State Roundup, November 19, 2010

DEVORE LEAVING: Juvenile Services Secretary Donald DeVore — the leader of the often-troubled agency since 2007 — announced Thursday that he is leaving his post, report Sarah Breitenbach and Alan Brody of The Gazette. He is the first Cabinet secretary to leave office since Gov. Martin O’Malley won a second term, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey. Linskey also blogs that DeVore told a Sun reporter on Wednesday that he was having “private conversations” with O’Malley about whether to stay on board during the second term. The Salisbury Daily Times runs the AP’s story. The Post’s John Wagner says DeVore is one of a handful of secretaries that could be replaced now that the election is over.

HARRIS AND INSURANCE: The Baltimore Sun’s opinionators write that U.S. Rep.-elect Andy Harris is probably learning about “the gotcha culture” of Washington this week, but he should be taking away another lesson altogether: the problems ordinary Americans have with getting good health care. Benjamin Ford has the Gazette’s take on Harris’s situation.

WRITE-IN HEARING: Julian Jones Jr., who won a write-in campaign to defeat Baltimore County Councilman Ken Oliver for his spot on the county’s Democratic Central Committee, told The Sun’s Raven Hill his hearing before the state Democratic credentials committee on Wednesday was “very contentious.”

NEW ECONOMY SURVEY: Gov. Martin O’Malley has another reason to brag, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey: the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation rated Maryland third in the nation for “moving the country toward an innovation economy” in its New Economy Survey. Maryland also ranked third in the 2007 report, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance.

MORE ON JOHNSON: A week after Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife Leslie were arrested on corruption charges, The Post’s Miranda Spivack and Hamil Harris said that normally tight-lipped county elected officials are quieter and more reclusive than usual. Because of the arrests, the county had to postpone a $25 million bond issue for school construction, reports The Post’s Mike DeBonis.

A cocktail party later this month to celebrate Johnson’s legacy as he leaves office — planned before the arrests — has been canceled, reports The Sun’s Annie Linskey.

Meanwhile, other Prince George’s County Council members are now pushing for Leslie Johnson to resign her recently-elected position to join them, reports The Examiner’s Brian Hughes. At least three other members of the county council want Johnson to step aside, reports the Post’s Miranda Spivack, Ovetta Wiggins and Hamil Harris.

Some are calling on Rushern Baker, the newly elected Prince George’s County executive, to acknowledge the corruption problems there and deal with them, according to David Hill and Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

RACING JOBS: Gov. Martin O’Malley met with leaders of the state’s racing industry earlier this week, trying to preserve jobs at Laurel Park and other tracks, The Capital reports. Barry Rascovar’s Gazette column suggests casino gambling may be the way out of some of these problems.

ANNAPOLIS NOTES: The Capital’s collection of political notes includes the high success rate of the Maryland Farm Bureau’s endorsements, as well as scheduled meetings and fundraisers.

ROBOCALLS: The Frederick News Post’s Meg Tully writes her column about the two election robocall scandals and the race for state GOP chair.

BERNSTEIN’S AGENDA: The Daily Record’s opinionators say new Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein seems to be moving at a sensible pace to implement some of the changes he campaigned on.

MARYLAND’S ECONOMY: Bucking a national trend, Maryland’s gross domestic product inched up a fraction of a percent in 2009 — compared with 38 states that saw losses last year, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY JOBS: With session around the corner, the Baltimore Business Journal said that the hiring is starting.

HOYER JOKES: Rep. Steny Hoyer, who will still be the #2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, joked with reporters about how relevant he will be once the new Congress is sworn in, and the GOP holds the majority, reports The Washington Times’ Steve Lengell.

GOP FOR OLIVER? An e-mail that Baltimore County Republican Central Committee Antonio Campbell sent his fellow members — and that got leaked to a blog — suggested that the party support Ken Oliver, and not a Republican, as council chair, reports Patuxent Publishing’s Steve Schuster.

ENGLISH ONLY: Del. Pat McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican, promises to reintroduce his bill to make English the “official language” of Maryland state government, reports Michaelle Bond of Capital News Service in the Towson Times.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE COMMITTEE: A new campaign finance reform committee held its first meeting to discuss potential changes to fundraising rules for campaign slates, reports WBAL’s Robert Lang and the Associated Press.

GOP CHAIR CONTEST: Despite election losses, lots of people are vying to be the chair of the state Republican Party, Alan Brody reports in the Gazette.
Former Del. Carmen Amedori, who hails from Carroll County and was also a member of the State Parole Commission, tells The Post’s John Wagner she’s also considering a run for the state GOP chairmanship.

GAZETTE MUSINGS: The Reporter’s Notebook has Tom Hucker in the New York City marathon, Mike Miller’s talk of a special session, strange bedfellows on government transparency, and a sendoff for GOP Chair Audrey Scott.

STEELE AS GOP CHAIR: Maryland Republicans are supporting former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele for another term as the GOP, writes the Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.

MARYLAND IS DIFFERENT: After returning home from a national conference of journalists covering state capitols,’s Len Lazarick talks about some of Maryland’s political differences — and similarities.

POST-ELECTION SURPRISES: Gazette columnist Blair Lee lists the state financial problems that only became clear after the election, from pensions to mounting debt and lack of transportation dollars.

PENSIONS: In a Gazette commentary, Harford County Executive David Craig, president of the Maryland Association of Counties, says the state’s pension woes are due to bad policies taken by the legislature and governor, not to raises for teacher’s salaries paid by the counties.

BUSINESS TAXES: In his Center Maryland commentary, Don Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee — ex-senator and slots czar, as well — says it was a refreshing change of pace when the Business Tax Reform Commission voted this week not to raise businees taxes by pushing for the combined reporting method of corporate taxation.

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