Do we deserve the politicians we have?

A visiting friend who had served a long-standing, big-city mayor, himself the son of a long-standing mayor of that same city, asked me about putative presidential candidate Gov. Martin O’Malley. As we happened to drive by a windmill in Maryland’s First Congressional District — where O’Malley is not popular — I told him about our governor’s recent victories in his liberal legislative agenda, including offshore windmills. (Capital)

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July 24 // Risking the bridge

Let's keep the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as safe as possible, but let's also not get hysterical about it. Better to stay focused on the most serious safety threats — drunken driving, driver distraction and speeding, to name a few — than to fret about dangers that become inflated by our phobias. Getting forced off the side of the Bay Bridge may be a horror story, but it probably shouldn't be high on anyone's list of major threats facing Maryland's motoring public. (Balt. Sun)

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Public-private collaboration gets results

Lower Shore job-seekers have good news to celebrate: A locally based pharmaceutical company, Jubilant Cadista, is planning to expand and add about 200 jobs in the next five years. But the 200 jobs is not the whole story. The company is expanding its facility before hiring, so there will be construction jobs involved in the expansion project as well. But even that, significant as it is in a county with an unemployment figure that is stuck above 8 percent, is not the whole story. We hear a lot about outsourcing and getting government out of the way of private-sector businesses. But this is a case in which it took cooperation between state and local governments, as well as market pressures, to bring about this beneficial change. (Daily Times)

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MSA scores are no cause for alarm

It's not time to panic quite yet over Maryland's plummeting elementary and middle school assessment scores. To be sure, they're not good, showing widespread declines in performance for the first time in years. But the declines are so systemic and sudden as to suggest a single culprit could be responsible for most of the change, and this year, there's an obvious answer. Maryland's test scores went up year after year as its districts aligned their curricula and teachers their lessons with the Maryland School Assessments. Now, though, as part of a national effort to improve academic standards, the state is in the process of adopting a new curriculum, but it is stuck for the moment with the old assessments. Ironically enough, it's possible that test scores went down this year in large part because students are being taught at a higher level. (Balt. Sun)

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James McKitrick: Millennials want answers about the debt

While the tentacles of Washington dysfunction reach all national demographics, one often overlooked group is our young adults — affectionately termed the "Millennials." Obvious evidence of this has been Congress' inability to thus far keep interest rates on student loans from rising sharply down the road. However, if one digs deeper, it becomes clear this is merely a symptom of a much larger disease. The sickness? A burden of our nation's mounting and unsustainable debt.

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Nina Beth Cardin -- Religion and rain: Why faith institutions should pay stormwater fees

In many jurisdictions where stormwater fees are being assessed, faith institutions are being asked to contribute their fair share to help communities develop and implement comprehensive stormwater management programs that will serve us all. In response, some faith institutions have been resistant. They shouldn’t be. Managing stormwater through fairly assessed fees and properly designed buildings and grounds is doing what we teach to our youngest children — cleaning up the mess we make. (Star-Democrat)

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Donald Boesch: It's not too late to act on climate change

Climate change is real. The stakes are high and the time is short. In Maryland, we just have to think about last week's sweltering weather to get a look into our future. In 50 years, it could be a rare summer day when temperatures in Maryland do not reach well into the 90s, with high humidity and warm nights. Most days would have code orange air quality or worse as the heat raises ozone levels, even as we are reducing air pollution. While we typically experience only two or three days when temperatures exceed 100 degrees, this would likely grow to 30 or more days, with life-threatening heat waves punctuated by intense downpours and flash flooding. These are just the patterns that climate scientists anticipate. (Balt. Sun)

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Aisha Braveboy: Diversion, not mass incarceration, will reduce crime

If the state of Maryland is serious about reducing crime, we need to more proactive about presentative programs and seriously consider diversion programs for our youth. The recent ACLU report on arrests for marijuana possession and The Sun's June 8 editorial "Maryland's New Jim Crow" have brought much needed attention to mass incarceration in the Maryland criminal justice system. (Balt. Sun)

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