August 28, 2014 - September 3, 2014
President Obama Signs Bill to Give the VA Resources It Needs
By Press Officer
Office of the White House
President Obama traveled to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to sign a
reform bill giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the necessary resources
to improve access and quality of care for the men and women who have served our
country in uniform.
In remarks before the bill signing, President Obama
addressed the misconduct that has taken place at some VA facilities across the
country — veterans being denied the care they need, or long wait times being
"This is wrong," the President emphasized.
"It was outrageous. And working together, we set out to fix it and do
right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took."
We’ve already taken the first steps to change the way the VA
does business. We’ve held people accountable for misconduct. Some have already
been relieved of their duties, and investigations are ongoing. We’ve reached
out to more than 215,000 veterans so far to make sure that we’re getting them
off wait lists and into clinics both inside and outside the VA system.
We’re moving ahead with urgent reforms, including stronger
management and leadership and oversight. And we’re instituting a critical
culture of accountability -- rebuilding our leadership team, starting at the
top with Secretary McDonald. And one of his first acts is that he’s directed
all VA health care facilities to hold town halls to hear directly from the
veterans that they serve to make sure that we’re hearing honest assessments
about what’s going on.
The VA reform bill -- officially the Veterans’ Access to
Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 -- passed
Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, and will expand survivor
benefits and educational opportunities and improve care for victims of sexual
assault and veterans struggling with traumatic brain injuries. But the main
focus of the new law is to ensure that veterans have access to the care they’ve
The President outlined three important areas the law will
1. Giving the VA the resources it needs:
It will help the VA hire more doctors and more nurses and
staff more clinics. As a new generation of veterans returns home from war and
transitions into civilian life, we have to make sure the VA system can keep
pace with that new demand. Keep in mind that I have increased funding for the
VA since I came into office by extraordinary amounts. But we also have
extraordinary numbers of veterans coming home. And so the demand, even though
we’ve increased the VA budget, is still higher than the resources that we’ve
got. This bill helps to address that.
2. Ensuring timely care:
For veterans who can’t get timely care through the VA, this
bill will help them get the care they need someplace else. And this is
particularly important for veterans who are in more remote areas, in rural
areas. If you live more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or if VA doctors
can’t see you within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll have the chance to see
a doctor outside the VA system.
3. Holding people accountable:
We’re giving the VA Secretary more authority to hold people
accountable. We’ve got to give [Secretary McDonald] the authority so that he
can move quickly to remove senior executives who fail to meet the standards of
conduct and competence that the American people demand. If you engage in an
unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired.
Period. It shouldn’t be that difficult. And if you blow the whistle on an
unethical practice, or bring a problem to the attention of higher-ups, you
should be thanked. You should be protected for doing the right thing. You
shouldn’t be ignored, and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.
The President noted, however, that while this law is focused
on immediate needs to reform the VA, we can’t lose sight of the long-term goals
of our service members and our veterans:
The good news is, we’ve cut the disability claims backlog by
more than half. But let’s now eliminate the backlog. Let’s get rid of it. The
good news is, we’ve poured major resources into improving mental health care.
But now, let’s make sure our veterans actually get the care they need when they
need it. The good news is, we’ve helped to get thousands of homeless veterans
off the street, made an unprecedented effort to end veterans’ homelessness. We
should have zero tolerance for that. But we’ve got to -- still more work to do
in cities and towns across America to get more veterans into the homes they
We’ve helped more than a million veterans and their spouses
and children go to college through the post-9/11 GI bill. But now, we’ve got to
help even more of them earn their educations, and make sure that they’re
getting a good bargain in the schools they enroll in.
We’ve rallied companies to hire hundreds of
thousands of veterans and their spouses. That’s the good news. With the help of
Jill Biden and Michelle Obama -- two pretty capable women…But now, we’ve got to
help more of our highly skilled veterans find careers in this new economy.
Top of Page
L. Baker Elected as the New President of County Executives of America
By Press Officer
PG County Government
UPPER MARLBORO, MD – The County Executives of America (CEA)
recently announced that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III
had been elected to serve as the organization’s new Board President. County Executives of America, the only
non-partisan association dedicated specifically to chief elected officers from
over 720 counties and consolidated city/counties across the nation. Additionally, CEA represents chief elected
officers before Congress, the White House and all federal departments. County
Executive Baker will serve a 2 year term as Board President and is succeeding
Montgomery County, MD Executive Ike Leggett who served as CEA President from
“It is an incredible honor and privilege to lead County
Executives of America and follow the great work of my friend and mentor,
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett,” said Prince George’s County Executive
Rushern L. Baker, III. “Throughout this nation, county executives are
responsibility for leading 56% of the
American population and they play a critical role in protecting the homes,
educating citizens and providing other essential services needed in their
communities. Unlike mayors and
governors, most county executives are not known outside of their local
jurisdictions and regions. It is my goal
is to educate the public on the issues that counties face and raise the
visibility of these important public officials who affect the lives of so many
The CEA’s mission is to help county governments serve the
American people in the most responsive, most efficient way by acting as a
national voice for its leaders and representing its interests on all levels of
government. From coast to coast,
county executives are being innovative and first in the nation with policy
entrepreneurship and experiments such as regionalism and international economic
partnerships at the local level. CEA aims to foster an environment in which
such experiments can be nurtured and grown into effective government programs.
“Rushern L. Baker, III represents the best that America has
to offer in terms of leadership,” said Michael Griffin, Executive Director of
CEA, “I’m sure that with his integrity and energy our organization will not
only continue to grow and prosper but will be the leader for service delivery
to the American people.”
“I was very proud to have served as Board President of
County Executives of America (CEA) and have the opportunity to lead this great
organization as we have emerged from trying times for local governments,” said
Montgomery County, MD County Executive and Past CEA Board President Ike
Leggett. “I am delighted to turn over the reins to my very good friend and
capable colleague Rushern Baker. I know through his wise leadership skills and
vision, he will help move CEA forward to accomplish even greater success.”
About the County Executives of America
CEA began as a league formed by county executives who
believed that the job as the chief elected officer of a county was too
important to overlook. Their initial desire to create an alliance that would
assist county officers in executing their duties sparked a dramatic evolution
that produced today's association. CEA's current membership includes County
Executives, County Judges, Parish and Borough Presidents, City-County Mayors,
Commission Presidents and Chairs, and all county leaders elected at-large by
the public constituency.
A long-time affiliate group of the National Association of
Counties, CEA has operated as an independent organization since 1994. With its
headquarters in Washington D.C., CEA brings together top-level local officials
to discuss and determine policy on wide-ranging issues that affect local
governors and the people they serve.
CEA also provides a voice at the national level among the
various policy making representatives including members and staff of the United
States Congress, officials in the Executive Branch at both the federal and
state government level and various interest groups and associations based on
CEA is governed by a Board of Directors and
selected Executive Officers. The Board President is elected and serves a
Top of Page
NRP Urges Parents to Say “Yes” to Ninja Turtles, “No” to
By Press Officer
MD Dept. of Natural Resources
With only days before the release of the fifth installment
in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie series, the Maryland Natural
Resources Police is urging parents to buy young Ninja fans action figures
rather than live baby turtles.
“Hundreds of thousands of small turtles have been purchased
by well-meaning parents nationwide since the first movie premiered in 1990. But
these tiny animals aren’t toys and they require a commitment to keep them
healthy and safe,” said NRP Cpl. Michael Lathroum.
Organizations such as American Tortoise Rescue and
Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society note that when interest wanes, the
baby turtles ? mostly red-eared sliders from turtle farms down south ? are
tossed outside, flushed down the toilet or abandoned at nature centers and
wildlife rescue centers. The estimated fatality rate is 90 percent.
A similar problem arose when children asked for spotted
puppies after the release of the movie 101 Dalmatians.
NRP officers are already receiving complaints this summer of
small turtles being sold at street fairs and festivals.
Federal law prohibits the sale of turtles smaller than 4-inches
around or captured in the wild. In addition, turtles carry salmonella, which
can infect children, people on chemotherapy and those with immune deficiency
“These are wonderful creatures. They are symbols
of a healthy wetland,” said Jonathan McKnight, associate director of DNR’s
Natural Heritage Program. “But if you want to see a turtle, go outside and see
them in the wild.”
Top of Page
PGCPS Union Contracts
Office of the Lt. Governor
UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Public Schools
(PGCPS) will kick off the new fiscal year with a major achievement –
successfully negotiated agreements with all four unions representing all
employees in the school system. The newly-ratified union contracts represent a
major collaborative effort between PGCPS and the Unions, (the Association of
Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel (ASASP), the Prince George’s
County Educators’ Association (PGCEA), the Association of Classified Employees
(ACE)-AFSCME Local 2250, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local
"We were able to complete the negotiation process early
because of our joint commitment to offering employees fair and competitive
wages and working conditions," said Dr. Segun C. Eubanks, Board of
Education Chair. "In addition, these new contracts will have a positive
impact on the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff."
Two of the contracts – those for ASASP and PGCEA – have been
ratified for a two-year term.
The contracts for school administrators and central office
staff in ASASP Units II and III include a 2% COLA and step increase for FY
2015, as well as improvements to salary tables and stipends for national
certification. Salary improvements for FY 2016 include provisions to provide an
additional step increase for both units if funding is available.
The PGCEA contract for teachers includes a 1.5% COLA in FY
2015, a step increase, improvements to the salary table as well as other
negotiated stipends. Additionally, if funding is available, FY 2016
improvements provide a 1% COLA and an additional step.
ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 employees will see a 2% COLA this
month, step increases in 2015, expansion of lanes on all pay scales and
reimbursement for tools and uniforms. Additionally, nurses in Local 2250 with
four year degrees will receive a two grade advancement.
SEIU Local 400 staff will receive an overall 3% COLA in FY
2015, as well as a step increase and top of the scale lane expansion.
“Attracting and retaining highly-qualified staff
is critical to our success,” said Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, Chief Executive Officer
for PGCPS. “Having these contracts in place as we move forward is key to this
effort, and helps ensure that we can offer a competitive salary and benefits
package that attracts talented employees to Prince George’s County."
Top of Page
Prince George’s County Continues to Make Permitting Easier
By Press Officer
PG County Government
Upper Marlboro, MD: Prince George’s County Council Chairman
Mel Franklin (D-District 9), Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC)
General Manager/CEO Jerry Johnson, and The Maryland-National Capital Park and
Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Chairman
Elizabeth “Betty” Hewlett will sign
Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the Prince George’s County
Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE) with WSSC and
M-NCPPC to offer permitting services for those agencies at DPIE’s “one stop
shop” permitting location in Largo.
During this event, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for
Economic Development and Public Infrastructure Victor Hoskins and DPIE Director
Haitham A. Hijazi will discuss DPIE’s first year successes and vision for
continued permitting process improvements in the future.
“One of the campaign promises I made was to improve the
County’s permitting process,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L.
Baker, III. “Since we created and launched DPIE last year, we have heard time
and time again that our permitting processes have greatly improved. However, we know that we can continue to do
even better and provide more effective and efficient service to both our
residents and business stakeholders. The
signing of MOUs with WSSC and M-NCPPC will help improve our customers’ experiences,
save them valuable time, and continue to show both internally and externally
that Prince George’s County is ‘Open for Business!”
On July 1, 2013, Prince George’s County officially opened
its newest department, the Department of Permitting, Inspections and
Enforcement (DPIE). This 280-person agency combines under one roof the staff and functions that support the authorization and regulation of building, site/road, and utility permits, inspections and building licenses which drive the local economy and ensure the health and
safety of County residents, businesses and visitors. DPIE consolidates at a single location the
various functions associated with the County’s regulation and approval of
economic development and redevelopment projects. within the County and positions the County as
a national model for building permit processing, inspections, code enforcement,
business licensing and environmental stewardship.
TOP OF PAGE
Would you like to subscribe?
Please contact our office:
15207 Marlboro Pike
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
The Prince George's Post is
made up of the following staff:
Senior Editor & Publisher
Legusta Floyd, Sr.
General Manager & Legal Advertising Manager
Legal Advertising Assistant
Subscriptions and Legals
Michal W. Frangia
James and Betty Murphy