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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

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

Friday, January 8, 2010:

O'Malley targets sex offenders; budget cuts and crime top the agenda in Montgomery and Prince George's; a new mayor is taking over in Baltimore; and the 2010 election year starts ramping up

O'Malley: Stopping sex offenders will be major session focus
O'Malley glum.jpgGov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Thursday said Marylanders have been rightfully shaken by the Christmas-time death of an 11-year-old that police allege was killed by a registered sex offender and finding the right legislative response will be a major focus of his administration when the General Assembly reconvenes next week, reports The Post's Aaron C. Davis.
"The murders of children really, I mean, very rightly capture everybody's attention we all see our own child in the murder of a child," O'Malley told reporters outside the Maryland Association of Counties' winter conference in Cambridge.
The governor said he has had conversations with former Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., his father-in-law, "about the possibility of civil commitments." While in office, Curran has pushed for lifetime parole and legislation that would have allowed for civil commitments of sexual predators after their criminal sentences have been completed.
"These tragedies motivate everybody to re-examine what we're doing and what we can do better to try to prevent things like this from happening again," O'Malley said.
The Sun's take here. The AP's take here.
Meanwhile, MACo on Thursday elected Harford County Republican David R. Craig to be its president for 2010. Craig is the first MACo president to have also served as the head of the Maryland Municipal League.

Leggett serves up second batch of cuts
Leggett head tilted.jpg"Sparsely used bus routes across Montgomery County would be shut down, dozens of county workers would lose their jobs and schools would take a significant hit as part of $70 million in midyear budget cuts being proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett," writes The Post's Michael Laris. "It's a rare second batch of cuts in the county's adopted $4.47 billion budget, on top of about $30 million in trims made after it was passed last year."
The Gazette's take here.

Prince George's crime lowest in decades, officials say
"Crime in Prince George's County hit record lows in 2009, dropping in every major category from the previous year to hit an overall rate not seen since at least the Ford presidency, officials said at a news conference Thursday," writes The Post's Matt Zapotosky.
And in less publicized news: "The former chief of security at the Prince George's County jail, who was suspended in the spring while authorities investigated allegations that she initiated a sexual relationship with an inmate two decades ago when she was a guard, has quietly retired," writes The Post's Ruben Castaneda.

Rawlings-Blake prepares to take reigns in Baltimore
Rawlings-Blake.jpgBaltimore "City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake ordered Thursday a comprehensive review of all city agencies and pledged to keep key public safety leaders in place as she began taking the reins of the city's highest office in the wake of Mayor Sheila Dixon's resignation," writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper. "Rawlings-Blake, who will ascend to mayor as the city struggles with a historic budget crisis, spoke of the "awesome and enormous responsibility" that comes with the mayor's office."
Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar's take: "Love trumped common sense and cost Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon her political career. That's the lesson you can draw from Dixon's negotiated resignation, which will take place Feb. 4."

O'Malley tries to paint Ehrlich into a corner
Ehrlich mug.jpg"As former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) continues to mull whether to get back in the ring, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has started taking some swings," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The latest came in a fundraising solicitation Thursday in which O'Malley seeks to tie Ehrlich to the "fringe right-wing base" of the Republican party -- a difficult spot from which to win elections in a state where Democrats enjoy a 2-to-1 advantage in party registration."
Meanwhile, Gazette columnist Blair Lee offers his take on the Democratic primary: "Well, it would be hard to find two Democrats who are more opposite than George Owings and Martin O'Malley. Owings is a 64-year-old, pro-business, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, pro-death penalty, anti-tax, conservative Episcopalian. O'Malley is a 47-year-old, pro-labor, pro-abortion, anti-gun, anti-death penalty, tax-and-spend, liberal Catholic."
And The Gazette's Alan Brody and Erin Cunningham wrap up the week in Maryland politics, writing: "Election season got in full swing this week as three challengers announced campaign plans and a fourth, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., seemed closer to a decision."

Jackson wobbly as races gets into gear
Thumbnail image for Michael Jackson.jpg"Prince George's County Sheriff Michael A. Jackson had a rough day Wednesday," writes The Post's Jonathan Mummolo. "An established figure in the public safety community, Jackson, who is running for county executive, lost the support of the county's police and firefighter's unions to former Del. Rushern L. Baker III, and won the support of his own deputy sheriffs by a relatively narrow margin."

Steele tells GOP critics: 'Get a life' or 'fire me'
"Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele lashed out at critics Thursday after some prominent Republicans reportedly questioned his leadership of the party and accused Steele of focusing more on his own image than on rebuilding the GOP," writes The Post's Philip Rucker in a report on Maryland's former lieutenant governor.

Budget cuts to reach far and wide
"When lawmakers return to Annapolis on Wednesday, they will face a $2 billion gorilla in the State House," writes The Gazette's Sean R. Sedam and Alan Brody. "The challenge of taming the projected deficit after Gov. Martin O'Malley submits his budget proposal later this month will fall largely to three fiscal committees. But the effects of budget shortfalls that have dominated O'Malley's first three years will be far-reaching."
Meanwhile, "Maryland business executives are bracing for the almost inevitable program cuts and tax increase proposals as legislators prepare for next week's opening of the 2010 General Assembly session," notes Kevin James Shay in The Gazette.

Md. facility cited in Justice study on juvenile sex abuse
"The U.S. Justice Department reported Thursday that 12 percent of incarcerated juveniles, or more than 3,200 young people, had been raped or sexually abused in the past year by fellow inmates or prison staff, quantifying for the first time a problem that has long troubled lawmakers and human rights advocates," writes The Post's Carrie Johnson. "Among the sites mentioned in the new study (was) ... the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in suburban Richmond; and the Backbone Mountain Youth Center in Swanton, Md. ... In Maryland, a spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Services said the department "has not had any substantiated complaints for sexual misconduct at the facility in Swanton and has had only one allegation made there" since 2007. The department also announced a review."

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By John Wagner  |  January 8, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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