State Roundup, May 6, 2019

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BPW DELAYS CONTROVERSIAL ROAD VOTE: The Board of Public Works will put off a discussion and vote on Gov. Larry Hogan’s controversial highway widening proposal, which had been scheduled for May 8, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. “We plan to postpone consideration of this item,” Hogan’s communications director, Michael Ricci, said in an email. “This will give the treasurer a chance to weigh in as we work to address one of the worst traffic problems in the country.”

SRO MEETING ON ROAD EXPANSION: A town hall on a planned state expansion of the I-495/I-270 area drew a standing-room-only crowd to Silver Spring Sunday, Anna-Lysa Gayle of WJLA-TV reports. Many homeowners along the route are worried they could lose their homes, per eminent domain. Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, blasted what he called “pro-traffic activists” on social media.

DISAPPOINTMENT OVER DAVIS’s SPEAKER LOSS: The excitement of electing the first black woman to serve as speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates was mixed with a familiar frustration for many African American politicians in Prince George’s County, one of the wealthiest majority-black jurisdictions in the country. Black politicians from Prince George’s were edged out in the past two gubernatorial races, and leaders there had seen Dereck Davis’s possible ascension to the powerful speaker’s post as recognition that was long overdue, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

OPINION: VOTE COUNTING A TRICKY SCIENCE: In a column for Maryland Matters, Frank DeFilippo offers a history lesson in vote counting and the leadership in the Maryland General Assembly, writing that Del. Adrienne Jones is a first, all right – female and black in a gallery of succession that is exclusively male and white. But the new Maryland House speaker is not the first beneficiary of a faulty vote count, real, strategic or mischievous.

OP-ED: HOGAN COULD BE CLIMATE HERO: In an op-ed for the Post, Kristin Cook, of 350 Montgomery County, and Mike Tidwell, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, opine that the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act was passed by state’s General Assembly in April by huge veto-proof majorities. But Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has yet to say whether he’ll sign it or veto it. He has until late May. The bill holds so much promise for Maryland’s future, they write, that he would be a climate action hero if he signed it.

EAGLE PESTICIDE DEATHS: A once-common farm pesticide killed millions of birds before the U.S. government took steps to restrict its use in the 1990s and ban it in 2009. Since then, such poisonings have made up a small fraction of deaths among bald eagles — except in Maryland, Scott Dance reports in the Sun.

STUDENTS PROTEST AT JHU: A group of students that has taken over a hall at Johns Hopkins, chaining doors shut and forcing the building’s closure, are demanding that the university cancel plans for a private police force, which was approved by the Maryland General Assembly during the recent legislative session. They also want the university to end contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Catherine Rentz and Doug Donovan update this story.

SCHOOL FUNDING GRANTS: Maryland school districts are waiting for more than $250 million in state grants outlined in the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” bill — including $13.5 million that is incorporated in the Anne Arundel County budget revealed last week, Lauren Lumpkin reports for the Annapolis Capital. Proponents say the bill incentivizes school districts to get a jump start on recommendations set forth by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. Jurisdictions are eligible for grants of varying sizes

CITY SCHOOL LOSES TITLE I FUNDS: A Baltimore City school where more than half its student speak English as a second language will lose its federal Title 1 funding of $250,000 next year because of the way it calculates the number of poor families within its district, Talia Richman of the Sun reports. The General Assembly will be charged with designating a universal method for school districts to calculate how many low-income students they’re serving. The Maryland education and health departments are jointly working to develop the capacity to directly certify students using Medicaid data by December 2020.

HOGAN WROTE MLB LAST YEAR: Gov. Larry Hogan wrote to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred last year expressing concern about the effect of the lingering television rights fee dispute between the Orioles and Washington Nationals, and offering to help broker an agreement, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun. Hogan said in the Aug. 31 letter that the disagreement over how much the Orioles-controlled Mid-Atlantic Sports Network owes the Nationals “is of great concern to me for its potential negative impact on the Orioles, the City of Baltimore, and the State of Maryland.”

ATTY GEN SUES MANAGEMENT FIRM: Silver Spring-based Evergreen Management LLC and its owner have been charged with using homeowner and condominium association fees for personal gain, funneling money between accounts to cover the transgressions, the state attorney general’s office announced. Charlie Wright of Bethesda Beat reports that the property management company is owned by Jason Barry Oseroff, of Olney, and both were charged by the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for misappropriating consumers’ fees.

YOUNG REPUBLICANS ELECT LEADERSHIP: The Maryland Young Republicans elected new leadership over the weekend, Brian Griffiths writes in Red Maryland. Maria Sofia of Montgomery County was elected the chairman. She was the previous vice-chairman. A staffer in the Maryland Department of Planning, Sofia was instrumental in organizing YR Deployments in key races, especially the election of state Sen. Mary Beth Carozza.

YOUNG STARTS OFFICIAL TERM AS MAYOR: Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s phone rang over and over at breakfast Friday — his first full day as Baltimore’s chief executive — with calls from the city’s ministers, offering him prayers and words of encouragement and looking for reassurance he won’t change in the face of power and pressure, Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports.

  • Adam Bednar of the Daily Record writes that now that he has the job on an official basis, Young must build a team at City Hall he believes can accomplish his goals for Baltimore. He must quickly to decide which staff will move up with him from roles in the Baltimore City Council president’s office; which managers and staff who worked for former Mayor Catherine Pugh he wants to keep; and who he will pick to fill slots left open by a slew of firings and resignations.

PUGH’s LAST MONTH IN OFFICE, LEGACY: How did Catherine Pugh — known for her strong-willed insistence that her way is right — conclude that she needed to resign from the office of mayor of Baltimore? Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that the Sun interviewed friends and advisers to the 69-year-old Democrat who were in contact with her during her month-long leave of absence. They described a scene of anguish and emotional turmoil inside Pugh’s Ashburton home, while family, supporters and her doctor visited.

OPINION: WHAT ABOUT THE COMPANIES? The editorial board of the Post opines that Pugh’s resignation Thursday was a fitting capstone to the pay-to-play scandal that left a stain on her city and prompted emergency legislation in the General Assembly. Selling her “Healthy Holly” children’s books to companies over which she exercised influence was ethically bankrupt. But what of those companies? They share a measure of responsibility for acquiescing in the mayor’s scheme, but it is unclear whether they have drawn (or been taught) that lesson.

MAYOR CANDIDATES EMERGE: On Friday, three potential candidates indicated that they are gathering advisers who could form the beginning of a campaign team if they do decide to run for mayor of Baltimore, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.

KUSHNER CO. TENANTS DENIED CLASS ACTION STATUS: A Baltimore Circuit Court judge recently ruled against the tenants who are attempting to file a class action lawsuit alleging unlawful rental practices by the Maryland apartment company owned by Jared Kushner, son-in-law and adviser to President Donald Trump, Doug Donovan writes in the Sun.

OHIO REDISTRICTING FOUND ILLEGAL: A unanimous panel of federal judges on Friday declared Ohio’s Republican-drawn congressional map unconstitutional, adding to a growing number of states where partisan gerrymandering has been outlawed, reports Robert Barnes in the Post. But with the ruling in Ohio, federal courts in five states – including Maryland — have struck down maps as partisan gerrymanders. The decisions will either guide the Supreme Court to find there is a way for judges to identify extreme partisanship — or make the rulings short-lived.