Category Archives: “Ashes to ashes”

Future of the County –

…Heroes of tomorrow.

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 An Opinion.

Today we found ourselves visiting with several parents to monitor our children in several schools within the county to monitor progress made so far. We visited schools surrounded by people living in some of our most neglected communities in Oxon Hill, Capital Heights, Riverdale, Langley Park and Hyattsville. It is an interesting coincidence that got us thinking of the work that the heroes of yesterday began, and that our children and their children have to carry on with. Our county has had great men and women standing up at different times, but towards the same goal, of ensuring liberty, prosperity and justice for all.

The freedom fighters risked all to liberate us from the colonial yoke. After independence, another generation stepped in and risked everything when the very dreams that inspired the freedom fighters were being rolled back. These are the heroes of the first Liberation who faced numerous challenges including racism and segregation machines ultimately they reclaimed the rights and freedoms that were being taken away. For which they paid a great price. The heroes of our first, second, third, etc. Liberations have brought us this far. Some of these Heroes were Black, Indians, Whites, Latinos, and Asians amongst races. We are immensely indebted to them.

In July 2014 the United States of America turns 238 years old and counting. As we remember the heroes of the past centuries, we must focus on the next 50 years ahead and ask ourselves, who will be our heroes of that period and what will make them?

Listening to various leaders including governor O’Malley of Maryland, County Executive Rushern Baker, Senator Joan Benson of Prince George’s County speak about their challenges and promises of their respective areas, we found ourselves thinking of our country’s next fifty years, its old challenges that we have been unable to subdue and the new ones we are yet to start tackling.  It occurred to us that the heroes of the years ahead might be made in our county if we get it right.

Our county is certainly set to be the next theatre of action, opportunities, challenges and growth. That is why Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is  the most affluent metropolitan area in the United States. Prince George’s county in particular has been a magnet for international immigration since the late 1960s. It is also a magnet for internal migration (persons moving from one region of the U.S. to another). Many students in Prince George’s county bear great potential and promise for the future but they are never challenged for greater capabilities. What can we do to make their world mean something or rewarding?

In southern Maryland, NASA records the strongest all-round the year wind blowing in the same direction and capable of generating electricity for all of Prince George’s County. It has never been exploited. Like many other counties in Maryland, Prince George’s county is changing fast but transforming too slowly. The economy is growing, but so are poverty levels. Despite new challenges and new opportunities, outdated mindset  full of discriminatory tendencies persists. The heroes of the next fifty years of our county will be men and women who accept that we cannot create the future by clinging to the past. We should embrace diversity and work together for good of the county and the United States of America.

Prince George’s County and especially the County school system has a chance to open a new chapter with the coming of devolved units after HB1107. Already, a number of our county representatives are toying with grand visions but we should not let the old ways crop back in through the back door.

In the struggles of these representatives whether it is a senator, delegate or Board of Education member, we see a journey to determine the county’s future by expanding our county’s productivity. In this regard, the county carries great potential in determining our county’s next heroes. Unfortunately, the passion of the governor or other representatives or even the county Executive alone is not enough. Every defining moment in a nation’s history needs a champion at the center.  Abraham Lincoln stepped in to save the union that remains standing as the USA. He remains our country’s hero to date.

United States and especially Prince George’s County, needs people to champion and save devolution and secure our next fifty years. There is a simple logic that makes us passionate about the future of the county. The logic is that when we try to empower and make our neighbors rich, we create room for sharing, trading and making life rewarding for my neighbor, ourselves and myself.

Here in Prince George’s county, we still need to work hard to create better relations between our various ethnic groups. To win the battle against colonial powers, our founding fathers pulled together, in one direction. Today, we are falling apart at the seams. The heroes of the years ahead will be the men and women who will recognize this fact and act to permanently patch up the widening cracks between our ethnic groups whether white or black, Latino or Asian among other groups by addressing honestly and candidly the things that are setting various ethnic groups against another here in the county must be addressed. Let the leadership of the county Government be the model for others to follow. Let us challenge the state agencies like Maryland state Board of Education when they fail to perform in their duties properly and request proper accounting. Many of us paid a big price for advocating for change. We should not let the old ways of doing business continue unchallenged.

But we must also never forget that the struggle for freedom never ends. Future heroes will be men and women who remember the words of Ronald Reagan that…”Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on…”

Finally, whether we are ready for it or not, the world is moving into the era of innovation, science and technology.  Economists tell us that the world is getting smaller, but it is not coming together. The nations that innovate are going to rule the world.

United States as a whole has pioneered many things including planes, cellphones, internet, computers, etc. The planes are a unique United States contribution to the world. While it shows the capacity of United States to innovate, it may not be long before somebody comes up with something better. The heroes of the coming years will have to be men and women who keep United States of America on the front row through innovation, science and technology.  We live in an era when some corporations are richer than entire nations. We are confident that if we invest in them, the United States youth will give us the Sony, Citicorp, Philip Morris, Yahoo and Google of the next century and make them our heroes. The choice is ours.

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Prince George’s homeless shelters face challenges

…in severe weather

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According to Gazette, Some locations suffer from overcrowding

Record freezing temperatures in early January led to crowding at some Prince George’s County homeless shelters and compelled others to offer longer hours of service, officials said.

“We have had an expanded range of individuals calling into the hotline [this year] just in relation to the severe temperatures,“ said Laila Riazi, director of development for Community Crisis Services Inc., a nonprofit that handles Prince George’s County’s homeless shelter placements.

She said her agency processed 40,000 calls through the county’s Homeless Hotline last year and directed around 230 individuals to shelters, but the numbers are running much higher this year based on week-by-week comparisons.

The Warm Nights program was full after the first week of operation in November and was operating at 40 percent over capacity the second week, Riazi said. The program increased capacity by opening two church locations per week, but is still slightly over capacity, she said. >>> Read more Gazzette

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PGPD Urges Drivers to Lock Doors

…at Gas Stations

MESSAGE FROM PRINCE GEOGE’S COUNTY POLICE
It’s a crime of opportunity and takes just seconds.  You’ve got your back turned while pumping gas and a thief snatches valuables from your unlocked car.  Before you know what’s happened, the thief is long gone.
We’re unfortunately seeing this crime time and again and it’s entirely preventable.  Since early December, we’ve investigated at least 30 thefts from cars at gas stations in our county.
The Prince George’s County Police Department produced this important safety message. Take a few minutes and watch the video. Please also share with your friends and family.
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Federal guidelines address discipline in nation’s schools

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Federal officials Wednesday released guidelines intended to help the nation’s schools create discipline policies that would keep more students in class, avoid unnecessary out-of-school suspensions and reduce racial disparities in punishment.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. are scheduled to jointly discuss the new guidelines Wednesday at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, where they will participate in a roundtable conversation with students.

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Holder said in a statement. Both he and Duncan have long emphasized the importance of moving away from an overuse of suspensions, expulsions and arrests in the nation’s schools.

“We need to keep students in class where they can learn,” Duncan said in a statement. “These resources are a step in the right direction.” >>>> Read More Washington Post

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Read more >>> Ashes to Ashes in Prince George’s County School District

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crime down in PG county, However Problems continue…


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D’Juan Renay Hunter

The start of the 2014 New Year didn’t begin well for Prince George’s County.

Police dealt with two domestic related homicides. Despite the violence, the county says the long term statistics and trends show a brighter future.

“This county has been able to reduce homicides by nearly 40% in 3 years, ” said Chief Mark Magaw.  Despite these assurances, According to police sources, the first killing of the year occurred sometime before 4:30 a.m. in the 5500 block of Karen Elaine Drive in New Carrollton. Police arrived and found a 26-year-old man suffering from fatal gunshot wounds at an apartment complex.

The second murder was caused by D’Juan Renay Hunter (pictured above) of Shipley Terrace in SE DC who had a confrontation with his mother’s fiance’.  Police officials report that 38 year old Hunter came to visit at the residence of 52 year old Raymond Quattlebaum in the 9100 block of Goldfield Place in Clinton. (See the story here)  While there, Hunter confronted Mr. Quattlebaum, over something (No one knows much of what transpired). During the confrontation, Hunter shot Quattlebaum who was his mother’s boyfriend.  After the shooting, Hunter ran from the scene. He was found and arrested early on January 2nd, 2014  in Bowie. Hunter faces first degree murder and related charges. Not that there is ever a good time for a murder to take place, but this one supplanted the good news about crime in Prince George’s County going down.  It’s like we are the bad joke of the Counties around here.

The two New Year’s Day killings stood in contrast to the county’s year-end tally for 2013. Homicides dropped from 64 recorded in 2012 to 57 last year.

Read  more>>> WUSA 9

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Teen Shot, Killed after House Party

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Prince George’s County police said a teenager is dead after being shot early Saturday morning in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Officers arrived in the 11700 block of North Marlton Avenue shortly after midnight and found Rashad Andre Pinkney, 19, of Capitol Heights, Md., shot. Pinkney was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Police said officers had been in the area about an hour earlier for reports of gunshots and discovered hundreds of partygoers from a house part in the 11800 block of North Marlton Avenue out in the street.

According to NBC 4 News crew, An officer who was attempting to control the house party scene was assaulted by a 17-year old. As the officer tried to arrest her, she pushed the officer, breaking his leg and twisting his ankle.

The suspect is facing assault charges.

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Homeless Student Population Rises in Maryland

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COLLEGE PARK – Danny Lamont Jones seems like an average high schooler. He goes to class, and comes home and writes music when he can’t focus on his homework.

But for much of his high school career Jones, 18, wasn’t living like an average student. He attended four different high schools as he moved in and out of homes and shelters in Baltimore city. When he turned 12, he said, he moved into a shelter in for homeless teenagers.

“I had to make me own way from there,” said Jones, who now lives with his uncle.

Jones is one of thousands of students in Maryland who have experienced homelessness. The number of K-12 students identifying as homeless in U.S. public schools hit a record high 1.2 million during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. >>> Read More Capital News Service

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“Ashes to ashes” in PGCPS District Md.

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Update: Crossland High student fatally shot

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(Courtesy of the Johnson family) – Brandon R. Johnson

When Brandon Ramone Johnson’s friends and family light candles Sunday for his 18th birthday, they won’t go on a cake. Instead, the candles will be lit at a vigil memorializing the Crossland High School student, who was found fatally shot in a parking lot over the weekend in Prince George’s County.

Patrol officers found Johnson after they were called to a parking lot on Suitland Road at about 3:15 a.m Saturday, police said. He was declared dead at the scene. >>> Read more Washington Post  >>>  WJLA >>> Gazzette

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Crossland HS student fatally shot in Pr. George’s Saturday

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Prince George’s County police have identified the person found dead in a parking lot in Suitland over the weekend as a 17-year-old freshman from Crossland High School.

Patrol officers found Brandon Ramone Johnson after answering a welfare check at about 3:15 a.m. Saturday in the 4900 block of Suitland Road, police said. They found Johnson suffering from a gunshot wound when they arrived and declared him dead at the scene.

Detectives were not able to identify Johnson until Sunday because he didn’t have identification on him, said Lt. William Alexander, a spokesman for the Prince George’s police.

Police detectives are working to determine suspects and motives, but do have leads they’re investigating, Alexander said.

Police say anyone with information should call 1-866-411-TIPS.

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Pr. George’s school leaders…

…need to keep faith with parents

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Pr. George’s school leaders

By Keith Harriston, Friday, September 20, 11:29 AM

Here’s some unsolicited advice for the Prince George’s public schools chief executive, Kevin Maxwell: Let those who work for you in central administration know that misleading parents is bad policy.These days, parents with children at Judith Hoyer Montessori think that deception is school policy. (For transparency: I have a child at the school.) Why?

In late 2011 and early 2012, the school district held public meetings to discuss new school boundaries. The plan included moving Judith Hoyer to the former Oakcrest Elementary building about four miles away. Such a move to a larger facility, officials told Judith Hoyer parents, would allow the school to expand to include grades seven and eight. That would leave families in central Prince George’s with a full kindergarten-through-eighth grade Montessori program and put them on equal footing with public school Montessori programs that serve families in northern and southern Prince George’s. >>> Read More Washington Post

ANALYSIS

Traditional liberal concepts of democracy and citizenship rely on an informed citizenry to hold governments accountable. If they do not contribute fully because of their disappointment with government failings, and as a result withdraw from the political and democratic processes, some Politians might like it. When citizens withdraw, it is not the politicians that suffer but rather the people and their fellow citizens that do. While politicians might play the political game merely to win an election, this does great harm to their communities and nations all over the world. In this case, this how former county Executive Jack Johnson  was able to pull off through a reign of terror for many years without accountability. We should never let such a scenario revisit itself  here in this county. On this note, we applaud the parents of Judith Hoyer Montessori for demanding transparency. Parents in the other schools should do the same thing. This is the only way to keep the leadership in check.

“Winning elections only matters if the governing that follows progresses the county and the nation. The nation only progresses where citizens as a group are better off after the elections than before.”

Whether citizens are better off or not, it is a matter of judgment on the part of citizens and not necessarily what political factions assert. In the end, in an open democracy, the wisdom of the citizenry wins out.

We believe trust in government will not be restored by what citizens expect but by what they inspect within their local governments. There is a great need for politicians, at both the national and local levels and especially here in Prince George’s County, to be forced to submit themselves to greater inspection, scrutiny and accountability.

Politicians, should be scrutinized both before and after they are elected. Parents needs to get involved with parent teacher Associations (PTA) in their neighborhood schools.  They need to subject their leaders to rigorous scrutiny as to their thoughts about governing and their conduct in the governing process. The issue is to get at the heart of their policy content, intent and execution.

Only an alert, attentive and active citizenry can ensure this level of inspection. It is much to ask of people caught up in their everyday lives and the burdens of making ends meet, but when politics matters to the quality of everyday life, then involvement is mandatory.

While an active change in governing structure is important, the media cannot do it alone:  “It is not enough to leave the media to this inspection alone.  The media must play its rightful role, but an active media and active citizenry can make for a powerful inspection mechanism for politicians. If you want to make an inept politician shake, tell him or her that both the press and his constituents are demanding to speak with him or her and have some tough questions to ask.”

Sleeping voters and a passive media are an ill-intentioned politician’s dream.

As articulated before, Mr. Rushern Baker’s biggest test is creating a smooth transition within the schools, but if he wants to pass this test, he must persuade every single PG County citizen that he has sincere intentions that transcend his own political interest, for the wellbeing of the County to include other groups into the change management with the New CEO.

If PG County is to attain its aspirations for modernity, its politicians must see value in balancing county and national drivers of growth. This way, they can create enabling environment for Businesses to flourish while embracing other groups as part of the county system.

Our world needs drastic improvements in governance structure especially here in PG County under County Executive Rushern Baker III. If any improvement is to come, alert, attentive and active citizens must rise up and demand for it. The more alert, attentive and active, the greater the improvement is likely to be. Schools in the county are not going to progress if we do not get involved in the process and demand accountability. It’s our moral duty.

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“The collapse of good conscience and the absence of accountability and public scrutiny have led to crimes against humanity.” ~Nelson Mandela.