July 8, 2013

State Roundup, July 8, 2013

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INMATE GRIEVANCE SYSTEM: Kevin Rector of the Sun reports that the inmate grievance system at the Baltimore City Detention Center should be a way to root out corruption and wrongdoing by prisoners and corrections officials. But the system has been broken for a long time.

RISING WATERS: Gov. Martin O’Malley warned in December that rising sea levels over the next century would threaten “400 miles of roadways,” when he signed an executive order making protection of billions of dollars in state infrastructure a priority. However, a Capital News Service analysis shows the total impact, factoring in county-maintained roads, could be much worse, report CNS’s Karl Hille and Sydney Paul in the Cumberland Times-News.

CHIEF JUDGE BARBERA: Andrea Siegel and Erin Cox of the Sun profile Maryland’s new chief judge, Mary Ellen Barbera. People who know Barbera describe her demeanor as forthright, yet diplomatic. Colleagues say she’ll use those qualities in a complicated role that requires a sharp legal mind and the political acumen to oversee Maryland’s $463 million court system.

O’MALLEY LOBBYIST NAMED TO DISTRICT COURT: Among the historic judicial appointments Gov. O’Malley made official last Wednesday, the governor also named his chief lobbyist to become a Baltimore County District Court judge, the Sun’s Erin Cox reports. In her first year as chief legislative officer, Stacy Mayer pushed through perhaps O’Malley’s most ambitious legislative agenda, passing new gun laws, repealing the death penalty and raising the tax on gasoline for the first time in two decades.

SKEPTICAL FRANCHOT OKS METRO PROJECT: A visibly skeptical and hesitant Comptroller Peter Franchot ultimately sided with the governor and treasurer on the Board of Public Works and approved $2.3 million of funding that went to what he called the “fabled long-awaited” South Entrance to the Bethesda Metro station, writes Chris Goins for Marylandreporter.com. The entrance would connect the end of the proposed Purple Line to the Red Line.

CASINO TO OPEN POKER ROOM: Maryland Live! casino plans to open its new poker room in time for the Labor Day weekend, the casino announced last week, according to a story in the Capital-Gazette.

BGE RATE HIKE: Timothy Sandoval of the Carroll County Times reports that BGE customers in Carroll County expressed mixed reactions to an increase in their monthly electricity bill that they will be seeing this month. BGE will charge the company’s average residential customers about $6 per month more for electricity.

CARROLL STORMWATER SITUATION: A decision by the Board of Carroll County Commissioners last week to not create a stormwater runoff fee as mandated by state law has left the county’s municipalities wondering how they will fund federal and state required stormwater projects, reports Blair Ames for the Sun.

Carroll County’s town and city mayors are hoping the county will chip in money to cover the approximately $10 million worth of stormwater management projects they have to complete by 2017, reports Christian Alexandersen for the Carroll County Times.

HEALTH INSURANCE DELAY: About 10,000 Maryland residents will be affected by the federal government’s decision to delay by a year new rules that require employers to offer health insurance, reports Sarah Gantz for the Baltimore Business Journal.

POLITICAL NOTES: The Hagerstown Herald-Mail is reporting that U.S. Rep. John Delaney is backing bipartisan legislation that would prevent “political targeting” by the Internal Revenue Service; Harford County Executive David Craig, who is running for governor, is calling on the Maryland General Assembly to repeal the “rain tax” during its next session; and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is holding a press conference today with Jim Messina, campaign manager for the 2012 Obama for America campaign.

OBAMA AIDE TALKS WITH BROWN SUPPORTERS: Erin Cox of the Sun reports that President Barack Obama’s campaign manager and former political adviser Jim Messina will meet with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s supporters today to talk about Maryland’s gubernatorial race.  Why? It’s not exactly clear.

Attorney General Doug Gansler in car at Arbutus Fourth of July parade with sign that says "Gansler Governor"

Any doubts about what Attorney General Doug Gansler is running for were dispelled by the sign on his car in the Arbutus Fourth of July parade. (Photo by MarylandReporter.com)

GANSLER’S SILENT RUN: Doug Gansler is running for governor. He has more than $5 million in the bank. He has hired a campaign manager and a team of consultants. He launched a three-month “Building Our Best Maryland” tour to start sharing his policy ideas for the state. But does he say he is a candidate? No. At least not officially, writes John Wagner of the Post.

VOGT APOLOGIZES: Republican congressional candidate David Vogt took to Twitter over the Independence Day holiday to offer an apology for comments about his primary opponent, former Secret Service agent Daniel Bongino, writes Daniel Leaderman for the Gazette. Both are running for the 6th Congressional seat currently held by John Delaney.

GARAGIOLA REPLACEMENT: David Moon at Maryland Juice provides a few recent exhibits regarding the District 15 state Senate seat being vacated by Rob Garagiola. Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee members will select a replacement for Garagiola, and it appears they are receiving numerous communications from politicos in the area.

WASHINGTON CO. SCHOOLS: A recent state audit of several financial operations at Washington County Public Schools resulted in recommendations on how to improve internal controls and safeguards, including verifying costs provided by outside parties. The school system has or is responding to all 18 findings and, in several cases, already has addressed the deficiencies, according to the school system’s response to the state and school system officials, Julie Greene writes for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

WRAPPED IN THE FLAG: Kate Alexander of the Gazette reports that Doug Duncan, who is running for Montgomery County executive, is using the Montgomery County flag on his campaign literature and website. But the three-time executive said he did not know that county law — section 1-404 of the county code to be exact — decrees that “a person must not use the county coat of arms, flag, or seal to indicate that a person is acting in an official capacity on behalf of the county unless the person is acting in an official capacity on behalf of the county.”

LATE MO CO TAX BILLS: Montgomery County residents who logged on to view their annual tax bill July 1 were surprised to find them unavailable, reports Katie Pohlman for the Gazette. Taxpayer bills should be posted online the first day of July every year, according to the county’s Department of Finance’s website. But this year, the county missed its deadline.

JONES’ POSSIBLE RETURN: The potential reappointment of Daryl Jones to the Anne Arundel County Council, after serving five months in prison last year for failure to file a tax return, then being ousted by the county council, elicits mixed emotions from county residents, reports the Capital-Gazette’s Allison Bourg.

LEOPOLD HOPES TO RUN AGAIN: Former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold sat behind the glass panes of a small office at the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank in Crownsville, answering phones, taking notes and performing other duties to fulfill 400 hours of community service. Leopold is trying to find a new role in the community he once served, and betrayed, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun. He says he hopes to one day be cleared to run for office again.