Tag Archives: Larry Hogan

Hogan proposes ‘investigator general’ to probe problems in Md. schools

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday called for the creation of an “investigator general” to address complaints in local school systems, arguing that parents — who have complained over the past year about altered grades in Prince George’s County and inadequate heating and air conditioning systems in Baltimore City and Baltimore County — are losing confidence in public schools.

Hogan (R) said an independent investigator would have subpoena power and full authority to investigate ethical claims and corruption allegations against school officials. The position, which must be approved by the Democratic-majority General Assembly, would be based in the state Department of Education.

“Taxpayers, parents, teachers and especially students have a right to expect, and they deserve, more accountability,” Hogan said at a news conference to announce education bills he plans to propose during the 2018 legislative session.

Hogan said he also will submit a bill to change the schools accountability plan the General Assembly approved over his objections last year, reviving an issue that resulted in a veto override. In addition, he announced a bill to provide emergency funds to help pay for heating repairs in Baltimore City schools, which closed some buildings last week, and again Monday, because of extreme cold.

Aides to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said they had not seen the proposals and declined to comment.

Sean Johnson, the director of legislative affairs for the Maryland State Education Association, called the investigator general proposal “a tool to go on a fishing expedition to create a lack of public trust in public schools.”

He said the governor should focus instead on the work of the Kirwan Commission, a panel examining whether current school-funding formulas are equitable.

“The governor should stop attacking our public schools and start rolling up his sleeves with the rest of the state’s leaders to reverse this shameful underfunding and make sure the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations become law,” Johnson said.

Hogan said school leaders have “repeatedly failed” their students.

The governor has been particularly critical of facilities problems in both Baltimore City and County, and of Prince George’s response to a graduation-rate scandal.

He says Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Hogan in November, and Kevin Maxwell, Baker’s handpicked schools chief, have not responded adequately to allegations that school officials changed grades so that more students could get their high school diplomas.

On Monday, Maxwell said Hogan “has not provided any details” of his proposal for an investigator general “and he hasn’t asked for any input from school superintendents about how best to support our public schools.”

Prince George’s school board member Edward Burroughs, the leader of the group that brought the grade-changing allegations to light, said he would welcome an independent investigator.

The state board of education “does not have the capacity to investigate wrongdoing on a larger scale,” Burroughs said. “So to have an [investigator general] with the ability to subpoena documents, the ability to compel people to testify and to refer individuals that have done unethical things to law enforcement is an important thing.”

Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D), a lawmaker from Prince George’s, has proposed a bill to create a similar position solely for that county’s school system.

Montgomery County school board member Patricia O’Neill said she sees no sign of diminishing confidence in public education but also has no problem with an investigator-general approach to accountability.

“I think every school system, every public entity, needs to be held accountable,” she said.

To address heating and air conditioning repairs at Baltimore schools, Hogan said he will propose emergency legislation to provide $2.5 million in emergency state funds.

“This is not to reward these people responsible who have failed,” the governor said. “This is about saving kids from being freezing in winter and from sweating . . . in warm weather.”

Over the past week, city and state officials have battled over who is responsible for the nearly 60 schools in the city that lacked heat during a historic cold spell. Some repairs were done over the weekend, but eight schools were closed Monday morning for facilities issues.

The governor’s school accountability proposal would change a performance plan approved by the General Assembly last year. That plan, which had the support of the state’s teachers union, says 65 percent of a school’s rating would be based on academic indicators such as standardized testing, student achievement, student growth and graduation.

The rest of the rating would depend “school quality” indicators such as absenteeism, school climate and access to a well-rounded curriculum.

Hogan wanted academic indicators to count more heavily. He vetoed the bill, but the legislature voted to override the veto.

At the news conference, Hogan said he will propose a bill to raise the weighting of academic indicators to 80 percent.

O’Neill took issue with the idea of increasing the weight of test scores in determining school performance. Strong outcomes, she said, are the result of multiple factors, including good teaching and strong school leadership. While it is important to hold school systems accountable for every child, she said, “an overemphasis on testing does not improve public education.”

via Washington post

Governor Hogan refuses to sign off on Maryland education plan

Larry Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan poses with a bill during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, April 12, 2016, the day after the closing of the 2016 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Gov. Larry Hogan is refusing to endorse the Maryland school board’s plan for helping low-performing schools, saying state board members were hamstrung by a new law limiting what the plan can include.

The General Assembly passed legislation this year that limits ways the state can try to reform its lowest-performing schools — those in the bottom 5 percent. The Republican governor vetoed that bill, but the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode him.

In a letter sent this week to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Hogan wrote that the state board could not craft a sufficient plan under the “impossible circumstances” imposed by the state law. All states must submit plans for improving low-performing schools to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Hogan’s signature is not required for state education officials to send the plan to the federal government for review. They still intend to submit the plan Monday, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education said.

The Protect Our Schools Act passed by the Assembly this year prohibits the state school board from requiring test scores to count for more than 65 percent of a school’s performance ranking. And it would prevent the state from taking several actions to improve those schools, including converting them to charter schools, bringing in private management, giving the students vouchers to attend private schools or putting the schools into a special statewide “recovery” school district.

In a letter to state school board President Andy Smarick, Hogan wrote that the legislation resulted in a plan that will preserve “the status quo in failing schools.”

But some education advocates were quick to criticize the governor for not backing the school board’s plan.

By not supporting the plan, Hogan is disregarding months of feedback from parents and nonprofit organizations, said Sean Johnson, legislative director of the Maryland State Education Association, the union for public school teachers.

Maryland board approves new rating system for schools
“I hope the strong support from all of those stakeholders makes clear that Maryland is really committed to meaningful and positive education reforms — even if it’s not the privatization and test-and-punish approach that I guess Larry Hogan would rather champion,” Johnson said.

Some state school board members, nearly all of whom were appointed by Hogan, have chafed at the legislation and supported Hogan’s veto. Some members had suggested using more radical measures to reform failing schools, including turning them over to charter school operators.

Smarick said although members disagreed with the Protect Our Schools Act, they “had to follow the letter of the state and federal law. That was our job.”

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings said the state law unfairly limits options for improving struggling schools.

“The Democratic leadership pushed through a horrible piece of legislation that, in my mind, didn’t put kids first. It put special interests first,” said Jennings, a Republican who represents parts of Harford and Baltimore counties.

The U.S. Department of Education reviews each state’s plan for improving struggling schools and can recommend changes. Though Hogan’s signature is not required on the document, its absence will signal to federal officials that he doesn’t support it.

Hogan vetoes bill limiting Maryland school reforms
Gov. Larry Hogan visited Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys to announce his veto of legislation that would limit some school reforms. (Baltimore Sun video)
“I worry that he’s, in a sense, encouraging Betsy DeVos to reject the plan, which puts $250 million worth of federal funding at risk,” said Del. Eric Luedtke, a lead sponsor of the Protect Our Schools Act. He’s also a former public school teacher.

DeVos has been a champion of offering families alternatives to traditional neighborhood public schools, such as charter schools and vouchers that allow students to attend private schools.

The federal government so far has not rejected any state plans, but has suggested changes to some.

“More fundamentally, he’s kind of doubling down on this right-wing school reform agenda,” said Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat. “I think somebody needs to explain to the governor there are more ways to improve schools than privatization.”

Sen. Craig Zucker, another sponsor of Protect Our Schools, suggested that the governor is favoring politics over schoolchildren.

“This has always been about Maryland educators and Maryland students. This isn’t about the governor. This is about the future of our children,” said Zucker, a Montgomery County Democrat. “This was a well-thought-out piece of legislation where Maryland can be a leader in terms of education reform.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker similarly refused to sign his state’s plan for low-performing schools.

“Your bureaucratic proposal does little to challenge the status quo for the benefit of Wisconsin’s students,” Walker wrote to state superintendent Tony Evers. Evers is one of several Democrats running for Wisconsin governor in 2018 against Walker, a Republican.

via Baltimore Sun

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Governor Hogan Declares War on Corruption

Maryland_Governor_Budget-0ef63-620Governor Larry HoganGovernor Larry Hogan declared war on the Culture of Corruption in Annapolis today by introducing his Integrity in Government Initiative.

You can watch all of Governor Hogan’s press conference here.

Integrity in Government Initiative – January 19, 2017

To say that Governor Hogan’s proposed reforms are much needed would be a bold understatement. In light of the issues surrounding corruption that have been exposed in recent weeks, these changes are both unfortunate but also necessary in order to ensure that the people of Maryland can have faith that both the executive and legislative branches of Government are responsive to peoples needs.

The Public Integrity Act will finally put some sort of restrictions on lobbying by legislators, former legislators, and former executive branch employees, as well as appointees to executive branch commissions. This legislation was certainly influenced by the corrupt deals made by Delegate Dan Morhaim as he worked for marijuana legislation that would further enrich him in his second job. So much corruption in Annapolis revolves around the lobbying and lobbyists, and the restrictions on lobbying as well holding members of the General Assembly accountable to the State Ethics Commission creates a more even playing field that should root out the remaining corruption in the General Assembly.

The Legislative Transparency Act is something that is so basic and so easy to do that it should be a no-brainer. Most citizens do not have the time to travel to Annapolis to ensure to see what their Delegates and Senators are doing. The idea that any citizen can watch the proceedings of the General Assembly live or at a time of their convenience gives voters the opportunity to see exactly how their General Assembly members vote and how they behave on the floor of the General Assembly. This will give people the chance to see exactly what happens whether its during regular session or whether its middle of the night shenanigans that has occurred in the past.

The Liquor Board Reform Act is a master stroke that ensures that State Senators and members of local political parties can no longer put political party apparatchiks into positions of power as Liquor Board Commissioners. It’s the last remnant of the old boy network that used to govern Maryland for decades, when State Senators controlled all political patronage in their county.

The Redistricting Reform Act is something that we at Red Maryland have supported for a long time. You can read about our previous writing on redistricting here.

So what are the chances that any of the Governor’s initiatives get passed by the General Assembly? Slim and none. Democrats in Annapolis are more interested in political games and ensuring the status quo than they are passing meaningful reform to protect Maryland from political corruption. They certainly do not want to cut off the spigot of opportunities open to Maryland Democrats They won’t seek to subject themselves to the higher standard of behavior and ethics that Governor Hogan seek for government officials in Maryland. They certainly do not want to relinquish the last vestiges of patronage remaining to senior elected officials and party leaders. Nor will Democrats wish to subject themselves to Redistricting Reform that  will invariably wind up in more equal legislative and congressional districts that could mean tougher re-election campaigns and large Republican gains in the House and the Senate.

So we should all expect Maryland Democrats to oppose the Integrity in Government Initiative because it’s not in their political or financial interests to do so.

We should, however, applaud Governor Hogan for putting forth this kind of meaningful legislation. While Democrats try to play political games, the Governor is putting forward legislation that will fix the culture of corruption in Annapolis once and for all. Let us hope that those who oppose this type of common sense legislation for their own personal benefit do so at their own political peril.

Read more at http://redmaryland.com/2017/01/governor-hogan-declares-war-on-corruption/maryland-map

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Hogan ‘pleased’ with resignation of school construction chief

…after air-conditioning dispute

1_122016_hogan8201_c0-81-4956-2970_s885x516Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he’s “very pleased” with the decision of the state’s school construction chief to resign amid the ongoing battle over school air conditioning in Baltimore city and county.

David Lever has headed the Interagency Committee on School Construction, a state agency that reviews school construction projects and spending, since 2003.

On Wednesday, Lever criticized the vote by Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on the Board of Public Works to withhold $15 million from Baltimore city and county school systems unless they install portable air conditioners in schools over the summer.

Lever said the decision politicized school construction funding and prompted his decision to step down, effective in September.

Hogan said he’s glad to see him go.

At a news conference in Annapolis, the Republican governor called Lever “a major part of the problem.”

“We were very pleased with his resignation,” Hogan said. “My only regret is it doesn’t take effect immediately.

“Quite frankly, anyone who has the arrogance and the sense of entitlement that they don’t feel like they have to be accountable for their actions to the Board of Public Works, to the people who are responsible for overseeing these things, doesn’t deserve to be working in state government,” Hogan said.

Lever declined to comment on the governor’s remarks. “I don’t have any response to that,” he said.

Hogan’s statement came as politicians continued a war of words over school air-conditioning policies.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat, issued a lengthy statement defending his position that installing portable air conditioners would be a poor use of taxpayer dollars compared to his plan to install central air conditioning in all schools by 2019.

“In his desire to punish Baltimore County and Baltimore City, the Governor intentionally misstated the county’s plan, refused multiple opportunities to be presented with the facts, and disregarded the clear legal advice of the Attorney General of the State of Maryland,” Kamenetz wrote.

County officials say it’s logistically impossible to install air conditioners by the deadline set by Hogan and Franchot of the start of the next school year.

Kevin Smith, chief administrative and operating officer for the county school system, said state procurement laws outline steps for a project of this scale. The earliest the process could be completed is August 2017, he said, if it started immediately.

The system would have to hire a consultant to design the work and have plans approved by the state, Interagency Committee on School Construction, which could take until fall. If the IAC gives the go-ahead, the school system then would give potential vendors a 30-day period to bid on the work. By January, the school board would approve a contract with a vendor. Work could begin in February and wrap up in August, Smith said.

There are provisions for speedier procurement for emergencies, he said, “but I don’t know if this qualifies as that.”

Hogan doesn’t buy that argument, said spokesman Douglass Mayer.

“For years, the county executive has made excuses for his failure to ensure that all Baltimore County students have access to suitable learning environments,” Mayer said. “It comes as no surprise that he has yet another weak explanation to try and justify the deplorable conditions in these classrooms. No doubt he’ll have even more excuses next week.”

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Franchot, also dismissed the county’s timetable, saying of Kamenetz: “If he wants to make it that hard, he can make it that hard.”

Baltimore city and county are the only jurisdictions in the state with a significant number of classrooms that lack air conditioning. When the school year began, 48 of Baltimore County’s 175 public school buildings lacked air conditioning. In Baltimore, 76 schools lack air conditioning.

Hogan and Franchot have criticized leaders of both jurisdictions for not providing air conditioning for classrooms. Franchot, a Democrat, went on the “C4 Show” on WBAL radio Thursday to continue to blast Kamenetz.

“The foot-dragging by local elected officials for the last five years is a disgrace,” he said.

Franchot said Kamenetz is “committing a mass dereliction of duty” by allowing children to attend schools without air conditioning.

Via Baltimore sun

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Larry Hogan publicly questions Martin O’Malley over mansion furniture

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former Gov. Martin O’Malley appears to have engaged in questionable activities during his tenure,  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took to his large Facebook following today and Sunday to question why former Gov. Martin O’Malley purchased most of the governor’s mansion furniture after it had been declared “junk” by the Democrat’s outgoing administration — a transaction that the state ethics commission is examining.

A Baltimore Sun investigation revealed last week that the Democratic candidate for president had paid $9,638 for 54 mansion furnishings that originally cost taxpayers $62,000. The Department of General Services sold armoires, beds, chairs, desks, lamps, mirrors, ottomans, tables and other items to O’Malleyand his wife, Baltimore District Judge Catherine CurranO’Malley, at steep discounts after declaring every item to be “junk.”

The department sold the items to the O’Malleys, who together earned $270,000 in state salaries last year, without seeking bids or notifying the public that the items were available for sale.

An agency rule prohibits preferential sales of state-owned property to government officials.

“If they call that expensive, beautiful, barely used furniture ‘junk’, I’d hate to hear what they call the 20 year old stuff I brought with me from my house to replace it all,” the Republican governor wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “And if it was so bad and ready to be ‘thrown out,’ why would you try so hard to take all with you to your new house.

Hogan was even more direct on Facebook Monday: “Just to set the record straight, none of the 54 pieces of furniture included in the investigation was ‘junk.'”

“None of it would have been ‘thrown out,’ or surplussed, or sold in any manner,” Hogan added. “Had it not all been removed a few days before we moved in, our intention would have been to leave all of it in place, just as it was, in the people’s house.”

The furniture was used in the residential sections of the mansion, not the public areas, which are dotted with antiques. When Hogan moved into the mansion in January from his Anne Arundel County home, the Republican found a starkly less furnished house than the one he had toured with O’Malleytwo weeks earlier. He ended up moving in nearly all of hisfurniturefrom his Edgewater house.

“The governor was certainly surprised to find Government House largely unfurnished,” said Hogan spokesman Douglass Mayer.

The office of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, who campaigned for O’Malley last week, referred questions about the matter to the department’s legal counsel, Assistant Attorney General Turhan E. Robinson. David Nitkin, a spokesman for Frosh, said the issue is a matter of “departmental policy” and that Robinson “should be able to answer.”

On Friday, Robinson asked the state ethics commission to determine whether the sale violated the prohibition and whether a provision in state regulations that allows the department to sell surplus property to charities and other government agencies without bids can apply to a private sale with a governmetn official.

Robinson wrote that the matter “requires ethics determination.”
“DGS is requesting a determination on the propriety of sales of excess/used furniture to an outgoing public elected official,” Robinson wrote on Friday to Michael Lord, executive director of the Maryland State Ethics Commission.

Lord declined to comment, saying his office is restricted from discussing any requests.

O’Malley declined to comment, but his representatives said that he followed proper procedures and that state officials had authorized thefurnitureto be thrown away.

The Department of General Services’ inventory control manual states that “the preferential sale or gratuitous disposition of property to a state official or employee is prohibited in accordance with Board of Public Works policy.” The prohibition against preferential sales—transactions made without publicly soliciting other bids—applies to all surplus state property, even items declared junk, a department spokeswoman said.

In addition to the department’s prohibition against private sales to government officials, the inventory control manual says that state ethics rules also govern all transactions. State ethics rules and the standards of conduct for executive branch employees forbid state officials from making transactions that involve information unavailable to the public.

O’Malley is not the first governor to get such treatment.

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. also purchasedfurniturewhen he left office—but much less. The Republican paid the state $992 for 21 furnishings that had cost the state $9,904. Unlike O’Malley, Ehrlich purchased mostly low-cost linens, mattresses, pillows, lamps and bunk beds used by his two sons. Those items were also purchased at prices set by a depreciation formula. The ethics commission was asked to also examine that sale as well.

via Baltimore sun

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Donna Edwards breaks with party over redistricting again

100928_edwards_376Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is open to an independent commission proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is breaking with other Democrats again over redistricting, saying she’s open to an independent commission proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

“I have long supported redistricting reforms to end the damage partisan gerrymandering does to our democracy,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing Governor Hogan’s announcement to see whether it is truly independent of partisan politics.”

All but one of Maryland’s eight congressional districts are held by Democrats, thanks in part to boundaries drawn by Democratic leadership after the 2010 Census. Hogan is creating an 11-member panel to recommend a new process. The Maryland Democratic Party says the lines shouldn’t be redrawn until there’s nationwide agreement on reform.

Edwards, as she has in the past, disagreed with her fellow Democrats.

“It’s not going to change the balance in the state,” Edwards said of redistricting reform in an interview Thursday, given Maryland’s overwhelmingly Democratic population, “but it will be fairer to people.”

At the same time, she said, any new process should take into account contiguity and minority representation.

Her Democratic primary opponent in the race for Maryland’s open Senate seat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, took a more cautious line. He told Hogan he was “open to reviewing your proposal,” but echoed his fellow Democrats in saying “it makes more sense to have one set of nonpartisan rules for the entire country rather than a state-by-state approach.”

Edwards noted that her opposition to the Maryland political map drawn by Democrats in 2011 is “no secret.” She said at the time that the map disadvantaged minority voters by dividing Montgomery County into three districts represented by white men. Democratic critics, who attacked her for discussing maps with Republicans, said her real concern was keeping her own district safe.

Van Hollen, a former state lawmaker with close ties to Democrats in Annapolis, went along with that plan although it also carved up his district.

A February Goucher College poll found that the vast majority of Marylanders — 72 percent — would prefer independent redistricting.

Via Washington Post

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Prayers for Governor Larry Hogan and others in similar situations.

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Elected Officials from around the state have signed a card with words of support and encouragement to Governor Larry Hogan as he battles against cancer. We have put partisan politics aside and stand in prayer that God will have mercy on our Governor and heal his body. Maryland is a great state with great people. We are united as one in prayer for the Governor Larry Hogan and all others whom are battling this horrible disease throughout the world.

Hogan rose to national prominence during his handling of the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore this past spring. Hogan surprised political observers last November 2014 when he easily defeated much favored and highly rated Democrat Anthony Brown who was also well funded to retake the governor’s office for Republicans.

“The odds I have of beating this are much, much better than the odds I had of beating Anthony Brown,” he said, to laughter and applause from the room before starting chemotherapy recently. #HoganStrong

Larry-Hogan

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