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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sen. Exum's shakedown

I'm not surprised at this kind of nonsense since Exum owes his senate seat to his crooked mentor, ex-con, ex-sen. Tommie Broadwater.

On Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 5:29 PM, Langway was the King <pg.citizen@yahoo.com> wrote:
Sen. Exum has often shown he's more interested with the advancement of African-American business and wealth than reasoned consideration of appropriate public policy for all citizens. This is a shakedown he was able to pull off recently, for a business owner who should have been prosecuted for fraud in 2004:


License Is Restored for Station in Pr. George's
By John Wagner and Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 12, 2008; B01

The Maryland State Police last week restored the license of an automotive inspection station in Prince George's County that was revoked four years ago after authorities had said that it was issuing certificates for safety inspections that it did not perform.

The reinstatement occurred as a Prince George's senator who had been lobbying for the restored license was holding up the Senate confirmation of Col. Terrence Sheridan to lead the state police agency. Sen. Nathaniel Exum (D-Prince George's) has urged the agency for several years to reissue the license to Hilltop Fleet Services, which is in his district.

A vote on Sheridan, who was nominated by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), has been rescheduled for today amid concerns voiced by Exum and other African American senators about what they say is lack of diversity on the force and allegations of racial profiling in traffic stops.
Sheridan said yesterday that the decision to restore Hilltop's status had been set in motion under his predecessor, who started the process to grant Hilltop a probationary license. Letting the station resume inspections seemed "fundamentally fair," Sheridan said, given that the state police agency has no policy on how long revocations should last.
"It strikes me that if someone makes a mistake and redeems themselves, we in government have to look at that," said Sheridan, who has been serving in an acting capacity since June, pending Senate confirmation. He did not elaborate on how the station had changed.

Capt. Robert F. Bambary, commander of the Automotive Safety Enforcement Division, which licenses the state's roughly 1,640 inspection stations, said the handling of Hilltop was unusual.
"I was under orders to put them back in the program, from my boss and from his boss and then up the line," Bambary said.
Asked how often that happens, Bambary said: "Normally, never."
"It's my understanding that [Senator Exum] contacted my superiors," Bambary said.

Sheridan confirmed that Exum has lobbied him on behalf of the service station but played down the senator's impact, saying that he last heard from him on the matter in July. Sheridan said he was unaware of whether Hilltop was a factor in the delay of his confirmation vote. "I suggest you ask Senator Exum," said Sheridan, who previously led the police force in Baltimore County.

Exum declined two attempts in person by Washington Post reporters to discuss issues related to this report and did not return a message left at his Senate office in Annapolis.

The Senate has made a practice this year of confirming people nominated by O'Malley in batches of a dozen or more, with a single vote taken to confirm all nominees.
On Feb. 29, a Friday, Exum asked that Sheridan's nomination be considered separately from a batch pending on the floor and that the vote be delayed for a week. Hilltop received its license to resume operations the following Monday.

Last Friday, the vote on Sheridan was delayed again, with a vote scheduled for today.
After that session, Exum told a reporter that the black caucus thinks Sheridan is not working hard enough to "retain and promote" minorities. "There are all kinds of allegations about people of color," Exum said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), whose district includes part of Prince George's, said it is his understanding that Exum's interest in Hilltop was part of the holdup on Sheridan's nomination.
"Senator Exum has a concern related to his district," Miller said, referring to the Hilltop issue.
James L. Wilson, an owner of Hilltop, credited Exum for helping the station operators get their license back after several previous attempts failed.
"He was able to let us go through the whole process," Wilson said, adding that the restoration of the license was the station's "just due."
Wilson said the reinstatement was deserved because the station had met all qualifications.

The state police agency notified Hilltop of its intention to revoke its license in October 2002. After a hearing, an administrative law judge recommended in May 2003 that Hilltop's license be revoked.
Among the findings in the decision: The maximum number of possible inspections that Hilltop could have legally performed between January and May 2002 was 872. During that period, Hilltop purportedly inspected 2,116 vehicles and issued 2,067 state inspection certificates.

"This was clearly accomplished by completing the inspection reports and certificates with information provided by the persons seeking the certificates and selling the certificates to those persons, never having laid eyes, or their hands, on the vehicles," the judge wrote.
Hilltop operators testified that they had never sold any inspection certificates. But the judge found that a police investigator interviewed three people who had received inspection certificates from Hilltop although their vehicles had not been inspected there.

During a police investigation, the station was put under surveillance for several days. On one day, 10 inspection certificates were issued. None matched the vehicles that entered the station's driveway, the judge wrote.

Hilltop's license was revoked in 2004.

Wilson said that at the time the license was revoked, he had been providing inspections at his shop for 25 years. Wilson said that a judge said he could reapply for a license but outlined no timeline. After that, he said, he was unable to get state action.
"Each time I applied, they would send us a note: 'We received your application, but we're not ready to relicense you,' " Wilson said. "This went on for a couple of years."

Thomas E. Hutchins, Sheridan's predecessor, said Exum sought a meeting with him about Hilltop soon after he was nominated by former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to lead the state police force in December 2003.

"He made a call to me, and I met with him the first month I came into office," Hutchins said.
Hutchins said he recalled being concerned at the time about how long it was taking to determine whether Hilltop's license should be revoked. He said he was not aware of the initiation of a probationary license during his tenure but said the entire issue was "a blip on a radar screen" for him.

Wilson said he was alerted about two or three weeks ago that his shop would be reinspected by state authorities as part of a new licensing process. He said he was told March 3 that the shop had been reapproved as an inspection site.
"The trooper said everything was straight, and they would be coming back with the sign showing that you're an authorized inspection service station," Wilson said.
Wilson said Exum's intervention only helped to ensure that he received a fair shake from state officials.

Sen. Verna L. Jones (D-Baltimore), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, said that the only concerns she has heard regarding Sheridan relate to personnel and allegations of racial profiling by police. She said she was not aware of Exum's concern about Hilltop.

"If that's an issue, that's his issue," Jones said.
Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's) said he had heard "some discussion" of Exum's concern regarding Hilltop.
"I heard it mentioned, but I didn't fully understand it," Currie said. "It was never discussed when we met with the governor or when some African American senators came together."

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