Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – March 24, 2017

Are you okay with Maryland becoming a sanctuary state? I’m not for a number of reasons, but here’s why it was in the news this week.

The House of Delegates voted 83-55 to approve the Maryland Law Enforcement and Trust Act that would essentially prohibit police from assisting federal immigration officials by detaining current prison inmates who happen to be here illegally for deportation. The legislation, which still needs Senate approval to become law, does permit local authority, meaning if Worcester County, for example, prefers to work with the federal government it can do so.

This week’s passage from the House comes within days of two illegal immigrants reportedly being charged with the rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Montgomery County school bathroom. For some reason, the 18- and 17-year-olds were classified as freshmen at the Rockville school and were in the same classrooms as the young teens.

The timing of this legislation is appalling and it has made national headlines with opposition from Gov. Larry Hogan, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and many others.

I don’t agree with everything O’Reilly says but he was on point with his strong language regarding this issue.

“ABC, NBC, CBS did not cover it on their nightly news broadcasts,” O’Reilly said in his “Talking Points Memo.” “CNN did not cover the Maryland story in primetime last night. Ditto MSNBC. That is beyond anything I have ever seen in my 40 years-plus of journalism. We all know why. Illegal immigration is a political issue. …. [There] comes a time when citizens of any country have to demand justice, have to demand protection, demand the law be respected. We have not, have not, come to that time yet in America. … the federal government has lost control over the immigration process, and … many states and cities will not obey federal law, creating anarchy.”

O’Reilly then dived deeper into the legislation passed by the House in Maryland.

“It is beyond the pale that even after this poor 14-year-old girl had her life brutalized, the Maryland House of Delegates actually voted to make the state a sanctuary situation. Thankfully, the governor of Maryland Larry Hogan has said he will veto that legislation. But how on earth could members of that Maryland body after this poor young girl gets attacked do that? It is incomprehensible. Many Americans have had enough.”

Hogan did vow a veto, thankfully, and was highly critical of Montgomery County school officials for not responding to his administration’s numerous questions.

“Why is an 18-year-old man in a class with 13 or 14-year-old girls? Why was his status not known to those folks? Why was he allowed to enter the country after he was picked up for illegally crossing the border — both of them? So there are a lot of questions,” Hogan told FOX 5’s Tom Fitzgerald. “My biggest concern is the Montgomery County School System —  and their lack of cooperation and the lack of information they’ve been providing. Not only have they refused to provide any information to us, but they’ve refused to provide information to the state Board of Education, which specifically requested more information.”

If unfamiliar with the current funding formula Maryland uses when determining wealth for its counties, it may seem the Worcester County Commissioners do not want to pull their share required to fund public education.

The commissioners understand their responsibilities, but they are understandably frustrated once again because they are being told by the state they must increase their education funding allocation by a minimum of 2.4 percent to meet state law. That will mean it will take more than $13,000 in local dollars to educate each child in Worcester County next year. When federal and state dollars are included, it’s well over $18,000 to educate each of the 6,000-plus students in the public school system.

This increase stems from a state formula that accounts for personal property, real property and income levels to determine average household wealth. The coastal area of our region results in the formula calculating Worcester as annually one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in Maryland. It’s typically Worcester and Talbot counties as the richest counties in the state. That’s absurd if you are familiar with our state. The problem is the lunacy of the formula benefits more landlocked jurisdictions in Maryland than it hurts. Additionally, those counties who fare well under this formula typically have more legislators in Maryland because of population than the Eastern Shore. That means a change should not be expected to this formula anytime soon.

In the meantime, we can expect these types of sentiments from frustrated elected officials, like Commissioner Chip Bertino.

“I’d just like to go on record and say that I think this is a despicable formula that cripples our county and penalizes it for factors that are outside our doing,” Bertino said this week. “It’s not right. It’s unfair and I do believe the board of education agrees with us to a certain degree. Anything we can do to protest this I think would be to our advantage, certainly to the advantage of our taxpayers.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.