State Roundup, October 8, 2019

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DEL. GAINES CHARGED WITH WIRE FRAUD, RESIGNS: Longtime Maryland Del. Tawanna Gaines, a Prince George’s County Democrat who has served in House leadership, was charged with federal wire fraud Monday, accused of using $22,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, report Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox in the Post.

STATE AGENCIES STRUGGLE WITH PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS: State agencies in Maryland are struggling to handle thousands of public records requests from reporters, attorneys and other members of the public and lack consistent policies for complying with the state disclosure law, according to a survey by the state’s public access ombudsman, Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.

PREAKNESS PLAN’s RECEPTION IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: While Baltimore leaders celebrate a deal to keep the Preakness Stakes in the city, tough questions await the proposal in next year’s General Assembly session, write Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood for the Sun. Some questions include: Wouldn’t the money proposed to renovate the Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park tracks be better used for teachers and schools? When will lawmakers be able to see written copies of legislation and proposed lease agreements? Why didn’t Prince George’s County, which has a closed horse track, have a seat at the table during negotiations?

TWO ITEMS OFF TABLE AT PREAKNESS NEGOTIATIONS: When negotiators representing the city of Baltimore, the Stronach Group and the horse racing industry sat down to hammer out an agreement to keep running the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, there were two items off the table, writes Adam Bednar in the Daily Record. The first, Baltimore would not consider a deal that did not include hosting the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. The second, the Stronach Group needed an agreement that allowed for the support of year-round horse racing in Maryland. Beyond those conditions any proposal was fair game.

FRANCHOT WANTS BAY BRIDGE WORK STOPPED: Comptroller Peter Franchot called on Maryland transportation officials Monday to temporarily suspend the Chesapeake Bay Bridge redecking project, citing the disruptive traffic backups the work has caused, Olivia Sanchez of the Annapolis Capital reports. The comptroller sent a letter to Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and recommended suspending the project through the fall and winter months.

CASINO  REVENUES SLOW: Greater Baltimore casinos — Horseshoe and Live! –were hit the hardest as year-over-year casino revenue slowed last month. Maryland’s six privately owned casinos posted collective revenue of $142 million in September, a 1.1% decrease compared with the year before. The latest numbers follow a month of growth, with August marking the fourth-best month in the history of the state’s casino industry, Amanda Yeager of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

OPINION: ON BUSING, CLOSE THE NEEDS GAP: In addressing Howard County’s school redistricting/busing plan in a column for MarylandReporter, psychiatrist Shobhit Negi opines that the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation’s main education law for all public schools, includes provisions such as advancing equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students. But the most basic needs, such as food, water, safety and security needs must be satisfied before an individual can attend to needs higher up, such as prestige, feeling of accomplishment and creativity.

OPINION: ON BUSING & RACIST RANTS AGAINST IT: In a column for yhe national left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, Edwin Rios writes that at a time when schools across the country are slipping toward resegregation, the Howard County proposal would move roughly 7,400 students to different schools in a district of 57,000 kids, an effort that would reduce the number of schools with high rates of students in poverty. The response? An all-too-familiar backlash in which race and poverty were freely conflated. In more than 400 pages of written testimony submitted to county officials since July, Howard County residents cover the whole gamut of American racism, the columnist claims.

BARE-KNUCKLE GOP PRIMARY IN CECIL: The Republican primary for Cecil County executive bears some serious attention, Meghan Thompson writes in Maryland Matters. On Thursday night, Danielle Hornberger announced her bid for county executive, raising the potential for a contentious race as she and Ewing McDowell, who works for the Maryland Department of Commerce, challenge Republican incumbent Alan McCarthy in his bid for reelection.

CITY BILL WOULD REQUIRE CLIENT DISCLOSURE: City Councilman Ryan Dorsey has proposed legislation that would require Baltimore’s elected leaders to disclose their private business clients and customers, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun. Dorsey said the bill “closes the loophole” in city financial disclosure law that allowed then-Mayor Catherine Pugh to sell her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books without disclosing that her company’s customers included firms with business before the city, which Dorsey said represented a conflict of interest.

McNAIR FAMILY, CITY PUSH SPORTS SAFETY: The family of the University of Maryland football player who died of heatstroke in June 2018 joined city officials in touting newly passed legislation they say will help protect children enrolled in youth sports programs throughout Baltimore, Phil Davis of the Sun is reporting.

PG EUTHANIZED MORE THAN 400 PIT BULLS IN 2018: More than 400 pit bulls were euthanized last year in Prince George’s County, the second-largest jurisdiction in the country to ban the breed, and more than 250 have been euthanized so far this year, officials said Monday. Advocates are pushing to overturn the ban, which they say is costly, ineffective and inhumane, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

SUN EDITOR GREEN NOW COMMUNICATIONS VP AT JHU: Andrew A. Green, a veteran reporter and editor who has spent the past decade leading the opinion section at The Baltimore Sun, has been appointed vice president for communications at Johns Hopkins University, according to the school’s newsletter, the Hub.