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Maryland Community Colleges See 20% Increase in Dual Enrollment

The Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) announced this week that significantly more Maryland high school students are earning college credit before graduating high school. Dual enrollments at community colleges jumped 20% in fall 2014 compared to the prior year. Dual enrollment programs allow students to simultaneously enroll in high school and college.

“Saving time and money is just part of what dual enrollment is all about,” said Dr. Bernie Sadusky, Executive Director of MACC. “Dually enrolled students, especially at-risk students, often improve high school performance, and are more likely to complete college than peers who are not dually enrolled.”

According to the press release from The Maryland Association of Community Colleges,

During each semester of the 2014-15 academic year, over 5,000 Maryland high school students took college courses for credit at their local community colleges.

Discounted tuition, plus college credit earned in high school, can give students a head start on college and career, and can significantly improve college affordability and reduce student debt.

For more information about dual enrollment opportunities throughout Maryland, read the full press release from The Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

MDP Announces Reinvest Maryland Rollout at Sustainable Growth Commission Meeting

Maryland Secretary of Planning David Craig announced at the July  27, 2015, meeting of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission that the Department of Planning (MDP) plans to create a “one stop shop” on MDP’s website for Reinvest Maryland initiatives. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Reinvest Maryland is a policy created by the Commission to encourage infill, redevelopment, and revitalization within Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) and discourage new development outside of the PFAs.

Secretary Craig stressed MDP’s commitment to provide regional technical teams to help both counties and municipalities.  He also said MDP may introduce legislation to allow distressed municipalities to apply separately from their counties for financial assistance under the One Maryland program.

Commission Chair Jon Laria announced that the Commission may unveil its Sustainable Growth and Conservation Indicators (i.e., Smart Growth measures and benchmarks) prior to the MACo Summer Conference.

The Commission also heard briefings from its Neighborhood Stabilization Homeownership and Rural Economies Workgroups and received an update on the recent Montgomery County Circuit Court case that could have broad implications for local governments that have adopted a stormwater fee.

Carroll County Commission President Douglas Howard and Sykesville Mayor Ian Shaw welcomed the Commission to Carroll County and discussed the Warfield Complex Redevelopment Project.  Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild made comments about the challenges posed by: (1) the septic tiers and best available nitrogen removal technology (BAT) septic system requirements; (2) historic preservation requirements; and (3) sustainable housing policies.

For further information about the Commission meeting, please contact Les Knapp at lknapp@mdcounties.org or 410.269.0043.

Members of the Commission will be providing an update on its activities at the 2015 MACo Summer Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

 

Further Thoughts on Montgomery County Stormwater Fee Case

As previously reported on Conduit Street, a recent Montgomery County Circuit Court decision,  Paul N. Chod v. Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, 398704V, has called into question Montgomery County’s stormwater fee and may be used to challenge how the fee is assessed in other counties and municipalities.  A July 26, 2015, Baltimore Sun article offered a variety of perspectives on the potential scope of the case:

“I think it really can shake the tree,” said James L. Thompson, one of the lawyers for Paul N. Chod, whose development firm sued Montgomery County.

Thompson suggested other localities ought to take a hard look at how they assess the fees, and what credits they give for treating stormwater on-site. …

Others are not so sure. Jon Mueller, a lawyer with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said he considered the ruling “pretty narrow in scope” because it didn’t address the validity of the state law, only how the county had calculated its fees.

Leslie Knapp Jr., legal and policy director for the Maryland Association of Counties, said it’s unclear whether the ruling has broader implications, since it hinged on that provision in the new law that applies only to Montgomery County.

But if other courts apply the same logic, he said, it could force those large localities to revise their fee structure and assess charges calculated on a property-by-property basis. And, he added, the ruling also could forbid localities from using the fees to raise money for dealing with stormwater on public property, such as roads, schools or parks.

Other counties with stormwater fees are concerned that they could be subject to similar challenges:

“My concern is that we may be in a similar situation,” said Vincent J. Gardina, director of environmental protection and sustainability in Baltimore County.

Gardina and officials in Baltimore city and Anne Arundel and Howard counties all said they or their lawyers are reviewing the Montgomery decision to see if it raises questions about the legality of their fees.

“I don’t know that any of them are different from Montgomery’s,” said Jim Caldwell, acting director of Howard County’s office of sustainability, which manages its stormwater projects. …

Caldwell, Gardina and Jeff Raymond, spokesman for Baltimore’s Department of Public Works, all said their localities’ fees were designed to raise funds for dealing with more than just the runoff coming from private property.

“If you’re a property owner in Howard County, Anne Arundel, or Montgomery County, you utilize roads,” said Howard’s Caldwell.

The decision has also caught the attention of legislators:

Del. Kumar P. Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat who is chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, said his panel’s lawyers are reviewing the decision.

“It was the intent of the legislature to create an affirmative incentive for businesses to build buildings that didn’t cause runoff,” he said. So “if you have a property that genuinely doesn’t generate stormwater runoff then you probably shouldn’t be paying a fee.”

The article also noted that Montgomery County is considering whether to appeal the decision and has no immediate plans to change its fee structure.

Today is the Deadline to Register for MACo’s Summer Conference

Registration Brochure Cover - smallMACo Summer Conference
Energize. Mobilize. Capitalize
Roland Powell Convention Center
Ocean City, MD
August 12 – 15, 2015

This conference is about the challenges we can address, the actions we can take, and the strengths we can leverage to achieve the best gains for Maryland’s counties and citizens.

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REGISTRATION DEADLINE: TODAY – July 31, 2015

Regular registration rates ends on July 31 – late rates apply starting August 1.

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For more MACo Summer Conference information, click the links below:


For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.
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This registration deadline applies to ATTENDEE registration.
Please contact Leslie Velasco about exhibit booth status
or Kaley Schultze about available sponsorships.

What is the Role of Federal Facilities in Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay?

A July 22, 2015, Bay Journal article reported on recent efforts to better track the efforts of federal facilities in helping to meet the pollution reduction requirements under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  The article noted that the federal government owns 5.4 percent of the property located in the Bay watershed, making it one of the watershed’s largest landowners.

The article stated that federal participation in Bay TMDL efforts has both a symbolic and practical value:

On the symbolic side, as Rich Batiuk, associate director for science of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program office, said, if federal agencies are seen as lagging, “this can pose a big impediment when talking to a farmer in Pennsylvania or a small municipality in New York that might be thinking, ‘Well, if the feds aren’t doing it, why should we?’ ”

On the practical side, state and local governments are working to achieve nutrient reduction goals set in the TMDL. Whether they can meet those goals — especially for those with substantial federal holdings — can depend on whether federal managers are doing their part. Toward that end, the Bay Program, together with local, state and federal managers, are trying to better document what is happening on the watershed’s far-flung and diverse federal lands and facilities, as well as ensure that they are taking actions that will help meet Bay goals.

The dramatic differences among federal facilities, from the U.S. Forest Service’s natural lands to the Department of Defense’s highly developed properties can make program and policy coordination challenging according to the article.  The facilities are also spread throughout the six Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia and have varying degrees of impact on the Bay’s water quality.

The article also noted that federal agencies lack a common reporting and accountability structure:

And, federal agencies that own the facilities aren’t anything like the states, which have a common structure for accountability, management and reporting. If they were, life would be more simple for the federal managers in charge of controlling pollution to achieve the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.

And, it would be easier for Bay Program managers to assess just how well federal facilities and agencies are doing.

While federal facilities are supposed to work with Bay states to achieve their TMDL goals, actual results have been mixed according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

The EPA’s first evaluation of federal agencies’ progress to include their buildings, installations, structures, land and property in state plans came in 2013. It found that data provided from the federal facilities to the jurisdictions were uneven from state to state and in most cases incomplete. The EPA cited lack of land use data; incomplete inventories of best management practices at federal facilities; and issues with incomplete reporting or reporting in a format that could not be used.

The EPA’s most recent evaluation of federal progress toward the TMDL was released in June and cited successes and areas of improvement, but noted that there has been uneven progress across agencies, and called for “more interaction and coordination related to planning, implementing and reporting best management practices on federal land in particular.”

Besides better reporting, the article stated that some federal agencies need to actually implement water pollution reduction efforts, which can be challenging due to budget challenges:

In addition to providing better data to the states and local governments, federal agencies also need to do the work. …

Even if they did have the budget, it’s not an easy time for any of the agencies. While the Bay Program has gotten adequate funding from Congress, “the other agencies are faring worse in terms of funding,” said Nick DiPasquale, director of the EPA Bay Program offices.

“Many of them do not have the level of resources they need to do what needs to be done — and it’s always difficult when your primary mission is other than what is stated in the Executive Order.”

 

Prince George’s County’s Adam Ortiz To Receive Environmental Leadership Award

MDLCV logo and name banner

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters will honor Prince George’s County Director of Environmental Resources Adam Ortiz at its 2015 Environmental Leadership Awards.  Ortiz will receive the League’s Kabler Award for his work in stormwater runoff, including the creation of an innovative public-private partnership with Corvias Solutions while with the County and a Green Streets program while Mayor of Edmonston. Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo (District 15, Montgomery County) is also being honored.

The awards ceremony will take place Thursday, October 29, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Loews Hotel in Annapolis.  Tickets cost $200.  For further information contact Karen Doory at kdoory@mdlcv.org or 410.280.9855 ext. 208.

Ortiz also serves as a MACo representative on the Local Government Advisory Committee or LGAC, which provides local perspectives on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load and related Bay restoration efforts.

Maryland Board of Public Works – August 5 Agenda & Summary

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  The meeting will be held in Governor’s Reception Room on the 2nd floor of the State House in Annapolis.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5, 2015. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.

Body Cameras: Justice Through the Lens

Recent local and national events have put police body-worn cameras into the spotlight. This emerging technology is being promoted as a way to benefit police officers and the communities they serve by increasing transparency and promoting accountability. But implementation of a body camera program is far from simple.

Attend the MACo Summer Conference session “Body Cameras: Justice Through the Lens” to learn more about body cameras and how police departments across the state look to put them in use. This session will be held from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. More information about the session is below:

Body Cameras: Justice Through the Lens

Description: Body cameras are an innovative technology that can be used as a tool in modern policing to increase relations between law enforcement and the communities they protect, while also serving as a means of maintaining accountability. Jurisdictions across the nation and the state are increasingly equipping their officers with cameras. However, as law enforcement agencies begin to adopt and deploy this emerging technology, much is still being learned. Attend this session to hear from local law enforcement officials about the benefits and limitations of body cameras – including legal and liability issues – and about updates on state action that may impact the future use of body cameras in Maryland.

Speakers:

  • Cpl. Mike Hickman, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sheriff Tim Cameron, Sheriff of St. Mary’s County
  • Phillip E. Hinkle, Chief of Staff, Charles County Sheriff’s Office

Moderator: The Honorable Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, August 13, 2015; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Summer Conference will be held August 12-15 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s conference theme is “Energize. Mobilize. Capitalize.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

Commissioner Rothschild Challenges Idea of Climate Change Consensus

In a strongly worded July 27, 2015, Carroll County Times op-ed letter, Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild challenged the perception that there was a consensus around man-made catastrophic climate change.  Rothschild based many of his arguments from Jay Richards’ discussion of 12 reasons to doubt claims of a scientific consensus originally written for the American Enterprise Institute. From the letter:

Reason No. 1 to doubt claims of a so-called scientific consensus: When personal attacks are targeted against dissenters. There’s a saying: When the facts are on your side, argue the facts; when the law is on your side, argue the law; when you have neither facts nor law on your side, attack your opponent. …

Reason 4: Richards asserts, “when dissenting opinions are excluded from the relevant peer-reviewed literature not because of weak evidence … but as part of a strategy to marginalize dissent.” The “peer review” process in climate science has, in some cases, been deliberately subverted to prevent dissenting views from being published. Climategate provided proof of this and provides a tangible reason to doubt claims of consensus.  …

Meanwhile the U.S. Senate Minority report on Climate Change contains names and writings of 700 scientists that refute claims of man-made catastrophic climate change.

Astrophysicist Piers Corbyn ridiculed the idea that the International Panel on Climate Change summary was written by 2,500 of the world’s “leading scientists” and said it was written primarily by people in government and should be called “The IPCC Report by appointees of many governments … many who may have little or no expertise… .”

 

Kurt Schmoke Will Be Special Guest in One-on-One Program at MACo Conference

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University of Baltimore President and former Mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke. Photo courtesy of University of Baltimore.

Kurt Schmoke, Baltimore’s first African American mayor, won national recognition for his work on adult literacy and public housing from Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In a special filming of his One-on-One program for the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Summer Conference, Phil Tilghman of PAC-14 asks Schmoke for his perspective and reflections on governing, public safety, and education – all the challenges faced by local governments large and small.

Schmoke became state’s attorney for the City of Baltimore in 1982 and was elected mayor in 1987. During his tenure as Baltimore’s mayor, Schmoke initiated a number of innovative programs in housing, education, public health and economic development. Schmoke currently serves as President of the University of Baltimore.

Tilghman’s interview, A Discussion with Kurt Schmoke, on Friday, August 14, 2015, from 2:15-3:15 pm at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland, is open to all MACo Conference attendees and will be aired on PAC-14 news.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.