October 22, 2012

State Roundup, October 22, 2012

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REDISTRICTING: National Public Radio’s Jeff Brady takes note of Maryland’s redistricting in the race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and challenger John Delaney, an upstart Democrat who has overtaken Bartlett both financially and in the polls.

Redistricting opponents, who insist the new congressional district lines are nonsensical, have spent less than $1,000 to get the word out that people can strike down the maps by voting against Question 5. But they are confident people will know enough to vote the maps down on Nov. 6, writes Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette.

GAMBLING INTERESTS: Dueling out-of-state gambling companies and their allies have poured $56 million into the fight over whether to allow a Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s County, fueling an unprecedented advertising blitz in what has become one of the most visible races in the region, reports the Post’s John Wagner.

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks outlines Ninoism – giving your money to a millionaire – and explains two ways to do it on Election Day. One of them, he says, is by voting for expanded gambling.

NEW GAMBLING COMMISSION: Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, who also headed the group that advised Gov. O’Malley on an expansion of gaming in the state, is among those O’Malley named Friday to a new commission to oversee casino gaming and the Maryland lottery.

CASINO GRANTS: Jane Bellmyer of the Cecil Whig writes that Perryville is making some changes to the way it allocates grant money derived from its share of Hollywood Casino revenue. The town received $1.7 million in the first year of operations and recently awarded only one $75,000 grant to the Community Fire Company of Perryville for its career services program.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who has been under pressure from his own children and many of his county’s younger voters, on Friday endorsed a Maryland ballot measure that would legalize same-sex marriage.

John Wagner of the Post reports that Jolene and Glenn Ivey, a power couple well-known in Prince George’s County politics, are appearing in a new television ad produced by same-sex marriage supporters to counter an attack from the other side.

Derek Valcourt of WJZ-TV reports that some national religious leaders opposing same-sex marriage came to Maryland to make their case.

MONTGOMERY COLLEGE: Montgomery College has become a good place for undocumented students to get a higher education, writes Nick Anderson in the Post.

BUCKS POURING IN: Rachel Baye and Steve Cortorno of the Examiner take a look at the huge amount of money being spent on election campaigns and local issues in Maryland and Virginia.

QUESTION 3: Prince George’s Del. Jolene Ivey believes that an elected official is no longer “effective” in office after being found guilty, reports Robert Lang of WBAL-AM. She has sponsored a constitutional amendment that would automatically remove an elected official once a verdict is reached, or plea is entered. Current law allows the official to stay in office until sentencing.

O’MALLEY’S REFERENDUMS: Gov. Martin O’Malley speaks with Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times on his stands on the ballot questions. Those questions before voters, be they about gambling expansion or same-sex marriage, have seemingly become personal crusades for the Democrat serving his final gubernatorial term.

REFERENDUM EDITORIALS: The Frederick News-Post editorial board urges voters to back the Maryland Dream Act at the polls on Nov. 6.

In urging voters to reject Question 5 – the latest iteration of Maryland’s already goofy congressional district maps – the editorial board for the Sun writes, “Maryland’s congressional maps are a product of the politicians, for the politicians, by the politicians.”

Post columnist Robert McCartney writes that when he held his nose and endorsed expanded gambling in Maryland in two weeks ago, he cited a single reason: A big new casino at National Harbor would help the Prince George’s County economy. Now he’s got a second, admittedly petty rationale. A “yes” vote on Question 7 on the November ballot would justly humiliate Penn National Gaming, the giant casino company that has funded a massive advertising campaign against the proposal.

The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post urges outlines why it is for or against the other ballot questions.

SPOTLIGHT ON BLACK VOTERS: Annie Linskey of the Sun reports that whether the issue is gay marriage, Vegas-style gambling or college for illegal immigrants, all of Maryland’s ballot campaigns have this in common: They are lavishing attention on black voters.

NO BLOAT: Compared to 16 other states, Maryland’s voter registration rolls show no signs of “bloat,” a condition where more people are registered to vote than are eligible based on Census figures, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com.

SPAY/NEUTER FUND: Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that a state task force has concluded that Maryland should consider creating a fund that would help pet owners pay for spaying and neutering.

CAMPAIGNING OUT OF STATE: Henry Li was a hesitant Obama supporter when he opened his front door last weekend in Northern Virginia. By the time he closed it, he had committed to vote for the president. In the intervening three minutes, he spoke with Josh Friedman, a 33-year-old Obama campaign volunteer from Columbia. Marylanders are playing a big role in the effort to turn out the vote in states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, write John Fritze and Michael Dresser in the Sun.

CARDIN’S SEAT EVEN SAFER: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s reelection race has become more like a stroll, with a new Washington Post poll showing most Marylanders ready to give him a second term next month, reports the Post’s Fredrick Kunkle. And with the last-minute entry into the race of an independent upstart with money to burn on television ads, Cardin’s seat appears even safer.

FACT-CHECKING CARDIN: Pamela Wood of the Capital-Gazette fact-checks a new commercial by incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin that claims, “By getting BWI Marshall funding for new runways, he’s helping us serve 21 million passengers a year, which helps keep 100,000 jobs that depend on the airport. And that means more cargo for more businesses. And more skycaps unloading more taxis carrying families with more luggage.”

FOR CARDIN: The Post editorial board back Cardin for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

HARRIS NO-SHOW: District 1 Congressional candidates talked about the issues Sunday afternoon at a candidate forum that included Democratic write-in candidate Dr. John LaFerla of Chestertown, Libertarian Muir Boda of Salisbury and unaffiliated candidate Michael Calpino of Wicomico County. It did not include incumbent Republican Andy Harris.

SPECIAL POLICE: Justin Fenton of the Sun writes about special police officers, hired by the state and local governments as well as institutions such as the Johns Hopkins University and the District Court of Maryland. They stand watch over shopping centers and apartment complexes, rarely getting into anything controversial. But numerous complaints say that when they overstep their boundaries, there is little recourse.

PART I: HISTORY OF CHARTER: As Frederick County voters prepare to vote on whether to change from a commissioner form of government to charter, Bethany Rodgers and Pete McCarthy of The Frederick News-Post will take a look at the history of charter government in Maryland and some of the top issues in the 2012 document. Here’s the first part of the series.