Reporter’s Notebook: Just don’t expect waiter service on the subway -- Gazette.Net







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For years, Forbes has cranked out lists detailing the so-called “best” places to live in retirement. Some are based on value, others on places such as suburbs or inner-city neighborhoods. This week, Forbes released a list of the “25 Top Places to Retire Rich” for people who, as the magazine puts it, “want a certain high-end retirement lifestyle, regardless of expense.”

Nestled among obvious picks like Honolulu, Palm Beach and Kiawah Island is a local one: Chevy Chase Village.

Forbes notes that the median household income of the one-square-mile borough is $250,000 — higher than most on the list — and the average home price is $1.3 million. A key draw for residents like columnist George Will, according to the mag, is that the “rich cultural amenities of the nation’s capital are just a few minutes away by car, cab or subway.”

Idle question: How many such wealthy retirees take the subway to D.C.? At least they would avoid those speed cameras in Chevy Chase Village — not that retirees actually speed.

— Kevin James Shay

Rain tax debate ahead

A Montgomery County bill that would extend the stormwater pollution-control fee to most businesses and nonprofits — dubbed by some a “rain tax” — is expected to be taken up by the council this month. A public hearing to consider a reduction in the rates residents pay is slated for April 23.

The expansion of the “water quality protection charge” — which is now mostly paid by residential property owners — to commercial businesses and nonresidential property owners would be based on the amount of “impervious surface” they have. Some commercial property owners now are paying the fee through various regulations, but about 60 percent do not.

The County Council plans to consider exemptions to the fee and phasing it in throughout several years. Council members have been getting a lot of emails about a proposed new fee structure, particularly from nonprofits and churches concerned about the potential of thousands of dollars for the fee.

Frederick County officials unsuccessfully tried to get commercial taxpayers exempt through state bills that were killed in committees this session.

— Kevin James Shay

Sweet dreams

House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell was inquiring about budget procedures on Monday, when he began to mention Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“We received on our desks, today, the supplemental budget from the chief executive of the Uni — of the state,” O’Donnell broke off, but the damage was done.

Giggles erupted from the floor.

“Yeah, that was a manifestation of a nightmare I had,” O’Donnell said.

We’re not sure whether he was referring to the widespread belief that O’Malley wants to be chief executive of the United States, or possibly the universe.

— Holly Nunn

It’s not shellfish

And now, an update on what is certainly one of the most high-profile bills on the agenda during the 2013 General Assembly session: that addressing the matter of the official state sandwich.

The august body of the Maryland State Senate passed a bill Monday that would designate the soft-shell crab sandwich as the official state sandwich, joining the leggy lunch with other state “officials” like milk (official state drink), jousting (official state sport) and walking (official state exercise).

The bill is now in the House of Delegates, where it is uncertain whether it will get a vote before session ends next Monday. We’ve heard that chamber is partial to crab cake sandwiches.

— Holly Nunn

Target: Montgomery

During the hours-long debate over Gov. Martin O’Malley’s far-reaching gun control bill Tuesday, Republicans and others opposed to the proposal were getting a little frustrated.

After offering about a dozen amendments to the bill, and questioning on the floor whether Democrats had been told to refuse all amendments regardless of merit, some members of the minority party aimed their frustrations at a certain delegation.

One such outburst came after the rejection of an amendment that would have allowed local school systems to decide whether to allow off-duty police officers to carry guns onto school grounds.

Asking what it would take to pass a good amendment, Republican Del. Mike McDermott, a vocal member of the bill’s opposing team, yelled, “Montgomery County, let my people go!”

Perhaps feeling a little slap-happy after the long day of debate, the chamber burst out in general mirth, including the Montgomery County section of the room.

— Holly Nunn