Tag Archives: race

What Happened to MoCo’s Racial Equity Law?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Over the weekend, Council Member Will Jawando announced his intention to introduce a resolution “declaring racism a public health emergency in Montgomery County.” His statement on Facebook appears below.

Of course, the county already has a law designed to deal with racial disparities of all kinds: the Racial Equity Law.

What happened to it?

Work on the law began in April 2018, when the county council passed a resolution lead-sponsored by Nancy Navarro and Marc Elrich calling for “an equity policy framework in county government.” The resolution stated:

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 resolution was followed by three different reports by the Office of Legislative Oversight: Racial Equity in Government Decision-Making: Lessons from the Field, Racial Equity Profile Montgomery County and Findings from 2019 Racial Equity and Social Justice Community Conversations. Navarro and Elrich held meetings in Silver Spring, Germantown, White Oak and Gaithersburg to discuss the issue that were reportedly attended by 750 people. Legislation to create an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice and a Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee was introduced in September 2019, passed unanimously by the council in November and signed into law on December 2. The legislation was scheduled to take effect on March 2, 2020.

So what are the major provisions of the law and how is the county doing on implementing them? Let’s discuss a few.

1. The executive must appoint, and the council must confirm, a 15-member Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee that would develop and distribute information about racial equity, promote educational activities and advise the executive and council on the issue.

Status: The council’s cumulative agenda for the year does not record any nominations sent over by the executive for this committee.

2. The executive must adopt a “racial equity and social justice action plan” by Method 2 regulation that would provide for community engagement and a host of requirements and metrics for every department in county government. Under Sec. 2A-15 of the County Code, a Method 2 regulation must be sent to the council for approval or disapproval.

Status: Four different sources inside the council building reported not seeing this regulation yet. The council’s cumulative agenda has no record of it.

3. The executive must “explain how each management initiative or program that would be funded in the Executive’s annual recommended operating and capital budgets promotes racial equity and social justice.” This is a time-consuming requirement as the executive’s operating and capital budgets contain hundreds of items each.

Status: The executive’s FY21 recommended operating budget, which was released after the racial equity law took effect, contains none of this language.

4. The law requires that “racial equity and social justice impact statements” must be drafted to accompany each bill introduced at the county council. The statements are due no less than 21 days after a bill’s introduction and no less than 7 days before the bill’s hearing, although the council president may change the deadlines.

Status: As of this writing, 13 bills were introduced after the racial equity law took effect on March 2. Six of the bills were passed. None of their action packets contained racial equity and social justice impact statements. The bill specifies that the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO), which is part of the legislative branch, is responsible for drafting the impact statements. To be fair, the part of the bill referring to the impact statements takes effect on August 1, 2020 – five months after the rest of the bill – and $119,170 was added to OLO’s budget to pay for a “Racial Equity Legislative Analyst Position.”

5. The bill creates an “Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice” to perform “equity assessments” on county policies, provide racial equity and social justice training to county employees, develop short and long term goals with metrics to redress disparities, work with departments to create the county’s “racial and social justice action plan” and staff the racial equity advisory committee.

Status: Days before the law took effect, the council confirmed one of Elrich’s former council staffers as the new “Chief Equity Officer” at a salary of $150,000. The office had a budget of $584,072 in the executive’s recommended budget and includes two full-time positions plus money for operating expenses. Despite the Chief Equity Officer being on the job for three months, the racial equity office does not appear on the county’s list of departments and offices as shown below.

There are a host of other requirements in the law, such as one mandating that every department designate a “racial equity and social justice lead” to work with the racial equity office. Has that been done?

Because of its sweeping nature, the racial equity law goes beyond the bare bones of its structure in the legislation. For example, it mandates that “equity assessments” must be performed “to identify County policies and practices that must be modified to redress disparate outcomes based on race or social justice.”

One program for which that might have been helpful was the county’s grant program to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. When the county’s grant program went live on April 15 at around 3 PM, the first wave of applicants found out mainly through emails from chambers of commerce or direct notifications from council members. The county’s official blast emails announcing the grants started going out around 4:30 PM and continued into the evening. That means that the best-connected, best-informed businesses got first dibs on the grants. Did that have an impact on the demographic distribution of the grant recipients? We will never know because the grant application did not ask for the applicant’s race. Think about this: in the aftermath of the racial equity law’s passage, the county launched its biggest business assistance program ever – $25 million for more than 6,700 businesses – and the county has no apparent way to measure how much of this money went to minority business owners.

And so at this writing, the only tangible outcome from MoCo’s much-publicized racial equity law is the budgeting of roughly $700,000 in tax dollars and the creation of three full-time positions. If anything else has been accomplished after the law’s passage, there is no evidence of it.

MoCo officials have talked a lot about racial equity over the last two years. The reality is that they have a ton of work to do.


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.


Delauter Says Civil War Was About “True Freedom,” Not Race

By Adam Pagnucco.

Frederick County Council Member Kirby Delauter once threatened to sue the Frederick News-Post for using his name without permission.  That statement wound up spreading all over the country, making Delauter by far the most well-known politician in Frederick.  But now, Delauter has accomplished an almost impossible feat by topping that quote.  On Facebook, he has declared that the Civil War and current social disruptions were not about race, but “about true freedom.”

In a Facebook post yesterday, Delauter wrote, “Growing up I never really understood how Americans could fight each other in a civil war…….. I’m starting to understand how that happened…….and how close we are to repeating history.”  Many people might agree with that statement.  But then he followed up with, “And it wasn’t about race then and it’s not about race now. It’s always been about true freedom.”

Actually, the Civil War was all about race since the primary reason the Southern states seceded was to protect slavery.  This is a proven fact given what the Confederate states themselves said in their declarations of secession.  States’ rights, the argument for the war which was subsequently made up in an attempt to whitewash history decades later, does not appear in the declarations but slavery is mentioned over and over.  Georgia and South Carolina specifically criticized the federal government for not forcing Northern states to send back escaped slaves and punish those who aided them.  This is an argument AGAINST states’ rights and certainly against “true freedom.”  Here’s a sample from the declarations.


In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.


Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.


The faithless conduct of our adversaries is not confined to such acts as might aggrandize themselves or their section of the Union. They are content if they can only injure us. The Constitution declares that persons charged with crimes in one State and fleeing to another shall be delivered up on the demand of the executive authority of the State from which they may flee, to be tried in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. It would appear difficult to employ language freer from ambiguity, yet for above twenty years the non-slave-holding States generally have wholly refused to deliver up to us persons charged with crimes affecting slave property. Our confederates, with punic faith, shield and give sanctuary to all criminals who seek to deprive us of this property or who use it to destroy us. This clause of the Constitution has no other sanction than their good faith; that is withheld from us; we are remediless in the Union; out of it we are remitted to the laws of nations.

South Carolina

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

As for what is happening now, it’s all about race.  Anyone who doubts that should watch this video made by a reporter who embedded herself with the racists and anti-Semites who marched in Charlottesville.  Listen to what they say and what their intentions are.  They leave little doubt about their agenda.

It’s hard to commit a bigger gaffe than Delauter’s threat to sue a newspaper for “unauthorized” use of his name.  But Delauter has accomplished the impossible by claiming that the Civil War and current social disruptions are about “true freedom” and not race.  Delauter is currently running for County Executive.  Frederick County voters will have several choices for that office in both parties who are vastly superior to Delauter.  Hopefully they will end his political career once and for all.


Early Voting Turnout Heavy Among Older and African-American Voters

Yesterday, I looked at the partisanship of early voters. Today, I take a peek of the age and racial demographics of early voters based on data graciously provided by a reader.

The estimates of the racial composition of the electorate are based on estimates of the race of voters with the caveat of the potential for errors. Not everyone named Morales is Latino just as not everyone called Goldberg is Jewish. Nonetheless, the information provide a useful first cut at who is participating in early voting.

Let’s start with the percentage of the electorate in each age group broken down by party:

partybyageEarly voters skew heavily towards older voters, especially among Republicans. At 74.4%, nearly three-quarters of GOP voters are over age 50. The Democratic share older than 50 is around 5% lower at 69.3%. Among all early voters, which includes unaffiliated and third-party registrants, the share is 68.9%, slightly lower than for Democrats. The low figure reflects much less skew towards older voters among non-major party voters.

In contrast, people 35 and under make up a low share of early voters–11.7% among all voters and just 11.4% among Democrats and 9.5% among Republicans. The latter figure reflects the heavy skew away from Republicans among millennials.

The next table shows the racial composition of each county’s electorate. Percentages add up to less than 100% because the race or ethnicity of many voters is unknown and cannot be reasonably gauged to any extent by proxies. As a result, the percentages presented here are invariably low end estimates.

countybyraceAmong early voters, African Americans are high participants (31%), exceeding their share of the voting-age population. Unsurprisingly, black participants overwhelmingly outnumber other groups in Prince George’s and Baltimore City. In Charles, African-American early voters barely edge out whites–a sign of the continuing evolution of racial demographics in that county.

The encouraging rates of black participation help explain why Democrats are consistently outperforming Republicans in early voting. Not only does Maryland have vastly more Democrats, they are voting at a higher rate than Republicans.

In contrast, Latinos (3%) and Asians (3%) appear to be casting early votes at low rates, reflecting lower rates of citizenship and turnout. Asians compose the highest share of early voters in Montgomery (7%) and Howard (6%). Latinos comprise 6% of early voters in Montgomery, and 3% in Anne Arundel, Frederick and Howard.

In Maryland as a whole, approximately 57% of early voters are white. Again, as the percentages are calculated out of total voters and many could not be placed in any category, the estimates for all racial groups are low.