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Md. Officials to Hogan: Pump Brakes on Beltway Traffic Plan

WASHINGTON INFORMER — In a show of solidarity, officials from Prince George’s, Montgomery and Frederick counties Monday sent a message to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan: slow down on the proposal to expand Interstates 495 and 270. Those officials and several Montgomery County residents also said adding toll lanes would be expensive and just add more vehicles on highways in the D.C. region ranked as one of the most congested in the nation.

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By William J. Ford

In a show of solidarity, officials from Prince George’s, Montgomery and Frederick counties Monday sent a message to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan: slow down on the proposal to expand Interstates 495 and 270.

Those officials and several Montgomery County residents also said adding toll lanes would be expensive and just add more vehicles on highways in the D.C. region ranked as one of the most congested in the nation.

“Local courtesy did not take place in this project,” said Del. Gabriel Acevero, who represents a portion of Montgomery County in the pathway of highway expansion proposal. “We’re calling on the governor to put the brakes on this.”

Acevero and 14 other state, county and municipal officials spoke at Indian Terrace Spring Park, one of the places possibly affected by a plan that rests several feet near Interstate 495.

The Maryland Board of Public Works, comprised of Gov. Larry Hogan, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot may vote in Annapolis to continue the next step to the public-private partnership process, also known as P3. The current 70-mile proposal seeks to expand the Beltway and Interstate 270 which could cost up to $11 billion.

Acevero joined nearly 60 state lawmakers who sent a letter Monday to the board “to work collaboratively with county stakeholders to consider the range of options to address traffic, beyond those being considered in the current P3 analysis.”

The Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition based in Columbia, Howard County, has an $8 billion proposal for a light-rail network to connect in nine counties and Baltimore City.

At Monday’s press conference in Silver Spring, officials also included several other options to help relief traffic congestion that include the eviction of no residents; dedicated funding for transit; encourage telecommuting and carpooling; and preserves local parks.

A flier also highlights a regional transportation improvement plan to build activity center connections along I-495 in Prince George’s County at National Harbor, Largo near the regional hospital still under construction, New Carrollton and the Greenbelt Metro. Another would be constructed in White Oak in Montgomery County.

Prince George’s County Council approved a resolution last month for the state Board of Public Works to complete an environmental impact statement and ensure there’s an agreement on the proposal from affected counties before Wednesday’s vote.

“There’s a whole spectrum of opinions out there, but that’s a conversation we need to have,” said Prince George’s Council Chairman Todd Turner. “We’ve been able to do that in other contexts. That’s all were really asking. Come with us. Meet with us.”

Hogan has pushed for the plan since first announced in 2017 and public hearings a year later. The governor’s main goal is to decrease traffic and allow a private firm help in the project with limited taxpayer dollars. The 70-mile trek on Interstate 495 from Temple Hills in Prince George’s County to portions of 495 and Interstate 270 in Montgomery County would add toll lanes.

Hogan spokesman Michel Ricci said in an email Monday each phase of the project will come before the public works board. Also, he said, environmental impact studies are currently taking place “concurrently with the P3 process” and the state Department of Transportation has established a transit workgroup of transportation officials from the state, county and federal governments, as well as Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.

“Good news: we are well on our way to doing all of the things that these legislators request,” Ricci said. “We look forward to implementing these ideas as part of our plan to fix the region’s soul-crashing traffic.”

Pete Rahn, the state’s transportation secretary, said in a Feb. 13 letter he supports the current proposal because it provides another alternative to transportation studies assessed for a decade.

“With our funding shortfalls and lack of debt capacity, we must look at new ways to fund and finance improvements to address the National Capital region’s congestion,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.

Alameda County

District Attorney Pamela Price Will Face Recall Election on November General Election Ballot

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors scheduled the recall election against Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price for November 5, coinciding with the 2024 General Election. The decision comes after weeks of controversy and drawn-out discussions amongst county officials, recall proponents, and opponents, and legal advisors.

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Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price’s future will be determined on the November General Election ballot instead of a special recall election. On the left, DA Pamela Price. On the right, principal officer of the recall campaign Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE). Collage by Magaly Muñoz
Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price’s future will be determined on the November General Election ballot instead of a special recall election. On the left, DA Pamela Price. On the right, principal officer of the recall campaign Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE). Collage by Magaly Muñoz

By Magaly Muñoz

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors scheduled the recall election against Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price for November 5, coinciding with the 2024 General Election.

The decision comes after weeks of controversy and drawn-out discussions amongst county officials, recall proponents, and opponents, and legal advisors.

Recall proponents submitted 123,374 signatures before the March 5 deadline, which resulted in 74,757 valid signatures counted by the Registrar of Voters (ROV).

The recall election will cost Alameda County $4 million and will require them to hire hundreds of new election workers to manage the demand of keeping up with the federal, state and local elections and measures.

Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE), one of the two recall campaigns against Price, held a press conference minutes before the Board’s special meeting asking for the Supervisors to schedule the election in August instead of consolidating with the November election.

Supporters of the recall have said they were not concerned with the $20 million price tag the special election would’ve cost the county if they had put it on the ballot in the summer. Many have stated that the lives of their loved ones are worth more than that number.

“What is the cost of a life?” recall supporters have asked time and time again.

Opponents of the recall election have been vehemently against a special date to vote, stating it would cost taxpayers too much money that could be reinvested into social programs to help struggling residents.

A special election could’ve cost the county’s budget to exceed its current deficit of $68 million, which was a driving factor in the three supervisors who voted for a consolidated election.

“Bottom line is, I can’t in good conscience support a special election that is going to cost the county $20 million,” Board President Nate Miley said.

Many speakers asked Miley and Keith Carson to recuse themselves from the vote, claiming that they have had improper involvement with either the recall proponents or Price herself.

Both supervisors addressed the concerns stating that regardless of who they associate themselves with or what their political beliefs are, they have to do their jobs, no matter the outcome.

Carson noted that although he’s neither supporting nor opposing Price as district attorney, he believes that whoever is elected next to take that position should have a reasonable amount of time to adjust to the job before recalls are considered.

Reports of recall attempts started as soon as April 2023 when Price had only been in office three months.

Price and her campaign team Protect the Win have been adamant that the voters who elected her to office will not fall for the “undemocratic” practices from the recall campaign and they are prepared to put all efforts forward to guarantee she stays in office.

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Alameda County

Alameda DA Pamela Price is Ready to ‘Protect the Win’ in Upcoming Recall Election

Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price and her “Protect the Win” campaign held a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss the consolidation of the recall election with the November general election and her steps moving forward. “We are here today to appreciate that the Board of Supervisors yesterday did the right thing and decided not to invest $20 million of our hard-earned tax dollars for a failed effort to overturn the November 2022 election,” Price said.

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Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price held a press conference Wednesday morning at Everett & Jones to discuss the recall election and her path forward now that a date is scheduled for November. Photo by Magaly Muñoz.
Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price held a press conference Wednesday morning at Everett & Jones to discuss the recall election and her path forward now that a date is scheduled for November. Photo by Magaly Muñoz.

By Magaly Muñoz

Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price and her “Protect the Win” campaign held a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss the consolidation of the recall election with the November general election and her steps moving forward.

“We are here today to appreciate that the Board of Supervisors yesterday did the right thing and decided not to invest $20 million of our hard-earned tax dollars for a failed effort to overturn the November 2022 election,” Price said.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to consolidate the recall election so as to not put themselves in an even larger deficit than they are soon headed into. The board reported that they are almost $68 million in deficit for the county budget, but now with the consolidation, the election will only cost taxpayers about $4 million.

Proponents of the recall had continuously asked the Board to schedule a special election in August, regardless if it would cost upwards of $20 million to fund.

At her press conference, Price emphasized that she is the first non-appointed district attorney in decades and the first Black woman elected for the position.

She characterized the recall efforts against her to be a “platinum roots movement” bankrolled by a handful of super-rich real estate investors and tech executives.

The recall group Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE) raised over $3 million for their campaign against Price, spending a large amount of their funds on paying signature gatherers to collect names to put the election on the ballot. This has created a point of contention with many who are opposing the recall efforts.

Although her campaign has not been able to raise nearly as much money, she assures the community that their efforts are best used for “defending the democracy” and serving the residents of Alameda County.

Price challenged the big donors behind the recall efforts, stating that if they have thousands of dollars to spend on overturning an election, then they can better use their funds to invest in the community, such as donating to Oakland Unified School District, Highland Hospital, homeless and housing services and anti-trafficking efforts.

A few key donors mentioned were Philip Dreyfuss, who donated $600,000; Isaac Abid donated $225,000; Kenneth Lin donated $100,000; and John Wayland donated $135,000.

The DA said she will continue to do her job including advocating for victims, prosecuting people who have committed crimes in the community, combatting retail theft efforts, implementing new technology to protect youth, amongst many other priorities.

The recall proponents have long accused Price of being “soft on crime” and that crime rates have gone up since she’s been in office, but according to Oakland Police data, crime is down 33% since 2023.

When asked about the drop in crime rates on Tuesday, SAFE leaders said they do not follow OPD data because they claim it is not accurate. They only listen to what they hear from the community.

Price refuted the accusations stating that her office does not track or count the type of data that the opposition claims to be following. She says that the recall supporters are spreading misinformation and the data they are referencing only “exists in the figment of their imagination.”

In an annual report that the DA Office released last week, it revealed that Price is prosecuting cases at a similar rate to her predecessor. Former DA Nancy O’Malley was prosecuting anywhere from 60% to 66% of cases in 2019 to 2022, while Price prosecuted 62% of cases in 2023.

Price stated that being district attorney is her priority and this recall election would not stop her from doing her job. She trusts the efforts of the Protect the Win campaign to ensure that the message of keeping her in office is heard loud and clear.

“We believe in democracy, the people of this county have the right to elect a district attorney. They did that. We should not have to do it again, but we will do it again,” Price said.

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Bay Area

California Makes Strides in Fight Against Fentanyl

California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force has seized over 7,000 pounds of fentanyl including 3.4 million pills since the state launched a multi-agency operation in January 2024. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s progress on May 7, National Fentanyl Awareness Day. The Governor said he deployed the state’s highway patrol and National Guard personnel last year as part of a public safety operation in partnership with local government officials and law enforcement.

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In the past five years, California has invested $1.1 billion in operations and initiatives to fight crime, support local law enforcement, and improve public safety. The Newsom administration has implemented a comprehensive approach as part of the governor’s Master Plan to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis.

By California Black Media

California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force has seized over 7,000 pounds of fentanyl including 3.4 million pills since the state launched a multi-agency operation in January 2024.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s progress on May 7, National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

The Governor said he deployed the state’s highway patrol and National Guard personnel last year as part of a public safety operation in partnership with local government officials and law enforcement.

“As we recognize the serious dangers of illegal fentanyl, California is continuing to tackle this issue head-on. Our efforts are getting this poison off our streets and out of our communities as we continue to support people struggling with substance use.” Newsom said.

CalGuard Major General Matthew Beevers said that the state’s unprecedented investment in the Counterdrug Task Force has immobilized operations and revenue channels of transnational criminal organizations.

“The CalGuard is committed to supporting our state, federal, local and tribal law enforcement partners to eliminate the scourge of fentanyl,” Beevers said.

In the past five years, California has invested $1.1 billion in operations and initiatives to fight crime, support local law enforcement, and improve public safety. The Newsom administration has implemented a comprehensive approach as part of the governor’s Master Plan to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis.

The Newsom administration has expanded efforts to improve public safety across the state where operations occurred in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Bakersfield.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed acknowledged that joint operation was a step in the right direction toward curbing illegal activity and improving public safety.

“Our coordinated work to shut down drug markets in San Francisco is making a difference, but we have more work to do,” Breed said.

“Together we are sending a message at all levels of government that anyone selling fentanyl in this city will be arrested and prosecuted,” she said.

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