Monthly Archives: November 2018

Outrage after Interim CEO covers up for an Employee involved in a misconduct says the system can’t fire employee in racial slur video

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Interin CEO Monica Goldson

In a major fiasco in the county never seen before, Interim CEO Monica Goldson say the system can’t fire an employee caught on video admitting she used a racial slur because the woman is a union employee.

Monica Goldson, interim school CEO, said in a statement released Friday that she is “disappointed and deeply disturbed” by the employee’s behavior.

“While there have been calls for me to take disciplinary action, current negotiated agreements with our the union representing this employee limit my ability to address this situation directly,” Goldson said in the statement. “Additionally, there are other legal considerations. This employee, like all of us, is entitled to due process.”

Goldson said the employee, who has not been identified, has been reassigned.

A viral video posted on Facebook Nov. 12 by a Maryland woman named Dawn Tolson-Hightower showed part of an encounter in a La Plata Walmart parking lot that began after she said the woman didn’t like the way her husband pulled out of a parking space.

“Did you just call my husband the N-word,” Tolson-Hightower asks the woman in the video.

“Yeah, I did,” the woman says.

In a message to the school community, Goldson said: “Any employee who does not recognize, value and celebrate the value of our diversity has no place in our community of schools. Students of color comprise the overwhelming majority of our enrollment. We educate more students of color, send more students of color to college and employ more people of color than any other school system in Maryland. Diversity is the strength of Prince George’s County Public Schools”.

Goldson said she hoped the “unfortunate situation” could be used to “engage in meaningful dialogue to enhance our civility, respect and empathy.”

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Prince George’s Schools CEO Apologizes for Keeping Schools Open During Thursday’s Winter Storm

dca4769ad49e4dffad8f90e4f7ddaacb1.jpgThe chief of Prince George’s County Public Schools apologized to parents and families in a letter Thursday night, after the school district faced criticism for not closing amid icy and snowy weather.

Responding to safety concerns from PGCPS parents, Monica Goldson, the interim CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, said the decision to keep schools open came after staff surveyed roads, sidewalks and school parking lots and consulted with the county government.

“The weather forecast mainly predicted only rain for our region. With the information I had at that time, I made the decision to remain open. Our first buses hit the roads at 6 a.m. and the only precipitation reported was rain,” Golson wrote in the letter.

Thursday featured a wintry mix of snow, sleet and ice rain across the D.C. metro area, with some areas north of Washington receiving anywhere from two to 8 inches of snow. Prince George’s County experienced 2 inches or less of snow, and freezing rain, Storm Team4 Meteorologist Amelia Draper said.

Golson said she miscalculated the risk after the forecast changed and snowflakes started to collect. She confirmed that no bus accidents were reported, but her staff received multiple complaints from parents and other staff members.

PGCPS later canceled all afterschool and evening activities due to inclement weather.

“Weather decisions are never easy. However, I will commit to erring on the side of caution for weather decisions moving forward,” Golson said.

Social media lit up on Thursday after the PGCPS Twitter account announced at 6 a.m. that schools would be open normally.

Fairfax and Montgomery school districts both closed because of the weather, while D.C. Public Schools stayed open.

Via NBC4

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Monica Goldson is the Interim CEO

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: When Public Officials Censor You on SOCIAL MEDIA

kyr-social_media_blockingAs social media continues to grow as a form of communication, know your First Amendment rights in advocating for your children!! “Blocking users, deleting comments or forcing users to delete critical posts because they express critical opinions offends the Constitution and principles of transparency.”

As social media sites have increasingly become go-to platforms for personal and political engagement, our political leaders, system administrators are turning to Facebook, instagram and Twitter to communicate with their constituents or followers.

The PGCPS press is keeping a close eye on the implications for Marylands’ free speech after Governor Hogan was censored last year. This year, the interim CEO for Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS) Monica Goldson recently forced a board member this year to pull down a Facebook post because she feared exposure. We have also received other reports in which citizens have been asked to remove messages from social media. In particular, when public officials use social media as government actors, the First Amendment prohibits them from censoring differing viewpoints. (See attached complaint below)

Blocking users or deleting comments because they express critical opinions offends the Constitution and principles of transparency.

So, what if public officials block you, delete your comments, or otherwise censor you on social media?

You have free speech rights when you use social media, and this webpage aims to help you understand them. However, this general guide should not be interpreted as an offer of legal advice for your circumstances.

What are your free speech rights when you use social media?

Both the U.S., Maryland and other states Constitutions guarantee your right to free speech. That right doesn’t go away when you go online.

The government cannot unjustifiably interfere with your freedom of speech when you use social media to share your thoughts or to engage in discourse with public officials.

What are public officials’ obligations to you when they use social media?

The answer depends on whether they’re speaking as private individuals or as government actors.

Private individuals can censor you, but government actors cannot generally censor you based on your viewpoint. However, the boundaries are not always cut-and-dry.

People who hold public office still have their own First Amendment rights. When they’re speaking as private individuals, they can express their views like anyone else, including on social media. The First Amendment protects their right to limit their audience or curate the messages on their personal social media accounts, just like it protects any other member of the public.

But when officials act on behalf of the government, they are subject to the limits that the First Amendment imposes on them as government actors. If a public official invites comments on a social media page concerning public matters or otherwise intentionally designates it as a space for public discussion, the social media page may become a “limited” or “designated” public forum. Where public forums are involved, public officials cannot exclude people from accessing the page just because the official disagrees with them.

Here are a few ways to identify whether an account is operating as a government actor:

Although it depends on the facts, there are three basic types of social media usage to watch out for:

If a social media account is clearly maintained as an official page by a government actor, such as using an official title or the name of an agency, it’s generally considered the official account. Example: @GovLarryHogan

In other cases, a page can shift from a personal account to an official one when an officeholder and other government actors treat it as an official government account. Example: @LarryHogan

Finally, accounts may appear to be personal in name and recognition, but a public official uses it as though it were an official government account. This can occur in at least three different ways:

  1. Officials opening up their social media for public discussion.
  2. Officials allowing individuals to ask for government services through their social media accounts.
  3. Officials using their accounts to publicly announce government information or policy – not just retweeting or sharing other government information, but making an announcement themselves.

When public officials are engaging as government actors, they are not allowed to censor you based on your viewpoint.

If a public official uses social media as a government actor in the above ways, the official cannot exclude people for having differing viewpoints. This means they can’t block users, delete specific comments, or restrict access in other ways on the basis of the viewpoints expressed.

A few principles guide what officials can and can’t do when they use social media as a government actor:

  • They cannot stop people from joining a public conversation on the social media account because of the views they express on the topics at hand.
  • They cannot block critical voices from asking for government services through the social media account because of those critical viewpoints.
  • They cannot prevent people from being able to see social media posts that publicly announce government information or policy because of their viewpoints.

A government actor can’t restrict speech based on viewpoint, but can they limit comments on social media using other criteria?

An official speaking as a government actor cannot limit interactions based on viewpoint, but they can limit other kinds of interactions. Depending on the circumstances, a person can be blocked for posting personal threats or profane language, including in accordance with the social media platform’s terms of service. An official can also preclude all comments or in certain circumstances limit discussions to certain subjects – in other words, government officials may have no obligation to open the social media account up for public comment, but if they do, they cannot discriminate as to which views get to be expressed in those comments.

What can I do if I’m censored by a public official on social media?

If you believe you have been wrongfully censored by a public official, you can contact the official or their office directly, as well the ACLU-MD.

Contact the public official to seek corrective action and more information:

Ask for your access to be restored!

Call or email the office of the public official or government organization and request your access be fully restored. You can refer to this document and other materials from the ACLU, other ACLU entities, NAACP and others linked below.

When contacting the public official or government organization, request a copy of the social media policy or guidelines for the page that blocked you. (You are entitled to the policies, and maybe more, through the state’s Open Public Records Act.) If policies are not available, urge the office to create guidelines and issue them publicly.

Contact the PGCPS Press so we can keep records:

Please share your story!

If you have been censored by a public official on social media, please submit a complaint form infor@pgparents.org. Include as much of the following information as you can:

  • A description of the problem, including if you believe you were censored because of your viewpoint.
  • A screenshot or photograph documenting that you were blocked or otherwise censored, or an explanation of how you know you were censored.
  • The name and or URL of the social media page.
  • Information about any attempts you’ve made to contact the public official directly, as well as any response you have received.
  • Although we may not be able to help, please also let us know if you would like additional corrective action.

We collect information about censorship so we can understand the scope of the problem, but we aren’t able to help everyone who contacts us. Please note that the PGCPS press will not pursue legal action or other advocacy on behalf of most people who contact us, and nothing in this resource should give you the impression that we can take your case.

What are other resources or examples I can point to?

ACLU-NJ Letter to Chatham Township Mayor:
https://www.aclu-nj.org/download_file/2464

National ACLU blog post Can a Government Official Block You on Twitter?: https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/internet-speech/can-government-official-block-you-twitter

ACLU of Virginia federal friend-of-the-court brief:
https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/aclu-amicus-brief-davison-v-randall

ACLU of Maine lawsuit against governor:
https://www.aclumaine.org/en/press-releases/aclu-maine-sues-lepage-over-facebook-censorship

ACLU of Kentucky lawsuit against governor:
https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-ky-lawsuit-challenges-governor-bevins-social-media-censorship

ACLU of Maryland lawsuit against governor:
http://www.aclu-md.org/press_room/318

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University lawsuit against President Trump:
https://knightcolumbia.org/content/knight-institute-v-trump-lawsuit-challenging-president-trumps-blocking-critics-twitter

Freedom of Religion

The right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The Constitution’s framers understood very well that religious liberty can flourish only if the government leaves religion alone.

The free exercise clause of the First Amendment guarantees the right to practice one’s religion free of government interference. That includes government both using its power to advance particular religious beliefs or practices, as well as using its power to put unconstitutional limitations on the free exercise of religion.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech, the press, association, assembly, and petition: This set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. It is the foundation of a vibrant democracy, and without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither away.

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Darlene Sale: PGCPS Systems Employee Accused of Using N-Word in Viral Video

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Auntie Darlene Sale was busted on camera using the N-word in a video which has gone viral on social media.

Tuesday November 13, 2018:  One of the media Specialist and a librarian at Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) based in Potomac Landing elementary school in Maryland is accused of using the n-word during an altercation in a Walmart parking lot in La Plata, Maryland. In a viral video posted on Facebook seen by PGCPS press, the woman has been identified as Darlene Sale, a 70-year-old employee of the Prince George’s County Public Schools district.

Auntie Sale has worked as a teacher, media specialist and librarian in Prince George’s and Charles counties for several decades. Sale’s status with the school district was not immediately known.  Sale could not be reached for comment by PGCPS press by the time of going to print.

After she was identified by members of the community as being the woman in the video, the school district issued a statement on social media saying, “PGCPS is aware of a video on social media involving an employee. We are working to address parent and community concerns. Diversity and tolerance are our core values. We expect all members of the PGCPS community — administrators, faculty, staff and students — to behave in a respectful manner.”

The video was posted to Facebook on Monday by Dawn Nichelle Lennon. “So while leaving the Walmart parking lot my husband was called The N Word, because he didn’t move out the parking spot the way she wanted him to. So you know me I chased her down and confronted her,” she said in the Facebook post.

You can watch the video below:

Lennon said on Facebook, “How dare she talk to my husband that way and in front of me and my children. The thing I thought was so profound is that she was proud of it and didn’t try to deny it. My house was burned down in 2004 by racist and now this!!! I’m so ashamed to live in a country that supports this type of hatred and bigotry.”

Lennon and her husband, Micah Lennon, could not be reached for comment by PGCPS press. She said on Facebook the incident happened at the Walmart in La Plata, Maryland.

According to the Prince George County Public Schools website, Darlene Sale is a media specialist at Potomac Landing Elementary School in Fort Washington, Maryland. She has worked as a teacher and librarian in the school district for several years. Court documents from a lawsuit filed regarding a labor issue show that Sale previously was a teacher and librarian in Charles County, dating back to the 1970s.

Sale is married with grown children and lives in Newburg, Maryland, according to her Facebook page. She is originally from Orlando, Florida, and graduated from Bangor Area Senior High School in Pennsylvania in 1966. She then graduated from Shippensburg University in 1970.

Lennon, 45, who also uses the name Dawn Tolson-Hightower, is a victim witness services coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C., according to her Linkedin profile. She has also worked as a management and program analyst with the Department of Homeland Security with the refugee affairs and international operations divisions.

Prince George’s County Public School system has been at the center of racist and discriminatory cases led by staff with outright racism and retaliation tendencies for many years now.  The latest episode comes after Deborah Hayes Toppins who engaged in a major conflict of interest involving the Principal Dwayne Jones at Laurel High School got promoted to security services as a supervisor to spy on employees after racist episodes at Laurel. Prince George’s County security services and PGCPS are being sued after major violation of rights involving employees due to these many illegal activities with ties to racism.

A new leader who is not bogged down with the local corrupt networks is required to help shape and salvage the sinking ship. Once identified, he or she will reunite the District in a fair way forward and help promote Family Unity of all races as we know it. 46147272_10212923970189346_6468478188115722240_n46195142_10212923969909339_4609042865488658432_ncharles.gif

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Nancy Carlsson-Paige: A Parent’s Guide For Young Children in the Digital Age (LINK ADDED)

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Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., is Professor Emerita at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., is Professor Emerita at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was a teacher educator in child development for more than 30 years. Nancy has written many books and articles on children, their social and emotional development, and the effects of media on young children. Her most recent book is called Taking Back Child.

She has written an informative guide for parents of young children about how to help them during the digital age.

Her guide was posted by DEY, Defending the Early Years, the premier organization supporting the healthy development of young children.

Increasingly, children are surrounded by screens. How much is too much? What should parents do to make sure that their children don’t become addicted to screens?

Count on Nancy Carlsson-Paige for sound advice.

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Maryland suspension Representation project set for November 14 at 6:30 pm

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In 2016-17, 48 percent of out-of-school suspensions in the Prince George’s County Public Schools were for disrespect and disruption. The same school year, 1 in 4 children suspended out-of-school were students with disabilities. Statewide, a quarter of elementary school children who were suspended in 2016-17 were from Prince George’s County.

What do these numbers mean for school climate for all children? What can we do to stop the pushout of young people who need the most support? Join advocates from the Maryland Suspension Representation Project on November 14 at 6:30 pm at G. James Gholson Middle School to learn more about your rights in the school discipline process and to share your experiences. Hosted by Delegate Erek Barron and co-sponsored by Carolyn Boston, Vice Chair PGCPS School Board.
For more information about MSRP, visit www.mdsuspensionrep.org.

https://www.facebook.com/…/gm.175430623…/10156102105817602/…

Quotes to consider

One parent Yolanda Rogers was quoted as saying, “I wish we would stop always blaming the parents. We don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s head or lives. They school system is too quick to punish so they “don’t have to deal” with the issue. Just last week I received a letter from my child’s school saying that if there are any fights they will be sent to the PGC dept of juvenile justice. How does that help?

Rick TylerRick was quoted as saying,  The lessons many of these children need will not be found in juvenile facilities where too many become scared for life, but it could be found within social or family services, health departments, more qualified counselors, psychologists or pupil personnel workers, etc., teaching more educators about restorative practices, cleaning up negative community and home environments, etc. After all, a child only learns what he has experienced and many and their families do not have positive ones at home, their communities or at school.”

Alisha Wrenn was quoted as saying,As the parent of a child who was suspended 12 times in one school year(5th grade), mostly for being an “environmental disruption” this really hits close to home. My son has home training and he is respectful, but because he learns differently he sometimes would act out when he did not understand something to the point that school didn’t want to deal with him so they suspended him back to back to back. Not every child learns the same. You have to meet children at their point of understanding. My son is now in the 11th and just recently removed his IEP and is doing better. I feel like these children are slipping through cracks and and are the main products for the pipeline to prison.”

Dr. Gail P. Bingham …. “But to deal with fighting you have to have the right people at schools to find the root of why fights occur…bullying? Self-esteem issues? Lack of unity and purpose amongst students? Inadequate, ineffective education? That’s why we need LESS high-salaried leadership outside of schools and more positive human resources i.e. GOOD counselors in schools to facilitate a positive school community…it’s not rocket science…when kids are not happy within, they take it out on others.”

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Reed Hastings: Netflix CEO & Destroyer of Public Schools – Goes Nuclear on School Systems.

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Netflix CEO and charter school supporter Reed Hastings has donated nearly $9 million this year to the independent expenditure committee of EdVoice.

Reed Hastings, billionaire founder of Netflix, hates public schools. He wants to eliminate school boards and replace them with corporate management. He has spent more than $100 million promoting charter schools.

https://capitalandmain.com/reed-hastings-the-disrupter-1101

“Hastings’ lavish spending has raised concerns among critics who worry that the sort of technologies and efficiencies he used to build his Silicon Valley empire and is now applying to education might not work for the nation’s schoolchildren.

These concerns were raised in 2014, when Hastings, at a California Charter Schools Association meeting, asserted that public schools are hobbled by having elected schoolboards.

“Let’s think large-scale,” says Brett Bymaster, a Silicon Valley electrical engineer who broke the story about Hastings’ school board comments on his blog about Rocketship, a charter school chain supported by Hastings. “You have someone who is contributing millions and millions of dollars to local and statewide political races and who was the former president of the state school board — whose stated goal is to end democracy in education. That is deeply disturbing.”

When Hastings served as chair of the California State Board of Education, he opposed bilingual education, leading Democratic legislators to block his reappointment. While on The State Board, he led the charge to remove any limits on the number of charters in the state and to limit regulation or accountability.

“The fact that California Charter Academy, one of the country’s largest charter school operators, collapsed and left 6,000 California students without a school during his board tenure, did little to sway Hastings’ enthusiasm for publicly financed yet privately run schools. Along with helping to fund the Rocketship and Aspire charter programs, he’s served on the boards of the California Charter Schools Association and the KIPP Foundation, the largest network of charter schools in the country. And much of Hastings’ school reform efforts have focused on technological solutions. He helped launch NewSchools Venture Fund, which has invested $250 million in education entrepreneurs and “ed tech” products. He’s also been a major backer of DreamBox Learning, which develops the math software used in Rocketship schools, and the Khan Academy, an online teaching video clearinghouse.

“But so far, the outcomes of many of these ed tech ventures have been mixed. Khan Academy has been criticized for including fundamental math errors in some of its instructional videos. And while DreamBox once championed a Harvard University study that found that use of its math software was associated with test achievement gains in grades three through five, the study itself noted it could not be ruled out that the gains were “due to student motivation or teacher effectiveness, rather than to the availability of the software.” What’s more, the user data collected by programs developed at Khan Academy, DreamBox and other companies are fueling concerns over student privacy.

“More broadly, education experts are worried about the impact of minimally staffed, call center-like computer learning labs on the nation’s students and teachers, especially as this approach becomes more commonplace in the name of cost savings and innovation. (In a 2012 Washington Post article, former Rocketship CEO John Danner noted that “Rocketeers” could eventually spend 50 percent of their school day in front of computers.)”…

“When Netflix became the first major U.S. company to offer unlimited paid family leave for both male and female employees, it was criticized for extending the policy only to its white-collar employees, not blue-collar workers in charge of customer service and DVDs. And while Microsoft has required that many of its contractors and vendors provide their workers with sick days and vacation time and Google has demanded that its shuttle bus contractors pay better wages, so far Netflix has ignored calls for improved working conditions for its contract workers, says Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising, a campaign to raise pay and create affordable housing for low-wage workers in the tech industry.

“Mehrens sees a similar class bias in Hastings’ approach to public education. “We see profound consequences, both political and economic, when technology industry leaders take action from a position of privilege and isolation from the very communities they desire to help,” she says. “When tech industry leaders like Reed Hastings call for an elimination of school boards or for more privatization of public schools, they block low-income people from using the one instrument that the powerful can’t ignore – their vote.”

“Hastings’ end goal for California appears to be the near-total replacement of traditional public schools with charter schools. In his 2014 speech where he discussed abolishing elected school boards, Hastings pointed to New Orleans – whose school system was largely taken over by the State of Louisiana after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and converted to the country’s first predominantly charter public school system – as a model:

“So what we have to do is to work with school districts to grow steadily, and the work ahead is really hard because we’re at eight percent of students [in charters] in California, whereas in New Orleans they’re at 90 percent, so we have a lot of catchup to do… So what we have to do is continue to grow and grow… It’s going to take 20-30 years to get to 90 percent of charter kids.”

As mentioned in the report, “Undeterred, Hastings and other school reform-minded tech billionaires want to inject the start-up mentality into the country’s schools, using high-tech solutions to replace human labor and disrupting longtime management and oversight approaches in the name of efficiency. But to Brett Bymaster in San Jose, that’s not the right approach. After all, roughly half of all start-ups fail. What happens to the children who get caught in those failures, like the students left without a school when California Charter Academy folded?”

For his contempt for public schools and his determination to remove democratic governance of education, I hereby place Reed Hastings on this blog’s Wall of Shame.

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‘Totally unacceptable’: Polling problems in Maryland leave voters waiting for hours as part of voter suppression.

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A dozen Prince George’s County voting precincts ran out of printed ballots late Tuesday, triggering a mad rush-hour scramble – The voter suppression exercise caused many to cancel the plans to exercise the democratic rights to vote, as many voters in the county wailed in disgust.

Voter suppression is defined as a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters through persuasion and organization. Voter suppression, instead, attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition.

The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, to physically intimidating prospective voters, which is illegal. Voter suppression can be effective if a significant number of voters are intimidated or disenfranchised. In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that voting laws had resulted in voter suppression and discrimination.

According to Washington post, More than a dozen Prince George’s County voting precincts ran out of printed ballots late Tuesday, triggering a mad rush-hour scramble in which election officials and technicians drove to the far northern and southern reaches of the county with additional supplies.

Voters, who turned out in unusually large numbers for a midterm election, waited for more than two hours at some polling sites. A similar problem occurred on a smaller scale in Burtonsville, in eastern Montgomery County.

As a result, hundreds of voters in the Democratic strongholds of Prince George’s and Montgomery were still in line when the Associated Press called the Maryland gubernatorial race for Gov. Larry Hogan (R) at 9:07 p.m., just over an hour after the polls closed.

Supporters of Democratic challenger Ben Jealous reacted with incredulity.

“How can you do that when all the votes aren’t in?” asked Del. Bilal Ali (D-Baltimore City). “It’s unfair.”

Prince George’s election officials denied any effort to suppress voters, saying that Election Day was a success for most voters. But they blamed themselves for the miscalculation.

“I take full responsibility. I apologize to voters for their experience in these affected precincts but also thank them for being patient,” said Elections Administrator Alisha Alexander, who has managed the Prince George’s elections operation for 11 years. “It was a blunder and a huge anomaly.”

Turnout was 52 percent in Prince George’s, compared with 40 percent for the midterm elections four years ago. Alexander said certain polling places were unusually active this year.

Election officials calculated the number of paper ballots sent to each of the county’s 274 precincts based on 2016 turnout, allotting enough ballots for 70 percent of the total turnout from the presidential election that year. But their formula was off for approximately 13 precincts — or about 5 percent of all Prince George’s polling places — spread across the 500-square-mile Washington suburb.

“I was stunned when we started getting calls around 4:30 p.m. saying they were dangerously low on ballots,” said Alexander, adding that the county has used similar formulas in past elections without a problem.

Election officials assembled teams of couriers to ferry more ballots from the Largo office. But rainy conditions and traffic-clogged roads delayed drivers heading in either direction. Just before 8 p.m., Maryland Democrats sent pizza to voters at the polling locations in Accokeek and Upper Marlboro, where the lines were longest.

“If there is one shining light in all of this, it’s that voters were overwhelmingly, though frustrated, patient,” Alexander said. “They were ready and stood in line. Everyone who came to cast a ballot and waited was able to exercise their right to vote.”

On the Maryland State Board of Elections website, results remained unreported for about two hours, and officials said they were aiming to refrain from posting results until voting ceased. The most affected polling stations in Prince George’s did not close until after 10:30 p.m.

Alexander said that in the future she wants to implement a plan to have enough ballots at each precinct for every eligible voter.

In Burtonsville, a scanner breakdown and other issues created long lines that left voters waiting for hours at the Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, officials said.

David Naimon, a member of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said the scanner broke early in the day, leaving the Praisner center with just one working machine. The center also had been an early voting site, meaning anyone could vote there, regardless of where in the county they live — leading to confusion on Election Day, when that was no longer the case.

Dozens of voters turned up at the polling location Tuesday assuming they could cast their ballot, only to be told they were in the wrong place and had to go elsewhere, Naimon said.

Like Prince George’s, Burtonsville is a largely African American area that leans heavily Democratic — a fact that Montgomery County Council member Tom Hucker (D-District 5) said made him suspicious of election officials’ motives.

“It’s an attempt at voter suppression,” said Hucker, who handed out pizza and water to waiting voters in Burtonsville, where the line snaked around the hall twice before heading out the door into the night.

Hucker called the wait time “shameful” and said he met several voters who had given up and gone home. He interviewed several of them, posting their stories to his Twitter feed.

Jealous spokeswoman Jerusalem Demsas said the campaign was concerned that voters in the precincts were not able to vote in a timely fashion. When the Associated Press called the race, Jealous tweeted to his followers: “Stay in line. Keep voting.”

Montgomery Elections Board spokesman Gilberto Zelaya said officials did everything they could to mitigate problems on a day in which turnout was high — about 54 percent, on average — at their more than 230 precincts.

“We are mandated to serve. That’s why we do this,” Zelaya said, adding that the agency plans to increase its outreach and improve contingency plans to prevent future problems.

Hucker and other Democrats had criticized an attempt to eliminate the voting site at Paisner several years ago, and Hucker said it was especially unfortunate that problems surfaced at that site.

“We have 655,000 eligible voters, and we want to serve all of them equally, but sometimes we are trying to play catch-up,” Zelaya said. “There was nothing malicious.”

Read more >>> washington post  >>> Read more >>> WUSA9 >>>> Read more NBC4

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Another Fiasco Brewing For PGCPS and the County as Rushern Baker prepares for permanent political retirement.

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PGCPS (Prince George’s County Public Schools) Board of Education (BOE) lawyer (under contract), Atty. Len Luccis

PGCPS (Prince George’s County Public Schools) Board of Education (BOE) lawyer (under contract), Atty. Len Luccis, was apparently caught red-handed facilitating a scheme whereby he went around to several polling sites dropping off campaign materials for Incumbent Board Members who are running for re-election this season. Luccis dropped off campaign materials for School Board District 3 Candidate, Pamela Boozer-Strothers, at a polling location in District 3. There are also reports that BOE CHAIRMAN, Dr. Segun Eubanks, was caught on camera campaigning for Vice-Chair Carolyn Boston, who is also alleged to be involved with schemes and corruption in PGCPS.  

According to Prince George’s County activist, Janna Parker, Len Lucci is involved in questionable activities which are undermining democracy in Prince George’s County.  In an official capacity, Mr. Lucci is said to be a principal at O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore, PA. The firm specializes in Land Use and Zoning, Administrative Law and Government Relations.

For many years, O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore, PA has engaged in a wide variety of schemes in which PGCPS lost money, and the firm has also collaborated with other business entities operating elsewhere to falsify transcripts involving employees’ wrongful terminations. A few weeks ago, PGCPS CHIEF OF STAFF, Christian Rhodes, circulated a memo in which he directed the PGCPS staff not to get involved in political campaign related activities. (see below)

Christian Rhodes, who formerly worked for Rushern Baker, is the Chief of Staff for Prince George’s County Public Schools and reports directly to Dr. Monica Goldson (the interim CEO).

Christian Rhodes, who formerly worked for Rushern Baker, is the Chief of Staff for Prince George’s County Public Schools and reports directly to Dr. Monica Goldson (the interim CEO).

The memo was written after Sydney Harrison, CLERK of the PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, was in hot water after disrespecting a female volunteer at PGCPS Gwynn Park High School. However, Len Luccis (under contract with PGCPS) and Segun Eubanks (PGCPS BOE Chair) appear to be in violation of the very memo Chief of Staff Christian Rhodes wrote about.

Here is what Janna Parker wrote:

Ssssoooo apparently- GET THIS, PGCPS Board Lawyer (under contract), Len Lucci, (the guy I referenced in my live this morning, who I physically saw dropping off campaign materials for Boston, apparently went to several polling sites dropping off campaign materials for Incumbent Board Members who are running for re-election AND dropped off campaign materials for School Board District 3 Candidate, Pamela Boozer-Strothers, at a polling place in District 3.

Now, I’m uncomfortable with a school board lawyer actively working to help an incumbent during the election cycle because it shows a lack of impartiality, BUT I am extremely uncomfortableit is highly inappropriate for that same board lawyer [to be] actively helping and supporting the campaign of someone who was never even on the school board. How is that appropriate? Teachers, Parents, Voters! This is an example of the lack of transparency, appropriateness, and accountability from members of OUR school board in a bid to openly alter the course of voting– to “stack” the board [BOE] with who THEY want…

Ask yourself…why is the School Board itself, through various incumbent members and with board employees, fighting so hard against The TEACHER RECOMMENDED CANDIDATES- Joshua M. Thomas, Arun Puracken, Juwan Blocker and Belinda Queen to the point where they are delivering literature to poll sites to incumbents running for re-election AND candidates that have never served on the board? I have nothing against the people running against the aforementioned candidates in District 2 and 3, but I would like for there to be propriety on all sides.

Go ahead and call your opponents out if you feel like their behaviors are shady and inappropriate… I got no issues with that because everyone should be accountable for their actions, but also acknowledge your own [inappropriate actions].

Thank you to Wala Blegay for providing more clarity: Len Lucci does not actually work for the government. He works for a law firm which does lobbying. He is probably on contract…Len is involved in a lot of campaigns because of his political involvement. The memo about school board employees wouldn’t apply to him because he’s not an employee.”

This writer’s opinion is the CORRUPT SUPPORT the CORRUPT. As one author quoted from a documentary, “In a corrupt system, the corrupt are promoted.”

Corruption flows from MONTGOMERY COUNTY also where a Judge Cho there engaged in cover-ups concerning corruption in Prince George’s County. When this detailed allegation was shared with GOVERNOR Hogan about how they falsified documents in court–instead of having her punished, he promoted her to Circuit Court of Montgomery County. Can you imagine what he will do if elected for a second term?

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Head of county permitting retires amid MGM National Harbor corruption scrutiny

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Haitham A. Hijazi, head of the Prince George’s County permitting department

By Rachel Chason and Lynh Bui

Haitham A. Hijazi, head of the Prince George’s County permitting department that is being investigated as part of a broadening probe of construction flaws at MGM National Harbor, submitted his retirement Monday.

Hijazi is leaving the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, a spokesman for County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) confirmed. Hijazi, who has led the department since 2013, sent a retirement notice to Baker’s office, spokesman Scott Peterson said.

Hijazi’s department issued the permits and approvals for the MGM facilities, where a child was severely shocked in June when she was swinging on a lighted handrail.

Two county officials familiar with the matter said Hijazi retired to avoid termination from his job, which was a $210,000-a-year post.

Hijazi’s official retirement date is Nov. 30, and he will use his annual leave until then, Peterson said. Nicholas A. Majett, Prince George’s chief administrative officer, will assume Hijazi’s duties until Dec. 3, when the next county executive will be sworn in.
The FBI is assisting Prince George’s police in the probe of the resort site, which will look at the possibility of public corruption, and whether corners were cut to speed up the opening of the $1.4 billion project.

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Haitham Hijazi at news conference following announcement of findings by an independent engineer. (Rachel Chason/The Washington Post)

An independent engineer hired by the county ­released a report describing the wiring feeding the handrail as “terrible” and some of the “sloppiest work” he has ever seen.

Hijazi had said he felt “betrayed” by the electrical contractor and a third-party inspector but described the MGM problems at the siteas limited and said there is no “imminent danger” at the property.

Hijazi could not be immediately reached for comment about his retirement.

Hijazi has spent more than two decades in county government and was one of two department heads that Baker retained from the administration of his predecessor, Jack B. Johnson, who served more than five ye ars in prison after pleading guilty to evidence tampering and destruction of evidence in a broad corruption scheme.

When Baker was deciding who to keep from Johnson’s administration, he said that he repeatedly heard, “Keep Haitham.”

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The MGM Casino at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

In 2013, he tapped Hijazi, a ­Syrian-born civil engineer who spent a decade as head of the county’s $22 million public works and transportation department, to take charge of the new Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement. Baker said he hoped the new department would “go down as a signature initiative.”

Hijazi oversaw the overhaul of the permitting and inspection process, following years of complaints that it was too bureaucratic and not business friendly for a county that wanted to grow economically.

M.H. Jim Estepp, president and chief executive of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, said the business community “has been pleased” with ­changes made by Hijazi, whom he described as “one of the most professional and competent individuals I have known in government.”

Former council member David C. Harrington, president and chief executive of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce said Hijazi has always been accessible, personally calling him back when he raised concerns from business owners or constituents.

“There are still hurdles . . . but there is a perception now that the county is open for business,” Harrington said.

Hijazi’s retirement comes less than two weeks after county officials announced that they would be working with the FBI to expand their investigation into how the 6-year-old was gravely injured.

The girl was swinging on a lighted handrail near the fountain area of the resort along the banks of the Potomac River on June 26. The handrail and the wiring to the handrail were improperly installed along with a device that controls the voltage to the lights, according to findings from an independent engineer the county hired to review the incident. The faulty installation combined with other problems jolted 120 volts through the girl, 10 times what the power that should have been flowing to the lights.

The engineer’s findings confirmed a preliminary assessment obtained by The Washington Post that indicated the faulty electrical work represented “major” code violations that should not have passed the permitting and inspection process.

The preliminary assessment and the engineer said the wrong type of wiring was used to power the lights on the handrail and that the handrail was installed at a shallow depth and became wobbly. The loose handrail then frayed protective coatings on the wiring, and exposed bare wiring made contact with the metal railing, the engineering review found.

The child was severely shocked after grabbing the handrail to swing on it and then swinging her legs onto another nearby metal rail, completing the electrical circuit.

Hijazi said last month that he had ordered all electrical systems at MGM National Harbor to be audited in the next year. He also said the county took “disciplinary actions” against the electrical contractor and the third-party inspector who approved the work, but he would not offer details of what the discipline entailed.

Hijazi said he welcomed any investigation and was confident in how his office handled the process. “This is my home,” Hijazi said in an interview last month. “You never destroy your home.”

The third-party electrical inspector has told officials that he reluctantly accepted work that didn’t comply with code because he felt pressure to do so from other construction entities, according to a court document reviewed by The Post. An attorney for the inspector said his client was “by the book” and “safety conscious” and did not inspect the specific railing on which the child was injured. The entities were not named in the document.

No charges or violations have been filed against anyone or any company in the continuing investigation.

Via Washington Post

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