July 18, 2014

State Roundup, July 18, 2014

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Jennifer Bevan-Dangel cuts cake
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel cuts cake

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, cuts a birthday cake honoring Elbridge Gerry, the 19th Century Massachusetts governor whose gave his name to “gerrymandering,” the drawing of congressional districts for partisan gain. For the second year in a row, the local chapters of Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the National Council of Jewish Women celebrated Gerry’s birthday in Lawyer’s Mall at the State House to support reform of the redistricting process in Maryland. The state’s congressional districts are some of the most gerrymandered in the nation.

STOP THE GERRYMANDERING: There was cake and ice cream and talk of reform in the state capital to celebrate the 240th birthday of a man whose name is synonymous with political shenanigans and contorted election districts, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Elbridge Gerry, the Massachusetts governor and merchant and Revolutionary War-era diplomat, was front and center Thursday in front of the Maryland State House as a coalition of good government groups called on the governor and General Assembly to reform how congressional and state legislative districts are drawn every 10 years.

FUNDING THE RED LINE:  Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that local funding requirements aren’t the only issue nagging the proposed Red Line light rail line, but it’s becoming obvious it’s a major sticking point for some officials. State Sen. Bill Ferguson, who represents South and Southeast Baltimore, said proposed alterations to the light rail route near Harbor East and the associated cost remain substantial obstacles to the project.

  • As Baltimore’s planned light rail Red Line comes down the home stretch in the process of gaining final approval for approximately $1 billion in federal funding, it’s increasingly apparent to transportation advocates and elected leaders in the region that the process of funding major transportation projects isn’t what it used to be, writes Donald Fry in Center Maryland. There was a time decades ago when local elected leaders could rely on federal funding for up to 80% of the cost of a major transit project like the Red Line, with the state kicking in the rest. But that was then, this is now.

ASYLUM FOR IMMIGRANT CHILDREN: Catholic Charities wants to care for about 50 children from Central America at a campus in Baltimore County, seeking a role in the immigration crisis even though the consideration of other sites in Maryland has met with fierce local opposition, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun.

A PARDON AND COMPENSATION: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that while Gov. Martin O’Malley travels the country helping out fellow Democrats and touting himself in his bid to become president, he needs to make right back at home, with a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder. While O’Malley commuted Mark Farley Grant’s conviction, he didn’t pardon him nor did he ever give him the deserved compensation.

GAMBLING ON CASINOS: Opinionator Barry Rascovar, in his politicalmaryland.com blog writes about Atlantic City, its oversaturated and now dying casino industry and the rise of Maryland’s casinos.

BAY CLEANUP: The most recent analysis by the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program office shows that Maryland is on target to meet the 2025 Bay restoration goals. In fact, Maryland is ahead of schedule, according to an opinion piece by the Maryland Farm Bureau in the Cumberland Times-News. A look at the agricultural sector shows that Maryland farmers are reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

ACTING LIKE A CANDIDATE: Ruby Cramer of Buzzfeed writes that the odds aren’t great against Hillary Clinton, but the Democratic governor from Maryland is doing the actual things people do before running for president: donors, new policies, campaign travel, distance from Obama.

DINOSAUR POLITICS: In Capital Gazette Politics, a video discussion of reporters at the Annapolis Capital, staff discusses an Anne Arundel council candidate’s donation of a dinosaur to a creationism museum among other items.

ARUNDEL’S SCHOOL BOARD PROCESS: Meagan Simonaire, a candidate for delegate in District 31B, is calling on the School Board Nominating Commission to ask candidates about their political ambitions. The Republican from Pasadena said that if she is elected she wants to introduce legislation changing the process that selects the members of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, reports Zoe Read for the Annapolis Capital.

ENERGY AUDIT IN CARROLL: The Carroll County Board of Commissioners signed off on a $125,000 energy performance audit Thursday that, when completed, is supposed to help the county save money on energy costs. The contract was awarded to Johnson Controls, a company specializing in identifying and improving energy efficiency in work spaces. The company will review energy uses in between 30 and 35 buildings, reports Christian Alexandersen for the Carroll County Times.

 

  • I look forward to the day when my county has its own congressional district again, and isn’t sliced up into three pieces going all the way to the western end of the state, the Pennsylvania line, and Chesapeake Bay. The 3rd congressional district is an obscenity.