Do you support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education? Are you committed to funding associated reforms, and if so, how?
Dorsey-Walker: Test score are not a social evil. They can be, and should be an important barometer of where Maryland schools stand relative to the rest of the world. Throwing $1.5 billion dollars at schools, with too many parameters that only led to money being spent in the same way that it always has been spent, resulted in few changes. At no time did anyone state, let’s step back and look at the really big picture. First, the algorithm used for determining where are built should not be based on the number of existing homes, but should also include all the housing starts issued to developers, so schools don’t open three years latter over-crowded. Maybe one size does not fit all. Maybe some urban schools need ele-middle schools so that kids who are growing up too fast stay in a safer setting.. Early College, now available in three or four Maryland schools, should be spread to more schools to encourage students to take academically rigorous courses in middle school with the prize being a high school diploma and AA degree (half of college completed for free by 18). Most important, 1) “harden ” school buildings making them safer for all occupants by adding cameras that can pivot (none do presently) and more SRO’s; 2) Make computers available to every student, but also limit their use by some teachers as babysitters, which has also led to student unwillingness to write or spell; 3) Free administrators to discipline schools as needed, including suspensions.
Is Maryland’s transportation spending appropriately balanced between roads and transit? Does the state have the resources to meet its transportation needs? With the cancellation of the Red Line and the advent of BaltimoreLink, is the Baltimore region adequately served by transit?
Dorsey-Walker: Maryland must modernize and develop highspeed rail and innvest in smart asphalt highways and solaroads. MTA made a brief limited attempt under the Baltimore Link program to reduce traffic on I-695 between Owings Mills and Towson, but they did a bad job of marketing the service. Baltimore County and MTA should have marketed the program together and provided free or reduced monthly passes since the bus stopped in front of the Courthouse.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Dorsey-Walker: No. As a former DHMH Manager for the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Program who has travelled to every county in the State of Maryland to give training about the medical ravages of smoking as a habit and the health implications of smoking and vapping, I oppose smoking and tobacco consumption of any sort. That includes marijuana smoking. Until Maryland passes a law that states parents and other passengers in cars and other closed areas who smoke in the presence of children should face punishment, I will remain against smoking marijuana. I don’t care to have it smoked in my presence, and there are many persons with asthma and COPD who would have their rights to a smoke free environment tread upon once again by self- obsessed smokers. I agree that marijuana in an edible form should be available when prescribed as medically neccessary, so long as it is safely stored away from children.
At a time when the federal government’s commitment to Chesapeake Bay restoration is questionable, what new steps should Maryland take to protect this resource?
Dorsey-Walker: Despite the federal government waning support of the Cheasapeake Bay Restoration, Maryland must step up and commit that we will not slide backwards as a State and lose our existing investments in restoration of our waterways. We must clean algae and other plant and animal life that cannibalize our health sea grasses and destroy wildlife which still plays a big role in our commerce and tourism. . Maryland must continue to monitor and reduce the use of deliberate indutrial contamination and stiff fines should be imposed. Contamination due to water run-off from lawns contaminated with chemicals. must be a continuing matter of educating the public about their responsibity. Environmentally we most protect our fresh water resources, clean clogged sewer lines and use the removed debris for landfills.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Dorsey-Walker: Health care is not a privilege, it is a right, therefore I believe in Universal coverage. Current clients can face the option of totally free Medicaid health coverage or expensive Marketplace health Coverage or risking no coverage at all due to a $5 income in annual income. The State needs to revamp the Health Benefit Exchange, especially since the mandatory penalty of $695 per yer per person should never have been put in place. Currently any client earning even one dollar over the upper Medicaid income limit is forced to purchase Marketplace health coverage. The least expensive of the Maryland options, Kaiser Permenante has a mandatory $1500 per annum deductible and a month change or anywhere from 130 per month if there are no office visits. What is never told the clienis that the Affordable Care Act states that individuals may be exempt from paying the $95 fine for having no insurance if they can prove that the least expensive Marketplace health coverage plan in their area would exceed more that 8.5% of their annual income. Any client who anyway near the upper Medicaid limit easily meets this test, any unfortunately would like opt out of having any health insurance all because of exceeding a set limit by a few dollars per year.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Dorsey-Walker: Maryland should not run the Baltimore City Police Department, but should give the City Administrators the financial resources, equipment, and manpower training resources it needs. Bring in exports from around the countryand allow front line working officers a day off to listen to and learn best practices. Every Baltimore City should has in addition to in-service training a full one day training day annually with other officers from around the state and other types of law enforcement agencies. The Statehouse could help a lot by not making crime in Baltimore City sound inevitable to visitors.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Dorsey-Walker: Not yet as booming as it could be. Maryland must modernize and develop highspeed rail and innvest in smart asphalt highways and solaroads. Clean, renewable, and sustainable energy must be our focus. Maryland needs to develop primacy in emerging industries like wind turbine manufacturing to reduce utility costs, put solar collector panels atop State highway walls, and invest in sustainable solar streetlights.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Dorsey-Walker: Absolutely. Redistricting should not begin on day one with the premise that here is where are our encumbants live, let’s protect them by drawing a pie shape out away from their homes. That’s no way to restrict. It doesn’t consider common communities or compactness. Moreover, in some cases makes it mathmatically impossible for some groups to win a seat.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Dorsey-Walker: Having planned and put on four statewide law enforcement conferences in Maryland, attended by approximateley 350 officers each time , one of the things stressed is truth can not become the biggest victime when an officers sets foot on a stand to explain his or her actions. David Simon , creator of “The Wire” talks about young officers learning and being iencouraged to lie. This insidious practice must end. No officer existing a cruiser should ever think twice about whether to leave the sound and video on when it comes to their body camera, and all officers must be provided one. We can not have the rights of officers safeguarded unless we concurrent safeguard the rights of citizens.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Dorsey-Walker: Limit the free samples of certain new pain-killers issued by doctors. Set an average quantity that can be issued , and force doctors and their staff to stay with a range of face losing their license, We need more drug treatment facilities, more money needs to set aside for training of mental health and addiction workers. There needs to have more safe places for addicts released from shelters to go so they are not exposed to exist same living arrangement even people that enabled them or forced addiction on them. I think Narcam is good as a way to pull an overdose victim back from the edge, however, its very existence has lead to exploitation of that option. In some instances Narcam relieves the victim of personal responsibility. The fact is that some surburban kids may have to face the same life behind bars that inner-city youth have been forced to face.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Dorsey-Walker: Maryland must raise its minimum wage to a much more liveable $15 per hour. Maryland is one of the most expensive states to live in in the country, and has five of the ten most expensive communities, yet we propose giving a $1.4 billion dollar incentive to attract Amazon to what is the state’s most costly counties. Here is an example of just one of the problems. Many seniors, especially those who are single do not earn enough income to live soley on Social Security and what may be a modest pension, so many have turned to substitute teaching to supplement their income. Presently Baltimore County which pays its substitute teachers, the people for safeguarding 20 -30 children each day), a mere $91 per day, which shamefully is the third or fourth lowest substitute teachers per diem rate in the country, barely about Mississippi and Louisiana. (Again, Maryland is a state with the third highest cost of living.) Nearly all Baltimore County subs now have one or more college degrees, frequently more than the regular teacher. The average sub rate in the United States is about $125 per day, and the highest substitute teacher pe diem is being $170 per day. In addition, we must end income inequality not just between men and women, but also between white women (make $.82 of the dollar a white man makes) and African American women (make $.58 of the dollar a white man makes). A rising tide must lift all.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Dorsey-Walker: The current Public Information Act Law and open meetings law do not go nearly as far as they should in guaranteeing citizens speedy access to requested records, records that are now entered on computers in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, yet the law still enforces allowable wait periods for a response that were put into place thirty years ago.. In other words, COMAR has not kept pace with current technology. In addition, the fees that are applied impose reproductions costs that are no longer reflective of the actual cost of reproduction or electronic submission, both of which have gone down as technology advances. The open meetings laws are even antiquated. They do not specifically state what remedy should be imposed should the law be violated. Who is supposed to intevene? The law implies the Consumer Protection Division of the A.G. Office , however, when contaced that staff repeats that’s not their job. The A.G.’s Office has stated in the past that meetings can be closed to conduct personnel matters. In some case the election of new officers, the review and approval of Homeowner / Condo Association Budgets, even the awarding of contracts to o utside management companies of a third to one half of an organization’s budget, has all also taken place in closed sessions without the knowlege or consent of Homewowners or organization members. Consumers who complain are told be the A.G.’s Consumer protection agency that there is nothing that can be done about the matter.