Van Hollen Calls For Commerce Secretary To Resign Over ‘Sharpiegate’

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen Thursday called on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to resign in the wake of a controversy involving a supposedly hand-altered map that changed an official forecast for Hurricane Dorian. On Twitter, Van Hollen accused Ross, who oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, as “putting politics above science and data.” (WJZ)


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Ben Carson cleared by HUD inspector general of misconduct in ordering $31,000 dining room set for office suite

The inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development cleared Secretary Ben Carson of misconduct in the ordering of a $31,000 dining room set for his secretarial suite, according to a copy of the investigation obtained Thursday by The Washington Post. The investigation was launched more than a year ago following accusations that Carson had violated federal law in 2017 by ordering furniture above the $5,000 legal limit for office redecorating without notifying congressional appropriators. (Wash. Post)

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Trump urges GOP representatives meeting in Baltimore to ‘share the story of what we have achieved’

Leaving outside protesters who loudly and sometimes profanely rebuked how he characterized Baltimore as “disgusting" and "rodent infested,” President Donald Trump gave a rambling, jokey speech Thursday night to a friendlier crowd of House Republicans gathered at a Harbor East hotel. Trump’s 68-minute speech was largely a recitation of his accomplishments to a GOP audience that frequently interrupted him with applause in a ballroom of the Waterfront Marriott. But toward the end of his speech, he returned to his criticism of Baltimore and other cities, laying their problems at the feet of Democrats. (Balt. Sun) 


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Audit finds Md. Department of Commerce lacked in oversight of economic incentives

An audit of the Maryland Department of Commerce found the agency is not doing enough to verify that businesses receiving economic incentives from the state are holding up their end of the bargain. The Department of Commerce oversees millions of dollars in tax credits and conditional loans used to help retain and attract businesses in Maryland. The incentives are typically tied to a metric, usually jobs. State auditors determined the agency failed to make sure recipients of incentives complied with state regulations and requirements. In one case, auditors said the state issued a $5.5 million tax credit for ineligible project costs. Auditors reviewed records covering July 2014 to December 2017. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Funding Deal for Prescription Drug Board Close, Hogan Administration Says

An exchange of letters between the Hogan administration and the Maryland Health Care Commission appears to offer a path to fund and staff the state’s new Prescription Drug Advisory Board — though the lawmakers who pushed for the panel’s creation are not ready to declare victory. The correspondence comes in the wake of Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s initial refusal to fund the board’s first year of operations — a total of $830,000. (Md. Matters)

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Baltimore acknowledges for first time that data was destroyed in ransomware attack

Baltimore’s auditor said Wednesday that the city’s information technology department lost performance data when hackers locked city files in May — the first disclosure of data being destroyed in the attack. Auditor Josh Pasch told the mayor and other top city officials at a meeting of the city’s spending board that without the data, his team has been unable to check some claims the department made about its performance. The data was stored locally and not backed up. (Balt. Sun)

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Metro board wants future ethics investigations to be made public, unlike in Evans probe

Metro board leaders on Thursday proposed requiring future ethics investigations be made public, after the secrecy surrounding the recent inquiry into former board chairman Jack Evans drew widespread scorn. The board’s ethics committee also outlined plans to give the agency’s inspector general a primary role in probes. And the panel said it wants to clarify what standard to use to determine whether board members have conflicts of interest. (Wash. Post)


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Region’s elected officials urge their governments to commit to affordable-housing targets

Washington-area elected officials voted Wednesday to push their local governments to address the region’s affordable-housing shortage by setting individual targets to increase production of low- and medium-cost housing by 2030. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) said the region needs to add 320,000 housing units between 2020 and 2030 — 75,000 more units than forecast. (Wash. Post)

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