April 24, 2013

State Roundup, April 24, 2013

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PRISON GANG INDICTMENTS: A cabal of corrupt corrections officers and members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang enjoyed nearly free rein inside the Baltimore City Detention Center, federal authorities allege, smuggling drugs and cellphones into the jail and having sexual relationships that left four guards pregnant, reports Jessica Anderson and Ian Duncan in the Sun.

Prosecutors said 13 female corrections officers essentially handed over control of the jail to gang leaders, report John Wagner and Ann Marimow for the Post.

Christian Schaffer of WBFF-TV reports that investigators say the 13 COs had sex inside the prison with gang members. The lead defendant — Tavon White — is alleged to have impregnated four correctional officers; one of them has two of his children.

Here’s a Sun video of the formal announcement.

SENSIBLE DRUG POLICY: Lawmakers in Annapolis rejected a bill this year that would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, but prosecutors in Baltimore City are already ahead of the curve in treating the offense as a public health issue rather than as a crime. This is the beginning of a sane policy on marijuana that one can only hope city officials will seek to expand in coming years, opines the editorial board for the Sun.

HIGHER ED FUNDS: State higher education officials applauded a recent proposal for a federal competitive grant program that could complement the state’s efforts to control tuition costs. Among the more than $71 billion President Obama proposed allocating to the Department of Education, about $1 billion would go to Race to the Top, an initiative that provides grants to colleges and university systems that limit the cost of tuition while innovating in the classroom. Both goals were high priorities for Gov. Martin O’Malley and state lawmakers in this year’s legislative session, Jim Bach writes in the Diamondback.

ARCHIVES TROUBLES: The five electronic servers maintaining Internet communications for 30 state agencies have an “outdated and vulnerable” operating system, auditors found in a report on the Maryland State Archives, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. The Maryland State Archives also did not provide adequate control or records over the state $31 million art collection, the report by the legislative auditors released Tuesday said.

The State Archives, with a $8.7 million annual budget, keeps historically significant documents and art, as well as certain government and private records, writes Carrie Wells in the Sun.

GUN ISSUE FORUMS: Gun control advocates and their opponents will be holding separate but open forums in the next few days in Frederick County addressing both the state and national efforts, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

GANSLER ON GUNS: The Talbot Spy is reporting that Attorney General Doug Gansler will address a luncheon sponsored by the Democratic Women’s Club of Talbot County on Friday, April 26, speaking about his support for gun-related legislation and the Attorney General’s Inaugural Statewide Gun Turn-in Day to be held on Saturday, May 11.

HOUSE TURNOVER: Jimmy Malone and Steven DeBoy are just the tip of the iceberg, writes Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland. When the House of Delegates convenes in 2015, there could be as many as 50 new members. That’s right, more than a third of the chamber could — could — turn over.

AND POLITICAL JOCKEYING IN HOWARD: Blair Ames of the Howard County Times writes that the 2014 elections in Howard County will offer a plethora of intriguing story lines, most notably a possible run for governor by term-limited County Executive Ken Ulman. But the retirement announcements last week of two state delegates and a state senator have opened the door for more political jockeying and speculation in advance of 2014.

LEGGETT’S FUTURE: Bill Turque of the Post reports that the big shoe in Montgomery County politics — County Executive Ike Leggett’s announcement on whether he will seek a third term in 2014— has yet to drop.

ISRAELI FIRMS TO OPEN IN MD: As Gov. Martin O’Malley’s eight-day economic development mission moved to Israel on Tuesday, it was formally announced that four Israeli technology companies have agreed to open offices in Maryland, Alex Jackson writes for the Capital-Gazette.

TOLLIVER PROBED: Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman has launched an investigation into allegations that county Police Chief Larry Tolliver used homophobic slurs and retaliated against officers whose testimony led to her predecessor’s criminal conviction for misconduct, the Sun’s Erin Cox reports.

CARROLL FIRE GRANTS: Brett Lake of the Carroll County Times reports that Carroll County first responders were awarded nearly $1.5 million in federal grant funding to purchase firefighting equipment and pay for training programs, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen announced.

DUNDALK EAGLE EDITOR: Dundalk Eagle editor Steve Matrazzo has won a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his local columns. The SDX — the former name of SPJ — is a major national award with competition from all over the country. Matrazzo won for general column writing for publications with circulation under 100,000 and non-dailies. Here is a link to the columns that earned the award. As some indication of the prestige of these awards, the winner for columns in publications over 100,000 was Jim Dwyer of the New York Times.