Sunday, May 26, 2013

President Obama: "I'm still learning how to be the best husband and father I can be. Because success in everything else is unfulfilling if we fail at family."

Eyder Peralta blogging on NPR website:
President Obama, on Sunday [May 19 2013] , delivered a rare, very personal commencement address at Morehouse College, the historically black, all-male insitution that is the alma mater of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It was a short speech, but Obama did not shy away from the subjects of race and responsibility. We've embedded video of the address above, but here are two excerpts you should read. They are taken from his prepared remarks:
On Personal Responsibility:

"We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you've learned over the last four years is that there's no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there's a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: 'excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.' We've got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven't. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that's still out there. It's just that in today's hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven't earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.

"You now hail from a lineage and legacy of immeasurably strong men – men who bore tremendous burdens and still laid the stones for the path on which we now walk. You wear the mantle of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, Ralph Bunche and Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver and Ralph Abernathy, Thurgood Marshall and yes, Dr. King. These men were many things to many people. They knew full well the role that racism played in their lives. But when it came to their own accomplishments and sense of purpose, they had no time for excuses."

On Family:

"I was raised by a heroic single mother and wonderful grandparents who made incredible sacrifices for me. And I know there are moms and grandparents here today who did the same thing for all of you. But I still wish I had a father who was not only present, but involved. And so my whole life, I've tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn't for my mother and me. I've tried to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man.

"It's hard work that demands your constant attention, and frequent sacrifice. And Michelle will be the first to tell you that I'm not perfect. Even now, I'm still learning how to be the best husband and father I can be. Because success in everything else is unfulfilling if we fail at family. I know that when I'm on my deathbed someday, I won't be thinking about any particular legislation I passed, or policy I promoted; I won't be thinking about the speech I gave, or the Nobel Prize I received. I'll be thinking about a walk I took with my daughters. A lazy afternoon with my wife. Whether I did right by all of them.

"Be a good role model and set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know someone who isn't on point, go back and bring that brother along. The brothers who have been left behind – who haven't had the same opportunities we have – they need to hear from us. We've got to be in the barbershops with them, at church with them, spending time and energy and presence helping pull them up, exposing them to new opportunities, and supporting their dreams. We have to teach them what it means to be a man – to serve your city like Maynard Jackson; to shape the culture like Spike Lee. Chester Davenport was one of the first people to integrate the University of Georgia law school. When he got there, no one would sit next to him in class. But Chester didn't mind. Later on, he said, 'It was the thing for me to do. Someone needed to be the first.' Today, Chester is here celebrating his 50th reunion. If you've had role models, fathers, brothers like that – thank them today. If you haven't, commit yourself to being that man for someone else."


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

''Minuscule" Misconduct = 'We Don't Make Enough $$ to Be Honest' : John Olszewski Sr, David Marks Fail to Disclose Outside Income

"Minuscule" John & "Minuscule" David

What are these boys up to now?

Willful and false financial disclosure filings can carry a criminal penalty. Failure to file or report information could lead to a civil fine for an elected official, up to $1,000 in addition to late fees. 

For venal Baltimore County councilmen, no worries. That's because a venal elected official can do pretty much as he likes, so long as he can dredge up a county attorney who is prepared to state that their criminal misconduct is "minuscule."

John Oszewski Sr. has been on the County Council for close to 15 years; he has been elected four times. This has not been time enough for him to figure out his mandatory disclosure requirements. 

Bur Mr. Oszewski has figured out that he does not need to bother the voters about his outside income so long as someone else with a county government title is prepared to call his misbehavior "minuscule." That would be county attorney Mike Field (read on, please.)

Since 2010, according to the Baltimore Sun and the Lutherville-Timonium Patch, Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr has engaged in criminal conduct.

Minuscule Johnny O

He has failed to disclose his employment with a company that has garnered a least one contract with the county to work on a new high school, being built in his district. The media sources also reported that Mr. Oszewski has worked for a second company.

The two companies are:

Mason & Son LLC


D&M Painting & Drywall Inc.

Hold on a minute; Oszewski, Sr, has also worked for a third employer:

APS East Coast Inc.

All this info has now been made public but only after asked Minuscule John about his off-the-record employment.

Do these businesses need to rely on the push-pull of the free market?  Do they need patronage by the public? 

Maybe not, since they have a double-dipper, government-paid insider, positioned to provide them confidential info about construction projects, the bidding process, the competition - an eager 36-hour a week employee, who can informally help channel tax dollars their way.

When the Patch asked Mr. Oszewski why he had not reported his outside income on the mandatory disclosure forms, he channelled his colleague, David Marks (read on, por favor) by calling his own deception "an oversight." 

Mr. Oszewski told the Patch that he must have thought the disclosure forms were actually non-disclosure forms: "I thought that meant something else," he said.

In a surprising slip into candor Minuscule John told the Sun his job(s) entailed the need to "drum up business" for his employer(s).

Don't Disclose - Ask Mr. Mike Instead

Olszewski told the Sun, that instead of reporting his outside income for years, he had asked County Attorney Michael Field about recusal. Mr. Mike, stepped right up to defend non-disclosure of private employment by public officials. 

The Sun reported Mr. Field, as follows:
Field said he does not see the councilman voting on the budget as a conflict of interest because the council doesn't vote on individual school contracts, and the D&M contract is "a minuscule part of the budget."
The Sun spoke with Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, who called Olszewski's omissions "very troubling" and added:
"These reports are critical for public trust and for ensuring that decision makers are listening first to the interests of constituents and not the voices of special interests," she said, adding that Olszewski could have been making budget decisions that affect his employer. 'The ethics board needs to ask itself what's going on here.' "
Will the Ethics Commission do anything? Well yes . . . they already have, since Mike Field has weighed in and since he is the guy who provides legal advice to the Ethics Commission. Mini Johnny O case closed even before it is opened. 


Mr. Mike to the Rescue of David Marks, too

Following an earlier report, the Baltimore Sun reported (May 13) that another member of the County Council, David Marks "was late" to disclose his employment by Loyola University.

Mr. Marks was hired not to teach political ethics of course, but "political science." 

According to the Patch, Mr. Marks, on April 25, 2013, referred to his failure to disclose private employment "an . . ." 

What is it again? Oh yes,  ". . . an oversight." 

Minuscule Dave Marks

The Sun added:
"Marks said he notified Field before accepting the teaching position to ensure that there was no conflict of interest."
"Several weeks ago, he said, he wrote to the county ethics commission to clarify that he had held the teaching position last year."
So nice that Minuscule David "clarified" it all privately - but not on time and not publicly. Of course not.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel of Common Cause Maryland is asking if there is an "endemic problem" of lax county oversight on ethics requirements. 

Don't bother to ask Baltimore County attorney 'Minuscule' Mike Field, who steps up, as requested to become part of the problem, himself. 


Patch stuff:

Minuscule John's Financial disclosure forms filed March 27

April 25 interview, in which Minuscule David Marks said his failure to file a required amended report within 30 days of his hire was "an oversight."

Monday, May 20, 2013

"I had Concerns With Cross Dressers" - Senator James Brochin Votes Against Civil Rights

Senator James Brochin does not like cross dressers. 

But why?

His complete e-mail explanation to me for not letting Maryland's HB 449 out of committee:

"I had concerns with the language as it allowed cross-dressers.  Previous versions which I supported did not include this and I tried to work with the sponsor but he liked his language."

Photo Credit: US Army Production of
Irvin Berlin's "This Is the Army, Mr Jones" (1942)

This sort of flippant response begs many questions:

Isn't cross dressing more of an on-stage, display thing? 

Was Senator Brochin turned on by Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire

Is Senator Brochin's electoral district flooded with cross dressers?

Is Baltimore County sinking under a tide of public cross dressing?

Is Maryland seeking disaster relief funds to combat a tsunami of public cross dressing?

Are cross dressers across America lined up to use the public restroom at McDonalds? Walmart? Starbucks? 

Is it accurate to blame an unnamed sponsor of a civil rights bill for one's own negative vote?

Is it fair to block a vote in committee when there is every indication that a majority of votes will pass the bill into law if it makes it to the Senate floor? (There were 23 sponsors in the Senate, with 24 votes needed for passage.)

One final question: 

Did Senator Brochin sell his vote in exchange for $$ from restaurant or other retail associations, who prefer not to go public against civil rights?

Stay tuned . . .

For more information:

Capital Gazette: Transgender rights bill killed by committee

Baltimore Outloud: Transgender Bill Dies in Committee