October 10, 2011

State Roundup, October 10, 2011

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DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS: Digital subscriptions of the Sun and the Carroll County Times begin this week. Here’s what you need to know about the Sun. And here’s a link to the Carroll County Times.

AN INCONVENIENT REPUBLICAN: The Sun’s John Fritze writes an interesting article profiling scientist, farmer and unconventional Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, whose 6th District seat now is vulnerable thanks to redistricting.

REDISTRICTING: In an interesting take on the subject, Eric Hartley of the Annapolis Capital tries to drive the worst product of redistricting in Maryland today – the sinewy, stringy and sloppy proposed 3rd Congressional, some parts of which you cannot connect to from other parts without a boat.

Also invoking the name of Elbridge Gerry, as Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com did early last week, Earl Kelly of the Annapolis Capital writes that gerrymandering is at the root of the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.

With the release last Tuesday of the state’s proposed congressional map, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris and members of Maryland’s Eastern Shore General Assembly delegation are happy to see the Shore remain in a single district, Daniel Divilio reports for the Easton Star Democrat.

Jake Yohn of the Frederick News Post writes that farmers fear the proposed redrawing of district lines that split Frederick County will leave them underrepresented by a more urban-minded voice in Congress.

Washington County Republicans are crying foul over a proposed congressional redistricting plan that would radically redraw District 6 — currently represented by Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett — to include much of Democrat-heavy Montgomery County, Heather Keels of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.

Ben Pershing of the Post writes that, in a tale of strange bedfellows, critics on the right and the left are teaming up to fire barbs and legal threats at the new Maryland congressional redistricting map backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

FAST AGENDA: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com outlines the General Assembly’s agenda for the two to three day special session that begins next week. Redistricting is at the top of the list, but other items could come up.

Gov. O’Malley may introduce a jobs stimulus measure during the special session, blogs Annie Linskey for the Sun.

PICKING THE VOTER: The Sun editorial board opines that during redistricting, politicians attempt to pick their voters, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. And unless voters revolt, this will continue to occur.

A CAPITOL IDEA: Shifted congressional boundaries in a drafted map might have a lawmaker from Frederick County turning his gaze toward Capitol Hill, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News Post. State Sen. David Brinkley said Friday that it’s too early to decide whether he’d want to run against U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the 8th District.

AGENCY MOVE AND POLITICS: The Sun’s editorial board opines that moving the state’s housing agency from Crownsville to New Carrollton may make political sense, but is that a good enough reason — and do Democrats care?

ILLEGAL SIGN LAW: For the past several years, maintenance and roads crews picking up illegal signs near state highways have just absorbed the added cost. But a new law gearing up to take effect on Jan. 1 will help the State Highway Administration recoup lost time and money, Jennifer Shutt reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

BACK ON HIS WORD: In a column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks writes that Martin O’Malley promised in 2006 that, if elected governor, he’d consider each prisoner’s life sentence individually and not revive the “life means life,” no-parole policy of a Democratic predecessor. That’s not how it turned out.

GREEN STATE: Barbara Pash of MarylandReporter.com writes that the Board of Public Works will be voting on new guidelines from the Green Purchasing Committee requiring future purchases of energy efficient products — including phasing out most state use of bottled water, which has drawn the ire of the bottled water industry. The committee’s first recommendations covered computers, printers, indoor lighting and cleaning supplies.

BOTTLED WATER BACKWASH: Maryland Juice writes that the bottled water industry’s objections to the state trying to wean state workers off bottled water hold little real meaning when looked at closely and amounts to corporate hypocrisy.

THE MVA WAIT: According to data posted online under Gov. Martin O’Malley’s StateStat program, the Essex office is the slowest in the Motor Vehicle Administration system, with an average customer spending just over 40 minutes to wait in line and complete a transaction, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. Change may be just over the horizon.

A quick look at the map and you’ll see that the longest waits are in the higher population centers.

THE PROSECUTOR: Ruben Castaneda of the Washington Post profiles Rod Rosenstein, Maryland’s top federal prosecutor who was behind the investigation and arrest of former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson. He’s been called the “poster child for the professional, competent, ethical and fair-minded prosecutor.”

Former Prince George’s Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, who is Jack Johnson’s wife, is set to be sentenced on Dec. 9 for her part in the scandal, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

OCCUPY CUMBERLAND: Nick Gaudio of the Cumberland Daily Times reports that the Occupy Wall Street movement has made a foray into Cumberland.

NO SAY FOR VOTERS: Sherry Greenfield of the Gazette writes that Frederick County residents will not vote on who will write a document to change the county’s form of government, following a Circuit Court judge’s ruling Friday.

CITY SCHOOL LEGISLATION: Del. Keiffer Mitchell is proposing to abolish the current structure of the Baltimore school system and return its reins to the mayor under legislation due to come before the Maryland General Assembly in January, Erica Green reports for the Sun.

LEOPOLD MAY SEEK HIGHER OFFICE: Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold said Friday what has long been rumored in local political circles: He’s considering a run for governor or comptroller in 2014, blogs Andy Rosen for the Sun.

“I haven’t ruled out a statewide race,” Leopold told Erin Cox of the Annapolis Capital. He added that he believes his financial skills would be good for the state comptroller job.

SUPER SEARCH: Liz Bowie of the Sun writes that while Baltimore County will be just one of a number of large school districts in the nation and several in Maryland looking for new leaders this year, those familiar with the process said that despite the competition, the county will be attractive to many applicants.

STATE’S ATTY HONORED: The late Logan Widdowson, who served as Somerset County’s state’s attorney for 30 years, will be honored Friday when county officials dedicate in his memory the building that housed his office, writes Liz Holland for the Salisbury Daily Times.