July 16, 2013

State Roundup, July 16, 2013

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STONE RETIRING, OLSZEWSKI TO RUN: After years of being pestered for years about his political plans, Dundalk Sen. Norman Stone, 78, the longest serving member of the legislature, finally told Bryan Sears of Patch.com last night that he would retire next year at the end of his 12th term in the Senate and support Del. Johnny Olszewski for the seat.  Sears provides a lot of Stone’s long history and here’s more from a MarylandReporter.com story last year about a dinner honoring his half century in Annapolis.

Mike Dresser covers the story in the Sun, with a rundown of other delegates seeking Senate seats.

BLACK GUERRILLA SCAM: In an expose for the Post, Ann Marimow and Peter Hermann write that five years ago, next to the chapel in a Maryland prison, the Black Guerrilla Family kept its own office with desks, chairs — even computers. The group’s ranking members met there with community leaders, including a former Maryland state trooper, to talk about reducing gang activity in prison and beyond. They wrote a manual filled with self-help rhetoric that they distributed to hundreds of inmates. All the while, according to court documents and interviews, BGF, a prison gang from California, was methodically taking root in Maryland, plotting an audacious criminal enterprise controlled largely behind bars.

RALLY AGAINST GERRYMANDERING: Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record is reporting that nearly a decade before the next redistricting, a government watchdog group and some elected officials plan to rally in Annapolis on Wednesday to urge a rethinking of Maryland’s process, which is rife with political influence.

NEW JUDGESHIPS: State officials have announced the addition of the first new judgeships since 1977 for the Court of Special Appeals, the state’s second-highest court. Lawyers and judges can begin to apply for the two newly created seats, reports Andrea Siegel in the Sun.

CENTER FOR SCHOOL SAFETY: Gov. Martin O’Malley announced several appointments to a new center on school safety, part of a violence-prevention initiative that also included the sweeping gun-control measures signed into law earlier this year, reports Daniel Leaderman for the Gazette. The Maryland Center for School Safety will work with public safety and law enforcement partners to establish and promote best practices, collect data and provide training and technical assistance regarding school safety issues.

ENVIRONMENTAL MARKS DOWN: The Maryland League of Conservation Voters released its 2013 environmental scorecard Monday, giving lawmakers an average score of 64% in the House of Delegates and 55% in the Senate. Those scores are down slightly from last year’s 69% in the House and 63% in the Senate, reports Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com.

Karla Raettig, the Maryland league’s executive director, praised as “visionary” legislators who voted to pass Gov. Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind bill and to raise gas taxes. But she lamented legislators’ failure to act on other green bills while voting in at least one chamber to approve measures opposed by most environmentalists, reports Tim Wheeler for the Sun.

WICOMICO POLLUTION: The Maryland Attorney General’s office is taking a closer look at the Wicomico River. As part of river audits started by Attorney General Doug Gansler seven years ago, he and his staff members were in Salisbury on Monday to assess the main pollution sources of the river and explore possible solutions, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

MACAU-MGM VISIT: A team of Maryland gambling regulators and law-enforcement officers spent several days in China last week as part of an ongoing investigation into the suitability of MGM Resorts to operate a casino in Prince George’s County, writes John Wagner of the Post. MGM, one of three companies vying for the Prince George’s license, operates a casino in Macau, the world’s top gambling spot.

POST OFFICE PURCHASE DELAY: The Department of General Services is asking the Board of Public Works for more time to settle on its $3.2 million purchase of the Historic Annapolis Post Office, writes Alex Jackson for the Capital-Gazette.

MANDATORY SENTENCING: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post writes that mandatory sentencing has a checkered history. It has undoubtedly gotten and kept some bad characters off the streets, but it has also subjected some people to disproportionate and unjustified terms of imprisonment. They would not argue that Maryland’s five-year, no-parole law is appropriate in every single case to which it could apply. But taking this option off the courtroom table doesn’t make sense, either.

CHIPS FALL: In a roundup of “quick hits,” Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland’s first items ponders how the dominoes would fall if Gov. O’Malley really were to move Homeland Security. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown would move up to be governor, making it harder for Democrats to run against him — if they run against him at all, he writes. That could mean Attorney General Doug Gansler stays put, affecting any number of candidates farther down the ballot — making what was shaping up to be the most wide-open state election in a generation a status quo election in a distressing heartbeat. (O’Malley says he’s not interested in the post.)

CRAIG-HADDAWAY-RICCIO TICKET: Republican gubernatorial candidate and Harford County Executive David Craig is scheduled to announce Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio as his running mate today, writes Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

SOME MUM ON MARTIN CASE: Dan Furmansky of Maryland Juice asks where Maryland politicos were when the Trayvon Martin case exhonerated his killer, George Zimmerman. Few weighed in on the verdict. You’ll need to scroll toward the bottom of the page to see the results.

NAACP HONORS BROWN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown picked up an attractive addition to his glory wall Monday as he collected a leadership award from the national NAACP at its gathering in Orlando for his efforts at repealing the death penalty in Maryland. Brown played a supporting role in Gov. O’Malley’s successful effort to abolish capital punishment — a drive the governor undertook under the persistent urging of NAACP national President Benjamin Jealous.

O’MALLEY BLASTS CHRISTIE: Gov. Martin O’Malley inserted himself into the New Jersey governor’s race on Monday, knocking Republican incumbent Chris Christie for vetoing legislation last year that would have allowed same-sex marriages in the Garden State, reports John Wagner of the Post.

BAKER’S UNREPORTED CONTRIBUTION: A committee that helped finance Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s 2010 bid for office did not report a $206,000 contribution to his campaign, Miranda Spivack reports for the Post.

SMITH TO STAY FOR NOW: Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette writes that Pete Smith said at Monday’s meeting of the Anne Arundel County Council he will remain on the council pending the outcome of the Daryl Jones case. Smith was appointed to the council 15 months ago. His future on the council is unclear after the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled the council improperly ousted his predecessor, Jones.

SWITCH TO 401(k): Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake planned to introduce legislation yesterday to switch new city employees from the a traditional pension system to a 401(k)-style plan, reports Luke Broadwater for the sun. By implementing the switch, the city expects to save $1 million in fiscal year 2014, with increased savings each year until 2022, when city officials say they will save $7.8 million.