Human Trafficking Session Cites Challenges, Responses

August 20, 2014

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing and profitable criminal enterprises in the world and Maryland is not immune. In the session Human Trafficking: Channeling Human Services to Challenging Populations, moderated by the Honorable Kriselda Valderramma, Maryland House of Delegates, attendees learned about human trafficking as well as the challenges and different approaches to providing assistance and services to the victims.

Investigative Journalist Christine Dolan set the stage with background information on the history of human trafficking, the eight faces of human trafficking and the global scope of the problem. Faces of human trafficking include: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, child soldiers, sex tourism, internet pedo-criminality, organ trafficking, skin trafficking and ritual abuse torture. Ms. Dolan also discussed human trafficking on the Eastern Shore and work done in partnership with Detective Milton Orellana, Easton Maryland Department of Police and the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force. Ms. Dolan talked about trafficking of children, which is a multi-billion dollar business through the internet. She is co-founder of the Children in Slaver Task Force and in June hosted a Hope for Healing Retreat on the Eastern Shore designed to help child victims heal. The retreat was the first of its kind in the United States, however they have been holding such retreats in Europe and South America in conjunction with Innocence in Danger for 10 years.

Human Trafficking Policy Advisor and Special Assistant to the  US Attorney Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Amanda Rodriguez, presented on the breadth of human trafficking in Maryland and programs in place by the State to assist victims and catch traffickers. Ms. Rodriguez shared statistics on domestic trafficking and the life of a sex trafficked victim as well as what the Department of Juvenile Services, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Maryland State Police are doing to find victims of trafficking and get them in touch with services. One of the challenges cited was the lack of victim services for Asian women. These victims are usually older in age and trafficked into the state through New York.

Michael Lyles, Executive Director of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission and Chair of the county’s Human Trafficking Task Force, discussed the history and structure of the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force helps ensure cooperation among county departments in addressing human trafficking, implements public awareness campaigns, and has advocates for stronger laws with harsher penalties. A Task Force report issued several recommendations including funding to continue operations of the Task Force; the establishment and funding of a county victim crisis center; mandated county-wide uniform data collection, sharing and public safety protocols; and legislation authorizing civil enforcement of trafficking.

County Officials Learn About Sustainable Purchasing

August 20, 2014
Courtesy Maryland Department of General Services

Courtesy Maryland Department of General Services

As companies continue to produce more environmentally friendly products, purchasing officials need to have the proper skills to evaluate products based on costs and effectiveness. Anne Jackson, the Department of General Services Sustainability Officer offered a training session on buying green products during MACo’s Summer Conference titled “Counties Going Green – a Guide to Sustainable Purchasing.”

Moderated by Delegate Steve Arentz, this session offered best practices for sustainability and advice to assist with the selection of products that offer the best value in terms of cost, performance, and the environment.  The session also discussed the benefits of green purchasing and provided tips for establishing a program.

For more information on green purchasing visit the Department of General Services website or the National Association of Counties (NACo) website.

Congressional Staff Discuss Federal Funding for Transportation and Infrastructure at Summer MACo Conference

August 20, 2014

Xan Fishman of The Office of Congressman John Delaney and Mike Belarmino of the National Association of Counties compare notes at MACo’s Summer Conference.

In Federal Funding for County Causes: Working with Congress, staff to the Maryland Congressional Delegation and a representative of the National Association of Counties described federal funding opportunities for county infrastructure and legislation affecting local governments.

Lori Albin, State Director, The Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski shared information about SAFER and TIGER grants available to county governments. She spoke about the Senator’s work throughout all of Maryland counties on projects from building the purple line, to developing a living shoreline in Smith Island.

Xan Fishman, Senior Legislative Assistant, The Office of Congressman John Delaney, described Congressman Delaney’s Partnership to Build America Act of 2013, HR2084/S1957, a bi-partisan bill currently in Congress.  Described by Mr. Fishman as the most significant piece of bi-partisan economic legislation in Congress now, it create a infrastructure fund that would allow county governments to fund projects at low interest rates by guaranteeing municipal bonds.  The American Infrastructure Fund would provide bond guarantees and make loans to state and local governments and non-profit infrastructure providers for transportation, energy, water, communications, or educational facility infrastructure projects. Through changes to the global tax code, the bill would create an initial seed investment that would provide the fund with independence from yearly appropriations from Congress.

Michael Belarmino, Associate Legislative Director/Associate General Counsel, National Association of Counties shared nationwide data on funding for county roads.  NACo has conducted a state-by-state analysis of transportation funding and MAP-21, or the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act signed by President Obama in 2012. Under MAP-21, funding available for locally-owned bridges and Federal-aid highways decreased 30%. Mr. Belarmino shared information on how county officials can be involved in NACo’s work advocating to restore funding for infrastructure owned by counties in the next surface transportation bill through participation in NACo Steering Committees and NACo-MACo advocacy efforts.

County Executive Ike Leggett lead the discussion, opening with a statement about the importance of federal funding for transportation projects.  After asking Mr. Fishman about the potential success of Congressman Delaney’s bill, which Mr. Fishman thought was strong, he closed with compliments for the Congressman’s efforts and for all of the presenters.

Counties Provide Best Practices for Preserving the Safety of Older Citizens

August 19, 2014

Courtesy of Sarah Lenz Lock, Senior Vice President for Policy, AARP Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs

Delegate Ben Kramer of Montgomery County moderated an educational session at MACo’s Summer Conference on the increase of Alzheimer’s and Autism in our communities and one innovative government response to the rise in endangered missing persons.  The session was sponsored by the Maryland Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Delegate Kramer sits on the House Economic Matters Committee and recently served on the Joint Committee on Access to Mental Health Services.

Sarah Lenz Lock, Senior Vice President for Policy, AARP Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs gave a national perspective on the increase of persons with cognitive disabilities as our communities age.  She described that by 2030 the US will have twice as many people over the age of 65 as we have today, and she shared the many programs and tools for Maryland residents confronting Alzheimer’s, which is estimated to be 97,000 people.  These include the Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, The Maryland Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission, and the AARP’s Age-Friendly Network and ‘Staying Sharp’ Memberships.

Laurie Reyes, Police Officer, Montgomery County Department of Police and Shelly McLaughlin, Director of Communications, Pathfinders for Autism described new comprehensive approaches to the growing number of cases of Missing Persons with Alzheimer’s, Autism, and Dementia. As described by Officer Reyes and Shelly, Montgomery County Police now provide a layered approach to critical missing persons with such conditions as Autism, Alzheimer’s and Down Syndrome.  The department works to prevent missing person tragedies through education of officers and caregivers and through community outreach.  Officer Reyes welcome county officials from other jurisdictions to contact her; she would be happy to speak with any county interested in implementing  similar system.



US Senator Ben Cardin Holds “Town Hall” With Summer MACo Attendees

August 19, 2014

United States Senator Cardin holding a Town Hall Meeting with attendees of the MACo Summer Conference, moderated by Commissioner Jack Russell, President of the St. Mary’s County Commissioners, and MACo Treasurer

United States Senator Cardin held a Town Hall Meeting with attendees of the MACo Summer Conference, responding to questions from the audience on a variety of topics and speaking about transportation funding and economic revitalization in Maryland.

The Senator said he will work this year for reauthorization of federal surface transportation funding, supplemental transportation funding, and an infrastructure bank to allow Maryland to start its projects and help address future transportation needs.

Responding to questions on mental health care, the Senator shared recent progress on the issue in Congress including how the Affordable Care Act eliminates distinctions between mental health treatment and other care, and improvements in mental healthcare in the military, including pre- and post-deployment evaluations.

On energy policy, the Senator noted America’s advances towards energy independence.  He outlined the importance of the reauthorization of the export-import bank, tax exemptions for energy saving retrofits, investment in nuclear energy, and continued research into nuclear fusion.  The Senator also discussed the need for a federal policy on hydraulic-fracturing and development of a cap and trade system for market-based pollution reduction.

Commissioner Jack Russell, President of the St. Mary’s County Commissioners  introduced the Senator and facilitated the discussion.  Commissioner Russell is MACo’s Treasurer.  Several MACo Board Members and county and state officials attended the discussion.

Senator Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment, and fiscal issues as a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and he currently serves on the Environment and Public Works (EPW), Finance, Foreign Relations, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship committees. In the 113th Congress, he chairs the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of EPW and he chairs the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee.


Mutual Aid: County-State-Nation Partnerships in Public Safety Technology

August 19, 2014


Nicholaus R. Kipke, Minority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, Michael Kiron of L3 Solutions, Major Ken Hasenei, Commander of the Maryland Department of State Police Technology and Information Management Command, Maryland Broadband Coordinator Lori Romer Stone, and Director of the Statewide Public Safety Radio System Ken Coppage.

Nicholaus R. Kipke, Minority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates lead the discussion of public safety technology at MACo’s Summer Conference, in a panel entitled, Mutual Aid: County-State-Nation Partnerships in Public Safety Technology. Delegate Kipke serves on the House Heath and Government Operations Committee and the Government Operations Subcommittee. MACo’s initiative bill on public safety radio technology was heard by the Health and Government Operations Committee last year.

Maryland Broadband Coordinator Lori Romer Stone started the discussion with a presentation on FirstNet.  The vision of FirstNet, Ms. Stone explained, is to provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed, wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. Ms. Stone described how the system is organized and funded at the federal level and how it will improve public safety response, with examples from recent disasters.  She also welcomed county officials to contact her as part of her outreach into the community: providing the FirstNet website for more information, and her own contact information.

Ken Coppage, Director of the Statewide Public Safety Radio System, spoke on the Maryland First 700MHz Public Safety Radio System. Director Coppage’s mission is to improve and sustain Maryland First to increase the safety of our First Responders, and enhance public safety, and improve efficiency throughout Maryland. He gave an update on building the system and described the options for local involvement for those counties that choose to join Maryland First, including: building your own fleetmap; local network monitoring; shared recording system; and membership on the Radio Control Board.

Major Ken Hasenei, Commander of the Maryland Department of State Police Technology and Information Management Command, provided an overview of the Statewide CAD/RMS/Mobile Project that is being implemented by the Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland Transit Administration and Department of Natural Resources. According to the Major, the statewide program brings a modern and highly capable system to local dispatchers, law enforcement officers, administrators and command staff so they can better share data, be more interoperable, and work more efficiently.


Maryland County Officials Diversity Caucus Introduces New Leadership, Honors Wayne K. Curry at Luncheon

August 19, 2014

The Maryland County Officials Diversity Caucus hosted a luncheon at the summer conference introducing their 2014-2015 leadership team and legislative agenda.

The luncheon commenced with a moment of silence honoring the life of Wayne K. Curry. Mr. Curry was the first African American to serve as Prince George’s County Executive. He served two terms as county executive from 1994-2002 and passed away July 2, 2014.

Karmen Walker Brown, Director of Governmental Affairs at Comcast and wife of Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, greeted the Caucus and provided remarks in lieu of her husband who was unable to attend due to a conflict. Mrs. Brown commended the Caucus on their work fostering and providing support for minority elected leaders and responding to issues affecting their constituencies through the Caucus’ legislative initiatives.

The 2014-2015 Diversity Caucus Leadership Team:

  • President – Council Member Karen R. Toles (Prince George’s County)
  • 1st Vice President – Council Member Nancy Navarro (Montgomery County)
  • 2nd Vice President – Council Member Craig Rice (Montgomery County)
  • Chair, Event Coordination – Commissioner Debra Davis (Charles County)
  • Chair, Legislative Affairs – Council Member Mel Franklin (Prince George’s County)
  • Chair, Membership & Mentoring – Commissioner Craig Mathies (Somerset County)
  • Immediate Past President – Council Member Dr. Calvin Ball (Howard County)

The Caucus’ legislative initiatives for the upcoming year will focus on economic development and the Minority Business Enterprise program (MBE), environmental justice, and public safety and social justice issues.


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