Jerrard Bazemore, 36, an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, admitted he conspired with other inmates, people outside the prison and a prison employee to smuggle in drugs, such as fentanyl and heroin.
The employee, Patricia McDaniel, worked in the kitchen, where Bazemore had a prison job.
After arranging for outside people to get Bazemore the drugs, he sent McDaniel a message that said, “I love you. Don’t forget it.”
McDaniel successfully made the drugs-in-the-shoes delivery in August 2017, according to the news release.
A few weeks later, in September, Bazemore, who is also known as Tic, asked McDaniel to bring him more drugs in exchange for $300. But things didn’t go as smoothly.
McDaniel was stopped in the prison parking lot before she could enter the building. She had a purple balloon filled with heroin, fentanyl, Suboxone, which is a drug used to treat opioid addiction, and K2, a synthetic cannabinoid drug.
The plan was foiled because investigators had been listening in on calls Bazemore had been making with a cellphone he wasn’t supposed to have.
Bazemore pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge. He was sentenced Friday to more than four years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
McDaniel, 29, of Baltimore, also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, and is awaiting sentencing.
When six members of the Prince George’s County Council surprised their colleagues and the public with an 11th hour redistricting plan in November, residents voiced immediate objection.
They held rallies, flooded the council with calls and emails, turned out en masse at a public hearing, and they vowed to pursue every available remedy. They also hired an attorney.
On Monday, their efforts to kill the controversial map prevailed.
In a two-page order, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision striking down the council’s map and ordering Prince George’s to use boundaries drawn by an independent three-member commission instead.
Although residents accused the six-member block of gerrymandering — using their power to draw lines to protect incumbents and disadvantage potential challengers — their Prince George’s-based attorney, Matthew G. Sawyer, fought the county on procedural grounds.
He argued that the council flouted the law by passing its alternative map as a resolution. To be valid, Sawyer said, lawmakers needed to approve a bill. The Court of Appeals agreed.
“I think this is the right decision,” Sawyer said. “The system eventually worked.”
While the resolution-versus-bill distinction may seem small, approving a redistricting plan the way the council did had a significant impact on the ability of citizens to press elected officials for a course correction, plaintiffs’ attorneys insisted.
“By using a resolution, it removed the county executive’s ability to veto (the map), and it removed the people’s opportunity to lobby the county executive to veto it,” Sawyer said.
The Court of Appeals held a hearing on the case, Prince George’s County vs. Robert E. Thurston et al, on Friday. Plaintiffs were represented by former state delegate Timothy F. Maloney, a politically well-connected attorney hired by former Councilmember Eric Olson’s campaign.
Olson (D) was one of several potential 2022 candidates impacted by the council alternative, as he was drawn in with an incumbent who intends to seek re-election. He has been running since last summer for a seat that is coming open due to term limits.
He called the ruling “terrific news.”
“The council acted improperly in gerrymandering and rigging the districts, and they acted improperly in the manner in which they attempted to pass it,” Olson said.
“The public has been following this and the public does not like the nonsense, the political games being played,” he added. “This sends a message.”
On top of their gerrymandering accusations, residents said they didn’t like the way lawmakers divided communities that had worked together.
Councilmember Jolene Ivey (D), one of three members to vote against the map offered by colleague Derrick Leon Davis (D), said she was pleased that “current” districts, including her own, will remain largely intact.
“The voters let us know what map they wanted, and the courts’ rulings have the effect of giving them the Commission’s map,” she said. “That’s a big win for the voters.”
The Court of Appeals ruling did not lay out the legal rationale for upholding the lower court’s order. Those reasons will be “stated later” in a written opinion, Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty wrote.
The map rejected by the courts was supported by Davis, Council President Calvin S. Hawkins II (D), Deni Taveras (D), Mel Franklin (D), Sydney J. Harrison (D) and Todd Turner (D).
Ivey, Thomas E. Dernoga (D) and Dannielle M. Glaros (D) opposed it.
The council was in an all-day retreat on Monday and Hawkins and Davis could not immediately be reached for comment.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeals said that costs for the appeal are to be paid by the county.
The beleaguered Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) made a splash on Saturday, endorsing Wes Moore for the Democratic nomination for governor. The endorsement comes at a time when Alsobrooks questionable campaign donations especially from developers are casting shadows in the Maryland open general election this fall.
Alsobrooks, once considered a top contender for the governor’s seat herself, called Moore “the leader we need in this moment.”
“I have seen Wes Moore connect with people and bring them together to chart a vision for the future. It is clear Wes Moore has the vision, integrity, and the ability to move our state forward and deliver for families in Prince George’s County and across Maryland,” she said in a statement.
Alsbrooks announced her endorsement at a rally of Moore supporters as the campaign opened a new field office in Upper Marlboro on Saturday afternoon. She was accompanied by the State’s Attorney, Aisha Braveboy who later denied supporting Wes Moore according to JB OConnell on facebook. Alsobrooks was brought to the stage to announce her support in the middle of Moore’s speech at the rally.
“This movement we are building is about bringing together great leaders across the state and working with communities to make Maryland a place where we do not leave people behind. I have long admired County Executive Angela Alsobrooks as a fierce fighter for Prince Georgians, and I am so honored for her support,” Moore said in a statement. “We are going to campaign hard together and I am eager to work with her to support families in Gorgeous Prince George’s and across Maryland now and for years to come.”
However, according to JB OConnell, “Angela endorsed Wes. How big a deal is that? Prince George’s is a very important county but so far the 11 members of the county council at that point endorsed Baker and the reform element in the county endorsed Franchot.
Since Wes really isn’t from Maryland you wouldn’t expect him to understand this but every time County Executive Angela Alsobrooks gets on the opposite side of an issue with County council member Edward P. Burroughs, III She gets destroyed.
One sign of Ed and she crumbles up like a paper beer cup left out in the rain all night. At least we hope that’s beer in it. She openly backed a candidate against Shayla Adams Stafford. With Angela on the other side Shayla won two to one. Angela raised money. Angela cut ads. Angela did a mailer. Outspent Shayla Adams Stafford by a huge margin. And lost 2 to 1. She put her own personal credibility on the line and she lost 2 to 1. But wait it gets worse.
Recently Peter Franchot picked Monique Anderson Walker and Burroughs ran for County Council . Angela Alsobrooks supported Ed’s opponent. Angela got a woodshed style whooping and Edward won with 94% of the vote.
Alsobrooks becomes is the second sitting county executive to make a formal endorsement in the Democratic primary. Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman also endorsed Moore. So far his campaign has raised more money than all the other candidates in the Maryland governors race.
The endorsement is a hit to the campaign of former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Alsobrooks’ immediate predecessor, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor for a second time. “Baker is crying wolf wolf, forgetting what he did in Prince George’s county as a county executive before retiring. The bribery and financial embezzlement he oversaw needs to be investigated since he is a corrupt politician with ties to CEO Monica Goldson and developers. An FBI investigation is warranted to sort out the facts involving these crooks,” said Tom Davis.
“It is clear both county Executives in Prince George’s county including Angela are benefitting from the developers in major violation of laws. There is no honor among thieves,” Michael Mathew said.
Baker’s campaign issued a 349-word statement about the endorsement on Saturday evening, saying the candidate was “extremely disappointed” with Alsobrooks’ decision.
“Because of my deep belief in her, I’ve been happy to provide counsel and advice to her over the years. In the face of competitive races for State’s Attorney and County Executive, I enthusiastically endorsed her,” Baker said. “That’s why I’m extremely disappointed in her decision to support one of our opponents at such a precarious time.”
The former county executive touted his own successes during his tenure leading the county and noted that he has been endorsed by nine of the 11 members of the Prince George’s County Council.
“The great County, where I’ve raised my family and built my life, deserves a leadership team that knows how to practically get things done — not just talk in theoretical ‘hows,’” Baker said. “My running mate, [Montgomery County] Councilmember Nancy Navarro, and I are uniquely prepared to meet this critical moment with a vision that moves our state forward. With a track record of executive experience and proven results, we’re building a true grassroots campaign because we understand the importance of people over politics.”
However, reviewing Baker’s record in the county, his statement is not based on honesty based on clear observations and criminal enterprise Baker led during his tenure. Baker, destroyed the PGCPS BOE and tossed the Candidates that the Voters stood in line to elect. Baker went to Annapolis to place who he wanted on the Board by advancing HB1107 law which changed governance of the Prince George’s county school system. He had his chance! There were many times when he was RUDE and refused to address the Reporters. A lot of people saw him on live TV. He also wanted to increase Taxes on Homeowners for his personal gain. That did not go through well, thanks to the county Council. He was out to get a name for himself in order to run for governorship. Maryland Voters who do not live in Prince George’s county, guard your one (1) Vote! Do your homework before Election Day. Do not Recycle anyone who is not for your success!
The other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination on June 28 are: Jon Baron, Peter Franchot, Doug Gansler, Ashwani Jain, John King, Laura Neuman, Tom Perez and Jerome Segal.
March 7; Andrews Airforce Base, Maryland: – A 17-year-old boy was arrested while another intruder got away after reports of an armed individual at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland put the base on lockdown Sunday night.
After searching for hours Sunday night, investigators said the second individual is thought to be somewhere off the base, and the main gate for the base opened around 3 a.m.
Officials told WTOP that there was no active shooter or any shots fired. The breach occurred at 9 p.m. after a vehicle failed to obey security commands at the main gate, according to a statement.
Units from Prince George’s County, Maryland State Police, D.C. police and the Office of Special Investigation assisted Joint Base Andrew Defenders in searching the base.
Colonel Tyler Schaff, the 316th Wing and Joint Base Andrews installation commander, thanked local law enforcement for their help in mitigating the breach.
“I am incredibly proud of the quick actions of our Defenders to immediately deploy the barriers to stop last night’s stolen vehicle and then apprehend one of the individuals that had a weapon. The Defenders handled the intense situation with discipline and calm professionalism,” Schaff said.
WTOP has reached out to Prince George’s County police for comment — they had no information on the local response.
The incident happened around the same time as Marine Two landed at the base with the Vice President on board.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff left the base on Marine Two, according to the White House pool reporters. The four cabinet secretaries who were traveling with the vice president — Secretaries Marsha Fudge, Miguel Cardona, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Regan — are also safely off base.
The investigation is ongoing.
This is a developing story.
At least 10 juveniles were killed last year in Prince George’s County, Maryland which was the worst year for teen violence in the county since 2008.
According to Alsobrooks, for example, there have been 162 carjackings in Prince George’s County. She acknowledged on or around January 11th that, juveniles are responsible for 96 of them.
“And so this tells us a lot about where we’re headed. And we must do something right now to disrupt it,” Alsobrooks said.
Dr. Monica Goldson a CEO for PGCPS who was selected through public corruption has never spoken publicly about the out of control fights and public corruption sweeping quietly through the school system. These willful violations include closing down schools ready for real estate option, paying off lawyers, siphoning money off to friends and family etc. Prince George’s county citizens must raise up and demand answers without delay. These out of control fights and other purposeful disregard are not fair to county residents, their families and United States.
More and more violent behavior from students these days, the students need help and they are NOT getting it! More needs to be done to safe lives. To be effective, violence prevention programs require community-wide collaborative efforts led by school system leader that include students, families, teachers, administrators, staff, social and mental health professionals, law enforcement, emergency response personnel, security professionals, school board members, parents and the businesses. The school system leader takes an active role to effect change and not hide in the closet and wish these problems away. Dr. Monica Goldson “Goldson” has failed to provide proper leadership style for sometime! It’s time to advance changes without fear.
A former Maryland state delegate seeking the Republican nomination for governor has been disbarred from practicing law by a state court following a complaint by the Attorney Grievance Commission.
The Maryland Court of Appeals said in its ruling Thursday that Robin Ficker has been the subject of a long history of complaints of professional misconduct that expand over three generations of the bar counsel, The Washington Post reported.
In an email, Ficker said the ruling was “a political decision by recent political appointees. … My clients love me. It is judges and lawyers complaining.”
According to the court ruling, the disbarment stems from a case in which Ficker failed to appear for trial and made other mistakes. Ficker said the case, which occurred three years ago, involved a person accused of driving without a license who he represented for free but didn’t show up for a court date, and “They are blaming the attorney, come on.”
The disbarment was “a political decision. They are political appointees,” he said, adding, “Most judges don’t like defense attorneys as it is.” He speculated that the court was annoyed that he recently won a case in Calvert County that changed the rules for political signage.
Ficker said he could apply for reinstatement but won’t in the near future. He is a licensed real estate agent in Maryland, and “There is a hot market now,” he said. Also, running for governor is taking up time, he said.
“All you can do is light a candle. I am not going to curse the darkness.”
The 39-page ruling also said Ficker has been disciplined for professional misconduct eight times dating back to 1990.
Ficker is competing against former Maryland commerce secretary Kelly Schulz and Del. Daniel Cox, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
Peter Shapiro, an unsuccessful candidate in 2010 for D.C. City Council, who for decades wielded extraordinary power over Democratic politics in the Prince George’s county was tapped to head the Prince George’s County Revenue Authority by former county Executive Rushern Baker in 2013. He was retained to the same role by current county Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Shapiro has now been nominated to be the next Prince George’s county Planning Board Chairman. Shapiro is currently in charge of the 100-person agency overseeing speed cameras, red light cameras, parking meters, and parking garages, and helps finance county construction projects, among other responsibilities with major ties to developers.
Shapiro, a Democrat, is a former member of the Prince George’s County Council and one time it’s former Chairman. He resigned in mid-term in 2004 to take a job at the University of Maryland. He also served on a task force examining ethics issues that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) established in 2011. He lives in the District.
The revenue authority has an annual budget of about $44 million. Shapiro, who begun work at the 100-person agency, is being paid more than $150,000. His appointment was confirmed by the authority’s board.
During his tenure, there has been multifaceted scheme to use public positions for unlawful private gain by the county executives and others. His leadership in Prince George’s county for several decades appears to enhance county Executive’s Angela Alsobrooks’ political power and financial well-being while also generating income for his political allies and associates some in the same council he once served.
“This is another chapter in the sad story of corruption that has pervaded every corner of the Prince George’s county and the state of Maryland that was touched by Peter Shapiro and his Democrat enablers. He does not even live in the county why should he be used to assist criminal politicians to raise money from developers using the county for private gain,” Jim Michael said.
Corruption comprehends and encompasses many types of behaviors, such as bribery, extortion, cronyism, misuse of information, abuse of discretion, hiring close friends and others to advance an illegal scheme.
Political corruption is the use of powers by government officials or their network contacts for illegitimate private gain. Forms of corruption vary, but can include bribery, lobbying, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and embezzlement.
Democratic elections have been assumed to play a crucial role in curbing corruption among public officials. Voters, due to their general distaste for corruption, are expected to sanction politicians who misuse public office for private gains. Yet, empirical evidence to date is mixed, and it often suggests that the electoral punishment of corruption is rather mild which drives some politicians in the county starting with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson and others to continue their shenanigan in the county.
Lawyers for the Prince George’s County Council sought to convince the state’s highest court on Friday that a controversial redistricting plan approved in November is valid, even though a lower court ruled that a procedural error was made in the adoption of the new boundaries.
Their arguments ran into a wall of questions from members of the Court of Appeals, who were openly skeptical of the county’s defense.
A lawyer representing opponents of the plan — a high-powered attorney known for his strong ties to generations of top Maryland pols — hammered away at what he said were flaws in the council’s tactic, and his arguments drew scant pushback from the court.
The attorney, former state delegate Timothy F. Maloney, accused the council of running roughshod over the plain-language requirements of Prince George’s County’s laws and its charter.
Opponents of the map the council adopted last year sued the county in circuit court. They accused six members of the council — the bare number needed to form a majority — of meeting in secret to draft a plan that protected a handful of incumbents from re-election fights by drawing potential rivals into different districts.
Despite the accusations of gerrymandering, they focused their legal attack on a narrow matter of process — the council’s use of a resolution, not a bill, to draw the new boundaries.
The council appealed the ruling, setting the stage for Friday’s 65-minute hearing, which was held in Annapolis and streamed online.
Maloney told the court that state law “doesn’t mean that you can use a resolution when the charter says you need a bill.”
“This really is a pretty simple question of looking at the plain language of the text,” he added.
By passing its redistricting plan as a resolution, Maloney said, the council was removing the county executive from the process because there would be no opportunity for unhappy citizens to press for a veto. He noted that all Maryland counties allow either for an executive veto or a citizen referendum.
“The framers of the charter… clearly intended for the executive to have a role,” he said.
The council’s attorney, Raj A. Kumar, and outside counsel Rosalyn E. Pugh sought to defend the way the redistricting plan was approved, even if both conceded it was “inartful.”
“Even though (the charter) focuses on ‘a law has to be passed by a bill,’ it doesn’t limit what the bill is,” Pugh said. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Members of the appeals court began lobbing questions at the county’s attorneys just 20 seconds into their prepared remarks.
“Is there a case that you can point in our direction that is consistent with that interpretation?,” asked Judge Michele D. Hotten.
“I really wish we had that case,” Pugh replied.
The unveiling of the alternative map triggered an intense citizen outcry. Approximately 120 people spoke at an online public hearing, all opposed. One critic said the county’s appeal represented a “waste” of taxpayer funds.
After the Circuit Court ruling, Councilmember Derrick Leon Davis (D), the architect of the controversial map, predicted victory on appeal. “I am confident that we had the best (legal) advice,” he said. “We did everything that we were supposed to do.”
But Maloney mocked county claims that a 2012 change to Prince George’s law made use of a resolution permissible, noting that the council spent “less than 60 seconds” to adopt the shift.
“That is the scantest legislative history I have ever seen,” he said. “A change of this magnitude is a change of fundamental rights that requires something more than the county’s extreme stretching of the English language.”
The lawsuit against the council’s plan was filed by four county residents, two of whom support former council member Eric Olson, who launched a campaign for his old job last summer.
The Davis map included a long, finger-shaped protrusion that moved Olson from District 3, his current district, into District 1, which is represented by incumbent Thomas E. Dernoga (D). The independent commission map left him in District 3, which is currently represented by Councilmember Dannielle Glaros, who is term-limited and voted against the council’s redistricting plan.
In an interview following Friday’s hearing, Olson acknowledged that his campaign hired Maloney to argue the case before the Court of Appeals, but he declined to say how much the attorney is charging him.
The court adjourned Friday without indicating when it intends to announce its decision.
Outspoken former school board member Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie has a message for the political establishment: Stop disrupting democracy.
After five years representing Bowie, Mitchellville and Upper Marlboro on the school board, Ahmed said, “It became very, very clear that if we want the changes needed in terms of governance, in terms of democracy, in terms of educational reform, I had to move up. I had to step up into greater leadership.”
“This is about living my democratic values,” the 28-year-old said.
Citing “bad governance” on the Prince George’s County school board and “undemocratic” tactics in Annapolis, Ahmed resigned from her District 5 school board seat Feb. 19 to enter the state Senate race as “a voice for progressive change.”
“Our community has not had a history of progressive leadership. And for me, jumping into the race now means that the community has that opportunity to elect someone that’s going to be a champion for them, a voice for progressive change,” Ahmed said. The former University System of Maryland student regent rolled out a progressive platform that includes equity in education, criminal justice reform, universal health care and strengthening democracy.
As a school board member, Ahmed pushed for several progressive policies and initiatives. She opposed student arrests by school security officers and instead supported reallocating security funds for student mental health. The daughter of Indian-Pakistani immigrants also sought protections for immigrant and transgender students, a Black Lives Matter week of action, and cultural and ethnic studies as a graduation requirement.
Ahmed first ran for school board at age 18, won the primary but lost the general election. Elected in 2016, she and other elected members of the school board often were at odds with appointed members. Last month, a task force recommended a return to a fully elected school board and several other changes. “Going back to a fully elected board is good progress,” Ahmed acknowledged. But that change alone, she said, “doesn’t correct some of the key issues contributing to bad governance.”
She noted that the county executive still appoints the superintendent and any elected board vacancy. And a supermajority vote is required to overturn the superintendent’s actions. No other school district in the state has such laws, Ahmed said. “These laws are unique to Prince George’s County Board of Education,” she said, designed to keep ”concentrated control at the top.”
“It’s just so hard for me to be in a space where I can’t do more than my capacity as an individual board member on a board that legislatively does not have a lot of power,” Ahmed said.
Changes in state law would be required to alter the makeup of the school board. A House bill would require a workgroup to study school board membership with a final report due next year.
Making the case for special elections
Ahmed ultimately would like to see special elections rather than appointments to fill vacancies on the school board. As it stands now, her replacement on the school board would be appointed by the county executive.
In Ahmed’s view, there are too many unelected leaders even within the legislative ranks. Between 1997-2022, there were more than 100 appointed members of the state House and Senate, according to the Maryland State Archives. Some appointed state senators were previously elected delegates. Still, about 25% of the current House and 30% of the current Senate started off as appointees, based on figures cited by Ahmed.
“So we have a system, a semi-democracy in our state, in which, a Congress member that’s leaving, we’re going to have a special election. [In] most cases for the county council, if a person resigns… there’s a special election. But for state office, we’re not going to have a special election?” Ahmed asked.
“It’s like we’re giving a pass for the status quo to occur,” she added. “We’re giving a pass for the political establishment to select our leaders. And this is just not okay.”
Democratic Sen. Ron Watson of Upper Marlboro was appointed to his seat last year. He previously was elected as a state delegate before filling the seat of Sen. Doug Peters, who joined the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.
Watson bristled at being cast as part of the establishment or status quo. “When I ran, I ran against the ticket. I ran against the status quo, and I won,” he said. Elected as a delegate in 2018, Watson won the most votes in the Democratic primary against incumbents Del. Marvin Holmes, Jr., and Del. Joseph Vallario, Jr., who served as a delegate for over 40 years. “I am honored to be supported by so many people who felt that I was the right person to lead this district,” Watson said.
A former vice chair of the school board, Watson pointed out that he and Del. Julian Ivey introduced separate bills last year to create an all-elected school board, but the bills died due to lack of support. “So I have always been an advocate for an all-elected school board. I was on an all-elected school board. I fought for that; I continue to fight for that,” he said.
A special elections bill that applies to vacancies in the General Assembly unanimously passed the state Senate in January and is headed for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee later this month. The legislation has grabbed the attention of democracy organizations opposed to political insiders picking appointments. The county Democratic Central Committee last year nominated Watson to fill the state Senate vacancy, leaving his delegate seat open. The central committee named Cheryl Landis to fill the delegate seat.
“Maryland is just one of a couple of states that has these sorts of laws that rely on a political party [in] the appointment process. And it’s just really time to democratize that process so Marylanders can weigh in on who represents them in the General Assembly,” Rishi Shah, a policy advocate for Maryland Public Interest Research Group, said.
Sylvia Johnson, a former government scientist vying for state Senate in District 23, said the “lack of elected officials” is among the concerns she has heard from voters. “They don’t feel heard,” she said. “The people have a right to decide who they want to represent them.”
As Ahmed put it, “People select leaders and those leaders in turn… serve the community. It’s a cycle. Some of these, for lack of a better term, some of these undemocratic things are disrupting the cycle.”
Questioning redistricting map
Redrawing legislative maps “to maneuver lines to control competition” is another concern for Ahmed, who is the deputy director of the nonprofit Campus Vote Project, a group focused on voting and redistricting within college communities. “Seeing and understanding how maps were distorted across different states, I knew in my heart of hearts this is not something that is unique to a red state. This is not something that’s unique to a purple state. This can also happen in a blue state,” she said.
Ahmed and her spouse went house hunting this past summer with affordability—and redistricting—in mind. They settled on a home near Bowie City Hall, a spot viewed as safe from being carved out of the legislative district. “I said there’s no way they’re going to carve out anything from near Bowie City Hall.”
Prior to her move, she had been living with her parents. Her father Shukoor Ahmed of Bowie has run for office five times. Both he and his younger daughter Shabnam Ahmed, previously ran for state delegate in District 23. To their dismay, Ahmed’s father and sister learned that their shared address was no longer in District 23 under the new legislative map. They are now part of District 24.
“It’s upsetting,” said Ahmed’s sister Shabnam, who was open to the possibility of running again for delegate in District 23. “Things have obviously changed… Technically, I’m not even in the district anymore.” When Shabnam ran against incumbent state Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith in 2018, she lost by 42 votes in the Democratic primary.
A member of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, Johnson is a Bowie resident whose address in campaign finance reports falls outside the lines of the recently redrawn district. The new map was passed by the General Assembly in January well after Johnson had filed as a candidate and spent tens of thousands of dollars on her state Senate campaign. However, Johnson has an apartment address near Bowie City Hall that remains solidly within District 23. “The redistricting did a whole lot to everybody,” Johnson said. “I know that there’s a lot of lawsuits… I don’t know how that’s gonna go. But I knew what I had to do, and so I reside in 23 within the guidelines. I’m in the district.”
Fair Maps Maryland filed a lawsuit in February in Maryland’s highest court challenging several redrawn legislative districts, including District 23. In its petition, the organization called on the court to declare the new map unconstitutional and adopt an alternative created by a citizens commission. “When we were told to ignore the interests of incumbents, by golly we ignored the interests of incumbents,” Walter Olson, co-chair of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, said at a joint House and Senate redistricting committee hearing in January.
The map under legal challenge was created by the Legislative Redistricting Commission, chaired by Karl Aro. The map takes into account “a good deal of public input” as well as population shifts, Aro told the redistricting panel. “While no map is perfect,” he said, “one of the goals was to preserve the core of existing districts to the extent practical… And we did the best we could with trying to keep communities of interest together.” Aro added, “I don’t believe this plan is gerrymandered.”
The legislative redistricting map is headed for a hearing in the Court of Appeals of Maryland later this month. The court heard oral arguments this week in a separate case involving Prince George’s County redistricting, which shifted politicians outside of their districts and was thrown out by a lower court Jan. 31.
UPPER MARLBORO, MD — The Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) District’s school naming committee is tasked with naming a brand-new elementary school in south Prince George’s county, and has narrowed the field to 4 possibilities — including a politician and army general as well as names based on local geography. The PGCPS system is therefore inviting the public to help name the new southern elementary school.
The first of public surveys had been scheduled online this week until today Friday, March 4th but Voting has been extended to Monday, March 7th, 2022, 12 noon.
The proposed (PGCPS) Preparatory K-8 public school which has faced major push back from southern community remains on course. “The new school is essentially a leech on the resources of the community, it exist totally out of any public control,” Samuel Dodges said.
Several civic associations led by Tantallon Square Area Civic Association (TSACA) continues to oppose an environmental degradation involving a forest being cleared for new school construction at Swan Creek Road and Fort Washington Road. In this area, flooding is a major concern for many residents. Standing flood waters can also spread infectious diseases, contain chemical hazards, and cause injuries. Each year, flooding causes more problems than any other hazard related to thunderstorms. The most common flood issue occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters which causes death in many cases.
For the first survey despite pushback, PGCPS has invited the public to submit the preferred names for the new school, which is currently under construction at the intersection of Swan Creek Road and Fort Washington Road. PGCPS is seeking the public’s input on the finalists, now through March 7 at noon. — vote for your favorite here. Vote totals will be presented to the Current CEO Dr. Monica Goldson. Nominations are open to all citizens, including PGCPS staff, students, parents, and community members, and nominators may not submit more than one name. According to PGCPS website, a committee comprised of community liaisons, students, parents, and district representatives has developed a short-list of naming options for community members to select from. Final voting data will be utilized to inform the committee’s recommendation to PGCPS CEO, Dr. Monica Goldson who will then make an official recommendation to the Prince George’s County Board of Education.
Some citizens in the southern region close to the proposed new school which was launched in the midst of covid-19 lockdown and protests displayed dismay on the omission of the proposed names of the original owner of the land who gave it to PGCPS as gift for $10.
Full criteria are contained in PGCPS Policy and Rules regarding the naming of a new school. Want to know more about who’s who before you vote? Here’s a brief description of the 4 choices.
PGCPS naming options:
Colin Powell K-8 Academy
Colin L. Powell (Apr 1937 – Oct 18, 2021) was a United States general and statesman and the first African American to hold the positions of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Powell was born in Harlem, New York in 1937 to Jamaican immigrant parents who stressed the importance of education and personal achievement. Powell received his bachelor’s degree in geology from the City College of New York. Powell authored two books, “My American Journey” and “It Worked for Me, Lessons in Life and Leadership” and was the recipient of numerous awards including a Purple Heart, Soldier’s Medal, and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Fort Washington K-8 Academy
Fort Washington was constructed to defend the Potomac River approach to Washington, DC during the American Civil War and has stood as silent sentry for over 200 years. Fort Washington was the only defense for the Nation’s Capital until the Civil War when a circle of temporary forts was built around the city. Fort Washington still stands as a historic landmark in the community with its namesake.
Tantallon K-8 Academy
Tantallon is a community within Fort Washington, Maryland in which the new K-8 academy will exist. The name Tantallon was taken from Scotland’s fabled “Castle Tantallon” a once mighty fortress that towered over the forbidding waters of the Firth of Forth.
Swan Creek K-8 Academy
Swan Creek, is a stem of the Potomac River that traverses Fort Washington, Maryland and runs along the Tantallon Community nearby Swan Harbor and Swan Creek roads as well as Tantallon and Arrow Park drives. The new K-8 academy will be located at the intersection of E. Swan Creek and Fort Washington roads.
The new, 234,000-square-foot kindergarten through eighth grade school on wetland is scheduled to open to students for the 2023 -2024 school year.
The new K-8 school will replace the current elementary and middle school in Fort Washington. A spokesperson with the school system said the Board of Education has not determined what will happen to those school buildings once students are relocated. But there are concerns the current CEO and others connected to her and the county leadership are in link with developers to advance corruption in the county as seen elsewhere in recent past according to a resident who did not want to be identified. Call your elected officials now and the law enforcement community.
One of the newly elected Board of Education member Belinda Queen has resigned. A first-term board member, who has been tough but fair has been embroiled in controversy in recent months, announced her resignation Thursday on social media. Her resignation will take place on March 7th, 2022.
Belinda hit the ground running in 2019 after she got elected when she demanded answers after discovering corruption at High Point High School in Prince George’s County public Schools (PGCPS). “First question, which the public should be asking: What took anyone in the Board so long?”, She asked at the time. (See the report here).
Belinda becomes the 3rd Board member to resign after former Board of Education member now Councilman Edward Burroughs III resigned to run for county council District 8. Burroughs resignation was followed by Raaheela Ahmed, 28, who served on the district’s school board for the past five years. She steped down, effective Feb. 19, to run for the Maryland Senate seat, currently held by incumbent Ron Watson. He was appointed to the District 23 seat by Gov. Larry Hogan in August.
Belinda is resigning to run for county council District 6 after unearthing wide ranging system corruption on the county level.
School board members are largely unpaid volunteers, traditionally former educators and parents who step forward to shape school policy, choose a superintendent and review the budget. But a growing number are resigning or questioning their willingness to serve as meetings have devolved into shouting contests between deeply political constituencies over how racial issues are taught, masks in schools, ethics reports, COVID-19 vaccines and testing requirements etc.
School Board Tensions
School board members across the country have received threats and hateful messages, sparked by tense debates over mask mandates and other COVID-19 rules, LGBTQ books and the teaching of race. However, here in the Prince George’s county though, the local board is in tension after some Board members questioned how public land, money was being utilized to build new schools without transparency.
News of land being set aside for purposes of education and/or public use is typically met with celebration. But an increasing chorus of voices within Prince George’s County and the real estate industry is casting doubt on whether public money is being used properly throughout Prince George’s county. “We live in a time when Prince George’s county struggles mightily to adequately fund schools and social services. If we are going to expend funds for Education, the county should be paying current fair market value supported by analysis that would pass muster with private market buyers, said Matt Lowery.”
Her departure creates a vacancy on the school board. By law, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has the authority to appoint a replacement. Other departed board members have said they see the iron in that , given county Executive Alsobrooks wanted to have them removed through unorthodox means using drummed up ethics report.
Belinda is among the elected members of the school board that have pushed to see the structure of the board overhauled from a mix of appointed and elected members to an all-elected school board.
She and others have clashed repeatedly with board chair Juanita Miller, who holds one of the seats on the school board appointed by Alsobrooks.
Belinda was first elected to the Prince George’s County Board of Education in 2018 defeating Carolyn Boston overwhelmingly. However, she began her political career earlier. She first ran for the Prince George’s County Democratic State Committee, before running for the Prince George’s County Board of Education.
“ It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents of District 6 and each and every scholar, Parent of PGCPS and the community… I feel honored to have accomplished everything that I ran to do in putting kids first ” ..Belinda wrote in among other issues in her resignation letter. To do otherwise, would have been the district failure.”It has been a pleasure working with each one of you,” she wrote.
Drummed up Ethics Charges.
After major fallout with county Executive Angela Alsobrooks last year, the ethics panel acting under orders above organized a scheme to deprive elected board members of their powers in the county. Thus, after the Prince’s George’s County School Board recommended that six elected board members either resign or be removed following an investigation.
The ethics findings are not public, but documents were reviewed by the press. They were also anonymously sent to each elected leaders throughout the county.
The ethics panel recommended the resignation or removal of Edward Burroughs, David Murray, Raaheela Ahmed, Joshua Thomas, Kenneth Harris and Shayla Adams-Stafford. The panel recommended sanctions for Belinda Queen.
“I know it’s supposed to be confidential, but somebody took it upon themselves to anonymously mail them around to elected officials in the county,” said Ivey. “And I happen to live with two of them.”
The ethics findings say board members violated policy when they hired a board lobbyist and when they decided to reorganize the board office, making staffing changes and prompting a “federal discrimination lawsuit.”
“I think they are riddled with inaccuracies and false on their face,” said Ivey of the findings.
Some board members are also accused of a pay-to-play scheme involving a labor union they received campaign contributions from.
Ivey said that the actual resolution passed by the board does not name the labor union in question and disputed the notion that there was anything unethical about the campaign donations.
Board chair Dr. Juanita Miller called for this ethics investigation soon after she was appointed by the county executive as board chair.
More recently, this group of elected board members petitioned the state to have her removed, making their own misconduct claims against Miller.
While there was a public board meeting at night, the primary discussion about the ethics investigation happened in executive session.
Six members, mostly appointed, voted to accept the findings. The seven members under investigation were barred from voting. This left them shaken to the core after County Executive Alsobrooks went after them for drummed up “ethics violations” until they ran scared for their dear lives as their political future was on the line. However, Alsobrooks is violating the law and her administration is engaged in violating peoples rights using the court system to punish some personnel in the school system and others opposed to their illegal schemes using lawyers tied to them, records show.
In our blog post recently, we cited the role the county Executive Angela Alsobrooks is playing in advancing public corruption in the county through violations of law including campaign finance. There is more involving the county Executive touching on new schools and the Tantallon Community. Whether falling under the label of political cronyism, crony capitalism, political party cartels, oligarchy, plutocracy and even kleptocracy, widespread patterns of private and public corruption construct social systems that are rigged in the private interest as seen in this case. Citizens with strong ethical principles (and citizens who lack significant funds, connections, favours to dispense, “hard power” over others such as guns or private enforcers) lose representation, influence and power.
The rule of law is fundamental to maintaining the freedoms of individuals in a society, and for the protection of people’s rights. You cannot ask the county citizenry and their kids to obey the law when you are violating it in many ways willfully yourself”, one parent who did not want to be identified said.
When corruption pervades the justice system, people can no longer count on prosecutors and judges to do their jobs. The powerful may escape justice. And citizens, especially those with few resources or few powerful allies, may be unfairly accused of crimes, deprived of due process, and wrongly imprisoned.