November 18, 2013

State Roundup, November 18, 2013

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MANUFACTURING LOSSES: The General Motors factory in Baltimore, the Solo Cup plant in Owings Mills and the steel mill at Sparrows Point all made things for decades. And all closed in the past 10 years. It’s a familiar tale for much of the country. But Maryland’s manufacturing job losses — the result of cutbacks, shutdowns and technological innovations requiring fewer people — are among the nation’s steepest, Jamie Smith Hopkins reports for the Sun.

SPENDING LIMITS: The state legislature’s fiscal staff last week told lawmakers that mounting debt must be weighed before they consider cutting taxes or increasing spending during the 2014 General Assembly session, reports Alex Jackson for the Capital-Gazette.

BORROWING LIMITS: And the editorial board of the Sun opines that there is too much uncertainty about Maryland’s finances to endorse even a small increase in the borrowing limit next year.

INFLATED READING SCORES: Liz Bowie of the Sun reports that Maryland’s scores on a national reading test may have been inflated because the state’s schools excluded a higher percentage of special-education students than any other state. The National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the test, estimates that Maryland’s scores were 7 points higher for fourth-grade reading and 5 points higher for eighth-grade reading because of the exclusion.

VIOLENCE PREVENTION: Five years later, police credit the Violence Prevention Initiative, a state program designed to control some of the community’s most dangerous criminals, with helping bring violent crime in Anne Arundel County down to some of its lowest levels in years, Sara Blumberg reports in the Capital-Gazette.

The Violence Prevention Initiative is being more heavily used by law enforcement in Anne Arundel County, although the number of probation agents in the program isn’t growing, reports Jack Lambert for the Capital-Gazette.

AFZALI REJECTS ALTERNATE SEAT: Del. Kathy Afzali on Friday rejected an invitation to serve as an alternate member on the county task force discussing local growth issues, Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News-Post. She had volunteered to join the work group, but Sen. David Brinkley asked Del. Galen Clagett to take a seat on the panel instead. Brinkley questioned Afzali’s impartiality on the issue of creating a transfer tax, an idea she has said she opposes.

BENTLEY FETED: Former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley is honored as her 90th birthday nears for years of work in the private and public sectors to help the Port of Baltimore, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski said even she was shown the path by Bentley once or twice. She pointed to her “intrepid nature” and her “unique voice,” a raspy and forceful intonation much impersonated throughout the day, writes Meredith Cohn in the Sun.

O’MALLEY IN NH: Gov. Martin O’Malley used an address in New Hampshire on Saturday to compare the city he inherited as mayor in 1999 with the nation many believe he hopes to lead, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 presidential run, told a crowd of close to 1,000 party activists in Manchester, N.H., that the city he sought to lead had succumbed to a “culture of failure,” with open-air drug markets, a soaring murder count and citizens “wallowing in a sense that nothing would work,” John Wagner reports in the Post.

O’Malley wants Americans to “Believe,” perhaps in him as a presidential candidate, James Briggs writes in the Baltimore Business Journal. O’Malley on Saturday spoke at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual dinner and dusted off his 2002 “Believe” campaign, BuzzFeed reports.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

AFSCME BACKS FROSH: Maryland’s largest state employees’ union will throw its support behind Sen. Brian Frosh in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Frosh, the chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, previously won the endorsement of the Maryland-D.C. AFL-CIO Council, the umbrella organization for labor in the region, writes John Wagner for the Post.

FROSH SPEAKS: In Part II of Center Maryland’s discussion with Brian Frosh, a candidate for Attorney General, Frosh talks about how the Attorney General can help keep Maryland business competitive, recent legislative successes and his strategy on the campaign trail.

GANSLER’S SHADOW: Since April, gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler has been tailed at news conferences and policy summits, along parade routes, at coffee shops, in restaurants and around college campuses. Every public comment and nearly every conversation has been recorded by full-time political tracker Jeff Moring and sent back to the campaign headquarters of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Gansler’s chief rival in the Democratic primary for governor, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.

GANSLER’S LUMPS: In an interview with John Wagner of the Post on Saturday, Gansler acknowledged that he had taken some lumps but said he is confident that he can regain his footing and “win comfortably” in a June primary against Lt. Gov. Brown and Del. Heather Mizeur.

ULMAN TO FUND-RAISE DURING SESSION: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, the gubernatorial running mate of Lt. Gov. Brown, plans to continue raising money during Maryland’s upcoming legislative session, aides confirmed Friday, John Wagner reports in the Post.

MIZEUR AT CHURCH: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur brought her insurgent candidacy to Baltimore City’s eastside Sunday, visiting an African-American church led by a close friend of her newly named running mate, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

WHY MIZEUR MATTERS: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland talk about why Heather Mizeur’s  campaign for governor is reminiscent of Bill de Blasio’s run for mayor of New York City.

CARDIN TO BACK BROWN: Lt. Gov. Brown will pick up an endorsement of his gubernatorial bid today from U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.

VOTE PANDERING: Barry Rascovar, in MarylandReporter.com, writes that the bidding race is on. Democratic candidates for governor are seeking to one-up each other on new programs and tax cuts. All ignore the fact Maryland’s finances are unsteady and could continue that way. Yet none of the Democratic candidates wants to face that reality. Instead, they pander to voters.

PANTELIDES’ ANNAPOLIS: Mike Pantelides can’t go anywhere these days without being stopped. Walking down Main Street to a meeting, he meets people offering ideas. At a post-workout stop at the drugstore, someone wants to talk to him. In the Market House, a merchant offers a fresh fruit smoothie — on the house, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun. That’s what comes with being mayor of Annapolis, population 38,620. It’s a city small enough that residents get to know their politicians on a first-name basis, and they aren’t shy about voicing concerns.

JONES PUSHES ON: Asked about his time in prison, his feelings on being kicked off the Anne Arundel County Council or his struggle to regain his law license, Daryl Jones has the same response: He doesn’t look back. “I’ll continue to fight and push forward,” Jones tells Pamela Wood of the Sun.

MAYOR HEADS TO CANAL:Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to travel with Vice President Joe Biden to tour the Panama Canal expansion project this week, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

HARBOR POINT PROJECT: The Beatty Development Group has promised to conduct new air monitoring tests and follow other environmental requirements to win federal and state approval of the Harbor Point project. At a community meeting in Fells Point Thursday, the developer expressed optimism that groundbreaking of the $1 billion office and apartment complex would take place over the winter, Mark Reutter and Fern Shen report in Baltimore Brew.