State Roundup, April 25, 2019

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BREAKING: FBI, IRS RAID PUGH HOME, CITY HALL: FBI and IRS agents are raiding Baltimore’s City Hall and the home of Mayor Catherine Pugh Thursday morning, reports Ian Duncan for the Sun. Dave Fitz, an FBI spokesman, confirmed agents from the Washington field office were executing search warrants at those locations Thursday morning, as well as at another address associated with Pugh.

TOP DEM WARNS ON GOP ALLIANCE IN SPEAKER RACE: Concerned that Republicans could influence the pivotal election for the next speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and progressive groups on Wednesday urged Democrats not to cut a deal with the GOP, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

12 SEEK BUSCH’s DISTRICT HOUSE SEAT: Former city alderman, senate candidates and two alderwomen are among the 12 people who have applied to fill Mike Busch’s District 30A seat. The Anne Arundel County Central Committee released Wednesday the list of applicants for the delegate seat. The seat became open after Busch, D-Annapolis, died April 7 after a battle with pneumonia. Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports.

BPW QUESTIONS GIFTS IN UM FOOD CONTRACTS: Maryland’s governor and comptroller said Wednesday that they want an explanation from the University System of Maryland about provisions in dining hall contracts that include unrelated gifts to college campuses and require fee payments if contract extensions aren’t approved, Danielle Gaines reports in Maryland Matters. A University of Maryland Eastern Shore contract under consideration with Thompson Hospitality Services of Reston, Va., included a $100,000 unrestricted gift to the campus and up to an $80,000 catering allowance during a one-year renewal period.

DEL. SAAB APOLOGIZES FOR TWITTER ADS: Looking to buy a car or visit a local urgent care? Look no further than Del. Sid Saab’s political Twitter account. Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital writes that the Crownsville Republican said he inadvertently posted advertisements for Chesapeake ERgent Care and a 1986 Nissan 300ZX. It is against Maryland ethics law to use a person’s title or position to enrich themselves.

HOGAN COMMUTES LIFE SENTENCE: Gov. Larry Hogan’s office said Wednesday the governor has commuted the life sentence of Calvin Ash, a 68-year-old Baltimore man who has spent nearly his entire adult life behind bars despite multiple recommendations from the parole commission for his release, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun.

OPINION: HOGAN RUNS, BOTH HE & TRUMP LOSE: In an interesting look at Gov. Hogan’s flirting with running for the Republican presidential nomination against the incumbent President Trump, the editorial board for the Sun opines that the challenges will be steep and, if history repeats itself, the outcomes are bad for both the challenger and the incumbent.

SEARCH PANEL SET FOR LOH REPLACEMENT: The University System of Maryland’s chancellor on Wednesday announced the 20-person committee that will search for the next president of the University of Maryland, College Park. Talia Richman of the Sun writes that President Wallace Loh will remain at the state flagship’s helm through his retirement in June 2020. He was originally set to step down at the end of this year, in what was perhaps the most dramatic fallout from the death of 19-year-old football player Jordan McNair and the subsequent scandal that enveloped the athletic department.

REPARATIONS FOR LEAD PAINT VICTIMS: Victims of lead-paint poisoning who lost millions in deals with a Chevy Chase company may be able to get more money back than they initially expected, after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said new lawsuits against the company can go forward, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

INSPECTORS CONFIRM PIMLICO GRANDSTAND PROBLEMS: Baltimore building inspectors visited Pimlico Race Course this week and confirmed the deterioration in the Old Grandstand that led the Maryland Jockey Club to close off nearly 7,000 seats for Preakness weekend next month. Doug Donovan of the Sun writes that while elected officials continued to blame owners The Stronach Group for Pimlico’s condition, Jockey Club executives said the city and state has known the 148-year-old track has been deteriorating for decades without devising a strategy to save Pimlico.

U.S., FOREIGN DRUG PRICES COMPARED: Millions of people suffering from diabetes in the United States have faced steep increases in the cost of their insulin, forcing some to ration their medicine and risk severe complications, according to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who released a report Wednesday showing how much less they would pay in other countries, Meredith Cohn and Cody Boteler of the Sun report.

YOUNG PUTS STAMP ON B’MORE: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh retains the power to return from her leave of absence at any moment. But during her fourth week out of the office, signs of her authority at City Hall are being erased, as acting Mayor Jack Young’s name has replaced hers on budget documents, staff email signatures and official letterhead. Also on Wednesday, Young said he had fired three aides in the mayor’s office with close ties to Pugh, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.

YOUNG CLARIFIES PUGH REMARK: Ethan McCleod of Baltimore Fishbowl writes that on Tuesday, Ex Officio Mayor Jack Young raised some eyebrows after saying to WYPR-FM’s Tom Hall that he would “hate to see” Pugh attempt a return to the mayor’s office following her “Healthy Holly” scandal. Now Young is saying he doesn’t see how he could have been misinterpreted. “What I was saying was I would hate to see what would the response be,” he tried to clarify.

NEW LOOK AT COLUMBIA’s HISTORY: The planning of new town Columbia, Md., is an old story made fresh with a new hour-long documentary called “Columbia’s Promise” from Maryland Public Television that airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and will be available online throughout May if not longer, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.