We see today the austerity that has the Federal Government making the people pay for the removal of massive amounts of money from government coffers through corporate fraud. We see the State withholding public money and hiking regressive taxes and fees to do the same. Locally, in Baltimore the situation is worse as so much city revenue heads into the pockets of wealthy developers and connected people that we are seeing huge cuts in services and raising of fees and taxes.
Remember, all of this can and will come back to the people. We can have justice. We simply need to work for it! Below you'll see how money is being moved across every business sector with outcry from every community sector as to the crime and corruption!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE. THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS WORK FOR WEALTH AND PROFIT NOT PEOPLE....
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE NEXT ELECTIONS!
If you notice almost all Federal and State funds earmarked for underserved are misappropriated and/or stolen through fraud. Whether health care, development, and in this case education.....we have for the last few decades watched as billions of dollars move without oversight into the pockets of the connected. Ergo, MD's wealth inequity.
What you need to know is that when you are trying to make Baltimore's and eventually Maryland's public schools into private businesses you have to create administrative networks that bring privatizers to the city and state, train them to be privatizers, and then create non-profits to initiate the system development in the schools. All that takes money diverted from classroom education. That is what has happened in our universities for the past decade or two and now they are going for the K-12.
Republicans who sense outrage over Title 1 and tax misappropriation can relax. Most of the money never reaches the poor and republicans misappropriate public funds as much as Third Way corporate democrats! So the problem is crime and corruption in our government across the board. Maryland does not have one iota of oversight in its government functions and they do that because they like the fraud. The citizens of Maryland keep voting the same people back into office so they can do it more.
STOP ALLOWING THE DNC OR THE RNP CHOOSE YOUR CANDIDATES!
Federal audit finds city schools misspent stimulus, Title I funds State Republican leaders express outrage over city school spending on chicken dinners, cruises at Inner Harbor
By Erica L. Green and Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun 8:45 a.m. EDT, May 23, 2013
The Maryland State Department of Education may have to pay back up to $540,000 in federal money intended to help the state's poorest schools after a scathing audit found that Baltimore City was one of two school districts that misspent the funds, using the money for dinner cruises, makeovers and meals.
The report, reviewing grant expenses from 2009 and 2010, was conducted by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Education. It found similar misspending in Prince George's County schools.
The audit findings come as the city school system has been embroiled in controversy over financial mismanagement in the past year that became an issue as the city sought funding from the state legislature to fix its dilapidated infrastructure.
Among the inappropriate expenditures highlighted by auditors was $4,352 of stimulus funds and Title I dollars — which are designated for schools with the poorest populations — that two elementary schools used to pay for dinner cruises in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. According to the report, the cruises were said to be for parents and school volunteers and included more than a dozen staff members.
Republican state lawmakers called attention to the federal report Wednesday, saying it reveals that the state needs better and more detailed auditing.
"These dollars were supposed to put more teachers into our classrooms," said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin in a statement. "Instead, it's putting them into cruise ship dining rooms."
The audit also drew concerns from Democrats who said the spending was counter to the mission of the stimulus program.
"Obviously, no matter whether it's state, local or federal dollars, the taxpayers should know exactly where their money's going and exactly what it's spent on," said Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a Baltimore Democrat. "I don't think when President [Barack] Obama set aside money to stimulate the economy and improve education that it was meant for a makeover."
In a statement, city school officials acknowledged the findings, saying that the district "provided revised guidance, training and support to district and school staff on federal grant guidelines" in the 2010-2011 school year.
District officials said $15 million of $112 million the city received that year was reviewed.
The statement also addressed the dinner cruises.
"Such parent recognition events are not allowable under federal grant guidelines because they are not explicitly linked to building parent capacity," said the statement, referring to school efforts to attract more parent volunteers. "Had these not been grant funds, the expenses would be considered acceptable as general fund expenses."
The auditors also called the $2,413 that the district spent on food for a parent-teacher association meeting "unnecessary and unreasonable."
According to the auditors, the money spent on fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, biscuits, cookies and soda for 28 attendees to discuss a school's budget averaged to $99 per parent, which far exceeded the federal government's $36 per-diem for meals at the time of the purchases.
Auditors highlighted an inappropriate $1,336 expenditure to take 30 people to a theater performance downtown that was described as a parent appreciation dinner and awards ceremony. It also included dinner, dancing and a performance by a local singer.
The report also found that the district inappropriately paid $500 for a catered "makeover day" for mothers and daughters at a local elementary school.
"A makeover day does not fit the requirement of a parental involvement activity, which is to improve student academic achievement," auditors concluded.
Auditors also questioned spending of grant money that is intended to be used to avoid reducing essential educational services. The district used $5,410 for entertainment, such as face painters, balloons and a steel orchestra, at a middle school fair.
"None of the expenditures were for essential activities or services ... or related to school reform, as stated in the purpose of the grant," auditors wrote.
There also was an instance where the system provided faulty and incomplete information.
Remember, the city's infrastructure has been neglected through what was one of the highest economic periods, although based on massive fraud. For two decades money has poured into EBDI and Harbor East while corporate tax breaks rule. THAT IS WHY WE ARE PAYING ALL THESE FEES AND TAXES. As the article below shows your Third Way corporate democrat is still giving billions away to wealth and profit and soaking you and me!!
WE DO NOT NEED TO BE FOOTING THIS BILL.....RECOVERING CORPORATE FRAUD AND TAX EVASION WILL REBUILD ALL CITY INFRASTRUCTURE.
42% hike in Baltimore water, sewer rates planned over next two years Increase of 15% set for July 1 for 1.8 million regional users, followed by increases of 11% in both fiscal 2015 and 2016
. Mark Reutter May 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm Baltimore Sun
Tap water is becoming a pricey commodity in metropolitan Baltimore.
Baltimore officials are proposing a 42% increase in water and sewer rates over the next two years, with the biggest jump starting in six weeks.
The 15% increase on July 1 – almost certain to be passed by the Board of Estimates – would affect 1.8 million residents in the region who rely on “city” water and who discharge waste into sewers maintained by the Bureau of Water and Wastewater.
The steep increase is needed to modernize an aging system prone to breakage and to meet a federal consent decree to stop sewage from overflowing into the Chesapeake Bay.
“Existing financial projections are not sufficient to continue the service improvements and infrastructure investments necessary to keep Baltimore’s water at its consistently high quality and reliability,” Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx said in a press release issued today.
Fox and his aides said the city has taken major steps in improving its poorly-functioning water billing system and “investing ratepayer dollars into the most effective, efficient, essential projects and programs.”
Three weeks ago, City Comptroller Joan Pratt faulted the agency for seeking $27 million for private consultants, led by Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, to oversee upcoming sewer repairs. The funds were approved over her objections by the Board of Estimates.
Last year, The Brew disclosed that the water bureau failed to collect $5.4 million from RG Steel Sparrows Point – the largest user of processed city water – before the company went bankrupt and was liquidated.
Breaking a Barrier
The latest rate increase comes on top of six yearly hikes that have increased water and sewer bills for the average consumer by nearly 50% since 2008.
Today’s announcement represents the first time the city has broken the double-digit “barrier” of rate increases. In prior years, the annual hike has been kept to 9% or less.
The proposed 15% increase, set to start on July 1, would be followed by 11% increase on July 1, 2014 and another 11% hike on July 1, 2015, according to the water bureau.
That would make for a 41.7% jump between now and July 2015, when the third hike would go into effect.
Typically, the Board of Estimates has established new rates one year at a time and not committed to a three-year schedule as proposed today by DPW.
The board will listen to citizen comments about the proposed rates at its regular June 26 meeting before voting on the rate increase, which was submitted by the Rawlings-Blake administration and has the full support of the mayor.
Baltimore’s current and proposed rate (starting July 1) compared with other jurisdictions. The chart places the proposed 2013 rate below Philadelphia and Washington, but higher than New York City. (From Baltimore DPW)
The new rates would automatically affect consumers in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Rate increases in Howard, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties would need to be approved by those jurisdictions.
Lowering the Usage of the “Average” Consumer
To help ease the public-relations fallout of today’s proposed increase, the Bureau of Water published a new formula for calculating the cost of the new rates to consumers.
In prior years, the agency has used as an example “the typical family of four using 320 gallons per day.” But today’s press release – and documentation to the Board of Estimates – calculates usage for a “typical city consumer using 21 ccf (1 ccf equals 100 cubic feet) per quarter.”
The new example translates into just 170 gallons of water per day – or nearly half of the old standard.
As a result, agency calculates an increase of $94.50 in fees over the next fiscal year, compared to a $170.10 increase using the old formula.
“Flush” and Stormwater Fees Not Included
Today’s rate increase does not include the $60-a-year Chesapeake Bay Restoration fee, or “flush tax,” added to all consumer bills as a result of action taken by the Maryland legislation last year.
Nor does it include a new stormwater fee mandated by the state. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed a fee schedule that will cost single-family households between $48 and $114 per year.
The fee would substantially increase the stormwater costs for businesses and larger residential properties. Also set to go into effect on July 1, the stormwater fee has stirred opposition mostly from business groups.
This is absolutely outrageous as it openly fails to meet any of the objectives of tax break policy....it is a pure give-away!!
City Board Approves $100M Tax Break For Energy Giant Headquarters Updated: Monday, May 20 2013, 10:54 PM EDT Fox News WBFF
A development deal that is asking for more than a $100 million tax break to build a corporate headquarters for energy giant Exelon is stirring controversy after the board that approved it refused to release any details about it. Maryland Public Interest Group is one of the many to call into a question a common city practice of granting big tax breaks, known as TIFs, to benefit development projects in Baltimore. TIF's were originally created to spur growth in blighted areas, but in recent years, that have mostly been used to boost pricey projects on prime real estate. The latest TIF, recently granted by the Baltimore Development Corporation, gives over a $100 million tax break to allow Exelon to build a corporate headquarters in a piece of waterfront property in Harbor East. When Fox45 requested details about the analysis that led to the board's decision under the Maryland Public Information Act, the city responded with a letter saying they "are withholding" that information citing "deliberative process privilege." And today, when the city Board of Finance took up the issue, they decided to close the meeting shutting out all media and the public. Some city leaders say the lack of transparency is wrong. "If BDC did it, then I think taxpayers should be privy to that information. Anything that's done with taxpayer dollars - taxpayers should have that information," Councilman Brandon Scott said. The board eventually reopened the doors to tell the media that they gave approval of the huge tax break. The tax break will now go to the City Council for final approval.
THIS IS WHY BALTIMORE AND MARYLAND IS SEEING SO MUCH REGRESSIVE TAX......PUBLIC REVENUE IS BEING LAUNDERED THROUGH THE SYSTEM TO PREFERRED PROJECTS THAT PAD POCKETS....
First, we want to say 'we love Enoch Pratt libraries' especially the Central Library. Then, I want to say that the library just as are churches and other non-profits in the city are being used to funnel private donations and Federal grants around government coffers and into projects for Baltimore Development et al. I have personally watched as I sit in Board of Estimate meetings and read grant proposals how Enoch Pratt receives money from this source and then becomes the source for support to another project. This is the quasi-governmental that is in the shadows of all Baltimore money-transactions and it is not legal and it is corrupt.
Now, corrupting something as valuable to the citizens of Baltimore as the library system should be a red flag to everyone because nation wide there is a move to close libraries as unaffordable. Baltimore's political leaders pushing privatized education does not look for public libraries as value. We do not what the library demonized and I dare say that the administration was not given much choice in participating in these money-laundering schemes as Baltimore Development demand it from all public resources!
Enoch Pratt Library has “material” problems in financial management, city auditor says $3.2 million in funds didn't go to Baltimore City in a timely manner, according to the audit.
Mark Reutter May 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm Baltimore Brew
The city auditor today reported that Baltimore taxpayers were due $3.2 million from the Enoch Pratt Free Library last year – and the library owes the city nearly the same amount this year.
The library’s failure to remit funds in a timely manner was one of seven serious deficiencies (known as “material weaknesses”) cited in a report by City Auditor Robert McCarty Jr.
The auditor also said the public library – which gets 42% of its funds from the city – keeps its financial ledger in such disarray that it was impossible to find documentation “for the majority” of the journal entries tested.
“Without proper documentation, we were unable to determine if journal entries were authorized by management, adequately supported and charged to the proper account number,” McCarty told the Board of Estimates.
McCarty said he identified the same problems in an audit last year, but they have continued uncorrected.
After McCarty notified the library of the missing $3.2 million, the agency remitted the funds to the city on April 11. The library says it will remit “a significant portion” of funds still due to the city “in the coming weeks.”
Other problems cited by today’s audit included “unexplained differences” of $50,000 in an endowment bank account (which was eventually reconciled) and $29,213 in fees that McCarty says should have been transferred to the city.
The library said it found documentation showing that $5,300 of the $29,000 “was actually federal grant revenues” and is still seeking to identify the remaining $23,913.
“We Welcome the Audit”
Asked by The Brew to respond to today’s audit, Roswell Encina, the library’s director of communications, said, “We welcome the audit by the city. We think it helps us correct procedures and do a better job.”
He insisted that the library “has implemented everything the city has recommended or [is] in the process of doing so.”
“The good thing you can say about this audit report is it shows no money was wasted or lost,” he added.
Asked about the audit’s conclusion that library management failed to respond to earlier deficiencies, Encina said the library was hampered by personnel problems and a hiring freeze.
Encina pointed out that the library is one of the few city agencies that is regularly audited. “The Police Department doesn’t get that [a city audit]. The Fire Department, Public Works, don’t get that.”
Starting this year, 13 agencies – including police, fire, housing, public works and transportation – are required by a city charter amendment to undergo audits every fourth year.
The city auditor has begun reviewing the records of the Recreation and Parks Department. The timetable and scope of the other audits have not been finalized.
Sickness and Death
In its written response, the library said the sudden death of a fiscal technician, retirement of its chief of fiscal services, and the serious illness of a part-time CPA resulted in the problems cited in the audit report.
“The loss of those three individuals inevitably caused delays in submission,” the library said. Then, in another blow, the agency’s newly hired fiscal technician “experienced an accident on the job and has been out for nearly six months.”
As a result of these setbacks, “We have hired an accounting temp to assist us with keeping up with day-to-day activities and have implemented several changes in internal procedures in an effort to stay on track so that this does not occur again.”
The seven material weaknesses cited by today’s audit compares with three material weaknesses noted in 2011 – and none in years 2009 and 2010.
With a yearly budget of $34 million and $99 million in net assets, the Pratt has a central library on Cathedral Street and 21 branches. Carla D. Hayden has served as its chief executive officer for the last 20 years.
Again, this utility hike is on the heels of a merger of our smaller energy utility with a regional one making us ready ATMs for profit as we are with the oil companies. This rate increase is subsidizing the cost of Exelon doing business and increases profits.
IT IS THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS MAKING THESE POLICIES AND APPOINTING THE COMMISSIONS THAT APPROVE THEM. VOTE THESE GUYS OUT OF OFFICE AND RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!!
BGE requests rate increase on heels of last caseUtility says request, including monthly surcharge, is needed for infrastructure work
May 17, 2013|By Jamie Smith Hopkins,
The Baltimore SunBaltimore Gas and Electric Co. asked Friday for another rate increase, three months after winning approval for higher charges, and company officials said they expect to seek more in the future.
It's the third time in as many years that BGE has requested higher distribution rates. If approved, the typical residential customer getting both electricity and gas would pay about $72 more a year for distribution.
Company officials said they expect to ask for frequent rate increases as they seek reimbursement for more aggressive tree-trimming, infrastructure upgrades and other work aimed at improving service.
"This phase that we're in of significantly investing in reliability, it's not sort of a 'two-year effort and then finish' kind of thing," said Mark D. Case, BGE's vice president of strategy and regulatory affairs. "This is a long-term cycle."
BGE said its request — which should be decided by state regulators in December — would add $4.41 per month to the typical residential electric customer's bill and $2.50 per month to the typical residential gas bill. Customers who receive both services would pay about $6 extra in total distribution charges, the company said.
That increase would come on top of higher distribution rates from the last two cases that add up to nearly $4 a month on typical residential electric bills and about $4.80 on typical residential gas bills, BGE said.
In addition, BGE asked Friday to add a monthly surcharge on electric bills for five years to accelerate outage-reduction improvements, a move it called consistent with recommendations by Gov. Martin O'Malley's utility task force in the aftermath of last June's damaging derecho windstorm. Typical residential customers would pay about 34 cents a month in the first year, rising to 75 cents by the fifth year, BGE said.
The company said its growing infrastructure expenses in recent years are being offset for customers by generally lower energy costs and improved energy efficiency. If the Maryland Public Service Commission approves the request in full, the typical BGE residential electric bill still would be more than $8 a month cheaper than it was four years ago, the company said.
The monthly gas bill, though, would be more than $5 higher. And the frequent rate increase requests are prompting customer fatigue, particularly after a year that included two major-outage storms.
"Of course I'm not for it," said Noel Levy, co-chairman of the infrastructure committee for the Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition. "We just keep paying more, and we get less electricity."
Customer advocates said all Marylanders should brace for recurring efforts to raise their rates. Five of the state's major utilities have pending requests for higher charges, according to the Maryland Office of People's Counsel, which represents residential utility customers.
"There's a lot of infrastructure-building going on, so we expect to have a lot of rate cases over the next few years," said Theresa Czarski, the deputy people's counsel.
Count on more requests for surcharges to pay for infrastructure, too. Utilities hope a state law taking effect in June will improve their odds of winning regulatory approval for surcharges on gas customers' bills.
BGE's Case said the utility expects to ask for such a gas surcharge in late summer. The amount — perhaps 25 cents a month — would be used to replace old gas mains made of bare steel or cast iron.
Utilities argue that surcharges allow them to accelerate the pace of work because they would start collecting money as the work begins, rather than after the fact. Maryland's regulators have only allowed utilities to seek rate increases for infrastructure work already performed.
But surcharges drive customer advocates crazy. Charles Acquard, executive director of the Silver Spring-based National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, called the charges a "beeline directly into the pockets of consumers" because they don't receive the same level of regulatory scrutiny as rates.
"That's why utilities are after them," he said.
Companies are asking for more surcharges — and rate hikes, too — across the country, Acquard added. Aging infrastructure is one driver of the trend.
BGE said it is seeing results from the past few years of work, such as tree trimming and burying power lines. Outages in all conditions except the most severe storms were down 20 percent in both number and length last year, compared with 2010, Case said.
Of course, the most severe storms produce the worst outages. The derecho and superstorm Sandy fell into that category last year, the former hitting with little advance warning and leaving some BGE customers without air conditioning for eight sweltering days.
The Public Service Commission in February ordered Maryland utilities to come up with a plan to speed up electric-grid improvements.