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From Here to There–Increasing K-12 Technical Training Opportunities

Career and Technical Training was the focus of the education general session at the Maryland Association of Counties Conference. The discussion included the challenges and suggestions for how to increase the number and type of career and technical training programs available to student, and boost student enrollment in those programs.


From the conversation:

James Rosapepe, Maryland State Senate (Moderator):

Today, on average in Maryland about 23% of students graduate with career and technology education. When you look more closely, the smaller counties are ahead of the larger counties, with a larger percentage of students graduating with these certificates.

Dr. Lynne Gilli, Maryland State Department of Education:

We have returned to 1999 levels of funding for career and technical education. It is a challenge to increase programs with level funding – and there is a proposal now to cut federal funding.

Michael Thomas, Director Career and Technology Education at Baltimore City Public Schools:

The professional development of teachers and retention of teachers in career and tech pathways, and increasing industry buy-in to these programs are key to growing and maintaining these programs.

Dr. Kristine Pearl, ‎Supervisor of Career and Technology Education at Frederick County Public Schools:

Marketing is key. Changing the mindset of children towards these opportunities requires a cultural shift. . . We should look upon these credentials with the respect we give to AP scores–parents need to realize they have value, too.

Steve Cox, Harford County Cadet Program Coordinator:

The first step for our outreach is educating the counselors at the schools about this program. We need to show that when they graduate from this certificate program they can work with any of the career fire fighting forces, earning $40k, $50k, $60k a year.

For more information about these programs, see this power point provided by the speakers.


The Taxing Impacts Of The New Look Vacation

Mike Coveyou, Montgomery County Division of Treasury

The sharing economy is rapidly changing the way people work, play and travel. Online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO offer tourists and business travelers alike entirely new ways to experience Maryland counties, providing opportunities to experience the greatest they have to offer from entirely new vantage points.

This remodeling of tourism also offers county residents new avenues to earn income and provide services for profit – begging the need for local governments to reexamine whether their methods of tax collection remain as equitable as they were when hospitality depended upon the brick and mortar, multi-unit hotel or motel.

At the MACo Summer Conference session, The New Look Vacation: Opportunities & Responsibilities in the Sharing Economy, held on Friday, August 18, at 2:15 pm, participants heard a wide range of perspectives from Airbnb Policy Director Will Burns, Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Amy Rohrer, and Montgomery County Chief of Treasury Michael Coveyou on how to best balance innovative new opportunity with principles of tax equity. Attendees learned about viewpoints of the issue from traditional brick and mortar establishments, solutions implemented by Airbnb nationwide, and the perspective of the county tax collector on the impacts these changes have on county coffers and operations.

The Honorable Jason Buckel, Maryland House of Delegates moderated the panel.


Perfecting Public Private Partnerships At #MACoCon


Sallye Perrin, Senior Vice President, WSP USA

Public private partnerships, or P3s, can provide innovative solutions to advancing county projects from economic development and broadband deployment to stormwater management and green infrastructure investment. MACo’s Summer Conference session, “Perfecting the Potential of Public Private Partnerships,” took place on Friday, August 18, at 1:00 pm. Attendees lucky enough to find space in the standing-room-only session heard best practices from national experts and real examples of successful P3s from the private sector and Maryland county officials.


Sallye Perrin, Senior Vice President, WSP USA provided a detailed overview of what constitutes a successful P3 and how they can advance projects such as bridge bundling and LED street lighting installations. Ken Ulman, CEO, Margrave Strategies dynamically presented on all of the benefits coming to fruition from economic development in Greater College Park: over 30 projects and $2 billion in public and

Ken Ulman, CEO, Margrave Strategies

private investment. Jim McCormick,  CIO, Caroline County showed how government and the private sector can partner to advance broadband in rural communities. Adam Ortiz, Director of Prince George’s Department of the Environment rounded out the session with a detailed description of his department’s innovative P3 to address the retrofit of 2,000 impervious acres with green infrastructure. The Honorable Steve Hershey, MD State Senate moderated the fast-paced, detailed session.img_0253



Big Data, Big Ideas Making Better Government

Use of data to improve government services is a topic of perennial interest to county elected officials seeking ways to improve programs and better serve their residents.

dataAt this year’s MACo Conference, representatives from the Governor’s Offices of Performance Improvement, the US Census, Prince George’s County spoke to the ways that data can be used to inform government operations, while Greg Derwart of the Governor’s Customer Service Initiative shared the progress they have made in gathering feedback on state-level services.

From the discussion:

The opportunity project transforms government data into usable tools, including digital tools like Redfin, Fitbit, Zillow and others. –Nesreen Khashan, U.S. Census Bureau

Projections created by the State Data Center include population, school enrollment, and job growth projections on a county-by-county basis. –Mike Morello, Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement

Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) translates data into tools that residents can use.–Ben Birge, Prince George’s CountyStat

Constituents rank ‘a positive experience’ as the most important outcome of an interaction with a business or organization. Those who are leaders in the service industry know something in common: the customer is #2; the team is #1. Your team needs to be prepared to respond to the public. –Greg Derwart, Governor’s Customer Service Initiative


Debating Environmental Justice & Land Use at 2017 #MACoCon

County officials engaged in an discussion on how to incorporate environmental justice concerns into land use planning processes on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

From Left to Right: Dick Fairbanks, Rebecca Rehr, and Philip Hager

The panel “Environmental Justice and County Land Use: Finding the Win-Win Scenario” featured two members of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities who discussed a wide range of issues and challenges surrounding environmental justice and county land use: (1) Maryland Environmental Health Network Public Policy and Advocacy Manager Rebecca Rehr; and (2) Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park Vice President Dick Fairbanks.

The panelists discussed how to handle the sometimes adversarial stance taken by different stakeholders during discussions on environmental justice issues, how to incorporate environmental justice issues into areas with existing or historical land development patterns, handling the political realities posed by environmental justice, and dealing with extreme positions taken by stakeholders.

Both Rehr and Fairbanks stressed the importance of consulting with affected communities and the need for environmental justice advocates to engage with counties during the planning and zoning processes rather than simply introducing legislation at the state level. Rehr noted that the use of geographic information services (GIS) data makes it much easier for counties to identify and respond to environmental justice concerns related to specific projects.

Audience members questioned where the line was between genuine community concerns related to health versus a “not in my backyard” mentality. Fairbanks stated that the Commission was an advisory body and typically only considers cases that have provable health impacts as opposed to potential NIMBY situations.

Maryland Association of County Planning Officials President and Anne Arundel County Planning and Zoning Officer Philip Hager moderated the panel.

MDE Provides Update on Zero Waste, New Collaborative Efforts at 2017 #MACoCon

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) provided an update to county and private waste haulers on Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan’s recent executive order that repealed a ban on new county landfills and set forth a new solid waste reduction strategy for the state on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles was joined by several MDE officials and private consultants to discuss the new approach. “The key word is collaboration,” Grumbles stressed.

After providing an overview of the executive order, several private consultants discussed the Administration’s  vision of linking “energy, economy, and the environment” in the new solid waste approach, which would entail both collaboration with local governments and public-private partnerships.

Grumbles also noted that the new strategy is focused on sustainability and will include zero waste principles, energy use policies, and better waste tracking and statistical information. MDE wants to meet with county governments by the end of the year and identify key materials that have been problematic to remove from the waste stream. MDE is also continuing to work on composting and diversion for organics.

Useful Links

Conduit Street Article on Hogan’s Solid Waste & Landfill Executive Order

Diversity Caucus Focuses on Education Funding at 2017 #MACoCon

The Maryland County Officials Diversity Caucus, a chapter organization of MACo, discussed education funding and the activities of the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (also known as the “Kirwan” Commission) on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks greeted attendees and made brief remarks on the issues of racism and hate. Alsobrooks stressed the need to continue to come together and understand one another.

Craig Rice Discussing Three Different Perspectives on Education Funding

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice discussed the issue of education funding from the perspectives of equality, equity, and liberation. Rice argued that in order to reach a liberation result, the pending education funding recommendations of the Kirwan Commission must focus on: (1) access to universal pre-kindergarten; (2) targeted funding for at-risk students; (3) reviewing the Geographic Cost of Education Index formula; (4) placing more high quality teachers in at-risk schools; and (5) providing incentives to teach at at-risk schools. Rice also stressed the importance of technical and vocational training, noting that while vocational jobs have been overlooked they are usually stable and provide good incomes.

The Caucus plans on sending a letter to the Kirwan Commission highlighting the concerns raised in Rice’s presentation.

Prince George’s County Council Member Karen Toles chaired the event. Toles has been president of the Caucus for the last three years and will be replaced by incoming president Rice.

Rural Counties Coalition Starts the Day Early at 2017 #MACoCon

The MACo Rural Counties Coalition received an update on land use, economic development, and opioid issues on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Jeannie Haddawy-Riccio (far left) addresses the Coalition

Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio provided a brief update on the priorities of Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan’s Administration, focusing on customer service. Haddaway-Riccio also introduced the Governor’s Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) team, including Intergovernmental Affairs Director Kristal Quarker Hartsfield, Eastern Shore IGA Representative Bunky Luffman, Western Maryland IGA Representative Mark Widmyer, and Southern Maryland IGA Representative Gretchen Hardman.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp, Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter, and Rural Maryland Council Executive Director Charlotte Davis provided an update on the activities of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission and its various rural workgroups. Knapp also provided an update on best available technology for nitrogen removal (BAT) septic system legislation.

Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill discussed jobs and economic development issues. “We have to get out there and make things happen,” Gill stressed. Gill’s updates included: (1) video lottery terminal revenue; and (2) arts districts and tourism activities. Gill also urged counties to invest in economic development staff and to focus on your economic priorities.

Department of Commerce Managing Director Steve Pennington discussed the More Jobs for Marylanders Act that passed during the 2017 Session.

Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine raised an issue about ambulance services going bankrupt due to lack of reimbursement from opioid victims. Valentine suggested the creation of a last resort State funding mechanism to reimburse ambulance services.

Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center Executive Director Clay Stamp discussed the State’s efforts to address the opioid crisis. Stamp urged counties to empower their emergency managers to use funding that is now being provided by the State and the federal government.

Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt chaired the meeting.

Health Officer Trains #MACoCon Attendees to Save Lives!

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch trained 2017 MACo Summer Conference attendees how to save a life using naloxone for opioid overdoses and hands only CPR for cardiac arrest.

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Branch
Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Branch

According to the Maryland Department of Health in 2016, over 1,800 Marylanders died from an opioid overdose. Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to safely and effectively reverse overdose by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.

About 40 people each hour have a cardiac arrest while not in a hospital, and just over nine out of 10 do not survive, according to American Heart Association statistics. Bystander CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. Using the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive” bystanders can administer CPR without the need for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Practicing their newly learned "Stayin' Alive' hands only CPR skills on "Alice"
Practicing their newly learned “Stayin’ Alive’ hands only CPR skills on “Alice”

Trainees learned how to:

  • Recognize an overdose
  • Respond to an overdose (and how not to!)
  • Administer Naloxone
  • Recognize when someone may be in cardiac arrest
  • Respond to an unconscious
  • Pump to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” to help restart the heart

And they received a:

  • Narcan nasal spray overdose kit
  • Hands only CPR kit

This training was sponsored by the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO) and was offered on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

The MACo summer conference was August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.


#MACoCon Panelists Discuss “Cannabusiness” in Maryland

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “The Green Rush? Cannabusiness in Maryland Counties” attendees learned about the growing “cannabusiness” industry, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and what counties need to know moving forward.’

Shad Ewart discusses how Maryland’s medical cannabis indusrry will create a host of ancillary jobs

Being a new – and unique – enterprise, many entrepreneurs struggle with how to best leverage this emerging industry…and counties struggle with how to fit these “cannabis-adjacent” businesses into their communities, economies, and local policies.

Shad Ewart, Professor, Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Marijuana Legalization, Anne Arundel Community College, began the session by discussing Maryland’s medical cannabis program. Mr. Ewart talked about how the medical cannabis industry continues to advance and legitimize, and how mainstream professionals are increasingly interested in economizing on this opportunity. As part of his presentation, Mr. Ewart described the ancillary businesses within the medical cannabis industry. According to Mr. Ewart,  “the people who profited from the Gold Rush were not the ones mining for gold, but the people who sold them the picks and shovels.”

According to Darren H. Weiss, Esq., Principal, Bethesda Office, Offit Kurman, because the medical cannabis industry is a new – and unique – enterprise, many entrepreneurs struggle with how to best leverage this emerging industry… and counties struggle with how to fit these “cannabis-adjacent” businesses into their communities, economies, and local policies. Mr. Weiss discussed some of the legal challenges associated with medical cannabis in Maryland, explained how growers and dispensaries become licensed to operate in Maryland, and how they will operate in local communities.

Gail Rand, CFO, Patient Advocate, ForwardGro, closed the session by discussing her advocacy efforts for medical cannabis in Maryland. ForwardGro is licensed to grow medical cannabis and has begun operations in Anne Arundel County. Mrs. Rand offered insight into the medical cannabis licensing process from an applicant’s point of view.

The session was moderated by Senator Brian Feldman and was held on Thursday, August 17, 2017.