Kevin Kinnally has joined MACo’s policy team in Annapolis, and will be working to represent counties on intergovernmental issues, public education, and a wide range of subjects as a Policy Associate.
Kevin has worked with the MACo staff since the beginning of the 2016 legislative session, contributing research and logistical support for MACo’s policy efforts. During the Summer of 2016, he returned to MACo as a Special Assistant to the Executive Director – assisting with issue research, communications, and conference preparations.
“Kevin has already shown a great aptitude and enthusiasm for MACo’s mission, and he will be a great asset for us on legislative and policy issues,” said MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson.
Kevin has a degree in political science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He has previous work experience as a Senior Project Manager for a firm in Florida.
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, October 5, 2016 at 10 a.m. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:
MACo is now featuring a new way to keep your county knowledge up-to-date in our weekly e-newsletter, This Week on Conduit Street.” Now Hear This” is a weekly segment featuring short and concise audio clips from a wide variety of publications.
This week’s segment features “Focus on the Environment,” an independently produced piece featured on WYPR.
The social media site Twitter has become a fast-moving setting for news, information, and advocacy on public affairs. We welcome followers of MACo’s own twitter feed for updates from the Conduit Street blog and other MACo hot topics, and often use Twitter to reach our own audience, and to hear from others following the same issues as county leaders.
Here are some tweets that caught our eye this week:
On December 7-9, 2016, join 500+ county elected officials and staff, legislators, State and Federal officials, and commercial/nonprofit representatives for 3 days of educational sessions and strategic planning at the Hyatt in Cambridge, MD. This conference will focus on how counties can prepare to best serve and protect their residents across many different areas of county service. Sessions will discuss public health, maintaining infrastructure, and strategies to be sure counties are ready for possible emergency scenarios, developing trends, and long-term changes.
Here are a few of the opportunities we’ve added to Wednesday of MACo’s Winter Conference:
County Elected Official Roundtable – Discuss issues and solutions with your peers
Affiliate Organization Meetings – Focus on best practices in each of the county service areas
Expanded Exhibit Hall – Visit with more than 50 vendors who support local government with cost-saving products and services
Active Shooter Response Deep Dive Session – Learn from the experts how to handle an active shooter situation as an individual, but also as an elected or appointed official
Academy Core Courses – Enhance your foundation skills with the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance Open Meetings and County Financial Management courses
Workshop Sessions – Discuss challenges and resources on topics such as emergency management, infrastructure, or others related to county services
And that’s just WEDNESDAY!
Thursday and Friday offer more workshop sessions, 2 General Sessions, several meetings and briefings, more opportunities to visit with our exhibitors, our highly anticipated General Assembly Forecast, and our Inaugural Banquet & Awards Ceremony (the Governor traditionally installs our Board and addresses our guests!).
National Wildlife Federation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Queen Anne’s County Officials Launch First-of-its-Kind, Climate Adaptive Shoreline
Officials from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the state of Maryland and Queen Anne’s County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the Conquest Preserve Living Shoreline Project on the banks of the Chester River. The project is one of the first living shoreline projects in the country to incorporate sea level rise projections into its design from the outset, in an attempt to mitigate some of the damaging effects of climate change in a cost-effective and natural way.
“The National Wildlife Federation is proud to have spearheaded such an innovative project right on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, one of our nation’s most prized natural resources,” said Dr. Bruce Stein, NWF’s Associate Vice President for Conservation Science and Climate Adaptation. “The Conquest Preserve Living Shoreline is a great example of how climate-smart conservation can improve habitat while also providing social and economic benefits to local communities.”
Other attendees at the event included Maryland Governor’s Office Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio; Maryland Board of Public Works Executive Secretary Sheila C. McDonald; Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton; Maryland Senator Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Dist. 36); Maryland Delegate Steven J. Arentz (R-Dist. 36); Maryland Delegate Jefferson L. Ghrist (R-Dist. 36); Queen Anne’s County Commissioners James J. Moran, Steve Wilson and Jack N. Wilson Jr. and other county staff; and Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation Fund Program Manager Liz Tully.
Living shorelines projects use natural materials – as opposed to hard infrastructure such as seawalls and bulkheads – to reduce erosion, stormwater runoff and habitat loss. The Conquest Preserve project is the first in the country to use a “shingle beach” design, consisting of pebbles or small- to medium-sized cobbles, rather than the typical fine sand. While they provide some stability, the lightweight cobbles are not completely static and move slightly with the tide. This allows the shoreline to shift and respond to wave action and rising sea-levels into the future.
The living shoreline stabilizes the public beach by reducing erosion and increasing marsh grass habitat for wildlife in the near term, as well as providing a natural barrier to projected sea level rise associated with climate change. As sea levels rise and wave action increases, the cobblestone, dunes and marsh grass that make up the shoreline gradually migrate upland and inland, rather than being overcome or destroyed.
Project Core, a partnership between Governor Hogan’s administration and the City of Baltimore, is slowly but surely moving forward. The project involves removing vacant, blighted rowhomes and revitalizing the remaining lots and communities. The state has invested $75 million into the project.
Officials had identified more than 370 properties for demolition by the end of 2016, but just 53 properties have been approved for razing, and costs are mounting faster than anticipated — both troubling signs the program could fall short of its goals.
In interviews, city and state officials backed away from previous projections but said it is too early to judge the effectiveness the program, a partnership between the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and Baltimore’s housing department.
Under the new program, the state promised to give the Stadium Authority at least $7.1 million a year in funding for demolition — and the possibility of up to $25 million a year — over four years. Individual projects also can apply to the state for demolition or stabilization funding.
In addition, the state promised to make other existing programs — such as low-income housing tax credits, lending and grant programs — available to projects on sites created by demolitions. The state Department of Housing and Community Development estimates that about $600 million in financing would be available for such redevelopment proposals over four years, though legislative analysts have questioned how that financing would work.
The city is responsible for readying properties for tear-down and maintenance of the lots afterward.
Officials said the tear-down program — Rawlings-Blake referred to it as “demolition dollars on steroids” — has been slow to start, in part because agencies spent time developing best practices in response to neighborhood complaints about previous razing jobs gone wrong.
The new rules include environmental protocols — such as reducing dust by wetting the area and filling the sites with clean fill — plus salvage requirements and community notification.
Question: Did you know that inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin came from a slave in Montgomery County?
It’s true! Montgomery County was important in the abolitionist movement, with slave Josiah Henson, who wrote about his experiences in a memoir which became the basis for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). Josiah, the inspiration for the character “Uncle Tom,” was a slave in the county and a slave cabin where he is believed to have spent time still stands at the end of a driveway off Old Georgetown Road.
The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education meets in Annapolis, beginning discussions of state and local support for schools to continue over the course of the next year.
As reported by the Maryland Associations of Boards of Education (MABE),
On September 29, 2016 the “Kirwan” Commission held its first meeting. Commission Chair, William E. “Brit” Kirwan, opened the meeting by emphasizing that this was a rare opportunity to be on such a commission, and that although the charge is very broad, the task at hand is essentially to make recommendations on how to make our schools better, and that we owe it to students to develop a system that is as good as the best in the world. The 23 Commission members in attendance introduced themselves and offered brief remarks on their priorities for the Commission work.
In introductions, MACo’s representatives shared introductory remarks:
Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice stated that investment in education is sound economic policy.
Allegany County Commissioner William Valentine stated that in his rural county, funding K-12 makes up 96% of property tax income.
During the meeting’s discussions and presentations, both Commissioners were vocal advocates on topics of county concerns.
Council Member Rice spoke on the need for promoting and supporting career counseling and raised the topic of teacher pension costs. Defending against the notion that federal formula changes are resulting in a greater number of students becoming eligible for free-and-reduced-price meal-based aid, he shared the reality of serving students from lower income families since the economic recession,
“There are definite trends we have seen – our constituents have gotten poorer. We in Montgomery County have continued to drop in wealth and the numbers of free-and-reduced-price meals students have continued to grow. It is an often-quoted fact, but Montgomery County has more free-and-reduced-price meals students than DC has students.”
On the topic of wealth calculations and local education funding mandates, Allegany County Commissioner raised the incongruous effect of the housing bubble, which made some of the poorest jurisdictions in the state, including his, look the wealthiest according to state formulas. Committee staff said that the wealth formula would be considered in much greater detail by the Commission.
The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Monday, October 31, 2016; 1-4:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.
An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. The active shooter scenario presents unique perils that may only be lessened through training and preparation.
As described by the Department of Homeland Security,
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
This year’s MACo Winter Conference will feature a special session, Active Shooter Defense for Elected Officials and their Staff, with take-away lessons in safety for all attendees.
Deputy First Class Wehrle of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office will share his insights into active shooter response and the best way to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Wehrle has been with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office since 2008, with eight years of prior law enforcement experience in another local jurisdiction. He is the Sniper Team leader and is also a member of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Action Response Team and regularly provides presentations on active shooter preparedness to a range of audiences.