focused on Trump’s new executive order that placed a indefinite moratorium on refugees from Syria and a 90- day travel ban from seven Muslim majority nations, and the rise in hate crimes.

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Parents and teachers express education concerns

GERMANTOWN – Teachers, parents of students and family members of teachers said at a budget meeting Feb. 15 they were concerned about items such as minimum wage, allocation of staffing, availability of materials and class size.

County Council member Craig Rice (D-2),chair of the education committee, Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith led the town hall at Northwest High School.

Rocky Hill Middle School teacher Lisabeth Belman said she wanted their concerns to be heard.

“My issue is that teacher voice,” said Belman.

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Rockville city manager’s proposed budget includes more police officers

ROCKVILLE – The city manager’s proposed fiscal year 2018 capital and operating budgets include increased water costs for residents, new capital improvement projects and added police officers.

According to the Department of Finance, Administration and Budget Division, the only new positions in the proposed budget are three additional sworn police officers. The last time the city received new police officers was the addition of two for a total of 59 in fiscal year 2014.

The new City Manager Rob DiSpirito said in a letter to the city and to the mayor and council that he proposed to add three police officers to the city department “to increase public safety and to improve health and well-being of our Police force.”

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"I came here with dreams"

County resident remembers fleeing violence for hope here

 

When the popular restaurant Silver Diner on Rockville Pike first opened for business on Feb. 14, 1989, its future operating partner was a teenager in civil-war-torn El Salvador.

Fleeing the violence in his native land, Omar Martinez, then 14 years old, crossed Guatemala and Mexico before entering the United States by swimming across the Rio Bravo into Texas in the middle of the night on Dec. 28, 1989.

“I came here with dreams to live in different sort of world where I could go to school and make positive contributions to American society,” Martinez said.

Soon after his arrival in America, Martinez was detained by the immigration authorities and was held in a minors’ detention center for roughly two months. He was eventually released into the care of his uncle, who was then a legal resident of Rockville.

After relocating to Rockville, Martinez began attending Montgomery County Public Schools and took his first job at Silver Diner, as a dishwasher. He learned English in school and eventually took advanced classes at Montgomery College.

“It took me about five years to become fluent in speaking English,” Martinez said. “It’s taken me a lot longer to learn how to write it properly.”

As Martinez started a family, he advanced at Silver Diner, working nearly every job at the restaurant before he was offered the position of general manager at Silver Diner’s Tyson’s Corner location. In 2005, he returned to the Rockville location to become its operating partner and has worked there ever since. During his tenure, the diner’s revenue has increased substantially.

“One of my dreams was to be a contributor to society, and I’ve been able to do that here in Rockville,” Martinez said, citing Silver Diner’s financial contributions to support health and wellness programs in area schools. He received an award from MCPS in 2014 as the business owner who had done the most to support the schools.

Martinez formally became an American citizen at a ceremony in Baltimore in 2001. He said that he has always felt welcome in America, but that the rhetoric and proposals of President Donald Trump, who on the campaign trail called for mass deportations of illegal immigrants and the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, have alarmed him and many in his community.     

“Over the last year, the news that we’ve been hearing, particularly from the new president, has been very scary to my Latin American community,” Martinez said. “It’s something that keeps our friends and families awake at night.  This is the kind of threat that a lot of us came here to get away from. There was a big celebration many years ago when Germany knocked down its wall, but now, seeing that they want to build a wall here in our own backyard, separating out families is very heartbreaking.”

Martinez said he would like to show those concerned about losing jobs and resources that immigrants make significant contributions to the American economy.

“I am a businessman and I would have to say that I am very successful, and I feel that if I don’t have the workforce from other countries, I would have to close this business,” Martinez said. “Mr. Trump says he wants to rebuild American infrastructure, but he also says he wants to deport 11 million people.  If he does that, who’s going to build all these new roads and bridges? I did not come here to take jobs from Americans. I came here so that I could build something, give back and create more jobs for this wonderful country.”

@Petersrouleau

 

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