Doc Drop: Read the Mt. Rainier parking meter revenue emails

Mount Rainier city officials are investigating financial irregularities within the Mount Rainier Police Department. At least one aspect of that investigation focuses on a sudden 2017 decline in the city’s parking meter revenue collection rate. Route 1 Reporter produced a report diving into those parking meter funds – they literally are coins – using emails obtained through Maryland’s Public Information Act. You can read those emails below. For the full context, check out our in-depth report on Mount Rainier’s parking meter revenue funds here.

Investigators eye big drop in Mt. Rainier meter money

Parking meter revenue collections fell off a cliff in Mount Rainier in 2017 and into 2018. Pictured above: Michael Scott, former chief of police of the Mount Rainier Police Department, at right. Victor Kenworthy, Mount Rainier senior patrol officer and president of the Mount Rainier Fraternal Order of Police, the city’s police union, stands on the left. This sudden drop in parking meter coin collections is one aspect of an internal investigation into the finances of the Mount Rainier Police Department. Email correspondence between Mount Rainier city officials, obtained by Route 1 Reporter, shows just how dramatically the city’s parking meter revenue collections dropped in recent years, as well as steps city officials took to rectify the issue once the anomaly was discovered.

Werrlein changes WSSC rezoning approach

Werrlein Properties is changing tack on a proposed rezoning that would allow an abandoned Hyattsville office building and parking lot to be redeveloped into homes. Pictured above: A rendering of townhomes proposed to be built on a parking lot that’s part of the long-abandoned WSSC offices in Central Hyattsville. Illustration courtesy Werrlein Properties and the City of Hyattsville. Now, the developer is asking Prince George’s County planning officials to rezone both the Hamilton Street office building and its parking lot near Magruder Park as mixed-use-infill, or MUI zoning. Presently, the office building – once home to the headquarters of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission – sits on the upper lot.

Mount Rainier police officer dies

Cody Laughran, a police officer with the Mount Rainier Police Department, died this past weekend. Laughran was 25. According to a statement from the city of Mount Rainier, he died at his home in Columbia Sunday morning. He was not on duty at the time. The cause of death has not been confirmed, the announcement said. Howard County police said Monday there were no suspicious circumstances or indications of foul play in Laughran’s death.

Mt. Rainier Mayor says MRPD allegations not “corroborated”

Mount Rainier Mayor Malinda Miles said allegations relating to investigations of the Mount Rainier Police Department have not been “corroborated” to her satisfaction. Miles issued this statement in the July edition of The Message, Mount Rainier’s municipal newsletter. Released late June 2018, Copies of the newsletter were circulated June 29 on social media by Mount Rainier’s Ward Two Councilor Celina Benitez. Copies of The Message have not been posted to the city’s website since January 2017. The brief 69-word statement reads in full:

“As most are aware, several city officers are under investigation (parking tickets, their handling and reporting; sexual misconduct).

Monday Map: P.G. Council district seat primary results

If you want to make sense of how Prince George’s County Council’s primary election shook out for district seats, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve created a choropleth map, embedded below, that charts out the relative performance of the winners of Prince George’s County Council district seats (but, importantly, not the two at-large County Council races) in each of the county’s voting precincts. Each County Council district seat is shaded along an individual gradient of color indicating how the overall winners performed in each precinct. Darker colors indicate a larger share of the precinct-level vote totals. Clicking within a given precinct reveals an infobox breaking down the election result in that precinct.

College Park commercial rent gap widens

A gap in commercial leasing rates expanded in College Park from 2016 to 2017 as the city’s most-expensive areas saw rates rise while rates the city’s least-expensive areas fell. Pictured Above: A commercial strip in Hollywood. Commercial leasing rates there and in two other College Park neighborhoods dropped in 2017. According to data presented recently to College Park City Council by Ryan Chelton, the city’s economic development coordinator, commercial leasing rates along Baltimore Avenue south of Greenbelt Road – with the exception of the Berwyn neighborhood – rose from 2016 to 2017. In the downtown area, commercial rates rose from $27.78 in 2016 to $28.44 in 2017.

Brentwood liquor license hearing delayed

The Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners has postponed consideration of a liquor license application for a planned bar and restaurant in Brentwood. Pictured above: Hyattsville bakery owner and restaurateur April Richardson speaks before Brentwood Town Council at a June 2018 meeting. The restaurant is called Savor (though on its liquor license application it is identified by the venture’s preliminary name “The Eats at 3807”). April Richardson, principal of Hyattsville-based bakery Food Opportunities LLC and its DC Sweet Potato Cake subsidiary brand, plans to open Savor for business by October in a roughly 6,500-square-foot restaurant space built into the soon-to-be completed Studio 3807 mixed-use apartment complex at 3807 Rhode Island Ave. in Brentwood.

Alsobrooks rises; Hollingsworth loses nail-biter; Baker ‘Jealous’ in Gov. Race

Barring a major upset, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks will be Prince George’s County’s next chief executive. Pictured above: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker at a 2018 Memorial Day event in Bladensburg. Alsobrooks ran away with the Democratic primary election for Prince George’s County Executive, securing nearly 62 percent of the vote in a nine-way campaign. Her only real serious contender throughout the campaign was Donna Edwards, former congressional representative for Maryland’s Fourth District. Edwards could only muster 24 percent of County primary voters to her cause by the time polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday evening, one-hour later than normal due to extended voting hours imposed after several Baltimore polling places opened later than expected.

Photo by Michael Theis/Route 1 Reporter

Renovations begin for Hyattsville affordable housing complex

A recently-completed refinancing of a Hyattsville affordable housing complex now paves the way for significant renovations to the property. The property in question is the Parkview Manor apartment complex next to Magruder Park at 5042 38th Ave. in southern Hyattsville. The property is owned by the Silver Spring-based Montgomery Housing Partnership. As part of $3.4 million refinancing deal to fund renovations to the property, MHP formed a subsidiary, MHP Parkview Manor LLC to manage the property.