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Thursday, March 11, 2010:

The Agenda

MP image.jpgIt's certainly not the most important event today in Annapolis -- an emotional pitch to raise the state's tax on alcohol to pay for shrinking services for the developmentally disabled, or hearings on any one of more than 120 other pieces of pending legislation could take that title.

But an event the authors of this page have planned tonight provides as good an opportunity as any to reflect on the evolving media culture of Maryland politics.

Today, this roundup of Maryland news will be e-mailed to thousands, posted on Facebook, pinged to Twitter users, linked to on and bounced around Yahoo!, Google News, and beyond. It's one of at least three such competing morning news feeds on Maryland politics that news organizations will deliver on multiple "platforms," as the industry buzzword goes, to reach an ever more fractured audience.

facebook.jpgIn Maryland, as in just about everywhere else, politics, news, and social media are increasingly intertwined. In Annapolis, it would be easy to argue the most popular nexus has become Facebook. Dozens of state lawmakers update their profiles multiple times each day to solicit thoughts on legislation or to let constituents know about their latest votes. Interest groups begin campaigns for legislation by launching "fan" pages, and lobbyists and advocates have on more than one occasion this session touted a bill's "fan count" on Facebook as evidence a committee should take an issue more seriously.

Thumbnail image for Aaron.jpgNoticing this growing Facebook culture in Annapolis last fall, The Washington Post's Maryland politics team launched its own page (to add to the portfolio of our Web site, blog and Twitter feed). As of this morning, it has 5,290 "fans" (and I won't brag about how many more that is than other news sites, other than to say it's a solid 1,000 more than the number on Gov. Martin O'Malley's site).

We post there many of the news items and stories we write for our blog and for the newspaper and the site has quickly grown in to a popular online destination for hundreds to post comments and debate developments in Maryland politics.

Tonight, we attempt to bridge the gap with the digital We're hosting a get-together for the page's 5,000 or so fans in a restaurant across the street from the State House. We expect some readers, some lobbyists, advocates and a few of the General Assembly's more Internet savvy politicians.

If you're not on Facebook, however, don't feel deterred. You're still welcome to stop by, have a drink and look to the future of Maryland politics and news - including whether former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) will announce his candidacy on his Facebook page, or through one of his new text message alerts.

And if you want, we'll have laptop on hand to sign you up on Facebook when you arrive.

-- Aaron C. Davis

You're Invited

Thumbnail image for MP image.jpgYou're invited on Thursday to meet the reporters and editors behind The Washington Post's Maryland Politics Facebook page -- as well as some of our 5,000 or so fans. Cash bar and food available. We can promise plenty of lively conversation and interesting people.
Where: Harry Brownes, 66 State Circle, Annapolis, Md.
When: Thursday, March 11th, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

News You Should Know

O'Malley sees signs of recovery in latest revenue revision
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for O'Malley recent mug.jpg"The Board of Revenue Estimates revised Maryland's revenue projections downward by $66 million for the current fiscal year on Wednesday, a drop largely attributed to less-than-expected revenue from the lottery and sales tax after big snow storms in the state," writes Brian Witte of the Associated Press. "Gov. Martin O'Malley said he's seeing signs of recovery in Maryland's latest revenue estimates because the revision isn't nearly as steep as past ones. He also saw positive news in the fact that revenue projections were not reduced for the next fiscal year, and he held out hope the state could see an upward revenue revision next year."

House earmark reform could clip Maryland employers
"Maryland employers, particularly those in the defense and aerospace industries, could take a hit from an election-year decision Wednesday by House Democrats to ban corporate earmarks in 2010," writes The Baltimore Sun's Paul West. "In an attempt to contest Republicans for the 'reform' mantle, Democratic leaders in the House said they won't approve funding requests for corporate projects this year. Such earmarks are among the most controversial because of the potential for scandal. House Republicans responded by calling for an end to all earmarks, not just those that go directly to corporations."

Lawmakers frustrated with Laurel detention center for girls
Kullen.jpg"Maryland's only secure detention center for girls is so old and outdated that frustrated state legislators have raised the prospect of closing the Laurel facility by next year," writes The Post's Henri E. Cauvin. "Next Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will take up a bill to do just that, and although the legislation's sponsors don't expect the measure to pass, proponents say the shortcomings of the Thomas J.S. Waxter Center reflect a broader failure to address the needs of girls who end up under the supervision of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. 'Sometimes you need a big hammer to get attention,' said Del. Sue Kullen (D-Calvert), a sponsor of the bill."

Baltimore transportation aid eyed for budget cuts
"A new General Assembly analysis of Baltimore's transportation spending has reopened a debate over state aid to the city -- and is leading some lawmakers to consider multimillion-dollar cuts," writes The Sun's Annie Linskey. "The city receives more state funding than any county, and nowhere is that discrepancy more apparent than in the distribution of gas tax and titling fee revenues. Baltimore is to receive $130 million from that fund in the next fiscal year; the state's 23 counties will split the remaining $10 million." corrects salary story
The news site has posted a significant correction to a story we picked up on Wednesday. "Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward Chow said salary figures quoted in yesterday's story about the department were inaccurate. Chow said his own salary is $101,000, not the $80,160 mentioned in the story - a number obtained in listing of the salaries of cabinet secretaries by the Governor's Compensation Commission. The base salary of Chow's chief of staff, Jerry Boden, is $117,751. With fringe benefits, that comes to the $145,000 figure used in the story. ... Therefore Boden's salary is only about 15 percent higher than the secretary he serves, not 80 percent higher, as the story initially said.


Dixon coat.jpg"Fur Coat surrendered by Sheila Dixon"
-- a description on the site eBay of the latest item from former Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon to be auctioned off as part of a plea deal to settle charges of embezzlement and perjury. As of 6 a.m., the current bid was $810.09.

"We don't want just reliable evidence. We want evidence with heightened reliability."
-- Katy C. O'Donnell, chief of the state public defenders' aggravated homicide division, which handles capital cases, arguing against a bill that would expand evidence standards passed last year that qualify cases for the death penalty. Prosecutors offered differing takes on the bill, which was heard by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.


Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

By John Wagner  |  March 11, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Md. Senate panel weighs expanded death penalty
Next: Md. Dems mimic and mock Ehrlich on new Web site


As a Baltimore native, it pains me to see the hometown rag getting its clock cleaned by a DC paper. But I have to admit that you guys do the best job of covering Maryland politics.

Posted by: member8 | March 11, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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