Timothy D. Armbruster: Baltimore's three tyrannies

Since coming to Baltimore nearly 35 years ago to work for the Goldseker and, later, Baltimore Community foundations, I have had the good fortune to observe and participate in the city's civic and philanthropic life during a period of profound change in the region's economic and social fortunes. And while the very difficult challenges of poverty, low educational attainment and crime are still very much with us, Baltimore's future seems, to me at least, a lot brighter than it was in I first arrived. Baltimore's ability to face successfully the social and economic challenges of creating a new economy and at the same time offering educational and employment opportunity to everyone who lives here is being constrained, however, by some deeply ingrained ways of thinking. (Balt. Sun)

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O'Malley-Brown's Obamacare debacle

"Time and ultimate success," Gov. Martin O'Malley says, will tell whether the state's approach to the implementation of the state health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) was the right one. Time, and the much greater success of other states, have already told. Maryland's exchange website rollout was a disaster and continues to put the state's residents at a severe disadvantage when it comes to enrolling in health insurance plans. The director of the exchange resigned Friday amid reports that she had taken a seven-day vacation in the middle of the crisis, but she is far from the only one responsible. The General Assembly needs to investigate so we can get real answers about what went wrong and who is at fault. (Balt. Sun)

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Linda Norris-Waldt: Chickens, red herrings, and a $487 bargain basement deal

One of the enduring community values I’ve noticed in my three decades in Frederick County is an appreciation of what it takes to care for the environment. So I think we should all be paying attention to the $487 question. It has been interesting to watch the tactics in the recent game of chicken between our local government leaders and the state Department of the Environment over the new Maryland Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, otherwise known as the stormwater fee, or the “rain tax.” (News-Post)

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Jolene Ivey: Keep our working families healthy and safe

Consider this scenario: A single mom's baby wakes up with a fever. She can either give him a dose of Tylenol, hoping it brings the baby's temperature down long enough to make it through her shift as a waitress, or stay home and miss a whole day's pay and not be able to afford rent or day care next week. She chooses the Tylenol, feeling guilty about it. Her son infects several other children at the day care, which sends him home. His mom has to miss work to care for him, then gets sick herself. (Balt. Sun)

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Walter Olson: Mizeur's marijuana plan deserves consideration

When Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur, who's running for governor, unveiled a proposal to tax and legalize sales of pot, most of the reactions from Maryland politicians were muted — with one Frederick County delegate providing a characteristically explosive exception. "It's my firm belief that marijuana makes you lazy and stupid, and while this may really encourage Delegate Mizeur's base, my base are the hard-working taxpayers of Maryland who are probably not the ones who are smoking marijuana and being lazy," Frederick County Republican Del. Kathy Afzali told WHAG-TV, the NBC-affiliated TV station in Hagerstown. (Balt. Sun)

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Harry J. Holzer: Use caution in raising the minimum wage

Three jurisdictions in the Washington metro area — the District, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County — have voted recently to raise their minimum wages to $11.50 over a three-year period. At least 20 states and some major localities have already increased their minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25. A handful of states have chosen to index their statutory minimum wages to measures of inflation over time. (Wash. Post)

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Dec. 9 // County schools shaken to – and by – the core

Not long ago, it was No Child Left Behind. Now, it’s Common Core. Does U.S. education have a bad case of miracle-cure-of-the-decade flu? County parents wondering why their children are suddenly struggling in class, as well as teachers spending long hours desperately assembling a curriculum, can be forgiven for thinking as much. (Capital)

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Frederick County executive race sparks to life

The race for Frederick County's first county executive got a little more interesting last week when Republican David Gray, a county commissioner, confirmed he will run for the seat in 2014. Gray said he will officially kick off his campaign Tuesday evening at Urbana High School — just before the start of a public hearing on a controversial 1,510-home development plan in Monrovia. (News-Post)

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