Brand-New Alex. Brown Will Invest in Baltimore

The name Alex. Brown has always had a special meaning for Barry Garber. The legacy investment banking firm is where Garber, 60, got his start in the wealth management industry more than 25 years ago and has remained ever since.

So having the opportunity to bring the Alex. Brown name back to the forefront is something Garber started to ponder more than a year-and-a-half ago when he learned the division of its parent company was on the selling block.

On Tuesday, Raymond James Financial, the seventh-largest assets brokerage firm in the country, made its acquisition of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management’s U.S. Private Client Services Unit official and announced it would  rebrand the unit as Alex. Brown.

“I think what is particularly interesting about this is I  anticipate a major reinvestment back into the Baltimore region,” Garber said. “I think the [Alex. Brown] name will be more prominent than it has been over the last 15 years.”

Barry Garber is  committed to helping Alex. Brown rediscover its Baltimore roots. (Justin Silberman)

Barry Garber is committed to helping Alex. Brown rediscover its Baltimore roots. (Justin Silberman)

Founded in 1800, Alex. Brown & Sons ­— the name it went by throughout much of its history — started as a linen-trading firm on Gay Street before it morphed into an investment and brokerage house. During its early years, the company was instrumental in the construction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the formation of the Baltimore Water Co. and the financing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge with bond sales.

As the firm grew, it became known for taking companies such as Microsoft, Microsystems, Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse and Krispy Kreme, among others, public so investors could buy stock options.

The company was acquired by Bankers Trust in September 1997 for about $2.5 billion. A little less than two years later, in June 1999, Germany-based Deutsche Bank purchased Bankers Trust for more than $10 billion and rebranded the Alex. Brown name.

But if anyone can accelerate the progression of the Alex. Brown name, Garber figures to be at the top of the list.

“What Barry brings to the table in terms of his connections to the community and the business end is invaluable,” said Marcus Aiello, the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regional executive director at Alex. Brown. “With Barry possessing the experience he does — we’ve worked together for 16 years — along with the rest of our team, I know we’re a great position moving forward.”

After graduating magna cum laude from Syracuse University’s School of Management and earning his master’s degree from New York University, Garber entered management training at General Food Corp. From there, he joined what is now known as Bristol-Myers Squibb, a pharmaceutical company, where he was a product manager responsible for profit and loss statements. Prior to joining Alex. Brown, he was recruited as a senior executive for U.S. Health, which owned and operated about 65 fitness centers across the country.

Now, he specializes in building custom portfolios with expertise in overlaying alternative investments — including private  equity, hedge funds, real estate and structured solutions — as head of the Garber Wealth Management Team.

Garber attributes much of his success to the right mix of people working together, heading a team of six associates with more than 100 combined years of experience in the wealth management industry. Together, he and his staff oversee about $2.4 billion in assets for more than 100 clients that include entrepreneurs, institutions,  endowments, family offices and high-net-worth individuals.

All of his business comes from referrals, and Garber says he doesn’t make cold calls to solicit business and is at  advantage to gain new clients because of the focus he puts on them.

“If I lose my own money, that’s too bad,” Garber said. “But if I lose other people’s money or don’t do the right thing, then that’s unacceptable.”

That’s the kind of self- assured attitude that has helped Garber gain national recognition.

Garber has been featured in Forbes magazine, which this year ranked him No. 81 on its list of the top 100 wealth managers in the nation. In addition, he has been featured on Barron’s annual list of Top Financial Advisors for the past seven years and has been recognized by the Financial Times as a Top 401 Retirement Advisor.

Under the Alex. Brown name, Garber is helping the firm do its part to reestablish its footing in the city and giving back to a number of causes to underserved citizens. It’s also part of the growth strategy Garber and Aiello plan to  incorporate into their aggressive strategy for the region.

“To be able to do what I do and have the platform to give back is what I have found to be really worthwhile in all this,” Garber said. “That’s an important piece of all this. What good is what we do if you can’t give back to the community?”

With his work ethic as strong as ever, Garber has no plans of retiring anytime soon. Once his youngest daughter, a senior at Roland Park Country School, graduates from college, then Garber said he might  entertain that notion.

And who knows? If she’s anything like her older brother, Zack, 28, who went to work for his father recently, she may take up the family business as well.

“If you love what you do and can continue to meet the demands of yourself and your clients, you have to keep going,” Garber said. “It’s a very unique and interesting  element to have my son now working for me.”

jsilberman@midatlanticmedia.com

Muslims Look to Jewish Example in Campaigning for School Days Off

Above: Students at a Muslim  elementary school in Morton Grove, Ill., pray in the school gymnasium. (Students: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Above: Students at a Muslim elementary school in Morton Grove, Ill., pray in the school gymnasium. (Students: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

When Jessica Abdelnabbi-Berrocal wanted her local public schools in Jersey City, N.J., to close for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in September, she looked to her Jewish heritage.

The daughter of a Sephardic Jewish mother and Catholic father, Abdelnabbi-Berrocal never had any trouble celebrating the holidays of both religions as a public school student in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. Her schools were closed for the High Holidays, as well as for Christmas and Easter. She remembers learning about dreidels in class.

But Abdelnabbi-Berrocal, who converted to Islam at 20, has faced the difficulty of sending her own child to public school on holy days. To celebrate Eid, which commemorates Abraham’s binding of his son, her 13-year-old daughter must choose between classroom and mosque.

Two years ago, Abdelnabbi-Berrocal’s petition asking the Jersey City Board of Education to designate Eid as a day off fell flat. But after attending the board’s monthly meetings, organizing 200 Muslim parents to show up at one of the meetings and receiving advice from a supportive local rabbi, she succeeded with a second petition: Jersey City students will be off on Sept. 12, allowing the Muslim kids to celebrate Eid.

“I told them we’re not asking for a lot — it doesn’t happen every year, like Christmas, like Easter,” Abdelnabbi-Berrocal said, referring to the Muslim calendar’s lunar cycle, which leads to holidays falling on different Gregorian dates each year. “We’re living in a multiracial society now. I believe we should be very inclusive.”

Jessica  Abdelnabbi-Berrocal. (courtesy photo)

Jessica Abdelnabbi-Berrocal. (courtesy photo)

Jersey City is the latest in a string of school districts to give students a day off for Eid. Last year, New York City, just across the Hudson River, announced it would close its schools for the festival. Philadelphia and several districts in New Jersey and Maryland will do so for the first time this year. Other U.S. cities with large Muslim populations, such as Dearborn, Mich., have long had days off.

In advocating for Eid, Muslim activists cite the precedent of Jewish Americans, another religious minority, and the days off given for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which this year fall a few weeks after Eid.

In at least a couple of places, the Jewish and Muslim communities have worked together to ensure the schools are closed for the holidays of both faiths. Rabbi Barbara Hachen of Temple Beth El in Jersey City helped Abdelnabbi-Barrocal by advising her on strategy and writing a letter to a Board of Education member.

“We view it as a natural result of the growth and maturity of the American Muslim community,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “The community has reached a status where it has a large number of school-age children. It’s only natural that Muslim students receive similar religious accommodation to other students in the school system.”

But some Jewish officials, including Hachen, caution that schools should not take off for one religious holiday just because they already close for another. In order to square with the First Amendment, public schools can shut down on religious holidays only if otherwise a large proportion of students or teachers would be absent. A school where only a few Jewish students  per class would be absent, for example, should not close on Yom Kippur.

“From a constitutional perspective, a school should not be closing for any religious holiday, be it Jewish, Muslim or Christian,” said David Barkey, the national religious freedom counsel for the Anti-Defamation League. “What I’m seeing more and more is that people are viewing whether a school closes or doesn’t close as an affront to their religion, and that shouldn’t be the issue.”

One community occasionally takes umbrage when another appears to receive what they deem as preferential treatment. When the Jersey City school board discussed closing for Eid last year, some Jewish parents complained that their kids weren’t getting off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. For various reasons, the board decided not to close schools that year.

Policies on school closings vary by district and are decided by school boards, and schools are prohibited from surveying their students’ religions. So there is no exhaustive list of which public schools close for which holidays, nor is there universal criteria or an established threshold for the percentage of students needed to close a school on any one holiday.

In Jersey City, by Abdelnabbi-Berrocal’s estimation, 4 percent of the population is Muslim. A similar percentage of the New York City metropolitan area is Muslim, according to the Journey Data Center. In Baltimore County, where 10 percent of the population is Muslim, students will have off on Eid this year because it falls on a professional development day.

But small populations have not stopped some communities from campaigning for days off. In Howard County, when the Board of Education considered having school on the High Holidays, the Jewish, Muslim, Chinese and Hindu communities banded together to successfully demand the school close for all their major holidays. In the 2016-17 school year, students will be off for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid, the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Hindu festival of Diwali.

“If you’re a Jewish kid and your school is closed on Good Friday and not Rosh Hashanah, you don’t care about the explanation,” said Michael Meyerson, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who supported the Howard County campaign. “All you know is your religion doesn’t count.”

Two years ago, before Jersey City gave a day off for Eid, Abdelnabbi-Barrocal persuaded her daughter, a good student, to miss an exam to celebrate the holiday. The teacher gave her a zero on the test; the family fought to reverse the grade.

“I remember growing up being Catholic and Jewish, and from a background knowing we celebrated different types of holidays,” Abdelnabbi-Berrocal said. “When I decided to convert at a very young age, I never saw having the same equality as the Jewish religion, as the Catholics or Christians.”

In Jersey City and elsewhere, that’s beginning to change.

Rezoning Means Homes Coming To Woodholme

Maps created using Baltimore County’s My Neighborhood interactive map highlight areas in which zoning changes could lead to new development. (Zoning maps: baltimorecountymd.gov)

Maps created using Baltimore County’s My Neighborhood interactive map highlight areas in which zoning changes could lead to new development. (Zoning maps: baltimorecountymd.gov)

The Baltimore County Council on Aug. 30 approved a rezoning request that will pave the way for homes to be built on a piece of vacant land near the Woodholme Country Club.

On another contentious zoning issue, the matter of the Hidden Waters property in Pikesville, the council blocked a developer’s request to up-zone the land for high-density housing.

The decisions were part of the council’s Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) that occurs every four years and allows property owners, businesses and community  organizations to petition the seven-member council to  request zoning changes on specific properties.

Council chair Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat who represents District 2, said she hopes her constituents understand she did what she felt was best for the community as a whole.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the outcomes, and I believe in all of my decisions,” Almond said. “Those decisions were made with thoughtful care, and I made them with the thought of my community, my district and Baltimore County in mind. They’re tough decisions, no doubt.”

The council voted 7-0 to  approve the rezoning of a 40.94-acre parcel along Mount Wilson Lane and Iron Horse Lane that serves as the final piece of the puzzle for Woodholme to build 153 townhomes. Under the original proposal, Woodholme had sought to build 225 townhomes on the plot, reducing the number of units in the approved legislation by about 35 percent.

Still, Woodholme spokesman David Nevins, CEO of Towson-based public relations firm Nevins & Associates, said Woodholme officials were thrilled a compromise was reached that benefits all sides.

“We’re thrilled with the outcome,” said Nevins, a Woodholme member. “We think that it was a win for all parties. All we want is to do right by what’s best for the community and what’s best for the club, and I think this decision accomplishes just that.”

Now that the council has authorized the rezoning, Nevins said Woodholme is in the process of marketing the property to a developer who will respect both the club’s and community’s interest.

He added that there is currently no timetable for when Woodholme plans to hire a developer and break ground on the land.

The council passed the  rezoning after Woodholme and neighboring communities formed a covenant on a number of key issues.

At first, some of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods opposed because they felt the area — specifically Mount Wilson Lane — wasn’t equipped to handle large-scale construction. Less than a week before the vote, Almond and representatives from Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Woodholme Reserve, Pikesville Farms, North Oaks and Cobblestone sat down to hammer out their differences.

As part of the agreement, there are a number of restrictions and requirements Woodholme must follow. For one, the minimum width of the townhomes must be 22 feet, exceeding the Baltimore County mandate of 20 feet. In addition, the agreement requires the use of masonry and other quality materials for the townhouses, open space on the  corner of Mount Wilson and  Division Lane, notation of a  historic burial ground off Division Lane and a substantial  contribution to the Woodholme Elementary School PTA.

Critics of the rezoning said they wanted to see more  environmental protections for wildlife and open-space requirements for developments in the surrounding areas.

Sid Bravmann, a resident at the Villages of Woodholme, a community for residents 55 years and older, said those were two of the biggest reasons he was disappointed with the council’s decision.

“I just don’t think this is what’s best for the area at this time right now,” Bravmann said. “How is all the additional incoming traffic into Mount Wilson Lane when there isn’t enough road space to accommodate all the traffic that there is right now? What about all the animals in the area that are going to be forced from that land now?”

In another case that stirred community debate, the council denied an application from the Bozzuto Group, a Greenbelt, Md.-based real estate and development firm, to up-zone at Hidden Waters. The Bozzuto Group requested the DR 3.5 zoning, which would allow three-and-a-half homes per acre, and hoped to build 50 units on 25 unprotected acres of land, but the council ultimately decided that was not ideal for the area and went with its own recommendation of keeping the current zoning DR 1, which allows one home per acre to be built.

Neighbors of the property on Old Court Road were pushing for it to be downzoned to RC 8, which is intended to encourage agricultural use and allows single-family dwellings, farms and limited-acre wholesale flower farms, among other amenities.

Micha Carton, vice president of the Old Court-Greenspring Improvement Association, said she was satisfied with the decision the council came to after meeting with Almond repeatedly in the last few months.

“We are grateful that zoning has remained at DR 1 on the Hidden Waters property,” Carton said. “We would have preferred downzoning to RC 8, obviously, but at least we are not anticipating intense development on this property at this time.”

While Almond met with Bozzuto Group officials toward the end of the zoning process, she said she had already decided to go with her own recommendation of DR 1, which allows one home per acre to be built. She doesn’t know if the Bozzuto Group plans to regroup and come up with another plan to build on the land.

Bozzuto officials did not  respond to requests seeking comment.

“It was a brutal process,” Almond said of CZMP. “I visited every single site, because I am a visual person and I need to be there to see everything. It takes a lot out of you, and I think maybe for me, it’s a little harder to get over and move on because I take it so seriously. I know that I have affected  people’s lives.”

jsilberman@midatlanticmedia.com

Classroom Conundrum County schools wrestle with air conditioning, calendar

(©iStockphoto.com/subjob)

(©iStockphoto.com/subjob)

The new school year brings new teachers, old friends and for some kids and parents a countdown to the next summer break.

But for Baltimore County students and parents, a number of lingering issues resurfaced right at the  outset of the 2016-17 school year.

High-heat weekdays forced county schools without air conditioning to close twice in the first week of class, and the school calendar has been a hot topic as Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced an executive order for Maryland schools to open after Labor Day beginning next year. Baltimore County Public Schools also discussed the subject of Muslim holidays, ultimately deciding to remain open on holy days Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.

During two of the first five school days alone in Baltimore County, sweltering temperatures exceeding well over 90 degrees forced 37 of 173 schools to close.

The Baltimore County Board of Education, whose Towson offices are pictured, must adjust its calendar to comply with an executive order from Gov. Hogan.

The Baltimore County Board of Education, whose Towson offices are pictured, must adjust its calendar to comply with an executive order from Gov. Hogan.

“I am glad that they closed schools, because it is absolutely ridiculously hot,” said Lori Wheat, a local substitute teacher and the parent of an elementary schooler who attends one of the 37 schools. “I know what it’s like from working in the classrooms. Of course, it is not fair that they close these schools but leave the rest of the county open. But as a parent, I am happy that my child is home and safe.”

While he didn’t draw a connection between the two issues, Hogan issued an executive order to push back the start of the school year to after Labor Day starting in 2017, citing the best interests of the state.

“Starting Maryland public schools after Labor Day is not just a family issue — it’s an economic and public safety issue that draws clear, strong, bipartisan support among an overwhelming majority of Marylanders,” Hogan said. “Comptroller [Peter] Franchot and I believe, and the people of Maryland strongly agree, that this executive order puts the best interests of Marylanders first, especially the well-being of our students. This action is long overdue, and it is simply the right thing to do.”

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat, said he specifically took issue with how Hogan proceeded to institute the edict without seeking advice from any outside counsel.

I think a lot needs to be discussed about what they are planning. I have an issue with it, because they might take away from our breaks if we have too many snow days, too. Spring and winter breaks are the only time that teachers can take a vacation during the school year, and if that is going to be taken away as a result, that’s a big issue.” — A Baltimore County teacher who wished to remain anonymous

 

This is not the first time Kamenetz has squared off with state officials on school issues. In the fall of 2015, a contentious debate played out between Kamenetz and Franchot, with the comptroller pushing for window air conditioning units in county schools. The county executive refused, citing expense and electrical infrastructure concerns. Shortly after the debate played out, Kamenetz announced a plan to accelerate school renovations.schoolcover_2

“I think this is a worthy discussion, but it should involve our education experts and the General Assembly,” Kamenetz said in a statement. “There seems to be a troubling pattern where Gov. Hogan takes a ‘my-way-or-the-highway approach’ with a lot of issues.”

Mychael Dickerson, chief communications officers of Baltimore County Public Schools, said his district would comply with the executive order and adjust if  the Hogan administration calls for any additional changes.

Calendars are submitted for approval in late October or early November, but the need to resolve scheduling conflicts is paramount. Because the executive order signed by Hogan stipulates that public schools must start after Labor Day and complete 180 days by June 15, it leaves school systems with less control over their own schedules.

“The new mandated start and end dates require us to go back to our Stakeholder Calendar Committee and the [Baltimore County] Board of Education to consider all options to identify ways to meet the  required instructional time and days  for school systems,” Dickerson said in  an email.

schoolcover_3A teacher employed at a county school without air conditioning who wished to remain anonymous said that the calendar change brings up the issue of spring and winter breaks.

“I think a lot needs to be discussed about what they are planning,” the teacher said. “I have an issue with it, because they might take away from our breaks if we have too many snow days, too. Spring and winter breaks are the only time that teachers can take a vacation during the school year, and if that is going to be taken away as a result, that’s a big issue.”

Shortening the length of vacations is not the issue that may cause planning  issues. To accommodate the new schedule, the school system might have to eliminate time for some religious holidays, Dickerson said.

In recent years, parents of Muslim students have lobbied school board members for closures to allow their children to recognize major Islamic holidays without falling behind on their studies.

A move to close schools in Baltimore County for Muslim holidays was voted down in a 6-5 decision last month. This year, though, Eid-al-Adha falls on Sept. 12, a day students are scheduled to have off for a teachers’ training day.

Casey Parson, Pikesville High School Parent Teacher Student Association president, wonders how Baltimore County will draw the line with what religious faiths’ holidays get time off in the school calendar. She thinks that since Jews and Christians get off for their holiest days, giving that same consideration to Muslims would accommodate a majority of the school population.

“There’s ways to accommodate the school schedule to recognize that,” Parson said. “We’re a very tiny portion of the world, yet the school system recognizes the Jewish faith.”

Still, moving the calendar may save the school system from closing on those hot August days and may be what’s best for their children’s well-being in the long run.

Jeff Jerome, chair of the Pikesville Schools Coalition, remembers his son’s first day of school at Pikesville High School, when Jeff first realized a lack of air conditioning was a serious problem.

“I picked him up at the end of the day and one of his papers was all smeared and I asked him what happened,” Jerome said. “It was all sweat.” Jerome’s son is now a junior in college.

While Pikesville High just underwent a $45 million facelift — which included air conditioning — Jerome still feels for those without air conditioning.

“We’re asking kids to concentrate, we’re asking kids to pay attention six to eight hours a day in a non-air-conditioned school,” he said. “That’s almost impossible.”

Jerome thinks the group of parents that lobbied for Pikesville High’s renovations may have helped the county speed up school construction by providing actual measurements of temperatures, some of which were provided by Jerome’s son when he was a student.

“I think they started to seriously approach the problem. Up until then it was anecdotal,” he said. “After they had already committed to renovate Pikesville, that helped bring the whole issue for all the schools to the forefront.”

But for those schools that aren’t as fortunate, some teachers will just have to deal with the heat until the cooler months hit.

“I know a few teachers have even taken pictures of the thermometers in their classrooms as proof,” the anonymous teacher said. “I sweat nonstop. I’ve gone through three water bottles today and still have a headache from being dehydrated. The cafeteria is sweltering. We can get through it — it is just hot and packed.”

In May, Kamenetz and Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance pledged $83 million in the county schools budget to accelerate school construction and renovation projects. The additions are part of a 10-year, $1.3 billion program called “Schools for Our Future,” which also includes renovations and construction projects to relieve overcrowding.

“Even if the state allowed it, which it does not, it would be fiscally irresponsible for the county to spend millions of dollars to put portable units in those schools for such a short period of time,” Kamenetz said in a statement. “Taxpayers would be outraged at such a shortsighted expenditure. And let’s not forget, that the county puts up [$2] for every dollar that the state spends on school construction.”

The county, however, remains in a committed process to install cooling systems in all its schools.

While significant progress has been made, county and state officials have debated over funding, scheduling and whether to use portable air conditioners as a stopgap measure at the schools still awaiting relief.

District 2 Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, is not in support of pushing back the start date to the school year because she said hot temperatures still persist well into September.

But Almond is satisfied with the fact that students will be able to learn in a more comfortable environment once air-conditioning units are put in at all the schools.

“I worry about the kids, because in this day in age, they are so used to living in air conditioning,” Almond said. “I think I’m looking at this from an older person’s point of you view, like, ‘Hey, I lived through it.’ I know that’s not the right way to look at it, so I am thrilled that [Kamenetz] has a plan. It’s not like we’re not doing anything about it, but I don’t see how we can go any faster.”

In Almond’s district alone — which covers parts Pikesville, Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Lutherville-Timonium and Ruxton — students at Bedford and Reisterstown elementary schools, parts of Franklin Middle School and parts of Franklin High School are all without air conditioning.

Under the plan, all but 13 schools are slated to have central air-conditioning systems by next fall. In addition, every school but three, Bedford, Colgate and Berkshire elementary schools, which are all being replaced, will have air conditioning by 2020.

“I understand how hot it is,” said Richard Train, the father of an 11th-grade student. “But the issue shouldn’t have gotten to this point. The heat index for outside does not reflect the heat and lack of airflow inside of these old schools.”

jsilberman@midatlanticmedia.com

dnozick@midatlanticmedia.com

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

Trump, Clinton Talk Tough on Iran Following Controversial Report

Hundreds of demonstrators in Los Angeles protest the Iran nuclear deal in July 2015. (Peter Duke)

Hundreds of demonstrators in Los Angeles protest the Iran nuclear deal in July 2015. (Peter Duke)

WASHINGTON — The Trump and Clinton campaigns issued tough-on-Iran statements in the wake of a report alleging that negotiators allowed Iran secret loopholes in the nuclear agreement.

The Institute for Science and International Affairs, a think tank founded by a former United Nations nuclear weapons inspector, David Albright, said in a report released this week that Iran complied with most of the sanctions relief for the nuclear rollback deal when it was implemented in January.

However, the report also said there were a number of exemptions, citing anonymous sources.

The Obama administration strongly denied the thrust of the report, saying the deal was being implemented according to the letter. Parties to the deal were Iran, the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia.

The campaign of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, pounced on Sept. 1, taking a shot at his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s first term helped set the stage for the deal.

“The deeply flawed nuclear deal Hillary Clinton secretly spearheaded with Iran looks worse and worse by the day,” said a statement by the campaign attributed to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who is now advising Trump.

“It’s now clear President Obama gave away the store to secure a weak agreement that is full of loopholes, never ultimately blocks Iran from nuclear weapons, emboldens our enemies and funds terrorism,” he said.

Republicans have strongly opposed the deal. A number of candidates during the GOP presidential primaries pledged to trash it, but Trump, while decrying it as a giveaway, has said he would first consult with his national security advisers should he be elected president.

Clinton, in subtle ways, has sought to differentiate herself from the deal’s outcome, praising the agreement while suggesting she would be more vigilant in keeping Iran on track.

The Clinton campaign did not address the report co-written by Albright directly but called for reauthorization of sanctions and sounded a tough note about how she would oversee its implementation.

“Hillary Clinton supports a clean reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act and believes Congress should get this done in short order when they return from recess,” said her spokesman, Jesse Lehrich. “And as president, she will also continue to enforce, and strengthen as necessary, sanctions on Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missile activity.”

The Obama administration says it does not need a reauthorization of sanctions first passed in the 1990s and enhanced over the years to force compliance but would not oppose a reauthorization. Many of the sanctions — but not all — have been waived as part of the deal.

Democrats in Congress favor a “clean” reauthorization that they say would allow any future president to quickly “snap back” sanctions, while Republicans want to add new provisions to address Iranian misbehavior not addressed by the deal, including backing for terrorism and activities in other countries.

Democrats and Clinton oppose the Republican proposals, saying they are stealth maneuvers to undercut the deal.

“She has always made clear that while the historic deal passed last year represents a crucial step forward toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we must proceed with a ‘distrust and verify’ approach,” Lehrich said of Clinton. “Maintaining the infrastructure to immediately snap back sanctions if Iran  violates the terms of the deal is essential. Congress should put partisanship aside and send the president a clean ISA reauthorization bill for his signature.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said it was “troubled” by Albright’s report.

“If the report is accurate, this unwarranted leniency sets a dangerous precedent concerning adherence to the agreement,” the pro-Israel lobby said in a statement. “No further concessions should be granted to Iran, and complete transparency related to the deal’s implementation must be provided.”

Software Helps Monitor Older Individuals

It was Mary Shofer’s bad fall that spurred her grandson, Paul Merenbloom, to take action. (Provided)

It was Mary Shofer’s bad fall that spurred her grandson, Paul Merenbloom, to take action. (Provided)

Mary Shofer vowed to  regain her independence no matter what hurdles she faced along the way.

A bad fall in the foyer of her second-floor Pickwick East apartment at the age of 95 left her stranded on the floor for more than two hours with a broken femur, fractured hip and dislocated ribs.

Her grandson, Paul Merenbloom, recalls Shofer telling him at the hospital that she would “kill him” if he or his mother put her in a nursing home.

“The question came up: ‘Not what if it was going to happen again, but when?’ At that stage in life, you’re not getting any stronger,” Merenbloom said. “And yet that need for independence is very, very substantial.”

In response, Merenbloom, 52, embarked on an effort more than 11 years ago to find a way for seniors to maintain their independence while  offering family members some of peace of mind.

This past June, about a year after Shofer’s passing at age 107, Merenbloom’s company, Concordia Systems, introduced SentinelCare, a software program that uses motion  detector records from home security systems to identify and measure seniors’ movement. Through the program’s application on smartphones and tablets, as many as five family members and five caregivers can automatically stay up to date on their loved ones” health at any given time.

“This system makes it easier for many concerned family members like myself sleep easier at night,” Merenbloom said. “It’s really like someone being right there in the room and knowing everything that’s going on  without actually being present.”

SentinelCare, which ranges from $30 to $65 per month depending on the package, tracks people’s behavior patterns — including bathroom use, sleeping, kitchen activity and medication administration — and sends alerts when something appears awry. Then, family members and caregivers are left with the choice to respond quickly to potential emergencies or call for help if further assistance is needed.

The necessity of a security system that monitors seniors is something that was instrumental for Toni Ngangana, one of Shofer’s home health care aids during the final two years of her life.

“If there are seniors who can’t care for themselves 24 hours a day, this type of technology  is sometimes the difference  between life and death,” said Ngangana, who now works at Howard County General Hospital. “It makes a home health care aid’s job that much easier to be aware of what’s going on at all time, so that these people can look after themselves without looking over their shoulders.”

On many occasions, the system helped Ngangana catch unusual activity that deviated from Shofer’s normal routine. In one such instance, Ngangana successfully identified a urinary tract infection Shofer had developed, spotting her  recurring trips to the bathroom.

But without the partnership of local security companies like Vintage Security, ADT  Security Services and Guardian Security System, none of that would have been possible.

Vintage Security, a Jessup-based division of Protection 1 Security Solutions, has teamed with SentinelCare from its  inception to bring the technology into people’s homes.

Robert McDonald, general manager for Vintage Security, found SentinelCare especially appealing because he felt there was an untapped market he could provide for his growing client base.

“The day-to-day tracking of what’s going on in and around homes has advanced to where it’s more real-time monitoring,” said McDonald, who’s responsible for more than 19,000  customers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. “This is where we’re headed  in terms of security now — becoming more of a lifestyle attribute in people’s lives.”

While Merenbloom admits he never saw himself working in the elder care market, he wants to use his new platform for more than just business by giving back to the people he assists.

He said it’s simply what his late grandmother would have wanted.

So for each new subscriber SentinelCare receives, Merenbloom has pledged to set aside a portion of his proceeds to benefit senior citizen charities. His hope one day is that he can supply Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland with more than 100,000 meals every year.

“Yes, we are a business, but we are first and foremost about the community,” Merenbloom said. “If that takes down profitability, I don’t care, because giving back to the community is what it’s all about. These are people living beyond any time period they thought they would.”

jsilberman@midatlanticmedia.com

Netanyahu’s Friendship with Putin

Russia’s proximity to the Middle East and the presence in Israel of a million-plus Jews from the former Soviet Union,

including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, make the growing warm relations between Jerusalem and Moscow a welcome occurrence for many citizens of the Jewish state.

One of those citizens is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — that is, as long as he ignores the fact that Russia is the chief backer of Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are an existential threat, and supports the neighboring regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While Israel is officially neutral in the Syrian civil war, Russia’s air presence there threatens a potential,

if accidental, clash with Israeli forces.

Close ties with Israel are also good for Putin, who is trying to expand Russia’s

influence in the Middle East, particularly in light of what is widely seen as America’s withdrawal as the indispensable nation in the region. So when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced last week that Russia was willing to host Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for peace talks, it was rightly seen as Russia’s attempt to become a player in peace as well as in war.

Beyond that, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Netanyahu has met with Putin four times in the last year, while he has met with President Barack Obama only once. And we are also informed that while

Netanyahu speaks on the phone regularly with the Russian president, he mostly gets to talk with Secretary of State John Kerry when he phones the U.S. administration.

But let’s be real. As uncomfortable as it may sometimes be, it is the United States, through its military umbrella, superpower status and deep pockets that has

repeatedly given Israel what it needs to defend its existence. The two countries are reportedly wrapping up a 10-year military memorandum of understanding that will guarantee Israel some $3.7 billion a year in aid. Netanyahu is waffling and may have made the calculation that the next president, whomever he or she is, will be more amenable to a better deal for Israel than Obama. Such a move would be dangerous. Netanyahu should sign the MOU now and move on.

There are, of course, advantages in dealing with Putin. For example, Netanyahu can

expect no lectures from the Russian leader about the Palestinians or a two-state solution. Similarly he won’t be

reprimanded about human rights from the Chinese, with whom Israel is developing a burgeoning economic relationship. Rather, it is Israel’s democratic allies, the United States and the European Union, where such critiques come from. But

Israel should not forsake the mess of dealing with the West in favor of warming up to a strongman with questionable alliances.

The enemy of my enemy can be my friend, but the friend of my enemy should always be treated with suspicion.

Jacobs to Lead HCPF

Kyri Jacobs (Provided)

Kyri Jacobs (Provided)

Kyri Jacobs, president of Bonnie Heneson Communications (BHC), was named president of the Howard County Police Foundation board of directors. The Howard County Police Foundation works with the police department and community to fund projects not possible under the county budget.

Jacobs has spent nearly 25 years as a communications, public relations, advertising, media and marketing professional, leading major campaigns for some of BHC’s largest clients. As an agency principal, she is integral in the company and has managed agency operations for 15 years. She continues to play a hands-on role for clients, serving as a strategic counselor and advising BHC senior managers on development and implementation of communications, advertising and marketing plans.

She is past chair of the boards for Leadership Howard County and HC DrugFree. In addition, Jacobs is a member and past president of the Maryland Society of Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. Among her honors,  Jacobs joined The Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence, a  distinction earned by being named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women three times.

Tempest in a Swimsuit

Jewish publications are not known for their swimsuit issues, let alone swimsuit editorials. But the tussle over the burkini in France is fit for commentary because it exposes yet another misfire aimed at Muslim immigrants, with the anti-burkini-istas essentially arguing that modesty is a threat to Western values.

Last Friday, the French Council of State overturned a temporary burkini ban in a ruling that is expected to become a precedent for the 30 towns that have drawn a line in the sand against the modest beachwear. The bans were passed as part of an anti-terror effort, with supporters arguing that the bans help uphold France’s strict secular traditions.

Opponents, though, say the burkini ban is an Islamophobic reaction to recent terror attacks carried out by Muslims in France. And human rights groups argue that in addition to stigmatizing Muslims, the ban infringes on women’s civic rights.

In any other year, we would point to the situation as another example of the failure of Europeans in general and the French in particular to integrate their Muslim

immigrant populations into the mainstream. In any other year, we would be comforted by the religious freedom

enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and America’s overall welcome of immigrants, including many of our families. We would be so confident that we wouldn’t need to say, “It couldn’t happen here.”

But this year is different. Goaded by the unique politics of Election 2016, the meteoric mainstreaming of the so-called alt-right has given cover for those who might call for banning the burkini on American beaches. And there are certainly those on the American fringe who consider the French burkini war as a good thing.

For a swimsuit that is supposed to cover up, burkini-bashers are seeing a lot in the garment. Moshe Sebbag, rabbi of the Grand Synagogue of Paris, for instance, said he supported the ban “because you see that going with [a burkini] is not innocent, it’s sending a message.” Really? We respectfully suggest that France and Rabbi Sebbag spend their time working to ensure that Jews can wear a kippah in public without fear, rather than forcing Muslim women to disrobe.

Then there is the question of modesty, over which religious Muslims can claim no monopoly. In Israel, as well as on American beaches, many observant Jewish women wear dress-like swimsuits. And in France as well, Catholic nuns are known to wear their habits while swimming in public places.

It’s awfully difficult to see this whole burkini fiasco as anything other than men — well meaning, perhaps, but wholly

antiquated in their thinking — unfairly attacking what a woman chooses to wear. We’ve seen this before, and the effort just doesn’t work.

Everyman Adds 3 to Board

Everyman Theatre has announced the appointment of three new members to its board of directors. Jean W. Brune, Leonard Sherman and Kelly Keenan Trumpbour officially began their tenures in July. These additions to the board ensure Everyman will continue to benefit from a  diversity of experience and voices.

“As the Founder of Everyman Theatre, I am excited and honored at the level of expertise and support for governing that these three leaders in the Baltimore community have to offer,” said founding artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi. ”The future of Everyman is in very good hands.”

Brune was the head of school at Roland Park Country School for the past 24 years and retired this past May. She was named one of The Daily Record’s Top 100 Maryland Women in both 2012 and 2016. She serves on Baltimore Education Scholarship Trust as a trustee emerita and is the president of the Association of Maryland and D.C. Schools Board.

Sherman is the COO and CFO of Evergreen Health  Cooperative in Baltimore and has served formerly as CFO with the Kentucky Health Cooperative, a health insurance nonprofit based in Louisville. Sherman serves on the boards of the Maryland Association of Health Underwriters and a healthcare technology company.

Trumpbour is a founding venture partner of NextGen and a board member of the Baltimore Angels. She is also the founder of See Jane Invest, where she invests in startups founded or co-founded by women. Trumpbour also serves as an advisory board member to Venture for America, Betamore and Baltimore’s Social Impact Hub.