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?
Kreamer: I support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education in general. The prospect of a final report is the key reason that I am running for State Senate in District 34. I want to be in the Senate to vote for the recommendations. I would like to amend a couple of provisions that appear in the Preliminary Report if they show up in the final version. First, specify that existing teachers would receive any benefit of implementation of the recommendations and that the same transitional provisions that apply to administrators would apply to teachers. Second, eliminate an allowance for reduction in wages for student apprentices to sub-minimum wages. I concur with the impetus to raise the status of educators and to establish professional pay in order to produce excellent education.
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?
Kreamer: During the Hogan Administration transportation funding has been tilted too far toward roads. The endless construction on Route 22 through Aberdeen has been terribly disruptive for our community, an excessive response to the prospect of BRAC. It appears that the State has adequate resources to meet its transportation needs if there is a return to emphasis on mass transit. The General Assembly must restore the Red Line in negotiation with the Governor. The MARC service is a big improvement, but trains need to go to the extent of the northern stations in Aberdeen and Perryville more frequently. Tourism can be even more profitable for MD if the service brings people from all stations into Baltimore and Washington on weekends. The current 4:20 and 9:30 departures from Washington to Martin State Airport are too limiting. The Baltimore Link certainly helps. I know of District 34 people who commute to Annapolis, Owings Mills and Prince George’s County. We need a web approach to transit beyond the hub and spoke model.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
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?
Kreamer: Strengthen the interstate compact among Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Perhaps the people of the United States will help by electing a Democratic House and Senate in 2018. Then our Democratic elected officials will be able to return to restoration of the Bay protections. If not, Maryland will need to regulate to a stronger standard than the federal government is doing with a weakened EPA. One potential initiative is to foster veterans groups to give their personal time and labor and other private entities to invest in protections to clean up the Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Kreamer: Maryland has been a leader in offsetting the federal harm to the Affordable Health Care Act. It should continue to fill in where the federal government fails temporarily until the country elects a more progressive administration.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Kreamer: Fund better schools. Develop a more comprehensive urban Extension Service to assist families with nutrition understanding, child care, health protocols, home care and maintenance and budgeting. Maintain gun control initiatives that have been passed. Develop better rehabilitation in prisons. Investigate the prison guard system. Elected officials should use the bully pulpit to raise the moral climate in the community. Establish norms that diminish police brutality. Put a lot more neighborhood emphasis on community mediation training. Develop neighborhood crime watch programs more.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Kreamer: Maryland’s business climate is lively. The state can fund better schools and apply equity levers to improve education throughout the state. The state can raise the minimum wage and extend the reach of prevailing wage through its purchase of goods and services. The state can foster further enhancement of the quality of life through the arts, cultural centers and academic hubs. Satellites of existing cultural entities can extend these quality of life benefits to underserved areas. Expanding recreational opportunities using our existing natural resources would help as I did when a county council member by opening up lost public landings for access to waterways and approaching the federal government under a joint use agreement with the Department of the Interior to open access to the Bay. People who locate businesses are looking for a talented work force and indicia of a high quality of life.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Kreamer: No. I support a body that includes executive branch and legislative leaders as well as diverse community representatives. Any “blue ribbon commission” is not exempt from political considerations. I would like to see more public hearings throughout the state to allow citizens to come forward to define communities of interest.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Kreamer: No. The limitations on who may allege police brutality need to be opened up to more potential reporters. The availability of video and sound recordings should be accommodated. The 90 day statute of limitations for reporting is too short. Other places in the same law have a one year interval. References to reasonable hours are vague as are the references to alternate places for interrogation. They undermine the heart of the restrictions. The potential for the chief to increase a panel recommendation of penalty is dubious. That needs study. A single hearing officer instead of a panel is also questionable. How many days until a hearing is no longer prompt - another vague provision. Several offices should be removed from the exempt list, such as a person who serves at the pleasure of the Police Commissioner of Baltimore City.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Kreamer: Extend family leave for birth and illness of children. Fund better schools. Provide safe after school care. Change the high school daily schedule to start and end later, such as 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Rehabilitate people who have been convicted of crimes. Call for stricter review of doctors who overprescribe. Train a broader segment of the population in emergency antidote procedures with the assistance of fire companies. Develop senior center and teen center programming links.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Kreamer: Raise the minimum wage. Legislate an end to gender and minority bias in pay. Fund better schools. Strengthen community college offerings and provide more financial aid to students. Change the culture that fosters fulltime work at the same time as fulltime student enrollment. The dual load cannot be carried effectively. Stop corporate giveaways with public money.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Kreamer: No. The present provision for a government to take up to 30 days to respond to a Public Information Request is too long. The current loophole to allow local and municipal governments to have closed meetings concerning real estate purchase and sale is too broad. It appears that there is too much pressure to stifle debate and present a united front in public sessions concerning real estate to the detriment of the citizens. Conference committees of the General Assembly are not subject to the Open Meetings Law so far as I know, and they should be.