Thursday, August 29, 2013

MD U.S. House Members Respond to Survey on Deportations // Only 1 Congressman Speaking Out To End It Now - Guess Who!

Below Maryland Juice writer Dan Furmansky presents the results of a fascinating poll he conducted of our state's Democratic members of the U.S. House: Elijah Cummings, John Delaney, Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Chris Van Hollen. Furmansky previously called on Maryland's U.S. House Democrats to help end the Obama administration's record-setting number of immigrant deportations. Today, he presents a follow-up article with commentary from a range of Maryland's Democratic Congressman, but only one agreed to sign a letter to President Obama calling for a suspension of further deportations of those who would be eligible for deferred action under proposed immigration reform legislation. Guess who the one Maryland Democrat is to speak out clearly on this issue? The answer is within Dan Furmansky's article below. In the meantime, I'll remind you of some of the key facts Furmansky raised in his previous article on mass deportations:
  • The United States is now deporting people at a faster rate than at any time in our modern history — an estimated 1,100 people per day. 
  • According to data obtained by the news website Colorlines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deported nearly 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children from July 1, 2010 to Sept. 31, 2012.
  • A report from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute released earlier this year found that the United States spent more money on immigration enforcement — nearly $18 billion in the 2012 fiscal year — than on all of its other law enforcement agencies combined.  
  • More than 410,000 undocumented workers were deported last year, an all-time high.
  • The government spends about 15 times more on immigration enforcement than it did in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation, the report found. 

DAN FURMANSKY: A few weeks ago, I urged Maryland’s congressional delegation to call for a change in the terms of the immigration reform debate by asking the President — also known as the “Deporter in Chief” in some circles — to use his power to halt all deportations. There are a host of reasons why this is a good idea, and this is the right time to put such an idea into action. In case you missed it, here is more of the logic and background on the President’s zeal for deportations:

BACKGROUND: Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva and Rep. Yvette Clarke are circulating to their Congressional colleagues a sign-on letter to President Obama, urging him to suspend any further deportations and expand the successful deferred action program to all those who would be potential citizens under immigration reform.

I reached out to our state’s congressional offices about the letter and heard back from most of them. Unfortunately, despite repeated outreach, there was radio silence from Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, aka the man who still can’t decide if he is running for Governor, and a couple others. Also, I confess I got a little lazy and didn’t bother to reach out to Rep. Andy Harris’ office but — really — can you blame me?

Only one member of our Congressional delegation stated that at this point they would sign the letter to President Obama and urge a halt to all deportations now. And who, you ask, possesses the most willingness to publicly stand up against the repressive policies that are tearing apart immigrant families? Congressman John Delaney.

My fellow Juicer, aka Mr. Maryland Juice himself, was recently critical of Rep. Delaney for taking a right turn on some issues. So it’s particularly refreshing to see that Rep. Delaney is willing to step out on this important issue. Congressmen Delaney: Thank You.  Here’s the statement the Congressman’s office released when they notified us of intent to sign the letter calling for a halt to President Obama's mass deportation practices:
JOHN DELANEY: Last year, deportations of undocumented workers reached an all-time high.  I’m proud to join my colleagues in writing President Obama encouraging him to support common-sense use of selective enforcement of deportation to prioritize those who commit crimes and pose a public safety risk.  At the same time, I encourage the House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Senate and come together in a bipartisan manner to implement comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented workers.
Unfortunately, for the time being, at least, our other Democratic members of Congress from Maryland are banking on movement from Republican House leadership, which I fear may be like Waiting for Godot.  Here are some statements from other Maryland Democrats (Note: We did not receive official statements from Rep. Elijah Cummings and Donna Edwards by press time):
Office of Congressman Hoyer: Mr. Hoyer strongly supports President Obama's decision to defer deportation action against DREAMers and remains hopeful that Congress will address our broken immigration system by taking a comprehensive approach that will secure our borders while establishing a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, their families, and all law-abiding, undocumented individuals. He believes the House should take up comprehensive legislation, such as the bipartisan Senate bill, as soon as possible and is confident the Obama administration will fairly enforce existing law until Congress takes comprehensive action to fix our broken system.
Office of Congressman Sarbanes: Congressman Sarbanes looks forward to connecting with his colleagues on efforts to ensure that the United States implements a rational and humane deportation policy, particularly as we anticipate passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Congressman Sarbanes believes such reform must include a pathway to citizenship that keeps families together and in other key respects is fair and respectful of our nation's values and traditions.

Office of Congressman Van Hollen: The President’s deferred action for DREAMers has been a resounding success and Congressman Van Hollen remains committed to passing immigration reform to provide a pathway to citizenship for those DREAMers, their families, and other undocumented individuals.  His focus is on convincing House Republicans to stop obstructing the will of the people and permanently fix our broken immigration system. The Congressman is confident the Obama Administration will enforce the existing law in a fair and appropriate way.”
Unfortunately, the President is not enforcing existing law in a fair and appropriate way. Every day, families are being ripped apart. Children are being kept from their parents who are kept in detention, sometimes to the benefit of the private prison industry. And there are estimates that 30,000 people were deported in August alone. Here is just one example of a case that highlights the injustice:

MARYLAND CASE STUDY // A FATHER FACING DEPORTATION FOR A YOUTHFUL PRANK MANY YEARS AGO? - A Maryland of father of two — Manny Shoemaker — is being kept from his wife and two children (who are U.S. citizens) in a Worcester County Detention Center. Manny is the primary breadwinner for the family and covers them on his health insurance. This man has been in this country since he was 4-years-old, and has been a legal permanent resident since then. But Manny apparently committed a “crime of moral turpitude” as a youngster. He tried to steal a golf cart from a local golf course with a group of friends. His U.S. citizen friends got off with probation, while he served 6 months in jail. Now, years and years later, he is languishing in detention, which makes zero sense. You can learn more about Manny Shoemaker's case and join me in signing a petition on his behalf here.

Signing these petitions, incidentally, is crucially important when it comes to immigration cases like this. In fact, in many cases, community attention is the only thing that successfully defers deportation in these situations and keeps a parent with his or her children. Sadly, this case is hardly unique. It’s but one, sad example among millions.

In addition to the glaringly cruel deportation policy that taints this country every day — a policy that the President has the power to change — it is entirely unclear that movement is possible in the House on the bill passed by the Senate. According to the AP, voices opposed to immigration have been muted during this August recess, with some Republican Party activists claiming the focal point of energies have been trained on opposing the Affordable Care Act, not immigration reform. Pro-reform advocates claim they have turned some Republican members during this congressional recess. According to the AP, whether this adds up to the House taking up the Senate-passed bill is iffy at best (excerpt below):
ASSOCIATED PRESS: GOP House leaders have rejected that approach, vowing instead to proceed with bills addressing individual immigration issues, beginning with border security. And although by advocates' count more than 20 House Republicans have now declared their support for some kind of citizenship path, the majority of House Republicans remain opposed, creating a potentially unbridgeable divide between the House and the Senate. Congress also faces looming deadlines on the debt ceiling and spending bills to keep the government running. It all adds up to a tough environment for getting an immigration bill to Obama's desk. 
Nonetheless, pro-immigrant advocates are claiming success in their August recess efforts to pressure House Republicans to act on immigration in the fall. An unusual and deep-pocketed alliance of Catholics and evangelicals, labor unions, business groups and others have been targeting dozens of GOP members viewed as open to hearing them out, and say they'll have momentum on their side when Congress reconvenes. 
"The big story I think of the August recess is that we haven't seen what some had predicted, this major anti-immigrant movement where members of Congress would be heckled into inaction," Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, said on a media call this week to announce a $400,000, 14-state radio ad campaign in support of immigration reform. "We've seen very much that that has been a muted voice, but actually the pro-immigrant voice has been rather prominent at many of the town halls that we have observed."
Unfortunately, other signs aren’t sign promising. House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told a radio host that he opposes a path to citizenship even for young documented people brought to the United States as children. And The Hill reports that even Rep. Luis Guitierrez is feeling despondent (excerpt below):
THE HILL: The veteran Democrat is known as one of the Capitol’s eternal optimists, but as he chats with reporters before a rally in a Republican district, he is struggling to chart a path to final passage for comprehensive immigration reform, the issue he has championed for two decades in the House. “I was hopeful we would be in a better place today,” [Rep. Luis] Gutierrez (D-Ill.) conceded.

I’m not saying we should give up on passing comprehensive immigration reform. Hardly. I am saying that while the Senate bill languishes (a Senate bill that already possesses laboriously long waiting periods for immigrants to obtain citizenship) and the Republicans continue to drag their feet on crafting their own likely-Draconian proposal, the President can take the same bold action he took one year ago via executive order and at the same time dramatically propel the conversation forward....
Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, often says it best:
PABLO ALVARADO: Anyone who thinks the President should suspend deportations as a "Plan B" is missing the point.  The President should make a suspension of deportations and an expansion of deferred action part of a "Plan A" precisely to help move a bill forward in Congress.  His decision to grant deferred action to childhood arrivals (DACA) showed that we can make incremental progress and galvanize momentum for an omnibus bill at the same time.  But it also begged the question:  Why isn't the President doing more?
In a quote being spread widely, GOP Senator Marco Rubio said that Obama could issue “an executive order as he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” and doing so doesn’t require the intolerable compromises we’ve seen in Congress.  Rubio goes on to say, “We won’t get any E-Verify. We won’t get any border security. But he’ll legalize them.”

The precise action being discussed here makes Republicans very nervous. Let’s use that, shall we? And at the same time, we can put into practice the compassion we tout as Democrats committed to making life better for all families.

- Dan  Furmansky

P.S. You can read the full letter from Representatives Grijalva and Clarke to President Obama below:

VIDEO: Maryland Juice Blogger David Moon Asks Doug Gansler About Drug War // PLUS: Obama Changes Tune on Marijuana

UPDATE: Maryland Juice must have a good read on where progressive policy is headed, because The Washington Post reported today that the Obama administration will not fight states that have legalized marijuana distribution (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: The Obama administration on Thursday said it will not stand in the way of Colorado, Washington and other states where voters have supported legalizing marijuana either for medical or recreational use, as long as those states maintain strict rules involving distribution of the drug.

In a memo sent Thursday to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole detailed the administration’s new stance.... The memo directs federal prosecutors to focus their resources on eight specific areas of enforcement, rather than targeting individual marijuana users, which even President Obama has acknowledged is not the best use of federal manpower. Those areas include preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the sale of pot to cartels and gangs, preventing sales to other states where the drug remains illegal under state law, and stopping the growing of marijuana on public lands....
BACKGROUND: About two weeks ago, Maryland Juice attended a Montgomery County forum with Attorney General Doug Gansler on transportation issues. This was only one day after Gansler had been roundly criticized in the media for implying that Lt. Governor Anthony Brown's campaign was focused on the color of the candidate's skin. But rather than pile-on the follow-up coverage of the remarks, I decided to pursue a more substantive line of questioning for Doug Gansler on race issues in Maryland.

At the August 13th forum with Gansler, I had the perfect opportunity to jump into the conversation, when an audience member started asking Gansler about U.S. DOJ Chief Eric Holder's recent decision to focus on addressing the issue of mass incarceration. Indeed, Holder recently announced a new effort to reform mandatory minimum sentencing rules and use of prosecutorial discretion. Gansler's response to the audience member focused on his newly announced effort to facilitate the re-entry of prisoners into the civilian population, so I decided to ask a follow-up question.

THE PERILS OF SMOKING WHILE BLACK IN MARYLAND - It seemed to me that Gansler's focus on re-entry issues was only 1/4 of a response to the problem of mass incarceration, as re-entry deals with people leaving prison, without addressing whether these non-violent offenders should be incarcerated in the first place.  I've been noting for months that it is impossible to tackle America's lust for imprisoning the poor and people of color without addressing our decades-long failed "War on Drugs" policy advanced through Presidents ranging from Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and now Obama. Though Democratic policymakers around the nation have begun aggressively attacking this problem at its roots, Maryland Democrats have ordinarily dragged their feet on such issues.  The result is a cost of nearly $200 million a year to prosecute marijuana crimes in Maryland, and the U.S. now has the world's largest prison population -- despite having a much smaller population than say, China. Even worse, the ACLU recently reported that black residents of Maryland are over 3 times more likely than white residents to be busted for pot crimes -- despite equal rates of use between the races.

Below you can watch an exclusive video of Doug Gansler's response to a problem that the ACLU has dubbed "Smoking While Black." In the comments below, Gansler states: "It's a real issue and the whole marijuana issue has been dealt with I think appropriately, differently in many states. Where we go with that here, I think we're actually taking a very good approach to it in my own personal view. But the racial component is something that should always be of concern... We have to have a full understanding that it's disproportionately affecting minority communities."

Let's see if Attorney General Doug Gansler (and other gubernatorial candidates) will walk the talk when the issue emerges again in the next legislative session.

JuiceBlender: Stand Your Ground in Maryland, Transparency Critique, Non-English Speakers & Tribute to Gwendolyn Britt

Below Maryland Juice writer Dan Furmansky provides a mish-mosh of items on various tidbits of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: WASHINGTON POST HIGHLIGHTS MARYLAND COUNTIES WITH HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS - While the state is considering making political participation more open and accessible to Marylanders, I wonder if it might consider how to do so for non-English speakers, or those for whom English is not their primary language.

The Washington Post has an interesting map of U.S. counties and what percent of residents speak a language other than English at home. In Maryland, the counties with more than 10% of residents speaking qualifying are below. Montgomery County has nearly twice as many people in this category as the next jurisdiction, Howard County. And each of these counties cites Spanish as the most common language:
  • Anne Arundel County:    10.1% of 4498,228 residents
  • Frederick County:         11.9% of 216,672 residents
  • Baltimore County:        12.6% of 754,586 resident
  • Prince George’s County:    19.8% of 799, 245 residents
  • Howard County:         21.9% of 266,255 residents
  • Montgomery County:     38.1% of 895,929 residents

JUICE #2: DAN FURMANSKY CALLS OUT TRANSPARENCY PROBLEMS IN MARYLAND POLITICS - If there’s one thing Maryland isn’t known for, it’s openness in its political process. As just one example, when I was a registered lobbyist, I can’t tell you how many times I was told I couldn’t sit in on a voting session because “it was frowned upon,” and there would be repercussions if I bucked this unspoken protocol. There were also countless times when bills would be held up in committee day after day in an attempt to kill them by the ticking clock, but finding out who voted to hold the bill up was like solving the mystery of crop circles. It’s refreshing to see some positive changes — to some degree — over the past few years with the increasing use of social media. And it looks like more change is on the way.

There was an interesting editorial in The Baltimore Sun last week regarding OpenGov’s involvement in making Maryland government more transparent and participatory using technology. California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, started the OpenGov Foundation—but let’s not hold that against this very noble project. Here’s a snippet from The Sun (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: OpenGov released the results of a survey last week showing that large majorities of Maryland voters are dissatisfied with the level of information they now get about state government and would like better advance notice about proposed laws and taxes that affect them.

OpenGov suggests an easy solution: Politicians should adopt social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, which are free and already in use by most of their constituents, and those who do should stop using them to post endless photos of ribbon cuttings and start telling people what they're actually doing. If voters know when their senator or delegate is working on an amendment to a bill they're interested in, they have a chance to give meaningful and constructive feedback.

A more ambitious solution is software that OpenGov has tested in Congress that makes it easier for people to see bills as they are introduced and marked up and provides tools for them to make comments or suggestions on how the proposed laws should be changed. The foundation is developing a Maryland version of the software, called Madison, that it hopes to have in place when the General Assembly returns in the fall....
We here at Maryland Juice are curious to hear from all of you as to which Maryland politicians you feel make the best use of social media as envisioned by OpenGov. In other words, which elected official manages to bring citizens further into the legislative process and demystify politics? Email your thoughts: To learn more about OpenGov, check out this report from WJZ-TV:

JUICE #3: HELP ME HONOR THE LATE SENATOR GWENDOLYN BRITT // WE'RE TRYING TO RAISE FUNDS FOR A PORTRAIT  - When I was executive director of Equality Maryland, we were fighting an uphill battle for marriage equality, and vocal support in Annapolis was few and far between. During those years, a remarkable legislator became my ally, supporter, friend, and inspiration. As many of you readers know, State Senator Gwendolyn Britt, who represented District 47 in Prince George's County, was no ordinary individual. She was a bona fide civil rights hero — a freedom rider who played a pivotal role in ending Maryland’s enforcement of segregation, risked her life in the deep south registering fellow African Americans to vote, and even spent 40 days in a maximum security prison for her activism. Sen. Britt stood by the LGBT community’s side time and again. When I asked her to be the lead sponsor of our marriage bill in the Senate, she did not hesitate. It was clear she was proud to be honored with such a request. She took the responsibility seriously, and became a passionate champion for the freedom to marry. That’s simply who Gwendolyn Britt was—a social justice leader who believed strongly in the cause of civil rights for all people.

Senator Britt passed away in 2008 of a heart attack, at the young age of 66. In the years since, I have become close with her husband, Travis. When Travis contacted me about the idea of having a portrait of his wife placed in the legislative halls of Annapolis, and let me know Senate President Mike Miller was committed to finding a place for such a portrait, I was honored to work with Travis to make the idea a reality.

Together, we are launching the Senator Gwendolyn Britt Portrait Project—a tremendous opportunity to honor her contributions to equality for all people. For those of you who respected and admired Senator Britt as much as I did, I am asking you to please join in this effort. Click here to learn more about the project and to make a contribution:

JUICE #4: DEL. PAT MCDONOUGH PUSHES "STAND YOUR GROUND" LAW IN MARYLAND // BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMEMBER PROPOSES FLORIDA BOYCOTT OVER SAME LAW - Del. Pat McDonough, who no doubt had heartburn after seeing how many households in Maryland don’t speak English at home, is also upset that Maryland doesn’t have a Stand Your Ground law on the books, so he plans to introduce one. The Baltimore Sun recently reported on the development (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: McDonough said Maryland is one of a minority of states with a duty to retreat.
“The duty to retreat is the weakest form of protection for crime victims and their families,” he said. “Maryland citizens are being placed in harm’s way in a state where assault and violent crime are numerous.”
The “stand your ground” concept is widely supported by gun rights advocates but its chance of winning the support of the Democratic-dominated Maryland legislature are all but nonexistent. 
McDonough’s sponsorship is not a good sign for its prospects. The conservative delegate has seen few of his legislative proposals become law since he was elected in 2002....
Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago, Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby introduced a resolution that, if passed, would mark the first attempt at economic sanctions between U.S. cities. Here’s a piece of news that slipped by me but was pointed out by a reader: reports that the proposal is a response to the Florida "stand your ground law" that was the subject of debate during the Trayvon Martin case (excerpt below):
AFRO: During an Aug. 13 city council meeting, 7th District Councilman Nick Mosby proposed a measure that would limit the city’s commercial and financial ties to Florida and encourage all city agencies refrain from doing business with companies in Florida.

"The idea is to ask city agencies to look at any opportunities of diverting business from corporations from the state of Florida," Mosby told the AFRO.

Mosby said he hopes that the Florida stand-your-ground law is amended. He said while the Zimmerman defense did not employ the stand-your-ground law in its self defense strategy, the judge in the case spelled out the law in her instruction to the six-member panel before they deliberated on the second-degree murder case.

"I think the application of the law should be looked at and changed,” he said. “I want to insure that it stays on the forefront of their legislatives minds and hopes that we can maybe get a more perfect policy down there. I never want to see another Trayvon Martin incident again in my lifetime."
The resolution calls for: "Divestment from the State of Florida FOR the purpose of requesting that the City of Baltimore review and minimize it's business dealings connected with the State of Florida, and municipalities in Florida, in protest of that state's 'Stand Your Ground' law."

The resolution made news across the country, but it doesn’t appear likely it will move. Some people have publicly condemned Mosby for “wasting time.” Call me an idealist, but I can’t help it—I appreciate a legislator who is willing to use his soapbox to promote dialogue on key issues. As long as a legislator is effective at promoting and passing innovative public policy and supporting their district and constituents’ needs, then I say more power to him or her for creatively weighing in in such a fashion on an issue that should concern us all.

JUICE #5: MARYLAND WON'T LEVERAGE RUSSIAN RELATIONSHIP TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST ANTI-GAY OPPRESSION - Across the world, people are protesting at Russian embassies, urging a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and dumping Russian vodka out in the streets. Why? The Duma’s recent passage of frightening, anti-gay legislation that bans “propaganda” of “non-traditional relationships.” In other words, speaking out for gay rights, assembling for a rally, or even coming out of the closet too publicly, could now be construed as grounds for incarceration. People have already been arrested under the law, including tourists. This follows years of escalating attacks on LGBT people and their public assembly — attacks that have been violent, and fomented by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In addition to the traditional boycott tactics, LGBT activists across the country are urging U.S. cities to sever “sister city” relationships with Russian counterparts. Lansing, Michigan voted unanimously last week to adopt a resolution urging the city to sever its symbolic relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia.
Bernard Cherkasov, Equality Illinois CEO, said in the press such a move by Chicago would be one of "many small but meaningful steps" that could lead to "a national and then an international consensus will grow and ultimately, we believe, force Russia to change its behavior toward its gay citizens and visitors," the Chicago Phoenix reports.

Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith wrote to St. Pete, FL lawmakers, saying “These laws send dangerous messages that LGBT people are not fit to be full members of society with all of the freedoms afforded to everyone else; that their mere existence is a danger to children.  While Saint Petersburg, Florida joins so many other communities in guaranteeing workplace and family equality, ending hate violence, and celebrating our diverse community, we cannot stand silently by while close partners of our pursue policies of hate and violence.”

According to Metro Weekly, Maryland has a partnership with the Leningrad Oblast region of Russia, the capital of which is St. Petersburg, through Sister Cities International, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to foster relationships and understanding between different communities across the globe. The partnership has been in place since former Maryland Gov. Donald Schaefer (D) and Alexander Belyakov, the governor of the Leningrad Oblast region, signed an agreement in June of 1993. As part of the program, both "sister cities" are expected to maintain diplomatic relations; foster the exchange of business, cultural or educational ideas and values; and co-sponsor events aimed at creating and maintaining strong relationships.

In addition, Maryland has far more leverage than just a ceremonial sister-city relationship. The Gazette reported just last week that Russia is the #2 recipient of Maryland exports, and the fastest-growing market, “with exports from Maryland rising in the first half to $248 million, or about five times as high as they had been in the first half of 2012.” But the Metro Weekly reports that  it doesn’t look like the Governor wants to jump into the fray or, perhaps, harm Maryland’s economic interests (excerpt below):
METRO WEEKLY: In a statement to Metro Weekly, Peter Fosselman, the deputy secretary of state for Maryland, indicated that the state has no plans to sever ties with its sister city in Russia.

"This program, run through the Secretary of State’s Office, is really more about establishing connections from people to people, not from government to government," Fosselman said. "By strengthening relationships with others, we can educate people and share with them our values as they pertain to human rights."

Russia isn’t the only country with a frighteningly repressive atmosphere for LGBT people, but having the world’s negative attention turned on Russia of late is having a positive impact elsewhere. Late last week, the national police in Armenia withdrew a bill it had previously submitted to the Armenian government, banning any public promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships,” reports the LGBT-themed blog Towleroad.

No doubt these resolutions to sever sister-city ties are little more than symbolic, but together, all actions calling attention to repression add up. And it certainly doesn’t take more than a few minutes of time for someone in the Governor’s press office to issue a letter of concern to St. Petersburg and promote it in the press.


- Dan Furmansky

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MCDCC Picks 2 New Members: Tamika Bennett & Jonathan Prutow // PLUS: Herman Taylor Endorses Saqib Ali for D15

Below Maryland Juice provides two interesting tidbits of information regarding the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC). The first news item is an announcement of two new members of the MCDCC, while the second item is a sign that the race for a District 15 Delegate vacancy is already underway.

JUICE #1: MOCO DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE ELECTS TWO NEW MEMBERS - Tonight Maryland Juice attended a meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. You may ask what the occasion was because the MCDCC is not due to vote on a replacement State Senator for Rob Garagiola's District 15 vacancy until September 10. In fact, the MCDCC members called a meeting tonight to vote to fill two vacancies on their own body, but these new members will be among those who will choose candidates to replace the outgoing District 15 elected official(s).

MCDCC Chair Gabe Albornoz Thanks Candidates Seeking the Vacant Seats
Here is a bit of background for the uninitiated: When a state legislative vacancy occurs, the party central committee of the outgoing legislator submits a name(s) to the Governor to select a replacement. As the Maryland State Archives note: "In recent times, an important function of state central committees has been to name those who will replace General Assembly members who have died, resigned, refused to act, or been disqualified, expelled, or removed from office.... Although the Governor makes the appointment to fill a vacancy in the General Assembly, the Governor must select the person nominated by the state central committee of the party with which the vacating legislator had been affiliated...."

The MCDCC had two vacancies to fill -- one in District 17 and one in District 20 -- and tonight the incumbent members selected replacements for both positions. Below we provide brief background information on both new Central Committee members:

MEET NEW D17 MCDCC MEMBER JONATHAN PRUTOW - Jonathan Prutow was previously serving as a non-voting member of the MCDCC, and tonight he ran unopposed for the District 17 vacancy. I first met him when he volunteered for Hans Riemer's County Council campaign in 2010, while also working at the Fair Elections Legal Network. I can honestly say that Jonathan Prutow is a true work-horse for the party, because when I later went on to run GOTV in Montgomery County for the Maryland Democrats, the MCDCC Chair at the time (Karen Britto) was in a jam to find someone to help run the Democrats' early vote program in Montgomery County. Based on what I had seen from his work ethic and desire to get involved, I suggested Jonathan Prutow and connected him with Britto. Apparently it all worked out, since Prutow's colleagues on the MCDCC promoted him to a voting position.  Prutow's (now dated) bio on the MCDCC website notes:
MCDCC: Jonathan Prutow was first appointed to the MCDCC in December  2010. Mr. Prutow is a Gender Balance State Member and lives in District 17.  He currently serves on the Early Voting Committee, Issues Committee, and  Board of Elections Committee. He also was also appointed to the Committee to  Study Compensation of the County Executive, County Council, Sheriff, and  State’s Attorney. Mr. Prutow chaired the Early Voting Committee during the  2012 Primary Election. In addition to his work with the Montgomery County  Democratic Central Committee, Mr. Prutow has been involved with Organizing  for America and Obama for America (OFA) in several capacities since 2009. He  was a Community Organizer and Neighborhood Team Leader with OFA in the Rockville area and also worked as a Regional Voter Protection Director with OFA-Florida from  August 2012 to November 2012. He currently serves as the Statewide Press Lead  with Organizing for Action-Maryland. Mr. Prutow received his JD and Master of  Public Administration degrees from American University’s Washington College  of Law and School of Public Affairs in 2008, and he is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
New District 17 MCDCC Member Jonathan Prutow

MEET NEW D20 MCDCC MEMBER TAMIKA BENNETT - The second MCDCC vacancy was in my home turf of District 20, and unlike the District 17 race, there were four candidates for the D20 slot: Tamika Bennett, Alan Bowser, Justin Chappell and Arthur Jackson. The MCDCC members overwhelmingly chose Tamika Bennett, giving her 19 votes votes to Alan Bowser's 4 votes. In recent weeks, I've gotten to meet and learn more about Tamika Bennett and discovered that her family has a bold political backstory. In South Carolina in the 1950's, Tamika's family was involved in the petition to desegregate public school services, which resulted in the famous Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Needless to say, these political activities lead to threats of violence toward those involved, with one person fleeing to New York while hiding in a casket. As Wikipedia notes: "Although Brown resulted in a legal victory for the NAACP, it was a hollow victory for those associated with [the Briggs family]. Reverend Joseph De Laine, the generally acknowledged leader of Summerton [South Carolina's] African-Americans at the time, had his church burned and he moved to New York City in 1955 after surviving an attempted drive-by shooting. Harry and Eliza Briggs, on behalf of whose children the suit was filed, lost their jobs. Harry spent more than a decade working in Florida to support the family. Eliza eventually joined her children in New York."

In any case, like Jonathan Prutow, Tamika Bennett was previously serving as a non-voting member of the MCDCC and is the secretary of the East County Citizens Advisory Board.

New District 20 MCDCC Member Tamika Bennett

JUICE #2: FORMER DELEGATE HERMAN TAYLOR ENDORSES SAQIB ALI FOR A POTENTIAL DISTRICT 15 DELEGATE VACANCY - One of the first tasks facing the two new MCDCC members will be to join their colleagues in electing a new State Senator for District 15. Incumbent Senator Rob Garagiola's surprise resignation has led to a vacancy that is likely to be filled by Delegate Brian Feldman (now that challenger Bilal Ayyub has dropped out of the race). We predicted on Monday that this meant that Feldman's lack of competition would also likely trigger another MCDCC appointment process for the D15 Delegate seat in October. It appears that the race to succeed Del. Brian Feldman is now officially underway. An anonymous source forwarded Maryland Juice an email sent by former Delegate Herman Taylor to members of the MCDCC endorsing former Delegate Saqib Ali for the D15 Delegate slot:
From: Herman Taylor
Date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Subject: Re: Letter of Support

Dear Esteemed members of the MCDCC,

It was my privilege to serve in the Maryland House of Delegates for 8 years and represent the area in which I grew up (District 14). I want to recognize your service to the Democratic Party and the great responsibility you have to fill the vacant Senate seat in District 15.

If Delegate Brian Feldman is elevated to the State Senate, Saqib Ali would make an excellent choice to replace him.

I was Ali's legislative colleague for four years in the House of Delegates (I always refer to him by his last name). More importantly during that time we shared a single office suite. I was able to observe Ali's daily interactions with his staff, colleagues, constituents and lobbyists. I can tell you without any doubt that he was a hard-working, conscientious and capable legislator. He treated everybody with fairness and respect. He is a person of character and integrity with an intense devotion to serving others. I am proud to call him my friend.

Therefore, I am honored to support Saqib Ali and respectfully ask for your consideration of his candidacy for District 15 Delegate.

Best regards,

Herman L.Taylor, Jr.

Report Back from Equality Maryland's Protest at Fillmore Silver Spring // PLUS: Picket Photos From the "Molotov" Concert

Maryland Juice attended Monday's protest at The Fillmore Silver Spring over the rap-rock band Molotov's use of slurs against members of the LGBT community. The entire operation was completely civil and peaceful, as Equality Maryland and CASA Ruby simply passed out literature to educate concertgoers about the pain that words can cause.  Metro Weekly covered the protest, and Maryland Juice got a shout-out (woot!) in their piece (excerpt below):
METRO WEEKLY: The picketers in front of the concert venue, The Fillmore Silver Spring, included members of Equality Maryland, the D.C.-based service center Casa Ruby and the Latino GLBT History Project. Others at the picket included Dr. Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, and David Moon of the Maryland Juice blog.

The group held signs reading, ''Words Matter/Las Palabras Importan,'' to protest lyrics that the band has used, particularly those in the song ''Puto.'' The lyrics of that song include the phrase matarile al maricon, or ''kill the faggot....'' LGBT activists, on the other hand, say the term maricon is used in a negative context and that the ''Puto'' lyrics were allegedly screamed in June in Chile during an attack on a gay teen, Esteban Navarro, who had to have his leg amputated after being attacked by six people wielding machetes, knives and iron bars....

''We want concertgoers to be aware that words matter,'' Evan Glass, a member of Equality Maryland's board of directors, told Metro Weekly. ''Molotov has some violently homophobic lyrics in its songs, and these words are very hurtful to the LGBT community. They have the right to perform here, but we just want to educate concertgoers about the words that the band uses, and we are urging the band to stop using these words wherever they perform...'
Below you can see a few pictures I snapped at the protest:

Picketers Distribute Educational Literature at The Fillmore Silver Spring's Molotov Concert

MoCo Young Democrat Travis Ballie Talks to a Member of the Press

Equality Maryland Board Member Evan Glass & Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer

Monday, August 26, 2013

DAN FURMANSKY: Del. Don Dwyer Must Be Ousted, But Due to Weak Laws, He May Retain His Seat in the Maryland House

Below, Maryland Juice writer Dan Furmansky provides an update and commentary on the second drunk-driving case involving Maryland's Tea Party lawmaker Don Dwyer.

DAN FURMANSKY: Kudos to The Baltimore Sun — which, incidentally, will not be bought by the Koch Brothers, thanks to all that is good and holy in the world. The paper has been running excellent coverage of very sad situation of Del. Don Dwyer. First was The Sun’s fantastic editorial about Del. Dwyer’s second arrest for driving under the influence. The paper hit all the marks, and did so sensitively. The entire piece is worth reading, but here is a snippet (excerpt below)
BALTIMORE SUN: We join Mr. Dwyer's colleagues from both sides of the General Assembly aisle in asking that he seek help in some appropriate residential treatment program. He should also resign from office. It's clear enough that the burden of public life is too much of a distraction for the delegate and may well be what's preventing him from fully appreciating his grave circumstances.
We take no joy in this development. The path to sobriety is seldom an easy one or without setbacks. Nor do we necessarily fully understand the personal demons and difficulties that may have contributed to his circumstances.

But we do know this: Such behavior is unbecoming a state legislator. Current state law, which does not give the state legislature authority to remove Mr. Dwyer from office nor for his District 31 constituents to seek his recall, is once again proving itself inadequate in the matter of a law-breaking elected official in this state. It is up to the delegate to do the right thing....
Now today’s article in The Sun, entitled “Law likely won't force Dwyer from office,” has more to say on the matter (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: Fellow lawmakers have called on Del. Don Dwyer Jr. to resign after his drunken-driving arrest Tuesday, but there is little in Maryland law to force that outcome, a review of the state’s statutes on removal from office shows.... 
State voters approved a constitutional amendment last year to automatically suspend elected officials from office once they are found guilty of a felony or certain misdemeanors related to their official duties. If they remain guilty after exhausting the appeals process, they are permanently removed.

Tiffany Alston, a former Democratic delegate from Prince George’s County, was removed from office last fall after she was convicted of misconduct in office — a crime that officials determined related directly to her official duties.

But DUI, like boating while drunk, is a misdemeanor that would not be construed as having to do with service in office, according to the state attorney general’s office. The General Assembly has broad discretion to discipline its members but can expel only with a two-thirds vote of the full membership of the chamber in question....

Furthermore, it’s not clear that there is any political appetite to begin that process in Dwyer’s case. House Speaker Michael E. Busch, an Annapolis Democrat, criticized Dwyer’s conduct as “unbecoming of a legislator” but said his future in the legislature “will be decided by his own conscience … or, ultimately, by the voters.”

Maryland is not one of the 19 states that allows for a citizen recall of an elected official, so it is indeed up to the General Assembly to take action if Del. Dwyer does not resign on his own. Legislators need to find their political appetite to deal with this, as a matter of moral imperative, or pass appropriate legislation allowing for automatic removal of a legislator convicted twice of a misdemeanor that endangers people’s lives. Call it the Delegate Don Dwyer Act of 2014.

It’s one thing to show mercy to a legislator dealing with alcoholism, who makes a life-endangering mistake one time, accepts that they have a serious problem with alcohol, and takes the steps necessary to ensure they will never endanger another life again, while also accepting their legal punishment. I could see the General Assembly choosing to reprimand that contrite legislator while not going so far as to remove him or her from office. Such a move would at least be fathomable.

But the idea that Del. Dwyer can be caught driving under the influence—endangering lives—for a second time and continue to be considered fit for public office makes a mockery out of our state’s lawmaking body. Del. Dwyer’s crime isn’t that his politics and political approach are disgusting, which they are. His crime isn’t that he is an alcoholic. His crime is endangering people’s lives. Twice.

Notably, Del. Dwyer refused to take a breath test, the results of which usually determine whether someone is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, which carries a greater charge. Based upon the arrest report (via CBS News), it appears this was no minor incident (excerpt below):
CBS NEWS: “The officer was immediately concerned for the safety of everyone on the road,” said Justin Mulcahy, Anne Arundel County Police spokesman. “It was driving erratically to say the least.  It crossed over several lanes of traffic multiple times, onto the shoulder several times as well, even getting in front of vehicles.”

According to the official police report, during the traffic stop, the officers could smell a strong odor of alcohol, Dwyer’s speech was slow and slurred, and his eyes were glassy and red.

Police say Dwyer was traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone Tuesday morning. His car registration was expired and suspended for emissions, according to the police report.

Police say he failed three field sobriety tests and refused a breath test.

If Del. Tiffany Alston should be automatically removed from office for paying a law firm employee $800 in state money and using campaign funds for wedding expenses, then how can there be a question that driving under the influence after being convicted of the same crime just months before warrants the same?

Had Del. Dwyer struck another vehicle, forcing it to careen off the road, and causing a traumatic brain injury to its passenger, do you think we would even be having this conversation? Doubtful. Blessedly, the police intervened in time, and that did not happen. That’s lucky for both Del. Dwyer, and the people who might be dead right now had he remained behind the wheel for just a few more minutes.

But regardless of how much harm Del. Dwyer caused to others on this second, law-breaking occasion, if he is convicted of a DUI misdemeanor for a second time, the General Assembly must take the necessary action to remove him from office. If the Ethics Committee feels this situation is outside the purview of its job, because the violation was not directly involved with Del. Dwyer’s official duties, then current law must be amended in some appropriate way to clarify that office-holders twice convicted of a misdemeanor that endangers lives will be removed from office.

Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice…

- Dan Furmansky

Bilal Ayyub Withdraws from District 15 Senate Race // DOCS: Brian Feldman Endorsed by SEIU, Ike Leggett, Kumar Barve

UPDATE: The Washington Post's Bill Turque carries commentary from Bilal Ayyub on the reason for his exit from the D15 Senate race (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST:  The University of Maryland engineering professor recruited ... for the upcoming Maryland State Senate vacancy in Montgomery County’s District 15 has withdrawn his name, citing pressure from elected officials and “discouraging” e-mails from party activists.... “The discouraging electronic traffic on my candidacy has illuminated for all of us the fact that we have a long way to go to change the mindset of those who are apprehensive about inclusion.”

Ayyub, 55, added that he was “discouraged or urged to withdraw by various individuals including elected officials.” In an interview Monday morning Ayyub declined to specify who contacted him, except to say that at least one elected official “called me repeatedly....”

Maryland Juice has been covering the race for the District 15 State Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Rob Garagiola. D15 Delegate Brian Feldman has been seeking the seat, and recently University of Maryland Professor Bilal Ayyub entered the race to be appointed to replace Garagiola. But just weeks before the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will select a replacement Senator for District 15, Ayyub has withdrawn from the race, in the belief that Feldman has already locked up the endorsement. Indeed, Maryland Juice was just about to post an update on the race, including new endorsements for Feldman from SEIU Local 500, County Executive Ike Leggett, and House Majority Leader Kumar Barve. Below we provide a few key exhibits, including Bilal Ayyub's letter to the MCDCC announcing his exit from the D15 race, and letters from SEIU, Leggett and Barve to the MCDCC.

JUICE #1: LETTER FROM BILAL AYYUB TO THE MCDCC ANNOUNCING HIS WITHDRAWAL FROM THE D15 SENATE RACE - Bethesda Magazine's Lou Peck reported this weekend that Bilal Ayyub was leaving the race for District 15 Senate (excerpt below):
BETHESDA MAGAZINE: Bilal Ayyub, who had been recruited by representatives of several minority groups to seek the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat in District 15, withdrew his candidacy late Saturday – clearing the way for Delegate Brian Feldman to be named to fill the slot....
The committee is scheduled to meet on Sept. 10, at which time it is all but certain to recommend Feldman to fill the seat of state Sen. Robert Garagiola, whose resignation takes effect next weekend....
On his campaign website, Bilal Ayyub posted several letters of support, including endorsements from CASA in Action, several area politicos, and a list of rank-and-file supporters. But below you can read Bilal Ayyub's full letter to members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee:

JUICE #2: DEL. KUMAR BARVE'S LETTER TO MCDCC ENDORSING DEL. BRIAN FELDMAN - District 17 Delegate Kumar Barve wrote the following letter to members of the MCDCC endorsing Brian Feldman for the D15 Senate seat and arguing against the idea of a caretaker appointment for Rob Garagiola's slot:

JUICE #3: COUNTY EXECUTIVE IKE LEGGETT'S LETTER TO MCDCC ENDORSING DEL. BRIAN FELDMAN - Below you can read a quick letter from County Executive Ike Leggett endorsing Delegate Brian Feldman for the District 15 State Senate vacancy:

JUICE #4: SEIU LOCAL 500 LETTER TO MCDCC ENDORSING DEL. BRIAN FELDMAN - Below you can read a quick letter from SEIU Local 500 endorsing Delegate Brian Feldman for the District 15 State Senate vacancy:

Now that it looks a bit more clear that Delegate Brian Feldman will likely be appointed to replace Rob Garagiola in the State Senate, we can come to one clear conclusion. Feldman's elevation to the Senate will leave a vacancy for District 15 House of Delegates that will also be appointed by the MCDCC. That means....


Friday, August 23, 2013

MONDAY: Equality MD to Protest Anti-Gay Band at Fillmore Silver Spring // Molotov Says "Go F*ck Your Whore Mother"

Maryland Juice writer Dan Furmansky previously reported on a controversial music act coming to The Fillmore Silver Spring this coming Monday. Indeed, news that the Mexico City rock-rap band Molotov was coming to Montgomery County prompted criticism of their famous anti-gay lyrics from LGBT activists and County Executive Ike Leggett. Below Dan Furmansky provides us on an update to the story, including a response from the band and news of an "education" protest outside the Fillmore (8656 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD at 6:30 pm on Monday, August 26, 2013):

DAN FURMANSKY: This coming Monday, a band called Molotov that specializes in anti-gay epithets will play at the Fillmore Silver Spring as part of its North American tour. The ruckus here in Montgomery County against this band was, for a hot minute, seemingly successful at modifying the band’s anti-gay ways. In response to our expressions of upset and concern locally, which included a strong letter of concern from County Executive Leggett, combined with similar protestations across the country and in Latin America, along with pressure from national LGBT media watchdog GLAAD and Molotov’s sponsor for its North American tour — Jagermeister — Molotov committed publicly to ratcheting down the homophobia in a few different ways. Sadly, their commitments were hot air — unsurprising coming from a clearly emotionally stunted group of gutter-talkers who likely wrote their lyrics in a 7th grade boys’ locker room.

PROTEST & ONLINE PETITION DETAILS: So…it appears the while the show at the Fillmore will go on, they will not be met unchecked. I received an email from Equality Maryland Board Chair Evan Glass (in both English and Espanol) that the group will be holding an educational rally this Monday. Here’s the gist:
Dear Friends,

Please join Equality Maryland, Casa Ruby and others from around the area to educate fans going to the Molotov concert at the Filmore on Monday, August 26th.

Molotov is a Latin Grammy Award winning Mexican rock band. They are on a U.S. tour right now. One of their songs, “Puto” contains the phrase “matarile al maricon,” which translates to “kill the faggot.” This phrase was recently used by a group of people who attacked Esteban Navarro in Chile and is too frequently used all around Spanish speaking communities.

We appreciate that Molotov released a statement saying, “no one should be a target of violence because they are LGBT.”  They also said they would refrain from using this hurtful phrase during their US tour. However, they should stop using this word in any country and should encourage their fans to not use it. Words matter. Words may hurt or heal. We must stand united against hatred and violence.
We will talk to fans as they enter the concert and share why words matter and encourage them to sign a petition urging Molotov to stop using this phrase at all their concerts and to encourage their fans from using it as well.  We will also have a postcard for fans that they can take and read later.  People can also go online and sign a petition at

We will meet in front of the Filmore, 8656 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910 at 6:30 on Monday, August 26, 2013. Please feel free to bring signs. We will provide petitions and postcards.

A FEW THOUGHTS: First, major kudos go to County Executive Leggett for expressing strong concerns about the violent nature of some of this band’s lyrics. Unfortunately, Mr. Leggett’s communication with the Fillmore was met with criticism that he was “bullying” the Fillmore and “suppressing free speech.” Council Member Hans Riemer was one of those who took to social media to lay criticism at the feet of the County Executive. Mind you, Mr. Leggett has zero leverage to dictate what shows the Fillmore books, so I’m not sure how exactly he was suppressing free speech. But I, as one among many, thank Mr. Leggett for his forceful words in the name of his own free speech.

When the leader of a jurisdiction as large as Montgomery County singles out a band for bullying language and it appears in the Washington Post and beyond, that is the sort of action that leads a band like Molotov to make some tangible commitments of change, which they did. Sadly, some of those commitments were short-lived. Here’s more from the Huffington Post (excerpt below):
HUFFINGTON POST: Molotov is dropping the word “maricón.” The Mexican rock band issued a statement via Twitter Monday night saying it would drop the anti-gay slur in light of a vicious attack against Chilean teen Esteban Navarro. Assailants allegedly attacked the 19-year-old Navarro last month with a machete, knives and iron bars while yelling anti-gay insults at him. The attack resulted in the amputation of Navarro's leg. 
“As an act of solidarity with Esteban Navarro and the LGBT community, we are choosing to refrain from using the word “maricon” in our song lyrics during our upcoming U.S. tour,” Molotov's statement says. “This word was used by Esteban’s assailants in this pointless attack, and therefore, has no place in our set.” 
Molotov's statement comes amid pressure from LGBT activists to drop "Puto," one of their most popular songs, from their set-list ahead of a U.S. tour beginning Tuesday in Orlando.
Hate crime victim Esteban Navarro
GLAAD also reported that along with removing "maricón," from the "matarile al maricón" lyric, the band will introduce the song “Puto” during the tour with a message of support for LGBT people. The band will be donating some of the tour's proceeds to LGBT organizations and to help Esteban Navarro, the young victim of a recent anti-gay attack in Chile, which required Navarro's leg to be amputated. His attackers repeatedly used the word "maricón."

Promising stuff. But at the outset, activists questioned the sincerity behind standing with a Chilean hate crime victim, not in Latin America, but in the States, and only in English. The band was also unmoved by concerns about usage of the word “Puto,” which is chanted about five gazillion times in the namesake song. “Puto” is also clearly an anti-gay epithet in many countries, including Mexico.

MOLOTOV SAYS "YOU CAN GO F*CK YOUR WHORE MOTHER" - In any case, it doesn’t appear the band has followed through on making any sort of comments about not targeting gay people when they encourage their arena of largely teenage, male fans to shout “Puto” at the top of their lungs. A few concert-goers have actually managed to gather video from their tour and it hasn’t been promising.

At one concert, in the middle of the performing “Puto,” the band shouts: "Esta cancion va dedicada a todos aquellos que se quieren meter con nuestra libertad de expresion. Pueden chingar a su puta madre." The translation from local activist Gabriel Rodriguez-Rico is this: This song is for all those who want to mess with our freedom of speech. You can go f*ck your whore mother.


Welcome to Silver Spring, Molotov! We’re all so glad that the Fillmore Silver Spring, aka the Walmart of music venues, has rolled out the red carpet for you. Molotov is a vile group. But I reserve the lion’s share of my disgust for the Fillmore Silver Spring for booking gutter acts in the name of their almighty bottom dollar.

See you Monday…

- Dan Furmansky

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Montgomery County Teachers Union Selects New Political Director // Meet MCEA's New Advocate Barbara Hueter

Last May, Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz wrote that the Montgomery County teachers union's long-time political director Jon Gerson was shifting out of his role managing the labor organization's political endorsements (excerpt below):
CENTER MARYLAND: A major power in Montgomery County politics is stepping aside this campaign season. Jon Gerson, the longtime – and controversial – political director of the county teachers’ union is no longer serving in that capacity. While he remains employed by the union, serving on its School Assistance Team, focusing on new teachers, he will no longer be part of the political operation.

In an email Thursday to Center Maryland, Tom Israel, the executive director of the 12,000-member Montgomery County Education Association, said Gerson’s reassignment is part of a broad staff reorganization, prompted in part by the departure of two veteran staff members....

In an interview Thursday, Gerson – who, like most of his colleagues at the union, wears many hats – said he sought the change because he had grown tired of the “transactional relationships” in politics and was deriving more satisfaction from working with teachers.... “It’s somebody else’s turn,” he said....
But a Maryland Juice source within MCEA informed us today that as of August 15th, MCEA has selected Barbara Hueter to serve as their new political director. Heuter formerly served as Co-Chair of MCEA's Political Action & Legislative Support Committee and previously worked as a social studies teacher at BCC High School. She will now be serving half-time as the union's political director through the 2014 election cycle:

Photo Source: The Warrior Online

Congratulations and good luck to Barbara Hueter!

OMG: Tea Party Delegate Don Dwyer Arrested (Again) for DUI // The Same Guy Crashed a Boat Into Kids While Drinking

Maryland's Tea Party Delegate Don Dwyer may have a drinking problem. Eye on Annapolis reports that this morning, Dwyer was arrested for driving under the influence (excerpt below):
EYE ON ANNAPOLIS: Early this morning Anne Arundel County police pulled over a vehicle for suspected driving while intoxicated....

The driver of the vehicle was Anne Arundel County delegate Don Dwyer. Dwyer identified himself as a member of the House of delegates and failed several field sobriety tests....

Dwyer was arrested and brought back to the Eastern District for processing. The delegate refused to submit to a breath test.

You may recall that Del. Don Dwyer was involved in a drunk-boating accident last year that resulted in injuries to several children. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Dwyer entered a guilty plea in the resulting criminal investigation, with his fate to be decided by a judge next month (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: In a renewed bid to avoid jail time, Maryland Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to a drunken boating charge stemming from a collision last year that injured seven people.

It will be up to a visiting judge, however, to decide in October whether to accept the plea deal that Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) reached with prosecutors, which calls for no additional incarceration....

Because all of the charges filed against Dwyer were misdemeanors and none were directly related to his job as a state legislator, he has not been under threat of automatic expulsion from the General Assembly.

But House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) has said that he expects that a legislative ethics committee will examine the episode. That panel could recommend disciplinary actions ranging up to expulsion to the full House of Delegates.

I think it's game over for GOP Delegate Don Dwyer!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

LEAKED DOC: Sen. Rob Garagiola Responds to MCDCC Appointment in D15 // PLUS: Over 150 Support Bilal Ayyub

BACKGROUND: Maryland Juice recently reported on the latest turn of events in the race to succeed Rob Garagiola for his District 15 State Senate seat. The Washington Post's Bill Turque wrote that Delegate Brian Feldman will face a challenger, Bilal Ayyub, in his quest to be appointed to the vacant seat. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) will soon name a temporary replacement for Garagiola, and some minority activists in MoCo have called for Ayyub (a University of Maryland professor) to be appointed as a caretaker who would not run for office in 2014. Below Maryland Juice publishes a leaked letter from Sen. Rob Garagiola to members of the MCDCC, along with a couple signs that Bilal Ayyub is beginning to campaign for the D15 Senate vacancy.

JUICE #1: ROB GARAGIOLA ENDORSES BRIAN FELDMAN TO REPLACE HIM IN SENATE - Maryland Juice received a leaked copy of a letter sent by Sen. Rob Garagiola to MCDCC members endorsing Del. Brian Feldman to replace him. The letter below also touches upon the race issues raised during the course of the debate:
From: "Robert Garagiola" <>
To: xxxxx
Sent: Friday, July 19, 2013 6:26:06 PM
Subject: Brian Feldman for State Senate

Dear Montgomery County Central Committee Members,

I am writing to strongly endorse Delegate Brian Feldman for the seat being vacated by me on September 1st.

While some have suggested it has already been decided who will succeed me – calling it a coronation of sorts – I disagree. There is a fair process in place to select a successor. Each of you has an important decision before you. However, I believe that the most important consideration should be: Who is the best person for the state Senate to represent District 15 in Annapolis? To me, there is only one answer: Brian Feldman.

At the same time, I think that the public discussion about greater minority representation in public office is important. Brian, Kathleen, and I, who were incumbents in 2006, tapped Craig Rice to join our ticket and provided significant financial and volunteer support to ensure that he defeated a Republican incumbent Delegate. In 2010, when Craig decided to run for County Council, the District 15 team got behind Aruna Miller and again provided financial and volunteer support to elect her Delegate. While the Montgomery County delegation benefited with greater minority representation in its ranks, we supported Craig and Aruna, not because they were minorities, but because they were the best people for the job in 2006 and 2010, respectively.

In 2014, I am strongly supporting Anthony Brown for Governor and Ike Leggett for County Executive. Both can expect my time and money to support their candidacies. I am also supporting Delegate Susan Lee for state Senate in District 16. Again, I am supporting these people not because they are minorities, but because they are the best people for the jobs that they are seeking to fill.

Brian is the best person for the job of state Senator. He is unmatched by any possible candidate for state Senate in his ability to legislate, get things done for the residents of District 15, and be able to hit the ground running from day one as a state Senator. He has proven his campaign acumen in winning a very difficult election in 2002, as well as winning successive elections in 2006 and 2010. Brian is well respected in Annapolis by his colleagues – Senators and Delegates respect him and support him.

I am writing not to coronate Brian. I am writing to share my opinions of him and, like Ike Leggett, Craig Rice, Kathleen Dumais, Aruna Miller, and so many others, to endorse his candidacy. I have known Brian for more than 15 years. He is a dedicated public servant. He is hard working. He is exactly the type of person you want serving you.

I have watched Brian navigate complicated issues in Annapolis. I have watched him solve constituent problems. I have seen him work hard to help elect other good Democrats up and down the ticket. I have seen him work with Republicans and Democrats to better the State of Maryland. Brian is by far the best person for the job! I cannot say enough positive things about him. In my opinion, he deserves your support for his candidacy for state Senate for District 15.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss Brian’s qualifications further.


Rob Garagiola

JUICE #2: BILAL AYYUB BEGINS CAMPAIGNING FOR D15 SENATE VACANCY, LISTS OVER 150 SUPPORTERS - Meanwhile, Maryland Juice readers have pointed to a couple bits of evidence that Bilal Ayyub is beginning to campaign for the District 15 State Senate seat. Ayyub has a website up which lists over 150 supporters, and he has confirmed on Twitter that he is campaigning for the vacancy. His website also provides some info on his background (details below):
BILAL AYYUB: As an engineering professor, scholar, author, a successful businessman, angel/venture capital investor and community leader, Bilal possesses in depth expertise and diverse experiences in many subjects from fiscal matters to government structure to infrastructure to transportation to education to biotechnology to energy to homeland security to standard and regulation development. He is a persisting advocate for citizen participation in governance, diversity, civil liberties and social justice.

Bilal received many awards by several engineering societies, and the 2003 State of Maryland Governor Paris Glendening's Citation for "positive contributions, leadership and distinguished service ... in honor and appreciation of your selfless efforts on behalf of the community." In 2006, he was appointed to the Higher Education Transition Work Group for Governor Martin O'Malley. In 2007, he received the Department of the Army Commander's Award for Public Service for leading the development of the risk model for the hurricane protection system of New Orleans. He also served on Governor O'Malley's Maryland Middle Eastern American Affairs Commission, and is presently serving on the Governor's Emergency Management Advisory Council.
Bilal Ayyub (far left) with Gov. Martin O'Malley, Tufail Ahmad and Terry Lierman.

Check out the following Tweets from Bilal Ayyub regarding the D15 vacancy: