State Roundup, November 24, 2010

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HARRIS CAMPAIGN WORKERS: Republican Congressman-elect Andy Harris and Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, unlike other Maryland congressional candidates, did not provide health insurance, cover payroll taxes or pay for unemployment insurance for their campaign workers, a practice that may skirt IRS rules. Richard Abdill of Capital News Service reports the story in the Salisbury Daily Times.

MORE $$ TO HENSON: The campaign of former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich reported paying $14,000 in the final days of the race to political consultant Julius Henson, who has taken responsibility for ordering election-night robocalls suggesting Democrats “relax” and stay home. The payments bring the total Ehrlich spent on Henson’s services in 2010 to $111,150, John Wagner blogs for the Post.

Annie Linskey of the Sun reports that the $14,000 came in two checks to Henson’s company, Universal Elections. Robert Lang of WBAL-Radio also writes about the payments. Click the highlighted link to review Ehrlich’s reported expenditures.

PLEADS NOT GUILTY: A 22-year veteran of the Prince George’s County police accused of participating in a scheme to distribute black-market alcohol and cigarettes pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was ordered released from custody as he awaits trial, Maria Glod reports for the Post. This was part of the investigation that ensnared Prince George’s executive Jack Johnson and his wife Leslie.

MUM SINCE ARRESTS: Prince George’s County Council members have been noticeably absent since the arrests of County Exec Johnson and his wife, Councilwoman-elect Leslie Johnson, spurring questions about their silence and unity in the wake of an ongoing corruption investigation. Some say members are busy debating the chairman position and Leslie Johnson’s swearing-in, writes the Gazette’s Daniel Valentine.

OPEN CABINET SEATS: Environment Secretary Shari Wilson and Higher Education Secretary James Lyons are leaving the O’Malley administration, writes John Wagner of the Post. Annie Linskey and Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun report that their departures open up three cabinet posts.

Scott Dance of the Baltimore Business Journal writes about Wilson’s departure. Here’s the Sun blog on Wilson’s departure. And here’s a brief from the Sun on Lyons’ leaving.

LIFE SENTENCE: The Sun’s Dan Rodricks writes about Farley Grant, who as a 14-year-old was sentenced to life for a murder he didn’t commit. He’s been waiting for years for Gov. Martin O’Malley to read the report on his innocence.

CHAT WITH DUTCH: In the second of a two-part interview with U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, reporter Ron Snyder asks the five-term congressman about BRAC, terrorism and advice to newly elected Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

HAGERSTOWN ROBOCALL: The Maryland Attorney General’s Office will forward a complaint about a Hagerstown robocall to the state prosecutor’s office. That call attacked Democratic Washington County Commissioner Kristin Aleshire, who lost his bid for re-election, and ended with a line saying the Washington County Republican Central Committee paid for the message, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

BENEFITS PRICE: Michael Laris of the Post reports on Montgomery County’s employee benefits packages and how they cost taxpayers dearly. Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner reports that the average Montgomery employee costs taxpayers $100,000 in salary and benefits — a 50% hike over the past decade.

WIND POWER: U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday he would speed approval of offshore wind farms and identify the most promising areas of the Atlantic Coast to located turbines for power generation. Maryland has already scouted prime areas for wind farms and, with the Department of the Interior, is seeking developers, reports Nick Sohr of the Daily Record.

Tim Wheeler of the Sun reports that Interior hopes to issue federal leases for putting huge power-generating turbines off Ocean City within the next year.

MORE JOBS: Maryland’s private-sector employers picked up the pace in October, helping propel the state to a 5,900-job gain despite cuts by government agencies, reports the Sun’s Jamie Smith Hopkins.

MORE PROBE: Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc. is back in the news: It is now under investigation by the state’s health inspector general for employing a psychiatrist who had been convicted several years earlier of Medicaid fraud, Scott Calvert reports for the Sun.

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