Sunday, July 28, 2013

EXCUSE ME? Potomac's Millionaire Congressman John Delaney Voted with Republicans AGAINST Obamacare for Big Business

WTF: Coming off the heels of freshman Congressman John Delaney's bad vote to allow the NSA to spy on his constituents, The Baltimore Sun's John Fritze is reporting that Delaney (a Maryland "Democrat") recently voted with U.S. House Republicans against President Obama's health care reform proposal (aka "Obamacare"). After all that Democrats went through over the last few years with the birthers, Tea Partiers, and hysteria about Obamacare "death panels" -- did we re-draw the Congressional districts of all of our Democratic House Representatives in order to facilitate the election of a conservative 1%-er? Fritze's piece also highlights a range of support from Delaney for Republican legislative proposals (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: Something unusual happened when the controversy over the nation's health care law erupted again on the floor of the House of Representatives this month: A Maryland Democrat voted with Republicans.

Rep. John Delaney, the state's newest member of Congress, was one of 35 Democrats out of 200 to vote for a Republican proposal to delay a requirement that large businesses offer health coverage to workers. He was the only Democrat from Maryland to do so.
"I've said from the beginning that Obamacare is an imperfect piece of legislation..." Delaney said of the vote.... And so Delaney has positioned himself to the right of the rest of the state's congressional delegation. He has split with a majority of Democrats on six major votes on issues such as oil drilling and domestic surveillance. He courted more than a dozen Republicans to co-sponsor a bill to fund infrastructure projects and recently joined a bipartisan "no labels" coalition that is seeking middle ground in Washington....

This month, Delaney became the only House Democrat to sign on to a proposal to study federal monetary policy — a longtime cause of conservatives. Several Republicans on Capitol Hill said Delaney's business background gives him a sense of authority on debates about the economy and employment. "He came by and spent a lot of time with me," said Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and deputy majority whip who is co-sponsoring one of Delaney's bills....

A New Jersey native, Delaney in 2000 founded a successful bank called CapitalSource and led it as CEO for nearly a decade.... His former career makes him among the wealthiest members of the House. Delaney spent $2.3 million of his own money on the 2012 campaign.... Delaney remains a major shareholder and is poised to collect tens of millions of dollars under a pending sale of CapitalSource.

NOW WE KNOW WHERE JOHN DELANEY STANDS ON THE ISSUES - Below Maryland Juice highlights a few pieces of disturbing evidence of John Delaney's conservative views. But it is worth noting that before writing this article, I posted a link to The Baltimore Sun article above on my social media accounts, and I've been surprised to see that its been viewed by hundreds of people. News of Delaney's fondness for Republican legislative proposals has many Maryland Democrats angry (samples below):

DELANEY'S SIGNATURE CORPORATE TAX BREAK PROPOSAL IS OPPOSED BY THE CLINTONS' THINK TANK (AND MANY MORE) - Notably, John Delaney's election to the U.S. House was facilitated heavily by an endorsement from Democratic President Bill Clinton. But an anonymous source pointed out that Delaney's signature legislative proposal (a bill to allow corporations who hid their money abroad to "repatriate" their earnings) is being opposed by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank established by the Clintons to bolster their policy agenda. CAP is joined in opposition to Delaney's corporate welfare proposal by a range of progressive groups including MoveOn, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, SEIU and many more (details below):

The craziest thing about all this is that unless he's moved recently, it doesn't even appear that Potomac banker John Delaney lives in the 6th Congressional District he represents. Congressman John Delaney appears to be represented by Congressman Chris Van Hollen:

But I guess turnabout is fair play, because it is apparently the case that anyone who lives in the state of Maryland can run for the 6th Congressional District seat --- I repeat, any Maryland resident can run (hint, hint!).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ROLL CALL: See How MD House Members Voted on NSA Mass Surveillance // HINT: Vote Edwards or Sarbanes for US Senate?

BACKGROUND: Yesterday Maryland Juice reported that in response to revelations that our government was engaging in constitutionally questionable mass surveillance of Americans, the U.S. House of Representatives would be voting on a proposal to end funding for the NSA's warehousing of your communications. For years Democrats berated President George W. Bush and his minions (Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft) over their post-9/11 war on civil liberties and the Constitution. But for years now, we've watched as the Democrats took power and used their status to continue and expand Bush's assault on our privacy and liberty.

Yesterday the nation got a chance to see who among the hundreds of members of the U.S. House would actually be willing to take a vote to restore due process. Unfortunately, the effort to protect civil liberties came breathtakingly close but fell short by a handful of votes in a 205 to 217 vote.

Maryland's eight U.S. House members split 50/50 on protecting due process and your privacy, and a switch of only seven votes would've changed the outcome in favor of the people. Below we highlight how the Free State's Congressional delegation voted on the effort to end the NSA's mass surveillance program, and we provide some political context for the pathetic anti-civil liberties votes from four of our U.S. House members. But first, The New York Times reported on the broad context of the anti-surveillance effort (excerpt below):
NEW YORK TIMES: A deeply divided House defeated legislation Wednesday that would have blocked the National Security Agency from collecting vast amounts of phone records, handing the Obama administration a hard-fought victory in the first Congressional showdown over the N.S.A.’s surveillance activities since Edward J. Snowden’s security breaches last month.

The 205-to-217 vote was far closer than expected and came after a brief but impassioned debate over citizens’ right to privacy and the steps the government must take to protect national security. It was a rare instance in which a classified intelligence program was openly discussed on the House floor, and disagreements over the  program led to some unusual coalitions....
The amendment to the annual Defense Department spending bill, written by Representatives Justin Amash, a libertarian Republican from Western Michigan, and John Conyers Jr., a veteran liberal Democrat from Detroit, turned Democrat against Democrat and Republican against Republican. It would have limited N.S.A. phone surveillance to specific targets of law enforcement investigations, not broad dragnets....

Mr. Amash framed his push as a defense of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure, and he found a surprising ally, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin and one of the principal authors of the Patriot Act. Mr. Sensenbrenner said his handiwork was never meant to create a program that allows the government to demand the phone records of every American. “The time has come to stop it,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said....

Ultimately, 94 House Republicans defied their leadership; 111 Democrats — a majority of the Democratic caucus — defied their president....

HOW DID MARYLAND'S U.S. HOUSE MEMBERS VOTE?- Though a majority of U.S. House Democrats voted to curb the NSA's sketchy mass surveillance program, a majority of Maryland's U.S. House Democrats voted to continue the erosion of their constituents' privacy rights and civil liberties. See the Maryland roll call below:
  • Rep. Elijah Cummings - CD7 Democrat
  • Rep. Donna Edwards - CD4 Democrat
  • Rep. Andy Harris - CD1 Republican
  • Rep. John Sarbanes - CD3 Democrat
  • Rep. John Delaney - CD6 Democrat
  • Rep. Steny Hoyer - CD5 Democrat
  • Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger - CD2 Democrat
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen - CD8 Democrat

SHADINESS FROM MARYLAND'S HOUSE DEMOCRATS WHO SUPPORT NSA SPYING - Four Maryland Democratic House members voted to continue funding the NSA's mass surveillance program, joining a majority of Republicans, including policymakers like Michele Bachmann, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor. Let's explore the anti-civil liberties votes (and some hypocrisy) from a few of Maryland's Democrats below:

#1 - REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER: Ruppersberger's vote to continue funding the NSA's mass surveillance program should not come as a surprise to anybody. The NSA, after all, is headquartered in his district, and Dutch co-authored the controversial CISPA cybersnooping proposal which failed earlier this year (ironically with the backdrop of a White House veto threat that cited the privacy rights of individuals). But it is worth noting the numerous reports that Rep. Ruppersberger is one of the top recipients of contributions from the same Pentagon contractors who are doing much of the spying. The Washington Times reiterated this point last month (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON TIMES: Six of the largest government contractors doing “Top Secret” work for the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies have given more than $16 million to lawmakers since 2007, according to Maplight, a firm that tracks political donations.   

The biggest donors were Lockheed Martin, whose employees gave over $5 million; Boeing, Inc. whose workers chipped in more than $4.5 million; and Northrop Grumman, $3.3 million....

Democratic Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, whose Maryland district includes the Fort Meade headquarters of the NSA, and who is the ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, received the second most in contributions, with just over $225,000....

#2 - REP. STENY HOYER: Steny Hoyer's vote to continue the mass surveillance of Americans is also not a shocker. Hoyer previously voted for the Patriot Act twice. Moreover, in past months, Hoyer was running around the country endorsing centrist/conservative Democrats in contested Democratic Primaries, presumably in the hope of finding allies in his quest to succeed Nancy Pelosi. But even more disturbing than Hoyer's positioning against progressives is his seeming use of the Patriot Act and government surveillance as political tools. For example, Maryland Juice located a 2005 press release from Mr. Hoyer where he hypocritically chastised Republicans over their use of the Patriot Act, before voting for it multiple times. Interestingly, the press release appears to have been removed from Hoyer's website, though I was able to track down a backed up copy (excerpt below):
STENY HOYER (CIRCA 2005):  House Republicans Abdicate Oversight on Patriot Act

Today, on this House floor, the American people will see no division in our willingness to do what is necessary to fight terrorism. What they will see today, however, is an absolute abuse of power by this Republican Majority – which has deliberately and purposely chosen to stifle a full debate on this important legislation, the Patriot Act.

This Republican rule is nothing less than a craven failure of our Congressional oversight responsibility on legislation that involves the government’s power to intrude on American lives. Every single year, Mr. Speaker, this Congress reauthorizes Department of Defense programs.  This reauthorization process allows us to assess, to re-examine and to re-calibrate our defense policies to the changing circumstances.

Today, however, we are being forced by this Republican Majority to permanently authorize 14 of 16 provisions of the Patriot Act.  And, we are being forced to extend the remaining two provisions – one that involves “roving” wiretaps; the other dealing with the FBI’s power to demand business records – for 10 years.

Democrats fought to sunset these provisions.  Why?  Because when it comes to the government’s power to intrude on the private lives of American citizens, the United States Congress should not be a participant in giving the government unchecked power to do so.  But our Republican friends seem to be afraid of a free, full debate on this issue.  Why are they so afraid of our democratic process?....

This Republican rule is an affront not only to Democrats – but to the American people and to our constitutional principles. And, history will record it as such.  Vote no on this rule.

#3 - REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Van Hollen is actually my own representative in Congress, so his vote to continue supporting the mass surveillance of Americans (including me) is very, very disappointing. Many of us expect a solid progressive voting record from Rep. Van Hollen, especially considering that his district is anchored in liberal Montgomery County. But the vote to continue eroding civil liberties and due process for Van Hollen's constituents appears to be the latest in a small string of support for the military industrial complex from someone who is often seen as Montgomery County's "golden boy."

In March of 2011, Van Hollen voted against winding down the war in Afghanistan (note that Rep. Donna Edwards was the only House member from Maryland to vote to end the war). Then in October of 2011, the Montgomery County Council introduced a completely symbolic resolution asking Congress to spend more money on social programs instead of war. The resolution had enough sponsors to pass, but strangely The Washington Post reported that it was withdrawn after lobbying by Lockheed Martin and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: A Montgomery County Council resolution asking Congress to spend less on wars and redirect the funds to social programs has drawn the scrutiny of one of the county’s largest employers and other lawmakers.... The nonbinding resolution, introduced by County Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), had gained a 5 to 4 majority on the council and was scheduled for a vote Tuesday.

But late last week, lawmakers and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, a defense contracting giant that employs more than 5,000 workers in Montgomery, urged county officials against the resolution. Ervin has withdrawn the measure, citing lack of support.

Council members and county officials were called by one of Lockheed Martin’s top lobbyists, a state delegate, and the offices of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D)....
Going back to the topic of the Patriot Act, it should be highlighted that like Steny Hoyer, Van Hollen sang a different tune in 2005. Check out his hilariously contradictory past statements about the Patriot Act (excerpt below):
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (CIRCA 2005): Mr. Chairman, I rise to explain my decision to vote against the Conference Report on the Patriot Act.... It is very important that, in our effort to defend the liberties that Americans cherish, we not enact measures that erode the very freedoms we seek to protect. We can ensure that the government has the necessary surveillance powers without sacrificing the privacy rights of Americans....

Unlike the Senate bill, the Conference Report allows the government to obtain personal information on a mere showing of “relevance,” thereby striking the safeguard contained in the Senate passed bill that required a three-part test.  This allows the government to obtain this information without demonstrating that the information that they are seeking has some connection to a terrorist or a spy....

It is important that any policy that is advanced to enhance our nation’s security always maintains appropriate “sunshine” and checks and balances on those law enforcement and intelligence agencies that are empowered to promote national security.  History reminds us that these law enforcement tools can be overzealously used and may also be directed at innocent parties....

#4 - REP. JOHN DELANEY: There's not much to say about John Delaney's vote to support the mass surveillance of his constituents. As a freshman lawmaker with no legislative record, politicos had little information available to try and predict how Delaney might vote in Congress. But I guess we're beginning to get a sense of him, and if this vote is any indication, it does not appear that Delaney prioritizes civil liberties or due process. This morning, however, I did receive the following press statement from Delaney's office "explaining" his vote:
JOHN DELANEY: In considering the Amash amendment, I do not believe that it represents the best approach to this critical national security topic. Oversight and smart reform deserve full deliberation and consideration. Unfortunately, this was a hurried debate on truly sweeping changes, via an amendment to the defense appropriations bill. Such an approach does not do justice to the seriousness of the issue, for either side.

The surveillance programs administered by the NSA and other agencies raise serious and troubling constitutional questions that need to be resolved. With new technologies emerging each day, we need to continually revisit our government practices. Our system of government has checks in place and Congress has an important oversight role. We should continue to be vigilant, ensuring that our constitutional rights are protected and I hope we have a serious debate about the future of this program. 
Basically it sounds like Delaney did not have enough time to think about whether the gutting of the 4th amendment and mass surveillance of his constituents was kosher. Um, okay. It was also reported this week that he stands to earn $69 million from the sale of his company, so maybe he's banking on being able to vote however he wants.

A HYPOTHETICAL OPEN SEAT PRIMARY FOR U.S. SENATE? -  So there you have it folks -- only four of Maryland's eight U.S. House members voted to curb the mass surveillance of their constituents, and one of the four "good" votes even came from Tea Party Rep. Andy Harris. Where does that leave progressives in the event that a U.S. Senate seat opens up down the road? At this point in time it seems like most of Maryland's congressional delegation would be interested in a promotion to the U.S. Senate, but there seem to be dwindling choices for those of us who are tired of the "inside" game when it comes to issues of justice and liberty. If the election were held today, based on the trajectory of these voting records, Maryland Juice would be forced to take a close look at Rep. Donna Edwards and Rep. John Sarbanes. I hate to say it, but a lot of other folks in our delegation are looking kind of suspect right now.... You can attribute this partly to their ambition, partly to their unwillingness to buck leadership, and partly to their feelings of invincibility in their current positions (*eye roll*).  But as one of my friends used to enjoy stating, "nobody's irreplaceable." And you can bet that if a U.S. Senate seat eventually emerges, Maryland's progressive primary electorate will be able to quickly rule out some of the potential options. But there's still time for these wayward lawmakers to make it right!

ANGRY TWEETS AGAINST THE FOUR MARYLAND DEMOCRATS WHO SUPPORTED MASS SURVEILLANCE - Maryland Juice is not the only one who is extremely irate about the assault on civil liberties from Congress. After the NSA vote, we saw a number of angry Tweets being directed at Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. John Delaney and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (samples below):

BACK TO SCHOOL FOR A CIVICS LESSON? - Amazingly, a wide range of telephone and Internet companies decided to give the NSA access to your user data (eg: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Skype, YouTube, etc). That is a situation that will need to be addressed by consumers very soon. But even more disturbing than the corporate misbehavior is that a large chunk of Congress (aka our representatives) apparently need a civics refresher course. After all, Maryland Juice would argue that this NSA surveillance vote was no ordinary vote. Whether the U.S. government can snoop without justification on the communications of millions of innocent Americans raises fundamental questions about due process, civil liberties, and abuse of power -- and more importantly, the issue begs the question of where these lawmakers draw the line when acting in the name of our safety. The slippery slope we all feared when Bush implemented the Patriot Act has become all too real, and Congress continues to let it happen. Enough already!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NOW OR NEVER: Congress to Vote on Ending NSA Surveillance Today // Left-Right Coalition Needs You to Call Your House Reps

MARYLAND JUICE PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you paid attention to the news in the last month, you likely discovered that the NSA, America's top-secret surveillance agency headquartered in Maryland, has been spying on and harvesting data on your telephone usage, email communications, social media accounts, and much more -- all in the name of your safety. Numerous major corporations have been complicit in providing the NSA and FBI access to your communications data, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Skype, AOL, YouTube, Facebook, Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and more. But the surveillance dragnet has involved millions of innocent Americans with little to no transparency for the public and minimal oversight from members of Congress. The only reason we now have proof of this government snooping on residents of the United States is due to the disclosures made from a handful of whistleblowers dating back to the George W. Bush administration, and most recently from 29-year-old former defense contractor Edward Snowden -- who is now being pursued as a "traitor" and "spy" by the Obama administration.

In fact, due to the NSA's classification of their spying operations as top-secret information, Senators who knew about what was going on were not even allowed to talk about it. But as the liberal blog DailyKos recently reported, a trio of U.S. Senators has been warning us for years about this civil liberties travesty (excerpt below):
DAILYKOS: Over two years ago [U.S. Senators] Merkley, Udall and Wyden warned about the administration's surveillance overrreach: "I want to deliver a warning this afternoon,” Wyden said. “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry...."

U.S. HOUSE VOTE TO END MASS SURVEILLANCE OF AMERICANS TODAY: This may be the only vote the American public gets out of Congress to finally curtail years of sketchy behavior from government spying agencies, so your diligence as a voter is urgently needed today (details below). Dozens of groups on the left and right are mobilizing their supporters to call members of Congress and urge them to vote to end mass surveillance of Americans. The Huffington Post reported on the rare development yesterday, and noted that the NSA is now lobbying against the interests of the people (excerpt below):
HUFFINGTON POST: The National Security Agency called for a "top secret" meeting with members of the House on Tuesday to lobby against the first House amendment to challenge the agency's authority to cull broad swaths of communications data, according to an invitation circulated in Congress.

The amendment was authored by Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian Republican from Michigan, and cosponsored by former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and liberal Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers. The House ruled the amendment in order on Monday, and it is expected to get a vote sometime this week.

NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander scheduled a last-minute, members-only briefing in response to the amendment, according to an invitation distributed to members of Congress this morning and forwarded to HuffPost. "In advance of anticipated action on amendments to the DoD Appropriations bill, Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of the House Intelligence Committee invites your Member to attend a question and answer session with General Keith B. Alexander of the National Security Agency," reads the invitation. The invitation warned members that they could not share what they learned with their constituents or others....
The Amash amendment would put the House on record when it comes to NSA snooping. The measure, which would be attached to the Pentagon's spending bill, "ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act" and "bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215...."
But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee with access to classified details about the program, said there is no evidence that the data collection had been directly responsible for stopping any single plot. Civil libertarians, meanwhile, are aghast at the NSA's broad interpretation of the law, and even the [Patriot Act's] author said he was surprised at how it is being used....

IT'S NOW OR NEVER TO STAND UP FOR YOUR CIVIL LIBERTIES: The excuse by our nosy bureaucrats and government contractors over the years has been that the mass surveillance of Americans was all made legal years ago through the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act. Today you have an opportunity to take that excuse away from lawmakers and finally tell Congress to put their money where their mouths have been regarding civil liberties and your privacy rights. Please contact Maryland's U.S. House members and ask them to support the "Amash amendment" to end mass surveillance of Americans:

  • CD1: Rep. Andy Harris (GOP)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-5311
  • CD2: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-3061
  • CD3: Rep. John Sarbanes (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-4016
  • CD4: Rep. Donna Edwards (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-8699
  • CD5: Rep. Steny Hoyer (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-4131
  • CD6: Rep. John Delaney (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-2721
  • CD7: Rep. Elijah Cummings (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-4741
  • CD8: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (DEM)  -  EmailTweet  or call 202-225-5341

This issue speaks to the fundamental balance of power between the people and our government, and Maryland Juice will be fairly unforgiving to those Democrats who choose to stand with the military industrial complex on the side of the Bush-Ashcroft-Cheney surveillance state. You can find additional details on the effort to protect our civil liberties through the "Amash amendment" in the ACLU Fact Sheet below:

Full disclosure: Note that I work for a progressive, Internet Freedom organization called Demand Progress that has been fighting the NSA's surveillance efforts.

Friday, July 19, 2013

PROTEST? Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett Weighs In On The Fillmore Silver Spring's Anti-LGBT Concert with Molotov

UPDATE: The controversy over The Fillmore's upcoming "Molotov" concert is growing, as the story was picked up by The Washington Post's Bill Turque in an article last night (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has asked the Fillmore Silver Spring to cancel next month’s booking of the Mexican rap-metal band Molotov because of homophobic lyrics in one of its songs. “I have serious concerns about this booking,” Leggett wrote in a letter Thursday to Stephanie Steele, general manager at the Fillmore. “I am personally offended.”

The title of the 1997 song is a Spanish slur against gay men.

Equality Maryland, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, said that if the booking is not canceled it might stage an information picket at the venue. “A lot of people don’t realize that lyrics are not harmless and that they impact people,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of the organization. “I think it’s a good opportunity if the concert goes ahead to have this discussion....”

Below Maryland Juice writer Dan Furmansky provides readers with an update on recent controversy surrounding Silver Spring's Fillmore music hall. At issue is the LiveNation venue's decision to book "Molotov," a Mexico City rock-rap band with a history of drawing protests from LGBT rights advocates. In his article, Furmansky discusses the outcome of a meeting between The Fillmore and Silver Spring LGBT activist Evan Glass, and he also provides commentary on the matter from Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett:

DAN FURMANSKY: “Can you imagine 2,000 people shouting "Kill the Faggot"? That is exactly what will most likely take place on August 26, when Mexican band Motolov performs at The Fillmore Silver Spring.” So writes Gabriel Rodríguez-Rico, a Mexican lawyer based in D.C., in his petition urging the Fillmore to not allow messages of hate and violence to spread at their venue. 

I signed Gabriel’s petition. Will you please join me?

The Washington Blade and Maryland Juice highlighted Molotov’s controversial lyrics last week, but the despite the public scrutiny, the Fillmore isn’t budging. (In case you missed it, here’s the story). Clearly, the Fillmore is not hearing from enough people. (Hint hint.)

One person the venue has heard from is Evan Glass, chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and a board member of Equality Maryland. Glass reports to Juice that he met with the Fillmore late last week (in a personal capacity, he notes), a meeting he had scheduled even before the news broke about the band in The Washington Blade. Here’s what Evan had to say about the meeting:
EVAN GLASS: After being approached by various concerned parties, I met with representatives of the Fillmore Silver Spring to discuss the community's concerns with the band Molotov and the violently homophobic lyrics to some of their songs. The Fillmore’s position is that different Spanish speakers interpret the lyrics differently, and that regardless of interpretation, the Fillmore is a private business and is afforded the freedom of speech.

When the Nazi's marched in Skokie, Illinois in 1978 they were protected by the Constitution's First Amendment, but that did not mean they were welcome. Now, in 2013, in a state where marriage equality was recently approved at the ballot box, there is no excuse for promoting this type of hateful and homophobic language - whether directly from the band or indirectly as a music venue. The Fillmore needs to understand that they are operating within a progressive county that won't tolerate the condemnation of minority communities. If they move forward with allowing the band Molotov to play as scheduled, then I wouldn't be surprised to see the community respond with protests and a possible boycott.  
Given that there was a good deal of controversy regarding multi-million dollar taxpayer subsidies for The Fillmore Silver Spring, it looks like the chickens have come home to roost. Did Montgomery County sell its soul to the Walmart of music venues? And if Molotov is what we can expect now, what’s next for Montgomery County? I hear there are some great “white power bands” that Live Nation Entertainment might want to book. Might I suggest the bands Jew Slaughter or White Terror? Sure, they might rankle a few feathers, but if there’s money to be made and a private right of free speech to hide behind…

Speaking of money to be made, Live Nation Entertainment isn’t hurting. Live Nation Entertainment is a merger between Live Nation—a concert promoter—and Ticketmaster. With $5 billion in reported revenue in 2011, I think they can probably afford to take Molotov off the calendar without filing Chapter 7.

Of course, Live Nation Entertainment CEO and President Michael Rapino has a history of providing a forum for artists whose lyrics promote anti-gay violence, such as reggae artist Buju Banton, who attempted (poorly) to make nice with the LGBT community after being protested all over the world. The same can’t be said for Molotov. Given the seeming lack of a conscience from the Fillmore’s mother ship, I don’t think anything but bad PR and public pressure is going to deter the Fillmore Silver Spring from pulling Molotov. (Hint hint).

When the conversation about which music venue to bring to Silver Spring was taking place, some of these decision-makers said Live Nation would be better for the taxpayers. After $8 million dollars of our taxpayer money went to subsidize bringing Live Nation to Colesville Road, let me ask you this:

Do you feel Live Nation is being a good neighbor? Please sign the petition today.

Molotov has more than one song with homophobic slurs, but the one with the lyric, “I love the murderer; kill the faggot,” happens to be their most often played song in concerts. You can find numerous You Tube videos with unimpressive teenage boys belting the words out with hormone-laced, homophobic venom.
Just in case you’re feeling sympathetic because Molotov said “we don’t mean gay people,” I think the blog Blabbeando put it best a few years ago (excerpt below):
BLABBEANDO: In the past, Molotov has denied that the song is in any way, shape or form homophobic. In an article published in Uruguay's Ultima Hora on February 19, 2004 (which is no longer online), they were asked about the lyrics during a press conference. Band member Randy Ebright, who was actually born in the United States, was the one who came to its defense telling reporters that the song was meant to attack Mexican government officials and not the gay community. According to Ebright in Mexico the word "puto" meant "queer, someone who is fearful, who doesn't want to confront certain things." 
If you actually read the lyrics above you can actually see how they do reflect a blistering attack on those who might be passive to conformity and official corruption. But, as a Mexican friend of mine told me, why is it that when bands seek the worst thing to call anyone they immediately grab for the homophobic language? … But, whether we actually take Molotov's defense of the song at face value and recognize it as a critique on government, it doesn't mean that the crowds who have embraced the song haven't done so because it allows them to embrace the calls to kill a faggot. Believe me, I have been at concerts where the song has been played over the speakers before the actual show, and the crowd reaction is immediate, aggressive, loud, violent and extremely homophobic.
Gabriel, who created the petition, notes:
GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ: While Silver Spring celebrates recent landmarks in the fight for equality, summer of 2013 has already registered six attacks against members of the LGBTQ community in the D.C. area, including a transgender woman who was stabbed 35 to 40 times.

What more is there to say? 

Dan Furmansky

P.S. MOCO EXECUTIVE IKE LEGGETT WEIGHS IN - I contacted Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's office to see what they had to say about this controversy, and they provided me a copy of the following letter they sent to The Fillmore Silver Spring:
July 18, 2013

Stephanie Steele
The Fillmore
8656 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Dear Ms. Steele,

It has come to my attention that the band Molotov is scheduled to perform at the Fillmore on August 26, 2013 and that band’s repertoire includes a song that attacks homosexual males in an extremely derogatory way, a song that verges on hate speech or completely crosses that line.

I have serious concerns about this booking. I am personally offended. I understand that the First Amendment provides for freedom of speech, and that even distasteful speech may be protected speech. I also know that under the lease agreement signed between Montgomery County and Live Nation, the County has no say in specific artistic content booked at the facility. And, of course, controversy over extreme song lyrics is not new or uncommon.

This correspondence is, therefore, not intended to dictate the choices The Fillmore makes but instead is for the purpose of expressing my personal opinion. I believe it is shared by others.

In addition to expressing my displeasure I would ask you to reconsider the Fillmore’s decision to book the Molotov band.

Bringing what I believe to be hateful sentiments into our County does nothing to contribute positively to our culture, tolerance, or the well-being of our County residents. This is true regardless of the source of those sentiments or the target of those sentiments. Just because one might argue that everyone has the right to say, show, or sing something doesn’t mean they ought to exercise that right. It also does not mean that The Fillmore should provide a forum for such an exercise.


Ike Leggett
County Executive

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Delegate Heather Mizeur Talks About Her Priorities for Maryland Governor & Respect for Senator Mikulski

Late last night, Maryland Juice reported that Delegate Heather Mizeur is announcing a 2014 run for Governor today. We thought that would make this a good time to release an exclusive interview we conducted with Mizeur last September. In the quick video below, our 2012 Democratic Convention correspondent Jed Millard captured Mizeur's thoughts on what her priority would be as Governor and who she takes inspiration from in her work. Note that the video was shot last September, so this piece is from the Maryland Juice vault:

Delegate Heather Mizeur also launched the following email blast this morning outlining some of her reasons for running (excerpt below):
HEATHER MIZEUR: Today I’m announcing that I’m all in. I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together to create good, well paying jobs, improve our schools, protect our environment, promote our health, and create safe and thriving neighborhoods in every community across Maryland.

There are great challenges facing us, and also incredible opportunities. I know that the solution at every turn is found by working together. I want to see Maryland live up to its full potential rather than settling for “good enough.” We are one community, and we need to start talking and interacting and working together like we understand that in our core.

It’s time to fundamentally change the way we do business, the way we govern. And that starts with a different kind of candidate, running a different sort of campaign.... 

Over the weeks and months ahead, we hope to see you at service projects around the state – repairing schools and playgrounds, restoring nature preserves, working with children and cleaning up our neighborhoods. We’re running this campaign out in communities across Maryland – not just giving speeches or holding rallies, but working side-by-side with our neighbors to make Maryland stronger. I’ve been warned that this will take too much time, draw too little press, keep me from fundraising full-time. But I believe that the best way to help Maryland is to lift up our communities and get our hands dirty. That starts on the campaign trail....

Public service is an opportunity for ordinary people to do extraordinary things – making our communities better every day through a commitment to build; to lift up; to collaborate.

I know that many Marylanders are ready to join a movement that strengthens this great state—one that honors the work that has been done, and recognizes the challenges ahead. I believe that by rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work in every corner of our state, learning about the challenges and struggles but also the opportunities all around Maryland, and how our communities are solving their problems – I can start a conversation about how we all come together. We can ensure that Maryland never settles for less than we deserve as a community and as a state....

Let’s get to work!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

TOMORROW: Delegate Heather Mizeur Announcing Campaign for Maryland Governor // READ HER KICKOFF STATEMENT

Maryland Juice just received the following press release from Delegate Heather Mizeur announcing her campaign for Governor tomorrow:

Delegate Heather Mizeur Announces Campaign For Governor

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Tomorrow morning, Delegate Heather Mizeur will announce her campaign for Governor of Maryland and will kick off a weekend of events around the state. She released the following statement:

I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together to grow our economy, improve our schools, protect our environment, promote our health, and create safe and thriving neighborhoods in every community across Maryland.

I want to see Maryland live up to its full potential rather than settling for “good enough” – and the most effective way for me to do that now is as governor.  I know that the solution at every turn is found by working together. We are one community, and we need to start talking and interacting and working together like we understand that in our core.

It’s time to fundamentally change the way we do business, the way we govern. And that starts with a different kind of candidate, running a different sort of campaign.

We’re running this campaign out in communities across Maryland – not just giving speeches, or holding rallies, but working side-by-side with our neighbors – working to make Maryland stronger. I’ve been warned that this will take too much time, draw too little press, keep me from fundraising full-time. But I believe that the best way to help Maryland is to lift up our communities and get our hands dirty. That starts on the campaign trail.

Mizeur has served as a District 20 delegate for seven years, representing the Takoma Park and Silver Spring communities. Prior to her work in the Maryland General Assembly, Mizeur spent several years on Capitol Hill, notably as Senator John Kerry’s domestic policy director, and served on the Takoma Park City Council.

Mizeur’s twenty years of experience crafting policy has made her a progressive powerhouse in Annapolis, where she has worked to expand health care to children, protect reproductive rights for women, safeguard the environment and bring new technology jobs to Maryland.

Mizeur lives in Takoma Park with her wife, Deborah. They own and operate an organic farm on the Eastern Shore. Mizeur would be the first woman governor of Maryland and the first openly gay governor in the country.

Tomorrow, Mizeur will be attending the J. Millard Tawes Clam Bake in Crisfield, MD.

In an effort to engage supporters and community members in activities that will have direct impact on their neighbors and families, Mizeur will spearhead a series of service projects in the coming days and months. Currently the campaign has 16 house parties and nine service projects scheduled through late summer.

Service Projects through the weekend:
Friday, July 19 at 6:15 pm
Food Drive @ Irie Café
2200 Petrie Lane, Glenarden, MD

Saturday, July 20 at 1pm           
School Playground Painting, Galway Elementary School
12612 Galway Drive, Silver Spring, MD

Sunday, July 21 at 11am 
Wetland Cleanup and Trail Rebuilding
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD

Monday, July 22 at 2pm
Reading with Children
Goodnow Community Center
5311 Goodnow Road, Baltimore, MD


HMM: Saqib Ali Running for Something & Sen. Forehand Seeks Re-Election // PLUS: Young Dems, MCDCC & Labor Talk It Out

ALSO: Del. Heather Mizeur weighs in on recent Supreme Court Voting Rights Act ruling

Below Maryland Juice provides a few tidbits of news that may be of interest to those tracking 2014 campaign developments:

JUICE #1: FORMER DELEGATE SAQIB ALI SEEKS RETURN TO ANNAPOLIS - Numerous politicos forwarded us news that former District 39 Delegate Saqib Ali is planning a campaign for the General Assembly in 2014. Ali posted the news to Twitter yesterday, including a link to a new campaign website:

Interestingly, Saqib Ali's website does not mention what district he is running in or even whether he is running for House or Senate. It should be noted that though Ali previously served in District 39 before running for State Senate against Nancy King. But he has now been redistricted into District 15, where there is currently a Senate vacancy (and potentially a future House vacancy). Based on the welcome text on Ali's new campaign site, we have some hints as to how he is beginning to frame his candidacy:

SAQIB ALI: I'm Saqib Ali and I'm running for the Maryland State Legislature from Upper Montgomery County in the Democratic Primary Elections in June 2014.

I served for four years (2006-2010) as a State Delegate representing Montgomery County. During that time, I was an outspoken supporter for civil rights, government transparency and consumer protections. I believe that government should improve public health, safety, education etc -- while at the same time respecting our privacy and civil liberties. I'm looking forward to returning to Annapolis to continue persuing such reforms.

Since leaving the legislature, I have remained active in local politics and have become deeply engaged in advocating for civil rights and human rights in America and around the world. My writings have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post and multiple other places.

JUICE #2: DISTRICT 17 STATE SENATOR JENNIE FOREHAND TO SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2014 - The 2014 race for State Senate in District 17 has been percolating for a few months now, as we recently witnessed some early moves for the seat by Delegate Luiz Simmons and former Delegate Cheryl Kagan. But a big question-mark has been whether the incumbent Senator Jennie Forehand would be retiring or running for re-election. The Washington Post's John Wagner recently reported that Forehand has settled on the latter (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Maryland Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Montgomery), one of the General Assembly’s longest-serving members, survived a tough primary challenge in her last election. She could be in for another one next year. Forehand, 77, said in an interview this week that she is planning to run again and attributed recent speculation about her possible retirement to “people who want my seat.”

At least two other Democrats are considering the District 17 race: Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Mongtomery) and former delegate Cheryl Kagan, who narrowly lost to Forehand in 2010. Forehand said Simmons has been “going absolutely apoplectic about wanting to be in the Senate”....

FOREHAND'S IMPACT ON THE 2014 FIELD: If Forehand does indeed seek re-election, it is unclear what impact this will have on the number of contenders in the race, or the number of open D17 House seats in 2014. Indeed, in the last week, insiders have been buzzing that at least three serious candidates would be looking at the race. We mentioned Kagan and Simmons above, but Delegate Jim Gilchrist has been rumored to be considering a 2014 Senate run, too. All three potential Senate candidates will now need to start thinking through the math of what a race with Forehand in it looks like. How this battle shapes up will also dictate what happens in the D17 House race, because if Simmons and/or Gilchrist seek a promotion, there will be one or two vacancies in the House of Delegates. Maryland Juice is already aware of a small number of potential D17 candidates for Delegate in 2014, but that's a story for another day.

In any case, based on her Facebook page, it is probably fair to say Cheryl Kagan is looking at the Senate race:

JUICE #3: LIFE AFTER THE LABOR PICKET OF MOCO DEMOCRATS? // MOCO YOUNG DEMS, MCDCC & LABOR ACTIVISTS TO MEET NEXT WEEK - Maryland Juice was very intrigued to see an event invitation from the Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD). At a meeting next Tuesday, the Young Democrats will be hosting a conversation on labor and the economy, and I suspect that the event is a direct outcome of the group's recent picketing of the Montgomery County Democratic Party's spring fundraising ball.

BURYING THE HATCHET? - The Young Dems have invited Montgomery County Democratic Party Chair Gabe Albornoz to participate in a conversation with Delegate Bonnie Cullison and Democratic activist Cory McCray. Notably, Cullison previously led the MoCo teachers union, and McCray works with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).  If that's not enough to pique your interest, the moderator of the event is Maricé Morales -- an aide to Senator Roger Manno who also happens to be trying to replace Delegate Sam Arora in the State House. The panel discussion will take place Tuesday, July 23rd from 7-8:30 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center (One Veterans Plaza). Check out the MoCo Young Democrats event invitation below or online at Facebook.
Dear Juice,

Please join MCYD for the 2nd installment of our Better American Dream series focused on Labor and the Economy.The discussion will be moderated by MCYD member Maricé Morales, and feature State Delegate Bonnie Cullison, MCDCC Chair Gabe Albornoz, and BEST Democratic Club founder Cory McCray

Attend MCYD's Labor & the Economy Panel Discussion
Bonnie Cullison
State Delegate
Gabe Albornoz
Cory McCray
BEST Democratic Club Founder
Maricé Morales
Panel Moderator & MCYD Member

We will be discussing private and public sector labor unions, and their role in our county's economy and our party. We will also discuss current proposals, local economic justice issues, and what Young Democrats can do to fight for income equality and greater opportunity.

See you there on Tuesday, July 23rd at 7:00pm in the Silver Spring Civic Center. Click here to RSVP!

Dave Kunes, President
Montgomery County Young Democrats

JUICE #4: HEATHER MIZEUR WEIGHS IN ON SUPREME COURT VOTING RIGHTS ACT RULING - Maryland Juice recently caught a Baltimore Sun oped from Delegate Heather Mizeur, a likely candidate for Governor in 2014. In the piece below, Mizeur calls on those who fought for marriage equality and DOMA to direct their efforts to counter the recent Supreme Court gutting of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Much as we saw with Mizeur's Trayvon Martin commentary, I expect we will be seeing more issue-based messaging from her campaign. My hunch is that it seems likely she will be aggressively campaigning for votes from the Democratic activist base ahead of next year's primary. Getting out front on issues is one way to do that at this stage in the race. Here's a clip from her Baltimore Sun piece (excerpt below):
HEATHER MIZEUR: There was much to celebrate when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last month....

While we celebrate, we must not forget that just one day earlier the court also struck a major blow to equality, tearing down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, which ensures that minority communities have a voice in America's legislative bodies.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits state and local governments from enacting voting restrictions or procedures that discriminate based on race. To enforce these protections, the act requires jurisdictions with a history of race-based voting discrimination to clear any changes in voting laws with the Department of Justice. But the Supreme Court struck down the formula that determines who needs clearance, meaning these jurisdictions are free to enact discriminatory laws. Any federal oversight will come after the fact when the damage has already been done. Since the ruling, seven states have announced plans to enact stricter voting rules....

All of us who celebrated this great victory on DOMA must now join together to work and to organize until all forms of injustice are eradicated from our society.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Most MD Attorney General & Governor Candidates Quiet on Trayvon Martin // PLUS: Florida’s “Stand Your Ground" Law

UPDATE: Maryland Juice just caught remarks from Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown at an address before this morning's NAACP Annual Convention in Orlando. The gentleman who introduced Brown noted that Maryland's Lt. Gov. would be the first black governor elected south of the Mason Dixon line since Virginia Governor Doug Wilder last served, and he also highlighted the state's recent work at expanding voting rights and abolishing the death penalty. Notably, Brown highlighted the importance of reducing prison disparities and made the following remarks about the Trayvon Martin case (excerpt below):
LT. GOV. ANTHONY BROWN: Our country mourns the loss of a 17 year-old son, and we struggle as caring Americans to process the recent jury decision. I have two sons and, like all parents, I want to do all I can to protect them from injustice, ignorance and pain. But this tragic death makes it clearer than ever before that our children are subject to the world we prepare for them. Each of us, families, neighbors, even strangers, have an obligation to contribute to a better, safer world for all of our children, not just those we raise. As a nation, we can do more, and we must. We must do more than simply protect them. We must fight to build communities that nurture them, that look first for their potential, not their threat. While our thoughts and prayers go out to the Martin family, they should be accompanied by a renewed commitment to protect all children, nurture tolerance and fight for justice.

Below Maryland Juice publishes an article from our new writer Dan Furmansky about the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. Dan highlights the limited response from Maryland elected officials, including those seeking the office of Governor and Attorney General. Interestingly, the round-up below highlights response to the Trayvon verdict from Delegate Heather Mizeur, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and even former GOP Lt. Gov. Michael Steele... but few other candidates for statewide office in Maryland have weighed in. See Dan Furmansky's piece below:

DAN FURMANSKY: The verdict came down, and perhaps, like me, you couldn’t turn off the television. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, face plastered with a creepy smile, offered a rambling pseudo acceptance speech at her post-verdict press conference, arguing, “This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on CNN that he thinks "our justice system is colorblind." Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said much of the same: "The American way is colorblind." At least Quinn also disparaged the "Stand Your Ground" law at the center of the Martin case, saying "we don't have it in Illinois, and we don't want it." On ABC's This Week, Sen. Orrin Hatch said that "at least from all that I watched, it seemed to me that it was an accurate verdict" and that it appeared to him that justice was served.

Really?  Is this what justice looks like?

Can anyone—even those who believe the jury rightly decided the decision based upon the law and the evidence presented—honestly say that justice has been served when George Zimmerman walks, taking his gun with him? Can anyone say justice was served while they look Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin square in the eyes?

Trayvon Martin is yet another sad chapter in a much larger story about the role of racial assumptions and racial profiling in our justice system, our society’s love affair with guns, and the lopsided dispensation of justice based on the race of victims.

To the latter point, the Tampa Bay Times just released extensive analysis on application of Florida's "stand your ground" law, citing an array of examples that reek of vigilantism, not self-defense.  It's no shock there are racial disparities with the success of the law's application depending on the victim's race. Or that concealed weapons permits in Florida now stand at 1.1 million, three times as many as in 2005 when the law was passed. The Tampa Bay Times explains (excerpt below):
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Florida's "stand your ground'' law has allowed drug dealers to avoid murder charges and gang members to walk free. It has stymied prosecutors and confused judges. It has also served its intended purpose, exonerating dozens of people who were deemed to be legitimately acting in self-defense. Among them: a woman who was choked and beaten by an irate tenant and a man who was threatened in his driveway by a felon.
Seven years since it was passed, Florida's "stand your ground" law is being invoked with unexpected frequency, in ways no one imagined, to free killers and violent attackers whose self-defense claims seem questionable at best.

Cases with similar facts show surprising — sometimes shocking — differences in outcomes. If you claim "stand your ground" as the reason you shot someone, what happens to you can depend less on the merits of the case than on who you are, whom you kill and where your case is decided.

Among the findings:

Those who invoke "stand your ground" to avoid prosecution have been extremely successful. Nearly 70 percent have gone free.

Defendants claiming "stand your ground" are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

The number of cases is increasing, largely because defense attorneys are using "stand your ground" in ways state legislators never envisioned. The defense has been invoked in dozens of cases with minor or no injuries. It has also been used by a self-described "vampire" in Pinellas County, a Miami man arrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myers homeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier....

CONSERVATIVE ORIGINS OF FLORIDA'S "STAND YOUR GROUND" LAW - “Stand Your Ground” laws are model legislation endorsed and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has promoted undemocratic and unjust voter ID laws that disenfranchise young people, people of color, and the elderly from voting. Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB1070, was based on a model bill that was created by ALEC. ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, describes the process through which ALEC’s “model” legislation takes shape:

Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.  Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations… Participating legislators… then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law.

On the ALEC Exposed web site, several Maryland politicians are listed as having a relationship with ALEC, including Governor-wannabe and Republican Delegate Ron George.

Thankfully, while a large number of states have Stand Your Ground laws, in Maryland, the Court of Appeals has ruled that (excluding one’s home or business) an accused claiming the right of self-defense must not have been the aggressor or provoked the conflict. The force used must have not been unreasonable and excessive. 

WHERE ARE MARYLAND'S STATEWIDE CANDIDATES ON THE TRAYVON MARTIN VERDICT? - Given how important this ruling is, I wondered what candidates for office here in Maryland had to say about the issue. On Facebook, Anthony Brown posted this photo from the NAACP Convention, but notably did not offer any words about the verdict:

This is somewhat surprising, since I received an email in my inbox from Roslyn Brock Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, comparing Trayvon to Emmett Till, urging people to call on the Justice Department to file charges against Zimmerman, and noting that her “Responding to these injustices was a focus of my address to the 104th annual convention of the NAACP tonight.”

While I may have missed a press release or a social media post from one of the candidates for Governor or Attorney General on the issue, and while I respect that even campaign staff have a right to take the weekend off, I found it notable that there was radio silence on the matter.

The only comments on the case I could find from any of the candidates were from Heather Mizeur, who urged her followers to help the NAACP collect signatures to urge the Department of Justice to open up a civil rights case against Zimmerman:

Other Maryland politicians did weigh in as well. See the Tweets from Rep. Elijah Cummings and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele below (via Yahoo news):

In Baltimore, several hundred people rallied at the inner harbor to protest the verdict, echoing calls from the NAACP, Color of Change, and MoveOn for people to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to take action against Zimmerman. The Baltimore Sun covered the rally, but did not mention any politicians in attendance (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: The Baltimore-based NAACP and the pastor of a city mega-church were among those calling Sunday for a federal civil rights case against George Zimmerman after the Florida man was acquitted in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
Meanwhile, a crowd numbering between 300 and 400 rallied at Baltimore's Inner Harbor to register frustration and dismay with the late Saturday verdict in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.... 
And in thundering, emotional services Sunday morning, the Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore told congregants that he and perhaps 100 other pastors will travel to Washington Tuesday in hopes of speaking to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr....
But even as he vowed to go to the Justice Department about the case, he encouraged people to bring "that same anger" to the ongoing spate of killings in Baltimore and funnel it into efforts to make the city safer. His church is planning a gun buyback event in August.
"Pray that we will begin to have a restoration of the value of human life," Bryant said....

It’s clear this verdict has captured the attention of the country. Progressives are confused, sad, angry, and outraged. I think we’ll all be curious to see what our candidates for Attorney General and Governor have to say about the matter.

Raising heart and voice,


P.S. You can sign the NAACP petition to the Department of Justice here:

2013 ENVIRONMENTAL RANKINGS: League of Conservation Voters Rates MD Senators & Delegates // PLUS: Fracking Update

UPDATE: Maryland Juice recently noticed a fascinating map on the LCV website showing the geographic distribution of environmentalist legislators in the Free State (Hat tip: Maryland Reporter). The green dots on the image below show lawmakers with 100% environmental ratings, while the red dots represent officials with a 0% rating:

Maryland environmental advocacy organization the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) just released its 2013 ratings for State Senators & Delegates. They rated Annapolis officials on a few highlighted environmental bills (a perfect score = 100%). Below you can see how LCV rated your state legislators on environmental issues, and we also highlight how Montgomery lawmakers and statewide candidates fared. The press release that accompanies the scorecard notes:
MARYLAND LCV: “This year’s environmental scorecard lets Marylanders know which legislators took action to protect future generations from the ravages of climate change, the health impacts of pesticides, and pollution from industrial agriculture,” said Maryland LCV Board Chair, Tony Caligiuri. “Maryland LCV’s scorecard lets citizens know which Senators and Delegates vote for what is politically convenient and who are the real environmental champions.”

“Marylanders should thank our visionary legislators who voted for Offshore Wind Energy Bill and the Transportation Funding bill to move our state’s economy into the future,” said Maryland LCV’s Executive Director Karla Raettig. “Similarly, if they are concerned about the historic impacts of extreme weather, they should hold legislators accountable who didn’t vote to take several other opportunities to curb climate change. Why should just one bold clean energy bill pass in a session? We shouldn’t have an environmental quota.”

Note that the average rating for Democrats in 2013 was 70%, while the average for Republicans was 13%. Senate President Mike Miller was rated 60% and House Speaker Mike Busch was rated 75%. The highest rated Republicans were Senator Allan Kittleman of District 9 with 33% and Delegate Cathy Vitale of District 33B with 60%. After our summary lists, we also post an update on fracking, as well as the full LCV ratings for all State Senators and Delegates.

Here is how a few elected officials seeking higher office in 2014 fared:
  • Senator Allan Kittleman - Republican for Howard County Executive: 33%
  • Senator Brian Frosh - Democrat for Attorney General: 100%
  • Delegate Aisha Braveboy - Democrat for Attorney General: 57%
  • Delegate Jon Cardin - Democrat for Attorney General: 100%
  • Delegate Bill Frick - Democrat for Attorney General: 100%
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur - Democrat for Governor: 100%
  • Delegate John Olszewski - Democrat for D6 State Senate: 71%
  • Delegate Guy Guzzone - Democrat for D13 State Senate: 75%
  • Delegate Brian Feldman - Democrat for D15 State Senate: 86%
  • Delegate Susan Lee - Democrat for D16 State Senate: 100%
  • Delegate Jim Gilchrist - Democrat for D17 State Senate: 86%
  • Delegate Luiz Simmons - Democrat for D17 State Senate: 100%

* Note: Some of these candidates have not yet announced for these offices, but we have listed them as candidates for offices they are rumored to be considering.

Montgomery County's State Senators (from highest to lowest):
  • Senator Karen Montgomery (D14): 100%
  • Senator Brian Frosh (D16): 100%
  • Senator Rich Madaleno (D18): 100%
  • Senator Roger Manno (D19): 100%
  • Senator Jamie Raskin (D20): 100%
  • Senator Nancy King (D39): 100%
----------------------------- Senators Under 100% ----------------------------------------
  • Senator Jennie Forehand (D17): 80%
  • Senator Rob Garagiola (D15): 67%

Montgomery County's Delegates (from highest to lowest):
  • Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D15): 100%
  • Delegate Aruna Miller (D15): 100%
  • Delegate Bill Frick (D16): 100%
  • Delegate Ariana Kelly (D16): 100%
  • Delegate Susan Lee (D16): 100%
  • Delegate Luiz Simmons (D17): 100%
  • Delegate Al Carr (D18): 100%
  • Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez (D18): 100%
  • Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D18): 100%
  • Delegate Sam Arora (D19): 100%
  • Delegate Bonnie Cullison (D19): 100%
  • Delegate Ben Kramer (D19): 100%
  • Delegate Tom Hucker (D20): 100%
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur (D20): 100%
  • Delegate Kirill Reznik (D39): 100%
  • Delegate Shane Robinson (D39): 100% 
----------------------------- Delegates Under 100% ----------------------------------------
  • Delegate Charles Barkley (D39): 86%
  • Delegate Jim Gilchrist (D17): 86%
  • Delegate Brian Feldman (D15): 86%
  • Delegate Kumar Barve (D17): 80%
  • Delegate Sheila Hixson (D20): 80%
  • Delegate Anne Kaiser (D14): 80%
  • Delegate Eric Luedtke (D14): 80%
  • Delegate Craig Zucker (D14): 75%

FRACKING UPDATE: NEW HBO DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS REP. ANDY HARRIS - Since we are on the topic of environmental issues in Maryland, we thought this would be a good time to provide a quick update on the issue of hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking"). There has been much attention drawn to potential groundwater contamination, flammable water supplies, earthquakes and more -- that many attribute to fracking. As a result, plans to allow fracking in Maryland have proved controversial, and GOP Congressman Andy Harris was recently highlighted for his support of the practice in a new HBO documentary Gasland 2 (trailer below):

GUEST COMMENTARY ON FRACKING FROM PAUL ROBERTS - Maryland Juice also received some guest commentary about fracking in Maryland from Paul Roberts, a member of Governor O'Malley's commission on fracking and a co-owner of a Garrett County winery. Roberts is urging the Free State to adopt a cap on drilling activity. Check out Paul Roberts' commentary on fracking below:
PAUL ROBERTS: The state is at a critical juncture in its three-year consideration of whether shale gas drilling should be permitted in Garrett and Allegany counties in western Maryland. Gov. Martin O'Malley established a state commission with an August 2014 deadline for a final report, and populated it with notables such as Del. Heather Mizeur, who has worked tirelessly with non-governmental associations and allies in western Maryland on the issue. I am among them, serving as well on the Governor's commission, as the "Citizen Representative."

"Fracking" has been linked to water contamination in western states, and more recently in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The work of New York film-maker Josh Fox focused national attention, and his Gasland 2 premiered July 8. Gasland 2: A film by Josh Fox - NOW on HBO And here is an article and a short film by a Baltimore woman in which a gas company executive admits on tape to destroying one family's water supply.

Many predict fracking will be among the top domestic issues during the 2016 presidential race, and the states which have not rushed into allowing production — Maryland and New York — are run by governors likely to end up as primary opponents. Activist organizations in New York have developed a more aggressive "ban" approach, while in Maryland, largely behind the leadership of two Takoma Park residents — Mizeur and Mike Tidwell of Chesapeake Climate Action Network — activists have tried to steer the debate, for the moment, toward erecting strong protections, should fracking be permitted.

Earlier this month, the state released its proposed "Best Management Practices," from which a long-awaited modernization of regulations will occur. Public comments on the draft report can be submitted by email to

A capacity crowd turned out on July 8 in Garrett County to offer comments and criticisms. And, at the urging of activists, a second hearing will be held in the Baltimore area: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 2 pm at the Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230. (Persons attending should park in the Blue Lot.)

The state's draft fracking report is a weighty, technical document. Among the principal concerns raised so far are that drilling would be allowed within 1,000 feet of a private water well, while the proposed setback from a municipal supply is 2,000 feet. Regulators explain that's because so many more people depend on a single municipal supply, but this logic was met with cat-calls in Garrett County, since most rural residents there use private water wells. They called for an equal buffer. Drilling would also be allowed within 300 feet of many of the region's pristine mountain streams; this provision shocks wilderness and white-water enthusiasts.

As a member of the Governor's Commission, I am urging the state to adopt a cap on drilling activity county-wide, though it appears that changes in county zoning laws would also be needed. Citing evidence produced by experts who prepared the study on which the draft BMP report is based, I have asked the state to explore a 2-percent maximum on disturbed acreage. "Without limits," I told my fellow Commissioners in June, "the careful planning the state wisely decided to require only ensures a methodical pace to the industrialization process of our mostly forested, rural area."