November 2, 2012

State Roundup, November 2, 2012

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VOTING: While some Marylanders cope with flooding and others wait for the lights to come back on, elections officials said polls everywhere should be ready in time for Election Day, writes Matthew Hay Brown for the Sun.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed an executive order to help people apply for absentee ballots, if they are unable to apply in person because of Superstorm Sandy, according to an AP report at WMAR-TV.

If you want to vote unofficially, you can go to the Capital-Gazette.

STORM OF ROBOCALLS: Marylanders have been receiving robocalls from celebrities and elected officials delivering messages for or against state ballot issues or political candidates, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. The voices of “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria and magician David Copperfield tout the advantages of expanded gambling. State Del. Jill Carter recorded a call opposing that measure. And former President Bill Clinton tells listeners he thinks the world of congressional candidate John Delaney.

GAMBLING IN PG & DC: The Post’s John Wagner and Aaron Davis report on how MGM Resorts is trying to lure supporters for its Prince George’s casino and if the Washington area is suited to that brand of luxury.

In the battle for expanded casino gambling, they brought out the big political guns Thursday to persuade hundreds of residents of the large Leisure World retirement community in Montgomery County that ads against Question 7 are misleading and dishonest, Sam Smith reports in MarylandReporter.com.

AGAINST EXPANSION: The editorial board for the Sun writes that, four years ago, it endorsed the constitutional amendment that legalized slot machine gambling in Maryland, and still support it. But it opposes Question 7, the gambling expansion measure on November’s ballot, because it’s a bad deal for Maryland’s taxpayers.

QUESTION 6 ADVERTISING: Both sides of Question 6, the referendum seeking to overturn same-sex marriage in the state, have spent just over $6 million combined on advertising. That’s less than a tenth of the nearly $72 million that has been spent campaigning for and against the gambling referendum also on November’s ballot, reports Caitlin Johnston of Capital News Service in the Howard County Times.

MARRIAGE GOOD FOR BUSINESS: Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels, in an op-ed in the Sun, writes, “I support marriage equality. Assuring that loving same-sex couples have the same rights my wife and I have … is, quite simply, a matter of justice and core civil rights. But I have another reason for supporting Question 6 — less idealistic, perhaps, but just as real: Marriage equality is good for business.”

RALLY: A group of Maryland lawmakers who helped put several issues – including the Dream Act and same-sex marriage – on the statewide ballot will be holding a rally and fund-raiser. This is among events highlighted by Allison Bourg in the Capital-Gazette’s Political Notes.

ALSTON TO BE REPLACED TODAY: The Post’s Ann Marimow is reporting that an attorney for the Maryland legislature is saying that Tiffany Alston, a Prince George’s lawmaker suspended from public office last month, cannot rejoin the General Assembly as she hoped. And the determination about Alston’s future comes as county Democrats are poised to select her replacement today.

BROMWELL MAY BE RELEASED EARLY: Former state Sen. Thomas Bromwell could be released from prison as early as February, writes Bryan Sears for Patch.com. Bromwell, 63, is serving the last nine months of an 84-month sentence for racketeering, conspiracy and filing a false tax return at the Federal Correctional Institution at Morgantown, W. VA.

ON FEDERAL WORKFORCE: Maryland’s three U.S. Senate candidates – incumbent Ben Cardin, Dan Bongino and Rob Sobhani – answer questions about the federal workforce in a column by the Post’s Joe Davidson. Their answers are at the bottom of Page 2.

PARTY CRASHER: With the U.S. Capitol as backdrop and some campaign posters slapped on a podium, Rob Sobhani delivered the closing statement for his party-crashing campaign in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race, writes Frederick Kunkle of the Post, one of two reporters in attendance.

BARTLETT’S BATTLE: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland talks like a man who knows his days in office might be numbered, writes David Hill for the Washington Times. The 86-year-old Republican is fighting an uphill battle to keep the seat he has held for 20 years. State Democrats redrew his long-conservative district last year to give their party a voter advantage.

HOYER’S LEGACY: Aaron Davis of the Post profiles U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, who happily discusses the mile markers along the road of his career to this point: the youngest person ever elected as president of the Maryland Senate; the state’s longest-serving member of Congress. But he doesn’t easily talk about what could be the next one …

CAMPIGN WARCHESTS: From their own campaigns and leadership fundraising operations, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer and ranking House Budget Committee member Chris Van Hollen, have sent millions of dollars across the country in an effort to elect fellow Democrats, Margie Hyslop writes in the Gazette.

SANDY RECOVERY: Recovery for the worst-hit areas of Maryland dragged on three days after the remnants of Sandy swept through, while the rest of the state got back to business as usual, reports Ian Duncan for the Sun.

Cleanup efforts in Crisfield began in earnest as a newly formed group of volunteers spread through city streets looking for downed trees and power lines and other problems caused by Hurricane Sandy, writes Liz Holland for the Salisbury Daily Times.

BAY CLEANUP CONCERNS: Cecil County commissioners have agreed unanimously to spend $25,000 to join a new “TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Coalition” initiated by Dorchester County, reports Cheryl Mattix in the Cecil Whig. A majority of the organizers question the science used to impose TMDL standards on sewage treatment plants and hope the new group can scientifically prove there are less expensive methods to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

SUSQUEHANNA POLLUTION: The millions of gallons of water laden with polluted sediment pouring from the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River after Superstorm Sandy are a far bigger problem for the Chesapeake Bay than local stormwater runoff, Republican elected officials said during a press conference Thursday. Len Lazarick reports in MarylandReporter.com.

ETHICS QUESTION: The director of Baltimore City’s ethics board — a full-time city employee — is performing legal work on behalf of developers embroiled in a zoning battle in Baltimore County, which could be looked upon as a conflict of interest, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.

UNION PROTESTS: A Baltimore County union representing about 800 public employees filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the county yesterday, asking for an independent investigation after working for five months without a contract, reports the Sun’s Alison Knezevich.

AMUSEMENT TAX KILLED: Amusing people in Frederick County will soon get a little cheaper, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News-Post. The county commissioners voted yesterday to zero out the local admissions and amusement tax, a change that will take effect Feb. 1.

PENSION OVERPAYMENTS: Lawmakers might consider legislation next year that would give the state’s pension system more power to recoup money in case of accidental overpayments, the Gazette’s Daniel Leaderman reports.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporter Notebook has items on congressional redistricting; immigrant voting; Melissa Etheridge; Brad Pitt; and early voting.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Environmentalists say Hurricane Sandy was the latest wakeup call for politicians to take action on climate change, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette. But few have spoken out on the issue this campaign season either in the presidential or Maryland congressional races.

FARM EASEMENT: For the first time a Maryland farm owner is asking to end an agricultural easement, which keeps the land preserved for farming, prompting the state to schedule its initial public hearing on such a request Nov. 15, the Gazette’s Margie Hyslop reports.