Monthly Archives: May 2018

Alsobrooks campaign challenged to acknowledge and return special interest donations

 

Ms. Angela Alsobrooks (Left) was mentored by Mr. Jack Johnson (Right).

BY

“If Angela Alsobrooks is concerned about voters learning the truth about who’s funding her campaign, then we believe she would have less to worry about if she simply stops taking money from these special interest groups, and gives the money back that she’s already taken,” Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford Jr. said.


For Immediate Release:

Progressive Maryland Calls on Angela Alsobrooks Campaign to End Practice of Taking Developer Money inHer Campaign for Prince George’s Executive.

May 24th, 2018

PM_Logo.png Today on May 24, 2018, Progressive Maryland issued a call to the Angela Alsobrooks campaign to cease accepting contributions from developers, their attorneys, and their lobbyists. The organization is also demanding that the Alsobrooks campaign return any contributions she has already accepted by May 30th 2018. Progressive Maryland is giving the Alsobrooks campaign three days to issue a response to this request.

This comes as a response to the recent press conference held by Alsobrooks and her allies on May 16th, 2018 in which Alsobrooks and allies attacked the coalition of organizations making up the We Are Prince George’s PAC after a series of direct mail pieces exposed her close ties to real estate and development interests.

Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford Jr. issued the following statement.

“If Angela Alsobrooks is concerned about voters learning the truth about who’s funding her campaign, then we believe she would have less to worry about if she simply stops taking money from these special interest groups, and gives the money back that she’s already taken. Instead Alsobrooks has decided to attack the public education efforts of groups that represent thousands of ordinary working class Prince Georgians. If the Angela Alsobrooks campaign would like to show residents of Prince George’s County that she will be accountable to them and not corporate interests, then she has three days to respond and until May 30th to return these contributions and pledge to run a clean money campaign.”

“In recent days the campaign finance reports for many candidates across Prince George’s County were made public. Like election cycles before, wealthy land developers, large corporations, and highly paid lobbyists have donated large sums of campaign cash to candidates for County Council and County Executive. Angela Alsobrooks has already received over $300,000 in contributions from developers and their allies. It appears she is continuing in this pattern with her most recent report, with nearly another $300,000 raised since the first report in January. Prince George’s County has dealt with several recent pay-to-play scandals that have resulted in arrests and prison sentences for County elected officials with the most notable being Alsobrooks’ mentor, former County Executive Jack Johnson, who was recently released from prison for accepting bribes from parties including developers.

“The pay-to-play culture in Prince George’s has resulted in low quality economic development as well as money wasted in the form of tax breaks and other financial incentives for wealthy corporate interests. Instead of cash bribes, special interest groups often choose to give campaign contributions as a way of winning favor with County officials — and they receive favorable treatment as a result. Angela Alsobrooks is merely continuing this cycle of pay-to-play politics unless she makes the decision to stop taking these contributions and to give back the money she’s received,” Stafford declared.

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Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford Jr. (left) knows the inside scoope properly and has called on Alsobrook to end the pay-to-play culture in Prince George’s which has resulted in low quality economic development as well as money wasted in the form of tax breaks and other financial incentives for wealthy corporate interests. Alsobrooks’ mentor, former County Executive Jack Johnson,  was recently released from prison for accepting bribes from parties including developers.

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Former liquor board director sentenced to 5 years in Prince George’s bribery scandal

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A handful of FBI agents closed and searched the Prince George’s office of the Board of License Commissioners On Jan. 5, 2017. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

By Lynh Bui

David Son was the linchpin. He facilitated the meetings, he supervised the cash drops and he set up the votes. Without him, prosecutors say, there wouldn’t have been a cash-for-votes scheme that yet again put Prince George’s County in the center of a corruption scandal.

At his sentencing hearing in federal court Thursday, the former director of the Prince George’s County liquor board owned up to his wrongdoings — including upending the ongoing investigation by tipping off others being scrutinized by the FBI — saying his actions were egregious and embarrassing.

“I knew I messed up in a huge way,” said Son, before a judge sentenced him to five years in prison for a bribery scheme that involved payoffs to politicians in exchange for help with legislation that would expand liquor sales in the county.

Son, 42, of Bowie, pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice last year. In addition to facilitating bribes to elected officials, Son also skimmed more than $86,000 in payments for himself over about five years starting in 2012.

Seven others have pleaded guilty or were convicted in the federal probe, including former Prince George’s County Council member and Maryland delegate William A. Campos (D) and former delegate Michael L. Vaughn (D).

“He brings in the buyers, he brings in the sellers,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said of Son. “There’s no cash for votes without Mr. Son.”

Son was the reason the conspiracy started, but he also was eventually why the government’s investigation into the wide-reaching scheme ended, prosecutors said. Son had initially agreed to work as a government informant after the FBI confronted him with his wrongdoing. But the investigation ended abruptly after he tipped off people being investigated about the probe, including one person who fled the country and has escaped prosecution, the government said.

Son wrote a letter to an investigative target, warning the person he had been “taken” by the “Feds” and was “wired,” according to his plea agreement. The letter also included information on others the FBI was monitoring and others who were cooperating with the government.

Though Son received the stiffest sentence so far of the eight people arrested in what federal investigators called “Operation Dry Saloon,” it was a year short of the six-year sentencing the government had requested.

Son spent nearly 10 minutes in court talking about his work at a service station, moonlighting as a Lyft driver, going to church and volunteering as a way to make a difference borne of his remorse. He also talked about how he went into his family’s garage and stepped into his car in an attempt to take his own life after his arrest, but stopped when he heard his newborn daughter’s cries.

“I feel this pain every day,” Son said. “I have nightmares about this every day.”

U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis said Son’s crimes were in many ways the most severe of those in the broad investigation, but Son’s transformation after his arrest has also been the most dramatic. She praised Son for taking ownership of his serious offenses instead of minimizing them as actions that were “foolish” or a “mistake.”

Last week, Xinis expressed frustration at Campos’s sentencing, saying his attorneys engaged in a “consistent and persistent minimization” of the former councilman’s actions.

The crimes of “others weren’t as egregious,” Xinis said to Son, “but neither was their acceptance” of what they had done when it came to explain themselves at sentencing.

Son’s attorney, Edward T. Kang, said he respects the court’s sentence.

“As demonstrated at today’s hearing, Mr. Son has fully accepted responsibility for his conduct,” Kang said. “He looks forward to continuing his path towards rehabilitation and returning to being a productive member of society.”

In the related cases, a jury convicted Vaughn of conspiracy and bribery in March for taking more than $100,000 from liquor store owners in exchange for votes on legislation to expand Sunday liquor sales. Campos was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for taking more than $40,000 in kickbacks. Campos funneled government money dedicated to nonprofits to those who agreed to pay him and accepted bribes to perform other official acts, the government said.

Via Washington Post

Read more >>> Prince George’s liquor board director tried to sabotage bribery probe, prosecutors say

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David Son (seen here) had been wearing a wire and providing recordings to federal investigators.

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Maryland parents battle with school districts to get special education services for their children

Still0524_00000_1527135222590_5575694_ver1.0_640_360By: Lindsay Watts

 – Raising a child who has a disability or learning disorder is difficult enough, but some parents say they are having to go to battle with their school district to get special education services.

Even more troubling, research shows there is an unequal playing field for parents who don’t have an attorney.

Tracy Sherman is one woman who took on the system and won. She says third grade was a struggle for her daughter, Jaelynn, who attends Rosa Parks Middle School in Prince George’s County.

“She would come home very frustrated,” Sherman said. “She would say, ‘I’m dumb, I’m stupid.’ She tried to hurt herself because there was so much frustration.”

She says what really wasn’t adding up was her daughter’s stellar report cards.

“She would bring home D’s and Es on tests and her report cards were all A’s and B’s,” said Sherman, who showed FOX 5 the report cards and honor roll certificates.

Sherman knew her daughter needed an individualized education plan or IEP. She says she was surprised.

when the school system was reluctant to test Jaelynn.

“We were denied several times until we obtained a lawyer,” she said.

When the test finally happened, Sherman realized Jaelynn wasn’t tested appropriately. Sherman appealed to the Maryland State Department of Education and won. According to the state investigation, a violation occurred.

“MSDE finds that the (Prince George’s County) IEP team did not assess the student in all areas of need,” reads the report. It goes on to say that “the IEP team’s decision that the student did not have a disability in May 2017 was inconsistent with the data.”

Now in fourth grade, Jaelyn finally has the right services.

“But it took all the money, all the lawyers, all the eyes on them to get them to do anything,” said Sherman.

Anne Arundel County mother Sarah Davis can relate to expensive legal battles. She also hired an attorney because she believes her daughter, Lilli, needs additional help at school due to her dyslexia.

As a military family, Davis says Lilli received a lot more support at her prior school in Texas.

“The interventions that she was receiving included reading and writing tutoring as well as speech therapy, occupational therapy and some other types of interventions,” Davis said. “When we got here, they retested her and they removed most of those supports from her IEP.”

The school’s test didn’t show Lilli needed that extra help, so Davis requested Anne Arundel County Public Schools do an outside evaluation.

“They paid over $30,000 to take Lilli to court and deny that evaluation,” Davis said.

An open records act request shows Anne Arundel County Public Schools paid more than $30,000 in legal fees just on Lilli’s case. In turn, the Davis family have also racked up their own legal bills.

“It’s very costly, but the alternative is that our daughter doesn’t get the interventions that she needs,” Davis said.

Federal law requires public schools to provide a free and appropriate education to eligible students with disabilities. Plus, schools must find and evaluate students at no cost to parents.

Sherman and Davis both wonder if it’s been this hard for them, what about the parents who don’t know their rights and can’t afford a lawyer?

University of Maryland professor Margaret McLaughlin specializes in special education and says that issue is a major problem.

“Research is really very clear that parents who have a lawyer, who go file a complaint and go further and have a lawyer are twice or more likely to get whatever it is they are asking for as parents who go through the same process without a lawyer,” McLaughlin said.

She says there shouldn’t be these inequities where poorer or less knowledgeable families are at a disadvantage. McLaughlin says there are some new strategies in education to help parents through the process without paying expensive legal fees.

There are education advocates who help parents avoid attorneys fees. Below are some resources for Maryland parents:

– Disability Rights Maryland: disabilityrightsmd.org
– The Parents’ Place of Maryland: www.ppmd.org
– Loud Voices Together: www.loudvoicestogether.org

Both Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County Public Schools say they can’t comment on individual student cases.

Prince George’s County Public Schools provided this statement saying:

“Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will move forward with additional training, guidance and monitoring to ensure that any child in need of special education services receives the appropriate supports. There will be systemic training in June and August to reinforce the identification process for special education services. The Department of Special Education will also monitor schools monthly for the timely identification, evaluation and placement process for students with disabilities. It is important to note that our population of students served in special education is in line with national averages. We are committed to providing every child with the tools they need for success.”

Anne Arundel County Public Schools said in a statement:

“Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), either the parent/guardian or the local education agency may request mediation and/or a due process hearing to resolve a formal dispute. In some cases, a school system may be required by state and federal law to request a due process hearing in response to a parent request. A decision to proceed to a due process hearing is not commonplace and is not taken lightly. Such decisions are very fact specific and dependent on both the request and the best interests of the student.”

Via Fox5DC

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Politicians on Business Jets Could Land in Hot Water

810taxes_pol-on-board2.pngBy Jeff Wieand

Maybe you’re an aircraft owner who’d like to offer transportation to a political candidate you support. Or perhaps you’re a candidate who wants to grab a ride on a friend’s business jet. Either way, you’d be well advised to do some homework first, regarding the federal and state rules that apply to such flights.

A candidate’s trip on a private or corporate aircraft can constitute acceptance of illicit campaign contributions or gifts, and the fallout can be harsh, especially since non-compliance with the rules can attract the attention not only of regulators but of the media. During the months before the last U.S. presidential election, for example, a New York Times story questioned whether Rick Perry’s $21,000 payment was sufficient for use of a Citation X belonging to a Texas businessman (described by the paper as “under investigation by federal securities regulators”). The Times obtained a $60,000 estimate from a third-party charter operator for the same flights that Perry took, raising the issue of whether he was in effect receiving a significant unreported campaign contribution.

Since 2016 is another presidential election year, companies and politicians across the U.S. are struggling again with the complicated rules for carrying candidates for public office and their associates on private jets. The complexity begins with determining to whom the rules apply, because they variously relate to elected officials, family members, campaign staffers, reporters, security personnel, leaders of political action committees, and others. Further, the rules vary depending on whether the aircraft is private, commercial, or government-owned. Finally, you can’t pay attention to just one set of rules; there are many sets of rules, which aren’t always consistent and which keep changing.

The Federal Election Act of 1971 governs what candidates for federal office must pay for private air transportation. The Act was amended by the so-called Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which took effect in 2007, but the Federal Election Commission caused considerable confusion for candidates and aircraft owners by failing to follow up with new regulations until 2010.

The FEC rules prohibit candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from using campaign funds to pay for travel on aircraft not operated on a commercial certificate, which basically bars them from accepting free travel on private aircraft unless operated by a charter company. (The rules generously allow the House candidates to use campaign funds to pay for flights on their own aircraft or those of family members, as well as aircraft owned by the federal or a state government.) On the other hand, candidates for more illustrious offices—president, vice president, and senator—are simply required to reimburse the flight provider at the normal and usual charter fare (or rental charge) for the trip on comparable aircraft. Thus, the FEC no longer allows reimbursement to be calculated based on scheduled first-class or coach service.

The FEC views all elected officials as candidates, which isn’t entirely unrealistic, and requires them to file reports about air travel with the Commission within seven days after the trip. In addition, the FEC requires aircraft operators to maintain records that show what candidates they transported on what dates and between what locations. If more than one candidate is on the same flight, the rules allow for expenses to be shared pro rata.

To see how this would work, suppose Bill and Bob, two candidates for the U.S. Senate, fly in Mr. Smith’s Gulfstream G450 from Teterboro, New Jersey to Chicago and back. Bill brings along two campaign officials, while Bob flies alone. Let’s assume the round-trip flight time is four hours. Mr. Smith’s aircraft isn’t on a charter certificate, but a typical G450 charter rate at Teterboro, including the fuel surcharge, is approximately $7,000 an hour, so Bill and Bob would have to pay $28,000 for the trip. (If charter rates for a G450 weren’t available, the candidates could look to rates for “comparable” models.) They would then share the cost in a ratio of 3:1, based on the number of passengers traveling for each campaign.

This brings us to the next layer of regulation. The IRS regards the flights as “commercial” for tax purposes because the candidates are paying Mr. Smith, who has what the IRS calls “possession, command, and control” of the aircraft. Consequently, the candidates would also have to pay the 7.5 percent transportation excise tax, which adds $2,132 to the cost of the trip when the $4 segment fee is included.

Because the candidates are paying Mr. Smith, the flight is “commercial” for FAA purposes as well. But remember that Mr. Smith’s G450 isn’t on an FAA charter certificate; he is operating the aircraft under Part 91, which doesn’t generally permit payments for flights. Fortunately for Mr. Smith, the FAA recognized that federal law required candidates and campaign travelers for federal office to pay for flights on aircraft operated under Part 91, and it created a regulatory exception to permit such payments—in an amount not to exceed what the FEC requires. Note that if Mr. Smith’s aircraft were on a charter certificate, the FAA would expect him to operate (and charge for) the flights under Part 135, and FEC rules would allow candidates for the House to fly on his aircraft as well.

FAA rules also permit state and local candidates to pay for air transportation to the extent required by applicable state or local law. Reimbursement may be prohibited if the flight isn’t specifically for a campaign, such as travel by an elected official on the business of the political party, notwithstanding what ethics rules or applicable law require.

Many government agencies, including both the U.S. House and Senate, have enacted ethics rules regarding the conduct of members who pay for air travel. These rules apply only to elected officials, not to candidates who aren’t already serving. The main  questions raised by such rules are:

• Am I allowed to fly on privateor non-commercial aircraft?

• If so, do the rules require that I pay for the flight?

• And if so, does the FAA permit me to make the payment?

The House rules, for example, prohibit members from using official, personal, or campaign funds to pay for use of non-commercial aircraft. An exception applies for certain flights “provided on the basis of personal friendship” when House business or campaign activity isn’t the purpose of the trip, but even then the member must in most cases get permission from the Committee on House Administration.

The consequences of failing to comply with the rules for carrying elected officials and candidates vary widely. The aircraft owner can be fined by the FAA, which could also ground the aircraft. For candidates, federal and state penalties include fines (the FEC helps out with a “fine calculator” at fec.gov) and even imprisonment for egregious violations. For many candidates, though, the biggest penalty can be the negative publicity and the impact on their electability that can result from violations. It’s worth paying attention.FAA_Logo.5aabef01563d7

Prince George’s County pastor, 2 others sexually abused teens in church program, police say

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Donald Jackson (left), Joshua Wright (center) and William Wright (right) have been charged with child abuse and varying sex offenses, according to Prince George’s County Police Department.

 – A Prince George’s County pastor and two other men have been charged with sexually abusing teenage girls in an at-risk youth program at a church, according to officials.

Prince George’s County police said the three men, 67-year-old Joshua Wright of Brandywine, 40-year-old Donald Jackson of White Plains and 46-year-old William Wright of White Plains, sexually abused four females between the ages of 15 and 18 at a program run by the Oxon Hill Assembly of Jesus Christ in Fort Washington from 2001 to 2008.

Joshua Wright is the head pastor at Oxon Hill Assembly of Jesus Christ, according to officials. William Wright is Joshua Wright’s son and was a minister at the church, detectives stated. Court records state William Wright is also an officer with U.S. Capitol Police. According to police, Jackson is Joshua Wright’s son-in-law and a leading member of the church.

Authorities said the program was called “CHOP,” which stood for Children Having Overcoming Power, and was designed to provide living accommodations in the homes of church members and education classes at the church for at-risk youth. The CHOP program ended in 2011.

Investigators said the sexual abuse occurred at multiple locations, including the suspects’ homes, various parks and at the church. The suspects have all been charged with child abuse and varying sex offenses.

Detectives encouraged others who may have encountered any form of sexual abuse when they were enrolled in the CHOP program to come forward.

Anyone with information that could aid detectives in their investigation was urged to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Unit at (301) 772-4930.

Via Fox5dc

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Jazz Musician Wynton Marsalis Says Hip-Hop is “More damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee”

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Capehart/The Washington Post

Wynton Marsalis has some choice words on rap and hip-hop.

In the latest episode of Washington Post podcast Cape Up with Jonathan Capehart, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis said he believes rap and hip-hop are “more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”

The 56-year-old trumpeter and composer who is currently the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center expressed his long-standing critique of rap music.

“I started saying in 1985 I don’t think we should have a music talking about niggers and bitches and hoes. It had no impact. I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it,” he said. “To me, that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”

READ: Activists Who Tore Down Durham Confederate Statue Cleared of Charges

Alongside his his antipathy to rap and hip-hop and the damage he believes the genre and culture inflicts on black Americans, the musician also spoke on his role in New Orleans’s removal of Confederate statues last year. “I feel that that’s much more of a racial issue than taking Robert E. Lee’s statue down,” Marsalis said. “There’s more niggers in that than there is in Robert E. Lee’s statue.”

In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for music in with his vocal and orchestral rumination on slavery, “Blood on the Fields.”

READThis Is Black America: Donald Glover’s Wake-Up Call

When asked his thoughts on Childish Gambino‘s “This Is America,” he said, “I applaud his creativity and what he’s doing. From a social standpoint, it’s hard to decry a thing that you depict. That’s difficult.”

In response to Kanye West‘s comments earlier this month arguing black people chose to be enslaved, Marsalis said, “I think Kanye West makes products. He’s going to put his product out, and he wants his product to sell. I would not give seriousness to what he said, in that way.”

He continued, “It’s not like Martin Luther King said it, a person who knows or is conscious of a certain thing. … [H]e’s entitled to whatever it is he wants to say. The quality of his thought is in the products he makes.”

Listen to the full podcast episode below:

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Maryland rehires firm for longer inquiry into Prince George’s schools

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Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of Prince George’s schools, has announced he will leave his post. The Maryland school district has faced a string of scandals, including an audit that found nearly 5,500 grade changes in the days before commencement in 2016 and 2017. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

By Donna St. George

Maryland education officials plan to rehire a firm that investigated grade-tampering allegations in Prince George’s County public schools for a second, longer review that will examine records for the Class of 2018 and other diploma-related issues.

The State Board of Education voted Tuesday to tap Alvarez & Marsal to look into practices involving attendance, grade changes, course makeup work, records access and graduation as part of a review that would last six months — far longer than the seven weeks allotted for the first examination.

The D.C. firm will also evaluate a plan to correct problems found during the first review. Prince George’s officials had pledged in a 40-page proposal to tighten controls on student records, add training for employees, upgrade technology to improve graduation certification and make changes to a program that allows students to recover from failing grades.

The board’s action comes three weeks after Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of Prince George’s schools, announced he would be leaving Maryland’s second-largest school system amid a string of scandals. He has said he will depart some time after the end of the school year.

“With the change in leadership in Prince George’s County, this is ideal, a real opportunity to make sure that we have a clean slate here, to move forward and have the state feel comfortable that what’s happening on graduation is what we expect — meeting state policy, meeting local policy,” said Andrew Smarick, president of the state board.

A follow-up audit was not unexpected. At a board meeting a few months ago, members supported several major oversight measures, including the additional audit and the assignment of a state employee to monitor district efforts to correct course.

State officials said the projected six-month duration of the new investigation was an estimate. They said they expected a contract will be finalized in 30 to 45 days.

Prince George’s school district officials said Tuesday they had not received information on the state board’s action and had no comment. When the issue of another audit was raised by the state in February, a district spokesman said Maxwell had proposed the same thing as part of the district’s corrective action plan, to ensure academic integrity.

The first audit found nearly 5,500 grade changes in the days before commencement in 2016 and 2017. A sampling of records showed that about 30 percent of students with late grade changes lacked documentation justifying graduation or were clearly ineligible, according to the report.

State board members had questioned Prince George’s officials at length on the audit findings and how they would be fixed.

Maxwell has said the district’s graduation-rate scandal did not result from central office orders and pointed out that the first audit did not find evidence of systemwide fraud or intimidation.

Smarick sounded a brighter note Tuesday.

“The whole process has been discouraging, the things that we learned the first time around, but I’m pretty optimistic about this,” he said. “I think we can learn some good things from the second phase, and I think it will help not just Prince George’s County but hopefully the rest of the state.”

Problems in graduation rates came to light last year, when members of a school board minority bloc said in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) that whistleblowers had come forward with evidence of tampering with grades and credit counts to inflate graduation rates.

Edward Burroughs III, a member of the bloc and critic of Maxwell, applauded the extended timeframe of the new audit. The earlier review “missed a lot,” he said. “I think this will be more thorough.”

Burroughs said he thought that with Maxwell leaving, more employees would step forward.

A spokeswoman for Hogan said the governor supported the state board action “to ensure that Prince George’s County students aren’t being cheated out of the education they deserve, and that wrongdoing — especially by those in positions of authority — is exposed.”

Graduation rates were a signature accomplishment for Maxwell, who was given a second contract as CEO in February 2017. He is expected to step down with roughly three years left on his contract. The NAACP and others in Prince George’s oppose a major payout to Maxwell.

The audit is expected to be paid for with money left over from the Maryland State Department of Education’s fiscal year 2018 budget allocation.

Alvarez & Marsal is the same firm that conducted an investigation of graduation rates in D.C. Public Schools, finding that one in three graduates missed too many classes or improperly took makeup classes last year, undermining the validity of hundreds of diplomas.

Via Washington Post   <<>>Read more >> Fox5DC

In a statement, Hogan’s spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said:

“Our administration is committed to ensuring all Maryland children have access to a world-class education, and that our school system is truly accountable to our citizens. Governor Hogan supports action by the State Board of Education to ensure that Prince George’s County students aren’t being cheated out of the education they deserve, and that wrongdoing – especially by those in positions of authority – is exposed.  The governor joins with parents, teachers, the Prince George’s County NAACP, the county delegation, and numerous local elected officials in demanding a transparent and accountable school system.”

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PGCPS charter school teacher charged with sexually abusing teen student

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Simeon Smith (Photo: Prince George’s County Police Department)

 – A teacher in Prince George’s County has been charged with sexually abusing a teenage student on school grounds, police said.

According to police, an investigation found 31-year-old Simeon Smith inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl several times between February and April at Imagine Foundations at Morningside Public Charter School.

Police said Smith has admitted to sexually abusing the girl.

Smith is a teacher at the school, officials said.

The Waldorf man has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor, third-degree sex offense and other related charges.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Unit at 301-772-4930. Anonymous callers can contact Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), online at www.pgcrimesolvers.com or use the “P3 Tips” mobile app.

Via Fox5DC

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Maryland Republican Party releases video mocking Democratic field for governor ahead of first TV debate

By Luke Broadwater

Hours before the Democratic candidates for governor were set to square off in their first televised debate, the Maryland Republican Party released an online video mocking the entire field.

Called “Uninspired,” the video depicts the Democratic candidates for governor — a crowded field that includes Ivy League grads, accomplished lawyers, veteran lawmakers and a Rhodes Scholar — as boring bumblers.

“These debates should come with a viewer warning message; ‘Be advised prolonged exposure will result in extreme boredom and likely deep sleep,’” Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire said in a news release.

The ad takes particular aim at three candidates: Krish Vignarajah, a former policy advisor to Michelle Obama, for allegedly not living in Maryland long enough to run for governor; Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, for drawing a relatively small turnout to a rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders; and author Alec Ross, for his opening comments at a previous forum.

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“The candidates will be forced to contend with the toughest questions like, ‘Where do you live?” the ad says, cutting to Vignarajah. “’How many Bernie Sanders supporters does it take to fill the corner of a basketball court?’” it adds, cutting to Jealous. “Who the heck are you anyway?” it says, showing Ross struggling through an opening statement at a forum.

The ad relies, in part, on material from a Washington Post article depicting apathetic voter response thus far to the Democratic field.

Monday is the first of five scheduled debates in the Maryland Democratic primary race.

The hour-long WBAL-Maryland Public Television debate is to be taped in the morning and aired at 7 p.m. Monday. Candidates will have 90 seconds to introduce themselves and then field questions in a moderated debate.

The crowded field is scheduled to have one televised debate per week over the next five weeks until the June 26 primary.

The winner will face incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who has raised more money than all the Democratic combined in the field.

Kathleen Matthews, chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, responded in a statement saying Republicans must be scared of her party’s candidates.

“Clearly Larry Hogan and his Republican Party are running scared because the strong Democratic field is highlighting all the ways he has shortchanged Maryland and energized voters are listening,” she said.

via Baltimore Sun

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Community in Shock and disbelief as Washington Post endorses Rushern Baker III for Governor in the midst of bad governance!

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Newspapers have been endorsing candidates for public offices since at least 1860, when The New York Times supported “Mr. Lincoln, of Illinois, familiarly known as ‘Old Abe.’” That’s part of what newspapers do. Sometimes they are wrong as done in the case of Rushern Baker III shown above.

On May 19, the Editorial Board wrote and published an editorial endorsing Rushern Baker III for Governor of Maryland. Wow! Reaction came like a shock wave. From the phone calls and emails coming into our blog requesting us to say something, you would think we had burst into a Catholic church during Mass and accused the pope of high crimes and malfeasance. What Washington Post thinks is a well-reasoned stance on a critical political issue is actually flat-out offensive to a significant number of readers and community members based on what has transpired under Rushern Baker III during the last two terms in office.

Under Rushern Baker III, Prince George’s county public schools (PGCPS) graduated tons of students who did not meet requirements for graduation. Under Rushern Baker III, PGCPS ignored the federal government which led to the entire school District losing over $6.5 million in federal funds.

Under Rushern Baker III, Retaliation and cover up of crimes has been a way of life. During his leadership, almost 900 innocent people were placed on administrative leave (which cost the taxpayers millions). Other violations under Rushern Baker III never witnessed before touch on illegal and unauthorized raises at PGCPS. Awarding large campaign contributions from Dr. Kevin Maxwell when his contract negotiations were in progress. The list is endless with a large increase of the central office management by 32% while  cutting the classroom school supply budget to benefit a few connected friends starting with Delegate Dereck Davis and others. Manipulating Judges led by late Chief Circuit Administrative Judge William D. Missouri and his local committee to do a study to increase his salary and council members at the expense of the local delivery. This led to an award of the largest pay unimaginable in United States of America of the county Executive.

At $210,000 a year, County Executive Rushern Baker earns the title of being the highest paid local elected official.  Baker makes more running Prince George’s County than Governor Larry Hogan makes running the entire state of Maryland, at $165,000. Baker also makes more than Maryland’s U.S. Senators and Congressmen who make $174,000, respectively.

Mr. Rushern Baker III also facilitated and collaborated with State Attorney Angela Alsobrooks who is currently running to be county executive to increase her salary in what appears to be a form of bribe to cover up local issues affecting the schools. Angela Alsobrooks currently makes more than $220,000 at the expense of  the county even after local issues were brought to her attention years ago. The facilitator on the Maryland state level has always been Delegate Dereck E. Davis who is the Chairman of the Economic matters whose wife now makes $222,144.

According to three members of the Board of Education led by Board member Edward Borroughs III, the following people received raises:

  • Deputy Superintendent’s salary increased from $175,735 in October 2013 to $222,144 in July 2017 – a $46,409 or 26.4 percent pay increase
  • Chief Strategic and External Affairs salary increased from $138,278 in July 2015 to $188,058 in January 2017 – a $49,780 or 36 percent pay increase
  • Director of Employee Performance and Evaluation salary increased from $101,367 in July 2015 to $137,125 in May 2017 – a $35,758 or 35.3 percent pay increase
  • Officer for Diversity Affairs salary increased from $130,597 in January 2017 to $144,962 in May 2017 – a $14,365 or 11 percent pay increase
  • Former Chief of Staff salary increased from $207,586 in July 2014 to $220,209 in January 2016 – a $12,623 or 6.1 percent pay increase
  • Chief of Communications salary increased from $115,231 in January 2017 to $141,044 in March 2017 – a $25,813 or 22.4 percent pay increase

The list is endless and could go on and on. Not to mention Baker’s continued support of Maxwell without any accountability.

Many people who engaged this blog think the Daily Washington Post did not look at all the evidence before jumping to conclusion so quickly to support a candidate engaged in violations of law and promoting public corruption at the expense of the local delivery. That, our opinion didn’t reinforce their personal viewpoint on issues currently going on in the community.

Here are some of the comments received on Facebook so far.

Donna Goodman Lies You Tell! Are you joking??? Based on what?? His lies about giving MBEs so much of MGM? His further destruction of our school system? His willingness to cover-up child abuse and molestation of nonverbal children? How about the use of school funds to dig the county out of debt? I Guess it was his bold face lies about moving resources from the administration and putting them back in the classroom. Instead, the administration went from 10 executives to 30 in the 1st year!! Even more disturbing, he CUT resources in the classrooms and allowed Maxwell added 29 million in, unqualified, incompetent, unaccountable nondirect support in his administration. Lets Not forget to mention the several nepotism hires and appointments in the administration and the Board. This includes his brother-in-law as Board Chair who has in conjunction with Maxwell and his Baker Blockers, push Baker’s agenda through like a champ! Giving away schools, closing the military progams, cutting AP testing and my personal favorite, block Any investigations or oversight. What else, can he do to show you know he was brought and paid for by Mr Miller!! Oh, I know, his sanctioning of the grade changing or the termination of whistleblowers who reported Maxwell and others crimes, right? That is what makes him good?? No Sir, Baker Would Be An Absolute Nightmare as Governor of Maryland!!! An before the narrative changes to “these are rumors,” No Facts!

Sifu Derrick DrJones Homesley Malcolm Augustine you need to go back and review your facts with out bias. He has had more scandals of any previous County Executive. None have been properly dissembled by him, and most of his ill deeds affect the African-American community. Shame!

Malcolm Augustine Ms. Donna Goodman, thank you for your message. I am not joking. The Baker administration has been competent, ethical and transparent. Facts. Mistakes have been made. Governing is hard, but the Baker administration has done an outstanding job.

Donna Goodman Malcolm Augustine Well, transparency, accountability and truth must have disappeared immediately after he got HB1107 passed. I do not consider it a mistake when you assist in covering up the abuse and molestation of our children! He knew, he hid and he worked with Alsobrooks to help Michael Paul Patopie, Walk!! Patopia’s acts were No different than both Black pedophiles who basically got life! Well, accept Patopie was White, was only charged with 2 of the children he molested vs. 10? Tonya Wingfield confirm? Did no jail time, got a DEAL of “time served??” He did NOT have to register as a sex offender and thus, can go back in another school system and molest special needs children again!! Not to mention, No One in Maxwell’s Administration was held Accountable when General Counsel, Board Chair and others, Knew And watched the video! Forgive me, if I don’t think this was a mistake vs a criminal act. He covered it up for political reasons. Ethical, is No where in his orbit.

Elisha Pulivarti Not ready for Maryland ???

Edward P. Burroughs III I’d rather eat a box of nails

Munyambu Vinya I would rather jump in the sea than support a fraud.

Mandela Madison Yousef It’s a crowded field for this top position. I certainly hope that the people of Maryland are paying attention.

Manuel Geraldo Sometimes your comments are indecipherable.

Dameon Proctor I don’t get a vote but I’ll watch the spectacle.

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