August 29, 2013

State Roundup, August 29, 2013

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PURPLE LINE: Jamie Anfenson-Comeau of the Gazette offers a verbal virtual ride along the proposed Purple Line running from Bethesda to New Carrollton to discover the impact the 16-mile, $2.2 billion light rail line will have on Prince George’s County. Here’s an interactive map of the Purple Line. And here’s more information on the proposal, reported by Kara Rose and Anfenson-Comeau.

POKER ROOM OK’D: Maryland gambling regulators on Wednesday approved Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall’s application to open a poker room, an expected but needed sign-off that came just hours before the Cordish Cos. planned to begin opening ceremonies, reports Alexander Pyles in the Daily Record.

FROSTBURG FAILS ON FACILITY: Charlie Hayward of MarylandReporter.com reports that a state audit found that Frostburg State University paid for construction of a $2 million Sustainable Energy Research Facility without documenting the reason for its site-selection decision, without obtaining required approvals from the Board of Public Works or the university system and without requiring the developer to competitively bid construction.

YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL: Comptroller Peter Franchot wants to extend summer vacation beyond Labor Day as a boost to the state’s economy. In an op-ed for the Sun, Elizabeth Heubeck has a different and, at first glance, fairly drastic idea. Make school year-round, with a greater number of shorter breaks throughout the 12-month period.

YOUTH CHARGED AS ADULTS: Maryland has 33 offenses that if charged send a youth directly into adult criminal proceedings, no matter the circumstances, opines Jason Tashea in an op-ed in the Sun. Between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2011, not one youth under the age of 18 in Baltimore City got to vote in a local election, join the military or rent a car; however, 907 were charged and held as adults by our criminal justice system. This needs to end, he writes.

ERODING BUSINESS CLIMATE: Del. Mike McDermott, in an op-ed in the Salisbury Daily Times, says that over the years of the O’Malley administration, the state’s business climate has eroded significantly.

DEL. MINNICK TO RETIRE: There has been a Minnick representing the Dundalk area in Annapolis for all but nine years since 1966. That era will come to an end in 2014 after Del. Sonny Minnick announced his intention to not seek re-election on Monday, reports Bill Gates for the Dundalk Eagle. “After 23 years, I think it’s time for me to step down, let someone else do the job,” Minnick said. “Maybe someone younger, with different ideas.”

KEEP DWYER OFF THE ROAD: The question is not just whether Del. Don Dwyer should resign from the Maryland General Assembly, as many of his colleagues have urged, opines Fraser Smith for WYPR-FM. The more immediate question is:  How do we get him off the road? Right now, he is free to be a threat to all of us, Smith says.

O’MALLEY AT MARCH: Gov. Martin O’Malley used a brief speech as part of Wednesday’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to tie the civil rights movement to a wide range of domestic policy issues, from gun control and immigration to education, gay marriage and the economy, reports John Fritze in the Sun.

He followed his speech on the Mall with an appearance on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s MSNBC program to hold up Maryland as an example of a state that is striving toward justice.

O’MALLEY’S HIGHLIGHTS: Gov. O’Malley on Wednesday kicked off an autumn-long series of appearances intended to highlight his record over the past seven years and to set the stage for the final year of his administration. Wednesday’s “Better Choices, Better Results” event included a give-and-take with business leaders and allowed a campaign plug for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown — O’Malley’s choice to succeed him.

The Dagger runs a press release response from the House Republican Caucus, written by House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, on the O’Malley tour.

HOW GOP CAN WIN: Political science professor Todd Eberly explains in his most recent blog post how he believes that Republicans have won the governor’s mansion in the past and how they can do it in 2014.

HARRIS TOURS SHORE MED CENTER: Jordan Schatz of the Easton Star-Democrat reports that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris met with hospital officials at Queen Anne’s County Emergency Center last week to observe firsthand the state-of-the-art medical facility that ushered in a new era of health care on the Eastern Shore.

DELANEY TALKS FARM ISSUES: Immigration, the farm bill and alternative energy were among the topics members of the agricultural community asked U.S. Rep. John Delaney about on Wednesday night, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. About 40 people, including Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, attended the event held at Rinehart Orchards’ packing house, north of Smithsburg.

BROADBAND WARNING: Seth Cooper of Free State Foundation blogs that Baltimore City should think twice before traveling down the debt-ridden, taxpayer-unfriendly path of prior municipal broadband projects. Several ambitious and much-hyped attempts by local governments to insert themselves into the broadband business have turned into financial debacles. And as a result, local government budgets are squeezed, requiring local taxpayer-funded bailouts.

LEGGETT HEADS TO CHINA: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will visit China next month, leading a delegation of business and civic leaders looking for partnership opportunities in areas such as education and biotechnology, writes Bill Turque for the Post.

ARUNDEL SCHOOL HIRING: Anne Arundel Councilmen John Grasso and Derek Fink are upset that the County Council was left out of the contract talks over the hiring of a new schools superintendent, reports Tim Pratt in the Capital Gazette. They want to avoid what happened with former schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, who made $257,000 a year and walked away with $90,000 for unused leave. State law gives the school board responsibility for hiring a superintendent and setting his or her salary.

Maryland Food Bank leaderboard

HIGHEST PAID PUBLIC EMPLOYEE: Reinforcing our annual stories on state employees making over $100,000 a year, here’s a national graphic that shows in the majority of states, like Maryland, the highest paid public employee is the university football coach.

PATCH CRASH: Edward Ericson at the City Paper has the most detailed accounting of what’s going at Patch.com, which is consolidating sites and laying off lots of folks in Maryland and the rest of the country, including some well known names. He also explains why the Patchers are so tight-lipped — they will apparently lose two months severance pay if they blab.

CITY PAPER FOR SALE: The City Paper is for sale by its Scranton, Pa. owners, and it posts a mocking and occasionally obscene list of the top 10 reasons you would want to buy a paper where only 20-year-olds can read the 8-point type.