Archive for Maryland

Political Intimidation and the Maryland Lottery

LotteryI noticed something very interesting while reading a recent article in The Washington Post about recent events at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Agency.

IGT Global Solutions Corporation (formerly GTECH) lost out on a $263 million contract with the Maryland Lottery for its “central monitoring and control systems” according to the article. After losing the contract to Scientific Games International, IGT filed a letter of protest. They didn’t stop there.

IGT doubled down and filed a second letter of protest targeting Maryland Lottery director Gordon Medenica. He sent an email to lottery staff explaining the decision-making process. The director noted in that message that the technical requirements were more important than being the low bidder.

Medenica’s statement to the Associated Press about the protest:

The real story here is the attempt by the losing bidders to bring political pressure to an ongoing procurement process. Their manipulation of an independent, objective, competitive procurement is blatantly inappropriate.

Two recent posts at Red State by an out of state blogger seemingly discuss the matter from IGT’s viewpoint. The first, by Dan Spencer, notes that Medenica “has been appointed, but not yet confirmed by the state Senate.”

That sure sounds like IGT is sending a warning shot at Medenica, as well as a subtle attempt to encourage legislators to threaten his confirmation.

Another post at Red State cites “an industry insider” who claims that “bid protests” and “legislative scrutiny” could cause problems for Medenica because he was senior executive for Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group, a “business venture that was partially owned by Scientific Games.”

What this shadowy “insider” left out is that – in addition to Northstar being partly owned by SGI – it was primarily owned by IGT. In fact, IGT owned just over 82% of Northstar, and also provided part of Northstar’s staff.

More on IGT and Lottery Director Intimidation

This all seemed strange, so I started looking into previous lottery contracts around the country and found that IGT has tried similar intimidation tactics in a few other states.

In Texas in 1998, GTECH paid out a $725,000 settlement to former lottery director Nora Linares to settle a lawsuit. The Linares suit claimed GTECH “was to blame for interfering with her employment, emotional distress and making it difficult for her to get a new job.”

Linares claimed GTECH, which operated the Texas lottery, gave her boyfriend a $30,000 consulting contract she knew nothing about before it was made public in 1996. She also alleged that the GTECH engaged in a “systematic effort” to get her fired from her job in an attempt to cover up what they had done.

In Arizona in 1993, lottery director Bruce Mayberry was fired from his job, allegedly thanks to the insistence of a former staffer of Arizona Gov. Fife Symington who then worked for GTECH. Reportedly, Mayberry “tried to force the vendor to live up to its contract.”

As a result, the Arizona Attorney General announced an investigation of the firing.

One thing mentioned in coverage of that firing involved Maryland back then:

If [Attorney General] Woods looks for a pattern, he won’t have to look far, because GTECH has a habit of hiring political insiders to do its bidding. GTECH hired two associates of Maryland’s governor during a controversial bidding war for that state’s lottery contract. GTECH won the contract, but the U.S. attorney for Maryland has conducted a yearlong criminal probe into alleged bid-rigging.

Reporting from Arizona also mentions that the Kentucky lottery director and the entire lottery board resigned after a state audit showed  that “GTECH had benefited from contract loopholes and sloppy oversight.

In 2015, former Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox went to federal prison after pleading guilty to accepting bribes. While GTECH wasn’t involved in this case, they were supporters of him. In fact, he paid a $10,000 fine in 2003 for a conflict of interest when he voted for legislation that would give GTECH $770 million and result in his law firm being hired by the company. Fox was regularly “schmoozing” with lobbyists from the company, including at Red Sox games in Fenway Park.

This is probably only the tip of the iceberg with lottery and gaming contracts across the country and around the world. While I do not really care who the Maryland Lottery agency selects to run the lottery,  this kind of political hardball by a government contractor in my own state does get my attention.

More to come.

Flashback: Kathy Szeliga in 2013

szeligaIn 2013, I blogged about reports that Delegate Kathy Szeliga called for a “legislative investigation into the failures of the state health insurance exchange” to Governor Martin O’Malley, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Speaker Mike Busch, and Leader Mike Miller.

She also told Bryan Sears of The Daily Record that she wanted a “forensic audit” to “look at the costs, the contracts and how they were awarded.”

The most memorable quote from that story:

Szeliga said Brown, former health care exchange director Rebecca Pearce and others “are just polishing a turd” when it comes to the information being released about the website and its unsuccessful rollout.

More on Kathy Szeliga

Szeliga is a solidly pro-life member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She faces hard left Democrat Chris Van Hollen in the U.S. Senate race.

She was dead-on with her comments about Anthony Brown and the Maryland Obamacare Exchange’s woes.

Ellison Baxter Quinton, 1838-1899

Baxter QuintonI originally posted this about Baxter Quinton on Facebook on September 30, 2016.

Ellison Baxter Quinton, my great-great-grandfather was born on September 30, 1838 in Chester County, SC.

He enlisted in Company F of the 23rd SC Volunteers (Hatch’s Coast Rangers) in 1861.


After being stationed in South Carolina, the regiment moved to Virginia and during the war served in General Evans’, Elliot’s, and Wallace’s Brigade. It participated in the conflicts at Second Bull Run (Second Manassas), South Mountain, and Sharpsburg, then was ordered to North Carolina and later to Mississippi. The unit skirmished at Jackson, was sent to Charleston, and in the spring of 1864 returned to Virginia. It continued the fight in the trenches of Petersburg and around Appomattox. During the Second Manassas operations, August 6-20, 1862, this regiment lost sixty-eight percent of the 225 engaged, and all its field officers were wounded. It reported 10 killed, 22 wounded, and 5 missing in the Maryland Campaign, totalled 297 men in October, 1863, and had 49 killed or wounded at the Petersburg mine explosion. The 23rd had many disabled at Sayler’s Creek and surrendered 5 officers and 103 men.

The unit surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse along with the Army of Northern Virginia. He received his parole there.

A full list of battles the regiment fought in include:

  • 1862: Malvern Hill, Rappahannock Station, 2nd Manassas (Bull Run), South Mountain, Sharpsburg (Antietam)
  • 1863: Siege of Jackson, Charleston Harbor
  • 1864: Bermuda Hundred, Siege of Petersburg, The Crater
  • 1865: Fort Stedman, Five Forks, Appomattox Court House

More on Baxter Quinton

He married Elizabeth Hudson, a direct descendant of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. They had several children including William Baxter Quinton, my great-grandfather.

E. Baxter Quinton died on August 21 in 1899 in Chester County.

Maryland’s Crossland Banner

Crossland bannerThe Maryland state flag‘s alternating quadrants consist of imagery from the Coats of Arms of the Calvert and Crossland families. William Cooke has blogged extensively about Maryland flags and banners, including the Crossland banner.

The Maryland state flag is one of only four state flags that doesn’t contain the color blue. It’s also the only one based on English heraldry.

At left is the Crossland Banner. You can purchase your own Crossland banner here.

The two symbols were first put together in 1648 by the second Lord Baltimore, Cecilius Calvert.

Here’s what Wikipedia notes about historical usage of the Crossland banner:

The red and white colored arms of the Crossland family, which belonged to the family of Calvert’s (Lord Baltimore’s) paternal grandmother, gained popularity during the American Civil War, during which Maryland remained with the Union despite a large proportion of the citizenry’s support for the Confederacy, especially in the central City of Baltimore and the counties of the southern part of the state and the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Those Marylanders who supported the Confederacy, many of whom fought in the Army of Northern Virginia of General Robert E. Lee, adopted the Crossland banner, which was red and white with the bottony (trefoil) cross (seen as “secession colors”) and often used a metal bottony cross pinned to their gray uniforms or caps (kepis). The black and gold (yellow) colors with the chevron design of the Calvert familywere used in the flags and devices and uniform pins of the Union Army regiments in the northern Army of the Potomac.

After the war, Marylanders who had fought on either side of the conflict returned to their state in need of reconciliation. The present design, which incorporates both of the coats of arms used by George Calvert, began appearing.

The current state flag with both the Crossland and Calvert heraldry include was first flown publicly in 1880 at a parade honoring the sesquicentennial of Baltimore. It was also flown in 1888 at ceremonies marking the erection of monuments at Gettysburg honoring the Union regiments from Maryland who fought there. The new state flag was officially adopted in 1904.

More on the Crossland banner

More from Cooke:

It is interesting to point out that the Crossland Banner has not attracted the negative attention that other Confederate flags have. I believe that this is because the design was created centuries before the Civil War and should not even be considered a Confederate flag, on its own. Rather it was just one symbol that Confederates in Maryland adopted. Hate groups have not used the Crossland Banner, thankfully. Flying the Crossland is not seen as controversial as it has such a rich history and has a prominent place on our State flag. Indeed, ultra-liberal Howard County, uses the Crossland Banner on their county flag.

Don’t forget to purchase your own banner here.

MD students miss school for union convention

unionThanks to a teachers’ union convention at the beach in Ocean City, students in 19 of Maryland’s 24 school districts will get a day off from school on October 21, 2016.

The only 5 districts whose students will attend school that day are Allegany, Charles, Garrett, Howard, and Montgomery counties.

Allegany lists the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) convention on their online calendar but it doesn’t appear to be a day off based on the rest of the days off on their calendar. Montgomery County students are attending school that day for the first time in recent history. Until this year, it was always a day off for both teachers and students.

Of the 19 school districts where students won’t attend that day, only 8 of them will have professional development days while 11 are closed completely. 7 of the 19 didn’t even disclose that the day off or the professional development day was related to the MSEA convention.

School board members, administrators, and even the MSEA have also opposed a recent policy enacted by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and long championed by State Comptroller Peter Franchot, which would mandate that public schools being their academic calendar after Labor Day every year. A recent Goucher College poll showed that 67% of Marylanders support this policy.

One of the arguments against the Hogan plan was that there wouldn’t be enough time after Labor Day to fit all 180 days in the classroom in before the June 15 end date included in the new policy.

Districts also want the power to set their own schedules and the teachers’ union and other unions are involved in that process as well. The school board members all want the MSEA endorsement so they can add the Teacher Approved line to campaign literature and signs.

In other words, the union and school districts are complicit in taking children out of the classroom so MSEA members can head to the beach for their convention.

More on the Maryland teachers’ union convention

I took a look at the convention website with the agenda and the schedule of workshops.

One workshop of note:

Social Justice Teaching: Weaving Social Justice Themes into Curriculum and Empowering Students

This interactive workshop will show how one world language teacher weaves issues of social justice, human and civil rights, race relations, inequality, and social consciousness into traditional units of language study. The presenter will also discuss how she integrates language acquisition skills in authentic ways into social justice lessons and units while still addressing the demands of the obligatory curriculum. Participants will explore opportunities to weave social justice themes/lessons into their own content areas. They will also examine how to develop students’ social justice consciousness and empower them to take social action.  Room 203

Presenter: Erika Strauss Chavarria is a high school Spanish teacher and member of the NEA Discipline and School-to-Prison Pipeline and MSEA Human and Civil Rights committees. She is a board member of the Howard County Education Association (HCEA), chair of the HCEA Organizing Committee, and member of the  Minority Affairs, and Government Relations committees.

In 2014, Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland wrote about teachers receiving paid professional development days to attend the MSEA convention. He noted that year there was a workshop on union organizing ahead of that year’s election:

How Do We Get What We Want? Organize!

Join us for this special session on organizing successfully in your building and local, whether the issue is professional, political, or your principal. This highly interactive session will be led by NEA organizing guru Floyd Cox, and will begin Friday at 1 p.m. in the Bayfront Ballroom. You won’t want to miss it!

It’s a concern that students are missing classroom time so teachers, in some cases who are paid for the day, can attend a union convention.