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.
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.
Khan was 71 and is survived by his wife and 16-year-old daughter, relatives said.
The teen suspect was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and carjacking, police said Wednesday.
“I just want justice for my husband, for me and my daughter, because I don’t want anything [like that] to happen to anybody else. He just put my life upside down,” Khan’s wife, Saba Rauf, said through tears at a police news conference Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, officers stopped Khan’s stolen car at the intersection of Garrett A. Morgan Boulevard and Central Avenue in Landover. Three people were inside the car at the time: two juveniles and an adult, police said.
Officers took all three into custody, and the 17-year-old now charged in Khan’s murder confessed to killing him during the carjacking, police said.
“His murder was senseless. Another senseless act of violence,” Police Chief Malik Aziz said. “And now that person in custody is only 17 years old.”
“There should be harsh punishment for these youngsters who are doing this thing, because if there is no consequences, they will keep on doing it,” Khan’s nephew Agha Ali said at the news conference.
A second 17-year-old boy from D.C. was charged in connection with a carjacking on Marlboro Pike that happened hours after Khan’s murder, police said. Police said Khan’s stolen car was used in that carjacking.
The third person in the car,19-year-old Daquan Childs, of D.C., was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, according to police.
Khan was found lying in the 3700 block of Dunlap Street, a residential block. Officers responded at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday and found that Khan had multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
He was respected in his Fairfax County community, and more than 200 people called to express their condolences, Ali, his nephew, said.
“This guy was a community figure for 20 years, you know. He knew so many people,” Ali said. “These people, they don’t have no value. They just killed him and left him on the street, you know, like he’s nobody. This is the worst part of it.”
Khan moved to the U.S. from Pakistan in search of a better life, his family said.
“I don’t know what to do, because he was the pillar of our life, and now … my life is over,” Khan’s wife said. “When I told [my daughter] that I’m coming here, she said, ‘Just ask one question: Did my dad call my name when the guy shot him?'”
In 2017, Khan was hailed as a hero and received an award for bravery for intervening as an Alexandria, Virginia, police officer was attacked.
“He jumped in and he saved that police officer’s life,” Ali said.
Khan’s death comes amid a rash of violent carjackings committed by young people in the D.C. area. The crimes have been committed by children as young as 12, officials from the District and Prince George’s County said at a joint news conference last month.
Prince George’s legislators have reached consensus on a bill that would abolish four appointed seats on the county board of education. If it passes, the retooled board would consist of nine elected members plus a student.
The current hybrid board — with nine elected and four appointed members, with one student — was fashioned by the General Assembly in 2013 at the request of then-Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).
The return to an all-elected board is a priority for County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D). In January, a task force that she created recommended a return to an all-elected board in time for this year’s elections. But many Prince George’s delegates and senators said they were disinclined to move that quickly.
Under a compromise reached late Monday and expected to be voted upon later this week, the return to an all-elected board would take effect in 2024. The push to delay implementation of the changeover was led by Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s).
The executive and the delegation believe that the public solidly supports the return to an all-elected board, but lawmakers decided to pump the brakes on implementation. “Nobody wanted to rush this thing,” said Del. Nick Charles (D), chair of the county’s House delegation. “We realized there’s no true consensus around everything, so we wanted to give folks the time to study some of the other components” of the shift.
Some lawmakers feel burned by the late-filed bill that was submitted at Baker’s request in 2013 to establish the current hybrid board.
“There are a lot of loose ends that we need to pull together to make ensure that we get it right this time,” said Senate Delegation Chair Joanne C. Benson (D). “We need to take our time — but not too much time.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Alsobrooks said years-long dysfunction at the board played out “at a most inopportune time during the pandemic when all of their focus should have been on our children.”
While laying out the steps she took in forwarding the task force’s recommendations, Alsobrooks did not object to the proposed delay.
“The House Delegation is acting on key recommendations of our task force that will help ensure we have a Board that will be able to remain focused on providing the best educational opportunities for our children,” she said in the statement.
The Prince George’s school board has been mired in controversy on and off for years, prompting a series of changes in the panel’s structure, from all-elected to all-appointed to hybrid and eventually — it would appear — back to all-elected.
The current board, chaired by Juanita D. Miller, an Alsobrooks appointee, has been criticized for a spasm of personality-fueled disagreements that led to the filing of ethics charges and attempts to remove several members of the panel.
“There have been some very unfortunate situations and problems existing with the current school board, and people are complaining about it,” said Benson, a former educator who cautioned future members not to stray from their lane.
“Not everybody sitting on the school board can be the superintendent,” she said.
Under the compromise proposal, the nine members of the school board would be elected by district and they would choose their own chair and vice-chair. Currently the county executive determines the board’s leadership.
The measure also establishes a workgroup, made up of county leaders and educators, that will be tasked with preparing a recommendations to help the new board function more effectively. That report will be due by Oct. 1, 2023.
Del. Julian Ivey and then-Del. Ron Watson (both D-Prince George’s) introduced bills last year to abolish the board’s appointed members, but they died without a vote.
“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim meaning that if a legal remedy is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming promptly, it is effectively the same as having no remedy at all. The delay in PGCPS does not help the county residents when the executive is busy scheming on how to close down schools and open new ones in none transparent manner.
Tantallon Community (Reform Sasscer) – The proposed Prince George’s county public schools (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 a forest being cleared for new school construction at Swan Creek Road and Fort Washington Road where 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.
“It’s been determined that the land that they are planning to build the school is on wetland and there are better option at Potomac Landing elementary school with enough space just like the way they are building the other 5 schools. This should not be an exception as the area will see a rise in various problems starting with congestion, destruction of wet lands and ecological systems, pollution and many other issues. There are a lot of wild animals in the forest including deers which go in there. The flooding is major issue and the current sewage system is not adequate to accommodate an additional population of 2,000. The way this project was rushed raises a lot of suspicion because the people who live here where not consulted over their objection. We only found out when they were having a press conference,” said Tantallon Square Area Civic Association President Hazel Robinson.
The kindergarten through eighth grade school would hold 2,000. It’s part of the county’s more than $1 billion public-private partnership plan to build six news schools.
“We have been in the dark. Just weren’t included, and our input wasn’t asked for on what we felt about having a school here, there is something very fishy going on even the way the trees are being uprooted right in the middle of the night. Something smell like a dead rat” said Mike Johnson of the Tantallon Square Area Civic Association (TSACA).
Details of the rapidly moving construction plan are spawning protests, especially after parents were told some schools would be temporarily relocated during construction.
Protests started last August and are ongoing. There have been protesters and a prominent person in the community associated with TSACA was arrested last year and taken to the police station. Their presence have been felt along the Swan Creek Road beginning of August last year. The protestors successfully halted tree clearing for the planned school before the construction continued. At the moment the contractors are proceeding on again — a 234,000-square-foot kindergarten through eighth grade school on wetland. Many residents said they’re in favor of the new school but not the current location.
Potomac Landing elementary school
“PGCPS should have renovated Potomac Landing elementary school which is less than a mile away instead of building a brand new school on a wetland and destroying the environment,” Rose Lowdon, said of the new school proposal. “While many people think renovating existing facilities is more expensive and time-consuming than building new ones, that’s not always the case. In fact, renovation can often be accomplished for less than the cost of a new building. It just requires careful planning and conscientious effort. Improvements do not happen by chance. They happen because district administrators, parents, teachers and community leaders actively participate in a planning process aimed at making the area a better place to live, learn, work and play. In this case, none happened like that here. There is bad will from the community towards this new school due to the due process violations and public corruption involved,” Lowdon said.
In a meeting with the Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in August last year, residents were told construction will continue. However, there are questionable activities especially with some developers donating huge junks of money to her political campaign.
“We had real high hopes from Angela but it appears she is being used by developers to make money from the entire project at the expense of this community. I voted for her last election, I’m so disappointed with her that our meeting was a joke and nothing came out of it,” resident Jennifer Thompson said.
According to the press briefings from last year, “[Alsobrooks] said firmly that she does not intend to change the site, although she’ll make every attempt to try to address concerns. The neighborhoods in the area floods heavily after a hard rain.
“This is unacceptable,” said Marvis, a Prince George’s county native and former Brooklyn school educator who moved to the Prince George’s County thirty five years ago as part of fellowship to go to school in the region and decided to stay. “We shouldn’t be losing trees and damaging the environment without proper checks and balances because there are alternatives, free options available.”
“As we speak today, there are parents that are frustrated, and they are coming out of the district as we speak today, because they feel this was done undemocratically and don’t have choices,” Lane said.
“Whatever is driving this school system it is not being driven to serve the students. Whoever got the Covid relief money is celebrating, because it certainly was not the students, teachers or support staff. The disfunction is so pervasive that even veteran teachers can’t gather the fortitude to care anymore!”, said another staff members who cares.
School renovation is cost effective
School renovation is cost effective, and cheaper than new construction. With aging school facilities, shrinking budgets and declining school enrollments, many school districts are choosing to renovate rather than building new because it’s cheaper.
School enrollment is declining. Budgets are shrinking. Faced with these realities, more and more school districts are choosing to renovate rather than replace existing schools. There are many people in the community questioning what will happen to the current elementary schools which will combine once the new bigger school is finalized at Tantallon. Most elected official in Prince George’s county who might be benefiting from this corruption are reluctant to revert back to an all elected board.
The current board, chaired by Juanita D. Miller, an Alsobrooks appointee, has been criticized for a spasm of personality-fueled disagreements that led to the filing of ethics charges and attempts to remove several members of the panel after the questioned how public funds where being utilized through developers only known to the CEO, County Executive and others tied to them.
Grand corruption is the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many. It typically has three main features:
A systematic or well-organised plan of action involving high-level public officials that causes serious harm, such as gross human rights violations.
Oftentimes, these public officials even give the contract to a company of which they themselves are the beneficial owner; the majority of grand corruption cases include the use of anonymous shell companies to secretly move financial assets, according to the World Bank.
Through grand corruption, vast amounts of public money are systematically siphoned off to the accounts of a few powerful individuals, at the expense of citizens who should actually benefit. Financial institutions and other enablers assist those involved in laundering the proceeds.
When grand corruption and state capture happen, high-level officials may also use control over legislative and regulatory powers to legalise their activities and to weaken oversight and enforcement functions.
Typically, those involved in grand corruption benefit from impunity by interfering directly with the justice system and stymieing enforcement in order to thwart being held to account. Using the levers of state control, they may also suppress independent efforts by civil society and the media to investigate and expose corruption.
How does it affect you?
If you live in a country with political leaders enriching themselves on public funds, this will affect your life on countless levels. Infrastructure, health care, education – all of these vital necessities, and many more, will be massively underfunded, depriving you of basic rights and services. It may even put lives at risk through products of inferior quality and poorly constructed facilities.
Grand corruption is a huge barrier to sustainable development as seen here in PGCPS. Even if you live in a country or county where grand corruption is not an issue, you should care – because sustainable development affects all of us. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global effort towards a better future and the impact of grand corruption on them is far more destructive than from other forms of corruption. At the same time, less is being done about it.
On or around September 7, 2021, a month after the questionable construction and prince George’s county parents protest begun, then, Board Member Edward Burroughs III made a video to educate the public what was going on. It’s around this time when county Executive initiated a process to remove several Board members using the state machinery. This development would have a great impact on the environmentally peaceful area by adding increased flooding, traffic, light and noise pollution to the surrounding neighborhoods a petition signed by more than 2151 citizens says.
Nancy Bhargava organized marches throughout the neighborhood nearly six weeks before the construction begun to protest the proposed school.
“We’re concerned that we have been ignored. Our community, the residents here have been dismissed,” said Bhargava.
“I’m concerned because we are going to be losing a lot of tree canopy. The tree canopy absorbs the water and prevents the water from flowing out into the road and into my house, my backyard and my neighbor’s yard and causing serious issues,” said Bhargava to the press.
Ed Burroughs, a former member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education representing District 8 and now a councilman for the same District, was at a previous march talking with homeowners before and after he became a councilman. His problems at the Board with other Board members begun after they started questioning the secrecy and the public corruption surrounding the construction of the school and others.
In a letter sent to the Chief Executive Officer of the Prince George’s County Public Schools on March 23, 2021, board member Edward Burroughs wrote “I am writing to convey concerns that I have received from members of the community regarding the proposed site for the new Southern Area K-8 School. These members raised a variety of concerns in over an hour-long exchange between constituents and some of their elected officials.”
The letter went on to say, “Members of the community have expressed a strong desire to temporarily suspend construction activity surrounding the Southern Area K-8 School in order to allow the Board Chair to convene the proposed stakeholder meeting and discuss alternative locations for the school. I support the community in their request and I hope that the request for a pause in the development of this site can be granted. I look forward to continuing to work with you to successfully build a new Southern Area K-8 middle school while also addressing the flooding and traffic concerns raised by members of the community.”
As stated above, some homeowners worry that the tearing down acres of the wooded area which has been going will increase flooding in a neighborhood already prone to floods. They worry the problem will get significantly worse when construction begins which has been ongoing.
Other homeowners worry about the impact on traffic. The proposed location is near Indian Head Highway, a roadway known to be dangerous.
“Being here on Swan Creek Road, if you are here at any time of the day, cars come down here at least 50 miles per hour so it is not safe for our residents nor is it safe for any of the children,” said Anthony Mitchell, a homeowner.
Now some homeowners are trying to delay construction until they can work out these issues.
“They need to stop and they need to go through a comprehensive independent assessment of where we are as a community and what needs to be done,” said homeowner Brian Woolfolk.
In a statement posted online, the then District 8 Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker now running to be a deputy governor asked for a comprehensive study to be done before construction begun.
“Flooding in South County is a historical and resource-draining scourge throughout District 8. My concerns with this project have always been directed at the flooding impact on the residents who live in closest proximity to the school on Swan Creek Road, as well as the potential for increased flooding in surrounding neighborhoods,” said Anderson-Walker. “Ensuring the project planners are giving EVERY consideration to environmental, traffic, and flood mitigation strategies and solutions through engagement with the community, independent third-parties, and an objective analysis of the school’s master plan and proposed stormwater management plan, is paramount,” Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker wrote on March 28th, 2021.
Through the Blueprint Schools Program and without proper transparency such as in the case of Tantallon school construction project, PGCPS is accelerating the delivery of six new state-of-the-art schools in Prince George’s County, MD. One of the six is a new K-8 Academy, currently under construction in Fort Washington, MD, within the Tantallon community. Many parents in this area are opposed to the construction of the school due to the historical public corruption going back to former county Executive Jack Johnson. The big ties to developers are at play currently and the grand corruption which begun years ago.
FORT WASHINGTON, Md. – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) has been tight-lipped about a full-on brawl that took place inside Friendly High School last month.
A parent, who says they were never notified of the incident by the school, sent a video of the fight to FOX 5 saying they are concerned. The parent says they found out when they were checking their child’s phone.
The video shows a melee between two girls all while students watch and record video on their cellphones. There’s no staff, security, or school resource officer in sight.
Prince George’s County Public Schools says the incident took place on February 10th when a female student pepper-sprayed another female student leading to the fight.
The school district says five other females joined the fight.
A mother whose child is supposed to attend Friendly High School next year says more must be done to keep students safe. She wanted to remain anonymous.
“Will he be safe? Am I going to get that call one day that a fight breaks out in the hallway that he’s trying to get around it, and he gets pushed into it? Am I going to get that call that your child is at MedStar [Health] fighting for his life?” the concerned parent pondered.
While Prince George’s County Public Schools reduced security officers in its schools and replaced them with mental health counselors, the school district did keep its school resource officers.
PGCPS did not respond when we asked where were the school resource officers while this fight was taking place. The scuffle lasted more than a minute before any staff member showed up.
“All involved students were disciplined as outlined in the PGCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook in line with PGCPS policies.” the school district said.
Friendly High School did host a peace week, one week after the fight. Still, some have argued, now more than ever, mental health services are needed for students after spending more than a year isolated in distance learning.