Guest Host: Tom Sherwood

D.C.’s mayoral candidates lock horns in a high-profile broadcast debate, as new poll numbers show one challenger gaining ground on the incumbent. Maryland lawmakers tangle over everything from marijuana to dog attacks. And Virginia’s General Assembly sprints to the finish line, with the possibility of a government shutdown looming over Richmond. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Guests

  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
  • Matt Bush Maryland Reporter, WAMU, 88.5
  • Kenneth Ellerbe Chief, D.C. Fire and EMS Department (FEMS)
  • Phil Andrews Democratic Candidate, Executive Montgomery County; Member, Montgomery County Council (D - District 3)

Watch A Featured Clip

Chief Kenneth Ellerbe discussed employee and infrastructure changes at the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. The chief has come under scrutiny recently after an elderly man died after collapsing near a firehouse last month. Ellerbe discussed a program to hire new cadets and paramedics and increase the department’s fleet, saying the department is moving forward under a new “climate of change.” In response to questions about his plans to retire, Ellerbe said, “My intention is to see these changes through. I have no intention of quitting.”

Transcript

  • 12:06:40

    MR. TOM SHERWOODFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University, in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour." I'm Tom Sherwood from NBC 4, sitting in for Kojo. And sitting in for me is reporter Matt Bush, from WAMU radio. Welcome, Matt.

  • 12:07:03

    MR. MATT BUSHThank you for having me back, Tom. I would thank Kojo's producers for having me back, too, after my disastrous last time when I picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. So they brought me back after being so wrong.

  • 12:07:11

    SHERWOODWell, we won't make you do any predictions today.

  • 12:07:13

    BUSHI'm done predicting. My Jimmy the Greek days are done.

  • 12:07:16

    SHERWOODWell, that's good. This is a big week here at WAMU. We had all the candidates for mayor of the District of Columbia, all eight of them, Mayor Gray and the seven challengers, in for a two-hour forum. I must say, as much as I love politics, I wasn't sure we could do two hours, but we did.

  • 12:07:31

    BUSHProbably flew through with eight people getting about each thing. Two hours went very quickly. It was a total success. I listened to it and it was absolutely terrific. All the questions from you and Patrick and Kavitha and Kojo -- it was smoothly done. It was how something like that should be. It was live radio at its best.

  • 12:07:49

    SHERWOODYou know a lot of people don't quite realize it because we have the earliest primary ever for mayor. It's April 1st. And I keep telling my editors and other people around that voting actually starts March 17th. Seventeen days away. On Monday, March 17th, people can actually go down to the Board of Elections office and vote for the first week. And there are going to be some early voting centers around the city for the next week, almost two weeks. So we could have a lot of votes cast before April 1st even gets here.

  • 12:08:17

    BUSHAnd early voting has become so popular, too. And especially I think with an earlier primary. I think more people might start early voting because it sneaks up on you so quickly, you want to be able to do it.

  • 12:08:29

    SHERWOODAnd the NBC 4/WAMU poll that was also out this week, showed that Mayor Gray has 28 percent in our poll. That 28 percent of the support, with Muriel Bowser, the Ward 4 councilmember at 20 percent. And all the other candidates are farther back. It looks pretty good for the mayor.

  • 12:08:47

    BUSHVery good. Still, though, still some questions regarding 2010 still. I don't think he can ever -- it really seems he's never going to be able to shake that. But he has the lead. In such a crowded field I think eight points seems bigger than eight, as just a number in such a crowded field.

  • 12:09:06

    SHERWOODI do know that Muriel Bowser and Jack Evans from Ward 2 have substantial campaign war chests. So I think we'll all be getting a great deal of mail in the next couple of weeks -- those people who live in the city. But that poll -- the good news for mayor was he's ahead. The bad news was that two-thirds of the voters said they really wanted someone else. So he's got a lot of work to do himself to stay ahead of everyone.

  • 12:09:32

    BUSHI think he's benefitting from the fact there are seven other people that he's facing because it's fragmenting his opposition, being that two-thirds of people want somebody else.

  • 12:09:42

    SHERWOODOkay. Let's bring in our guest because we're really glad to have him here today. Kenneth Ellerbe, he's the chief of the District of Columbia's Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services. Chief, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:09:52

    CHIEF KENNETH ELLERBEOh, Tom, thank you for having me.

  • 12:09:54

    SHERWOODI know there are a lot of things you'd rather me talk about first, but I want to go right to the new news this week. Paul Wagner, from WTTG Channel 5, reported on an internal report about the incident January 25th, on Rhode Island Avenue, where he said when the firefighters didn't respond to the man who had a heart attack or something and died, that the person there who was first approached by the people in a panic, didn't know what to do.

  • 12:10:22

    SHERWOODThat the report says this firefighter thought he had to ring a bell at night, but not during the day. And then the lieutenant didn't respond. What about this new report? It was not part of the public report that you and Deputy Mayor Paul Quander released about this incident. What can you tell us about that internal report?

  • 12:10:41

    ELLERBEWell, first I can say that it's an internal report. And a lot of the information in those reports will probably be used in terms of the due process that we have to go through, in terms of discipline for our employees. A lot of that information was not ready for public consumption because we want them to have a fair and impartial trial board. So we didn't want to jeopardize the opportunity for a fair and due process.

  • 12:11:05

    SHERWOODBut the report that you did release and that the Deputy Mayor Paul Quander released pretty well acknowledged that the Fire Department officers did not follow protocol.

  • 12:11:17

    ELLERBEWhat we did release was what was available to -- what we felt was available to the public without jeopardizing, again, the employee's opportunity for a fair trial board. And it's all factual. You know, we wanted to get all the facts or as many facts as we could out before the public to let them, A, we acknowledge that some failures occurred. And that we do have every intention of holding folks accountable and taking appropriate action.

  • 12:11:41

    SHERWOODNow, I understand later today the deputy mayor is going to comment on this report. Can you tell us in advance what he's going to say?

  • 12:11:47

    ELLERBENo. No. I think that he will address any questions. And I'd rather he do that than me speak for him.

  • 12:11:52

    SHERWOODAnd let me ask you directly, is there any additional reports, written reports, about that day's incident that have not yet been released?

  • 12:12:03

    ELLERBEThere…

  • 12:12:03

    SHERWOODOr is this the only one?

  • 12:12:05

    ELLERBEWe only had one internal report developed by our Internal Affairs Office. Information may come out after the trial boards are concluded, but, again, we don't want to do anything to jeopardize our employee's opportunity for a fair and due process.

  • 12:12:19

    BUSHI think there's…

  • 12:12:20

    SHERWOODMatt.

  • 12:12:21

    BUSH…reading the report -- that the perception of a firefighter not confident in his training and worried about something might happening to him, that's why he didn't go there. I mean, can you comment on that? The perception of this? People are probably going to find that very troubling and be frightened by that.

  • 12:12:36

    ELLERBEWell, what I will comment on is the fact that there were five employees in that fire station. And he was the youngest and newest member. We had employees ranging from him being brand new to folks with 28 years of service. So there definitely should have been a different response from that fire station.

  • 12:12:51

    BUSHAnd also in this…

  • 12:12:52

    SHERWOODExcuse me, Matt. We're talking to Chief Kenneth Ellerbe of the D.C. Fire Department. You can join the conversation by calling 1-800-433-8850 or you can email us kojo@wamu.org. Excuse me for interrupting. That was something I forgot to do.

  • 12:13:08

    ELLERBEYou know, I'm glad you brought that young man up, because we have been focused on hiring new employees -- 88 cadets. We've hired 20 paramedics, 18 of who are on the street now. And we've hired 19 returning war veterans. So we are focused on new employees. And sometimes when you have new employees you have to, you know, be more careful and you have to be more instructive with them. Now, if the employee says he was unsure -- he's a new employee. But he had other folks, he had help in that fire station. He had people who knew what they were supposed to do.

  • 12:13:39

    SHERWOODThe lieutenant knew what she was supposed to do (unintelligible) do it.

  • 12:13:45

    ELLERBEWell, you know, and that's challenge that we have, holding people accountable and making sure that they do what they're supposed to do. We're buying equipment. We've bought 30 ambulances from June through December. Something that folks didn't believe we could do. We're improving our infrastructure. We have made some tremendous strides in terms of purchasing apparatus, six new engines this year, two new trucks this year. We are doing everything we can to move the department forward. And we're creating a climate of change that I understand makes people uncomfortable.

  • 12:14:15

    SHERWOODBefore we go back to personnel and that, I really thought as a reporter -- you and the mayor did hold a press conference when the new ambulances started coming in. Your father was there. He was very proud to be there and see his son as the fire chief. That the equipment issues that had been dogging you for the last couple of years for sure -- broken-down equipment -- all that was starting to be settled. And I really thought, frankly, that you were going to, by the end of the year, announce that you were done for your second time around, that you were going to retire. You didn't do it.

  • 12:14:45

    ELLERBEWell, Tom, I'm sorry you felt that way. Quite frankly, my intention is to see these changes through. I have no intention of quitting. I was actually thanking the folks who had assisted us and helped us with moving the department forward. We have some tremendously wonderful initiatives, in terms of hiring new paramedics, improving our EMS service delivery, buying new equipment. We expose ourselves to scrutiny of the public and the media by asking outside contractor to come in and assess our fleet management system.

  • 12:15:15

    ELLERBEAnd we took it on the chin. But we took it with a grain of salt because we knew that we had some challenges and we knew that we had some dysfunction. But we've hired a new fleet manager, we've hired an assistant fleet manager. We're automating our faster system down there where we can work with our preventive maintenance programs. We're doing a lot of good things. And, you know, the resistance is still there, but we just met this morning with The Washington Post, and…

  • 12:15:39

    SHERWOODThe editorial page or the reporters?

  • 12:15:41

    ELLERBEOne of the reporters. And some of our newest paramedics, who have confirmed that we're moving the department in the right direction. I'm hopeful that when that Post article comes out that people will take a look at their fresh-eye view of what we're doing.

  • 12:15:55

    SHERWOODOkay. Another news event this week is Attorney General Eric Holder. Attorney General of the United States, former U.S. Attorney here. Longtime resident of the District of Columbia. His wife's a prominent doctor here. He had a healthcare incident yesterday and he was rushed to the hospital. Our sources say that there were no medic units available, no well-equipped ambulance to respond initially to the Justice Department.

  • 12:16:20

    SHERWOODSo a downgraded basic ambulance was dispatched, followed by a fire truck with medics on board. And then an EMS supervisor went to the scene once you realized it was Eric Holder. True or not?

  • 12:16:31

    ELLERBEI can tell you that the unit that transported the attorney general had one of our paramedic supervisors on board and he received the absolute best care on route to the hospital.

  • 12:16:42

    SHERWOODDid an initial ambulance arrive that was basic and what they call in your business a down-graded ambulance, a basic ambulance?

  • 12:16:48

    ELLERBEI mean I really don't want to talk about how we responded.

  • 12:16:51

    SHERWOODYou know that sounds like yes when you don't respond?

  • 12:16:55

    ELLERBEWell, no. I'm not not responding. What I'm saying is I really prefer not to talk about principle clients, how they're transported and even where they're transported.

  • 12:17:03

    SHERWOODOh, I wouldn't -- well, I don't ask you any question about Eric Holder. But my understanding is the first ambulance that went to the Justice Department was a basic ambulance. It wasn't really prepared to take anyone, let alone the attorney general of the United States.

  • 12:17:17

    ELLERBEWell, the basic life support unit is prepared to take anyone, including the attorney general of the United States. But what I'd like to talk about is this, I propose to change the way we deliver EMS service to the council.

  • 12:17:28

    SHERWOODI want to get to that. Can I do one more political question?

  • 12:17:31

    ELLERBESure.

  • 12:17:31

    SHERWOODThis is "The Politics Hour."

  • 12:17:32

    ELLERBEAbsolutely.

  • 12:17:33

    SHERWOODAnd then I'm going to let you unload on how you're trying to change the staffing of the department, because that is important.

  • 12:17:38

    ELLERBEYes.

  • 12:17:41

    SHERWOODAnd I'm just watching for phone calls because I know there are going to be some. We mentioned at the outset of the show, Matt and I did, the forum Wednesday night. At that forum Mayor Gray gave full-throated support to school's chancellor Kaya Henderson. "She's the best person for the job and she will be retained." I then asked all the candidates and the mayor, yes or no, whether you should be retained as fire chief. All of the candidates said no except the mayor. But he wasn't every enthusiastic. Certainly not coming after what he said about Kaya Henderson.

  • 12:18:14

    SHERWOODHe said, "The answer is, I think, Chief Ellerbe has done some good things in that job. And that is an issue that he and I will talk about as we move to the second administration." I don't even know if you want to go into a second administration, but it was a clear difference between what the mayor had to say about Kaya Henderson -- full-throated yes -- to well, I'm going to talk to the chief.

  • 12:18:39

    ELLERBEAnd I'm assuming…

  • 12:18:39

    SHERWOODThat was a question.

  • 12:18:40

    ELLERBEOh, okay. I was going to say, I assume that's a question. Well, the mayor…

  • 12:18:42

    SHERWOODSo what do you think?

  • 12:18:43

    ELLERBEThe mayor puts together his executive staff. And no doubt the Fire and EMS Department has had significant challenges, all of which have been met head-on. But that's a decision that he'll make. And whatever his decision is is something that I am willing to live with.

  • 12:19:01

    SHERWOODOkay. Let's take a call now. Keith is calling in form the District of Columbia. He wants to talk about the possibility of free CPR classes. Keith, are you there?

  • 12:19:10

    KEITHYeah, good morning, guys. Chief Ellerbe, I can understand your position, man, as far as everyone biting at you. But one of the positive things that can come out of what happened with Mr. Mills, who coincidentally I grew up with his daughter. And it was a very sad incident.

  • 12:19:29

    SHERWOODExcuse me. Mr. Mills is the man who died on Rhode Island Avenue, on January 25th. Go ahead, sir.

  • 12:19:34

    KEITHRight. But, you know, one thing you can find money for, you know, is to have open CPR courses for just regular citizens. Hey, you have nothing to do for four Saturdays. You can come in for an hour to the station. You know, I understand the rotations and the stations of the firemen are changed, but get involved with Red Cross and just have that. Because I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen a person in medical distress and there's no one, and this isn't including paramedics, but no one in the room or the building who knows CPR.

  • 12:20:13

    SHERWOODThank you Keith. Let's let the chief answer that. Keith, I mean, doesn't replace, obviously well trained firefighters in an emergency medical technicians, but what about that better training across the board publicly?

  • 12:20:24

    ELLERBEI'd like to see everybody in Washington, D.C., who's capable and willing to do CPR, trained in CPR. Seattle, Wash. has one of the highest success rates in terms of witness heart attacks because their citizens are trained in CPR. So, Keith, I think that is a very valid concern. I think it's a good idea and it's something that we'll look at. One of the reasons I'm looking at trying to change our work schedule, so we'll have more employees who are available to do community-oriented things like that.

  • 12:20:50

    BUSHTo go on a little more on that, back in the Post report, the firefighter in question was saying he thinks this is being over covered, this incident. Do you think it's being over covered? Do you think people keep digging for something that isn't there?

  • 12:21:04

    ELLERBEI think that this is an incident that has alarmed the community. And there's no idea that this could be over covered. I think that the young man is not accustomed to this type of scrutiny and this type of pressure. And everybody's not cut out for this. I mean, this level of acrimony, this level of scrutiny is something that if you are not prepared for leadership, I mean it's something that will really eat at you. And I think that he's suffering right now based on the scrutiny he's undergoing.

  • 12:21:35

    SHERWOODChief, one of the issues is that cadet program that was stopped under the last fire chief -- Dennis Rubin, I believe -- said it wasn't very good. And you restored it. We have a caller. Jake, in D.C., wants to talk about the future of the cadet program. Jake?

  • 12:21:53

    JAKEHi. How are you, Tom?

  • 12:21:54

    SHERWOODI'm good thanks. Ask your question, please, sir.

  • 12:21:58

    JAKEHello, Chief. I just wanted to ask you where you see the cadet program going in the future, as far as its balance with staffing the department. Also, where do you see your recruit hiring going? And also comment on your history of proven retaliation against members of the department. Thank you.

  • 12:22:18

    SHERWOODWell, that -- some people are saying the officers -- some of them are afraid to act out of immediate protocol because you might come down too tough on them. But what about the cadet program?

  • 12:22:24

    ELLERBEI think the cadet program is a wonderful opportunity for us to offer employment to our young folks in Washington, D.C. It's also…

  • 12:22:30

    SHERWOODAnd for people who don't know, it's like seniors coming out of high school or who -- what is cadet?

  • 12:22:35

    ELLERBESeniors coming out of any high school in the District.

  • 12:22:38

    SHERWOODIn the District.

  • 12:22:38

    ELLERBERight. In the District, the public schools, public charter schools are all visited by a recruiting group. And we do the best we can to give them an opportunity for employment. In terms of recruiting…

  • 12:22:49

    SHERWOODHow many is that a year? I mean, what's the cadet program? Is it a dozen, two dozen, three?

  • 12:22:52

    ELLERBEIt's about 30, between 30 and 36 young folks get the opportunity to come work for us.

  • 12:22:59

    SHERWOODBut in your business there's always a lot of dropout when people realize how hard the job is, isn't there?

  • 12:23:04

    ELLERBEWe have between a 90 and 95 percent success rate of young folks who start, who complete the program.

  • 12:23:10

    SHERWOODOh, really? And then they come onto the force?

  • 12:23:12

    ELLERBEAnd they join the force, but…

  • 12:23:13

    SHERWOODThat's much higher.

  • 12:23:13

    ELLERBE…this is a tough environment for a younger person, a new person to enter into. And we have very strict rules. They are under the same rules and regulations that our firefighters are under. So any idea that they get a break is just not true. In terms of recruitment, we have been recruiting and we have hired, like I said, 20 new paramedics -- folks who want to come here and work to provide emergency medical care to the District.

  • 12:23:37

    ELLERBENow, in terms of proven retaliation, I haven't seen any proof of retaliation. And in terms of our rules and regulations, employees who undergo a trial board and who are found guilty are not found guilty by me. A jury of their peers and managers review the case, they make a recommendation to me, that I can either accept, reduce the penalty or dismiss the penalty. I cannot increase any penalty for our employees.

  • 12:24:00

    SHERWOODChief Lanier has complained that the disciplinary system of appeals is too difficult and that she would like to maybe see changes in it. Do you think the disciplinary system is too difficult?

  • 12:24:12

    ELLERBEI think that management is hampered by the fact that we have two managers and two labor organization members sitting on the trial board who have a tendency to look at the process and slow it down a bit. I try very hard not to engage in the labor and management struggle, but this is one place that we definitely have some (unintelligible).

  • 12:24:32

    SHERWOODDid you get involved in recommending raises? Chief Lanier, again, said she didn't really have anything to do with labor negotiations where the police officers were sorely disappointed by the raise they got. The firefighters have gone years without raises. Didn't we just get a -- reach an agreement for a raise? What is that?

  • 12:24:46

    ELLERBEAn arbitrator ruled in their favor regarding a compensation package that was negotiated by the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining.

  • 12:24:53

    SHERWOODSo they -- do you remember what the percentage is, 4, 5 percent?

  • 12:24:57

    ELLERBEI think it's 3, 3.5 percent.

  • 12:24:59

    SHERWOODIt's not a lot.

  • 12:25:00

    ELLERBEIt's more than they…

  • 12:25:01

    SHERWOODNow, you want to change -- I know Matt wants to jump in here, again, too. But I know you want to talk about how you're trying to change the nature of how the department is staffed. And you think that's where some of the complaints come from, about how you're running the department.

  • 12:25:13

    ELLERBEYes.

  • 12:25:14

    SHERWOODWhat are you trying to do? You're trying to bring -- even the mayor this week, at his press conference, said, "I want to get the firefighters who live in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and faraway places, to live in the District of Columbia and be on call here." You want to change to 12 hours on, 12 hours off, as opposed to 24 hours on, 24 off? Is that a good summary?

  • 12:25:34

    ELLERBEWell, that's somewhat close. Our employees…

  • 12:25:36

    SHERWOODThat's all -- somewhat close is what the media does.

  • 12:25:40

    ELLERBERight. Our employees work one out of four days. And I'd much rather -- and they work 24 hours at a time and quite frankly, they sleep part of that time. I'd much rather see them work 12 hour shifts, which mirrors the EMS service delivery that we have. 80 percent of our calls are EMS related. The medical community works a 12-hour or less shift because they want to make sure employees are alert, acute and able to deliver care. That's the same thing I want to do in our department.

  • 12:26:04

    SHERWOODI'm Tom Sherwood, sitting in for Kojo today on "The Politics Hour." Matt Bush, reporter for WAMU is sitting in for me. And you're listening to Kenneth Ellerbe. He's the chief of the District of Columbia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services. You can call us at 1-800-433-8850. You can tweet us @kojoshow. We haven't gotten a tweet yet. Do you tweet, Chief?

  • 12:26:27

    ELLERBEI do. I tweeted last night, as a matter of fact.

  • 12:26:29

    SHERWOODI'm not following you. I'll have to fix that right away.

  • 12:26:31

    ELLERBEYou should follow me. I did. I sent out a tweet last night because I was at a forum on the east end of the city encouraging young men to stay in school.

  • 12:26:39

    SHERWOODWell, good. Where was it in the east end?

  • 12:26:40

    ELLERBEIn southeast D.C. at the Bald Eagle Recreational Center.

  • 12:26:43

    SHERWOODBald Eagle Rec Center.

  • 12:26:45

    ELLERBEWhich is what they call the Eagle's Nest.

  • 12:26:46

    SHERWOODThat will be one of the early voting places, too. You've donated to the mayor. You're all aboard for the mayor's reelection. I know you've donated to him.

  • 12:26:56

    ELLERBEYes. There's Hatch Act issue that I have to pay close attention and be very careful.

  • 12:27:01

    SHERWOODOkay. We'll consider you on your lunch hour so you can speak freely. But now Matt has a question.

  • 12:27:05

    BUSHYou talk of all the changes you want to make. Can you do it in a year? Let's say, looking at the politics of this, because of what was said the other night, the mayor's term -- at least his first term -- goes, you know, a little less than another year. Can these changes be done in that time?

  • 12:27:19

    ELLERBEI'll tell you this, these changes are good for the city. They're good for the residents of the city and they're good for the taxpayers. And I expect that these changes will be embraced and they should be completed. It's very important for people to understand. Each one of our shifts cost $34 million. And if you can do the job…

  • 12:27:34

    SHERWOODAnd you have three shifts?

  • 12:27:35

    ELLERBEWe have four shifts.

  • 12:27:36

    SHERWOODFour shifts.

  • 12:27:37

    ELLERBEIf you can do the job with three shifts, then that's all you need. You're paying an extra $34 million for something that may be a bit extravagant.

  • 12:27:43

    SHERWOODWhy do you think the firefighters, Local 36, why do you think those officers are against it?

  • 12:27:49

    ELLERBEIf you could work one day out of four, would you favor that? I mean the bottom line is this, our employees work 96 days a year, basically. And changing the shift would require them to come to work more often. But what it would also do is it would reduce overtime. It would give our newest employees more contact with their supervisors because they'll spend three days and maybe three nights or two -- they actually only work five out of the six days, except for seven times a year. So they'll only be working five days out of six.

  • 12:28:18

    SHERWOODSome of your officers have said to me, well, some of the firefighters have other jobs that they work, independent jobs and other types of things because they get so much time off in between being there. But then the firefighters say being on call 24 hours, even if we get to go to sleep, doesn't mean that we won't be awakened at a moment's notice and have to be alert, ready and if you do 12 hours on, 12 hours off, you're kind of confused by the time you've done that for a few days. What does Montgomery County do? What does Fairfax do?

  • 12:28:47

    ELLERBEThey work a 24-hour shift, but this is the nation's capital. And some of our challenges are a little bit different than Montgomery County and Fairfax. We have iconic facilities here and people. But the bottom line is this, Tom, I've worked each one of those shifts. I've worked 3/3/3, 24/48, 24/72 and 2 days and 2 nights. I can tell you, in terms of efficiency, in terms of management, the 3/3/3 shift is the much more favorable shift for the citizens of the District of Columbia.

  • 12:29:15

    ELLERBENow, for the employees, of course, maybe one day on, three days off is more favorable, but the agency exists to provide service to the city. The agency doesn't exist to provide employment for folks who just want to work one day and be off for three. And I don't want to engage the union in this to a great degree, but that's the reality of it. My job is to provide the best, most efficient, most effective and cost-effective service to the citizens of the District of Columbia.

  • 12:29:38

    SHERWOODDoes it have to be approved by the D.C. Council?

  • 12:29:41

    ELLERBEWell, you know, that may be possible, but it's quite possible that the D.C. Council will realize that my responsibility…

  • 12:29:47

    SHERWOODI mean just -- whether they like it or not -- can you do this or does it require -- can you do this by executive action with the mayor's approval or does it require changing…

  • 12:29:57

    ELLERBERight now…

  • 12:29:57

    SHERWOODAnd union agreement.

  • 12:29:59

    ELLERBEWell, if PERB rules in our favor it doesn't really require union agreement, although we would seek it.

  • 12:30:03

    SHERWOODThat' the Public Employees Relations Board.

  • 12:30:06

    ELLERBEYes, I'm sorry. Public Employees Relations Board, who's already ruled in our favor to make this unilateral change, but we're still trying to make sure that the -- you know, we're fair about it. The council has to approve it now because it represents a major change, but we expect that if the PERB rules in our favor and the mayor says go forward, that the council will get out of the way and let me manage the department.

  • 12:30:28

    SHERWOODWe have a caller, Andrew, I'll ask his question because it's a fairly simple one. I know the answer. "Is the chief's donation to the mayor a conflict of interest?"

  • 12:30:35

    ELLERBENo.

  • 12:30:37

    SHERWOODYou're a citizen of the city.

  • 12:30:38

    ELLERBEI'm a citizen of…

  • 12:30:38

    SHERWOODRegistered voter.

  • 12:30:39

    ELLERBERegistered voter. Yes. I'm a registered voter and I live in the District of Columbia, so I am eligible to donate to any mayoral campaign.

  • 12:30:46

    SHERWOODAll right. Matt?

  • 12:30:46

    BUSHBut you can't politic for him, you can't campaign for him.

  • 12:30:48

    ELLERBECan't campaign.

  • 12:30:49

    SHERWOODWell, you -- I don't think you actually…

  • 12:30:50

    ELLERBEI could campaign on my own time, but just in an effort to stay away from any potential Hatch Act challenges or any potential appearance of conflict, I've done my part in terms of managing this agency. And I think that's the best thing I can do to represent the mayor.

  • 12:31:07

    SHERWOODI know the mayor's campaign invited all the cabinet members to a meeting this last -- a couple of nights ago. Did you go to that? Did you get that email? I think it went to your personal email.

  • 12:31:15

    ELLERBEI did not go to any events like that.

  • 12:31:18

    SHERWOODOkay. That's Kenneth Ellerbe, D.C. Fire and Medical Services. Matt? You're good on that?

  • 12:31:27

    BUSHI think I'm good, yeah.

  • 12:31:28

    SHERWOODWell, I want to -- Chief, how big is the department? How many firefighters do you have?

  • 12:31:33

    ELLERBEWe have about 1,900 firefighters.

  • 12:31:35

    SHERWOODAnd how many separate EMTs do you have? I know you're cross-training.

  • 12:31:39

    ELLERBEAbout 230 paramedics. You know, 25 percent of our employees live in the District of Columbia. And if we had a 2,000 member force, that would be 500 D.C. voters, but the reality is this agency has to change. Our major focus should be EMS service delivery. I don't…

  • 12:31:58

    SHERWOODWe don't have that many big fires.

  • 12:32:00

    ELLERBENo, we don't. Modern technology, you've got sprinklers in here. Our fire call load is less than 20 percent of what we do. And I would encourage you to talk to some of the younger EMTs and paramedics who are coming in the department who see the need for change. We're trying to change. They see the need for change and they're encouraging us to move the department in a different direction so we can provide better service to the citizens of D.C.

  • 12:32:21

    SHERWOODSo do you see yourself as an agent of change, and agents of change are not usually very well liked?

  • 12:32:27

    ELLERBEWell, that's true. I accepted that when I came in. I do see myself as an agent of change. And obviously, many others see me as an agent of change, if they're not really ready to embrace it. But…

  • 12:32:34

    SHERWOODThen some people would like for the fire chief to change.

  • 12:32:38

    ELLERBEYeah, well, I plan to change. And I plan to keep changing. Changing forward though, not changing backward.

  • 12:32:42

    SHERWOODWill you be there the rest of the season? I mean, this year, for this -- I know you serve at the pleasure of the mayor. I'll preempt that answer.

  • 12:32:48

    ELLERBEYeah. Well, if it's up to me, I plan to be here. I mean I want to see this thing through. It's important. It's important to me because this is my city and I want to throw a plug in for my grandmother who graduated from Miner's Teachers College in 1919 -- tell you how long my family's been here. So I have every intention of making sure this happens.

  • 12:33:05

    SHERWOODAnd do you have family members in the Fire…

  • 12:33:06

    ELLERBEI have a younger brother who's joined the Fire Department. I also have a younger brother who works for another radio station.

  • 12:33:14

    SHERWOODOh. All right. Well, good. Well, Chief, thank you for coming in today. I appreciate it. We talked about the staffing.

  • 12:33:19

    ELLERBEYes, sir.

  • 12:33:20

    SHERWOODJust remember that.

  • 12:33:21

    ELLERBEWe did. And I appreciate it. Thank you.

  • 12:33:23

    SHERWOODAll right. Thanks very much, Chief. Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, fire chief of the District of the Columbia.

  • 12:33:27

    ELLERBEThank you.

  • 12:33:29

    SHERWOODThank you, sir. Thanks for coming in. Well, Matt, I want to go over to the Maryland General Assembly. It's been a very busy week. What are some hot things there? I know marijuana was up for a while, but what did you see over there this week?

  • 12:33:38

    BUSHWell, marijuana was. The hearings took place this week in the Senate's committee on decriminalizing and legalizing. And there are two different bills, obviously. The decriminalizing bill has a better chance of passing this year. Even the supporters of legalizing it have said in many ways this year they're kind of focusing on moving the ball down the field, pretty much.

  • 12:33:59

    BUSHIt took -- using the example of some of the other things that are passed in the General Assembly, along that same-sex marriage, I think, is a good example. That took three years. And this will be the second year that a legalization bill is in the General Assembly. So I think…

  • 12:34:12

    SHERWOODLegalization?

  • 12:34:13

    BUSHLegalization, yeah.

  • 12:34:14

    SHERWOODOkay.

  • 12:34:15

    BUSHSo this second year -- I would imagine next year will be the really, really strong push on it, but this year they got the committee hearing earlier. There could be a committee vote this year, which is something they didn't have last year. So, again, they're trying to move it down. But the decriminalizing bill, I think, has a much better chance. All three Democratic governors, candidates support it. It has a better chance of getting through.

  • 12:34:33

    BUSHBut there were all these -- we're in the middle right now of the session. And that's where a lot of these other bills start coming up. And that's where some of the sniping really kind of begins. We saw it this week on a few different ones. And one was this pit bull bill, which for the third straight year is coming up. It looks like this year something's finally going to get passed. I was reading some tweets that…

  • 12:34:53

    SHERWOODWhat will it do?

  • 12:34:54

    BUSHBasically, what this does is there was a court ruling three years ago that said pit bulls are an inherently dangerous breed of dog. So that leaves their owners and landlords who rent to them, far more liable in court. So what was happening was people who were living in an apartment somewhere and had a dog, the landlord was saying get rid of the dog or I'm kicking you out. So the shelters were filling up with pit bulls and there was this thing -- there's a lot of mixed breeds that have pit bull blood in them, so it was almost -- are you going to start DNA testing dogs and all this sort of thing?

  • 12:35:20

    BUSHSo they've tried to fix this. And during the special session of 2012, over gambling -- that was the only other thing that was discussed -- didn't get it done. Last year on the last night in the last 10 minutes the House refused to vote on the bill because they didn't like the Senate version of it. So this year the Senate sort of bowed to the House and said we will pass what you want. And that came up this week, but one senator said, "I don't care what the House wants. We are the Senate. We should pass what we think is right." And tried, failed, but…

  • 12:35:44

    SHERWOODI thought the pit bull fight was over. I went to the Washington Humane Society to do a story on some special adoptions, and most of the dogs there at the time I went were versions of pit bulls. And I asked the people who deal with the dogs all the time, they say they are not genetically vicious.

  • 12:36:04

    BUSHNo.

  • 12:36:04

    SHERWOODBut they are trained to be.

  • 12:36:05

    BUSHThey are trained to be vicious. You could train any dog to be very, very vicious like that. It's just pit bulls have, you know, a sort of genetic breakdown if you want it or a genetic makeup that if you wanted to train them to be very violent they could be more violent than the other dog. But, again, you just train a dog to be that way. It's not born that way.

  • 12:36:19

    SHERWOODThat's Matt Bush. He's a reporter for WAMU, sitting in for me, Tom Sherwood, who's sitting in for Kojo. And joining us in the studio is Phil Andrews.

  • 12:36:28

    MR. PHIL ANDREWSNice to see you.

  • 12:36:29

    SHERWOODThank you. Welcome here. He's a…

  • 12:36:31

    ANDREWSThank you.

  • 12:36:31

    SHERWOODHe's a Democratic candidate for county executive in Montgomery County. He currently represents the Council's 3rd District. Welcome.

  • 12:36:38

    ANDREWSWelcome. Thank you for having me. It's good to be here.

  • 12:36:41

    SHERWOODTell those of us who live in the District and elsewhere, where is the 3rd District?

  • 12:36:44

    ANDREWSThe 3rd District is the middle of Montgomery County. It's the Rockville/Gaithersburg greater area there. So basically the center of the county.

  • 12:36:51

    SHERWOODAnd you've been there since '99? You took office in 1999?

  • 12:36:54

    ANDREWS1998. So I'm in my 16th year.

  • 12:36:56

    SHERWOODYou were elected in '98?

  • 12:36:58

    ANDREWSThat's right. So I'm in my fourth term.

  • 12:37:00

    SHERWOODSo that was a time for a change?

  • 12:37:02

    ANDREWSWell, it's definitely a time for a change in the county executive position. We've had…

  • 12:37:05

    SHERWOODWell, let's say, the primary's in June. Not far away. And you're running for county executive against Ike Leggett, the incumbent and Doug Duncan, who's trying to make a comeback.

  • 12:37:13

    ANDREWSThat's right.

  • 12:37:14

    SHERWOODAnd you're trying to hang in there.

  • 12:37:15

    ANDREWSWell, I'm looking to change things in Montgomery County.

  • 12:37:17

    SHERWOODWill you give up your seat? That's right.

  • 12:37:20

    ANDREWSI do.

  • 12:37:21

    SHERWOODOkay. You give up your seat. Tell us -- all right. Why are you and not Ike Leggett or Doug Duncan?

  • 12:37:25

    ANDREWSWell, the county needs to get its competitive edge back if we're going to keep the county affordable and keep our quality of life up. And Montgomery County isn't doing very well in that regard. We get clobbered in Annapolis regularly. We're getting 20 cents back on our tax dollars and that's been the case for too long. We need strong leadership to change that.

  • 12:37:41

    SHERWOODJust on that, I read that and I heard you tell Bruce DePuyt on News Channel 8 that same thing. How do you change that? I mean it sounds to me like in northern Virginia, where those legislators and county leaders say, oh, Richmond, it's taking all the money from us and not letting us get it back. How do you change something like that when the rest of the state says, hey, Montgomery's got the money, let's take it from them.

  • 12:38:03

    ANDREWSWell, first you have to unite your own delegation. If you have senators and delegates from your own county who are voting for measures like the teacher pension shift that hurts your county, then you're going to lose. So first you have to unite your own delegation. And our delegation is the largest in the whole state. So we have a base to start from.

  • 12:38:20

    BUSHYeah, they fight with each other quite a bit.

  • 12:38:21

    ANDREWSThey fight with each other too much.

  • 12:38:22

    SHERWOODMatt Bush.

  • 12:38:22

    BUSHThe pit bull bill is one of those, a good example of Montgomery County legislators fighting with each other over something, but not to interrupt, but what about having a governor from Montgomery County? That's not happened. And you have two candidates on the Democratic side this year. First, I don't know if you've endorsed anybody. Have you?

  • 12:38:37

    ANDREWSNo, I haven't. And…

  • 12:38:39

    BUSHAre you going to?

  • 12:38:39

    ANDREWS…I'm looking forward to hearing the debates that they have. Certainly we want a governor who's more responsive to Montgomery County. Martin O'Malley actually grew up Montgomery County, but he hasn't been very responsive to Montgomery County, and supported the teacher pension shift. And so we need a change in terms of the responsiveness of the governor to Montgomery County. We are only getting about 11 or 12 percent of the school construction funding pie, for example, yet MCPS educates 17 percent of the students in the state.

  • 12:39:07

    ANDREWSSo we've been shorted $135 million of that money. And that goes back 10 years. That didn't just happen in the last five or so. It goes back a long way. The county executive from Montgomery County needs to be the person that unites our delegation so that we have a strong unified voice in Annapolis. Because if our own delegation isn't united we lose. No one else from other counties is going to stand up for Montgomery County if our own senators and delegates aren't fighting together.

  • 12:39:35

    BUSHLooking at the race that you're now in, about a year ago this race looked an awful lot different. But you're the only constant in this. Now, about a year ago, that's when Doug Duncan decided he was going to jump into the race. And Ike Leggett, prior to that, seemed like he was going to follow through on his promise after the last election, he was going to retire. Once Duncan got into the race, Leggett decides I'm going to stay.

  • 12:39:52

    BUSHOnce Duncan got into the race, Leggett decides I'm going to stay. So that scares off two other council members who were going to run, a couple of delegates who were going to run and untold number of other candidates. You stayed in. One, why? And two, you're at a massive financial disadvantage compared to the other two. So even with that, why stay in the race when now you're facing the prior two people who've held the position?

  • 12:40:15

    ANDREWSWell, I think Montgomery County needs a change and so I was running regardless of whoever else was running. And as you noted, I started quite a while ago. I've knocked on 18,000 doors in the last 12 months so that's about 18,000 doors more than each of my opponents. And ultimately, what counts is whether you get your message out to voters.

  • 12:40:34

    ANDREWSThis is a Democratic primary and folks are going to be coming out on June 24 to vote for a candidate who's going to move Montgomery County forward. My record is very strong. I wrote the county's smoke-free restaurant law and that was a really tough law to get through.

  • 12:40:47

    SHERWOODBefore we get to your record, could we get to the fundraising? You're not taking, you say, special interest money.

  • 12:40:56

    ANDREWSThat's right.

  • 12:40:57

    SHERWOODWho's giving you money? I mean, you trail far behind the other two candidates so what kind of budget do you have? Do you have a budget for June 24?

  • 12:41:04

    ANDREWSSure.

  • 12:41:06

    SHERWOODThe last time I looked, it was, like, $300,000 you'd raised or something like that.

  • 12:41:09

    ANDREWSA little less than that.

  • 12:41:09

    SHERWOODA little less.

  • 12:41:10

    ANDREWSBut the budget is what you need to reach voters. Abe Lincoln was once asked how long do a man's legs need to be and the answer he gave was, long enough to reach the ground. You need enough to get your message out. When Ike Leggett ran in 2006, he was outspent by a million and a half dollars by Steve Silverman. And Ike Leggett got over 60 percent of the vote. So money isn't everything and the answer to where the money comes from, you're right. I don't take any money from interest groups. I haven't since I first ran for the county council 20 years ago.

  • 12:41:37

    SHERWOODAnd excuse me, interest groups, what does that mean? Is that corporate developers?

  • 12:41:42

    ANDREWSUnions, developers so any pacts.

  • 12:41:44

    SHERWOODSo you have to be a non-involved citizen.

  • 12:41:46

    ANDREWSNo, you need...

  • 12:41:46

    SHERWOODWhat about a community leader?

  • 12:41:48

    ANDREWSCommunity leaders, individuals, are what we should be focusing on as elected officials and I just introduced legislation that would encourage candidates to do that, public financing for county elections which would limit contributions to individuals, giving $150 or less. So there...

  • 12:42:04

    SHERWOODSo environmental groups can't give you money?

  • 12:42:06

    ANDREWSNot if you participate in the public financing system. It's an optional system, but if you opt in, you've got to restrict your contributions to $150 from individuals. And it's been endorsed by the Sierra Club and Common Cause, the ACLU, Progressive Maryland, lots and lots...

  • 12:42:19

    SHERWOODBut I mean, money now that you're accepting, you don't take money from, like, environmentalists?

  • 12:42:23

    ANDREWSI don't take any money from any groups.

  • 12:42:25

    SHERWOODAre you wealthy?

  • 12:42:25

    ANDREWSNo, no. But the answer to your question, Tom, is, you know, who contributes? Fortunately, there's still a lot more individuals out there who are interested in politics and interested in good government. And so that's where the money comes from.

  • 12:42:39

    SHERWOODMatt, back to the issue.

  • 12:42:40

    BUSHI was at the press conference, you were talking about the public financing, though, and one of the -- you have seven, I believe -- is it nine? Do you have all nine parties on...

  • 12:42:45

    ANDREWSActually, everybody's on nine.

  • 12:42:46

    BUSH...everyone's on nine. Yeah, I think it was seven that day. But one of the questions or one of the comments was made by one of the other council members is that 50 percent of money in Montgomery County elections comes from developers. Why...

  • 12:42:56

    ANDREWSThat's historically been the case, right.

  • 12:42:57

    BUSHRight. So why say no to them? I mean, you're saying no a lot of money.

  • 12:43:00

    ANDREWSThe reason to say no to them is because it's a conflict of interest. It's a conflict of interest in my view for council members to vote on development plans that benefit individual property owners who can contribute and do contribute to candidates and it's a conflict, in my view, for the county executive to be funded by people or groups he or she is negotiating with.

  • 12:43:18

    ANDREWSI'm the only person running for county executive who doesn't take campaign funds from the public employee unions or from the developers that the country executive is responsible for negotiating with on the public's behalf. And I ask people, who do you think's going to get you the better deal, someone who is independent of the groups they're negotiating with or someone who's funded by them?

  • 12:43:35

    SHERWOODAnd that's Phil Andrews. He's running for county executive of Montgomery County. And do you -- started to ask you about the money. In your previous campaigns for your district seat, did you take special interest money?

  • 12:43:48

    ANDREWSNo, no, since I first ran...

  • 12:43:49

    SHERWOODThis has been consistent?

  • 12:43:50

    ANDREWSYeah, for 20 years. I first ran for the county council in 1994. I followed this policy since I first ran for the council.

  • 12:43:56

    SHERWOODYou can call us at 1-800-433-8850. You can email us and the email address is kojo@wamu.org or you can tweet us @kojoshow. We'd love to have your questions for Phil Andrews. Matt.

  • 12:44:13

    BUSHMinimum wage was passed in the three jurisdictions here by Montgomery County council, Prince George's County council and the D.C. council. Of the three bodies, you are the only person who voted against it in any of the three. Why?

  • 12:44:23

    ANDREWSI voted against it because it's far better to have a minimum wage increase at the state level or federal level. One of the problems with the county bill is municipalities can opt out of it so several are not covered, like Poolesville, Laytonsville and several others. But Rockville and Gaithersburg could opt out of the county's law...

  • 12:44:40

    BUSHWill they?

  • 12:44:40

    ANDREWSI don't know. Gaithersburg has had some discussions about it. But the bottom line is, you can have a situation -- you actually do have a situation that when Montgomery County's law takes effect, there will be different minimum wages within Montgomery County, in some cases, businesses across the street from each other, and that could multiply.

  • 12:44:56

    ANDREWSIt's a far better approach and I support a raise in the minimum wage at the state level that's a reasonable increase and that's along the lines of what they're looking at. That's a much better approach. And it was clear that they were going to raise the minimum wage at the state level when the council was taking this bill up.

  • 12:45:11

    BUSHOkay. Now, it doesn't look like the state wage -- well, the state wage bill is in limbo right now, for lack of a better word. What can you say to that now? I mean...

  • 12:45:19

    ANDREWSWell, it looks to me like they're going to raise it. It's a matter of how much. So it would've been better for Montgomery County to see what the state did on this and I expect they are going to raise by a significant amount over what it is now and then, if the county felt it needed to make an adjustment, it could. But it was premature for the county to act and it's not the best way to raise the wage.

  • 12:45:40

    BUSHAnd one thing I think you said there was sort of -- Did Montgomery County want to be first on this?

  • 12:45:45

    ANDREWSI think that was part of the motivation of people that voted for it, but you have to look at what the impact is on your own county. Montgomery County can't act in a vacuum because we are surrounded by other jurisdictions. And if we're going to economically competitive, we have to be careful about the sort of laws we pass.

  • 12:46:01

    SHERWOODWell, excuse me, Mr. Andrews. The District has passed a minimum wage increase to $11.50.

  • 12:46:06

    ANDREWSAnd which I understand has the same bill also.

  • 12:46:07

    SHERWOODAnd Prince George's County and so it makes the region -- Virginia, they don't even know what the minimum wage is yet. They're just catching up.

  • 12:46:15

    ANDREWSThe region is bigger, though, than just Montgomery County, Prince George's and D.C. We're surrounded by Howard County and Frederick County and the, of course, Northern Virginia. So it's better the larger the area that is covered by a minimum wage. You know, I wrote the county's living wage law so I worked on that for three years to get that through. That was a tough fight. So I believe in looking out for workers. I wrote the smoke-free restaurant law as well. But it's important how you do these things.

  • 12:46:36

    SHERWOODI want to ask you about the ICC. It's underutilized now. It's not meeting expectations, but I always remember thinking back to -- I'm old enough to -- when Dulles Airport was built, I mean, there were national stories about how idiot was for people to build an airport so far out into the suburbs -- or not even suburbs at that time. And, of course, now it's a big development area. Is it just a matter of the ICC needs growing, people need to get used to it. The cost of driving have to change and people will use it. Or would you cut the fare?

  • 12:47:09

    ANDREWSThe fundamental problem with the ICC at this point is the tolls are too high. The tolls are $8 a day round trip. That's $40 a week. That's $2,000 a year. And it's not a bridge. It's not a tunnel so people can avoid it and that's why it's highly underused. What I've proposed is that the state cut the tolls in half to attract more drivers. The Maryland Transportation Authority can do that. The gubernatorial candidates make those appointments so I've been urging the gubernatorial candidates to talk about it and I'm glad that Doug Gansler has come out in support of that.

  • 12:47:36

    BUSHDoug Gansler did come out and say he wanted to cut it in half and do it for some of the other toll facilities in Maryland, too. I believe the tunnel up in Baltimore was one of them that came up. But what else can be done? I mean, there's...

  • 12:47:49

    ANDREWSThe ICC is actually the only toll facility in the state that doesn't have a deep discount or any discount for regular users. People use the Bay Bridge and the Fort McHenry Tunnel get a deep discount if they're regular commuters.

  • 12:48:00

    BUSHWhy?

  • 12:48:01

    ANDREWSBecause the state had decided they're going to do that.

  • 12:48:03

    BUSHIs it because Montgomery County is affluent and they think that they can just do it regardless or to the perception to the rest of the state, let's put it that way.

  • 12:48:10

    ANDREWSI can't speak for the Maryland Transportation Authority. I don't understand their logic at all, why they charge so much for a road that people can avoid.

  • 12:48:16

    SHERWOODThat's kind of speaking for them, isn't it? They're not -- they're illogical.

  • 12:48:19

    ANDREWSI'm saying I don't understand their logic, yeah.

  • 12:48:21

    SHERWOODWell, you do like the Purple Line, though.

  • 12:48:23

    ANDREWSI do. The Purple Line, I've supported ever since our first run.

  • 12:48:24

    SHERWOODIt's very controversial.

  • 12:48:26

    ANDREWSIt's an important transit project and it's going forward and it's good for people…

  • 12:48:31

    SHERWOODWhat is the status of it?

  • 12:48:32

    ANDREWSIt is now funded in the state's transportation plan so the Purple Line is moving forward. It should be under construction and completed within five to eight years.

  • 12:48:42

    BUSHYou're doing zoning changes on it now or you're doing zoning -- you have to do the zoning -- the council's taking up the zoning matters right now, right?

  • 12:48:48

    ANDREWSYeah. We have worked on a lot of different issues related to the Purple Line in terms of zoning. It will provide a means for people to get across the down county. There's no road capacity left in the down county. It will connect population centers. It will have high ridership and we're also going to protect the trail, which has been a concern of a lot of people along the way.

  • 12:49:06

    BUSHComing to that, what's the Bethesda Station going to look like? 'Cause I think of right now the big controversy of the Purple Line is the Bethesda Station -- will people be able to transfer between the Metro Red Line and the Purple Line easily or will you be able to have a tunnel to protect the trail. What's going to happen to the Apex bill? I mean, there's so many questions in there because it's being built in such a major urban area that is very important to the county because it's one of its few, you know, entertainment night spots. So what's it going to look like?

  • 12:49:35

    ANDREWSWell, the county is doing everything it can to insure there's a smooth connection between the Purple Line and between the Bethesda Metro and for the trail users as well. We're working and encouraging the owners of the Apex building to make that happen with some incentives and we'll see if it happens or now.

  • 12:49:51

    BUSHAnd what'll happen -- the council president a few weeks ago, Craig Rice said, someone's probably going to lose on this. Doesn't know which one, but he said, someone's probably not going to get what they want on this.

  • 12:50:01

    ANDREWSYeah, it's just not clear yet what's going to happen there

  • 12:50:02

    SHERWOODLet's take a phone call. I believe it's Mike in Bethesda who wants to talk about police cars and defil -- I knew I should say -- I can't say this word. Defibrillators. Mike, are you there?

  • 12:50:12

    MIKEI'm there.

  • 12:50:13

    SHERWOODOkay. You say the word for me.

  • 12:50:14

    ANDREWSDefibrillators.

  • 12:50:14

    BUSHDefibrillator.

  • 12:50:16

    MIKEDefibrillators.

  • 12:50:17

    SHERWOODMy English teachers are shocked that I speak for a living. Go ahead.

  • 12:50:22

    MIKEI think you know who I am, Phil. Anyway, I want to ask if you are elected, will you equip the Montgomery County police cars on patrol with defibrillators to give a four-fold increase in prepared first responders on call and to prevent deaths in police custody where the police are unequipped? And a second part of the question is, as county council member, will you support money for this in the budget, which you will be considering too?

  • 12:50:56

    SHERWOODThank you very much, Mike. Mr. Andrews?

  • 12:50:58

    ANDREWSWell, thank you, Mike, for that question. I've chaired the council's public safety committee for 14 years and have worked on a lot of public safety issues. All of our fire apparatus are equipped with defibrillators and some of our police cars are. The police chief has told us that he feels there needs to be some increase in the number of defibrillators, but that he doesn't see a need for them to be in every patrol car.

  • 12:51:21

    ANDREWSHe is, and the council has been, supportive of adding some defibrillators to the police force so there are more. But a defibrillator is available in every single fire and rescue apparatus. So it's an incremental project and its one I do support, but I also think our police chief is very well versed in this and I respect his judgment.

  • 12:51:47

    BUSHThere was a report that came out earlier this year. It was the Night time -- I guess it was late last year, the Night Time Task Force, saying that Montgomery County, compared to all the other jurisdictions in the area, trails in getting people to go out to dinner, going to bars, going to restaurants, all that sort of thing. It doesn't have the entertainment spots. One of the reasons being that -- well, explain it. I mean, you're on the council. You've read the report.

  • 12:52:10

    BUSHBut as county executive, what would you do to increase that because it is something that -- and it wasn’t just that it was younger people in Montgomery County calling for it. It was older people, too, saying we have nothing to do here.

  • 12:52:22

    ANDREWSYeah, well, there have been some improvement in that way. We have more music facilities and arts facilities and I think the nightlife in Silver Springs, Bethesda is certainly much better than it used to be. Part of the problem is we have a lot of antiquated liquor laws at the state level that limit the number of licenses that a chain can have and makes it generally difficult.

  • 12:52:42

    ANDREWSThe council and I have been very supportive of making it easier for businesses to get liquor licenses for that type of purpose, to be able to provide the type of facility and, you know, restaurant bar that a lot of people want in their community. And so we have been making some progress there, but ultimately the state has to pass any change to liquor laws and they passed some, but not as many...

  • 12:53:09

    BUSHAbout half the businesses (unintelligible) deals will liquor laws. We always joke about that, things that come up, you know, all the little bills there that come up.

  • 12:53:16

    ANDREWSI think there's a few.

  • 12:53:16

    BUSHRight so there's a few. I mean, the city of Damascus, just two years ago, finally decided to not be a dry town. They were the last one in Maryland. But how -- that's a perception problem. You were talking earlier about perception, that Montgomery County's falling behind in things and in an area that's getting younger, how do you make it -- how does Montgomery County be able to compete with younger people being that the fastest growing population in the county is the aging population, is 55 over.

  • 12:53:39

    ANDREWSRight. Well, part of it is also have the sort of jobs that young people are interested in so that they choose to move here when they graduate. And that also means keeping Montgomery County more affordable because usually when people graduate, they don't have the high income. So I have been one of those on the council who has worked to keep spending at a reasonable level and not keep raising the property tax rate year after year.

  • 12:54:00

    ANDREWSThat affects renters 'cause landlords pass those costs on. It's been raised three straight years. I didn't support that. So the cost of living is a factor, too, for young people and having the sort of jobs and transit type communities that young people want to be near.

  • 12:54:16

    SHERWOODWhen is there a forum that people can go to to see all three candidates? Is there one on your agenda for Ike Leggett, Doug Duncan and Phil Andrews?

  • 12:54:23

    ANDREWSYes. There's one next Friday, March 7 at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda. It's sponsored by the Bethesda Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.

  • 12:54:30

    SHERWOODAnd what time of day would that be?

  • 12:54:32

    ANDREWSIt starts at 7:30 in the morning at -- the reception, I think and 8 o'clock is the debate itself, 8:00 a.m. to about 9:00.

  • 12:54:38

    SHERWOODCan we take a call?

  • 12:54:40

    BUSHI love going with early stuff.

  • 12:54:41

    SHERWOODEarly, early. (all talking at once)

  • 12:54:45

    BUSHThese council hearings are always so early. It's tough to get up in the morning and get up there for it.1

  • 12:54:47

    SHERWOODWe actually have a caller. I want to go back to pit bulls. I think that's a great subject. We have a caller. Let me see if I can call him up. Dave in Fort Washington, Maryland, you don't like pit bulls. I hear one.

  • 12:54:59

    DAVESay it again?

  • 12:55:00

    SHERWOODIs that a dog in the background?

  • 12:55:03

    DAVEYes, yes.

  • 12:55:04

    SHERWOODOkay. Very quickly, what's your question about pit bulls for Mr. Andrews?

  • 12:55:06

    DAVEWell, the pit bull thing is if there's been an extensive lobbying campaign by the American Kennel Club, by the Pit Bull Breeders worldwide. Here in Prince George's we have a ban that's the first ban of its type. Its breed specific in the state and certainly in Virginia. D.C.'s been wrestling with it for years. The breed itself, unlike the PR campaign that's being lobbied by the special interests...

  • 12:55:35

    SHERWOODDo you have a question for Mr. Andrews about pit bulls?

  • 12:55:37

    DAVEWell, no. I was just going to say that we would definitely favor maintaining the ban on the state level and he -- for those of us who believe the breed itself is different from other dogs and is vicious, it's not the people, it is the dog, do you...

  • 12:55:52

    SHERWOODAll right, sir. Let's hear what Mr. Andrews has to say about that? Do you have a dog?

  • 12:55:55

    ANDREWSI have a dog. I don't have a pit bull, but I have a dog who is a wonderful golden retriever dog. But I don't support banning specific breeds of dog. I think it comes down to training and they type of laws that you have to enforce.

  • 12:56:10

    SHERWOODI want to go back to your campaign 'cause you talked about something. You talked about knocking on doors. Does that really work or does that just say you're kind of a publicity thing that gives you -- people know that you've been out. Does it really work when you...

  • 12:56:25

    ANDREWSIt got me elected in 1998.

  • 12:56:27

    SHERWOODFirst of all, there's a million -- yeah, but in a county with a million people, how many voters are there in the Democratic primary?

  • 12:56:32

    ANDREWSAbout 100,000. So there are about 80,000 households. So I knock on 30,000 of those households. That's a pretty good percentage.

  • 12:56:39

    SHERWOODDo you do it or do your campaign workers do it and leave a poster with your name on it.

  • 12:56:42

    ANDREWSI do it. That was 100,000 people expected to vote 'cause there's far more registered voters.

  • 12:56:47

    BUSHYeah, there are about 330,000 registered Democrats, probably around 100,000 will turn out in the primary. Those folks live in about 80,000 homes. (unintelligible)

  • 12:56:56

    SHERWOODSo how many homes would you actually probably knock on doors?

  • 12:56:58

    ANDREWSWell, I've knocked on about 18,000 since last January and I've -- those are my doors. Now, I'm gonna...

  • 12:57:03

    SHERWOODWhen do you do that, mornings and evenings?

  • 12:57:04

    ANDREWSEvenings, mainly, and weekends.

  • 12:57:06

    SHERWOODWhat kind of response do you get? People are shocked, right?

  • 12:57:07

    ANDREWSYeah, it's great. Yeah, no, no. I've knocked on doors for years. I knocked on 14,000 doors when I was elected in 1998 and I'm known for this and I've done it continuously since then.

  • 12:57:17

    SHERWOODI've covered politics a long time. I just find it not -- it doesn't sound like...

  • 12:57:21

    ANDREWSAdrian Fenty knocked on a lot of doors.

  • 12:57:23

    SHERWOODWell, he did it, but he had three or four people with him and they would put out the flyers on the door. People aren't home. They're working. How many people are home when you do that?

  • 12:57:30

    ANDREWSAbout half. Yeah, about half are home by late afternoon or on the weekends or evening. So I catch about half the folks at home. I write notes for those who aren't and I have people come up to me years later who say you came by my home and 2002 or 2005.

  • 12:57:43

    SHERWOODHow many pairs of shoes do you have?

  • 12:57:45

    ANDREWSOh, I go through a lot of pairs and I had boots in the winter that are rated down to 40 degrees below zero.

  • 12:57:50

    BUSHAnd when you go to the big apartment complexes, I know your district has several of them, there's lots down in the others, what do you do then?

  • 12:57:56

    ANDREWSWell, it depends on the apartment complex. Some are gated. You can't get in, but sometimes you can.

  • 12:58:01

    SHERWOODThat's Phil Andrews. He'll be knocking on your door soon in Montgomery County. I'm Tom Sherwood sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. Matt Bush, thanks for coming in today.

  • 12:58:08

    BUSHThank you.

  • 12:58:09

    SHERWOODThis is the Politics Hour. Thank you all very much for listening. Have a good day.

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The Politics Hour – Nov. 21, 2014

Friday, Nov 21 2014Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we're at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.