Daily "Recent Prince George's County News" updates were suspended in early March 2016. They were compiled primarily from retweets of news headlines. Those retweets continue, but in unformatted and unarchived form at PG-Politics-Briefs. To follow such headlines on a current basis, follow @pgpolitics on Twitter.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Betraying the Voters (Tax Increase, Question D and the Blue Ribbon Commission)

Prince George's County is governed by a county charter.

Normally, we would expect the people who are elected to carry out the provisions of the county charter to obey and support it, not to flat out disobey it and look for ways to avoid its requirements.

 our council
and county executive, have acted repeatedly to sabotage the charter and the will of the voters.

They increased taxes in violation of the charter.  They tried once and failed to get around citizen-imposed restraints on the length of time they can hold office, and are now trying again.  And they have worked hard to modify citizen-imposed restraints on taxes and spending.

But none of them had the honesty or integrity to campaign on a platform of overruling and thumbing their noses at the voters.  In fact some of these officials, have brazenly done exactly the opposite of what they promised while running for office.

Now is the time to start planning a thorough housecleaning during the 2018 election season. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Investigating the Baker-Eubanks-Maxwell Head Start and other PG school fiascos

With so many news reports about the abuse of vulnerable children and the county's loss of Head Start program funds and control, perhaps it is time for Gov. Larry Hogan to step in and arrange for a comprehensive investigation of the Prince George's school system, either by a qualified and truly independent investigator, or by the state Board of Education (if they can be trusted to do the job honestly).

In his 2010 inauguration speech, Rushern Baker said:
Some have asked, “Are you planning on taking direct control over the county schools?” My answer is no, but let me say this: I will also not sit idly by and be silent. 
Despite what Mr. Baker said then, he later went ahead and persuaded the General Assembly to give him substantial control over the schools.

Neither Mr. Baker's inauguration speech, nor his request to his enablers in the General Assembly said that he would use his control of the county schools as a high paid jobs program for his cronies or that he would (1) tolerate sexual predators and bullies who would prey upon and humiliate our youngest, most vulnerable children, (2) protect the high paid cronies who allowed that behavior to continue, (3) allow the destruction of, and give up funding for and control of, what was once among the most successful of the county schools' programs, or  (4) that he would, in fact, "sit idly by and be silent" while his cronies ignored ongoing problems and concealed them from elected board members and the public for months.

Note that after the latest scandal--Head Start--became public, the Mr. Baker's minions took action against six low-level employees, including a whistleblower who was fired despite having reported abuses to her boss, but Mr. Baker has done nothing about the administrators who tolerated and/or were ignorant of the behavior of their subordinates.

Another of Mr. Baker's promises, repeated frequently with essentially the same thought but varying wording was
I also pledge to establish a first ever County Inspector General to police ethics conduct and perform annual ethics audits.
The County will create an office of Inspector General to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement and conflicts-of-interest in the County government. The Inspector General must be professionally qualified with a background in auditing and public financial management. The Inspector General must be selected based on ability and integrity, without regard to political affiliation. The Inspector General will be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council for a fixed term of office that is staggered and non-concurrent with the Executive and Council. The office of inspector general will have its own staff and will enjoy subpoena power. The Inspector General will conduct investigations, review financial managements, examine potential conflicts-of-interest, conduct performance audits and similar reviews, make recommendations, public findings, and make referrals to law enforcement agencies. The Inspector General will also conduct annual ethics audits of locally elected officials and make results public.
Creating the Inspector General office was just another of Mr. Baker's broken promises.

If Mr. Baker had kept that promise, and hired the kind of person he promised, with the kind of staff and authority he promised, we would have an Inspector General who presumably could be trusted to conduct an honest, independent investigation of the Head Start fiasco and other serious problems with the school system and board.

Mr. Baker failed to keep his promise.

Now that the problems in the school system and with the school board members he appointed have once again come to the attention of the media and the public, Mr. Baker seems to be acting as if he has nothing to do with problems in the schools, but says he has full confidence in his people

And Mr. Baker now seems willing to let the relative and cronies he appointed to run the schools, who allowed all this to happen, who covered up, investigate themselves.

In most cases, in the real world, crooks and incompetents do not investigate themselves, someone else does.  But normal rules don't seem to apply in our one-party county.  It is easy to understand why Prince George's County gets so little respect.

News reports over the past few years suggest that physical, mental, and sexual abuse of Prince George's County schoolchildren is not as rare as county and school officials would like us to believe.

The right thing for Mr. Baker to do would be to ask an independent authority to conduct a truly independent investigation.  If our Mr. Baker and our other county leaders refuse to do what is right, Gov. Hogan should step in and see to what is necessary and right.

Here is a sampling of 2015-2016 media headlines (other than widely-reported Head Start humiliation and Deonte Carraway sex abuse scandals).  Many additional problems in earlier years were listed in PG-Politics daily news summaries):

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Julie Parker (@PGPDNews)

Does anyone know the story on Julie Parker?

Formerly of ABC7, she did a great job as head of media relations for the Prince George's Police Department--one of the best in the dozen years PG-Politics has been reporting on crime and politics in the county.

When she left suddenly in May, PGPD said "Parker has accepted a position in another industry" (Bethesda's Total Wine and More).

Now, in late August, just over three months later, Julie has surfaced as the new communications director for the Fairfax County Police.

Imho, PGPD communications have NOT improved since her departure. So, why did she leave?

D.C. Russell

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

PG legislators' positions on Rushern Baker's school coup d'etat (reposted from 31 Mar 2013)

Note that this does not reflect the final votes on HB 1107.

Notes: Dates shown are for the online version of news reports and may differ from the dates a story appeared in print.  * indicates legislators who voted for Baker's 2002 school interference law.  That change did not improve educational results, but did result in the Baker-created appointed school board appoint, defending, and paying off a superintendent later convicted of committing felonies on the job.  Potential employment-related conflicts of interest highlighted in Red.

Others (opponents and questioners)


Del. Benjamin Barnes (D-21). Gazette, 23 Mar 2013 
Delegation Vice Chair Del. Benjamin S. Barnes (D-Dist.21) of College Park pointed out that the school board has gone though seven superintendents in 14 years and questioned whether the board was doing enough to address turnover.
Sen. Joanne Benson (D-24).  Post, 16 Mar 2013
State Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s), a former school administrator and the delegation’s liaison for education, described Baker’s plan as “a good fit,” one that will increase accountability.

“I think that a change is needed,” she said. “We also need a facelift for the reputation of our school system. . . . I don’t have a problem with [the superintendent] becoming a cabinet-level position.”
Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-25). Gazette, 23 Mar 2013 
Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Dist.25) of Mitchellville questioned why these issues had to be settled with legislation instead of through some other agreement or study.
"I dislike making a change just to make a change," she said. 
Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-25).  Post, 23 Mar 2013
Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) argued that Baker is “making a change just for the sake of making a change,” and she suggested that an outside expert be brought in to assess the system.

“Why don’t we give this issue the level of importance it deserves and give it a study like we give other important issues,” she said.
Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-25). CNS, 28 Mar 2013
Delegate Aisha Braveboy, D-Prince George’s, said there have been other executive takeovers of school systems across the country, but she is not convinced they have been as effective as they initially sought out to be.

“I think it’s difficult for us to say that this change (in structure) would yield better results given that the proposal hasn’t proven to be successful in other areas,” Braveboy said.

Both Turner and Braveboy agreed they wanted changes made to help improve Maryland’s second largest school system.
Sen. Ulysses Currie * (D-25).  Post, 17 Mar 2013
State Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) said he plans to support Baker’s proposed state legislation, which likely will be added as amendments to a bill that Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s) proposed months ago to form a task force to review the operations of the school board.

“I think he is going in the right direction,” Currie said, describing the school system as the “weak link” in the county’s ability to move forward. Baker has long said the schools — which rank toward the bottom of Maryland’s school systems in terms of achievement — are a hurdle to economic growth.
Del. Dereck E. Davis * (D-25).  CNS, 28 Mar 2013
Others in the Prince George’s delegation, including Delegate Dereck Davis, believe the changes in power make sense conceptually.

“If the executive is willing to take this on and wants to be held accountable for it, I’m supportive of the idea,” said Davis, adding that the county has been consistently ranked at the bottom of the state in terms of student achievement during the nearly 19 years he has been in office.

Davis said he has talked to many of his colleagues on the House side, and that a majority of them are in favor of taking some type of action in the near future.

“It may not be precisely what the county executive introduces, but overall they are not satisfied with what’s currently going on.” Davis said. “They’re definitely supportive of seeing something happen that would alter the course that we have been on.”
Del. Dereck E. Davis * (D-25).  Post, 30 Mar 2013
Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), who has served in the General Assembly for nearly 20 years, said he is constantly bombarded by constituent complaints about the school system’s slow progress.

“There have been modest gains . . . but we had nowhere to go but up,” Davis said. “Can I guarantee that this will improve schools? I can’t make that guarantee. But we need to plot a different course. . . . If [Baker is] willing to take it on, I’m willing to back it.”

After a bitter battle took place in 2002 to get rid of the elected board of education and replace it with an appointed board — a move that was reversed in 2006 — Baker’s new schools plan has run into fresh resistance in the General Assembly, where several lawmakers are concerned that the county executive would have more power than any other in the state.
Del. Anne Healey * (D-22). Post, 23 Mar 2013
“I am not happy that this is here at this time with so little preparation,” said Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George’s) .

“We are going to deal with it, go through it line by line, piece by piece and figure out if anything in here will advance our school system,” she said.
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-47). Post, 17 Mar 2013
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the county’s House delegation, applauded Baker for addressing what she called the “final and most important piece in our county’s renaissance.”

Ivey said she has attended numerous public forums in the county where residents have criticized Baker for the school system’s shortcomings.

“People think the county executive is running the schools, but all he can do is send money,” Ivey said. “If he is going to be judged on our schools, he needs to do more.”
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-47).  Post, 20 Mar 2013
“I truly think we’re asking too much of our school board,” said Del. Jolene Ivey (D), chairman of the Prince George’s delegation in the House, who supports Baker’s proposal.

“We’re paying these people $18,000 a year. Most of them have to have an additional job,” Ivey said. “You’re asking people to have 1½ jobs, manage a $1.7 billion budget, and focus on parental engagement and academic policy. Now come on — how much can you expect people to do?”
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-47).  Post, 20 Mar 2013
State Del. Jolene Ivey, head of the Prince George’s delegation and a supporter of Baker’s plan, said when Baker and other elected officials meet with residents around the county education consistently tops the list what residents want to discuss. “That’s what we hear,” she said. “What they want to talk about usually are schools. The reality is that [Baker] is doing all he can do with the current set up. The question is what can we do differently.”
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-47).  Gazette, 21 Mar 2013
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly, chairwoman of the county’s House delegation, believes the change could be positive for Baker. Prince George’s students’ test scores have ranked near or at the bottom on the state standardized tests for years, and although the school board oversees the education system, voters tend to hold Baker and county leaders responsible for the state of local schools, Ivey said. Ivey added that she did not think Baker’s proposal comes with any future political agenda.

“Sure, anything good he’s able to accomplish benefits him in the future politically, but he’s got three kids who graduated from Prince George’s schools and he’s committed to making them better,” Ivey said. “There’s always that risk of it not working out, but if you take the safe route, what have you accomplished? That’s how he’s been in his whole political career. He’s been willing to do something unpopular to get something accomplished.”
Sen. Thomas V. 'Mike' Miller, Jr. * (D-27). Post, 29 Mar 2013 
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert), whose district includes a chunk of southern Prince George’s, sat near committee members as they heard two hours of testimony.

Miller said when the hearing broke up that he thinks that the system has improved but that progress is too slow and the county cannot afford to wait much longer.

“We turn over huge sums of money to the school board,” he said. “We need to see results.”

Miller, who will have extensive influence over the course of the debate, predicted there would be a compromise. “The county executive will want more than we are going to give him,” he said. “The other side doesn’t want to see any change. We are going to find a way to fashion a compromise.”
 Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-23).  Post, 16 Mar 2013
State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D), chairman of the county’s Senate delegation, said he wonders whether restructuring would yield academic improvements.
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-23).  Post, 22 Mar 2013
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s) said he told Baker that the General Assembly would not approve his proposal. “It needs to be retooled to have a chance,” Peters said. Throughout the week, Baker’s aides, working with Senate staffers, redrafted the legislation, which is slated to be introduced Monday, according to lawmakers.
Sen. Paul Pinsky * (D-22).  Post, 20 Mar 2013
Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) said the issue was reaching a climax now partly because of concerns that the board isn’t up to the task of making the best choice for superintendent. The board recently narrowed the search to three finalists, but Baker’s bombshell could mean the hunt is reopened.

“There’s some question of confidence in the Board of Education to make a good choice,” Pinsky said. Noting that only a couple of members work professionally in education, he said, “Few have ongoing experience sitting around the table with other superintendents, either in the county or the state.”
Sen. Paul Pinsky * (D-22).  Post, 22 Mar 2013
Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), an ally of Baker’s who was a key architect of the takeover plan, acknowledged that “some people will be concerned about a power grab.”

“But I don’t hear a lot of people coming to the defense of the Board of Education,” he said. “Most people want good schools, and they don’t care how we get there.”
Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-47).  Gazette, 21 Mar 2013
State Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly said he doubted any one single issue would derail Baker’s re-election bid as long as voters see he is trying to improve the county.

“When you’re trying to do the right thing, I don’t think it can be seen as political suicide,” Ramirez said. “He’s trying to be a leader, and education is our No. 1 priority. ... He wants our system to be one of the best in the nation. I don’t believe it’s a power kick. He’s trying to move the county forward.”
Del. Veronica Turner (D-26). Gazette, 23 Mar 2013 
But other delegates were concerned with how Baker's proposal would deal with the cooperative bargaining among the school system and teachers unions. "I'm worried how this will affect labor contracts," said Del. Veronica L. Turner (D-Dist.26) of Temple Hills.
Del. Veronica Turner (D-26). CNS, 28 Mar 2013
“The bill came too fast too late (in the session)” said Delegate Veronica Turner, D-Prince George’s. “There was no time really for us to conduct a study to understand what the county executive is trying to do.”
Both Turner and Braveboy agreed they wanted changes made to help improve Maryland’s second largest school system.  When asked whether she believed the policy was the county executive’s attempt to seek more power, Turner said Baker’s “motives were legit.”

“He knows that there are problems and he was trying to fix them,” Turner said. “But his approach of trying to fix them may not have been the right approach.”
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-23A).  Gazette, 23 Mar 2013
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Dist.23) of Bowie argued that the current model is faltering despite those numbers, saying decreasing enrollment is affecting state funding for Prince George's schools. "At the end of the day, the school board is advocating we follow a model that other jurisdictions are following when we are the largest in the state," she said. "It's a shared responsibility. This proposal is saying 'Can we share with you?'"
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-23A).  Post, 23 Mar 2013
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s) said she has tried to win school board support in the past two years for legislation that would offer the public more information about contracts and spending practices, but has been repeatedly rebuffed by the school board.

“This year I came in and said ‘Can we please put together a task force and look at best practices,’ ” she said. “It was vehemently opposed by the school board.”
Del. Jay Walker (D-26). Gazette, 23 Mar 2013
"My main question is 'Where's the plan?' What's the county's plan? What's the board's plan?" said Del. Jay Walker (D-Dist.26) of Fort Washington during the special hearing on the proposal in Annapolis.

Some history: Links to old posts related to Baker's school takeover

Tweets from NBC4's Tracee Wilkins:(@TraceeWilkins)
     #Breaking: @pgcps places health director on leave for mismanagement that includes MD student immunizations. #NBC4DC pic.twitter.com/NHSXtKwIG4     Dr. Angela Wakhweya was hired by Pr. George's School CEO Kevin Maxwell in 2013 after she was fired from Anne Arundel County's health dept.
22 Aug 2015:  Tracee Wilkins tweets on antics of recently indicted Baker school board appointee
  • Breaking: The Pr. George's School Board Member accused of falsifying documents for free school lunch for her kids wants back on the board.​
  • According to Lynn Mundey, she rescinded her resignation but the chair has not accepted it. Sources say he did not have the power to do that.
  • Without board approval.
  • Schools released a statement saying it's acted appropriately and this is currently being handled by legal representation for both parties.
  • Mundey is one of the members appointed by the County Executive under the hybrid school board of elected and appointees.
  • She's facing criminal prosecution for the free school lunch accusations along with other employees of GAO who live in the County.
  • Comments: 
  • The chair, mentioned above, also appointed by Rushern Baker, is Baker's former brother-in-law.This new affair is not surprising considering the long record of cronyism, corruption, and criminal activity in school management since Baker first started interfering in school management over a decade ago.
 4 Jul 2015:  Huge increase in Prince George's school staffing?

9 Jan 2014:  Rushern Baker continues politicization of "non-partisan" Board of Education
     Despite his broken promise to not try to take over the schools, and despite the fact that the Prince George's County Board of Education is legally a non-partisan body, Rushern Baker today swears in an appointed Democratic Party political operative replacing a former elected non-partisan member of the board.  Baker and the anti-democracy legislators who conspired with him should be ashamed, but, as we know, OUR legislators know no shame.
31 Mar 2013: PG legislators' positions on Rushern Baker's school coup d'etat (Part seven)
(Includes some references to conflicts of interest and spporters of Baker's 2002 school law)

23 Mar 2013Rushern Baker's planned school coup d'etat, Part six: To whom will the superintendent report

20 Mar 2013:  Comments on Rushern Baker's planned school coup d'etat, Part five, Examiner editorial covers what Post left out

20 Mar 2013:  Comments on Rushern Baker's planned school coup d'etat, Part four, Post editorial supporting Baker is mostly irrelevant and wrong

18 Mar 2013: Comments on Rushern Baker's planned school coup d'etat, Part three, excuses for interfering

18 Mar 2013Rushern Baker's planned school coup d'etat, Part two, takeover bill language

18 Mar 2013:  Comments on Rushern Baker's planned school coup d'etat, Part one, what the Post didn't report

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summary: Recent Head Start and other school problem related links from Twitter

PGCPS Head Start Had Previous Problems, Letter Says https://sasscer.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/pgcps-head-start-had-previous-problems-letter-says …

4-year-old PGCPS Student dropped off at wrong bus stop on first day of school https://pgcpsmess.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/4-year-old-pgcps-student-dropped-off-at-wrong-bus-stop-on-first-day-of-school …

Post Local
✔ @postlocal
Md. county school board members call for leaders’ ouster after Head Start debacle http://wpo.st/k5Vt1

Tracee Wilkins
✔ @TraceeWilkins

The fallout follows the county losing its federal Head Start funding after a federal investigation into student abuse.

Tracee Wilkins
✔ @TraceeWilkins

County Exec says he has faith in the school board's chair and vice chair.

Tracee Wilkins
✔ @TraceeWilkins

#Breaking: 5 Pr. George's Co. School Board members call for the board's chair and vice chair to resign. County Exec confirms he has letter.

ALSO: From Rushern Baker's inauguration speech, December 2010:

Some have asked, “Are you planning on taking direct control over the county schools?” My answer is no ..."

BOE political cronyism-nepotism refresher

Before Rushern Baker took office, he said that he would NOT make another attempt to take over the school system. Nevertheless, he asked the General Assembly to let him take it over. They gave him part of what he asked for.
One of the leaders behind Baker's school coup was Del. Dereck Davis.

Baker appointed Seguin Eubanks as chair of the Board of Education. Eubanks is Baker's ex brother-in-law.

Baker and Eubanks hired Kevin Maxwell to be school CEO. Maxwell promptly hired Mrs. Dereck Davis as his top deputy.

Del. Dereck Davis' day job is as a top official in the county Office of Community Relations. In other words, he works for Rushern Baker.

Del. Dereck Davis' immediate supervisor in the Office of Community Relations is Musa Eubanks, the brother of Seguin Eubanks.

A number of questions come to mind.
  • Was Davis' support of Baker's coup really "for the children," or more to curry favor with his boss?
  • Did the school system really need another high-paid administrator, and was Mrs. Davis the absolute best choice, or was her hiring payment for Del. Davis' support?
  • Was Seguin Eubanks the absolute best choice for BOE chair, or was his hiring influenced by his relationship to Baker and one of his top aides?
I'm sure their are other ethical questions that could also be asked--including whether any of the above contributed to Baker's failure to keep his promises about ethics and hiring an Inspector General.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

What is PG's "structural deficit"

What is PG's "structural deficit"

As has been reported before, the "Blue Ribbon Commission" was set up to deal with the "structural deficit." So, what is a "structural deficit"? Despite some other more formal definitions:
"Structural deficit" is the politically correct euphemism used by politicians to try to rationalize and distract attention from their uncontrolled addition to spending money they don't have and will never have unless they steal more from the public at large.
While politicians expect you and me to live within our means, and scrape by on whatever they don't take from us, these politicians feel they are entitled to grab anything they can get away with.

Their spending addiction is not really much different from alcoholism or addition to drugs.

Drug addicts and alcoholics often live in denial of their addiction and resort to subterfuge and theft to satisfy their addiction.

And so it is with politicians and their insatiable addiction to spending--they rationalize what they are doing to each other, grab what they can from the public, delude themselves into believing they are doing nothing wrong, and fail to seek treatment.

The best way for the public to deal with spending-addicted politicians is to send them back to the real world, not reinforce their addiction by supporting or reelecting them.

Unfortunately, the voters of Prince George's County (and most of Maryland) support the addicts and reinforce their addiction.

As a result, Prince George's County residents have about the highest tax burden in the region, with some of the poorest and decreasing services, and are about to be held up again. And while many people will complain about the politicians overriding TRIM and ignoring the will of the voters, most voters seem satisfied with the status quo and have the kind of government they probably deserve.

What we need is a commission that will force the county to live within its means, improve productivity, advocate recall, and develop a 12-step program for spending addicts.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Recent Prince George's County News (24 Feb - 2 Mar 2016, semi-sorted)


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Recent Prince George's County News (21 - 24 Feb 2016, unsorted)