Holding the budget line in Montgomery County

In the first decade of this century, salaries for most public employees in Montgomery County nearly doubled, rising at almost triple the rate of inflation. That profligacy sent spending soaring and set the stage for brutal retrenchment when the recession hit. Contrite county officials, forced to roll back over-the-top benefits granted to powerful public-employee unions, said they had learned a lesson. Montgomery has an excellent workforce that deserves to be well compensated. At the same time, as recent history demonstrates, it needs to tread carefully to make sure it can meet its commitments. That goes for the salaries of elected officials, too. (Wash. Post)

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Checkmate?

We didn’t need to peer into a crystal ball to see this coming. Even we thought state officials would never cash the $200,000 check that Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young waived in front of the state Board of Public Works last month in a futile attempt to settle a previous state grant payment. Young was hoping that state officials would gladly take the check so commissioners could move forward on their plans to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living center to a private health management company by December. (News-Post)

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Rick Hutzell: A chanty for Tuesday's sea change

Next week, police officers across Maryland will sharpen their pencils as they ready to pull you over if they see you talking on a cellphone while driving without a hands-free device. For a few more days, it’s an annoyance and a danger to others. On Tuesday, it’s worth a ticket. (Capital)

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Anne Arundel should settle remaining Leopold lawsuits

The amount of money was trifling, but Anne Arundel County taxpayers should feel they got a bargain when county attorneys agreed to pay $110,000 to settle the lawsuit by Karla Hamner. It’s not because the former spokeswoman for John R. Leopold had a slam dunk case in her three-year-old wrongful termination dispute. Proving you were fired unfairly is a notoriously difficult legal challenge. (Capital)

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Maryland's 2014 race for governor launches in earnest

Now there are three. On Tuesday, the second of the two presumptive front runners for the 2014 Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nomination declared his candidacy. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is now an official candidate. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced four months ago his entry into his party’s primary to be held next June. A third Democratic candidate, Del. Heather R. Mizeur, who hails from Montgomery County as does Gansler and is widely perceived as a prohibitive long shot, rounds out the current field. (Capital)

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Dan Rodricks: O'Malley tries to rehab his crime-fighting legacy

Given what he said recently about solving Baltimore's crime problem, one imagines Martin O'Malley charging into the dressing room of a police district station, flipping the poker table upside down and yelling, "Get off your butts, you guys, and go arrest everybody!" Except, instead of "butts," he'd probably use that other word he used in 2001 when, as the cocky first-term mayor of Charm City, O'Malley famously trash-talked Pat Jessamy for not prosecuting a case our then-state's attorney considered a loser. (Balt. Sun)

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Tim Rowland: Hagerstown's fixed-income problem

The new guard of Hagerstown’s Alexander House rolled into town last week sounding much like a divorce attorney: You know he’s on your side, but he isn’t necessarily delivering good news. The Alexander House might be the most invisible high-rise in America, partly because its commercial citizenship is so irrelevant and partly because no one wants to look. Some years ago, city Councilwoman Penny Nigh put her finger on a central problem of the downtown: too much subsidized housing. The community gasped at what some took to be a swipe against minorities, the elderly and the poor, and it played a part in her defeat at the polls prior to her recent comeback. But at the risk of offending minorities, the elderly and the poor, she was, and is, right. (Herald-Mail)

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It's time for action — but let's agree on the goal

It's time for action — but let's agree on the goal Enough of the noble intentions. Enough of the friendly beach parties. And enough politics, politics, politics. Thirty years after the launch of “Save the Bay” efforts, we’re ready for results. (Capital)

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