Cindy Walsh for Mayor of Baltimore
- Mayoral Election violations
Questionnaires from Community
- Education Questionnaire
- Baltimore Housing Questionnaire
- Emerging Youth Questionnaire
- Health Care policy for Baltimore
- Environmental Questionnaires
- Livable Baltimore questionnaire
- Labor Questionnnaire
- Ending Food Deserts Questionnaire
- Maryland Out of School Time Network
- LBGTQ Questionnaire
- Citizen Artist Baltimore Mayoral Forum on Arts & Culture Questionnaire
- Baltimore Transit Choices Questionnaire
- Baltimore Activating Solidarity Economies (BASE)
- Downtown Partnership Questionnaire
- The Northeast Baltimore Communities Of BelAir Edison Community Association (BECCA )and Frankford Improvement Association, Inc. (FIA)
- Streets and Transportation/Neighbood Questionnaire
- African American Tourism and business questionnaire
- Baltimore Sun Questionnaire
- City Paper Mayoral Questionnaire
- Baltimore Technology Com Questionnaire
- Baltimore Biker's Questionnair
- Homewood Friends Meeting Questionnaire
- Baltimore Historical Collaboration---Anthem Project
- Tubman City News Mayoral Questionnaire
- Maryland Public Policy Institute Questionnaire
- AFRO questionnaire
- WBAL Candidate's Survey
- Trans Pacific Pact (TPP)
- Progressive vs. Third Way Corporate Democrats
Financial Reform/Wall Street Fraud
- Federal Healthcare Reform
- Social Security and Entitlement Reform
- Federal Education Reform
- Government Schedules
State and Local Government
- Maryland Committee Actions
- Maryland and Baltimore Development Organizations
- Maryland State Department of Education
- Baltimore City School Board
Building Strong Media
Media with a Progressive Agenda (I'm still checking on that!)
- "Talk About It" Radio - WFBR 1590AM Baltimore
- Promethius Radio Project
- Clearing the Fog
- Democracy Now
- Black Agenda Radio
- World Truth. TV Your Alternative News Network.
- Daily Censured
- Bill Moyers Journal
- Center for Public Integrity
- Public Radio International
- Baltimore Brew
- Free Press
- Far Left/Socialist Media
- Media with a Third Way Agenda >
- Media with a Progressive Agenda (I'm still checking on that!) >
- Progressive Actions
- Maryland/Baltimore Voting Districts - your politicians and their votes
- Petitions, Complaints, and Freedom of Information Requests
- State of the Democratic Party
- Misc 2
- Misc 3
- Misc 4
- Standard of Review
WALSH FOR GOVERNOR - CANDIDATE INFORMATION AND PLATFORM
- Campaign Finance/Campaign donations
- Speaking Events
- Why Heather Mizeur is NOT a progressive
- Campaign responses to Community Organization Questionnaires
Cindy Walsh vs Maryland Board of Elections
- Leniency from court for self-representing plaintiffs
- Amended Complaint
- Plaintiff request for expedited trial date
- Response to Motion to Dismiss--Brown, Gansler, Mackie, and Lamone
- Injunction and Mandamus
DECISION/APPEAL TO SPECIAL COURT OF APPEALS---Baltimore City Circuit Court response to Cindy Walsh complaint
Brief for Maryland Court of Special Appeals
- Cover Page ---yellow
- Table of Contents
- Table of Authorities
- Leniency for Pro Se Representation
- Statement of Case
- Questions Presented
- Statement of Facts
- Conclusion/Font and Type Size
- Record Extract
- Motion for Reconsideration
- Response to Defendants Motion to Dismiss
- Motion to Reconsider Dismissal
- Brief for Maryland Court of Special Appeals >
- General Election fraud and recount complaints
Cindy Walsh goes to Federal Court for Maryland election violations
- Complaints filed with the FCC, the IRS, and the FBI
- Zapple Doctrine---Media Time for Major Party candidates
- Complaint filed with the US Justice Department for election fraud and court irregularities.
- US Attorney General, Maryland Attorney General, and Maryland Board of Elections are charged with enforcing election law
- Private media has a responsibility to allow access to all candidates in an election race. >
- Polling should not determine a candidate's viability especially if the polling is arbitrary
- Viability of a candidate
- Public media violates election law regarding do no damage to candidate's campaign
- 501c3 Organizations violate election law in doing no damage to a candidate in a race >
- Voter apathy increases when elections are not free and fair
- Maryland Board of Elections certifies election on July 10, 2014
- Maryland Elections ---2016
Regarding Doug Gansler and his running mate having an interview on 'progressive' public media in Maryland:
MY QUESTIONS FOR DOUG GANSLER FOR GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND AS A DEMOCRAT:
Given the State of Maryland was ranked at the bottom nationally for fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency by Center for Public Integrity and other government watchdogs.....do you feel that Doug Gansler has done his duties as Maryland Attorney General? Do you think that turning his head to corporate fraud explains why he has a campaign war chest? Given that it is aiding and abetting when a government official charged with protecting the public ignores crimes against the public, do you think Doug Gansler is a qualified candidate for any office in Maryland but especially governor?
What do you think of violations of election law that has Doug Gansler at election events.....debates and forums where 501c3s select who they want to appear rather than sending the required invitation to all candidates? Gansler is after all the one tasked with making the Federal government aware of election violations at the state level.
Why do you think that Maryland media will only allow the candidates chosen by the 1% of Maryland air time during primaries.......the most global corporate of pols continually saying these are the leaders when the polls are saying 40% of democratic voters are undecided? How many time during the election cycle has you heard the name Anthony Brown------Cindy Walsh?
Let's all work to reinstate free and fair elections in Maryland and at least make sure election laws are not openly violated! Global corporate pols should not even be in democratic primaries for goodness sake-----look at the democratic platform!
CINDY WALSH FOR GOVERNOR CANNOT GET A PEEK IN THE MEDIA BECAUSE OF THIS CAPTURE ----ALL 3 CANDIDATES BROWN, GANSLER, AND MIZEUR ARE CORPORATE AND CALLED FRONT-RUNNERS WITH 1% OF THE VOTERS POLLED GIVING THEM 10% OF THE VOTE.
This week, Nomi Prins, a former managing partner at Goldman Sachs wrote about the long history of how the nation’s biggest bankers have controlled presidents throughout the last century. She writes: “With so much power in the hands of an elite few, America operates more as a plutocracy on behalf of the upper caste than a democracy or a republic. Voters are caught in the crossfire of two political parties vying to run Washington in a manner that benefits the banking caste, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican is sitting in the Oval.”
Bill Henry is the most captured Johns Hopkins neo-conservative in Baltimore.....and I do not promote Joan Carter Conway. When a pol states that no one cares about the poor.....when he states that he has no way to stop injustice..... RAISE YOUR VOICE AGAINST INJUSTICE BILL! Please stop allowing the same corporate shills run for office unopposed. If you do not engage as citizens you will lose the status of citizen!!!!
In North Baltimore, a debate about power in Annapolis Conway warns that a win by challenger Henry would diminish city's influence in Annapolis
- By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 7:41 a.m. EDT, April 28, 2014
Bill Henry paints an unflattering image of the influential state senator he's trying to unseat.
Joan Carter Conway, he says, doesn't attend enough community meetings. She has a history of siding with special interests. And, he contends, she has let her powerful committee chairmanship in the General Assembly lead to an inflated view of her significance.
"There's this whole culture in Annapolis where these people are treated as though they're tremendously important, and after some time, that goes to their heads," says Henry, 45, a two-term city councilman who is challenging Conway in the Democratic primary in Baltimore's 43rd District. "They forget they're the people we chose to speak for us."
Conway, a member of the Assembly since 1997, has a concise response for that line of argument: If Bill Henry wins, North Baltimore will be stripped of its leverage. As a freshman senator, he would be chairman of nothing, and his legislation would go nowhere. "He won't have the same influence," she says.
At the center of the contest is a debate about power. Has Conway, 63, wielded it wisely? And is it worth sacrificing for a fresh start?
Chairwoman of the Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, Conway has influenced countless pieces of legislation. She summarily killed a bill to ban fracking, drawing some criticism. She played a key role in securing $1.1 billion in construction funding for Baltimore schools, winning applause.
She cast a key, if reluctant, vote for same-sex marriage. And as an Ultimate Fighting Championship event descends upon Baltimore this weekend — generating millions of dollars in projected economic activity — mixed martial arts fans can thank Conway, who sponsored the legislation to legalize the sport in Maryland.
The veteran lawmaker — who once ran on a City Council ticket with now-Gov. Martin O'Malley — views her greatest achievements as supporting funding for education and senior housing. She said voters should support her for her "leadership skills, the position that I hold and the influence that I bring to the table."
Henry and his supporters argue her effort in the community has been lacking, and her priorities are often misplaced. They say she's too cozy with some in the liquor industry, who are donors to her campaign.
"She is far more concerned with protecting moneyed interests than I would like," Henry says.
Jody Landers, a real estate agent and former city councilman, who is supporting Henry, says Conway has been reluctant to accept change at the city liquor board, where her husband, Vernon "Tim" Conway, works as an inspector. Conway's campaign treasurer, Harvey Jones, is a liquor board commissioner.
After a state audit found widespread inefficiency, poor record keeping and inconsistent enforcement at the agency, legislation to impose changes cleared the General Assembly this year. As it moved forward, Conway added a last-minute amendment to ban new licenses in the Belvedere neighborhood — drawing criticism that the measure had not been discussed with the community. Others intervened to put her ban on hold for a year to give citizens time to weigh in.
"I don't think Joan has been very helpful with these whole liquor board issues," Landers says. "She was very close to that situation and really just accepted the status quo."
Conway brushes away such criticism, calling it "craziness" and saying she is not in fact close to the board.
She has many supporters. With $134,000 in the bank, she has raised much more money than Henry, who has $8,000. She's also picked up endorsements from City Council members Mary Pat Clarke and Robert W. Curran.
"Bill is a very dear friend of mine. and we work together very well," Clarke says. "But Joan has been a great, great help for me and our mutual constituents — especially what she's done for children in my district." Clarke credits Conway with helping preserve funding for two child care centers.
For his part, Henry points to his tenure on the City Council, where he's gained a reputation as an active and independent voice. He has introduced legislation aimed at weakening Baltimore's "strong mayor" system of government, called on the state to cover costs from Maryland's tax bill errors, and opposed the $107 million in public financing for the Harbor Point development, arguing for a smaller incentive package.
Henry was a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage years before Conway endorsed the measure. "I introduced the first resolution for marriage equality on the council, years before it was fashionable," he says.
He realizes he's outgunned when it comes to campaign money, but he says he's not worried. He's been attending community meetings regularly for years, he says, and his signs proliferate in the district, which includes the neighborhoods of Charles Village, Better Waverly, Homeland, Lake Walker and Lauraville.
Henry says his grass-roots campaign will beat out a flood of glossy fliers.
Below you see a poll released that looked at less than a 1,000 democratic voters in a state with 900,000 registered democrats. You see the media says that high undecided means people do not care------it means the media is not showing them my campaign which is what people want!
EVERY MEDIA OUTLET IN MARYLAND CARRIES THE SAME ELECTION COVERAGE.
This is Cindy Walsh for Governor of Maryland on the democratic labor and justice ticket. When I look at these polls taken on the governor's race I can only wonder-----is that 54% undecided democratic voter simply looking for my campaign? When I keep seeing only Gansler, Brown, and Mizeur in all media coverage ------when a poll shows the democratic names of the same people with a huge margin of undecided-----is it really an accurate poll and do we really have free and fair elections in Maryland?
I look at the venues with which you partner and I visit them often .....and none of them mention Cindy Walsh for Governor of Maryland.
Now, I have as much experience in administration and a life connected to politics with activism so none of these candidates have any more ability for the position of governor. So, what determines their constant media coverage? Campaign money. At a time when the entire US is shouting foul about corporate and wealth money in elections do we really need arenas like universities and public media -----and a polling institution -----making election winners and losers from which candidate has the most money? Wouldn't it be conducive to free and fair elections to make the platforms available and allow platforms to determine the winners and losers?
Thank you for your time,
Analysis: New Poll Confirms No One Cares About Race for Md. Governor
Posted on April 23, 2014
Political Commentary by Todd Eberly, for MarylandReporter.com
Who will live in Government House, the governor’s residence next year?
The inaugural Maryland Poll from St. Mary’s College of Maryland surveyed the political landscape heading into the 2014 primary election and found that most Marylanders have absolutely no preference when it comes to the candidates for governor.
The poll is in line with prior polls for Gonzales Research, The Baltimore Sun, and The Washington Post. Much like those polls, the Maryland Poll finds a very unsettled race for the GOP nomination and a Democratic race where the favorite, the sitting two term lieutenant governor, is being beaten by “No Preference” by a 2 to 1 margin.
The 2014 primary is two months away and yet most voters appear to have no firm commitments to the candidates.
No firm commitments
Specifically, the poll finds Anthony Brown with 27% support, followed by Douglas Gansler at 11% and Heather Mizeur at 8%. But fully 54% expressed no preference.
In a three-way race, Brown is close to the 34% that would be sufficient to win a closely matched election. But much like the other candidates, he has been unable to expand his base of support even after a year of campaigning and advertising.
Gansler has been hammering away at Brown on the issue of Maryland’s failed health exchange, but with 11% support the issue does not appear to be helping him.
Mizeur has been generating a lot of coverage and interest of late owing to her unapologetically progressive campaign. She has embraced a living wage, physician-assisted suicide, a moratorium on fracking, legalization of marijuana, and host of other progressive wish list items. Yet she’s made no noticeable progress in winning over potential voters.
Brown’s to lose
The Democratic primary remains Brown’s to lose and it’s likely that the upcoming debates will present the final opportunities for either Gansler or Mizeur to change that reality.
Interestingly, Gansler seems to have shifted his strategy. Early on, he presented himself as a centrist, pro-business Democrat. Recently, he has de-emphasized those qualities and instead focused on more progressive policy issues. This was a mistake.
In a three way race with two candidates already chasing the progressive vote, the smart move is to target the voters that the other two are ignoring. Gansler needs to pivot back to the center. His only path to victory requires Brown and Mizeur to split the progressive vote while Gansler goes for the moderate and conservative Democrats still in the party.
GOP’s disastrous situation
On the Republican side the poll finds a disastrous situation for the state’s permanent minority party.
More than two-thirds of Maryland Republican voters have no preference. Larry Hogan claims the support of 16%, followed by David Craig at 7.8%. Neither Ron George nor Charles Lollar were able to crack 4%.
Maryland is a very tough nut for Republicans to crack. Democrats enjoy a 2 to 1 voter registration advantage and Republicans are rarely ever able to overcome the Democrats’ advantages in the state’s population centers.
For a Republican to win, the nominee would need several things to break his or her way.
-- The Democratic party must be divided after the primary. That could certainly happen this year.
-- The Democratic electorate must lack passion for the party’s nominee. That could certainly happen this year.
-- It must be a good year for Republicans nationally (like in 1994, 2002, or 2010). That could certainly happen this year.
Beyond those three ingredients, a Republican candidate also needs a unified and passionate Republican party and an electorate frustrated with the direction of the state. Neither of those two ingredients are present.
Not enough dissatisfaction
With regard to the direction of the state: Though the poll found a plurality of 46% agreeing that the state is going in the wrong direction, another 41% said it was going in the right direction. That margin is not sufficient for a Republican to overcome the Democrats’ built in advantages.
Keep in mind, Bob Ehrlich had an approval rating above 50% when he lost the 2006 election by 6 percentage points.
A clear majority of poll respondents supported increasing the minimum wage and reported that the Affordable Care Act either helped their families or had no effect on them, a slim majority supported decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, and pluralities supported affirmative action, the fracking moratorium and gun control.
In a particularly interesting finding, the survey asked respondents how they were registered and then later asked what party they consider themselves to be a member of. The voter registration numbers essentially match state records – 53% Democrat, 28% Republican, and 18.5% Independent or other.
When asked how they see themselves, the breakdown was 44% Democrat, 25% Republican, and 31% Independent or other. The breakdown shows that there is an opportunity for the GOP in the state, but only if the party can broaden its appeal and only if party activists accept that the party cannot win without attracting Independent voters.
No frontrunners in GOP
Several months ago, as I was arguing that David Craig represented the GOP’s best chance at reclaiming the governor’s mansion, many Republican activists challenged my assertion. Both privately and via social media these activists suggested a much stronger candidate existed and would soon enter the race and energize the party. They were referring to Larry Hogan.
Well, Hogan’s in the race and he is the “frontrunner.” But in a race where 64% of potential primary voters have no preference, there are no frontrunners. Hogan has not lit the fire that many were expecting.
Likewise, Craig has not run the experienced, well managed campaign that I was expecting. Craig sought to shore up the GOP base by taking a distinct right turn (thereby harming his ability to win in November) and Hogan has adopted a play it safe strategy by skipping forum after forum (thereby harming his credibility).
And no GOP candidate has any real success raising money. All four candidates combined could barely reach $1 million - meanwhile, Gansler and Brown are each sitting on multiple millions.
As things stand today, it’s hard to see the GOP reclaiming the keys to Government House.
Todd Eberly is associate professor of political science and Coordinator of Public Policy Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He is currently on sabbatical writing a book, and had no involvement in the new poll.
There is a direct connection to candidates who receive large campaign donations and candidates who are going to work against the interest of the public and who will not hold power accountable. WE THE PEOPLE must start ignoring campaign media judge candidates who have war chests with caution. Look at the campaigns of those in the race the media sideline and who do not have lots of money-----they may be the ones who will actually work for the people.
Inside City Hall: A mayor who literally spends her political capital Nearly as fast as Rawlings-Blake's political committee has gotten campaign donations, it has spent them. The Brew's series, "Money and Politics in Baltimore," continues with a look at the mayor's cash machine.
Mark Reutter April 22, 2014 at 9:28 am Baltimore Brew
Rawlings-Blake tweeted this photo of herself appearing last month on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” Last year, the mayor’s campaign committee paid $29,000 to a prominent Washington, D.C., consultant for polling.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake doesn’t abide by the old saw that the best offense in electoral politics is a fearsome war chest.
After burning through all but $30,000 of the $1.9 million she raised to win a full term as Baltimore’s mayor in 2011, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has gone on to pick up another $535,465 in political contributions over the last two years.
That’s a lot of money, but it tells only half the story.
Nearly as fast as her political committee has gotten the money, it’s been spending it. Records reviewed by The Brew show that the “Rawlings-Blake For Baltimore” committee has used up $345,276 since January 2012. That’s nearly $2 out of every $3 raised.
While much of the money has gone to the mayor’s fundraising consultant, Colleen Martin-Lauer, there were several other intriguing expenditures.
The secretive Colleen Martin-Lauer in an undated photo.
The committee, for example, forked over $29,000 last August to Peter D. Hart Research, a Washington, D.C., pollster for “survey/polling” on behalf of the mayor. Rawlings-Blake is now listed as one of Hart’s few “down ballot” clients who do not hold federal or statewide office.
The mayor’s involvement with such a prominent Democratic Party consulting firm lends credence to speculation that the mayor – who has become a frequent guest on national news programs following her 2013 appointment as secretary of the Democratic National Committee – aspires to higher office.
(She told a Daily Record reporter last month that she plans to run again for mayor, though she seemed reluctant to confirm it at a City Hall news conference.)
Charles G. “Chuck” Tildon, the mayor’s campaign treasurer, did not respond to e-mailed questions about the poll expenditures.
Payment to Mayor’s Spokesman
Another $6,100.80 was paid to Kevin R. Harris, a former DNC operative who was hired by the mayor as her $110,000-a-year spokesman. Harris received the check last October 23, according to campaign records, or two months after he assumed his post as director of the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Communications.
Harris said the following when questioned by The Brew: “My consulting work for the mayor was performed before I began my service with the city and did not overlap with my time as policy and communications director. The services I performed touched on a broad range of areas, including communications and campaign strategy.
“While the disbursement was October,” Harris added, “the actual work was performed earlier in the year. The delay was due to a slow turnaround on my end in providing the campaign with an invoice.”
This is how you know the Senate leadership are neo-liberals....working for global corporations and profit....you see a raging oil and gas politician as Energy Chair....so there was never any intent by Senate leaders to stop natural gas exporting or the Trans Pacific Trade Pact TPP.
STOP ALLOWING THE DNC TO CHOOSE YOUR CANDIDATES----RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE TO STOP THESE POLICIES.
Did you hear your incumbent shout loudly that this oil and gas politician was made head of the energy committee? Mikulski and Cardin are working for Maryland's export terminal.
Web Only / Features » March 26, 2014
Gas Export Push Gains Steam, Bulldozing Environmental Concerns The Senate and House Energy Committees call to fast-track liquefied natural gas exports.
BY Cole Stangler Email Print The conversation on the Hill this week, however, was marked by a glaring omission—an actual back-and-forth discussion about the environmental impact of exports. The Senate hearing featured no mention of climate change at all—a frustrating oversight, no doubt, for many of the environmental groups who have raised the case that LNG exports would accelerate the effects of climate change.
Congress is inching closer to fast-tracking natural gas exports—a reform backed by the fracking industry that has found new momentum in light of the crisis in Crimea.
On Tuesday, the Senate and House Energy Committees both held hearings on boosting liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. The House Committee focused on Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)’s H.R. 6, which would streamline the Department of Energy’s export application process by fast-tracking exports to all WTO countries. (Current law expedites applications to a much shorter list of countries that share free trade agreements with the United States.) Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs tackled the subject, without devoting itself to any one of the many pieces of legislation that would ease the DOE’s export rules. Later in the week, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) plan to attach amendments to an aid package for Ukraine that would liberalize LNG export policy.
Supporters of these measures argue that boosting American gas exports would undermine Russia’s geostrategic influence over its U.S.-allied neighbors. Moscow’s state-owned energy company, Gazprom, currently provides Europe with 30 percent of its gas supply; Ukraine, meanwhile, gets 70 percent of its gas from Russia.
“The last thing Putin and his cronies want is competition from the United States of America in the energy race,” said Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), presiding over her first hearing since becoming chair of the Energy Committee. “Tyrants and dictators throughout history have had many reasons to fear revolutions. And this U.S. energy revolution is one they should all keep their eyes on.”
The next frontier, then, for natural gas is overseas—an economic reality that took shape well before the Kremlin’s latest military aggression: Over the last decade, fracking and horizontal drilling have lead to skyrocketing gas production and cheap prices stateside. That’s caused a growing number of U.S. producers to consider shipping their fracked gas abroad, to places like Europe or Asia, where natural gas commands much higher prices. From as early as 2011, gas producers have sung the praises of LNG exports to Capitol Hill. Since then, they’ve earned the blessing of representatives from gas-rich states like Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Texas and Wyoming.
Today’s most fervent advocates of LNG exports are no strangers to the cause. But the specter of Russian imperialism has given these champions new impetus, and grabbed the attention of the mainstream press like never before. The editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, two of the nation’s three most widely circulated newspapers, both endorsed easing export rules this month, casting reforms in a geostrategic light. Readers of the New York Times, meanwhile, were treated to a column from Thomas Friedman calling for the U.S. to compete with Russia in an “Earth Race.”
The United States currently lacks export capacity—the first LNG export terminal isn’t scheduled to start shipping until late 2015, and others aren’t expected to be active before 2017 or 2018. But streamlining the application process now would likely pay future dividends. As such, the gas industry has welcomed the unexpected interest with open arms.
“We didn’t gin up the Ukrainian crisis,” Center for Liquefied Natural Gas President Bill Cooper told reporters on Monday. “We didn't gin up the idea that it ought to be connected in some way to LNG exports. But Congress did, obviously, and a lot of editorials, experts and geopolitical analysts have all jumped on that. We appreciate the attention that LNG exports are receiving, and if it does provide a catalyst to make something happen that heretofore has not, then we're going to be very happy with that.”
This week’s hearings would seem to indicate Cooper’s side faces little pushback in Washington.
With some exceptions—the House committee’s ranking member, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), criticized the notion of “rubber-stamping unlimited LNG exports without any determination that they are in the public interest”—the three hearings generally featured support for boosting exports and speeding up the DOE review process.
That might have had something to do with the witnesses, many of whom, as Steve Horn has reported, have industry ties. Arguably, the most enthusiastic defense of exports came from David Montgomery, senior vice president at NERA Economic Consulting, who testified at both energy committee hearings. His firm’s clients include Louisiana’s Cheniere Energy, which operates the LNG terminal that’s scheduled to open in late 2015. Montgomery in his prepared remarks noted that “he do[es] not speak for Cheniere.”
While advocates of export reform acknowledge that the immediate material impact of reforming the permitting process is negligible, they argue that the signal to Russia is crucial.
“While we won’t be able to ‘turn the spigot’ and bring immediate energy to our allies around the globe, we can send a signal to the rest of the world that help is on the way,” America’s Natural Gas Alliance President and CEO Marty Durbin said in a statement. “Doing nothing on natural gas exports, as some would prefer, would allow other countries with abundant natural gas to leap ahead of us in LNG export capacity and technologies.”
The conversation on the Hill this week, however, was marked by a glaring omission—an actual back-and-forth discussion about the environmental impact of exports.
The Senate hearing featured no mention of climate change at all—a frustrating oversight, no doubt, for many of the environmental groups who have raised the case that LNG exports would accelerate the effects of climate change. On March 18, the leaders of sixteen different national and regional green groups, including 350.org, Food & Water Watch, and the Sierra Club, sent a letter to President Obama, asking that the administration stop approving gas export facilities. The DOE has already approved seven such terminals.
“It is alarming that there was no mention at all of climate change in today’s Senate Energy Committee hearing,” says Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). “Credible new analysis shows that the ‘life-cycle’ greenhouse gas emissions of fracked, liquefied, and exported U.S. gas could be as bad as coal. Natural gas is just another harmful fossil fuel, especially when liquefied and sent to the other side of the planet for combustion.”
Tidwell’s group, CCAN, has led opposition to the proposed conversion of an LNG import facility at Cove Point in Lusby, Md., into an export terminal.
When asked by In These Times about her hearing’s omission of climate change, Landrieu defended herself.
“I want to be open to [environmentalists’] positions,” Landrieu said. “I don’t want to be close-minded in any way. But there is an environmental panel that works in Washington and they could bring their concerns there. This is an energy lands committee where we want to both promote and focus on energy production. Its impact on the environment is important but not primary.”
With a hodge-podge of bills and potential amendments up for debate in both chambers, it’s unclear what steps Congress will take next. Landrieu told reporters that it was up to party leadership to decide what amendments would be allowed.
She praised Sen. Udall’s proposal that, like Rep. Gardner’s bill, expands the list of fast-tracked list of countries to include all WTO countries. Unlike Gardner’s legislation, however, Udall’s version doesn’t take the additional step of triggering the approval of all pending applications for which a notice has been issued in the Federal Register.
Whatever happens this week, exports are likely to remain on the legislative agenda for the remainder of the session.
“This committee is going to be very focused on a true domestic energy production policy for this country,” Landrieu said. “This is important for jobs in America but it’s important for America’s strength and for democratic expansion in the world.”
It also is important for the 2014 election cycle.
Recent polls show Landrieu trailing her GOP opponent this fall by a small margin. As she tries to fend off that challenge, Landrieu has reeled in more cash from the oil and gas industry than any other Democratic member of Congress. Senator Udall, too, faces a tough re-election bid, and, in this campaign cycle, he ranks just below Landrieu when it comes to energy industry contributions to Democrats. His leading opponent in the GOP primary? That would be fellow gas export champion Rep. Cory Gardner.
As another candidate for Governor of Maryland I intend to end corporatization of universities in Maryland effectively lowering the cost of education by ending corporate subsidy and getting back to universities as places of education. Capping tuition only allows more and more administrative costs eat at the actual delivery of education.....classroom instruction and professor wage and benefits.
As I said, the costs of education lie with the administrative structures put into place while corporatizing the universities. The policy of sending all higher education financial aid to community colleges to pay for corporate job training....making community colleges Human Resources departments paid for by the public.....is taking away most funding for students needing and wanting to attend strong 4 year colleges. Corporations can train their own employees after all partnered with union apprenticeships. Community college vocational classes are fine, but building the entire structure of these schools on job training is not.
Capping tuition does not address that the tuition is already too high.
Walsh for Governor of Maryland
Brown pledges to cap college tuition
Erin Cox The Baltimore Sun 4:13 p.m. EDT, March 12, 2014
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown pledged Wednesday to cap rising tuition costs at Maryland's colleges if he is elected governor.
Brown, a Democrat, vowed in a statement he would limit annual tuition increases to 3 percent. To keep that promise, Brown said he would use state tax dollars to offset any other rising costs at colleges. He did not specify
The University of Maryland's Board of Regents sets tuition rates at the state's colleges, although the amount of the increase is usually impacted by how much money the state government allocates for higher education.
This year, for instance, Gov. Martin O'Malley budgeted an extra $10 million for higher education so that tuition would rise by only 3 percent instead of 5 percent.
Brown faces Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County in the June 24 primary election.
Baltimore City politicians protecting Johns Hopkins education privatization policies.
This is why we have the only city in the country silent about all of these privatization policies that hurt everyone, but the underserved communities the most!
March 14, 2014; Issue 79
THE WEEK THAT WAS IN ANNAPOLIS
· “Common Sense for Common Core” Agenda on the Move
SB 676 Passes the Senate; Vote 46-1
The best news of the week is that SB 676 passed out of the Senate with only one no vote (Senator Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore City, District 46). As amended, this legislation codifies the moratorium on the use of the state standardized test for personnel decisions until at least the 2016-17 school year and further clarifies the narrow authority of the State Department of Education in the development of a “default” teacher and principal evaluation model. The bill now moves to the House of Delegates.
In Show of Direct Democracy, Vermont Pushes for Public
Fifteen towns approve resolution that would establish bank
that works for people of Vermont, not Wall Street
- Jon Queally, staff writer
By a more than three-to-one margin on
Tuesday, communities voting on whether to support the creation of a public bank
in Vermont approved the idea, calling for the state legislature to establish
such a bank and urging passage of legislation designed to begin its
In a show of direct democracy that also exposed
the citizenry's desire for a more localized and responsible banking system,
fifteen of nineteen towns passed the resolution during 'Town Meeting Day'— an
annual event in which voters choose local officials, approve municipal budgets,
and make their voices heard on a number of measures put before local residents
The specific proposal under consideration, Senate Bill 204, would
turn an existing agency, the Vermont Economic
Development Authority, into a public bank that
would accept deposits and issue loans for in-state projects. Currently, the only
state in the U.S. to maintain a public state bank is North Dakota. However,
since the financial downturn of 2008, other states have looked into replicating
the North Dakota model as a way to buck Wall Street while taking more control of
state and local finances.
Voicing his support of the measure ahead of Tuesday's vote, Gary
Murphy, a resident of South Ryegate, one of the towns that subsequently approved
the measure, explained the thinking
behind the plan this way in a letter to the local Times-Argus:
Senate bill 204 would expand the Vermont Economic Development
Authority to become a state bank and would start out by depositing 10 percent of
Vermont’s unrestricted money into the state bank. The bank would be able to
leverage this money by means available only to banks to bolster the economy of
the state and cut down on the interest payments and fees that are presently paid
to out-of-state financial institutions and other entities. The bank would not
engage in retail banking and would not compete with community banks; it would
work with community banks to maintain their viability and expand their ability
to help create better economic outcomes for Vermonters by partnering with them
in projects they would not be able to engage in on their own.
Presently, large public projects are, to a large extent, funded by
bonding and other private investment which requires the state to pay interest
and fees that often do not get recycled into the local economy. Bond sales are
managed by Wall Street firms, which seem to rig everything they can to further
enrich themselves. In addition to the fees that they charge for this service, it
is possible that they are rigging the process to divert funds that would
otherwise be available to the state into their own pockets. While the cost of
bonding is relatively cheap now, it will likely increase in the next few years
if not sooner and the bond market could dry up. Creating a state bank now and
growing it could put us in a position where we can substantially lessen the need
to float bonds to fund large public projects.
According to Vermont Public Radio, unofficial results on
Wednesday showed the following towns had approved the resolution: Bakersfield,
Craftsbury, Enosburg, Marshfield, Montgomery, Montpelier Plainfield, Putney,
Randolph, Rochester, Royalton, Ryegate, Tunbridge, Warren, and Waitsfield. The
four towns that voted down the measure were: Marlboro, Barnet and Fayston and
Regarding coming elections in Maryland and for President:
Did you know that neo-liberals in Maryland think we are a Clinton state? Did you know that neo-liberals are only 20% of the democratic party and that Clinton killed the 80% of labor and justice of the party and the middle-class? THAT ISN'T ON THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM!!!!!!
Indeed, so far the 2016 Presidential race has nothing but neo-liberals....from Hillary to Biden and Cuomo to O'Malley.....all Clinton neo-liberals and all bad for labor and justice.
We thank Bernie Sanders for his voice on real progressive issues. He is not afraid to stand up and shout against the banks and corporate power in government.
A CINDY WALSH FOR GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND WIN WOULD HAVE A CHEERLEADER FOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR MARYLAND. You may not be that far left but Rule of Law, TPP, and corporate and government accountability are a must to have a democracy!
Sen. Bernie Sanders 'Prepared' To Run For President
By Susie Madrak March 6, 2014 1:14 pm
Good. Here's hoping he does it!
It's my fondest wish that Bernie runs in the Democratic primary -- or the general. We have to find a way to get a more populist message through the thick skulls of the Democratic leadership. Here's part of an interview he just did for The Nation's John Nichols:
What you seem to be saying is that, as a presidential candidate, you would try to make the very difficult combination of not just being a personality that people would like, or at least want to vote for, but also educate people about what is possible.
My whole life in politics has been not just with passing legislation or being a good mayor or senator, but to educate people. That is why we have hundreds of thousands of people on my Senate email list, and why I send an email to all Vermonters every other week. It is why I have held hundreds of town meetings in Vermont, in virtually every town in the state.If you ask me now what one of the major accomplishments of my political life is, it is that I helped double the voter turnout in Burlington, Vermont. I did that because people who had given up on the political process understood that I was fighting for working families, that we were paying attention to low and moderate-income neighborhoods rather than just downtown or the big-money interests. In fact, I went to war with virtually every part of the ruling class in Burlington during my years as mayor. People understood that; they said, “You know what? Bernie is standing with us. We’re going to stand with him.” The result is that large numbers of people who previously had not participated in the political process got involved. And that’s what we have to do for the whole country.
I think one of the great tragedies that we face today politically, above and beyond the simple economic reality of the collapse of the middle-class, more people living in poverty, growing gap between the rich and poor, the high cost of education—all those objective, painful realities in American society—the more significant reality from a political perspective is that most people have given up on the political process. They understand the political deck is stacked against them. They think there is no particular reason for them to come out and vote—and they don’t.
The wealthy are buying huge chunks of real estate often with the very money that needs to come back to government coffers from fraud. Progressive taxation is the strongest method of bringing that ill-gotten money back. What the Maryland Assembly has done is redefine estates making them larger and now tax-free. This is what allowed Royalty in Europe to own vast estates supported with peasant taxes. SAME THING IS HAPPENING HERE.
CONSOLIDATION OF LAND OWNERSHIP WITH WEALTH. THIS IS WHAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF AMERICA WROTE THE US CONSTITUTION TO PROTECT AGAINST. REMEMBER, THE IDEA OF ESTATE TAX AND INHERITANCE TAX WAS THAT EACH GENERATION WOULD START ANEW ON EQUAL FOOTING SO ARISTOCRATS GARNERING OVER-SIZED POWER COULD NOT GAIN HOLD.
Maryland pols are neo-liberals working for wealth and profit!
Assembly leaders agree on cutting estate taxes January 09, 2014 at 8:31 pm
By Len Lazarick
Cemetery by kathleenie on flickr
Democratic leaders have agreed to reduce Maryland’s high estate tax by recoupling it to federal standards for taxing a dead person’s assets. The “death tax” is considered one of the reasons that wealthy retirees choose to leave Maryland for states with lower taxes.
“We’re going to phase out the estate tax,” Senate President Mike Miller not quite accurately told a conference of the Maryland Economic Development Association Thursday, “and raise it to the federal level.”
“I hope we’re going to move forward on the inheritance and estate tax,” Miller said.
House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch, speaking on the same panel of Assembly leaders, said, “I think we have to recouple with the federal government … I think it is a fairness issue.”
The move would have cut Maryland taxes by $14 million this fiscal year and by as much as $87 million four years from now. The estate and inheritance tax represents less than 2% of all Maryland revenues, about $227 million this year. Very few estates actually pay any taxes.
Only 14 states tax estates
Maryland is one of only 14 states that taxes the assets left by deceased residents, and one of only seven states that taxes inheritance, the levy heirs must pay on the money left to them, according to an October report by legislative staff. New Jersey and Maryland are the only two states that impose both a tax on the deceased’s assets, and a tax on any money given to heirs.
Maryland now taxes estates worth over $1 million at 16%. The federal government now excludes the first $5 million of estates from taxes, but takes 40% of anything over that.
Maryland and other states had long followed the federal standards on estate taxes. In 2002, as Congress sought to reduce federal death taxes, Maryland chose to “decouple” its estate tax from the higher federal exclusion.
Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday he hadn’t considered any change in the estate tax, but “I’m glad to talk with them [Miller and Busch]” about it. He would like to see “some compelling evidence that we’re losing more than we gain” by taxing estates differently than the federal standard.
In 2012, O’Malley signed legislation setting the estate limit on family-owned farms at $5 million.
Senate Republican Leader David Brinkley, who is a financial advisor, said, “I applaud the idea of trying to recouple with the federal government.” House Minority Leader Nic Kipke said he was “happy to hear about reducing taxes.”
House Republicans are proposing to cut personal income taxes by 10% this year.
These BWI workers have been shouting out for years and as with the Hyatt hotel workers were openly exploited while the state and city were partnered with Hyatt and AirMall. THESE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS MAKE CITY HALL AND MARYLAND ASSEMBLY COMPLICIT IN THE EXPLOITATION. Now, Unite Here comes along and works to organize these workers and all of a sudden City Hall and Jack Young is the face of fighting wealth inequity.
Wage theft, subcontracting to subcontractors out of state, privatization of all that is public, suspending Rule of Law so massive fraud and corruption takes all revenue......THAT IS WHAT CAUSES WEALTH INEQUITY AND BALTIMORE CITY HALL AND MARYLAND ASSEMBLY ARE THE FACE OF THIS!
City Council fights for income equality
Tony Brown begins each shift as a cook at BWI-Marshall Airport knowing he will earn substantially less per hour than a similarly skilled worker at the same airport.
An employee of AirMall USA, a national company that runs concessions at BWI, Brown makes nearly $5 less per hour than the lowest paid employees of the Maryland Aviation Authority. The Maryland General Assembly is considering legislation that would create an equality supplement to temporarily close the gap between the wages of concessions workers, like Mr. Brown, and their counterparts with the Maryland Aviation Authority.
Many of the workers affected by this bill are residents of Baltimore City whose hard work serves our local economy. Their hourly wage of $8.50 is equivalent to what concessions workers were paid on average in 2011.
On Monday, I attended a press conference at Baltimore’s City Hall that was organized by UNITE HERE Local 7 and hosted by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who recently introduced a resolution in support of state action. Mr. Brown, a northeast Baltimore resident, spoke eloquently at Monday’s press event about his desire to receive fair pay for his hard work.
“We happily work to help the airport run and grow,” Mr. Brown said. “However, we are still struggling to pay our bills and take care of our families.”
Monday, I joined Councilwoman Clarke, State Senator Catherine E. Pugh, Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn, Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton and union leaders to call for an end to the injustice of paying our workers substandard wages for honest work..
The Thurgood Marshall Equal Pay Act is not only in line with the honorable values of its namesake, but also with the Raise Maryland effort that seeks to increase the state minimum wage.
The promise of America is that hard work will put food on the table and a roof over head. We need to help keep this dream alive by offering workers decent wages for their labor.
Please contact your state legislator and ask them to support Senate Bill 0725 and House Bill 0883.
Bernard C. "Jack" Young
President, Baltimore City Council
THIS IS A BLOG
Regarding poll saying Marylanders are for Hillary Clinton:
NEO-LIBERALISM IS DEAD AND TAKES ALL OUR MONEY THROUGH FRAUD AND CORRUPTION AND ALL WE GET IS A TEE SHIRT....LITERALLY!
You know, all I hear in Maryland media is that Maryland is a Clinton state. Today I heard that a poll of all of around 1500 citizens in Maryland prefer Hillary to win. That is out of over 900,000 registered democrats that is. THAT MUST BE GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL POLLING METHODS.
As US media gear up with all the old 'it takes a village' propaganda that endears Hillary to the middle-class, let's look at the real picture of the Clintons as the face of Wall Street and global corporate rule. Remember, global corporate rule is totalitarianism and saying Clinton is progressive or a democrat is like saying Mussolini was as well. Fascism-----totalitarianism is the same....one involves a single individual and the other takes a group like corporations. The end game is the same.
HILLARY, BIDEN, CUOMO, AND O'MALLEY ARE ALL NEO-LIBERALS WORKING HARD FOR TPP AND GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNALS AND WE DO NOT WANT THEM IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. LET'S RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES AND SHAKE THE NEO-LIBERAL BUGS OUT OF THE RUG.
TELL BERNIE SANDERS TO RUN IN 2016!!!!
When you see pictures of the last four Presidents you see the progression of neo-liberalism with the goal of eliminating all of New Deal and War on Poverty and return to the Robber Baron years of US Constitution on hold. It was the Robber Barons who gave us the Great Depression and now, it is the neo-liberals giving us the current recession soon to be Great Depression.
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO VOTE FOR THAT? DON'T ALLOW ONLY NEO-LIBERALS IN THE RACE.....AS IS HAPPENING IN THE CURRENT MARYLAND GOVERNOR'S RACE.
Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009 06:23 AM EDT
Can Obama be deprogrammed?
The president is a prisoner of the cult of neoliberalism
Michael Lind Salon
Can Obama be deprogrammed?
In my first foray into political life in the 1970s, I worked during college on the staff of a liberal Democrat in the Texas state Senate. Only a few years earlier, Patty Hearst had been kidnapped and brainwashed by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and a moral panic about cults seducing college kids was sweeping the nation. One result was the rise of a new, thankfully ephemeral profession: “deprogrammers” who for pay would kidnap a young person from a cult and break the spell, by means of isolation, interrogation and maybe reruns of “The Waltons.”
A reactionary Republican state senator from the Houston area, who was heartily despised by my senator, introduced a bill granting parents the right to hire deprogrammers to kidnap adult children who belonged to what the parents regarded as cults and then confine them in motels for several weeks, subject to psychological coercion, without notifying the authorities. Needless to say, this deprogramming law was the greatest threat to the tradition of habeas corpus until another reactionary Texan was installed in the White House in 2001. The bill was laughed to death, when, during a hearing, the sponsor was asked if it could be used to deprogram young people who had joined a certain well-known cult. “Why, yes, Senator,” the Republican replied, “it would apply to cults like the Unitarians.”
Boy, do we need deprogrammers now, to liberate Barack Obama from the cult of neoliberalism.
By neoliberalism I mean the ideology that replaced New Deal liberalism as the dominant force in the Democratic Party between the Carter and Clinton presidencies. In the Clinton years, this was called the “Third Way.” The term was misleading, because New Deal liberalism between 1932 and 1968 and its equivalents in social democratic Europe were considered the original “third way” between democratic socialism and libertarian capitalism, whose failure had caused the Depression. According to New Deal liberals, the United States was not a “capitalist society” or a “market democracy” but rather a democratic republic with a “mixed economy,” in which the state provided both social insurance and infrastructure like electric grids, hydropower and highways, while the private sector engaged in mass production.
When it came to the private sector, the New Dealers, with some exceptions, approved of Big Business, Big Unions and Big Government, which formed the system of checks and balances that John Kenneth Galbraith called “countervailing power.” But most New Dealers dreaded and distrusted bankers. They thought that finance should be strictly regulated and subordinated to the real economy of factories and home ownership. They were economic internationalists because they wanted to open foreign markets to U.S. factory products, not because they hoped that the Asian masses some day would pay high overdraft fees to U.S. multinational banks.
New Dealers approved of social insurance systems like Social Security and Medicare, which were rights (entitlements) not charity and which mostly redistributed income within the middle class, from workers to nonworkers (the retired and the temporarily unemployed). But contrary to conservative propaganda, New Deal liberals disliked means-tested antipoverty programs and despised what Franklin Roosevelt called “the dole.” Roosevelt and his most important protégé, Lyndon Johnson, preferred workfare to welfare. They preferred a high-wage, low-welfare society to a low-wage, high-welfare society. To maintain the high-wage system that would minimize welfare payments to able-bodied adults, New Deal liberals did not hesitate to regulate the labor market, by means of pro-union legislation, a high minimum wage, and low levels of immigration (which were raised only at the end of the New Deal period, beginning in 1965). It was only in the 1960s that Democrats became identified with redistributionist welfarism — and then only because of the influence of the New Left, which denounced the New Deal as “corporate liberalism.”
Between the 1940s and the 1970s, the New Deal system — large-scale public investment and R&D, regulated monopolies and oligopolies, the subordination of banking to productive industry, high wages and universal social insurance — created the world’s first mass middle class. The system was far from perfect. Southern segregationist Democrats crippled many of its progressive features and the industrial unions were afflicted by complacency and corruption. But for all its flaws, the New Deal era is still remembered as the Golden Age of the American economy.
And then America went downhill.
The “stagflation” of the 1970s had multiple sources, including the oil price shock following the Arab oil embargo in 1973 and the revival of German and Japanese industrial competition (China was still recovering from the damage done by Mao). During the previous generation, libertarian conservatives like Milton Friedman had been marginalized. But in the 1970s they gained a wider audience, blaming the New Deal model and claiming that the answer to every question (before the question was even asked) was “the market.”
The free-market fundamentalists found an audience among Democrats as well as Republicans. A growing number of Democratic economists and economic policymakers were attracted to the revival of free-market economics, among them Obama’s chief economic advisor Larry Summers, a professed admirer of Milton Friedman. These center-right Democrats agreed with the libertarians that the New Deal approach to the economy had been too interventionist. At the same time, they thought that government had a role in providing a safety net. The result was what came to be called “neoliberalism” in the 1980s and 1990s — a synthesis of conservative free-market economics with “progressive” welfare-state redistribution for the losers. Its institutional base was the Democratic Leadership Council, headed by Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and the affiliated Progressive Policy Institute.
Beginning in the Carter years, the Democrats later called neoliberals supported the deregulation of infrastructure industries that the New Deal had regulated, like airlines, trucking and electricity, a sector in which deregulation resulted in California blackouts and the Enron scandal. Neoliberals teamed up with conservatives to persuade Bill Clinton to go along with the Republican Congress’s dismantling of New Deal-era financial regulations, a move that contributed to the cancerous growth of Wall Street and the resulting global economic collapse. As Asian mercantilist nations like Japan and then China rigged their domestic markets while enjoying free access to the U.S. market, neoliberal Democrats either turned a blind eye to the foreign mercantilist assault on American manufacturing or claimed that it marked the beneficial transition from an industrial economy to a “knowledge economy.” While Congress allowed inflation to slash the minimum wage and while corporations smashed unions, neoliberals chattered about sending everybody to college so they could work in the high-wage “knowledge jobs” of the future. Finally, many (not all) neoliberals agreed with conservatives that entitlements like Social Security were too expensive, and that it was more efficient to cut benefits for the middle class in order to expand benefits for the very poor.
The transition from New Deal liberalism to neoliberalism began with Carter, but it was not complete until the Clinton years. Clinton, like Carter, ran as a populist and was elected on the basis of his New Deal-ish “Putting People First” program, which emphasized public investment and a tough policy toward Japanese industrial mercantilism. But early in the first term, the Clinton administration was captured by neoliberals, of whom the most important was Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Under Rubin’s influence, Clinton sacrificed public investment to the misguided goal of balancing the budget, a dubious accomplishment made possible only by the short-lived tech bubble. And Rubin helped to wreck American manufacturing, by pursuing a strong dollar policy that helped Wall Street but hurt American exporters and encouraged American companies to transfer production for the U.S. domestic market to China and other Asian countries that deliberately undervalued their currencies to help their exports.
By the time Barack Obama was inaugurated, the neoliberal capture of the presidential branch of the Democratic Party was complete. Instead of presiding over an administration with diverse economic views, Obama froze out progressives, except for Jared Bernstein in the vice-president’s office, and surrounded himself with neoliberal protégés of Robert Rubin like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. The fact that Robert Rubin’s son James helped select Obama’s economic team may not be irrelevant.
Instead of the updated Rooseveltonomics that America needs, Obama’s team offers warmed-over Rubinomics from the 1990s. Consider the priorities of the Obama administration: the environment, healthcare and education. Why these priorities, as opposed to others, like employment, high wages and manufacturing? The answer is that these three goals co-opt the activist left while fitting neatly into a neoliberal narrative that could as easily have been told in 1999 as in 2009. The story is this: New Dealers and Keynesians are wrong to think that industrial capitalism is permanently and inherently prone to self-destruction, if left to itself. Except in hundred-year disasters, the market economy is basically sound and self-correcting. Government can, however, help the market indirectly, by providing these three public goods, which, thanks to “market failures,” the private sector will not provide.
Healthcare? New Deal liberals favored a single-payer system like Social Security and Medicare. Obama, however, says that single payer is out of the question because the U.S. is not Canada. (Evidently the New Deal America of FDR and LBJ was too “Canadian.”) The goal is not to provide universal healthcare, rather it is to provide universal health insurance, by means that, even if they include a shriveled “public option,” don’t upset the bloated American private health insurance industry.
Education? In the 1990s, the conventional wisdom of the neoliberal Democrats held that the “jobs of the future” were “knowledge jobs.” America’s workers would sit in offices with diplomas on the wall and design new products that would be made in third-world sweatshops. We could cede the brawn work and keep the brain work. Since then, we’ve learned that brain work follows brawn work overseas. R&D, finance and insurance jobs tend to follow the factories to Asia.
Education is also used by neoliberals to explain stagnant wages in the U.S. By claiming that American workers are insufficiently educated for the “knowledge economy,” neoliberal Democrats divert attention from the real reasons for stagnant and declining wages — the offshoring of manufacturing, the decline of labor unions, and, at the bottom of the labor market, a declining minimum wage and mass unskilled immigration. One study after another since the 1990s has refuted the theory that wage inequality results from skill-biased technical change. But the neoliberal cultists around Obama who write his economic speeches either don’t know or don’t care. Like Bill Clinton before him, Barack Obama continues to tell Americans that to get higher wages they need to go to college and improve their skills, as though there weren’t a surplus of underemployed college grads already.
Environment? Here the differences between the New Deal Democrats and the Obama Democrats could not be wider. Their pro-industrial program did not prevent New Deal Democrats from being passionate about resource conservation and wilderness preservation. They did not hesitate to use regulations to shut down pollution. And their approach to energy was based on direct government R&D (the Manhattan Project) and direct public deployment (the TVA).
Contrast the straightforward New Deal approaches with the energy and environment policies of Obama and the Democratic leadership, which are at once too conservative and too radical. They are too conservative, because cap and trade relies on a system of market incentives that are not only indirect and feeble but likely to create a subprime market in carbon, enriching a few green profiteers. At the same time, they are too radical, because any serious attempt to shift the U.S. economy in a green direction by hiking the costs of non-renewable energy would accelerate the transfer of U.S. industry to Asia — and with it not only industry-related “knowledge jobs” but also the manufacture of those overhyped icons of the “green economy,” solar panels and windmills.
While we can’t go back to the New Deal of the mid-20th century in its details, we need to re-create its spirit. But short of confining them in motel rooms and making them watch newsreels about the Hoover Dam, Glass-Steagall, the TVA and the Manhattan Project, is it possible to liberate President Obama and the Democratic leadership from the cult of neoliberalism?
Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation.
Whenever you hear of Clinton's Foundation working overseas one has to pity the citizens of that nation as he works to do to them what neo-liberals did to the US. As we all know, TPP is simply a re-write of the US Constitution ending sovereignty and handing global corporate tribunals power over what will make former first world nations into colonial outposts. Since US corporations can no longer use overseas nations as sweat shops to avoid all US law....Clinton and neo-liberals are making the US the next Chinese sweat shop and as the article below shows....HAITI is the mess it is today because of the Clinton Initiative.
Doctors Without Borders report that the Clinton Foundation charged with spending the billions of dollars of disaster relief to Haiti have not been spent and conditions are as desperate for Haitians as ever. The downside.....they are now slaves again as part of this neo-liberalism.
WHY DO YOU NOT KNOW THIS ABOUT BILL AND HILLARY? WELL, US MEDIA WAS RANKED WITH FORMER USSR SATELLITES FOR LACK OF FREE PRESS!
Bill Clinton Admits his Neoliberal Free Trade Policies Are Wrong: 'It Was a Mistake'
22nd March 2010 - SWOPblogger
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a remarkable admission a couple of weeks ago. His neoliberal “free trade” policies of the 1990’s have led to the destruction of Haiti’s agricultural sector and the inability of the country to feed itself.
"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," said Clinton to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.”
In a remarkable article, Associated Press reporter Jonathan Katz describes what has happened in Haiti, which is similar to poor countries all over the world.
When Haiti lowered its tariffs on rice in the 90s on the direction of the international neoliberal trade regime—led by the U.S. with Clinton as its champion, and foisted onto poor countries by the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund—subsidized American farm products flooded its market with cheap food. Haitian farmers were unable to compete.
From the AP article:
'Cheap foreign products drove farmers off their land and into overcrowded cities. Rice, a grain with limited nutrition once reserved for special occasions in the Haitian diet, is now a staple.
'Imports also put the country at the mercy of international prices: When they spiked in 2008, rioters unable to afford rice smashed and burned buildings. Parliament ousted the prime minister.
'Now it could be happening again. Imported rice prices are up 25 percent since the quake - and would likely be even higher if it weren't for the flood of food aid, said WFP market analyst Ceren Gurkan.
'Three decades ago things were different. Haiti imported only 19 percent of its food and produced enough rice to export, thanks in part to protective tariffs of 50 percent set by the father-son dictators, Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier.
'When their reign ended in 1986, free-market advocates in Washington and Europe pushed Haiti to tear those market barriers down. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, freshly reinstalled to power by Clinton in 1994, cut the rice tariff to 3 percent.'
Impoverished farmers unable to compete with the billions of dollars in subsidies paid by the U.S. to its growers abandoned their farms.
What Katz describes in this article, and Clinton cops to, is a neoliberal trade regime that led to the destruction of third-world agricultural sectors and a huge migration from rural areas to urban cities.
Here in the states, we can credit the large wave of immigration we experienced over the past decade to those trade policies, as people from south of the border struggled to feed their families and ultimately headed north. Many of those immigrants work on those same American farms that profit through exporting to developing countries.
U.S. workers have also suffered from "free trade," with the dismantling of our manufacturing base as companies head overseas in search of cheaper labor. What sectors have been created to replace those manufacturing jobs that pay living wages? During this incredibly painful recession we are currently living through, this is quite the burning question.
SWOP has protested neoliberal policies every step of the way, from the early days when NAFTA was being negotiated to the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, to our solidarity with immigrants in the U.S. who desperately need comprehensive reform of this country's immigration policies. In the coming year, as the Obama administration takes up immigration reform, it's important to remember our history and the responsibility that the U.S. itself has for the large waves of both internal and external immigration throughout the world.
It's funny when neo-liberal economists talk about how bad neo-liberalism is and as this article does.....shout out that global markets are dead....they never identify Clinton and Obama as the head cheerleaders. Robert Rubin was of course Clinton's point man for handing the democratic party over to corporations and neo-liberalism yet, he is not mentioned. Neither is Obama as the President doing the last hail Mary of neo-liberalism with TPP.
THE PROBLEM FOR NEO-LIBERALS IS THAT NAKED CAPITALISM IS DEAD. ALL THAT IS LEFT IS ONE BIG MASS OF FRAUD AND CORRUPTION AND THE NEED TO REBUILD OUR DEMOCRACY AND RULE OF LAW.
The End of Neo-Liberalism? Has Someone Told Bob Rubin?
Steve Clemons - July 30, 2008
Doha is dead. The “bicycle of global trade” as C. Fred Bergsten often called it has stopped. We have yet to see whether the bike falls over — but Joseph Stiglitz is already writing the epitaph.
I think that former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin will be the most interesting personality to watch in coming months and years as he clearly became the head of the neoliberal movement.
I think that neoliberalism is not really dead; just tuckered out. I think that global trends and habits will morph in some new directions — which I hope will be a smarter globalization than that which we have seen.
But that’s not a given — and no one should underestimate the tenaciousness of ideological economists. More on that soon.
But from Stiglitz:
The world has not been kind to neo-liberalism, that grab-bag of ideas based on the fundamentalist notion that markets are self-correcting, allocate resources efficiently, and serve the public interest well. It was this market fundamentalism that underlay Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and the so-called “Washington Consensus” in favor of privatization, liberalization, and independent central banks focusing single-mindedly on inflation.
For a quarter-century, there has been a contest among developing countries, and the losers are clear: countries that pursued neo-liberal policies not only lost the growth sweepstakes; when they did grow, the benefits accrued disproportionately to those at the top.
Though neo-liberals do not want to admit it, their ideology also failed another test. No one can claim that financial markets did a stellar job in allocating resources in the late 1990′s, with 97 percent of investments in fiber optics taking years to see any light. But at least that mistake had an unintended benefit: as costs of communication were driven down, India and China became more integrated into the global economy.
But it is hard to see such benefits to the massive misallocation of resources to housing. The newly constructed homes built for families that could not afford them get trashed and gutted as millions of families are forced out of their homes, in some communities, government has finally stepped in – to remove the remains. In others, the blight spreads. So even those who have been model citizens, borrowing prudently and maintaining their homes, now find that markets have driven down the value of their homes beyond their worst nightmares. To be sure, there were some short-term benefits from the excess investment in real estate: some Americans (perhaps only for a few months) enjoyed the pleasures of home ownership and living in a bigger home than they otherwise would have. But at what a cost to themselves and the world economy! Millions will lose their life savings as they lose their homes. And the housing foreclosures have precipitated a global slowdown.
There is an increasing consensus on the prognosis: this downturn will be prolonged and widespread.
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I THANK DUANE FOR SHOUTING OUT......I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN, BUT WE NEED EVERYONE SHOUTING.
Duane G. Davis shared Right Wing News's photo.
I laid the Blueprint in Maryland and the names are on public record.... Towson courthouse also in the FBI office Chicago and Baltimore recorded the calls and visits.... and Everything I been doing since 9-2-2006 is Fully Documented Rob Fiks, Payam, Bill Hughes, Fern Shen, Haunted Artists, Tom Manzitti Da Raw Journalist and Brian Vaeth have film of me exposing the PLANTATION and the overseers.. Baltimore is invited to attend a PUBLIC TRIAL and HEAR ME READ THE NAMES INTO TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS also emails and video as well as LETTERS TO MY PRESIDENT.... I am alot SMARTER than the MEDIA portrayed me.2-24-2014 401 Bosley Ave. DAVIS VS DAVIS and James Hammond. Today is MONDAY MORNING... go directly to Frank Conaway Sr..clerk of the COURT.. Judge Pierson, Judge Holland, Judge Turnbull, Jack Young, Mayor SRB, can't hide from a COURT OF LAW.
Two-thirds are undecided because we have no candidates for Maryland Attorney General that have a history of shouting out for public justice for goodness sake. MD was ranked at the bottom nationally for fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency by government watchdogs....there is no Rule of Law. The MD Assembly has voted for laws that protect business and profit at the expense of citizen's rights. THAT IS WHO IS RUNNING.
Whether state or city attorneys.....all of those running are part of the crony system that lets fraud and corruption run wild. So, I am shouting to all those unemployed law graduates out there-----RUN FOR MD/CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE AND HIRE ALL YOUR NEW UNEMPLOYED LAW GRADS TO REBUILD PUBLIC JUSTICE IN MD!
Two-thirds undecided in attorney general's race Cardin leads three rivals, but contest appears wide open
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun 11:01 p.m. EST, February 15, 2014
Two-thirds of Maryland Democrats are undecided in a wide-open race to succeed Douglas F. Gansler as state attorney general, a new poll for The Baltimore Sun shows.
Among Democrats who expressed a preference, Del. Jon Cardin of Baltimore County was ahead with 18 percent support. The other three candidates — state Sen. Brian E. Frosh and Del. C. William Frick, both of Montgomery County, and Del. Aisha Braveboy of Prince George's County — polled in single digits.
All four names are unfamiliar to many voters — even those who follow politics closely.
Robert Heaton, a 74-year-old retiree from Cockeysville, said he is one of the undecided 69 percent.
"I don't even know who is currently competing for attorney general," he said. The only candidate whose name was familiar to him was Cardin. Heaton said he would probably favor him because Cardin's from Baltimore County, but he wants to hear more about the other candidates.
It is unclear how much Cardin's lead stems from his own strengths and how much it reflects a well-known last name. U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a popular Democrat, is Delegate Cardin's uncle.
Matthew Merenbloom, a 30-year-old master's degree student from Catonsville, said his choice was based on his positive view of Ben Cardin. "The name sounded more familiar to me than the other choices," he said. Merenbloom said he could be won over by another candidate.
But Elizabeth Adams, 85, said family ties have nothing to do with her choice, and she's leaning toward backing Cardin. The Bel Air resident said she's been an active Democratic volunteer for decades — she said she knows pretty much any Harford County candidate on the ballot — but it's too soon to be making any hard-and-fast choices.
"It's too early to judge," she said.
Frosh, a veteran Montgomery County lawmaker, holds a commanding lead in fundraising and has gathered endorsements from many influential Democratic-leaning groups. As a Senate committee chairman, he has been at the forefront of the fight for such causes as same-sex marriage and gun control.
Wilbur Friedman, an active Democrat from Rockville, said he still has Ben Cardin's campaign signs in his garage, but his choice for attorney general is Frosh.
"He is a straight arrow," said Friedman, 82. "He has risen in the Senate, as he should. He's a bright guy. I don't see any reason to look further."
Frosh will need to convince more such voters; the state senator was the choice of just 6 percent in the Sun poll.
The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, was conducted by OpinionWorks of Annapolis. Steve Raabe, the company's president, said Cardin's relative strength among voters who say they are certain to cast ballots — among whom he polled 20 percent — suggests that his support is based on more than just name recognition.
"He may be a legitimate front-runner," Raabe said. "He's still got a long way to go."
Braveboy, of Prince George's County, won the support of 4 percent of Democratic voters, and Frick got 3 percent. Neither was able to match Frosh's or Cardin's ability to raise money before last month's start of the General Assembly session brought a 90-day halt to fundraising by the four lawmakers.
As of early January, Frosh had $795,900 in the bank, compared with $374,000 for Cardin. Frick reported that he had $134,000, while Braveboy reported $20,000 in cash on hand.
Gansler, a Democrat who has held the office for two terms, is running for governor.
The Democratic primary is June 24. No Republicans have filed to run for attorney general, an office the GOP has not won in an election since 1918.
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Regarding Ruppersberger and Fort Meade policy:
Here we go down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland as MR NSA HIMSELF.....MR. PRIVATIZE ALL MILITARY AND END PUBLIC MILITARY FACILITIES TO THE DETRIMENT OF ALL MILITARY PERSONNEL......cries foul over legislation designed to protect American civil liberties and end DEATH TO AMERICA chanting as the NSA and Wall Street enrage the world with its illegal activities that undermine sovereignty including the US. Nothing makes the US more prone to attack from enemies than the actions of Wall Street and their NSA!
Here we are with republicans being the protector of US Constitutional rights and public justice. Meanwhile, it is MD neo-liberals making the Ft Meade NSA central. Remember, it was George Bush and neo-liberals who started this and are the face of the hedge funds running it. So, this is a neo-con/neo-liberal problem.
DO NOT ALLOW REPUBLICANS SHOUT THAT DEMOCRATS ARE THE PROBLEM.....NEO-LIBERALS ARE NOT DEMOCRATS!
BREAKING: Maryland Legislators Move To Kill NSA Headquarters
ANNAPOLIS, Md., February 10, 2014-- It's lights our for the National Security Agency (NSA). State lawmakers in Maryland have filed...
As Dutch Ruppersberger knows the US lost trillions of dollars over just a few decades to defense industry fraud, billions each year. Much of it is used to bribe, used to promote fraudulent development abroad, to buy alliances that later fall apart and amount to nothing. Profiteering in the defense industry is rampant and it is public malfeasance and duplicity when politicians charged with serving the public allow all of this to happen without public justice. What Ruppersberger supports is an NSA run by Wall Street and not a system designed to oversee Wall Street and stop the fleecing of American taxpayers with defense industry fraud.
Dutch doesn't want to stop there.....he wants to privatize all that is public support of Veterans at bases like Fort Meade and reduce the Veteran's Administration to private corporate non-profits with no oversight and known not to be doing the business of aiding Vets.
NOTICE ALL THE CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS CREATED TO BEG FOR MONEY FOR VETERANS? THAT IS WHAT RUPPERSBERGER HAS WORKED TO DO FOR VETERANS BY PRIVATIZING ALL PUBLIC SERVICES FOR VETS! WHAT A GUY!!!!!!!
But wait, Dutch is fighting against cuts to veterans benefits you say!!! Recovering defense industry fraud would pay off much of the national debt and remove this fake deficit and debt! DO YOU HEAR DUTCH SHOUTING FOR THIS?????? No, Dutch is busy passing laws that allow the US military to expand its mercenary military to non-citizens overseas because we have to protect US global corporate interests while these corporations are fleecing Americans and ignoring all Rule of Law. HOW DOES RUPPERSBERGER KEEP GETTING RE-ELECTED YOU SAY!
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES TO SHAKE THE NEO-LIBERAL BUGS FROM THE RUG!!!!!
Do you know that Manning downloaded and gave to Wikileaks defense industry data on just these defense industry expenditures just so international investigative journalists could do the research that shows where all this defense industry fraud is and where it is going? See why Manning was tried as aiding the enemy------WHO ARE OBVIOUSLY YOU AND I!
Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime
Lawrence M. Salinger, Ph.D.
Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412914260 | Print ISBN: 9780761930044 | Online ISBN: 9781412914260 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.
Defense Industry Fraud
John Walsh Ph.D.
THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY comprises the development, production and sale of weapons and weapons-support systems. In some cases, components or substances that are not themselves weapons may be classified as being part of the defense industry if it is believed that they may be used in the creation of weapons. The defense industry is characterized by oligopolistic conditions, in which a small number of large firms compete for a small number of orders from governments. Success in the industry relies upon, to a considerable extent, economies of scale from research and development departments, large-scale production facilities and good network contacts with relevant government officials, both domestically and internationally. Many overseas sales are characterized by corruption and bribery and Transparency International has listed defense, along with the public works and construction industry, as being the sectors in which bribery is most rife. The very high value of products also provides an incentive ...
There's Bernie Sanders shouting loudly to use defense industry fraud to pay down the national debt. The trillions recovered from a few decades of fraud would end all cuts to public services and programs tied to the military.
As Bernie says......IT IS THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC MILITARY WORK THAT MAKES GOVERNMENT COFFERS FEEDING TROUGHS FOR CORPORATE FRAUD! You won't hear Dutch shouting this!
Lawmakers push Defense fraud, waste report to influence supercommittee cuts
By John T. Bennett - 10/23/11 06:53 PM EDT The Hill Blog
Liberal lawmakers will soon send the congressional deficit panel the details of a Pentagon report that shows defense firms over the last decade ripped off the military to the tune of $1.1 trillion, Democratic sources told The Hill.
Pro-military lawmakers from both parties have warned the supercommittee to avoid Pentagon spending cuts beyond the $350 billion ordered by the August debt deal.
But several Senate Democrats want the panel to keep in mind that dollars sent to the Pentagon are often lost to fraud and waste, even as some conservatives raise the possibility of retroactively exempting the Pentagon from the $600 billion cut that will be triggered if the supercommittee fails.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week highlighted what he called a “shocking” internal Pentagon report that concluded defense companies defrauded the military by $1.1 trillion.
“The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” Sanders said in a statement. “With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money.”
More than $250 million “went to 54 contractors convicted of hard-core criminal fraud in the same period,” Sanders said, summarizing tables included with the DoD report. “Of that total, $33 million was paid to companies after they were convicted of crimes.”
The Pentagon revealed defense behemoth Lockheed Martin paid $10.5 million in 2008 to settle fraud charges related to the Titan IV rocket program. Northrop Grumman paid $62 million three years prior to settle allegations it was involved in a fraud scheme.
And the list of contractors linked to waste goes on, the DoD tables show, ranging from the other largest defense firms to smaller companies.
Yet most continued to receive massive contracts.
And that does not sit well with Sanders and several other liberal lawmakers, Democratic sources say.
Sanders “believes numbers like these are very relevant for the supercommittee when some are talking about cutting social programs,” an aide to the Vermont liberal told The Hill on Friday.
“The supercommittee also should see the extent to which these companies committed fraud on behalf of the government,” the Sanders aide said. “We will get this to the supercommittee, at least at the staff level.”
Another Democratic aide said his boss intends to highlight the DoD fraud report as the special panel ramps up its search for $1.5 trillion in federal cuts. It must finish its work by Nov. 23 or automatic triggers will be enacted, including $600 billion in cuts to security spending.
“As debate goes forward, I’m sure you’ll see a number of Democrats on the left use that report and others like it. There’s a movement on the right to go back and exempt defense spending from the trigger if the supercommittee fails,” the Democratic aide said Friday. “That’s going to be unacceptable to [liberals who are] likely to use reports like this as proof that there is room to cut Defense spending without harming security.”
The Aerospace Industries Association, a leading defense industrial lobbying organization, declined to comment on the report.
But one prominent defense analyst and industry consultant blasted the Pentagon’s findings.
“Sen. Sanders is correct in stating the report is shocking — it's shockingly wrong. The report confuses isolated cases of wrongdoing with the dominant culture in the defense industry, which is the most heavily regulated and audited industry in the nation,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.
“Critics of Defense spending like Sen. Sanders routinely make sweeping allegations of malfeasance in military contracting while ignoring far worse behavior in major entitlement programs like Medicaid,” he said.
What’s more, the yearly waste within the military largely comes from “decisions by legislators and policymakers that disburse funds to unnecessary projects” and mandate “superfluous tests, reports and contracting procedures,” Thompson told The Hill. “That's where the real waste occurs in military contracting, but Sen. Sanders would prefer to focus on the handful of cases of malfeasance that more closely match his ideological leanings.”
But one government watchdog group called the findings “mind-boggling.”
“The amount of money given to these companies is staggering, but what is really mind-boggling is the willingness of the DoD to provide additional taxpayer dollars to the same bad actors again and again,” Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) said in a Friday statement.
“Despite the report’s findings, the DoD’s over-reliance on contractors may hinder reform,” Amey said. “Taxpayers are unlikely to see any changes until DoD holds contractors more accountable, especially those defrauding the government.”
George Bush sent trillions in profit to all of Cheney's Halliburton and hedge funds became Blackwater USA as our public troops were ghettoized with the super-sized wages these private military contractors paid private employees with the same US taxpayer money. The intent was to move the best public troops over to private contractors as the public military structures were dismantled. On came Obama and Hillary who as neo-liberals placed this process on steroids with the movement of troops and war to Afghanistan. Now, government watchdogs say that over 70% of US military is private contractors and the fraud and corruption is rampant. US private military behave so illegally that nations do not want them in their countries. Human rights abuse is systemic.
What we are seeing in the build-up of the US police state is the coming home of these private military contractors and employees to become city and state police. We in Baltimore know what this police state will look like. Police here act with impunity here just as they do overseas. SEE WHY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD ARE SHOUTING 'DEATH TO AMERICA"?
DO YOU HEAR MARYLAND POLS TALKING ABOUT THIS????? THEY ARE NEO-LIBERALS WORKING FOR WEALTH AND PROFITS!
Christian Science Monitor
A lesson from Iraq war: How to outsource war to private contractors
During the Iraq war, private defense contractors providing security and support outnumbered troops on the ground at points. Contractors can enhance US military capacity but also entail risks. US experience with private security contractors holds several key lessons.
By Molly Dunigan / March 19, 2013
A helicopter owned by Blackwater USA, a private security contractor, flies over central Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 7, 2007. Op-ed contributor Molly Dunigan says 'the United States must protect its interests and ensure that the contractors it employs are carefully vetted and well trained. It should also continue to work toward a commonly accepted means of holding contractors accountable for their behavior.'
Ten years after it began, the Iraq war might best be remembered as America’s most privatized military engagement to date, with contractors hired by the Pentagon actually outnumbering troops on the ground at various points.
This might come as a surprise to many, since the sheer number of contractors used in Iraq was often overshadowed by events. By 2008, the US Department of Defense employed 155,826 private contractors in Iraq – and 152,275 troops. This degree of privatization is unprecedented in modern warfare.
One of the most important lessons of the Iraq war is that this military privatization is likely to continue in future conflicts. This could be a good thing, as contractors can enhance US military capacity. But any large-scale use of private military contractors also entails risks. Recent US experience with private security contractors, in particular, holds several critical lessons for the future.
OPINION: After US withdrawal from Iraq, a tallying of the balance sheet
Of course, private contractors are not new to war zones. They supported all the major US conflicts of the late 20th century, including in Vietnam, the Balkans, and Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. But in these cases, they mainly provided logistical and base support.
Now, the US military has developed a growing dependence on private contractors – and for a wide range of functions traditionally handled by military personnel. The Army spent roughly $815 million ($163 million per year, or about $200 million per year in 2012 dollars) to employ contractors under its Logistics Civil Augmentation Program between 1992 and 1997. But between 2001 and 2010, that expenditure grew to nearly $5 billion per year. Of course, this latter cost coincides with US involvement in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.
A more pertinent question – and what truly sets the Iraq war apart – concerns the role of these private civilian contractors. Throughout the war, the majority (61 percent) of contracted jobs continued to be base-support functions. The next-largest group (18 percent) of Department of Defense contractors were security contractors. They provided security services, such as guarding installations, protecting convoys, or acting as bodyguards.
Moreover, this outsourcing trend continued in Afghanistan, where there were 94,413 contractors in 2010, compared with 91,600 US troops.
Military outsourcing in this vein developed as a result of an increased supply of private military services combined with increased demand. The boom in supply was borne out of larger privatization trends in both the US and Britain in the 1980s and 1990s, which spread over into the military arena. The increased demand was due to the strains that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan placed on the US military.
As I wrote before....Maryland was sighted as having the worse VA services with a failing grade for the Baltimore VA center because all of it has been privatized to private non-profits taking the taxpayer money under the guise of running programs that VETs will tell you are not happening. Indeed, talk was to get rid of the VA building itself. THAT'S DUTCH FOR YOU.....WORKING FOR DEFENSE INDUSTRY AND CORPORATE PROFITS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE CITIZENS WHO VOTE FOR HIM!!!
SHAKE THE NEO-LIBERAL BUGS FROM THE RUG BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES!
Friday, January 28th, 2011 | Posted by Dale R. Suiter
VA / Privatization = Loss for Vets
Don't give up on these guys!
New folks in the House of Representatives say they are looking to “cut spending” and reduce the size of government. There is a movement to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
There is mention to of privatizing some government health care services. What’s all this mean for Vets?
If you love what Halliburton did for the trrops, yuo’ll love what privatization will do for veterans.
October 15, 2010 (rushlimbaugh.com) then candidate Sharron Angle was critical of Senator Reid. Senator Reid reportedly said: “She (Ms. Angle) wants to privatize the Veterans Administration.” Mr. Linbaugh continues: “What’s wrong with privatizing the VA…? Somebody tell me where its working. Somebody tell me where anything the federal government is running is working… Privatize the Veterans Administration.!”
Including the military:
1. 10th mountain Division – great outfit
2. 1 Bn 119th FA MIARNG – excellent – well trained cannoneers
3. United States Marine Corp (especially 3/9 and 1/3)*
4. United States Air Force
5. United States Army
6. United States Coast Guard
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
8. Departments of Motor Vehicles in 50 states and all the territories
9. Local, state and federal judicial systems – that due process item we kinda like and wanna keep
10. Open meeting acts around the country
Privatization come with a heavy price tag. Many traditional military mainenance and support roles have been privatized. Many line grunts report few hot meals “… at the front …” (O.K. no hot food up front is as old as warfare). Military units are challgenged to repair and maintain vehicles, equipment, aircraft and weapons systems. (In one case – an Army 88M’s Dad – sent his son a needed tool kit so he and his truck partner could repair the trucks they were assigned to. Also as old as the history of warfare. Key point is the troops could not get the support they needed in theater.)
GAO Issues Report on Hlliburton Troops Support Contract In Iraq (Minority Staff Committe On Government Reform U.S. House of Representatives Juy 21, 2004)
This GAO report documented serious shortfalls with the government contract with Halliburton. Problems included:
* Planning for troops delayed until “Afther the Fall of Baghadad.”
* Planning for Support Services “Ineffective”
* Halliburton’s uncontrolled costs (Halliburton costs grew from $5.8 billion to $8.6 billion between September 2003 and January 2004.)
The report “higlights a pattern of contractor management problems. Including:
* Inadequate cost control
* Difficulties meeting schedules – Halliburton did not provide some services required, including “water production”
* Inadequate control over purchases
* Inadequate control over subcontractors
The report notes too inadequate control and oversight of Halliburton as follows: “… essentially military officials do not understand their role … regarding their roles and responsibilities.”
Dana Hedgpath, Washington Post (3011098) wrote: “KBR Faulted on Water Provided to Soldiers”. The article includes: “U.S. Soldiers at a military base in Iraq … provided with … untested water for … two years by KBR … and may have suffered health problems … KBR inappropriately distributed chlorinated wastewater to 5,000 U.S. troops at Camp Q-West … north of Baghdad… KBR disagreed with the report.”
Many Vets depend on the VA. Privatizing it will turn Vets worlds upside down. One thing our government can not do well is track massive contracts with private industry and contractors. There many examples of troops running into wall after wall after wall trying to get day to day military tasks completed – and being frustrated with civilians who do not respond to the military. The so called reduction of the military dating from the 1990′s is a myth. The funds and tasks have been redirected into private industry – at a loss to the military and increased danger to our troops. Privatization of the VA would be another disaster.
Dale R. Suiter
* Corp as in Marine Corp – the Corp is pronounced – core – folks. Often mispronounced by those who have not had the honor of Marine Corp service.
Note: Author does not support or approve of the Affordable Care Act. It is (my opinion) of something the government can not do well. Read the act and determine for yourself the many implications for the VA.
This is what neo-liberals have reduced all public services to....charity. Rather than have Medicare and Medicaid or VET health programs.....we will see if corporations and other will donate to charities for even more tax write-offs rather than simply pay taxes!
DUTCH------I DO NOT HEAR YOU SHOUTING AGAINST ALL OF THIS....BUT YOU LOVE YOUR NSA COMPLEX DON'T YOU?????
Veterans Charities Ratings
The American Institute of Philanthropy recently released a report rating various veterans charities on how well they support the causes they were created to support.
We were surprised at some of the ratings in this report; not at others. Before you donate your hard-earned dollars to any charitable organization, check it out to see how much of its revenues actually go to support its charitable purpose, and how much goes to administrative expenses, salaries, and fundraising. You may be surprised!
Letter grades were based largely on the charities' fundraising costs and the percentage of money raised that was spent on its charitable activities.
The charities that received failing grades are in red type.
The charities that received grades of A or better are in bold blue type.
Here are the December 2007 veterans charities ratings, by the AIP:
Veterans Charities Ratings
Air Force Aid Society (A+)
American Ex-Prisoners of War Service Foundation (F)
American Veterans Coalition (F)
American Veterans Relief Foundation (F)
AMVETS National Service Foundation (F)
Armed Services YMCA of the USA (A-)
Army Emergency Relief (A+)
Blinded Veterans Association (D)
Coalition to Support America's Heroes (F)
Disabled American Veterans (D)
Disabled Veterans Association (F)
Notice the similarity of the name to Disabled American Veterans
Fisher House Foundation (A+)
Freedom Alliance (F)
Help Hospitalized Veterans/Coalition to Salute America's Heroes (F)
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (A+)
Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (F)
National Military Family Association (A)
National Veterans Services Fund (F)
National Vietnam Veterans Committee (D)
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (A+)
NCOA National Defense Foundation (F)
Paralyzed Veterans of America (F)
Soldiers' Angels (D)
United Spinal Association's Wounded Warrior Project (D)*
* See update on Wounded Warrior Project
USO (United Service Organization) (C+)
Veterans of Foreign Wars and Foundation (C-)
Veterans of the Vietnam War & the Veterans Coalition (D)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (D)
VietNow National Headquarters (F)
World War II Veterans Committee (D)
Read the complete AIP veterans charity watchdog report and veterans charities ratings.
Do you have questions about specific veterans charities?
First, check the list of veterans charities reviewed by Military-Money-Matters.com. If the charity you're interested in is not listed there, then check the references listed below the stars & stripes bar to look up information.
If you can't find the answer to your question in any of those sources, ask your questions about specific veterans charities. For ease of answering your questions, please make a separate submission for each different charity you wish to inquire about, and make the title of your submission the name of the charity. Thanks.
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Regarding the 2016 Presidential race and corporate NPR coverage:
I was walking to work today in Baltimore and saw my first BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT bumper sticker! Indeed, Bernie would be the only progressive candidate in the democratic race. We all need to shout out to Bernie that WE THE PEOPLE want a pol from Vermont to be the next President.
Have you even heard Bernie has said he will run if nothing but neo-liberals are running? It's all over social media but not a word in corporate media.....isn't that strange? All I hear is Hillary vs Christie or Hillary vs Jeb Bush or Hillary vs Ryan. Hillary is a neo-liberal you know!
So, if Hillary runs against all these republicans in the republican primary.....would she win the republican candidacy? Neo-cons and neo-liberals....what's the difference? Republicans probably would like her global corporate tribunal/extreme wealth inequity message more than democrats so this is her best shot.....HILLARY RUNNING AS A REPUBLICAN.
Let's look at Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Now, I will be the first skeptic of chances a life-long pol in US politics is really a socialist as they say. I understand as well that in Europe, it was the socialist leaders who sold their citizens out to Wall Street as much as any other. They were not socialists! So, the likelihood that we elect Bernie and get a neo-liberal like deBlasio is just as high.
One thing to look at when trying to decide whether a candidate is lying....as we do in US politics right now.....is look from where these candidates come and what that state is doing. If progressive would have thought through the candidates Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Obama of Chicago rather than allowing the Democratic National Party place them on the ballot....we would have been able to predict the outcome of their leadership. Arkansas is one of the most conservative states in the country with great history of racism so it is not surprising that the Clintons would be about ending all War on Poverty and New Deal programs and push wealth inequity and third world poverty. Yet, that Clarinet-playing Bill with all the glamorous Hollywood stars backing him was made to look progressive and we fell for it! Obama, coming from Harvard....home-team for Wall Street, from the most corrupt political system in the country....Chicago, and being a member of a Law School known for its neo-con/neo-liberal views would have been an easy catch for leading to the right of Bush if we had known/thought that the Democratic National Committee was no longer working for labor and justice.
Vermont is a social democratic state. It has adopted a public health care for all, it has very few charters and all the other education privatizing policies, it has a progressive tax structure, little wealth inequity.....
Web Only / Features » October 23, 2013
Social Democracy in the South
Bernie Sanders talks about economic justice—and the possibility of a presidential run—on a three-day road trip.
BY Cole Stangler In These Times
By all accounts, the audiences were friendly—progressive, multiracial, and already supportive of Sanders’ agenda.
It’s early on Friday morning and the union hall is packed with people waiting to see Bernie Sanders. Mostly gray-haired retirees fill the first few rows while unionists, college students and activists, including some veterans of the Occupy movement, are scattered toward the back of the modestly-sized room. They’re here for a town hall meeting that’s been billed “The Fight for Economic Justice.”
When the Vermont Senator arrives a bit later than advertised, the crowd at Communications Workers of America Local 3204’s headquarters in Atlanta greets the 72-year old independent with a raucous standing ovation. Sanders may be a thousand miles away from his New England constituency, but here he’s the “People’s Senator,” as a couple of folks declare during the question and answer portion of the meeting.
Columbia, S.C., Birmingham and Atlanta may seem like odd locations for a self-identified socialist senator from Vermont who speaks in a native Brooklyn accent to hold town hall meetings. But Sanders is convinced that an unapologetically social-democratic political message—grounded in calls for economic justice and a redistributive state—can resonate anywhere in the country, even in those Southern states responsible for electing many of the Tea Party representatives in Congress.
So on Thursday morning, a day after voting to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, Sanders headed down to Mississippi to kick off a Southern road trip that he’d been planning since early this summer. The Senator spoke at three town hall meetings organized by trade unions and progressive groups, with the recently formed political action committee South Forward helping publicize the events. He was also scheduled to speak at a town hall in Jackson on Wednesday night, but that evening’s crisis-averting vote in the Senate forced Sanders to stay in Washington and appear via Google Chat.
During the three-day jaunt, which also included stops at a high school, a couple of community health centers and two small fundraisers for progressive groups, Sanders covered his own expenses and didn’t raise any money for himself—rare for a sitting United States Senator hitting the road outside of his home state. Instead, the main purpose of the trip was to forge connections with audiences and like-minded political candidates in a part of the country that’s often written off by mainstream liberals.
What’s the Matter with Alabama?
“I really strongly disagree with this concept that there’s a blue state and red state America,” Sanders tells me in the parking lot outside a community health clinic in Atlanta. “I believe that in every state in the country the vast majority of the people are working people. These are people who are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, these are people who want Social Security defended, they want to raise the minimum wage, they want changes in our trade policy. And to basically concede significant parts of America, including the South, to the right-wing is to me not only stupid politics, but even worse than that—you just do not turn your backs on millions and millions of working people.”
Of course, the kind of deep progressive political reconfiguration that Sanders is talking about won’t happen overnight. Of the four states that Sanders visited, all have Republican governors and GOP majorities in both legislative chambers and none has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. But the trip underlined the Senator’s willingness to do his small part in helping to build a progressive alternative in the South.
Sanders tells me the trip’s purpose is, in part, to identify potential candidates who could benefit from a small influx of cash next election cycle—“whether it’s independents, whether it’s third-party people or progressive Democrats…folks who have the courage to stand up to big money interests and represent working families.” The Senator’s political action committee, Progressive Voters of America, has raised about $300,000 over the last three election cycles for left-leaning Democrats in Congress. So far, the overwhelmingly majority of those candidates have been at the federal level, but Sanders is open to finding state-level candidates worthy of financial backing. After trouncing his 2012 Republican challenger 71 percent to 25 percent, it seems an opportune time for Sanders to lend his growing national clout to fellow economic populists.
By all accounts, the audiences were friendly—progressive, multiracial, and already supportive of Sanders’ agenda. They included people like Antonia Shields, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Local 530 in Birmingham, who appreciate the Senator’s efforts to prevent cuts to the Postal Service. And Claire Stanton, a library assistant at the Birmingham Public Library who “tend[s] to think that a lot of the Democratic Senators are too centrist.” And Walter Simons, a part-time construction worker and artist in Birmingham who says he’s a socialist and came out because “there’s not a lot of socialists who get elected.”
But Sanders ultimately has his eyes set on winning over a decidedly less supportive sector of the population that has increasingly turned to Republicans in recent elections: the white working-class. In each of the four states that Sanders visited—Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina—President Obama received less than 20 percent of the white vote in 2012.
“All over this country, but maybe most noticeably right here in the South, you have white working class people voting against their own best interests,” he told the crowd at the CWA hall in Atlanta. “This country is facing some enormous problems, and we can’t address those problems for working people if the South keeps sending us members of the House and Senate who are continually voting against the interests of a vast majority of the American people.”
In his speeches, Sanders charged conservatives with using social issues like gay marriage, abortion and gun rights to distract voters from the economic trends devastating the vast majority of people—growing inequality and poverty, wage suppression, threats to social insurance programs, corporate-friendly trade deals, the growing costs of higher education, and inadequate and expensive health care coverage (Sanders supports the Affordable Care Act, but remains an advocate for universal single-payer health care).
“What you don’t want to do, because you disagree on one issue, is to vote for somebody who’s working against you on 10 different issues,” Sanders told the crowd gathered in an auditorium at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to loud applause. “Where we have got to come together is to not allow race to divide us, not allow gender to divide us, not allow any of these other issues to divide us.”
While he reserved his harshest criticisms for Republicans, a party of “extremists,” Sanders didn’t apologize for the Democrats. In his reading, the Democrats have become more and more reliant on corporate money and correspondingly have prioritized social issues at the expense of a progressive economic agenda. It’s not that Sanders disagrees with most Democrats on social issues—he’s been pro-choice for the entirety of his more than 30-year political career and proudly points out that Vermont was the first state in the nation to allow civil unions for same-sex couples.
But he argued that the rightward drift of the party on matters of income and wealth distribution along with its declining defense of social welfare programs has left working class voters deeply disillusioned and with nowhere to go.
“By and large, it would be hard to say that most Americans believe the Democratic Party is the party of working Americans,” Sanders told the crowd in Birmingham. “Both political parties are heavily influenced by big money and I think that people are in trouble and they don’t see anybody speaking up for them and the answer is they don’t vote or they vote on some tangential issues.”
But if candidates for office can put an egalitarian economic agenda front and center, Sanders is convinced they have a future in the South. They just might also get his blessing and some financial assistance.
Presidential ambitions or lefty pipe dream?
One couldn’t help but notice the vaguely presidential tinge of the whole affair—the wide-reaching stump speeches delivered in unfamiliar territory coupled with the fact that Sanders was greeted with a rock star reception that few other senators are capable of generating—let alone in the immediate aftermath of a government shutdown that left an already deeply unpopular Congress with its lowest approval ratings in the history of polling.
I asked the Senator if he was contemplating a presidential run in 2016. Some left-wing Democrats urged him to challenge Obama in the primary last election, and there’s once again talk of him mounting a campaign—like last time, all of it speculative. He says he doesn’t want to.
“I suppose if you’re running for president, probably going to Mississippi and Alabama is not the place most candidates would go. You go to Iowa and New Hampshire or something like that,” Sanders says with a laugh. “But what I do think is there needs to be a progressive voice in the presidential process. I hope very much there will be a voice coming up to do that.”
But when pressed to say if he’s completely decided against running, he acknowledges he hasn’t. “I haven’t ruled it out.”
The thing with Vermont politics is that is tends towards neo-liberalism with the likes of Howard Dean, so whether Bernie would be liberal and not neo-liberal depends on if he walks the talk as he has shouted from the start to hold corporations accountable.....a liberal stand and not neo-liberal. It seems that a former republican state taken democratic would be neo-liberal so I am cautiously optimistic about Bernie Sanders!
Vermont Workers Center on "Democracy Now!"
June 23, 2010
Democracy Now's Amy Goodman covered the US Social Forum in Detroit and included a quick interview with the Vermont Workers Center, who led the 50-strong Vermont delegation. Watch the video below and read our US Social Forum blog
So, when a Joe Biden tells us he might run we look at Delaware and see the most raging corporate state in the nation with the greatest number of businesses devoted to off-shoring and hiding wealth AND voted to end Glass Steagall and for NAFTA/free trade, we can say with surety......BIDEN IS A GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERAL AS IS HILLARY.
Then we look at Cuomo and O'Malley and we see two states tied to Wall Street doing everything they can to make their states ready for TPP and global corporate tribunal rule. O'Malley is probably even more raging Wall Street than Cuomo if that is possible only because the rest of New York does have a lot of labor unions and justice people that slow Cuomo down whereas O'Malley has a very captured political system that allows him to do whatever he wants and a captured media that gives great progressive headlines when the facts are not there. O'Malley has handed all that is public to corporate interests and tied the state to Wall Street financial instruments as much as humanly possible. This is how you tell a neo-liberal from a progressive.
Monday, March 3, 2008
A lot of press about corporations in the local paper lately.
The article really speaks to how much of a legal haven Delaware is for corporations.
When it comes to selling Delaware as the pre-eminent legal home for Corporate America, Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron Steele knows how to seal the deal.
Last summer, the justice hosted an elegant dinner at his Kent County farm for two Australian lawyers here to learn about the latest developments in Delaware law. From the dining room in the antebellum-style home, the guests could watch horses grazing in the pasture. Two justices and a senior state leader were on hand to schmooze and extol Delaware as the Tiffany & Co. of the incorporations business.
"We were extremely spoiled in our time in Delaware," David Friedlander, one of the lawyers, said by e-mail.
Such are the lengths to which Delaware jurists and state officials go to nurture the state's golden goose, an incorporations stronghold that provides the state with about one third of its $3.3 billion in annual revenue. For 109 years, Delaware has cultivated its role as the best place to incorporate by carefully tweaking its constitution, laws and court.
But formal dinners with the state's judicial elite might no longer be enough to protect the pot of gold. Corporate scandals, outrage over lavish executive pay packages, and concern that the system is tilted toward protecting management have led to calls for federal intervention.
A rising chorus of powerful lawmakers has championed federal rules for how companies govern themselves, something historically covered by state law. So prominent is Delaware in corporate law that its rules largely determine the internal workings of most large U.S. companies.
A populist backlash against corporate misdeeds, or a sense that the nation's economic system is being undermined, could prompt Congress to pass a federal incorporations law that would take the entire business from Delaware. "Why are we allowing a state with an enormous financial interest to set the policy of corporate America?" said William H. Clark, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia, who wrote last year's shareholder-friendly statute for North Dakota.
Imagine Delaware if the worst were to happen, said Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. "It would bankrupt us," he said. "Overnight we would go broke."
Delawareans most likely would face higher taxes with the loss of state revenue. Law firms would flee Wilmington. Legal support businesses would be left scrambling. The housing market would suffer, as would hotels, restaurants and caterers.
TruthoutMaryland residents say their opposition to the Cove Point export plan is more than a NIMBY concern. It’s part of a larger debate about whose interests natural gas exports are really in — corporate interest or the public interest?
Media portray O'Malley as the environmental candidate as his policies have assaulted the Chesapeake Bay and our air and water more than any other governor.
Residents and Fishermen Fight Cove Point LNG Export Plans That Threaten Area's Future
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:29 By Caroline Selle, DeSmogBlog | Report
When Jean Marie Neal and her husband moved to Calvert County, Maryland, she knew natural gas was imported nearby at the Dominion Cove LNG plant.
"We did not object," Neal says, "because we knew at that point the United States needed to import gas." But now, with Dominion's proposal to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal (LNG) on land not far from her neighborhood, Neal’s feelings on natural gas infrastructure have changed dramatically. "It’s not even for us," she says.
Dominion Energy plans to obtain gas from Marcellus Shale frack fields in Pennsylvania and transport it via pipeline through the Old Line state. The proposed $3.8 billion Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, located in Lusby, Maryland, would liquefy more than 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day for shipments to India and Japan.
Now Neal, formerly a chief of staff in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, represents the Cove of Calvert homeowners’ association. She says the residents of Cove Point are speaking up because they’re having trouble finding answers.
Neal echoes the sentiments of many Marylanders, who say their opposition to the Cove Point export plan is more than a NIMBY concern. It’s part of a larger debate about whose interests natural gas exports are really in — corporate interest or the public interest?
The Cove of Calvert community, where Neal lives, contains about 60 homes and is located on the Chesapeake Bay. The homeowners are familiar with potentially dangerous energy infrastructure: the community is just a short drive from the Dominion Cove Point LNG import terminal near Calvert Cliffs State Park, and not far from the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, which experienced an unplanned shutdown of both reactors just last week.
Home mainly to retired couples and young families, Cove of Calvert is quiet and secluded, and many houses back directly onto the beach.
Dominion’s export terminal plans would bring more pollution, noise and industry to the area, according to Neal and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
In fact, research by the coalition shows Dominion’s proposed liquefaction facility “would emit more heat-trapping carbon dioxide than all but three of the state’s existing coal plants.” The entire LNG export process, the coalition says, would release more greenhouse gases than Maryland’s seven coal-fired power plants combined.
Neal says local government officials have not been receptive to homeowners’ concerns.
"Dominion and the County Board of Commissioners have done everything they could to keep the facts and details away from residents," she says. "There have been no public hearings. Dominion is not a good neighbor: they did not reach out to our homeowners’ association across the street. They did not reach out to other [homeowners’ associations] in the area. We have repeatedly asked the county commissioners to hold hearings and they’ve turned us down."
Before a hearing to exempt the proposed facility from zoning regulations, County Commissioner Susan E. Shaw posted on Facebook discouraging community attendance. "It is a waste of time to come to the zoning hearing if you have concerns about the Dominion Cove Point Project," she wrote. "[Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] hearings will be held later. Of course, if you want to waste your time, feel free."
Neal says that approach has people enraged. "The meeting after the vote, people were standing up and screaming 'shame on you,'" she says. "These are local, mild-mannered people who are incensed by this. These are not environmentalists. These are local residents. There were elderly people talking about their fears and how they couldn’t get their questions answered."
Residents are also upset by the proposed tax breaks for Dominion, which they see as essentially subsidizing the pollution of their community. In May, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a law giving Calvert County the authority to discount Dominion’s taxes. Now, the matter rests in the commissioner’s hands. Neal, for one, doesn’t place much trust in her local officials.
Currently, only about 150 of the 1,000 acres owned by Dominion are used for industrial operations. The expansion, Neal says, "is going to turn the whole area into an industrial site."
Pete Ide probably isn’t the first person you’d expect to oppose the Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.
“First of all, I have to be frank,” he says. “I depend on fossil fuels to make a living.” A charter boat captain on the Chesapeake Bay, Ide has fished his entire life. As such, he’s seen the decline in water quality and marine life in the Chesapeake firsthand.
“The water quality has been so bad these past two years, I had to move my boat because there weren’t any fish here,” he says. The dead zones get larger every year as algae blooms exacerbated by runoff from farm fertilizer, industrial livestock and poultry production eat up the oxygen marine life needs to survive.
Though the Dominion Cove Point LNG terminal won’t be dumping fertilizer, Ide says it will just be one more step in the degradation. "It’s not going to put me out of business," he says, "but it's another brick in the wall. It's 49 more acres of heavy industrial build-out on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay."
Through seafood production and tourism, the Chesapeake Bay supports more than a trillion dollars of economic activity. The Calvert County shore in Maryland, where Dominion Energy plans to build the liquefaction facility, is home to wetlands and rare species of plants and animals, including migratory birds. Construction would require clearing forests and bringing in heavy construction materials on the Patuxent River.
Dominion Energy’s plans require constructing an on-site 130 megawatt power plant, storage units and a liquefaction facility. Upstream, pipelines, pier adjustments and compressor stations will need to be constructed or adapted for shipping natural gas.
When constructed, the facility will be the fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter in Maryland, and it won’t just be pumping out greenhouse gases. Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulates are all byproducts of natural gas usage and are air pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. The World Health Organization recognized the negative health effects of air pollution, such as cancer, earlier this year.
Needless to say, Ide is not just concerned about his livelihood.
"I think this is going to have a serious and profound impact on our quality of life here in Calvert County, certainly during the construction phase…when the construction phase is finished, the effects will be much more insidious and not as noticeable – unless you happen to live right in the area of the facility," he says.
"That’s who I feel like I am fighting for more than anything at this point…I think this is a classic case of big fossil fuel business coming in and making backdoor deals with local businesspeople and politicians."
In October 2013, a statewide poll commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network found that 81 percent of Marylanders believed a full environmental impact statement should be conducted for the proposed Cove Point expansion. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not indicated any plans to conduct a full environmental impact statement and, according to environmental groups, the commission looks likely to use a less comprehensive environmental assessment.
The commission is not required to conduct an environmental impact statement for minor modifications, but environmental groups say Dominion Energy’s assertion that the project is minor is "misguided and absurd."
In an October letter to Maryland state Governor Martin O’Malley, 122 local, state and national groups urged the governor to demand a full federal environmental impact assessment on the liquefaction expansion project.
Ide says regulators have only taken short-term economic concerns into consideration rather than the long-term impacts the facility will have on environmental quality and safety. There are restrictions in place to make sure construction is done safely along the shore, but Calvert County is considering exempting Dominion from local zoning regulations.
As someone observing the traffic on the Bay, Ide also worries about the potential for a BLEVE, an acronym for a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion. These explosions occur when a vessel holding a liquid pressurized above its boiling point suddenly ruptures. (The Quebec train disaster that killed 47 people in July is one example.)
The National Transportation Safety Board recently warned that a "major loss of life" could result from the increasing use of trains to carry crude oil.
The potential for explosions at LNG facilities and ships is still debated, although everyone agrees the risk is low. Still, Ide says, the risk is more than zero, and it increases with every extra gallon of liquefied natural gas and every extra tanker travelling through the Patuxent River and the Bay. Dominion Energy says it is committed to safety and has worked with Calvert County to institute emergency plans.
Then again, the risk of the Quebec train explosion and BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill were also considered minimal.
"We don’t have to try to scare people," Ide says, "but on that note, I feel like our security is definitely threatened by that plant being there."
This is a joke as the Minority Contractor lawyer has shouted constantly about the loss of black voice in city business as well as development and Jack Young always votes with Baltimore Development.
The important thing to remember about public rec centers is that they are historically a place for the public to meet to talk politics and community issues freely as were public schools. When you hand all public institutions to private corporate non-profits they will tell you......WE CANNOT BE POLITICAL SO TAKE YOUR TALK SOMEWHERE ELSE. That is why all these public institutions are being closed. Let's face it, the $300,000 to renovate and run is pennies to $100 million handed to Exelon for nothing. So, this privatization is not about expense.....it is about getting all public venues for gathering under control of corporate leadership.....these directors are hand-picked by the corporations 'donating' for their operation.
Baltimore is almost completely privatized now by Johns Hopkins. This Health and Education reform these few years is handing all public health and public education over to corporate private non-profits so we do not have control of any public policy. THAT'S THE GOAL AND JACK YOUNG AND CITY HALL ARE ALL ON BOARD WITH THIS.
If we do not wake up as citizens to run for all offices in primaries to shake these corporate pols out of the rug.....we will no longer be citizens. That is what all this behind the door policy-writing is all about. WAKE UP AND RUN FOR OFFICE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
Young questions lack of minority participation in rec center consulting
The Colorado-based consultants would fly to city and conduct sessions with Rec and Park staff and sponsor a leadership summit
Mark Reutter January 29, 2014 at 6:31 pm Baltimore Brew
Rec and Parks wants a Colorado firm help it identify its core values and mission. The Madison Square Rec Center serves the low-income Oliver neighborhood.
A consulting contract to help the Recreation and Parks Department define its “values, vision, mission and core businesses” was held up today when City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young questioned the absence of minority participation.
Approval of the $53,000 contract to Colorado-based GreenPlay LLC was deferred for one week at Young’s request during the Board of Estimates’ pre-meeting, which takes place before the public meeting.
While miniscule compared to many consulting agreements – last week, for example, the spending panel approved $2.5 million for roadway paving consultants – Young was concerned that there was no minority participation in the Rec and Parks agreement, his spokesman, Lester Davis, said this afternoon.
The city requires 27% minority and 10% women-owned business participation in public contracts. The city’s rec centers and parks serve an overwhelming African-American clientele.
Paperwork accompanying the Rec and Parks request, reviewed by The Brew, asserted that the contract could not be “segmented” to include minority and women’s participation. This was partially because the consultant uses “proprietary methodologies and tools” to assess the success of recreation programs and facilities.
Cost Recovery Strategies
In a letter to the agency, Greenplay’s Chris Dropinski summed up the purpose of the contract as “you are looking to reactivate the department” to be “much more purposeful in what you are providing” to the public.
GreenPlay said it would concentrate on helping senior staff identify duplicative efforts at city rec centers and develop “pricing and cost recovery strategies.”
In short, the consultant – who plans to fly in several members from Denver to work for several days at a time in Baltimore – will pursue the “privatization” plan favored by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and outlined in a 2011 report by a mayoral task force.
The plan to close or turn over to private operators as many as 20 inner-city rec centers has been highly controversial. The two of the plan’s principal architects – department director Gregory Bayor and chief of recreation Bill Tyler – left the agency after brief tenures (here and here).
Delayed City Audit
Rec and Parks is currently undergoing the first audit in at least 25 years by the City Comptroller’s office.
The audit, originally planned to be released last summer, has been delayed due to various problems in assembling financial data for City Auditor Robert McCarty. The bulk of the audit has been completed, but has not been publicly released.
Ernest W. Burkeen Jr., appointed as agency director 14 months ago, requested that the Board of Estimates approve the GreenPlay contract as part of what he called a master plan for community centers for youth and adults.
GreenPlay, established in 1999, provides consulting, community outreach, strategic planning and staff training to park, recreation and open-space agencies around the country.
The group said it plans to hold a “leadership summit” with community leaders and government agencies in Baltimore to focus on a long-term plan to better serve the city’s recreation needs.
Under the proposed contract, three principals of GreenPlay would each be paid $150 an hour by the city.
The consulting salaries would amount to no more than $44,100, the contract states, while travel and hotel expenses would total about $9,000.
The group’s proposal suggests that the company expects to be retained by Rec and Parks after the initial contract expires in a year.
Donna Edwards has a campaign spot that shouts to support Obama this term.....STOP VOTING FOR THESE NEO-LIBERALS!
Looks like Donna Edwards supports ending Medicare and Medicaid by throwing them into state health systems and ending Social Security by building myRA accounts to replace the Trusts.....looks like she thinks suspending Rule of Law and allowing tens of trillions of corporate fraud stay with the looters and pretending the national debt created by these frauds needs to be paid by cutting all public services, programs, and Federal workers wages and benefits, people's homes lost to massive subprime mortgage fraud. She supports allowing Bush Tax cuts continue so the wealthy could get a trillion in tax breaks.....the largest in US history leaving the working/middle class to pay down the debt.....no taxation has happened for the rich and corporations. Rather, Obama and Congress has sent trillions of dollars in tax breaks under the guise of job creation not telling the American people that it was for US global corporate expansion and the jobs were overseas.
So, Donna Edwards loves the loss of all New Deal and War on Poverty programs as Obama's TPP re-writes the US Constitution from WE THE PEOPLE and eliminates the BILL OF RIGHTS to give global corporate tribunals the right to write law for the US and ignore existing US law while operating in the US. Obama's goal.....making the US the same as China for US corporate profits!
What's not to like about all that says Donna Edwards!
Citizens Oversight Maryland.com
The issue surrounding the Affordable Care Act is that it is simply a consolidation of health industry just like Wall Street banks with Clinton to create global health systems that will not care at all about patients and quality of care but with how to maximize profit by limiting access to most care for most people.
It also builds the state health system that will be where Federal programs Medicare and Medicaid will be thrown as these Federal programs are ended.
All of Affordable CAre Act along with the mandated purchase of insurance comes from a republican, conservative think tank and republicans have tried for decades to install the ACA, but it took neo-liberals that have control of the democratic party to pass this republican policy ending Federal Medicare/Medicaid and making public health all about corporate profit.
So, when republicans in the HOUSE and here in MD try to pretend they are against this raging republican health reform..they are lying and would do the same if in office! If you hate having your health care access disappear and Medicare being slashed and tiered so that you cannot access a doctor but are being pushed into ACOs that will tell you what you will do with your health..VOTE NEO-LIBERALS AND REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES!
Even republican voters need to shake the corporate bugs from the rug!
'It's not a lie if you believe it' [Commentary] Marylanders need a reality check when it comes to the administration's handling of the Affordable Care Act
- By David R. Craig 1:40 p.m. EST, January 29, 2014 Baltimore Sun
My criticism of the events since the Oct. 1 rollout will surely be labeled as just more opposition doom and gloom. Well, rest assured, it is anything but that. It is black and white, dollars and cents reality.
The facts are there for all to see. It has now been revealed by The Sun and the Washington Post that the administration knew about glitches in the website long before it was introduced. There were issues between the website's lead contractor — in North Dakota of all places — and the subcontractors. The administration's health care exchange director resigned just weeks after the rollout. The administration's point man on the rollout, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who was supposedly overseeing this process for the past three years, either turned a blind eye or was just blind to what was going on.
And in the height of arrogance, Lieutenant Governor Brown came before state legislators and refused to even apologize to the thousands of Marylanders for the time wasted on the exchange website, let alone the fact that these citizens are still walking around without health care.
Maybe the lieutenant governor really believed his assurances that the website would work. This reminds one of the neurotic, George Costanza character on "Seinfeld," who said, "It's not a lie if you believe it."
The truth is, people who have signed up on Maryland's exchange may not have their coverage in place for the first few months, and some are being encouraged to enroll in the Maryland Health Insurance Plan designed for high-risk applicants.
In the meantime, people on my campaign staff discovered a glitch in the website program that takes applicants to "navigators" in other states. So if you put in a Baltimore zip code, you will more than likely wind up talking to someone in Delaware, Pennsylvania or Virginia — after a few hours on hold.
Today, more than three months after the fact, the site is really not much better than it was the day it froze on thousands of Marylanders. That is the reality.
Yes, people are getting insured through Medicaid, but that is not why Maryland was given over $160 million to set up an exchange.
What we need are leaders who will deliver common-sense strategies to fix this mess. Sadly, it is time for the adults to take over.
That is why our campaign called for the state to direct applicants to the insurance companies whose knowledgeable brokers will help citizens find the right health insurance plan — a proposal that has since been implemented. Applicants are still able to get the ACA insurance offered on the exchange and still able to get subsidies and tax credits.
We have also called for the state to redirect the $150 million earmarked to promote this failed site to instead tell people that the ACA in fact, does allow for them to go directly to the insurance companies for ACA plans.
So instead of empowering bureaucracy, we would be empowering individuals to make health care affordable and accessible.
These ideas and proposals have nothing to do with repeal of Obamacare or keeping people from getting insurance. It is about doing the right thing for all Marylanders.
All of this goes to the bigger issue of a culture among leaders in Annapolis who believe they do not have to answer to anyone but themselves.
This is the culture of one-party rule that allows budgets to be balanced with money hijacked from designated funds and then by inventing more taxes to the point where businesses and citizens are forced to move to other states.
If anything should be learned from this Obamacare, Martin O'Malley and Anthony Brown debacle it is this: We are well past the time for wishful thinking. It is time to answer the indifference of "business as usual" year with real-world solutions. That is the reality. And it needs to be checked.
What Rawlings-Blake means is that the consultants were not team players and so did not hide the fraud and corruption as all the other outside 'consultants' do. It is just like the Center for Public Integrity giving Maryland a failing grade and a ranking at the bottom nationally for fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency and O'Malley dismissing it as faulty research.
The problem is not who is brought in, the problem is that Maryland's and Baltimore State and City Attorney's office does not have a white collar/government corrruption branch of its office and there is no funding to see that it does. It is the dismantling of all public justice in the state that allows mayors, county executives, and governors to ignore all media and citizen shouting about fraud and corruption. If we do not demand those running for office as City/State Attorney make fraud and corruption their priority and not the mantra of 'getting guns off the street'.....we will not turn this around. No one running for state or city attorney will do that...they are all captured and crony.
What can a voter do? If you elect a Mayor or Governor who makes fraud and corruption his/her mantra, then that executive can circumvent these errant City/State Attorney's offices and push through oversight, investigation, and force these public 'defenders' to prosecute these corrupt government/corporate institutions.
Mayor says audit firm was 'not sufficiently qualified' Offers new reason for lack of action on audit results
- By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 1:42 p.m. EST, January 29, 2014
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake offered a new explanation Wednesday for why her administration never acted on the results of an audit that found a high error rate in tickets from Baltimore's speed camera system: The national engineering firm the city paid to do it was "not sufficiently qualified" to do a thorough report.
She also said the 90-page audit by engineering firm URS Corp. was "incomplete."
"It was clear from that document that the company was not sufficiently qualified to do a complete review," Rawlings-Blake told reporters at a news conference Wednesday at City Hall. The mayor fielded questions about the audit, which the administration received in April and has never released.
The city this month hired URS to another $237,000 worth of work — "additional independent monitoring services" of the city's speed and red-light cameras, among other tasks, according to city documents. The mayor's spokesman, Kevin Harris, said the work is not a continuation of the speed camera audit.
The audit was done as part of $278,000 of work URS conducted for the city last year.
URS officials have not responded to previous requests for comment on the audit and could not immediately be reached Wednesday.
The City Council decided Monday to investigate the circumstances surrounding the audit and why the administration never released it and other documents to the public. The Baltimore Sun reported the findings of the audit last week after receiving a leaked copy.
Consultant URS Corp. evaluated the camera system as run by Xerox Sate and Local Solutions in 2012 and found an error rate of more than 10 percent — 40 times higher than officials had claimed. For the audit, URS looked at a sample of nearly 1,000 tickets from a random day in 2012 at 37 of the city's 83 speed cameras. The firm said it could vouch for the accuracy of about only 64 percent of tickets. More than 10 percent were found to be in error. Another 26 percent were described as questionable.
The document contained some caveats. URS said it ran out of time to review citations from all of the city's cameras, and therefore submitted findings for the 37 it did analyze. The company also said that camera vendor Xerox might be able to explain some of the problems.
During her comments Wednesday, the mayor emphasized the city has refunded erroneous tickets in the past, and shut down the entire speed camera system in April amid accuracy concerns.
"Every time that we saw an incident where a camera has an unacceptable error rate, the camera was taken down so it could be fixed, the incorrect citations were voided and refunds were given," she said.
Officials have said, however, that no refunds were issued as a result of the findings about the 37 cameras tested by URS.
Xerox was the city's speed camera vendor from the fall of 2009 through 2012. In response to a request from The Sun, Harris provided data showing that over the years, the city refunded 6,253 speed camera tickets issued by Xerox. The documents indicate that 3,091 tickets were refunded due to errors, while others were for different reasons, such as duplicate payments.
Rawlings-Blake emphasized Wednesday that the tickets help keep children in school zones safe. Though the city's speed and red light camera systems have been shut down since April, the mayor has said she plans to launch a new program this year.
Driver advocacy group AAA Mid-Atlantic and some lawmakers have urged local governments to conduct audits of their speed camera programs after learning that the audit of Baltimore's program documented far higher error rates than previously disclosed. Baltimore and Howard counties have argued that audits of their programs are unnecessary. Annapolis police said they were open to an audit.
SEE HOW NEO-LIBERALS ARE MADE TO LOOK LIKE GREAT ADMINISTRATORS.....O'MALLEY HAS HAD ALMOST EVERY POLICY ATTEMPT FAIL.....FROM CRIME FIGHTING TO HEALTH CARE REFORM, FROM EDUCATION REFORM TO OPEN GOVERNMENT......ALL FAILURES.
Do you know that O'Malley took most of that $1 billion subprime mortgage settlement and placed it into state funds making it look like the budget was balanced? Did you know that O'Malley leads MD history in tying the state to so much leveraged debt that when the next economic crash comes.....very soon, that it will sink the state and Baltimore into default....WHOOPS....that is what happened to Detroit and Michigan! So, using Wall Street levering has hidden state expenditures for decades and the citizens of MD will pay for it. It's like loading your credit card with debt while looking as though you live a responsible fiscal life.
O'Malley did not stop there! Known to have underfunded Baltimore City pensions and allowing them to be thrown into the stock market from the then safety of the bond market in 2007....as was done with state pensions as well so they could be used to prop up big banks....now, as governor he send teacher's pensions, also having lost 1/2 value from that fraud back to localities knowing these localities will not be able to handle them. If rather he had demanded that the 1/2 value lost to fraud be recovered....public sector pensions would be flush with money (remember, that 1/2 value lost would have increased quite a bit in this bull market). So, O'Malley balanced the budget by throwing teacher's pensions to the wolves.
The structural deficit MD is lost corporate and wealth taxes. O'Malley has given so many corporate tax breaks in his tenure as mayor and now governor as to place taxes on the income side of corporate accounting ledgers. It is incredible how much revenue is lost the state with tax law that allows corporations and the rich to not pay taxes. That does not even address the failure to audit for tax payment of say s corporations, b corporations, and fraud in the business tax break program.
THIS IS WHY MARYLAND HAS A STRUCTURAL BUDGET DEFICIT AND AS YOU SEE, O'MALLEY THREW ALL OF THE BURDEN OF THAT DEBT CREATION ON THE PUBLIC SECTOR AND MD CITIZENS WITH ALMOST 20 TAX AND FEE INCREASES REGRESSIVELY AIMED.
WOW....is this man a democrat?????? No, he is a neo-liberal working for wealth and profit.....and head of a state that the Center for Public Integrity ranked at the bottom for fraud and corruption. So, do you really excel when you move money in this fashion? Of course not, the Baltimore Sun has a duty to give these pols headlines for their next election for goodness sake!
I'm afraid I have to go to a part 3 with this one....MD's education stats have constantly been brought out as skewed by deliberate error as has his crime stats. and employment stats are no different. We know the unemployment in MD is very high and we know that wage theft in MD is very wide-spread and this skews income data higher and unemployment data higher than it actually is. Unemployment data is calculated by those now receiving unemployment and with the extended unemployment law passed by Congress came MD's falling to below the percentage needing to offer expanded unemployment lowering the rate further. MD had very little job grow since the crash, certainly not enough to keep up with levels needed to stay at the 10% level a few years ago. So, if you take many of the lowest wage earners and leave them unemployed long-term...you get higher wages. Also, if you allow low-wage earners to have their wages stolen, then a $9 an hour stat doesn't show that person actually received $4 an hour after fraud.
This is how wage and employment stats are skewed just as with the crime and education stats.....it is all a farce. WE KNOW IT, YOUR POLITICIAN KNOWS IT, AND SO DO THE MEDIA!
O'Malley excelled in tough times [Commentary] Maryland's governor kept the state healthy and strong despite economic and political setbacks
By Jim Rosapepe 1:51 p.m. EST, January 22, 2014 BAltimore Sun
As Gov. Martin O'Malley makes his final state of the state speech Thursday, it's a good time to look at what seven years of his governorship have meant for Maryland.
The state of the state is clearly good: first in median family income, a top three state in income mobility, first in K-12 education five years in a row. And Maryland has already recovered 99 percent of jobs lost in the Great Recession. These are hard facts.
But such snapshots overstate and understate Mr. O'Malley's impact. They reflect decades of state policy, external events, technological and demographic changes — and plain old luck.
Governors do make a difference, though, particularly ones with strong values and strong leadership skills.
For example, in January 2006, after three years of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s budget cuts had forced college tuition up 43 percent, I proposed that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents (of which I was then a member) freeze tuition for the coming year. My proposal was defeated 13-to-1. But that week, Martin O'Malley took up the cause of college affordability, won the governor's race, froze tuition for four years and has capped tuition hikes at 3 percent for the past three years.
The result is Mr. O'Malley has led Maryland to best in the nation in boosting college affordability, from the sixth highest tuition to the middle of pack. That's change Maryland families can take to the bank.
It's also a great example of the values and governing style Mr. O'Malley has brought to Annapolis.
He took office after four years of partisan and social division, fiscal gridlock and underinvestment.
In 2007, Mr. O'Malley moved decisively to get the state back on track. He called a special General Assembly session to clean up the billion-dollar long term deficit he inherited, raising revenue by making the income tax more progressive and closing tax loopholes. And he took on more controversial issues — cutting the budget, adding a penny to the sales tax and negotiating a compromise on gambling. The result? Maryland's AAA bond rating was reaffirmed, and the state was fiscally prepared to weather the international financial crisis of 2008.
He also brought a new tone to Annapolis: respect for political opponents, immigrants and other minorities — and even legislators. When I came to the Senate in 2007, I was astonished to hear Republican colleagues say they were being consulted more by Mr. O'Malley than they had been by his predecessor.
In government, as in kindergarten, playing well with others is mission critical. Mr. O'Malley has shown he's an A student in working with diverse personalities and interests. More than anything else, that's why he's been able to strengthen Maryland's finances, expand health insurance to over 450,000 Marylanders, make college more affordable, boost renewable energy by 40 percent — not to mention win re-election by 14 points in 2010, a strong Republican year.
Mr. O'Malley has won almost his whole agenda — including repealing the death penalty, reducing gun violence and other crime and boosting minority contracting — by listening and leading. He has strong values — social solidarity, social justice and economic opportunity — and strong leadership. But he understands that compromise is the secret sauce of democracy.
Time and again, he has taken on controversial issues — fiscal prudence, immigrant and gay rights and environment protection. While other states ignored underfunded pensions, Mr. O'Malley worked with state unions to strengthen Maryland's.
For years he joined business leaders pushing to reduce traffic congestion. He knew raising the gas tax would never be popular. But when some Democrats wanted to him to dodge the issue until his term ended, he said no. He worked with legislators from around the state to pass a $2.9 billion package of investment in transit and roads.
Then there's health care.
Even with the Maryland Health Exchange's website problems, 453,000 more Marylanders have gained health insurance since 2007. With recent approval of the updated "Medicare waiver," Maryland leads the nation in innovation to hold down health care costs. And when he saw problems with the website, Governor O'Malley moved aside the bureaucrat who mismanaged it, put in a new team and told them to fix it. Now, more than 12,000 Marylanders a week are signing up for a health care plan.
When Governor O'Malley took office in 2007, Maryland's long term finances were out of balance. The next year the Great Recession hit the state. He managed through the tough times, cleaned up the fiscal mess he inherited and launched a wave of reform and investment — from transportation and health to education and the environment — to grow Maryland's middle class for decades to come.
Did you know that expanded voting times and ways to vote is not the problem with voting in Maryland? It is the candidates for which no one want to vote.....like Gansler. If you listened to WYPR this morning you heard Fraser Smith toting the political machines and war chests as the way MD does politics and indeed, this is why we get no candidates for which people want to vote. So, the election reform people want involves this:
All candidates follow public campaign funding laws that restricts campaigns to small donations and caps in funds collected. Gansler has a war chest no doubt from the industries for which he could 'see no fraud'. Let's try this election law AG Gansler!!!!
Next, we have open public forums on all media outlets with candidates on major media talking about all of the issues in the state and having actual citizens openly engaged in talking about politics ......let's go further and imagine these discussions happening in schools across the city and state. WOW......people knowing the issues and the candidate's standing on those issues....that is campaign reform in a captured MD media election coverage!
Gansler is now only officially a candidate? For goodness sake, his airtime had him with publicity more than any other. Oh, that's right, if you are in office the media becomes your campaign platform!!!! THAT DOESN'T SOUND RIGHT! Let's change that as well.
Gansler files for governor, pushes Saturday voting
- By Erin Cox The Baltimore Sun 10:00 a.m. EST, January 23, 2014
Gansler and his running mate Del. Jolene Ivey said they chose to file Thursday for its symbolism - the 50th anniversary of the constitutional amendment that abolished poll taxes in national elections.
In a web video released Thursday morning, Gansler and Ivey said that modern life makes it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day and the state should let people vote on the weekend immediately before it.
“On this historic day, we’re reminded that there’s still work to be done to protect voting rights here in Maryland,” said Gansler, a Montgomery County Democrat and former state’s attorney.
The state’s current early voting period runs from Thursday to Thursday the week before an election, which includes a Saturday but not the one immediately preceding an the election.
“Voting needs to be easier, not harder,” said Ivey, a Prince George’s County Democrat. “It’s a right, and we want to make sure you have a right to exercise that right.”
Gansler is the final declared candidate to file for the hotly contested Democratic primary race to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Lt. Governor Anthony Brown filed this summer; Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County filed in December.
This week, Rep. John Delaney stoked speculation he would join the race before the Feb. 25 filing deadline, but he has not declared his candidacy. A second congressman, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, announced this week he would not run for governor.
Imagine that!!!!! Keeping banks that are systemically criminal out of your community!!!!! Baltimore Development Corporation doubled down on them because they are partners in crime!!!
This is a pol shouting truth to power.....if your pol is not doing this before the election.....they will not after elected! Baltimore filled the communities hurt most by subprime fraud with the same banks that did the crime.....did you pol shout loudly to get them out????? Find one that does!
Friday, 17 January 2014 08:14
Chicago Alderwoman Proposes City Stop Doing Business With JPMorgan Chase After It Admits to Illegal Actions
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A politican wants to hold Wall Street accountable for its criminal and willfully negligent behavior -- and lo and behold, it's a Chicago alderwoman, according to the Sun-Times:
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) plans to introduce a City Council ordinance ...deleting the bank from its list of 19 designated financial heavy hitters.
Chase as a municipal depository.
..about $350 million in city municipal funds are now deposited with
Hairston argues that JPMorgan Chase should be treated like any other person or business prohibited from doing business with the city:
“The bank has violated the city code by making admissions of dishonesty and deceit in the way they dealt with their investors in the mortgage securities and Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandals,” Hairston [said].
“We use this code against city contractors and all the small companies, why wouldn’t we use this against one of the largest banks in the world,” she said.
“It’s bad enough the penalties imposed against them by the feds don’t really pinch them because they are able to pay off the fines levied against them."
Actually, JP Morgan Chase has made multiple admissions of negligence, fraud and either criminal behavior or what amounts to criminal behavior for a variety of financial misdeeds. But the Obama Administration, through Attorney General Holder, has let CEO Jamie Dimon and Chase off the hook by assessing billions and billions of dollars in fines. As repeatedly reported on BuzzFlash at Truthout, AG Holder has said that the banks too big to fail are too big to prosecute, because indictments and convictions might negatively impact the economy.
Of course, as we have pointed out, Wall Street "negatively affected" the economy in 2007 by nearly destroying it and continues to engage in illicit and willfully negligent activity. That will not stop until the Jamie Dimons of the world know that they might face jail time for creating corporate cultures that tolerate and encourage pushing through the edge of the legal envelope.
Hairston focuses on the most recent settlement, the JP Morgan Chase apparent knowledge that Bernie Madoff was engaged in a massive Ponzi scheme while accepting his deposits without informing the federal government of its concerns until the relatively last moments before he was indicted.
But Hairston needs to list the full sweep of JP Morgan Chase's recent fines, often in exchange for being criminally investigated and prosecuted. It you kited a check, you'd have to show up in court, but Chase shows that if you are going to engage in illegal financial behavior, make it big, very big as in being capable of crashing the US economy.
It is highly unlikely that Mayor Rahm "1%" Emanuel would support an ordinance that would penalize his banking pals, but it's encouraging to see some grassroots efforts to hold Wall Street accountable -- given that the US Department of Justice won't.
On a coincidental and ironic note, Alderwoman Hairston represents the Chicago South Side area where President Obama maintains his Chicago residence near the University of Chicago.
The two most important issues on fracking in Maryland is the baseline study of the Marcellus Aquifer that provides proof of the chemical composition of the aquifer before fracking contaminants leech into the aquifer.....and they will from WVA and PA even if MD does not frack. It is the threat of public lawsuits against these fracking corporations that make them think twice about how and where they frack. For a decade we have been demanding MD Assembly fund a few million dollars to do this baseline study and they won't. Why? Because they are protecting these fracking companies by denying MD citizens what they need to go to court!
The second issue is the natural gas terminal right here in MD and Mike Miller has stated he is on board with this as is O'Malley. If you don't shout out against exporting natural gas then it will get so expensive and bring great profit.....which is why corporate pols want it....that nothing will stop fracking in MD and in fact place fracking on steroids all around.
So, if a candidate does not shout out about all these fracking issues.....then the rest is simply a delay disguised as a study that simply is a period of writing law allowing it!
Candidates differ over 'fracking' Mizeur stresses "dangers" of shale gas drilling, while Brown-Ulman cite study of safety questions
Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Dist. 20), a Democratic candidate for governor, is sponsoring legislation to require an 18-month moratorium on fracking. (Timothy Wheeler/Baltimore Sun video)
Tim Wheeler 3:49 p.m. EST, January 10, 2014
Seeking to highlight her green credentials in the race for governor, Del. Heather Mizeur took issue Friday with the environmental platform posted this week by the front-running ticket of Lt. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
Mizeur's campaign issued a statement accusing Brown and Ulman of glossing over the dangers of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and making "vague statements" about how to exploit the energy deposits in western Maryland without harming the environment or people's health.
Mizeur, D-Montgomery, has pushed unsuccessfully for years for a moratorium on "fracking" until its safety has been thoroughly studied and adequate safeguards are in place. Though the legislation has not passed, Gov. Martin O'Malley has frozen drilling for past three years while an advisory commission on which Mizeur sits reviews the issues.
In their "environmental values" platform posted on the campaign web site this week, Brown and Ulman said they want to protect western Maryland families and the state's rural areas while pursuing "new energy opportunities."
"While the energy potential of the Marcellus Shale represents an enticing economic opportunity, we will not accept a process that jeopardizes our families or environment," they added.
Mizeur called hers "a more cautious approach" amid reports of contaminated wells in neighboring states with widespread fracking. She said she's joined with Sen. Ron Young, a Frederick County Democrat, in pushing this year for an 18-month delay in any drilling once the state commission finishes its review this summer. She said that was needed to give the General Assembly a chance to act any recommendations the panel makes.
Know why health care is now highest in state lobbying? Because all of public health is being handed to private corporations and tons of Medicare and Medicaid is to be handed to national health chains moving out of quality health institutions. Affordable Care Act creates unregulated health systems pushing consolidation and merger and acquisition of all that is Maryland's small health operations are tons of money for corporations!
$32 million spent on lobbying state, with health care industry at top January 08, 2014 at 8:24 am
By Len Lazarick
State House at sunset.
More than $32 million was spent last year lobbying state government, and the health-care industry was the top spender at $7.1 million.
The figures come from the official reports on lobbying by the State Ethics Commission, further massaged in an analysis by Common Cause, the good government advocacy group, which called the totals “staggering.”
Not surprising in a year that saw the implementation of Obamacare, causing the further growth of state involvement in health care through Medicaid, 62 health-care organizations spent $7.1 million on lobbying.
The Maryland Hospital Association topped the list of firms at $665,000.
The numbers do not include lobbying by state agencies, county governments and municipalities, which spend millions more, but are not required to report spending to the State Ethics Commission.
The other top categories for lobbying the legislature or state agencies in the regulatory process, as compiled by Common Cause, were utility and energy, $3.4 million; builders and Realtors, $3.2 million; gambling, $1.9 million; and business, $1.3 million.
The Top 10 individual spenders on lobbying were (numbers are rounded):
1. Maryland Hospital Association, $665,000
2. National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, $459,000
3. Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, $459,000
4. Maryland Retailers Association, $448,000
5. CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, $405,000
6. Maryland Bankers Association, $386,000
7. Comcast, $363,000
8. Johns Hopkins Institutions, $353,000
9. Maryland State Education Association, $351,000
10. Baltimore Jewish Council, $342,000
Another 22 employers spent more than $200,000 for the year from Nov. 1, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2013, and 74 employers spent more than $100,000, according to the Common Cause analysis.
The total compensation paid to the 148 lobbyists listed in the report was over $37 million. Almost $2 million was spent by these lobbyists on dinners, receptions and other events for legislators. Lobbyists are not allowed to take individual legislators out to dinner, but they may invite whole committees, delegations or the entire legislature.
The 10 highest grossing lobbyists were:
1. Timothy Perry, $1,531,107
2. Gerard Evans, $1,392,500
3. Robin Shaivitz, $1,390,165
4. Joel Rosner, $1,293,263
5. Gregory S. Proctor, $1,176,456
6. Michael Johansen, $1,025,011
7. Robert Enten, $1,002,266
8. Nicholas Manis, $964,350
9. Lisa Harris Jones, $934,625
10. John Stierhoff, $920,294
These numbers reflect gross billing by lobbyists, and include the money they spend on associates, support staff, offices and other expenses.
“While lobbyists have a role to play, with these top lobbyists reporting over $37 million in income – and a growing cadre of former elected officials and upper level staff joining the ranks of the lobbying corps – we are concerned that the voice of special interests is growing louder than the voice of constituents,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “We support legislation to strengthen training and reporting requirements for lobbyists and to slow down the revolving door from public servant to private lobbyist.”
Do you think gun control is the only issue Wall Street's mayor has for backing Frosh? Frisck and Jon Cardin are just the same. THEY WILL PROTECT WALL STREET FRAUD AND PROSECUTION. Do you hear any of these candidates running for Maryland Attorney General shouting loudly about corporate/government fraud and corruption in Maryland? WE HAVE NO ONE RUNNING FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL BACKING CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY!
We encourage Braveboy to shout out for more than social justice......she will no win a general election on issues surrounding civil rights. SHE MUST SHOUT FOR REINSTATING RULE OF LAW FOR WHITE COLLAR CRIME!
Outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorses Frosh for Md. attorney general
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg waits to speak at a gun violence summit at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore in January. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
By John Wagner, Published: December 18 E-mail the writer
In his bid for Maryland attorney general, Sen. Brian E. Frosh has picked up the endorsement of outgoing New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a noted national gun-control proponent.
Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, shepherded legislation introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) through the Senate this year that subjects handgun purchasers to new fingerprinting and training requirements.
The legislation, which took effect Oct. 1, also bans 45 types of assault rifles and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and includes steps intended to make it harder for those who are mentally ill to obtain firearms.
“Reducing gun violence in America is a moral and social imperative,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “No one has done more in Maryland than Brian Frosh to lead the fight against illegal guns and protect citizens from incidents of gun violence.”
Bloomberg, who steps down as mayor in two weeks, is co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and has poured millions of dollars of his own money into efforts to curb gun violence around the country and elect like-minded candidates.
“I’m honored to have Mayor Bloomberg’s support,” Frosh said. “His efforts to prevent gun violence have been an example for the nation, and we believe that Maryland’s new law will save thousands of lives.”
Frosh faces three fellow legislators in the June Democratic primary for Maryland attorney general: Dels. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s), Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and C. William Frick (D-Montgomery).
The candidates are running to succeed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who is competing in a competitive primary for governor next year.
deBlasio is a neo-liberal and not a socialist....and these goals are just what a progressive candidate would have as a platform-----they are social democratic!
Imagine: If Mayor de Blasio Really Were a Socialist
Thursday, 02 January 2014 00:00 By Cliff Connor and Michael Steven Smith, Truthout | Op-Ed
Mayor Bill de Blasio takes the oath of office on a Bible held by his wife, Chirlane McCray, at City Hall in New York, January 1, 2014. Looking on are their children, Chiara and Dante, and former President Bill Clinton, who administered the oath and also delivered a strong endorsement of the de Blasio and his assertively liberal campaign. (Photo: Chang W. Lee / The New York Times)
Conner and Smith propose a real socialist agenda for a real socialist mayor of New York City.
For a lot of people lately, "socialism" is not a dirty word. Trying to smear incoming New York City mayor Bill De Blasio by falsely calling him a socialist seems not to have hurt his campaign at all. In fact, his support continued to grow, and he won by a landslide.
Proving that socialists can be elected in America, a young woman named Kshama Sawant recently ran a bold socialist campaign for City Council in Seattle, and, with a great deal of union and community support, defeated a long-tenured Democrat. A 2012 national Pew poll discovered that 49 percent of people younger than 29 had a favorable reaction to the word "socialism," and the two most looked-up words in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary last year were "socialism" and "capitalism." Pope Francis recently described capitalism as a "new tyranny" that has created a "throwaway culture that discards young people as well as its older people." None of this should be surprising, given the failure of real wages to rise over the past 40 years and the quantum leap in economic hopelessness brought about by the 2008 crash and the current Great Recession.
Imagine if Bill De Blasio were really a socialist and came into office with socialist goals. What might he do as Mayor of New York City? He would have one potent weapon to wield: the "bully pulpit" of which Theodore Roosevelt spoke. He could mount that pulpit to rally public support to fight for socially progressive measures.
Socialist Mayor De Blasio could continue to emphasize that he is telling a tale of two cities, one of the 99 percent versus the ruling 1 percent. (The disparity is actually much more stark; more like 99.99 percent against .01 percent.) The latter are the finance, real estate and insurance interests that really run our city, where 50,000 individuals make more than $500,000 a year, and 60,000, mostly children, are homeless on any given night.
A socialist mayor could be a tribune of, and for, the people. What agenda might he advance? Here are some possibilities:
• Launch a mass action campaign for single-payer health care, "Medicare for All," free for everyone, recognizing health as a human right.
• Put the city's resources on the side of the poorest workers, like those in the food chains and garment shops, and demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage, sick days, pensions and vacations with pay.
• Find or build housing for every homeless person.
• Support tenants defending rent controls and extend rent control to small businesses as well.
• End the illegal stop-and-frisk practice of the Police Department by withdrawing Bloomberg's court appeal and abiding by Judge Scheindlin's decision that 600,000 people a year, mostly young people of color, had their 4th and 14th amendment rights violated.
• Dismantle the police state surveillance of New Yorkers. Take the street cameras down. Get the police spies out of the mosques and Muslim communities. Stop police collaboration and office-sharing with Wall Street bankers. Get the police out of our grassroots political organizations.
• Allow for street protests without pens and nets and videotaping of activists. Apologize for collaboration with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in raiding and breaking up the Occupy Wall Street encampment. Restore the Handschu consent decree limiting how police can spy on New Yorkers.
• Prosecute the banksters who crashed the economy in 2008 and then got bailed out with our money.
• Work to implement a municipal tax code that eliminates all regressive taxes like the sales tax. Replace them with taxes on Wall Street financial transactions and support higher corporate taxes.
• March on picket lines with teachers and students to roll back cuts in education financing and tuition.
• Declare New York City a "Demilitarized Zone" within the USA where the peace movement is encouraged in its opposition to our country's illegal, immoral, obscenely expensive and seemingly endless wars abroad.
• Make education and actions about human-caused climate change the number-one priority which, if not controlled, will doom us.
Michael Moore, echoing FDR, proposed a second Bill of Rights in our new book, Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA. Moore wrote of the goals that might guide a socialist mayor: "That every American has a human right to employment, to health care and a free and full education; to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food; and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age."
Socialism has a tradition in America. Our most famous thinker, Albert Einstein, was a socialist. Martin Luther King said, "If we are going to achieve real equality, the United States will have to adopt a modified form of socialism." Mayor De Blasio, as you take office, we remind you of the song of another socialist, John Lennon, who wrote in "Imagine" that, You may say I'm a dreamer / But I'm not the only one / I hope someday you'll join us / And the world will live as one.
Mr. Mayor, this expresses the desire of humanity since the days of the prophets. The majority of the people who elected you would be for it. Do you dare?
One wonders how two people hated by the right and left alike are able to be the most loved? How does that happen? Capitol Hill has an approval rating of 17% and Hillary is seen as queen of the global tribunal. One only has to look at Gallop's reliability as a pollster of integrity to see what this headline means. It's like calling MD a BLUE state for goodness sake.
Gallop was caught on more than one occasion fudging data to make political candidate look more favorable than they were and that is what is happening here.
'Hillary Rodham Clinton Hits Ratings Slump, While Obama's Approval Still at Record Lows' Corporate media is gearing up for its Obama is a community organizer and Hillary's it takes a village propaganda that people before the economic crash believed but who now know where to get media that is REAL! Democrats will be voting for Bernie Sanders and getting Russ Feingold out of retirement and leaving the neo-liberals to join the neo-cons!
All of Maryland democrats are neo-liberals and you can tell by their support of public private partnerships. These are simply ways of privatizing all that is public and moving money and public policy-making from the people to these corporations. SHOUT LOUDLY AGAINST THESE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS AND RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES AGAINST NEO-LIBERALS PUSHING THIS!
Private Federal Contractors Cost Taxpayers Twice as Much as Civil Servants
Monday, 23 December 2013 11:36 By Jessica Desvarieux, The Real News Network | Video Report
More at The Real News
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
A recent article in Newsweek revealed that federal government pays twice as much for private domestic contractors compared to civil servants. Some on Capitol Hill have been bringing more attention to this glaring statistic, like Democratic senator Claire McCaskill. She chaired a hearing last year exploring the difference in cost between contractors and federal employees. Here's what the senator had to say.
Also see: Who're You Rootin' for - Team Public or Team Private?
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, U.S. SENATOR (D-MO): We have spent a lot of time in Congress talking about freezing the number of federal employees and freezing the pay of federal employees. There has not been enough talk about freezing the size of the contracting force and freezing the pay of contractors. And frankly, if people understand that we're spending more money on service-related contractors in many agencies than we're spending on federal employees--.
DESVARIEUX: Now joining us is the writer of the Newsweek article, David Cay Johnston. He's a Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter and bestselling author who writes columns for Al Jazeera America, NationalMemo.com, and Tax Analysis. And he's a contributing editor to Newsweek. He also teaches the business property tax law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law.
Thanks for joining us, David.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Glad to be here.
DESVARIEUX: So, David, as the axiom goes--basically that in the U.S., for-profit companies provide services more efficiently and cheaper than the public sector. What does your research show?
JOHNSTON: Not at all. Private contractors provided by corporations, as opposed to nonprofits, cost the federal government on average twice as much as civil servants, and when they're hired by the Defense Department, three times as much as civil servants.
Now, proponents of contractors will argue that they can hire them on a short-term basis, whereas we tend to hire employees long-term. But I don't think that's a significant defense to the fact that these costs are so high. Last year, contractors were able to charge the government as much a $763,029 per employee.
DESVARIEUX: And you also hear from those who are in favor of federal contractors saying that essentially the federal contractors fill a void. I mean, why is there a rise in federal employees if there's not this need? Can you speak a little bit about the history? How did this all come about?
JOHNSTON: Well, it traces back, I think, pretty much to the rise of the organizations prompted by the Lewis Powell Memo. In the 1960s, the consumer movement was doing quite well, and Ralph Nader came along with all of his research and insights. And you'll remember General Motors hired a prostitute in an effort to compromise him, something that wouldn't work with Ralph. And as a result of the rise of the consumer movement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hired a very prominent and brilliant lawyer in Richmond Virginia by the name of Lewis Powell, and he wrote a memo on how to bring the press to heel, how to stop the consumer movement, and how to make sure that America was remade in the image of big business. Powell, of course, later served on the U.S. Supreme Court after he was nominated by Richard Nixon.
And shortly after Powell's memo recommending that the right set up what I call ideological marketing organizations--they're just like advertising agencies, but instead of selling you shampoo or beauty products, they're selling you economic and political ideology--we got the Heritage Foundation, we got Cato, which, it turns out, you know, while it's a nonprofit, is actually owned by the Koch brothers, and ten other big pro-business right-wing organizations. And they began saying general workers efficient; federal workers lazy, stupid; federal workers can't do anything; we should be hiring business--they can do things. They have no factual support for this. It was ideological.
Paul Light, a professor at New York University who holds the Paulette Goddard chair, named for the actress and genius Paulette Goddard, has spent years studying the costs of workers. And he has shown how we have a shadow federal workforce through these contractors of a couple of million people. And, of course, when ordinary federal employees go to a retreat, if they just engage in line dancing, as IRS employees did as a team-building exercise, this will be excoriated as an awful waste of the taxpayers' money. But corporate contractors, why, they have golf outings, they go to very expensive resorts for their meetings, and the government just pays the bills.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. David, I want to go back to your Newsweek article, because you mentioned the two-tier system of contracting, with for-profit companies versus nonprofits. Can you explain that further?
JOHNSTON: Yes. The government has two systems of contracting: separate and unequal. Corporate contractors--you know, Grumman, Boeing, McKinsey, Booz Allen Hamilton--they operate in one system, where they are very well paid and often produce incredibly shoddy work.
Then the government hires nonprofits. And they can range from Catholic family services, people who run soup kitchens. There's a whole host of nonprofits. Those nonprofits are never paid in full for the costs of services. They are very closely monitored on what they pay. When I asked Rick Cohen, who used to get such contracts and now writes about them for a nonprofit publication, what would happen if there was a proposed just six-figure salary--$100,000, not $762,000, but $100,000--he just cackled. I mean, it was absurd to think anybody would do that. They would be hassled over salaries of less than $50,000.
And this is indicative of how the federal government has been changed. My book Free Lunch, which came out in 2007, and my book The Fine Print in 2012 in good part are about how companies have figured out--many of them have figured out that it's easier to mine the Treasury for gold than to earn money in the marketplace.
DESVARIEUX: And we should also note that many of these private contractors receive government funds, yet they have set up tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes. And a number of private companies have been caught cheating the government, but only receive relatively small penalties. Can you provide some specific examples of these types of companies?
JOHNSTON: Yeah. In 2004, Norm Coleman, a Republican senator from Minnesota, got a report made on tax cheating, which I had been writing about at The New York Times, by Pentagon contractors. Every ninth contractor was found to be cheating. Many of them were not withholding taxes, which is illegal. The government would not--however, the Pentagon would not name any of these companies, claiming that was confidential taxpayer material protected by laws Congress has passed.
And it turns out that once ABC Widget Maker is caught not paying his taxes, the Pentagon has to fire them. And they do that on a Friday. And on Monday, DEF Widget Makers opens up with a new contract, and things just continue on. This is an absolutely scandalous practice.
The other thing that goes on is companies renting a Bermuda mailbox to avoid paying U.S. taxes. And I did front page stories about that in the New York Times around the year 2000, a series of them. Of all the ironies in the world, the prime contractor for the IRS website is Accenture, a big consulting firm that used to be part of Arthur Anderson, and which at the time had its headquarters in--you guessed it--Bermuda.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. And can you speak to any other companies as well, just so our viewers know?
JOHNSTON: [incompr.] ran a company that at the time was led by a former Green Beret, who was telling everybody and anywhere what a patriot he was. He moved his company on paper to Bermuda to avoid about $40 million a year in federal income taxes. And as a result of my work, there was a five-hour floor debate in the House, where the Republicans and the Democrats each tried to bid up how they were going to be tougher on this than the other party.
The Republicans got their bill passed, which appeared to be really tough--no federal contracts for companies that abandoned the United States and refused to pay all their taxes by setting up a mailbox in Bermuda* (asterisk). What nobody but me reported was that they put in a clause which said, but your American subsidiary can have a contract with the U.S. government.
DESVARIEUX: So, David, we've established that the system clearly has some major issues it needs to deal with. How can the federal contracting system be reformed to cut down on waste and fraud?
JOHNSTON: Well, the first thing I would do is make it a criminal offense for a federal contractor of any kind or any of its officers or directors to make, directly or indirectly, any campaign contributions.
You know, the bureaucrats at a federal agency can't make campaign contributions to up their budgets. You never heard of the Bureau of Mines going out and trying to make sure that a pro-mine inspection congressmen got elected. But contractors do this all the time.
And so I think we need to put up a legal barrier that says, if you want to be a contractor for the federal government, you're not going to be involved in electoral politics. I think that would be the first step to improve the process.
The second is we need to have real oversight. You know, this is a Congress, particularly this year, that's done literally nothing. In 2010, John Boehner said, you know, put us in control of the House, and the Republicans will be focused on jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs. I'm sorry. We're almost at the end of 2013. There's never been a jobs bill. There has been cutting off unemployment for people. There have been virtually no hearings on things like contractors.
But the salaries of federal workers have been frozen for several years. They're about to get a small raise, except now we're going to increase the share of federal workers' compensation that goes to their pensions, which is in effect a cut in their cash wages.
And the reason all this is going on? Because it's in the interests of members of Congress to have a contractor system that feeds their campaign funds.
Alright. David Cay Johnson, Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter. Thank you so much for joining us.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
Youth Works is toted as a program to help Baltimore City youth find employment. What it does is subsidize the costs of labor for a corporations needing the workers anyway. Rather than having taxpayer money used to hire youth in public employment benefiting the city, it sends that money to augment wages for corporations. Do youth get permanent jobs for this? STATS SHOW THAT VERY FEW YOUTH END UP WITH PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT.
THIS PROGRAM IS CORPORATE WELFARE! WHY ARE YOU VOTING THE SAME INCUMBENTS DOING THIS BACK INTO OFFICE!
So, corporations in Baltimore are paying very little taxes and getting tons of subsidy.
YouthWorks Summer Jobs program to open
The Mayor's Office of Employment Development announced the date for pre-registration for the 2014 YouthWorks Summer Jobs program. Starting January 2, 2014, Baltimore City residents between the ages of 14 and 21 can begin pre-registering online for the program using the URL: http://youthworks.oedworks.com.
YouthWorks is also recruiting organizations to serve as work sites, and local employers to hire youth directly through the YouthWorks "Hire One Youth" campaign.
YouthWorks matches thousands of city youth to six-week summer jobs with private sector, nonprofit and city and state government employers throughout the city. The 2014 program begins June 23 and ends August 1. Pre-registration for the program will go from January 2 until March 14. Everyone who pre-registers must attend an in-person certification appointment to be eligible to be placed in a YouthWorks job; certification appointments will be held January 21 through March 29.
YouthWorks partners with a variety of organizations throughout Baltimore City that serve as work sites. Eligible work sites are not responsible for paying YouthWorks participants who work at their locations, but they must provide close supervision and mentoring, and ensure that workers are fully engaged throughout the program. Youth are scheduled to work five hours each day (excluding lunch), five days a week, for a total of 25 hours per week for six weeks.
An organization can apply to become a 2014 YouthWorks work site through Friday, February 7 at http://youthworks.oedworks.com. All work site eligibility requirements are outlined on the site.
The Hire One Youth initiative, which encourages businesses to hire a youth from the YouthWorks program, is beginning its third year. Information and sign-up can be found at http://baltimorecity.gov/hireoneyouth.
Information courtesy of the Mayor's Office of Employment Development.
Did you know that Baltimore has a minimum wage of over $9 an hour for over a decade for many government projects? You may not as that progressive wage and labor law is circumvented all the time by the Mayor's Finance Department and the Board of Estimates. These groups deliberately find loopholes for all of Baltimore's progressive laws and this one toted by Jack Young is not exception. This law for hiring local has loopholes in the writing of the law that a MAC TRUCK can ride through and you can bet that the Board of Estimates in Baltimore will use these loopholes most of the time.
IF YOUR POL IS SERIOUS ABOUT HELPING THE CITIZENS OF BALTIMORE WITH WAGES AND JOBS THEN THEY WOULD BE ENFORCING EXISTING LABOR LAWS AND WRITING NEW LAWS THAT ARE WELL-DEFINED WITH NO LOOPHOLES!
Council President's Local Hire Ordinance goes into effect
The landmark Local Hiring ordinance that Council President Young sponsored went into effect December 23. The ordiance is one tool that will help lower Baltimore's stubbornly high unemployment rate, while helping qualified Baltimoreans find work.
This ordinance requires 51 percent of all new jobs created as a result of a city contract above $300,000, or a project that includes a subsidy of $5 million or more, to be filled by residents of Baltimore City. Waivers can be issued, on a case-by-case basis, under certain special conditions.
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers concerning the ordinance.
- Do local hiring initiatives actually create jobs?
- Will a local hiring law stand up to a legal or constitutional challenge?
- Are Baltimore residents ready to work? Why doesn't the bill talk about training and apprenticeship programs?
- Won't local hiring cost companies money because they will have to go through extra steps to hire new employees?
- How much will this program cost to run? How will this program be regulated?
I haven't heard Mizeur on these environmental issues: I'M GOING TO BE TOUGHER ON MIZEUR BECAUSE SHE IS THE MOST PROGRESSIVE OF NEO-LIBERALS!
Did you know that building major downtown development right at harbor's edge is one of the worst things you can do for the bay? How about trying to create a deep harbor for global shipping dragging all kinds of invasive species into the bay? That Harbor Point development in Baltimore is a real case of lipstick on a pig. Do you know that exporting natural gas only makes fracking go on steroids while citizens get soaked in rate increases? Do you know the Maryland Assembly has failed to fund baseline studies of our one remaining Marcellus aquifer to prove no fracking contaminants are there so the public can sue for damages when they do leech into the aquifer? Such data and threat of lawsuits would deter careless fracking.
Do you know a huge incinerator is being built in Baltimore right next to a big school and that there are a number of similar cases all around Maryland? Do you know that making the wind farms off Maryland public rather than a partnership would be the progressive thing to do and would allow for public interest expansion of this green project? Do you know that acidity is so high in ocean water that it is eating the shells off of oysters in the Pacific and will do the same on the East coast so why are we working so hard on oysters.....especially since the invasive species from global shipping will no doubt kill native shellfish?
Do you know there is so much fraud in LEEDS and greening granting that 1/2 of funding for green projects is lost to fraud? Do you know that when BGE was sold to Exelon the coal powered plants remained open and were simply given to someone else to run? Do you know Smart Meters is more about rationing energy and water to maximize profit than to reduce energy/water consumption? Public utilities are far better at being conservative and efficient than national corporations working for profit!
Did you know that the arsenic that was banned in chicken feed was already going out of production and that the new replacement is not banned?
WOW.......WHAT EXACTLY IS MARYLAND DOING THAT IS GREEN? Well, it designated larger estates as tax free so more land could be bought by the richest as a tax haven. Look to see what percentage are actually working farms! Maryland pols support GMO and Monsanto and that is a great, big environmental disaster....where are Maryland's bees? What's up with the rain tax? Who thinks corporate Maryland is actually going to enforce this tax on the massive retail parking lots needing it most? It will be enforced selectively probably to uproot more of the middle/working class with taxes. Well, there is the banning plastic bags and non-degradable cigarette filters.
We want to be clear......Clinton and his neo-liberal team did not ramp up Freddie and Fannie to make homeownership easy for citizens.......it was part of the plan to redistribute the nation's wealth to the top and the desire to clear the urban centers of the poor and working class by loading them with these subprime mortgage loans everyone knew would blow up on families. IT WAS A DELIBERATE MOVE TOWARDS WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION TO THE TOP!
Bill Clinton is giving the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight. The idea is to make people feel nostalgic for the last time when the economy was really booming, and hope that some of that rubs off on Obama.
However, in the New York Post, Charlie Gasparino uses the occasion to remind everyone that the seeds of our current economic malaise were planted during the Clinton years.
Basically, it was under Clinton that Fannie and Freddie really began blowing the housing bubble, issuing epic amounts of mortgage-backed debt.
The story that Gasparino tells is basically: Liberal Bill Clinton thought he could use government to make everyone a homeowner and so naturally this ended in disaster.
Gasparino specifically cites the controversial Community Reinvestment Act, a popular conservative bogeyman:
How did they do this? Through rigorous enforcement of housing mandates such as the Community Reinvestment Act, and by prodding mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make loans to people with lower credit scores (and to buy loans that had been made by banks and, later, “innovators” like Countrywide).
The Housing Department was Fannie and Freddie’s top regulator — and under Cuomo the mortgage giants were forced to start ramping up programs to issue more subprime loans to the riskiest of borrowers.
That's interesting. But the truth is far more complicated. And more interesting.
Clinton's Budget Legacy
In addition to being remembered for a strong economy, Bill Clinton is remembered as the last President to preside over balanced budgets.
Given the salience of the national debt issue in American politics today, the surpluses are a major mark of pride for the former President (and arguably the entire country). They shouldn't be.
"I think it is safe to say that we are still suffering the harmful effects of the Clinton budget surpluses," says Stephanie Kelton, an economics professor at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
To understand why, you first need to understand that the components of GDP looks like this:
In the above equation, C is private consumption (spending). I is investment spending. G is government spending. And 'X-M' is exports-minus imports (essentially the trade surpus).
Here's a chart of the government budget around the years during and right after Clinton, in case you need a reminder that the government was in surplus near the end of his tenure.
Business Insider, Bloomberg
If the government is in surplus, it means that the government is taking in more cash than it's spending, which is the opposite of stimulus.
It's also well known that the US trade deficit exploded during the late 90s, which means that 'X-M' was also a huge drag on GDP during his years.
Business Insider, Bloomberg
So the trade deficit was subtracting from GDP, and the government was sucking up more money from the private sector than it was pushing out.
There was only one "sector" of the economy left to compensate: Private consumption. And private consumption compensated for the drags from government and trade in two ways.
First, the household savings rate collapsed during the Clinton years.
Business Insider, Bloomberg
And even more ominously, household debt began to surge.
Business Insider, Bloomberg
So already you can see how the crisis started to germinate under Clinton.
As his trade and budget policies became a drag on the economy, households spent and went into debt like never before.
Economist Stephanie Kelton expounded further in an email to Business Insider:
"Now, you might ask, "What's the matter with a negative private sector balance?". We had that during the Clinton boom, and we had low inflation, decent growth and very low unemployment. The Goldilocks economy, as it was known. The great moderation. Again, few economists saw what was happening with any degree of clarity. My colleagues at the Levy Institute were not fooled. Wynne Godley wrote brilliant stuff during this period. While the CBO was predicting surpluses "as far as the eye can see" (15+ years in their forecasts), Wynne said it would never happen. He knew it couldn't because the government could only run surpluses for 15+ years if the domestic private sector ran deficits for 15+ years. The CBO had it all wrong, and they had it wrong because they did not understand the implications of their forecast for the rest of the economy. The private sector cannot survive in negative territory. It cannot go on, year after year, spending more than its income. It is not like the US government. It cannot support rising indebtedness in perpetuity. It is not a currency issuer. Eventually, something will give. And when it does, the private sector will retrench, the economy will contract, and the government's budget will move back into deficit."
But this is only part of the story. What about what Charlie Gasparino wrote about above?
The Fannie and Freddie Boom
When the government is running a surplus, it no longer has to issue much debt. But risk-free government bonds are a crucial component of portfolios for all kinds of financial institutions, and for mom & pop investors who like the safety of regularly Treasury payouts. The yield on the 10-year bond was over 5% back in those days... nothing to sneeze at for people planning for a retirement.
This created a bit of a crisis.
Bond trader Kevin Ferry, a veteran of the scene, told Business Insider about the panic that was unfolding over the government's lack of debt.
"OMG, they were all saying... there wasn't going to be any paper!"
How did the markets react?
"Lo and behold... [Fannie and Freddie] issuance "SURGED" in the late 90s," said Ferry.
Everything changed. While the government dramatically slowed down issuance of Treasuries, Fannie and Freddie picked up the baton and started selling debt like never before.
"Prior to those years there were not regular [Fannie and Freddie] auctions."
"The system wanted it."
"The fear was that there wasn't going to be any.... There was no bill auctions."
"The brokers were calling up ma & pa and said there's no more T-Bill auctions!"
And the data bears this out.
Total agency issuance of mortgage backed securities spiked in 1998 and 1999, and from then on they never looked back.
Business Insider, Bloomberg
And just to drive home the point again, about how the 1998-1999 spike in issuance was the mirror image of the the annual change in the size of the government debt.
Note that both government debt and agency issuance spiked in the early 2000s, but that was during a recession, when the private sector dramatically scaled back its activity form the late 90s.
How Clinton Destroyed The Economy
The bottom line is that the signature achievement of the Clinton years (the surplus) turns out to have been a deep negative. For this drag on GDP was being counterbalanced by low household savings, high household debt, and the real revving up of the Fannie and Freddie debt boom that had a major hand in fueling the boom that ultimately led to the downfall of the economy.
And that brings up a broader question that people who advocate balanced budgets must answer.
What's the point of it?
Despite the budget surplus, interest rates were higher. And the surplus provided no protection of the coming slump. And if anything, it just weakened the most brittle part of the economy: households.
Furthermore, there is a pattern of this.
Japan ran a budget surplus in the year right before its economy went into terminal decline, as this chart from Trading Economics shows
So while Clinton will be remembered nostalgically tonight, for both the performance of the economy and his government finances, they shouldn't be remembered fondly.
As we hear Maryland and national media say this was a compromise deal, the article below shows that once again, it is the average citizen receiving the revenue increases and spending cuts.....nothing at all of corporate and wealth accountability!!!
"Makes Absolutely No Sense": David Cay Johnston on Budget Deal That Helps Billionaires, Not the Poor
download: Video Audio Get CD/DVD More Formats Related Stories U.S. Economy Guests David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize while at The New York Times. He is currently a columnist for Tax Analysts and Al Jazeera, as well as a contributing editor at Newsweek. He is author of several books, including The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind.
Related "Poverty Wages in the Land of Plenty" Dec 05, 2013 | Columns & Articles Thom Hartmann on "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It" Nov 12, 2013 | Story READ: Thom Hartmann, "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It" Nov 11, 2013 | Web Exclusive Links David Cay Johnston’s Website DONATE → This is viewer supported news Printer-friendly A bipartisan budget deal to avert another government shutdown comes before the Senate this week. The vast majority of House members from both parties approved the two-year budget agreement last week in a 332-to-94 vote. It is being hailed as a breakthrough compromise for Democrats and Republicans. The bill eases across-the-board spending cuts, replacing them with new airline fees and cuts to federal pensions. In a concession by Democrats, it does not extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people, which are set to expire this month. To discuss the deal, we are joined by David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize while at The New York Times. He is currently a columnist for Tax Analysts and Al Jazeera, as well as a contributing editor at Newsweek.
Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: A bipartisan budget deal to avert another government shutdown comes before the Senate this week. The House approved the two-year budget agreement last week in a 332-to-94 vote. The bill eases across-the-board spending cuts, replacing them with new airline fees and cuts to federal pensions. In a concession by Democrats, it does not extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people, which is set to expire this month. Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray called the deal a win for both sides.
REP. PAUL RYAN: I think this agreement is a clear improvement on the status quo. This agreement makes sure that we don’t have a government shutdown scenario in January. It makes sure that we don’t have another government shutdown scenario in October. It makes sure that we don’t lurch from crisis to crisis.
SEN. PATTY MURRAY: Our deal puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back sequestration’s harmful cuts to education and medical research and infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray.
The budget deal is being hailed as a breakthrough compromise for Democrats and Republicans, but not everyone supports it. Democratic Congressmember Mark Pocan of Wisconsin said in a statement, quote, "At the end of the day, the bill abandons 1.3 million Americans who desperately need unemployment insurance, and does nothing to promote economic growth or job creation. Furthermore, the legislation is paid for on the backs of the middle class and military families, while not touching the wealthiest amongst us and allowing corporations to continue to benefit from tax loopholes," he said.
Please note that Third Way = neo-liberals and MSNBC is mostly neo-liberal. We are glad to have this Wall Street connection made. Most neo-liberals do not call themselves neo-liberals, they call themselves progressive---like Clinton and Obama
I knew if I said neo-liberal enough media would have to write about it!
Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 07:17 PM PST
Rachel Maddow picks up DailyKOS Third Way story by Egberto WilliesFollow
Rachel Maddow picked up a story that has been prominent on DailyKOS for several weeks. She used the charts developed at DailyKOS to describe Third Way. Third Way is a Wall Street funded think tank that is purported to be Democratic.
Here is the list of pertinent blog posts to review.
- Corporate 'Dems': cutting Social Security is path to electoral victory
- Chuck Schumer wants us to stop picking on Wall Street
- Huh, so it IS a coordinated Wall Street Democrat campaign
- How I failed Beltway 101 taught by Ron Fournier
- Daily Kos will not enable those who enable Third Way
OpEdNews Op Eds 12/12/2013 at 07:00:03
Two Parties, One Game: Barack Obama's War on the Poor
By Pascal Robert (about the author)
Reprinted from blackagendareport.com
(image by blackagendareport.com)
In the constant con game of American two party politics, the suffering masses are forced to swallow images of the Republicans as reactionary racists and Democrats as the sound defenders of the working class and people of color. The reality is that both parties are completely beholden to the forces of oppression that have ground the working class and people of color to dust for ages in this Country. This tired political charade lets Democrats cast themselves as the safe haven for Black and brown people by doing nothing more than pointing at "those evil Republicans" who want to deport you or send you back to the plantation in shackles.
The truth is that today's American political establishment on both sides is designed to protect the interests of big corporations, the monied elite, and Wall Street. Democrats, not Republicans passed Bill Clinton's crime bill, stepping up black mass incarceration to levels even higher than Reagan and Bush before him. Bill Clinton and Democrats repaid the black votes they received by leading the charge to augment drug sentences, disproportionately affecting people of color. Bill Clinton's Democrats joined Republicans to kick the teeth out of Glass Steagall leading directly to the subprime mortgage crisis that devastated the black family wealth. Democrat Bill Clinton gave us the imaginary wealth of the tech bubble which burst just as he left office. And of course Democrat Bill Clinton gave us "the end of welfare as we know it," gutting Aid to Families with Dependant Children, and pushing hundreds of thousands of poor mothers and others into the lowest and least secure parts of the workforce, generally without child or elder care, sick pay, or medical coverage.
Barack Obama has continued the Democrats' tradition of making war on the poor while his cheerleaders scream that it's those "racist Republicans" that are causing all the damage to those communities disproportionately filled with people of color.
KKhara Sikhan at the World Socialist Website sums it up nicely:
Up to 185,000 families will lose housing assistance by December 2014 as a result of the "Sequester budget cuts," which slashed the subsidies by $1.7 billion, according to a report issued earlier this month by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
More than 2.1 million low-income households use the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) to offset the cost of paying for private housing. The program pays a section of rent directly to landlords, and the renters pay the difference. Only one in four households eligible for assistance received vouchers, and wait times for assistance can be months or even years.
The cuts to housing assistance are part of the overall assault on social programs that benefit working people and the poor. This month, benefit payments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program were slashed by $5 billion for more than 45 million recipients. The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs, is scheduled to expire in December.
The sequester budget cuts, which totaled $85 billion in 2013 alone, represent a savage attack on the social conditions of the working class, including $9.9 billion in cuts to Medicare, $840 million in cuts to special education programs, and $400 million in cuts to Head Start, in addition to the nearly $2 billion slashed from housing aid.
Far from seeking to end these cuts, both the Democrats and Republicans are using them as the baseline for even further attacks on social programs, including drastic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Contrary to what the disinformers at MSNBC will tell you, the sequester was President Obama's proposal, accompanied by the threat of presidential veto in order to lock Democrats, his own party, into social security and medicare cuts. From this link:
We now have stunning confirmation that Obama is using the sequester "battle" as blackmail to get his Grand Bargain (Grand Betrayal) passed -- and that "entitlement" benefit cuts are, and always were, part of the plan. It could not be more clear.
Barack Obama wants to cut entitlements, and he's using the sequester to do it. This, and no other reason, is why the sequester is happening.
The person who made the statement quoted in my headline -- that cutting entitlements is "in the DNA" of the sequester -- is Gene Sperling, a "top economic aide" to Barack Obama.
Barack Obama confirmed his intention to cut Social Security and Medicare as far back as 2007.
Neo-liberal women just hate women and children it seems. Take Hillary. She and Bill ended the New Deal protections for labor with all the NAFTA and breaking of the Glass Steagall wall to create global corporations----knowing they would kill the middle-class and end War on Poverty programs. While Hillary and Bill created the off-shoring and outsourcing economy they ended Welfare.....driving women and children into the deepest poverty in US history.
Then, as the neo-liberal policies unleashed wealth inequity in America and turned Asian peasants into sweatshop slaves, she went further as Secretary of State in working with Obama to make the US military into an almost completely mercenary private military contractor war machine known around the world for being lawless and inhumane. Hillary is the drone policy that is killing innocent women and children around the world. Do you know Hillary owns stock in the XL Pipeline and is all for exporting raw resources from the US killing the environment for the future-----that is if MONSANTO, a corporation both Clinton's are cheerleaders for as they forced this menace on nations not wanting it with trade deals. Oh yeah......women and children must run from Hillary and Bill and yes, neo-liberal Gillibrand is indeed a carbon copy!!!!!
The woman/black as politician no longer works for labor and justice voters-----we know a neo-liberal when we see one!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Elizabeth Warren Attacks Beltway Powerhouse Third Way as Fronting for Wall Street
Wow, the gloves are finally coming off. Elizabeth Warren has been making good use of her Senate bully pulpit in terms of keeping the excessive power of the big banks and the haplessness of regulators in the headlines. But as readers know, we’ve had our doubts as to how much in the way of tangible outcomes she could achieve from the Senate. For instance, she’s dutifully sent pointed follow up questions as part of Congressional hearings to various regulators. The replies have been at best evasive, in the faux polite form of bureaucratic obfuscation and misdirection to (from the Fed) borderline dismissive.
More important in her use of her Senate microphone is Warren’s ongoing campaign to move the Overton window to the left on basic economic issues for what remains of the US middle class. It’s vital to note that positions that are regularly depicted in the media as “liberal” or “progressive,” such as strengthening Social Security and Medicare (even if it means raising taxes) and cutting defense spending in fact poll with significant majorities, so they are in fact both popular and centrist for those outside the elites.
But because, as political scientist has documented, American politics are driven not by voters but by powerful monied interests. And perversely, those groups on the whole seem to believe that bleeding ordinary Americans dry is a winning strategy for them. Short term, of course, it sure looks that way, but we look to be at the end of an economic paradigm, so how long they can keep that sort of thing up remains to be seen.
Two operatives from the Washington think tank Third Way put Warren in their crosshairs for daring to suggest that Social Security be strengthened and the rich be taxed more in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday.
It’s critical to understand that Third Way presents itself as “centrist” which is code for “oligarchy promoters pretending to be reasonable” and has consistently advocated gutting Social Security and Medicare. As Dave Dayen wrote in 2010:
I know the world-weary journalist pose is to huff that the catfood commission will go nowhere, that the recommendations released today are politically impossible, and that it’s not worth getting worked up about. Indeed, any proposal that both Grover Norquist and Paul Krugman can take time beating about the face and mouth doesn’t appear to have a constituency.
But there is a constituency for this, and it begins and ends with Third Way, who wastes no time in telling the world that they can only be real manly men if they support cutting Social Security and health care for the poor, the elderly and veterans….The only proposals that are “serious” in Washington, according to Jonathan Cowan of Third Way, are the ones that hurt people who have no voice in the political process. In the name of “sacrifice.”
Daily Beast had a gag-reflex-inducing piece of puffery on the Third Way in 2011, describing it as the “Democrat’s new power base” and describing its influence over White House thinking. For instance:
Another area where its influence has borne fruit is the White House’s relationship with the business community. Throughout 2010, Third Way counseled Dems that anti-business populism was bad for the economy and the middle class, and a political loser. Since the midterm elections, Obama has been making moves to thaw that relationship, including a speech to the Chamber of Commerce this week.
Now the interesting bit that all of this paean to putting a “pragmatic” face on making the Democratic party into a retread of the Republicans is that it flies in the face of demographic trends. Young voters poll left on economic issues and the role of the government. Hence Warren poses a particularly interesting threat, in that she embodies the sort of alliance between older voters and the young on issues like consumer debt, social safety nets, and economic justice that is particularly threatening to the top wealthy and their minions. Is it any wonder that divisive generational messaging has gotten louder in the last two months?
With this as background, the Wall Street Journal attack by the Third Way’s Jon Cowen and Jim Kessler on Warren was frontal:
The article contained the usual canards about pending Social Security “insolvency” and played the predictable age cohort warfare card. In fact, merely raising the cap on payroll taxes would be a sufficient fix; Dean Baker points out that the cost of Social Security will increase from 5% of GDP to 6%, which if the US focused on job and wage growth, is entirely manageable. But more striking than its predictable cherrypicking of information was its histrionic tone: “disastrous” “fantasy” “even more reckless” “collision course”.
The funny bit is that the progress of budget talks flies in the face of these screechy claims about political and economic viability. In sharp contrast with the high drama failed budget talks of 2011 and earlier this year, the negotiators are focusing on the most narrow deal possible to avert either another shutdown or more severe sequester cuts kicking in. The Republicans are finally hoist on the spending cut petard. Enough of them are in districts with military bases where deeper cuts (which the next round of the sequester would impose) would be toxic politically. So they are willing to make concessions. And from what I am told, neither side is willing to table the politically contentious issue of Social Security cuts in the form of chained CPI.
Warren did not take this insult lying down. She issued a letter to Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, John Stumpf, Brian Moynihan, Michael Corbat and James Gorman asking them to voluntarily disclose their contributions to think tanks. Her message was clear: this isn’t technically lobbying but we all know how this game is really played.
This of course tees up an easy follow up: she can pursue the CEOs in future hearings if they don’t cooperate, and threaten legislation aimed at the banks. Given the banks’ welfare queen status, legislation aimed at them would get favorable media coverage and would also dent the perceived legitimacy of think tanks.
Politico credits Team Warren with having landed a blow:
A chorus of groups aligned with the liberal wing of the party – from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to Howard Dean’s Democracy for America and Russ Feingold’s Progressives United – responded by attacking Third Way as a Wall Street-funded front group.
A liberal candidate running in a crowded Democratic primary, John Hanger, then joined these groups Wednesday morning in calling on Rep. Allyson Schwartz, the early Democratic frontrunner in the race to take on Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett next year, to resign as an honorary co-chair of Third Way.
A few hours later, Schwartz condemned the piece for the Journal but declined to end her affiliation with the group.
“She read the op-ed and thought it was outrageous and strongly disagreed, and she told Third Way that,” said spokesman Mark Bergman. “She has constantly fought to preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security.”
Schwartz’s outrage is awfully disingenuous, given Third Way’s longstanding agenda of cutting down Social Security and Medicare. But the fact that someone who has a prominent role with Third Way has criticized a prominent article and distanced herself from one of its core positions is a sign the tectonic plates in the Beltway are moving. Heretofore, it was not just safe to attack “entitlements,” it was orthodox. That finally appears to be changing, and not a moment too soon.
Gansler as the hero of labor and justice-can you stomach that?! This is LOL.
Gansler has spent 8 years as MD AG ignoring massive corporate fraud in the billions against MD citizens and especially against the working class and poor and that includes 1/2 of Medicare/Medicaid spending in MD each year. He is the reason people in MD cannot access health care yet he pretends to work for access to health care for the poor. He told the working class/poor who were victims of massive subprime loan fraud to jump in the lake as he gave the victims little and most back to the banks and developers committing the crimes. Wage theft, immigrant/low-wage worker exploitation, subcontracting used to break labor law, corporate tax breaks fraud ignored. Did you know that s corporations require shareholders to pay the taxes on profits and yet, government watchdogs say most shareholders never do in MD? Billions of dollars lost. Do you know that MD/Balt public pensions were pushed into the stock market from the then safety of the bond market in 2007 just to buoy the market with pensions losing 1/2 value? That was public malfeasance and no money was recovered for the pensions. THIS IS ALL DOUG GANSLER-AG. WHAT FRAUD says Gansler! You are Aiding and Abetting say citizens!
All of this has taken money from labor/working class/poor with no justice and now, Gansler is running as their friend.
We want people to know that any pol using the raising minimum wage issue is only doing it because they plan to lower corporate taxes. So, raising wages to $10.10 tied to inflation in 4 years means that it will be 2033 before wages hit $15-----the Living Wage right now! So, neo-liberals like Brown, Gansler, and Mizeur are only pretending to raise wages when in fact they are lowering them over time to third world levels. They really, really do not like labor and justice!
We are still waiting for labor and justice to run candidates in primaries against neo-liberals in MD. All democrats in MD are neo-liberals. REpublicans must know from Erhlich and Bush....the polices these corporate democrats are doing would be done with repubs too. Both are working for wealth and profit. REpub voters need to come over to democratic party and help labor and justice take the party from neo-liberals.
A suspended Rule of Law is starving government coffers and stagnating the economy......public money sucked from the economy by massive corporate fraud with no recovery. Reveresing this and bringing fraud back is the answer to stimulating the economy and job growth. Don't let the same pols creating the problems and suspending Rule of Law run for higher office!
Gansler pickets Safeway on behalf of union Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
Erin Cox The Baltimore Sun 5:15 p.m. EST, November 26, 2013
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler joined union workers picketing a Bowie Safeway Tuesday to pressure the grocery giant to concede on the health benefits that are tying up contract negotiations.
"This all about awareness," Gansler, who is running for governor, said during a break in convincing shoppers to sign a petition.
Gansler accused Safeway and Giant, which negotiate with the same union, of trying to use provisions of the new federal health law "to take away" health coverage.
"Companies are using the Affordable Care Act to undermine health care," Gansler said.
The United Food and Commerical Workers Local 400, which represents unionized grocery workers Maryland's D.C. suburbs, Washington and northern Virginia, has objected to how Safeway and Giant have dealt with escalating health care costs and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on employers.
Union officials said the grocers want to increase how much employees pay for health benefits. Long-time employees contribute nothing to the cost of their premiums, and newer employees pay between $5 and $15 per week for coverage, a union leader said.
As the company neogiates over health care costs, the union has staged flash mobs and other picketing demonstrations, primarily in Prince George's County. According to the union, a contract that expired at the end of October has been extended a second time to a new Dec. 20 negotiating deadline.
Boaz Young-El, a political representative with UFCW Local 400, said the union reached out to Gansler in hopes the political pressure would gain them leverage.
"Like it or not, sometimes we need the help of the political arena to help garner a good contract," Young-El said.
After Gansler and his running mate Del. Jolene Ivey stood in 35-degree weather to urge shoppers to sign a petition, Gansler hand-delivered them to the store's manager, Rich Lewis, and told him "We want to make sure you're negotiating in good faith."
Late Tuesday afternoon, Safeway released a statement that said the company will not comment on labor negotiations, but said generally that "the bargaining teams are dealing with very complex issues, and Safeway is committed to attempting to address the concerns of the unions while also finding ways for the company to mitigate the cost advantage of non-union retailers, who in recent years have entered the region and taken market share from traditional grocers like Safeway."
I TOLD THESE TWO BALTIMORE CANDIDATES WE EXPECT THE FOLLOWING:
Did you know that Johns Hopkins and Baltimore Development is ending all civil rights and civil liberties won from the civil rights era ----ending MLK's work. In Baltimore school privatization with charters and choice using schools as development tools. Financial resources are scarce unless a corporation privately funds a school. That corporation is not paying taxes but donating a tax write-off to support selected schools.
Do you know that Smart Meters have a goal of rationing electricity and water/waste according to what people can pay as market-based, former public commodities are pushed into speculative markets ----subsidies will end the people will only get what they can pay for.
Do you know that Baltimore Development Corp and Johns Hopkins is privatizing all public health and social services and controlling all public policy with these private non-profits as well as jobs. Making everyone a volunteer, a VISTA, or jail workers seems to be the employment scenario in Baltimore. Wage theft is rampant as immigrants are hired and have no voice when wages are stolen. This is now extending to domestic workers forced to put up with the same treatment just to get a job. Employment agencies categorizing workers as independent contractors and making them pay the taxes and insurance they should---all illegal happening all over the city. Johns Hopkins leads in this behavior.
WE WANT TO HEAR ALL THIS FROM YOU IF YOU ARE TO WORK FOR YOUR CONSTITUENTS!
By The Authority Of Friends of Sean A. Stinnett; Gerald A. Stinnett, Jr., Treasurer
Twitter: Stinnett_41stFavorite QuotationsMuch can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets credit. - John Wooden
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. - Henry Fonda
- Coppin State University '06
- B. S. Degree, Sports Management, Journalism, Business Administration
Marvin "Doc" Cheatham announced he's running for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. He said he plans to focus on job creation and stability.
"We need to get our community back to work, and I'm really hoping I can spend some time doing that. I'm very concerned also about the unemployment rate. We need to basically increase our minimum wage, but also we need a living wage," Cheatham said.
The longtime civil rights activist said he wants to represent the 40th Legislative District as a Democrat.
- Former Retired at National Labor Relations Board
- August 1971 to 2012
- Lives in Baltimore, Maryland
- From Baltimore, Maryland
Council president wants answers on Baltimore police plan
olice Commissioner Anthony W. Batts responded to Sunday's homicide in the 1300 block of N Longwood St. (Photo by Justin George / Baltimore Sun / November 17, 2013)
By Justin Fenton, Justin George and Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 5:00 a.m. EST, November 18, 2013
Kennard Buckner, 22, was walking out of an alley just feet from his home in Southwestern Baltimore on Sunday morning when he was killed by a gunman in a hail of bullets, police said.
An officer two blocks away from the shooting in the 1300 block of Longwood Street arrived at the scene within a minute, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said, but paramedics couldn't save the man.
It was the city's fourth homicide of the weekend and its 29th murder victim in the past 30 days.
As Baltimore's homicide rate continues to rise — 210 people have been killed this year, compared to 194 at this time last year — City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young wants to know why a consultant's strategic plan for the Baltimore Police Department has yet to materialize.
Seven months ago, the city awarded a $285,000 contract to a Massachusetts-based consulting firm to come up with a plan to revamp the Police Department, with a mandate to complete the project within 90 days.
"The Police Department has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on pricey consultants who were paid to discover inefficiencies with staff deployments and suggest improvements to help reduce crime and cut costs," Young said in a statement. "To date, we're still waiting on answers and crime continues to spike."
Young is calling on Batts to testify before the City Council and address what Young calls a "staffing shortage" that he says has been exacerbated by "inefficient deployments" and a "high number of officers suspended with pay."
The rising homicide number weighs heavily on the department, Batts said Sunday night. He emphasized he expects the report will be "a map over the next five years" that will take a "holistic approach." But he didn't put a timeline on when it will be made public.
"I feel the pressure every night when I go to bed," he said of the rising death toll. "I don't need a strategic plan to give me any additional pressure."
Batts said in September staffing woes were among the most pressing challenges for the department. "Our vacancy rate … is impacting us in a very dramatic way," he said, citing a 35 percent increase in attrition.
But the delay in the consultant report by Strategic Policy Partnership LLC, which was the highest of five bidders, has not been explained. Officials said in September they expected it by the end of the month, and said the same thing in October. Despite the delay, the firm has not received any additional funding, officials say.
Robert Maloney, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's deputy mayor in charge of public safety, said the consultant was working on a second draft of the document and the final version could be released as early as this week.
Critics of the consultant contract said Batts, who has 30 years of experience on the West Coast and a master's degree, was brought in to come up with a plan for the agency, but he countered that he is running the day-to-day aspects of the organization and needed an outside perspective.
Asked in September about not being able to present the plan within his first year on the job, Batts said, "Nothing moves fast in Baltimore."
"I came in October [of 2012]. We should've had something online in January," he said. "It took us four to five months to get it through the bureaucratic system, and they [the consultants] had other clients."
The company is chaired by Robert Wasserman, who was formerly a senior executive of several large American police departments, including Boston's and Houston's, and director of public safety for the Massachusetts Port Authority. Wasserman served as an adviser to William Bratton, the former police chief in Los Angeles and New York, who also worked on the Baltimore contract.
For her part, Rawlings-Blake said when the report is completed, it will be worth the wait.
"It's a comprehensive look at the Police Department with an eye toward a lot of the things we know will help us be more efficient," she said. "It's going to talk about the deployment of resources. It's going to talk about the way we use the 911 service. It's going to talk about using a common-sense approach — not necessarily one that's being driven by the way we've done crime before."
She said small tweaks have been made to the agency in the past, but there has been no comprehensive overhaul.
"How can we revamp it and make it work better for the citizens of Baltimore?" she said. "I'm looking forward to some good ideas moving forward. Not all of them will be easy to implement, but my goal is to make it a more efficient and effective police department. ... Through the strategic plan, it's going to help us control costs as well."
We need these justice advocates in both Balt and the county to stop pointing out the disparity and take it to court! It is illegal to pass laws limiting low-income housing especially when government funding is used. So, Balt City Hall cannot pass a law that does that in Enterprise Zones because the whole intent of funding these is the low-income housing and jobs. Failure to do this is illegal and passing a law that allows this is illegal.
We have a complete failure to uphold Constitutional law surrounding equal access and opportunity. We have a complete failure to uphold labor laws. This represents a suspension of Rule of Law. Now, when I hear republican voters shout an OK to this housing violation while crying foul on hiring immigrants and wage and workplace abuse I see two groups that need to be together in fighting for Rule of Law. A government is not Rule of Law if it picks and chooses which laws it enforces. That is what China and Russia do.
The reason people are afraid of low-income people is that they are being fleeced of any way to support themselves. They cannot get jobs, they are having social services/community assets gutted, and as a result are often forced to blackmarket and crime for support. This happens because of bad public policy and often not because of bad people.
What Balt City Council and this Balt. Co pol know is that billions are lost through corporate fraud and tax evasion. These billions could be used to create jobs. Rather, they are handing all the jobs to huge corporations that then use subcontracting to subcontractors to create the conditions that hurt both labor and justice.
We are telling labor and justice organizations that if you are not running for State/City Attorneys and taking these flagrant violations of law to court----you are not working for the people you claim to advocate.
Baltimore County Council poised to block low-income housing Resolution denouncing Rosedale project set for vote on Monday
Councilwoman Cathy Bevins has sponsored a resolution opposing the $13.7 million project in Rosedale by Homes for America, an Annapolis-based nonprofit that builds affordable housing. (Baltimore Sun / October 26, 2010)
By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun 5:00 a.m. EST, November 18, 2013
The Baltimore County Council is poised to block a low-income housing project planned in Rosedale by turning down state funding, citing fears the development would lead to increased crime and crowd the local elementary school.
The move comes a month after another developer dropped plans to build an affordable-housing project in White Marsh that also faced strong community opposition.
Housing advocates say resistance to such projects could exacerbate a worrisome shortage of homes for low-income residents in the county.
The Rev. Joseph Sanders, president of the nonprofit Baltimore County Communities for the Homeless, called the Rosedale proposal to build homes for residents who earn less than 60 percent of the county's median income "commendable" and efforts to block it "disturbing."
"We know that homelessness and hunger and poverty are not just a city issue, they're a county issue," Sanders said. "And it's growing in numbers on a daily basis because of the economy, because of our culture."
Councilwoman Cathy Bevins has sponsored a resolution opposing the $13.7 million project in Rosedale by Homes for America, an Annapolis-based nonprofit that builds affordable housing. The Middle River Democrat, whose district includes the proposed site, said the development would further concentrate poor people in one area.
A vote on Bevins' resolution is set for Monday.
Homes for America has proposed the 50-unit Homes at McCormick development at 5501 McCormick Ave. and is seeking more than $1 million in public financing from the state for the project. If the council approves the resolution, the state will not finance the development.
If passed, it would be the first time a county has used a resolution to block state financing for an affordable-housing project.
The state recently changed the way local governments weigh in on such projects, in hopes of easing the process. Before, local governments had to approve state financing for each project; now the financing goes through unless counties issue a resolution of disapproval.
At a council meeting last week, Bevins told colleagues that the neighborhood wasn't right for such a project, pointing out that residents there don't have access to public transportation. She also said residents are overwhelmingly against the idea.
"I'm not anti-poor people, because God knows I've been poor," Bevins said after the meeting. "It has to do with the location."
She also said the area is "already a very poor community."
The development, to be built on a grassy, 10-acre site in a neighborhood of single-family houses, would include 45 townhomes and five single-family homes. Residents would be able to purchase the homes after 15 years under a lease-to-purchase arrangement.
"We're attracting people who want to buy a home," Homes for America president Nancy Rase told the County Council.
At least five units would be reserved for Section 8 renters, who receive housing vouchers under a government program for the poor. Residents spend an average of seven years on Baltimore County's Section 8 waiting list to receive vouchers, according to the county housing office.
Last year, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's administration expressed support for the development. His chief of staff, Don Mohler, declined to comment on the resolution, noting it doesn't require the county executive's approval.
"As a matter of policy, County Executive Kamenetz is very supportive of creating additional workforce housing opportunities in Baltimore County," Mohler said in an email.
In a letter last year to Pax-Edwards LLC, which is Homes for America's partner on the project, Kamenetz said the county "strongly supports" the developers' application for state funding. He also said the county was willing to provide a financing package that included a $1 million loan.
The council is likely to adopt Bevins' resolution, Chairman Tom Quirk said, citing a long-standing tradition of deference on development matters to the council member whose district is involved.
Do you know that O'Malley/Brown oversaw the period that the Maryland Veteran's hospital in Baltimore was ranked bottom in the nation for service to vets? Do you know that homeless people are often vets and there is a War on the Poor in Baltimore under O'Malley/Brown. Do you know that O'Malley travelled overseas to market MD online 'colleges' almost everyone regards as inferior education to vets having strong education benefits that would have taken them to good 4 year universities instead. Vets are being targeted with this cheap online education that takes all their GI bill education benefits and advocates shouting loudly that this exploits our vets-----O'Malley/Brown are the face of this bad policy! Not that it would be any different with the other neo-liberal challengers.
O'Malley/Brown made health care reform about building private health systems that gave health institutions the right to write health policy that made sure profit at the expense of patient access ruled the day and vets will fall into that lack of access as consolidation of the health industry----the ACA goal -----will have global health systems preying on the poor, elderly, chronically ill, and vets.
If we want health care that holds everyone equal access and care----just as US citizens paid for in taxes---we want Universal Care in MD---and we need a labor and justice candidate running in the primaries!
Brown proposes tax break for veterans Military pension exemption is part of five-part plan
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun 12:09 p.m. EST, November 11, 2013
Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony G. Brown marked Veterans Day by releasing a five-part plan for former members of the armed forces, including a tax break and help with employment and housing.
Brown, the lieutenant governor, issued what he called his "Compact with Maryland Veterans" Monday with little fanfare on a day when he avoided scheduling campaign appearances and instead attended ceremonial functions in his official capacity.
As part of the plan Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, joined his fellow candidates in promising a tax cut – though on a relatively modest scale targeted at veterans.
Brown, an Army veteran of the Iraq war, proposed the elimination of taxes on military pensions up to $150,000 a year – a break he would phase in over eight years. His campaign estimated the cost as of July 2018 at $17.5 million annually.
The lieutenant governor's Democratic rivals -- Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur of Montgomery County -- have each called for broader tax cuts. Gansler has proposed a reduction in the corporate income tax, while Mizeur has recommended income tax cuts for about 90 percent of Maryland taxpayers – offset by increases for those earning more than $500,000.
The three announced Republican candidates – Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County and Charles County business executive Charles Lollar -- have also called for reductions in a variety of taxes and fees.
In addition to the tax preference, Brown proposed that the state step up its efforts to help veterans find jobs and to provide bridge loans to veterans whose disability claims are caught up in the Veterans Administration processing backlog.
The plan also calls for establishment of a Veterans Treatment Court – modeled after the state's drug courts – to help veterans who get in trouble with the law to receive treatment for addiction and mental health problems and to avoid jail. Brown would also expand the state's Rental Housing Works program and devote at least 20 percent of its funding to veterans.
The Brown campaign estimated the total cost of the tax exemption and new programs at $24.2 million as of what would be the end of his first term.
In releasing his plan, Brown also pointed to the initiatives adopted over the last seven years he has served as No. 2 behind Gov. Martin O'Malley. Among other things, he noted that the administration won passage of a bill intended to make it easier for veterans to use skills acquired in the military in civilian jobs.
WOW! All that talk on tax and not one hit on the gorilla in the room..MD has so much tax evasion and fraud for corporations and the wealthy that we could fund the budget for years by just recovering that tax fraud. Imagine if taxes from s-corportation shareholders was actually collected or if corporate tax breaks were actually audited? Billions would come back from auditing just that over a 10 year period. Health industry fraud is billions each year. Property tax exemption violations in the hundreds of millions. WOW, would that be tax reform or what?
Do you know that the greening tax breaks overseen by LEEDs loses 1/2 of these taxes to fraud and that LEEDs is known to be as duplicitous as SEC in allowing the fraud? Billions would come back from just holding that agency accountable! Do you know that private non-profits are being used to funnel corporate donations to those same corporations projects giving tax breaks for the donation that comes back to finance the development? There are hundreds of millions waiting to come back from that fraud.
I could go on forever, but we see that the tax reform MD needs will start with oversight and enforcement directed at corporations and the rich. From there, we need to view tax reform progressively since MD says it is progressive and that means multiple tax brackets at the top of income scale for both individuals and business.
Business and the governor's race Our view: All the candidates want to improve the business climate, but some would jeopardize the state's strengths in the process
11:37 a.m. EST, November 7, 2013
Though the three Democrats and three Republicans considered the top contenders to replace Gov. Martin O'Malley disagree about plenty, they are unanimous in their opinion about one thing: Maryland's business climate needs improving. Del. Heather Mizeur, the most liberal candidate in the race, got into the act this week with a plan to cut income taxes for the vast majority of Marylanders and to provide corporate tax credits for small businesses, among other proposals. Even Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has implicitly acknowledged that business has not had a sufficient voice in the administration of which he has been a part; he recently launched a statewide listening tour to hear from business owners and seek ways to make the state more business friendly. But what exactly the candidates have in mind when they pledge to improve the business climate varies widely.
On the Republican side, the contest between Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George and businessman Charles Lollar is largely over which taxes to cut, how much and how fast. Mr. George, who features a link on his website listing 74 taxes and fees Mr. O'Malley increased (he counts rather liberally), wants to cut the corporate income tax from 8.25 percent to 5.75 percent and cut the top personal income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5 percent. Mr. Lollar says he would reverse the O'Malley sales tax increase (dropping the rate back to 5 percent) and eliminate the estate tax. Both Messrs. George and Lollar would repeal the state-mandated stormwater fee (which they call the "rain tax") and reverse this year's gas tax increase. Mr. Craig has made a blanket pledge to "reduce or eliminate any tax or fee that is impeding job growth," which includes all the items mentioned above and then some. None of the Republicans specify how they would make up for the lost revenue or which specific programs they would cut to compensate.
All three Democrats acknowledge that Maryland's taxes need reform to improve our business competitiveness, but their zeal to cut taxes is certainly less fervent. Ms. Mizeur has provided the most detailed proposal on taxes so far and it is decidedly nuanced. She would raise marginal tax rates on income over $150,000 (or $225,000 for joint filers) to finance cuts for those who make less. And she would enact "combined reporting" — a corporate tax system designed to prevent multi-state companies from shifting income to states with lower or no corporate taxes — and use the proceeds to finance credits for small businesses. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler would cut the corporate income tax rate to 6 percent and would raise the threshold for inheritance taxes from $1 million to $5 million. He, like Mr. Craig, has promised tax breaks for pension income. Mr. Brown has said the least about taxes so far but has pledged to reform the tax code.
- The 'rain tax' debate
- Who's tattling on Gansler?
- Why are underage kids drinking at high school graduation parties? Tradition, mostly
- The Sun went overboard with Gansler stories
- The Gansler strategy
- See more stories »
It's worth noting that taxes went up during the O'Malley administration largely for two reasons. The first round, in 2007, was designed to pay for the massive commitment to K-12 education the state made by adopting the so-called Thornton school funding plan in 2002. Subsequent increases allowed the state to maintain that commitment, and to all but eliminate college tuition increases, even as the nation endured its worst recession in decades. Despite those efforts, the state's projected revenues still fall short of projected expenditures by about $400 million next year. The second major reason the state raised taxes was the Maryland's backlog of transportation needs. That led to this year's gas tax hike, which was a long-held priority of the business community. If the economy continues to improve, some tax cutting may be feasible during the next governor's term, but reversing the O'Malley legacy on taxes also means reversing his legacy on education and undoing perhaps his only accomplishment that was roundly cheered by business groups.
That's not to say that the Democrats have all the right answers. Though some of her proposals on taxes and encouraging the high-tech economy are intriguing, for example, Ms. Mizeur's pledges to more than double the minimum wage by 2022, mandate paid sick leave for all workers and allow local jurisdictions to levy a 1-cent surcharge on the sales tax to fund school construction could prove too big a shock to the economy. Moreover, raising income taxes on high earners should be approached with caution because it would also ensnare many small businesses that file under the personal rather than corporate income tax system. Mr. Gansler's ideas so far have been focused on reviving the manufacturing sector — certainly a worthy and necessary goal but one that is insufficient in an age when services dominate the economy. Mr. Brown's attention to the issue of business competitiveness is welcome, and he has set an appropriately balanced tone, but he hasn't offered many specific proposals yet.
Despite the doomsday talk from some candidates about Maryland hemorrhaging jobs across its borders, the state is in better shape than most when it comes to recovering from the recession. But the sequester and government shutdown underscored just how big a threat the instability in the federal government is to Maryland. As the candidates flesh out their ideas in the coming months, voters need to look for someone who can address what is holding back the state's economy without jeopardizing what gives it strength.
Please look at these national political debates to look locally at Baltimore and Maryland politics------it is the same!
That is no longer true. The U.S. is still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction: moderate Republicans, now called New Democrats (as the U.S. Congressional coalition styles itself).
Noam Chomsky | De-Americanizing the World Tuesday, 05 November 2013 09:54 By Noam Chomsky, Truthout | Op-Ed
Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Valerie Everett
During the latest episode of the Washington farce that has astonished a bemused world, a Chinese commentator wrote that if the United States cannot be a responsible member of the world system, perhaps the world should become "de-Americanized" — and separate itself from the rogue state that is the reigning military power but is losing credibility in other domains.
The Washington debacle's immediate source was the sharp shift to the right among the political class. In the past, the U.S. has sometimes been described sardonically — but not inaccurately — as a one-party state: the business party, with two factions called Democrats and Republicans.
That is no longer true. The U.S. is still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction: moderate Republicans, now called New Democrats (as the U.S. Congressional coalition styles itself).
There is still a Republican organization, but it long ago abandoned any pretense of being a normal parliamentary party. Conservative commentator Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute describes today's Republicans as "a radical insurgency — ideologically extreme, scornful of facts and compromise, dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition": a serious danger to the society.
The party is in lock-step service to the very rich and the corporate sector. Since votes cannot be obtained on that platform, the party has been compelled to mobilize sectors of the society that are extremist by world standards. Crazy is the new norm among Tea Party members and a host of others beyond the mainstream.
The Republican establishment and its business sponsors had expected to use them as a battering ram in the neoliberal assault against the population — to privatize, to deregulate and to limit government, while retaining those parts that serve wealth and power, like the military.
The Republican establishment has had some success, but now finds that it can no longer control its base, much to its dismay. The impact on American society thus becomes even more severe. A case in point: the virulent reaction against the Affordable Care Act and the near-shutdown of the government.
The Chinese commentator's observation is not entirely novel. In 1999, political analyst Samuel P. Huntington warned that for much of the world, the U.S. is "becoming the rogue superpower," seen as "the single greatest external threat to their societies."
A few months into the Bush term, Robert Jervis, president of the American Political Science Association, warned that "In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States." Both Huntington and Jervis warned that such a course is unwise. The consequences for the U.S. could be harmful.
In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, the leading establishment journal, David Kaye reviews one aspect of Washington's departure from the world: rejection of multilateral treaties "as if it were sport."
He explains that some treaties are rejected outright, as when the U.S. Senate "voted against the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999."
Others are dismissed by inaction, including "such subjects as labor, economic and cultural rights, endangered species, pollution, armed conflict, peacekeeping, nuclear weapons, the law of the sea, and discrimination against women."
Rejection of international obligations "has grown so entrenched," Kaye writes, "that foreign governments no longer expect Washington's ratification or its full participation in the institutions treaties create. The world is moving on; laws get made elsewhere, with limited (if any) American involvement."
While not new, the practice has indeed become more entrenched in recent years, along with quiet acceptance at home of the doctrine that the U.S. has every right to act as a rogue state.
To take a typical example, a few weeks ago U.S. special operations forces snatched a suspect, Abu Anas al-Libi, from the streets of the Libyan capital Tripoli, bringing him to a naval vessel for interrogation without counsel or rights. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed the press that the actions are legal because they comply with American law, eliciting no particular comment.
Principles are valid only if they are universal. Reactions would be a bit different, needless to say, if Cuban special forces kidnapped the prominent terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, bringing him to Cuba for interrogation and trial in accordance with Cuban law.
Such actions are restricted to rogue states. More accurately, to the one rogue state that is powerful enough to act with impunity: in recent years, to carry out aggression at will, to terrorize large regions of the world with drone attacks, and much else.
And to defy the world in other ways, for example by persisting in its embargo against Cuba despite the long-term opposition of the entire world, apart from Israel, which voted with its protector when the United Nations again condemned the embargo (188-2) in October.
Whatever the world may think, U.S. actions are legitimate because we say so. The principle was enunciated by the eminent statesman Dean Acheson in 1962, when he instructed the American Society of International Law that no legal issue arises when the United States responds to a challenge to its "power, position, and prestige."
Cuba committed that crime when it beat back a U.S. invasion and then had the audacity to survive an assault designed to bring "the terrors of the earth" to Cuba, in the words of Kennedy adviser and historian Arthur Schlesinger.
When the U.S. gained independence, it sought to join the international community of the day. That is why the Declaration of Independence opens by expressing concern for the "decent respect to the opinions of mankind."
A crucial element was evolution from a disorderly confederacy to a unified "treaty-worthy nation," in diplomatic historian Eliga H. Gould's phrase, that observed the conventions of the European order. By achieving this status, the new nation also gained the right to act as it wished internally.
It could thus proceed to rid itself of the indigenous population and to expand slavery, an institution so "odious" that it could not be tolerated in England, as the distinguished jurist William Murray, Earl of Mansfield, ruled in 1772. Evolving English law was a factor impelling the slave-owning society to escape its reach.
Becoming a treaty-worthy nation thus conferred multiple advantages: foreign recognition, and the freedom to act at home without interference. Hegemonic power offers the opportunity to become a rogue state, freely defying international law and norms, while facing increased resistance abroad and contributing to its own decline through self-inflicted wounds.
Baltimore, MD is Chicago and captured by neo-liberals. We have it worse because our city media and community organizations are captured as well so activism is limited!!! COME TO BALTIMORE AND HELP BUILD LABOR AND JUSTICE!!!!
The Rise of Chicago's 99% Against Rahm Emanuel, "Mayor 1%"
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 09:41 By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview
Author Kari Lydersen in Chicago. (Photo:Haymarket Books)
Will Rahm Emanuel's effort to establish a privatized neoliberal outpost in Chicago succeed? Not if the ongoing uprising brushfires turn from kindling wood into a contemporary Chicago fire of political resistance. Kari Lydersen, author of "Mayor 1%," tells Truthout Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is representative of the neoliberal wing of the Democratic party, and he's getting significant pushback in his efforts to expand privatization and limit protests.
You can read about the largely untold story of Saul Alinksy tactics being resurrected against the man who earned his spurs as a political fundraiser for Mayor Richard M. Daley - and went onto high level positions in two Democratic administrations and Congress. Get the book, Mayor 1%, now with a minimum contribution to Truthout. Click here to read it now.
Truthout talked with journalist and author Kari Lydersen about her newly released exploration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's disconnect with the needs of the city he governs.
Mark Karlin: I think you state your position on where Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands in terms of the Occupy Movement standard when you titled the book "Mayor 1%." In that sense, does he represent the ascent of the neoliberal corporate wing of the Democratic Party?
Kari Lydersen: Yes I would say he represents the ascent of the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party . . . but the way that the nickname "Mayor 1%" is used in Chicago and the way I see it, it is also more than that. It's clear that Emanuel's political philosophy and his approach to solving Chicago's problems centers around shifting public resources to the private sector. This isn't necessarily all bad, though it is problematic, especially in terms of the impact on public sector jobs, public education and public services for the most needy. Even more disturbingly, I see "Mayor 1%" as referring to the feeling among many people - especially low-income African Americans - that the city is being reshaped in a way that doesn't include them; that the symbolic and literal structures that make up their neighborhoods and daily lives are being dismantled as the city's resources are being shifted to cater to the "1%" or at least a much smaller percent of the current populace.
MK: Didn't Emanuel pull in something like $18 million in a few months as a rainmaker for a Chicago finance firm after leaving the Clinton administration, before his successful run for Congress?
KL: Though he had no academic credentials or formal professional experience in the field, he made about $18 million in about two years, brokering a handful of high-profile deals. This could clearly be seen as a statement on both the nature of high finance and politics. Emanuel is undoubtedly smart and knows a thing or two about money, but ultimately he was being paid for his connections past and future.
MK: Your book appears quite fair to Emanuel in assuming the premise that he sincerely wants to improve the lot of working people and the poor, but he wants to do that through the corporate privatization model and to reduce deficits. How is he different in that respect from, let's say, Peter Peterson, for instance, or the Senate Republican leadership?
KL: I definitely strove to be fair to Emanuel, so I'm glad it came across that way. I wouldn't claim to know what he actually thinks and feels, but I actually definitely do not think his actions indicate any sincere concern for, or interest in, poor and working people. I am sure he does want to improve their lot in as much as he wants to be a successful and popular politician, but if he truly cared deeply about such Chicagoans, I think he would at least take a little time to listen to their concerns and show up at forums where they are pouring their hearts out - things like the hundreds of meetings about school closings, the hearings on the budget, the various town halls and events organized by various community groups. But he has been notably absent from nearly all such venues, declining to even step outside his office on various occasions when parents and grandparents and mental health activists who wanted to talk to him were camped out in the lobby of City Hall.
It probably makes sense to say his financial approach has much in common with Petersen's and Senate Republicans'. And an efficient and hard-nosed approach to Chicago's budget was definitely needed. But in cutting both public services, and more importantly, public sector jobs, from teachers to call center workers, he pulled the rug out from many Chicagoans when he should have known there was not an adequate safety net to catch them nor enough private sector opportunities or services to meet their needs.
MK: Emanuel cut his teeth and first came to political staffer prominence raising money for Mayor Richard M. Daley in the '80s. Daley changed Chicago from a union city into a corporate white-collar international center, most infamously privatizing the parking meters of Chicago through a deal brokered by his brother Bill Daley (when he was Midwest chair for JP Morgan Chase). Emanuel ended up paying the piper for that one when the parking meter owners sent the city a bill for "owed time" in the millions of dollars. Yet, Emanuel is continuing to privatize where he can. He almost sold Midway Airport, but had to recently cancel the effort when only one bidder remained in the running. He's also a big charter schools supporter, among other corporatization moves. How can he believe that he is supporting working people without backing a strong public sector workforce?
KL: Yes the Midway privatization deal fell through as did Emanuel's plans to privatize Chicago's port. These situations are interesting; to his credit Emanuel killed his own deals when they were obviously not working, rather than stick taxpayers with another disastrous situation like the parking meters. At the same time, the failures of these deals show that even in his element, Emanuel isn't all-powerful. In aggressively pushing for nonunion, privately run charter schools and demonizing the Chicago Teachers Union, Emanuel has aligned himself with far-right wing organizations and pundits - even working with Breitbart protégé Kyle Olson on a scurrilous so-called documentary called Tale of Two Missions, attacking the teachers union. Anyway it is really aggravating to hear his frequent announcements about all the private sector jobs he's created, while arguably many more public sector jobs are being destroyed. While the new private sector jobs he announces often may or may not actually materialize and may not even be filled by people who live in Chicago, the loss of public sector jobs has immediate and serious effects on regular hard-working Chicagoans.
MK: Now we get to the subtitle of your book: Rahm Emanuel and the rise of Chicago's 99%. Except for the teacher's strike, not many people nationally are aware that the Windy City has become a hotbed of resistance to the abandonment of the public commons. Let's start with how Emanuel was taken to school by the Chicago Teacher's Union and its savvy president. Can you discuss a little about that ongoing battle and how Emanuel may have won a few skirmishes, but lost that public relations battle?
KL: People on all sides of the education issue generally agree that Emanuel essentially "lost" the teachers strike of 2012, both in terms of public relations and the actual outcome. The teachers did not get everything they wanted, and Emanuel did achieve the longer school day, which had been one of his main goals all along. But the battle showed massive public support both for the teachers union and the very concept of public education, and Emanuel and his appointed Board of Education came out looking really bad - like petty bullies, changing their message erratically and ultimately conceding more than the teachers in the contract. Then-schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard became the fall guy for that debacle. The new CEO, Bobbie Byrd Bennett, at least started out with better relations with the union, but the recent closing of almost 50 public schools and the heavy-handed way the process was carried out over the past year became basically an extension of the battle with the teachers union and parents . . . and it continues. Not only were all those schools closed, infuriating and saddening many parents and students and meaning hundreds of layoffs . . . then the schools that "survived" the closings suffered massive budget cuts. Schools in relatively well-off north side neighborhoods were among those sustaining severe budget cuts, so Emanuel managed to alienate a whole contingent of white, upper-middle-class parents who might not have been as opposed to him last year.
MK: Then we have the uprising against mental health clinic closures and a strong anti-foreclosure resistance movement in Chicago, don't we?
KL: Yes, these were both powerful and inspiring grassroots movements that started under Mayor Richard M. Daley but became even more prominent since Emanuel took office. I see the Mental Health Movement as the perfect antithesis to Rahm Emanuel. While he is rich, powerful and privileged in so many ways, the members of the movement are vulnerable and disenfranchised on various economic and social levels - yet they have the energy and courage to stand up to the mayor in ways that are truly creative and thought-provoking, to essentially say "my needs are just as valid and important as those of your wealthy backers, and you better listen to me."
MK: What about the 2012 protests against the planned G8 and NATO meetings in Chicago, which Emanuel had hoped would celebrate Chicago's arrival as an international city? Protests got President Obama to cancel the G8 summit, but Emanuel was able to get a very anti-protesters' rights ordinance passed in the City Council. Was Emanuel surprised by the strength and depth of the opposition he faced in sponsoring these two global meetings?
KL: I think Emanuel was definitely caught off guard by the strength and extent of public support for the teachers. I don't know that he was necessarily surprised by the strength of the NATO/G8 protest movement, but I think he assumed he could steamroll it by passing ordinances and otherwise use policing powers to keep the protests tightly contained, while also scaring people away by hyping the threat of violence and implying strict law enforcement crackdowns. It's impossible to say if the protests were the reason Obama moved the G8, but the strength of the protest movement likely did play an important role, maybe including just the awkwardness factor since former Obama supporters were among the organizers. Emanuel was forced to revise the ordinances he had originally planned to pass, which showed he doesn't always get his away. And I think the most significant thing about the summit protests was that while they were about global issues of militarization and war, in reality they were as much or more about the Emanuel administration and the future of Chicago.
MK:Your book covers Emanuel's career and even upbringing. You place him at the center of many neoliberal compromises, including the Republican-fashioned "reform" of welfare under President Clinton. Do you think Emanuel is just being pragmatic, as he has claimed, or that he basically believes in such governmental actions contracting the social safety net?
KL: It is tricky to say how much he is motivated by pragmatism and how much by deep-seated beliefs about the role of government. During his time in the White House and Congress, you could make a strong argument that it was primarily pragmatism. But as mayor of Chicago, I think he's shown his true colors more because giving more credence and respect to the idea of a strong public sector and a safety net in Chicago - not to mention respecting the roles and rights of labor unions - would really probably be more pragmatic than the way he has done things.
MK: Returning to Chicago, is it too early to say that we are seeing enough spikes of popular resistance to declare that we are witnessing the revenge of Saul Alinsky? That being said, due to internal Chicago politics, Emanuel appears likely to be re-elected because of a divided black and Latino electorate.
KL: There's definitely a rising tide of strong and increasingly organized opposition to Emanuel in Chicago, plus widespread disapproval, disillusion and anger even from less engaged, unorganized people. It appears likely he'll be re-elected because of his money alone, not to mention the perpetual difficulty that Chicagoans seem to have in putting forward a strong opposition candidate. I don't know that the black and Latino electorate are necessarily going to be "divided," either within those communities or divided from each other. In the 2011 election, there was a black consensus candidate - Carol Moseley Braun - but she kind of self-destructed. The strongest Latino candidate, Gery Chico, wasn't seen as "really Latino" by many. The "Take Back Chicago" movement, which is gaining steam, is a great example of people of all races being united. So I think Chicagoans of various races could unite behind a strong opposition candidate with enough money and credentials to credibly challenge Emanuel - but right now it's not clear if any such candidate will emerge.
MK: When it comes to personality, Emanuel is known for his profanity-laden style of getting things done. Is there a basic personality problem with his style of leadership, which is "I know what's best for you so listen, do it, and shut up" vs. a political leader who might listen and learn from citizens?
KL: Yes there's definitely a personality problem, and you summed it up. The profanity in itself isn't a problem - Chicagoans are used to such talk - but he shows profound impatience and even contempt for regular people and very little desire to listen to, and learn from them. Actually his approach isn't even so much "listen, do it and shut up," as you said, but rather just "shut up," because in too many situations he avoids telling people what he is doing or planning at all and then acts defensive and angry when people have the gall to ask for information. That attitude is one of the things people are sick and tired of.
How does one have an article on this topic without mentioning that the wealth at the top is all gains from massive fraud and not real wealth? It is mindboggling that US journalism has degraded to such a point where citizens cannot get real information at all!
The American people are still waiting for tens of trillions of dollars in corporate fraud to come back to the Treasury and people's pockets. We need that to happen before we can know what the wealth inequity actually is. It's like saying that a bank robber who steals all the cash from a bank is now richer than the bank for goodness sake.
It is incredible to have lived through a first world democracy and now have to watch this crippled, criminal, and corrupt system that has us now.
Simply recovering this massive fraud will downsize these businesses. Remember, profits made on money stolen is itself lost with damages. Take tens of trillions in fraud and add some tens of trillions in damaged caused by fraud and these institutions are insolvent!
The American people know we are dealing with a Visigoth raiding of our Treasury and Trusts. We have an international investigative system identifying offshore accounts and tracking real estate investments as we move to bring it back.
One thing we need to drive home in the online/social media outlet for real journalism is that the proper identification of today's political system is as follows:
The Tea Party is the republican party with free market and small government
The Labor and Justice is the democratic party with big government and social capitalism. THIS IS THE CENTER POLITICS IN AMERICA THAT INVOLVES MOST CITIZENS.
What the media calls 'center' are the radicals----
The neo-cons and the neo-liberals are the global corporate rule having the shareholder class of 5% of the citizens with maybe another 10% want-to-be. So, what is being called a plutocracy is a very small group of people who stole tons of money. The people will get that back!!!!!
Plutocrats vs. Populists
By CHRYSTIA FREELAND Published: November 1, 2013
¶ TORONTO — HERE’S the puzzle of America today: the plutocrats have never been richer, and their economic power continues to grow, but the populists, the wilder the better, are taking over. The rise of the political extremes is most evident, of course, in the domination of the Republican Party by the Tea Party and in the astonishing ability of this small group to shut down the American government. But the centrists are losing out in more genteel political battles on the left, too — that is the story of Bill de Blasio’s dark-horse surge to the mayoralty in New York, and of the Democratic president’s inability to push through his choice to run the Federal Reserve, Lawrence H. Summers.
¶ All of these are triumphs of populists over plutocrats: Mr. de Blasio is winning because he is offering New Yorkers a chance to reject the plutocratic politics of Michael R. Bloomberg. The left wing of the Democratic Party opposed the appointment of Mr. Summers as part of a wider backlash against the so-called Rubin Democrats (as in Robert E. Rubin, who preceded Mr. Summers as Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration) and their sympathy for Wall Street. Even the Tea Party, which in its initial phase was to some extent the creation of plutocrats like Charles and David Koch, has slipped the leash of its very conservative backers and alienated more centrist corporate bosses and organizations.
¶ The limits of plutocratic politics, at both ends of the ideological spectrum, are being tested. That’s a surprise. Political scientists like Larry M. Bartels and Martin Gilens have documented the frightening degree to which, in America, more money means a more effective political voice: Democratic and Republican politicians are more likely to agree with the views of their wealthier constituents and to listen to them than they are to those lower down the income scale. Money also drives political engagement: Citizens United, which removed some restrictions on political spending, strengthened these trends.
¶ Why are the plutocrats, with their great wealth and a political system more likely to listen to them anyway, losing some control to the populists? The answer lies in the particular nature of plutocratic political power in the 21st century and its limitations in a wired mass democracy.
¶ Consider the methods with which plutocrats actually exercise power in America’s New Gilded Age. The Koch brothers, who have found a way to blend their business interests and personal ideological convictions with the sponsorship of a highly effective political network, are easy to latch on to partly because this self-dealing fits so perfectly with our imagined idea of a nefarious plutocracy and partly because they have had such an impact. But the Kochs are the exception rather than the rule, and even in their case the grass roots they nurtured now follow their script imperfectly.
¶ MOST plutocrats are translating their vast economic power into political influence in two principle ways. The first is political lobbying strictly focused on the defense or expansion of their economic interests. This is very specific work, with each company or, at most, narrowly defined industry group advocating its self-interest: the hedge fund industry protecting the carried-interest tax loophole from which it benefits, or agribusiness pushing for continued subsidies. Often, these are fights for lower taxes and less regulation, but they are motivated by the bottom line, not by strictly political ideals, and they benefit very specific business people and companies, not the business community as a whole.
¶ As Mark S. Mizruchi, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, documents in his recent book “The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite,” this is not the business lobby that shaped America so powerfully in the 1950s and 1960s. Business leaders of the postwar era were individually weaker but collectively more effective; C.E.O. salaries were relatively lower, but the voice of business in the national conversation was much more potent, perhaps in part because it was less exclusively self-interested. The postwar era, not coincidentally a period when income inequality declined, was the time when business executives could say that what was good for G.M. was good for America and really believe it. It didn’t hurt that they were sometimes willing to forgo short-term personal and corporate gain when they judged that the national interest required it.
No, Healthcare.gov doesn't falter under partisan divide..it falters because it was outsourced to private contractors who were chosen no doubt by their connections and had little experience and ability to handle the job. Think Hurricane Katrina and Bush's business buddy heading FEMA who knew nothing of disaster but lots about how to funnel all that FEMA money to connected people.
That's what happened here. The solution..stop outsourcing public sector work!
The constant reference to Massachusetts and RomneyCare fails to meet the present situation. Mass is a neo-liberal state...that means its democrats are more corporate and profit than the republicans. The ACA is indeed a republican market-based policy built to maximize profit...a republican dream as entitlements are due to be sent to these state health systems next.
So, why do we constantly hear republicans complain about a policy that does all that they have worked to do for decades? TO MAKE NEO-LIBERALS LOOK TO BE DEMOCRATS. They are doing a dog and pony show to hide the fact that democratic voters got soaked yet again by their elected officials. The problem we have with neo-libs and neo-cons both working for global corporate profit is that the republican base and democratic base are killed and mad. That is the dynamic and it should be changed by simply getting rid of the neo pols and get back to domestic politics!
Obama, and Obamacare, falter under divided government Too little power repeatedly hinders significant legislative accomplishment by a president
By Jules Witcover 6:00 a.m. EDT, November 1, 2013 Baltimore Sun
As President Obama struggles to defend his health-care insurance law amid a serious enrollment snarl, the reality of divided government challenges the view that such a split in authority and responsibility is a good thing.
The argument that too much power in the hands of one party is a danger to the functioning of a democracy seems an empty lament these days, when not enough power repeatedly hinders significant legislative accomplishment by a president.
President Obama alluded to that sentiment the other day in his speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall, where in 2006 then-Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed the health-care insurance state law on which Obama's plan was modeled, backed by a Democratic legislature.
Introducing the president, the state's current governor, Democrat Deval Patrick, cited the bipartisan cooperation in the Massachusetts legislature that was contrary to what Obama encountered in 2010. Congressional Republicans voted en masse against the president's plan and have continued to oppose it ever since. Gov. Patrick introduced members of the coalition "who came together to invent health care reform inMassachusetts and then, importantly, stuck together to refine it as we moved forward."
Throwing a life preserver to Obama in his present difficulties, Gov. Patrick noted that when the Bay State legislators "learned a hard lesson or hit a wall, (they) stuck together and with each other. ... Our launch seven years ago was not flawless, ... Our provider searches were not good, and the website was a constant work in progress over the first few years." Then Gov. Patrick added: "Any of this sound familiar, Mr. President?"
The governor voiced President Obama's own gripe about how the bipartisanship of the Massachusetts experience has faded at the federal level, noting that "the same folks who pretend to be outraged about the website not working didn't want the ACA (Affordable Care Act) to work in the first place."
That introduction enabled the president to note that Massachusetts also had growing pains in implementing its plan. For himself, President Obama said, there were "no excuses" for his own law's glitches and he took "full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP."
At the same time, Obama piggy-backed on Gov. Patrick's slap at the law's Republican foes, saying "there are others that are so locked into the politics of this thing that they won't lift a finger to help their own people. ... Because if they put as much energy into making this law work as they did in attacking the law, Americans would be better off."
President Obama attacked "bad-apple insurers" who previously offered inadequate coverage and were now forced to upgrade benefits. But that charge did not free him from having to backtrack on his own widely touted claim -- that if Americans liked the health care plan they already had, they would be able to keep it, and "no one will take it away, no matter what."
It turns out that many private insurers have notified their purchasers they will be losing their existing plan because it didn't meet the new federal law's requirements. President Obama accused them of "being grossly misleading" if they were "peddling the notion that insurers are cancelling people's plan without mentioning that almost all the insurers are encouraging people to join better plans" with the same or another carrier at the new public marketplaces, sometimes at cheaper prices.
That contention is not likely to assuage the hordes of previously insured Americans who took at face value President Obama's categorical assurance that no one would take away their plan "no matter what." Once again, a politician's campaign promise will have fallen flat to those ears.
That sort of loosely made political point can get even an orator as persuasive as Barack Obama in hot water. Hindered by divided government in which the opposition has enough power to stymie a president's most determined objectives, a president can ill afford to make pledges he can't literally keep.
As a result, President Obama must not only watch his tongue now in what he pledges. He must also work to persuade voters in the congressional elections next November to end the divided government by returning the House to Democratic control.
PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS ARE ONLY PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC ASSETS WITH CORPORATE WELFARE
I like the article below because it includes a Baltimore/MD favorite HighStar----a Johns Hopkins investment firm that is privatizing everything in the state with P3s.
'Little, however, is said about the downside. The Politico column, for instance, did not point out that the airport deal was opposed by the governor and deemed so one-sided that critics have called it a “giveaway.” (It also failed to mention that the authors’ employer, Highstar Capital, was a partner in that very deal.)'
Public-Private Partnerships Are Popular, But Are They Practical? Public-private partnerships have become a trendy way to finance transportation projects. But there are big questions to ask before entering into a P3.
by Ryan Holeywell | November 2013 Flickr/Bill Selak 7 10 0 3 0
This spring, the Washington newspaper Politico published a column touting steps the federal government could take to solve the funding crunch that’s led to underinvestment in infrastructure. Invoking imagery of Lincoln’s railroads, Eisenhower’s highways and Kennedy’s space program, the authors concluded that governments must allow the private sector to play a greater role in building public infrastructure, lest America fall behind the competition. To illustrate the concept, the authors highlighted a deal the Puerto Rican government made with a private consortium to operate San Juan’s airport for 40 years. “It’s time,” they wrote, “for government at all levels in the United States to partner with the private sector to bring our transportation infrastructure back to world-class levels.”
A similar boost for public-private deals came this summer when a Senate subcommittee held a hearing on “innovative financing.” Four of the five featured witnesses were there to press the feds to do more to facilitate public-private deals. Several of the witnesses discussed the daunting price tag for upgrading the country’s infrastructure to a decent condition—$3.6 trillion by 2020, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The message was clear: America’s infrastructure is struggling, but the private sector can help. “No one wants another bridge to collapse, as did the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge,” testified a Morgan Stanley official. That tragedy, which killed 13 people, underscores the need for expanded new, federally subsidized financing tools, he told Congress.
- The Rolls-Royce of Private Partnerships
- Why Isn't the U.S. Better at Public-Private Partnerships?
- Portland's Testing a Greener Kind of P3
Little, however, is said about the downside. The Politico column, for instance, did not point out that the airport deal was opposed by the governor and deemed so one-sided that critics have called it a “giveaway.” (It also failed to mention that the authors’ employer, Highstar Capital, was a partner in that very deal.)
Read the rest of this month's magazine issue.
There’s a growing cadre of academics, activists, and state and federal auditors who question these public-private deals, but their voices aren’t always heard. At that Senate hearing, for instance, none of those dissenting views was represented on the panel. Nor did the hearing highlight what the governments’ own accountants say about P3s—namely that they are unlikely to solve the country’s infrastructure funding gap and, in some cases, may carry risks for state and local governments. “Whenever I see advocacy [for P3s], I look for real economic analysis that justifies privatization,” Cate Long, a municipal finance blogger for Reuters, recently wrote. “It’s never there.”
Increasingly, it seems the discussion of P3s isn’t about whether it’s wise for governments to enter the deals; it’s about how governments can best facilitate them. Although former Congressman Jim Oberstar, who chaired the House Transportation Committee from 2007 to 2011, argued that P3 deals would trample the public’s interest, today criticism from most lawmakers “has almost disappeared,” says Robert Puentes, a P3 expert at the Brookings Institution. “It’s not even political anymore.”
To be sure, plenty of P3 projects are seen as successes. For example, Virginia’s High Occupancy Toll lanes, which opened last year just outside Washington, D.C., were financed, designed and built by private firms, which will now operate them and collect tolls from drivers. Working with private partners allowed the state to complete the project far more quickly than it could have on its own, say advocates. Similarly, the $1 billion Port of Miami tunnel project, set to open next year, has been viewed as a largely successful public-private deal.
Still, there’s a long list of P3s that turned out to be very bad for governments, cases in which public leaders failed to ask the right questions to ensure they were getting a good deal. These instances, in which governments ended up losing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, provide a cautionary tale for anyone considering a P3. Given that history, and given the current enthusiasm for public-private partnerships, there’s a basic question that states and localities ought to be asking: Are the deals accomplishing all they claim to?
When governments want to build a road, they typically use a process called design-bid-build: Engineers, working for the government or on a contract, design a project, and then construction firms bid for the right to build different pieces of it. Governments sell municipal bonds that allow them to borrow money cheaply to pay for the work. The system—at least theoretically—is intended to ensure that governments get the lowest price for building infrastructure.
With a P3, the design, financing, construction, operations and maintenance of a project can be rolled into one transaction. The deals are therefore incredibly complex. They are most common on major highway projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Bidders are typically consortiums made up of major construction and financial firms.
Advocates for P3s say they make sense for four reasons. First, the contractors are involved in the engineering stage of a project, which means they can design features that will promote savings over a project’s lifetime. Second, investors have their own money in the game, so they have a major incentive to come in on budget since every overrun eats into their profits. Third, because the deals include long-term maintenance components, they remove the temptation of governments to defer upkeep when times get tough. Fourth—and perhaps most important—governments can transfer risks to the private sector, such as the possibility that construction costs are higher or toll revenue is lower than expected.
The deals gained traction in Europe and Australia before they became prominent here, largely because their citizens are used to higher taxes in general and toll roads specifically. Moreover, the deals are easier to pursue in other parts of the world, where governments have more central authority. And finally, the U.S. is somewhat unique in that it allows municipalities to borrow money extremely cheaply on their own.
But the big firms involved in P3s abroad have been gaining a foothold in the United States. A few projects emerged here in the early 1990s. But the deals really got attention in the mid-2000s, when Indiana and Chicago took upfront payments in exchange for long-term concessions that gave private-sector firms the ability to collect tolls for decades. Today, those types of deals are less in vogue. It’s now considered by many to be fiscally imprudent to sacrifice stable, long-term revenue for a one-time payment used to fund short-term needs. Instead P3s are typically used to build new roads or lanes, generally through arrangements where private companies pay for construction and maintenance, and in exchange collect toll revenue.
A slew of factors have made the deals all the buzz among transportation wonks and public officials. Warnings about the deplorable shape of America’s roads and bridges have convinced the public of the need to build. But in the wake of the recession, state and local governments continue to struggle financially. Raising taxes is a nonstarter in many places, as is the notion of taking on additional debt through bonds. P3s have been portrayed in some cases as a solution to this dilemma, a source of “new money.” “Politicians are at the point where people are crying out for enhancements to infrastructure, but they don’t want to hear any proposals for new public revenues,” says Phineas Baxandall, a senior budget policy analyst at the nonprofit U.S. PIRG. “So anything that makes it sound like the money’s coming out of thin air is a win-win.”
The Council for Public-Private Partnerships, which acts as a clearinghouse for P3 advocacy and counts as its members such P3 players as CH2M Hill, Deloitte and United Water, phrases it this way: “By establishing public-private partnerships, government authorities have achieved goals that would otherwise go unmet because of budget limitations.” The language taps into a state or local official’s greatest concern—that they lack the wherewithal to build infrastructure. “It’s perceived as free money,” says Puentes of the Brookings Institution. “That perception has to be dealt with,” largely because, Puentes and others say, the capital often comes at a cost that can exceed the expense of typical municipal borrowing.
The most attractive aspect of a P3 for many lawmakers is that the borrowed money may not count as debt the same way a municipal bond does. The distinction is hard to grasp since the same citizens ultimately pay for the project, either through tax dollars or tolls. A recent report from New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that the deals can be viewed as a form of “backdoor borrowing” that helps lawmakers get around laws requiring voter approval for issuing certain types of debt. They can also act as an end-run around a jurisdiction’s debt limit, imposed by statute or simply by the political realities of their state.
“A lot of the time public officials say, ‘We don’t have any money, let’s do a P3,’” says Joshua Schank, head of the Eno Center for Transportation, a think tank. That’s a misperception, and one that is fueled by private-sector firms who want to pump up the concept, but also, Schank says, “by public officials who want to escape the reality that if they want better infrastructure, somebody’s got to pay for it, and that somebody’s got to be taxpayers.”
Yet a recent report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general said unambiguously that P3s are unlikely to reduce the infrastructure funding gap, since they don’t increase funding levels. The only way P3s could be seen as generating revenue for state and local governments, the report concluded, is through whatever savings they might achieve through lower construction costs. But even those aren’t certain.
“There are people who say P3s create money. That is largely not true, but it’s not entirely untrue,” says Geoffrey Yarema, a partner at the law firm Nossaman, who has served as an adviser on some of the country’s largest public-private partnerships. “They don’t produce funding, but they can reduce costs significantly.”
But reduced costs aren’t a certainty, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In a 2012 report, the CBO found that P3s have built highways “slightly less expensively and slightly more quickly” than the traditional approach, but the relative scarcity of data and uncertainty of existing studies on the topic “make it difficult to apply [those studies’] conclusions definitively to other such projects.”
William Reinhardt, editor of the Public Works Financing newsletter, generally believes in the promise of the deals, simply because the public sector has a poor record when it comes to on-time, on-budget construction of major projects. But even he says it’s hard to prove which method is best for a given project. “All my life I’ve been looking for the perfect example to compare one to another,” Reinhardt says, “and you can’t.”
The challenge lies in how governments analyze potential P3 deals. To do so, they estimate the cost of traditional procurement compared to a hypothetical P3 offer. But the analysis can include some factors that are subjective, and it may not consider factors that can’t be easily quantified. A recent California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) study of two P3 deals—one for the Presidio Parkway in San Francisco and one for a new courthouse in Long Beach—found that state officials were making assumptions that favored privatization. By the LAO’s own estimates, traditional procurement would have saved $300 million on the two deals.
Julie Roin, a University of Chicago law professor, also questions whether the “risk transfer” argument carries any weight. Ostensibly, for the private sector to turn a profit, a deal only makes sense if the government overestimates its risk and underestimates the project’s revenue potential. “It’s not as if any investor is going to accept risk without demanding compensation,” Roin says. “You’re just paying for the risk in a different way.”
Watchdogs note that in entering into the deals, governments actually may take on all kinds of new risk they didn’t face before—like the implications of entering into long-term deals that can constrain lawmakers’ policymaking options for decades. In a famous case, the California Department of Transportation used a P3 to build and operate express lanes that opened in the center of California State Route 91 in Orange County in 1995. When the government wanted to expand parts of the roadway to alleviate congestion, it was blocked by a “non-compete” clause in the 35-year contract. Following litigation, the government ultimately bought out the private partner. Just seven years after the express lanes opened, the county’s transportation authority paid $207.5 million for the $130 million project. That’s a worst-case scenario, of course. Those who study P3s say governments have learned their lesson about non-compete clauses. But “compensation” or “stabilization” clauses—in which governments owe the contractor money for taking actions that could reduce toll revenue—continue.
Chicago got $1.15 billion when it leased its parking meters for 75 years, but whenever it temporarily closes a street the city must compensate the private partner for the lost revenue. When Indiana faced flooding in 2008, tolls were waived to evacuate people quickly, but the state had to pay the Indiana Toll Road’s private concessionaire $447,000 for the lost revenue. Carpooling is generally viewed as a good thing—it reduces pollution and congestion—but Virginia could owe millions of dollars to a contractor if too many carpoolers use its tolled high-occupancy express lanes. “These reimbursements make governments the contractor’s insurer and guarantor,” says Ellen Dannin, a law professor at Penn State University. Moreover, provisions like those may give states a strong monetary incentive to avoid actions that would ordinarily be considered smart public policy. If governments face fines for doing what they think is best, there could be serious implications for the way they govern.
Indeed, governments are not typically known as incredibly nimble actors. But skeptics say these deals have the potential to make them even less able to adapt to changing needs. When governments are locked into long-term deals, it’s hard for them to adjust their priorities. “Sixty years from now, we may totally want to redesign cities,” says Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, an organization that questions privatization and is funded by foundations, unions and individuals who generally oppose privatization. “But we’re contractually tied with some entity ... to consider their interests first in many ways.”
The CBO notes that P3s “can end up costing the government more than it anticipates” if it has to renegotiate a deal due to disputes over control. The New York comptroller in a 2011 report said that the deals may even cause uncertainty about such basic questions as who’s responsible for snow and ice removal or accident repair. “Projects that seem worthwhile initially,” the report found, “may turn out to be less beneficial than thought.”
But Reinhardt of Public Works Financing doesn’t buy those claims. “None of these issues are hidden,” he says. “The advisers on the public side are exactly as smart as the advisers on the private side. Believe me: Nobody is getting away with nothing.” But others insist that even though governments employ consultants in the negotiations, the lawmakers themselves ultimately have to approve the deal. Legislators face a huge disadvantage since few of them have negotiated those type of deals in the course of their careers. And lawmakers focused on re-election may not be as concerned with the implications of a 50- or 75-year deal, since those implications may only be fully understood long after a lawmaker has left office.
Highway P3s are concentrated in certain regions and are relatively few in number. A 2012 Heritage Foundation paper says eight states accounted for 75 percent of the value of roadway P3s over the last 22 years. Since 2008, the P3 market has represented only about 2 percent of all highway investment. That said, P3s represent some of the biggest and most expensive projects out there. Critics and advocates alike say the trend will continue.
Where does that leave a state or local official? Schank of the Eno Center warns that the public and private sector have widely different goals that often aren’t aligned. The problem, he says, is that the private sector comes to the negotiating table with less to lose than the government, and it is also more willing to walk away. That needs to change, critics argue, and a healthy degree of skepticism is needed to ensure the best outcome for the public.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s approach to the potential privatization of Midway Airport is a case worth studying. Operating under the cloud of Chicago’s widely panned parking meter transaction, Emanuel took an approach that emphasized protections for taxpayers. He insisted on a shorter-term lease of 40 years. He helped develop a “Traveler’s Bill of Rights” designed to ensure reasonable parking and food prices at Midway. And he required the private partner to share profits with the city. After initially receiving interest from 16 firms, the city was left with one bidder and opted against privatization, citing lack of competition.
“It’s a tool that can be valuable but needs to be used very carefully and with a complete understanding,” says Bob Ward, New York’s deputy comptroller for budget and policy analysis. He notes that public-private partnerships aren’t the only way to do big projects. “We went to the moon without a P3.”
The number one issue in Fracking is that the Maryland Assembly and O'Malley has refused to fund a baseline research study to collect data on chemical composition of our Marcellus Aquifer so that when the aquifer is contaminated by these fracking chemicals being used in PA and WVA the citizens of MD can sue these fracking corporations for damages. THE MD ASSEMBLY IS WORKING TO PROTECT THE PROFITS OF THE FRACKING CORPORATIONS BY NOT ALLOWING THE PUBLIC TO HAVE DATA TO FIGHT IN COURT.
It is a stretch to call corporate MD blue. MD is as corporate a state as any in the nation and as such it is neo-liberal----deep purple. Deep purple means that laws are written and enforced in ways that only benefit corporate profit and wealth. I think citizens can see that clearly during O'Malley's raging Wall Street term. This is not too far from Harris's point of view as republicans work for the same thing. So what is the difference between Harris and O'Malley?
First we have to look at Harris through his predecessor Erhlich. Erhlich lost to O'Malley because he raised taxes and fees and O'Malley pretended he wouldn't when in actually he super-sized regressive taxation. The reason both parties are soaking the middle/lower class is that corporate taxes have disappeared and actually are now on the income side of the corporate accounting ledger. SOMEBODY HAS TO SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT WITH REVENUE AND THAT IS WHAT SOAKING THE PUBLIC BY BOTH PARTIES IS ABOUT. Maximizing corporate profit by eliminating all taxation.
Any pol in office working for wealth and profit will do the same....as would Harris if he was in a position to have to walk his talk. He knows what the problem is and I don't hear him saying ending massive corporate fraud and tax evasion as the answer to lowering taxes on the rest of us! It is the only solution and all MD pols are silent!
In blue Maryland, Andy Harris proudly stands on the right 1st District congressman voted against deal to re-open the government
Congressman Andy Harris speaks to constituents at Bel Air Town Hall. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / Patuxent Homestead / August 6, 2013)
By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun 5:33 p.m. EDT, October 20, 2013
WASHINGTON —— Just hours before the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan plan to reopen the government last week, Republicans emerged from a final meeting on the matter with grim faces and tight lips.
Except for Rep. Andy Harris.
While many of his colleagues — damaged politically by the budget impasse — were hesitant to share their positions, Maryland's only Republican in Congress knew he wouldn't be supporting the legislation his own party leadership was recommending.
And he wasn't afraid to say so.
"Yeah, I'm not voting for the bill," Harris, 56, said in the basement of the Capitol as fellow Republicans offered noncommittal responses to reporters. "It doesn't have any provision to reduce the debt and the deficit."
The budget battle that shuttered federal agencies for 16 days and brought the nation to the brink of defaulting on its debt obligations was, at its core, a fight between centrist Republicans and tea party conservatives. Even though he comes from one of the bluest states in the nation, the episode underscored that Harris is firmly at home with the conservatives.
The Johns Hopkins-trained physician represents a safe district for the GOP — made even more so by Democrats who redrew its boundaries in 2011.
"You cross over the Bay Bridge and, politically, it's a different world," said Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary's College. Harris' 1st Congressional District includes the Eastern Shore, as well as portions of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll and Cecil counties.
Political analysts say Harris' vote wasn't a surprise, pointing out he has long been to the right of Maryland's traditionally centrist Republican Party. From 1999 to 2011, when he served in the state Senate, he often opposed former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
But they also note that Harris represents a district that looks different from the rest of Maryland — particularly after Gov. Martin O'Malley and other Democrats in Annapolis redrew the state's congressional map. In an effort to elect a Democrat in Western Maryland's 6th Congressional District, those devising the electoral maps moved precincts dominated by GOP voters into Harris' territory.
Though President Barack Obama captured 62 percent of Maryland's vote in the 2012 election, he won only 38 percent in the newly redrawn 1st District.
Harris "is more conservative than some of his constituents, but he's also got constituents who are to his right," said Diana Waterman, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party and a resident of Harris' district.
The old district was represented for 18 years by centrist Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest. Harris beat Gilchrest in the 2008 GOP primary but lost in the general election to Democrat Frank Kratovil. Harris ran again and won by 12 percentage points in the Republican wave year of 2010.
Because primaries in both parties tend to attract more ideological voters, it is smart politics for Harris to protect his right flank, experts say. So far, no GOP candidate has mounted a serious threat to him.
"The 1st Congressional District, by design of the Democratic General Assembly and the governor, is a conservative part of Maryland," Harris said in an interview. "By gerrymandering, it's now a match for where, traditionally and historically, I have always been."
Harris, an obstetric anesthesiologist who lives in Cockeysville, had a low-key first term. After winning re-election with 63 percent of vote in 2012, he has filed a half-dozen bills this year and was appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
An analysis of his voting by CQ Roll Call shows he sided with his party 95 percent of the time in 2012, up 4 percentage points from the year before. He has an 83 percent score from the conservative Heritage Action for America, compared to the 68 percent average for all House Republicans.
Yet Harris has spoken favorably of House Speaker John Boehner, even as many conservatives openly criticized him before the latest budget battle. At a town hall meeting in Bel Air in August, several voters pressed Harris on his allegiance to the beleaguered House Speaker.
"He gives up on everything," a voter shouted at Harris. "He's a Democrat."
"Speaker Boehner has a very hard job. He's going up against the guy with the microphone," Harris responded, referring to Obama.
Boehner began looking for a way to end the government shutdown when polls indicated the public was blaming Republicans more than Democrats. The House Republican caucus, however, failed to agree on path forward. And so the agreement was crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
On the House floor, 87 Republicans — including Boehner and other leaders — voted for the deal. Including Harris, 144 Republicans opposed it. The bill passed the House 285-144 and Obama signed it into law Thursday.
Democrats quickly lambasted House conservatives for their role in the budget debacle. Obama repeatedly called the tea party wing "extremists."
"It's shameful that Andy Harris voted against ending a reckless and unnecessary shutdown that had significant effects on Maryland's families," Bob Fenity, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, said. "The congressman continues to put the tea party above the people he is supposed to represent."
But given the political landscape in his district, Eberly said, Harris' positions make sense — even if they sometimes leave the state's liberal establishment confounded.
Harris has only to study his own path to power to foresee the potential for his own undoing.
He beat Gilchrest in the 2008 primary because conservative voters felt the incumbent was out of touch with their values.
"Harris' greatest concern when it comes to his electoral health isn't a general election," Eberly said. "It's a primary."
Actually we the people are taking that Wall Street financial instrument to court to nullify what we know is a handing of Baltimore's public school buildings over to private hands in the guise of public good. Remember when subprime mortgage loans encouraged a second mortgage for your home with 30 years to pay it off even as everyone at the top of finance and government knew the economy was going to implode in a few years from massive fraud allowing families that took these loans to sink under debt with lost jobs? This is the same thing. This time O'Malley and MD Assembly working with Rawlings-Blake and City Hall are tying public assets to credit bond leveraged deals that will crash when next year the US economy crashes harder than in 2008. They are doing the same thing as these mortgage loans...loading the public with debt knowing there will be a crash to take it all away. Think of what MD pols have connected to credit bond debt these several years as the bond market is ready to implode. Schools, public developments, office buildings, and Enterprise Zones are all financed by these leveraged bond instruments and all will be lost to the public as an economic crash starves the state and city for money.
Do you want your public schools owned by corporations? The answer is to get Wall Street to pay trillions of dollars in fraud from the last crimes to finance school building!
Council president calls for transparency in rebuilding schools Young to introduce resolution Monday requesting annual updates on 10-year-plan
- Erica L. Green 8:40 a.m. EDT, October 21, 2013
Young plans to introduce a resolution Monday that requests the Maryland Stadium Authority and Interagency Committee on School Construction -- the primary overseers of the district's 10-year-plan to update and rebuild dozens of school facilities -- provide annual progress reports to the council’s Education and Youth Committee.
The first public hearing would be scheduled next spring.
“We are on the cusp of undertaking a transformative, once-in-a-lifetime revitalization of public schools in Baltimore,” Young said in a statement. “We need to do our part to keep the public engaged during the process and ensure that the resources are used in a careful and efficient manner."
Where the goals outlined in this statement by Jack Young do make good policy, it is Young who hands all that is public over to the rich in Baltimore for development that has no value to citizens and hurts the very children Young pretends to care for. He knows when he fights to give Exelon $100 million in tax breaks for nothing that money is lost on youth. Young knows when he brings a Police Chief from California known for brutality and lack of transparency that the children will be preyed upon and not inspired.
Young is the worst person for public office in the city. We need to shake him out of the rug as he works to move all public money from the people and into crony corporate and wealth pockets closing community resources and schools to do it. No one believes a pol that shouts to keep community centers open as he fights all public opinion to give one corporate tax break after another. No one believes a pol is working for the children when he allows the police department to brutalize and kill Balt citizens, taking these children's fathers rights as citizens away.
Young is the opposite of making our youth smarter and happier. Funding communities/ schools with resources, allowing communities the right to control education policy and schools in their neighborhood, and using REAL JOB CREATION and not continuous poverty jobs while dismantling good public jobs is the answer!
More police isn't the answer for Baltimore Rather than hiring officers to arrest people, we should invest in programs that prevent crime
By Bernard C. “Jack” Young 10:41 a.m. EDT, October 3, 2013 Baltimore Sun
The recent announcement that Baltimore received $1.25 million from the federal government to hire 10 police officers was met with praise in some corners of our city.
After months of violent outbursts this summer that claimed too many lives and left many others wounded, the idea of federal dollars to help pay for additional police might seem to some like a welcomed gift.
I find it difficult, however, to share in that opinion.
Friday's news was another reminder of the widespread misbelief that spending scarce dollars hiring additional police officers is somehow wiser than strategic investments in programs with a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and preventing juvenile delinquency. I believe that this money could be better used to hire additional recreation workers or after school employees who would engage our young people in positive activities that could help prepare them for college and the workforce.
Already, Baltimore ranks third in the nation among large cities in the number of sworn officers it employs per capita — more than Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, according to statistics compiled by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The city has nearly twice as many officers per capita as Miami, Denver and Houston.
These statistics should give us pause as we consider the benefit of spending more than $100,000 each for a mere 10 new police officers to patrol our streets. Is this a wise investment? Will this money help to drastically reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life for the average Baltimorean? Rather than commit additional resources to the police department, we should instead pursue strategies that are proven to help prevent crime.
One such example is Operation Safe Kids. Run by the Baltimore's Health Department in collaboration with several state agencies, the program offers a community-based approach to monitoring high-risk juvenile offenders and helping them avoid recidivism. Safe Kids assigns juveniles an advocate to help meet their specific needs. This kind of hands-on approach could certainly benefit from additional federal funding.
After school programs are also a great way to keep our children engaged in enriching activities that make it less likely they will commit petty crimes. Unfortunately, funding for these programs is woefully lacking. Ten additional police officers can't possibly have the same positive impact as investing $1.25 million in after-school programs.
Finally, breaking the cycle of recidivism goes hand-in-hand with reductions in crime. Despite a decade of progress, more than 40 percent of people released from prison will be re-arrested within three years, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
Fortunately, there are a number of programs aimed at reducing recidivism. The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court uses probation, drug testing and treatment to help rehabilitate offenders and provide them with the tools to avoid future offenses. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, participation in the drug court program resulted in a cost savings of nearly $3,000 per participant over a 10 year period.
These are investments worth making.
Our problem is not just a lack of police officers to arrest offenders but rather a lack of services tailored to preventing crime from happening in the first place. We need to invest in young people and support adults who have served their time as they rebuild their lives.
Regarding the MD window-dressing of environmental action:
A corporate state like MD has no intention of cutting corporate profit by enforcing environmental law, but it loves using environmental tax breaks to pad the pockets of the very people creating the pollution. This has been O'Malley's commitment these two terms.
Let's look at the Chesapeake Bay restoration having tens of billions of dollars sent its way. Now, I am an eco-warrior from the northwest so this is a passionate issue for me.....but, I know how gutting funding for projects hurts the very issue you support.
1) O'Malley allowed the transfer of MD coal-fire power plants in the deal with Exelon and Exelon just gave them away to a special interest friend who now continues to operate these plants. This is a major source of the acid and particulates that fill our air and enter the water. O'Malley would have closed those plants if he wasn't working for profit.
2) Fertilizer/poultry waste run-off is the major polluting factor to the bay. Afraid strict laws on these businesses would cause them to leave MD? WE WANT THEM TO LEAVE MD----WE DO NOT WANT INDUSTRIAL FOOD PROCESSING IN OUR STATE. The goal is to return to small poultry businesses that will contain waste that provide food for MD citizens and not the world for goodness sake. O'Malley made sure no legislation of value hit the poultry industry.
3) The Great Lakes are spending billions of dollars fighting the Asian Carp swimming up the Mississippi towards the Lakes....the Northwest is battling zebra mussels both invasive species that kill native species. Huge numbers of invasive species come via these massive, global cargo ships.....THAT O'MALLEY IS FEVERISHLY TRYING TO ATTRACT TO THE PORT OF BALTIMORE. LARGE NUMBERS OF GLOBAL CARGO SHIPS COMING IN AND OUT TO THE UPPERMOST CHESAPEAKE BAY! Now, that's a good environmental policy!
4) The acidity and warmth of the sea is already killing shellfish all over the world. In the Northwest, oyster farmers are seeing the oyster shells slowly dissolving, so the species is threatened. Will an estuary like the Ches Bay really stay neutral while the oceans become toxic? NO ONE BELIEVES THAT. OYSTERS WILL BECOME IMMMEDIATELY THREATENED IF THEY ARE BROUGHT BACK IN THE NEAR TERM. So why are we spending billions to rebuild the population of a species that has no chance in the medium term?
5) Arsenic in chicken feed seeping into water-shed? We'll ban the arsenic says O'Malley. Only, the law that passed only banned the kind of arsenic that had already been determined to be replaced by yet another kind. This law happened because the poultry industry was changing formulas in feed.
I could go on and on as regards policy by O'Malley and the MD Assembly that is just window-dressing moving public money somewhere under the guise of doing something useful. A corporate state will never be an environmental state because the costs to business are too much for corporate pols to take.
The solution is to vote corporate neo-liberals out of office by running labor and justice candidates in all primaries. If your labor and justice organization is not running candidates in all elections----THEY ARE NOT WORKING FOR YOU AND ME! Have you heard these issues debated in your communities and media in MD----they are openly debates all across the country. MD has a captured media and private non-profit that needs to end.
Below you see the Baltimore City pols that approve the governor's appointments to all kinds of government positions. Placing an energy executive on the MD Public Service Commission? Fill the MD Depart of Education with education privatizers? Appoint the heads of Depart of Health that are privatizing all public health and creating private health systems? THESE ARE THE PEOPLE. YOU CAN SEE THAT MOST OF THE POLS IN THE CHARLES VILLAGE DISTRICT OF JOHNS HOPKINS ARE THE ONES DOING ALL OF THESE NEO-LIBERAL APPOINTMENTS THAT GIVE PROFIT OVER PEOPLE! Look as well at FROSH-----looking to be State Attorney General!
This is why Maryland is so corporate and all of its laws and the higher court almost always protects profit over people! STOP ELECTING THESE NEO-LIBERALS! RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES IN ALL PRIMARIES!
Executive Nominations Committee (NOM)
Examines all nominations for appointments made by the Governor that require Senate
confirmation. The committee reports its recommendations to the Senate, which
subsequently votes to confirm or reject the nominees.
2 East, Miller Senate Building, Annapolis, MD 21401
(410-946-5200 Annapolis/Baltimore or 301-970-5200 Washington, D.C.)
Chair: Delores G. Kelley Vice Chair: James E. DeGrange, Sr. David R. Brinkley Edward J. Kasemeyer
Richard F. Colburn Allan H. Kittleman Joan Carter Conway Katherine Klausmeier George C. Edwards Nathaniel J. McFadden Jennie M. Forehand Thomas M. Middleton Brian E. Frosh Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. Rob Garagiola E. J. Pipkin Norman R. Stone, Jr.
Rules and Executive Nominations Committee (HRU)
Room 145, House Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401
(410-841-3927 Annapolis/Baltimore or 301-858-3927 Washington, D.C.)
Chair: Hattie N. Harrison Vice Chair: Rudolph C. Cane Elizabeth Bobo Wade Kach
Talmadge Branch James E. Malone, Jr. Norman H. Conway Maggie McIntosh Dereck E. Davis
LeRoy E. Myers, Jr. Kathleen M. Dumais Anthony J. O’Donnell Brian J. Feldman Shane E. Pendergrass Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio James E. Proctor, Jr. Peter A. Hammen Samuel I. Rosenberg Sheila E. Hixson David D. Rudolph Carolyn J. B. Howard Nancy R. Stocksdale Adrienne A. Jones Joseph F. Vallario, Jr.
Bill and Hillary created this mess.....with breaking the Glass Steagall wall and starting free trade they knowingly gave us massive wealth inequity, corporate rule, killed the middle-class and democracy and pushed the largest number of Americans into the deepest of poverty by ending Welfare at the same time they started to export jobs.
WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE? REALLY?
You are saying that Maryland corporate neo-liberal Van Hollen does not know about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that makes the debt ceiling law unconstitutional? It almost seems he wants to shut down government to reduce the deficit with more cuts to public workers and services....NEO-LIBERALS PROTECT WEALTH AND PROFIT AT THE EXPENSE OF LABOR AND JUSTICE!
Chris Van Hollen Sees 'No Clear End Point' To A Government Shutdown
Posted: 09/30/2013 11:43 am EDT | Updated: 09/30/2013 11:55 am EDT Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- A top House Democrat on Monday indicated that if the federal government shuts down Tuesday, it could be some time before disagreements between Republicans and Democrats are resolved and the government opens back up.
"The scary thing about the period we're in right now is there is no clear end point to a shutdown," said House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
"Once you go down this road, it's not clear how it comes to an end," Van Hollen told reporters. He added, "So let's not head down this road."
But the congressman appeared resigned to the fact that a shutdown appears all but imminent.
The last government shutdown, in 1995-1996, closed the federal government for a total of 28 days when Republicans in Congress could not agree with President Bill Clinton over spending levels.
Van Hollen called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to "step up and show some leadership" by allowing the House to vote on a "clean" bill funding the government, without any Republican amendments. Such a move would anger the tea party caucus of the House GOP, but Van Hollen said he could "confidently predict" that enough Democrats would support the measure to pass it.
Van Hollen was skeptical that Boehner would lose his speakership over such a move. "I'm not sure who the alternative in the House to Speaker Boehner should be," he said, a subtle dig at House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
He also called out House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for keeping a low profile during the current confrontation. Ryan became a national figure as the GOP's vice presidential candidate in 2012 and put his reputation on the line during the immigration fight, but he has been quiet as Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have argued that Democrats must defund or delay Obamacare in exchange for continued government funding.
A reporter asked Van Hollen where Ryan has been, to which he responded, "I don't know. You're going to have to send out the posse to, ah, look. I don't know."
Van Hollen then took a swipe at Ryan's yearlong plan to leverage the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling -- which the government is now set to hit in mid-October -- to achieve spending cuts.
"He's been a part of the group that behind the scenes was trying to put together a proposal to deal with the debt ceiling. I believe they called themselves the Jedi Council. We see it more as the Darth Vader group," Van Hollen said.
WHY ARE ALL MARYLAND NEO-LIBERALS SILENT ON THE 14TH AMENDMENT? THEY USE IT AS A CRISIS TOOL!
Reviewing the 14th Amendment debt ceiling argument
Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.
- “I think the 14th Amendment covers it,” said Pelosi, the House minority leader, on Wednesday. “The president and I have a disagreement in that regard, I guess. I guess … I would never have taken that off the table".
With the debt ceiling set to kick in on October 17, and with Democrats and Republicans seemingly far apart on a deal, folks are looking back at the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis for clues about how the current situation will unfold.
Back then, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was passed on August 2 to end the crisis, about two weeks before the United States would have defaulted on its debt. Standard & Poor’s took the unprecedented action of downgrading the nation’s debt anyway.
Another credit agency, Fitch Ratings, warned early this year it would downgrade the U.S. government’s debt if another debt-ceiling crisis happened, and payments were affected.
This time, a different set of issues is before Congress and the president, with deep budget cuts from the sequester and a delay of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) as bargaining chips.
And for now, there’s no indication the Obama administration will cite the 14th Amendment as a rationale to resume borrowing, without the permission of Congress.
The argument over the 14th Amendment goes like this: Section IV says that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”
Therefore, if you believe that the “public debt” can’t be questioned in any context, the debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional.
One of the more recent proponents of the 14th Amendment threat is former President Bill Clinton, who broached the idea in July 2011.
In an online interview with The National Memo, Clinton said Newt Gingrich’s Republican caucus first came up with the 14th Amendment idea during Clinton’s time as president, and Clinton’s team researched the constitutional implications.
Clinton said he would use the 14th Amendment “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.”
Last December, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the 14th Amendment was off the table as a negotiating ploy.
“This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling—period,” Carney said.
And back in 2011, President Obama reacted to President Clinton’s comments with a widely quoted response: “I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”
But could the White House reverse its course, and decide that it had the power to borrow despite the debt-ceiling law?
Again, three years ago, when the scenario was widely discussed, there were vastly different opinions.
Among those arguing against the 14th Amendment as a debt tool was Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, who told the New York Times that the Civil War-era amendment was just that.
“Nobody would argue that Section 4 is clear in its meaning, other than at the time everyone thought that the South, if they ever got back in control, would not pay Civil War debt,” he said.
Another prominent professor, Yale’s Jack Balkin, argued that President Barack Obama had the power, under the 14th Amendment, to make sure bills were paid that were incurred by the government.
“He will indeed issue new debt if worse comes to worse, but that is because he has no other choice. And he will need Congress to authorize what he does eventually,” Balkin said on his blog, Balkinization.
Balkin’s analysis was that a congressional stamp of approval was problematic for the president.
“If Congress does not approve it after the fact, then the president has acted illegally, and he may be impeached and removed from office,” he said.
For now, this might all be a moot point, since the Obama administration has given Congress two options on the debt ceiling: raise it or put the government in default on its debt.
But as we get closer to the October 17 debt deadline, it won’t be a great surprise if more talk about the 14th Amendment surfaces.
Baltimore's biggest problem with crime is the corporate fraud and government corruption that moves billions of dollars in public funds out of public coffers. This in turn starves community resources that allow for support and programs to keep at-risk citizens on the right course. So, we would want a City Attorney who sees the crime at the top of the income ladder as the problem and solution. Hiring white collar criminal investigators and prosecutors is the solution. The funding should all go to this effort.
Rebuilding white collar criminal agencies in MD and Baltimore pays for itself. Recover of those billions stolen would rebuild schools and city infrastructure with no taxpayer money needed. When you see more police being sent in you see policy that protects the criminals at the top....THE WHITE GUERRILLA FAMILY....at the expense of all citizens of Baltimore. This is really bad public policy!
Baltimore Police to hire 10 new officers under Justice grant $1.25 million for city agency part of larger state award
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun 5:33 p.m. EDT, September 27, 2013
The Baltimore Police Department has been awarded a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to hire 10 new officers.
The city already has about 3,000 sworn officers — more per capita than many other large cities in the country — but just experienced a violent summer, and has seen more murders so far this year than at the same time last year.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, who just concluded his first year on the job, recently said attrition in the department was a major problem, with many officers leaving the force.
Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman, said he did not yet know how the additional officers will be utilized, but that the department will be happy to have them.
"We're grateful for this opportunity to add new officers to the ranks as we continue our longstanding mission to ensure public safety and drive down violent crime in the city of Baltimore," Kowalczyk said.
The award, announced Friday, makes up the majority of the more than $1.7 million received by four police agencies in Maryland from the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which in total awarded $125 million in grants for 263 local police agencies to hire nearly 1,000 officers nationwide.
"These critical investments represent the Justice Department's latest effort to strengthen key law enforcement capabilities, and to provide communities with the resources they need to protect our young people," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.
Of the total nationwide funding, nearly $45 million will go to fund 356 school resource officers — a priority of this year's grant process — but none of the new officers in Maryland will be devoted to schools.
In addition to the funding in Baltimore, the Hagerstown Police Department in Western Maryland was awarded $250,000 to hire two new officers; and the the town of Bladensburg and the Seat Pleasant Police Department were awarded $125,000 and $87,344, respectively, to hire one new officer each.
The funding covers up to 75 percent of officers' salaries for three years, with the local agencies funding the remaining 25 percent.
Officials in Maryland were quick to praise the program's funding to the state in statements released following the announcement.
"Keeping our children safe from violent crime, drugs and gangs is of critical importance," said Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
"Safe neighborhoods and good law enforcement depend on having enough police officers where they are needed across our communities," said Sen. Ben Cardin.
"This federal funding is important to ensure our cops are on the beat to combat violence, protect families, and fight the crime that is destroying neighborhoods," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
Privatizing all that is public....privatizing public transportation, public education, privatizing public health and even placing public sector offices in buildings leased from private owners. I MEAN THIS GUY HATES PUBLIC ASSETS AND WANTS THEM ALL TO GO TO THE FEW AT THE TOP OF THE INCOME LADDER. What a 1% guy!
All of the candidates so far are neo-liberals...no democrats for labor and justice running yet. Corporate pols give corporate rule and we know how bad we all hate corporate rule so why do we re-elect Maryland neo-liberals every year? Because labor and justice do not challenge the corporate democratic political machines like Mikulski, O'Malley, and Rawlings-Blake.
Maryland is making itself a solid corporate state with corporations controlling all public policy. We see that in spades in Baltimore. So, if we are going to turn this around....if an incumbent runs and is endorsed by an incumbent....THEY ARE NEO-LIBERALS WHO NEED TO HAVE PRIMARIES WITH LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES!
Barbara Mikulski endorses Brown for governor
Brew Editors September 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown added another notch to his endorsement belt as Maryland’s senior officeholder took the unusual step of wading into primary politics to endorse Brown as governor.
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski rarely picks sides before a primary election, but did so this afternoon at a Brown rally in Silver Spring. She cited Brown’s track record of improving health care in Maryland, reducing domestic violence and spurring middle-class job creation in her endorsement.
“I see in Anthony the fantastic values I most admire – he’s honorable, he’s patriotic and he’s willing to tackle the tough issues,” Mikulski said.
For the past week, Brown has been telling supporters to expect a big surprise today, which was leaked to the media several days ago as Mikulski’s backing.
U.S. Senator Mikulski anoints Anthony Brown (waving) as governor today. Congressman Elijah Cummings stands nearby. (Brown Ulman 2014 Facebook)
The timing of today’s event was clearly intended to take some of the wind out of Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler’s announcement on Tuesday of his gubernatorial ambitions.
The location of Mikulski’s announcement was also aimed at needling Gansler, a former Montgomery County prosecutor who considers Silver Spring part of his home base.
Brown, the handpicked choice of outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley, has already picked up the endorsements of key Baltimore Democrats led by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
When a state has massive corporate and wealth tax evasion and corporate fraud it is the State/City Attorneys and the State/City Comptrollers that are suffering from the 3 monkey syndrome of SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, AND SPEAK NO EVIL. So, it is no surprise to see a current State Attorney and City Comptroller pairing to run for Governor/ Lt. Gov next elections. Both have spent the period in American history that has seen massive amounts of public money moved from the middle/lower class to the top without ever seeing all this fraud. These pols would be Gansler and we are hearing Pratt. Both should be in jail for Aiding and Abetting crime but if you are the ones supposedly acting as public justice....that doesn't happen! Remember, when a government suspends Rule of Law it suspends Statutes of Limitation.
This is true of Franchot. In a state that loses billions each year to tax evasion by corporations and the rich....he is their point man making sure none of these tax brackets have oversight as with Joan Pratt in Baltimore. These two are the ones making sure the state and city has a healthy and protected flow of revenue free from fraud and corruption.
DO WE WANT A SECOND TERM FOR FRANCHOT? NO!
Franchot, Frick file for statewide offices
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun 2:25 p.m. EDT, September 19, 2013
The number of candidates who have officially filed to run for statewide office has grown by two with the addition of Comptroller Peter Franchot for re-election and Del. C. William Frick for attorney general. Both are Democrats.
Franchot, who is seeking his third term as the state's chief tax collector, registered as a candidate with the State Board of Elections Thursday morning. Frick, a two term Montgomery County lawmaker, filed Wednesday.
The other candidates who have already filed for statewide office are Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who filed as a ticket for governor and lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary race.
Franchot is so far unopposed. Frick is running against Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County, the first to file for that office; Del. Jon S. Cardin of Baltimore County, who has announced but who has yet to file, and Del. Aisha Braveboy of Prince George's County, who has said he will run and who is expected to file soon.
The filing deadline is Feb. 25.
No Republicans have filed for comptroller or attorney general, perhaps a reflection of the long history of futility for GOP candidates for those offices. The last time a Republican was elected attorney general was 1918. No GOP candidate for comptroller has been successful since 1898.
While no Republicans have filed for governor, Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Anne Arundel County Del. Ron George and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar have announced they intend to run. Larry Hogan, chairman of the conservative advocacy group Change Maryland, is still considering a run. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele told media outlets this week that he isn't running.
Franchot spent most of 2012 considering a run for governor and raising money as if he would make a run. He ultimately decided to run for his current office, but his $1.4 million war chest -- as of the last filing in January -- could be a powerful deterrent to potential rivals.
In another notable filing this week, Republican Del. Mike McDermott made official his candidacy for the Lower Eastern Shore Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. James N. Mathias Jr. McDermott's entry sets the stage of what is likely to be one of Maryland's fiercest legislative battles next year -- pitting one of the House's most outspoken conservatives against the moderate former mayor of Ocean City.
Mathias' razor-thin victory in the 38th District in 2010 was a severe blow to Republicans, taking away a seat previously held by Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, who retired that year.
We need Warren who has said she is a neo-liberal who supports global markets to explain how she can do that while pushing Glass Steagall as global markets need global banks. This is why it is important to look at what these neo-liberals are proposing in this '21ST CENTURY GLASS STEAGALL....THE KEY IS 21ST CENTURY. We will not get rid of corporate rule as long as we have global corporations so labor and justice need to stay away from global corporate neo-liberals like Warren.
Why We Must Support The Bipartisan “21st Century” Glass-Steagall Act Legislation
posted by Salvatore Aversa August 6, 2013
A bipartisan group of Senators are putting together a proposal of legislation for a new Glass-Steagall. It would restore a strict separation between commercial banks and speculative trading.
Glass-Steagall set up two different banks in 1933. It created two entities of banks.
One was the standard commercial bank. This is the kind that we go to every day. It is where we have our checking and savings. It is where our mortgages and small business loans may go through as well.
On June 16, 1933, the Federal Government set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. Because of the importance that commercial banks have over the economy, and the control over the peoples money, the Government had an interest to see they did not fail. The FDIC guarantees our accounts up to $250,000.
During the Great Depression, pre-FDIC, money was not insured in the bank. There was no guarantee that our funds would be there if the bank failed. As banks failed during the Depression, people were running to the banks to pull their money out while they still could. This threw fuel on the fire and made a bad situation worse. And when banks could no longer honor people’s accounts, the money was lost. If you have ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life,” you have seen what it was like. It is why many of our parents or grandparents refused to hold bank accounts, and rather stored their money in their mattress.
With the FDIC, the government insures that we never have to worry about money will always be there. And it prevents a mass exodus in a downturn economy. And, in return of this safety net for the commercial banks, the commercial banks would restrict their loans and investments, such as home mortgages, car loans, small business loans and other simple forms of credit.
“These restrictions are essential, because if customers know their money is guaranteed by the government, they won’t care if their bank is taking enormous risks. The government must act to impose discipline on bank behavior that will not come from the market when deposits are insured.”
Investment banks, however, are not guaranteed by the FDIC, because the banks are engaging in riskier investments. They also do not acquire money through deposits. Instead, they raise money through bonds and other forms of borrowing.
Because of Glass-Steagall, their failure did not pose a risk to the economy in the same way that commercial banks did.
“Under Glass-Steagall, banking became more boring and less profitable. The bankers of the 1930s didn’t welcome that prospect any more than today’s bankers do. But they lived with it, quite comfortably, for a long time, and so did the country as a whole. In fact, Glass-Steagall was part of a body of financial regulation that stands as one of the great success stories of American public policy, giving us half a century without major bank failures and contributing to a period of unprecedented growth and prosperity which saw the emergence of a middle class that was the envy of the world. “
When President Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall(which he has since deemed “the biggest regret of (his) presidency”), the separation between commercial and investment banks was removed. This raised the likelihood that commercial banks would start making riskier investments, and it was all guaranteed by the FDIC. All the reward, with very little risk.
While the repeal of Glass-Steagall should have kept a strict separation between the two entities, it relied on the ability for regulators to enforce such restrictions. Enter the Republican Party, and the party of deregulation.
On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed in to law Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or simply known as Dodd-Frank. It was seen as a much weaker form of Glass-Steagall. The Volcker Rule, a provision in Dodd-Frank, tried to establish Glass-Steagall-like separation of commercial and investment bank. However, the American people were consumed by the BP oil spill and didn’t pay attention, and by the time the banking lobbyists got to it, it was watered down.
That is why we need stricter legislation separating the two banks again.
Enter the bill the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act of 2013.“ The bill in itself is enough to gain interest. Add the bipartisan names of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Senator Angus King (I-ME), and you start to take the bill a whole lot more serious. The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act is “notable both for its substance and as a call to action on one of the great unaddressed challenges of financial reform: the trend of accelerated concentration that has left us with an industry dominated by a handful of giant, multi-purpose, dangerously opaque and conflicted institutions far too caught up in speculative games to attend to their rightful job of supporting investment and entrepreneurship and broad prosperity.”
Glass-Steagall is just as necessary today as it was in the 1930s. Bankers are, once again, using our deposits other taxpayer-supported funds, to turn giant profits for themselves. And all of this is insured by the Federal Government if they fail. The difference is, today they will not even offer you a toaster. Instead, you receive .0001% interest rate and a monthly fee if your balance falls below a certain amount. It is also needed to keep banks from leveraging their power and pivotal economic role to encroach on the territory of non-financial businesses or simply to overcharge their customers.
Had Glass-Steagall been in place during the 2008 financial crisis, it could have helped prevent some of the economic collapses that we witnessed. Instead, what we saw was large banks getting bailed out, and then using the funds to purchase weaker banks, thus becoming even bigger than before. As former CEO of Citigroup John Reed said, in a Titanic analogy, “we would’ve hit the iceberg anyway, [but the flooding] might not have spread throughout the whole ship.”
And, like any large industry that is in fear of their profit margins, they had something to say on the matter. They are arguing that it will be too difficult to separate the two entities again. But, companies sell off divisions constantly. This would be nothing new for them. They are also trying to argue that stronger regulations would force customers to go with foreign banks that have weaker regulations. If you had a choice between dog food made in America, or made in China, which would you choose? Especially if the foreign banks, came with more risk due to the weaker regulations. But, for most people, this much thought does not go in to their bank. Simply where we can get the best rates and convenience.
And if you want to see what happens to lesser regulated banks, just look what happened in Cyprus and Iceland. If those are the examples that the Republicans want to hold up as their “gold standard,” then by all means, they should move their business to those countries. But, the American people should demand more from the people who hold their loans and money.
“In any case, the rationale for this legislation goes beyond safety. It would gradually require the biggest banks to downsize along functional lines. By removing some of the artificial advantages of enormous size in finance, Warren-McCain-Cantwell-King would create new running room for institutions, including many community banks and credit unions, that have stuck to the old-fashioned model of taking in deposits and giving out loans – only to lose more and more business to the six megabanks, which now hold double the assets of numbers seven through 50 combined. And since small businesses often don’t get much respect from big banks, “Anything that tilts the playing field back toward smaller financial institutions is good for the small business sector,” Simon Johnson of MIT points out. As banking becomes more boring again, we might just see a burst of enterprise and ingenuity where we really want it – in the real economy instead of the financial economy.”
What we can do is call our Senators and ask them to support the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act of 2013. That, and hope that the banking lobbyists do not get to them first.
People must see by now that blowing up the US economy on mortgage fraud was a deliberate attempt not only to move money to the top but to give excuses to dismantle public programs and services. Neo-liberals from Clinton to now Obama are working with republicans for wealth and profit!
Destroying Social America
By Stephen Lendman on September 21, 2013 3:34 pm
It’s on the chopping block for elimination. Initiatives began decades ago. Republicans, Democrats and Obama are in lockstep. They’re waging war on vital safety net protections.
In 1996, Clinton’s Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) became law. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) ended.
Time limit harshness replaced it. Five years and out became policy. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) mandates it. States get diminishing amounts of federal funding.
Fixed block grants provide it. They’re pemitted to administer policy freely. They take full advantage during harder than ever hard times.
Join the Project Censored Newsletter Here! To qualify, recipients must work or train for jobs. Single mothers with small children are cheated. Millions are left on their own high and dry.
America is unprincipled. It’s shameless. It’s ruthless. Policy reflects neoliberal harshness. It’s hard right, soulless and uncaring.
It’s pro-war and pro-corporate. It’s anti-populist, anti-labor, anti-welfare, and anti-government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly.
It supports the worst of imperial ruthlessness. Wealth, power, privilege and unchallenged global dominance alone matter. Let ‘em eat cake applies for all others.
Progressively things worsen. Policies reflect growing dystopian harshness. On September 19, The New York Times headlined “House Republicans Pass Deep Cuts in Food Stamps.”
Billions of dollars in vitally needed aid was slashed. Republicans voted to eliminate $40 billion over the next decade.
Become a Project Censored Supporting Member Today a Receive a Free Top 25 Censored Stories Book! Join Here. One provision requires adults between 18 and 50 without minor children to find work or be enrolled in job training. Otherwise benefits are denied.
A time limit is imposed. Three months and out was enacted. States can now extend benefits for recipients able to work or preparing to do so through training.
According to House Speaker John Boehner:
“This bill makes getting Americans back to work a priority again for our nation’s welfare programs.”
How he didn’t explain. America’s enduring a jobs crisis. It’s been ongoing for years. It shows no signs of ending.
Able-bodied workers can’t find employment. Most doing so don’t earn enough to live on. Both parties oppose enacting a living wage.
Republicans mandate work or train to do so or starve. Democrats and Obama are in lockstep. They differ only on timing. Rogue states operate this way.
The House measure also mandates testing recipients. It’s to assure they’re drug-free. It prohibits lottery winners from receiving benefits.
It’s the latest initiative targeting social America. Previous ones Obama approved included cutting:
• Medicare and Medicaid benefits;
• Pell Grants for college tuitions;
• federal wages;
• the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help impoverished families have heat in winter;
• the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
• community healthcare centers;
• nonprofit health insurance cooperatives;
• HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other disease prevention programs;
• WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) grants to states for supplemental foods, healthcare, and nutrition education for low-income families;
• Head Start for comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income families with children;
• earlier Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamp) Program (SNAP) aid for poor households;
• community development block grants for housing;
• Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) first-responder funding;
• energy efficiency and renewable energy programs;
• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean/safe water and other projects;
• National Institutes of Health (NIH) medical research;
• the National Park Service;
• vital infrastructure and transportation needs; and
• other non-defense discretionary spending.
Further cuts Obama endorses benefit Wall Street, other corporate favorites, war profiteers, and other special interests. They do so at the expense of ordinary people losing out.
Increasingly they’re on their own sink or swim. Obama calls it “shared sacrifice.” Ordinary people sacrifice to let business and super-rich elites share.
Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. Austerity harshness assures it. Bipartisan complicity endorses it.
The latest measure targets food stamps. It’s a core safety net protection. Enacting the House measure means denying four million recipients vital aid they need straightaway. Millions more will be affected in out years.
Democrats and Republicans haggle over details and timing. In June, Senate Democrats cut $4 billion in food stamp aid over the next decade.
Doing so comes during protracted Main Street Depression conditions. Nearly 50 million Americans require SNAP aid to eat.
Democrats know cutting $4 billion is only for starters. Republicans want $40 billion. Compromise suggests they’ll settle for $20 billion. Perhaps more if Republican hardliners prevail. Either way, millions of needy recipients lose out.
Many more will ahead. Plans are to entirely shred America’s social safety net. Major Medicaid cuts are coming. They’re on top of previous ones.
Medicare and Social Security are targeted for elimination. It’s planned by handing over both programs to Wall Street profiteers.
Depriving needy recipients of healthcare, retirement income and food reflects how low America has sunk. Class war is official policy. Gaming the system for profits matters most.
The American dream is more illusion than reality. The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. Rogues and crooks run things.
Gangsterism is official policy. Making the world safe for capital reflects it.
War on humanity is waged for dominance and profit. Ordinary people lose out everywhere. What can’t go on forever, won’t. According to a 19th century proverb:
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”
US policy reflects heart of darkness viciousness. Personal freedoms and general welfare are targeted for elimination.
Obama, Republicans and most Democrats endorse the worst policies planned. Disagreement’s only over timing.
Duplicitous scaremongering claims America’s going broke. Obama wants “fiscal discipline” restored. He supports cutting vital SNAP aid.
He calls Medicare the “big problem.” Its cost is “unsustainable,” he claims.
“Let’s not kid ourselves and suggest that we can solve this problem by trimming a few earmarks,” he said.
The “biggest cost drivers in our budget are entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, all of which get more and more expensive every year.”
“If we want to get serious about fiscal discipline – and I do – we will have to get serious about entitlement reform.”
Medicare and Social Security aren’t entitlements. They’re insurance programs. They’re funded by worker/employer payroll tax deductions. They’re contractual federal obligations to eligible recipients who qualify.
Obama repeats what he does best. He lies. He’s a serial liar. He’s a moral coward. He supports wealth and power.
He’s beholden to powerful monied interests. They own him. He spurns popular needs. He prioritizes letting them go begging on his watch.
He proposed massive Medicare cuts. In 2010, 2011, and last November he urged more. He’s waging class war on Americans.
He wants fundamental social benefits destroyed. He wants ordinary people hung out to dry. He wants them on own sink or swim.
His “fiscal discipline” mumbo jumbo is imposing it on the backs of ordinary people least able to survive on what he endorses.
At the same time, he handed trillions of dollars to Wall Street crooks and other corporate favorites. He spent trillions more waging war on humanity.
He’s turning America into a dystopian backwater. Poverty, unemployment, underemployment, hunger, homelessness and overwhelming human misery are at Depression levels.
Wealth is more than ever disproportionately concentrated. America’s 1% overwhelmingly controls it.
What do you call a nation spurning its most disadvantaged? A failed state reflects today’s America. It’s no democracy. It’s not beautiful.
It’s not the best of all possible worlds. It’s not what PR wizards want people to believe. It’s rogue state viciousness writ large.
Truman once said “(t)he buck stops here!” Obama bears full responsibility for the worst of policies he endorses.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Did you know Mikulski has a Super Nova named for her because she has moved more than a trillion dollars to Johns Hopkins over a few decades just to be used to expand their operations globally..now making them a corporation all while the residents in her district are dying 20-30 years early because of lack of access to health care?
Do you know that if she had directed most of that funding to the VA Administration in Baltimore that Maryland would have a state of the art VA that made veterans feel honored while allowing Hopkins to limp along as a small private university?
We see charities on TV hawking for Veterans since the Federal governent has emptied its coffers to corporate fraud and corporate welfare and neo-liberals led the way as they worked for wealth and profit in global markets. We are disgusted by these false shows of concern as the Affordable Care Act moves to privatize public health and throw veterans, seniors, and the poor into markets rather than the protection of Federal programs. It is no coincidence that all of this movement of wealth to health institutions comes as the Baltimore VA is sighted as being the worst in the nation.
We want voters to remember that the democratic party has been taken by neo-liberals who work against the people's interests. That is why we have the state of the state. We need labor and justice running candidates against all incumbents!
REMEMBER THE FARM TEAM....MAGGIE MCINTOSH AND MARYLAND ASSEMBLY POLS ARE JUST AS BAD!
Mikulski demands Baltimore VA improve 'lackluster' performance on key program Senator says she wants action plan for improvement within 10 days
By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun 5:47 p.m. EDT, September 16, 2013
In a letter sent Monday to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Maryland's senior senator called on the VA's Baltimore office to develop an action plan within 10 days to improve its "lackluster" approach to an initiative designed to speed up the time it takes to process disability claims.
Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski asked Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to provide a schedule for additional training between the Baltimore office leadership and service organizations, such as the American Legion, that work to expedite fully developed claims. The Baltimore office is among the slowest in the nation at processing claims and has the highest error rate, according to VA data.
Mikulski said she was "deeply disappointed and frustrated on behalf of Maryland veterans" after testimony that Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division, gave to Congress last week.
Jones told a House subcommittee in written testimony that the Legion encountered an "obstructionist attitude" during a March visit to the Baltimore office. She also told the House members that the local staff was "aggressively excluding" Maryland veterans from the fully developed claims program.
Mikulski said her staff has heard from veterans' service organizations — which partner with the VA to prepare the claims for the program — that the Baltimore office has shown a "reluctance to work in cooperation" with the organizations. That, in turn, affects the organization's ability to provide a fully developed claim, Mikulski said.
"We cannot continue to allow the Baltimore office to perform at a level that puts our commitment to veterans in jeopardy," said Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. She is also a member of the Senate Military Family Caucus and Veterans Jobs Caucus.
The VA did not immediately respond to the senator's letter.
Mikulski also requested that the Baltimore office receive regular training from the Indianapolis office, which Jones highlighted in her testimony for its success with implementing the accelerated claims program.
"While offices such as Indianapolis have embraced the [fully developed claims] program as a means to expedite processing times and reduce errors, the leadership in the Baltimore office doesn't appear to be making the implementation of this tool a high priority," the senator wrote. "This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately."
Jones said Monday in an interview that when the VA's regional offices show "buy in," the fully developed claims program works. She said in the months since the Legion conducted its performance review in Baltimore, the local office has made significant improvement toward the agencywide goal of processing all claims in 125 days with a 98 accuracy rate.
"The American Legion stands ready to assist them in any that we can," Jones said.
The error rate in Baltimore is 23.5 percent, according to the most recent data. More than 77 percent of cases are backlogged.
The VA's Baltimore office acknowledged that some cases were disqualified from the fully developed claims program, but said the cases in question were excluded due to missing documentation, the veteran's refusal or an administrative issue.
Have you heard Peter Frosh shouting loudly and strongly against all of the billions of dollars lost to public coffers and individual pockets each year in Maryland? Wall Street fraud in the tens of trillions alone need billions brought back to Maryland yet all of MD pols are silent. Baltimore is epicenter to an enormous amount of this crime and corruption that seems often to involve Washington beltway businesses that move all the wealth to Montgomery/Prince George Counties. Does Peter Frosh know that much of the wealth inequity in MD....with his county as the wealthiest comes from this massive fraud and corruption?
Frosh not only knows it...he works to make sure laws are not passed to correct it. It helps when judges are appointed who don't mind ruling the MERS was not a crime when it was central to the massive fraud. Frosh knows that MD fraud laws are deliberately weak or non-existent and caps on awards in the few cases that get through hinder justice.
America is crippled by suspended Rule of Law and rampant fraud and corruption and Frosh, Frisk, and Jon Cardin are the farm team to this culture. We need these men to step aside so the people can elect pols that fight for public justice and legislate for the people and not corporate profit!
State Sen. Brian Frosh files for attorney general
Sen. Brian E. Frosh is pictured during the debate. Senators debate before voting to pass the Firearm Safety Act of 2013. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun / February 28, 2013)
By Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun 4:50 p.m. EDT, September 10, 2013
State Sen. Brian E. Frosh on Tuesday became the first candidate to officially file as a candidate for attorney general in next year's election. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, is expected to face a hotly contested primary contest in the race to succeed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who is expected to soon declare his candidacy for governor.
“I am running for Attorney General because I believe Marylanders want to know they’ve got an advocate who will fight for them. They want to know someone has got their backs,” said Frosh.
Frosh, who is winding up his fifth term in the Senate, announced his candidacy in July, shortly after Del. Jon S. Cardin of Baltimore County entered the race. Dels. C. William Frick of Montgomery County and Aisha Braveboy of Prince George's County are also expected to seek the Democratic nomination. In recent decades, winning the Democratic nomination has been tantamount to election to an office no Republican has held for more than a half-century.
The 66-year-old Frosh has been chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee since 2002. He has been a leader of liberal forces on such issues as gun control, same-sex marriage and abolition of the death penalty.
Frosh has said that attorney general is the last office he is interested in holding and that he has no ambitions to run for governor someday.
BALTIMORE PAYS OUT BILLIONS EACH YEAR FOR FAILED PUBLIC POLICY SURROUNDING DEVELOPMENT. IT IS THE WORST PUBLIC POLICY I HAVE EVER SEEN AND IT IS DRIVEN BY JOHNS HOPKINS.
The citizens of Baltimore need to look towards the next election for mayor and city council to start grooming community leaders that are outside the Baltimore crony political system so we can have politicians who work for the people who elect them and not for the Baltimore Development and Maryland's 1%. We have had two decades of downtown development and now need to rebuild the city's tax base, rebuild its public agencies, and install oversight into the development already in place.
Moving forward with this same kind of leveraged building that hands all city development to corporations and mortgages the city's finances for decades is insane and must stop. We the people are ready to take back the public policy and we will do that by electing a strong public leader who will rewrite the city charter to one that removes the mayor's controls, disbands the BDC, and looks closely at the contracts of the past decade to see what value the people can receive and use that as the guidepost for moving forward!
'Superblock' developers want $50 million from city Mayor wants to seek new bids for west-side site
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 5:54 p.m. EDT, September 4, 2013
The former developers of Baltimore's long-stalled "Superblock" project have filed suit against the city, demanding more than $50 million after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake canceled their exclusive rights to the west-side property.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, Lexington Square Partners say they spent more than $7 million in their six-year effort to develop the site and were on the verge of securing financing to move ahead. The suit says city officials unfairly killed their deal with Baltimore.
"The city has taken an unreasonably aggressive position," wrote attorney Charles O. Monk of the Saul Ewing law firm, who represents Lexington Square Partners.
City Solicitor George Nilson said the mayor was right to end the developers' exclusive deal and invite outside bids. He said Lexington Square Partners are welcome to bid again as well.
"This is not a huge surprise," Nilson said of the suit. "I tried to point out to them that it would not be a smart idea to sue. The fact that they did sue suggests they are no longer interested in the site."
Citing numerous delays and city-approved extensions on the project, Rawlings-Blake in June declined to grant the developers another extension to come up with financing for the $152 million project. She said she intends to seek new proposals for the development by the end of autumn.
That decision forced the developers to "reluctantly" sue the city, Monk said.
"If the city is anxious to get development going on the 'Superblock,' they ought to be working with the developers, not forcing them to go to court," he said. "We hope the city would think about that, and come to the table. But they have to be realistic. You don't do a project of this magnitude in nine months."
The city entered into a sales agreement with Lexington Square Partners in 2007 after they won the right several years earlier to develop the property. Lexington Square Partners agreed to buy the site for $12.2 million, though the developer effectively would have to pay only $2.85 million of that price.
But the project was slowed by litigation, and it wasn't until December that the development was awarded $22.1 million in tax breaks, which Lexington Square Partners said it needed to secure financing. The tax breaks were awarded after the Maryland Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed by Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, who argued that the plan failed to preserve historic buildings.
The site is bounded roughly by Lexington, Howard and Fayette streets and Park Avenue. Under the plan, the project would have had about 300 apartments, more than 200,000 square feet of retail space and a parking garage for 650 vehicles.
Rawlings-Blake said she's considering whether to break up the site — which spans several city blocks — into multiple bids or keep it as one large plan.
We want to be clear....neo-liberals took the people's party and made it the corporate rule it is today. It also killed the middle-class. When we have elected pols both working for wealth and profit at the expense of labor and justice you get people hating government. So, this article is right. WE SIMPLY NEED TO REBUILD THE PEOPLE'S PARTY BY SHAKING THE NEO-LIBERALS OUT BY RUNNING LABOR AND JUSTICE IN PRIMARIES.
There is no need to hate government....just hate neo-liberals!
Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class
How would you teach the middle class to hate their own government using a strategy that takes into consideration the political climate of the United States of thirty years ago? August 21, 2012 | The following is an excerpt from Dennis Marker's new book 15 Steps to Corporate Feudalism, published this year. In the text below, Marker shares one of the steps he sees as central to the destruction of the middle class since Ronald Reagan took over.
Your goal for this step is to figure out how to teach the middle class to hate their own government using a strategy that takes into consideration the political climate of the United States of thirty years ago.
Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the plan to implement Corporate Feudalism. A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world, or the powerful individuals and private armies of earlier times. It is the government that enforces the laws to protect the middle class from those who would like to become their economic rulers. That is why prior to the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the middle class all economies were run according to some version of the feudal system. If you want to put an end to the middle class and replace it with a feudal republic, you would need to change people’s perception of their government.
Obviously a government does not have to be on the side of its people, as can be seen by the existence of countless dictatorships and oligarchies throughout the world. Even the corporatocracy that currently exists in the United States falls far short of being on the side of its middle class. But US history shows that a government committed to serving its citizens can, in fact, help create and maintain a healthy middle class even in the face of powerful corporations whose only interest is maximizing their own power and profits.
It is like the story in old westerns of a big bad landowner who takes what he wants when he wants it, ruthlessly terrorizing a town without a strong sheriff. Any individual who tries to stop the landowner is beaten into submission or killed. The situation continues until the town finds a strong enough sheriff to regain control over the landowner and his gang. This is the Old West version of the feudal system. In westerns, the feudal lord comes first and the sheriff comes later. But in the United States of thirty years ago, the government was the strong sheriff keeping the late-twentieth-century feudal lords from taking what they wanted. As long as the government was supported by its citizens—particularly its middle class—no one could ride into town and steal what belonged to the people. But if the government were weakened or destroyed, a different situation would arise. The intent of the plan for Corporate Feudalism was to convince the middle class to fire their sheriff. And that’s just what happened.
Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government and believed that living in the United States was good for the middle class. They took their status for granted. The connection between what was good about the United States and its government was clear to the American public. For the most part, people believed the government was on their side and largely responsible for the high standard of living they enjoyed. Their government built the roads that made transportation easy. Their government made the laws and regulations that kept US workers safe at their jobs. Their government ensured that their food was safe. The labor strife that had empowered the middle class was now decades old, and the Vietnam War had ended, although not well. In many ways the United States of thirty years ago was a happy place, and most people understood their government’s role in keeping it that way. While there were problems, including the energy crisis, they seemed manageable. Not everyone was happy with everything the government did, of course, but there was general agreement that the US government was the best government anywhere.
Standing Up to Anti-Union Democrats
A Huge Victory for Oregon’s Biggest Union
by SHAMUS COOKE
After years of painful backsliding, the state workers of Oregon’s largest union, SEIU 503, recently stood firm and scored a big win in their contract negotiations against the state’s anti-union Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber. After again demanding many anti-union concessions, Oregon’s Democratic governor backed down when the union proved organized and ready to wage a statewide strike, which would have shut down many state-run agencies, including highway repair, Department of Motor Vehicles, Parks and Recreation, food stamps, the Employment Department, Child Welfare, Department of Revenue, and others.
SEIU 503 is a union of 50,000 plus members, the core of which consists of Oregon public employees. On paper the union looked impressive after having expanded its membership in mostly non-public areas, including private home-health care.
But the union’s power had been hollowed out in preceding years, due to successive Democratic governors demanding concessionary contracts from the state workers, who pay most of the union’s dues while having the most cohesive work units and political power.
SEIU 503 had suffered from a disease that— if left untreated— was potentially fatal: concessionary bargaining. Consequently, with each new contract wages were lowered, members’ health care contributions increased, and the governor continued to demand that public employees be blamed for the budget deficits caused by the recession that the banks triggered and the lowering of taxes on corporations.
The life force of the union was being sucked dry by years of weak contracts, and eventually many members began to question why they were paying dues to a union that appeared incapable of protecting their wages and benefits. Morale was low. Hope for the union’s future — and its members’ livelihood — started to dim.
Sensing blood, a variety of right-wing funded organizations and politicians were preparing the anti-union deathblow, with ballot measures — like “right to work” legislation — that intend to decapitate unions in Oregon, as happened in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
But after this big win, SEIU 503 is in a better position to defend itself against these right-wing attacks, and in a better bargaining position for contract negotiations next time, since members will want to expand on their momentum to regain the losses they’ve incurred in recent contracts.
This win required that the union out-muscle nearly every politician in the state, who all lined up to vote against the union. The Democrats, who control Oregon’s House and Senate, co-authored a bill that illegally attacked the pensions of current and future retirees (a bill the union is challenging in court). After this treachery was passed, the Oregon Democrats pushed for yet another anti-pension bill, which they called a “grand bargain” — raising minimal taxes on the wealthy in exchange for even more pension cuts. The Grand Bargain failed by one vote, although the Democratic Governor has announced he will pursue it again in a special session.
Many — if not most — of these Democrats were supported by Oregon labor unions and they proceeded immediately to stab unions in the back. Oregon Democrats are now parroting the longstanding Republican propaganda that blames unions for the state’s budget problems.
The Democrats now look at organized labor through the same anti-union lens of the Republicans; the budget was to be balanced on the backs of public employees while the bigbanks and corporations — who caused the recession — were given new tax breaks.
For example, the Democratic governor called the Democratic-controlled legislature into “special session” exclusively to give NIKE a special tax break, which of course will be expanded to other corporations in Oregon. This is happening at the same time that the Democrats and Republicans — and their associated media mouthpieces — both pour blame on unions for the bad economy, which tends to drive public perception against unions.
Oregon’s anti-union, pro-corporation dynamic is not unique. Since the start of the Great Recession, the Democrats nationwide have veered even sharper to the right in regards to labor — what little difference remains between Democrats and Republicans over unions is now a matter of degrees within a shared, bi-partisan ideology.
Although Republicans have wanted to institute anti-union laws like “Right to Work,” the Democrats have helped to weaken these unions and made them vulnerable to such attacks — the old one-two knockout punch combination. Strong unions that bargain strong contracts are less vulnerable to Republican attacks.
It’s undoubtedly true that the Democrats rightward political drift is, in part, the byproduct of a labor movement that refuses to hold them accountable for their actions. In Oregon, for example, the current Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber, had previously proved himself an enemy of organized labor when, in 1995, SEIU 503 went on a statewide strike against him.
When Kitzhaber re-entered politics in 2010, SEIU 503 and the other unions agreed to back him on a “lesser of two evils” basis, regardless of his public statements that aimed at ”curbing pension costs” and other anti-union, Republican-inspired rhetoric. When the Democrats co-authored the anti-pension bill, instead of publicly denouncing it the unions were mostly quiet, a response that empowered the Democrats to double down later for a Grand Bargain. Passivity doesn’t stop your political foes, but invites more aggression.
The key lesson in SEIU’s recent victory was that the union proved it was not dependent on Democratic politicians for favors; unions have an independent power completely separate from politicians, expressed most strongly through their ability to mobilize the membership for a strike.
SEIU 503 defeated the concessions demanded by the governor by organizing strike petitions in the worksites, staging statewide worksite actions, organizing numerous regional membership meetings to discuss bargaining proposals and strategy, phone banking members to educate and elicit feedback, and holding statewide in-person strike votes that resulted in a strong “yes” from the membership, further empowering the bargaining team. Because of these and other actions the governor backed down and the membership now has their first contract victory in years with zero concessions, wage increases, as well as protections against privatization and other improvements in working conditions.
Now, many within SEIU 503 are re-thinking their relationship with the Democrats. Most members now realize that the Democrats are transitioning from “fair weather friends” to outright enemies; and most union members do not want to dedicate their time or money for their political enemies, whether or not the enemy is considered a “lesser evil.”
Unions in Oregon have already started “candidate schools” for members interested in running for public office. And although laudable, this small step towards political independence must be accompanied by a larger investment from all unions toward creating a political party to represent working people with the resources and organizational ability to challenge the two-party system once and for all.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and an elected officer of SEIU 503. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
We know all of O'Malley' appointments have to do with corporate interests throughout government so this is no surprise....we will get the word out across America for the Presidential race. O'Malley and his protege Anthony Brown are both working hard for corporate wealth and profit as neo-liberals. O'Malley is tapped to run nationally for just that reason.
What we need to understand is that all of the candidates running for governor next election are the same....neo-liberals who will do the same thing as would republicans. So, we simply need to run people for these executive positions ....Governor and Mayor/County Executives....who are people and not corporate pols. Who will be running against Brown/Ulman, Gansler, Mizeur ....all corporate candidates for Governor? MAKE SURE YOU VOTE FOR A LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATE AND NOT THESE NEO-LIBERALS SO WE CAN REBUILD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN MARYLAND!
O'Malley names energy executive to PSC
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun 5:50 p.m. EDT, August 14, 2013
Gov. Martin O'Malley on Wednesday appointed Anne E. Hoskins, an executive with a New Jersey-based energy company, to the powerful board that regulates utility rates in Maryland.
Hoskins, a Baltimore resident, would fill the vacancy left on the Public Service Commission when Kevin Hughes was named chairman of the agency. If confirmed by the Senate, her term would continue until June 2016.
In a statement. O'Malley said Hoskins would help protect the interests of Maryland families.
"As an expert in clean energy and climate change, Anne understands the importance of ensuring a resilient electric grid for all Marylanders in the face of increasingly severe weather," he said.
For the past six years, Hoskins has been senior vice president for public affairs an sustainability for the Public Service Enterprise Group, a publicly traded energy company based in Newark. She also served as a visiting research scholar at the Andlinger Center on Energy and the Environment at Princeton University.
A graduate of Cornell University, Hoskins also holds a masters in public administration from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard.
SAY NO TO ALL NEO-LIBERALS.....HILLARY, BIDEN, CUOMO, AND O'MALLEY!
WE WANT RUSS FEINGOLD TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT 2016!
Ready for Hillary? Not in Middle America
Elite donors in New York, California account for bulk of super PAC's $1.25 million By Michael Beckelemail 8:57 pm, July 31, 2013
Contributions to Ready for Hillary across the country
Unitemized contributions, $200or less, not disclosed individually.
Scores of New Yorkers and Californians — but relatively few folks in Middle America — are already backing a super PAC designed to boost Democrat Hillary Clinton should she run for president in 2016.
Residents of New York, which Clinton represented in the U.S. Senate, and California have combined to give more than $500,000 to the Ready for Hillary super PAC over the first six months of the year, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission reports filed today.
That’s more than 40 percent of the $1.25 million Ready for Hillary reported raising since it was launched in January.
Both states are frequently targeted for campaign cash by politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Source: Federal Election Commission, figures through June 30, 2013
While super PACs are legally allowed to collect donations of any size, Ready for Hillary has voluntarily capped its contributions at $25,000. Ready for Hillary collected two-dozen contributions at this level, and they account for nearly half of the funds that the Democratic group received during the first six months of 2013.
Of these two-dozen “maximum” contributions, seven come from Californians and five from New Yorkers.
- Jack Bendheim, president and chairman of the board of Phibro Animal Health Corp., a leading manufacturer and marketer of animal health pharmaceuticals, who raised more than $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign
- Scott Bessent, the chief investment officer at the Soros Fund Management, the family investment vehicle of liberal billionaire George Soros*
- Art historian Agnes Gund, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010 to serve on the board of trustees of the National Council on the Arts
- James Hormel, chairman of the financial company Equidex, Inc., who served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg under President Bill Clinton
- Irwin Jacobs, co-founder and former chairman of telecommunications company Qualcomm, as well as his wife Joan, who together raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election efforts
- Philanthropist Ann Tenenbaum, a longtime Clinton ally who has hosted the Clintons at her home in the Hamptons
- Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing company who raised at least $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 campaign and now is a founding member of Ready for Hillary’s National Finance Council
Pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC created By Michael Beckel January 28, 2013 Hillary Clinton's presidential committee officially history By Dave Levinthal February 4, 2013 Another notable $25,000 donor is former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, who bundled more than $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 presidential run. Lundergan is the father of Alison Lundergan Grimes, herself a Democrat who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the 2014 midterm election.
Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and Tennessee round out the top five list of places whose residents are already supporting a potential Clinton presidential bid.
Meanwhile, Ready for Hillary reported raising roughly $500 from one resident of Iowa, which conducts the nation’s first presidential nomination caucuses, and $250 from a single resident of New Hampshire, which conducts the first presidential primary elections.
Federal law requires information about donors who give more than $200 to political committees to be publicly reported, including donors’ address, employer and occupation. Individuals who give less than $200 are not required to be disclosed, and Ready for Hillary has accepted roughly $200,000 in such contributions so far this year.
Ready for Hillary reported itemized donations from individuals in 35 states, the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis, though super PAC spokesman Seth Bringman noted that the group has received financial support from more than 10,000 donors in “all 50 states,” as well as “American military bases throughout the world.”
"We are changing the game of what a successful super PAC can be," Bringman added. "We’re not about seven-figure checks, TV ads or just two states."
Erin Quinn contributed to this report.
*The Center for Public Integrity has received financial support from Soros’s Open Society Foundation. See the Center’s list of donors here.
Rush Holt is a New Democrat....that means he is a neo-liberal....that means he promotes global corporations and free market/trade. He says he is against TPP.....NO NEW DEMOCRAT WILL BE AGAINST TPP.....IT IS THE BASIS OF GLOBALISM. RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE...STOP ALLOWING THESE CORPORATE POLS TAKE THE PEOPLE'S PARTY!
Do you know that Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid, Durbin, and Schumer ....... all the democratic leadership voted to end Glass Steagall and for free trade? These were the neo-liberals who with Bill and Hillary created the crippled, criminal, and corrupt system we have today. Warren is a free market globalist by her own admission....they can't have global corporations without global banks. A NEO-LIBERAL WILL NEVER VOTE FOR GLASS STEAGALL.....WE MUST VOTE THEM OUT BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE! Sign these petitions, thank Warren and stop letting them fool you!
Actually low numbers will not matter when the US election system is captured by money and corporate media. We have the Congress ready to vote on the TPP..a set of trade deals that will equate to a COUP of our US Constitution in taking away US citizens' right to legislate allowing global corporations to write laws that trump sovereign Constitutions. Since the founding principle of the US Constitution has the US citizen as legislator...we are seeing these much maligned pols committing what will be treason. This is not hyperbole..it is actually what is happening.
So, this seems like an important thing in the history of America yet no media outlet speaks to what is all over the social media and internet. Free press is needed for free elections. If the public does not know the issues they cannot be democratic voters..they become developing world staged elections.
Secondly, neo-liberals have so captured the democratic party....and Maryland is all neo-liberal...that we have all elected pols representing wealth and profit....maybe 2-3% of the country. Since the democratic party is the people's party of labor and justice....80% of this party....we understand that these neo-liberal machines as are in Maryland...O'Malley statewide and Rawlings-Blake/Jack Young in Baltimore..one cannot have elections when you cannot challenge incumbents.
The people simply need to change these things!
Congress' approval rating matters Low esteem in which Americans hold the legislative body is bad for our democracy
By Andrew L. Yarrow 12:12 p.m. EDT, July 31, 2013 BAltimore Sun
Much has been made of Congress' dismal approval ratings. A Rasmussen poll this summer found they had dipped below 10 percent. Sen. John McCain noted that Congress is less liked than a colonoscopy.
While such ratings may be grist for late-night TV humor, it is tragic and dangerous that Americans have so little respect for a key institution of their democracy. If a poll could have been freely conducted in the former Soviet Union — even during the corrupt, totalitarian and economically disastrous Brezhnev years — it is unlikely that so few Soviet citizens would have had such a low opinion of their government.
Dismaying, funny or pathetic, let's think what a 10 percent rating really means. If a student got 10 percent on an exam, he or she would fail and be put in a remedial class. If an employee was rated 10 on a scale of 1 to 100 on a performance review, he or she would probably be fired.
So, why do so few of us care that Congress is so despised?
Maybe we have become so cynical about politics that our knee-jerk reaction is to rate our 535 hyper-partisan, get-nothing-done senators and representatives about as highly as the pests for which we hire exterminators. Maybe we're just so tuned out — posting on our Facebook pages, finding something to watch on our 500 cable channels, or shopping until we drop. Or maybe we are pretty astute: We see failure and call a spade a spade.
For one thing, Congress gets little done. The 112th Congress, which ended in 2012, passed fewer bills than any Congress in recent memory, and the current 113th Congress is on track to do just as badly. Despite strong support for modest gun control and immigration reform, legislation dies in that black hole known as the House of Representatives. The parties routinely bicker over confirming presidential appointments.
What Congress does do often seems patently ridiculous. House Republicans have voted more than three dozen times to repeal Obamacare. Whatever one thinks of the law, they knew that the Democratic-controlled Senate would never go along and, even if it did, President Barack Obama would veto the bill. They were grandstanding.
The sequester may now seem "normal," but how absurd is it to reach a so-called budget agreement in 2011 that would result in across-the-board cuts to programs, whether they are good ones or bad ones? Congress gave itself a year and a half to reach a real deal to prevent this train wreck, but it failed.
Then there is what we call partisanship but really is more like 3-year-olds fighting in a sandbox. In July, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid the "worst leader ever." Rep Joe Wilson famously interrupted a presidential address to Congress by calling the president a liar, sounding like someone in the bleachers who'd had one too many beers. Strict party-line votes are now more the rule than the exception; many Republican members who once acknowledged that climate change was a threat, once called for a health-care plan much like what became Obamacare, and once voted for raising the minimum wage now march in lock step with their "Just say no" leadership. Better to get nothing done than to give an apparent victory to the enemy.
You would think that Congress would care about being held in such low esteem and try to change the current scorn into something resembling respect. But no.
Congress-hating hasn't always been the norm. For much of the last 40 years, approval ratings for Congress hovered around 40 percent (not great, but an awful lot better than 10 percent), with a spike of 80 percent after 9/11. Back in the day — when the United States fought and won World War II, created and expanded Social Security, united to fight the Cold War, and sent a man to the moon — Americans respected their government, including Congress. School textbooks taught students that their governmental system, with its division of powers, was the world's best.
Once upon a time, the loudest voices in Congress were not the "wacko birds," as Senator McCain aptly described some of the current obstructionists. People from different parties used to seek and find common ground. Senator McCain worked with Democrat Russ Feingold to pass campaign-finance reform. Senator Ted Kennedy worked with President George W. Bush to craft the last big education-reform bill. Further back, President Ronald Reagan and powerful Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski worked together to pass a major tax reform in 1986, and Republican Senate leader Everett Dirksen worked with President Lyndon Johnson to pass the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.
We're not just missing the comity and compromises of days of yore but also the great "lions" of Congress — people like Kennedy and Dirksen — whose leadership set standards for decent lawmaking behavior. Not pressed to constantly fundraise, members hung out in Washington, got to know those across the aisle, and realized they were people they could work with. And before congressional districts got so bizarrely gerrymandered to protect incumbents, most Democrats and Republicans were in competitive districts where they had to respect the views of the minority if they wanted to "represent" their entire constituencies and get re-elected.
What are the answers? We need to reduce the role of money in politics; get members of opposing parties to develop personal, respectful relationships; create competitive districts using independent redistricting commissions (rather than being drawn by whichever party controls a state house); and find some new "lions." And then ramp up public pressure to get something done, rather than just fight.
Of course, these things are easier said than done. But we must try. Thoughtful leaders who can compromise and get the people's business done, rather than wacko birds fighting in the sandbox, will win respect from more than 10 percent of the American people.
Early childhood development from a politician who created the deepest and broadest level of impoverishment in US history with free trade and ending Glass Steagall...unleashing global corporations on America. More children are dying from wealth inequity created by massive corporate fraud than war and evil dictators.
Obama, Hillary Clinton sitting down to lunch Plenty of issues could be conversation starters
UPDATED 8:37 AM EDT Jul 29, 2013 CNN
On Monday, however, she'll make a return to the building for lunch with President Barack Obama in his private dining room.
No other details of the pair's meeting were provided, though plenty of issues -- ranging from health care to Middle East peace talks -- could be conversation starters.
Former rivals during their marathon battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Obama and Clinton forged what most parties say was a strong working relationship during her years at the State Department. Since her departure, the pair met for dinner at the White House along with former President Bill Clinton, and for the dedication of the George W. Bush library in Texas.
Clinton, a potential candidate for the White House in 2016, has spent her months post-State appearing at events focused on women's empowerment, as well as maintaining a healthy roster of paid speaking engagements.
She launched an initiative through the Clinton Foundation dedicated to early childhood development, and signed a book deal in April for a diplomacy-centered memoir to be released in 2014.
Gansler and ethics is like Saddam Hussein and human rights! If media would point out that Maryland is at the bottom nationally for fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency according to the Center for Public Integrity......and billions of dollars lost to corporate fraud each year in Maryland alone....and no public protections from the Maryland Assembly in laws to toughen definitions of fraud, caps on fraud awards, and public justice suspension of Rule of Law regarding white collar crime....then everyone would know Gansler aids and abets crime....and would not be able to run for elected office!
Gansler To Talk About Ethics Reforms In Maryland
July 22, 2013 8:52 AM (Credit: AP) WJZ TV
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is planning to talk about proposals to improve transparency and accountability in state government.
Gansler has scheduled a forum for Wednesday in Annapolis.
It’s the third forum the attorney general has set as he prepared to officially announce his plans to run for governor in September.
Gansler says part of the discussion will include a proposal for an open meetings record law. He says it would require all meetings regarding the development of regulations held between state employees and outside parties to be made public.
Now, he says, such meetings are held in private. Gansler has previously held forums on fighting domestic violence and boosting manufacturing in the state.
As Ben Cardin knows the national debt is a result of massive corporate fraud across all business sectors. We have had tens of trillions of dollars stolen through corporate fraud this past decade and deficits at all levels of government could be paid in full by simply enforcing Rule of Law! Have you heard Ben or any Maryland neo-liberal call for making corporations pay down the debt? No, they went right with the people paying it down with higher taxes and lost public spending. Do you know that Obama and Congressional neo-liberals wanted to have a 3:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes on the rich totalling $4 trillion with cuts to entitlements and Social Security? When the debt ceiling deal that did that could not be reached......they went with sequestration to do the same thing. THIS WAS A NEO-LIBERAL PLAN, NOT A REPUBLICAN! Ben is a neo-liberal and as much as he wants to pretend to stand with the poor and working class that make up most of his district...he actually does the opposite. Breaking the Glass Steagall wall and unleashing Big Banks and Wall Street on the American people caused this problem and Ben Cardin was right there voting for all of that. He did so knowing these banks and corporations would get so big as to be unaccountable and that the people would be impoverished through corporate power. He didn't care.
Pain of sequestration is real Despite claims to the contrary, meat-cleaver approach to budget cutting is hurting plenty of Marylanders
By Ben Cardin 6:00 a.m. EDT, July 22, 2013 Baltimore Sun
Recently, some in the media have promoted the idea that the $85 billion sequestration cuts triggered on March 1 aren't causing drastic effects. CNN called the cuts "not as bad as advertised," and a Washington Post report found the cuts less "scary" than predicted. Tell that to the 46,000 Department of Defense employees in Maryland and another 103,000 in the Capitol Region who are being furloughed, resulting in up to a 20 percent reduction in weekly pay through the rest of the fiscal year. Or maybe those who should be receiving the 700 grants not being offered by the National Institutes of Health because of its $1.5 billion cut. I am sure that these public servants who provide critical support for our uniformed military or find cures for life-threatening diseases — many of whom are now struggling to pay mortgages, car loans and grocery bills with up to 20 percent less income — would strongly disagree that sequestration isn't having profound effects.
Earlier this month, the Defense Department began furloughs for 652,000 civilian employees nationwide, forcing them to take up to 11 unpaid days off through September. This is in addition to furloughs (or total shutdowns) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency and Internal Revenue Service. These furloughs are poor policy. They greatly disrupt our national and economic security and put civilians in financial hardship. Our government cannot continue to provide for the defense of our nation by maintaining such a harmful policy toward its civilian workers.
Visiting installations throughout Maryland, I heard and saw the impact the furloughs of defense and other federal employees will have. For instance, at the Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center in Charles County, over 1,870 civilian employees, about 97 percent of the total government civilian workforce there, are being forced to take leave without pay one day per week. This puts base police and fire protection, safety programs, air operations, quality of life programs and facilities at risk.
At Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, furloughs will hit 2,400 Defense Department civilians — 94 percent of the civilian staff. Walter Reed is the country's top facility for wounded combat soldiers. Its Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation is the largest within the Department of Defense. Its seven specialty service clinics include one for traumatic brain injuries. Soldiers needing expert care might have to wait longer for appointments or be forced to go to nonmilitary medical facilities, both of which will drive up costs.
At Fort Detrick, 4,900 Defense Department civilians will be furloughed. Those civilians support a multi-government community that conducts biomedical research and development, and medical materiel management that includes everything from advanced bandages to vaccines for soldiers on the battlefield and in military hospitals.
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Harford County's largest employer and home to 11 major commands and more than 80 agencies, has approximately 11,500 DoD civilian employees subject to furloughs, about half APG's workforce. Before sequestration, APG reported contributing more than $400 million in payroll and $500 million in contracts annually.
At Fort Meade, Maryland's largest employer, sequestration is impacting the entire region. Most of its 27,000 DoD civilian employees face furloughs. This is not only a monetary strain but also a heavy burden on social and personal relationships. We must ensure these employees know what services are available to combat potential issues that may arise from the added stress of furloughs, whether balancing mortgage payments and finances on a limited income, making car payments or even getting and maintaining a security clearance with reduced creditworthiness.
We also must not forget that at all of the Maryland installations, and the communities that are home to federal facilities, furloughs will have ripple effects. Furloughed workers will not go to local restaurants for lunch, or fill up their gas tanks as often or shop beyond the basics, as they struggle to make ends meet with up to 20 percent less pay.
Sequestration is hurting real people and real families. It's harming our national security readiness and local economies. It is irresponsible to dismiss these hardships as "better than they could have been." Even conservative governors Rick Scott of Florida, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Phil Bryant of Mississippi, previous champions of sequestration and massive cuts to the federal government, changed their tune when they realized that preparing for hurricane season would be much more difficult with National Guardsmen furloughed one day a week.
We cannot afford to let political dysfunction get in the way of ensuring our national security and public health. We must restart negotiations on a comprehensive plan to end sequestration and restore normal, regular and, in many circumstances, absolutely essential functions of our government.
Do you know that Hoyer voted the Glass Steagall wall down, deregulated banks, and created trade laws that gave us these global corporations? Hoyer is a great big corporate politician as is Anthony Brown. Do you know Anthony is committed to privatizing all that is public.....transportation, schools, public works....even having government lease office space rather than own buildings. Do you know he supports and is actively unrolling the Johns Hopkins version of private health systems that make healt care profitable on the backs of people's access to care? Forget about Universal Care with this corporate neo-liberal ....he says 'show me the money'....corporate profits that is!
Brown is about as close to Wall Street you can get without having a CEO come to Maryland to run for office. So, we want to elect labor and justice to both Governor and Lt Gov and we have no candidates so far in the democratic party for that. They are all neo-liberals! So if your labor union or justice organization has not announced a democratic candidate they are not working for you and me! We have Brian Vaeth and Duane Davis representing labor and justice running as republicans.....remember, it is better to vote for them as we work to rebuild the democratic party in Maryland....from corporate to labor and justice!!!
ANTHONY BROWN IS A GREAT BIG CORPORATE/WALL STREET POLITICIAN!
Hoyer to endorse Brown in governor's race Sen. President Miller also expected to endorse
Erin Cox 9:29 a.m. EDT, July 22, 2013 Baltimore Sun
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's campaign for governor is poised to collect two more high-profile endorsements from top Maryland Democrats Monday as Democratic candidates in the race for Maryland's next governor hold events across the state.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller are scheduled to appear at a pair of Brown campaign events in Prince George's and Charles counties.
Hoyer released his endorsement remarks, which highlight Brown's military service as an Army Reserves colonel in Iraq and predict Brown "will use his experience and passion to continue bringing jobs and opportunity to all Marylanders."
Miller is also expected to offer his endorsement.
Brown was the first declared Democrat in the 2014 race to succeed Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is term-limited. With little less than a year until next June's primary contest, Brown has secured endorsements from O'Malley, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and 70 elected municipal leaders.
Montgomery County Del. Heather R. Mizeur, who officially joined the race last week, scheduled her first Baltimore campaign event for Monday, taking her team of volunteers to the Goodnow Community Center to read with 200 kids in day camp there. Mizeur plans to hold service-oriented events as campaign stops, including a wetland cleanup at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and painting a hopscotch course at a Silver Spring playground.
Two Republicans, Harford County Executive David Craig and Anne Arundel County Del. Ron George, have also declared for the race. Several other Republican candidates as well as at least one Democrat are also planning to announce bids for governor in the coming months.
Do you know that this candidate's father, Ben Cardin, voted the Glass Steagall wall down, deregulated banks, and initiated empire-building for global corporations with free trade? That is why the US is now crippled, criminal, and corrupt. Do you know that the Maryland Assembly just as with the Federal government has no said a word about tens of trillions of dollars in corporate fraud these few decades and that in fact Maryland has some of the weakest public protection laws in the country against corporate crime. We can not get justice because laws do not define fraud, cap all awards, and give no oversight to corporate behavior. In fact, the Maryland Assembly voted not to investigate what we all know to be a fraud infested corporate tax break system! Maryland is ranked at the bottom nationally for fraud and corruption and lack of transparency says Center for Public Integrity! Ben Cardin was identified for being one of many in Congress guilty of Insider Trading enriching himself on tips for bets in the market.
Now, all this sends the message....do not vote for any pol that is the farm team for this behavior! We have no had a candidate of good character announced as of yet...Jon Cardin and Peter Frosh simply do not see corporate fraud you know...billions of corporate fraud in MD each year. Let's give Michael Greenberger a call...he shouts out and writes about all of this!
Del. Cardin launches attorney general campaign
Erin Cox The Baltimore Sun 10:15 a.m. EDT, July 22, 2013 Baltimore Sun
Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin launched his bid for Maryland attorney general Monday morning with a web video that includes testimonials and recounts legislation Cardin passed in the General Assembly.
"I'm running for attorney general in this rapidly changing world to protect our families, children, our seniors, and I want to make sure that we, as a state, are keeping an eye on the most vulnerable among us," Cardin says in the video.
Cardin joined the legislature in 2003 and most recently worked on legislation to criminalize cyber-bullying and tighten campaign finance laws, as well as a failed bill that would have further regulated speed cameras.
Cardin, a Democrat, is the first candidate to announce his bid for attorney general. Several other state lawmakers are also considering a bid to succeed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who plans to run for governor but has yet to formally join that race.
In the video, Cardin is lauded by fellow Democrats House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, the candidate's uncle.
Maryland neo-liberals are strong supporters of all things that kill the environment. They will vote for corporate profit every time! Monsanto got their support!
You might not have heard of atrazine, but chances are you drank some today. Atrazine is one of the most commonly used pesticides in the United States, and 80 percent of U.S. drinking water contains it.1 Extensive studies have shown that exposure to atrazine causes breast and prostate cancer, reproductive health problems, and various birth defects.2 That's why the European Union banned atrazine in 2004.
We've set up a conference call on Friday, July 26, 12:00 PM with Representative Rep. Cummings's staff where local CREDO activists have a special opportunity to personally explain why it is so important for Rep. Cummings to cosponsor H.R. 2044, a bill that would ban this poison. You will be joined by about a dozen other CREDO activists, and we'll give you everything you need to show your support.
Can you be there for the meeting? Here are the details:
What: Conference Call with Rep. Cummings's Staff
When: Friday, July 26, 12:00 PM
Where: Remote Participation
Click here to RSVP. Rep. Cummings has not yet signed on to sponsor this bill, and we need to make sure that our representatives know that we demand that they protect our health. Even though the EPA and Congress have acknowledged atrazine's dangerous toxicity, both refuse to put our health before corporate profits. Instead of passing a crucial ban on this pesticide, the EPA and Congress continue catering to the interests of foreign atrazine manufacturer Syngenta.
However, H.R. 2044 would stop poisoning our water by banning atrazine in the U.S., so we must make sure that Rep. Cummings knows that we need the Representative to protect our health and cosponsor this important bill.
Click here to RSVP to the conference call with Rep. Cummings's staff on Friday.
We'll make the call easy for you and your fellow CREDO members, and give you everything you need to urge Rep. Cummings to cosponsor H.R. 2044 and ban atrazine in the United States.
Thank you for standing with us.
Josh Kalla, Campaign Manager
Please note that Mosby is just as tied to corporate interests as Bernstein and will only continue to protect corporate crime and government corruption just as Bernstein does.....we need a REAL JUSTICE PERSON IN THIS POSITION!
Marilyn Mosby Makes Baltimore State’s Attorney Bid Official
Posted by Adam Bednar (Editor), June 24, 2013 at 02:50 pm
Marilyn Mosby makes her campaign for Baltimore City State's Attorney official. Marilyn Mosby accused Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein of being ineffective, and said his office’s failure to keep violent criminals off the street were the motivation behind her candidacy.
Mosby, a former prosecutor, will challenge Bernstein in the Democratic primary. She’s the wife of Councilman Nick Mosby, who represents Woodberry, Medfield and parts of Hampden.
"I’m horrified by the crimes that still plague this city, the robberies, the rapes, the burglaries, the murders. This weekend alone… eight people killed, 18 shot in 11 separate incidents," Mosby said. "I’m horrified, and I’m even more horrified by the repeat violent offenders who keep getting off."
Bernstein narrowly defeated former Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy by 1,167 votes in the 2010 primary.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 24, 2014.
We know the problem is the City Council and Baltimore Development so Brandon Scott can look at these two public agencies to see the solution.....you do not declare a war on the poor and working class taking all their assets and allow massive corporate fraud to keep them down and not expect crime and violence.
THAT IS THE PROBLEM!
Baltimore City Council Committee Summons Police Commissioner
Posted by Adam Bednar (Editor), June 24, 2013 at 09:20 pm
Councilman Brandon Scott explains why he wants a Public Safety Committee hearing. Following a weekend where eight people were killed in Baltimore, the City Council would like to know what the police department intends to do about the violence.
Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, asked for a hearing and requested Police Commissioner Anthony Batts appear at the meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday at City Hall.
"The City of Baltimore has made great progress … [addressing] gun violence and other crime in the last five years, and it’s this council’s duty to make sure, as much as possible, that we don’t regress, and that’s why we’re having this hearing on Wednesday,” Scott said during Monday’s regular council meeting.
Councilman Carl Stokes, who represents parts of Remington and Charles Village, was critical of the police’s response, especially a statement made by spokesman Anthony Gulielmi in The Baltimore Sun.
He told the newspaper: “…we’re pretty satisfied with the way the city is headed, violence-wise.”
Although recent violent crime in the city is garnering a good deal of news media attention, some of the most serious crime in North Baltimore is happening at a slower pace than a year ago.
According to the most recent Comstat figures, there has been one less murder, one less shooting and 19 fewer robberies in the Northern District compared to the same time last year. Although there have been two more street robberies reported in the same time period.
We need people to remember that there will be a petition to referenda several issues regarding the City Charter and that includes Term Limits that are retroactive and limited to two terms in office and Recall of politicians found to be corrupt while in office. Also, we will be limiting the Mayor's powers through petition so start organizing your communities for signature gathering as we can easily blow the number requirement out of the water!
What we are seeing is a massive shift of all cost of doing business to the middle/lower class not just for running the government but for sending all tax revenue to boost corporate bottom line. These are Third Way corporate democrats so democratic voters need to know it isn't the democratic party that is failing you, it is the fact that corporate politicians at all levels in Maryland's democratic party have co-opted the party. We simply need the 80% of justice and labor to RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!!
I want to encourage republican voters to do the same...you know your republican pol is just as crony and corrupt as these corporate dems. Send Mr Smith to Washington and your local and state governments so we can reinstate Rule of Law and reverse corporate rule!!!
Lower property taxes but higher fees for city residents City Council approves mayor's $2.4 billion spending plan
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 10:23 p.m. EDT, June 17, 2013
Baltimore residents will pay less in property taxes but more in stormwater and taxi fees under a $2.4 billion budget approved by the City Council on Monday.
The cut will reduce the property tax payments on a home valued at $200,000 by about $140. But the same resident will pay $40 to $120 for stormwater cleanup and a 25-cent fee on each taxi ride — with another water bill hike on the horizon.
The result? The cost of living in Baltimore could go up for many people.
"Hopefully, it'll be a wash for residents," said Councilman Robert W. Curran, who represents Northeast Baltimore. "Obviously, if you have a larger property, and more impervious surface, it's going to be more that you have to pay."
The budget includes a 2 percent raise for city workers, but they will see cuts in their health and pension benefits, and civilian employees will start contributing 1 percent of their salaries to their pensions. Overall, the changes will help close a $30 million projected budget shortfall.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said her budget, which the council approved with few changes, is designed to help the city attract new residents.
"I'm working very diligently to reduce our property tax, so we can have property tax competitiveness with the surrounding jurisdictions," the mayor said Monday. "We're trying to do it in a responsible way that allows us to have a fiscally sound budget but to also plan for investments in the future."
The one part of her spending plan that is still pending is the proposed 15 percent increase in water bills, which the administration has said would raise rates for the typical customer by more than $100 a year. That proposal faces a vote by the city's Board of Estimates later this month.
The $2.4 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 represents about a 3 percent increase from this year. The capital budget is another $1.2 billion, 80 percent of which will go toward updating, maintaining and repairing water and wastewater infrastructure.
The budget allocates $10 million for demolishing vacant homes, $10 million for resurfacing at least 200 miles of roads and $6.5 million to upgrade and operate recreation and after-school centers.
It also includes a new tax on billboards in the city — $15 per square foot for those that change images electronically, and $5 per square foot for those that don't.
While the council let much of the mayor's budget proposal stand, it did reduce the administration's proposed charges for stormwater cleanup, which were required by state law.
The council approved a stormwater fee plan under which homeowners will pay $40 to $120 per year, depending on the amount of paved and other surfaces that allow rainwater to wash pollution into waterways. The council limited the fees for business customers to 20 percent of property taxes — and it approved an 83 percent cut to the administration's proposed rates for religious institutions.
The fees — sometimes derided as a "rain tax" — are designed to pay for stormwater treatment, wetland restoration and other projects aimed at improving Chesapeake Bay water quality.
Only Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents Northeast Baltimore, voted against imposing the fees. He said he was opposed to a state-mandated fee that didn't come with any funding from the state.
"My district is one of the heaviest impacted," he said, referring to small businesses that have large parking lots. "They're going to be hit hard by this."
Even so, Scott said, he was pleased with the budget overall, given the cuts to city services in previous years.
"There are no rec centers closing, which is a great thing," he said. "There are no fire closures, which is a great thing. There are no layoffs, which is a great thing. Employees will actually get a raise. It shows we're starting to come out of the recession, slowly but surely."
But some council members said they were displeased with a requirement that municipal workers would have to start paying into their pensions.
The mayor plans to require Baltimore's non-public-safety workers to contribute another 1 percent of their salaries to the pension fund each year for five years until workers contribute 5 percent. In return, employees would get a 2 percent raise each year for a total raise of 10 percent.
Before Maryland voters get into the seesaw that these corporate pols have planned, that being that when Bush republicans go wild with deregulation and suspended Rule of Law then vote a majority of democrats into office....but wait, that majority simply does the same thing because they are corporate neo-liberals working for wealth and profit just like republicans....so now we will go to republicans because they swear they have changed their ways. WAKE UP PEOPLE....THAT IS FANTASY ISLAND TALKING!!!! Actually both parties are captured by free market, free trade, global empire-building pols that work hard to make the US corporate rule. So, republicans say they will eliminate taxes.....well, they are simply going to sell your sole to the company store faster than these corporate dems. No taxes mean corporations will not be taxed, the rich will not be taxed, and the middle/lower class will have to pay all the tax needed to run government because you know that corporations aren't going to do it. So, republican voters do not be fooled by these no tax pledges because something has to give.
Neo-liberals taxed the middle/lower class out of the ball park because they are doing the same....moving all revenue collection to the middle/lower class while eliminating and I dare say making taxes a gain and not a liability on the corporate account ledger. The neo-liberals are privatizing all that is public just like republicans would....they are ending all War on Poverty and New Deal programs that kill labor and justice just like republicans. So, don't do the seesaw to the republican party but rather get rid of Third Way corporate democrats and run and vote for labor and justice! One exception.....I'd watch Brian Vaeth and Duane Davis as the people's candidate to get rid of all the crony pols even though they are running as republican!
Which taxes would Craig cut as governor? ‘All of ‘em.’
June 06, 2013 at 10:17 pm Maryland Reporter
The Democratic ticket of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman that was announced on Monday fully embraced the record of the O’Malley-Brown administration. Not surprisingly, the two Republicans who launched campaigns for governor this week are running against the O’Malley-Brown record, particularly its tax hikes.
Which taxes would Harford County Executive David Craig cut as governor? “All of ‘em,” said Craig in an interview. “You don’t have to do it all at the same time.”
Craig said he lowered the tax rate seven times in Harford County. He wants to cut taxes so people “stay here and don’t leave.”
He said the sales tax hike from 5% to 6% in 2007 “killed retail on the Eastern Shore,” with customers flocking to Delaware with no sales tax. The increase in the alcohol tax in 2011 forced 12 liquor stores in Cecil County to close, he claimed. And why is Maryland taxing military pensions? he asked.
Del. Ron George, the other announced Republican candidate, promised other tax cuts Wednesday.
Craig said the media puts too much emphasis on the millions in campaign funds Democrats have amassed for the race, 10 to 20 times more than the $200,000 in his campaign account in January.
Because of an expensive primary battle, “the Democrats will have no money left on June 25,” the day after next year’s primary, he said. “It’s all going to be gone.”
Here’s a video of what Craig had to say in Silver Spring, one of eight campaign stops he made this week.
This is classic Baltimore for you....Carl Stokes created an uproar when he sought to reverse a court order that held Ticketmaster fees as too large. Stokes wanted to pass a law protecting those large fees. The outrage was so loud that he is now being cast as wanting to hold Ticketmaster accountable....but look at his cap positions....he is going to allow low cost events by charged 15% while high cost events will only see 5%. Now, who attends events over $150? That's right....yet again the middle/lower class is the money-maker. GET RID OF THIRD WAY CORPORATE AND WEALTH DEMOCRATS....
Ticketmaster Service Charges to Face Regulation in Baltimore
Updated: Thursday, June 6 2013, 10:35 PM EDT Baltimore Sun
Huge service fees that Ticketmaster and other ticket sellers add could soon be reduced for Baltimore events. A Maryland bill has been introduced to stop companies from charging what one council member calls outrageous fees. Currently, Ticketmaster can charge users an extra 25 to 80 percent extra in service fees. Currently, there is not much users can do to avoid the fee, unless they are willing to go to court but that could be changing. On Thursday night at the 8x10 in Federal Hill, people are getting ready for the soulful sounds of The Cris Jacobs Band. But concert-goers were not ready for the $7.90 service fee that Ticketmaster charged on a $12.00 ticket. Councilman Carl Stokes agrees with Ticketmaster customers who feel that the service charges are outrageous. As a result, he has recently introduced the Consumer Protection Bill. The bill would cap surcharges: tickets $50.00 or less could only face an extra charge of 15%, and ticket $150.00 or more t would face a charger no greater than 5%. The bill would also update a law from 1948, which recently helped a Baltimore man win a lawsuit against Ticketmaster. He claimed he was being ripped off by the company’s excessive fees. If the bill passes, the law would force ticketing agencies to clearly show the full price of the ticket upfront.
CWA President Larry Cohen To Senate Dems: Fix The Nomination Process Or Lose Our Support
Posted: 06/03/2013 2:30 pm EDT | Updated: 06/03/2013 3:30 pm EDT HUFFINGTON POST
WASHINGTON -- The head of a major labor union is warning Senate Democrats that those who aren't willing to take on Republicans over the obstruction of presidential nominees -- and deploy the so-called "nuclear option" if necessary for confirmation -- will lose the union's support.
"We're done," a frustrated Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, said on call with reporters Monday. "We have said to them that we are not going to sit back and see these agencies literally fall apart ... We expect them to step up and tell us why we [should] care if on something this moderate -- the ability of the White House to govern -- you're not with us."
Unions and other Democratic allies have long complained about the minority GOP's willingness to block President Obama's nominees in the Senate, from the dozens of judicial appointments that have languished to the stalled nominations to head major federal agencies. Cohen's remarks, however, suggest that Senate Democrats are just as culpable in the nominations mess, as they've so far declined to institute significant rule reform or force up-and-down votes.
The obstruction has been a particular problem for CWA and other unions, as a lack of Senate-confirmed nominees has nearly shut down the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces labor law. With one member's chair set to expire later this summer, the board could lose its quorum if Republicans choose not to clear Obama's nominees, preventing the board from issuing decisions.
Cohen said his message to Democrats is simple.
"Do you care about the fact that our government is not functioning?" Cohen said. "That we have a ridiculous process on nominations? That until this century nominations routinely got floor votes? Are you, the majority party, prepared to take action?"
Cohen said that Democrats should be willing to deploy the so-called "nuclear option," also known as the "constitutional option," a highly controversial move that would allow the majority party to unilaterally end a filibuster and force an up-down vote. Democrats as a whole have so far been loath to do so, worried it would further damage partisan relations.
According to Cohen, CWA has met with the offices of all Senate Democrats in recent weeks to discuss the confirmation issue and press for up-and-down votes.
"Call it nuclear, call it whatever you want, but it's in the Constitution," Cohen said. "Several Democrats would prefer not to do it, but the question is, will they let these agencies die? What will they say to 80 million workers, that they don't care about workers' rights? That we'll put up with a [Consumer Financial Protection Board] that limps along?"
Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest in the country and has plenty of money to support all social programs.....this is why we know that this sequestration is Third Way corporate democrats along with republicans....
Sequester stalls Meals on Wheels programs
By Robert Samuels, Published: May 31
For almost 30 years, First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville has delivered 10 meals a week to homebound seniors who live nearby. But with the sequester leading to a reduction of federal funds next month, the church’s skeletal staff has come to a sad conclusion.
“We’re just going to have to close,’’ said Deanna Lesche, the treasurer for the church’s Meals on Wheels program. Its program used to receive $1,200 each quarter; it will now receive only $1,100 all year. That’s not even enough to pay the cook.
About 37 percent of Americans now say they've felt the sequester's impact. We took a look at who's actually being affected so far.
The sequester will cut 33,000 work-study jobs for college students this fall, and my daughter's among those affected.
Across the country, Meals on Wheels programs are slashing staff, reducing the number of meals delivered or shutting down. The programs receive money through the Older Americans Act, which is filtered through state governments, which divvy up the funds to local agencies based on factors such as size and levels of poverty.
Programs typically provide two hand-delivered meals a day; some make lunches for senior and community centers.
“These meals save me from doing so much work,” said Bruce Campbell, 81, a retired food-service manager and Hyattsville Meals on Wheels client who walks on a prosthetic leg. “Without it, I don’t know. I guess I’d cook for myself.”
Hyattsville’s service isn’t one of the multimillion dollar senior nutrition programs that put on lavish fundraisers. It is run by a 63-year-old church secretary and serves about a dozen clients, some of whom struggle to pay the $2.50 charge per meal. It illustrates the far-reaching consequences of the government impasse on Capitol Hill.
According to March 1 estimates, the sequester will result in a 5 percent decrease in Meals on Wheels programs in Maryland, Virginia and the District. Those cuts are slightly below the national average of 5.6 percent. Wealthier, urban areas fare better.
The cuts in the three jurisdictions threaten nearly 75,000 seniors, according to the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Officials in Montgomery County eliminated an empty position to fund programs until November, while officials in Fairfax County and the District have committed to use their coffers to make up for the loss.
“If this wasn’t happening, we could have used that money for more services,” said Sally White, executive director of Iona Senior Services, which delivers meals to seniors in Northwest Washington. “But you have to make do with what you have.”
Programs that feed seniors were suffering even before the sequester. Federal funding has flat-lined for years, while costs for food and gas have increased, said Jill Feasley, who directs the Meals on Wheels program in Takoma Park. It’s not unusual for programs to have waiting lists.
The organizations have found themselves trying to reimagine how they fund themselves. Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, which serves 1,300 clients in Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties and Baltimore city, has reduced its staff by 5 percent and will deliver food one day less a week.
Other programs have considered serving only frozen meals, Feasley said. Some might hold fundraisers.
Maryland should note that its two Third Way corporate democrats Cardin and Mikulski voted for the cuts....and the voted for all the $3 trillion in corporate tax breaks and these huge farm subsidies.....
Shame on the 28 Democratic senators who voted to cut food stamps!
The Senate voted down an amendment restore $4.1 billion in food stamp cuts. Only 26 senators voted “yes.”
But we can’t blame obstructionist Republicans. Twenty-eight Democrats joined with Republicans to defeat this amendment. If this stands, 500,000 low-income households will lose benefits.
Food Stamps are already being cut as the federal stimulus dries up, and these proposed new cuts—from both parties—will only make it worse.
Please join Social Security Works and Campaign for America's Future by signing our petition to these 28 Senate Democrats, demanding they put low-income families ahead of corporate welfare—and to oppose draconian cuts to food stamps.
Dear Sens. Baucus, Bennet, Cardin, Carper, Coons, Donnelly, Durbin, Feinstein, Franken, Hagan, Harkin, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Johnson, Kaine, Klobuchar, Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson, Pryor, Rockefeller, Shaheen, Stabenow, Tester, Mark Udall and Warner:
Please put low-income families who rely on food stamps ahead of corporate welfare, and vote against draconian cuts to such needed benefits!
Remember, the goal right now in media is to make sure that the only message that gets out is conservative and neo-liberal...both being free market, free trade, global corporations and rule. That is why these same people are rotated through these pundit media outlets. The first theing Obama did when in office is officially end the Fair and Balanced clause for media coverage of the news. It had been ignored in Bush years and Obama made it official.
These are corporate politicians hired by corporations to make sure the only information that gets out is Third Way corporate neo-liberals and conservative. One has to go online to progressive news outlets to hear what most people in America believe.....get rid of global corporations and rule. No one believes we have free market and free trade...US business is crony and criminal. Maryland is corporate rule on steroids so media will only allow those pols chosen by the 1% get media time. This is called State Media and is what you find in second world autocracies.
Think the revolving door to government couldn't get worse? Welcome to the revolving door of State media! GO TO REAL LABOR AND JUSTICE NEWS OUTLETS AND RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!
Michael Steele and the disease of cable commentators as candidates This video shows MSNBC as the TV boneyard of unemployed politicos
By David Zurawik The Baltimore Sun 7:10 p.m. EDT, June 3, 2013
This segment of Chuck Todd's "The Daily Rundown" Monday got more media bounce than usual for the show thanks to MSNBC commentator Michael Steele sounding very serious about running for governor in Maryland.
But to me, it was first and foremost the perfect tableau of the troubled channel as TV boneyard for unemployed politicos.
This video featuring Steele and put-out-to-pasture Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs illustrates not only the reason MSNBC is dying in the ratings, but also the deeper disease of our democracy with cable channels handing over airtime to talking heads who are committed to ideology and partisan political gain, not information, analysis or civic enlightenment.
Listen to Gibbs talking about the "so-called scandals" of the Obama administration -- and, oh yeah, the "trumped-up problems" the president faces. Trumped up by who, his attorney general?
Could Gibbs and David Axelrod, the other cherry atop MSNBC's propaganda sundae, carry any more water for Team Obama? And watch how Steele uses the channel to try and inject himself into Maryland politics. Doesn't MSNBC have any sense of public service?
“I love the idea of service,” Steele told Todd whe asked why he was considering a run.
Steele loves the idea of a paycheck. And MSNBC was one of his last, best hopes after Fox News passed on him. And who knows if MSNBC will renew him. With the ratings misery MSNBC now finds itself in, cuts are certainly not out of the question at renewal time. And why not Steele, who has generated less than zero excitement on the channel?
I hated it when Fox let Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and the smarmy Rick Santorum use its airwaves to essentially campaign. And I hate it that MSNBC is letting Steele have this platform to mess with Maryland's political and civic life.
I know Steele or any Republican becoming governor after Martin O'Malley's term ends is a long shot. But one Bob Ehrlich with his campaign robocalls and attempts to limit press freedom was enough Republican leadership for me in Maryland, thank you very much.
A response to Baltimore ranking high in fitness:
justlooking1 at 11:27 AM May 29, 2013
One would tend to think that Baltimore would be the number 1 fittest city, having to dodge bullets and constantly opening the wallet to keep paying these crooked politicians.
Baltimore Sun and WYPR call next year's Governor's race won by Brown.....and they can do that because they blackout all avenues for challengers to campaign!!!
Maryland is Third Way corporate democratic on steroids and we know we have a Maryland Assembly with leaders for life....we have incumbents who hand their political seat to their children....we have no free and fair election coverage by media outside the wealth Washington suburbs. Challengers actually face threats of harsh retaliation, intimidation, and media blackout in an effort to keep the political status quo! THINK UZBEKISTAN. We know that in previous elections people go to the polls with several candidates running for office that they have never even heard of .....so forget their platforms. The Maryland League of Women Voters says that each election they have debates and forums that media will not attend, will not report, or even link to their websites. THIS IS HOW YOU KILL POLITICS IN AMERICA AND BALTIMORE AND MARYLAND IS GROUND ZERO FOR THIS!
I will introduce two candidates again.....Brian Vaeth for Governor and Duane Davis for Lt Governor on the Republican ticket. We thank the North Baltimore Patch for a nice introduction of Duane Davis in their paper. Brian Vaeth is a former firefighter and current businessman in the greening industry who knows the needs of labor and justice in growing the state's economy. Duane Davis is a businessman and artist well known across the state for his political and social justice activism. He is well-versed in policy and law and will work to restore Rule of Law as regards issues of justice for all people. THESE ARE TWO CANDIDATES THAT COMPLEMENT ONE ANOTHER AND WHO REPRESENT THE POLICIES MOST IMPORTANT TO VOTERS TODAY!
SO WHY DOES PUBLIC MEDIA NOT EVEN MENTION THEM IN THERE LISTING OF CANDIDATES? Third Way corporate democrats say labor and justice is dead.....
Free and Fair elections are just that....each candidate is given a platform from which to gain public recognition and a chance to introduce the public to their policy stances and platform. American media are required to give time for public service announcements. Historically, local talk shows would have all candidates on for discussion of issues over a year long period.....you would have government sponsored town halls for these candidates well publicized and covered. Government is tasked with making sure ELECTIONS ARE FREE AND FAIR.
We will be writing Federal, State, and City Election Boards often to inform them of inconsistencies in FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS!
HERE IN MARYLAND WE HAVE SUCH A CRONY AND CORRUPT GOVERNMENT AT ALL LEVELS THAT THE PEOPLE WILL NEED TO REBUILD POLITICAL ACTIVISM IN THE STATE BUT ESPECIALLY BALTIMORE.
Brian and Duane are running for Governor and Lt. Governor of Maryland as republican candidates. They represent labor and justice and will speak for people not profits!!!
Below you see the announcement of candidacy of two citizens who have experienced this political environment first hand and who both work to make public the injustices in both labor and justice policy in the city and state. Now, I do not like the idea of running as republicans but I do understand that the State Democratic Machine is captured. So, please follow these campaigns and keep an open mind as to how we may need to think out of the box to be rid of criminal and corrupt corporate democrats in the city and state!!!
Duane G. Davis
Brian Vaeth and I been filing the paperwork and lobbying for the Community. We out here hold our ELECTED officials accountable.2013 we gonna STEP up OUR GAME...We taking "Complaints from PRIVATE Citizens and submit them DIRECTLY to ALAN LOUCKS of the DEPT of JUSTICE as well as Doug Gansler to INSURE your complaints voices and concerns are paid attention too.As well as find a resolution.
2014 We gonna make that Change Because we are that CHANGE.
Vaeth and Davis Holding OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE
.By Duane G. Davis0:30 Added about 6 months ago Facebook Page
If people read this bill closely and as the Baltimore Sun said in an earlier article, this bill has loopholes that a MACK truck will drive through so you know the Board of Estimate's finance lawyer Nilson will find just the right wording to circumvent this law just as they do all Baltimore labor laws....such as the Living Wage.
Commenters are right....this is political fluff aimed at the city council's constituents who are being literally killed by public policy. This is yet another bill with a feel good title that will be passed through Baltimore's media as such. THE TRUTH IS IN THE 'EXCEPTIONS'.
The problem is having the city and state handing contracts to national corporations who in turn hire from across the country bringing the lowest wage earners in to work locally. These workers generally do not pay local taxes, they are not paid local wages, and they simply leave to go to the next job......they offer no value to a city while the citizens sit idle. This is not good public policy and the issues around taxes and categorization of workers is often illegal.
Now, republican voters must understand how this is bad for a local economy. It has nothing to do with free market because this market is rigged to corporations with connections and corrupt and fraudulent business practices. FIGHT FOR LOCAL HIRING AND ENFORCEMENT OF LABOR LAWS!!! This is not a black, white, brown issue!
Nilson said the goals of the proposed bill, under which any person who "has a contract with the City for more than $300,000" or "will benefit from more than $5,000,000 in assistance for a City subsidized project" would have to ensure that at least 51 percent of the jobs required for a project be filled by residents of the city, could be accomplished "on an administrative basis" rather than through legislation.
Bill would force contractors to hire city residents Council poised to vote Monday on measure requiring contractors to hire 51% of employees from Baltimore
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 3:42 p.m. EDT, May 12, 2013
The City Council is poised to vote Monday on a bill that would require businesses receiving large city contracts or major financial support to hire 51 percent of new workers from Baltimore — or face sanctions.
"We have the highest unemployment rate in the state," said City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, the bill's lead sponsor. "If a business wants to take our money, at least hire us. As they begin to enrich themselves, enrich the citizens as well."
But the city's law department is challenging the legislation — calling it unconstitutional — and some businesses are objecting to what they believe is a burdensome requirement.
"To be limited to only city residents shrinks the pool of qualified applicants to choose from, which increases the possibility of a bad hire," Peter G. Ligon of general contractor Ligon & Ligon Inc. wrote in a letter opposing the bill. "This bill would increase our liability exposure and costs, and place our current mixture of resident and nonresident employees at risk of unemployment."
Young's bill would apply to a business receiving any city contract worth at least $300,000 or any project that gets at least $5 million in city assistance. It would require 51 percent of new jobs to go to residents of Baltimore. Under the proposal, businesses that do not comply could be barred from receiving city contracts for one year and face a $500 fine.
The proposed legislation comes as city officials struggle to overcome the effects of the nationwide economic downtown. City unemployment remains persistently high. It was 9.6 percent in March — the latest figures available — compared with 5.2 percent in March of 2008.
Young says he expects the measure to pass, noting that a majority of the council has cosponsored the bill.
Fewer than 20 city-supported projects top the bill's $5 million mark, according to the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's quasi-public economic development arm. Some examples include the Clipper Mill development, Harborview Pier Homes, the Baltimore Hilton and Mondawmin Mall, which all benefit from millions in tax-increment financing.
Under such deals, the city issues bonds to pay for some project-related expenses such as property acquisition or infrastructure improvements, then uses the increased property taxes to pay off the debt.
Many more businesses get city contracts in excess of $300,000. Just last week, for instance, the city's Board of Estimates approved the qualifications of nine businesses to receive contracts greater than that amount.
Young said he didn't understand why some organizations were objecting to hiring Baltimore residents.
"Any business that does not want to support that, I would not want to support anything they did," Young said. "This is not anti-business. I've been pro-business, pro-development my whole career. It's the right thing to do."
Waivers could be issued, on a case-by-case basis, under certain conditions, Young said. For instance, if a company could demonstrate it made a "good faith" effort to hire city residents but couldn't find enough with the necessary skills, it could avoid a penalty, the measure states.
Businesses that are located — and perform their work — outside the area also would be eligible for waivers, according to the proposed legislation. For instance, American Eurocopter Corp., which has supplied the police department's helicopters, wouldn't fall under the proposed law because its headquarters and production facility are outside Maryland.
Young said similar local hiring programs in Boston and San Francisco are models for Baltimore. He also noted that the bill would not take effect until six months after it became law.
"We have to get Baltimore to work," Young said. "People are going to be working. You're going to see crime reduced. You're going to have parents buying kids the things they need to go to school. All that stuff triggers a better economy for people who live in the city."
The city's law department has a different view of the bill.
Assistant City Solicitor Ashlea H. Brown wrote in a letter to council members that enacting hiring preferences based on residence would put the city in a "legally indefensible" position and violate the U.S. Constitution's Privileges and Immunities Clause, which bars one state from discriminating against the residents of another. City Solicitor George Nilson said if the council passes the bill and it becomes law, he expects the city will lose any lawsuits filed against it.
"This bill cannot be amended to make it legal," Nilson wrote to Young.
Several organizations, including the Job Opportunities Task Force, Associated Black Charities and the Baltimore Jewish Council, submitted testimony in favor of the bill, citing the benefits of bolstering hiring for city residents.
Joshua Arce, director of the Brightline Defense Project in San Francisco, which advocated for that city's local hiring law, said the nonprofit found "legally sound and viable ways" to counter arguments that such ordinances violate the constitution.
Since Young's bill exempts out-of-state companies and residents, Arce said he believes it does not run afoul of the Privileges and Immunities Clause.
"The push for reform seems to come at a time of stubbornly high unemployment in Baltimore," he wrote in a letter supporting the legislation.
Asked about the bill last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted the concerns of the city's lawyers and local businesses, while emphasizing her administration's support of local hiring. She's signed an executive order — called "Employ Baltimore" — to assist companies in applications for city work if they have hired city residents.
She did not say whether she would veto the bill if it is approved by the City Council.
"The law department has raised concerns. The business community has raised concerns," Rawlings-Blake said. "I'm also respectful of the will of the council and I look forward to working with the council president and the council members.
"At the end of the day, we all support local hiring. ... All of us have the same goal. It's just a matter of how we're going to get there."
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded It’s time to liberate activists from the nonprofit industrial complex
from the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded
March-April 2009 The Utne Reader
The nonprofit system has tamed a generation of activists. They’ve traded in grand visions of social change for salaries and stationery; given up recruiting people to the cause in favor of writing grant proposals and wooing foundations; and ceded control of their movements to business executives in boardrooms.
This argument—that reformers have morphed into cogs in the nonprofit industrial complex—is explained and explored in the fiery anthology The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, edited by the INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence collective (South End, 2007).
One piece of the puzzle: “Foundations provide tax shelters for wealthy families and thereby take away tax income that could be used for social programs and entitlements,” Andrea J. Ritchie, an INCITE! member, told Make/shift. “And then [the foundations] dole out little bits of money for nonprofits to replace the services that the government no longer funds.”
The book brings together 21 experienced radical activists to explore the shortcomings of nonprofits as movement makers; here are excerpts from three chapters. —The Editors
Adjoa Florência Jones de Almeida
Sista II Sista Collective, Brooklyn, New York
What has happened to the great civil rights and black power movements of the 1960s and 1970s? Where are the mass movements of today within this country? The short answer: They got funded. Social justice groups and organizations have become limited as they’ve been incorporated into the nonprofit model. We as activists are no longer accountable to our constituents or members because we don’t depend on them for our existence. Instead, we’ve become primarily accountable to public and private foundations as we try to prove to them that we are still relevant and efficient and thus worthy of continued funding.
This is why Maryland candidates have a tough time running for office under the political party that suits their goals. I hear time and again the need to run outside of the incumbent party.....in Maryland's case a strong Third Way corporate democratic party ......to offer choices for the voters. Many states have this problem with captured party politics......THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WHEN FOLLOWING YOUR CANDIDATES!!!!!
Maryland Independent Party Dissolves Amongst Voter Confusion
By Bianca Ciotti | 09/14/2012 | Elections 2012, Electoral Reform, Featured, States | 17 Comments Read Time: 2 - 3 minutes Share
The Maryland Independent Party, recognized by the state in 2008, has been dissolved due to dormant campaign finances. The state Elections Board voted on June 3rd to withdraw recognition of the party by closing its campaign account. As a result, voters affiliated with the party are free to change their party affiliation for the upcoming elections in November.
The Maryland Independent Party was recognized in 2008 when it campaigned for presidential candidate Ralph Nader. The party has since fallen inactive and they are not supporting a candidate in the current election.
When informed of their dissolution, voters expressed surprise that they were affiliated with the party. On the Maryland voter registration forms, a person may choose to affiliate with a number of parties, including the Independent party, or choose to be unaffiliated. Most voters who chose the “Independent” affiliation believed that they were selecting the non-partisan, or independent option, which Maryland labels as “unaffiliated.”
Unbeknownst to many voters, when they thought they were declaring their independence from the party system, they were actually affiliating themselves with a political party. The Maryland Elections Board has not received complaints about the party’s dissolution, but received complaints from those who believed they were truly independent from the party system.
Mary Wagner, director of of voter registration for the Maryland Elections Board commented:
“People were actually astounded that they were affiliated with a party.”
A cursory search of other states reveals that many have an established “Independent” party. The confusing and bureaucratic process of voter registration may have mistakenly caused people to register under a party which they do not support. Recognized parties vary from state-to-state, as does the jargon on the voter registration forms. Concerned voters across the nation should check their registration and confirm that they are unaffiliated with a party, rather than mistakenly affiliated with an “Independent” party recognized in their state.
THIS IS NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY......LEW, CLINTON'S FORMER STAFFER WHO ORCHESTRATED BREAKING THE GLASS STEAGALL WALL ALSO ORCHESTRATED THE SEQUESTER.....IT WAS NOT ORIGINALLY A REPUBLICAN DEAL. LEW IS SEEKING TO BUST SOCIAL PROGRAMS WITH OBAMA JUST AS HE DID WITH CLINTON!!!!
Lew Skirts Question on Whether He Originated Idea of Sequestration
February 13, 2013 By Melanie HunterSubscribe to Melanie Hunter RSS 17 21 Jacob Lew, President Barack Obama's choice to be treasury secretary, testifies before the Senate Finance Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(CNSNews.com) – When White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, who was nominated to replace Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, was asked Wednesday whether he came up with the idea of using sequestration as leverage in the fight over the budget, he evaded the question.
“It’s a little more complicated than that,” Lew said in testimony at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.
“You said in your testimony that we can’t let sequestration take effect. In Bob Woodard’s book, ‘The Price of Politics’ Woodard credits you with originating the plan for sequestration. Was he right or wrong?” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked Lew.
“It’s a little more complicated than that, and even in his account, it was a little more complicated than that,” Lew said, adding that they were in “negotiation where failure would have meant the default of the government of the United States.”
“I hate to speed it up. Did you make the suggestion?” Burr asked Lew again.
“What I did was said that with all other options closed, we needed to look for an option where we could agree on how to resolve our differences, and we went back to the 1984 plan that Senator Graham and Senator Rudman worked on and said that would be a basis for having a consequence that would be so unacceptable to everyone that we’d be able to get action,” Lew said.
Lew was referring to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Reduction Act of 1985, popularly known as Gramm-Rudman, which was proposed by Republican Sens. Phil Gramm of Texas and Warren Rudman of New Hampshire.
After it was enacted, inflation-adjusted spending grew by only 1.4 percent annually, which is much lower than the 3.6 percent annual growth of the 1970s and four percent annual growth rate between 1980 and 1985, according to a backgrounder from the Heritage Foundation.
The enforcement mechanism of Gramm-Rudman was sequestration – automatic spending cuts required to bring the deficit down to the legally-required level.
“So is it unfair that the president says the blame is on House Republicans—that they originated it? It’s what he said,” Burr asked Lew.
“Senator, the demand for an enforcement mechanism was not something that the administration was pushing at that moment. Our preferred outcome would have been to have there be something on taxes and something on spending,” Lew said.
“It was unacceptable for the other parties for taxes to be part of it, and the only spending, only alternative that anyone could think of that could be agreed to was sequestration, precisely because it’s so objectionable that nobody could imagine it,” Lew added.
“I heard your testimony today that it shouldn’t take effect,” Burr said. He then quoted President Barack Obama in a speech on Nov. 21, 2011.
“Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message is simple: No, I’ll veto any effort to get rid of these automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off-ramps on this one,” the president said at the time.
“What’s changed?” Burr asked Lew.
“The rest of what he said was Congress should work on putting in place policies that make sense to get our fiscal house in order. That is consistent with what he said last night. It’s consistent with what I believe. This is not an impossible problem to solve. It would be better for the country if we have an agreement on a framework for solving our fiscal problems and not going into sequestration,” Lew answered.
“Do you regret suggesting sequestration?” Burr asked Lew.
“Senator, I look back at a time when a lot of people thought we were going to default. That was not an acceptable option, and I think it should not have been the case that the good faith and credit of the United States was at issue, but that was what was at issue, and I think we had a solution that frankly should still work. Sequestration is so objectionable that we ought to just do our work and solve the problem,” Lew replied.
Raise your hand if you think O'Malley, Rawlings-Blake and Third Way corporate democrats are interested AT ALL in the environment! That's right..no one. These environmental bills are simply fluff for O'Malley to use in his national campaign. We will watch as very quickly businesses will get all kinds of reprieve from this tax..a TIFF etc..while the tax hits residents. This is simply an additional tax for revenue targeted at the middle/lower class and hardly any of it will be designated for the Bay. If you notice this RAIN TAX will erase any of the property tax decrease Rawlings-Blake has promised. Also notice that the GREENING granting that is all the craze to where you will see this money go is riddled with fraud. Think about Balt's development right on the water's edge..nothing about that is sustainable for goodness sake! THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS ARE NOT GREEN....THEY ARE CORPORATE AND PROFIT.
So we will see the proceeds from this tax move into the 'greening' grants that will find its way to the same 1% that use these funds for profits. Check the LEEDS operation to see it has a reputation equal to the SEC..it works with business to give greening credentials to anything in order to move the grant money to the developer. It is another scam.
Now, Marye Pat knows Baltimore does not charge businesses anything in revenue. That is why government coffers are starved!
Councilwoman challenges city's stormwater fee plan
Environmentalists question why stormwater funds will help fund property tax cutsBaltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke speaks at a council meeting. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna / June 11, 2012)
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 8:12 p.m. EDT, May 5, 2013
A city councilwoman is challenging Baltimore's plan to charge businesses some of the highest stormwater fees in the state — and divert some of the money that had gone to Chesapeake Bay cleanup to help fund property tax cuts.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke says the Rawlings-Blake administration's stormwater plan would create a financial hardship for many local businesses. And Clarke and environmental groups object to raising revenue intended for pollution abatement to help pay for property tax relief.
"With all due respect, that's really not the purpose of the fund," Clarke said.
Clarke, vice chairwoman of the committee considering the mayor's stormwater proposal, has introduced amendments that would phase in the fees — decreasing the charges for businesses by about 45 percent in the first year.
She says she's concerned that some businesses would otherwise have to pay tens of thousands of dollars and could be forced to lay off workers or move out of the city. To replace the money the city wouldn't collect from stormwater fees, Clarke has proposed about $12 million in budget cuts primarily to administrative and street-sweeping costs.
"We're dealing with a fee that, in some quarters, is of grave concern," Clarke said. "I'm extremely concerned that we stay comparable with other jurisdictions."
Stormwater fees — often pilloried as a "rain tax" — have been the subject of public debate in recent weeks. On the last day of the General Assembly session, some state legislators tried to postpone the entire program. Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman vetoed her county's fee plan, only to have her decision overridden by the county council last week. Some Carroll County commissioners have said they are against creating a fee as well.
At issue is money to combat the pollution that comes from rainwater when it streams off buildings, pavement and roads. The water picks up pollutants from sewage, animal feces and other sources as it heads into waterways that flow into the Bay.
Maryland lawmakers last year passed legislation requiring 10 local governments, including Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford counties, to establish a stormwater program with dedicated fees by July 1.
The fees are meant to fund efforts such as planting trees along streams to soak up runoff or creating wetlands that capture the bay-fouling nutrients in the water. The fees also would pay for restoring streams degraded by development-induced erosion.
The law gives localities the flexibility to set their own rates.
Many local governments are basing fees on the amount of "impervious" surface — such as roofs, driveways and parking lots. The fees would be included in water or property tax bills or new stormwater bills.
Under the Rawlings-Blake administration's plan, single-family homes would be charged $48 to $144 a year, while larger properties would have to pay $72 per 1,050 square feet per year.
Some criticism in Baltimore has centered on the city's plan to use a portion of the money raised by the fees to help pay for tax cuts.
Baltimore currently spends about $10 million in general funds on stormwater management. The administration's new stormwater fee would raise $28 million next fiscal year. Instead of adding that to the $10 million, the city would take about $6.7 million of the general fund money and use it to help pay for property tax cuts, officials said.
The city's budget director, Andrew W. Kleine, emphasized the city's long-term $750 million structural deficit and the need to improve city finances while bolstering stormwater infrastructure.
"The whole concept of a utility is to pay for a service," he said. "To say we should continue to fund these services from the general fund, given the serious funding issues we have, to me that doesn't make a lot of sense."
Rawlings-Blake has said that by raising more money from nonprofits and companies, the city can lower property taxe rates and attract more people to live in Baltimore.
But the state law requiring municipalities to begin charging a stormwater fee says the money collected should be added to any money already being spent for the purpose.
"The funds disbursed under this subsection are intended to be in addition to any existing state or local expenditures for stormwater management," the law states. "Money in a local watershed and restoration fund may not revert or be transferred to the general fund of any county or municipality."
I'm not crazy about Nick Mosby but this is time for anyone BUT Bernstein.
Report: Marilyn Mosby To Challenge State’s Attorney Bernstein
Marilyn Mosby is the wife of Councilman Nick Mosby who represents parts of Hampden and Medfield.
Email Print Comment Upload Photos and Videos Marilyn Mosby, the wife of Councilman Nick Mosby, wants to carry on the family tradition of defeating incumbents.
Marilyn Mosby will challenge Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein in next year’s Democratic primary, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Marilyn Mosby has launched a website that does not indicate which office she will be seeking, and has also registered a campaign finance committee, Friends of Marilyn Mosby, with the state board of elections.
Bernstein, of Roland Park, defeated former State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy in 2010. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has been a supporter of Nick Mosby and appeared at his fundraiser last month, was also a supporter of Jessamy.
According to his annual campaign finance report, Bernstein has $149,326 on hand in his campaign account. His campaign spent about $155,000 to his previous race that he won by 1,167 votes.
Nick Mosby defeated former Councilwoman Belinda Conaway in the 2011 Democratic primary.
For those who think the subprime mortgage settlement of $25 billion was about justice.....here in Maryland, home of O'Malley and Rawlings-Blake it was all about balancing the State budget and padding developers pockets. Remember the banks paid this parking ticket of a settlement and they are the developers getting most of it back in these development deals!!!! THESE ARE ALL THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS....IT IS DISGUSTING!!
It is important to know that for those victims of the subprime mortgage fraud who are still awaiting justice ...... this is towards what the initial parking ticket award of $1 billion is being applied. We watched as O'Malley and Gansler used as much as $700 million of that settlement to balance the State budget. We watched as the funds for refinancing underwater loans are used to buy down costs for new mortgages for homeowners in East Baltimore.
Now, we watch as the subprime mortgage fraud settlement pays for the demolition costs for the developer who will build in these newly cleared areas. This is subprime mortgage money paying for this 'surge' in demolition all to add to corporate profit at the expense of the people who were allowed to be defrauded. It's pretty pitiful.
Pless Jones is a favorite not only for his campaign contributions but as I understand he will not allow union workers and does allow undocumented workers so he keeps labor costs low.
- Friday, April, 26th, 2013 26
. Mark Reutter April 25, 2013 at 1:20 pm
P&J’s specialty: knocking down vacant rowhouses, here in East Baltimore.
Photo by: Mark Reutter
The Board of Estimates yesterday approved a $3 million slug of fresh demolition work to P&J Contracting Co. despite the company’s non-compliance with minority and women hiring standards.
Since 2008, the company owned and operated by Pless B. Jones has received the more than $25 million from the city and city-controlled entities, gaining a predominant place in the teardown of vacant houses and emergency building demolitions.
Among its numerous contracts, P&J handles the demolition work for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s “Vacants to Value” program and for East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI), including the recent razing of 247 vacant houses to make way for the Johns Hopkins Partnership School on East Ashland Avenue.
Thomas B. Corey, chief of the minority and women’s business opportunity office, said P&J has been out of compliance for about a year with the city’s MBE (minority business enterprise) and WBE (women’s business enterprise) goals.
Violations in 2008
This wasn’t the first time P&J Contracting was found in violation. In 2008, the firm was criticized for missing minority goals on a $4 million contract to tear down the Uplands apartment complex in West Baltimore.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake, then the city council president, voted to go ahead with the contract, saying she wanted the long-delayed Uplands project to proceed.
Under prodding from City Solicitor George Nilson yesterday, Corey defended P&J by saying there were extenuating circumstances, such as the illness of one of the minority contractors, Phipps Construction.
Keith Adams told the board that his company, K&K Adams, should be awarded the $3 million contract renewal because he was in full compliance with the hiring goals.
P&J razed more than 200 vacant properties along Ashland Avenue for the site of a Johns Hopkins-sponsored public school. St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church is in the background. (Photo by Mark Reutter)
Timothy M. Krus, city purchasing agent, disagreed, saying P&J was given the renewal because its original bid, made in 2010, was lower than K&K Adams. As a result, P&J will be the “first call” on demolition work requested by the Housing Department, and K&K Adams the “second call.”
Under the fund allocations published in the board’s agenda, P&J will receive all $3 million and K&K Adams no money. However, Krus said Adams would get “some work” out of the contract.
After the meeting, Adams said that he has received about $1 million of the $15 million allocated for demolition work since 2010.
Pless Jones, who did not appear at yesterday’s meeting and did not respond to questions submitted to him by The Brew, is one of the most active political players in the city.
As president of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, he engineered the hiring of former Mayor Sheila Dixon as the group’s marketing director after Dixon was forced to resign as mayor in 2010 following her corruption conviction.
Pless Jones (left) hosted Mayor Rawlings-Blake at a Maryland Minority Contractors banquet at Martin’s West in July 2011. (Photo by Mark Reutter)
Jones’ company contributed the maximum $4,000 allowable under election laws to the 2011 campaign of Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
He and his then-wife, lobbyist-lawyer Lisa Harris Jones, have organized fundraising events for the mayor and other city politicians.
Demolition “Surge” Planned
P&J is in line for a substantial increase in business. In her 2014 budget, Mayor Rawlings-Blake is proposing a $10 million “surge” of vacant house demolition.
The surge, which would apparently supplement yesterday’s appropriation, is aimed at clearing thousands of vacant houses, many of them owned by the city. Details of the program have not yet been released or submitted to the City Council.
Rawlings-Blake did not attend the portion of yesterday’s meeting that approved the P&J contract because she was preparing for the formal release of a report by the Mayor’s Council on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
The advisory council yesterday recommended various improvements to the city’s minority and women-owned enterprise program, “creating a platform for the program’s future direction,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
Among the members of the advisory council: Lisa Harris Jones and Robert Fulton Dashiell, counsel for P&J Contracting.
RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU ARE SICK AND TIRED OF OUR CITY COUNCIL LEADERS COMING OUT AGAINST SOMETHING ONCE IT IS EXPOSED......LIKE THEY DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS HAPPENING ALL THE WHILE!!!!
GET RID OF THESE THIRD WAY CORPORATE POLS AND RUN AND ELECT LABOR AND JUSTICE!!!
City Council president calls for review of rape investigations Move comes as city looks to revamp protocols and review cases in wake of Sun report
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun 7:27 p.m. EDT, July 12, 2010
City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young introduced a resolution Monday night calling for law enforcement officials to explain to the council the "factors behind Baltimore's troublingly high percentage of reported rape cases" that are categorized as false or baseless.
The Baltimore Sun reported last month that Baltimore has for years led the country in the percentage of rape cases deemed "unfounded" by detectives — police parlance for saying the victims were lying. Moreover, four in 10 calls to 911 for rape don't generate a report at all.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has already asked a panel of law enforcement officials and victim advocates to review the department's policies and procedures, and a team of detectives is expected to review 18 months' worth of data. The city also established a hot line for victims to call to report complaints in rape investigations.
The resolution calls for representatives from the Police Department, state's attorney's office and Mayor's Office on Criminal Justice to discuss the issue and the city's response.
Where we want all Democratic candidates at all levels challenged as the party pols are crony and corporate, we want a fresh face in these races and a 25 year veteran of a corrupt system fails in that. We want both of these pols to retire and help their communities as volunteers. We expect to see labor and justice candidates challenging all these democrats as we move the party from corporate pockets to public interest! If your labor and justice organization is not running candidates against these democrats they are not working for you and me. We need leadership in or organizations that will fight for political voice!!!!
Early birds are first to file for 2014; Nathan-Pulliam to challenge Jones-Rodwell for Senate April 09, 2013 at 11:02 pm Maryland Reporter
Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam
Tuesday was the first day candidates could file for the 2014 election, and 11 candidates took the plunge, including four Montgomery County legislators filing as a team for reelection.
The juiciest tidbit from the filings posted daily by the State Board of Elections was Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a 20-year veteran Democrat currently representing Baltimore County District 10, filing to run for state Senate in the redrawn District 44 currently represented by Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell.
The new district, allegedly designed to preserve a Senate seat for the city, crosses the city line and is actually dominated by a two-member delegate district in Baltimore County. That is an area Nathan-Pulliam has long represented as part of the old District 10 and where she has been the top vote-getter in the Democratic primary. See district maps below.
Nathan-Pulliam could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
UPDATE: But the delegate did call on Wednesday, noting that there are about 80,000 residents of District 44B, compared to 40,000 city residents in 44A. “That’s a very positive piece for me,” Nathan-Pulliam said.
“I’m no stranger to Baltimore City,” she said, noting that when she was first elected to the legislature she lived in the city. “I own two businesses in the city.”
Nathan-Pulliam, a nurse, owns an adult medical day care center in Baltimore and a personal care center.
She said she will be running on a ticket with Del. Emmet Burns and Rainier Harvey, who also filed yesterday.
UPDATE AND CORRECTION: Other candidates who filed for election include all the incumbent Democrats in Montgomery Count’s District 14: Sen. Karen Montgomery, Dels. Anne Kaiser, Eric Luedtke and Craig Zucker. New candidates filing for delegate were: Don Engel, D-District 11, Baltimore County; Jordan Cooper, D-District 16, Rockville; Maria Triandos, D-District 30A, Annapolis; Baltimore attorney Chris West, R-District 42B, Baltimore County; and Rainier Harvey, D-District 44B, Baltimore County..
Dawit H. Gebreyesus of Potomac filed for Congress in the 4th Congressional District.
Monday night as part of a campaign finance reform bill, the legislature reset the filing deadline for the June 24, 2014 primary. It will now be Feb/ 25 next year, replacing April 9, 2014.
Hat tip to Matt Proud for the heads up on Facebook about the Board of Elections filings.
The city is proposing to make their group, along with Teach for
American and numerous other local organizations, compete for a single
$500,000 fund administrated by the Family League, he said.
“What our children need, besides the basics of reading and math, is
real love,” said one of about 40 people who came to represent the
program, Burnett Davis.
There is plenty not to like as to the kinds of complaints citizens have as regards public interest and the budget ..... we thank Trueheart and others for shouting out. I want to highlight two things in this article. First is what the Expericorp claim as unfair competition. What we see in Baltimore is a complete takeover of all communities and non-profits by Americorp.....student VISTAS. They are often college students from out of town who come into communities with a goal handed to them by the powers that be....mostly Johns Hopkins. Teach for America is the same thing...recent college grads doing service in lieu of a real job. These are not bad people they are simply not the community!!!!! What I see with this Expericorp are more instances of seniors being from the communities in which they volunteer.....which is the point of public service!!
These policies are a deliberate attempt to take away from a community the ability of residents to grow their own leaders, push their own policy issues, and captures all ability to network.....which is the point!
Hardy – and heart-rending – perennials come up at Taxpayers’ Night
Kim Trueheart and Jack Young square-off and residents sound-off about high water bills, taxes and a host of other problems. Fern Shen April 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm Baltimore Brew
Burnett Davis, team leader for Experience Corps at Lakeland Elementary School, asked the city not to eliminate “a program that works.”
There were tearful pleas, biblical references and a sharp exchange between City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and activist Kim Trueheart.
Some came to Taxpayers’ Night at Baltimore’s War Memorial Building last night to seek a reversal of specific program cuts – such as the $175,000 reduction in city funding that would threaten Experience Corps, which places senior citizen volunteers in city schools.
Others decried what they saw as too-high taxes, money wasted, spending unaudited – and connected the problem to painful program cuts and poor city services.
“I’m talking on behalf of single parents and people losing their houses because of water bills. They can’t take these increasing water bills and increased taxes,” said Deborah Davis, of southwest Baltimore.
“Where’s all that money going? Is it supposed to be going to the streets? To the schools? To the fire departments that are being closed?” she said, speaking to a group of about 150 people who came for the city’s annual charter-mandated public hearing on the budget.
“I Can’t Figure Out the Math”
Many made comparisons to Baltimore County. “We pay the highest taxes but get the least amount of services,” said Anthony Smith, to applause.
Cynthia Rogers-Swann, of Tremont, complained that people in the county pay one third of what she pays in water bills for households with two times more people: “I can’t figure out the math!”
One woman, Michelle Mitchell of Ashburton, broke down crying as she told the officials how the home she had inherited from her parents had gone to a tax sale over a property tax bill.
“I pay my bills on time,” she said, explaining a case that one of her supporters, Rhonda Wimbish, said had to do mostly with miscommunication by city agencies. (City Finance Director Harry E. Black, approached her after the meeting, gave her his card and said he would speak with her.)
Uh, WHAT Year is This?
The hearing is part of the process city government churns through each year to approve the budget, a $3.5 billion spending plan for 2014 that includes a $2.4 billion operating budget.
By tradition, none of the officials interact with the public.
“We are here to listen,” said Young, presiding over a group of officials that included Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Comptroller Joan Pratt, Public Works Director Alfred Foxx, City Solicitor George Nilson and Budget Director Andrew Kleine.
Or, wait a minute, was it the 2013 budget they were working on?!
Activist Mike McGuire said he hadn’t planned on speaking but decided to, when he saw that the booklet being handed out at the entrance was titled “Citizen’s Guide to the Fiscal 2013 Budget.”
“Why am I at a hearing on the 2014 budget and there is no information available on that budget?” McGuire said, going on to criticize the city for abruptly canceling two of three other previously scheduled citizen taxpayer public meetings.
Trueheart Speaks, and Speaks Again
His comments didn’t get a rise out of Young, but some of Trueheart’s actions did. She spoke for her allotted three minutes, then rose again later when two other names were called, saying they had yielded their time to her. She got another three minutes.
When it happened again, Young put his foot down.
“How many people on this sheet gave their time to Ms. Trueheart?” he said. “We’re not playing games here.” A couple of people raised their hands.
“They should have said that from the start,” Young said.
“I’m not playing games,” Trueheart shot back, telling him he should “not change the rules.”
During her time at the microphone, Trueheart complimented the city for closing a projected $30 million shortfall, asked them to explain their plans for a $10 million transportation windfall and criticized what she called an excessively bloated” budget for the city police department.
Decreasing it by $10% could generate $35 to $45 million “that could go to children,” she said.
“All Youth are not out to do Bad”
The plight of city youth was a theme that echoed through the evening.
Tyrone Barnwell, an organizer with the Safe and Sound Campaign, made a plea for more summer job funding. “Give them something to do,” he said. “All youth are not out to do bad things.”
But the most organized group speaking up for young people was composed of older people: the senior citizen volunteers with Experience Corps.
Through the AARP-sponsored group, 290 volunteers go into city schools where they give young elementary-school children instruction in math and reading and give classroom teachers needed support.
The group successfully lobbied for a restoration of city funding last year, but this year faces “a serious question mark” in the 2014 preliminary budget, said Bill Romani, director of the Baltimore branch of Experience Corps.
The city is proposing to make their group, along with Teach for American and numerous other local organizations, compete for a single $500,000 fund administrated by the Family League, he said.
“What our children need, besides the basics of reading and math, is real love,” said one of about 40 people who came to represent the program, Burnett Davis.
A team leader for Experience Corps at Lakeland Elementary School, Davis said he works with 12 volunteers, ten women and two men who come for 15 hours a week (“They all really stay for longer”).
“They help the children with problem sets, reading. They mentor them one-on-one or in groups,” he said. “They go to the cafeteria and the playground, two of them are on crutches.” Additionally, he said, ESOL teachers help 185 students struggling to improve their English.
“Children crave for this kind of contact,” he said, going on to quote Corinthians on the subject of what love is: “Love thinketh no evil, bears no malice.”
Romani offered the citywide statistics: their 290 volunteers, averaging 68 years old, spends over 156,000 hours annually serving 6,200 children in 25 schools.
He noted that earlier yesterday in a City Hall ceremony, the mayor herself recognized the program for measurable success in improving attendance and classroom performance.
“This is a program that is successful,” he said.
What needs to happen Mike Miller is for the public to be able to petition to referendum fiscal issues as well. One of the major objections to this bill was the move to require double and triple the signatures for the petition to go to referendum something he didn't address. These online petitions could quickly have signatures verified if the State were proactive in developing a database that connects voter registrations to these petitions that only need be scanned. So, the fact that verifying is cumbersome is false.
As we all know this bill is aimed more at localities and the ability to petition local government elections. Baltimore County and Baltimore City pols both shouted loudly for these changes as they know citizens are going to petition to make charter changes. So it will be back before the next election and you need to let your pol know that at both state and local levels.....we do not want our rights hindered by restrictions to citizen's rights to voice on legislation! These Third Way corporate democrats are not working for their constituents when they work to restrict citizen activism.
Raise your hand if you see Maryland politics as crony......that's right....everyone. We want more citizen opportunities in the political process not less.
Here we have Third Way corporate democrats pushing to make petitioning to referendum harder for Maryland citizens. You notice that Joan Carter Conway from Baltimore is leading this effort. It is the prospect of just such petitions in Baltimore's next elections that have democrats pushing this. Whereas the republicans have made legislation more challenging with these petitions, most times the issues generate a lot of political activism on both sides which is not bad for politics.....it is good.
Referendum changes still awaiting action in House committee
March 26, 2013 at 11:04 pm
By Glynis Kazanjian
The chairman of the election law subcommittee handling controversial changes to the referendum and petition process said Tuesday that the bill isn’t dead, despite the fact that it awaits action by the subcommittee and would need numerous amendments to make it palatable to stakeholders.
But with just 13 days left in the 90-day session, Election Law Subcommittee Chairman Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, conceded, “The chances of it moving have decreased.”
“No action has been taken,” Cardin said in a phone interview. “We’ve been trying to work with all of the different stakeholders to come up with something that we could all work with.”
The bill, HB 493, has been criticized as an attempt at “voter suppression” for applying stricter standards to the collection of signatures and other aspects of petition drives.
Cardin said there still is a chance the bill could move, and after numerous discussions with all interested parties, he said the legislation would be smaller, less controversial and more bipartisan.
Senate committee waiting on the House
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City, chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, SB673, said the committee was “waiting on the House.”
“That’s a good government bill,” Conway said. “If they don’t send us something, we may send them something.”
The legislation was introduced as a reaction to last year’s three petition drives that sought to overturn laws passed by the legislature on same-sex marriage, immigrant college tuition and congressional redistricting.
It has been harshly criticized for its name — The Referendum Integrity Act — and the leader of the Legislative Black Caucus called it an attempt at voter suppression.
In its current form, the legislation opens the door for thousands of referendum petition signatures to be disqualified through numerous administrative guidelines and stipulations. (See previous story.)
Campaign finance disclosure required
The bill also calls for campaign finance entities to be set up for each petitioned bill, requires training for petition circulators and prohibits petition collectors from being paid based on the number of signatures collected.
A tailored version of the bill, according to one stakeholder, would eliminate many of the petition signature disqualifiers and keep the transparency components of the bill.
“Common Cause Maryland believes that transparency in any political spending is critically important, so we do support the bill moving forward that contains the financial reporting element,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “It would [also] be imperative that the amendments eliminate the restrictions on petitioning.”
Let's see, we have a bill to raise the minimum wage out of the stone ages so people can pay for housing; you have massive mortgage fraud that took tens of thousands of Maryland homes to foreclosure yet to have justice as billions more need to come to Maryland and then to the victims of the fraud.....giving them homes; you have charter schools in underserved schools and development corporations using schools and housing to gentrify large swaths of urban communities all of which violates all equal housing/education laws. You have Enterprise Zone contracts that detail requirements for underserved families being built into projects being totally ignored by developers with no followup by justice because no oversight is given.....
WHO THINKS THIS BILL FORCING LANDLORDS TO TAKE SECTION 8 IS JUST A CAMPAIGN GIMMICK FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLS WANTING HIGHER OFFICE? EVERYONE!!!!!
Senate sends housing discrimination bill back to committee March 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm
By Ilana Kowarski
A bill that would prohibit landlords from screening prospective tenants based on their source of income was sent back to a Maryland Senate committee after three days of floor debate over whether landlords should be allowed to exclude those on public assistance. The 23-22 vote likely dooms the bill this session.
Advocates of the legislation said that it would encourage poor Marylanders to move out of ghettos and into communities with greater resources and superior schools, giving them a head-start in the race towards the American Dream.
The law’s opponents said that it would herald an era where businesses were forced to participate in voluntary social welfare programs and that a universal mandate to accept government housing vouchers like those in the Section 8 program would place a heavy financial burden on landlords.
The vote to return SB487 to the Judicial Proceedings Committee was extremely close, with 23 in favor and 22 opposed. Senate President Mike Miller took the side of those who thought the legislation was not ready for passage.
“Members of my party are not happy with me right now,” Miller said, “but this is not the time to decide on this legislation.”
Sen. Thomas Mac Middleton
Bill needs work, Miller says
Miller said that senators needed to work out kinks in the bill, and that it was probably too late for them to correct all the problems with it, since the session ends in less than two weeks. He also questioned whether it was appropriate to pass statewide legislation requiring landlords to participate in Section 8 and other public assistance programs.
Charles County Democrat Thomas Mac Middleton said that the goals of the bill were laudable but that he could not support it in its current form, because landlords would not be allowed to evict Section 8 tenants if the federal government refused to pay rent increases, reduced housing payments, or halted the distribution of rent checks during the sequester.
Middleton said that the bill might even be counterproductive.
“If an apartment complex owner has 100 units and 100 people show up with Section 8 vouchers, the owner would be required to accept all of them, and you’d end up with a building that was 100% Section 8,” he said. “One of the goals of this legislation is to decentralize poverty, but if this scenario happens, haven’t you defeated the purpose?”
Sen. James Rosapepe, D-Prince George’s, said that the authors of SB 487 set out to accomplish their goal in a backwards fashion. He acknowledged that needy Marylanders frequently had difficulty finding landlords that would accept their housing vouchers but argued that there is a better solution.
“The housing authority needs to find ways to attract landlords to the Section 8 program,” Rosapepe said. “Instead this bill uses a very blunt instrument, forcing businesses to take part in a government program, and that’s unprecedented. We don’t force doctors to participate in Medicaid, and we shouldn’t do this either.”
Bill not likely to return
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), said that he was disappointed by the resistance of his fellow senators.
“The bill is unlikely to resurface this session because of the time crunch,” he said.
Raskin argued that his opponents’ arguments were misleading.
“The unfortunate part of the debate was that it was cast as a conflict between tenants and landlords, and we heard testimony from landlords in Montgomery County and other places with laws like this one, and they had positive experiences with Section 8.”
There were other senators who tried to stop SB 487 from being referred back to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, including committee chairman Brian Frosh, who urged senators to take a stand on the law rather than sending it back.
Sen. Roger Manno, D- Montgomery, also objected to the bill’s return.
“This bill is about discrimination,” he said. “It’s unconscionable to send it back to committee.”
Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2013/03/27/senate-sends-housing-discrimination-bill-back-to-committee/#ixzz2OqsOhC8v
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
DO YOU HEAR YOUR INCUMBENT SHOUTING LOUDLY AGAINST PRIVATIZATION OF ALL OF MARYLAND'S PUBLIC ASSETS? NONE OF THEM!!!!!
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!!!!
Privatization Limits Access to Public Information Thursday, 21 March 2013 10:04 By Louisa Abada, In the Public Interest | Report
Companies looking to take control of public services are winning government contracts for a wide array of services ranging from state prisons to local water systems to public schools, and often without much public oversight.
Private contractors are circumventing open records and sunshine laws as state and local governments push to privatize public services. For example, for-profit prison contractors are escaping scrutiny about prison conditions, financial information about government services that was once public such as management salaries and employee wage rates becomes “proprietary information” exempt from disclosure and even the names of corporations bidding to take control of public services are kept from the public. In Allentown, Pennsylania, the Mayor refused to release the identities of potential contractors that responded to his proposal to privatize the water system.
A 2012 report by In the Public Interest, demonstrates the real world consequences of privatization on government transparency. Recent examples show that some states are taking steps to strengthen their open records laws, while others are failing to protect public information.
In both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the governors’ efforts to privatize the states’ lottery systems have been rushed, top-down approaches occurring outside of the public’s view. In Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett went so far as to award the operations contract to the sole bidder, Camelot Global Services, without full input from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the General Assembly. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected by the state’s attorney general.
As companies continue to evade transparency laws, demands for transparency are increasing. Recent court rulings across the country have ruled in favor of increased transparency of government contracting.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that the for-profit prison giant, Corrections Corporation of America, must make public certain documents that they previously refused to disclose, including reports and audits in which they had been found in violation of their contracts and lawsuit settlements where the company had to pay damages.
The Florida circuit court ruled that Aramark, the company that took control of housekeeping and maintenance services at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, must divulge information regarding the number of formerly public employees that were offered positions with the company following the privatization effort.
Stronger open records laws and more transparency would render these court cases unnecessary.
Several states are taking action to protect access to information and public input in the contracting process. Virginia recently passed a bill that requires contractors engaging in public-private partnerships for transportation services to make their proposals readily available to the public. New Mexico legislators are advancing legislation that would require large government contractors to disclose their political contributions and post them on the state’s Sunshine Portal.
Federal and state-based open records and sunshine laws are essential accountability protections and help ensure that public services operate in our best interests. The more we privatize, the less we know and the less control we have over our public services. Stronger open records laws are the right step towards maintaining that control.
Progressive Caucus-----vote for the 'People's Budget'
You can see all of the democratic leadership are Third Way.....Hoyer, Van Hollen, and Ruppersberger voted against.
A list of those Democrats who voted against the CPC budget, which included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), can be found here.
FOR ANYONE THAT DOUBTS THAT THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS ARE TAKING YOU TO THE CLEANERS WITH ALL THIS MANUFACTURED CRISIS THEY HAD ONLY TO IGNORE THE DEBT CEILING LAST YEAR AND THEY WOULD NOT HAVE HAD SEQUESTRATION.....
THEY HAVE IT BECAUSE THEY WANTED IT!!!
The Politics of the 14th Amendment and the Debt Limit
By BRUCE BARTLETT Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take.”
In 2011, Republicans in Congress drove the nation to the very brink of defaulting on the national debt. During that debate, a number of conservatives argued that default was no big deal — that the debt was so terrible that default was a reasonable option to be considered. Although few Republicans agreed with this position, probably all agreed with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, that the debt limit was a hostage worth ransoming to force President Obama to surrender to their demands.
The most recent debt-limit extension was enacted in January and expires on May 19. On March 12, Senator McConnell signaled that he again planned to hold it hostage to Republican demands that programs to aid the poor and elderly be slashed.
In a March 13 interview with the radio host Sean Hannity, the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said repeal of the Affordable Care Act might be the ransom that will have to be paid for raising the debt limit. “Do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States government over Obamacare?” he said. “That’s a very tough argument to make.”
In 2011, a number of respected legal scholars asserted that a little-known provision of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution essentially invalidated the debt limit. That provision states:
Sec. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Other scholars contended that this constitutional provision was archaic, that it related to factors specific to the post-Civil War period and had no present-day relevance. On the contrary, I believe a careful review of the circumstances surrounding enactment of the 14th Amendment shows a great deal of similarity to those today.
Such a review was recently done by Franklin Noll, a historian who is a consultant to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and posted on the Web site of the Social Science Research Network.
Mr. Noll points out that there was strong support for repudiating the Civil War debt among Democrats, who were closely aligned with the Confederate South. They were angered that Congress had explicitly repudiated all the Confederate debt, and had refused to compensate slave owners for freeing their valuable slaves, and Southerners had no desire to help pay the Union’s debts.
One problem for Republicans was that the 13th Amendment abolished the clause in the Constitution that counted slaves as three-fifths of a man for the purpose of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. The ironic result was to increase the South’s representation in the House. The 11 states of the Confederacy saw their representatives rise to 73 in 1870 from 61 in 1860. They would also have 22 of the Senate’s 74 seats.
It was feared that readmission of the Southern states, together with Democrats from the north, would provide enough votes to prevent passage of legislation to fund the debt. Hence Republicans believed it was essential to have constitutional protection for the national debt.
The forces of repudiation found strong support in the departing President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee whom Abraham Lincoln put on the Republican ticket in 1864 in a spirit of unity to save the Union. In his last State of the Union address, on Dec. 9, 1868, Johnson contended that the cost of the debt was so high that repudiation was justified. He declared:
This vast debt, if permitted to become permanent and increasing, must eventually be gathered into the hands of a few, and enable them to exert a dangerous and controlling power in the affairs of the government. The borrowers would become servants to the lenders, the lenders the masters of the people. We now pride ourselves upon having given freedom to 4,000,000 of the colored race; it will then be our shame that 40,000,000 of people, by their own toleration of usurpation and profligacy, have suffered themselves to become enslaved, and merely exchanged slave owners for new taskmasters in the shape of bondholders and tax gatherers.
Johnson proposed that the Treasury cease paying interest on a large portion of the debt and instead use that money to retire the debt. “The lessons of the past admonish the lender that it is not well to be over-anxious in exacting from the borrower rigid compliance with the letter of the bond,” he said.
Supporters of repudiation, however, had two big political problems to overcome. First, much of the Civil War debt was owned by average people. Historically, financial institutions had bought almost all the Treasury’s bonds, but the amount of bonds needed to be sold during the war required creation of a mass market for Treasury securities.
Second, the debt was closely identified in the public mind with the war itself. As Mr. Noll explains: “The wartime debt became inextricably entwined with the patriotism and moral purpose of the Civil War. To attack the public debt was therefore an attack on the wartime sacrifices and the righteousness of the war to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.”
For this reason, people were willing to bear a much heavier burden of taxation than existed before the war, making the promises of tax relief from debt repudiation fall on deaf ears.
The purpose of the debt provision of the 14th Amendment was to say that national debt was beyond the realm of politics. In the words Jack Balkin, a Yale law professor: “It was stated in broad terms in order to prevent future majorities in Congress from repudiating the federal debt to gain political advantage, to seek political revenge or to try to disavow previous financial obligations because of changed policy priorities.”
Republican threats to hold the debt limit hostage to their agenda today present precisely the sort of political situation contemplated by the authors of the 14th Amendment.
If anyone follows the labor wages and rights issues in Maryland they will see a deeply RED state that works hard in keeping and creating the cheapest labor possible. You also see on this list all states that claim to be democratic and progressive as the ones who impoverish just as they do in Louisiana. THESE ARE THIRD WAY CORPORATE AND WEALTH STATES WHO RUN POLS AS DEMOCRATS JUST SO THEY CAN KEEP LABOR AND JUSTICE AT A DISADVANTAGE.
Robert J. Garagiola
Delores G. Kelley
Allan H. Kittleman
Katherine A. Klausmeier
James N. Mathias, Jr.
E. J. Pipkin
Catherine E. Pugh
Victor R. Ramirez
All we need to do is vote these corporate pols out of office and RUN AND ELECT LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES.
Minimum wage bill fails in committee
Erin Cox The Baltimore Sun 7:14 p.m. EDT, March 20, 2013
A bill to raise Maryland's minimum wage to $10 an hour failed in a Senate committee vote Wednesday, its sponsor said.
The Raise Maryland campaign, part of a national effort, sought to increase the state's minimum per-hour wage from $7.25 to one of the highest rates in the country. The organization said had the minimum wage been raised with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be $10.67.
The Senate Finance Committee voted unfavorably on the measure. One committee member said it failed in an 8-3 vote.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Delegates, but a committee vote has not been scheduled.
"I see better hopes for next year," Sen. Rob Garagiola, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a message, adding that "the groundwork had been laid."
The National Employment Law Project has this year launched campaigns to raise the minimum wage in Maryland, New York, New Mexico, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusettes, Minnesota, Hawaii, California and Illinois.
THIS ATTORNEY GENERAL IS AS CROOKED AS THEY COME. AFTER WHAT EVERYONE SAID WAS A PARKING TICKET SETTLEMENT OF $25 BILLION WE ARE HEARING NOTHING OF THE $600-800 BILLION IN MORTGAGE FRAUD THAT IS STILL IN THE HANDS OF TAXPAYERS AND DAMAGES FROM THE FRAUD BEING FELT BY HOMEOWNERS UNDERWATER. THIS GUY IS RUNNING FOR MARYLAND'S GOVERNOR....THAT IS HOW CORRUPT MARYLAND POLITICS IS RIGHT NOW.
What Doug Gansler is saying is that because he along with Obama and Eric Holder did not require the banks to write-down all of the fraudulent and bad mortgage loans sold to Freddie/Fannie as part of the fraud settlement that is still awaiting justice, Gansler et al want the taxpayer AKA Fannie/Freddie to write down the principal. We are no lovers of the current head of Freddie, but we do know a snow-job when we read it whether the Baltimore Sun wants to explain it or not.
If the US had Rule of Law in place after the economic collapse the first thing that justice departments across the country would have done to retrieve trillions of dollars in mortgage fraud is require all bad/fraudulent loans be written off by the banks. It is that simple. Since taxpayer Freddie/Fannie were planned as the dumping site for these loans once they made their billions and were ready to crash it is important to this massive fraud scheme that the public pay the debt brought by fraud. The housing bubble and the costs to homeowners in inflated mortgage costs are direct damages of the fraud. In a Rule of Law nation people have the right to criminal and civil justice neither of which has happened with the Justice politicians we have today.
These next elections as regards Attorney General and Gov are very important in getting that justice..Gansler protects Wall Street!
Gansler wants new Fannie, Freddie leadership
By Steve Kilar The Baltimore Sun 10:12 a.m. EDT, March 20, 2013
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and nine other attorneys general sent a letter Monday to President Obama and the U.S. Senate’s leaders demanding new management at the government entity that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The housing finance firms, which have been controlled by the federal government since 2008, have become an “obstruction” to economic recovery, said the letter signed by Gansler and the attorneys general of Massachusetts, New York, California, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada and Oregon.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, should offer mortgage principal reductions to homeowners struggling to pay off their loans, the attorneys general said. Other financial institutions have brought relief to homeowners with reductions, they said.
“Simply put, by refusing to allow for principal writedowns that would result in more loan modifications, FHFA stands as a direct impediment to our economic recovery,” the letter said.
The attorneys general are asking Obama to replace Acting FHFA Director Edward DeMarco with a manager who will allow Fannie and Freddie to offer principal reductions.
DeMarco has said offering principal reductions would threaten the financial stability of Fannie and Freddie. That, the attorneys general said, is “not supported by reality.”
“The FHFA’s current policy actually reduces the value of its holdings portfolio,” their letter said. “It is far more profitable for any financial institution to hold a portfolio of performing $200,000 mortgages that keeps families in their homes than a portfolio of non-performing $250,000 mortgages headed toward default.”
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are refusing to assist thousands … thus holding back the economic recovery for everyone,” Gansler said in a statement.
Have a real estate news tip or experience to share? Email me at email@example.com.
If you look at all the people that the city allows to remain in office after retiring it is no coincidence that they are involved in accounting and finance with the city. As national government watchdogs, government accountability agencies, news media, and citizens shout that the crime and corruption needs to end, bringing the same people back means these pols do not care what the world thinks about crime and corruption.
I say to activists who do still need to shout out at these pols every day.....that if you are not recruiting people with integrity for every one of these government offices......you are not doing your job as an activist. We cannot pretend that the shouting will change behavior. It does allow citizens to know the score but if all they have is the same pols for which to vote.....it is a zero sum game folks!!!
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES NEXT ELECTIONS@!!!!
Gallagher reappointed as financial advisor to mayor Rawlings-Blake has been hiring an array of consultants. Mark Reutter March 13, 2013 at 7:28 am
Baltimore’s retired director of finance, Edward J. Gallagher, will continue as a senior advisor to the mayor, part of a growing team assisting Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on financial matters.
Gallagher’s reappointment to the same consulting job – with pay up to $54,480 – he was awarded last year is part of the Board of Estimates’ routine agenda this morning.
Gallagher, who used to sit in the front row at Board of Estimates meetings and take the place of the mayor when she was absent, has not been publicly visible at City Hall since his retirement from the $181,472 post in February 2012.
According to board documents, Gallagher’s duties over the next year “will include, but are not limited to” providing general advice and assistance to the mayor, the mayor’s office and to his successor, Harry E. Black.
Gallagher is also tasked with helping the mayor’s office present its capital budget and long-term finances to bond-rating agencies on Wall Street.
New Legislative Advisor
Gallagher is not alone in the advice department.
In January, the board approved an agreement to pay up to $95,000 to William S. Ratchford II, retired director of the Maryland Despartment of Fiscal Services, to advise the mayor on the fiscal impact of legislation before the General Assembly. He will also advise the mayor “on various fiscal matters concerning the Baltimore City Public School System.”
Ratchford’s contract is in effect through December 31, 2013.
Last month, a new $100,000-a-year position was created specifically to direct the mayor’s 10-year financial plan, which was developed by a bevy of consultants led by The PFM Group, a Philadelphia-based financial advisory group.
In addition to a $461,000 report by PFM – which formed the basis of the mayor’s current proposals to curtail employee health benefits and increase firefighter hours to stave off long-term budget deficits – the mayor’s office has retained the Hay Group, a Philadelphia human resources consulting firm, and two Baltimore area consultancies, Walker Benefit Services and Advanced Benefit Solutions.
These groups are expected to advise and direct studies for the mayor for the next two years under a 2011 contract approved by the Board of Estimates. Already, the city has made a $125,000 supplemental payment for PFM’s advice.
The mayor’s office says the consultants have developed ideas that will help lower property taxes and place municipal government on a solid fiscal footing.
A recommendation by the PFM-Hay team, which reduced up-front premiums for municipal employees but higher out-of-pocket costs, are expected to save the city $10 million during the current fiscal year and $20 million next year, according to City Budget Director Andrew Kleine.
As we move this country back to being a democracy where the people govern and write laws, not businesses, this move seems archaic..as though it takes the country backwards rather than forward. We do not want businesses finding the solutions because there solutions are always not in the people's interest. What these worker/patient advocates need to do is work to elect politicians who are not corporate but people driven. Can you imagine a bill thrown out because the business needs to write it? Let's see who is in the finance committee:
Robert J. Garagiola
Delores G. Kelley
Allan H. Kittleman
Katherine A. Klausmeier
James N. Mathias, Jr.
E. J. Pipkin
Catherine E. Pugh
Victor R. Ramirez
Now, if you look you will see Third Way corporate democrats and republicans devoted to giving business all the power. Baltimore County, Sheila Pugh right here in Baltimore, Prince George, and Montgomery County. These are pols that need to go!! We know republicans we take this stance but a democrat will not. Next, we need to understand that it is your incumbent that keeps voting Mike Miller and Busch into leadership positions. These guys then fill this committee with corporate pols who then only allow corporate bills out of committee.
Do you think if people were educated on these political mechanations they would keep voting for these same pols? If the media reported all of this..NO.
Bill to boost health care worker safety withdrawn Klausmeier says more discussion needed over summer
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun 7:11 a.m. EDT, March 19, 2013
Legislation to strengthen violence prevention standards at health care facilities across the state has been withdrawn in the Senate — ending its chances for passage in Annapolis this session.
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, a Baltimore County Democrat and the bill's sponsor, said she submitted a withdrawal letter to the finance committee Monday after stakeholders representing nursing homes and assisted living facilities expressed concerns that it would not leave room for individualized approaches to dealing with violence in varying clinical environments.
"There were just so many different ways of providing safety, so we decided to just withdraw the bill," Klausmeier said. Klausmeier has asked all those involved in the process, including workers' unions and the Maryland Hospital Association, which all supported the bill, to continue to work on the issue through the summer.
"I told them all to work on it," she said. "The bottom line is we want to keep employees safe and we want to keep patients safe."
The bill would have required public and private facilities to improve safety by establishing violence-prevention committees consisting of management and employees; establish a violence-prevention program; produce annual violence assessments and provide regular workplace violence training for employees.
It was based on concerns that health care workers are disproportionately the victims of workplace violence in Maryland.
A fiscal note attached to the bill had estimated costs would be nearly $115,000 in 2014 and more each subsequent year, in part because of the need for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to hire two new employees to enforce the new regulations proposed.
Del. Tom Hucker, who cross-filed a similar bill in the House, said he was disappointed that Klausmeier had pulled her version. He said he was also frustrated that nursing home representatives had stood in the bill's way.
"I'm disappointed that the nursing home chains chose to focus on defeating the bill rather than working together to improve their terrible worker safety record," Hucker wrote in an email. Hucker cited statistics he obtained from the Service Employees International Union that found nursing homes are more violent than hospitals, and said they should not be exempt from future legislation applying to hospitals. He supports continued dialogue on the issue.
Nursing care and assisted living representative organizations said they already have extensive standards and protocols for dealing with workplace violence that are tailored to the individual environments where they care for patients and residents.
Danna Kauffman, vice president of public policy for LifeSpan, which represents nursing care and assisted-living facilities, said she and other opponents of the bill are "always willing to come to the table" to discuss workplace safety.
Joseph DeMattos, president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, an organization representing skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers that opposed the bill, said in an email that his group looks forward "to better identifying what's working and not working in various settings in health care and among other Maryland employers and to identify additional policies or procedures that will make a difference."
We want people to remember that in addition to this bill expanding the used of campaign fund use is a twin bill that raises the amount a single contributor can donate to a campaign.....$25,000. Now, who donates that much money? Corporations. What kinds of conferences are offered to incumbents the most? Corporate policy conferences.
THIS IS THE KIND OF LEGISLATION YOU GET WHEN YOU HAVE THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS RATHER THAN LABOR AND JUSTICE.
Now, correct me if I'M wrong but the American people have said they want less involvement by corporations and this gives us more.
House passes bill to expand use of campaign funds Money could pay for conferences
1/97 8:00 p.m. EST, March 7, 2013
The House of Delegates approved a bill Thursday that would allow political candidates to use campaign funds to pay for the cost of attending professional conferences.
The legislation, sponsored by Del. Carolyn J.B. Howard, a Prince George's County Democrat, passed on a vote of 110-27. It now goes to the Senate.
The bill would let incumbent officeholders and candidates use their campaign funds to pay for the travel, lodging, meal and registration costs of conferences focused on policy issues related to the office they hold or are seeking. Candidates now are restricted to spending such money for campaign expenses or publication of a legislative newsletter.
Remember when Carl Stokes almost ran for Mayor? He is not ashamed of being driven purely by corporate profit and political ambition!!!!! It's time for Stokes to head for the private sector.
Committee votes to exempt Ticketmaster from city scalping law Bill would allow businesses to charge unlimited user fees, but prevent citizens from charging more than 50 cents more than a ticket's price
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 1:31 p.m. EST, February 28, 2013
The Baltimore City Council finance committee voted 3-1 Thursday afternoon to approve a bill that would exempt Ticketmaster and other ticket sellers from Baltimore's long-standing, anti-scalping law.
If approved by the full council next month, the bill would allow the ticket sellers to continue to charge unlimited user and "convenience" fees. But citizens could add no more than 50 cents to a ticket's face value in reselling it.
Councilmen Carl Stokes, Wiliam H. Cole IV and Edward Reisinger voted in favor of the bill. Councilman Bill Henry, who wanted the fees charged by Ticketmaster and other companies limited to $5 per ticket or 10 percent of a ticket's face value, voted against the measure. Councilman Warren Branch abstained.
The legislation — which Stokes said he sponsored as a temporary solution while the council works on permanent legislation — was a response to a ruling by Maryland's highest court, which last month struck down Ticketmaster's unpopular user fees in Baltimore.
The Ravens, Orioles and concert and entertainment venues asked the council to put in the legislation, concerned that Ticketmaster and other ticket vendors might refuse to handle events in Baltimore, Stokes said. The bill exempts ticket sellers from a 1948 law that bars businesses and citizens from charging fees in excess of 50 cents on top of a ticket's stated price.
Andre Bourgeois, a 50-year-old Inner Harbor resident, filed suit against Ticketmaster and the Lyric Opera House in 2011 after being charged $12 in user fees on a $52 ticket to see Jackson Browne in 2009. His hope was that Ticketmaster would be forced to stop charging the fees for events in Baltimore — and to issue refunds to customers who have paid the charges.
According to his suit, Ticketmaster takes in about $1 billion annually from user fees on $8 billion in ticket sales worldwide. The suit does not estimate how much of those sales come from Baltimore.
In 2011, Ticketmaster owner Live Nation agreed to pay $22.3 million to customers to settle a class action lawsuit over fees in California.
Whip Hoyer Announces House Democrats’ Adoption of New Online Tool to Hear From Citizens and Organizations Share: Email Print Facebook Twitter For Immediate Release:July 19, 2012
Contact:Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) announced today that House Democrats have begun using open tools on POPVOX.com that enable citizens and organizations to publicly weigh in on specific legislation before Congress. Whip Hoyer issued the following statement:
“I believe that it is important for Congress to adopt new technologies that advance our constitutional mission of communicating with our constituents. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have significantly transformed how Americans share information, and most Members of Congress have adopted these technologies resulting in improved constituent communications. Government initiatives like President Obama’s Data.gov and ‘We the People’ also use new web technologies to advance the important goals of government transparency, accountability, and participation of the people.
“POPVOX is an innovative, nonpartisan website that provides citizens and organizations across the country a new forum to publicly speak out on specific legislation that is before Congress. Today, we are recognizing that innovation by ensuring that when a citizen or organization takes a position publicly on a bill, that position will be displayed to House Democrats and their staff.”
Democratic Whip Hoyer’s office manages DemCom, the official intranet for House Democratic staff, which has been in use for four years and is used regularly by over 2,000 House Democratic staffers. DemCom hosts all internal documents within the Democratic Caucus including “Dear Colleague” Member letters, Leadership fact sheets and talking points, all organized by specific legislation.
Beginning today, DemCom will dynamically pull all organization position papers on POPVOX, including the 3,700 position letters currently on the site, as well as those added in the future. In addition, DemCom now prominently displays the current public sentiment as registered on POPVOX for all bills currently before Congress. Below is a screenshot of what DemCom now displays for each bill:
It is so funny to watch these autocrats as they try to pretend they have a democratic system in presenting their plans even if it is after the decisions have been finalized. This has become so brazen and so corrupt that the people no longer take these pols as anything other than a Faustian manifestation.
What is important for all Americans and Baltimoreans alike is now that we see this playing out we must stop allowing these political machines simply send in one of the team in each election and stop re-electing these incumbents for goodness sake. No matter what bill the pass to pretend they are listening to our needs we see immediately it is full of loopholes and useless. We can reverse this if we run and voter for labor and justice candidates and break away from all of the establishment pols and their organizations.
First and foremost is the need for referenda to the charter that address Term Limits...and we want that to be retroactive, and Recall of politicians who campaign on one thing and do another. We need to take some of the power of the Mayor's Office away and send it back to the council members for whom we vote by making changes to charter rules.
Remember, Baltimore is a city of about 160,000 so finding 10,000 people to donate $20 towards registering 20 new candidates for all of Baltimore's elected positions is not only doable....it is easy. The referenda will be as well as the number of signatures needed to make all these charter changes is also relatively small.....no more than 30,000-50,000 signatures. Do you know how easy that is in a city of 160,000? So step up the activism to take back our democracy or we will be looking like the Eqyptians.
Mayor to hold RSVP-only “kick-off” of her fiscal reforms Mark Reutter February 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm Baltimore Brew
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will speak Wednesday to business, community and elected officials at the Walters Art Gallery to kick off the next phase of her campaign to fix Baltimore’s long-term finances.
The mayor will appear at the Graham Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow for an hour-long event for so-called “city stakeholders,” described as community groups, business and institutional leaders, elected officers and others. The invited guests were asked to RSVP back to the mayor’s office.
(UPDATE: Mayoral spokesman Ian Brennan says tomorrow’s presentation is not “invite-only.” Members of the public who read about the event on the on-line “Rawlings-Blake Review,” posted last Friday (2/15), were asked to RSVP by the end of that day in order to attend.)
Expected in the mix will be the presidents of the two city firefighters unions whose members are facing 52-hour workweeks under the mayor’s plan.
Two weeks ago, Rawlings-Blake unveiled a consultant’s dire forecast of the city’s future finances and then fleshed out her reforms during a State of the City address to the City Council last week.
Invite to the fiscal presentation.
So far, the full $460,000 report by Philadelphia-based PFM Group has not been released.
Based on the group’s prediction of a cumulative shortfall of $745 million through FY 2022 because of flat tax revenues and soaring costs, the mayor is calling for major changes in employee health care and pension benefits and a yearly trash collection fee for residents.
The mayor says these and other reforms will permit a reduction in the property tax rate over time, more infrastructure investment and lower unfunded municipal liabilities.
Last week, the Board of Estimates approved $100,000 for the creation of a new post in the Department of Finance to oversee the fiscal plan and to work with PFM, which will continue to advise the mayor.
This Third Way corporate policy of raising minimum wage and indexing it to COLA all the while decrying the situation of the working poor is typical Baltimore and Maryland Bait and Switch that has the very people who are victim to being the working poor advocating for policy that will keep them as working poor. Baltimore has no justice leaders!!!!!
We all know that the Living Wage is now at $14 and that is the low estimate. This bill not only puts off raising the rate to 2015 when the Living Wage will be higher, but it ties it to a COLA that ensures that wages will stay forever in poverty and in fact continually deepen poverty. Do you know what a 1-2% annual increase looks like? That's right....10-20 cents on a $10 wage. So, this minimum wage bill works against the working poor and not for them.
Now, we do not think we will be able to jump from $7.25 to $14 an hour, but if your justice organization and incumbent are not shouting that this is a stepping stone, and locking to the COLA as the only increased leaves no stepping stone......they are not working for you and me. For those middle-class people who don't care how poor workers are allowed to be, remember that these wages frame your own wage bracket and you know that doesn't look good either!!
Advocates: retail giants can handle hike increasing $7.25/hour minimum wage Fern Shen February 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm Baltimore Brew
Walmart employee Mike Mensah, part of a demonstration by supporters of a bill to increase Maryland’s minimum wage.
Walmart workers and their supporters gathered outside the Catonsville Walmart today to say that raising Maryland’s $7.25-per-hour minimum wage would help families struggling to pay their bills without hurting the large, profitable companies that employ the majority of Maryland’s low-wage workers.
“Mom and pop businesses are always held up as the victims of minimum-wage laws, but actually our study found that 71% of the companies that employ low-wage workers in Maryland are big, employing 50 people or more,” said Jack Temple, a researcher who worked on the study released today by the National Employment Law Project.
The report, released today, also concludes that these companies are doing well. The authors reviewed the nation’s 50 largest low-wage employers and found that 63% of them are earning higher profits than before the recession.
Walmart, for instance, had post-recession profit growth of 23 percent and in 2011 paid its CEO $18,131,738, according to the report.
“The evidence is clear these businesses could afford the impact” of an increased Maryland minimum wage, Temple said.
“No one is saying that Wal-Mart should not be making money,” Rev. David Carl Olson of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore said, addressing the crowd. “But the most powerful corporations in the world are making their extraordinary profits on the backs of working people and it isn’t fair.”
A 31-year-old Walmart employee from Laurel, Michael Mensah, told the crowd he makes $10 an hour, can’t afford a car and lives at home with his mother.
Lagging Behind Other States
The demonstrators – about 25 of them assembled out near Baltimore National Pike after Baltimore County police blocked the entrance – were organized by Raise Maryland, a coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights and faith groups working for passage of a statewide minimum wage increase.
The coalition is seeking support for bills introduced last month by Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery) and Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) to raise the state minimum wage to $10 by 2015 and then index it to rise with the cost of living. The legislation also incorporates a 20% increase for tipped workers (from 50% to 70% of the current minimum wage).
Lobbyists for retailers are lining up to oppose the legislation. And the Maryland Chamber of Commerce has warned members about the pending bills and said they would saddle employers with “additional costs” that “would have a negative impact on the state’s business climate and economic competitiveness.”
Walmart: Workers Are Proud of Their Jobs
Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman declined to comment on the minimum wage legislation but said people have “misconceptions” about jobs at the company’s stores.
“Our associates are hard working women and men who chose to work for us. They are proud of their jobs,” Fogleman said. He said the average employee is full-time and makes $12.57-per-hour.
Advocates note that Arizona, Florida, Alaska, Maine, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico all require employers to pay a minimum wage above $7.25 per hour, the current federal standard.
They also cite a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) describing who would benefit from the minimum wage measure – about 536,000 Maryland workers, 87% of whom are over the age of 20 and 44% of whom are white.
If enacted, the measure would put an additional $778 million into these Maryland workers’ paychecks during the two-year phase-in period, the EPI report says.
Obama: Raise National Minimum Wage
Efforts to help low-wage workers are heating up locally and nationally in recent months. The hospitality workers’ union Unite Here helped workers at the Hyatt Baltimore to win an unfair labor practices complaint against the hotel chain last month.
The union is also working to help concession workers at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. They recently staged a rally at the airport, with workers speaking out about alleged lack of respect, poverty wages and inadequate access to affordable health care.
President Obama, in his State of the Union address, also took up the cause. He called for a rise in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9, with subsequent increases in line with inflation.
Listening to Carl Stokes tell us yet again that we must pay for the profits of services offered by corporations we do not need is yet another example of why we need to vote these incumbents out of office. These are Third Way corporate politicians who have captured a democratic party that is 80% labor and justice. All of the policies presented by these corporate democrats hurt the democratic base and are only meant to enrich the already wealthy.
We do not need to vote Republican to fix this mess. Democrats simply need to reclaim the party by running and voting for labor and justice candidates in all of these next elections!!!
An opportunity to break free of Ticketmaster Why not use the Bourgeois matter to establish local online sales?
Dan Rodricks 7:59 p.m. EST, February 25, 2013 Baltimore Sun
I thought Ticketmaster was the most hated company in America, but it turns out to have had some competition for that title