Thursday, January 31, 2013

VIDEO: Transgender Marylanders Describe Hate Crimes & Discrimination // WAKE UP TO YOUR ROLE IN THE PROBLEM

Yesterday Maryland Juice noted that over twenty State Senators introduced a bill to prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals. To bolster the effort today, a number of transgender Maryland residents released a video describing the shameful, violent and inhumane treatment they are prone to receiving from members of our community.

But before I present their courageous statements, I wanted to pause and lament once again that we are even having a debate over this non-discrimination law. I admit that I should be excited to see that this common-sense bill may finally be signed into law, but I can't help but feel sad and angry that we are having to cyclically prove the worth of some group of humans to the rest of society. Indeed, I won't hold my breath for State Senator Norm Stone to get behind this effort, given that he represents the worst example of the kind of hateful policymaking I am talking about -- and he's a Democrat! As you are likely aware by now, Sen. Norm Stone previously voted against interracial marriage in Maryland and has since then continued voting against individual liberty and human rights. What a POS.

GET OVER YOURSELF: I get very tired of humanity's hateful impulses sometimes. Too many people seem to think they have some right to not be offended by the sight or lifestyles of other people -- even if they are not actually being affected by the people they are seemingly obsessed with. The law should not exist to give rise to personal discrimination or to protect people from the unrealized paranoia of their own views.  To be fair, the history of the United States (including today) is rife with examples where we have allowed our laws to become instruments of illogic. But over time members of the advocacy community often succeed in pointing out and correcting the injustices we as a society often create. The question I have is why the other members of society constantly force us to wage decades-long struggles in order to achieve policy results that are simply humane? Get over yourself.

LEAVE THE HOUSE MORE OFTEN: In particular, the resistance to anti-discrimination laws protecting transgender individuals makes me wish people in the United States would travel more. Every time I leave the country, I'm struck by the simple observation that ordinary people in every nation appear to want the same things we do (eg: good health, employment, security for their loved ones, etc), and they laugh, cry and fear things just as we in the U.S. do. But every once in a while when I leave the country, I am also struck by how the things that pass as "normal" in other societies can be so wildly different than at home. In particular, after a couple recent swings through Southeast Asia, I was astonished to see a decent number of transgender individuals going out about their lives and working without drama in various retail establishments. Guess what? The sky is not falling in those countries. I'm also tempted to point out that at least some of the victims of discrimination in the United States may have biological factors pushing their gender identity -- but that really seems besides the point.

FAIRNESS FOR ALL ACT OF 2013: The summary for the transgender anti-discrimination law currently moving in the Maryland Senate states the following goals:
BILL SUMMARY: Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity with regard to public accommodations, housing, and employment and by specified licensed or regulated persons; prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity with regard to commercial leasing; altering an exception for employers relating to standards concerning dress and grooming; providing specified immunity; requiring State personnel actions to be made without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation; defining the term "gender identity"; etc.

TRANSGENDER MARYLAND RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT: A handful of brave transgender Marylanders produced the video below to explain their circumstances and support this bill:

SHOCKING REMINDERS: Lest you think the claims from these residents are exaggerated, let me provide you with some recent video exhibits to make the case.  WARNING: these videos are unpleasant:

APRIL 2011: Rosedale, Maryland Transgender Attack at McDonald's

FEBRUARY 2008: Memphis Cop Beats Up Transsexual Under Custody

AN INDIGNANT RESPONSE: The Memphis police beating led a number of people to post response videos on YouTube, and I appreciate the indignation expressed by this gentleman (Note: the video contains cursing, if that sort of thing bothers you):

One relieving aspect to these hate crimes is that communities tend to rally around the victims. Even still, the common nature of violent hate crimes against transgender residents leads me to wonder to what extent our collective (unwarranted) fears lay the groundwork for these assaults. Here's to hoping that Maryland passes the "Fairness for All Act."

INTERESTING: Controversial Obama Pastor Jeremiah Wright to Speak at Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Church

Adam Meister, a Baltimore-based blogger and political activist, today reported that President Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright is coming to Baltimore in February. Wright is scheduled to speak at Douglas Community Memorial Church, which is apparently where Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake worships. A press release for the event notes:
DOUGLAS COMMUNITY MEMORIAL CHURCH: Rev. Dr. S. Todd Yeary, Senior Pastor and the Douglas Church Family will welcome  Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.  as they celebrate the 88th Anniversary of the church’s founding. The Founders’ Day service will be held on Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10 A.M. at Douglas Memorial Community Church, located 1325 Madison Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217.

In a blog post today, Adam Meister reminds readers of some of Jeremiah Wright's more inflammatory and controversial comments regarding Jewish Americans. You may remember Wright from the conflicts he created during Barack Obama's 2008 run for President, when he began criticizing the candidate at public events during the campaign. Wikiepedia provides a quick description:
WIKIPEDIA: Wright, who was Barack Obama's former pastor, gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News, after reviewing dozens of Wright's sermons, excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny. Obama denounced the statements in question, but after critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Wright he gave a speech titled "A More Perfect Union", in which he denounced Wright's remarks, but did not disown him as a person. The controversy began to fade, but was renewed in late April when Wright made a series of media appearances, including an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, a speech at the NAACP and a speech at the National Press Club. After the last of these, Obama spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was "outraged" and "saddened" by his behavior, and in May he resigned his membership in the church.

On June 9, 2009, in an interview with the Daily Press of Newport News, Wright indicated that he hadn't had contact with Obama up to that point because "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office."

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown & Attorney General Doug Gansler Jockey on Gun Control // 2014 Rivals Host Dueling Events


Gun control appears to be an early issue priority for Maryland's 2014 gubernatorial candidates. Two rival candidates, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown are both hosting events to highlight the issue. Below we provide some information and discussion about their dueling gun control efforts:

ANTHONY BROWN GUN CONTROL TOWN HALLS: Starting today, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown will be hosting a series of gun control town halls throughout the state. By throughout the state, I mean in Montgomery County, Prince George's County and Baltimore City -- coincidentally, Maryland's big three Democratic strongholds. Brown will be fielding questions from the audience in his effort to build momentum for the administration's legislative package. The gatherings are being billed as discussions between Lt. Gov. Brown, cabinet officials, local electeds, and ordinary Marylanders about the O'Malley-Brown approach to gun control. Below you can see the town hall schedule:

Lt. Governor Brown to host public safety town halls around the state

In the coming weeks, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown will be hosting a series of town halls around the state to connect with community members about the O'Malley-Brown Administration's proposed public safety legislation, answer questions and hear ideas for continuing to build a safer Maryland together. At each town hall, the Lt. Governor will be joined by a panel made up of local elected officials, representatives from the Department of Education, Maryland State Police, Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

January 31, 2013 - Baltimore City Town Hall with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
7:30pm - 9:00pm
University of Baltimore School of Law, Venable Baetjer Howard Moot Court Room
1415 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland
RSVP for Baltimore City Town Hall
February 5, 2013 - Prince George's County Town Hall
7:30pm - 9:00pm

Prince George's Community College, Marlboro Hall
301 Largo Road, Largo, Maryland
RSVP for Prince George's County Town Hall
February 6, 2013 - Montgomery County Town Hall with County Executive Ike Leggett & Council President Nancy Navarro
7:30pm - 9:00pm

Montgomery County Council Hearing Room, Council Office Building
100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland
RSVP for Montgomery County Town Hall

DOUG GANSLER GUN VIOLENCE FORUM: Meanwhile, Monday Attorney General Doug Gansler is hosting a gun violence forum, and his event will be at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. Gansler is bringing together a range of community leaders, law enforcement figures, and other experts for what he is calling "The Attorney General's Forum on Gun Violence - A Conversation Among Law Enforcement and Community Leaders to Consider Practical Solutions." Details below: 

Attorney General Doug Gansler Convenes Forum on Gun Violence 
Local challenges, Maryland solutions to be the focus

Baltimore, MD ( Jan. 17, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that he will host a forum on gun violence in Maryland on Monday, February 4 at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. A prosecutor at the federal, state and local levels for over two decades, Attorney General Gansler is convening state and local community leaders, law enforcement, prosecutors, legal scholars and experts for the event entitled, The Attorney General's Forum on Gun Violence - A Conversation Among Law Enforcement and Community Leaders to Consider Practical Solutions.

"This is the right time to consider pragmatic, common-sense action to reduce gun violence and protect the safety of all Marylanders," said Attorney General Gansler. "We will explore solutions to effectively keep illegal guns off the street and stop guns from getting into the hands of those who seek to kill or harm others."

This week, Attorney General Gansler, currently serving as President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), was joined by other attorneys general from across the nation in a discussion of gun violence with the Office of Vice President Joe Biden and White House officials. The forum on February 4 will be an extension of that conversation, seeking to identify and define the many legal, law enforcement and systematic changes that will save lives and prevent injury to Marylanders.

"There are important and welcome developments on gun violence already underway in Annapolis and Washington," Attorney General Gansler added. "This event is intended to further that conversation as we continue to work with Governor O'Malley, members of the General Assembly, my colleagues in law enforcement, community leaders, and the people of Maryland to ensure that in 2013 our state makes progress on gun violence."


TEA PARTY ORGANIZES "DAY OF RESISTANCE" TO MARYLAND GUN CONTROL - Maryland Juice just received an action alert from members of the Maryland Tea Party indicating that they don't plan on sitting on the sidelines during the gun control debate. They are now organizing a "day of resistance," and sent the following explanation:

POTOMAC TEA PARTY REPORT: Details will follow, but Hagerstown Tea Party board member Lynda Evans is taking the lead in organizing an event called The Western Maryland Day of Resistance  for the National Day of Resistance on February 23rd!

EVENT INFO: On January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions against your 2nd amendment Constitutional right to bear arms. He did this without the consent of Congress which in itself, violates the foundation of the Constitution and the co-equal branches of government.

In response to these unconstitutional actions by the President, on .223, February 23, 2013 the American people will stand together in defiance to protect the right that protects ALL of our rights, the 2nd Amendment! They will organize locally so that they may band together neighbor to neighbor and reassert their community's right to determine their own destiny!

Meanwhile, gun control activists have created a new organization in Maryland called, Marylanders Against Gun Violence. Their mission states, "MDAGV is a grassroots organization advocating for sensible gun control legislation in the Maryland General Assembly and in Congress." You can find them on Facebook for more information.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

JuiceBlender: Valerie Ervin Builds MoCo Exec Team, Anne Arundel Exec John Leopold Suspended & Transgender Rights

The late Del. Hattie Harrison

Below Maryland Juice highlights a few items of interest to politicos....

But before we begin the JuiceBlender, we note the recent passing of Delegate Hattie Harrison, a Democrat representing District 45 in the Maryland House. Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis commented, "From her appointment 40 years ago until today, Delegate Harrison served the people of Maryland with grace, honor, and distinction.

Delegate Harrison's legacy will live on in the lives of the many people she inspired. As the longest serving member of the House of Delegates, she broke though barriers time and again, including becoming the first African American woman to chair a major committee."

JUICE #1:  MOCO COUNCILMEMBER VALERIE ERVIN BEGINS ASSEMBLING 2014 COUNTY EXECUTIVE CAMPAIGN TEAM  - The Washington Post's Bill Turque yesterday reported that Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin has begun assembling a team for a County Executive run in 2014. Among the revelations in the article are rumors that Ervin is working with O'Malley-Brown pollster Fred Yang and political consultant Martha McKenna (formerly of the DSSC and EMILY's List). Morever, Ervin stated she would run regardless of incumbent Executive Ike Leggett's decision on his future (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, long mentioned as a possible candidate for county executive in 2014 , is moving closer to running. Ervin (D-Silver Spring) said she is in "serious discussions" with two national Democratic operatives, pollster Fred Yang and media consultant Martha McKenna, about roles in the campaign. Incumbent Isiah Leggett (D) has yet to announce whether he will seek a third term. But Ervin said if she runs, it will be regardless of whether Leggett is in or out....

MARC ELRICH WEIGHING POTENTIAL COUNTY EXECUTIVE CAMPAIGN - Though Valerie Ervin is not making a run for County Executive contingent on the actions of Ike Leggett, At Large Councilmember Marc Elrich is suggesting he may be a candidate if Leggett retires. After hearing rumors yesterday that Elrich had publicly discussed his possible bid, Maryland Juice asked Elrich about the race. Here's what he had to say:
MARC ELRICH: If Ike does not run, it is likely that I will, but I expect that he will decide to run again, in which case I'll support him.

PHIL ANDREWS BEGINS CANVASSING - Notably, The Washington Post article also took note of where MoCo Councilmember Phil Andrews was in his County Exec campaign: "Andrews said Monday that he doesn’t expect to hire either a pollster or media consultant. 'I’m out knocking on doors right now. That’s the best kind of poll to have,' he said." Coincidentally, two days ago a Maryland Juice reader contacted us on Twitter to report being door-knocked by Phil Andrews:

WHERE IS DOUG DUNCAN?: Perhaps driven by all of this chatter from County Executive candidates, The Baltimore Sun's John Fritze Tweeted an interesting question yesterday:

Indeed, former Exec Doug Duncan has been awfully quiet lately, after previously announcing he was running for MoCo Executive in 2014. Maryland Juice asked a source close to Duncan about this, and our contact stated that he was indeed still in the race. But that's not stopping reporters from wondering about Duncan's whereabouts. The Gazette's Kate Alexander today noted this abensence in an amusing article headlined, "Doug Duncan spent $33,000 to find out people remember him" (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: January campaign finance reports showed Duncan’s campaign paid $33,000 last May to Hickman Analytics of Chevy Chase for “cell and landline sample polling.”

When Duncan announced his race to supporters at a November breakfast, sources said he referenced a poll that showed him with favorable ratings....

Duncan, who has not responded to requests for comment since announcing his campaign, did not return calls seeking comment.

Hat tip: Maryland Reporter. Lastly, At Large Councilmember George Leventhal is also actively pursuing the County Exec office right now. Still no word from Ike Leggett!

JUICE #2:  ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY EXEC JOHN LEOPOLD FOUND GUILTY OF MISCONDUCT & SUSPENDED FROM OFFICE  - Maryland Juice previously discussed the bizarre saga surrounding Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold. The Republican politician has been under siege for months, due to accusations he misused the powers of his office in numerous ways -- including using police officers and government employees to: conduct political activities, enable affairs and sexual encounters, and even to dispose of his urine. But The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that Leopold was found guilty of two counts of misconduct and was suspended from office (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold has been suspended from office after being found guilty of two counts of misconduct Tuesday.

Circuit Court Judge Dennis M. Sweeney convicted the county executive for using his taxpayer-funded police protection detail to perform political duties and for requiring officers and an aide to empty the urinary catheter bag he used after back surgery.

County Attorney Jonathan A. Hodgson said Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond is now the acting county executive....

JUICE #3:  OVER TWENTY MARYLAND SENATORS CO-SPONSOR TRANSGENDER ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW // BILL POISED FOR PASSAGE  - After previously stalling in the Maryland State Senate, The Washington Blade yesterday reported that legislation to prohibit discrimination against transgender residents was introduced and already has over twenty co-sponsors (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BLADE: Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.
The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013 that gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced has more than 20 co-sponsors. These include state Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County.)....
Metro Weekly followed up with coverage indicating that the bill may now be on track for passage (excerpt below):
METRO WEEKLY: This new bill will first receive a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee sometime in the next month, after which the committee is expected to approve it and send it to the floor for a vote, if Miller consents. Advocates are confident they have the requisite number of votes needed to pass it in the upper chamber. It would then go to the House, where it is expected to pass easily....

JUICE #4:  ACTIVISTS PETITION LEGISLATURE FOR EQUAL FUNDING FOR MARYLAND'S HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES  - A few activists and organizations have contacted Maryland Juice regarding a renewed effort to seek equal funding for HBCU's in the Free State. The coalition of groups involved in the effort circulated the following action alert via BEST Democratic Club (excerpt below):
MARYLAND BLACK CAUCUS: On February 4, 2013 more than 2,000  students and supporters of Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities – including Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore - will converge on the Maryland State House to lobby legislators for increased funding to support these historically underfunded universities....

Click Here to sign the petition to urge Governor O'Malley to stand with Maryland's HBCUs then share it with your friends

As part of the Caucus’ push, they are calling on Governor O’Malley to find a just end to the six-year legal battle between the Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education in Maryland, which represents the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the State of Maryland.

Additionally, given that both parties have indicated that they would seek an appeal should they not prevail in the lawsuit, which could result in an additional six years of litigation, the Caucus is asking that Governor O’Malley provide for a special appropriation of $14 million per year in funding over the next five years, beginning in 2014....

A diverse coalition of groups supports this call to action. The initiative is backed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), CASA de Maryland, B.E.S.T. Democratic Club, Maryland Young Democrats, and the Sierra Club.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

JuiceBlender: Maryland Death Penalty Debate Brings Marriage Equality Dejavu, Garagiola vs. Cuomo, 60% of MD Dems Pro-Life

Below Maryland Juice provides a few updates on the status of the rapidly escalating movement for death penalty repeal in the Free State, but first we provide a little bit of context on the debate.

BACKGROUND: DEATH PENALTY DEBATE CREATES FEELINGS OF DEJAVU - The current drive to make government executions illegal in Maryland is giving me some serious dejavu. In particular, the fight to persuade lawmakers to support repeal is conjuring up parallels to our recent ridiculous debate about whether to grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Just as happened with marriage, Senate President Mike Miller is allowing death penalty repeal to proceed for a floor vote, even though he personally opposes the proposal.

And just as happened with marriage equality last year, progressives are now breathtakingly close to changing state law to make Maryland a more civilized state. Meanwhile, many of the same Democrats who dragged their feet on marriage equality over the years are also supporters of state executions (surprise, surprise). And once again, a majority of Democratic voters are on one side of the issue (ie: Maryland state government should not commit murder), while a super-majority of Republican voters are on the other side of the issue (ie: Maryland state government should commit murder).

Similar to the marriage equality debate, there is a strong (but not perfect) correlation between an elected official's choice of party and their views on the death penalty. But just as happened with marriage equality, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, Republican Senator Allan Kittleman is again thinking about joining a mostly Democratic legislative coalition in support of abolition. Notably, Kittleman was the only Republican to support marriage equality in the Maryland Senate. And just as with marriage equality, polling numbers are showing a rapid trend in the direction of social justice. Below we explore a few of these themes via JuiceBlender. Enjoy.

JUICE #1: STATE SENATOR ROB GARAGIOLA VS. MARIO CUOMO ON DEATH PENALTY REPEAL - Maryland Juice has been dismayed to see Democratic lawmakers representing safe, liberal districts voluntarily embracing legalized government murder as state policy in Maryland. For example, we've highlighted State Senator Rob Garagiola's support for taxpayer financing of Maryland state government employees committing premeditated murder, but we haven't yet heard why it is he's in favor of the death penalty.

KING MILLER'S POLICY LOGIC: Other pro-death Democrats like State Senator Mike Miller have stated why they want Maryland taxpayers to continue funding government executions. In comments appearing in this month, Miller basically stated he believes that some murder victims deserve more justice than others. He supports the death penalty for those who kill teachers in particular (excerpt below):
PATCH: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller would like to add to the list of capital punishment eligible cases.... "If someone's going to go to an elementary school classroom and kill a teacher, in my opinion teachers are the front line of democracy," Miller said.... Miller said he has six sisters who are teachers.

Though I can appreciate that Miller's consent has allowed the death penalty to repeal effort to proceed, I find it impossible to hold my tongue on this sort of offensive policy logic. Though I value the role of educators immensely, I'm not sure what factor (other than being the profession of the Senate President's family members) warrants the law granting greater or lesser measures of justice to victims based on their profession. It is even more gross considering that we are talking about the application of murder by the state. I don't know about you, but I do not want the Democratic leader of Maryland's Senate making decisions about life or death in such a regal and biased manner.

ROB GARAGIOLA EXPLAINS HIS SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES EXECUTING INMATES - In comments that appeared in The Baltimore Sun, Sen. Rob Garagiola explained why he supports having Maryland government employees execute inmates (excerpt):
ROB GARAGIOLA: "I think to myself, 'What if my daughter was a victim of one of these crimes, or a family member?'.... 'It's more from the gut,' Garagiola said."

MARIO CUOMO'S REBUTTAL TO ROB GARAGIOLA'S GUT  - Garagiola's explanation is an obvious and common argument from death penalty supporters. Perhaps influenced by Dukakis' fumbles on this issue, politicians often explain their views on capital punishment after imagining what they would want if the victim was their family member. This vengeance-based explanation is closely related to Mike Miller's impulse to expand the death penalty to include those who murder teachers. But former New York Governor Mario Cuomo -- often thought of as the conscience of the Democratic Party -- has handled this argument well for years.

Cuomo essentially asks policymakers not to make their decisions from the viewpoint of a crime victim's grieving loved one. He urges lawmakers to resist their negative impulses and instead govern from the best part of their hearts, rather than from the perspective of their darkest moments. He reiterated this view most recently in a 2011 column that appeared in the NY Daily News. Years after leaving public office in New York, Cuomo is still trying to get the law off the books, even though the death penalty has been effectively dismantled in the state. I must admit that his views track very closely to mine on this issue, and as a result, I find myself questioning the fitness for public office from those who believe executions are legitimate public policy tools. I hate to be harsh, but that's honestly how I feel about the matter (see below):
MARIO CUOMO: I have studied the death penalty for more than half my lifetime. I have debated it hundreds of times. I have heard all the arguments, analyzed all the evidence I could find, measured public opinion when it was opposed to the practice, when it was indifferent, and when it was passionately in favor. Always I have concluded the death penalty is wrong because it lowers us all; it is a surrender to the worst that is in us; it uses a power  - the official power to kill by execution  - that has never elevated a society, never brought back a life, never inspired anything but hate.

And it has killed many innocent people.... All states should do as the bold few have done and officially outlaw this form of punishment....

People have a right to demand a civilized level of law and peace. They have a right to expect it, and when at times it appears to them that a murder has been particularly egregious, it is not surprising that the public anger is great and demands some psychic satisfaction.

I understand that. I have felt the anger myself, more than once. Like too many other citizens, I know what it is to be violated and even to have one's closest family violated through despicable criminal behavior. Even today, I tremble at the thought of how I might react to a killer who took the life of someone in my own family. I know that I might not be able to suppress my anger or put down a desire for revenge, but I also know this society should strive for something better than what it feels at its weakest moments....

Cuomo also wrote about his efforts fending off the death penalty as New York Governor, despite the seeming bloodlust from the New York public:
MARIO CUOMO: For 12 years as governor, I prevented the death penalty from becoming law in New York by my vetoes. But for all that time, there was a disconcertingly strong preference for the death penalty in the general public....

New York returned to the death penalty shortly after I was defeated by a Republican candidate.... That law is a stain on our conscience. The 46 executions in the United States in 2008 were, I believe, an abomination....

Note that Cuomo's condemnation of vengeance-based policymaking is right on target with the death penalty, but it could also be applied to many other areas of policy where a stubborn minority of Democrats disappoint on issues (eg: war and militarism issues). Indeed, the death penalty has always been a primary proxy issue for Maryland Juice; I think it reveals much about a lawmakers policy mindset.

JUICE #2: POLL SHOWS 60% OF MARYLAND DEMOCRATS OPPOSE DEATH PENALTY VS. 77% OF REPUBLICANS IN SUPPORT - Now that we let Mario Cuomo have his say, we can get back to more tacky reasons to support death penalty repeal. Numerous news outlets are buzzing with commentary about the latest poll of Marylanders views on the death penalty. According to a recent Gonzales survey, 60% of Maryland Democrats oppose the death penalty and two in three respondents would support life in prison without parole instead of death. Indeed, support for executions comes heavily from Republicans and then some independents -- two groups that cannot vote in Democratic primaries. Bottom line: the death penalty is not even a winner for candidates in Democratic Primaries, and if anything it would appear to be a liability for a Democrat seeking statewide office in the 2014 primaries. Check out a quick summary from the Gonzales poll below:

Maryland Juice recently appeared (via telephone) on Bruce Depuyt's News Channel 8 show to discuss these and other poll results:

JUICE #3: ACTIVISTS RALLY IN ANNAPOLIS FOR MARYLAND DEATH PENALTY  - Yesterday, dozens of anti-death penalty activists rallied in Annapolis, and some brought multiple affiliations to the event:

CBS Baltimore carried the following TV coverage of the rally:

JUICE #4: DEAD MAN WALKING & HEATHER MIZEUR  - Del. Heather Mizeur, who is currently exploring a run for Governor, brought some advocacy starpower to the death penalty debate recently. She penned an op. ed. with Sister Helen Prejean of Dead Man Walking fame that appeared in The Baltimore Sun. Their comments highlight numerous policy flaws with the death penalty (excerpt below):
SISTER HELEN PREJEAN & HEATHER MIZEUR: We are all united in the belief that capital punishment is a uniquely severe and irreversible component of our legal system that neither deters crime nor guarantees justice. States that impose capital punishment do not have lower rates of criminal homicide. Indeed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that states with the death penalty generally have the highest murder rates. A national survey of chiefs of police ranked the death penalty as one of the least effective ways to reduce violent crime....

In Maryland, 76 percent of murder victims are African American, yet all of the men sitting on death row are there for killing a white person. A Maryland commission concluded that black offenders killing white victims were at greater risk of a death sentence because they were more likely to be charged with a capital offense by the state's attorney....
Life in prison is smarter economically, too. Taxpayers are expected to benefit from a $1.4 million reduction in litigation costs after the first year of repeal, and $800,000 in savings the year after.

Put simply, the death penalty does not make us safer; it does not save us money; it does not work; and it cannot be fixed. It must be abandoned....

JUICE #5: FLASHBACK TO KIRK BLOODSWORTH, AMERICA'S FIRST DEATH ROW INMATE EXONERATED THROUGH DNA - Many Free State residents seem unaware that the very first person to be exonerated from death row through DNA testing was a Marylander named Kirk Bloodsworth. CNN had a short summary of his trials and tribulations, and I hope the story gives Maryland Juice readers pause about the death penalty (excerpt below):
CNN: Kirk Bloodsworth is a free man now. He is free to pursue a living as a crab and commercial fisherman in his hometown of Cambridge, on Maryland's rustic Eastern Shore. He got married last year and bought a new fishing boat two years ago.

He lives simply and works hard -- just the type of life he dreamed of when he was incarcerated for nine years, twice convicted of brutally raping and killing a 9-year-old girl outside Baltimore in 1984. He spent one year awaiting trial, two years on death row and six years serving a life sentence.

Bloodsworth, 39, won his freedom after taking a DNA test. In 1992, when the science of forensic DNA testing was in its infancy, Bloodsworth pushed for a test in which the DNA in a small semen stain on the girl's panties would be compared to his DNA. It was not a match. The state of Maryland set him free and paid him $300,000 for wrongful imprisonment.

"They basically railroaded me," Bloodsworth said. "They put me on a rail and let me go where they wanted me to go....I was not involved. It's not fair for Baltimore County to do what they did to me and still not give me an apology. To this day, they won't...."

Come on, are we really debating this???

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gov. Martin O'Malley Appoints Former Del. Darren Swain to Tiffany Alston's D24 House Seat // PG Dems' Choices Rejected

Del. Darren Swain
OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE OLD: An anonymous source brings Maryland Juice readers news that Prince George's County residents in Maryland's District 24 now have a new member of the House of Delegates.

Gov. Martin O'Malley today announced he has chosen former Delegate Darren Swain to fulfill the remainder of Tiffany Alston's term. Notably, Swain was not one of the three names recently submitted for recommendation by the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee.

Previously, the saga to fill the D24 seat brought lawsuits from Greg Hall (an activist who was originally nominated for the vacancy) and Tiffany Alston. But Maryland courts ruled that O'Malley had ultimate authority to select a replacement, in this instance. See the Governor's press release below:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

MoCo JuiceBlender: County Officials Push Gun Control, Robin Ficker Defeats MoCo Speed Camera, Towson's Bethesda Crush?

UPDATE: County Exec Ike Leggett's office has provided a clarification about the impact of Robin Ficker's court victory over a MoCo speed camera. They note that the Judge's decision in the case "does not establish a precedent that will be binding in other cases presented in court, and the decision in this case does not require a modification of Department policy.  The Department will not be reviewing other cases in which citations were issued by this speed camera."

On another note, gun control activists have created a new organization in Maryland called, Marylanders Against Gun Violence. Their mission states, "MDAGV is a grassroots organization advocating for sensible gun control legislation in the Maryland General Assembly and in Congress." You can find them on Facebook for more information. Additionally, given the surge in interest in gun control from Montgomery County residents, you can watch Ike Leggett discuss Maryland's gun control efforts in a recent News Channel 8 interview:

JUICE #1: MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICIALS PUSHING FOR GUN CONTROL IN MARYLAND - With the recent surge in support for gun control measures, Montgomery County politicians are moving quickly to take advantage of the moment. The latest email newsletter from MoCo Council President Nancy Navarro announced a few efforts from MoCo officials relating to gun control efforts (excerpt below):
Council works with Board of Education to accelerate placing new security measures in all county schools: Four years ago, the Council provided funding for MCPS to install access control systems, camera systems, and visitor management systems in County schools.... On Monday, January 7th, Council Education Committee Chair Valerie Ervin and myself sent a letter to Board of Education President Chris Barclay asking MCPS to speed up implementation of new these security measures at schools across the county. The next day, the Board of Education voted to act on our recommendation, and requested that we release about $365,000 earlier than planned so that they can finish installing these systems by the end of the school year....

Message to state and federal lawmakers: we need better gun control laws: On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Council passed a resolution to send a clear message to our representatives in the state legislature and in Congress that Montgomery County wants action on gun control. The resolution calls for the Governor and state legislature to consider and implement the recently released recommendations of the Maryland Task Force to Study Access of Individuals with Mental Illness to Regulated Firearms, and for state and federal officials to take a number of other common sense steps to reduce the number of dangerous guns in the hands of criminals or mentally ill individuals who may harm themselves or others....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

UPDATE: Sam Arora Clarifies Explanation of Marriage Equality Flip-Flop // BTW: Arora Has Less Than $3,000 Cash on Hand

BACKGROUND: Maryland Juice recently published televised comments from Democratic lawmaker Sam Arora where he attempted to explain why he betrayed a promise to support marriage equality legislation. His convoluted response implied that I personally had some sort of political agenda in asking about his flip-flop. Moreover, Arora strangely claimed that he was in fact a supporter of equal rights. This last claim baffled many marriage equality advocates and led an anonymous source to weigh in with harsh comments (excerpt below):
ANONYMOUS SOURCE #1: As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the formal legislative record of him ever exercising his tiny little brain to actually draft an amendment and submit it for his colleagues consideration.  Once again -- he is trying to rewrite history -- and avoid the legitimate scrutiny that his lies deserve....

ARORA CLARIFIES HIS FLIP-FLOP (KIND OF) - Today The Washington Blade followed up with additional coverage of Sam Arora's explanation of his marriage equality flip-flop. Sam responded to a media call from The Blade by revealing evidence of the amendment he was talking about. It turns out that Arora joined Delegates Tiffany Alston and Geraldine Valentino-Smith in trying to turn the marriage equality bill into a civil unions bill. But Arora declined to mention that Alston ultimately voted for the marriage equality bill, while he voted against it. Check out a quick excerpt from The Blade's coverage:
WASHINGTON BLADE:  Maryland Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) - who campaigned on a pledge to support a marriage equality bill then voted against it -  has offered his first public explanation for the vote.

"A lot of us wanted the goal of full legal equality for all couples," Arora said during a Jan. 8 segment of NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt in response to a question from David Moon of Maryland Juice, a website that covers state politics....

Arora also referenced an amendment that he, Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s County) and former Del. Tiffany Alston introduced that would have replaced marriage with civil unions in the bill - he directed the Washington Blade to it in response to a request for comment on Moon’s question....
The Blade also published comments from Del. Mary Washington highlighting that civil unions were not a serious alternative to the marriage equality legislation being debated at the time:
DEL. MARY WASHINGTON: "We were pushing for full marriage equality and that civil unions has been found to be inadequate," she said. "In fact states that have civil unions are actually now looking to full marriage equality...."

Anne Arundel Councilmember Jamie Benoit Announces Retirement from Public Life in 2014 // No Run for Executive

Back to civilian life for Councilmember Jamie Benoit.

BENOIT: "Elect people competent to run our County government"

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST - Maryland Juice received the following email from Anne Arundel County Councilmember Jamie Benoit announcing his retirement from public office in 2014. Benoit, a Democrat representing District 4 on the County Council, also specified that he would not be running for County Executive or other office. His message did, however, leave open the possibility of a return to office in 2018:
JAMIE BENOIT: I am writing today because I count you among my friends. I am grateful for the support and guidance you have given to me since I took office 6 years ago. Over the past few months, many people have urged me to stay in elective office. Not at all satisfied with the candidates running for County Executive in 2014 or the state of affairs in our County today, I have spent several months considering a run of my own.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Del. Aisha Braveboy Announces Run for Maryland Attorney General // Four Candidates In 2014 Democratic Primary Race

I'm not sure how this slipped under my radar, but a Maryland Juice source pointed out that Delegate Aisha Braveboy announced a run for Attorney General almost two weeks ago! Our source attended a fundraiser for Braveboy and confirmed that she announced a 2014 Democratic Primary run at the January 3rd event. Delegate Jolene Ivey also Tweeted about the news from her Prince George's colleague:

Aisha Braveboy represents District 25 in Maryland's House of Delegates. Below you can read some bio information that appears on her campaign website:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Delegate Bill Frick Exploring 2014 Attorney General Campaign // MoCo Democrat Hires Former Campaign Aide to John Delaney

MoCo Delegate Bill Frick in BALTIMORE - August 2012

Right now, numerous Maryland politicos are picking through campaign finance reports trying to get a read on what people are up to ahead of the 2014 election cycle. The Baltimore Sun, for example, covered the fundraising totals in Maryland's Attorney General race and noted: "Sen. Brian E. Frosh took a more than 2-to-1 lead in the money race over another Democratic lawmaker known to be considering a race for attorney general in 2014, newly filed campaign finance reports show." Indeed, at this moment, there are only two candidates actively campaigning for AG: State Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Jon Cardin.

DELEGATE BILL FRICK WEIGHING ATTORNEY GENERAL 2014 - But it seems that Frosh and Cardin may soon face competition from another Democrat, Delegate Bill Frick. You may ask why I think that, but I got a good clue when I received a press statement from a consultant working for Frick:
ANDREW FELDMAN: Del. Frick is looking into running for the position of Attorney General, as he expressed this to folks over the last couple weeks of the fundraising period he received a lot of strong encouragement and support.
Delegate Frick has hired a former campaign aide to newly elected Congressman John Delaney for his exploratory operation. Andrew Feldman, who recently launched Feldman Strategies, confirms he is working with Frick.

Bill Frick is currently an attorney at Akin Gump and has served in the Maryland House since 2007. Here's a quick bio from his campaign website:
ABOUT BILL FRICK: Delegate Bill Frick is a proud Marylander, born and raised in Montgomery County. Bill credits his upbringing in Montgomery County and his education in the Montgomery County Public School system for instilling in him a strong belief in public service. After graduating from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Bill earned degrees from Northwestern University and Harvard Law. He practices law with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, a leading national law firm in Washington.

Bill has served in the House of Delegates since 2007, where he has been a leader on consumer financial protection and the fight against predatory marketing.  For his efforts on consumer issus, Bill was named the state’s most promising legislator by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition in 2010.  Bill serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and chairs that committee’s Revenues Subcommittee.  In his time in the General Assembly, Bill has taken on powerful interests including credit card companies, Pepco, and the liquor lobby.  A committed environmentalist and graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, Bill has a lifetime score of over 90% with the League of Conservation Voters.  Finally, Bill has worked to protect and promote local businesses and non-profit institutions, including 2012 legislation that will help leverage state bank deposits to foster loans to Maryland small businesses.

Bill is a devoted father and husband. He lives in Bethesda with his wife, Bethany, and “the Fricklets,” Katie and Charlie.
Notably, Frick and Frosh both represent the same constituents in Montgomery County's District 16. Below you can see the fundraising totals for the now three candidates publicly exploring runs for Attorney General.

Del. Bill Frick
  • Raised in 2012: $38,530 (raised since Nov. 21, 2012)
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $60,352

Sen. Brian Frosh
  • Raised in 2012: $325,271
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $390,655

Del. Jon Cardin
  • Raised in 2012: $170,224
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $117,514

District 16 Team Campaigning Together July 2012

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saqib Ali Announces 2014 Run for State Legislature on Facebook // Former Delegate Seeks Office in District 39

UPDATES: The Facebook post has now been taken down. Also, I just noticed that the message below doesn't specify a run for State House or State Senate. Hmm.

Lastly, it is worth noting that there doesn't appear to be any campaign finance activity from Saqib Ali yet. That means he will likely be starting his fundraising from scratch. More on this story soon!

A Maryland Juice source has tipped us off to a notable post on former Delegate Saqib Ali's Facebook page.  Through a message sent via mobile phone, Ali announced, "I'll be running for a seat in Maryland's State Legislature from Maryland's 39th District in 2014" (see image below).

District 39 is currently represented by State Senator Nancy King (who defeated Saqib Ali in a 2010 Democratic Primary), and three incumbent Delegates: Charles Barkley, Kirill Reznik and Shane Robinson. Notably, to my knowledge, none of the incumbents has announced they are retiring.

Since the most recent campaign reports just got posted, I thought it might be interesting to take a look and see how much money the incumbents had in the bank.

Sen. Nancy King
  • 2012: Raised $31,815
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $49,214

Del. Charles Barkley 
  • 2012: Raised $37,000 
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $59,631

Del. Kirill Reznik
  • 2012: Raised $20,101
  • 2013 Cash on Hand $28,592

Del. Shane Robinson
  • 2012: Raised $3,030
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $2,123

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cash On Hand in Maryland 2014 Governor's Race: Gansler $5.2 million, Ulman $2.1 million, Brown $1.63 million, Mizeur $380k

Money isn't everything, but the rate and aggregate haul of cash in the 2014 Governor's race are still interesting metrics. Maryland Juice just received the press release below indicating that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has raised $1.25 million. A quick check of the campaign finance report linked below shows he now has $1.63 million cash on hand.

Notably, Attorney General Doug Gansler is claiming $5.2 million cash on hand, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman is reporting $2.1 million in the bank. Meanwhile, Delegate Heather Mizeur has announced $380,000 cash on hand so far. See press releases from Brown and Mizeur below:


MITCHELLVILLE, Md. (January 16, 2013) - Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown released the following statements on his fundraising numbers for this reporting period, showing $1.25 million raised.

The fundraising report showed Brown raised $1.25 million in the last year, outpacing others in the state and indicating that Brown's fundraising base continues to grow. The total is Brown's strongest report yet, and comes in addition to the money he raised for President Obama's re-election effort, the Maryland Democratic Party, and Ballot Questions 4 and 6.

"I am pleased with our fundraising success and honored to have the support of so many people across Maryland," said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. "I look forward to continuing to move Maryland forward with the help of thousands of committed friends and neighbors."

"Thanks to the incredible momentum of the last year, we will have the resources to communicate Anthony's vision for a stronger economy, a stronger education system, and a responsive and accountable government," said Finance Chair Martin Knott, Jr. "And that is what ultimately matters to voters."

Click here to see the top page of Lt. Governor Brown's fundraising report.



Delegate Heather Mizeur Outpaces Equivalent O'Malley Fundraising

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Delegate Heather Mizeur will issue her annual 2013 finance report later today. Friends of Heather Mizeur will report raising $248,671 in 2012, with over $380,000 cash on hand.

In the ten weeks from November 1st to January 9th, Mizeur raised $155,671. In the equivalent period before his re-election fight, Governor Martin O’Malley raised only $93,976.

Over 64% of Mizeur's contributors were grassroots donors who gave $100 or less.

"In every corner of the state, voters tell me they want a Governor with clear ideas for the future and a track record of results. I'm honored that so many are encouraging me to run, and I will never stop working to strengthen our economy, protect our natural resources, and ensure that every Marylander receives equal protections and rights under the law," Mizeur said.

“We're thrilled with the breadth and energy of the coalition urging Heather to enter this race," said Mizeur's Chief of Staff, Joanna Belanger. "There are big things to come in 2013."


JuiceBlender: Don Dwyer Blames Boating Accident on Gay Marriage, O'Malley Prioritizes Death Penalty, Greg Hall Update

Below Maryland Juice highlights a few articles that may be of interest to Free State politicos, starting with some amazingly disingenuous excuses from Tea Party lawmaker Don Dwyer:

JUICE #1: MARYLAND GOP LAWMAKER DON DWYER BLAMES DRUNK BOATING ACCIDENT ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY - Media figures are beginning to highlight (and deride) amazing comments that Delegate Don Dwyer made about his drunk boating accident. As you may recall, Dwyer (a supposed "family values" -- read: anti-gay -- politician) admitted being trashed on booze when he crashed his boat, resulting in an accident that left several children seriously injured. Now he's blaming the accident on marriage equality (translation: blaming it on the gays): The Washington Blade reported on Dwyer's outrageous comments (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BLADE: A Maryland lawmaker told a local newspaper last week that legislators who voted for the state’s same-sex marriage bill contributed to his alcohol abuse. Delegate Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) told the Maryland Gazette in an interview the newspaper posted to its website on Saturday that he felt “betrayed” when Dels. Wade Koch (R-Baltimore County) and Robert Costa (R-Anne Arundel County) and then-Del. Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George’s County) in Feb. 2012 backed for the measure that Gov. Martin O’Malley eventually signed into law....
Dwyer's attempt to blame his drunk boating accident on marriage equality was met with derision on the Internet, as best represented by the following headline on the Wonkette blog: Drunky Maryland Pol: Gay Marriage Crashed That Boat, Injured That 5-Year-Old Girl (excerpt below):
WONKETTE: It is not funny that Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer drunkenly crashed his boat last year, fracturing the skull of a five-year-old girl. But it is funny that he is blaming gay marriage for the alcoholism that made him drunkenly crash his boat last year, fracturing the skull of a five-year-old girl! Oh, did we say “funny”?...

DC101 DJ Mike Jones commented on the radio station's Facebook page: "The Maryland gay marriage vote caused him to drink. Could be the biggest BS politician excuse I've ever heard. -mike jones"

JUICE #2: O'MALLEY TO MAKE DEATH PENALTY REPEAL A LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY - The likelihood of finally banning government executions in Maryland increased greatly this week. News outlets and advocates are reporting that Gov. Martin O’Malley will sponsor death penalty repeal legislation and put the weight of his office behind the effort in Annapolis. Check out the following report from The Death Penalty Information Center (excerpt below):
DEATH PENALTY INFORMATION CENTER: On January 15 at a press conference with leaders of the NAACP, Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley announced he will be making the repeal of capital punishment a priority in the upcoming legislative session and will submit a repeal bill to the legislature later this week. Among the concerns about the death penalty expressed by the governor were its high costs and the lack of any benefit to society: "Is it worth wasting taxpayer dollars on a policy that does not work?" Senate President Mike Miller, who supports the death penalty, said the bill will be given a vote in the full Senate and will likely pass this year. Maryland has not had an execution or death sentence since 2005, and the state's lethal injection procedures have not been approved by the courts.
The Washington Post highlighted the potential impact of O'Malley's leadership on the issue (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Though the governor’s decision does not guarantee passage, “it makes a huge difference,” said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where repeal bills have stalled in past years....
A repeal “can’t get done without the governor, and having his active engagement will be vital,” said Frosh, who favors the abolishment of capital punishment.
With O’Malley’s name on the bill, it is certain to get heightened media attention, as well as the focus of a team of lobbyists employed by the governor’s office and personal attention from O’Malley himself....

JUICE #3: PRINCE GEORGE'S DEMOCRATS RETRACT GREG HALL'S NOMINATION FOR TIFFANY ALSTON'S DELEGATE SEAT  //  3 NEW NAMES SUBMITTED - The unusual saga surrounding efforts to appoint a replacement for former Delegate Tiffany Alston (District 24) lurched forward today. As you may recall, the Prince George's Democratic Central Committee's (PGDCC) choice for the seat was activist Greg Hall. But news of Hall's dark past gave some PGDCC members pause and last night they voted to revoke his nomination. The Prince George's Democrats also forwarded three new names to Gov. O'Malley. Check out the report from The Gazette (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: The Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee revoked its nominee to fill a vacant delegate seat Tuesday night, leaving the task of filling the seat firmly in the hands of the governor.

In a contentious meeting that saw Greg Hall, the committee's original choice, trading barbs with committee Chair Terry Speigner, the committee put forward three non-binding recommendations that Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is free to disregard if he chooses....

"At the end of the day, the governor gets what he wants, and Prince George's County once again gets screwed," Hall said....

The Washington Post described the three new nominees for the District 24 seat as follows (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: O'Malley's spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said the governor "will take into consideration" the panel's recommendations. They are: Vicky L. Orem, an orphans' court judge; Clayton Aarons, an attorney; and Phillip Raines, a defense contractor.

Photo Sources: Gazette, Twitter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

WATCH: Sam Arora Finally Explains Why He Voted Against Marriage Equality // Maryland Juice Corners Him on Live TV

UPDATE: MORE LIES FROM SAM ARORA - AmericaBlog is now weighing in on Sam Arora's explanation for the marriage equality flip-flop, and it sounds like they aren't buying it: "Sam Arora claims didn’t do 180 on gay marriage." In addition, an anonymous reader calls Sam Arora a pathological liar and says his new videotaped response contains more lies. They challenge his assertion that he proposed an amendment to the marriage equality law:
ANONYMOUS READER: At about 1:56 into the first clip -- Sam states "I proposed an amendment" to the marriage bill, suggesting that he was somehow involved in trying to find a path to legal equality for same sex couples (?) other than civil marriage.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the formal legislative record of him ever exercising his tiny little brain to actually draft an amendment and submit it for his colleagues consideration.  Once again -- he is trying to rewrite history -- and avoid the legitimate scrutiny that his lies deserve.

All of the amendments submitted to the marriage bill, in both House & Senate Committees, as well as on the floor of both chambers are shown in the links below.  There is no amendment of any kind offered by Arora - not in Committee and not in the full House.  Note that in 2011 Delegate Cheryl Glenn tried to amend the bill  to civil unions and this failed.  Similarly in 2012, Don Dwyer tried to amend the marriage to civil unions, but this also failed.

In 2011, Sam voted to allow the marriage bill out of Judiciary Committee, and later stated that he did this so that it could be considered on the full floor of the House -- not because he supported the bill.  On the day that the bill was considered in the full House (when it was recommited to the Judiciary Committee without a vote), Sam spoke to the Speaker of the House and told him that if it came for a vote, he (Sam) would vote against the marriage bill. 
In 2012, the gutless weasel abstained from voting when it was considered in Judiciary Committee (because he was hoping it would fail again, and that he would be able to assert factually that he never "voted against" the marriage bill).  Ultimately, he had to vote on the marriage bill in the full House, and he voted against it.

Here are links to the legislative record for the Civil Marriage Protection Act for 2011 & 2012:

SB 116 - 2011:

HB 438 - 2012:
SAM ARORA EXPLAINS HIS BETRAYAL ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY (KIND OF) - Below Maryland Juice features Sam Arora's long-awaited explanation for why he voted against marriage equality legislation after claiming he would support it. Last week Sam appeared on News Channel 8's NewsTalk show with host Bruce Depuyt. The freshman member of the Maryland House was asked to preview issues that will be debated in this year's legislative session. But as in the past, News 8 took live calls for their studio guest. Maryland Juice couldn't resist the opportunity to call in and finally try and get an answer out of the secretive lawmaker. In his bizarre and convoluted response, Sam Arora now appears to claim that he was in support of equal rights for same-sex couples. Watch below:
BACKGROUND: Last year, Maryland lawmaker Sam Arora made himself the focal point of national civil rights organizing when he betrayed a campaign promise to support marriage equality (see eg: Sam Arora's Equality Maryland survey promising to co-sponsor marriage equality legislation). Indeed, with LGBT rights advocates struggling to find enough votes for passage in the Maryland House, Arora's turncoat behavior created an extremely tense and uncertain environment.
Ultimately, we know that marriage equality would come to be signed into law and approved by a majority of voters. But even still, Sam Arora's friends, colleagues and constituents have sought an explanation for his betrayal. To this date, they have not received a substantive response. Notably, Sam campaigned on the issue and sought donations from marriage equality supporters. Everyone from Bill Clinton to Kal Penn (aka Kumar from Harold & Kumar) tried to contact him and ask him to keep his promise. As a result of this failure, many have felt that there needs to be a deterrent effect for potential future backstabbers.  Based on Sam's interview below, it seems unlikely they will get what they are looking for without a direct electoral challenge for his seat in 2014.

In any case, below you can watch Sam Arora's explanation for why he voted against marriage equality. I isolated his comments on the issue for the YouTube video below, but I also included his full interview at the bottom of this post.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

JuiceBlender: MD House Speaker Announces New Committee Members, Garagiola Firmly Supports Death Penalty & More!

Below Maryland Juice highlights a few noteworthy tidbits for Free State politicos:

JUICE #1 // FUNNY: BANKRUPT MARYLAND REPUBLICANS - Maryland Juice recently caught this amusing image and caption on the #mdpolitics feed on Twitter:

Day 3 of 2013 session. I never thought they'd be so upfront about it...  #mdpolitics #annapolis 

JUICE #2 // NOT FUNNY: SEN. ROB GARAGIOLA FIRMLY SUPPORTS GOVERNMENT EXECUTIONS: With the big push progressives are making to repeal the death penalty in Maryland, it appears that they cannot yet count on support from State Senator Rob Garagiola (who was recently endorsed by numerous progressive groups like MoveOn in his recent run for Congress). Check out the following excerpt from The Baltimore Sun's coverage:

Garagiola firm on keeping death penalty

A Montgomery County senator whose vote death penalty opponents had hoped to sway this year said Friday that he is firmly committed to keeping capital punishment on the books.... Garagiola is the lone senator from Montgomery County who supports retention of the death penalty.... With his vote unavailable, the path to the minimum 24 votes to pass a bill becomes a bit narrower.

JUICE #3 // MARYLAND HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE BUSCH ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE SHUFFLES: A Maryland Juice source forwarded us the following press release from the office of Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch. The Democratic leader has made some changes to the leadership and committee membership in the Maryland House. Details below:


ANNAPOLIS, MD – House Speaker Michael E. Busch today announced committee assignments for six standing committees in the House of Delegates, as well as appointments to new leadership positions.  In the upcoming session, Appropriations, Economic Matters, and Environmental Matters each will have 24, Health & Government Operations will have 23 and Judiciary and Ways & Means will each have 22 members.

The committees are balanced to reflect the demographic, geographic and party makeup of the legislature.

The following Delegates were appointed today.  Delegates not included on this list will maintain their current committee assignments.

  • Delegate Anne Healey (District 22), Chair, House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee
  • Delegate Jay Walker (District 26), Vice Chair, House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee
  • Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg (District 41), House Chair, Administrative, Executive, Legislative Review Committee
  • Delegate Frank Turner (District 13), Vice Chairman, Ways and Means Committee
  • Delegate Benjamin Barnes (District 21), Chief Deputy Majority Whip
  • Delegate Shawn Tarrant (District 40), Chief Deputy Majority Whip
  • Delegate Anne Kaiser (District 14), Vice Chair, House Democratic Caucus
  • Delegate Hattie Harrison (District 45), Chairman Emeritus
  • Delegate Rudolph Cane (District 37A), Assistant Speaker Pro Tem

  • Delegate Guy Guzzone (District 13), Chair, Public Safety & Administration Subcommittee
  • Delegate Craig Zucker (District 14), Vice Chair, Public Safety & Administration Subcommittee
  • Delegate Keith Haynes (District 44), Delegate Steve DeBoy (District 12A), and Delegate Craig Zucker (District 14) are new members of the Capital Budget Subcommittee, representing Baltimore City, Baltimore and Montgomery Counties.

  • Delegate Galen Clagett (District 3A)

  • Delegate Glen Glass (District 34B)
  • Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg (District 41)

  • Delegate Eric Luedtke (District 14), Chair, Financial Resources Subcommittee
  • Delegate Don Dwyer (District 31)
  • Delegate Alonzo Washington (District 22)
# # #