State Roundup, November 30, 2012

Attorney General rules that counties can start the process for marriage licenses for gay couples so that weddings can occur on Jan. 1; state audit finds Aviation Administration seriously lacking in contract oversight; despite spate of spending, casino interests still have campaign money to burn; GOP Chairman Mooney’s fate up for grabs as state Republicans convene; Gov. O’Malley touts Maryland to President Obama as model in fight against climate change; MoCo vets may get their slots; and Terps fan Mike Miller was OK with Big Ten move.

State GOP convention has the usual firing squad and lynch mob

The preparations for this weekend’s Maryland Republican Convention are in place. The firing squad for the party leaders has been forming its circle, armed with hot-air popguns. The lynch mob for party chairman Alex Mooney has bought a bungee cord.

All is normal for a party that has control of local government in half of Maryland’s counties, but gets routinely clobbered at the statewide level. The snarky sniping and angry grumbling are fairly routine. Senate nominee Dan Bongino has some ideas for fixing the party.

State Roundup, November 29, 2012

The NAACP is vowing to mount a huge effort to get Maryland to abandon the death penalty; expect Gov. O’Malley to reintroduce his off-shore wind farm plans; feds say Maryland could lose $3.9 billion if U.S. falls off fiscal cliff; MVA workers racked up overtime in July and August; supporters rally around Del. Alston’s replacement even as O’Malley stalls; Prince George’s to again push for bag tax; Doug Duncan says he’ll seek former seat as MoCo exec; and Arundel Councilman Grasso to run for Prince George’s exec.

State Roundup, November 28, 2012

State ranks 12 in high school graduation rates; state audit finds adjustment, monitoring of state’s speed camera lacking, loss of revenue could hit $850,000; state laws may be ineffective in fighting gang crime; ACC sues UM for $52 million exit fee; environmental group says counties not enforcing new septic restrictions; and Del. Cardin announces exploratory committee in run for attorney general.

Highway agency has continuing contract problems, auditors find

The Maryland State Highway Administration wrongfully authorized modifications and extensions to architectural and engineering contracts without the approval of the Board of Public Works, auditors have found. They also found that the highway agency is not providing proper justification for the board to approve maximum contract awards. These findings are similar to findings in a previous report on SHA contracts. The audit also found problems with the speed camera program in highway work zones.

State Roundup, November 27, 2012

It’s a quiet day on the political front: Some state lawmakers in Western Maryland are opposing a proposal to hike the cigarette tax; the state Court of Special Appeals rules that a wedding is legal even though the bride and groom were in different countries; judge suggests full review of the controversy surrounding Alston replacement; Gov. O’Malley to keep a leadership post in the DGA; Change Maryland critiques DBED; Doug Duncan considers running again; and Carroll County Dems begin looking at charter government.

State Roundup, November 26, 2012

Lack of openness over UMd’s decision to move to the Big 10 draws concerns; Gov. O’Malley considers seeking a repeal of the death penalty; the state won’t ask you to pay the required tax on Cyber Monday purchases; after long waits this year, state and federal lawmakers seek ways to speed the voting process; conservative bloggers stir debate over state GOP Chair Mooney’s future; Gov. O’Malley urged to appoint Del. Alston replacement; and Ike Leggett may seek re-election as Montgomery executive.

State Roundup, November 21, 2012

Maryland facing multi-million dollar budget gaps in the long-term; state gains 14,000 jobs; Intercounty Connector draws large numbers of toll violators; Howard farmers protest county plans to conform to state septic law; Sen. Young to propose new organ donor bill; Garrett to seek wind-turbine setback rule; Del. Alston ruled “out,” replacement still on the list; Del. Cardin to hold AG funder; Gov. O’Malley delays Middle East trip; and Carl Snowden found guilty of pot possession.

Commentary: Big Ten move may be good deal, but secret process was bad

Every month the University System of Maryland comes asking to have contracts large and small approved by top elected officials after a public procurement process that usually involves requests for proposals and multiple bids – an often long and cumbersome process. There are perhaps aspects of the move of the University of Maryland College Park athletics programs from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten that will eventually get this kind of open, public and official scrutiny. But as it stands now, this deal involving tens of millions of dollars – none of it taxpayer funds, we’re told – was conceived, negotiated and executed hastily and in secret until its swift approval by an unelected Board of Regents on Monday.