Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 26 council meeting: Police report, farewell to Brian Kenner, and the WAH resolution

I introduced key topics for Monday evening's council meeting in last week's write-up so what I have to offer now are updates of those items I covered then:

- The city purchased the Washington-McLaughlin Christian School wooded lot for a winning tax-auction bid of $253,000. We had at our disposal the commitment of up to $114,000 in funds donated by residents, some of which we'll likely use. The city will have to clear liens before we can gain clear title so the total cost will likely exceed our initial cash outlay. I'll post more information, including regarding plans for the property, when available.

- The council will host a farewell reception for departing City Manager Brian Kenner, at 7 pm in the community center atrium. Please join us in thanking Brian for his Takoma Park service and wishing him well in his new position, Washington DC deputy mayor for planning and economic development.

The council is appointing Deputy City Manager Suzanne Ludlow acting city manager while we conduct a search for a new city manager.


- The police department will present its annual report at 8 pm. See a preliminary stats presentation. The stats cover crimes by ward and trends over the last several years. I've asked Police Chief Alan Goldberg to cover clearance rates as well, the proportion of crimes that result in an arrest or administrative or other closure.

I also asked the chief for stats on our license plate reader data: The number of records collected monthly since August 2014, the first month the TPPD was authorized to share LPR data with the state fusion center; the number of TPPD requests to the fusion center and the number of closures that resulted from those requests; the number of non-Takoma Park requests to the fusion center for Takoma Park records; and anything else related that's of interest.

- The council will discuss and then vote on a resolution regarding comment on the Certificate of Need (CON) application filed by Washington Adventist Hospital for proposed relocation to White Oak. Our resolution will cover a Freestanding [Emergency] Medical Facility; on this point and others, it is highly likely that the resolution will be stronger than the draft you will find online. Hospital president Erik Wangsness presented at last week's council meeting and we heard public testimony in a public hearing that followed.

At 00:19:42 in the video that you will find online, Mr. Wangsness states, "Once regulations are developed -- once the new rules are in place -- our commitment is to evaluate those rules for feasibility of stand-alone emergency department services on the Takoma Park campus." Mr. Wangsness is referring to rules slated to be published by the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), which evaluates CON applications. MHCC is likely to publish those rules by the July 1, 2015 end of a 2010 legislatively imposed moratorium on new Maryland Freestanding Medicial [Emergency] Facilities. Be assured that we will energetically pursue residents' and councilmembers' desire to see a free-standing ER created here.

Finally, a new topic:

The council will hold its second 2015 retreat this Wednesday, January 28, starting at 6 pm at Montgomery College, in Room ST302 of the Student Services Center. You are welcome to attend and observe this session.

The city will likely face significant revenue challenges in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2015. I will plan to post more on this topic to keep you informed and invite your comment on our choices.

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