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O'Malley "virtually" addresss education, marriage


There were more audio and video streaming glitches than headlines coming out of Gov. Martin O'Malley's "virtual town hall meeting" broadcast on the Web Wednesday night from a Baltimore County community center.

O'Malley (D) -- who fielded questions from a live audience, as well as those submitted via his campaign Web site, Facebook and Twitter -- seemed less resolute than in the past about maintaining state funding of teacher pensions.

Although he reiterated his preference for the current system -- under which the state picks up the tab for the retirement benefits of county teachers -- O'Malley acknowledged it is a "huge expense" and that some lawmakers want to shift at least part of that cost from the state to the counties.

"Stay tuned," he said. "It comes up every year."

O'Malley then cautioned that shifting more costs onto counties seemed "nearly impossible" in the current recession, which has undermined local tax revenue as much as that for the state.

O'Malley also reiterated his preference for civil unions as a middle ground in the debate over legalizing gay marriage.

"I think civil unions are the way to go," O'Malley said.

He said the state should focus on ensuring that children of gay couples are treated fairly and "protecting rights equally" in a broader sense.

"I don't have a crystal ball," O'Malley said. "I don't know when civil unions might happen in Maryland."

The governor also said school systems should be prepared to cut administrative costs -- not a new suggestion -- and confirmed his plans to introduce legislation to require mediation before home foreclosures.

O'Malley, who has yet to draw a high-profile Republican challenger but has been aggressively raising money in recent months, chose to utilize UStream, which advertises itself as a free service paid for by ads.

Among those that appeared below the governor's video stream: "Washington Online Dating: Get matched to sexy singles in the Washington area"

The site also showed questions posed via Twitter, which were monopolized by several people less than friendly to O'Malley.

Among them:

Matt_Pruitt Hey #omalley Thousands are laid off and furloughed and you give illegals billions!

augieboy Hey #omalley seems very scripted for a forum billed as 'anything goes'

cecilcalvert Hey #omalley this is a farce. a disappointment to marylanders and not answering the tough questions

-- John Wagner and Aaron C. Davis

By John Wagner  |  December 9, 2009; 11:04 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Aaron C. Davis , Governor , John Wagner  
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