State Roundup, May 29, 2019

Print More

EX-SEN. KELLY UNDER SCRUTINY: Kevin Rector and Meredith Cohn of the Sun report that former state Sen. Frank Kelly Jr., who has molded the UMMS since its inception more than three decades ago, now faces scrutiny from state and federal agencies.  Kelly used his seat in the state legislature in the mid-1980s to help create UMMS and build its world-renowned Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He joined the system’s board of directors in 1986 and never left, despite rules mandating turnover.

UMMS SHORE SERVICE DRAWS ANGER: Luke Broadwater and Doug Donovan of the Sun write that Chestertown resident Kirk Wade was rushed to the Shore Medical Center for emergency services last summer but the nearest surgeon was an hour away in Easton and the ambulance wouldn’t be able to take him for three hours. Now he and other residents of this Eastern Shore town have been incensed to learn that UMMS board members who oversaw the cutbacks at their hospital were themselves winning big-ticket contracts from the medical system. “They’re clearly downgrading services for the northern Eastern Shore, and they’re paying themselves millions of dollars,” Wade says. “It’s clearly outrageous.”

SKIPPED CLASSES RAISE QUESTIONS ON DIPLOMAS’ WORTH: As graduation approached last year, the list of often-absent students at Albert Einstein High School in suburban Maryland was long. More than 175 seniors repeatedly missed classes, many in courses required for their diplomas. Most students at the Montgomery County school graduated anyway. The extent of the absenteeism at Einstein raises questions among some educators about the integrity of grades and diplomas in a school system regarded as among the nation’s best, the Post’s Donna St. George and Justin Wm. Moyer.

BAY FOUNDATION PUSHES SUIT AGAINST PA: The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is calling for stronger federal enforcement and potential litigation against Pennsylvania if that state does not improve its efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.

NEW PURPLE LINE CEO: In this Q&A with the Post’s Katherine Shaver, Peter van der Waart, who recently took over as CEO for the team of companies building Maryland’s light-rail Purple Line, says he wants to clear “roadblocks” from Maryland’s delayed light-rail project and speed approvals needed to get to “full construction.”

OPINION: HOGAN’s BROKEN PROMISES: In an op-ed for Maryland Matters, Benjamin Ross, of the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition, opines that “Maryland taxpayers will be on the hook if the toll lanes Gov. Larry Hogan wants to build on I-270 and the Washington Beltway flop. So states the fine print of contract terms that the Maryland Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on June 5. The contract terms directly contradict the governor’s pre-election pledge that it would not cost taxpayers any money. This is not the first broken promise on the toll lanes. ”

NAACP ASKS GA PROBE OF DELEGATE: The leaders of Baltimore County’s two NAACP chapters are outraged about a state delegate’s Facebook comment that they and others say evokes the use of lynching for public school officials. Baltimore County NAACP President Anthony S. Fugett said he intends to speak to members of the county’s General Assembly delegation to determine whether the elected officials intend to hold their colleague accountable, Doug Donovan writes for the Sun.

GROUP FIGHTS JHU POLICE FORCE: A group of Baltimore residents fighting the creation of an armed Johns Hopkins University police force faces a key deadline this week in its effort to put the issue on the 2020 ballot, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun. Women Against Private Police, which formed a ballot issue committee to fight the creation of the Hopkins force, has until Friday to turn in approximately 23,000 signatures to state elections officials.

GROUPS SEEK TO OVERTURN BROADCAST BAN: A group of journalists and nonprofits is asking a federal court to declare unconstitutional Maryland’s law against broadcasting lawfully obtained recordings of criminal proceedings, reports Heather Cobun for the Daily Record. The complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, claims the law “impedes the public’s ability” to know what is happening in court. The plaintiffs want to use the recordings for reporting, education and advocacy and argue the prohibition violates the First and Fourteenth amendments.

HOGAN CABINET MEMBERS MEET OVER PAPER PLANT CLOSING: The looming closure of the Luke paper plant, announced April 30 with no warning, and then accelerated by a month, brought several key members of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet to Allegany County on Tuesday. They were there to meet with elected officials, company executives, union leaders, and workers to tell them that the state is doing everything it can to help, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports.

DELEGATE SEEKS DELAY ON CITY BIKE LANE MOVE: Joining cyclists and advocates for multi-use infrastructure, a state delegate asked Baltimore’s mayor and transportation director to postpone a planned alteration of a protected bike lane on E. Monument Street, Ethan McLeod of Baltimore Fishbowl writes. Del. Robbyn Lewis (D-46th District) posted a letter online to Young, cc’ing Acting Transportation Director Frank Murphy and others, asking for a delay to “allow additional time to undertake a decision-making process that is more thorough, inclusive and transparent.”

TEDCO OFFICIALS QUIT: Two top leaders in Maryland’s Technology Development Corporation have resigned, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes. TEDCO – and the Maryland Venture Fund, specifically – have been under fire since winter after a damning audit and inquiries from lawmakers into the agency’s investment practices.

SUPREMES’ DECISION ON GERRYMANDER EXPECTED SOON: Before the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in Lamone v. Benisek, the case challenging the gerrymander of Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Frederick, writes Walter Olson in the Frederick News Post. Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission. The justices heard argument March 26.

MO CO EMERGENCY SYSTEM FALTERS AGAIN: Less than a month after Montgomery County’s emergency communications system used by first responders suffered an outage lasting more than 12 hours, the network faltered again on Tuesday, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat reports. At about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesman reported the system was on “condition red due to an internal technical issue,” meaning non-emergency radio use was restricted because many radio signals were out of service, straining the system’s ability to carry voice traffic.

22 CANDIDATES SEEK 1 SEAT ON CITY COUNCIL: There are 22 candidates to fill a vacancy on the Baltimore City Council created when Democrat Brandon Scott became council president, including an aide to Scott, one of his former electoral opponents and a daughter of a veteran state delegate, reports Ian Duncan for the Sun. Scott’s office provided a list Tuesday of the candidates for the 2nd District seat in Northeast Baltimore.