September 21, 2011

State Roundup, September 21, 2011

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MDCD MOVE A COUP: New Carrollton scored a revitalization coup when the state announced it will move the Department of Housing and Community Development’s headquarters from Crownsville to a planned 700,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the New Carrollton Metrorail station, reports Lindsey Robbins for the Gazette.

MDCD MOVE A LOSS: Many in Anne Arundel County are opposing the plan to move the 300-plus-employee MDCD from a state-owned building in Crownsville to rented offices in New Carrollton, including County Exec John Leopold and the union that represents many who work in the department, Earl Kelly reports for the Annapolis Capital.

GUILTY PLEA: A Hagerstown man pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of making a false statement by certifying that precast concrete his company manufactured for two high-profile State Highway Administration projects met government standards, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

AGENCY IMPROVEMENTS PROMISED: During a hearing on three scathing reports about divisions he oversees, the State Human Resources Secretary told legislators that improving enforcement, collections and information quality are priorities, reports Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

MCDONOUGH ACCUSES O’MALLEY: State Del. Pat McDonough accused Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday of resorting to “divisive, unfair and inaccurate hate speech” during an appearance in Washington last week, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

GANSLER FUNDER DRAWS BIG NAMES: Attorney General Doug Gansler expects to raise upwards of $750,000 at a single fundraiser tomorrow in Bethesda, where Friends of Doug Gansler will host his 14th annual fundraiser, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com. There should be no shortage of big name donors contributing to the potential 2014 Democratic candidate for governor, according to the hundreds of names on the host committee in the invitation.

JURY POOL IN CURRIE CASE: The Sun’s Annie Linskey blogs that a U.S. District Court judge said that a pool of 75 potential jurors will be called next Monday for the federal corruption case against state Sen. Ulysses Currie, the Prince George’s County lawmaker accused of wielding his power to benefit a grocery chain. Twelve jurors and four alternates will be selected from that group.

EXELON DEAL SWEETNERS URGED: As Constellation Energy Group prepares to sell itself to Chicago-based Exelon, critics are advancing proposals to make the deal more palatable to Maryland customers, including proposing a three-year freeze on rate increases after the merger to ease the transition to out-of-town ownership, Hanah Cho and Liz Kay report for the Sun.

Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that analysts covering Constellation Energy Group Inc. and Exelon Corp. were unfazed by demands from Gov. O’Malley’s administration for more public benefits out of the companies’ proposed merger.

WIND PROJECTS: Wind power developers are considering two new projects in western Maryland, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

HISPANIC CLOUT: Benjamin Ford of the Gazette reports that the growth of Hispanic Heritage Month heralds the population’s growing clout in Maryland.

SCIENCE STANDARDS: America’s public school students continue to lag internationally when it comes to science education, reports Tim Tooten for WBAL-TV. But Maryland is one of 20 states helping to develop a new set of national science lessons.

LEAD POISONING: Lead poisoning, once widespread, appears on the way to becoming a rarity among children living in old rental housing in Baltimore and the rest of Maryland. But the problem is growing among youngsters who live in owner-occupied and newer rental homes, prompting state officials to look for new ways to fight the longtime health scourge, the Sun’s Tim Wheeler writes.

FIRE ASSOCIATION SLAMMED: Slamming the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association for excessive overhead expenses and hoarded cash, state legislators yesterday asked the fire companies to consider ways to streamline the association, leaving more funds for operations, Heather Keels reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. The suggestion came during a meeting to discuss the distribution of county gaming revenue to volunteer fire and rescue companies.

PAY AS YOU THROW: The Washington County Board of Commissioners yesterday considered a “pay-as-you-throw” trash-disposal service that would encourage more county residents to recycle their trash, David McMillion reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

DAVIS ON TOP: Early support from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and several other county leaders helped Derrick Leon Davis win the Democratic nomination for the vacant District 6 seat on the County Council, once held by Leslie Johnson, writes Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

As expected, turnout was low as voters trickled into polling places yesterday, according to the Post.

PG AGENCY BLASTED: Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports that cronyism, poor leadership and a lack of accountability plague Prince George’s County’s housing agency, according to an outside review of the department’s management and operations.

CHURCH DISPUTE CONTINUES: Members of a church called action taken by the Prince George’s County Council last week inadequate and detrimental to their plans to build a 750-seat church in West Laurel, writes Gwendolyn Glenn of the Laurel Leader.

TAKE-HOME VEHICLES CURBED: Three dozen Montgomery employees no longer will be able to take home their county-owned vehicles following an investigation into a practice some elected officials describe as expensive and unnecessary, Erin Cunningham reports for the Gazette.

BACO DOWNSIZING: Following up an earlier story, Jon Meoli of the Towson Times writes that the Baltimore County Council has introduced a bill that would offer some 1,100 county employees early retirement, with the goal of finding about 200 employees willing to take it.

CITY MAYOR LOBBIES FOR JOBS PLAN: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined mayors from across the country yesterday to lobby Washington in support of the $447 billion jobs plan unveiled this month by the White House – even as the proposal’s future in Congress remains uncertain, John Fritze blogs for the Sun.

CONAWAY SEEKS PROSECUTION: Belinda Conaway, the only incumbent Baltimore City Council member to lose her seat, has asked the U.S. attorney for Maryland to prosecute her challenger, alleging her opponent unlawfully used an IRS logo in campaign literature, reports Mary Gail Hare for the Sun.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV also reports about the dispute.

WORCESTER SURPLUS: Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that Worcester County is on track to end the fiscal year with a budget surplus, though the county’s top official doesn’t want to say exactly by how much.

JEWISH TIMES’ FUTURE: A bankruptcy court judge could decide as early as this week if the Baltimore Jewish Times will remain solely in the hands of its publisher of 92 years or be pressed into a partnership with its former printer, which it blames for much of its financial trouble, reports Andrea Siegel for the Sun.