A Beattyocracy: Rushing through corporate welfare like its nobody’s business UPDATED

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Developer Michael Beatty, who manages Harbor Point Development Holdings, LLC (Harbor Point) and also works for Harbor East. The bill which recently passed the City Council of Baltimore, gave the “luxury waterfront development,” Harbor Point, over $125 million in taxpayer money, a situation that can only rightly be called corporate welfare. A similar huge bout in taxpayer money to a company run by Beatty’s old partner, John Paterakis, passed the tax committee in 2010 (then it was tax breaks, now it is public financing) and Carl Stokes opposed it. The Baltimore Brew described the flurry in the City Council over its approval,

“the approval followed an unusual maneuver, sanctioned by Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, to suspend Council rules to allow the legislation to come to a vote without the approval of the chairman of the tax committee [Carl Stokes] that handled the bills…[the bill provided] up to $125 million in city bonds to underwrite public improvements at the 28-acre site…[which] includes legal and underwriting costs, plus a reserve fund, to finance the $107 million sought by developer Michael Beatty…about $95 million of the city’s future federal highway allocations will be earmarked for the project…the Beatty group would earn a 10-11% return on the project without city funding. With the TIF subsidy, the developer is projected to earn between 14-15%.”

Back in the committee, the bill according to the Baltimore Business Journal,

“passed so quickly, the dozens of opponents who had packed the council chamber to denounce the bill could only look on in astonishment as committee members rammed the bill through without any debate. Henry tried to offer an amendment that would have slashed the $107 million TIF to $31.3 million, but his attempt failed when his motion failed to draw a second backing.”

Instead of writing a story moaning about this horrible victory for corporate greed, I decided to do a OpenSecrets-like investigation of the money behind who voted for this proposal.

First, Luke Broadwater’s article in the Baltimore Sun on July 29th, 2013 gives some background on the big players (who are bolded):

“Michael S. Beatty’s Harbor Point Development Group LLC, which would build the project to house Exelon’s new regional headquarters, recently registered a lobbyist with the city: Ryan J. Potter, a partner in the law firm Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP. Gallagher Evelius & Jones’ managing partner is the political kingmaker Richard O. Berndt [who supports city “revitalization” and expanded consumerism], whom Rawlings-Blake’s father once called “the political pope of Baltimore.” Former Mayor William Donald Schaefer nicknamed Berndt “the German general” and credited him with the creation of the Inner Harbor. The firm, which also represents Beatty’s former partner John Paterakis Sr. and his Harbor East development, has contributed heavily to Rawlings-Blake. During her mayoral bid, the firm and its lawyers donated about $35,000 to Rawlings-Blake…Exelon Corp., the highest-profile tenant of Harbor Point, also donated $1,000 to Rawlings-Blake. Gallagher Evelius & Jones also has donated to Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Councilman James Kraft, who are strong supporters of the project. Additionally, Beatty — whose 27-arce development would sit between Harbor East and Fells Point — also has hired a public relations firm: Kearney O’Doherty Public Affairs, run by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s former spokesman Steve Kearney and Damian O’Doherty, older brother of Rawlings-Blake’s departing policy and communications director, Ryan O’Doherty.”

There are also other companies that benefit from corporate welfare from Harbor East: Under Armour, Hyatt, Four Seasons, Marriott, Legg Mason, Hilton, and Homewood Suites (see here, here,
& here for evidence of these claims).

As for the vote itself, Baltimore Brew noted: “the vote was lopsided, with 12 of 15 Council members voting “yes.” Stokes and Sharon Green Middleton (6th District) voted against the rules suspension, while Mary Pat Clarke (14th District) abstained.”

To break it down for you, here is who voted “yes” for the Beatty bill (for suspending the rules), who voted “no” on the Beatty bill (against suspending the rules), and who abtained on the Beatty bill:

YES on Beatty Bill
1. Jim Kraft (only person who said why he voted for the bill)
2. Edward Reisinger (City Council Vice-President)
3. Warren Branch
4. William H. Cole IV (Bill sponsor)
5. Bill Henry (opposed bill back in committee by abstaining)
6. Rochelle “Rikki” Spector
7. Jack Young (City Council President)
8. Nick Mosby
9. Robert Curran
10. Brandon M. Scott
11. Helen Holton
12. William “Pete” Welch

NO on Beatty Bill
1. Carl Stokes (stormed out of the committee in protest)
2. Sharon Green Middleton

ABSTAINED on Beatty Bill
1. Mary Pat Clarke

Of the “yes” votes, ten received money* from the companies that benefit from corporate welfare from Harbor East and the big players in the development.**
1. Jim Kraft (only person who said why he voted for the bill)
– $500 from Gallagher Evelius & Jones gave him in 2011
– $1,500 collectively in 2007, 2011, and 2012 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy

2. Edward Reisinger (City Council Vice-President)
– $250 in 2007 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy

3. Warren Branch
– $1,250 collectively in 2009, 2010 & 2011from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy

4. William H. Cole IV (Bill sponsor)
He is, according to his official bio, Director of the Downtown Partnership & Downtown Management Authority along with Visit Baltimore meaning he serves the elites of the city directly.
– $250 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy in 2011
– $1,000 from KO Public Affairs in 2011 – $250 from Gallagher Evelius & Jones, in 2011.

5. Bill Henry
– Gallagher Evelius & Jones gave him
$625 collectively in 2011 and 2013
– $250 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy in 2011
– Marriott gave him $25.00 in 2011

6. Rochelle “Rikki” Spector
– $500 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy in 2011

7. Jack Young (City Council President)
– Gallagher Evelius & Jones gave him
$1250 collectively in 2011 and 2013
– Marriott gave him $250 in 2010

8. Robert “Bob” Curran
– $1,800 collectively in 2007 and 2012
from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy

9. Helen Holton
– $500 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy in 2007

10. William “Pete” Welch
– $300 from Exelon-owned Constellation Energy in 2011

Of the others who didn’t receive money from those business interests connected to Harbor Point:
– Nick Mosby had thousands of dollars pouring into his campaign coffers from the campaigns of Rawlings-Blake, Rikki Spector, O’Malley, Jack Young and other prominent Democrats during his political career.
– Brandon M. Scott received $6,000 from the Rawlings-Blake campaign in 2011! Scott also received $3,000 from Jack Young’s campaign the same year.

Additionally, Warren Branch was given $500 by the Stephanie Rawlings-Blake campaign in 2007 and Jack Young’s campaign gave him $3,000 in 2011, so he owes them both big time. Rikki Spector received a good amount of money from the campaigns of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Helen Holton in the past. Also, Bob Curran who recieved $6,000 from the campaigns of Rawlings-Blake, Cole and Young since 2007! Finally, William “Pete” Welch also received $4,500 from Jack Young and Rawling-Blake’s campaigns in 2011. This could result in a reciprocal political relationship that goes something like this:
“you helped me out, so I’ll help you out by passing this bill.”

These revelations about the politicians on the Baltimore City Council shows that those who voted for the corporate welfare either received legalized bribes (campaign contributions) from the campaigns of prominent Democrats like Jack Young and RawlingsFailings-Blake or from business interests that benefit from Harbor Point. This is troubling because it shows that most of City Council is pushing forward a Beattyocracy that will benefit the privileged few, and leave behind the suffering many in the City itself. The people we should be praising are
Mary Pat Clarke, Carl Stokes, and Sharon Green Middleton who were against the proposal. The biggest praise I give is to Carl Stokes, who spoke truth to power (which is why a consultant for Harbor East is currently plotting to destroy him) and made a powerful statement:
“I feel so strongly we have polarized our city for no good reason at all…[Exelon Corp. needed] not a dime [of city money]…It is not the responsibility of the taxpayers of the city of Baltimore to guarantee a larger profit to the developer…[this is] the worst piece of legislation I’ve ever seen…this committee has been pushed, cajoled and browbeaten to push this legislation faster than the committee should move.”

Now, the bill goes to the mayor. As I have noted in the past, Mayor Stephanie Failings-Blake is not a neutral arbitrator.*** In 2011 and 2012, Gallagher Evelius & Jones gave $5,000 to her campaign. Additionally, in 2011 Exelon also gave her $1,000 and Exelon-owned Constellation Energy gave her $250. The next year, Exelon-owned Constellation Energy had transferrred $2,000 into her PAC. What also should be noted is that Marriott has also given her $1,550 collectively in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Back in June she called the “revitalization” of Harbor Point a project as big as Inner Harbor.
As a result Democrats are not immune from corporate corruption via legalized bribery showing that GOP is not the only big business party.**** Already uber-rich & powerful developer Michael Beatty has given $4,000 to Gregg Bernstein, $3,250 to Governor Martin O’Malley, $1,000 to Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and $500 to Comptroller Peter Franchot. There were even massive contributions in the tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic State Central Maryland Commitee by these same interests:

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The words of one (possible) former occupier come to mind: the city budget helps the rich and hurts the middle class. This reasoning is similar to a conversation a number of twitterers in response to my tweet announcing the passage of the Beatty corporate welfare bill. Let us remember what Luke Broadwater recently wrote in the Baltimore Sun, “the developer of Harbor Point plans to buy the initial offering of city-issued bonds for the $1.8 billion project, accruing millions in interest from the controversial public financing deal…Developer Michael S. Beatty’s Harbor Point Development Group LLC plans to purchase about $35 million of the $107 million in bonds and would earn an estimated 6.5 percent interest rate, enabling him to pay for a construction loan.” This act of class warfare is clearly shows the cronic corruption in the City and the compliance of its government to the rich. As Charles Beard said, no government is neutral. In an email forwarded to me by @MairZDoatz, a knowledgable reader of the post laid out some of the details of this act of class warfare:

Beatty now says he’s going to buy $35 million of the bonds. That’s 33% of the total. That means he is lending Baltimore $35M. Municipal bonds – just like all bonds, including U.S. Savings Bonds – are debt instruments. The issuer is borrowing money for a predetermined period, at a specified rate of interest. The issuer has to make annual interest payments to the bond holder (the lender/investor). Then, at the expiration of the term, the borrower has to repay the principal amount to the lender.

So – Baltimore gets $35M from Beatty. Then Baltimore either spends it on capital improvements for the Harbor Point project, or it gives it to back to Beatty so he can spend it on his project. The term of this bond issue looks to be 12 years, but that’s only from the City Council file, so who knows? Let’s assume the term IS 12 years, and the rate of interest is 5%.

Beatty lends Baltimore $35M for 12 years at 5% per annum. No matter what happens to the $35M, Baltimore has to pay interest to Beatty in the amount of $1,750,000 every year for
12 years. That’s $21,000,000 in interest Baltimore will pay Beatty the lender between now and 2025.

1. (a) Somewhere along the way I think I read that Beatty had said that he was going to cover Baltimore’s annual interest expense on this bond issuance. IF SO – then he simply sends the $1,750,000 back to Baltimore every year. This makes his interest income equal his interest expense, so he owes no federal or state income tax on HIS OWN interest transactions.

1. (b) If Beatty is repaying Baltimore for Baltimore’s interest expense on the entire $107,000,000 – then he gets an interest expense tax deduction of $3,500,000 a year for the next 12 years.

2. IF Beatty has no obligation to compensate Baltimore for its interest expense, then this deal nets him a profit of $21 million over 12 years — solely on his interest income on his $35,000,000 investment/loan to Baltimore.

3. At the end of the term, Baltimore has to repay the entire $107,000,000 to the investors who bought the bonds. That includes Beatty. In 2025, Baltimore will cut a check to Beatty for $35,000,000, which is repayment of his original investment/loan.

There are even more possibilities. Bond values fluctuate in inverse proportion to interest rates. When interest rates increase, the value of bonds decreases. And so forth. But I think there is room for a little clarification from the city government before things get more complicated.

Also:Of course you can share it. It’s all public anyway. Any accountant can explain it in detail.

There are many more issues, but they involve corporate taxation. Suffice it to say that they all work to further enrich Mr. Beatty at the taxpayers’ expense.

The fact Beatty is profiting off the taxpayer’s money is just plain wrong and it adds to the massive public anger against handouts to huge Baltimorean corporations. At the same time, the Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun praised the bill saying that “the deal…saves taxpayers millions associated with the cost of issuing bonds, and it provides some reassurance about Mr. Beatty’s ability to fulfill his promises — and cover the bond payments…The advantage to the city, though, is substantial…The details of Mr. Beatty’s plan to buy the first round of bonds amount to a pleasant — if modest — surprise.” Columnist Dan Rodricks however wrote an editorial on Sunday, August 18th, criticizing the deal and the corporate welfare as Gordon Gecko-like:

“You follow me, kid?” An old friend of mine, educated at Hotchkiss and Haverford, used to ask that all the time, sometimes after every two sentences, like when he showed me how to make a martini or how to work the clutch in a ’74 Fiat or when he tried to explain what arbitrage was. He had a head for cocktails, cars and finance, and he talked real fast, with a cigarette on his lip. He’d start explaining something complex, like bond trading, and stop and ask, “You follow me, kid?”

And I would say, “Keep going,” as if I understood.

I thought of my old friend Friday morning when The Sun landed on my desk with a front-page picture of Michael Beatty and his thinning Gordon Gecko hairstyle, above the headline: “Beatty to buy TIF bonds.”

See if you can follow me.

Beatty is the wealthy guy who wants to develop an old chromium plant site in the Baltimore Harbor into a fabulous office-hotel complex with public spaces so we can all go down there on New Year’s Eve and watch the fireworks.

Despite what I just said about chromium, these 28 acres, called Harbor Point, are supposedly some of the most valuable acres in the United States, prime for development.

Beatty claims that his development will create thousands upon thousands of new jobs and eventually millions and millions in property taxes for our endlessly cash-starved city.

I mean, it’s like he’s going to build a city-within-a-city next to the city-within-a-city he already built: Harbor East.

Beatty is willing to invest some of his money and other people’s money in this project. But, of course, he stuck his hand out and asked City Hall to sell more than $100 million in municipal bonds to raise money for things like sidewalks and streets and the parks for the fireworks viewings.

You follow me so far?

If I’m going too fast, let me know.

We’re giving money to millionaires again, but not in the usual way. That’s where the TIF comes in. That stands for tax increment financing, which basically means the city takes out a loan (through bonds) to pay for stuff, and the property taxes the project generates pay back the bonds over time. Beatty asked for a certain amount of TIF to help him and his backers get a 14 percent return on their investment.

You like that?

Fourteen percent.

That’s the way the world works, and you cannot have thinning Gordon Gecko hair on the front page of the newspaper unless you understand that. Guys with big money get to insist on this kind of return. And when politicians are involved, it’s generally an easy deal.

That’s what happened in the mid-1990s when John Paterakis, the wealthy and politically influential bread baker, got millions in tax breaks to construct a hotel at Harbor East, a mile from where, at the time, the city needed a convention center hotel. That was all politics and entitlement at work.

That’s why people get antsy about these high-profile financial deals: City Hall. It’s hard to imagine that our elected leaders even comprehend what’s going on. Maybe they have staff that can match wits with Beatty and his financial strategists, but when it comes to City Council, we don’t have a lot of confidence.

Plus, they’re a bunch of pushovers. Guys with French cuffs treat a council member to dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s, and the French cuffs pretty much get what they want.

So Beatty will get what he wants — the TIF, plus a bunch of tax breaks that could total something like $400 million over the next couple of decades.

You follow me?

Now here’s the latest: Beatty is going to put up $35 million for some of the bonds he talked the City Council into authorizing for his project.

Put another way, the developer who is benefiting from the sale of the bonds is going to buy some of the bonds.

We are told that this maneuver saves the city money — about $6.5 million that otherwise would go to a lot of guys in suits who do these bond deals.

It seems odd, but someone has to buy the bonds, right? So why not the developer? Beatty has as much right as anyone else to enter that market.

Still, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what I was thinking when I was thinking about this Friday morning and I got a wicked headache: If Beatty can get up $35 million to buy bonds, why couldn’t he just put $35 million more into the project to begin with? That would buy a lot of public space for fireworks watching.

I think I got this, or at least a good guess: Investing in the bonds that are backed by tax revenues from Harbor Point and pay a steady 6.5 percent is much less risky than putting up your own money.

Plus, Beatty getting into the bond sale is a public relations thing. It helps the city a bit; it makes the Harbor Point deal seem slightly more palatable.

But I think I’ll stop here.

I think I might have lost some of you at “palatable.”

Still, there was a hard-hitting editorial in the Baltimore Sun today, by Kate Berliner, titled Losing faith in Baltimore. Berliner wrote that, since she moved to the city, it “has offerred taxpayer-financed subsidies to a number of corporations from stadiums to hotels and casinos, Harbor East, the Baltimore Grand Prix, and now Harbor Point…I join many of the wary and skeptical citizens in regard to the funding of the Harbor Point TIF. I am tired of the promise of joba with such projects…Citizens have patiently had our tax dollars invested for decades now, and it is time for the city to invest in its people.” Below this on the opinion page was an editorial by Jane Harrison titled Will we ever get housing right? Harrison wrote that there has been two big deals recently: “the first is the preliminary approval by Baltimore City Council of…some $420 million in public assistance, tax credits, and interest for creating the infrastructure for proposed Harbor Point development…The second…[is the] Baltimore housing agency’s transfer…of $6.8 million intended to assist poor families find affordable places to live…pay off long-standing court judgements for lead poisoning suffered by six formee residents living in public housing.” The editorial also noted that the facts underlying these huge transfers of money are that “41,637 households (104,092 individuals) pay more than half their income for rent or live in severly inadequate conditions…today [there are] over 60 homeless shelters barely coping with families and individuals who shuttle between homelessness and squalid, provisional living conditions in the city.” Harrison closes, asking readers:
“…What hope is there in the face of this to ever see a comprehensive and equitable citywide housing and economic development plan with the genuine promise of it being acted upon?”

There is reason to hope for the best for Baltimore that counters Michael “Greed is Good” Beatty who is a real life Gordon Gekko (sorta), and push through nonviolent direct action for what The Baltimore Book recommended:
“A strategy that would give ordinary citizens decision-making power over economic and community development would foster positive change in the city.” I end with what social activist and people’s historian Howard Zinn wrote in A Power Government Cannot Suppress:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

*Let us not forget what the MD State Board of Elections says about political campaign contributions:

“A person may contribute directly or indirectly no more than $4,000 to one political committee, and a total of $10,000 to all political committees, during the four-year cycle. The $4,000 limit on contributions to the political committee of a candidate applies regardless of the number of offices sought by the candidate in separate elections during the 4 year election cycle or the number of authorized candidate committees formed to support the candidate, including slates.
A political committee may transfer no more than $6,000 to another political committee during the four (4) year cycle. There is no aggregate limit.”

**Marriott, Hilton, KO Public Affairs, Gallagher Evelius & Jones, Constellation Energy (see here as to why), and Exelon Corp. Also note: Harbor Point Development Group LLC was not calculated in because it seems to not give political contributions, except for one I found. The same goes for: Under Armour (only three contributors), Hyatt Regency Baltimore (only one contributor), Four Seasons (only two contributions), Legg Mason (only four contributions), & Homewood Suites (gave to none of the people who voted).
This data comes from Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System maintained by the MD State Board of Elections.

*** Articles I’ve written criticizing Stephanie Failings-Blake:
https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/the-shameless-destruction-of-camp-83/
https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/2013-and-a-newfound-hope/
https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/city-favors-developers-over-people/

****see my article about this very subject which goes into more detail, but on a local & national scale.

Update: Luke Broadwater thanked me for sending this piece to me & following me :). That’s pretty big.

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Also added a comment about Beatty sent my way by @MairZDoatz from a knowledgable reader and concerned citizen. Added an opinion in the Baltimore Sun by Dan Rodricks as well.

Posted in activism, aristocracy, Baltimore, corporations, homeless, maryland, Politics, Struggle | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Baltimore Sun engages in Snowden and Manning bashing UPDATED

This is two letters I wrote to the Baltimore Sun which they didn’t publish because I exposed them for their Snowden and Manning bashing, saying it was outrageous that they would take such a stand.

Letter #1: An Unbalanced Verdict

I was angered and disappointed by the recent editorial in the Baltimore Sun (A balanced verdict, July 31) with a title falsely claiming the verdict is balanced when it is really stacked against Pfc. Bradley Chelsea Manning. It is shocking to see the Sun, a legitimate journalistic organization, support the government’s persecution against Manning and Edward Snowden. Now, this comes with caveats: the Sun criticizes the torture of Manning, notes that some of the Wikileaks cables harshly looked at US policy, and rightly rails against the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers. Otherwise, the editorial has a very pro-government position.

Starting with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Sun implies he is a traitor. The editorial notes that Snowden is “holed by in Moscow with laptops full of secrets and a pawn of foreign powers who wish America ill.” This is utterly fallacious. As journalist Glenn Greenwald has said numerous times, if Snowden had wanted to sell secrets to the Chinese or the Russians, he could have and become very rich, but he didn’t. Instead, Snowden meticulously went through the Top Secret documents and carefully classified all of them. Snowden is in Russia because he fears his execution in the US and fears he won’t get a fair trial in this country. In addition, it is important to remember that Snowden does not have laptops full of secrets and he has not emptied them to the behest of foreign powers. For the Sun to say otherwise about Snowden means they support the criminalization of whistleblowing and an end to investigative journalism.

The Sun, while not calling Manning a traitor, still refuses to call him a whistleblower, instead calling him a “cause celebre” for activists. Throughout the editorial, activists are mocked, implying that they aren’t fighting for justice. They also conclude that Manning could never have read all of the information he leaked. In reality, Manning meticulously categorized and downloaded information he determined was in the public interest onto CD drives. The Sun continued ts verbal assault, dismissing the comparison with Daniel Ellsberg, saying that the release of the Pentagon Papers “was careful and calculated,” implying that Manning did a sloppy job at releasing the documents. They say that the release of these documents “served Wikileaks’ militant anti-secrecy agenda.” The Sun seems to forget that Manning first contacted the New York Times and Washington Post, but they rejected his documents (the latter didn’t take him seriously). The legitimate journalistic organization calling for government and corporate transparency, Wikileaks, was the last resort, so he sent the documents to them using their anonymous dropbox. In his statement to the military court on March 1st, as transcribed by journalist Alex O’Brien, Manning explained he leaked the cables because he hoped they could “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general…[since it was] information that would have enormous value to the American public.”

If this isn’t enough, the editorial begins to downplay the cables, writing that they caused embarrassment and imply that they didn’t have much effect as Snowden’s revelations. However, as Manning biographer Denver Nicks writes, the leaked material is widely seen as a driving force for revolutions that shook the Arab World starting in December 2010. Additionally, investigative journalists Greg Palast and Jeremy Scahill used the cables to expose wrongdoing. Scahill used them to uncover more specifics about the US covert operations across the world and Palast used them to expose how BP had a Gulf of Mexico-like oil spill in the Caspian Sea. There are many other affects of the cables, which revealed the dirty dealings of the US government, corporate corruption, war crimes and so on.

The Sun pushes the envelope further. The editorial argues that the verdict in the Manning trial is not precedent, but the Obama administration’s surveillance of AP and Fox News is a precedent. It baffles me why both of these decision cannot be be precedents in the frightening world of mass surveillance and silencing of dissent. Then, the Sun engages in twisted logic: gleeful that Manning was charged with aiding the enemy, but implying that Manning needs time in prison for “justice…[to] be served.” Manning’s confinement for over 1,162 days, being charged as guilty before proven innocent, is already enough suffering for the 25 year old private. How is it just that Manning, who exposes war crimes and wrongdoing of epic proportions, will possibly have 136 years in prison?

In the end, I ask the Sun for one simple thing: stand their ground on the side of truth and justice, not the side of the U.S. government.

Letter #2: Snowden is not a traitor

I was disturbed by a blistering editorial, The Sun in which the criticized NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden again (“’Trust us’ isn’t enough”), following their July 31st editorial that Snowden was a traitor and that Bradley Chelsea Manning should be put away for life in prison. The editorial begins describing NSA Director Keith Alexander’s speech at a hacker convention in Las Vegas which seemed to be resoundly booed. Later the Sun stands against NSA warrantless wiretapping which is as they noted, a reason to question an agency that “operates in secrecy, and [has] its activities…authorized by a secret court.” The editorial notes that rhetoric claiming that the program stopped terror attacks is slowly slipping away. The Sun even goes as far to call for the Obama administration to “offer more than vague promises of reform” and that if this doesn’t happen that Congress must intervene, imposing “real limits and oversight. However, when it comes it Snowden, the Sun takes a very pro-government position.

The editorial claims that Snowden has been fleeced by foreign powers. The editorial argues that Snowden “in effect hand-deliver[ed] four computers worth of classified information to a foreign power” which it says he should have known because in their words, it was “pure hubris” to think that the countries he has visited “didn’t have the technical ability” to gain access to the classified information on his computers. The Sun also puts a wild claim out there that Russian security services possess the information on Snowden’s laptops. This is utterly fallacious. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Guardian on July 10th, “the extraordinary claim that China had drained the contents of Snowden’s laptops first appeared in the New York Times ina June 24 article…The NYT decided to publish this incendiary claim in a news article based purely on rank speculation from two anonymous sources.” Additionally, Snowden himself has said in an interview on July 9th, “I never gave any information to either government [China or Russia], and they never took anything from my laptops.” I think from that it should be case closed. By spreading this claim, The Sun is frighteningly siding with those who want to discredit Snowden and from that, his revelations. While never saying it outright, the Sun is implying that Snowden is a traitor to the United States even though he said he would die for this country.

In reading the editorial in full, I am completely confused at the position of The Sun. How can you call Snowden a traitor and be against the NSA warrantless surveillance? This position completely baffles me. I do not understand how a legitimate journalistic organization like The Sun can take such a position, as it seems to mirror what a tabloid like the New York Post would say in their headline story. In the end, I hope that The Sun recognizes the truth of Snowden’s circumstances in order to stay a light for all Marylanders in exposing reality, not peddling fiction.

Update:
As I looked through my email I received the news that Bradley Manning is Chelsea Manning so I’m changing the words “Bradley” to Chelsea in this article. Democracy Now! explained it:

“In breaking news, defense attorney David Coombs has shared a statement announcing Bradley Manning’s gender transition to female and name change to Chelsea Manning. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning says. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.” Coombs said Manning had not wanted his sexual identity issues to become public, but they did after his arrest in 2010…She has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 files and videos to WikiLeaks. She will serve that time at Fort Leavenworth. Under current guidelines, Chelsea Manning could be released on parole in about seven years.”

Rolling Stone Magazine added to this in an article about the subject:
“One day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, the Army private the world knows as Bradley Manning issued a statement about who she really is. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Manning wrote in a statement read on the Today show. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).” The letter is signed Chelsea E. Manning, and thanks supporters for raising awareness of her case. Manning is likely to serve her time at Fort Leavenworth, which doesn’t offer hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery to prisoners, as reported by Courthouse News. David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, was not sure if Fort Leavenworth would offer Manning hormone therapy, though he said on Today that he was “hoping” the prison “would do the right thing.” “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so,” Coombs said, according to the Today website. It’s not clear whether Manning will be imprisoned in the male or female population. In U.S. prisons in general, transgender inmates are typically classified by their officially assigned gender, rather than the gender with which they identify. After the guilty verdict, Manning’s attorney introduced a piece of evidence that included a photo of Manning in a wig and make-up attached to an email with the subject line: “My problem.” According to the email, Manning had hoped that joining the military would resolve her struggles with gender dysphoria – a pattern that is apparently not uncommon among transgender troops. The military still discriminates based on transgender identity, and soldiers or sailors who are open about who they are risk discharge under medical pretexts. Manning was convicted of leaking 700,000 war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. The 20 guilty counts included violations of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, though not the most serious charge, aiding the enemy – a charge tantamount to treason. The prosecution in the case had asked Judge Denise Lind to sentence Manning to at least 60 years, saying, “There is value in deterrence.” The defense had asked for a sentence no greater than 25 years. Though Manning will be eligible for parole after serving a third of her sentence, some found the 35-year sentence disproportionate when compared to the sentences given to other soldiers convicted of more serious crimes such as murder. “US soldier John Hatley, convicted of *premeditated murder* for shooting Iraqi detainees point blank in the back of the head, received 40 years,” tweeted Sarah Knuckey, former advisor to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings. Knuckey added, “U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, who pled guilty to murdering unarmed Afghan civilians, got 24 years.””

Also see these articles:
http://t.co/YhBDGnycZf
http://jezebel.com/the-tough-road-ahead-for-chelsea-manning-1183921369
http://gregmitchellwriter.blogspot.com/2013/06/as-debate-continues-what-manning.html
http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/08/20/60451.htm
http://fearlessknits.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/pvt-manning-confirms-shes-a-woman/
http://o.canada.com/2013/08/22/chelsea-manning-media-bias-and-cissexism/

Posted in Baltimore, corporations, drones, maryland, Politics, the people, war | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

City budget helps the rich, hurts the middle class

The recent Sun editorial regarding Baltimore’s budget sounded like it was written at City Hall—the story of the heartfelt push by the city government to reform itself into a positive middle-class builder (“Building a middle class,” June 19). It’s really more of the Maryland governmental spin cycle: Tax, spend and repent!

In Baltimore we listen to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s shell game of lowering the property tax rate, while riding high on the city’s minimum income tax rate, increasing the city budget, creating new taxes and fees on everything but the air we breathe. This is all coming from a bloated bureaucracy that spends 20 percent of its budget on people who are no longer there! The mayor’s solution to pension reform is to require employee contributions and offset it with raises. There is no acknowledgement that the present day value of public compensation is almost double that of the private sector.

The Sun’s editorial concluded that it might cost Baltimore citizens a little more to live in the city next year, even after the $140 average property tax decrease was figured in. That has to be the under-statement of the year.

While it would take a years time and an inordinate amount of diligence to determine the exact effect of the across-the-board salvo on the average citizen, it’s safe to say that this a government money grab of monumental proportion. It’s another mechanism to move money from the lower brackets to the higher bracket, composed of government employees, health care and financial services. With the new rain tax, water/sewer increases, speed and red light cameras, fee increases on everything from parking meters, bottles, plastic bags, taxis, to billboards — on top of the across-the-board state fee increases like gas taxes, highway tolls and college tuition — Baltimore residents will experience a governmental drain on their pocket books in the thousands of dollars. And the nice thing about it from
the government’s perspective is that while people can easily see a change in property tax or income tax rates, it’s almost impossible for them to get their arms around the increases in this deluge of disparate factors.

The only class building going on in this city is the building of the class where there is enough income, that the cost of living is not a factor. Unfortunately that is not the middle class.

Gary Moyer of Baltimore
who happens to have written on Occupy Baltimore’s blog site numerous times.

Editor’s Note: This letter which was published in the Sun on June 23rd (see page 24) of this year doesn’t really talk about the poor or homeless in the city, but it brings up some good points. I think it also might be anti-union.

Posted in activism, Baltimore, banks, corporations, maryland, Politics, Struggle, the people | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Artscape has lost its soul: a sea of hyper-commercialization UPDATED

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Today I went down to the country’s largest art festival in Baltimore. It was deathly hot, meaning my cold water turned all warm. Everyone seemed to be selling something. There was police presence just about everywhere. This even included a few DHS agents around Penn Station and a TSA “inspector” (why are they at a train station?). A tent by Toyota advertising their cars stretched for over a block. I later learned Toyota was one of the event’s sponsors. None of the art had any sort of subversive feeling to it, rather it was typical and likely bourgeois. Is this what Artscape is supposed to be?

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There wasn’t anyone discussing pertinent issues that affected the population of Baltimore and the nation as a whole. There was one group proudly declaring they only steal cop cars with a participant standing with the US Flag that had corporate logos instead of stars as his cape. One poster propped up against a truck decried fascism. A funky patchwork tent called Soundnest tried to create a unique community diologue about the feelings of those who passed through. A sign on the ground in front of a MICA building decreied the rape culture. There were protesters, but they were against abortion, not for any other cause, sadly. That was about the extent of the political discussion.
I didn’t even bother to see the dippy music.

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(the whole list of corporate sponsors)

Why was this the case? Well, as it turned out, the event had numerous corporate sponsors. This I believe is the reason for the hyper-commercialization of Artscape, turning it into an art market, instead of a place for discussion. Notable corpirate sponsors included:
1. Wells Fargo
2. Toyota
3. GEICO
4. BGE
5. XFinity (part of Comcast)
6. PNC
7. Chipotle
8. M&T Bank
9. T. Rowe Price
10. Hilton Baltimore
11. Embassy Suites
12. Southwest Airlines

For some reason this corporate sponsorship makes me think about gay pride and Gay Inc. (all the big gay non-profits). I wrote in White Rose Reader (http://whiterosereader.org/2013/06/21/insulting-the-1970s-radicals-the-commercialization-of-gay/) that “the big banks & telecoms bankrolled Gay Inc., having more than a shady hand in their support for gay rights…Gay Inc.’s concocted version of “equality” [is] sponsored by the multinational corporations…reject[ing]…gay liberation…Gay Inc., corrupted by their corporate cronies…[wants] “equality” rather than liberation…which strengthens elite factions.”

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(These boxes and wierd tent structure are an example of hyper-commercialization. They are utterly idiotic, and are only meant so people can sit on them, and take pictures next to them)

Artscape also made me think of some glaring connections with other issues. It first reminds me of the corporate-sponsored Baltimore Pride Parade (https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/free-brad-at-the-corporate-sponsored-pride-march/) amd how Exelon, the company which partlu benefits from the city’s $100+ million tax break, for a rich developer, (https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/handouts-in-to-baltimorean-corporations/) is one of the supporters. At the same time, the event hides the rampant poverty in the city, part of the effort by “the business community and their friendly groups…[to have a] clean city that would bring in tourism…[by] punishing panhandlers, destroying encampments of the poor and delegating them to the edge of society.” (https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/is-an-unconditional-war-on-poverty-needed-in-baltimore/) Additionally, a number of the same corporations that sponsored/supported Artscape also backed the Maryland Humanities Council, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,
and the National Aquarium (https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/power-corrupts-and-corporations-corrupt-through-sponsorship/).

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(the block long Toyota tent selling cars!)
Artscape has lost its soul. Maybe its because of the corporate sponsorship and hyper-commercialization. Or the Democratic party machine in Baltimore which continues to favor developers over the general population (https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/city-favors-developers-over-people/). Likely its a combination of both. The Baltimore Book puts it well
(https://beyondbarricade.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/a-view-from-federal-hill/)
“The imaging of Baltimore itself became important. The mayor, the media, and civic leaders set out on a binge that would brook no criticism…Baltimore’s urban elite have struggled to make a new city. Powerless to prevent deindustrialization and recession, they have tried to create a profitable growth machine that has focused on tourism leisure, and conspicuous consumption as an antidote to falling profits and urban decline…the Inner Harbor functions as a sophisticated mask…if the mask cracks or is violently torn off, the terrible place of Baltimore’s impoverishment may appear.”

In the end, there must be a push to make Artscape a place for discussion, and diologue about issues facing the Baltimore community, so it doesn’t have to be the city that bleeds. Let’s Occupy Artscape next time!

Here are some other pictures I took at Artscape:

Art Cars

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Stuff opening a community dialogue about socio-political issues

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The funky and cool tent

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Other stuff

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(Baltimore police outside Penn Station)

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(Wells Fargo tents)

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Update #1:

I wrote about how the speaking of the corporate mayor to the Artscape crowd is a problem, to which a twitter handle of a radio show called ‘State of the City’ said “artscape may have lost its soul & the corporate controlled mayor never had a soul.”

Here’s some other tweets coming out my talks with others about my article:

“local vendors and artists are largely priced out of the event. it’s become a full on thing for the Roland Park set”- Travis

“the Artscape twitter feed was like a parody “stop by the Wells Fargo booth! check out some Chipotle!””- Travis

Also, last year (the same this year?) according to the Baltimore Brew:

“For the second year in a row, anti-abortion picketers displaying signs with bloody and explicit images made the scene at Artscape…A thought: where was all this municipal concern for the First Amendment at other protests squelched by the city this year? One example is the January action in which Occupy Baltimore demonstrators tried to go to City Hall to protest the closure of city recreation centers. And city police blocked them and threw their sign – a mock recreation center – into a trash truck.”

I will update this if there is any other pertinent information.

Update #2:
An article portaying Artscape favorably in the Baltimore Brew noted some additional political action. They wrote in part:

“Maybe instead of ordering up another consultant’s report on how to “grow” the city and (try to) gin up redevelopment with TIF subsidies, the mayor and other movers and shakers could just look at some Youtubes from Artscape. They might want to have a break-out session on the subject of free speech, by the way…As happened last year, anti-abortion picketers were by the Lyric with those graphic bloody-red fetus photos…This year, on Saturday, pro-abortion rights advocates were ready. Wearing orange shirts, they stood in front of the bloody fetus signs…Anyway, free speech and open discourse is another one of those urban values worth encouraging in Baltimore beyond three special days. “Accountability for torturers,” read the message on a sign one man held out on Mount Royal Avenue…Maybe it’s just me, but it made me happy when the guy on Mount Royal handed me a flier about U.S. policy allowing torture of detainees and said, “Barbara Mikulski needs to get phone calls!””

So, there were more protesters and open dialogue. However, this doesn’t seem to challenge my view that there was rampant hyper-commercialization at play or any talk about the event’s corporate sponsors.

Update #3
A.F James McArthur or the “Baltimore Spectator” had an interesting thing to say about Artscape. He wrote that:

“The city spends a lot of time and money encouraging people to visit Baltimore. Not only do we need them to come to our festivals, we need them to spend their money here. The economic boost is unquestionable. It would be great if the police, by their actions, didn’t undermine this effort.”

Posted in Baltimore, banks, Chesapeake Bay, corporations, environment, Politics, the people | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Updates on the next month

I just wanted to tell the readers of this blog that I’ll be busy in the next two weeks. I’ll try to publish as many posts as I can but it will be hard. After that I’ll be on vacation. I just wanted to tell y’all that.

So don’t get disappointed if you don’t see posts.

Posted in activism, Baltimore, banks, corporations, maryland, Politics, the people, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Free Chelsea at the corporate-sponsored pride march? UPDATED

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Recently on the site of Occupy Baltimore, it asked people to join the Baltimore pride march, demanding that Chelsea Manning be freed. However, I smell something sinister about this march, which I thoroughly investigated.

Recently, I published an article about the corporate corruption of the mainstream gay organizations or Gay Inc. on Nation of Change. I wrote in part that

“The sponsorships of Gay Inc. give a further insight. The banksters who helped plunge the world economy into economic crisis sponsored a number of organizations including the HRC, NGLTF, GLAD, PFLAG, NGLCC, Out and Equal, GLSEN, and GLAAD. As for the companies that are part of the Center for Copyright Information that devised the authoritarian copyright alert system which is commonly called “Six Strikes,” they back Equality Forum, Out and Equal, NGLTF, and GLAAD. There are many other egregious corporate sponsors of the NGLTF, HRC, GLAD, PFLAG, Equality Forum, Family Equality Council, NGLCC, Out and Equal (has 55 sponsors!), GLSEN, and GLAAD…Some might say that this is no different from any other public interest group in America, but Gay Inc. is uniquely corrupted by the business community. How do these groups pay back their sponsors? It differs from group to group. The NGLTF…backed the healthcare “reform” bill while the HRC’s ‘corporate equality index’…gave the highest ratings possible to some of those who sponsored them!…NGLCC is…making an effort to make corporate America LGBTQ “certified”… The corporate leeches must be thrown away and LGBTQ and allies must stand next to each other and push for full liberation not simply policies that promote assimilation like gay marriage and ENDA.”

This relates to the corporate sponsorship of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade which resulted in the President of the march’s organizing committee declaring that Bradley Manning would not be the Grand Marshal.

I looked into the sponsorship of the Baltimore Gay Pride parade. What did I find? Similar corporate sponsors to the SF Pride Parade, companies like Bank of America & Verizon backed the parade in Baltimore. Other sponsors included BGE, Kaiser Permanente, Constellation Energy, M&T Bank, & SunTrust among many others.* Maybe this is why the parade’s website has a whole webpage promoting corporate partnerships*, saying that companies that sponsor the march will “enjoy marketing to over 5,000 individuals on our mailing list, 6,000 email subscribers, 30,000 Baltimore Pride attendees, and thousands of LGBTQ Marylanders who read Gay Life magazine (Baltimore’s largest LGBTQ publication).” They also have a “partnership packet” to lure corporate sponsors in. Even, the corporate-corrupted Mayor Stephanie Failings-Blake sent in a letter of congrats. The description of the parade on the homepage (also here) gave an idea of the corruption noted that:

“Baltimore Pride has celebrated the diversity of our community in Maryland and throughout the Mid-Atlantic for more than 35 years. Attended annually by an estimated 30,000 people, Baltimore Pride is recognized not only as the premier LGBTQ event in Maryland, but also one of the largest festivals in Baltimore City. The Parade and Block Party are held in Mount Vernon, one of the most historic areas of the city and one of the centers of LGBTQ life in Baltimore. The Festival takes place in a lakeside setting in beautiful Druid Hill Park, which provides a pleasant and casual environment for the festivities of the day. The origins of Baltimore Pride date back to 1975. In the decades since, Baltimore Pride has grown to become Maryland’s largest LGBTQ visibility event, providing an opportunity for the greater Maryland community to experience and learn more about the LGBTQ community through a weekend of wonderful events and exhibitions.”

This is different than the Chesapeake Pride festival which didn’t have corporate sponsors to the magitude of the Baltimore Pride Parade:

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Just looking at the definition of gay pride via wikipedia sounds nice, a
“positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.” However, as the Baltimore Pride Parade and many others show, they are too commercialized resulting in an alternative: Gay Shame. Wikipedia defines this as a:

“A radical movement within the LGBT community, opposes the assimilation of LGBT people into mainstream, heteronormative society, the commodification of non-heterosexual identity and culture, and in particular the (over)commercialization of pride events.”

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_pride, see section titled “opposition”

“A movement from within the LGBT and queer communities described as a radical alternative to gay mainstreaming and directly posits an alternative view of traditional “gay pride” events and activities which have become increasingly commercialized with corporate sponsors and “safer” agendas to avoid offending supporters and sponsors. the Gay Shame movement has grown to embrace radical expression, counter-culture ideologies and avant-garde arts and artists.”

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_Shame

This sounds like the words of accomodation, rather than liberation. I can bet you that every “gay pride” parade is similarly stacked with corporate sponsors. This is no surprise considering the corporate sponsors want more consumers but not liberation that seriously challenges the powers that be. In the end, remember to be critical of any gay group or pride parade sponsored by multinationals which promote conformity and assimilation.

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Update:
As I looked through my email I received the news that Bradley Manning is Chelsea Manning so I’m changing the words “Bradley” to Chelsea in this article. Democracy Now! explained it:

“In breaking news, defense attorney David Coombs has shared a statement announcing Bradley Manning’s gender transition to female and name change to Chelsea Manning. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning says. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.” Coombs said Manning had not wanted his sexual identity issues to become public, but they did after his arrest in 2010…She has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 files and videos to WikiLeaks. She will serve that time at Fort Leavenworth. Under current guidelines, Chelsea Manning could be released on parole in about seven years.”

Rolling Stone Magazine added to this in an article about the subject:
“One day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, the Army private the world knows as Bradley Manning issued a statement about who she really is. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Manning wrote in a statement read on the Today show. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).” The letter is signed Chelsea E. Manning, and thanks supporters for raising awareness of her case. Manning is likely to serve her time at Fort Leavenworth, which doesn’t offer hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery to prisoners, as reported by Courthouse News. David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, was not sure if Fort Leavenworth would offer Manning hormone therapy, though he said on Today that he was “hoping” the prison “would do the right thing.” “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so,” Coombs said, according to the Today website. It’s not clear whether Manning will be imprisoned in the male or female population. In U.S. prisons in general, transgender inmates are typically classified by their officially assigned gender, rather than the gender with which they identify. After the guilty verdict, Manning’s attorney introduced a piece of evidence that included a photo of Manning in a wig and make-up attached to an email with the subject line: “My problem.” According to the email, Manning had hoped that joining the military would resolve her struggles with gender dysphoria – a pattern that is apparently not uncommon among transgender troops. The military still discriminates based on transgender identity, and soldiers or sailors who are open about who they are risk discharge under medical pretexts. Manning was convicted of leaking 700,000 war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. The 20 guilty counts included violations of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, though not the most serious charge, aiding the enemy – a charge tantamount to treason. The prosecution in the case had asked Judge Denise Lind to sentence Manning to at least 60 years, saying, “There is value in deterrence.” The defense had asked for a sentence no greater than 25 years. Though Manning will be eligible for parole after serving a third of her sentence, some found the 35-year sentence disproportionate when compared to the sentences given to other soldiers convicted of more serious crimes such as murder. “US soldier John Hatley, convicted of *premeditated murder* for shooting Iraqi detainees point blank in the back of the head, received 40 years,” tweeted Sarah Knuckey, former advisor to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings. Knuckey added, “U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, who pled guilty to murdering unarmed Afghan civilians, got 24 years.””

Also see these articles:
http://t.co/YhBDGnycZf
http://jezebel.com/the-tough-road-ahead-for-chelsea-manning-1183921369
http://gregmitchellwriter.blogspot.com/2013/06/as-debate-continues-what-manning.html
http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/08/20/60451.htm
http://fearlessknits.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/pvt-manning-confirms-shes-a-woman/
http://o.canada.com/2013/08/22/chelsea-manning-media-bias-and-cissexism/

Posted in activism, Baltimore, banks, corporations, LBGT, maryland, Politics, the people | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who is running for Governor?

Editor’s Note: To be clear. All of these people are complete and utter assholes, like all politicians. This post is NOT an endorsement of any of these candidates, and in fact it is meant to show why all of these candidates care more about business than the population of actual living and breathing Marylanders.

In over one year, Marylanders will get to vote on the next governor (see here for more details). The current Governor, Martin O’Malley, won’t be able to run again as he has already served two terms. Those declared candidates are seven, but all of them are important:

  1. Current Lt. Governor Anthony Brown , running with current Howard County Executive Kenneth Ulman [DEMOCRATIC PARTY]
  2. Ron George, current member of the House of Delegates [REPUBLICAN PARTY]
  3. Meyer F. Marks [REPUBLICAN PARTY]
  4. David R. Craig, Harford County Executive [REPUBLICAN PARTY]
  5. Businessman Brian Vaeth, businessman along with activist Duane “Shorty” Davis [REPUBLICAN PARTY]
  6. Brian Murphy [REPUBLICAN PARTY]
  7. Blaine Young, President of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners [REPUBLICAN PARTY]

This means that a lot of people want to be in the governor’s seat, and I can’t tell you who would get ahead because I haven’t read any polls. You might ask why the alternative parties aren’t listed. This is because according to Green Pages, “the Constitution, Green, Independent, and Libertarian Parties nominate by convention rather than by primary.”I’ll go through every of the seven candidates shown here.

RON GEORGE

Now, let me remind you about one of the candidates, Ron George. His website says he is “Pro–Business,” “Pro–Limited Government [for leading]…fights against: tax increases, increased spending, excessive regulations and mandates. Sponsored sensible tax cuts and caps,” “Pro–Veteran,” “Pro–Education,” “Pro–Family,” “Pro–Second Amendment,” and “Pro–Health.” Despite these words, George is a member of one of the task forces for the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, which pushed business-friendly bills in the last legislative session (he even admits this on his website). ALEC is “not a lobby; it is not a front group. In reality, it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators changes to laws they desire, that directly benefit their bottom line or cause” (see here).  I wrote that “Delegate Ron George’s bill, HB0533…over a six year period, decreases the corporate income tax rate by 0.25% each year, had 24 sponsors.  41.6% of their sponsors being ALEC members which increases if George is incorporated into this number.” Additionally George was a sponsor of Delegate Schultz’s bill to lower the corporate tax rate, which one of many bills as part of the flurry of business-friendly bills in the last session. As Influence Explorer notes, George received thousands of dollars from the Real Estate, Commercial Banks and Home Builders industries. Additionally, Sallie Mae, the company that profits off indebted students, gave him $4,000 and the National Association of Realtors gave him $5,240.  Further campaign finance data shows he has received a combined sum of $860 from Constellation Energy, Coca-Cola Enterprises, the Maryland Bankers Association and the Maryland Soft Drink Association which doesn’t include the campaign contributions he gave to himself.  So please don’t support this corporate drone who is really right-wing.

Anthony Brown and Kenneth Ulman

Anthony Brown is the current Lieutenant Governor who likes promoting public-private partnerships or P3s, and is corrupt as Martin O’Malley, and is running with Howard County Executive Kenneth Ulman. The Baltimore Sun wrote recently that “Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman shook up Maryland’s 2014 gubernatorial race by announcing they will run as a ticket for the Democratic nomination in 2014. Politically and electorally, it’s a shrewd and gutsy move…For Mr. Brown, he is trying do something that hasn’t been done but is long overdue in a state with one of the largest and most affluent African-American populations in the country: become the first black Democratic nominee for governor…For Mr. Ulman, a veteran pol at the ripe old age of 39, should the Brown-Ulman ticket succeed — and maybe even if it doesn’t — he is now positioned to be next in line for the State House.” According to Influence Explorer, Real Estate, Law Firms, Business Services, and General Contractors were some of the top industries that gave to his coffers. Additionally, a number of trade unions contributed and a natural gas company named Beowulf Energy which owns 60% of of the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline which is according to Wikipedia, “a proposed natural gas pipeline from Tobago to other eastern Caribbean islands.” According to more data, the casino Warner Gaming, which is the license holder of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, a company which had to pay a $650,000 settlement over drug trafficking going on inside the casino, gave him $4,000 dollars. If this isn’t enough, huge developer Merritt Properties LLC in the Baltimore-Washington Area, gave him $4,000 dollars. One should also note that Brown supports the Red Line which seems to be supported by big business. There isn’t anything on his website that I could find. While he may be liked by the black community, do not vote for him or support him in any way.

Meyer F. Marks

This person has sought political office before and been unsuccessful. According to influence explorer, most of her contributions have been individual ones except a group called Patton Boggs LLP. On his website, he says that people are “at risk of losing our fundamental right of democratic equality, because of one political party [the Democrats] has shut out all voices of dissent…My aim is to restore the fundamental values that our great state was founded upon, and restore a balanced approach to political debates in Annapolis…My top priority is to balance the budget.” However, as one should know, while balancing the budget is widely supported by the American population, the term is actually code word for cutting social programs to “balance” the budget which results in more despair, suffering and hurt. His policies across the board are really bad. He wants:

  • more “right to work” laws, which are really anti-union right to work less laws which cut down one last organ standing up for the workers,
  • a “payroll tax holiday”
  • “enterprise work zones” where corporations work be given “tax incentives and other public-private incentives” to locate in areas, basically a form of corporate welfare
  • to lower the corporate tax rate which he says is too high (which is preposterous)
  • to privatize public transit,  by allowing “private companies to finance, design, build, operate, and maintain transit lines”
  • He wants to “reform” the state’s “budget process with performance based budgeting”which according to ehow is “suits companies and departments that have measurable monthly, quarterly, or yearly production goals” meaning there isn’t a good long-term focus in mind
  • Public schools would be partly privatized by allowing “public-private partnership [to come up with]…the capital needed for school construction” which sounds nice but will result in closer collusion of private and public sector interests
  • A hard on crime approach, saying there are “liberal sentencing guidelines”
  • to be anti-immigrant by insisting on the enforcing the harsh and discriminatory “federal immigration laws, including legislation for E -Verify” which according to the ACLU would, while trying to “detect the small percentage of job seekers who are unauthorized workers, a mandatory E-Verify system creates a whole new level of intrusive government oversight of daily life.” Its so bad that even the American Enterprise Institute opposes it!
  • He wants to “reform” medical malpractice which means it won’t really be a reform at all…
  • He wants local communities to “administer their own Medicaid and Medicare programs” so they can reject it or not, saying the federal government should not try to reform healthcare
  • He wants an Independent Redistricting Commission instead of one decided down partisan lines
  • Interestingly, he supports environmental regulations in order to preserve the bay.

I ask you to NOT vote for this person as his policies will cause mass hurt and suffering for the people of Maryland as he seems to be a sort of Reagonite. Likely some of his positions will cost him support among the right-wing (like support for environmental regs.)

I honestly do not think David R. Craig, Brian Vaeth and Duane “Shorty” Davis, Brian Murphy or Blaine Young have enough of a standing to talk about at all. If this changes, I’ll write an article about them. Don’t worry. I’ll be following this for the next year.

Posted in campaign, maryland, Politics, the people | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments