August 15, 2013

State Roundup, August 15, 2013

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BROWN SEEKS APOLOGY FOR VOTES: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that a day after his campaign called for an apology, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Wednesday that perhaps his gubernatorial opponent Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler owes one to the voters instead. Gansler’s secretly recorded comments about race touched off a conflict between the two Democrats, who are vying for the nomination to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2014.

John Wagner of the Post quotes Brown as saying that Gansler should apologize because “Marylanders want leaders who don’t necessarily have the answers to all of the problems but are willing to bring people together in search of the solution.”

After the hour-long forum on converting excess chicken litter to a renewable energy source, Gansler rebuffed Brown’s suggestion he apologize to the voters, saying his remarks were taken out of context, reports Erin Cox for the Sun. “What would I apologize to the voters for?” he asked.

Jeff Abell at WBFF-TV also reports on the Gansler controversy.

GANSLER’S BIGGER GAFFE: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that the worst thing about Doug Gansler’s big gaffe – being caught on tape saying that Anthony Brown is counting on the fact that he is black to get elected – is that he has marginalized whomever he decides to select as his running mate. On that same tape, Gansler says he will choose an African-American from Baltimore City or Prince George’s County to be his candidate for lieutenant governor. No ifs, ands or buts.

MORE POLITICAL GAFFES: The Sun puts together a nice photo-info package of other political gaffes that have made the news in Maryland politics.

MILLER ON GOVERNOR’S RACE: Senate President Mike Miller appears on Center Maryland’s video show to talk about the competitive Democratic primary for governor. He also shares his opinion on the comments made by the attorney general about race and the lieutenant governor.

CHICKEN WASTE TO ENERGY: Attorney General Doug Gansler on Wednesday touted the promise of converting chicken waste into an alternative energy source as he held the latest in a series of events to discuss policy ideas he would pursue as governor, reports John Wagner for the Post.

Gansler clarified that poultry litter is not just manure, but the wood chips and other byproducts that result from raising chickens, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. Companies such as Perdue have begun recycling poultry litter by burning it or using other ways to break it down and convert it to energy.

MACO EXPENSE: Baltimore City and many county governments are sending at least a dozen employees to Maryland Association of Counties conference this weekend. So are many state agencies that host booths in the exhibit halls. With the average hotel rate at about $250 a night and registration fees ranging from $285 to $415, the conference is not cheap. Taxpayers are picking up the tab for many of these workers – as they visit the beach resort town at the height of tourist season, reports John Rydell for WBFF-TV.

HOSKINS APPOINTED TO PSC: Gov. Martin O’Malley has appointed Anne Hoskins to serve on the Maryland Public Service Commission, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The governor announced the appointment on Wednesday to fill a vacancy created when Commissioner Kevin Hughes was named chairman.

DEL. SCHULZ SEEKS VOTER PROBE: Del. Kelly Schulz has called on state leaders to launch an investigation based on an election integrity group’s report identifying 173 cases of interstate voter fraud in Maryland and Florida, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

STATE DATA DISSATISFACTION: Meg Tully of MarylandReporter.com writes that two-thirds of voters are not satisfied with the information they get about Maryland laws, regulations and taxes, according to the results of a mobile phone survey being released Thursday by the OpenGov Foundation. OpenGov, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on using technology to make public information more accessible, also found that 78% of Maryland voters want advance notification about Maryland policies that will impact them.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY VOTING RECORDS:The website Maryland Legislative Watch has released newly aggregated voting records for each delegate and senator in the General Assembly, blogs Meg Tully for MarylandReporter.com. Previously, those votes were not available by member, said founder and coordinator Elizabeth Myers.

PENSION MYSTERIES SOLVED: Readers help Barry Rascovar of politicalmaryland.com clear up the confusion behind Maryland’s big pension screw up and the mini-mysteries surrounding it.

SIGNAGE DISPUTE: Jane Bellmyer of the Cecil Whig reports that the Maryland State Highway Administration made changes to one of its signage programs to help towns promote tourist attractions. But one Perryville official says the Tourist Area and Corridor Signing program still excludes the towns it claims to be helping.

RODRICKS ON FREDERICK COUNTY: A federal appeals court ruling that Frederick County deputies had no basis to arrest or even briefly detain a dishwasher who was eating lunch outside her place of work. Immigration advocates says she was racially profiled as part of the Frederick sheriff’s involvement in a federal program that has led to the deportation of hundreds of undocumented workers. Dan Rodricks of WYPR discusses the tactics and issues with Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, Jose Perez, an attorney with LatinoJustice who litigated the case, Blaine Young, commissioner for Frederick County, and Kim Propeack, political director of CASA de Maryland.

Rodricks also writes a column for the Sun in which he lauds Frederick County for its embrace of the local farm and food scene but adds that with Frederick’s government lauding its reputation as being hostile to illegal immigrants – some of them likely farm and food service workers – it just might not be worth going the distance even for good food.

HEALTH EXCHANGE FORUM: A marketing blitz by the Anne Arundel County Department of Health brought a full house to Glen Burnie for a forum on federal health care laws, the Capital-Gazette’s Jack Lambert reports. The combative and engaged crowd of nearly 130 people packed a meeting room Tuesday night to hear from officials from the health department and the nonprofit tasked with enrolling county residents in new state-administered insurance plans.

LOCAL ELECTIONS MATTER: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette opines that local elections, like the one Annapolis is about to hold for mayor and City Council, have the most immediate impact on our neighborhoods and the quality of our lives. And since the number of voters is relatively small, they are the ones in which each individual voter has the loudest voice. Yet these are usually the elections with the worst turnouts. Go figure.

JACK GERMOND DIES: Jack Germond, the irascible, portly columnist and commentator who was a fixture on the American political scene for nearly 50 years, including nearly 20 of them in the Sun’s Washington bureau, died Wednesday morning of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in Charles Town, W.Va. He was 85. Fred Rasmussen of the Sun writes his obituary. There’s a short video interview with Germond in of the obit, recorded just last year.

In this remembrance for the Sun, political columnist Jules Witcover writes, that even before they teamed up to write a newspaper column at the old Washington Star and then at The Baltimore Sun, and eventually to write four books on presidential campaigns, Jack was in the vanguard of holding politicians’ feet to the fire. He retained a skepticism about what they told him, but with respect for the best of them and a genuine affection for the many bad boys.