Thursday, November 7, 2013

JUICE: Dutch Leans Against Run for Governor, Troopergate Whistleblowers Investigated & Sen. Conway Accused of Assault

PLUS: A Primary Challenger for Sen. Joan Carter Conway, A Redistricting Contest & "Smoking While Black"

Below Maryland Juice provides a round-up of news that may be of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER LEANING AGAINST RUN FOR GOVERNOR // BEACH WEEK COVERAGE BOOSTS GANSLER NAME ID? - The Capitol Gazette reports that Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is leaning against a run for Governor in the 2014 Democratic Primary, and he partly attributes this to the NSA surveillance scandal (excerpt below):
CAPITOL GAZETTE: U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger said constituents are asking him to run to be Maryland’s next governor and he thinks he’d “kick butt” if he were elected in 2014.... “I’m leaning not to, but I haven’t made that decision yet,” Ruppersberger said. “One of the reasons is I haven’t had the time. With the NSA ... it’s just overwhelming....”

He said that a poll his office commissioned about two months ago showed that his name recognition still ranked No. 2, behind Brown — “without lifting a finger.” Ruppersberger said Brown is a front-runner because “half the state” is in an area Brown previously represented near Prince George’s County, and there is typically a heavy turnout of African-Americans in primary elections.... Brown and Gansler “don’t have management experience,” Ruppersberger said. Still, Ruppersberger said he’s being away pulled from a gubernatorial run by his colleagues on Capitol Hill.
WAS DOUG GANSLER'S NAME ID BOOSTED BY STATE TROOPER & BEACH WEEK COVERAGE? - Interestingly, in the article above, Ruppersberger says a poll he commissioned last month had him in the #2 spot for name recognition. But Goucher's name ID poll released yesterday had Gansler in the #2 spot. Assuming Ruppersberger's poll is accurate, we can guess that the recent State Trooper and Beach Week stories involving Gansler have boosted his name ID dramatically.

JUICE #2: POLICE LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO WHISTLEBLOWING STATE TROOPER // DOUG GANSLER DENIES INVOLVEMENT - The Associated Press reported yesterday that state troopers involved in documenting Doug Gansler's alleged lawless driving are now under investigation for an unrelated matter (eg: whether they were authorized to moonlight as guards). An attorney for the troopers questions the timing of this investigation (excerpt below):
ASSOCIATED PRESS (VIA WBAL): An attorney for a Maryland state trooper who documented allegations about being ordered by Attorney General Doug Gansler to hit the lights and siren...says his client is under investigation by MSP.

State Police spokesman Greg Shipley told The Washington Post that the agency is investigating whether several employees' moonlighting work was sanctioned. But he declined to say which ones.... [Attorney Michael Davey] says he is suspicious of the investigation's timing since the complaint that sparked it came days after the Gansler story broke.
WUSA9 followed up with commentary from Doug Gansler denying involvement in potential retaliation against the whistleblowers:
WUSA9: Gansler said his office was not the source of information that sparked the investigation into Lt. Charles Ardolini and at least two another troopers now accused of using a state vehicle and firearms on executive protection jobs in DC and Virginia. The investigation began three days after a memo outlining Ardolini's complaints about Gansler were made public. "Obviously, it didn't come from my campaign," Gansler said.

JUICE #3: BALTIMORE MAN ACCUSES SEN. JOAN CARTER CONWAY OF 2ND DEGREE ASSAULT // VIDEO BELOW - The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that a Baltimore man is accusing State Senator Joan Carter Conway of second degree assault (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: Former Senator Theatre owner Tom Kiefaber is accusing state Sen. Joan Carter Conway of assault after an incident last week that ended with him in handcuffs at the auction of his former home.

Kiefaber recorded a confrontation with the Baltimore lawmaker and posted it to YouTube. The video shows him walking outside the Orkney Road house and approaching Conway, who pushes the camera away before walking off with two men.

"I told him: 'You can keep that camera out of my face,'" Conway said. "I went behind the house, then I heard all this noise, and I said, 'Why are you following me?'"

Kiefaber filed second-degree assault charges Monday against the Democratic senator who represents North Baltimore. The state's attorney's office for Baltimore will meet with Kiefaber and determine whether it will prosecute. A spokesman for the office declined to comment.
You can watch a video capturing the incident below:

JUICE #4: BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMEMBER BILL HENRY TO CHALLENGE JOAN CARTER CONWAY FOR D43 STATE SENATE SEAT  - In addition to the alleged assault incident above, State Senator Joan Carter Conway is also facing a challenger in the 2014 Democratic Primary. Baltimore City Councilmember Bill Henry announced today he will be running against Conway for State Senate. See the press release below:

Press Release

Henry Announces State Senate Run

Baltimore, MD (November 7, 2013) – At a series of gatherings held earlier this week, Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry (D-4th) announced his intention to run for the Maryland State Senate next spring in North & Northeast Baltimore’s newly-redrawn 43rd Legislative District.

“I love the job I have now, but there are important issues that impact our communities which can only be addressed at the state level,” said Henry. “In two terms on the City Council, I’ve been privileged with the opportunity to help a lot of people, but I believe I can help even more in the State Senate.”

Henry made his announcement to several dozen supporters Tuesday morning, at a series of events spread across the 43rd District.  The first was at a morning meeting at Santorini’s on York Road in Henry’s current Council district, then moving to a mid-day meeting at The Red Canoe on Harford Road, and concluding with an evening event at the Peabody Heights Brewery in the Abell community.

When asked about specific issues he plans to address in the General Assembly, Henry listed liquor regulation, responsible banking practices, charter schools, additional funding for school facilities, and environmental preservation among his priorities.  As a state senator, Henry has pledged to continue his practice of hosting districtwide community meetings each year, as well as continuing to regularly attend individual neighborhood meetings.

At 45, Henry is one of the youngest veteran members of the Council, chairing the Housing & Community Relations committee and serving as vice chair of the Taxation, Finance & Economic Development and Education & Youth committees. Henry introduced the City Council’s first successful resolution supporting civil marriage at the State level and just last year succeeded in passing landmark Late-Night Commercial Operations licensing legislation, which for the first time provides residents across the City with a process through which they can have a say in the hours of operation for problem businesses in their communities.

A graduate of several schools in the 43rd District, Henry earned a master’s of business administration degree with a concentration in finance from Loyola University Maryland, after receiving an undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University, where he focused on urban studies and public policy. Henry lives in the North Baltimore neighborhood of Radnor-Winston with his wife Ruth and their two daughters, both of whom attend Baltimore City Public Schools.


JUICE #5: COMMON CAUSE MARYLAND ANNOUNCES REDISTRICTING CARTOON CONTEST  //  $1000 PRIZE  - Maryland Juice received the following press release from Common Cause Maryland asking artists to submit political cartoons highlighting gerrymandering in the Free State. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize:

Press Release

Calling All Artists!

Coalition launches political cartoon contest to draw attention to gerrymandering in Maryland

(Annapolis) – Art and politics came together Wednesday night, as a coalition of groups announced a political cartoon contest aimed at drawing attention to redistricting reform in Maryland. The winning cartoon will be published in papers across Maryland, and the artist will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

“Maryland is now home to some of the most poorly drawn congressional districts in the nation. We want to build on the powerful history of political cartoons by running our own cartoon contest to document the current state of redistricting in Maryland,” said Susan Cochran, President of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

“Gerrymandering is a term that is now widely used to describe any act of drawing legislative districts for partisan advantage. The name was invented thanks to an 1812 political cartoon that depicted an irregularly drawn district in Massachusetts as a dragon-like monster. The image of a salamander stuck, and was combined with the name of the Governor, Elbridge Gerry, to coin the now infamous term,” explained Ralph Watkins, Voter Services Chair for the League.  “Maryland’s current congressional map has been widely lampooned.  We think it deserves its own cartoon!” 

“We are using humor to draw attention to a very serious issue,” said Carol Ann Hecht, representing the National Council of Jewish Women Annapolis Section.  “Gerrymandered districts create situations where all votes are not equal. They also make it difficult for legislators to know and represent their constituents, and undermine confidence in the democratic process. Marylanders deserve better.”

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland, agreed.  “Voters should choose their elected officials – elected officials should not choose their voters.”

Maryland draws new congressional and legislative districts every ten years, to update the maps for population changes.  District maps are supposed to reflect the ideal of “one person, one vote.”  But Maryland ranks worst in the nation when it comes to the compactness of its new congressional districts.  Four of our eight districts (50%) are among the most gerrymandered in the country. Critics have called the Maryland map “highly partisan and racially charged,” questioning how a congressman could fairly and accurately represent a district that “slices and dices counties, communities and neighborhoods.”

For more information on the contest, including rules and entry forms, visit

# # # 

JUICE #6: NEW REPORT SAYS "IN EVERY COUNTY IN MARYLAND, BLACK PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO BE ARRESTED FOR MARIJUANA" - The ACLU of Maryland today released a new report showing that in every county in the state, black residents are far more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white residents. See the press release below:

Press Release 

In Every County in Maryland, Black People More 
Likely to Be Arrested for Marijuana Possession

New Maryland ACLU Report Details Growing Marijuana 
Arrest Rates, Even As Support for Decriminalization Grows

BALTIMORE – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland released a new report, The Maryland War on Marijuana in Black and White, which provides a detailed county-by-county analysis of marijuana possession arrest data in Maryland. Using official Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Census data, the report shows that over the last ten years, the number of people arrested for marijuana possession in Maryland has increased dramatically – by 34 percent – and that, despite comparable rates of marijuana use across race, communities of color are policed differently for marijuana possession. In every county in Maryland, Blacks are disproportionately targeted for enforcement of marijuana laws.

Key statewide findings from the report include:
  1. Maryland now has one of the highest rates of arrests for marijuana possession in the nation.
  2. Between 2001 and 2010, arrests for marijuana possession increased dramatically in Maryland – by 34 percent.
  3. Even though Blacks and Whites use marijuana at comparable rates, police arrest Blacks for marijuana possession at higher rates than Whites in every county in Maryland.
  4. Racial disparities in marijuana arrests worsened dramatically in Maryland from 2001 to 2010. During that time, the number of Black arrests increased by 5,614 – but the White arrests increased by only 371.
  5. Maryland spent approximately $106 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010 alone.
“Now is the time to end this racially disparate approach of stopping, searching, arresting and jailing people in Maryland for possession of marijuana because it not only wastes limited resources, but it hurts communities and erodes trust with law enforcement,” said Sara Love, Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Maryland. “With this Maryland report, the ACLU of Maryland will be strongly advocating for reform in the 2014 legislative session.”

The Maryland report is drawn from a national ACLU report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, released in June. That report showed that, nationally, African Americans were nearly three times as likely as whites to be arrested for simple marijuana possession in 2010, even though research consistently shows comparable rates of use across race.

In Maryland, police arrest one out of every 250 people for marijuana possession; the state is now fourth highest in the country in marijuana possession arrests per capita and seventh highest in the country in terms of the raw number of marijuana possession arrests – outranking far more populous states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, which have more than twice the population of Maryland.  In Maryland, marijuana possession arrests now make up 90% of all marijuana-related arrests and 50% of all drug arrests. And while African-Americans comprise only 30 percent of the state’s population, they are 58 percent of arrests for marijuana possession.  Even more shockingly, race disparities in arrests worsened between 2001 and 2010 – during that time period, Black arrests increased by 69%, compared to four percent for Whites. 

“This report proves something we police have known for a long time: The drug war is inherently racist in its execution,” said Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Inequities in arrest rates affect the life opportunities of Blacks and create distrust between police and the communities they serve. And as a Maryland police officer for 34 years, I can tell you that race-based policing of marijuana users does nothing to make communities safer.”

Maryland voters are ready for marijuana reform. A poll commissioned by the ACLU and the Marijuana Policy Project in October showed that 53 percent of Maryland voters support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol. Only 38 percent said they were opposed. The poll also found that more than two-thirds (68 percent) support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replacing them with a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time. Only 26 percent said they were opposed. Under current Maryland law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and fined up to $500.

The ACLU of Maryland supports legislation to legally tax and regulate marijuana. Last session, the group also supported legislation that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.  While the bill made historic progress by passing the State Senate, the bill stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Arrests for possession of even the smallest amounts of marijuana have often resulted in greater difficulty obtaining a job, losing student financial aid, deportations, losing custody of children, or ineligibility for public housing.  Just as importantly, for every person who is found with marijuana, many more who have done nothing wrong are subjected to humiliating stops and searches by police – disproportionately people of color.


You can read the ACLU's full report below:

No comments:

Post a Comment