State Roundup, June 1, 2018

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ERVIN BALLOT SUIT HEADS TO COURT: An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge has refused to order the Maryland State Board of Elections not to use ballots for the June 26 Democratic primary that list Valerie Ervin as a candidate for lieutenant governor, Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports. Judge Laura Sue Kiessling scheduled a hearing for Monday on whether the state must change its ballots to reflect that Ervin has replaced her former running mate, the late Baltimore County executive Kevin Kamenetz, at the top of the ticket.

ACLU ADVOCATES FOR MORE BOOKS FOR PRISONERS: Advocates for prisoners in Maryland called on state officials Thursday to rescind a new policy that they say severely restricts access to books for inmates and is unconstitutional, Ann Marimow of the Post reports. In a letter to state prison officials, the American Civil Liberties Union characterizes the limits on book ordering as a “virtual book ban” that denies more than 20,000 Maryland inmates access to “the overwhelming majority of books in existence, and prevent those who wish to communicate with them through books from doing so.”

EXELON APPEALS DAM DECISION: Exelon Corp. filed an appeal May 25 asking the Maryland Department of the Environment to reconsider its decision in late April requiring the company to pay up to $172 million annually to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution flowing past the dam and to make other changes in the dam’s operation to improve fish habitat and water quality in the lower Susquehanna River and Upper Chesapeake Bay, Karl Blankenship of the Bay Journal reports in a story appearing in MarylandReporter.

EARLY DOLPHIN SIGHTINGS: This spring, when pods of dolphins crossed the threshold into Chesapeake Bay waters, the scientists were ready for them. The dolphin tracking website that went online in June 2017 was already up and running for the season, ready to record as early as the end of April that a few Atlantic bottlenose dolphins had arrived near Cove Point, Whitney Pipken reports for the Bay Journal.

TRAINING AT RX POT DISPENSARIES: Training of staff at medical marijuana dispensaries can make a difference between patients having a good experience or a bad one. William Tilburg, director of policy and government relations for the Maryland Cannabis Commission, says state law requires training every 12 months for dispensary employees, but it leaves it up to the dispensary owners to handle that, Dominique Maria Bonessi of WYPR-FM reports.

DeVOS VISITS ARUNDEL SCHOOL, JEALOUS PROTESTS: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos got a first-hand look Thursday at a “community building circle” in Angela Snyder’s first-grade classroom at Frank Hebron-Harman Elementary School, Rachael Pacella reports for the Annapolis Capital. As students gathered in a circle at the front of the room, DeVos sat near the alphabet rug with them. They decided on a greeting of the day — a fist bump and an “hola” to the person on their left. DeVos’ arrival was met with a protest outside the school led by Ben Jealous, a Democratic candidate for governor, and members of the state teachers union.

BAKER LAUNCHES ADS: Democrat Rushern Baker launched his television campaign in the race for Maryland governor this week, releasing two ads tailored to voters in Baltimore and Montgomery County. Baker, the Prince George’s County executive, spent a modest $90,000 for spots that will run for one week. The Baltimore ad will air on both cable and broadcast in the Baltimore region.

CORRECTION ON BOWSER AFFIDAVIT: Alan Bowser, a candidate for Montgomery County Clerk of the Circuit Court, says an item in Wednesday’s State Roundup about his fundraising incorrectly stated that he had promised to raise and spend no more than $1,000 for this year’s campaign. He correctly points out that those official affidavits to the state elections board applied only to the previous three years, and were not related to the tax liens he is dealing with. In a phone conversation, Bowser said he’s raised $10,000 this year, although his latest campaign finance filing on the state’s official website says he had zero receipts. Bowser said he has notified the board that is an error.

BATTLE FOR THE 30th DISTRICT: The 30th legislative district in Anne Arundel County isn’t the only place in Maryland where Democratic insiders and insurgents are skirmishing over turf, resources and the direction of the party, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes. But it is the only place in the state where one of the insiders happens to be the speaker of the House. And the District 30 primaries for state Senate and House of Delegates are taking place in the state capital, Annapolis, where a dynamic municipal election last fall transformed the district’s political terrain.

LEOPOLD PULLS THE WOOL OVER VOTERS’ EYES: Brian Griffiths in an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital opines that, like clockwork, the red signs started dotting front yards in Pasadena, simple and small, the red broken only by the name printed in white: Leopold. Pasadena voters have always had a strange affinity for Leopold. Since his move to Maryland in 1982, voters have elected him seven times. In the course of 36 years in Maryland, Leopold has lost only one election. Voters ultimately propelled him to the county executive’s office. If he is returned to the House of Delegates, it would not be the first time Leopold was able to pull the wool over the voters’ eyes, Griffiths opines.

DISTRICT 18 RACE: Meeting for the third time in recent months, the crowded field of candidates for legislative seats in District 18—who previously had been in accord on virtually all policy issues—Wednesday night found something about which to disagree: Montgomery County’s public liquor sales and distribution system, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

BA CO EXEC ADS: Johnny Olszewski Jr. began airing his first ad Wednesday in the three-candidate race for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County executive, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes. The former state delegate for Dundalk introduces the tagline, “the progressive Democrat,” which contrasts with rival Jim Brochin’s tagline of “the real Democrat.”

  • Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond is airing her first television ad in the race for the Democratic nomination for county executive. The 30-second ad introduces the Reisterstown woman to potential voters. A male narrator opens the ad by asking: “How do we move Baltimore County forward?” The screen flashes to an image of Almond walking hand-in-hand down a sidewalk with two girls, as the narrator answers: “Vicki Almond knows.”

WHITE DENIED PERMANENT JOB AGAIN: The Maryland State Department of Education has again denied Baltimore County’s request to make Verletta White a permanent superintendent, WBFF-TV is reporting. State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon wrote in a letter to Baltimore County Thursday: “I have considered all the information sent to me. Yet, my reservations remain. Therefore, I decline to approve Ms. White’s appointment as permanent superintendent”

BREW, OTHERS PUSH TO END POLICE GAG AGREEMENTS: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press – along with 19 news organizations including the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and BuzzFeed – filed an amicus brief Wednesday supporting a lawsuit challenging Baltimore’s practice of requiring claimants in police misconduct settlements to sign non-disclosure agreements. In two separate “friend of the court” filings, five justice and civil rights groups and one individual added their support of the 2017 complaint filed by Baltimore Brew and Ashley Amaris Overbey, Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew reports. [Editor’s note: As a member of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, MarylandReporter.com is supporting this friend of the court brief.]

  • HoCoCommonSense

    Vicki Almond airs cable tv ads on MSNBC in Howard County. Campaign claims it was less expensive to buy ads in multiple counties.