Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Maryland cases involving Public Officials finally Reaches the U.S Supreme Court: An Announcement

us-supreme-court-buildingPlease read the embedded case which is currently set for conference in the U.S Supreme Court. There are other cases and we will share them with you. Get upset/frustrated with what is happening in our communities in Maryland. As Washington post reported on March 25, Nearly 1 in 3 Marylanders say corruption is a big problem in state government. Here in Maryland, the epicenter is Baltimore City followed closed by Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in that order.

This case is one in a series of eight (8) cases coming up in the U.S Supreme court and we will need your help to address the issues. The cases are all interconnected to what is happening in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. The gist of the other actions are currently in progress in Baltimore City, both in Federal and Circuit courts.

This blog helps to give voices to the educators and families who have no public platform. We hope many people will feel emboldened to speak out. We will share more details on the other cases and what you can do to help in the next few days.

We hope everyone who reads this is a member of the Network for Reform Sasscer Movement. The fight against public corruption has never been as perilous and crucial as it is now.

We need you. There is so much work to be done in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Baltimore City. We need allies, and we need successors.

In the upcoming cases, We need to maintain the spirit of unity and outrage that is associated with the alleged misconduct and hope that you will join to help create proper changes in many parts of the United States beginning in Maryland as the cases progress.

The Maryland Public Officials used an insurance company as an affront to harass and derail justice as shown on the petitions and other parts of the briefs in the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and elsewhere.

Remember, this can happen to you at anytime based on the way things are at the moment. But life does not have to be this way. Call your elected leaders and ask them to act to see proper changes are made and there is justice for the victims.

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Tennessee judge faces federal corruption charges

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General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland was arrested Tuesday morning by FBI agents.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland was arrested Tuesday morning by FBI agents, accused of attempting to obstruct a federal investigation.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court accuses the 59-year-old Moreland of attempting to bribe a witness in an on-going FBI investigation into his conduct and suggesting that drugs be planted on that witness in an attempt to discredit her.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said the allegations amount to “egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting in Nashville.”

“Such an abuse of power,” Smith added, “undermines the credibility of and destroys the public’s trust in the court system and strikes at the very essence of our judicial branch of government.”

The FBI investigation began January 25.

Moreland’s conduct had been the focus of a NewsChannel 5 investigation after a police review of a young woman’s suicide exposed his illicit affair with one young woman and allegations that he had intervened in a criminal case involving another woman who later committed suicide

Thousands of text messages obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates reveal Moreland intervened in the traffic stop last June  involving his mistress, Natalie Amos. He also interceded in a criminal case involving Amos to help her get out of fines that had been imposed against her.

Amos appears to have been the target of the bribery attempt, as well as the scheme to plant drugs in her vehicle.

The Metro Police investigation into the suicide last May of the second woman, Leigh Terry, brought up several disturbing allegations. One is that Moreland had sex with a woman in his chambers in exchange for favorable treatment in her DUI case.

“She told me right then that she had sex with Casey Moreland in the chambers and that’s what kept her out of jail,” Terry’s friend, Roy Matlock, said during an interview with Metro Police.

Prosecutors say the plan to ask that Moreland be held without bond.

Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Megan Barry released the following statement:

“Nashville deserves to have absolute trust in our judiciary, and Casey Moreland, based upon the allegations in the federal complaint, seems to have clearly violated that trust. Like all Americans, Judge Moreland deserves the chance to defend himself in court. However, resigning his position now would seem to be in the best interest of the Nashvillians who depend upon the integrity of our General Sessions Court judges to rule in a fair and unbiased manner.”

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Controversial education bill passed in Md. Senate, despite Hogan veto threat

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ANNAPOLIS, MD – MARCH 22: Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr. leads the Senate session on March 22. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

An education bill that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has promised to veto passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday with a veto-proof majority, despite Hogan’s warning that it is “designed to hide the failures of school leaders and administrators.”

The bill now heads to the House of Delegates, where lawmakers must reconcile the version they passed by a veto-proof margin earlier this month with changes made in the Senate.

The legislation, which is backed by the state teachers’ union and opposed by the state Board of Education, sets up an accountability system for rating schools and prohibits the state board from using vouchers and charters as a way to fix failing schools.

It was created in response to the federal Every Students Succeeds Act, which gives the state board the authority to create a new accountability system for school performance.

The Senate amended the bill to say 65 percent of a school’s “accountability rating” should be based on academic indicators such as standardized testing, student achievement, student growth and graduation, compared to 55 percent in the original version.

Several opponents of the bill, including Minority Whip Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Kent) argued that the rate is still too low and will make “Maryland a leader in deprioritizing student achievement.”

The Senate debate over the bill centered around school choice and the movement to privatize public schools, and included a mini-filibuster by Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R), who began reading the 380-page federal law on the Senate floor to forestall a vote.

“We want to ensure Maryland doesn’t become a Michigan,” Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), said referring to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ push for charter schools in her home state.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that requires the state to reimburse Planned Parenthood for health-care services it provides if Congress cuts federal funding for the organization.

If Hogan signs the measure, Maryland would become the first state in the country to address the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood.

“Today we made sure that no matter what happens in Washington, Maryland will ensure that all women have access to health services, especially those who have historically faced barriers to quality health care,” said Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), the bill sponsor.
Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor has consistently funded health care organizations in his budget but hasn’t taken a position on the legislation. This year, the federal government provided $2.7 million in reimbursements to Planned Parenthood offices in Maryland.

The Senate also gave preliminary approval Tuesday to substantial changes it made in Hogan’s plan to increase manufacturing jobs in distressed areas of the state, including Baltimore City, Allegany and Worcester counties.

The House and Senate passed an amended version of the governor’s $43 billion operating budget, which moves next to the governor’s desk.

The revised budget restores nearly two-thirds of the $116 million in annual spending requirements that Hogan had proposed trimming, including $8.4 million to increase state reimbursement rates for care providers who work with the developmentally disabled; $5 million for college scholarships for students from poor school districts; $3 million to extend library hours in Baltimore; and $6 million in local aid for that city and other jurisdictions that receive relatively little revenue from income taxes.

The budget also restores $3 million to help cover the cost of giving new teachers additional hours to be mentored, plan lessons and observe more experienced teachers; and to provide extra pay to educators who meet national teaching standards.

The legislature approved $82.5 million of the combined $95 million that the governor requested in two supplemental budgets, including all of the $28 million he requested to help schools in Baltimore and other jurisdictions with declining enrollment. The plans also boost funding for neighborhood revitalization, community colleges, combating the heroin and opioid epidemic and economic-development initiatives.

Lawmakers deferred $2 million of the state’s $51 million in mandatory funding for the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center until fiscal 2019. Hogan’s plan would have delayed $15 million for later years.

Tuesday’s budget votes marked the second straight year of the Hogan administration that the Democratic-majority legislature has passed a spending plan with relative ease. In Hogan’s first year in office, 2015, the deliberations dragged on until the final hours of the legislative session, with lawmakers ultimately refusing to fund some of the governor’s requests and Hogan vowing not to release money they had earmarked for their priorities.

“I really felt this year, for the first time, that his staff was more hands-on in terms of working with the budget committee,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore).

The fiscal plan leaves about $1 billion in reserves, including $860 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Senate unanimously approved two bills aimed at addressing the state’s opioid addiction through treatment and education.

One of the bills would establish at least 10 crisis-treatment centers and request an increase in funding to expand drug-court programs. The other would require public schools to keep overdose-reversal drugs on hand, allow school nurses to give the drug and require colleges to educate incoming students about substance abuse.

The measures are now headed to the House.

A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that 34 percent of Maryland residents have a family member or close friend who is addicted to prescription pain pills or heroin.

via Washington Post

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PGCPS Student (Dennis Taylor) Shot, Killed in Prince George’s County.

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Dennis Taylor

A 15-year-old boy a student in Prince George’s County public schools has been shot and killed in Prince George’s County, Maryland, county police said.

Officers were called to the shooting in the 2200 block of Columbia Place in Landover about 9:40 p.m., police said. They found the boy with a gunshot wound to the upper body.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they recovered a handgun from the scene.

The grandmother has identified the victim to the press as her 15-year-old grandson Dennis Taylor.

According to WUSA9, the grandmother said, Dennis was her whole heart.

He was shot just a few doors down from his house on Columbia Place in Landover, Md. Neighbors say they heard three gunshots around 9:40 Saturday night.

Brianna Williams said Taylor was walking to a family cookout when he received a text and turned around to go home.

“He just said, ‘no I’m not going to come no more’, and then he left, right there,” she said.

Just a few minutes later he was shot.

Karren Forges lives on the same block. She is a trained nurse and rushed to give the boy CPR.

She said he wasn’t alive by the time she got to him.

“I’m not the doctor, I didn’t feel a pulse, so I initiated CPR, trying to bring him back with us,” Forges said.

Forges says she was disappointed the paramedics didn’t use a defibrillator, but the paramedics said the boy was pronounced dead when they arrived.

Dennis Taylor was known among friends as “lil chic.”

Until last month, he was a student at Brookland Middle School.

Wendy Hamilton, an attendance councilor at the school, went to pay her respects with the family Sunday.

She said Taylor was popular, especially with the girls. She said he was known to everyone.

“I want him to know, that he will be so deeply missed,” she said. “I’m sure he knows that but, it’s going to be hard tomorrow. We’re going to get grief councilors on site.”

Taylor’s mother was too upset to talk.  He was the second oldest of four boys.

Linda Taylor described her grandson as her main heart.

“I lost my one, my baby,” she said.

Prince George’s County Police say they don’t believe the shooting was random. Police recovered a gun at the scene. Investigators are searching for anyone involved in the shooting and a motive for the crime.

The Taylor family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover the cost of funeral expenses. They are planning a vigil for Monday night.

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Nearly 1 in 3 Marylanders say corruption is a big problem in state government

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Maryland General Assembly leaders – Senate President. Thomas V. Mike. Miller, Jr (left) and Michael E. Busch, speaker of the House of Delegates, (right), Mr. Busch is the longest-serving Marylander at the head of the House of Delegates.

Nearly a third of Maryland residents see corruption as a major problem in state government, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, a perception that coincides with a push by lawmakers and Gov. Larry Hogan to strengthen ethics laws.

The House of Delegates gave final approval Friday to compromise legislation crafted by Hogan (R) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) that would increase financial disclosure requirements and expand the definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest.

The legislation — part of an effort to address a string of scandals involving Democratic lawmakers — will now be considered in the Senate.

State lawmakers are also negotiating bills to overhaul the structure of the Prince George’s County liquor board, an agency at the center of a federal corruption probe that resulted in bribery charges against two former delegates from Prince George’s earlier this year.

A third Democrat, who had been chosen to fill an empty seat in the House of Delegates, lost that position after he was indicted for illegal campaign contributions. And Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) received a rare public reprimand from his House colleagues for violating the spirit of ethics laws by taking stances on the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry without publicly making clear that he was a consultant for a marijuana-related business.

The Post-U-Md. poll finds stark regional differences in concern about corruption in both Annapolis and in local government. A 57 percent majority of Baltimore City residents say corruption in state government is a big problem, compared with 22 percent of residents in Montgomery County and 32 percent of Marylanders overall. In 2004, 27 percent of Maryland residents said they were concerned about statewide corruption. Among likely voters in 2002, the figure was 37 percent.

A smaller 24 percent of Marylanders say corruption is a big problem in their own jurisdiction. Concerns peak at 59 percent in Baltimore City and 39 percent in Prince George’s County. Major concerns about county-level corruption fall to 21 percent in Baltimore County, 17 percent among residents of Anne Arundel or Howard counties and 9 percent in Montgomery.

corruption.jpgIndia Patterson, who lives in the Prince George’s town of Brentwood, said she was floored by the recent charges against former delegates Michael L. Vaughn (D) and William A. Campos (D), especially since they came from her county, which has been dogged by high-profile corruption cases.

“It’s an embarrassment,” said Patterson, a 39-year-old health-care worker. “Prince George’s has come so far but yet we are still so behind.”Federal authorities have accused Vaughn, Campos, the liquor board administrator and an appointed commissioner of accepting or arranging bribes for actions relating to liquor laws or board decisions.

In response to the case, Hogan proposed legislation to cut local party officials from the process of choosing liquor board commissioners, while requiring the regulators to undergo criminal background checks.

State lawmakers did not take action on the governor’s proposal, but are advancing alternative bills that would subject liquor inspectors, commissioners and board staff to more stringent public ethics laws.

Legislators agree in their proposals that the Prince George’s county executive should appoint the commissioners, instead of the governor. They are negotiating whether state senators should still have a say.

While that debate is ongoing, lawmakers are on the verge of passing a revised version of Hogan’s Public Integrity Act, which is aimed at closing gaps in state ethics laws exposed by the ethics committee investigation and subsequent House reprimand of Morhaim.

The longtime lawmaker urged marijuana regulators to change rules affecting the medical marijuana industry without fully disclosing he had become affiliated with a cannabis company, and also spoke out on marijuana issues in the legislature without making his work for the company known to fellow lawmakers.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics found no violations of disclosure rules or evidence that Morhaim intentionally tried to use his public office to his financial advantage, but nevertheless concluded his actions were improper and tarnished the legislative body’s reputation.

The bill tentatively approved by the House on Thursday would make similar conduct by lawmakers illegal, not just improper. If passed, the legislation would require lawmakers to disclose any arrangements in which they are being paid or will be paid by companies vying for state licenses or awards.stategovtcorruptionLawmakers are generally barred from taking legislative action on bills that could have a direct financial benefit to them or their employer, and the ethics committee criticized Morhaim for asking the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to change the rules for awarding licenses to companies in a way that could have benefited Doctor’s Orders.

The bill awaiting final action in the House expands the definition of legislative action to include testimony before state regulators.“As we went through some issues this year with the ethics committee, I believe there were some things that we could do a little bit better,” Busch said at a hearing on his ethics bill, which has since been merged with the governor’s. “There’s got to be more transparency.”

The legislation makes comprehensive financial disclosures filed by lawmakers available online, instead of requiring an in-person trip to the State Ethics Commission in Annapolis. Those who view the filings still must provide their name and home address, which are forwarded to lawmakers whose disclosures have been viewed.

The legislature rejected several ethics provisions pushed by Hogan’s administration, including stripping the General Assembly of the power to police its members’ adherence to ethics rules.

“If legislators are not policing ourselves, there’s accountability at the polling place,” state Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) said at a hearing on Hogan’s bill.

As a compromise, Democrats agreed to create a citizen advisory panel that could recommend changes to legislative ethics laws and policies but would have no investigatory power.

“Is it as strong we wanted? No. That doesn’t mean that the bill going forward won’t do a lot of good for the people of the state in helping to restore some of that trust that was lost,” Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said. “With the very public indictments and ethical lapses that have occurred over the last couple of months, something needed to get done.”

Stacy Fraser, who lives in Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s, said the recent corruption cases have left her focused more on candidates’ characters than their political affiliations.

“It’s not about the party anymore,” said Fraser, 41. “It’s the person and what their intentions are.”

Via Washington Post Annapolis-State-House-MD-flag

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Downtown Annapolis – Maryland

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Unresolved slains of current and former PGCPS Students creates a troubling trend for the county.

allyssabanks_1477532715701_6644749_ver1-0The 18-year-old Maryland woman killed in a double shooting in October was the victim of an attempted robbery, according to Prince George’s County police.

Authorities released additional details Thursday on the motive behind the slaying of Allyssa Banks, including a sketch they say depicts the man who shot the young woman and her boyfriend.

Banks and her boyfriend were returning to their car after an evening out early Oct. 19 near Swiss Gap and Prince Place in Largo when someone with a gun approached, police said. Both were shot. Banks’s boyfriend survived the shooting, but Banks died at a hospital.

Banks was attending Prince George’s Community College and dreamed of becoming an EMT, said her mother, Lydia Banks. She pleaded with the public to come forward if they have any information about the sketch police released or information in her daughter’s case.

“I’m just prayerful that anything that is given at this time is a hope,” she said. “It weighs heavily on me.”

The young woman’s death devastated students and staff at Largo High School, where she had recently graduated and served as student body president. She is the second of three Largo High School students or alumni who have been fatally shot in the past year. The most recent occurred Monday when 18-year-old Ayana McAllister, a college student home on spring break, was slain while watching a music video being filmed in the District. Last March, 15-year-old Davonte Washington was killed at the Deanwood Metro station while waiting for a train with his mother and younger sisters.

McAllister’s death renewed a flood of anguish for Lydia Banks, particularly since McAllister was the same age as her daughter and the teens went to school together. She hopes county authorities and the police look into why so many students connected to the school have been senselessly shot.

“This past week, it has been so hard because it brought back everything from that initial day,” Lydia Banks said of McAllister’s killing. “My heart just dropped tremendously. My heart hurts equally for those parents.”

A reward of up to $25,000 is available for information leading to an arrest and indictment in Allyssa Banks’s slaying. Authorities are asking anyone with information to call 866-411-TIPS, and callers can remain anonymous.

Via Washington Postimage

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