Placeholders Have No Place in the MCPS Capital Budget

By Laura Stewart.

Have you ever heard of the term “placeholder” in the county budget? I never had, until as a PTA President, I started to advocate for an elementary school that had 9 portables. The terminology surrounding placeholders was confusing.  At first it sounded like a planning tool that might be helpful.  But as I have looked at the scenarios in front of us in this budget cycle, I believe that real solutions need to take place instead of placeholders.  I will explain by using two real life scenarios below, followed by a review of the consequences of the current County Council’s SSP (Subdivision Staging Policy.)

Scenario 1:

An elementary school has just received an addition due to housing turnover, new development, and a boundary change that was intended to address split articulation patterns and crowding at other schools.  After the addition was completed, the school immediately became over-crowded again and now has four portables. More development is underway in the area, and it will cause even more crowding at the school.

Due to county policy, future development goes into moratorium when a school is forecast to be over 120% capacity at year 5 in the budget, unless there is a “solution.” That solution can be a “placeholder,” money put in the budget that covers the extra seats a development will create, based on the County’s “student generation rates.”  This money is not tied to a specific plan. It is only there to prevent the area from going into moratorium. The school system promises to develop an actual project in time for the seats to materialize in the next 5 years.  This school gets assigned a “placeholder” by the Council since a capacity project is not included in the Board of Education’s recommended FY19 budget.

Scenario 2:

A school has been over 120% capacity since 2011 and is at 151% today.  A plan to address the overcapacity is not included in the Board of Education (BOE) Recommended FY 19-24 budget.  Since there are no pending development projects in this part of the county, no “solution project” is proposed by the County Council, and the area officially goes into a housing moratorium.

Scenario 1 is in Bethesda, scenario 2 is in East Silver Spring.  Neither community is happy with place holders!

I will first explain why the areas with development aren’t happy.  The scenario 1 school, Bethesda ES, is in an area where housing development continues.  In fact, there are an additional 11 buildings submitting applications in the area under a recently approved master plan. Somerset Elementary School is in a similar situation and the Council has proposed a placeholder for that school as well. There is no actual plan for another addition at the Bethesda school (which may not even be possible, given the small site size,) or a plan for a new elementary school nearby. New schools, even at properties MCPS already owns, are much more expensive than additions. Additions also can cost more than the placeholder price tag that is included in the budget. Placeholders are supposed to guarantee seats in 5 years, but the past has shown that projects almost never get done in that time period.  Of the last five placeholders that had a due date before 2018, only one project finished by the due date. Another 4 placeholders added in FY15 were postponed the following year. Continuing development with a placeholder causes schools to go way over capacity, often much more than the initial 120% threshold, by the time there is a real solution.

Now let’s look at Scenario two.  East Silver Spring does not have pending development. The school that is the most overcrowded in the area is Burnt Mills ES, at 151% and over 200 children are in portables. In fact, this school has been over the 120% threshold since 2011, when the feasibility study was done. No project for this school is in the FY2019-2024 CIP. They will be considered in the new renovation and expansion program in a future CIP, but there are limited funds and there are many schools that will be considered. There are no guarantees for this school. So this area is now officially in moratorium, and has been for a while.  Relief at Burnt Mills seems elusive without any project on the books. Parents feel like they do not get the attention that other areas with lots of development get.  They are not wrong. Even though placeholders aren’t solutions, at least the conversation about a possible solution takes place at the County Council.

Seven areas are in housing moratorium in Montgomery County, but only three had placeholders proposed to be added in this budget cycle, two in Bethesda and one in Gaithersburg. I’ve spoken to parents in Bethesda that would rather have a building moratorium take place so the County could take time to come up with a real planned solution. The Gaithersburg school, Judith A. Resnik ES, had an addition project scheduled with a completion date. The enrollment there is trending down slightly, but is still projected to be at 122% capacity within 5 years.  To avoid a moratorium, the County removed an actual project (the scheduled addition), and added a placeholder.

Real money is taken out of the MCPS budget for placeholders, instead of actually using those funds for planned projects. In fact, several projects that were proposed in the BOE Recommended FY19 Budget are slated to be delayed due to lack of funds, including Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School. It is considered a “sick” building by many teachers and parents. Mold and other issues come up regularly. They were elated to have a project that had a completion date of September 2021, only to be deeply disappointed when they were included in the delay list. Placeholder money – used to avoid putting development in moratorium- could be allocated NOW to schools with greater needs than the areas with pending development. Placeholders compete for scarce funds in the CIP.

There is another unintended consequence of giving placeholder money to areas of higher growth. These areas tend to be more affluent. So the optics continues to perpetuate the perceived and the real divide between East County and West County. For instance, there are huge disparities in wealth in our two scenarios. Bethesda ES has a 7.3% Free and Reduced Meals Rate (FARMS.) Burnt Mills ES has 67.1% FARMS.  The affluent area gets the attention of councilmembers and solution/placeholder projects – that may or may not actually come to fruition – while poorer areas are left out. This policy also divides the County North and South too, because rural areas do not have the growth that down county areas receive.

I am in no way blaming Councilmembers or insinuating that they mean to ignore certain areas of the County. I know that many fight for scarce resources, and fight to bring economic growth in underperforming areas of the County. I am blaming the processes and policies that perpetuate inequalities and perception of inequalities in our school system. I propose changing the system.  We can come together as a community and find a better way forward. Let’s get developers, Council Members, the Board of Education, the MCPS Division of Long Range Planning, and the Planning Department together and come up with REAL solutions so we can finally build real classrooms for kids, no matter in which zip code they live.

Laura Stewart is the CIP Chair for the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.

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Navarro Blasts Krasnow, Blair and Frick Over Racial Equity

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Council Member Nancy Navarro is blasting County Executive candidates Rose Krasnow, David Blair and Bill Frick over their comments on her racial equity resolution.  The council resolution would have the county measure racial equity impacts of budget items and legislation.  Its action language states:

The Council is committed to examining the data needed to develop an equity policy framework that would require the County to question how budget and policy decisions impact equity.

This effort must be a partnership between the County Council, County Executive, County Government, county agencies, institutions, and our community. The County Government
must challenge itself to bring new and different partners to the table. Partnering with other jurisdictions as members of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) will also enhance the County’s effort and commitment to fostering equity.

Equity analyses should be part of capital and operating budget reviews, appropriation requests, and legislation. Program and process oversight should be undertaken viewing programs and processes through an equity lens. Equity targets and measures of progress must be put in place.

The Council will provide additional FY19 Operating Budget resources for the Office of Legislative Oversight to develop a baseline report describing current disparities in education, employment, housing, health, employment, land use, and other measures of opportunity by May 31, 2019. Following the transmittal of the baseline report, the Council will introduce legislation for the County to develop an equity policy framework to inform the delivery of all County services.

The entire council, including the three members running for Executive (Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal), has co-sponsored the resolution.  But fellow Executive candidates Rose Krasnow, David Blair and Bill Frick criticized it in the Washington Post:

Democrat Rose Krasnow, the county’s deputy planning director and a former mayor of Rockville, said she worried the measure would lead to “paralysis by analysis.” She also questioned the timing of the resolution: “It seems like such a political statement in an election year.”

Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery) said growing “private-sector jobs” and wages is the best way to eliminate disparities. Businessman David Blair applauded the vote but the Democrat wrote in an email that “we shouldn’t confuse activity with progress. . . . Where’s the progress been the past 12 years?”

That drew Navarro’s wrath.  She denounced the three candidates on Facebook, writing:

I am deeply disappointed by the comments made in this article, by County Executive candidates, Rose Krasnow, David Blair, and Bill Frick regarding my efforts to establish an “Equity Policy” for County Government… These candidates have chosen to dismiss an effort that will directly support our immigrant communities, communities of color, seniors, people with disabilities, and other underserved groups for their own campaign posturing. As far as I’m concerned, I would prefer that our next Executive be someone who is constantly examining how decisions impact all County residents. I hope that the voters will take this into consideration on June 26th!

We see Navarro’s point.  Montgomery County, like the rest of the United States, is rife with inequities of all kinds.  Navarro’s resolution does not prescribe specific remedies; it only initiates the process of measuring inequities so that they can be considered in public policy decisions.  It’s hard to understand how any progressive candidates for office could oppose that.  Perhaps Krasnow, Frick and Blair would like to comment further before their existing remarks are set in stone.

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Gov Candidates Mix It Up on Amazon

I live tweeted @theseventhstate last night’s excellent Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club Forum held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Candidates for the gubernatorial nomination agreed on many issues. One where they clashed was the merit of state incentives to woo Amazon.

Candidates Opposed to Amazon Incentives

Businessman Jim Shea called Amazon incentives “a really bad idea” and attacked giving $8.5 billion to the richest man in the world along with recruiting business from other state more generally. Moderator Robert McCartney interjected to laughter, “Careful, he’s my boss.”

Krish Vignarajah was also vehemently against the incentives, and attacked Gov. Larry Hogan for moving on this while letting Baltimore kids freeze during the winter, a comparison she also made at the Takoma Park debate. “This is the insanity of our governor.” As in many answers, Vignarajah combined passion on the issue with a sharp argument.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous also opposed Amazon incentives. Consistent with his approach on other issues, he staked out the most left-wing position. Jealous not only agreed with other candidates on the need for diversity provisions, he also wants to see labor agreements.

My take: One follow-up question left unasked of Shea, Vignarajah and Jealous is how one could require diversity, labor or other requirements without incentives. Alternatively, is the implicit choice just to let Amazon go elsewhere? If that is the case, would future Amazon employees be better off located in a place without these protections?

Candidates Supportive of Amazon Incentives

Pointing out that Discovery was about to leave two blocks away, Rich Madaleno called Amazon a “game changing investment.” At two-thirds the size of the state government, it would help diversify our economy away from dependence on the federal government. He explained that Amazon only gets $5.5 billion if they spend $140 billion in salaries in our area. Madaleno is proud the General Assembly passed legislation to make sure companies are held accountable on promised diversity and benefits.

County Executive Rushern Baker was candid that Prince George’s had tried to recruit Amazon, explaining that the idea was to build local businesses around it and gain revenue. At the same time, he criticized the Governor for ignoring building business except the FBI and Amazon. This point foreshadowed Alec Ross’ later contention that Larry Hogan would completely ignore the DC suburbs if reelected.

Alec Ross took a somewhat nuanced position. He said that he would’ve negotiated a different deal but hopes Amazon comes here. He cited his running mate’s business, well-regarded Denizens Brewery located nearby in Silver Spring, as an example of a great small business. Ross said we make it too hard for small business in Maryland, and need to think more about how to make Maryland the place businesses grow and prosper. His campaign tweeted an op-ed that Ross wrote on the topic that nicely gives a chance hear these ideas fleshed out.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he did not submit a bid for Baltimore County because he thought Baltimore City was the best location. Arguing that we need a nominee with a track record of experience, he wants to focus on job skill training to attract businesses and get people jobs.

My take: This is one issue that split the electeds who have had to directly grapple with this issue from first-time candidates (with Ross as somewhat of an exception). Montgomery’s economy sure could use a jump start and Amazon is an unusually big opportunity, so I tend to agree with trying to recruit Amazon. Though not perfect, Maryland’s process was also unusually transparent compared to other jurisdictions and got buy-in from the legislature.

Nevertheless, I understand why opponents don’t like it. Wooing business with money is often a mistake. In particular, football stadiums are a real money loser. I support Del. David Moon’s fine bill to prevent Maryland, Virginia and the District from competing this way.

Note: As I have mentioned repeatedly, I’m a supporter of Rich Madaleno. While it seemed worth mentioning here, I do my best to call them as I see them, and give an honest portrayal of the positions of all candidates here.

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Are Republicans Trying to Help Aruna Miller?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Much has been said about the Maryland Republican Party sending out racist mailers targeting Congressional District 6 candidate Aruna Miller.  The standard interpretation of this seems to be that the GOP sees Miller as a strong candidate and is trying to keep her out of the general election.  Indeed, the Washington Post editorial board made that argument.  But what if the Republicans are actually trying to help Miller instead?

The classic example of intervention in an opposing party’s primary is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s promotion of conservative GOP Representative and eventual opponent Todd Akin.  McCaskill spent $1.7 million on ads accusing Akin of being “too conservative” during his GOP primary, helping boost him past the rest of the field.  And that’s not all – when Akin pulled a successful TV ad in favor of one that flopped, McCaskill schemed to have her pollster contact Akin’s campaign to persuade him to re-run the high-performing ad.  Once Akin won his primary, McCaskill exploited his weaknesses to finish him off and get reelected.

Two “anti-Akin” ads by McCaskill and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Why do we bring this up?  Some of the people who received the GOP mailers were female Democrats, including Miller herself.  A few took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about it.  And if they didn’t get them directly, they may have read about them in publications like the Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine and India West.  How do you think they are going to react when they see a female Democratic candidate getting bashed in racist mail sent by Republicans?  They are going to rally to Miller, of course, and that’s what happened on social media.  Maybe that’s the point.

Miller uses GOP racism to motivate her supporters.

Aruna Miller is doing really well in this campaign.  She is raising lots of money, doing well at forums, attracting great endorsements from the Sierra Club and the teachers and is the most prominent woman running in a primary electorate that is roughly 60% female.  But look at this race from the standpoint of the GOP.  They know David Trone won an absolute majority of the vote in rural Frederick and Carroll Counties in the CD8 primary – the kind of areas that Republicans need to dominate in the sixth district.  They know Trone could spend $10 million in a general election, something no other Democrat can do, and that would free up national Democratic money to go to other Congressional districts around the country.  Most of all, Trone looks more like incumbent Congressman John Delaney than any other candidate – a center-left businessman who says he has created thousands of jobs.  The GOP knows that kind of candidate can win in this district.  Why would they want another one like Delaney?  And if they don’t, why not help a rival win?

Maybe we’re reading too much into this but we don’t think the GOP is stupid.  This kind of tactic can work.  Just ask Claire McCaskill!

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TONIGHT: Live Tweeting Gubernatorial Forum

Tonight, I’m planning to live tweet the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club gubernatorial forum. It starts at 7PM and will feature all seven of the Democratic candidates.  Below is the information on the forum. It’s at the Silver Spring Civic Center in case you want to attend in person.

My twitter handle is @theseventhstate.

From the Women’s Democratic Club:

Woman’s Democratic Club to Host Public Forum for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates

The Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC) is hosting a Forum in Silver Spring on April 24 for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates in the June 26 primary. Contenders Rushern Baker, Ben Jealous, Kevin Kamenetz, Rich Madaleno, Alec Ross, Jim Shea, and Krish Vignarajah have agreed to participate. Washington Post reporter Ovetta Wiggins, who covers Maryland state politics, will serve as moderator. This timely public educational event represents an excellent opportunity to hear these aspiring governors discuss how and why they think they can defeat Gov. Larry Hogan in the November general election. They will also respond to questions about their priorities and highlight their differences through the lens of policy issues important to women and families.

This forum will begin at 7:00 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD. This is a free event but attendees should register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/2tSXpAl.

For more information and to see a complete listing of promotion partners, visit the above link.  Attendees may, when they register, name one important issue they would like to hear the candidates address at the forum; responses will be submitted to event organizers.

The WDC, which has more than 600 members, was established after the 1956 Presidential Election. This event continues the Club’s long-standing tradition of supporting Democratic candidates and keeping voters informed.

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Correction on Earlier Ben Jealous Post

4/26 UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE: Some of the information in the original version of the previous post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table as well as the text, so you can see the difference.

The source of the error is that Ben Jealous did not miss the 2012 and 2014 elections in DC, as he was registered in Maryland, though the DC database records him as not having voted because he had not yet been purged because of the change of address. I discovered the error myself after rereading the post.

My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Several key facts, however, remain unchanged. Ben Jealous did not register as a Democrat prior to his move to Maryland. He did not vote in a high share of elections, including the previous gubernatorial primary and the historic 2008 presidential election.

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Ben Jealous’ Surprising Voter History

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (4/26): Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE (4/24): Some of the information in the original version of this post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table above as well as the text below, so you can see the difference. (The source of the error is that I counted the elections before he was purged in DC as having been missed, when Jealous had registered in Maryland.) My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Yesterday, I looked at the voting records of all Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Ben Jealous has been registered to vote in Maryland only since 2012 and I speculated that either he had been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Turns out that Jealous was registered in DC from 2000 through 2010 (he wasn’t purged from the DC rolls until after the 2014 elections) – far longer than he has been registered in Maryland.

Recent Democrat

Jealous became a Democrat only recently. He was registered in DC as an unaffiliated voter:

This choice stands out because, as in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, the closed Democratic primary is the key election in most cases. His decision to register as an independent means that, for example, he could not vote in the 2008 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Jealous also did not have the opportunity to weigh in on heated contests for mayor and other local offices.

Lackadaisical Voter

For someone who is asking people to vote for him, Jealous missed a lot of elections. When he was registered in DC, Jealous skipped 6 of 14 elections in which he was eligible to vote. (Primaries in which the DC Board of Elections and Ethics says he was ineligible are excluded. There must have been nonpartisan offices or questions on the primary elections listed here.)

As reported yesterday, he also missed two of the six elections while registered in Maryland, so he has voted in 12 of 20 elections since 2000.

Missed Historic Votes

Among the 43% 56% of DC elections that Jealous skipped were some important contests. He didn’t vote in the historic election of Barack Obama as our first African-American president, probably unusual in a former NAACP President! He also did not vote in 2012, when he was reelected even more handily. (Folks, this is incorrect, he voted in that election in Maryland).

Jealous also missed out on the vote on to legalize marijuana in 2014.

At the local level, the 2013 special election to fill a Council vacancy, the DC equivalent of our state legislature, was an exciting contest and far from a foregone conclusion. (Also wrong, he voted in Maryland that year, as my chart from yesterday shows.)

Finally, as mentioned yesterday, he has never voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary. The first Democratic primary vote he casts for governor will be for himself.

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We Get Phone Calls

By Adam Pagnucco.

Sometimes your author gets phone calls like this.

*****

Politician X:  Hey Pagnucco!  How’s the kid?  How’s business?

Me:  Well, I –

Politician X:  Great to hear it.  I got something you need to write about RIGHT NOW.

Politician X then tells a story about Politician Y.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 equal to felonious behavior and/or rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and 1 equal to peeing in the shower, this is a 2.5.  Nothing illegal here, but there might be some questionable judgment IF it’s true.  As background, Y is not running against X, but Y has endorsed one of X’s opponents.  X also heard a rumor years ago that Y told someone X is a conniving politician.

Me:  OK.  Do you have any proof that Y did that?

Politician X:  No.  But you know it’s gotta be true!  Remember when Y did that other thing?

X retells another story about Y from a while back that was never verified.  That one might have been a 3.5 IF it ever happened.

Me:  Are there any documents?  Any links?  (The allegation does not involve anything easily verified like a vote on legislation, a campaign contribution or a screenshot.)

Politician X:  I don’t know.  Maybe you can find something.  Ask Politician Y.  Maybe he’ll be stupid enough to admit it!

Me:  Um, OK… Lemme think about whether this is provable, and if so, how.  In the meantime, if you believe it’s true and you can back it up, say it on Facebook.  Then maybe it will be covered.  At least it will be discussed, and if there’s anything there, it might come out.

Politician X:  I can’t do that!  I’m running for office.  If I say that, Y’s supporters will come after me.  That’s why we have blogs.  You guys will say anything!

Me: … … …

Politician X:  I’ll check back later to see how that story is coming along.

*****

Look folks.  We like investigating allegations, but there has to be something to them.  If you’re going to tell us something, be ready to 1. supply evidence or 2. go on the record.  We’re not gonna print unfounded speculation on your behalf just so you can get someone else to say something YOU want to say but won’t.  We’re not the New York Times, but there are such things as libel laws.  If you want to libel someone, do it yourself!

If you are thinking of making a call like the one made by Politician X above, don’t bother.  And Politician X, if you are reading this – and we know you will! – the next time you make a call like this we are gonna print your name.  Believe that!

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Joy Nurmi: Meitiv Flunks Science Test

By Joy Nurmi.

Danielle Meitiv frequently reminds us that she is a scientist. Then one should wonder why, when she accuses our County Executive of failing to endorse women candidates, she fails at one of science’s most basic tenets – sample size and probability of drawing a false‐positive conclusion when the sample is too small.

According to one of the country’s top science organizations – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – sample size is important. In the NIH publication, “How sample size influences research outcomes,” NIH says: using a sample smaller than the ideal increases the chance of assuming as true a false premise.

So when Ms. Meitiv draws the conclusion that our County Executive is not interested in gender balance because of his endorsements in the Council at-large race, one might ask about how Mr. Leggett’s track record stacks up in a larger sample size. For example, when one looks at all the candidates he has endorsed in the current election, one sees that it includes four women: Aruna Miller, Lily Qi, Charlotte Crutchfield and Rebecca Smondrowski. Interestingly enough, that equals 50% of his total endorsements. And with his endorsement of Aruna Miller, he was out up front and early when many were hanging back.

Look carefully at Mr. Leggett’s endorsements. They are not only gender balanced, but they are rich in diversity as well. It is important to note that this County has never elected any Latino or Asian for an at-large seat. And, Mr. Leggett is the only African American ever elected to an at-large office.

Where has Ms. Meitiv been in furthering this goal of diversity, correcting these deficiencies? She criticizes Mr. Leggett only because it benefits her as a candidate. It gets her publicity.

Look also at the top tier of management in County government appointed by Mr. Leggett. Twenty-two of the 44 top managers/directors are women. Again, 50%.

He has been highly successful in advocating for gender balance and diversity on a number of fronts. He has advocated with our governors for a more diverse judiciary, including recommending many women for judgeships, who have since been appointed. He has endorsed many women for elected office in the past. The examples are too numerous to list. In fact, you will not find any leader anywhere who has such a track record of fostering diversity and gender balance in so many facets of public life to equal Mr. Leggett’s.

It is truly unfortunate that Ms. Meitiv lashed out without facts, and as a result, failed this science test.

Joy Nurmi is a Special Assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett and a former Chief of Staff at the County Council.

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Who Voted – and who Didn’t – in Maryland?

The participation of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland elections varies widely. The table at the top of the post reveals not just whether but also how each voted since 1994, a period that includes 12 primary and general elections apiece with the number also evenly split between presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno

The three officials who currently hold elective office – Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno – have voted in every one of the 24 elections.

Krish Vignarajah

Despite registering to vote in Maryland in 2006, Krish Vignarajah has voted just once in Maryland. In 2016, she voted in the general after skipping the primary. She registered to vote in D.C. in 2010 and participated in four elections there from 2010 through 2014.

In order to remain eligible to run for governor, Vignarajah claims incredibly that she remained a legally registered voter in Maryland. Even as she cast ballots elsewhere and claimed a D.C. address on her voter registration application, she was never purged from the rolls in Maryland.

This presents a series of real problems for Vignarajah. To put it bluntly, if she really lived in Maryland all the time and her D.C. apartment was just a “crash pad” as she now says, why did she fraudulently claim that she lived in D.C. on her 2010 voter application? Alternatively, if she was honest on her application, how can she claim that she has always maintained her Maryland residency?

Additionally, if she was always a Maryland resident, why didn’t she just vote here? She says voting in D.C. was just a matter of convenience because she was so busy at her job working for Michelle Obama. But many other busy people manage to apply for absentee ballots and they’re not all Marshall Scholars who made law review at Yale. Why couldn’t she do the same? It doesn’t exactly exude commitment to the State.

Moreover, how can one be legally registered to vote in two places at the same time? Just because she wasn’t purged from the rolls, as she should have been after she registered in D.C., doesn’t mean that she remained someone who could legally cast a ballot here.

I’ve had personal experience with this issue. When I moved back to Maryland twenty years ago after four years teaching in South Carolina, I discovered I was still on the rolls. I had registered and voted in South Carolina but, until I moved back to Maryland, I didn’t have illusions that I could vote here or was still a resident despite frequent visits.

Vignarajah could advance her residency claim if she would release her tax returns. She already refused to answer where she filed when Tom Sherwood asked on WAMU. As he pointed out, that really answers it anyway. One imagines that Vignarajah would have said that she had filed in Maryland if she had done so.

We’ll get a chance to know for sure when Vignarajah releases her tax returns. Her campaign told the Baltimore Sun that she’d release her returns “if others do.” Jealous, Ross, Shea have said they will, and Madaleno has already done so,. Hopefully, we will know soon if she filed in the District or Maryland or both, assuming that this is not a Trump promise, which is an oxymoron.

Ben Jealous

Unlike Vignarah, Ben Jealous is unquestionably eligible to run. However, he has only voted four times in Maryland since 1994, which surprised me as his online bio certainly gives the appearance that he spent most of his life in Maryland.

His voter participation record suggests otherwise. Jealous first registered to vote in Maryland in 2012. Though he has participated in all general elections, he skipped both the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries. When Jealous casts his ballot in 2018, presumably for himself, it will be the first time that he has ever voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary – something he has in common with Vignarajah!

Either Jealous has been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Jim Shea and Alec Ross

Jim Shea voted in all general elections but missed 5 of the 12 primaries, with four of the five that he missed occurring in presidential election years. None of these four primaries had a hotly contested presidential or senatorial primary.

Alec Ross did not vote in 7 of the 24 elections. Ross took a pass on his first opportunity to vote in 1994, but he would have just moved to Baltimore in the summer before the primary. However, he also missed both the primary and general in his second statewide elections. More recently, Ross skipped the 2010 and 2012 primaries.

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Maryland Politics Watch

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