State Roundup, November 16, 2010

MORE ARRESTS: Nine people, including three Prince George’s County police officers, were arrested Monday on charges involving drugs, guns and black-market alcohol and cigarettes as authorities ratcheted up a sprawling corruption probe that involved Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, Ruben Castaneda, Rosalind Helderman and Paul Duggan report for the Washington Post.

Roosevelt Leftwich has the story for WMAR-TV. And here’s WBFF-TV’s story.

CROSSED A LINE: Jim McElhatton of the Washington Times writes that U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein said all three officers had “crossed a bright line from catching criminals to conspiring with criminals.”

CHIEF OUTRAGED: Prince George’s Police Chief Roberto Hylton said he is outraged by the officers’ alleged misconduct and he promises to review policies for officers’ off-duty shifts after one officer is charged with helping a store where he worked to traffic cigarettes and liquor, report Andrea Noble and Dan Leaderman of the Gazette.

BEYOND PRINCE GEORGE’S: Aaron Cahall of the reports that two of the nine are Clarksville residents and owners of Deckers Liquors in Bel Air.

FED FUNDS INVOLVED: A portion of federal funds awarded to developers to build affordable housing throughout Prince George’s is part of the widespread corruption investigation that led to the arrests last Friday County Exec Johnson and his wife, Leslie Johnson, report Ovetta Wiggins and Miranda Spivack of the Washington Post.

BACK AT WORK: Johnson returned to work on Monday, then came out to speak with reporters, saying his family is doing well. WBFF-TV has the story.

REBUILDING TRUST: Jim Estepp, CEO of two Prince George’s business groups, said Johnson’s arrest on corruption charges will force business and government leaders to regain trust. “Part of our concern here,” he said, “is the lack of consistency and what businesses need is consistency.” Sarah Krouse writes the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.

Lindsey Robbins of the Gazette reports similar reaction from other business leaders, who have been working to rid the county of its “ugly sister” image.

BAKER SPEAKS OUT: Incoming Prince George’s Exec Rushern Baker tries to buck up county citizens following the corruption charges. WBFF has video.

MAJOR CHALLENGES: But the incoming county exec faces major obstacles. He did promise to “deliver a first-class government.” Unfortunately, he is now raising money for his inaugural festivities, which include a ball at the National Harbor resort – and many developers and business groups will be eager to pay up, writes Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland.

TAPES TELLING: A taped telephone conversation between Johnson and his wife appears to be the most damning evidence against them in the federal government’s charges that they destroyed evidence in an ongoing investigation, several defense attorneys told Steve Lash of the Daily Record.

OH THAT BRA: Years spent on the bench as a judge, the founder of social service organizations to help underprivileged women, a PTA mom, a grandmother, a public official – and what will most folks think of when Leslie Johnson comes up? The bra, writes Petula Dvorak of the Post.

TWEETING THE ARREST: Jeff Sonderman of pulls together tweets that occurred as news spread of Friday through social networks of federal agents arresting the Johnsons, after raiding their home and offices.


HARRIS WANTS HEALTH CARE: As new congressional representatives arrived on Capitol Hill for orientation this week, Republican 1st District Rep.-elect Andy Harris was shocked when he found out Congress’ insurance plan won’t cover him until February, reports Politico’s Glenn Thrush.

VOTER PRIVACY: Editorial writers for the Frederick News Post address voter concerns about privacy and security while voting during the primary and general elections.

KANE SEEKS SPOT: A well-known Maryland Republican has emerged as a leading candidate to take over the reins of the state party: Mary Kane, the former running mate of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

PENSION REFORM: Employees, retirees and employee groups ask the Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefits Sustainability Commission not to recommend any plan reforms that would change their benefits, reports’s Megan Poinski.

WORK TOGETHER: After months of head-to-head campaigning, the winner and loser in the Subdistrict 2B delegate race probably will have to work together, if only a little, reports Andrew Schotz of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

TALKING POLITICS: Marc Steiner and Anthony McCarthy co-host a local politics hour on the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA-FM. They talk about next year’s Baltimore City mayoral race, and don’t miss Attorney General Doug Gansler as he talks about the robocall that urged Democratic voters to stay home on Election Day.

ROLL BACK DELAYED: An effort to roll back an ethics law passed in Baltimore County that affects a prominent lobbyist and a county union head fell short when the bill was withdrawn before the County Council could vote on it, Bryan Sears reports for

TEMP SLOT SITE: Nick Sohr of the Daily Record reports that the state could review as early as next month a proposal to open a temporary casino next to the Arundel Mills shopping mall.

Julie Bykowicz blogs for the Sun that the panel that issues licenses for slot-machine parlors is expected to hear from developer David Cordish about the temporary facility.

CUT RACING: In an op-ed for the Sun, Michael Serio writes that Maryland needs to cut its thoroughbred horse racing days to save the sport.

BBH SHAKEUP: Under pressure from state regulators, Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc. has shaken up its corporate structure by taking away the voting rights of six family members who have long sat on the nonprofit mental health clinic’s eight-seat board of directors, reports the Sun’s Scott Calvert.

TEACHER TRAINING: Programs that train teachers need to be radically revised, according to a panel composed of some of the country’s top educators, and eight states, including Maryland, have signed on to adopt the recommendations, scheduled to be released today, writes Michael Birnbaum of the Post.

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