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Baker Promises

Posts about Rushern Baker's promises, moved from the PG-Politics-Briefs timeline.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Rushern l. Baker, III Inaugurated as 7th Prince George’s County Executive
Washington Informer, Staff, 7 Dec 2010

From Rushern Baker's inauguration speech:
We’ve have begun the process of simplifying access to government services. We will combine CountyStat and 311, which will give you easier access to your government and better tools to control waste and catch fraud.
The ethics reform measures I proposed in May are being drafted and will soon be a submitted to the General Assembly in January. Our first step towards reform will happen this week when I will announce the appointment of a task force that will work on establishing the Office of Inspector General for the County.
Some have asked, “Are you planning on taking direct control over the county schools?” My answer is no, but let me say this: I will also not sit idly by and be silent. I believe there is a third way, and that is the role I will seek: using the resources of my office and government to weigh in on the quality and pace of reform, offer suggestions and lend support to our Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. William Hite, to continue moving forward.

Post, Spivack & Wiggins, 6 Dec 2010
Baker: "We will . . . give you easier access to your government and better tools to control waste and catch fraud."

L. Johnson sworn into P.G. Council a month after federal bust
Examiner, Hughes, 6 Dec 2010
New Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker vowed Monday that his administration would be the most ethical in the Washington region, a proclamation made within several feet of a trio charged with felonies -- his predecessor, a new County Council member and an official tasked with delivering the oath of office.

Johnsons Cast Shadow at Rushern Baker Inauguration
wusa9, Broom, 6 Dec 2010
Baker has promised to create a county Inspector General's office with watchdog authority over county government.

The Pledge for Prince George's

During the 2010 primary campaign a number of candidates, led by new County Executive Rushern Baker, made an eleven point "Pledge to the People of Prince George’s County."

Signers of the pledge taking office today are
  • Rushern Baker, County Executive
  • Mary Lehman, Council Member, District 1
  • Mel Franklin, District 9
Let us hope that they keep their promises.
The Pledge
We Pledge to the People of Prince George’s County, should you entrust us with the privilege of public service, we will collaborate with our fellow elected officials to deliver the following within the first three years of our term:
  • We Pledge to encourage greater improvements in our education system, by supporting demonstration projects for early education, year-round schooling, early college; teacher recruitment, and other innovative programs, through aggressive pursuit of dedicated public and private funding, that doesn’t ask the school board or superintendent to take funding away from existing school programs;
  • We Pledge the creation of a plan for greater coordination of the entire Prince George’s County government with the school system for accelerating improvements in our schools and greater efficiency where possible;
  • We Pledge to deliver a comprehensive job creation, competitive housing market, and economic growth plan for Prince George’s County within the first 100 days of the new administration;
  • We Pledge an enhanced incentive package for County Workers and County Subcontractors to spend money at targeted businesses within enterprise zones and designated commercial areas; to help create jobs and economic opportunity where needed most;
  • We Pledge to strengthen Prince George’s County’s commitment to smarter growth, rural & historic preservation, and true community-driven development, by creating disincentives & restrictions to sprawl and greater incentives to bring jobs and opportunities to underserved communities, especially near metro stations;
  • We Pledge to keep more of your tax dollars working for Prince George’s County by adding a “Net Financial Benefit to the County ” score to the procurement evaluation and contracting process, based on potential and past taxes paid, current number of employees paying taxes and residing in Prince Georges, and percent of services purchased from Prince George’s County companies;
  • We Pledge to improve the strength and enforcement of equal pay for equal work laws in Prince George’s County, especially with respect to those performing services using your tax dollars; pay disparities in the workforce will be eliminated in Prince George’s County;
  • We Pledge to simplify access to government services through the creation of a “311” information number for all County and local government needs;
  • We Pledge comprehensive ethics reform for all elected officials representing Prince George’s County including every agency head, board member, and appointee; we will not tolerate personal use of your tax dollars;
  • We Pledge to have an independent evaluation, analysis, and audit of Prince George’s County revenue and expenditures, to determine if there are more effective financial systems and practices, which can relieve the burden on property owners, while matching income with population growth and required delivery of services;
  • We Pledge to strengthen laws, procedures, and policies and collaborate with each branch of the criminal justice system, so that the definitive message that Prince George’s County does not tolerate violence, including domestic violence, resonates throughout the region and nation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leadership change in Prince George's brings challenges and stirs hope
Post, Spivack, 5 Dec 2010
He has made lofty promises - no furloughs for teachers, firefighters and police, more money for education and possibly a longer school day ...
While he hopes to expand the commercial tax base by attracting more business, he also plans to institute a broad examination of government efficiencies, and will use a system known as CountyStat to ascertain how county funds are being spent.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gazette Voter Guide: Rushern Baker, Prince George's County Executive
Gazette, 11 Aug 2010
Q. Is county funding for schools too much, about right or too little? If too little, where would you find additional money?
The School System has consistently fallen short of spending money efficiently. Under previous administrations the statement "there is just not enough money for education" is very true. Even during these hard economic times, education must remain a top economic priority for the County. Saving teacher jobs, attracting and retaining the top educator talent, providing 21st century technology, and offering comprehensive support for every child – particularly our struggling students – all take real resources to achieve. As County Executive, I will work with collaborators and stakeholders such as the Prince George's County Educators' Association, parents, community leaders, school board members, religious leaders, and others to explore every avenue for raising and maintaining adequate funding for our schools. I will also work to ensure that we spend the resources we have more wisely, targeting additional resources to our most needy schools and students and working with our most successful schools to learn and replicate best practices that don't necessarily take additional resources to implement. Growth and stability are tied to school funding. I will not support the furlough or layoff of teachers. We need to build from our assets and opportunities, not waste our assets and expose our vulnerabilities.

Q. Do you support the participation of the county corrections department in the Secure Communities program? Why or why not?
The County has already committed to participation in the Secure Communities Program. As County Executive I am committed to upholding the law. With resources stretched my primary concern is serving the citizens of Prince George's County. Immigration is the work of the federal government.  

Q. What are your thoughts on economic development in the county? How would you address challenges, if any?
Quality schools and safe neighborhoods are keys to attracting government agencies and private businesses to Prince George's County. We must continue to reduce crime and increase the academic achievement of students to make our county an attractive destination. The government can also provide incentives that will be considered for the creation of new jobs within the County. These incentives will be based on the number of jobs created and the average wage of these jobs. Each project or major business venture should be considered on a case-by-case basis using guidelines established by the County Executive. In order to expand economic development opportunities and capture the premier entities looking for new quarters, Prince George's County must be creative in its approach to both federal government agencies and major businesses considering relocation. The County also needs to establish smart green growth and development initiatives that bring jobs, tax dollars, training, and opportunity in a way that is environmentally sound. Infrastructure improvements and sustainable communities must be truly livable. This means we have to have public participation in growth decisions covering areas such as: infrastructure, transportation, walkable communities, housing, economic development, resource conservation and historic character. Smart growth requires joint comprehensive planning that can support and take advantage of State and Federal funding plans. We must protect our rural resources as we grow our local economy. 14 of our 15 Metro Stations are undeveloped or underdeveloped. They represent an opportunity to create model, green urban development.  

Q. What are your thoughts on TRIM? Would you work to repeal or preserve it? I would not work to repeal TRIM.  

Q. What are your thoughts on the county-owned hospital system? How would you address any challenges?
Prince George's County should not own a hospital. Hospital ownership is a state or private sector responsibility. I will work tirelessly to have the state and or private sector take over the county-owned hospital system. Prince George's County needs to develop a primary care safety net beyond hospital and emergency care. Primary care physicians need to be encouraged to practice in poor underserved areas.  

Q. How would you rate the county government's transparency and communication with the community? How would you address challenges, if any?
Much more needs to be done to open government. Major ethics reform is long overdue in Prince George's County, I will end pay for play practices in government business dealings. I believe in full disclosure and my campaign posts a list of its donors every sixty days. I have also released a comprehensive list of initiatives I will take in my first thirty days. As County Executive I will strive to make government and campaigns more transparent. I also pledge to establish a first ever County Inspector General to police ethics conduct and perform annual ethics audits.

Q. What are your thoughts on the county's image? How would you address challenges, if any?
The County's image is often a direct reflection of its leader and its leadership team. Our image has been blighted because of unethical contracting allegations and abuses of confidence. I am a compassionate and honest man who will help Prince George's aim higher and reach new levels; we can be first in education and last in crime, first in job creation and last in foreclosures, and first in opportunity and last in corruption. I have the experience and vision to get us there. The fresh and transparent actions of a reform minded leader will lead the transformation of image.
Monday, May 17, 2010

Rushern Baker's 30 Day Plan for Ethics Reform

During his campaign, Rushern Baker said "I have also released a comprehensive list of initiatives I will take in my first thirty days."  Here is the text of the plan from a 17 May 2010 Post story.
The First Thirty Days as County Executive Thru:
Executive Order
Introduction of Legislation to the County Council
Introduction of Legislation to the House of Delegates

Prohibit County Credit Cards for Elected Officials

Elected officials, including Members of the County Council, the County Executive and members of the School Board would be prohibited by law from having county credit cards. Instead, elected officials would be required to submit their expense reimbursements like other government employees. All elected officials' expenses would be reviewed by the Office of Finance. Although the County Council suspended its usage of credit cards after irregularities were revealed, this proposal would codify the ban on credit cards and apply to all of these elected officials, including the County Executive.

[County cards can be prohibited by executive order, School Board by state legislation]

Prohibit Gifts, Meals and Beverages for County Officials

Executive Branch members would not be permitted to knowingly accept a meal, beverages or gifts, directly or indirectly, from a person or entity that does business with the County government, is a regulated by the County government, has a financial interest in the performance of the official's duties which is distinguishable from the public generally, or is registered lobbyist. Ceremonial gifts and gifts of a nominal value would be exempted, as well as meals in which all council members and members of the public are invited. State legislators are already subject to these restrictions.

[Executive branch members can be prohibited by executive order. A County ordinance would be necessary to govern the legislative branch.]

State Ethics Law Loophole Closed

The loophole in the State ethics law which allows development interests to contribute to county council members through artificial "slates" would be closed. This proposal would prevent the artificial pairing of county council members with other elected officials solely for purposes of evading the requirements of the State ethics law. The intention of the ethics law was to prevent developers from excessive influence over council members who enjoy regulatory authority over them in land use cases.

[Requires state legislation.]

Campaign Loans Restricted

Non-personal campaign loans would be limited to the amounts allowed by law for contributions, rather than the current unlimited loans allowed by law. Loans to slates and candidates are capped at the same out as contribution limits.

[Requires state legislation.]

County Council Interference with Planning Board Decisions Prohibited.

County Council members would be prohibited from "calling up" decisions of the Planning Board. The Council would be limited to hearing legitimate appeals from citizens and interested parties from Planning Board decisions. This change to state law would prevent Council members from interfering on their own in uncontested decisions by the County's professional planning agency and still preserve the rights of citizens and civic associations to appeal decisions when necessary.

[Requires state legislation.]

Full Disclosure

Any person receiving lobbying fees or holding any interest in the outcome of a decision before the Council, including interests in real property or entities holding real property, would be required to fully disclose such interests before the Council takes action.

[Requires state legislation.]

Transparent Government Online

Prince George's County government must become transparent to its citizens. The County Web site must open government to the public. The current Web site does not meet modern standards of accountability and transparency. All county contracts will be placed online. All County salaries will be reported online. The County budget will be placed online, as well as all federal, state and private grant money. All zoning cases will be placed online.

[Can be accomplished by executive order.]

Inspector General

The County will create an office of Inspector General to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement and conflicts-of-interest in the County government. The Inspector General must be professionally qualified with a background in auditing and public financial management. The Inspector General must be selected based on ability and integrity, without regard to political affiliation. The Inspector General will be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council for a fixed term of office that is staggered and non-concurrent with the Executive and Council. The office of inspector general will have its own staff and will enjoy subpoena power. The Inspector General will conduct investigations, review financial managements, examine potential conflicts-of-interest, conduct performance audits and similar reviews, make recommendations, public findings, and make referrals to law enforcement agencies. The Inspector General will also conduct annual ethics audits of locally elected officials and make results public.

[Can be accomplished by county ordinance.]

County Council Slates

Council members whose individual and slate committees have received contributions from firms with business before the council and exceed the sum of $5,000 must recuse themselves from any vote or debate on any pending funding, permit, or project.

[Can be accomplished by county ordinance.]

County Council Lobbyists

Lobbyist must file a contribution summary of their clients to elected officials in Maryland, which is posted on the internet prior to each council session; Lobbyist are to be prohibited from fund raising for candidates for any locally-elected office in Prince George's.

[Can be accomplished by county ordinance.]


Respondents to Requests for Proposals must submit a summary of their contributions in the last 36 months to campaign committees, slates, candidates, political action committees, and special event committees, or charities on which a Council member or County Executive sits on a board or governing body.

[Can be accomplished by county ordinance.]

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