State Roundup, June 4, 2018

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SHOULD ELLICOTT CITY REBUILD? Ellicott City residents, business owners and others are asking: Why didn’t local government do more, earlier to prevent another flood? After struggling to recover from the 2016 deluge, should they try again now to rebuild? And if so, what needs to be done to guard against more catastrophes? Luke Broadwater and Scott Dance report in the Sun about the expensive options.

HAPPY HOWARD: The rain and flooding aside, people who live in Howard County are the 10th happiest county in the nation, largely thanks to an affordable cost of living and low poverty rates, according to a SmartAsset study, reported by Morgan Eichensehr in the Baltimore Business Journal.

SUPPORT THE SEVERN REEF: A plan to add 40 million larval oysters from hatcheries to an existing sanctuary on the Severn River would be good news on its own. But the decision to, essentially, crowdsource an additional 10 million might be a stroke of genius, opines the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital, as it urges Gov. Larry Hogan to enthusiastically join the effort. Operation Build a Reef will ask for $100 donations that will pay for additional spat to be planted with the 40 million already under contract by the DNR.

HUGE SEWAGE DUMP IN BALTIMORE: Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew says the Baltimore Department of Public Works gave a very precise number for the wastewater dumped into the Jones Falls during last Sunday’s big storm: “1901 Falls Rd – 1.471 Million Gallons.” The reported overflow was a small part of the 10 million gallons of raw sewage mixed with rainwater that DPW acknowledged was released during the May 27 storm that pounded the region with heavy rain. And it was a small part of the much larger actual amount of sewage that sluiced into the Jones Falls. This story appeared Friday before Sunday’s heavy rainfall.

HOGAN LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN: In Hagerstown Saturday, Gov. Larry Hogan chose some of the friendliest territory in Maryland to hold the first large rally of his 2018 re-election campaign Saturday — and his target was a familiar one — Martin O’Malley, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. The Republican governor had little to say about the nine-candidate Democratic field seeking the nomination to deny him a second term in November. But he clearly relished replaying the greatest hits of his 2014 campaign, excoriating his Democratic predecessor for “43 consecutive tax increases,” businesses fleeing Maryland and the storm water fee Hogan calls the “rain tax.”

  • Jerry DeWolf was hoping to see 1,000 people come out Saturday to the Rider Jet Center to support Gov. Larry Hogan’s re-election campaign. But DeWolf, chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, said as the rally began that he wasn’t sure how many would show. Hagerstown businessman Howard “Blackie” Bowen, who chaired the event, wasn’t sure what to expect, either. They needn’t have worried, reports Tamela Baker in the Hagerstown Herald Mail. By the time Hogan made his way to the Rider hangar at Hagerstown Regional Airport, the building was crawling with supporters waiting for a chance to shake his hand or get a selfie with the governor.

BAKER ON WBAL: When Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker looks at Baltimore, many of the problems the city faces look familiar. “I know from my experience as an executive of a diverse, large urban county what we had to do,” Baker told Baltimore talk show host C4 on WBAL AM Friday. “It’s the same way I needed help when I took over Prince George’s County.” There are 10 minutes of audio with the story.

NEW APP FOR HOGAN CAMPAIGN: On Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign rolled out an app that allows supporters to follow the governor’s campaign while giving the campaign the ability to communicate directly with and collect data on supporters, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

HOGAN & THE RED LINE: Frank DeFilippo of Maryland Matters writes that transportation issues are rarely about getting from here to there. Usually the debate swirls around such tangent matters as money, race, uprooting neighborhoods, jobs and contract awards – almost anything but moving people from one point to another. Now add to the deflection private partners. Revival of the junked Red Line across Baltimore’s mid-section has snuggled up to education as among the Democrats’ most talked about issues of the campaign for governor. Recall that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) deep-sixed the project as “a waste of money” and spread the dollars among the outlying counties to build roads. Or put another way, Hogan put the money where his votes are because he couldn’t carry the city with the help of a handcart.

VALERIE ERVIN AS MARTYR: An accidental gubernatorial candidate with little money, no statewide network and tiny name recognition, Valerie Ervin latched onto a way to get more public notice than any other Democrat in the field: play the role of martyr, writes columnist Barry Rascovar in his blog PoliticalMaryland, comparing her to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Question the legitimacy of the electoral system. Portray yourself as being victimized by those in power who don’t want to give you a fair shot. Hold media events in protest. Sue the bastards. And if you don’t win in court, fall back on the Trump-Sanders line: It’s fixed and I’m the sacrificial lamb.

HOGAN RALLIES ASIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY: A week before he will formally launch his campaign for a second term, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ventured to deep-blue Montgomery County on Sunday to demonstrate his popularity in the state’s Asian American community. “Four more years,” a crowd of about 700 chanted at the New Fortune restaurant in Gaithersburg before Hogan took the stage, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

VIGNARAJAH SIBS RESOLVE FINANCE FILINGS: The Maryland State Board of Elections says two high-profile campaigns have resolved issues concerning personal loans they made to boost their fundraising efforts. In the most recent campaign finance filing last month, Baltimore State’s Attorney candidate Thiru Vignarajah and Maryland gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah, both Democrats and siblings, reported substantial personal loans that had not been deposited into their campaign accounts. Opponents alleged that the Vignarajahs were boosting the apparent strength of their campaigns with the reports, but never planned to actually contribute the money, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

ON ALSOBROOKS: In the first in a series of profiles of the top candidates for Prince George’s County executive, Rachel Chason of the Post writes that at a recent campaign event, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks was greeted by 1,000 of her supporters. “I can feel the strong women who have come before us and laid a brick down,” Alsobrooks told the largely female crowd. “We are here today because of our inheritance.”

LEGGETT’S FIRST BUDGET VETO: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett on Friday issued a rare line-item veto of a portion of the storm water management program budget the county council had approved, saying lawmakers overstepped their authority by rejecting Leggett’s plan to restructure the program. The veto was Leggett’s first in his nearly 12 years in office and the first in the county in a quarter-century, Jennifer Barrios reports in the Post. In his veto memo, Leggett wrote that the council’s action “hurts our environmental efforts. It prevents needed changes. It ensures that County taxpayers will pay more and more in storm water management fees — and get less and less in return.”

WHO ARE THE 33 RUNNING? Angela Breck and Kaanita Iyer of Maryland Matters write that 33 candidates are vying for four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council in the June 26 Democratic primary election. Voters can vote for up to four people. Maryland Matters has compiled brief biographies of the candidates, taken a quick look at some of their priorities,noted endorsements that they have received and whether or not they are participating in the county’s first-ever public financing system for candidates.

ARUNDEL PLASTIC FOAM BAN: Chase Cook of the Capital reports that takeout might look a little different if Anne Arundel County lawmakers pass a bill that would ban restaurants from giving out plastic foam containers. The bill, sponsored by County Councilman Chris Trumbauer, would prohibit restaurants from using the plastic foam containers as well as cups and other products that use polystyrene. The council will hold a public hearing on the bill Monday.

NEW BOBBY KENNEDY BOOKS: This week marks the 50th anniversary of the murder of  Sen. Robert F. Kennedy as he campaigned for the presidency. Towson author Blaine Taylor, who has a forthcoming biography of Kennedy, reviews three books on Kennedy that came out this year in MarylandReporter.com