Monthly Archives: December 2019

In miniature, December 22

  • Every move you make, they’ll be watching you: Montgomery County considers first-in-nation program to use road cameras to catch drivers using their cell phones [Rebecca Tan, Washington Post]
  • And whether relatedly or not: why is Montgomery County’s violent crime rate twice as high as that in neighboring Fairfax County, Va.? [Kevin Lewis, WJLA]
  • Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young gives a boost to white-van trafficking panic. Bonus: body parts harvesting rumors! [Vanessa Herring, WBAL; Donie O’Sullivan, CNN; Lenore Skenazy (“Being freaked out by a van is like being freaked out by a pigeon.”); mentioned on Yuripzy Morgan’s WBAL show]
  • In Rouse’s vision of Columbia, schools and housing patterns would work together to promote socioeconomic integration. But Howard County school boards and land use officials went their own way [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]
  • Toward greater transparency in police misconduct and discipline [Glynis Kazanjian, Maryland Matters]
  • Frederick County Charter Review Commission update: I supported and argued for Councilmember Steve McKay’s well-thought-out proposal to give voters a bigger say in filling vacancies in elected office, a responsibility currently held mostly by party central committees. [Steve Bohnel, Frederick News-Post; earlier]

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Maryland newspapers beat bad law on online political ads

I’m in the Baltimore Sun discussing a bad Maryland law passed in response to the furor over Russian trolling on social media. I wrote about it earlier when a federal district court struck the law down, and now a Fourth Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, has agreed that it is unconstitutional. Excerpt:

Exposing foreign governments’ meddling in U.S. politics is a worthy goal. Infringing on First Amendment freedoms is no way to go about it….

[After the law passed] Google immediately stopped hosting political ads in Maryland, a step particularly unhelpful to newcomer candidates, for whom advertising may be one of the few effective ways to boost name recognition. Other platforms, including some Maryland newspapers, also faced a tough position as the effective date of the law drew near. Rather than publish disclosures that might expose to competitors’ eyes confidential information about their ad rates and viewer reach, they might prefer just to immunize themselves by turning down political and issue ads in the future as a category.

Whole thing here (cross-posted from Overlawyered).

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Teacher attrition and other myths of Kirwan

Sean Kennedy of the Maryland Public Policy Institute at Maryland Reporter:

Another false “crisis” that Kirwan’s massive pay hikes seek to remedy is the “teacher shortage,” with many teachers allegedly fleeing the profession. This is belied by the facts. Under 10% of Maryland’s teachers retired, quit, or were fired last year – less than half the leave rates for similar professional jobs. And they left the profession at a much lower rate than teachers across the country….

Baltimore City spends the third most ($17,500) of the largest 100 districts nationwide, while ranking as the third worst in outcomes for all districts. Three other counties – Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard – also rank in the top ten for per pupil spending nationally.

And Stephen Walters of MPPI:

The state government will spend $8.48 billion on elementary and secondary education in fiscal 2020, a 5% hike over 2019. Its estimated share of Kirwan (about $2.8 billion by 2030) would pump that amount up by another 33%. And the $1.2 billion annual burden Kirwan would place on localities already has elected officials more than a little worried….

…between 2012 and 2017, while [the state’s] NAEP scores were declining, statewide per-pupil spending increased by over 9%. Now, after doing less with more for years, our public school monopoly seeks even more money.

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Montgomery County’s unwieldy racial lens

As promised, Montgomery County has followed through on enacting a so-called racial-equity bill, following the lead of Fairfax County, Va. and other jurisdictions. The main impacts are likely to be 1) reports, reports, reports and 2) an even higher volume of self-congratulation than is usual among MoCo elected officials. David Lublin at The Seventh State doesn’t expect it will do much for genuine social justice.

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Filed under DC area, Policy