Delay in voting on city attorney not a good sign

After Timothy Murnane’s high-profile role in Mike Pantelides’ mayoral campaign, a lot of onlookers assumed Pantelides would designate the Annapolis lawyer as city attorney. A trial lawyer in this area for more than 30 years, a former public defender and candidate for state’s attorney, Murnane is also a family friend who worked with Pantelides’ father in an election campaign in the 1980s, and was prominent among the attorneys who showed up at the old city recreation center after the election to monitor the counting of absentee and disputed ballots on Pantelides’ behalf. Really, it would have been a surprise if the new mayor had tapped anyone else for the job. The only surprise was on Monday, when the City Council almost unanimously — with only Pantelides himself voting against — decided to postpone consideration of Murnane’s appointment until Jan. 13. (Capital)

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Dec. 18 // Decision time for Md.'s health exchange

Since Gov. Martin O'Malley declared that the state's health insurance exchange website was functional for most users, anecdotal reports have been mixed. Some people report continued problems with frozen screens and other glitches that have bedeviled the site; others say they were finally able to enroll with relative ease. The preliminary numbers of new enrollments, though, suggest some genuine improvement. Monday saw about 1,100 enrollments, nearly 50 percent more than the site's best day before the fixes went into place. (Balt. Sun)

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Annapolis pay raises

Four years ago, at the height of the nation’s economic struggles, the Maryland General Assembly nixed a potential pay raise recommended for itself by a governor-appointed pay compensation commission. A second commission recommended pay increases for the governor and other high state officials — also rejected. Despite none of these officials or legislators having had a pay raise since 2006, we believe they should again say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” While the state’s economy has improved in the last few years, things are still a bit tenuous, and many Marylanders either remain out of work or underemployed. (News-Post)

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General Assembly should remove jailed legislators

We took note when House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch and House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, meeting last week with the Capital Gazette Communications editorial board, both voiced support for a view we share: Legislators who are incarcerated should be removed from office. (Capital)

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Defeating truancy

The best educational methods and curricula don’t accomplish much if students don’t come to class. Montgomery County is taking a personal, restorative approach in trying to combat “habitual truancy,” which is defined as missing 18 days in a semester or 36 days in a school year. (Gazette)

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Rick Hutzell: Busch and Kipke are something new

Watching Mike Busch and Nic Kipke banter, you wouldn’t confuse Maryland’s speaker of the House of Delegates and the House minority leader for friends. But you might consider them, well, friendly. “I moved from the back row to the front row so I can keep an eye on this guy,” Kipke said, nodding — we didn’t planned it this way — to his left. (Capital)

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Meredith Slater: Teaching the hungry to help themselves

Food insecurity has become a major issue in the United States. More families than ever before are depending on government assistance and other nutritional aid to supplement their diets. And the problem is only going to get worse as Congress considers billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. Food prices have risen in the past couple of years due to droughts in the United States and other countries. (Balt. Sun)

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Don Herring: A note to AARP

Darn you, AARP! I had learned to live comfortably within my means — but then I began reading your December AARP Bulletin. It was disturbing. There it was — on Page 26 — in a typographically attractive box headlined “Living on Less.” “Income drops dramatically after age 65,” it read. Tell me about it. What followed was a listing of 2012 median household incomes for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The figures were divided between people 45 to 64 years old and people 65 and over. (Star Dem.)

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