Category Archives: Will Jawando

Will Jawando, A Man with Options

By Adam Pagnucco.

Several astute readers noticed something interesting about last week’s post on Council Member Will Jawando’s fundraising email – it led to a website allowing contributions up to $2,500. Here is what the donation page looks like.

It’s perfectly legal for Maryland candidates for state and county office to collect contributions that large, so why is this interesting? The answer is that Jawando used public campaign financing two years ago, and that permits individual contributions up to a $150 maximum. On June 23 of this year, Jawando established a traditional campaign account listing himself as chair, his wife as treasurer and his council chief of staff as campaign manager. This account allows him to accept contributions from individuals, business entities, unions and other political committees (like PACs) of up to $6,000 each per cycle. Because it’s a traditional account, its contributions are ineligible for county matching funds under MoCo’s public financing program.

Two years ago, Jawando was hugely successful in public financing. He raised a total of $422,571 for both the primary and the general elections, including $304,084 in matching taxpayer funds. Both of those figures easily led the field of council at-large candidates in 2018. In the Democratic primary, Jawando finished second behind the race’s sole incumbent, Hans Riemer, in the race for four at-large seats. Jawando finished first in Legislative District 20 (where he ran a strong but unsuccessful campaign for delegate in 2014), first in Council District 5 (which overlaps with District 20) and first in Takoma Park, Downtown Silver Spring, Glenmont/Norbeck and the Silver Spring East County zip codes (20903, 20904 and 20905). He also finished first in majority-minority precincts and in precincts where African Americans comprised at least 25% of the population.

So if he was so successful in public financing, why switch to traditional financing? Traditional accounts offer numerous advantages to those who use them, including access to PAC and union money (both in-state and out-of-state), contribution limits of $6,000 and unlimited self-funding. (Public financing accounts limit self-funding to $12,000.) Best of all, traditional accounts can be deployed to any state or county race in Maryland. Jawando can raise money for this account, survey his opportunities and then use it to run for county executive, governor, lieutenant governor or for reelection to his current seat. In contrast, public financing candidates are limited to county office and must declare which office they are seeking because executive, council at-large and district council races have different matching funds formulas and thresholds. Traditional accounts are the way to go for a candidate keeping his or her options open.

Is Jawando going to pay a price for eschewing public financing? The answer is a big fat NO. District 5 Council Member Tom Hucker used traditional financing in his 2018 election and blew out a rival who used public financing. Ben Shnider attracted huge progressive institutional support in his unsuccessful 2018 challenge to District 3 Council Member Sidney Katz despite using traditional financing. (Katz used public financing.) District 2 Council Member Craig Rice and District 1 open seat candidate Andrew Friedson both used traditional financing and won. On top of all of this, Jawando’s record on the council is unquestionably progressive as he has been a key leader on police reform and civil rights. However one feels about public financing, it’s hard to argue that Jawando doesn’t deserve progressive support – an argument that applies equally well to Hucker.

Jawando’s decision to use traditional financing is one of the most interesting developments in the embryonic 2022 campaign. He has always been a complete package as a candidate, combining good looks, excellent speaking skills, charisma, a knack for getting press, affiliation with Barack Obama (his former employer) and work ethic – and now he has a progressive record in office. How high could he go and when? That question is now on the minds of LOTS of people in MoCo politics.

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Jawando Fundraises Off Republican Attack

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Will Jawando is raising money off an attack by the Montgomery County Republican Party on his work on police reform. He even borrowed our graphic of their Facebook ad without credit to Seventh State. (Pretty cheeky, Will!) Congratulations, Republicans – you just helped your least favorite council member raise some money. Jawando’s fundraising email appears below.


From: Will Jawando info@willjawando.com
Date: Mon, Sep 21, 2020
Subject: Maryland GOP Attacks, I need your help!

I need your help to fight back against GOP Attacks!

Dear ,

I’m writing to ask for your help.

The Maryland GOP is working overtime to incite President Trump’s right-wing base on Election Day — and they are using both my race and my efforts to reimagine public safety in our state’s largest jurisdiction as provocation.

Some of you know of the violent threats made on social media against me and my family. One Facebook post from a right-wing activist read: “God forbid you would be shot in the head while sitting in your car. One can only dream” and then, “We back blue.” This on the heels of an false advertisement published by the Republican Party to go after my efforts to reform policing.

This is just one example of how the GOP is targeting me — literally. They are doing that because I’ve succeeded in passing important police reform legislation in Montgomery County, and because targeting me right now helps them activate their base for the presidential election.

To be clear, I support the officers who put their lives on the line everyday. That is why I voted for their contract with the County, and why I believe they should not be on the front line for mental health crisis’ or student behavior in schools. We can honor the men and women who put on a uniform everyday while reimagining public safety and making changes when confronted with data showing disparities in policing.

Can you please make a donation today? We need allies like you if we are to stem this rising tide of racist hate. Your support will help us activate our own progressive base, and just as important, persuade undecided voters to stand up to the hate we see pouring out of the right wing.

I’m asking you for help because you have stood with me in the past. We are at a critical junction. To defeat our opponents, we must start in our local communities and our states — we must start at home. Please join me in this fight. Give today and take a stand against hate. Thank you.

Help me fight back against GOP Attacks!

Sincerely,

Will Jawando

Paid for by Will Jawando

Will Jawando
P.O. Box 10598
Silver Spring, MD 20914
United States

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MoCo Republicans Attack Jawando Over Police Reform

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Montgomery County Republican Party is now running this video attacking Council Member Will Jawando over his efforts to reform the police department.

The GOP is even running a Facebook ad to promote the video.

Not everyone is supportive of the county’s efforts to reform, reimagine and/or defund the police. Our post on the subject, “Free-For-All,” is on track to be the most-viewed post on Seventh State for this month. But getting attacked by Republicans is great for Jawando in building his prestige inside the county’s progressive Democratic base. Jawando should consider offering a subsidy to help the GOP run the ad in Takoma Park and the rest of the Democratic Crescent!

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Jawando Pushes Back on Misleading Nine Districts Video

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Will Jawando, who is shown in a video by Nine Districts for MoCo in alleged support of their position, has denounced the video as intended to “mislead the public.”

The video, for which Nine Districts has taken out a Facebook ad, shows footage of Jawando speaking at a session of the county’s charter review commission in February. The video prefaces his remarks with the statement, “Why Montgomery County needs 9 Districts…” The video then shows him saying the following in an edited clip:

People should elect who represent their values, and to some points earlier, you know, there’s growing upcounty population… I do think the issue of representation is important. You know, I don’t… everyone in the county is not equally heard. Right, big surprise.

Here is what the Nine Districts group is not telling people: not only does Jawando not support their position, he actually argued against it in front of the charter review commission at that very same event. The commission posted a video showing Jawando’s full comments (along with everyone else) and he mentioned Prince George’s County, which had a nine district council for decades and added two at-large seats in 2018:

I’d also add that the Prince George’s County model that was mentioned is not insignificant because they were in that district model for a long time and, again, added two members, went to eleven, added two at-large members because they were having these parochial fights that they couldn’t get anything done and were not as collegial as they wanted to be. And I’ve spoken to a lot of them and they think it’s working pretty well with the at-large members.

And I think you don’t want to give people less representation, you want to have more. Right now, it’s true, you can decide whether you think this is good or not, but every person in the county votes for five members of the council, a majority of the council, and I just think that’s such a significant and powerful point. Now whether they come to your community or not, or they’re representing… I certainly try, you know, when anyone wants me to come, I’ll come, and I don’t know what’s been true in the past, but I think that is a powerful, powerful tool and to lose that, I think it’s not good for the voter.

The commission’s video, starting at the point when Jawando’s full remarks begin, is below.

I asked Jawando for a statement on the Nine Districts video. He said:

It is disappointing but perhaps not surprising that the Nine District campaign is using a partial clip of a longer statement of mine in order to mislead the public. Let me be very clear that I support Question C, which adds two additional district seats while maintaining At-Large Councilmember seats. Voters deserve more representation not less and must be able to have their voices heard by five councilmembers – four at-large and one representative for their district. The Nine District proposal to eliminate at-large seats actually disenfranchises voters by limiting their voice on the council to one elected member.

It’s clear that Jawando opposes nine districts. He argued against the proposal at the same event from which the Nine Districts group uses an edited video clip to allege that he supports them. Jawando also voted in favor of a rival proposal to keep the at-large seats and add two district seats. Nine Districts knows all of this very well. Their video is indeed misleading and should be taken down.

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Top Seventh State Stories, June 2020

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in June ranked by page views.

1. Repeal the Linda Lamone for Life Law
2. Baltimore City’s Election Has a Problem
3. Will Talbot County Choose Tourism or Slavery?
4. Judge Candidate on Floyd Cops: “Lock Em Up”
5. Elrich Asks MCPS for Cuts
6. Jawando Ignored Public Information Act, Had Scant Evidence Before Filing Rent Control Bill
7. First School Board Results Favor Harris
8. MCPS Survey Responses on Distance Learning
9. Elrich’s Police Union Contract
10. It’s the CIP, Stupid! (Guest blog by Gus Bauman)

Congratulations to former Planning Board Chair Gus Bauman for making our top ten!

The break-out story of the month was the one about the Talbot Boys statue, which was shared dozens of times across the Eastern Shore. Now that Mississippi has removed the confederate battle flag from its state flag, there is no longer any excuse for Talbot County leaders to continue honoring the Confederacy.

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Jawando Ignored Public Information Act, Had Scant Evidence Before Filing Rent Control Bill

One may be the loneliest number, but apparently one documented claim of a rent increase was enough for Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large) to introduce rent control legislation that governs the entire county.

When he introduced his emergency rent control bill in response to the pandemic, I made repeated requests to Councilmember Jawando’s office for any evidence he had of rising rents that inspired him to file the bill.

I eventually received a public comment but not a scintilla of hard evidence, so I submitted a formal Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) request on April 19 via his official email account: “Please consider this a request for any and all documents covered by the Public Information Act you have received related to rent increases during the pandemic. Thank you.”

Cecily Thorne, Jawando’s Chief of Staff, contacted me on April 21 after I wrote my initial post about the lack of evidence or logic “even from an amoral greed perspective” behind the rent control bill. She stated that “Councilmember Jawando asked me to forward some of the information we have been receiving from tenants related to rent increases” and included four redacted pieces of information.

Only one of these documents made a claim of a rent increase that was made both prior to the bill’s introduction and during the pandemic. (Another was notification given prior to the pandemic, while one involved late fees, not rent, and the last one was a somewhat complex situation sent after the bill’s introduction in any case.)

I spoke with Ms. Thorne shortly after receiving the information and told her directly of my MPIA request in the course of our discussion. Nonetheless, my request went completely ignored in violation of the law.

When I followed up on May 30 – after the mandatory 30-day disclosure deadline in state law had passed – Ms. Thorne remembered being made aware of a request (“You mentioned you made a request”), but also texted that “I have not seen one until now in writing” and “I did not receive a request formal from you” despite my having sent it to Councilmember Jawando’s official email and having mentioned it during our call.

The lack of response suggests that either (1) Councilmember Will Jawando’s office is highly disorganized, or (2) unaware of its legal responsibilities under the Public Information Act, or (3) willfully ignored the request in violation of the law. It could also be a combo platter.

Thanks to the efforts of Legislative Attorney Amanda Mihill, I received most, though not all, of the documents late last week. However, Jawando’s office excluded the unredacted copy of a previous document until I made mention that it was missing. Their response still excludes many documents attached to emails in violation of the law.

What’s Not in the Documents?

Despite Councilmember Jawando’s media claims, he had virtually no documentation that this was occurring before he decided to file the bill. Although Cecily Thorne stated that the emails she sent were only “some of the information,” the documents sent show otherwise. There was literally only the one claim mentioned above.

There are no copies of phone records listing people who called with complaints. Nor is there any evidence that the Councilmember’s staff contacted the landlord.

The only other evidence within the documents involves a few back and forth strategy emails with the Renters Alliance in which Councilmember Jawando says “as many examples as you can send will be helpful ahead of bill introduction.” The reply references only increases being seen in the same building as the sole complaint from a renter.

One case.

No wonder Councilmember Jawando was unresponsive to queries on this topic from not just myself but others despite the claims he made in the media.

Glass Bill Provides Meaningful Help

Fortunately, the Council took other action to address the larger problem, which is that many people who have lost their jobs, if only temporarily, cannot pay regardless of the level of rent.

The Council passed legislation introduced by Councilmember Evan Glass (D-At Large) that, among other provisions, appropriated an additional $2 million in rental assistance. This money helps people facing eviction directly. The county has also loosened the requirements to receive rental assistance in light of the ongoing crisis.

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Time to Bag Jawando’s Rent Control Bill?

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large) introduced legislation to temporarily suspend the county bag tax and enact rent control to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The first has already bit the dust and it looks increasingly like the second should too.

Bag Bill Bagged

Councilmember Jawando introduced a bill to suspend the county bag tax during the health crisis. Though cosponsored by all of his colleagues, except Councilmembers Evan Glass (D-At Large) and Tom Hucker (D-District 5), the bill received a lot of pushback.

Much like Councilmember Hans Riemer’s (D-At-Large) bill to allow businesses to suspend payments for alcohol to the county monopoly, it faced the problem that bonds are tied to the revenues. Additionally, the environmentally-focused Sierra Club was not happy.

In a rare story for a bill sponsored by seven of nine members, it was on the fast track to defeat instead of passage. Most would have let the bill die quietly at this point. Mystifyingly, Jawando chose instead to announce a full retreat by declaring victory:

Councilmember Will Jawando plans to withdraw Expedited Bill 17-20, Carryout Bag Tax Suspension after working collaboratively with members of the community. . .

County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles recommends “a number of strategies for using reusable bags including washing them between use, customers packing their own reusable bags at check out and frequently cleaning surfaces in baggage areas.”

In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to work on a campaign and resources to remind consumers to wash their reusable bags that can be posted at grocery stores and retail establishments.

Jawando can trumpet his success in finding an “alternative solution” but it sure sounds suspiciously like the status quo.

Rent Control: A Solution in Search of a Problem?

Now, Councilmember Jawando is pressing ahead with a rent control bill that is scheduled to have a hearing on April 21 (tomorrow) and a full council vote on April 23 (Thursday).

Jawando has explained to the media that his office has received “multiple reports” of rent going up 20, 30, 40 percent. He also expressed concern that at the end of the crisis that “You’re going to see people try to raise rents to get out people who can’t pay. And then you’re going to see a spike in evictions and then you’re going to try to bring people in at higher rents to recoup the loss.”

As Adam Pagnucco previously reported, the chambers of commerce have pushed back very hard on these claims:

We were deeply disappointed by the reckless statements you made. . . claim[ing] that landlords were instituting 20 – 40 percent rent increases during COVID-19.

The most offensive premise of the interview was the impression that rent gouging was a rampant and widespread issue. We were taken aback by these allegations and reached out to our landlord members to determine if any of them had implemented of that magnitude. To the contrary, we learned that none of our members reported any rent increase, let alone a 20 – 40 percent increase.

The claim that widespread rent hikes are now happening makes no sense.

No landlord wants to lose a regularly paying tenant now even if they have to make some adjustments and take some losses. There is no guarantee you can fill the vacancy and you certainly won’t be able to do so until this crisis ends.

If anything, rents may fall as demand declines due to mass unemployment. So much for recouping losses by jacking up rents, which is just not how rental markets work. Landlords can only charge what the market will pay.

If a landlord tries to raise rents now, tenants can just not pay due to the moratorium. Such a mean and stupid landlord may well be out even more rent as well as all of the time and expense of evicting someone once that is again legal. The landlord then also loses yet more rent due to the time it takes to fix the place up again, if needed, and to find a new tenant.

Jawando’s specific claim that landlords will raise rents in order to evict non-paying tenants makes even less sense as that will not allow a landlord to evict their tenant any more quickly. If anything, the tenant will appear even more sympathetic to landlord-tenant court judges who will be very disinclined to evict anyone during the immediate aftermath of this crisis anyway. Remember that evictions are a lengthy legal process.

In short, if it doesn’t make any sense even from an amoral greed perspective, is this really happening on a widespread basis? It might be better to explore specific situations and address any bad actors on an individual basis. I wouldn’t think landlords would want to be publicly exposed as raising rents right now.

In an email response to my request for specific information, Jawando stated that his bill “supports” landlords and tenants alike:

Some landlords have thankfully already decided not to impose the burden of a rent increase on their tenants during this time . . . The intention of Bill 18-20 supports the action of these landlords while protecting other tenants whose landlords have not made a similar decision.

The idea that his bill “supports” the vast majority of landlords who have not increased rent is bizarre in light of the response of the chambers of commerce pushing back on this bill as a broad smear of how landlords have responded to the crisis.

Despite repeated requests, Jawando has not produced an iota of concrete evidence that this has occurred let alone a widespread problem that requires fast-track legislation:

Some of the tenants who have contacted our office are nervous about coming forward to the media as you might imagine, however when I introduced the bill, I did share several cases with increases ranging from 9% – 60%.  

Except big claims and major legislation require hard evidence that should be made public. At the very least, Jawando could have by now produced redacted letters if such notices of rent increases are being distributed widely in some buildings. Regardless, any documents he has are public as he received them in his capacity as a councilmember.

Jawando’s bill has already been through several iterations, first excluding then including then excluding again commercial properties from the bill. These changes further suggest that the facts regarding the problem it is intended to solve are not known. At the very least, they aren’t being made public. Right now, all we have are unsupported anecdotes from the bill sponsor.

If this is a widespread problem, Jawando’s bill may be an appropriate response. If not, the Council should move along to address may of the other pressing problems that the county will face during and after this crisis.

The Council’s unanimous effort to fund the production of cloth masks to make sure all county residents have access to them is a much better example of good use of their time. My applause to all councilmembers for supporting this effort. More please.

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