Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Students Come with me to Cuba!

I'm very excited to see that the US has ended a half century of an embargo and economic sanctions against Cuba! I will be taking students from Towson and any other university who interested on a study abroad program May 26th to June 6th of this year for more information and to apply click here.

Cuba is quite the economic mystery. An old joke about Castro is that his three greatest accomplishments where healthcare, education and sports, but his three biggest failures were breakfast lunch and dinner. Cubans enjoy one of the best health systems out side of OECD countries, their life expectancy is within a year of the US in part because of their well trained medical staff that services the rest of Latin America and has been at the forefront in the fight against ebola. Any baseball fan knows that Cuba is one of the hotbeds of talent with 186 MLB players born there. Yet, Cuba is still home to persistent poverty. In part because Cubans cannot gain remittances from their family abroad. Research in economics has shown in some cases that remittances can help start businesses  in the sending country.  In other cases economic research does not show this effect. I'm guessing Cuba is much more likely to see growth in business from remittances given all of the opportunities that exist through lack of capital.

I look forward to traveling there this summer and hope to learn about the next chapter for Cuba.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Montgomery County District 20 Voter Guide

A public good is a good which is non-rival and non-excludable or in other words my use of it does not take way from your use (rival) and I can't stop anyone from using it (excluding). So with that my wife Marie Mapes created a public good, a voters guide for Montgomery County District 20 in the state house it's non-rival and now that's it is on the internet it's non-excluding. The guide provides links to candidates answers to the League of Women voters and links/recaps of the Post and Gazette endorsement and info from Maryland juice. The endorsements are not necessarily those of Marie, myself, or even our kids (although our oldest daughter would vote for certain district 20 candidate that had an ice cream party)

Where to start: Use this site to find your sample ballot and your polling place which you can vote at June 24th from 7am until 8pm.

Vote June 19th (today) until 8pm at these locations

League of Women Voter's Guides:

Washington Post Governor & Gazette Governor

State Delegate, vote for 3.

From the Washington Post:District 20: Nine candidates want to represent this area that includes parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park; just one, longtime House Ways and Means Committee chairwoman Sheila E. Hixson, is an incumbent. There is little ideological variation among the contenders, so voters will have to distinguish based on experience and personal qualities, which are generally strong in this bright, diverse field. We pick Ms. Hixson for another term employing her veteran’s clout on behalf of the county; Howard University business school instructor Darian Unger, for his technical smarts and life-saving experience as a volunteer firefighter; and Will Jawando for his energy and his work in the Obama administration building private-sector support for education reform.

Blurb from Gazette:
District 20 has a wealth of remarkably sharp, qualified, progressive candidates, separated largely by nuance. If only we could export some to other districts.

Turnover’s guaranteed, with Heather Mizeur and Tom Hucker leaving. The most vexing question is the third seat, which 38-year delegate Sheila Hixson wants to keep.

Is it self-damaging for Montgomery County to unseat the longtime Ways and Means Committee chairwoman? Connections matter in entrenched Annapolis, but, frankly, longevity’s no substitute for the passion that’s abundant elsewhere in the race.

Former Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board Chairman Darian Unger and legal workhorse Jonathan Shurberg have built reputations of substantive achievement, and offer the best potential for effective state representation.

For the third spot, political strategist David Moon’s idealism and political acumen are appealing, but we lean toward the homegrown commitment of Will Smith, who sounds the right note on just about everything.

Whoever wins would be wise to draw upon competitors’ wisdom and work, including Justin Chappell’s understanding of the struggles of the marginalized and D’Juan Hopewell’s admirable toil on universal breakfast for children.

City Council at Large: Vote for 4 Washington Post & Gazette
WaPo recommends Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Hans Reimer, the only major challenger to these incumbents is Beth Daly,

From Maryland Juice:
AT-LARGE: Lastly, Montgomery County elects four at-large County Councilmembers, and all four incumbents are seeking re-election: Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer. Two challengers have entered the race: Beth Daly & Vivian Malloy. In previous election cycles, one at-large Councilmember typically loses, but it seems too early to size up the state of this race. So far newcomer Beth Daly has earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, public school retirees, Delegate Charles Barkley and Gaithersburg Councilmember Mike Sesma. Marc Elrich also has the support of the Sierra Club, while George Leventhal's supporters include Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams and City Councilmember Seth Grimes. - See more at:

County Council District 5:
Gazette Blurb:

Montgomery County Council District 5

There is a little for everyone in the District 5 candidate pool.

With no incumbent — the seat was Valerie Ervin’s (D) until she resigned to head a nonprofit organization — five candidates ran: school board member Christopher Barclay; Silver Spring activists Evan Glass and Jeffrey Thames; Del. Tom Hucker; and Takoma Park activist Terrill North.

Glass, while green to holding office, is not a newcomer to the community. He has grassroots experience on the transportation, housing and economic needs of the district — a valuable perspective when weighing issues. For this work on the ground floor, he earns The Gazette’s endorsement.

WaPo blurb:

In the open-seat race in District 5, five Democrats are seeking to replace two-term council member Valerie Ervin, who resigned. The best is Evan Glass, a communications consultant and former CNN producer who has been a community activist in Silver Spring. Mr. Glass, who would be the council’s first openly gay member, is pragmatic and deeply committed to the community, where he’s been an effective advocate for affordable housing. He’s the sort of independent-minded candidate who could make an important mark on the council and help rebrand Montgomery as a more welcoming place for employers.

His main rivals are Del. Tom Hucker and Christopher Barclay, a school board member, both of whom are in thrall to the unions and would set the county back on a path toward profligate spending. Mr. Barclay, in particular, is exactly what Montgomery does not need. He pays lip service to the county’s need to attract good employers and jobs but then says he would oppose new development around Purple Line stations, many of which would be ideal magnets for good employers and jobs. In addition, Mr. Barclay has been dogged by a scandal involving his use of a county-issued credit card for personal expenses.

From Maryland Juice:
DISTRICT 5: In the District 5 open seat race, candidates include Delegate Tom Hucker, school board member Chris Barclay, and activists Evan Glass, Terrill North and Jeffrey Thames. Tom Hucker has earned endorsements from NARAL, Sierra Club, public school retirees and labor unions representing firefighters, police, county employees, electricians and more. Meanwhile, Chris Barclay has been endorsed by the teachers, alongside current and former Councilmembers: Valerie Ervin, Craig Rice, Cherri Branson and Nancy Navarro. Evan Glass has the support of Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams and City Councilmember Seth Grimes.Terrill North has endorsements from Takoma Park Councilmembers Jarrett Smith and Fred Schultz, along with former Takoma Park Councilmembers Kay Daniels Cohen, Hank Prensky and Donna Victoria. - See more at:

County Executive:Washington Post & Gazette
WaPO endorses Ike L, but there were good reasons for supporting Gazette endorsed Phil Andrews, which were spelled out well in the endorsement article:

Attorney General: Washington Post
WaPo endorses Brian Frosh, makes good arguments, and definitely good arguements for not Cardin.

Gazette Endorsements: Sheriff, Clerk of Circuit Court, and Judges
Gazette endorses Darren M. Popkin
Gazette endorses Barbara Meiklejohn
Judges of the Circuit Court, Circuit 6:
Gazette endorses the 4 incumbents: Audrey Anne Creighton, Nelson W. Rupp Jr., Joan E. Ryon and Gary E. Bair

Dem Central Committee At Large
Dem Central Committee District 20:

School Board At Large
WaPo and Gazette endorses Jill Ortman Fouse, Gazette has more compelling reasoning

From Maryland Juice:
AT LARGE (OPEN SEAT): The open seat race for at-large school board has drawn four contenders: Edward Amatetti, Shebra Evans, Merry Eisner-Heidorn and Jill Ortman-Fouse. Shebra Evans is the choice of the teachers union, Merry Eisner-Heidorn has the support of the public school retirees, and Jill Ortman-Fouse has the support of Attorney General Doug Gansler, Sen. Jamie Raskin, and County Councilmember George Leventhal. - See more at: Bookmark and Share