Monday, December 9, 2013

JUICE: Annapolis Threatens MoCo & PG Wage Hikes, Brown for MoCo School Funds, Gansler Cries Foul & Delaney Flashback

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

JUICE #1: RUMORS THAT ANNAPOLIS LAWMAKERS WILL TRY TO VETO THE MOCO & PRINCE GEORGE'S MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES - County Councilmembers in Montgomery and Prince George's recently voted to approve a minimum wage of $11.50 an hour, in order to create a regional wage standard with the District of Columbia. But Maryland Juice just caught an interesting item in today's AFL-CIO "Union City" newsletter indicating that efforts are afoot in Annapolis to veto the MoCo & Prince George's Councilmembers through state legislation (excerpt below):
AFL-CIO: A regional plan to raise the minimum wage in the metro Washington area may hit an unexpected roadblock: the Maryland legislature. That’s because Free State lawmakers are considering a two-part minimum wage law, according to Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s County NAACP.  One section of the bill would raise Maryland’s minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 – less than the $11.50 approved in Montgomery, Prince George’s and DC – and the other section would revoke minimum wage hikes like those just approved in MontCo, PG and DC. Meanwhile, in DC, Mayor Vincent Gray, who in early December announced he’s running for re-election, says he prefers a $10 minimum wage. The DC City Council’s $11.50 minimum wage bill passed Tuesday with a veto-proof 13-0 preliminary vote, with a final vote scheduled for December 17....
JUICE #2: ANTHONY BROWN ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR INCREASE IN MOCO SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION FUNDING - Bethesda Now reported this weekend that gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown has pledged to advocate for increased MoCo school construction dollars in the coming legislative session (excerpt below):
BETHESDA NOW:  The Brown campaign held the event — in which it announced endorsements from 18 elected officials in Montgomery — at the town hall of the Town of Chevy Chase, not far from where Gansler lives.... Brown talked about his military service, the state’s recent new laws on gun control and the death penalty repeal and private-public partnership legislation that the state hopes to use to finance and build the Purple Line light rail. He also pledged his support to Montgomery County’s planned push for state construction funding in the 2014 General Assembly....
Citing an "achievement gap" in student performance in Montgomery County, last October County leaders pledged to fight for expanded school construction dollars in Annapolis. The Washington Post reported on the effort several weeks ago (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Montgomery officials will gather Thursday to formally kick off what County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) regards as his top legislative priority for next year’s Maryland General Assembly: construction funding for a school system squeezed to the seams by surging enrollment.

Leggett and Montgomery’s school leadership are seeking a deal similar to one the city of Baltimore secured from lawmakers and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) earlier this year....  Montgomery has 17 percent of Maryland’s student enrollment, but the county typically gets about 11 percent of state construction funding, officials said....

Montgomery would seek $20 million from the state to leverage its own $40 million outlay. These funds would supplement the county’s share of new state authorizations for school construction. The $60 million would support bonds of up to $750 million, to fund construction over the next five years, county officials said....

JUICE #3: DOUG GANSLER ALLEGES ANTHONY BROWN COVERING UP BUNGLED OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT IN MARYLAND - Maryland Juice received the following press release from Doug Gansler's gubernatorial campaign accusing Lt. Governor Anthony Brown of covering up the state's much-criticized roll-out for Obamacare enrollment:

Brown Hiding Behind Executive Privilege To Cover Up His Failure Implementing Health Care Exchange

…the office claimed "executive privilege” in not releasing Brown’s correspondence over Maryland’s Health Care Exchange.

“No E-Mails from Brown on Health Exchange ”
Baltimore Sun, 12/7/13

SILVER SPRING---The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Douglas Gansler today called on Lt. Governor Anthony Brown to stop hiding behind executive privilege and immediately disclose all email correspondence between Brown, Brown’s office, and members of the exchange or officials from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about the website or its lead contractor.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun on Friday, Brown’s office is refusing to turn over an undisclosed number of emails between his office and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene claiming “executive privilege.”

Doug Gansler and Jolene Ivey have been strong supporters of President Obama and his health care reform law and will work to ensure it is implemented effectively.

Bob Wheelock, Director of Communications for the Gansler Campaign, issued the following statement:

Lt. Governor Brown was given the task by the Governor to implement the creation of Maryland’s Health Insurance Exchange. Lt. Governor Brown failed and now is trying to hide behind executive privilege to avoid responsibility.

Governor O’Malley has taken over the job, but the least that Lt. Governor Brown can now do is to be straight with the people of Maryland regarding what he knew about problems with the Health Exchange. Lt. Governor Brown can start by disclosing his emails and correspondence with respect to his lack of stewardship of the Maryland Health Exchange, instead of hiding behind claims of executive privilege.

Instead of taking responsibility, Lt. Governor Brown has been ducking responsibility.

When the problems with the rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange immediately became apparent, Lt. Governor Brown said he was surprised by the problems with the website.

Then he admitted he knew there were roll out problems but did nothing to fix them.

Then it was revealed that under Brown's leadership, Maryland's Health Exchange underperformed other states.

Then the Washington Post called Brown’s leadership "an embarrassment" and Congressman Van Hollen on Meet the Press called the problems with implementation "a mess."

Then Brown sat quietly and did nothing while Governor O’Malley took over the task.

Then he ran away from the press and refused to answer questions about his failures.

Then he pointed fingers and blamed a staffer.

Now he refuses to release his email correspondence over health care, claiming executive privilege.

For a politician who STILL has this on his campaign website….

“As the leader of Maryland’s efforts to improve health care and Co-Chair of the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, Lt. Governor Brown has positioned Maryland as the national leader in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

It’s sad that this is now what he’s saying:

 “…the office claimed executive privilege” in not releasing Brown’s correspondence over Maryland’s Health Care Exchange. Baltimore Sun, “No E-Mails from Brown on Health Exchange,” 12/7/13.

It’s time for Lt. Governor Brown to stop hiding behind executive privilege and fully disclose what he knew and when he knew about problems with the rollout of Maryland’s Health Insurance Exchange.


JUICE #4: CONGRESSMAN JOHN DELANEY'S FORMER COMPANY CAPITAL SOURCE BACK ON THE RADAR - A couple readers noted that this week The Washington Post decided to rehash some of the minutiae from last year's heated Democratic Primary battle between John Delaney and Rob Garagiola. During the 2012 election contest, The Post highlighted the following item about Delaney's former company Capital Source, and its relationship to a business called Aeon Financial (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Before stepping onto the public stage as a candidate, Delaney made a name for himself in the financial arena as the founder of CapitalSource, a multibillion-dollar commercial finance firm. The Chevy Chase outfit provides loans of up to $100 million to small and mid-size businesses....

Because Delaney, 48, is new to the political world, Garagiola has focused his attacks almost exclusively on Delaney’s business record.... A portion of CapitalSource’s portfolio is comprised of asset-based, or secured, loans made to companies in the health-care and real estate sectors. One of those companies is Aeon Financial, a Chicago-based firm that purchases tax liens on residential properties from municipalities.

Garagiola has accused CapitalSource, in conjunction with Aeon, of foreclosing on homes throughout Maryland and Ohio in order to collect those liens. CapitalSource Bank FBO Aeon Financial LLC is listed as the plaintiff in hundreds of foreclosure proceedings....

In a bit of an unusual move, The Washington Post is now following up on their coverage of Aeon almost two years later (?). Yesterday, they released a lengthy article regarding Aeon's practices, and re-interviewed Delaney about the situation (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST:  The firm that threatened to foreclose on hundreds of struggling D.C. homeowners is a mystery: It lists no owners, no local office, no Web site.

Aeon Financial is incorporated in Delaware, operates from mail-drop boxes in Chicago and is represented by a law firm with an address at a 7,200-square-foot estate on a mountainside near Vail, Colo.

Yet no other tax lien purchaser in the District has been more aggressive in recent years, buying the liens placed on properties when owners fell behind on their taxes, then charging families thousands in fees to save their homes from foreclosure....
One of Aeon’s major lenders was CapitalSource Bank, founded in 2000 by John Delaney, who was elected to the U.S. House last year. The Maryland Democrat was the bank’s chief executive officer when CapitalSource loaned $30 million to Aeon in 2009.

Delaney spokesman Will McDonald said the congressman didn’t know about the company’s problems in Ohio or the District’s lawsuit against Aeon.... “During Congressman Delaney’s time as CEO, CapitalSource made over 5,000 business loans, loans probably totaling over $20 billion,” McDonald said. “The CEO of a bank does not track the ongoing business operations of all outstanding loans because doing so would be impossible.” Delaney took a leave of absence from his position at the bank last year and resigned after being elected to Congress....

In any case, former State Senator Rob Garagiola has moved on to greener pastures, and Delaney's comments about Aeon are just a small part of The Washington Post coverage. But this story is a couple years old now, so I guess it took a long time to research? Though the article does note that, "The Post spent three months examining Aeon’s corporate history, traveling to Chicago, Cleveland and three counties in Maryland and reviewing hundreds of business and land records, to find out who is behind the company that has affected thousands of homeowners across the country."

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