August 13, 2013

State Roundup, August 13, 2013

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GANSLER BLASTS BROWN ON TAPE: Attorney General Doug Gansler told a group of campaign volunteers last month that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, his chief Democratic rival for governor, has a thin record of accomplishment and is trying to rely on his race to get elected next year, reports John Wagner for the Post. The remarks were recorded July 15 by someone not in the Gansler campaign. You can listen to pertinent snippets on the left side of the story.

At the July 15 meeting in Annapolis, Gansler relayed that he had taken part in several July 4th parades around the state and experienced “visceral anti-O’Malley, anti-Brown sentiment,” in part because of series of tax increases in recent years, writes John Wagner in the Post.

PRISON RALLY: About 250 corrections employees, their families, elected officials, union representatives and members of the public attended a rally on Friday calling for the removal of management officials at the North Branch Correctional Institution following the brutal attack of guard Herbert Hilliard last Monday, reports Greg Larry for the Cumberland Times News.

It’s just one of a dozen assaults in recent weeks. Monique Griego of WJZ-TV reports on the newest problem inside a state prison.

RETHINKING DRUG POLICY: In a sign of growing disenchantment with the war on drugs, conservatives joined Democrats and reform advocates in praising U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s declaration that it was time to rethink get-tough policies that have tied the hands of judges and swollen the populations of federal prisons, Joseph Tanfani and Carrie Wells report in the Sun. It’s not yet clear what effect the changes to mandatory minimum sentencing will have in Maryland. Two state’s attorneys noted that in Maryland, federal authorities typically pursue cases involving large and violent drug rings.

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that Holder’s suggestion is the first step in returning sanity and integrity to a justice system commandeered nearly 30 years ago by grandstanding, overzealous politicians. But it comes way too late for the 20-year-old drug slinger featured in one of Judge Andre Davis’s war stories.

STATE BIZ PROGRAM: A state business loan program that targets depressed downtown areas is being criticized for “mission creep,” going outside its original intent by helping to finance businesses in more affluent areas, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

ROCKY GAP REVENUES: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-New reports that while early revenues at the Rocky Gap Casino Resort were lower than expected, things seem to be improving, owner Lakes Entertainment president and CFO said in a statement.

OPEN SEATS ON COURT: At least three attorneys from Baltimore City are among the lawyers and judges being considered for a spot on Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals, Gary Haber reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. The court has two openings as a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley earlier this year.

HOSPITAL SETTLES FEDERAL CLAIM: Maryland General Hospital has entered into a $750,000 agreement with the federal government to settle claims that it overbilled Medicare and Medicaid for cardiac scans that measure the amount of blood in the heart, reports Andrea Walker in the Sun. The Baltimore hospital, which is part of the University of Maryland Medical System, is accused of taking single scans and then billing for multiple procedures over six years.

RURAL COALITION SUCCESS: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post writes that the 10-county partnership founded with the help of Commissioners President Blaine Young and partially funded by Frederick County boasted a 44% success rate in its recent state lobbying efforts. The first report for the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition also shows it has spent $27,500 on lobbyists and $8,579 hosting events for state lawmakers since the group was founded in December 2011.

DELANEY TO PUSH MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: U.S. Rep. John Delaney, the newest member of Maryland’s congressional delegation, announced Monday that he would draw upon personal funds to launch a campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage in next year’s legislative session, the Post’s John Wagner reports.

O’MALLEY AS PRESIDENT: In trying to explain why Gov. Martin O’Malley thinks he is qualified to be president, Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that, like it or not, O’Malley has a record of accomplishment. It is not without its blemishes, but it’s the kind of record that will appeal to progressive voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

ALLEGANY RACES: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News outlines Allegany County’s General Assembly and county commission races thus far.

FREDERICK MAYOR’S RACE: The well-known Democrats in Frederick’s race for mayor have raised and spent far more than the Republicans, with the primary election less than a month away, writes Jen Bondeson for the Frederick News-Post. State Del. Galen Clagett and city Alderwoman Karen Young each brought in more than $50,000,

PUBLIC FINANCING: After weeks of protests, the Baltimore City Council granted preliminary approval Monday evening to more than $100 million in public financing for the upscale Harbor Point development, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. In an 11-3 vote, with one abstaining, the council authorized bonds to pay for the project’s infrastructure and for nearby parks. The body will take a final vote on the subsidy next month, when approval is expected.

The Sun has a long editorial on the pros and cons of the Harbor Point subsidies.

ARUNDEL POLICE PROBE: Following a three-month investigation, an independent task force found “no new allegations” of criminal activity in the Anne Arundel County Police Department, but recommended a series of changes in the way the agency operates, reports Ben Weathers for the Capital-Gazette. County Executive Laura Neuman formed the six-member task force in May after receiving dozens of anonymous complaints about the department.

FED HOUSING AID FOR ARUNDEL: Jack Lambert of the Capital-Gazette reports that Anne Arundel County will receive more than $2.5 million from the federal government to improve public housing in the county.

  • RadDad1

    Looks like the governor’s race is starting to heat up! But rather than a higher minimum wage at the state level, it would be nice if Rep. Delaney would make the federal government work better. For example, look at the mess in the Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Baltimore. It consistently ranks as one of the worst in the nation.