Tag Archives: Governor Larry Hogan

Hogan proposes ‘investigator general’ to probe problems in Md. schools

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday called for the creation of an “investigator general” to address complaints in local school systems, arguing that parents — who have complained over the past year about altered grades in Prince George’s County and inadequate heating and air conditioning systems in Baltimore City and Baltimore County — are losing confidence in public schools.

Hogan (R) said an independent investigator would have subpoena power and full authority to investigate ethical claims and corruption allegations against school officials. The position, which must be approved by the Democratic-majority General Assembly, would be based in the state Department of Education.

“Taxpayers, parents, teachers and especially students have a right to expect, and they deserve, more accountability,” Hogan said at a news conference to announce education bills he plans to propose during the 2018 legislative session.

Hogan said he also will submit a bill to change the schools accountability plan the General Assembly approved over his objections last year, reviving an issue that resulted in a veto override. In addition, he announced a bill to provide emergency funds to help pay for heating repairs in Baltimore City schools, which closed some buildings last week, and again Monday, because of extreme cold.

Aides to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said they had not seen the proposals and declined to comment.

Sean Johnson, the director of legislative affairs for the Maryland State Education Association, called the investigator general proposal “a tool to go on a fishing expedition to create a lack of public trust in public schools.”

He said the governor should focus instead on the work of the Kirwan Commission, a panel examining whether current school-funding formulas are equitable.

“The governor should stop attacking our public schools and start rolling up his sleeves with the rest of the state’s leaders to reverse this shameful underfunding and make sure the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations become law,” Johnson said.

Hogan said school leaders have “repeatedly failed” their students.

The governor has been particularly critical of facilities problems in both Baltimore City and County, and of Prince George’s response to a graduation-rate scandal.

He says Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Hogan in November, and Kevin Maxwell, Baker’s handpicked schools chief, have not responded adequately to allegations that school officials changed grades so that more students could get their high school diplomas.

On Monday, Maxwell said Hogan “has not provided any details” of his proposal for an investigator general “and he hasn’t asked for any input from school superintendents about how best to support our public schools.”

Prince George’s school board member Edward Burroughs, the leader of the group that brought the grade-changing allegations to light, said he would welcome an independent investigator.

The state board of education “does not have the capacity to investigate wrongdoing on a larger scale,” Burroughs said. “So to have an [investigator general] with the ability to subpoena documents, the ability to compel people to testify and to refer individuals that have done unethical things to law enforcement is an important thing.”

Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D), a lawmaker from Prince George’s, has proposed a bill to create a similar position solely for that county’s school system.

Montgomery County school board member Patricia O’Neill said she sees no sign of diminishing confidence in public education but also has no problem with an investigator-general approach to accountability.

“I think every school system, every public entity, needs to be held accountable,” she said.

To address heating and air conditioning repairs at Baltimore schools, Hogan said he will propose emergency legislation to provide $2.5 million in emergency state funds.

“This is not to reward these people responsible who have failed,” the governor said. “This is about saving kids from being freezing in winter and from sweating . . . in warm weather.”

Over the past week, city and state officials have battled over who is responsible for the nearly 60 schools in the city that lacked heat during a historic cold spell. Some repairs were done over the weekend, but eight schools were closed Monday morning for facilities issues.

The governor’s school accountability proposal would change a performance plan approved by the General Assembly last year. That plan, which had the support of the state’s teachers union, says 65 percent of a school’s rating would be based on academic indicators such as standardized testing, student achievement, student growth and graduation.

The rest of the rating would depend “school quality” indicators such as absenteeism, school climate and access to a well-rounded curriculum.

Hogan wanted academic indicators to count more heavily. He vetoed the bill, but the legislature voted to override the veto.

At the news conference, Hogan said he will propose a bill to raise the weighting of academic indicators to 80 percent.

O’Neill took issue with the idea of increasing the weight of test scores in determining school performance. Strong outcomes, she said, are the result of multiple factors, including good teaching and strong school leadership. While it is important to hold school systems accountable for every child, she said, “an overemphasis on testing does not improve public education.”

via Washington post

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Governor Hogan Declares War on Corruption

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Governor Larry Hogan

Governor Larry Hogan declared war on the Culture of Corruption in Annapolis today by introducing his Integrity in Government Initiative.

 

You can watch all of Governor Hogan’s press conference here.

Integrity in Government Initiative – January 19, 2017

To say that Governor Hogan’s proposed reforms are much needed would be a bold understatement. In light of the issues surrounding corruption that have been exposed in recent weeks, these changes are both unfortunate but also necessary in order to ensure that the people of Maryland can have faith that both the executive and legislative branches of Government are responsive to peoples needs.

The Public Integrity Act will finally put some sort of restrictions on lobbying by legislators, former legislators, and former executive branch employees, as well as appointees to executive branch commissions. This legislation was certainly influenced by the corrupt deals made by Delegate Dan Morhaim as he worked for marijuana legislation that would further enrich him in his second job. So much corruption in Annapolis revolves around the lobbying and lobbyists, and the restrictions on lobbying as well holding members of the General Assembly accountable to the State Ethics Commission creates a more even playing field that should root out the remaining corruption in the General Assembly.

The Legislative Transparency Act is something that is so basic and so easy to do that it should be a no-brainer. Most citizens do not have the time to travel to Annapolis to ensure to see what their Delegates and Senators are doing. The idea that any citizen can watch the proceedings of the General Assembly live or at a time of their convenience gives voters the opportunity to see exactly how their General Assembly members vote and how they behave on the floor of the General Assembly. This will give people the chance to see exactly what happens whether its during regular session or whether its middle of the night shenanigans that has occurred in the past.

The Liquor Board Reform Act is a master stroke that ensures that State Senators and members of local political parties can no longer put political party apparatchiks into positions of power as Liquor Board Commissioners. It’s the last remnant of the old boy network that used to govern Maryland for decades, when State Senators controlled all political patronage in their county.

The Redistricting Reform Act is something that we at Red Maryland have supported for a long time. You can read about our previous writing on redistricting here.

So what are the chances that any of the Governor’s initiatives get passed by the General Assembly? Slim and none. Democrats in Annapolis are more interested in political games and ensuring the status quo than they are passing meaningful reform to protect Maryland from political corruption. They certainly do not want to cut off the spigot of opportunities open to Maryland Democrats They won’t seek to subject themselves to the higher standard of behavior and ethics that Governor Hogan seek for government officials in Maryland. They certainly do not want to relinquish the last vestiges of patronage remaining to senior elected officials and party leaders. Nor will Democrats wish to subject themselves to Redistricting Reform that  will invariably wind up in more equal legislative and congressional districts that could mean tougher re-election campaigns and large Republican gains in the House and the Senate.

So we should all expect Maryland Democrats to oppose the Integrity in Government Initiative because it’s not in their political or financial interests to do so.

We should, however, applaud Governor Hogan for putting forth this kind of meaningful legislation. While Democrats try to play political games, the Governor is putting forward legislation that will fix the culture of corruption in Annapolis once and for all. Let us hope that those who oppose this type of common sense legislation for their own personal benefit do so at their own political peril.

Read more at http://redmaryland.com/2017/01/governor-hogan-declares-war-on-corruption/maryland-map

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Hogan, Franchot protest legislature’s ban

on state money for portable AC units in schools

Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot were fuming Wednesday that the General Assembly has barred school systems from spending state tax money on portable air conditioners.

The General Assembly also put an end to the annual “beg-a-thon,” in which local school superintendents appear before the Board of Public Works to ask for more construction money.

Hogan said the provisions were major reasons he decided not to sign the capital budget bill, where lawmakers made both changes. The bill will become law without his signature.

“It’s one of the most absurd and ridiculous things I’ve ever seen the legislature do,” Hogan said.

Franchot complained that neither measure was aired in hearings during the legislature’s 90-day session and weren’t in earlier versions of the bill. He suggested that the move was made secretly and was a shot at him and Hogan.

“I think it’s a bizarre use of the conference committee,” Franchot said. “I don’t know who put that language in. Nobody’s raised their hand and said, ‘I did it.'”

Del. Adrienne Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who chairs the House capital budget subcommittee, said lawmakers felt that Baltimore City and Baltimore County were making sufficient progress on adding central air conditioning, so it wasn’t necessary to spend state tax dollars on portable units that won’t last.

“It’s nothing political. We’re looking at being the best stewards of public money,” Jones said.

Jones rejected any suggestion that the decision was made in secret. “These are open meetings. … Doors are open, anyone can come,” said Jones, who led the House negotiators.

While conference committee meetings are open to the public, it can be difficult to determine when and where they will be held. Neither Jones nor Sen. James E. “Ed” DeGrange Sr., her Senate counterpart, knew where the language they adopted originated.

For several years, Franchot has pressed local school systems — particularly those in Baltimore city and county — to speed the installation of air conditioning in public school classrooms.

Hogan has joined the comptroller in pushing for the installation of portable window units as a quicker solution.

But the school systems in the city and county have preferred to spend their money on central air conditioning.

While that takes more time and money to install, school officials contend it is a better use of taxpayers’ dollars in the long term.

Franchot said the legislature’s action does a disservice to Maryland families.

“What about the 40,000 children in Baltimore City and Baltimore County who sit in sweltering hotboxes without air conditioning?” he said.

The Board of Public Works did not require money be spent on portable air conditioners but voted in January to scrap a policy that prevented state money from being spent on portable units in classrooms. The legislature’s budget provision undoes that action.

Baltimore County did not plan to use state money for portable air-conditioning units, even after the policy was changed, said Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for County ExecutiveKevin Kamenetz.

The best way to remedy hot classrooms is to install central air conditioning during major renovation projects, Kobler said. The county aims to have central air conditioning in all schools by 2019.

At the beginning of the school year, 48 schools in Baltimore County did not have air conditioning.

Baltimore City school officials did not respond to a request for comment. The city school system has been studying the feasibility of installing portable air conditioners, which officials have estimated would cost about $17 million.

DeGrange, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, noted that jurisdictions are free to use their own money to buy window units if they choose — as his county has done.

Franchot and Hogan also objected to a provision that says local school officials can’t appeal decisions from the Interagency Committee on School Construction to the Board of Public Works on how to allocate state construction money.

The appeal process has been dubbed the “beg-a-thon” because it usually involves a full day in January when local school superintendents and other officials go before the three board members to implore them to fund their projects.

Last month, the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland wrote a letter to House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller calling the process “unnecessary and redundant.”

“Our experience has been that the members of the BPW often do not question the construction projects but use the time as a forum to advance political agendas such as financial literacy, declining enrollment, communications to parents, post-Labor Day starts, charter school approvals, and other instructional or operational issues,” the letter said.

The superintendents specifically excluded Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp — but not Franchot or Hogan — from their criticism. Kopp, they said, asks “appropriate questions.”

Franchot said the superintendents object to the “transparency and accountability” of the process. He said members would still be able to quiz superintendents when they appear before the board on other school-related items.

DeGrange said the beg-a-thon was an “outdated” event. “It was just a ridiculous process,” he said.

Via mdresser@baltsun.com and pwood@baltsun.com >>>Baltimore sun 

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O’Malley purchase of furniture from mansion being probed by prosecutor

o'MALLEYFormer Governor Martin O’Malley and his family paid $9,638 for beds, chairs, desks, lamps and other items from the mansion’s living quarters that originally cost taxpayers $62,000

Maryland state officials had little to say Friday about a criminal probe that has been launched into former governor Martin O’Malley’s purchase of furniture from the state at a steep discount when he left office last January.

A spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state’s attorney, Wes Adams (R), confirmed late Thursday that the office is investigating the purchases by O’Malley, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

The O’Malley family bought dozens of pieces of furniture and other items from the governor’s mansion after state officials deemed it “excess property,” according to state records.

O’Malley has tried to position himself as the most electable alternative to Hillary Clinton, but he has been unable to build momentum in a campaign season dominated by a large, unpredictable GOP field and the unexpected surge on the Democratic side of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“This is a bogus political attack that the Maryland Republicans have tried to make stick,” Morris said. “And it’s sad that they’re wasting taxpayer re­sources on it.”

The probe is being handled by Adams, who took office in the heavily Republican county last January. One of his first actions was to rid his office of Democratic prosecutors. He later hired Kendel Ehrlich, wife of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), as an assistant state’s attorney.

Adams launched the investigation after receiving an email about the furniture purchase from state Secretary of General Services C. Gail Bassette, according to the Sun. Bassette is an appointee of O’Malley’s successor, Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

Heather Epkins, Adams’s spokeswoman, said he is following a legal process, without political motivations, and would “utilize the same process” were he to receive similar complaints about a Republican.

A spokesman for Hogan, who has publicly questioned O’Malley’s purchase of the furniture in recent months, declined to comment Friday, saying it would be inappropriate during an ongoing criminal investigation.

Other cases of alleged wrong­doing by state officials have been investigated by State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, an O’Malley appointee. Davitt’s staff said he was not available for comment Friday.

James Cabezas, a chief investigator in Davitt’s office, said Adams is “within his legal authority” to conduct an investigation.

He said it is not unusual for a county state’s attorney to conduct a preliminary inquiry and then hand the case to the state. It would also not be unusual for Adams to keep the case, he said.

O’Malley said in September that he was “kind of surprised” by the controversy over his furniture purchase, saying his family “followed the rules as they were laid out to us.” He said the family paid what the Department of General Services determined was the furniture’s depreciated value.

“I know there was no negotiating of the price,” O’Malley said in September. “We were just told it was some sort of standard depreciation formula they had used for the prior family.”

O’Malley aides say Ehrlich purchased furniture under the same procedures when he moved out of the governor’s mansion in 2007. Ehrlich purchased a lesser amount of furniture.

Hogan, who moved into the mansion a year ago, was asked about the controversy during a news conference in September. He said he asked O’Malley during a tour of the mansion about the “beautiful” furniture and asked whether the items belong to him or to the state. “He’s been misleading,” Hogan said.

Via Washington Post

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More Money Needed For FBI – County needs to contribute

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GREENBELT – Governor Larry Hogan “shocked” Prince George’s County officials when he announced that the county will need to contribute $50 million for upgrades at the highway interchange by the Greenbelt Metro station to ensure the FBI relocates here.

At the same press conference where Hogan announced he will fund the Purple Line with greater costs shifted to Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, he also announced Prince George’s will need to contribute $50 million out of a total $185 million funding for a project to upgrade the partial interchange on I-95/495 at the Greenbelt Metro station to a full interchange on

“They have to finish the interchange over there by Greenbelt to allow traffic in all directions. Right now you can only get into Greenbelt coming from Montgomery County from the Beltway,” said David Iannucci, a senior economic development advisor to County Executive Rushern Baker III. “Prince George’s County’s position is that this (contribution) is a state responsibility. There’s been no discussion (by the governor) with Prince George’s County about that being county responsibility.”

“We anticipate many conversations with our state partners on the FBI and are confident that the reference to $50 million from the county for interstate highway ramps at Greenbelt is a matter of the State not being fully aware of the County’s current commitment to infrastructure costs in support of the FBI,” Baker said.

>>> Read more 

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Prayers for Governor Larry Hogan and others in similar situations.

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Elected Officials from around the state have signed a card with words of support and encouragement to Governor Larry Hogan as he battles against cancer. We have put partisan politics aside and stand in prayer that God will have mercy on our Governor and heal his body. Maryland is a great state with great people. We are united as one in prayer for the Governor Larry Hogan and all others whom are battling this horrible disease throughout the world.

Hogan rose to national prominence during his handling of the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore this past spring. Hogan surprised political observers last November 2014 when he easily defeated much favored and highly rated Democrat Anthony Brown who was also well funded to retake the governor’s office for Republicans.

“The odds I have of beating this are much, much better than the odds I had of beating Anthony Brown,” he said, to laughter and applause from the room before starting chemotherapy recently. #HoganStrong

Larry-Hogan

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Dr. Charlene Dukes removed from MSDE by Governor Larry Hogan

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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,” High suspension rates, violation of due process rights, manipulation inter alia during her tenure as President for Maryland State Board of Education.

The Maryland State Board of Education welcomed two new members on May 19th, 2015. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Ed.D. of Montgomery County and Andy Smarick of Queen Anne’s County were appointed by Governor Larry Hogan to fill two seats on the 12-member board vacated by the departures of Charlene M. Dukes, Ed.D. and Donna Hill Staton, Esq., whose terms ended in 2014 but had been staying on illegally.

During the tenures of Dr. Dukes and Ms. Hill Staton, the State Board established a record of cover up and corruption in the state level that negatively impacted students in a variety of ways and staff. Dr. Dukes was appointed in April 2007 to serve out the remainder of a previous board member’s term and was reappointed in July 2010 under unclear circumstances.  She served for three years as vice president of the Board and was elected Board President in July 2012 in a suspicious manner and again in 2013 and 2014.

Ms. Staton was appointed in April 2009 to serve out the remainder of a previous board member’s term and was reappointed in July 2010. Ms. Staton was in many ways a voice of reason and she will be missed.

On another note, during the tenure of Dr. Dukes, the State Board of Education experienced a variety of long-term student suspensions and expulsions, and only revised its school disciplinary regulations to focus on keeping students in schools and connected to learning after pressure from activists. Her product is very clear in the streets of Baltimore where riots were experienced recently.

In short, Dr. Dukes was racist and discriminatory during her tenure with the Board and supported institutionalized racism. She will never be missed by many who know her illegal activities. Above all, Dr. Dukes continues a culture of corruption involving public funds meant for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). She has been manipulative in a variety of ways and an embarrassment to Prince George’s County. It is her illegal actions and shenanigans which will cost the county schools close to more than a $100 million and possible tax hikes fronted by County Executive Rushern Baker III.

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