Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Among the approved cuts was the $25 million that Leggett recommended trimming from Montgomery County Public Schools’ $2.5 billion annual budget.

Question:  How would County Councilmember Craig Rice know whether or not there is "fat in the central office" of MCPS?  The MCPS Operating Budget documents do not even disclose the over $8 million in Capital Budget funds that are used to fund the Operating Budget.  How can he say that there is no "fat" in the multi-millions of dollars in no bid purchases that are made every year?  What about travel, gift, and food budgets for administrators?  No fat? 
...The cuts were focused on reducing funding for the central office and administrative functions, according to the school system.
“The savings and reductions will focus more on the central office and not hit our classrooms,” Rice said. “I want to caution people out there who think there is still fat in the central office—there is not.”...

Silver Spring Man Sentenced for Producing Sexual Photos, Videos of Children

 A 23-year-old from Silver Spring was sentenced Monday to federal prison on child pornography charges after he solicited sexual videos from boys through text messages and online chat services.
Federal agents and Montgomery County police had found hundreds of images and videos with child pornography in Demetrius Murray’s Silver Spring home in early 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Del. Kathleen Dumais: "I think it is better to try and work on prevention issues than necessarily criminalize things," #sexabuse #failuretoreport #mcps #Vigna #CloverlyElementarySchool .@KathleenDumais1

This WBAL news story is from 2012 and explains why the Maryland legislature does not enact legislation that holds adults accountable when they fail to protect children.  Here in Maryland, keeping children safe is simply not our priority.  Remember it is just Maryland and Wyoming that have failed to enact legislation that would hold adults criminally responsible for their failure to report child sex abuse. 

Some Maryland state lawmakers hope to impose criminal sanctions on people who do not report report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Current state law requires reporting, but the state does does not have the power to prosecute when someone doesn't follow the law. Prompted by events that unfolded at Penn State University involving Jerry Sandusky last year, lawmakers in Maryland are taking action to protect children, but members of the General Assembly are divided...

..."We should make it a civil offense where you could be forced to pay a fine and not actually face jail time. Let's see if that works before we create another crime," said Montgomery County Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-District 20.
"I think it is better to try and work on prevention issues than necessarily criminalize things," said Montgomery County Delegate Kathleen Dumais, D-District 15.
Competing legislation pending in the General Assembly does include criminal penalties.
Deborah Baldwin said she supports criminal penalties. Baldwin said her daughter's cheerleading coach declined to do anything when the girl revealed she was assaulted by a referee.
"We are required by law to send our children to school, and we expect them to be safe," she said. "There should be a law that requires teachers to protect children from these situations."
The General Assembly has declined to pass similar legislation introduced four times in the past eight years...

Monday, January 29, 2018

WTOP: Md. middle school students asked to send nude photos on Snapchat

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County school officials are warning parents that an anonymous individual has been asking middle school students to send nude selfies on Snapchat, a popular social media and messaging platform...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Breaking: Board of Ed returns teacher to classroom after complaints of sexual harassment

Blair freshman Diana’s eighth grade P.E. and health classes became a nightmare when she was continuously sexually harassed by her teacher. "Whenever I would ask a question in class he would just be rubbing my back, he would call me 'sweet thing' and 'baby' and it was just really weird," she explains.

Several Blair students who went to the same middle school recall similar uncomfortable experiences fromanything about it. "I remember hearing from my friends like, 'he's really, really weird, don't get too close to him, keep your distance,'" remembers junior Sarah. "There was a lot of rubbing on the back, stuff like that, stuff teachers don't do because they can get in trouble for it." "I always had like that feeling that he was a little suspicious because he would always stare at people," says junior Anita. 

Among some Blazers, the teacher was known for targeting his inappropriate comments at specific students during class. "There was this one girl in my class that he'd single out and he'd talk to her one on one. She didn't look that comfortable but he kept pursuing class after class everyday and I remember it being really weird because she was like 12," explains Sarah.

Anita recalls an instance where the teacher singled out a student and made comments about the clothes she was wearing. "This one day my friend was wearing leggings and he was like, 'oh you look good in those leggings.' At first I thought it was a little weird and my friend didn't really care about it, so she let it go. A few days after she was wearing these other leggings and he said, 'wow you look really tall in those leggings, you look nice.'" 

For Sarah, reporting these events didn’t even cross her mind as a middle school student. "I don't remember anybody saying like, 'maybe I should go to a teacher.'" Looking back, she reflects that a solution didn't seem likely even if incidents were reported. "I don't think that there was enough of a support system there that if you went to a teacher people would actually do something about it."  

Unlike the Blazers who had previously graduated from this middle school, Diana did decide to report the P.E. teacher, 
as she had been taught to do from a young age. "My mother always told me if something's wrong, if something doesn't feel right, don't just keep it to yourself because that's when trouble starts," she says.

So she went straight to the adults, first to the principal, a woman she trusted, and then to her counselor, to lodge a complaint. To her surprise, she found that she wasn't the first one. "I went to the principal and I told her that my health teacher was calling me weird names and touching me inappropriately and she said, 'We'll take care of it, we've gotten other reports before and this is his last strike'," she explains.

She learned that the two other complaints, both from young women had been lodged earlier that year: one a couple months before Diana's and one about a year before. 

What happened next for Diana was exactly what should occur every time a complaint like this is lodged. "For a week [the teacher] was under fire, so they wouldn't let him teach for a week, we had a sub for like a week, and then he got replaced with another teacher and I found out [the accused teacher] got fired," she recalls, "I just told [the principal] and they just took care of it and they just followed up and told me what happened."
When she was little, Diana learned from her mother to speak up when something was not right.Courtesy of American Libraries Association
When she was little, Diana learned from her mother to speak up when something was not right.

Sentencing Larry Nassar Is Only a Start

Today's Editorial in the New York Times:

Adults who suspect a predator is on the prowl and do nothing are simply monsters in another form.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Turf Company Knowingly Sold Bad Product to Maryland Parks, Lawsuit Says

An artificial turf company accused of selling $570 million worth of defective turf to schools, local governments and parks departments is facing a class action lawsuit from unhappy customers in dozens of states, including D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
The parks department in Montgomery County, Maryland recently joined the lawsuit after officials were forced in March to tear out defective turf at the field outside Montgomery Blair High School. An officials said the replacement cost taxpayers $700,000.
"We know that if a kid falls and hits their head on something that hard, whether it be a cement sidewalk or artificial turf field that has deteriorated, the danger is concussion or death from the impact," concerned parent Janis Sartucci said...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Former MCPS administrator and Now Former Nashville public schools administrator made sexually explicit comments to employees, report shows

A top Nashville schools administrator on multiple occasions made sexually explicit comments to male and female employees, including about oral sex and his personal dating life, an internal Metro Schools report shows. 
A Metro Government human resources official said in the report that the administrator's actions were "too egregious to only receive a reprimand."
Moreno Carrasco, the former MNPS executive officer of organizational development, resigned from the district on Dec. 8 amid the ongoing investigation into his behavior.
"If Mr. Carrasco had not resigned, MNPS should have given him some measure of disciplinary action," said Michael Taylor, Metro Government human resources assistant director, in a Jan. 9 letter about the investigation. "In my view, his conduct was too egregious to only receive a reprimand."
Metro Nashville Public Schools said in a statement that the district sent the investigation of Carrasco out for an external audit because he was an employee of the district’s human resources department...

MCCPTA Safe Tech Subcommittee Puts Out Best Practices for Digital Safety at School and at Home

Monday, January 22, 2018

MCPS Parents: You Were WARNED and Now it is Your Reality. Teachers who were Convicted of Sexually Abusing Students or Assaulting Students are Having Their Convictions ERASED.

Last year, advocate Ellen Mugmon warned parents that the Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act would allow Sex Offenders to Expunge their recordsClick here to read her warning. 

The Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act had been passed in 2016, and took effect October 1, 2017.

In 2017, Maryland Senator Gail Bates (Carroll and Howard Counties) attempted to correct the section of the Justice Reinvestment Act that would allow sex offenders to expunge their records by introducing Senate Bill 774.

Vote to kill Bill that would have prevented
Sex Offenders from Expunging Their Convictions.
But Senator Bates' bill died in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee with the entire committee voting to kill the bill.  Included on the Committee that voted to kill the bill were Montgomery County Senators Susan Lee and William C. Smith. 

By killing the bill, these Senators allowed the Justice Reinvestment Act to become law on October 1st as written.  Thus, allowing sex offenders to have their records expunged.

And exactly as Ellen Mugmon predicted, former MCPS Meadow Hall Elementary School teacher Timothy Krupica has filed to have his conviction expunged.

In researching we have found three other Montgomery County teacher convictions from the last 4 years that no longer appear in the public court records.

One former MCPS teacher was even able to have his conviction expunged from the public records and his registration as a Sex Offender removed.

Krupica Petition for Expungement in court docket.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Who Has U.S.A. Gymnastics’ Back at This Point? The U.S.O.C., for Some Reason

By reporter Juliet Macur, New York Times, Jan 22, 2018. Yellow highlights my own. To read the full story go here.

The United States Olympic Committee once stepped in to run the national governing body for team handball because it was plagued by “a continued pattern of dysfunction.”
At another time, it stripped the power of the taekwondo federation because it had financial troubles and failed to “effectively confront” its problems. In 2008, it threatened to disband U.S.A. Track & Field because the organization needed to shrink its board of directors.
Those problems seem like jaywalking violations compared with the blatant failure of U.S.A. Gymnastics to protect its young gymnasts from a serial predator like Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, the longtime national team doctor.
“I was not protected,” Jordyn Wieber, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, said on Friday, as she said in public, for the first time, that Dr. Nassar abused her. “My teammates were not protected. My parents trusted U.S.A. Gymnastics and Larry Nassar to take care of me, and we were betrayed by both.”
In tears, Ms. Wieber described how Dr. Nassar began grooming her with food and gifts when she was 8, and began molesting her when she was 14. How much more does the Olympic committee need to bulldoze U.S.A. Gymnastics, so the organization can be rebuilt without the people who couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see, a monster right before them?
Yet in an investigative review paid for by the federation, the former federal prosecutor Deborah J. Daniels described the weaknesses of U.S.A. Gymnastics. One of them was that the board didn’t adequately address the sport’s sexual-abuse problem.
Her report criticized the board because it didn’t hold management accountable for protecting children, failed to routinely question management about the issue and spent “very little time” discussing child-abuse prevention.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Silver Spring Middle School Security Guard Sentenced to Probation for Having Sex with Student

Silver Spring Middle School Security Guard Sentenced to Probation for Having Sex with Student: Former employee pleaded guilty to sex offense and assault charges

...Lievano was arrested in May after he allegedly had sex with a 14-year-old student at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring when he was working as a security assistant...

Blair Alumni Accuse Renowned Math Teacher of Years of ‘Harassing’ Behavior

Blair Alumni Accuse Renowned Math Teacher of Years of ‘Harassing’ Behavior: Galvanized in part by the #MeToo movement, former students share stories spanning decades about now-retired instructor

...Bethesda Beat learned that in 2011 a parent warned the Blair administration about Walstein. Anne LeVeque said she walked away from a meeting with Blair’s principal with the impression that Walstein would retire at the school year’s end. He ended up staying at Blair until 2013 and on the substitute teaching roster until 2016...

FOX5: Public tolerance for sending students to school in snow lower now than in past, says Montgomery Co.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Call MoCo Delegates and tell them: Vote NO! on MC 27-18, Eminent Domain - Expansion of 'Quick Take' Authority

Our representatives in Annapolis will be holding their weekly off-camera Friday morning meeting tomorrow and plan to vote on a late-filed bill, MC27-18, Montgomery County - Eminent Domain - Expansion of 'Quick Take' Authority.' The bill was requested by the chair on behalf of the Montgomery County government. They will meet tomorrow morning at 9:30am.

Your "representatives" in Annapolis have given you less than 24 hours to let them know how you feel. No public hearing process. Quick! Should they make it easier for the county to seize your property? Tick tock.

This is to amend the Constitution so if it makes it through the legislature it would be on the ballot in November.
From the bill:
"For the purpose of proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to expand the authority of the County Council of Montgomery County to provide for the immediate taking of private property situated in the County and needed for certain purposes; making stylistic changes; and submitting this amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption or rejection."
This would give the County Council authority for quick take on STATE roads which they currently do not have. So yes. This can be for the BRT and for the Beltway projects as well as the Bike plan which will also have to acquire property. Also, small cell towers. The State has a very defined process for taking and it is not quick take.  This would supersede that and the decisions would be made by politicians. Currently county quick take on county roads is limited.
Note that no other Maryland County has the ability for quick take on state roads.
Your delegates and their contact information are here. Just think of it as a game show. You have just a few more minutes to press the button. Or in this case, email your delegates. Remember, time's almost up!

Breaking: MCPS Teacher John Vigna Loses Appeal of Sentencing

MCPS teacher John Vigna appealed his 48 year sentence imposed on August 4, 2017, in Montgomery County Circuit Court. 

On December 1, 2017,  the Montgomery County Sentencing Panel that reviewed his sentence denied Mr. Vigna a hearing on this matter and affirmed the sentence imposed by Judge Boynton on August 4th. 



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WPost: What about #MeTooKids? @mcps @mocoboe

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has called for an “investigator general” for public schools, and Maryland legislators seek “to make Maryland the most woman-friendly state legislature in the country.” What about the children? Where is the legislation that would penalize educators for failing to report child sexual abuse to child protective services or the police? Where is the legislation to create an inspector general with enforcement authority to recommend criminal penalties for those who fail to root out child predators in Maryland public schools?
Montgomery County Public Schools tried to cover up the growing scandal within its system. Conviction of child molesters, settlements to victims and nondisclosure agreements are all part of the scam that defrauds parents and taxpayers. Transparency and accountability are hard to find.  

At the January meeting of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, Superintendent Jack Smith and Chief of Staff Henry Johnson refused to answer questions from activists and parents of Cloverly Elementary School about a child predator arrested by state police...

Maryland County Has Joined Huge Artificial Turf Class Action Lawsuit @mcps @mocoboe

A Crisis of Confidence In Maryland Schools: Is An Investigator General The Solution?

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has said that parents’ confidence in public schools is waning. Now, the Republican governor is proposing an office of an independent investigator with the power to subpoena to look into corruption allegations in Prince George’s County ––as well as complaints of mold and broken heating systems around the state. Is his move politically motivated? And will it pass in a General Assembly controlled by the Democratic Party? Guest host Brendan Greeley discusses with local parents and education advocates...

These kinds of Victim Impact Statements have taken place in Mont. Co. courtrooms, except without cameras and even without the press.

Sexual assault victims confront former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar in court

An onslaught of victims, many of them tearful and with voices tinged with anger and determination, confronted former USA Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday, telling him how he robbed them of their childhoods by using his position as a star physician to sexually assault them and scar them for life.
One by one, the victims stood at a podium in Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing just feet from the man who molested them as children, some in front of their parents during medical examinations...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

WED 1/17: Off Camera, Off Site County Council Meeting to Discuss Public Comments #NoVideo

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Rockville Library Board Room #311 9:30 Council Retreat

A.Administrative Items:

Council calendar 2018

2018 Council appointments

Update - Council Office Building renovations

Update - Council Office Building security

Town hall meetings and community engagement

B.Open Floor for Councilmembers’ comments


Former MCPS Employee Indicted on Charges of Sexually Touching 10-Year-Old Girl

Former MCPS Employee Indicted on Charges of Sexually Touching 10-Year-Old Girl: Gaithersburg resident was fired from school system in May

...Roy “Andy” Simmons III, 41, was indicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court grand jury, according to court filings posted Friday
He was arrested in October in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred in November 2016 at Carderock Springs Elementary School in Potomac...

School Board Comes Out in Opposition to Bus Inspection Bill

School Board Comes Out in Opposition to Bus Inspection Bill

The short list for NYC’s next schools chief

Josh Starr, the ex-superintendent of Montgomery County, Md., and Stamford, Conn., schools was a runner-up to Fariña last time and is still a national leader in progressive education administration circles. He possesses New York roots and played a brief role as school-accountability czar during the Bloomberg administration...

Monday, January 15, 2018

In this #MeToo, moment, let’s not forget abused children .@mcps .@mocoboe .@KathleenDumais1

In this #MeToo and #TimesUp moment, just as we’ve been shocked by the abuse, we are also disturbed by the enablers, the seemingly good people who either knew or strongly suspected that something foul was afoot but chose not to act.

For each persistent abuser, there are enablers who chose not to act...
...Every state and territory has enacted penalties that range from civil fines to criminal charges for those who knowingly fail to report child abuse — except Maryland and Wyoming...
 ...• prevented the Montgomery County school officials from simply reprimanding charismatic veteran teacher John Vigna for his inappropriate contact with children, while letting him stay in the classroom for decades.
• emboldened the numerous teachers at Vigna’s and Carraway’s schools to defy their bosses’ assurances that they’d handle the problem, and do what Maryland law has long required: report to police or child protective services... 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Number of Students Taking the SAT Jumped by More Than Half, City Says

From The New York Times, by reporter Elizabeth A. Harris. Full story here.

The number of New York City public school students taking the SATs shot up last year, after the city offered the test free during the school day.
The city’s education department said that 61,800 high school juniors took the test last year, a 51 percent increase from the year before.
Phil Weinberg, the deputy chancellor whom Ms. Fariña credited as the person responsible for the initiative, said the city paid about $2.2 million to make the SAT free to every student who wanted to take it — Ms. Fariña said that even some students at the Rikers Island jail complex participated last year.

Senate Bill 103: Task Force to Study the Impact of Student Cell Phone Use in the Classroom

FOR the purpose of establishing the Task Force to Study the Impact of Student Cell Phone 4 Use in the Classroom; providing for the composition, chair, and staffing of the Task 5 Force; prohibiting a member of the Task Force from receiving certain compensation, 6 but authorizing the reimbursement of certain expenses; requiring the Task Force to 7 study certain matters; requiring the Task Force to report its findings to the Governor 8 and the General Assembly on or before a certain date; providing for the termination 9 of this Act; and generally relating to the Task Force to Study the Impact of Student 10 Cell Phone Use in the Classroom

Thursday, January 11, 2018

WSJ: iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors

By David Benoit
Updated Jan. 7, 2018 7:28 p.m. ET
The iPhone has made Apple Inc. and Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars. Now some big shareholders are asking at what cost, in an unusual campaign to make the company more socially responsible.

A leading activist investor and a pension fund are saying the smartphone maker needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Md. Gov. Hogan slams regional schools, calls for inspector general

...The Maryland State Education Association, which represents teachers in Maryland public schools, called Hogan’s statements “an attack on public education.” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who is running for governor, said the current state board of education, whose members are appointed by the governor, already has the power to conduct audits of school systems. “Right now, he has the ability to do that.”
Baker said that if the governor really wanted to help school systems, “Maybe he should meet with superintendents once a week.”
In Montgomery County, Janis Sartucci, with the Parents Coalition, whose members have been sharp critics of spending and management practices in the local school system, welcomed Hogan’s plan for an education inspector general.
“It’s long overdue and desperately needed,” said Sartucci. “If the governor is looking at bringing in additional resources and additional oversight, we would fully support that.”...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

@mcps driver Alfonso Merma says his bus was stopped when it slid off Tulip Lane in Potomac. Teenage special needs student and an aide on board.

Parents are upset after Superintendent Jack Smith left tonight’s budget meeting early. They wanted to ask him about the former lunch aide at Clover Elementary School aide, Sean Kelley, who was arrested for child porn distribution.

Full Report:

ABC7: “Where were all the school board members?” - Cloverly Elementary School Parent.

Full Report:

MoCo Fire & Rescue: MCPS Bus Appears to Have Slipped on Icy Street this AM

MCPS Parent, "You can't even keep them safe."

Full Report:

ABC7: Parents confront MCPS leaders, after lunch aide charged with possession of child porn

As Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith walked out of a budget meeting early on Monday night, parents were furious.

“(You all) know what we were here for,” said one parent.

They were there to ask him about Sean Kelley.

Before his arrest, Kelley worked as a part-time lunch aide at Cloverly Elementary School.

He’s now charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

“He is charged with three counts of distribution of imagery of a minor engaged in sexual conduct and seven counts of possession of imagery of an individual under the age of 16 engaged in sexual conduct,” said a spokesperson for Maryland State Police.

After Dr. Smith left the meeting, parents directed their questions to Chief of Staff Dr. Henry Johnson...

Friday, January 5, 2018

Breaking: Cloverly Elementary aide Sean Kelley arrested for possession of child porn. @ABC7News has been investigating him for months. More on tonight.

Montgomery County Council President Admits Public Hearings are Staged

Thanks to County Council President Hans Riemer for admitting in print what the Council has been doing for years.  County Council public hearings are not public at all, but staged to support the pre-determined Council position.  Likewise, County agencies take their lead from the County Council and exclude public comment in favor of industry representatives speaking freely and often at Tower Committee meetings.   

...Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large) said members from his staff picked the people who testified at the meeting based upon the analysis of the bill they gave in their requests to speak at the public hearing.
“We wanted people who had some content... Those who were here had written us extensive emails, you know, even providing a thorough analysis of the issue, so we felt that they would be constructive and helpful.”...
...But even when members of the public can ask to speak, it is not an absolute right.
“Just because you request does not mean you we will be accepted,” Reimer said...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

State’s Highest Court To Consider Rockville Teacher’s Whistleblower Case Against MCPS

State’s Highest Court To Consider Rockville Teacher’s Whistleblower Case Against MCPS: Richard Montgomery teacher asked for legal protection after speaking to the press

The Teens Trapped Between a Gang and the Law

Read the full story in The New Yorker here. By author Jonathan Blitzer, January 1, 2018.

On Long Island, unaccompanied minors are caught between the violence of MS-13 and the fear of deportation.

Juliana grew up with a single memory of her father. He was sitting in the half-light of evening on the porch of their home, in a small town in El Salvador, while her mother cooked dinner in the kitchen. A man in a black mask emerged from the darkness. Juliana heard three gunshots, and saw her father fall off his chair, vomiting blood. She was three years old at the time, and afterward she wondered if the killing had actually happened. The most tangible detail was the man in the mask, who came to seem more present in her life than her father ever was. Juliana used to find her mother by the windows, pulling back a corner of the curtains to be sure that he had not returned. “It was like that man went on living with us,” Juliana told me. One day when she was older, her mother said that a gang called the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, had killed her father for refusing to pay a tax on a deli that he operated out of the house.

For five years after the killing, the family moved every six months, staying with relatives throughout El Salvador, trying to keep ahead of the gang. In 2011, after Juliana’s mother, Ramona, testified against the killer, a member of MS-13 tried to stab her at a soccer game, where she was selling refreshments. She escaped, and fled the country, leaving Juliana and her two younger sisters at an aunt’s house, because she couldn’t afford to bring them with her. She went to Brentwood, on Long Island, where she had relatives, and took a job cleaning houses. A few years later, she was returning home from work, when she got a call. “What I need is money to pay a lawyer for the people who have been affected by what you’ve said,” a male voice told her. “I know the people of the neighborhood. I know your family, your kids, your daughter.” One of Juliana’s schoolmates, a sixteen-year-old boy who belonged to MS-13, had kidnapped her from her aunt’s house; for weeks, she was raped and beaten. She managed to call her mother one afternoon, and together they plotted her escape.

Sexual misconduct in Annapolis? Women say it’s a hidden — but real — problem

...Instead, many women informally trade experiences and warnings with friends and trusted colleagues.
“There is this vague sense that you could go to legislative ethics or to the presiding officers or to (House Administrator) Barbara Oakes,” the former staffer said. “But if you are in the minority party, you aren’t getting in the speaker’s office.”
“Instead, everybody just warns everybody else,” she said. “Female staffers who are hired by more experienced female staffers get told ‘don’t go to that office alone.’ Everyone just warns everyone instead of dealing with the individual.”
#MeToo Maryland

Lawmakers and lobbyists in Maryland say they expect the issue of sexual harassment and misconduct borne of the #MeToo social media movement to be part of the 90-day legislative session that begins Jan. 10...
...In that story, Havard detailed her experiences as an intern covering the 2013 session, During that time, she said she was subject to harassment by three lawmakers  — a Republican and two Democrats...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Request for MoCo Tower Committee to Table Inaccurate, Incomplete Applications (Including Blair HS) and to Include Public Comment in Process as Per MoCo Regulation COMCOR 02.58E.01.05(b)

Today, the Montgomery County Transmission Facility Coordinator Group (Tower Committee) is meeting at 2 PM to consider a number of applications from cell tower vendors.  Among the applications to be considered today are a number of very large radio/cell towers on or near fire stations around the County.  

These applications appear to be going before the Tower Committee without public notice, review or input.  The Parents' Coalition made these applications public just yesterday.  Why didn't Montgomery County make these applications public?  

In reviewing these applications we have discovered that one of these new very tall towers is slated to be constructed on the Montgomery Blair High School baseball field.  To date, no school communities have supported the construction of a cell tower on public school land.  Many MCPS schools have been very vocal about their opposition to these commercial construction projects on school land.  What is the position of the Blair High School parents?  What is the position of the neighbors of Blair High School?  

Below is an e-mail sent today from Sue Present to the Tower Committee asking that these applications be tabled due to inaccurate information, incomplete information, and due to the absence of community notice and opportunity to comment as per Montgomery County Regulations. 

From: suepresent 
Date: Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 11:06 AM
To: "Williams, Marjorie"
Cc: "Schaeffer, Matt" , "Bowser, Ted" , "Niblock, David" ,,, "Williamson, Thomas A." ,, Ike Leggett , "Miller, Judy" , WPCA , "Morgan, Carl" , "Segal, Sonny" , "Royalty, Clifford"

Dear Margie,


I appreciate your having released the applications for the new radio communications towers, yesterday. There has been woefully insufficient time to thoroughly examine these applications, which are on today’s agenda. However, in focusing my attention on TFCG application 201712-05, the one that is identified for Fire Station 16, I have already discovered significant flaws/concerns.

1)      Co-location Opportunity. The applicants identify the co-location alternatives that they dismissed within a 2-mile radius, and explain their rationale. They identify a lattice tower registered to MNCPPC, which the application says is 265’ in height, and explain that they dismiss it because as a radio broadcast tower it is “hot.”

Presumably, this is the 247’-high (not 265’ high) radio broadcast tower that is located at Sligo Creek Golf Course. It is the tower at which Verizon received the TFCG’s “recommendation of application 201612-05 to attach twelve 72'-high panel antennas at the 120' level, and the Planning Board subsequently approved the installation. Thus, for Verizon, the radio tower being “hot” was not an issue.

As is explained in the applicant response dated December 13, 2017, to meet the applicant’s need for this proposed radio communications, the attachments are needed at a height on the structure of 180’.  Under the circumstances, this applicant provides inadequate clarification as to why it cannot attach at the equivalent height (which I presume to be approximately 197’ on the nearby 247’ Sligo Creek Golf Course radio tower) when Verizon has already demonstrated its ability to attach to the Sligo Golf Course radio tower.

2)      Land Authorizations. In my previous communication to the Tower Committee, dated December 29, 2017, I alerted the Committee to the restrictive covenant governing Blair Local Park (and attached a copy). At the time of that message I was uncertain of the proposed location. It now seems evident that the plan is to locate the very large monopole on Blair Local Park. But, as previously explained, the restrictive covenant prohibits the use of the Blair Local Park land for any use other than Public Open Space. The proposed radio tower use is thus prohibited without modifications to the restrictive covenant. 

In addition, I raised concerns about easements. The application (overall site plan C-2) references “existing easement.” The easements, which of course were improperly conferred with the original Nextel/Sprint lease, indicated that they would cease when the telecommunications facilities became “obsolete.” The telecommunications facilities became obsolete when the lease was terminated and all telecommunications facilities were removed from the property, and the structure took on the sole purpose of a light standard, in 2015. There are no current easements in the County Land Records. I assert that without proper State authorization, any easements that would facilitate a communications tower would contravene the restrictive covenant.

3)      Monopole Height. The applicant’s justification – identifying other prospective users and the wishes of the manager of the land (for whom there would be greater revenue generated from the higher tower) – is inadequate for the monopole height of 195’. The facts demonstrate that the applicant’s needs can be met with a structure no higher than 180’ in height.

Although speculative, the additional information provided in this application that supports the State Highway Administration’s interest in communication space at this approximate location should bolster further exploration of siting on the substantial SHA parcel that abuts Fire Station 16 and Blair Local Park, between University Blvd. E. and the beltway, or upon other even more appropriate State Highway land.
Based upon these comments and those that you have received from a few other members of the public, it appears that the Tower Coordinator did not adhere to COMCOR 02.58E.01.05 in “recommending” to the TFCG the location of Blair Local Park for this monopole. Adequate consideration has not been given, per that regulation, for:
·        zoning standards for siting a telecommunications transmission facility;
·        effect of the telecommunications transmission facility on the land owning agency;
·        co-location options; and
·        potential impacts on the surrounding area(s).

And, you have received direct comments from only a few members of the public. That is because there has been no public process of notification and public input for almost all of these proposed facilities)as noted in my previous message, the land owner(s) failed to follow COMCOR 02.58E.01.05(b).

So, I urge the Tower Committee to POSTPONE the review of TFCG application 201612-05 and of all the applications on today’s agenda for NEW MCRCS Telecommunications Towers/Monopoles to provide for the Land Owning Agencies, the Tower Coordinator, and the Tower Committee to adhere to all regulations articulated in COMCOR 02.58E. Postponing these applications would provide the applicant a necessary do-over. The County needs to provide the surrounding communities where these facilities are proposed with appropriate due process, and to treat them with respect, too.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sue Present