November 20, 2018

Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22


Montgomery County government will observe the following holiday schedule for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22.
  • County Offices – Closed. 
  • Libraries – Closed. 
  • Department of Liquor Control retail stores – Closed. 
  • Recreation – All programs and facilities - Closed.
  • Montgomery Parks – For special programs, events and operating schedule, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, and tennis centers, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.
  • Ride On – Sunday schedule.
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com.
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com.
  • TRiPS Commuter Store at Silver Spring Transit Center – Closed.
  • TRiPS Mobile Commuter Store – Closed. 
  • County-provided refuse/recycling pickup – County-provided trash and recycling collection is canceled Nov. 22 and will slide one day, with the last collection Saturday, Nov. 24. 
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station – Closed.
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – Free.
  • State offices and courts – Closed.

Statement by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett on Amazon

“Although Montgomery County was not chosen as the site for Amazon’s second headquarters, we are very pleased that Arlington County will join Long Island City as one of the sites selected. The Arlington location will result in additional jobs, business, and investments – all of which will benefit the entire DC metropolitan region – and Montgomery County.

I want to thank Amazon for selecting us to be on the list of finalists. A special thanks goes to Governor Larry Hogan for his strong support of Montgomery County’s bid. I also appreciate the critical support we received from the Maryland General Assembly, the Montgomery County Council, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, and our entire local business community.

Montgomery County continues to be one of the best places in America to live, raise a family, grow a business, and build a future. Over the past 12 years, we have strengthened our fiscal foundations, eliminated unnecessary red tape, laid the groundwork for new employment centers that will create approximately 100,000 new jobs, and invested even more in transportation options and our world-class school system.

This is a great day for Amazon, for Arlington County, for New York City, and for the entire Washington DC metropolitan region.”

Montgomery County Council Statement on Amazon’s Decision to Locate Second Headquarters in Virginia and New York

“Amazon's decision to expand its existing presence in Northern Virginia is good news for the Washington region, which will benefit from the stronger private sector growth that Amazon will foster. It is good news for everyone who cares about future job growth in Montgomery County and the region generally.

We are proud of the fact that Montgomery County was selected to be one of only 20 potential locations for HQ2. Being selected to this list reaffirmed that our County continues to be one of the best places in the country to live, work and grow a business in our increasingly global economy.

Now we must focus on transportation and workforce development so that Montgomery County residents can access those jobs, new housing to promote affordability as housing demand in the region grows, and an enhanced effort to land future spin-off opportunities right here in Montgomery County.

Our County’s educated workforce, high-quality school system, multi-modal transportation options, broadband network infrastructure, inclusive values and outstanding quality of life makes our community an ideal location for companies that are looking to expand. The Council has also made regulatory changes necessary to support large-scale businesses headquarters locating in our community.

The Council greatly appreciates the work of County Executive Isiah Leggett, Governor Larry Hogan and the entire economic development team for their continued efforts in promoting the bright future of Montgomery County.

We also congratulate JBG Smith which is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland and owns much of the property located in Crystal City.”

Statement by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett On Theft Charges Filed Against Former County Employee

“Today, the United States’ Attorney for Maryland and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney announced tax evasion and theft and public corruption charges against a former County employee, Peter Bang. Mr. Bang has entered a guilty plea to these charges.

“The County has cooperated fully with the Internal Revenue Service, the United States’ Attorney, and the State’s Attorney in their investigations. We also have worked closely on the matter with the County’s independent Inspector General, and the County has retained two independent auditing firms to review the County’s system of management and control as well as past transactions in which Mr. Bang had been involved.

In April 2017, the IRS alerted the County that Mr. Bang may have embezzled County funds. As a result, the County undertook its own investigation. Once it became clear that there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Bang had embezzled County funds, the matter was referred to the State’s Attorney. Because of the ongoing federal and state investigations we were required to remain silent – until now.

“Stealing money from County taxpayers is one of the worst things that any public employee can engage in. That’s exactly what this individual has done.

“Peter Bang’s employment with the County was terminated on June 12, 2017.

“Peter Bang was a career County employee. He began working for the County as a merit-protected employee on February 24, 1997 – more than 21 years ago. Beginning in July 2010 until April of 2016, Peter Bang used his position in the County Department of Economic Development, which was privatized in 2016, to divert more than $6.7 million in County monies to his private uses. He established a dummy corporation under his control, submitted fraudulent invoices payable to that entity, and then withdrew funds from that corporation.

“Bang took advantage of the fact that Economic Development funds are exempt – under County policy - from the County’s usual procurement oversight procedures, an exemption designed to give the former Department of Economic Development more flexibility in creating and attracting new jobs and investment. That put more responsibility on the Department of Economic Development itself for oversight. Mr. Bang was able to exploit his past reputation as a highly effective employee and his knowledge of established County procedures.

“Investigations to date have indicated that Mr. Bang acted alone in perpetrating these crimes. The County retained an independent forensic auditing firm on November 28, 2017 to review the transactions engaged in by the former County Department of Economic Development going back 10 years.

“As a result of this theft, I initiated a process to fully address the factors that allowed the individual to evade the normal controls and processes that exist to prevent fraud and abuse in County programs and to strengthen those controls and processes.

“This robust program includes the following actions already taken:

Strengthened segregation of duties within each department by requiring that separate persons authorize the transaction, receive the services, and process the invoice.

Ensured that all agreements ‘exempt’ from the procurement regulations will be subject to a new review process by representatives of the County Attorney and the Department of Finance.

Requiring, for exempt transactions, sufficient information supporting the basis for procurement exemption, and that sufficient additional documentation supporting payments previously subject only to departmental review now be subject to centralized scrutiny.”

Centralized and improved controls and restricted systems over the held check process to require department director level authorization to pick up checks.

Curtailed the practice of accepting vendor information directly from departments and implemented additional controls and authorizations to register vendors on an exception basis.

Increased oversight over payment processing.

Implemented automated forensic review of disbursements prior to payments being issued as a means to detect questionable payments.

Establishing a new “Compliance Unit” within the Department of Finance to review and approve department requests to enter into procurement exempt transactions, ensure that those direct purchase orders have appropriate support, expand and enhance post-payment audits to ensure payments were properly supported and authorized, and analyze tests run by forensic software designed to detect irregular payment transactions.

Trained all County managers concerning their responsibilities to ensure effective internal controls and management oversight of financial transactions, including the importance of appropriate segregation of duties, identification of potential “red flags” of employee fraud and misappropriation of funds, and what to do if such allegations or issues are identified or brought forward as allegations by other employees.

Strengthening its oversight and management of the business incubator program by contracting through procurement with a contractor with industry expertise to perform property and portfolio management of the Silver Spring Innovation Center and will have a property management contract in place by December 1, 2018 for the Rockville and Germantown Innovation Centers while directly overseeing the financial operations of the Rockville and Germantown Innovation Centers. “As to recovering the stolen monies, the County, working with the federal and state authorities, will use all means at our disposal. Loss insurance held by the County will replace some of the money. We are aggressively looking for the balance in any other accounts or properties held by Mr. Bang."

Leggett Held Farewell Reception to Say Thank You to County Employees


Hundreds of employees came out to say goodbye to County Executive Ike Leggett at a reception on Wed. Nov. 14. Leggett, who has served three terms as County Executive, will leave office on Monday, Dec. 3.

Elected in 2006, Leggett served as the highest-ranked elected official in County government, overseeing the executive branch for 12 years. Leggett described his service to Montgomery County as the highlight of his career. He stated that he plans to retire knowing the County is in good hands with staff who will continue to work hard. Leggett’s wife, Catherine led the audience in a rousing “hip hip hooray and thank you” cheer to end the celebration.

Gift Outside the Box for a Greener Holiday Season


Gift giving that reduces waste, supports local businesses and encourages volunteerism are themes for this year’s Gift Outside the Box campaign. The campaign led by the County’s Department of Environmental Protection will highlight unique and environmentally-friendly gifts and actions through advertisements and digital engagement throughout the holiday season.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the amount of U.S. household waste increases an average of 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Wrapping paper, decorations, packaging and leftover food (and sometimes even the gifts we buy), often don’t last long and end up in the waste stream.

Gift Outside the Box focuses on five themes that encourage thinking differently about how to buy gifts, as well as, how to wrap those gifts.

The themes are:
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: Reduce waste by buying gifts made from recycled or reused materials — and minimize waste by buying recycled wrapping paper or skip the traditional wrapping.
  • Gift Greener: Help the environment by thinking green in how you buy and what you buy.
  • Give Back: Instead of a traditional gift, donate to charity or spend time with friends and family by volunteering together.
  • Gift Experiences: From theater tickets to Montgomery Recreation classes and lessons, be inspired to give activities such as fun and bonding experiences. 
  • Buy Local: Support County businesses and purchase locally-made products. 
Visit the website to learn more about gift giving that benefits the local economy and the environment.

Celebrate the Holidays with Montgomery County Recreation

Montgomery County Recreation is hosting a variety of family fun events this holiday season.

From a free holiday craft show (no registration required) to a holiday puppet show to a holiday concert and so much more, you will find something festive to enjoy with your family and friends.

Register for these holiday events at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org and don’t forget to check out the latest issue of the Montgomery County Guide for activities, classes and programs to keep you active and engaged this winter season.

Inauguration Celebration 2018


Get out your dancing shoes! The 33rd annual Montgomery County Executive’s Ball is set for Monday, Dec. 3. The event will be held at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center located at 5701 Marinelli Road in North Bethesda.

The theme is “Inauguration Celebration 2018,” as this is the first Ball for the new County Executive and several new County Councilmembers.

Individual tickets are $150, and proceeds support local arts in education programs to provide cultural and learning opportunities for youth throughout Montgomery County. The 2017 Executive’s Ball raised more than $300,000 for dozens of arts and humanities organizations in the County.

For more information about this year’s event, visit the Ball’s website.

A Holiday Tradition: Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens


Make a date to visit the dazzling Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens this holiday season.

This annual walk-through light show is celebrating its 20th season and features more than one million colorful LED lights. The light show highlights the natural elements with hand-crafted forms of trees and animals that are unique to Brookside Gardens. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. Since 1997, the Garden of Lights has been a family holiday tradition.

From now thru Jan. 1, 2019, the Garden of Lights is open every night except Nov. 19 through 22, and Dec. 24 and 25.

For more information about the hours of operation and admission, visit the Montgomery Parks website.

Winter Wonderland Warms up the Season

The Bethesda Urban Partnership starts the holiday season with Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. The free celebration features holiday performances, a live ice sculpting presentation and a visit from Santa Claus in Veterans Park, located at the corner of Norfolk and Woodmont Avenues.

Blocks of ice will be transformed into wintery works of art during the live ice sculpting presentation followed by choral performances from local school groups. Santa Claus will visit the park and holiday treats and crafts will be provided to children.

For more information on Winter Wonderland visit www.bethesda.org.