July 11, 2013

State Roundup, July 11, 2013

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RELEASED FROM PRISON: Thirteen inmates convicted of murder have been released from prison — and dozens more could be freed — after Maryland’s highest court ruled that jurors had been given improper instructions in the decades-old cases, write Ian Duncan and Yvonne Wenger for the Sun.

Joy Lepola of WBFF-TV also reports on the release and the ruling. But you may find yourself distracted from the story at 1:15 in the video when she clones herself at the Baltimore City-Baltimore County line.

PAROLE VETOES: Maryland is one of just three states that allow their governors to veto parole commission recommendations, and over the past 20 years, two governors, Democrats both, have taken a hard line, adding political considerations to what should be an objective and deliberative extension of the criminal justice system, writes Sun columnist Dan Rodricks.

780% JUMP IN PRISONERS: Forty years ago, 204,211 people were held by U.S. prison authorities; in 2011, there were 1.6 million, a 780% increase while the U.S. population as a whole had grown by about 50%. A new book, “Incarceration Generation,” examines the policies, laws and trends that have put – and kept – people in America behind bars, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

NEW GIRLS’ DETENTION CENTER: The state Department of Juvenile Services plans to replace its rundown detention center for girls with a new, 48-bed facility in Carroll County — a size that is raising questions among advocates for troubled youths.

JUVIE CENTER THEFT: A former dietary manager at a juvenile detention center in Maryland has pleaded guilty to illegally using a state-issued credit card to purchase more than 15,000 pounds of frozen crab legs and shrimp, reports John Wagner for the Post.

The suspicious spending – which included $3,240 in kitchen equipment – was flagged in April 2012 during a routine credit card audit by the Office of Legislative Audits, reports Danielle Gaines for the Frederick News-Post. The manager later sold the seafood to local restaurants for a profit.

ADDRESSING HEROIN DEATHS: In response to a spike in deaths from heroin overdoses last year in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration said Wednesday that it will hold a series of meetings with local health and law enforcement officials as part of an effort to reverse the trend, reports John Wagner for the Post.

In 2012, 126 people died in Baltimore City from heroin overdoses, a jump of 66% from the previous year, when 76 died, reversing recent declines, report Carrie Wells and Kevin Rector in the Sun.

INSURANCE MARKETPLACE: Maryland’s new health insurance “marketplace” is expected to enroll 180,000 of the state’s approximately 800,000 uninsured residents through private insurance and 100,000 more through Medicaid within the first year of enrollment, which begins this fall, Holly Shok of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail writes.

The Ellicott City restaurant, Shanty Grille, is on track to make a profit this year — about $80,000 — for the first time since the economic downturn. Yet the prospect of providing health insurance to every full-time worker or paying a penalty starting in January, a provision of the Obama health care law, has overshadowed the good news, writes Abby Goodnough for the New York Times.

FRACKING RECOMMENDATIONS: Chris Ullery of the Cumberland Times-News reports that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment will be recommending several regulations for the drilling of the Marcellus shale formation in Maryland.

TOLL CHEATING CRACKDOWN: Toll cheaters who use Maryland E-ZPass lanes without a transponder will get hit with a $50 fine and could have their vehicle registration suspended under a law that took effect July 1, reports Candy Thomson for the Sun. The Maryland Transportation Authority, operator of eight toll facilities, has begun the transition to the new collection process, which officials said will plug a loophole and allow them to recover as much as $7 million in overdue tolls.

O’MALLEY BLAMES EHRLICH: Baltimore will have to make a decision next month whether to tap the city’s general fund to again cover debt payments for the city-owned Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel, and Gov. Martin O’Malley — Baltimore’s former mayor — is blaming former Gov. Bob Ehrlich for the hotel’s precarious financial footing, the Baltimore Business Journal writes.

WICOMICO’S CLOUT GROWS: For the next year, Carl Anderton, the mayor of Delmar – the town too large for one state – will serve as president of the Maryland Municipal League, representing a constituency much larger than the town’s 3,000 residents. His appointment also means even more clout for the region during the next six months, as Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt continues his presidency of the Maryland Association of Counties, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

SEQUESTRATION IMPACT: The impact of furloughs on Fort Detrick’s 1,350 Army civilian employees reaches beyond their wallets. Workers such as Matthew Diggs face a forced day off without pay each week through the end of summer because of sequestration, reports Courtney Mabeus for the Frederick News-Post.

MATT GALLAGHER: In Center Maryland, Laslo Boyd writes that if you recognize Matt Gallagher’s name, it’s because for the past 13 years he has worked closely with Mayor and Gov. Martin O’Malley. Gallagher has seized what he sees as a very special opportunity to “try to improve Baltimore,” and has left his position as O’Malley’s chief of staff to become the president and CEO of the Goldseker Foundation.

40th DISTRICT RACE: What better place to announce your candidacy for elected public office than on the popular Anthony McCarthy Talk Show on WEAA, 88.9 FM. On Tuesday Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, a longtime civil rights leader and advocate for social justice did just that, writes Bill Hughes for the Baltimore Post-Examiner. He intends to file for House of Delegates representing the 40th District. There’s a video of Cheatham speaking as well.

BAKER’S SON CHARGED: Rushern L. Baker IV, the son of the Prince George’s County executive who is planning to run in 2014 for state delegate from Prince George’s County, was charged in late May with driving on a suspended license after he was stopped for speeding on northbound Route 4, Miranda Spivack reports in the Post.

NEUMAN VETOS BENEFITS: Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman vetoed a bill extending benefits for the International Association of Firefighters Local 1563, saying the union didn’t ask for those benefits during bargaining, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

MAXWELL CONTRACT OK’D: Unanimously and with no discussion among board members, the Prince George’s County Board of Education approved a base $290,000-a-year, four-year contract for new school system Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell during an emergency meeting Tuesday night, the Gazette’s Jamie Anfenson-Comeau writes.

CELEBRATORY GUNFIRE: Cecil County Councilman Alan McCarthy is considering introducing a firearm safety law that would restrict where and how a firearm could be legally discharged to avoid future tragedies like the death of a 10-year-old girl on New Year’s Eve, reports Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig.

  • higgy01

    Sorry O’Malley but the Hilton is strictly your white elephant. You started it and pushed it through. That it is another democrat disaster is your problem. It really is an omen of things to come thanks to O’Malley. Wait until the bill comes due for the off shore wind farm O’Malley forced through the state legislature. That irresponsible boondoggle for O’Malley’s personal resume is going to cost the tax payers of Maryland billions before they rust and fall into the sea.