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First Click, Maryland -- A 'truthmonger' at the dock

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Thursday, April 15, 2010:

The Agenda

Me in dots.jpgYou couldn't have asked for a much prettier day for a charm offensive. For a couple of hours Wednesday afternoon, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) perched on a bench on the Annapolis waterfront with his sunglasses on, offering one reporter after another a glimpse of his comeback campaign.

"We're going to focus on the environment, education and small business," Ehrlich said when it became The Post's turn. "We're also going to talk a little about criminal justice reform. ... It'll be a combination of things you would expect from me and some you wouldn't."

Ehrlich hand.jpgBest we can tell, there wasn't a whole lot of news made. A TV reporter earlier in the queue could be overheard recording a stand-up on a nearby dock about a letter that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) wrote to Ehrlich some months ago saying Ehrlich couldn't beat Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). The former governor shared the existence of the letter in an appearance on Baltimore's WMAR earlier in the day as well.

Ehrlich, a former jock, appears to have drawn inspiration from the letter in much the same way a football coach intends for his players to when he tacks a unfavorable newspaper story up in the locker room in advance of a big game.

In our promised 15 minutes Wednesday, Ehrlich came closest to generating a headline by hinting that he'll call for the rollback of an increase in the corporate income tax passed in 2007. Last week, as he kicked off his campaign, Ehrlich called for rolling back an increase in the sales tax passed in the same special session of the General Assembly.

"I would like to revisit, at the appropriate time, the corporate income tax," Ehrlich said. "You will see that discussed during the campaign."

Pressed on whether he will propose cutting the tax, Ehrlich said he didn't want to step on a series of policy positions he will roll out during the coming weeks.

For the most part, though, our time on the bench consisted of Ehrlich being Ehrlich, sharing some things you wouldn't necessarily think he would.

Ehrlich talked at some length, for example, about a book he has drafted, volunteering that much of the writing was done after 10 p.m., once his two children had gone to bed and his wife, Kendel, had gone to the 24-hour-a-day gym where she works out.

He acknowledged that he has to raise a good deal of money in coming weeks, but Ehrlich said it won't be as time-consuming as some expect. His model for raising money is attending "house parties" in the evenings, arranged by aides and attended by donors. "I've never been one to go down in the basement, get on the phone and spend a lot of time calling people," he said.

And Ehrlich was colorful as usual when asked about O'Malley's claim that he is being a "scaremonger" by telling people Democrats are planning a monumental tax increase after the election.

"I'm a truthmonger," Ehrlich said without missing a beat. "I'm guilty to truth-mongering."

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

O'Malley, McDonnell touts Blue crab comeback in Chesapeake
blue crab.jpg"And now for something completely different: good news about the Chesapeake Bay," writes The Post's David Fahrenthold. "The Chesapeake's blue crabs, in decline for a decade, are in the middle of an extraordinary comeback, officials in Maryland and Virginia said Wednesday. The estuary's crab population has more than doubled in two years, they said, reaching its highest level since 1997. The chief reason, officials said, is a set of limits placed on the crab harvest in 2008. These were aimed at protecting more female crabs, which can produce millions of baby crabs apiece -- but not if they're turned into she-crab soup first. These catch limits had a cost: They cut deeply into the income of some watermen and seafood dealers. But scientists said the crab is now an ecological success story, which stands out in the Chesapeake's grim history of over-fishing and pollution."

Prisoner census law could boost Baltimore
Maryland will become the first state in the country to redraw districts by counting prisoners in their home towns instead of their cells, a change that is expected to help Baltimore avoid losing political power," writes The Post's Carol Morello. "Civil rights advocates praised the No Representation Without Population Act signed Tuesday by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). The National Urban League and the ACLU are among groups that have called for an end to 'prison-based gerrymandering,' and similar changes have been considered by at least seven other states. But opponents, primarily lawmakers from rural areas with prison facilities, consider the change a power grab that could cost them federal funds down the road. ... The law was enacted in preparation for the 2010 Census, now underway, and it underscores what is at stake. Statewide census numbers determine how many congressional seats a state has, but each state has some leeway in using the data to determine the boundaries of state and local political districts. Maryland's biggest beneficiary is Baltimore, where 68 percent of the state's 25,000 prisoners were living before they were convicted. The city has lost an estimated 12,000 residents since the 2000 Census."

Legislature limits military recruitment of high school students
"Maryland schools will no longer forward scores from a popular vocational test to military recruiters under new legislation that requires high school students to send the information themselves," writes The Post's Michael Birnbaum. "The test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, is administered by the military in schools across the country as a public service and is used by career counselors as a tool to guide students toward an array of jobs, not just those in the armed services. Unless the school or a student checks an opt-out box, the scores are released to military recruiters, who can get in touch with prospective recruits. The new law, signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley this week, requires Maryland schools to check the opt-out box. Many school systems, including those in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, haven't forwarded the scores for several years. But the new law will apply that policy statewide."

Marylanders could demand foreclosure mediation by summer
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for O'Malley recent mug.jpg"Beginning this summer, Maryland homeowners at risk of losing their properties will have another option to stave off foreclosure," writes The Post's Ovetta Wiggins. "The Maryland General Assembly this week approved a mediation program that will give homeowners a chance to meet with lenders and an administrative law judge to discuss ways to stay in their homes. The bill, proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), takes effect July 1, and should be fully implemented by mid-August. Under the legislation, the lender is required to send an application for a loan-modification or loss-mitigation program to the homeowner -- which the homeowner can use to seek help -- at least 45 days before a foreclosure action is filed in court. The bill requires the lender to pay a $300 fee for a foreclosure filing."

Will White House consider Mikulski's Polish heritage?
Mikulski.jpg"Earth to Obama: If you want Barbara Mikulski's support for your latest NASA plan, take her to Europe this weekend," writes The Baltimore Sun's Paul West. "On Sunday, President Barack Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to services in Krakow for the state funeral of President Lech Kaczynski and First Lady Maria Kaczynska. The Polish leader was killed in last weekend's plane crash that took the lives of all 96 on board. Mikulski, granddaughter of Polish immigrants, is one of America's leading elected officials of Polish descent. That makes her an obvious pick to join the U.S. delegation at the funeral. As it happens, the quickest and most prestigious way to get to Poland is aboard Air Force One, which will be leaving Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland on Saturday evening. No public word yet on whether the Democratic senator is invited, but giving her a coveted seat should be a no-brainer. The perk would put her in Obama's debt. And the flight over and back might give the president a chance to do some gentle persuasion on a nettlesome problem -- overcoming congressional opposition to his effort to reshape the U.S. manned space program.

No furloughs in Prince George's
Jack B. Johnson.jpgPrince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) said Wednesday that he will submit a revised budget to the County Council that will eliminate all furloughs of county employees because of additional state funding the county secured during the recently concluded General Assembly session," writes The Post's Jonathan Mummolo. "Last month, Johnson's proposed budget for fiscal 2011 included eight days of furloughs for government employees, which, if approved, would have marked the third straight year of furloughs in Prince George's -- a policy that has spawned protests and legal battles."


Quotables

Thumbnail image for Shank.jpg"It's a blatant power grab from the metropolitan areas of the state, particularly Baltimore city, to capture more seats and more population."
-- House Minority Whip Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington) criticizing the law counting prisoners as from their last known address before incarceration. His district has three prisons with about 8,000 inmates.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Jamie Raskin.jpg"This was a victory for the privacy of student information and the right of families to engage in decision-making."
-- Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), who championed the measure to limit military recruitment in Maryland schools.

"I would be happy to go out and eat a bunch of hard crabs ... In the last couple of years, I really felt uncomfortable about it."
-- Rom Lipcius, a marine scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, saying it is "really rare ... to go from the situation where the crab had been over-fished and nearing possible collapse [in the Chesapeake], to a point where it is now being sustainably fished."


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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.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  April 15, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Ehrlich to address tea party rally in Westminster

Comments

I couldn't help reading and re-reading former Gov. Ehrlich's comments that his campaign proposals would focus on the environment and education. The amount of irony and hypocrisy in that statement is simply, jaw-droppingly, unbelievable. What positive measures did he accomplish in his term as Governor on those two areas?

The health of the Bay has increased markedly during Gov. O'Malley's term in office. I found it pretty interesting that the interview with Gov. Ehrlich was immediately followed by an article saying that a ban on fishing female crabs-- instituted 2 years ago, under Gov. O'Malley-- has resulted in more than doubling the crab population. That alone will help improve the health of the Bay, not to mention a long-term gain for the small businessmen (crabbers, fishermen, and those who make a living with recreational businesses on the Bay) that Gov. Ehrlich claims to care so much for.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | April 15, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Why won't the Post do some serious reporting on Ehrlich? I don't care how charming he is, what we need to know is how he intends to balance the states budget while he is already proposing to cut taxes? If revenues are reduced due to elimination of some taxes, than what programs or services will he cut? If he is pinning his hopes for Maryuland on a national economic recovery, don't hold your breath.

Posted by: VikingRider | April 15, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

ehrlich must think he sliped into a hot tub time machine. i don't think Maryland will fall for his promises of tax cuts before an election, just to raise them after, is going to work a second time. I can remember his poor job as governor. I can remember him using our police to infiltrate opposition political groups. I can remember him hiring homeless people from philly to illegaly stump for him at polling places. the year is still 2010 and Maryland still remembers what you did Ehrlich.

Posted by: MarilynManson | April 15, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Tea Party, know thy enemy. Ronald Reagan, Father of America's debt, started America on the road to decline with his tax cuts for the rich that went to debt for our kids to pay. Reagan doubled the entire National Debt in the sixth year of his presidency. Reagan created more debt that the 39 presidents before him in over 200 years. It'a almost unfathomable Reagan could ring up so much debt in such a short time. For what? Tax cuts that mostly went to the rich.

Tea Party, your enemy is not the Democrats. Your enemy is the very rich.
The tax cuts to the rich Rich.
The Rich who paid 90% tax in during WWII
The Rich who paid 70% tax when Reagan took office
The Rich who paid 28% tax when Reagan left office
The Wall Street Rich
The Fox News Rich
The Rush Limbaugh Rich
The cryin' Glenn Beck Rich
The Ehrlich Rich, just another rich man looking to cut his own taxes so he can become richer

Know thy enemy Tea Party, or you will become your own enemy.

Posted by: chucky-el | April 15, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Tea Party, know thy enemy. Ronald Reagan, Father of America's debt, started America on the road to decline with his tax cuts for the rich that went to debt for our kids to pay. Reagan doubled the entire National Debt in the sixth year of his presidency. Reagan created more debt that the 39 presidents before him in over 200 years. It'a almost unfathomable Reagan could ring up so much debt in such a short time. For what? Tax cuts that mostly went to the rich.

Tea Party, your enemy is not the Democrats. Your enemy is the very rich.
The tax cuts to the rich Rich.
The Rich who paid 90% tax in during WWII
The Rich who paid 70% tax when Reagan took office
The Rich who paid 28% tax when Reagan left office
The Wall Street Rich
The Fox News Rich
The Rush Limbaugh Rich
The cryin' Glenn Beck Rich
The Ehrlich Rich, just another rich man looking to cut his own taxes so he can become richer

Know thy enemy Tea Party, or you will become your own enemy.

Posted by: chucky-el | April 15, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Talk about raising taxes after the election, isn't that what OMalley will do if he wins? The sales tax could expanded and the state gas tax could be increased. How else will the state be able to afford the massive transportation projects it is proposing? And how else will the state be able to afford the skyrocketing costs of teachers pensions? I mean to balance a budget, you either increase revenues (taxes and fees) and/or cut programs and services. Republican or Democrat, makes no difference. I guess we will have to wait and see which is the honest one.

Posted by: VikingRider | April 15, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

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