State Roundup, September 22, 2010

JOBS OUTLOOK: Maryland’s job market shifted into reverse this summer after improvements in the spring — a disappointing turn for more than 200,000 residents looking for work, Jamie Smith Hopkins writes for the Sun. Jay Hancock blogs that the state “loses” 6,000 jobs. “Loses” is in quotes, the Sun writer explains, because this is a preliminary estimate from a limited sample in a data series that is often subject to huge revisions when the true numbers come in months later. The Daily Record’s Ben Mook says the loss of 1,400 U.S. Census jobs in August contributed to an increase in Maryland’s unemployment rate for the month. And Marta Mossburg opines in the Frederick News Post that when it comes to job creation, O’Malley and other government officials need to listen to small businesses.

CANDIDATE DIES: Natasha Pettigrew, 30, the Green Party candidate aiming to unseat U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski this fall, died from injuries she sustained Sunday in Prince George’s County, when her bicycle was struck by an SUV, report Josh White and Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post. Here’s Julie Bykowicz’s report for the Baltimore Sun. WJZ’s Pat Warren interviews stunned Green Party members, who saw Pettigrew as an up-and-comer.

NAME PROBE: David Collins of WBAL-TV offers an indepth report on Rebecca Lynn Nelson, who is seeking the state Senate seat held by Andy Harris. The elections board is looking into complaints that her name was on the ballot as Rebecca Weir Nelson, “Weir” being a very well known name in the district she is running. Collins’ probe digs up more than just the name change.

COUNTIES’ FISCAL PAIN: Maryland counties are feeling the pain of the collapse of the housing market, in the last four fiscal years having lost $345 million in revenue from transfer taxes that are charged every time a property is sold. Revenues to counties from property taxes will be declining soon too, Barbara Pash reports for

GOVERNORS JUMP IN: Less than 24 hours after the Republican Governors Association launched an ad attacking Gov. Martin O’Malley for raising taxes, the Democratic Governors Association returned fire with a commercial against former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, Aaron Davis blogs for the Post. DGA political director Raymond Glendening — son of former Gov. Parris Glendening — pledged that his organization will “spend the money that needs to be spent” to ensure O’Malley is re-elected, reports Annie Linskey of the Sun. With RGA and DGA money going into this particular race, Aaron Davis asks, “Is this going national?” The Sun’s Andy Green determines that the attacks ads from both candidates are for the most part true.

MPT DISPUTE: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports on MPT’s request that O’Malley pull an attack ad that features its footage.

E-MAIL WARS: Ehrlich supporters received an e-mail yesterday containing a humorous Web video that pokes fun at tax increases passed under O’Malley and patterned after TV commercials selling music collections. Its striking similarity to a GOP one distributed in North Carolina last year is pure coincidence, suggests Henry Fawell of the Ehrlich camp. The Post’s John Wagner blogs about it, and you can view both videos. Tom Russell, O’Malley’s campaign manager, sent out an urgent email asking supporters to contribute cash to fight Ehrlich’s attack ad and help raise $200,000 by month’s end, Joanna Sullivan of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

EHRLICH SNUB REVIVED: Annie Linskey blogs that O’Malley’s folks are putting out the message in Ehrlich’s home turf of Baltimore County that Ehrlich doesn’t like them very much. Outgoing Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith is quoted on the door hanger: “I served with the previous governor who NEVER returned my phone calls during his last three years in office. NOT ONCE! Martin O’Malley always calls back.”

NEW POLL: Derek Valcourt of WJZ-TV picks up on the Rasmussen poll that shows the governor’s candidates neck and neck and interviews O’Malley and Ehrlich.

POST ISSUES PROBE: The Post’s Maryland politics team launches a six-week video series leading up to the November election. Each week they’ll break down a key issue for voters, telling you the facts as they know them, and giving each candidate a chance to tell their side, in their words. This week, it’s education. Scroll down to view the video.

VAN HOLLEN FOE: Republicans are waiting to see who their nominee will be to challenge U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the November election, as their two top primary vote-getters are separated by 55 votes, with more ballots still to be counted, the Gazette’s Benjamin Ford reports.

SPEED VOTE COUNT: Bryan Sears of Patuxent Publishing reports that a late-night stay at the Baltimore County Board of Elections, in Catonsville, has resulted in a task force of computer experts to study how to get votes counted faster.

PETITION REJECTION: A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the county election board‘s rejection of thousands of signatures on petitions to put a question on the ballot seeking term limits for County Council members, but complainant Robin Ficker says he may appeal the ruling, writes Margie Hyslop for the Gazette.

COPS RELIEVED: A big sigh of relief emanated from the Baltimore Police Department’s headquarters, writes the Sun’s Peter Hermann. After 15 years, to hear the cops tell it, their suffering has ended with Gregg Bernstein’s victory over Pat Jessamy for city state’s attorney.

WAXTER ADMISSIONS: The high security Waxter Center in Laurel is once again taking in female juvenile offenders after the Department of Juvenile Services made improvement. But, many critics say the improvements aren’t enough, reports Capital News Service’s Alexis Gutter on

GREEN ED A GO: The State Board of Education voted unanimously to make environmental education a part of every student’s education, but put off making it a graduation requirement, Liz Bowie reports for the Sun. And here’s the Washington Examiner’s followup of yesterday’s news brief. Lisa Gartner writes.

SLOTS ON TRACK: The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Penn National Gaming expects to open Maryland’s first slots casino in Cecil County by the end of the month, as officials appeared to be more certain yesterday that they would not be delayed by a pending ruling from Attorney General Doug Gansler’s office.

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