Archive for Maryland

Paper ignores DOJ criticism of Bob Ehrlich

EhrlichA publication I generally only refer to as “a local newspaper” reported tonight on the fact that former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich sent a letter in support of convicted conman Wayne Simmons ahead of the latter’s sentencing in federal court. They made no mention of the fact that federal prosecutors were critical of the former governor’s letter in their sentencing memo.

The story in the Capital-Gazette by Phil Davis just discusses the letter that was sent by Ehrlich to the court and describes the details of it and the case.

Davis totally omits the whole point of the original blog post by William Cooke (and the one I wrote yesterday.) In addition to that, Davis gives no credit to Cooke, who uncovered the letter and the other documents from federal court records.

Ehrlich Story Not First Gaffe for Paper

This Ehrlich letter isn’t the first time the Capital Gazette has had trouble giving credit where it was due when a blogger was concerned.

During the 2014 Republican Primary for Anne Arundel County Executive, I  wrote a piece on an altercation involving then-candidate Steve Schuh with a staffer of then-County Executive Laura Neuman. Rema Rahman, who worked for the Capital Gazette then but works for Roll Call in DC now, wrote a story on the incident without giving credit to The Quinton Report. After I pointed that out in a follow-up and also corrected a misspelling of Schaffer’s name, her original story was updated to correct the spelling but stil failed to give credit.

I’m not surprised Cooke failed to get any credit in the Phil Davis story on the Ehrlich letter. I’m not really surprised Phil Davis missed the actual point of Cooke’s post either – that Ehrlich was called out in a federal court document for the contents of his letter supporting Simmons.

Other larger and more esteemed publications and broadcast outlets do a much better job than the local newspaper in Annapolis ever does in giving credit where it’s due to bloggers or other media platforms breaking stories that they then report on.

 

Bob Ehrlich called out by federal prosecutors

Bob EhrlichFormer Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, largely irrelevant in state politics after his prediction no Republican would ever be elected governor again was proven wrong in 2014, has brought himself to the attention of federal prosecutors in recent days in a less-than-positive manner.

William Cooke reports that Ehrlich wrote a long letter praising Wayne Simmons, a former Fox News commentator who pleaded guilty to a major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Much of the court proceedings centered on his impersonation of a CIA employee. Simmons is currently under house arrest awaiting his sentence later this week (July 15.)

The Washington Post noted:

In court, Simmons admitted he had lied on federal forms when he claimed he had not previously been convicted of a felony, had never filed for bankruptcy and had held a top-secret security clearance. He said he did so to help get a government job overseas.

[…]

Court records show Simmons faced tax liens totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And according to a recent filing from prosecutors, he “used his false claims of CIA affiliation to induce the IRS to abate approximately half a million dollars” in 2008.

In 2007, when he attacked a cabdriver in Annapolis, Simmons told the responding officers that he worked for the CIA and that the driver had a bomb, according to a police report.

Be sure to read the whole voluminous article linked above.

The letter from Ehrlich was sent on July 7, 2016 ahead of the sentencing in an attempt to help lessen the sentence that Simmons receives. He could receive as much as 40 years in prison.

In their sentencing memo, federal prosecutors detailed all of the crimes Simmons was guilty of and even took issues with Ehrlich’s letter; referring to the former governor by name (emphasis added):

“In light of the actual and potential harm the defendant’s crimes imposed on national security, the government is baffled by the uninformed commentary provided by the defendant’s prominent supporters. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 117-1 (letter of former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich describing the defendant as ‘patriotic’ and noting that ‘one would be hard pressed to find a person more dedicated to the security of the U.S.A.’).”

Here’s a screen capture from the memo itself:

ehrlich-simmons

Bob Ehrlich and Criminals

Ehrlich consultants Julius Henson and Paul Schurick were charged and convicted for a robocall in 2010 that was deemed to be in violation of state law and an attempt to depress turnout in majority black areas. That was Ehrlich’s second loss to former governor and failed presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. Ehrlich defended Schurick on the stand as a character witness in court.

In 1995, then-Congressman Ehrlich was criticized when he sent a letter to a federal court praising the character of convicted felon Bruce Bereano after he was convicted of mail fraud. Bereano, still a lobbyist in Annapolis, was convicted of “defrauding clients of more than $16,000 to make illegal campaign contributions.”

However, Ehrlich didn’t defend former administration official Robert Ballinger. Ballinger pleaded guilty and received probation for impersonating a federal officer. He pretended to be a Secret Service agent to withdraw money out of a bank account belonging to his father. Ballinger also claimed to be a congressional staffer, a former top official in the Maryland Republican Party, and a top staffer in the Ehrlich campaign. An Ehrlich spokesman denied he ever was on the campaign staff.

Beach Patrol captain in hot water over email

Beach PatrolWhile Rodney the Lifeguard (pictured at left) is just a fictional lifeguard from the Ocean City Beach Patrol used in a tourism advertising campaign, the real Beach Patrol is in the news now for what has become a hot-button issue in recent months.

The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday night that the Captain of the Beach Patrol, Butch Arbin, sent an email Sunday telling members of the Beach Patrol to use the locker room “that corresponds to your DNA.”

Arbin has been Captain for 20 years and a member of the beach patrol for 40. He is a teacher in Charles County during the school year and has been named Maryland Physical Education Teacher of the Year in the past.

More from the Sun on the email:

“We are not Target,” Melbourne “Butch” Arbin III wrote in an email Sunday to several dozen Beach Patrol members. “Males use the men’s locker room only! Females use the women’s locker room only!

“If you’re not sure,” he concluded, “go to Target.”

A city flack, who heard about the email from the reporter, called the comments “inappropriate” and not funny and said Arbin could face discipline, which is based on the decision of the Emergency Services Director. The director said that the comments were “insensitive” and “not a true reflection of [Arbin], our department or the Town of Ocean City.”

The emergency services manager also noted that Arbin had not intended to insult any individual or group with his words.

Arbin sent an email to his staff Monday apologizing for the original email that included these lines:

I used humor to make the point. However, this is not the same issue that has been in the news. The males that have used the Women’s locker room are not using out of necessity or because they are identifying as a woman, they are using it out of convenience.

Arbin also noted in the story from the Sun that his original email was sent after women members of the patrol had complained about men using the women’s locker room. He also noted that there are plenty of unisex restrooms available to patrol members and that there are no transgender employees. He noted that he was making a joke using the Target reference because toilet seats in women’s restrooms were being left in the raised position.

Arbin, who hadn’t heard any complaints, also said, “”I don’t care about being politically correct. That’s one of the problems in the country right now.”

He had no complaints against him according to the city’s flack and expressed surprise that anyone had passed it on without discussing it with him.

Beach Patrol captain’s email compared to Orlando massacre

Patrick Paschall, executive director of FreeState Equality Maryland, told the Sun that he and his staff had received a copy of the original message. He claimed the email violated Maryland discrimination laws and made fun of transgender people while contributing to hate and violence.

Paschall also attacked the email by invoking this weekend’s horrific massacre at a gay nightclub by a radical Islamist terrorist in Orlando that killed 49 and injured over 50 others:

“I don’t know how to express the level of anger,” he said, “especially in light of the massacre in Orlando.”

I wouldn’t be surprised with that heated rhetoric if they didn’t also go after Arbin’s teaching job in addition to the beach patrol one.

Georgetown athlete tased at Beyonce concert

GeorgetownWBFF (Fox 45) reported that 21-year old Georgetown student Ebony McKeever “returned to Gate A at M&T Bank Stadium to try re-entering the stadium and was advised by security officials she could not get in.”

Police reported she became disorderly and assaulted police officers dealing with her. She broke away after having one hand placed in a handcuff and started swinging the arm with the handcuffs attached. That was when police tased her and took her into custody. She was so uncooperative that she even refused to give them her name.

Police filed eight charges against McKeever, whowas treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

More from WBFF on the charges:

Ebony McKeever has been charged with the following: two counts of second-degree assault, trespassing, dangerous weapon with intent to injure, resisting arrest, failure to obey a lawful order, disorderly conduct and intoxication/endangerment.

Police said McKeever was the only arrest related to the Beyonce concert. She posted bond and was released.

McKeever’s residence listed on court records indicate she  lives on-campus at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Further  research indicates that she is a sprinter on the Hoyas Track & Field team.

More on Georgetown Sprinter Ebony McKeever

McKeever’s biography on the Georgetown Athletics website indicates she was a junior this year. She is a native of San Francisco and attended Sacred Heart Cathedral High School. Her personal record in the 400 meter sprint is 56.84 seconds.

McKeever has interned at Kaiser Permanente and at the (San Francisco) Mayor’s Youth Employment and Education Program. She also was elected in 2014 as a student senator in the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA).

Ebony McKeever is also active in The Grassroot Project.

More on that project (emphasis added):

The Grassroot Project serves to educate at-risk youth from Washington D.C. about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention by utilizing Division I “student-athlete” role models. Founded in January 2009, The Grassroot Project is one of the first 501(c)(3) organizations to be designed, initiated, and managed completely by NCAA Division I varsity athletes encompassing athletes from Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, and University of Maryland.

Beyonce concerts in other cities have been protested by police officers and officers refusing to volunteer for overtime hours to provide security for her concerts. The protests were because of claims that her peformance at the Super Bowl and the video for the song Formation are anti-police.

UPDATE

The Baltimore Sun reports that McKeever was escorted out of the concert for disorderly conduct before the other events unfolded.

Freddie Gray book reviews full of snark, vitriol

Freddie GrayThe book Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend by Kitria Stewart is billed as “an illustrated storybook of memories that were shared with Freddie Gray growing up in Baltimore City.”

The reviews of the book on Amazon.com have hovered around the 1-2 star range with a number of snarky, non-serious reviews mocking Freddie Gray and the premise of the book. Amazon has been cleaning them up since last night, with the reviews down from 118 to 82 to 58 at last inspection. The vitriolic reviews have been making the rounds via email and on social media over the past few days.

I’m including some of the reviews below for informational purposes. I don’t endorse any of them, good or bad since I haven’t read the book. I’m generally against using Amazon and Yelp reviews for political purposes. If you find any of the reviews distasteful, you can let Amazon know on the “Report Abuse” link under each review.

One serious reviewer recently said, “This book is Awesome it shows the real Freddie.. The side the media wouldn’t speak about! Great Job Kitria” while another wrote, “Wow! #MustRead This is such an amazing book that reflects upon Kitria’s childhood memories with Freddie!!!”

Purchase the book here.

Those types of reviews are few and  far between however.

One reviewer even used the nom de plume of “Marilyn Mosby” to leave a review while another left a 5-star review entitled, “Follow up Novel coming soon ‘2 page of Priors'” with a listing of all of Gray’s criminal charges from the online Maryland Judiciary Case Search. One amateur poet even left a review parodying “Green Eggs and Ham” with the title “Seen Drugs and Scram,”

A sampling of some of the reviews:

  • “This book was given to me by a friend, and I honestly read it objectively. However, there was no way I could stomach the tissue of lies that attempted to make a troubled youth and a concordant criminal out to be a Sunday morning choir boy. What a waste of time. Biased, politically motivated and obviously slanted to support an agenda that due to recent events has proven flawed and skewed. Lousy book. Don’t waste time or money.”
  • “It should have been called, Freddie Gray, My Friend the Criminal Drug Dealer.”
  • “Nothing like glorifying the criminal. Great example for inner city kids to read but then again liberal democrats have to fan the flames of hate to keep the inner city poor voting for their candidates.”
  • “Good to see the entrepreneurial spirit exist even in the depravity of West Baltimore. When life gives you lemons, make up a bunch of crap and put it in a book, or was that supposed to be lemonade?”
  • “Spoiler alert: he dies at the end”
  • “Ah yes Freddie gray my childhood friend with a rap sheet a mile long and constant priors. Great for kindling.”
  • “This is the sequel to the book, ‘Charlie Manson, my childhood buddy..’ Apparently someone trying to make a fast buck!!! Shame on you, Amazon for selling this trash!!”
  • “Depolorable that Amazon would allow the sale of this book, and even more so that it was even written. Propaganda at it’s finest.”
  • “Great for starting a fire pit. Or Charcoal grill.”
  • “Read this in the back of a van on a short trip. Really had me shaken up.”
  • “If I wanted to read a fairytale, I would just pick up a Disney book. What a joke. The book should be free too since the family was paid 6 million to go away.”

More on Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend

Kitria StewartThe author of the book, Kitria Stewart attended Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Baltimore City and then went on to attend college at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP), where she ran track.

The Amazon “About the Author” blurb notes that, “Kitria Stewart is a native of Baltimore, Maryland who holds a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her love for writing grew after being a freelance writer for online publications through Borderzine.com. As a former track athlete, she enjoys getting involved in the community to engage the youth through sports and reading.”

Her Borderzine author page only shows four pieces with her byline.

You can follow her on Twitter here:
@KitriaStewart

You can purchase a copy of Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend here: