The MoCo Local Podcast

001 - Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar

February 24, 2021 MoCo Local Season 1 Episode 1
The MoCo Local Podcast
001 - Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar
Show Notes Transcript

Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar

In this Episode, Vito takes a look at how repealing the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights is going in Maryland and how Community Solar didn’t quite get the start we needed in Montgomery County.


2:30 - Quote from Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher via Maryland Matters

3:05 - MGA Committee Meeting Video

3:36 - ACLU MD Tweet

3:57 - Will Jawando Tweet

7:13 - ZTA 20-01 bill

8:26 - Letter from Kumar Barve to Council via The Seventh State

9:03 - Mike Tidwell quote from Washington Post

9:38 & 10:51 - Comments from Councilmember Hans Riemer and Councilmember Evan Glass

13:50 - Widening freeways doesn’t reduce traffic congestion

14:12 - WMATA Ridership h/t Dan Reed at Just Up The Pike

Email: [email protected]

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Thank you to Stephen Indrisano for the Intro/Outro music 

Speaker 1:

Hey friends and welcome to the muggle local podcast. If you're new here, my name is Vito . I'm the founder of local local, and I'm based in Bethesda. On this podcast. We explore life politics and government in Montgomery County. You from a progressive lens today, we take a look at how amendments introduced by state Senator Michael Jackson, representing Prince George's County derail the bill that would fully repeal the law enforcement officer's bill of rights state Senator Jeff Wald Stryker , a Democrat representing district 18 and Montgomery County introduced additional amendments to the full appeal . And it passed the judicial proceedings committee with these amendments on Friday state, Senator Michael Jackson, who the former Prince George's County sheriff, by the way, introduced several small amendments on Friday that include provisions that would allow officers to exercise the same, right, to engage in political activity. As other state employees, while off duty permit officers to seek secondary employment, restrict income or property disclosures, prevent officers from being fired, disciplined, demoted, or denied a promotion or transfer for exercising, their constitutional rights or the rights provided for them under the bill prohibit agencies from denying officers , their right to file a lawsuit for incidents that arise while on duty enable officers to request that formal complaints be expunged from their record. If they are exonerated, the allegations were unsustained or they were acquitted by a hearing board and three years have passed since the department's decision. And it would keep formal complaints from being admissible in court. If they were unsustained or the officer was exonerated or acquitted by hearing board, it's also important to remember that one of the amendments would scrap the civilian oversight board. It's now a three person board with a law enforcement officer in two civilians, not entirely what advocates had wanted further state Senator Jeff Wald Stryker , a Democrat who considers himself progressive from Montgomery County. He represents district 18 introduced further amendments. He said that his intent was to just provide some logical simple bounds so that every minor criminal act, which none of us even considered to be criminal acts do not get someone fired from their job. It should be noted that in the bill, if a crime doesn't violate agent agency policies, it's not subject to discipline anyway. So that amendment seems superfluous. This is what Senator Jill had to say about the bill with amendments. She authored the original bill with the full repeal.

Speaker 2:

This is no longer my bill. I will vote yes. On the bill because it's a smidgen of an improvement over the prior law enforcement officer's bill of rights. Um, we still should call it the law enforcement officer's bill of rights, because that's what it is. So I'll vote. Yes, because it's a slight improvement, but it's not a repeal

Speaker 1:

Advocates and organizations like the ACLU of Maryland say that SB six 27 is no longer the bill that the community and directly impacted families have been asking you to pass, take the bill back to the committee and returning to the original intent. Anything less than a real repeal of the law enforcement officer, bill of rights and community oversight is unacceptable. Council member will . Jalonda noted that these weekend amendments give police officers extra rights that no citizen has. So this isn't a repeal at all. This is still the law enforcement officer, bill of rights. I'm a little unsure why we even had a police accountability work group last year. If we weren't going to repeal the law enforcement officer bill of rights. In fact, this is what enforcement officials, especially the freshmen were police, which was the police union in Maryland, why they don't want to repeal of the law enforcement officer's bill of rights. Uh, and I think it's important to note that , uh, Senator Jeffrey Wald striker , um, has received donations from the Montgomery County FOP. I think , um, 6,600 in the past few years, state Senator will Smith has also received donations from police packs and the FOP. It's about $2,000 since 2017. Uh , there's probably more going back further. I just didn't go back that far. So we have Democrats derailing the full repeal of law enforcement officer bill of rights. This is , uh, what law enforcement wants. They don't want this repealed because it gives them extra rights above and beyond what citizens already have. And to have these , uh, senators, Senator Jeffrey waltz , Stryker , and Senator will Smith consider themselves progressive. And I don't want to gate keep , but if you're going to call yourself a progressive, then you should support the full repeal of the law enforcement officer. Bill of rights. Progressivism is about seeing the humanity in everybody and giving law enforcement officials extra rights above and beyond what a citizen already has takes away. The humanity of others. You can't have both, especially when the police system is built a top white supremacy and oppression. We know what's going to happen. And in fact has happened in Montgomery County, as well as other places in Maryland. I would love to hear your thoughts on the repeal of the law enforcement officer, bill of rights or the lack of a full repeal. You can send me an [email protected] . You can also send me a DM on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Tuesday , the 23rd Montgomery County council voted on a zoning text amendment, which would allow solar collection in the agricultural reserve. Agricultural reserve is about , um , one third of Montgomery County. It's reserved land. It cannot be developed. It's reserved for agriculture farming, but this amendment would allow for solar projects on protected form land environmentalist conservation, as civic groups, farmers in the County were in favor of the bill as was, as it was originally written, originally submitted. But after a year of debate some environmental groups, I wouldn't really call them environmental groups one, I guess, and this is such a watered down version that people were actually saying to just scrap it and by people, I mean a state Senator who , uh , chairs, the house of delegates environment and transportation committee, Kumar, Barb , uh , urged County council members to withdraw what has become a potentially harmful bill if a local government of Montgomery County stature and progressive reputation can turn its back on affordable community, solar, other Maryland counties might likely follow suit. And it's important to note that groups like Montgomery County Sierra club, back to the original version, the Chesapeake climate network, back to the original version. And in fact, the director of the Chesapeake climate action network, my Kidwell said in an interview that I don't think I've ever seen such bad energy policy about to be made. This is the most unbalanced Andrus anti-solar bill in the region. So this bill, which is supposedly made written to allow solar projects, this is an anti-solar bill. I mean, you can't really make this up. Let's listen to what council member Han dreamier had to say about the bill. He was the one who originally submitted it.

Speaker 3:

Okay, well , uh , we've talked a lot. Um, I mentioned we probably don't want to talk as much today and just move, move through some boats. But , um, you know, since our last session, there has been a lot of , um, you know, feedback from the community and especially from the private sector, but as well as state policymakers and um, you know, I think everyone knows where I stand. Um, I strongly support what we proposed. Um, the feedback that we have received, I think is very concerning that the amended CTA , uh, will essentially , um, result in very little as any solar development , um, and more problematically, I think sets a very concerning precedent , uh , for state policy that relies upon local communities to , uh, you know, shoulder a share of this, of the change that's needed

Speaker 1:

Here is what council member Evan glass had to say about the bill with the amendments

Speaker 3:

As a number of you have indicated, this is a difficult situation. Um, and after much reflection, I've decided that I'm going to be voting for this because I've been elected to get things done, not to take protest votes. And I know that some will declare victory one , one or two solar installations get built, but that is not victory because we need to do so much more. A few solar installations is not the goal of this CTA . It's the starting point. And my vote today is to start that process officially, but we have a long way to go. And so I view this program, this process as a pilot program, and one that we need to expand upon in the future in order to meet our energy needs. Uh, but this proposal is not as strong as it should be or needs to be, but it does open the door, a step, a tiny step, and it is not what a climate emergency demands of us, but it is the result of this legislative process. And I respect that .

Speaker 1:

All right. Uh , forgive me. I'm going to be spit on here a little bit, but gosh, I don't even know what to say. I mean, again, we have , uh , a legislative body that considers itself progressive. That's not really passing progressive legislation. We're in the midst of climate change. It's not something that's going to happen in a generation or two it's happening right now. In fact, it's been happening for a while. You know, obviously the most recent example is what happened in the Midwest and the South specifically in Texas this past week and a half, you know, climate change. Isn't just about, you know, a warming earth and it's not about the temperature rising. It's about weird, unusual and unpredictable climate. And not just that it's, it's affecting and changing climate in regions in real time, like in Texas, hurricanes are moving further up the coast instead of hitting mostly the South, you know, in Florida and the Caribbean more extreme hurricanes as well, tornadoes touching down in spice . They never really touched down before in a longer tornado season droughts in California, wildfires in California, and then also landslides in California that knocked down highways, you know, and what ultimately happens when climate starts to destabilize, the most marginalized are impacted the greatest. And we have a governor who believes that widening the beltway is the answer to traffic jams. Even though studies have shown that another lane just adds more cars onto the road, it doesn't ease congestion. We are making progress on the purple line, but it's still far off from being completed. And then it's not going to be enough. Really. I think I read an article that was shared by Dan Rita of just off the pike where , um, you know , uh, Metro rail ridership was down like 90%, but bus ridership was only down 50%. And if you look at where bus routes are in comparison to where Metro rail routes are, it tells a really good story that where we're lacking transportation options, our most vulnerable residents, these are people who are essential workers, they're working minimum wage jobs. I don't think, you know, they can afford to be prepared for climate emergencies like Ted Cruz and his family who can jet off to Cancun when it gets too cold. So where does it leave us? I don't know. Um, and how do we move forward? Obviously we're going to need to work on this more. This isn't something that we can put aside for a few years, a couple of years, we probably should take it up as soon as possible. Probably as soon as the pandemic is over, you know, in a County that is changing a lot and coming to terms with a lot of bad things like it's racism and how systemic racism in the County plays a big part of who has access to what like schools like public transportation and affordable housing. You know, we are trying to navigate a lot of things all at once. And we are trying to decide who we are as a County. And we're facing a lot of tough decisions, but these are things that we need to address sooner rather than later, just like the repeal of the law enforcement officer, bill of rights, that that was not actually repeal. I would like to hear your thoughts on community solar in the ag reserve. Again, you can email DME. Heck you can even call me, I'll give you my phone number. I'll also put a link to my voicemail. That's local, local voicemail specifically for this. So you can leave me feedback. I want to thank you for listening to the first episode of the local local podcast. It's been a long time coming and I'm so happy to have the first one under my belt. If you like this episode or around the fence and would like to check out a couple more, make sure to subscribe. You can subscribe at iTunes podcasts . You can subscribe at Stitcher, Google podcasts, Spotify, wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, I would really appreciate it. If you could go and leave a review on iTunes or Google podcasts or Spotify, I'd like to thank Steve and Andrew Sano for the intro ultra music, it was an absolute delight working with you. If you need audio services like an intro and outro for your podcast or project or audio editing services, check him out. I'll make sure to put his information in the show notes. One final thing to note, this podcast contains opinions that are my own. They don't represent any opinions or platforms of any organizations that I work with or any organizations that I happen to represent.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible] .