State Roundup, November 2, 2016

BCCC PRES AGAINST UMS MERGER: The president of Baltimore City Community College told lawmakers Tuesday that he opposes a recommendation that the school join into the University System of Maryland. Gordon May, who has led BCCC for the past two years, said the school is making progress in the face of recent enrollment declines and accreditation troubles, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

  • May was responding to a panel reviewing the operations of Baltimore City Community College, which told legislators they need to blow up the current structure of the struggling institution, starting with making it part of the University System of Maryland. The change is among dozens of recommendations that also include potentially eliminating staff and education courses, realigning programs to meet the needs of local businesses and rebranding the former-city run two-year institution that was taken over by the state in 1990, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: The editorial board of the Sun looks at the $82 million in general fund budget cuts Gov. Larry Hogan will seek through the Board of Public Works and concludes that they are less than meets the eye — less in terms of their economic significance, their political significance and their impact on improving the state’s bottom line.

EVERGREEN ON HOLD: Marylanders hoping to buy health insurance from Evergreen Health through the state’s online insurance exchange, which opened Tuesday, will have to wait. In a bid to stay in business, Evergreen announced plans in October to be acquired by a group of investors and convert from a nonprofit to a for-profit insurer. It won’t be allowed to sell health plans through the exchange unless and until the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approves the proposal, Matt Jablow, an Evergreen spokesman, confirmed Tuesday, Sarah Gantz reports for the Sun.

BUSCH BACKS FOR BENCH: Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports that a Democratic rally in Annapolis on Tuesday evening, House Speaker Michael E. Busch urged voters to support Claudia Barber after backing the four sitting judges during the primary elections. After he voiced his support for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen, he added, “and put Claudia Barber on the bench.” The call for support seems to go against Busch’s previous endorsement of the combined slate of Judges Glenn Klavans, Stacy McCormack, Donna Schaeffer and Cathy Vitale.

PASS QUESTION B IN HOWARD: The editorial board for the Sun backs Question B, a referendum on the ballot in Howard County, oping that Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is making an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument in his opposition to Question B, a proposed charter amendment that would tinker with the county’s budget process. Ultimately, though, we believe the change voters are being asked to consider has little potential for harm and provides some flexibility in the budgeting process that could serve legitimate policy purposes.

HOWARD SCHOOL BOARD: Unhappy parents, teachers and education activists are pushing to put new faces on the Howard County school board in Tuesday’s election, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. Howard’s schools have long enjoyed a reputation as among Maryland’s best, but critics say board members and the superintendent too often act without public input and don’t listen to community concerns.

FIRED PRISON OFFICIALS SPEAK OUT: Top officials fired last week by the department that runs Maryland’s prison system said their former unit’s ability to investigate corruption is being thwarted amid innuendo and bureaucratic infighting, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. Steve Geppi and Debra Gonzalez Morin ran the investigation and intelligence operations at the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. They told The Baltimore Sun they were suspended just one week after they played key roles in putting together a case in which 80 people — including 18 correctional officers — were charged with corruption at a prison on the Eastern Shore.

MIERDA ON SOME VANITY PLATES: Maryland courts have made a ruling about vanity license plates and just how far drivers can go when it comes to expressing themselves on their cars. When John Mitchell ordered personalized plates for his ’98 BMW seven years ago, what he didn’t expect was a complaint and a court case. Still, the Court of Appeals of Maryland just ruled the plates could offend some Spanish speakers. The plates have yet to come off and won’t, Mitchell says, until he runs out of legal options, WJZ-TV reports.

GANNETT ENDS PURCHASE ATTEMPT OF TRONC: Drew Hansen of the Washington Business Journal is reporting that Gannett Co. Inc. is ending its bid to purchase the parent company of the Baltimore Sun. McLean, Va.-based Gannett, which owns USA Today and more than 100 daily newspapers, had made several offers for Tronc Inc. this year. Chicago-based Tronc, which changed its name from Tribune Publishing Co. in June as part of a rebranding effort, owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other metro dailies. A deal would have greatly increased Gannett’s national footprint.

FLOWERS, SZELIGA JOINT VIDEO: In unusual move in an unusual election year, the Green Party and Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have produced a joint video challenging Democrat Chris Van Hollen to a televised three-way debate. “We don’t agree on everything,” says Margaret Flowers of the Green Party in the video. “But we do agree that voters should have a choice this year,” says Republican Kathy Szeliga.

EARLY VOTING: Almost 16% of Maryland’s registered voters, 609,520 people, have voted with two days left to go. Early voting ends tomorrow, Thursday, at 8 p.m.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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