First Click -- Maryland
Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis
Thursday, January 7, 2010:
Plea deal may allow her to collect $83,000 pension
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) will resign next month, part of a plea deal reached Wednesday that brings a years-long corruption investigation to a close with a guilty plea in a perjury case in addition to last month's jury conviction on an embezzlement count," write Julie Bykowicz, Liz Kay and Justin Fenton at The Baltimore Sun. "Dixon, 56, will be sentenced Feb. 4. Under the terms of the agreement, she will cease leading the city that day and may not hold any city or state position for at least two years. She is to perform 500 hours of community service and pay $45,000 to charity. ... If she completes her probation within four years, her criminal record will be wiped clean, and she will likely be able to keep her $83,000 pension."
The Sun also takes a look at Dixon's successor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
More Coverage: WPost: Dixon statement, O'Malley reaction; New York Times; Christian Science Monitor
Commentary: The Sun: "Best Outcome;" Red Maryland: "Baltimore corruption remains"; Investigate Voice: "an odd sort of spectacle"
Owings launches primary bid
George W. Owings III, a former Maryland veterans affairs secretary, on Wednesday launched his long-shot Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Martin O'Malley, whom Owings criticized for raising taxes, making "devastating" budget cuts and seeking to repeal the death penalty," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The time to return to a day of good government is upon us," Owings, 64, told more than 100 supporters huddled on a courthouse lawn in Prince Frederick.
Owings compiled a conservative record on issues including abortion, gun rights and tobacco during 16 years as a state delegate from Calvert County. He was tapped in 2004 to serve as former Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veterans affairs secretary. During Wednesday morning's announcement speech, Owings chided O'Malley, who dismissed him as secretary four months into his administration, on a range of issues. Owings said the 2006 campaign slogan O'Malley used in his race against Ehrlich -- "Leadership That Works" -- had turned out to be "a veiled and empty promise."
More Coverage: The AP; WHAG; Southern Maryland Newspapers
Kendel Ehrlich: 'Numbers look pretty good' for husband to run
"Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is likely to run for governor if he can win, Ehrlich's wife announced at a Republican fundraiser in Frederick on Tuesday night," reports Erin Cunningham for The Gazette. 'The numbers look pretty good,' Kendel Ehrlich said. 'He doesn't want to do this without winning.' ... Kendel Ehrlich filled in for her husband during a fundraiser and 40th birthday celebration for Del. Joseph R. Bartlett (R-Dist. 4A) of Middletown. The former governor had been scheduled to appear at the event at Volt restaurant in Frederick, but canceled due to a business meeting, Bartlett said."
Bob Ehrlich, you'll recall, said back in November that his wife is "wildly enthusiastic" about him running again.
Baker picks up support of two Prince George's unions
"Former delegate Rushern L. Baker III won the support of two out of three public safety unions that announced endorsements Wednesday in the Prince George's County executive race," reports The Post's Jonathan Mummolo.
State approves tech contract to monitor slots casinos
"The Maryland Board of Public Works Wednesday morning authorized a $22 million contract with a company that will provide technology support for the state's 15,000 slot machines," reports Julekha Dash at The Washington Business Journal. "Under the contract, GTech Corp. of Providence, R.I., will, for a period of five years and five months, provide the network that monitors all of the slot machines. The state will pay GTech with the revenue it obtains from the slot machines.
The AP's Brian Witte writes that "The board voted 2-1 to approve the deal, with Gov. Martin O'Malley and Treasurer Nancy Kopp approving it and Comptroller Peter Franchot voting against it ... Franchot opposed the contract because the state has not allocated money to pay for it.
Preakness auction postponed
"Magna Entertainment Corp. agreed in bankruptcy court Tuesday to postpone the sale of two Maryland horse tracks as it works with bidders to provide reassurance that the Preakness would remain in the state," reports The Sun's Andrea Walker. "A Delaware bankruptcy judge also allowed Magna to end a profit-sharing agreement with Joseph A. De Francis and other former owners of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, who had a previous agreement to split any potential proceeds from slot machine gambling. The auction, which was scheduled for Friday, will now be held Jan. 21, according to attorneys who attended the hearing.
Delaware says more casinos needed
A report prepared for Delaware's Sports and Video Library Commission says the state needs two more casinos to generate the tax revenue it could lose as neighboring states expand their gambling operations," according to The AP. "Three firms have proposed gambling venues in and near Wilmington in the northeast while one is proposed in Delmar in the southwest. In addition, two are proposed in southcentral Delaware, in Georgetown and Millsboro.
MoCo lawmaker seeks to capitalize on momentum for bag fee
"Maryland and Virginia lawmakers say they will push for 5-cent fees on disposable paper and plastic bags at stores, after the District this month became the first major city in the nation to impose such a fee," writes David Sherfinski at The Washington Examiner. Del. Alfred Carr, a Democrat who represents Montgomery County, plans to reintroduce the legislation in the Maryland General Assembly. Del. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat who represents parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties, will introduce a bill in Richmond.
Poultry group says it will fight Cardin's Chesapeake bill
A poultry group says Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin's Chesapeake Bay restoration bill threatens the industry, a claim disputed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, according to The AP. "Delmarva Poultry Industry, which represents poultry farmers, processors and employees, says the bill would put Delmarva poultry farmers at a disadvantage because they would face more regulation than the rest of the country. The group supports a reauthorization of the current bay program."
O'Malley to pick Weldon successor
"It was a split decision, and the governor will decide," writes Andrew Schotz in The Herald-Mail. "The Republican central committees of Washington and Frederick counties met Wednesday night to pick a delegate to replace Richard B. Weldon Jr., but didn't agree.
Committee dinner circuit loses a prime spot
In one of the larger pre-session developments in Annapolis, Morton's is closing. The restaurant had emerged as a popular location for committee dinners, in which lobbyists wine and dine groups of lawmakers, all in keeping with Maryland's ethics laws. The Capital has the details on the shuttering.
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Aaron C. Davis
January 7, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner
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