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Prince George’s County Council Upset Over Unspent Litter Funds

CountyCouncil2017.jpgUPPER MARLBORO – The department of public works and transportation (DPW&T) is one of the more visible government agencies, responsible for street repair, snow removal and TheBus service. As the county council reviews their budget request for this year, they want to make sure residents see the results of those investments.

At the Transportation, Housing & the Environment (THE) committee work session on April 19, council members grilled DPW&T staff about initiatives they had funded last year which, some council members felt, were not seeing appropriate progress. Several members brought up the $2 million litter clean-up initiative included in the fiscal year 2017 approved budget. The money was intended to pay contractors to go out into each councilmanic district and pick up trash – but, as of the meeting, none of it had been spent, with only two and a half months left in the fiscal year.

“This is your operating budget. This isn’t something we wanted to see over two and three years. We are drowning in litter. It is everywhere. I cannot see any rationale- this is not a high-level activity, picking up litter – I can’t see any rationale why we have not spent that budget,” Mary Lehman, the committee’s vice-chair, said. “I personally wanted to see all of that $2 million spent by now. I really don’t understand it. I feel like we would have been better spent giving it to the department of corrections or somebody else. It’s just not acceptable.”

Darryl Mobley, director of DPW&T, said contract delays are the reason the money remains unspent. He said the department began the bidding process in September, with a Request for Proposals (RFP). But, the bidders who submitted during the first round were unresponsive, so a second round had to commence.

Gwen Clerkley, associate director for the office of highway maintenance, said the department is currently negotiating with the one bidder who was responsive to get the bidder to come up with a new plan that falls within the $2 million budget.

“They are going back, reviewing their numbers. They based their estimate solely on providing four crews of four for every council district. We asked them to go back and structure a program that would allow them to go back and meet the need,” she said. “It is our hope to have services in place by May 1.”

Mobley added that although that specific pot of money has not been spent, the department has staff out in the field “every day” cleaning up litter.

“The department of public works and transportation continues to pick up litter every day, in conjunction with the department of the environment. We work very closely with the department of corrections,” he said. “We have collected approximately three-and-a-half million pounds of litter as of February, when we reported the numbers to the office of audits.”

Councilwomen Deni Taveras echoed Lehman’s concerns about trash in her district, specifically around bus stops that do not have trash cans.

“A lot of times people will just tie a bag there, and it just overflows. At the end of the day, we just have trash everywhere,” she said. “We’re in a desperate state in terms of litter in my district.”

Last year’s budget also included $20 million for street resurfacing projects, with the FY18 proposal calling for another $10 million. Lehman expressed dissatisfaction with the progress of street resurfacing projects as well, saying the RFP did not go out until December (halfway through the fiscal year).

“This was not meant as a CIP (capital improvements program) project. This is operating money. So what happens to it?” Lehman asked. “My constituents want their roads resurfaced in real time, in their lifetime. And they’re waiting for years.”

Clerkley explained that the contractors don’t work on one road at a time; rather, they complete the first step on every road on their list, then move to the next step, and so on.

“Contractors don’t really work on a per-road basis. And I think that’s part of the miscommunication,” she said. “For now, it is more expeditious and cost-effective… for the roads that we’ve assigned to them, they go through and do all of their concrete work, then they will mill the road and do the resurfacing.”

She added, “I hear your frustration.”

The FY18 budget proposal for the department totals $29.9 million, which is an increase of about 13.5 percent over last year. Some of that- $204,400- comes from the addition of five staff members to help implement the county council’s updated taxicab regulations passed last year. DPW&T is also working to refresh the seat cushions and covers on its bus fleet, as well as purchase new vehicles to replace the current ones, which the department says are rapidly aging. $1.2 million is projected for bus replacement in FY18. Money has also been set aside for new infrared technology to handle potholes and as well as a system that will allow the department to track its vehicles in real time during snow events. The automatic vehicle location system is budgeted for $450,000.

DPW&T is also responsible for rolling out the BikeShare program in the county, which is projected to cost $1.4 million for the first phase. However, Mobley said they are pursing grants to cover as much as $740,000 of that total. In all, the department is seeking to increase the amount of outside grants it receives by $1.6 million.

The department anticipates approximately $600,000 of overtime related to snow and ice removal, equipment repairs, and debris removal, which Mobley said was calculated based on historical trends.

Via Sentinel 


Prince George’s County’s staggering and tragic corruption will not end until leaders with integrity and ZERO vested interests in the system replace thieves.



Democrats in Disarray; Delegate Calls Miller and Zirkin “Democrats in Name Only”

IMG_9557.JPGDemocrats have fallen into complete disarray as they’re now turning fire on each other. More than a dozen House Democrats walked off the floor today and held a press conference outside of the State House to fight for the “Maryland Trust Act” also known as the Sanctuary State Bill.

Delegate Joseline Pena-Melynk (District 21, Prince George’s County) went after Senator Bobby Zirkin (District 11, Baltimore County) and Senate President Mike Miller (District 27, Southern Maryland). This is a clear case of mainstream Democrats looking for bipartisan solutions by listening to the people being taken hostage by an increasing number of extremists in their party.

She said, “Senator Bobby Zirkin is a DINO, a Democrat in Name Only. As 2018 approaches, people you are going to hear us tonight in the news. Who lives in his district? Shame him. We don’t need a Democrat like that. We need someone who is going to protect everyone. Who’s not going to compromise. How can you not be a true Democrat? You killed the bill. Shame on you and I hope your district takes you out.”

“Senator Miller, this is a priority for the Democrats…Did we need an issue like this, absolutely so the people know what we stand for. Act like a Democrat. We don’t need anyone who’s not a true Democrat. These people behind me have a spine and not everyone can say that.”

It’s unfortunate that extremist Democrats have held reasonable ones hostage because they listened to their districts. When Senate President Miller looks like the most reasonable person in the room, how extremist are the Maryland Democratic Party now?


Maryland’s Senate president said a bill that added protections for people in the United States illegally won’t pass the Senate in its current form. 

You can watch the whole video here: https://www.facebook.com/bpsears/videos/10154449969122286/


Maryland Democrats Wave White Flag on 2018 Election Cycle

JN2_78881458674712If you take the broad view of what Maryland Democrats have been doing during this General Assembly session, you’ll notice one common trend;

  • Democrats have pushed the Protect Our Schools Act, a bill that does nothing to help students get a better education, but does give a number of concessions to the Democrats preferred interest group, the Maryland State Education Association;
  • As a part of the Capital Budget the General Assembly has moved to strip power away from the Board of Public Works, taking away the Board’s ability to review the school construction plan approved by the Interagency Committee on School Construction
  • Democrats have worked to take discretionary authority away from the Governor when it comes to the approval of suits against the federal government, setting up the office of Attorney General Brian Frosh as an unconstitutional fourth branch of government that can sue for slights both real and imagined at his discretion;
  • Democrats and interests groups have pushed a radical plan to give the Attorney General the authority to regulate the costs of generic prescription drugs, a move towards the Democrats dream of enacting Medicaid for all.
  • After 30 years of debate, Democrats in the Anne Arundel County delegation have relented and are supporting an elected Board of Education that will se all members elected by the people of the county instead of appointed by the Governor.

These are just some of a number of bills that Democrats have pushed that seeks Democratic pet projects, reward Democratic interest groups and hangers on, and remove authority from the Office of the Governor.

The unspoken meaning of all of this is that the Democrats are waving the white flag of surrender on the 2018 General Election. How so? Democrats would not be racing to take away power from the Governor, empowering the Attorney General if they truly believed that a Democrat would be sitting on the 2nd floor in 2019. The only times that the Democrats are ever interested in transferring power away the Governor is at times when the Governor is a popular Republican.

This is not the first time that we have noted that the Democrats know they have their backs against the wall in the 2018 election. Governor Hogan remains wildly popular with voters when running against “generic Democrat.” The House of Delegates have thrown up their hands and said that finding an opponent for the Governor was not their problem. And every week it seems like another pretender with no natural constituency within the Maryland Democratic party are publicly musing about seeking the Democratic nomination including Rushern Baker III.

None of this is a sign of strength for a party that has a nearly 3-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans.

The General Assembly session has been, as a whole, a disaster for the people of this state. But the political silver lining is there. Democrats know that the gig is up. They expect to lose to Governor Larry Hogan next year. And this entire session has been a very expensive and annoying exercise that has allowed the Democrats to throw in the towel on next year’s election.

Read more at http://redmaryland.com/2017/04/democrats-waive-white-flag-2018/


Maryland Democrats Wave White Flag on 2018 Election Cycle and surrender! The Maryland Democrats’ candidates being fronted for Governor’s post have no proper agenda nor ethics.



Controversial education bill passed in Md. Senate, despite Hogan veto threat


ANNAPOLIS, MD – MARCH 22: Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr. leads the Senate session on March 22. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

An education bill that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has promised to veto passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday with a veto-proof majority, despite Hogan’s warning that it is “designed to hide the failures of school leaders and administrators.”

The bill now heads to the House of Delegates, where lawmakers must reconcile the version they passed by a veto-proof margin earlier this month with changes made in the Senate.

The legislation, which is backed by the state teachers’ union and opposed by the state Board of Education, sets up an accountability system for rating schools and prohibits the state board from using vouchers and charters as a way to fix failing schools.

It was created in response to the federal Every Students Succeeds Act, which gives the state board the authority to create a new accountability system for school performance.

The Senate amended the bill to say 65 percent of a school’s “accountability rating” should be based on academic indicators such as standardized testing, student achievement, student growth and graduation, compared to 55 percent in the original version.

Several opponents of the bill, including Minority Whip Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Kent) argued that the rate is still too low and will make “Maryland a leader in deprioritizing student achievement.”

The Senate debate over the bill centered around school choice and the movement to privatize public schools, and included a mini-filibuster by Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R), who began reading the 380-page federal law on the Senate floor to forestall a vote.

“We want to ensure Maryland doesn’t become a Michigan,” Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), said referring to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ push for charter schools in her home state.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that requires the state to reimburse Planned Parenthood for health-care services it provides if Congress cuts federal funding for the organization.

If Hogan signs the measure, Maryland would become the first state in the country to address the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood.

“Today we made sure that no matter what happens in Washington, Maryland will ensure that all women have access to health services, especially those who have historically faced barriers to quality health care,” said Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), the bill sponsor.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor has consistently funded health care organizations in his budget but hasn’t taken a position on the legislation. This year, the federal government provided $2.7 million in reimbursements to Planned Parenthood offices in Maryland.

The Senate also gave preliminary approval Tuesday to substantial changes it made in Hogan’s plan to increase manufacturing jobs in distressed areas of the state, including Baltimore City, Allegany and Worcester counties.

The House and Senate passed an amended version of the governor’s $43 billion operating budget, which moves next to the governor’s desk.

The revised budget restores nearly two-thirds of the $116 million in annual spending requirements that Hogan had proposed trimming, including $8.4 million to increase state reimbursement rates for care providers who work with the developmentally disabled; $5 million for college scholarships for students from poor school districts; $3 million to extend library hours in Baltimore; and $6 million in local aid for that city and other jurisdictions that receive relatively little revenue from income taxes.

The budget also restores $3 million to help cover the cost of giving new teachers additional hours to be mentored, plan lessons and observe more experienced teachers; and to provide extra pay to educators who meet national teaching standards.

The legislature approved $82.5 million of the combined $95 million that the governor requested in two supplemental budgets, including all of the $28 million he requested to help schools in Baltimore and other jurisdictions with declining enrollment. The plans also boost funding for neighborhood revitalization, community colleges, combating the heroin and opioid epidemic and economic-development initiatives.

Lawmakers deferred $2 million of the state’s $51 million in mandatory funding for the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center until fiscal 2019. Hogan’s plan would have delayed $15 million for later years.

Tuesday’s budget votes marked the second straight year of the Hogan administration that the Democratic-majority legislature has passed a spending plan with relative ease. In Hogan’s first year in office, 2015, the deliberations dragged on until the final hours of the legislative session, with lawmakers ultimately refusing to fund some of the governor’s requests and Hogan vowing not to release money they had earmarked for their priorities.

“I really felt this year, for the first time, that his staff was more hands-on in terms of working with the budget committee,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore).

The fiscal plan leaves about $1 billion in reserves, including $860 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Senate unanimously approved two bills aimed at addressing the state’s opioid addiction through treatment and education.

One of the bills would establish at least 10 crisis-treatment centers and request an increase in funding to expand drug-court programs. The other would require public schools to keep overdose-reversal drugs on hand, allow school nurses to give the drug and require colleges to educate incoming students about substance abuse.

The measures are now headed to the House.

A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that 34 percent of Maryland residents have a family member or close friend who is addicted to prescription pain pills or heroin.

via Washington Postmarylandmap2


PGCPS School safety questioned – in the wake of Crossland stabbing

C7YQOjIUwAA4_KFTEMPLE HILLS, MD. (WUSA9) – In the wake of a stabbing at Crossland High School Monday, at least one parent is coming forward with video saying weapons in school are a serious issue.

Rachell Lewis provided video she said shows a young man wielding a knife inside Crossland during a fight in October.

School officials say they cannot verify that the video occurred at the school.  No one was injured in the fight, the mother said.

“A lot of youth come to these schools with weapons,” Lewis said.

Crossland Principal Dr. Theresa Moseley Fax says her high school is secure.

“We have not had any issues of violence at Crossland High school, inside the school,” Mosley Fax said.

An 18-year old student was injured at about 8:25 a.m. Monday when he was stabbed outside the school during a class activity that had moved outdoors.

A former student, 18-year-old Nathaniel Coates was tackled by a teacher and taken into custody with the help of a police officer on duty at Crossland at the time. Coates will be charged in the attack, according to Prince George’s County Police.  A knife was recovered.

The injured student was taken to a hospital for treatment with non-life threatening injuries.

The stabbing happened as a masonry class was working on repairing a damaged brick wall.

The attacker “did not like the way the student looked at him, and just stabbed him,” according to Principal Mosley Fax.

Moseley Fax said Crossland students and staff have had an ongoing anti-violence campaign during the 2016-17 school year. On Tuesday, staff and students will wear red T-shirts supporting the campaign, the principal said.


via WUSA9


Structure of the PGCPS board of education debated by members

rushernsegunkevin-1050x722By YASMINE ASKARI

Members revisited the conversation of Prince George’s County Schools Board of Education’s hybrid structure during its work session last Thursday. The discussion first focused on reasons to oppose an amendment that would change the board’s ability to override the recommendation of the county’s school CEO and then shifted into a discussion of the accountability of appointed officials.

The current 14-member board is a hybrid of four appointed officials, nine elected and one student member, with both the current chairman of the board and the vice chairman of the board appointed officials.

At Thursday’s session, board members were presented with an amendment that would change the supermajority vote requirement to override the CEO’s recommendation from a two thirds vote amongst board members to a three-fifths vote.

Curtis Valentine, a member of a board subcommittee, recommended the board oppose the amendment based on the committee’s understanding that there will be a review of legislation in the coming year that will allow board members and the community to comment on every aspect of legislation related to the board’s hybrid structure and not just the three specific changes.

While the board Chairman Segun Eubanks was quick to point out the board’s tendency to vote unilaterally and dub the current hybrid structure “one of the most important and profound school governance experiments in the nation” he was quickly rebutted by board member Edward Burroughs III.

Burroughs contended that the voting rule had made a difference.

“Last year, [board member Beverly] Anderson chaired the budget committee and worked with the administration for a long time on the budget. And we had a vote to put math and reading specialists at the bottom 25 of our schools and we got eight votes. That failed by one vote,” Burroughs said. “If it was three fifths, those students today would have math and reading intervention that they desperately need. So that makes a difference to me. I don’t care about process and waiting for a report. Those kids needed that service right there and then, immediately.”

He then shifted the conversation to critique Eubanks praise of the board’s structure.

“When we talk about this being this world renowned structure, I disagree,” Burroughs said and pointed out that chair of the board Eubanks familial relationship with County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) is a problem.

“When the county executive determines to appoint his former brother-in-law to chair of the board, that is a problem. That is not democracy, that is not good for the system, that is not good for checks and balances,” Burroughs said. “And it makes a difference. When you have non-elected board members, and four appointed board members, and we are being told that we cannot elect our own leadership, that’s crazy.”

Burroughs went on to critique both the board chairman and vice chairwoman’s management of the Head Start program.

“If you look at Head Start, we were not able to hold our board chair and vice chair accountable for their actions or misactions on behalf of those kids because of this structure. It means something to me that all four labor unions are agreeing on this. There’s a reason they all support this.”

Burroughs was hastily thanked for his comments by Eubanks who proceeded to defend himself.

“I’ve been an educational professional for 35 years. I’ve read more books in education than some folks around here have read any books about any subjects in their entire lives. I have committed my life to social justice and I don’t care who I’m related to, or was related to, or was ever related to, I am one of the most qualified educators in this county, and in this state, and in this country,” Eubanks said. “I will stand by records. I will hold up against anybody on this board or anywhere else.”

It was somewhat of an abrupt turn from a work session that started with discussion on legislation, but other members began to voice their views, including Anderson and student board member Juwan Blocker.

While the board ruled to oppose the amendment, the conversation on the board’s hybrid structure was barely settled.

“This hybrid board has covered up a lot of nepotism in Prince George’s County,” Blocker said. “We need to be the ones who decide our leadership.”

Via The Enquirer Gazette


Board member Juwan Blocker – “This hybrid board has covered up a lot of nepotism in Prince George’s County,” Blocker said. “We need to be the ones who decide our leadership.”


Board member Edward Burroughs III.



Prince George’s County schools cancelled due to A Day Without Women

20f11d23-006c-4c46-a706-3e0f8082ee08-large16x9_1280x720_60502C00UEDEV.jpgBy YASMINE ASKARI

Prince George’s County Public Schools were closed last Wednesday in a last-minute decision due to a high number of teachers and staff members taking the day off for the Day Without a Woman protest.

“Throughout Prince George’s County Public Schools, a high number of school-based and support staff have requested leave for Wednesday, March 8. As of 5:30 p.m., approximately 1,700 teachers and 30 percent of transportation staff have requested leave. We cannot transport students and provide safe, productive learning environments without adequate staff,” Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell said in a statement. “As a result, schools will be closed tomorrow for students. We apologize for the inconvenience this will surely cause to many families.”

The day-long strike, which coincided with International Woman’s Day, was organized by the Women’s March on Washington. Following the lead of the “Bodega strike” in New York City by Yemini store owners and the Day Without Immigrants, the strike intended to highlight the importance of women in the workforce and as consumers.

“This was not a union led effort,” said Theresa Dudley, president of Prince George’s County’s largest teacher union, the Prince George’s County Educator Association. “I was just as surprised as everyone else when they closed school for the children.”

Most teachers were reluctant to come forth on whether they took the day off for the protest due to the county’s stance on stating political views. Despite this, Dudley disclosed that many teachers went to the rally in Washington in representation of Prince George’s County educators.

While some parents on social media expressed disappointment about the short notice, parent organizations such as Reform PGCPS were more supportive.

“The timing of the cancellation was surprising and appeared a last minute resort, however, given the high rate of projected staff absences, the system did not have much choice,” the group said in an email.

“Our organization recognizes the importance and impact of such an event and is supportive of the cause. There is of course the question of the timing of the event during the workweek, scheduling it during the weekend might have allowed more women to participate without having to lose wages,” the group stated.

Other parents on social media noted that while schools had been closed, the school lunch program was still running for underprivileged children.

“Great job PGCPS in recognizing our community needs and much respect for using this platform to inform all,” one parent said on Facebook.

Prince George’s County was one of three large school districts to cancel classes due to the protest. Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina also cancelled classes due to the high number of staff taking leave.

The Enquirer Gazette