IMG_0308.JPG

POLICY

Here Is What I Am Fighting For

 
 
The Economy

       The COVID-19 pandemic has, without a doubt, wreaked havoc and chaos on the lives of many Americans.  Right now, people are still losing their jobs.  In addition, the banks and landlords are threatening and pursuing legal actions against those that are unable to pay their rents or mortgages.

 

       Even with a tiny bit of relief from the stimulus checks, many Americans just simply cannot make ends meet.  I have witnessed in my state how people are making decisions to pay for groceries and skipping out on their much needed prescription medicines because of expensive copays.  A large amount of the stimulus funds went to wealthy people and organizations that didn’t need the funding.  Furthermore, have you seen the price for a pound of bacon?  It’s $8!  I remember when a pound of bacon was as low as $1.49 per pound.  We are currently dealing with a crisis of inflation. This should not be occurring. 

 

       Instead of relying on the federal government to attempt to make things better, I will focus on and support policies that will help Maryland families get better wages and to make the state a top priority in getting direct emergency relief during economic crisis, lower taxes for all but the wealthiest Americans, eradicate student loan debt up to $150k and stop all interest from accruing with the loan servicers so that students can pay down their debt in a reasonable amount of time and not for the rest of their lives, reduce gasoline and oil prices, and to stabilize the overall economy by concentrating more on controlling inflation.

 

       Another important policy issue that I will focus on and support legislation for will be to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act to the fullest.  In 1999, President Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act which effectively neutralized the Glass-Steagall Act by repealing key components of it.  Because of this, many economists believe that this was a key factor that led to the housing market and financial crisis, known as the Great Recession, in 2008.  Americans cannot afford to suffer from another financial meltdown.

 
Healthcare
Extensive Healthcare Services for Women

 

        For several different reasons, many women have concerns regarding the appearances of their bodies.  While Hollywood continuously demonstrates for us the faces of women that have long silky hair, gorgeous bodies with flat stomachs and flawless skin, many other women observe this and wish that they had the same.  As a result, some women will go to the extreme with making enhancements to their bodies by:

 

  • Flying to another country for cheap plastic surgery procedures to include breast implants, Brazilian butt lifts and liposuction,

  • Locating a private individual through “word of mouth” who states that he/she can perform certain procedures using Botox or silicone injections.  This individual typically performs these services in a motel/hotel room or in the basement of a house, and/or

  • Traveling to local plastic surgery “chop shops” located in small shopping plazas or in other major cities such as this place below

plastic surgery store.jpg

        The bottom line is that neither of these three ways provide a safe and sterile ambulatory environment according to U.S. regulations.  Furthermore, women should never place their lives in danger to make enhancements to their bodies in this manner.  Instead, women should first speak with their primary care physicians and get counseled, be referred to a board certified plastic surgeon and meet with that surgeon for a consultation.  This is a very important step because there are some women that may not be candidates for plastic surgery.

        Also, in general, it is the appearance of their bodies after giving birth to a baby that depresses many women.  Unfortunately, all women’s bodies do not return to the original shape after delivery.  In addition to performing stringent abdominal exercises, for many women the “mummy tummy” or “kangaroo pouch” does not flatten and tighten although the rest of their body has returned to the original shape.  This makes women feel more depressed due to a decrease in self-confidence about their appearances.

        Currently, breast reduction procedures are covered under most health insurance plans with a qualifying diagnosis/justification for the surgery.  To help women make the best possible enhancements to their bodies without placing their lives in danger, I will propose the following for women that have undergone pregnancy and have delivered their babies:

  • Abdominoplasty, also known as tummy tuck, to be covered as a healthcare benefit under the insurance plans at 100% of the cost.  If this is not approved, then 80/20.  The lowest I will fight for is 70/30.  The procedure may include liposuction.  That will be up to the discretion of the surgeon.  Women should have the option of getting a tummy tuck, if they need it, at some point after the delivery of their babies.  Of course, certain requirements will need to be met for this.  The maximum tummy tuck allowance is one per insured individual.

 

​        For women interested in other bodily enhancements, they will have to be financially responsible for the surgeries they elect to have.  I’ll try very hard to get other procedures covered such as liposuction by itself and maybe some facial enhancements.  This will be very difficult because the health insurance companies want to keep their profits high and their expenses/overhead low.  Also, electing to have plastic surgery, in general, is considered a cosmetic choice.  However, in some cases it should be a choice based on need.

 

       While driving through the great state of Maryland, I was amazed at its beautiful countryside. After visiting several places, I took notice of the fact that too many women are not getting top notch healthcare for their special medical needs.  These may consist of health issues pertaining to uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, bladder endometriosis, gestational problems, post-partum depression, maternal and fetal health, breast problems, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunction and so much more.  I will work diligently with the state to construct a hospital strictly for women as well as construct satellite clinics within the counties in Maryland that have rural and underserved communities.  Every woman in Maryland should have access to comprehensive state-of-the-art care that is focused on her.  Also, every woman is physically and mentally unique and special. So, why are we all being treated in the same manner?  You see, women are the most precious living beings on Earth.  Without us, no one would be born.  I strongly believe that women, not the government, should be in control of their health and make the best possible medical decisions with their doctors.

Medicare

 

        I will support legislation to ensure that the Medicare system is not compromised any longer by eliminating copays and ensuring that all seniors are covered under the plan regardless of pre-existing health issues.  Furthermore, I will also support legislation designed to make all health insurance plans simple and affordable for all Americans.  With an emphasis on preventive care, no one should have any problems with getting their annual physicals and well woman exams.  

 

Mental Health

       With respect to mental health care, I will support legislation to eliminate the cap on the coverage.  There are so many Americans that are mentally ill.  In many cases, they need more than a measly twelve months to try to get better.  Mental health issues take time to diagnose and to get to the root cause of the problem. 

 

       Health insurance companies sometimes use restrictive standards to limit the coverage for mental health care.  These standards often include criteria that plan members must meet in order to qualify for coverage or treatment. These standards make it extremely difficult to get treatment covered unless a plan member is very ill.  I will support legislation that will eliminate this.

 

       In addition, the pharmaceutical companies have been killing Americans on the prices of much needed medications for health issues involving diabetes and other endocrine disorders, cancer, hypertension, anti-virals, and other life-saving drugs.  I will support legislation that is geared towards ending the price gouging that has strained the financial budgets of Americans.  Did you know that, in many cases, it does not cost the pharmaceutical companies a lot of money to make the drugs?  Many of the commonly used drugs are made overseas and sent back to the U.S.  Then, the pharmaceutical companies markup the prices and pass that on to us.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Housing

Housing Issues

        Living in satisfactory housing conditions is one of the most important aspects of people's lives. Housing is

essential to meet basic needs such as shelter.  However, it is not just a question of having a roof over your head.

        Housing is definitely much more than that.  It should offer a place to sleep and rest where people feel safe,

have privacy and personal space.  It should be a place where they can raise a family. All of these elements help make a house a home.  The problem question is whether people can afford adequate housing or not.

        In addition, housing costs take up a large share of the household budget and it represents the largest single expenditure for many individuals and families.  By the time you add up elements such as rent, gas, electricity, water, furniture and repairs, the budget for the month is almost depleted.  This is the case with many Americans that are living while earning a low income, fixed income and/or are living in poverty.  This includes military veterans, senior and homeless citizens.

 

I’M A CRUSADER FOR THE HOMELESS!

 

        On June 4, 2009, I fell victim to the economic recession and became homeless.  My unemployment insurance had expired.  My oldest daughter was accepted into Morgan State University but I had to pay her fees for room and board and purchase books.  I took the rent money for the month of June and paid all of her fees plus incidentals.  I had just graduated from Howard University with a Master’s Degree and was unable to find decent employment.  Almost all of the employers that I interviewed with wanted/offered to take advantage of me by suggesting that I perform work duties equivalent to that of a federal government GS-12/13 employee for less than $45,000 annually.  This was totally insane.  Unfortunately, it was the “season of the employers” and if I wanted to be employed, I was forced to take whatever positions I could possibly get.  Also, the competition for jobs was so huge that, in many cases, other candidates that agreed to work for far less wages were chosen over me.  Nevertheless, I took any menial paying job that I could get.  I was homeless for approximately two years.

 

HUD Definition of Homelessness Under the HEARTH Act of 2009:

 

- “an individual or family who has a primary nighttime residence that is a room in a hotel or motel and where they lack the resources necessary to reside there for more than 14 days, who has no subsequent residence identified; and lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing;” (see HEARTH Act)

        Although this bill was signed into law on May 20, 2009, I was not able to benefit from it.  In the eighteen months after the bill’s signing, HUD was required to draft regulations to implement this new program.  While I was homeless during this time period, the Department of Social Services in my state was unable to assist me.  All they could do was to place my name on a waiting list.

 

Quantifying Homelessness in Maryland

 

        While most low-income households manage to stay housed, it remains precarious. A simple life event – illness, job loss, divorce – could result in a household falling into homelessness.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires each Continuum of Care (CoC) to conduct a Point in Time (PIT) count of those experiencing homelessness in a jurisdiction, during the last 10 days of January.  This is the only national count conducted each year and it serves as a basis for HUD’s annual funding allocations.  In 2018, the national total count was 552,830 individuals11. HUD Requires both sheltered and unsheltered counts in odd years, and leaves it optional in even years. The 2018 PIT count included totals of those living in shelter, but does not include unsheltered clients in Baltimore City, Carroll or Garrett Counties.  The annual totals presented in the chart below represents a total of anyone that was homeless and required services, shelter, or housing throughout the 2018 fiscal year as reported by CoC providers.  The annual figure is a more accurate estimate of the total homelessness in Maryland while the PIT count more effectively serves as an indicator of trends over time.  The 2018 annual total is approximately 1% higher than the total for 2017 and is 13% higher than the annual count collected in 2015, which may be attributed to increased access to services.  Comparing PIT count years when a sheltered count was taken (2016 and 2018), the totals show an overall decrease of 10% in the number counted.    

homeless chart.jpg

        The majority of homeless individuals in fiscal year 2018 were counted in Baltimore City, Baltimore Count        

Montgomery County and Prince Georges County, which is a trend that continues from prior years.  The annual numbers show 41% of the total served were in Baltimore City; 12% in Baltimore County; 9% in Montgomery County; and 7% in Prince Georges County.(see Annual Report on Homelessness)

 

        The bottom line is that these numbers are growing and are alarming.  I want to change this and ensure that Maryland’s homeless population is no longer homeless.  Thus, every homeless Marylander will have a home of their own to go to provided that I focus on the following:

  • For a homeless person, a government ID is key to becoming self-sufficient. An ID makes it possible for a homeless person to apply for a job, get public benefits and find a place to live. Individuals can obtain an ID without having a permanent address.

  • Seek out available lands in areas that are near public transportation and consult with contractors to build small energy efficient homes similar to those that were built by the Veterans Community Project. These homes will accommodate all homeless persons.(see NBC News article)

  • Ensure successful job placement and adult continuing education.

 

Hearth Act

 

2018 Annual Report on Homelessness

 

NBC News article

 
Maryland Issues
Reallocate/Redirect Funding
A Brief Overview

 

       According to the Brookings Institution, to “defund the police” means to reallocate or redirect funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. It does not mean to abolish policing.  That would not make sense at all because crimes are still being committed thus, law enforcement will still need to be involved.  Defunding the police also:

  • highlights fiscal responsibility,

  • advocates for a market-driven approach to taxpayer money, and

  • has some potential benefits that will reduce police violence and crime.

       As a result of defunding the police, departments will need to undergo some serious but much needed changes. They are as follows:

  • Remove all underperforming police officers from the department.  This includes those that have tarnished employment records, are known for being racist and having racist actions, and for all of those that simply take advantage of their positions through abuse of power.

  • Provide mandatory annual “diversity” and “compassion for the community” training to all staff members whether interacting with the public or not.  This includes the chief of police, the commissioner, desk personnel, all police officers no matter their ranks and non-police staff members.  These training requirements should be mandatory and taught in the police academy too. 

  • Police officers, in particular, should definitely be retrained such that they can effectively communicate with members of the communities in which they serve.  To accomplish this, police training has to be much more effective.  In addition, the trainers need more available resources.  Based on suggestions that were gathered from veteran officers and trainers, here are some ways to make police training more effective:

  • Start with the right people - one of the best ways to improve the training of law enforcement officers is to recruit individuals who have life experience and people skills. Many of today's recruits are directly out of college and have never faced any complicated situations or learned how to relate to people from different backgrounds. The majority of recruits have also never faced danger.

  • Establish a national standard - Each state has its own standards for peace officer training. Some law enforcement trainers would like to see every officer nationwide trained to the same standard, kind of a national Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) program.

  • Pool training resources - Precedent has been set for cooperation between agencies on a variety of operations, but often training isn't one of them. One way to cut the costs of training would be for agencies to share it. In addition to pooling their funds to provide specialized training, agencies could share training equipment from simulators down to padded suits and replica guns.

  • Update the methodology - The vast majority of law enforcement training is still conducted in the classroom or hands-on such as scenario and defensive tactics sessions. Many instructors are now talking about the concept of blended learning, which combines some online lessons and classroom, resulting in more time for hands-on training. The idea is to reduce "butt in seat" time and downtime between scenarios with online lessons divided into easily digestible chunks. This blended learning approach could be used to preload information for academy programs and to reduce classroom time for in-service training.

  • Complete the scenarios - Practical scenario training with live subjects is extremely effective. But some experts say agencies are doing it all wrong. The scenario shouldn't stop the minute shots are fired. Instead, the scenario should play out to the end with backup arriving, suspects handcuffed, searched, and readied for transport, emergency medical called and the other actions that would be taken in a real incident.

  • Write the reports - Documenting what happens when officers encounter the public is one of the most critical skills in law enforcement. But it is often given short shrift in academy, FTO, and in-service training programs. Trainers recommend that agencies spend more time teaching officers to produce quality reports. One way to incorporate more report writing into training programs is to require officers to write a report on what happened after completing a simulator or live scenario exercise.

  • Teach to case law - legal instruction for officers would be more effective if the concepts were taught both in the classroom and in practical scenarios and defensive tactics sessions. One way this could be applied would be to have students articulate how their actions in the scenario would be legally justified once the scenario is completed.

  • Practice consistent discipline - Some believe that disciplinary actions in the academy are not being consistently applied. One trainer said that recruits need to know when they have made a mistake and be given some discipline to correct the issue.

  • Teach communication skills - This applies to the officers' ability to communicate with other officers, other first responders, and the public. With other officers and public safety professionals, proper communication skills are critical in disseminating necessary information. When dealing with the public, officers need to know when to be commanding and when to be friendly and reassuring.

  • Teach decision making skills - In the academy and in-service training, officers need to learn how to analyze situations in ways that lead to the desired outcome. Officers need to learn how to conduct realistic and reasonable threat assessments that will lead to better decisions about when to use weapons, when to initiate vehicle pursuits, and when to undertake other dangerous actions. For example, the officer should know that TASERing a suspect running down the street could result in serious injury to the suspect and reason whether the threat presented by that suspect warrants the action.

       Police officers are not licensed physicians, counselors, social workers, school teachers, psychiatrists, medical technicians, attorneys, security advisors, IT specialists or any other profession that often places them in a situation where they may have to or are expected to operate outside of their scope of practice.  Police officers are law enforcement officers in our communities.  Their job description is simple:

 

  • Answer 9-1-1 calls.

  • Patrol an area or community.

  • Interview complainants.

  • Conduct accident investigations.

  • Act as caretaker of property and evidence.

  • Escort criminals to and from court.

  • Issue traffic citations and direct traffic.

  • Make arrests when necessary.

  • Interrogate persons suspected of criminal acts, witnesses and other persons involved.

  • Gather evidence.

  • Write up and file reports.

       Most importantly, funding should not be taken away from the goal of community policing which is for the police to build relationships with the community through interactions with local agencies and members of the public, creating partnerships and strategies for reducing crime and disorder.  All communities in the State of Maryland need and should have this benefit. 

 

       Community policing officers act as the primary link between the police department and the neighborhoods they serve. They monitor crime trends in their assigned sector, take the lead in establishing and maintaining community partnerships and facilitate problem-solving within their areas.  In order for this to work well, there needs to be trust between the police officers and the communities they serve.  This is a lot of work and it cannot be achieved overnight. 

 

        In addition, parents must strive for excellence by keeping their children positively engaged and informed about their education and well-being for the betterment of their lives.  For more information on community policing, check out the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services Monthly Newsletter, the Community Policing Dispatch: https://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/

 

Also, for additional information feel free to read these documents:

 

Community Policing Defined, Importance of Police-Community Relationships and What Works in Community Policing

References

what-does-defund-the-police-mean-and-does-it-have-merit

ways-to-make-police-training-more-effective

community-oriented-policing-attitudes-police

https://www.justice.gov - download

seattle-police-chief-budget-cut