About Councilmember Navarro

I serve as the Council Vice-President and the Montgomery County Councilmember representing District 4. I am the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and also serve on the Health and Human Services Committee.

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October 21, 2010

Montgomery Organizational Reform Commission to Hold Public Forum

FOR INFORMATION:  Justina Ferber 240-777-7938 / Neil H. Greenberger 240-777-7939

Montgomery Organizational Reform Commission
to Hold Public Forum
TONIGHT, Wed., Oct. 20, Residents Can Offer Suggestions
 On Consolidating / Reorganizing County Government

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 20, 2010—The Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission, which was appointed by the Montgomery County Council and the County Executive, at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Wednesday, Oct. 20, will ask the public for its opinions on restructuring the current organization of County Government and County-funded agencies.

The eight-member commission, which was named in July, was created at the urging of Councilmember Roger Berliner and County Executive Isiah Leggett. It is composed of County residents who are experienced in government, business and non-profit service delivery. The volunteer commission, which is scheduled to provide recommendations to the Council and the Executive by Jan. 31, has been gathering information in its initial phase in order to provide the County Council with a status report, which was delivered on Sept. 30. 

The commission will ask residents to help fulfill its mission by holding a public forum in the Third Floor Hearing Room of Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. Residents can sign up in advance to speak by calling 240-777-7814 or 240-777-7938. If time allows, speakers who do not sign up in advance will also be able to offer suggestions. The commission said that items in writing will be most helpful.

Since starting its work, the commission has been soliciting ideas and suggestions for potential reorganization or consolidation from elected officials; residents; business and community leaders; County and agency employees; bargaining unit representatives; and other stakeholders. 

The commission will draft and adopt written criteria to evaluate which suggestions merit further consideration by the commission.  The criteria must include a minimum level of potential cost savings; a standard for ease of implementation; and a measure of acceptable service level impact.

The Council appointees to the commission are Scott Fosler of Chevy Chase, who has served as president of the National Academy of Public Administration and is a former County Councilmember; Daniel Hoffman of Rockville, who for the past nine years has experience managing organization transformation and business process re-engineering as a senior associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Washington Federal Practice; Vernon H. Ricks, Jr., of Potomac,  a former Takoma Park City Councilmember who has served on the boards of directors of Maryland Municipal League and the National League of Cities and a former executive with Xerox Corporation; and Len Simon of Bethesda, the president of the Edgemoor Citizens Association and an employee of the Washington-based firm Simon and Company that assists local governments in federal affairs.

County Executive Leggett’s appointees to the commission are M. Cristina Echavarren of Chevy Chase, an executive with a non-profit organization who is experienced in modernizing budget and accounting processes; Joan Fidler of Bethesda, the president of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League; Susan Heltemes of Silver Spring, who has led and managed teams for nationally recognized research firm Westat; and Richard Wegman of Bethesda, the former chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Governmental Affairs and former chair of the County Executive’s Green Economy Task Force.

The commission was directed to submit a status/progress report to the Council and the Executive outlining its progress to date and its future work plan. The commission must submit its final report to the Executive and Council no later than Jan 31.

Many of the best ideas come from County residents, so I’m glad the Organizational Reform Commission is holding this public forum,” said Council President Nancy Floreen. “We are looking at a very constrained budget in the next year, and we expect the commission will provide us with smart alternatives to achieve efficiency while minimizing impacts to service.  I encourage anyone with a good idea to share it with the commission.

The final report must contain the commission’s recommendations to reorganize or consolidate functions performed by County government or County-funded agencies.  For each recommendation for reorganization or consolidation, the commission’s report must include the rationale and estimated cost savings associated with implementing the recommendation. Any organizational proposal for County government in the commission report must take the form of a reorganization plan that the Executive could submit to the Council under Charter §217.
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Halloween Safety Reminders

Halloween Safety Reminders from the Montgomery County Police Department: 

As families in Montgomery County are making their plans for Halloween observances, the Montgomery County Police Department would like to offer the following important safety reminders. Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger strongly recommends that each family take time to review basic safety tips with their children and encourage their use. Minimizing safety risks will help ensure a Happy Halloween for everyone.

1. The most important safety tip is to “trick-or-treat” only in neighborhoods and at homes known to your family. It is never advisable to take children to an unknown community, apartment complex, or townhouse development simply because there are not a lot of homes in your community and you want to provide a greater trick or treating experience for your child.

2. A parent, other familiar adult, or responsible older brother or sister should always accompany younger children.

3. Older children should plan out a trick-or-treating route with their parents, wear a watch, and return home at an agreed upon time. They could carry a mobile phone to stay in contact.

4. Children should never approach a home without lights, nor is it advisable to take candy that has been left in a container outside a home.

5. Children should not eat any collected candy until an adult has inspected it.

6. Any unwrapped or partially wrapped candy should be thrown away.

7. Make sure your yard is clear of items such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes, and flower pots that could trip young children.

8. Battery powered jack-o’-lantern candles are preferable to using a real flame.

9. If you do use candles, place the pumpkins well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.

10. Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won’t be blown into a burning candle.

Children should carry a flashlight when trick or treating. They should walk on sidewalks where available, and cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk. Walk on the left side of the road facing traffic if there are no sidewalks. When crossing: look left, right, and left again before going out into the street.

Other general safety tips include wearing flame-retardant, brightly-colored, or reflective costumes of a length that won’t cause tripping. Face make-up is preferable to wearing a mask, but if a child is wearing a mask it should not impair the child’s vision.

Motorists are advised to drive slower and with extra caution through neighborhoods on Halloween. Watch for children in the street and on medians, and exit driveways and alleyways carefully.

Halloween falls on Sunday this year which means there may be more Halloween parties throughout the weekend. Any adults attending a party where alcohol is being served should utilize a designated driver, or take other measures to prevent drinking and driving. Parents of teens should take responsibility to make certain that alcohol is not available at teen Halloween parties.

Following these common sense practices adds an extra measure of safety for those families who would like to allow their children to trick or treat, and for those teens and adults who may be enjoying Halloween parties.

There are also good safety tips provided by area Humane Societies/Animal Shelters for families with pets:

• Keep pets inside. Pets, especially cats, can be vulnerable targets for pranksters on Halloween night. Keep them safe indoors to avoid possible trouble.

• More chocolate is sold on Halloween than at any other time of year. Be sure to keep pets away from candy bowls to avoid accidental ingestion of chocolate, which is harmful to dogs and cats. Also beware of candy wrappers, which can be hazardous if swallowed.

• Beware of jack-o’-lanterns lighted with candles - a wagging tail can easily knock them over and cause a fire hazard. Or a curious kitty can get his paws or nose burned by the flame. Use a safety glowstick or flashlight instead.

• Keep your pet safe in his own room during trick or treat time. A quick dog or cat can dart out a door that is opening and closing often. Also, the sight of strangely dressed people at the door can be very stressful for pets.

• Only dress up your pet if he is receptive to it. Don't cause undue stress on your furry friend. Use treat training to help your pet get used to his costume, but if he doesn't seem happy, take it off.

• Masks are never a good idea for pets. Masks can cut off peripheral vision, making a dog or cat nervous about its surroundings. Even the best behaved dog or cat can get nippy when he can't see what's coming from the side.

• Make sure your pet's costume fits properly, and does not constrict breathing or movement. Just as with a collar, make sure you can fit two fingers in between the costume and your pet's neck.

• Inspect the costume and remove any small or dangling pieces that could become a choking hazard.

• Don't forget to ID your pet! Shelters are always busy around holidays with pets that have wandered away from home. An ID tag or microchip helps identify your pet so he can be returned home if he gets lost.

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