Politics

  • Dec. 19 // O'Malley increases pardons, but remains stingy overall

    Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has rarely exercised his power to grant clemency to convicted criminals over his two terms, even as many gubernatorial counterparts have been more lenient amid a changing attitude toward these acts of mercy. The Democratic governor has rejected nearly 1,300 cases that have come across his desk. Even after the General Assembly passed legislation intended to prod him to make a decision on requests for certain commutations, he has granted only 133 pardons over the past three years, according to a review of public records by The Baltimore Sun. In his first five years, he granted 13. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • O'Malley aide Abgail Hopper tapped to run federal offshore energy bureau

    The chief of Maryland's Energy Administration, Abigail Ross Hopper, landed a new job Thursday, running the federal agency that oversees development of offshore oil and gas and wind energy. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Hopper's selection as director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, effective Jan. 5.  She will become the bureau's second official chief, taking over from acting director Walter Cruickshank. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

  • Gardner: Young's relationship exposes flawed ethics laws

    Debate over changing local ethics law could reach new intensity following Blaine Young's recent acknowledgment that he was involved in an 18-month relationship with a county employee during his time in office. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Council President Bud Otis agreed Thursday that the revelation exposes weaknesses in the ethics ordinance, namely that it does not prohibit liaisons between elected officials and staff. (News-Post) Read Full Article

  • Rawlings-Blake backs State Center redevelopment

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promised to try to find a way to redevelop the State Center site no matter what happens with a longstanding plan that's been called into doubt. She's even talked about its future with Governor-elect Larry Hogan. "I've discussed the imperative that something move forward there," Rawlings-Blake said. "It's too large of a site." (Balt. Bus. Journal) Read Full Article

Center Maryland

  • Josh Kurtz – The Progressive Shift of the Legislature

    Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz talks about what the November election means for changes to the House of Delegates – significant turnover, but much of the top Democratic leadership remains the same.Watch Full Video

  • Kathleen Dumais: A Response to Kurtz’s Cold New Reality for Montgomery County

    I was incredibly disappointed with the inclusion of incorrect information in the opinion piece posted by Josh Kurtz on December 15, “Cold New Reality for Montgomery County,” as well as his blatant failure to check facts before continuing the tired criticism of the Montgomery County Delegation and other Montgomery County elected officials. Did he even attempt to ask how the schedule for the three-day bus tour for the incoming new members of the legislature was developed and whether or not anyone in Montgomery County had any control over the schedule or the selection of sites to visit? Read Full Article

  • Laslo Boyd: Goodbye Stephen

    This is a sad day for Stephen Colbert’s countless fans. Tonight’s edition of the Colbert Report will be the last one. Sometime next year, he will start his new gig on the Late Show, replacing David Letterman. While the new venue will undoubtedly provide Colbert with the opportunity to develop new comedic riffs, it just won’t be the same. Along with the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, Colbert has brought the venerable art form of political satire into the 21st century. It takes nothing away from Will Rogers, Thomas Nast or even Garry Trudeau to observe that Colbert and Stewart are today’s “Gold Standard” of how to skewer politicians and oversized-ego celebrities (Is that redundant?). Read Full Article

  • Sarah Hemminger and Rodney Foxworth – Thread (Part 2)

    Sarah Hemminger, founder of Thread, and Rodney Foxworth, a Thread board member, continue their conversation with Center Maryland about the Baltimore City nonprofit, which helps underperforming students achieve academic and personal growth through a close-knit family of volunteers. Sarah also discusses the convergence of events that inspired her to establish the nonprofit in 2004.Watch Full Video

Business

  • Proposal for Uber sedan, SUV services in Maryland raises questions

    State regulators, a state consumer advocate and a major competitor of the popular ride-sharing company Uber Technologies joined together Friday to question a proposed settlement that would allow Uber to legally operate sedan and SUV services in Maryland. During a three-hour Maryland Public Service Commission hearing, Commissioner Lawrence Brenner asked why the state should enter into an agreement with Uber to bring its UberBlack and UberSUV services into regulatory compliance when the company continues to defy regulations with other services, including UberX, the company's low-cost service. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Dec. 19 // Howard Hughes acquires six downtown Columbia office buildings

    Downtown Columbia redeveloper and principal land owner Howard Hughes Corp. has acquired six downtown office buildings from Mall in Columbia owner General Growth Properties, a move that solidifies the developer’s hold on Town Center’s grand mixed-use redevelopment. The six buildings are valued at $130 million and total 700,000 square feet of Class A office space; they were acquired from Mall in Columbia owner General Growth Properties, which created Howard Hughes through a 2010 spin off during GGP’s bankruptcy filings. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Baltimore wants downtown parking lots developed

    Downtown surface parking lots — once reminders of failed urban revitalization — are drawing renewed interest as development sites. In the last year, plans for two major developments on surface parking lots in downtown Baltimore were announced and development officials and city leaders want to see that trend continue in the coming year. Earlier this month, plans to build a hotel at 300 E. Pratt St. — a parking lot since the demolition site of the old News American newspaper building — were presented to a city design panel. This spring, developer Questar announced intentions to build a 44-story apartment tower at 414 Light St. on a parking lot where a McCormick & Co. factory once stood. (Daily Record)Read Full Article

  • NHL goes green with Constellation Energy

    Constellation Energy is entering a partnership with the National Hockey League that will promote the company's brand while it works with the league on minimizing the NHL's environmental impact. Constellation has sponsorship deals with the Ravens and Orioles, among other professional clubs, but this is its first league-wide deal. Financial terms were not disclosed. Under the deal, Baltimore-based Constellation will conduct energy efficiency analyses, recommend energy management strategies at NHL venues, and support development of renewable energy sources. The savings are intended to offset the league's carbon footprint of 550,000 metric tons during the 2014-15 season. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

Education

  • Dec. 19 // Towson University president resigns, citing health reasons

    Towson University President Maravene Loeschke announced her resignation Thursday, saying her health left her unable to "give Towson the 100 percent of my attention that it deserves." Loeschke, who became Towson's president in January 2012, had been on leave from Towson since August because of health and personal issues. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Caret described as transformative, assertive leader

    When Robert Caret was president of San Jose State University, he was credited with reinvigorating an urban campus mired in racial and community tension, and pushed the Silicon Valley college to embrace the Internet. In the same role at Towson University, he oversaw an explosion of growth and positioned the college as an alternative to the state's flagship university in College Park. Caret, now head of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, was tapped this week to lead the University System of Maryland. As the successor to Chancellor William E. Kirwan, he'll help set the agenda for 12 of Maryland's public institutions, including Towson, University of Maryland, College Park, Coppin State University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Why kindergarten teachers don’t want to give this test to their students

    The state of Maryland has developed a new Common Core-aligned “kindergarten readiness assessment” for teachers to administer to young kids to see, rather obviously, if they are “ready” for kindergarten. Now hundreds of kindergarten teachers who used the computer-based test for the first time this fall are pushing back, saying the assessment is not appropriate and won’t help them teach. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article

  • Harford teachers union survey irks school board, superintendent

    A survey of teachers done by the county teachers union's leader has raised the ire of Harford County Board of Education members and Superintendent Barbara Canavan. Ryan Burbey, president of the Harford County Education Association, presented a poll completed by 641 union members which he said showed many of them feel unvalued and disrespected by the school system. The school system employs about 3,000 teachers. School board members, however, called the survey scientifically questionable, and Canavan said it may have damaged relationships within the school system. (Aegis) Read Full Article

Around Maryland

  • Little change seen in MD from coal ash disposal rules

    Disposal of contaminant-laced ash from coal-burning power plants appears unlikely to change much in Maryland under long-awaited new federal regulations announced Friday, a state environmental regulator said. Horacio Tablada, land management director for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said that coal-ash rules unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency after years of study largely track restrictions the state adopted in 2008. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Commission: General Assembly should abolish ‘inherently unfair’ bail system

    A Maryland commission on pretrial reform Friday called on the state to stop requiring people to post bond after arrest as a condition of being released from custody before trial. The Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System called the state’s bail system inherently unfair. Low-income defendants are too often held in custody pending trial due to their inability to pay, while wealthier defendants are released because they can foot the bill, the commission stated. (Daily Record) Read Full Article

  • Washington County won't pay for state lobbyist, but city will

    The Washington County Community Lobbying Coalition this week selected Manis Canning and Associates as the firm to advocate and promote important local issues during the upcoming 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. But the effort will be without funding support from the Washington County Board of Commissioners, which voted down a contribution of $10,000 to the coalition by a 3-2 vote on Tuesday. (Herald-Mail) Read Full Article

  • Michael Phelps gets no jail time after entering guilty plea in DUI case

    With promises to continue treatment for alcohol abuse and to help others avoid his mistakes, Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Baltimore District Court on Friday and came away with a one-year suspended sentence and 18 months of supervised probation. In a result experts predicted, the Olympic swimming great avoided jail time despite the fact his Sept. 30 arrest for drunken driving was his second. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

Commentary

  • Dec. 19 // Welcome back, Caret

    In selecting University of Massachusetts System President Robert Caret as its next chancellor, the University System of Maryland has kept up a tradition of leadership by those with deep ties to the state and its higher education traditions. Mr. Caret spent 29 years as a professor, dean, executive vice president and provost at Towson university before eventually becoming its president, spending just 11 years of his career outside of Maryland — three in his current job and eight as president of San Jose State University in California. That's a resume much like that of the man he's replacing, William E. "Brit" Kirwan. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Donald C. Fry: Transit must connect workers, jobs

    New research on Baltimore-area mobility starkly frames compelling transit challenges facing the Greater Baltimore region. Data-driven maps produced for the Opportunity Collaborative, a sustainable development coalition of government agencies and nonprofits that includes the Greater Baltimore Committee, detail cumbersome transit travel times for most city and county neighborhoods inside the beltway to key emerging industry centers where new jobs are being created. (Daily Record) Read Full Article

  • Weekend MARC service

    The Maryland Transit Administration recently announced that a bike car is now available on select weekend MARC trains. The new service began last Saturday. That’s a great idea, because it will permit MARC users to take their bikes along with them for use at their destination. Collapsible/foldable ones are already permitted. Of course, this new feature will be available only on MARC’s Penn Line trains, since the Camden Line and the Brunswick Line, which serves Frederick, don’t run weekend trains. (News-Post)Read Full Article

  • Nikki Highsmith Vernick: A compromise on Howard County nutritional standards?

    Lost in the noise of the debate over Howard County Government's nutritional standards regarding sugary drinks are a few key questions. First, when, if at all, should government act in response to growing evidence linking certain behaviors to premature mortality and increased health care costs? And second, if providing only healthy options on government property goes "too far," are there interim measures beyond just education that can help address growing public health threats? These are difficult questions to answer, but we've tackled similar ones before. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article