Tag Archives: in Prince George’s…

In Prince George’s, a battle over whether developers must fund school construction

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Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III vetoed a council bill that allowed lawmakers to waive school surcharge fees for some residential developers. His veto was overridden. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

By Rachel Chason

In the final months of his eight-year tenure, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III is battling with the County Council over legislation that touches on two of the county’s most hotly debated issues: education and development.

The back-and-forth, which led Baker to issue his third-ever veto, began last month, when the council approved a bill allowing it to waive a school facilities surcharge for some residential developers. Supporters say such waivers would spur development in areas where long-vacant buildings have frustrated lawmakers and residents alike.

Opponents — Baker chief among them — say the legislation is an illegal move by the council that could deprive the already beleaguered school system of an important funding source that has been codified in state law since 1995. The state General Assembly, not the County Council, is the body that has the authority to impose or waive taxes, Baker wrote in his veto letter.

“I am obligated to respect the rule of law,” Baker wrote in the Oct. 1 letter.

Lawmakers overrode Baker’s veto the next day by a vote of 7 to 2.

Council member Derrick Leon Davis (D-District 6), one of the legislation’s two sponsors, said council members have consulted with their lawyers and “believe we have the authority to do this” because of the council’s power to implement land-use policies. They are also convinced that waiving the surcharge would lead to new projects that would bring in additional tax revenue for the school system.

“I have observed the inability to catalyze development over the past 10 to 15 years,” said Davis, who is especially focused on development around Largo Town Center, an area of his district where a regional hospital is being built. “This would just be another tool in our toolbox.”

The General Assembly previously has passed legislation exempting other types of development in Prince George’s from the surcharge, including retirement communities and some student housing.

Fees from the surcharge on residential developers, which totaled $28.5 million last fiscal year, are leveraged by the county to borrow up to $500 million for school renovation and construction, said Thomas Himler, Baker’s budget chief. The school system’s capital improvements budget is already backlogged; the county sent more than 134,000 students home early one sweltering day last month because of air-conditioning problems in its public schools, which are on average nearly half a century old.

“For the County Council to turn around and potentially grant waivers without any basis does not make sense,” Himler said. “We already know we have a school construction gap, and we have multiple billions of dollars in need.”

The fee, collected by the county’s permitting department before it grants use and occupancy permits, is $9,317 per unit for buildings inside the Capital Beltway and near Metro stations, and $15,972 per unit for all other buildings.

The law gives the council the option of waiving the fee for multifamily projects within the Beltway, near Metro stations or in some additional locations close to major roadways. The council must approve each waiver individually.

Council member Obie Patterson (D-District 8), the legislation’s other co-sponsor, cited the Oxford apartment building in Oxon Hill as one property whose viability could depend on getting a school surcharge waiver.

The Varsity Investment Group received county approval last year to turn a long-vacant office building at 6009 Oxon Hill Rd. into a 187-unit apartment complex with a business center, entertainment room and dog park. Donnie Gross, a managing member of Varsity, said paying the school surcharge fee would cost him an additional $3 million, forcing him to “reevaluate our rent structure” for the project.

Gross said the company “took a lot of risk” when it bought the building, which had squatters living inside and broken first-floor windows. Without increasing rents, he said, “we would be underwater.”

Across the region, other local governments are also considering ways to encourage redevelopment of empty office buildings, with the commercial vacancy rate in the District and its suburbs nearly double what it was a decade ago.

The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would offer tax abatements for developers who convert office space into residential units in certain downtown areas, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors changed the county’s land-use plan to make such conversions easier.

Both Patterson and Davis suggested that providing exemptions for certain projects could ultimately bring in more revenue for schools as new taxpayers move into the new buildings.

“We believe we acted in the best interests of those who voted for us,” Patterson said. “The county executive certainly has the right to oppose us.”

Until now, the highest-profile back-and-forth between Baker and the council was in 2015, when the council scaled back Baker’s attempt to raise property taxes by 15 percent to increase funding for schools. Then, too, Baker’s veto was overridden.

The county attorney has recommended the council seek an opinion from Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) on the legality of the surcharge waiver law. But a spokesman for Frosh said the council has not done so.

Council member Deni Taveras (D-District 2), who cast one of the two votes against overriding Baker’s veto, said the surcharge should stay in place because of the number of schools already grappling with overcrowding and aging infrastructure.

“I don’t think it’s the right course of action to allow these developers to get a windfall,” Taveras said.

Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, said it was “ridiculous” to waive the surcharge. “There is no shortage of people wanting to build houses in Prince George’s, and there are no schools being built to support these communities,” she said.

via Washington Post 

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9 alleged members of MS-13 gang in Prince George’s…

…are accused of taking part in 5 Pr. George’s revenge killings

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Alleged members of the violent Mara Salvatrucha street gang have been indicted in federal court, accused of slayings, assaults and robberies in the Maryland suburbs.

The indictment, which was unsealed this week in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, describes attacks and killings motivated by gang rivalry or retribution against people thought to be cooperating with authorities. The gang operated in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and allegedly got money from member dues and extortion of high school students as well as by running brothels.

The nine defendants face a variety of charges, including racketeering, extortion and witness tampering in connection with crimes that occurred over more than five years.

According to the indictment, the gang — also known as MS-13 — is linked to five Prince George’s killings.

On Jan. 10, 2011, federal authorities say, members of the gang armed with a machete and other knives killed Juan Moreno Aguilar, 25, who they thought was in a rival gang, in a former grocery store parking lot on University Boulevard. According to the indictment, Aguilar was killed after a gang leader in El Salvador, where the group has its roots, ordered that rival gang members be killed in revenge for the deaths of two MS-13 members. >>> Read more Washington Post

OPINION

As We have shared with you previously,  we are not one who are keen on the phrase  “Emergency Preparedness.” we believe in preparedness, pure and simple, and thus  being self-reliant. Whether it be today or in the future as the result of some  social breakdown, we feel that it’s important to understand what organized evil exists out there so that you can make an educated decision as to how you will  defend yourself. We are speaking specifically of the highly organized and militant  gangs here in the United States especially in Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS).

Keep in mind that whether it’s today or tomorrow, dealing with gangs is something we have to do whether we like it or not. For some they are simply a  prophetic fulfillment of the “latter days.” For others they are a force that’s  to be reckoned with by “someone else.” And to others they are simply something  we see portrayed on television. Unfortunately though, the presence of gangs and  their unthinkable violence is very real. And yes, they’ve even infiltrated a city near you and some of our schools here in Prince George’s County. One of the very worst of these modern replications of organized  crime groups is MS-13. For quite sometimes, MS-13 gang members have been spotted at Parkdale High School, Northwestern High school, High Point High schools here in Prince George’s County. It’s high time the administration of Mr. Rushern Baker engaged the community to find a proper solution to this problem rather than burying the head in the sand like an Ostrich. Let the reported prosecution reported above be the beginning of proper eradication of this problem.  Children who need help should be identified and rehabilitated.

In fact, the FBI defines them as the most organized crime entity in the U.S.  They are feared not solely because of their horrific violent acts, but due to  their organization. They specifically target middle and high schools  for recruitment’s. They have no compunction towards committing violent acts  upon their fellow citizens, as they fear no repercussions. Their greatest  criminal focuses are on human and drug trafficking, and contract killing  combined with unspeakable violence. A crime will never be committed by one of  these members without it being accompanied by a beating, a rape, murder,  dismemberment, or all of the above. They also have known ties and alliances to  Al-Queda.

MS-13 is otherwise known as Mara Salvatrucha. Visual evidence of their  presence in your area will be manifested by graffiti in your area that says  “MS,” “Mara,” or “MS-13.”

Their violent organized traits stem from the fact that the majority of their  founders are well trained in guerilla warfare in El Salvador. As such they  possess a level of methodical training and skill set that rivals any other gang.  Their initiation requirements are bloodcurdling. After enduring a slow 13 count  beating—minimum—the inductee must then commit a violent act by either a beating,  a rape, or a murder prior to being accepted. If the inductee fails in their  efforts within 13 hours, then they are murdered in order that the MS-13 does not  get marginalized by “incompetents.” (If you are a female inductee, the right of  passage would include an obligatory gang rape). The more violent they are, the  more elevated they are among their “military” crime group. One MS-13 member  claimed during questioning by the FBI, “The crazier you are known to be, the  more respect the gang gives you.” On November 26, 2008, Jonathan Retana was  convicted of the murder of Miguel Angel Deras, which the authorities linked to an MS-13 initiation.

Bottom line, So why should YOU be concerned about them? Because they are yet one more aspect of a realistic potential situation for which you need to be prepared. Do not  underestimate their violence as reported by Washington Post. You will not be able to reason with them. You will  not be able to give them what they want and have them simply go away. Horrific violence is at their very core. You will need to be mindful of them and to defend yourself appropriately. You can be assured that in spite of their organization “skills” they will not be prepared for any type of an emergency scenario, thus they will use their gang to prey upon the preparedness efforts of  others. As such, you must indeed be prepared to defend your home, family, and  supplies against these modern-day pirates.

It stinks of people not caring, burying their heads in the sand or, worse still, already giving up hope for not confronting these gang which is making our schools unsafe in many cases. This does not have to be the case, working closely with the law enforcement community and community leaders in Prince George’s County and elsewhere can make a significant difference.  It’s high time we tackled these issues heads on.

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Ostrich with head in the sand

 Burying the head in the sand like an Ostrich is not helping with matters in Prince George’s County.

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