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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your Daily Download of the State's Top Political News and Analysis

Monday, Sept. 21, 2009:

Prince George's Layoff Announcement Expected Today
Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) is expected to announce budget cuts today to close a $22 million drop in state funding. Johnson has warned of possible layoffs, and county employees have been on edge for more than a week following a hastily called meeting in which Johnson and county council members discussed layoffs without union representation for county employees. Check back here later today for the news. The cuts may foreshadow how counties across Maryland will grapple with $200 million in cuts approved last month by Gov. Martin O'Malley and the state's Board of Public Works.

She's Out, She's In - Democratic Nomination Turmoil in Annapolis
The buzz in the state capital this morning has nothing to do with the governor, or state politics, but the local mayor's race.
If you checked out over the weekend: Friday night a spokeswoman for Zina C. Pierre, the first black woman to win the Democratic nomination for Annapolis, withdrew from the race after a local blogger broke news that she faced a series of financial and legal troubles, including a Bowie home in foreclosure and unpaid state taxes.
A day later, a new campaign spokeswoman said Pierre was back in the race and suggested she'd never really withdrawn.
The turn of events has the capital buzzing about whether Pierre has the full support of the city's Democratic establishment - and whether she will be able to remain in the race. The Baltimore Sun quotes Nick Berry, chair of the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee, saying the city's Democrats will continue to support Pierre.
But House Speaker Michael E. Busch tells The Sun he's "sympathetic but concerned" about the situation.
Annapolis blogs are atwitter about whether Busch and other heavy hitters in the party have or will pull strings in the race:

California Company Fires Back At Maryland Over Debt Collection
Last week, Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said it ordered Encore Capital Group and a group of unlicensed San Diego companies to stop trying to collect on "junk debt" bought from credit card companies and other lenders. In some cases state residents' debt was decades old, state officials said.
Encore President J. Brandon Black tells the San Diego Union Tribune today that the company is licensed in Maryland, well-aware of its statute of limitations on old debt and has been operating legally in the state.

Maryland, California Expected to Announce Joint Effort on Stem Cells
Maryland and California officials are expected to enter into a formal agreement in Baltimore this week to facilitate joint projects and funding on stem-cell research, writes The Daily Record's Danielle Ulman.
Gov. Martin O'Malley will address the convention today. He will receive an award from the Genetics Policy Institute, which orchestrates the annual World Stem Cell Summit, the largest such gathering annually in the country.

And, Briefly...

  • The Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland has approved another round of furloughs for employees that could begin as soon as next month. It's not clear how many days the 21,000 employees will have to go without pay. The regents gave university presidents flexibility to tailor the furloughs to each campus.

  • State prosecutors have responded to motions by defense attorneys seeking to dismiss charges against Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, saying legislative immunity and privilege do not apply to state criminal prosecutions of local officials. Dixon faces trial in November on charges including perjury and theft. Prosecutors say she lied about gifts from her developer boyfriend and stole gift cards meant for needy families.

  • A jury in Hagerstown has acquitted two former state correctional officers accused of beating an inmate at the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution. Sixty-three-year-old Robert Harvey, of Hagerstown, and 27-year-old Keith Morris, of Warfordsburg, Pa., were found not guilty Friday afternoon. They are among eight fired Roxbury guards who were charged with assaulting inmate Kenneth Davis in March 2008.

  • Professional firefighters in Cumberland are offering to take a pay cut to avoid a possible switch to an all-volunteer force in the western Maryland city of 20,000. The president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1715 told the Cumberland Times-News that the union would accept pay for 75 hours for the 80 they work every two weeks to cut the city's costs. City officials said earlier this week they are considering switching to an all-volunteer fire department in response to a $1.3 million cut in state funds.
  • By Aaron C. Davis  |  September 21, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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