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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Response to Del. Ross on violence in our county

(Posted 28 Mar 2007)
On the subject of violence that plagues our county, I tend to differ with Delegate Ross on one point (education funding), and believe that he has either overlooked or deliberately ignored another major contributing factor--how the scofflaw behavior of our public officials may contribute to law-breaking by others.

First, he blames "historical under funding of public education." I disagree. Our schools have received increasing funding for decades. But while funding has increased, results have decreased. More and more, increased funding has been used to finance bureaucratic activities that do little, if anything, to contribute to educational results, and are often counter-productive..

Salaries have grown dramatically for administrators and other non-classroom personnel, while teachers pay has lagged behind. These administrators, not classroom teachers who know their students, have determined what is to be taught and how. Despite the decline in educational results, our politicians keep spending more and more money to reward and increase failure.

Based on the performance of our educational system, there is little reason to believe that any significant increase in funding will actually lead to an increase in educational results. More likely, it will only bring us more educrats, poorer results, and more calls for even more money.

Second, I think Delegate Ross, like virtually all of our elected officials, overlooks or deliberately ignores how our elected officials are contributing to a climate of disrespect and even contempt for the rule of law and "following the rules."

Much of our drug and violence problems are caused by individuals who choose to ignore the laws and rules that are supposed to rule our society.

Why should they obey the law or follow the rules when our elected and appointed officials set such a terrible example?

Last year, members of the General Assembly, including Delegate Ross, broke their solemn promises to uphold the Constitution and Federal laws and passed several laws later thrown out by the courts.

Delegate Ross and most of his colleagues seem to wink at and encourage people to not aid in the enforcement of Federal immigration laws--their attitude seems to be that it is ok ignore law violations when you don't like the law. That's no different from the attitude of drug dealers and killers.

The Delegate and most of his colleagues seem to place a higher priority on protecting criminals than on stopping them. There does not appear to be any legislation under consideration that would reduce the murder rate, but the General Assembly is considering bills to give killers protections their victims did not have, and to reward criminals by allowing them to vote despite their rejection of society's rules.

Our delegates also tolerate a pro-criminal committee leader, with a clear conflict of interest, who makes it more difficult to prosecute criminals and protect victims and witnesses.

Currently under consideration are proposals to award Maryland's electoral votes in a manner contrary to the U. S. Constitution. If our legislators don't like the Constitution, it seems to me that they should either resign or try to follow the rules to amend it, not circumvent it.

I could go on and on, but it seems clear to me that our state-level lawmakers don't feel obliged to follow laws and rules that apply to themselves. Why should we be surprised when others follow their example and ignore the law?

On the county level, our county council's two top leaders have ignored ethics rules, been caught at it, and still elected to leadership positions by their colleagues. This is another group of lawmakers that feel they can pick and choose which laws and rules to follow--more "leaders' setting a terrible example for our youth.

And then there is our failing school system, where top leaders have apparently violated Federal laws. We have an assistant superintendent in Federal prison and the last school CEO under indictment, even though protected by the school board until the bitter end. A former school board member (and current council member) was accused of many ethical violations, but her colleagues did nothing about it.

Intended or not, the school system policy seems to have been that school leaders, elected and appointed, don't really have to follow laws and rules. Given that example, why should our school children and recent graduates feel that they must do so?

Our "leaders" continue to foster a climate of disrespect for the lows and rules that should govern our society. Why are they surprised when the criminals follow their example?

On 3/28/07, Jacob Andoh <jyandoh@yahoo.com> wrote:
Thanks to Hon. Del. Justin Ross and Mr. Mel Franklin (GMDC) for sharing.

Note: forwarded message attached.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mel R. Franklin, District 27A Central Committee" <mel.franklin.district27a@gmail.com >
To: gmdc@yahoogroups.com
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 07:41:37 -0400
Subject: [gmdc] Fwd: The Ross Report - March 2007

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Justin Ross < justinross@justinross.us>
Date: Mar 27, 2007 9:37 PM
Subject: The Ross Report - March 2007
To: mel.democrat@gmail.com

A Message from Delegate Ross

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However, over the last week, the issue that was most on my mind was the shocking number of murders in our beloved county. This most recent crime spree hit particularly close to home for me with two murders occurring within a mile of where my wife and children lay their heads at night. I would be lying if I said that, if only for a brief moment, I didn't think about moving to a small remote place that had experienced little crime and was perceived to be "safe". Turning tail and running, however, isn't the answer.

The reality is that the violence that plagues our county is not a Prince George's County problem, it's an American problem. It's a problem that is poised to get much worse unless we are committed to solving it. This is a topic much too broad to be dealt with meaningfully in this short letter but I do have some thoughts on the subject.

First, I think the issue of violence in America is the most important issue of our day and I don't hear either political party speaking about it. By way of example, over the last four years in Iraq, the United States has lost over 3,000 brave men and women in the line of duty. Back home, in America, we have lost almost 60,000 men and women to murder during that same time. In Prince George's County alone we've lost over 500 during that same time. From where I sit, I believe this is due in large measure to our failure to deal with drug addiction, a historical under funding of public education, the glorification of violence in popular culture, and a breakdown in the family structure. Disagree? That's cool; I am only one man and would like to hear other opinions. But from here on in, we're going to talk about it.

Again, my hope in talking about this was not to provide an all inclusive list of why our society is so violent and all the remedies to fix it. Rather, I am hoping to start a continuing dialogue and to push the body politic into making this issue a top priority. Thanks again for your comments, advice, and support.

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