LEOPOLD GUILTY, SUSPENDED: A judge has found Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold guilty of misusing his security officers for political and campaign activities and of using his security detail and other county employees for personal purposes while they were on duty and paid by the county, Margie Hyslop reports in the Gazette.
Leopold was acquitted of a more serious charge of misappropriating funds. He also was acquitted of the more salacious charge of using his security detail to ferry him to sexual encounters with a county employee in a bowling alley’s parking lot and then helping him conceal the liaison from his live-in girlfriend, the Post’s Annys Shin reports.
Leopold was suspended from office while Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond took over as acting county executive and the Anne Arundel County Council made plans to force him out permanently, Matthew Hay Brown and Andrea Siegel write in the Sun.
The County Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for today to introduce a bill to remove Leopold from office, Brian Witte of the AP reports at WTOP-AM.
WHO’LL REPLACE LEOPOLD? With Leopold suspended from office due to yesterday’s criminal convictions, some Anne Arundel County Republicans are jockeying to be the next county executive, Andrea Siegel reports in the Sun. Included on the list is Council member John Grasso, state Sen. Ed Reilly and former U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino.
GUN LICENSING: The Sun’s Erin Cox reports that Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued a legal opinion yesterday that said that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s licensing proposal that calls for a $100 fee, fingerprinting and safety training before someone can buy a handgun does not violate the U.S. Constitution.
MENTAL HEALTH COMMITMENT: A bill that would make it easier to commit people to treatment facilities against their will for mental disorders is in the works for two Frederick County lawmakers, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News-Post.
MENTAL HEALTH RALLY: More than 200 people attended an Annapolis rally yesterday to call for more spending on statewide mental health services to better deal with crises and to ensure that no patients fall through the cracks, the Sun’s Erin Cox reports.
SECURING PENSION SYSTEM: Republicans in the House of Delegates have proposed legislation that they say would shore up the state employee pension system while cutting the risk that taxpayers will be left on the hook for losses, the Sun’s Michael Dresser is reporting.
MINORITY CONTRACTORS: Minority business executives hope changes in a state contracting program will open new opportunities for them. House Bill 48 would remove nonprofits from consideration for set-asides under the Minority Business Enterprise program, writes Lindsey Robinson for the Gazette. The committee read the bills this month and has scheduled a hearing at 1 p.m. Feb. 6.
DON’T TWEAK DREAM ACT: The editorial board of the Gazette is urging lawmakers to not tweak the Dream Act at this time, but instead give supporters time to prove the advantages of the act.
NOTED NUN LOBBIES DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: Sister Helen Prejean, the Roman Catholic nun whose advocacy against capital punishment has made her a national figure, will be in Annapolis today to lobby for repeal of Maryland’s death penalty, blogs Erin Cox for the Sun.
FOR & AGAINST DEATH PENALTY: David Moon of Maryland Juice blogs that many of the same Democrats who dragged their feet on marriage equality over the years are also supporters of state executions. And once again, a majority of Democratic voters are on one side of the issue, while a super-majority of Republican voters are on the other side of the issue.
KEEP CURRENT REFERENDUM LAWS: The editorial board of the Sun writes that although Maryland’s recent experiences with petitioning issues to referendums have exposed some flaws with the process, lawmakers should think twice before declaring referendums to be a dangerous trend that needs to be curtailed.
B+ FOR TRANSPARENCY: Maryland ranks among the best states in the U.S. for government transparency based on its website, according to a study from the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit focused on pro-transparency. It gives Maryland an overall B+ for transparency, writes Ryan Sharrow for the Baltimore Business Journal. No state earned anything above a B+.
E-ZPASS, SCOFFLAWS & THE STATE: Sun columnist Marta Mossburg writes that the state can’t seem to hold itself to the same standards that it imposes upon other scofflaws. And she cites an egregious E-ZPass case to prove it.
STATE OF THE STATE: When Gov. Martin O’Malley steps to the podium today to give his State of the State address, it will be the seventh time he has addressed a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly — and probably the last time that his words can be expected to make much of a difference, reports John Wagner in the Post.
NAMES TO LOSE: Post columnist Courtland Milloy writes that Native Americans and African Americans should join forces to change two offensive names – the Washington Redskins and Maryland’s Negro Mountain.
DUNCAN POLL SPENDING: The poll that found that Montgomery County still recognizes the name Doug Duncan cost the former county executive’s campaign for county executive $33,000, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.