All Articles Tagged "montgomery county"

Montgomery County Will Raise Minimum Wage To $11.50 by 2017

December 1st, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Montgomery County, MD, one of the most affluent counties in America, has voted to increase the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017; this is $4.25 higher than the current federal wage minimum, The Washington Post reports. Many areas are reconsidering the minimum wage in their locale given the persistent faced by low-wage workers. This troubling story appeared in The New York Times this weekend.

After four hours of intense and heated debate on Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council emerged with an 8-to-1 vote in favor of increasing the minimum wage by 59 percent over the course of four years. On Oct. 1 in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the rate will be increased to $8.40, $9.55, $10.75, and $11.50, respectively.

The slow, gradual increase in the county’s minimum wage stemmed from concerns that the hourly rate “was being raised too high and too fast,” The Washington Post adds.

“The final bill we passed today isn’t perfect, but it is meaningful and important. Our residents will see a real and significant increase in the money they earn for their hard day’s labor,” said Marc Elrich (D-At Large). At $11.50 an hour, workers will make $23,600 a year — still well below the cost of living in Montgomery County, but a significant leap in income.

According to ABC7/WJLA, the new minimum wage bill came with seven new amendments, including: Employers are required to pay tipped workers a rate equal to 50 percent of the state’s minimum wage; they should also make up for “any shortfall in tips up to the county minimum wage;” workers under the age of 19 — who work less than 20 hours a week — are exempt from the wage hike; and an anti-retaliation clause will be added.

For the low-income workers who rallied against the council members prior to Tuesday’s vote, the wage increase comes at a relief. “We can’t even support ourselves. We need this, it’s so important for so many of us,” said housekeeper Charlotte Samen, an immigrant from Cameroon who earns $1,000 a month.

Local businesses, on the other hand, are disquieted by the new law. “Last year I had $700,000 in sales, which may sound like a lot until you see I had $800,000 in expenditures, and that was before this vote,” said Bob Daly, co-owner of the California Tortilla restaurant in the county.

Daly pays his employees between kitchen employees between $8 and $8.50 an hour. “This will definitely hurt us big time. I can tell you I will not open another business in Montgomery County ever again,” he added.

Councilman Phil Andrews (D) sympathizes with Daly — he was the only member who submitted a “no” vote. “I am disappointed that the county council has rushed ahead and unnecessarily adopted a minimum wage bill that is so flawed,” he said.

Council member Eric Olson (D-College Park) explained that the bill was needed to provide financial security for the county’s struggling residents. “The objective here is to improve the economic conditions of our lowest-paid workers, and this would improve the situation. Legislation sometimes is about compromises,” he explained.

5-Year-Old Girl with Cerebral Palsy Told Walker is Unsafe for School

March 27th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Lakay Roberts has been using a walker at New Caney Independent School in Montgomery County, Texas, for the past two years. The 5-year-old has cerebral palsy and needs the device to move around, but after falling in the parking lot because her walker collapsed, the school has said the walker is “unsafe” and she can’t use it in school.

Lakay’s mother, Kristi Roberts, plans to file a suit against the school for denying her daughter use of a device she obviously needs. She likened the incident to a student falling on the playground during a conversation with Kings Manor Elementary School special education director Gary Lemley, and asked whether he asks students who fall during recess to take their shoes off and buy new ones. Lemley responded,

“No, m’am, they’re not using walkers.

“Basically she can’t use the walker because we don’t think it’s safe,” Lemley told her. When Lakay’s mother asks why it isn’t safe, he responded, “I just told you. We don’t feel it’s safe any longer.”

Unless Lakay’s walker has proven to be faulty, this seems like a ridiculous ban. Support for Lakay has been growing strong as word of this situation has spread. Elise Hough, CEO of special needs nonprofit Easter Seals Houston, told KPRC-TV the school district has an obligation to provide a safe school environment for Lakay and other students.

“You don’t tell somebody you trip on your feet so chop ‘em off to come to school, you’re safer in a wheelchair,” she said. “For a person with a disability, their assistive technology is like an extension of their body.”

Kristi hopes filing a lawsuit will get the results she’s seeking and that her daughter needs.

“I want Gary Lemley to resign. I’d like an apology, and I would like her to use her walker again and get things changed in the special education department,” she said.

So far, Lakay’s school hasn’t commented on the details of their decision, instead they’ve defending themselves against the recording of the conversation between Kristi and Greg Lemley.

“It is important to know that the video and audio recording at issue was not sanctioned or authorized by the District to be released for public dissemination,” they said in a statement. “Furthermore, the District does not agree that the recording at issue here is a complete recounting of the entire underlying confidential discussion and is therefore neither representative nor accurate towards explaining the District’s ongoing efforts to serve its students.”

They’re going to have to do better than that.

What do you think about this case? Should the special education director resign?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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African American Women Lawyers Make History In Pennsylvania

March 16th, 2012 - By Charlotte Young
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Cheryl L. Austin and Keir Bradford-Grey are two hardworking African American women lawyers dedicated to bringing justice to the people they serve every day. Now, they are both making history in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County judicial system. Philly.com reports that Austin, a former prosecutor in Montgomery County, is now the first African American woman to serve as a judge in Montgomery County’s Court of Common Pleas while Bradford-Grey will be the first African American woman lead the county’s Public Defender’s Office.

“It’s an honor, and I have a huge sense of pride and responsibility,” Bradford-Grey, told Philly.com. The Philadelphia resident previously represented defendants who could not afford a layer in Philadelphia and Delaware. Now she supervises a staff of 45 full and part-time lawyers.

Television legal dramas first sparked her interested in studying law. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Albany State University in Georgia. She attended Ohio Northwestern University’s law school and traveled the country in mock-trial competitions.

Austin took a different journey to legal stardom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications and didn’t decide to go to law-school until 36.

“I looked at my life and said if I go to law school I will be 40 by the time I graduate,” Austin said to Philly.com. “I thought, God willing, I’ll be 40 anyway. I might as well have a law degree.”

After obtaining her degree, Austin eventually became a prosecutor. She lost a bid for her current position in 2009 but kept pushing until she was finally able to reach her goal.

“I’m embracing it,” she said. “I want young people to see me. I want them to see it’s possible – not easy – but possible.”

Both women take on their new challenges with pride and a six figure salary.

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, notes that “while it is an achievement because they are African American, what is most notable is that they are exceptionally qualified for the positions they hold.”

A Color-Blind Montgomery County is Still a Myth

August 10th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Greater Greater Washington) — For years, Montgomery County has been proud of its liberal politics. Now that we’re a majority-minority jurisdiction, we actually have to show our progressive values. After all, it’s easy to be open-minded when the only minorities you see are the token black family on your cul-de-sac. It’s harder when your kids go to a school that’s 25% white and the signs in your neighborhood are all in Amharic or Spanish.  Some people are comfortable with that. The rest struggle each day to negotiate a world that doesn’t look like it did just twenty years ago, unsure how to respond. Usually, they go with fear. And that can make even the most staunch liberal consider things normally offensive to their principles. Like trusting that police can pick out “bad” kids on a busy downtown street, even before anyone’s done anything illegal, and not wrongfully accuse someone based on vaguely-defined characteristics.

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3.6 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes D.C.

July 16th, 2010 - By madamenoire
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Residents in the Washington, DC were shaken up early this morning to 3.6 magnitude earthquake that was based in nearby Montgomery County. Authorities are still investigating the earthquake that started at 5:04 am, but it’s possible that it was linked to a natural gas leak at a maintenance depot in the Gaithersburg-Rockville area. Luckily there has been no reported damage and didn’t even disturb the morning traffic rush.

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Montgomery Still Hiring, Despite Freeze

March 14th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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