Maryland’s audacious toll road plan could work — if done right

When Gov. Larry Hogan (R) last year proposed a $9 billion blueprint to widen the Beltway, Interstate 270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway by building more than 100 miles of toll lanes — potentially one of the most audacious public-private partnerships in the nation — the project was attacked as politically opportunistic, a boondoggle that would wreck neighborhoods and harm the environment. Nonetheless, Mr. Hogan’s plan has advanced, impelled by one undeniable fact known to hundreds of thousands of daily commuters who crawl along those roadways day after soul-crushing day: Suburban traffic long ago outstripped highway capacity. (Wash. Post)

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David Wilson: We're open for billions

Johns Hopkins University was in the news recently as the result of a $1.8-billion gift from one of its alumni, Michael Bloomberg. When I read about the gift, I immediately emailed my friend, Hopkins President Ron Daniels, and joked that perhaps Mr. Bloomberg should have invested at least $100 million of that in Morgan State University. (Balt. Sun)

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After a mixed first year, we remain confident Buckley can deliver for Annapolis

Mayor Gavin Buckley has done some good things in his first year and some not so good. He has to do better if he wants to deliver the change he campaigned on a year ago. But we remain confident that he can deliver. Here’s why. The Democrat provided much-needed community leadership after the June 28 shooting that killed five members of the Capital Gazette staff. He rallied wider Annapolis around the survivors and this news organization, which was beneficial not just for the survivors but also for the community. We are grateful and we suspect many others are as well. More importantly, it was the kind of leadership needed for Annapolis. (Capital)

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Let's be careful about stigmatizing the homeless after stabbing death of Harford woman

It would be easy to turn our backs. To ignore the cardboard signs pleading for assistance, keep our windows tightly closed and lock the doors, and our hearts. To stare ahead as if we don’t see those less fortunate than us on the street corners. This is doubtless even more the case after Jacquelyn Smith of Harford County was killed after giving money to a woman in East Baltimore who held a sign asking for help for her baby. A man appeared shortly afterward and tried to grab the 54-year-old’s wallet. Police said he stabbed her after a struggle. The suspects are still at large. The incident has understandably sparked outrage. (Balt. Sun)

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LGBTQ executive order threatens legality of Baltimore's minority set aside program

An executive order signed by Mayor Catherine Pugh that opens up the city’s minority set-aside program to enterprises owned by those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer was celebrated by LGBTQ advocates, who said it would open the door to millions of dollars in potential business and lead to the creation of new jobs. We certainly applaud the intent. But the way it was done could put the whole minority business program in jeopardy. Such programs are meant to ensure minority and women-owned companies get a fair share of city business, but municipalities have to conduct disparity studies to prove groups are being discriminated against before they can legally create them. (Balt. Sun)

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Ellen Moyer: Annapolis Mayor Buckley still learning the nature of public service

Mayor Gavin Buckley’s assessment of his first year in office was an interesting puff piece (The Capital, Dec. 4). The mayor did run into some hurdles which could have been avoided with a bit more understanding of the nature of public service. The mayor has charm and a good sense of humor that has carried him forward on any number of endeavors throughout his life. He is an entrepreneur whose basic modus operandi is to pursue an idea and “get it done.” Public service is a bit different, to get it done requires collaboration and cooperation and thinking together on the how of things, listening to a variety of others with a variety of experiences in governing. (Capital)

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Jimmy DeButts: Steuart Pittman must deliver greater transparency to Anne Arundel government

The honeymoon’s over, Steuart Pittman. Budget season is rapidly approaching. Time to shake off the backslaps and get down to business. Pittman has hundreds of decisions to make as he finds his footing as Anne Arundel County’s 10th executive. He’ll make personnel changes and realign the county’s budgeting priorities. As he prepares to deliver his blueprint for county spending in fiscal year 2020 — which likely will top $1.6 billion — Pittman should make transparency his top priority. His first two initiatives should be implementing an easy-to-navigate online system that allows residents to review all actions related to development and spending. (Capital)

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Brian Griffiths: Hogan's redistricting commission could force Democrats' hand

Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan threw down the gauntlet on redistricting. To support a federal court decision that Maryland’s congressional districts violated the First Amendment rights of Maryland voters, Hogan announced that he was appointing a nine-member, non-partisan redistricting commission to redraw the unconstitutional districts. The commission will bring together three Democrats, three Republicans, and three unaffiliated voters. For the first time, redistricting will need a true multipartisan consensus. This is absolutely the right thing to do. (Capital)

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