The Politics Hour

The Politics Hour
Transcript for: 
The Politics Hour

MR. KOJO NNAMDI

12:06:41
From WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to The Politics Hour, starring Washingtonian of the Year Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst, whose titles keep getting longer and longer. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers and a 2011 Washingtonian of the Year. I know this because I attended the ceremony on Wednesday, in which you were inducted as a Washingtonian of the Year. And the individual who introduced you spoke at great length.

MR. TOM SHERWOOD

12:07:29
He, you know, that's Jim Vance who's a fairly well-known TV personality in Washington for a year or two. You know, he -- they said they were going to end on time. We went seven minutes over the program, and I think we can contribute it all to Vance.

NNAMDI

12:07:42
And Vance, of course, gave us a laundry list of all of your faults. Who knew that your desk was a mess and was cluttered? Who knew that you spent all of your time tweeting (unintelligible).

SHERWOOD

12:07:51
Well, I actually do something at my desk. You know, he's an anchor.

NNAMDI

12:07:54
Who knew that you spend very little of your time doing actual reporting, and most of it tweeting people about various and sundry things? But congratulations.

SHERWOOD

12:08:01
Well, thank you very much, and I appreciate the fact you came and represented WAMU. And I was -- you know, I did put in a request for donations to WAMU.

NNAMDI

12:08:10
You certainly did. I tweeted...

SHERWOOD

12:08:11
I know how to...

NNAMDI

12:08:12
I tweeted about that...

SHERWOOD

12:08:12
...appeal to people.

NNAMDI

12:08:13
...as a matter of fact.

SHERWOOD

12:08:13
I know how to pander to people.

NNAMDI

12:08:14
He asked people to raise hands, as a matter of fact. Yes, Tom Sherwood...

SHERWOOD

12:08:18
There was a good hand -- you know, a significant number of people raised their hands, so that was very nice.

NNAMDI

12:08:22
Hopefully, some of them will become new members of WAMU 88.5.

SHERWOOD

12:08:26
It was very nice of them to give me that award. I appreciate it. But this will be the last day that we'll be discussing it today. We have to move on. 2012 is fast, you know, running out of time.

NNAMDI

12:08:35
Speaking of moving on, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia has moved on. He has endorsed Mitt Romney for president of the United States, becoming, I suspect, the first major elected official in Virginia to actually endorse one of the candidates.

SHERWOOD

12:08:51
Well, they put it -- when they -- McDonnell got the signatures to be on the ballot, I think there were some people, but you're -- I think he is the biggest. Of course, everyone thinks...

NNAMDI

12:08:58
Yeah.

SHERWOOD

12:08:58
...that he is on the shortlist of potential running mates.

NNAMDI

12:09:02
Yes, indeed.

SHERWOOD

12:09:03
You know, the South Carolina primary is tomorrow, and I watched the debate last night when Newt Gingrich just took the head off of the CNN host with that response about his personal life. So I don't know what's going to happen. You know, everyone -- for a while, Romney couldn't win, and then suddenly, he's going to be the nominee. And now, we're back to, oh, is he going to be the nominee? It's a very fascinating political campaign.

NNAMDI

12:09:25
We'll see what happens after South Carolina. Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray released his transition documents at a time when reporters, like Tom Sherwood, hate for things to be released Friday afternoon, so they don't get a chance to have it in the news. And it folds over, over the weekend, and it doesn't become the big story that it should. What was there of significance in that?

SHERWOOD

12:09:46
Well, the fact is the -- when the mayor was -- when Vince Gray was elected mayor, he said he would have a transition fund, a privately raised transition fund, an inaugural fund. And he said, oh, I might even do weekly reports of who's giving me money and how we're spending it. Well, that didn't happen. And a year later, he releases this voluntary report that he had promised, and it turns out he raised $998,000.

SHERWOOD

12:10:13
The significance of how it was spent -- there's no real smoking gun inside the money, but it was his first, I guess, violation. He said he would release the information. No one thought he would take a year to release it. And that's -- and then to release it on a Friday night on the King holiday weekend -- I think it was King holiday weekend...

NNAMDI

12:10:30
Yes.

SHERWOOD

12:10:30
...three-day weekend -- just showed that exactly it worked perfectly fine. There was all this uproar on Friday late afternoon, and then it's kind of drifted away.

NNAMDI

12:10:40
You need to start packing your Caribbean travel stuff again because I read in today's edition of The Washington Post reliable source that Mayor Adrian Fenty's wife is likely to be the -- is going to be the Inter-American...

SHERWOOD

12:10:52
Is.

NNAMDI

12:10:52
...Bank's representative in Trinidad and Tobago. I am one of the few people who remember Tom Sherwood of The Washington Post being sent off to the Virgin Islands to keep tabs on then Mayor Marion Barry...

SHERWOOD

12:11:06
That's right.

NNAMDI

12:11:06
...so you might be heading for another Caribbean vacation.

SHERWOOD

12:11:09
Well, I don't know. You know, there's no official word yet that Adrian himself is going to go, but I'm thinking he is. You know, the types of jobs he now has -- one thing this does is -- first of all, Michelle is a lawyer. She has her own career...

NNAMDI

12:11:23
Correct.

SHERWOOD

12:11:23
...and their children are getting older. And this is a terrific job for them. She has family down there. It's a great thing. And Adrian's jobs -- we call him Adrian now because he's -- and if he were here, we'll say Mr. Mayor, but, you know, he has all these kind of jobs, these little bits and pieces of jobs. And he can do that from anywhere, so he can live down there, and he can, you know, run year-round because, you know, he's a fanatic runner.

SHERWOOD

12:11:46
So I think it's a good thing for the family, and it certainly does put a period on the thought that he might run for mayor again. I think it would be difficult to mount a campaign from Trinidad.

NNAMDI

12:11:55
Urgent note to NBC 4, Tom has his passport, and he is ready. Paul Craney is leaving as the executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee. Who knew? And, apparently...

SHERWOOD

12:12:08
Four years in that job.

NNAMDI

12:12:08
...he doesn't want to say where he's going.

SHERWOOD

12:12:11
Well, you know, it's a big mystery, but, you know, all the Republicans gathered in a phone booth on Benning Road to discuss this major upheaval in the city party, and they haven't decided what's going to happen. But, you know, Paul is aggressive. He's well-mannered, which is important in this Southern city. He worked hard to get Republicans on the ballot. He did all of the right things, and he had a good nature about it. So we wish him well whatever he's going to do, but maybe he'll move to a state where there are in fact Republicans who are going to do something.

NNAMDI

12:12:42
Tom Sherwood, he is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. You know, Maryland has a reputation for being one of the wealthiest states in the country, at least when you look at statistics like median household income, but our next guest says that when it comes to health care disparities between rich and poor communities, Maryland has got a problem on its hands. Anthony Brown is the lieutenant governor of Maryland. He is a Democrat. Lt. Gov. Brown, thank you for joining us.

LT. GOV. ANTHONY G. BROWN

12:13:13
Kojo, it's great to be back on the air with you, and let me say to Tom, my one and only time, that I'll probably have the opportunity to say congratulations for being recognized as a Washingtonian of the Year 2011 and certainly for all the works that underlie that important recognition.

SHERWOOD

12:13:32
Thank you very much.

NNAMDI

12:13:32
Last civil word you'll exchange on this broadcast. The number to call is 800-433-8850, 800-433-8850, if you like to talk with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. You can also send email to kojo@wamu.org or a tweet, @kojoshow. Lieutenant Governor, you have rolled out a plan this month to fight the problem of disparities between rich and poor communities in terms of health care in Maryland. What are you aiming to do?

BROWN

12:13:59
What we're aiming to do with this initiative that we're calling the health enterprise zone is to address health disparities that exist in Maryland. Maryland is not unique. Every country -- every state in the country can demonstrate that when you look at certain health outcomes or conditions, whether it's asthma, diabetes, hypertension, coronary disease, that you will notice significant disparities between outcomes for African-Americans and whites, other minority groups and whites.

BROWN

12:14:30
You'll also see disparities in urban centers versus suburban communities, so it's not just race or ethnicity. It's often income and geography. So in Maryland, which is a great state, I had to put that plug in there, but I think you said...

NNAMDI

12:14:47
Tom Sherwood hadn't noticed, but go ahead.

BROWN

12:14:50
It's a great state, and we certainly have our resources. We have some of the best community hospitals. We've got, you know, institutions like Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland Medical System. In fact, Maryland has, I think, the second or third most primary care providers per capita than any other state. Yet when you look at disparities, health disparities, geographic health disparities, we rank like 41st.

BROWN

12:15:15
So I'm wondering kind of where all the primary care providers are, but it really begs the question what do we need to do to get the primary care provider and all the capacity -- primary care capacity into those underserved communities so we can address out disparities.

NNAMDI

12:15:32
Presumably you have to incentivize them?

BROWN

12:15:34
You're supposed...

SHERWOOD

12:15:34
Or just give them tax breaks or give them dollars or capital dollars.

BROWN

12:15:39
Sure. You have to incentivize them. And why -- and let me just say why I think you have to incentivize them. The health delivery system and the health payment system, these are huge systems, and there's a lot of inertia and momentum. And even with the most well-intended participants, the providers, the carriers, the hospitals, in order for it to change behavior, you often have to incentivize.

BROWN

12:16:02
We do that when it comes to hospital readmissions. We do it when it comes to health information technology. Everyone agrees that it's good to reduce it -- readmissions. Everyone agrees it's good to promote health information technology. Yet, we provide incentives for those things to happen. So when it comes to health disparities, for years we talked about how it's a bad thing. Everybody agrees we need to address it, but we're not moving the numbers. So...

NNAMDI

12:16:25
And by incentivize, we are talking about finding ways for them to make more money by going into underserved areas.

BROWN

12:16:31
Absolutely. So this is what we're going to offer in this zone. Community-based organizations will come in. They'll say these are the strategies we're going to use to address disparities. And the state will offer different incentives. It may be income tax relief. It may be loan forgiveness for primary care providers. It may be assistance with adapting electronic health records.

BROWN

12:16:56
It may be property tax relief. These are the same types of incentives that we provide in the economic development contexts, right? Most states, Maryland has these economic development zones...

NNAMDI

12:17:05
Enterprise zones.

BROWN

12:17:05
...the enterprise zones. We say to a business if you go into a distressed community that has high unemployment and you create jobs, we'll offer you incentives -- income tax, property tax relief, other -- put you on the front of the line of other programs that are available in the state. We ought to be doing the same thing, and that's what this initiative does.

SHERWOOD

12:17:25
Would the critics, conservative critics say, well, this is just more government getting involved in health care. It's a market -- raise the market base. If the business is there, wouldn't the hospital -- I mean, we can talk about Prince George's County and its failure to get a new hospital. But is it -- how much of -- what kind of costs are you envisioning for this?

BROWN

12:17:44
Well, the market in health care is not always self-correcting, and that's why you have Medicaid, and that's why even in communities that I'm trying to -- that I'm describing here where you have, you know, populations, sometimes they...

SHERWOOD

12:17:59
Well, you -- actually, you didn't say that -- excuse me for interrupting you. But where are you talking -- where is the underserved communities?

NNAMDI

12:18:04
Prince George's County.

BROWN

12:18:05
I mean -- yeah. You can -- we can map. We can map health disparities in Maryland because we have the data.

SHERWOOD

12:18:10
OK.

BROWN

12:18:10
And you will see disparities in communities in Prince George's County, particularly inside the Beltway. You'll see it in our urban centers in Baltimore City.

NNAMDI

12:18:18
Baltimore.

BROWN

12:18:19
You'll also see it in Somerset County on our eastern shore. So you'll see it primarily...

SHERWOOD

12:18:23
Western Maryland?

BROWN

12:18:24
Western Maryland -- in our rural communities and in our urban centers are where you're going to see the greatest disparities. So we're not going to -- in this legislation, we're not going to draw -- take out a map and draw lines and say this is the zone. Through application, we'll have community-based resources and providers say, look, this is the community that we can make a difference. This is our strategy. These are the incentives that that you're offering that we're going to use.

NNAMDI

12:18:47
It's my understanding the proposal also establishes a cash prize for nonprofits or communities that find innovative ways to develop the overall health of a community. Tom Sherwood and I are always full of ideas. If we put together a nonprofit, we could get a cash prize.

BROWN

12:19:03
Right. And this cash prize is not going to reward good ideas. It's going to reward results. So there are a lot of good ideas out there on how to address health disparities, but what we're looking for are results. And it's not a large cash award. It's more of a recognition of good work being done and certainly within the health profession that takes a lot of pride on being recognized for achievements and results, but we think that that's an important component, not a major component of what we're proposing.

BROWN

12:19:31
The major component is the health enterprise zone where -- and here's the thing, Tom. It's not really -- it certainly isn't sort of a government handout because we are going to look to community-based organizations to identify the resources, because it will be a requirement that the private sector will bring and deliver into the community. And often, you'll see an underserved community because providers, the margin isn't enough there.

BROWN

12:19:56
They don't -- they can't maintain overhead. They can't keep the lights on because it's more expensive to provide care than the reimbursements. So our partnership with the private sector will be these incentives that are coupled with the private resources that are brought into the zone.

NNAMDI

12:20:13
Tom mentioned earlier the hospital that the governor announced last year that he was going to build a new hospital in your Prince hometown, Prince George's County, but funding for that hospital is still an open question. Lawmakers in Annapolis are expected to vote this session on whether to allow a referendum establishing slot machine gambling in Prince George's, which some people, like Senate Majority Leader Mike Miller, feel is the only way to pay for the hospital. How do you feel?

BROWN

12:20:42
I think, first of all, we do need to develop this world-class hospital and hospital system in Prince George's County to not only replace the Prince George's County Hospital center and the Dimensions operation because they're working in antiquated, outdated facilities, but because not only Prince George's County, but the entire Southern region that it serves deserves this quality health care.

BROWN

12:21:09
Not only is it going to deliver quality health care, but it's going to be really, in many ways, an economic engine for Prince George's County, creating jobs in the health care industry. In terms of paying forward, you know, there is a rough estimate that it could be $600 million, it would be split, be $200 million with the University of Maryland medical system, bringing capital and funds to the table -- I'm sorry, Prince George's County, $200 million, in the state, $200 million.

BROWN

12:21:37
Currently, the state contributes $15 million a year to that hospital system, and we’re not seeing major improvements. That's really just to maintain the system that is -- that we have today, and Prince George's County brings 15 million. What we're looking for is a long-term solution where we have modern facility. It's a facility, a hospital that will partner with the University of Maryland medical system, which is a teaching hospital. That will attract a greater patient mix and will deliver that world class system. Now, it is an expensive proposition.

NNAMDI

12:22:09
Slots. Ka-ching.

BROWN

12:22:10
Well, look, we're going to have to look at revenue sources for that. It's -- some of its going to come out of the capital budget and Maryland, you know, does enjoy AAA bond rating, so we can borrow money at some of the lowest rates in the country. Some of it will come out of operating dollars and we're going to have to look at all the revenue sources available that might fund that.

SHERWOOD

12:22:29
So what is your view on slots as just other than looking at it? Are you for slots, against slots, leaning against, leaning for, neutral?

BROWN

12:22:38
Yeah, what I don't want to see is I don't want to see a conditional approval of the hospital, where we could only move forward on the hospital if you fund it through slots revenue. And the reason why I say that is because there are very few, you know, there are very few items in our state budget where we link the expenditure with a specific revenue source. We generally raise revenues. It goes into the general fund, and the general fund is used as well as the capital budget.

NNAMDI

12:23:08
But do you have any concerns about that possible revenue source itself? What concerns do you have about what you've learned from the early experiments with slots in Maryland?

BROWN

12:23:19
Sure. So what we've learned with the early experiments if, you know, experiments -- I'm not sure if I would use that term.

NNAMDI

12:23:24
Use that term?

BROWN

12:23:26
But certainly, in the early stages of slots, it's been slower to build out and develop than we anticipated. A lot of that is attributable to the economy. But there are facilities that are online now in Cecil County, also on the Eastern Shore. And soon, it's our hope that the lottery commission will make an award out in Rocky Gap in Western Maryland and Arundel Mills and Maryland Live!, they're moving forward. They should be opening be opening up some time this year

BROWN

12:23:56
So we are -- we're seeing slots coming to Maryland. We're capturing those dollars that otherwise would be going to Pennsylvania and West Virginia and New Jersey, Marylanders who are going to play the, you know, the slots...

SHERWOOD

12:24:10
Why not a full-fledged casino in that? I mean, you're being surrounded by Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, all of which have moved on not from slots, but to full-fledged casinos.

BROWN

12:24:21
Now, I'm not opposed to full-fledged casinos, but I don’t think we're even out of the crawl stage of slots. I mean, if you think about the development of crawl, walk and then run, I think we're still sort of -- you know, we're about to go to the walking stage of slots as all the facilities come online.

SHERWOOD

12:24:40
Online gambling maybe and Internet gambling?

BROWN

12:24:41
Well, I'm not saying online, I mean, when I mean online, I mean the slots facilities, you know, standing up and opening their doors. And once that occurs, and we have our five locations up and running, then, you know, we ought to, you know, continue to evaluate them and see whether or not that's serving the purpose, and if expanding gaming is consistent with what we're trying to do.

NNAMDI

12:25:02
800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd like to join this conversation on the Politics Hour with lieutenant governor -- Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Here is Trish in Alexandria, Va. Trish, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.

TRISH

12:25:17
Hi. I was just listening to what you were talking about, trying to support medicine in underserved areas and there is an enhanced Medicare reimbursement program for any facility that wants to go and do that, which I have done in the past. And there is also support for -- there's a couple of programs that provide physicians, who will dedicate two or three years to serving in an underserved area as a primary care physician, reimbursement or forgiveness of some of their student debts. There's a J-1 visa program to bring (word?)...

NNAMDI

12:25:53
Are you suggesting that there are -- are you suggesting there are already enough incentives and that the state of Maryland doesn't need to provide anymore?

TRISH

12:26:02
No, I'm not. I -- there is a need, definitely, for additional services. But what I'm saying is incentivizing when there's already incentives may not be the real key to the problem. I -- my belief from my experience in that industry is that as much as state or federal government may propose additional service, the real gate keeper is the hospital facilities. They are the ones that, you know, are in charge of who gets accredited, who gets to work where and what line of -- they're protecting their patients.

TRISH

12:26:41
If you have to take up a three-mile ambulance ride, they would prefer that to you getting to their hospital rather than going to another one in an underserved area. So my...

NNAMDI

12:26:52
Are you going to -- please go ahead.

TRISH

12:26:55
My suggestion would be not to look for additional incentives for creating hospitals that already have their (word?). It would be a matter of requiring anyone, you know, the insurance companies have buckets of money and they could be required to put facilities within so many miles of people that they cover. I'm a believer in government's participating in society, and I think that's an important contract, but I don't know that more incentive is going to help.

NNAMDI

12:27:29
Let me see what the lieutenant governor had to say about that.

BROWN

12:27:31
Sure. Trish, I think that you make a really good point in giving an opportunity to illustrate a little bit better these health enterprise zones. We're not really looking to create new incentives. What we're looking to do is to concentrate incentives in certain communities, and for example, loan assistance program, which you mentioned and I also mentioned in my initial description. That program already exists in Maryland, it exist in many states.

BROWN

12:28:01
What we want to do is say that the priority for loan assistance programs will be to those that choose to serve in these health enterprise zones. So you may be able to benefit from the loan assistance program by serving in another part of the state, but if we have 10 people who are -- I'm just, you know, hypothetically, we have 10 people who are applying for loan assistance and we only have three loan assistance slots that we can fund, we're going to give to the three people that choose to be in the health enterprise zone.

BROWN

12:28:30
And we're going to do that with all incentives, whether it's enhanced Medicaid, whether its tax deductions for pro bono work in a community health center, whether its electronic health records and everything that I just described, as you mentioned, already exist. So we're not creating a whole new, but what we're doing is we're concentrating those incentives where we can really make an impact in a targeted community.

NNAMDI

12:28:51
Well, Trish also seem to be implying, or certainly what I got from her is that the big hospitals seem to be an obstacle to this because they want their customers to still keep coming to them. How do you handle that?

BROWN

12:29:04
Well, I mean, certainly we do want to encourage choice among patients. Patients and their physicians should have choice in terms of where they're going to elect for services in a hospital, and certainly, we don't want to see a monopoly when it comes to emergency department services provided by hospitals.

NNAMDI

12:29:24
OK. Trish, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Gerald in Annapolis, Md. Gerald, your turn.

GERALD

12:29:31
Hello. Thank you for taking my call. I just -- what the lieutenant governor and tell him that I think it's time that our elected officials screw up the courage to come up with the money by looking at our income tax system. It is a progressive system. It's a system people pay according to their means. And if it means putting a small service tax on in order to get some of these things going and built an underway -- that we should space up to it and go for it.

NNAMDI

12:30:08
Gerald, you're saying that as opposed to trying to rely on slots, correct?

GERALD

12:30:12
Slots mean put the hands in the pockets of the people who unfortunately are the least able to put their hands in their pocket.

NNAMDI

12:30:21
OK.

GERALD

12:30:22
And we...

NNAMDI

12:30:23
Because when it comes to revenue, lieutenant governor, Gov. O'Malley has been very upfront about his push for taxes and new revenue streams. The Washington Post editorialized today that some lawmakers have said his budget is even too liberal for Maryland. How would you describe what he's trying to do? And does it meet what Gerald is apparently asking for?

BROWN

12:30:42
You know, I think that the approach that we have tried to take and, I think, we've put forth is a balanced approach. And by balanced approach, we look at a number of things, and I think Gerald makes a point that, you know, slots is not sort of the end-all, be-all. You're not going to solve the deficit problem in Maryland by slots. And, in fact, there is probably no single tool in that toolbox that we could rely on in order to balance our budget, so we take a balanced approach. It included slots.

BROWN

12:31:14
It does include a more progressive income tax. You'll remember, Gerald, in 2007, Gov. O'Malley and I proposed in a general assembly -- passed a revision to our tax code that made it considerably more progressive. And when you look at our proposal that we submitted on Wednesday, we continue in that effort. We are proposing cap and deductions for certain households, incomes above $100,000 and also phrasing out exemptions, and that's in an effort to raise revenues while at the same time making our tax code more progressive.

BROWN

12:31:51
But the other point in this balanced approach is that of the $1 billion deficit that we are constitutionally mandated to close as we have to do every year, 60 -- I'm sorry, 55 percent, $610 million. And I know you're going to say, wait a second. $610 million is more than 55 percent of $100 billion -- of $1 billion. But it's about $610 million is in agency reductions and other cuts. So we're taking a balanced approach. It includes slots. It includes a more progressive income tax and includes reductions and expenditures.

NNAMDI

12:32:25
Gerald, thank you very much for your call. But there are those who feel that Maryland is already losing businesses to places like Virginia with more attractive tax rates, that the state is losing millionaire level tax payers. Aren't you worried that bolder tax policies will contribute or continue to contribute to that kind of cycle?

BROWN

12:32:43
You know, when we proposed raise in revenues, and what we proposed on Wednesday, we certainly don't take it lightly. I mean, these are some of the most difficult decisions, and we're always evaluating and analyzing the impact of our decisions on families who are having the difficult time making ends meet, small businesses, even large businesses. And we also, of course, look at, you know, our requirements in government. Marylanders are demanding. People -- we want the best schools, so we've given them the number one schools in the country.

BROWN

12:33:16
Marylanders -- we are demanding people. We want to spend more time at home with our loved ones or at work being productive and less time in traffic. And so our demands come at a price, so we have to be able to fund the demands, the needs, the services of Marylanders. Let me give you, you know, I know you raise Virginia as by way of comparison.

NNAMDI

12:33:38
The alternative.

BROWN

12:33:39
Right. You know, in 2011, Maryland had about 27,000 net gains in new jobs, and that was significantly greater, I think, double that of Virginia. And 98 percent of those were private sector jobs in Maryland. In Maryland, we have recover...

SHERWOOD

12:34:00
High quality jobs or jobs?

BROWN

12:34:01
They're high quality jobs. I mean, not, I mean, you know, I don't have the breakdown of jobs, but Maryland is, you know, has a knowledge-based, innovative economy. We were seeing expansions at Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground. These are cyber jobs. These are defense logistics jobs, intelligent jobs, information technology, life science, and so a good percentage. I just -- I don't have the breakdown in front of me. Or family-supporting, high-wage jobs that people can be proud of and that will stay in for quite some time.

BROWN

12:34:37
So -- and we've recovered 43 percent of the jobs that we lost in the recovery compared to the national average of 28 percent. So we are creating jobs in Maryland.

NNAMDI

12:34:46
That sound you hear in the background is Gov. Bob McDonnell's head exploding when you're talking about that.

NNAMDI

12:34:52
But let's talk political future for a second before you go.

SHERWOOD

12:34:53
Oh, good. I wanted to get to this hot button stuff.

NNAMDI

12:34:55
I figured you wanted to talk political future. Go right ahead, Tom Sherwood.

SHERWOOD

12:34:59
Well, what does this mean for you? You're pretty one of the most low-key political people I've ever met. In fact, I think this might be the first time I've said hello you in -- to you in person. And I'm just wondering, what do you see for yourself? Let me ask about some current races. Who are you supporting in the Senate campaign? Are you supporting the incumbent Ben Cardin?

BROWN

12:35:19
Yes. I have announced my endorsement of Ben Cardin. Yes.

SHERWOOD

12:35:23
What do you think C. Anthony Muse is doing who's running again?

BROWN

12:35:26
What do I see him doing?

SHERWOOD

12:35:26
Yeah, why? You're with the same county. And what's he trying to do?

BROWN

12:35:31
Well, I mean, he's running a campaign. He's raising issues about the quality of opportunity and, you know, and engagement by those who have not necessarily been engaged in the political process. And it's a legitimate campaign. It is very difficult to win a U.S. Senate race that, you know, with only, you know, three -- in a three-month period of time.

BROWN

12:35:55
And I think Kweisi Mfume sort of articulated it fairly accurately, which is, you know, when you're going to undertake a significant race like this, you know, you've got to put in preparation. And, you know, it takes two or three years-plus of preparation. You got to develop relationships and (unintelligible).

NNAMDI

12:36:11
Kweisi has also endorsed Sen. Cardin, correct?

BROWN

12:36:14
Yes, he has.

SHERWOOD

12:36:15
I would just -- I didn't know, I guess, that Democrats in Maryland had to have something to fight about. I mean, Donna Edwards, we know, was -- Glenn Ivey was going to run against her, and I think he had a change of heart fairly quickly, right? It just seems to me the Democrats are -- were, like, itching for maybe a fight when you guys are actually in pretty good condition.

BROWN

12:36:32
Well, I mean, look. I mean, this is what campaign seasons are about. It's about folks like Glenn Ivey who's been a faithful public servant and a state's attorney during his eight years, wants to continue making a difference in public service in his community, so he took a close look at it. I certainly admire him and anyone else that does that 'cause I am...

NNAMDI

12:36:53
Speaking of close looks, Atty. Gen. Doug Gansler has already $4 million on hand for a potential run in 2014 for governor. Former Howard County executive or Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, he's got more than a million dollars. From what I understand, you have about $800,000. When are you going to let us know what your plans are?

BROWN

12:37:15
Well, let me say that I am humbled by the support that I've seen, that we've seen in 2011. We raised about $920,000, and I'm very humbled by that. Look, there's a lot of work to do and, well, that's a humbling number. Perhaps the numbers that I'm focusing more on are, you know, driving down the unemployment rate and increasing the job numbers, the number of Marylanders who have access to health insurance, the number of Maryland kids that have access to world class education.

BROWN

12:37:48
I've said, I think, on this show, Il continue to say that, you know, I'll roll up my sleeves every day with Martin O'Malley to work on those numbers and others. And I believe that my service to the people of Maryland will not end with the completion of my term as lieutenant governor.

SHERWOOD

12:38:03
Oh, let's -- can we very quickly ask a presidential question? I presume you'll be a delegate to a Charlotte, N.C.

BROWN

12:38:08
Oh, yeah. I was a delegate in Denver, so I'm presumably (unintelligible).

SHERWOOD

12:38:11
You were initially for Hillary Clinton in -- right?

BROWN

12:38:14
Right. The Clintons were very supportive of the O'Malley-Brown campaign in '06.

SHERWOOD

12:38:17
So would you...

BROWN

12:38:18
How about let me just say in, you know, loyalty is an important part of this business as it is in most businesses, so we, you know, we're...

SHERWOOD

12:38:26
What do you think of the idea that Joe Biden will find a reason to be off the ticket and Hillary Clinton will be the vice presidential candidate?

BROWN

12:38:34
I haven't given any thought to that at all.

SHERWOOD

12:38:35
But you -- would that be a good thing or probably not going to happen?

BROWN

12:38:39
Oh, I don't know if it would be a good thing. I'd certainly -- that's a decision a few pay grades above mine, and, you know, I'm going to be supportive of the president and the re-election. I think the president's delivered on many promises that he made. He basically, you know, ensured that we didn't experience a second Great Depression by passing the Recovery and Relief Act.

BROWN

12:39:01
I'm very proud of the work and we're excited about -- in Maryland of the Affordable Care Act. So we're -- we think the president's got a strong record to run on. It's not going to be an easy campaign, and we're out there working to re-elect him.

NNAMDI

12:39:15
Anthony Brown is the lieutenant governor of Maryland. He's a Democrat. Thank you so much for joining us.

BROWN

12:39:20
Thank you for having me.

NNAMDI

12:39:21
You're listening to the Politics Hour where Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, why is D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton apparently suing the District of Columbia, the very jurisdiction that she represents in the Congress of the United States?

SHERWOOD

12:39:41
Well, I think there's an update on that. You know, there was -- the Allstate -- I think it was Allstate. I only get Allstate and whatever insurance company it was filed a suit. But...

NNAMDI

12:39:52
It wasn't the congresswoman herself.

SHERWOOD

12:39:54
Right. And, now, I was checking into this, and I saw that there was -- she put out a statement, says that her insurance company filed a lawsuit against the city for $5,800 over a July traffic incident. But she says that was a mistake and that the suit, she says, will be withdrawn.

NNAMDI

12:40:11
Oh, the suit will be withdrawn?

SHERWOOD

12:40:12
That's what she says.

NNAMDI

12:40:13
Oh. Well, those of you who don't know what we're talking about, there was a collision at the intersection of North Carolina Avenue and 8th Street Northeast last year in which the councilmember's car and a police cruiser...

SHERWOOD

12:40:27
With a light on.

NNAMDI

12:40:28
...had an interaction, if you will, and I guess they're both saying that it's the other one's fault. And that's where these insurance issues and alleged lawsuits usually come about. Joining us now in studio is Muriel Bowser. She's a member of the D.C. Council, a Democrat from Ward 4 who chairs the Council's committee on government operations. Muriel Bowser, thank you so much for joining us.

MS. MURIEL BOWSER

12:40:50
Thank you, Kojo.

SHERWOOD

12:40:51
Have you ever been hit by a police car?

BOWSER

12:40:53
No.

SHERWOOD

12:40:54
Have you ever hit a police car?

BOWSER

12:40:55
No, never.

NNAMDI

12:40:56
If you'd like to join the conversation with Councilmember Bowser, call us at 800-433-8850, 800-433-8850. Send email to kojo@wamu.org, a tweet, @kojoshow. Or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org. The last time we talked with you on this broadcast, you were leading the effort on the Council to draft new ethics legislation. The Council passed a bill.

NNAMDI

12:41:18
But ethics has only become a more pressing issue now that one of your former colleagues has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and is awaiting sentencing. How would you describe the plan that you and your colleagues passed? And what concerns do you have about where you still need to go?

BOWSER

12:41:34
Well, first of all, thank you for letting me come on and talk about ethics reform in the city. I think it's certainly top on everybody's mind. And I might disagree with you slightly. I think people have been talking about ways to make our ethics rules and regime in the District more robust throughout last year.

BOWSER

12:41:55
So we worked in the second part of the year when I became chairman of the committee on government operations to come up with a comprehensive bill that's really a transformative change in the District of Columbia, the most transformative change since the home rule as it relates to ethics. So we'll have an ethics sheriff. We'll have real penalties. We've given the Council, for the first time, the ability to expel one of its members.

BOWSER

12:42:19
We look at our top public officials, but we also want to make sure the 30,000 people that work for us have a lot to do with how money is handled in the Districts of Columbia being held to the highest standards as well.

NNAMDI

12:42:31
Tom Sherwood.

SHERWOOD

12:42:32
Well, you know, one of the issues that was discussed and voted down was the -- banning corporate contributions. A company -- an individual could have 10 different corporate LLCs or whatever they're called, and then he...

NNAMDI

12:42:50
All at the same address often.

SHERWOOD

12:42:51
Well, it didn't have to be the same, but they usually are. And then they can contribute 10 times what I, as an individual, could do. The Council decided not to ban those contributions. And now Bryan Weaver, excuse me, and Sylvia Brown have filed to put that on the ballot to make it into a ballot initiative. And Colby King has criticized you for your contributions, Colby King from The Washington Post. Why is it that the banning of corporate contributions is not a good idea?

BOWSER

12:43:23
Well, I don't think it's a good idea for a number of reasons. But let me say this also. When we looked at a comprehensive ethics reform bill, we took a look at some fundraising activities by public officials, not related to campaigns but related to inauguration committees, transition committee, legal defense funds. So we made the affirmative decision that campaign finance really warranted its own comprehensive look.

BOWSER

12:43:52
And to just try to dump everything into one bill wasn't going to be in the best interest of what we all want to accomplish, and that's a more open government that the citizens of the District of Columbia can trust. And so the Council actually did not take a vote on whether to ban corporate contributions or not. There were a number of...

SHERWOOD

12:44:13
Wasn't that an amendment by Mr. Wells (unintelligible)

BOWSER

12:44:14
It was an amendment related to...

SHERWOOD

12:44:16
Councilmember Tommy Wells.

BOWSER

12:44:17
He produced a couple of amendments related to LLCs and related to contractors. Now, the initiative that's being proposed by some citizens -- and certainly, I fully support the Democratic process, but I just want people to be mindful that one action that they may take may lead to some consequences that is really antithetical to what we want to do.

BOWSER

12:44:40
So to say that we're going to ban corporate giving like the federal government does really doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me, given that what we see at the federal level is corporate giving not disappearing. It just shifts to another mechanism. And that mechanism tends to be unlimited and less disclosed in the regime that we have in the District of Columbia. The other thing that we have to be very careful about is if we shift from corporate giving.

BOWSER

12:45:09
And we haven't really seen that many people in the District of Columbia, wealthy people that say I'm going to put up and I'm going to fund all my campaigns. We know we can't ban that type of individual personal giving as well. So you have to start thinking about what that means for people who are running.

SHERWOOD

12:45:26
And if you would ban corporation giving, then you wouldn't ban union giving and other kinds of organization giving, right?

BOWSER

12:45:33
Well, I think that's what the initiative contemplates, just keeping available unlimited PAC giving, which I don't think, you know, everything that the Supreme Court has said so far would indicate that we couldn't touch that and not touching the nonprofit or unions.

SHERWOOD

12:45:53
In fact, this...

NNAMDI

12:45:54
Our guest is Muriel Bowser. She's a member of the D.C. Council, a Democrat from Ward 4. She chairs the Council's committee on government operations. If you have questions or comments from her -- for her around ethics issues or anything else, call us at 800-433-8850. There was a direct question we got by way of a tweet, and that was "Ask Muriel Bowser if she will refuse future corporate donations."

BOWSER

12:46:17
I will not. Actually, I am -- I'm very proud to go out to the community -- the business community, the individuals all over Ward 4 and across the city -- and fundraise. And I'm very proud of the many people that contribute to our vision. I will say this also. There's been much said about how many corporations give, but nobody likes to talk about the number of individuals who give. So you referenced an article...

NNAMDI

12:46:44
Well, I suspect what people are concerned about is what they see both nationally and locally is that in their view, there is too much influence by corporations in the legislative process generally, both at the level of campaigns and at the level of donations for constituent service funds or anything else like that. How do you address that issue, that concern?

BOWSER

12:47:06
Well, I think that you address it by making clear who's giving. And then when people have questions -- now, I haven't exactly heard that question, that this person gave you this and you did that. I mean, I haven't heard that. What I've heard is the suspicion that people who give want something. And that stands to reason. That's why we have to make sure that all of our laws make it clear who's giving.

BOWSER

12:47:36
And I think that is when you ask, what do we need to do at the council as we look forward to comprehensive look at campaign finance, I think there's some -- there are areas where we can improve this...

NNAMDI

12:47:48
Would you support a law requiring more disclosure when it comes to campaign contributions from LLCs?

BOWSER

12:47:54
I will -- we're looking at that now. We're looking at what the Office of Campaign Finance needs and what we need to put in place. So the answer is yes.

SHERWOOD

12:48:00
How long will that take, this look at campaign finance 'cause I've said to people -- 'cause I've -- as a reporter and commentator, I've said, we do need a lot of disclosure. And then if you ban corporation ABC, which has a contract with the city to do something, from giving any kinds of money, then the principles of ABC, its employees, its -- the spouses, the -- will simply give money to a political action committee. Or they will give money, though, just transfer the money and drive it deeper down.

BOWSER

12:48:33
Or they will give it individually.

SHERWOOD

12:48:34
Or they will give it individually, which you cannot ban. And so then you have less clarity as to who's giving the money.

BOWSER

12:48:41
Right. And I think that we all share the same goal. We want to make it clear who's involved in the process, individuals included. So you can say, you know, Bowser, you are an aggressive fund raiser, which I make no apologies about. You can say that you've gotten -- these LLCs have given. But nobody mentions all the individuals who are also investors in what we do, and we're very proud of that.

SHERWOOD

12:49:06
I do think people are right to be concerned about the influence of money in the campaign, and I do think that more disclosure is better.

BOWSER

12:49:14
I agree with you. And I think that we're going to look across the board at giving, and if -- where there are changes warranted, we'll push for those changes.

SHERWOOD

12:49:24
But if this...

NNAMDI

12:49:24
You say you make no apologies for being an aggressive fundraiser. Talk a little bit about what it now takes, in your view, to win a seat on the D.C. Council, whether it's a ward seat or an at-large seat or the council chairman seat, and what money has to do with winning. What is that money used for?

BOWSER

12:49:41
Well, I don't think money equals victory, first of all, in D.C. politics. And we've seen a number of candidates who have, you know, gotten out of office very well funded and compensated.

SHERWOOD

12:49:55
Adrian Fenty had something nearly a $5 million campaign budget and lost.

BOWSER

12:49:56
If we have -- yeah. We have a very recent example...

NNAMDI

12:49:59
Hey, he's celebrating carnival in Trinidad, by the way.

BOWSER

12:50:01
Yeah. We have other examples. Another Fenty campaign, where he, you know, took over a very powerful economic development chair, 20-year incumbent. So I think that as -- you know, while we are all kind of cynical about politics right now, the people of the District of Columbia are savvy voters, and they recognize vision, they recognize record and they recognize accomplishment. That being said, campaigns cost money, and it's up to us to make sure we have a regime of rules that make the fundraising transparent.

SHERWOOD

12:50:34
You know...

NNAMDI

12:50:34
On to the telephone. Here is John in Petworth. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

JOHN

12:50:40
Yeah. I was wondering. You talked about wanting something for a donation, and you also talked about small businesses being sort of these main funders. I was wondering about the contributions from Donatelli Development Corporation and the associated companies. The councilwoman's received around $8,750, and also sought a $8.5 million commercial property tax abatement for that company. And I was wondering what the reason was there.

BOWSER

12:51:06
What the reason was for investing in Petworth? We're very proud that Donatelli company was one of the early investors in Petworth, transforming literally a development around the Metro station. So I don't know all of the references you're making or the amounts of money that you're referring to.

NNAMDI

12:51:27
$8,750.10, but go ahead.

BOWSER

12:51:30
Yeah. And I don't know what those numbers are. So I can't confirm that those contributions have been made.

NNAMDI

12:51:38
Well, the suggestion is that there was a relationship between that contribution and the abatement that you allegedly requested for Donatelli.

BOWSER

12:51:45
Well, that's just silly because what we -- I have encouraged the Donatelli company to develop at Petworth and other places in Ward 4 because they deliver a fantastic product. And if anybody goes to Petworth and sees the transformation would disagree, I would be hard-pressed to find somebody…

SHERWOOD

12:52:04
We're talking about Georgia Avenue and New Hampshire.

NNAMDI

12:52:06
Correct.

BOWSER

12:52:06
Georgia Avenue and New Hampshire, and, actually, in about a few weeks, we hope, as part of that development, we're going to open a brand-new sit-down restaurant on Georgia Avenue. It's going to be called Chez Billy's, and it is going to be operated by the owners of the Marvin's Restaurant, and they are operating at 14th and U now. And we're really looking forward to that transformation.

SHERWOOD

12:52:28
I think what the caller was trying to say reasonably, politely, is that you take a few thousand dollars in campaign gifts from a developer, and he or she then gets millions of dollars in tax breaks. Is that how it works?

BOWSER

12:52:44
No, that's not how it works.

SHERWOOD

12:52:46
Do -- is there demonstrable, empirical way to say that what Donatelli has done by building that big building with a swimming pool on top and all that, is that economic development, or is it tax breaks that he has received to do the project, regardless whether you got a dime or a dollar?

BOWSER

12:53:04
If I didn't believe that, I certainly wouldn't support it down at the City Council. If the question is, as a government, do we need to have more comprehensive, systematic way of dealing with economic development and how we deal with tax breaks, I think the answer to that question is yes. And that's not just in Ward 4. That's not just in Petworth.

SHERWOOD

12:53:25
That's citywide.

BOWSER

12:53:25
That's a citywide question.

NNAMDI

12:53:28
The Harry Thomas case has directed a lot of attention to the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the public-private organization he was accused of using to funnel cash back to himself. It's not the first time there have been accusations of shadiness at the trust. There have been stories about how it's been used as an alternate route of sorts for directing earmarks. Where does this trust rank on your list of concerns when it comes to ethics?

BOWSER

12:53:53
It ranks very high on my list of concerns, and I wouldn't call it a ethics question as much as a corruption question. What we've seen, as evidenced by Harry Thomas' conviction, is not a ethics question. It's a outright corruption question, and that's what we have to work with. And so I have asked our auditor to investigate the trust, not just the Thomas issues, but the trust in general. And I know that the -- our attorney general is also investigating questions around the trust.

SHERWOOD

12:54:30
What about the image of the council now? You know, even as we had Harry Thomas -- he pled guilty to two felonies. He'll be sentenced on May 3. Expectation is he'll get a couple of years in prison. But still hanging over this city is the unanswered questions the U.S. attorney is looking into, the Kwame Brown, the chairman of the council's 2008 campaign for that large seat at the time, and Mayor Vincent Gray, who is trying to run the city, but also with this cloud over his head.

SHERWOOD

12:54:59
Is there any -- do you got any sense of, well, just get beyond this? I mean, there are some people who are telling me, we are going to have a special election for mayor this year. We're going to have a special election for chairman this year, in addition to the special election May 15 for the Harry Thomas seat. It seems to me that the city is really in trouble, even if some of its other things don't happen.

BOWSER

12:55:19
Well, what's clear, Tom, is that the right people now are investigating all of the issues that you talked about. U.S. attorney is responsible for the investigation of the chairman and the mayor. And he has shown now that he is willing to put -- returning the faith of the people in government above all of the political concerns. And so I will urge him to resolve these issues as soon as possible because you're right.

BOWSER

12:55:47
As long as issues like this linger, it puts a cloud not only over the council, not only over the government, but we're suffering regionally and nationally. And the reputational hit shouldn't be underestimated. And I happen to have the honor of representing the city on two regional boards, and I want to have the full faith of my colleagues when I speak for the District of Columbia. So we have to go out and work to restore that good reputation.

NNAMDI

12:56:17
One of the boards you're sitting on now is the Metro board.

BOWSER

12:56:19
I am.

NNAMDI

12:56:19
And I live in your ward, and I see you driving around the ward from time to time. When last have you ridden a Metro bus or train?

BOWSER

12:56:26
I mostly travel to all of the board meetings, the Metro functions, on the bus and train, and some other trips too. It is important that you're sitting on a board and you experience what the riders experience. And one thing that I'm going to be setting out to do over the next couple of weeks also, Kojo, is experience what our drivers experience at night, and what our riders experience at night. I mostly...

NNAMDI

12:56:51
So you're going to be riding the bus at night or driving the bus at night?

BOWSER

12:56:53
I'm going to be riding the bus. You wouldn't want me to drive the bus, I assure you. Riding the bus.

SHERWOOD

12:56:57
Well, based on some of those videos that WTOP put out...

BOWSER

12:56:59
Yeah.

SHERWOOD

12:57:00
...I think anybody could drive the bus.

BOWSER

12:57:01
All right. So that's very important because there's some concern about bus driver safety, and Metro is looking at ways to make drivers safe, more safe. I've been critical of -- approach to...

NNAMDI

12:57:15
The shield?

BOWSER

12:57:16
To put shields over every bus. But I do see it as my responsibility to see it from the driver's eyes.

NNAMDI

12:57:24
You only got a minute.

SHERWOOD

12:57:25
I don't -- don't get started on those shield for the drivers. Metro doesn't need to be more separated from the riders. They need to be with the riders.

NNAMDI

12:57:34
Well, we're going to fight on that one 'cause I got no problems with the shields at certain times of night in particular.

SHERWOOD

12:57:40
Oh, this is...

NNAMDI

12:57:41
That's a whole other...

SHERWOOD

12:57:41
You know, we cannot live behind barriers, Kojo.

NNAMDI

12:57:44
That's a whole other story. Muriel Bowser, thank you so much for joining us.

BOWSER

12:57:47
Thanks, Kojo. Thank you, Tom.

NNAMDI

12:57:48
Muriel Bowser is a member of the D.C. Council. She's a Democrat from Ward 4 who chairs the council's Committee on Government Operation. If you'd like to see a map of bundled corporate and business donations to D.C. campaign committees and where they come from, we've just posted one at our website, kojoshow.org. Tom Sherwood. He's our resident analyst, an NBC4 reporter, a columnist for The Current Newspapers and a fighter to keep Washington residents free from all of the security barriers that keep surrounding us and now from possible shields in Metro buses.

SHERWOOD

12:58:18
No security bureaucracy. We just need security, not bureaucracy.

NNAMDI

12:58:23
He's going to be driving a bus soon. Look out. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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