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

Monday, August 27, 2007

20070827 News Clips

News Clips

August 27, 2007


Triathlon organizers win use of county roads
Group will pay an undisclosed fee for an increased police presence Sept. 9,0,2390475.story
Organizers of Annapolis' first triathlon, who first struggled to win over some angry downtown merchants, have climbed over another obstacle: the possibility of the race being kept off county-owned roads. The Annapolis Triathlon Club last week agreed to pay Anne Arundel County an unspecified fee for a beefed-up police presence during the Sept. 9 event, which is expected to draw 1,500 athletes and thousands more spectators to the city.
Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, a vocal proponent of the event, said s he had asked state Sen. John C. Astle and Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch, who both live in Annapolis, to intervene in last week's controversy to ensure it would go on as planned. She said that the city can and should work to accommodate such events that draw attention to the historic city.

Ulman hopes state funding cuts will be 'reasonable',0,2234346.story
With General Assembly leaders talking about local governments sharing the pain of the state's $1.5 billion projected revenue shortfall next fiscal year, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman knows his next budget could take a big hit -- up to $40 million -- despite Gov. Martin O'Malley's promise to keep local governments in the clear.
The final decisio ns won't come until next year's General Assembly session is nearing an end in the spring, but Ulman is saying he is not likely to raise county property taxes to compensate for any state cuts.
"If anyone thinks we can easily raise revenue, they're mistaken," he said. "We're at our maximum on the piggyback [income tax]. Raising the property tax is not something I would consider lightly. People need to be prepared that these are cuts that will not be backfilled with local taxes." But County Councilman Greg Fox, a western county Republican, is not buying Ulman's argument."We knew that the state was looking at us as being part of the solution, and we shouldn't have been spending and spending as if we weren't going to be part of it," Fox said.

Craig backs camera plan
County executive supports putting surveillance tool on Edgewood streets,0,3502240.story
A crime-fighting tool that has paid dividends when put to use in Baltimore and Aberdeen now is the focus of Harford County officials looking to turn back the tide of crime in Edgewood. The use of surveillance cameras, the topic of frequent discussion in the community in recent weeks, took an important step forward last week when County Executive David R. Craig offered his support for the plan."This won't happen overnight, but I have asked the sheriff to look into the cameras," Craig said Friday.In Aberdeen, two surveillance cameras have been mounted in the town's higher-crime areas. The cameras rotate 360 degrees and are monitored from the city's police station. Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly said prosecutors have used footage from the cameras i n a drug case. "Because of that film, we had enough to get a conviction," Cassilly said. "So it just seemed like an idea that should be explored for Edgewood."

Craig unveils plan for new school,0,5851205.story
An open house at the county's first new high school in 27 years gave County Executive David R. Craig the chance to announce more school construction. As he was about to tour the $70 million Patterson Mill complex Friday, Craig heralded the $1.4 million purchase of 23 acres in Churchville for another elementary school. Harford County will have 34 elementary schools when the two new schools open in 2011 and relieve crowding in the Bel Air area. Although the new schools have long b een needed, the county has been stymied in its efforts to find affordable land.

Lawmaker wants to remove Md. assets from Iran, North Korea, Syria
State retirement and pension assets would be removed from companies doing business in Iran, Syria and North Korea, under a bill an Anne Arundel County lawmaker plans to bring back for the General Assembly's next session.
Delegate Ron George, a Republican, said lawmakers have a responsibility to divest about $1.7 billion Maryland has in those countries to make sure the money is not helping nations that the federal government has designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

O'Malley faces tough choices Taxes , transportation, slots are challenges
Tax bills will be going up while spending goes down, slots at destination locations near Maryland's borders could become an issue, and nobody should expect a new span for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as long as Gov. Martin O'Malley is in the State House.Leading the state is a much different task than taking over Baltimore, the governor said, especially since the city was going "code blue" and Maryland is strong. Mr. O'Malley - who has a fiery reputation - said the State House has to have a more patient leader to forge compromises. The governor has taken heat from Republicans and Democrats alike for not trying to solve the budget deficit last session, but Mr. O'Malley saw the 90 days of the General Assembly session and the months afterwards as a time to build partnerships. Maryland doesn't have to overcome the "culture of failure" that pervaded in Baltimore, but the challenges ahead will need to be solved by a united front, he said.

Leggett's Strategy On Slots: Hushed
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has been quietly urging local lawmakers to take a low profile in the statewide debate over slot machine gambling even though polls have shown repeatedly that county residents are the state's most ardent opponents.Leggett's decision to lower the decibel level on slots marks a new approach for Montgomery Democrats in a debate that for years has divided state political leaders. The payback, Leggett hopes, would be a state budget package that plugs an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall without making Montgomery residents shoulder what county leaders say would be a disproportionate share of the costs.

Rail Projects at the Mercy of U.S. Agency
Federal Guidelines, and Funds, Direct Plans for Dulles, Purple Lines
The key decisions about Maryland's proposed Purple Line -- the route it takes, the type of rail cars it uses, the possibility of tunneling underground -- will be determined not by public opinion or political pressure.
Rather, a single agency that controls the limited federal money set aside for transit projects will shape the rail or bus line that could eventually link Bethesda and New Carrollton.
The Federal Transit Administration, which helped sink plans for a tunnel through Tysons Corner and is demanding further cost accounting for the proposed Metro line through Dulles International Airport, will likewise dictate what any new transit line through suburban Maryland would look like and when -- or whether -- there will be money to build it.
"It's the driving force behind the planning process," Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said of the competition for federal money. "You can have the best conceived transit project in the world, and it's not going forward if it doesn't qualify for federal funding."


Keeping up,0,585401.story
Since 1971, Maryland has financed its road and transit projects thro ugh a self-sustaining account known as the Transportation Trust Fund. It's proved a highly successful formula. A variety of user fees including the state gas tax, vehicle titling tax, registration fees and the like have fueled billions of dollars of investment in needed infrastructure. But the system is in danger of breaking down. Various alternatives to replenishing the trust fund - from raising the vehicle titling tax (particularly for gas guzzlers) and increasing the trust fund's share of the state tax on corporate profits, to applying the state sales tax to transportation-related transactions like car repairs - deserve serious consideration. But indexing the gas tax - arguably the fairest of all the highway user fees, because those who drive the most also pay the most - ought to be the starting point for next year's debate.

Under new schools CEO, reason for optimism amid the challenges,0,5381120.story
I'm excited about the new school year in Baltimore, which starts today. And I'm not alone. The appointment of Andres Alonso as CEO has generated hopeful anticipation. One thing's for sure: Under his leadership, city school bells will be chiming a different tune. National as well as local eyes will be on us. He represents a new breed of urban school superintendent, one with potential to bridge traditional and nontraditional schools of thought about what it takes to be a successful superintendent. There's a fighting chance. Mr. Alonso chose to come to Baltimore because he felt the circumstances were ripe: the manageable scale of our city's school population compared with larger cities; the shared vision with the school board; the relative stability of local and state politics; and the school s ystem's foundation of progress in recent years.

Get politics, therapy out of classrooms,0,1907705.story
Last week I went shopping in our small rural hometown, where my family has attended the same public schools since 1896. Without exception, all six generations of us - whether farmers, housewives, day laborers, businesspeople, writers, lawyers or educators - were given a good, competitive K-12 education. But after a haircut, I noticed that the 20-something cashier could not count out change. The next day, at the electronics outlet store, another young clerk could not read - much less explain - the basic English of the buyer's warranty. At the food market, I listened as a young couple argued over the price of a cut of tri-tip, unable to calculat e the meat's real value from its price per pound.
As another school year is set to get under way, it's worth pondering where this epidemic of ignorance came from.
Our presidential candidates sense the danger of this dumbing down of American society and are arguing over the dismal status of contemporary education: poor graduation rates, weak test scores and suspect literacy among the general population. Politicians warn that America's edge in global research and productivity will disappear, and with it our high standard of living.

Leopold stands up for the law
Law-abiding businesses with Anne Arundel County contracts have nothing to fear from a new local government rule. County Executive John R. Leopold, a Republica n, recently signed an executive order requiring all firms with county contracts to certify no illegal immigrants work for them. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay contractors who break the law?
Unlike Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who earlier this month "forgot" to file tax forms for his housekeeper until days after firing her for being an illegal immigrant, Leopold showed symbolic courage in signing the executive order. Just because everybody else may be ignoring the law does not make it right nor good policy. County executives across the state should reaffirm their local government's commitment to its own laws by issuing similar orders. If it's OK to flout one law, it's a slippery slope to governments choosing to enforce only those laws they find palatable.

Budget to deflect O'Malley's key issues
Maryland's budget problems are likely to push aside many of the special interests that dominated Gov. Martin O'Malley's first General Assembly session. "There's a buffet of issues to keep the voter and the taxpayer angry," said Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, Frederick Republican. "I think the trick will be to see how the legislature and the governor fill their plates and hope to be rewarded in 2010. There will be a lot of bitter food." Mr. Brinkley said it would help to hold a special session to close the deficit before the next session, which convenes in January. But he expressed little optimism that House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat; Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's Democrat; and Mr. O'Malley, also a Democrat, will agree on a solution before the next session.


Gilchrest swings by Lower Shore
Stops on the congressman's agenda today include Crisfield dock, Salisbury fundraiser
U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-1-Md., plans a firsthand look at a Crisfield dock in need of a complete overhaul today during stops in all three Lower Shore counties. He will tour the 97-foot dock at the end of Broad Street with Somerset County officials at 3 p.m., between visits to Ocean City and Salisbury. Several months ago, Somerset County officials turned to lawmakers in Washington for funding help after learning it will cost $450,000 to repair the dock. Gilchrest has written $150,000 of federal transportation funds into the House-vers ion of the Appropriations Bill, which has been approved. The bill, however, has not been approved by the Senate, and the congressman will have to ensure the money is not cut, said Tony Caligiuri, Gilchrest's chief of staff.

Poultry farmers fall under plan for terror watch
Poultry growers are protesting proposed Department of Homeland Security regulations that would label propane gas a "chemical of interest" and require anybody with 7,500 pounds or more of the fuel to register with the agency. At that amount, poultry farmers who use propane to heat chicken houses would have to fill out the forms. British police last month thwarted a terrorist plot in which two vehicles were loaded with nails packed around canisters of propane and gasoline, then set to deto nate. In Iraq, the military has seen propane tanks used in homemade bombs. Still, U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrats, and Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Delaware Democrat, wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking that the rule be shelved.
"Given the serious threats that are currently facing our country and the limited resources of the Department of Homeland Security, please explain why this initiative is a good use of federal dollars," the senators wrote earlier this month.

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