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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your Daily Download of Maryland's Top Political News and Analysis

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009:

Labor Day is over and First Click is champing at the bit to see what fall will bring. On the calendar, President Barack Obama's Chesapeake Bay report is due out tomorrow, and fiscal leaders will determine next week if state revenue estimates have slipped yet again (and therefore if additional cuts will be needed to keep the state solvent before the legislature returns next year).

If recent glimmers of hope on the state's revenue front remain, more budget cuts won't be necessary. But the near certainty of another tight fiscal year already has raised questions about what new policy initiatives, if any, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will be able to roll out this fall, and what agenda he may be able to set before the state's next General Assembly.

In the meantime, will furloughs of state workers and other resource shortages resulting from the cuts the governor initiated affect Maryland's ability to respond to swine flu and other problems? And who will emerge as challengers -- both Republican and Democrat -- to O'Malley in the gubernatorial race? Will trouble for Democrats elsewhere this campaign season spill over into an ultra-blue state? Will Democrats' long-term control in Maryland stand out as a beacon or blight going into next year's midterm elections?

And locally, who will replace Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson? Will talk of shifting the cost of teacher pensions produce tension between Montgomery County and other parts of the state? And where will the turmoil end in Baltimore City Hall?

Count on First Click this fall for your morning look at developments in these and other stories in Maryland politics.

Now, here's what's happening today:

Governor Launches "Healthy Smiles" Tour
Gov. O'Malley has announced plans for only two events this week. The first launches his "Healthy Smiles" dental tour, his office says. O'Malley will appear in Prince George's with dentists and leaders of the Deamonte Driver Dental Project, Kool Smiles and other health providers in an attempt to promote oral health for children. The Driver dental project is named for a Prince George's boy who died in 2007 because of an untreated dental abscess.

Montgomery Delegate in Court Today
Del. Herman L. Taylor II (D) is scheduled to appear in a Montgomery County court this morning to appeal his conviction for driving under the influence. Taylor, who once pushed to have special "DUI" license plates issued to repeat drunk drivers, was found guilty and fined $250 early this year after a police officer saw him drive into a 7-Eleven parking lot and fall asleep behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade.

Duncan Blasts O'Malley Campaign
For those of you who didn't click on the Maryland Politics blog over the weekend, Douglas M. Duncan (D), Montgomery County's executive from 1994 to 2006 and a former O'Malley opponent in the 2006 Democratic primary, said the list of 300 endorsements the governor released last week was far from intimidating.

In an interview on Friday, he went so far as to question if many of O'Malley's endorsements from elected leaders came under duress. "Sign or else" risk losing additional state aid in likely rounds of coming budget cuts, he said.

"He's in over his head, you know, this every-three-months-we're-going-to-make-cuts-to-the-budget, he's reacting; he has no vision ... he's not engaged."

"I'm afraid," Duncan said "of what another four years of this governor may do for the state."
You can read the full story here.

Holiday Politics in Kensington
Political stars yesterday were out, as usual, for the annual Labor Day parade in Montgomery County. Among those in attendance: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Attorney General Doug Gansler, County Executive Ike Leggett, State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18), Dels. Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jeff Waldstreicher and Al Carr (all D-18), writes Adam Pagnucco in Maryland Politics Watch. Pagnucco notes Carr led in T-shirt count and Van Hollen in sticker count

Paterakis Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Charges
The AP's Ben Nuckols writes that bakery magnate and developer, John Paterakis, pleaded guilty Friday to violating campaign finance law by paying for a political poll for a Baltimore city councilwoman.

"Paterakis, 80, pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to splitting the $12,500 bill for a poll for Councilwoman Helen L. Holton with developer Ronald H. Lipscomb, who has already pleaded guilty to similar offenses. State law prohibits contributing more than $4,000 to a candidate during an election cycle.

"Paterakis received probation before judgment and will pay a $25,000 fine. Retired Howard County Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney, who is presiding over a series of cases involving corruption at City Hall, also barred Paterakis from contributing money to city officials and candidates or attending fundraisers during the period of his probation, which runs through Jan. 1, 2012."

Chesapeake Bay Report Out Tomorrow
Environmentalists and state officials eagerly are awaiting the release tomorrow of a draft report outlining the "next generation" of Chesapeake Bay cleanup. The report is the first in a series of steps leading to a new action plan by next May under an executive order President Obama signed this spring.

Another Prisoner Escape in Hagerstown
Two minimum-security inmates escaped from a work detail Friday while painting a perimeter fence at a state prison near Hagerstown, writes David Dishneau of The Associated Press.

"At least two other [Maryland Correctional Training Center] inmates have escaped in the last three years. In July 2007, an inmate drove away from a work detail in a supervisor's pickup truck and was caught four days later. In October 2008, an inmate ran away from a work detail in Hagerstown and was caught the same day.

"In January, a convicted murderer climbed a fence to escape from the nearby, medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution. Kandelario Garcia-Ramos broke into the home of a vacationing family and spent five days hiding from police before he was caught."

We're striving to make First Click your essential daily guide to Maryland politics. Each weekday morning First Click provides a roadmap for the day's upcoming political events, and a roundup of the state's top political news, analysis and provocative thoughts. Have a comment or question? Write it down. Have we missed something? Write a comment and let us know that, too. We'll be reading...

By Aaron C. Davis  |  September 8, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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