Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Principal of William Hall Academy in PGCPS Accused of going with the Counselor INTO parents homes uninvited

D Evans III

The Principal of William Hall Academy Mr. Darrl C. Evans is accused by PGCPS Parents of going into parents homes uninvited to determine whether or not the family resides in Prince George’s County.

According to M Pam Brown a parent who published a post on facebook, “the Principal has taken to going with the Counselor INTO parents homes uninvited to determine whether or not the family lives in their homes!?! They are getting the landlords to give them access.”

What is your take on this? Is the Principal doing the right thing or just being misunderstood or going too far?

Sample some of the reactions from the facebook post, after a PGCPS parent Pam Brown narrated her story.  

Quantane L Higginbotham That’s illegal and they should be reported. 

Jamie’s Nursery This is the incident that has happened to me. The landlord violated my rights. He was not even suppose to come into the property without notifying me first. The principal wanted to verify that my family resides at our home. I felt forced to comply when the principal showed up at my door. I have given the school utility bills, my drivers licence, recent court documents stating my address, etc… He saw for himself that the place of residence was we’re we lived but he has withdrawn my children from school stating that I did not give enough evidence. One of my children are special needs he has Cerebral Palsy😥. How can this be justified? I don’t understand.

Ann Marie Coleman Not only is the principal and her counselors subject to criminal issues, those landlords are responsible for allowing illegal access. This is not going to go well.

Judy Mickens-Murray Why does it feel like our Prince George’s School System is totally out of control when it comes to parental rights? I refuse to believe this inappropriate behavior is sanctioned by Maxwell or Baker. Need to hear from them quickly on this issue.

Theresa Mitchell Dudley This sounds horrible. There is always a reason a principal asks for documentation of address. Normally it is because some mail was returned to the school undeliverable or there is no response to attempts to contact the parent. A home visit with the counselor or the PPW can take place. I have done home visits as a classroom teacher when I could not reach a parent. If there is a special needs child involved there is a great deal of mail that is sent. The landlord is required to notify you when coming. The school system does not have the same burden. You can appeal the decision of the principal with your documentation. I am very troubled that students are being put out 3/4 through the school year. There should be a better method to keep the children’s school year from being disrupted.

Jamie’s Nursery No mail has been sent or returned. I’m in the school everyday in the morning and afternoon to bring in my special needs child and to speak with the staff. I have voiced complaints as far as the services my child has not been receiving and they just wanted a way to get rid of me and my children to be done with us. I have spoken to the principle about what was going on with my landlord. My husband and I even brought the police to the school to speak with him about that being our residence. If the principle wanted to do a home visit. I was right their in the secretaries office. Why would you not ask me can I let you visit my home? There is no method or better method. This is my children’s boundary school. The address that the principle at William Hall (Mr. Evans) came to is my home he saw me open the door with my key to enter. What am I supposed to do now with my children? Homeschool them and what about my work? If I need to I will contact a lawyer, but I am trying to have this matter sorted out before I have to take that action. My landlord and the principle discussed personal things regarding my family over the phone as well as the principle accepting God knows what pictures my landlord sent. Can you tell me if this is justifiable?


Maryland lawmakers advance bill that requires schools to teach sexual consent


A view of the Maryland State House in Annapolis. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Sex education classes in Maryland would have to include instruction on consent under a bill that is moving through the General Assembly, a measure an advocate called “one of the most important things that we can do to prevent college sexual assaults.”

Under the measure, middle and high school students would learn what consent means and about how to respect personal boundaries.

“If we wait to teach them about consent when they are a freshman in college, it’s already too late,” said Lisae C. Jordan, director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The Senate on Friday advanced the bill, which is expected to receive final approval next week.

Bill sponsors said the national #MeToo movement helped move the measure forward this year. Last year, a similar bill died on the final day of session.

At least two dozen states this year are considering legislation that would incorporate sexual-violence prevention into middle and high school curriculums, or sooner.

“It is time to come up with some solutions to proactively address [sexual harassment] at age-appropriate levels,” said Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery), the Senate sponsor. “This is a common-sense piece of legislation that takes important steps in educating future generations . . . on the understanding of consent.”

The vote on the consent bill came as the 90-day legislative session moves into the final stretch with several high-stakes bills left to consider, including a $5 billion incentive package to lure Amazon to Maryland, a controversial measure to address the violence in Baltimore, a bill to diversify the ownership licenses in the medical marijuana industry and a package of bills to deal with school safety.

The General Assembly adjourns on April 9.

Del. Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the consent bill in the House, is also awaiting action on a bill that overhauls how the state legislature deals with sexual harassment.

The Senate Rules Committee, which will decide whether the bill on preventing sexual harassment moves forward, heard testimony on Friday from Kelly about the measure, which is a top priority of the Women Legislators of Maryland caucus.

The committee decided not to vote.

“We’re going to hold it so that everybody can look at the bill, ” Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr. (D-Anne Arundel County) told Kelly after her testimony.

Kelly asked if the committee had any idea when a vote might take place.

“It’s important to us this bill passes this year because we have elections coming up and lots of new legislators are coming in, so we want to make sure these policies are in place before the new legislators come in,” she said.

DeGrange said there is still a week to go. Senate Minority Leader Sen. J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County) shook his head, adding “plenty of time.”

Also on Friday, lawmakers gave final approval to a plan to give Metro its full share of $167 million annuallyin new, permanent funding — meaning that for the first time since it was created in 1976, the system could have a dedicated funding stream.

The Maryland state Senate voted unanimously to approve the bill, which has also been endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). In the Senate, the bill was celebrated as a bipartisan success.

“This is much needed,” state Sen. Andrew A. Serafini (R-Washington) said on the Senate floor. “This is a good bill . . . it’s fixed what needs to be fixed capital-wise, and it also put some things in there that will make us be assured that these problems will be fixed in the out years.”

Both Virginia and the District have already committed to provide their respective shares to the fund, which totals $500 million and which Metro says is necessary to ensure safety and reliability.

The House of Delegates originally considered a bill providing $125 million, and it then moved up to $150 million with agreement from Hogan. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said last week that the Senate would approve the full $167 million. The bill will next go to Hogan’s desk. His office said last week he looks forward to signing it into law as soon as possible.

Via Washington Post 


Kentucky teachers shut down multiple school systems, in uproar over pension bill


Whitney Walker, second left, and Tracy Kurzendoerfer protest outside of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s office on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Frankfort, Ky. Walker and Kurzendoerfer are teachers in Fayette County. Both called in sick on Friday to protest a bill lawmakers passed late Thursday that makes changes to the state’s pension system. (AP Photo/Adam Beam) (Adam Beam/AP)

Multiple school systems in Kentucky were forced to close Friday, as teacher absences soared amid growing protest over legislation that educators say would strike a blow to pension plans.

Teachers from across the state descended on the capitol in Frankfort, outraged about what they described as a surprise move to pass legislation their union said Friday would mean existing employees pay more for pension benefits and new hires don’t get the same plan that previous generations relied on.

The protesters hung a sprawling banner from a capitol balcony — “Kentucky deserves better” — as hundreds converged, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. A rally is planned for Monday, when lawmakers return to the Capitol and most teachers are on spring break, union officials said.

The action in Kentucky came as the latest flash point over pay and benefits for the nation’s teachers. In West Virginia, educators closed schools for nine days as they held out for a 5 percent raise, which they won for teachers and all state workers in March.

More recently Arizona teachers, among the nation’s lowest-paid, threatened to strike over raises and funding cuts to school programs. Oklahoma teachers are planning a walkout Monday if they don’t get what they want before then.

In Kentucky, the teacher absences touched off school closings in the state’s largest school systems, in Louisville and Lexington. School officials in Lexington said more than one-third of school employees did not show up Friday, and they did not have enough substitutes to compensate.

The Courier Journal found more than 20 counties announcing school closures Friday, as tensions flared. Kentucky has 173 school systems, located in 120 counties.

The state teachers’ union, the Kentucky Education Association, with a membership of 45,000, had not called on teachers to skip the workday but issued a sharply worded statement about the legislative action.

“This kind of backroom dealing is shameful,” the statement said. “Pitting government interests against the interests of current and future educators is cowardly.”

John Darnell, a principal in Bellevue, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, said his schools were open Friday but “there is no wrong decision for teachers today,” calling the legislation “a slap in the face.”

“Our entire public education system is under attack,” Darnell said.

Union officials said the pension bill had all but died earlier in March and was suddenly revived Thursday as Republican lawmakers attached it to another bill that addressed wastewater services, not teacher pensions.

They likened the bill’s sudden resurgence to a classic “bait and switch” that left no time for public vetting. The union first got a look at the 291-document after the bill passed.

Republican lawmakers described the measure — aimed at helping to fix the state’s broken pension system — as a compromise that would address concerns raised by a previous bill, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Both the House and Senate passed the bill, which goes to Gov. Matt Bevin (R).

Bevin signaled his support, tweeting: “Tonight 49 members of the Kentucky House and 22 members of the Kentucky Senate voted not to keep kicking the pension problem down the road. Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men & women who did the right thing.”

Via Washington Post 


State of Kentucky Map



Emotions run high as unauthorized pay raises discussed at PGCPS board.

 – Prince George’s County teachers and parents were fired up at a school board meeting Thursday night as they confronted school district leaders about unauthorized pay raises in the school system along with other issues.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that several employees in the human resources department for Prince George’s County Public Schools received 10 to 12 percent pay hikes that were not approved by the school board. There is an investigation underway into whether there were additional unauthorized raises.

“Stop taking our tax dollars, putting it in your pockets, giving you all secret raises, and you know what they are doing because you’re here,” said parent Phyllis Wright. “How can they get raises and we don’t know nothing about it.”

Another major topic discussed at the meeting were about five employees from DuVal High School who lost their jobs following the grade-fixing scandal that has plagued the school system. One of those fired employees, guidance counselor Troy Sibila, attended Thursday night’s meeting. He previously told FOX 5 in an exclusive interview that he and his fired co-workers were made scapegoats for the scandal.

However, he received a lot of support Thursday night as he continues to fight to get his job back.

“I am here to stand in solidarity with our DuVal counselors who were thrown under bus for political gain,” DuVal teacher Cela Gomez-Showell. “They followed orders from up the chain of command.”

“Understand that you cannot fire your way out of this,” said Theresa Mitchell-Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association. “Our members at DuVal High School are afraid for their jobs. Everybody is worrying about what is going to happen next, who is going to get it next, what school is going to be next.”

There was a bright spot for parents and teachers during Thursday night’s meeting. The school board voted to fully restore spring break and all schools will be closed next week.

via Fox5 DC


hundreds of administrators, teachers, students, and parents came out to the Board of Education meeting at Sassce to enforce their rights.


Longtime Baltimore lawmaker admits taking bribes; resigns from Senate


Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D-Baltimore City), shown in 2009, admitted accepting bribes from an undercover FBI source posing as a real estate developer. (Glenn Fawcett/AP)

Hours after resigning from the Maryland state senate, Nathaniel T. Oaks on Thursday pleaded guilty to public corruption charges.

Oaks, a longtime Democratic lawmaker from Baltimore, admitted in federal court that he accepted more than $15,000 in bribes from a man he thought was a real estate developer, in exchange for help securing funds for a project.

He is set to be sentenced July 17 in federal court in Baltimore.

Late Wednesday night, Oaks, 71, submitted a letter of resignation to Senate leadership saying he had decided to step down “to eliminate all clouds that have hovered over the 2018 Legislative Session.”

“Due to any potential concerns or questionable activities on my behalf, it is with deep regret, respect and all my love for Baltimore City, the Maryland General Assembly, its leadership, my ­legislative colleagues and my constituents in the 41st District, that I resign my position,” Oaks said.

Oaks is the second Maryland lawmaker embroiled in a federal corruption scandal to resign in the past two years. Former state delegate Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) resigned on the first day of the 2017 legislative session. He was later charged and found guilty earlier this month of conspiracy and bribery for accepting cash in exchange for votes to expand liquor sales in Prince George’s County.

Prosecutors said Oaks used his power as a legislator to help a real estate developer known as “Mike,” who was interested in a housing development project in Baltimore. The developer turned out to be an undercover FBI source. In exchange for cash bribes, Oaks filed a request for a bond bill with the Maryland Department of Legislative Services to secure funding for the project. He also admitted to filing statements he knew to be false in a letter asking for federal funds for the purported development.

After accepting bribes in 2016, Oaks confessed to the FBI after arriving at a Baltimore hotel in early 2017 expecting to meet the developer but instead facing two FBI agents, his plea states.

Oaks agreed after that encounter to wear a recording device in an FBI investigation of another businessperson with interests in the bail bond and health-care industry. That person had previously given Oaks money for car repairs and paid for short trips to Las Vegas and dinners as Oaks helped build support for legislation in the person’s interest, the Oaks plea agreement states.

But after several months of helping the FBI in a “covert public corruption investigation,” Oaks admitted in his plea, he tipped off the businessperson, which meant the federal investigation into that person “and possibly other politicians was no longer viable,” prosecutors wrote in the Oaks plea deal.

Oaks had appeared determined to remain in office despite repeated calls for his resignation from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and some of his colleagues. Last month, he filed for reelection.

Oaks was stripped of his committee assignment last month after the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics found “numerous potential violations of the Maryland Public Ethics Law,” including the misuse of public resources, conflicts of interest, misuse of the prestige of office, improper acceptance of gifts, failure to make required disclosures and failure to register as a lobbyist. The committee took the action after referring to the criminal complaint and “other related documents.”

Oaks, who has served in the General Assembly for 30 years, was charged in federal court on April 7, a Friday. He shocked his colleagues the following Monday, April 10 — the final day of the session last year — when he walked into the Senate chamber and took his seat.

He lost his seat in the House of Delegates in the late 1980s after being convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from his campaign account. He regained his seat in 1994 and was appointed to the state Senate last year to replace a legislator who stepped down because of ill health.

Oaks faces a maximum of 20 years each on charges of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud.

Oaks and his attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Maryland Gov. Hogan: 2nd state audit of PGCPS could look into wrongdoing, broken laws

 – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan provided insight Wednesday on a second state investigation into Prince George’s County Public Schools – saying this one could look at whether laws were broken.

The first state audit, done by an independent consulting firm, revealed grade manipulation and students graduating who shouldn’t have. But it did not dig into the root cause of the problems.

A month ago, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to do a second audit, but gave few details about the scope.

“They want to do another investigation,” Hogan said regarding the board. “They think that there is wrongdoing that hasn’t been addressed.”

Hogan has said he believes there could be criminal conduct that was going on in the school system. While the first audit did not find indicators that the head of schools or his staff directed employees to change grades to graduate more students, this second audit could go deeper. Hogan said investigators will have to “follow the facts where they lead.”

“In Baltimore County as an example, just recently in the same timeframe, we have the former superintendent now going to jail on multiple charges,” Hogan said. “We have other people who have just been indicted on additional charges. So it hasn’t reached that point yet in Prince George’s County, but it could.”

Hogan said Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell should resign or be replaced after the scandal.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has continued to back Maxwell and laughed at the governor’s suggestion of criminal behavior in the school system.

“[Hogan] knows if there is anything criminal going on anywhere in the state, his first obligation is to go to the attorney general,” Baker said. “So I’m not going to acknowledge that.”

He went on to say, “He is every other day saying the same thing and that is calling for a report of Prince George’s County. He’s running around like a chicken without a head on.”

Baker claims the governor’s criticisms are about politics. Both men want to be governor of Maryland come next year.

“[Hogan] hasn’t engaged with our superintendent, he hasn’t sat down with his principals or teachers,” Baker said. “Yes, as governor of Maryland, that is what you should have been doing. But on the eve of the election, poll numbers dropping, all the sudden he has found religion.”

When asked about Baker’s argument that his criticisms are political, Hogan pointed to anger from Prince George’s County lawmakers, teachers and the local chapter of the NAACP.

“To say that somehow I’m politically motivated and I control all these folks, it’s just silly,” said Hogan. “It’s just more excuses and more hiding and trying to deflect blame. There is real wrongdoing and it didn’t start because he decided to run for governor. It started when they covered up the grades.”

It is still unclear when the second state audit will begin. The governor has allocated $1.5 million for the audit – three times what was spent on the first one.

Via FOX 5’s coverage on the Prince George’s County 


Spring break fully restored for Prince George’s County Public Schools


Citizens attend the Prince George’s County school board meeting Thursday, March 29, 2018, to discuss spring break and other issues. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

 – The Prince George’s County Board of Education has voted to fully restore spring break for students and staff.

The school board unanimously approved a motion Thursday night to restore the scheduled days off after the school district announced last week that spring break would be shortened to a single day to make up for weather-related school closures this school year.

All Prince George’s County Public Schools will be closed all of next week. Schools had been scheduled to be closed on Friday and Monday for the Easter holiday,

An executive order by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requires schools to start the school year after Labor Day and end by June 15. However, state lawmakers this week advanced a bill that will allow school districts to extend the academic year by five days without having to ask the state for a waiver. The bill is expected to pass and the governor has said he will sign it.

Earlier Board Members Edward Burroughs III, Raaheela Ahmed and David Murray had written to the Maryland governor requesting for help.

Read more >>> Fox5DC >>> WTOP



Maryland General Assembly overhauls the school construction approval process to undermine the Governor


The Maryland State Senate gave final approval to a bill that overhauls the school construction process by removing the current role of the Board of Public Works. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The Maryland Senate on Thursday voted to eliminate a decades-old state process for prioritizing the building and repairing of schools by stripping the governor, comptroller and state treasurer of their role in approving projects, a move Gov. Larry Hogan (R) called a “personal vendetta” against his ally, Comptroller Peter Franchot (D).

The 29-14 vote, with one abstention, came after a brief filibuster and long debate about why the Democratic-controlled legislature pushed so hard to eliminate Franchot from the school construction process.

Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said the bill, which requires standards for school buildings and assessments of school structures as well as a plan to spend $400 million a year on projects, will help to remove politics from the process. The legislation also includes $10 million for school safety enhancements.

“The system has been broken,” he said, noting the condition of some Baltimore City schools. “Parents across the state are clamoring for better schools for their children.”

But Republicans said the new process is likely to create bigger problems.


Comptroller Peter Franchot 

“We’re taking away an important part of the transparency and accountability that we’ve come to rely on in this state,” said Sen. Justin D. Ready (R-Carroll), who voted against the measure.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor will veto the bill. But the move would be symbolic; both chambers have passed the measure with a veto-proof majority.

“In what is surely one of the least transparent episodes in legislative history, 29 senators voted today to take away critical oversight and give authority over billions of taxpayer dollars in school construction funding over to an unelected, unaccountable group that includes lobbyists, partisan operatives and political cronies,” Chasse said.

The legislation sets up a commission, composed of appointees by the governor, Senate president and House speaker, to handle decisions involving school construction that are currently made by the Board of Public Works.

On Wednesday, at the start of the bimonthly BPW meeting, Hogan called the legislative action and the amendment, which was added onto a popular school construction bill, “simply outrageous.”

Franchot said it was “utterly shameful” that the legislature would “hijack” the bill to strip him and the rest of the panel of its authority. He said he was not apologetic for taking county and school officials, including those from Democratic-run jurisdictions, to task over the “inhumane conditions” of the schools and how they spend state taxpayer dollars.

“I’m not going to apologize for this board’s advocacy,” he said in a nearly 10-minute speech at the beginning of the meeting.

Sen. Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) on Thursday read Franchot’s entire speech on the Senate floor.

Via Washington Post 


Gov. Larry Hogan (R) called a “personal vendetta” against his ally, Comptroller Peter Franchot (D).


Senate President Mike Miller 


Democrats did ‘duty’ in Md. redistricting. Now the Supreme Court will evaluate.

By Robert Barnes

Maryland Democratic leaders set out in 2011 to redraw the state’s congressional districts to boost the likelihood that the party’s 6-to-2 edge in the delegation became 7 to 1, the state’s Democratic former governor Martin O’Malley recalled last year. It was nothing personal.

“I came to really like and respect and in many ways admire” the Democrats’ unlucky target, Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett, who had represented Maryland’s 6th Congressional District since 1993, O’Malley said.

But business is business, and this business was politics.

Hundreds of thousands of voters were shifted, Republicans became a distinct minority in the 6th District, and Bartlett, who had been reelected in 2010 by a 28-percentage-point margin, lost to a Democrat in 2012 by 21 points.

“As the elected governor, I did my duty within the metes and bounds” of Maryland law that set up redistricting as a partisan exercise, O’Malley said last spring in a deposition. He added that if the reconfigured district “would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican, yes, this was clearly my intent.”

O’Malley’s frank admission is at the heart of what is becoming an unprecedented look at partisan gerrymandering by the Supreme Court. The justices on Wednesday will hear the challenge to Maryland’s Democratic decision-making, after last fall examining — but not yet deciding — a lawsuit on Republican efforts in Wisconsin.

The cases hold the prospect that the court is on the brink of a historic change in the way elections are conducted in the United States.

If O’Malley’s words sound like a confession, claiming partisan gerrymandering for years has actually been a defense. The justices regularly police state legislators who overly rely on voters’ race when drawing electoral districts, but the court has never thrown out a state’s map because it was drawn to help one political party over another.

Some justices have considered that a perk of power that the courts have no role in overseeing.

But the political landscape has changed, and the legal one might as well.

“There’s a revolution underway,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for Common Cause.

Voters across the country are organizing to take redistricting power away from politicians and put it in the hands of nonpartisan decision-makers — although many states, including Maryland, don’t allow such changes without legislative approval.

The other option is litigation, and courts in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have thrown out maps where the partisan line-drawing was judged extreme.

In Pennsylvania’s case, the state Supreme Court ordered a new map for this fall’s election that levels the playing field for congressional candidates. The old map drawn by the state’s Republicans provided such an edge that the party consistently won 13 of the state’s 18 districts, despite its reputation as a battleground state in national elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down pleas from Republican lawmakers to get involved, letting the new maps go into effect.

The justices’ decision to take the Maryland case, which raises different constitutional challenges than the one from Wisconsin, heartened those who are advocating for change.

“It’s clear that the Supreme Court wants to say something about partisan gerrymandering, and we don’t quite know what that is yet,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. But he said that if the court had decided it had no role in policing partisan gerrymanders, as some states have suggested, the court did not need to take a second case to say that.

Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan (R), took the unusual step of filing an amicus brief on behalf of the challengers and against his state. He has tried since his inauguration to persuade legislators to turn redistricting over to a nonpartisan commission. He said the judicial interest in the issue coincides with a new public awareness.

“Polling on this is off the charts,” Hogan said in an interview, adding, “Democrats, Republicans, independents — everyone thinks that citizens should be able to pick their representatives, rather than have it the other way around, where representatives get to pick their voters.”

Indeed O’Malley — who was adamant during the deposition that Maryland’s map met constitutional requirements for one person, one vote and respected the Voting Rights Act’s protection of racial minorities — said he thinks the system should be scrapped.

“Some states are starting to move to nonpartisan redistricting commissions, and I think that would be a positive and healthy and good thing for our nation,” he said.

Maryland’s case provides a bit of counterprogramming to the national image of partisan gerrymandering as a Republican sport.

The party simply has more chances to show its stuff: The 2010 election put Republicans in sole control of the redistricting in 21 states following the ­once-a-decade census.

They produced maps that critics said solidified GOP control of state legislatures, such as in Wisconsin, and produced congressional districts in battleground states such as North Carolina that meant Republicans captured 10 of 13 seats.

Maryland was an exception, one of 11 states after the 2010 election with Democrats in control of the legislature and governor’s mansion.

In such an arms race, there was pressure on Democrats to do what they could to alter the national picture, Democrats have said.

The obvious targets were Bartlett and Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican who represented the Eastern Shore. As O’Malley put it in his deposition, “the largest estuary in North America” — the Chesapeake Bay — made changes to Harris’s district unwieldy.

Easier was to put many of the Republicans in the old 6th District into the overwhelmingly Democratic 8th District. And to add Democrats from Montgomery County into the 6th.

When completed, the 6th District stretched from the state’s westernmost border across the panhandle before taking a sharp turn into Montgomery County, all the way down to about 10 miles from the White House. The 8th started in Takoma Park, on the border of the District of Columbia, and ran to the Pennsylvania border.

Both were won by Democrats.

Michael B. Kimberly, a Washington lawyer representing Republican voters, has tailored his challenge to appeal to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, seen as the court’s pivotal member on the issue. Kennedy in the past has wondered whether partisan gerrymandering should be seen as retaliation against voters based on their political affiliations.

Kimberly’s brief offers just that: “What happened in Maryland’s Sixth District in 2011 — and what is sure to happen all over the nation in 2021 absent this court’s intervention — is a clear violation of the First Amendment, which forbids states from disfavoring citizens on the basis of their political views.”

Whether Maryland lawmakers set out only to make sure a Democrat was elected, instead of retaliating against voters who had elected Bartlett in the past, does not change the legal analysis, Kimberly said.

Brian E. Frosh, who as a Democratic state senator chaired the redistricting committee and now defends the state as attorney general, did not respond to an interview request.

In his brief to the court, he says the state’s action was a defensible way to deal with the state’s growth, much of which occurred in the areas at issue. It produced a district that is competitive, he said. Rep. John Delaney (D), who defeated Bartlett in 2012, almost lost to a different Republican challenger in 2014.

And Frosh said the challengers failed to provide the court with the thing that has vexed past judicial efforts to impose standards on partisan gerrymandering: a way to “determine when partisan considerations in the redistricting process have gone too far.”

“By dodging the problem, the plaintiffs’ proposed standard threatens to render any partisan motive fatal to redistricting — something that this court has already rejected,” the state’s brief said.

The case is Benisek v. Lamone.

Via Washington Post

Appellant’s Brief

Appellees Brief


the state’s Democratic former governor Martin O’Malley recalled last year. Howver, there was retaliation by the administration which has thrown the Democratic party leadership into disarray.  


PGCPS substitute teacher, coach pleads guilty to child porno charges

ChristopherSpeightsWASHINGTON — A former Prince George’s County, Maryland, substitute teacher and basketball coach has pleaded guilty to uploading and sharing child pornography online and will be sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison.

Christopher Speights coached basketball at Bradbury Heights Elementary School, in Capitol Heights, for about nine years, as well as a traveling basketball team.

He had been charged with child sex abuse and possession and distribution of child pornography. He’ll be sentenced in July.

After he entered his guilty plea, prosecutors said the case involved up to 59 children, including some from Bradbury Heights. “Unfortunately, we cannot identify them all,” said Kelly Burrell, of the state Attorney General’s office.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said that, like most predators, Speights took advantage of opportunities to be around kids. “He availed himself of children everywhere that he could find them,” she said, “which is why he very likely made himself a substitute teacher in one of our schools for many years.”

Speights was arrested by Maryland State Police in April 2017 after they got a tip from the online storage company Dropbox that someone was storing child pornography on their site that involved children as young as 5 years old.

Asked in September of that year to estimate the number of victims, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said, “We can only say, at this point, dozens is an accurate way to say it.”

According to court records, Speight used fake identities online to coerce more than 20 minors to send him sexually explicit images of themselves, recorded himself sexually exploiting three boys during school and basketball team trips in Maryland, and secretly recorded two boys in a hotel bathroom during a trip to North Carolina.

He was also able to “reach out to many kids in the school system and in his coaching his teams, and he used those kids to photograph other kids,” Burrell said.

Speights pleaded guilty Tuesday to similar federal charges — two counts of production of child pornography and one count of production and attempted production of child pornography. His sentences in the two cases will run concurrently.

via wTOP