Joint Commission Assembly
December 13, 2010
Thank you very, very much. You all didn't need to stand up. We're all friends here.
I want to thank you for giving up your time all through not only this year, as I look around this room I see people that have been giving of their time for many, many years. And certainly from the very beginning of the O'Malley/Brown administration.
So thank you all not only for taking the time to spend the entire day—most of the day—here today, but also for what you've done over the last four years.
I want to thank Lt. Governor Brown, who I truly believe by any objective measure has been the most effective Lieutenant Governor in America over the last four years.
And why do I say that? Because he wanted to work on three things – economic development, higher education, and health care. On economic development our State this year, even though we've come through a recession, the BRAC jobs never stopped coming and we have now this year had the best year of new job creation that we've had since the year 2000. We rank third among the 50 states so far.
Second, we're the only state in America to not only move up in the rankings of excellence in terms of our public universities from four years ago, we are also the only one to go four years in a row without a penny's increase in college tuition.
And finally—and I underscore this for our distinguished representatives here from President Obama's administration—the other issue that Lt. Governor Brown wanted to work on from the first day of this administration four years ago was rolling up our sleeves and finding the solutions to the challenge of health care so we could extend more coverage to more people. And by God, now the whole country is going to get coverage.
Who knew? But I want to thank the other members of your administration who are with us today – Secretary of State John McDonough, Secretary of Appointments Jeanne Hitchcock, our Director of Minority Business Development Luwanda Jenkins, I know that the title is really Minority Affairs, but I prefer Business Development to affairs. Also Delegate Dana Stein is with us. And our Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ed Chow, is with us. Our Baltimore City Service Officer Vu Dang is here. Our Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Alexander Sanchez is here with us today as well.
And I also want to thank Patrick Corvington. That was a great story. In fact, I thought you were going someplace—I thought you were going to tell me that you worked here for the Casey Foundation. You did that, too. But instead you talked about Patterson Park, where you took the oath of allegiance to the United States.
It was over that very ridge in Patterson Park—and all these folks know this story, so don't tell him the punch line—that the Mayor of Baltimore in 1814 dug trenches with the people of Baltimore, 60 percent of them African American—actually 1 out of 5 of them were African American and 60 percent of them immigrants—in order to defend the city from being burned to the ground by the approaching British army that was coming over by land from that direction.
So that's a great place. Come back for the full tour, we'll be here all week.
And also I want to thank—I understand Paul Montero was here earlier. Paul took the early train back to Washington? All right. Well, he, I know, deals with all sorts of faith outreach and those things, so we’ll pray for his safe arrival back in D.C., but let him know we called out his name as well.
What a welcome relief it is to work with an administration that returns your phone calls, that wants to make government work for the sake of advancing the greater good. Katie and I had occasion to go down to one of the receptions at the White House the other day. We got all dressed up and, boy, it feels so good to go to that house now.
Now I know—full disclosure, Mr. Corvington—this is not a partisan group. I'm sure we have Democrats and Republicans alike in this group. But these are my ten minutes.
It really feels good to go down there. I never want to leave now. It sets a nice warm welcoming atmosphere. Mr. President and Mrs. Obama were so nice. They stood in a four hour click line, doing pictures with all of us.
And afterwards, some of the good people that were helping to wait on the guests there in the White House, they said to me, I could see them pointing and nodding and looking, and one of the gentlemen, obviously of Latino descent, says to me, You're O’Malley, right? And I said, I am. And he says, I told you, he's ours.
And the crowd was starting to die down and you could tell that they probably aren't supposed to do this, but he leans in and says, Take a picture? I said, Sure.
So I stand there and the guy comes over and I said, Where are you from originally? And he says, From Argentina. I said, Great. Thank you. Click, picture. Here comes another person, Can I get one, too? What is your name? My name's Maria. And where are you from? From Venezuela. Okay, I do a picture. Then another one came. Where are you from? And I forget, but all four of them were naturalized United States citizens from four different countries.
So we are all part of one tribe. And that tribe is known as the United States of America, where e pluribus unum still means something. And as I look out and see into the eyes of my Native American neighbors, I know that all of us, with the exception of our Native American neighbors, came from some place else before we arrived here.
I saw Paul Hawken give a talk the other night on the internet. He's written a number of books on mostly environmental things and sustainability. But he had a wonderful phrase that I just wanted to share with you. He said that, “Our work is to create a better and more complete ‘we.’” A better and more complete we.
That's what you've done as your work here. And I'm looking forward to learning more about the Maryland Civic Health Index. I understand we scored pretty high. And I think that is an exciting project, it measures how civically engaged Marylanders are across the State. You know, the Greeks had a word, their word for "idiot" was it meant a person not engaged in the civic life of their state.
So we believe—I think all of us, or you wouldn't be here—that our fullest exercise of our own individual freedom happens in the context of community. And it happens in the context of working with others to become a more complete we.
So I thank you for your commitment to shaping that better future. Our State has a lot going for us, we've been able to protect investments that have had us named the best public schools in America two years in a row. I mentioned the rate of job creation, which is actually twice the national rate of job creation. We're one of only eight states that has a Triple A bond rating. I mentioned the tuition freeze.
We've done a lot of things right to invest in this innovation economy. An innovation economy that is not only fueled by the investments we make in the brain power of our people, but it's also fueled by another important ingredient and you'll see it if you walk through the halls of Medimmune or NIH or Johns Hopkins or any of the other places where people are working on the science, the cures, the discoveries, the healings … the things that create jobs and make us a moral leader of this world.
It's not only the brain power of our people, but it's also the diversity of our people. It comes together in the original land of the free and the home of the brave to inform and create different perspectives that allow us to address those big challenges that we face as a people.
Now, no doubt in this upcoming legislative session we're all going to be tested once again. In a year that's actually probably going to feel a lot tougher and a lot more painful than the prior three years, in terms of the budget.
Why is that? Well, because for the last two years President Obama and the Democratic Congress were there to help us bridge to a period of recovery. And now those recovery dollars have wound down.
So we're going to have a couple of tough years ahead of us, but we're going to make it through. And we're going to make it through because of all of you.
So none of us has the ability by ourselves to write this next chapter in American history. But each of us is needed. No community has it, in and of themselves, to write the next chapter in Maryland's history or America's history.
But together, as a more complete we, we can. In effect, we're all even. Every community is important and every person is important. And we are all in this together. And we need to write that history as if the future is watching and the future depends on us, because it does. So let's get started.
And also, I want to thank Izzy Patoka and his entire staff for the commitment and for the energy that they pour into the important work that I know each of you does in each of the commissions it's engaged in.
And it's now my honor to be able to introduce the Chair of the Governor's Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs, Anwer Hasan.