State Roundup, November 29, 2010

BUDGET GAP: With the state budget problems deepening, Gov. Martin O’Malley will have to find new ways to fill the gaps that no one wants to sacrifice for, writes Barry Rascovar for the Gazette.

EARMARK MORATORIUM: Paul West of the Sun reports that a moratorium on federal earmarks is expected to force Maryland colleges and universities, the state and local governments, private companies, charities and nonprofit organizations and other potential recipients to look elsewhere for future funding.

GOP LOSSES, WINS: John Wagner of the Washington Post reports that after becoming Maryland’s first Republican governor in a generation, Bob Ehrlich had a simple prescription for how his party could build on his 2002 victory in the heavily Democratic state: Win more big races. Eight years later, the party is starting to think smaller, and seeing victory in those smaller offices.

Julie Bykowicz of the Baltimore Sun also makes note of the trend of state offices staying blue while local offices become red.

Alan Brody of the Gazette writes that while narrow defeats thwarted a good year for Republicans, the close election losses offer a spark of hope for their future. Anne Kramer of WBAL-AM reports the story with the Associated Press.

O’MALLEY OUTSPENDS: Maryland’s gubernatorial contest cost the two main candidates about $17 million this year, according to campaign finance reports, with O’Malley outspending Republican challenger Bob Ehrlich by nearly $3 million, writes Julie Bykowicz of the Sun.

FINANCE LAW GAPS: A final round of election reports trickling on to Maryland’s campaign finance Web site just before Thanksgiving showed just how little is known about where, when, and how candidates for governor and other statewide offices in Maryland raised and spent money in the crucial final weeks before Election Day, writes the Post’s Aaron Davis.

OPEN GOVERNMENT: Legislators and advocates on the right and left are often at odds on policy, but a conference next week will bring divergent groups together on something they can all agree on: the need for greater openness and transparency in government, writes Megan Poinski of

SNOWDEN SENTENCE: For the second time in eight years, Carl Snowden, current director of the civil rights office in the state attorney general’s office, received probation before judgment for drunken driving, which may prove to be an illegal sentence, reports Andrea Siegel for the Sun.

OFFERING BRIBES: One of the Prince George’s County liquor store owners indicted as part of a large-scale federal probe into corruption had been offering bribes to county public officials, prosecutors alleged in federal court. Andrea Noble has the story for the Gazette.

PRESSURE ON JOHNSON: Prince George’s council member Will Campos has become the fifth county legislator to urge Leslie Johnson to give up her just-won seat on the nine-member panel because of the corruption charges she is facing along with her husband, County Executive Jack Johnson, writes Miranda Spivack of the Post.

ROCKY TRANSITION: Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that top officials on Prince George’s exec-elect Rushern Baker’s transition team say the outgoing administration of beleaguered Jack Johnson has not been cooperative, even failing to help with customary procedures.

REFORM AT RISK: Baker campaigned with a pledge to change the status quo, but some of his transition team selections — those providing input on department leaders and county issues — put his reformer image at risk, writes the editorial board for the Gazette.

POLICE WRONG-DOING: The three Prince George’s police officers arrested as part of the sweeping federal investigation into corruption in the county represent only a fraction of those accused of wrongdoing, according to police officials and internal department records, Matt Zapotosky of the Post reports. Only the three most recent arrests are involved in the federal probe.

FARM AID: Del.-elect Charles Otto’s farming background gave him the support, which gave him the leg up to win his election, Greg Latshaw reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. The story also delves into campaign aid received by state Sen.-elect Jim Mathias.

ARUNDEL PENSION: Anne Arundel County Exec John Leopold has set his sights on an overhaul of the county’s pension and retiree health care benefits in his second term, the Sun’s Nicole Fuller reports.

HO CO CASH: Howard County Democrats, most of whom cruised to easy re-election, will return to office flush with leftover campaign cash, according to the latest state reports, the Sun’s Larry Carson writes.

KAMENETZ’S EXPERIENCE: Former Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz promises to bring a blend of experience and new ideas to Baltimore County’s top job — he’ll need both, given the challenges ahead, opines the Sun’s editorial board.

The Sun asked community leaders to give advice to the incoming county executive. Read what they have to offer.

EXPENSIVE RACE: The 2010 Baltimore County Executive’s race is likely to measure up as one of the most expensive in county history, and its winner, Kamenetz, arguably raised and spent more on his victory than other previous contenders, writes Bryan Sears for

Sears also reports that Kamenetz raised and spent more than his Republican opponent by a 5-to-1 ratio in the 2010 election.

HISTORIC WOMEN: Vicki Almond and Cathy Bevins’ swearing-in to the Baltimore County Council on Dec. 6 will mark the first time that two women serve simultaneously, writes Raven Hill for the Baltimore Sun.

NO WOMEN: In an op-ed piece for the Frederick News-Post, Elizabeth Cupino writes about the lack of women on the Frederick County Commission and what that might mean.

CHEAPER RACE: While Baltimore County’s county executive race may be one for the books, Anne Arundel County’s is not. Spending by County Executive John Leopold and Democratic challenger Joanna Conti this election cycle totaled $677,869 with Conti spending two-thirds of that, records show, costing half what the top two candidates spent in 2006, Erin Cox writes for the Annapolis Capital.

FORT MEADE CLEANUP: The environmental cleanup at Fort Meade is finally moving forward, reports Pamela Wood of the Annapolis Capital. Be sure to take a look at the nifty clickable map that gives information on cleanup and/or inspection sites at Fort Meade.

WINE WHINE: Key lawmakers in Annapolis say they are open to modifying the state’s alcohol laws so consumers can receive shipments of wine in the mail. That idea pleases those in the burgeoning locavore movement, as it eases access to Maryland wines. Annie Linskey blogs the story for the Sun. Be sure to read reader comments. Some are very insightful.

JOBLESS BENEFITS CUTOFF: Thousands of Marylanders face being cut off from unemployment benefits next month — just in time for the holiday season — as Congress remains undecided on whether to extend the payments in one of the worst job markets in decades. Jamie Hopkins reports for the Sun.

READY FOR SNOW: With memories of last winter’s paralyzing blizzards not far from anyone’s memory, the State Highway Administration said it’ll get a jump on anything Old Man Winter dishes out by pretreating hundreds of miles of interstate highways under threat of snow, writes Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times.

CITY BOTTLE TAX: Some Baltimore business owners say the city’s new bottled beverage tax isn’t fair and they’ve renewed efforts to repeal it, reports Gigi Barnett of WJZ. She adds that the tax is expected to raise $6 million.

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