Dec. 6 // Hough's plan to fix Maryland politics

Delegate Michael Hough’s “Agenda to Fix Maryland” sounds grand — as well as a little “Contract With America”-ish — but the four pieces of legislation that form the agenda’s backbone are in large part solid and should generate an interesting discussion. Because the show in Annapolis is run by Democrats, we’re predicting that the General Assembly will ultimately reject Hough’s proposals. (News-Post)

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Morgan's teachable moment

Morgan State University officials not only had the right but the duty to sanction a campus fraternity for rejecting a student's membership application because he was gay. Much of the ethos of college Greek organizations lies in the pride they take in long-standing traditions of selectivity and exclusivity, even when pushed to ridiculous extremes. But schools are under no obligation to honor that legacy when it unlawfully discriminates against other students or is used to justify hateful expressions of bigotry. (Balt. Sun)

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Why preservation matters 

Planners and developers typically look to the future: a pedestrian bridge spanning the Inner Harbor, an $85 million restaurant and entertainment complex at Towson Square, a mixed-use project in Rockville with 263 apartments and a 140-room hotel on the site of a movie theater parking lot. But two restoration projects, one in Baltimore and one in Baltimore County, show the importance of paying attention to the past. (Daily Record)

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Nick Berry: The path ahead for Annapolis Mayor Pantelides

After a spectacularly successful campaign, Mayor Mike Pantelides faces a difficult task of making good on his campaign promises. Not the least of his hurdles is the make-up of City Council – seven of nine are Democratic votes. Still, with the seven Democrats of independent, often varietal views on policies, an opportunity exists to create majorities. (Capital)

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Evolving views on zoning

Property rights have been quite the buzzwords when it comes to this board of commissioners, which is why a discussion on solar energy conversion facilities earlier this week — and whether they should be allowed in certain areas of the county — was intriguing. On one side, commissioners Haven Shoemaker and Richard Rothschild argued against allowing the construction of solar conversion facilities, called solar arrays, in residential, conservation and agricultural zoning districts. They said the arrays were unsightly and would disrupt the fabric of the community’s farming legacy. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Allan Powell: Giving public funds to religious schools is unconstitutional

The announcement that “Private schools say thanks for $9M” (Herald-Mail, Nov. 22), however well intended, is a direct collision with the United States and Maryland constitutions. Courts have consistently interpreted the First Amendment to provide for the separation of church and state. In addition, state constitutions include provisions requiring separation. Maryland's Article 36, though not the most articulate statement, still demands: “… nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent or maintain any place of worship ...” (Herald-Mail)

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Kalman Hettleman: Maryland has far to go in testing and teaching special education students

The Baltimore Sun gets high marks for uncovering the shameful fact that Maryland ranks first nationally in improperly excluding students with disabilities from taking the leading national test of reading ability. These exclusions inflate the state's test scores. They also deflate Maryland's reputation as the No. 1 education state as ranked by Education Week. The exclusions help to reveal how certain practices ruin many, if not most, chances that students with disabilities have for academic success. But they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lack of understanding — not just about testing but about overall instruction of students with disabilities. (Balt. Sun)

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Joe Nathanson: Are development incentives necessary? 

The event in Harbor East’s Legg Mason Tower started off with the sober quality of an academic seminar. The visiting lecturer came from out of town to deliver his views on the use of incentives to advance local economic development, buttressed by a 50-page paper. Before the proceedings concluded, the passions that had been evident in the deliberations involving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for Baltimore’s Harbor Point project had bubbled to the surface once again. (Daily Record)

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