Monday, December 31, 2012

Maryland State of Mind Top 10 Stories

(Baltimore, MD) – When I started this blog it grew out of the abundance of material I was collecting, and writing about on Maryland. This year as I have done on Charles Black Politics Blog I’ve chronicled the stories which reached the top ten. I want to thank many of my State House colleagues who have done a lot of the first person reporting on stories around the state.  I am sad that a number of my colleagues who have institutional memory are no longer here, others are now writing for larger media groups, and the new crop of reporters who ventured into “the Pit” provided the spunk we need to up our reporting skills. So let’s get started.

10. The Schism in Maryland GOP. The GOP in the state is desperately looking for new leadership. Robert Erhlich has given up the mantle as a political juggernaut (but everyone wants his endorsement) and taken to writing opinion. So you can imagine my surprise when the county GOP Central Party was removed from the decision to replace a council member on the Cecil County Council. Instead the state party was chosen to make the selection. It’s pissed off two high powered GOP members Rep. Andy Harris and State Senator E.J Pipken. Also there was an insurgent campaign to remove Alex Money as thestate chair of the GOP. Stay tuned.

9. Peter Franchot is not a candidate for Governor. The state comptroller is loud and visible in his many criticisms of how government could be better. He was against gambling and appeared in a commercial against the idea. If he ran for governor he would have been in a field of four.

8. Ethical Reform. Political office holders need to think twice about using their offices for financial or political advantage. Heed the lessons of several of your colleagues, Sen. Ulysses S. Currie, Del. Tiffany Alston, and Del. Don Dwyer. FYI, if you believe you can keep your position until you are sentenced, a change in the law says you will be removed.

Del. Neil C. Parrott
7.  Ballot Initiatives.  You can thank Del. Neil Parrott for the increase in ballot initiatives. He was able to use technology to put more initiatives on the ballot. Great for democracy, but an increase in the amount of time you spend filling out a ballot on Election Day.

6. Special Sessions.  I must admit I’ve been through 7 Special Sessions since I began at MPT. Some are done to address urgent matters.  Others have been concocted to address issues which are man/women made.  The latest revolved around gambling in the state.  The legislature meets for 90 days and it appears this is not enough time to get things done.

5. Leadership at HBCU’s.  There is nothing worse than poor leadership. The last place you need ineptitude is at the state’s leading institutions for educating African-Americans. It began with the removal of Coppin State University’s President. The Board of Regents at Morgan State University (in a close vote) decided to remove the President then reversed itself. Lastly, the President of Baltimore City Community College was removed after losing nearly 2000 students and is in jeopardy of losing its accreditation. This is a bad sign.

4. Gambling Interest. We knew that lobbying by those interested in bringing expanded gaming to the state was active. Who knew they would be the driver of political ads in the state during a Presidential race. Everyone else sat on the sidelines. The amount of money spent dwarfed the amount spent on a governor’s race.

3. Maryland Leaders in Congress Get Juiced. Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer is waiting to see if Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California is ready to relinquish control. Congressman Elijah Cummings is poised to become a Chairman of a committee. The biggest change in 2013 is Sen. Barbara Mikulski will become the chair of the Appropriations Committee one the most powerful committees in the senate. She will have the power to decide what gets funded.

2. Waiting in the Wings. There will be a lot of posturing in the New Year with a trio of Maryland Politicians who are poised to replace the governor. Here’s what we know today. On the Democratic side expect Attorney General Douglas Gansler to via for the top spot; Ken Ullman, Howard County Executive, is looking for an upgrade and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown will likely throw his hat in the ring. On the Republican side there is Harford County Executive David Craig, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, and Brian Murphy who challenged Robert Erhlich.

1. Governor Martin O’Malley. 2012 was a very good year for the Governor. He backed a pair of ballot initiatives that won (Same Sex Marriage and the Dream Act). He was the chair of the Governor’s Association, which allowed him to address the GOP directly. He also made a major speech to the DNC. He has made no secret he will seek higher officer i.e. The Presidency, and yes, he has an exploratory committee called “Oh Say Can You See…”