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Posted at 8:11 AM ET, 01/11/2011

Rushern Baker to 'reassure' Wall Street

By Miranda S. Spivack

Newly elected Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) plans to head to Wall Street Friday to offer assurances that despite economic challenges, his new administration is in a good place, financially speaking.

Baker, who inherited a $77 million budget gap from his predecessor Jack B. Johnson (D), has said he can plug it by making some judicious trims to county spending and without tapping reserves that are more than $100 million. The size of the county's reserves help it maintain its financial credibilty with the rating houses.

The county budget is expected to be about $2.7 billion this year.

Baker told the County Council late Monday, during the first day of its three-day retreat at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Md., that he plans to "reassure" the big rating houses that the county's finances are in order. Prince George's has a Triple A bond rating, a highly coveted assessment by Wall Street that enables it to borrow money at lower rates.

"We want to make sure we maintain that Triple A rating," he told the council. "Normally we would not go until after the budget is done," which must be completed by June 1.

Unstated by Baker, but also part of the equation, was the Nov. 12 arrrest of Johnson, and his wife Leslie Johnson (D), a member of the council, on federal charges of evidence tampering and destruction of evidence. The arrests caused a short delay in the county's issuance of some bonds because of eyebrows raised in the financial community.

Baker, who ran on a platform of cleaning up county government, recently unveiled proposed ethics legislation that he said would help the county shed its "pay-to-play" reputation. Some businesses and residents have complained it favors companies that are willing to make campaign donations and in other ways help out local lawmakers.

By Miranda S. Spivack  | January 11, 2011; 8:11 AM ET
Categories:  Prince George's County  | Tags:  Prince George's County, Rushern L. Baker III, Wall Street, bond rating, budget  
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So; the path to greatness leads to Wall Street by way of Cambridge, Maryland.

Posted by: polecatx1 | January 11, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I bet the fat cats on Wall Street will applaud Johnson and crew for spending taxpayers money on a junket to a golf resort in Cambridge, Md. So what if the countys budget is in deficit, why should elected leaders (or Wall Street fat cats) have to suffer like the rest of us who pay their tab? It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when Johnson meets with the real power brokers in America. How far will he bend over, what lies will he tell them?

Posted by: VikingRider | January 11, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey Viking Rider: Rushern Baker is County Executive not Jackie or Leslie Johnson...get ir right so the money-folk know who to pay to play with in PG County.

Posted by: TheresaDudleyFat | January 11, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Viking Rider isn't all that far off the mark.

The mug of Jack B. Nimble still graces many of the articles about Rusty Baker in the Washington Post.

Is Baker standing in Johnson's shadow?

Does that make him Johnson II?

Whose path is it, anyway, the PATH TO GREATNESS?

Posted by: polecatx1 | January 11, 2011 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Dosn't matter, Jack Johnson, Baker, OMalley, Leggett or others, they all look like beggars with their hands out and scraping along on their knees as they seek an audience with the Lords on Wall Street. The Holy Grail of the AAA bond rating turns once proud, intelligent, pols, into submissive subjects as they seek the Holy Grail on Wall Street. It's a lousy system. Love to hear how Baker explains that PG is a great place to locate a business, those 12 mudered people, they were just the local drug gangs getting rid of trash.

Posted by: VikingRider | January 12, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

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