Assorted Links – 1/18/2019

Welcome to Assorted Links, a collection of interesting media relevant to the DMV.

Frankly…Pizza in Kensington, MD

Frankly…Pizza is nestled behind the Safeway in Kensington. Parking is scarce, but free, if you can grab a spot out front of FP. If not, there is street parking. About a block away, which is where we park, is a public lot (free). The patio is nice and spacious, although it gets loud if it’s packed. Inside can be cozy but you have plenty of space between tables. We went on a Saturday and it was pretty busy. When we arrived to grab a table we had about a 20-25 minute wait but there was quickly a line of people waiting for a table and their wait time varied between 45-60 min. However, the staff handled it very well and they were very efficient in the kitchen. We were seated in 20 minutes and had our drinks and apps shortly afterward. It didn’t take long before our pizzas were on the table.

Porky Marge (top) and Pesto (bottom)

Both of these pizzas were delicious. If I could have fit another pizza in, I would have gone for it. The crust is perfectly crisp and airy, with just enough of a char to add some depth to the rest of the flavors. Their pesto sauce was perfect.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Traffic Incidents

Pedestrian safety has been a huge issue in Montgomery County, MD for several years but the rate of incidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians has been steadily climbing this year. 

Take a look at this data visualization I put together to see the impact motor vehicles have on pedestrian and cyclist safety in Montgomery County, MD.

Amid affordable housing crisis, County Executive Candidate takes donations from developers

Nancy Floreen, a Democrat running as an independent candidate in the County Executive race in Montgomery County, MD, is taking some heat over her finances, including political donations.

Floreen, who entered the race after progressive Democrat Marc Elrich won the primary, has raised around $340,000. She has already spent more than half of these funds on her campaign to get on the ballot for November.

Floreen received 129 contributions over the reporting period, 35 of which were for the $6,000 legal maximum, her filing with the State Board of Elections shows. At least two-thirds of the money she raised came from donors with ties to development, real estate and construction. People in some of these industries are uneasy at the prospect of Elrich becoming county executive, Floreen said. “Updated: Floreen Raises $340,000 To Kick Off Independent Bid for County Exec, Spends More than Half To Get Onto Ballot”

Floreen has already started to cozy up to her political donors. In a recent candidate debate in Aspen Hill, Floreen noted that the answer to the affordable housing issue is making it easier for builders. Elrich, meanwhile, hopes to encourage home ownership, not renting, and wants to push for “zoning for less density.”

However, there’s a new twist on the housing issue. Montgomery County’s planning department has halted plans for new housing in several areas of the county because local schools fear they don’t have enough space for current students. Katherine Shaver of the Washington Post says that “…half of the county’s 205 schools exceed 100 percent capacity, and some hover around 150 percent.” Halting new developments is a disaster for local developers, real estate, and construction businesses. The development boom in Montgomery County is reliant on new developments in the most sought after cities like Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Developers will have to start looking for opportunities in other parts of the county in order to make money. However, cities further away from the DC border are less attractive.

Dan Reed from Just Up The Pike tells us the sale of existing homes doesn’t contribute to funding school expansion in Montgomery County.

In most of Montgomery County, developers have to pay a fee for each new home they build to help pay for schools. But if an older, childless household with sells their home to a young family with kids, as is often the case, the county doesn’t get any money for those new students. “montgomery county says no new homes in silver spring because the schools are full”

School shortages aren’t a new phenomenon in Montgomery County. The challenge for the future will be how to solve the problem long-term instead of developing solutions to just take care of the current problem, like adding portable classrooms. Bethesda Elementary is the perfect example of short-term solutions that just aren’t working anymore.

Bethesda Elementary School opened an eight-classroom expansion three years ago to relieve pressure on the overcrowded campus. A year later, the school spilled over again into a portable classroom. When this school year started Tuesday , it had four portables and 639 children — 80 more than it’s built to hold As D.C.-area schools grapple with overcrowding, parents wonder why enrollment projections are so off

Floreen and Elrich will have to find creative, long-term solutions to face both the shortage of housing and the lack of schools in several popular school districts. Floreen, who is pro-developer, pro-business, won’t be so keen to let her donors down. Elrich, meanwhile, will need to find funding for school expansions, new schools, or redistricting if he insists on favoring low density residential zones within Montgomery County.

Too Busy to Think

From “Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively

Our constant state of busy is hurting our brains. Our phones, computers, and binge-watching all those television shows might be doing more harm than good.

The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work.

Over the past few decades we have consumed more and more information, making it harder for our brains to switch from being busy to being creative.

Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.

How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business

In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.


Politics & Policy – Roundup 06/07/2017

  • Democrats to sue Trump over conflicts of interest – “Dozens of House and Senate Democrats plan to sue President Donald Trump in the coming weeks, claiming he is breaking the law by refusing to relinquish ownership of his sprawling real-estate empire while it continues to profit from business with foreign governments.” It was just reported that Saudi Arabia paid the Trump Hotel $270k. That’s a heck of a hotel bill.
  • House Of Representatives Unanimously Votes To Condemn Turkish Security Attack On D.C. Protesters – “Without a single dissenting vote, the House of Representatives voted last night to condemn Turkish security forces’ attack on protesters in D.C. last month.” Talk about bipartisan. Last month a group of protesters were attached by Turkish security forces outside of the Turkish embassy in D.C. and it was caught on video.
  • Donald Trump’s presidency is an American crisis – “At the center of all this, Trump is running a chaotic and understaffed government. He has named nominees for only 80 of the 558 key appointments he needs to fill, and only 40 of them have cleared Senate confirmation. Last night brought news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was considering resigning, and last week brought news that Trump’s communications director had been fired. Trump is tweeting out criticisms of his own Justice Department, investigators are digging into first son-in-law Jared Kushner’s contacts with Russia, and chief eldest child Ivanka Trump has wrested the cover of US Weekly for a profile focusing on her disagreements with her father. Amid all this, Trump’s approval rating is down to a miserable 38 percent.”
  • Comey Forces Trump Defenders Into Extreme and Absurd Spin – “[Republicans] reactions are revealing a profound dishonesty that far exceeds the norms of usual political spin, and are demonstrating that the Trumpified quarters of the GOP and the conservative movement are intellectually bankrupt and devoid of principle.”
  • Today’s Russia hearing — without many answers — was still bad for Trump – “Top intelligence and law enforcement officials refused to confirm reports that President Donald Trump had tried to shut down an ongoing FBI probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.” But then again, they refused to answer anything.
  • What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Fairness – “The data on inequality is, of course, staggering. The top 1 percent in America owns more than the bottom 90 percent. The annual Wall Street bonus pool alone is more than the annual year-round earnings of all Americans working full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. And what’s becoming clearer is the fraying of the social fabric that results.”

The Millenial Consumer

Millenials have been driving advertisers crazy. We don’t respond to ads like other generations have. Instead, we respond to how well a company embraces our values: sustainability, advancing social issues, knowing where our food and products come from, etc. This suggests that instead of brands driving consumer tastes, Millenials are pushing brands to make smarter decisions and better choices.

In a 2012 study of American and British adults, 8 in 10 millennials said they appreciated “behind the scenes” commercials for their food, like Whole Foods Market’s Values Matter campaign, which links back to a page where the readers can verify the company’s sustainability claims personally. By comparison, only 6.5 in 10 baby boomers indicated that they wanted more information about their food from brands.

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