State Roundup, December 23, 2011

REDISTRICTING HEARING:’s Megan Poinski and Len Lazarick look at the major themes from Thursday’s redistricting hearing in Annapolis: more minority districts, keep communities together, and even some thanks for a good job.

The Baltimore Sun’s Luke Broadwater focuses on the charges from several African-American lawmakers and groups that the map favors the election of white lawmakers. (The story also appeared for free in the Herald-Mail.) David Hill of The Washington Times explores the race-related complaints and suggestions to make the map lines more fair.

In an audio report for WYPR, Joel McCord reports that there are only 12 African-American districts in the current district map.

The Gazette’s Steve Kelly and Sarah Breitenbach report that more minority representation was the rallying cry at the hearing. Breitenbach writes about other minority concerns in the maps.

House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell promised that the Republican Party will submit its own version of the map next month, according to an Associated Press story in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

Before the redistricting hearing, Caroline County Commissioners panned the plan, which gives every county but Caroline at least one resident delegate, reports the Star-Democrat’s Chris Knauss.

O’MALLEY SURPRISED, DISAPPOINTED: Gov. Martin O’Malley first learned of Redistricting Advisory Committee member Richard Stewart’s tax evasion charges on Wednesday, and was both surprised and disappointed, reports’s Len Lazarick.

Kevin Rector of Patuxent Publishing writes about how Baltimore County GOP Chair Steve Kolbe started spreading news of the charges on Wednesday night.

RESIGN, O’MALLEY: Red Maryland’s Brian Griffiths blogs that the fact that O’Malley did not know about Richard Stewart’s charges – as well as corruption elsewhere in the government and the real issues in the state – shows he is only interested in angling for higher office and should resign.

PERSONNEL OFFICE AUDIT: The Capital’s Earl Kelly writes that an audit found the State Office of Personnel Services and Benefits stockpiled $21.4 million in its bank accounts, did not control cash receipts, and did not protect personal employee information.

FLIP SIDE OF BARTLETT POLL: While a poll released this week showed that incumbent U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett would beat out state Sen. Rob Garagiola, the fact that Bartlett leads by only about 7% — plus the fact that about 22% are undecided – don’t bode so well for the incumbent’s campaign, writes the Frederick News-Post’s Bethany Rodgers.

PAYROLL TAX CUT: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett criticized his own party in an e-mail on Thursday, telling top House leaders that the GOP “is not playing this right” in reference to the extension of the payroll tax cut, reports The Sun’s John Fritze.

6TH DISTRICT RACE: David Moon from Maryland Juice blogs that Democrat businessman John Delaney, who has yet to declare his candidacy, is hiring canvass directors for his campaign.

NO DISCLOSURE: The Daily Record’s editorial board targets judicial financial disclosure statements, and the fact that judges can simply turn in forms that say “no change” from the prior year, making the public records extremely difficult to fully comprehend.

NEW JUDGES: The Sun’s Andrea Siegel reports on 10 new judges named by Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday, including his naming of Robert McDonald, chief counsel for opinions and advice in the Attorney General’s office, to the Court of Appeals bench.

NO MORE SCAFFOLDING: Christmas decorations aren’t the only thing gleaming at the State House this holiday season. The last of the scaffolding around the dome is being taken down, revealing a new dazzling white paint job, reports The Sun’s Michael Dresser.

REQUIRED ENERGY REBATES: The Public Services Commission is requiring that Baltimore Gas and Electric increase its rebate programs for appliances, HVAC systems and lighting to encourage more energy efficiency statewide, reports the Baltimore Business Journal’s Scott Dance.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS:’s Len Lazarick blogs about the wording of holiday greetings from political types this year, declaring “Happy Holidays” the clear winner.

MONTGOMERY COLLEGE BONUS: Montgomery College employees will be receiving a big gift before the end of the fiscal year: a 2% bonus, writes Victor Zapana of The Washington Post.

ANNE ARUNDEL SCHOOL FUNDING: Superintendent Kevin Maxwell requested a $986 million budget, which includes raises for employees and 62 new teachers, reported The Capital’s Tina Reed. The budget request is almost $50 million more than the district currently has to spend.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY CARS: According to a county audit, Montgomery County should replace more than half of its non-public-safety vehicle fleet next year, which could cost in the neighborhood of $5.6 million, reports The Sentinel’s Christa Puccio.

WICOMICO REDISTRICTING: Wicomico County is starting its County Council redistricting process, discussing the establishment of a panel to look at population growth patterns, reports the Salisbury Daily Times’ Jennifer Shutt.

ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA: The governor’s environmental agenda is still “blowing in the wind,” writes Margie Hyslop in the Gazette, with a doubling of the flush tax still up in the air.

RON SMITH: Gazette columnist Blair Lee eulogizes WBAL talk show host Ron Smith, who died Monday, as the “voice of freedom.”

STATE BUDGET: In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar says Gov. Martin O’Malley will need more than Santa to help weather the bad news facing next year’s budget.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Laslo Boyd in his Gazette op-ed reviews the year in politics.



About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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