Tag Archives: transparency

Transparency, Anti-Corruption, and Sustainable Development: Is Progress Possible?

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IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks during a discussion in a past photo. IMF is starting to embrace new strategies to combat corruption. 

Brookings/The Partnership for Transparency Fund/World Bank Group – hosted a full day of discussions on anti-corruption on Monday. The first public session featured IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde – the second panel discussion highlighted  experts on corruption and extractives. The second half of the day, involving a small group on “Chatham House ” rules discussed ways to best approach research in the area of corruption and natural resources. The first two panels are captured on video –

The IMF and corruption discussion on Manday Septemebr 18th, 2017 starts at minute 41 on this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnMj-5P4snk

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State lawmakers from Prince George’s seek broad probe of graduation rates

IMG_0158Members of the Prince George’s County’s legislative delegation joined the call Thursday for a state investigation into charges that county school officials doctored grades to increase promotion and graduation rates.

In a letter dated Thursday, the delegates called upon state Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon to examine the claims. The letter was signed by Dels. Jerry Walker and Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Bowie resident and vice chairwoman of the delegation.

The claims were made by four members of the county school board, including David Murray and Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie.

“Given that the Maryland State Department of Education has oversight over public school districts in Maryland and the educational interests of the State, we respectfully request the resources of the Maryland State Department Education for purposes of an in-depth audit and further investigation of such serious allegations,” the delegates wrote.

The allegations of grade tampering came to light this week when county schools CEO Kevin Maxwell revealed that four school board sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, asking him to conduct an investigation into possible irregularities. He dismissed the claims as “politically motivated” and revealed that a similar probe conducted last fall turned up no evidence of grade-tampering. However, Dr. Maxwell has refused to sit down with reporters as such fox for on camera interview despite repeated requests.

At a jam-packed and often heated school board meeting Thursday night, during which the $1.9 billion school budget was passed, Maxwell repeated his defense of the school system.

“The false allegations about our graduation rates strike at everything that Prince George’s schools stand for – past, present and future,” Maxwell said. “These allegations denigrate why teachers teach and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every teacher, counselor administrator and employee in this system.”

In their letter, the delegates said the state probe of anonymous allegations last fall did not go far enough because the school personnel interviewed in that investigation were selected by Maxwell.

“It has come to our attention that a high level of concern exists for those schools that experienced a significant change in graduation rate or that have a significant disparity between graduation rates and the performance of students on high school standardized tests,” delegates wrote. “We are also aware that the local change in grading policy may be causing both confusion and disagreement among teachers and parents and this issue could certainly be clarified through a careful MSDE review.”

County officials adopt slightly increased budget for FY 2018
The other nine school board members and a group of county high school principals released statements this week denying the charges and supporting Maxwell.

But Ahmed and Murray stood by their claims, saying Thursday they’d heard and seen enough evidence from system employees to indicate that something was amiss with the grading system. Hogan’s office has forwarded the letter to state education officials.

“There was enough information that I had received – testimony, having seen documents – that there convinced me there was reason for some of these things to be true,” Ahmed said. “I had reason to expect issues – widespread issues.”

Tracie Miller, principal of Gwynn Park High School, was joined by several other high school principals at the board meeting in Upper Marlboro as she spoke out in defense of her colleagues at the meeting.

“We, as high school principals, are extremely offended about the allegations and hurtful accusations that we pressure teachers to to give students grades in order to (increase) the graduation rate,” she said. Such claims, she added, “stain all of us.”

Many parents have come forward with information that their children grades appear suspicious after receiving an A in their report card. Other students who skipped school for many days got A’s and B’s as part of their grades in a shocking revelation to make the adminstration look good.

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2nd Major Meeting Planned in PG County to Discuss corruption and other issues

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Senator C. Anthony Muse
Democrat, District 26, Prince George’s County (See Below)

SECOND EDUCATION FORUM. Please join Senator Anthony Muse and other sponsors at our next Prince George’s Education forum. Hundreds turned out at the last meeting. However,we cannot just meet. Many issues were identified and we need the information on these issues so that we, as a community, can ACT. Numbers matter. Please be present and invite as many as you can. Meet us there please share this on you FB page.

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Read more  and call your representatives>>> Let us demand investigations.

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Maryland House moves to curb suspensions, expulsions of young pupils

md_general_assemblyThe House of Delegates approved legislation Thursday that would significantly curb the practice of suspending or expelling the youngest public school students without first taking other steps to improve their behavior.

The measure now goes to the state Senate, where a committee approved a similar bill Thursday.

Delegates voted 91-48 for the House measure, which bars the suspension or expulsion of prekindergarten, kindergarten, first and second grades students except in narrow circumstances — such as bringing a gun to school.

Students could be suspended for up to nine days in the House version — five in the Senate’s — only if a mental health professional determines there is an “imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff” that can’t be addressed another way.

The legislation directs that schools provide “intervention and support” for students who are suspended or expelled instead of merely sending them home.

Del. Brooke E. Lierman, the House sponsor, said she’s happy with the bill as amended.

“The bill still sends a strong message to the schools and the Maryland State Department of Education that the General Assembly does not think it is appropriate to suspend or expel our youngest learners,” the Baltimore Democrat said.

If the Maryland State Senate passes its bill as the committee amended it, the two chambers will have to resolve their differences before the bill becomes law.marylandmap2

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Update on HB1565 – PGCPS Bill on Reform.

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Prince George’s House Delegation Education Committee hearing on HB1565 to address issues with the school board structure was held yesterday.

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County verified with several delegates concerning the bill HB1565. There are amendments currently pending including by Delegate Howard, Delegate Jay Walker. A possible hearing is supposed to take place next week on Wednesday March 8th, 2017 at 9am. However, delegates are not sure if the date conflicts with other hearings. In any event, it will take a while to decide if the bill dies in the committee or not.

According to delegate Howard, all senators from Prince George’s County except Senator Muse are against bill HB1565. She indicated she was fighting for the bill to be debated and is supportive. We will share the latest once amendments become available.

Remember , we must fight to help  stop….” Prince George’s County Public Schools diverting money through illegal procurement practices and stop using the annual school budget to create black holes to hide money that is later diverted to pet projects, bonuses and salaries of employees for central office staff. When the CEO of Schools, his executive staff and appointed board members are allowed to break the law; cover up the abuse and sexual molestation of children; lose a $4 million grant; fire whistle blowers reporting waste using manufactured evidence; give bonuses and salary increases to executive staff while only giving teachers a 2% cost of living increase; attempt to fund school background checks in the FY18 budget at $600,000 when the FY17 expenditure is projected to be less than $80,000; and consistently have more than $30 million in unplanned spending for non school-based programs or services, it’s difficult to make a legitimate argument that $20 million split between 24 counties is going to hurt our systems bottom line”… ( Tonya Wingfield via facebook)

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Update:HB1107 Hearing in Annapolis Maryland postponed.

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Update: The hearing concerning bill PG -402-17 which was to be held on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 8:30am, room 218 Lowe House Office Building has been postponed. Please check these links for the future hearing and dates.

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=cmtepage&stab=03&id=hru&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=hb1565&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

School Board and CEO
If you are interested in testifying in support of PG-402-17, to return to an all elected school board.

We received this information late. You might want to call your elected officials concerning this bill.

See bill text at https://www.princegeorgeshousedelegation.com/legislation/bill-history?local=PG%20402-17

Read more >>> Kevin Maxwell, PGCPS CEO, gets four more years in Suspicious Circumstances
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Hogan warns that a ‘culture of corruption’ could be taking root in Annapolis

Larry Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan poses with a bill during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis during the last legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared Thursday that the State House was at risk of succumbing to a “culture of corruption” and proposed a package of bills he said would help weed out unethical behavior and improve public trust.

Hogan’s Integrity in Government Initiative comes in the wake of recent scandals in Annapolis, including the guilty plea of a former state lawmaker who admitted to accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for official favors and the indictment of a Baltimore Democrat, who had been nominated for a General Assembly seat, on charges of violating campaign finance laws.

The guilty plea, entered by former delegate William A. Campos (D-Prince George’s), was a result of an ongoing bribery probe centered on liquor sales in Prince George’s County. Federal prosecutors say additional elected officials in Annapolis have been implicated.

“We cannot allow the unethical behavior of the few to tarnish the goodwill of the many in our state capital,” Hogan said during a news conference in front of the State House. “Marylanders are now asking how many more public officials have to be indicted before we are finally going to take the actions necessary to clean up this mess.”

Hogan offered few specifics about the legislation he would propose. But he said he wanted to make it harder for lawmakers to influence bills affecting industries in which they have a financial interest and also wanted legislators accused of ethics violations to be investigated by the State Ethics Commission, rather than the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

 Sen. James E. “Ed” DeGrange III (D-Anne Arundel), who co-chairs that committee, pushed back against Hogan’s characterization of the state capital and defended his panel, saying the lawmakers do hold their colleagues accountable.

In recent years, the committee recommended reprimanding a delegate for pushing a law that would have helped him regain his real estate license and stripping Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) of committee assignments for failing to disclose his work consulting for a grocery chain. In 1998, the committee recommended the expulsion of a senator accused of misusing his office for private gain.

 “I’m baffled why he would think that legislators can’t do their job as they’ve done many times before,” DeGrange said.

“To say there’s a culture of corruption in Annapolis is just beyond me,” he said. “It’s no different than any other profession, if you will. You’ll have a percentage, which is a very small percentage, that don’t do things right, and those things are addressed as they come up.”

But with the federal bribery investigation still underway and speculation rampant in the capital about who else may be involved, Hogan’s proposals seemed likely to gain traction.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) released statements saying they looked forward to working with the governor on ethics reform, which Miller said would be a “major topic in the 2017 legislative session.”

Miller and Busch declined to answer questions about the governor’s proposals on Thursday, saying they had not seen the legislation.

 Hogan said he wants to overhaul how liquor board commissioners are chosen in Maryland, which he called one of the “last vestiges of the patronage system.” The federal probe includes bribery charges against then-Prince George’s liquor board commissioner Anuj Sud and commission executive director David Son.

Under current rules, local party central committees, along with local senators, recommend liquor board members to the governor, who appoints the boards. Hogan proposed removing the party committees from the process and requiring nominees to undergo criminal background checks.

Hogan also said he had allocated $1.2 million in the state budget to allow all General Assembly meetings to be live-streamed. Maryland is one of only seven states not to provide that service already, he said.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, the executive director of Common Cause, applauded the move, noting that her group long has pushed to have legislative meetings publicly broadcast. “There is a possibility that we will see a dozen bills that Common Cause has worked on for five or 10 years presented with a bow on it, and that is incredibly exciting,” she said.

 But Bevan-Dangel also said she was eager to see more details of the legislation. “It is a little ironic that a press conference on transparency did not have transparency, including details on the legislation,” she said.

Hogan’s ethics reform proposals appear aimed in part at addressing a controversy surrounding the legislature’s foremost champion of medical marijuana, who continued pushing for bills related to the industry after being hired as a consultant to a medical marijuana business.

State ethics laws generally allow lawmakers to vote on bills that broadly affect the industry in which they work, and Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) has maintained he did nothing wrong because none of his legislative actions was specific to the dispensary in which he was involved.