Gutwald report will resonate beyond Eastport

Was that Spa Creek or the Rubicon Pete Gutwald crossed Friday? The Annapolis planning director certainly pushed the city beyond indecision on the redevelopment of the Eastport Shopping Center with his report on density limits for the project. After the city attorney not very helpfully found that any of the alternatives suggested for the property could be supported by the city rules, as currently written, Gutwald determined that The Lofts at Eastport Landing can have 61 units at most. That's less than half the 127 units proposed by Baltimore-based Solstice Partners, perhaps fatally wounding the project as a business proposition. (Capital)

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Barry Rascovar: Hogan and legislature in constitutional clash

On the surface, it seems much ado about nothing – an esoteric argument most folks can safely ignore. But the dispute over whether two state Cabinet appointees can legally remain in office without Senate confirmation raises an important constitutional question that cries out for judicial resolution. Gov. Larry Hogan precipitated this divide with some unorthodox moves that appear aimed at stripping power from the General Assembly and enlarging his ability to ignore actions of the state legislature when it comes to appointments subject to Senate confirmation. (Md. Reporter)

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A partisan brawl in Maryland

A scuffle in Maryland over Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s appointments to Cabinet-level positions, and the Democrat-dominated legislature’s ability to block them, has escalated into a partisan brawl. The governor is convinced, with reason, that Democrats are intent on embarrassing him ahead of next year’s gubernatorial elections. As presidents have also done, Mr. Hogan has made recess appointments to skirt legislative obstruction, insisting on his prerogative to fill Cabinet vacancies. In this particular fight, the lawmakers appear to hold a trump card — namely, their ability to block payment of the contested appointees’ salaries. That may seem underhanded; it also appears to be legal. (Wash. Post)

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Fine line between firebrand and gadfly

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis this week called “outrageous” City Councilman Ryan Dorsey’s sharp criticism of his officers, and we are inclined to agree. On a recent Facebook posting concerning a City Paper article reporting on current negotiations between the city and the police union, the councilman described city police who live outside Baltimore as a “siphon” of tax dollars and then suggested officers “beat, abuse, and kill the people who actually live here.” That’s the kind of hyperbole one finds in abundance in such forums, but it’s beneath the dignity of someone in elected office whose job includes supervising city workers, police officers being part of that mix. (Balt. Sun)

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Andrew L. Ross: Measure schools by the well-being of their individual kids

I was taken aback to learn that the Maryland State Department of Education was planning to judge the quality of a school by its academic performance, attendance rate and parent surveys and that this would set the direction for judging our schools for the next 10 to 15 years. Over the past 60 years, we all have witnessed a fundamental shift in the nuclear family in American society. (Balt. Sun)

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Politics seeping into cardiac care decision

Anne Arundel Medical Center's long-delayed application for a new cardiac surgery program is tied up in court, to the dismay of local heart patients who don't want to travel out of the county for these delicate procedures. But having failed to persuade the Maryland Health Care Commission that the new program would harm their own services, Baltimore Washington Medical Center and Dimensions Healthcare Systems have the right to try their luck with a judge. The process, however, is not supposed to get the politicians involved — let alone conscript the AAMC application for a supporting role in a constitutional confrontation. (Capital)

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Joel M. Cockrell: Montgomery County’s expensive private attorneys

Montgomery County accumulated excessive legal bills to pursue a lawsuit against the designers and builders of the long-delayed Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center in Silver Spring. When all these payments are added together, Montgomery County, in a case that never went to trial, will have paid more than $18 million and will have received a settlement only $6.7 million higher. Indeed, not all invoices have been tallied, so the county’s cost will be even higher. (Wash. Post)

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Hager's shoes will be tough to fill

The Board of County Commissioners has a tall task ahead of it in replacing Phil Hager, who not only served as Carroll's chief of planning, but also as its legislative liaison to Annapolis. Hager is leaving Carroll County Government for a job with Anne Arundel County as its Planning and Zoning Officer. His last day in Carroll is July 28. Finding a single person with Hager's unique skill set to do those two jobs would be difficult, and one of the challenges of trying to balance the commissioners' fiscal conservatism with the need to put the right people in the right position to succeed. (Carr. Co. Times)

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