State Roundup, December 5, 2016

Print More

CARSON PICKED FOR HUD: President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an unconventional choice that underscores Trump’s willingness to forgo traditional policy expertise in some Cabinet positions to surround himself with allies, Elise Viebeck and Karoun Demirjian report in the Sun.

Dirk Haire

Dirk Haire

NEW GOP CHAIR: Dirk Haire, longtime counsel to the Maryland Republican Party and to the campaign of Gov. Larry Hogan, will be the state GOP’s chairman for the next two years. Haire beat runner-up William Campbell by a 4-1 margin in the leadership election Saturday, said Joe Cluster, the state party’s executive director, writes Scott Dance for the Sun. Campbell is a former Amtrak official who has run for state comptroller.

FRACKING BAN OR MORATORIUM? Maryland fracking opponents are pushing hard for a state law to prohibit the controversial gas-extraction method, but lawmakers seem more likely to extend the existing moratorium on the practice during the upcoming legislative session, reports Josh Hicks in the Post.

BAIL ASSESSMENTS: Maryland lawmakers plan to introduce legislation this coming session requiring judges to assess bail on defendants only as a last resort to ensure their appearance at trial and only in an amount they can afford, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record. The lawmakers’ concerns have been sparked by reports that judges have imposed bail on defendants beyond their financial means.

SEX ASSAULTS: In an investigation for the Sun, Catherine Rentz and Alison Knezevich report that jurisdictions across Maryland have relatively high rates at which sexual assaults are deemed unfounded. Police departments in the state collectively concluded that 14% of all sexual assault cases were unfounded in 2014 — a rate that was twice the national average.

RUTHERFORD LAMBASTED: Amid an uptick in hate speech following the divisive presidential election, Republican Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford said this week that he’d rather people “show their real colors than hide.” Rutherford was tweeting in response to state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, who had tweeted that she was “shocked” by Rutherford’s lack of awareness about the root of recent anti-Semitic vandalism, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.

CORPORATE WELFARE WORKS: Political pundit Barry Rascovar, writing in MarylandReporter.com, opines that Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr. may not have supported or voted for President-elect Donald Trump but they agree on one thing: Corporate welfare works. Throwing money and tax breaks at Northrop Grumman, Marriott International and United Technologies did the trick this past week – along with a good deal of loud, Trumpian threats in the case of UT’s subsidiary, Carrier Corp., in Indiana.

CHANGES IN SENATE: WYPR’s Fraser Smith talks about the change of heart from Prince George’s County Sen. Ulysses Currie and the upcoming change in membership as a result of the election with Daily Record government reporter Bryan Sears.

HOGAN MEETS NEW CITY COUNCIL: Gov. Larry Hogan met with a group of incoming Baltimore City Council members Friday to discuss tearing down vacant properties and luring businesses to the city using tax credits, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun. At Jimmy’s Restaurant in Fells Point, the Republican governor said he invited the freshmen Democrats to breakfast to open lines of communication to get bipartisan goals accomplished in the city.

ST. JOHN’s TO SHIELD: St. John’s College has joined almost 500 colleges across the country to support a federal program that shields students from deportation, clashing with President-elect Donald Trump, Cindy Huang reports for the Annapolis Capital.

CARDIN SEEKS APOLOGY: John Fritze of the Sun reports that Sen. Ben Cardin has called on Secretary of State John Kerry to formally apologize to hundreds of federal government employees who were fired decades ago for their perceived sexual orientation in what came to be known as the lavender scare. “There is little we can do to undo hurts and wrongs of the past,” Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to Kerry in a letter dated Nov. 29 and released publicly on Friday. “But we can take steps to assure that the lessons of these episodes are learned and remembered.”

ODs IN ARUNDEL: With less than one month left in 2016, the number of people killed by heroin and opioid overdoses in Annapolis and Anne Arundel has surpassed that of the past two years combined, writes Ben Weathers for the Annapolis Capital. County police Chief Timothy Altomare provided the latest overdose numbers during a phone interview Friday morning. While Altomare touted County Executive Steve Schuh’s multifaceted approach to combating heroin by using public health and educational resources in addition to law enforcement, the police chief conceded that the drug continues to pose a significant challenge in the county.

POOH-POOHING CHARTER GOV’T: Frederick County Councilman Billy Shreve says the county’s nearly 2-year-old form of charter government is broken and “the worst form of government anyone could ever have.” For Shreve, along with fellow Republicans Kirby Delauter and Tony Chmelik, it sure is. Shreve said the council has accomplished nothing in the two years since its formation. But that’s not the opinion of a majority of the council, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News Post.

PG PAYOUTS IN ACCIDENTS: Prince George’s County paid nearly $7,000 to the owner of a sport-utility vehicle that Council member Mel Franklin rear-ended in 2012 while driving a county-issued SUV, reports Arelis Hernandez in the Post. Gerardo Loredo said he was heading home to New Jersey when the GMC Yukon he was driving was struck from behind by Franklin on the Capital Beltway. The impact injured Loredo’s brother and propelled the vehicle about 30 feet forward, crunching its frame. It was the second of at least three collisions involving county-issued vehicles driven by Franklin over the past four years, county records show.

ARRESTS IN SPECTOR ATTACK: Baltimore City police have arrested a second teenager in the attack and attempted carjacking of Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector last week in a South Baltimore parking garage. The 13-year-old boy was picked up by police at a family member’s home at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He has been charged as a juvenile with attempted robbery and first- and second-degree assault, Andrea McDaniels writes in the Sun.

NATIONAL HARBOR CASINO: The MGM National Harbor glows a shiny white at night, rising above the Potomac River like — its architect has suggested — a vast ship sailing into a dock. That ship arrives for gamblers and D.C.-area boosters Thursday night when MGM opens the casino and resort beside Interstate 95 at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The company expects it will become not only a regional destination but a global one, writes Jeff Barker in the Sun.