July 17, 2015

State Roundup, July 17, 2015

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POSITION CUTS DELAYED: The three-member Board of Public Works delayed action Thursday on a proposal to cut 63 positions from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.  The proposal would represent the first job cuts under Gov. Larry Hogan, who agreed with the decision to defer the Thursday vote.

HOMELESS SHELTER: Gov. Larry Hogan and the Board of Public Works deferred a decision about funding for a controversial proposal to build a homeless shelter in Queen Anne’s County, saying officials there need to make up their minds about the project, Josh Hicks reports for the Post.

Tame the Gerrymander cake

Tame the Gerrymander cake with the 3rd Congressional District half eaten.

TAME THE GERRYMANDER: The cake and ice cream in Lawyer’s Mall at the State House Thursday was for Elbridge Gerry again. But the long-dead statesman, signer of the Declaration of Independence and 6th vice president of the United States was not being honored for his distinguished career, but for a minor political act that has outlived him. As governor of Massachusetts, he gave his name to the gerrymander, the drawing of legislative districts for partisan political gain, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

DNR POLICE CHIEF TO RETIRE: Mike Sawyers and Teresa McMinn of the Cumberland Times-News report that Col. George F. Johnson IV, Maryland Natural Resources Police superintendent, will leave his post in roughly two weeks. “He announced today that he plans to retire from state service,” said Kristen Peterson, acting director of communications for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

NEW HIGHWAY, AIRPORT CHIEFS: Gov. Larry Hogan is bringing new transportation leadership from outside of Maryland to manage the state’s roads and air travel agencies. On Thursday, Hogan appointed Gregory C. Johnson, a 32-year highway veteran, as administrator of the State Highway Administration.  Last Friday, the governor said he was replacing Paul Wiedefeld, a veteran chief executive of BWI Marshall with Ricky D. Smith Sr., a former head of operations at the airport who most recently led Cleveland International, Luz Lazo reports in the Post.

NEW ECON DEV MEMBERS: A Southern Maryland businessman is among the 11 new members of the Maryland Economic Development Commission, Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week. Among the additions to the 25-member panel is J. Blacklock Wills Jr., chairman, president and CEO of The Wills Group, an 80-year-old La Plata-based oil company and owner of the Dash In convenience stores, writes Christopher Ullery for the Charles County Independent.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE COMPLAINTS: A review of campaign finance complaints filed against Gov. Larry Hogan and former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will not likely result in a referral to the Office of the State Prosecutor. The Maryland State Board of Elections was expected to hear and possibly discuss the results of the two reviews when it met Thursday afternoon, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

TUBMAN ON THE TEN: While the U.S. Department of the Treasury seeks input for which woman should be featured on the $10 bill, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has introduced legislation into Congress that would make Harriet Tubman that woman, Josh Bollinger reports in the Easton Star Democrat.

BUY LOCAL FOOD: BLTs with Old Bay mayo. Pork bulgogyi. Honey Thyme Nitrogen Ice Cream. All of it was on the menu Thursday at Government House in Annapolis for the annual Buy Local Challenge Cookout, kicking off a week-long campaign to get Marylanders to buy and eat locally produced foods, writes Pat Furgurson for the Annapolis Capital.

HOGAN STRONG MERCHANDISE: The slogan “Hogan Strong” is spreading beyond a social media hashtag. Route One Apparel has created a Hogan Strong T-shirt. For each $25 shirt sold, $5 will go to lymphoma and leukemia research, according to the business. After Hogan’s announcement, athletes and politicians started sporting lime green wristbands in support of the governor. The political organization Change Maryland launched a website, Hoganstrong.com, to sell the bracelets, along with shirts and bumper stickers. The proceeds will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, according to its officials, Elisha Sauers reports for the Annapolis Capital.

C-SPAN CALLER ‘REVEALS’ CARDIN IS JEWISH: Josh Hicks in the Post is reporting that U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) on Wednesday lashed out at a talk show caller who suggested he should not discuss U.S. relations with Iran without disclosing his Jewish heritage. “Mr. Cardin looks like a regular white guy, nice guy, whatever, but in actuality he’s a Jewish white guy,” a C-SPAN caller said. “If the public was informed of that by C-SPAN, I think they would take his comments differently.”

THORNTON TO RUN FOR 4th: Maryland public education advocate Alvin Thornton announced Thursday that he will run for the 4th Congressional District seat, joining a crowded Democratic field in the race to succeed Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.), Arelis Hernandez is reporting in the Post.

SUPER PAC PLEDGE: Rep. Chris Van Hollen wants to keep super PACs out of the Democratic primary for Maryland’s open Senate seat, but his primary rival, Rep. Donna Edwards, does not agree, Rachel Weiner of the Post is reporting. “We can discourage outside groups and deep pocketed individuals from dumping money into Maryland,” Van Hollen wrote. “This should be a race for Marylanders.” Edwards rejected the pledge, saying in a statement that “until we have real reform, it is wrong to silence … pro-choice Democratic women, working families and progressive advocates in this campaign.”

O’MALLEY’S FINANCES: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley left office earlier this year facing a mountain of debt and scrambling to replace his $150,000-a-year salary with paid speeches and other work in the months before he launched his presidential bid, a newly released disclosure form and tax returns show, John Wagner reports for the Post.

ETHICS, OPENNESS IN FREDERICK: The Frederick County Council will soon consider a bill that would change many parts of the county’s ethics law. County Executive Jan Gardner announced Thursday that she is recommending moving forward on recommendations from an ethics task force she appointed, Jen Fifield reports for the Frederick News Post. This is about restoring trust in county government, Gardner said.

SURVIVING HEROIN: The editorial board for the Sun opines if you have a heart attack, the ER physician doesn’t just give you an aspirin and send you home. If your kidneys fail, doctors don’t throw up their hands and discharge you because they’re short on dialysis machines. But if you’re lucky enough to survive a heroin overdose, you might have to wait weeks to get an appointment at a drug treatment center, and even then you’re as likely as not to be told there are no beds available.