Archive for News

Valentine’s Day: From Russia With Love

russiaRussia dominated headlines this Valentine’s Day in America.

Most of it related to the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser to the President just 24 days after Donald Trump was inaugurated. I won’t bore my readers with a rehash of all the news coverage online and in the media about this story, although I will point to this piece by John R. Schindler at The Observer as well as a late-breaking New York Times piece tonight. The NYT story details contacts between Russian intelligence officers and Trump campaign staff ahead of the 2016 election.

I will touch on Schindler’s piece briefly before I move on to my focus. Schindler, a former National Security Agency analyst, discusses the “war” between Trump and the nation’s spy agencies. The scariest part? That the agencies are withholding intelligence from the White House because they don’t trust the administration. One official even told Schindler that they assume the Kremlin has had ears inside the White House Situation Room since President Trump took office.

Schindler’s report is so concerning, along with all the other news about Russian ties to the Trump administration, because of other items in the news that don’t get the wall-to-wall coverage on cable news.

Just last week, Russian military aircraft buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea. The flyovers were described as “low altitude” and “high speed.” Russia denied the reports. There were several encounters between Russian military aircraft and U.S. ships in aircraft in 2016.

It also came to light today that the Russians have apparently placed themselves in further violation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty by secretly deploying a new missile system that they had been testing since 2014.

There are also reports today of a Russian surveillance ship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Delaware. This ship made a port call in Cuba before proceeding up the East Coast in international waters.

Additionally, The Moscow Times reported on a story in pro-Kremlin paper Komsomolskaya Pravda. The report included an interview with a Taliban warlord who wanted to build ties with Russia to get the United States out of Afghanistan.

Throw in all the latest intrigue with Russian spies and apparent poisonings, as well as the Flynn issues, and it’s very important that the United States keeps its eye on the ball with the Russians. They are an adversary and we shouldn’t cozy up to them or let them take advantage of us.

I’m really not sure what to make of reports the Kremlin is worried about the unintended consequences of their Trump fandom, but I suspect there’s something else behind those reports getting out.

Buckle up, the bumpy ride will apparently continue.

More Maryland Lottery Politics

Maryland LotteryI previously wrote about the Maryland Lottery and complaints and intimidation from IGT, a spurned bidder for state contracts. After that, I decided to pay more attention to news revolving around the lottery and bidding processes.

Part of the complaints from GTECH were designed to intimidate Gordon Medenica, who had been appointed but not yet confirmed, as director of the Maryland Lottery. Last week, the Executive Nominations Committee held confirmation hearings for several officials, including Mr. Medenica.

After questioning, Senator Joan Carter Conway asked that Medenica’s nomination be held for further investigation. Bryan Sears wrote about the hearing in The Daily Record.

The senator asked Medenica questions about lottery income sources before moving on to questions about the recent contract recommendation made in favor of SGI and the appeals by IGT and Gaming Innovation. As you may recall, IGT filed a protest that they eventually backed down from. Gaming Innovations moved forward with a protest that they eventually dropped.

Specifically, Conway drills down into questions about minority business enterprise (MBE) goals from all three bidders. Medenica points out that the goals are pass/fail and that all three bids met the goal of 20% participation. He also tells Conwa y that a bid with a local joint venture partner does not get any more consideration.

This question related to Gaming Innovation’s bid and their use of a “local” partner, businessman Emmanuel Bailey. In Gaming Innovation’s protest letter, they complained that their team included two members who were “running” the D.C. Lottery.

One of these partners is Emmanuel Bailey. He’s deemed a local partner for the Maryland bid and he also was for a successful bid, along with Intralot, to run the DC Lottery.

Mr. Bailey has been ensnared in investigations of the procurement process related to the DC Lottery.  He was apparently running his operations, as a local partner for Intralot, from the basement of his mother’s home in the District. He apparently lived in Maryland at the time. That is not allowed under D.C. law. You must live in D.C. to be certified as a local partner. Maryland does not have that requirement for local partners.

This puts Bailey in a bit of a quandary as it relates to the Gaming Innovation bid for the Maryland Lottery business. As far as DC is concerned, he is “local.”  If so, that means he is lying if he claims to be in Maryland as part of the Gaming Innovation bid.

To sum things up, IGT originally made an implied threat against the confirmation of Gordon Medenica as director of the Maryland Lottery before withdrawing their protest. Gaming Innovation continued their protest based on specious logic and found a sympathetic ear in Joan Carter Conway who is now holding up the confirmation.

I will continue to follow this story as it develops further.

Action Needed to Save Columbus Day in Baltimore

Columbus Day
The following email about city legislation affecting Columbus Day was sent today to local members of the Knights of Columbus by the national KofC – please share it with your friends and call Friday:

The Baltimore City Council is voting on Monday, Dec. 5, on a proposal to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ and Italian-Americans’ Day.

We urge you to call the city hall operator THIS WEEK at 410-396-3100 or the Office of the City Council President at 410-396-4804 to respectfully express your support for preserving Columbus Day.

The following points may be useful in your conversation:

  1. October 12 should continue to be celebrated as Columbus Day. We strongly object to and oppose any efforts to abolish or diminish this holiday by repeal, dilution or replacement. Such actions are unfair to Columbus himself and to those who celebrate his holiday.

  2. The legacy and accomplishments of Christopher Columbus deserve to be celebrated. He was a man ahead of his time and a fearless explorer and brilliant navigator whose daring discovery changed the course of history.

  3. Columbus has frequently been falsely blamed for the actions of those who came after him and is the victim of horrific slanders concerning his conduct.

  4. Long-time Stanford University Professor Carol Delaney has done extensive research debunking many of the negative myths about Columbus. In fact, she paints a positive portrait of a man who had generally benign relations with the Native Americans and has been unfairly blamed for everything that ever went wrong in the New World after his arrival.

  5. Advocating the addition of a new holiday is one thing, but it is something else altogether to lobby for the diminishment or elimination of an already well-established holiday that is celebrated by Americans year after year.

  6.  Because Columbus Day has special meaning — including to many Italian Americans and Catholics — efforts to repeal, diminish or replace Columbus Day are unfair and hurtful to those communities, regardless of what substitutions are offered.

More on Columbus Day

In 2014,  I wrote about Carol Delaney and her research that debunked many myths about Columbus. She also found that Columbus was searching for gold to help fund a new crusade to retake Jerusalem from Muslim invaders.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

thanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving from The Quinton Report

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

More on the Thanksgiving Proclamation

The Library of Congress has an image of the original document online as well as the text.

You can also read Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving online.

MD Public Defender’s Trump email called “inflammatory”

MD Public DefenderOver the weekend, MD Public Defender Paul DeWolfe sent an email to all Office of Public Defender (OPD) staff members across the state using state government email servers. DeWolfe insists the email wasn’t “anti-Trump” but one Republican state senator calls it “inflammatory rhetoric.”

In his email, DeWolfe mentioned that, “Many of us are still in shock and despair over the [election] results.”

He then talks about the election of Nixon and Republicans in 1968 that he claims “resulted in the reversal of so many of the progressive reforms brought about by the struggles of the Civil Rights movement.”

After detailing the things that he said Nixon was responsible for rolling back, DeWolfe then said, “Believe it or not, this election seems worse to me than even the election of 1968.”

After saying that it is time to “get angry and fight back”, he discusses Trump policies including stop and frisk, “mass deportation” of illegal immigrants, and issues related to incarceration and policing.

DeWolfe also has a three-point call to action for his staff that involves them joining his volunteer immigration team, joining the fight for bail and pretrial reform, and becoming “active in the fight against the anticipated wave of bigotry and repression against our minority, immigrant and LGBTQ clients.”

Here’s a screenshot of the DeWolfe email:

md-public-defender

Yesterday, I sent a request for comment to OPD and pointed out that the message could be considered an anti-Trump email. I received the following statement from Paul DeWolfe:

Communicating with staff about significant national and local issues relevant to criminal defense practice is an important priority of mine.  Consistent with reactions across the country, many OPD staff have expressed concern regarding how the election will impact our clients and our work.  The email message was not anti-Trump but responsive to threats made on constitutional rights that will directly impact the people we represen

After being contacted for a comment, Republican State Senator Justin Ready had strong words for the email sent to OPD staff by DeWolfe:

I think using taxpayer funded resources to send inflammatory material is questionable to say the least. It’s wrong to accuse people who voted for Trump or Trump himself of wanting to roll back the clock on civil rights. That’s an outrageous charge. The OPD performs an important public service ensuring that anyone accused of a crime can have legal representation. However, its irresponsible to be engaging in this kind of rhetoric. It’s wrong and it’s untrue.

More on MD Public Defender Paul DeWolfe

DeWolfe was named MD Public Defender in late 2009 after his predecessor was terminated. He was previously Montgomery County Public Defender.  He was reappointed earlier this year. In an interview in July, he discussed his office’s work to free people arrested during the Baltimore riots of 2015.

The MD Public Defender is hired by a 13 member Board of trustees. 11 members of that board are appointed by the Governor and one each by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. Good luck finding the membership of the board on the OPD website (or anywhere else online), it’s not there. I even looked in PDFs of their annual reports and in legislative audits.

Speaking of legislative audits – according to a story in The Daily Record in August 2014:

The Office of the Public Defender failed to ensure clients were financially eligible, and the agency failed to submit invoices to the state comptroller for timely payment, according to an audit released Thursday by the Office of Legislative Audits.

Be sure to read the entire audit online from the Office of Legislative Audits for further details.

Maryland State Board of Elections databases show DeWolfe gave money in 2006 to the campaign of Tom Perez. Federal Election Commission databases show no federal contributions given by Paul B. DeWolfe of Maryland.

More from his bio:

A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2005, Mr. DeWolfe is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a former President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, and a former President of the Bar Association of Montgomery County Maryland. Currently he is Secretary of the Criminal Law Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association.