State Roundup, November 13, 2017

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HOGAN CALLS ON ROY MOORE TO QUIT RACE: Gov. Larry Hogan delivered his harshest criticism to date against a fellow Republican early Saturday, calling for Alabama candidate Roy Moore to withdraw from the U.S. Senate special election and breaking the silence of his state party. Maryland Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris — who endorsed Moore — were mum this past week after The Washington Post reported that the then-Alabama district attorney is alleged to have initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s.

HARRIS SILENT, THEN POSTS ON ROY MOORE: Maryland and Virginia Republicans who endorsed Roy Moore’s candidacy for U.S. Senate were silent Friday morning after accusations that Moore initiated sexual contact with minors while he was in his 30s, writes Jenna Portnoy for the Post. The Post reported allegations that Moore initiated contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Alabama and pursued three other females between the ages of 16 and 18. Moore denies any wrongdoing.

SPEECHWRITER, PUNDIT RICHARD CROSS DEAD AT 51: Richard J. Cross III, a longtime speechwriter who worked for Helen Delich Bentley and for former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and who would later become a Republican renegade after leaving the State House, has died. He was 51. Michael Dresser writes the obituary for the Sun. He was also a longtime friend of many journalists including Roundup editor Cynthia Prairie, who sends her condolences to his sister Gina.

HOGAN EXTENDS PARKS BENEFIT TO ALL VETS: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday, the day before Veterans Day, that all veterans can now get in free to all of Maryland’s 72 state parks. Previously, entry fees were waived for only active-duty military. Residents and non-resident veterans will now gain free entry to parks managed by the state, including Assateague State Park on the Eastern Shore, Deep Creek Lake Park in Western Maryland and Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County.

MARYLAND’s IMMIGRANTS: Thirty-four percent of Montgomery County’s population is foreign-born. Of the seven districts that make up the county, two are more populated with Chinese-born people than any other nationality, according to a Capital News Service analysis. In Part 4 of the series on Montgomery’s immigrants, CNS’s Abby Mergenmeier reports that the large Chinese presence has had multiple effects in the surrounding area, including in the schools. The story appears in MarylandReporter.

  • Roxana Rodas was living in the United States 16 years ago when a series of earthquakes struck her native El Salvador. She didn’t feel the ground shake, but the turmoil in her homeland still changed her life. Writes John Fritze in the Sun, President George W. Bush’s administration granted Salvadorans a short-term haven in the United States, allowing them to stay under Temporary Protected Status designation. Now members of that community — including thousands who, like Rodas, settled in Maryland after entering the country illegally — fear the Trump administration is preparing to revoke that status next year and bring their “temporary” stay to an end.

SALARY WITHHOLDING ‘ILLEGAL,’ LAWYER SAYS: The lawyer for two of Gov. Larry Hogan’s top appointments says the legislature and state treasurer are using a novel interpretation of the state constitution to illegally withhold salaries, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader and former acting Planning Secretary Wendi Peters stopped receiving checks for the jobs in July after the legislature used budget language to stop them from being paid.

DRUG CRISIS OUTLINES AT CONGRESSIONAL PANEL: David Cox, superintendent of schools in Allegany County, and Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City’s health commissioner, spoke before a U.S. House education subcommittee. about the opioid crisis. While Wen spoke of the epidemic in the city — overdose deaths at a rate of two per day; addicts dying while they wait too long for treatment; no funds for new purchases of Naloxone, the overdose antidote — Cox gave a glimpse of how opioid addiction has affected his rural community in western Maryland, 140 miles from Baltimore. He did not spare details. Columnist Dan Rodricks of the Sun writes about their tough testimony.

DEMS HYPOCRISY ON ED FUNDING: In an opinion piece for Red Maryland, Brian Griffiths blogs that last week he wrote about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno’s “bald-faced lie and rank hypocrisy concerning state education funding. While falsely accusing Gov. Hogan of cutting $1 billion education funding, Madaleno voted to cut state education spending by $2.3 billion. However, Madaleno isn’t the only Maryland Democrat who voted for these cuts. Some of the most sanctimonious signalers of superior virtue when it comes to education also voted for those same cuts.”

SHEA ON EDUCATION: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Shea is pitching an expansive, costly plan to overall Maryland’s education system, starting with expanded prenatal care and stretching through on-the-job training, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. The multibillion-dollar proposal emphasizes extra funding for poor areas, universal preschool, child care subsidies, after-school care and summer programs, plus tuition-free community college, higher pay for teachers and a new K-12 curriculum pegged to international standards.

ROSS ON CHILDCARE: Nicole Rodman of the Dundalk Eagle interviews Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross, a technology expert who is putting emphasis on education. And Ross’s platform includes a push for more affordable childcare. While a program exists in Maryland to help low-income families with childcare costs, the program is not adequately funded, Ross claims, meaning that some eligible families were not able to get help. “Childcare can be so expensive it crushes you,” Ross said, noting that some caregivers can not afford to work due to childcare costs.

***HELP THE BAY AND MARYLAND’S WATER QUALITY: Farmers are having a moment right now. It seems like everyone is in love with the romance of farming and the seemingly simple life it promises. Beyond the romantic soft-focus photos you see of neat rows of crops and fiery sunsets, Maryland farmers want you to know there’s hard work and a lot of unromantic paperwork involved in their job. And sometimes, they get frustrated for being blamed for troubles with the Chesapeake when they have done so much to reduce their environmental impact. Here are five ways you can make a difference. SPONSORED CONTENT***

MEANING OF DEM ELECTIONS: No one predicted it: A tidal-wave election last Tuesday swept through numerous states, sending even entrenched Republican incumbents into retirement and shocking the most optimistic Democrats by the enormousness of their party’s sweeping victories. Political pundit Barry Rascovar writes in his Political Maryland blog that before we get carried away by the surprising results, let’s keep in mind that all elections are not created equal.

DEMS HIT THE STREETS: Maryland Democrats have internalized the harsh lessons of the 2014 and 2016 elections, which put Larry Hogan in the governor’s mansion and Donald Trump in the White House, Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Matthews said, and they’re doing the hard work that is needed to avoid repeating the same mistakes, writes Glynis Kazanjian for the Sentinel Newspapers. To make sure voters don’t feel ignored this time around, Matthews said Democrats have been hitting the streets with a goal of personally contacting 10,000 voters before the 2018 elections.

COLUMNIST RUNS, THEN DOESN’T: Paul Schwartz, who writes a weekly column about national issues for the Montgomery County Sentinel, filed to run as a Democrat in the 6th District Congressional race on Tuesday. On Thursday, though, he told Bethesda Beat he wouldn’t be running for the seat, which Rep. John Delaney is giving up to run for president, Louis Peck and Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat report. Schwartz said he talked with the paper’s managing editor, Brian Karem, told him it would be a conflict of interest.

RACIST FLIERS AT GOP HQ: Racist fliers were posted overnight on the front door of the Montgomery County Republican Party Headquarters in Derwood, blogs Brian Griffiths for Red Maryland. The fliers were affiliated with a group calling itself the “Patriot Front.”

BLAIR RUNNING FOR MO CO EXEC: Potomac businessman David Blair formally kicked off his campaign for Montgomery County executive Sunday, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. Blair, a lifelong county resident running as a Democrat, said in an interview Sunday morning that he would like to narrow the divide between the “haves and have nots” if elected in 2018.

MO CO ED BOARD MEMBER RUNS FOR COUNCIL: One year since her election to a second term on the county school board, Rebecca Smondrowski is preparing to launch a new campaign—this time, for Montgomery County Council, writes Bethany Rodgers for Bethesda Beat. The longtime leader in local and county PTA groups has said her passion for her school board post hasn’t waned, but an at-large council seat would open up new opportunities to support education.

HOWARD AMONG WEALTHIEST COUNTIES: Forbes has ranked Howard County among the richest counties in the U.S. For 2017, writes Elizabeth Janney from Patch. The magazine released its annual wealthiest counties list this week, and HoCo was the only Maryland jurisdiction to make the top 10. Its median household income of $110,224 landed its residents among the nation’s richest, according to Forbes. The ranking was based on U.S. Census data from 2015. Rebecca Lerner actually did an article for Forbes in May on the Census ranking.

BILLIE HOLIDAY PLAY: Just saw a terrific performance of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” at Rep Stage, the professional equity theater at Howard Community College. Celeste Jones is extraordinary as the famed Billie Holiday at the declining end of her career. Her singing and acting, on stage for almost the entire 90 minutes, is extraordinary. She becomes Billie. Best theater I’ve seen in a while, and I see a lot of good theater. It’s a short run, only till next Sunday, Nov. 19. Len Lazarick, MarylandReporter.com (What’s the connection to state government? The Maryland State Arts Council, and HCC)