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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis

Monday, Dec. 6, 2009:

Decision day (maybe) for slots
The fate of a bid to put 4,750 slot machines at Arundel Mills mall could effectively be decided Monday night, when the Anne Arundel County Council takes up a zoning bill needed to move the project forward, writes The Post's John Wagner. A state commission is expected to give its blessing to the project. A divided council remains a wild card, however, as does a provision in the county charter, which does not permit the council to vote if debate extends beyond midnight.
(The Baltimore Sun's take here; The Capital's here).

Anne Arundel slots.jpgIf it passes:
Maryland's largest planned slots casino -- and the hundreds of millions of dollars it promises to yield -- could rise outside the food court of the Arundel Mills mall by late 2011, probably with electronic versions of banned table games. Expect some legal challenges in the meantime.

If it fails:
A state commission would likely re-open bidding for a slots license in Anne Arundel. A group led by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos is considering making a bid to buy Laurel Park racetrack with the hope of securing a slot-machine license if plans fall at Arundel Mills, Wagner writes.

If there's no vote:
The county's charter does not permit the council to vote past midnight. And that could become a real issue, with large numbers of both supporters and opponents mobilizing to testify. The council's next scheduled regular meeting is Dec. 21.

No, says Red Maryland, and Rob Annicelli, president of Stop Slots at Arundel Mills.
Yes, says Mills president Gregg Goodman.

Weekend roundup:

Food stamp case goes to court
"A Baltimore County woman's lawsuit against the state for failing to provide food stamps in a timely manner is scheduled to go to court Monday, days after the release of data showing that only 59 percent of eligible Marylanders were receiving the government assistance," writes The Sun's Brent Jones.

Water polluters getting off too easily?
"The state's Waterkeepers - a network of environmental watchdogs - are expected to file a petition today with the Environmental Protection Agency charging the state Department of the Environment with "systemic failure" to carry out its legal responsibility to ride herd on water pollution piped into Maryland's rivers and the Chesapeake Bay,
writes The Sun's Timothy Wheeler.

Buzz beginning over O'Malley online town hall
Gov. Martin O'Malley plans an online town hall meeting on Wednesday night. Blogger Bernie Hayden says it effectively kicks off O'Malley's 2010 re-election campaign, and he's soliciting tough questions for the governor.

"Noble, perhaps last-ditch effort" to save oysters in the bay
The Daily Times lauds O'Malley's plan for roping off large swaths of the bay to save oysters.

35 deaths, but swine flu on decline in Maryland
O'Malley said Friday that flu activity in Maryland is on the decline, the AP reported. "However, swine flu continues to be deadly. State health officials say 35 Marylanders have died from the disease, including six whose deaths were reported [last] week. About 70 percent of those victims had underlying health conditions."

Recession roller coaster for government employees

"In responding to the recession, government has given with one hand and taken with the other," writes The Post's Jonathan Mummolo, who looks at the ups and downs for public employees in Prince George's County. "Although some have been saved by the $787 billion stimulus, many others have been the victims of local government cutbacks. States and localities, faced with shortfalls and mandates to balance their budgets, have laid off thousands, adding to the unemployment crisis."

Legal aid funding down as need rises
"At the very time that more newly poor people need help with the likes of mortgages, rent disputes and battles over wages, clinics the country that help with noncriminal cases are enduring sharp funding drops," writes The Post's Mary Pat Flaherty. "Locally, Maryland is hardest hit, although Virginia and the District are under increasing pressure."

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  December 7, 2009; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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