Remember, it is the national pols that get much of the corporate campaign donations and these pols build political machines at home that protect their seat but also decide who will be funded at the state and local level. These are the political machines that must go. Maryland has labor and justice leaders aligned with the neo-liberals and are responsible for the dismantling of democracy and global corporate rule. Don't vote Republican because all these corporate policies are Republican.
WE NEED LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS WITH LEADERSHIP ACTUALLY WORKING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!
I spoke a few weeks ago about the Maryland League of Women Voters and that organization's capture by leadership and today I want to talk of Maryland ACLU. I want to emphasize-----if you do not protect the election laws that allow equal participation in primary elections it does not matter if you are protecting citizens at the polls. This is the dynamic we see today in Maryland. The Maryland ACLU and NAACP will pretend to fight for citizens rights to go to the polls to vote but both of them are silent and actually participate in breaking election and civil liberties laws.
ANNAPOLIS - On Thursday, March 20, ACLU of Maryland of Maryland Executive Director Susan Goering will be honored by the Maryland Commission for Women as an inductee to the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. Goering is being honored for her 25 years of amazing, dedicated work and leadership on behalf of the rights of all Marylanders as legal director and then executive director of the ACLU.
Maryland American Civil Liberties Union
Ms.Goering's response to my outline of primary election violations of which her Maryland ACLU were apart through their leadership in the Baltimore Education Coalition----BEC----working to install this Michelle Rhee/Johns Hopkins K-12 privatization policy----WE HAVE LIMITED FUNDS AND WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ASSIST IN YOUR LAWSUIT. Let's be clear----my complaint is solid beyond a reasonable doubt and BEC is one of the defendants in my case because they only allowed Democratic candidates who supported this education privatization to participate in their forum and openly 'selected' candidates. The Maryland ACLU not only participated in election rigging----they are the force behind public education privatization under the guise of 'helping low-income schools'.
THIS IS WHY THERE IS NO VOICE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN MARYLAND-----THE JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS ARE CAPTURED BY THE LEADERSHIP.
From: Cindy Walsh – Governor of Maryland democratic primary race
To: Susan Goering - Executive Director of Maryland ACLU
RE: Election violations are systemic in the Baltimore area
2522 N Calvert St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
As a primary candidate for Governor of Maryland living in Baltimore City I request the aid of the Maryland ACLU and Maryland Attorney General’s office in addressing what is a systemic violation of election law that results in a crony and corrupt political process affecting all elections in Maryland, but especially the elections tied to Baltimore, the largest voting district in the state. As a candidate I receive equal protection under law as regards elections in regions all over Maryland but in Baltimore I have not received one opportunity to advance my platform or to gain face and name recognition in this primary race for governor. This is deliberate and it is why voting in the Baltimore is now down to 20%------there are no candidates getting the benefit of election law for whom voters want to vote.
Election are the fundamental principal of a democracy and the US Constitution is unique in the world in stating very strongly that US citizens are the legislators and their rights as citizens who determine law will not be denied. The US is unique as well in a Constitution that offers equal protections under law to all citizens. American election laws clearly state that all 501c3/4 organizations will provide equal access to forums and/or debates open to the community. This includes the political party machines, education institutions from K-college, churches, and private non-profits. These include as well all public media outlets from public radio and TV to government public access media.
I attended a public forum recently given by a private non-profit in Howard County that met every criteria in election law that was run efficiently and openly. Every candidate in the election from local Howard County offices to governor race candidates were sent an email invitation and allowed to participate with equal time and freedom to share their platform to the public. I have dates for similar events all over the state of Maryland. In Baltimore, I am left out of every one. Baltimore has a system where 501c3/4 either openly violate the election laws requiring invitation to all candidates and open forum to discuss their platforms or there is systematic exclusion with policy meant to circumvent the letter of election law with an institution hosting a forum or debate ‘sponsored’ by a private group of individuals that then select the candidates who are invited to speak to the public. The election environment in Baltimore are the kinds of elections held in developing world nations having Constitutions not half as clear about protections of citizens’ rights and Rule of Law including law surrounding elections. When I speak to a state politician whose district includes Baltimore I am told that’s just the way we do it. Well, Rule of Law does not allow this.
I will take one incident already past as a case for the MD ACLU and Maryland Attorney’s office for election violation with the knowledge that I am documenting many such violations to be pursued at the end of this primary session. Violations of election law taint election results and bring into question the candidate designated as having won an election. In the world of Rule of Law and Equal Protection, this election process would be NULL AND VOID. A government cannot allow candidates in major voting districts to be silenced and state that they have free and fair elections.
I am going to start by identifying the Baltimore Education Coalition and its education forum in Baltimore that selectively invited 3 candidates for governor and failed to invite all candidates for governor. Not surprisingly, the candidates for governor chosen were politicians backing the education reform supported by the BEC. This is a clear violation of election law and since education policy in Baltimore is a major priority for parents in the city, the failure to allow politicians with education policy stances counter to what most residents of the city do not want represents a deliberate effort to corrupt free and fair elections and voter’s rights to know the candidates they will see on the primary ballot. When we see a constant reference to the top candidates in the media or as I am known in Baltimore public media-----‘the two other candidates’, you have failed to meet election law requirements that all candidates be given time on public media.
Below we see two separate news journals and their approach to elections. My campaign received an opportunity for input in many news journals across the state as they sent out a general email to all candidates in primary races. In Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun which owns most of the news journals outside public media sent the email below and my campaign did not receive this solicitation…..again, the candidates chosen as the ‘top candidates’----which means global corporate and global market----were included. Now, election law does not require private media to meet election law, but media in America has always been pressured by government to provide a fair and balanced presentation of public events and especially elections. I have received no solicitation from Baltimore public media for my campaign platform or time to speak of my issues----a clear violation of election law. The Gazette, a Washington beltway news journal has a general solicitation policy to meet the spirit of election law:
Read candidates' responses to questions about minimum wage, the economy, taxes, education, Maryland Health Exchange, marijuana and the environment here. Baltimore Sun’s North Baltimore Patch.
As part of its 2014 election coverage, The Gazette is asking all candidates for some basic information about themselves and to fill out a questionnaire. We will post this information on an election page on our website, www.gazette.net. Responses will not be edited, except for possible libel. We need the following information about you and the answers to the questionnaire below by 5 p.m. on March 21.
If you run into any problems as the deadline approaches, please let us know.
The last avenue of election coverage comes with government public access media. Montgomery County has democratic elections and a strong system allowing all candidates access to platforms sharing their views. Maryland League of Women Voters holds its forum in Montgomery County and there is no such forum by the Baltimore League of Women Voters. Its webpage links to this Montgomery County event. Now, as a candidate I am happy to have at least Montgomery County branch adhering to the election laws and one can think that cost of providing this election event may be stopping the Baltimore branch, but again, the one strong source of free and fair elections does not happen in Baltimore, the largest voting district in the state. Then again there is Montgomery County public access media that sends a general email to all candidates for office in primaries to come to their studio to record a platform stance to be available to the public, in Baltimore our government public access has nothing on the primaries:
The League of Women Voters of Maryland and its affiliated local leagues hope you will participate in this process and use this opportunity to reach out to voters in your district. For many years, voters throughout the state have looked to the League of Women Voters for fair and accurate information about candidates and their positions, as a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates.
If you have already scheduled your appointment for Montgomery Community Media’s Candidate Spotlight, you may disregard this e-mail. The deadline to reserve your space for Montgomery Community Media’s Candidates’ Spotlight is this Friday, April 11 at 12pm. To make your appointment, please call 301-424-1730 ext 351 or 313. I have attached the information for your review. We look forward to seeing you at Montgomery Community Media soon!
I have shared these election violations and deliberate policies made to circumvent free and fair elections for a few election cycles to all the players I have listed above. I have as well written formal complaints to the FEC and Maryland Election Board and Maryland Attorney General’s office for several years about this systemic problem in Baltimore elections. I am submitting this letter to each of these agencies tasked with the protection and enforcement of election law once again, this time as the person victimized by this failure to uphold Rule of Law surrounding elections.
I listened to Jon Cardin at a primary event embrace the issue of free and fair elections in his run for Maryland Attorney General. Now, Jon is the head of Maryland Assembly elections committee….and it is no coincidence that his election district reaches into Baltimore. I asked Jon how systemic election violations in Baltimore and his district over decades holds up to having free and fair elections as a platform stance and by extension running for Maryland Attorney General……the office tasked with enforcing election law. Remember, the current Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is not only ignoring Baltimore election violations, he participates in Baltimore forums-------like the Baltimore Education Coalition------that he knows violates election law. As I inform the Federal Election Commission of all of these violations of election law by politicians tasked to upholding these laws we will see how the Federal government is protecting election law whether under a republican Bush or a neo-liberal Obama. Remember, Rule of Law and Equal Protection requires laws to be enforced.
What the citizens of Maryland need to know is that not only are your rights to free and fair elections being violated by the political appointments to government positions tasked with creating and overseeing election law…and/or candidates allowed to run for office as Public Justice tasked with enforcing law openly breaking the law.…but the American system of government has all your elected officials taking an oath of office to serve in the public interest and protect the US Constitution. No matter the office being local, state, or Federal. So, when a Maryland Assembly politician tells me that Election Law is a Federal Law and not his business, I am shouting that the Federal Election Commission would not be derelict in its duties if all of Maryland’s elected officials were shouting about systemic election violations in Baltimore. It is their business and it is their job.
I thank you for your time,
Candidate, Governor of Maryland primary race
If you are not going to court to fight the level of corruption in the Maryland election system you are not working towards civil rights and liberties. A state cannot have 20% voter turnout in primary elections and have free and fair elections. These numbers reflect how our labor and justice organizations have failed in the past to protect these rights. If Maryland ACLU director Goering is going to a Hall of Fame it is for the same reasons Maryland Department of Education head Grammick was honored as an children's advocate in education for overseeing the dismantling of America's strongest public education system and giving us students graduating unable to read and do math.......CAN YOU IMAGINE HONORING PEOPLE FOR FAILING TO MEET THEIR MISSION? IF THE GOAL WAS TO BLOCK THE MISSION-----THAT'S FOR WHAT THESE LEADERS ARE HONORED -----
Now, the Maryland ACLU may not be able to take the state to court for lack of campaign oversight but it can take to court one of the most glaring cases of pay-to-play outside of O'Malley's entire time in office----Attorney General Doug Gansler running for Governor and having a war chest. Gansler has made a career at the AG office of NOT SEEING FRAUD AND CORRUPTION which is why Maryland is ranked at the bottom for fraud and corruption. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been taken from Maryland state and local government coffers by corporate fraud and who donates to these campaign war chests? THE SAME CORPORATIONS STEALING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS HAND GANSLER MILLIONS FOR HIS CAMPAIGN WAR CHEST AS A THANK YOU. The ACLU knows these campaign funding violations and pay-to-play are in open view and does nothing. The costs of court for a complaint so obvious is very low so it is not a cost issue. Below you see it takes another out of state study to make all of Maryland's fraud and corruption public. Clinton has seen that neo-liberals of his choosing are well-funded as he did with Anthony Brown and O'Malley.
TAKING THESE CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS TO COURT IS WHAT WE NEED TO CLEAN UP MARYLAND ELECTIONS. IF YOU THINK THIS IS ABOUT KEEPING THE POOR OR PEOPLE OF COLOR DOWN-----NEO-LIBERALS ARE KILLING DEMOCRACY, ATTACKING THE US CONSTITUTION, AND BRINGING THIRD WORLD CONDITIONS TO THE US WITH THE REPUBLICANS. THIS IS HUGE FOLKS!
At the end of this article you see the last minute Clinton fundraiser for O'Malley for millions that was duplicated for Brown this election cycle-----no time to check from where this money comes. It is easily researched if Maryland had labor and justice leaders!
'Maryland has the 44th-worst-ranked set of campaign finance disclosure laws in the country, according to a UCLA study'.
In Md. governor's race, Baltimore no longer epicenter for campaign cash
By Aaron C. Davis and Luke Rosiak Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 30, 2010; 10:10 PM
Baltimore and its suburbs have for decades served as the epicenter of political fundraising in Maryland. Businesses atop the city's downtown high-rises, often with views of the shimmering Inner Harbor, and wealthy residents farther out in the tidy suburbs that ring the city's version of a beltway have most often opened their checkbooks for candidates running for governor.
Not this year. Down Interstate 95, across the twisty northern span of the Capital Beltway, and tucked in a cluster of gated mansions in Potomac is Maryland's new capital for money in politics.
Just outside the District line, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) have collected more money from Montgomery County's 20854 Zip code than from any other.
"It's mostly Democratic around here, as you can probably see," said John Sverha, a retired former hospital president, motioning late last week to O'Malley campaign signs in yards flanking his relatively modest brick home off Falls Road. "I guess I gave this year to Ehrlich out of principle. I'm expecting a tax hike if O'Malley is reelected."
Sverha's $50 check stands out as noticeably tiny in Potomac. Down the block, a neighbor wrote one to O'Malley for $500. Around the corner, another for $1,000. And thanks largely to donations from a few hundred who live in tree-lined estates with four- and six-car garages north of Congressional Golf Course, the total for Zip code 20854 last week stood at nearly $600,000.
The Washington suburbs' emergence as a fundraising powerhouse, however, has done little to shed light on the industry and business interests working most intently to influence the governor's race.
In fact, good-government advocates say, the shift has only highlighted how, because of weak state laws, much less is known about the way money influences politics in Maryland compared with national races next door in Washington.
For its progressive reputation in many other areas, Maryland has the 44th-worst-ranked set of campaign finance disclosure laws in the country, according to a UCLA study. Donors are shielded from having to disclose the names of their employers, what industries they work in and other basic data commonly required to contribute to federal campaigns.
"When all you can see is that John Jones from Baltimore or Jane Smith from Washington is giving $4,000 to Martin O'Malley, that doesn't mean much," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies at UCLA. "But if you can see that John works for a company where a bunch of other people are giving money and he's a secretary - and how can he afford $4,000? - it raises a whole other set of questions."
Maryland's lack of disclosures makes it impossible to come up with a comprehensive portrait of the interests behind the majority of $26 million being spent to elect and curry favor with the next governor, but a Washington Post analysis identified the industries associated with 40 percent of the money contributed to the two men over the past eight years.
The donors' employers and industries were identified through federal records from the Center for Responsive Politics, information from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, and Post research.
The analysis found that many with related interests are giving more than the state's $4,000 cap for a single political campaign and its $10,000 cap in a four-year period. Some are donating through multiple family members or divisions of a company.
One real estate developer has given 14 donations through 11 different names totaling more than $28,000 to O'Malley since 2007. Five members of the family of Craftmark Homes' Kenneth Malm gave $2,000 each to Ehrlich in a single day in May.
The analysis also turned up more than 150 businesses, some involved in hot-button industries, that have hedged their bets by donating more than half a million dollars to both candidates.
Penn National Gaming, which last month opened Hollywood Casino Perryville, the state's first slots casino, gave $16,000 to O'Malley's campaign on a single day in August. Penn and its political action committee split contributions that day. Each gave two maximum contributions to two different O'Malley campaign accounts.
Gambling interests have given at least $143,000 to the men's campaigns, mostly to O'Malley, in the past two cycles.
Merritt Properties and its leader, Leroy Merritt, which in September unveiled plans for a nearly 40-acre office park for military contractors near the Aberdeen Proving Ground, has in the past two years donated $24,000 to Ehrlich and $6,000 to O'Malley.
Merritt gave 19 contributions totaling $57,000 through 15 entities, including at least 10 differently numbered limited liability corporations. He's given heavily to both candidates but has favored Ehrlich.
Swaths of donors connected to utility companies, health-care providers, defense contractors and construction industries also appear to be betting on O'Malley.
The governor has aggressively moved to implement the federal health-care overhaul approved by Congress, while Ehrlich has vowed to slow it down.
A slice of large donors who work for hospitals and nursing homes favored Ehrlich four years ago. This time they have given more than $120,000 to O'Malley and about $26,600 to Ehrlich.
Total donations from a similar slice of top contributors who work in construction amount to about half of what they were four years ago, near the peak of the housing bubble. The group has given more than $500,000 to O'Malley and $235,000 to Ehrlich. O'Malley's administration has overseen the spending of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money and increased funding for school construction.
Federally registered lobbyists have also given more than $63,500 to O'Malley and nearly $13,000 to Ehrlich.
Combined, the businesses banking on an O'Malley win go a long way to explaining the governor's multimillion-dollar fundraising advantage. As of early last week, O'Malley had raised nearly $12 million to Ehrlich's $7.2 million for the full four-year fundraising cycle. National groups have filled in an estimated $7 million in additional campaign spending, split roughly evenly on both campaigns.
But another criticized feature of Maryland's campaign finance laws means political contributions made in the final weeks before an election are not revealed until weeks later. Nothing is known, for example, about the sources of $800,000 raised in a single day this month for O'Malley at fundraisers headlined by former president Bill Clinton and Vice President Biden.
Maryland has some of the worst violations of civil liberties and civil rights in the nation from labor abuse to police brutality, from ignoring equal protection laws surrounding education and housing to a complete dismantling of public justice institutions leaving Maryland citizens with no pathway to justice. IT IS BREATH-TAKING! Now, prejudice and class issues drive this and that is what neo-liberals and neo-cons use to undermine their constituencies----under the guise of keeping the poor and underserved down-----they are taking the entire US down. Republican voters are decrying the loss of Constitutional rights as much as people of color and women and the middle-class are being killed all because civil liberties and civil rights and public justice has been allowed to be dismantled during Maryland ACLU's Goering tenure. SEE WHY MARYLAND'S 1% WANT TO HONOR GOERING AS WITH GRASMICK----.
The Baltimore Education Coalition is simply a Baltimore Development Corporation used to gentrify communities in city-center. It defies housing and education laws to create a school system that is now in crisis because it has been allowed to be so dismantled. Children are allowed to travel across town, special needs children warehoused in underserved schools already overburdened with child discipline problems, and school choice and school closings over a two decades period has such a level of discrimination that anyone with an ounce of justice as a mission would be aghast. Johns Hopkins is installing the Michelle Rhee/Wall Street model for privatizing K-12 and Maryland ACLU is leading the way.
If you do not care what happens to underserved and special needs children ----you should be concerned that what Maryland ACLU and Johns Hopkins is building in Baltimore will be a platform for the entire state. Korea's neo-liberal model on steroids.
This Bradford case brought supposedly a few billion to Baltimore schools yet almost immediately the funding requirements were ignored until today-----the funding in Thornton has almost disappeared say education activists. Remember, the Algebra Project successfully sued the state for almost a billion dollars for Baltimore City schools and the Maryland Assembly and Governor simply ignored the court award. THAT IS CONTEMPT OF COURT AND SIMPLY NEEDS SOMEONE TO SEND THOSE VOTING AGAINST PAYING THIS COURT AWARD TO JAIL. That's all that needs to be done----Remember, none of this money comes from existing funding----it can all come from ending the billions of dollars in corporate fraud.
Twenty years later Baltimore City schools are crumbling and largely closed from lack of getting any of this money---
The ACLU of Maryland’s Education Reform Project works to ensure that all children in Maryland public schools - particularly those most at risk of failure - are accorded a "thorough and efficient" education as guaranteed by the state Constitution. Our aims include securing adequate and equitable public school funding, and the wise use of that funding to support student achievement, ensuring that school buildings are safe and properly equipped, and providing a positive school climate, including fair and effective discipline policies. The ACLU’s education reform work is rooted in the Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education lawsuit, brought on behalf of Baltimore parents and students in 1994.
Market Post: Mass. School Building Notes Expected to Be Snapped Up
by Hillary Flynn JUL 10, 2014 8:38am ET
The largest deal of the week, $300 million of Massachusetts School Building Authority bond anticipation notes, is expected to be gobbled up by traders.
ACLU Lauds Passage of the $1 Billion Baltimore City School Construction Bill
April 3, 2013
Three years after ACLU released its report, Buildings for Academic Excellence: A Vision and Option to Address Deficient School Facilities in Baltimore City, legislation encompassing its policy proposals is adopted by Maryland legislature
CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, Communications Director, 410-889-8555; email@example.com
Bebe Verdery, Education Reform Project Director, 410-456-7953; firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNAPOLIS, MD - Late last night, the Baltimore City School Construction and Revitalization Act of 2013 - House Bill 860 - was approved overwhelmingly on a bipartisan vote by the House of Delegates, 102-30, following Senate approval of 40-7, and awaits the signature of Governor Martin O'Malley. Under the bill, the State, Baltimore City, and Baltimore City Public Schools will contribute a total of $60 million in funds annually to leverage $1 billion in revenue bonds to implement Phase I of the city school system's 10-year facilities plan.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland's Education Reform Project has worked to address the poor quality city school buildings since the "Kopp" Task Force released its school facilities' report in 2003, highlighting the inequity in facility conditions across the state. While the ACLU's advocacy from 2004-2010 led to some success in increased funds for school infrastructure, it was not enough to keep pace with the rising costs and rate of deterioration of Baltimore's school buildings. It was clear to the ACLU that Baltimore students would never get new and renovated schools without bolder and more innovative approaches.
The ACLU's report, Buildings for Academic Excellence, released in July of 2010, was the first to outline the scope of the problem, the insufficient funding streams, and the successful strategies used by other jurisdictions throughout the country that utilized leveraging and a quicker construction timeline to achieve quality schools for all their students. The Buildings report was followed by a second, commissioned to outline a specific financing plan.
"The passage of this bill represents a huge step toward achieving the goals that we outlined three years ago," said Bebe Verdery, Director of the ACLU-MD's Education Reform Project. "We believed that if solutions based on successful school construction models in other states and districts were presented and developed, we could build a campaign of support among those most affected - students, teachers, parents, school leaders- and gain the support of elected officials. Today, we thank those officials for championing this new law."
Over the past two years, the ACLU worked closely with the Baltimore Education Coalition, various grassroots organizations, and business and philanthropic leaders, to form the campaign, Transform Baltimore: Build Schools, Build Neighborhoods. The campaign was launched in August 2011 and quickly moved the vision of new and renovated schools to the forefront of public awareness and debate. ACLU also worked closely with Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, and school system leaders as they developed a comprehensive 10 Year Plan for school renewals and financing. Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore City delegation recognized the significant impact that a large-scale public school construction program would have not only on student outcomes but also on job creation and long-term economic stability for neighborhoods, making the bill their top legislative priority for 2013.
The new law will establish a structure and funding for Phase I of City Schools' 10-year facilities plan. This includes approximately 50 fully renovated or newly built schools over the next seven years (including the initial year of planning). "We look forward to the day when all City schoolchildren arrive each morning in schools with sufficient heat, air-conditioning, water fountains from which they can drink, 21st century technology, and playing fields where they can get exercise," said ACLU-MD's Frank Patinella. Approximately 50-55 schools will be built new or fully renovated in neighborhoods across the city. Some 26 schools will close and their student populations will be transferred to the new/renovated schools.
HB 860 requires the State, City, and city school system each to commit $20 million in funds annually towards debt service for the historic $1 billion investment in city school construction. The State's $20 million will come from lottery proceeds; the City's share from future gaming revenue, the beverage container tax, and additional aid generated from retiree health funding; and the school system's share will be generated partially from the savings associated with closing buildings, and operational savings as the more efficient, modern buildings come online. The Maryland Stadium Authority will serve as the financing agent and oversee the implementation of Phase I of the 10-Year Plan, as approved by the Baltimore City School Board of Commissioners. The Stadium Authority will be responsible for building the approximately 15 new schools and City Schools will oversee the 35+ full-renovation projects. To ensure accountability, transparency, and quality, the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) will maintain its role in approving projects in the plan. A Memorandum of Understanding among the City School System, the City, the IAC, and the Stadium Authority must be completed by October 1, 2013.
School system consultants estimated that Phase I will generate 8,000 jobs in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland. During the hearings and floor debate in the House and Senate, state leaders touted the city school construction plan as a win for the whole state. "Kudos to Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Dr. Alonso for prioritizing this critical issue for the city," said Neil Bergsman, Director of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute. "Revitalizing the city must be comprehensive - significant investment in schools and neighborhoods is needed to attract and keep families in the city."
The ACLU will continue working with the Transform Baltimore campaign and the Baltimore Education Coalition to ensure that Phase I is implemented to achieve the best outcome for city students. "The ACLU is committed to work with officials to explore options to fund the second phase of the Baltimore City Public Schools' $2.4 billion 10-year plan," said ACLU's Patinella. "All Baltimore schoolchildren and their teachers must be in modernized buildings by the end of this process."
If anyone knows that the banking system is systemically fraudulent it is the Maryland ACLU. They knew that the subprime mortgage fraud in Baltimore was targeting city residents and they know now that the bank leveraging deal they helped broker above will end with the coming bond market crash taking all those school buildings tied to these same criminal banks in the article below doing the same kinds of criminal deals against the public.
THE MARYLAND ACLU KNOWS THIS AND IS SETTING THESE BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOLS UP TO BE HANDED OVER TO PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS WHEN THE STATE AND CITY ARE FORCED TO DEFAULT WITH THE COMING CRASH.
This is not speculative or conspiratory----this is a long-term plan to capture all public wealth to the top. The Baltimore Development Corporation has made it a point of having all the banks listed below included in the downtown development especially Harbor East. Baltimore and Maryland is always first out of the gate with these lawsuits because we are soaked with these frauds and as we all see----the settlements on these frauds are pennies on the dollar with no convictions.
Tying our city schools to yet more Wall Street financial instruments just before what they know will be a huge economic crash in the bond market has nothing to do with helping the underserved schools---it is a development tool to hand Baltimore public schools over to private investment firms. I have written several times and spoken to these people at BEC telling them what the goal was with this Wall Street building plan----
SEE WHY GOERING IS HONORED? SHE HEADED ONE OF MARYLAND'S JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS THAT OVERSAW DIRECT ATTACKS ON PUBLIC JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN MARYLAND.
This bid-rigging is why O'Malley was elected Governor of Maryland and why he may be a Vice-Presidential candidate in 2016-----no one has handed as many billions of dollars of Maryland and Baltimore taxpayer revenue to Wall Street through fraud and corruption than the O'Malley/Rawlings-Blake tag team. It is why Doug Gansler had his Attorney General offices in Baltimore----to protect the most corrupt of City Hall's in the nation. 50 States Attorney General shouted at the Federal Reserve in 2005 that the banking industry was systemically fraudulent so no claims of 'not knowing' are valid----these pols fed the taxpayer's money to these Wall Street deals in open public malfeasance. The justice organizations like Maryland ACLU and NAACP knew as well and are now conspiring with this coming bond market fraud looking to take an incredible amount of public we
Conspiracy of Banks Rigging States Came With Crash
(Update1) By Martin Z. Braun and William Selway - May 18, 2010 08:55 EDT
Conspiracy of Banks Rigging States Came With Crash
May 18 (Bloomberg) -- A telephone call between a financial adviser in Beverly Hills and a trader in New York was all it took to fleece taxpayers on a water-and-sewer financing deal in West Virginia. The secret conversation was part of a conspiracy stretching across the U.S. by Wall Street banks in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market.
The call came less than two hours before bids were due for contracts to manage $90 million raised with the sale of West Virginia bonds. On one end of the line was Steven Goldberg, a trader with Financial Security Assurance Holdings Ltd. On the other was Zevi Wolmark, of advisory firm CDR Financial Products Inc. Goldberg arranged to pay a kickback to CDR to land the deal, according to government records filed in connection with a U.S. Justice Department indictment of CDR and Wolmark.
West Virginia was just one stop in a nationwide conspiracy in which financial advisers to municipalities colluded with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Wachovia Corp. and 11 other banks.
They rigged bids on auctions for so-called guaranteed investment contracts, known as GICs, according to a Justice Department list that was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24 and then put under seal. Those contracts hold tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
California to Pennsylvania
The workings of the conspiracy -- which stretched from California to Pennsylvania and included more than 200 deals involving about 160 state agencies, local governments and non-profits -- can be pieced together from the Justice Department’s indictment of CDR, civil lawsuits by governments around the country, e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News and interviews with current and former bankers and public officials.
“The whole investment process was rigged across the board,” said Charlie Anderson, who retired in 2007 as head of field operations for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt bond division. “It was so commonplace that people talked about it on the phones of their employers and ignored the fact that they were being recorded.”
Anderson said he referred scores of cases to the Justice Department when he was with the IRS. He estimates that bid rigging cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Anderson said prosecutors are lining up conspirators to plead guilty and name names.
“This will go on for a long time and a lot of people will be indicted,” he said in a telephone interview.
The U.S. Treasury Department encourages public bidding for GIC contracts to ensure that localities are paid proper market rates. Banks that conspired in the bid rigging for GICs paid kickbacks to CDR ranging from $4,500 to $475,000 per deal in at least 10 different transactions, government court-filed documents say.
A GIC is similar to a certificate of deposit, but its rates aren’t advertised publicly. Instead, towns rely on advisory firms such as CDR to solicit competing offers.
In the bid-rigging deals, CDR gave false information to municipalities and fed information to bankers allowing them to win with lower interest rates than they were otherwise willing to pay, the indictment says. Banks took their illegal gains from the additional returns and paid CDR kickbacks, according to the indictment.
Not Guilty Plea
Wolmark, 54, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan on antitrust, conspiracy and wire fraud charges, to which he pleaded not guilty, declined to comment when reached by telephone at CDR’s office. Goldberg, who hasn’t been charged, declined to comment, says his attorney, John Siffert.
Court records in the broadest-ever criminal investigation of public finance shed new light on how Wall Street’s biggest banks were cheating cities and towns during the same decade in which they were setting the stage for a global economic collapse.
As the banks were steering the world’s financial system to the brink of catastrophe by loading more than $1 trillion of subprime mortgage loans into opaque debt investments, they were also duping public officials across the U.S.
Many of the same bankers and advisers who sold public officials interest-rate swap deals that backfired for taxpayers are now subjects of the criminal antitrust investigation involving GICs.
The swaps are derivatives designed to keep monthly interest payments low as lending rates change. Municipal-derivative units of the largest U.S. banks also sold the contracts, public records across the nation show.
Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events like changes in the weather or interest rates. Options and futures are the most common types of derivatives.
A key witness in the government’s case is a former banker whom the government hasn’t named, according to a civil lawsuit filed by Baltimore, Maryland, and six other municipal borrowers against Bank of America, JPMorgan and nine other banks. The banker is providing evidence against his peers.
The witness, who was employed by Bank of America Corp. starting in 1999, has laid out the inner workings of the scheme in confidential meetings with investigators, according to the civil lawsuit.
Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has also been providing prosecutors with evidence since at least 2007. The bank voluntarily reported its own illegal activity and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s antitrust division, according to a press release from the company.
In exchange, the government promised in an amnesty agreement not to prosecute the bank. Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton in San Francisco said in an e-mail the firm is continuing to cooperate.
The banker who has been cooperating with the Justice Department said he overheard his colleagues change Bank of America’s bids after coaching from brokers or other banks bidding on the same deal, according to information that the firm provided to plaintiffs in the civil case filed by seven municipalities.
At least five former bankers with New York-based JPMorgan, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, conspired with CDR to rig bidding on investment deals sold to local governments, according to the Justice Department list now under seal.
At least three other former JPMorgan bankers are targets of the investigation, according to filings with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Six bankers with Bank of America, the biggest U.S. lender, are also named in the sealed Justice Department list as participants.
Eighteen employees at 16 other companies, including units of General Electric Co., UBS AG and FSA, then a unit of Brussels lender Dexia SA, are also cited as co-conspirators by the Justice Department, according to the list under seal. None have been charged in the case.
Citigroup spokesman Alex Samuelson, Dexia spokesman Thierry Martiny, GE spokesman Ned Reynolds, JPMorgan spokesman Brian Marchiony, UBS spokesman Doug Morris, and Ferris Morrison, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo & Co., which acquired Wachovia in 2008, declined to comment.
Former CDR employees Douglas Goldberg, Daniel Naeh and Matthew Rothman, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan in February and March to wire fraud and conspiracy to rig bids.
In October, CDR was charged with criminal conspiracy and fraud, along with Chief Executive Officer David Rubin, 48, vice president Evan Zarefsky and Wolmark. They pleaded not guilty. Rubin, who was also charged with making fraudulent bank transactions, faces as much as $3 million in fines and more than 30 years in jail if convicted.
No Law Broken
Rubin declined to comment in a telephone call.
“Mr. Rubin doesn’t think that CDR broke the law in any of these transactions,” said Laura Hoguet, his attorney in New York.
Daniel Zelenko, a lawyer for Zarefsky in New York, said he was confident his client will prevail at trial.
“The government continues to show that it simply doesn’t understand how this market operated,” Zelenko said in an e-mail.
During more than three years of investigation, federal prosecutors amassed nearly 700,000 tape recordings and 125 million pages of documents and e-mails regarding public finance deals.
Municipalities and states raise $400 billion a year by selling bonds. They invest much of those proceeds in GICs, sold by banks or insurance companies. Those accounts hold taxpayer money and earn interest before public agencies spend it.
Banks and advising firms illegally siphoned money from taxpayers by paying artificially low interest rates in the GICs, the CDR indictment says. The money was intended to build schools, hospitals, roads and sewers and refinance higher-cost debt.
The bid-rigging schemes were orchestrated by CDR and other advisory firms, according to the indictment and the civil suits. Advisers are unregulated private firms hired by local governments to consult on public finance deals -- and are almost always paid by the banks that arrange the transactions or manage the GICs.
CDR, which was located on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California, during the transactions under investigation, has provided advice on more than $158 billion in public transactions since it was founded in 1986, according to its website.
CDR helped arrange deals in which financial firms took millions of dollars in profits from GICs, Bloomberg News reported in October 2006. Almost all of the deals were shams: As much as $7 billion in bond-issue proceeds were invested in GICs but never spent for the intended purpose of providing services to taxpayers.
CDR signed off on interest-rate swaps to municipalities, as banks took hidden fees sometimes 10 times as much as they charged on fixed-rate bond deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For the public, the swaps were fraught with risks.
In the past decade, banks have peddled swaps the world over, from Jefferson County, Alabama -- which was forced to the brink of bankruptcy -- to the hill towns of the Umbria region of Italy. Many of these swaps soured when the credit crisis began in 2007.
Dozens of municipalities have paid banks billions to get out of swap contracts. The agency that oversees the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge said it spent $105 million to escape its deal in July 2009.
“They were gouging the municipalities,” said retired IRS investigator Anderson, 59. “Beside the excessive fees, some of the swap deals just didn’t work. It was just awful. The same people were involved in the GIC end of the market.”
Bid rigging not only cheated cities and towns, it also illegally denied the IRS required taxes from GIC income, Anderson said. The evidence is clear in telephone recordings made on GIC desks, he said. “We could hear people talking about how everyone knew who was going to win the bid. You could tell it was just everyday business.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a probe of bid rigging from its Philadelphia office that’s parallel to the Justice Department investigation.
State attorneys general in California, Connecticut and Florida are also investigating. Bank of America, JPMorgan, Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE, and Zurich-based UBS have disclosed in regulatory filings that they may be sued by the SEC.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has raided at least two of CDR’s competitors, Pottstown, Pennsylvania-based Investment Management Advisory Group Inc., known as Image, and Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Sound Capital Management. Neither has been charged.
Robert Jones, a managing director of Image, declined to comment, after answering a call to the firm’s office. Johan Rosenberg of Sound Capital didn’t return calls seeking comment.
Tape recordings cited in a letter by Justice Department prosecutor Rebecca Meiklejohn show how those deals worked. In two GIC bids for the Utah Housing Corp., CDR’s Zarefsky advised an unidentified trader that his firm could lower its offer by “a dime,” or 10 basis points (a basis point is 0.01 percentage point).
‘A Couple Bucks’
The West Valley City-based housing agency accepted contracts with GE’s FGIC Capital Market Services division for 5.15 percent and 3.41 percent in 2001, public records show. Zarefsky didn’t return calls seeking comment.
“I can actually probably save you a couple bucks here,” Zarefsky told the trader, according to the letter citing the tape recording.
The Utah agency, which finances mortgages for low-income residents, didn’t know that financial firms were cheating it out of money that could have been used to help home buyers, said Grant Whitaker, who runs the agency. “It sounds like somebody got a better deal than we did,” he said in a telephone interview.
Such deals could produce large illegal profits by banks, said Bartley Hildreth, public finance professor at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
A New Wrinkle
“Just a basis point on many of these deals is tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Wall Street has faced accusations of reaping excessive fees on investment deals with public officials. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy in 2008, Merrill Lynch & Co. and other securities firms agreed by 2000 to pay more than $170 million to settle SEC charges that they had sold overpriced Treasury bonds to municipalities.
The so-called yield burning drove down the returns that local governments earned and trimmed required payments to the IRS. The firms neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.
Even as the banks were settling with regulators, they devised another way to burn yield, this time by skimming money from GICs, according to the indictment, which said the conspiracy went from 1998 to at least 2006.
In the lawsuit against Bank of America and JPMorgan filed in New York in June 2009, the city of Baltimore, two Mississippi universities and four other municipal borrowers say that bankers from those two companies colluded in bidding for GIC contracts in Pennsylvania.
At a holiday party sponsored by advising firm Image at Sparks Steak House in Manhattan early in the past decade, the Pennsylvania deals were discussed by the Bank of America trader who is cooperating with prosecutors and Sam Gruer of JPMorgan, the civil antitrust lawsuit says.
The Bank of America trader told Gruer that he was happy that the two banks weren’t “kicking each other’s teeth out” on bidding for certificates of deposits for bond proceeds, the suit says. That information was provided by Bank of America to the plaintiffs.
Gruer, who was informed by prosecutors in 2007 that he was a target of the investigation, declined to comment.
Coaching a Bidder
The trader who is now a federal witness joined Bank of America after being recommended by Image, according to information that the bank turned over to the Baltimore-led plaintiffs. He was assigned by Phil Murphy, who headed the municipal trading desk, to be Bank of America’s point person for investment contracts bid by Image, the lawsuit says.
Image coached Bank of America in winning an investment contract in Pennsylvania, according to an internal e-mail exchange in May 2001 between Bank of America trader Dean Pinard and Image’s Peter Loughhead that was obtained by Bloomberg News. The e-mail was provided to Bloomberg by a person who got it from Bank of America and asked to remain unidentified.
Loughead, who ran bids for Image, advised Pinard on how much to offer for managing the cash fund for a $10 million bond issued by the sewer authority of Springfield Township, York County, 100 miles (161 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.
‘Don’t Fall on Any Swords’
Pinard said in the e-mail to Loughead that Bank of America was willing to pay the town as much as $40,000 upfront to win the deal. Loughead wrote that the bank didn’t need to pay that much.
“Don’t fall on any swords,” Loughead wrote to Pinard the day before bids were submitted. He suggested that the bank could win the contract with a bid of slightly more than $30,000. The next day, Bank of America offered $31,000. It won the bidding, authority records show.
Loughead didn’t return calls seeking comment. Pinard didn’t respond to telephone requests for an interview and no one responded to a knock on the door at his Charlotte home.
Image ensured that Bank of America would dominate GIC deals in Pennsylvania by soliciting sham bids from other banks to make the process look legitimate, according to testimony from the trader cooperating with the Justice Department.
Bank of America would return the favor to Image by submitting so-called courtesy bids at the adviser’s request, allowing JPMorgan to win some of the deals, according to information that Bank of America gave plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Bank of America has cooperated with the municipalities that were suing the bank as part of its 2007 amnesty agreement with the Justice Department.
Traders such as FSA’s Goldberg often had worked for several banks and insurance companies that had a role in GIC contracts, according to employment records with Finra, the self-regulator of U.S. securities firms. CDR employees went on to work in the derivative departments of Deutsche Bank AG and UBS, the records show.
Before joining Bank of America, Pinard, 40, worked at Wheat, First Securities Inc. in Philadelphia with two bankers who would later join Image, according to broker registration records.
“Few people understand this part of public finance,” Georgia State’s Hildreth said. “It is a very small band of brothers who know the market. So, of course, they are going to reap the benefits.”
For nearly a decade, CDR founder Rubin, Wolmark, and Zarefsky helped fix prices on investment deals that cheated taxpayers in at least 34 states, according to their indictments and records filed in the case.
FSA’s Goldberg, who received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. John’s University in Queens, New York, worked with CDR employees on GIC deals, according to the indictment and public records. Goldberg worked from 1999 to 2001 at GE, which gets 35 percent of its revenue from financial services.
Goldberg was referred to only as “Marketer A” in the CDR indictment. “Marketer A” was then later identified as FSA’s Steven Goldberg in the Justice Department list of co-conspirators.
At GE, Goldberg worked with Dominick Carollo, a senior investment officer for FGIC, and Peter Grimm, who worked there from 2000 until at least 2006, according to court documents and public records. GE sold FGIC in 2003 to a group led by mortgage insurer PMI Group Inc.
Goldberg and Grimm worked with CDR to increase their gains on GIC deals, according to the CDR indictment and conspirator list. Carollo left GE in 2003, joining the derivatives unit of Royal Bank of Canada. Grimm and Carollo didn’t respond to telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Goldberg continued to participate in the conspiracy after he left for FSA in 2001 and used swap deals with Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada and UBS to funnel kickbacks to CDR, according to the indictments and the Justice Department list of conspirators. Royal spokesman Kevin Foster said the company is cooperating the government.
FSA, Royal Bank of Canada and UBS all worked on public finance deals in West Virginia that prosecutors say involved bid rigging.
At least three times, Goldberg conspired with CDR to pick up deals with West Virginia agencies, according to a guilty plea by former CDR employee Rothman and other records filed in federal court in Manhattan. Among them was a $147 million investment contract with the West Virginia School Building Authority.
That state’s schools need every penny they can get, said Mark Manchin, executive director of the school authority. With 17 percent of West Virginians below the poverty line in 2008, the state was 45th among the 50 U.S. states, according to a 2009 Census Bureau report. Manchin said some students study in dilapidated, century-old buildings.
“It’s just raw greed at the expense of the most vulnerable,” he said in a telephone interview. “With deteriorating facilities all over the state, that money is what we use to build schools.”
Bank of America’s municipal derivatives division, which was formed in 1998, worked on the 14th floor of the Hearst Tower in Charlotte. The space was so tight that the banker who’s cooperating with the Justice Department said he could hear others in the office change their bids when they got word from financial advisers, according to information Bank of America gave Baltimore.
Bank of America’s Murphy told the banker helping prosecutors that Image would use sham auctions to steer deals to Bank of America if the employee told Image that he “wanted to win” and “would work with” Image, according to the civil suit filed by Baltimore. Murphy declined to comment.
They would use verbal cues to communicate. The banker would ask whether the bid was a “good fit” to get information on competing bids from Image. Sometimes Image’s Martin Stallone said Bank of America’s bids were “aggressive,” or too high, and had to be reworked.
At other times, Stallone would ask the banker to bid a specific number, according to the civil suit.
Stallone didn’t respond to messages left for him at work or to a list of questions faxed and e-mailed to Image.
Like Financial Security Assurance, Bank of America also paid kickbacks to brokers for their help in getting deals, according to the Baltimore lawsuit, which based its allegations on information provided by Bank of America.
On June 28, 2002, Douglas Campbell, a former municipal derivatives salesman at Bank of America, wrote in an e-mail to his boss, then managing director Murphy, that he had paid $182,393 to banks and brokers not tied to any particular deals.
Three payments totaling $57,393 went to CDR, which played no role in any transaction connected to that amount. A copy of the e-mail was contained in a North Carolina lawsuit filed by Murphy against Bank of America in 2003.
“The CDR fees have been part of the ongoing attempt to develop a better relationship with our major brokers,” Campbell wrote.
The bid rigging in GIC contracts has reduced public funding for schools and housing across the U.S.
“If this was going on in a small state like West Virginia, it must have been huge elsewhere,” the state’s Assistant Attorney General Doug Davis said.