Monthly Archives: September 2017

Miller’s Prodigies Vie for Council Seats

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Council Member Mel Franklin (D-Dist 9) currently is carrying a lot of criticism because of his recent DUI arrest. Mr. Franklin is said to be a political prodigy’s of Miller, who recently came under fire in the Black community for his support of the Roger Taney statue which Republican Gov. Larry Hogan had removed last month. Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D) also called for his censure in the state senate.

Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D), who has been accused of controlling Black elected officials, made a rare appearance at SOBE’s Lounge for the birthday party and campaign announcement of County Clerk Sydney Harrison (D), who is running to replace term limited Mel Franklin (D) as the District 9 representative on the county council.

Harrison, according to several political insiders, originally intended to run for one of two at-large seats, but allegedly cut a deal with Maryland Del. Michael Jackson (D-27) that provides a stronger path to victory for Franklin, who currently is carrying a lot of criticism because of his recent DUI arrest.

“Since my heart has always been in Southern Prince George’s County, I have decided to run for County Council in District 9,” Harrison said during a Facebook live stream of the event. “In order to be successful, I will need your continued prayers, support and involvement. After spending the past three years and one year remaining serving as Prince George’s County Clerk of the Circuit Court, I feel it is the appropriate time to further expand my commitment to serve the citizens of South Prince George’s County.”

Bruce Branch (Courtesy Photo)

Franklin and Harrison make it no secret that they are political prodigy’s of Miller, who recently came under fire in the Black community for his support of the Roger Taney statue which Republican Gov. Larry Hogan had removed last month. Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D) also called for his censure in the state senate.

At the event, Harrison praised Miller for his support.

David Billings, Harrison’s chief political strategists, said people shouldn’t make too much of Miller’s appearance at SOBE’s. Miller’s appearance at SOBE’s, a popular Black nightclub and restaurant, shocked many people in the room. No one could remember the last time Miller had shown up in support of another candidate at a similar event in the county, but it is well-known that he has guided the elections of State Sens. Joanne Benson (D-24) and Ulysses Currie (D-25) and maintains a strong influence on their political decisions.

“Sydney (Harrison) is in the 27th and Miller’s district as a member of the Democratic Central Committee,” Billings told the AFRO. “Miller is the state senator so you would want his support. I sent invitations of Sydney’s announcement to all the senators in the county. You are going to get some connection (between Harrison and Miller).”

In light of Harrison’s decision, many political insiders speculate that Miller needs to maintain support on the council in light of the growing support for Muse, who is running a strong campaign against Angela Alsobrooks to replace current County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who is running for governor of Maryland. While Harrison has not made a public endorsement, Billings said he is personally supporting Muse and he added that the Harrison campaign would not be endorsing Franklin, who is running for an at-large County seat, in spite of Miller’s support, because of his recent DUI. “We feel as though once he announces the media is going to kill him,” Billings said. “He hit somebody and ran in the woods. We know the people that he hit.” Franklin pleaded guilty to driving while impaired earlier this year and received probation.

The loser in all this may be Jackson, who also had his eye on one of the two at-large council seats available, but has decided to remain in his current seat for one more term. Jackson had hoped to be the heir apparent to Miller, but things have changed.

“We have been sitting down with Michael Jackson and we just kept waiting and waiting for him to make a decision,” Billings told the AFRO. “We wanted to run at large, but we decided to run in Council District 9 and recently Jackson told us he was going to stay as a delegate. He wants to replace Miller as senator, but we have been told that Miller wants his daughter to replace him. He (Jackson) felt Miller was trying to push him out.”

For now, Miller is expected to be challenged in the primary and the general election by candidates hoping to unseat him and he may need Jackson’s help to win.

With Jackson out of the race for at-large county council seat, Karen Toles is said to be eying Harrison’s position as Clerk of the Court instead of the at-large race for the council. However, Billings said the Harrison campaign would be supporting Clerk of the Court Chief Deputy Benita Rabalais. Mahasin S. El-Amin, who works in Miller’s law firm and is the daughter of Prince George’s County District Court Judge Hassan A. El-Amin, is reportedly considering running for the seat although no announcement has been made.

However, former Del. Gerron Levi, who has strong union support, told the AFRO she is readying a campaign to run for an at-large Council seat. Levi, who also ran for county executive in 2010, finished second to current District 6 Council Member Derrick Leon Davis in 2014. Baker aide Calvin Hawkins will probably be a strong contender in the race given his name recognition and experience.

“We are planning to run a strong campaign that is focused on the needs of the people of Prince George’s County,” Levi told the AFRO. “We believe that we can make a difference in this current political climate.”

via AFRO NEWS

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Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D), who has been accused of controlling Black elected officials, made a rare appearance at SOBE’s Lounge for the birthday party and campaign announcement of County Clerk Sydney Harrison (D). Senator Miller recently came under fire in the Black community for his support of the Roger Taney statue which Republican Gov. Larry Hogan had removed last month. Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D) also called for his censure in the state senate.

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campaign announcement of County Clerk Sydney Harrison (D), who is running to replace term limited Mel Franklin (D) as the District 9 representative on the county council. Mr. Sydney is accused of being a political prodigy’s of Miller, who recently came under fire in the Black community for his support of the Roger Taney statue which Republican Gov. Larry Hogan had removed last month. During his tenure in the county seat at the court, there have been some problems which continues to occur. 

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Former charter school leaders settle lawsuit that alleged self-dealing scheme

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Donna Montgomery, former chief executive of Options Public Charter School, outside the school in 2013. Montgomery and others agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that public funds were diverted for personal gain. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

The former leaders of a public charter school for disabled and at-risk teenagers have agreed to settle a District lawsuit alleging they sought to enrich themselves by diverting millions of dollars in taxpayer money meant for the school into private companies they created.

Donna Montgomery, David Cranford and Paul Dalton, all former managers at Options Public Charter School, agreed to a collective settlement of $575,000, which will be paid to the school that now operates under new leadership as Kingsman Academy. Jeremy Williams, a former chief financial officer of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, who allegedly aided the scheme, agreed to a settlement of $84,237 in a separate deal signed last week. The defendants agreed that they would not serve in a leadership role of any nonprofit corporation in the District until October 2020.

“This settlement ensures that more than $600,000 in misappropriated funds will now go to Kingsman Academy to serve disabled students in the District of Columbia, and will deter future wrongdoing,” said Robert Marus, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General. “As the referees for the District’s nonprofit laws, our office will continue to bring actions against any who would misuse funds meant for public or charitable purposes.”

A statement issued by attorney S.F. Pierson, who represents Dalton, said all three former managers “continue to contest the District’s claims and continue to maintain their position that they managed Options to the highest standards.” Pierson said the former school leaders are “not personally paying” anything to settle the District’s claims. It’s common that insurance plans cover litigation-related costs for nonprofit directors or corporate officers.

Williams could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a civil case filed in 2013, the D.C. attorney general’s office alleged that the former leaders of the school, as well as the senior staff member at the charter school board, created a scheme to divert $3 million in tax dollars to themselves and two for-profit companies they founded. The companies provided services including transportation and Medicaid billing to the school at a markup, with profits pocketed by the defendants, according to the complaint.

Williams, who had been in charge of financial oversight of the city’s charter schools, allegedly helped facilitate the scheme, before he left his job at the charter school board to work at one of the for-profit companies.

After the lawsuit, the school went into court receivership. The two for-profit companies also went into court receivership and ultimately paid $200,000, most of which went to the school.

The city sued another charter school founder for a similar scheme in 2015. Court documents from that lawsuit, which was settled later that year, showed that Kent Amos, the founder of Community Academy Public Charter Schools, paid himself more than $1 million a year to lead the schools via a private management company he established.

Such allegations prompted the charter school board to strengthen its financial oversight procedures and its policy regarding disclosing conflicts of interest.

Scott Pearson, executive director of the board said in a statement that the board takes its oversight role “seriously” and that it has worked closely with the Office of the Attorney General throughout the Options litigation. “We thank the OAG for their persistence in seeing this to a resolution,” he said.

The U.S. attorney conducted a multiyear investigation of the case that ultimately did not result in criminal charges.

J.C. Hayward, a longtime television news anchor at WUSA and former chairwoman of the board at Options Public Charter School was initially named as a defendant, but she was dismissed from the civil case a few months after it was filed. The station placed Hayward on leave when the lawsuit was filed in October 2013, and she retired not long afterward.

Shannon Hodge, co-founder and executive director at Kingsman Academy, said she was “grateful” that the settlement dollars would go to the school that replaced Options. “We will certainly make sure that the students benefit from that settlement,” she said.

Kingsman opened in the summer of 2015. It operates in the same facility in Northeast Washington and serves a similar demographic that Options did, with a majority of students receiving special-education services. But it has its own leadership team and educational philosophy, Hodge said. “We are a very different school,” she said.

via Washington Post 

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WUSA9 weekday noon anchor J.C. Hayward—-once called a “news anchor legend” by the Washington Post—-was among several people sued by District Attorney

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Dallas Dance Under Investigation

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The state prosecutor is investigating former Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, a source told the press on Friday.

The investigation started earlier this year. According to the source, the investigation is looking at Dance’s publicized relationship with a company called Supes Academy, specifically allegations of possible bribery scheme.

The consulting firm was involved in a kickback scandal with Chicago Public Schools that led to prison sentences for the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and a former co-owner of Supes Academy.

In 2014, an ethics panel for the Baltimore County School Board found Dance violated rules when he took a side job as a consultant with Supes Academy while he was superintendent of schools.

The Maryland state prosecutor said he cannot confirm or deny the investigation.

Dance served as Baltimore County schools superintendent for five years and resigned in April, with a very short notice of 60 days saying it was the right time for him and his family to move on.

Read more >>> Baltimore Sun

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Maryland lobbyist pleads guilty to bribing lawmaker

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The FBI conducted a search Jan. 5 at the Board of License Commissioners in Largo, Md. (Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)

A Maryland lobbyist pleaded guilty Friday to bribing a state legislator in a wide-reaching scheme involving expanded liquor licenses in Prince George’s County.

Matthew Gorman, a 43-year-old Hyattsville attorney, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and admitted giving more than $5,000 in bribes to William A. Campos for political favors Campos did as a state and county elected official.

The payoffs were made after Campos agreed to intercede and help two businesses get or preserve their liquor licenses and for Campos’s backing of a bill to expand permits for Sunday liquor sales in the county, according to details in Gorman’s plea agreement.

Gorman, who worked to promote liquor businesses’ interests, pleaded guilty to one felony charge of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Campos, a Hyattsville Democrat, pleaded guilty in January to accepting $40,000 to $50,000 from a number of sources in exchange for official action, in addition to directing more than $325,000 in public money intended for charitable giving toward those who gave him personal payments while he was on the Prince George’s County Council.

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Then-Prince George’s Council member Will Campos in 2014. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

A sentencing date has not been set for Campos, who was a councilman for a decade, ending in November 2014, and then was a state delegate from January 2015 until he resigned eight months later.

Gorman admitted several payoffs to Campos, details in his plea show.

On March 28, 2013, Gorman left a voice mail for Campos asking him to meet a client of Gorman’s for lunch, according to court records. The client had a pending application for a liquor license. Campos returned Gorman’s call the same day, and on April 9, 2013, he wrote a recommendation Gorman’s client could use. The business got its license, and Gorman paid Campos about $2,000 for his recommendation, court records state.

Gorman spoke with Campos again in early January 2015, before Campos was sworn in as a state delegate, and asked him to intervene in an administrative hearing with the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners for the same client, who was having trouble getting its license renewed. Campos agreed to speak with an individual on the board, who is not named in the Gorman plea. Gorman eventually paid Campos $700 in $20 bills for that help, the court files show.

The Board of License Commissioners regulates the sale of alcohol in the county. There are more than 600 liquor stores, restaurants and other businesses licensed to sell alcohol in Prince George’s.

Gorman and his clients gave Campos $4,000 for voting in February and March of 2015 for a state bill that created special permits expanding Sunday liquor sales.

Gorman also offered to pay Campos $5,000 to meet with Montgomery County Council members on behalf of a Montgomery County client of Gorman’s and to testify before the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners to help save the client’s liquor license in the wake of administrative lapses by the client, court documents show.

Campos testified under oath for Gorman’s client on May 7, 2015, and two weeks later Gorman handed Campos $5,000 in cash that Gorman pulled from inside a three-ring binder in his office, the records say.

The investigation made public in January has seen charges brought against seven others besides Gorman.

Federal authorities also allege former delegate Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) received more than $10,000 in cash from liquor store owners in exchange for supporting the Sunday liquor sales bill. Vaughn has pleaded not guilty, and a trial date has not been set.

As part of an agreement worked out between the U.S. attorney’s office and Gorman’s attorney, Ty Kelly, Gorman agreed to forfeit any client fees he received in relation to the bribes. The government has not decided the amount it will seek.

A sentencing hearing for Gorman is scheduled for December.

Others named in the federal probe include liquor store owners Young Jung Paig and Shin Ja Lee, who pleaded guilty to funding bribes, as well as David Dae Sok Son, a former director of the Board of License Commissioners, and Anuj Sud, a former board commissioner.

Authorities have accused Son of facilitating bribes, while Sud is accused of exchanging votes for money. Both are awaiting court proceedings.

Felix Nelson Ayala, a Rockville accountant who authorities say gave Campos cash in exchange for public money for a nonprofit associated with Ayala, pleaded guilty to bribery in August but has not been sentenced.

Via Washington Post

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Renee Foose says she declined post at Maryland Department of Education

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Dr. Renee Foose 

Dr. Renee Foose whose tumultuous tenure as Howard County school superintendent ended in May, said Wednesday she has declined to take a position with the Maryland State Department of Education that had been approved by the state school board Tuesday.

“Our education system is being undercut by toxic politics,” Foose said in an email Wednesday evening. “The only way to change this toxic environment is to demonstrate civility and lead by example. I have a great deal of knowledge and skills to contribute, but not at the expense of having my family, friends and colleagues attacked and harassed.”

Foose was formally offered the job Tuesday evening, she said, after the school board voted to accept state Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon’s recommendation to give her a job as an assistant superintendent for assessment, accountability and information technology.

Foose would have earned between $92,000 and $123,000, according to a description of the position. The salary would have come on top of nearly $1.65 million in salary and benefits the Howard County school board agreed to pay Foose to persuade her to retire. The payments represented more than what it would have cost the board to keep her for the remaining three years left on her contract.

Criticism of the state school board’s vote to hire Foose followed quickly after the decision was announced.

On Wednesday, Gov. Larry Hoganreleased a letter in which he said he had urged Salmon to reconsider hiring Foose. Writing to a constituent, Hogan said he shared the concerns of school board members, educators and parents in Howard County and added that Foose’s hiring “is not a decision I would have made.”

Hogan does not have authority over appointments to the Maryland State Department of Education.

Foose’s job was listed among other hires Salmon presented to the board. State and local school board’s usually don’t interfere with the hiring of staff, and approve hires without comment or discussion.

A spokesman for the governor’s office confirmed that the letter was sent to constituents who had contacted his office.

In addition, nine members of the Howard County delegation to Annapolis sent a long, detailed letter to the state school board Wednesday expressing their concern over the Foose hiring.

“The State Board or the Superintendent could easily fall victim to Dr. Foose’s next lawsuit when something happens not to her liking,” the legislators wrote.

A power struggle between Foose and the Howard County school board erupted after three new school board members were elected last fall on a platform opposing her, and she no longer had the support of the majority of the panel. She had been criticized by parents, who said she ignored their concerns about mold in schools and refused to turn over documents they had sought via Maryland Public Information Act requests.

Foose eventually sued the Howard school board, contending that, among other things, they were trying to usurp her authority. Under a settlement reached with the Howard County school board and signed May 2, Foose agreed to drop her lawsuit and each side agreed to cease making disparaging comments about each other.

The terms of the settlement were criticized by legislators and parents at the time as being excessive and a waste of taxpayer money.

The hiring of Foose, the Howard lawmakers said in their letter Wednesday to the state school board, sends “a clear message to Howard County residents that you disregarded the history of Howard County’s relationship with Dr. Foose.” They added that they had “already heard from numerous constituents who question whether you care about them or the children of Maryland.”

Foose said Wednesday that Salmon had called her Tuesday evening to congratulate her and discuss salary, but that she declined the position at that time.

“I have spoken with Dr. Salmon and after receiving her official offer yesterday, I thanked her for considering me and I declined the position,” she said in the email sent Wednesday evening.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Via Baltimore Sun

Former Howard superintendent Renee Foose hired by MSDE

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Dr. Renee Foose

Dr. Renee Foose who resigned in May as Howard County’s school superintendent after months of public feuding with her school board, was hired Tuesday by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Foose’s new job as an assistant superintendent for assessment, accountability and information technology will pay between $92,000 and $123,000, according to a description of her new position. The salary comes on top of nearly $1.65 million in salary and benefits Howard County agreed in May to pay Foose to persuade her to retire as schools superintendent. The payments represented more than what it would have cost the board to keep her for the remaining three years left on her contract.

In her new job she will oversee accountability and testing, a role similar to one she formerly held in Montgomery County before going on to work as a school administrator in Baltimore County and then becoming superintendent in Howard. Foose has worked in Maryland public schools for more than two decades. After serving as associate superintendent for Montgomery County public schools, she spent about a year in Baltimore County from 2011 to 2012 as the deputy superintendent. She also served as a principal in Montgomery and Washington counties. She was the first woman superintendent in Howard County.

The state school board voted Tuesday afternoon to approve Foose’s hiring by Karen Salmon, the state school superintendent.

Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the state department of education, said department administrators would have no comment on the decision to hire Foose.

Howard County board pledged to pay Foose $1.65 million package to step down as school superintendent
“It is something I am passionate about,” Foose said of her new job. “I have talents in that area that I hope lend nicely with Dr. Salmon’s vision,”

Foose said her salary and start date have not yet been set. Her payments from Howard County include pension benefits, and she will qualify for a second pension in her new state job.

A power struggle between Foose and the school board erupted after three new school board members were elected last fall on a platform opposing her. She was left with a minority of the board’s support.

Foose eventually sued the school board, claiming, among other things, that they were trying to usurp her authority. Under a settlement reached with Howard County and signed May 2, Foose agreed to drop her lawsuit and each side agreed to cease making disparaging comments about each other. The terms of the settlement were criticized by legislators and parents at the time as being excessive and a waste of taxpayer money. Her opponents had said she was dictatorial and ignored issues that were important to parents.

The hiring of Foose by the state education department angered state Del. Warren Miller, a Howard County Republican.

“She received well over a million dollars. Now we are rewarding her with a state job?” he said. “I think the biggest issue is that this is someone who sued the taxpayers of Howard County. We never found out in court what would have happened. ….I think this is a tremendous liability for the state taxpayers.”

Colleen Morris, president of the Howard County Education Association, said the teachers union is “disappointed that the state board didn’t pay closer attention to what happened in Howard County.”

“I don’t understand how the state can hire her as their accountability superintendent when she had these accountability issues in Howard County,” Morris said.

An earlier version misstated who from the state department of education indicated there would be no comment on Foose’s hiring. The Sun regrets the error.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Via Baltimore sun 

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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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