Tag Archives: Annapolis

‘This Can’t Keep Happening’: Top Lawmakers Rally to Help Exonerees

f7214ea80d4a9c647b147f11b8d0f222Annapolis, Md. (Reform Sasscer) – As United States citizens, We must demand more from our lawmakers and a chance for uncorrupted democracy.  It appears the local court system in Maryland is used as a tool for certain politicians and their friends to punish their opponents and those who may disagree with them.

In Maryland, laws are being applied selectively and different based on circumstances to hurt innocent citizens in a wide ranging scheme. Let us demand an end to this practice and more from our lawmakers. When addressing social inequalities, we must remember that bad decisions made by corrupt officials have an affect many citizens. The decisions made by these officials are to benefit the few elected individuals in the communities that they exploit at our expense. A very good example is the role Dr. Charlene Dukes played in Maryland and then Retired Amid Corruption Allegations And Self Dealings. These sort of self dealings and corruption allegations are widespread in Maryland than many people want to believe.

Defeating an entrenched and organized criminal tyrannical enterprise like the one headed by Despots Dr. Monica Goldson and Dr. Alvin Thorton requires fearlessness, ideological clarity and consistent struggle.

Maryland citizens and especially Prince George’s county citizenry must sort out the root causes of our state and county problems by defeating the despots, conmen and their organized cabals, then transform the counties and build a just and democratic society based on the rule of law instead of constantly begging some of our corrupt leaders to do something about it.

As Maryland matters highlights below, a group of powerful lawmakers — including the speaker of the House have become aware of some of these shenanigans and are beginning to review the issues. Viva!

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Alfred Chestnut (left) and Ransom Watkins, who spent time in prison for crimes they did not commit, speak at Exoneree Advocacy Day in Annapolis Wednesday. Photo by Bruce DePuyt

By Bruce DePuyt — A group of powerful lawmakers — including the speaker of the House — signaled on Wednesday that they are determined to establish a fair compensation system for people who serve time for crimes they didn’t commit.

Their statements of support come months after the state’s top leaders struggled publicly to come up with a way to compensate five men who served long prison terms after being wrongfully convicted.

Advocates for exonerees say the five cases surely won’t be the last, and they are pressuring the General Assembly to come up with a formula that can be used in the future — and to make improvements to the criminal justice system so that false convictions become less likely.

Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) spoke at an “Innocence Advocacy Day” in Annapolis organized by the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. She then took a seat in the back row and listened as nearly a dozen men — mostly middle-aged, all but one African-American — told their stories.

Afterward, Jones told Maryland Matters there is “more awareness” about the devastating impacts false convictions have on those whose lives are derailed by such injustices.

“The momentum is there,” she said. “I think the timing is right to be able to get something done.”

Last year the Board of Public Works — made up of the governor, comptroller and treasurer — struggled to figure out how to compensate the five men, who spent a total of 120 years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit.

After the issue bounced around for several weeks, the panel adopted a formula crafted by a top aide to Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) — the median annual state income for the last four years of a person’s incarceration multiplied by the number of years they were in prison.

Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery), the vice-chairwoman of the House Economic Matters Committee, is sponsoring a bill that would enshrine a similar formula in state law, so the Board of Public Works doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel with every case.

“The governor claims he wants a process. We’re going to give him a process,” she told the men. “We’re going to create a process where somebody is going to make a decision and then all the Board of Public Works is going to have to do is sign the check.”

“I don’t know how to repay any of you for what you’ve been through,” Dumais added. “The only thing we can do is make sure we get this legislation through.”

Advocates are pursuing two bills this year — one to create a compensation formula for former inmates found to be innocent and another to track the system by which those accused or convicted of crimes can earn leniency by testifying against others.

Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery), the chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said policymakers need to know about cases in which individuals become “serial participators.”

“Sometimes the state will offer them incentives [to testify against others],” Smith said in an interview. “Right now we don’t track that. So you have situations in which people [testify] multiple times to get more incentives.”

‘I watched people get raped’

Lawmakers and staff who attended Exoneree Innocence Advocacy Day heard emotional testimony.

One by one, the men described the falsehoods — outright lies in many cases — that were told by trial witnesses testifying under oath.

They described the indignity of being judged guilty of crimes they hadn’t committed. And the horrors they endured during prison sentences that in many cases stretched for decades.

Ransom Watkins walked free in November after 36 years in prison. He was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1983 at the age of 16.

His voice cracking with emotion, he told his story.

“I watched people my age get raped in prison. And I watched police watch it happen. The only thing we had in prison was each other,” he said of his friends. “No one else cared.”

“But we knew the truth. And no one can change that,” he continued.

Watkins conceded his “lack of remorse” hurt his chances for parole; But his lack of guilt meant he had nothing to feel remorseful about — except his own circumstance.

“Our word meant nothing,” he said. “But we never gave up. We kept fighting. And we knew one thing. We knew the truth and we had each other.”

Men who spent decades behind bars described the difficulty they have faced in re-entering society after years in prison. In some cases they had little family, no belongings and no money.

In many cases loved ones died while they were in prison. And they had few skills to offer employers in a world they scarcely recognize. They struggle even to obtain a legal ID.

As the men spoke, several family members and staff dabbed their eyes with tissues.

Via Maryland Matters

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Md. Gov. Hogan vetoes school construction bill, warns against override

7C9D0D41-D142-428C-A066-E5ECF7FDF1FAGovernor Hogan VETOED House Bill 1783 – the now-infamous Backroom Bill, which would take Maryland’s Public School Construciton Program away from the Board of Public Works and give it to an unelected body of political insiders who meet in virtual privacy.

To demonstrate bipartisan solidarity, Comptroller Franchot added his name to the veto, signing it “Peter Franchot – For the People.” Now hoping against hope that the Senate will do the right thing and allow this veto to stand. #ClassroomsNotBackrooms #ForThePeople

Read more >>> WTOP

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Change to Submitting Testimony for Education Subcommittee Hearings -Raises eyebrows.

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Darryl Barnes, Maryland State Delegate has surprised many by requesting written testimony in advance.

In a rather surprising change of procedures within the Education subcommittee hearing under Maryland State Delegate Darryl Barnes, there has been a rather unusual change in procedures to submit written testimony ahead of bill hearings in Annapolis. In an email seen by Reform Sasscer Movement secretariat, (See below), testimony must be submitted by Thursday no later than 5:00pm. Mr. Barnes will then print out copies for each committee member and staff.

According to keen observers, this game man-ship  is meant to screen issues of public concern and identify whistle blowers hence to either cancel the hearing, or bar a participant or participants,  who may submit issues of public concern  they might not like  from testifying on the floor. Prince George’s County citizenry must reject this method ASAP by calling their elected officials or Mr. Barnes himself to recede  this questionable method. Any whistle blower will be identified and  the exercise is raising eyebrows at a time the county is under going a major change due to public corruption including widespread fraudulent scheme to raise the grades in Prince George’s County public schools.

Maryland State Delegate Darryl Banes replaced Delegate Valentino-Smith as the  new Chair of the Education Subcommittee last week. In an an email sent out to various stake holders on January 19th, 2018, Delegate Valentino-Smith stated that she had enjoyed chairing the first year of the Education Subcommittee and thanked all for your interest and involvement in these important matters. Today, Delegate Chair Walker announced the new organization of the Subcommittees for 2018.  Delegate Darryl Barnes has been named Chair of the Education  Subcommittee for the coming 2018 Session.

 In the past during Delegate Valentino-Smith tenure, the procedures were very simple. All one had to do was to sign in a sheet in the Committee Room for persons who wished to testify in support or opposed to a bill.  Written testimony was not required but if one was providing it, the rule was to bring in 9 copies for the Committee Members and staff.

With the new leadership of the committee, there appear to be an hidden card in the dark which many in the movement in the county are yet to clarify what it is being concealed. Any lack of transparency and proper accountability is not good to the public. Transparency is key to maintaining or regaining the public’s trust. Lack of transparency can have devastating effects that sometimes leave a permanent stain on any entity including the legislative branch or brand’s image. Brands or even members of the legislative branch cannot thrive without the public’s trust.

Compromising transparency to benefit an institution or a company’s bottom line may seem like a good idea in the moment, but the long-term damages can be significant.

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All hearings will take place immediately after House Session on Fridays in the Prince George’s County Delegation Room (Room 150).  The delegation is anticipating a start time of 11:15 am – 11:30 am, depending on the length of the session. (See below)

DATE BILLS HEARD ROOM TIME
January 26, 2018 ·         PG 505-18  – Equity in Education Act

(Angel)

PG 506-18  – Students with Disability Report (Angel)

·         PG 510-18 – Teachers and Administrators Child Protective

Services Investigation Findings

(Muse)

·         PG 513-18 – Telecommunications Transmission Facility on Public School Grounds – Public Hearing Notification   (Washington)

150 – Prince George’s County Delegation Room 11:30 am
February 2, 2018 ·         PG 507-18 – Election of Vice Chair and Voting Procedures (Walker)

·         PG 509-18 – Prince George’s County Board of Education – Governance

(Muse)

·         PG 511-18 – Academic Revitalization and Management Effectiveness Initiative – Repeal

(Muse)

150 – Prince George’s County Delegation Room 11:30 am
February 9, 2018 ·         PG 501-18 – Elementary School – Limit on Class Size (Walker)

·         PG 504-18 – Student Hearing and Vision Screenings – Reporting Requirements (Valentino-Smith)

·         PG 508-18 – PGCPS – Office of Inspector General – Establishment

(Washington)

150 – Prince George’s County Delegation Room 11:30 am
February 16, 2018 ·         PG-512-18 – School Overcrowding Reduction Act of 2018

(Sen. Rosapepe & Valentino-Smith)

150 – Prince George’s County Delegation Room 11:3

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Update: HB1107 Hearing in Annapolis Maryland postponed

14925273_10209778694056391_220817217610615058_nUpdate: The hearing concerning bill PG -402-17 which was to be held on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 8:30am, room 218 Lowe House Office Building has been postponed. Please check these links for the future hearing and dates.

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=cmtepage&stab=03&id=hru&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=hb1565&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

School Board and CEO
If you are interested in testifying in support of PG-402-17, to return to an all elected school board, keep checking back to the links above.

We received this information late. You might want to call your elected officials concerning this bill.

See bill text at https://www.princegeorgeshousedelegation.com/legislation/bill-history?local=PG%20402-17

Read more >>> Kevin Maxwell, PGCPS CEO, gets four more years in Suspicious Circumstances

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Teachers’ union, Exelon top spenders on lobbying in Annapolis

dsc_0901The Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) HQ pictured above in Annapolis Maryland.

Political cynics are fond of urging taxpayers to hold onto their wallets when the General Assembly is in session. But that doesn’t apply to businesses, industries and others with something to win or lose in Annapolis.

The Maryland State Education Association, which was fighting deep school funding cuts and a major expansion of charter schools, spent more on lobbying state lawmakers this year than any other association, business or group, according to a rundown recently posted by the Maryland State Ethics Commission.

The teacher’s union reported spending $446,000 from Nov. 1 through April 30, 2015 in what appears to be bribing of sorts to Maryland lawmakers in order to get a favorable outcome in advancing corruption within the schools.

The second-biggest spender on lobbying was Exelon Corp., the Chicago-based energy company, which paid $369,000 to have its interests represented in Annapolis.

Exelon, which absorbed Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group four years ago, had a range of bills it wished to influence. It also was seeking state regulators’ approval to merge with the Washington-based energy provider Pepco, a measure before the Public Service Commission. The commission OK’d the deal in May.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., a subsidiary of Exelon that delivers power and natural gas to hundreds of thousands of customers in Central Maryland, also reported spending $264,000. The two companies’ combined output of $633,000 dwarfed the teachers’ lobbying payout.

Exelon wasn’t the only business with more than one entity lobbying: Verizon Communications reported spending $240,000, while Verizon Maryland chipped in $88,000, according to the ethics listing.

Businesses and business groups, which may see their profits impacted by legislation, traditionally put a lot into lobbying. Those involved with the lucrative health care, energy and communications industries, which also are regulated by the state, tend to be among the biggest spenders.

No. 8 on the list of top lobbying spenders, though, was one with a mix of spiritual and economic interests — the Maryland Catholic Conference, which spent $271,000. Its legislative agenda included killing a bill that would have authorized assisted suicide, which didn’t pass. It also sought a tax credit to help private schools, which also failed.

The ethics commission also lists the lobbyists who benefited the most by all that largesse. The top earner this year was Gerard Evans, who raked in $1.8 million. Second-highest paid was Timothy Perry, who got $1.15 million. Rounding out the top five were three others earning more than $900,000 – Joel Rozner, former Montgomery County state Sen. Robert Garagiola and Lisa Harris Jones.

To review the listing of employers that spent more than $50,000 on lobbying and to see what lobbyists made, go to ethics.maryland.gov.

via Baltimore sun

Top 10

The top 10 businesses, industry groups and other entities that spent the most on lobbying in Annapolis during a four-month period encompassing the 2015 session of the General Assembly.

1)   $446,242 Maryland State Education Association

2)   $368,673 Exelon Corp.

3)   $345,719 Maryland Hospital Association

4)   $329,432 CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

5)   $310,398 MedChi, the Maryland state medical society

6)   $290,203 Maryland Bankers Association

7)   $284,549 Maryland Retailers Association

8)   $271,270 Maryland Catholic Conference, LLC

9)   $270,045 Johns Hopkins Institutions

10) $263,641 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

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Larry Hogan aims to kill Martin O’Malley’s ‘rain tax’

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivers his State of the State address Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 in Annapolis, Md. Hogan outlined plans for tax relief, charter schools and reforms to the state’s legislative redistricting process. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

– The Washington Times – 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took the first step toward repealing the state’s “rain tax,” which is levied on property owners for land with impervious surfaces to pay for EPA-mandated programs to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

“Passing a state law that forces counties to raise taxes on their citizens against their will is not the best way to address the issue,” said Mr. Hogan, a Republican. “Marylanders have made perfectly clear that further taxing struggling and already overtaxed Marylanders for the rain that falls on the roof of their homes was a mistake that needs to be corrected.”

He made the announcement surrounded by county executives, legislators and business leaders.

“The rain tax is less about cleaning up the Bay than it is about imposing another tax on our citizens, as Carroll County found out last year when the attorney general threatened us with a $10,000 a day fine for not levying one,” said Delegate Haven Shoemaker, Carroll Republican.

The “rain tax” was one of the most unpopular taxes levied under former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who is considering a 2016 presidential run.

If the repeal is successful, the state will have to replace the revenue to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s unfunded mandate for the $14.8 billion clean-up plan, which seeks to decrease stormwater runoff into the Bay.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/10/larry-hogan-aims-kill-martin-omalleys-rain-tax/#ixzz3RomoCgB8

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