Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy discusses his efforts to address gang violence. Plus, D.C. Councilmember Trayon White joins us to recap the "grocery march" protesting food deserts east of the Anacostia River.
A golf tourney threatens to bring traffic Armageddon to Montgomery County. The U.S. House takes another swing at a federal spending bill affecting local D.C. policies. And Alexandria politicians won’t vote to tee up a new plan for the city’s waterfront just yet. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Jim Moran Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-Va., 8th District)
- Ingrid Turner Chair, Prince George's County Council (D)
Politics Hour Extra
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) says that despite public perception in some parts of the country, the private sector has been growing at a faster pace than the public sector. “We’re a more privatized economy than any other major economy,” he said:
U.S. House member Jim Moran (D-8th District) discusses what brought BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) to the Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, and the impact the 6,400 workers it brings will have:
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers, who doesn't get invited to 50th anniversary parties and wants to know why. That's something we'll clear up at a later date. How are you doing, Tom?
MR. TOM SHERWOODI'm in good spirits. It's Friday. It happens to be payday at my company, and so nothing wrong with that.
NNAMDIYou guys get paid...
SHERWOODI didn't have to put up with the traffic this morning.
NNAMDIYou get paid, like, every Friday?
SHERWOODEvery other Friday.
NNAMDIOh, every other Friday. And today is your payday?
SHERWOODWhether I earned it or not.
NNAMDIWe'll talk after the show about the hundreds of thousands of dollars you owe me.
SHERWOODWell, you know, I'm smarter than that.
NNAMDIWell, let's start talking about Maryland. One of former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich's most trusted aides and a campaign consultant were accused Thursday of orchestrating tens of thousands of anonymous election night robocalls last year that prosecutors said were part of a larger attempt to suppress the black vote.
NNAMDIWith the polls still open, an unidentified woman's voice told voters who answered to relax because Gov. Martin O'Malley had already been successful in his rematch against Ehrlich. That a quote today from today's edition of The Washington Post. No indication that the former governor himself is a target of the probe. But this kind of thing has happened in Maryland before, has it not?
SHERWOODWell, you're very nice to say they've been accused, when, in fact, they've been is indicted.
NNAMDIYes. They have been indicted.
SHERWOODSo I think that sounds like a little tougher on the brain than accused.
NNAMDIThey have been indicted.
SHERWOODWe accuse people all the time of things, but they've been indicted by a Baltimore grand jury in the influence in voters' decisions, conspiracy to violate Maryland election laws, one count of failing to provide an authority line at the end of a message, you know, this annoying interrupting message was brought to you by, say, Jim Moran or somebody like that. But we'll get to him in a moment.
NNAMDIWell, let's not say Jim Moran.
SHERWOODOf course, that's in Virginia.
SHERWOODBut, you know, this is big news. I mean, this is the criminalizing of politics. I mean, you can do -- if you're going to do some campaign gimmicks at the end, you can certainly do them and stay within the law. The laws are not that tough to follow.
NNAMDIBut what is this...
SHERWOODEven though we're having these problems in the city.
NNAMDIThere seems to be an ongoing notion in Maryland among, it would appear, Republicans that black votes can be easily manipulated. I remember, when Michael Steele was running for the Senate, they brought in people from out of the state, handing around flyers, trying to give the impression that prominent black Democrats in Maryland were also supporting Michael Steele. I mean, it almost makes you feel as if some people feel that black voters are, well, easily -- easy to manipulate.
SHERWOODWell, I don't know if, in their internal memos, they decided they would target African-American voters in Prince George's County and Baltimore. But, you know, they wanted Democrats, who were voting heavily, to not vote. So you go where you know people are going to vote and where you have no local support.
NNAMDIAnd there are, indeed, a lot of black Democrats in the state of Maryland.
NNAMDIWell, onto the District of Columbia. Kaya Henderson's confirmation, she, the acting schools chancellor in the District of Columbia, who replaced the controversial Michelle Rhee, seems much less controversial. And her nomination seems likely to sail through the D.C. City Council. Why?
SHERWOODWell, first of all, she's just nicer in person than Michelle Rhee. I mean, she's pleasant. She laughs easily. And she knows how to tell people to do something without barking at them. And Michelle probably called them up and got after them. But that's the truth. I mean, she is the anti-Rhee. She was, in fact, Rhee's deputy.
SHERWOODThe tough teacher assessments...
NNAMDIAnd worked with Rhee for much of her career, yeah.
SHERWOOD...the firing of principals, the reclosing of schools, these were all done by Kaya Henderson as the chief deputy to Michelle Rhee. So this hearing was simply a chance -- it was almost a show hearing because everyone knew she was going to be named the permanent chancellor. She'll be voted in next Tuesday. But people needed to have that one last moment to have a few people come in at the hearing and say some nasty things or bad things.
SHERWOODThe council members, of course, had to have their time. But they're going to vote for her next week. And it's going to be done. And she's preparing for the next school year, not for that hearing yesterday.
NNAMDIThe D.C. City Council is considering an ethics bill. And, to the surprise of some, Attorney General Irvin Nathan, who was our guest on this broadcast last week, went into the city council and said, this is not a very good bill. It's just going to create another bureaucracy that's not going to have that much power and that what they need to do is to give his office more power. They need to give the Office of Campaign Finance more power and like that.
SHERWOODYes. So we have the inspector general. We had the D.C. auditor. We have some agencies that are -- who are charged with -- in doing the investigations, but then they don't have, really, the authority. Now, the court ruled that the attorney general could not bring some charges. And Irv Nathan said, he's already been to Capitol Hill saying, I want Congress to restore the authority of the attorney general to bring criminal charges.
SHERWOODAnd it was very clear -- he wouldn't say it was, but I said it is. You know, he would have charged Tommy Thomas, the Ward 5 councilmember, probably with criminal charges, not civil charges, if he had the power to do so. You know, and in 2014, we will be electing an attorney general for the first time ever in the city. And that person has to have the power to investigate and follow through, not just issue some report that sits on a shelf.
NNAMDIAnd the city council, itself facing a number of ethical challenges, finds itself in a position where it doesn't have a great deal of credibility on this issue.
SHERWOODWell, the council members are floundering around. You know, the chairman himself is facing inquiries, and, probably, he even expects big fines for his misuse of several hundred thousand dollars (unintelligible) how the money went...
NNAMDIAnd about two or three other members of the council, too.
SHERWOOD...and Harry Thomas, Tommy Thomas with his misspending of city money on the allegations. Then there are some other lesser problems. But, you know, we have a situation where the council members themselves have got to act to clear up this mess because it can affect -- you know, people worry about the city could have the control board come back and say, oh, the city finances are too good for that.
SHERWOODWell, the fact is, if they don't clear up the ethics, we could have a control board back again.
NNAMDIOn to Virginia, we have been in BRAC mode on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" all month long. But this is something that's been taking up a lot of the time of our guest for a whole lot longer than that. Our guest, Jim Moran, he's a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's a Democrat from Virginia. Congressman Moran, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. JIM MORANIt's always nice to be with you, Kojo. And thank you for putting the focus you have on the BRAC issue.
NNAMDIYes. We're doing Virginia this coming Monday. But since we have the congressman in the studio now, we'll look at what he's been doing. It's my understanding that the piece of it that you've been fighting, the relocation of thousands of jobs to the Mark Center was not even a part of the original process. At what point in the game did that come up? And what are your priorities at this point in the process?
MORANWell, I heard Mr. Principi say that on Monday, that it wasn't part of BRAC. He's mistaken. And this is part of the problem of not looking at the long-term ramifications. I'll give you a little history. In 2005, both Congressman Tom Davis and I strongly opposed the BRAC move in Northern Virginia, didn't make any sense.
MORANYou were taking 20,000 people, which is the equivalent of four major military bases out of Arlington and Alexandria, which is inside the Beltway, all of which was Metro accessible, and moving those folks to places that were not accessible to public transportation at Fort Belvoir in southeast Fairfax County. They did it anyway against our objections. We voted against it, spoke against it. We lost.
MORANThen we put language into the defense authorization bill which urged them if you're going to do this at least locate these people at the Springfield-Franconia Metro Station. There's a large plot of land that the General Services Administration controls. It's basically warehouse, one floor, right at the Metro station. So we transfer that to the Army, so that the Army could build at that site.
MORANAnd then I had a report done by the Corps of Engineers which showed that people, once they got on the base at Fort Belvoir, had a three to four hour backup trying to actually get to work. (unintelligible) Proving Grounds, which is west on 395 and the traditional base itself, and it -- that it would cost almost half a billion dollars, $466 million, just to provide the transportation improvements.
MORANSo the military, given that information, then decided, well, we're going to expand the definition of Fort Belvoir. So it needs to be at the Metro site at GSA -- at the GSA site, at Springfield-Franconia. They offered a -- put out a bid. Once you put out a bid, we can't get involved for legal purposes. We can't influence one bidder over another.
MORANThey decided they can't locate it at the Metro station in Springfield because it was going to take too long to move the GSA-related activity. So then we thought, well, they'll move to Eisenhower Avenue, what's called the Liberty Center -- it's Victory Center. It's -- it was an Army material command location, and it was perfect, set back from the street and so on. They didn't choose that site.
MORANI'm told what happened when the people that controlled that site thought they had a lock on it, they raised the bid by a couple hundred million. I don't know how true that is, but that's what I'm told. It makes some sense. So then they chose to locate it at Mark Center.
MORANThe Mark Center site has no access to public transportation. It's on 395. The intersections around this building -- and it's a mammoth building. If you ever get outside D.C., or Sherwood does...
SHERWOODI've seen that building.
MORAN...you can't miss -- thank you.
SHERWOODThat's one of the reasons -- it casts a...
MORANIs it not a massive...
SHERWOOD...terrible shadow. It's the one reason to turn around and come back to the civilization.
MORANOkay. Oh, well, anyway, so the intersections around that area are almost at failing level.
SHERWOODAt Seminary Road, is that (unintelligible) ?
MORANSeminary Road and 395. So then we had studies done, and the state concluded if you move the 6,400 Washington headquarter service people that the Army decided needed to be split up, then it will create failing service at all of the intersections that matter. So -- and beyond that, you've got 200,000 commuters, Kojo, going by that location every morning and evening.
NNAMDIThen, at one point, you said that the Fort Belvoir Eagle -- you were quoted in the Fort Belvoir Eagle...
NNAMDI...as saying that in some respects that decision is a victory for Northern Virginia commuters. Have those words come back to haunt you?
NNAMDIThat moving to the Mark Center would be a victory.
MORANThe moving -- moving 6,400 people out of that area was a victory. The problem is that it should have moved to a place where they had access to the Franconia Metro Station...
SHERWOODWhere do we stay...
MORANSo, well, I'll just try to fix this. Fort Belvoir is also a problem. The Mark Center is not the only problem. Fort Belvoir is also going to be a disaster for several years until we can widen Route 1. But at least Chris Van Hollen and I got $300 million. We're splitting it between Bethesda, where Walter Reed is located, where the naval medical center, and Fort Belvoir. And Fort Belvoir, since we're talking about Northern Virginia, we'll widen Route 1.
MORANWe'll fix Fairfax County Parkway. We're doing a study of public transit. So, over the long run, at least we've gotten resources together to improve that situation over the long run.
NNAMDIIs that what a delay of the deal, the move to the Mark Center would accomplish?
MORANYes. We're -- we got language into the most recent defense authorization that passed the House. That allows the Pentagon to delay, for up to one year, seven BRAC moves. And I've written to Secretary Gates. I've spoken to him any number of times. The Mark Center site needs to be number one on that list. At least, delay it for a year.
NNAMDIWhat's he saying? Will he approve the delay if the legislation goes through?
MORANOh, he's noncommittal. He's leaving. I've got to work on Leon Panetta, frankly. But the other thing we've gotten in the military construction appropriations bill and defensive appropriations bill language that says that the Pentagon can't use more than 1,000 parking spaces at that site. If you spread out 1,000 over three hours of rush hour, that's 300 per hour. We can probably accommodate that, no more. But that's one-sixth of the workforce.
MORANBut if that language passes -- and I think it will through the appropriations process -- then we will at least have alleviated the worse situation, which, I think, could cause one to two-hour delay. The secretary of transportation just said, it's -- if you go ahead and make this move, it's like putting a cork into the main artery into Washington for 200,000 commuters. So it's got to stop.
SHERWOODI thought the whole concept of BRAC, base realignment and -- what's that...
SHERWOOD...and closure system, was for people who knew what they were doing to decide how to get consolidation and to savings and make things simpler. And then -- and everyone -- the Congress will say you do it, and we'll stay out of -- we won't fight it. Now, it seems to me like we're back to where you guys, the local representatives, have to get in to something that you really shouldn't even be involved in...
SHERWOOD...because it's such a mess.
MORANTom, if it had been halfway reasonable and responsible, we wouldn't have gotten involved. This wasn't half. It was grossly irresponsible and unreasonable to move 20,000 people into a place where you have no access to public transportation. Problem is -- and, you know (unintelligible)...
SHERWOODWho made that decision? I don't want to go all the way back to the beginning.
NNAMDIAnthony Principi was the head of the BRAC Commission. He was on our first edition of the show, and that's what the congressman was referring to.
MORANAnd I -- as far -- and I know him. I know he's a decent guy. The BRAC Commission was a rubberstamp for Rumsfeld. And those folks in the Pentagon made unilateral decisions, which -- without consulting the locality, without knowing what they were doing. And I think, really, what it was all about, they wanted to move people out of office buildings where they were working with other civilian employees.
MORANThey want to get them on base -- bases, isolate them from the community at large.
SHERWOODSystem -- security stuff, is this some kind of...
MORANThey say it's community...
SHERWOODThat's (unintelligible) stuff.
MORANI think more -- it's more a cultural attitude. They -- but I won't get into all that. The security requirements are nonsense. These are people who are performing functions comparable to what other civilian agencies are doing. They should put that responsibility under the General Services Administration for security. They know what they're doing. They can exercise some judgment.
MORANAnd good judgment says, comply with President Obama's executive order to locate in communities where you have access to public transportation, where you're part of the community, where you don't deteriorate from the life of the community, but you enhance it.
NNAMDICongressman Jim Moran is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's a Democrat from Virginia. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Here is Shirley in Alexandria, Va. Gentlemen, please don your headphones. Shirley, it is your turn. You are on the air. Go ahead, please.
SHIRLEYOh, thank you so much. Congressman Moran, I'm not going to get in to the history of why this ended up across the street from where we all live on Seminary Road. My only comment to that is not -- I don't need any response from you was that I would have hoped that you and Congressman Davis and Sen. John Warner and all could have forced GSA to clean out the trailers at Springfield.
SHIRLEYWhat I do want to ask you is, are you going to -- if you're trying to stop the opening of the Mark Center in August or September by delaying it by one year, how in the world with all the money, the millions and millions of dollars, do you really think DOD is going to leave these buildings empty for a year and cut down parking spaces to 1,000? I don't think that's going to happen.
SHIRLEYAnd I am surprised -- I understand, in some way, why you're pushing that for political strategic reasons. But those of us up here in the west end, who are being impacted by the site in Victory Center is not federally owned land. It's privately owned -- allowed this to happen. It's here, and now we have to move ahead. And I do not believe that it's realistic to say we're going to shut this site down for a year until the traffic...
NNAMDIWell, congressman, you served with Leon Panetta in the House. How -- have you spoken with him about this as yet?
MORANNo. Because he has to be formally (word?).
MORANHe's going to be, and I plan on having coffee with him. He's a friend, and he's a good person. And he also understands that the language that we put in the armed services bill that limits the parking to 1,000 spaces is permanent. It's not just one year. What is one year is the Pentagon's ability to delay any move for up to a year.
SHERWOODAnd this is where you get transportation -- some transportation improvements, but not nearly enough.
MORANYes. So we've got $20 million finally reprogrammed from the Pentagon for short-term improvements. There's another $80 million that Gov. McDonnell has identified, which would give us a ramp from the HOV lanes at 395 right on to the site. That will help a substantial amount. I don't think the building is going to go empty. But, you know, you could have -- and I've talked to the undersecretary for logistics at the Pentagon about this.
MORANYou could get some public transit. For example, we're building a rapid bus transit and, ultimately, a trolley that will go up Columbia Pike from the Pentagon that could go to the Northern Virginia Community College in (word?) and right on to that site. That would help immeasurably. And it would connect the Pentagon without having to get onto 395.
MORANThe other thing they can do is to figure out a way to get people to the Pentagon and then let them take buses, which would be counter-traffic flow back to Seminary Road. Now -- and I think what might very well happen for the short term -- and I understand a one-year delay is not enough. But some of these appropriation bills, for example, are only one year at a time. So you can't -- you know, you can't bind subsequent congresses.
MORANBut, I think, what's going to happen is we'll get the Pentagon to agree to only move about 2,200 people. That would enable them to comply with the parking cap of 1,000 and then figure out how they can get the other 4,000 to that building without driving there, using buses or whatever.
NNAMDIWe have a...
MORANI don't care about them occupying the building at this point, although I don't think the building should have been built in the first place. But I just don't want them to drive because there's no room on the roads to drive there.
NNAMDIWe got another caller on the line. Here is, now, Tommy in Alexandria, Va. Tommy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TOMMYHi. Yes. I'm just -- I'm calling to ask Jim Moran -- you know, I'm getting really tired of this act of helplessness. You come on all these media shows saying, you know, I'm disgusted that this happened. And you paint yourself as some sort of courageous hero for stopping the Mark Center. I mean, here are the facts. It's not hard to find if the journalists would do their jobs.
TOMMYThe facts are that, in October 2008, when the Mark Center site was chosen on Seminary Road, Congressman Moran, you said -- I'm quoting here. You said, "The choice of Seminary Road was a victory for Northern Virginia commuters." And then after Duke Realty sold the land to the federal government so that they could actually build it, Duke Realty CEO contributed $2,300 to you, Congressman Moran.
TOMMYAnd then after Clark Construction was contracted to build the Mark Center, their executives gave you $10, 900.
NNAMDIYour point being, Tommy?
NNAMDIWhat's your point? Your ultimate point is?
TOMMYI'm saying that Congressman Moran is coming on here, painting himself as some sort of hero. And he's scoring political points off it when he consciously -- he willingly allowed this to happen.
NNAMDIYou're saying that the congressman -- Congressman Moran, in your view, facilitated the relocation to the Mark Center. Allow me to have him respond.
SHERWOODAnd then got political benefit from it.
MORANThank you. Yeah, yeah, well, first of all, that's not an accurate quote. I didn't say that. I don't think it is a victory to locate people at the Mark Center. It would have been a victory if we had located them at the -- what was called the Victory Center over in Eisenhower Avenue. That's not accurate.
MORANThere was a check that came through the real estate roundtable from a number of real estate executives that I spoke to and had nothing to do with this site. But, apparently, one came from a guy with Duke Realty. The Clark Construction is -- you should talk with people in the industry, and you'll see that they are very upset about what I have been doing in this. I believe that to be the case.
MORANClark Construction has a lot of activity throughout the Washington metropolitan area. You know, they get paid for this thing either way. And the amount of money that he's talking about, I'm not familiar with that. I'm not going to argue with him because I don't have sheets in front of me to disprove it. But the reality, I know the people at Clark Construction. They are not decision makers.
MORANThey -- apparently, they were involved in the construction of it, but, you know, there's no connection. I understand the gentleman would like to make a political connection. The fact is I have fought this from the beginning. I fought the BRAC relocation. Where you can find actual factual information is on the votes and on the information -- on the language that I have put into appropriations and authorization. That's what matters.
MORANAnd I've been -- I think it's fair to say -- the most ardent opponent of this because of the adverse effect it would have on commuters and on the neighborhood. I would not have commissioned the studies that showed that it was the wrong thing to do had I been in any way supportive of this. I'm not. I recognized, before most people, what a negative decision it was.
MORANAnd everyone that I work with will let you know I tried to stop it as best I can. The only thing I couldn't do -- when it was up to bid, I can't intervene in that because that would be illegal.
SHERWOODCan I ask about this morning's traffic?
NNAMDIIndeed. Tommy, thank you very much for your call.
SHERWOODWe're talking, the other day, that there was a nightmare in Northern Virginia, where this...
SHERWOOD...lone person, apparently now, who -- mysterious behavior in the massive shutdown of the roads in Northern Virginia.
MORANYeah, I was caught in that traffic. It took a good hour to get into...
SHERWOODIs there anything to be learned about how we respond to these incidents I've raised a couple of times? It seems to me you -- obviously, you want to make sure you're safe. And so there's a shutdown. But why does it take so long to determine what it is and then to re-open the artery...
MORANAfter they knew what was in the car. And, you know, I think they shut down the main access to the Pentagon on 395. That diverted thousands of commuters. Now, fortunately, it was Friday when a lot of people telecommute or take three-day weekends, you know, but shutting down that access, it seems to me -- and this is related to BRAC.
MORANBefore you make those decisions, you ought to consult with the locality and with the state who understands what the ramifications of it -- what has happened since 9/11, particularly, is that security trumps everything else. That's what happened in the move of 20,000 people out of these office buildings to -- down to southeast Fairfax and to the Mark Center site because security trumped every other consideration.
MORANIt shouldn't. We should exercise judgment. And I -- you know, it's hard to, you know, armchair quarterback what the FBI did. My guess is they did not consult with the traffic engineers at the state and local level who could have told them what the adverse consequences are to these commuters. And I think they overreacted.
MORANBut, you know, it's -- you can't -- nobody can criticize security people because, you know...
NNAMDIExcept Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODWell, part of the issue is -- well, even you're going to shut down -- and I realize we don't know -- and I can see they don't want to sit on Capitol Hill and say -- have someone say to them, why didn't you close that road? And why did we -- so I understand their concerns. They want to be right, and they don't want to be blamed for -- if something goes wrong.
MORAN(unintelligible) airports, Tom.
SHERWOODSo I don't understand, in Northern Virginia, why isn't there traffic policing two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight blocks away from these scenes, diverting people, rather than let them all converge and then gets stuck? I just don't understand. And if we have BRAC now and all the Seminary Roads, it sounds like you're going to just be one, big, giant Northern Virginia parking lot.
MORANOh, I agree...
NNAMDIGot to move to another topic. You've got a lot of federal workers in your district, Congressman Moran.
NNAMDIAnd Republican members of the House have put out a proposal to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next four years. You've said this is part of a series of attacks by opponents of -- quoting here -- "effective government." How would you make the case for the federal worker on the nationwide stage? I know in your district it's important. But they're saying that the federal workforce is just too big, period.
MORANYeah, and they're wrong. And that quote happens to be an accurate one, Kojo. So thank you for using it. They...
SHERWOODWe're one for one -- one for two.
NNAMDIOh, leave him alone.
MORANWell, Kojo is accurate. They -- there's a philosophy governing the majority in the House -- not so much in the Senate, but in the House -- seats of people who -- so-called Tea Party-type candidates. And they really believe that the federal government is the enemy. They took what Ronald Reagan said, and they've taken it to heart, even though he was much more nuanced than his actual governance.
MORANThey feel the government is the enemy. Here, we're -- you know, our government is essentially the size that it was back in the 1960s when we had about a third of the population. We didn't have the number -- the baby boom generation who are going to retire, 77 million people, who will need income maintenance and health care. And we weren't competing in a global economy. But they want to take government out of people's lives.
MORANThey're wrong. And they don't recognize how important government, at all levels, is to the welfare of the American people. They -- the fact is we're a more privatized economy than any other major economy. And we have a civil service, which is more honest, less corruptible, more effective, less paid than any other major civil service in the world.
MORANWe ought to be proud of them and not trying, at every opportunity, to diminish their effectiveness and denigrate their professionalism. So, having said that, one of the major problems we have in unemployment, Kojo, is what has happened to the public sector. You know, we talk about 9 percent unemployment, but the reality is the private sector has been growing. We've regained 2 million jobs. But in the public sector we've lost 470,000 jobs.
MORANLast month, 54,000 new jobs in the private sector, but the public sector lost 28,000. The month before, the public sector lost 24,000. When you take half a million jobs from the public sector, people are going to feel it. And it's not just, you know, in terms of governance. It's people able to pay their mortgages, their car payments and shop in stores throughout communities all across the country, so, yeah...
NNAMDIStates and municipalities around the country trying to balance budgets, and a lot of that budget balancing has to do with trying to reduce the public payroll. Obviously, Congressman Jim Moran is not a big fan of that. But we're just about out of time. Thank you so much for joining us.
MORANI'm just getting started.
SHERWOODI know. You're all fired up.
NNAMDII know. You're just getting warmed up.
SHERWOODBut you'd like to -- you know, Vice President Biden wants to -- he's now saying $4 billion -- $4 trillion over 10 years in the budget agreement with the House. Do you think that's going to work and you think that's going to raise the debt ceiling?
MORANNo, it's not. No.
SHERWOODIt's not going to be (word?) ?
MORANTom, there's an obvious compromise here. We're at 15 percent of GDP. We're spending at 25 percent. Reduce spending down to 20 percent, get out some of the agricultural subsidies, all that stuff, and, particularly, the tax expenditures. But you've got to raise revenue. You've got to raise revenue to about 20 percent.
MORANAnd the last -- the worst thing we should be doing is cutting the seed corn in terms of education, health care for infants, like we just did yesterday, cut 300,000 pregnant women and poor children from the nutrition that they need. They -- we're doing just the opposite of what we ought to be doing for a stronger economy and a healthier society.
SHERWOODSo there we end on a nice positive note.
NNAMDIThe passion of Congressman Jim Moran. We're going to have to extend the Politics Hour to two hours whenever we have Jim Moran on the show in the future. Jim Moran, thank you so much joining us.
SHERWOODOr if he can get through the traffic going back out to Northern Virginia.
MORANIt's okay now.
NNAMDIJim Moran is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's a Democrat from Virginia. You're listening to The Politics Hour. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, talk -- speaking of traffic in Montgomery County with the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, that event has presented the number of traffic and parking challenges to Montgomery County. That something that you've been looking into?
SHERWOODWell, you know, I haven't been out there. You know, I would go. I would spend money and go to the U.S. Open if I thought I could get there without having a BRAC-like incident to get there. I mean, the traffic is terrible. When somebody says, basically, go to Baltimore and take a shuttle bus to get to Bethesda, I mean, it's just ridiculous. And so I'm not going. I'll watch it on television.
SHERWOODBut it is a tremendous problem, and it is -- Open people are very good at saying, if you -- unless you have a place to park, you can't come here. People try to rent out their yards, you know, for $50 a day or whatever. It's just unfortunate. It's such a...
NNAMDIThere has been...
SHERWOODIt's such a beautiful golf course. I would love to walk it, even if I'm not allowed to play it.
NNAMDIThere has been some controversy over a lemonade stand outside of the U.S. Open. And we are getting a telephone call from Jennifer Hughes, who is director of the Department of Permitting Services for Montgomery County. Jennifer Hughes, thank you for joining us.
MS. JENNIFER HUGHESWell, good afternoon. Thanks for letting me...
SHERWOODIs this the lemonade lady?
NNAMDIThis is the lemonade stand controversy. You called to clarify on the county's policies regarding such stands. What is it?
HUGHESYeah, well, first of all, I just want to say that we don't go out looking for lemonade stands to shut down. This is not -- this was not a typical lemonade stand with a card table and a pitcher of lemonade. This was, in fact, an operation that had a 10-by-10-foot tent. And the people were selling drinks out of several coolers. So it's not what, I think, people would normally conjure up in their minds when they hear a lemonade stand.
NNAMDIWell, they said they were raising money for the -- for curing cancer, that kids were interested in doing it, and you came out there. And you not only rousted them, but then you fined their parents $500 for being there. And given that the PGA and the U.S. Open is expected to be making millions of dollars on this event, people thought that it's, like, not appropriate.
HUGHESWell, I understand why people would think that's not appropriate. What has been worked out is, in fact, that we did ask them to move because they were on a major entry road to the U.S. Open and where there were many tour buses and other vehicles going back and forth. And it was deemed to be a safety issue. We asked them to move onto a side street.
HUGHESThey have since agreed to do that where they are operating their drink stand and are selling their bottled drinks there.
SHERWOODWhat -- this is Tom Sherwood from Channel 4. What is the law about a lemonade stand? Is there some -- you said it's 10-by-10, not just a card table with one pitcher...
HUGHESWell, I mean --
SHERWOODIs there a standard? There's got to be some standard...
HUGHESEven -- technically, even, you know, under our law, under probably most jurisdiction of laws, there's not a distinction between, you know, a card table and a 10-by-10 tent.
NNAMDIA vendor is a vendor is a vendor.
HUGHESThat is right.
SHERWOODOr any vendor with something but...
HUGHESBut there's obviously common sense. Our inspectors, you know, don't -- as I said, they don't go around shutting down kids operating lemonade stands by the side of the road.
NNAMDIJust trying to make sure.
HUGHESWell, that was -- no.
SHERWOODIs this the only lemonade stand that you've had to deal with? Are there other, you know, renegade lemonade stands?
HUGHESAre there other -- you mean around the U.S. Open?
SHERWOODOther renegade, that's my -- yes.
HUGHESI don't think there are any other renegade lemonade stands around the U.S. Open. And I wouldn't even, again, characterize this as a lemonade stand. It was -- you know, they were selling drinks, so...
SHERWOODIt sounds like a lemonade Costco.
NNAMDIJennifer Hughes, thank you so much for joining us and making that phone call to clarify it. It is The Politics Hour, and joining us now in studio is Ingrid Turner, chair of the Prince George's County Council. She is a Democrat. You can -- if you would like to call and join the conversation with Ingrid Turner, the number is 800-433-8850. Or you can go to our website, kojoshow.org.
NNAMDIJoin the conversation there. Or send us a tweet, @kojoshow. Ingrid Turner, thank you so much for joining us.
SHERWOODAre you -- oh, go ahead.
MS. INGRID TURNERThank you for the opportunity.
SHERWOODAre you cracking down on lemonade stands in Prince George's?
TURNERWe're looking at all issues, but we try to make Prince George's County the best place to live, work and play and (word?).
SHERWOODAnd buy lemonade.
TURNERAnd buy lemonade.
NNAMDIGiven their budgetary problems, they'll probably be taxing the lemonade stands. You took over as chair of this council during the middle of a massive political scandal. Since then, Jack Johnson has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. His wife, Leslie, has been hit with conspiracy charges, and she's still holding on to her council seat.
NNAMDIBut you and your colleagues had to fight through all that and do your business on the council at the same time. If you have to give yourselves a grade, what grade would you give yourself?
TURNERI would give ourselves an A-plus, and, I guess, the reason why I want to go back to the part where you say, we had budgetary issues, I'm delighted to report that this is third time that the bond rating agencies has awarded Prince George's County with a AAA bond rating.
TURNERI was first on the council on my last term when we got our first rating for the -- from the first bond rating agency that said Prince George's County was physically responsible, prudent and was in a good situation, compared to all the other county agencies around or counties around in not only the state of Maryland. We're one of four counties that has a AAA bond rating. And, nationwide, that's very hard to achieve.
NNAMDIFinally, some good news for Prince George's County. During the past two weeks, we watched a member of Congress go down in flames for sending lewd photos of himself to people on Twitter. Leslie Johnson is fighting off federal charges. How do you feel about her keeping her seat? And at what point, would you -- do you say, it would be appropriate for her to walk away?
TURNERI think it's always important for Prince George's County, and especially as an elected official, to focus on what I've been elected to do. And that is to represent the citizens of Prince George's County. And as you mentioned, we have many issues going on in Prince George's County, and whether that's the improvement in our school system or about the economic development and Senate fund that our county executive has -- had the vision to bring forward to the county council, it's about focusing on the mission, which is the core responsibilities. And that's what the county council is...
NNAMDITranslation: I wish Leslie Johnson would go away. Here's Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODWell, that's what I was going to say. There's a difference between the court of law because Leslie Johnson is due her day in court. She's innocent until proven guilty in a court of law -- all of this. But then there is the court of public opinion. So without getting into the details of that, you would at least acknowledge that the shadow of scandal does make your job harder.
TURNERWhen anything negative happens, and that does make it -- people's jobs harder. But we look to people like you in the media to look at the positive things and go forward as Prince George's...
NNAMDIWe don't do positive.
TURNEROh, come on, Kojo.
SHERWOODWell, we could be -- we're positively negative. But when you deal with -- does she -- she doesn't have a committee; is that correct? But is she joined in discussions about what needs to be done? Is she a fully active councilmember now and making the decisions to move Prince George's forward?
TURNERAbsolutely. On the county council, we have our committee sessions, and all councilmembers as well as the public is invited to come to those committee meetings. And we listen and take input because that's where we do many of the work of the county council and the committees, and (word?) Johnson attends all the committee sessions.
SHERWOODAnd she speaks up, and she's involved.
TURNERShe speaks up, and she's involved.
NNAMDIMs. Johnson has said from the very beginning that she was elected to serve her constituents, and that if she stayed away, then her constituents would not be represented on the county council. And she feels that she has a responsibility to continue to represent them. That said, the council passed a budget last month. Everybody is pinching pennies. What were your priorities going into this budget process? And how did what you produce measure up to those priorities?
TURNERThe county council had basically five priorities, which is the priorities of the citizens, which was the priorities of the county executive. And so that made it real simple in that regard because we also work with our state partners, whether it was education, whether it's public safety, whether it was economic development. Those are all our priorities, and those are priorities of the citizens.
TURNERAnd we listen to the citizens, and we were able to pass a $2.7 billion budget that restored some funding to education. We were able to provide economic development incentives. We were able to concentrate on health care. That's a big area, I think, that you've noticed that the council is also focusing on access to health care. So we were able to focus on that area. I guess let me break it down in some specific areas.
TURNERIf we talk about education, we were able to restore $7.5 million to the board of education, which allows some core programs, whether that was the Reading Recovery program, whether -- allow the Camp Smith, the program where many of the children experience for the first time the outdoor and have the ability to go outside and see the environment. We restored funding for that. But, most importantly, on that is the specialty transportation.
TURNERSome of our children were not going to able to possibly attend these specialty schools throughout Prince George's County because of transportation issues. And whether it was the performing art schools or the science and tech school, we thought it was important that our children had that opportunity. And we restored $4 million to that.
NNAMDIOne of the things we've been dealing with in the District -- and Tom Sherwood can speak to this better than I can -- it's my understanding that the budget you passed gives the nine councilmembers each $100,000 to hand out to non-profits based on your districts. D.C. councilmembers have come under a lot of fire lately for how money is allocated to non-profits.
NNAMDIWhat safeguards have you put in place to make sure that the money in your county is put to good use and not handed off to girlfriends and others?
TURNERWell, the non-profit money is a wonderful opportunity for non-profits in specific districts. And when I say each district, each district may have unique things that they're working on in their district. And we have an application process. We put out the rules and regulations. And, this year, what we're actually adding is that for this year, under fiscal year 2012, we'll be putting on our website all the organizations that receive that additional funding through the grant process.
SHERWOODThis was a massive earmark. But I think it's the City of Chicago where the 50 councilmembers there each get $1 million to disperse.
NNAMDITo give out to the non-profits who meet the approval process of the...
SHERWOODIt just -- it -- you...
NNAMDIOr their friends.
SHERWOODYou recognize it's ripe for possible misuse and that full reporting, full disclosure, is in the law or in the requirements.
TURNERIt's disclosure, transparency, application process. Those are all part of good government. And with that, there's many opportunities for misuse with any process. But we have checks and balances in place to help ensure that that process is open and transparent in Prince George's County.
SHERWOODAnd the U.S. attorney for the area says the investigation into fraud and mispayment continues. So people ought to watch what they do, right?
TURNERMm hmm. We were elected to represent the citizens. And I'm not sure if you know I'm a United States Naval Academy graduate. So as a United States Naval Academy...
SHERWOODI'm a former yeoman, so there you go.
TURNERYou're -- okay.
SHERWOODYes, ma'am. I'll salute.
TURNERWell, you know, ethics...
SHERWOODEthics are important.
TURNEREthics have always been at the core value of duty, honor and country. Living not only four years at the Naval Academy and graduating in 1986 from the academy, and then spending 20 years on active duty, so...
TURNER...ethics and the highest respect and knowing that I have the privilege -- to rep the citizens of Prince George's County is such an honor.
NNAMDILadies and gentlemen, Tom Sherwood just snapped to attention.
SHERWOODI want to ask about the Redskins when you're ready. No, seriously...
NNAMDIWell, I wanted to ask one more question about ethics because the task force that was led by Howard University Law School Dean Kurt Schmoke sent a 250-page report, says that -- saying that the county needed to shed its reputation as a place where businesses must pay-to-play by creating an independent inspector general's office by retooling its weak ethics board and setting up an anonymous tip line, overhauling the county's contracting procedures to ensure that awards are based on merit, not cronyism.
NNAMDIWhat did you think of that report? And is that something that the council is prepared to stand behind?
TURNERWe were happy to receive that report earlier this week with the county executive. That report was presented to the county executive and the county council. My colleague, Vice Chair Olson, was also there. And we thanked the members for their work. And we look forward in cooperation with the county executive to review that report.
TURNERWe look forward to having -- actually, the commissioner is going to come and do a briefing to the full council. And we look to working together with the county executives to review those recommendations and to implement the best recommendations, so that we can continue to make Prince George's County even a better place to live.
NNAMDIYeah, but you do admit that you have a perception problem, if nothing else. There is a perception that there's a pay-to-play culture in Prince George's County. And nothing is served by pretending that doesn't exist.
TURNERI believe that there's a perception. And with perceptions, that's sometimes through, you know, the media. So we look to you to help us improve that positive media reporting, positive outlets about the good things that are happening in Prince George's County. And, I think, the mere fact that you even invited me here today might help to improve that perception of Prince George's County.
SHERWOODWell, I recommend to you...
NNAMDIAt ease. At ease, yeoman. At ease.
SHERWOODI'm positive the media will report if you guys write a strong ethics bill. We will report that, and I'm double positive that we'll report it if you slack off.
TURNEROkay. All right.
SHERWOODCan I -- I'm ready for the Redskins yet?
SHERWOODOkay. Everyone in the region will appreciate this.
SHERWOODThere's some move afoot to have the Washington Redskins, which are -- have nothing to do with Washington -- move from its training facility from Virginia to -- I guess, into Prince George's County near FedEx Field. You're willing to pay some money to have that happen?
TURNERWe're willing to work together with the stakeholders. We're willing to work with Mr. Baker to see how we can bring economic development, bring jobs to Prince George's County. And I think that's some of the things behind the Economic Development Incentive Fund, working about ways to bring more jobs and create this energy in Prince George's County. Absolutely.
SHERWOODYou know, let's have the Redskins headquartered in your -- 'cause, you know, we're in the city trying to get them to come back to the District, you know.
NNAMDIHow much county money are you prepared to expend in order to help them make that move?
SHERWOODIt makes about -- the Redskins make about $20 million a year for the county, I think.
SHERWOODSo I'm aware it's money.
TURNERYeah, they bring a lot of economic incentives. They bring a lot of economic spin-off. And we look forward to the feasibility study that will be done. We look forward to working with all the...
SHERWOODBut this is not imminent. This is not for this -- move this year type thing.
TURNERNo. That would be a future move because it would be also building the facility, finding the site and continuing to partner.
NNAMDIRushern Baker was here a few weeks ago. He basically told us his priority is jobs, jobs, jobs. At this point, what can people do at the county council level to actually create jobs in Prince George's County?
TURNERWell, some of the ways we're doing that at the county level, in the -- in our budget -- in our last budget that we passed in partnership with the county executive was, again, a $2.7 billion budget. But what we included on that was $10 million to go to road construction. And that was for community roads. That was for major intersections, and when I say major intersection -- small major intersections, that would be at the county level.
TURNERBut we added that, and we said that we wanted the -- our Office of Central Services and our Department of Public Works to work in partnership, to look to employ 51 percent of those employees coming as Prince George's County residents and citizens and contractors. So we're looking to find ways, whether it's bringing the Redskins to Prince George's County, whether it's M Squared working or whether it's a building with -- over at Milford Station.
TURNERIt's about bringing jobs to Prince George's County. And through our legislation, through our collaboration in how we are perceived, will help bring those jobs to Prince George's County.
SHERWOODIs National Harbor bringing in money? If you can put a dollar figure on the money that National Harbor is bringing to the county, what would it be now?
TURNERI don't have the dollar figure, but it's bringing a lot of money to Prince George's County. It's a leader in the region. And it was a smart investment. And we're happy to have that crown jewel in Prince George's County.
SHERWOODAre you looking forward to the discount mall that's coming?
TURNERI'm looking for all opportunities that bring jobs to Prince George's County and that bring opportunities to our citizens.
NNAMDIWe talked with Ike Leggett from Montgomery County last week. There, they've gone through a knock-down, drag-out fight with the public employees during the past few months. It's my understanding that your budget asked county employees to go without pay raises that were promised to them last year, but that there are bonuses that could be coming down the pipe to take away the sting. What was the solution that the council ultimately came up with?
TURNERWell, that's a great question because our employees are so valuable and so important. And we value what they've done and what the sacrifices they've made because, without them, Prince George's County would not be where it is today. And it will not be where it's going to be tomorrow without our employees. So our employees are paramount to Prince George's County. And it was clear that the county council supports our employees.
TURNERAnd it's clear that Mr. Baker also supports those employees. And with that, we wanted to model after what the state had come up with. The state came up with a $750 one-time bonus that doesn't impact the structural deficit of our budgets. And we look to have $750 bonus looked at when the county executive, who actually is responsible for negotiating the contracts and -- negotiating the contracts and bringing them back. So we look for him to be able to have a one-time bonus with a possible three-year contracts.
NNAMDIAnd we're almost -- I just wish one county executive would come here and say, well, our county employees are overpaid and underworked, and we're going to stick it to 'em. Wouldn't you just like to hear that one time?
SHERWOODWell, you know, we could say that about some people in the media, too, but we're not going to do it.
TURNERYou know we all work hard. That's what we're -- we're working for the citizens of Prince George's County. And you know we work hard in Prince George's County. Wouldn't you say that, Kojo?
NNAMDIOnly Karen Campbell works hard.
SHERWOODDid you -- a chair -- are you elected every year? How often do you have to be re-elected as chair?
TURNERIn Prince George's County, the chair is elected once a year in December, the first Tuesday in December.
SHERWOODAnd do you just do it for a year and give it up? Or do you -- can you regain it?
TURNERThere's been a combination of different processes throughout the year. But it's an opportunity for a new person to have an opportunity or a new person could...
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid we're out of time.
NNAMDIMadam chairwoman, thank you so much for joining us.
SHERWOODFor this year's chair.
NNAMDIIngrid Turner is chair of the Prince George's County Council. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the former newspapers. At ease, yeoman.
SHERWOODThat's right, yeoman third class, but first class in all the work I did.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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