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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

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

Tuesday, January, 12, 2010:

O'Malley and the congressional delegation look to the future and see cybersecurity; Busch eyes better gang protections; and Rawlings-Blake seeks to avoid the mistakes of the past

Maryland lawmakers say state's ripe for cybersecurity jobs
On Monday, Democratic members of Maryland's congressional delegation and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) launched perhaps the most coordinated effort since their party took control of the White House to harness a swelling stream of federal funding and a growing job sector, billing Maryland as the logical destination for thousands of new cybersecurity posts," writes The Post's Aaron Davis. "The governor appeared with Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin and Reps. Chris Van Hollen and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, all Maryland Democrats, at the Gaithersburg headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. They said that since the National Security Agency -- as well as high-tech defense and intelligence installations -- are based in the state, Maryland should also become the home of the fledgling U.S. Cyber Command, which could bring 24,000 to 28,000 new jobs. .... The effort might present the best chance in years for Maryland's congressional delegation to capitalize on a growing list of leadership posts: Mikulski is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Cardin is chairman of the Senate Judiciary's terrorism and homeland security committee, and Ruppersberger is chairman of the House Intelligence subcommittee on cybersecurity."
More coverage: The AP; The Daily Record; The Gazette; Baltimore Business Journal.

Busch confirms he'll focus on gang legislation

Thumbnail image for Busch photo.jpgIn addition to balancing the budget and efforts to spur job creation, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said Monday that legislation to rid schools of gangs will be a focus when the General Assembly convenes. Fighting gangs "has become a pet issue for Busch, who would like police to share intelligence on suspected student gang members with teachers and school administrators," writes The Post's John Wagner. "'Currently, there is recorded gang activity in every county in the state of Maryland and studies show that the average recruitment age is between 12 and 14 years old,' Busch says in the e-mail, which was distributed by the Maryland Democratic Party. "New legislation will focus on reducing communication barriers to better enable our schools to be safe havens for students, as well as strengthening the current criminal gang statute to prosecute criminal gang offenders."

In related news:

McConkey.jpg"Next time your kid gets called to the principal's office, you might get a call from the police chief -- if proposed legislation makes it through the Maryland General Assembly convening on Wednesday," writes The Washington Examiner's Hayley Peterson, detailing a proposal by Del. Tony McConkey (R-Anne Arundel) that Peterson writes may win Busch's backing. "The bill would dissolve what McConkey called the "artificial walls" of privacy laws that prevent school principals from divulging records of misconduct -- such as bullying or harassment -- to local law enforcement. His bill would give school principals the discretion to define the type of offenses likely to land a grade-school troublemaker on police radars."

Rawlings-Blake says pension concerns 'understandable'
Thumbnail image for Rawlings-Blake.jpg"Baltimore's mayor-to-be Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake vowed Monday to re-examine the city's pension plan for elected leaders in the wake of outrage over Mayor Sheila Dixon's $83,000-a-year benefit and to strengthen ethics laws governing city officials," writes The Sun's Julie Scharper. "'It's understandable that people are very upset about the prospect of a lifetime pension,' City Council President Rawlings-Blake said during a lengthy interview with The Baltimore Sun's editorial board. 'I know there are ways we can look at other pension systems around the country, to kind of close these loopholes.'"

O'Malley prepares government makeover
"When Gov. Martin O'Malley unveils his fiscal 2011 spending plan on Jan. 20, the massive document is likely to include elements of a state government makeover," writes The Gazette's Douglas Tallman. "You know the budget must be in dire straits if the O'Malley administration is looking for Ehrlich-era ideas."

The $100,000 club
"More than 10,000 state workers are raking in annual salaries topping $100,000 this year in Maryland and Virginia, states that have cut services and laid off employees and once again are facing massive budget shortfalls," writes The Examiner's Alan Suderman. "In Maryland, 5,217 employees, most working for the state's public colleges and universities, make $100,000 a year or more, according to public records requested by The Examiner. Virginia has 5,368 employees in the $100,000 club, though that figure excludes employees from some state agencies, including the judiciary."

MoCo delegation eyes maintenance of effort waiver
"The Montgomery County Delegation is now considering a local bill to waive the county's Maintenance of Effort (MOE) penalty for FY 2010," writes blogger Adam Pagnucco at Maryland Politics Watch. "Since the bill is co-sponsored by five of the county's eight Senators and seventeen of the county's twenty-four Delegates, it will almost certainly clear the two-thirds hurdle required of emergency bills like this one. Its fate in Annapolis is another question, as it must be approved by the entire General Assembly."

10 years later, Clarksburg a promise unrealized for many
Clarksburg photo.jpg"It was to be a model suburb, a chance for Montgomery County to get it right," writes The Post's Miranda Spivack in a story looking back at Clarksburg Town Center, which became a major issue in the 2006 Democratic primary. "The vision was for an intimate, walkable community, shops, a library, restaurants and public transportation close by. Home buyers, attracted by large houses with relatively moderate prices at low interest rates, were drawn to the northern Montgomery community, even camping out overnight for the chance to buy the home of their dreams. But for many, the promise of Clarksburg Town Center remains unrealized.

Royal Hart.jpgFormer delegate and lobbyist dies
"Royal V. Hart, 83, a Maryland state legislator in the 1960s who sponsored bills to promote fair housing and to repeal the state's ban on interracial marriage and who later was the chief lobbyist for Prince George's County at the State House, died Jan. 2 at Anne Arundel Medical Center after a heart attack," writes The Post's Timothy R. Smith.

Case study: In Baltimore, newspapers still drive storylines
A new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, mentioned briefly in this space on Monday, as it was released, suggests that while the news landscape has rapidly expanded, most of what the public learns is still overwhelmingly driven by traditional media--particularly newspapers. The study, which examined all the outlets that produced local news in Baltimore, Md., for one week, surveyed their output and then did a closer examination of six major narratives ... of the stories that did contain new information nearly all, 95 percent, came from traditional media -- most of them newspapers. These stories then tended to set the narrative agenda for most other media outlets. The local papers, however, are also offering less than they once did. .... A comparison of one major story during the week studied -- about state budget cuts -- found newspapers in the area produced only one-third as many stories in 2009 as they did the last time the state made a similar round of budget cuts in 1991, and the Baltimore Sun one seventh as many. Yet the numbers suggest the addition of new media has not come close to making up the difference."

News of the weird:

Maryland has a bridge to sell you
"Maryland highway officials have a bridge in Cecil County they want to sell you. The State Highway Administration says the Maryland Route 545 bridge over Little Elk Creek in Childs is available to be purchased and reused at a new location.," reports The AP. "The state is willing to sell the bridge to a city or county government, historic preservation group, nonprofit, corporation or individual. The new owner would be required to preserve the bridge according to established standards for historic bridges. The steel pony truss bridge was built in 1932 and is 27 feet wide. Federal regulations require that bridges must be at least 32 feet wide to handle the traffic load that crosses the span daily. State officials say it would be easier to take the bridge apart and move it than it would be to widen it."

O'Malley waiting for lobsters
Thumbnail image for Deval Patrick.jpg"The Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots in Sunday's NFL playoff game, and O'Malley (D) is looking for his payoff," Wagner writes. "O'Malley last week made a "friendly wager" with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D): O'Malley would provide Maryland crab cakes if the Patriots prevailed; Patrick (pictured here) promised New England lobsters. We have the video.

Briefly:

  • "The Environmental Protection Agency is moving to enact new rules to curb pollution from development and large-scale animal farms to help restore the Chesapeake Bay, the agency's chief announced Monday," The Sun's Timothy Wheeler reports.

  • Montgomery County, facing a $600 million budget gap for the next fiscal year, has proposed cutting or eliminating service on more than 20 Ride On bus routes beginning in April, county officials said.

  • University System of Maryland to partner with Prince George's Hospital, writes The Post's Jonathan Mummolo.

  • Red Maryland's Greg Kline asks "Are we missing something?" in Wednesday's planned rally: "there is some concern that some of the organizers of this event may be, at best, ignoring one of the biggest issues of concern to conservatives affecting liberty and prosperity here in Maryland. The issue, illegal immigration."

  • Mikulski takes issue with GSA over Eastern Shore facility.

  • The number of jobs at Maryland's nonprofit organizations increased in 2008 despite the recession, according to a new study.
  • Pagnucco produces his annual report on the state of Maryland blogdom.

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    By Aaron C. Davis  |  January 12, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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