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WA CO PUSHES FOR AIRPORT FUNDING: Washington County officials are continuing to appeal the loss of a federal subsidy for Hagerstown Regional Airport that led to the cessation two months ago of flights to Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Airport Director Garrison Plessinger said he remains optimistic about the county’s appeal, though the issue might not be resolved until next fall.
HOUGH, PIPPY MEET OVER STATE GANG LAWS: Two members of Frederick County’s legislative delegation have finished meeting with state leaders about how to modify criminal gang laws statewide, but their work is far from finished, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports in his political notes column. Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) both met with federal and state prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, the American Civil Liberties Union and other state officials as part of the Task Force to Study Maryland’s Criminal Gang Statutes.
SEN. SMITH MUM, BUT OTHERS HOPEFUL OF LEFT-TILT: Sen. Will Smith says he plans to take a go-slow approach in what will be his first General Assembly session as chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee as he takes over for retiring Sen. Bobby Zirkin when the 90-day session starts on Jan. 8. “I’ll be limiting the bills that I sponsor,” said Smith, D-Montgomery. But many lawmakers say the legislature’s leftward change in leadership this session – not only on the Senate committee but in the House and Senate generally – makes them cautiously optimistic about prospects for their legislative efforts, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record.
JOHNNY COME LATELY: For years, female legislators in Annapolis would make their dash to the bathroom when a colleague rose to deliver a long-winded speech. A line would often form. Meanwhile, the male delegates would whisk by to the more plentiful bathrooms designated for them. Sometimes, female delegates missed votes. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that that will change in January when Maryland lawmakers return to Annapolis for their 90-day session, thanks to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), the first woman to hold that position in Annapolis.
STATE WORKERS GET XMAS EVE OFF: Maryland’s state workers will get the day off on Tuesday for Christmas Eve, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday. Pamela Wood writes in the Sun that Christmas Eve is not an official government holiday, so employees would normally be expected to work or use vacation or personal time if they want to take that day off.
OPINION: REPEATING ‘TOUGH ON CRIME’ MISTAKES: Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, in an op-ed for the Post, writes that in 1994 Congress passed a crime bill that poured gasoline on the fire known as the “war on drugs.” The devastating effects of that bill are still evident today in cities like Baltimore. Shockingly, it seems that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) appear to be resurrecting that crime bill with a tough-on-crime package that will repeat the mistakes of the past — at the expense of the taxpayers and public safety.
HARRIS CHEERED, JEERED FOR IMPEACHMENT STAND: Debating politics in America can be a fraught endeavor, as displayed Friday night at a town hall meeting hosted by Maryland’s only Republican member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris. A few dozen people came out to a Baltimore County volunteer fire department on a cold, dark night for face time with the congressman. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that some wanted to praise Harris for his vote two days earlier against impeaching President Donald J. Trump. Others came to needle Harris for his support of the president.
OPINION: ‘HEALTHY HOLLY’ TRANSACTIONS LEAVE NO DOUBT: The editorial board of the Sun opines that, in case there was any doubt left that former UMMS executives were aware of the payoff nature to their “Healthy Holly” book transactions with former Baltimore mayor and UMMS board member Catherine Pugh, an internal investigation has cleared the air: No one bothered to read the books before making payments on them worth half a million dollars. … The books were solely a vehicle for the payments to a politician, starting when she was a state senator who sat on committees that oversaw health facilities and health care, and continuing after she became mayor.
PROTESTING B’MORE SPY PLANES: Jeff Abel of WBFF-TV reports that privacy advocates insist Baltimore’s agreement to bring surveillance planes to the city is setting a dangerous precedent. On Friday, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced plans to launch a six-month program which will allow surveillance planes to hover over Baltimore and record activity on the ground.
- Harrison, who has in the past said he had misgivings about the unproven technology, announced Friday the plane will take off in May for a period of 120 to 180 days, with specific guidelines in place to ease residents’ privacy worries. This will be the second trial of the controversial program, WBAL-AM is reporting.
CASHIER TOOK ADVANTAGE OF B’MORE RANSOMWARE ATTACK: A Baltimore Public Works cashier took advantage of the ransomware attack on the city’s computers to pocket cash from customers at a trash transfer station, according to an audit released Friday. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that when the ransomware attack crippled the city’s computer systems beginning in May, workers at the city trash transfer stations had to resort to hand-writing intake tickets for small commercial haulers who brought in trash.
OPINION: ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: The editorial board for the Sun asks Santa for what seems like a pie in the sky gift for Baltimore: Just one scandal-free month.
- Breaking: WBAL’s Jane Miller is reporting that the U.S. attorney will hold a press conference this morning on “a public corruption” case.
FORMER JUDGE CAVANAUGH DIES: Former Baltimore County Judge Patrick Cavanaugh died unexpectedly on Dec. 14 of a heart attack, according to a family member, Louis Krauss of the Daily Record reports. Cavanaugh, 76, served on the bench for Baltimore County Circuit Court from 2002 through 2013, when he retired. He graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1974 and worked as a solo practitioner from 1974 to 2002.
- Cavanaugh was visiting family in Lexington, S.C., when he died, Fred Rasmussen of the Sun reports. “Pat was a lawyer’s judge,” said Judge William R. Evans, chief judge of the Orphans’ Court of Baltimore County and Judge Cavanaugh’s first cousin.