State Roundup, September 17, 2015

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HOGAN BLASTS KAMENETZ OVER HOT SCHOOLS: Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot plan to summon Baltimore County leaders to Annapolis to explain why so many school children are still sweltering in classrooms with no air conditioning. Erin Cox and Pamela Wood of the Sun report that the governor called the situation “absolutely disgraceful and unacceptable,” saying “there’s no excuse” for the county’s still not having installed air conditioning in more than four dozen schools.

BPW QUESTIONS O’MALLEY CONTRACT: Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on Wednesday questioned whether to extend a four-year-old state contract with a technology company, saying the firm’s decision to pay former Gov.  Martin O’Malley for a series of speeches this spring could be seen as a conflict of interest, writes Josh Hicks in the Post. O’Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, was paid $148,000 by the California-based Environmental Systems Research Institute for a series of speeches and consulting services. The company received $3 million from the state to provide mapping software for the O’Malley administration’s effort to use data and technology to guide policy decisions.

  • As part of the speaking contract, O’Malley delivered the keynote address at ESRI’s annual user conference in San Diego in July, said Christian Carlson, a representative from the company who addressed the board. “Hope that was a hell of a speech,” Hogan remarked. A spokeswoman for O’Malley would not directly address the speech-contract details, but said ESRI’s relationship with the city of Baltimore and state of Maryland predate the former governor’s tenure, writes CNS’s Darcy Costello for MarylandReporter.com.
Tim Hyman, with Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, was honored as the longest serving state employee at the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday. He worked as a photographer for the State Roads Commission and State Highway Administration for 66 years. In one of his earliest assignments, he documented the construction of the first Bay bridge.

Tim Hyman, with Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, was honored as the longest serving state employee at the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday. He worked as a photographer for the State Roads Commission and State Highway Administration for 66 years. In one of his earliest assignments, he documented the construction of the first Bay bridge.

CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: The Civil War divided many communities and families in Maryland, according to state historians, and mementos venerating forces for both the South and the North began to appear throughout the state in the early 1900s. Now, however, communities around the Old Line State are drawing upon old lines and asking officials to reconsider monuments tied to slavery or the Confederacy four months after the racially motivated killings of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Marissa Horn of CNS writes in MarylandReporter.com.

VOTE ON DOUGLASS STATUE: Maryland’s Board of Public Works was scheduled to vote on a $100,000 grant for a memorial to abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The board will vote Wednesday on the proposed grant from Maryland Historical Trust’s African American Heritage Preservation Program, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

MD. LEGISLATORS REMEMBER DEL. PROCTOR: Del. James Proctor, who represented Prince George’s and Calvert County for more than 20 years and died suddenly Sept. 8 is fondly remembered by legislative colleagues, writes Sarah Fleischman in the Calvert Recorder.

SQUASHING SEAFOOD FRAUD: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and a contingent of Virginia lawmakers are urging President Obama to expand efforts to squash seafood fraud. They wrote a letter to the president on Monday asking him to broaden traceability of seafood imports in the country. Catherine Rentz of the Sun reports that Chesapeake-area seafood operators have complained to Mikulski and other federal officials that fraudulent labeling of foreign crab as local Chesapeake crab is hurting their industry.

O’MALLEY PROBES COLO. POT INDUSTRY: Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley is meeting with the marijuana industry in Colorado as he promotes his plan to see the federal government soften its prohibition on the drug. According to an AP report at WBFF-TV, O’Malley scheduled a meeting with several people in the new pot industry, along with state regulators. The former Maryland governor has said the federal government should reclassify marijuana as a controlled substance.

FREDERICK GOP VIEWS PRES DEBATE: Republicans from Frederick County gathered Wednesday night to watch their party’s second presidential candidates’ debate, Mike Persley reports for the Frederick News Post. Members of the Frederick County Young Republicans, as well as several state and local officials, met at Milo’s Pizza and Pasta in New Market for a viewing party that did little to unify party members around a single candidate.

MATTHEWS STANDS ON DEM CREDS: Facing a roomful of local Democratic Party activists Tuesday, Kathleen Matthews served up a large helping of her biography for breakfast—as she sought to assure the gathering of her credentials as a Democratic progressive, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.

SRB PR CHIEF MOVES TO PEACE CORPS: Kevin R. Harris, who for the last two years has been Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s communications director, will leave City Hall this Friday for a job with the Obama administration as a deputy communications director for the Peace Corps, Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

BA CO COPS TO USE BODY CAMS: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Police Chief Jim Johnson will unveil plans Thursday to equip county police officers with body cameras, according to officials who were briefed on the plans write Alison Knezevich and Pamela Wood in the Sun. The program is likely to be phased in over three years and cost roughly $7 million, officials said.

RED LINE CANCELLATION LEAVES SOME HANGING: More than 90 minutes into a Tuesday panel discussion on mass-transit planning in the wake of the canceled Red Line light rail extension, Cynthia Shaw raised her hand. “What do we do now?” said Shaw, 70, a West Baltimore homeowner of nearly 40 years. Since 2000, Shaw persuaded neighbors to get on board and worked with the Maryland Transit Administration to plan new lighting and landscaping, and façade improvements for the barber shop, salon and deli at the proposed station’s intersection, writes Emily Bregel in the Baltimore Business Journal.It all evaporated this summer when Gov. Larry Hogan canceled the plans for the Red Line.

HOSPITAL CLOSINGS IN PG: Maryland elected officials and a health care union announced an emergency bill Tuesday that would empower the Prince George’s County Council to decide whether government funded hospitals can close, writes Andrew Michaels in the Sun. The bill is being proposed less than two months after Dimensions Health System disclosed a controversial plan to close Laurel Regional Hospital.