I want to spend a few days looking at individual government commissions at each level of government to show how dysfunctional they are. Policy goes there to die or it is called one thing while doing another. You see just that in the article below about Massachusetts and its commissions.....I give an example of the same in Maryland.
The surge in states creating commissions and quasi-status for NGOs was a step towards moving the business of legislating away from state and local legislators and handing major public policy decisions to whatever appointee a Governor or Mayor made. Fast forward to neo-liberals and neo-cons controlling our major parties and you have global corporate pols appointing corporate people working in corporate/shareholder interest and against public interest. WE DO NOT WANT COMMISSIONS ETC CIRCUMVENTING OUR LEGISLATURES. This same process has Congress with appointed committees that write entire policy ------ten pols writing critical public policy and then taking it to the floor of Congress to 'tweak'. NONE OF THIS IS REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY.
A DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN WOULD NOT SUPPORT THESE CENTRALIZED POLICY-MAKING ENTITIES. GET RID OF THE NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS.
Meanwhile the committees that were once filled with the general public in local communities/boards are languishing. In their place----private corporate non-profits headed by directors appointed by corporations funding an issue. As the article below states, and this is true in Maryland-----no oversight or accountability or even attention to staffing is happening with public committees and community groups.
In Maryland, the commissions that are active and filled with appointees by Governor or Mayor have most of their meetings behind closed doors calling issues proprietary and minutes reflect that lack of transparency. This is why Maryland citizens never know what is happening in policy until it comes to vote......too late to organize and protest.
Imagine if all of those boards and committees met in our local schools in the evenings to discuss the issue assigned to these committees.......that is what we used to do. This is the democratic discussion of issues that has been allowed to wither as boards meet during a workday in places not convenient to the general public.
WE NEED EVERYONE DEMANDING PUBLIC COMMITTEES AND BOARDS AND GETTING OUT TO PARTICIPATE. YOU ARE THE ONE WHO LEGISLATES.
State study confirms unfilled job boards
By Todd Wallack | Globe Staff July 30, 2014
Massachusetts is failing to properly staff and track hundreds of state boards, committees, and commissions, a Senate panel concluded in a report released Wednesday, resulting in what some call “zombie boards” that never meet.
The Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight discovered dozens of state panels that have not met or produced reports in years, alongside new committees that have not been able to start because of empty seats, while still other panels appear to be redundant. The review found that 48 boards are probably no longer needed either because they have completed their work or outlived their missions, such as one that issued its final report on the future of Boston Harbor beaches in the 1990s.
“I was surprised that we hadn’t taken action earlier,” said Senator Cynthia S. Creem, the Newton Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, who added that many people count on state boards to champion issues they care about. “I think it’s been neglected.”
The Senate researchers’ work was complicated, however, by the fact that the governor’s website for boards and commissions omitted some panels where the governor does not make appointments. And information for the roughly 700 boards that were listed was “often absent, incomplete, out-of-date and/or incorrect.”
“The Commonwealth’s current system for appointing commission members and monitoring commissions’ activities is inadequate,” the report found.
The Senate launched the review last spring after the Globe reported that more than one-third of the seats on state boards and commissions were either vacant or filled with holdovers whose terms had officially expired months or years ago — a figure that took many state officials by surprise. The Globe also found that some boards had not met in decades (including at least one with a member who was dead), while others struggled to gather a quorum because of the vacancies.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that Massachusetts appears to have far more boards than other states its size, according to a Globe survey of a dozen other states,making it difficult to keep track of them and fill all the vacant positions.
Senator Robert L. Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican on the post audit committee, said he believes lawmakers and the executive branch have become too eager to set up commissions and too reluctant to eliminate them when they are no longer useful.
“It seems as though government in general expands and it never really contracts,” said Hedlund, the assistant minority leader. “I would like us to be a little more serious when we form a commission and be judicious, so that when we do form a commission it is taken seriously.”
Officials in the governor’s office, which controls the majority of board appointments, said they are already working on ways to eliminate unneeded boards.
“We have made tremendous progress in deactivating boards and commissions that are no longer current, where it is within our power to do so,” said Heather Nichols, a spokeswoman in the governor’s office. “Where it is not, we are happy to work with the Legislature to sunset those boards and commissions that have already served out their purpose.”
Patrick administration staffers said they do the best they can to fill vacant positions, but noted that it can be challenging because the vast majority of positions are unpaid and require significant hours to attend meetings, often during the day. Many vacant seats are also controlled by state lawmakers and other officials outside the adminstration’s control.
The Senate review made a number of recommendations to address the problems, some of which would require legislation:
■ Requiring the governor’s office and departments to review whether commissions are riddled with vacancies, struggled to gather a quorum, have not met in a year, or are no longer needed;
■ Creating a sunset review commission to determine whether boards or commissions should be dissolved because they are redundant or defunct;
■ Streamlining the background check for new board members;
■ Giving the governor more flexibility to fill seats when he cannot find someone meeting all the requirements specified in state law;
■ Reappointing holdover members to new terms if new members cannot be found;
■ Making greater efforts to update the state’s boards and commissions website, as well as to add details on panels that are currently missing;
■ Posting meeting agendas, minutes, and reports for all commissions online;
■ Changing the law to automatically eliminate special commissions after they have issued their final reports.
But Hedlund, the Republican committee member, worried that the government has become so lax about following up on commissions that it probably will not follow through on the Senate panel’s recommendations either.
“It will be treated in the same way,” Hedlund predicted. “Tomororrow, it will be yesterday’s news.”
This is one example of a commission on fracking created by O'Malley and neo-liberals under the guise of protecting Maryland from fracking abuses. Neo-liberals support fracking and O'Malley led the Governor's Commission on exporting natural gas----an action that places fracking on steroids. So, we have pols painted as being 'green' because they formed a commission that did absolutely nothing and never had any intent to protect Maryland Marcellus Shale from fracking.
The millions of dollars sent to this 'study' more than likely went to subsidize natural gas exploration in Maryland to find the best land to frack and then allowing the same connected people to buy that land.
For Immediate Release Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 4:05pmFood & Water WatchContact: Jorge Aguilar – 202-683-2529; JAguilar@fwwatch.org
Rich Bindell – 202-683-2457; RBindell@fwwatch.org
Fracking Health Study Narrow, Hasty, and Underfunded Say Health Experts
Call On Gov. O’Malley and Maryland Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission To Extend Deadline On Health Study
WASHINGTON - Today, a commissioner from Governor Martin O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Commission joined three leading medical advocacy groups at a press conference in Baltimore in critiquing the timeline and scope of a study on the possible health impacts of shale gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” that is scheduled for release in June.
Representatives from the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE), Maryland Environment Health Network (MdEHN), Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY), Food and Water Watch and Ann Bristow warned that the study is poised to fall woefully short of meeting international standards and health study guidelines for protecting public health.
They called on Governor O’Malley to commit more resources and to extend the health study deadline in order to fully assess the potential health effects to all Marylanders. They also noted that the study is limited to investigating possible impacts on public health only among residents of Western Maryland, even though exploitable shale gas reserves are located across the state.
“We are watching the emerging science from other states show increasing harms from fracking. We’re hearing about poisoned drinking water and radioactive waste, as well as smog in places that used to have pristine air. So it is clear that an eight month study period, funded at $150,000 does not suffice to assess even the top tier of costly health impacts that fracking will likely have in Western Maryland, let alone the rest of the state,” said Rebecca Ruggles, Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network said.
“As it currently stands, the State of Maryland is conducting a flawed, rushed, and superficial study that will not help inform Maryland residents—nor their elected officials—about the full burden of possible health risks from the entire process of shale gas extraction,” said Katie Huffling, a registered nurse and the director of programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “As nurses, we are also gravely concerned that they will not be including a health cost assessment in their study. If the public is being asked to assume health risks from fracking, it deserves a comprehensive investigation of those risks and their economic costs, not a fig leaf."
Health professionals across the country have argued that a Health Impact Assessment (HIA)—a specific National Research Council-sanctioned process developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (among others)—must be conducted to inform any decision as critical as whether or not fracking should be permitted in states.
“Drilling and fracking operations are inherently dangerous and pose demonstrable risks to health, especially for children, pregnant women and other vulnerable people living nearby,” said Sandra Steingraber, PhD and cofounder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. “The proper tool for investigating these impacts is a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment with its vetted protocols and seal of approval by national and international public health institutions. A comprehensive HIA with full public participation, not a rushed study with a political deadline, is what the people of Maryland need and deserve. “
The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission is currently scheduled to make a final recommendation on fracking in August to Governor Martin O’Malley that will include the health assessment report.
Ann Bristow, a current commissioner on the Advisory Commission, also joined the medical advocates in calling for more time.
“As a member of Governor O’Malley’s Safe Drilling Initiative Commission, I am very worried that we are moving too fast and not getting all the health data we need to make protective recommendations to the residents of Maryland," said Bristow. “Several commissioners have repeatedly asked for more time and a more thorough scope of work on these critical health issues. If the health study team were on schedule, we would have received the baseline health assessment, with public commentary, last month. We need more time and a guarantee of transparency and public participation."
Food & Water Watch Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar added that the O’Malley administration should pay attention to the demands of the health community.
“After two years of a largely unfunded process, Governor O’Malley’s administration now seems to be rushing through the final year, when specific studies just got started,” said Food & Water Watch Regional Organizing Director Jorge Aguilar. “The health study team has already missed its first deadline and it’s not clear that the health community will have time to comment on the final report. The writing is on the wall: this will be an inadequate study unless the time line is drastically modified to address the concerns of the health community.”
###Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.
You will note that it was an out-of-state organization that outed this commission for failing to do its duties on the mission tasked----not any Maryland organization. Note as well Heather Mizeur is on this commission and ran as protecting Marylanders from fracking.
YOU WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ON THIS COMMISSION IF YOU WANTED TO DO THAT.
Now, as this out-of-state organization says----this commission ----NARROW, HASTY, AND UNDERFUNDED----never meaning to find anything. What this commission should be is a long-term, citizen-filled exploratory group committed to research and planning for the public interest. This is why public committees and boards tasked with doing just that are languishing without support.
WE MUST ENGAGE IN POLITICS----BE THE CITIZENS FILLING THESE BOARDS, COMMITTEES, AND COMMISSIONS IF WE ARE GOING TO REMAIN CITIZENS.
MARCELLUS SHALE SAFE-DRILLING INITIATIVE ADVISORY COMMISSION
David A. Vanko, Ph.D., Chair (appointed by Secretary of the Environment & Secretary of Natural Resources)
Appointed by Secretary of the Environment & Secretary of Natural Resources: Shawn Bender; Ann R. Bristow, Ph.D.; Stephen M. Bunker; George C. Edwards; Margaret J. (Peggy) Jamison; Jeffrey F. Kupfer, Esq.; Clifford S. Mitchell, M.D.; Heather R. Mizeur; Dominick E. Murray; James M. Raley; Paul Roberts; William R. Valentine; Nicholas Weber, Ph.D.; Harry Weiss, Esq. Montgomery Park Business Center, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, Maryland, February 2004. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Staff: Brigid E. Kenney c/o Department of the Environment
Montgomery Park Business Center, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230
- Maryland Marcellus Shale Public Health Study, July 2014
- Interim Report, July 2014
- Initial Report, December 2011
In June 2011, the Governor created the Marcellus Shale Safe-Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission (Executive Order 01.01.2011.11). With the Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources, the Commission is studying the short-term, long-term and cumulative effects of producing natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation. This formation underlies portions of Western Maryland: Allegany and Garrett counties being the only parts of the State with natural gas reserves in Marcellus Shale. Drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus shale involves a process called hydraulic fracturing. This requires very deep wells with long horizontal sections through which pressurized water, sand, and chemicals are blasted to crack rock and release the natural gas.
Authorization for the Commission extends through May 1, 2015.
Keep in mind who supports O'Malley and neo-liberals every election in Maryland-----labor and justice leaders. Anthony Brown will be worse than O'Malley if that is possible. Of course all of these corporate policies are Republican so you do not vote Republican to get environmental policy.
Let's look at who these people are that O'Malley and the Maryland Assembly placed in charge of Departments that protect our land and water.
Keep in mind, this happens all the time and all Maryland pols know this is what Maryland Assembly and neo-liberals and neo-cons do with all these commissions.
Department of the Environment
21 August 2014
doe DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Governor Martin J. O'Malley
Water Management Jay G. Sakai
Robert M. Summers Secretary
Guess what! Sakai is from Baltimore with Baltimore's Public Works and a Hopkins graduate. Hopkins is VEOLA Environment----privatizing public water works and Hopkins is a great big shareholder in natural gas and exporting raw energy. That is someone you would put in an agency to make sure commissions like this Marcellus Shale protects the fracking interests.
DO YOU HEAR MARYLAND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SHOUTING THIS COLLUSION WITH CORPORATIONS THAT KILL THE ENVIRONMENT? I DON'T.
Previously, Mr. Sakai also directed the technical support functions for the City of Baltimore’s Department of Public Works, an agency with more than 3,400 employees, where he administered application development contracts and large-scale information technology implementations.
He serves on the board of the Maryland Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies. Mr. Sakai is also a member of the American Water Works Association and the American Public Works Association.
Mr. Sakai succeeds Robert M. Summers, Ph.D., who is now MDE’s Deputy Secretary. A licensed professional engineer, Mr. Sakai holds a Master of Science in Business and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
WOW------another Johns Hopkins grad in Natural Resources---water agency. Don't forget, Hopkins is behind the collapse of our Baltimore water system as all of state and city revenue that should have gone to upgrading infrastructure went to building Hopkins global corporation...... and it's bid to take Baltimore Harbor global will kill the Chesapeake Bay with invasive species and pollution. The Baltimore Harbor recently received an 'F' in pollution, and it was this Department of Natural Resources with the Department of Environment that approved the construction at Harbor Point on toxic waste dump. So, it takes lots of failed policy to remain at 'F' in environment for decades.
SEE WHY THIS MARCELLUS SHALE COMMISSION IS KNOWN FOR BEING NARROW, HASTY, AND UNDERFUNDED.
Dr. Summers received his B.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1982) in Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining Maryland’s environmental programs, he worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the State University of New York, Marine Sciences Research Center in Stony Brook, NY and as a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins University’s Chesapeake Bay Institute.
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Governor Martin J. O'Malley
Joseph P. Gill Secretary
Land Resources Kristin Saunders Evans
Mr Gill is a Georgetown grad in law with a history of leading a quasi-public land trust. Now, if you live in Maryland you know that public land is disappearing faster than ever usually under the guise of public private partnerships. You place M and T Bank Stadium on public land and it is no longer public land. You give the Port of Baltimore to a private investment firm and you no longer have public land/water. You hand public land to expand natural gas export terminal and you lose public land. You place a private residential high-rise on public housing land and you no longer have public land. You privatize public schools to private charters and you no longer have public land. You hand all waterfront property in Baltimore and National Harbor et al to private developers and you no longer have public land. You give public parks/mansions -----public universities over to private non-profits and you no longer have public land. You privatize public water and waste----you give private rights to natural gas, BGE, and CSX lines and the public loses large swaths of land. All this is happening today in Maryland. Baltimore is seeing all of its public land handed to private developers.
What is Maryland Environmental Land Trust? Well, the development in Maryland is anything but environmental.
Maryland Environmental Trust
The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) is quasi-public statewide land trust established in 1967. Staffed with funds from the Department of Natural Resources, it is directed by an independent Board of Trustees. This unusual structure has resulted in the protection of over 100,000 acres of privately-owned forest, farm, and open space land across the State of Maryland with permanent, donated easements.
Below you see Ed Rendell of PA.....a state totally destroyed by fracking and a pol handing complete control of public land to fracking corporations.....teamed with Anthony Brown---do you hear Maryland Environmental Trust going crazy over all this? Not a word. They are represented on this Marcellus Shale commission by Mr Gill's appointee.
Maryland’s New Public-Private Partnerships
Date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 « Back to Events Start:May 9, 2013 8:30 amEnd:May 9, 2013 11:30 amCategory:News
Maryland’s New P3 Legislation Maryland’s New Public-Private Partnerships Legislation Maryland’s newly passed P3 Legislation sets the stage for Public-Private
Partnerships to increase investment in the state. This is the best and first
chance to hear about Maryland’s new P3 law from people who know what this means
for Maryland’s economy. The panel, moderated by Ballard Spahr, includes leaders
from the public and private sectors with extensive P3 experience in commercial
and institutional development, as well as infrastructure projects. Keynote
speakers include Maryland’s Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and former Pennsylvania
Governor Ed Rendell. Plan to join us on May 9 at the BWI Hilton. We will be announcing the panel in
the near future, so check baltimore.uli.org for details and updates. Featured Speakers:
· Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown
· Ben Stutz, State of Maryland
· Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell
Moderator: Brian Walsh, Ballard Spahr
· Chuck Watters, Hines
· Andy Garbutt, KPMG
· Leif Dormsjo. Acting Deputy Secretary, MDOT
· Chris Guthkeltch, Skanska USA
· Tom Rousakis, Goldman Sachs
Master of Ceremonies:
· Sandy Apgar, Apgar Company
Below you see a Department of Natural Resources staff charged with such things as appointing members of commissions like the Marcellus Shale with a long history of bad environmental results. All of Maryland's environment is at risk because the Department of Natural Resources has such a skeleton staffing that no oversight happens. As you see below stewardship of the land is not key in this public agency.
When we elect pols like O'Malley who are simply working for corporations they will staff agencies with people looking to move money to the right people and not to doing the work of the public. Then, you compound that by having these same appointees choosing who participates on these commissions and you get the results outlined at the top.
Public commissions, public committees, and public boards should have people passionate about the issues from the public perspective, not corporate profit.
YOUR LABOR AND JUSTICE LEADERS KEEP SUPPORTING THE NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS CREATING THESE POLICIES-----PLEASE GET RID OF THESE INCUMBENTS!
Below you see who will be involved in these fracking and land use issues and who is appointed to commissions developing plans.
Remember, Maryland is one of the richest states in the nation----plenty of money for this stuff being lost to fraud and corruption.
Kristin Saunders Evans
Secretary for Land Resources.
Study finds Md.'s parks, after deep cuts in staff and services in recent years, need an infusion
State parks in peril
November 09, 2007|
By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,Sun reporter
"I don't think anyone was surprised by the findings," said Kristin Saunders Evans, assistant secretary of the Department of Natural Resources who oversees parks. "We're trying to the best of our ability and resources, but in some instances we've let our stakeholders down."
Below you see yet another 'nationally recognized program' in Maryland that does not really exist. It is all propaganda to make Maryland look progressive. Our Health Care reform and our Education reform is all called 'a national model' and is a mess because we have no oversight and accountability or pols in office working in the public interest. JUKING THE STATS makes everything done a national model.
Indoor projects raise questions
Md. auditors criticize use of funds designated for open-space projects
August 08, 2008
|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,Sun reporter
Program Open Space, Maryland's nationally recognized effort to create outdoor recreational opportunities and preserve untouched lands, has been spending money on the indoors - including golf-course building renovations, community centers and an indoor aquatic center.
Call it Program Enclosed Space.
State auditors criticized the longstanding practice in a report yesterday on the Department of Natural Resources and said that the General Assembly's counsel advised them that the use of open-space funding for indoor recreational facilities doesn't appear to be within the law.
Agency officials told auditors that they believed the indoor projects qualified for funding because the facilities accommodate recreational activities, such as swimming, that are typically done outdoors. And, agency officials noted, the public would be able to enjoy year-round use of the indoor facilities, making them a better investment.
John R. Griffin, natural resources secretary, promised to seek clarifying legislative language in the next General Assembly session to ensure that such expenditures follow the letter of the law. Nonetheless, agency officials said they were surprised by the dispute.
The open-space program has been used to build or acquire indoor facilities since the 1970s, they said, and state lawmakers are typically enthusiastically supportive, attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the projects throughout the summer. They said the indoor facilities must be related to the mission of the program and are often nature centers or recreational facilities.
"Bottom line is, this has been going on for a long time, and this is the first time we've seen it raised by legislative auditors," said Eric Schwaab, the agency's deputy secretary. "These local projects have long been supported. It's not like this has been conducted in secret."
In recent months, $2 million in open-space funding has been approved for Calvert County's first indoor aquatic center, $1.4 million for the purchase of the Sonic Sports Arena in Cecil County and about $240,000 for indoor tennis lights in Montgomery County.
Program Open Space, established in 1969, is funded through transfer taxes on real estate transactions. The money is split between the state government and local communities based on a complicated formula, and much of it goes toward buying large tracts of land for preservation or parks. About $276 million has been allocated to the program over the last two years.
Local governments develop long-range plans on land preservation and recreation, and individual projects for which they seek reimbursement must be approved by the state's Board of Public Works. Public comment can be made at several times in the process.
"It's a wide-open, very public process," said Kristin Saunders Evans, assistant secretary for land resources at the natural resources department.
Logging GRSF 3
In the coming months, the Forest Service will publish the FY2011plan for the Green Ridge State Forest. As with previous plans, the Forest Service will propose cutting down more than 200 acres of trees in several sites.Most of the logging will leave about six trees per acre.DNR cuts trees that are 90-100 years old, far short of their biological maturity,1with the stated goal of optimizing production of timber.2Other goals, such as encouraging wildlife growth and breeding, providing healthy forests for Maryland citizens, stabilization of soil, or sequestering carbon are subsidiary or have not been considered.