Tag Archives: transparency

Transparency, Anti-Corruption, and Sustainable Development: Is Progress Possible?

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IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks during a discussion in a past photo. IMF is starting to embrace new strategies to combat corruption. 

Brookings/The Partnership for Transparency Fund/World Bank Group – hosted a full day of discussions on anti-corruption on Monday. The first public session featured IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde – the second panel discussion highlighted  experts on corruption and extractives. The second half of the day, involving a small group on “Chatham House ” rules discussed ways to best approach research in the area of corruption and natural resources. The first two panels are captured on video –

The IMF and corruption discussion on Manday Septemebr 18th, 2017 starts at minute 41 on this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnMj-5P4snk

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State lawmakers from Prince George’s seek broad probe of graduation rates

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Members of the Prince George’s County’s legislative delegation joined the call Thursday for a state investigation into charges that county school officials doctored grades to increase promotion and graduation rates.

In a letter dated Thursday, the delegates called upon state Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon to examine the claims. The letter was signed by Dels. Jerry Walker and Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Bowie resident and vice chairwoman of the delegation.

The claims were made by four members of the county school board, including David Murray and Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie.

“Given that the Maryland State Department of Education has oversight over public school districts in Maryland and the educational interests of the State, we respectfully request the resources of the Maryland State Department Education for purposes of an in-depth audit and further investigation of such serious allegations,” the delegates wrote.

The allegations of grade tampering came to light this week when county schools CEO Kevin Maxwell revealed that four school board sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, asking him to conduct an investigation into possible irregularities. He dismissed the claims as “politically motivated” and revealed that a similar probe conducted last fall turned up no evidence of grade-tampering. However, Dr. Maxwell has refused to sit down with reporters as such fox for on camera interview despite repeated requests.

At a jam-packed and often heated school board meeting Thursday night, during which the $1.9 billion school budget was passed, Maxwell repeated his defense of the school system.

“The false allegations about our graduation rates strike at everything that Prince George’s schools stand for – past, present and future,” Maxwell said. “These allegations denigrate why teachers teach and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every teacher, counselor administrator and employee in this system.”

In their letter, the delegates said the state probe of anonymous allegations last fall did not go far enough because the school personnel interviewed in that investigation were selected by Maxwell.

“It has come to our attention that a high level of concern exists for those schools that experienced a significant change in graduation rate or that have a significant disparity between graduation rates and the performance of students on high school standardized tests,” delegates wrote. “We are also aware that the local change in grading policy may be causing both confusion and disagreement among teachers and parents and this issue could certainly be clarified through a careful MSDE review.”

County officials adopt slightly increased budget for FY 2018
The other nine school board members and a group of county high school principals released statements this week denying the charges and supporting Maxwell.

But Ahmed and Murray stood by their claims, saying Thursday they’d heard and seen enough evidence from system employees to indicate that something was amiss with the grading system. Hogan’s office has forwarded the letter to state education officials.

“There was enough information that I had received – testimony, having seen documents – that there convinced me there was reason for some of these things to be true,” Ahmed said. “I had reason to expect issues – widespread issues.”

Tracie Miller, principal of Gwynn Park High School, was joined by several other high school principals at the board meeting in Upper Marlboro as she spoke out in defense of her colleagues at the meeting.

“We, as high school principals, are extremely offended about the allegations and hurtful accusations that we pressure teachers to to give students grades in order to (increase) the graduation rate,” she said. Such claims, she added, “stain all of us.”

Many parents have come forward with information that their children grades appear suspicious after receiving an A in their report card. Other students who skipped school for many days got A’s and B’s as part of their grades in a shocking revelation to make the adminstration look good.

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Update: Democracy Dies in Darkness – The case of Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard.

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Delegate Jay Walker  (seen here) and others are said to have began to kill bill PG-402-17  in November 2016  when they voted to form a sub-education committee.

According to the information received from Tonya Wingfield (an activist) who attended the meeting in Annapolis on February 22, 2017. According to her,  the action to kill bill PG -402-17 began in November 2016 by Delegate Jay Walker and Prince George’s County delegation when they voted to form a sub-education committee.

But nothing under the sun stays hidden. We believe Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard is working closely behind the scenes as a Deputy Speaker Pro Tem and a Member of  Ways and Means Committee  to sabotage the bill and engage the issues in the dark. Prince George’s County public school children deserve better than what these leaders are offering at the moment. Playing political games which hurt the citizens of the county have no place in a developed society.

As one of the oldest and most perplexing phenomenon in human society, political corruption exist in every country in the contemporary world and it is not exclusively a problem of developing countries. The classical concept of corruption as a general disease of the body politics was stated by ancient political philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Plato in his theory of the “perverted” constitutions-Democracy, oligarchy, and tyranny-worried that these regimes instead of being guided by the law were serving the interest of the rulers. “These fundamental general notions of corruption all practically define corruption as dysfunctional. For it is seen as destructive of a particular political order, be it monarchy, aristocracy, or polity, the latter a constitutionally limited popular rule, and thus by definition devoid of any function within a political order.” This classic conception of corruption continued into modern times, and is central to the political thought of Machiavelli, Montesquieu and Rosseau. For Machiavelli corruption was process by which the virtue of the citizen was undermined and eventually destroyed. “Since most men are weak and lacking in the virtue of the good citizen except when inspired by a great leader, the process of corruption is ever threatening. And when virtue has been corrupted, a heroic leader must appear who in rebuilding the political order infuses this virtue into the entire citizenry.” Arnold Heidenheimer (1993 p. 25)

Read more >>> Democracy Dies in Darkness – The case of Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard.

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Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard (D-24-Mitchellville) is engaged in cover up and she appear to be using her position to suppress democracy and advance political corruption due to lack of transparency based on how she has handled bill PG -402-17

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Gov Hogan Pledged To Restore Integrity To Annapolis

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“Governor Larry Hogan is leading the way in cleaning up the ‘Good Ol Boy’ government in Annapolis. I definitely support his efforts on Ethics Reform, Transparency and Liquor board appointments. And of course, his redistricting efforts are laudable.” (“Deb Rey For Delegate,” Facebook, 1/19/17)

Candidate Larry Hogan: “On Day One We Are Going To Get To Work On Cleaning Up The Mess In Annapolis And Restoring Integrity To Our State Capital.” (“Larry Hogan Gubernatorial Announcement Speech,” Change Maryland, 1/31/14)

The Hogan Administration Has Worked To Root Out Corruption Across The State

Following His Inauguration, Governor Hogan Acted Quickly And Signed An Executive Order  To Hold Public Officials Accountable; Executive Order Outlined The Standards Of Conduct For All Members Of The Executive Branch.

Executive Order Barred Members of The Executive Branch From Certain Activities. “Less than three hours after taking office, Hogan had already signed his first executive order. It bars state employees from the executive branch from soliciting any kind of gift from anyone doing business with the state, and he ordered state employees not to give anyone any special treatment. ‘My first act as Governor holds all those who serve in the Executive Branch of state government to the highest possible ethical standards,’ Governor Hogan said in a news release announcing the executive order.” (“Larry Hogan Sworn In as Maryland’s 62nd Governor,” WBAL, 1/21/15)

Governor Hogan Worked In Conjunction With State And Federal Partners To Target Corruption At The Eastern Correctional Institution; Efforts Led To The Arrest Of 80 Individuals Involved In A Racketeering Conspiracy, The Largest Federal Indictment In State History. “Federal authorities have won indictments against 80 people, including corrections officers and inmates, in an alleged conspiracy to sneak heroin, cocaine, cellphones, pornography and other contraband into the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. The largest federal indictment in Maryland history is the latest to allege that officers and inmates used sex, drugs and violence to run a criminal enterprise out of a state prison facility.” (Kevin Rector, Justin Fenton, and Jessica Anderson, “Feds Indict 80 People – Including 18 Corrections Officers – In ‘Massive’ Maryland Prison Corruption Case,” The Baltimore Sun, 10/5/16)

Governor Hogan: “The indictments announced today are a clear victory in the fight against corruption, and I want to thank all the hardworking federal and state law enforcement officers whose tireless dedication and sacrifice made it possible. This morning, I spoke with Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and personally commended him for his work and partnership with our state investigators to successfully execute this complex operation. While running for office, I made it clear that the systemic corruption that had been allowed to take hold in our state prison system was unacceptable, and I promised Marylanders that our administration would combat it head on. Today, together with our federal partners, we have taken decisive action to make good on that promise.” (Press Release, “Statement from Governor Larry Hogan on Eastern Correctional Institution Corruption Indictments,” Office Of The Governor, 10/5/16)

Governor Hogan Has Received Widespread, Bipartisan Support for His Ethics Reform Proposals

Capital Gazette Editorial: “Lawmakers Should Act On Hogan’s Ethics Bills” (Editorial, “Our Say: Lawmakers Should Act On Hogan’s Ethics Bills,” Capital Gazette, 1/23/17)

“All of Hogan’s ideas are worth passing.”

“Democrats may not like it that a popular governor now has the opportunity to take the high ground by advocating cleaner and more open government – but they are the ones who’s lack of action created this opening for him.”

Carroll County Times Editorial: “State Officials Must Back Hogan’s Public Integrity Act” (Editorial, “State Officials Must Back Hogan’s Public Integrity Act,” Carroll County Times, 1/21/17)

“Holding government officials more accountable? Rooting out corruption? Having government business conducted in the open? Less politicized voting districts? Yes, yes, yes, and yes, please. (Editorial, “State Officials Must Back Hogan’s Public Integrity Act,” Carroll County Times, 1/21/17)

“These proposals are far from partisan, rather they are simply good government and deserve the support of the entire legislature.” (Editorial, “State Officials Must Back Hogan’s Public Integrity Act,” Carroll County Times, 1/21/17)

Senate President Mike Miller (D): “Ethics is going to be a major focus of the 2017 session. We look forward to looking at the governor’s proposals and working with him.” (Bryan Sears, “Hogan Legislation Focuses On Redistricting, Ethics and Lobbying Reform,” The Daily Record, 1/19/17)

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R): “This should be about letting the voters and the public know that they can trust their state government to do what is ethically moral and what is right.”  (Pamela Wood, “Hogan Proposes Maryland Government Ethics Reforms,” The Baltimore Sun, 1/19/17)

“These are great pieces of legislation that will help us clean up the political environment here in Maryland and I look forward to working on their passage.” (“Senator J.B. Jennings,” Facebook, 1/19/17)

Senator Douglas J.J. Peters (D): “I don’t think any of us would not support more transparency.” (Pamela Wood, “Hogan Proposes Maryland Government Ethics Reforms,” The Baltimore Sun, 1/19/17)

Speaker Mike Busch (D): “We look forward to working with the governor to make sure Maryland has the highest standards of transparency and ethics.” (“Gov. Larry Hogan Proposes Sweeping Ethics Reforms,” WBALTV, 1/19/17)

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke (R): “[Hogan’s ideas] would go a long way to deter some of the bad behavior that occurs.” (Pamela Wood, “Hogan Proposes Maryland Government Ethics Reforms,” The Baltimore Sun, 1/19/17)

Delegate Bob Long (R): “As an elected official, we all need to be held accountable and set an example for our fellow citizens.” (“Delegate Bob Long, 6th District,” Facebook, 1/20/17)

Delegate Deb Rey (R): “Governor Hogan is leading the way in cleaning up the ‘Good Ol Boy’ government in Annapolis. I definitely support his efforts on Ethics Reform, Transparency and Liquor board appointments. And of course, his redistricting efforts are laudable.” (“Deb Rey For Delegate,” Facebook, 1/19/17)

Public Integrity Act Of 2017

Governor Hogan’s Proposal Prohibits Former Officials And Employees Of The Legislative And Executive Branch From Lobbying For One Year After Leaving State Service. “A former official or employee of the Legislative Branch or Executive Branch may not assist or represent another party for compensation in a manner that is the subject of legislative action for 1 calendar year after the official or employee leaves employment with the Legislative Branch or the Executive Branch.” (“House Bill 879,” Maryland General Assembly, 2/6/17)

The Governor’s Proposal Prohibits Legislators From Pushing Or Affecting Legislation That Directly Benefits Their Employer Or A Business They Own. “A member of the General Assembly may not take legislative action, or otherwise attempt to influence amy legislation, that affects an entity: that employs the member or in which the member has, or is in the process of acquiring, an interest; and that the State has awarded, or for which the State is reviewing an award of, a license, a lease, or contract or any State funds.” (“House Bill 879,” Maryland General Assembly, 2/6/17)

The Governor’s Proposal Reforms Current Ethics Laws To Give The State Ethics Commission Oversight Over All Elected Officials And Registered Lobbyists And Consultants. “The Ethics Commission consists of the following members: one member of the Senate of Maryland appointed by the President of the Senate; one member of the house of Delegates, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and the following seven members appointed by the Governor: with the advice and consent of the Senate,  five members, at least one of whom shall be a member of the principal political party of which the Governor is not a member; one member nominated by the President of the Senate; and one member nominated by the Speaker of the House.” (“House Bill 879,” Maryland General Assembly, 2/6/17)

via Calvert Beacon

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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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Democrat Michael Vaughn of Prince George’s resigns from state legislature

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Maryland state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s), shown standing at right, has resigned his seat. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press)

Longtime state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) resigned Wednesday morning, less than an hour before the official start of the 2017 legislative session, citing health reasons.

His departure is the latest blow to Maryland Democrats, who have become embroiled in a long-running bribery and corruption investigation that U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein says involves “more than one” current lawmaker.

On Tuesday, Rosenstein announced that former Prince George’s council member and state delegate William A. Campos (D) had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for official favors as part of that investigation.

Last week, federal authorities reported the arrests of a Prince George’s County liquor board commissioner, the executive director of that board and two liquor store owners, who are accused of paying bribes to influence state legislation and secure grant money and favorable regulatory decisions.

Vaughn’s two-sentence resignation letter was delivered to the office of House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) Wednesday morning, shortly before the noon opening of the General Assembly’s annual legislative session.

There was no indication in the letter that Vaughn’s decision to leave the legislature was connected to the probe.

But the court filings from last week said that one elected official accused of accepting bribes, who is not named in the documents, voted in a 2015 House Economic Matters Committee hearing for a bill expanding alcohol sales in Prince George’s.

Eighteen members of the committee voted in favor of the bill, including Vaughn. Vaughn was the only Prince George’s lawmaker to vote yes. The court papers do not specify the lawmaker’s jurisdiction.

Vaughn has listed on state ethics disclosures that he receives income from the Joseph Smith and Sons scrap yard in Capitol Heights, Md., one of several locations where FBI agents searched for evidence last week.

Vaughn, 59, has not returned repeated calls or messages left at his home in Mitchellville in recent days. Numerous members of the Prince George’s delegation said they have sent him messages of support as word spread that his resignation was imminent, but had not spoken to him directly.

A spokeswoman for Busch declined to say Wednesday whether Vaughn’s resignation was linked to the investigation. In a statement released Tuesday night, after Campos’s guilty plea was announced, Busch said that he was “painfully disappointed that any member of the House of Delegates would compromise this institution and the public trust.”

“There is no room for this type of behavior in the House of Delegates,” his statement said. “Each of us needs to redouble our efforts to rebuild the trust with our constituents that has been compromised by the actions announced today.”

Vaughn was born in Tuskegee, Ala. He attended DuVal High School in Prince George’s County before receiving a bachelor’s degree from Southern University.

Since taking office in 2003, he has served on the Economic Matters Committee, which deals with bills that regulate alcohol, as well as banking, economic development, insurance and utilities. He has chaired the business regulation subcommittee for Economic Matters since 2007. In 2006, he was House deputy majority whip.

Vaughn supported 2015 legislation authorizing Sunday liquor sales in Prince George’s County, and a follow-up bill in 2016 that limited an expansion in the number of Sunday licenses to five.

The federal investigation unveiled last week accused David Son, a longtime Prince George’s liquor regulator who worked for his county’s senators in 2015, of arranging bribes from two liquor store owners to two elected officials for their work on the bills.

Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the county’s delegation, said in a statement that the lawmakers were “deeply disappointed” in the federal allegations of corruption and the assertion that current or former lawmakers were involved.

“The Prince George’s Delegation strives to meet the highest standard of legislative ethics,” Walker said. “These allegations should not reflect on the hard working members of the Prince George’s Delegation who are deeply committed to representing their constituents with integrity and independence.”

Walker said that he has not spoken to Vaughn in recent days.

Before being elected to the House, Vaughn worked in banking and finance, according to his official House of Delegates biography. He came under scrutiny for falsely claiming on his campaign website that he played football for the Dallas Cowboys for three years, which he retracted in 2010 after questioning from a Washington City Paper reporter.

He also worked in sales for Marriott Corporation and the Hilton Washington Embassy Row for a year. Vaughn currently owns ADDR Properties, a real estate company in Mitchellville, according to Maryland assessment records.

via Washington post

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