Monthly Archives: February 2015

Prince George’s school board approves $1.93 billion budget request.

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Segun Eubanks – Brother in Law to County Executive Baker and the board have requested biggest budget to date without accountability initiatives as part of the matrix to the State and the County Council. 

The Prince George’s County school board has doubled down on CEO Kevin Maxwell’s education reforms, approving on Tuesday a $1.93 billion budget for the next fiscal year, which includes expansion of prekindergarten and career academies, despite the possibility of cuts in state funding.

“In order for us to significantly improve as a school district, we can’t just keep pace with everyone else,” said school board chairman Segun Eubanks. “We have to outpace our neighboring counties. If we’re second to last, the only way to get out of second to last is to outpace everyone else, and that requires a significant investment.”

The budget is a 7.6 percent increase over the current year’s $1.8 billion budget.

Eubanks said it was conversations with Maxwell over the budget cuts that led to the increase.

“We had this discussion, and we were asking, what are we going to cut? Jeez, We don’t even have what we need. Why don’t we ask for what we really think would significantly accelerate the pace of improvement?” Eubanks said. “So we said, ‘Let’s ask for it.’”

Maxwell’s original budget froze the rollout of arts integration programs, career academies, full-day prekindergarten and peer teacher review programs, but those programs are included in the new budget, which Maxwell presented to the board the day before it was scheduled to vote on the budget.

>>> Read more 

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pgcps District system has recently become a cash cow for some corrupt county leadership because of lack of proper oversight. rushern-baker-head-111010wCounty Executive Rushern Baker III

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MTA failed to verify millions in Red Line, Purple Line labor costs, audit finds

The MTA hasn’t been tracking Red Line and Purple Line costs properly, audit finds

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The Maryland Transit Administration failed to verify the accuracy of millions of dollars in contractor-submitted architectural and engineering costs for the Red and Purple light rail lines, according to a state audit released Monday.

The unverified labor bills from four contractor groups hired to work on the two pending transit lines, scheduled for Baltimore and the Washington suburbs, respectively, account for or relate to $232.8 million in overall costs under the multibillion-dollar projects, the audit found.

That figure includes the labor costs as well as overhead and profit calculated under a formula based on the labor costs.

“Although MTA had sufficient procedures in place to approve changes to labor rates, had verified hours worked by individuals, and had monitored the overall progress of the work, MTA did not conduct periodic verifications of the contractors’ payroll reports,” the audit found. “Consequently, there was a lack of assurance that the billed rates agreed with the actual labor rates the contractors used to pay their employees.”

The audit does not allege the four contractors filed misleading or inaccurate costs, just that the state failed to properly vet the varying hourly rates per employee that were submitted.

>>> Read more Baltimore Sun

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Maryland lawmakers weigh attorneys’ fees…

for constitutional violations.

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Del. Jill P. Carter, D-Baltimore City, is the chief sponsor of House Bill 283, which would make government agencies liable for attorneys’ fees and legal costs, in addition to damages, if a plaintiff prevails on a state constitutional claim.

Government agencies and employees who violate an individual’s rights under the Maryland constitution would be liable for attorneys’ fees and court costs, in addition to damages, under legislation aimed at providing greater access to justice for low-income people.

The legislation, House Bill 283 and Senate Bill 319, mirrors federal civil rights laws that allow victims of U.S. constitutional violations to collect attorney’s fees and expenses in federal courts.

The legislation follows the Maryland Access to Justice Commission’s 2009 report, in which it recommended fee-shifting in state constitutional-rights cases brought in state courts as a way to encourage private attorneys to take on this often expensive and time consuming litigation on behalf of low-income Marylanders.

>>> Read more>>> sb0319f

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Net Neutrality: President Obama’s Plan for a Free and Open Internet.

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More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here’s a big reason we’ve seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally. That’s a principle known as “net neutrality” — and it says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.

That’s what President Obama believes, and what he means when he says there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.

And as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers new rules for how to safeguard competition and user choice, we cannot take that principle of net neutrality for granted. Ensuring a free and open Internet is the only way we can preserve the Internet’s power to connect our world. That’s why the President has laid out a plan to do it, and is asking the FCC to implement it.

Watch President Obama explain his plan, then read his statement and forward it on.

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Net Neutrality: President Obama’s Plan for a Free and Open Internet.

Barack-Obama-on-computer

More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here’s a big reason we’ve seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally. That’s a principle known as “net neutrality” — and it says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.

That’s what President Obama believes, and what he means when he says there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.

And as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers new rules for how to safeguard competition and user choice, we cannot take that principle of net neutrality for granted. Ensuring a free and open Internet is the only way we can preserve the Internet’s power to connect our world. That’s why the President has laid out a plan to do it, and is asking the FCC to implement it.

Watch President Obama explain his plan, then read his statement and forward it on.

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Ohio: Critics from Right and Left Demand

….Charter Accountability.

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Charter schools in Ohio collect $1 billion every year from the state. The charters on average have lower performance than public schools. Although Governor Kasich is a big fan of charters and vouchers and has received campaign contributions from charter owners, others think charters should be subject to accountability and should have open records for transparency.

Even the state Auditor, a Republican, thinks that the legislature must increase charter accountability. What about in Maryland with our new Republican Governor advocating for charter schools? What about an independent inspector General to go after bad guys to protect the tax payers?

Will it happen? We will see.

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Racists Can Only See Monkeys in Africa.

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In Israel, Racism is a live and well. The world needs to take a collective stand to fix these issues. These racists think monkeys are only found in Africa. However, Monkeys are also found elsewhere in the world including the Capuchin monkey native in Costa Rica, USA and S. America, snow monkey of Japan, Orangutan of Malaysia and Indonesia. See below. If we have to leave this world a better place, let us be fair to all people in the world.

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Capuchin monkey native in Costa Rica, USA and S. America 7664483516_af02b25ae8_bsnow monkey of Japan 10903887_10203552423678247_6925534968488641123_oOrangutan of Malaysia and Indonesia. l-Mountain-Gorillamountain gorilla found in Africa.

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Prince George’s Co. officials respond to alleged illegal activities

…at banquet halls, nightclubs

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A FOX 5 Investigation is getting the attention of officials in Prince George’s County. We have been telling you about two banquet halls doubling as strip clubs. Inside those clubs, we found what appeared to be underage girls and other illicit activities.

Following our conversation Thursday with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and our repeated requests for interviews with officials, the county held a press conference to address issues brought up in our investigation.

And although Baker was a no-show, his staff laid out what the county response has been and then answered our questions.

For the first time since we first brought you our FOX 5 Investigation, representatives from several agencies in the county addressed issues uncovered in our story.

The county is referring to these as alleged activities in certain county banquet halls.

“We have been dealing with this issue for years,” said Barry Stanton, deputy chief administrative officer for public safety in Prince George’s County. “Dealing with violations in dance hall clubs is not new to this administration.”

It is a problem we first brought you back in 1999. Prince George’s County police were then already responding to these alleged allegations.

Fast forward 16 years and we are still asking the same questions.

“So it takes a shooting or a homicide to shut down one of these establishments?” we asked at the news conference.

“No, it does not,” said Gary Cunningham, deputy director for the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement. “It has to be a safety concern.”

Our FOX 5 Investigative team went inside Irving’s and Club Fuego in Prince George’s County. Both clubs are licensed as banquet halls while also operating as full-fledged strip clubs.

We witnessed countless illegal activities, including fully nude dancers, women who appeared to be working and underage, and a woman in one of the back rooms of an establishment passed out and surrounded by men.

>>> Read more Fox5

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County Executive Rushern Baker III was a no-show

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Franchot happy with “new sheriff in town”.

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You’ll have to pardon Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot for feeling a little personal vindication.

After eight years on the Board of Public Works seemingly tilting at procurement windmills, the state’s top elected Democrat said he’s taking some personal satisfaction from a new Republican governor who seems to be of a like mind when it comes to watching how state dollars are spent.

“My view is it’s a whole new day on the Board of Public Works and the ultimate beneficiaries will be the taxpayers of Maryland,” Franchot said following just his second board meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan, Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp Wednesday voted to defer six spending requests totaling nearly $50 million over questions about poorly explained cost increases or bidding processes.

At the end of the meeting, Hogan declared there to be “a new sheriff in town.”

Franchot agreed.

“He’s clearly the new sheriff in town,” Franchot said. “I thought (Wednesday) was a big sea change from what it has been the last eight years that I’ve been on the board.”

During that time before Hogan, Franchot was typically the lone voice complaining about procurement processes he said did not yield the best quality or lowest costs for taxpayers. It was a complaint that frequently fell on deaf ears under Democratic Gov. Martin J. O’Malley.

“For the last eight years I was on the wrong side of 2 to 1 votes and if I in the future I am going to be on the right side of 2 to 1 votes, it will be personally satisfying,” Franchot said.

Read more: http://thedailyrecord.com/2015/02/19/franchot-happy-with-new-sheriff-in-town/#ixzz3SKOs4vMC

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Violence at PGCPS Forestville High Alarms Parents.

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Violent incidents at Forestville High School have parents alarmed.

A one-minute long cellphone video obtained by News4 shows a group fight among female students inside the school.

“I didn’t see any teachers, anywhere, trying to break this up,” one parent who saw the video told News4.

School officials confirmed the fight happened during the school day Jan. 20. News4 received the video after airing a story about a student at Forestville High School punching a teacher Jan. 29.

Daryl Williams, chief of student services for Prince George’s County Public Schools, said students involved in the fight were disciplined, but school confidentiality policies prevented him from discussing details.

Williams said he will review the culture at Forestville and see if the school needs additional resources to make it “the robust school that we know it is.”

“I guess for me as a parent it’s time for me to investigate what’s really going on here,” another parent told News4.

>>> See News4’s Prince George’s County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins talks to parents and school administrators about hall fights at Forestville High School. 

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