State Roundup, November 22, 2010

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BOOZE & POLITICS: The arrests of a Prince George’s County liquor store magnate and his wife by federal authorities as part of a broad corruption probe involving County Exec Jack Johnson has pulled back the curtain on the complex and often incestuous world of liquor and politics in the county, reports Rosalind Helderman for the Washington Post.

MORE PRESSURE: Pressure is mounting on Johnson and his wife, newly elected County Council member Leslie Johnson, to step aside, the Post’s Miranda Spivack and Hamil Harris report.

ASSEMBLY SESSION: Abby Brownback of Capital News Service reports in the Laurel Leader that Prince George’s legislators say the charges against the Johnsons won’t affect General Assembly session, and Senate President Mike Miller says that the General Assembly would be sympathetic to the county.

SHAME ON: In an insightful and humorous piece, Courtland Milloy, a Washington Post columnist, writes about how the arrest of one black man — County Exec Jack Johnson — can shame an entire population of intelligent, upright African-American county residents.

EHRLICH STILL MUM: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich declined to comment on his wife’s WBAL-Radio show Saturday about the anonymous election day robocall orchestrated by an operative working for his campaign, Robert Lang reports for the station. Click on the links to the right of Lang’s report to listen to segments of the Kendel Ehrlich Show. John Wagner picks up the report for the Post.

And David Zurawik, media critic of the Sun, says Ehrlich’s visit brought “further embarrassment to the station and its news operation.”

DIME’S IMPACT: Barbara Pash of reports that the hospitality industry is anticipating a devastating impact from the “dime-a-drink” proposal.

NEW PROSECUTOR: Gov. Martin O’Malley has named Emmet Davitt, an attorney who represents the state’s utility regulatory body, to be the state’s next political corruption watchdog, writes Annie Linskey in the Baltimore Sun.

DEVORE’S LEGACY: Don DeVore came to Maryland’s Department of Juvenile Services with plenty of self-assurance. Four years later, he leaves a department that, despite some progress, is still failing Maryland’s most vulnerable kids, opines the Sun’s editorial board. His successes seem to have come mainly in areas where the credit had to be shared among many, while his failures were in areas that were his alone to control.

STEELE STEELY: In a memo distributed to the Republican National Committee members, Chairman Michael Steele pushed back against a growing din of criticism over his two years in office, arguing that his time in the post has been defined by a series of electoral, fundraising and grassroots successes, Chris Cillizza blogs for the Post.

Still, challengers keep lining up, blogs Cillizza. Now, Wisconsin Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus is actively mulling a bid for Steele’s seat, and he is receiving encouragement from ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich among others.

MD GOP CHAIR: John Wagner blogs that two more potential candidates for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party confirmed their interest in interviews with the Post: Andrew Langer and William Campbell.

CHAT WITH DUTCH: In the first part of a two-part series, Ron Snyder of interviews U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, just elected to his fifth term, on the “Bush tax cuts,” health insurance reform and border security.

ON HARRIS: Greg Latshaw writes a piece for the Salisbury Daily Times on Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist and state senator who has just beaten Frank Kratovil for a U.S. House seat, and his future in that seat.

KRATOVIL COMEBACK? The Sun is reporting, in a story written by the Associated Press, that ousted U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil, who lost to Andy Harris, will consider trying to win his seat back in 2012.

SIT DOWN & RACE: O’Malley managed to get the bickering corporate parents of the state’s thoroughbred racing industry in the same room last week, but Penn National and MI Developments have not yet agreed on a plan for the Maryland Jockey Club in 2011, Nick Sohr blogs for the Daily Record.

APG UPGRADE: Jamie Smith Hopkins of the Sun reports that Aberdeen Proving Ground’s latest expansion involves glassy new office buildings that wouldn’t be out of place in a business park, civilians with advanced degrees and thousands of new jobs in technical fields ranging from medical research to software development.

SMOKE FREE: A report by several public health organizations has ranked Maryland’s funding of its anti-tobacco program 34th in the country, reports Lindsay Powers of Capital News Service in the Sun.

BONUSES: In some Eastern Shore towns, governments are offering workers bonuses. But the opinionators at the Salisbury Daily Times want to know why taxpayer concerns aren’t being met first.

MOCO BUDGET: Montgomery County officials are preparing for a super-sized and front-loaded budget season that is likely to dominate much of the county’s political agenda through the fall, winter and into spring, Michael Laris reports for the Post.

RACE TO TOP: Public schools likely won’t begin piloting new teacher evaluations related to the federal Race to the Top initiative in January, as originally scheduled, because of delays in drawing up new evaluation criteria, writes Andrew Ujifusa of the Gazette.

OK SCHOOL PLAN: The state Board of Education should approve the application for the Frederick Classical Charter School, a plan that could make it a much-needed high-performing public school, writes Marta Mossburg in the Frederick News Post.

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