State Roundup, November 18, 2010

PETITION TO STOP JOHNSON: Some residents are attempting to stop Leslie Johnson, who was arrested last week in a federal probe that ensnared her husband, PG County Exec Jack Johnson, from being sworn in to the Prince George’s County Council. Ovetta Wiggins reports the story for the Post. Several county residents tell The Gazette’s Liz Skalski that Leslie Johnson is under too dark of a cloud.

JUST ANOTHER JOB: A federal prosecutor says that a Prince George’s police officer who was arrested and charged in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy spoke as if it wasn’t a big deal for an officer to move drugs, Ruben Castenada reports for the Post.

JOHNSON SCANDAL GETS ANIMATED: Taiwan’s Next Media Animation TV, which is well known for animating celebrities and news incidents, has rendered the corruption scandal of Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife Leslie in CGI. WTOP posts the video.

HOYER STAYS AT 2: Divided U.S. House Democrats re-elected their leaders to minority party positions in the next Congress, choosing Reps. Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native who lives in California, as leader and Steny Hoyer, of southern Maryland as whip, reports the Sun’s Paul West.

EDWARDS’ VOICE: Another Marylander, Rep. Donna Edwards, also got to play a small but symbolically important role in the process. Her support was sought in nominating several, including Hoyer, to their party leadership roles. The fact that her public support was so widely-sought indicates the respect she holds all around the leadership table after less than three years in Congress, Ben Pershing blogs for the Post.

HARRIS HEALTH FLAP: House Democrats are trying to keep the spotlight on Congressman-elect Andy Harris of Maryland, calling on Republican leaders in Congress to declare whether they plan to use taxpayer subsidized health insurance for themselves and their families, Paul West blogs for the Sun. Harris shouldn’t allow the socialists to seduce him into taking the fruit from that poisoned tree, opines Dan Rodricks in the Sun.

PENSION REFORM: Pension reform can only take place over the long haul, says the Annapolis Capital editorial board, by adjusting what future employees get – the courts treat pensions already accrued under current agreements as sacrosanct.

MAYBE MOONEY: John Wagner of the Post blogs that there’s another possible contender for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party: former state Sen. Alex Mooney of Frederick.

MAYBE WARGOTZ:  And add Eric Wargotz to the list of those considering a bid for chairman of the state GOP, Wagner of the Post blogs.

DEMS ON MOVE: Jubilant Howard County Democrats, who kept all the seats they held going into this month’s election and picked up two more previously held by Republicans, are attributing their success to the high quality of life they’ve provided for county residents, Lindsey McPherson reports for the Columbia Flier.

BLUE STATE? Paul Foer writes that Maryland is a purple state with huge red areas, but its vote-rich, blue center makes it appear to be blue.

SLOW ECONOMY: How will Washington County fare economically in 2011? Don’t hold your breath for anything exciting, Dave McMillion reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Economist Anirbahn Basu spoke to 200 on the county’s economy.

MOTOROLA PACT: The Board of Public Works has approved contract for up to a $485 million over 15 years with Motorola Inc. to begin building a single communications network to link all first responders and state officials across Maryland, the Associated Press reports in the Sun. A pending protest to the contract award led Comptroller Peter Franchot to vote against the contract, Megan Poinski reports for

FRANCHOT BLASTS DJS: Comptroller Peter Franchot criticized the state Department of Juvenile Services for what he called the “administrative sloppiness” that led to a request Wednesday for the approval of $171 million in no-bid contracts for work that has already been performed, reports the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz. The contracts were approved by the votes of Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Megan Poinski reports for

ORIOLE PARK ADVERTISING: The state approved a $913,000 settlement with the Baltimore Orioles to get a portion of the revenues from the behind-home-plate advertising, reports The Daily Record’s Nicholas Sohr.

ENERGY DRINKS PULLED: Maryland’s two largest alcohol trade groups instructed their members to stop selling alcoholic drinks infused with caffeine, a voluntary move to counter what Franchot called “a clear public health and safety threat,” writes Annie Linskey of the Sun. The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr writes that state alcohol wholesalers groups expect 100 percent participation in the ban. John Rydell has a video report for WBFF-TV.

ROBO-SIGNING SETTLEMENT: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that state attorneys general and major mortgage lenders are a “long way” from reaching a settlement in the prosecutors’ investigation of “robo-signing” and other alleged activities that have brought the legitimacy of thousands of foreclosures into question, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said Wednesday.

MORE CHARGES: Former Prince George’s County Council candidate Jerry Mathis now faces a charge of making a misleading entry in a campaign finance report, writes The Gazette’s Daniel Valentine. Mathis also has pending charges of distributing campaign materials without saying who paid for them in connection with a controversial sample ballot distributed before the Sept. 14 primary.

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