State Roundup, August 12, 2010

WAR CHESTS: Gov. Martin O’Malley has $6.7 million in the bank – a million more than eight months ago and likely double that of rival Bob Ehrlich – because he raised $3.3 million during the last reporting period, Aaron Davis of the Washington Post reports. Julie Bykowicz of the Baltimore Sun adds that Ehrlich’s numbers haven’t been released.  But she blogs that Ehrlich claims to have received 20,000 donations. An Ehrlich spokesman says that the campaign isn’t ready to release its financial report just yet, Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Liam Farrell reports the story for the Annapolis Capital.

TAX HIKE? In his campaign to regain the governor’s mansion, Bob Ehrlich pitched a plan to roll back a 20 percent increase in the state sales tax and raised the specter of numerous other tax hikes if he is not elected in November, The Post’s John Wagner writes.

COST OF RUNNING: Candidates’ campaign expenses can get costly, writes Michael Sawyers of Cumberland Times-New, as he looks at spending through the eyes of several local candidates.

BACKGROUND CHECKS: Center Maryland continues its review of court records for candidates seeking offices around Maryland.

REP. CANDIDATE FISHER: Paul West of the Sun reports on Rob Fisher, the GOP outsider who is self-funding his campaign for Maryland’s 1st District. His efforts could complicate Republican efforts to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil.

FUMBLED RESUME: The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz picks up on the Washington City Paper story referenced here last week and has gone national, about PG Del. Michael Vaughn’s web site that claimed he played football with the Dallas Cowboys.

BERNSTEIN SIGNS: Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld has taken down the campaign signs for State’s Attorney candidate Greg Bernstein that prompted accusations of impropriety from State’s Attorney Pat Jessamy, but some officials continued to criticize his actions as they rallied behind the prosecutor, Justin Fenton and Julie Scharper of the Baltimore Sun report. Bealefeld tells Brian Kuebler of WMAR-TV that he needs to concentrate on fighting crime. WBAL-TV’s Kerry Cavanaugh asks citizens their views on the Jessamy-Bealefeld fight.

POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Erica Green of the Sun reports that a City College staff member accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student had political aspirations, running for the Baltimore City Council three years ago and once working for Dutch Ruppersberger’s campaign for the U.S. House. Here’s the arrest story from Kai Reed of WBAL-TV.

START SNAPPING: In an effort to fight “stop snitching,” Clerk of the Circuit Court Frank Conaway and politician-filled family have used campaign funds to buy and give away 500 cameras  and urging law-abiding Baltimoreans to use them to snap pictures of crime in progress, writes the Sun’s Laura Vozzella.

DISTRICT 21 EXPENSES: District 21 delegates are defending lodging expenses incurred during legislative session, claiming that staying in Annapolis is justified, Gwendolyn Glenn writes for the Laurel Leader.

AIDS GRANT: The Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore hopes to find out in the next few weeks whether it will get a $25 million grant from the Gates Foundation to begin testing the AIDS vaccine it has developed, with clinical trials in Maryland, Len Lazarick of writes.

BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS: Len Lazarick of reports that the Board of Public Works deferred a $2.5 million contract to give advice on housing agency bonds because there was just one bidder, but — despite objections from Comptroller Peter Franchot — approved $32 million for video lottery terminals at the Ocean Downs Casino. Julie Bykowicz reports on the Ocean Downs story for the Sun. The Carroll County Times ran a Associated Press article that said the board also delayed $160 million in spending on mass transit consulting services.

SIGN LAW: A judge has denied a Towson man’s request to halt a Baltimore County political sign ordinance that allows for signs of 8 square feet on residential property and 50 on commercial land. His residential sign touting Ehrlich for governor was 32 square feet, Bryan Sears reports for Patuxent Publishing. The county will now begin to enforce the sign laws, reports the Sun’s Arthur Hirsch.

ETHICS BILL UNSIGNED: Baltimore County Exec Jim Smith has delayed signing into law an ethics bill that some say primarily targets a well-known lobbyist and a county union leader, writes Patuxent’s Bryan Sears.

BEVINS ENDORSED: Bryan Sears of Patuxent reports that Cathy Bevins, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 6th District Baltimore County Council seat, was endorsed by County Exec Smith over her primary rivals Del. Todd Schuler and Steve Verch.

FREDERICK COMMISSIONERS: Candidates for the Frederick Board of County Commissioners gathered to listen and address residents’ concerns regarding the building of an incinerator in Frederick County, Meg Tully of the Frederick News-Post reports.

HOWARD PROPERTY TAX HIKE: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman told a group of residents that he has “absolutely zero intention of raising property taxes in the next four years if I’m re-elected,” reports Larry Carson for the Sun.

WATCH DOG QUITS: Saying Montgomery County government officials have not “fully embraced” his watchdog role,  Inspector General Thomas Dagley says he will leave his post at year’s end, Erin Cunningham reports for the Gazette.  Michael Laris blogs about the situation for the Washington Post.

MOCO NEWS: Erin Cunningham of the Gazette reports in a series of briefs that Montgomery County Councilman Philip Andrews is criticizing Executive Ike Leggett; council hopeful Hans Riemer picks up more endorsements; and council candidate Robin Ficker has turned in signatures on his term limit petition.

YOUNG COUNCILMAN: Andy Alger, at 21 apparently the youngest person to serve on the Brunswick City Council, has taken office, reports Tripp Laino of the Gazette.

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