Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Thursday, August 02, 2007

20070801 News Clips

News Clips

Aug. 1, 2007


Balto. Co. charter change is sought

2 councilmen seek repeal of state job prohibition,0,1442153.story?coll=bal_tab02_layout

Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina worked for a quasi-state agency, then collected a six-figure legal settlement from the government when he challenged his firing.

Now Gardina, along with fellow Councilman John Olszewski Sr., want to place on the 2008 ballot a charter amendment to repeal a prohibition against council members holding state jobs.

Gardina and other county officials say they were unaware of the charter provision in 2003 when the councilman was a project manager for an agency create d by the state legislature. He and Olszewski say the prohibition is antiquated and unfairly restricts who can run for the council. But opponents contend that council members with state jobs hold the possibility of having too much influence, and would inevitably run into conflicts of interest.

Open Space purchase debated

Amid Shore deal, some question how state chooses, buys,0,2202039.story?page=1

Department of Natural Resources officials say the state ought to buy a 74-acre parcel at the northern tip of Kent Island - known as Love Point - because it is unique, offers deep-water access for boaters and has historical significance as the main docking point for a ferry that shuttled passengers between Baltimore and the Eastern Shore in the decades before the Bay Bridge opened. But others say the proposed $7.2 million deal for the Langenfelder Marine property - a dusty, industrial waterfront site - raises broader concerns about how the state handles land purchases under Program Open Space.

Company proposal

Kopp noted that the deal was proposed by the property's owners, Atchafalaya Holdings LLC, and did not originate with the state. Records show that company representatives approached Natural Resources officials in the waning days of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration and that the proposal moved forward under O'Malley.

Del. Richard A. Sossi, a Queen Anne's County Republican, said the Kudner farm purchase appeared "odorous" but that he doesn't object to the deal for the Langenfelder site. "To me, it looks fine and legitimate," said Sossi, who serves on the House of Delegates Environmental Matters Committee. "I think it's a fair price. ... I have not seen or heard anything to cause me concern."

Franchot plans to block purchase of shoreline property

Comptroller Peter Franchot said Tuesday he will again attempt to block the state's purchase of 73 acres of shoreline property on Kent Island at the Board of Public Works meeting today. "I think it's an unfortunate choice for Program Open Space," he said.

Lawmaker: Flag teachers suspected of child abuse

School systems throughout the state wo uld be informed when teachers face allegations of sexual or violent crimes under a bill a state lawmaker plans to propose.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-District 34, said the measure would prevent school districts from unknowingly hiring a teacher accused of these crimes.

"Children's safety in the classrooms should be a primary goal of the school systems in this state," Jacobs said in a statement. "We must not allow sexual predators to hide out in our children's classrooms." Jacobs' bill would include private schools that do not notify county superintendents of teachers under criminal investigation for alleged sexual, violent or child-abuse crimes.

Top official seeks to ban cancer-causing coal fly ash eeks_to_ban_cancer_causing_coal_fly_ash.html

The use of coal fly ash, which has been linked to well water contamination in Gambrills, may soon be illegal to use in Anne Arundel. County Executive John Leopold is drafting an emergency bill that would prohibit the material that has been blamed for leaching cancer-causing heavy metals into 23 wells in western Anne Arundel. "We're talking about an immediate halt in spreading the plume of carcinogens in our drinking water,” Leopold said.

Foes of Nuclear Expansion Find Few Allies

In a Maryland county where politicians roll out tax breaks for nuclear power expansion and residents feel so good about their existing plant that some fish next to the place, Bob Boxwell knows he's fighting an uphill battle.

The longtime environmentalist is among a tiny group of Calvert County residents known to be making a concerted effort to stop a proposed reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby. The reactor would be Calvert Cliffs' third and could become the first project of its kind in the United States in about 30 years, underscoring the nation's renewed interest in nuclear power.

Garrett Co. crops could provide for areas suffering from drought

Garrett County crops have not suffered as much from this summer's drought as those in neighboring counties, officials said.

"Our limiting fa ctor here for crops is temperature," according to Willie Lantz, who is agriculture and natural resources educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension for Garrett County. "The rainfall is seldom a limiting factor here. We are having a dry year here, but even though rainfall is less than normal, it's still enough for crops."Farmers in other counties have contacted the extension office to find Garrett County farms that will be able to provide hay and corn to feed their livestock in coming months, Lantz said.


Doing the math,0,2863177.story

Maryland's Court of Appeals has agreed with the State Board of Education that charter schools are entitled to a much larger sum of money th an school boards, particularly Baltimore's Board of School Commissioners, think is fair. The ruling could cost the city school system hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensatory funds. It may also inspire the General Assembly to come up with more realistic funding for charter schools.

In the meantime, a more practical solution might be for Baltimore's school board members and new schools CEO Andres Alonso to sit down with members of the state board and try to convince them that a recent funding formula offered to charter schools by the city school system is satisfactory even under the court's ruling.

Teaching the Constitution

Donald Devine

It is about time someone taught the Constitution to the professors, lawyers and journalists. In responding to President Bush's recent assertion of presidential control over U.S. attorneys, both a conservative newspaper editor and a progressive professor used the exact same word, "astonishing," to express disbelief that a president could do such a thing. Even most Americans would not recognize the reality of the Founders' Constitution. President Bush has provided a great learning experience by demonstrating executive power; but the Constitution is much more. It really is a miracle that it all works. No one in his right mind would divide power into so many parts if the idea were for the government to be the major decisionmaker for society. That is why the Founders also limited the powers of the national government and adopted the 10th Amendment.

When one branch pushes too hard, the others strike back. This is what happened with the U.S. attorneys issue recently and many times throughout American history. That is why the Constitution survives. It is flexible enough to take whatever comes.

Donald Devine was the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management from 1981 to 1985 and is the director of the Federalist Leadership Center at Bellevue University and editor of Conservative Battleline Online.

Sketches keep state staffers on same page as legislature

By Tom LoBianco

A drawing from 2001 represents the jet leased by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, dubbed "Air Parris," and from 2003 is Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s face on a slot machine. The images, often humorous and irreverent, appear in a collection of posters Maryland officials have kept in secret to chronicle the high and low points of each General Assembly session since 1980.


Troubles mount for Shore farmers

Growers turn to crop insurance subsidies

This was supposed to be a year of good fortune where Lower Shore farmers wouldn't need support payments or safety-net insurance. Then in late May, the rain stopped, and the faucet has been relatively dry since. Local burn bans were enacted across the region.

A new five-year $285 billion Farm Bill was reauthorized by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, and more crop insurance subsidies are in the bill. U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-1st-Md., supported the bill, which passed 231-191, because it has reorganized some money to more conservation programs and pushed more dollars to cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.

The region has been identified as having historic agricultural importance, too. There are also additional support options for fruit and vegetable growers, which haven't been in previous bills. "I would say this Farm Bill is probably the most beneficial farm bill to Maryland and Delmarva than we have seen in the past," he said.

Candidate for Congress also eyes presidency

Sounding off on topics such as immigration and pedophilia, congressional candidate Frank Nethken sat on the steps outside Hagerstown City Hall on Tuesday and spoke his mind.

He called it a press conference, but it was actually a monologue in front of a reporter and a videographer from The Herald-Mail.

Nethken, 76, a Republican challenging eight-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, said he's also running an "exploratory" campaign for president. He said he checked with the Maryland State Board of Elections on how he should proceed.

Asked what Bartlett, 81, thinks of Nethken's candidacy, press secretary Lisa Wright quoted Bartlett as saying, "What matters is what voters think, not what I think."

Ethics Bill Faces Tough Senate Test

After winning overwhelming passage in the House, a lobbying and ethics overhaul landed Tuesday in the Senate, where all sides are bracing for a fight. But while Senate Democrats urged swift passage, Republican leaders said they needed some time.

Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, said he voted against the bill in part because he believed it would expose members and their campaign committees to possible investigations if they make errors in the newly required paperwork. "It's setting people up to fail," Barton said. "My concern is that there is way too much bureaucracy in this legislation." "It's not a perfect bill. But it's a significant step forward," said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

House votes to give up many traditional perks

The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved sweeping ethics rules that would require lawmakers to disclose the names of lobbyists who gather more than $15,000 in political contributions for them within a six-month period. The measure would also impose new restrictions on accepting gifts, discounted airfare and other long-held perquisites of office. The legislation, to be considered by the Senate later this week, also calls for greater disclosure of legislators' special projects, or earmarks, which are often shrouded in secrecy.

The most far-reaching element of the bill - and the one that caused the most contentious behind-the-scenes negotiations - was the provisions to require the disclosure of campaign contributions that lobbyists gather from clients and associates to give to political candidates and the parties' congressional campaign committees. The bill would require lawmakers and the committees to disclose the names of lobbyists who raise $15,000 or more within a six-month period.

"Trying to preserve those provisions was a sticking point in the negotiations all along," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who led the push for them.

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