Welcome to the council

Cherri Branson won Valerie Ervin’s seat on the Montgomery County Council last week in a council vote over 17 other candidates. Branson, who has spent more than 24 years as a congressional aide, will represent District 5 at a time when the council has plenty on its plate. (Gazette)

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Feb. 4 // Frosh & Dumais: Bill targets 'rape by proxy'

A new trend in "rape by proxy" is as horrific as it is simple. Thanks to the anonymity and wide reach of the Internet, any jealous ex, jilted lover, or jaded stalker can easily recruit an army of proxy rapists to assault their target. Unlike most conspirators, the recruiters and recruits never meet, never exchange anything of value and may never even communicate directly at all. (Balt. Sun)

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A new jail – and a new courthouse, too?

A Special Joint Commission of the General Assembly recently issued a report regarding security in Baltimore City’s correctional facilities. The Commission was instituted in response to the federal indictments in Spring 2013 that alleged widespread gang activities and wrongdoing by correctional officers inside of the Baltimore City Detention Center. The Commission recommends, among other things, that the Baltimore City Detention Center be replaced onsite in stages over the next 10 years at a cost of approximately $533 million. We suggest that the General Assembly and the political leadership of the City of Baltimore consider a more sweeping and broader solution to two pressing criminal justice-related issues facing Baltimore — local correctional facilities and the courthouse situation. (Daily Record)

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Too dead to vote

Voter identification has been a hot political topic in recent years. Conservatives have generally favored the requirement of an official voter ID to thwart voter fraud; liberals have argued that such a requirement would be an impediment for many elderly, poor and immigrant voters. That’s a legitimate issue for discussion, but keeping voter rolls as accurate and up to date as possible is something that everyone should favor. To that end, we support Delegate Kathy Afzali’s recently introduced bill that would help clear official rolls of deceased former voters. (News-Post)

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Mr. Brown gets a reprieve

Last week, the chairmen to the two committees with oversight of Maryland's woeful health care exchange announced they'll wait for state auditors to look into the matter this summer rather than proceeding with their own investigation during the current legislative session. That's a decision that must have brought a smile to the face of gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the man in charge of implementing the exchange (although not necessarily really, truly in charge), who now won't have to face more embarrassing questions about it until after the June Democratic primary — or even the general election in November. (Balt. Sun) 

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Joanna Sullivan: Stop explaining away Baltimore's soaring murder rate

For too long, the city has explained away its high murder rates by telling us you’re pretty safe if you’re not involved in the illegal drug trade. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts reiterated this ridiculous notion back in December when he told WBAL-TV that crime was “very localized and unfortunately, it’s with African-American men who are involved in the drug trade and 80 to 85 percent of the victims are involved in the drug trade going back and forth.” His words paint a picture of a Baltimore where you’re OK if you behave and stay in the right neighborhoods. Unfortunately, evil and crime have no boundaries as we learn every day in this country. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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A fatal addiction

The death this weekend of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent drug overdose has left his fans and colleagues in the film industry devastated by the loss of a great talent at so young an age. His death has re-focused attention on the rising number of drug overdoses responsible for killing dozens of people across the country, including in Maryland. (Balt. Sun)

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Severna Park school deserves its funding

We can’t work up affection for the so-called beg-a-thon, the annual session at which county leaders go before the state Board of Public Works — consisting of the governor, the comptroller and the state treasurer — to ask for more funding for school construction. During this annual ritual, the state motto of “Manly deeds, womanly words” is replaced by “Please sir, I want some more.” (Capital)

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