Tag Archives: 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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Shots Fired in PGCPS, 2 Schools Locked Down as Precaution

2017-01-26_1054Two schools in Prince George’s County were locked down Thursday morning after shots were fired nearby. The incident did not involve students, Prince George’s County Police said.

No one was struck.

Police received a call for the report of shots fired near Oxon Hill High School. According to a preliminary investigation, police said an argument off school grounds led to shots being fired.

A suspect is in custody.

Oxon Hill High School and John Hanson Montessori were locked down as a precaution while authorities investigated, Prince George’s County said. Police said about 10:50 a.m. that the lockdown at Oxon Hill High School was being lifted.

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Gov. Hogan’s office: Allegations in PGCPS system ‘horrendous, deeply troubling.

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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

– Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is urging public school officials in Prince George’s County to do everything they can to protect their students, amid allegations of molestation and several incidents concerning student safety. Hogan’s office released a statement on the situation after FOX 5 asked the Governor for answers Tuesday.

Allegations of the molestation of four elementary students rocked Prince George’s County Public Schools earlier this week. The students, who attend James Ryder Randall Elementary School, were allegedly molested by a school aid on a school bus on May 24, but the incident wasn’t reported to Child Protective Services until June 20.

 Then on Tuesday, PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell announced that the principal at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Elementary School has been placed on leave after allegations were made via email. Maxwell would only say the principal was placed on leave after an accusation was made via email. Prince George’s County police said they are still trying to determine the validity of the anonymous email in question.

Judge Sylvania W. Woods Elementary is the same school where former school aide Deonte Carraway worked.Carraway, 22, was indicted over the summer on 270 charges of child sex abuse and pornography involving children.

On Tuesday afternoon at an event honoring Montgomery County Officer Noah Liotta, FOX 5 asked Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to comment on the recent issues that have taken place in Prince George’s County schools. At that time, Gov. Hogan said, “I hope that Prince George’s County is able to police itself, but we’ll take a look. I don’t have all the facts at this point.”

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Hogan’s office released the following statement about the situation:

“The recent allegations involving multiple officials in the Prince George’s County Public School System are horrendous and deeply troubling. Governor Hogan’s office has reached out to officials with the State Board of Education and Prince George’s County to ascertain what steps are being taken to address this issue. With investigations still underway, Governor Hogan urges local leadership and school officials to do everything in their power to protect the students in their care and ensure that parents are always kept informed about the well-being of their children.” 

Prince George’s County Public Schools also recently lost a $6.5 million federal grant that funded the county’s Head Start program because of repeated allegations of Head Start teachers using harsh and unusual punishment on their students. In a federal report, teachers at James Ryder Randall Elementary School were cited for forcing children to hold heavy objects over their heads after they misbehaved during naptime.

>> Via FOX5

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It is time for Gov. Larry Hogan to step in and Help fix PGCPS.

…and arrangements for a comprehensive investigation of PGCPS should be a top priority for the State.
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FILE – In this Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan answers questions during an interview with The Associated Press in Baltimore. Gov.- Hogan should now get involved with PGCPS and help bring changes to the school system (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

By Diane C. Russell with additional edits by Reform Sasscer. 
With so many news reports about the abuse of vulnerable children and the county’s loss of Head Start program funds and control, perhaps it is time for Gov. Larry Hogan to step in and arrange for a comprehensive investigation of the Prince George’s school system, either by a qualified and truly independent investigator with No ties to the Unions and the Maryland state Board of Education because of cover ups.  
In his 2010 inauguration speech, Rushern Baker said:

Some have asked, “Are you planning on taking direct control over the county schools?” My answer is no, but let me say this: I will also not sit idly by and be silent. 

Despite what Mr. Baker said then, he later went ahead and persuaded the General Assembly to give him substantial control over the schools in conspiracy with Delegate Dereck Davis and others.

Neither Mr. Baker’s inauguration speech, nor his request to his enablers in the General Assembly said that he would use his control of the county schools as a high paid jobs program for his cronies or that he would (1) tolerate sexual predators and bullies who would prey upon and humiliate our youngest, most vulnerable children, (2) protect the high paid cronies who allowed that behavior to continue, (3) allow the destruction of, and give up funding for and control of, what was once among the most successful of the county schools’ programs, or  (4) that he would, in fact, “sit idly by and be silent” while his cronies ignored ongoing problems and concealed them from elected board members and the public for years after he was informed in writing and in person as far back as 2010 during inauguration.

Note that after the latest scandal–Head Start–became public, the Mr. Baker’s minions took action against six low-level employees, including a whistleblower who was fired despite having reported abuses to her boss, but Mr. Baker has done nothing about the administrators who tolerated and/or were ignorant of the behavior of their subordinates.

Another of Mr. Baker’s promises, repeated frequently with essentially the same thought but varying wording was

I also pledge to establish a first ever County Inspector General to police ethics conduct and perform annual ethics audits.

and

The County will create an office of Inspector General to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement and conflicts-of-interest in the County government. The Inspector General must be professionally qualified with a background in auditing and public financial management. The Inspector General must be selected based on ability and integrity, without regard to political affiliation. The Inspector General will be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council for a fixed term of office that is staggered and non-concurrent with the Executive and Council. The office of inspector general will have its own staff and will enjoy subpoena power. The Inspector General will conduct investigations, review financial managements, examine potential conflicts-of-interest, conduct performance audits and similar reviews, make recommendations, public findings, and make referrals to law enforcement agencies. The Inspector General will also conduct annual ethics audits of locally elected officials and make results public.

Creating the Inspector General office was just another of Mr. Baker’s broken promises. The inspector General position never came to be and created positions which are filled with friends.

If Mr. Baker had kept that promise, and hired the kind of person he promised, with the kind of staff and authority he promised, we would have an Inspector General who presumably could be trusted to conduct an honest, independent investigation of the Head Start fiasco and other serious problems with the school system and board.

Mr. Baker failed to keep his promise.

Now that the problems in the school system and with the school board members he appointed have once again come to the attention of the media and the public, Mr. Baker seems to be acting as if he has nothing to do with problems in the schools, but says he has full confidence in his people who are engaged in the very issues we complained about years ago.

And Mr. Baker now seems willing to let the relative and cronies he appointed to run the schools, who allowed all this to happen, who covered up, investigate themselves.

In most cases, in the real world, crooks and incompetents do not investigate themselves, someone else does.  But normal rules don’t seem to apply in our one-party county such Prince George’s County.  It is easy to understand why Prince George’s County gets so little respect.

News reports over the past few years suggest that physical, mental, and sexual abuse of Prince George’s County school children is not as rare as county and school officials would like us to believe.

The right thing for Mr. Baker to do would be to ask an independent authority to conduct a truly independent investigation which has no ties to him.  If our Mr. Baker and our other county leaders refuse to do what is right, Gov. Hogan should step in and see to what is necessary and right. Governor Hogan should act now and let the chips fall where they may after all, he was elected on the platform to fight corruption and fix Maryland. PGCPS and Prince George’s County is the epicenter of the corruption at the moment followed closely by Baltimore City. The State of Maryland and especially the children deserves better than this.

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Rushern Baker III

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Hogan calls union that opposes his education budget decisions ‘thugs’

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Larry Hogan Jr -“We provided record funding for education two years in a row and protected your pensions,” he wrote. “Don’t believe this phony ‘cut’ propaganda from the union thugs.”Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said Friday night that “the governor’s words are the governor’s.”

Larry Hogan reacted Friday to opponents of his decision not to fund two education-related programs by calling some of the critics “union thugs.”

Hogan’s jab came a few hours after the Maryland State Education Association joined with Sen. Richard Madaleno and the ACLU of Maryland in issuing a news release calling on Hogan to withhold money intended for private school scholarships as long as he was declining to spend $25 million the General Assembly earmarked for the two programs.

The MSEA is the state’s largest union representing teachers but it’s driven by corruption on several levels which trickles down to schools in Maryland. On this note, the governor is correct by calling them “thungs”.

Earlier in the week, Hogan announced a decision not to spend $80 million the legislature blocked him from transferring to a state reserve fund and urged him to spend on a variety of programs — both his own and ones favored by lawmakers. The General Assembly made Hogan’s choice an “all or nothing” decision, blocking him from choosing among the programs.

Hogan decided to spend none of it, including $19 million to help localities pay for teacher pensions and $6 million for the Aging Schools program.

But he allowed $5 million to be spent on a private school scholarship program, which wasn’t part of the $80 million in all-or-nothing spending.

The teachers’ union was harsh in its reaction, noting Hogan also withheld $68 million in spending the legislature set aside for an education formula benefiting high-cost school systems last year.

“We’re disappointed that the governor is more concerned with winning a political argument with Democrats in the legislature than focusing on ways to improve our public schools,” said MSEA Vice President Cheryl Bost. “It’s yet another year of schools trying to do more for students with less help from the state than they expected.”

Hogan came back with even harsher language.

“We provided record funding for education two years in a row and protected your pensions,” he wrote. “Don’t believe this phony ‘cut’ propaganda from the union thugs.”

Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said Friday night that “the governor’s words are the governor’s.”

Mayer said Hogan respects the work of the state’s teachers but believes the leadership of their union long ago “stopped truly representing” them and schoolchildren.

The governor has publicly advocated bipartisanship and civility, but Mayer backed his use of strong language in this case.

“For the last two years they’ve waged a full-time political campaign to spread disinformation,” Mayer said. “Sometimes you’ve got to draw a line in the sand.”

A spokesman for the teachers’ union could not be reached to comment, but Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat, called Hogan’s remarks “disappointing.”

“He tries to distance himself from Donald Trump but he sounds more like Trump every day,” Madaleno said. The Republican Hogan has said he will not vote for Trump or the GOP presidential nominee’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Spending levels for K-12 education aid in Hogan’s first two budgets have set records, reaching $6.3 billion this year. But Madaleno said Hogan deserves no credit. He said the spending increases are driven by formulas based on enrollment and other factors and are mandated by the legislature.

“The governor wants a medal for doing what he’s required to do by law,” Madaleno said. “I know the governor wants credit for it doing it, but it’s not like he’s doing a penny more than he has to.”

via Baltimore sun

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PGCPS teacher arrested for alleged sexual abuse of student

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FORESTVILLE –
A Forestville High School teacher was arrested Thursday in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of a student.

The female student, who was 17 at the time of the alleged abuse, said Vincent McDuffie engaged in sexual contact with her multiple times between the months of March and April on school grounds detectives said. McDuffie, 45, is the English department head at Forestville, according to the school’s website.

McDuffie was arrested Thursday after which, police say, he admitted to his involvement with the student. He has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor and put on leave without pay, according to Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).

PGCPS is aware of the arrest of McDuffie and said the school system will cooperate with law enforcement’s investigation. They are also seeking McDuffie’s immediate terminiation.

“Any behavior that brings harm to a student will not be tolerated in any way in PGCPS.  We remain keenly focused on our commitment to ensuring a quality education in a safe environment for the children of PGCPS,” the system said in a statement.

This is the second case of alleged sexual abuse of a minor within the school system. Earlier this year, a former school aid was accused of creating and distributing child pornography at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School. It is also alleged that Deonte Carraway sexually abused minors at the school.

Carraway was indicted by a federal jury and faces multiple federal charges including sexually exploiting 11 children.

In the wake of the allegations and subsequent lawsuits filed against the school system, PGCPS enacted a Student Safety Task Force to conduct an independent study of the system’s policies and procedures concerning student safety. The task force was convened at the request of Kevin Maxwell, the chief executive officer of PGCPS. However, there was no output by teachers and other staff members in the county concerning the issues. Dr. Charlene Dukes who chairs the committee engaged in a conflict of interest on several levels and covered up the issues.

“It is our absolute duty to do everything we can to be sure that such heinous crimes against children should not and will not happen in our school district again. I have formed this Task Force to carefully scrutinize every single policy and procedure we have in place. We will leave no stone unturned, but we will also act quickly,” Maxwell said in February.

The task force is expected to release its findings on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 late than it was expected to be released.

“In response to the ongoing criminal investigation of child sex abuse at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, the Task Force conducted a thorough review of the school district’s current policies, procedures, processes, and practices and made recommendations to ensure student safety,” the school system said in a press release.

Originally, the task force was supposed to release findings in April 2016 but they extended the release date to the end of May to ensure that “due diligence is given to the community’s input.”

“We have an obligation to get this right and we owe it to students, parents and the community to properly complete our work,” Charlene Dukes, the chair of the task force said in a statement earlier this month.

After the findings are released the school system will use them to enhance current policies, procedures, processes, and practices to “further safeguard children from harm.”

Reform sasscer Movement continues to question the secrecy and the hiring of politically connected friends to run the county. For as along as highly connected personnel interested in bilking the county of money continues to run the school system, nothing is going to change for the better in this county.

>>>FOX 5, Washington Post pgcps_logo

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Hogan ‘pleased’ with resignation of school construction chief

…after air-conditioning dispute

1_122016_hogan8201_c0-81-4956-2970_s885x516Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he’s “very pleased” with the decision of the state’s school construction chief to resign amid the ongoing battle over school air conditioning in Baltimore city and county.

David Lever has headed the Interagency Committee on School Construction, a state agency that reviews school construction projects and spending, since 2003.

On Wednesday, Lever criticized the vote by Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on the Board of Public Works to withhold $15 million from Baltimore city and county school systems unless they install portable air conditioners in schools over the summer.

Lever said the decision politicized school construction funding and prompted his decision to step down, effective in September.

Hogan said he’s glad to see him go.

At a news conference in Annapolis, the Republican governor called Lever “a major part of the problem.”

“We were very pleased with his resignation,” Hogan said. “My only regret is it doesn’t take effect immediately.

“Quite frankly, anyone who has the arrogance and the sense of entitlement that they don’t feel like they have to be accountable for their actions to the Board of Public Works, to the people who are responsible for overseeing these things, doesn’t deserve to be working in state government,” Hogan said.

Lever declined to comment on the governor’s remarks. “I don’t have any response to that,” he said.

Hogan’s statement came as politicians continued a war of words over school air-conditioning policies.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat, issued a lengthy statement defending his position that installing portable air conditioners would be a poor use of taxpayer dollars compared to his plan to install central air conditioning in all schools by 2019.

“In his desire to punish Baltimore County and Baltimore City, the Governor intentionally misstated the county’s plan, refused multiple opportunities to be presented with the facts, and disregarded the clear legal advice of the Attorney General of the State of Maryland,” Kamenetz wrote.

County officials say it’s logistically impossible to install air conditioners by the deadline set by Hogan and Franchot of the start of the next school year.

Kevin Smith, chief administrative and operating officer for the county school system, said state procurement laws outline steps for a project of this scale. The earliest the process could be completed is August 2017, he said, if it started immediately.

The system would have to hire a consultant to design the work and have plans approved by the state, Interagency Committee on School Construction, which could take until fall. If the IAC gives the go-ahead, the school system then would give potential vendors a 30-day period to bid on the work. By January, the school board would approve a contract with a vendor. Work could begin in February and wrap up in August, Smith said.

There are provisions for speedier procurement for emergencies, he said, “but I don’t know if this qualifies as that.”

Hogan doesn’t buy that argument, said spokesman Douglass Mayer.

“For years, the county executive has made excuses for his failure to ensure that all Baltimore County students have access to suitable learning environments,” Mayer said. “It comes as no surprise that he has yet another weak explanation to try and justify the deplorable conditions in these classrooms. No doubt he’ll have even more excuses next week.”

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Franchot, also dismissed the county’s timetable, saying of Kamenetz: “If he wants to make it that hard, he can make it that hard.”

Baltimore city and county are the only jurisdictions in the state with a significant number of classrooms that lack air conditioning. When the school year began, 48 of Baltimore County’s 175 public school buildings lacked air conditioning. In Baltimore, 76 schools lack air conditioning.

Hogan and Franchot have criticized leaders of both jurisdictions for not providing air conditioning for classrooms. Franchot, a Democrat, went on the “C4 Show” on WBAL radio Thursday to continue to blast Kamenetz.

“The foot-dragging by local elected officials for the last five years is a disgrace,” he said.

Franchot said Kamenetz is “committing a mass dereliction of duty” by allowing children to attend schools without air conditioning.

Via Baltimore sun

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Clash in Annapolis over school air conditioning

image.jpegA debate over whether Baltimore-area schools can spend money on portable air-conditioning units has mushroomed into a power struggle involving some of Maryland’s top elected officials.

The Board of Public Works, which oversees state funds for school construction, voted 2-1 Wednesday to withhold $15 million in capital funds for schools in Baltimore city and county until those jurisdictions produce plans to use window-box air-conditioning units as a short-term fix to address a lack of cooling systems in their schools.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) voted to withhold the money, over objections from fellow board member and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D).

In a separate 2-1 decision, the panel voted to finalize a rule change that would allow school districts to buy portable air conditioners despite a state policy that prevents the use of state or federal money for such purchases, in part because of energy-efficiency concerns.

Franchot blasted Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) for trying to prevent the rule modification by passing legislation earlier this year that effectively nullifies any Board of Public Works decision on school construction funding-policy made after Jan. 1, 2016.

Franchot called the legislation a “highly charged, highly irregular, highly unusual intervention by the most powerful politicians — other than the governor — in the state.”

Busch pushed back Wednesday, saying it is the state legislature’s job to set policy.

“The Board of Public Works’ job is to do procurement, so I think it’s clear that policy initiatives come from the General Assembly,” he said.

Attorneys for the Board of Public Works and the legislature have traded letters arguing their positions on which body has the final say in the matter.

Hogan and Franchot described the stifling heat in Baltimore city and county schools — the only jurisdictions in the state that have a significant number of classrooms that lack air conditioning — as an issue that could affect students’ health and ability to concentrate.

Teens testifying at Wednesday’s board meeting agreed.

“It’s hot, and it’s hard to learn,” said Keami Sullivan, 17, who attends Baltimore County’s Kenwood High School.

Kopp accused Hogan and Franchot of using “fear and demagoguery” to affect local decisions. “It may be good theater, but it’s a very bad mistake,” she said.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D) has rejected plans for using $10 million in county surplus funds to install portable air conditioners.

He insists that the money would be better-spent on a plan he laid out for adding central air conditioning to all of the jurisdiction’s schools by the end of 2019.

Via Washington post

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Larry Hogan publicly questions Martin O’Malley over mansion furniture

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former Gov. Martin O’Malley appears to have engaged in questionable activities during his tenure,  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took to his large Facebook following today and Sunday to question why former Gov. Martin O’Malley purchased most of the governor’s mansion furniture after it had been declared “junk” by the Democrat’s outgoing administration — a transaction that the state ethics commission is examining.

A Baltimore Sun investigation revealed last week that the Democratic candidate for president had paid $9,638 for 54 mansion furnishings that originally cost taxpayers $62,000. The Department of General Services sold armoires, beds, chairs, desks, lamps, mirrors, ottomans, tables and other items to O’Malleyand his wife, Baltimore District Judge Catherine CurranO’Malley, at steep discounts after declaring every item to be “junk.”

The department sold the items to the O’Malleys, who together earned $270,000 in state salaries last year, without seeking bids or notifying the public that the items were available for sale.

An agency rule prohibits preferential sales of state-owned property to government officials.

“If they call that expensive, beautiful, barely used furniture ‘junk’, I’d hate to hear what they call the 20 year old stuff I brought with me from my house to replace it all,” the Republican governor wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “And if it was so bad and ready to be ‘thrown out,’ why would you try so hard to take all with you to your new house.

Hogan was even more direct on Facebook Monday: “Just to set the record straight, none of the 54 pieces of furniture included in the investigation was ‘junk.'”

“None of it would have been ‘thrown out,’ or surplussed, or sold in any manner,” Hogan added. “Had it not all been removed a few days before we moved in, our intention would have been to leave all of it in place, just as it was, in the people’s house.”

The furniture was used in the residential sections of the mansion, not the public areas, which are dotted with antiques. When Hogan moved into the mansion in January from his Anne Arundel County home, the Republican found a starkly less furnished house than the one he had toured with O’Malleytwo weeks earlier. He ended up moving in nearly all of hisfurniturefrom his Edgewater house.

“The governor was certainly surprised to find Government House largely unfurnished,” said Hogan spokesman Douglass Mayer.

The office of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, who campaigned for O’Malley last week, referred questions about the matter to the department’s legal counsel, Assistant Attorney General Turhan E. Robinson. David Nitkin, a spokesman for Frosh, said the issue is a matter of “departmental policy” and that Robinson “should be able to answer.”

On Friday, Robinson asked the state ethics commission to determine whether the sale violated the prohibition and whether a provision in state regulations that allows the department to sell surplus property to charities and other government agencies without bids can apply to a private sale with a governmetn official.

Robinson wrote that the matter “requires ethics determination.”
“DGS is requesting a determination on the propriety of sales of excess/used furniture to an outgoing public elected official,” Robinson wrote on Friday to Michael Lord, executive director of the Maryland State Ethics Commission.

Lord declined to comment, saying his office is restricted from discussing any requests.

O’Malley declined to comment, but his representatives said that he followed proper procedures and that state officials had authorized thefurnitureto be thrown away.

The Department of General Services’ inventory control manual states that “the preferential sale or gratuitous disposition of property to a state official or employee is prohibited in accordance with Board of Public Works policy.” The prohibition against preferential sales—transactions made without publicly soliciting other bids—applies to all surplus state property, even items declared junk, a department spokeswoman said.

In addition to the department’s prohibition against private sales to government officials, the inventory control manual says that state ethics rules also govern all transactions. State ethics rules and the standards of conduct for executive branch employees forbid state officials from making transactions that involve information unavailable to the public.

O’Malley is not the first governor to get such treatment.

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. also purchasedfurniturewhen he left office—but much less. The Republican paid the state $992 for 21 furnishings that had cost the state $9,904. Unlike O’Malley, Ehrlich purchased mostly low-cost linens, mattresses, pillows, lamps and bunk beds used by his two sons. Those items were also purchased at prices set by a depreciation formula. The ethics commission was asked to also examine that sale as well.

via Baltimore sun

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Maryland schools superintendent resigns under pressure

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent of schools (Pictured above) who engaged in maladministration and criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct has announced her resignation. She received an F grade for Common Core meetings and other reform implementations in Maryland during her tenure.

Maryland State Superintendent of Education Lillian M. Lowery will step down in September to take a nonprofit education job in Ohio, state officials announced Friday.

Lowery will become the first chief executive and president of FutureReady Columbus, which will focus initially on early childhood education, public policy and community engagement.

Lowery, 60, was hired by the Maryland State Board of Education during the tenure of former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, and leaves following the election last November of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. State officials said Friday her departure is not the result of any political pressure.

“She made this decision on her own,” said John White, chief of staff for the Maryland State Department of Education. “It was the right time for her and the right opportunity.”

Hogan’s office released a statement calling Lowery a “dedicated public servant to the state of Maryland” and saying she has been devoted to “bettering public education and working to ensure our teachers and students have the tools they need for success.”

State officials said that Jack R. Smith, the deputy state superintendent for teaching and learning — and chief academic officer at the Maryland State Department of Education — will become interim state superintendent for the remainder of Lowery’s four-year contract, which ends June 30. Smith is the former superintendent of schools in Calvert County.

Lowery was traveling and not available for immediate comment. Her last day is Sept. 11, and she starts in Columbus on Sept. 14.

“We are losing an extraordinary leader, a talented State Superintendent of Schools,” Guffrie Smith, president of the state board, said in a written statement. “Dr. Lowery led Maryland through a time of tremendous transition and progress. She positioned our State as a national leader in preparing students to be college and career ready.”

State officials said that under Lowery’s leadership Maryland graduated more students than ever before. She has focused on the importance of science and technology (STEM) education, as well as career and technical skills.

In recent months, Hogan named two new members to the state board who support the Common Core State Standards and charter schools, tapping Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Andy Smarick, partner at Bellwether Education Partners, to take the open seats on the 12-person board.

Earlier this year, Hogan pushed for major changes in the state’s charter laws and to provide tax credits to businesses that donate to private schools. Both measures, which critics saw as an attack on public education, were met with resistance. The General Assembly agreed to modest changes in the charter law and killed the tax credit bill.

via Washington Post

msde_store_frontMaryland State Department of Education (MSDE) HQ in Baltimore City is pictured above. During the tenure of Dr. Lowery, Lack of sunshine within (MSDE) damaged Maryland Schools in serious manner. Her departure is a welcome news for many education advocates in the state. MarylandMap2***