November 2, 2011

State Roundup, November 2, 2011

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O’MALLEY TOUTS TAX: The Post’s Aaron Davis reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley last night offered his most expansive argument yet for a major gas tax increase, telling hundreds of the state’s assembled mayors and councilmembers that Maryland must lead by example to keep its bridges and roads safe, and to help create jobs.

RESTLESS PUBLIC: Columnist Marta Mossberg writes in the Frederick News Post that voters won’t stand by forever and put up with the false promises and shenanigans coming out of our politicians.

PIPKEN MINORITY LEADER: Maryland’s Senate Republicans have named new leaders, including Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who will take over from Nancy Jacobs as the new minority leader, and Sen. Edward R. Reilly, who become minority whip, the position Pipkin has held, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

GARAGIOLA LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN: State Sen. Rob Garagiola, who officially launched his campaign for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s seat yesterday, used his first major address to argue that Republicans in Congress have all but ignored the economy, John Fritze reports for the Sun. He said government needs to invest more to create jobs instead of just looking for ways to trim spiraling budget deficits.

Republican Robin Ficker – former delegate, Montgomery County gadfly, perennial candidate running for the 6th District and thorn in the side to the MoCo establishment – may prove to be more of a problem for Garagiola than he is for the 10-term Republican incumbent, blogs Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

Democrats in Annapolis altered Bartlett’s district in the state’s new map to make it ripe for picking, by removing the more conservative eastern portions of the district and adding a large slice of liberal-leaning western Montgomery County, Ben Pershing blogs for the Post.

“I’m going to be focusing a lot on the economy and jobs during this campaign,” Garagiola told people in the 6th District as he campaigned in Cumberland, Kristin Harty Barkley reports for the Cumberland Times News.

BAY A WISE INVESTMENT: Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation writes in an op-ed for the Sun that the Chesapeake Bay pollution diet is a way to spend taxpayer dollars wisely.

GRILLED SHATTUCK: Constellation Energy’s second-largest shareholder and a partner in its nuclear business grilled the Baltimore company’s chairman and chief executive, Mayo Shattuck, about his compensation and proposed role at Exelon Corp. during the second day of regulatory hearings on the $7.9 billion merger of the two energy giants, Hanah Cho reports for the Sun.

OCCUPY BALTIMORE: Reports that a woman was sexually assaulted in a tent at the Occupy Baltimore site have been deemed unfounded by city police, but they have nevertheless put public safety at the forefront, with some organizers complaining that homeless people have overrun the tent city at McKeldin Square, the Sun’s Peter Hermann and Luke Broadwater report.

ETHICS CHANGES: Baltimore County Council Executive Kevin Kamenetz plans to propose changes to county ethics laws today, dealing with issues including secondary employment, financial disclosure requirements, conflicts of interest and penalties for violating ethics rules, Alison Knezevich blogs for the Sun.

VOTE RAISES QUESTIONS: Bryan Sears of Patch.com writes that a vote on an economic development issue taken in March by Baltimore County Councilman Ken Oliver is raising ethical questions because it involved the state agency that employed the councilman.

HOWARD REDISTRICTING: Greg Fox, the Howard County Council’s lone Republican and self-appointed “numbers guy,” has created an alternative redistricting plan to the one Democrats on the Councilmanic Redistricting Commission favored, writes Lindsey McPherson for the Howard County Times.

CITY ELECTIONS: Mark Ruetter of the Baltimore Brew writes about the candidates you haven’t heard of — those running for office in Baltimore city who aren’t Democrats.

CITY SHORTFALL: Julie Scharper of the Sun reports that Baltimore officials have identified a $52 million budget shortfall next year, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration is eyeing pension costs and other benefits after years of significant cutbacks to city programs and worker salaries to close previous budget gaps.

CONAWAY CHARGES FRAUD: Baltimore City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway, who is running a write-in campaign to keep her seat in the Nov. 8 election, accused the city elections board of committing “major fraud” by mailing out incorrect absentee ballots to 7th District voters, reports Julie Scharper and Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

FREDERICK DROPS FEE: A decision by the Frederick County Commissioners will leave local builders with one less fee – the excise tax – to worry about and the county with one less source of funding for bridge and road expansion, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.