May 16 - May 22, 2013
Pregnancy Complicates Working Women’s Life
Maryland is One of at Least Eight States to Pass Pregnant
By ALLISON GOLDSTEIN
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS — Rebecca Salsbury, 31, has less than one month to
go before she becomes a mother. She plans to readjust her work-life balance
when the time comes, but so far her pregnancy has meant little professional
change at the private law firm in Baltimore where she’s an associate.
“Lucky,” is the word she used to describe her circumstances
on the cusp of a paid three-month maternity leave, which she hopes will be
followed by a nanny-share program she’ll arrange with a neighbor. The parents
plan to share the cost of a single, child caretaker during the workday.
“I feel very fortunate that I can make that decision, that I
can choose from different child- care options,” said Salsbury, a board member
at the Women’s Law Center of Maryland.
Salsbury’s luxury of choice aligns with the experience of
some pregnant women navigating the workplace in Maryland, but the experience
for others, like Shayvon Omosanya, 24, could hardly be described as luxury, or
In an effort to correct that imbalance, Omosanya testified
in a March hearing that led to Maryland’s passage of a pregnant worker
protections act. The bill ensures that pregnant women cannot be forced out of
their jobs or denied reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
Maryland — where, according to Department of Labor data, 78
percent of women in the childbearing age range of 20-44 are in the workforce —
is one of at least eight states to pass pregnant worker protections.
Nationally, the number of pregnancy discrimination charges
in the workplace has increased by 35 percent over the past decade, according to
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Omosanya, as a woman within that demographic, had a personal
stake in the cause.
Shortly after she became pregnant with her second
child, the young mother learned that she had an incompetent cervix, a medical
condition that prevented her from lifting anything more than 20 pounds.
She loved her job at Spa Creek Center, a Genesis HealthCare
rehabilitation and nursing home in Annapolis where she had been working for
eleven months. But lifting food trays and pushing heavy carts would put her and
her baby at risk, so she asked to be moved to another department or work in the
café making soups and salads.
Omosanya submitted a note from her doctor about her medical
circumstances and was called to the human resources department soon after.
There she was told that the home could not accommodate her requests and her
employment would be terminated.
“Not only did I lose my job, I lost my home, I lost my
income, I couldn’t take care of my children,” said Omosanya.
Today, she lives with her family in a transitional homeless
shelter in Annapolis.
“I felt that they made me choose between being able to
provide for me and my 5-year-old or risking the safety of my unborn child. It
was just really unfair to me, and it broke my heart,” she said.
Omosanya gave birth in April and plans to look for a new job
as soon as she recovers. For Omosanya, it is a relief to know that once the
bill takes effect on Oct.1 she will not face the same outcome if she becomes
Salsbury, the expectant lawyer, is one of the 75 percent of
Maryland women between the ages of 16 and 54 who are in the labor force,
meaning they are working or looking for work, according to 2012 data from the
Maryland Department of Labor. By comparison, 82 percent of men in that age
range are in Maryland’s labor force.
Nationally, the effects of these numbers can be seen in the
outpouring of feminist voices on what it means to be both a professional woman
and modern mother.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and
Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning for the U.S. State
Department, are just two of the many high-profile women to recently weigh in on
the rewards and challenges for ambitious females in the workplace.
Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” argues that women ought to dedicate
more energy to professional success, while Slaughter’s 2012 Atlantic article,
“Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” suggests that professional success often
comes at the cost of a satisfying motherhood. Both pieces have reinvigorated
the ongoing feminist debate as women gain more powerful business roles.
But for many women, climbing to the top of an executive
ladder is not what defines their work-life struggles when they become pregnant.
“We are working on federal legislation for reasonable
accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace, particularly for women in
blue-collar jobs where they may need some reasonable alterations to their job
to continue working,” Sarah Crawford, director of workplace fairness at the
National Partnership for Women and Families. Her organization is working to
expand those efforts nationally.
Pregnancy protection alone would not mean an end to other
struggles for working mothers, Crawford said. Wage gaps and restrictions on
family and medical leave offer other challenges.
A paid three-month maternity leave like the one Salsbury
receives from her private law firm is rare in the U.S.
“We are really the only First World country that does not
have a policy requiring paid leave for new parents,” Crawford said. “There are
178 countries that guarantee paid leave for new mothers.”
As in the experiences of Salsbury and Omosanya, challenges
facing working women may be shaped by circumstance. Salsbury, for example,
recognizes that implementation of the pregnant workers fairness bill in
Maryland will have little effect on her work life as a lawyer.
Some challenges, however, may be universal for working women
who are considering having a child.
“I do think, just generally, women think more about
family planning aspects than men do,” Salsbury said. “I know my husband didn’t
think about it the way I did. For a woman, it’s definitely something you sort
of have to plan for and think about the consequences of your decision.”
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Maryland Politicians Land Softly at Law Firms
By JEREMY BARR
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON — Faced with the choice of running for a third
term as Prince George’s County state’s attorney or returning to a law firm job
and the cushy salary that comes with it, Glenn Ivey knew what he had to do.
“The college tuition mountain is certainly something we want
to make sure we can handle, and retirement is getting closer and closer,” said
Ivey, 52, who has two adult children, two children in high school and a
middle-school-age child with his wife, Prince George’s County Delegate Jolene
Ivey is enjoying a “six-figure increase in compensation,”
compared to his state’s attorney pay, in his new position at Leftwich &
Ludaway, a boutique, predominantly African-American firm, he said. The state’s
attorney makes about $150,000.
Ivey’s path is a typical one for a lawyer-politician.
Corporate law firms provide a safe, well-compensated landing pad for many
outgoing Maryland politicians looking for a new gig.
Ivey has shifted between public service and private practice
for most of his career. After working for the Justice Department, on Capitol
Hill as counsel for the Senate Whitewater Committee and former Sen. Tom
Daschle, and as chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission for two years,
Ivey joined what is now K&L Gates in 2000. He left the Washington law firm
when elected state’s attorney in 2002. Ivey served for eight years, leaving
office in 2010, and worked at another firm, Venable, before landing at Leftwich
“This is the first time I’ve really kind of hit the point
where I’m not going to go back into running for office or working full-time in
a government position,” Ivey said in a conference room on Washington’s
high-powered K Street corridor. “At this point, it makes more sense for me and
my family to stay in the private sector.”
When former U.S. Sen. Joseph Tydings lost his bid for
re-election in 1970, after serving just one term, he started practicing law
again and hasn’t looked back.
“Being a lawyer, you knew that if you were defeated, you
could go out and take care of your family,” said Tydings, 84, who served as a
U.S. attorney in Maryland before running for Congress. “In my case, my first
year in the practice of law after I left the Senate I made almost as twice as much
as my Senate salary.”
Tydings, who comes from a long line of lawyers, has worked
on counseling and government representation issues for Dickstein Shapiro, a
downtown Washington firm, since 1996.
He has more time to do pro bono work and lobby for causes he
cares about, like the Chesapeake Bay, as a senior counselor, he said.
Tydings isn’t the only former Maryland politician at
Dickstein Shapiro. He’s joined by former Rep. Al Wynn, who signed on in 2008
after losing his bid for a ninth term representing the Fourth District. Wynn
could not be reached for comment.
Public officials are extremely valuable assets to law firms,
which prize them for their understanding of government processes and access to
That’s one of the reasons why King & Spalding, an
Atlanta-based firm, hired former Maryland Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich after he
lost his bid to retake the governor’s mansion in Annapolis in 2010.
“He knows a lot of people,” said Michael Cain, a political
science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “He can pick up the phone
and someone will answer at the other end.”
Ehrlich, in his role as senior counsel in the firm’s
government advocacy and public policy practice group, spends most of his time
pitching to potential clients, giving speeches and explaining how Congress
The former governor knows what he’s talking about. Ehrlich
served four terms in the House of Representatives before becoming governor in
2002. He also served in Maryland’s House of Delegates for eight years.
“Bob Ehrlich brings to King & Spalding incomparable
insight and connections at the busy intersection of business and politics,”
said Wick Sollers, the office’s managing partner in a March 2011 press release
announcing the hiring.
Ehrlich spends one day writing each week — he’s penning his
second book, a follow-up to “Turn This Car Around: The Roadmap to Restoring
America,” in addition to a weekly column for The Baltimore Sun — and is also a
familiar face on cable television, where he often rails against the Obama administration.
“I think there’s a real cultural battle going on with regard
to American values,” Ehrlich, 55, said by phone, adding that Obama has the
“wrong values, wrong policies.”
Asked whether his meshing of politics and legal work is
problematic, Ehrlich said it’s just the opposite.
“The firm encourages it,” he said. “(It) has a deep, rich
tradition of politicians. I love the firm. It’s been wonderful.”
Ehrlich has been able to create a “mini version” of his
political team at King & Spalding, bringing along his former communications
director, Greg Massoni.
While Ivey enjoys working at Leftwich & Ludaway, he
misses the good will that comes with being a public servant.
“I loved that being my job — to get up in the morning and
try to help folks out who were having trouble,” Ivey said. “Sometimes it
doesn’t take a lot to make a really big difference in peoples’ lives.”
To that end, Ivey launched an abortive campaign to take on
Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, in November 2011. He dropped out of the
race after just two months, citing fundraising difficulties.
Ehrlich, on the other hand, seems resigned to the fact that
the state he once ran no longer aligns with his political ideology, making a
future run improbable.
“The direction of Maryland is really clear,” he said. “It’s
not the direction I wanted.
There is little I could do about it.
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Md. Looks to Buses to Loosen I-270 Traffic
By NICOLE MACON
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON – When Margie Weaver accepted a job in North
Bethesda, she didn’t think much about driving 42 miles from her home in
Unionville to her workplace – until a trip she thought would take her about 45
minutes took up to two and a half hours in traffic on Interstate 270.
“When you add that (commute) on to an eight-, nine-hour day,
you’re 14 hours away from home,” Weaver said.
Because she needed her car for work, Weaver had no choice
but to drive each day. She tried to change her schedule to avoid peak travel
times, but eventually quit her job after about a year to work closer to home.
Now Weaver helps link Frederick drivers with others who share similar commutes
and helps residents plan routes that reduce the amount of time behind the
Interstate 270 is typical of the 65 percent of Maryland
interstate highways that are congested, according to a study compiled by the
Maryland chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Major improvements
to ease traffic congestion on the highway are years from completion or have been
put on hold. Decreased revenue
projections and the state’s use of transportation funds for other purposes have
delayed the more expensive options and forced planners to devise cheaper
“We’ve fallen way behind on our infrastructure plans,” said
Richard Parsons, board member of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance.
The Maryland chapter of the American Society of Civil
Engineers gave the state’s roads and transitways a C- rating in its 2011 report
on the state’s infrastructure that came out in March. A key factor in the
rating was inadequate funding for planned projects.
“It is critical that funding for capital improvement
projects be increased,” the study concluded. “Failure to do so will continue to
result in costly roadway repairs and reconstruction and increase time delays
for Maryland residents.”
Maryland is doing better than the country on average, which
received Ds for roads and transit in the same ASCE report.
The Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland
Transit Administration have been working since the mid-1990s on developing a
combination of road and transit improvements to Interstate 270 to improve
traffic flow. When the first public hearings were held in 1997, average daily
traffic on the interstate south of Interstate 70 was 83,750 vehicles. In 2012,
average daily traffic in the same area was 103,960 vehicles, a nearly 25
The Maryland Transit Administration and the Maryland State
Highway Administration conducted a multi-modal study on the 30-mile highway
that presented five different options to add lanes. Expanding the highway was
put on hold in 2011 in favor of transit options after the study estimated the
cost at up to $5 billion.
The Corridor Cities Transitway, a rapid-bus system, began as
a branch of the multi-modal study and became an independent project when
highway lane expansion was abandoned. The first phase of the project will
stretch from the Shady Grove Metro Station to the MARC Metropolitan Grove
Station with nine stations in between.
The rapid bus transit system could ease traffic congestion
on the lower portion of I-270 since buses will have designated lanes and would
only interact with traffic at intersections.
“Regardless of how congested the roads become, the
transitway will be able to maintain its travel speeds,” said Rick J. Kiegel,
project manager for the Corridor Cities Transitway.
Relief for travelers, however, is years away. The first
phase of the project, which would link the MARC Metropolitan Grove Station with
the Shady Grove Metro Station, is expected to be completed by 2020. The
completed transitway will stretch to the COMSAT Laboratories in Germantown, but
there is no set timeline for this second phase. The plan is to wait for that
area to increase in density, Kiegal said.
But even a completed transitway will make little dent in the
problem, Kiegel said. “The reality is that I-270 carries such a large volume of
traffic that one transit system is not going to have a significant impact.”
The Maryland State Highway Administration has focused on
improving segments of Interstate 270. A project to construct a new interchange
at the Watkins Mill Road Extended would provide access from I-270 to the MARC
Metropolitan Grove Road Station. Partial engineering is still underway, with
the right-of-way construction to begin later this fiscal year.
With the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure
Investment Act in Maryland, Parsons is more optimistic that some of the state’s
stalled transportation projects will resume.
“I’m feeling optimistic for the first time in a long time,”
The bill passed by the General Assembly in March would
increase the gas tax by up to 5 percent by 2016. The legislation would bring an
estimated $4.4 billion to the Maryland Department of Transportation. The gas
tax has not been increased since 1992.
A pilot program is underway for “bus-on-shoulder” lanes
along Interstate 270. The Maryland State Highway Administration is studying how
to create shoulder lanes that can withstand bus traffic. Buses would use the
shoulder lanes when highway traffic slows to a particular speed. A similar
project is underway in Virginia to improve shoulders for buses on Interstate 66
inside the Beltway that could be completed as soon as next year.
While Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance Chairman
Doug Duncan said that “bus-on-shoulder” lanes are a good idea in the short
term, the highway needs transit with a dedicated lane. “Long term I think you
need to look towards separate bus lanes,” Duncan said.
Weaver had what she considers the best solution: move
closer to work. Although she now lives 15 miles from her workplace, Weaver has
put her house up for sale, and hopes to find a home even closer to work so that
she can start commuting by bike. “I’m finding that it is just so much better of
Top of Page
Metro DC Shed Image, Put Young Designers on Fashion Runway
By ANAMIKA ROY
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON -- The nation’s capital has long been known as a
place full of stuffy gray suits and neatly pressed ties, but these days,
designers are loosening the top button.
“There has been a stigma with D.C. fashion,” said Michelle
Gibson, a fashion designer and Howard University senior. “It’s gray, tacky and
That stiff image is being erased by a confluence of forces
that are putting D.C. on the fashion map: Up-and-coming, home-grown designers,
showcase venues in DC Fashion Week and the DC Fashion Incubator, plus a young,
hungry, well-heeled consumer market.
Gibson is a prime example. She’s one of a handful of
students at Howard to have started their own clothing line as a college
student. Hers is called “Simply L3ve,” and she showcased her collection at DC
Fashion Week’s Emerging Designers Showcase in February.
Gibson traces her fashion aspirations back to when she had
to wear a uniform for school. Her peers all had to wear the same, bland
uniform, but she noticed how each made subtle adjustments to make those
costumes their own.
“I was a quiet observer,” she said.
This was the inspiration for Simply L3ve -- a customizable
clothing line that allows her customers the creative freedom to create their
To Gibson, personal style is about being able to take a
template and add colors and prints of the wearer’s choosing.
“I want my customers to wear something no one else has,”
That’s exactly the DC fashion vibe, said Janice Wallace,
editor-in-chief of Façon Magazine, who has lived in the Washington area her
whole life. She founded Façon Magazine in November 2011 to showcase local
“It’s about people who do their own thing and don’t need to
look like anybody else.” Wallace said.
This characteristic of fashion in the Washington
metropolitan area provides greater opportunities for young designers, she said.
To Wallace, D.C. has always been stylish, but now more
people are paying attention.
“Before, if it didn’t appear in The (Washington) Post, it
didn’t happen at all.” she said.
Blogs like Refinery29 D.C., which targets an audience
ranging from college students to young professionals, are supplementing more
traditional fashion media, Wallace said. The site features articles on fashion,
style, beauty and events taking place around D.C.
“You would think this kind of information is always
available but it’s not,” said Holly Thomas, editor in chief of Refinery29 D.C.
“Bloggers have created a more comfortable environment for people interested in
Nurturing this nascent fashion industry is the area’s own
showcase: DC Fashion Week, the fifth- largest fashion week in the United
States. Historically, it has brought in designers from all over the world, but
lately it’s been courting designers from around the nation’s capital. The
weeklong event helps designers get exposure in front of big-name buyers, who
might then agree to carry their line.
The DC Fashion Incubator and Style Studies DC also are
helping to build the area’s fashion scene by working with emerging designers to
assist them with their brands and network with potential buyers.
Macy’s has partnered with the DC Fashion Incubator to give
up-and-coming designers the opportunity to sell their line at the company’s
Metro Center store. Talks for this partnership began in October 2012 and are
expected to be put into action in the next year. Macy’s has created
partnerships for similar programs in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Wallace works with the DC Fashion Incubator and says she is
“optimistic” about the future of the organization’s partnership with the Metro
Style Studies DC was founded in February by 22-year-old Kiah
Leigh Rhode, from Bowie, to bring together influential members of the fashion
industry and young people interested in fashion. The program is still under
construction and held its first series of seminars earlier this month. These
seminars were led by players in the local fashion scene, like Wallace, and
attended by young people interested in becoming designers, editorialists and
public relations representatives in the fashion industry.
Rhode calls herself a “professional DIYer & creative”
and has an eponymous jewelry line.
Rhode says the influx of young people in the D.C. area has
helped Washington’s relationship with fashion.
“We have more fashion initiative.” said Rhode.
Seven of the 10 wealthiest counties in America are in the
Washington metropolitan area, according to the American Community Survey
conducted in 2011. The 2010 census found that a third of the population in
Washington is between the ages of 20 and 30, a 23 percent increase from the
Retailers are noticing the trend. Established designers,
including Kate Spade, Burberry and Michael Kors, have all brought their stores
to the area in recent years.
While this is good news for the young shopper, this
development, ironically, is making it increasingly difficult for small
boutiques and vintage shops to stay in business.
“Every massive chain store is headed our way and smaller
stores can’t handle that.” said Thomas.
But young designers like Gibson continue to be optimistic
about opportunities available to them: “I used to think about moving to New
York but now I’m considering staying in D.C.”
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Medical Marijuana Dispensary to Open in DC
By ETHAN ROSENBERG
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON -- The Popeyes on 8th Street Southeast sells the
typical fare of fried chicken and biscuits, but the space upstairs from the
fast food restaurant will soon sell something a little more unusual and a lot
A mere two miles from the U.S. Department of Justice,
Metropolitan Wellness Center, one of three medical marijuana dispensaries
preparing to open in the district within the next few months, will sell dried
cannabis, edibles and paraphernalia to qualifying individuals.
Proponents say medical marijuana can help patients manage
pain and deal with other symptoms of diseases such as cancer. But marijuana is
still illegal under federal law.
"It's hilarious, isn't it?” said Vanessa West,
Metropolitan Wellness Center’s general manager. “It's funny, the public has it in
their heads that people are going to be up here smoking and then going
downstairs to eat chicken."
Medical marijuana was approved in the district in 1998,
though Congress, which controls the city’s budget, blocked implementation until
Despite pot’s illegal status federally, 19 states, most
recently Maryland, have passed legislation allowing the distribution of medical
marijuana. Voters in both Colorado and Washington state passed referendums in
November allowing the recreational use of pot.
Maryland’s law, which Gov. Martin O’Malley signed Thursday,
will allow academic medical centers, designated by a commission within the
state’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, to distribute marijuana to
patients who have received a recommendation from their physician.
The law will take effect Oct. 1, although the bill’s
sponsor, Delegate Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, has estimated it will take a
couple of years before treatment will become available.
Marijuana has had its place on the federal government’s
Schedule 1 listing of illegal substances without a known medical use and a high
potential for abuse since 1970 as part of the Controlled Substances Act.
“The fact that the District of Columbia can pass it legally,
and the District of Columbia is in the land of the federal government ... is a
contradiction and it speaks to the fact that federal law needs to sort of get
on board with what more states are saying,” West said.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
referred calls for comment to the Department of Justice. Officials at the
Department of Justice could not be reached for comment.
For the first time in more than four decades, a majority of
Americans are for the legalization of marijuana. According to a recent poll by
the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Americans are for legalizing pot, a jump
up from 32 percent in 2002 and 17 percent in 1991.
“I think it shows that this is not an issue for them
anymore,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the
advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project. “Over the last two years since this
program has been implemented...we haven’t seen a single member of Congress
object to it. We’ve seen several members of Congress introduce measures to tax
marijuana. This ship has sailed.”
The dispensary upstairs from the Popeyes is mostly empty now
as it waits for the Department of Health to complete the final stages of
certification. Some empty jars in a display case sit idly by the window next to
a couple of scales bearing Department of Health certification stickers, and
that’s about it.
But upon opening, those jars will be filled with pot nuggets
separated by strains, and the adjacent wall will have shelves filled with
bongs, vaporizers and rolling papers.
“We’ll be like a little head shop,” said West, referring to
retail outfits known to specialize in marijuana paraphernalia.
Patients will be let past the waiting room depending on how
many specialists are on duty. If there is only one specialist available,
patients will be let in one at a time.
Selecting a strain is not simple. Different strains have
different effects depending on a patient’s medical history and current
prescriptions, West said. The job of the specialist is to tailor a strain based
on a patient’s medical needs.
For instance, a specialist would not recommend a pot strain
that would speed up a patient’s heart rate if they are taking medication that
already has that side effect. If a patient is seeking medical marijuana to
relieve their insomnia, they would shy away from a strain known to be energy
“If they’re nauseous or depressed or don’t have an appetite,
if they’re vomiting constantly, these are things we want to sort of pull out of
them so that we can make the best recommendation possible so that when they go
home they have the best experience,” West said.
But to even get upstairs, the district's Department of
Health requires hopeful residents to jump through a number of hoops.
To start, only residents that have HIV, AIDS, cancer,
glaucoma or multiple sclerosis are eligible. Other illnesses will quality with
the Department of Health on a case-by-case basis.
In order for residents to enter the program, their physician
must file a recommendation with the Department of Health, citing one of the
qualifying diseases as the basis for their need.
Once approved, residents must pay a $100 registration fee to
receive a photo identification card they can use to access their designated
dispensary. Residents are only allowed to visit one dispensary to ensure they
do not purchase more than 2 ounces, the maximum amount allowed by the
Department of Health, per month.
After all that, residents can make the trip to 409 8th
St. SE, climb the long staircase past the cell phone repair shop and use their
ID to gain entrance to the dispensary.
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