O'Malley ran his first campaign for governor against Ehrlich as anti-gambling, saying that it was bad policy for the state as it ruins people's lives, creates addictions, preys on the poor, and is a heavily regressive tax. HE WAS RIGHT....THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT GAMBLING DOES TO SOCIETY. IT IS BEING PUSHED NOW BECAUSE CORPORATIONS ENVISION THEMSELVES NOT PAYING TAXES AT ALL AND ARE PUSHING ALL THE TAX BASE TO THE MIDDLE/LOWER CLASS.
THAT IS WHAT THE GAMBLING ISSUE IS ABOUT AND O'MALLEY IS ONLY SUPPORTING IT FOR HIS FUTURE ELECTIONS. MAKE IT CLEAR THAT YOU WILL VOTE IT DOWN IN REFERENDUM. CONTACT MARYLAND ASSEMBLY LEADERS BUSCH AND MILLER, O'MALLEY, AND YOUR POLITICIANS THIS NEXT WEEK.
Taxpayers Protection Alliance Survey Results: Marylanders Skeptical of Proposal That Cuts Taxes On Casino Operators
July 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm by SR Staff in: Casino & Gaming
ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) announced today the results of its phone survey on tax rates and building a casino at National Harbor in Maryland. The results showed that state residents remain skeptical about plans to build the casino and give tax breaks to out-of-state casino operators.
David Williams, president of TPA, said, “The results of our survey reinforce what we have been hearing and reading about the views of Maryland residents over the last several months. At a time when the legislature is imposing greater tax burdens on working families, people are not buying the argument that casino operators deserve special treatment and tax cuts. These policies will do little to reverse the trend of Maryland residents leaving the state. Maryland deserves a better tax policy and business climate.”
The survey, conducted from July 10-12, revealed the following:
- “It is wrong to lower taxes on casinos while taxes on Maryland families are going up,” was the most common response to the question on how a respondent felt about the National Harbor proposal.
- Less than one-quarter of respondents expressed outright support for a National Harbor casino.
- Only five percent of respondents thought giving tax breaks to casinos constitutes a “fair” tax policy.
TPA will continue airing the radio ad, “Fair,” which urges the administration and legislature to oppose giving tax breaks to casino operators while raising taxes on Maryland families.
About Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating the public through the research, analysis and dissemination of information on the government’s effects on the economy. For more information, please visit www.protectingtaxpayers.org.
Contact: David Williams
SOURCE Taxpayers Protection Alliance
THIS IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL AND IS NO DOUBT SKEWED, BUT IT HIGHLIGHTS THE COALITION OF GROUPS SPEAKING FOR PUBLIC INTERESTS. PLEASE NOTE THE MORE THE DAMAGING PART OF THIS GAMBLING ISSUE IS THE CREATION OF YET ANOTHER COMMISSION TO DETERMINE THE GAMBLING TAX.....FILLED BY THE GOVERNOR.
We fought hard against the merger of BGE and Exelon last year giving all kinds of data that spelled out for our Third Way politicians the negative impact of giving our local utility to a national and soon global energy corporation. O'Malley fought for it and all Maryland's politiicans were silent on the issue........they let it happen. As a bonus the public received $100 and were assured that no rate increase would happen .....the Maryland Public Service Commission, and O'Malley, and Rawlings-Blake assured us of that. Mind you, there was contempt from politicians about giving the $100 because they see no need to placate the public. Remember, BGE was a public utility and as such was built on taxpayer money......we built the company. As with all public sector assets, the taxpayers build it and the politicians give it to the private sector for a loss. NOW, JUST AS WE KNEW WOULD HAPPEN, EXELON IS ASKING FOR A RATE INCREASE FOR GAS AND ELECTRIC......THEY WANT US TO PAY FOR THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES. Just $7-8 a month they say.
Tell O'Malley, Rawlings-Blake, your politicians, and write a comment letter to the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC) saying enough is enough.....a billion dollar a year corporation like Exelon can pay for the upgrades! They won't be sharing their profits with us. This site has the MPSC information. WATCH FOR THE PUBLIC MEETING SCHEDULE ON THIS ISSUE AND ATTEND ALL THE MEETINGS YOU CAN. THE MEETINGS WILL BE THIS MONTH......AND TELL THEM YOU WANT THIS INDUSTRY RE-REGULATED!!!!! Below you'll see an article from a battle against rate hikes a few years ago.......the issue and facts are the same, just a different merger.
2. BGE RATE HIKES....AGAIN
Exelon (NYSE: EXC) earned $286 million, or 33 cents a share, in the second quarter. That was down 54 percent (drop caused by BGE purchase....a one time thing) from the $620 million, or 93 cents a share, the company earned in second quarter 2011. This is a billion dollar corporation.
Power to the People
Organizations Flock To Annapolis To Protest BGE Rate Hikes
Jefferson Jackson Steele FEED OFF THE ENERGY:
Nnamdi Lumumba (center), who helped organize the Annapolis protest of BGE's rate increases, stands in front of the Governor's mansion and outlines complaints about the rate hikes being imposed on the citizens of Baltimore. By Laura Laing | Posted 7/4/2007
The BGE rate increases might seem like a done deal, but to a group of impassioned activists the fight has just begun. The Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes is expecting electricity customers to rise up in opposition once the June bills hit their mailboxes. The 72 percent rate increase, brought on by the state's deregulation of electric utilities, has been rolled out over a nearly two-year period. Last summer, BGE increased rates by 15 percent. For customers who opted for a rate-stabilization program, another 38 percent increase went into effect on June 1; the remaining 12 percent increase will hit them Jan. 1, 2008. Those BGE customers who didn't sign up for the stabilization program were hit with the full 50 percent upsurge in their June bills.
The group is ready for reregulation, a phenomenon experienced by at least four states across the country, including Maryland's more conservative neighbor to the south, Virginia.
"No one can afford injustice," says coalition Chairman Leo Burroughs, a Bolton Hill retiree who has a long history of social activism. "It's an injustice to working people. It's a kind of economic violence that's been perpetrated on the poor and children and senior citizens."
On June 23, the coalition--which is made up of nine community organizations, including the All People's Congress, Baltimore Green Party, Democracy4Baltimore, and Unity for Action--staged a rally in Annapolis. The event began at Lawyers Mall, in front of the governor's mansion, before the group took an impromptu march through the city.
"Saturday was mighty fine," says Maria Allwine, coalition leader and Green candidate for Baltimore City Council president. About 60 people attended the rally, she says, and 40 more joined in for the march. "We had a lot of support," Allwine says, reporting that onlookers gave them the thumbs-up or honked their horns.
Additional events are planned for the summer, as well as a class-action suit and pressure on legislators to reregulate. Burroughs believes that the group will become stronger and larger as the rate hikes become reality. "Theoretically, [BGE customers] are angry," he says. "Staying the course is what we're about. We must be consistent and active."
Chris Bush, a Baltimore County accountant and self-taught rates expert notes that the reports on the increases have been confusing and difficult to follow. He presented cold, hard numbers at a Senate Finance Committee on March 6--numbers that BGE officials reject.
According to Bush, the total cost of producing and distributing electric power is between 5.85 and 13 cents per kilowatt hour; 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour is needed to cover distribution of the electricity, a rate that is controlled by the Maryland Public Service Commission. Constellation Generation Group owns nine power plants in the state that produce 80 percent of BGE's electricity, with 50 percent generated from nuclear power and 20 percent from coal. Nuclear power costs 3 cents per kilowatt hour to produce, while power generated from coal costs 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Out-of-state production is more costly, since it usually depends on natural gas. Bush notes that this fee is 13 cents per kilowatt hour.
Bush asserts that these figures are not simply the cost of electricity itself but also encompass salaries, overhead, and a 5 percent profit for the company--a notion that BGE officials flatly deny.
"I'm not sure how he would know that," says Rob Gould, chief spokesman for Constellation Energy Group, BGE's parent company. "As with any business, there are other costs involved. It's easy to throw those numbers out, but you could say the same thing about a can of Coke."
But Bush and Allwine don't stop there. They believe that BGE is purchasing in-state electricity at the open-market price of 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour--from Constellation Energy. As Bush describes it, Constellation sells the electricity to other states, and BGE buys it back from outside the state. "They're making massive profits," Bush says, citing the Constellation CEO's $6.9 million salary.
Again, BGE officials deny this. "The power is put on the grid," Gould says. "[Rate increases are] nothing more than a global energy issue." Hurricane Katrina helped up the cost of producing energy, and had the caps not gone into place in 1999, BGE customers would be in exactly the same place they are today, Gould says.
But Bush proposes a blended rate of 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour to take into account the in- or out-of-state production and the different methods of producing electricity. Before June 1, BGE customers were paying 5.85 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity.
So what are the new rates? A whopping 13.6 cents per kilowatt hour. "That's important for people to understand because that's what they're paying now," Bush says. "They're paying 13.6 cents--about double what it costs BGE."
It's certainly double what they were paying, but the process simply doesn't work that way, BGE officials say. Electricity is put out for bid by as many as 10 to 15 qualified suppliers, says Mark Case, BGE's senior vice president for business performance, strategy, and regulatory affairs. It's all about who has the lowest price, he says.
Gould doesn't argue that the rate hikes are "staggering." However, he points to the fact that since caps were instituted in 1999, Constellation shareholders were footing the bill and shouldering the risk for new power plants and maintenance--all in a fluctuating energy market. Reregulation would not solve any problems, he says.
"Assuming you can unscramble that egg, somebody has to pay for it," he says.
In the meantime, Constellation's stock has almost doubled in value, and even before the new rates went into effect the company reported a 72 percent increase in profits in the first quarter of 2007, Allwine says. Gould, however, says these increases are not due to the BGE rate increases; rather, he says, they are due to the fact that the company is the largest producer of electricity in North America.
Case says that generating power is not all about profit, even though Bush says Constellation nets a double-digit percent return on capital. "This is not a windfall profit," Case argues, noting that it is expensive to run, maintain, and shoulder the liabilities associated with power plants.
But these activists aren't just angry with BGE. They're ticked off at Gov. Martin O'Malley, who during his campaign promised to stop the rate increases. Allwine points to an $80,000 campaign contribution by Constellation as proof that O'Malley was bribed. (Robert Ehrlich's campaign received a $70,000 contribution.)
"When companies contribute to a campaign--and they do it all the time--they don't do it because they like the guy or they think he's cute," she says. "It's quid pro quo. Anybody who doesn't believe that the $80,000 that O'Malley took isn't guiding his decisions is just misinformed."
On May 28, Allwine sent a letter to Patricia Jessamy, state's attorney for Baltimore City, alleging that O'Malley was bribed by Constellation and BGE. She hasn't received a response. "Were asking for a bribery investigation," Bush says. The governor's office did not respond to requests for interviews for this story.
The Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes is also pushing for a special session of the General Assembly to discuss reregulation. Del. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) has called for the special session. (Carter is also a candidate for Baltimore City mayor.) Last summer's special session resulted in rolling out the rate increases over a nearly two-year period.
"The legislators, they all go along with it," Allwine says. "All of them have accepted money from BGE--small amounts, but money. Of course it influences their vote, of course it does. Only a fool would think that it doesn't."
Allwine would like to see Baltimore City become more involved in advocating for reregulation. "The city could pressure the state. They're doing nothing, nothing,"she says.
With the increases already in effect, Allwine admits that the coalition is less visible. "When there was a Republican governor around to bash, there were more groups involved," she says. "It's taken us a little longer to get our message out, but it is getting out there."
Meanwhile, advocacy groups like Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are noticeably absent from the coalition. Stuart Katzenberg, head organizer for Maryland ACORN, explains that the organization is helping its members apply for Maryland Energy Assistance Program funds. "Part of it is getting our members resourced up," he says. "There's a kind of yin and yang" with member services and political action.
"This issue is a perfect example of why people don't get involved in politics," Allwine says. "We've been shafted."
Still, the David vs. Goliath fight between activists and BGE is empowering to Burroughs, and additional protests and rallies will be scheduled throughout the summer. "It is incumbent upon us to rally community support to pressure our legislators to reregulate the company," he says.
The school year is gearing up and we have the issue of school privatization looming larger this year. Teach for America, online classes, evaluations used to identify failing schools. My organization will be conducting surveys of families living close to these charter schools to see how they like them and what they want form their community schools. We want the money used to fund these selective schools stopped and those schools returned to public school status.......ie....no restrictions/selections. It will get worse without protest now! BALTIMORE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT ALONZO IS NEW YORK CITY'S MAYOR BLOOMBERG'S BEST FRIEND!
Write and call the Baltimore City and Maryland School Board as well as all your local politicians, the mayor and governor. WE WANT THEM TO KNOW BEFORE THIS SCHOOL YEAR STARTS TO WHERE WE SEE OUR SCHOOLS MOVING!! Watch for the School Board meeting schedule and get out an shout out......KEEP WALL STREET OUT OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
3. WALL STREET IS GEARING UP FOR A PUSH FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market
Reuters | Posted: 08/02/2012 10:16 am Updated: 08/02/2012 12:18 pm
By Stephanie Simon
NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant Rob Lytle was happy to oblige.
Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they're as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They'll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.
"You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up," said Lytle, a partner at The Parthenon Group, a Boston consulting firm. "It could get really, really big."
Indeed, investors of all stripes are beginning to sense big profit potential in public education.
The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.
Traditionally, public education has been a tough market for private firms to break into -- fraught with politics, tangled in bureaucracy and fragmented into tens of thousands of individual schools and school districts from coast to coast.
Now investors are signaling optimism that a golden moment has arrived. They're pouring private equity and venture capital into scores of companies that aim to profit by taking over broad swaths of public education.
The conference last week at the University Club, billed as a how-to on "private equity investing in for-profit education companies," drew a full house of about 100.
In the venture capital world, transactions in the K-12 education sector soared to a record $389 million last year, up from $13 million in 2005. That includes major investments from some of the most respected venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, according to GSV Advisors, an investment firm in Chicago that specializes in education.
The goal: an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards, said Michael Moe, the founder of GSV.
"It's time," Moe said. "Everybody's excited about it."
Not quite everyone.
The push to privatize has alarmed some parents and teachers, as well as union leaders who fear their members will lose their jobs or their autonomy in the classroom.
Many of these protesters have rallied behind education historian Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University, who blogs and tweets a steady stream of alarms about corporate profiteers invading public schools.
Ravitch argues that schools have, in effect, been set up by a bipartisan education reform movement that places an enormous emphasis on standardized test scores, labels poor performers as "failing" schools and relentlessly pushes local districts to transform low-ranked schools by firing the staff and turning the building over to private management.
President Barack Obama and both Democratic and Republican policymakers in the states have embraced those principles. Local school districts from Memphis to Philadelphia to Dallas, meanwhile, have hired private consultants to advise them on improving education; the strategists typically call for a broader role for private companies in public schools.
"This is a new frontier," Ravitch said. "The private equity guys and the hedge fund guys are circling public education."
Some of the products and services offered by private vendors may well be good for kids and schools, Ravitch said. But she has no confidence in their overall quality because "the bottom line is that they're seeking profit first."
Vendors looking for a toehold in public schools often donate generously to local politicians and spend big on marketing, so even companies with dismal academic results can rack up contracts and rake in tax dollars, Ravitch said.
"They're taking education, which ought to be in a different sphere where we're constantly concerned about raising quality, and they're applying a business metric: How do we cut costs?" Ravitch said.
Investors retort that public school districts are compelled to use that metric anyway because of reduced funding from states and the soaring cost of teacher pensions and health benefits. Public schools struggling to balance budgets have fired teachers, slashed course offerings and imposed a long list of fees, charging students to ride the bus, to sing in the chorus, even to take honors English.
The time is ripe, they say, for schools to try something new -- like turning to the private sector for help.
"Education is behind healthcare and other sectors that have utilized outsourcing to become more efficient," private equity investor Larry Shagrin said in the keynote address to the New York conference.
He credited the reform movement with forcing public schools to catch up. "There's more receptivity to change than ever before," said Shagrin, a partner with Brockway Moran & Partners Inc, in Boca Raton, Florida. "That creates opportunity."
Speakers at the conference identified several promising arenas for privatization.
Education entrepreneur John Katzman urged investors to look for companies developing software that can replace teachers for segments of the school day, driving down labor costs.
"How do we use technology so that we require fewer highly qualified teachers?" asked Katzman, who founded the Princeton Review test-prep company and now focuses on online learning.
Such businesses already have been drawing significant interest. Venture capital firms have bet more than $9 million on Schoology, an online learning platform that promises to take over the dreary jobs of writing and grading quizzes, giving students feedback about their progress and generating report cards.
DreamBox Learning has received $18 million from investors to refine and promote software that drills students in math. The software is billed as "adaptive," meaning it analyzes responses to problems and then poses follow-up questions precisely pitched to a student's abilities.
The charter school chain Rocketship, a nonprofit based in San Jose, California, turns kids over to DreamBox for two hours a day. The chain boasts that it pays its teachers more because it needs fewer of them, thanks to such programs. Last year, Rocketship commissioned a study that showed students who used DreamBox heavily for 16 weeks scored on average 2.3 points higher on a standardized math test than their peers.
SPECIAL ED AS A GROWTH MARKET
Another niche spotlighted at the private equity conference: special education.
Mark Claypool, president of Educational Services of America, told the crowd his company has enjoyed three straight years of 15 percent to 20 percent growth as more and more school districts have hired him to run their special-needs programs.
Autism in particular, he said, is a growth market, with school districts seeking better, cheaper ways to serve the growing number of students struggling with that disorder.
ESA, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, now serves 12,000 students with learning disabilities or behavioral problems in 250 school districts nationwide.
"The knee-jerk reaction [to private providers like ESA] is, 'You're just in this to make money. The profit motive is going to trump quality,' " Claypool said. "That's crazy, because frankly, there are really a whole lot easier ways to make a living." Claypool, a former social worker, said he got into the field out of frustration over what he saw as limited options for children with learning disabilities.
Claypool and others point out that private firms have always made money off public education; they have constructed the schools, provided the buses and processed the burgers served at lunch. Big publishers such as Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have made hundreds of millions of dollars selling public school districts textbooks and standardized tests.
Critics see the newest rush to private vendors as more worrisome because school districts are outsourcing not just supplies but the very core of education: the daily interaction between student and teacher, the presentation of new material, the quick checks to see which kids have risen to the challenge and which are hopelessly confused.
At the more than 5,500 charter schools nationwide, private management companies -- some of them for-profit -- are in full control of running public schools with public dollars.
"I look around the world and I don't see any country doing this but us," Ravitch said. "Why is that?"
IF YOU CANNOT COME OUT TO THESE RALLIES ON THE ISSUE OF POLICE BRUTALITY IN BALTIMORE AND THE INJUSTICE OF MAYOR RAWLINGS-BLAKE'S BUDGET, PLEASE WRITE AND CALL HER AND YOUR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS.........OFTEN!!!! THIS IS A GOOD GROUP TO SUPPORT FINANCIALLY....THEY ARE TRULY FIGHTING FOR THE PEOPLE.
4. BALTIMORE'S BUDGET INJUSTICE
Mon., Aug. 6th – 3 P.M. UNITY MARCH* – STOP POLICE BRUTALITY &
ABUSE! JOBS & REC CENTERS NOW!
Gather at the Shot Tower, 801 E. Fayette St, Baltimore, MD 21201
(close to the Market St. subway station)
March to City Hall. Tell the Mayor and City Council – Get abusive
police out of our communities! Community Control Now! Jobs for All!
Keep all of the recreation centers and fire stations open – Say no
Called by: Baltimore Peoples Assembly
For more information call 410-500-2168 or 410-218-4835