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How Safe is Your Drinking Water?

12-31-2010 How safe is your drinking water, does it contain Chromium- 6? Why should you worry about Chromium -6? Acccording to the EPA: Currently, the total chromium standard is 0.1 mg/L (100 parts per billion). Our latest data show no U.S. utilities are in violation of the standard.

In a recent meeting this past week “Administrator Lisa Jackson described EPA’s current chromium-6 risk assessment, which is a review EPA immediately started in response to new science in 2008 showing a link between chromium-6 ingestion and cancer. (Editors Note: There is a distinct possibility that it really is in the water that we drink on a regular basis which would make it not safe).This risk assessment – which would be the first step to updating the drinking water regulations – will be finalized after an independent scientific peer review in 2011.”

On 12-22-2010 “Yesterday, I briefed members of the Senate on chromium-6 in drinking water supplies as it relates to the recent Environmental Working Group report. EPA has already been working to review and incorporate the ground-breaking science referenced in this report. However, as a mother and the head of EPA, I am still concerned about the prevalence of chromium-6 in our drinking water.

Today, I am announcing a series of actions that the EPA will take over the coming days to address chromium-6 in our drinking water. It is clear that the first step is to understand the prevalence of this problem. While the EWG study was informative, it only provided a snapshot in time. EPA will work with local and state officials to get a better picture of exactly how widespread this problem is. In the meantime, EPA will issue guidance to all water systems in the country to help them develop monitoring and sampling programs specifically for chromium-6. We will also offer significant technical assistance to the communities cited in the EWG report with the highest levels of chromium-6 to help ensure they quickly develop an effective chromium-6 specific monitoring program.

The science behind chromium-6 is evolving. EPA is already on a path toward identifying and addressing any potential health threats from excessive, long-term exposure with its new draft assessment released this past fall. This assessment still needs to be reviewed by independent scientists as an essential step toward tightening drinking water standards for chromium-6. Strong science and the law will continue to be the backbone of our decision-making at EPA. EPA takes this matter seriously and we will continue to do all that we can, using good science and the law, to protect people’s health and our environment.”

Editorial Note: This scare over the safety of our drinking water tells me that it is always best to use a filter on your home drinking water just to be on the safe side. Even if it only helps a little bit, it should help to keep us safer in the long run. In areas like Fort George G. Meade in Maryland where there has been ground contaminents for years it would make even more sense to use a water filter system for your supply in your home.

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February is Gifted and Talented Education Month

2-12-2015 Three Maryland schools this month are receiving Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) School Awards, which recognize top elementary, middle, and high school programs.

The 2014 EGATE schools are:

Cross Country Elementary/Middle School, Baltimore City Public Schools

Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, Baltimore City Public Schools

Greenbelt Elementary School, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Now in their fifth year, the EGATE awards spotlight gifted and talented programs aligned with Maryland Criteria for Excellence: Gifted and Talented Program Guidelines and State regulations for Gifted and Talented Education. Each EGATE school submits a comprehensive application which provides documentation of 21 criteria of excellence under four program objectives: student identification, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and program management and evaluation.

In the five years of the award’s existence, 33 schools from 10 school systems have earned the EGATE status. Members from the Maryland Advisory Council for Gifted and Talented Education and local school system personnel review and score the EGATE applications, which document the school’s gifted and talented program activities over a 15 month period.

This year’s new EGATE schools will be recognized during Maryland’s Gifted and Talented Education month at a reception and awards ceremony on February 25 from 5– 8 p.m. at North County High School in Glen Burnie.

EGATE schools receive a citation from the Governor, and the EGATE banner to display on their school buildings and websites. They host celebratory visits from Advisory Council members and MSDE staff and serve as models for other schools that want to achieve this status.

More information on the EGATE School Awards Program is available at http://marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/giftedtalented. Schools interested in applying for the 2015 EGATE program will submit applications to MSDE for review by November 20, 2015.

Gun Law Passed in Maryland

Governor O'Malley of Maryland Vote on Gun Laws is Passed in the Senate Today 2-28-2013 According to the governor,"We need a comprehensive approach that puts the focus on the practical, common sense things that we can do together to save lives," O'Malley said. "Perhaps there is no way to completely prevent the next Newtown tragedy. But then again, perhaps there is."

He continued “I think we have too many guns, and I think we have too much killing.” “You look at some of these guns, and it’s just hard to conclude that these guns should be in the hands of anyone who isn’t a soldier on a battlefield or a law enforcement officer sent into a tactical situation.”The new legislation will require gun owners, as well as new purchasers of firearms, to get fingerprinted, take eight hours of classroom study, and pay for a more extensive background check. In addition, no one will be able to buy a so-called “assault weapon” or purchase a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. The bill will also tighten up limits on gun ownership by residents committed against their will for mental health treatment.

Guilty of Producing Child Pornography

1-7-2013 According to ice.gov GREENBELT, Md. — Joshua P. Blakenship, 25, of Solomons, Md., pleaded guilty today to producing child pornography, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

As part of his plea agreement, Blakenship must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

"Joshua Blankenship is typical of the predators children routinely encounter on the Internet," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to his plea agreement, Blakenship "friended" a teenage girl on Facebook in January 2011. They exchanged text messages and by March 2011, Blankenship asked the girl for a nude photo of herself. The girl sent Blakenship a nude photo she took on her cell phone.

On July 4, 2011, Blankenship sent a text message to the girl demanding 10 nude pictures and said that if she did not produce and send the photos, she would go to jail because she had sent an illegal image on her cell phone. Between July 5 and 7, 2011, Blakenship sent numerous texts describing the images he wanted her to produce and threatening to call the police if she refused. The victim produced several dozen pictures and sent them to Blakenship.

Blakenship was identified and his residence searched Aug. 5, 2011. Blakenship admitted to forcing people under the age of 18 to send him pictures and to creating a fake profile on the Internet to gain access to pictures and videos of girls.

Blakenship and the government have agreed that if the court accepts the plea agreement Blakenship will be sentenced to 12 years in prison at his March 15 sentencing before U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

911 For Mortgage Fraud Victims

3-1-2012 The settlement states, the accord follows an extensive investigation into foreclosure abuses, fraud, and unacceptable mortgage servicing practices such as "robo-signing."

The settlement will help thousands of Marylanders stay in their homes through enhanced loan modifications and other services. It also requires comprehensive reform of mortgage loan servicing standards, changing the way these banks will deal with customers in the future.

This landmark agreement - the largest of its kind in Maryland history - is between the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation's Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, the Federal government, and the nation's five largest mortgage servicers, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, and Ally Bank/GMAC. 50 states entered into the agreement.

According to the Maryland.gov web site:The settlement money will be used for:

* Individual payments to borrowers who were victims of these banks' unfair servicing practices and were foreclosed upon between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011;

* Loss mitigation programs, such as loan modifications (including principal reductions), forbearance plans, and short sales for homeowners with loans serviced by the five big banks who are behind on or very likely to soon fall behind on their mortgage payments due to financial circumstances;

* Refinancing for homeowners with loans owned and serviced by the five big banks who are current in their payments but who owe more than their homes are worth; and

* Housing counseling and other state-level foreclosure prevention and housing programs.

The settlement includes mechanisms to ensure the banks comply. A federal judge and an independent monitor will oversee the banks' compliance, and federal agencies, state attorneys general, and bank regulators can enforce compliance if there are violations the banks do not fix promptly. The settlement also builds in incentives designed to ensure prompt compliance, including a large monetary penalty if the banks do not meet targets for distributing the benefits required by the settlement on time.

The settlement does not release the banks from criminal liability. It does not prevent individuals from bringing their own claims. And it will not stop our office from pursuing the banks over misconduct in the securitization of mortgages, fair lending violations, or other fraud. People should expect to see further action. Call the Maryland Hope Hotline 1-877-462-7555

photograph of geese in Chesapeake Bay by diane knaus

Diane Knaus ©2007 -2012

Board of Public Works Approves $19 Million in Grants for Clean Water and the Chesapeake Bay

1-31-2012 The Maryland Board of Public Works approved more than $19 million in grants to reduce pollution and improve water quality by upgrading technology at wastewater treatment plants. The Board is composed of Governor Martin O’Malley, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown represented Governor O’Malley at the meeting.

"Projects such as these are an important part of our effort to improve Maryland waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay,” said Lieutenant Governor Brown. “These projects reduce pollution and protect public health while creating jobs for more Marylanders.”

The following projects were approved in the following locations:

Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Upgrade – Baltimore City:

A $10 million Bay Restoration Fund grant and a $5 million Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Projects grant to Baltimore City, in addition to a previous $5 million Bay Restoration Fund grant, will help fund the planning and design of Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) facilities at the existing 180 million gallons per day Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge by 67 percent, significantly reducing the amount of nutrients discharged into Back River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland City Water Reclamation Facility Enhanced Nutrient Removal Upgrade – Anne Arundel County:

A $2,973,000 Bay Restoration Fund grant to Anne Arundel County, in addition to a previous $500,000 Bay Restoration Fund grant, will help fund the planning, design and construction of Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) facilities at the existing 2.5 million gallons per day Maryland City Water Reclamation Facility. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge by 62.5 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 70 percent, significantly reducing the amount of nutrients discharged into the Upper Patuxent River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Westminster Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Upgrade – Carroll County:

A $1 million Bay Restoration Fund grant to the City of Westminster, in addition to a previous $20,000 Bay Restoration Fund grant, will help fund the planning, design and construction of Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) facilities at the existing 5 million gallons per day Westminster Wastewater Treatment Plant. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge by 62.5 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 85 percent, significantly reducing the amount of nutrients discharged into the Upper Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Gas House Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Upgrade – Frederick County:

A $758,000 Bay Restoration Fund grant to the City of Frederick will help fund the design and construction of Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) refinements and an Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) upgrade at the existing 8 million gallons per day Gas House Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge by 67 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 85 percent, significantly reducing the amount of nutrients discharged into the Monocacy River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Advancing Wind Jobs/Energy in Maryland 

11-7-2011 Maryland's economy is increasingly an Innovation Economy - and clean-tech, and green-tech are a big part of that:

• We have set some of America's most aggressive goals for decreasing energy consumption in our State;

• We've raised our Renewable Portfolio Standard to 20% by 2022.

• We led the charge for RGGI, the nation's first cap-and-trade auction of greenhouse gas,...

• We've set an aggressive goal for decreasing our state's carbon footprint; and

• We've been succeeding at creating green jobs at places like GM's plant in Baltimore County, where we're going to create more than 800 jobs because we convinced GM to build their next generation electric motor in Maryland, rather than Mexico.

Today, we have on-shore wind turbines spinning in Western Maryland, and we are very much committed to making off-shore a reality off the coast of Ocean City.

As you know, it's been projected that there are enough wind resources off the Eastern Seaboard to generate more power than the region uses.

Our greatest challenges are not primarily financial nor are they technological. They are political.

None of us can sugarcoat the political challenges we face. Our Administration proposed legislation in Maryland's General Assembly to promote offshore wind, which came up short in our most recent legislative session.

Nationally, the 1705 loan guarantee program has now ended, the investment tax credit is in danger of expiring, and one party in Congress - which relies heavily on campaign contributions from the oil and gas industries - continues to insist on standing in the way of job-creating progress on cleaner, greener energy.

So the political obstacles we face are significant. But there are things we can do together.

In Maryland, one of the things we're doing - along with our neighbors in Delaware - is reaching out to the federal government. We are proposing to team with our federal partners, who have 58 facilities in Maryland, on power purchase agreements for off-shore wind energy.

There's a successful model for this in Maryland. Through an initiative called Clean Horizons, we've entered into three power purchase agreements for clean energy in tandem with our state university system. Thus far, we are projecting that through Clean Horizons, we'll bring enough clean power onto our grid to support 20,000 homes or 16% of our state government's energy load.

But here's the best part: by entering these agreements, we've been able to create 250 construction jobs, and leverage more than $320 million in private investment.

Governor of Maryland Martin O'Malleys Message

Protecting our Future

12-1-2010 Yesterday, I joined Senate President Miller and House Speaker Busch to talk with newly-elected legislators about the future of our State. Because of the tough choices we've made together over the past four years, Maryland is weathering the national economic storm better than other states.

Our mission continues to be creating jobs, saving jobs, strengthening public safety, improving public education, and protecting our quality of life. Together, we are moving into the new economy stronger. Since January, we've created 40,600 jobs - a rate of job growth that is more than twice the national rate and our best January to October since 2000. Together, we have reduced spending and maintained our Triple A bond rating. Even in tough times, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has named Maryland as one of the best states for innovation and entrepreneurship in America, and Education Week magazine has certified our public schools as #1 in the nation for two years in a row.

font face="Arial" size="2">As we continue to make progress, we will have to make more tough choices – and those will begin with the choices in this upcoming legislative session. But with every decision we make, we will always keep in mind the hardworking families in every neighborhood and community throughout our State.

Together, we are fighting for the next generation's future. The people of our State have the skills, talents, creativity and education that we need to move forward. Maryland remains at the epicenter of science, healing, security and innovation. There is not another place anywhere in our country better poised to take advantage of the challenges we face and turn them into jobs and opportunity than Maryland.

Martin O'Malley

Governor

CFTC in Washington Charges South Carolina Man Ronald E. Satterfield, His Two Companies and Michigan Resident Nicholas Bos with Operating a Multi-Million Dollar Foreign Currency Ponzi Scheme in Four States

11-16-2010 Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that it charged Ronald E. Satterfield of Charleston, S.C., his South Carolina-based companies, Graham Street Forex Group, LLC and Shore-2-Summit Financial, LLC, and Nicholas Bos of Ludington, Mich., with operating a foreign currency (forex) Ponzi scheme that fraudulently solicited more than $3.3 million from more than 70 individuals in South Carolina, North Carolina, Michigan and Maryland. The defendants also allegedly misappropriated a significant portion of customer funds for their personal use.

The CFTC complaint, filed under temporary seal on November 8, 2010, also names Bos’ wife, Patricia L. Bos, as a relief defendant, because she allegedly received funds as a result of the defendants’ fraudulent conduct and has no legitimate entitlement to those funds.

On November 9, 2010, the Honorable Richard M. Gergel of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina entered a restraining order freezing the defendants’ assets and prohibiting the destruction of books and records. The order also requires defendants to account for assets.

Specifically, the CFTC complaint alleges that, from at least March 2006 through March 2009, defendants solicited and accepted funds from retail investors to engage in leveraged or margined forex transactions. The CFTC complaint charges that Satterfield, in his solicitations, misrepresented that he was a successful forex trader, falsely guaranteed customers monthly returns of two to four percent based on his forex trading and falsely claimed that there would be no risk to customers’ principal investment. Satterfield allegedly made material omissions of fact by failing to disclose that 1) not all of the customer funds that he, Graham Street and Shore-2-Summit collected were used to trade forex and 2) customer funds were used to pay returns to other customers and for payments to Bos and other agents, as is typical of a Ponzi scheme.

Despite receiving at least $3.3 million from customers since 2006, Satterfield placed only about $1.9 million of customers’ funds in known forex trading accounts, virtually all of which was lost as a result of his unsuccessful forex trading. Overall, Satterfield failed to generate any profits through his forex trading, according to the complaint.

The complaint charges that, to conceal and perpetuate their fraud, Satterfield and Bos issued false customer account statements reflecting the promised returns and forex trading profits, when in fact Satterfield’s forex trading resulted in losses almost every month. The false statements also allegedly concealed their misappropriation of customer funds. In total, the complaint charges Satterfield and Bos with misappropriating more than $850,000 of customer funds for personal use. Defendant Bos, for example, allegedly used $295,000 of customer funds to purchase a personal residence in Michigan, which was titled in the names of Nicholas and Patricia Bos. Since March 2009, defendants have failed to make promised monthly customer payments and to honor customers’ redemption requests, according to the complaint.

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks rescission of all contracts and agreements, restitution to defrauded customers, a return of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, permanent registration bans and a permanent injunction prohibiting trading and further violations of the federal commodities laws.

Jobs Across Maryland Tour

Governor Martin O'Malley Continues "Jobs Across Maryland Tour" at Morgan Stanley Location Opening

BALTIMORE, MD (June 10, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley joined officials from Baltimore City, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Morgan Stanley today as he continued his “Jobs Across Maryland Tour” at the move-in ceremony for Morgan Stanley’s new Baltimore location at the Thames Street Wharf. The move is part of a long-planned expansion for the company in Baltimore that will immediately move 600 employees into the new location, create an additional 900 jobs in the next decade, and make Morgan Stanley one of Baltimore’s largest financial institutions. Morgan Stanley now occupies 139,000 square feet in the new Thames Street Wharf, making it the first tenant of the first major structure of the 27-acre Harbor Point development in Baltimore. 505 construction jobs were supported during the project.

“If you compare Maryland to virtually any State in America, we are in better position to rebound stronger and sooner. But it won’t happen automatically, and that’s why we are urgently focused on creating and saving jobs,” said Governor O’Malley. “Morgan Stanley’s expansion and creation of 1,500 jobs in Baltimore is a win for the City, the people of Maryland, and our economy. And because this is a redevelopment of previously abandoned and contaminated land, it’s a win for our planet.”

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development provided the company with $7.5 million in conditional grants from the Sunny Day fund to assist in the project. Morgan Stanley also benefited from Job Creation Tax Credit, which offers $1,000 tax credit per newly created job to businesses to encourage expansion or relocation to Maryland. This is a separate credit from the Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit created by Governor O’Malley this year. Morgan Stanley also benefited from the One Maryland Tax Credit, which is granted to businesses that invest in an economic development project in a qualified distressed county, such as Baltimore City. In addition, by virtue of falling within a Maryland Enterprise Zone and a Baltimore Empowerment Zone, the project qualified for additional state credits and various federal credits.

“Morgan Stanley is proud to have a presence in Baltimore and we are grateful to the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore and our other partners for their close collaboration and assistance as we expand our operations at our new Thames Street Wharf building,” said Stephen Daffron, Global Head of Operations at Morgan Stanley. “We are committed to fulfilling the job creation milestones we have established in conjunction with the State of Maryland and to serving as a responsible and dedicated member of the Baltimore community.”

From the early 1900s through the 1980s, the property was home to Allied Signal Baltimore Works, a chromium processing plant. The plant closed in 1985. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment entered into a consent decree with Allied Signal for further investigation and cleanup of the Baltimore Works facility. Remediation of the former Allied Signal site took more than 10 years and $100 million to complete.

“Thames Street Wharf has become a national model for public/private partnership,” said Michael Beatty, President of H&S Properties Development Corporation. “We are here today because of the leadership and collaboration of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Maryland, Maryland Department of the Environment, the City of Baltimore, Honeywell and Morgan Stanley. We are thrilled that Morgan Stanley chose Harbor East for its new business services center in Maryland -- at what we believe to be the greatest mixed-use waterfront location on the entire East Coast.”

Maryland remains one of only eight states to retain a Triple A bond rating, certified by all three rating agencies. With an unemployment rate more than 20 percent below the national average, Maryland created more than 36,000 jobs between February and April. Over the same period, every job growth sector experienced gains, particularly in those areas of the economy that have struggled during the recession. Construction jobs gained by 7,200, leisure and hospitality gained more than 12,000 jobs, and manufacturing added 700 jobs.

Recently, Governor O’Malley announced InvestMaryland, an initiative that will create a public private partnership to fuel venture capital investment, creating thousands of jobs and providing the Maryland Venture Fund and private venture partners with $100 million to directly invest in Maryland firms and the potential to unlock hundreds of millions and perhaps billions in economic activity. During the 2010 legislative session, Governor O’Malley successfully fought for the creation of the Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit, which provides businesses with a $5,000 tax credit for every unemployed Marylander it hires. Also during the session, the Governor worked with the General Assembly, labor leaders, and business interests to fix and stabilize the broken and nearly bankrupt unemployment insurance trust fund.

In addition, Governor O’Malley has championed efforts to increase access to credit for Maryland small businesses, by creating the Small Business Loan Guaranty Program and pushing for efforts in Washington to target TARP funds for this purpose

6-2-2010 A Message from the Governor

Investing in Innovation

Yesterday we announced a new, major initiative aimed at spurring investment and creating jobs in Maryland's growing innovative industries, called InvestMaryland. Maryland's "Innovation Economy," including life sciences, biotechnology, and cybersecurity, is a driving force behind our recent jobs gains. And in order for these industries to continue creating jobs, they must have access to the necessary capital to advance innovation.

It must be our goal to convert more of our federal research and development investments into jobs and economic opportunity. Venture capital, as we all know, is a key ingredient. InvestMaryland will create a public private partnership to fuel venture capital investment, creating thousands of jobs and providing the Maryland Venture Fund and private venture partners with $100 million to directly invest in Maryland firms and the potential to unlock hundreds of millions and perhaps billions in economic activity.

The discoveries, technologies and innovation that are being advanced every day in laboratories, universities, and companies throughout Maryland hold the promise and potential to remake our economy and our world. They can revolutionize the way we feed, fuel, and heal our planet. This year, we've increased the Biotech Tax Credit, championed a tax credit to get Maryland's unemployed back to work, and expanded small business loan guarantees to increase access to credit.

InvestMaryland will leverage these efforts and drive even more in economic activity through strategic capital investments in our "Innovation Economy."

Martin O'Malley

Governor

 

Maryland Crime Way Down

5-10-2010 Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Violent Crime Rate at Its Lowest Level Since 1975. Official 2009 statewide crime data show dramatic overall crime reductions.

LARGO, MD (May 10, 2010) –Joined by law enforcement officials, including U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89, Governor Martin O’Malley today announced historic reductions in crime in Maryland for 2009.

According to 2009 year-end crime data compiled by the Maryland State Police and submitted to the FBI for use in the national crime statistics report, Maryland’s violent crime rate is at its lowest level in Maryland since modern crime-tracking began in 1975.

Similarly, total crime declined to its lowest level since 1975, as have homicides, dropping 12 percent since 2008 with 57 fewer people murdered last year in Maryland than the year before. “Protecting the public’s safety is the greatest obligation of government at every level,” said Governor O’Malley. “It is not by chance, but by choice that even in tough economic times, we’ve delivered results for the people of Maryland, driving down crime throughout our One Maryland to its lowest levels in recorded history.

Working together, we’re aligning our efforts between state, local, county, and federal law enforcement and government at levels never before seen in our State. These statewide figures are also reflected in Prince George’s County, where Governor O’Malley made today’s announcement.

Overall crime is at its lowest level in the County since 1975, with violent crime in the County is at its lowest level since 1984 and automobile thefts dropping to the lowest level since 1985. “I want to thank Governor O’Malley for his commitment to public safety that has led to record crime reduction across our state in 2009,” Johnson said.

“During difficult times, many questioned our methods in reducing crime, but today I am proud that we stayed the course and reached record crime reduction in Prince George’s County in 2008 and 2009.”

Statewide, data for 2009 show reductions compared to 2008 not only in homicides but also in motor vehicle theft (-23.0%), robbery (-9.0%), aggravated assault (-3.0%), breaking and entering (-5.0%), and larceny-theft (-6.0%). Twenty jurisdictions reported reductions in total crime, with nine reporting double-digit reductions between 2008 and 2009.

Fifteen jurisdictions noted specific reductions in violent crime (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), with seven reporting double-digit decreases.

Twenty-two jurisdictions noted specific reductions in property crime (breaking and entering, larceny/theft, and motor vehicle theft), with eight jurisdictions reporting reductions of 10 percent or more.

“For the last three years, Governor O'Malley has directed State public safety agencies to engage in the local fight against crime like never before,” said Kristen Mahoney, Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

“By focusing on improving violent probationer compliance, reducing illegal gun trafficking, increasing warrant service, and applying the most effective law enforcement technology and information sharing strategies to our collective fight against violent crime, I am proud to stand with the Governor and our partners on the federal, state and local levels to realize a safer Maryland.

Governor O’Malley tasked the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention with forming both local partnerships, and working partnerships across borders of neighboring states and the District of Columbia to crack down on violent criminals.

At today’s announcement, Governor O’Malley highlighted some of the programs implemented in the last three years that have contributed to these dramatic reductions, including: Public Safety Dashboard: A database of life-saving information shared with 16,000 law enforcement officers and government servants in more than 100 agencies. This innovative approach to information sharing currently registers between 25,000 and 40,000 hits per day.

License Plate Recognition Software: Through the application of advanced license plate reader technologies, funded largely through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, local and State law enforcement is delivering real results to crack down on auto theft.

Motor vehicle theft dropped 23 percent statewide last year compared to 2008. Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force:

Through innovative cross border collaboration, this task force comprised of law enforcement agencies from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, has issued 1,000 warrants to help make neighborhoods safer in the DC Metro area. Violence Prevention Initiative:

This innovative approach to managing and supervising the most violent offenders has driven violent crime down in Maryland to its lowest levels since 1975.

Crime data show these individuals have the greatest propensity for committing future acts of violence. Anti-gang initiatives: Resulting from reforms championed by the O’Malley-Brown Administration, Maryland agencies now share gang intelligence information among over 100 partner agencies within Maryland and with regional partners.

DNA: After inheriting a backlog of 24,000 unanalyzed and 15,000 uncollected DNA samples, Governor O’Malley allocated the necessary resources to eliminate that backlog leading to case closures and arrests of violent fugitives. In 2009 alone, 103 murderers, rapists, and other criminals who might otherwise be walking the streets, were arrested thanks to DNA technology.

Unprecedented interagency cooperation: As a result of efficiency reforms implemented by the O’Malley-Brown Administration, the Department of Parole and Probation, and Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Services, and local law enforcement cooperate and communicate at unprecedented levels, ensuring low recidivism and high rates of supervision for the most violent offenders.

Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown on Federal Recovery Funds for Health IT

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 15, 2010) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown released the following statement today applauding President Brack Obama, members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding Maryland $9.3 million to build upon existing work to create a health information exchange:

“I applaud President Obama and the members of Team Maryland for ensuring that Maryland received Federal funding to expand its health information exchange and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders. Because of their leadership, our doctors and hospitals will be able to provide our patients with the highest quality of care they demand.

“Patients and doctors need better access to information technology and a more robust platform to share important information. Late last year, I had the opportunity to meet with doctors, providers, nurses and health professionals at a number of hospitals, clinics and private practices across the state and I learned a great deal about the benefits of a strong health IT system. This Federal support will go a long way to build on the successful programs many hospitals and practices have already implemented and will, in the long run, save patients, insurers and taxpayers money.

“Governor O’Malley and I are committed to improving the quality of care and lowering costs for all Marylanders. Greater utilization of electronic health records will help us reach both of those goals and will bring our health system into the 21st Century.”

The Maryland Health Care Commission will receive $9,313,924 to help facilitate health information exchange and advance health information technology. The funds, allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvest Act, are part of the HHS $2 billion effort to achieve widespread meaningful use of health IT and provide use of an electronic health record by every citizen by 2014.

“These funds will accelerate Maryland's innovative health IT partnership between government and healthcare providers and allow them to get health information into the hands of clinicians when and where they need it,” said Secretary John M. Colmers of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

This award comes after more than three years of planning by providers, payers, consumers, and other stakeholders from across the state. A non-profit organization, Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), was selected to develop the state’s health information exchange and was awarded $10 million from the State’s unique hospital all-payer rate setting system as initial funding for the project.

“Private and secure health information exchange will assure that providers and patients have the information they need to make the best health care choices. Used together with electronic health records, the exchange will help improve treatment, prevent errors, and reduce health care costs.” said Rex Cowdry, M.D., Executive Director of the Maryland Health Care Commission.

Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown administration efforts on health care and is currently championing two pieces of legislation – the Maryland False Health Claims Act of 2010 and the Patient Centered Medical Home bill – before the Maryland General Assembly that will lower costs, improve the quality of care and protect taxpayers from Medicaid fraud.

photo of ducks

Pretty Ducks but No Seaweed for Them to Eat or Forage Around In

In Washington What the President Said About Health Care and Insurance

President Barack Obama spoke of how the rising costs of health care are stifling America’s small businesses, and how reform will strengthen these businesses and the economy. Small businesses create roughly half of all new jobs, but they also pay up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses. Too many have been forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, shed jobs, or shut their doors entirely. Health insurance reform is integral to laying a new foundation for our economy so that small businesses can grow and create new jobs.

And right now, small business' are paying up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have higher administrative costs and less bargaining power. Many have been forced to cut benefits or drop coverage. Some have shed jobs or shut their doors entirely. And recent studies show that if we fail to act now, employers will pay six percent more to insure their employees next year – and more than twice as much over the next decade.

Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.

By now, the urgency of these reforms is abundantly clear. And after long hours of thoughtful deliberation and tough negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee – the final congressional committee involved in shaping health care legislation – has finished the process of crafting their reform proposal.

As we move forward in the coming weeks, I understand that members of Congress from both parties will want to engage in a vigorous debate and contribute their own ideas. And I welcome those contributions. I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost.

Instead, I expect us to move forward with a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that characterizes our democratic process at its very best. If we do that, I am confident that we will pass reform this year, and help ensure that our entrepreneurs, our businesses, and our economy can thrive in the years ahead.

Maryland to Host 2009 World Stem Cell Summit 

More than 250 individuals today attended the First Maryland Stem Cell Research Symposium, jointly hosted by Governor Martin O'Malley and the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission. This event was the first of what will become an annual event. During the opening remarks, Governor O'Malley announced that Maryland has been selected to host the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit, which will come to Baltimore September 21 through 23. The World Stem Cell Summit brings together nearly 1,500 stem cell stakeholders from across the nation and the globe to discuss critical issues in stem cell research and discuss the future of regenerative medicine.

The symposium, held in the Kossiakoff Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, featured presentations from Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund awardees and poster presentations from over 60 Maryland-supported stem cell scientists.

The First Maryland Stem Cell Research Symposium and the announcement of Maryland as host of the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit mark two very important milestones in Maryland's emergence as a national leader in life sciences. Today's events will allow Maryland to continue to lead in life saving technologies and in this growing industry. 

The Clean Water Act

Over the last six years, the Bush administration has proposed or enacted numerous policies that weaken the Clean Water Act.  These include: two separate policies that eliminate Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands that feed and clean treasured lakes, rivers and bays; funding cuts to EPA’s budget, including significant cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund; and policies that allow more sewage pollution into waterways.

Environment Maryland called on the Bush administration to end its efforts to weaken federal clean water safeguards and for Congress to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act, legislation to ensure all U.S. waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.Bell was joined by Kathy Phillips, of Assateague Coastal Trust, who is the Assateague Coastkeeper and a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance.  Speaking on behalf of the Atlantic coastal bays watershed she commented, “The Clean Water Restoration Act goes a long way to rectify many of these issues.  It is important that the Restoration Act, as written, be supported and passed so that our wetlands, small streams, creeks, and any body of water regardless of whether it is navigable or not, are protected under the law.”

Environment Maryland urged Representative Wayne Gilchrest to mark the anniversary of the Clean Water Act by joining the 172 cosponsors of the Clean Water Restoration Act. <

“Instead of holding polluters accountable, the Bush administration is allowing more—not less-- pollution to enter our waterways.  Now more than ever, Congress should step in to protect all of America’s waters,” concluded Bell.

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Surviving a Financial Crisis

11-22-2013 The country’s welfare programs scored high marks during the Great Recession, according to a new report by Robert A. Moffitt, the Krieger-Eisenhower professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

The report, published this month in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, shows the country’s “social safety net” expanded to catch many Americans during the economic downturn, which lasted roughly from 2008 through 2009. In “The Great Recession and the Social Safety Net,” Moffitt found aggregate safety net spending rose $500 billion from 2007 to 2010. Meanwhile, caseloads rose too, from 276 million to 310 million.

Carrying the bulk of this load, he said, were the Earned Income Tax Credit, Unemployment Insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Together, the three programs accounted for about a third of the spending increase.

Other programs that expanded to meet the demand included Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security retirement and disability benefits.

“Our results show that there was a major response from the safety net to the Great Recession,” Moffitt said. “The programs did their job and made a difference – there’s no question about it.”

Spending on SNAP – food stamps – more than doubled, Moffitt found, vaulting from $30 billion in 2007 to $65 billion in 2010. The program was not only helping more people, Moffitt said, but those people were each getting slightly more assistance.

With the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal income tax refund for low to moderate income working families, spending rose from $49 to $59 billion. Spending per person actually dropped, Moffitt found. The growth was entirely due to an increase in the number of recipients.

Medicaid spending also rose during the recession, from $327 billion in 2007 to $401 billion in 2010, Moffitt found.

Social insurance programs grew substantially as well, with unemployment insurance showing the steepest incline – from $34 to $142 billion during the recession.

Not everyone benefited equally from the welfare increases, Moffitt discovered. He reported that families just above and just below the poverty line received most of the aid, more than the lowest earners.

The additional money went to a wide range of demographic groups, and families with and without children, he found. Somewhat less of the increase went to the elderly and the disabled.

“There have been many complaints that the U.S. safety net has been shredded and is inadequate to serve those who in need. And there have been other voices saying that government is ineffectual and that much of the money is wasted,” Moffett said.

“My findings — which I did not expect — showed that neither of these is correct. The U.S. safety net is very healthy and was extremely responsive to the Great Recession, helping families of all different types and at all different income levels.”

Moffitt will present his findings Jan. 30 at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC. The event begins at 9 a.m. in the Falk Auditorium.

For more information about “The Great Recession and the Social Safety Net” or to speak with Robert Moffitt, please contact Jill Rosen at 443-997-9906 (office), 443-547-8805 (cell) or jrosen@jhu.edu.

A Travesty of City Government in Annapolis,Md

3-27-2013 We need a more rational development on Forest Drive near Spa Road in Annapolis – the development known as Crystal Spring is not relevant, nor reasonable nor rational .Crystal Springs development plan Anne Arundel is not responsible at all except to big business.

According to the Local Sierra Club :

Proposed plans set on a footprint three times the size of Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, this proposal calls for bulldozing of at least 36 acres of forest, building on or near delicate wetlands, and putting yet more pressure on the South River and the Chesapeake Bay.

Forest Drive would be overwhelmed (they haven't even done a traffic study yet!) and 130 non age-restricted townhouses in the mini-city would put even more pressure on the school system.

Although being promoted by the developers as a continuing care facility, it is in fact is three separate projects, including 240,000-square-feet of commercial space and an 80-room hotel.This development must not go through, once you lose the forest footprint it will never be replaced and that would be a drastically wrong headed action for our future environmental impact.

We're working with other concerned groups in the area and have created a special website, with a lot more information and a link to a petition you can sign. www.crystalspringfacts.com

National Womens Month in the White House

3-19-2013 President Obama used his remarks at the event to make a personnel announcement, revealing that he is nominating Cathy Russell, who has served as Dr. Jill Biden's Chief of Staff and is a longtime advocate for women, as the next Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues:

It’s women like Cathy, like Jill, like Amanda, like Michelle, like all of you, that inspire so much progress each and every day. And I’ve got to tell you, all of you inspire me to make sure that I’m doing everything that I can as President to carry on that progress, and to do everything we can to ensure equality and opportunity for all women.

Just last week, I was proud to sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act -– a law, by the way, that Cathy helped to make possible in the first place, securing for women the protections and the services to help them live their lives free from fear of violence and free to pursue their own measure of happiness.

And that’s what everybody deserves in this country -– the opportunity to make of their lives what they will, no matter who they are, what they look like, whether they are boys or girls, women or men. That’s why I ran for President in the first place –- to put the same rights and opportunities within the reach of all of our daughters and sons. And while there’s still a lot of work to be done, I am confident that we can reach that goal, that we can make sure that every single door is open, every dream is within reach -- for Malia, for Sasha, for your daughters, for your granddaughters -- to make sure that they never feel like there are barriers in front of them, and that if they work hard, they can make it.

5 Stars Fast Food at Gino's

12-7-2012 Review:Do you remember football great Gino Marchetti of the Baltimore Colts. He was named as the “greatest defensive end in pro football history” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

In 1959 he and teammate Alan Ameche joined together to open a fast food restaurant called Gino’s in the Baltimore area, and It was an instant hit. I was only one of thousands of people who frequented the restaurant at that time.

Tonight I was in the newest one in Glen Burnie,Maryland to enjoy what I had hoped was a replica of the Classic Gino’s Giant burger. It was indeed a smash and the tangy sauce tasted just like their original recipe. My French fries were fresh n’ hot and browned. Trust me I have eaten a lot of them.

Now their menu features the regular Gino’s Giant burger Classic sandwich, grilled or breaded chicken sandwiches, wraps and salads, their famous chili fries, shakes made with Eddy's Ice Çream and fountain drinks.

The atmosphere is warm, clean and the waitstaff is clean cut, very polite and you can tell well trained. None of them had facial piercing or tattoos showing, nor did the boys wear pants that hung below their waist line.

Approaching the counter to order my food a cashier takes my order and then gives me a number to take to my table. Then the waitstaff brings the order to the table. Each one comes in a basket with red and white checkered basket liners to match the restaurants warm red and light grey wall colors. On the table were signs that read the company is engaging in green restauranting as the waitstaff will take your trash and recycle it for you.

If you are not eating in, after you order there are a couple of stuffed benches where you can site down until the order is ready, and a waitstaffer brings the food to you.

In the inner part of the restaurant there is a photograph of Gino and his jersey in the back part of the four seating sections. Their booths are comfortable and big enough to accompany adults as well as children. As I waited for my food, the music playing was Walk Like a Man My Son and other Dooo Wop tunes to match the 50’s comfortable and fun style.

The only drawback was the items on the menu were a little pricey $7.95 for a Classic Gino’s Giant burger, fries and a medium Coke. But, there were plenty of fries and they were large that looked like hand sliced.

The Glen Burnie location is # 9 and there are plans one for three more in the next year.

Rated 5 Stars -

Well trained,pleasant,clean cut wait staff, cashiers.

Fresh made to your order, food.

Quick preparation of hot food.

Clean, warm atmosphere with a touch of Gino Marchetti’s football history.

Accessible from the main highway.

911 What's News for You in the Area

911-Buy a House in Maryland Now at a 30 Year Low Rate

CROWNSVILLE, MD (October 26, 2012) – Maryland Housing Secretary Raymond A. Skinner trumpeted the astonishingly low rate of 3.25 % (APR 4.082 %) for the Maryland Mortgage Program. The rate is the lowest in the 30-year history of the state’s flagship mortgage program.

"I urge prospective buyers to lock-in these rates while they can," Secretary Skinner said. "While we cannot guarantee our rates will remain at this historic low, we can guarantee that the Maryland Mortgage Program will be competitive. With our low rates, generous downpayment and settlement cost assistance, and with the Maryland housing market showing marked improvement – now is an excellent time to buy."

The Maryland Mortgage Program offers a variety of low-interest, fixed-rate mortgage loan options with down payment and closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers; qualified veterans or purchasers in a targeted area are eligible for a one-time exemption to the first-time homebuyer requirement.

During the summer homebuying season, the department unveiled other products targeted to specific homebuyers:

Targeted Areas Initiative: offers a reduced interest rate of 2.875% (APR 3.675%) in targeted areas throughout the state, including Baltimore City.

Maryland Homefront: the Veterans and Military Family Mortgage Program: a $50 million initiative that offers half a percent rate discount off the regular MMP rate for loans reserved up to June 30, 2013 or until the program funds have been expended. Today’s announcement includes a low rate of 2.75 % (APR 2.914% for VA and APR 3.536% for FHA) for Maryland Homefront over the past few days. Conventional Mortgage Loans—just announced this month!

Today’s announcement comes after a recent announcement by Governor Martin O’Malley of positive trends in both the state and Baltimore City’s housing markets. Home sales statewide increased for the fifth consecutive month in June, marking the most home sales in one month since June of 2010.

"Recent data from the Maryland Association of Realtors indicates that housing affordability in the state has significantly improved since the housing peak of 2007 for both repeat and first time homebuyers," said DHCD Research Director Massoud Ahmadi. "Mortgage rates hover around historic lows and home prices are at 79 percent of the Maryland peak bubble price. As a result, housing affordability reached its highest August mark since 2000."

Fly Faster/Safer

2-15-2012 WASHINGTON – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John S. Pistole today announced the expansion of TSA Pre✓™, a passenger pre-screening initiative, to additional airports across the country following the program’s success at seven pilot locations.

With more than 336,000 passengers screened to date through TSA Pre✓™ lanes, this screening concept enhances security by enabling TSA to focus its efforts on passengers the agency knows less about while providing expedited screening for travelers who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying.

“Good, thoughtful, sensible security by its very nature facilitates lawful travel and legitimate commerce,” said Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The expansion of TSA Pre✓™ to the nation’s busiest airports will increase our security capabilities and expedite the screening process for travelers we consider our trusted partners.” “TSA Pre✓™ moves us closer to our goal of delivering the most effective and efficient screening by recognizing that most passengers do not pose a threat to security,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “We are pleased to expand this important effort, in collaboration with our airline and airport partners, as we move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more intelligence-driven, risk-based transportation security system.”

TSA Pre✓™ is currently operating with American Airlines at airports in Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and with Delta Air Lines at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis. US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are all opting in new passengers and will begin operations later this year.

Top Ten Airports For a Quicker Checkin

As part of the initiative’s expansion, TSA Pre✓™ will be implemented at the following ten airport locations throughout 2012:

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

Denver International Airport (DEN)

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

Honolulu International Airport (HNL)

Indianapolis International Airport (IND)

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

To see the complete list go to:http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20120208-tsa-precheck-pilot-expands.shtm

Johns Hopkins New Facilities

1-31-2012 A new era will begin at the nation’s top hospital in April 2012, when The Johns Hopkins Hospital opens its new $1.1 billion patient care building. The 1.6 million-square-foot facility erected on five acres is believed to be one of the nation’s largest hospital construction projects. It includes two 12-story patient towers, 560 private patient rooms, 33 state-of-the-art, spacious operating rooms, and expansive new adult and pediatric emergency departments. The facility will also feature the most sophisticated diagnostic imaging equipment, such as an intraoperative MRI scanner and high-speed, low-dose CT scanners.

With healing gardens, soaring lobbies, a hand-picked art collection and cheerful, light-filled patient rooms, the new building is designed to provide a welcoming and caring environment to advance the healing process. Each patient room will have a private bath and sleeping accommodations for family members. Sound-absorbing features in patient care corridors, ranging from acoustical ceiling tiles to a quiet nurse call system, will promote a tranquil environment.

“The opening of our new patient care facilities will be a transformative milestone in the history of Johns Hopkins Medicine,” says Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “For more than a century, patients have come to Johns Hopkins from throughout Baltimore, the nation and the world for the best possible, evidence-based, patient-centered care. Our new facilities will enable us to provide that excellent care with greater comfort and privacy for our patients and their families in a state-of-the-art environment,” adds Miller.

During the hospital stay, patients, family members and visitors can experience hotel-like amenities, including valet parking and an interactive television network with Internet, movies, games and clinical team updates. Enhanced food-ordering options also will be available, made possible by the construction of a 30,000-square-foot kitchen with an array of high-tech equipment to supplement the existing hospital kitchen.

The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center will move into one of the towers, which is named The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center, in honor of the mother of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Charlotte R. Bloomberg died at the age of 102 in 2011. The other tower is named the Sheikh Zayed Tower, honoring the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who served as the first president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). His son, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is the current UAE president, wanted to pay tribute to his father in this way.

The Sheikh Zayed Tower will house the full range of cardiovascular services, as well as neurology services and neurosurgery, labor and delivery and a wide range of surgical procedures, such as transplant, trauma, orthopedic and general surgery. A helistop will be located on the rooftop of the Sheikh Zayed Tower for patients who arrive by helicopter.

Both towers are joined at the base by an 8-story building, which includes operating rooms located on three floors and separate diagnostic imaging services for pediatric and adult patients. From the main floor, patients will enter the new Adult and Pediatric Emergency Departments featuring private treatment bays and a full array of radiology equipment to provide imaging services around the clock. Public areas will have a food market/garden bistro, a television studio for pediatric patients, a gift shop, a conference center and a guest services office.

Sustainable Development for Baltimore

11-29-11 Grants will create jobs, improve housing, transportation and economic vitality of the Baltimore Region.Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake welcomed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Acting Deputy Secretary Estelle Richman to announce that the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) as one of the recipients of the 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants, totaling over $97 million. Twenty seven communities and organizations will receive Community Challenge grants and Baltimore is one of 29 regional areas that will receive a Regional Planning grant. The $3.5 million dollar grant will be used to create a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development for the entire Baltimore Region. The goal of the Sustainable Communities grants is to help communities and regions improve their economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation.

“Our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy and create jobs is dependent upon how quickly and efficiently we can connect our workers and families to education and employment opportunities.” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “This year we are especially proud that we had a particular focus on funding proposals that included more chambers of commerce and economic development corporations as core partners.

“On behalf of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, I want to thank HUD for their support of the Baltimore region,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council Chair. “This grant is going to help us plan for the future, and together improve our long-term strategies for housing, transportation, and workforce development.”

The Regional Plan in Baltimore will follow an 8 phase process over the next three years that will incorporate housing, transportation, and workforce development strategies to drive growth and investment over the next 25 years.

"I'm so proud that the Baltimore Metropolitan Council is tackling the question of the region's long-term sustainability," said U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, a senior member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee that funds HUD. "This grant will help make sure the Baltimore region stays competitive for residents and businesses alike, so everyone can have a piece of the American dream."

Baltimore’s regional plan will produce stand alone regional housing and workforce development plans as well as a series of robust demonstration efforts in green and healthy housing, watershed protection, transit oriented development along with a financing plan to fund the work.

“These grants will be leveraged with local funds more than doubling the investment and, helping to create new visions for how communities and regions plan for housing, transportation, workforce development and the quality of life of their residents for generations to come,” said Richman. “When 52% of the average working family’s income is devoted to housing and transportation costs alone, we know that we have a responsibility to fix that and to provide housing and transportation options that can improve their quality of life and economic stability.”

Richman and U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings presented the grant check to the BMC this morning.

“Part of rebuilding our economy will be rebuilding our nation,” said Cummings. “We must create new transportation and workforce infrastructures that allow us to take advantage of the incredible new technologies and practices that our country is at the forefront of creating. This grant will help Baltimore create jobs and protect our beautiful natural resources so that our children and children yet unborn will be able to experience a nation better, stronger and more advanced than the one we were given.”

Wind Jobs in Maryland

11-7-2011 So simply put, wind energy means jobs. Jobs like the 285 being supported by on-shore wind turbines spinning in Western Maryland. Jobs like the 2,000 construction, manufacturing and assembly jobs – and 400 permanent jobs – that we could create if we’re able to do off-shore wind because there’s even more renewable wind energy off the coast than there is here on the land.

Of all the challenges we face as a country, and of all the tough decisions we have to make together as a people, our top priority must be jobs. And one of the great ironies of these times is that the very immensity of the global challenges we face in regards to things like climate change, are driving job-creating innovations in states like ours.

But it is an economic and historic fact that for a modern economy to create jobs, modern investments are required.

So together, we are making a $75,000 investment in this turbine with Windswept grant funds secured through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act – that critically important piece of legislation that President Obama advanced and kept us from sinking into the second Great Depression. And in the energy field, we’re starting to see some significant signs of energy investments like this one coming up around our country.

And to make today possible, we provided Chesapeake College with what we call an ane… anemometer loan – I practiced that ten times in the car. [Laughter] An anemometer loan. What is an anemometer loan? It is a loan of equipment that tells you whether you have enough wind in a spot, running consistently enough that would support an investment like this. In other words, do you have an actual resource of wind coming in consistently enough so that you would recoup the cost by the energy that’s being generated.

All residences and businesses with at least one acre are eligible to apply for these sorts of loans, so that they can find whether your farm or your community college campus might have the wind resources sufficient to make this kind of investment. And you can do so through the Maryland Energy Administration’s website at energy.maryland.gov. Or if you’d like to shake the hand of a real live human being who works at your Maryland Energy Administration, we have Malcolm Woolf – you can talk to him about that. And we also have Brent Hare who is also here from the Maryland Energy Administration.

With wind energy, clean-tech and green-tech leading the way, Maryland is making progress in energy innovation and achieveing important goals.

And you know, we have set some of the more aggressive goals for decreasing energy consumption in our State by 15% by 2015.

We have raised our Renewable Portfolio Standard. That is to say, our goal is that by 2022 to be able to say that we are now, within all of our electricity consumption, 20% of it is generated by renewable sources –whether it’s waste energy, whether it’s solar, whether it’s wind.

We have led the charge for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first cap-and-trade auction for greenhouse gas.

And we set an aggressive goal for decreasing our state’s carbon footprint, and wind is a part of all of that.

So in conclusion, to create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments. It also requires leadership. It also requires vision. And Barbara, I thank you for your leadership and your vision.

Our country rates #1 in the world in innovation. Our greatest challenges are not primarily financial, nor are they technological. They’re really a question of will.

I want to close with a certain multiple choice contest for you. Our nation’s motto is:

A. Eat Cake and Lose Weight.

C. In God We Trust.

C… of course, in God’s country, on the Eastern Shore.

In God We Trust that one person can make a difference. In God We Trust that each of us must try. And In God We Trust that the greatest privilege we have in our short time on this planet is to make the world a better place for the next generation. A place that’s cleaner, a place that’s healthier, a place where jobs and opportunities are expanding. And that’s what this Innovation Economy and these actions are really all about.

Thank you all so very, very much for your leadership.

Baltimore Email Safety Program 

7-1-2011 Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a new citywide email and text alert subscription service for Baltimore City residents to receive important updates and alerts from city agencies. The new service begins today first with the Baltimore Police Department and will provide important text and email alerts for issues related to public safety and crime. Residents can sign up to Baltimore Police Department alerts by individual police districts and neighborhoods if desired.

“I am very pleased to be able to provide this new service to Baltimore City residents so they are able to stay informed about important public safety issues and other city services,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “This new system is an important addition to our efforts to improve transparency and communication with the citizens of Baltimore using technology and social media.”

“I encourage all of our neighborhood residents to participate in this new service,” said Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld, III. “Mayor Rawlings-Blake and I are deeply committed to continuing to improve communications between the Baltimore Police Department and the community.”

To subscribe to the service and obtain updates from the Baltimore Police Department, visit: http://www.baltimorepolice.org/contact-us/police-alerts-and-community-advisories.

Annettes Cakery

6-1-2010 Annettes Cakery in Severna Park, Maryland. New geat tasting Gelato and classic cakes baked by Annette. Gelato so creamy you want to say

Yum!!

My first reaction to the taste of Gelato was awesome, then Yum. What a great taste and it is 1/3 of the calories of ice cream. So much the better for my waisteline. LOL. While I was there about ten young boys ages 12 or so came in and could hardly contain themselves until they got their Gelatos. Over eighteen varieties are available, according to new owner Annette Drew. From Mango, to Dirt, to Birthday cake, to Orange, to Lemon and Mango plus. Seating is available. Coffee and classic cakes will be available on weekends, owner Annette Drew said. Annette a county resident for ten years, is best known for her baking of unusual cakes for party occasions, is glad to be in her new shop and serving happy faces.

Visit anytime between noon and 8:00p.m. :

562 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd. Md. Rte 648

Severna Park, Maryland 21146 410-315-9650 

Jobs Governor O'Malley

7-2-2010 After three straight months of job gains in Maryland, we continue to see signs everyday that Maryland is coming through this national recession stronger and more quickly than other states because of the tough choices we've made as One Maryland, investing in the next generation of jobs in our innovative, knowledge-based economy.

Recently, we launched this year's Biotech Tax Credit application process, an annual event that brings scores of biotech startups to the popular program that provides credits for biotech investments. This year's application process occurred online, with more than 100 investors and more than 20 companies seeking the credit, which we increased to an available $8 million this year.

Baltimore area hospitals are creating jobs to staff new expansions on their campuses, demonstrating Baltimore's national leadership in the healthcare industry. Thousands of jobs resulting from the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process are on their way, with one local defense contractor anticipating 200 to 300 jobs in its new office within the gates of Aberdeen Proving Ground. And the U.S. Department of Labor is providing nearly $5 million in grants to train local cyber technicians to defend the nation's interest in a growing cyber security field.

As we continue to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Maryland is already positioned to come through this stronger and more quickly than other states. The Washington area and Baltimore City each bucked national trends, adding thousands of jobs in the last ten years while many other major U.S. cities saw their job trends decline.

Martin O'Malley

Governor

Up to Date Web Site for Maryland Residents

6-1-2010 Governor Martin O'Malley recently announced the launch of "We Connect: Maryland," a website that expands upon the State's service webpage, www.problemsolver.maryland.gov

The governor announces an important improvement in comunications services to residents. To provide Marylanders with more access to state and federal resources during these challenging economic times. Governor O'Malley teamed up with California's First Lady Maria Shriver to launch a newer website to help residents with services.

The WE Connect campaign is a public/private partnership designed to help the nation's working families become more financially secure by connecting them to important programs and resources. Many of these programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Women, Infant and Children's Program, are available to individuals and families, but are not fully taken advantage of. This nationwide campaign connects those eligible with the information and tools they need to access these valuable resources, empowering them to live their dreams.

Marylanders can visit www.Maryland.weconnect.net

Financial Literacy for Maryland

Comptroller Peter Franchot joined an unparalleled coalition of supporters today calling for passage of legislation mandating a financial literacy graduation requirement for all Maryland students. Students, parents, educators and business leaders rallied for better financial education.

"The time is now for Maryland to become the fourth state in the nation to require a standalone course in financial literacy as a high school graduation requirement," Comptroller Franchot said. "I believe that fewer people would be drowning in debt today and facing the loss of their homes, their credit ratings and their financial security if they had been armed with a financial education. We don't have time to wait," he added.

"If everybody has the knowledge they need, then they'll be able to avoid financial tragedy, like foreclosure and credit card debt and that, in the end, helps everybody," student Aaron Moore said.

"Students are required to learn basic math calculations yet we don't require that they learn the importance of credit scores or saving," said Kevin Murley, a teacher at Montgomery Blair High School. "The result is that most Americans learn these topics on the fly or fall prey to a financial system for which they are unprepared to enter. The misconceptions high school kids have about finance are too many to fathom."

Banking and financial industry leaders recognize the importance of a financial education in protecting young people's futures as well.

"As we examine the impact of the recent recession, it has become increasingly clear that our high school students would benefit from additional education and insight about the decisions that will affect their financial position over time," said David Beck, vice president for The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

"Without a thorough understanding of the importance of saving, borrowing, investing and credit, our children become vulnerable to developing blemished credit histories, paying higher and more frequent fees on late payments, paying higher interest rates on loans and building unmanageable levels of debt and a diminished quality of life," said Rodney Staatz, president and CEO of the State Employees Credit Union. "We should not wait any longer to make sure all of our students graduate with at least a basic level of financial literacy," he added.

"Rarely has there been a more urgent and vital need for financial literacy in our state and for its youth than now," said Scot Stark, president and CEO of the Financial Planning Association of Maryland. "This financial literacy legislation represents the first step in that commitment and the benefits of passing it would only be exceeded by the drawbacks of not doing so," he added.

Domestic Violence Grants 2-15-2009

In recognition of Domestic Violence Being So Devastating to Families, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown today, joined by state, civic and law enforcement leaders, announced that the State of Maryland will award $1.8 million in STOP – Violence Against Women (VAWA) Federal funding grants to help victims of domestic violence. Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown also signed the Governor’s Family Violence Council Executive Order adding Attorney General Doug Gansler as a Co-chair of the Council, among other changes.

“Last year alone, 52 women, men, and children lost their lives in our State because of domestic violence, and there were nearly 20,000 cases reported to police and 41,000 protective and peace orders filed in District Court,” said Governor O’Malley. “The prevention of domestic violence and the support for the victims of these heinous crimes, improving protection, prevention, enforcement and services are among our Administration’s most urgent and pressing priorities. We must do all that we can to help Maryland’s most vulnerable citizens.”

“Domestic violence has touched too many Maryland families. I applaud Governor O’Malley’s work that has strengthened existing partnerships and forged new ones to help Maryland fight back against domestic violence,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “By working together, we can reduce the number of innocent Marylanders who have tragically become statistics.”

The Violence Against Women grants is part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which was signed into law on August 1994 as a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. VAWA created new grant programs encouraging states to address domestic violence and sexual assault including the S.T.O.P (Services and Training for Officers and Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program. The VAWA Act was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005.

VAWA funds represent the largest portion of funding of the Act and go to states to be distributed among police, prosecutors, courts and state and local victims services. In Maryland, S.T.O.P VAWA funds are administered by the Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP) under the authority of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

This year, GOCCP allocated approximately $1.8 million in grant funds to 63 organizations/agencies that encourage the development and strengthening of effective, victim-centered law enforcement, prosecution, and court strategies to combat violent crimes against women and to develop and enhance victim services that address violence against women statewide.

The Family Violence Council was created by Executive Order in 2006, but no formal appointments were made. In January of 2008 Governor Martin O’Malley appointed the 21 member Council. The Council’s mission is to provide the Governor with timely and accurate information on family violence with recommendations that will reduce and eliminate abusive behaviors. The Council had their first meeting on January 7, 2008. The Council developed three committees: Public Awareness, Data, and Legislative, and recommended that the Governor redefine the Executive Order to include the Attorney General and a member of the public.

Under the new Executive Order, the Council’s membership will be increased from 21 to 25 and will include, Lt. Governor Brown, Attorney General Gansler, Scott Patterson (the State's Attorney from Talbot County who will be representing the Maryland State's Attorney's Association), and Vicki Sadehvandi, the Executive Director of CASA in Hagerstown. Attorney General Gansler will serve as the new Chairperson of the Council. The Vice Chairs will be Jodi Finkelstein (Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County) and Cheryl Kravitz (President of CRK Communications).

“I am honored to serve as Chair of the Governor’s Family Violence Council. Prevention of domestic violence and the promotion of healthy relationships are critical to creating and sustaining a safe and just society, and I am committed to do my part to achieve these goals,” said Attorney General Gansler. “I look forward to working with Governor O'Malley, Lt. Governor Brown, and the members of this Council.”

“Domestic violence is too complex for any one agency to handle, thus the importance for a coordinated community response. Given the magnitude and impact that domestic violence has on Marylanders, we are extremely pleased that the Governor is taking the lead on the issue of domestic violence,” said Jodi Finkelstein, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County and Cheryl Kravitz, President of CRK Communications, Co-Chairs of the Family Violence Council.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. In October 1994 NCADV, in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, created the “Remember My Name” project, a national registry to increase public awareness of domestic violence deaths. Since then, NCADV has been collecting information on women who have been killed by an intimate partner and produces a poster each October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, listing the names of those documented in that year.

For more information on energy and money saving tips for your home go to www.energy.maryland.gov

Also check out www.energysavers.gov for additional winter weatherization tips.

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