May 17, 2011

PG County: Johnson plea reveals developer bribery

Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson pleaded guilty today in federal court to bribery, extortion and witness tampering in a case involving millions of dollars in federal housing grants.

The 24-page guilty plea released by U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein's office details how Johnson and other former county officials took bribes in exchange for agreeing "to perform favorable official actions" for several Prince George's County developers, business owners and their companies.

As investigators closed in last year, Johnson famously asked his wife -- current county council member Leslie Johnson -- to conceal $80,000 in her underwear and flush other evidence down the toilet, according to wiretaps in the case.

Jack Johnson, the county's former state's attorney and county executive for eight years until December 2010, is to be sentenced in September. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy case and 20 years for witness tampering.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI indicated they are continuing to investigate misdeeds in Maryland second most-populous county.

Continue reading "PG County: Johnson plea reveals developer bribery" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

May 10, 2011

In Howard, tough sell for state transportation fixes

Discussion has been heating up in recent weeks about how to pay for transportation projects in the state, and a lot of people are thinking Gov. Martin O'Malley and the General Assembly will use this fall's special session to come up with a solution to funding concerns.

As Larry Carson writes in his Howard County Political Notebook this week, an increase in the gas tax looks less likely as prices rise.

Click through to read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

"If Howard’s delegation is any measure, it will be tough to pass anything. Everyone agrees there is a problem, but there’s no consensus on a solution, and few are suggesting specific options. Among the ideas mentioned are broadening the state sales tax to apply to various services as well as goods or applying the 6 percent sales tax to gasoline in addition to the per-gallon tax.

Many are like Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Democrat who has a fervent wish: “One keeps hopeful things will get better.”

But that seems a distant goal, and after several years of reduced state highway aid, locally maintained roads are deteriorating and new projects are stalled."

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

Former N.Y. development official hired by Balto. Co.

Baltimore County has hired a former top development official from New York State to serve as chief of the local economic development department.

Daniel C. Gundersen was New York's commissioner of Economic Development in 2007 and 2008, and has recently been a senior advisor for Econsult Corp., based in Philadelphia.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the appointment in a statement.

"The stakes are high, and this is a very important appointment. Mr. Gundersen's extensive contacts with the private sector will be invaluable in Baltimore County," the statement said. "He respects and understands the very important role that the private sector plays in our economy. That was very important to me."

Gunderson will become acting director June 1, and will need County Council approval to make the appointment official.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 1:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

May 9, 2011

Council chairman supports Balto. Co. PAL move

Baltimore County Council chairman John Olszewski Sr., said he’s comfortable with plans to remove recreation centers from police supervision starting next month.

Officers will remain connected to the centers and serve as mentors for youth, Olszewski said.
“It’s not like they’re bailing out 100 percent,” he said. “One of the major concerns for everybody is public safety. Our police department is doing an outstanding job, but at the same time I think they also believe it is important for them to continue to be role models.”

Michael Gimbel, the county’s former director of substance abuse, said he recalled discussions about moving the centers over to the parks and recreation department occurring almost annually. While a move was attempted during former county executive Dennis Rasmussen’s administration, officials decided that putting police in charge improved public perceptions and had a greater impact on children, he said.

With county crime rates improving, it’s important to consider the role of PAL centers along with school resource officers and programs like D.A.R.E., Gimbel said.

“The real reduction in crimes comes from prevention as much as it comes from police work,” Gimbel said. “Having police officers in the schools, in the PAL centers has an impact on the reduction of juvenile crime. It all makes a difference but we all understand the dilemma the chief is in, the county executive is in.”

For the move to be effective, recreation and parks workers will need more intense training in counseling, drug and alcohol prevention and other interventions, he said.

“Really, the PAL officers were more than just police officers playing baseball with the kids,” Gimbel said. “They did a lot more.”

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties

May 5, 2011

Leopold takes detail to fundraiser with Huckabee

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold’s county-paid security detail ferried Leopold Wednesday to a fundraiser for the Maryland GOP headlined by former Arkansas governor and possible GOP-presidential contender Mike Huckabee at a private home in Montgomery County, Leopold’s spokesman said Thursday.

Leopold paid $100 by private check to attend the event sponsored by the Maryland Republican Party at a home in North Potomac, said spokesman Dave Abrams, adding that an officer from the detail drove Leopold to the event.

Leopold, a Republican, is under investigation by the state prosecutor’s office, which is looking into whether he improperly used his county-funded security detail to work on his recent campaign. Leopold has denied any wrongdoing and has moved to limit the use of the security detail following last year’s election.

“The county executive goes to all types of community and political events during the day or night,” said Abrams. “The county executive has been very clear that he has curtailed the use of his detail to minimize the use of overtime. But on advice from the police department, he has a security detail present when he goes to public events. The decision to use the detail is made on a case-by-case basis.”

Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for the state Republican party, said about 150 people attended the event and paid anywhere from $100 to $2,500. The event was expected to raise between $15,000 and $20,000.

Other notable Maryland Republicans in attendance were Harford County Executive David R. Craig and Del. Justin D. Ready, of Carroll County, Mahoney said.

As for the popularity of Fox News host Huckabee in Maryland, Mahoney said, “He’s pretty popular nationally. He finished second to John McCain in 2008. Most people don’t remember that. He’s got a following.”

Mahoney added that his party plans to invite other possible GOP presidential contenders to the state. What about Donald Trump?

“If he wants to come, who knows,” Mahoney said, in a fit of laughter. “But no, we have no plans to bring The Donald yet.”

-Nicole Fuller

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties

April 28, 2011

Baltimore Co. GOP chairman pushes for diversity

The Baltimore Sun's Raven L. Hill reports:

Tony Campbell, chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, knows that he's an unlikely candidate to be pushing for more minority representation on the seven-member panel. Politically, that could result in the Democrat-heavy council adding another member to its ranks. But to Campbell, who is African American, the issue transcends partisanship.

During tonight's redistricting hearing, he said the growing minority population isn't adequately represented with only one African American among the seven council members.

And Campbell asked the redistricting commission to do something about it.

"It isn't going to change until you make it happen," he said.

Continue reading "Baltimore Co. GOP chairman pushes for diversity" »

Posted by at 10:38 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties, People

Balto. Co. lawmakers press board on parking lot

FThe folks in Parkville who have argued in the street and government offices to save a parking lot on Harford Road for public use now have a chance to negotiate with the developer who wants to buy it from the Baltimore County Revenue Authority.

The agency on Thursday put off a decision about selling the property, as members urged representatives of the community to talk with representatives of DMS Development LLC about a compromise to make as many spaces as possible available for public parking if the lot is sold. DMS has bid $530,000 — by far the highest of three offers — for the land measuring just under half an acre, with 56 metered and two handicapped parking spaces.

It was not clear if the meeting would take place. A representative of a Parkville business association who has been in the forefront of opposition to the sale said he's willing to try.

Continue reading "Balto. Co. lawmakers press board on parking lot" »

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Categories: In The Counties

April 21, 2011

Kamenetz gets leadership role in planning group

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is the new vice chairman of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, an organization of the region's top elected executives.

According to a news release from the county, Kamenetz was elected Wednesday to the position. The council facilitates collaboration on regional strategies, plans and programs to improve the quality of life and economic vitality in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. It provides technical and planning assistance to member jurisdictions on such issues as air and water quality, cooperative purchasing, economic and demographic research, emergency planning and transportation.

"There are more similarities than differences in the issues we all face in our communities and I am an enthusiastic supporter of the BMC as the venue where local officials can compare notes, explore opportunities and work together on joint solutions," Kamenetz said.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the council’s chairwoman, said the county executive’s “strong collaborative spirit” will help the group move forward.

"He also understands the importance of good working relationships between city and county governments to make the Baltimore region better, safer and stronger," she said.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:05 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

April 15, 2011

Online voters to decide Balto. Co. GOP awards

Two finalists for the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee’s Ellie awards will be selected by online votes.

The award will recognize 12 women throughout the state from different decades. Ten finalists have already been selected. Nominations for the remaining two finalists will close Wednesday.

Voting will begin late next week. Recipients will be honored at the committee’s annual Lincoln/ Reagan Dinner, “A Night at the Ellies,” on May 4 at Martin’s East in Middle River.

“We would like every Republican activist to use their virtual voice in choosing our final two Ellie recipients,” committee chairman Tony Campbell said.

The finalists selected thus far include pioneers and rising leaders within the party, including three from Baltimore County – Helen Delich Bentley, who served 10 years in Congress; gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey; and Julianne Grim, president of the 42nd District Republican Club and the youngest honoree. Former Rep. Marjorie Holt from Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City’s Nicolee Ambrose, former chairman of the National Young Republicans, are also on the list.

Other honorees include former Bowie mayor Audrey Scott; Joyce Lyons Terhes, the state's Republican committeewoman; Rachel Audi, who ran last year for the House of Delegates from Prince George’s County; Dottie Kelly, president of the Republican Women’s Club of Frederick County; and Diana Waterman, first vice chair of the state Republican Party.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

Longest-serving Arundel worker to retire

Anne Arundel County Council Administrative Officer Judy C. Holmes, who is currently the county’s longest-serving full-time employee, will retire in June.

Holmes has served as the council’s administrative officer for the last 29 years. She will be succeeded by Elizabeth E. Jones, a legislative assistant to the council for 11 years.

The council greatly appreciates Holmes’ years of service, Council Chairman Richard Ladd said. “Judy has been an integral part of county government for many, many years and the entire council wishes her well in retirement. Her knowledge, expertise and wisdom will be sorely missed.”

Jones has also worked on Capitol Hill and the House of Delegates

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

April 7, 2011

Balto. Co. revenue board releases parking lot bids

The Baltimore County Revenue Authority on Thursday released details of the three bids it received last year in hopes of selling a Parkville parking lot, after insisting for several months that the information could not be made public.

The plan to sell the property on Harford Road near Lavender Avenue last week brought protesters into the street insisting that the parking lot is essential to neighborhood businesses.
The bids, including an offer nearly twice the appraised value made by a developer who has built several Walgreens drug stores, were posted on the agency’s website Thursday afternoon. It’s not clear why the authority decided to release the information now. The agency’s chief executive, William L. Cook II, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ed Pinder, a lawyer active with the Parkville/Carney Business and Professional Association, said the authority has always insisted the bids were private.

“They were always telling us they wouldn’t tell us to protect” the bidders, he said. He speculated that the information has been released now to avoid criticism that “it was all done in secrecy.”

The authority’s five-member board is expected to discuss plans for the Lavender lot at its next scheduled meeting at the end of this month.

The top bid of $530,000 for the property measuring just under half an acre was made by David M. Schlachman, a managing member of DMS Development LLC of Towson.

Continue reading "Balto. Co. revenue board releases parking lot bids" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

April 1, 2011

Balto. Co. planning appointee had legal trouble

Howard L. Perlow, a recent appointee to the Baltimore County Planning Board, was convicted in the 1990s in a high-profile title insurance fraud case.

Perlow, who was appointed by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in February, operated Bay State Title, the largest title company in Baltimore. In 1989, investigators found that $1.6 million was missing from an escrow account. Perlow pleaded guilty to misappropriating about $300,000 belonging to his company and to the Chicago Title Insurance Co. of Maryland, and served prison time. He was pardoned in 2002 by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

When reached by phone Friday, Perlow said he did not want to comment, but that he did discuss the matter with Kamenetz before he was appointed.

Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for the County Executive, noted that the pardon expunged the conviction from Perlow’s record. “Beyond that, we wouldn’t have any comment,” she said.

Several County Council members and Planning Board chairman Edward J. Gilliss said they were not aware of Perlow’s background. His appointment did not require council confirmation. Two council members, Republican Todd Huff and Democrat Kenneth N. Oliver, said they believed that Perlow had paid his debt to society.

Huff said, “If the governor feels that he deserved to be pardoned and he served his time as they say, then it is what it is.”

“Sometimes we all make mistakes,” Oliver said. “If he has paid his debt to society, then he should be allowed to contribute to the betterment of our county.”

Since 2002, Perlow has contributed more than $33,000 to numerous political action committees and candidates, including Kamenetz, Oliver, Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and others, according to a campaign finance database maintained by the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland.

Perlow holds an at-large seat and lives in Pikesville. His term ends in 2013.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:56 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: In The Counties

March 10, 2011

BaltCo revenue panel to discuss public info

UPDATE: The Baltimore County Revenue Authority delayed discussion Thursday about which of its records should be publicly available, as officials said a lawyer who helped prepare a report on the topic was ill.

The agenda for the postponed Feb. 24 monthly meeting included a "closed session" to discuss two points, one involving "legal advice" on authority operations, the other "ongoing negotiations for the acquisition of real estate." The panel's chief executive said at the meeting members could discuss the legal issue in public, but the authority later put it off.

The "legal advice" appears to be an opinion the board asked for in January from its lawyer, Patrick K. Arey, after a reporter for the Baltimore Sun raised a question about the authority's policy on releasing materials that were on the agenda for discussion. At the January 13 session, authority board chairman Donald P. Hutchinson asked Arey to research the question of when a document becomes public information and to report back to the board.

Authority chief executive William "Lynnie" Cook II told late last month that two memos were being withheld from the materials being made public for the meeting. Patch reported that one of the memos "may contain a legal opinion from the agency's attorney regarding the public records question."

Cook did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Hutchinson also did not return a call seeking comment.

Established by the state in the 1950s, the authority is a quasi-public agency that runs parking garages, parking lots and metered street parking, five golf courses and the Reisterstown Sportsplex at Reisterstown Regional Park that offers ice skating and indoor soccer. Its five board members are appointed by the county executive, but technically the authority is not a county agency.

The authority has pressed its status as an independent agency in several ways, maintaining tight control of information released publicly and to the news media.

Continue reading "BaltCo revenue panel to discuss public info" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

February 3, 2011

Urbana chosen for national Social Security center

Federal officials have chosen Frederick County to be the site of the Social Security Administration’s new National Support Center.

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett said the project would bring “good paying, technical and professional job opportunities” to his district.

“Frederick County provides a terrific match for the Social Security Administration,” the Western Maryland Republican said Thursday. “Locating this data center in Urbana will improve the quality of life for many employees by reducing their commutes and fuel use by taking traffic off I-70 and I-270.”

Members of the state’s congressional delegation said last year that the facility on Bennett Creek Boulevard in Urbana would bring up to 250 new jobs.

“It’s excellent news,” said Blaine R. Young, president of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. “In a challenging economy, it’s going to put a lot of people to work.”

The General Services Administration, the real estate arm of the federal government, chose Urbana over Woodlawn, where the Social Security Administration is headquartered.

In an internal communication, officials cited “a combination of favorable infrastructure and operating costs, environmental acceptability and favorable construction conditions.”

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 6:06 PM | | Comments (5)

January 18, 2011

Baltimore Co. Council appointments

The Baltimore County Council unanimously approved two interim high-level appointments at Monday's meeting, reports The Sun's Raven Hill.

George Klunk was appointed acting director of the Office of Economic Development. Michael J. Mayhew was named acting director of the Office of Planning.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the appointments last month as part of his leadership team.

Klunk is now filing the post vacated by David Iannucci, whom Kamenetz did not keep on staff from former executive James T Smith Jr.'s administration.

Posted by at 10:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, People

January 11, 2011

Kamenetz asks for cash, ok for department mergers

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz says he is asking lawmakers representing the county in the General Assembly to help him bring in more state aid for school renovation and construction, and infrastructure improvements along the Liberty Road corridor.

He said he is also looking into a merger of the county's health, aging and social services departments, a move that would need state legislative approval.

Kamenetz is hoping the county's legislative delegation can secure $78 million for the school system with $6.5 million specifically going towards renovation and expansion costs at overcrowded Hampton Elementary School. He’s asking for $2 million for the busy Liberty Road commercial corridor.

The county has already received $21 million for school construction costs. Legislators recently asked Superintendent Joe A. Hairston to make Hampton Elementary a priority in next year’s school budget. The county has set aside $12.5 million for the renovations, which are expected to cost about $19 million.

Kamenetz applauded Gov. Martin O’Malley’s announcement last week that teacher pension costs will not be shifted to the county this year. Like his predecessor, former county executive James T. Smith, Jr., he also threw his support behind a bill sponsored by Sen. Delores E. Kelley that would allow law enforcement agencies to seize the illegal profits of identity theft.

Kamenetz announced the legislative priorities Tuesday in Annapolis.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: 2011 legislative session, In The Counties

December 22, 2010

Teacher pension costs to be sent to schools?

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has been talking a lot about the cost of teacher pensions lately. As he prepares to take over as the president of the Maryland Association of County's, Ulman has consistently spoken out against any shift of educator retirement costs from the state to local governments.

But what if he can't get the General Assembly to go along? This is a debate that has been simmering for years, and got especially hot last year as the Senate passed a plan that would shift more than $300 million in liabilities to the counties within the next several years. The measure died in negotiations with the House, but could be back.

If lawmakers go through with it, Larry Carson reports that Ulman would like to send the bill directly to the county school board. He argues they're the ones that decide how much teachers will be paid.

An excerpt from Larry's Political Notebook is below, but click through to read the whole thing.

"A state commission headed by former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor recommended a shift of some teacher pension costs after a meeting in Annapolis on Monday. The commission also suggested requiring local school boards to pay those costs as Ulman advocated, according to Andrea Mansfield, associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties.

That would benefit Ulman and other local government leaders because of the way Maryland pays for education, which typically consumes half or more of local revenues. Local governments levy taxes and then allocate money for schools, but school boards decide how exactly to spend it.

If pension costs are borne directly by school boards, those officials would have to wrestle with how to pay the bills, removing that burden from elected county executives and Baltimore's mayor. Instead, Ulman agreed that school board members would likely ask for more money from his administration, but he'd rather face that fight, he said.

"'It would pose a political challenge,' Ulman said, 'but I'm much more able to handle that.'"

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: In The Counties

December 3, 2010

Kamenetz names staff, plans to hire Gardina

Incoming Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz plans to hire outgoing County Councilman Vince Gardina to head the new Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, which he announced that he plans to create by merging other departments.

Gardina, a Democrat and, the longest-serving councilman in Baltimore County's history, is set to leave office on Monday, the same day Kamenetz will take office.

This is new information, and we're still sorting through it, but here some other points of interest in Kamenetz's staff announcement. The County Council must review his appointments within 40 days after he submits them on Monday.

-Kamenetz wants to keep Fred Homan as County Administrative Officer, a powerful job he held in ougoing County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s administration.

-Stanley H. Jacobs will serve as acting director of economic development while Kamenetz looks for a permanent chief. This means David Iannucci, Smith's economic development point man, is not keeping his post.

-Smith's communications director, Donald I. Mohler, III, will become Kamenetz's chief of staff.

-Arnold E. Jablon has been tapped to head of the new Department of Permits, Inspections, and Approvals.

Here's a full list of the appointments, from Kamenetz's office:

-Administrative Law Judge (designated as Zoning Commissioner)-Lawrence M. Stahl
-Administrative Law Judge (designated as Deputy Zoning Commissioner)-John E. Beverungen
-Aging-Joanne E. Williams
-Budget and Finance-Keith A. Dorsey
-Corrections-James P. O'Neill
-Environmental Protection and Sustainability (DEPS)-Vincent J. Gardina
-Fire Chief-John J. Hohman
-Health- Gregory Branch, M.D.
-Human Resources-George E. Gay
-Information Technology-Robert R. Stradling
-Law-Michael E. Field
-Permits, Inspections, and Applications (PIA)- Arnold E. Jablon
-Police Chief-James W. Johnson
-Public Works-Edward C. Adams, Jr.
-Recreation and Parks-Barry F. Williams
-Social Services-Timothy Griffith
-Although not subject to council confirmation, Timothy M. Kotroco will serve as the third Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:36 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: In The Counties

December 2, 2010

Barth on crossing party lines for Ehrlich

Four years ago, Andy Barth was a Democrat. He ran and lost in the Democratic primary won by Rep. John Sarbanes. This year, he was the voice of the most prominent Republican in Maryland, when he became spokesman for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

So what made Barth cross the aisle for Ehrlich? With the election over, the former TV reporter answered some questions for Larry Carson's Howard County Political Notebook.

A few excerpts are below:

Barth said his work for Ehrlich was based on a personal respect formed over a period of years.

“I never thought of this as a political decision,” he said. “I covered him starting in 1994 when he first ran for Congress. I thought then this was an honest and decent guy I would love to work for, but I filed it away.” Barth was a reporter for more than 35 years, both at Baltimore’s WMAR (Channel 2) and later for Washington station WTTG (Channel 5). He also once sought the presidency of the Columbia Association.

Bottom line, Barth said he preferred Ehrlich to O’Malley, who won the election by double digits.

“I thought of the two people running, Bob Ehrlich was the better choice in terms of character and values. I wish people would get past the partisanship that has people vote on party labels.”

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:37 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

November 22, 2010

BaltCo GOP squabbles draw impeachment offer

It’s been a rough first week for Tony Campbell, new chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, who was sworn in last Monday.

Today, Campbell, who was sworn in last Monday, sent an email to the committee saying they should begin impeach proceedings if they don’t want him to head the party.

“Clearly they don’t want me as chairman,” Campbell said. “I don’t want to spend the next four years beating my head against the wall for people who don’t care what the voters of Baltimore County want.”

Campbell has faced criticism for suggesting that his committee support Democratic Councilman Ken Oliver as County Council chairman, and also for requesting to be compensated if he organized a fundraiser for Republican candidates back when he was chairman-elect. Area bloggers have covered the flap in detail.

Though Campbell said he expected to find detractors after beating longtime chairman Chris Cavey in September, he didn’t expect a “smear campaign.” Now, he’s not sure if the relationship with the executive board can be repaired.

Al Mendelsohn, the party’s first vice chairman, said he hasn’t heard anyone discuss impeaching Campbell.

“We’re interested in the good of the party. I know of no one who wants to impeach Tony,” said Mendelsohn, who’s known Campbell ever since he was a member of the Young Republicans. “There isn’t a movement afoot.”

However, member at large Chris Defeo suggested otherwise.

“I would like to see us get past this, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” Defeo said. “He seems to be dividing the party rather than bringing the party together.”

Tom Henry, the group’s second vice chair, said he was “blindsided” by Campbell’s impeachment talk. He’s hoping the executive board can meet soon to resolve the issue.

“He does not have to feel that he’s been wounded or hurt or that someone is out to get him,” Henry said. “We need to keep things internal so that we can build the party structure and get away from this sniping. This is not helping.”

Another member, Hillary Pennington, said she believes the party can move forward.

“The idea that there’s this coalition [against Tony] is just ridiculous. He knows I’m not a fan of his [but] I never heard the word ‘impeachment,’” she said.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:47 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: In The Counties

November 18, 2010

State Dems weighing Jones ouster in Balto. Co.

Julian E. Jones Jr., will know before Thanksgiving whether he’ll be allowed to keep his spot on the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee.

Jones appeared before the state Democratic Party’s credentials committee last night in Annapolis to review the matter, in which local party officials sought to remove him for mounting a write-in challenge to County Councilman Ken Oliver. Oliver beat Jones in September in the same Democratic primary in which Jones was elected to the central committee.

He described Wednesday's hearing as “very contentious.” He argued that the process for removing him was not followed, saying that it could only be done by a majority vote among Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee members or by petition from three people who live in the district that he represents on the committee. He expects to receive a decision within the next five business days.

Jones said a county central committee officer told him to resign from the committee shortly after he filed his write-in campaign paperwork. Jones said he reviewed the bylaws and felt that he wasn’t in violation.

He’s pledged to “fight it to the end” regardless of the committee’s decision.
“I’m not just fighting for me, but fighting for those who entrusted me to represent them,” he said.

Jones said he’s concerned that the rules for removal aren’t being applied equally.

“There are plenty of others who have violated the rules who have not been removed. I heard that someone lived out of state,” he said. “Do you follow them all the time or do you pick and choose?”

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 4:04 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

November 17, 2010

BaltCo Dems may bar member for write-in bid

Intraparty squabbling was on the agenda of last night’s Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee meeting, where members had a raucous discussion about removing former 4th District County Council candidate Julian Jones from the committee.

Jones was elected to the central committee in the September primary election – the same contest where he lost his bid for a seat on the county council to incumbent Kenneth N. Oliver. Jones subsequently lodged an unsuccessful write-in campaign for the seat in the general election.

After the election, five committee members – all officers – submitted a petition to the state Democratic Party requesting Jones’ removal, arguing that he violated the bylaws by running a write-in campaign against the party nominee. Jones is scheduled to appear before the state party’s credentials committee tonight to review the matter.

“We did what we felt we needed to do to support a duly elected nominee of the Democratic Party,” said committee chair Margie Brassil.

However, many rank and file members said they believed the officers jumped the gun by submitting the petition before they brought the matter to the general body, and that the bylaws are somewhat ambiguous. Some members warned the officers that their actions were “radical,” “overreaching,” set a “dangerous precedent” and might cause a “schism” in the group.

The meeting ended with the committee voting to send a letter to the state party requesting to withdraw the petition until the committee received guidance on the bylaws.

UPDATE: State Democratic Party officials will proceed with a hearing tonight on Jones’ credentials. Party chair Susan W. Turnbull said a decision is not expected tonight.

Removing a member from a central committee is unusual, but it’s even more unusual for a committee member to run against the party nominee, she added.

“I can’t think of another example,” Turnbull said, “and I’ve been on the committee for 20 years.”

The central committee supports all Democratic candidates on the ballot. In this instance, the committee provided volunteers and support for all get-out-the-vote efforts, early voting and mailings as part of a coordinated campaign in the county, she said.

The state credentials committee will determine whether Jones, who ran as a Democratic write-in candidate, had a conflict of interest as a member of the committee running against the party nominee, she said.

“We’re going through the process and I know it will be handled fairly and equitably,” Turnbull said.

Oliver said he believes the bylaws might need to be clarified. But he had no doubt that Jones understood the requirements of serving as a central committee member: Support the party nominee.

“His oath was totally clear,” Oliver said.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:46 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: In The Counties

November 16, 2010

Howard Co's Ulman to fight teacher pension shift

Sun colleague Larry Carson reports that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will fight any state legislative moves to shift the cost of teacher pensions to local governments.

The Democratic Ulman, who becomes the next president of the Maryland Association of Counties in January, picks up the anti-pension-shift torch from Republican Harford County Executive David Craig, MACo's current leader.

Carson writes:

"We're going to be down there [in Annapolis] working hard to make the case that there should not be a pension shift. We already pick up Social Security," Ulman said.

State officials argue that counties set teacher salaries that determine their pensions, so it's not fair for the state to foot the whole bill, but Ulman tried to deflect that by pointing out that the elected school board sets the salaries, not the county executive. In any case, "I don't think that [the shift] is a foregone conclusion," he said.

Continue reading "Howard Co's Ulman to fight teacher pension shift" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:43 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties

Departing BaltCo Councilmen say goodbye

Goodbyes were tinged with laughter at last night’s Baltimore County Council meeting as departing members Joseph Bartenfelder, Vince Gardina, T. Bryan McIntire, Kevin Kamenetz and S.G. Samuel Moxley marked their final council meeting.

Gardina is retiring after 20 years of service. The others are leaving after 16 years. Kamenetz is the incoming county executive.

Moxley included Council Secretary Thomas J. Peddicord, Jr. in his thank yous.
“The guidance that you provide, I believe, keeps at least this one councilman out of so much trouble,” Moxley said.

Kamenetz acknowledged how his life and appearance have changed since he was sworn in 16 years ago.

“When I was first elected I was single. I had no children. I had a full head of hair and a bushy mustache,” he said. “I grew the mustache to look older. I shaved it to look younger.”

McIntire said he appreciated Moxley’s statements that council members crossed party lines “quickly and easily” over the years.

However, “they only had one to overcome,” said McIntire, the lone Republican.
Gardina recalled spending lots of time with former Councilman Doug Riley in his early years on the council. Riley liked to play a practical joke on him – setting Gardina’s chair lower than the others on the dais.

“I’d always be sitting in a hole,” Gardina said. Tuesday night, Gardina’s chair was once again lower than his council colleagues. “I guess he was up here tonight because I’m back in a hole.”

Right after Bartenfelder gave his parting line -- “Hopefully, somebody will finally remember in the future that Joe was here” – he remembered that he left someone off his list.

“I forgot to thank my family,” Bartenfelder said.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

November 15, 2010

Exec Smith's son joins Towson land-use law firm

Baltimore County lawyers and longtime friends Michael Paul Smith and David Gildea made some news during the recent political season by holding a series of fund-raisers for three County Council candidates, and they've decided to take the partnership a step further. Starting in January, Smith will leave his practice in Reisterstown and move to Gildea's shop in Towson, Gildea & Schmidt, a firm specializing in land-use law that also includes former county zoning commissioner, Lawrence E. Schmidt.

"It's the right time in my career to encounter new challenges," said Smith, the son of County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who will be adding his name to the Towson firm.

With the elder Smith leaving office next month after serving the legal limit of two terms, the son will return from what he described as a self-imposed exile from practicing land-use law in Baltimore County. The younger Smith maintained that distance from county land-use cases since his father took office to avoid actual or apparent conflicts of interest. Smith has taken land-use cases in other counties, along with his other work in medical malpractice, personal injury and civil litigation.

He said he's had long-standing friendship with Gildea, Schmidt and other lawyers in the firm, one of whom he's known since they were teenagers, and the two practices will complement each others' strengths.

"I think it's a good fit," said Smith, 44, who lives in Reisterstown, minutes from where he works in the Reisterstown office of the Towson-based firm, Bodie, Dolina, Smith & Hobbs. He said he's been there since he graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law, he said, and figured it was time "to move in a new direction, push myself out of my comfort zone."

Critics said the fundraisers conducted on behalf of Democrats Tom Quirk, Cathy A. Bevins and Gordon Harden were part of an effort by the elder Smith to put his stamp on the new council past his time in office, but his son said it was nothing more than keeping up family tradition of political activism. The elder Smith served on the County Council and as a Circuit Court judge before being elected executive in 2002.

Quirk in District 1 and Bevins in District 6 won their races. Harden was defeated in the District 5 primary by Mike Ertel, who in turn lost the general election to Republican David Marks.

"It was how I was brought up," Smith said. "I started out banging on doors for my father when he was running for County Council."

-Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties

November 12, 2010

O'Malley beats Ehrlich at home in Balto.Co.

Baltimore County supporters of former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had their share of bad news on Election Day, when it appeared their man had won his native county by only a few hundred votes, far short of the margin he was presumed to have needed to prevail in his re-match with Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley. Now, with all but one small count of overseas ballots completed, it turns out that Ehrlich -- who won the county in 2006 against O'Malley and in 2002 against Kathleen Kennedy Towsend -- actually lost in the county by 1,305 votes.

The new county total: 141,679 for O'Malley to 140,374 for Ehrlich, is the result of a count of 4,511 provisional ballots on Nov. 10 and 873 more absentee ballots today said Katie A. Brown, director of the Baltimore County Board of Elections.

In the weeks before the election, county political junkies didn't figure Ehrlich would match his 2002 county total, when he won with more than 60 percent, but to win the state race they reckoned he had to do better than in 2006, when he topped O'Malley in Baltimore County by about 2 percentage points. Ehrlich campaign signs were everywhere in the county, and supporters on the conservative southwest and southeast corners were said to be fired up with enthusiasm.

The new totals serve only to strengthen other outcomes, including the tightest race for the District 6 County Council seat, where Cathy A. Bevins of Middle River was leading Ryan Nawrocki of Rosedale by a few hundreds votes. The new total has Bevins ahead by 505 votes, 17, 991 to 17,486.

Brown said all that remains to make the results official is a count of about 100 remaining overseas ballots on Nov. 22.

"We're almost there," said Brown. "Hopefully by the 23rd this will all be done and the fat lady will have sung."

-Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:48 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

November 4, 2010

Bevins' lead narrows in BaltCo District 6

Democrat Cathy Bevins is still leading the race for the 6th District seat on the Baltimore County Council after Republican Ryan Nawrocki picked up only 50 votes from absentee ballots.

Baltimore County Board of Elections officials had been Nawrocki was more than 300 votes behind before the absentee ballots were tallied. Almost 34,000 votes were cast in the race for the open seat left by Joseph Bartenfelder, who ran unsuccessfully for county executive.

Officials are in the process of counting the total number of provisional ballots, which will be tallied next week. Nawrocki could still request a recount, as well, though the final tally will determine whether he'll have to pay for it or not.

Bevins and Nawrocki were not immediately available for comment.

-Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

Kamenetz looking for staff cuts through attrition

Baltimore County Executive-elect Kevin Kamenetz will ask county staff to start looking for ways to cut county jobs, he announced Thursday as he began rolling out his transition agenda, but he said he does not plan any furloughs or layoffs.

Kamenetz, a Democrat who defeated Republican Kenneth C. Holt on Election Day, began rolling out his agenda Wednesday morning. He said he will ask County Administrative Officer Frederick J. Homan to begin looking for ways to reduce the size of government, Raven Hill reports from Towson. He hopes to make the job cuts through attrition, as workers leave and are not replaced.

He said he is not coming in as a "change agent."

"Government in Baltimore County works well," Kamenetz said. "At the same time, I recognize that we have some budgetary challenges."

Kamenetz also announced that former county executive Theodore G. Venetoulis will advise his transition to the post now held by term-limited Democrat James T. Smith Jr. Venetoulis, a publisher, was executive in the 1970s.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:12 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

November 2, 2010

Maryland election 2010: Some issues with BaltCo voting machines emerge

Two voting machines at a Parkville precinct were shut down for less than an hour on Election Day morning when three voters trying to choose Republican Baltimore County executive candidate Kenneth C. Holt found the machine was not recording their votes correctly, Arthur Hirsch reports.

UPDATE 6:00 P.M.: The state Republican party send out a news release this afternoon which says about 30 voters have reported similar concerns in more than a dozen counties.

The glitch on the two machines at Pine Grove Middle School was one of a few isolated cases of touch-screen machines not giving voters the choice they wanted, said Katie Brown, director of the county Board of Elections. Brown said she knew of the incident at Pine Grove and two other polling places.

She said the trouble may have been caused by an error in setting up the touch–sensitive screen to record the correct choice. She said it also could be “a matter of the angle of the screen.”

She said election officials are urging voters to review their votes after they have finished making their choices and before they hit the button to cast their ballot.

David Glassman and Joy Rickels, chief judges at Pine Grove, said one voter complained that their choice for Holt instead registered as a “write-in,” and two others said their Holt choice registered as votes for his Democratic opponent, Councilman Kevin Kamenetz. The judges said the problems were corrected and no votes were lost in those three instances.

The machines were shut down for less than an hour at about 11 a.m., Rickels said, then put back into service.

It was not clear if other voters may have made similar errors and not noticed it.

Holt said he’d heard about the problems, and he's been pleased with the Board of Elections’ response.

“They responded quickly and well,” said Holt. “There have not been any widespread concerns.”

He said his own campaign manager, Norman Sines, noticed the trouble during early voting, when twice he tried to vote for Holt and twice the machine registered the choice for Kamenetz. On the third try, the machine recorded the correct vote.

Miriam Barr had to watch her vote carefully, Liz Kay reports, after she had trouble voting at Timonium Elementary Tuesday morning.

At about 10 a.m., she was standing at a machine near the school stage and had successfully chosen her candidate for governor and lieutenant governor. But when Barr, 83, tried to select a senator, Barbara Mikulski’s name popped up.

Continue reading "Maryland election 2010: Some issues with BaltCo voting machines emerge" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:01 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

Maryland election 2010: Dundalk Dems for Ehrlich

Ken Hadfield was turning a long night into a longer Election Day, standing outside Dundalk Middle School handing out leaflets for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. this afternoon and admiring his work from 12 hours before.

“Did you see all the signs?” said Hadfield, who had been part of a group of volunteers who went from about 10 p.m. through the night and into the morning planting hundreds of signs here and at polling places nearby. “You think we have a few Ehrlich signs?”

He counted 175 here, another 75 at Logan Elementary, another 50 at Dundalk Church of the Brethren. He’s a Democrat all the way, he said, and believes in what he called “Democratic values,” which he said are “liberal. … I people in helping people.”

And in that spirit, he said he’s heading a group of Democrats for the Republican former governor, Ehrlich, over the Democratic incumbent, Martin O’Malley.

Ehrlich is “the better man for the job, in this time, in this area,” said Hadfield, whose 25-year-old son, Jordan, mounted a strong primary challenge against longtime state Sen. Norman Stone in District 6.

Three main reasons for his allegiance in this one race, Hadfield said: jobs, jobs and jobs.
“We’ve lost 142,000 jobs” in the Dundalk area over the last 40 years, he said, a fact he doesn’t necessarily blame on every office holder. They just don’t seem to have done enough to bring in new jobs, he said.

“I teach all 12th graders” in Dundalk High School, said Hadfield, who teaches technology. “They can’t wait to get out of Dundalk.”

In his view, “O’Malley has done nothing for this district,” and Ehrlich has a plan to establish business incubators in Dundalk, Essex, Edgemere and Rosedale to help build new companies, and to reform the tax code to give businesses a break.

He was spending the day passing out literature to voters here and nearby precincts, and said he was finding a most receptive audience in an area where Ehrlich – who grew up on the other side of Baltimore County in Arbutus – has always been an unusually popular Republican.

“Ehrlich all the way,” said Hadfield, referring to the response from voters he’s talked with.

Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 1:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

Maryland election 2010: Write-in campaign in BaltCo

Julian Jones recalled an encounter with an enthusiastic supporter for his write-in campaign as he greeted voters at Milford Mill Academy this morning. Unfortunately for Jones, who is running for County Council, the voter had written him in as a candidate for delegate.

"Jones, I wrote you in," the man told him,"because I can't stand that damn [Del. Emmett] Burns."

"That's the challenge of running a write-in campaign. I anticipate a certain percentage of that happening," Jones said, "but I'm encouraged that we'll make it up."

Jones is campaigning for Ken Oliver's 4th District seat. Oliver narrowly defeated him in the the September primary.

Meanwhile, Oliver was making a quick stop at his Liberty Road campaign headquarters before going back to the polls. He doesn't have a Republican opponent.

It was an unusual Election Day for the two-term councilman. He's never experienced a write-in campaign, not even as a volunteer on other campaigns.

"I just find it interesting that people really want to write in," Oliver said. "To me, the public has spoken when they vote in the primary. That's just me. But again, that's their right to write in."

Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 12:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

Maryland election 2010: Brochin's car not cooperating

Democratic state Sen. James Brochin of Baltimore County has been running hard to hold onto his seat for a third term against tough competition this year from conservative Republican Kevin Carney, a small businessman and president of the Maryland Community Builders Foundation. At Riderwood Elementary School this morning, though, his car had apparently given up the fight.

“It won’t start, it just won’t turn over,” said Brochin of his bronze-colored, 2004 Chrysler Sebring, which got him to the school all right shortly before 7 a.m., but when he went to head off to his next stop a few miles away in Ruxton, turning the key in the ignition produced nothing more than a click.

He hitched a ride with a volunteer for the campaign of House of Delegates candidate Oz Bengur, but said he’d be back to see to his ailing vehicle and call a mechanic. Perhaps the trouble was a fuse, he thought aloud.

But could it also be an ominous Election Day omen?

“I don’t know,” said Brochin, climbing into a black Volvo for the next stop. “I’ll tell you after 8 o’clock.”

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

Holt pitches for black vote in Randallstown

Republican Ken Holt worked the crowd at Randallstown High School on Tuesday, hoping to pick up more votes than conventional political wisdom would suggest he could in the predominantly African American community.

Holt, who is running against Democrat Kevin Kamenetz for Baltimore County Executive, said he believed that voters would be intrigued by his proposal to build a Negro League-themed museum and heritage park along the struggling Liberty Road corridor.

"I felt that if I were here and had the opportunity to articulate the vision, then I could get people excited about my candidacy," he said.

He was then interrupted by a woman who said she voted for him. Holt shook her hand and thanked her for the support.

Another voter cut to the chase: What kind of influence would he have on the schools?

Holt assured the woman that he would have an "active role in how the schools operate." He shared his ideas about providing mentors for parents and students, and improving career training in local schools. For example, he'd like for students to get accounting, marketing and retail experience that they could use close to home at the museum and park.

He gave her his business card.

"I hope that you keep in touch with me so we can work together on these issues," Holt said.

She said that she would.

-Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010

October 28, 2010

Bailey offers to bail on BaltCo prosecutor race

Five days before the general election – too late to remove his name from the ballot – Republican Steve Bailey has offered to withdraw from the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s race if his opponent, first-term Democrat Scott D. Shellenberger, agrees to take a pay cut and opt out of the county pension plan.

“It’s time for local leaders like our State’s Attorney, the second highest paid elected official in the State, to step up and lead by example,” Bailey said. “Elected officials should not receive pension benefits that most working folks could only dream of.”

Shellenberger, whose campaign has primarily focused on his law-and-order record, declined.

“Since Day 1, I’ve been saying that this job is about fighting crime and law and order and that’s what this race should be about,” Shellenberger said. “I’ve known Steve Bailey for years. This last-ditch effort at once again talking about an issue that doesn’t apply to this job is just not the Steve Bailey that I know.”

Bailey agrees that for the most part Shellenberger has done a good job as state's attorney, and he wants to expand some of his initiatives. But his campaign platform is heavy on money matters - salary, pension, perks, financial efficacy and campaign backers.

He’d like to see the state’s attorney’s salary cut to $150,000 and for Shellenberger to enroll in a 401(k)-style retirement plan.

-Raven L. Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 4:57 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: In The Counties

October 27, 2010

Opponent hits Del. McConkey on real estate license

Republican Del. Tony McConkey's Democratic challenger unleashed a scathing attack on the incumbent this morning, calling McConkey a “bi-partisan fraudster” in response to reports that that a state regulatory commission suspended his real estate license on Monday after he admitted violating rules designed to protect homeowners during foreclosure proceedings.

At the regulatory hearing, McConkey , a member of the House of Delegates since 2003, admitted that he violated the Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act – a law he voted for twice in the General Assembly. Under the terms of his agreement, McConkey did not admit to “fraud or misrepresentation,” according to a representative from the Maryland Real Estate Commission. He has not been charged with any crime.

A lawyer for three women alleged McConkey tricked them into signing over their homes to him and left them homeless.

Madonna Brennan, who is running against McConkey to represent District 33A, called McConkey a “criminal” and said he “continually victimizes the voters of their district.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Brennan, of Gambrills. “I don’t believe Del. McConkey cares if you are a Republican, Democrat or an Independent. He is a bipartisan fraudster. … You don’t get to be a delegate by day and a criminal night.”

McConkey could not be reached for comment this morning. His legislative assistant Barbara Wilson said he was taking a class for the next three days and was unavailable. She said no one in the office could comment in his absence.

This is not the first time McConkey has been accused of wrongdoing related to his real estate dealings.

In 2009, a county Circuit Court jury ordered McConkey to pay $11,000 to a woman who signed her home over to him, although the jury ruled that McConkey did not intentionally defraud her.

-Nicole Fuller

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:39 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

October 21, 2010

Another poll shows dead heat on slots

Another new poll on slots shows that likely Anne Arundel County voters are split on their support for a ballot referendum that will determine whether a slots parlor will be built near Arundel Mills mall.

The newly released poll shows 42 percent of county voters said they would vote for the ballot referendum, Question A, while 42 percent said they were would vote against it.

Another 16 percent of likely voters said they were undecided. Dan Nataf, director of the Center for the Study of Local Politics at Anne Arundel Community College, conducted the poll of 415 likely voters from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14.

On Wednesday, Pollster Patrick Gonzales released numbers showing that a slim majority of Anne Arundel County voters favor installing a slots emporium at the Arundel Mills Mall, but the margin is within the sampling error.

The passage of Question A would affirm zoning law passed by the County Council and allow the Cordish Cos. to construct that state’s most lucrative slots parlor. Opponents of Question A have argued the mall is an inappropriate venue for gambling, and would increase traffic and crime around the mall.

The poll also asked voters who they would vote for in the race for county executive. Respondents favored current County Executive John R. Leopold, who is running for re-election, over the Democratic challenger Joanna L. Conti, an Annapolis business executive. Leopold received 59 percent, Conti 37 percent and Michael Shay, the Green Party candidate received 4 percent.

In the governor’s race, the poll also shows county voters favoring Republican Robert L. Ehrlich over Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. Ehrlich received 59 percentage points and O’Malley got 42.

-Nicole Fuller

Posted by Andy Rosen at 1:58 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: In The Counties, Slots

Cordish touts business support on Arundel slots

With a recent poll a showing an even split in public opinion on slots at Arundel Mills mall, developer David Cordish held a press conference at a Millersville contracting company headquarters Wednesday to showcase support in the business community for his planned casino.

The Cordish Cos. Chairman is asking Anne Arundel County voters to support Question A on the Nov. 2 ballot. If passed, Cordish can proceed with plans to build a 4,750-machine slots parlor and entertainment complex adjacent to the mall.

Cordish, with about 30 county business leaders who support the planned casino, stressed the project would bring 4,000 jobs and millions to the county and state at the gathering outside of Reliable Contracting.

Cordish said he was encouraged by the polling, which "indicated momentum," but added, "We're not going to let up.

Cordish also announced that he has invited business owners to invest in the casino as partners.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Hanover-based Commercial Interiors, an 18-year-old general contracting company, said he supports the project and "hopes to get some work from it."
"This is an important project for Anne Arundel County," Johnson said. "It will put a lot of people to work."

Jerry South, CEO of Annapolis-based Towne Park, said, Gaming in Maryland will happen. Let's get our fair share."

-Nicole Fuller

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:14 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: In The Counties, Slots

October 19, 2010

Holt releases BaltCo economic development plan

Republican Baltimore County executive candidate Kenneth C. Holt has released a 7-point economic development program designed to "expand career choices" for county residents, according to a statement released by the campaign.

The statement released by Holt, a Kingsville investments executive who is running against Democratic Councilman Kevin Kamenetz in the Nov. 2 general election, proposes continuing efforts already being pursued by the county's Department of Economic Development and includes new initiatives.

"I'm trying to articulate a vision," Holt said in an interview. "I'm not saying these are exclusive, I'm not saying the Department of Economic Development doesn't have good ideas. They do."

The freshest proposals call for programs Holt has advocated in public forums and in interviews, including a Negro League Baseball Museum and a performing arts center on Liberty Road, and promoting "agritourism" along the lines of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the wine regions of California.

A senior vice president with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Holt said he wants to create more county "enterprise zones," or districts identified as needing help in boosting business. Such zones now exist in the southeast and southwest ends of the county, where businesses moving there can be eligible for county and state tax credits.

Continue reading "Holt releases BaltCo economic development plan" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:45 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties

October 7, 2010

Holt plans to attend Bartenfelder supporters rally

Baltimore County councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, who lost the race for the Democratic nomination for county executive last month, has apparently invited the Republican nominee to attend a gathering for his supporters on Sunday in Kingsville.

Kenneth C. Holt, who ran unopposed for the GOP nomination, said Bartenfelder asked him about a week ago to attend the late afternoon event at the fire station in Kingsville, but would not say why he wanted him to be there or whether he would endorse him in his general election contest with Bartenfelder's former opponent, councilman Kevin Kamenetz of Owings Mills.

"He asked me to be there, and I will be there," said Holt, 59, of Kingsville, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates. "He's given no indication what he's going to say to me or to the audience."

Bartenfelder could not be reached for comment, but he said last week that it was "pretty unlikely" that he would endorse Kamenetz. Bartenfelder said he was unhappy with Kamenetz's campaign advertisements, which he considered misleading about his record.

Holt said he and Bartenfelder struck up a friendship while attending the candidates' forums, and have been talking regularly since the primary. He said he's found his fellow east-sider Bartenfelder to be an "excellent counselor" on issues and conducting his campaign.

"He's a farmer, I'm a farmer," said Holt, who raises beef cattle on 120-acres, and is now on leave from his position as a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. "We have many similarities. We're both conservative. There's just a natural affinity between us."

-Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:06 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: In The Counties

October 5, 2010

Cordish: O'Malley should support Arundel casino

Baltimore developer David Cordish, who wants to build the state’s largest slots casino in Anne Arundel County, waded into the governor’s race today, criticizing Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley for supporting opponents of Cordish’s planned casino at Arundel Mills mall.

“The only thing I can say about Gov. O’Malley’s position is he must apparently want to raise taxes,” said Cordish, citing projections that the proposed casino would provide millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Anne Arundel County voters will consider a referendum on zoning for slots on the November ballot. O’Malley has said he thinks racetracks are better forums for slots than shopping center and voiced sympathy for the residents who live near the mall, and mostly oppose the casino.

Cordish hired Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's law firm last year to do public relations work in Anne Arundel -- something the O'Malley campaign highlighted in a radio ad released today.

Continue reading "Cordish: O'Malley should support Arundel casino" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

Former Bartenfelder backer endorses Kamenetz

The Baltimore Sun's Raven Hill reports:

Defeated Baltimore County Council candidate Bill Paulshock, who ran on Joe Bartenfelder’s ticket in the primary, plans to back Kevin Kamenetz in the general election.

Though he said he will not make an endorsement in the 5th District race between fellow Democrat Mike Ertel and Republican David Marks, he left little doubt about where his loyalties lie.

“I feel David is the most qualified at this point,” said Paulshock, adding that he’s known Marks for years through his work on various committees and community organizations. “I’ve seen firsthand how he works. He’s very professional. He cares about people. If I had to make a choice, David is the most qualified.”

Paulshock asked his backers to support Kamenetz in a statement that outlines his reasons:

“My decision to endorse Kevin for County Executive was an easy decision for me. Over the past year of campaigning, I have come to realize the type of leader that it takes to run Baltimore County Government. That leader must be experienced; possess the knowledge and capability to oversee the operations of Government; and must surround himself with professional and experienced personnel. Kevin Kamenetz satisfies all of these requirements.”

The Kamenetz endorsement shouldn’t be taken as a knock against Bartenfelder, he said.

Continue reading "Former Bartenfelder backer endorses Kamenetz" »

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 5:00 AM | | Comments (2)

September 26, 2010

County executive banner pops up in city limits

Baltimore's Bolton Hill is home to many politically active families, so it's no surprise to see candidate placards propped in windows and staked in tiny front lawns.

But one for Baltimore County executive?

Though city residents may do a double take when spotting Kevin Kamenetz's distinctive purple-and-yellow sign on a home in downtown Baltimore, there's an easy explanation: His brother lives there.

In May, The Sun wrote about the renovated Bolton Hill home of Darma and Greg Kamenetz. They owned the property for years but, after a fire, renovated it and moved in.

Greg Kamenetz is managing partner of a real estate development company and owner of a property management company. Kevin Kamenetz, a Democratic county council member, faces Republican Ken Holt in the Nov. 2 county executive election.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 11:12 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

September 22, 2010

East siders back Kamenetz; still no Bartenfelder

Kevin Kamenetz, the Democratic Baltimore County executive candidate from Owings Mills, picked up some prominent support from the east side of the county Wednesday. His campaign announced that he had secured the backing of several big east side politicians and political clubs.

But -- we've said this before -- Kamenetz is still missing one big piece in the east side Democratic puzzle: his primary opponent Joseph Bartenfelder. Bartenfelder, a county councilman from Fullerton, has so far been silent on his plans for the general election. Kamenetz faces Republican former Del. Ken Holt.

Here's the list of candidates who got behind Kamenetz today, from the campaign: State Senator Norman Stone, Delegates Joseph “Sonny” Minnick, John Olszewski Jr., and Mike Weir Jr, and Council Chair John Olszewski Sr. He also won the support of the Battle Grove Democratic Club, New Seventh Democratic Club, County Seal Democratic Club and the Eastern Baltimore County Democratic Club.

Arthur Hirsch wrote a big story about the importance of geography in Baltimore County elections, and it appears that Kamenetz was just strong enough on the east side to prevent Bartenfelder from erasing his advantages elsewhere.

Interestingly, in that story, a member of the Battle Grove club made a pretty strong statement.

Graham "Butch" Henry, a longtime member of the Battle Grove Democratic Club in Dundalk, was flabbergasted when he heard that his district's councilman, John Olszewski Sr., had endorsed Kamenetz. He would have expected his fellow east-sider to back Bartenfelder, a farmer and former state delegate from Fullerton.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," said Henry. He said Olszewski's decision has scrambled the local political alliance, and "disrupted this whole area, as far as I'm concerned."

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:11 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

Candidate seeks to boot Smith from BaltCo slate

Baltimore County Executive James T Smith Jr. is allowed to continue to use his campaign war chest to transfer cash to candidates for election in November, according to the State Board of Elections, even though the term-limited Smith is not on the ballot.

Steve Bailey, the Republican candidate for Baltimore County State's Attorney, said in a news release that he had asked the elections board to remove Smith, a Democrat, from the “Baltimore County Victory Slate” because he's not running for office this fall. Slates essentially allow the candidates that comprise them to transfer unlimited amounts of money to one another.

The victory slate includes Bailey’s November opponent, incumbent State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, as well as several County Council and General Assembly candidates. Bailey says donations from Smith were a big help for Shellenberger in his 2006 faceoff with Bailey. Here's a list of the candidates on the victory slate.

Smith had about $967,000 cash on hand, according to a report filed early this month, but isn't running for anything. But because Smith has an active campaign committee, he remains a candidate, according to elections officials; it doesn't matter if he's on the ballot this cycle.

“A candidate is free to choose to run for a Baltimore City, county or state office with the same authorized candidate campaign committee,” Jared DeMarinis, candidacy and campaign finance director for the elections board, wrote in a letter to Bailey. “If the term 'candidate’ was limited to filed individuals appearing on the ballot, then no candidate would be permitted to fundraise or make expenditures except after filing a certificate of candidacy.”

Bailey was not satisfied with the explanation, and said in the release that he asked Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler’s office to review the reasoning. However, a spokeswoman said the office would only weigh in if asked for advice by the elections board — which as a state agency is the attorney general’s client. Bailey could not be reached for comment.

His news release quotes attorney Jonathon Shurberg, who says, “The Board of Elections position to allow Jim Smith to participate in a slate, without filing a certificate of candidacy for public office, flies in the face of the plain language of the law. The Board of Elections interpretation creates a loophole that allows any individual, not just candidates, to circumvent the limits on campaign contributions.”

If Smith wasn't on the slate, he'd be limited to $6,000 for this election in contributions from his account to other candidates he supports.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance, In The Counties

September 20, 2010

Kamenetz solidifies more Dem support

Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, the Democratic nominee for Baltimore County Executive, got the endorsement of a group of Democratic county legal officials, as he continues to try to rally his party around him after his primary defeat of fellow Councilman Joe Bartenfelder.

The so-called "Courthouse Team" includes State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Register of Wills Grace Connolly, Orphans Court Judges Colleen Cavanaugh, Bill Evans, and Theresa Lawler, and Sheriff Jay Fisher.

In a statement, Connolly cited Kamenetz’ ability to work well with others; Kamenetz sometimes comes off as brash, and the campaign is apparently looking to show him as more personable.

“I’ve known Kevin for over 30 years, and he’s the most qualified person for this job,” Connolly said.

Still no word on the big fish in the endorsement pond. Joe Bartenfelder still hasn't responded to questions about whether he will get behind Kamenetz, who defeated him in what was a pretty intense campaign.

Kamenetz is facing former delegate and finance executive Ken Holt in November's general election.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:01 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: In The Counties

September 17, 2010

A.G.'s office will work quickly on Cecil slots inquiry

The office of state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said Friday it would work “expeditiously” to provide legal guidance to state regulators inquiring into allegations that Penn National Gaming inappropriately interfered with another company’s plans for a slots casino in Anne Arundel County.

Penn National has approval to open the state’s first slots parlor later this month in Cecil County, but says it might wait for the results of the inquiry before it cuts any ribbons. Penn National co-owns the Maryland Jockey Club, which has financed a campaign against Cordish’s proposed project, in hopes of steering Anne Arundel’s sole slots license to Laurel race track.

“We understand there’s an urgency to this decision so we will try to accommodate it,” said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

The request, from Stephen L. Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery, asks the attorney general to issue a ruling on whether Penn National’s actions violate the RFP, and if so, can the lottery commission take action, said Guillory.

Representatives for Penn National have said the inquiry could delay the planned Sept. 30 opening of its 1,500-slots parlor in Perryville, saying they wanted to await the opinion before moving forward, but declined Friday to offer specifics about the timeline of the casino’s opening.

"We're still assessing all of our options," said Karen M. Bailey, a spokeswoman for Penn National.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:43 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties, Slots

Ertel claims BaltCo win; Paulshock hasn't conceded

Democrat Mike Ertel is declaring victory in the Democratic primary in District 5 for the Baltimore County Council. He still leads his closest opponent, Bill Paulshock, by a small but substantial margin, but Paulshock hasn't conceded. He wants to see overseas and provisional ballots first, he told Raven Hill today.

The latest results show Ertel ahead by 321 votes with all absentee ballots counted. There did not appear to be enough provisional votes to swing the outcome, but Paulshock still has the option to request a recount (though depending on the margin, he may have to pay for it).

Ertel's ready to move on and face Republican David Marks.

"I'd like to thank Bill Paulshock and Gordon Harden for their efforts and their [genuine] concern about the issues affecting the 5th district.," Ertel wrote in a letter to supporters "It was a tough race, but I look forward to unifying the district and moving forward together."

Posted by Andy Rosen at 4:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Primaries 2010

Kamenetz gets union that supported Bartenfelder

the Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO has shifted its support to Democratic Baltimore County executive candidate Kevin Kamenetz, just days after he won a bruising primary contest against Joseph Bartenfelder, the large union's first choice for the top local government post.

Bartenfelder and his advisers haven't said whether the departing councilman will endorse Kamenetz, also a member of the County Council since 1994. The two colleagues went through a hard-fought campaign, and some Bartenfelder advisers cited negative campaigning as a concern.

Kamenetz faces Republican former delegate and finance executive Ken Holt in November's general election.

The AFL-CIO was quick to shift its support. In a release, Ernie Grecco, President of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council, said, “We look forward to having a dialogue with Kevin and working to get him elected the next County Executive and making Baltimore County not only a great place to live but also a great place to work.”

The union represents thousands of workers, and is made up of locals including the Baltimore County Professional Firefighters Association, Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council, Maryland State United Auto Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers, Plumbers and Steamfitters, and the Laborers International Union of North America.

The firefighters union had been specifically vocal in its support of Bartenfelder.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:00 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: In The Counties, Primaries 2010

September 16, 2010

Second Cordish slots ad hits Laurel Park

The Cordish-Cos.-backed group, “Jobs & Revenue for Anne Arundel County” released its second television advertisement Thursday, in its media blitz for passage of a slots referendum on its slots parlor at Arundel Mills mall on the November ballot.

The ad hits on the theme that Cordish has promoted -- that Laurel Park, whose owners are helping finance the opposition to the project, is not a viable alternative to the Arundel Mills plan. Project opponents are largely fighting based on opposition to the location at a mall. The ad shows a footprint of the building, separate from the mall.

Check out Nicole Fuller's story on how the continuing battle over Arundel Mills could delay the state's planned first slots parlor in Perryville.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 8:56 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: In The Counties, Slots

September 15, 2010

BaltCo exec: Holt comes out swinging at Kamenetz

Kenneth C. Holt, the Republican candidate for Baltimore County executive , has fired the first shots of the general election campaign, saying his Democratic opponent , Kevin Kamenetz, ran an “ugly campaign” that was not relevant to the economic problems facing the county.

Holt, of Kingsville, who ran unopposed for his party’s nomination in yesterday’s primary, said this morning that Kamenetz’s successful campaign against his fellow county councilman, Joseph Bartenfelder was “based on attack ads, false statements, a lot of information that was not honest. …There’s no place for this in a time of economic crisis. If they don’t think there’s an economic crisis, they’re not fit to lead.”

Given that Kamenetz, a 52-year-old lawyer from Owings Mills, spent more than $1 million in the primary, Holt said his vote total amounts to a “poor performance.”

A former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Holt, 59, said the poor primary turnout of Democratic voters suggests that “Democrats are not too excited about their candidates, their prospects. Republicans are excited.”

The investments executive said it seems an opportune time for the county to elect only its third Republican executive since the position was established as part of charter revision in the late 1950s. While Kamenetz has shown his strength as a fundraiser, Holt said he was not concerned about that.

“I don’t see where money had any relevance to the outcomes,” he said, pointing to a couple of strong low-budget primary campaigns by Republicans running for the County Council: Todd Huff against incumbent T. Bryan McIntire in District 3 and Ryan Nawrocki against Andrew Peet for an open seat in District 6.

“We are right and ready to win this election,” said Holt. “No one should underestimate our ability to do so.”

-Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:40 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010, In The Counties, Primaries 2010

September 14, 2010

Single incumbent leads early for BaltCo Council

Incomplete early voting leaders from reporter Raven Hill at the Baltimore County Board of Elections. Early voting saw 12,896 ballots cast (about 3.1 percent of voters).

District 1: Tom Quirk (D)

District 2: Vicki Almond (D)

District 3: Todd Huff (R)

District 4: Leronia Josey (D)

District 5: Bill Paulshock (D)

District 6: Cathy Bevins (D), Ryan Nawrocki (R)

District 7: John Olszewski Sr. (D)

Posted by Andy Rosen at 8:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Primaries 2010

So-called 'Team Obama' weighs in on BaltCo

Sarah Palin was the first national political figure to weigh in on Maryland politics by endorsing former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's Republican primary opponent, Brian Murphy.

Then her former 2008 running mate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, threw his weight behind Ehrlich. Now, though, the question is: has President Obama weighed in with a slate of Democrats from Gov. Martin O'Malley to Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher?

Probably not. But word is that mailers and T-shirts showing a list of candidates have been circulating in several precincts in Baltimore County today saying he has.

With the heading "Team Obama," the list also includes Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for county executive, Suzanne Mensh, running for Baltimore County Circuit Court clerk, Kenneth N. Oliver, who is seeking re-election to the County Council, and four candidates seeking re-election in the 10th Legislative District: Sen. Delores G. Kelley and delegates Emmett C. Burns, Adrienne A. Jones and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.
The material is identified as coming from "The Freedom to Choose Reginald Hill, Chairman."

The organization is shown as a PAC on the State Board of Elections Web site going back at least to the 2002 election cycle, the earliest one listed on the site. So far this year, the PAC reported $3,452 in contributions, but no expenses.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:26 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties, Primaries 2010

Already a long day in BaltoCo, despite low turnout

At 2 p.m. the director of the Baltimore County Board of Elections was on her “third wind” and her fifth Diet Coke, having arrived at work shortly after 5 a.m. to begin a day that would go into night.

“It’s diet, so I’m OK,” said Katie A. Brown, who heads a primary day staff of 60, including the five-member board and 16 temporary troops called in for the election season. “I’ve been here as late as five in the morning” some election days, she said.

This day, there’s a crowded field of candidates for House seats on the east side’s District 6, and a Senate race where a 25-year-old newcomer to elective politics, Jordan Hadfield, was running hard against Norman R. Stone Jr. who has been in the office for 43 years. But the prevailing wisdom in the county was that the main attraction for voters today was the race for Democratic nomination for county executive, pitting two veteran councilmen — Kevin Kamenetz and Joseph Bartenfelder — in what was expected to be the closest primary contest for the office in more than 30 years.

A third candidate, Ronald E. Harvey, a retired county personnel analyst, has done little campaigning and was expected to place a distant third.

The winner will face the unopposed Republican, Kenneth Holt, an investments executive and former state delegate, in the general election Nov. 2.

Brown said based on what she’d heard from four or five polling places, it appeared the turnout was running about 200 voters per precinct, or less than 10 percent. She said that’s probably about the usual for a primary day from morning to early afternoon.

Voting was expected to pick up after 6 p.m. as people started getting home from work. She said she expected about 25 or 30 percent turnout for the primary.

-Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Primaries 2010

Bartenfelder hitting every polling place he can

Talk about taking the pressure casually. Baltimore County executive candidate Joseph Bartenfelder voted this morning in his undershirt at the Fullerton Fire Station, although that wasn't exactly the plan. They made him remove his black campaign polo shirt before he stepped to the voting booth in deference to the rule against electioneering in a polling place.

So there the county councilman and former member of the Maryland House of Delegates
stood in his white T-shirt, olive drab khakis and athletic shoes casting his vote in his race against fellow council member Kevin Kamenetz, who was working the polls in a navy pinstripe suit, tie and black loafers.

Bartenfelder slipped the polo shirt back on after voting, the 131st Democrat to cast a ballot at the fire station by a bit after 11 a.m. It was the ninth stop of his morning polling place tour on his east-side home turf before heading over the west side.

“It’s a pretty day, it’s a great day for everybody to get out and vote,” said Bartenfelder, 53, a farmer from Fullerton, four-term county councilman and former state delegate. Kamenetz, an Owings Mills attorney who had planned to spend a good part of the day on his own west-side turf.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 12:06 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010, In The Counties, Primaries 2010

Veteran BaltCo voters look for Jim Smith qualities

Voters in the Owings Mills said that when they cast their primary ballots for county executive Tuesday, they chose a candidate that most closely resembled the leadership Baltimore County has been afforded for the last six years.

Issues such as leadership presence, education and smart growth were among those on residents’ minds when they headed to polls at Owings Mills High after the early morning rush Tuesday morning.

“It’s a shame that Jim Smith decided to enjoy life more,” joked Sheila Hoster, 62, of Owings Mills.

Hoster said that education brought her to the primary polls because “no matter how you look at it, there are too many students slipping through the cracks, and we need more programs for them.”

She said she believed that Baltimore County Councilman Joe Bartenfelder had the right ideas for the job.

Carla Ward, 45, of Owings Mills also said she cast her ballot with education at the forefront, particularly in how the next county executive will handle accommodating the exorbitant amount of population growth taking place in the county. She also said that there needed to be more investment in existing business hubs, such as the dilapidated Owings Mills Mall.

Ward said that Smith “served us well in the county executive seat,” commending him for opening new schools, and keeping the county fiscally sound. But, the time for change is welcomed, she said, stopping short of naming who she thought was the next best candidate for the job.

“I’ve become weary of the status quo, so I’m looking for a change agent in the county executive office,” she said.

When asked what he looked for in a candidate, 70-year-old A. Pinkney, a Democrat, said that he “would like to see someone follow in Jim Smith’s footsteps." He said he wanted the new county executive to continue to be “in and around all the things happening in the county.”

-- Erica L. Green

Posted by Maryann James at 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)

Light turnout early, as Kamenetz starts on west side

Baltimore County executive candidate Kevin Kamenetz put on the navy pinstripe suit, the black loafers, powder blue shirt and blue patterned necktie and headed out shortly before 7 this morning to begin his rounds of polling places. He planned seven stops from his home turf on the west side to the central part of the county in the 13 hours until the polls close and this phase of the campaign ends.

First stop Har Sinai Congregation as the polls opened at 7, minutes from Kamenetz’s home in Owings Mills, then on to Fort Garrison Elementary School in Pikesville, where the county councilman stood out front greeting voters, who at about 9 a.m. were greatly outnumbered by poll workers.

“This traditionally has been one of my strongest precincts,” said Kamenetz, 52, a lawyer who has served on the council since December, 1994. His chief opponent for the Democratic nomination, Joseph Bartenfelder, a former state delegate from the east side of the county, took his seat on the council at the same time. Bartenfelder hit nine precincts on the east side in the morning before heading over to the western part of the county.

“This is the precinct that got me elected in 1994, and they’ve been very supportive ever since,” said Kamenetz.

So far, there were precious few voters to support anyone at the school on Woodvalley Drive, the location of two election precincts – one in a multi-purpose room, one in the cafeteria -- with a combined registration of more than 5,000 voters, the overwhelming number of them Democrats.

Continue reading "Light turnout early, as Kamenetz starts on west side" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010, In The Counties, Primaries 2010

September 13, 2010

County Council candidate touts her religion

Baltimore Sun colleague Arthur Hirsch reports:

In the race for the Baltimore County Council in District 2, with its large Jewish population, identity politics is never far below the surface.

Candidate Sherrie Becker – one of six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the open seat being vacated by county executive candidate Kevin Kamenetz -- made a point of saying in upper case letters in a recent direct mail flier that she is the “ONLY JEWISH WOMAN CANDIDATE” in the contest.

“It’s who I am, I’m proud of who I am,” Becker, who is executive director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, said on Sunday. “It’s one of the things that people need to know about me.”

She quickly added that “I have always asked people to vote for me because I’m the most qualified candidate.” Because she mentioned her religion “does not mean I’m asking people to vote for me for that reason.”

She said the mailer went out in late August to Democratic voters in three district zip codes that have had the highest voter turnout in recent elections. She could not say how many households that would be.

She said part of the content of the mailer was dictated by the fact that the primary election falls between the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and was meant to wish voters a happy new year. That phrase in Hebrew, “L’Shana Tova,” appears on the mailer.

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Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 5:00 AM | | Comments (13)

September 7, 2010

BaltCo Council hopeful Harden had tax trouble

Democratic Baltimore County Council candidate Gordon Harden acknowledged Tuesday that he didn’t pay state and federal income taxes between 1997 and 2005, troubles that led to heavy government penalties.

Harden said his taxes were about 25 to 30 percent of the $144,000 that he eventually paid. The remaining amount was interest and penalties. Harden said a rough divorce left him in serious financial straits with three children to raise on his own. The news website Lutherville-Timonium Patch reported the troubles, which led to multiple tax liens on his property.

“I didn’t pay taxes so I could pay my kids’ tuition and keep my people working,” said Harden, who owned a Nationwide Insurance agency in Owings Mills before retiring earlier this year. “I thought that financially things would get better but they didn’t for three or four years. It was a horrible time. I never thought it would get so bad.”

Harden, of Towson, said he had limited options.

“I would’ve had to tell my kids that they couldn’t go to college. This was the only way I could get them there,” he said. Two of his three children graduated from college.

Continue reading "BaltCo Council hopeful Harden had tax trouble" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:53 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: In The Counties

August 27, 2010

Glenn Beck angers Arundel MLK event observers

Civil rights leaders across Maryland plan to commemorate the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech Saturday at a rally on the grounds of Anne Arundel Community College.

Hundreds of attendees are expected at the noon event at the King memorial statue on the Arnold campus, which coincides with events across the country, including a controversial rally hosted by conservative commentator Glenn Beck and featuring former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington — the site of King’s iconic 1963 speech.

Carl O. Snowden, chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Committee, which organized the Maryland event, said news of the Washington rally has energized Marylanders to come out in greater numbers to celebrate King at the community college. Snowden said he has fielded dozens of calls from people angry that Beck would hold a rally there on the anniversary of the famous speech, but he sees the controversy as an opportunity to galvanize voters ahead of the state’s gubernatorial race and the country’s mid-term elections.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:22 PM | | Comments (43)
Categories: In The Counties

A congeniality contest for Balto. Co. exec?

Running Baltimore County government is a big job, and one that involves many technical decisions: which roads to fix, which projects to fund, how to structure agencies. Winning the job, however, may be less about policy than it is about personality.

The three Democrats who are vying for a chance to take on Republican Ken Holt in November offer an interesting comparison in disposition, as Arthur Hirsch writes in a package of profiles in today's paper.

Joe Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz, both 15-year county councilmen, come off as an affable, folksy farmer and an intense, detail-oriented lawyer, respectively. Ron Harvey, a 28-year county human resources veteran, doesn't offer handshakes, but speaks with experience about how the machinery of county government operates.

Click below for some excerpts.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:42 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties

August 26, 2010

Cordish launches campaign for Arundel Mills casino

The Cordish-Cos. backed group pushing for passage of a referendum allowing slots at Arundel Mills mall on Thursday announced the launch of its campaign committee -- called “Jobs and Revenue for Anne Arundel County.”

The group is pushing for the passage of Question A on the November ballot in Anne Arundel, which would uphold the project’s requisite zoning already approved by the county council and allow Cordish to build a 4,750-slots parlor near the mall.

In a statement, the group stressed its makeup of a broad range of supporters, including county police and fire unions and taxpayers who “who support the building of a world class gaming and entertainment facility in the Arundel Mills Commercial District to fund education, public safety and infrastructure needs in Maryland and Anne Arundel County.”

The coalition is being financed by the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., which lost a legal battle against the ballot question before the state’s highest court, which ruled that the referendum was legal. Pushing for a “No” vote on the ballot question is “No Slots at the Mall,” which is funded by the Maryland Jockey Club.

Continue reading "Cordish launches campaign for Arundel Mills casino" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 4:34 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: In The Counties

August 24, 2010

Balto. Co. police union endorses Bartenfelder

Baltimore County executive candidate Joseph Bartenfelder won the last of the major county labor endorsements Monday night, as the union representing 1,900 police officers voted unanimously to support him in his race for the Democratic nomination with fellow veteran County Council member, Kevin Kamenetz.

Sgt. Cole Weston, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, said more than 100 members gathered at the union's headquarters Monday night to back Bartenfelder, who has already won the endorsements of the Baltimore County Professional Firefighters Association and the Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO, representing more than 180 separate locals. Kamenetz is supported by the Teachers Association of Baltimore County and the Laborers International Union of North America.

"Through Joe's tenure, he's established himself professionally and personally with a number of our members in issues that are important to us," said Weston.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 12:00 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: In The Counties

August 20, 2010

Balto. Co. police criticize candidate's use of badge

Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson has demanded that District 7 County Council candidate Charles "Buzz" Beeler stop using a police badge in campaign literature, but Beeler says he's going to keep using the insignia.

The chief threatened legal action in an Aug. 11 letter to Beeler, a 39-year veteran officer, if he did not immediately stop using the badge and retrieve any fliers or mailers with the symbol.

An excerpt: “The police department's badge and patch are trademark protected and can only be used in connection with police services and with agency approval. … Your immediate compliance is essential to avoid litigation in this matter.”

Beeler said he will continue to use the badge. He accused the chief of playing politics, noting that Johnson supports County Executive candidate Kevin Kamenetz, whom Beeler’s opponent, Councilman John Olszewski, has endorsed. District 7 includes Dundalk and Essex.

“I am not intimidated nor will I be bullied,” Beeler said. “Maybe the Chief should (have) noted my other campaign symbol, boxing gloves.”

-Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties

BaltCo Councilman Oliver backs Bartenfelder

Baltimore County executive candidate Joseph Bartenfelder picked up some support in his chief opponent’s backyard as he has won the endorsement of a fellow County Councilman, Kenneth N. Oliver, of the west side.

Before Oliver’s district — which extends from the city line west to the Howard and Carroll County border — was established in 2002 to create a minority jurisdiction, part of it was represented by Kevin Kamenetz, the councilman from the west-side District 2, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination for county executive.

In a press release, Oliver praised Bartenfelder for supporting a number of projects in District 4, including Storyville Library in Woodlawn and a Sonic drive-in restaurant on Liberty Road that opened this month. Oliver said in the statement that Bartenfelder “recognizes the importance of providing for education and jobs within our community. He does this by continually supporting the revitalization efforts while recognizing the need for Baltimore County to provide the highest level of services to our citizens.”

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

August 18, 2010

GOP overtakes Dems in Harford registration

Registered Republicans outnumber their Democratic counterparts in Harford County for the first time in recent memory. The latest figures show a difference of 28 voters, an increase that will likely continue until registration ends on Tuesday, said James Massey, director of the county board of elections.

“This is the first time ever,” Massey said. “Republicans got close a few times before but never exceeded Democrats. We have been seeing this trend for years.”

He attributes the change to those switching parties to vote in numerous Republican primary races, rather than to new registrations, which he said are fairly flat.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:57 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: In The Counties

August 17, 2010

Jim Smith campaign report shows thousands spent on research

Outgoing Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. began the year with a pile of cash – more than $1 million – and designs on a state Senate seat.

Even though Smith, a Democrat, had moved to the county's District 7 in preparation for a Senate run, he announced in June that he was opting out of the race. At the time, political observers speculated that his internal polling showed he couldn't win the seat. Smith has said his numbers were strong.

His latest campaign report reveals that he spent about $75,000 on campaign research and consultants in the final months that he was weighing a Senate run. He raised no money between Jan. 20 and Aug. 10 and has about $974,000 left in the bank, his report shows.

Smith, who is leaving the county executive office because of term limits, has vowed to stay out of the contentious battle for county his job.

Democratic county council members Joseph Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz are vying for the seat, along with Republican Ken Holt. Smith’s campaign finance report shows no sign that he’s serving up cash to either Bartenfelder or Kamenetz. But he has transferred money to one Baltimore County politician.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 5:05 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance, In The Counties

Howard: Ulman outraises Kittleman for exec

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, a Democrat running for re-election, has added to a sizable cash advantage over challenger Trent Kittleman this year.

Ulman reported having $713,424 on hand in campaign finance reports filed Tuesday, compared to $23,297 for Republican Trent Kittleman, who remained undaunted.

“I wish it were more,” Kittleman said, adding that “running against an entrenched incumbent in such a Democratic state puts roadblocks in the way.” But she predicted a close race in November.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:12 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010, Elections, In The Counties

August 8, 2010

Kamenetz, Bartenfelder invade each other's turf

In Dundalk and Essex, they're getting to know Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, who is from way over on the West Side of Baltimore County. In Pikesville and along Liberty Road, they're taking a closer look at Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, from way over on the East Side.

Baltimore Sun colleague Arthur Hirsch takes a look at efforts by the two best-known candidates for Baltimore County executive to make inroads into each other's home turf:

East or west allegiances might not be the potent force that some older political players suggest, but the fallout from one prominent east-side politician's endorsement of Kamenetz, a lawyer from Owings Mills, shows that some political activists still expect more regional loyalty.

Graham "Butch" Henry, a longtime member of the Battle Grove Democratic Club in Dundalk, was flabbergasted when he heard that his district's councilman, John Olszewski Sr., had endorsed Kamenetz. He would have expected his fellow east-sider to back Bartenfelder, a farmer and former state delegate from Fullerton.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," said Henry. He said Olszewski's decision has scrambled the local political alliance, and "disrupted this whole area, as far as I'm concerned."

Kamenetz and Bartenfelder have each won support in their opponent's backyard from local officials who have opened doors. One step at a time, they're learning about communities where they have not sought votes before. The candidates are hoping to bridge distances of geography — with the county's extreme east and west poles separated by a city in between — as well as the culture gap between places such as the affluent suburb of Ruxton and working-class Dundalk.

Read more about Bartenfelder's and Kamenetz's campaign strategies at

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 5:00 AM | | Comments (0)

August 6, 2010

Balto. Co. sign fight in court today

A federal judge this afternoon is scheduled to hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of Baltimore County's regulations on political signs in a lawsuit filed this spring by a man who was ordered by the county to remove a campaign sign from his lawn.

Stephen V. Kolbe of Dulaney Valley Road wants the U.S. District Court to block enforcement of several provisions of the county sign code, including the rules restricting the size of political signs based on the zoning of the property and the rule allowing such signs only 45 days before an election.

Kolbe, who runs a computer consulting business out of his home, took down the 4-by-8, blue-and-white sign backing former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in his re-match with Gov. Martin O'Malley. The rules say that in his residential area, Kolbe cannot display a sign larger than 8 square feet.

Continue reading "Balto. Co. sign fight in court today" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:37 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties

July 28, 2010

Kamenetz gets southwest Dem club endorsement

Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz has been endorsed by the Democratic club in a politically conservative part of the county where his chief opponent, Joseph Bartenfelder, is expected to make a strong showing.

The Southwest Baltimore County Democratic Club backed Kamenetz Monday night by a vote of 22-14 after hearing a brief statement from Kamenetz during a meeting at the Bloomsbury Community Center in Catonsville. Bartenfelder, who has served alongside Kamenetz on the council since 1994, did not attend the session.

Club president Margaret Henn said she was "a little bit surprised" by the outcome, but "I wouldn't say I was knocked over ... I thought Joe might have done a little better."

Vice president Julia Graham cautioned against reading too much into the very small sample.

Continue reading "Kamenetz gets southwest Dem club endorsement " »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

July 27, 2010

Howard GOP falling short in tax referendum drive

Republicans in Howard County are having trouble attracting enough support for a referendum that would make it more difficult to increase local taxes, Larry Carson writes this week in his county political notebook.

While most readers are probably familiar with the referendum that will decide the fate of slots in Anne Arundel County, Howard Republicans have been working on their own local ballot question. They're trying to improve their prospects with a last-minute mailing campaign

Click below for more from Larry Carson.

Continue reading "Howard GOP falling short in tax referendum drive" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

July 20, 2010

High court: Arundel slots referendum is legal

Just hours after hearing arguments, Maryland's highest court ruled Tuesday that a referendum on whether to allow slots at the Arundel Mills mall can move forward, Baltimore Sun colleague Nicole Fuller reports.

The Court of Appeals issued the ruling after justices asking pointed questions about the reasoning behind a lower court ruling that blocked the referendum.

Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth had ruled last month that the referendum was illegal because the zoning legislation to authorize a subsidiary of the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies to build a billion-dollar casino is part of an appropriation package. According to state law, appropriations — or spending allowances — cannot be decided by voters at the ballot box.

Lawyers for community groups the Maryland Jockey Club, which financed a successful referendum effort to challenge zoning approval for Cordish Cos. to build the state's largest slots casino, appealed the decision to the state's highest court.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has issued a statement supporting "the right for the people of Anne Arundel County to have their voices heard on whether slots should be located at Arundel Mills Shopping Mall."

“I have always preferred that these slots locations be limited to race tracks, but this is a local zoning issue that should be decided by the people of Anne Arundel County, just as Marylanders overwhelmingly approved the slots referendum in 2008," O'Malley said.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 2:13 PM | | Comments (0)

July 16, 2010

AFL-CIO backs Conti for Arundel exec

One of the region’s largest labor unions has endorsed the Democratic candidate for Anne Arundel County executive.

The Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO announced its endorsement of businesswoman Joanna Conti Thursday night, according to a press release from the Conti campaign.

Read our print story on other metropolitan council endorsements.

“Joanna’s background and her clear vision for the future of Anne Arundel County makes her exactly the kind of candidate we look to support,” said executive board member Tim Goins, who is also the executive vice president of UFCW Local 27. “Our local unions look forward to working with her candidacy and with her as the next county executive.”

Continue reading "AFL-CIO backs Conti for Arundel exec" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties

BaltCo citizen sign complaints skew toward Ehrlich

One Baltimore County supporter of Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for governor has filed a federal lawsuit over his right to display a political sign, and others complain that the Democratic county administration seems more vigilant about enforcing the rules on Ehrlich signs than those for his likely November opponent, Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley. So what do the records show?

A check of the political signs complaint files kept at the county’s Department of Permits and Development Management shows a great preponderance of Ehrlich over O'Malley, but department chief Timothy M. Kotroco says that's a reflection of who is making the complaints to his department. He said sign code enforcement is driven strictly by complaints.

It's early yet, but as of last Friday, 19 files had been opened on complaints about political signs. Of those files, 15 involved Ehrlich signs, one involved a combination sign for Republican District 6 County Council candidate Ryan Nawrocki and Ehrlich, one concerned an O'Malley sign and in two cases the content of the sign could not be determined from the file.

Continue reading "BaltCo citizen sign complaints skew toward Ehrlich" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 1:29 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: In The Counties

July 14, 2010

BaltCo: Gardina gives Kamenetz East Side boost

Baltimore County Council member Kevin Kamenetz, whose base of support for his campaign for county executive resides on his home west side of the county, has just picked up his second endorsement in the east side stronghold of his chief opponent, council member Joseph Bartenfelder, as councilman Vincent J. Gardina announced his support on Wednesday.

Gardina, who has represented the area from Towson to Essex for 20 years in District 5, joins John Olszewski of the southeastern District 7, who endorsed Kamenetz weeks ago. Kamenetz, of Owings Mills, represents District 2, on the west side.

The longest serving member of the council, Gardina said in an interview that he's been acting as a campaign adviser to Kamenetz, and admires his colleague's ability to make decisions and offer innovative approaches to county problems.

"I like both candidates, I like both of them as people," said Gardina. "Only Kevin I think is capable of leading the county."

Continue reading "BaltCo: Gardina gives Kamenetz East Side boost" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 6:40 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

BaltCo: Building trades union supports Bartenfelder

Baltimore County executive candidate Joseph Bartenfelder can make another entry to his list of labor endorsements, as the Baltimore Building & Construction Trades Council -- an organization of 15 locals -- announced its support on Wednesday.

Leonard "Bud" Schuler, vice president of the group that includes the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 486, the Painters District Council 51 and the Teamsters Local 311, said the 15-member executive board's vote was based largely on the experience of working with Bartenfelder during his 16 years on the County Council, and before that when he served in the Maryland House of Delegates.

"Nothing against Kevin," said Schuler, referring to Bartenfelder's chief opponent for the Democratic nomination, fellow council member Kevin Kamenetz, "but Joe has been our go-to guy since he's been in the General Assembly."

He could not specify anything Bartenfelder had done to support organized labor, but he described Bartenfelder — whose family runs a farm in Fullerton — as a "middle of the road type of politician. He respects business and labor."

Continue reading "BaltCo: Building trades union supports Bartenfelder" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties

July 13, 2010

District Dem slate backs Almond for Kamenetz's seat

Longtime Baltimore County community activist and County Council candidate Vicki Almond got a boost Tuesday in her first run for elected office, as she was endorsed by a foursome of Democratic state legislators running as a District 11 slate: Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Dels. Jon Cardin, Dan Morhaim and Dana Stein.

"She's been working with us for so long," Zirkin said in an interview. "She's been added to our slate and we're putting all our resources behind it."

Zirkin gave Almond -- who is running for the District 2 council seat being vacated by Kevin Kamenetz, a candidate for county executive -- credit for years of work with community organizations in the northwest part of the county, including the Parent-Teachers Association, the Reisterstown/Owings Mills/Glyndon Coordinating Council, the Rosewood Advisory Council and the Police Community Relations Council.

"She's been a part of our team forever," said Zirkin.

Continue reading "District Dem slate backs Almond for Kamenetz's seat" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 7:46 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: In The Counties

Bartenfelder gets two more union nods for BaltCo exec

This post has been updated to reflect a new endorsement from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 37

Days before their umbrella labor organization is due to announce its endorsement in Baltimore County elections, the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 37 have endorsed Joseph Bartenfelder in his race with fellow County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz for the Democratic nomination for county executive.

The two unions representing about 3,500 workers in Baltimore County have joined several other locals affiliated with the Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO in making its endorsement before the council. The organization with some 180 affiliated locals is not expected to announce its choice until Thursday.

Check out our story on how union endorsements may break toward Bartenfelder this week.

Continue reading "Bartenfelder gets two more union nods for BaltCo exec" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:23 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: In The Counties

Even in pieces, big Ehrlich sign breaks county rules


You have to give Keith Stouten credit for trying, even if his cutting maneuver with a large Ehrlich for Governor sign may still run afoul of Baltimore County rules.

Last month, the Dundalk man who owns Stouten's Bear Creek Marina received a notice from the county that he had to remove the 4-by-8-foot campaign sign from his front porch on Wise Avenue because it was four times too big for that particular area, where political signs are limited to 8 square feet. He said he did a bit of research and came up with what seemed a solution.

"I thought I'd have some fun with it," said Stouten. "I took a razor knife and cut it into four pieces I knew would be 8 square feet" each.

Then, spacing the four panels a few inches apart, he mounted the sign back on the porch rail, where it once again announced his support for Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who hopes to unseat Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in November.

Continue reading "Even in pieces, big Ehrlich sign breaks county rules" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:58 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: In The Counties

July 12, 2010

GOP consolidating dominance in Harford

Less than two decades ago, Democrats held nearly every elected office in Harford County. How the times have changed: Republicans have long since come to dominate the county; this year, Baltimore Sun colleague Mary Gail Hare writes, Democrats aren't even challenging for many key offices this year.

There is no Democrat is running for county executive or County Council president. The party is challenging for only three of the six council seats up for election. A Republican state senator who was appointed to his seat in 2007, meanwhile, has no challenger in the primary or general election.

"This is the culmination of a trend reflecting the growing weakness of Democrats in Harford County," Avery Ward, dean of behavioral social science at Harford Community College, tells Hare. "Republicans started gaining strength in the 1980s, especially when a lot of young voters joined the party. There also was a strong local leadership building the party. We have seen a striking shift in power over the last 25 years."

Read Republicans solidifying dominance in Harford at

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)

June 17, 2010

Laborers endorse Kamenetz for BaltCo. exec

The union representing some 2,000 construction and maintenance workers who live in Baltimore County on Thursday endorsed County Council member Kevin Kamenetz in his bid for the Democratic nomination for county executive, Baltimore Sun colleague Arthur Hirsch reports.

"He's very thoughtful, he asked a lot of questions" during several interviews, said Jayson Williams, political director for the Laborers International Union of North America, which claims a half-million members in all 50 states and Canada. "He's an energetic policy wonk."

Between 100 and 200 members of Locals 710 and 572 turned out at the hiring hall in Overlea Thursday afternoon for the announcement of the endorsement of Kamenetz, who is running against County Council member Joseph Bartenfelder for the party nomination in the primary on Sept. 14. A lone Republican, former House of Delegates member Kenneth C. Holt, is also running.

Williams said in an interview later that Kamenetz has "laid out a vision of how to put people back to work," including support for contract policies that would look beyond the lowest bid to the "best value" for the county. That system would allow points to be awarded for bidders who finish work on time, on budget, who hire local workers, provide health care and other benefits to their members, Williams said.

Kamenetz said in an interview later that the "best value" system would mean "the low bid alone would not be the sole factor" weighed, allowing officials to consider other factors. "Is the employer from Baltimore County? Would the project create economic spinoff to Baltimore County residents?"

Members of Local 710 perform highway and bridge construction and maintenance work such as the construction now going on at the Interstate-95 interchange in the east of the county; those in Local 572 are public employees who work in maintenance departments and as truck drivers.

Continue reading "Laborers endorse Kamenetz for BaltCo. exec" »

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 3:02 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010, In The Counties, People
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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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