State Roundup, October 19, 2018

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HATE, BIAS INCIDENTS SOAR: Reports of hate are on the rise in Maryland. Maryland law enforcement agencies received 398 reports of hate or bias last year — alleged incidents that ranged from vandalism and intimidation to threats and attacks, according to the State Police and hundreds of pages of records, Catherine Rentz of the Sun reports. The reported incidents represented an increase of 35% from 2016 — and a pace of more than one report a day.

3 JOIN UMBC CLASS ACTION SUIT: Three new plaintiffs have joined the class action lawsuit charging the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Baltimore County police and prosecutors with mishandling rape reports. Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew reports that the original suit, filed last month in U.S. District Court, charges that county and university officials fail to take sexual assault reports seriously and that they “conspired” in some cases to cover them up.

EMAILS SHOW TRUMP INTERVENED ON FBI HQ: House Democrats said Thursday that they have obtained emails showing President Donald Trump intervened in a decision to build a new FBI headquarters at its current Washington location. The lawmakers said it was in Trump’s interest to prevent commercial development of the site that could compete with the nearby Trump International Hotel, Jeff Barker of the Sun is reporting. The change in course was a blow to Maryland and Virginia, which had been competing for years for the project and its anticipated 11,000 jobs.

SLEEP DISRUPTION OVER PURPLE LINE: Overnight excavation for the Purple Line is disrupting sleep for quite a number of Silver Spring residents, reports Katherine Shaver for the Post. And the Maryland Transit Administration appears to have been well aware that the tunneling, which is allowed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, would be particularly disruptive. In a little-known 2016 memorandum of understanding, state and Montgomery County officials agreed that the tunneling would be exempt from local limits on construction-related noise.

FAMILY FEUD & PIMLICO’s FUTURE: One recent Preakness a water problem rendered multiple bathrooms unusable. When it rains, the Pimlico infield turns into a bog and the grandstand roof sprouts leaks. Everything from falling ceiling tiles to the lack of luxury suites speaks to the 148-year-old horse track’s deterioration — and, state officials say, the need for a $300 million renovation. But if the Stronach Group that owns Pimlico has been reluctant to drop that kind of money on the aging track, a lawsuit filed this month in Canada offers a look at how freely its principals allegedly spend elsewhere, reports Jean Marbella for the Sun.

FRANCHOT BLASTS ANSHEUSER-BUSCH: Maryland’s comptroller is accusing brewer Anheuser-Busch of marketing binge drinking to college students after the special release of a keg-like 77-pack of Natural Light beer that sold out before the school’s homecoming weekend, Scott Broom of WUSA-TV reports.

MATHIAS VS. CAROZZA: Sara Swann of the Salisbury Daily Times writes about the race between incumbent state Sen. Jim Mathias (D) and state Del. Mary Beth Carozza (R), who is seeking to unseat him. The competition for District 38 has been heightened by state Republicans looking to flip the seat red in the hopes of sustaining Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto. As the sole Democrat in a more conservative rural area, Mathias is a vulnerable incumbent for the GOP to target.

JEALOUS BUSINESS STORY APPEARS TRUE: At virtually every campaign stop, Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Ben Jealous, tells a story about the one that got away. The tale comes from the former NAACP president’s years as a venture capitalist, and it involves a Canadian businessman who was looking to open a manufacturing plant in the United States. According to Jealous, he was trying to sell the owner on a location in Baltimore. The story, reports Michael Dresser of the Sun, apparently is true.

BLUE ‘WAVE’ MORE LIKE A BUMP: For months, Democrat Ben Jealous’ campaign for governor has publicly predicted a “blue wave” of turnout from progressive voters that will sweep Republican Gov. Larry Hogan out of office. But on a recent call with reporters, the campaign said its own models indicate that registered Democrats will make up just 57% of voters by Election Day. That would be a slight bump from the last gubernatorial election four years ago but hardly a dramatic “wave,” writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

HOGAN AD TARGETS BELTWAY DEMS: An ad released this week by Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign spends four minutes lauding the governor’s accomplishments on more than a dozen transportation projects, reports Rachel Baye for WYPR-FM. Through a series of television news clips and video of press conferences, the ad describes how Hogan advanced efforts to widen I-270, the Capital Beltway, the Baltimore Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway; extended the I-95 North toll lanes; and lowered tolls — among other things.

PURSUING TRUMP CALLED UNCONSTITUTIONAL: In addressing Attorney General Brian Frosh’s filing of lawsuits against President Trump, Republican House of Delegates candidate Richard Douglas, in an op-ed for MarylandReporter, contends that: “After four years, Mr. Frosh has harmed our state and the office of the Attorney General. He has not rationally pursued Maryland’s interests.” 

COLVIN-HARRIS DEBATE: Democratic congressional candidate Jesse Colvin attacked Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) over opioids, veterans and the environment during a debate that aired Thursday on cable television in rural Cecil County, Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports. But the political newcomer’s inexperience made for several awkward back-and-forth exchanges between the candidates.

SENATE HOPEFUL SIMON BACKS HOGAN: U.S. Senate candidate Neal Simon, who is running as an independent in challenging Democrat incumbent Ben Cardin, endorsed Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for reelection Thursday, citing the popular governor’s record of cutting taxes and fees and of protecting the Chesapeake Bay, Rachel Chason of the Sun writes.

PITTMAN, SCHUH SQUARE OFF: Arudel County executive candidates Steuart Pittman and incumbent Steve Schuh squared off Thursday in a contentious debate covering public safety, education and development. Schuh, a Republican, and Pittman, a Democrat, shook hands at the beginning but began trading barbs shortly after their opening remarks, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital.

POLL FINDS PITTMAN GAINING: Democratic challenger Steuart Pittman has gained 10 points on Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh despite residents approving of the job Schuh is doing, according to an Anne Arundel Community College survey. The Republican Schuh has 38% support from more likely voters compared to 33% support for Pittman, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports.

REALTORS BACK ELRICH: The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors has endorsed Marc Elrich for Montgomery County executive, adding a business group to the wide array of unions and progressive and environmental organizations backing the Democratic nominee, Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports.

  • Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports that Elrich said he was “really happy” when he found out Wednesday that he had received the endorsement. He said that although he and GCAAR leaders disagree on some issues, they’ve had “natural synergies” when it comes to issues such as school overcrowding, bus rapid transit and other quality of life issues.

PAC RAISES $$$ FOR ELRICH: Progressive Maryland Liberation Alliance, a super PAC that began working to support the campaign of Montgomery County executive candidate Marc Elrich earlier this month, has raised $131,000 since Sept. 27, of which more than 90% is from unions, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat writes.

REDMER TAKES TIME FROM STATE JOB TO CAMPAIGN: Baltimore County executive candidate Al Redmer Jr. has taken significant time off from his day job as the state’s insurance commissioner during the campaign, according to documents released from the Maryland Insurance Administration. The documents indicate that in some cases, Redmer, a Republican, has spent more than half of his workweeks on annual leave, away from his state job, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

OLSZEWSKI, REDMER DEBATE THORNTON: The two candidates for Baltimore County Executive debated everything from education to circuses Thursday morning. John Lee of WYPR-FM reports that during the live forum on WOLB Radio, Democrat Johnny Olszewski criticized Republican Al Redmer for voting against the Thornton school funding plan in 2002 when Redmer was a legislator.

SEN. CARTER & CITY CIVIL RIGHTS PANEL: Members of the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission are advocating for Mayor Catherine E. Pugh to reinstate state Sen. Jill P. Carter as director of the city’s civil rights office. Carter stepped down in May to the position of deputy in the agency after City Solicitor Andre M. Davis informed her that state ethics law prohibits her from holding the positions of state senator and director of the Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement at the same time. Carter, a lawyer, has told council members she disagrees with the way Davis, a former federal judge, interprets the law, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.