The politics of ethics reform

When an ethics bill proposed by County Executive Jan Gardner failed in the 2017 session of the General Assembly last spring, Sen. Michael Hough got most of the blame. He had proposed a competing bill that divided the county delegation and effectively blocked the Gardner bill. Hough, R-District 4, insisted that his motives were pure, but the circumstantial evidence weighed strongly against that. Gardner’s bill had been written after months of study by a citizens’ task force on ethics, with the support of the League of Women Voters and political leaders from both parties. It would have extended campaign contribution prohibitions already in place for the County Council to members of the Planning Commission who chose to run for the council. (News-Post)

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Charles L. "Chuck" Harrington: Public-private partnerships are in danger because of the Purple Line legal challenge

Tomorrow’s economy is a digitally connected, globally competitive, rapidly evolving marketplace fueled by innovative solutions to today’s challenges. Collaboration is the engine of innovation, and there’s a tremendous need in the United States for more strategic partnerships — including those between the public and private sectors. But an unfortunate potential roadblock to greater collaboration between the government and private businesses is looming in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, threatening to deter progress in restoring America’s aging infrastructure and transit systems. (Wash. Post)

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Rascovar: Warning to voters: Beware of polls 

According to a September Goucher Poll, the winner of next year’s Democratic primary for governor is . . . “none of the above.” The second-place finisher in the poll? An individual who wasn’t even an announced candidate. He’s since said he won’t be running for governor in 2018. So much for the validity and value of this public opinion survey. It should be a warning to voters: Beware of polls. (Md. Reporter)

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Don DeArmon: But we’ve always done it this way...

“The turnout was ridiculous,” said Election Supervisor Stuart Harvey, commenting on the 14 percent participation rate by city of Frederick voters in the September primary election. But is higher turnout a desirable goal? One school of thought says that “casual” voters should not be encouraged, that only “committed” voters who are closely following municipal issues should vote. However, for those of us who think that more participation in a democracy is a good thing, it’s not too soon to start discussing changes in the municipal election process or in Frederick city government itself that might increase citizen interest and lead to better voter turnout. (News-Post)

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Hal Riedl: When judges can talk politics and policy

If you visit the website of the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), you will be greeted by the bold heading, “Working to enhance public safety and reduce crime.” The first sentence that follows reads, “Our members and agencies work cooperatively to enhance public safety, reduce crime and to advance the fair and timely disposition of criminal cases.” Ever since September of 1999, the CJCC’s chairman has been the judge-in-charge of the criminal docket of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Judge Charles Peters, the current judge-in-charge, is the seventh in an unbroken line of succession. (Balt. Sun)

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Alex Obriecht: Baltimore needs bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure as soon as possible

Forty years ago I opened up a bicycle retail store in Baltimore. A few years later when the North Central Rail Trail (now the Torrey C. Brown Trail) was proposed, I became involved in bicycle advocacy. Since then I have involved myself in all many aspects of advocating for the safe and enjoyable use of the bicycle in the Baltimore area, in the state of Maryland and across the country. About 12 years ago I began speaking of the need to develop bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure if municipalities wished to enjoy the growth opportunities that would be realized by the implementation of this critical infrastructure (“Is Baltimore bike-friendly enough for Amazon?,” Sept. 22). (Balt. Sun)

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September 29 // Laslo Boyd: Larry Hogan paving his path to the 2018 election

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland had a major campaign event last week. With all the trappings of a political rally, he revealed his “plan” to spend $9 billion to widen three of the State’s major highways. Hogan’s announcement needs to be seen more as a multi-layered bid for reelection than a major transportation policy initiative. (From a Certain Point of View)

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Sen. Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton: Maryland workers need paid sick leave, not another study

When Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the General Assembly’s paid sick leave bill last May, he announced the creation of a task force to “better understand access to paid leave policies.” Here’s the issue: what the governor is suggesting has already been done. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I worked diligently and continuously with all stakeholders, including advocates, businesses and my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle to craft the Healthy Working Families Act (HB1). For two years, I personally reached out to Governor Hogan to join these conversations – and the governor and members of his administration never accepted the offer to meet with us. (Balt. Sun)

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