Tag Archives: corruption

THE MARYLAND STATE SENATE HAS A METOO PROBLEM

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The greatest harasser in the capital: the Senate President Mike Miller.

By Jeffrey Peters, PhD

The Maryland Senate has a MeToo problem. For years, State Senators have treated staff, interns, reporters, and lobbyists as their play toys, saying and acting in inappropriate ways without any fear of reprisal. Hypocritically, Democrat State Senators are willing to name lobbyists as possible harassers, but not one has bothered to name, or demand the resignation, of the greatest harasser in the capital: the Senate President.

The Senate President’s inappropriate comments and behavior has been well-known for over a decade. Bringing up the topic to even new legislators is met with knowing nods and tight smiles, mostly due to everyone knowing that the king has no clothes but all thinking that nothing can be done about it. But the culture of harassment is damaging to all in the State House.

For all their talk about women’s rights, the Maryland Democrats have done nothing to protect female staffers, interns, and lobbyists in Annapolis. I worked as a staffer in the Maryland House of Delegates for 4 session under two female Delegates, and there was plenty of harassment towards myself and other male staff during that time. Legislators treated young staff, regardless of their gender, as playtoys. The most innocent limit themselves to trying to set staff up with other staff, playing matchmaking games. Others would not limit themselves. I don’t have to try too hard to imagine how worse it would have been if I were a woman.

The culture of sex and harassment is a well-worn topic among staff and legislators, but it is mostly treated with bemusement. From my first day working in Delegate Nancy Stocksdale’s office, I began to hear the stories: various officials who would try to pressure others into having sex with them and their levels of success. Some staffers told me first-hand accounts of catching various willing individuals acting inappropriately in stairwells or backrooms, and others walking in just at the right moment to ensure a preyed upon individual could escape. It seemed that more politicians cared about “getting laid” than doing their job.

It did not take long until I started seeing the behavior, and I found it deeply unsettling. I worked with my former office mate to turn our office into a safe space. We offered actual help and advice to interns and young staff regardless of gender and party without asking for anything in return. Quickly, we became a hub on the third floor, a safe haven. This led to more direct exposure of the harassment.

I will not name them to protect their privacy, two female staff members from very different backgrounds and positions came to me for help. One, a Democrat, would ask that I accompany her in the hall way to help protect her from the harassment of various legislators, especially one still represents the DC/Southern Maryland region. On multiple occasions, I witnessed inappropriate comments, including unwanted “flirtation” that clearly made her uncomfortable. He was not the only one, but he was the most consistent offender. I notified various Democrat members of the House of Delegates who were on the floor and I worked with before. Most shrugged the behavior off or said they would do something and never did. The behavior never stopped.

The other staffer was constantly pursued by a then State Senator. The Senator’s advances were more physical and forceful. He tried to convince her that she was his property and to do whatever sexual act he wanted. She was not the only one he was pursuing, and his behavior was not even limited to young, powerless staffers like her. During Sine Die after she left, the staff was busy trying to ensure that he was unable to be in the same room with an older, married staffer that he was desperate to have. It was obscene and disturbing to many, yet complaints were met with silence by the leadership.

While he still pursued staff, the State Senator would brag about the sexual activity of the State Senate. He, from the Eastern Shore, would tell those he pursued about how common sex with staff was. He bragged that he was constantly talking with a then Senator from Western Maryland, a then Senator from Montgomery County, and the Senate President about their various conquests. They would sit in the Senate Cloak Room and discuss which staff was attractive and which were easy. They would also swap pills and discuss best ways to get laid. It was a frat house of the worse kind.

It may seem like the former Senator could have lied, but the affairs and inappropriate actions by the other two Senators became well-known during their campaigns in 2014. All three lost their positions due to their sexual impropriety. The only one that is still there, of his group of friends, is the Senate President.

Even if the Senate President did not harass anyone on his own (which anecdotal conversations suggest otherwise), he stood by and did nothing as his Senators were using their positions of power to force staff into sexual relationships with them. The current State Senate knows of this issues, and the only ones wanting to do anything refuse to take direct action. Instead, they want more committees and more hearings, yet not one bothered to contact any of the well-known staff who were harassed because they know it would force them to take direct action against certain people in power.

The Maryland State Senate has a MeToo problem, and that wont change until the culture of harassment is purged from Annapolis. That requires the Senate President and most of the Democratic leadership to step down due to their standing by as harassment happens or actively participating in that harassment.

via News and times.com

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Rising Corruption in Maryland Politics

IMG_8086.JPGBALTIMORE (WJZ)– Corruption investigations have jolted Maryland with several rising political stars embroiled in scandals.

One is an ongoing and massive federal bribery investigation and has already lead to a guilty plea from former delegate Will Campos, a founder of Maryland’s Hispanic Caucus.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein has handled the case, which involves at least 30 months of wiretaps and lawmakers taking bribes for–among other things–liquor licenses– in Prince George’s County.

Rosenstein spoke one-on-one with WJZ about rooting out corruption.

“Corruption is a top priority for us, obstruction is a even more significant priority, that is people are actively attempting to interfere with federal prosecutors– investigators,” said Rosenstein.

Another powerful long-time delegate, Michael Vaughn, resigned less than an hour before the start of the session citing health concerns. According to published reports, he matches the description of a lawmaker currently under investigation.

“Our goal is to put fear into the criminals out there committing corruption,” said Rosenstein.

Rosenstein would not comment on Vaughn. He has long warned politicians they are not above the law.

Another rising star, Gary Brown Jr., a close aide to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, is under a separate investigation by the state prosecutor.

His swearing in as a delegate has been cancelled. Brown faces an indictment he illegally funneled 18,000 to relatives–then into the mayor’s campaign coffers–violating the limit for an individual donor. Brown still works for the mayor.

“I always stand on the side that people have the right. You’re innocent until proven otherwise,” said Pugh.

Mayor Pugh answered questions about brown for the first time and says she’s reviewing her campaign finances.

“Let me just be real clear. We know that things happen. We raised over $2 million, and if there is anything wrong with the funds that we received, they will go back.”

via CBS Baltimore

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Democrat Michael Vaughn of Prince George’s resigns from state legislature

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Maryland state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s), shown standing at right, has resigned his seat. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press)

Longtime state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) resigned Wednesday morning, less than an hour before the official start of the 2017 legislative session, citing health reasons.

His departure is the latest blow to Maryland Democrats, who have become embroiled in a long-running bribery and corruption investigation that U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein says involves “more than one” current lawmaker.

On Tuesday, Rosenstein announced that former Prince George’s council member and state delegate William A. Campos (D) had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for official favors as part of that investigation.

Last week, federal authorities reported the arrests of a Prince George’s County liquor board commissioner, the executive director of that board and two liquor store owners, who are accused of paying bribes to influence state legislation and secure grant money and favorable regulatory decisions.

Vaughn’s two-sentence resignation letter was delivered to the office of House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) Wednesday morning, shortly before the noon opening of the General Assembly’s annual legislative session.

There was no indication in the letter that Vaughn’s decision to leave the legislature was connected to the probe.

But the court filings from last week said that one elected official accused of accepting bribes, who is not named in the documents, voted in a 2015 House Economic Matters Committee hearing for a bill expanding alcohol sales in Prince George’s.

Eighteen members of the committee voted in favor of the bill, including Vaughn. Vaughn was the only Prince George’s lawmaker to vote yes. The court papers do not specify the lawmaker’s jurisdiction.

Vaughn has listed on state ethics disclosures that he receives income from the Joseph Smith and Sons scrap yard in Capitol Heights, Md., one of several locations where FBI agents searched for evidence last week.

Vaughn, 59, has not returned repeated calls or messages left at his home in Mitchellville in recent days. Numerous members of the Prince George’s delegation said they have sent him messages of support as word spread that his resignation was imminent, but had not spoken to him directly.

A spokeswoman for Busch declined to say Wednesday whether Vaughn’s resignation was linked to the investigation. In a statement released Tuesday night, after Campos’s guilty plea was announced, Busch said that he was “painfully disappointed that any member of the House of Delegates would compromise this institution and the public trust.”

“There is no room for this type of behavior in the House of Delegates,” his statement said. “Each of us needs to redouble our efforts to rebuild the trust with our constituents that has been compromised by the actions announced today.”

Vaughn was born in Tuskegee, Ala. He attended DuVal High School in Prince George’s County before receiving a bachelor’s degree from Southern University.

Since taking office in 2003, he has served on the Economic Matters Committee, which deals with bills that regulate alcohol, as well as banking, economic development, insurance and utilities. He has chaired the business regulation subcommittee for Economic Matters since 2007. In 2006, he was House deputy majority whip.

Vaughn supported 2015 legislation authorizing Sunday liquor sales in Prince George’s County, and a follow-up bill in 2016 that limited an expansion in the number of Sunday licenses to five.

The federal investigation unveiled last week accused David Son, a longtime Prince George’s liquor regulator who worked for his county’s senators in 2015, of arranging bribes from two liquor store owners to two elected officials for their work on the bills.

Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the county’s delegation, said in a statement that the lawmakers were “deeply disappointed” in the federal allegations of corruption and the assertion that current or former lawmakers were involved.

“The Prince George’s Delegation strives to meet the highest standard of legislative ethics,” Walker said. “These allegations should not reflect on the hard working members of the Prince George’s Delegation who are deeply committed to representing their constituents with integrity and independence.”

Walker said that he has not spoken to Vaughn in recent days.

Before being elected to the House, Vaughn worked in banking and finance, according to his official House of Delegates biography. He came under scrutiny for falsely claiming on his campaign website that he played football for the Dallas Cowboys for three years, which he retracted in 2010 after questioning from a Washington City Paper reporter.

He also worked in sales for Marriott Corporation and the Hilton Washington Embassy Row for a year. Vaughn currently owns ADDR Properties, a real estate company in Mitchellville, according to Maryland assessment records.

via Washington post

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Marking International Anti-corruption Day 2016

img_74359 December 2016 – Today is the International Anti-Corruption Day, with UNODC and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) calling for people across the globe to join a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about corruption and encouraging people from all walks of life to take action against this crime. The slogan ‘United against corruption, for development, peace and security’ urges Governments, the private sector, and the general public to jointly tackle this issue by changing their attitudes and taking action against the problem.

The campaign focuses on how corruption is an impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to promote safe societies, end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, among others.

Corruption affects all parts of society, including government, religious institutions, businesses, charities and the media. Today 9 December 2016, International Anti-corruption Day is a good opportunity not only to denounce dishonesty but also to take positive action.#UnitedAgainstCorruption

>>> Read more

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Md. politician Mel Franklin has wrecked a government vehicle before

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Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) was charged with driving under the influence in an injury crash on Nov. 21. (Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)

By Arelis R. Hernández December 1 at 7:22 PM

Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin, who was charged with driving under the influence last week in a crash that injured two people, also damaged another government vehicle on two separate occasions four years ago, according to county records.

Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) totaled a county-owned Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle in a distracted-driving crash in 2012, the records show, two months after banging up the same vehicle in an incident that he did not report to police.

The more serious collision involved Franklin rear-ending a car on the Beltway and resulted in more than $33,000 in repair costs and losses to the government, according to damage reports. Neither crash was reported to the public when it occurred.

Franklin was behind the wheel of another county-issued SUV last week, late on the night of Nov. 21, when he allegedly plowed into the back of a sedan on Pennsylvania Avenue near Forestville. The driver and passenger from the sedan went to the hospital. Police said no one else was in Franklin’s vehicle.

The second-term council member was charged with driving under the influence after state troopers tested him and found he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, greater than the legal limit of 0.08. Police said Franklin was about 70 yards away from the Ford Explorer, in the median of the roadway, when they arrived at the scene.

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This car was allegedly struck by an SUV driven by Prince George’s Council member Mel Franklin on Nov. 21. (TWP)

Franklin, 41, has not responded to repeated requests for comment. His attorney also declined to answer questions.

In Prince George’s County, lawmakers can be assigned a full-time car from the county’s fleet of vehicles, or seek a travel stipend to cover the cost of driving their own cars on official business. The county vehicles are for work-related travel and incidental personal use.

County Council spokeswoman Karen Campbell said Thursday that because of his driving record, Franklin will no longer have access to the fleet.

The lawmaker was issued an SUV when he was elected to office in 2010, according to Roland Jones, director of the county’s Office of Central Services. On Oct. 5, 2012, he was involved in a crash that damaged the SUV’s front end and grill but was not reported to police. It cost the county about $1,500 to fix the vehicle.

On Dec. 5 of that year, about 7:30 p.m., Franklin slammed the SUV into the back of a GMC Yukon on the Beltway. He told state troopers “he took his eyes off the road for a moment” to change the radio station and did not receive a citation.

The county’s body shop declared the vehicle a “total loss,” which cost the government $33,171.92 to replace, according to documents provided to The Washington Post.

Neither Franklin nor his attorney have said where he was headed at the time of each of the collisions.

Franklin at that point began to use his personal vehicle, Jones said. In May of this year, he asked for a county vehicle and was issued the SUV that was involved in the crash that led to the drunken-driving charge.

Campbell, the council spokeswoman, would not say whether Franklin needed approval to be assigned the SUV.

Franklin isn’t the first Prince George’s elected official to get in trouble while driving a county-owned vehicle. In 2012, council member Karen R. Toles (D-Suitland) was clocked going more than 100 mph on the Beltway and charged with reckless driving. She avoided getting points on her driver’s license by agreeing to be sentenced to probation before judgment after a two-hour trial before Anne Arundel District Court Judge Megan Johnson.

Toles still uses a take-home vehicle, Campbell said, as do council members Andrea C. Harrison (D-Springdale), Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington), Todd M. Turner (D-Bowie) and Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel). Council Chair Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville), vice-chair Dannielle M. Glaros (D-Riverdale Park) and council member Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi) receive the automobile allowance, Campbell said.

Other Washington-area jurisdictions appear to have more stringent policies on when elected lawmakers can use government vehicles.

Members of the Montgomery County Council drive their own cars and are reimbursed for mileage, officials there said. In Arlington County, board members and the appointed county manager have access to the county’s fleet of vehicles on an as-needed basis, for county business only, spokeswoman Mary Curtius said.

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors do not have full-time access to vehicles but can reserve a car if needed for government business or work-related trips. The District of Columbia has a pool of two cars and a van that the 13-member council and its staffers share for official business only.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who has a government-issued car and driver, said he has limited the number of people in the executive branch who have access to the fleet. He added that his administration does not police the council.

“It’s clearly within their purview to make the rules,” Baker said. “I think they’ll look at the policies now and see if they need to be changed.”

via Washington post. 

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Ads appear on Prince George’s County school system Web site.

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Visitors to the Prince George’s County school system’s Web site can learn about charter school applications, how to prevent and report bullying, and the implementation of new academic standards. But they also are likely to find advertisements for furniture stores and clothing stores, online university programs and insurance companies.

The ads — on the public school system’s main Web site — are placed by a Google AdSense program and are accompanied by a disclaimer that “Prince George’s County Public Schools does not endorse any messages, products or services presented in the ads below.” >>> Read More Washington Post

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OPINION

The way this article is written appears like Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) Management is doing the right thing. However, a closer scrutiny reveals that, accountability and transparency initiatives started in PGCPS almost two years ago by the Maryland legislature are yet to be enforced. (Read more). Nevertheless,  after talking to several board members, they will tell you that, they themselves do not know what happens to the money once it comes in. As non profit organization, PGCPS which receives public funding should know better including the politicians involved irrespective of their rank.  Furthermore, considered they are on a governmental website, there should be full accounting to the public. We are talking of children money here and money being raised in the name of children only to disappear in thin air. Where is the common decency?

There is growing recognition both among governments, donors and civil society that citizens and communities have an important role to play with regard to enhancing accountability of public officials, reducing corruption and leakage of funds and improving public service delivery. As a result, Social Accountability has become an attractive approach to both the public sector and civil society for improving governance processes, service delivery outcomes, and improving resource allocation decisions. Over the last decade, numerous examples have emerged that demonstrate how citizens can make their voice heard and effectively engage in making the public sector more responsive and accountable. Scales of responsibility apply to all citizens and all institutions including all arms of the government which cannot escape accountability. Those complaining about the government  and civil society pointing out wrongs in PGCPS and Maryland Education system should read the Bible and the Constitution as well to understand what responsibility is all about.

Accountability is defined as the obligation of power-holders to account for or take responsibility for their actions. Power-holders refers to those who hold political, financial or other forms of power and include officials in government, private corporations, international financial institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs).

There might be a glimmer of hope that our society is changing and maturing somewhat. However, we are yet to see the results here in PGCPS District. And if we are able to extend compassion and mercy to fellow United States citizens, we should go one step further and extend it to non-US citizens, in particular migrant workers from other countries who perform arduous and dirty work that many Americans shun.

Civility must grow as society grows. It must become highly mobile and more interactive, be it via the media or through daily personal contact. We must show proper accountability even of the money collected through public websites like in PGCPS.

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Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand investigations and initiation of changes… There is no smoke without fire!!

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Dr. Maxwell (pictured above) was appointed to right wrongs but very little appears done to fix issues.

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play” and manipulation during her tenure. Both leaders need to resign to create room for new leadership.

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

Figure 1 – Click here to see benefits of social accountability —->>>Figure 1

Figure 2 – Click here to see the Accountability Framework —->>> Figure 2

Figure 3 – Critical Factors for Social Accountability – See below.

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Swearing in for New PG BOE Members…

…New school board takes shape #PGBOE

  Naming of New BOE by CouncilNaming of New BOE Member

Upper Marlboro, MD – The final three appointees to the Prince George’s County Board of Education were announced today by County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison, on Monday, June 17, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. These appointments and the subsequent swearing-in were held in the Council Hearing Room of the Prince George’s County Administration Building, in Upper Marlboro, MD. (See ceremony in pictures below)

HB 1107 went into effect on June 1, 2013 and authorized the addition of four appointed members to Prince George’s County Board of Education. The four new members (Dr. Segun Eubanks, Dr. Beverly Anderson, Dr.Daniel Kaufman and Mr. Curtis Valentine) will now work with the current nine elected members– bringing total voting members to fourteen (including the student member). Under the new law, the County Executive appoints three members and the County Council appoints one member to the Board of Education.

County Executive Baker already appointed Dr. Segun Eubanks on June 1, 2013 to serve as Chair of the Board of Education as the first of his three appointments. The law also stipulates that the County Executive’s three appointees must be as such: one with education experience, one with business, finance or higher education experience, and one with management experience. The Council appointee must be a parent with a child currently enrolled in the Prince George’s County Public School System. (Read more)

Union corruption in PGCPS has been the biggest issue beside the Board membership disfunction. If they can fix the union problems and a few things identified in our blogs, everything else will work wonders. (See our Top priorities here). As a movement, we thank the County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison and the County Council for appointing great leaders. We wish them well in their new assignment.

Naming of New BOE Member

Dr. Daniel Kaufman the new Board of Education Member flagged by his family including his 3 week old baby at the podium

Dr. Beverly Anderson Newly sworn

Dr. Beverly Anderson the new Board of Education Member flagged by our County Executive Mr. Rushern L. Baker, III .

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Mr. Curtis Valentine the new School Board Member with Chair Andrea Harrison and Vice Chair Obie Patterson District 8 .

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Newest Board of Education Members- Dr. Beverly Anderson (Third from left), Dr. Daniel Kaufman (Fourth from left), and Curtis Valentine (Fifth from right) after being Sworn-in with our County Executive Mr. Rushern L. Baker, III (Second from right), County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison (Center), Councilman Derrick Leon Davis (Far left), Board of Education Chair Dr. Segun Eubanks (Far right), Board of Education Vice Chair Carolyn M. Boston (Third from right), Board of Education Members Amber Waller (Fourth from right), Donna Hathaway Beck (Second from right) and Carletta Fellows, M.A.Ed. (Fifth from left)

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Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”~ Denis Waitley