Friday Links: Prostitution Ring Sting, $7 Renoir Was Stolen from BMA, Angelos Gives Big to the Democrats

0 Written by: | Friday, Sep 28, 2012 6:14am


Prostitution Sting in Jessup Nets 23 Arrests – The Baltimore Sun

Flea Market Renoir Stolen from the BMA – The Washington Post

Scott Plank Retires from Under Armour to Start Real Estate Firm – The Baltimore Business Journal

Buyer of Michael Phelps Condo Revealed to Be Constellation Exec – The Baltimore Business Journal

Angelos Gives Large Sums to Democratic Causes – The Baltimore Sun

Republicans Intensify Drive to Win Over Jewish Voters – The New York Times

Money & Power

Maryland’s Budget Problem, Beyond the Talking Points

0 Written by: | Wednesday, May 02, 2012 8:02am

If you’ve been following Maryland’s budget issue, you’ll know that Democrats are warning of a budget plan with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to things like education, law enforcement, libraries,  and state employees that is set to take effect unless the General Assembly passes a tax package in a special session, while Republicans argue that the so called “doomsday budget” actual represents a spending increase of $700 million.

At least one of them is lying, right? Or else maliciously distorting the truth. I mean, we’re talking about some pretty contradictory arithmetic, here. And with little to no explanation beyond these simple claims, what we get is not so much an argument as a partisan shouting match.

Now, I’ve got at least one thing in common with Mike Daisey, Glenn Beck, Crystal Cox, and this other guy: I’m not a journalist. So it was with great indignation as a citizen-blogger being forced to actually contact someone for a comment that I wrote to the Maryland Department of Budget and Management and asked them how Democrats could see hundreds of millions in cuts where Republicans see hundreds of millions in additional spending. Read More →

Money & Power

Republicans, Democrats Disagree about State Budget

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 8:57am

After Maryland’s general assembly failed to pass a tax package that would balance the budget and defaulted to a “doomsday” budget with heavy cuts to education, Gov. Martin O’Malley has been meeting with Senate and House leaders to work out the terms of a special session to special to address the budget problem, among other things.

But Maryland Republicans don’t see a need for a special session at all. As far as they’re concerned, the “doomsday” budget is overhyped. In the words of Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell, “We can live with this budget for a year.” Okay. So will he be ready to raise taxes next year?

Keeping everything as is, Maryland counties will find themselves in a bind, as they state has required they spend a prescribed amount on education while at the same time cutting aid — producing the type of financial inflexibility that government credit rating agency Moody’s says would be a “credit negative” for Maryland’s county governments.

By the way, a special session would cost tax payers somewhere around $20,000 a day. Let’s make it count, guys!


Tuesday Links: Baltimore Considers What to Do with Its Landmarks, Local Internet Puppet Show Makes Full-length Pilot, Taxes, and More

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 7:58am

Baltimore mulls selling, redeveloping 15 landmarks – Baltimore Business Journal
Web show creators unleash the ‘Beast’ – Baltimore Sun
House panel would raise taxes– but less than Senate – Baltimore Sun
16 Fascinating Differences Between Democrats And Republicans – Business Insider
Yes, Your New iPad Actually Runs 10 Degrees Hotter Than Your Old One – Business Insider
Pakistani Parliament Demands End to U.S. Drone Strikes – New York Times

Money & Power

Gerrymandering Not Totally a Sure Thing

0 Written by: | Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 9:48am

If only they had made it blacklight-sensitive...

Late last year, Maryland’s already wonky Congressional district map was made positively psychedelic when it was redrawn to choke out one of the two Republicans in Maryland’s portion of the House of Representatives. But according to the Washington Post, not only was the gerrymandered sixth district intended to give a boost to the absolutely not-in-need-of-a-boost Democratic party, it was actually intended to favor one particular Democrat for the previously Republican seat.

Proving that gerrymandering is still more of an art than a science — and that we don’t exactly appoint our representatives — state Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola will not simply wake up one day to find himself in the House of Representatives. He will have to face a real contest after all, and from a fellow Democrat, John Delaney, whose Montgomery County home was deliberately excluded from the new sixth district. Apparently, there is no law requiring candidates to actually live in the district they aim to represent, so Delaney is running anyway, and the race for the Democratic nomination is wide open.

Now, I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but I get some small amount of satisfaction from political gamesmanship not quite panning out. I think if I lived in the sixth district, I wouldn’t vote for either Democratic frontrunner; I would try to write in a vote for no more gerrymandering.

Money & Power

Marital Difficulties

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Mar 06, 2012 1:00pm

Courtesy of Center Maryland – When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964, he knew he was doing the right thing. But he also figured he was inexorably changing the politics of the American South, and that the Democratic Party, once so dominant throughout the region, would suffer the consequences.

He was right.

In the same way, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) felt he was doing the right thing when he signed the DREAM Act into law last year and same-sex marriage just last week — and he was.

But has O’Malley — or any other state Democratic leader — given much thought to what those two new laws, and the upcoming referendum fights over them, are going to do for the party and its most reliable constituency, African-American voters? Could we be witnessing the beginning of the end of what has been, for Maryland Democrats, a beautiful relationship? Are Maryland Republicans in any way equipped to exploit whatever fissures may exist between Democrats and their loyal supporters?

There have been murmurs of marital difficulties between the Democrats and African-American voters for quite a while now. A dozen years ago, Ike Leggett was perhaps the first official to openly warn that Democrats risked losing black voters if party leaders took them for granted and didn’t do more to promote black candidates for higher office.

That warning seemed prophetic when in 2002, the Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, tapped a white Republican to be her running mate, and she became the first Democratic candidate for governor to lose in 36 years. To add insult to injury, the Republicans won with a black candidate for lieutenant governor.

A decade later, not much has changed.

Black and Latino candidates for attorney general were overrun by Doug Gansler in the 2006 Democratic primary. Kweisi Mfume lost the Senate primary that year to Ben Cardin. O’Malley tapped Anthony Brown to be his running mate, but Brown only has the distinction of being the first black Democrat to be elected lieutenant governor.

It is entirely conceivable that had Mfume bothered to raise money six years ago, he’d be sitting in the Senate today, instead of Cardin. The way in which Mfume smoked Cardin in Baltimore city and Prince George’s County was eye-opening. While losing statewide by just 3.2 points, Mfume won the city — where Cardin had been a popular figure for 40 years — by more than 2-1. He won Prince George’s by almost 5-1, an astonishing ratio.

I caught up with Cardin last week and asked him about his Democratic primary challenge from Prince George’s state Sen. Anthony Muse. I prefaced my question by noting that no one thinks Muse can win except possibly for Muse himself. But Cardin cut me off, noting that some other people feel he can win, too.

Read the rest of the story at Center Maryland

Money & Power

Vote… or Don’t. Who Cares?

0 Written by: | Thursday, Nov 03, 2011 12:10am

“Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens aim to make Baltimore’s general election matter.” That was the subtitle to to last week’s City Paper cover story.

If you were excited (as I was) by the headline’s implication that the city’s minority parties had gained enough grassroots support (or were perhaps collaborating — as strange as that would be) to mount a formidable challenge to the Democratic juggernaut, you would have been disappointed by Van Smith’s article, which told a familiar story: though they may have compelling platforms, the Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens account for a pathetically small portion of Baltimore’s voting public and therefore have very little chance of wrestling any power away from Dems.

Of course, Smith’s larger point — that the Democratic party’s long-standing dominance over local politics disenfranchises voters and breeds corruption — is well taken. When you live in a city that refers to the Democratic primary as “election day,” and a state that can effortlessly pass overtly gerrymandered congressional districts despite the protests of Republicans, minorities, and even some fellow Dems, how long does it take before you start demanding an alternative, even if (as is probably the case) you’re a registered Democrat?

Money & Power

Partisan Politics Wins Out Over Conscience for O’Malley’s Gerrymander

0 Written by: | Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 12:01am

Gov. O’Malley’s Congressional redistricting map, plainly gerrymandered to increase the number of Democratic delegates Maryland sends to the House of Representatives from six to seven (decreasing the number of Republicans from two to one), was approved by the Maryland House of Delegates and is off to the Senate this morning where it is expected to be approved without incident.

Despite the well-founded objections of Republicans, principled Democrats, and minority groups (who may also see their voting influence diluted by the swirly map) the plan passed 91 to 46, which means that except for two Democrats who voted “no,” it was a purely partisan vote.

According to an article in The Sun, the implicit argument in favor of O’Malley’s plan is that Republicans will be making similar moves in states where they control the process.

But the idea that Maryland needs to disempower its conservative voters (and minorities along the way) because other states are moving to disempower their liberal voters is absurd. Our governor and House of Delegates should understand that they are in office to serve their constituents (and for O’Malley that includes our state’s Republican voters), not to score points in some national partisan chess game.

Money & Power

These New Congressional Districts Are Trippy, Man

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Oct 11, 2011 12:00am

See that psychedelic rainbow swirl? That’s Maryland’s proposed Congressional redistricting plan. Democrats currently lead Republicans in the state’s share of the House of Representatives 6 – 2. But the situation is just a little too close for comfort for the majority party. (“What if those two Republicans talk to each other? What if they talk about us?”) So just to be on the safe side, they’re trying to convert it to a 7 – 1 lead.

All states have to redraw their congressional districts to reflect populations changes recorded in the 2010 census. Maryland Democrats thought it could be a good opportunity to increase their (apparently delicate) peace of mind.

The official website for the redistricting plan emphasizes that the new map “keeps more than seventy percent of Marylanders in their current Congressional districts,” but seventy percent is deceptively low. Thirty percent is quite a chunk of the population to fool around with.

While we wait to see how this plays out, feel free to vibe out on the groovy colors.

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