Connect with us

Opinions

Madaleno for governor of Maryland

No other candidate has such a strong record of leadership and achievement

Published

on

Rich Madaleno, LGBT local news stories, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Rich Madaleno is running to unseat Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

According to Wikipedia Richard S. Madaleno Jr. is an “American politician from Maryland. A Democrat, he is a member of the Maryland State Senate, representing the state’s 18th district in Montgomery County, which includes Wheaton and Kensington, as well as parts of Silver Spring, Bethesda and Chevy Chase. Madaleno served as chair of the Montgomery County Senate Delegation from 2008-2011. He previously served four years in the House of Delegates.  Growing up in Silver Spring, Madaleno was educated in Montgomery County public schools and Georgetown Preparatory School. He then went to Syracuse University where he earned a BA in 1987 and an MPA in 1989. He and his husband Mark and their two children live in Kensington.”     

So now you know the basics. Impressive but maybe not enough to get your vote. But this only scratches the surface of Madaleno’s achievements. He is much more than a local boy who made good. He is one of the hardest working legislators, a decent and honest man, who has made a career of fighting for all Marylanders.   

Rich worked hard to become one of the most knowledgeable people on how Maryland government works. He began working for the Maryland General Assembly’s Department of Fiscal Services as a Senior Analyst for the House Appropriations Committee. There is no better way to learn about government than understanding the budget. The Washington Post said about Rich, “He is an expert in tax and budget matters.”

Before running for the legislature he worked in Montgomery County’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations. So in addition to his budget expertise, Rich learned early how what happens in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. impacts every county and every individual in Maryland.

Rich’s record of success makes all Marylanders proud. He led in the fight for freedom to marry and to combat discrimination in housing and employment. He has a progressive record of achievement in human rights, voting rights and social justice. Rich is proud of having sponsored the law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment based on gender identity, and co-sponsoring the law requiring equal pay for equal work. When Republicans in Congress threatened to terminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood in 2017, Rich led the fight and sponsored the law ensuring that the broad range of health care services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics to women in communities across Maryland would continue to be funded. He co-sponsored the bill allowing counties to enact public financing for county elections and co-sponsored the law to increase the number of early voting centers. He fought back against Hogan appointees to ensure those centers were not eliminated by the Hogan administration in populous parts of Montgomery County.

On education, Rich has taken critical action to build high-quality, affordable public education. He spearheaded initiatives that improved education in Maryland at every level, from Pre-K through 12 and beyond to college, graduate studies, and career and technical education. Rich was a leader in crafting Maryland’s current landmark school funding plan that equitably delivers essential funding to elementary and secondary schools throughout the state. He successfully fought to keep that funding in place when Gov. Larry Hogan attempted to drastically cut it.  He fought to keep state funding for the new Biomedical Building at the University of Shady Grove. Rich co-sponsored laws that expand eligibility for tax credits for college savings plans, provide a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for those who have undergraduate student loans of at least $20,000, and require that Maryland contribute to eligible Maryland College Investment Plan accounts. As chair of the Senate Education and Business Subcommittee, Rich sponsored laws that resulted in a tuition freeze for Maryland college students from 2007-2010. He created and championed the Hunger Free Schools Act, which resulted in free breakfast and lunch for qualified students across Maryland. He co-sponsored the 2014 law that expands pre-Kindergarten programs to serve more of the students who need them most.

When it comes to Marylanders’ health care, Rich successfully championed initiatives to promote better public health for all Maryland residents. He co-sponsored the law implementing the Affordable Care Act in Maryland to ensure the broadest possible coverage and the best possible care for Maryland patients. Rich co-sponsored the 2017 law that prevents price gouging by generic drug manufacturers in Maryland.

On preventing gun violence, he co-sponsored Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act of 2013, which banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for firearms. On the environment, Rich has taken stands to protect Marylanders and make Maryland a leader in environmental progress. When the Trump administration proposed eliminating funding for programs to protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay, Rich worked with the state’s congressional delegation to lead efforts to restore federal funding for these programs.

To combat the increasing health, environmental and economic repercussions of climate change, he co-sponsored the new state law which requires a 40% reduction by 2030 in greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland from 2006 levels, building on his previous co-sponsorship of the 2009 law requiring the 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020. Rich co-sponsored the law establishing the Commission on Climate Change.  Rich co-sponsored the law, approved over Hogan’s veto, which increases the renewable energy portfolio standard to 25% by 2020, increases solar sources in that portfolio and requires that the Maryland Department of Labor study workforce training needed to support jobs in the clean energy industry. He also co-sponsored the law requiring offshore wind be included in the renewable energy portfolio. Rich sponsored and successfully advocated for the law that prohibits hydraulic fracturing exploration and production, including fracking, in Maryland. He co-sponsored the law requiring the establishment of a Community Solar Energy Generating System program. He co-sponsored laws enacted to increase tax credits for electric vehicles and to provide for tax credits for electric vehicle charging equipment. He co-sponsored the law creating a tax credit for the donation of fresh farm food, especially organic food, by farms to eligible local organizations for low-income Maryland residents.

An on an issue crucial to all Marylanders, transportation, Rich has been an aggressive supporter of affordable public transit in Maryland. He introduced and passed the law eliminating the antiquated “farebox recovery rule,” replacing it with real performance metrics so that the Maryland Transit Administration will fund additional transit projects that should result in transit improvements. He co-sponsored the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act that now requires transparent decision-making, including project-based scoring, for major transportation projects. He co-sponsored the law that makes sure at least one member of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission appointed by the governor resides in Prince George’s or Montgomery County, the Maryland counties where Metro stations are located. He co-sponsored the law that established the lockbox for the Transportation Trust Fund, which requires use of its revenues solely for transportation projects.

So now you know the rest of Rich’s story. It is why Marylanders who know him are already lining up to support Rich Madaleno for governor. There is no other candidate in the race — including the incumbent — who has such a strong track record of leadership and of producing real results for the people of Maryland. Madaleno has served as an effective and unrelenting champion for the entire state. From education to transportation, from economic development to economic justice, from sustainable health care to environmental sustainability no other candidate has taken on so many of the toughest fights from the inside – and won them.

On the critical issues facing the state, the people of Maryland need a proven strong and tireless leader as their governor who will set an agenda of progress for all Marylanders. Larry Hogan has proven he is not that governor – Rich Madaleno will be that governor.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Opinions

LGBTQ employees in D.C. and their legal rights

Strong protections on the books but discrimination persists

Published

on

Considering the growing presence of LGBTQ+ individuals in Washington, D.C.’s workforce, it is crucial for LGBTQ+ employees and employers to be aware of their rights in the workplace. According to the Williams Institute, 5.9% of the labor force identifies as LGBTQ+. A significant portion of this figure is younger employees. Specifically, 17% of adults under 30 identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and more than 5% identify as trans or nonbinary. D.C. stands out with a significant LGBTQ+ population. The Williams Institute estimates that 9.8% of the D.C. population is LGBTQ+, the highest percentage in the United States. 

Though in 2020 the Supreme Court affirmed in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII protections include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, workplace discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals remains pervasive. Forty-five percent of employees reported having heard anti-LGBTQ+ remarks in the workplace, and 29.8% report experiencing hiring or termination decisions that were made due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. As these issues persist through employment of all kinds, it is important to be aware of your rights and protections under the law. 

Protections for LGBTQ+ employees

In Washington, D.C., LGBTQ+ employees have rights and protections available to them under federal and D.C. law. Under federal law, Title VII protects against employment discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Similarly, under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA) it is illegal to discriminate based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of an individual.

D.C. law extends workplace discrimination protections even further than federal law. For example, under Title VII, harassment has to be “severe or pervasive” to be actionable but D.C. prohibits all forms of harassment and “no specific number of incidents or specific level of egregiousness is required.” That means that harassing conduct that would not be unlawful under Title VII could allow for recovery under D.C. law. Moreover, while federal law only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, the DCHRA applies to all employers. Also, unlike federal law, D.C. law protects independent contractors from discrimination. 

This protection can come in many forms. Employers must treat LGBTQ+ individuals equally in the workplace, for example with respect to opportunities like job promotions or project assignment. Employers also must provide equitable provisions of employee benefits, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. At bottom, no employers in D.C. may treat their employees less well because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Under the DCHRA, an employee can file a complaint where the actual discriminatory action occurred in D.C., even if the employee does not live or work there. So if an employee who works and lives in Texas, for example, experiences a discriminatory employment action in D.C., they will be protected under the DCHRA. And unlike many other jurisdictions, employees who wish to file claims under the DCHRA can file either an administrative complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, who will investigate the claim and may offer mediation processes, or go straight to filing a lawsuit in D.C. court. Either way, for non-D.C. government employees, the complaint must be filed within a year of the discriminatory action.

People who file discrimination complaints are often concerned about retaliation, and rightfully so. But both federal and city law provide causes of action for retaliation for filing a complaint or complaining about discrimination at the workplace.

In sum, D.C. offers strong protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ employees. Yet despite the strength of these protections, LGTBQ+ discrimination remains a stubborn feature of working life, in D.C. and elsewhere. Knowing your rights and educating your peers are the first step to chipping away at this persistent problem. 

This article is authored by Sanford Heisler Sharp fellow Erica Roberts, senior legal assistants Serena Bernal and Xan Wolstenholme-Britt and legal intake and operations specialist Erin Simard. Sanford Heisler Sharp is a national civil rights and social justice law firm known for its experience in employment rights. Visit sanfordheisler.com or contact [email protected] to learn more. 

Continue Reading

Opinions

Trump thinks he can say anything — even quote Hitler — and win

Listen to his words and be very afraid

Published

on

President Donald Trump

Trump believes he can say anything, even using Hitler’s words, and be elected. My faith is in the decent people in America; they will reject him. It was reported “a video posted on Trump’s social media profile featured mock-up headlines and newspaper clippings envisioning coverage after a Trump victory. One headline read: ‘What’s next for America?’ with text underneath that referred to “the creation of a unified Reich.”

The word “Reich” is associated with Germany under Adolf Hitler, who designated his Nazi regime the “Third Reich.” Then it was reported in an interview with political analyst Jon Delano on KDKA-TV of Pittsburgh, “Trump was asked whether he supports any restrictions on a person’s right to contraception?” He responded, “We’re looking at that, and I’m going to have a policy on that very shortly, and I think it’s something you’ll find interesting. I think it’s a smart decision. We’ll be releasing it very soon.” 

This despite polls showing nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe contraception should be legal, and available. After the backlash, he appeared to backtrack. Blaming someone else for the post on his website, and saying he supports contraception, but adding, it should be left to the states. I say believe what he says first, and be afraid. Women should be very afraid, if Trump is elected. Leaving it to the states gets you this: Louisiana lawmakers voted to classify abortion pills as controlled substances. This would make possession of the drugs without a prescription a crime in Louisiana, punishable by jail time. This when the Guttmacher Institute reports 63% of all abortions in the U.S. in 2023 were medication abortions. Yes, Trump is scary. 

While Trump continues to say these crazy things and seems to get away with it, the mind-boggling thing is most of the media continue to focus on Biden’s age, and a few misspoken words. Where is the rationale for that? We see misleading polls in this election cycle, in every race. Recently, Joe Scarborough had major questions about the New York Times/Siena polls, and the methodology used. It appears some respondents listed as most likely voters, actually hadn’t voted in a couple of years. Many of the polls where Trump is leading are within the margin of error. If we look at polls over the last couple of years on legislative races, and abortion, they have been wrong. Democrats ended up winning even if the polls said they were even, or behind. Maybe people just don’t want to talk to pollsters anymore, or maybe even lie to them. I haven’t responded to a pollster for at least five years. I get calls from pollsters on my land line (yes, I still have one), my cell phone, and get surveys and polling questions by email. I never respond. My advice is to disregard the public polling. 

I know candidates do internal polling, and that is fine for their purposes. But the general public would do better to listen to the candidates, hear what they say, read what they write, and believe them. Trump actually says he wants to become a dictator, and uses terms like ‘The Reich.’ He watches what states are doing about abortion and contraception and continues to say that’s fine by him. He calls the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, great patriots, and says he will pardon them. He invites a known white supremacist, Nick Fuentes, to dinner with him at Mar-a-Lago. He opposes doing anything about the border now, telling members of his party to vote against the first bipartisan bill to do something about immigration in years. He uses the slogan ‘America First’ and thinks naively, in this world, we can pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. He wants to cozy up to Putin, and thinks that is good for America. 

Young people need to be scared because he is a climate denier, and they will live with the results of that the longest. Just look at the estimate of the hurricanes for this coming season, you see what will happen if we do nothing. Trump promises a group of energy billionaires if they raise a billion dollars for him, they can “drill baby drill.” Bloomberg reports, “A victory by Republican Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election threatens $1 trillion in energy investments and future support for low-carbon energy sources,” according to a Wood Mackenzie report.

Americans must simply listen to what Trump says. That should scare, at a minimum, every woman, African American, Latino, member of the LGBTQ+ community, and young person. If we hear him, we must believe him; and we must soundly defeat him.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Continue Reading

Opinions

Urgent concerns arise when congressional staff face ethics investigations

We need safeguards to mitigate risk of unfair outcomes

Published

on

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Congressional staff tend to avoid engaging in conduct that could reflect poorly on the members they represent or that which would otherwise bring them out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight.

Last week, however, was the second time in which I broke a story about a chief of staff on Capitol Hill who found himself the subject of a complaint to the U.S. House Ethics Committee, the body whose primary responsibility is investigating reports of unethical and unlawful conduct by America’s elected representatives.

In the first, Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a report against Democratic Rep. Jake Auchincloss’s top aide because he had placed stickers over a transphobic sign that the far-right Georgia congresswoman had displayed outside her office. 

The second complaint came from an official with the Biden-Harris administration over an especially combative and anti-trans email that was sent by the highest-ranking deputy in a West Virginia Republican’s Congressional office.

The two cases are not otherwise analogous. As the emissaries of lawmakers who are responsible to their constituents, staff should be held accountable for out-of-bounds behavior like sending offensive emails to harass colleagues on Capitol Hill or in the federal government. 

By contrast, decorating a poster in the Longworth House Office Building without permission is hardly a crime that should be escalated to the Ethics Committee, particularly not when the poster is offensive to members of a marginalized community and was hung in the first place to provoke a colleague across the hall who has a trans daughter.

If a monthslong probe exploring whether a career Hill staffer had brought discredit upon the House of Representatives with his stickers was not absurd enough, it was kicked off by none other than Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been guilty of that charge virtually every day since she was elected. (Recall, for instance, that she has called for violence against her political opponents, including by publishing a video on social media in which she said then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserves the death penalty.)

A member of Congress wields a tremendous amount of power relative to even the seniormost Capitol Hill staff, a fact that was brought into sharp relief for Auchincloss’s chief of staff as he sought to defend himself against not just the committee’s investigation but also an affidavit by the Capitol Police in support of an arrest warrant along with threats and harassment so severe that his home was monitored by law enforcement.

The House Ethics Committee declined to comment when I reached out last week to confirm receipt of the complaint filed against the GOP staffer, just as they had refused to provide information about the status of the case initiated by Greene’s report.

The committee’s Senate counterpart is even more of a black box.

An article by the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan government accountability group, notes that in the recent indictment of New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, “the shocking details revealed by the allegations seemingly had no end.”

The evidence against him was sufficiently flagrant and longstanding, the article argues, to “beg the question: Is the Senate incapable of finding and rooting out potential corruption before it becomes a crime?”

Part of the problem, according to CLC, is that the Upper Chamber’s ethics committee provides no means by which a complaint can be seen through to its investigation and resolution. The public knows very little about what the committee does, perhaps because the committee does very little: a study in 2023 found that none of the 1,523 reports that were filed over a period of 15 years resulted in any formal disciplinary sanctions.

Obviously, full transparency is impossible when sensitive information must be kept confidential to protect the integrity of an investigation. However, and especially if we are going to continue seeing complaints against Congressional staff rather than the lawmakers they serve, the committees should provide more insight into their processes and decision making.

Measures could include safeguards designed to mitigate the risk of unfair outcomes when investigations are brought by members of Congress and target those who have far less power. A mechanism requiring the investigators to share more information about cases under their review, to the extent possible, would also be wise — because even when the alleged conduct by a staffer may warrant a complaint, time and resources might be better spent rooting out misconduct by members of Congress, which is almost always far more consequential. 

We should also contend with the question of whether ethics committees are ever the appropriate place to explore and adjudicate allegations against staffers, since members are fully capable of enforcing the rules in their offices. 

As demonstrated by the long and tortured process through which George Santos was finally booted from Congress, getting rid of an elected lawmaker is far more difficult than, say, firing a chief of staff. 

Ultimately, perhaps the right question is: how can we hold elected representatives to a higher standard such that they model good behavior for their employ as well as for their constituents and Congressional colleagues?

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular