First Click -- Maryland
Your Daily Download of the State's Top Political News and Analysis
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009:
State Board Returns to Familiar Job: Spending Money
Maryland's all-Democrat Board of Public Works (Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp) reconvenes today and for the first time since July, will spend more money in a week than it cuts. Following successive rounds of belt-tightening to close an estimated $700 million budget gap, the board will return to its usual bi-weekly work of stamping tens of millions of dollars in state contracts, wetland purchases, and grants. For a nitty gritty look at the board's work, click here.
Whether the board will have to make more cuts in coming months could be learned tomorrow when the Maryland Board of Revenue releases its latest projections for next year's state tax revenue.
O'Malley Opens Biotech Center Before Stem Cell Summit
Gov. O'Malley and state business leaders on Tuesday touted the opening of the Maryland Biotechnology Center in Baltimore -- one of two offices the governor's administration says will help aid the state's growing biotech sector.
The timing wasn't a coincidence: It comes on the eve of the World Stem Cell Summit in Baltimore next week when The Genetics Policy Institute plans to honor O'Malley for being "instrumental in securing funding for bio initiatives, including $59 million over three years for Maryland's Stem Cell Research Fund."
Curry and Duncan Coy About Challenging O'Malley
"The future of Maryland Republicans has dominated the state's political drama so far this week, with James Pelura resigning as GOP chairman and former cabinet secretary Larry Hogan launching an exploratory bid for governor," writes The Post's John Wagner.
"But some Democrats lurking off stage who are unhappy with Gov. O'Malley could help shake up next year's Democratic primary.
"Wayne Curry, the former Prince George's County executive, said in an interview Tuesday that he remains dismayed by O'Malley's handling of the state budget.
Curry largely deflected speculation that he might challenge O'Malley in the party's primary -- or possibly run as an independent in the general election -- other than to say he "continues to observe what's going on in the political landscape."
Douglas M. Duncan (D), Montgomery County's longtime executive and a former O'Malley opponent in the 2006 Democratic primary, took shots at the governor in an interview with The Post earlier this month. In an story published Tuesday in the
the University of Maryland's Diamondback, he remained elusive about a rematch: "I'm not saying I'm running, and I'm not saying I'm not running."
House Judiciary Committee Appears Split on Gang Law Reforms
Prosecutors and police on Tuesday pressed Maryland lawmakers to make it easier to put gang members convicted of crimes behind bars for longer sentences, saying a 2-year-old state statute aimed at doing so had proven all but useless.
Lawmakers, including House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) who sat in on the hearing and asked an usually large number of questions, probed law enforcement officers for specifics on how the Maryland Gang Prosecution Act had failed.
They seemed split on whether changes were needed. Del. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George's) and others questioning if more draconian sentencing could inadvertently snare less violent teenagers charged as gang co-conspirators. And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Del. Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. (D-Prince George's), said the legislature did not want to get so specific in setting sentencing guidelines that it risk undercutting judges' prerogative to order prison terms best fitting crimes and circumstances.
Related News: Gang Killings Up in Montgomery:
Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy released some interesting statistics about gang activity during yesterday's hearing:
Last year, Montgomery prosecuted 524 cases against gang members. In the county, there are now roughly 40 active gangs, and some 1,600 identified gang members, he said.
So far this year, suspects arrested in a whopping five of the county's 10 homicides have been gang members.
And ... You Asked For It:
First Click readers this week have posted comments asking what Montgomery County may do about Sligo Creek Golf Course and whether there were developments following county leaders' request that state transportation officials study alternatives to widening I-270. First Click looked into both:
On the golf course, Montgomery's county council discussed it Tuesday at a coffee meeting with County Executive Ike Leggett, according to The Post's Michael Laris. Leggett has called for the council to approve a new batch of funding to keep the course afloat, something council members said they would consider later this month. Members also said they are seeking a long-term solution for keeping it going, though details on what exactly that would look like remain unclear.
On I-270, a planned work session on Tuesday was postponed. Council President Phil Andrews said county officials are still waiting for answers to a bunch of questions they posed to state transportation officials.
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Aaron C. Davis
September 16, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , First Click
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