State Roundup, April 26, 2019

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HOGAN CALLS ON PUGH TO RESIGN: Gov. Larry Hogan is calling on Baltimore’s embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign Thursday, a few hours after federal investigators raided her home and other locations including City Hall, Lillian Reed and Jeff Barker of the Sun report. Two Baltimore members of Congress, Reps. Elijah Cummings and Dutch Ruppersberger, urged Pugh to act — in Ruppersberger’s words — in the “best interests” of the city, although neither used the word “resign.”

WHERE THE RAIDS OCCURRED: Baltimoreans woke up Thursday to the news that FBI agents were on the move across the city, raiding City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s homes — among other locations — amid what appeared to be a large investigation also involving the Internal Revenue Service. The FBI confirmed its agents were executing search warrants at seven locations connected to Pugh or her top aides.

UMMS SUBPOENAED: The University of Maryland Medical System on Thursday received a subpoena for documents in a federal investigation into Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s business dealings, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. Michael Schwartzberg, a spokesman for the hospital network, said the medical system “has received a grand jury witness subpoena today from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland seeking documents and information from UMMS in order to conduct their investigation of Mayor Pugh.”

‘CITY AT A STANDSTILL:’ As a federal investigation into Pugh’s business dealings thrust the seat of city government into disarray, Baltimore residents expressed concern about how the rapidly developing scandal would affect city operations. Yet Baltimore leaders have pledged to move forward with the work that affects everyday people’s lives, Talia Richman of the Sun writes.

CITY HALL RAID ‘UNPRECEDENTED:’ While a few Baltimore politicians have, historically, been hauled off and convicted, local historians and researchers cannot identify a time when federal agents actually raided City Hall, writes Jacques Kelly in the Sun. “This is unprecedented,” said Matthew Crenson, a retired Johns Hopkins political history professor and the author of “Baltimore: A Political History.”

PUBLISH & PERISH? Chris Kaltenbach of the Sun writes about five instances when politicians or government officials might have been better served by avoiding the publishing world.

OPINION: WHAT THE RAIDS MEAN, WHAT THEY DON’T: The raids by federal investigators on Mayor Catherine Pugh’s homes, City Hall and several other locations Thursday morning represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis surrounding her leadership of the city. The editorial board for the Sun opines that there are some things we can safely conclude from the morning’s events — and some things we can’t.

ALDERWOMAN CHOSEN TO REPLACE DEL. BUSCH: Annapolis Alderwoman Shaneka Henson is the party pick to take over the late House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch’s seat. The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee chose Henson for the seat over 13 other candidates, who each gave interviews during a marathon meeting Thursday night, Danielle Ohl reports in the Annapolis Capital.

BLACK CAUCUS FIRES BACK OVER SPEAKERSHIP: The leader of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus fired back at the head of the state Democratic Party, saying the organization may need to break with tradition to shatter the glass ceiling for black lawmakers in leadership, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Del. Darryl Barnes, D-Prince George’s, in a letter to the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said it was “distressing that our party leader chose to threaten our members with punishments for being bold enough to do something different to get historic results.”

BREAKING: JONES, DAVIS JOINT EFFORT: Dels. Adrienne Jones and Dereck Davis are holding a press conference Friday morning in Baltimore “to announce their joint effort to elect the first African American to the position of Speaker,” said a press release sent out late Thursday night. “In forming this alliance, the two are bridging a once wide geographical and political gap between Baltimore County and Prince George’s County and engaging democratic delegates from counties across Maryland and Baltimore City to assert the party’s majority control of the state’s legislative body.” They will be joined by House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch.

RENEWABLE ENERGY BILL: Whether Maryland will invest in more renewable energy remains a politically charged question as Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has yet to sign or veto a bill that would double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, Samantha Hogan of the Frederick News-Post reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), passed as the General Assembly neared the final hours of the 2019 session. It seeks to increase the state’s existing mandate of 25% renewable energy by 2020 to 50% in the next decade.

BA CO EXEC SEEKS MORE ED FUNDS: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Thursday asked Maryland lawmakers to reconsider legislation that would provide additional state funding to the counties for school construction during the General Assembly’s special session beginning May 1, Cody Boteler of the Sun reports. If the extra funding doesn’t come this year, Olszewski said during a news conference in Towson, he would like to see it be HB and SB 1 next year — the first thing the legislature picks up.

STRONACH MAY TURN OVER SEATING REPORT: Maryland Jockey Club attorney told the Maryland Racing Commission Thursday that the company would provide an un-redacted copy of an engineering report completed in late March that led it to close 6,670 seats at Pimlico weeks before the Preakness Stakes. But, Rachael Pacella of the Annapolis Capital reports, there was a catch. Attorney Alan Rifkin asked that the commission first enter into a confidentiality agreement since the report is an issue in a lawsuit filed by Baltimore City against the Jockey Club and its owner, The Stronach Group.

OPINION: HOGAN’s PATH TO WHITE HOUSE: The editorial board of the Annapolis Capital contends that there is a path that Gov. Larry Hogan can take to victory in the White House in 2020: Either President Trump’s loyalists tire of his Twitter rants — they may start thinking that surely there is a better way to get those conservative judges appointed, activist policies overturned and pesky regulations dismantled — or Trump tires of the presidency.

A DIVERSE PASSOVER: Matzoh and bitter herbs might not, at first glance, be the obvious response to a spate of violent terrorist attacks on religious institutions. But one Montgomery County Council member hopes the traditional Passover foods — and the bevy of religious leaders who partook of them in Rockville on Wednesday night — will send a message of unity among the county’s many faiths, Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports. About 20 rabbis, imams, ministers and leaders of other religious groups gathered for a midweek version of the ritual dinner that usually ushers in the start of Passover, the Jewish festival that began the night of April 19 and ends this weekend.

CITY BOARD PULLS ABC CONTRACTS: Baltimore City’s Board of Estimates abruptly pulled $14 million in contracts scheduled to be awarded today to Associated Black Charities and postponed the transaction for at least two weeks. The action followed a story in Baltimore Brew that the board was poised to approve the ABC contracts, despite the non-profit’s involvement in the Healthy Holly book scandal that has engulfed Mayor Catherine Pugh, Fern Shen reports in the Brew.

PENCE TO SPEAK AT MD GOP DINNER: Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak at an annual Maryland Republican Party dinner in June. The party announced Wednesday night that the vice president will be the special guest at the Red, White and Blue Dinner in Linthicum on June 24, the AP is reporting.

LONGTIME BA CO COUNCIL SECRETARY DIES: Thomas “Tommy” Toporovich, the former longtime colorful Baltimore County Council secretary and Dundalk community activist who was a proponent of the “Full Dundalk” look when it came to his sartorial splendor, died Monday from cancer at the Riverview Rehabilitation and Health Center. in Essex, reports Fred Rasmussen for the Sun. He was 89.