City council agrees informally to proposed water, sewer rate increases

The Hagerstown City Council reached an informal consensus Tuesday to support proposed water and sewer rate increases for customers over five years, including an initial 12 percent hike in sewer fees, to offset operational costs and flat revenue projections. Pending a public hearing, introduction and adoption of an ordinance by separate votes, the proposed rate adjustment plan, if approved, would go into effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2019. (Herald-Mail)

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Schaller files for St. Mary's commissioner

Bob Schaller, of Leonardtown, the former director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic and Community Development, filed as a candidate for county commissioner Tuesday morning for this year’s election. He is the first Democrat to file for the District 2 seat, which represents the Hollywood and Leonardtown areas. Republican Mike Hewitt has already filed for the job, which Commissioner Dan Morris (R) said he is not interested in running for again. (Enterprise)

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Ex-state cabinet member Fielder named Bel Air town administrator

James D. Fielder Jr. was appointed by Bel Air commissioners as the new town administrator during a meeting Monday night. Fielder, who was a cabinet secretary in two state administrations, replaces Chris Schlehr, who retired Dec. 31 after serving the town for 21 years. A Harford County native, Fielder, 64, said Monday night he is excited to take on the task of leading the town's day-to-day operations. (Balt. Sun)

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Weather doesn't stop Thurmont voters

Despite freezing weather, the turnout at Tuesday's Thurmont election was good, according to the chief election judge. Wes Hamrick, 51, a manager for AT&T who also works part time at Stauffer Funeral Home in Thurmont, captured the vacant town commissioner seat. The seat became open when former Town Commissioner John Kinnaird was elected mayor in October. (News-Post)

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Jan. 7 // Md. senators Mikulski, Cardin at odds on Iran

Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin of Maryland are among Senate Democrats who disagree on what action Congress should take to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, co-sponsored legislation that would require additional sanctions if Iran fails to abide by an interim agreement it signed in November with six other countries, including the U.S., designed to curtail its nuclear program. But Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, is among 10 Democratic committee chairs who have urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold off on legislation imposing new economic sanctions on Iran. (Daily Times)

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Delaney, Mizeur call for analysis of ditching state health site

A Maryland congressman and a candidate for governor — both Democrats —called on Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration Monday to publicly disclose the feasibility of abandoning the state's troubled health insurance exchange in favor of the better-performing federally run website. In a letter to state health officials, Rep. John Delaney noted that the federal site, despite its own problems, is signing up new patients for coverage faster than the Maryland Health Connection. Delaney asked health officials to publicly weigh the pros and cons of switching systems. (Balt. Sun)

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Judges propose to streamline bail process

Maryland's judiciary is urging the General Assembly to streamline the state's system for setting or denying bail for criminal defendants, replacing the current two-step process with a single hearing before a judge most of the time. A task force appointed by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera delivered its recommendations Monday to a panel set up by the legislature. The two study groups have taken significantly different approaches to how the state should respond to a Court of Appeals decision guaranteeing defendants legal representation at both steps in the bail review process — a ruling that could cost the state public defender's office alone about $30 million a year. (Balt. Sun)

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Bishop Lee Robinson Sr., city's first black police commissioner, dies at 86

Bishop Lee Robinson Sr., the city's first African-American police commissioner who began his 50-year law enforcement career with the Baltimore Park Police and went on to lead two state agencies, died Monday of Alzheimer's disease and dementia at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The longtime Homeland resident was 86. After steadily rising through the ranks of the city Police Department, Mr. Robinson was named commissioner in 1984 by then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer. He went on to become the state's secretary of public safety and correctional services in Mr. Schaefer's administration and was secretary of juvenile justice under Gov. Parris N. Glendening. (Balt. Sun)

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