State Roundup: More heat on Hogan aide severance; multiple mail problems

State Roundup: More heat on Hogan aide severance; multiple mail problems

Photo by Ben Brown with Flickr Creative Commons License

SPECIAL HEARING ON HOGAN AIDE PAYOUT: A special joint legislative hearing is being called to examine how and why Gov. Larry Hogan’s top aide received a six-figure severance package when he left a quasi-state agency to take a key position in the Hogan administration, the state’s presiding officers announced Friday, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post.

  • “The quarter million-dollar, taxpayer-funded ‘severance payment’ to Maryland Environmental Services’ former executive director raises serious questions about the judgment of its Board of Directors and its gubernatorially appointed members,” Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard) and Del. Erek L. Barron (D-Prince George’s) said in a statement, reported by Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

6-FIGURE PAYOUT DEFENDED: Gov. Larry Hogan’s new chief of staff and the Maryland Environmental Service are for the first time publicly defending the six-figure payout he received when he left the independent state agency, after he and agency officials had refused since Wednesday to comment on the severance, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

  • Jeff Barker reports for the Sun that House Speaker Adrienne Jones said Friday Gov. Larry Hogan’s new chief of staff should return a six-figure severance package he was given after voluntarily leaving an independent state agency he headed. “If Mr. [Roy] McGrath intends to remain as Governor Hogan’s Chief of Staff, he should return the money immediately,” Jones said in a statement in response to questions from The Baltimore Sun.

TURMOIL AT THE POSTAL SERVICE: Emily Opilo and Sameer Rao of the Sun report that more signs of turmoil at the U.S. Postal Service emerged in Maryland this weekend after at least one of the service’s iconic blue mailboxes was removed from a Baltimore street corner.

  • Dave Collins of WBAL-TV reports that Sherry McKnight, president of the American Postal Workers Local 181, blames delays on new policies from the new postmaster general that include getting rid of overtime, management changing the times mail trucks are allowed to travel and removing mail-sorting machines from as many as six locations in the Baltimore area.

LAWMAKERS TO HIGHLIGHT POSTAL PROBLEMS: U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and several other members of the state’s congressional delegation have organized a Monday news conference to give members of the agency’s unions the opportunity to describe publicly how Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s policy changes have impacted mail delivery, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

ADVOCATES URGE STICKING WITH VOTE-BY-MAIL: Vote-by-mail advocates argue the downside of being locked into a particular voting path is worth the reduced health risk afforded by avoiding Maryland’s 360 in-person voting centers. But they acknowledge voters need to be aware of the consequences of choosing to request an absentee ballot.

QUESTIONS ABOUT NOVEMBER VOTE: State leaders are encouraging as many people as possible to stay home on Election Day and instead vote-by-mail. Sun staff answer some reader questions about the process for November.

MO CO EXPECTS 38 VOTING CENTERS: For this year’s general election, Montgomery County expects to have 38 “voting centers,” a fraction of the usual number of polling places, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.

COLUMN: HOGAN ALIGNS HIMSELF WITH TRUMP: Frank DeFilippo of Maryland Matters takes a walk down memory lane recalling how elections used to be run in Baltimore City, replete with characters that we don’t hear much about anymore, but drawing a line between those political bosses and the ones currently in the State House and the White House.

YOUNG DEM PRES FOUND DEAD: The president of the Young Democrats of Maryland, Joseph Kitchen, was found dead Sunday afternoon after being reported missing for several days, according to Twitter posts from party accounts and his brother, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.

  • His cousin said no foul play is suspected. He said Kitchen, who worked as the director of outreach and volunteerism at the Washington School for Girls in Southeast Washington, told the school on Tuesday that he was feeling sick, Rachel Chason reports.

GROUPS SEEK HARD-TO-REACH PEOPLE FOR CENSUS: While nearly 7 in 10 Maryland households have answered their census questionnaire for the once-in-a-decade tally, more than 800,000 have not. State planning officials say that the deadline move is frustrating but that census coordinators and community groups are finding creative ways to reach people as Sept. 30 approaches, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports.

MD IS 18th STATE TO PASS 100,000 COVID CASES: Maryland on Sunday became the 18th state to surpass 100,000 cases of the coronavirus, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Phil Davis of the Sun reports.

SOME SCHOOLS AID WITH CHILD CARE: As many students head back to school virtually, counties in Virginia and Maryland are helping parents navigate child care with special programs, Valerie Bonk reports for WTOP-FM. Howard County has announced a program offering students in kindergarten through fifth grade a full day program in 16 public schools with support for virtual learning assignments.

SHORE TOWN OKs ANTI-RACIST MURALS: The governing body of an Eastern Shore town where slaves were once sold in the public square has approved the installation of two anti-racist street murals in its downtown area, Jonathan Pitts of the Sun reports. The approval came a day before a divided council in nearby Talbot County voted not to remove a monument honoring Confederate soldiers.

OPINION: SHAMEFUL TRIBUTE TO LOST CAUSE: The editorial board for the Sun opines that while Talbot County bills itself as the “treasure” of the Eastern Shore, the town of Easton, which just approved keeping a statue honoring Confederate soldier has something else to call attention to itself: the most shameful tribute to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy that exists in a high-profile public space in the state of Maryland.

POTOMAC POLLUTION REDUCTION PROMISING: While trends are promising in the work to reduce pollutants along local sections of the Potomac River that threaten the health of the Chesapeake Bay, state regulators continue to be faced with issues such as getting nitrogen levels under control and increasing water temperatures, Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.

B’MORE DPW TWITTER ACCOUNT ‘COMPROMISED:’ After a provocative tweet critical of President Donald Trump was posted Saturday, the Baltimore Department of Public Works said its Twitter account was “compromised,” Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports. According to a screenshot circulating on social media, the Saturday afternoon tweet read, “Another day, another 18 holes. And that does not include hookers.” It included a photo of a TV news broadcast saying Trump was scheduled to hold a news conference from his Bedminster, N.J., golf club.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online news outlet, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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