Governor Hogan says we’ve tried everything to stem overdoses. Fortunately, that’s not quite true.

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Governor Larry Hogan talks about Maryland’s opioid epidemic during an interview with the Editorial Board of The Baltimore Sun. After Larry Hogan vowed to take on Maryland’s opioid epidemic, deaths soared. What happened? Corruption in Prince George’s County and in Maryland soared too and violations covered up by the state all the way to the U.S Supreme Court in an organized version. What happened under Governor Larry Hogans watch? Where is the conservative agenda?

By Baltimore Sun Editorial Board

When we asked Gov. Larry Hogan about opioids in a recent editorial board interview, he took less evident satisfaction in discussing his record than he did when we asked about education, the environment, health care or most anything else. It’s not that he’s ignored the issue — far from it. He has, in his words, “tried everything.” Maryland has devoted more resources to combating opioid abuse (if not nearly as much as advocates say is necessary). It has expanded the availability of the anti-overdose drug Narcan and persuaded the federal government to let Medicaid cover some residential drug treatment. It has taken steps to prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers, and it has established a system for coordinating the response to the epidemic across the state. And still 2,282 people died of overdose deaths in Maryland last year, the vast majority from opioids and increasingly because of the spread of the highly potent synthetic drug fentanyl. “We’ve done more than anyone else has ever done, but we still haven’t solved the problem,” Mr. Hogan said.

If there is any good news to be had, it’s that Maryland has not, in fact, tried everything. Even without taking some of the more radical steps some advocates have called for, such as the establishment of safe consumption sites where addicts can use illegal drugs under supervision, Maryland can do more to combat addiction and with it overdoses.

The first place to start is in Maryland’s prison system. Although the state has worked to reduce the number of people who are in jail purely for drug offenses, the interrelationship between substance abuse and other crimes means that an estimated 60 percent of Maryland inmates suffer from some form of addiction. The Hogan administration has sought to address that, for example by exploring the idea of turning the now shuttered Baltimore City Detention Center into a facility to treat the often complex medical, psychiatric and addiction-related problems faced by those awaiting trial or serving short sentences in Baltimore. But the corrections system’s continued reluctance to provide medication-assisted therapy for addiction represents a frustrating missed opportunity.

Maryland is hardly unique in focusing almost exclusively on abstinence-based treatment in prisons. Only Rhode Island has made the anti-addiction drugs methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone widely available behind bars. But its results have been extremely encouraging — as The Sun’s Doug Donvan reported in his recent analysis of the Hogan administration’s efforts, Rhode Island saw a 61 percent decrease in overdose deaths among those leaving prison after it began screening all inmates for substance abuse and providing medication-assisted therapy.

Detainees in Baltimore City, where the jail is run by the state, are able to participate in a limited methadone program, but those who were on buprenorphine before their arrest are forced to switch medications, a big risk for someone whose addiction was under control. And those who wind up going to prison have to endure detox, except in rare circumstances, which is not only difficult but also detrimental to their long-term sobriety.

Hogan administration corrections officials are aware of the shortcomings of addiction treatment behind bars, and they have taken some tentative steps toward medication-assisted treatment, for example with a pilot program to provide some inmates with naltrexone (a long-acting anti-addiction drug) before they are released. But they have still not been willing to embrace Rhode Island’s approach out of a fear that anti-addiction drugs — and buprenorphine in particular — could be diverted from its intended user and abused, a phenomenon they say has documented ill effects on prison safety. But addictions specialists say the concern that buprenorphine can be abused by those trying to get high is greatly overblown, and that most often, diversion takes place because there isn’t enough of it to treat addiction. If it were as easily available to inmates who need it as insulin is to diabetics, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous has pledged to make all forms of anti-addiction medication available behind bars, and we hope Governor Hogan will join him in that commitment. By no means is it the only thing Maryland can do to reduce addiction and overdoses. We remain far from treatment on demand (particularly medication-assisted treatment, which is for most addicts more effective than abstinence-based therapy), and much more can be done on a public health level to track and respond to overdoses. But if the state is looking for one relatively simple thing it can do to stem overdoses, making medication-assisted treatment universally available in prison would be a good place to start.

Via Baltimore Sun

Read more>>> After Larry Hogan vowed to take on Maryland’s opioid epidemic, deaths soared. What happened?

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About 4K Prince George’s County Public Schools Students Still Are Not Immunized

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An estimated 4,000 students in Prince George’s County Public Schools are still not immunized, more than a month after the start of the school year.

More than a month after the start of the school year, an estimated 4,000 students in Prince George’s County Public Schools still have not received current immunizations.

Students who are not properly immunized are not allowed to attend school, per state law. The law requires that all 134,000 students receive vaccinations within the first 20 days of school.

As of Thursday, no students had been excluded from school, a school district representative said.

Prince George’s County is not the only Maryland county that fell short this school year. Charles and Montgomery counties also had students not in compliance. As of Thursday, 50 students in Charles County and 12 students in Montgomery County had not been immunized.

Required immunizations help control deadly diseases.

The school system and the county’s department of health are offering free clinics to get kids vaccinated. Those are available at:

  • Bladensburg High School
  • Oxon Hill High School
  • Fairmont High School
  • North Western High School

Via NBC4

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PGCPS Supervisor uses Discriminating Comments to Explain Cancelled Varsity Season.

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Players for the Bladensburg High School junior varsity football team take a knee after their game against Dr. Henry Wise Jr. High School on Sept. 15. Photo by José Umaña/Prince George’s Sentinel

By José Umaña

BLADENSBURG – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Coordinating Supervisor Earl Hawkins accused the growing Hispanic/Latino community in the city of Bladensburg as one of the key reasons why the area’s local high school had to cancel their varsity football program for this season.

When asked about football’s diminishing interest with youth, Hawkins said that low turnouts to the Bladensburg High School’s varsity football team tryouts were caused by the lack of interest of Latino student body and growing demographic changes in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“(Bladensburg) has a large Hispanic population and a lot of those student-athletes participate in soccer and in other sports and they do not participate necessarily in football,” Hawkins said on Sept. 1. “…I do not think it is by a lack of interest in sports in general; it is lack of interest in the sport of football because they (Latino students) do not play our sport as much as our students do it or they have not been exposed to it.”

His comments have upset members of the Bladensburg High School community, where their Hispanic/Latino student population accounted more than 66 percent of the school’s enrollment last year according to Maryland State Department of Education.

More than 10 players on the Mustangs junior varsity team roster are Latino, including captain and two-way lineman Hernan Rodriguez, whose family originate from Nicaragua. When hearing Hawkins’ comments, the senior said he felt mixed emotions about the comments.

“I would not blame the Hispanic community,” Rodriguez said. “It is a very diverse school so you just cannot say that an influx of this race or ethnicity caused the team to fall off.”

Head Coach Byron Westbrook called Hawkins’ comments “incorrect information” while confirming that the 35-man JV team has players of different ethnicities and races.

“Just because the Latino population like soccer as their initial sport, that does not mean they are not interested in football,” Westbrook said. “Regardless of the majority of the population, all kids of any race, creed and color are invited to come. We do not discriminate against any populations here so I think that is incorrect.”

Stereotyping a community

According to recent census data, Latinos make up 18.5 percent of the county’s population. Nationally, the Spanish-speaking population is no stranger to the sport, with an ESPN Sports Poll finding 25 million Hispanics in the U.S. identify themselves as “NFL fans.” The growing demographics in the county also suggest Latinos are likely to be participating in football.

However, Hawkins stated that there are no travel football teams in the Bladensburg area to expose children of any race at a young age, leaving them unexposed to the sport while claiming there are “more soccer” programs. When questioned, he could not provide evidence of his claims.

“The numbers in football are struggling (in Bladensburg),” Hawkins said. “They no longer have the amount of football players that they used to have while the numbers in soccer are growing.”

There are four nearby youth football clubs, two of which are affiliated with USA Football, the governing body for amateur football in the U.S. proving that Hawkins’ statement on youth leagues was erroneous.

Both Landover Seminoles and KCP Dolphins confirmed that their children’s programs, ranging from 3-13 year-olds, currently have many Latino players in several age groups.

Dolphins Commissioner Eugene Harris and Coach Antonio Barr said many Latino children try out after seeing their practices or games at Columbia Park.

“It was not hard for them to learn the sport as the majority of (Latino players) understand team concepts at an early age,” Harris said. “This is our second year as the KCP Dolphins, and we had more kids overall trying out this year than last year, and we have not seen a drop (in interest).”

Mexican American and team linebacker Junior Marquez said he is used to statements like Hawkins’ as he dealt with similar remarks during his time with the PG Stags youth football team. However, his desire to play the sport outweighs their words.

“It should not matter where I am from when I want to play,” Marquez said. “I don’t really care to be honest on what he said. I grew up here, so I know how it is. Not everyone says that or says it so openly like that, but since we are Latinos, they think our sport is just soccer…but it depends on how each Latino feels.”

Brenda Rodriguez, Hernan’s mother, said her son was always interested in the American sport over soccer. She recalled taking him to play youth football and at times being the only Latino player on the team. He would tell his mother that he was “the minority in this sport” but took it in stride, she said.

“He would die for this sport and this team,” Rodriguez said.

Hernandez is widely regarded as the most experienced player on the team, senior safety Daryn Boden said. He believes his teammates would not welcome Hawkins comments, calling them a slight to their Latino brethren and “disrespectful.”

For Hernandez, the focus should not be on who caused the cancellation but bringing up school spirit to support the program moving forward.

“There has always been a stigma around Blade that the football team is trash, people follow that and make it a big deal. And nobody tries to help the team,” Hernandez said. “…There is a mentality that there is no school pride and people are too cool to get out of their comfort zone and support the team.”

Two other area schools with higher Latino populations, High Point and Northwestern, both have a JV and varsity football teams. Eleanor Roosevelt Head Coach Thomas Green said the cancellation should be used as a learning experience and not a sign that the sport is losing interest.

Instead of fearing football’s death and accusing groups of people, Green recommended county officials and fellow coaches study how their counterparts in other sports, like lacrosse and rugby, recruit minority students to participate.

“If you look at High Point High School, they have the highest Latino population in the county, and they have both a JV and a varsity (team), so I do not want to put it on that,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, they get it back to together and get them back in the fold. They have some good athletes in Bladensburg, and I would like to see them back playing football.”

This story is a part of a series.

Via pgs.thesentinel.com

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Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Coordinating Supervisor Earl Hawkins (shown above) 

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Maryland Attorney general should not wield unaccountable power – A fourth branch of government is Public Corruption

Changes in state law in 2017 gave Maryland’s Democratic attorney general the right to file any lawsuit of his choosing against the federal government.

He does not need the approval of the governor nor the General Assembly. The law does not have any checks and balances. He is not accountable to me, you, other elected officials, no one.

This gave Brian Frosh unlimited power, a fourth branch of government. To date, Mr. Frosh has filed more than 20 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes lawsuits against Congress for passing the tax cuts, the travel ban and other executive orders. He has also joined both New York and California in other lawsuits.

Only a handful have been litigated, and Mr. Frosh has yet to post a win. So who are the real losers? We, the taxpayers.

I have contacted Mr. Frosh’s office three times asking these questions: How many lawsuits have been filed? What is the general subject of each? What impact does the lawsuit have on Marylanders? How many have been won or lost? Most important, what is the cost to Maryland taxpayers?

Not only has Mr. Frosh not responded to my request, but I also asked a delegate and state senator to help get answers to my question. They, too, were met with a wall of silence from the attorney general’s office.

So, we as voters have a decision to make. We can continue to sign a blank check for unfettered power or we can say no. It is time that “we the people” provide the checks and balances.

This is why I am voting for Republican Craig Wolf for attorney general. I am hopeful he will not abuse this extended power, not spend taxpayer money like it is “chump change.” I feel I have nothing to lose with a conservative choice.

At the very least, Craig Wolf will be more responsive to citizens concerns and the call for transparency. He possesses integrity, the sense and qualities of a public servant that includes accountability — unlike our current attorney general.

Via The Enterprise

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Md. Democratic officials: Major Surge in absentee ballot requests signals a ‘blue wave’

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Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, left, and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, right, shake hands before a debate Sept. 24 in Owings Mills, Md. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The number of Maryland Democratic voters requesting absentee ballots has more than doubled this year over the 2014 election cycle, an increase that party officials call a sign of a “blue wave” unfolding in Maryland.

“We see this is an enthusiasm advantage,” said Kathleen Matthews, chair of the state Democratic Party. “We think it confirms the blue wave that we’ve been pointing to.”

With less than a month before Election Day, 45,543 Democrats have asked for absentee ballots, compared with 24,831 independents and Republicans. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans more than 2 to 1 in the state.

More than half of voters who have asked for absentee ballots did not vote in the 2014 election, Matthews said, citing data she said the party received from the state Board of Elections. Sixty percent of the requests came from female voters, she said.

The data was welcomed by aides to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous, who trails Gov. Larry Hogan (R) by a wide margin in polls but says he will overcome that disadvantage by spurring a huge turnout of new voters.

Washington Post-University of Maryland poll this week finds Hogan 20 points ahead of Jealous, with significant support among Democrats and overwhelming support from Republicans.

Jealous leads in only one jurisdiction, Prince George’s County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1.

Jim Barnett, campaign manager for Hogan, said in an email that Democrats are misinterpreting the requests from voters.

“Absentee ballots requests actually do not matter. What matters is absentee ballot returns,” he said. “[The Democratic Party] must attract much more actual support from voters than they are currently getting, and they have shown zero ability to do that.”

The state Democratic Party, which has increased investments in its ground operation this year, is pushing for more than 1 million voters to turn out to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket.

But the state Republican Party also is mounting an aggressive get-out-the vote operation, buoyed by Hogan’s record popularity. They are eager to flip control of at least five state Senate seats, which would eliminate the Democrats’ veto-proof majority in that chamber.

Via Washington Post

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Major Fiasco in PGCPS as Dead infant is found inside High Point high school’s bathroom

dc9ff297-2082-499f-8fcb-20d2288a6fb4-large16x9_HighPointHighSchoolBeltsville: An autopsy is planned for a dead newborn who was found inside a bathroom at High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland.

A school resource officer found the baby there early Wednesday morning, Prince George’s County police said in a statement. A preliminary investigation revealed the baby had been delivered that morning. Shortly after the discovery, the hallway was blocked off with yellow barriers as students passed by.

Students were still processing the death many hours after the final bell.

“It was a lot of mixed emotions,” said senior Joseline Ramirez. according to WJLA  news, “I was mainly shocked and concerned for the baby and the person who gave birth.”

Prince George’s County Police say the girl who delivered the baby was located in the school and was taken to receive medical care.

They say earlier, a school resource officer was alerted to a deceased baby in the bathroom. It’s not clear who made the discovery.

Detectives have yet to determine if the baby was a stillbirth or botched abortion. They say an autopsy has been ordered.

Still, students and parents alike wondered how the girl got to this point.

“I couldn’t have imagined how she felt,” said Ramirez.

“You would think that she would be able to go to the teacher or the counselor or something,” added parent Gail Powell, the mother of an 11th grader.

The High Point principal sent home a letter describing the large police presence on campus to address a “personal and private matter involving a student.”

“We encourage you to speak with your child about the importance of confiding in a trusted adult, such as a counselor, teacher, administrator or coach, if they have any concerns about their safety and well-being,” write Principal Nicole Isley-McClure.

“There should be some conversations at home and here at school,” said Powell. “There’s definitely resources.”

Read more  >>Police: Deceased baby found in bathroom at High Point High School in Beltsville

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Md. students can report threats through statewide school safety tip line

By Teta Alim

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled the “Safe Schools Maryland” tip line Wednesday, where students across the state can report possible threats anonymously. There’s also a smartphone app.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spoke to students about the new school safety tip line. They got a tour of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency facility in Reisterstown. 

WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled the “Safe Schools Maryland” tip line Wednesday, where students across the state can report possible threats anonymously. There’s also a smartphone app.

“All life-threatening tips will be immediately referred to local law enforcement and the local school system,” Hogan said at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in Reisterstown. “Through the ‘Safe Schools MD’ app, students can text their concerns.”

Students, family members, school staff and other school community members can anonymously report concerns by calling 1-833-MD-B-SAFE (1-833-632-7233), by using the app that’s available through the Apple App Store or Google Play, or through the tip line’s website.

According to the website, issues that can be reported are not limited to just possible violence toward the school community but also include bullying, mental health crises, harassment and abuse.

“Incidents of targeted violence at our schools are rarely sudden impulsive acts,” Hogan said. “Instead, in the majority of these incidents, another person, or persons, was aware of what the student was thinking or planning to do.”

Kiona Black, a training and exercise administrator at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said that within minutes, the system got a tip. “The first tip came in while the governor was speaking and I processed that while I was sitting in the room, and it was read and received within seven minutes,” Black said.

MEMA is coordinating the 24/7 tip line system with the Maryland Center for School Safety.

“Sadly, all too often, students, choose to remain silent because they are afraid of retaliation, rejection, or being stigmatized by their peers,” Hogan said. “We need to empower our students to break that code of silence.”

Instances of gun violence at schools has marked this year. In February, a gunman opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17. The next month, in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, a 16-year-old student was shot in the head by a 17-year-old gunman at Great Mills High School and later died.

Via WTOP

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