Thursday, January 9, 2014

JUICE: Final List of Names for Ervin's MoCo Council Seat, 2014 Annapolis Priorities, Del. Don Dwyer Removed from Committee


Below Maryland Juice provides a round-up of news items relating to politics and economic development:

JUICE #1: FINAL LIST OF APPLICANTS FOR VALERIE ERVIN'S COUNCIL VACANCY // JAY HUTCHINS & FORMER DEL. HERMAN TAYLOR ROUND OUT LIST OF 18 NAMES - Yesterday was the deadline for Democrats in Montgomery County's Council District 5 to apply for the seat recently vacated by Valerie Ervin. Below Maryland Juice provides the full list of eighteen (!!!) applicants for the interim appointment:
  1. Alan Bowser
  2. Cherri Branson
  3. Esther Stein Chayt
  4. Michael Diegel
  5. Jeanette Dixon
  6. Larry E. Edmonds
  7. Ronald Galvin, Jr.
  8. Jay Hutchins III
  9. Arthur Jackson, Jr.
  10. Kim Jones
  11. Andrew Kleine
  12. Iris Lewis
  13. Timothy Male
  14. Harold McDougall
  15. Herman Taylor *
  16. Dale Tibbitts
  17. Daniel L. Wilhelm
  18. Mark Woodard
* Currently resides in District 5 -- will update voter registration from District 4 prior to appointment

One of the more interesting new names on this list is Jay Hutchins, who was the runner-up to Sam Arora in the 2010 Democratic Primary for District 19 House of Delegates. Also of note is an application by former District 14 Delegate Herman Taylor.

JUICE #2: GOP DELEGATE DON DWYER STRIPPED OF SEAT ON HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE - The Capitol Gazette reported today that at the start of Maryland's 2014 legislative session, embattled Delegate Don Dwyer has been removed from his seat on the House Ways & Means Committee (excerpt below):
CAPITAL GAZETTE: For the second time in a year, Del. Don Dwyer will be removed from a House of Delegates committee. House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, said Thursday he was removing Dwyer, R-Pasadena, from the House Ways and Means Committee “to protect the integrity of the institution of the House of Delegates.” Dwyer is expected to lose his seat Friday. Dwyer was sentenced in October 2013 to 30 consecutive weekends in jail for drunken driving. He will spend most weekends during the 2014 General Assembly in confinement. Stripped of his committee position, Dwyer will only be able to debate and cast votes on the House floor for the remainder of the session....

JUICE #3: DEL. LUIZ SIMMONS CALLS FOR "CLEAN CAMPAIGN PLEDGE" IN D17 STATE SENATE CONTEST - Maryland Juice received the following press release from Delegate Luiz Simmons calling for a "clean campaign pledge" from rival candidate Cheryl Kagan in the District 17 State Senate primary:

Del. Luiz Simmons Proposes Clean Campaign Pledge in State Senate Race
Says residents deserve honest, fair campaign - free from mudslinging

Rockville, MD – Today, District 17 State Senate candidate and current State Delegate Luiz Simmons proposed the “No Mudslinging in Maryland Pledge.”  This pledge would ensure a clean campaign in the race to represent Rockville and Gaithersburg in the State Senate.

The 2010 State Senate campaign between State Senator Jennie Forhand and Cheryl Kagan was called “the most negative campaign in District 17 history.”

“The voters in District 17 deserve a campaign that is honest, fair and focuses on the issues.  There is no place for the politics of personal destruction in this race,” said Delegate Luiz Simmons.  “I urge my opponent, Cheryl Kagan to sign this pledge today.”

The No Mudslinging in Maryland Pledge says the following:

As primary candidates for the office of State Senator, District 17, we hereby agree that the people of Maryland deserve better than a negative campaign.  They deserve a campaign on the issues most important to them – not one full of cheap, divisive attacks. 

During the primary campaign, we pledge the following:
  1. To avoid personal attacks against our opponents. We will not engage in a smear campaign, negative character attacks, defamation, or false accusations against any opponent.
  2. To avoid distortions and misrepresentations of our opponents’ records and positions. This includes distortions in the media, campaign literature, advertisements, mailings and speaking engagements.
  3. We hereby instruct members of our campaign teams, including staff, advisors and volunteers, to agree to these same terms.

JUICE #4: TOWN OF CHEVY CHASE SEEKS TO SPEND $360,000 ON LAWYERS TO BATTLE PURPLE LINE - Leaders in the Town of Chevy Chase, who have been battling the proposed light rail "Purple Line"' project, held a public hearing last night to discuss whether to spend $360,000 on attorneys to tackle one of Montgomery County's top transportation priorities. The item was included in the town's recent community newsletter (excerpt below):
TOWN OF CHEVY CHASE: At its Wednesday, January 8 meeting, the Town Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to engage a law firm to assist the Town in continuing to respond to the proposed Purple Line project and its local impacts.

The Town recently submitted comments regarding the Purple Line’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which assesses the environmental effects of the proposed project. These comments note significant concerns with the project’s skyrocketing costs and funding prospects and call for a new environmental impact study to identify lower cost alternatives, such as bus rapid transit. The comments also raise technical concerns about the proposed alignment, including visual, noise and safety impacts.

As plans for the Purple Line progress, the Town Council wants to ensure that the Town’s concerns are given serious consideration by state and federal decision makers, and the Council has proposed to engage a law firm to assist in that effort. The length of the engagement will be approximately 18 months, with a cost of approximately $360,000....
The unfortunate aspect to this development, is that the Purple Line is a broadly popular project outside of Chevy Chase, and so the town's expenditures on lawyers may well cost taxpayers in other parts of Maryland thousands of dollars to defend the light rail initiative. Notably, Chevy Chase has ample resources for such a strategy, given that under state law they are refunded 1/6 of county income taxes paid by town residents. In a recent count, the Town of Chevy Chase with a population of 2,907 got almost as much money as Takoma Park with 17,905 (much less affluent) people ($2,174,114 vs. $2,330,225).  

JUICE #5: LERNER FAMILY SEEKS TO LURE FBI HEADQUARTERS TO FORMER LANDOVER MALL SITE IN PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY - The Washington Post reported this week that Lerner Enterprises (the business run by the owner of the Washington Nationals) is attempting to lure the FBI to the former Landover Mall site in Prince George's County (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Sears is shuttering its store near the former Landover Mall, after selling the site to a Rockville-based development firm that is seeking to build a new FBI headquarters.... The store operated for more than a decade in a sea of empty parking lots after Landover Mall closed in 2002 and the shopping center was demolished a few years later. Lerner Enterprises said Tuesday that it plans to offer the 88-acre former mall site to the General Services Administration for consideration as a future headquarters for the FBI....

“With Sears closed the confusion that existed as to the availability of the entire site should be eliminated,” Alan H. Gottlieb, chief operating officer of Lerner Enterprises, wrote in an e-mail after the Sears announcement. “We would hope to attract a major user or users to the site possibly the FBI. In that regard we have submitted the site to the GSA.”

JUICE #6: JAPANESE OFFICIALS OFFER HELP TO BUILD HIGH SPEED RAIL TO CREATE 15 MINUTE TRAIN RIDE BETWEEN BALTIMORE & WASHINGTON - Business Insider reported this week that the Japanese government has offered to lend the United States half the cost of building a high-speed "Mag-Lev" train between Baltimore and Washington, DC. The proposed system would cut the commuting time between the two cities to fifteen minutes (excerpt below):
BUSINESS INSIDER: The Japanese government has promised to lend the United States half of the cost of building the first "Super-Maglev" train, reducing travel time between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to just 15 minutes. Tokyo is so keen to show off its technology that it will provide loans for half the estimated $8 billion (£5bn) cost of installing the tracks, Japan's Asahi newspaper said on Tuesday.

The American federal government is keen on the project, according to Central Japan Railway Co., and state authorities are especially enthusiastic.... Maglev vehicles have no wheels and are propelled along their track through electromagnetic pull – doing away with friction and, hence, providing a smoother and quieter ride at a faster speed....

JUICE #7: ADVOCATES HIGHLIGHT 2014 MARYLAND LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR LGBT RIGHTS - At the start of the 2014 Annapolis legislative session, The Washington Blade's Michael Lavers highlighted the policy priorities of LGBT activists in Maryland (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BLADE: Efforts to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression and so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors are top priorities for Maryland LGBT rights advocates during the 2014 legislative session that begins on Wednesday.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will introduce the transgender rights bill in the state Senate. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the measure in the House of Delegates, even though the chamber passed a trans rights bill in 2011....

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote struck down a bill Madaleno and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced that would have banned anti-trans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. State Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted against the measure....

State Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) has introduced a bill that would ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in Maryland. The original version of House Bill 91 only includes sexual orientation, but Cardin’s legislative director Josh Greenfield told the Blade on Tuesday it will be amended to include gender identity and expression. Madaleno is also expected to introduce the measure in the Senate.

JUICE #8: ACLU OF MARYLAND RELEASES LIST OF 2014 MARYLAND LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES - Maryland's ACLU released the following press release discussing their legislative priorities in the 2014 Annapolis session (excerpt below):

ACLU of Maryland Announces 2014 Legislative Priorities

Issues include taxing and regulating marijuana, stopping local police from enforcing civil immigration detainers, limiting email and cell phone surveillance, and ending the shackling of pregnant women

...The ACLU priorities include legislation to tax and regulate marijuana, stop local police from enforcing civil immigration detainers, limit email and cell phone surveillance, end the shackling of pregnant women, fully fund the Public Education "Thornton" Funding Formula and more....

Highlights from the ACLU’s priorities for 2014 General Assembly session:

  • Email Surveillance: Privacy laws have yet to be updated, which allows the government to intercept and access information about the content of our emails, and other information collected by search engines, social networking sites and other websites. The ACLU supports legislation to ensure that new advances in science and technology enhance, not compromise, civil liberties.
  • Location Tracking:  The ACLU supports legislation that would ensure that legitimate investigations can proceed, while protecting innocent Marylanders from unjustified invasions of their privacy.
  • Drones: Drones can pose a serious threat to privacy. The ACLU of Maryland is in support of legislation that would prohibit a Maryland law enforcement agency from using a drone to gather evidence without a warrant.
  • Automatic License Plate Recorders: The ACLU supports legislation that would keep law enforcement from storing records of plates and locations that are not ‘hits’ against any database.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The War on Drugs has failed.  Maryland spends an inordinate amount of time, energy and money arresting people for marijuana possession, even though 44 percent of violent crimes in Maryland go unsolved. Further, despite equal rates of use, these arrests are racially imbalanced.  Because the War on Drugs has failed, the ACLU supports the full decriminalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana possession.

REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM: The ACLU works to protect everyone's right to make informed decisions free from government interference about whether and when to become a parent. In addition, the ACLU will advocate for legislation to end the dangerous practices of shackling pregnant women in custody during transport, labor and delivery. The ACLU supported last year, and will support again, legislation that would prohibit the shackling of pregnant inmates and detainees during their second and third trimesters.

IMMIGRATION REFORM: State and local law enforcement undermine public safety and waste resources by enforcing immigration detainer requests from U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ACLU supports the Maryland Trust Act, a bill that would restore community relationships with local police by disentangling them from federal immigration enforcement efforts. 

  • Full Funding of the Public Education "Thornton" Funding Formula: The ACLU's Education Reform Project will continue its advocacy to ensure that the state budget contains full funding of the “Thornton” education funding formula in the Bridge to Excellence Act, including a minimum 1 percent inflation factor and the Geographic Cost of Education Index. 
  • Funding the Thornton Formula Adequacy Study in the Governor’s Budget: The ACLU has called on the Governor to provide appropriate funding in the Maryland State Board of Education budget to hire a reputable expert to conduct the required “adequacy study” of the “Thornton” education formula. The Bridge to Excellence Act anticipated the need to regularly update the formula in light of changing academic standards and requires that over the next two years a reassessment will take place of the adequacy of funding levels for students to meet state standards. 
  • Expansion of Pre-Kindergarten Education for the Most At-risk Children: The ACLU will advocate for adequate state and local funding for the existing Pre-K programs (currently funded based on K-12 students rather than Pre-K enrollment) and for the state to fund school districts that offer full-day programs. 
  • Oppose State Funding of Private Schools: The ACLU will continue to fight back against funding private schools with public dollars. The ACLU opposes legislation that would reimburse parents or institutions for private school tuition. Private schools do not have to abide by the same state anti-discrimination laws and rules that public schools do. Such legislation also entangles the state in promoting religious education, as many of the beneficiaries would be religious schools. And every public dollar diverted to private schools is a dollar lost to the taxpayers of Maryland.
The full list of 2014 legislative priorities can be found at the ACLU of Maryland website.


JUICE #9: COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS ANNOUNCE 2014 MARYLAND LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES - Maryland Juice received the following press release from the "Fund Our Communities" coalition announcing their 2014 efforts in Annapolis (excerpts below):

MD Legislators Urged: Establish a Commission to Prepare for Military Downsizing

ANNAPOLIS, MD –Members of the Fund our Communities (FOC) coalition are asking Maryland lawmakers to support legislation establishing the Commission on Maryland’s Future, A Jobs Strategy for the State of Maryland. This commission will be tasked with developing plans and policies to ensure a competitive advantage for Maryland as Federal military spending declines.

Jean Athey, steering committee chair, commented: “Maryland has over 200,000 workers in military-related industries and ranks fourth among states in per capita defense spending. As Federal military spending decreases, military-related jobs in Maryland will shrink and tax revenues for local communities will decline.”

Concerned about the economic shock that military drawdowns may have on jobs and employment, several unions have joined the FOC coalition. Gino Renne, President of UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, explains, “With Maryland receiving over $36 billion annually from military spending, we may have put more of our eggs into this one basket than is wise. As an organization that represents middle class employees, this is a genuine concern for us.” Other unions have expressed similar concerns. In October, the Maryland/DC AFL-CIO passed a resolution at its annual conference encouraging its members to become engaged on the topic of conversion of military spending to domestic needs.

David Kunes, President of Montgomery County Young Democrats, notes that the Department of Defense has provided guidance to states and communities on defense transition, guidance that “shows that the Futures Commission is simply an idea whose time has come.” Athey agrees, adding “It is no longer a question of should we prepare for the economic changes that potential military cutbacks will have on our State, but rather, how we can afford not to.”

FOC ( is a coalition comprised of over 60 organizations, including political, veteran, faith groups and unions, that advocates for changes in our nation’s budget to more adequately fund community needs.


JUICE #10: O'MALLEY TO FOCUS ON RAISING MINIMUM WAGE // PLUS: THE WOULD-BE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NEEDS RE-EDUCATION ON WAR ON DRUGS  - The Associated Press reported this week that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will be prioritizing passage of a minimum wage increase in the 2014 legislative session (excerpt below):
ASSOCIATED PRESS (VIA WBAL): Governor Martin O'Malley says he will be focusing his energy on raising the state's minimum wage in his last legislative session as Maryland's governor. O'Malley on Tuesday underscored the minimum wage hike as a top priority a day before the state's 90-day session is scheduled to begin.... Maryland's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. O'Malley says 21 other states have a higher minimum wage than Maryland, which he says has the highest median income in the nation. While the governor pledged his commitment to push for an increase, it remains unclear how much....
Indeed, the devil will be in the details with the coming minimum wage hike, and Maryland Juice hopes that ahead of his 2016 White House run, Governor O'Malley will embrace a $10.10/hr indexed minimum wage hike -- that does not seek to overturn the recently passed $11.50/hr wage hikes in Montgomery & Prince George's counties.

RE-EDUCATING O'MALLEY ON THE FAILED WAR ON DRUGS: On another note, Governor O'Malley needs a hard nudge to see that the broad public is mostly done with the failed "war on drugs" and no longer sees jail time as an appropriate penalty for petty "crimes" like marijuana possession. A good starting point for his re-education campaign might be the eye-opening documentary "The House I Live In," which details the ravaging effects of our ignorant "tough on crime" and "war on drugs" policies. The film took the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and I highly recommend it to Maryland Juice readers (trailer below):

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