All thumbs: Best and worst of 2012 -- Gazette.Net


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Thumbs Down

Former Del. Tiffany Alston (D-Dist. 24) of Mitchellville, who was convicted of misusing General Assembly funds and pleaded no contest to misusing campaign funds — yet she still battled to retain her seat, arguing that she should not be removed from office because her jail sentence was modified to probation before judgment. Even if there wasn’t a legal reason to remove her, ethically, she should have stepped down.

Thumbs up

To voters statewide, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Question 3, also known as “Leslie’s Law,” which closes the loophole that allowed convicted officials such as former county councilwoman Leslie Johnson to remain in office until sentencing, which was a month after she had been convicted of corruption.

Thumbs Down

Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee for voting in favor of replacing Alston with former convict Gregory A. Hall, citing that he is now a new man, then reversing its support after public backlash. Flimsy vetting or flimsy decisions?

Thumbs Up

David Murray and Raaheela Ahmed. While unsuccessful in their bids for seats on the county school board, Murray, 20, and Ahmed, 19, showed that some youth are just as invested in improving the county school system as their adult counterparts.

Thumbs Down

Former Prince George’s superintendent William R. Hite, who left Prince George’s County for a bigger school system in Philadelphia. Upward mobility is understandable, but there’s something to be said for staying around until a job is done — or at least well on its way to success. His exit spoke volumes about the complexity of reforming county schools.

Thumbs Up

County Executive Rushern Baker’s progress. In the first half of his term, he has inked a deal to revive the financially ailing hospital system, gotten approval to expand the ethics office to better address government corruption and began luring businesses using an Economic Development Incentive fund. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next two years.

Thumbs Down

County Councilwoman Karen R. Toles (D-Dist. 7) of Suitland who was given probation before judgment and ordered to pay a $435 fine after allegedly driving more than 105 mph in a county-issued vehicle on the Capital Beltway in February.

Thumbs Down

The General Services Administration was criticized in 2011 for its decision to keep the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Montgomery County, despite complaints that Prince George’s has only 4 percent of federal leases in the region. The GSA followed up this year by announcing plans to move 450 Treasury Department jobs from Hyattsville to West Virginia.

Thumbs Up

Prince George’s residents who donated time and money to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Thumbs Down

Pepco. The utility company once again struggled to handle a major weather event as thousands of Pepco customers were without power for nearly a week after the June derecho. Residents received conflicting messages as to when their power would be restored from hours to days while others could not call in outages.

Thumbs Up

Prince George’s County voters. Prince George’s became a battle ground for same-sex marriage, gambling and the Dream Act in the November elections. County voters are no longer being considered a monolithic bloc on political decisions.

Thumbs up

To Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose dogs were fatally shot when his home was raided by a county SWAT team in 2008. Calvo and his family were cleared of any involvement in the smuggling operation that sparked the raid, and Calvo has focused on preventing the needless killings of animals by law enforcement. As a result, county public safety agencies began in-service animal training this year.

Thumbs up

Law enforcement leaders for the drop in crime in Prince George’s County. County crime levels are at the lowest they have been in nearly three decades, with homicides dropping by more than one-third since 2011.

Thumbs Up

Gun safety actions. The Prince George’s County Council for establishing a gun offender registry in July that requires those convicted of gun offenses to register in a police department-kept database while county police held three “Gift cards for guns” events where people could drop off guns, no questions asked and receive a gift card worth up to $100. As firearm safety debates continue to heat up on the national front, Prince George’s officials are coming up with creative ways to get guns off streets.