Ask the Executives: Question B and Question 7 spark heated debate

WASHINGTON – Two ballot initiatives sparked heated debate on Wednesday when the county executives from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties sat down for WTOP’s Ask the Executive show.

In Montgomery County, voters will decide on Question B in November. Essentially, they’ll be asked to decide if police management has the right to make certain changes — schedule changes, for example — without having to negotiate what effects those changes could have on officers.

Mark Zifcak, the former president of the Fraternal Order of Police, called into the show to voice his opposition to the initiative, saying County Executive Ike Leggett had refused a public debate about the matter.

“I think we’ve had several public debates,” Leggett responded. “It was debated, it was reviewed, it was voted on and it was voted 9-0 against it.”

Earlier in the show, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker was asked about Question 7, which would allow gambling in the county — something many voters vehemently oppose. Opponents argue such an establishment would bring crime to the county and the revenue would not go to education, as proponents say.

Baker says there is no evidence that crime and casinos go together and reaffirmed that revenue brought in by such a venture would be financially beneficial to Maryland’s education system, infrastructure and roads.

Learn more in our blog about restoration efforts after Sandy, speed camera enforcement in Maryland and a serial arsonist in Prince George’s County.

10:57a.m., speaking about arsonist:

Baker: We’re on top of this.

10:57 a.m., speaking about death of police officers:

Baker: I talked to the chief and the policy is that officers must wear their seatbelts. It’s a standard policy. Our police department does a great job. Our police chief has gone out and re-educated people.

10:53 a.m., speaking about photo enforced speeding:

Baker: We have these photo enforcement for safety reasons. Certainly, we look at the fees for the district, which are pretty high.

Leggett: I think we need to work as a region. And we do not believe that we should have those sort of retalitory measures. With $40 in Montgomery County, we have had safer roads.

Baker: I agree. I think as a region we should look at this. The idea is to keep people safe and the fines that we have in Prince George’s County work well.

10:51 a.m., speaking about Question B:

Leggett: Prior police chiefs have objected to this law as well. I supported the law and I signed it. This is a county law and I am going to fight for the county law. I am going by what my police chief says. My police chief says that repealing the law does support public safety.

10:43 a.m., speaking about Question B:

Leggett: Many years ago I was on the other side of this. But I am looking at the last couple of years, and I’ve seen a negative effect. It was an overwhelming vote for this. I think we’ve had several public debates. It was debated, it was reviewed, it was voted on and it was voted 9-0 against it. We’ve had this debate. They lost.

10:36 a.m., speaking about crime and gambling:

Leggett: I don’t think we know that crime goes along with gambling. Having a full-scale casino I think is much more indicative to reducing crime. I don’t see this association that you’re making with relation to crime.

Baker: This is a destination resort with entertainment, high end shopping, the casino is part of the whole attraction. What is coming is that right now we are losing money to the outside region. But bringing in a high-end destination resort, this would be the best site on the east coast. And I think it would be good for Prince George’s County.

10:32 a.m., speaking about Question 7:

Baker: The money is going to go toward education. And let’s just say it didn’t go to education, then still all the money will go to the state of Md., will go to help with infrastructure, help roads.

Leggett: There is no state in the union that prioritizes education more. We put money into education that we didn’t even have. That’s how pro-education this state is. We have prioritized eduction. I don’t want gambling in Montgomery County, but I think people should have the option. If the people in Prince George’s County want it, then I think they should have it. I am not advocating for Montgomery County.

10:27 a.m., speaking about Question 7:

Blaine Young, president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, called in: Young: Our biggest challenge here is that in 20 minutes you can get to other gambling facilities. People go over the border and take their business there.

10:26 a.m., speaking about ballot questions:

Young: The main thing I say is to become educated. Don’t draw conclusions based on scare tactics, whether or not you’re for it or against it. We have a very important question on our ballot is Question A.

10:25a.m., speaking about Flooding:

Blaine Young: We’re monitoring flooding. Through all this and past storms we’ve had very minor issues.

10:22 a.m., speaking about Sandy in Frederick County:

Young: Our major concern was not only the flooding, but the wind. We were very concerned about how long people would be without electricity. Potomac Edison is working feverishly, we’ve been very satisfied with their response to us, telling us what areas have electricity. We’re hoping in the next 24 to 48 hours that everyone is back up and running. We’re also telling resident to not take the situation into their own hands. There could be live wires involved in the trees that are down.

10:18 a.m., speaking about early voting:

Baker: The lines are out of the building. We are very pleased to see that people are taking advantage of that. We are pleased that people are taking advantage of the storm.

10:17 a.m., speaking about sewage:

Leggett: Everything is safe in Montgomery County

Baker: Prince George’s County as well.

10:15 a.m., speaking about Potomac surge:

Baker: We’ve got our public works office out there surveying. We’re making tours around the county. We’re just keeping our eye on what’s going on out there. Sandbags are not available in Prince George’s County. As it turned out, they didn’t need them.

Leggett: We’ve had some flooding in the Glen Echo area and anticipate that there may be some problems.

Baker: In Upper Marlboro, those folks going up the courthouse, the water level is flooded. I toured that yesterday. Also, people who are doing early voting, because of the flooding, they’re going to have to pay special attention.

10:13a.m., speaking about downed trees and Potomac Edison:

Leggett: We’ll look into that. We have that on the list. We should have answers today about getting trees cleaned up. We are in contact with them and will make sure that they respond to the challenges that they have.

10:12a.m., speaking about debris:

Leggett: Make certain that people do not put leaves in drainage areas. We do not want to back up the roads. Be very careful about not cloggin the roads.

10:11 a.m., speaking about Halloween:

Leggett: Halloween tonight, business as usual but a few caveats. Look out for downed limbs. You should have no problem, but just be a little bit cautious. We enhance police every year. We’ll have extra patrols.

Baker: Be more aware this year because of Sandy. Be extra careful looking at the surroundings because of the downed limbs and leaves.

10:06 a.m., speaking about Sandy:

Baker: The recovery is going well. Majority of people have their power back on. Last check we had about 10,000 without power. Mostly for us it was downed trees. Not as many as we’ve seen in the past, but by and large we survived well.

Leggett: We’re down to about 523 as we speak. This was pretty good compared to previous storms. I’d like to thank Pepco. The preparation this time, the number of outside crews. It was far far better. We’re down to only two signals out right now.

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