Longtime head of 1000 Friends of Maryland to step down; Dru Schmidt-Perkins to leave post in November
Baltimore, May 4, 2017 – Nearly two decades ago, Dru Schmidt-Perkins became the first staff person and Executive Director for 1000 Friends of Maryland after serving on the original all-volunteer coalition for a number of years. Today she announced she is stepping down.
Over her tenure, the organization has had a number of accomplishments, including building strong coalitions at county level to impact future development patterns, creating new programs like the historic tax credit and Rural Legacy, improving programs to clean up toxic brownfields, reducing number of major new subdivisions in rural areas, and ensuring that dedicated funds are actually spent on Program Open Space.
“I made a commitment to stay for two years and now -- 19 incredible years later -- I have decided it’s time to try something new,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends President and CEO.
1000 Friends of Maryland was formed in 1994 to bring together business, developers, environmentalists, transportation advocates, community leaders, architects, and planners to work toward development patterns in Maryland that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. In 1998 the organization hired its first staff and ever since has been a strong voice for smarter growth in Maryland, advocating at the state and local levels. During this time, Schmidt-Perkins became a well-known and respected presence in Annapolis during the Maryland legislative session.
“It has been an honor to be part of the creation of a new organization and movement,” continued Schmidt-Perkins. “Our work to improve land use and development policy has been challenging and exciting, and it has been rewarded with victories large and small. I think back to our start in a single room rented from AIA Baltimore, and now we have a statewide effort operating out of our beautiful brownstone building in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.”
“People are often surprised at how small the organization actually is,” said Dale Sams, Chairman of the board. “But when you have a strong team, smart strategy, and create effective coalitions you can have a powerful impact. The staff at 1000 Friends are truly remarkable. They are tenacious and nimble in each campaign.”
Sams continued: “Today we see the impact everywhere, including new state laws, stronger regulations and programs that support smart development, and transformational land use plans at the local level that protect waterways, strengthen neighborhoods, and protect rural areas from sprawling development.”
“We thank Dru for her many successful years at the helm of this organization,” said Sams. “Dru’s vision, leadership, commitment, dry sense of humor, and boundless energy will be sorely missed at 1000 Friends.”
Schmidt-Perkins says she looks forward to watching the organization continue to have many wins. “The staff are the finest anywhere and I have been lucky to work with such smart and fun women.”
The Board of Directors will begin a search process late spring.
1000 Friends of Maryland advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns.
GOV. HOGAN’S PRIORITY OF REPEALING LAW TO REVIEW TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS AN AFFRONT TO GOOD GOVERNMENT
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends of Maryland, 410-258-8601 (cell)
Brian O’Malley, CMTA, 410-332-1723, Ext. 122
ANNAPOLIS, Feb. 2, 2017 – Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to make his top priority repealing a law to help guide the spending of transportation construction dollars is an affront to all Marylanders who care about transparency in government and best practices, say corporate and civic leaders.
The statute, known as the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016 (House Bill 1013), was enacted last year when the General Assembly overrode a veto by the governor.
“The governor is misrepresenting this law and ignoring evidence from other states that this process really works. It can ensure that Maryland moves forward with better transportation projects and in a more transparent way,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, the president of 1000 Friends of Maryland, a smart growth advocacy group.
The state of Maryland spends more than $2 billion every year on capital transportation projects. Historically, a governor could select projects for funding without regard to the state’s overall transportation goals. The 2016 law requires the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to develop a scoring system to rank and prioritize highway, bridge and public transit proposals. Supporters say the scoring system will make the state more accountable for how it spends its tax dollars by giving the public an understanding of Maryland’s greatest needs and overall priorities.
While providing MDOT with great latitude, the law requires the agency to develop a project scoring system using 23 different measures. The scoring process is modeled after a similar system in Virginia known as “Smart Scale,” which enjoys broad bipartisan support in that state. Other planning and scoring systems have been implemented in Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Washington and by the Federal Highway Administration, among others.
“Construction dollars are scarce so we all should want our dollars to flow to the projects that best achieve goals like connecting people to jobs,” observed Brian O’Malley, the president and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. “This law provides MDOT with the latitude to set up a scoring system that works. The agency has yet to do that, even though there are many examples of best practices from other states that could be applied here. And the law certainly does not require the cancelation of any pending projects.”
Let’s keep in mind the bigger picture,” added Schmidt-Perkins. “The decisions on how we spend our transportation dollars have an impact on the everyday lives of all Marylanders: how they get to work, how they get to school, where they choose to live, how food gets to their grocery store, whether they can open a new business, how clean is the air they breathe. It is imperative that MDOT develop a real scoring system.”
Two months ago, 1000 Friends and the Transportation Alliance released a report (link to report click here or go to www.friendsofmd.org.) that detailed how the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act could be successfully implemented by highlighting how other states and the federal government had addressed eight of the 23 measures required for the scoring system.
# # #
1000 Friends of Maryland is a smart growth advocacy group founded in 1994.
The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance was formed in 2007 as a diverse coalition of corporate and civic leaders uniting business, philanthropic and institutional sectors around a common agenda: improving and expanding transportation options for the citizens and businesses of central Maryland.
For Immediate Release
August 31, 2015
Contacts: Rich Hall, Citizens Planning & Housing Association, 410-539-1369 x101
Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends of Maryland, 410-258-8601
Brian O’Malley, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, 410-332-4172 x122
MDOT documents fail to show review before Red Line decision
Despite lengthy delays fulfilling Public Information Act request no documents were provided showing any analysis of the Red Line project before cancelation, supporting the theory that the decision was political.
BALTIMORE, MD –The Hogan Administration was asked on July 7th to release the “thorough analysis” that informed the Governor’s decision to cancel the Red Line [PIA request letter attached]. Not surprisingly, nothing in any of the 31 files released last week (available for download, below) suggests any analysis informing the decision to cancel the project.
When the Governor announced the cancelation of the Red Line on June 25th he spoke of his administration’s assessment faulting the project. The documents provided instead show none of the issues were true.
“What I see in the MDOT documents is what we already knew: the Red Line connects other transportation infrastructure into a system, it underwent peer review and it outcompeted other projects seeking federal funding. There were substantial contingencies built into the financial plan to protect against cost overruns and it addressed a clearly defined regional need. What I do not see are any recommendations to cancel the Red Line or findings that would support such recommendations,” said Brian O’Malley, President of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. “This is like turning in a paper where you quote a bunch of stuff, but you never state your conclusion or the arguments that support it. Ask any English teacher if that kind of paper deserves a passing grade."
“The lack of evidence of any substantive review of the Red Line proves that this project was canceled to fund the building of questionable new rural highways. Over $1.3 billion dollars of state funding was taken from urgent and long-planned transit needs in the most populated parts of the state and sent to build roads on farm and forest land in other parts of the state, providing very limited transportation benefits,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, President of 1000 Friends of Maryland.
“After over a decade of assessing the transit needs of Baltimore this east-west light rail was selected. The Red Line went through many levels of tough analysis, finally having to compete against transit projects across the country before winning federal funding. To have all this careful and complicated work suddenly thrown out for questionable highway projects is simply bad for all Marylanders,” said Richard Hall, Executive Director of Citizens Planning and Housing Association.
A timeline of Rahn’s statements about the reviews show that the Secretary consistently promised to review the project, but that the Red Line’s review was repeatedly delayed until after the review of the Purple Line was completed.
The Maryland Department of Transportation is required to respond to information requests “immediately” according to Maryland Law. “An additional reasonable period not to exceed 30 days is available only where the additional period of time is needed to retrieve their record and assess their status under the PIA,” according to the Attorney General’s website. This request was finally filled after 49 days.
Next steps for the Baltimore region
Moving forward, a coalition supporting equitable transportation in the Baltimore region is developing a strategy for next steps. This coalition is led by 1000 Friends of Maryland, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and Citizens Planning & Housing Association.
- We support the efforts of Baltimore’s elected officials to seek ways to save the Red Line as the most effective means to meet critical transit needs.
- If the Red Line is not built the project funds should be redeployed to support other urgently needed transit improvements.
- We support legislation to improve the transparency, accountability and performance of major transportation spending.
- The Maryland Transit Administration’s performance must be improved and oversight of the agency must be increased.
- To increase access to jobs, housing, education and health care, we must meet the goals of the regional effort known as the Opportunity Collaborative. This three-year effort by diverse stakeholders resulted in a plan that was released in June 2015. The goals include:
- Create more opportunity for mid-skill workers to commute to family-supporting jobs via public transportation.
- Shorten commute times and improve transit reliability to reduce the burden on working families.
- Make the region a more attractive place for employers by expanding transit access to more of the region’s mid-skill labor pool.
- Increase non-car commuting options to reduce our impact on the Chesapeake Bay and reduce carbon emissions.
These issues will be discussed at a September 15 workshop that Citizens Planning & Housing Association is hosting. Their website will soon have more details (cphabaltimore.org).
March 2, 2016
Contact: Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends of Maryland, 410-258-8601
Brian O’Malley, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, 410-419-5374
Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, 703-599-6437
MDOT CHARTS SERIOUSLY MISLEAD ON IMPACT OF TRANSPORTATION BILL
It is concerning the HB1013/SB908 Open Transportation Investment Decision Act is being mischaracterized by the Maryland Department of Transportation. Too much attention is being payed to the politics surrounding this issue and not the good transparent and open government merits of the bill.
MDOT released an “analysis” of the bill that has limited to no relation to the bill under discussion. According to Secretary Rahn and his team of planners, they spent a large amount of time scoring each project included in the 2016 CTP and concluded that all of the money would be redirected to just two regions: Montgomery and Baltimore.
This calculation is inaccurate and is being used to scare people away from a positive, good government proposal that will provide taxpayers in Maryland greater confidence in how their limited transportation dollars are being spent. MDOT's statements are false in the following ways:
Calculation does not assess projects
• MDOT made grand assumptions and did not use the objective measures included in the bill to come to its conclusions. Rather, they made huge leaps of faith that specific programs (i.e. rural projects) would not score well under the proposed process, and then connected these assumptions to projects receiving funding. This approach has no basis in reality and is a sad statement from a public agency trusted with billions of hard earned taxpayer dollars.
Uses scare tactics to alarm rural and suburban Maryland transportation users
• Using false assumptions as mentioned above, the Hogan Administration ran press releases announcing that specific projects in rural and suburban Maryland are in jeopardy of losing their funding, which is 100 percent not factual.
• Rural and suburban projects would score well when considering the cost-benefit of each project as directed in this bill. Simply put, it costs more to complete infrastructure projects where denser populations reside. By measuring each dollar's investment in all projects, rural and suburban projects have a greater likelihood to score well in the cost-benefit analysis and be recommended for funding. Look no further than our neighbor, Virginia. In their bipartisan transportation project ranking system, the highest ranking project was in the small town of Altavista—population 3,400— and not Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads.
Claims projects to maintain state of good repair wouldn't receive funds, which is flat out wrong
• Maintenance and preservation of our current system in a state of good repair is one of the best investments we can make, and this bill recognizes this fact by not including state of good repair projects in the ranking process. MDOT has misconstrued this fact, as well as many others.
Current robust public input process is seriously lacking actual public input
• The current process provides MDOT sole discretion over Maryland's more than $2 billion annual capital transportation budget. Maryland taxpayers are currently provided a thinly veiled appearance of public input. The aptly named Road Shows provide very little opportunity for citizen input and are rather a performance by MDOT on what projects have been selected. Many are held in small conference rooms and are not well advertised. This is not a robust public process.
• The additional information provided by scoring each project on the eight transportation goals would do nothing but strengthen the outreach process, creating more informed discussions and provide communities with the necessary feedback on their projects to improve them.
• How is a local community to better improve their chances of getting their priority transportation project complete if MDOT doesn't provide measures to improve their chances? The current system has local governments waiting decades to have their project prioritized in the Consolidated Transportation Plan.
An objective scoring system will provide Maryland’s local governments with a better understanding for how they can improve their chances of receiving scarce state transportation dollars.
It is time Maryland joined the growing number of states that are bringing transportation funding out of the dark, byzantine maze and into the daylight. The result will be a better understanding of what is funded and why and hopefully better transportation results economically, socially and environmentally.