HOGAN SEEKS NEW CONTRACT: Gov. Larry Hogan ordered his state transportation secretary Friday to seek a new contract to oversee the largest public-private highway project in the country saying a recent contract that was put on hold lacked public transparency, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record, who broke the initial story and subsequent revelations.
- The $68.5 million contract would have paid a consortium of companies to oversee Hogan’s $7.6 billion plan to relieve traffic congestion on major highways in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. But a firm with ties to Transportation Secretary Pete. Rahn was among the winning bidders after he signed a waiver of the state’s traditional procurement process to award the contract, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.
- In a column for his Political Maryland blog, commentator Barry Rascover writes that Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn may have done nothing ethically wrong in selecting a consortium co-led by his former company for a pivotal $68.5 million toll-road management contract, but the optics were absolutely terrible.
- The editorial board of the Sun opines it is “glad Gov. Larry Hogan heeded Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp’s concerns about the selection of the lead firm on a contract to oversee his massive highway building plan in the Washington suburbs. The questions she and others raised about … Rahn’s role in a procurement that selected his previous employer demanded more scrutiny, and they aren’t the only or even necessarily the most important reasons to slow this project down.”
HOGAN SIGNS AMAZON LETTER: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser in signing a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that highlights the Washington region’s workforce, transit system and economy in a pitch to convince Bezos to choose either of the states or the city as the location of the company’s second headquarters, Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat reports.
DROP IN POLLUTION ENFORCEMENT: Timothy Wheeler of the Bay Journal writes in MarylandReporter that Maryland regulators have been taking significantly fewer enforcement actions for water pollution violations lately, a drop that environmentalists call part of a worsening nationwide trend. State officials, though, say the decrease reflects an increased effort to work with violators and prevent minor infractions from becoming major ones.
NO FREE TUITION: Towson University professor Richard Vatz, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that as a bill making community college tuition “free” awaits Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, there are plenty of reasons that it shouldn’t become law. First and most obvious, “free tuition” is not free tuition; it must be paid for, and the public will have to pay for most of it, says Vatz.
CARTER CONWAY FOE: For years, capable opponents have tried to unseat North Baltimore’s powerful state Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who has held office for more than two decades, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun. None — including City Councilman Bill Henry — has come close. But Del. Mary Washington thinks this year will be different.
OAKS’ NAME TO STAY ON BALLOT: Former state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks will remain on June’s primary election ballot after a judge on Friday denied an attempt by voters to remove his name, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.
- Oaks faces prison time in the case but under state law he remains eligible to run until he is incarcerated. His sentencing isn’t until July, after the June 26 Democratic primary election. The judge told the lawyers he was not authorized to remove Oaks’ name because the long-time politician technically remains eligible, Ian Duncan of the Sun writes.
PHUKAN ON THE MOUNTAINTOP: Republican Anjali Reed Phukan made the official announcement of her campaign for comptroller from the highest point in Maryland on Saturday, Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain in Garrett County. Here’s the YouTube video. She filed last year, and since no other Republican did, she will face Democratic incumbent Peter Franchot in the fall.
BAKER, MILLER WIN STRAW POLL: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, a Democratic candidate for governor, won a straw poll Saturday among party activists at an annual summit in Western Maryland, organizers said. State Del. Aruna Miller (Montgomery) captured the summit’s straw poll in the Democratic race to succeed Delaney. Miller won 140 votes, or almost twice as many as the runner-up, David Trone, a Potomac business executive, who finished with 76 votes, Paul Schwartzman reports in the Post.
- Baker got 19% of the vote; the seventh-place finisher, tech entrepreneur Alec J. Ross, got 9%. It’s entirely conceivable that the actual race is just as close, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters. This ought to delight and excite Democratic voters of all stripes. So often in Maryland politics the fix is in, particularly on the Democratic side. The establishment anoints one of its own and most voters fall in line.
GOV HOPEFULS ON ENVIRONMENT: With less than 10 weeks to go until the June 26 primary election, leading candidates for Maryland governor are hitting the forum circuit hard, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun. Last Thursday, seven Democrats and one Green Party member were in front of a packed crowd at the Peabody Heights Brewery in Baltimore’s Waverly neighborhood, discussing environmental policy.
DEM HOPEFULS EMBRACE LEGAL POT: Maryland Democrat Alec Ross celebrated April 20, the informal national holiday for marijuana aficionados, by releasing a video featuring as many weed puns as he could muster in 30-seconds. He’s not alone in supporting pot’s recreational use. Many of the Democrats in the crowded seven-way governor’s race are also supporting its recreational use, taxing it and using the hundreds of millions of annual tax money to pay for something, Erin Cox reports for the Sun.
- Gubernatorial hopeful Ben Jealous made a strong public call for legalizing marijuana Friday, two months ahead of the June primary, giving a keynote address at the National Cannabis Festival’s policy summit held at the Newseum in Washington, Steve Thompson of the Post reports.
PUBLIC FUNDING IN MO CO: Among items in the Politics Roundup for Bethesda Beat is Jill Ortman-Fouse is the latest at-large Montgomery County Council candidate to qualify for public funding.
DANCE SENTENCED: Baltimore County judge on Friday sentenced former schools superintendent Dallas Dance to serve six months in jail after rejecting impassioned pleas for leniency from him and his supporters during a nearly two-hour hearing, Doug Donovan and Liz Bowie of the Sun report.
- Bowie and Donovan writes that according to observers, the conviction of former superintendent Dallas Dance has served to undermine the trust that parents, politicians and staff must have for the system to excel.
- The Sun gathers reaction from local officials about Dance’s sentencing. Del. Kathy Szeliga said, “Public education is big business, and people should realize that,” Szeliga said. “There’s a lot of money in public education.” Del. Stephen W. Lafferty said, “This man who created a charismatic look for the future of schools was bilking everybody. He made it seem like he was doing this in the best interest for the school system. He really misled all of us.”