September 26, 2011

State Roundup, September 26, 2011

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: In anticipation of the 2012 legislative session, Jessica Talson of the Cumberland Times-News writes that proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage legislation have begun organizing to be ready for what will likely be a contentious battle in Annapolis.

HEALTHY FAMILIES PROGRAM: State Healthy Families’ home visiting model gets kudos during hearing of the Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families, Glynis Kazanjian writes for MarylandReporter.com.

CURRIE TRIAL BEGINS: As state Sen. Ulysses Currie faces trial this week on federal corruption charges, his lawyer is expected to argue before a jury that the legislator’s work on behalf of a grocery chain in Annapolis didn’t constitute an illegal bribe but merely an ethical lapse, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

On Friday, Linskey blogged for the Sun, that an attorney for Sen. Currie said in federal court that the senator was diagnosed with “a very aggressive form” of prostate cancer and was being treated for it when FBI agents interviewed him in 2008. John Wagner in the Post describes the medical defense.

DEADBEAT CRACKDOWN: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that the state Department of Human Resources needs to fulfill its pledge to come down harder on deadbeat parents who fail to pay child support.

BIDS FOR TOUGH-SELL CASINOS: Maryland received bids Friday to operate casinos at the two locations — in downtown Baltimore and western Maryland — that had proved tough sells since the state launched its slot-machine gambling program nearly three years ago, John Wagner reports for the Post.

Nick Sohr of the Daily Record reports that one bidding group is headlined by gaming giant Caesars Entertainment Corp., which is seeking to build a casino just south of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, three bidders are vying to build a casino at Rocky Gap Resort in Western Maryland, Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. They are the first bidders to make proposals for a casino at that site in the three times the state has offered it up.

Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News reports that they are Texas company Paragon Project Resources Inc.,which filed its bid under the name Evitts Inc.; a real estate company owned by former state Democratic Party Chairman Nathan Landow; and Allegany Entertainment, apparently a subsidiary of a St. Louis company.

Three years after the voters authorized an expansion of state-sponsored gambling, writes the editorial board for the Sun, Maryland finally got what the system was designed to produce: a competition between developers over who would provide the best deal for taxpayers in exchange for a precious video lottery terminal license.

CORDISH INTERVIEW: Developer David Cordish, who is building a slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall, is interviewed by Sam Sessa for the Baltimore Sun Magazine.

BAY POLLUTION DIET: Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation writes for Center Maryland that it is disappointing that some in Frederick County government who are condemning a plan to put the Chesapeake Bay region under a “pollution diet.”

O’MALLEY TOUTS OBAMA: Gov. O’Malley appeared on Friday’s “Morning Joe” program and talked up President Obama’s jobs bill and defended some of the president’s other priorities — as well as the new Maryland Terrapins football uniforms, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

TAKING VICTORY TO CONGRESS: Marylanders who are fighting the railroad company that transported them or their family to concentration camps during World War II are now hopeful they can leverage a legislative victory in the Maryland General Assembly this year into momentum for a stalled bill in Congress that would open the company to reparation lawsuits, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

NEW LIFE AS PROSECUTOR: The Post’s Ruben Castenada writes that former U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil, defeated in the last election by Andy Harris, is now an assistant deputy to Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

HARRIS, MIKULSKI UNITED: Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris and Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski may be at odds on many political issues, but new regulations seafood industry leaders say could shut down local businesses have the two showing a united front, Daniel Divilio reports for the Cecil Whig.

CARDIN ROOFS PLAN PRAISED: Given the national crisis of unemployment, the Frederick News Post’s editorial board is welcoming U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s announcement of bipartisan legislation to spur job creation, as narrowly tailored as it is targeting roofs, specifically those on commercial buildings.

DELEGATE CHARGED: Aaron Davis of the Post reports that a young Prince George’s politician who seemed to embody Maryland’s crisis of conscience over approving same-sex marriage was charged Friday with stealing campaign funds, in part to pay for her wedding.

GRAZIANO MUST GO: The Sun opinionators write that the Baltimore city Housing Authority’s strategy to spend millions on outside lawyers to avoid liability for lead paint poisoning its tenants suffered, then to refuse to pay judgments in the cases it loses, is an utter disgrace. And the fact that Paul Graziano has headed the department for 11 years and has refused to do anything positive to address the situation means that he needs to go.

SNEED CONCEDES: Shannon Sneed, the television producer who finished just 43 votes short of unseating Baltimore city Councilman Warren Branch, conceded the election on her Facebook page on Thursday, blogs Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

KENT ISLAND SEWAGE: Queen’s Anne County officials see a potential solution to the problem of Kent Island residents’ septic situation, where sewage can easily leak into the Bay on this low-lying island: Link more of the island to a sewage treatment plan. But that plan threatens to create another problem — increased development — and the issue is dividing island residents, reports the Sun’s Tim Wheeler.

MISSING FILE PROBE CONTINUES: A probe continues by an outside counsel into computer files missing from the office of the Somerset County State’s Attorney, Deborah Giles of the Salisbury Daily Times reports. And county officials have little to nothing to say about the situation since files were discovered missing in early January.

SUN PAY WALL: The Baltimore Sun will begin instituting a pay wall for its on-line editions beginning Oct. 10, Fern Shen reports for the Baltimore Brew.

The Sun will allow users 15-free page views a month on baltimoresun.com. But for unlimited access, users will pay either $2.49 a week or $49.99 for six months, Childs Walker reports for the Sun.

What will this mean for readers of State Roundup? Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com is seeking your feedback.