April 25, 2011

State Roundup, April 25, 2011

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TRIBUTES, REMEMBRANCES OF SCHAEFER CONTINUE

As Baltimore city mayor, William Donald Schaefer battled national tides, write the Sun’s John Fritze and Jill Rosen, as the city, like many others across the country, reeled from racial tensions, a population exodus and the loss of jobs.

Jean Marbella of the Sun writes a nice piece about the pride that Schaefer was able to instill in city residents by making them partners with, instead of just recipients of, government help.

Some readers of the Annapolis Capital and reporters share their memories of the mayor and governor – some of which are poignant, some laugh -out-loud funny.

Congregants at Old St. Paul’s in downtown Baltimore recalled one-time vestryman Schaefer on a glorious Easter Sunday, just three days before the former mayor and governor will return to his old church one last time, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

The Sun’s Liz Kay writes about Schaefer’s watchdog abilities as mayor – always on the lookout for trouble and always pushing to get things done quickly.

The Sun’s Frederick Rasmussen writes about former Schaefer aide Joseph Coale, who researched the former mayor’s ancestry and what he discovered.

Listen to Linda Christensen, executive director of Pride of Baltimore Inc., speak about Schaefer on WBAL-AM.

Pamela Wood of the Annapolis Capital recaps Schaefer’s long public life of service.

EDITORIAL TRIBUTES

Recalling the love-hate relationship Schaefer and the Eastern Shore had, the editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times takes a different view of the late governor.

Calling him the “last of the straightforward, warts and all, politicians,” Tom Marquardt, Annapolis Capital editor and publisher, writes a nice remembrance of Schaefer that includes a personal aside as well as quotes from lobbyist Bruce Bereano and House Speaker Michael Busch.

The former mayor wasn’t perfect, opines the editorial board for the Sun, but the current crop could learn a lot from his legacy.

FUNERAL ACTIVITIES: Here’s a reminder of the week’s funeral activities in the Sun, should you find yourself in the thick of things.

The Daily Record is expecting traffic to be snarled by the procession. It lists the road closings today in downtown Baltimore.

Baltimore City also issued traffic alerts, Rob Roblin reports for WBAL-TV

Michael Dresser of the Sun also warns that the procession could delay light rail and buses.

Jeff Abell of WBFF-TV also explains the funeral plans.

Robert Lang of WBAL radio reports the plans of the Pride of Baltimore II in saluting the late mayor and governor.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCE: On the Sun op-ed page, attorney Mimi Murray Digby Marziani, explains the importance of a new bill, awaiting O’Malley’s signature, that would require independent groups to disclose their identity and their underlying donors – when they spend more than $10,000 to influence candidate elections or ballot initiative elections.

BIG LOBBY FIRMS: Thanks to a 1999 ethics reform law, only big lobbying firms can afford to wine and dine state legislators while small non-profits are priced out of the market, reports Capital News Service’s David Saleh Rauf in MarylandReporter.com

MILLER RETIRING? Jeff Newman of the SoMdNews.com reports that Senate President Mike Miller has said that Gov. Martin O’Malley would be the last chief exec with whom he would serve. But Miller, the longest-serving Senate president in state history, has been unwilling to put a timetable on his political career.

DREAM ACT REPEAL: Opponents of the Maryland Dream Act to provide in-state college tuition to undocumented students circulated petitions Friday aimed at launching a campaign to put a referendum repealing the law on the 2012 ballot, writes Alexandra Rice of Medill News Service in the Frederick News Post. She also spoke with an undocumented student as well as those circulating the petition.

Here’s Alan Brody’s article on the drive for SoMdNews.com.

TRASHING BACK RIVER: State Attorney General Doug Gansler, touring the state’s rivers to hear about pollution problems that impact the Bay, finds tons of trash to be a unique problem at Back River, writes Mary Gail Hare for the Sun.

ELECTRIC CHARGE: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who by his own acknowledgment hasn’t driven much in the past decade or so, arrived at an event Friday behind the wheel of a black Chevy Volt, to draw attention to eight new charging stations, as well as several other measures he is championing to bolster the electric vehicle market, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

WA CO ASSESSMENT: Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail assesses how members of the Washington County delegation fared in the 2011 General Assembly session.

CHANGE AT THE TOP: Following a big push to legalize same-sex marriage that fell just short, Maryland’s leading gay-rights group has dismissed its top staffer, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

CASINO JOBS: The company responsible for hiring at the Maryland Live! casino isn’t accepting job applications yet, but prospective employees can submit information to be considered when hiring begins, Tim Pratt writes for the Annapolis Capital.

PG ETHICS PANEL: The panel appointed by Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker is tackling ethics issues in government as it struggles to shed its “pay to play” image, writes Miranda Spivack in the Post.

That panel, Spivack reports, is urging county officials to create an independent government watchdog, set up a hotline for tips, strengthen the county’s ethics board and augment protections for whistleblowers who find abuses in government.

FINDING ILLEGALS IN WA CO: Fingerprints of people booked into the Washington County Detention Center will be checked automatically against federal immigration law enforcement records under the new system implemented this month by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reports Heather Keels for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

HOWARD GROWTH: Howard County Exec Ken Ulman last week proposed a budget that anticipates growth, not a lot of growth, opines the Sun editorial board. But it’s arguably the most optimistic government budget to be offered by any Maryland county this year.

WICOMICO TAX HIKE? Greg Latshaw, of the Salisbury Daily Times, reports that of the many decisions the Wicomico County Council members must make on next year’s budget proposal, a big question already stands out: Will they support a 5-cent property tax hike?

ARUNDEL BUDGET: Listen to County Exec John Leopold speak with Dan Rodricks on Mid-day Live about his proposed Anne Arundel county budget.

MO CO TAKE-HOME VEHICLES: The Washington Examiner’s Brian Hughes reports that Montgomery County’s stock of take-home vehicles has risen by more than 41% in the last three years despite massive funding shortfalls, causing some officials to question the oversight of cars costing taxpayers as much as $48,000 each.

FREDERICK CHARTER: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post writes that it is long since time to bring charter government to Frederick County. But the public outreach campaign planned by the charter-writing committee will find itself in an uphill battle to get the public engaged.

FIRST WE PRAY: The Frederick County Commissioners will hear from their attorney next month about whether they can begin their meetings with a prayer, Meg Tully of the Frederick News-Post reports.

NEWS-POST SEEKS PUBLISHER: The Frederick News-Post is considering hiring a publisher from outside its family of owners for the first time in the newspaper’s 127 years, the Gazette’s Chris Huntemann and Steve Monroe report.

JAIL SUIT: A Frederick woman is seeking $10 million in damages from Frederick County after her daughter’s jailhouse suicide. The claim states she should have been on suicide watch because she had bipolar disorder, depression and substance-abuse problems, according to an AP report in the Sun.