June 20, 2011

State Roundup, June 20, 2011

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ROBOCALL INDICTMENT FALLOUT: The Ehrlich campaign’s alleged effort to keep blacks from voting last November could have the opposite effect for years to come, according to political observers who said indictments over the automated phone calls would become election-season fodder for Democrats. But, writes Annie Linskey for the Sun, African-American voters say the incident makes them skeptical of all politicians, regardless of party.

Aaron Davis of the Post writes that the Republican ‘doctrine’ on suppressing black vote is key to the case against Ehrlich aide Paul Schurick and political consultant Julius Henson.

But Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney said voters still have “plenty of good reasons” to vote for GOP candidates following the indictments, reports the Post’s John Wagner.

Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that Dick Hug, a top fundraiser for ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich, said hiring campaign consultant Julius Henson was “a terrible mistake” and he and Elaine Pevenstein, executive director of Ehrlich campaign office, argued against the hire.

Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew takes a look at what is dubbed the “cynical attitudes” behind attempts to suppress African-American votes.

STATE JOB CREATION: Jamie Smith Hopkins reports for the Sun that, hampered by a slowdown in federal spending, Maryland came in dead last in the nation for its pace of job creation over the past year, shedding almost 1% of its employment base — nearly 20,000 positions — the U.S. Department of Labor reported.

Janice Park has the story for WBFF-TV.

TAX REVENUE STUDY: Maryland officials are working on a study to find out just how much tax revenue the state is losing to Internet sales and what could be done to recapture the money, according to an AP story in the Carroll County Times.

ASIA TRIP COSTS, BENEFITS: The O’Malley administration spent $144,086 on the 10-day trade mission to Asia, blogs Annie Linskey for the Sun. Costs includes airfare, food, hotels and other expenses for six staffers. And State Police spent an additional $19,868 on security.

O’Malley said the trip, which included stops in China, South Korea and Vietnam, had already yielded $85 million worth of direct foreign investments in Maryland, blogs John Wagner for the Post. The administration’s costs were paid by the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

The editorial board for the Sun says that it is right to question the worth of O’Malley’s trip to Asia, but the benefits already reaped prove it was a successful trip.

FINANCIAL LITERACY: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post heartily endorses state and local efforts to teach students financial literacy.

CYCLE OF LIFE: Gov. Martin O’Malley is kicking off a statewide bicycling initiative to encourage physical fitness and bicycle-based tourism, WBFF-TV reports.

ROCKY GAP IT IS: The Sun’s Jay Hancock takes a sober look at the Rocky Gap Resort in Western Maryland and what its real potential is for making money.

BARVE RUN FOR COMPTROLLER? John Wagner of the Post reports that The latest evidence that Maryland’s 2014 elections are closer than they may appear: House Majority Leader Kumar Barve of Montgomery County let it be known in an interview Friday that he is considering running for state comptroller.

FORMER DEL. KIRK DIES: Ruth Kirk, a former state delegate who served West Baltimore for 28 years, has died, reports the Sun’s Jessica Anderson. Kirk, 81, represented the 44th District from 1983 until this past January, when she lost to Keiffer Mitchell Jr. last fall.

GOPers STOP IN: The Sun’s John Fritze writes that a growing number of Republicans are beginning to make pit stops in the Old Line State as the race for the GOP presidential nomination gets under way. Just a few are Herman Cain, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

IN-STATE TUITION HIKE: The University System of Maryland Board of Regents voted to increase in-state tuition for undergraduates by up to 3% for fiscal year 2012 in a public meeting Friday at Bowie State University, the Daily Record’s Chelsea Feinstein reports.

MAYORS ENJOY ANOTHER CITY LIFE: The nation’s mayors were treated to a first-class version of Baltimore last night — special light-rail cars that breezed past regular riders from downtown to the industrial-chic Clipper Mill complex, where artists opened their studios, bands played and area vineyards, restaurants, farms and seafood companies offered a locavore spread, Jean Marbella reports for the Sun.

PROTESTING MAYORS’ GATHERING: Protesters urging that federal money be spent locally made sure their voices were heard Saturday as hundreds of mayors from around the country converged on Baltimore for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Kim Dacey reports for WBAL-TV.

Today, the mayors are to vote on a resolution urging Congress to quickly end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and spend the money on domestic priorities, according to an AP story on the WJZ-TV website.

GRAND JURY LOOKS AT REPORTING: Tricia Bishop of the Sun writes that, following a decades-old tradition of examining a social issue during its four-month tenure, the city grand jury has asked some members of the regions news media — including WMAR-TV and the Sun – to appear as it analyzes the impact of crime coverage on efforts to end violence.

TAXI MEDALLION CURBS: Taxi officials in Prince George’s County have issued only about two-thirds of the medallions that were promised last year, reports Miranda Spivack of the Post. The remainder may never be issued, if a bill slated for a hearing tomorrow wins approval.

ENLARGE HOWARD COUNCIL? Howard County’s population was 62,000 when the five-member County Council was formed more than four decades ago. Now Courtney Watson’s Ellicott City/Elkridge district alone holds that many people, and she’d like the citizens commission reviewing the county charter to look at whether it’s time that the council grew too, Larry Carson reports for the Sun.

DOUGLASS HONORED: After years of struggle by Easton residents, famed 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass finally is being honored with a statue beside his Maryland hometown courthouse – a place that has long maintained a monument to local men who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, according to an AP story in the Annapolis Capital.