August 28, 2014

State Roundup, August 28, 2014

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CASINO IMPACT FUNDS: Even after excluding the $3 million that the city has set aside to pay Caesars Entertainment for a relocated steam pipeline, the vast majority of first-year casino impact funds earmarked for 19 South Baltimore neighborhoods won’t be going to those communities, Mark Reutter reports in Baltimore Brew. A Brew analysis of the $10 million expected to be raised this year in impact funds from the Horseshoe Casino – which officially opened Tuesday – shows that $3.85 million will be allocated for city services (police, sanitation, security cameras, traffic control, medics) directly supporting the casino.

MORE TRANSPARENCY: As the state looks for ways to increase transparency and public access to information, a good first step would be to reprimand state employees and agency heads who set up roadblocks or outright fail to comply with Maryland’s public record laws, the Carroll County Times says in an editorial. “The Council on Open Data’s first priority should be getting state agencies to comply with existing open records laws. Despite O’Malley’s claims of transparency, achieving that seemingly simple goal has been beyond his administration’s reach.”

POLL ANALYSIS: Richard Cross gives his analysis of last week’s GOP poll, and the prospects for upcoming election.

CAMPAIGN SPENDING: The Sun has a good graphic depiction of the total spending on the governor’s race for the primary. It includes an interactive chart of the $25 million in spending by category.

KITTLEMAN VS. WATSON: Republican Howard County executive candidate Allan Kittleman posted strong fundraising numbers Tuesday, outraising Democratic opponent Courtney Watson by more than a three to one margin, Amanda Yeager reports in the Sun/Howard County Times. Kittleman, a state senator from West Friendship, reported raising $107,457 between June 9 and Aug. 18. Watson, a County Council member from Ellicott City, reported $30,976 in funds raised. However, Watson maintained the financial advantage, with more than twice the amount of cash on hand. She has $644,243 in the bank, compared with Kittleman’s $308,965.

SELF-FUNDING: Several Democratic candidates pursuing nominations for state legislature in the June primary poured in hefty amounts of their personal assets in the closing days of the campaign – but nevertheless fell short, according to reports filed this week with the state Board of Elections. Lou Peck of Bethesda Magazine has a detailed report on these Montgomery County candidates.

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS: Lauren Loricchio of the Catonsville and Arbutus Times profiles two Baltimore County school board members from the southwest area of the county, George Moniodis and Mike Bowler, a former Sun reporter.

MID-TERM ELECTIONS: Vox’s Ezra Klein has an analysis of the mid-term elections, including the likelihood that Republicans will take over the U.S. Senate and the importance of local and state elections this year. (Hat tip to the Conduit St. blog)

BAY FARMLAND: Careful plans for restoring the Chesapeake and its rivers to health are good. They would be better, writes Tom Horton in MarylandReporter.com, if we recognized and planned for the things we know we can’t control, such as the recent increase in farmland.

PURPLE LINE LAWSUIT: A Washington-area trail users’ group and a pair of environmental advocates have filed suit to block the Purple Line, contending the $2.4 billion light-rail project in the DC suburbs threatens to harm two species of endangered crustaceans that live in the creek the transit line would cross, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE: When Jeffrey N. Pritzker ran in the 2002 primary for attorney general, his love of — and frustration with — Maryland got him into the race, Kate Alexander writes in the Gazette. Now, 12 years later, a similar love and frustration has the Republican running again — this time, “to see if I can make a difference,” he said.

RUNNING AGAINST FRANCHOT: Kate Alexander of the Gazette profiles Bill Campbell, the Republican running against Comptroller Peter Franchot. The financial expert is particularly concerned with the state’s pension liability.

WHERE THE FBI LIVES: A new study finds that higher proportion of FBI employees, 43%, live in Maryland than anywhere else in the region, possibly giving the state an edge in the competition for the new FBI headquarters, Tucker Echols reports in the Washington Business Journal via WTOP.

EPA AUTHORITY: A new rule proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will give the agency authority over 19,000 miles of streams and other “intermittent” or “ephemeral” bodies of water in Maryland, Mark Newgent reports in Red Maryland. Hydrography maps provided to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee by the EPA detail the scope of the proposed rule.

PG’S BAKER TO CHINA: Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker III (D) next week will lead his first trade mission to China, hoping to attract foreign investment for his ambitious economic development plans, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Washington Post. During their nine-day trip, the delegation will visit Beijing and Shanghai and participate in a conference in Xiamen that thousands of foreign investors are expected to attend.

MAILER SUES BONGINO: A northern Virginia direct mail marketing group is suing congressional candidate Dan Bongino and his fundraising committee for unpaid bills relating to his 6th District race, Danielle Gaines reports in the Frederick News-Post. The Waters Agency LLC filed a suit for $14,137 plus interest in the District Court for Frederick County, where Citizens for Bongino is headquartered.

WashCo ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: After searching for the better part of a year, Washington County has selected a former state economic development official to head its Department of Business Development, county officials announced Tuesday, according to CJ Lovelace in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Kathleen “Kassie” Lewis was introduced in her new position during the weekly Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting.

SALISBURY COUNCIL: A retired executive with experience leading both for-profit and nonprofit enterprises became Salisbury’s newest City Council member Wednesday, the Salisbury Times reports. John “Jack” Heath, 68, who was appointed by the council from a pool of a dozen candidates, said he would lean on his decades of business experience to help revive the city’s ailing economy.

  • MCE Watch

    With respect to “More transparency,” what we need to do is make it a criminal offense punishable by fines and removal from office for ANY government employee or official to deny access to a record that the law says is open. And no ignorance excuses. Ignorance of the law is not an adequate defense for common people. Government employees charged with carrying out the laws should be held to the same or a higher standard.