Dan Rodricks: O’Malley promises on health exchange ring empty

Government competence, data-driven strategies, evidence-based policies and getting positive outcomes have been O'Malley trademarks since his days as mayor of Baltimore. As governor, O'Malley continued to present himself as a smart-government moderate who could clean up any mess — the fiscal one his Republican predecessor had left in Annapolis, for starters. That will be an impressive, if wonky, record for O'Malley to tout when he runs for president. Unless, of course, Maryland's health insurance exchange goes down as one of the worst in the nation. (Balt. Sun)

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J.H. Snyder: The public, not the courts, should decide

In countries such as Russia and Iran, the public can vote in elections, but the elections are often viewed as less than fully democratic because the courts can eliminate opponents of the ruling regime from running for office. In America, courts have historically played a minimal role in narrowing the field of candidates. But Maryland appears on the verge of setting a precedent to change that. Last January, in a highly publicized trial, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, then Maryland's most senior Republican office holder, was convicted of misconduct in office. He was incarcerated, fined, required to provide community service and banned from running for office again for five years. (Balt. Sun)

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Why can't all 4-year-olds attend pre-K?

There is a continual push from local, state and national governments to create “preschool for all” programs and expand half-day programs to full day. While we understand all 4-year-olds would benefit from a structured learning environment, current regulations and lack of adequate funding limits our capacity to serve all children in that age group. (Daily Times)

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Don DeArmon: Frederick election postmortem

At the end of this administration, Republicans will have held the mayorship for 24 of the last 28 years. That’s quite an accomplishment in a city that has enjoyed a strong Democratic plurality all that time. Perhaps instead of moving to more nonpartisanship in the city elections, which a number of candidates suggested, the candidates (or at least the Democrats) ought to become more partisan. By that, I mean that the nominees of the parties might try to draw even sharper distinctions on their issues, perhaps emphasizing party more, since the alternative hasn’t been working. I guess that could potentially turn off local voters. But it would be difficult to turn off the electorate to a greater degree than the present because turnout for the general election was only 24 percent of registered voters, and primary turnout was even lower. (News-Post)

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Dec. 16 // Recommendations on Baltimore jail scandal merely a start

Sordid barely describes recent happenings at the Baltimore City Detention Center, where a joint federal-state investigation revealed a virtual takeover of the facility by violent inmate gang members and corrupt correctional officers. Guards smuggled in drugs — to supply the gang’s trafficking business on the inside — as well as cellphones and debit cards. Female officers frequently had sex with inmates; four guards even bore gang leader Tavon White’s children. (Wash. Post)

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Wind-borne pollution

Up to 70 percent of Maryland’s air pollution is from smog generated by coal-burning power plants, vehicles and industries carried on westerly winds from the Ohio River Valley along the I-95 corridor. No matter what the Old Line State does to clean up its homegrown air contamination, this blowback means Maryland will continue to violate federal standards for ground-level ozone pollution set by the Environmental Protection Agency. (News-Post)

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The strength of downtown

Rumors of downtown Baltimore's demise, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated. The decision this week by money manager and downtown anchor T. Rowe Price to stay in its Pratt Street headquarters through at least 2027 should alleviate fears that the city's traditional central business district will empty out in favor of fancier and newer quarters in Harbor East. T. Rowe executives heard the siren song of developer Michael Beatty's presentation about the mini-city he plans to build at Harbor Point, and decided to stay, no lashing to the mast required. (Balt. Sun)

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Coin toss on pay raises

When the legislative session rolls around in January, it will be interesting to see how many of our part-time state lawmakers support raising their pay while opposing any increase in Maryland’s minimum wage. Compensation commissions looking at the pay of the governor and General Assembly members will decide in the coming weeks whether to recommend pay increases. Four years ago, the legislature rejected commission recommendations for pay increases and, if they are recommended again, should do the same. (Carr. Co. Times)

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